Ice skating: the ultimate parenting challenge

After several days spent indoors assembling new Christmas presents, clearing out space for new Christmas presents and squashing down the cardboard packaging of new Christmas presents it was time to make a break for it.

We left the house.

Better than that, we did something active and something festive. We went ice skating at an open-air ice rink. It’s the sort of pursuit that looks so effortlessly romantic in the movies, and Toby certainly looked the part emerging from his bedroom dressed in a Christmas jumper, gilet and Russian hunting hat.

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I did have some reservations. I haven’t skated since I was about 14 and I don’t recall being particularly gifted at it. I hoped it would be a bit like riding a bike. I hoped we weren’t going to end up in A&E. Continue reading

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What we’re reading: How to Fight a Dragon’s Fury by Cressida Cowell

How-to-Fight-a-Dragons-Fury-648x1024Sometimes Santa puts that perfect gift in the stocking that is as much for the parent as it is for the child, and I have to confess that when I picked up the very latest book in the How to Train Your Dragon series for Toby’s Christmas is was maybe a teeny bit for me too.

You see, it was this series of books that re-ignited a passion for children’s fiction that prompted me to write this blog.

We first started this series, right at the beginning with How to Train Your Dragon, a couple of years ago when Toby was about five. We caught a bit of the first movie adaptation on TV and I discovered that it was based a character created by Cressida Cowell. The character’s name Hiccup and the author were both familiar to me. We already had her picture book Hiccup the Seasick Viking and had read and enjoyed it many times. Continue reading

10 reasons to gift books

I often think we’ve lost the art of giving, particularly at traditional gift-giving holidays. At these times, such as Valentine’s Day, Christmas, or Mother’s Day, we’re bombarded with imaginative ways to spend, spend, spend by a cross-section of retailers so it’s easy to get carried away and lose sight of why we give in the first place.

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Surely the main point of a gift is to demonstrate you’ve thought about that person. And sometimes it doesn’t feel like much thought is involved in steadfastly working through the items on an Amazon wish list with your credit card. Plus, the best presents are always those rare gems that show you almost know a loved one more than they know themselves (not to be confused with forcing your taste on another person in a condescending fashion).

However books can do that and more. You might not always get that genuine happy face immediately as you watch someone close unwrap a book they’ve never heard of, but when you get it right they’ll be thanking you a couple of months later because books, I believe, are the gifts that genuinely keep on giving. Continue reading

What we’re reading: Christmas books bundle by Little Tiger Press

Ah Christmas. ‘Tis the season of sharing and caring and er slapping a bit of festive cheer on something and hoping to catch a slice of that generous retail spend.

Call me cynical, or call me Scrooge but I’ve never been a fan of the Christmas song or the Christmas film, and don’t get me started on Christmas books.

However, I’ve had to revise my opinion on the latter. Thanks to the lovely people of Mumsnet, I’ve been sent a bundle of Little Tiger Press’s Christmas books to review and they’re all rather charming. Continue reading