Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Creating an Easter Tree

This year, I have enjoyed getting the children involved in the run up to Easter.
To understand it's more than a day you wake up to chocolate eggs.

I decided to create an Easter tree, both for my own craft experiment, but also to get Seren involved.

We started early with a batch of small polystyrene eggs, some sequins and pins.
They make a wonderful contrast... albeit they were a little bit to teeny for a five year old.
Next we went with the awesome eggs we had seen so much of on Facebook and Pinterest. We of course made far too much of a mess of it, and our use of paste was 'excessive', but as the boys had also got involved it was more than fun.
 And they looked fantastic (albeit, not as transparent as we were aiming for).
After popping to Hobbycraft and investing in some medium and large polystyrene eggs, Seren and I had a lot more success in creating both button eggs together, and Seren experimenting with pens, paint, glue, glitter and sand.
 I carried on experimenting with ribbon, and before we knew it...  
And we are proud of our Easter tree.
Complete with cards from nursery and school.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Charlie & The Chocolate Factory ... with biscuits!

There are days you take your route to work.
You arrive at work and have no idea how it happened.

And yet, you know, if it happened to you, this would stay with you.
That, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the hit West End musical and Biscuiteers, supported by Tate & Lyle, have recreated the chocolate factory in biscuit form in the main window of Waterstones flagship shop in Piccadilly.

The 6m x 1.7m edible chocolate biscuit installation, based on the Olivier-nominated Charlie and the Chocolate Factory musical stage set, was designed and created by Biscuiteers and unveiled by Willy Wonka and Charlie on 8th April.
The entire chocolate factory has been lovingly recreated so that passers-by can look through this extraordinary 3D structure into each room and see Augustus Gloop being sucked in to the chocolate river in the chocolate room, Violet Beauregarde blowing up into a blueberry in the inventing room, Veruca Salt being thrown down the rubbish chute in the nut room and Mike Teavee being shrunk in the television room.

It took Biscuiteers 300 hours to design, bake, build and decorate this edible Chocolate Factory made using over 100kg of biscuit dough and 200kg Tate & Lyle sugar. The display will remain in the branch for four weeks.
Cast members, Charlie and Willy Wonka, unveiled the window display on 8th April and members of the hit show’s cast will read extracts from Dahl’s original story in the Piccadilly branch later in the month.

60 x 60cm versions of the edible chocolate factory will be on display in Waterstones shops in Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden, Greenwich, Chiswick, King’s Road, Richmond, Hampstead and Kensington.

Other elements of the partnership will involve the installation of a pair of Wonka factory gates into the children’s section of Waterstones Piccadilly, as well as a series of fun Charlie and the Chocolate Factory themed family events.
And so, 2014, fifty years since Roald Dahl’s best-loved tale Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was first published. The story of Charlie Bucket, the five Golden Tickets, the devilish Oompa-Loompas and the amazing Mr Willy Wonka has become firmly embedded in our culture, having (twice) been reimagined for the cinema, as an opera and, in 2013, as a hit West End musical. Conservative estimates suggest the original book has sold over 20 million copies worldwide; it is currently available in 55 languages.

Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has quickly become one of the West End’s most popular and successful stage musicals.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Maudie's Rooms - A #Review

This is the time of realisation.
The time when you thought you understood the boundaries of theatre.
Only to realise how traditional, and simple, and unchallenged your view is.
We followed our map to Cardiff Bay.
We passed the boats, the sea.
And Seren automatically assumed, knowing we were going to the theatre, that our destination was the Millennium Centre.
Only for me to lead her to our meeting point. A bus stop on Bute Street.
And, well, because it is so difficult to translate, this happened:

And Seren, well, Seren was so eager to go on this journey with Arlo Butterworth, and so we headed into- well, into an imagination.
An imagination which is like a carousel.
Of emotions, characters, spirit and energy.
From the Magic Roundabout to Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz, nothing compares to the adventure of being a part of exploring someone's memories and reality.

Maudie's Rooms, is, what I am beginning to understand is, commonplace in today's theatre, it makes so much of talented actors, a variety of characters were brought to life, and not only brought to life, but as you were taken into Arlo's world, so these characters interacted with their guests.
I have no idea where that talent comes from. There is something so intimidating as inviting people into your world, and when those people are not even close friends, and there are so many of them.
Well, obviously this is only my insecurity, because the six actors did nothing to make it seem anything other than the norm.
And Seren was enchanted. As was I.

