Tuesday, 22 July 2014

The FGM Rose

A couple of days ago I was approached and asked if I'd like to write a post and host this video. Even without watching the video, I agreed. I'm aware of the campaign and support it wholeheartedly. Indeed, I'm glad of the chance to help spread the word.

But I was a little unsure what to write. Other posts I'd seen followed the 'Because I'm a Girl' theme and I clearly can't compete with that. But I'm a dad of two daughters and - as I've written before - nothing in my life has made me appreciate so keenly the position of girls and women in society, the dangers faced, the hardships endured and the ignorance and evil that has to be overcome.

Having now seen the video, I think it speaks, powerfully, for itself. I hope it isn't regarded as being something of a cop out to allow it to do just that. Please watch it. Please share it. The campaign - by Plan UK - launches today with this short film made by Marmalade Film & Media.

125 million girls and women the world over are living with the consequences of being cut. Plan’s Because I am a Girl campaign has so far reached 58 million girls worldwide and its projects in Africa and Asia have proved that knowledge of the harmful impact of Female Genital Mutilation as well as an understanding how it is linked to discrimination against women and girls can help to end it.

And we can help too.

Please share.

Monday, 14 July 2014

It's childcare, Jim...

It was 58 years ago today that Dr Benjamin Spock (no, not that one!) published his landmark book, 'The Common Sense Book of Baby and Childcare'.

It was an instant success: in the first six months it sold over half a million copies and has been selling ever since. It was blamed by various preachers and politicians for the permissive society, political unrest and paternalism, as well as other crimes that don't begin with 'p'.

But all he did - and in a reassuringly conversational tone - was to tell parents to trust their own instincts and to put the child first. It's pretty standard stuff today (although his views on some things, such as placing sleeping babies on their front, have since been proved to be bad advice). The book still sells well (at the time of Spock's death in 1998 over 500 million copies... if only my modest efforts in the genre could match that!). It has been translated into almost 40 languages and - aside from the Bible - is the biggest-selling US book of the twentieth century.

I wish...

Prior to Spock the main approaches to childcare tended to ignore children's emotional needs and usually followed a rigid timetable (two years and a day? Time for potty training!) That most parents (and parenting authors) now appreciate that children develop at different rates and have important emotional needs is largely thanks to Spock. 

It's childcare, Jim, but not as we knew it.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Win a family pass to Lollibop!

Build it, paint it, climb it…. LolliBop, the UK’s biggest kids festival, is back!

We went for the first time last year, when the event was held at the Olympic Park, and loved it. This year's festival for the under 10s takes place at Hatfield House, August 15-17 and the all star line-up  includes some of the hottest names in children's entertainment including Justin Fletcher, Mr Bloom, Mister Maker, Lazy Town and Sam & Mark on the main stage, plus live shows from Chris & Pui, Postman Pat, Scooby-Doo, Swashbuckle & many more.

Creative kids will love the new 'Join In with Southbank Centre' area with plenty of dress up, make and take and workshops. We also have a brand new active zone with footballing from Tottenham Hotspur, baby ballet, an old fashioned sports day and martial arts.  Other highlights include Bear Grylls Survival Academy, LolliKitchen, LolliBooks and special areas featuring Thomas & Friends, a Disney Silent Disco & Skylanders Trap Team.

Hatfield House is easily accessible by road, or rail, just 20 mins from London Kings Cross and has ample parking on site.  The whole programme is for the under 10s and tickets are on sale now priced £20.00pp http://www.lollibopfestival.co.uk/

We’ve got one family pass (four tickets) to give away to this brilliant festival. Entry is via the Rafflecopter widget below and the deadline is next Tuesday, July 15th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions ·      The competition closes at 12:00am on Tuesday 15th July 2014 ·  We have one family pass to giveaway. Each pass admits 4 people, one person in the group must be aged over 18 (NB children under the age of 12 months do not require a ticket)  ·      The winning family can attend on the day of their choice, either August 15, or August 16 or August 17. The date must be specified at time of confirming the prize  ·      Travel and accommodation are not included ·      The prize is non-refundable and no cash alternative will be offered  -     The prize is non transferable and ID will be required at time of collecting the ticket wristband upon arrival  -    The prize includes all events and activities at LolliBop but not food and drink from any stalls or bar.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Win Burts Crisps River Cottage EPA hamper

Ok, so England’s chances in this year’s World Cup have been dashed, Andy Murray's out of Wimbledon, England lost the test series to Sri Lanka and the British Grand Prix will probably be won by an ex-Fin driving a German car.

Fear not, as you can still enjoy the summers remaining sporting spectacles whilst snacking on a pack Burts Chips and drinking some thirst-quenching River Cottage EPA brews. The sport's fan pack includes a large sharing bag of Guinness Rich Chilli Beef, Sea Salted and Vintage Cheddar and Spring Onion variety crisps, two bottles of River Cottage EPA and Burts Chips branded beer mats for the ultimate in sporting sustenance.

To enter, all you have to do is enter via the Rafflecopter widget below, sit back, and wait (whilst dreaming of those wonderful crisps and that lovely, golden ale...)

