Tag Archives: BBC

Review – In the Night Garden Live

2 Jun

I’m guessing every parent with a child under five is familiar with the names Igglepiggle, Upsy Daisy and Makka Pakka!

In the Night Garden is a pre-school production toddlers just can’t get enough of. Yes, it graces the television screen in our house on a daily basis! So… when I heard that the live show was due to hit the big stage I knew the O2 would be on our destination list for this June.

Luckily I got given a fantastic opportunity… One to review the live show which has easily been the toddlers highlight to his year so far.

So, on the 1st June 2012 myself and Harley, along with my sister and 2 year old niece headed down to the O2 to check out the much talked about Show, In the Night Garden Live!

There is two different shows to chose from, The Ninky Nonk show or the Pinky Ponk show, we watched the latter.

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The show itself is held within a specially designed enchanting show dome which is the perfect size, giving all children a perfect view of the stage. The whole experience has been designed to make it very child friendly and stress free, with buggy parking, baby changing & bottle warming facilities.

On arriving at the show dome you are greeted by giant inflatable Haahoos (these are located outside the dome so are free to see by all)! Inside the magic begins almost instantly. In-order to reach your seats your required to take a short walk through the beautiful lite dome, the sound of that all to familiar theme tune can be heard playing and children can be seen excitedly smiling and dancing about.

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I loved how the children were not restricted to their seats but instead had plenty of room to more around and dance.There were so many magical moments designed to capture your little ones imagination, music, lighting and a wonderful projection show are just a few pieces of magic on offer. This is a show that consists of full costumes as well as beautifully designed puppets. The story itself is design in the exact same way as that of the TV production only longer (show last almost one hour, perfect for little ones).

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Harley loved it when Makka Pakka was washing everyone’s faces then suddenly bubbles appeared everywhere. All the children could be heard giggling and cheering as they left their seats trying to catch the bubbles that were now flying above their heads. It was a wonderful touch that along with everything else made the whole experience very magical.

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When buying show tickets you are given the option to purchase a meet and greet experience with one of the characters. As we had complementary tickets I worried a little that we would be unable to purchase this additional treat on the day. However staff were brilliant and we were slotted in to meet with Upsy Daisy.

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The meet and greet session cost an additional £15 for a family of five. This is 3 children and two adults. With the Meet and Greet you are provided with a photo and given the opportunity to buy additional copies at a really reasonable rate.

There was lots of show merchandise on offer and I felt there was something to suit everybody’s pocket. These light up windmills cost just £6 which I found pretty reasonable. Plus the show programme which is RRP at £6 comes complementary with the price of your ticket which I felt was a really lovely touch, one that many parents will appreciate.

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I must also mention what a wonderful staff team they had working on the day that we visited. All were really helpful and great with the children. My niece had a bit of a dodgy windmill, one of the show assistants noticed, pointed it out and gave her another!

A truly wonderful day was had, it’s really hard to put into words how great a show this is. It’s for this reason I’ve created a video that shows the magic and enchantment of this wonderful show.

And here’s some news coverage on the event, including what the creator of the show has to say.

For show dates, time and ticket information visit the In the Night Garden Live website

In the Night Garden Live is showing at the O2 between the 24th May and the 9th June 2012

Disclaimer: This is not a paid review but we did receive a complementary family ticket to watch the show and share our honest opinion. All thoughts and words are that of my own.

Cooking up a treat with celebrity chef Simon Rimmer & One Products

15 Feb

I love reading other people’s blogs and often find myself In awe at not only the bloggers talented writing skills but their domesticated flair

There are some fabulously creative bloggers out on the blogosphere, many of them showcasing their show stopping foodie creations stunningly presented in some flawless images. I’ve always been honest when stating, as much as I am able to cook, I’ve never been one to make stunningly presented dishes, ingenious creations or well followed & recreated recipes! Something normally happens, that or I just don’t have the time, therefore sticking to what I know best. As for baking, well I’m simply what some would describe as a cake from the packet kinda momma, though I actually love cakes & desserts and always promise myself that I’ll brush up on them creative baking skills!

I do however blog the topic of food every now and then! This is often for one of the following reasons, I’m reporting  a close encounter with the London Fire Brigade, writing about chocolate either the complete lack or over indulgence of the stuff, or I’m reviewing a yummy supermarket buy!

So, you can only imagine my surprise when I received an invitation to come and cook with celebrity chef, Simon Rimmer (BBC Something for the weekend)! Ok, had someone called in a prank, nominated me for my yummy imaginative creation of chicken nugget surprise, as that’s all time will permit these days! Maybe it was something like that “Can’t cook won’t cook” show!

Actually, it was none of the above, you see Simon Rimmer would be demonstrating a few of his mouth watering creations and then myself and a few other lovely bloggers would recreate them under Simon’s watchful eye! The idea of this foodie get together was not only for the benefit of gaining some cooking skills or learning a new recipe or two, but also to learn about a brand that in-till now, I sadly had no recognition of.

One Difference’ is a brand like no other, a brand that has been created to actually make a real difference to others!

Seriously, I’ve never known it possible, yet there is a brand that actually does all that it does to benefit others! Producing a range of products only to donate 100% of its sales profits to charitable causes! Sounds, a tad far fetched doesn’t it?

