St David’s Day – Welsh Cake Recipe

welsh cakesIt has become a tradition in my house that we make Welsh Cakes for St David’s Day.  As a child in Wales St David’s Day was a big event.  We would go to school dressed in traditional costume. The morning would involve a special assembly during which we sang Welsh songs and presented prizes for the Welsh themed art and craft activities we had been involved in. We even had a half day to mark the occasion.

Living in England, St David’s Day is a low key affair but I always wear my daffodil and make Welsh Cakes.

Ingredients (makes approx 24)

175g( 3/4 cup) butter and lard mixed

450g (2 cups) self-raising flour

175g (3/4 cup) caster sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp mixed spice

75g (1/3 cup) currants

2 eggs

rub fat into flour
Step 1. Rub fat into flour (or tickle it)
Step 2. Add the other dry ingredients.
beat eggs
Step 3. Beat eggs and add to mixture
Step 4. Knead into a dough

(Spot the baby cunningly stealing an apple).

welsh cakes
Step 5. Cut out shapes
welsh cakes
Step 6. Cook on a griddle

Welsh cakes are traditionally cooked on a bakestone, a cast iron or steel griddle that would have been placed on the fire. If you don’t have one a heavy frying pan would suffice. Place it on the hob on a very low heat.

welsh cakes
Step 7. Sprinkle with sugar.
welsh cakes
Step 8. Eat

CBeebies -Tree Fu Tom (raising awareness of dyspraxia)

We have been  previewing a new CBeebies programme this week and we are very excited.  Not only because the wonderful David Tennant is voicing one of the main characters but also because it is well researched  and encourages children to actively participate in the story.

Former Doctor Who stars David Tennant and Sophie Aldred voice the lead characters Tom (Aldred) and Twigs (Tennant) in the new multi-platform fantasy action adventure series, Tree Fu Tom coming to CBeebies in March. Twigs is a wonderful character, beautifully animated, incredibly cute and full of vibrant energy.twigs


Aimed at four to six year olds, Tree Fu Tom is set in an enchanted world where movement creates magic. Tom appears to be a normal eight-year-old boy but putting on his magic belt and performing a special sequence of magic action-movements (known as Tree Fu) transforms him into a tiny but mighty magical super-hero.
All of the Tree Fu magic moves that children are encouraged to copy are developed from therapeutic techniques that are used to help children with movement disorders like dyspraxia, but are designed to assist and enhance the development of all participating children at a crucial time in their growth.

Magic is an essential part of Tree Fu Tom and children are encouraged to participate in the movement-based Tree Fu spells to affect the outcome of each episode. Dyspraxia Foundation movement specialists Sally Payne and Dr Lynda Foulder-Hughes worked closely with the series choreographer Nick Kellington to develop unique spell movement sequences that reflect the narrative of each story-line and which have a “cool” martial-arts type feel (which is particularly engaging for boys). However the programme is equally appealing to girls with its beautiful animation, captivating any girl who is interested in fairies and elves.

My girls loved it (it even drew my 7 year old away from CBBC for a moment).  I asked my 3 year old what she liked about it

 I likeded the bit where he did magic – he crouchded down and jumpded like frogs and it went magic.

Participation in the magic spells was clearly a hit with her.  The nature of the programme also lends itself perfectly to becoming a Kinect game, imagine how magical it would be to copy Tree Fu Tom’s movements, creating your own spells and going on a personal, fantastical journey.

Tree Fu Tom has his own online section which includes 6 action packed games  developed in consultation with a Senior Educational Psychologist.  There will also be further support in the CBeebies Grown Ups Section.

Tree Fu Tom and Dyspraxia
Dyspraxia and coordination difficulties are common, life-long conditions that affect up to 10 per cent of school-aged children (two per cent severely). It is an impairment of the organisation of movement and is the result of an immaturity in the development of the nervous system. This means that nerve signals are not transmitted effectively from the brain to muscles, affecting a person’s ability to perform movements in a smooth, coordinated way.
Understanding of the underlying causes of dyspraxia (also known as Developmental Coordination Disorder) is limited but children who are born early, who have a low birth weight or who have a family history of dyspraxia are more likely to have the condition.
Sally adds: “Awareness of dyspraxia remains low in comparison to other common developmental disorders. Tree Fu Tom offers a unique opportunity to raise the profile of this much missed and misunderstood condition.”
Children with dyspraxia have difficulty developing the movement skills that come naturally to their peers. They often have poor balance and postural stability; find it difficult to move their arms and legs in a coordinated manner; and struggle to use both sides of their body together. Without these foundation skills it is hard for them to carry out everyday activities such as walking up stairs without tripping, bending down to pull on socks, making marks with a crayon and using a knife and fork.
Their difficulties with movement skills can often lead to children with dyspraxia falling behind at school (despite, often, having above average IQs) and having additional social challenges at school – this is especially apparent for boys whose early social interactions tend to involve physical skill-based activities such as sports.

