Nacoa, doing great work for kids with alcoholic parents

nacoa

Choosing which charities you support is often daunting, in recent years we’ve involved the children to help choose which charities will benefit from what little we can afford to donate. Nacoa aren’t a large or glamorous charity, they don’t benefit from a dedicated PR team that can do blogger outreach but Nacoa do very important work and they’re a charity I’m happy to support. View Full Post

When did you last really properly just listen to music?

King Crimson’s In the Court of the Crimson King

I love music. Properly love it. I’ve always had a wide and varied interest in different genres of music, as you may have read about already. I’ve been itching to get on the vinyl revival that’s been going on for a few years now but the cost has put me off. I don’t think splashing out £100 on an all in one turntable would make economic sense, so that brings us to separates. I’d want some upgrade path so I’d be looking at a couple of hundred pounds for a decent but budget amp (Pioneer or Marantz) and probably as much again for a turntable. So that’s £500 before I start looking at speakers and cabling, which is too much for a hobby purchase when we’ve got three children and a cat. My Amazon wishlist of HiFi parts is so old, the manufacturers have stopped making half the things on it. View Full Post

Wax on, wax off, starting out with karate

When the boy was four or five, I signed him up to karate lessons at a local school. They were after school on a Thursday and were an unmitigated disaster. We went for a month or so of Thursdays and all the boy did was cling to my leg for half an hour. He tried all the moves out at home but wouldn’t join in while we were there. At the time I thought it was a terrible waste of potential as he had such good coordination and core strength compared to every single other child there. Bless the karate school for not charging us for the lessons, they said they couldn’t in all honesty take the money from us for what we got out of it.

Fast forward 5 years and the boy is now back on the karate thing. On Sunday he had his blue belt grading, which went well, imbuing him with a bit more confidence. I suspected that he would find karate easy because it plays to his strengths; he has exceptional pattern recall abilities (he uses this to coast his way through his drumming and guitar), good core strength and very very good coordination.

All the skills he brings to karate mean I probably won’t have to get him to wash the car or paint the fence, which is a shame!

Parents evening

Last night was parents evening and whilst it offered three very different meetings to discuss three very different children, what shone through was a united desire to make us proud of their efforts.

Whether it was the boy and his unbelievably (high) Gothic take on writing an imagined diary for Lady Macbeth, or Fifi’s determination to show us every “well done!” written in all her books (for the record this is the 5th year on the trot that her teacher has told us she is a joy to teach and genuinely delightful), or Ned’s pride at how his handwriting is developing, it did show that they’re all engaged enough in the education system to want our approval. With that as motivation, all the drudge of not wanting to go to school gets put in to a little context I suppose. View Full Post

Holi Festival of Colours with Kingfisher

The festival of Holi is upon us! As part of ensuring our kids have a rounded world view, we tend to discuss big festivals from outside the Christian realm, and this year we decided to give Holi a look. Kingfisher, the premium Indian lager offered us the opportunity to have a closer look at Holi from the comfort of our own home.

The festival signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring, end of winter, and for many a festive day to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and repair broken relationships. Holi is also know as the festival of colour for a very good reason. Part of the two day festival, called Rangwali Holi involves covering anyone that moves with colourful paints. This was the part of the lesson the kids were interested in:

We found out there are such things a special Holi coloured dry paints, and after covering the kids in old vests and shirts, we made sure they had an experience to remember.

Kingfisher have also teamed up with Urban Rajah to come up with a top Holi feast, which is also part of the festival. The one thing we’ve learnt looking at different cultures festivals is how important the part that food plays in it all actually is.

I’ve put Kingfisher’s picture up because my attempts didn’t look anywhere near as appetising but they tasted good!

The special inks washed out of the kids and the clothes (and the cat didn’t tread them absolutely everywhere), so there is little in the way of a physical reminder of our celebration but it is something that the kids will remember for a long time and has opened them up to another culture, which in these times of more inward focusing introspection as a nation, can only be a good thing!

Incessant musical indoctrination DOES work!

The eldest has been learning the guitar for a little over a term now. The waiting list for classical guitar was enormous but the teachers at the music school were falling over themselves to teach someone electric guitar, so his wait was minimal if not quite nonexistent.

At Christmas his grandparents kindly bought him a 3/4 sized guitar as my full size (and mostly unused) one was a little too wide in the neck department for him. He started off learning how to read guitar tab and then moved on to learning a few riffs. The addition of the 3/4 sized guitar was a revelation for me, as I was able to manage the main riff from 7 Nation Army without moving any fingers myself! View Full Post

Nozstock The Hidden Valley 2017 Festival announcements

If you were to search Nozstock on my blog, you’d find some brilliant stuff. Like this or this or maybe even this picture:

Nozstock is a boutique festival, which in practical terms makes it much more family friendly- as some of the reviews out there say, it feels like you’ve been invited along to a private party, it’s properly intimate and you don’t get ripped off with the food.

Nozstock 2017, 21-23 July, is shaping up to be one of the best yet with some great acts already announced like Seasick Steve, Happy Mondays, General Levy, Ocean Wisdom, Mungo’s Hi-Fi, Beans on Toast, Rodney P & Skitz, The Correspondents, Dabbla Illaman and DJ Frosty, Land of The Giants, Stiff Joints, and Chainska Brassika

But if you want an idea about what to expect, have a watch of this:

Review: Honda Civic Tourer 1.6 DTEC

I’ve had my Civic Tourer three months now, so when I read this review in the Guardian was a highly entertaining read! The Guardian is, in my humble opinion, almost completely wrong in it’s assessment of the car. Although I’m writing a review of the Civic Tourer, I’d like to make it clear that this isn’t facilitated in any way by Honda, they’re involvement only went as far as building the thing.

Our old family car was given a few months to live. It was a 53 plate 1.6 Vauxhall Zafira that we bought with 31,000 miles on the clock, added a further 67,000 miles to and were told that the crankshaft needed replacing, which given the age of the car, probably wasn’t worthwhile. View Full Post

It’s time to reclaim World Book Day

Not great for dressing up inspiration

Sitting next to me on my desk is a multi-coloured fluffy monstrosity. It’s in a bag fortunately, for if it wasn’t I fear my both my sight and sanity. It is Fifi’s reward for reading an entire chapter book over half term. We love reading and try to encourage our kids to grow their love of it by bribery.

And yet as World Book Day approaches, my Twitter timeline is full of retailers hawking Disney Princess costumes, Darth Vader suits and comic book superhero costumes for the inevitable “school dressing up day” that seems to be what World Book Day has become. View Full Post

Vegetable avoidance tactics taken to another level

The eldest doesn’t like vegetables. He’s happy to eat fruit, and there are some veggies he’ll scoff but some are completely off his dietary agenda as far as he’s concerned.

This is odd as he loves Italian food, particularly pasta with a nice tomato and beef sauce. He will eat around any pieces of tomato and diligently manage to leave all the onion and pepper on the side of his plate though. That takes some effort View Full Post

Review: Dirk Gently’s Detective Agency, a Netflix Original

While the kids have been enjoying the Netflix original Middle School, I’ve been working my way through another Netflix Original (in association with BBC America), Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.

On the face of it Dirk Gently’s should be terrible. The Douglas Adams books are ace, the BBC adaptation with Stephen Mangan was good, if not stellar, keeping within a 100 miles or so of the source material but shifting the whole thing to America, introducing loads of other characters, a CIA undercover programme and my fourth favourite Hobbit, Elijah Wood, as the new sidekick, takes it a million miles away from the books and should be a recipe for disaster. View Full Post