Let me elaborate, One Difference, brings us a range of everyday essential products, One Brand’ that are sold via major retailers across the UK and internationally, to fund humanitarian aid projects across rural communities in Africa.

We were lucky enough to meet the brands director, ‘Duncan Goose‘ an inspirational man who shared some information on the brand and what it stood for. Products include the launch of, the ‘One Clever Loaf’ two unique varieties of sliced bread, due to launch later in the year! Through the sale of One Clever Loaf within the UK, start-up bakeries in Africa are funded to generate income for families as well as providing food for the communities they serve.   

Another product is that of ‘One Good Egg’ produced by selected British Lion EU certificated organic farms across the UK. These are three range, organic eggs RRP £1.99 with 100% profit being used to fund community egg farming projects in Africa. Communities are provided with hens, equipment and even training in hen husbandry, in order to provide protein rich nutrition for families, and a sustainable source of income!

One Good Egg’s are sold nationwide and are available from Tesco, The Co-operative and Ocado

Other products consist of, One handwash, One water, One toilet tissue, One Porridge, One Water and One plasters.

Duncan is also raising awareness for the HIV crisis in sub-Saharan Africa and is therefore donating much needed funds for life saving HIV programmes in developing countries, through the sale of the brands ‘One Condoms‘ with 100% profit going into the programme. They even sell glow in the dark condoms (which I thought was worth sharing, what with it being Valentines night and all that) :) 

Maybe I was actually invited for my eagerness to raise awareness for worthy causes as opposed to my talented kitchen skills, cough…cough…

Whatever the reason, I was pleased to be a part of it, and whole heartily impressed by not only the quality of these products (we used the eggs and bread within our dishes) but also what these guys stood for and the amazing difference they are making to the life’s of others.

On arrival at Battersea London, Simon was just gearing up to get cooking, some fabulous tips were given as he demonstrated how to create 3 dishes with the use of One Products. These were dishes I’d never even considered making at home (well, until now)! I could see the benefits of the day unfolding and actually felt pretty inspired to throw on my apron and get going.

Simon demonstrated 3 stunning dishes before we teamed up with another blogger and  recreated one ourselves (at least this way I wouldn’t be solely to blame for any kitchen mishaps or dodgy food)! Actually, all went to plan, we recreated, Chorizo Scotch Eggs with a Pepper Chutney and despite the fact I hate eggs, preferring to munch on just the sausage meat, I think it came out splendid. 

Before this great event came to an end, it was lovely to be able to sit and eat the dishes we had created along with a pudding Simon had put together, plus the welcome addition of some crisp rose wine and a good chat with some lovely bloggers.

To finish off, One Difference presented us with a beautiful woven basket containing some lovely One Products! We also got to keep the apron (to my little man’s delight).

I really did enjoyed the day, meeting celebrity chef, Simon Rimmer, the inspirational One difference director, the lovely PR team representing the brand and of course the great mix of fellow bloggers attending on the day. The greatest part was, not only did I take home some new skills, a new found sense of creativity, but also the discovery of a new brand that do this amazing thing of changing peoples lives!

When now shopping for bread and eggs, it will be great having the knowledge that the money made from my purchase will help change a families life… How amazing is that!

Please pop back tomorrow when I’ll  share the recipes of what we made on the day! Check out the images below for a tasty treat of what’s to come.

A great 2011 for A boy with Asperger’s

21 Dec

A boy with Asperger’s 2011

At the beginning of the year I wrote a two-part post covering all the stuff that had happened during 2010 (yes, seriously this took two post and most of it was nothing but bad happenings). So, looking back through 2011 and realising just what an amazing year’s blogging I’ve had, I just had to do it all again.

So here it is, the busiest year on the blog so far, A boy with Asperger’s 2011

January: Not the best month to be honest, we finally get that all important statement of special educational needs for Little man, only toilet paper would have been worth more. Nonetheless we fight to the depths of the earth and it’s amended later in the year and thankfully contains everything he needs thanks to those all important independent assessments & reports.

February: We finally get some good news, which I document in the post, “The end of a chapter” The mainstream school in-which Little man used to attend finally holds up their hands and we get that all important apology in writing, we therefore settle on the Disability discrimination case only weeks before the tribunal hearing. Another great high to February was the invite I received from Cadbury that saw me and a friend attend an excellent Adult only event (no not in that way) we actually tried to set world records doing normal household chores with a twist (making a bed, unravelling toilet rolls and more besides). This was also the month that I got to interview Colin an adult with Asperger’s who had a very interesting message for Mr Cameron.

