#Win Alternative Easter Gifts for Cool Kids

Cool stuff kids march

It is always good to have alternative Easter gifts up your sleeve, that aren’t chocolatey…I have some to win too!

Okido is the arts and science magazine for kids. I had banned kids’ magazines in our house because they are generally impossible to actually write on with any pen known to humans, a bit rubbish, focussed soley on telly watching, pink/blue, covered in plastic tat, expensive, insulting, boring and lacking in anything that is going to set my children’s minds on fire.

How refreshing then to receive Okido. Beautiful pages you can write on, lovely layout, bright colours, colouring pages you would want to colour, art, cooking, science ideas. The stories, poems and illustrations explore emotions beautifully. Continue reading

Leappad Ultra reviewed


Seven year old Miss L was lucky enough to get a Leappad Ultra to try out this Christmas. I will admit I was dubious about them. Many people had said to me, just buy a tablet. But saying that I think there are problems with giving kids tablets too.  I have friends who rave about the Leappad, particularly those who are  less tech-savvy themselves. So if you are thinking about investing here are the pros and cons as I see them: Continue reading

Hey *tartle* Lolo! Don’t be a Mouton Enrage – give the gift of a language course

I am feeling a little bit mouton enrage today, (French for someone who loses their temper, literally an ‘enraged sheep’. Too much to do, overtired kids, and not enough time. The language course provider Rosetta Stone sent me these crackers and I haven’t even had chance to make them because this time of year is bonkers.

If you are fed up of jokes in Christmas crackers, and fancy livening up Christmas dinner then take a look at Rosetta Stone’s alternative cracker inserts, ten cut out unusual words picked from languages around the globe.

The dog woke me for some silly reason at 5.30 and as we wandered though the dark house to see if he needed a wee in the back garden, (he didn’t), I had a distinct feeling of Hira Hira. Japanese for the feeling you have when you walk into a dark and decrepit old house in the middle of the night. I feel like stuff is caving in on me, the Christmas tree was the final straw, the house is overflowing.

I’ve lost my Yupinalle too, or the kids have hidden it down the sofa. Swedish for mobile phone, literally, yuppy teddy, like a security blanket.

Anyway, only 3 days of school left and then I hope we will have the time and energy to make these lovely crackers.

I love the word Tartle, I do it alot. It is Scottish for hesitating when you are introducing someone whose name you can’t remember. Only the Welsh could have a moment for the sound the grandfather clock makes before it chimes, and what a beautiful word it is too, Gwarlingo. I imagine there will be lots of Poronkusemas on Christmas Eve, Finnish for the exact distance a reindeer can travel without a comfort break.

Anyway my point is, language, it is beautiful and it makes a fabulous gift. Rosetta Stone offer language courses on CD Rom and online. The software is interactive and can be downloaded on two different computers for use by up to five people, making it easy for a couple, or family to follow a language course together.

I have been threatening to learn Italian for sometime. Rosetta Stone kindly sent me a six month trial of their Italian language course, so next time we go to Italy I can do more than order coffee and pizza, badly.

Here is the pdf of the cracker inserts in case you fancy livening up the conversation over Christmas.


If like me you were wondering why Rosetta Stone…

The Rosetta Stone is an ancient Egyptian granodiorite stele inscribed with a decree issued at Memphis in 196 BC on behalf of King Ptolemy V. The decree appears in three scripts: the upper text is Ancient Egyptianhieroglyphs, the middle portion Demotic script, and the lowest Ancient Greek. Because it presents essentially the same text in all three scripts (with some minor differences among them), it provided the key to the modern understanding of Egyptian hieroglyphs.


Post in collaboration with Rosetta Stone.

Learning a language with la familia

What’s Spanish for apple juice Mummy?

Overheard at our house: When can we go back to Spain Mummy?

Alexander Residence blog was born on a sun lounger in Spain in 2010. I’ve come a long way form my rambling diary entries about the art of holidaying with small children and it ‘taking a long time to get to Spain Mummy‘. But that holiday is still very precious to us all. Today’s commissioned guest post is full of reasons to learn Spanish as a family:

The plan to learn another language frequently features on people’s to do lists, especially as new forms of communication make the world feel even smaller, and the economic climate forces people to go that extra mile to get jobs. Sure, we all took French in school, or dabbled in German but can you really count that when you don’t even remember the words for ‘good morning’? Continue reading

Two little Vikings went out hiking…

An utterly magical day out at Sherwood Pines, Nottingham’s Forestry Commission site, with the Vikings and Saxons of the Regia Anglorum who create living history encampments around the UK and Conroi de Vey the Nottingham branch of Regia Anglorum.

I’ve seen a few living history groups in action, but I have never seen one get children so involved, or be so keen, not just to re-enact fights, but to talk about everything from food, to medicine, to coins, to needles, to burials. In fact while the battle was taking place, my two were busy learning how to make bread and grilling those left in camp for clues as to the missing silver cup.

All children got a sheet with details of the crime and suspects and were encouraged to quiz the camp residents. It was great fun and really helped to get everyone talking and learning quite effortlessly.

Of course the forest is a perfect setting, given that a Viking roadway, or the’ Dark Age M1′ was recently discovered in Nottingham forest. I thought it was a really moving reminder of the history of our land, the narration that accompanied the battle really drew this out.

I was torn away by the kids to the walkways in the forest to play in, the den building area and the cafe. I will have to go back for a quiet contemplation of the Saxons and Vikings part in history. I love forests!

