My First BIG Concert with the Children

Last year I went along with a friend and her daughter to watch Ed Sheeran at the 02. It was my first real concert; by real I mean big. The first concert I ever went to was when I was 15 years old, my Dad dropped myself and a friend off at Crystal Palace to watch a selection of acts on stage, which included Take That, East 17 and Right Said Fred. I think it was a Capital FM Roadshow at Crystal Palace. I remember the car journey there and being really excited that I was off to watch the bands that I loved to sing along to. I remember screaming along with the rest of the crowd when the acts entered the stage. I remember dancing away to their songs and not being able to sleep for days after with the sheer sense of euphoria.

I wanted my children to have that special memory, I wanted their first concert experience to be a memorable one. I wanted my boys to experience being in an arena filled with thousands of people screaming their heads off while a musician ran around a lit-up stage, belting out hit after hit. But above all, I wanted to be their with them whilst they had this experience.

After watching Ed at the 02 in 2017, I decided that when he next went on tour I would try to get tickets for myself and the boys to go. We all really enjoy listening to his songs, so I thought that it would be a brilliant choice as a first concert to attend for the children. I managed to grab 3 tickets to see him at Wembley, it wasn’t a choice venue as I would have preferred the 02. Not only is the 02 nearer to us but it is also a smaller venue than Wembley, But nevertheless we got tickets and that’s all that matters.

So last week, the boys and I jumped on the train straight from school and headed on over to Wembley Stadium. We were all very excited and the boys couldn’t wait to get into the Stadium. As soon as they saw Wembley Stadium, there mouths dropped agape. It is huge!

We had bought seating tickets as the youngest is only 10 and children have to 12 to be standing in the arena. Unfortunately, our tickets were not amazing ones. We were quite high up but we were to the side of stage so we had a good view. It helped that the stage was massive and Ed and his supporting artists stood at the front which meant you could see them.

We had made our way to our seats and got comfortable ready to see the supporting acts; Jamie Lawson and Anne Marie. I must say they were both great but Anne Marie was brilliant. It helps if you know the songs of the artists to really enjoy the experience. My boys were singing along and really getting into the mood. The artists were warming up the, now very crowded, stadium.

We were having a lovely evening and I wouldn’t have wanted to be there with no one else.

We laughed, we smiled,we danced, we sang, we screamed, we bounced, we held hands and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

I had never seen my younger son dance so much, he jumping about to the music and singing at the top of his lungs.

I will never forget the sheer excitement on my boys faces as Ed Sheeran came onto stage, I didn’t think their smiles could get any bigger

I knew that this night would be a night that they wouldn’t forget, etched in their memories, the night that they went to their first concert with their Mum.

We finished the evening with sore throats and tired feet.

We left before Ed finished his set as I knew just looking at the amount of people in that stadium that there was no way we were going to get out of their in a hurry. It was late already and we were getting very tired. We was very lucky, even though the crowds were gathering at the exits, that we managed to get out without any stalling and actually got a seat on the train.

The boys had a little nap on the train as we had many stops to get home. It was a very late night for them but worth it.

We now all have the concert bug and are looking for our next one to attend. Although, I think we will make sure that its at the 02 next time as Wembley is just too huge a little too far for us to go to.

 

 

 

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Damn, I’ve forgotten why I came in here! Chemo Brain

For the past couple of years,I have had problems with short term memory loss and finding it hard to concentrate. It has been particularly bad since I had treatment for Cancer.

Have you ever heard of chemo brain? Very similar to baby brain. It is a common term that is used by cancer survivors to describe thinking and memory problems. It’s not clear what causes the signs and symptoms of memory loss in cancer survivors, it could be the stress of the diagnosis or the effect of the chemicals in the treatment.

I was told that the side effects from the treatment would take up to 6 months to get out the bodies system, although it doesn’t seem to be the case with me.

I would like to think that I am not losing my memory and that I am just letting go of my past. But, it’s short term that I am struggling with. Those simple tasks that we take for granted.

I find myself walking into a room and forgetting what I went in there for. I can stand there for a while trying to remember what It is that I am meant to be doing, but it doesn’t help.

