acepuppets

Archive for the ‘My Stories’ Category


 

castle_in_the_sand_by_qqbin

The sand castle we all attempt to make but fail miserably

Since we have been blessed this year with Mediterranean weather my son has chomped his way through lots of orange ice lollies and built castles in his sandpit. We decided to buy Alistair a sand pit because every time I picked him up from after school club he would be knee-deep in the sand pit.  In fact whenever there was an opportunity to dig or water play equipment was available Alistair would be covered in sand and soaking wet.  My Mum informs me that I used to shovel mud into the kitchen when I was small, so this predisposition to digging  was probably inherited from me.

We decided that the day could be rearranged so that Alistair would be able to come home at normal school time, which meant that he could relax more after school and I would be more organised to listen to him read.  This meant that he would miss playing in the sandpit so I decided to get him a smallish sandpit that is big enough for him to enjoy getting covered in sand and dig to his heart’s content.

The sandpit is under a garden tap so I encouraged Alistair to be sparing when adding water to the sand.  This was a piece of advice he chose to ignore and he turned the tap on so high that he couldn’t turn it off.  After following the screams I found him standing in a sandpit that resembled the beach when the tide came in.  We got as much water out as we could but it was still like sinking sand.  Of course sand this wet was not very good for building with so Alistair’s first play with the new sandpit lasted about ten minutes and it took two weeks for it to dry sufficiently for Alistair to play with it again.

At last the sandpit is dry enough for construction purposes and frantic digging has resumed, everything is covered in sand and my son has learnt how to use the vacuum cleaner.   If you ask a child why they love playing in sand and water they just tell you that it is, ‘fun’.  Sand and water play is actually classified in both the heuristic and imaginative play categories and probably many others too.

Heuristic play is essentially having the ability to play with everyday objects you find around you.  Little children are encouraged to play with pots, pans and wooden spoons while slightly older children can make tents with sheets.  Heuristic and imaginative play tends to merge into one when children are left to their own devices, this is particularly noticeable when playing in a sandpit.  As long as your child is not likely to eat the sand you can step back a little and let them get absorbed into their own adventure.

I suspect that this heat wave will dry the sand out again and the whole water episode will be repeated.

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It is probably just as well that Walney begins with a, ‘W’, because it lends itself to the alliterated nickname, ‘Windy Walney’.  Anyone who has visited this beautiful, gritty island  will remember the wind racing round their heads.  Walney has some of the best beaches in the Furness Peninsula and generations of children have consumed sand in their picnics while trying to build the biggest sandcastles ever.  I remember taking crabs home with the intention of keeping them as my pets but accidentally killed them when putting then in tap water or releasing them on the lawn.  We didn’t notice the wind on Walney during the late 70’s and early 80’s but it was probably still there.

Walney Air Field

To be perfectly truthful I know very little about Walney Air Field and don’t think I have ever been on it.  If you click on the source link on the photo you will access a detailed chronological list of its history dating back from 1928 to the present day.  Imagine if Barrow had continued to boom, the airport could have been extended to be an international airport.  However this has not happened and the runway was maintained by BAE Systems and the Lakes Gliding Club resides there.

Wind Farm

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Source: Chris Cross

Although the view has become a little bit distorted by this army of wind turbines it shows that the famous Walney Wind is capable of producing energy.  Wind turbines use both variable speed drives and programmable logic controllers to ensure that the blades are not damaged by the force of the wind.  Natalie Bennet, leader of the Green Party, has suggested that we scrap Trident and make wind turbines instead.  Apparently there is good business in selling wind turbines around the world.  The wid turbines almost fence Walney in and it looks as if there is a great obstacle before you can sale on the ajitated Irish Sea.

Biggar Bank

Biggar Bank is one of the wonderful beaches on Walney, children can play on miles of golden sand while being over looked by Coniston Old Man.  I remember one summer playing with other children on the beach when a little girl drank my orange juice, I was just about to protest when her elder brother warned me that if I tried to stop her I would be, ‘sorry’.  Needless to say I didn’t try to find out why I would be sorry but have carried the injustice with me ever since.  My son loves going to the beach and playing with other children too – there hasn’t been an orange juice incident yet.