As we drove home afterwards, Seren and I relived our favourite parts.
Seren got frustrated, there were so many parts we had already mislaid, and so we reminded each other of our favourites. From Solomon, and mummy's memories of Jamaica, and Seren's of the sea side and imagination play with her brothers; to the puppets- and when Seren will be old enough to go to puppetry sessions with mummy; to being pulled from under the bed and doing somersaults.
And the favourite bits- meeting the lovely lady at the bus stop, to whom Seren took a shine; to the Great Arnofini, whom Seren remembers from Wookey Hole (?) so she ably translated for Arlo; to the amazing Miss Sweetpea and Buddy Sprout- who knew Seren's favourite fruit could become so funny?
And then of course, to Sir Titus Spicketts, because baddies can be really... 'bad'. And because Seren was quite worried at one point (it was ok, she protected her mummy and everyone laughed- so it wasn't that scary), but then Sir Titus was very naughty (because he mentioned 'kill' which is never ok) but it all turned ok because he was hit with a fan (I think the papers) and then Maudie sorted it all out.
What can I say?
At 5, Seren definitely didn't get it all, but it was our special time (which is so rare with her siblings), and she enjoyed it enough to make it more than an amazing experience.

For me, not a mummy, Wow!
You know when you see something, and you know it's unique, but you can't help but think there should be so much more theatre like this.
The intricacies of each set, because they weren't sets, they really are rooms.
The talent of actors who can do this, interact and remain so.
To take us further into the world of theatre that makes our own imaginations free.

Seren, of course, will say it best.

And just for the practicalities, it was 1hr 25 mins (approx.) in duration with no interval. There are local facilities available, and for some reason Seren was organised enough to make use of the Millennium Centre in advance (Ssssshhh!). It was wheelchair accessible, and there was seating available throughout.
It's recommended for ages 7+, and whilst Seren and I had an incredible evening, I would imagine at 7 years old, a child will understand so much more than Seren.

And. For the record. It was incredible. Fantastic. Inspiring, Imaginative. Immense.

Maudie's Rooms is running from the 11th-26th April as a co-production between Roar Ensemble and Sherman Cymru.

Disclosure: We received two tickets for 'Maudie's Rooms'. All views and opinions contained are our own.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Listography- 5 photos of 2013

I have given up thinking I might read a Listography prompt and know instinctively my answers.
Books, music, photos- take something you love and try to narrow it down- brain hurtingly impossible.
But, how could I not take part in a Listography...
So, here goes.

 1. This photo has to be my first. It never fails to make me laugh. Albeit, it took over 12 months from this point to stop them laughing long enough to get them toilet trained! (February 2013)
 2. My birthday. The best. Our summer. And almost all looking at the camera. But all happy (August 2013).
3. My cheat photo (I know it's really three). The baptism. July 2013. Very grateful. Very happy. Very humbled.
 4. The Johnson Summer- I love this (August 2013).
 5. My girl. Postman's Park (September 2013)
6. Because I think we're allowed an extra this time (notwithstanding my earlier cheat!). My boys. Growing up too fast (October 2013)
 
And I will leave it here.
Knowing all the photos I haven't included.
Breathing, to get through this.

But yes, these, these are our moments.
And yes, pop over to Kate Takes 5 to check out more!

Friday, 11 April 2014

Creating an Easter Bonnet

We were away before Easter last year, so this was my first year to attempt making an Easter bonnet with Seren to take to school.
Of course, my first post of call was Pinterest where I found a great idea, unfortunately it was a link to ebay which was closed, and so I decided to figure out whether we could make our own version.

So, for Seren's Easter Bonnet we used:
  • Corrugated cardboard (from a parcel we received recently).
  • Green and yellow acrylic paint (from Home Bargains)
  • A leaf template in small and large
  • Gold glue
  • Paper plates
  • Elasticated ribbon
  • Easter chicks
  • Easter felt stickers (from Home Bargains)
  • Yellow feathers (from Home Bargains
  • Foiled chocolate Easter eggs (from Home Bargains)
  • A glue gun (and lots of glue sticks)
First things first, we printed off the leaf template, and I set Seren to work creating our petals.
We used eight large petals (the length of a page of A4) and five smaller petals (two per A4)- we probably could have done with six.
Mummy set to work cutting them out.

