At the moment we are all experiencing big changes in our lifestyles and missing visiting close family and friends is one of them.
There are many ways that we can keep in touch; by phone, video calling, texts’ and emails but the one thing that we can not do is touch or hug them. I know my boys have been finding it hard not seeing their Nan and the one thing they miss the most is not being able to give her a hug. There’s nothing quite like a hug from your Nan.
We don’t live near to my Mum, so we only normally see her on a weekend or over a half term holiday. With lockdown now going into the 7th week and with both my Mum and myself shielding because of vulnerability, we haven’t been able to see her since February.
Our phone calls often end with my Mum having a little cry as she misses the boys so much. So we really wanted to do something a little special for her. I had seen on the internet about sending a hug to a loved one in the post. Making a doorstep visit wouldn’t be possible either as I know that would be just too upsetting for Nan to see the boys and not be able to hold them close to her.
So as we can’t see my Mum in person or give her a hug, we decided to send her one.
Sending a hug in the post
You will need:
Plain paper – Pastel or white
Pencil and pen or felt tip
The hug needs to be long enough to wrap around someone’s body. So take a few pieces of paper and glue them together so that you make one long piece of paper.
Place your left hand on the paper and draw around it. You need to draw the arm too
Make sure that the hand that you are drawing around has the finger tips towards the top of the paper.
Now draw around your right hand and arm
Using a ruler, connect the lines of the arm together.
You should now have one long arm with a hand on both ends
Make sure that the thumbs are pointing upwards, just as you would hug someone
Cut it out
Now you have a personalised hug to send to a loved one in the post. You can draw in details on the hands , like finger-nails or knuckles. You could even colour the nails in or add in a watch or bracelet. Anything to make it personal.
We wrote a message on both sides. The messages are some that we just googled and copied
Now all that is left to do is send it to someone who you want to hug.
Last weekend we went to meet a man about a dog, literally! Well, not a man but a lady. A friend had put onto social media that they were looking for a family to take on their Greyhound. The lady was a Greyhound racer and the dog wasn’t getting on well with chasing the hare so she had decided to find a home for her.
A few months ago, we had decided as a family that we would like to introduce a new pet to the home. It is something that we have talked about for years but have never actually done anything about it. After many conversations and taking to google on searching what type of dogs would suit our family we had come to the conclusion that we would look into rehoming a Border Collie.
After passing our home visit we arranged a day and time that we could visit a rescue centre that mainly rehomed Border Collies or Sheepdogs, this place was over 130 miles away. On the day, we packed up the car and took to the long journey ready to find our forever pet. The children were excited and couldn’t wait to meet some dogs. Unfortunately, after meeting a handful of dogs we hadn’t found a dog that seemed to be just right for us. The centre showed us a few pups and we said that we wasn’t really interested in puppies and one of the dogs didn’t even want our boys near him. We were then introduced to a female dog who was lovely but was very scared of the boys. Not one of the dogs we saw was a Border Collie. Disheartened, we drove away without a dog.
In the following weeks, we talked about wether we should get a dog or not and come to the conclusion that we will keep looking but more locally to out home.
A couple of weeks ago, My partner saw a post on Facebook about a Greyhound needing to be rehomed. The post was from someone he had known for a while, since school. Last Sunday we drove to Ware, Hertfordshire to a Greyhound Trainers home where they had loads of dogs that they trained for racing. They had a few that were being rehomed due to retiring from racing. Suzie was brought out to us and she instantly made her way over to the boys. She was quiet and seemed to be scared of us, but we was reassured that that was just her nature. So after a little walk around and some bonding time with her we decided to take the plunge and take her home with us. Suzie is 17 months old, so a little young for retirement but she didn’t race that much as she just didn’t take to chasing the hare and didn’t show much interest in racing.
Suzie becomes Luna
We soon found out that Suzie wouldn’t come when we called her name and she showed no response at all whenever we mentioned he name. After calling out a few names to her she eventually came running to us when we called Luna. Suzie was her racing name and I don’t think it had been used that much. So Suzie became Luna. Her ears prick up when we call her and she runs from room to room whenever she hears her name. Luna just suits her more.