 

Jubilee Bridge

Walney is an island, or more accurately a spit (we loved to offend friends from Walney by telling them they lived on a spit) in the Irish Sea.  Walney is connected to Barrow – in – Furness by a Bascule bridge that rises so that boats can pass through.  Both adults and children find the concept of the road turning into a vertical wall exciting.  However if you were in a rush and the bridge went up I doubt you would be in awe of the technology.  A Bascule bridge uses counter balance to lift each of the sides.  It truly is magnificent watching large boats passing through the gap.

BAE Systems

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Jubilee Bridge between Barrow and Walney. Source: NWEMAIL

You only really understand the significance of the area’s maritime heritage as you leave Walney Island.  The horizon is filled with huge magnolia boat sheds that eclipse the houses around them.  BAE Systems design and build the controversial Trident Submarines and people in the area are really dependent on the contracts in order to work.  Barrow boomed in the 18th century with the steel industry, the railway and the explosion in boat production.  The local industries provided job security for locals and people were able to maintain their close knit communities.

Boom And Bust

The steel industry expired in 1984, which was probably devastating but the area still had the ship yard – or so we thought.  When I was in school the year above us was the last to taken on by Vicker’s Shipbuilding as apprentices  and many workers were laid off.  Teenagers now had to reconsider their future because an apprenticeship was no longer going to provide a life long career.  Experienced workers had to leave the area and unemployment rose.  The knock on effect on local business was devastating and Barrow became a ghost of its former its former self. If you want to find more about the area’s maritime history the Dock Museum is a wonderful place to go.

Again there are so many things to say about this area of Cumbria that you have to stick to the main facts. I haven’t mentioned the caravan parks, playgrounds, the seals and the hidden jewels of Walney Island.  If you are ever up this way – maybe you could find them for yourself.

 


I remember vividly the moment I fell in love with Bugsy Malone.  My brother got the part of Baby Face in a local drama group production of Bugsy Malone.  As a family we were all very proud and obtained a pirated copy of the film.  We wore the old video tape out watching Baby Face say his immortal words, ‘Pass this to Baby Face – Oh I am Baby Face’, and then promptly chase the big guys with a baseball bat. I was more distracted by Scott Baio who played Bugsy Malone and have been in love with him ever since. These are the reasons why I could watch Bugsy Malone a multitude of times.

Bugsy Malone – Synopsis

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Bugsy Malone is a gangster movie set in the 1920/30s when alcohol was banned in America.  Bugsy Malone however has beautiful twist of having a cast entirely made up of children.  The film is based around uber gangster Fat Sam and his cabaret bar, which is a private members club to avoid prosecution.  The main thread of the story is the, sometimes stalled, relationship between boxing promoter Bugsy Malone and club singer Blousey Brown.  Their relationship is hindered by lack of money, starlets like Tallulah (Fat Sam’s girlfriend) and Bugsy’s involvement with gangsters.  Dandy Dan and Fat Sam were mortal enemies who spent the whole film using splurge guns to kill each other with custard.  At the end everyone at the Grand Slam gets splurged and collapse on the floor.  Bugsy Malone and Blousey Brown escape with the cash, Bugsy earned, to follow their American dream.  The rest of the cast slowly rose from the floor singing, ‘You give a little love (we could have been anything we wanted to be)’, and continued throwing custard at each other.

