King Midas

You may recall my first Silver Penny Stories review from last week.  Well today I’m sharing our second book in the series, the classic tale of King Midas.

King Midas

This lovely hardback book is part of a series of early reader stories, offering youngsters a first glimpse at classic tales.  In fact, tales that I remember from my own childhood; they have a lesson to learn too.

The books feature one page with a small amount of text followed by an illustration page, making them manageable for children learning to read.

King Midas

There are a lot of quite complex words within the stories, but Monkey points out words that he knows as we read, and he’s enjoying the whole experience.

I love stories from Ancient Greece so King Midas has long been a favourite of mine.  Be careful what you wish for and think before you speak are great lessons for any early reader to learn.

We follow the story of King Midas who is granted a wish by the Greek God Dionysus. Without thinking of the consequences the King wishes that everything he touch should turn to gold.  Sounds great doesn’t it, but of course in reality it means that the King can’t eat or drink anything, he turns everyone he loves into gold and people stay away from him.

He regrets his request but can it be reversed?

For £3.50 King Midas represents good value for money and I’m sure it will be well read here over the next few years.

disclaimer:  we were sent this book in exchange for an honest review


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A first sentence

Some of you may have read my post from last week about our first family portrait as seen through Monkey’s eyes.  It’s one of those pictures that will definitely make it to Monkey’s Memory Box.  We had a note from school the week before last telling us that the children would start getting homework from last week.  They each received a scrapbook which would come home on a Friday night with a task to be returned to school the following Tuesday.

Last weekend the scrapbook was obviously a novelty and the task was easily completed. Cut out a series of winter themed objects and stick them in your scrapbook in order of size. Monkey enjoyed the task and it was completed quickly.  I knew we wouldn’t always be so lucky!

I had hoped we’d get a few weeks before writing (AKA Monkey’s worst nightmare) became part of the task.  Sadly this wasn’t the case.  This weekend’s task was to draw a dinosaur, label it (I’m presuming that means name it??) and write something about it.  Blimey, this was going to be tough for my little man.  Yes, he loves dinosaurs, but drawing them is another matter.  He likes me to draw them and he colours them in.  Then we get on to the writing issue.  The boy who can’t really even write his name properly.  He has very little interest in writing – full stop.

How to tackle this task?  As soon as I read it out to Monkey he started getting upset.  I want you to draw it Mummy.  No Monkey you need to draw it for me this time.  Why don’t we pick one of your dinosaurs and you can copy him.  Uum, ok, and off he went in search of a Diplodocus.  I got some colouring pencils out and Monkey actually draw something mildly resembling his dinosaur.  Great job, well done!  What are you going to call him? Fredosaurus Mummy.  Ok, try to sound that out then and work out how to spell it.  We got to Fred and then he’d lost interest.  Ok, never mind.  Let’s turn the page in your scrapbook and write something about him.  What do you want to write?  (I will remain calm, we will get something down on paper, we will!).

I don’t want to do it Mummy, I can’t do it!!  I really think you can, let’s just try it.  I tell you what, if you can try to write a sentence then you can have one of the blueberry muffins we made earlier.  You will have earned it, but you must try.

Monkey’s school use Read Write Inc for Phonics and I bought the cards that accompany the scheme some time ago so we could encourage Monkey at home too.  Each letter card also shows how to form the letter when writing.  So, I got the cards out and hoped they would help make the task a little less daunting for him.

What would you like to say about your dinosaur?  He is a lovely dinosaur.  Ok, well you need to write that down in your book then.  You know what ‘he’ looks like don’t you – it’s one of your rotten reds.  We found the right letter cards and to my surprise and joy, Monkey wrote the word down.  We worked through the rest of the sentence with me helping Monkey to sound the words out and then work out how to write the words down on paper.

He did so well, this is the little boy who struggles to write his own name, let alone anything else.  We were told at our Phonics workshop not to worry about spellings, but to concentrate on sounds.  We had a first sentence, and I was so proud of him.  It took a lot of effort but he did it.

A first sentence

Can I have my cake now Mummy?  Yes you can!  Well done little man.  So am I bad for using cake to get the job done?  I don’t know, but I also don’t think he would even have tried without that incentive.  Now he’s conquered that obstacle I’m hoping it won’t seem so daunting for him next time.  Slowly, slowly, as with everything, my little Monkey goes at his own pace with everything.  Why should writing be any different.

 photo 4d06e438-4e6a-4f3b-88b2-0c1093350397_zps361ad0e9.jpg   Mini Creations “Our


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The B&W Photography Project Week 29 #bwphotoproject

The B&W Photography Project Week 29 with PODCast and you might have spotted this one in colour on yesterday’s #365 post.

