Intempto Large Tube- perfecting the BBQ ambience

Sitting out in the garden on a warm summer evening with the BBQ fired is is a great end to the day, and one that can only be improved upon with some fat choons blasting out of a portable BT speaker. In this instance, in deference to our next door neighbours who have gone on holiday and left the builder laying a patio, with the cement mixer churning until 10 or 11pm on the hottest week of the year, we stuck the Bob the Builder album on loop, Bluetoothing to the Intempo Large Tube from Spotify on a mobile phone. The battery on the Large Tube lasted long enough to drive us mad, so hopefully it did the same to the inconsiderate builder next door. View Full Post

A musical win

I feel like I’m doing this parenting lark right at the moment. On Saturday I had a great conversation with the ten year old about music. He told me the day before he had a conversation with a bunch of girls in his class about what they liked to listen to in terms of music. He said he was disappointed that they all seemed to like rude rap music (I think it’s probably grime, I could be wrong though) and not one of them had even heard of Fleetwood Mac, yet alone listened to Rumours (one of his favourite songs is the Chain), or the Scott Pilgrim Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, or the Eurythmics. He sadly shook his head and told me that they all had rubbish taste in music. View Full Post

The interfering and fiddle with stuff just needs to stop

Co-owning and be responsible for three kids ten and under invariably means you have to let your stands slip in some (many) areas. That’s all well and good, the puddle of wee in the downstairs toilet (we don’t go there, it’s full of fearsome monsters), will in time evaporate if left long enough but it’s when the kids just fiddle with stuff incessantly that things get tricky.

It’s like my daughter and doors. She is pathologically incapable of walking through a doorway without fiddling with position of the door slightly. 10 times out of ten she will touch the handle slightly, causing to door to be less than fully open. More than once a week this invariably leads to Ned running full pelt into the handle and a period of long and protracted sobbing. View Full Post

My imperfectly perfect fathers day with SMA Baby Club

*Advertorial Feature

SMA Baby Club asked me to share my imperfectly perfect Fathers Day and I’m only too happy to do so. With three kid (10, 8 and 5), I get plenty of opportunity to “father”, and plenty of experiences of being on the receiving end of children!

I’m always the one up with the birds. It usually either involves me going to work early, or getting up (twice a week) to corral the three kids into the school run. My weekend lie ins are ruined by taking our eldest to extra lessons on a Saturday morning and dragging all three of the little darlings to their swimming lessons on a Sunday.

The sort of breakfast I’d like for Fathers Day

I never get a lie in, so once a year I have this idealised notion that the morning that Father’s Day dawns, I’ll get to have a nice lie in and and wake up naturally as the sunlight finds its way through the chinks in the curtain and plays gently over my face, the motes of dust dancing in the light. As I stretch and wake up from a long restful slumber, my angelic children present me with a freshly made cup of tea and a still warm bacon sandwich (buttered bread, with sauce, two thirds ketchup, one third brown sauce).

As I sit there munching on bacon sarnies, the kids line up respectfully to tell me how great I am and present me with home made presents and cards they’ve crafted with all the love and care that a doting child can manage. View Full Post

SNES Mini announced

Saddle up people, Nintendo have announced the launch of the SNES Mini. Move over NES Mini, because this is probably my favourite Nintendo console of all time. As you can see the console looks pretty snazzy, but more importantly, the list of games is incredible:

  • Contra III: The Alien Wars™
  • Donkey Kong Country™
  • EarthBound™
  • Final Fantasy III
  • F-ZERO™
  • Kirby™ Super Star
  • Kirby’s Dream Course™
  • The Legend of Zelda™: A Link to the Past™
  • Mega Man® X
  • Secret of Mana
  • Star Fox™
  • Star Fox™ 2
  • Street Fighter® II Turbo: Hyper Fighting
  • Super Castlevania IV™
  • Super Ghouls ’n Ghosts®
  • Super Mario Kart™
  • Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars™
  • Super Mario World™
  • Super Metroid™
  • Super Punch-Out!!™
  •  Yoshi’s Island™

21 games, over a dozen of which are bona fide all time greats, we’ll have to wait until 29 September in Europe for the SNES Mini to launch. My personal favourites are Contra III, SF II Turbo: Hyper Fighting (I have the original in it’s limited edition tin at home somewhere), and Yoshi’s Island.  Here’s hoping it’s as cheap as the NES Mini was.

