Friday 30 November 2012

Flash Mob ... Mamma Mia

Children are brilliant aren't they .. they have the power to make you laugh, cry and snort with emotion. So imagine my surprise and delight when reading a story to my class nearing hometime I mentioned the word "Mamma Mia" within the context of a story and the next thing I hear is.

"Mamma Mia .. here  I go again my my ..."

I couldn't contain my laughter and and sheer delight at this.. so I pulled  on my straight face and commenced with the story this time mentioning the word "dizzy" So then it was ....

"Dizzzy ...  my head is spinning .. "

"Dizzy My head is spinning ..."

So welcome to my brilliant world of a flash mob reception class  ! totally awe inspiring they could beat that lot on X factor anytime. Who says school is no fun I beg to differ!

"Mamma Mia ... Here I go again "

Disclosure ( These are my images and of my son from his nursery days I have his permission and that of the parents off the other children to publish my photo. I would never show pictures of children from where I work I value my job and my reputation )

Thursday 29 November 2012

Smile you wear it well ... eyes #thegallery

Smile you wear it well and you have that smile all your life so share it its a gift that shouldn't be kept under wraps. When you smile your eyes light up they say that eyes are the windows to your soul and you have the kindest soul of anyone I know.

Tis the Season to be jolly? The School Nativity ......

This blog post was prompted by Pink Oddy and not the horror story of a man's finger being bitten of in a school Nativity.

"Pull Pull  Pull the Cracker Bang"

I work at at school so it has pretty much been Christmas since early November tinsel is everywhere you turn. They are playing Dragons den in Baby Jesus stable and I have to turn the demonic looking doll ( from the toy sack ) to face the wall if I work in the school hall. Baby Jesus's head has fallen off and we've repaired it with duct tape, Mary doesn't want to commit to being Joesphs friend and the Three Wise men and clonking each other with their gifts. The teachers are drinking Gin in the staff room ( not really ... although ).

And we are all struggling to convince the inn keep that no the stable hasn't been developed because of the lack of social housing.

My own son as a shepherd.

Don't get me wrong I love to be festive like anyone else I just don't like to do it too early.... Oh that reminds me the Easter eggs will be in the shops soon.

The run up to Christmas should be festive with festive activities and festive parties , now not everyone likes this sort of thing and that is fair enough. I like tradition such as the school Nativity but even this can be fraught with danger. Perhaps your son didn't get to be Joesph or your daughter has been demoted from Mary to the third camel on the right.

Look at the happy shepherd on the right!

Surely it doesn't really matter , what they are? as long as it is run well and the children enjoy it but rivalries are sparked and sadly such situations will and can get out of control. Sadly this is perhaps a reflection of today's society.So remember Christmas is for everyone young and old alike.

So I really must get ready for the festivities at my school yes what for it ( not my idea ) its a variation on Britain got Talent! Oh I haven't planned what to wear at all at out works Christmas do of going for a festive curry ( rolls eyes )

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Cats Gin and Tonic

What happens when evil lets down their hair and the Gin and Tequila flow?

And they take a break from lining up Field Mice under the dishwasher?

And trust me it isn't milk in that bottle...

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Crafty Christmas

I have had a go at creating some of my own Christmas cards its well worth having a go , even if you are not crafty like myself except when swiping a chocolate biscuit from the cupboard. 

Monday 26 November 2012

Colour in Bleak Midwinter

I do love Christmas Carols and whilst its only November and the Autumal colours slowly ebb away into the dampness and we edge into the crispness of Winter. You might think that Winter is Monocrome but through the black and white there is colour, there are the vibrant greens of Holly and the redness of the berries. So really its not that a "Bleak Midwinter " after all.

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan, 
 earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone; 
 snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow, 
 in the bleak midwinter, long ago.

2. Our God, heaven cannot hold him, nor earth sustain; 
 heaven and earth shall flee away when he comes to reign. 
 In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed 
 the Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ. 

3. Angels and archangels may have gathered there, 
 cherubim and seraphim thronged the air; 
 but his mother only, in her maiden bliss, 
 worshiped the beloved with a kiss. 