Cast

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Bugsy Malone is a musical so there are plenty of great songs, which incidentally are performed by adults.  Apart from delicious boxing promoter Bugsy Malone and sassy Blousey Brown we also have seductive Tallulah and hapless Fat Sam who reside mainly in the Grand Slam.  We also have Fat Sam’s gang members who all have cool names; Knuckles, Roxy Robinson, Snake Eyes and Louis.  Apparently Michael Jackson was in the film as Razmataz the pianist.  Bugsy Malone enlists the help of Leroy Smith, who he trained to be a boxer, and a group of down and outs he recruited from a soup kitchen to help Fat Sam defeat Dandy Dan.  Baby Face proved to be the most dangerous member of the group despite having a cute name and being small.  In the Grand Slam there is a sparkling cast of dancing girls and singers.  One diva is remembered because she sabotages Blousey Brown’s audition on her return and proceeds to sing high pitched and off key.  When you look at the cast list it is made up of child actors who became very famous adult film stars.

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To top all of the great things I have told you about the film all of the cars were peddle cars that resembled real child size cars and the cast got to drive them.  We all wanted to drive one of those cars.  If you want to have an uplifting afternoon and like food fights you will most definitely like Bugsy Malone.


We are so lucky to live in the Cartmel Peninsula in the North West of England.  The area is populated with beautiful little towns that have their own characters and treasures.

Cartmel

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Source: Visit Cumbria

Cartmel is considered to be one of the best places to live in the country and boasts; a race track, riding stable, Michelin Stared L’enclume,  a magnificent priory and of course the world famous Sticky Toffee Pudding.  There are also many wonderful pubs to eat in, a brewery, artisan bakery and cheese maker and many lovely little shops that sell beautiful gifts.  The town is  protected by the watchful eye of the medieval priory that dates back to 667 AD.  The town successfully embraces the modern world without removing the medieval element of the town.  Chris Evans (BBC 2) describes it as a, ‘Thimble full of diamonds’.  and many more people are continuing to discover the secret that locals already knew – how wonderful Cartmel is.

Cark in Cartmel

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Source: Ian Taylor

Cark is very reminiscent of 1950’s Britain with the river Eea at its core.  It has a railway station, hairdressers, two pubs, artisan bakers, garden centre, access to the estuary, a small business park and of course the pièce de résistance – Holker Hall.  Cark was originally an industrial town built round a watermill that was used in the production of cotton.  The river is much smaller than it used to be but the high tides restores the river to its original height and makes the estuary look like a magical place.  The estuary is a place of scientific interest and school children come from all over the north west to conduct surveys of the river.  Annually scientists come to study the plants and animals in the estuary.

Holker Hall

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Source: Visit Cumbria

Holker Hall is a magnificent stately home with beautiful gardens.  It is owned ny the Cavendish family, who own lots of property and land all over the Cartmel and Furness area.  Houses owned by the Cavendish’s are painted a special blue colour which distinguishes them from privately owned houses. Many events are run at the Hall including the famous Garden Festival.  You can buy local produce from their farm shop, enjoy a high class meal and of course look around the hall itself.

Haverthwaite and Backbarrow

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Source: Steam Railway Lines

Haverthwaite and Backbarrow are separated by the A590 and were possibly Viking settlements.  Haverthwaite is home to the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway which takes you directly to lake Windermere where you can go on a lake cruise, visit the Aquarium of the lakes or enjoy a top notch cream tea at the Lakeside Hotel.  Over the course of the year the railway hold children’s events such as, ‘Thomas Weekend’, and ‘Witches and Wizards’.

Playdale Playgrounds and Lakeland Motor Museum

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Source: Playdale Playgrounds

In Haverthwaite itself Playdale Playgrounds designs and builds playground equipment which is exported all over the world – they have even won awards for exporting.  This timber yard turned playground equipment manufacturer has made play magical for children all over the country.  If you are into cars and yummy food then the Lakeland Motor Museum is the place for you.

Flookburgh

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Source: Sky Dive North West

 

Flookburgh is a small village dominated by the local fishing trade, it is believed that its name originates from the word, ‘Flukes’, a flat fish found in the area.  Some of the houses even advertise that they sell potted shrimps.  The square bustles with a sandwich shop, convenience store, chemist, pub, hairdressers and village hall.  Down a long straight road, known locally as the, Mile Road, you can find Willow Water, the factory where Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding is now produced, Duckys Park Farm,  the Haven Lakeland Holiday Park and Cark Airfield which is home to mega car boot sales, Sky Dive North West and the annual Steam Gathering.

