The one thing I really struggle to put into the recycling bin, is the toilet roll tubes, I can always think there is SOMETHING we can make with them, whether it’s planting seedlings in them, or making these lovely bird seed feeders. They are so easy to make, and the kids are tickled to be using peanut butter, to spread onto the loo roll tubes, cra-azy eh?!
So simple to do… basically, spread the peanut butter on the toilet roll tube, and sprinkle the bird seeds over the tube, pushing the seeds onto the peanut butter ‘glue’.
We do find some peanut butter a little dry, so – do as you do with toast! – paste a little layer of butter on to the tube before you spread the peanut butter onto the tube.
Then, slip the tube onto a thin branch, preferably in view of the window. We love eating our breakfast and watching the birds eat theirs – we have a favourite chubby blackbird in the garden, will try to get a photo of the bird seed feeder in action!
This week it’s the kids’ turn to write a review… it seemed appropriate – as this one is ALL about them, and we took them on the train to FlipOut in Wandsworth – really easy to walk there from the station, with a group of teenagers, and probably the most popular party destination for SW19 families it would appear! Lots of our friends had recommended it to us, so we were all eager to try it out… this is what they thought, over to Spike…
Last week it was my birthday, and having heard how brilliant FlipOut is from all of my friends I decided that FlipOut was the place to go; it didn’t disappoint, I have been to many other ‘trampoline parks’ but flip out was by far the best.
It has a massive array of things to do such as the bouncy basketball court that was hilarious and we had loads of games on that and challenges like shooting backwards and shooting after a 360, and there was a MASSIVE foam pit that you could flip into, or just jump (that is just as fun) and you could have a race in the foam but because it was so uneven and soft we all ended up sinking. My favourite thing however, was the ‘valley’ trampoline, this was basically two trampolines opposite each other making a ‘v’ shape and you could wall run and bounce from wall to wall.
Another fun thing about FlipOutis that there is loads of space to just bounce from trampoline to trampoline and to play games like tag or stuck in the mud if you are with friends. There are trampolines on the walls at an angle as well so you can bounce literally ‘bounce off the walls’ and there are also SUPER bouncy trampolines that spring you high up into the air. There is a really cool wall with a super bouncy trampoline next to it and kids and grownups compete to see who can get the highest.
The atmosphere at FlipOut is brilliant, there are walls lined with graffiti that makes the place feel really atmospheric. There is also a battered black London cab that serves as a clock because the time is shown in red on one of the blacked out windows. Loud and energetic music also fills the air making it a really enjoyable experience. At the entrance there are two really long trampolines that act like lanes and some really fun trampoline races can take place. If ever you get tired you can just take a short time out for a drink of water and a snack and then bound straight back on.
FlipOut caters very well for all ages because it has a pro zone where pros can back flip and wall run without disturbing any less experienced trampoliners. FlipOut also has a large area which is designated for little children only and it has a mini foam pit. As well as this the pro area can be accessed by anyone as long as they can land a back flip. on top of this there are three super bouncy trampolines in alcoves at the edge of the building so you can jump alone if you feel like it. Also, all under fives have to be accompanied by an adult.
After leaving FlipOut I was really energized and enthused to do some more trampoline activities and come back again because after you leave the weightless world of FlipOut then you are dying to go back again. The time allotted is perfect because you are exhausted after all the bouncing that you feel that you don’t NEED to go on again, even if you want to. overall I really enjoyed the flip out experience and would rate it a 10/10!!
for any extra information visit the FlipOut Facebook page: @FlipOutwandsworth
If delicious food, finding out about other cultures, and a love of peace sound like your perfect evening’s entertainment, book your place at Conflict Café, in the atmospheric tunnels underneath London’s Waterloo Station.
Here chefs including Imad Ghossain (pictured) from Lebanon and Ruby Kughanathan (pictured) from Sri Lanka will delight diners with food from their home countries, helping to show how much we can get to know about others and their countries simply by breaking bread with them and sharing a meal.
Both Imad and Ruby became passionate about food by watching their mothers at their stoves at home as they cooked for the family, and then joining in. They left their countries of origin for a safer life and believe very much in the power of food to help transform attitudes, hence their support for Conflict Café.
This pop-up restaurant is being run by peacebuilding charity International Alert for the third year running from 22
September – 2 October 2016.
Conflict Café was inspired by a tradition that is common to many cultures around the world: coming together and reconciling differences by preparing and sharing meals. Diners will sit at communal tables and enjoy traditional dishes while finding out more about issues facing countries affected by conflict. It’s hoped that strangers will be inspired to talk together and start conversations about building peace through food.
