Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Feeling Tyred ...



As part of the eternal quest to find something entertaining to fill the school summer holidays, you might be forgiven for thinking I have taken leave of my senses, ignored all pertinent health and safety guidelines and introduced the offspring to the local scrapyard as their new playground. 

I haven't.

Instead we went to visit the latest art installation/ exhibition at The Calder, part of The Hepworth, Wakefield. YARD 1961/2014 is the work of American artist Allan Kaprow and until August 31, The Calder is hosting the first re-invention of the iconic YARD environment in the UK. Public participation is absolutely encouraged and visitors are invited to involve themselves by climbing on, through and in piles and piles, and piles, of tyres. After having read and signed the safety guidelines of course, obviously.

The Boy and The Tween had enormous fun building a tyre igloo and a tunnel as well as climbing, clambering and generally cavorting through, on and over the tyres ...








The tyres, all of which are proper (locally sourced, though not necessarily from a scrapyard) tyres, are all are proper grubby too so if you're thinking of exploring this iconic piece of the 1961 New York art scene, I'd take a damp flannel and some old clothes.






Allan Kaprow's YARD 1961-2014 is at The Calder, Wakefield, until August 31st. Admission is free.



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....



*sniggers*

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.
*Sigh.*



*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.

*Sighs*  
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