This month we have loved:-
* Visiting family for the weekend.
* Mummy getting to see Wicked! after years and years of waiting.
* Getting some structure back into our days after the chaos of the summer holidays.
* Eli being at preschool and Mummy getting to work in her new study.
* Daddy getting a new job and getting to work in his beloved home city of Liverpool.
This has been a month of big adjustments as our stage of life has changed and moved on. I feel like I spend most of my time driving backwards and forwards to school and nursery and then back for pick up and then out again for after school clubs. It has certainly meant I’ve needed to be a lot more organised!
The extra demands on us all mean that everyone has been tired and as usual with going back to school everyone has been full of cold which means we’ve mostly spent the month of September being grumpy.
We have managed to garner some precious time together though as a family, and have really been trying to make the most of our weekends now that both children are out of the house for the majority of the week.
One of the things we are really guilty of is not making the most of the area around us for days out. It seems strange but we are much more likely to travel further afield to visit an ‘attraction’ than to make use of what is right on our doorstep.
When we moved to the North West we were so excited at the thought of being able to visit the seaside whenever we wanted and being able to take the kids to the amusements and the fair every summer, and whilst we do go to the beach an awful lot, despite numerous promises to the contrary we haven’t once been to the amusements and we’ve only walked along the pier at Southport once, in January when we first arrived!
As it was the last weekend before everything closes up for the season I was determined that we were going to join the crowds and act like tourists; taking in everything that Southport has to offer.
The thing about visiting Funland, really, is that it doesn’t take much to please kids. A tub full of 2 pence coins and they were happily occupied for ages. Unfortunately Meg didn’t have much luck with the 2p machines but Eli hit the jackpot quite a few times.
Meg and Eli really enjoyed themselves and were more focused on how many tickets they could collect with the money they were given. They were very determined to win themselves some ice cream bubbles.
After we had exhausted the delights of the amusements we walked along the pier and bought ourselves some doughnuts to enjoy. The sun had come out by this point and it was just lovely to walk along at our own pace and take in the view.
Eli was desperate to catch the tram, as it’s something we see often when we are driving past the sea front so we caught the tram back up the pier, which he loved.
I think in total, the entire day cost us about £10 which is nothing when measured against the excitement of Meg and Eli. I really need to try and remember that simple days out can be just as effective as costly ones!
A Dangerous Inheritance by Alison Weir
Two women separated by time are linked by the most famous murder mystery in history, the Princes in the Tower.
Although I am a huge fan of historical fiction, Alison Weir is not an author I am all that familiar with. I read ‘The Lady Elizabeth’ a number of years ago but haven’t picked anything by Weir up since.
I was drawn in by the premise of this book however; the story of two women, Kate Plantagenet and Katherine Grey whose stories take place 70 years or so apart but who are both drawn to the mystery of what happened to the young princes in the tower during the reign of King Richard III.
Kate Plantagenet is the illegitimate daughter of King Richard III and we pick up her story as her father takes over the English crown. It was interesting having this perspective, as Kate saw King Richard as a loving father and is horrified when rumours begin circulating about all the horrible things he has done in order to secure himself the throne. Weir has largely based her story of Kate Plantagenet on supposition as little documentation survives which tells of her life.
Eighty years later, Lady Katherine Grey discovers some papers which belonged to Kate Plantagenet and is inspired to begin her own investigation into what really happened to the princes, amongst the backdrop of her own life as sister to the ‘traitor’ Lady Jane Grey, then during the reigns of Mary and Elizabeth.
I found Weir to be a rather long-winded writer although I don’t know if this is just because there are no chapters, just one section relating to Katherine Grey followed by a section relating to Kate Plantagenet and so on. That said, I found the stories of the two Katherine’s completely fascinating and I wish that Weir had focussed more on their stories rather than the mystery of the princes. A lot of Kate Plantagenet’s dialogue is solely about her quest to clear her father’s name and we don’t learn a lot about her, although Weir didn’t have much to go on and this is probably why.
Likewise, however, I think Lady Katherine Grey’s story is actually incredibly sad, but I was unable to feel much sympathy for her in the end as I felt like we never got to know her fully.
Additionally, Weir tries to connect the two women by introducing some ‘paranormal’ activity, such as when Katherine Grey finds a pendant which belonged to Kate and is overcome with feelings of inexplicable horror when she tries to put it on. I found this a little strange but was happy to roll with it initially although it never really went anywhere. Katherine Grey’s interest in Kate seems to wane a lot towards the end and there is no real resolution which was disappointing.
I wasn’t aware of this at the time of starting the book but Alison Weir has written a number of non-fiction pieces about what may have happened to the young princes and although the discovery of this afterwards may be colouring my review I can’t help but feel now that this story was just another platform from which to suggest her theories. As I said above, I think the two women’s stories could have stood alone without the need for the mystery of the princes to overshadow them.
It was an enjoyable book but I think that Weir overmilked the mystery of the Princes a little bit and it would have been a much more enjoyable read to just learn about the two women. That said, if you are a fan of historical fiction then it is a good book, and very interesting to boot, especially if you have been reading any of Philippa Gregory’s recent work as this is the other side of the ‘White Queen’ and ‘Red Queen’ stories which covers the story from the perspective of the Wydevilles.
