Where’s Brian’s Bottom? asks Abingdon illustrator

Liz Nicholls

Kids

Local illustrator Rob Jones always wanted to create a children’s book and, in Where’s Brian’s Bottom? the dream has unfolded!

“I’ve always loved dogs, especially sausage dogs,” says Rob, who lives in Abingdon, “but sadly I’ve never owned one. I’m hoping one day I’ll have one called Brian!”

Where’s Brian’s Bottom? is Rob’s new board book for toddlers that unfolds to two metres long. Young readers are encouraged to help Brian find his bottom in the house and learn about different animals and the sounds they make.

“I didn’t used to draw dogs that often,” adds Rob, “until I illustrated The Funny Life of Pets by James Campbell. I find I draw them all the time now. Anytime I sign a card or book, there will usually be a doodle of a dog.”

Rob studied illustration at the University of Gloucestershire and it was during this time that he discovered a love for making books, toys and puppets. He has made many puppets for the Story Museum’s Christmas production in Oxford. His first book, Bernard, won the People’s Book Prize in 2014. “I owe a lot to the Story Museum,” says Rob. “They were really supportive of me when my first book Bernard was released.

I once took part in an exhibition there called “the illustrator zoo” where visitors could watch me work on book ideas. I’ve made puppets for four of their shows, the first being Winter Mouse, which was made using a sleeve from an old jumper. I’m looking forward to taking my son there once it reopens.

“My advice to any budding illustrators out there is not to give up! There have been many times over the last 10 years when I’ve been close, but something has always happened to keep me going. I am also very lucky, as my family, friends and colleagues are all so supportive of me.”

Where’s Brian’s Bottom? £6.99, ISBN 9781843654667


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Take our Horrible Histories quiz

Liz Nicholls

Kids

Pinch punch first of the month… it’s April’s Fools Day! This is a tradition that some say dates back to Chaucer here in the UK. It is celebrated in various guises across the world, including in Poland, where it is called Prima Aprils and parts of French and Dutch-speaking Europe where there is fish-themed fun for Poisson d’avril or Pesce d’aprile.

Tradition dictates that practical jokes or hoaxes are played upon the unwitting, before noon, ideally, before the prankster shouts “April Fool!”… However, we’ve all lived through such surreal & challenging times over last year that we’ve decided we don’t have the energy for pranks today!

So, instead, to celebrate the Horrible Histories live on stage this month with Car Park Party, we’re bringing you some Horrible Historical Facts courtesy of Horrible Histories, the world’s bestselling children’s history book series.

Which of the following historical facts is an April Fool??

Take our quiz, inspired by genius author Terry Deary and comment below

• The Georgian era was when toilets first started to come indoors. They were usually put into cupboards though some were placed into dining rooms

• Georgian women favoured the very pale face look and would achieve this with a concoction that included vinegar and horse manure!

• The wealthy Georgians loved sweet foods, so it’s no surprise their teeth often fell out. However, they were able to replace them with real teeth purchased from a donor – sometimes one that was not even still alive!

• The Georgians considered crime scenes as entertainment and would enjoy visiting to gawp at a dead body in the room where it was discovered. 

• George III was thought to be mad though he actually suffered from a condition called porphyria. One of the symptoms of this is doing a blue wee!

• The Victorians thought that arsenic would make their skin look younger and be a tonic for good health. It’s actually a deadly poison.

• Victorian women had a reputation for fainting. It wasn’t because they were sensitive souls, it was because their corsets were tied so tightly they couldn’t breathe properly. If it was extra tight, it also could displace their organs!

• Charles Darwin was a famous Victorian who travelled the world to study exotic animals. He also liked to eat them and was known to have consumed iguanas, armadillos, giant tortoises and a puma.

• Victorians wore black clothes a lot of time. This was not because it made them look slim but rather because the air was so dirty it would not show!

• It was not uncommon in Victorian times for photos to be taken of relatives after they had died. Sometimes other family members would pose with the corpse to make it look alive.

Car Park Party Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain and Gorgeous Georgians and Vile Victorians shows are at various Covid-safe locations between Monday 12th & Monday 3rd May, including Newbury Racecourse, Crawley Lingfield Racecourse and Windsor Racecourse. Tickets on sale at www.carparkparty.com starting from £39.50 (+ £2.50 booking fee)



Let us know what’s happening in your area here

Half term fun for families

Liz Nicholls

Kids

Half term fun for families & children with Surrey Wildlife Trust

Half term is here: Hurray! We know it’s been tough times for parents this winter & that (whisper it) you might not exactly be jumping for joy at the prospect of filling extra time with your children.