Having worked with children with Dyspraxia in the past, I see this as a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness and support children with the condition.

Tree Fu Tom starts on Monday 5th March on CBeebies .

Win one of 2 Bedtime Story Collections for World Book Day

I am sure many of us have been involved in World Book Day activities, desperately trying to find an interesting costume for our children to dress up as.  Luckily mine have always come up with fairly simple ideas including Pippi Longstocking and Clarice Bean but when they decide they want to be the Gruffalo it becomes more of a challenge.

To take some of the stress away I am giving away 2 hardbacked bedtime story collections.  Each contains 4 picture book stories to read with young children (approx aged 6 and under).

To enter simply post a comment about the costumes you have created for world book day or if you haven’t had to do this yet your child’s favourite book character.  2 winners will be drawn at random at 11.59 on 1st March.

Terms and Conditions

  • Only available to UK resisdents
  • Only one entry per person
  • Winners will be notified by email and names published on this post on 2nd March.

Congratulations to the winners Emma Howard and Emma Kinsey

Loquax Competitions

A Song for Hungry Caterpillar Fans

Over at Science Sparks they have been having fun based on the theme of The Hungry Caterpillar.

We visited Bristol Zoo this week and the butterfly house prompted lots of questions from my 3 year old.

But how do the caterpillars turn into butterflies?

We were able to see caterpillars, cocoons and butterflies and touch the empty cases.   I promised her that when the spring comes we can rear our own butterflies using a kit we have from Insectlore.  We have done this successfully in the past before releasing the butterflies into our garden.

We have a song about the lifecycle of a butterfly that we like to sing – it’s great fun for butterfly obsessed kids.

Love to Learn on CBeebies

I don’t generally recommend young children learn by watching television but I am human and like the rest of us appreciate a bit of respite from time to time.  Now that my 3 year old no longer naps during the day, after a busy  morning at playgroup an hour watching television helps her to relax.  I don’t agree with young children watching commercial channels so always put my trust in CBeebies.

The quality of the early learning programming is generally of a high standard and well researched, we particularly like Something Special and Driver Dan’s Storytrain (especially as we are on the lookout for the episodes featuring her big sister).

At the end of February CBeebies are launching a new cluster of programming entitled  Love to Learn. This will bring together a number of programmes, which are designed to give the younger members of the CBeebies audience an introduction to literacy and numeracy. Programmes will include the new shows, Numtums and The Lingo Show, alongside new episodes of established favourites Alphablocks and Abadas. These programmes will be scheduled together allowing children to have fun while they learn their letters and get to know their numbers.
The Numtums  are cuddly Numbats (rare marsupial, native to Western Australia) each with a number on their tummy. Combining a troop of animated Numtums, children, sing-along songs and a distinctive, mixed-media style, the programme introduces the basics of number recognition and then gently moves on to counting objects and identifying amounts in a variety of fun scenarios. The series is reminiscent of the animated snippets that were a key feature of my favourite children’s programme, Sesame Street. I’m sure these will keep the children engaged and make learning fun.
I’m really looking forward to The Lingo Show .  This began life a year ago as an online brand to introduce children to a variety of languages.  It is a long time since I visited the CBeebies website, so I wasn’t aware it existed but I was very excited to see that the languages featured include Welsh. Growing up in Wales I have a very basic knowledge  of the Welsh language, but my children were captivated.  My 7 year old even wrote down a list of words to remember ( we looked at the food section). The variety of languages featured include Polish, Somali and Punjabi and this could be a really useful resource for nursery workers to learn basic vocabulary when teaching children with an additional language. The TV series will continue to introduce children to words in different languages – specifically French, Spanish and Mandarin .
The episodes see host bug Lingo send Mandarin bug Wei, Spanish bug Queso and French bug Jargonaise off into the real world to choose everyday objects and props to include in their grand finale – The Big Bug Show. Each episode focuses on one language, introducing children to six key words, plus examples of everyday vocabulary like ‘hello’, ‘thank you’ and ‘well done’. There are opportunities for children to develop both speaking and listening skills as they are encouraged to repeat words with the bugs, voiced by native speakers of the target language.  I’m  definitely    going to make time to  watch  this with the kids.

The new episodes of Alphablocks are in a slighter longer  format than in the past and will continue to use best-practice phonics teaching to help young children develop engagement and confidence with reading and making words.  For those unfamiliar with the series  Alphablocks are 26 living letters who fall out of the sky and discover that if they hold hands and make a word, it comes to life.

Abadas  aims  to help children to learn new vocabulary that corresponds to objects they come across in their everyday lives.
The new episodes feature the familiar fun faces of Hari the hippo, Ela the fox and Seren the bat (all with Welsh accents) who come to life when a pop-up book is opened. Once the book is opened, the Abadas’ world comes alive and it’s playtime for the three adventurers. Through these adventures the Abadas encourage the young audience to re-tell a story and be able to ask questions and tell others what they have learned.
The season of programming will also include repeats of the popular numbers series Numberjacks.