I shared last week about Eli starting preschool, and marking the next major milestone in his journey towards starting school. It has been a rocky transition, for both me and him, with lots of unexpected tears at drop off time.
I don’t remember being this upset when Meg started school but I think this may have something to do with having Eli still at home. The thing that really strikes me is the silence. There is no little person chattering away, even if I was sitting and doing something else, I would still know that Eli was there, or that Meg was there by the background noise their presence provided. There is none of that now and I have found that incredibly tough!
Of course, I can’t keep Eli at home forever (much as I would like to) and I know that this is an important step for him, and me, because when he starts at school I will be completely child-free between the hours of 9am and 3pm.
Not only that but over the last month or two he has really grown up. There is nothing babyish about him now, he is a real, rough and ready to rumble, little boy, always with a grubby face, always ready to run and explore. He gets the freedom he needs at preschool and I know already of two friends he has made, which makes me feel very proud.
The best part of all of this, of course, is when we are reunited at the end of the day. Meg (in all her Year One grown-up-ness) has entered the phase where she will only tolerate a kiss from me in the morning but not a cuddle, and there is certainly no excitable greeting at the end of the day. To be honest I’m lucky if I get a word out of her until we get home!
Eli isn’t like that yet and the minute he sees my face through the preschool window he is up and running towards me with his arms thrown wide for a great big squashy cuddle. Which is just lovely.
Of course, for both Meg and Eli, in the comfort of our own home there are cuddles aplenty to be had. For me, for Daddy and towards each other when they are feeling generous, so we are taking the advice of Fairy and really trying to make the most of these precious times.
I can remember laughing at my Dad when he used to come over all whimsical and start commenting on how we had grown up in the blink of an eye but I have to admit that now I’m a parent I really see what he means. I can recall with perfect clarity the day we brought Meg home from the hospital; just this tiny, wrinkly, squawking baby, and I was positive for about two weeks that someone was going to knock on the door and tell me there had been some mistake, that actually, I wasn’t able to have this baby after all because she was much too perfect and now she’s in her second year at school and going on 15 some days…
Fairy have made a short video which is all about making the most of the precious soft cuddles we can have with our children. Be warned, it might make you well up a bit! It makes my heart squeeze to think that maybe one day Meg and Eli will be too grown up for them. I hope not.
If you have a child who has started in preschool or BIG school this year, then I hope that they have settled in well. It’s a huge step and I’m right there with any parents who are finding it hard…trust me!
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post.
We were recently sent the Beados Quick Dry Design Studio from Flair to review. It is a fun way to make beaded pictures using only the magic of water and the design studio is a starter set.
Included in the box is:-
* 500 x Beads
* 1 x Quick Dry Design Studio
* 1 x Tweezer pen
* 2 x Design trays
* 1 x Water sprayer
* 6 x Design templates
* 2 x Suction cups
* 1 x Display stand
* 1 x Connector bead
* 1 x Bead storage tray
* 1 x Instructions booklet
I thought this would be right up Meg’s street as we have had similar products in the past which she has enjoyed. It is aimed at children aged 4+ although Eli was equally as keen to have a go.
There are three double-sided design templates and you slide these under the design trays to assist with the creation of your picture. The trays are semi-transparent so you can easily see the picture underneath. Meg used the tweezer pen provided to place the coloured bead over the relevant place on the tray.
Eli couldn’t get to grips with the tweezer pen at all and I have to admit that I found it to be quite fiddly and preferred to use my fingers. Although he is a year younger than the recommended age, he grasped the concept very easily and only struggled with keeping the beads on his tray – they are very quick to move!
Once you have completed the picture, you use the water sprayer to spritz a light layer of water over the beads, and then place them underneath the drying unit for 15 minutes. NB: The unit requires 2 x AA batteries which are not included.
I could see that Meg was really dubious about how a bit of water would stick her beads together and she sat the whole 15 minutes just watching the fan and the picture, waiting to see what would happen. I loved how amazed she was when I slid the completed picture off the tray for her.
Once your designs are complete, you can use the stands or the suction cups to display them.
It does mention in the instruction booklet that the bead pictures work better if you spray them on both sides and leave them to set properly overnight and I would recommend doing this. Because the kids were so keen to see their creations, we only set one side and Eli had broken his within a few minutes by being too rough. I think they might have fared better given more chance to set.
Both Meg and Eli really enjoyed making their creations and Meg in particular was keen to use up the beads and design her own.
My only criticism of the set is that it doesn’t come with any permanent storage solution so if you don’t use all the beads up, you need to have an alternative place to put them afterwards as they come in small plastic bags in the box and they are very small so it’s not ideal to leave them in the tray provided in case they get knocked over. Good luck if that happens! You can buy a starter pack for £9.99 which includes some storage pods and these are designed to sit in the spaces on the drying unit but I think it would have been nice for these to be included in this set, otherwise you are looking at an outlay of nearly £30 just to have a way of drying the beads, and then storing them afterwards.
Overall though we would give this product the thumbs up. It is a great way of allowing children to be creative, the colours are bright and enticing and Meg in particular has enjoyed the opportunity to come up with her own designs using the beads.
Disclaimer: We were sent the Beados set for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are our own.