Luna seems to have settled in well, it’s all new to her but also to us. We haven’t owned a dog in a long time. It will be learning curve for all of us. Luna hasn’t spent time in a home so she needs to learn what home life is like. As soon as we introduced her to her bed she soon took ownership of it and now spends most of her time on (when she isn’t lounging on my sofa, that it!)
What we have learned so far
She doesn’t know how to sit (we are training her with treats)
Her favourite toy is a teddy
Luna loves to have cereal for breakfast
She adores the boys but especially loves to play with the youngest
She will snatch clothing and take it to her bed
Snacks will be taken and she will only eat them on her bed or outside
She will just lay on her bed watching tv
Walks on the lead but likes to run off lead
Luna knows that the front door is the way out for a walk
Doesn’t bark but does whine
Is quickly learning that if she stands by the back door then she will be let out into the garden
Loves to play with a football
Enjoys running around with the children
Will only do her toilet in the garden and not when out on her walk
Is already learning the routine of early morning walks and waits by the door for me
Sniffs a lot
Loves to sit on the sofa when we are not around
A bit weary of the stairs and hasn’t quite ventured up the stairs but is showing interest of going up
Sleeps all night in her bed (probably on the sofa too, as soon as she knows that we are asleep)
Loves a treat
When we first took her out on a walk, Luna had no idea! She would cut you up – walking from the left to the right. Now she walks by our sides and waits when we tell her to at the roadside and comes when given the order.
We are extremely happy that Luna is no longer a racing dog but now a member of our family
The change is almost over night; one day you have an adoring young child who would do anything for you to make you happy and the next BAM! You’re faced with a moody, angry teen who slouches around the house and argues back at you when you ask them to do a chore.
Now, I am quite lucky that most of these signs I only had when my son went into secondary school and, to be fair, they didn’t last for long (maybe a year or so). I think it took me falling ill for him to shake his butt and get a grip with his emotions and feelings. Some of the signs are still happening and, well, I could be talking about the significant lazy other half too! (but that’s another blog post lol)
We all have our own experiences with our teens – some good, some bad. Here are some that I have experienced with my sons:
They no longer feel the cold and go out without wearing a coat in the Winter. Wearing a coat is to uncool!
Teenagers know everything! There is no need to use the internet anymore, just ask your teen. Oh, and they have an answer to everything too (that’s if you can hear them talking through their mumbling)
There is no need for a cloak cupboard anymore, teens will leave their coat and bags at the front door as soon as they enter. They say it’s easier for them to grab the next day
They have a better social life than you. As soon as they turn 13 they will be attending anyone and everyone’s party.
They live in their bedrooms. You will never see them unless there is food on the table and it’s time to eat
They begin to mumble in a low voice when they are talking to you. You will never make out what they are saying
You will never get to use your own charger anymore as it will be claimed by them to charge their tablets or phones
They want every item of clothing to be designer and are no longer happy with Primark or high street clothing
Their friends are allowed to do EVERYTHING that are not allowed to do and you will constantly hear about a friend who can do what they want
If they DO pick up their dirty dishes and cutlery and take it to the kitchen, it will not make it into the sink but instead it will be left next to the sink ready for the cleaning fairy to wash them
You will find dirty, stinky socks all over the house. Say goodbye to pairing them up, you will have odd socks everywhere
They constantly have their phone next to them, headphones plugged in. Now, I’m pretty sure that they are not even listening to anything it’s just a way for you to not talk to them
Sleep. They can sleep all day long. It may be because they don’t got to sleep until the early hours as they have spent most of the night on social media
There is never any food in the house even though you just filled up the cupboards and fridge with food. Either they have just eaten it all or they mean that there are no snacks for them to grab and eat straight away
Say goodbye to that expensive hair shampoo or body lotion that you save for special occasions as it will get used almost immediately. Oh, and your bathroom will have a cloud of smoke in their from all of the deodorant that was sprayed.
Don’t worry, the teen years don’t last for long, You will soon have that loving little child who once ran from their classroom door straight into your arms because they were thrilled to see you. They no longer fit onto your lap for a cuddle and you may have to stand on a stool to hold them in your arms again but their loving and caring side soon comes back.
The time has eventually come for my little boy to leave junior school; the school that he has been a pupil at for 8 years. That is a big chunk of our children’s lives. Their junior school is all they know. A place where they made their first friends, where they learnt to read and write, where they were taught discipline and where they grew into the children that they now are.
