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Monday, 8 February 2016

Encouraging birds into our garden with Wilko

My dad has always loved birds. He's always enjoyed feeding his feathered friends and watching them in his garden. He is very knowledgeable about all the different types of bird and gets very excited if he spots something rare. His enthusiasm and love of the birds is quite contagious, and I've found myself happily watching many a wood pigeon, jay, wren or buzzard because he has pointed them out to me.

When Wilko offered me the chance to be one of their Wild Bird Bloggers, I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to introduce my own children to one of their Grandad's interests, as well as a great chance to encourage wild birds into our garden, supporting our native wildlife.

Birds bring colour and movement to the garden and can provide lots of entertainment as you watch them feed, sing and defend their territories. Helping them survive the winter months keeps them well fed and encourages a variety of species into your garden. Feeding birds is so mutually beneficial - you provide them with something to eat - you get fabulous display of nature in return.

We received a lovely box of items from Wilko, designed to attract wild birds into the garden:

  • Wilko Wild Bird Nesting Box
  • Wilko Wild Bird Wooden Bird Table
  • Wild Bird Cage Seed Feeder
  • Wilko Wild Bird Food

Wilko Wild Bird Range


The bird table needs assembly using a screwdriver. Once assembled it is quite sturdy and provides a table with a roof to keep food dry and offer some shelter. At £10 it is a real bargain. The cage seed feeder is a clever way to keep little birds safe while they feed from the tube, protected by the wire cage. It also stops big birds or squirrels from stealing their food. The top can be lifted off to fill the feeder and clips on securely afterwards. For £6, it is a great quality feeder that does the job really well, while offering extra security to small birds as they feed. The nesting box is made of natural wood and is easily mounted to a tree where it provides a great spot for small birds to make a nest. The front panel can be removed to make an open fronted nesting box. At £2.50 it is extremely good value and will provide a wonderful opportunity to watch birds as they nest and rear young.

Freddy, who is six years old, had a great time helping his daddy build the table, fill the feeder and position the nesting box. Everything is sturdy and well made and is a welcome addition to the garden. The wooden designs of the bird table and nesting box fitted in very naturally and looked really good. Freddy was very interested in the idea of feeding the wild birds and asked lots of questions about which birds will come to eat the seeds. Introducing children to the wildlife on their doorstep, helps them understand their environment and nurtures a respect for the local flora and fauna. He got very excited to see a friendly robin hopping around picking up the seeds that had been dropped on the floor. Taking time to notice the local bird population, hearing the birdsong and spotting familiar breeds really is a lovely activity for children to engage in. We really hope that a family of birds take up residence in the bird box, because that will be amazing!


Wilko Wild Bird Range


Activity around the new bird feeder has been a bit slow, probably due to the windy, wet weather, so I haven't managed to catch any shots of the birds making the most of their new bird table or seed feeder. However, we are hoping that once the birds start 'tweeting' about the new place in town where they can get free food, word will get around and the peckish birds will make a bee-line for the garden. Then we will have a lot of activity from our feathered friends that will make us all into keen twitchers!

The types of bird we will be hoping to attract include tits, finches, sparrows, blackbirds and thrushes. Wilko's wildly tasty seed mix contains sunflower seeds, millet and red dari, which is a perfect, nutritious feed for table, feeder and floor, and at just £1.50 for 2kg is great value and will encourage birds into the garden. Bird spotting is fun and free and can be done from the comfort of your own home as you watch out of the window to see the birds in action. Children can keep a tally chart, write a bird diary or draw sketches of the birds that visit, making an opportunity for some creative learning at home.

Wilko Wild Bird Range, bird spotting


The Wilko Wild Bird range is excellent value for money, so much cheaper than similar products bought from a garden centre. Everything is such good quality, well made and well designed. I really can't fault any of the products for the price.

I might not have captured any photos of the products in action, but here is a snap of a blue tit enjoying the fat balls in my sister's garden from last summer. I hope I will be able to get lots of beautiful wild bird photographs of my own soon!

Wilko Wild Bird Range


You can see the full range of Wilko Wild Bird Supplies online.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Shadowhunters - new to Netflix #StreamTeam

For teens looking for something fresh and new to watch on Netflix, Shadowhunters is a new TV show based on the bestselling fantasy book series: The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare. The series follows Clary Fray, whose life is turned upside down on her eighteenth birthday, after discovering that she comes from a long line of Shadowhunters - humans born with angelic blood, who protect humanity from demons. After her mother is kidnapped, Clary begins a journey of self-discovery in the Shadow World, along with her best friend Simon, while learning how to hunt demons, under the guidance of the very handsome but mysterious Shadowhunter Jace Wayland.

Netflix


Here is a beginner's guide to the lingo of Shadowhunters, so you can work out who is who and what is what!

