I’ve generally seen kids television as an opportunity for me to get something else done. Lately, though, the girls have made sounds about wanting me to watch with them. I’ve taken this as a cue to introduce them to some of my childhood favourites but they’ve also enjoyed sharing what they love with me. Recently, this has included a show on Pop – on air now, Dreamworks’ Spirit Riding Free.
As big horse lovers, I’m not surprised my kids are drawn to the story of Spirit, an untameable stallion who befriends a young girl called Lucky. Lucky has recently moved from a city to a town in the American West and struggles to fit in but soon finds friendship in two of her horse riding classmates and in Spirit. The show is definitely a current favourite here.
For my kids, it’s all about the winning combination of horses and friendship. The story is cute and fun, and while this might not consciously register with them, the animation is pretty high quality too. I love that Lucky is a strong heroine, fully in touch with her sense of adventure and that the show carries positive messages about forgiveness and determination. I genuinely well up in at soft moments (I’m a bit prone to that) and there’s plenty in there to make us all laugh.
At the moment, Spirit has a competition running, offering kids to a chance to win entry to the Spirit Riding Free Stable Sleepover. Three winners will stay in a converted stable with a friend and enjoy a weekend full of all things Spirit, from horse riding to crafts to treasure hunts and lots more. Basically, it’s a dream for kids who love horses or, better yet, love Spirit.
Click here to check out the competition hosted on POP. The episodes are available to watch now – weekends at 12.30pm.
With all the craziness of moving from Bristol to Cornwall earlier this year, I told the girls that we’d do birthday parties next year. We had grandparents come over for Ophelia’s and they’ll come again for Talitha’s but that’s about the height of excitement and organisation I was and am up to.
But with little Delilah’s first birthday looming in just two months, I still wanted to plan something special. Of course, she’s not going to know what’s going on but first birthdays are fun landmarks for the rest of the family so I thought that making it a treat for the older two as much as for her could be the way to go.
After all, they’re excited about every little thing she does, whether it’s learning to turn very slightly as she begins to bum shuffle or making a new sound. They’ll definitely make a fuss over her turning one. Isn’t that a brilliant thing about subsequent babies? This time around you have at least one person who’s as excited or more about every little detail as you are!
As it turns out, it’ll be baby’s first theatre show, a trip to the Hall for Cornwall in Truro to see Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom live on stage.
The older two were ecstatic when I shared the news, planning already how it was going to go and insisting, of course, that we watch a few episodes in preparation. They love Ben & Holly, love the theatre and love birthdays so it has the makings of the best family outing in their view. We took Talitha to her first play when she was a tiny toddler and Ophelia has been going to the theatre since she was a babe in arms.
We’ve never been to see a cartoon favourite taken to the stage, though, so this will be a fun first. With masks and music, the show promises to offer a gentle, colourful and interactive theatre experience, perfect for young fans of the BAFTA-winning show, especially those in need of a theatre introduction. Take a look at the trailer…
It’s currently on tour visiting theatres throughout the UK and Ireland, and probably near you, should your kids love the little fairy and elf too. You can check out dates and more information on the show over on the Ben and Holly live show website.
The show is offering readers of Beautiful Tribe the chance to win a family ticket (2 adults and 2 children) for any show on the tour. To enter to win, leave a comment on this post answering the question the following question:
Q. What is the name of the ladybird in Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom?
George, Gary or Gaston?
The prize will be fulfilled by Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom live on stage. Entries close on June 6th at 10pm. Winner will be chosen at random by number generator.
We have been given tickets to the show in exchange for hosting this giveaway.
Children are naturally fascinated with musical instruments. Certainly, most who visit our house want to have a go with my guitars hanging on the wall. From early on, we’ve talked with Talitha about what instruments we can hear in any bit of music we’re listening to. She’s particularly fascinated if she can pick out a steelpan as she knows that comes from Trinidad and Tobago, where I’m from. Often, we’ll look for pictures of instruments or YouTube videos of musicians playing them so we can get a closer look.