I hope that by scheduling these programmes together, children will become naturally inquisitive  about letters and numbers. The 5 minute programmes are perfect for young children’s attention spans and this short concentrated burst of literacy and numeracy programmes could serve as a great introduction to other hands on activities. Pre-school children do not need to learn to read, write and count but the programmes could introduce the concepts without any pressure. Take the lead from your child, if they are showing an interest you can develop it further.  The Grown Ups section of the CBeebies website has excellent articles about how to support your child’s early learning including phonics , numeracy, story telling and mark making and includes many additional activities. Over the next few weeks I will also be sharing literacy and numeracy ideas here. If there are any particular areas you would like inspiration for add a comment and I will follow it up.

The Love to Learn programmes will be on air from 27th February every weekday on CBeebies. The scheduling is 09:00 Numtums

09:05 Numberjacks

09:20 Alphablocks

09:25 Abadas .

The Lingo Show will air sometime during March.

The timings are perfectly placed just after the school run , before we go out and explore  numeracy and literacy in everyday situations.

Raising Awareness of Heart Disease

February is Heart Month over at  Little Green Blog.  The idea is that a number of guest bloggers post articles about maintaining a healthy heart.  There have been a variety of topics  and today is my turn. I am sharing my mum’s story, hoping to show that the warning signs of heart disease aren’t always obvious.

The Unlikely Candidate, Losing Your Mum to
Heart Disease.

AngelBerry Frozen Yoghurt Factory – Healthy Treats for Wallace and Gromit’s Grand Appeal

angelberry Frozen Yogurt CafeThere are times when I would like to take my kids somewhere fun to eat. Invariably we end up in an unhealthy fast food takeaway – and as for sweet treats, healthy options are few and far between.  So when we were invited to AngelBerry Frozen Yogurt Factory  for the launch of their new Bubblegum Campaign, I was keen to see whether a low-fat sweet treat would leave the children impressed .

Angel Berry Frozen Yoghurt Factory, located at Imperial Retail Park, Bristol is a new concept for this area.  The colourful, yet simple decor and uncluttered layout make it appealing for adults and children alike.

baby being fed by her sister
Try this one

We were greeted by  a cheerful and helpful assistant who showed us around the flavours and  gave us some taster pots to decide on our favourites.  This was particularly appealing to my one year old!

We were then given a larger tub and could choose as many flavours as we liked.  There are 10 different flavours at any one time and  new flavours are added regularly.frozen yoghurt pumps

At our visit they had just added Pistachio, Caramel. cake and the charity flavour Bubblegum.  During Half-Term week all proceeds from the sale of Bubblegum flavour will go to Wallace and Gromit’s Grand Appeal.

wallace and gromit grand appeal

The Grand Appeal has raised over £18 million towards the first purpose-built children’s hospital in the UK and continues to support the hospital by funding pioneering medical care and equipment, arts, music and play programmes and accommodation for the sickest children and their families.

My children couldn’t decide on a favourite flavour ( I thought  chocolate was particularly delicious) but they liked blueberry and mango a lot. After choosing a few flavours there was even more fun – adding  toppings, and boy were there a lot of them, talk about children’s heaven.

sweets - gummy bears were popular
A small selection of the many toppings available
fruit toppings
And even healthy fruit.

I am a particular fan of offering children choice and the chance to try things for themselves.  This was the perfect opportunity for children to practice using the pumps, experiment with flavours and create something beautiful.frozen yoghurt

The frozen yoghurt is priced according to weight, I’d suggest giving children the smaller sized tub or they could get eyes bigger than their belly syndrome.

eye patch
It's more fun with hands

My 3 year old is interested in exploring food with her hands at the moment and this was no exception.

baby eating

I can certainly say that the yoghurt went down well with my girls and my 1 year old had a chance to practice her new word – ‘Finished’. They certainly didn’t notice that it was a healthy option and as a huge ice-cream fan myself this is a great low-fat alternative for me.

AngelBerry has only been open for one month but is proving very popular.  AngelBerry are continually coming up with new ideas for toppings and flavours and are open to customer suggestions. I think AngelBerry would be the perfect venue for a children’s party, maybe in conjunction with the local cinema or water park.

If you are in the Bristol area and fancy taking the children somewhere different for a Half-Term treat, AngelBerry is certainly worth a visit. Don’t be put off by the cold, you can always drink coffee while the children eat the yoghurt and smoothies and milkshakes are also available. I’ll certainly be coming back.

Hopefully they will expand soon and open more venues so that I don’t have to travel so far.

AngelBerry are offering Right From the Start readers a 20% discount. Click to download a coupon 

  • This is not a sponsored post and no payment of any kind was received for writing this review.
  • In exchange for writing this review my family and I were invited to attend a launch party at the venue