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Why choosing the right lingerie is important and how to do it

When it comes to shopping, buying new lingerie is not at the top of most women’s must do list. In fact, quite a lot of us hate the idea of having to buy new underwear. Even if we make it easier for ourselves by going online and buying it from somewhere like

Why that is, I am not quite sure. But, what I do know is that taking the time to buy a couple of new bras, knickers and other items of underwear, every year, is well worth the effort.

The right underwear enables you to create the perfect silhouette                               

The underwear you wearhas a huge impact on how you look. An old bra may feel super comfortable. But, it may no longer be providing you with enough support.  Something you may only realisewhen you replace it and compare the way you look in your old and new bra. 

Be able to wear the clothing cuts you love

Choosing the right style of lingerie can also help you to be able towear the dress of your dreams. For example, if you want to wear a strapless dress, all you need to do is to add a well made strapless bodysuit to your underwear drawer. If you want to learn more about which bra or lingerie you need for a specific dress cut, you just need to read thisarticle.

OK, so that is why you should treat yourself to new lingerie at least once a year. Now, for a few buying tips.

Think about the practicalities

It is all too easy to fall in love with a particular bodysuit, bra set, slip or camisole. But, before you buy it, remember to stop and think about how practical it will be. Ask yourself if it will fit in with the clothes that you wear. 

Don’t be afraid to try something new

Over the course of a lifetime, a woman’s body goes through quite a lot of change. Usually, the underwear that suited us when we were in our 20s is not always going to work for us in our 40s.

So, it makes sense to periodically try on some different cuts. If you have been wearing balconette bras, for years, but have got a little bigger, try a demi-cup the next time you go shopping. This style of bra is more likely to offer you the additional support you may now need.

Don’t be afraid to mix up your coloursa bit. There is no need to wear black or white all the time. The 19thof October is Wear it Pinkday, which gives you the perfect chance to treat yourself to some pink lingerie to brighten up your underwear drawer. A lot of retailers will be making donations to breast cancer charities when you buy something pink, in October. It is a great way to support those who are suffering from this very common form of cancer.

More fashion articles from Suzanne Elly. If you would like to read some more of Suzanne's fashion-related posts, just click here to get started. That particular post is all about getting your wardrobe ready for when you bring your baby home. But, she does occasionally write other fashion-related articles.

Can my child take care of a pet?

Getting a family pet can be such an amazing and enriching experience. Pets make great companions and can teach kids about responsibility and compassion, as well as valuable lessons about nature and life itself. How much time, effort, and resources is your family willing to set aside to welcome an animal into the family? Here are some things to think about before gifting your child with an animal friend.

First and foremost, pet ownership is a commitment. You should be willing to properly take care of a pet for the rest of its life. Don’t just get one for novelty’s sake. Are you ready for when the initial excitement wears off? Will you and your kids step up to ensure that the animal will never be neglected, lonely, untrained, abandoned, or left in poor health? If you’re wholeheartedly dedicated and you feel like everyone at home is on board, read on.

Living situation

Get a pet that’s appropriate for your home. Look into more compact pets for an apartment like fish, reptiles, rodents, cats, and small dog breeds. Bigger pooches need more space in order to live their best lives and reach their full potentials. Living in a house opens a lot of doors to the number and types of pets you can accommodate, but your family’s resolve to raise an additional member should always be the most important consideration.

Little toddlers

Toddlers under the age of 5 are definitely not conscientious enough to take on any serious responsibilities. You can bring an animal into your home provided that all duties will fall squarely on adults and older siblings. Now is the time to start teaching kids to respect an animal’s boundaries. Tell your little tikes to be gentle and mindful in their interactions with any animal. Toddlers are rapid learners and can actually pick up these lessons surprisingly fast.

Reception aged children

Youngsters in kindergarten can learn how to appreciate a pet from a respectable distance. If you get a fish, bird, or a small rodent like a hamster, gerbil, or guinea pig, little kids can be given tasks like refilling food and water. You still need to supervise physical interactions and be any pet’s primary caregiver. Individual animals will respond differently to a curious child, and some may not be as tolerant. After all, animals mainly communicate through body language. We can’t read their minds and young kids might have a harder time sensing their animalistic moods.

