Monday, 31 July 2017

Geocaching with friends

Had our first walk out geocaching today for quite a while.  One of our friends was interested in getting started with geocaching, so we went out with our children today to show her the ropes.  Our first of the day was Sweets Round 16.  A nice, quick find for our 8 year old, showing the others what to look for.

Nos. 15 and 14 we let our friends hunt for as we'd already done those.  Our next to get was 13.  At first we went the wrong way, then worked out where we had to be. A quick spot by our 6 year old for this one.

No. 12 we decided to look for, despite many DNFs now on the logs.  Found the suspect(s) but nothing there. Even had a little dig around to check under leaf litter but no joy.   No. 11 was an easy spot for all the children as it was out in the open. We therefore covered it a little more to hide it better.  We spotted these lovely butterflies/moths (no idea which) all over some yellow flowers.  Anyone tell us what they are?

Swarming with these butterflies/moths - but what are they?
No. 10 was another quick find for our 6 year old who certainly has her cachers eyes on today!  Signing these all as a 'team' today as our friends are going to set up their own geocaching account.  No. 9 was a great spot for our friend. We were all hunting in all the wrong places and then realised that the logs said that the GPS was accurate.  

So our friend L went in to hunt and spotted the cache. Here she is delighted with her very first 'full find' - and jolly well done too.  I think she could be hooked now!  We also came back with a huge carrier bag full of golf balls.  Seems the golfers are very careless and lose a lot of them.  The girls loved collecting them along the way.  Double fun.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Smiggle - pretty, but is it practical?

My girls, like many others across the country, have become obsessed with Smiggle products.  I'm not really sure why, other than the fact that they all seem to 'smell' and are often quite over-priced from a parent perspective.  However, as they are good at saving up their own pocket money, this is where they choose to spend it.


Pencil case


We have quite the collection of Smiggle items.  Some of which I don't object to, such as the rucksacks which are £21 each and are a great size and even have space for a 15" laptop in a separate compartment (not that they have such a thing mind).

The water bottles are nice too with the big selling point to children of the 'spray' feature.  Great for hot summer days at school.  However, I'm doubtful of their durability if they were dropped as they seem to be designed of shattering plastic (say a few friends whose children have had them).

New lunchbox

One of my daughters takes a packed lunch daily to school and just before the start of term 2 this academic year, we bought her a Smiggle lunch box.  It was a nice size, carrying handle, separate compartments, knife/fork holder (if you have a baby knife/fork only though) and, of course, she said it had a lovely smell.  It's also relatively well insulated.  However, after only 2 terms use, it is beginning to wear out at the bottom. She certainly doesn't drag it around so how it's got like this is mystifying.  It sits in her school rucksack and then sits on a shelf in the class until she takes it to lunch. It's then put back in her rucksack until it's time to go home!

2 terms of use and it looks like this!
Yesterday, she wanted a fidget spinner from Smiggle, which, again, she purchased with her pocket money.  This cost £5 and lasted....1 hour!   By the time we got home and she played with it for an hour, it was broken. I'm very unimpressed by this and now have to go back into town, and pay for parking (Woking won't even give you 30 minutes for free!) to take this stupid piece of plastic back. Not a happy mummy.

Broke in 1 hour - dangerous
So, whilst Smiggle do some nice things, I question their longevity and whether I will really be letting my girls buy things in there any more.  They've had Skip Hop lunch boxes and rucksacks that are now nearly 7 years old and still going strong with almost no signs of wear, despite being used day in, day out, taken geocaching, outdoor learning with school, etc.  I somehow doubt the Smiggle stuff will be around after that length of time.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

100% attendance awards

Is it just me or are other parents getting a bit annoyed with these 100% attendance certificates/awards at school?

You see, I have an issue with this for a few reasons.

Firstly, children have a habit of catching things that happily spread around a classroom.  This can range from head lice to stomach bugs.  Whilst the former is no reason to be off school, the latter involves a minimum of 48 hours away.  This means that attendance drops below 100% but hey, what can you do about that?