March: This was a terrible month, the month that saw my eldest Little man (AKA, A boy with Aspergers) get punched in the stomach by a much older youth of eighteen, while playing at the park with a friend and his mother. Little man was just ten at the time and had said “The wrong thing” to a group of older kids, you can read the post “How could that hurt my little boy” for the full story. March was also the month I shared my concerns on the pending Green paper in the post “Aspirations or clever financial alterations

April: I’m contacted by the lovely Anna Kennedy in regards to her ‘Autism and bullying’ campaign, as a result of this little man appears in an ITV news report which I wrote about in the post “Little man’s television debut” which was perfect timing, what with it being autism awareness month. I also highlight how appearing on the television went to his head a little resulting in him asking everyone and anyone “Do you know who I am”

May: It was this month I wrote one of my favourite post to date “I’m no Vicky Pallord” I also discover that I’m nominated for a Mad blog award shortlisted in two categories, “Most inspiring blog” & “Blogger of the year”

June: Brings with it a fresh start for the Little man when the local LEA crave in before yet another tribunal, agreeing his place at his independent special school for children with autism and aspergers. This was also a really exciting month in the world of blogging, I was featured in two local papers, making front page news in “The Southlondon press” with the Headline “Mum sets blogging standard” & I was also featured in the “Newshopper” both highlighting the news that I had become a finalist in the Mad blog awards 2011. I also got to attend my first ever Cybermummy (blogging conference) and with it the blog received it’s first ever sponsor Londontown.com who paid for me to stay in a beautiful hotel on the night of the conference.

Nonetheless, although the above is all fabulously exciting, June was also a very emotional & overwhelming month, what with Little man adapting to his new routine and little sleep, it resulted in me writing this very open and honest post “falling apart

July: This was the month I started the Santa’s little helpers feature resulting in me working with some pretty spectacular brands, we were also invited to the multimedia screening of Mr Poppers penguins in London’s , Leicester Square. Alice-Sara brings her friend who are both  excited by the odd celeb spot. In the middle of the month me and the children attend the Pandemonium festival in Northampton to celebrate the release of kung-fo panda 2 as VIP guest of Cadbury. The children get to test the new mini games, Harley becomes obsessed by the panda himself and we eat lunch next to the ambassador of china (Yer, I was praying that Little man didn’t treat the guy and his family to a demonstration of a meltdown, “Asperger’s style”)! Myself and Harley my youngest also attended the Boots bump to Baby event in London’s beautiful Haymarket hotel where Harley took a shine to the lovely Rachel Stevens and the boots clothing range (from the pic below who would think his only 18 months here). July is also the month I treat readers to an up-date on the amazing progress Little man is making at his new school.

August: A busy yet crazy month as I celebrate the publishing of my three page article in the SEN publication (please check it out by clicking HERE if you haven’t already). Myself, youngest Harley, sister and her daughter get invited to the tots event of the year, “The lollibob” where we go VIP and the kids have a blast meeting the likes of Bob the builder, Peppa pig and Ben and Holly from the Little Kingdom.

August was also the month that saw chaos unfold in the devastating London riots. I organised a Lewisham riot cleanup on twitter with the use of the hash tag #lewishamriotclean and from then on everything went a little mad, what with being interviewed for the BBC breakfast show by Gabby in the back of a taxi on the way to Lewisham following a sleepless night due to the sounds of rioters looting the supermarket directly across the road. Then as myself and Little man (yes, he cleaned Lewisham too) stood in Lewisham with a dust pan and brush waiting for fellow locals who I’d rounded up with the help of social media to join us, I’m shocked to discover the BBC are there to greet us. Yes, they interviewed me and followed my progress throughout the day, I later cringed watching myself on the 6pm news, in a report that seemed to go on for ever. My use of the quote “Lewisham is cleaner than usual” following the councils own operation seem to be something of a hit and spread across the papers and internet like wide fire! The images of Little man clearing up outside JD Sports still melt my heart and make me mighty proud.

 

August saw us working with some great brands, Micro Scooter & Meccano to name just a few. Little man also has great fun testing sensory toys this month and I try to raise awareness for child mental health by opening up and writing “Just a Little girl

September: This is a month that holds some great memories for me, not only did myself and some of the other Mad blog award finalist find ourselves invited to TKMaxx London’s flagship store to choose evening dresses and accessories for the for the Mad blog awards ceremony but I also went on to win ‘Most inspiring blog 2011’ at the awards itself, which was held at the fabulous Talk-Talk experience centre in London’s Soho. Not only did I win, get to meet a host of other fab bloggers but I also experienced a great working relationship with my mad blog awards sponsor ‘OptiBac Probiotics‘.

With all the above going on I really don’t know how I managed to squash in one of my most popular post on the blog to date, “How well do you really know your child’s teacher

October: was a month that saw the blog working with some pretty big brands such as Sainsburys & Argos, I make two local papers again having been interviewed by the SouthLondon Press and the Newshopper on winning a Mad blog award! Little man takes over the blog, (well, kind of, he finally says how he feels in his first interview, for the blog) where he talks about his Asperger’s, discrimination, bullying, feeling different and acceptance, click Here to read.

November: I’m delighted to become a judge at the BBC Christmas ideal home show for the face of Argos competition which was an amazing experience. I’m invited to lunch by Sainsbury’s at the BBC NEC Winter food show where I also get to watch a live Master chef cook off, I have a great time and meet some awesome people at Liberty’s London when I attend a charity event and I also start working with the wonderful ‘John Crane’ and ‘When I was a kid’ check out the post ‘Joining Forces‘!

It was in November I wrote the post “Merlin’s Magical wand helping children benefit from the magic, well that is unless they have autism” which had 2,000 hits within a few hours and is the busiest post of 2011!