4. What can I give him, poor as I am? 
 If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; 
 if I were a Wise Man, I would do my part; 
 yet what I can I give him:  give my heart."

Saturday 24 November 2012

Santa lapland and meeting Santa.

Our Hotel in Lapland
If you can do I whole heartily recommend going to Lapland and seeing Santa's a once in a lifetime opportunity . We were lucky enough to fly out on Christmas eve  with First Choice when J was 8
from the very off it was magical with the captain in full flow telling the children to look out for Rudolph. There was competitions for the children on the plane and J managed to win one of these, he won a remote control plane.

Mr T, J and myself.

On a husky ride.

Santas Reindeer

J meeting a husky dog.

Breathtaking views of Lapland  ( Finland )

Reindeer crossing the road and not chickens!.

J making the most of us taking our own ski wear.
J meeting Santa on Christmas day.
We went to Lapland on Christmas Eve , Upon arrival everything is well organised with your elves ( they really do have the ears) ready to greet you and place you on your forwarding coach... the bus ride to your resort is  breathtaking, the daylight hours are only around 4 hours so our coach trip trip was lit by oil lanterns along the roads, so  as I said breathtaking.

All the First Choice Reps were amazing, could not do enough for you and available in the hotel for the entire day and night.
We took our own ski gear but the cabin you visit to collect your supplied clothing is like a well oiled machine, entering through one door walking along a conveyor system having elves size you up in an instant. It is really worth taking your own as before you leave you have to give the borrowed stuff back and as a result We were able to go and play out in the snow longer than anyone else. Decathalon do a super range of Ski wear so its not that expensive.

The hotel is so pretty and absolutely fit for purpose, our room was a little cramped for the 3 of us but we could have moved if we asked as others did. The sauna in the room is a godsend.
The food served was always good and varied and had a little kids section with the fast food type of meal for them, pizza, fish fingers etc.(makes things so much easier)
Though it is worth using their Ski stuff most of the time unless  the stuff you can buy can stand up to the - 30 the clothes they provide for you are the best to wear when touring or going on trips, some days it dropped to -30 and my ski wear would not have been warm enough for us if we were out all day it was fine for short bust  when were were playing in the snow.

Every child in their lifetime needs to build a snowman.

In addition to the organised trips that were included we booked a few extra excursions, all of them are worth the money,  We did the sledging with huskies   We just thought that they took you round in a luxury sledge but oh no you had to do it yourself. I looked at Mr T and said " that's your job that" I needn't have worried as the huskies know their route  , they don't half zip along at a rate of knots . But what a fantastic time we had. I am am sure that Finish people perhaps laugh at our Country because we are stopped by a few cm of snow , everything grinds to a halt.

J sledging.

We also decided to go on a Snowmobie trek they please the speed demon within though he was a little exsperated but our two guides ladies who he felt stopped him going like a bat out of hell!
Small children are put in some sort of sledge and tracked along but one of the guides.
 It is fantastic and I would recommend it to anyone.

Mr T the speed demon.

Although the thought of Lapland is for kids don't be fooled, you will have a great time, dare I say it, better time as an adult as the snowmobiles etc are amazing. The extreme cold prevents children from spending too much time outdoors at once. J  was 8 and on some trips there were tears from all the children because of the cold, short lived as the elves/guides always have a solution.

Christmas dinner at the hotel.

Snowing again !
On the coldest of days when the skies were clear we had two days where the northern lights lit up the skies, once in a lifetime opportunity totally reliant on luck though!

You cannot help but love this stunning place.

You can see from the pictures how much We loved this place a lifetime of memories and well worth a visit.

J smiling in the snow.
J round the camp fire at the Artic circle.

Friday 23 November 2012

Gentleman prefer Blonds

Its been a laugh a minute this week in the Toplis household .... ( I can see you are already sniggering  ... tsk ) So this week in the Toplis household whilst my surname is hilarity enough when dealing with call centres. I know my name sounds like I am a playboy bunny sadly I am lacking the vital statistics.