The B&W Photography Project Week 29

On Tuesday I travelled down to London to visit the Toy Fair at Olympia.  I’d got my day organised well and had planned a number of meetings as well as free time at the start and end of my visit.  I was dropping Monkey off at school and Daddy P was collecting him later in the day, to give me a couple of hours extra to get home.  Our train station is within walking distance of the school, I’d got a good book to read.  All was going well for approximately 15 minutes and then the train stopped.

A train had broken down further down the line,  uum, that was the end of my grand plan then!  I finally arrived in London an hour later than planned with a half hour tube trip to get me to Olympia.

I walked through the underground to start my journey and this is what I found.  A totally deserted platform.  It really rather spooked me out.  In all the years I’ve travelled on the underground during the day I’ve never had a platform to myself.

Has this ever happened to you?  I was mighty relieved when a busy tube train arrived so I could continue on my way!

 photo 4d06e438-4e6a-4f3b-88b2-0c1093350397_zps361ad0e9.jpg

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Silent Sunday My Sunday Photo 250115

Silent Sunday My Sunday Photo 250115

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Project 365 2015 Week 4

Joining in with TheBoyAndMe and her linky 365 Project  A Photo A Day, Every Day, For A Year!  Project 365 2015 Week 4 Days 18-24.

Sunday 18th January – Day 18

Project 365 2015 Week 4

The day didn’t quite go to plan.  We should have gone to RHS Wisley to see the Butterflies but it would appear that Daddy P didn’t read the memo! It’s not always the children who play up is it!  Anyway, never mind, I am determined to get there this year.  Monkey and I had fun playing games.  An old favourite is his ELC Rockin Robot game – he loves it and actually doesn’t cheat these days.

Monday 19th January – Day 19

Project 365 2015 Week 4

Daft cat alert, Brewster decided he wanted to have a dance whilst Daddy P was working from home. Monkey had a good day at school but we’re back to the after school grumps. There was no point in even trying to get a photo of him today. I used an overlocker machine in my sewing class today – scared me to death to start with, but soon got the hang of it.  Monkey’s dressing gown is now coming along nicely, although the pattern sizing is rather peculiar.

Had the girls over for a curry night catch up which is always a nice way to start the week.

Tuesday 20th January – Day 20

Project 365 2015 Week 4

I dropped Monkey off at school and walked to the train station so I could go to the Toy Fair down in London.  I’d planned to get into London just before 10am, someone forgot to tell the train that broke down further down the line – aargh! When I finally got to Marylebone this was the sight I met at the tube station – I was the only person on the platform.  It was rather eerie.

Had a great day at the Toy Fair, meeting up with lots of contacts and seeing the ranges for 2015.  After a long day Daddy P and Monkey met me off the train and we had a fish supper.

Wednesday 21st January – Day 214

Project 365 2015 Week 4

I was still shattered after yesterday’s trip to London and a Jado Chi session was just what I needed to perk me up whilst Monkey was at school.  Had a lovely catch up with a couple of friends too.  After school, Monkey decided he wanted to play with my camera, taking photos of me.  I then explained that we could set the timer for a selfie – cheese!

Thursday 22nd January – Day 22

Project 365 2015 Week 4

I went to see a friend and her babies for a few hours and took her the baby sets I’d made on my sewing course before Christmas; two baby blankets, two baby hats and a hanging ornament for their nursery.  Thankfully she loved them – phew.

After school Monkey introduced his latest Aquabot 2.0 (review) to his Shark Tank. Brewster was busy eyeing up the fish, don’t think he’s realised that they are not to eat!

Friday 23rd January – Day 23

Project 365 2015 Week 4

The friend I’d visited yesterday had given Monkey a magic set as a belated Christmas present.  It’s a set he will grow into, but he loved being a Magician whilst we were having breakfast. I sent Monkey’s passport renewal paperwork ready for our trip to Spain in June.

After school we had a Skype session with Granny and Gramps and then made some blueberry muffins before our slow cooker lamb dinner was ready.  Monkey’s homework was to draw a dinosaur, label it and write about it.  This is quite a challenge for a boy who doesn’t like to write very much at all.  Naughty Mummy used caked bribery and is was worth it – a drawing, and a full sentence (the first one ever!).

Swimming went well.  I’d asked at the end of last week if we could swim a length again during the lesson as I could feel anxieties returning.  We only normally cover half lengths as we focus on improving technique.  I was fine until it was time to do the length, then as I started to get nearer the deep end I could feel panic rising up inside me, technique went out of the window.  I was in quite a state by the time I reached the other end, but I got there, just.  It’s so much easier for me to swim towards the shallow end.  I’ve asked that this become part of our lessons from now on, so I can really try to conquer the depth fear.

Saturday 24th January – Day 24

Project 365 2015 Week 4

Good morning Mummy!  Do you like my glasses?  A much nicer way to wake up then the normal alarm clock.  We’ve spent the day with our special friend ‘Auntie Sheba’, been out for lunch and then spent the afternoon at her house playing shops.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

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The Louis Bleriot Memorial #CountryKids

It’s always great when you are out and about to stumble on a little bit of history, totally by chance.  Last October we were staying on the outskirts of Dover for a long weekend to celebrate Daddy P’s birthday.  We’d spent a great day at Dover Castle (more on that in a future post) and had decided to visit the South Foreland Lighthouse before heading back to our caravan for dinner. On our way to the White Cliffs car park Daddy P spotted a sign that grabbed his attention.  Quite detour folks, we’re off to see the Louis Blériot Memorial.

I have to be honest, I was non the wiser.  Daddy P is mad about anything to do with aviation and was quick to inform me that Louis Blériot was the first person to fly across the English Channel in an aeroplane.  Cue aviation history conversation between him and Monkey.

The Louis Bleriot Memorial

The Louis Blériot Memorial is free to visit and has its own car parking facility (also free). It’s set in woodland behind Dover Castle on the spot where Louis Blériot landed on 25th July 1909 in Northfall Meadow.

The Louis Bleriot Memorial

We had no idea what to expect but Monkey was off on an adventure.

The Louis Bleriot Memorial

What are we going to see Mummy?  I have no idea Monkey, but that’s the fun isn’t it.  I can see something through the trees!

The Louis Bleriot Memorial

Mummy I can see a plane.

The Louis Bleriot Memorial

We read the information board and discovered that a life-size stone silhouette of Blériot’s aeroplane had been set into the ground on the spot where he had landed in 1909.  I think Monkey was a little disappointed not to see a real aeroplane.  But that was short-lived when he realised he could run around the stone version.

The Louis Bleriot Memorial

Daddy P was really happy with our discovery and it was nice for us to find this little historical treasure.

The Louis Bleriot Memorial

If we’d had more time we would have explored the woodland as there appeared to be a few different trails and benches dotted around.  But the thrill of a first lighthouse visit was waiting, another adventure for Monkey.

He was off again!

The Louis Bleriot Memorial

Monkey sped back to the car pretending to be an aeroplane.  It had been an interesting excursion to the Louis Blériot Memorial and Monkey and I had had a history lesson too.

Have you heard of Louis Blériot or been to the memorial yourselves?

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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The Lion and the Mouse

As Monkey is starting out on his learning to read journey I’m trying to mix up the type of books that we read.  So when we were asked if we’d like to review a couple of Silver Penny Stories with GMC Publications, they sounded ideal.  The first book we received was The Lion and the Mouse.

The Lion and the Mouse

The Lion and the Mouse is a small 41 page hardback book, with a small amount of text on one side and an illustration on the other. Perfect for early readers.

The Lion and the Mouse

Monkey is only just starting to read words so I get him to pick out the ones that he already knows and we read the story together.

This is a classic tale that I remember from my own childhood and there’s a moral to the story too.  In case you’re not familiar with The Lion and the Mouse – a mouse wakes a lion up and is about to be the lion’s breakfast.  He begs to be spared and promises that if he is, he will one day show the same kindness to the lion.  The lion thinks this is hilarious; how could a little mouse ever help the king of the jungle?

I won’t ruin the story if you haven’t read it before, but let’s just say that we all need friends from time to time, no matter how big we are.

The Lion and the Mouse is a great addition to our bookcase, priced at £3.50, this and other titles in the Silver Penny Stories are great value for money too.

disclaimer:  we were sent this book in exchange for an honest review

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Toot and Pop! – a book giveaway

Toot the Tiny Tugboat


You may remember that we got to watch a preview of the new Toot the Tiny Tugboat show towards to the end of last year.  Well the series has been a big hit on Channel 5’s Milkshake and I’ve got a great book giveaway to share with you today to celebrate.  I’ve got a signed copy of Toot and Pop!

Toot and Pop!

In this Sebastien Braun book we meet up with Toot the Tiny Tugboat.  He’s a hard-working tug who is always ready to lend a hand to those in need.  Pop is a large new ship and he decides that he doesn’t need anyone’s help, including Toot.