I find that words don’t flow from my mouth anymore and I get struck for the choice of words I am looking for. I get tongue-tied, I know what I want to say but it doesn’t come.

I write myself notes and set the calendar on my phone to remind myself of what I am doing. But it is mostly those moments where you decide to do something at that moment; those on the spur moments, that I forget. Like going upstairs to grab a top but coming back downstairs with nothing as I couldn’t remember what it was that I wanted. Or, whilst cooking the dinner, I may look in the cupboard for an ingredient and forget what it is I am looking for.

I sometimes find myself confused and feeling of mental fogginess. I used to love to read a book but I find it hard to concentrate on the words, they seem to be covered in a fog within my head and I forget what I have read.

Those moments do come back to me, But I have to trace back to the moment I thought of something for it to come back.

Last year, I started a college course and I am normally organised with work loads. But, I have been finding it hard to learn the new skills. I forget what I am writing half way through the sentence. The course is taking longer to get through but I am managing it, essays are taking double the time and I have to re-read every sentence a few time for it to make sense.

Maybe I am just getting old, maybe it has nothing to do with the treatment. I think I would like to think the latter.

 

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I Am Not a Survivor But I Am Thankful: Life after Cancer

It’s been two years since I received the news that I had Cancer. The past two years have been a roller-coaster journey with emotions and life.

The first year was hard, I didn’t know what the outcome of my treatment would be. I lived for the day, scared to make plans for my future. Scared for every appointment I had with my surgeon and oncologist.

It was hard to take it all at first, I had so many thoughts and feelings. Shock, anger, sadness, guilt, fear, anxiety and alone. My emotions caused confusion and mood swings. These emotions were all a part of me coming to terms with my illness and how I was going to cope. In that first week, I experienced every emotion possible that someone can go through.

You hear so many sad stories about Cancer that is it hard to stay positive. But I tried for the sake of my family and my own sanity.

Having Cancer can quickly take over your life and I didn’t want that the happen. There were days where I cried from morning to night, days where I didn’t talk and days where that’s all I wanted to do. I was afraid that I had not control over my body and what i wanted it to do. At first it was hard to talk about, I was ashamed of myself, my mind was trying to process what was happening and I just couldn’t get my head around it. My mind was telling me that I was going to die but my heart was saying something else. As the shock wore off it became easier and I became stronger with my emotions.

Everyday I woke to another day I was grateful and thankful.

For the first 6 months the treatment and illness quickly took over my life. I spent weeks having tests prior to 6 weeks of daily chemo/radiotherapy. The hospital became my second home. I was admitted three times into hospital, totalling 9 weeks in a hospital bed, one being a planned admission for surgery. I remember visiting a friend 2 months after I was discharged and bumping into a member of staff in the corridor. She gave me a friendly smile and said nice to see you back. I smiled back at her and she said ‘you used to work here didn’t you?’ I laughed.

As time has gone on it’s got easier to deal with but that doesn’t mean that I still have my moments. I still cry. I am still anxious about it returning. It is easier to talk about now, but I am still shameful. I still blame myself.

Anxiety is hard to deal with. Those moments are particularly harder when it comes to oncology appointments and scans. I receive 4 scans a year; 1 full body scan and 3 MRI. The week running up to the appointment is worrying and the weeks following the scan can be an anxious time. All you want to hear is that the Cancer has not returned. Sitting there in the patients chair in the oncologists room, looking, scanning over your oncologists face for any sign that you can read before the words come from their mouth. Looking into their eyes for sign of good news. And the emotion of a sudden relief when it comes back as positive news.

It was two years since my diagnosis last week and I received news from a recent scan that I am still in the clear of any return of tumours or any inflamed lymph nodes. RELIEF. I can suddenly breathe normally again and allow all those negative thoughts and feelings out into the air. Until next time…

Again I am grateful and thankful to be here surrounded by loved ones; family and friends.

I don’t see myself as a survivor as Cancer will remain with me for the rest fo my life, I have to live with the anxiety of it possibly returning. I have to live with the change that it has caused to my emotional well-being. I am constantly reminded of my Cancer journey with the disfigurement it has left on my body, with the aches and pains that the treatment has caused and with the scars that surgery has left behind. I have to live with having a permanent colostomy which has caused problems with my confidence. And I have to live with seeing the pain in my loved ones eyes when they remember what we have all been through. Cancer didn’t just affect me but to all those around me.