Shadowhunters – Half human, half angel hybrids sometimes referred to as Nephilim. These warriors are responsible for hunting demons, protecting humans and keeping order in the Shadow World.

Downworlders – Half-demonic creatures such as warlocks, werewolves and vampires who live in the Shadow World. They have human souls and live alongside Shadowhunters.

Mundanes – Mere mortals who do not have the ability to see the Shadow World. They are referred to as "Mundies" for short.

The Clave – Collective name for the political body of active Shadowhunters. It is the Clave’s duty to protect the helpless, safeguard humanity, and ward of evil on Earth.

The Accords – Peace negotiations written to maintain order among Shadowhunters and Downworlders.

Runes – Symbols used by Shadowhunters to grant supernatural powers or protection. They can be drawn onto any surface and are often tattooed onto their skin before fighting demons.  The older or more experience a Shadowhunter, the more Runes they will have on their body.

Stele - A slim cylindrical wand used by Shadowhunters to draw runes.


Seraph Blade – A slim blunt tube that once activated transforms into a sharp, clear glowing hilt. Each blade is named after an Angel and is activated when the name is called. Shadowhunters use these in battle.

Shadowhunters has a cast of good looking young characters thrown into an exciting fantasy storyline with plenty of action to keep the viewers entertained. It is perfect for a younger audience with a great soundtrack, beautiful visuals and plenty of attitude. 

Watch Shadowhunters now on Netflix, with new episodes added weekly.


netflix

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Stick Man out on DVD #StickManDVD

On Christmas Day, 10 million of us settled down with our little ones to watch the BBC transmission of Stick Man, and what a wonderful treat it was! The latest Julia Donaldson adaptation really captured our hearts and imaginations, with its emotional storytelling and magical animation.

julia donaldson


The DVD of Stick Man is available to own on February 1st 2016. Starring the voice talents of Martin Freeman, Hugh Bonneville, Rob Brydon, Jennifer Saunders, Russell Tovey and Sally Hawkins, the short film tells the story of Stick Man's epic journey home, after unintentionally ending up miles away from his family tree. His marathon adventure features many predicaments where he finds himself in a swan's nest, being used as a dog's toy, in a fire and on a sandcastle as a flag. But he knows he isn't an ordinary stick - he's Stick Man and his family are waiting for him to come home.


Stick man


Stick Man promises to be a real classic and a family favourite. At 27 minutes long it is perfect for little ones. We have received a copy of Stick Man to enjoy together along with some of the lovely merchandise accompanying the film.  My family loves it - we may even have shed a tear or two, sharing in Stick Man's adventure as he journeyed home to his loved ones who wanted him back so desperately. It's a tale of love, bravery, family and self belief. The animation is beautiful, true to the illustrations of Alex Scheffler, creating a charming visual experience.

Fans of Julia Donaldson and the Stick Man book  will love the DVD, which comes with some special features including an artwork gallery, a live performance by the author and illustrator and a behind the scenes documentary.

stick man
Click and print out this activity sheet for some Stick Man fun.

Stick Man is the latest film adaptation from Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler based on their timeless classic, which is available on DVD from 1st February 2016, courtesy of Entertainment One.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

JUSTIN FLETCHER ANNOUNCED AS HEADLINE ACT FOR GERONIMO FESTIVAL

Geronimo, the largest children’s festival in the North West has announced its most exciting line-up to date, with headliner CBeebies Superstar Justin FletcherKnown for CBeebies shows Something Special, Justin’s House and Gigglebiz, Justin Fletcher will be performing his signature act on the festival’s main stage for one day only at each festival, on Sunday 29th May at Tatton Park and 1st May at Harewood House.
   
With more acts and activities still to be announced, Geronimo Festival 2016 is a fantastic day out for the whole family, promising an exciting programme of acts, amazing experiences and wonderful adventures.
Further acts announced:

BOOMCHIKKABOOM!  Supported by Mothercare UK, enjoy bubble and snow machines, giant parachutes, face painting, soft play, crafts, pom poms and live music – to get the whole family raving together with timetabled "rave sessions".
VIP Puppets creates larger than life puppets that interact with their audience. With walkabouts featuring an adorable giraffe called Dolly and her baby Juno, guests can pet or feed the towering puppets who are always happy to lower their heads to meet their biggest (smallest) fans. Dolly's team of attentive zookeepers is always on hand to train new recruits in feeding, and cleaning up her poo!
For all mini music lovers, Saul’s Junk orchestra’s amazing pop up musical installations will amaze and inspire. Find them in the woods and the main festival field, or join in one of their workshops.
Panning for gold has been around for hundreds of years, and you can try your hand at it with The Highland Valley gold & gem panning activity, bringing the gold rush to Geronimo!

Early bird tickets available until 31st Jan priced at £18.50 so be quick!
Tickets priced at £25.00pp from 1st Feb. 