What will happen next?  This Harper Collins books retails for £6.99 and sounds like a great read for youngsters to enjoy.  To find out more about Toot and his adventures why not follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

For your chance to win the signed copy of Toot and Pop! just complete the Gleam form below – good luck!


Terms and conditions:

(Please note that all entries will be checked against comments for validation).

Only the first step of this form is mandatory, all other steps are optional. Only one entry per person is allowed.

This giveaway is for UK residents only.

Once a winner is randomly picked, I will check if the winner has done what was requested and I will contact them, if they do not reply within one week, the prize will be allocated to another person.

The giveaway will close on 21st February 2015 at midnight.

Toot and Pop! signed book

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Being kind to an older you

This post was written by Paul Watson.

Being kind to an older you

There comes a time in all our lives when the mirror refuses to play ball.

As we hurtle towards middle age, our dazzling shock of hair is inevitably replaced with a dull grey mane and our face becomes crinklier than Mick Jagger sunbathing in the Gobi desert.  Add in an aching set of bones, not to mention a fitness regime that would make Mr Blobby look like Mr Motivator, and it’s clear to see that more candles on our birthday cakes can spell trouble.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

With boisterous grandchildren to look after and appearances to keep up, you can’t let something as trivial as middle age block your path to a happy and full life during your advancing years.

Fancy learning how to be kind to an older you? Read on …

Give Your Skin a Regular Treat

As we get older, years of sun damage, smoking and various other factors combine to cause wrinkles.  Whilst wrinkles are an inevitable part of the ageing process (your skin gets thinner, drier and less elastic over time), there ARE ways to redress the balance.

Typically, your neck and jaw line are often the first places to show signs of ageing, but with the correct product – Cold Plasma Sub-D from Dr Perricone is highly recommended – you can give definition to sagging skin and sidestep that dreaded turkey neck.

Take Your Brain for a Walk

According to research carried out in the US, taking your brain for a metaphorical walk by writing, reading, completing the crossword in your newspaper or tackling a jigsaw can help stave off memory loss and reduce the onset or development of Alzheimer’s.

Over in Germany, however, researchers found that keeping your brain AND your body active is the key to getting to benefiting most. Consequently, combine 30 minutes of daily exercise – gardening or walking the dog, for example – with your mind workout for best results.

Keep On Smiling

They say that laughter is the best medicine, but did you know that a good guffaw could actually cure what ails you? According to eggheads, laughter can help with conditions like diabetes, heart disease and asthma, boosting the immune system and even shifting calories.

What’s more, if you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, an Oxford study has found a good laugh can have a positive effect on your symptoms for around 12 hours. With that in mind, make sure you stay in touch with your friends and folk who make you let out a big belly laugh.

Now it’s over to you …

How will you deal with the onset of middle age? What things will you do to ensure you’re kind to an older you? Please let me know by leaving a comment below – I’d love to hear from you.

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A family portrait

Monkey is a rather reluctant writer and when it comes to drawing, he’s only just starting to emerge from the scribble stage.  Yes, as with everything my son is going to take his time. He won’t be writing the 21st century version of War and Peace by his 6th birthday and he’s no Rembrandt.  But I’m not that bothered, I know him.  He will get there when he’s good and ready.  He seems to have a fascination with cards at the moment.  He’s been making cards at school and bringing them home.  There’s normally some sort of scribble and an attempt at his name.  We have a collection on the mantle-piece, he’s very proud of them.

But the other day, he brought something home that had me on the verge of tears.  Mummy I’ve drawn you something!  Really?  So what would it be?  Ah it’s another abstract card. But then he opened it up.  Mummy it’s us!

A Family Portrait

Monkey had drawn a family portrait.  Daddy P looks to be sporting a lovely spotty top, I’m in orange, Monkey appears to have a beard and even Brewster makes an appearance.  I love this family portrait so much because it’s so unlike Monkey to have drawn it!

I was gobsmacked and he was so proud of himself.  It’s a start and it’s taken pride of place in his display.  A family portrait – us seen through the eyes of my Monkey.  I love it that he sees Brewster as being part of our family. He has the Mummy, Daddy, Monkey, Brewster sizings right too.

Yes, it will be one of those pictures that Mummy is never going to throw out!

I haven’t joined in with Mini Creations for a while but this one has captured my heart and I wanted to share it – a family portrait, Monkey’s mini masterpiece (in my eyes anyway!)

Mini Creations
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