I am not a survivor but I am thankful.

 

 

 

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BBC ANNOUNCE MORE TOP NAMES FOR ITS FIRST EVER FAMILY FESTIVAL

Taking place on August 3 to 5 at Croxteth Country Park in Liverpool, CBBC Summer Social is the biggest ever kids event, and the only festival to give 6-12year old’s and their families a unique lineup of CBBC favourites, alongside a host of international music acts including Union J, Johnny Orlando, Matt Terry and Mackenzie Ziegler.

CBBC Summer Social is being organised in partnership with Liverpool City Council and forms part of Liverpool 2018 – a year of projects marking a decade since Liverpool was European Capital of Culture.

Max and Harvey, Sophia Grace, KIDZ BOP and more were recently added to the line up.  Having previously announced a range of international music acts including Union J, Johnny Orlando, Mackenzie Ziegler and Matt Terry alongside CBBC favourites Mr Tumble, Swashbuckle’s Cook and Line, Andy Day, and Sam and Mark, to name a few, brand new festival CBBC Summer Social has added a second wave of incredible artists to an already jam-packed line-up.

Needing no introduction, teen music sensations Max and Harvey, who’s refreshingly fun and authentic sound has connected with listeners across the globe racking up over four million followers on social media, have been announced for the festival. Having previously been nominated for “Muser of the Year” at the 2017 Shorty Awards which garnered over 6million total views, the singer songwriter duo’s performance is guaranteed to be a festival highlight.

Speaking about their appearance at the event, Max and Harvey said: “We are so excited to announce we’ll be heading to Liverpool this summer with CBBC!! The line-up this year is crazy; Johnny Orlando, Sophia Grace, plus so many more, and we can’t wait to see our fans. It’s going to be a legendary weekend!”

Other acts announced include online star, Sophia Grace who has three million followers on YouTube, kids’ music phenomena, KIDZ BOP, and popular Britain’s Got Talent dance act, Merseygirls, who’s energetic stage show will certainly not be one to miss.

Also joining the bill is the world famous BBC Philharmonic who will be bringing a full orchestra to the event, introducing a young audience to classical pieces in a family friendly setting.

West End and Broadway hit, Shrek the Musical, has also been added to the bill.  The theatre adaption with a feisty Princess, a lovestruck Dragon and all the charm of an Ogre. Preformances are sure to bring the magic of the big screen.

Set against the historic backdrop of the Grade II listed Croxteth Country Park, revelers can expect the very best of CBBC programming including immersive activity zones, theatre shows, interactive and inspiring art workshops, top class musical experiences, cool outdoor and sporting activates, junior discos, themed treasure hunts, gaming areas, character walkabouts, vlogger meet and greets, live appearances from the most popular children’s authors and much, much more.

Early Bird Tickets are on sale priced from £28*. To purchase tickets and for more information visit bbc.co.uk/cbbcsummersocial

*Please note, all ticket prices are per day. Booking & Transaction fees apply.

Line-up

Friday 3rd August

Featuring: Andy Day, Art Ninja, Bars & Melody, BBC Music Introducing in BBC Merseyside, Ben Shires, Clangers, Everton in the Community, Go Jetters Disco, Got What It Takes, Hacker T Dog, Johnny Orlando, Liverpool Football Club Foundation, Liverpool LIMF, Mackenzie Ziegler, Mr Tumble, Naomi Wilkinson, Opera North, The Pets Factor, Sam & Mark, Saturday Mash-Up!, The Next Step, Worst Witch. Yolanda Brown and more to be announced.

Saturday 4th August

Featuring: Andy Day, Art Ninja, Bars & Melody, BBC Music Introducing in BBC Merseyside, Ben Shires, Clangers, Everton in the Community, Go Jetters Disco, Got What It Takes, Hacker T Dog, Johnny Orlando, Liverpool Football Club Foundation, Liverpool LIMF, Mackenzie Ziegler, Mr Tumble, Naomi Wilkinson, Opera North, The Pets Factor, Royal Albert Hall, Sam & Mark, Saturday Mash-Up!, Swashbuckle, The Next Step, Union J, Worst Witch, Yolanda Brown and more to be announced.