Secondly, sometimes schools have to close for a reason.  This year, our school shut completely one Friday afternoon due to over 50% of KS1 children being off with a vomiting bug.  They were literally vomiting in corridors!  Therefore, although this is marked on the attendance report as a school closure, it has affected attendance. How can that even be the case?

Thirdly, to hear my little children worry that they won't get their 100% attendance certificate due to illness frustrates me no end.  I am fortunate in that my girls are basically very healthy and one has got 100% attendance (bar my 2nd point) and one had 48 hours off school with a sickness bug this academic year. So, in effect, they've done brilliantly. However, there are parents at the school with children coping with a range of severe illnesses.  How do these poor children feel when they are presented with bits of paper to say their attendance hasn't met the standards?

We all know that parents who make the effort to get their children to school will always do so, through coughs and colds and those that are always late or take their children out for any old excuse will also always do so.  I understand that attendance awards are supposed to keep everyone motivated but let's face it, those of us who are motivated are so naturally and a piece of paper saying our child had 100% attendance for a month isn't having any impact on us at all, as I'm sure it's not when other parents get a piece saying that their child's attendance is low.

Perhaps schools could think about scrapping attendance awards as I wonder what real benefit they have?

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Turandot at the Royal Opera House

It's been on my 'bucket list' to go to an opera at the Royal Opera House and now that's been achieved.  Hubby and I had a fabulous time today at Turandot.  The staging, singing and production were just stunning!

The ROH are offering everyone to see Turandot live at a screening on 14th July at 7.30pm.  It's worth it!

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Graduation Day - Trust me, I'm a Doctor

Yesterday was my graduation.  A bit worrying as the weather had folded somewhat and as we all arrived at university, it literally tipped down. Oh well, not much you can do about that.  Headed in to collect my tickets and get 'robed' and as I came out from there, the rain stopped and we got to take some photos outside.

Had I have known just how far I needed to walk, I wouldn't have worn high heels.  We processed through the picture gallery and chapel, after walking around the quad, then did it all again as we were formally presented to the Principal.  My aching feet!  If I'd been wearing my FitBit, I'm sure it would have buzzed to say my 10,000 steps were done.

Cheesiest grin ever!
After the event, we had drinks and a lovely catch up with my sister-in-law and nephew, along with some official photographs of the whole School of Management graduands for 2017.

Graduation was a wonderful, fun day and I loved every minute of it.  You can spot us PhDs in the red/burgundy robes (wonder what their real colour name is?) along with staff at the bottom of the steps.

Guess what?  The rain held off until the moment we were halfway back to the car park.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Warner Bros Studio Tour - Harry Potter

Now that my two youngest have seen all the Harry Potter films (maybe somewhat controversially as the later ones are age 12 but hey, I know my children), I decided to take them to Leavesden Studios for the Harry Potter Studio Tour.  

They had no idea at all that they were going so it was a big surprise when we turned off the motorway and headed to the studios. They thought they were going to have a look around a studio (as we have family and friends who work in that business) so as we turned in and they saw the signs for Harry Potter, they were beyond excited.

The tour was fantastic. I've been before when it first opened (see this blog piece) but now they also have the Forbidden Forest area, you and 'leviosa' a broomstick, and you can sit in the Weasley's flying car any time you like in the back lot.

There's also the chance to go into Harry's house in Privet Drive and, of course, butterbeer is on sale (we didn't try this).

You can also get to Platform 9 3/4 and board the Hogwarts Express.  There is a carriage dedicated to every Harry Potter film with some props in it.  

It was a wonderful day out. My only minor criticism would be that whilst all the broomstick flying against green screens was going on - and each section was being used - where you purchased the photographs and DVDs wasn't fully manned, which meant a bit of a wait with children who were starting to get impatient.

Of course we popped to the shop afterwards and cuddly toys were purchased.  Definitely worth a second visit if you had gone before the new attractions as we had.