Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Ping and Pong - Splash

Book Review - Ping and Pong: Splash.
Written by Amy Trevaskus, illustrated by Alison Heath

"I've got you a present."

"Wow!" said my 4 year old girl.

Two minutes later, we started to read Splash, the first in a series of books about Ping and Pong. She's just started school and has recently learned most of her letters, phonetically of course.

As I told her how Lucy was going to the park with her two friends, Ping and Pong, miniature beings, who live in the clock in the hall, she listened. On the fourth page, My Girl let her fingers glide over a series of letters and voiced them, "P-I-N-G. P-I-N-G," she looked up to the ceiling. "Ping!" she announced suitably proudly. Then she searched the text. "P-O-N-G. Pong!" We both got excited. And so the journey has begun.

After school today, still with her uniform on, she sat down with Ping and Pong and read quietly to herself. I was unable to hear the words of the story, until she shouted, just like Pong does, "I LOVE PUDDLES!"

At bedtime, we revisted our new friends. She relayed the story, in her own words first. It went something like this:

"Right, what do you think is in the story?" I ask what happens. "That's Lucy. Look. Ping got all ready to go out in the park. She puts her boots on just in case it rained. They went out. What do you think happened? It's really good!" She turns the page, "Hello frog, where did you come from? I came from the pond." There is no frog in this story, it's called imagination ;)

"And what do you think happened? It's not good! It got raining and raining and raining. And Pong said, 'I LOVE PUDDLES'. And what do you think happened? She poured water out of her boot. That's Ping."

Then, she spells out ten words. We both get excited again. Cue my turn to read the story, this time in the author's own words, beautifully written and cleverly illustrated, one of those books that I actually enjoy reading and one that she hangs onto every word of, only interrupting me to give her analysis, "Pong likes to go up high in the swing, Ping doesn't like swings a lot." Or to ask a question, "Why is she taking the water out of her wellies?"

We finish reading our new book and she says. "I love Ping and Pong. I love your presents, Mummy. Thank you."

If only all bedtimes were this easy! She's asleep now: I wonder what she's dreaming about....

Weston-super-Mum has a signed copy of Ping and Pong: Splash to give to one lucky winner.

For more information about Ping and Pong and to order your own copy, please visit their website

Friday, 5 November 2010

Weston's Outdoor Treasures on Foot or by Bus

Weston is the ideal location for getting out in the open air and for walking, running and exploring. For the price of a picnic (we take one everywhere with us) and maybe a bus fare, leisure pursuits in this town are many. Two years of being a non-car family has really shown me how much there is to do in Weston with young children, at very little cost. All these hills mean that you will develop strong legs and sturdy kids; we've certainly become a family that isn't afriad of a little rain, or a lot of rain come to that.

Bus routes up to South Road mean that the Old Town Quarry and Weston Woods are easily accessible to all, although a slow walk up through Grove Park and to the top of Queen's Road will also lead you there, and this area is no more than ten minutes on foot from the High Street. Alongside the Quarry entrance is a path to the woods that will lead you to Water Tower or the Encampment (Iron Age Fort), depending on whether you take the left or right path at the top.

Old Town Quarry

Weston Woods, Encampment

If you have a whole day, drop down by the Water Tower and head over to Sand Bay, which isn't as far as you might imagine, though for this you will need food and drink as there is nowhere in Sand Bay to buy anything at all, which for the budget-conscious parent must be a plus! And any energetic child will be in his element here, with all those sand dunes to slide down and millions of tiny shells to find. If you don't fancy the walk back, the Number 1 bus runs half-hourly from the beach, along the magical toll road and back to Weston town centre.

Winter at Sand Bay

Going the other way, catch the 14A or the 5/5A/5B from Worle or Weston to Uphill and check out the boats in Uphill Boat Yard, climb up to St Nicholas Church and take in those magnificient views (you can see Glastonbury Tor from here!). Wildlife aplenty and lots of room to run.

Brean Down & Boat Yard - View from Uphill

It's comforting to know that all of these Weston treasures are really easy to get to, even without a car!