Sunday, 4 October 2015

Win a £150 Gift Card from Smyth’s

The unbeatable combination of Lego and Scooby Doo comes to Bringing up Charlie today. First with a collection of amazing Scooby-Doo stop motion videos created using the brand new LEGO Scooby-Doo sets!  There are half a dozen on the site at present, and new videos will be uploaded weekly – so be sure to visit and subscribe to the WB Kids YouTube channel to keep up-to-date.

And that's not all - at present there's this great gift-voucher giveaway for Smyth's Toys - which is worth one hell of a lot of Lego.

Now, where did I put my Scooby snack?

Thursday, 1 October 2015

DC Kids Super Hero Creator & UK Giveaway

Want to win an amazing toy gift basket that includes Teen Titans Go Action Figures & T-Tower Set, a Batman Unlimited Action Figure, DC Super Friends Gift Set and Batmobile? Who wouldn't? And how about a chance to create your ultimate super hero with a fun name, look, powers and more?

You can do both, thanks to the new DC Kids Super Here Creator Game and the amazing UK Giveaway (see below).

And while you're waiting why not check out some of the amazing new videos from Warner Bros, including favourites such as Scooby Doo as well as Batman Unlimited And there will be plenty more being added over the next year, so don't forget to subscribe to their channels!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Rich Autumn Days

A little sunshine, blue skies again, and it feels like autumn, like a proper season, the mists-and-mellow-fruitfulness-Keats-kind. At school, it's the harvest festival. Charlie has been given a poem to memorise. I like that, though I don't think much of the poem!

Here - should you, like me, lament the passing of poetry memorisation and wish to program a few choice words into your little one's head the better to return, unbidden, in the years to come and give them countless joys - is a better one. It's by the Dorset poet W.H.Davies. It's not high art (not quite Keats, for sure) but it's well-crafted and pleasant and... memorable. I have. And I find the words coming back into my head at this time of year. Especially when the sun shines:

Rich Days

WELCOME to you rich Autumn days,
Ere comes the cold, leaf-picking wind;
When golden stocks are seen in fields,
All standing arm-in-arm entwined;
And gallons of sweet cider seen
On trees in apples red and green.

With mellow pears that cheat our teeth,
Which melt that tongues may suck them in;
With blue-black damsons, yellow plums,
Now sweet and soft from stone to skin;
And woodnuts rich, to make us go
Into the loneliest lanes we know.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

National Childbirth Trust BabbleLive 2015

I'm back. Safe and sound and still with the lovely, warm glow that comes from being surrounded by people - many of whom volunteers - passionate about their subject, keen to learn and, from my point of view, to become more welcoming and inclusive of us dads.

I'd be disingenuous to say I wasn't just a little bit nervous, faced with a hall full of women (and a few men). The last time I'd been in the company of so many females it was at a cookery demonstration some years ago given by James Martin at Vinopolis, in Southwark. And it was fairly obvious, on that occasion, that many of them weren't there for the cookery demonstration. I was lucky to emerge unscathed.

Yesterday was a completely different proposition - in turns: fun, serious, thoughtful, thought-provoking and inspirational. Who could fail to be inspired by Errol and his Leeds Dads? Or by the willingness to share good ideas, reflect on current practice and debate the best ways the NCT can better support all involved in the process of birth and childcare.

It's a good job there are organisations like the National Childbirth Trust. Other providers may be available, but they may not be as reliable. When I attended the NHS ante-natal classes at the local hospital before the birth of my first child, we - mums and dads-to-be - went along every Monday evening for several weeks for two hourly sessions that covered pretty much everything, allowed plenty of scope for questions and left you feeling about as prepared as it's possible to be. By the time my wife was expecting Charlie, the sessions had been condensed to a single weekend. By the time his little sister came along, it was one Saturday morning. If you could make it.

Fortunately, being 'experienced' by then, it didn't really matter. But I wonder how I'd have felt as a first-time parent, if that was the only support available. There are books, of course. (One *ahem* called Fatherhood: The Essential Guide by yours truly!) But there's no substitute for experience and expertise which - combined with enthusiasm - the NCT has in abundance.

Long may it continue.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

At your own risk

Thanks to all who so kindly commented, emailed and/or tweeted in response to my last post. I now feel well and truly armed and ready for the NCT fray in Coventry on Saturday. Maybe I'll see you there?

Anyway, that's not all I'm up to at the moment. Next week sees me starting a creative writing class on behalf on Transported Arts. They want someone to lead a couple of taster sessions, with a view to establishing what they describe as a 'user-led' group. Fine my me. I'm looking forward to meeting the group.

What was slightly less fine was the paperwork involved. Although they - Transported - conduct a Risk Assessment of the venue (the local library, as it happens) I am required to provide a separate inventory of risks associated with my activities. That is, creative writing activities.

Now I know I sometimes style myself as a creative writer (or 'artist', as the contract for this gig has it) but my creative juices were a bit thin as far as this assignment was concerned. Risks associated with a creative writing class? What on earth did they expect? Paper cuts? Injuries sustained while using over-sharpened pencils? Possible ink-poisoning?

A brief conversation with others in a similar position confirmed I wasn't alone in finding the exercise... challenging. So, for the benefit of anyone else who might find themselves required to produce a risk assessment for a creative writing class, I share mine below for the free use of everyone and anyone to whom it might be of any use.

At your own risk.

Manual handling of paper, writing equipment etc.
Likelihood: 2 (unlikely)
Ensure assistance is provided as required to avoid injury

RSI/pain/discomfort arising from sedentary nature of activity
Likelihood: 3 (possible)
Ensure adequate opportunities to stand, move etc. are integrated into the session 

Possible eye strain associated with extended written work
Likelihood: 3 (possible)
Include activities that allow participants to adopt distant focus or to temporarily exclude visual 
stimuli entirely. 

Danger of emotional disturbance caused by personal nature of creative endeavour
Likelihood: 1 (highly unlikely)
Ensure level of disclosure required for writing activities is appropriate to the age/ability of the group members

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