Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Three Little Pigs at the Brewery Theatre, Bristol

"Following last year’s sell-out success and multiple sell-out performances of The Little Red Hen and The Enormous Turnip, the inexhaustible Stuff and Nonsense Theatre Company bring us a brand new re-telling of the favourite children’s story"
(via the Tobacco Factory Theatre website)

We opened our picnic before the train even left Weston-super-Mare station: I was just amazed that the sandwiches went before the chocolate. My daughter was so excited - a train journey AND a trip to the theatre to see Three Little Pigs.

The walk to the Brewery Theatre in North Street was NOT 20 minutes from Temple Meads, as the website promises. Well, not with a 4 year old skipping and pulling and stopping to point at the river. But it was do-able and we'd allowed ourselves plenty of time. It was all part of the day.

Once in, we sat in anticipation, surrounded by lots of other enthusiastic little people and chilled out parents, who must have known that this theatre is perfected suited to the smaller variety of the species - the angle of the seats makes sure that everyone can see the stage, eyes well clear of those in front, no "Mummy, I can't see! Can I sit on your lap?"

The music was jazzy, old school, fun. We waited, the seats filling up around us and then ... here's Gwen and Adam, our actors, dancers, comperes, mime-artists, fun-givers and puppeteers, dressed in the most ridiculously English old-fashioned with a 70s twist outfits.

The pigs introduced themselves and built a house of straw to knowing giggles from the audience. But, oh dear, here comes Adam, dressed in a grey furry coat and red sunglasses, deplete of Bacon Fries, fresh out of PIG. Do we know of any pigs around here?

"Yes, behind you," screamed young voices. Oh, no! The pigs are supposed to be our friends, we should be protecting them, shouldn't we? But so goes the show and what a fun-packed hour. My companion just sat there, mouth hanging wide open for almost the duration of the show, she didn't miss a heartbeat. Although, I would like to borrow Gwen and Adam because when they told the kids to hide, the wolf was coming, she took a dive to the floor, ducked behind the seat in front and pulled her coat over her foetal positioned little body. Marvellous, such commandeers.

The interaction of the audience was spot on in a pantoesque sense and they were all completely absorbed. So many children, from babies to about 7, and no crying - how DO they do that?

Thanks Gwen and Adam. That's the best £6 each you could spend!

Three Little Pigs is on at the Brewery Theatre until Saturday 26th February. Various showings

- Review by Becky Condron

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Red Ted Art - Time on Your Hands

As an artist and a mum I was really impressed with this book. It uses a simple toilet roll tube to make 14 different funky craft ideas. I've found it especially useful for times when I have an hour to spare in the afternoon and need to think of an activity on the spot! The use of a loo roll means that the activities are really cheap to do so they are good to do with groups of any size. They could be good as the craft activity for kids parties,especially since many of the ideas tie in with seasonal holidays.

Each one of the suggestions could be tailored for any age group. If you have children of different ages they could do the same task and get as much enjoyment from it. None of the ideas take too much preparation either and use a lot of household items that you are likely to have in the cupboard.

The explanations are very easy to understand and the pictures are bright and clear. My son enjoyed looking at the pictures and choosing for himself which ones he wanted to make.

I don't have anything negative to say about this book at all. It produces quick and effective results that your children will love.

Review by Asha Hutchings

Buy Red Ted Art's Time on Your Hands ebook HERE

We tried out Red Ted Art's new ebook, Time on Your Hands, with the children at our Weston-super-Mum monthly Coffee and Bounce at the Purple Sheep, with brilliant results. Everyone had a ball. Here are some of the photos from our Arts and Crafts Corner. Making Owls:

Thursday, 10 February 2011

The Secret Diary of a New Mum Aged 43 1/4 by Cari Rosen

We share an armchair. She’s watching Mary Poppins and I’m wedged in there somewhere with a book and a cup of tea. I’m oblivious to the film but, it seems, I am disturbing her viewing. “Why do you keep laughing, Mummy?”

Because I’m reading Cari Rosen’s account of being pregnant, giving birth and raising a young child for the very first time in her 40s (and she’s far from alone - apparently, the number of babies born in Britain to women over the age of 40 has doubled during the past decade). And it’s very funny. Throughout. In the first chapter, I was worried that the author might have added too many self-deprecating or observationally comedic moments but, as I warmed to her style, I was happy for her to just bring it on.

It’s an easy memoir to read, an effortless journey of, “Oh, yeah, I so remember that one,” or, “Totally!” for any mother, regardless of age. The first half of The Secret Diary of a New Mum Aged 43 1/4, which deals with pregnancy and birth, got me thinking in earnest about my own experiences as a (not so young either) mum, while the second, which concentrates on Cari’s experiences as a real-life mum to a baby who becomes a toddler, is jam packed with astute comments as she comes to terms with the stumbles and joys of new motherhood. References to her own child are immensely cute, without any sense that she would consider hers to be funnier/prettier/happier/more intelligent than yours, while recollections of a 1960s and 1970s childhood are great fun.

It’s insightful too and the author has done her research, talking to other new mums of the younger and older variety, whom she quotes, bringing a wider perspective to motherhood in the 21st Century. As for fatherhood, some of the quips and sideways glances supplied, through Cari, by her husband are priceless.

A recommended read! Especially if you've already said goodbye to 35. And then had a baby.

The Secret Diary of a New Mum Aged 43 1/4 by Cari Rosen is published by Vermilion and available to buy at £11.99

To win a copy of the book, see Weston-super-Mum's Competitions and Offers

Review by Becky Condron, author of Broody

Friday, 4 February 2011

Fairies with Attitude! The Valentine's Fae by Emma Shortt

I’ve always been an avid reader but, just lately, I’ve been stuck for what to read, so few books managing to hold my attention. Recently, I tend to open the pages, only to find myself switching off almost immediately, not being one to force the issue, knowing that life is far too short. But after trying out Emma Shortt’s new romantic novella, I seem to have overcome this inability to concentrate for any given length of time.

In fact, with The Valentine’s Fae, just the opposite happened: I didn’t want to stop reading. Romantic, sexy fiction isn’t a genre I usually find myself browsing, so this short magical tale took me by surprise.

The story centres on the Valentine’s Fairy, Amelia: confidence-deficient, gawky, vulnerable, kooky, rebellious Amelia. We can see that she’s beautiful but she hasn’t realised it yet. Sent reluctantly by the Fae Council to the human world, armed with fae magic, to grant one wish on Valentine’s Day, she lands up as secretary to the “impossible, hot, annoying, hot, infuriating” Gavin Peters. Now, all Amelia has to do is discover his one true Valentine’s wish.

Emma Shortt writes with wit and originality and, at some points in the story, I had to let out a little cheer and a clap of the hands. The Valentine’s Fae is deliciously sexy and keeps the reader right on the edge, eyes not daring to leave the page. This fairy tale for adults flows effortlessly and it kept me gripped to the very end. And that is something to be celebrated!

Now, I just need to get hold of some of that fae dust ...

The Valentine’s Fae is currently available as an ebook and is published by Evernight Publishing.

For more of Emma Shortt's writing, check out her blog and her website.

Review by Becky Condron