Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Erth's Dinosaur Zoo!

Direct from Australia, Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo brings these awesome prehistoric creatures to the stage as you’ve never seen them before, up close and personal!

When I was given the opportunity to go and see this show I knew I wouldn’t have to ask my 4 year old little boy twice and I was right, he couldn’t wait to meet the Dinosaurs.

One of the benefits to seeing a show at the Wycombe Swann on a Sunday is the car park is right next door and only costs £1.

We had really good seats to the right hand side of the stage and although we were on raised seating we were still able to purchase a booster seat for only £1 from the box office, which Alfie was really pleased with as it made him as tall as us and he kept telling me how comfy he was.

Wherever you had been seated in this show wouldn’t have matter as the children were able to go up onto the stage and interact with the Dinosaurs and during the show & the whole audience were visited from flying ones. The lady in front of us was given quite a scare as it nibbled her hair!

We saw cute baby dinosaurs to teeth - gnashing giants and the we met the most recent addition to the Dinosaur Zoo, a carnivorous theropod know as the Australoventator, the most complete meat-eating dinosaur found in Australia.

The whole show was very informative as on stage the whole time was a Dinosaur Ranger who explained about each Dinosaur, what they ate etc and it reminded me of being at a Panto with some of the comments being funny for adults however going over the children’s heads. It was advertised for all the family ages 3+ which I feel was right however if you plan to visit beware if you book front row seats, be prepared to get very close and for some people during our show this was too much and then moved seats!!

After the show all the children were given an opportunity to go and meet some of the Dinosaurs either in the foyer or on the stage. Alfie was pleased to meet a baby one and enjoyed it nestling up to him.

So many people came out of the show saying how good it was and unlike anything they had seen before and I would have to agree.

For us it didn’t end when we got home either as Alfie was the Australovenator for the rest of day !!

Nicola Woolcott

Sunday, 1 December 2013


  1. Mildly Concerned (until the end of November)
You’ll have a nervous feeling, knowing if you don’t start shopping soon, you’re going to get worried – Christmas is coming and you need to start buying gifts.  You’ll be noting possible presents to buy but not actually purchasing, thinking you still have plenty of time and you’ll come back later.
TOP TIP – When you see something you like, make a note of who it’s for, where you saw it and the cost so you can compare later on.   Get the basics in - wrapping paper, scissors, sticky tape (lots) and on a roll, labels (stick on = easier) with string (more fiddly but prettier), bows and ribbon (nice have, not a must have).

2.       Worried (First week December)
You’ve progressed to feeling worried.  Christmas is on your mind and rather than filling you with excitement, you’re thinking about all the things you still need to do.  Typically, you’re trying to remember those presents you thought were a good idea and trying to recall where you saw them.  You’ll also be conscious of trying to limit spending and get gifts at the best possible price.
TOP TIP – Compartmentalise your gift buying to ease pressure.  Get all nieces, nephews, friends and grandchildren bought before the end of the week. will direct you to the best gifts for children 0 – 16.

3.       Anxious – (Week 2 December)
You’re feeling uncomfortable, bordering on frightened that someone will be left disappointed.  It’s getting difficult to make decisions and you’re questioning some of the gifts you’ve already bought.
TOP TIP – Know what and who you’ve bought for and who’s left to buy for.  Wrap and label those gifts to prevent double buying in a moment of uncertainty. 

4.       Blind panic – (Week 3 - last full week of Xmas shopping)
The day you wake up with a strong feeling of fear that prevents reasonable thought and action.  Budget goes out of the window, you’re looking dishevelled and wide eyed as you dash through the aisles and displays, stuffing a myriad of gifts that will always “come in” when you inevitably overspend and over buy. 
TOP TIP – you’re a sales persons dream – stay away from the shops!  Have a shower, get a cup of tea, make a list of who you need to buy for and set a budget.  Start with the youngest and work up.  Go to to cover everything you need for kids.  Only hit the shops once you have a plan (and not too much left to buy!) has done the hard work for all last minute Laura’s and Lenny’s – they’ve researched the best kids gifts from over 50 retailers and put them together on one website, a bit like having your very own online personal shopper.  Stressed out shoppers can now relax with a cup of tea and a screen and select great kids gifts based on age, gender and price.

Catering for girls and boys aged 0 – 16 – there’s a vast range of presents available, catering for budgets of £5 to “blow the budget”.  Not only that, the site aims to offer the best price available on the internet, meaning no last minute ‘expensive’ panic buys or the disappointment of finding empty shelves.

As advent calendar windows open with alarming speed, panic-stricken, time-poor shoppers can simply click on the gift they want, which takes them directly to the individual retailer’s website.  The site works great from both a desktop and mobile device.