We’ve been to a fair few gigs with the kids (one of the benefits of living in Bristol) but it’s been on the cards for a while to check out Lilliput Concerts, which offers classical music directed at the youngest of audiences and their grown ups. This Saturday we went along to their “Music for Cello with Jonathan Rees” at Redland Park United Reformed Church in Bristol.
The audience consisted of babies in slings to four-year-olds and they were all welcome on stage to get up close and personal with the musician and his instrument. Brightly coloured mats were placed on and just off the stage, with stuffed notes lying about for little hands. Parents were in chairs or on the floor with their little ones and if the mood struck, children danced on their own or with friends and parents.
Rees played selections from Bach, Britten, Barber and Cassado. A lovely mix of Hispanic melodies and dreamy tunes. He chatted with the children between pieces, engaging them with the music and the instrument and even letting them choose what he’d play next.
Ophelia was very obviously taken with it from the start, moving with the music, clapping to the beat and drinking it all in. Talitha took a while to warm into things, not keen on dancing or even getting up close. By the end, though, she grabbed her little sister’s hand and planted them directly in front of the cellist and she cued up at the end to feel the back of the cello while he played a note.
At the end, there was tea and cake and Talitha wanted to know what the instrument would be at the next Lilliput concert and whether we could buy tickets now! So I guess that’s June 12th sorted for us, then! It was well-timed too as she was off to her music class right after so I imagine she had a few things to tell her teacher.
We’re delighted to have been guests of Lilliput Concerts and are officially hooked! Do check out their Facebook page. We’re especially taking our youngest listener to see them at Hoo Haa! Festival at Colston Hall this year.
It’s been a while since I shared some of the things I’ve been loving lately so I thought I’d welcome the weekend with a little roundup. Let me know anything you’ve been into lately that you think I should checkout.
More time outdoors
This is such an obvious thing but we are so much happier and healthier when we’re outdoors, aren’t we? The trouble is, I hate winter. Even all bundled up (this was my best winter on the layers front) I think having grown up in a tropical climate makes me particularly susceptible to suffering under the dark and cold. I’ve also been finding that carrying Ophelia or pushing a pushchair leaves me in agony with my ligaments softening in pregnancy.
I’ve been pushing through recently and committing to taking the kids outside once a day and staying out with them, even if it’s just the garden or the park across from where our home ed co-op meets, and it’s really been helping me to cope a bit better with everything else. It helps that we’ve had some warmer, sunnier days recently but I’ve been appreciating that there’s something to be said for a walk through the rain or pushing through the wind too. Ophelia is walking so much now that getting out is far less daunting. She’s also making good strides with learning to ride her scooter.
Peaky Blinders, Vikings and Winter’s Bone
We’ve been waiting – it feels like forever – to watch Series 2 of Peaky Blinders. Yes, I know Series 3 is out now but Season 2 only recently came to Netflix. I was repulsed by so much in this series and really went off Cillian Murphey’s character, Tommy Shelby, in the earlier episodes but it’s impossible to stop watching, so beautifully shot and really captures British city bleakness. I only wish we hadn’t flown through the whole series in about a week.
Over on Amazon Video, I’ve been making my way through Series 4 of Vikings. This is one of those shows Laurence and I really should watch together as it appeals to both of us but for some reason we keep catching it when we’re apart. He doesn’t seem to be as into the latest series (maybe not enough full-on battles?) but I continue to be intrigued by what’s happening with Lagertha, the shield maiden turned earl. I have no idea how historical the programme is despite being produced by The History Channel but even if it’s pure historical fantasy, I’m happy to be taken in.
Also, a few weeks ago I watched Winter’s Bone on Netflix while babysitting for a friend and it’s really stayed with me. It’s truly a sign of a quality movie when you can’t stop thinking about it, isn’t it? This is the film Jennifer Lawrence was nominated in the Oscars for a few years ago and I can definitely see why. It’s terrifying, shocking, bleak and reassuring in one hit. I keep recommending it anytime “what have you been watching lately” conversations come up.