But Surrey Wildlife Trust have some great resources to help you spot & encourage wildlife in your own garden or outdoor space, as well as activities you can enjoy online or in one of the 70 Surrey wildlife reserves the charity manages.

England’s most wooded county, Surrey is impressively diverse and possibly the richest of all land-locked counties in terms of numbers of recorded species.

This includes a stunning mixture of landscapes to explore in Surrey, from the beautiful chalk meadows and rolling hills of the North Downs, to the vast heathlands of the Thames Basin and sprawling wetlands in the east of the county.

Visit surreywildlifetrust.org & keep your eye on our social media feed to find out about courses & how you can identify nationally scarce mammals, birds, insects and reptiles that share this gorgeous county with us.

Another half term idea is building a family time capsule with the kids, read our tips here

Foster care in lockdown

Round & About

Kids

Lockdown has been challenging for many of us, for lots of different reasons, and none more so than for Sarah and Darren who are Oxfordshire County Council foster carers, who were staying at home with five children.

They were home schooling all of them as well as keeping them safe and well and happy! As with many foster children they all have specific emotional needs and two of the children have ADHD and are on the autistic spectrum.

We all know that children manage better with routine and for many foster children change is something they find scary and confusing, so to suddenly find their lives changed overnight to not being allowed out, no school, and so many other changes that happened they would have been extremely anxious and unsettled.

You might wonder what lockdown would look like with such a busy household.

The children were kept busy, Sarah is very creative and knows the children are happier when busy. They have fun, they bake, create and paint and garden!

Sarah says, “We do so many things including foam painting the french doors, obstacle course in the back garden and we have planted runner beans, tomatoes and many herbs. We have really enjoyed learning with the children along the way”.

Sarah and Darren were also home schooling so became teachers too, but they obviously did a marvellous job as one of the children got “star pupil of the week”! In total the two younger children have 35 rewards from their school!

It is truly amazing and inspiring to see what they have achieved as a family.

Our foster carers do amazing things and rarely want us to give them any kind of shoutout because, its just what they do. But I think you will all agree that they very much do deserve our thanks and recognition. Throughout these unprecedented times they have given these children everything they need and deserve which is to feel, safe, loved, cared for and to have fun!!

Foster carers offer a safe environment for children who are not able to live at home for however long that might be. We need more carers in Oxfordshire and would welcome to hear form you if you are interested to find out more.


Get in touch with Oxfordshire County Council by email:
Call: 0800 783 5724

Or visit their website

LEGOLAND®’s World of Mythical Creatures

Round & About

Kids

The World of Mythical Creatures is coming to The LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort in spring 2021 with the opening of a multi-million-pound new land where mythical LEGO® creatures come to life.

LEGO MYTHICA: World of Mythical Creatures will feature thrilling new attractions and experiences, including a never-before-seen UK ride.

Created for kids by kids, the parallel universe of LEGO MYTHICA marks the Resort’s single biggest investment since it opened 25 years ago and will see children’s imaginations and creativity run wild as mythical LEGO creatures come to life in front of their eyes.

Revealed in a video on LEGOLAND Windsor’s social media channels, you’ll be teased into a mythical portal to another world opening for the first time. In a hint to the creatures that families may find in this parallel universe, huge footprints shake the Resort, a winged shadow flies overhead and the 30 second film ends with an ice storm engulfing LEGOLAND Windsor’s entrance.

Working in partnership with Kids Industries, the LEGOLAND Windsor team behind the new the land spent a year discussing and testing ideas and concepts with seven to 11-year olds and their parents who influenced everything from the final ride experiences, names and characters.

Thomas Jellum, Divisional Director at the LEGOLAND Windsor Resort, said:

“What better way to celebrate our 25th birthday than by unveiling a completely unique experience like nothing else we have launched at the Resort since we opened.

“At the heart of LEGO MYTHICA: World of Mythical Creatures will be epic rides, including a UK first, and breath-taking mythical creatures designed to capture children’s imaginations and inspire them to build and play.

“Our new land has been two years in the making and co-created with families to make sure it delivers what children and their parents want from a theme park in 2021.”

 

LEGO MYTHICA World of Mythical Creatures is currently under construction at the Resort and is set to open in spring 2021. The new land will be found between Heartlake City and the Resort’s LEGO-themed hotels.

For more details and to book tickets to the LEGOLAND Windsor Resort, visit www.legoland.co.uk/mythica

Cotswold Challenge

Round & About

Kids

Teenagers aged 16-19 are being invited to take the Cotswold Challenge for the chance to win cash prizes by showing off their skills and talents.

