23 April 2014

A Review of Minotaur - Polka Theatre, Wimbledon

As a child, the theatre was a place reserved for very special occasions: the local pantomime for my sister's birthday, the ballet at Christmas and as we got older, the West End. My children have only been a handful of times, mainly because they are only just reaching a suitable age to sit through an entire performance.

When we were offered tickets to see a special performance for children at The Polka Theatre in Wimbledon, I jumped at the chance. We have never visited this particular theatre before, although I have heard many positive things about it. I knew that this would be a perfect introduction to theatre, particularly for my 9 year old boy.  

We were offered 4 tickets to see the matinee show of Minotaur (right up The Boy's street) so I invited my sister and The Boy's cousin (also 9) to join us.

Minotaur is described as:

'A dark and gripping high stakes adventure, especially for 8-14 year olds.'

The unusual fusion of a modern-day war story with Greek mythology, left us adults a little confused in places. Thanks to the Key Stage 2 national curriculum, the boys seemed decidedly unfazed - Greek Mythology is clearly on the rise! In my limited experience, it is unusual to find children's theatre at this level of professionalism - the performance had all four of us gripped from start to finish. It was mystical, captivating and extremely well acted. The set design was simple yet effective and the sound effects, along with the elaborate costumes, added to the intensity of the performance. 

We concluded that it had just the right level of fear and intrigue, well-suited to this age group. Being only just over an hour long, it was the perfect length to keep this junior audience on the edge of their seats. The Boy being one of few words, merely said "It was good!" but his enthused cousin went into a little more detail: 

"It was really good, I liked everything about it but especially when Ariadne stabbed the minotaur!" 

Both boys proceeded to spend the rest of the afternoon re-enacting this particular scene. Whilst slightly inappropriate for the changing rooms of UNIQLO on Wimbledon High Street, it demonstrated that 'Minotaur' had clearly made a huge impression on these two young reviewers.

But don't just take our word for it...

Minotaur is showing at The Polka Theatre, Wimbledon until 24th May 2014 with tickets being priced at £13.50. For more information, please contact the box office on 020 8543 4888 or visit the Polka Theatre website.

Disclosure: We were given 4 tickets to the press performance of Minotaur, at the Polka Theatre, Wimbledon.

 photo 457afedc-ad8b-48e4-9e95-3710e3866d09_zpscb00a1b7.jpg

22 April 2014

Getting Down with the Kids #Swag

As I nursed my poor aching back on Saturday evening - the result of a 2 hour stint in the garden - I wondered at what age such activities become unsafe; an inevitable submission to the ageing process proving necessary? I mean I'm only 42 and already, after one short afternoon in the garden, I feel (and look) like a 92 year old!

There is one area however, where I am definitely struggling to accept that I *might* be too old....

I know that ageing is inevitable but I have always secretly hoped that in this particular area, I would defy the process. OK not in my physical appearance (we've already established that is a lost cause) but in keeping up to date with the latest technology, or at least social media trend.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm pretty 'down with the kids' (my intensely "annoying" phrase of the moment). I have a healthy number of followers on Instagram, am totally 'au fait' with the purpose of a hashtag and use 'lol' correctly. For the record, it's 'laugh out loud' and not 'lots of love' as some of my comrades seem to think!

But this weekend it slowly dawned on me that some things could possibly be beyond my grasp....

Firstly, I learnt a new phrase - 'Swag'. According to the home tweenage dictionary (that's The Teenager and The Tween to you and me) it means 'cool' and is accompanied by a little hand gesture which I have yet to master. To be honest, I may steer clear of the hand gesture; to follow are just two reasons why:

The Tween recommends using 'swag' as a hashtag on Instagram, accompanied by a 'selfie' (it gets you lots of 'likes'). But here's the thing: apparently 'swag' becomes decidedly uncool when used by someone over the age of....well let's just say 'over the age' shall we?

The second thing I learnt this weekend, is that I use my IPad "like an old person". When quizzed as to what exactly this means, The Tween struggled to put her agony into words. When pressed, she revealed that it has something to do with the finger I use on the touchscreen and the manner in which I slide it across said screen. Really? Who knew that the dexterity of your finger movements could be an indicator of age?! Apparently so.