December: The last month of ‘Santa’s Little helpers’ I therefore launch the ‘Santa’s Little helpers, the big christmas countdown’ we feature loads of fantastic competitions with awesome prizes up for grabs. I also get invited onboard P&O ferries to take a trip from Dover to Calais alongside the lovely “Romanian mum where we shop till we drop, and to end such a fabulous year’s blogging, I’m lucky enough to be invited by the fabulous Tots100, to it’s big Christmas party at Butlin’s Bognor Regis where myself, friend and children get to stay in the beautiful Ocean hotel, though Little man finds the change a bit hard to bear.

Wow, there it is, what a year!

There’s been some massive ups and as you can expect one or two downs (what do you expect, this isn’t a fairy tale you know!) But you have to admit, it’s a massive improvement from 2010 that sadly along with 2009 saw much stress and heartache, which just proves, you never know what’s lurking around the corner!

I really do hope that ‘A boy with Asperger’s’ has provide readers with smiles, laughs, entertainment, inspiration, awareness and more!

Merry Christmas and a happy new year to all my amazing loyal readers
We love yer!

Christmas Inspiration at the BBC Good Food Show-Winter

7 Dec

18

Days till Christmas

I maybe a mum of three but when it comes to the kitchen side of things, I really could do with some inspiration. I’m not stating that I cannot cook, I’m just saying that I usually stick to what I know and I’m not all that big on experimenting.

So when Sainsbury’s invited me to the Good food show winter event at the NEC Birmingham, it was too big a learning experience to pass up.

Myself and a friend travelled up to Birmingham from London early on a cold Sunday morning, sadly we missed the lunch laid on by Sainsbury’s due to car trouble, but all the same, there was still plenty to see and do once there.

I’d never been to any of the BBC Food shows so was quite excited about the whole thing. On arrival at the NEC I meet up with Thomas who works for Sainsbury’s he showed us to the press area to get our press badges, we then headed off to check out this wonderful event.

There were literally hundreds of stands with a whole host of yummy treats on display, from cheese, to ice cream the aroma that filled the air was so inviting. With loads of things to try me and my friend headed for the sweet stands where we tried some beautiful mint nougat and wonderful cupcakes.

The Sainsbury’s village was dead impressive, there was so much going on including some really good live cooking demonstrations. Sainsbury’s were promoting their Taste the Difference range which was really centred around Christmas. I love Sainsburys and know for sure it will be the place where I stock up on Christmas munch this year, as we have the massive super store just down the road from my house. There really was a lot of Christmas cooking inspiration, and some treats that will be added to my shopping trolley this year for sure.

Just check out some of the images below and you’ll know where I’m coming from.

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Sainsburys were also the main sponsor of the Masterchef live event in the super the theatre and had so kindly supplied us with tickets to watch the cook off between Mat Follas and Tim Anderson. I do like a bit of Masterchef and it was 10x better watching it live. John Torode and Greg Wallace were as fantastic as usual and provided the audience with lots of laughs.

Sainsbury’s were a fantastic host, not only did they supply me with a lush goody bag that contain lots of lovely treats, the best being a lovely bottle of ready mixed alcoholic Manhattan cocktail in a pretty pink bottle (that I highly recommend you put on your shopping list this christmas) but they also supplied me with lots of Christmas inspiration.

I had an awesome time at the BBC Good food show winter, I went home with a head full of ideas and have already brought some of my taste the difference treats for our Christmas feast. 

Sunday was a great day to attend the event, it was the last day so there were loads of bargains to be had from blocks of chocolate to beautiful fresh Italian pastries. 

You could even bag yourself a new top of the range toaster or kettle at a rock bottom price.

I also found there were loads of stands selling Gluten free produce, great for families of children on the autism spectrum who are on a gluten and wheat free diet.

So… A big thank you to Thomas and Sainsbury’s for a truly fantastic day.

Bopping at the Lollibop

11 Aug

Friday the 5th August was certainly a day to remember for both myself and that of my youngest, 20 month old, ‘Harley’ aka little, ‘H’ 

I had been very fortunate to obtain a, “Press pass ” entitling a family of four free  VIP access into the Lollibop (the three-day festival designed especially for tiny-weeny partygoers) It was noted that the festival was best suited to children aged ten and under, Little man is ten, eleven in October, looking at the programme, I didn’t think it would appeal to him… I was right! It didn’t! Little man decided to spend the day with dad, over indulging in his, “Special interest… Buses” My eight year old daughter had already made plans to go on a trip to the seaside with her friend (I know, better social life than me)! So, It was just me and my very cheeky toddler, ‘H’. Knowing I had access for up to 4 people, I decided to invite my younger sister, ‘Rachel’ and her daughter, “Amy” a 18 month old crazed, “Waybuloo fan” 

Finally the day had arrived, I don’t know who was more excited, Me or the children? Yet the morning wasn’t one of my best! Everything that could possibly go wrong… did! Harley thought it was a great time to show of his talent, “Having a tantrum” and as for me, I was putting washing powder in the microwave and milk in the washing machine. I hadn’t hardly slept a wink the night before and this had nothing to do with Little man! I had struggled with the hellish heat and found it impossible to get comfortable. This resulted in me walking around like a zombie the best part of the morning. Finally having left the house I met up with my little sister and niece and we headed to the train station. Once there I discovered I had forgotten Harley’s rains resulting in a crazy dash around Oxford Street in a bid to purchase my third pair of rains this year (forgetful being my second middle name, Late my first). We finally reached Regents park, the location for the Lollibop. Harley had cried the whole way there. I was at my wit’s end, praying the day would be worth the stress of that horrid morning.