It is an opportunity for young people, who had their GCSEs and A-levels cancelled, to take part in a challenge to excel and gain a sense of achievement as well as winning a prize.

The Cotswold Challenge has three categories: Art & Design; Creative Writing; Innovation & Entrepreneurial Thinking. Budding artists, sculptors, authors, poets and entrepreneurs can enter one or all three categories as many times as they like.

The Art and Design Challenge

Express your artistic talents in any medium: fine art, graphic design, sculpture, print-making, illustration, photography

The Creative Writing Challenge

Entries are invited for short stories/plays/scripts/poems that could be inspiring, reflective of what’s happening in the world today or thoughts about the future, in any genre

The Innovation and Entrepreneurial Thinking Challenge

Do you have a great idea for a product, service or campaign that would benefit the world? How could we improve the planet or environment or our way of life?

There are four prizes in each category of £500, £300, £150 and £50, which has already been donated in full by several generous sponsors (full list can be seen online).

After the competition, winners will be able to pitch for additional funds to take ‘the next step’ towards showcasing their work eg publishing their poem or short story; staging their own art exhibition or taking their innovative idea to an early prototype stage.

The Cotswold Challenge is a brand new innovative initiative, which launched on Monday, 20th April, and has a deadline for entries of 9pm on Monday, 1st June.

Entry

Entry is free and you can get a briefing pack and entry details

The Cotswold Challenge has been created by The Cotswold Collective – a team of five self-employed, professional business men and women, all of whom are members of the Fairford & Lechlade Business Club: Nigel Chute of Chute Design; Barry Jackson of Aspire Academy; Allison Murray of Allison Murray Design; Chris Roberts MBE, founder of the Fairford & Lechlade Business Club and freelance journalist; and Fiona Scott of Fiona Scott Media

Co-parenting advice

Round & About

Kids

In this time of upheaval, the most important thing is to provide a safe environment for your children, while staying within the law. Solicitors Couchman Hanson have this useful guide to co-parenting during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Parents sharing contact time with their children will find this time even more difficult, but with a little forethought and flexibility, they will be able to get through it. Here is our five-point guide to making co-parenting work during the COVID-19 lockdown.

1 – Stay within the law

While you are not permitted to leave the house except in certain essential circumstances, it was clarified straight after the lockdown was announced that children under-18 can move between their parents’ homes, when their parents do not live in the same household.

Where there are court orders that set out contact arrangements, parents can agree to vary them to take account of the lockdown. Where parents do not agree, one parent can alter the arrangements on the grounds of safety. However, the parent must understand that if evaluated at a later date by the Family Court, their actions could be viewed dimly.

The critical message is that if you can’t keep to the letter of your Child Arrangements Order, you must try your best to keep to the spirit of it.

Of course, not every set of parents has a court order. They may be working their way through the divorce process. For the best outcomes, try to follow these guidelines.

2 – Communicate

Communication between co-parents is imperative during this stressful time. It will be impossible to get through it without open dialogue. There has never been a better time to put your other differences to one side and make plans in your children’s interests.

Talk about what you can both do when it comes to contact arrangements. If moving your children between households isn’t possible, explain why. Talk about other ways you can spend time with your children if you can’t have them in your home.

You must also agree on arrangements around home-schooling; boundaries for where they should and should not go when they are at the other co-parent’s home, as well as who else they can see.

3 – Stay in touch

This is the age when technology has come into its own, alleviating the anxiety of not being in contact. Parents will be worried about their children, more than ever before.

Use tools such as Zoom, FaceTime or WhatsApp, so your children can see their other parent. Be open to allowing video calls every day. After all, we’ve all got a lot of time on our hands now.

4 – Be flexible

During the lockdown, it’s important to understand that you might not be able to get everything you want with regards to time with your children. You may not even be able to get everything you have previously agreed to with your ex-partner. You must also think about the toll this is taking on your children. If you take a flexible approach, life will be a little less stressful, for you and your children.

Look at the time you do spend together as quality time, with no pressure to go out or do anything. Hopefully, the lockdown will not last too long. Try and make it an experience.

5 – Stay safe

Perhaps most importantly, make sure you follow all the government guidelines on staying healthy during the Coronavirus outbreak. Stay inside; look after each other; don’t take risks. If someone in your household starts to show symptoms, isolate.

The goal of the lockdown is to stop the virus being from transferred between people. While it’s natural that you want to spend time with your children, think about what you could be bringing into your home, or sending out to your ex-partner’s home.

Find out more

No one is saying this lockdown is going to be easy. However, with a bit of flexibility, communication and common sense, we can all get through it.

