Questions about children’s TV that no-one ever asks


Did you know the first full programme to be shown on BBC2, 50 years ago this week, was Playschool? It was actually an accident; a powercut meant the real first programme that went out the night before wasn’t seen by anyone.

I love that the first programme to be shown on the more ‘serious’ BBC channel ended up being a children’s one. Almost as much as I loved kids TV growing up (everyone did! It was the top topic among my friends. And after school, me and my brothers would crowd around to watch Andi Peters in the Broom Cupboard, with Ed the Duck and Wilson the Butler. Or was he with Andy Crane?) We all loved Cities of Gold, Dogtanian, Around the World with Willie Fog. And not the omnipresent Blue Peter.

Watching kid’s TV now with Eliza, it strikes me how very magical yet completely nonsensical it all is. And probably always was.

So in honour of Playschool, and 50 years of BBC2, here’s some questions that have recently occurred to me about her current children’s favourites. Why does no-one ever ask them?

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Easter entertainment tactics for two-year-olds


It’s finally Easter. What’s everyone doing for the long weekend?

We’re escaping the building site to go on the train up to Sheffield (while our builder holidays in our bathroom, fingers crossed it’s finished soon).

When E was little, train travel was like an instant sandman, and she’d sleep for the whole journey. Which was bliss.

But now she’s older, there’s zero chance of napping as everything’s just. too. exciting. And can then get boring really quickly. So it’s a constant challenge to keep her entertained.

Here’s some tips for train travel with children, and a couple of tried and tested ideas on keeping small children busy:

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Toddlers: the things no-one ever tells you

What no-one ever tells you about toddlersChildren don’t come with an instruction manual, do they? If the evolutionary process was so clever, you’d think that would have been rectified by now (Just imagine! “Congratulations Mr and Mrs Crawshaw! It’s a girl. Oh, and here’s the full, personalised manual, ‘What to do now, stages 0-18″).

Of course, that would make it all too easy, wouldn’t it? So instead you have millions of contradictory baby books and conflicting sources of advice, or just feeling your way around in the dark until it all kind of naturally clicks into place at some point. Which I suppose is part of the, erm, fun.

There’s so much focus on the newborn stage – NCT, Emma’s Diary, millions of midwife appointments – and then one day you look up and there’s a miniature person running around, with thoughts and opinions and everything. Who really wants two bowls of cereal, but definitely does not want to wear any clothes. Out of almost no-where, you have a toddler. Something they never warn you about when you’re pregnant.

And that’s probably a good thing.

So here’s a guide to toddler behaviour and all the things no-one ever tells you: Continue reading

Wish you were here with Walkers Crisps

Bournemouth beach(This is a sponsored post) What’s everyone doing for Easter? If, like us, you’re not jetting off aboard somewhere hot – and that’s no bad thing, the weather is supposed to be glorious this weekend, plus it’s totally on trend to take a staycation – you might be looking for some bargainous family activities to get up to much closer to home.

Well, Walkers Crisps have teamed up with Merlin Entertainments to give away half price tickets to two top attractions – Chessington World of Adventures Resort and the 12 SEA LIFE aquariums and sanctuaries across the UK.

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How to make really easy Easter salt dough decorations

Making Easter salt dough decorations

Shh! Eliza and I have been on a top secret Easter making-mission this weekend – Grandmas, look away now – crafting up some salt dough bunnies and Easter decorations.

We’re spending the long weekend up with relatives in Sheffield, so wanted to do make something with an Easter theme we could give to everyone (and post it down to my mum and dad too).

I thought it would be fun for us both to do something a bit different that was likely to hold Eliza’s interest for longer than about thirty seconds, and knew she’d love the all the messy stages of salt dough (making the dough, kneading, painting – and most of all, getting flour everywhere).

Last time I was down in  Bournemouth, my mum gave me a whole load of shape cutters she’d kept from when we were younger. There’s a set of Mr Men as well as animals and various shapes. There was also a bunny from my own childhood that has been used to make rabbity-shapes for over 30 years.

Easter bunny shape cutters So I decided that we were going to make some painted salt dough hanging shapes with an Easter theme (bunnies, eggs, and, erm jewels?) Growing up, we always had a festive Easter tree, and thought even if people didn’t have one they could hang them in their kitchen.

Making the Easter bunnies (and a salt dough recipe) Continue reading

Garden furniture love

Stylish garden furniture

One of the things I was really, really excited about with the new house was the garden. It’s fair to say, like the rest of the house, it was promising but needed a lot of work. It wasn’t in a terrible state, but wasn’t suitable for a young family at all.

Despite having zero clue about green things, we just got straight in there and chopped down a lot of the overgrown and dead  plants and removed some of the overall weirdness. We’ve also made Eliza a mud kitchen (more on this later). There’s a fairly outdated wooden arch we want to remove, and some decking that needs replacing, but it’s looking a lot more like the sort of place you’d actually want to spend a balmy summer evening in.

One thing we need to invest in is some good garden furniture, so we can really enjoy it when the warmer weather arrives (after all, it was one of the main reasons we moved from a top floor flat). Then I’m really keen to try out some of these garden DIY projects – how cool?

So this is my pick of the most stylish things from John Lewis – from the affordable, to the more, erm, fantasy budget: Continue reading

Telling the toddler about the new baby

Books to tell your child about a new baby

There isn’t a great track record of older siblings welcoming new babies into my family. When I was born, my big brother went into such a state of denial that he used to paint pictures that consisted of solid lines of black paint. To be fair, I think this only lasted a few weeks, as he quickly realised the playing / fighting potential of a younger sister.

Eliza’s only two, but I think toddlers understand an awful lot more than you’d think. So as it was a topic we’d all be talking about a lot, we wanted the new baby to be something that she was always aware of, and not a big “Surprise! Look what this is in your old cot” nine months later. Continue reading

Pregnancy update weeks 0-13: Everything I’d forgotten about the first trimester

13 weeks pregnant bump shotWhen I was expecting Eliza,  pregnancy seemed so all-consuming that I couldn’t remember the grey and misty swirls of time before being pregnant, or ever imagine it ending.

Then pretty soon after I gave birth, I couldn’t for the life of me imagine what it had been like (‘baby movements felt like what again?’ ‘I couldn’t drink much wine for all the time…really?’).

So it was a relief that as soon as I got pregnant again, it all came rushing back in a familiar wave of symptoms and strange happenings.

Here’s everything I’d forgotten about being pregnant, the first trimester special: Continue reading