Music and Audio Books for kids (15/11/11)

I promised to put my favourite list of audio books and CDs up, here it is. Music first, books further down.
For a good sing-a-long and a bit of learning.......A friend gave me a CD called School of Rock-a-bye-babies. Not to be confused with Rockabye Baby (I can recommend the Smashing Pumpkins version, so beautiful - take a look).

The School of Rock-a-bye babies took me by surprise. It’s completely different to anything else I’ve ever listened to and once you get over the American accent (weird for us Brits) and get used to the puppet voices - it’s a really addictive CD. There are a lot of tracks and it teaches young children about music in a very simple way, starting with melody and rhythm and moving onto the different instrument sounds. My 3yo boy loves it.  There's nothing 'rock-a-bye' or 'baby' about it. (I'm a bit puzzled by the name)
If you live in London I've just discovered they run classes too

You’ll try anything to sooth a young baby and my favourite is a collection of traditional lullabies sung by the amazing Sophie Barker from Zero 7, it’s simply called Lullaby and can be found here
Every collection deserves a Disney Classics album and you’ll never find one that has the perfect mix, but they’re all pretty good and great for a sing-a-long. I bought a compilation CD but wish I'd made my own, mixing and matching from iTunes. 

Audio Books

If you love Julia Donaldson then the audio books are fab and come with the added bonus of songs. I bought this when my son was 1, he's now 3 and still loves it. I suspect it will last for a long time yet. You can buy as a CD box set or download. He loves the box and having some control over choosing which CD goes in next – you just don’t get that when you download. CD includes: Monkey Puzzle, Gruffalo,  Snail & the Whale, Smartest Giant, Squash & a Squeeze, Room on the Broom
We’ve also got Gruffalo’s Child, great for dark cold nights.

Another classic book that translates really well to audio is We’re going on a bear hunt. The CD is brilliant, I downloaded from and it contains the story with sound effects, music, games and activities.  You get a lot for you money and great for miserable or dark days when kids need to burn energy indoors. 
One Day - the film

Are we even allowed to admit to liking the book anymore? Well I did, thoroughly enjoyed it, read it in one sitting. One of those come along for the ride books. Great. Had high hopes for the film too, but I was really disappointed. Three major problems for me.

1) They leave most of the crucial first scene, which sets out the reasons for the 'one day' theme and gives the characters that real connection, until the end of the film. The scene is beautiful at the end, but putting it there means you fail to set the film up properly and just don't get why these two people stay in touch.

2) No real mention of letters... a really strong part of the book. Again, helping the audience connect with Emma's pain and her feelings for Dex.

3) Why the hell did they make Ann Hathaway attempt a Yorkshire accent? The film wasnt set there, it's not crucial to the character, I didn't even remember where she was from. All it does is make you focus on her voice and not the story. BAD decision.

Having said all this, I cried continuously for the last 10 mins and thoroughly enjoyed it ending, sorry, THE ending. :)

Coffee - 30/8/2011

The coffee at Nom Nom Cupcakery (below)is really really good. Could be a combination of factors, including good Barista training, a good machine and good beans. Turns out all 3 are provided by Rave Coffee, a local company based near Tetbury, in Gloucestershire. They sell beans and ground coffee, all blended on their premises. Visit their website follow them on twitter @ravecoffee

Cupcakes!  July 2011

Nom Nom Cupcakery, Nailsworth, Gloucestershire

Eat in or out? Both. Two small tables and a bar to eat in at, but most of the cakes seem to be making their way to people's homes and offices in the most beautiful packaging.

and the taste test..?
I wouldn't call myself a cupcake girl. I'm more a bread and butter pudding kind of lass. But these.are.delicious. Made fresh every day by Emily, with lots of love thrown in. She's home taught and willing to experiment. My favourite's so far are Turkish Delight - the sponge has a hint of rosewater and it's topped with pistachio and bits of the real stuff. Mocha - simple choc cake with a pure caffeine hit in the frosting. My husband likes the victoria sponge - traditional sponge with jam in the middle and gorgeous lemon frosting. She also does novelty - see picture.

Contact twitter: @nomnomcupcakery Venue: market street, nailsworth.

Campsite Reviews
So if you fancy that make-or-break camping holiday (see previous post), thought i'd share my favourites. These are genuinely, seriously good campsites. Honest!

North Morte Farm, North Devon

Pros: Beautiful, wild, windswept, near two gorgeous beaches and lots of pubs

Make-or-break factor: Testing tent erection (ooh err) in high winds, also lots of argument potential searching for a level pitch.

Caerfai Organic Farm Campsite, St Davids, Pembrokeshire

Pros: Stunning sea views, close to nature, great cheese at the shop

Make-or-break factor: Testing tent erection (strong winds), driving distance to the pub, so plenty of opportunity to argue about who's driving.

Shell Island, Llanbedr (nr Barmouth), North West Wales

Pros: Fantastic beach and dunes, huge area to choose from for your pitch, real festival feel to the camping

Make-or-break factor: Getting the directions and tide times right to even reach the place.  Losing each other - and maybe finding someone else? - in the sand dunes.

New mum? Top 5 essentials for leaving the house

When you've just had a baby, all you want to do is hide away. I'd happily spend all day (and all night) in my velour house tracksuit with matching dressing gown, lovingly staring at my newborn miracle. But you can only get away with this for a few weeks, before people start inviting you out for coffee.

So if I need to look like I'm completely on top of this whole parenting thing, this is my list of essentials:

1. No sleep? Instantly brighten with Clinique All About Eyes Serum – cooling and refreshing.

2. Dark bags under your eyes? Cover them with Touche Eclat by YSL. (Paint deep frown lines too!)

3. Dry lips with no colour? Replace the vaseline with Clinique Superbalm moisturising gloss, to add a bit of glamour. It's amazing how much better it makes you feel.

4. Replace the jogging bottoms with a pair of Hampstead skinny jeans from – elasticated waste for the post-pregnancy tummy and a great fit (they don't even lose shape if you've worn them constantly for 2 weeks!)

5. A wrap or cardigan – for hiding the bump, the bum, the boobs and most importantly, the baby when I'm feeding her in public. Great options in H&M, or once again, Babes with Babies.

Enjoy the coffee!