26 July 2012

The P&G Family Home for London 2012

I have an Olympic blog exclusive for you. Last night I attended a rather special housewarming party to launch the P&G Global Family Home at Vinopolis in London. I was the only blogger there, rubbing shoulders with Carol Hoy, Pat Radcliffe, Pauline Pendleton, Pat Payne, Vinnie Ennis and Alison Powell. You may not know them, but you will have heard of their children, Sir Chris Hoy, Paula Radcliffe, Victoria Pendleton, Keri-Anne Payne and Jessica Ennis.

Marc Pritchard, P&G’s Global Brand Building Officer, welcomed the families of 10,000 Olympic athletes from around the world. He said "We asked athletes what we could do to support them here in London and they told us that Moms and families from around the world don’t have a place to really relax and be together at the Games. We have been in the business of serving moms and families for 175 years. So it makes sense for us to celebrate the athletes by serving their moms and families.”

We were shown a series of videos from the Thank You Mum campaign, including one featuring President of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge. He said “P&G is making an important and unique contribution to these Olympic Games by creating a warm, welcoming space where the families of some of the world’s greatest athletes can come together. Athletes can be reassured that while at the P&G Family Home their families will be well cared for, thus enabling them to focus on doing their best on the field of play.

As well as the Family Home, where families can gather to watch the Games, take their laundry, play with their children and receive hair and spa treatments, P&G have used a large proportion of their allocation of Games tickets to send all of the families to the Opening Ceremony to watch their children enter the stadium.

“Every mum knows that encouraging your kids to play sports is not just about raising champions,” said Carol Hoy, mother to Team GB’s Sir Chris Hoy. “I was proud of Chris when he was a little boy winning the egg-and-spoon race, and I’m proud of him now as an Olympian. Thanks to P&G, I’ll be there to cheer him on in the Velodrome, and visit him in the P&G Family Home.”

We were treated to a live performance by X-Factor finalist Rebecca Ferguson. My goodness, that girl has a stunning voice.

I got to hang out with the woman behind the tweets, my friend Glenda @thankyoumum

The joyful atmosphere at the party was not only due to the free-flowing champagne, but also because the families could relax ahead of a tense fortnight of sport. The excitement and anticipation was clear.

Pauline Pendleton told me how nervous she was, but also how proud she is of her amazing daughter. She didn't distinguish between Victoria and her other children. I guess that is why I like the Thank You Mum campaign. We may not have Olympians for children, but whatever they end up doing they will always be our babies.

Hats off to P&G for making sure the athletes' families could get to London, stay in London and hang out together at the P&G Family Home.

Thank you to Becca (H&K) and P&G for the invitation, and for paying for my travel expenses to this awesome event. NB: I rarely use the word awesome, but, hey, IT'S THE OLYMPICS.



20 July 2012

Billy Bares All at Butlins

Put it away, Billy Bear.


16 July 2012

Jesus Christ

Are you watching the Jesuses?

The Good Lord (Andrew Lloyd Webber) is searching for superstar, Jesus Christ Superstar.

Last night was the first live show. Great, I thought. That's my weekly hour of television sorted. Then I found out that it's on EVERY NIGHT. I guess I'd better get used to the television being on every night, what with the Olympics just around the corner.

I miss Graham Norton as host. Graham wouldn't look as uncomfortable in his outfit as Amanda Holden did last night. Also he would have made more jokes. All Amanda could manage was to call the youngest competitor Baby Jesus.

The panel were pretty good value. Andrew knows his stuff, and wears natty shirts. Dawn French drooled lasciviously over the talent and made the younger contestants squirm with embarrassment. The Poundland Gary Barlow, Jason Donovan, was constructive and positive. My favourite was my mate, Melanie C. She will play Mary Magdalene opposite Jesus, so she has a vested interest in the winner. She made some great comments.

I was super impressed with the singing ability of the Jesuses. Jesuses. What a mouthful. Perhaps it should be Jesii?

My own personal Jesus from last night? Well, it's a toss up between Roger and Tim.

My bottom two? Probably, David and Afnan. I don't know how to love them.

