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I am at present undergoing a treatment regime that has some pretty nasty side effects. One of these side effects is what friends have loving nicknamed ?galloping gob rot? or rather an extremely sore and tender mouth/tongue and gums. As my mouth is so sore, it is painful to clean my mouth out using conventional toothbrushes and paste, which in turn puts me at risk of tooth decay, gum disease, plaque and the most dreaded bad breath! After speaking to my pharmacist and doctor they both advised me to try Corsodyl mouthwash. Corsodyl contains Chlorhexidine gluconate an antibacterial solution, which reduces the formation of plaque and assists with good mouth hygiene. Its most common indication is in the prevention and treatment of gingivitis. Also where mouth care by conventional means is difficult, as in my case. Corsodyl also assists with the healing of mouth ulcers and sores perhaps exacerbated by dentures or braces. Corsodyl is only available from pharmacies and comes in either 600ml bottles or 300ml bottles. I opted for the 600ml bottle, which cost me £7.99. This is enough for 60 individual treatments using 10mls per treatment, twice daily will last about a month. The bottle comes complete with a measuring cap, into which the said 10 mls is poured, you then swish the mouth wash around your mouth for one minute and spit it out. How vigorously you choose to swish for is up to you, but I find that it is quite painful at present to swish to harshly, so I just move my head around a bit to make sure it coats my mouth. The smell is quite pleasant actually, the mouthwash comes in two flavours, I opted for the mint one and it does smell quite minty. The taste is utterly revolting to be honest and I dread my next session with the bottle! Keeping it in your mouth for a whole 60 seconds is hell on earth, but the after taste is even worse if you can imagine! My mouth does feel a lot better after use though, my teeth don?t have that furry feel a
nd my mouth feels slightly numb after use. It does sting slightly but then again I do have some raw areas in my mouth so that was to be expected. I didn?t have the ?peel me off the ceiling? reaction that I thought I was going to have! The only real problem I have noticed is the browny yellow colour my tongue takes on after treatment with Corsodyl. I am reassured that this will fade after I have stopped using it, and indeed the colour does fade through the day. It is also possible that my teeth may take on the same hue with continued use, but again will fade when I stop using the mouthwash. To minimize the risk of discolouring your teeth it is recommended that you brush your teeth in the conventional manner a couple of hours after using the mouthwash. After using the mouthwash for a fortnight I am ecstatic with the results. Although my mouth is still tender in parts, the majority of the sore areas have healed and I am slowly able to introduce a soft toothbrush and kids toothpaste into my mouth care regime to clean my front teeth. Apart from the tooth decay element my other main concern was the bad breath situation arising from not being able to brush my teeth ? I find there is nothing worse, Corsodyl has certainly put paid to this and I am confident that I no longer have galloping gob rot!!
Sundown Adventure Land LOCATION Set in the unusual position between a power station and a high security mental hospital is a little piece of magical England that is Sundown. Located in Rampton near Retford, north Nottinghamshire. OPENING TIMES The Adventure Park is open from April to the first week in September 10am to 5pm, from September to December the park is open, but with shortened opening times - they do have Christmas specials where you can meet Santa. The park is closed through January, reopening the second week of February. ENTRANCE FEE No children under the age of 18 are allowed in the park unless accompanied by an adult. Prices for 2002 are £5.50 for adults and children alike, with under 2's going free. There are discounted prices for coach parties of 20 or more - you only pay £4.75. Going in a coach party has the added advantage of you not having to queue for an hour or more, to pay your entry fee! Once you have paid your entry fee, you are given a pamphlet with a map of the park on, easy to follow and essential if you want to go on everything there! PARKING The parking is mainly on hard standing, with some overspill in a fairly flat field just off the main car park. The road leading into Sundown is a very narrow one, and turning out of the car park proved problematic for some of the coaches. On the whole the parking was adequate, although there were no specific parking 'bays' so some people managed to take up more than their fair share of parking space. Once you have paid your entrance fee you walk through a tree lined bower into the park - you are able to get 'pass outs' in the form of a stamp on your hand. This is handy as you don't have to lug your picnic around the park all day and can just pop back to your car at lunchtime. STORY BOOK VILLAGE This is a fantastic place, with little houses I mean children
sized houses devoted to various children stories such as Jack and the bean stalk, Rumplestiltskin, Snow White, The three little pigs. Not only can the children go in the houses, they can TOUCH EVERYTHING! There are buttons to press that make sounds, you can hear the Seven Dwarf's sneezing, yawning and laughing, or they can play the Three Little Pigs piano - fantastic, even though James does want to swap our piano for theirs - somehow I think we lose out on that one! THE MOUSE TALES A magical adventure for children of younger ages - you walk through a darkened building to see magical scenes through Perspex windows of mice at play, at dinner, sledding and snowballing. This journey leads you onto Santa's sleigh ride - an excellent idea as whist you are queuing to ride, the children have something to look at to entertain them so the wait doesn't seem so long. My only complaint in the mouse tales section is the cut out areas in the walls that allow children to climb steps and climb through. Although perhaps a good idea when it was first done, with children going missing on an almost daily basis - anything that encourages children to sneak off from their parents is a bad idea. We witnessed the absolute panic of one couple whose 2-year-old had snuk through a mouse hole to the other side of the wall; the little girl thought it a great game - the parents - well you can imagine! SANTAS SLEIGH RIDE This is a lovely albeit out of season ride. You enter into the ride from the above mouse tales, to be greeted by a sparkling Christmas tree and yes a real christmassy smell! There are fairy lights and mock snow and it looks all so Victorian. The carts are modeled on sleighs, with children sitting in the front and parents in the back - safety bars are lowered over your knees. As you travel through the ride, you see all manner of animals from badgers to reindeer, gearing up for Christmas, there even a lifesize Mrs. Santa knitting beside
the fire. To cap it all we SAW SANTA!! Yes we really really did - James was most upset as he said he should have brought his letter to save on the stamp - he says we can go back tomorrow to deliver it! During the Christmas period, you can pay £1.50 to receive a present from Santa himself. MARKET SQUARE A collection of life size animals greet you and you know they are surprisingly realistic until you are up close, here again are buttons at child level to press, to make the animals talk or sing ANIMATED FARM Sundown doesn't have any real animals anymore, but you know I think our tribe enjoyed this more. Once again the animals are life sized and all contained in their own pens. There are buttons to press and you may be asked a question - such as what does daisy the cow eat and a selection of 4 answers - woe betide if you get it wrong though! TRACTOR RIDE This was a huge hit with all the kids even the eldest at 9 years! As you are taken around the track - in a tractor no less, children in the front of course - you see a variety of things you would perhaps see in the countryside - scarecrows and their cheeky crows sitting on the fence, tractors bailing hay, cows, sheep and lambs. It isn't a thrill seekers ride, but it is lovely none the less. The whole ride took about 5 minutes, with music following you wherever you went, from the cunningly disguised speakers on the ground. You wouldn?t believe that this ride actually cost £1 million to build, as it is so simple, it still went down a storm with all the kids on it! ROCKY MOUNTAIN RAILROAD This caused great amounts of fun for all, not only was it a train ride, but you had to keep an eye out for the life sized bandits popping up everywhere! Great fun which caused many a tear from the younger ones as they didn't want to get off! BOOZY BARRELS BOATS I think James was a little disappointed with this ride, as he didn'
t get soaking wet!! Having said that this was a lovely ride really, you sit in half-barrel style boats - really? Which are really easy to get in and out of I might add. As you float around the track life size pirates are waiting to squirt you with water! The areas around the track are really well kept too, no nasty surprises in the shape of stinging nettles or brambles to scratch you on the way round! The best thing after the ride, is the extremely friendly and helpful staff who will take your children out of the barrel and assist you as well. CAPTAIN SANDY?S PLAYCOVE Oh its like being at the seaside and after an hour or so you will begin to think you are. This is the largest sandpit I have ever seen. Not only is there masses and masses of beautiful white sand to play with, but also things to climb in, on, over and under - a children's dream! THE INDOOR JUNGLE This is situated in the same building as the café, where parents can take the weight off their feet and let the children run riot in a soft play area. There are things to climb up, roll down, slide down, and jump on off or into, all based on the jungle theme. There is a staff member ensuring that only small people can get in - our 9-year-old was fine and he is quite tall for his age. I think the size guide is so us parents can't get in on the fun to be honest. We had to shout the kids back regularly as it was extremely hot in there, even with the doors open. I would recommend you take your children a pair of socks to wear in this area, as many had bare feet having worn sandals - not that I am paranoid, but veruccas and athletes foot are not pleasant! LOLLIPOPPET CASTLE This was the place I HAD to go into - as you travel around the castle, watch your heads! You are confronted with every possible confection in larger than life form - they look so realistic, it was tempting to reach out and grab! FORT APPACHE This was a superb ar
ea for the children to let off some steam before leaving Sundown - a truly fabulous fort of epic proportions. There really is something for everyone here. Their facilities were excellently constructed and maintained, with plentiful bark chippings everywhere! James decided to fall from the top of some steps - pretending to be Spiderman and although landing with a 'whooomp' was completely unhurt - despite the drop being just under 6feet. He did get up and try it again, but after a heated debate, he decided against it! FOOD The food at Sundown is, as you would expect at one of these parks, sausages, chips, nuggets etc - the only thing that really amazed me was the price - a children meal was £1.20 for an absolute plateful! Drinks were similarly reasonably priced 60p for a carton of Ribena, or a can of fizzy. Looking around at the amount of cartons/cans being consumed no one minded the prices. We did take our own food and found ample places for eating despite the park being very busy. The restaurants were very well maintained, with staff clearing tables and disinfecting them almost as soon as they were vacated. Perhaps the only downfall was the use of plastic cutlery, which appeared to keep breaking, especially when used by the children. TOILETS This is perhaps my main complaint about Sundown - on the whole site we only found two toilet blocks not counting the toilets in the restaurant area. Although these toilets really were spotless, with plenty of soap, towels and toilet roll and clean dry floors and no cracked seats. I would have thought that more would be better especially as the toilets are quite far apart - you know what kids are like, when they gotta go they gotta go!. Having said that, there was very little queuing for the toilets and their stocks of paper was consistent throughout the day. All toilets were suitable for disabled users and baby changing facilities were available at all. FIRST AI
D Although I always carry a first aid kit that any hospital would be proud off, I always look out for the first aid post on arrival at a park, you just never know. At Sundown they have not one, but TWO first aid rooms, staffed at all times. LOST CHILDREN There are always some children, that despite the best efforts of the parents to keep an eye on them who will escape! GIFT SHOPS As with all days out children want a reminder of where they have been - the gift shop was extremely well stocked and laid out, with almost every kind of toy you could imagine. There really was something for everyone's pocket. I found things in the gift shop were quite cheap in comparison to other adventure type parks we have visited, another piece of good news for your pocket. STAFF Talk about saving the best 'til last - well not really but Sundown should be really proud of all their staff! They were all fantastic, they had a good mix of older and younger staff, all clearly identifiable with their red tops, casual but smart at the same time. Their attitudes were fantastic; they made jokes with the children and parents alike, and were not above helping distressed children on or off rides. At all times the staff were efficient and courteous and caring, appearing to really enjoy their work. This attitude really inspired confidence from the parents that their little treasures were in good hands. The staff were plentiful, and always available to approach and ask questions of. There were quite a few staff 'wandering' around the park, sometimes speaking to 'unhappy' children and I did wonder whether this was a 'lost child patrol' - which if is was is a fantastic idea. To say we had a fantastic visit to Sundown is putting it mildly - we arrived at 10am and didn't leave until 4pm and didn't feel that we had had enough of the place. James most certainly didn't want
to come away, wanting one last visit to the fire station to ride the fire truck and ring the bell! Although once on the coach it was a full time job keeping him awake! It is a great day out for kids, everything there is for them to sit on, stand on, ride on, touch, smell, taste and play with - not many places like that around! There is little queuing time, even though the park was very busy - we started off at the far end of the park - thus avoiding most of the queues. Even when you do have to queue they do move very quickly indeed, and there are interesting things to look at and talk about with your children as you pass along the queue. When queuing for the tractor ride, we passed through a farmer's house and kitchen, with all the accoutrements of farming life set out before us. The food was excellent so I am told, although not huge variety in menu, the portions were enormous and the prices very cheap indeed. So no need to take a picnic with you. The drinks were in plentiful supply also, not only were they sold in the food outlets but they also had carton and fizzy drink machines around the site, reducing queuing times once again. The only things I would suggest you take with you on a visit to Sundown, are your children, yourselves, some suncream and a hat and a few plasters and of course your camera. We went on a reasonably sunny day and as there are few shady places sunscreen and hats are a must for children. It would be inadvisable to go to Sundown on a rainy day as the majority of the attractions are outside, so you really wouldn?t get your value for money. I only wish that sundown was nearer, as I have the feeling we would be there on a weekly basis - it really is good value for money, and somewhere I think we will be visiting again!