These five points are only guidelines. Also, everyone’s circumstances will be different. If you’re concerned about your individual situation regarding your family under lockdown, it’s a good idea to get legal advice.

Further information

At Couchman Hanson, our solicitors genuinely care about getting the best outcome for you. We’re highly professional, with ‘city’ level talent and experience, but also friendly and welcoming. Everything we do fits with our values of integrity, honesty and authenticity.

Call 01428 722189 or visit couchmanhanson.co.uk.

Birdland Park

Round & About

Kids

If you’re looking for a day out to avoid all the pre-Christmas chaos that already seems to have taken hold, how about a day out at Birdland Park & Gardens?

A pandemonium of parrots has flocked there in recent weeks with some colourful new residents moving in to the park which is now home to 16 different parrot species.

The Cotswold-based wildlife attraction has constructed six new aviaries with two more to be completed in the coming months where visitors can view the new species including the kea and long billed corella.

As part of the new features Birdland in Bourton-on-the-Water is also raising awareness about the conservation and welfare work being done by the World Parrot Trust. The charity is currently focussing on raising funds and awareness to help support the endangered scarlet macaw.

Birdland manager Simon Blackwell said: “We’re very pleased to be able to support such a worthy cause here at Birdland.

“The conservation work the World Parrot Trust undertakes is vital in raising awareness about the risks faced by all parrot species in the wild which include loss of habitat and capture for the illegal trade in wild birds.

“The additional aviaries which have been constructed here are already home to a pandemonium of parrots, the collective term for a group of the birds, and they’ve settled in really well,” he added.

There are 387 species of parrots, known scientifically as Psittacine, and most species are native to the tropical and subtropical regions of Australia, Asia, Central and South America and Africa.

For video of just some of the attractions at Birdland, click here:

Half term at National Trust

Round & About

Kids

Autumn is the perfect time to get outside with the family and create unforgettable moments this October half-term. With all kinds of family-friendly events, woodland adventure days and spooktacular Halloween trails on offer, the kids won’t get bored at the many National Trust properties in the area.

Here are just a few ideas for you –

The Vyne, near Basingstoke, RG24 9HL (just over the border in Hampshire) 
01256 883858
Young witches, ghosts and all manner of things can wander The Vyne’s gardens enjoying Halloween trails for all ages. Two mysterious trails will keep under 7s and over 8s entertained. Families can embark on their challenge by paying normal admission and £2 for each Halloween trail sheet at Visitor Reception from Saturday 26th October to Sunday 3rd November, 10am-5pm
Halloween spotter trail (up to age 7)
In the gardens, collect your £2 activity sheet from the Halloween tent and look out for 10 photos of animals mistakenly linked with witchcraft. Return your completed sheet to the tent for a chocolate prize. £2
Halloween rune trail (ages 8+)
On this mystical adventure through The Vyne’s gardens, decipher 16th-century runes to reveal a secret word. Collect your £2 activity sheet from the Halloween tent and look out for ten signs hidden around the gardens. Each sign will translate a symbol into a normal letter. Write each letter in the corresponding box on your activity sheet to work out the mystery word. At the end, return to the Halloween tent to collect your chocolate prize. £2

Hatchlands Park 
There’s a whole host of activities at Hatchlands Park this half term including plenty of pumpkins for you to carve and a new trail in the parkland. The little ones can scamper about in the tree house and bug burrow. Explore Wizard Wix’s Willow Warren and get to grips with hand-crafted willow tunnels, domes, balance beams, sculptures and a totem pole.
October half-term trail 
Saturday 26th October to Sunday 3rd November, 10am-4pm
Pick up a sheet from reception to discover forgotten folklore and seasonal superstitions on a trail through the parkland and claim your pumpkin prize at the end. £3

Dapdune Wharf 
As darkness falls on Saturday 26 October, test your fitness and your fears in the 2k night time run around the haunted Wharf and island. Look out for the witch of the Wharf and a string of spooky surprises on the way. 2k run, jog or walk.  Soup from 4.30pm, warm up from 6pm.  Run starts at 6.15pm
Dressing up encouraged.
£2.50 for bowl of soup and fun run.
Booking essential, call 01483 561389