So dear reader, is it time to accept that I am slowly on the decline - not only in the physical sense but in the 'down with the kids' sense too? As a responsible *cough* mother of tweens and teens, at what point am I in danger of becoming a little too akin to Mr Cameron and Mr Johnson for my own good?!

How do you fair in this department? If #swag is at the top end of the scale and #awkward at the bottom end, where do you sit?

If you have a spare few minutes, we would love a vote in the MAD Blog Awards, where we happen to be finalists! Click here then scroll down to 'Best School Days'. Voting closes on 25th April.
Thank you so much x x

MAD Blog Awards

19 April 2014

The Week That Was / Project 365 Week 16

Week 16 and the second week of the Easter holidays. Thank goodness for sunshine! We've been trying to establish whether it's summer or winter here - shorts one day (that's the kids, not me) and fleeces the next. But we've had loads of time outdoors and some great opportunities to relax and unwind, which is what school holidays are all about in my opinion. I'm struggling to convince the kids though, with "what are we doing tomorrow?" still being asked daily *sigh*.

Here's our week in pictures....

1. A lovely afternoon at my cousin's baby shower. Plenty of fun and games, ending with a round of 'What's in the Nappy?'. My cousin and niece are trying to differentiate between curry paste and marmite here!

2. Our 'Favourite Place' has an abundance of bluebells at the moment. So pretty.

3. A fun day out at Chessington World of Adventures and I finally managed to conquer Cobra! I am currently running a fab competition to win £250 to spend at Chessington.

4. After much nagging from The wannabe vet Teenager, we finally bought 'It' a toothbrush. He wasn't impressed but clearly loved the liver-flavoured paste!

5. Another dog walk, made all the more appealing with the promise of an ice cream.

6. Another cooking lesson for The Boy and this week it's.....cake!

7. The Boy gave our flower bed a long overdue weeding session. He worked really hard and even made his dad a cup of tea at the end of it.

* * *

Apparently none of you were able to spot Reggie last week. Shame on you! Here he was, getting in on some cooking action....

Ok I know it was a tricky one. A little easier this week but that boy gets around so keep 'em peeled! Hope you all have a relaxing Easter break and remember: a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips!  Until next week...

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

17 April 2014

"I Hate School!"

My middle child doesn't really enjoy school. If you ask her, she will say that her favourite subjects are break and lunchtime. She "hates" maths and science, "sometimes likes" english and finds the boys in her class "immature and annoying." Get the picture?!

She isn't a natural 'learner', certainly not one who seems to soak up all the information like a sponge and if I'm being perfectly frank, is a little bit *whispers* lazy, when it comes to school work. I find this frustrating at times (as do her teachers) because I often look at her work, knowing that she could have done better. The bare minimum seems adequate for her but even as I type these words, I feel a bit guilty because I know that I was exactly the same at school. Perhaps that's why it's frustrating?

I'm being totally honest here when I say that for the first few parents evenings of her school life, I would come away disappointed. Don't we all secretly hope that the teachers will describe our 'little darlings' as the most talented or intellectually gifted child they have ever seen? Or perhaps that's just me....

Over the years I have realised that this is never going to be something that is said about my child. But that's ok because I still look forward to every parents evening. Why? Because The Tween is a pleaser and wonderfully helpful and kind to others. At parents evening I repeatedly hear sentences such as "she's the model pupil", "always so helpful and willing to please", "I know that when I give her a task she will just get on with it, without any fuss".

And I burst with pride, 'cos that's my girl they're talking about! 

This year she entered secondary school and I wondered whether she would just be a 'small fish in a big pond', with no one really knowing who she is. It's the academic ones that tend to stand out isn't it? At our secondary school they have a credits and warnings system (you can probably guess how this works) and as parents we can tap into the system whenever we like, to see how our child is doing. 