Allithwaite

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Source: Cumbria Wildlife Trust

Allithwaite is a small village between Flookburgh and Grange, it is near to Humphrey Head, which is a limestone outcrop looking out onto Morecambe Bay.  According to folk law, the last wolf in England met a grizzly end after being chased to the end of the cliff with men wielding spears.  There is a street in Allithwaite called Greendales which may or may not be a reference to Postman Pat.  You can enjoy drinks and food in the local pub called The Pheasant and children can enjoy the well maintained playground near to the school.  The church and the school over look the rolling countryside.

Grange Over Sands

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Source: Wordsworth Country

Grange over Sands may have started off as a storage place of grain by the Cartmel monks.  It became a fishing village then a popular Edwardian tourist attraction which boomed during the Victorian era.  Before the River Kent was redirected, Grange was really a beach and ferries operated to jetties leading to the promenade.  The prom is well maintained by volunteers and hosts Prom Art during the summer months.  The railway station is at the end of the prom near to the ornamental gardens.  It has always been traditional to wave at the train going past as you walk along the prom.

Grange Lido

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Source: Bodian

At the far end of the prom is a dilapidated lido that was very popular up until the 80’s where it became difficult to maintain and now looks like a ghost of its former self.  Grange is a cornucopia of gift shops, hardware stores, cafes and pubs.  It is often referred to as, Heaven’s waiting room’, due to the high density of old people’s homes.  However these days there seems to be a resurgence in younger members of the community.  There are a large number of hairdressers and beauty salons in the town and the area in general.  Grange is home to magnificent hotels such as, The Cumbria Grand and the Nether wood.

There are many more wonderful things that I could tell you about my local area but I am at nearly 1000 words already.  You are welcome to come and see for yourself the wonderful Cartmel Peninsula.

 

 


When my son could barely sit up I decided to take him to  Rhythm Time sessions because I had heard that it was good for brain development etc.  As it happened Alistair ended up being the only one in the session so the hour of music and singing was pretty intense and hardcore.  On some occasions tiredness would make playing instruments quite difficult and my son would lie on the floor while we sang around him.  I wasn’t sure how much he had taken in until he was old enough to tell me and show me what he had learnt on his instruments at home.

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Newborn babies recognise music their mother listened to while they were in the womb. children’s music specialist Meredith LeVande of MonkeyMonkeyMusic.com says “More and more studies show a correlation between higher academic achievement with children who are exposed to music,”. This is because “Music simply stimulates parts of the brain that are related to reading, math, and emotional development.”  (Source: sheknows.com).

Singing and playing music is extremely important for children’s all round development while practicing and learning how to play an instrument encourages, focus, concentration, dedication, patience and if they get good at it they can travel all over the world as part of a youth orchestra.  Cbeebies – yes that channel that keeps your toddlers quiet and after a while Mr Bloom and Mister Maker start looking attractive – advocate the benefits of music, singing and making your own instruments.

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Source: Cbeebies

Schools are accommodating natural creativity by installing musical playground equipment so children can create beautiful music at playtime.  Without adult intervention, children will learn how to organise themselves so that they can play successfully as a band.  Children love free creativity and are aware that music does have rhythmic rules that have to be followed so that they produce music rather than noise.

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So next time you hear an almighty crash and terrible noise and your child claims that they are making music then you can comfort yourself with the knowledge that they are increasing their intelligence – honest!

 


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I gave my parents a hard time and they gave their parents a hard time – I can guarantee that I will lock horns with my son as soon as he becomes a teenager.  All I can do at the moment is to give him a good grounding so that he can deal with the emotional coaster of being a teenager.  We bring our children up to be independent and have their own thoughts only to try to stifle the results of our training when they become teenagers.  I think parents are programmed to be stick in the muds and teenagers become bulldozers with the goal of knocking any boundaries down.