I first came across Mo Hayder, author of The Treatment, in her first book - Birdman. I am a great fan of anything murder/mystery/thriller so I turned the pages of the book rapidly until I reached the bizarre ending. Although a pretty gruesome story, Birdman certainly whetted my appetite for Mo Hayder's further writings. In The Treatment, we once again meet with Detective Inspector Jack Caffery of the AMIT squad (Area Major Investigations Pool) in the south London area. Caffery as well as heading the murder squad and trying to find the perpetrator committing the dreadful crimes is trying to unscramble his own life. His life as we find out in Birdman is blighted by a dreadful skeleton in his closet. As a young boy, he had a tiff with his brother - Ewan. Ewan ran off and since then has never been seen again. Caffery blames himself for Ewan's disappearance, as do his family. He still lives in his childhood home and keeps a shrine as it were to his brother. The main suspect for Ewan's disappearance is Ivan Penderecki - a known paedophile who lives over the train tracks at the back of Caffery's house. Despite intensive investigation by the police, no evidence has ever been found against him regarding the disappearance of Ewan. This storyline is continued in The Treatment as just one more agony of Caffery - the conclusion, if you can call it that is certainly an interesting one and not beyond belief. The book begins with the appalling discovery of a husband and wife in their home; both are badly dehydrated and beaten. The husband is tied to a radiator and the wife has been locked in the airing cupboard, having been left there for three days. Worse yet their 9-year-old son Rory is missing and a bloodied trainer is found in the expansive Brockwell Park to the rear of their home. A huge search ensues using men, dogs and helicopters - nothing is found, just a hazy circle on the helicopter's screen that no one can fat
hom at all. Rory is eventually found in a place where you wouldn't imagine at all, to reveal whether he is dead or alive would spoil the plot line, so I will let you read it if you dare. As the events and details of the investigation are unrolled before you, you will feel sickened beyond belief. It is a book that will have you rushing out to your nearest hardware store to buy the biggest and strongest bolts and locks you can buy, not to mention bars for the windows as well! The subject of children being taken is always going to be an emotive one, but this book was plain devastating. Not just for the agony of the parents of the child, whose agony must be beyond belief in this book, but also for the things that have happened to the child. The twists and turns in the story are almost more than you can bear to read, at the same time you find yourself turning the pages faster and faster to reach the ending. Hayders imagery is fantastic in parts - you really feel as though you are there. I had to stop reading this book at nighttime as I found I was feeling uncomfortable in my own home, checking the doors were securely locked and windows closed. Although her excellent imagery transports you to the scenes, at times you really wish it didn't. If after reading this you are still curious about the book, then read it, although I really wouldn't recommend it. After finishing the book I went and gave James the biggest cuddle of his life and didn't want to let go. I shed many tears whilst reading this book and certainly would not read it again, I finished the book a few weeks ago and it has certainly left a monumental impression - so strong an impression that after reading it, I burnt it. Some of you may find this an extreme reaction - after all it is only a story, but I felt absolute outrage that this woman could write such an appalling story. I must admit, although I finished the book, I doubt very much that I would buy o
r read another Mo Hayder book as long as I live.
After the dismal day out we had at Gulliver's Kingdom, we decided to try further afield for a day out. Taking advantage of a rare weekday off during the school holidays. The weather in Derbyshire was dire - slinging it down with rain, but on checking the weather in Bewdley the town West Midlands Safari park is located showed it was going to be an overcast day - perfect for sitting in a car watching animals. On arrival at the park we were filtered into about 6 lanes waiting to pass the kiosks to pay our entry fee to the park. Whilst waiting in the queue we were approached by staff offering souvenir 'programmes' for sale. Priced at £3 each and packed with information about all the animals in the park, these A4 size glossy magazines were well worth the money. Waiting time in the queue was about 10 minutes, extremely good considering the volume of traffic waiting. The entry fee was £6.25 per person with under 4's going free. Once you have paid, you are also given a free re entry ticket - sort of buy one get one free. This re entry ticket has your car number plate written on it, and the amount of paying people in the car. The same car has to return and only the amount on the card get in free - but others in the car will have to pay. At the kiosk you are also given the opportunity to buy some animal food - these boxes of pellets will set you back a mere £1.50. Just through the payment area is a sign stating that dogs are not allowed in the safari park - and they even provide kennels at the entrance, just in case! Why anyone should want to take a dog with them I don't know - but the people at the safari park seem to have thought of everything! Once through the kiosk you can drive directly into the safari park - where large signs remind you NOT to get out of your car, keep windows, and sunroofs shut when not feeding the animals. I was rather disturbed to see children hanging out of the car windows whilst driving throu
gh some of the areas. I am sure the parents would be hot to try and sue the park, should their little treasure have their head bitten off! a rather amusing sign that tells you that Lions and tigers eat spare wheels! Convertibles and 4x4's are NOT allowed in the lion or tiger areas - I wonder why! In each area of the safari park are explicit signs as to whether the animals bite or whether you can feed them and a brief description of the animals - you can find out more from the glossy magazine you bought on the way in. The roads through the park are extremely well maintained and at most points are two lanes. There is no 'best' side to be on, as the animals move around quite a lot - quite often standing directly in front of your vehicle in the hope of a small nibble! The animals are wonderfully tame and will, without fear approach your car - at a gallop if the windows are open! They will feed directly from your hand if you offer them your palm with a small amount of pellets on it. Please note that only food bought from the safari park must be fed to the animals, don't give them your sandwiches, crisps or apples - the animals may well appreciate it at the time, but our food is NOT for the animals and may well do them more harm than good. Whilst driving through the safari park wardens are highly visible driving around in their 'tiger camouflage' jeeps in all the areas. Should you get into trouble whilst in the park, sound your horn and they will come and help you. Often the wardens have to try to persuade the animals out of the road and away from the cars. There is no specified stopping time whilst watching the animals. Although good manners dictate that when you have a large queue of traffic building up behind you - its time to move on. When the park is busy expect it to take up to two hours to get around the actual safari part. Try if you can NOT to get stuck behind a coach as the fumes from them can m
ake you very nauseous indeed. When entering the Lion enclosure, you are to drive into a 'cage' like structure and a gate closes behind you, once that is shut, the gate in front of you opens and you are off into lion country. This is a huge enclosure with plenty of lions, cubs and lionesses present. We were lucky to see four cubs at play, which was a magical site and kept James, captivated. There were also some high jinks from a lioness and her mate! The only thing I didn't like about this enclosure was the fencing. I am not talking about the safety of the enclosure - but the fact that the lions could see the rhino and giraffe on the other side of the fence, and one was stalking up and down trying to get at a giraffe on the other side. This was an awesome sight to see - a lion almost in action, but I felt it was a bit cruel to the lions. The white tigers were in a similar enclosure to the lions, these are stunning animals and I was grateful for it taking so long to pass through the area, as these animals are my true love. The lion and tiger enclosures are the slowest areas of the park to pass through - not only because of the gate security feature, but because it appeared that most people like looking at these big cats. In all honesty they are the best tigers I have seen in artificial surroundings, a tribute to the staff and owners of the safari park. At intervals around the park are 'drive thru' refreshment areas - log cabin where you can buy drinks, crisps and sweets - an excellent idea if you haven't remembered to pack any drinks in the car. This was welcome relief as we had been in the car an hour and a half. The prices are pretty much as you would expect for a park of this kind. I thought they would be vastly over priced, as we were a captive audience so to speak - but was pleasantly surprised. Some of the other animals you will encounter when driving round the park are zebra, Gnu, Giraffe, Ankole catt
le, Eland, Wallaby, Nilgai, Emu, Bison, Wolves, camels, Bengal tigers, yak, and deer. The elephants are in a separate enclosure, so those trunks wont take a fancy to any ornaments on your car! There are no monkeys at the safari park, so car ariels are safe! Just as well really as I was lacking the essential Alan Key to remove mine! At the end of the safari tour you are advised by signs to wash your hands - especially if you had been touching or feeding any of the animals. You are able to take a guided tour of the safari park in their own minibus - the cost of this is £3.50 per person - in addition to the entrance fee of £6.25. Once out of the safari park you find your way to the car park. This was a rather interesting experience as many cars appeared to have been abandoned on the grass verges. The majority of the parking was on grass, but there was a good amount of hard parking. There were plentiful disabled parking spaces close to the entrance of the park. Toilets After sitting in a car for such a long time toilets were essential. There was a large toilet block in the car park, catering for disabled as well as male and female facilities. I was amazed to find that they were clean, pleasant smelling and had ample supply of toilet rolls!! This was something common in all toilets throughout the park - plenty of hand towels, soap and toilet paper. The only problem with the toilets was the lack of anywhere to hang my bag, hardly grounds for complaint. Eating You really are spoilt for choice as to what you want to eat here. They cater for all ages and tastes, you can get pizza, southern fried chicken, jacket potatoes, burgers, hot dogs, salads or something with chips. We opted for the family restaurant near to the entrance, as James was looking hungrily at the camels and I feared for their safety. The family restaurant seats 280 people at one time. The queuing time was minimal - at about 12.30 we
queued for 10 minutes to get a hot meal. The children's menu consists of fish shaped whales, chicken animal, or sausages served with either chips or potatoes and either peas or beans and costs £1.99. When you see the size of the portions you wonder how they make any money on food sales, the plateful they gave James, defeated even him! The adult menu consists of sausages (huge), meat pie, chicken Kiev or fish with either potatoes or chips and beans or peas and cost £4.99. For the more health conscious you could have a ploughmans lunch, which really was a plateful with a piece of cheese that would make a charging rhino think twice, all that costs is £3.50. The usual drinks were on offer, tea, coffee and hot chocolate, priced from 70p upwards, also coke, fanta, lemonade were on offer at £1.10 for a regular and £1.30 for a large. James and I managed to wade through a large one, but a regular one would have served the both of us. In all honesty the food was very good, although the menu is not vast, it served a purpose and filled a hole. The amount of food given and the price was very impressive indeed. I was impressed with the cleanliness of the restaurant - tables were cleared almost as soon as they were vacated and disinfected, ready for the next customer. The Park Once in the amusement park itself you are faced with the delighted and terrified screams of people enjoying themselves on the rides. Before you can start to join in the fun you have to purchase either wristbands or tickets to go on the rides. Height restrictions apply on some rides. 'Giraffe Rides' - Suitable for those over 1.2 metres - £7.50 'Tiger Rides' - Suitable for those below 1.2 metres - £6.00 Some of the rides will allow you to accompany your child; if this is the case you will either need a wristband or ride ticket. Ride tickets are available from machines situated around the park, close to rides. Each ticket cos