My son has learnt so much more than I ever thought would be possible.
He has learnt how to overcome difficulties and not see them as a chore but to tackle them head on and come out winning.
He will be leaving year 6 with skills that will guide him on his way into year 7.
He will be leaving with hope and dreams.
He has learnt that with the right mindset that he can go anywhere and be anything that he wants to be. He has learnt that anything is possible with determination and drive; focused on achieving and pushing himself academically to the next level.
He leaves year 6, leaving his nest and soaring into the sky. Reaching for his dreams, following his heart and soul. He is leaving behind his past and spreading his wings and flying to bright future.
On Friday we held hands the whole way to school for the last time. I held onto it tightly. For 20 minutes we held hands and talked.
We talked about our memories of school and how much he has progressed in the last year.
It was emotional knowing that this was our last journey to his school together. There may have been a few tears hidden under my sunglasses.
My little boy is now a big boy. How am I going to cope?
He told me, on our last journey together, that he wasn’t ready to leave, he didn’t want to go to secondary school. This got me choked.
I know he is ready but the fact that he feels he is not is upsetting.
I told him that he has to leave in order to climb that mountain and make his way to greater places.
He takes with him amazing friendships and memories that will stay with him forever.
I savoured every step and I breathed in every moment. I held his hand like it was a piece of me.
His next journey to school will be with his older brother in September. I will not be holding his hand nor will he be receiving a kiss at the gate to his school.
It’s time for him to climb the mountains and soar high into the sky, showing everyone that there is no limit to what he can achieve.
It’s time for him to refuse to be average and disembark on a new adventure, to make new memories and bonds with new friends.
The Warner Bros Studio Tour recently invited us along to witness the new additional special feature to the Making of Harry Potter. The tour has launched behind the scenes secrets to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the special feature is dedicated entirely to the fourth instalment of the film.
The Goblet of Fire has not been in the Great Hall since 2010, when the filming of the magical film finished, it has now returned to it rightful place and will be there for everyone to witness from now until Sunday 23rd September 2018.
Harry Potter has always been a huge thing for me, reading all the books and then watching the films. I remember thinking how I couldn’t wait to read the books to my first-born 15 years ago and hopefully share the excitement and love I had for the characters. Harry potter is one of those books that you can read again and again. Both my eldest and middle boy have read all of the books and, along with me, have been drawn into the exciting world Of Harry Potter.
As you first arrive into Warner Brothers tour you will see the Triwizard Cup on display, just as you are queuing up to enter.
When you first buy your ticket to the tour you can choose the time to enter. Everyone gathers around the entrance and you are all taken into a room with tvs mounted on the walls all around you. Here you get to watch short clips of how Pottermania began and the history of the making of the films. An interactor – a member of staff who knows a hell of a lot about Harry Potter- gives a short talk about what to expect to see throughout the tour, they also get you all into the mood by asking what house everyone belongs to. Everyone cheers when your house is called. Once this is over, you are all moved along into a cinema screening room where you watch another short clip where the actors share some of their memories of making the films. Once this is finished the screen is pulled up and behind it a big curtain is drawn open and the lights go on to reveal a huge impressive door. People whose birthday it is are shared to open the great big door. As soon as that door opens, everyone’s mouths are agape as this is the start of something special. You enter into the Great Hall, and Great it is! It is amazing and such a dramatic entrance. You quickly realise what magical, truly magnificence you are about to see.
The Great Hall was where the students and teachers dine and congregate is was also the place where the announcement of the Triwizard tournament took place.
Standing at the end of this impressive room was the Goblet of Fire, along with the age line and the twins on the floor.
Here we got see a live Special Effects demonstration on how the Triwizard Champions’ parchments were expelled from the Goblet. We watched as the Goblet spat out Harry’s name on a piece of burning parchment as the fourth champion in the triwizard tournament.
We was all told to stand around the age line drawn on the floor, obviously there is always one person who tries their luck. Just like the Weasley twins, my Oliver attempted to cross the line but I caught him just in time.
You are in the Great Hall for a short time but this is where you can head of on your own and go at your own speed throughout the rest of the tour. As you leave the Great Hall and head on into the first backlot you can grab a souvenir parchment to keep for yourself.
