Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Top Ten: The Best of Children's TV, 1995 - 2014

I've seen a lot of young children's TV over the past 18 years, and I mean a lot. When you have twins five years before having the next child and then wait another five before the last of the brood, you end up in a pre-school TV time loop that, through programmes that come and go, seems to go on forever.

Now The TeenTwins are 18, The Tween 12 and The Boy, eight, we have put away childish TV things and moved on but the memories stubbornly linger on. And not just for me, TeenTwin1 quakes with horror at Rosie and Jim. Still.

I know this because, in a fit of family summer unity, we threw ourselves into reliving the highs and the lows of children's TV over the past 18 years and came up with our very own best of children's programmes that we all remember. So, in no particular order.....

The Best of Children's TV 1995-2014

1: Thomas the Tank Engine.
Who doesn't love Thomas the Tank Engine? The TeenTwins did, The Tween did even more and The Boy, with access to an entire shelf of Thomas the Tank Engine videos and DVDs spanning 11 years, couldn't help but be enamoured either. We all prefer the Ringo Starr voice-over era though, because we're rock and roll like that.

2: 64 Zoo Lane.
For the theme tune. Sheer ear-worming genius... *sings* 

3: Come Outside.
A middle-aged woman, a dog and a spotty plane. What's not to like? Come Outside was thoroughly educational, I learned how pencils were made for one thing. Though the children were probably eating their own socks at the time.

4: Pingu.
None of us understood it. But none of us cared. It's also mostly down to Pingu that The Boy has 12 cuddly penguins and a real one, adopted through the World Wildlife Fund.

5: The Teletubbies.
The Teletubbies were the first TV phenomenon we were ever caught up in .The cuddly equivalent of the characters were the present to give at Christmas when the TeenTwins were small, and the fight to get one sometimes got literal in the aisles of Asda. Though Grandma did eventually emerge, relatively unscathed, with a Dipsy and a Po.
We made Tubby Toast, we ate pink custard, we called the vacuum the NooNoo (we still do) and said Eh Ho a lot (we still do). We loved The Teletubbies (We still do, though TeenTwin2 totally blamesTinky Winky for the number of Gay Best Friends she has).

6: Ben and Holly.
Regardless of the fact that Ben and Holly didn't hit our screens until 2009 when The Boy was three and the TeenTwins 15, Ben and Holly rapidly became one of our favourite must watch children's programmes. In fact, shh, I have been know to sit and watch it with no children in the room, it is that good and one day I hope to survive a jelly flood of my very own.

7: Tikkabilla.
Tikkabilla was basically the Playschool I remembered from when I was young though Brian Cant had been replaced by Justin Fletcher, a fitting and worthy successor (there is no higher accolade that I can bestow, by the way) . It even had the windows *sighs with nostalgia* but it was bigger, better and Hamble had sodded off taking Humpty Dumpty, Big and Little Ted, and Jemima with her. Hurrah. I still have nightmares about Hamble *shudders*

8: The Fimbles.
The Tween when she was small caught The Fimble wave. It was brief and it crashed, probably obscured by The Tweenies success *rolls eyes* But The Fimbles were fun, magical and ever so slightly bonkers, entirely explaining why The Tween is The Tween she is today. *Stares hard at Roly Mo*

9: Pocoyo
There are no words to explain the awesomeness of  Pocoyo. For a brief period of time, when The Boy was small, I did try to find a small blue suit for said Boy so he would be my own little Pocoyo. It's is a blessing, probably, that I never did. But, still, Pocoyo....


10: Fireman Sam.
Despite the first series finishing before the TeenTwins were born and the newer, supposedly, improved* Fireman Sam not reappearing until 4 years after the birth of the Tween, the lovable hero next door was much adored by all.
And while I was constantly appalled that no one thought to give the crime wave that was Norman Price a serious talking to, I still wave at passing fire engines in excitement....until I remember all the children are in school and I'm stood in a street all on my own waving at random men in uniform.

*Not improved, we much preferred the original version.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Surviving The School Summer Holidays, An Essential Guide.

Spending a whole six weeks with the same group of people is a challenge and it's even worse when you've given birth to those people, because you have no one else to blame but yourself. So when the school holidays hove into view you should prepare yourself with some essentials to aid survival...

1: Gin
Lots and lots and lots of gin. For you, not for them.

2: Wine
Because it's frowned upon to drink gin before teatime but perfectly permissible to glug down a bottle of wine for lunch.

3: Earplugs.
To drown out their incessant moaning about being bored and having nothing to do, despite their possessing the equivalent of three toy shops and an electronics store.

4: A List of Chores
So you can give them something to do when they're moaning about being bored and having nothing to do. It's remarkable how soon they will find something to entertain themselves with if you say the bathroom tiles could do with a wipe down.

5: A List of Fun Family Activities.
That they will refuse to do, take part in or enjoy, but at least you'll feel like you made an effort.

6: Doting Grandparents.
So you can dump them with them in the sure knowledge they will never tell anyone what absolute horrors you've given birth to.

7: A Profanity Filter.
Because you don't  *bleep* want them learning more new words in the *bleep* summer than they did in the entire *bleep* school year.

8: Throat Sweets.
For when you've bleeped yourself hoarse.

9: The Patience of a Saint.

10: Tissues
Lots and lots of tissues, because there will be tears. Probably yours. (see all the above)

Good luck.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Sock Horror ...