ts £1, please note that some of the rides do need two tickets per person to ride The wristbands are brightly coloured and are put on at the ticket office, but the staff member. They do try not to put them on too tight, but if in doubt stick your finger on your child?s wrist whilst they put the band on to make sure its not too tight. If you take off your band, then you will not be able to ride. The bands will NOT slip off, even when wet. They do not disintegrate either when wet. In fact you really do need a pair of scissors to get them off - during the two-hour journey home; James tried in vain to remove it - with no joy! Once you are a fully-fledged giraffe or tiger you are set to ride the rides! Walls Twister Coaster - a sickening looking ride that James was desperate to go on. It looks similar to a pirate ship, but is round and as you swing to and fro, you are also spun round - bleurgh! I was soooo glad that James was too small, hopefully by the time he is old enough, I wont have to go on with him. From the screams and the race to queue again of those getting off, it is a huge success! Kilamanjaro Jets - this was more my style, or so I thought! It looks like a small children's ride, but is more hair raising than it looks. You sit in these little jets, which thoughtfully have a little canopy on them. There is a steering wheel inside and a 'gear stick', once you have been fastened in by the attendant the ride starts. As you turn around the roundabout, pulling back on aforementioned stick sends you up in the air at a rate of knots, leaving your stomach on the floor! A recommendation here is NOT to let an over excited 3-year-old be in charge on this stick! This was a superb ride, which went on far to long for me and not long enough for James! Jungle Cat Dodgems - basically your usual dogems Dr. Umboto's Ghost Train - this was NOT a success with James, it is very very dark in there, and as you travel rou
nd in the pitch black light suddenly come on to illuminate the scaries! Not THAT scary to me, although the vomiting man did leave an impression! Zambezi Water Splash - I was dreading the log flume, but this one really took the biscuit. You don't go down one drop, nor two, but three. The drops get steeper and longer as you progress. The final drop feels almost vertical and I was practically lying down in the boat as we dropped. Please please remember keep your mouth firmly closed - a mouthful of water is really NOT pleasant. James thought it huge fun, that I ended up coughing and spluttering and wanted to do it again. We didn't needless to say. The all important thing you want to know - did we get wet? WE GOT BLUDDY SOAKED!! Not the best ride to go on at the beginning! You have been warned! You can however buy rain macs in the gift shops around the park. These blue macs are superb. Costing £1.50 each they have a drawstring hood and cover you to the knees. The only fault I can find with this ride, is the fact that the flumes keep moving whilst you get on and off. There is a sign warning you of this fact and the flumes move quite slowly, it is still a panic getting children on and off though. As you get off the flume, wait for the log behind you to hit the log you are in. If you don't, you will be knocked over with the impact, fortunately I had already got James out of the log before we were hit - sending just me sprawling ? to the hilarity of the attendant! Pump it Up - this wasn't open when we were at the park. African Big Apple Coaster - This is fantastic roller coaster that even James could go on on his own, although adults can accompany their children. You climb into a huge goofy green caterpillar and away you go. From the shrieks and screams and smiles it was a hit with all the children. Flying Lion Kings Ride - the cars are shaped as the characters in the lion king. A ride suitable for the smallest of little
39;uns. James found this quite tame, although it did go up in the air, so he was reasonably happy - looking for his next adrenaline rush! Congo Carousel - Another ride for the little ones. Pirate Ship - spotted from the above mentioned lions kings ride, this is a firm favourite in James book! As the usual pirate ship - but it seems to go on and on and on and on and on and on. Tanganyika Tea Cups - once again a ride for the younger children. Slippery Snake Slide - this proved to be a nightmare. An enormous helter skelter shaped like a snake. You are given a sack at the bottom of the ride, and away you go. Trouble was, James could have filled the sack and had the top tied. On his climb up the tower he became stuck and I had to climb up and fetch him, no mean feat when the steps are made for children's feet! Although not a success with James, the other kids seemed to love it, going back for more! Simba Express Train - This again is a ride for the littlies. A simple train that runs around a short track, the children can either sit in the engine, or in the carriages behind. Desert Convoy - this looked quite fun, and I wished I could have a go. Scaled down versions of American trucks roll around a track in a convoy - what more can I say! Red Baron - once again James took to the skies in his little BI plane, another tame ride that is suitable for all children. I feel quite exhausted after reliving all that! All the rides were in superb condition and looked as though there were really well maintained. The attendants on the rides were extremely attentive; stopping rides if children were distressed (adults too on one occasion - not me I hasten to add). All the rides had excellent safety straps or bars fitted and no bloody noses or split lips! The attendants were very vigilant in checking the safety bars and straps were in place, before the ride set off. The attendants paid close att
ention to the height restrictions, if they were unsure at any point, they made the child stand against the measuring line at the entrance to ALL rides before allowing them to ride. The children that were below the line were NOT admitted to the ride. All the attendants were smartly turned out, in sweatshirts, trousers and caps with the West Midlands Safari park logo. Although they were all young people, they were all fantastic with the children on the rides, and polite and cheerful looking even though it was persisting down with rain. As well as the above rides, there were various stalls and games to play around the park, from hook a bag, to lion racing, throwing balls in goldfish bowls and so on. We did manage to win a prize ' a beanie treelo' from Bear in the big Blue House. I was very surprised at the quality of the toys, and to find they were official too! They also have an amusement arcade and for 30p we had three quarters of an hours fun shoving 2ps in slots hoping to win sweeties that fell down with the coins. Just as we were down to the last few coins, another load fell down with another shower of sweeties! We had so many as we left that James gave most of his away to a little girl who was crying because they hadn't won any. I had a tear in my eye too, as James said 'I feel like Santa now cus I made her happy, is that what Santa feels like inside mummy?' Out of the mouths of babes eh? At the end of the day we caught a little train from the amusement park back to the car park. This was welcome relief as we had been on our feet for most of the day. The train runs every quarter to the hour and takes you past the hippo swamps and through 'lama country' again. The engine driver gave us some pellets to feed the lama - free! Be prepared for the smell of the hippos as you pass them by - they are 'ripe' to say the least! This train is free to all, so anyone without a ticket or wristband need not
worry. Once off the train you can go into one of the many souvenir shops on the site. Here you will find stuffed animals of most varieties as well as gifts to remember your day. Another little nicety here, one I have never encountered before, is a little machine that, for 51p will give you a lovely momento of your day. Simply place your 50p and your penny in the indicated slots and slide in. You watch as your penny is stretched into a lozenge shape and stamped with the West Midlands Safari Park logo. Before any of you go reporting me to the Royal Mint, they do have permission to do this! What can I say in summary about West Midlands Safari Park? I think those clever people that run the park have got everything right, they even have a cash point in the park, right next to the restaurant. I can find no real faults at all, with either the safari park or the amusement park. Their staff are superb, their facilities are superb too. Although we James and I had a superb day there I think that teenagers would find the rides rather tame. I think the whole experience is most suitable for families with children up to the age of about 13. To say I found the actual safari magical is an understatement. I have seen tigers in the wild in India and been very close to them then, this brought back many magical memories of that time and I almost felt as though I was there again. The park, well I think that was the highlight of James' day oh that and stroking a fawn in the petting zoo, which I forgot to mention. I have the most adorable picture of James looking at a fawn looking at him and him surrounded by goats, I also have a wonderful aroma on my trainers from the ingrained 'poop' collected in this area! I have just been to peek at my little man sprawled out in his bed fast asleep with a smile on his face and I know he is dreaming of the fantastic day out we had at West Midlands Safari park. Would we go again? TOMO
RROW!!!!! if James had anything to do with it, perhaps not then, but definitely soon
Kangarooni a child's game from the Early Learning Centre, a very similar idea to Buckaroo - you know the grumpy donkey on which you have to load all manner of items very carefully to make sure it doesn't buck - well Kangarooni is pretty much the same. The game consists of one large brown jointed plastic Kangaroo, sporting a very fetching and unrealistic pouch with the Australian flag emblazoned upon it. The Kangaroo has a rather pleasant if goofy appearance and has a moveable head. If you will imagine the Kangaroo sitting on its hind legs - the knees are jointed, as is the tail section in three places. Not only this but also you have 14 Australian themed objects including a rather pink Aussie hat, a baby Joey, a Koala Bear, a platypus, crocodile, shovel, didgeridoo, rugby ball, boomerang, sunglasses (dame Edna style) cricket bat, kettle, surfboard and of course the Sydney Opera House. The plastic pieces are all different weights and sizes; none of the playing pieces are less than 2 inches in length. Although the game is recommended for children 4 years and above, James was bought it when he was two and chewing on the pieces has never entered into it, I would go so far as to say that the pieces don't pose a choking threat - having said that the most determined child can choke on anything - so supervision for the very small would be advised. The playing pieces are very brightly coloured Fuchsia pink, Lurid lime green, over powering orange and yucky yellow - these are not the kind of pieces that will get lost on the carpet, ready to strike that tender spot on the sole of your foot! The object of the game is for each player to place a playing piece into the Kangaroos pouch, taking care not to make her jump! Now as the pieces are rather big and the pouch quite small in comparison this takes a great deal of skill! Make sure there are no volatile cats or dogs in the area when playing - as when she jumps- Kangarooni make a bit of a row
