Sunday, March 27, 2011

answers on a post card

Is it a plane? Is it a bird? I will leave you to guess what happened.....

Fantastic teacher told all the girls that homework was to enjoy the sun and get outside to play. So uniform still on we grabbed the mutt and climbed over into the fields at the back of the garden.

it is a wonderful life!

Monday, March 7, 2011

annual trip to Fortnums & Masons

for some time now, I've been meaning to blog about our annual trip into London for new shoes, theatre and the highlight.....Fortnum and Mason's Ice Cream Parlour!  We have to prepare in advance as anticipation is high and tummies need to be empty. From the moment we walk past a "fancy pants" footman into the dazzling food hall, my 6 year old starts to squeal with excitement. We have to drag her past all the cake and chocolate displays and head straight to the stairs. My "sophisticated" 8 year old tries to appear "cool" as she hops on one foot hoping for that table she loves, near the window, (she's usually indulged).

Choosing from the menu takes for ever. Of course the sandwich choice is quick and clear, but Oh, Oh Oh choosing ice creams!!!!!!! I sit back with a glass of wine (it is a treat) and let them deliberate, consult, deliberate some more and then finally order. The ice creams are brought with just the right amount of pomp and ceremony, then silence descends. 
We always find time to explore the shop afterwards and to see the clock chime and all that goes with that. Then a quick dash to Trafalger Square before heading to Covent Garden and The Royal Opera House (once a year remember!).

it's a wonderful life.....

Saturday, February 26, 2011

making, baking and generally creating

I have finally admitted to myself that my children do not play with toys, well, hardly ever. Ironic as we run an online toy shop heh? Actually, as part of this "taking a good look at myself and family" process, have realised that this does show itself in the stock we hold. Our "toys" are very much about make believe, exploring and creating. Of course not all, but it definitely leans in those directions.

We are far happier being outside or all together at the kitchen table than in a playroom. The girls' favourite Xmas presents were mini sewing machines and a new note pad and pen cause mass excitement.

They don't "get" collecting Sylvanian Animals, but will play Harry Potter with two wooden "wands" for whole afternoons. The garden is for building dens on the trampoline, or collecting petals and leaves for potions and lotions. Bedrooms are for creeping to and working out codes for spy games, or for reading and sleeping in. Jigsaws and games are "only if Mummy and Daddy really want to play".  Walks are "scavenger hunts" and time to practice singing rounds. Menagerie of pets help the ongoing "Vet Rescue"  adventure and the television is for watching old family movies on dvd (Candleshoe a current favourite).

So, when friends come to play, we have to make sure they are happy with this, which usually results in scone making or marble painting.... or both! You see it's not everybody's cup of tea, but for us;
it's a wonderful life!

Monday, February 14, 2011

living in a village

this is my view as I'm typing away and catching up on admin. The move from central London was difficult for me. I loved the hustle and bustle and Primrose Hill was like a village marooned in the centre of a big city. The "push" came from the North London schools available for us. All at the top of any "Good School" list, but highly competitive and mainly selective.

My oldest daughter is an August baby and had speech problems when tiny. She is naturally modest and shy and "failed" entry tests at 3 years old. The state schools were oversubscribed with large class sizes and we panicked. Buckinghamshire has an amazing record for good education and this was the "pull". We didn't get it right first time and moved to a suburb which had all the problems of London (no parking, high house prices etc) and none of it's benefits (for us). The school was similar too and my daughter was pretty much written off!

We sorted the school out first and the girls are now at "Malory Towers" (they are day girls as boarding option not for us!). When I say "Malory Towers", I mean it. Enid Blyton's children were at the school and she based many of the stories on it. We even have the tower! My girls skip into school each day and are both doing so well, which of course is a huge tick in our family box.

Next came me and I've found my happiness at last. We moved at the end of August to a house built in 1600's with an AGA and a beautiful garden. We are surrounded by fields full of horses and blackberry bushes and the village occupants are warm and inclusive. Sadly, we are only renting whilst we try and work out what the next step is, but don't think we'll stray far.

We are very lucky (and broke!) and have managed to keep hold of our London flat. Who knows, when the children are "all growed up", we may end up back there and enjoying the theatres and museums once more. But for now.....
"it's a wonderful life!"

Monday, January 31, 2011


Friday evening I picked the girls up from school a little early and drove to Stratford Upon Avon. We had tickets for the RSC's MATILDA. The reviews have been amazing and the production is SOLD OUT. (I bought the tickets way way back before we moved last year). In a previous life, I've seen a lot of theatre and even more children's theatre (work and actor friends), but I can easily say, without ANY hesitation that this is the best of the best!

For a start, parking outside THE DIRTY DUCK/BLACK SWAN brought on fits of giggles. Toffee Apple muffins in the cafe added to the mood of jollity before we even took to our seats. The set took all the girls' attention as they tried to find words in lettered building blocks.

The show starts with a stage full of talented children singing and dancing (which is a bit of a shock). Our interest was captured and we barely blinked for the next two and a half hours. It is a very clever adaptation. It could have so easily become pantomime but always held back just enough. The girl who played Matilda was outstanding and brought an intensity and "stillness" to the role. Yes, liberties are taken with the story, but I think Mr Dahl may well have approved as it kept to his unique style of storytelling. There is a particularly magical scene using swings and a surprise "cabaret" turn during the interval, but I don't want to give away too much!

There is a rumour that it is to transfer to the West End and I strongly urge you to sign up for the RSC's email alerts and buy tickets quickly.....

"it's a wonderful life"

Monday, January 24, 2011

bang bang chitty chitty

Rural life is really suiting us all and we feel settled for the first time, since waving goodbye to city life. This weekend a Vintage Car Rally went through our village and we hosted a drinks party to celebrate. The cars were due around 11pm and even in the rain, (substantial alcohol consumption probably helped?), we were outside waving flags and cheering as they whizzed past. There were supposed to be 39 and we saw around 15, so guessing some got lost!

At one point I did wonder if we were secretly being filmed for the next Midsommer Murders (shot here in the Chilterns), as we seemed to make a perfect cast. Luckily no crime was actually committed and everyone got on famously.

We also have my husband's family here from Hong Kong, so the house  was eccentrically decorated with Union Jack Bunting and flags, alongside Chinese New Year banners and lanterns. We had a slow roast pork joint and homemade "baked beans" and finished with delicious biscotti made by a guest. The girls (for the very first time) joined in until midnight and looked very fetching in Xmas skirts and anoraks!

There was even a mention of a street/village party for THE ROYAL WEDDING.....

"it's a wonderful life!"

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

run rabbit run rabbit run run run

So, Christmas is over and it's back to school tomorrow. New Year only just waking up and I'm getting pressure from the girls for new pets, (Rabbits and Guinea Pigs) and pressure from suppliers for Spring orders!

A fellow "Tweeter" has just seen chocolate eggs in her local supermarket, probably next to half price mince pies! Today we received big orders for our bunny products. Are we now all supposed to be planning for Easter?

I'm just as guilty with this forever looking forward. Spending hours pouring over holiday brochures and booking theatre tickets for Open Air Theatres.  Maybe  a good New Year's Resolution, would be to slow down, stop rushing and enjoy the here and now?
"it's a wonderful life...."