“Stranger Danger” – shall we tell the children?

Stranger2A friend of mine shared this post which offered an insightful and thought-provoking view on why parents should not teach children about “stranger danger,”  It’s a dilemma every parent faces: at what age do you progress from the softly-softly, safety advice given to toddlers and young children to tips on how to stay safe in a wider context with full knowledge of what could happen if you don’t? There’s some good pointers in the post – It’s worth a read.

 

 

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Singing for Pleasure, always!

Have a listen to some of the new recordings from Sing for Pleasure’s Summer School in August 2014.

Some wonderful arrangements from their songbooks as well as the premiere of Oli Tarney’s sublime, Magnificat.  It was a privilege to be one of the soprano voices on these recordings.  

Photo copyright: Sing for Pleasure

Photo copyright: Sing for Pleasure

Photo copyright: Hilary Griffiths

Photo copyright: Hilary Griffiths

From the SfP website:  Recorded excerpts from the first performance of Oliver Tarney’s Magnificat, from Summer School 2014. SfP plans to publish it, record it and make it available for choirs to perform in the future. It is a hugely varied, interesting and approachable piece!

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Time for Tea

AfternoonTea

I came across this great list of some of the most gorgeous tea rooms around the UK. Because I love afternoon tea as a special treat, I thought I’d post it here and share it with my readers. I’m very grateful to (and envious of) whoever’s done the donkey work to compile this list!

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Holiday heaven – Clydey Cottages, Pembrokeshire

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Sheer, luxurious, family-holiday-heaven in a beautiful spot in Pembrokeshire. That’s how I would describe Clydey Cottages. The phrase ‘rural idyll’ was invented for it. We spent a wonderful week there with our two young sons in August 2013 and wished we’d spent two.  They really have thought of everything – dreamy, chocolate-box cottages with every modern comfort you could wish for.

imageViews that would inspire another generation of romantic poets, wandering around fields, staring at blue skies and fluffy, white clouds.  For children they’ve got playtime covered: outdoor play area with sandpit, swings and climbing frame?  Check.  Fancy swinging from the trees in a home-made rubber-tyre, Tarzan-like device?  Check.  Outdoor area with ride-on trikes and bikes?  Check.  Amazing indoor pool and spa area with hot tub and sauna for weary parents? Check.  Games room with table tennis, table football and an indoor soft-play area with Playstation and comfy leather seats and cappuccino machine for the parents? Check.

There’s even a small organic farm and a friendly farmer who’ll happily take the kids with him to feed the animals every morning at 9.30 (my sons were thrilled to bits to be presented with Young Farmer certificates at the end of our stay.) Helpful, friendly staff are on hand (one even hung my washing out for me so we could head off on a day out one morning!)

If I could magic up one final, dreamy ‘plugin’ to this mini-paradise it would be a small café/bistro where we could enjoy hot drinks and light lunches or snacks (to take a break from cooking while on holiday.) Then we’d definitely never leave the place at all while we were there! Yes, it’s pricey, at almost £2,000 a week for a 2-bed self-catering cottage, but as with everything in life I suppose, you get what you pay for. I wasn’t surprised when I read that Clydey Cottages had been voted Number 1 in a survey carried out by the Family Holiday Website “Baby-Friendly Boltholes.” Holiday heaven awaits, for families wanting to ‘get away from it all’ in this gorgeous corner of Pembrokeshire.

Clydey Cottages Pembrokeshire
Penrallt, Lancych, Boncath
Pembrokeshire, SA37 0LW
Wales

T: 01239 698619
E: info@clydeycottages.co.uk

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“Gibraltarians have come into their own” – my article in the New Statesman.

Photo: courtesy Catherine Cleverly

Photo: courtesy Catherine Cleverly

My favourite meal as a child growing up in Gibraltar was “tortilla de patatas” (Spanish, potato omelette) with a dollop of tomato ketchup and baked beans.  As an adult I’m still partial to this curious, Anglo-Spanish, culinary combination, which perfectly encapsulates the hybrid nature of the Gibraltarians.  Fiercely British with a strong, Mediterranean influence, all aspects of life on the Rock of Gibraltar – from the “llanito” mishmash of English and Spanish spoken everywhere to the local traditions and way of life – feel just as curious a mix as that plate of tortilla and baked beans. Continue reading

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Musical legacy

WilliamGomezphotoIt’s amazing how a piece of music can move you to tears, give you goose-bumps. I came across this clip of the stunningly beautiful “Ave Maria” written by the late, Gibraltarian guitarist and composer, William Gomez, conducted by another supremely talented Gibraltarian, conductor Karel Chichon. This was performed by the Latvian soprano, Elina Garanca at the Vienna State Opera House. One talented “llanito” (Gibraltarian) keeping another’s musical legacy alive. Continue reading

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Keep the beat, improve your language skills

Here’s an interesting article I’m reproducing here, courtesy of the BBC.

Moving in time to a steady beat is closely linked to better language skills, a study suggests.

MoveToTheBeat
People who performed better on rhythmic tests also showed enhanced neural responses to speech sounds. The researchers suggest that practising music could improve other skills, particularly speech. In the Journal of Neuroscience, the authors argue that rhythm is an integral part of language. “We know that moving to a steady beat is a fundamental skill not only for music performance but one that has been linked to language skills,” said Nina Kraus, of Northwestern University in Illinois.

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Everyone lost and saved

The four words said it all.  They were on a card stuck to the back of the runner in front of me.  “I am running the Race for Life for…everyone lost and saved.”  There were many similar messages on the backs of the thousands who gathered at Epsom Downs on this gloriously sunny and warm, Sunday morning.  All doing their bit to raise money for Cancer Research so that, as the charity’s slogan said, “we can kick cancer’s butt.”  I was running my first charity race with a group of Mums from my son’s primary school.

Group of St Joseph’s Mums after finishing the race.

We’d been supporting each other with tips and advice on training in the months prior to the race and there we all were on the big day, amid the sea of pink t-shirts, with our numbers proudly displayed on the front and our “speech bubble” cards on the back.  Names of loved ones who’d lost the fight against cancer, names of people still battling the disease, messages of solidarity with all those touched by “the big C” in some way or other.  Messages that showed they were in the thoughts of the 18,000 runners and walkers taking part in Race for Life at Epsom.  There was a lively, carnival atmosphere during the energetic, warm-up in the hour before the race started.  Amid the excited crowds I also spotted the odd, poignant moment of quiet contemplation – a silent, emotional hug here, a clasped hand of support there, countless photos pinned onto t-shirts, that spoke volumes.  We were all there to run the good race in support of a good cause.  As we sped off from the starting line I was surprised at how emotional I felt to be jogging along with all those thousands

Thousands of women and some children running together in support of Cancer Research.
Thousands of women and some children running together in support of Cancer Research.

of women past thousands of supporters who lined the route, hands raised, clapping and cheering us on.  “There lies true empathy,” I thought to myself as I tackled the first of many steep climbs on the five-kilometres course.  At the finishing line, hugs, tears, smiles, laughter, more water bottles and an enormous sense of achievement at having contributed to the efforts of so many in finding a cure for “the Big C.”  I’m sure almost everyone who took part will be back again next year – I know I will.

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