! As the pieces are quite heavy - an advantage as you don't get them scattered all over the room when she jumps and spend valuable playing time retrieving them from the insides of lampshades and the like! James loves his Kangarooni and has led to many an interesting fact finding mission for him and myself - he knows all about Koalas, crocodiles, platypus and Kangaroos not to mention my tuneless renditions of 'Tie Me kangaroo down sport' and Waltzing Matilda. The game is not just fun, but a learning experience as well - it helps with hand/eye co- ordination, counting, colour recognition, sharing, encourages conversation, taking turns and learning all about different parts of the world, all the things that little people need to know about. The overall construction of the toy is excellent, we have had Kangarooni for 2 years now and there is not a mark on her despite being played with on an almost daily basis. All the screws holding the body together are recessed deeply within the body and have never had to be tightened up - despite regular checks. The actual Kangaroo comes complete on its base and requires no putting together at all, a bonus for impatient children! All the playing pieces are constructed from single pieces of plastic, so there are no little bits to get broken or chewed off. All in all I quite like this toy - suprising really as I hate Buckaroo, in comparison to Kangarooni it is a very flimsy thing indeed. My only complaint about the whole toy is the degree of difficulty it takes to 'set' the Kangaroo. First you have to cock back the Kangaroo on its tail, then push both knee joints firmly backwards, whilst doing that push up the pouch. It is fairly easy for an adult to do, after some month's practice, but for a child it is difficult, bordering on the impossible. I think for ten pounds this is an excellent buy there certainly are not many toys of this quality, at this price, that ch
ildren will play with over and over again and remain in tact.
James had been pestering for 'Pop up pirate' for a couple of weeks so when we saw one at a car boot sale we thought 'why not' specially as it only cost us fifty pence -usual shop price is £9.99 so we thought this a bargain. The game is made by Tomy Active and is for up to 4 players, aged four and above. Well to be truthful James is only three - but has never been one for 'chewing' things, so we thought we would be ok with this. Inside the box you get a plastic blue disc decorated with stickers of sharks and octopus plus a 'desert island' scene. There is a slight raised area on which the barrel sits on. The barrel is quite heavy and the weight of it holds it in place on the plastic disc. The barrel has two rows of slots around the sides, into which the 'swords' fit. Swords? Swords? In a child's game? What kind of mother is she? DON'T panic folks please! The swords are small 'sword shaped' pieces of plastic, which slide into the slots around the edges of the barrel. They are made from whole pieces of plastic and are thick and sturdy - with no chance of any parts being broken off. There are no sharp corners on them and the end is as blunt as a butter knife. It would be wise to enforce to your little darlings however that these are TOYS - only the barrel receives the edge of the sword and NOTHING else! Now for the pirate, this again is made from plastic, three pieces in this case and is quite lightweight. He wears a rather funky pink bandana, has jug ears, an eye patch and a 'mouse tush' as my son calls it (?). There is nothing remotely scary about the looks of this little chap - he looks quite jolly to be honest and certainly stopped James' fears about pirates. To play the game each person chooses a colour and picks their swords - red, blue, green or yellow. Push the pirate firmly into the barrel until he clicks.Setting the pirate is very simple, even for c
hildren. Then taking it in turns, push in your swords and hope like crazy you don't make the pirate pop up! A little bit of advice here, DO NOT lean over the pirate whilst inserting your swords! Should he decide to pop up nasty injury could occur - I have only once mind, had my glasses knocked clean off my face whilst playing this game - not from over excitement on my part either, more the speed and height with which the pirate 'pops'. Although not a serious injury I did have a rather bruised eye for a couple of days afterwards. I do think that the box should carry a warning to this effect as many children like to play on the floor as there is more room. Although the pirate is quite light, it may result in a nastier injury to a child. Whoever makes the pirate pop is the loser, the remaining players remove their swords reset the pirate and play starts again. We have played this game countless times and it still remains a firm favourite, with kids anyway! Make sure your dogs and cats are out of the room at the time of playing, when he pops he goes with more of a bang than a pop - which can be quite startling - likewise with older grandparents/relatives! We have had pop up pirate a long time now, and as I said bought him second hand - he is still in good condition and his spring-loaded 'popper' is still as strong as ever. All in all a fabulous toy with huge play value, just make sure you don't play this game on the floor. Keep it on the table and everyone will be safe from this popping pirate!
Set in the beautiful and scenic location of Matlock Bath, Derbyshire is perhaps a little known world, a world of fun, frolics, and adventures, that place is Gulliver's Kingdom - a children's adventure park. I have never seen Gulliver's Kingdom advertised on television, radio or in newspapers and only know about it as I used to live in and around Matlock for a number of years. So when James came along I thought it would an ideal place to visit with him, as he grew older, preparing him for the more boisterous rides at Theme parks such as Alton Towers. If you plan on going to Gulliver's Kingdom make sure you wear trainers or other sensible shoes - the hills are a killer on the feet and if you are unfit. The scenery is however worth it! OPENING TIMES The park is open March to December opening between 10 -10.30 am and closing 5 -5.30 PM, check on their website for more details www.gulliversfun.co.uk. ADMISSION PRICES Adults and children over 90cm £6.80 per person Children under 90cm FREE Senior Citizens £5.80 per person Parties of 20 or more PAYING people £5.30 per person CAR PARKING As you turn off the main road upto the park the first thing that strikes you is the hill - more of a mountain that a hill some people might say - but having lived there, I guess I am used to it. There was some confusion when we arrived; we initially drove right up to the reception area - following the signs to the car park. There we were told we would have to park back down at the bottom of the hill. Off we set down the narrow twisty road, with lovely vertical drops on either side, parked in the bay at the bottom of the hill, and waited, as we were a few minutes early. Lo and behold a park attendant came trotting down to us and told us we couldn't park where we were as it was reserved for coaches. We explained we had been told to park there - but he insisted we moved. Off we set up the twisty turny
road once again - we had to wait quite a while for the top car park to be unlocked, but once there, we found ample parking space - well we would we were one of the first to arrive! I would say that there isn't really that much space for car parking, so best to get there early - the park opens at 10am, to be assured of benefiting from the free parking the park provides. We left at 2pm and 'car park' full signs were posted at the entrance. Once parked you then enter the park and pay your admission price. The park is spilt into sections: LILLIPUT LAND featuring Lilliput land castle, Crazy Barrel Ride, Gulliver's Travels ride, Jumping Star, Hard luck bear jamboree, Rio Grande Train Ride, Stepping Stones, Millennium Maze, Giant Chess, Shops, Amazing Journeys of Gulliver and the Tikki Bird Show. The majority of the rides in this section went down very well with James and Thomas, both aged three. The rides were fast enough for them, but not too boisterous - the fastest I think was the Crazy Barrel Ride - sort of like a waltzer, but one you control with a steering wheel in the car. The downfall with this section was the Amazing Journeys of Gulliver - appalling. We waited for 15 minutes outside the door, where it asks you to wait. After this period several other people and we gave up and started to walk back out again. The door then opened and an attendant looked out - then shut the door again. A few seconds later she opened the door and asked rather brusquely - 'are you coming on or what?'. When I pointed out there was no indication that the ride was working, she merely claimed 'well it is'. The ride itself was rather uninspiring - you are led into a very small dimly lit room, where you suddenly hear a voice talking to you and a small lit scene in the wall. The voice is very muffled and difficult to hear for an adult, never mind a child. This lasts for about 5 minutes and begins the story o
f Gulliver's travels. You are then led into another larger room - no word from the attendant at all, she stands there. In the next room you are regaled with takes of Gulliver by some rather hideous figures high up on the wall. This lasts for quite a while and it is difficult to concentrate whilst craning your neck to see the figures, that is from an adults point of view - imagine if you're a child. As you can imagine my 3-year-old son was soon asking if we could go, as were other children. We were then led to the main 'ride', which is platform with seats on; you sit down and have to put on a seat belt. A 'movie' is then shown on the screen and the platform on which you sit, tilts and rumbles, and rocks, as though you are flying. This caused great excitement with the kids, and if you let yourself get into it, it is pretty good for adults too. The beginning part of this 'ride' is boring - but if you can get through it, the actual ride itself was quite fun. FANTASY TERRACE Diggers, Toy Shop, Flight of Fantasy, Balloons Ferris wheel, Adventure golf Dodgems these were all in good condition and all in working order, seat belts are provided, but no enforcement about wearing them. The attendant did explain the one way system - but did nothing to enforce the rule about no head on crashing. One imbecile decided to ram everyone head on - leaving several small children in tears. Chair Lift - this looked fun and our children were dying to go on it - but the rules state that it is a one way only trip - should you want to go back up/down again you have to get off and re queue. I can understand the logic of this, as you can get on and off the chair lift at the top and bottom - so its great if you don't want to walk up the hills. My complaint is that there is no where secure to leave your pushchairs whilst you ride the chair lift. Playport - this would be superb but for the lig
hting. It is a soft play area, where children can run and jump and burn off some energy in an enclosed area, whilst the parents can take a breather on the benches and watch the children. The lighting in this area was very dim indeed - which deterred our children from venturing too far inside. BOURBON STREET. Chair lift, Lazy River ride, Veteran cars Horses carousel this was a firm favourite with both adults and parents, there is an upper level of horses that is reserved for children only - older ones though as I wouldn't feel too happy about small children being up there on their own. Ball crawl - this is basically a huge ball pool, however it was in a quite disgusting mess, even early in the morning. There was evidence of melted ice cream, and the bottom of the ball pool was wet - with what I have no idea but both children had wet socks when they came out. Definitely in need of a good clean out! Under 5's play area this was a very dimly lit area indeed, with limited facilities - a small ball pool, and a seesaw and a large connect 4-type game to play. What concerned me most about this area was many parents seemed to leave their children here whilst they browsed in the gift shop. As the area is situated so close to the entrance, I would have thought the parents would have more sense! Barrel play area - this looked a tremendous amount of fun for small big 'uns, with barrels used to climb through and bridges and slides. The down side was the danger factor. The whole area was supposed to be covered with bark chippings - unfortunately they were sadly lacking in most important areas, under the slides. Some of the decorative metal banding on the barrels was severely rusty and in parts coming away. I managed to sustain a 3-inch cut on my shin from one of these barrels. Another feature of concern in this area was the thatching on the roofs of the barrels. The thatch was covered with chicken wire to stop it fa
lling apart I assume. This was coming down in places, and being at head and eye height very dangerous indeed. Whilst we were there, two children caught parts of their faces on this wire causing marked scratches - this could have been so much worse. Pirate ship - this was another firm favourite with our children and all went swimmingly until we went round again and Thomas managed to fall off the surrounding decking into an area supposed to be covered with bark chippings. Instead of bark chippings, he fell headlong into disgusting black soup of mud and rotted bark. PALAIS ROYALE AREA Honey swing, Cycle monorail, Ladybird ride, Bouncy bed, Talking apple, Singing orange, Chair o plane, Pedal go karts, Gold panning £1.25, Food area Billy bobs BI planes - This was a superb ride, 4 BI plane type carriages which seat 4 people (2 adult, 2 children) in which you are securely fastened in. The ride then turns slowly up a large pole. At the top you can see the most fantastic views of Matlock Bath and over Gulliver's kingdom. NOT for those afraid of heights. Log roller coaster - another complaint I am afraid, this ride was in a gross state of disrepair - with obvious rotting supporting timbers of the canopy, which had I seen this before embarking on the ride, we would have got off immediately. The ride itself is great and the children loved it - until it stopped. At the end of the ride the brakes are slammed on hard! A little shocking to anyone - but to a small child made even more so by the slamming of your face into the safety bar, even though this is padded somewhat - it still has the ability to split small lips against teeth. A few seconds after the first stop - it happens again, the result? Several screaming children, a few with bloody mouths and some with bloody noses. I do feel there should be some warning about this before you get on the ride, and a rethink about how the safety bars are fitted. WESTERN WO