Unrequited Love

I am not a parent of a teenager yet but I vaguely remember that being one was quite bitter sweet. Life seemed to be a constant battle between concentrating on my exams and coping with unrequited love.  When you finally get to have a boyfriend you never think you are going to love anyone like that again and you are mortified when it ends. The truth is that you never will because next time that love is diluted a little with wariness and reality.  Like a toddler discovering the world, a teenager is discovering adulthood and everything is in technicolour.

Rebellion

I remember my hormones raging, slamming doors a lot and spending hours in the bath so I could spend time on my own.  I didn’t hang around the streets but had plenty of friends to be a teenager with.  We didn’t try to conform to adulthood but we thought that we had the moral high ground – which was true because we hadn’t had chance to make big mistakes yet to discover our humanity. Some of my friends rebelled in big ways while others pushed the boundaries more subtly. I tended to not tell my parents where I was going and did what I wanted – well as much as my limited finances would allow.

Parents Aren’t That Stupid After All

Being a teenager and a young adult is all about taking risks and causing your parents to be continuously worried about your safety.  If your relationship with your parents is pretty stable the rebellion eventually subsides. Once you discover that they weren’t that bad after all you have your own ideas and combine the both so that you can prepare your own child for rebellion.

Teenage Shelters

The biggest issue with feisty teenagers is that they don’t really have anywhere to go to hang out. This predicament results in them making the street look untidy and getting into trouble. Playdale playgrounds discusses this issue in an article. They have referred to studies that have found a marked reduction in teenage disruption when teenage shelters were installed near recreational areas. Teenage shelters are essentially a collection of seats covered by a roof. This means that teenagers can still have a meeting place, away from boring adults, without getting too wet.

Being a teenager is not always easy and neither is being the parent of one but being part of your child’s next adventure is exciting.


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I admit that I am pretty lazy at the moment and the thought of walking in the cold and rain doesn’t appeal to me what so ever.  Nine years ago I didn’t have any qualms about putting on wet weather gear and walking everywhere. That was until I finally passed my driving test and now I have become so reliant on my car,  walking seems to be so, ‘yesterday’,  in terms of transport.  It would seem that I am not the only lazy so and so in the land because the country as a whole has become more sedentary and we are all sitting on our backsides more.

Since technology has become more interesting and the internet is user friendly we can explore images and talk to people all over the world.  I have even noticed that I know lots about local Facebook friends lives but don’t actually say more than, hello’, to them when I seem them.  I waste more time now devoting myself to rubbish online than I ever did in the past.  My backside is definitely getting bigger and I need to get into my summer clothes this year.

There are many reasons beside having a huge bum as to why we should exercise more and these include:-

  • up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
  • up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes
  • up to a 50% lower risk of colon cancer
  • up to a 20% lower risk of breast cancer
  • a 30% lower risk of early death
  • up to an 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis
  • up to a 68% lower risk of hip fracture
  • a 30% lower risk of falls (among older adults)
  • up to a 30% lower risk of depression
  • up to a 30% lower risk of dementia
  • Source NHS Choices

This information is reinforced by an article by Playdale Playgrounds, ‘How to help your community with a trim trail‘, in it they discuss a study by Oxford university who found that ,‘Forty four per cent admit to not taking part in any moderate exercise meaning that British fitness levels are among the worst in Europe’. This means that nearly five million adults spend the majority of the day sitting down. 10% of adults admitted to not even walking for at least ten minutes a day‘. They also referred to a study by Cambridge University who claimed that sitting down all day was worse for our health than obesity.

As parents it is our responsibility to set a good example to our children, although they seem to pick up our bad habits better than our good ones. (That’s because underneath we are all pretty naughty pretending to be good!). There are some simple ways that we can encourage our children to put down their gadgets and get moving. As the weather gets brighter it will be much easier to go out and reduce the size of our big bums.