The first backlot is full of props and costumes from the set. Here we got to see the sculpture from the Yule Ball
along with the iconic taps from the Prefect Bathroom. On the advice from Cedric Diggory, Harry took a trip here in order to complete the first challenge. These taps have 53 spouts, cast in real bronze for strength and durability, they expel a rainbow of coloured water just as they did in the film.
They really are mesmerizing, we stood for a while just watching the water spurt out of the taps.
Every part of this tour is breath-taking, from the golden eggs to the costumes and props from the films.
It’s hard to know what was new for the tour and what was there previously. There are so many things to look at that I am sure we missed so many items. By the time the production of Harry Potter had finished in 2011, five warehouses had been filled with thousands of props that had been used by the actors and as set decoration. Thousands of props were either made specifically for the films or bought in from speciality shops, including 5000 pieces of furniture, 12000 books and 40000 Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes products. Most of these can be seen in the tour.
The sets in the tour feel so real, It’s like you have been transported into the film yourself.
Tom Riddles grave is now in the studio tour just before the Forbidden Forest entrance in order for everyone to get a 360 tour of it. The sculpture was created before the details of Voldemort’s lineage were known meaning the dates had to be changed in post production.
One of my favourite places to see was Dumbledores office. Here we got to see Dumbledores fascination with the universe and the skies, tucked away in the upper chamber is his largest telescope.
We also got to see the Memory cabinet and the pensieve in action. Because it carries powerful and complex enchantments only the most advanced wizards can use it. obviously, that includes us!
Before we headed on into the Forbidden Forest we thought it would be best if the boys received some basic wand training. They were taken through step by step by a video of Paul Harris, the choreographer of the battle scenes in the film Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
They were now ready to face any mystical creature that we come across in the Dark Forest. As we headed through the towering trees we came across Buckbeak and Aragog
I am pleased to announce that we made it through the forest unscathed and ready to jump on to the Hogwarts Express
We had so much fun here. Most of the scenes that took place on Platform 9 3/4 were actually shot on location at Kings Cross Station in London.
We boarded the train and took our seat in one of the carriages ready to embark on a journey
During the making of the films, the windows of the carriages were replaced with moving backdrops and special effects like hopping frogs and flying dementors.
When the glass goes all icy you just know what is going to happen next.
Oh dear! My poor little wizard was very scared!
After all that excitement it was time for a spot of refreshments next to the Backlot. After eating our food the boys were treated to a Butterbear
I must admit this wasn’t very nice. I know many people who have enjoyed this beverage but we found it way too sweet for our taste buds.
The next part of the tour took us past the Knight Bus, Privet Drive, Hogwarts Bridge and any other buildings and items that were used in the outside scenes of the films.
Only one section of the Hogwarts Bridge was very built; using computer generated effects the rest of the bridge was created.
As we exited the Backlot and entered another studio this is where we came learnt all about the magical creatures, special effects, make up and prosthetics. It was lovely to see how Dobby was created and you even get to control him by moving your own limbs.
Pass through special effects area and you enter Diagon Alley.
The original design of the street was inspired from the streets described in the works of Charles Dickens. Diagon Alley constantly changed throughout the films, moving shops fronts and walls in order to create the perfect setting and was even redressed for use in the village of Hogsmeade.
We even spotted a dementor hiding down one of the alleys ready to jump out on us, lucky for us we had our wands with us and sent them packing.
We were nearing the end of our tour and didn’t think our smiles could get any bigger but as we entered the last room we were completely in awe at the majestic model of Hogwarts Castle. The intricately detailed model was built for the first film, every part of the model was filmed and then enhanced with digital effects to create the realistic views of the school.
This place is amazing! I could just sit and stare all day long at this model, it is a magnificent piece of art work. Detail is second to none, which is what we thought throughout the tour on every singe item we saw.
The castle has a new addition just for the Goblet of Fire exhibit; a scale version of the Beauxbatons carriage complete with winged horses poised to land on the Hogwarts grounds for the first time ahead of the Triwizard championship.
There are interactive screens around that give you more information on the building of the model.
Exiting the Hogwarts Castle you enter the wand room and gift shop. This is where we saw the triwizard cup.
We had an awesome time and could go back again and again as I do believe there are so many more incredible things to look at. We definitely did pursue an adventure.
We were invited along to a special preview of the Goblet of Fire exhibit. We were provided with tickets, food and had a photo opportunity. No payment has been received.