RLD Hillbilly shooting gallery, Sheriff office, Wild West saloon Adventure fort - this was a great area, apart from the fact we started our day here and the slides were wet with dew. Would it be too much trouble for the attendants to perhaps wipe all slides down at the start of the day? Happily it was a sunny day so the children's clothes soon dried. Again here more bark chippings need to be added in important areas such as the bottom of slides. LITTLE SWITZERLAND The royal cave experience, Dancing waters show Family fun show Animal farm - this is not a farm with real animals as we expected, but was interesting none the less. A human sized figure is seated in the room, with a cacophony of animals. There are large push buttons at child height and when pushed the person and the animals all sing Old Macdonald. Huge fun for little people. Log flume - On the whole a good ride and in reasonable order, however much superficial work is needed in this area. Cutting back of all the overgrown weeds and brambles is required. On four occasions there were both nettles and brambles that encroached into the car whilst it was in motion - resulting in nasty nettle rash on arms that were safely in the car. Mine train ride and tour a rather rickety looking ride, the voice over was very muffled and unable to hear and understand in parts. Inside the mine was interesting, more lighting required to be seen to full effect. Better lighting required at the exits, with fluorescent paint used perhaps on the steps FOOD AREAS, these are plentiful with a fairly good menu and reasonably priced. We chose to take our own food and found plenty of seating. All food areas were in good clean condition. TOILETS - these appeared to be plentiful and generally clean. However at 10am in the morning, there was no toilet paper in any of the cubicles, something we found that was common to all the to
ilets throughout the day. Just as well we all carry tissues for just such eventualities. DISABLED ACCESS - This is not a place for wheelchair users in my opinion, the hills make it very hard going indeed and most of the rides do not cater for disabled people. First Aid facilities - none found. Although most parents tend to carry plasters, antiseptic and the like, a first aid post would be a good addition to the park. STORAGE FACILITES - there are lockers available to put picnics into, so you don't have to cart everything around with you. These are situated at Bourbon Street, near the main entrance. A £1 deposit is taken from you each and every time you open/close the locker - making repeated visits expensive. Alternatively you can get a 'pass out' after 1pm, so you can leave your picnic in the car. Queuing times - we went on a Friday, during term time. There were quite a few coaches there, and as I said before the car parks were full when we left at 2pm. Having said that queuing times were minimal or non-existent - we managed to stay on the log flume a good few times, and the pirate ship without getting off and on again. GIFT SHOPS There are several of these on the site all containing pretty much the same things, wrist bands, pencils, purses with names on, toys which will break before the day is out and so on. There are some lovely pottery items however; none of which will break the bank! There are icecreams and drinks on sale in some of the gift shops - I was amazed that a can of Pepsi was only 60 pence -expecting to pay at least £1. STAFF - The staff were mainly younger people 16 - 20, most of them were very uncommunicative and quite rude at times. One young girl told me she 'hated bloody children' one has to ask the question why does she work there then. The more mature staff were superb, making friendly converstion with both parents and children. The park i
s mainly aimed at children from 3 - 12 years of age in my estimation, although they claim that 'At Gulliver's we aim to provide the best possible day out for families with children between the age of 2 - 13 years, and as such all the rides and attractions are aimed to cater for their specific needs.' In my opinion there was very little for 2 year olds to do here, unless they are over 90cm and feel that at age 13 children today are big enough and bold enough to encounter more exciting rides than the ones offered at Gulliver's kingdom. All in all James and Thomas did enjoy themselves and loved the majority of the rides on offer. However the cut leg, nettle rash, bramble scratches and split lip and bloody nose, marred the day for my friend and myself. Not to mention being constantly on guard to make sure things were safe for our children, in a place where we were supposed to have the best possible day out! Although the admission price is very competitive and there is lots for younger children 3- 8 to do here, but because of the problems outlined above I would NOT recommend Gulliver's Kingdom to anyone at present. There are far too many things that need addressing as far as safety is concerned. If you still wish to visit here are a few tips: Don't go on the log flume first unless it is a sunny day! Take a cloth with you to wipe down wet slides/swings/seats Take plenty of tissues/baby wipes Take a small first aid kit with you Take a spare change of clothing for your children Wear sensible shoes Start at the bottom of the park and work your way up. It is easier for children to walk downhill at the end of the day than it is up hill! If possible try not to take a pushchair with you - it is hard work pushing them up the hills, plus you have to leave them unattended whilst on the rides. Take the smallest bag you can with all your be
longings in it and keep with you at all times. I hope you have a better visit than we did. I have sent a letter to Gulliver's Kingdom outlining my concerns about their park. If I get a reply I will update this opinion.
www.myvoice.co.uk What is it? My voice is platform for finding out what people really think, by answering short polls and surveys. The members at MyVoice actually choose to sign up and answer the polls available. It is in that way that MyVoice get a good cross section of the community to answer some serious and some fun polls. My voice actually began in 1999 in Japan and now has 60,000 members worldwide. How does it work? There is no advertising on the Myvoice.co.uk website, and they promise not to sell your personal data on to third parties. My voice do sell the results of the polls to councils, governments and companies, who want to find out what real people think about products or services. It is in this way that they can give away the vouchers and prizes. I have quite often seen the results of the polls published in newspapers and magazines and also on teletext. It is free to join up and anyone over the age of 16 can sign up, members of the same household are allowed to sign up, as long as they fill in the questionnaires themselves, so you could have your husband/wife/partner/sister/brother/sons/daughters etc as members as long as they all have their own accounts, and are over 16. Is there an incentive to join? Yes, in short there is. For completing the polls you are rewarded with a number of 'points', anything from 0 - 50, the majority of polls are for around 10 points. You may also be asked to participate in market research, filling out a more detailed questionnaire, which will earn you more points - up to 500. In addition to the polls/points system there are prizes on offer at present you can win £1000 in cash and £1000 in Expedia.co.uk vouchers. Every time you take a poll you are entered into the prize draws for that month. You can also earn 25 points per person you refer. What can I do with my points? Firstly you have to be over 18 to cla
im your points, a little harsh I think, as they encourage people over 16 to sign up. You must have an address in the UK or Northern Ireland to claim also. You can also donate your points to charity. Once you have 2000 points - it does sound a lot, but trust me it really does mount up quite quickly, you can request your vouchers to be sent to you. You will receive your £20 voucher within a few days, they arrive very swiftly too - mine arrived the next day. There are a vast amount of vouchers to choose from, plus you can request that Myvoice add new ones. The vouchers you can currently choose are: Amazon, Marks & Spencer, Boots, Dixons, Virgin Megastore, WH Smiths, Tesco stores, Sainsbury stores, Choice vouchers (valid in Argos, Woolworths, HMV, Dolcis, Mothercare, BHS, JJB Sports, H. Samuel) and Leisure Vouchers (valid in Pizza Hut, TGI Friday's, Thresher, Victoria Wine Shops, Marriott Hotels, David Lloyd centres). As you can see there is definitely something for everyone there. How do I keep a record of my points? Easy it is all done for you, on your 'my account' page. Here you will see how many 'points' you have and how many prize draw entries you have. How do I take a poll? Simple, on the home page click on the poll you fancy taking and answer the questions. There are usually between 5 - 10 questions to answer, click on the circle, which is appropriate to you and on to the next question. Make sure you are logged in though, or your answers won't accrue you any points. If you mistakenly click on a poll you have already taken, a message will come up that you have already done that poll - so no chance for earning points over and over for the same poll! Sometimes you will be asked to complete a more detailed survey about a product, in this case you will be emailed and invited to participate. I have only had one of these - a survey sent through the post on CD-ROM for which
I accrued 100 points. This survey took me about 15 minutes to complete and was quite interesting. If you don't want to take a poll or survey, simple - don't, there is no pressure from Myvoice to answer anything. What are the polls about? There are a variety of polls, at present there are polls entitled 'Entitlement Card' Scheme', 'Who will get the vote for Archbishop of Canterbury?' and 'Carnivore, omnivore or vegetarian?'. After you have taken the poll, you are able to see the results in graph form, of how other people have answered. In addition to seeing other people's ideas, you can visit the Myvoice forum, where you can share your ideas and thoughts with other people. How often do new polls appear? There are usually at least 2 polls running, more often than not more. There is generally a new poll each week, but it is wise to keep checking the site at least every couple of days. If you have already taken a poll - you will be advised of this. How much personal information do they want? On signing up they require your username, password, full name, location and postcode. Also your email address, gender, marital status, lifestage and date of birth. Once you have signed up with these details, you are officially registered and have already earned 50 points. You can then choose to fill in the 4 more in-depth areas about your life, which will earn you another 48 points. You can choose to answer all or none of the questions. I have been a member of Myvoice for a year now, and in that time I have received only one communication from them by post - the above mentioned CD ROM. I have had no spam email from them whatsoever, in fact the only communication I have with them, was the welcome email when I registered. Conclusion Myvoice is a fun and interesting way of accruing points to gain on or offline vouchers, for very
little involvement. All it takes is a visit a day to check of there are any new polls. The website itself is fast to load and easy to navigate. The polls are interesting, especially looking at the results of them and how your answers fit in with those of others. The forum is a good place to air your views, although not many people seem to use it at present. I have seen the results of some of the polls in newspapers and on teletext services, which is rewarding to think that your views really do matter to 'them upstairs' as it were, and to think that they may take SOME notice of what the man in the street thinks! So what are you waiting for - stop reading this and head on over there!!
