Important Announcement

We had something to tell everyone this week. But Mrs J thought it would be good if G got to make the announcement:

Mrs J is about four months pregnant and G's little brother or sister is due on 6 December.

Lego For Girls

I've written before about how I've always been keen to avoid exposing G to too much pink, in the hope that she won't grow up believing she can only do certain 'girl' things. There's not an outright ban on Disney princess stuff, but it needs to be balanced by less stereotypically girly activities. I don't have many parenting rules, but in a world of needless makeovers and colour-themed toy displays, I think this is an important one to stick to.

Lego's frankly alarming girl-focused advertising campaign is a good example of what I'm slightly anxious about. As others have pointed out, Lego used to make adverts for girls that looked like this. Clearly, something has gone wrong somewhere along the line.

Having a lie-in the other day, I was dozily aware of G emptying out her lego boxes and building things beside the bed. After a while she triumphantly produced this, which was apparently Santa's house.

The fact that she's already thinking of Christmas is a bit alarming, but that aside I'm pleased to reproduce the photo I took. No pink bricks in sight. I appreciate it's a bit ironic limiting her access to certain things in order to hopefully broaden her freedom to choose later on, but there you go.

Sandals And Raincoat

I took G to the playground at Parr Fold Park this lunchtime. It was sunny and G wanted to wear her new sandals. It was a good job I brought her raincoat too, because by the time we got there it had clouded over, and soon after it started to spot with rain.

So she played on the climbing frame with an outfit that wasn't really wholly suitable for any weather. Once she'd have got a bit upset about getting wet, but she's a bit more rough-and-tumble these days, and didn't mind getting her bum soaked as she went down the slide.

And as the video shows, G also enjoyed the swing.

Put Me In A Boat

Last week I swapped our usual Friday lunchtime swim for a trip to The Lowry museum and theatre, and a visit to their fortnightly arts and crafts session for children. Aimed at youngsters aged between two-and-a-half and four-and-a-half, it was led by a very enthusiastic woman who directed us to a table full of straws, coloured paper and paperclips, and challenged us to make something interesting.

I asked G what we should do. Given that we'd already been playing pirates at home that morning, she wanted a boat. The picture shows what we came up with. Neither art nor engineering rank anywhere in my skillset, but at least I managed to make something that stood up by itself.

G was quite excited, especially about the little gold bits of paper she cut out and added at the bottom to make treasure. So she wouldn't stand still for the photo, which is why it's a bit blurry. She had so much fun I'm sure we'll be back again soon.

Day At The Beach

We took advantage of another sunny weekend by going to the beach yesterday. Blackpool is less than an hour from where we live, although we opted for the rather gentler option of Lytham St Annes down the coast instead.

I last visited when I went on holiday there as a child, I think when I was eight or so. From what I could recall not much has really changed, except the fading seaside grandeur of the place has faded considerably more.

The beach is still pretty great though. G wanted to make sandcastles so we invested in a bucket-and-spade from one of the kiosks (she picked a Thomas one, obviously). The sand was a bit too dry on top, and we had to dig down to find some slightly damp sand so her sandcastles could maintain a bit of structural integrity. We also had lunch on the pier followed by ice creams, then I bought a stick of rock, so our day out was basically the complete seaside experience. Couldn't find anywhere selling rollmops though, so might have to try Blackpool itself next time.

The jumper G is wearing in the picture betrays the fact that despite the beautiful sunshine and cloudless sky, the sea breeze meant it was actually a bit chilly at times. In true British seaside style, next time we go I'll be taking a windbreak.

Peppa Pig World

The second half of our weekend away featured a trip to Peppa Pig World, at Paultons Theme Park in the New Forest. If you've not heard of Peppa Pig, the bossy but loveable porcine girl who stars in her own cartoon (like Thomas the Tank Engine it's shown on Channel 5 and Nick Jr, and therefore a big part of the reason why our CBeebies-watching days seem to be long behind us), then you've missed out on what can fairly be described as an all-encompassing media phenomenon.

I assumed that taking G to a whole park devoted to Peppa would be like hitting the motherlode for a three-year-old girl. And so it proved.

There are lots of rides. Here's G on a car:

There are also ample opportunities to eat sweet things. As it was a nice day, and both me and Mrs J wanted ice cream, G got one too:

This is on the helicopter-themed ferris wheel. G didn't mind the height, and actually seemed keen to go even higher:

One notable difference between Peppa Pig World and other theme parks is that, because it's aimed at the under 5s, the jaunty Peppa music is constantly being played. I'm not sure whether this is to soothe the excited children, or drown them out when they start crying. Perhaps it's both. As a result, since Sunday I've had the familiar tinkly sounds of the cartoon theme as an earworm. A small price to pay for giving G a fun day out though.

Talking of which, she was extremely well-behaved throughout, even when we wanted to leave. Although to avoid tears this did require a pre-emptive purchase of a dinosaur toy and a Peppa balloon:

Brilliantly, the balloon has a weight on the end so it not only fits around G's wrist, it also can't fly away should she let go. It's almost as if these theme park bosses have thought of everything.

The Castle And The Pageant

We're just back from a long weekend away down south. Not just because it was the first properly sunny weekend of the year (although given that it's now June, that would have counted as reason enough to celebrate with a holiday), but also due to my birthday which fell yesterday. Holidays around this time of year have proved slightly problematic in the past, but things went very well on this occasion.

The first half of the weekend had a medieval theme. Not by design you understand, but it seems that whenever you try to have a day out in rural Britain, medieval sites of vaguely historical interest somehow seem more appealing than when you were forced to go them at school.

And so on Thursday we went to Goodrich Castle. It's near where Mrs J grew up, and she confidently eschewed the audio tour when offered it at the visitor centre. I thought this might be so she could fill me in with various historical facts about the place herself as we walked around, but in reality she spent most of the time catching up with an old friend of hers, who had brought her two children along (one a little older than G). This meant that it was down to me to do actual catching up, of G and her friend as they chased each other around the moat:
I'm still not much the wiser about Goodrich Castle itself. But given that it dates from the 11th century, I'm still it'll still be there next time we're in the area.

G learned more about this period of history on Saturday, as we ended up at a medieval pageant in Somerset. Staying in a holiday cottage in the village of Templecombe for the weekend, I spotted a wooden sign advertising the pageant as a weekend-long event.

I thought it might be a few people dressed up in a field. We decided to go on Saturday lunchtime, and quickly discovered that it was quite a lot of people dressed up in a field, doing various things from jousting to playing the harp. Clearly, and rather like brass banding, medieval re-enactment is another huge British subculture I had never previously known about.

G got into the spirit of things quickly, and painted her own shield:
She then pestered us until we got her a sword as well. Normally I'm loathe to give in to this sort of thing, but she had been very well-behaved despite the surprisingly hot sun. And it meant Mrs J could take this picture of her, so it was well worth it:
As if this wasn't thrilling enough, the following day we were planning to take G to Peppa Pig World. But that proved to be so exciting, it'll really need a separate post of its own.