Sunday 5th August

Featuring: Andy Day, Art Ninja, Bars & Melody, BBC Music Introducing in BBC Merseyside, Ben Shires, Clangers, Everton in the Community, Go Jetters Disco, Got What It Takes, Hacker T Dog, Johnny Orlando, Liverpool Football Club Foundation, Liverpool LIMF, Mackenzie Ziegler, Matt Terry, Mr Tumble, Naomi Wilkinson, Opera North, The Pets Factor, Sam & Mark, Saturday Mash-Up!, Swashbuckle, The Next Step, Worst Witch, Yolanda Brown and more to be ann

 

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Morning Banana Cacao Oat Cakes-No Added Sugar

These oaty muffins are an ideal choice for a nutricious breakfast option for the whole family.

While most muffins heavily rely on sugar for their sweetness, these get it from the bananas and peanut butter. They are perfect for breakfast, snack time or to grab to eat on the go. They are full of goodness, providing iron, fibre, potassium and protein.

This recipe is very versatile, it can be adapted to your liking. We have made many other versions; strawberry, blueberries, berries, walnuts and plain without the cacao powder.

Sugar-free banana, cacao and oaty muffins

Muffins full of goodness. Made from bananas, peanut butter and eggs

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Organic Whole Oats
  • 2 Eggs ( beaten)
  • 2 Bananas (Squashed)
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 2 tbsp Meridian Peanut Butter
  • 2 tbsp Raw Cacao Powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200.  

  2. Stir together, oats, baking powder and cacao powder in a bowl

  3. In a separate bowl, mash the bananas very well, then add in the peanut butter and combine

  4. Add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture and stir until just combined. At this point you can add in any other extra ingredient

  5. Pour the mixture evenly into the 12 muffin cups and bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Do not overbake, they are nice a littel goeey.

Recipe Notes

We use Meridian Peanut Butter as this has no added sugar and no use of palm oil

We like to make up batches of these muffins at the beginning of the week. They are left on the kitchen side for the children to grab in the morning before leaving for school. They also are perfect to add into lunch boxes and to eat after school club inbetween clubs.

They are so easy and quick to make.

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Motivating Test Treat Bags for Children

I don’t know about you but my son has spent the last 9 months being anxious in taking his year 6 SATs. It doesnt matter how many times I had sat down with him and tried to reassure him about the tests he still felt inadequate and kept saying that he just wasnt ready for them. We expressed this worry to his teacher, back in September, at the start of him starting year 6. His teacher was lovely and reassured him that there really wasn’t anything to worry about and that he would do fine.

Over the past few months he had become more confident in himself. With the help from his teacher and support staff, his school levels improved and he began to feel happier about taking the tests.

But this didn’t stop him from having a few moments prior to the test starting, where he began to question himself and his abilities.

His teacher was always there giving him encouragement , motivating him and instaling a sense of self belief in him.

I know, from talking to other parents and his teacher, that he was not the only one who feeling anxious about sitting the tests. Children, of such young age, shouldn’t be feeling the pressure of tests and stress. They should just be children and enjoy their time at being young and care free. They have plenty to face when they are older.

I wanted to do something for my son and all of his class friends. So I made them little treat bags with an inspirational quote attached to the back. They didn’t cost much, mostly it was time more than money.

  1. I gathered together some coloured card and small cellophane treat bags.
  2. Found an inspiration sweet quote on line. Wrote it up on word
  3. Printed off some inspirational quotes from relaxkids and laminated them
  4. Bought 6 treat bags of Starbursts
  5. Stuck on the sweet quotes onto the card and cut them out 
  6. Shared out the sweets equally and then placed them into the treat bags, folded over the edge and then stapled the card on the top
  7. Lastly, I placed the laminated quote on the back 

We handed them out to the children on the first day of their SATs. The children kept the little quote cards in their pockets and in their pencil case for the rest of the week.

I am hoping that they took that a little bit of their concern away just for a moment and showed that we care about them and beleive in them.