Geronimo Festival


Visit www.geronimofest.com for more information
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GeronimoFestival/

Twitter: @geronimofest_uk

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Playmobil Eggs for Easter #PlaymobilPlayologist

It seems like just yesterday that our Playmobil Advent Calendar's last door was opened, heralding the excitement of Santa's imminent arrival, but now we are looking forward to Easter. Easter is a lovely time of year and an opportunity for the family to get together for some fun Easter activities and a celebration Sunday dinner. Little ones love to receive Easter gifts and Playmobil has a great range of toys encased in colourful, plastic Easter eggs, which are perfect for giving, that make a great alternative to traditional chocolate eggs.

Freddy was delighted to receive two of the Playmobil eggs, one from the Sports & Action and the other from the City Life range to open early. (The eggs are available to buy from February 2016.) Both suitable for boys and girls who love Playmobil toys, they are £6.99 each, which is a great price for a Easter gift that will be loved and enjoyed for years to come. We think they are brilliant!

Playmobil, easter eggs


The City Life egg is bright yellow in colour and contains a sealed bag containing nine Playmobil pieces including a female zookeeper figure, an alpaca and accessories. With a broom for sweeping and a bucket of greenery for the alpaca to eat, children can enjoy lots of imaginative play.

The toys can be packed away into the egg for storage or added to your Playmobil collection.

easter egg


The bright red egg contains the Sports & Action soccer player, perfect for sports mad kids. The set contains one footballer in a red jersey along with a ball and a goal. There are some numbered stickers so you can personalise his strip with the number of your choice.

The footballer figure fits on a stand and has a leg with real kick action so you can kick the ball into the goal for some penalty practice. This adds an extra element of fun to play time.

Easter egg


The Playmobil Egg toys are the same high quality as you would expect from the brand. Played with as a one-off toy, or as part of a big collection, Playmobil offers the opportunity for children to create their own world of imagination, allowing them to explore different worlds and environments through play.

The eggs are suitable for children aged 3 to 10 years old and can be found on the Playmboil website where you can see the whole range of Playmobil Eggs for 2016: Easter Bunny School, Mermaid with Seahorses, Soccer Player with Goal, Zookeeper with Alpaca and Pirate on Treasure Hunt. Each is £6.99.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

How to Enjoy A Night at the Movies - in the comfort of our own home

We love movie nights here Inside the Wendy House. Films bring families together, giving us an opportunity to snuggle up to enjoy a good movie. Film nights are also a lovely opportunity for grandparents to get involved with the grandchildren - you can be any age to enjoy a good movie together. A film night at home is also a really cheap alternative to a night out at the cinema, so it can save you some money without compromising on having a good time together.

We have been given the opportunity to host a Night at the Movies in our own home, courtesy of Gracewell Care Homes, with a blockbuster movie to watch, and some snacks to munch on.

Hosting a film night is easy:


  • Invite family or friends over at a set time for the showing of a film.
  • Pick an age appropriate film for your audience. If younger people will be attending, be sure you have permission from their parents to let them see films that have a 12A or above certificate.
  • You can purchase a film on DVD or Blu-Ray if it's one you want to keep, otherwise you can use a streaming service (such as Amazon Video, Sky, Blinkbox or iTunes) to purchase a 24 hr rental. 
  • Provide suitable snacks that are easy to eat with the lights out!  Retro sweets served up in individual portion sized paper bags are fun and cones of freshly made popcorn are perfect film food and very cheap to make yourself. Of course you can provide gourmet popcorn if the budget allows - Joe & Seph's popcorn is my absolute favourite. Cans or juice cartons of drinks save on any post film washing up. 
  • Make sure there are plenty of cushions and blankets so everyone can get comfy.
  • Turn the lights out and switch mobiles on to silent mode.
  • Enjoy your movie night!


films, George Fairbairn
Image by George Fairbairn

It is such a great activity for kids of all ages to enjoy. Little ones love a good Disney film or cartoon feature, and we regularly sit down together to watch the latest must see movie with Freddy and Kezia. But having older children too, means we can also enjoy some more grown up movie nights. It is lovely to spend quality time with our teenagers. So Terminator Genisys was our film of choice, which is a certificate 12. Once Freddy was in bed we were able to begin our film night.

We are big fans of the Terminator movie franchise and this latest edition did not disappoint. It was wonderful to see Arnie back in the lead role taking on his younger self thanks to the time travel element of the films. Game of Thrones' Emilia Clark takes on the role as Sarah Connor. Genisys combined the trademark humour and action of the original movies to create an enjoyable, exciting action film, with a wonderful touch of Terminator nostalgia.

film night


This post has been inspired by Gracewell Elderly Care Homes who put on family film nights for their residents, encouraging members of their families to attend, bringing the generations together for activities everyone can enjoy.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Must Watch Documentaries on Netflix #StreamTeam

My Netflix viewing has been completely dominated by watching the powerful, gripping documentary series Making a Murderer. The tale of wrongful conviction, police corruption, a flawed judicial system, evidence tampering and false confessions is the stuff of a work of great crime fiction - so the fact that it is all true makes this one of the most compelling programmes I have watched in a long time.