Rebecca Crozier, International Alert’s Head of Emerging Programmes, explains the reasons behind the idea: “Across different cultures and continents, food has the power to bring people together and encourage the act of sharing. In some Middle Eastern countries, it is custom for the perpetrator of a crime to cook a meal for the victim and their family as a way of fixing broken bonds. In Europe, too, we find ways of using food to calm domestic storms, to unite communities and bring neighbourhoods together. She adds: “We hope that Conflict Café will give diners a glimpse into the diverse cuisines and complex histories of some of the countries where we work, highlighting the positive role that food can play in peacebuilding.”
The organisers say that eating a meal may not obviously be changing the world but, if a diner is giving a thought to Lebanon or Sri Lanka in their hurried life, they believe that they are already ahead. The event changes – or creates – that person’s perception of that country. People will not often take three hours to read everything about world events. But if they go out for a great meal and hear someone from that country talk, they will be experiencing human detail from that country. They may tell their friends about it or write on social media and that’s how change can take place.
The initiative kicks off with Conflict Café: Lebanon, a country which ended its civil war just 10 years ago and is now hosting more than one million refugees displaced by the conflict in Syria.
The focus will then shift to the delicious flavours of Sri Lanka where, after nearly 30 years of conflict, more than a generation of Sri Lankans have grown up with no real experience of peace.
Conflict Café is part of the Talking Peace Festival organised by International Alert, a charity established by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and other visionaries 30 years ago in a bid to secure an end to some of the world’s most bitter disputes. Once you’ve eaten you can take a look round the other tunnels in the House of Vans complex. These are housing other parts of the festival including the Create Syria multimedia exhibition.
This shows footage of exiled Syrian artists and cultural figures running workshops in Lebanon with refugee children and young people to help them to overcome their experiences of war.
The whole event is at the House of VANS, Arches 228 – 232 Station Approach Road, London SE1 8SW
So, as you may or may not know – I’ve done my time as a working mama – in the corporate world, away from the kids – with my partner being the full-time Stay at Home Dad (SAHD) – changing the nappies, doing the shopping, doing the cooking – you know, the stuff that usually falls to the Mum in the household – not wanting to be toooooo gender specific!
All that changed about three years ago, when my partner, husband and man of my (working-mama) dreams went and got himself a job that took him away from the home and our house (and all that THAT entailed as a SAHD). He lived in another house, another home, for four out of seven nights, and we had to really rethink our family strategy.
So, I shifted my hours, and became that person who re-heats her coffee in the microwave, and works the ‘night shift’ to fit in all of the mama stuff around my kids – from cooking their meals (and encouraging them to help every other night) to stacking (and unstacking) the dishwasher – lots of these jobs we shared between us (under some duress) however, it really did make me appreciate how Mums (and Dads, obvs.) really are superheroes and their efforts and commitment to the family should be universally appreciated. Being a parent is a full time job, on top of our careers. So this begs the question, what is your ‘mum salary’?
Well, I’ve found a really fun questionnaire* (click here) for you to have a go at playing with… Simply, enter the weekly hours for each of your motherly (or fatherly) duties to find out what your ‘mum salary’ is. (not sure who is going to PAY your mum salary, perhaps we can deduct it from our child’s first pay packet, a sort-of-student-loan? That would work? right?!
Whether you are a stay-at-home mum or dad, or out working each day, the contribution you make to your family is invaluable.
Written in association with *SunLife who have calculated our ‘Mum Salaries’ based on average salaries for a range of different occupations that mums’ and dads’ daily duties are most like.
Community gardener and founder of yourspace.sutton Kevin Plicio runs local community garden nursery Seears Park Nursery in Sutton. This nursery runs on pure volunteer manpower and community spirit, running training courses and therapeutic activities in a calming and peaceful environment. He has been running the beautiful non-profit nursery for almost six years, transforming it from a run-down nursery to a social and stunning community hub which has just recently been opened to the public.
As his daughter, Hannah, I’ve grown up around the transformation of the park, seeing it go from overgrown and slightly wild, to open space and inviting. Perfect for family days out and picnics, the nursery offers scenic and photogenic open areas, free for the public to utilise.
Q- So, tell us about what made you want to run a community project? Well, the idea originally stemmed from me working at other projects, but these projects were all tailored to one specific group of people, or had one specific service, and I wanted to do something more socially integrating and open to all users, regardless of their background, age, or ability.
Q- What is there to see? Honestly, there’s so much! We have this really great pond that’s just teeming with life, frogs, fish, newts, and even in the evening we get the occasional duck family coming to stay – it’s such a sight! We also have vegetable patches, some art display inside the main classroom from a local artist Santiago Plicio, the polytunnels have a great plant selection, including a great cactus area. We’re also in the process of making smaller gardens as part of the garden nursery, where 6 out of the 16 planned are complete. We also have this really stunning willow circle, which is just beautiful.