 

 

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Beeleigh Falls- Essex Walks

Beeleigh falls is one of the best kept secrets of Essex. A series of platforms, falls and locks, where the river Chelmer and Blackwater meet.

It’s no Niagara but it is definitely a little bit of paradise in Essex.

Last weekend, the family and I went along to explore the area. Nanny lives very close and although we have heard of the place we have never actually been there.

The sun was shining and we wanted to take the boys out for a long walk, so we headed on over to The Blackwater Rail Trail. A route that takes you along the old disused Witham to Maldon Railway Track. After walking along through the trees for about 20 minutes, we noticed on the map that we was close to Beeleigh Falls. Having no idea what it was that we were heading towards but the boys wanted to explore, we decided to make a detour.

We followed the path through Elms Farm Park, alongside the lake, where we saw the cutest dogs cooling down from the heat of the sun swimming in the lake.

We soon saw a sign for Beeleigh Locks pointing over a very old bridge.

The bridge crossed over the Chelmer and Bridgewater Navigation. The views down the river were beautiful. It was so green and peaceful.

Walking alongside the Golf Course we soon came to the first lock

Walking along the river brought back memories of when I was a child and walking along the canals where we used to live in Yorkshire.

Our afternoon leisurely stroll was turning out to be a perfect day out.

Just past the first lock and we could soon hear the gushing noise coming from the falls/weir.

We was greeted by the such beauty. Who would have thought that this natural delight was hiding behind the busy roads of Maldon, roads that we use all the time.

The water glistened as the sun shone down onto it. Reflections of trees and wild shrubs looked back at us as the gentle breeze rustled in the trees. There was every shade of green on the spectrum. It was calm and peaceful.

A perfect end to a countryside walk.

We have definitely found a new favourite place to visit in the future.

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These Wrinkles Tell a Story

At some point in our lives we all age; as we get older our skin wrinkles, creases and lines appear. When we are young our skin is springy but as we age our skin loses its flexibility.

Wrinkles are not just a sign of old age but also appear when our skin has been exposed to too much ultra violet light, through sunbathing or spending too much time outdoors.

They say that your skin tells a story.

Your skin is trying to tell you something. It’s telling a story about your health, habits and history.

My face is like a character map that defines my life. Fine lines on my forehead, represent my life: My story.

Up until 2 years ago I always thought that my skin was ageing quite well. That was until I received the biggest blow that I had the big C. Since my treatment I seem to have aged ten-fold. Lines appeared along my forehead, creases around my mouth and my hands have aged.

My youthful skin gone; instead replaced with worn out, saggy skin.

I used to fear getting old, now I embrace it. As the proverb says “Grey hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life”. Grey hair and wrinkles are a sign of a life that has been lived.

These lines across my face tell a story of where I have been and what I have gone through. Just like a scar they are a reminder that life still exists.

Wrinkles around my eyes indicate where laughter and smiles once were. Memories of watching my children, laughing at their antics.

The puffy dry, sunken eyes from all of the tears that have fallen on to the cheeks below.

They show the sheer exhaustion that comes with parenting, the years of sleepless nights and early mornings.

The deep lines show the fear of receiving another diagnosis.

Creases of joy of having a wonderful family and friendship.

Memories of my youth.

They show the loneliness of what Cancer can do to you.

And they show jubilation of bringing up three amazing boys.

But most of all, each and every wrinkle, crease, crow foot and age spot shows thankfulness. Thankful that I live another day, week, month and year to carry on mapping my life.

Every Wrinkle. Every crease. Every flaw. Every age spot. Every detail maps the life that I have lived. A journey that has brought tears, worry, laughter, memories, happiness and sadness.

A journey of life.

A journey that, I hope, I will continue on. Adding on more wrinkles and lines in years to come. Adding on to my story.

These lines on my face are not wrinkles, they are survival lines. Each telling its own story of happiness and sadness.

 

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Homemade Gran-oh-la Recipe

 

Granola is quick and easy to make and is so much cheaper and healthier to make it at home rather than buy it from the shops.

Granola is perfect for breakfast or to eat as a snack throughout the day. Consisting of rolled oats, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, coconut oil and agave syrup baked in the oven until nice and golden to give it that perfect crunch. Whats great about Granola is that it is totally customizable, you can pretty much add anything to it once you have the base of oats and syrup.