Petworth House and Park 
Visit Petworth House and Park this October half-term and join in some awesome autumnal fun. Take part in the fun, imaginative trail, helping a little bat plan a party. Plus make your own Bat Box at one of our craft days over half term.
Autumn Trail 
26th October – 3rd November, 10am-4pm
It’s party time at Petworth! One of the young bats is throwing a huge spooky Halloween bash for the creatures in the Pleasure Ground but he can’t find any of them. Some of the animals are just too scared of bats to come to the party. Can you find them and discover if bats are as scary as they think?
Find all of the animals and answer the questions on the trail sheet to complete the trail and win a prize.
The trail is suitable for children aged 5 and upward and is accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs. Prizes can be claimed at either Church Lodge or Car Park Receptions. £3
Spot the pumpkins 
Pumpkins have been spotted growing in the strangest of places at Petworth this Autumn. Some have even popped up in the mansion! Can you help find them for our house team? Find them all and get a sticker reward. £3
Halloween Crafts ‘Make Your Own Bat Box’ 
29th, 30th and 31st October, 11am-4pm
Come to one of the autumn craft sessions and build and decorate your very own bat box to take away and hang in your garden. £5

Find out more

For more details about these and other events at National Trust properties

Half term at National Trust

Round & About

Kids

Autumn is the perfect time to get outside with the family and create unforgettable moments this October half-term. With all kinds of family-friendly events, woodland adventure days and spooktacular Halloween trails on offer, the kids won’t get bored at the many National Trust properties in the area.

Here are just a few ideas for you –

Basildon Park, near Reading, RG8 9NR  
01491 672382
Whether it’s brilliant autumn sunshine, or slightly damp autumn drizzle, there are plenty of opportunities for children to get out of the house this October half-term and enjoy Basildon Park. There’s the Wild Play Trail, open all year round, the half-term trail, and a natural play area for little ones. Come along and get stuck into a day out at Basildon Park from Saturday 26th October until Sunday 3rd November.
Half-term trail: Minibeasts 
Pick up a trail leaflet from visitor reception and search the parkland for creepy crawlies to win a prize. £2

The Vyne, near Basingstoke, RG24 9HL (just over the border in Hampshire) 
01256 883858
Young witches, ghosts and all manner of things can wander The Vyne’s gardens enjoying Halloween trails for all ages. Two mysterious trails will keep under 7s and over 8s entertained. Families can embark on their challenge by paying normal admission and £2 for each Halloween trail sheet at Visitor Reception from Saturday 26th October to Sunday 3rd November, 10am-5pm
Halloween spotter trail (up to age 7)
In the gardens, collect your £2 activity sheet from the Halloween tent and look out for 10 photos of animals mistakenly linked with witchcraft. Return your completed sheet to the tent for a chocolate prize. £2
Halloween rune trail (ages 8+)
On this mystical adventure through The Vyne’s gardens, decipher 16th-century runes to reveal a secret word. Collect your £2 activity sheet from the Halloween tent and look out for ten signs hidden around the gardens. Each sign will translate a symbol into a normal letter. Write each letter in the corresponding box on your activity sheet to work out the mystery word. At the end, return to the Halloween tent to collect your chocolate prize. £2

The Buscot and Coleshill Estates, near Faringdon, SN6 7PT 
01793 762209
As we head into Autumn, we’re making the most of the last summer sunshine and welcoming in the season of golden hues. With half-term fun at Badbury woods on our Autumn Scavenger hunt for children, flower arranging with pumpkins workshop and our November term of Coleshill Critters.
Autumn scavenger hunt at Badbury Woods
Monday 28th October – Friday 1st November, 11am-2pm
Become a nature detective and see what you can find in the woods. £3

Chastleton House and Gardens, near Moreton-in-Marsh, GL56 0SU 
01608 674981
Join the Halloween spooky ghosts and ghouls themed trail at Chastleton in the Cotswolds, abundant in local tales and legends of spooky happenings and ghoulish goings on. The house at Chastleton, however, is not known for its ghost stories and there are no tales of spooky sightings or strange feelings passed down from generation to generation.
But this Halloween half term, explore some of the local legends and stories from around the area in the ghosts, witches and ghouls trail running from Saturday 26th October to Sunday 3rd November, 1pm – 4pm. £2.50

Greys Court, near Henley, RG9 4PG
01491 628529
Whether it’s brilliant autumn sunshine, or slightly damp autumn drizzle, there are plenty of opportunities for children to get out of the house this October half-term and enjoy Greys Court. The half term trail will run from Saturday 26th October to Sunday 3rd November, where you can pick up a trail for £2 and find clues to win a prize.
October half-term: Loads of leaves 
Pick up a trail leaflet and wander the estate in search of clues celebrating the autumn colour. £2
Den-building 
Create a shelter for yourself this October half-term in the den-building area down near the play area. You’ll find plenty of sticks, logs and twigs to create your ideal hideout.

Find out more

For more details about these and other events at National Trust properties