Compare4Kids founder, Rachael Ede, said: “Whether you’re shopping for your own children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren or friends, we have gifts to suit everyone and all budgets.  It’s super simple to use and means you can get the Christmas shopping for the kids done quickly and without any hassle, all from the comfort of your armchair.  Or, if you wake in the middle of the night with crushing realisation that you literally have no time left, is the site to come to.”
Retailers listed include Mothercare, Hamleys, Argos, Amazon, I Want One Of Those, Not On The High Street, John Lewis and many more.  Go to

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Simon Mayo supports drive to get boys writing!

  • New National Literacy Trust research shows boys’ are half as likely to enjoy writing than girls
  • Simon Mayo joins the charity’s campaign encouraging boys to write

New research published last week by the National Literacy Trust reveals that boys are half as likely to enjoy writing as girls and almost a third never or rarely write outside of class. Broadcaster and children’s author Simon Mayo joins the National Literacy Trust in calling for a renewed focus both at school and at home on ways to get boys into writing.

The National Literacy Trust’s third annual literacy survey of 35,000 8-16 year olds shows that boys are much less enthusiastic about writing than girls. The charity’s report Children and Young People’s Writing in 2012, outlines that:

  • Almost a third of boys say they never or rarely write outside of class (30.2%), half as many girls admitted the same (17.3%) and a third of girls write outside of class daily (32.6%).

  • Boys are twice more likely than girls to say that they don’t enjoy writing at all (20.9% vs. 8.6%)

  • 1 in 5 boys (19.5%) admit that “I would be embarrassed if friends saw me write,” compared with 1 in 8 girls (12.7%)

  • More girls than boys say that “writing is cool” (girls 35.2%, boys 26.8%)

  • Boys are also more likely than girls to agree that “if you can use a spellchecker there is no point in learning spelling and grammar” (boys 30.6%, girls 21.7%)

The National Literacy Trust’s report also reflects a direct link between children’s enjoyment of writing and their results at school. Of those young people who don’t enjoy writing at all, over half write below the expected level, and two-fifths at the expected level. Only 7% of young people who don’t enjoy writing at all write above the level expected for their age.

Simon Mayo, author of the Itch series, whose protagonist is a 14-year-old boy obsessed with science and on a mission to collect all the elements in the periodic table, says:

“It’s so important for boys to find a topic that interests them before they pick up a pen and start writing. I wasn’t particularly interested in writing at school, I only started to enjoy it later on, but I was hampered by being fantastically slow. When I started writing the first Itch book, it was as a short story for my son, but then I was completely captivated by the plot and characters, and the story took over. If you can grab a child’s imagination in the same way, getting them to write about a hobby or something they really enjoy doing then the whole story writing world is open to them.”

This echoes findings from the National Literacy Trust’s report, showing that three quarters of children and young people (75.7%) claim “writing is more fun when you can choose the topic.”

Julie Gibbings, a Senior Programme Manager at the National Literacy Trust who lead’s the charity’s network for schools and literacy professionals says:

“Reading and writing go hand-in-hand and it is through writing that children learn to formulate thoughts and improve their creativity and thinking skills. Our research shows that we must focus on increasing boys’ enjoyment of writing, if we are to support them to succeed at school and throughout their future lives. It’s down to teachers as well as parents to nurture a love of writing in boys’ and help to develop positive attitudes towards it early on in their education.”

The National Literacy Trust has also today launched the results of its 2-year action research project: Transforming Writing. The project, sponsored by Esmée Fairbairn,has developed a systematic approach for assessing writing that aims to raise attainment among primary school pupils.

In summary, the Transforming Writing project increased pupil’s attainment in and enjoyment of writing in all of the 12 schools that took part in the two-year research project. Key results include:

  • 68% of children who were taught by teachers participating in the Transforming Writing project made more than expected progress in writing during one academic year.

  • Similar progress was made by all children, regardless of their gender. 66.7% of boys and 69.3% of girls made above expected progress.
  • The proportion of all children who said they enjoyed writing ‘Quite a lot’ or ‘A lot’ increased by 10% (percentage points).

Visit to view tips for parents on how to support their children, particularly boys, in improving their writing skills.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

GPs prepare for cold & flu season

New research published this month has raised concerns about washing our clothes at temperatures below 60°C. Mums from across the UK were asked to donate washed and unwashed laundry for swab-testing and microbiologists found:

· 1 in 4 items washed at 40°C harboured traces of bacteria linked to faeces

· A washed bedtime cuddly toy showed the highest % of bacteria linked to faeces

· Washed laundry contained only 14% less bacteria than the dirty, unwashed laundry

Bacterial Soup

The laundry lab test results build on a growing bank of scientific research that shows how low-temperature washing is encouraging a ‘bacterial soup’ inside our washing machines with micro-organisms transferring between contaminated and uncontaminated items.

Winter bugs in our washing

Bacteria and viruses such as Influenza and E.coli can survive when you wash below 60°C.


From this research a new category of laundry detergents have been created to tackle the problem of bacteria in low temperature washing. Dettol’s Anti-bacterial Laundry Cleanser (£4.59, from all major supermarkets) kills 99.9% of bacteria even at 30°C.