I am not in anyway shape or form a fan of doing laundry and will try anything to get out of doing it! When Lenor launched their all-new ?stayfresh? variety of fabric softener with ?Febreze technology? I figured it might just cut down on some of my workload! To anyone who hasn?t heard of Febreze, it is a trigger action spray that can be used to neutralize odours such as smoke, pet smells, cooking smells etc from clothes and soft furnishings ? you must have seen the advert ? ?Has Dave given up smoking?? So those kind people at Procter & Gamble have combined this idea of neutralizing smells into their fabric softener - a nifty idea methinks rather than just masking the smell with a heavy and overpowering fragrance. You can buy Lenor from all supermarkets and many thrift stores and prices vary depending on where you shop. I bought a 2-litre bottle from Safeway for £1.79, but have seen it cheaper elsewhere. The bottle is a sea green plastic container with a pale blue top. The liquid contained in the bottle is a very thin consistency and is pale blue in colour. A two-litre bottle claims to cater for 18 regular washes ? recommended amount for a regular wash is 110 mls or a capful from the bottle. I must admit that I tend to use less than this, probably about a third and find that the softening properties and fragrance is not affected at all. I don?t use the cap to measure, as I found that when I replaced the cap any remaining liquid left inside tended to dribble down the bottle creating not only mess but waste as well ? thrifty to the end eh! After washing the clothes even wet felt soft to the touch and smelt very pleasant. I find a lot of fabric softeners have a rather cloying sweet smell rather akin to toilet cleaner. With Lenor stayfresh this was not the case at all, the scent is floral without being overpoweringly so and has a slight ?sherbety? fragrance. Lenor stay fresh claims to ? help clothes keep a just w
ashed freshness all day long. Febreze technology helps to neutralize unpleasant odours before they can settle into your clothes?. I must admit that the fragrance of Lenor stayfresh lingered more strongly after line drying than after tumble drying and clothes were every bit as soft after both methods of drying ? including towels. Nothing worse than a rub down after a shower with a towel that would smooth the roughest wood. Ironing enhances the fragrance briefly, but does not appear to diminish it in any way. After laundering the clothes are very soft indeed and they do retain the fragrance of the softener ? on opening drawers/cupboards and airing cupboards there is a definite fragrance of the softener, even after seven days in the cupboard towels and clothes still smell fresh. After 10 days in a cupboard there is still a definite trace of the Lenor stayfresh. After a month in the airing cupboard clothes do still smell clean and fresh, although the fragrance is beginning to fade a little now. I was skeptical about freshness staying all day long on clothes, when being worn. But put to the test the claim is true, even in some pretty tough circumstances. After an evening in a pub and club you would expect your clothes to smell smokey at least, the morning after the night before sniff test revealed a very slight smell of smoke, not nearly as heavy and sickly as before use with Lenor stayfresh. After a hard days work, my clothes still smelt almost as fresh as when I had put them on that morning All in all I would give Lenor Stay fresh liquid 10/10 it lasts more than the 18 recommended washes, it makes my clothes soft and easy to wear and care for and it lives up to its claim that it keeps its fragrance. It is also dermatologically tested and I have found no ill effects on sensitive skin. I have found however that using a wash powder with a built in softener and fragrance is pretty pointless now, so save your pennies and opt for a ?norma
l? powder and Lenor Stayfresh.
Ah the cold season is laying people low all over the place, these poor people are the ones with shiny red noses, sniffling weakly into their hankies and generally feeling miserable with pounding heads and aching limbs. Help is only a squirt away with Vicks Sinex nasal pump spray. ~~ What does it do? ~~ The claim on the packaging is to 'clear a stuffy nose caused by a cold, hayfever or sinusitis.' ~~ How does it work? ~~ When you have a cold the blood vessels inside your nose become swollen stimulating the nasal membranes to produce large amounts of mucus. The medication in the spray contains elements to constrict the blood vessels and reduce the blood flow to your nostrils, thus the swollen vessels shrink and you cold 'dries up'. ~~ How do I use it? ~~ It really is a simple medication to take. I prefer the 'pump' action of the bottle to the 'squeezy' type bottle that you can also buy. To use, insert the nozzle into the nostril. Place your thumb on the base of the bottle, with index and middle fingers on the rim of the pump. Firmly squeeze the pump on the bottle to deliver either one or two sprays. Repeat for the other nostril. As you depress the pump, it is helpful to inhale through your nose if possible. This ensures the spray reaches as far into the nasal cavities as possible. ~~ How does it feel? ~~ This may sound a strange question to ask about a medication, but one I generally consider with nasal sprays. I have tried the squeezy bottles of nasal sprays and found them most unpleasant indeed. There is little sensation with this pump nasal spray other than the presence of the nozzle in your nose. The spray is very fine indeed and at most I can feel a slight tingle as it penetrates through the nasal cavities - not unpleasant at all. You may smell a very slight 'Vicks' scent and after a few mi
nutes a slight taste in the back of the throat. This is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about. It may be a little unpleasant for some people, but it doesn?t bother me at all, and disappears after a few minutes. ~~ What does it contain? ~~ Active ingredient: Oxymetazoline Hydrochloride. ~~ How long does it work for? ~~ Sinex state that their recommended dosage is 1-2 sprays per nostril every 6-8 hours for adults and children over 6 years. ~~ How long can I use it for? ~~ The bottle states that if your problem persists for more than 7 days seek advice from your doctor. However general medical consensus is that if after 3 days of use your problem persists, stop using the spray, and see what happens. It could be that you are suffering from 'rebound' congestion - as the spray wears off further swelling occurs of the sinus membranes. This creates more congestion; requiring increased doses of spray this building up tolerance and possible addiction. ~~ Is it safe to use with other medication? ~~ There is no warning on the bottle of any possible interactions, however in the leaflet inside the box it does warn that people with heart disease or high blood pressure, diabetes, overactive thyroid, glaucoma or enlarged prostrate to seek advice from your GP. There has been no PROVEN harm to unborn children and no PROVEN problems with breast-feeding. My advice would be to avoid whilst pregnant. Do ask your pharmacist if you are taking multiple medications if Sinex is suitable for you. ~~ DOES IT WORK? ~~ Perhaps the most important consideration. In my case yes it does. I usually use Sudafed to relieve any congestion, but after 3 days this had no effect on my pounding headache and aching face. After 2 days of using Sinex, one spray in each nostril morning and evening I am no longer congested in my face and have no headache at all. T
he relief delivered is almost instant, much quicker than oral preparations like Mucron or Sudafed. However having said that, it would not be the first line of attack when the congestion rears its ugly head again due to the possibility of rebound congestion. A handy and readily available and cheap product to have in your medicine cabinet, you can buy at most larger supermarkets and chemists for £2.50 per 10 mls (enough for 200 doses). SO if you have tried everything else to unblock you sinuses, try Sinex spray - but only for a maximum of three days!