Q- Tell us about your volunteers, and who helps run the nursery. We have quite a large group of volunteers here at the nursery, and without them, there would be no way that the place could be running. Some people volunteer for a month, and some have been volunteering for years, and we appreciate every bit of help we get. Their generosity and time is something I’m always going to be so grateful for.
Q- You’ve just opened to the public for the first time in almost six years, how does that feel? It feels amazing, we’ve been getting this place ready for the public for so long and now it feels as if our work is finally paid off, and we can do what we’ve always set out to do, create a community project that everyone can benefit for. We’ve been running training courses and school placements for years which is so amazing, but now we can finally make it open to everyone, which was always the plan. We now run a plant sale every Saturday from 10:00am until 4:00pm, and the nursery is otherwise open Monday-Thursday from 9:30 until 5:30.
Q- Got any last words or comments that you want everyone to know? I’d just love to see you there! Bring your friends, family, dogs, come and experience and enjoy the nursery, see what’s here, and if you want to contribute in any way then we’d love to hear from you too!
Seears Park Nursery is open to the public from 9:30am-5:30pm Monday to Thursday, and 10:am-4:00pm on a Saturday for the plant sale and general public use. Follow them on Facebook for events and updates here
Note from Ali – Thank you so much, Hannah, for introducing me to your dad’s amazing community project. Here’s a picture of a pond that my 13-year-old son made, with the addition of the Junctus that he bought from the Nursery!
The mini beast invasion is here! And you’ll love this wonderful FREE downloadable Butterfly Mandala colouring sheet – CLICK HERE to download!
If you like coloring, have a go at downloading this fun template – a colouring sheet with a fabulous repeat pattern of a butterfly, logo courtesy of ethical shoe brand Po-Zu.com
And perfect for a our instagram photo challenge theme this week – #bugsandbutterflies #kidscrafts101 theme with @buggyandbuddy ! Check out co hosts @babbledabbledo@redtedart and @incredibusy for more ideas too!
Find out more about the conservation of butterflies, moths and our environment over on the Butterfly Conservation website – formed by a small group of dedicated naturalists in 1968 following the alarming decline of many beautiful butterflies.
Most British butterflies remain a cause for concern, with three quarters of our native species in decline. Four butterflies and over 60 moths became extinct last century. We aim to halt and reverse these declines. Our vision is of a world rich in butterflies for future generations to enjoy. Butterflies are beautiful and intrinsically valuable. Together with moths, their sensitivity to environmental change makes them valuable indicators of the health of the countryside.
Falling numbers are an early warning to all wildlife that cannot be ignored. We have more than 25,000 members in the UK and 32 volunteer Branches throughout the British Isles. We employ over 50 people including many highly qualified scientists, making us the world’s largest research institute for butterflies and moths.
Anyone who knows me, knows what a massive fan I am of Jennie Maizels…
I became aware of Jennie’s iron-on patches when I was working with Green Baby – so quite a while ago now!
So when I found a love for instagram, I was delighted to catch up with Jennie again and to tell EVERYONE I knew to take a look at her fabulous visual sketchbook holiday diaries.
Recently I have started a weekly instagram photo challenge #sgiew (more on that here)and asked Jennie if she would be a guest judge – we were delighted when she agreed, and I asked her to tell us a bit more about herself and her new #sketchbookclub:
We asked Jennie what had influenced her early days as an artist:
Jennie: I grew up just outside London, my parents are both Artists too, so it was a very creative childhood (we didn’t even have a TV!). Growing up with two artists could not help but inspire me. My parents run the Outsider Art Magazine, Raw Vision
My father is also an art collector, so our house was crammed with sculptures, paintings,
murals and mobiles. I cannot think of a more creative environment. My parents receive
coach loads of visitors who wish to see my father’s amazing Outsider Art collection, so I
feel very privileged to have grown up surrounded by such inspiration!
I am very lucky, I live in heart of the beautiful Hampshire countryside in a village called
“Braishfield’ with thatched cottages and a village pond. It is classically English and we love
it! I have a studio on a remote farm, it’s incredibly peaceful but very hard to find, we have
to string up balloons and signs every time we have a visitor so they can find us.
Primarily I am an illustrator but I also hold online courses and run my small business where we supply my Pop-Up Books, Stationery and Iron/Stick-on Patches to the world…
My studio is crammed full of sketchbooks, paint and of course pencils. I have always had a real love affair with coloured pencils and keep them in colour coordinated tins, I use a
brand called Prismacolor that I have shipped from the States, so I have a vast collection!