It wasn’t particularly hard to locate the venue once of the tube at Regents Park. It was pretty well sign-posted and only a two-minute walk just across the road. However, we should have entered via the press tent, which I just couldn’t locate. We were thankfully allowed through the main gate where we were directed to the press area to obtain wristbands and passes. My first impressions were good ones! Just through the main gate to the right you would find, “Lollibop’s transport for kids” (Smart trike with parent handle) were available to borrow for the deterioration of your day, I’m unsure if there was charge for the service, but I don’t think so. The area looked amazing, with lots going on. The queues didn’t look that long and the smiles displayed on the face of almost every child said it all! 

On the way to the press tent, we bumped into some really funky characters, Our first of the day. Harley looked at this two funky little oldies with nothing but confusion, Me I thought they were pretty cool. Harley was here to see someone with a little more popularity, “Bob the Builder” would be his highlight of the day, what with him being his biggest fan. Having made it to the press tent, I met the very lovely Jen and her team. After a warm friendly welcome, a cold drink and a nappy change, we were off. 

Leaving the pushchairs safely in the VIP tent, we put this pair of over excited toddlers on their rains (yes, new rains £12 Oxford St) and off we went. 

Bob the Builder was due to meet and greet in the 3 Ft and under area of the festival, in around 20 minutes time. So, with this in mind we decided to stay close by, opting to set the kids free in the soft play area. What is it with kids and balls? Seriously Little H is ball pit crazy. He loved diving in and out of the balls  and Amy seemed to enjoy it too… Well, that was in-till a bigger boy dived in, knocking H flying over the side of the pit. Thankful it’s a great padded area and my little boy was brave, he wiped his little tears, got up and throw himself back in. The soft play area was nice enough… However a little constructive criticism, “Big kids should not have been allowed in the soft play area or that of the 3 Ft area all together” (with the exception of meet and greets , yes bigger kids like Bob too). It was clearly designed for the smallest of little people and having ten-year old + boys jumping all over the place ruined a great play session for what looked like many. Lastly it wasn’t fenced in, meaning your child would escape every ten minutes and you would need to set chase. Apart from these two things, It was lots of fun.

Harley seemed happy in the soft play area and I wondered just how I would persuade him to leave. Then he saw something! “Bob Builder, Bob Builder” Harley shouted frantically. Yes, there was Bob making his way to his meet & greet. I grabbed Harley making a mad dash for the gate, “I didn’t fancy a long wait as Harley just wouldn’t have understood” Luckily we only had one or two people in front. 

This to me was the highlight of the day! It made the whole stress of that morning extremely worth it, I even had a tear in my eye as I watched my little boy walk up to Bob, put his little hands out and say, “Bob Builder, hello” In a shocked little voice. I whispered to the big guy,”I warn you, this is Harley and his your number 1 fan and from now on, your biggest stalker” It was at that moment I thought to myself, “Jesus, How am I going to get him out of here” We tried to get Harley to turn to face the camera so I could catcher the beautiful moment. Amy obliged without problem, yet H was unable to take his eye’s of the big guy, he was totally star struck. Take a look for yourself!

As suspected H didn’t fancy leaving his mate Bob the Builder! I turn around to see just how long the queue had now become…  there was only one thing left for me to do, The good old, “Grab & run” As he so angrily kicked his little legs while delivering a string of  head-butts to my chest, he shouted, “No, no, More..More… Bob builder, Fix it” I turned to see Bob bobbing up and down obviously indulging in a little giggle… “Harley really was acting the crazed little fan” 

I carried Harley straight into the WOW tent located bang next door. It was filled to the very rim with fantastic WOW toys. They had Wow play tables with at-least three toys on each. The tent was busy and from every corner you could hear the sound of mothers ordering their children to share. Myself and H are a massive fan of WOW toys and Harley has been lucky enough to review a few this month. These are toys that will be added to the Birthday and Christmas list in our house for sure. 

This visit to the WOW tent had also given me the chance to meet Lucy who had put together Little Hs reviews… It was nice to personally thank her for so kindly doing so.  Just as I contemplated moving one I realised that the tent had some empty seating, so it was nice to take a break and chill for five minutes while H and Amy explored all the wonderful toys that surrounded them. The WOW team had the right idea when it came to keeping the kids happy. With the parents all set to move on only to be faced with refusing toddlers, (this or they wanted to take the toys with them) the WOW team came to the rescue  with they’re cleverly prepared surprise! Each child was given a cute little WOW toy as a gift on their exist. This Just proves that these guys really do know children when it comes to toys as most smiled and bopped away happily. 

It was such a hot day on Friday. We sat on the grass where I topped up the children’s sun cream while my sister grabbed them an ice lolly to help them cool down. These were steep at £2 each, but it came as no surprise, it wasn’t any more than other festivals and child friendly events we have attended so no shocks there!

Next we took a trip to the Alfresco Bandstand, which was a nice area, smaller than the main stage but not as busy! The Waybuloo’s were busy teaching the children their moves. Harley waved and clapped and it was Amy’s turn to be star struck. Sitting on her mummy’s shoulders her face displayed one almighty smile. It was these little moments that made Lollibop a festival that stood out from the rest. Sadly Amy didn’t get to give the Waybuloos a hug as they were entertaining up on the stage which was fenced off for health and safety reasons. 

