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12 October 2019

Swish, Swoosh, Splosh!

Hello!

Last week I shared a few activities that are available in Southampton for young children at my favorite places, City Art Gallery and my Local libraries this Autumn. Today we went to the City Art Gallery to watch 'Swish, swoosh, Splosh!' that I mentioned in that post! 



I am so happy that we went! The day was not inviting at all, as it was really raining,  so it was so much inviting to stay in and just slumber around... However, it is not always that we have an aooportunity to go for free to the theatre, so we gathered the wellies our umbrellas and adventured outside and off we went, to the City Art Gallery! And I am so glad we did! This show was really educational activity besides entertaining. It ticked all the things it advertised it would do, plenty of interaction, makaton, multi sensory play and it really taught the children about the dangers of plastic to the ocean life.

Unfortunately, I was not able to take many pictures of the event, firstly because there were loads of children there... and secondly because my children were inquisitive and  asking for my attention... Still, I was able to get some quick shots:




The decoration was simple but effective, there was not doubt that it represented the sea! Both Kidos quickly made the connection, and were able to follow the story and all that was happening. The was a clear connection of colours used in the set, although subtle. All plastic and human things were orange, while the rest was mostly blue and green. Even the actors when portraying human roles where using the black t-shirts with human splashed in orange... When portraying the animals, not only they were using the puppets as they would dress up in blue and green outfits.

The event started by offering the children little paper fishes for them to colour, that would later on be part of the set:



This was an excellent activity to start the show, as it engaged us, the audience as part of the show preparation!

The story was really simple, the main characters were Olive the turtle, Blue the sting-ray and Dotty the fish, all puppets and really cute puppets! They all lived in the coral reef and attended the coral community centre for several activities!   These activities were all opportunities for the actors to engage with the audience, there was Bingo!, Zumba, and a Quiz. All the children were eager to answer and participate in everything. 

During the show there was loads of music, and if it was cheerful and happy when the main characters were happy, the tone changed to a little more eerie when any form of plastic made an appearance in the coral. Both my children quickly learned that the animals were in really danger when the plastic was around, the could misunderstand it for other animals, and be trapped in the nets. This story shows all this through the use of the puppets. Olive the turtle got caught in the net left by humans...And only humans could help Olive in the end. Children quickly volunteered to help the turtle, and lift the net! They also helped to clean the ocean off the plastic. The actors also used makaton when telling the story, so I was also to pick up some sign language. 

The story was simple, and I know that my children were understand the dangers of plastic. On the way home they were still talking about it! The event also gave the audience several ideas and activities to do with the children re-using plastic, as making little fishes out of plastic bottles, or kites out of plastic bags.

Overall this was a good event! Hoping that the City Art Gallery will be offering more of these!What about you, how did you spent Saturday?



07 October 2019

My Monday baking: Black Forest Gateau




Hello!

So it is my husband's birthday, and he is reaching a milestone, turning 40! As this is a special birthday to celebrate he had a special request for his birthday cake, a Black Forest gateau... I already attempted to bake a Black Forest two years ago, and found a recipe on BBC Good Food that worked really well.  I went a little overboard now, as this is a 40th birthday I decided that the cake should have more layers, 1 for each decade! So need up with a very tall cake, with four tiers.... The very rest I kept the same, just added more details on the presentation, as my chocolate leaves. I really enjoy experimenting new techniques, and this time around I attempted at drawing with melted chocolate. These were the ones that were a little bit more troublesome for me to make, as it was my very first attempt at moulding chocolate, so I had to wait a bit until I had the right texture to mould and then created the leave shape. Before I did googled how to make chocolate leaves, and found many tutorials available... I didn't quite follow  any specifically, I just took several tips and then made my own leaves. Many tutorials use actual leaves as moulds, and others draw the leaves on paper using forks. Since I didn't have any leaves handy at home, or was feeling like going leaf hunting outside, I decided to free draw my chocolate leaves on aluminium paper, and use the flexibility of the aluminum foil paper to mould the leave, and then just put in on them the fridge... In the end I had these little chocolate leaves:



For me, the the greatest difficulty of the Black Forest is the assembly. You have to prepare before hand the cherry jammy, and the double cream. So, after the cakes are cold, they are layered with double cream and cherry jammy, ending with final spread of chocolate. 