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Billed as 'the perfect tablets for kids' and 'Sleeker, faster and packed with more features than ever before' the soon-to-be-launched LeapPad3 and LeapPad Ultra Xdi promise - just like their predecessors - to be kid safe, kid tough and kid smart

Here's the press release in full:

LONDON, UK, June 24, 2014 — LeapFrog, the leader in educational entertainment, today unveiled the latest additions to the award-winning line of LeapPad™ tablets, LeapPad™3 and LeapPad™ Ultra XDi.

Both tablets focus on the key qualities parents are looking for in their child’s first tablet experience: access to hundreds of top-quality educational apps, books, games and videos, highly durable construction and incredibly safe web browsing straight out of the box. LeapPad3 and LeapPad Ultra XDi provide access to LeapFrog’s Learning Library of world-class games and apps designed or approved by LeapFrog’s team of learning experts. Plus, with features like shatter-safe screens to the most kid-appropriate web experience through the LeapSearch™ browsing tool, LeapPad tablets offer the perfect first tablet experiences for kids.

LeapPad3 is the fastest, highest-performance five-inch tablet ever from LeapFrog. With kid-safe web, Wi-Fi and a new capacitive touchscreen, LeapPad3 is the perfect combination of performance, durability and safety. LeapPad3 has 4GB of memory - enough to store 20,000 photos – as well as two mega-pixel front and back cameras and video recorders, and a built-in lithium ion rechargeable battery so the exploration and creativity never ends.

Parents also have the choice to go large with the LeapPad Ultra XDi, LeapFrog’s seven-inch Wi-Fi tablet. LeapPad Ultra XDi builds on the success of the award-wining LeapPad Ultra which was recognised as one of the must-have Christmas toys for kids among top retailers in 2013. LeapPad Ultra XDi offers the ultimate multimedia experience kids and parents want with a high-resolution touch screen, 8GB of memory - enough to store 40,000 photos - and access to hundreds of downloadable apps. LeapPad Ultra XDi also includes front and back mega-pixel cameras and video recorders, a rechargeable lithium ion battery and an on-board MP3 player so kids’ music is right at their fingertips.

“Parents searching for their child’s first tablet are confronted with many choices that say they are designed for kids or have access to a library of ‘educator-endorsed’ content. However, on closer inspection these tablets may be fun but lack the essential deliverables parents are looking for in a safe educational experience for their child,” said Dr. Jody Sherman LeVos, director of LeapFrog’s Learning Team. “LeapPad3 and LeapPad Ultra XDi offer parents the perfect introductory tablets that are high-performing, and have access to a kid-safe web experience designed for a child to explore their passions and interests along with a learning library of high-quality games and apps. Parents can feel confident that when they hand their child a LeapFrog tablet, whether a LeapPad3 or LeapPad Ultra XDi, they are providing the perfect first tablet experience designed for kids – full of learning and packed with fun.”

Since pioneering the children’s tablet category in 2011, LeapFrog’s award-winning LeapPad tablets have received more than 40 accolades from parenting and industry organisations, and been recognised by retailers’ as a top must-have for Christmas.

The Best Educational Content
LeapPad3 and LeapPad Ultra XDi tablets provide access to LeapFrog’s Learning Library of more than 700 games, apps, eBooks, videos, music and more all designed or approved by LeapFrog’s team of gaming and learning experts. LeapFrog is the only children’s tablet maker to employ a full-time in-house team of learning experts, all with PhDs in various specialties including education, child development and educational psychology. LeapFrog games draw from 2,600 skills across core subjects like reading, maths, science and creativity, and seamlessly blend LeapFrog’s comprehensive curriculum into age-appropriate gameplay and videos that keep children learning. With LeapPad3 and LeapPad Ultra XDi, every child can learn and play in a way that is appropriate for them. Select games in the LeapFrog Learning Library personalise the learning to each child, automatically adjusting the level for just the right challenge.

Super Kid-Safe 
LeapPad3 and LeapPad Ultra XDi learning tablets have been designed specifically for kids. With built-in Wi-Fi and LeapSearch™, powered by Zui™, a kid-friendly web environment of videos, games and more that have been pre-screened by LeapFrog’s learning experts, parents can rest assured every web-based content experience is safe and age-appropriate. LeapSearch is an innovative browsing tool that allows kids, including those that are not yet reading, to explore web content in an easy and safe way by categorising content based on topics.

LeapPad tablets are also equipped with safe wireless peer-to-peer chat and gameplay. Children with LeapPad3 or LeapPad Ultra XDi tablets can play together using the included Pet Chat and Pet Pad Party apps, or extend the fun with multiplayer games such as LeapFrog Kart Racing, Roly Poly World, Arturo's Bug Adventures and Go Gopher Go apps (sold separately).

Kid-Tough Design
Built kid-tough with special impact zones to insulate and protect the tablet, LeapPad3 and LeapPad Ultra XDi have been thoroughly drop tested, impact tested and compression tested in LeapFrog’s Quality Lab to ensure that it not only keeps functioning, but remains safe for a child as they play on their tablet. The shatter-safe screen prevents glass from coming loose and is sealed with a silicone gasket for extra energy absorption for worry-free fun at home or on the go.

LeapPad3 (RRP £89.99, for children 3-9 years old) will be available in green and pink and LeapPad Ultra XDi (RRP £119.99, for children 3-9 years old) will be available in green and pink online and at major UK retail locations on 28 July 2014.  For more information, visit http://www.leapfrog.com/en-gb/products/tablet-family.

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