A bowl full of granola can be packed full with natural nutrients, it’s so flavorful and delicious. No matter what combination you choose you can’t go wrong.

By adding in fresh fruit after rather than using dried fruit can help cut down on the sugar intake. We also used agave syrup instead of using brown sugar keeping the sugar down and creating an even more healthier go-to-snack.

I had always been worried about making Granola, thinking that It was hard to make or that it had too much sugar in it. But, it really was simple to make and enjoyed by all the family.

Once made, store it in an air tight container in the cupboard.

Granola

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

Wet Ingredient

  • 1 Cup Maple Syrup/Brown Sugar (Coconut sugar) Honey or Agave Syrup
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Oil
  • 3 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

Dry Ingredients

  • 4 Cups Organic Rolled Oats
  • 1 Cup Dessicated Coconut
  • 1 Cup Mixed Nuts and Seeds (I used walnuts, sunflower seeds, flaxseed, cacao nibs, pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 Tbsp Chia Seeds
  • 1/2 Cup Raisins or fruit
  • 1/2 Cup Sliced Almonds

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven at 160

  2. Melt all of the wet ingredients on the hob. 
  3. Place the dry ingredients in a large bowl and add in the wet ingredients. Mix together until all coated.
  4. Line baking tray with baking paper and coat the granola mixture evenly over the paper
  5. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden. Mix it all up half way through, I added some more Agave Syrup so that it clumped together

I prefer to eat my granola with natural yoghurt and fresh berries and my children liked eating there’s at lunch time on its own.

Granola is perfect to eat at anytime of the day.

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The Most Love-a-Bull Animation: Ferdinand Review

Blue Sky Studios and director Carlos Sadanha (Rio, Ice Age) brings you FERDINAND.

ferdinand

A charming tale of a giant – lover not a fighter – bull with a big heart. After being mistaken for a dangerous beast, he is captured and torn from his home. Determined to return to his family, he rallies together a misfit team for the ultimate adventure and proves you can’t judge a bull by its cover.

Inspired by the beloved book “The Story of Ferdinand,” FERDINAND (Voice of John Cena) is a heartwarming family comedy adventure with an all-star cast that includes John Cena, Kate McKinnon, David Tennant, Sally Philips, Gina Rodriguez, Anthony Anderson and many more.

We was sent the DVD to coincide with the Digital Download, Blu-ray and DVD release on 16th April.

The boys were really excited to watch this new animation. I must say it was the quietest my boys had been all Easter holidays. From the moment the film started to the end, I didn’t hear a peep from them-apart from giggles.

“My brother and I watched ‘Ferdinand’ and we thought it was hilarious, but also upsetting at times. Ferdinand is a great film and I would recommend it to all ages, young and old. Our favourite bits were the ‘Last Battle’ and ‘The bull in a China Shop’ because they were both funny and dramatic. My favourite character was ‘Paco’ who makes a great comedy duo with Ferdinand, his ‘brother’.”

Ferdinand really is a love-a-bull rogue who inspires the world by just being himself. He is unlike his stable mates whose ultimate goal is to face a matador in an arena, Ferdinand just wants to smell flowers. He has an unlikely bond with a young girl (Nina)

The movie is delightful with cute animation. A story of love and friendship that makes a great family movie.

SPECIAL FEATURES INCLUDE:

  • Ferdinand’s Guide to Healthy Living with John Cena
  • A Goat’s Guide to Life
  • Ferdinand’s Team Supreme
  • Spain Through Ferdinand’s Eyes
  • Confessions of a Bull-loving Horse
  • Creating the Land of Ferdinand
  • Anatomy of a Scene: The Bull Run
  • Learn to Dance with Ferdinand
  • Ferdinand’s Do-It-Yourself Flower Garden
  • Creating a Remarka-Bull Song
  • “Home” Music Video
  • Art of Ferdinand Gallery

Get set for a belly full of laughs!

FERDINAND charges onto Digital Download on 10th April and on 4K Ultra HD™, Blu-ray™ and DVD on 16th April

We was sent a copy of the DVD for the purpose of this review

 

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