The case of Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey has gripped Netfix audiences, garnering them lots of support across the world. Watching it sets you on a journey of emotions from anger to disbelief to frustration as you question everything. Filmed over a decade, it includes footage from the interrogation rooms, the courtroom, recorded calls from jail and press coverage from the time, making it utterly authentic.

Making a Murderer stays with you long after you finish the series. I have researched the case online, reading transcripts, developments and theories that viewers have come up with. There is a Reddit thread dedicated to the case and many a meme has been created in honour of the show. I have my own ideas about the case, which I discuss at length with my daughter who is studying Criminology at university. It has highlighted so much that is wrong with the system and gives you an insight into how the pressure and desire to make a conviction can distort a criminal investigation and prevent the truth from ever being discovered.

If you haven't seen it - you simply must watch it!

Blackfish is a documentary focusing on the controversial captivity of Orcas in parks such as Seaworld, and the potential dangers it poses not only on the whales but also on the humans who come into contact with them.

Viewers are shown archive footage of the capture, training and captivity of these intelligent, sentient creatures who suffer from great distress often resulting in extreme aggression and violence. The documentary features a male killer whale called Tilikum, who is responsible for the deaths of three individuals including a renowned whale trainer, Dawn Brancheau.

Much of the footage is shocking and you question who the real monsters are - can you really blame the Orcas for these acts of extreme violence or should we look closely at the organisations that oppress and exploit these creatures for money-making entertainment purposes?  Blackfish is an impassioned documentary that makes you change the way you look at performing killer whales in captivity.

Food Inc is a graphic look at the food industry in America, focusing on the damage done by corporate farming carried out on a vast scale for enormous profits, with little regard for consumer health, animal welfare, employees' rights or the environment. As they gain greater control of the global food market corporations are mass producing food cheaply with little regard for the negative consequences and catastrophic impact they are having on the world or humanity itself.

With the majority of food production carried out by a handful of these secretive corporations, the standard of production relies on cheap processes that rely on cruelty and exploitation to maximise profit rather than on quality. Exploitation extends to the underpaid workers, to the indebted farmers, to the inhumanely treated animals and to the consumers who are fed substandard products.

Watching Food Inc reminds us all of the value of quality food: slow grown, organic, locally sourced produce rather than chemically altered food such as burger meat that contains bleach to remove dangerous toxins to make it fit for human consumption.

I always have my belief in my family's vegetarian lifestyle reaffirmed when watching documentaries like this. Even though this is an exposé of the America food industry, it isn't difficult to see similarities in the UK markets. With the rise of obesity and diet related diseases, we should all take stock of what we eat and how that food is produced.

Montage of Heck is a documentary about the life and career of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain. Packed with home movies, recordings, artwork, animations, readings from journals and photos, it gives you an incredible window in to Kurt's childhood, formative years and his rise to fame.

His happy early years soon gave way to feelings of rejection and Kurt became a very troubled teen, but his desperation to be loved and accepted and his creativity shone through. It's very sad to witness his early downfall and the failure of his family to provide the support he needed. You can't help but wonder whether he could have been saved - but without his tortured soul we may have never seen the genius of Nirvana.

The insight into Kurt's character and his relationships is amazing. Viewing his journals allows us a rare glimpse into his wildly active mind, filled with lists, lyrics, rants, cartoons and ideas. His mental problems, ill health and addictions saw him spiral into darkness, but his creativity and talent were a beacon of light that escalated him into becoming a legend and reluctant spokesperson for a generation of disaffected youth.

Cobain's story is such a tragedy, and this documentary reveals a vulnerability and a desire to be loved that speaks of his humanity, fleshing out the grunge rock legend into a human being with desires, hopes, flaws and insecurities. His relationship with Courtney seemed to be the catalyst for his demise, although it offered the thing he always craved - family. Some people are just not meant for this world, but Kurt's legacy lives on.

Kurt Cobain


Visually this is a stunning documentary featuring interviews, real life footage and incredible animations to accompany audio footage. It's a must see for fans offering a rounded view of the man and avoiding any conclusions or answers to the question of his rise and fall. in fact the factors surrounding his death are not explored at all. Instead it provides a chance to witness the pivotal moments and to see the man himself in a raw and real documentary with an amazing soundtrack.

This documentary is authorised by Kurt's widow Courtney Love and his family and finishes a month before his untimely and tragic death, so any conspiracy theorists who believe his death was murder and not suicide, may be left wanting by the final cut.



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