Top 5 Christmas Presents of 2011

Overall, I think we did fairly well on the present front, not too much tat. In a way, we are lucky that my family is overseas and posting presents is extortionate.  So they, tend to send money for me to buy presents for our daughter.  I really like this as it allows me to control what she gets and I tend to know what she needs/would like.  We did our best not to spoil her but in hindsight she did get a lot.  Here are her top 5 Christmas Presents.

Number 5

A Princess Tent from Santa, as a family we were torn on how to handle gifts from Santa.  Too be honest, we didn’t want him taking all the credit for our hard work.  At one point we were just going to have him bring the stocking, but in the end we decided one main present from him would be good.

The Princess Tent is designed for the garden but for the time being, we are going to keep it inside until the spring.  At first, I was a bit worried that it would be too small for her but boy was I wrong!  At the moment, it’s dominating our rather small lounge.  It was fairly easy to put together and you can feel the quality, the canvas cover is robust and the wooden frame is sturdy.  At the moment we haven’t secured it with the screws as we may want to put it up and down.  As you can see it’s gorgeous and I’m sure her and her friends will have fun playing in it.

Number 4

Kerplunk – a game that I loved to play as a child; it’s changed a bit but still great fun.  We’ve really been enjoying playing it as a family, but we’ve noticed that my daughter has a very competitive streak and likes to change the rules as we go along.  I think she gets this from her Grandmother who is fiercely competitive when it comes to games.

Number 3

My daughter’s main present, after a lot of thought, was a Puppet Theatre, but what I really like about this one is when you turn it around it turns into a shop.  At the moment she tends to prefer the shop.  We spent the evening playing Toy Store; however, I find her shop very expensive as everything costs £50 and she doesn’t take IOUs!

Number 2

Prior to Christmas, I tried to ask her what she wanted for Christmas and I really struggled to get something sensible out of her.  The last time I asked she said she would like a yellow dress, red handbag and pink bunny costume.  Luckily, a friend of mine who has a penchant for Prada and the colour red jumped in and offered to sort out the red hand bag. Phew!

Number 1

To go with her Puppet Theatre we bought a collection of Hand Puppets from the Puppet Company. As she is currently in a Princess phase we opted for Fairytale Characters.  As you can see they are absolutely gorgeous.  Mummy and daddy could use some work on their puppetry skills, but we are getting the hang of it.  Last night we did renditions of ‘we’re off to see the Wizard’, ‘Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes’, ‘if you want to be a Prince stand up tall’ and ‘I’m a Little Princess’ sung to the tune of I’m a Little Teapot.  We’re looking forward to many more productions.

Wishing you all the best in 2012!

 Disclosure:  For the record Santa did not bring the Princess Tent.  It was a gift from the company.




St Alban’s South Signal Box

We’ve just returned from St Alban’s South Signal Box as part of Heritage Open Days 2011.  We’ve gone by it countless times on the train ‘down to London’ as they say but we had no idea that it’s open to the public.   In fact, it’s open every second Sunday of the month.  Do check the website for a full list of opening times.

‘Early in 2002 a group of St Alban’s residents decided that the signal box at the end of their road had been left to decay for 25 years too many.’

I highly recommend a visit.  It’s one of those hidden gems in St Alban’s.  I’m by no means a train spotter but I found it very interesting and my husband and daughter were enthralled.  We listened to a short talk about the restoration which included a demonstration of how it would have worked in action and then the kids got a chance to pull the levers, which would turn the signals on in the garden.

There’s also a historical exhibition on the ground floor and the gardens are lovely.

Do you know any other local gems I should look out for?


Our Royal Wedding Street Party

I don’t live on one of the prettiest streets but it’s one of the friendliest by far.  The mums have a Facebook Group, we often meet for drinks and a take-away in the evenings, when a new baby arrives on the street everyone swarms to give them a warm welcome, you can often see people chatting in the street and we do have a street party every year.  However, this year was even more special.

The men on the street, started to filter out onto the street at 8 am to help hang the 350m of bunting, erect the bandstand and sort out the tables.  The party kicked off around 1pm.  We had a band, a cake baking competition, which a couple of woman who have lived on the street for 50 years judged, a hat decorating contest for the kids, a giant ‘flip-flop’ piñata, pin the tail on the Corgi and a burly ex navy officer painted the children’s faces along with a few of the young at heart adults!  But for the most part the kids just loved running loose in the street, it took me back to the 70s.

It was an absolutely brilliant day, a great chance to catch up with everyone and meet a few new people.  I can’t wait till the Jubilee next year!