All the rainbows
Rainbows seem to have taken over children’s clothing. Maybe I’m really suggestible with this sort of thing but I’m desperate to get a hold of some for my girls, especially for Ophelia who is rainbow-mad at the moment. I love this Frugi dress and almost bought it for her birthday but wound up being a bit skint at the time. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get around to making some rainbow clothes. Time to dust off those applique skills.
Creating over consuming
On that note, I’ve felt really convicted recently that I want to make more than consume. There’s a lasting pleasure that comes from creating that the quick thrill of buying just can’t match up to, for me anyway. Crocheting a granny square baby blanket for our baby due in July has been nothing short of therapeutic. I’m really looking forward to wrapping her in it.
Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
Lastly, you might remember me going on about how Netflix’s Master of None was basically the funniest, most culturally literate TV series I’d seen in a long time and that I’d become an Aziz Ansari mega fan as a result. Well, on the back of that, Penguin asked me whether I’d like to check out his new book, Modern Romance and give away a copy. Well, yes I would. So here we go.
The book reads as a hilarious study of how technology, from sexting to online dating to social media, has complicated how people find love today. Ansari is astute in his understanding of people, open about his own experiences, thoughtful and laugh-out-loud funny in turn. He writes as he speaks and if you’ve ever seen his standup comedy, you’ll know that can only be a good thing.
To win a copy of Modern Romance, enter the Rafflecopter widget below.
In case you’ve reached the end of a series and are wondering where to next, here’s what we’ve been watching on Netflix recently…
A guilty pleasure
I’ve been making my way through The Tudors. I watched it here and there back when it aired for the first time when I was doing my MA in Early Modern Literature and Culture but I could never allow myself to get into it. I think I found it contrived (which it is) and liberal with history (also true). Perhaps I needed the distance of time to enjoy it for what it is, a sexy take on an exciting point in British history. I can hardly believe that I didn’t like it because I find it utterly addictive now! Amusingly, Laurence has watched a couple of episodes with me and identified Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell in Game of Thrones, whereas I kept looking at her in Thrones and thinking, there’s Anne Boleyn.
Laugh out loud funny
I don’t think Laurence is going to join me with The Tudors anytime soon but both of us are hooked on Master of None, ironically named because the indie-style Netflix original comedy certainly is masterful. It’s literally one of the funniest shows I’ve seen in years, thought-provoking, elegantly executed and offers a consistent flow of laugh out loud moments. Bring us much, much more Aziz Ansari, please!
One for the kids
I asked Talitha what she’s been enjoying on Netflix lately and unsurprisingly, she chose to recommend to you “the elephant magic hat show”, ie. Ella the Elephant. Aimed at 4+, it’s a sweet, gentle series following the adventures of Ella and her friends on Elephant Island, with a strong focus on helping each other. Importantly for my sensitive 4-year-old, there’s absolutely nothing scary in it. Hopefully, we’ll looking into the book series it’s based on some time soon.
Where to next
Everyone is going on and on about Making a Murderer, a documentary in which a man is exonerated after serving 18 years for sexual assault and attempted murderand soon after convicted of murder in suspicious circumstances. It’s definitely next on the list.
What have you been watching lately? Any recommendations?
Having had a lot of fun trying out Sprout by HP, a new creative desktop that offers so many possibilities with it’s touch screen mat and 3D scanner, we worked on a little stop motion as a festive family activity one Sunday afternoon. So, here’s the big reveal. Hopefully it makes you smile and puts you in the mood for the season. Merry Christmas!
The Sprout by HP feature we were most excited about trying out was the ability to create a stop motion animation. We thought this would be particularly cool for Talitha to do with Laurence.
Feeling festive, we grabbed our nesting doll nativity set (from Tigerlilly Quinn’s shopped – closed now but do check out her blog as there’s so much pretty over there) since we wanted to make something with a Christmas theme. The downside of this was that they are rounded so didn’t stay in position on the mat. A little white tack gently helped with that.
Talitha was a bit trigger happy with the scanning so we ended up having to delete loads of slides with Laurence’s hand in. Playing it back every so often meant that she got a real sense of the process and understood how it all worked.
I can imagine that, given enough time to really play with this on her own, it could become a highly creative, high-tech version of her everyday puppet shows, turning any object into a potential character.