Layering 4 tiers for me was difficult. I was feeling like I would probably  end up with a Pizza tower... So getting the right balance and making sure that the layers were even for me was very tricky. I started by considering my chocolate cake sponges shape, I had two sponges that were uneven, and had to balance the shapes between them. If the bottom cake was little bit higher in the right, I made sure that the second cake layer was a little bit higher on their left side, so they would balance each other. I was lucky, as I had two chocolate sponges that were even, and two chocolate sponges uneven but did balance each other. After layering chocolate sponges, cream and jammy cherry and the chocolate spread I had this little cake tower:



I left it as you can see, as I was enjoying this perfect shapes and the handmade touch. And I was still missing  chocolate leaves and the fruit. The final step was all about decoration. I had some cherries that haven't used in the jammy, strawberries and raspberries to use in the cake.
To attach the chocolate leaves to the cake I use the the leftover of my chocolate spread.  




And a final touch of powder sugar and we're done! This picture does show my fears of having a pizza tower for cake... However I did manage to get that fixed! Just added more fruit!
I used a lot of red fruits,  by savouring this chocolate cake and these berries, you enjoy a lovely contrast between the strong chocolate flavour and the red fruits. 


And it's finish, a very yummy Black Forest Gateau ready to go to the birthday celebration!

02 October 2019

Looking for activities for your children to do in Southampton?

I have a few suggestions... I hope you find them useful!

The new academic year has started and alongside so did my search for activities to do with the kidos. Not everyday we have free activities available as #RailOpenDay... ! 
I am always looking for different activities for my children to do, as diverse and nearby as possible! And.... that don't put a hole in my wallet... With Autumn, even though the splashing on poodles is a favorite pastime for them both, there's a limit to do this and we do have to diversify and find activities to do indoors. Having two kids with different ages, as my oldest will reach 6 this year and my youngest 3, keeping both entertained and busy can be a challenge. And again, I have to be sensible budget wise. It can be expensive to go to enjoy soft play everyday... However, I do have some go to places that can offer activities for heir different needs and preferences, and mostly that are free or not so expensive! One is my very own favorite, my local library!

I have been creating a schedule with weekly offers from my local libraries. I have discovered for a while now that  local libraries were offering 'story times' and 'rhyme times' for the children. 'Rhyme time' is designed for the younger ones, it's basically a singing group for children younger. 'Story time' as the name is indicative, a story is read by a staff member or a volunteer to the children attending the session.  These singing and reading activities are pretty handy when I am feeling uninspired about what to do with my little ones particularly during raining days since they are happening indoors. 

Since the library also has other spaces for reading, drawing and even playing, even if one of the kids is not so much into the session there are other things for them to do. In the meantime  I also can also find some new reads for me! win-win!  
I am sharing this schedule on my post and I hope you can find it helpful:

Library Activities
Do keep in mind that I found these schedules at the Southampton city council website, so if you are using it, do check with your local library beforehand. For my local library they were correct, but I cannot be certain that they are for all libraries. Also, bear in mind that unusual circumstances may force some sessions not to happen.

These sessions are free to attend...., and they are also  great to meet parents with children similar age as your kids. Most people who attend these Rhyme and Story sessions do so regularly, so in no time you can find yourself chatting with other parents.

The city art gallery is my other favourite go to place for activities to do with my children. During the Summer we went there for several artistic activities! That was where the Big drawing event happened too.

This Autumn term the City Art Gallery is  offering every third Saturday of the month the 'Mini Monets' club. This is happening from 11Am to 12PM on the 21st of September, 19th of October, 23rd of November and 21st of December. However, these sessions are not free and you also need to Pre-Book. The 'Mini-Monets' are sessions for children from 2-6 years, where they can explore the gallery and get messy! I am trying to go to these sessions for some time with my youngest. 
Once I am able to attend, I will write on my blog about our experience! These sessions are designed for children to explore, they will be using lots of materials and methods to create art pieces. A plus about this is that I don't have to clean up any mess my kid made afterwards! My youngest is quite keen on experimenting with paints, the  messier he gets the happiest, so  I am expecting these sessions to be perfect for him. I am becoming more reluctant in enabling this messy play at home, mostly because of either the huge amount of cleaning I have to do or the huge amount of control I have to do, to prevent the art play to get out of hand. So, I am really excited to try these sessions with him. I always endeavour to enable his creativity and since I am aware that I am not allowing the paints out as much with him - they are pretty much hiding at the moment - these sessions are a great alternative to enable his 'artistic flair'.   