This is probably going to be more of a rant than an opinion, but I feel that it just has to be said and hopefully some people may think a little about what they are doing! My rant is about parking, not just any kind of parking, but in particular the way parents/guardians or carers park their cars when delivering or collecting their children from school. The majority of children will live within walking distance of their school and yet I see their parents deliver them to school everyday come rain or shine. Driving short distance is environmentally unfriendly, not particularly economical on your car, and is also reducing the amount of exercise your children will get in their day, thus helping to create unfit, lazy children, who will constantly want to be driven here, there and everywhere! When I was at a day school, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, it used to take me 20 minutes to walk to school - no great distance really, it certainly woke me up and I could chatter to my friends on the way there. I sadly see children being brought to school by car who live less than 5 minutes walk away. Ask your parents if they walked to school, chances are they did, I know my father used to walk 5 miles to school and back every day, it never did him any harm. I live four houses away from the school my son attends, as you can imagine from 8.30 am until 9.30 am and 3pm until 4pm the traffic situation on the close is almost unbearable, with parents dropping their children off for nursery/infants and senior school. The school is situated on the end of the close, which means that parking is at a minimum. People appear to have no regard for the residents of the houses at all. They will park across your driveway despite cars being parked on them, completely ignoring signs requesting people NOT to block their driveways. The other morning there was a school field trip - a lot of parents brought their children to school in the c
ar as usual. I managed to get my car off the drive, after asking someone to move their car from across my drive, on reversing off the drive, I noticed someone had nipped into the space the previous occupier had vacated. Once again I got out and pleasantly asked them to move, which they did with bad grace and I went off on my travels. Realising I had forgotten something I returned home to find one of the cheeky sods had parked on my drive! Needless to say I parked across the drive and left the car there for an hour, creating much blue air from the person who had parked on my drive. When explaining that they were trespassing on my property, they became very abusive, claiming that I didn't own the road - which I hadn't claimed to own anyway - I merely pointed out that I did own the driveway attached to my house. Don't get me wrong I am not the kind of person who will make someone move if I am not going anywhere, but there are times when I need to get off the drive so I have no hesitation in moving someone. I can't believe the amount of abuse I get for asking politely. I have regularly been told to f**k off and wait. Someone even suggested to me that I should take the car off the drive before 8.30 am and park on the road if I am going out, then I would be able to with no problem. Why should I have to? One person even told me I shouldn't have moved here, as I should have been aware of what the traffic situation would be like. Yes that is a fair point, although why should I have to consider the selfishness of others when choosing my home? IT is not so much the volume of traffic that gets up my nose, as the way some people park their cars, albeit for five minutes. Not only do they block people's driveways by parking across them; they park dead opposite, with the road being so narrow, it is impossible to get on or off the drive. I have even seen people parking directly on the corner of the roads, thus making it difficult if n
ot impossible to get off the close anyway. They drive like lunatics, no consideration for people walking on the pavements with children or for those crossing the road. Many is the time I have heard crunches and twangs from wing mirrors crashing and there have been several accidents and shunts from impatient and inconsiderate drivers. Not only does the way people park create a nuisance for residents of the close, but it is also difficult and dangerous for the children to cross the road. It is difficult for them to find a 'safe' place to cross, as there is little or no space between the cars to be seen by oncoming drivers. SO please please please, all you parents/guardians THINK about the need to drive to school to pick up your charges. Would a ten-minute or less walk really hurt? I am all to aware of the potential dangers of children walking to school alone, they are a prime target for bullies, there is the problem of not enough lollipop ladies/gents to help children cross the road, and the danger of children being snatched on their way to school. I am not saying send them on their own, accompany them by all means. It would certainly affect your pocket, although in a positive manner - less petrol consumption, less wear and tear on the car and it may even help you feel more healthy having that little bit of exercise everyday. How about letting your children take the school bus? Many of them now are free or heavily subsidised, I'm not talking about letting very young children take the bus, but those of above 11 need not be taken by car. This will also help the child gain some level of independence and hopefully you will be able to remove the 'mums/dads/grans taxi' from the rear of your car. If you HAVE to drive your children to school, perhaps you have a fair distance to travel or are not on a bus route, consider a 'school run' with other local parents. You can all take turns taking the children to and from school. This h
as other advantages in that you will make friends, your children will make friends, you will save money on travel costs, and save people like me getting abuse from inconsiderate drivers/parkers. Finally should you take your children by car ~ THINK about where you are parking. If there is a car on the drive DON'T block it in, especially if there is a sign requesting you not to. ~SLOW you driving down, remember there will be children crossing the road to and from school, as well as other harassed parents trying to get to school on time. ~ IF there is no where to park, don't just abandon the car anywhere, think about leaving the house five minutes early and parking away from the school and walking a little way, it doesn't hurt HONEST. Finally, if someone does ask you to move your car, do so with good grace, courtesy doesn't cost anything, remember they may have to get to work too. All the best and safe parking.
Shrek a film that took almost three years to make and cost around £69 million not to mention the work of over 275 artists, computer animators and software developers and engineers - had I known this prior to its coming out on video, I perhaps would have ventured to the cinema to see it! As it happens I had only really taken any notice of this great green beast, when my three-year-old, James said he wanted Santa to bring him SHREK! The Story Shrek is a green Ogre who lives alone in his swamp, hardly surprising when you get an insight into his personal hygiene routine. He is occasionally bothered by 'Ogre hunters' but soon puts paid to their efforts - casually reminding them to run away! Unfortunately for Shrek, Lord Farquaad decides to banish all fairytale creatures to the swamp. Shrek unhappy at the invasion of his home and estate takes it upon himself to confront Lord Farquaad. So with the garrulous Donkey beside him he sets off for Duloc. On meeting the unctuous, indolent short arse Farquaad his first challenge is for his and Donkey's lives. Once dealing with the valiant knights, he is then challenged to rescue Princess Fiona on Farquaad's behalf, so he can marry her, thus becoming a fully-fledged King. Our ugly and cantankerous green hero sets off on his mission, with his unlikely sidekick. His appearance is welcomed by Princess Fiona, that is until he removes his helmet! Needless to say the return to Duloc is fraught with tension, as Fiona is repulsed by the look of her 'knight in shining armour' but that is softened by his appealing nature. In turn Shrek becomes less cantankerous and more tolerant, even of Donkey when he interrupts an obvious 'tender' moment between Shrek and Fiona. The animation in the film is like nothing I have ever seen before. The facial expressions are so life like, it is hard to remember sometimes that you are watching ani
mation. The little touches on the characters are incredible, right down to the spittle flying from Shrek's mouth as he scares away the ogre hunters. Visually there is nothing I can fault with Shrek at all. The basis of the story is one we are all familiar with, from age-old fairy tales: hero overcomes hardship and a wicked 'person' to get his girl and live happily ever after. In Shrek we see the basics, but there are plenty of 'twiddly bits' to keep the interest and amusement there. As for the film being for children, well this is one film I would have happily sat in the cinema for. The crude humour is quite subtle, although James did pick up on the 'fart in the mudbath' quite quickly. He now announces to all and sundry that he can 'trump like Shrek does and make bubbles!' Cute maybe, but not in the middle of Safeway on a busy Saturday afternoon! The jokes and one liners are well paced and will keep you laughing all the way to the end. The soundtrack to the film is quite foot tapping in parts, I have found myself singing along to some of the songs, much to James' delight! Shrek Soundtrack contents: 1. Stay Home 2. I'm A Believer - SMASH MOUTH 3. Like Wow! - LESLIE CARTER 4. It Is You(I Have Loved) - DANA GLOVER 5. Best Years of Our Lives - BAJA MEN 6. Bad Reputation - HALFCOCKED 7. My Beloved Monster - EELS 8. You Belong To Me - JASON WADE 9. All Star - SMASH MOUTH 10. Hallelujah - RUFUS WAINRIGHT 11. I'm On My Way - THE PROCLAIMERS 12. I'm A Believer(reprise) - EDDIE MURPHY 13. True Loves First Kiss - SCORE Despite having had Shrek on every day since its arrival in my house on Christmas day, I have not yet tired of watching it. It is a film I would recommend to any family, I would recommend that with children under five you sit and watch it with them for the first few viewings, as there are
some scenes they might find frightening for the first time. All in all an excellent film, with which I can find no fault at all and we eagerly await the coming of Shrek II. The video can be bought at most video outlets both on and offline prices may vary from £9.99 to £14.99
On a chill snowy evening there is nothing better than snuggling up in front of the fire with your family and a plate of oatcakes. Now some of you may well be wondering what exactly an oatcake is, I always thought they sounded disgusting, that was until and elderly Aunt placed in front of me a huge sweet pile of them. Oatcakes are not to be confused with a hard Scottish biscuity type thing, or a Stoke City fanzine, but something that very closely resembles a pancake, in that they are flat, round and similarly coloured. The taste however is subtle but very very pleasing, and they lend themselves to savoury snacks as well as sweet ones. They are made with strong white flour, oatmeal, yeast, salt, sugar, milk and water - the exact quantities are unknown and are kept a closely guarded secret by those who are in the 'know'. There are various 'recipes' to be found on the net, although the ones I have tried don?t even come close. Apparently oatcakes are recommended by some hospital dietitians, as they are low in fat and high in fibre. So a great way of adding some fibre to your diet, especially with children. Oatcakes can be used instead of bread in the diet, or as an alternative. ~~Some ideas for serving oatcakes~~ On cold days I generally take oatcakes to work as an alternative to cold sandwiches. Simply add the filling of your choice, cheese and onion, cheese and mushroom, cheese and black pudding; roll it up in similar fashion to rolling a pancake up. Place on a plate in the microwave and heat for around 30 seconds, or until the cheese has melted - and eat! ~Alternatively~ Grill one side of the oatcake, turn over and top with your choice in similar fashion to a pizza, I like to use cheese and bacon, but also serve with bacon and egg and mushrooms. You can also have beans and oatcake this, is a firm favourite with James and many of his friends
when they come for lunch, called bean mice by James! Take oatcake per person and cut them into quarters. Lay the quarters on the plate, flat, then place a teaspoon of beans into the centre of the quarters. Roll the oatcakes up and shape into 'cone' shapes on the plate - thus forming the 'mouse' body. Use beans to make eyes on the mice, place remaining beans in the centre of the plate and heat in the microwave for a few seconds to warm the oatcakes. It may sound a little bit fiddly, but watch the plate empty! My personal favourite recipe: Take one oatcake per person, lightly grill on one side. Take several large, homemade if possible, pickled onions and slice them. It doesn?t matter how large the slices are, slice according to your tastes, lay the slices on the ungrilled side of the oatcake. Slice the mushrooms also and lay them on top of the pickled onions. Lay slices of strong tasting cheese on top of the onion and mushroom, then place back under the grill until the cheese has melted. Once you have melted the cheese, smear marmite over the cheese according to your taste. Roll (if you can) the oatcake up and tuck in! There are several variations you can use; another favourite of mine is black pudding, pickled onions and cheese. As well as being a lovely savoury snack, oatcakes are great for desserts. Simply sprinkle some brown sugar on the surface of the oatcake, slice a banana lengthwise and place on the oatcake, sprinkle with some grated chocolate and roll it up and place under the grill or in the microwave for a few seconds. Obtaining oatcakes outside Staffordshire used to be a nightmare, they only seemed to be available during winter months and from specialised delicatessens, at a hefty price! Now Tesco?s bless their boots are stocking them in packs of 6 for 49p or you can buy them online, from www.high-lane-oatcakes.co.uk priced at £3.80 for a pack of 6! I think I will stick to buying them from Tesco
9;s! The oatcakes come in a cellophane packet and once opened need to be eaten within 24 hours. Oatcakes do freeze well and only take a couple of hours to defrost, at room temperature.