"Your Surname please"

"Toplis" ... just waiting for the usual ..

"How are you spelling that ?"


"I thought it was going to be TOPLESS"

Stony silence .. I have heard this joke a squillion times.

"So how can I help you then"

And then there is the child ... yes the darling little bundle of fluff that in typical teen fashion can fathom the ability to put his shoes in the rack. Put his dirty clothes in the basket , hang his dressing gown up .. I really , really could go on all day.

And yet he is on the Gifted and Talented list at school and has a high IQ .... so this week his funnees have been.

"Have you ever dyed your hair blond?"

I squirm I have visions because he is at senior school that it will be something rude  *whispers you know collars and cuffs* Thankfully it wasn't ...

"No I haven't " I replied.

"Well you certainly act like it" he said quite seriously ...

Oh .. oh how I laughed....

And he other chestnut was whilst preparing tea he asked for a drink to which I replied I will get it in a minute.. And you know what it wasn't even a mummy minute which doesn't understand the laws of space and time. However I took my tea through and J said..

"Where's my drink??"

I said "I am just going back to get it..." resisting the temptation to say I only have one pair of hands..

To which he said " I thought women could multitask ...." ... sharp intake of breath.... Count to 10 ... go do a Sudoko puzzle ... discover the meaning of life and calm.

He got his drink .... I didn't pour it on his head temptation was there.

He isn't a rude boy he is just ...... a boy ... a teen .. a geek bit like Sheldon from Big Bang Theory... one of those mad academic types. So any future girlfriend don't expect flowers....

Holding out for a Hero Ultimate egg cup!

Christmas is nearly upon us didn't you know ! And whilst you may be groaning at the thought of buying expensive presents what about  egg cup at only £4.00 for a pair its hardly going to break the bank and the money goes to a good cause. If anyone knows me and is reading this I am seriously lacking egg cups...hint hint !

Line up your soldiers, and get your spoons ready! Eggs for Soldiers unveil the ultimate egg cup.
Earlier on this year, 9 year old, Isabella Paxton from Wiltshire wowed Eggs for Soldiers’ judges with her entry into their national drawing competition. Isabella’s drawing was handpicked out of a pool of over 1,500 entries; her ‘eggcellent’ picture was so eye catching the judges couldn’t resist it.   Eggs for Soldiers were so impressed; they have used her design to create a line of limited edition egg cups available to buy from the Help for Heroes website in November.

Isabella attends St Barnabas C of E Primary School in Devizes, Wiltshire, her creative drawing was handpicked from a pool of 1,500 entries; bright yellow and green the design features a “super funny” saluting chicken in an army uniform.
9 year old Isabella has made a fantastic contribution and now is your chance to get involved. Make a difference this Christmas and get your hands on a limited edition egg cup. All money raised will go toward Help for Heroes who play a part in delivering much needed support to members of the armed forces who have been injured.
RRP £4.00 for a pair of egg cup. For more information and to purchase visit

Disclosure ( I have not been paid for this post I am merely helping out a good cause)

Thursday 22 November 2012

Food Glorious Food #wwback2best

"Food Glorious Food " I expect at this point you are now breaking into song, food indeed is a glorious thing it can be an assault on your senses and at the very same time it had hold you prisoner. Whilst no one is obviously holding you actually prisoner and physically forcing a chocolate bar down your throat.
Food on occasion can be a vicious cycle and for that vicious cycle is cheese , yes I hereby admit I break into a Wallace and Gromit sweat at the throat of cheese.

Cheese it has to be grated on sandwiches for me or sliced separately and accompanied on buttered bread. I have a certain cheese fear .. don't ask  I have had it all my life. At the moment I have weaned myself of cheese whilst I know you have to have calcium I am getting my daily intake through yogurt.

Dieting to be honest for me can be a vicious cycle you do need to have rewards in your life and this I have by perhaps having one chocolate bar a week. A very long time ago I did lose a lot of weight and I am sure I will again but as you get older it becomes harder and working in a school the cakes are constantly in your face. Well not actually in your face that would just be just plain greedy!