Primary school kids

You can delegate some pet-related chores to kids attending primary school since they have developed motor skills and basic judgment. Age-appropriate responsibilities can include scooping up dog poop, cleaning out the litter box, bathing, scheduled feeding and removing the hair in the house. The pet hair vaccum has special features like cutting edge suction and may save you a lot of trouble. Still, you may feel more comfortable if your child is accompanied when walking a dog around the block. School-age kids can independently care for small mammals and clean their cages all on their own. They can also flex their imaginations through building creative obstacle courses and elaborate pens for little critters. Always remind everyone that cages, pens, aquariums, and terrariums all need regular maintenance. School-age children that develop an interest in animals are likely to conduct their own research, too.


Tweensl can internalize what pet ownership really involves. They can take on more responsibilities, but need your help with adult stuff like visiting the vet. Because middle school preteens are entering the teenage phase, they will have more homework, activities with friends, distractions, and pubescent matters on their minds. Keep reminding them that loving a pet comes with responsibility and everyone should contribute to caring for animal companions.

Preparation and reward

Know what you’re getting into. Research on the proper temperaments, diets, stimulation, habitats, and needs of different species and breeds. You also need to intimately know your child’s personality and health issues like allergies to pick the right pet. Your due diligence, loving guardianship, and continuous commitment will pay off. Pets can create absolutely beautiful moments and memories, fill a household with joy, and teach anyone, of any age, how to become a better, caring human being.

Tips on getting your wardrobe ready before baby’s arrival

A lot of articles focus on what women should wear while pregnant, but what happens after you’ve delivered that precious little person.

Your body changes after you’ve given birthandit’s important to feel good about yourself.

When you’ve got postpartum hormones running through your body and you’resleep deprived, the last thing you want to worry about is what you should wear.

Nursing a young baby is challenging — that’s why it’s importantto get your wardrobe ready before the big day arrives!

Have a look at these tips to consider when getting your wardrobe ready for baby’s arrival:

1. Finding the right nursing tops

If you are thinking about breastfeeding, then there is a few styles to consider when you’re looking to buy nursing tops that are practical yet stylish.

Crossover tops. The V-neck crisscross design makes it easy to pull the garment to one side when nursing. These tops are more formal than a T-shirt, but still casual enough for daily wear, which makes them a great option for breastfeeding Mums.

Button-down shirts are a great option because they provide easy access and can be quickly openedwhen needed. They can be dressedup to look professional but don’t compromise on comfort, making them a great option for working Mums.

Peasant blouses.  not only are they super versatile, but with the wide neck opening and tie-up design, they canbe easily opened and modified when you’re breastfeedingon the go. They can be wornwith a skirt, smart pants, jeans or a pair of shorts and will look gorgeous. They are also perfect for any bodysize.

Nursing vest from Milk Tops London

2. Consider fabrics

During the first few months of nursing, you need to consider fabric choices. Buying as many washable tops and dresses that you can will be to your benefit until the spitting-up incidents subside a little.

Wearing breast pads when breastfeeding will assist with soaking up breast milk from leaking breasts, but only to a certain degree. When considering garments for your new wardrobe, light colours and solids are not ideal. Rather opt for patterns, dark colours or prints, as they are ideal when hiding unexpected leaks.

3. Avoid tight fitting clothes

Avoid wearing tight fitting blouses, tops or bras, as they can lead to conditions such as mastitis, plugged milk ducts and sore nipples from putting too much pressure on your breasts and can be very painful and uncomfortable.

4. Buying a good nursing bra

Make sure you’re buying nursing bras that are comfortable and absorbent that fits you well. Obtainingbras with soft cups that are madefrom natural materials or cotton that allows for good air flow and absorbency, is your best option. Avoid bras which are madefrom synthetic material or have underwire. No lesions or marks should be on your body when you’re wearing a bra.

8. Add some height

Wearing boots or shoes with a small heel can make you look taller and provide you with great posture. Ankle boots with chunky heels or a pair of wedges are great options to consider.

In summary

Once your little one is born, you will have a lot to focus on, especially during the first three months of motherhood.There will be a lot of adjustments and changes in your household, plus your body will also take a while to get back to the way it was before pregnancy. Being comfortable while starting your breastfeeding journey is key and you don’t have to compromise on style.

Getting your wardrobe ready in advance and ensuring that you have practical and stylish nursing tops and other clothing at your disposal, will enable you to feel ready for the challenges you’ll be facing when caring for a newborn baby. You will be nursing your baby a lot and wearing loose fitting and comfortable clothing that provides quick and easy access to your breasts will make your breastfeeding journey a whole lot easier.

This article was written by Elize Swanepoel. Photos for this article by Milk Tops London. Follow them on instagram.