Socks are the very bane of my life. The Boy's socks more than anyone else's.

The Tween, in secondary school,  is trussed daily into 40 denier black tights regardless of the weather. The TeenTwins, having left school, barely get out of their onesies long enough to trouble the sock drawer, but The Boy wears socks every day. He needs socks and I need them to be in pairs. And they are never in pairs.

I don't know whether the washing machine eats them or The Boy eats them, but his collection of socks has grown ever singular. At the last count, there was 17 solo socks in his sock drawer. Seventeen. Seven. Teen.

Socks of the singular variety
It was then I had a brainwave.

My thought processes ran thus: If I buy lots of socks of the same pattern, there will always be a pair of matching socks. So I did. I bought lots of black socks and then I bought some patterned socks, three packs of the same patterned socks and proceeded to feel quite smug.

Socks of smugness

What could possibly go wrong? 

I'll tell what can go wrong. There may always a pair of socks to hand of a morning, but because there are many, many pairs of the same socks it's hard to tell if the socks The Boy has on one day are different socks from the socks he had on the day before.

But it was only, while excavating a small mountain of Lego and penguins, I discovered the full horror of my sock strategy. I unearthed a small hoard of socks, all matching and in pairs admittedly, but far too clean to have gone through the daily rigours of The Boy's life.

I looked at The Boy's grubby sock clad feet, I looked at the hoard of perfectly clean, unworn, unsullied socks. I looked at The Boy's feet again. I looked at The Boy.

Five days he'd gone in the same pair of socks. FIVE DAYS. He was even proud about it.

Tomorrow I'm buying more socks, in many, many colours.


Saturday, 28 June 2014

The School Trip

 I have, this week, been on a school trip. I know, I know. I really should know better by now but The Boy used all his wiles from telling the teacher I was volunteering anyway, to threatening to fall into a pond and drown if I didn't.

This was no idle threat for the Class 3 trip was to a local RSPB nature reserve where there would be pond-dipping. I had to look up what pond-dipping was. It isn't, sadly, dipping a bottle of wine into a pond to cool during a romantic country picnic.

No. Pond-dipping is netting the pond life out of a pond, looking at the pond life and then throwing the pond life back in said pond while learning what a fascinating plethora of ugly, horrible, skin-crawl-inducing creatures inhabit our waters. Highly educational indeed. I learned, for example, never, ever to anywhere near a pond again. *Shudders*

The trip proved to be even more educational than that though...

Things I Did Learn On The School Trip.

1: Daddies can go on school trips.
Something that has never happened on any school trip, as pupil or parent, I've ever been on, until this school trip. I like it. It should be encouraged. I will certainly be encouraging The Man to put his name down the next time the opportunity crops up. I'm even going to get a pair of earplugs ... "YOU THINK I SHOULD DO WHAT?... and a wall to hide behind when I do though.

2: Health and Safety regulations are ridiculous.
When 30 seven and eight year olds want to go into a playground and can't, because there hasn't been a risk assessment? That is a health and safety hazard. Just saying.

3: Fizzy drinks can kill
Me, of shame. My packed lunch included a bottle of orange Lucozade. An item that is entirely necessary for a 49 year old woman on a school trip, on a hot day, when there's neither gin nor wine available. I got it out of my bag and a myriad children shrieked: "Miss, Miss SHE'S got fizzy pop. " I could have unveiled a Kalishnikov and got a more positive reaction. I put my Lucozade away.
Turns out there was tea. Didn't get any of that either. (See below)

4: Frogs are really teeny, teeny tiny when they're little. They also don't care where they hop. *Scrapes small frog off sole of shoe*

5: If you put a big stick in a field with a child, that child will find the big stick and hit things with it. But if you put four big sticks in a field with 15 children, somebody will get hurt.

6: YOU SHOULD NEVER FEED BREAD TO DUCKS... I knew this already, but it bears repeating.

7: Swans are cool.

8: Some people shouldn't be allowed near a school trip.
I might have thought, before the school trip, that that should have been me but rather surprisingly it turned out to be the people leading the school trip.
Our guides, supplied by the RSPB nature reserve for our visit, were intolerant, impatient, harrying and hectoring.
"Do this. Do that. Do it now. YOU'RE NOT DOING IT QUICK ENOUGH !"
Like the soundtrack to a bad German porn movie with extra added rudeness, they were very, very 1970s. They reminded me of Mr Smith, my old school's swimming teacher, but at least Mr Smith was fair: he hated all his pupils with a passion yet had the decency to despise his pupils for nearly a term before booting them into the shallow end and bruising their hip bones. (see below) 
Our RSPB Nature Reserve guides didn't have the time to get to know the individual members of Class 3 at all, but apparently despised them all regardless of personality, ability or attitude anyway. Which was nice.

9: I used to work with my son's teacher's father when my son's teacher was a child. This makes me feel really, really old 

10: I don't like sick buckets.

See below 1: I feel it is incumbent on me to say The Boy does not drink fizzy drinks, never has though maybe he will eventually.We don't keep bottles of fizzy drink in the house either, mainly because they take up valuable fridge room that could be used to chill wine.
He's never been to a McDonalds either. #justsaying
*Quaffs Lucozade* 

See below 2: Not* that I'm bitter or traumatised or anything. *I am

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