 I am pleased to be part of a The Britmums and weight watchers program I have struggled and not being able to go to meeting as part of this scheme and meet physical people who  are in the same boat. Its not a case of being spoon fed the information but I think I would of benefited by attending the meetings.

Having said that I have  actually got batteries in my scales but at same time I don't want be a slave to them. I have picked up some excellent tips from the Weight Watchers website and cook books and I do believe that dieting is a complex business. But given the right tools it is something that can be dymistified and I am slowly getting there with the help of Weight Watchers.

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Familiarity doesn't breed contempt!

In the world of an autistic child/ SEN child  familiarity doesn't breed contempt it provides security, safety and happiness. If their routine is broken it can set them back to such a point it can takes months to recover.

Familiarity  produces :

1. Routine.

2. Security.

3. Happiness.

4. Social Interaction ( This is very much down to the level of autism or Special need)

5. Communication.

There are probably more that you could add to this list. For an example if an autistic child doesn't usually play with other children just giving them a ball to play with will soon have them interacting with other children. It might not be conversation that is perhaps normally associated with ball games but the interaction may well include the autistic child rolling the ball to another child and them rolling it back.

Also if the autistic child seeks to play with the ball ask them:

"What do you want to play with ?"

And in my case they answer "Green ball please"

Play is a great leveller and its humbling when all children come together regardless of Special needs or disability.

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Life in a hashtag ! #

Don't you find that we all live our lives at a fast pace ? Social media can take a hold of you and make you its prisoner this can either be becuase :

1. You are surfing the net and things keep catching you catching your interest.

2. You are on twitter.

3. You are on Facebook.

4. You are on Pininterst .

I am not going to delved into social media time management today but I do find through no fault of my own I do sometimes live my life in a hash tag within twitter and while there are some brilliant and very kind people on twitter, it is very nice to switch off sometimes. Think of it like this when I close my fridge I do wonder what happens when the light goes off.

But you can leave a conversation you won't find reports on your television because someone forgot to eat because they were hanging on your every word. In the words of "Why don't you switch 0ff your TV and go and do something less boring instead "

And for all of those you not born in the 1970's or earlier sorry ...

But switching off and not living your life in a hash tag ( twitter) allows you to turn into the world and see this:

Sunday 18 November 2012

Shepherds Pie made easy

Its that time of year when you need heartwarming filling food especially for us as a family on the go always popping off to some sporting fixture or other So as we always have potatoes,carrots in and the meat staple that is mince then Shepherds pie is the natural choice to make with a cheesy twist to the potatoes even the fussiest of children like my son will eat this. And I agreed to be in the blogger Splendid Spud Challenge and below is the result!


1lb s /900g potatoes , peeled and quarted
6 tbsp milk
110g butter but keep a small knob back for the sauce
Salt and Pepper
400ml of beef stock add more if you so wish
115g chopped onion
115g finely diced carrot
115g sweetcorn
450g minced lamb
1tbsp all-purpose flour
115g grated cheese
2tlb of olive oil

Optional you could add celery for a twist !

Serves 4-6

  • Heat oven to 375/190c/ Gas 5
  • Boil the potatoes until soft then drain. Place the milk and butter in the pan used to boil the potatoes, return to the heat and warm gently until butter has melted.Add the potatoes and mash. Season to taste and keep to one side.
  • Put the olive oil in a deep pan. Add the onion and carrot and fry for 5 minutes.
  • Add the minced lamb and one- third of the beef stock to the onion and carrot mixture, adding also at this point the sweetcorn. Sir constantly until all the meat is browned. Add the remaining stock and season with salt and pepper. Cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes.
  • mix the flour into the remaining knob of butter then add small pieces of this to the miced lamb sauce, stirring all the time until all the flour has dissolved and the sauce has thicken in around 5 mins.
  • Place the minced lamb sauce into a square dish around 8" 3 " / 20cm x 7 cm either glass or ceramic. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top of the potato and bake in the oven for 30- 35 minutes unil the surface is crisp and brown. Serve immediately. 