If your child is older, the City art gallery is offering 'The Young ones' sessions, for children from 7-13 years. They can discover several art techniques as monoprinting, wire working, clay, mixed media and more. These sessions are happening from 10:30Am -12:30PM on the 28th September, 26th October, 16h November, 14th December and 11th January. Dress for mess in either session! These sessions are not free unfortunately, and pre-booking is essential. Find more here.

The City Art Gallery is also offering a one-off event on Saturday, the 12th October, from 11:00AM to 11:45AM: 'Swish, Swoosh, Splosh', theatre for children under 6 years. This event is free to attend, however you need to Pre-Book.  I am quite curious about this theatre experience, and will definitely attend with my youngest. It is advertised a 'playful multi sensory exploration of life underwater and the positive ways in which we can reduce plastic in the ocean'.  I am  quite curious and excited about how this will be materialised as a children theatre play. Find more here

I hope these events helped you and you children! Do you have a favourite go to place to have some fun with your kids? Do let me know!

30 September 2019

#RailOpenDay

This past Saturday, 28th September, we attended the #RailOpenDay at the Northern Line Facilities, in Southampto, find more here. This is part of the rail week events, which are happening all around the UK.  We have to stress how our kidos that are absolutely crazy about trais, so this event was impossible for us to miss. This was actually my partner's idea, he was the one who stumbled upon on the advert for the open day, and signed all of us to attend. This was a brilliant idea really, as both kids absolutely loved it!


I had no idea that the open day would be offering so many activities. We arrived around 14h30, and we stayed there for hours! During the whole afternoon, we were walking around trains, learning more about them, and I have also to say that the staff that was working the Open Day was absolutely friendly and lovely...

One of the activities that we could do was having our names featuring on the trains:


No my name is not there, but as you can see Patricia had her name featuring on the destination for a few minutes! We had our kids name there, as well and they had a laugh when saw it and realised that it was their name showing on the train! "Its my name there", they were screeching with delight, pointing at their name!

The event obiously was all about trains, so there were trains all around and it was impressive to actually see the trains weals up and close! They are massive. However, a key thing is the actual surface of the wheel that touches the train line in the size of a 50p coin... Curious! I had no idea...


We also had the chance to learn more about the innovations that are happening on the locomotives to become more eco-friendly. Siemens is attempting to de-carbonize rail, hence the creation of 'Hydrogen Hero'. There was a small locomotive that the kids could ride on. Unfortunately when our turn arrived they had run out of Hydrogen so we couldn't try it... Maybe next year!


We also had the opportunity to walk under the train, and we where able to see up and close the ins and outs of the train...
Actually, I didn't went under the train, as we had to bring the buggy with with us, so I was the one that volunteered to keep and eye on the buggy. Dad and kids did go, and learned a lot about the train's mechanics!


We Love trains! Even when walking around, under, in, all trains are brilliant, even in photos!


LEGO! This was one of the favorite stops for the kids.There was a small area that had Lego trains, a small lego train line that being used as a prop for for reading measurements of both vibration and the noise caused by trains. The kids did not care much about the readings, just the trains really, though mummy was interested in the different measurements!


The marquee outside was offering a lot of kids friendly activities as well, as face painting and my kids favorite: wood train sets. This was their favorite activity and where in the end we stayed for a very long time, the final stop of our #RailOpenDay!




Overall we had a brilliant time. The suggestion that I would make for the organisers though, is to make these events more mobility friendly. We are still using a buggy for our youngest as I mentioned earlier. He is pretty active, however he still gets tired and very now and then he still asks for a nap after lunch, and the buggy is pretty handy for this. The paths that we were using in this event were not spacious enough for a buggy to pass whilst other people were walking in the opposite direction. I had to stop several times to let people pass by me and the buggy. A nice alternative would be the offering a spot for the buggies to be parked by the organizers... !We would then be able to do many of the activities together instead of having one of us volunteering to keep an eye on the buggy too... Another point is, if walking with a buggy was pretty difficult for me to do,  I won't even imagine how people with mobility issues could circulate easily this event.  Otherwise, we really had a brilliant day! Thank you for this #RailOpenDay! We will do the event next year if possible!

What about you? How was your Saturday?
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