Monthly Archives

May 2012

The Royal Institution #CharityTuesday

Posted on 29th May 2012 in #charitytuesday

For #CharityTuesday today, let me hand you over to the good people at the Royal Institution! If you are in or near London why not go along to one of their family friendly fun days?

The theme of the first Family Fun Day will be Fabric and Knitting. The day will provide a hands-on, fun-filled exploration into the science, engineering and maths behind the clothes we wear. The following are just a couple of examples of the activities that families who come along could get involved in on the day:

•       SPRAY ON FABRICS – Do you ever get up in the morning and feel like you’ve got nothing to wear? Come and meet the team that has come up with a solution – clothes you can spray straight out of a can!

•       TRAID: DISCOVER THE DESIGNER IN YOU – We send 1.3 million tons of clothes to landfill each year – recycling charity TRAID will be on hand to show you how to stop wasting old clothes and instead easily upcycle them into cool designs.

•       GROW YOUR OWN ORGANS – Forget spinning fibres to make silk and other materials – discover how scientists are using the process of electrospinning to make human tissues and organs!

•       SILK VERSUS STEEL – What material would be best used for a bullet-proof vest – steel, or silk? Discover the amazing strength of unlikely materials and test out for yourselves which would win in a battle of resilience.

The Royal Institution Family Fun Day: Fabric and Knitting

Date: Saturday 9 June, 11am-4pm

What: Get hands on with the surprising science, engineering and maths behind the clothes you wear! Discover textiles up close, get tied in knots and measure the surprising strength of silk.

Where: The Royal Institution, 21 Albemarle Street, London, W1S 4BS (Nearest tube Green Park)

For more details and events see

Or you can follow @ri_science on twitter.


The Songwriting Charity #CharityTuesday

Posted on 22nd May 2012 in #charitytuesday

Let me introduce you to a wonderful concept, The Songwriting Charity! Music is known as the universal language and I absolutely love the idea of children working together to produce music in a way that helps them with their difficulties. I can’t describe it any better than the very passionate John Quinn does, so I’ll hand you over to him now:

Passionate about the art and craft of songwriting, music production and always committed to delivering the highest quality teaching, Nathan Timothy, a successful singer, songwriter, producer, and a member of BASCA and Association of Independent Music took the bold step of starting up his own charity, Nathan Timothy Foundation, the Songwriting Charity, back in July 2011. Even though the country was (and still is) in midst of the deepest and most enduring recession of modern times, Nathan and his small team decided there’s no time like the present, so they went about getting their ducks in a row! Joining Nathan were former colleagues from another charity where they previously all worked together called Beatbullying. Ben O’Sullivan, John Quinn and Christine Napper form the nucleus of the Songwriting Charity.

The work of the Songwriting Charity addresses the emotional health and wellbeing of children and young people using songwriting and music technology.

Our unique, one-day workshops present opportunities to sing, write lyrics, create and manipulate digital sounds and/composition, perform, record and play music, offering creative enterprise opportunities and bridging between traditional learning styles and music through songwriting. Recorded material is then available for schools to stream online for presentations, in-school promotions or for use out in the wider community, or to download via the charity’s SoundCloud music platform.

We work closely with participating schools and groups so that we can tailor the workshops to the needs of the students and the school. Working in partnership with schools, students, the whole school community, is important to us.

We are the Number 1 charity in the world dedicated to the empowerment of youth through the art and craft of songwriting.

Whilst based at its HQ in Central London, the Songwriting Charity also has regional presence in Cambridgeshire, Kent and Gloucestershire and is building a partnership base with schools and local authorities in these areas, ready to roll out its programmes from September 2012 onwards.

The Songwriting Charity’s workshops help children to explore their emotions, feelings, understanding, fragilities, relationships, stresses and joys, through songwriting and musical expression. It’s magical. The journey starts with warm ups and vocal exercises, then settles down to exploring everything from our feelings associated with a certain subject matter, or their experiences. It’s all about creating new music and songs, opening up creative opportunities for children who have no access to this level of support or creativity, helping them to achieve and feel valued. We give children the time to be creative.

Since September 2011 the Songwriting Charity has worked with over 1300 children and young people. We now have over 120 active school partners and some exciting partnerships on the boil. Evaluation continues to show the effectiveness of our work with 100% of teachers to date rating our work excellent, happily recommending us to colleagues and other schools.

In only eight months, our SoundCloud has seen nearly 30,000 plays, with children and parents logging on, commenting and downloading their songs. 95% of children have rated their workshops as excellent, finding them to be enjoyable experiences, ones they want to repeat over and over again. Teachers regularly come back to tell us that their children are so proud of their work, and that they still talk about their workshops many months later.

We maintain a close connection with our partners, whether they are schools or community groups. Legacy is important to us. The big consideration is always funding and finding the resources to acquire new music tech and kit that helps us ensure our beneficiaries get their hands on some of the best and most innovative music tech and apps out there.

This is what people say about us:

“I think it is a fantastic opportunity for children to explore issues from a new direction. I believe they have grown in confidence and developed considerable self esteem as school council reps.” John Baker, Headteacher, Knockhall Community Primary School

“The feedback from the children was great. A statemented child in the class had a very high level of input and his musical ability/talent was acknowledged. The Songwriting Charity have worked with us many times, and never fail to deliver! The experience of a day with Nathan and his team is invaluable, and one the children will remember.” Vicki Cuff, Inclusion Leader, Invicta Primary School, Greenwich

“It was a real privilege having the opportunity to witness at first hand the fantastic way the guys from the Song Writing Charity were able to get engage with the young people from Downsview, making sure that every pupil regardless of their additional needs meaningfully contributed to the material that will eventually turn in to the anthem of the Hackney Schools’ Sports Championships. I was really impressed by the way the three of you came across as really being focused on ensuring that each pupil took part in a way which was really meaningful and not slightest bit patronising or tokenistic. The way in which you differentiated the task to work with the range of needs was really good to see.” Aneurin Wood, Principal Equalities & Disabilities Inclusion Officer, The Learning Trust

We’re going to celebrate our first birthday in July this year, and are determined to ensure that children and young people everywhere, are able to experience the magical process of songwriting. Like all charities, we need funding and support. Being asked to write a piece for a blog like this is great for us. All we ask is after reading this, you have a look at our website and follow our social links to the SoundCloud and our YouTube Channel.