At the end of every term, they hold an assembly where the form and the child(ren) with the most credits are congratulated and invited on to the stage. The Tween came home on the last day of term with a certificate. She was one of only 6 children in the whole year (about 150) who had gained more than 200 credits so far this year. She seemed fairly non-plussed about the whole thing (hence the screwed up certificate left to rot at retrieved from the bottom of her bag!) but I can't tell you how proud I was.

Of course I would love to see a little more of this helpful, kind and 'willing to please' attitude at home (wouldn't we all?) but I'm thrilled that this is the kind of behaviour she displays at school. Why am I surprised that she can't keep it up 24/7?  She's got to let off steam somewhere and I would much rather it be at home (behind closed doors) than at school!

Today it's my turn to host 'Loud n Proud'. If you'd like to share a personal achievement or your child has done something you want to shout about (in a good way!) link up your posts below and grab the badge to display somewhere on your blog.

3 Children and It

16 April 2014

Chessington World of Adventures - Review and £250 Giveaway

Yet again, we struck gold! The Sun are running a fab campaign at the moment, whereby if you sign up to their Sun+ membership (digital entertainment bundle) you can grab yourself two adult tickets to one of the UK's top family attractions. We were fortunate enough to be offered free tickets to Chessington World of Adventures and with it being the Easter holidays, couldn't wait to get there!

Chessington - Fun for all the family.

Living fairly near to Chessington, we have already been a handful of times but not for a few years. The Boy has grown considerably since our last visit so it was lovely for all of us to enjoy every ride without fear of someone being under the height requirement. Having said that, there really are a lot of rides for children under 1.1m. It's definitely an attraction for all the family.

Despite it being the school holidays (meaning horrendously long queues), we managed to get on almost all of the rides on our 'wanted' list. A few of them had a 90 minute waiting time all day, from 11 am onwards. Our advice would be to get there before the gates open and head straight for Dragons Fury, followed by Vampire - the two biggest (and most popular) roller coasters. I would also advise taking some snacks. They do their best but there isn't much to look at in those queues and when the kids get cranky, a few handy snacks work wonders!

The food on site are varied and very reasonably priced so there's no real need to take a picnic in with you. We opted for the sit down pizza/pasta buffet which cost us £25 for 1 adult and 3 children with unlimited food and soft drinks.

Here's a little snapshot of our day:

Unlike other theme parks, Chessington is very manageable in one day and there is plenty to keep all ages amused.  I would suggest taking a change of clothes as you do get wet on quite a few rides, in particular the giant swings. I would also recommend that you stay as long as the park is open. We opted to avoid the traffic, but I understand from a friend that the queues quietened down a lot, during the hour before the park closed. 

We had a fabulous day out: lots of laughter, plenty of screaming (mostly from me) and oodles of fun. Thank you Chessington and The Sun for providing us with a whole day of entertainment during the school holidays.

Win £250 to spend at Chessington.

If you want to grab yourself some free tickets to Chessington then head over to Sun+ where you can pay just£1 for the first month's trial.  In addition to this great deal, The Sun are running a #Sunfessions competition. This is just a little bit of fun and a chance for you parents to get all of those confessions off your chest! The good news is that I have £250 to give away to one of you lovely readers, to spend at Chessington.

Here's what you need to do: 
  • Share your confession - a time when perhaps you didn't tell your child(ren) the absolute truth in order to get yourself out of a hole or to make your life easier! 
  • Write your confession in a comment below and then share it on Twitter or Instagram, making sure you use the two hashtags: #Sunfession and #3childrenandit. 
  • Complete the Rafflecopter below.
  • Head over to the Sun's site to see your 'Sunfession' appear.

I just added my confession:

"When my children were younger, on a particularly bad day I would set the clocks back an hour to make them think it was bedtime, when in fact it was only 6pm." Sorry kids! 

Please make sure that you follow all of the steps in order to quality. Good luck! 

The competition will close on Friday 2nd May 2014 when a winner will be selected via the Rafflecopter and notified in due course.

If you would like another chance to win £250 then head over to the following blogs: VevivosIn the Playroom

Disclosure: The Sun gave us 4 tickets to Chessington plus spending money, for the purpose of this review.

a Rafflecopter giveaway