Everyone then set to work painting the petals (and one silly mummy forgot to put down a messy sheet.
Once all the petals were dry, we used glitter glue, just because, and I decided I preferred the corrugated side.
Two paper plates were painted to use as a base, one yellow to affix the petals and one green as the underside.
Using the glue gun, mummy glued the plates together, and affixed the larger petals to the yellow plates.
These were then decorated with little chicks, felt butterflies and felt eggs.
The smaller petals were all glued together at the base, and I then added the inner case of the ribbon holder inside, and folded and glued the petals around it, this time the corrugated cardboard was on the outside.
This was then glued to the middle and I added glue to the inside and stuck yellow feathers inside (with some foiled chocolate eggs for good measure.

To 'fix it' to Seren's head, a green strip of cardboard was created, glued to the green underside plate.
The strip had holes punched and an elasticated ribbon tied.
And it duly stayed put!
One happy child!

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Siblings - April

My little girl turned 5.
My little girl who has been so big since the day her brothers were born.
There is no doubting who is the leader of the pack.
She is completely of her own mind.
She is our rainbow.
She isn't particularly happy with this picture.
Whilst she is definitely jumping highest.
She is not in the lead.
Decisions, decisions.
And then there is this,
Our gatecrasher.
Our dress rehearsal.
As the boys start nursery school after Easter.
And of course they welcomed her into their moment.
Because they are one.
Johnson Babies.
Just a little bit older.
dear beautiful

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Octonauts theatre tour

As if there's some secret reader checking out my children's app's on my phone.
Realising they've moved from Peppa Pig to CBeebies... and Octonauts.
And then, I get an email....
A brand new theatre show for 2014-2015!

Based on the CBeebies show, Octonauts as a theatre show will open at The Orchard Theatre, Dartford, on Thursday 16 October and tours into 2015. Autumn tour dates have already been announced!

In Octonauts and the Deep Sea Volcano Adventure the entire crew of the Octonauts, led by intrepid explorer Captain Barnacles, Lieutenant Kwazii and Medic Peso, embark on an exciting new underwater quest and visit amazing underwater worlds full of adventure, with surprises around every corner. This action-packed interactive show features new music (from BAFTA-award winning composer Mani Svavarsson) and all the Octonauts live on stage for the very first time.

The Octonauts are a dynamic eight-member team of quirky and courageous adventure heroes who dive into action whenever there is trouble under the sea.

Equipped with a fleet of aquatic vehicles, they rescue amazing sea creatures, explore incredible new underwater worlds, and often save the day before returning safely to their home base, the octopod.

Director/adapter Richard Lewis said: ‘Octonauts is all about adventure and exploration which offers up a whole host of possibilities in a live environment. From the colourful characters and fantastic underwater setting to the amazing octopod where the Octonauts live, there’s great scope for a really unique, interactive theatre experience. We can’t wait to take fans on an adventure like never before.’

Age recommendation: 3 +

THURS 16 - SUN 19 OCTOBER ORCHARD THEATRE, DARTFORD

TUES 21 – WED 22 OCTOBER PRINCES HALL, ALDERSHOT

SAT 25 – SUN 26 OCTOBER WYCOMBE SWAN, HIGH WYCOMBE

WED 29 – THURS 30 OCTOBER FAIRFIELD HALLS, CROYDON

SAT 1 – SUN 2 NOVEMBER NEW THEATRE, CARDIFF

WED 5 – THURS 6 NOVEMBER G LIVE, GUILDFORD

SAT 8 – SUN 9 NOVEMBER ALEXANDRA THEATRE, BIRMINGHAM

WED 12 – THURS 13 NOVEMBER GRAND OPERA HOUSE, YORK

SAT 15 – SUN 16 NOVEMBER CORN EXCHANGE, CAMBRIDGE

WED 19 – THURS 20 NOVEMBER ST GEORGE’S HALL, BRADFORD

SAT 22 – SUN 23 NOVEMBER GROVE THEATRE, DUNSTABLE

Further tour dates to be announced

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