Disclosure ( I was sent a bag of Good Natured Splendid Spuds to make a recipe all though words and opinions are entirely my own)

Good Natured’s Splendid Spuds are the perfect partners for a wholesome winter dish, from a roast dinner to a creamy gratin, and what’s more they are pesticide-residue free, brimming with nutrients and flavours to warm you through the chilly months ahead.

Good Natured’s potatoes are grown in harmony with Mother Nature, using only natural predators to control pests and disease, which leaves you safe in the knowledge that you and your family are getting nothing less than natural perfection. In fact the entire Good Natured range is both good by name and good by nature.

Good Natured Splendid Spuds are perfect for roasting, with a crispy coating and soft fluffy texture. A fantastic addition to all your Christmas meats such as beef, pork, chicken and turkey, liven up your roasties with goose fat, fresh rosemary and sea salt.What’s more, potatoes are pound for pound lower in calories, higher in fibre and lower in carbohydrates than other popular sources of carbohydrates like white rice and pasta? Yet another reason to go back for seconds!

Good Natured Splendid Spuds are available in selected ASDA stores nationwide.

ü  Good Natured is a range of pesticides residue free fruit, salads and potatoes farmed by expert growers in tune with Mother Nature – using environmentally friendly production systems.
ü  Good Natured is a sub brand of Angus Soft Fruits based in Angus, Scotland – a family-run business established in 1994 by growers Lochy Porter, his father Wallie and cousin James Gray.
ü  Good Natured Salad are available in selected ASDA 

Saturday 17 November 2012

Hotel Chocolat White Chocolate Advent Calender

Hotel Chocolat White Advent calander  This is where I tell you I consumed it and didn't leave any for my child but no the child took charge and set The Hotel Chocolat White advent calender up in its own little shrine ready for Christmas. Which means that ...  despite pleading,stamping feet, sitting on the naughty step that my son   I wasn't allowed to open it.

I have no doubt that the white chocolate will be exquisite as it was when we as a family reviewed a Hotel Chocolat Easter egg. But I am afraid you can not argue with my son .. no he is the sort of child that will argue black is white and so forth.

So I will on the 1 st December provide an update as to whether I got to the advent calender first... After alls fair in love and war.

I have to admit I love the design of the advent calender it isn't too childish its just the right sort of grown up whilst maintaining a magical childlike quality. The price for it is £12  which you may feel is quite expensive but the quality of the chocolate overrides any worries you had about the price. I love the way it matches in with my sons very early Christmas decoration !

(Disclosure I was sent The Hotel Chocolate White Advent all thoughts words and opinions are my own)

Genius Mince Pies Gluten Free

Now I am not coeliac myself but my Mother in Law is so I like to make sure she is part of the Christmas ritual when they come round to visit and I do this with the Genius gluten free mince pies.

The very kind people at Genius sent me a pack of 4 mince pies to try as Christmas is coming didn't you know. Ho Ho  'd have believed it.. sorry no more Christmas jokes....!

Genius Mince Pies

Genius Mince Pies hot from the oven.
Both myself and Mr T liked the taste of these they were crumbly in a melt in the mouth way. Mr T thought they looked a bit pasty and wondered had I followed the instructiona on the packet, yes I had if I had left it to Mr T no doubt he'd have bunged them in the microwave. I suspect you could brush them with a little milk to make them go brown on the top.

The filling was plump and mouthwatering so its a thumbs up from myself and Mr T and scores us brownies points with the Mother in Law!

Friday 16 November 2012

Down the lane

Baa, baa, black sheep,Have you any wool ? Yes sir yes three bags fullOne for the masterOne for the dameAnd for the little boy who lives down the lane.

Down the lane near my school.

Singalongz Spongebob review a truely inclusive toy.

Singalongz the ideal Christmas gift .
Here’s a  lovely range of  new toys for 2012 Singalongz a NEW brand for girls or boys ..  Also a SpongeBob Squarepants version available. I also think that think is a brilliant product for children with special needs especially for those with communications problems, this is proof that toys can be used by all children  a truely inclusive toy. Children learn by copying and if they can hear spongebob repeating what they say it adds to the fun. Also special needs children will not feel excluded as brothers or sisters can join in and make a band with the other Singalongz pets available.