Further details from the press release that just landed in my inbox are as follows:

Included with the Nintendo Classic Mini: Super Nintendo Entertainment System are one HDMI cable, one USB power cable*, and two wired Super NES Classic Controllers – perfect for players to dive into multiplayer action right away. Some of the games with multiplayer options include Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting, Super Mario Kart, Contra III: The Alien Wars™and Secret of Mana.

Step back into the 90s and re-experience some timeless classics when the Nintendo Classic Mini: Super Nintendo Entertainment System launches in Europe on 29th September.

*Note that an AC adapter for the USB cable is required to play the system but is not included in the packaging.

The Nozstock Festival clock is ticking down

21 t0 23rd July sees the 19th Nozstock festival and we can’t wait. Not only does it herald the end of term, but we’re returning after a heart scare last year (I’m okay, don’t worry!), so it will be extra epic.

As well as the artists already announced, like the headlining Happy Mondays and Seasick Steve, new acts like The Sugarhill Gang, Hayseed Dixie, Levelz, Ferocious Dog, Goldie Lookin’ Chain, The Baghdaddies, Le Galaxie, Freestylers and Benny Page have been announced. If you wonder how epic some of those acts are, this is my last experience of Le Galaxie:

 

It’s funny but one of the things I really like about Nozstock (one of the many actually) is discovering new music. It’s not all about the big bands you’ll hear on the radio or get pointed to on Spotify, if it was I wouldn’t have discovered Le Galaxie, the Computers or the rather niche sub genre of Chap Hop. The boutique feel of the festival is such that just strolling around and discovering new music is great fun.

The Kids Wonderland area is looking good this year too:

Nozstock The Hidden Valley’s Little Wonderland Kid’s Area features a vibrant spectrum of children’s entertainment this summer. The festival embraces a whole family festival experience from beginning to end, and this is a friendly welcoming environment for both parents and little ones alike. All events and activities are free of charge in the Little Wonderland Kid’s Area across the whole weekend, as the festival always strongly believes families shouldn’t foot the bill for festival fun.

There’s even a bottle warming service! Nozstock’s Little Wonderland Kid’s Area this summer includes: Spare Room Arts; Glittery, gluey art boxes; Let’s Go Fly A Kite; Surreal Frames; Marvellous Masks; Wacky sunglasses; Fantastic flip flops; Festival Fashions; Bandhani Tie Dye T Shirts; That’s not a pot! Or is it?; See the world upside down; Freedom of expression table; The Theatre of Endless Possibilities!; Surreal Sculptural Headdresses; face painting; temporary tattoo workshop; Adults & Kiddie Yoga & Meditation; interactive story telling; and Chill Out Corner.

Sitting down and Taking Five with Ned this Father’s Day in support of FFA UKs Take Five campaign

