Sunday, 21 September 2014

What a day!

Charlie has had an interest in acting and the theatre since we first saw a Red Rose Chain production of Theatre in the Forest back in 2009 and although he hasn't been to drama classes or done anything other than school plays it came as no surprise when he wanted to take part in the open auditions for John & Michael Darling for the Peter Pan pantomime at Norwich Theatre Royal.

I had my reservations as he had no professional training nor experience of the theatre, other than treading the boards at the theatre's open day a couple of weeks ago and he can be quite flighty at times.

I didn't relish sitting with a bunch of precocious primadonnas and their pushy parents but he was adamant he wanted to do it and various people had said the audition process would be a great experience for him, especially if acting was a direction he wanted to take in life, whether it's now or when he's older.

Despite my reservations and negativity I was supportive of his choice so off we went this morning. I was more nervous than he was!

I was so pleased to see a friend and her son walk in as it took our minds off waiting as neither Charlie nor I are the most patient of people but Charlie was rather laid-back and relaxed about it.

I was thrown when the children were taken off to the auditorium and the parents had to sit in the bar waiting…and waiting….and waiting. It was hell!

Charlie's group returned and I was awaiting the "thank you very much but sadly you haven't got through" but Charlie's name was called out as he'd got through to the next stage! Soon after that he returned to the auditorium, again without me, and he was gone for what felt like hours. Gradually boys were returning to their parents with sad faces and I steeled myself for one very disappointed boy but then we were spoken to about the boys being either principal cast, understudies or stand ins. It hadn't sunk in that they were talking about my boy. He had won a part! Jo looked at me and I promptly burst into tears. I was convinced he'd be an understudy, even when he walked up the corridor punching the air but I didn't get to speak to him and ask what he'd got as they were all whisked off again (to be measured up for their flying harnesses!) and only then were we told who was doing what.

I was gobsmacked when his name was announced as one of the 3 Michael's. My boy had actually done it! I thought my heart would burst with pride (and yes, I nearly cried again.) I couldn't wait to phone everyone and tell them.

It's going to be a massive commitment, very hard work for him and will completely screw with Christmas plans but what a fabulous experience he's going to have! I'm really excited about him working with Sid Sloane and Kevin Kennedy but he was just so blasé when I told him. He's certainly not going to be starstruck!

Friday, 19 September 2014

PlanToys Outdoor Games *review*

PlanToys specialise in environmentally friendly toys and I love the look and feel of their traditional style wooden toys. We were sent one of their range of pre-schooler outdoor games for Harry to review. The Meadow Ring Toss is made from recycled chemical-free rubber wood and painted with non-toxic water based dyes.

Autumn may be fast approaching but we've been very lucky with the weather recently and the children have still been able to play outside after school and couldn't wait to get home from school to play.

There are three posts and bases, each one colour coded to match the wooden beads on the six rope rings, and they vary in height.

The children have played a variation of games; youngest aims for closest post, 2 rings each and you have to land your hoop on the matching post, and random aim.

Ring toss games are great for improving a child's hand eye coordination, attention and accuracy. The colour matching element could assist with younger children being able to identify and name colours. It also encourages taking turns.

PlanToys toys are beautifully made and incredibly sturdy. They're a range of toys that will last for years.

*We were not paid for this interview. We received the game for the purposes of the review. All opinion is honest and based upon our own experience.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

TalkTalk TV

We recently became TalkTalk ambassadors and as part of the package we received a YouView+ box which provides us with 70+ Freeview channels, On Demand TV, selected Sky channels and an extensive library of movies to rent as well as the ability to add TV Boosts by subscription, which include Sky Movies, Sky Sports and premium entertainment channels . Never again will I hear cries of "There's nothing on tv!" from the children (or hubby!)

When we moved house last year we stopped our Sky subscription so I was pleased to get Sky 1 & 2 back, along with Sky Living & Livingit, Sky Atlantic and Sky Arts 1 & 2.

The On Demand players include BBCiPlayer, ITV Player, 4OD, Demand 5, Milkshake, UKTV (Dave, Really, Yesterday)

The search facilities on the YouView+ box are great. You can search by name or genre and for films you can even search by name of actor or director. It's very easy to find the programme/film you want.

Rented films are clearly priced and there's an option to rent in HD (dependent on broadband speed). There's no chance of anyone in the house running up a massive bill as a pin code is needed for each purchase. Films are available for 48 hours from the time of purchase and some new releases are available the same day as they're released on DVD. I liked the fact that it's not just new films available, a lot of the older films and classics are there too.

Recording is easy and I love the series record function. The YouView+ box has a massive capacity of up to 300GB, which equates to 185 standard hours of standard definition tv so you can record a lot of series before needing to delete anything.

Of course there's also live TV pause and rewind which is a fabulous feature as any parent who regularly gets interrupted by their child will know! Another handy feature is within On Demand; it remembers where you are within a programme so you can resume straight away without having to recall which bit you'd got to before you turned it off. In the past we've had On Demand players and it's not the end of the world but it is irritating having to search through a programme.

 There's so much on there that I'm sure there are parts we haven't even discovered yet!

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