Sketchbook Club started as a result of my complete obsession with Sketchbooks.
I keep prolific holiday journals, I find them so absorbing, relaxing and fulfilling, I now can’t
go on holiday without completing one.
I am a complete Instagram addict, I love how it connects people, an instant snapshot of
what people are up to, both creatively and domestically, I find it fascinating. (it also appeals to my nosiness!). Illustration can be quite an isolating profession, so being able to show the world your work in progress is incredibly positive and a great way to gauge future reactions to your published work.
It was through Instagram that Sketchbook began. I was posting images of my holiday
journals and also of the work I was teaching in my Sketchbook Club here in my studio and
was overwhelmed by peoples responses. This lead to an huge demand to hold an online
version, so the Online Sketchbook Club was born.
It’s been absolutely amazing, so fabulous to see the community growing. Each module has a hashtag so people can show/comment/advise etc. on pieces of work. Have a look at the first model #SketchbookclubHouses and you’ll see what I mean.
I actually get quite emotional when I scroll through the feeds, I can’t believe so may people
are taking part!
Sketchbook Club Course two is launching in a few weeks and I can’t wait to see what
people create from it.
I truly believe that given the right tools and guidance, anyone can draw.
It is all about having the fear of the blank page taken away, I never start to illustrate without knowing what I am about to draw, you wouldn’t bake a cake without a recipe, or play the piano without music, so I don’t see the difference. I am just giving people the ‘recipe’ to create something they will be enjoy creating and be hugely proud of.
I have kept sketchbooks since I was a little girl and encouraged my children to do the
same. there is something a little bit magic about them. No pressure (just turn the page and
start over if you are not happy), portable (I never leave home without one) and completely
People who have literally never drawn before, have got involved with my Sketchbook Club
and are now drawing as their main crafting hobby. It fills me with indescribable pride and
makes me happier than I have ever felt before in my career.
September means birthday cakes in our house, and every year the boys put in their requests for party fun and cake style and flavour… from a Star Wars themed Yoda, to a Dragon (same food colouring, so that was OK!) through to your standard Lemon Drizzle Cake… This year however, the party request was for trampolining, ‘free jumping’ and his OWN chocolate cake recipe! So 10yo-soon-to-be-11yo spent the evening before his birthday MAKING and BAKING his own cake, and a quick dash for some Maltesers in the morning, decorated it himself before we bundled five of his friends off to Acton for some bouncing action over at Oxygen FreeJumping. Well, we couldn’t be more impressed – all of us (five boys, and two mums) LOVED it – we started off with a game of dodge-ball – this was a great introduction, as we weren’t quite sure where to try first – the Oxygen FreeJumping staff were lovely and organised a game, explaining the rules, so we got stuck straight in! And guess what? I won!The design of the venue is stunning, the bold bright blues and yellows are really striking – loved the strong graphics – this place really IS jumping.
The boys’ absolute favourite activity was the Gladiator style jousting area over a large pool of blue foam… they spent AGES battling and giggling, and tumbling into a pit of spongy foam blocks.
I personally loved bouncing on the trampolines around the basketball hoops, probably because a simple bounce helped you score with EVERY throw!
Every participant wears a pair of ‘jumping socks’ which caused some amusement, and then delight that they got to keep them – and it was great to see the kids having such a brilliant time on the expanse of trampolines – we so want to go again!
A big thank you to the team at Oxygen FreeJumping, for their fabulous facilities, great family fun, and to the cafe staff who also made us so welcome with great coffee too.
Well we timed that badly, last minute booking of a B&B near Romsey for a friend’s birthday party and I find that every SINGLE room is gone already…. aaagghhh…. so I asked colleagues if they could recommend somewhere – and Premier Inn was suggested as an option. Phew, they had a room! And it was perfectly located for the party – just a 10 minute taxi ride away – spot on! The room was lovely, really nice decor, welcoming efficient staff.
So we jumped in the shower and dashed out for something to eat at a pub suggested by local friends, the three tuns – fab food, can highly recommend. At the end of a LONG but fun evening with friends, we returned to the comfort of our room at the Premier Inn – the bed super comfy, and sooo quiet – they have a designated ‘quiet zone’ which was most appreciated – such a good night’s sleep!
Breakfast the next day was a relaxed affair, with veggie sausage options as well as muesli, fresh fruit, organic yoghurts, and soya milk for the coffee. Couldn’t fault the food!
Now, we went without the kids this time, however, we noticed a LOT of families were staying at the hotel too, and it transpires that this is the perfect hotel for an overnight stop on your way to Paultons Family Theme Park, the home of Peppa Pig World – who knew?!