Listen to the amazing songs that children have written; covering everything from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, to creating awareness of bullying and how it affects their peers. If you would like to support us, then please consider making a donation towards our work. Every penny and pound gets through to the frontline. Text NTSC11 and any amount up to £10 to 70070. Thank you so much for supporting us.

The Chill Of Night #bookreview

Posted on 21st May 2012 in #bookreview


The Chill Of Night

by James Hayman

I have only given this book 3 stars (out of a possible 5) on Good Reads even though I really enjoyed it. This is because I guessed very early on who the killer was! I then read the rest of the book thinking ‘nah it’s too obvious’ but I was right which I found a little bit disappointing. I think if you are going to write a ‘who dun it’ then it needs to be hard to guess!

Other than that, I would have scored it higher as I found it really engaging. Great characters, good story line, well written and hard to put down.

Cambridge Folk Festival – July 2012

Posted on 17th May 2012 in Family Fun

Thurs 26, Fri 27, Sat 28 and Sun 29 July 2012

Kids (of all ages!) Catered for at the 2012 Cambridge Folk Festival

Get your tickets now – they are selling out fast!

The 2012 Cambridge Folk Festival looks set to be the most family friendly event in its history with the widest range yet of activities on offer for both young children and teenagers to enjoy across the four days.

Renowned for being one of the most family friendly and safe environments of any UK Festival this year’s event will feature:

For young children the Festival provides: A free crèche & children’s activities; a padding pool & playground; children’s games; a special kids’ ceilidh; children’s poetry sessions; music, dance, craft and drawing workshops; storytelling; theatre shows; face-painting; a duck pond and a nearby swimming pool at Coldhams Common campsite.

In addition the Festival provides designated areas for family camping.

For teenagers and slightly older kids the Festival also offers: the fun of the dancing to music only you can hear at the Festival’s Silent Ceilidh; the Festival’s internet café (the Folknet Café); a music making area just for teenagers; music sessions; music workshops and even opportunities to perform on stage.

The festival also runs its own Young Musicians competition each year.

With a beautiful wilderness area to also explore, the 2012 Cambridge Folk Festival promises to be the place to get away from it all for families this year. Oh…and don’t forget, there is also some music to enjoy of course!

When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple

Posted on 17th May 2012 in poetry

I came across a brilliant poem today that I just had to share!


by Jenny Young

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple. 

Smear Test Reminder

Posted on 15th May 2012 in health/ women

SpeculumDear Ladies,

Yes, all of you.

When did you last have a smear test?

Smear tests are free, fast and could save your life.

If you can’t remember when you last had a test, or if you’ve moved house, or just been ‘too busy’ to book your appointment, please call your surgery today to see if your smear test is due.

The frequency of testing will depend upon your age, as follows:

The NHS Cervical Screening Programme in England offers free tests to all women aged between 25 and 64 who are registered with their GP.

Women should normally be invited for a smear test at the following times:

  • At the age of 25 they will receive their first invitation for screening.
  • Women aged 25 to 49 are invited for screening every three years.
  • Women aged 50 to 64 are invited for screening every five years.
  • Women aged 65 or over are only screened if they have not been screened since they were 50 or if they have had recent abnormal test results.
Don’t put it off another day, please get checked out, your family will thank you for it.
CoffeeCurls x

Muncaster Castle

Posted on 14th May 2012 in days out/ Family Fun

Last year, during our holiday in the Lake District, we had a wonderful family day out at Muncaster Castle.

The castle itself is stunning, very well-preserved and is actually still inhabited by members of the Pennington family. We were incredibly fortunate as when we looked around the inside of the castle we actually met, the very congenial and charming, Patrick Gordon-Duff-Pennington who took the time to chat to us.

Muncaster boasts a beautiful collection of owls who you can see in the Owl Centre or watch during flying displays in the castle grounds; although on sunny days I would recommend that you take a hat and lots of sun screen as the grounds are a bit of a sun trap.

The view from the path around the castle is truly breath-taking, even more so because you can clearly see buzzards flying around as they waiting for the Herons to be fed! When you go, I urge you to wait and see the Heron Feed it is simply amazing. The herons start appearing and sit in the trees or in little clusters on the ground, then when the food is thrown down to them they perform the strangest mexican stand-off! They all pretend not to be interested in the food while slowly moving closer to it until finally one of them makes a break for it which then prompts one or two of the others to go for it too and then the all pretend not to be interested again! All the while the buzzards are flying around trying to pinch the food too. Amazing and funny to watch.

On the day we went, there was a jester performing on the lawn which the children thought was brilliant. He did juggling, fire eating, escapology with a running commentary of jokes. Further into the grounds is the Meadowvole Maze which is an interactive maze for all the family; especially good for little ones.

As well as having a gift shop with lovely mementos of Muncaster there is also a plant shop and a cafe which sells the most incredible cakes!

I would definitely recommend a trip to Muncaster Castle if you are staying nearby, it was a day of good old-fashioned family fun and the drive to it offers some incredible views of the area.

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