I wonder how each Jesus is going to be eliminated? The Josephs lost their coats and the Dorothys lost their shoes. Surely ITV aren't going to crucify the losers? I'm looking forward to tonight already.

All joking aside, would anyone like to go with me to see Jesus Christ Superstar at The O2 in London? I don't think I could persuade my husband to go. The amazing Tim Minchin is in it. Let's gloss over the fact that the ghastly Chris Moyles is in it. I shall close my ears and eyes for his bits. Who's with me?



13 July 2012

Farm Animal Cake Toppers

If you're looking for a brilliant hand-made gift for your child's teacher, then farm animal cupcakes may be for you. You get to unleash your creative side and your child can also take pride in their handiwork.

You will need:

Renshaw Cool Coloured Sugardough
Renshaw Funky Flavoured Sugardough
Black sugardough
White sugardough
Cakes, iced with buttercream or white sugardough
Baby wipes or damp kitchen roll to clean your hands before changing colours

You may need:

Water and a clean paintbrush (to stick the different parts together)
Icing sugar (if the sugardough gets too sticky)
Plastic rolling pins (I borrowed the ones we use for playdough. Of course I washed them first)
Plastic modelling tools (I have a set of double-ended modelling tools, but you can use anything that will make a shape in the sugardough)
Black cake decorating pen (not essential, you can make pupils with black sugardough)
Cupcake boxes

Top tip:
To make a work surface, cover a table mat with greaseproof paper. Use tape to attach the paper at the back. Now you have a smooth surface to work on. If you cover a few mats before you start you will always have a clean area to work on.


Each animal is mostly made from simple rounded or flat shapes. Show you child one step at a time what to do. You can either make the whole animal and then help them. Or you can work together.
To make lighter colours you can mix sugardoughs together. For example, brown and white to make light brown.
Choose the best farm animals to use as cake toppers. One cupcake in a box and a hand made thank you card should be enough to let your child's teacher(s) know they are appreciated. All without breaking the bank.

I'm going to make these farm animal cake toppers for the boys' birthday party, to give the children on their cupcakes when they go home. The party is at a local open farm, so this will continue the theme perfectly. It also means the cupcakes can be made in advance and boxed up - no need for cake cutting and soggy cake-filled napkins on the day.

Our verdict on the Renshaw Sugardough:
It handles much better than I expected. I didn't need to use icing sugar at all. It's a quality product. The pink in particular smells amazing. The lemon tastes very good, but I wasn't keen on the chocolate - this was also the most dry of the sugardoughs (this is not uncommon, it just took a little extra moulding).

We were given two packets of Renshaw Sugardough to review. Available at Lakeland, Cool Coloured Sugardough (red, yellow, green and blue) is £3.29 and Funky Flavoured Sugardough (chunky chocolate, orange pip, lemon sherbert and strawberry tart) is £2.49. 


My farm:

Sheep by me:

Sheep by Cash, aged 3:

Sheep by Presley, aged 4:

Cash's farm:

Presley's farm:

Cash's rabbit:



11 July 2012

P&G Raising Olympians

We haven't got a basketball hoop in our garden, so Presley and Cash have improvised. Here in this tiny moment of play the boys and I went through many emotions; elation and pride when the ball landed in my washing line, jealousy and frustration when it didn't.

Most of all I applauded effort and good sportsmanship. My boys are super-competitive with each other, so it was an achievement for them to take turns and encourage each other. They persevered and kept going and got better and better. I guess it's the same with all sports.

Since I've become a mother, I watch medal ceremonies as a mother. I always think about the athlete's parents and try to imagine how proud they must be. I am always moved to tears. I sometimes wonder whether my children will achieve this level of success. Chances are they will not, Olympians are pretty rare. I want my children to love sport. I'd like them to be good at sport. Above all I want them to be happy.

I love this video from Mrs Hoy, Chris's mum:

There are more of these wonderful videos on P&G's YouTube page.

Here is a sneak peek at the advert P&G will show during the opening ceremony at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Be warned. It made me sob.

P&G sent me a goody bag, including a Sony Bloggie Touch camera, to introduce the Raising an Olympian campaign. I was under no obligation to blog about the campaign, but this post was inspired by it.