I am joining the Where I Live linky over at The American Resident, click the button to travel there!

The American Resident

Top Tips for Parents of Gap Year Volunteers

Did you take a gap year? I never did, but I wish I had done something like it sooner. My trip to Ghana with Comic Relief to do some overseas volunteer work earlier this year was three days, but in the sense that it involved months of planning: for the trip itself and around social media and fundraising, I felt as if I had taken a sabbatical from my everyday life and it gave me a whole new perspective on life.

I would really like my children to experience what I did, I talk to them about it all the time. Original Volunteer, organiser of overseas volunteer work gap years around the world asked me what my tips for parents of gap year volunteers would be, I have to admit the beforehand the thought of them travelling made me feel a bit wobbly, but the research has made me feel a whole lot better about it, plus, we still have at least 10 years to go! Continue reading

Chocolate Soreen Baked Alaska


I have been wanting to make Baked Alaska since I got chatting to Emma at Science Sparks about science in cooking. I’ve been meaning to follow lovely Kerry of Science Spark’s recipe, the picture of her holding beaten egg whites over her head makes me smile. Then I found this recipe for Chocolate Soreen baked Alaska, I had to give it a go. But do check out Science Sparks for the Science bit, as this is such a genius recipe to cook with kids!

Chocolate Soreen is only available for a limited time. Chocolate Loaf is in Asda now, in Morrisons from 20th May for 3 weeks and Sainsbury’s from 23rd May for 3 weeks. You can always tweet (@SoreenHQ) check in with Soreen on facebook, or email Soreen who will let you know the nearest store it is in (feedback@soreen.com). Continue reading

Spring Online Week – helping more people become digitally capable

There’s more to being online than sharing pictures of your food, but it is fun and can spark some good conversations and memories.

As I sat and tried to explain social networks to my Dad a couple of weeks back, as I was Instagramming pictures of our pizza, it struck me quite how many online skills I have picked up that I take for granted. But it hasn’t always been like that, I remember my first fumbling forays online at university, feeling totally baffled by this beast called the internet. As a blogger I often find online baffling, but luckily I now have a great network of online friends who are just a message away when I need technical support.

So when E.ON asked me if I would like to help give something back to those who aren’t online, I jumped at the chance. I was quite stunned to learn there are 11 million adults in the UK without the skills they need to get online. Being online has opened so many doors for me, travel to other countries, job opportunities, parenting advice, friendship and involvement with charities and causes. It saves me time and money and is a constant source of inspiration and reference at my fingertips.

Spring Online week takes place from 22-26 April and E.ON want to get involved in helping people get online. E.ON is a Founder Partner of Go ON UK, a charity that aims to make the UK the most digitally capable nation in the world. People who are not online miss out on many social and employment opportunities. They miss chances to save money by comparing energy suppliers.

So I am joining E.ON employees at an Open House on Lister Gate, near the Broadmarsh Shopping Centre, in Nottingham, on Wednesday 24 April, they will be helping anyone who drops in to learn some basic online skills to get them started with the internet.

Anyone can come along, perhaps there is a friend, neighbour or family member you know who could benefit? Please come and say hello. The short 5-15 minute sessions will focus on:

  • What email is and how it works
  • How to browse the internet and find things that you are interested in
  • How to fill out forms and transact using personal information
  • Advice on how to stay safe online

I’m going along to chat to visitors about how my family benefit from using the internet. How Skype keeps my family together from Cheshire to Nottingham to London, how looking things up online helps me be a better parent, how networking online has led to job opportunities.

Keeping in touch with my brother and nephew online using Skype

Then there’s how much more relaxing ordering my shopping online is, rather than shopping with my 4 year old, and how online banking and shopping helps us to keep my spending in check. And how those people inside my computer, well they’ve become really good friends too!

Travelling to Ghana with Comic Relief and bloggers Mummy Barrow and Mammasaurus, I’m on the right!

Hope to see you, or perhaps someone you know there.

Sponsored Post


Easter Survival Pack

National Trust/ Simon Burgess

I’ve been sent some lovely bits and bobs recently which I thought might come in handy for the Easter holidays. Best bit is lots of it is free, or really cheap and can be ordered, or organised online. It’s the little things right? Continue reading

Our Blogger National Trust Day out.

© National Trust / Simon Burgess

The weekend before last, the whole family joined the National Trust, and some other blogger families at Nymans in Sussex for a day of finding out more about natural childhood.

During the 3 hour drive from Nottingham to Sussex I was quite content trying to catch up on twitter.. Mr A wasn’t having this.

‘Put your phone down and talk to me’ Continue reading

What were you like at School? Let the sparks fly!

I was thrown back into my school days recently by an email. When I stayed with Mummy Barrow the night before we flew to Ghana we realised Daddy Barrow’s mum had worked at my secondary school. After Ghana she mailed me to say she had remembered me to my old headteacher, at which point I panicked slightly. I still care, after 17 years what he thinks of me, and I have good reason to worry.
Continue reading

My local Comic Relief project – Stonebridge City Farm, Nottingham

Mr G and I were invited to look round Stonebridge City Farm, as a project partly funded by Comic Relief. Everyone in the UK is no more than 30 miles from a Comic Relief funded project. There are lots of projects in Nottingham which have received funding, choosing was tough, and in the end I was glad when it came down to project availability on the day we could visit. Continue reading