Like kids, financial fraud never takes a day off, so when the little rascals are playing tricks to get their own way, FFA UK is encouraging men across the UK to be on high alert this Father’s Day, as the best fraudsters are known to most likely to take advantage when we have our guard down!
To emphasise how vulnerable men really are to being tricked, FFA UK commissioned bespoke research with One Poll to a sample of 1,000 children aged 6-12 years to show how easily Dads can be tricked by their children.
The top five ways our mini masters manipulate their dads are:                          
  1. Smiling sweetly (41%)
  2. Offering a hug (40%)
  3. Saying please and thank you (35%)
  4. Trying to make Dad laugh (20%)
  5. Saying they’ve done well at school (15%)
It seems in many cases kids aren’t acting alone, with 35% saying they team up with their Mum to trick their Dad. Favourite phrases to reel in Dad include, “Mum said I could” (43%) and “Mum always lets me” (33%) which shows that kids are already savvy enough to play the adults against each other to try and get what they want.
Despite it seeming that many men are a push over, when it comes to financial fraud many believe they are unlikely or highly unlikely to fall victim, despite national figures showing that 31% are caught out each year. Over two-third (67%) of men believe it will never happen to them as they are confident they know what they are doing when it comes to avoiding financial scammers.
FFA UK is asking the public to help protect themselves from financial fraud by remembering some simple advice:
  • Never disclose security details, such as your PIN or full banking password
  • Don’t assume an email, text or phone call is authentic
  • Don’t be rushed – a genuine organisation won’t mind waiting
  • Listen to your instincts – you know if something doesn’t feel right
  • Stay in control – don’t panic and make a decision you’ll regret
Or you could even take Ned’s approach…
For more information visit www.financialfraudaction.org.uk
Twitter: @TakeFive

Xbox One X launch- some thoughts from a parent

Every year there is a big Tech Expo in America called E3. Lots of companies announce cool stuff and this year Microsoft announced a new Xbox; the Xbox One X. This is the third iteration of the Xbox One, behind the original launch model and the Xbox One S, which was a smaller form factor, supported 4K BD playback and had a boost in performance. The Xbox One X is an entirely different kettle of fish though, it has a massive boost in performance and really heralds the start of 4K gaming on consoles.

4K, also known as UHD, is becoming more ubiquitous in television sets. It’s now possible to pick a good (branded) 50 inch 4K telly for around £500, and given a year of two, the older style of HD television will be harder to find in stores. It isn’t all about the resolution though.

If you don’t have a 4K telly, the Xbox One X has several tricks up it’s sleeve to keep you keen. Firstly it’s entirely backwards compatible with the Xbox One and Xbox One S games and peripherals. Remember when you used to upgrade to a new console and had to by all new controllers and add ons? No more. It can also use it’s extra power to make games smoother on a standard HD TV. This is done by upping the frame rate and fixing the resolution at 1080P, something that the PS4 Pro (Sony’s updated version of the PS4) does but given how much more powerful the Xbox One X is (50% more graphical power, 50% more memory), it will be much more of a noticeable step up. View Full Post

Parenting with the Blackberry Keyone

It is an unremarked upon truth of modern life that one of the most important tools in parenting children is actually a  smartphone. And I don’t just mean for those parenting fails of reading twitter when you’re supposed to be watching the class play or Facebooking during sports day, but the important stuff around organising after school activities, play dates, catching that cute photo moment or emailing the school to say a night of projectile vomiting means the eldest won’t be in today.

Blackberry sent me a Blackberry Keyone, their new Android smartphone with all the goodness of Blackberry, including a physical keyboard, to roadtest and I thought it would be an ideal experiment to see if it could replace my existing phone and better it in everything that I use it for. First impressions were good; the leather back was classy, the keyboard harked back to the days when I could type properly on my phone without the predictive text getting overly confused. It’s not the thinnest phone around, instead it bucks the obsession with thin in favour of a focus on usability and longevity which is unusual but nice to see.

With an Android Wear 2.0 smart watch, the Huawei W1, and a Xiaomi smartband bluetoothed to my phone, along with a pair of BT Creative wireless headphones, I’ve got plenty going on when it comes to notifications and battery drain, so seeing how the Blackberry Keyone holds up to it’s claim of all day+ battery life will be interesting. View Full Post

We all need to be inspired once in a while

Sophie was in poetry writing mode yesterday after studying Michael Rosen’s poem “Don’t” in class. Everyone had their own go at writing their own verse but my lovely daughter wanted to go one better and so when she got home, she wrote her whole version, asked me to video it and tweet it to Mr Rosen himself.

Well hats off to you Sophie, well done and here it is: