Reliving Childhood Memories With The Singing Kettle

Growing up, going to the theatre was a big part of my life. My mum would take us to the local arts centre – the Macrobert in Stirling – to see kids’ shows and in the summer holidays, we’d go along to drama workshops. Later, my brother and I joined Forefront Children’s Theatre where the pinnacle of my theatrical career was being the front end of Daisy the Cow in Jack and the Beanstalk – oh and in one show I got to sing a solo verse of the Les Mis number Master Of The House. Idina Menzel ain’t got nothing on me!

Looking back, I have so many memories tied in with children’s theatre and live shows (like the time we went to see Glen Michael’s Cavalcade live – that will probably only mean something to Scottish people) but one show we went to see time and time again was The Singing Kettle. From a young age, we’d go to see Cilla and Artie do their live shows and we had their tape (back in the days before CDs) so listened to their songs like Apples And Bananas, Train To Glasgow and Ye Cannae Shove Yer Granny Off A Bus over and over again, at home. SO excited that it’s available on iTunes now.

The Singing Kettle

Amazingly, The Singing Kettle is still going strong (although Cilla and Artie have stepped down from performing and now have creative roles behind the scenes) and they’ve got a Scotland-wide tour coming up soon that runs until October. I’m tempted to book a flight to Glasgow with my three-year-old and book tickets for the jungle-themed Eastwood Park Theatre show on 30th August. She would LOVE the songs, the humour and the bright colours. If you’re tempted too, you’d probably get a good deal at the Holiday Inn Glasgow Airport hotel and it’s not too far to travel to the theatre. You could even go a few days early and get the train through to Edinburgh to catch the tail-end of the Edinburgh Festival too – there are LOADS of fun shows and activities for kids happening there.

• Thanks to Holiday Inn for sponsoring this post. For details on how I work with brands, see my Work With Me page.

Bluestone National Park Review: We Loved It!

Bluestone Wales review

If you’re looking for a fun, relaxed UK family break, Bluestone National Park in Wales should be right up there on your list. Set in the Pembrokeshire countryside, Bluestone is a huge resort with eco-friendly wooden lodges surrounding a small ‘village’ area with shops, places to eat, spa and a play area. A short walk away is a huge activity centre and a leisure centre style swimming pool. We recently spent four nights there and we loved every minute.

Why it’s amazing, in a nutshell

Bluestone National Park offers something for families with kids of all ages – so whatever stage your family is at, there’s loads to do. For younger kids (like our three-year-old) there’s the outdoor play area, soft play zones in the Adventure Centre and activities like messy play and puppet making. For older kids, there’s archery, climbing walls, a tree-top obstacle course and a 40ft zip wire and kayaking. For all ages, there’s the swimming pool with flumes and a fun toddler area. It’s beautiful to walk around, with wild flowers and forest paths and there’s a big selection of eating places. Oh and it has a fab spa to relax in too.


What’s the accommodation like?

The lodges are all modern and clean – our Caldey Lodge was semi-detached (with an adjoining door which would be handy if you knew the family next door) and had an open plan kitchen/living/dining area with patio doors that opened out onto a paved and grassy area with a wooden picnic table. We had a bathroom (with bath, although not all lodges have them, so if you have a baby or toddler to bathe, be sure to ask for a bathroom) and two bedrooms. It was the perfect base for our holiday – lots of room to do jigsaws and play, comfy leather sofas to snuggle on watching CBeebies before bed, and a great space for cooking and eating. The decor is all a bit beige and safe, but suited the wooden eco lodges. Continue reading

Oh Brilliant Bookbuggy!

Sometimes, as a parent, you come across genius ideas that you want to shout about and let every other parent know about. This happened a lot to me when I was a new mum – discovering new things that made my life a bit easier happened a lot back then.

First there was the Snoozeshade – I met Cara who invented the product and started the business at The Baby Show in London and bought one there and then. Then there was the Bebe au Lait feeding cover, which saved my blushes as I breastfed my daughter in Starbucks (I never could do it subtly, I always had to wang them out for every other mocha-drinking customer to see). I even remember waxing lyrical about Gap baby socks – the ONLY brand that I found stayed on my little baby’s little feet. Every other brand wriggled its way off her foot and ended up dropping to the ground outside Sainsbury’s.

And now, Bookbuggy is a discovery that I find myself wanting to tell everyone about. Bookbuggy is a website that sends you a personally curated pack of children’s books every month. Set up by couple Mehmood and Jyoti, who are parents to their son, Dara, Bookbuggy is something you can sign up to for three months or twelve months, or even just buy one month’s worth to try it out.

When you register, you fill in details about your child – age is important of course, but you can also tell them what the child loves, things they enjoy doing, books they have loved reading in the past – pretty much anything you like. It all helps them build up a picture of your child and send books that they think will be loved. Then they send you a package with three to four books in. The books’ RRP will never be less than the price you pay and if you receive a book you’ve already got? Just give it to a friend and Bookbuggy will send you a different one. For real!

Mehmood and Jyoti pride themselves in curating fantastic must-read books and when your books arrive (in gorgeous packaging) they flag up to you which skills each book will help develop in your child.

We were asked to trial Bookbuggy, and the books we received were brilliant…

Bookbuggy books

We got Lucy Ladyburd by Sharon King-Chai, Julia Donaldson’s Jack and the Flum Flum Tree and 100 Things by Mayayuki Sebe. I could tell immediately we’d love them all – isn’t it funny how you just sometimes know?

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Our Favourite Children’s Book

Like most parents of three-year-olds, we get through a lot of book reading each week. My current favourite book to read at bedtime is Wake Up Do, Lydia Lou!
by Julia Donaldson – it allows me to put on my very best scary ghost voice and my daughter LOVES to make the “Oooooh!” noise with me. Her number one favourite book, however is The Gruffalo also by Julia Donaldson) and we read it at least once a week. We don’t even need the book, now, we both know it off by heart.

What is it about The Gruffalo that kids and parents love so much? It could be that the mouse (the underdog) outwits the three ‘baddies’ (the snake, the fox and the owl) and the Gruffalo that appeals to me. For my three-year-old, I think it’s the repetition of the story she loves – each time the mouse meets a creature, the conversation is similar, with a few key differences. And of course, when we watch the animation of the book, with the haunting music and fantastic voice acting, it brings it all to life in such a magical way. I get goosebumps every time I hear the opening music.

Our favourite part of the book is when the mouse comes face to face (or face to foot, since he’s so small) with the Gruffalo…

“What’s a Gruffal – Oh.”

That’s when my daughter puts on her best deep, gruff voice and says: “You’ll taste good on a slice of bread!”

So it seemed obvious that when Heinz asked bloggers to spell out their favourite children’s book quote in Alphabetti pasta, we chose this line. And also! Alphabetti DOES taste good on a slice of bread (well, toast) so it is apt.



I’ve got strong memories of eating Alphabetti as a child. Back then, I had so much fun spelling out my name (oh OK and vaguely rude words like “willy”) and now that my three-year-old is recognising letters and enjoying spelling her name, it’s a fun, quick snack for her. No rude words from her yet, thankfully.

What’s your favourite children’s book at the moment?

Psst! This blog post is an entry into the Tots100/Heinz competition to support Children’s Book Week.


10 Photos Every Parent Posts On Instagram

Are you a parent? Are you on Instagram? I’ll bet you’ve uploaded a few of these photos… drink a shot for every pic you’ve posted (kidding! Or, you know, not…)

1. The much-needed morning caffeine hit

Whether you’ve had a disturbed night because of a little person, or your kiddos just like to get up at 4.45am EVERY MORNING, that first morning #mycuppa is the best.

2. The (often rare) night out selfie

When I post this kind of pic, I’m thinking ‘Look at meeeee! I’m wearing heels! I’m going out!’ It’s one of those moments you just have to share with the world, right?

3. Kids’ shoes

They’re so small. And cute. How can we not add them to Insta-history?

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