 Three ways to play – hours of fun!
Performing in front of friends and family is a great way for children to build up their confidence. It can be daunting performing alone but with Singalongz pets they feel like part of a group. There are four different pets to choose from and each cute, cuddly Singalongz character is bursting with personality. Each Singalong comes with a special microphone which can sync with your pet using the Sing-a-link star to create the magical link. Singalongz can be played with in three different ways giving hours of fun and entertainment!
1.       SING into the microphone and your Singlong pet will instantly sing everything they hear in their own fantastic voice. 
2.       TALK into the microphone and your pet will repeat everything you say in their own special way
3.       COLLECT AND CONNECT the Singalongz pets to create a band and sing in perfect harmony. Each one has its own distinct voice so it’s easy to put on your own concert for friends and family!
Meet the Singalongz Group:
With Singalongz pets it’s impossible to pick a favourite. Each one has its own unique voice and character – the only challenge is deciding which one you love the most! Me-Me is a pink, fabulous fluffy cat who loves being in the limelight; an impossibly cute duck, Dally, with tufty hair and dazzling voice; Ruftey a fun-loving hound that can’t help bursting into song and finally Cobey a cuddly brown bear whose deep voice is instantly lovable.  
Bring your Singalongz pets to life
Singalongz pets come to life from the moment you press the magic Sing-a-link star on their arm. Hearing the twinkling sound lets you know that the magical link has been created and your pet is ready to play. When playtime is over simply hold down the Sing-a-link star on the microphone and the magical link fades.
Singalongz are suitable for children aged 3+ and available for just £29.99 (RRP) and were awarded Mums Choice Award 2012 Top Electronic Toy Category

Singalongz are suitable for children aged 3+ and available for just £29.99.

(Disclosure I was sent Spongebob for review and my thoughts, words and opinions are entirely my own )

Schools trips pre technology! Galley : The Eighties

Awwwh the 1980's I was there with my beeble boopars , ra ra skirt proper sized Wagon wheels. I didn't have colour TV till 1986 and the Betamax was the big daddy in our household. Going to the video store was a regular treat it was the "Highway to the dangerzone" and everyone "Cut Footloose" and just relaxed.

In the days pre technology how did we really cope it would seem now there are no confines to the world of Social media. On my own son's school trips they use twitter and blogs  etc. One teacher  even used his mobile to record my son being airlifted off the slopes of Mount Blanc when he had a serious skiing accident. It would seem now that we are all social media junkies in some way or another! And whilst perusing a social media site called Technorati I came across an inetesting article about teenager and facebook how they are apparently abandoning facebook in the quest of other things such as twitter and tumbler. My own son for example is favouring at the moment something called Minecraft which has the graphics of a Spectrum 48k . But perhaps what teenagers crave simplicity not the tagging , the liking and perhaps other services like twitter and tumbler offer this. I may self seem to sway over to twitter more , I haven't yet got tumbler ( I fear any more social media and my head  may well explode)

*Update I am now on tumblr.. my head hasn't expoded yet.*

In 1984 I went to Normandy and I remember we stayed a Lion Sur Mer and We had to write a diary of our adventures . I wasn't allowed to take a camera ( boo parents) So I had to make do with postcards where as now you can instantly take a picture of where you are and tweet it around the world. I wonder if you over do this does it take the enjoyment away from the event because you are so immersed in getting every little bit of what you see ( or don't see as you are so busy taking pictures)

My 1984 Normandy Diary ( scrap book )

The start of my Normandy adventure.

What we got up to on the ferry.
French breakfast and lunch at the youth hostel.

Various stuff I collected as stuck in the scrap book as memories.

 A hand written account of what I did on a certain day.
I give you the Eighties :I give you bad hair!

I remember that the scrap books were the catalyst for conversation when I got back off the holiday , we had a special evening where slides ( remember those were shown ). I fear that Social media if not done in the right way can indeed dilute both the written word and the art of conservation itself.