There was plenty to do and see, everywhere you turned something magical was taking place. It was hard to follow the scheduled acts and appearances that we wanted to see due to the sheer wonderful distractions we faced, Clowns, music, beautiful stalls and amazing activities. 

The Children meet Peppa and George Pig (from a parents view these guys weren’t pretty) There was no photo opportunities as again they are in an enclosed area. However, despite this, the children were able to touch them and say hello face to face. I had to laugh when George pig put his face near Harley’s leaving him shouting, “Woo, woo pig, away, away” as he pushed his snout in a bid to get him out the way. Yes, these guys are pigs remember :)  they didn’t look as cute as they do on the TV but H soon got used to them, again needing to be carried away (My chest was bruised by now)! 

We then visited my favourite area, “The Enchanted Forest” It truly lived up to its name, with stalls selling everything from fairy wings to fairy dust, there was toadstool seating areas and a range of magical activities, it was a lovely area within the festival. This was the place to find great storytellers and awesome bubble blowers. It was beautiful watching the children happily run around chasing bubbles. 

We then Checked out some of the yummy food on display! The Children had not long eaten when we arrived at the park at just gone 1 pm, a few hours after it had opened at 11 am. This resulted in the children showing Little if not any interest in food. However, as for Me, I was staving, but at that point in time I didn’t fancy the queue, I was just to hot (Food queues were not outrageously long but long enough to put me off )!  With this we left it till a little later in the day when at some stages they could be found empty.

There was much more exciting staff needed doing! We danced to the, “Zingzillas” and the fabulous sounds of “Rastamouse and da easy crew” who were performing on the main stage. The Cbeebies Presenter Sid was hosting the show and did a brilliant job too. The area did get a little busy as expected, However, it was nice to see Alex, (another Cbeebies presenter) stood next to me with his family. Of course he could have got himself right up the front… What with it being his turn to host the same show at this very same festival the next day it wouldn’t have been hard. Yet to see him with his child on his shoulders happily dancing to the sounds of the easy crew in the same way I was, did put a smile on my face.

I also noticed something very interesting about the main stage, (In a good way) It had a large viewing platform! Ok, What did I care, Little man wasn’t at the festival right! Just to see that they were catering for those with disabilities was a wonderful sight! Some of those who accessed the platform wouldn’t have stood a chance of seeing anything down below as there were those in wheelchairs and other children like Little Man who wouldn’t have coped well with the crowding that was taking place on the ground. Honestly If my Little man was younger and interested in the Lollibop I would have been able to take him that day with little problems. The organiser had noticeably tried to make the event a good one that was fun and accessible for all.

Having had a good boogie with my smiling toddler, sister and niece, we grabbed some food (fish and chips… Very yummy but a tad expensive, though it was expected). This was followed by beautiful fresh strawberries and cream, one word, ‘WOW’ very lush. As we ate we watched some funky makeovers taking place! These were done on random people out the crowds & pulled up on stage. The makeover itself was pretty funky business, involving coloured hairspray, “Lots of it” funky makeup, sick on gems and other funkiness … Seriously this was entertaining stuff , I loved it! 

Soon after we took a walk back to the VIP tent where we decided on taking the children back out to the main festival area in their pushchairs, both looked a tad hots and eye rubbing was a sign little H was getting tired. All the same I was surprised when they both happily complied with no fuss made at all (Not normally Harley’s style).

The Press/VIPs tent was much cooler with seating areas in and out. I was quite surprised to see a number of Celebes within the area( I dunno why I was, after all those with children are their to give their kids a fantastic day just as I was! I guess, I just didn’t think about)! Well,  all were very down to earth, enjoying the sunshine with their children just like anyone else meaning no one felt out of place (re-phase… I didn’t feel out of place), Celebes included, ‘Jeff Blazer’ and his children & ‘Angela griffins’ to name a few. Lucky, I don’t get star stuck, that is… unless your an overly good looking Hollywood film star (I say no names) Well after a short rest,  a lovely cold drink and quick game of spot the celeb’ we set back off exploring.  

We checked out some of the many stalls where I was shocked but presently surprised to meet Andrea (The very lovely business mum… founder of the “Mommy I’m here child locator”) I’m currently running a giveaway on this very blog, where I’m giving away one of her lovely teddy bear child locators (ends 25th August) I was also very lucky to conduct a review on the wonderful child locator, which funnily Harley had tied to his shoe lace at this very festival, (The fault of losing him in at the lollibop, any festival in-fact… makes me feel a little light headed.) Meeting Andrea allowed me to put a face to the name and personally thank her for the review opportunities and her wonderful device I now can’t live without! Andrea is a very inspiring business woman  and extremely nice lady, was so glad we met!