Now James is older and in his eyes 'wiser' I am forever on a quest to stimulate his mind and keep his hands out of trouble in a fun, constructive manner. I was delighted with some of the ideas I found on crayola.com and it is now a regular resource on rainy days! On first visiting the site you are invited to register, should you live in Canada or the US you will receive 15% discount on your next visit to their store. So what?s the point in signing up then you may be asking. Well you will be able to personalise the site to you and your child?s liking, you will have access to over 500 'inspiring' ideas and 1000 activity book pages. You will also receive a free crayola.com email and personalised crayola.com email newsletter. The main benefits are for those living in the US or Canada, but its free so why not! You can either register as kids, or adults. I registered James under Kids so I am not sure what difference it makes which one you choose, although I did have to click to say that ?parent was present?. There is nothing to stop a child clicking on this anyway, but there we go. The registration process is fairly simple and painless, taking about 5 minutes to complete. The site design is pretty basic; a black background with a yellow foreground, on which you will find links to access the various areas of the site. The home page loads pretty quickly, as there is limited information and graphics. However other pages do take some time to load, making it frustrating for small children who, if anything like James will be bouncing off the walls knowing something 'fun' is about to occur. The home page has 9 of those crayola wax crayons as icons down the side each signifying the different areas of the site. Inspiring ideas You can select from the drop down menus what kind of activity you are looking for, such as gifts to make, group activities, outdoor fun
and so on, there really is something for every age group. You can then select the theme, whether it be season related, based on animals, numbers the list seems endless and covering all possibilities it seems. I have yet to fail to find something to amuse James. Finally you choose what media you want to play with, whether it be pens, pencils, paper, chalk, putty and so on. Card creator A vast array of cards for every occasion, almost as many as Blue mountain.com! There is limited fun to be had here for really young children, but as they grow old enough to be able to send cards to online pals, the possibilities are endless and parents online time will be severely curbed! The crayola store.com As the name suggests, a complete guide as to what you can buy from crayola. There are also handy guides as to who certain gifts are appropriate for. This was quite handy as I had seen a gift set for James, but have found some of the contents will be unsuitable for him as yet. Colour census A census was carried out in 2000 the most popular crayola colour is 'blue' amongst all those fantastic colours like 'blizzard blue' and 'periwinkle' the favourite was BLUE!! There are also a series of celebrity colour quizzes to take, where you have to guess the Celebes favourite colour; did you know that Courtney Cox?s was red? Apparently she says, if you paint your door red it lets love it - maybe someone should tell her that a red light bulb will have the same effect, plus she would get paid more for it? You can also complete a quiz about colours, more for the adults amongst us than the children. I actually scored 4 on the quiz, if anyone does any better leave me a comment! Activity book Here you really will find an amazing range of child friendly activities, perfect for those coming rainy cold days and the school holidays.
The crayola factory You can take a virtual tour of the factory here. You can see how the crayons are made and learn a little about the history of how and why. Where to buy Speaks for itself. You can buy Crayola goods from all major stationers such as Smiths, Partners and Staples Helpful information Basically how to contact Crayola and a little history about them. There are also some handy tips on how to get the range of media out of clothes. Did you know that spraying fabric stained with colourstick with WD 40 will bring it out?? Nope me either! Also on the home page is feature for the month. As it is approaching Halloween, that is the focus for the activities. There are several 'themed' activities such as a fridge watching witch. You are given all the items required to make it, excellent instructions as to how to make it and a picture to compare it to if you get really stuck. The activities are generally aimed at children aged 4 and over, but younger children can enjoy them too as long as an adult is closely supervising. Not only recipes for a specific activity given, but also ideas for other activities such as card games, discussions etc. All in all this is an excellent site for anyone with children in their lives, be they teachers, childminders, parents, aunts, uncles or even friends. It provides interesting fun, that incorporated a learning theme, without children realising. The site can provide invaluable resources for everyone. Instead of screaming at the kids, find an activity on the site, get everything ready, when they are bored and restless sit down with them and 'play', I usually look for something the night before, if I know I am having a 'home' day and get everything ready. Believe me, you will be less stressed, your children will be learning and having fun, most of all they will be doing something constructive rather than d
These are the words I heard a mother use to her three year old in the supermarket the other day! The little tykes crime?? To put in the shopping basket some sweets that he had been told repeatedly he couldn’t have. Needless to say he then proceeded to scream and whine and rant and rave until the poor mother agreed – mummy 0 toddler 1. How many times whilst out shopping do you see this happening? Ever wanted a book that would completely change your life and that of your tantruming toddler? Well here it is folks, not exactly a new book on the scene, but has been updated for today’s little hellions! Toddler Taming by Dr Christopher Green is the most essential book for every parent, with children aged 1- 5. I firmly believe it should be given out at birth instead of the ridiculous book they do give you that tells you how wonderful your baby/ toddler will be. Do not be deceived by their adorable looks, when babies hit toddlerdom they are a force to be reckoned with – worst of all THEY KNOW IT!! So who is this Dr Green that will change your toddlers behaviour with words, he is Consultant Paediatrictian and head of Child Development Unit of the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children in Sydney. Not only does he have an impressive array of letters after his name – he also has the benefit of experience with his own two sons, all too often you will get ‘expert’ advice from someone who has never been a 24 hour parent. So what is so special about the book - well in a nutshell it offers PRACTICAL advice. It understands your problems, and I haven’t found a problem that hasn’t been covered …..YET! The techniques used to ‘tame’ your toddler are easy to put into practice and reassure you that you are not being too hard/soft on your child. Some Chapters included in the book are: ~ Confidence is the trick – the most effective weapon you hav
e against your willful bundle of joy is confidence, once they see that waver they have cracked your code and the safe is theirs for the raiding. There is a little section about some myths – all of them blown into outerspace as most certainly incorrect for example ‘working mothers do great harm to their children’. The chapter does emphasize the foundation for a happy secure childhood is laid down by love, consistency, good example, reasonable expectations, fun and enjoyment and confidence. A child who is brought up in a tense and violent atmosphere where parents are shouting and swearing at each other daily, is not going to be a particularly happy child. A child who swears and rants at his mother and is not chastised in anyway is going to be confused when he does the same with his father and is punished. ~ What makes toddlers tick? You will laugh and cry in the section, it is so accurate it is untrue. You gain a good insight into perhaps WHY little Jimmy does the things that he does, and start to avoid such situations or remedy them. Perhaps your toddler rants and raves in the supermarket that he wants some sweets you can either give in and avoid the embarrassing outburst and listen to the tuts of stronger willed parents and the ching of the dentists till, say no and mean no and have your child rant and rave around the shop, again listening to the tuts of other shoppers or you can leave your child with a relative whilst out shopping. I know my preferred method and shopping is a much more enjoyable experience. Once your child knows that a firm ‘no’ means exactly that, they know where they stand. ~Behaviour – what is normal? This chapter will most certainly reassure the majority of parents that their child is completely ‘normal’ and that the tantrums they are experiencing happens to everyone! All toddlers crave attention and will find a way to get it! All toddlers tend to be stubborn and wi
llful, All toddlers show little respect for other people property, are completely blind to the chaos they create and change their minds every minute. It is all too easy to say but very hard not to compare your child to someone else’s, try not to – your child is an individual, it is up to you to mould that individuality. I fall in the camp that says that no child is born ‘bad’ they are only made bad by their environment. Watch your child at play and listen to the phrases they use – they are the ones that you use in daily life. If she/he hears daddy/ mummy swearing all the time – chances are he will do the same. ~Understanding toddler behaviour This Dr could make a fortune if he could write a book about what makes men and women tick and was as accurate about it as he is a toddler! If you have a bad day, chances are your little treasure will also have a bad day, this could be due to the fact your stress and tension is passed on, or everything they do seems 10 times worse because you are tired/angry/upset. As you can see the book firstly examines the ‘whys’ of the behaviour of toddlers rather than just telling you ‘how’ to deal with things, it does then go on to deal with ‘how’ to deal with things such as tantrums, poor sleeping patterns, poor feeding habits, sibling rivalry as well as an excellent section on coping with a disabled child. My whole family have benefited from reading Toddler Taming, and have a much more relaxed attitude towards looking after James, as a result his behaviour seems to have improved in many ways. One of the main things I have taken from the book is that when something happens that in the past I might have perceived as ‘naughtiness’ – tipping out the toy box in temper, pouring a drink on the floor in temper or something similar, there are three words I say to myself (never never out loud) ‘Does it matter
’. Ok so it might look messy when the toy box is tipped out, but rather than ranting and raving, I just walk into the kitchen and do something in there – now that didn’t get the reaction that James wanted, so perhaps he will try and do something a little bit more naughty like pour his drink on the floor, again, does it really matter, ok the carpet is a little bit wet, but soon dried with a cloth, again no reaction. James soon gets fed up with getting no reaction and goes and switches the kettle on (good behaviour) and gets praised for it. I have implemented some of the techniques mentioned in the book with excellent results. One of the main problems we had was James getting up in the middle of the night and getting into my bed – ok not the worst problem in the world, but then again he is a very fidgety sleeper and the bruises I received from his feet were not particularly nice!! After 5 nights of taking him back to his own bed, quietly and calmly, he now stays there ALL night long unless he has a bad dream of course. The result is a better rested much happier mummy!! So you see it isn’t all waffle, but good no nonsense easy to implement advice. Although I really do praise the book to the rooftops, I don’t always agree with some of the methods it suggests to calm and control behaviour. However it does give a good insight into some methods that can be used and you can adapt them, as we have done to a way that suits your ideals. The book also has useful appendices including ‘meaningful milestones’ what your child should be doing at what ages, recommended childhood immunisations, heights and weights for 1 – 4 year olds and some helpful names and addresses. So any stressed out parents/grandparents/aunts/uncles anyone who deals with children, rush over to Amazon or go to any good bookstore and order your copy now, priced at £9.99 it really is within everyone̵
7;s budget. It really is an awesome book that will change your attitude to your children. Even after all this time I still reach for it in moments of extreme stress, usually when I have had a bad day to give myself the extra boost I need to maintain the work we have put into helping make James who he is. The book is very easy to read and I found myself skipping to the relevant parts, for example tantrums, poor sleeping in a desperate bid to resolve everything in one go – please don’t do this, the book deserves to be read from start to finish in that order. It is such an easy book to read, and an enjoyable one at that, with many an amusing anecdote or case history to entertain as well as inform.