I am also linking up with Britmums and their #PGRaisingOlympians Celebrate Their Success linky to try to win a spa day.



10 July 2012

The Evolution of Language

I saw this yesterday. Being a pendant with an iPhone and a social media presence, I took a photograph and shared it on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. There was outrage in the comments, even calls for a sacking at Sainsbury's. I wouldn't go that far, but there does seem to be a decline in the quality of written English.

Let's ignore txtspk (and hope it goes away). I can understand the need to abbreviate when you have limited characters to play with, or you are learning shorthand (If u cn rd ths msg u cld bkm a...), but when you have unlimited characters there's no need to shorten anything.

My English isn't perfect, clearly. This is a blog, however, and I write as I speak. I use my blogging voice to convey my message. Sometimes I start sentences with 'and' or 'but'. I must be part of the decline.

Perhaps this is not the end of days though, perhaps it is evolution. Language has evolved slowly, over hundreds of years. When I was at school I was taught to use 'an' in front of words beginning with the letter H. I was also taught to capitalise the names of the seasons. This is no longer required, apparently.

I guess with the explosion of communication that the internet brings there is very little proof-reading. Some people really need to self-edit, but that's another blog post. Like a stream trying to carve a straight line to the ocean, so complicated grammatical rules are abandoned in favour of getting a message across.

Does it matter how we write so long as we are understood? I'd like to agree, but I can't. I'm with Lynne Truss. I just searched Amazon for her book on the zero tolerance approach to punctuation, 'Eats, Shoot and Leaves' and saw that the people working there are confused about where to put the comma.

This book is fantastic if you want to know why the sign should say Greengrocer's Apples, not Greengrocers Apple's.

The top five most common crimes against grammar:
  1. Confusing your with you're
  2. Confusing there, their and they're
  3. The plural of mum is mums, not mum's
  4. Using should of instead of should have
  5. Not using a capital I. I'm looking directly at you, CBeebies. It should be 'I Can Cook', not 'i can cook'.

What would you add, or do you think it really doesn't matter?


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4 July 2012

Dreams Come True at Gulliver's

There was a party at Gulliver's theme park in Milton Keynes last weekend. They threw the party for their chosen charity, Dreams Come True.

Dreams Come True works with terminally and seriously ill children, aged between 2 and 21, across the country. Last weekend all children on the waiting list with Dreams Come True were invited to Gulliver's, along with their families, for a Dream Weekend event. Local businesses supplied hotel rooms and refreshments, and Gulliver's supplied a fun day. There was music, dancing, fluffy characters and cake, and the odd celebrity thrown in for good measure.

This charity aims to bring joy to children by making their dream come true, however big or small. They have arranged for children to meet Lewis Hamilton, work on a fashion magazine, meet a husky, swim with dolphins, and experience zero gravity. So far they have brought joy to 5,000 families. They also provide equipment to make everyday lives better. Gulliver's have raised money in the past for sensory equipment for a little boy called Jake.

When my late brother was ill, he was given a VIP day at Manchester United Football Club (by the company he worked for). He looked forward to it for weeks and it was a huge deal for him. He wore his signed shirt all the time afterwards. A word to the wise footballers: please only sign shirts with indelible pens. Mum washed Pete's shirt, and the signatures disappeared. Thanks, Sandy.

We thoroughly enjoyed Gulliver's. It's suitable for all ages. My three year old could go on all rides, accompanied by an adult, apart from the big roller-coaster. My four year old went on that four times. My heart was in my mouth watching him. Luckily I have a slipped disc and could only go on the big wheel and the train. Shame, that. I am soooo not a thrill-seeker. I am, however, perfectly happy to hold the coats.

We spent five hours at Gulliver's and didn't manage to go on everything. This wasn't because of the queues - there were none - but because there is so much to do. We will definitely go back and may take the boys (and their friends) for their birthday party.

A particular highlight was the free Zingzillas show in the Main Street Theatre. Yes, the Zingzillas are performing at Gulliver's. If that's not a reason to go, I don't know what is.

For more information about Dreams Come True please visit www.dctc.org.uk.

We were given free entry to Gulliver's in return for coverage of the event. I made a donation to Dreams Come True in return.

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