We hadn’t been out the vip area that long when I suddenly noticed the two little were knocked out sleeping in their pushchairs. With this, me and my sister indulged ourselves in a little harmless childish behaviour I even considered getting my face painted (I didn’t… much to my sisters delight) 

We also visited the lovely stall of the online shop,”festivals Kidz” where I got to meet the lovely founder, ‘Romany’ who was making beautiful head dressings with dried flowers for the little fairies of Lollibop. The stall was amazing selling items like, ear defenders in a cool range of neon colours (great for those on the autism spectrum and well as festival goers). There were also beautiful, yet funky kites on display and some really awesome “Tees” all half price. The stall was filled with lots of festival treasure from pretty fairy customs and girlie raincoats, to head dresses and baby items. I loved the many circus bits and pieces which again are great for those on the autism spectrum & those with Sensory processing disorder (SPD) These products would be ideal in helping the development of motor skills or could be used for their sensory benefits. A,” must visit” both on and off line.

Sadly we didn’t get to visit the actual circus, nor did we do any off the baby mini mission activities or indulge in “Baby loves disco” which has the likelihood of becoming a firm  favourite off mine! Yes, serious, I love to dance and it seems Harley does too! Baby loves disco could quite well be a match made in heaven!  Really looking forward to hearing more about the company at the…  “Business mum’s unite” in October this year. Our reason’s for not being able to participate in the above planed activities is down to a couple of now snoring toddlers ! With this we Instead walked off in the hunt for a couple of helium balloons (Bob the builder for little H and Waybuloo for Amy) these were  very reasonable priced. reasonably priced at £5 for a small and £6 for large (serious I’ve seen these things sold at a tenner ago, so was nicely surprised)

As the time quickly passed, regardless of our enjoyment, We left a little earlier at 5.45 pm as opposed to 7 pm, If the children were a tad older we would have stayed till the very end! This doesn’t mean we were bored or there wasn’t enough activities for the toddlers as their seriously was!This wasn’t to do with the children’s entertainment needs, I’m not stating their wasn’t enough on offer for them, quite the  opposite in fact… The children were totally knocked out with all the excitement of the days events, and didn’t even get to try everything, there was  just so much to do! that they were still happily sleeping when we headed off home. 

A quick Little summing-up on the festival designed for little people

I was lucky to have free Vip tickets so for the festival. Hence reasons why I haven’t really commented on such issues. However I did hear parents moaning about cost stating their disgust at the price for a little one to get in! In the defensive of Lollibop, It was advised that tickets should be brought on line avoiding the gate fee & a situation where you’re paying a lot more… Tickets on the day equal pricey tickets and we all knew it! It know it’s easy for me to state, but I truly felt that given their was such a great line up and so much to do, You got your moneys worth… After all its no more than other places this time of year, such as, “Lego land” and in my view Lollibop is just as good, especially for my little Bob fan!  When I arrived at one queues were very small at the gate and also not huge in the park itself. I did hear that the queues were very long on the Saturday & Sunday, I can only comment by stating, “Yay I got the right day” (This really wasn’t the case Friday) How about Maybe a book and return service  for meet and greets, workshops and face painting for next year? s that something that could be organised?

The location was perfect (I’m a London girl and love Regents park & it famous, ‘London Zoo’) maybe a Lollibop tour  could be worked upon for all those missing out on such a great event. This would put the smiles on lots of little faces,  which is so worth the effort!. The event was big but everything was nicely compact and easy to locate. I wasn’t to keen on the Haystack seating! I ran over thinking we were gonna find a mini farmyard for little H & Amy to explore. 

The festival was awesome, very child centred, as stated on the tin! Yet it provided an amazing day for all the family, and had lots happening. It still managed to keep that rather hippy feel about it that I love..  (If that’s the right word for it). This atmosphere was helped by the sights of Little girls in tutus, and fairy wings with pretty flowers in their hair running around throwing handfuls of fairy dust while playing with glittery hola=hoops! This made me wish that my daughter was there with me, “I know she would have loved it” 

So the big question: Would we come back next year and do it all again? Gosh, Yes! Lollibop is magical, a festival that will continue to develop it’s magic into total awesomeness  with every passing year. It’s a festival that’s not to be missed!

Behind closed doors

3 Jun images

It’s been a long day & night, I finally rest my head on my pillow a little after 4 am, you would think sleep was imminent. How wrong this was, in-fact little if not any sleep was had at all!

I closed my eyes and there she was, a child trapped in a young woman’s body, doused in water, shaking and screaming out for her mother!

It was an image that many would now find trapped at the front of their mind, unable to find its way out.

Some hours before I had sat sobbing as I watched the broadcast of BBC ones Panorama! It was deeply shocking, horrifying  & incredible heartbreaking TV.

If this was the case, then why did I watch it, why not turn it off? As hard as it was to witness the horrors unfolding at Winterbourne View… It was something that needed to be seen!

Now warm & safe in my bed I was hunted by the realisation of the situation. How many more were there… How many more care homes are operating in such a horrendous manner? We already know that Winterbourne are part of the Castlebeck chain of independently ran care homes with an estimated turnover of ninety-million pounds! Then there are the undiscovered, the thought chills me to the bone!

Within my head there are so many thoughts, questions that turn my stomach with fear.

How many more unqualified, under-trained monsters are being given the title support worker or carer?

How many whistle blowers have raised concerns and seen them swept under the carpet?

How many past complaints to the ‘Care Quality Commission‘ (CQC) have been ignored, emails deleted without a second thought for those that may be in danger? I wonder how many complaints will continue to be ignored?

How many cases of abuse have been missed at the hands of the CQC due to poor inspections of care homes?

How Many victims young & old, who are laid in their beds , will wake to the hands of evil as it grabs ahold of them and drags them from their feet?

MY GUESS IS… TO MANY!

As a mother, a human being my arms longed to hold them young victims, to keep them safe from harm. With every act of torture my heart sank a little more, the anger within me tore at my gut as I felt powerless, so bloody powerless!

Some may say that to have anger within yourself is a bad thing but I’m sure those that like me sat and watched that report, feel exactly the same way I do. The only good that can come from such anger is to channel it into something positive such as change!

Its well documented that social care has been worse hit by the government cuts, leaving the most vulnerable in frightening situations. This is anything from children with special educational needs not getting the support needed; individuals with mental heath problems facing the stress of reassessments leading to the loss of incapacity benefit; the closure of support groups & day centres and those in care homes. Yet the government  fail to address such issues despite the compiling evidence that keeps on growing. Things shouldn’t have to get this far before action is taken, yet somehow it always does.

The media has brought about some pretty disturbing headlines off late. Although I am In the uttermost agreement that those seen abusing the young  residents residing at Winterbourne view are total scum that in my opinion should not have been released on bail, we have to look at the bigger picture.

The CQC, local authority and management of Castlebeck have a lot of explaining to do. As mentioned the CQC had not only inspected Winterbourne view more than once, but also failed to respond to the whistle-blower who is reported to have contacted them on three occasions.

The Local Authority use the tax payers money to fund placements at ‘Winterbourne View’ for  young adults with autism, learning disabilities and challenging behaviour. With a weekly fee of up to £3,500 (that and the fact they have a duty of care), you would have thought the Local Authority would carry out all the appropriate checks before splashing the cash.

Last but not least you have the management of the establishment. Are you telling me that this was unknown to them? Does this included the upstairs locked corridor with bedrooms either side, no CCTV but a security system at each end! Does this not ring alarm bells? This is an area that holds the rule, “NO GUEST ALLOWED” Yet In a statement Castlebeck said, “We are deeply distressed by the completely unacceptable and appalling behaviour of a small number of our employees at one of our facilities…” (Full response) Castlebeck itself is owned by a Jersey-based investment vehicle called Lydian Capital. It is said that Lydian Capital is backed by a group of Irish tycoons led by JP McManus, John Magnier and Dermot Desmond.

The guardian reported,“Castlebeck is not the only care home business owned by the group. A Jersey investment vehicle called Grove Limited – chaired by fellow Irishman, Denis Brosnan – also counts Desmond, McManus and Magnier among its investors. It controls the Barchester Healthcare empire of more than 200 homes, making it the second largest in the UK behind Bupa and Four Seasons Healthcare.” For me this is terrifying news.

The latest report given by the guardian tells how this isn’t the first time the quality of care at Castlebeck facilities have come under scrutiny. With the mention of a death that may have been party caused by restraint (an open verdict was given) There was also an alleged sexual assault that was not reported by staff to management nor the  police. This alongside smelly dirty accommodation that had poor infection control was discovered during an unannounced inspection (which clearly shows the need for such measures) The guardian have named the semi-secure hospital/care home for men with learning disabilities & autism as, ‘Cedar Vale’ .

 Was the place closed down? It would seem not! Castlebeck claim the problem has now been addressed…

As a mother to a child on the autism spectrum I found the report extremely upsetting, yet it’s my opinion that any half decent human being would feel this way following a programme so direful it shocked the UK and beyond!

Yes, we need a more effective inspection regime and no we should not employ those who are under-qualified or have not undergone the appropriate training needed to care for those with complex needs. 

WHY IN GODS NAME IS THIS PLACE STILL OPEN?

Correct me if I’m wrong, When health and safety inspections are carried out in food courts, restaurants and take away outlets, given they are not up to scratch they are closed down! Why isn’t it the same for a place that has a duty of care to those with complex needs and autism? I struggle to find any explanation as to why the place wasn’t and still isn’t closed down! There is no need for talk or pending investigations, Panorama provide unquestionable evidence! What more is needed

The only answer I can come up with is that the NHS/Local authority have nowhere to place the residents from the home if they are forced to move them. At the end of the day it all comes down to money and its likely no-one wants to foot the bill, they never do!

Winterbourne View is a place that needs closing down for the sake of the residents and their families.

So come people are we going to stand back & allow any more shame on our country, or are we going to do something about it? Remember two voices are better than one so, lets start talking! 

Did you watch the Panorama report on Tuesday 31st May or see it in the news? 

Do you want to try to help change the system?

Do you think the care home in question should remain open?

Maybe you just want to have your voice heard by speaking up for the vulnerable  

There are a number of things you can do to help prompt change!

  • Sign the online petition, created by the National Autistic Society (NAS);
  • Contact your local MP (Find your MP with this twitter list);
  • Leave me a comment;
  • Join the discussions on Twitter using the #Panorama;
  • Blog  about it and Link up to other blogs;
  • Join in with today’s (Friday 3rd June) tweet storm Friday. Just log on to twitter & tweet your comments using the tag: #aaukcampagin;
  • Join one of the many facebook groups.

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Watch the BBC Panorama Report: Here

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