Look out for the Terrible Tudors and Awful Egyptians in Richmond

Look out! The Terrible Tudors and Awful Egyptians are almost here! These two amazing Horrible Histories shows come with ground-breaking 3D special effects to bring historical figures and events to life on stage at Richmond Theatre from 3 – 7 October!

From the horrible Henries to the end of evil Elizabeth, hear the legends (and the lies!) about the torturing Tudors. Find out the fate of Henry's headless wives and his punch up with the Pope. Meet Bloody Mary and see Ed fall dead in his bed. Survive the Spanish Armada as it sails into the audience! From the fascinating Pharaohs to the power of the pyramids, discover the foul facts of death and decay with the meanest mummies in Egypt. Are you ready to rumble with Ramesses the Great? Dare you enter through the Gates of the Afterlife? It’s the history of Egypt with the nasty bits left in! Book today for an entertaining and educational trip back through history.

'Wholly accessible, educating, entertaining and enjoyable, Horrible Histories live on stage is a tour de force!' - BBC

Book your tickets here now.

Five of the best family cars

Finding the right car to suit your family can be a challenge as every family has different needs and wants. From the size of the vehicle or the fuel efficiency to the features and gadgets included in the vehicle, there’s plenty to consider when choosing between a brand new Renault or a traditional Ford. We look at the top five family cars for you to consider. 

1. Renault Scenic 

A famous model by French manufacturer Renault, the Scenic is the perfect car for a small family unit. With the standard 5 seats that enable you to seat the whole family, as well as plenty of room in the boot for a whole weeks’ worth of shopping, space is never an issue no matter the journey. Should you be travelling alone and find that you do not have the space that you require you can also fold down the back seats to give you additional space. Additionally,there are multiple features to consider including a heads-updisplay and a windscreen infotainment system to make your driving experience seamless. You can even rest assured that you’re in for an economical drive, as itis capable of doing 41.5 mpg with a standard petrol engine, allowing you to run all the errands that you want without worrying too much about filling up.  

2. Ford Focus 

A common choice for many when looking for a spacious car, the Ford Focus is the ideal option for busy family life. Not only does it feature a large amount of storage for shopping, school bags and more, but you are also able to do anywhere between 45-81 mpg depending on the style of your driving. This compact model is perfect for city driving too, so whether you’re dropping the kids off on your commute or you’re simply looking for a smooth drive regardless of the terrain, the Ford Focus is certainly going to provide you with it all. 

3. Vauxhall Astra 

The Vauxhall  Astra is another stylish yet affordable addition to any family unit. In addition to plenty of space, the Astra also features its fair share of smart technology on the exterior, such as smart lighting and a multitude of safety features. You also receive specially designed seats to support you as you drive as well as built-inheaters to warm you and the kids in the winter months. Comfort and convenience are the key focus of this model and we mean it when we say that the Astra really is perfect for family life, whether picking up the kids from school or heading out on a drive during the holidays to keep them entertained. 

4. Kia Optima 

One of the most economical on this list, the Kia Optima is the ideal car for those that travel a lot as a family. With seats that can both cool and heat and a panoramic sunroof, this car has family fun at the core. One of the main selling points for this car is the fuel economy coming in at up to 64 mpg, this is perfect for the daily commute to work or school and running errands as you will burn less fuel in-between visits to the petrol station. 

5. Ford Mondeo 

The second Ford on this list, the Ford Mondeo is a stylish and affordable family car that is best suited to every aspect of busy family life. With its spacious interior and sufficient boot space, there is more than enough room for you to run errands with or without the kids. With all of its smart technology and amazing driveability,you can rest assured that the entire family will be comfortable when travelling in this car. In addition to this,you also get the choice of an automatic or manual engine to suit your driving preference making the all-around experience far more enjoyable. 

Dating when you've got kids - can it be done?

If you've clicked on this article because you're intrigued, don't worry, we won't leave you in suspense. Can you date as a single mum Absolutely! You just have to make extra considerations and go about it in a slightly different way. Whether you're dating men or women, you're bringing someone new into your life, and that's going to add a new dynamic. Here's what you should do to keep your heart - and kids - protected.

Weed the bad guys out

When you've got kids, it's no longer just about you. If you previously joked about having things for the bad guys, it's time to cast that part of you aside - from now on, it's only about the nice guys. When we say nice guys, we don't mean "nice guys", either, who think that you owe them something simply because they've been being kind. 

Finding a partner who is genuine and who isn't going to put you or the children through unnecessary stress is imperative as a parent. Consider having trusted friends introduce you, or maybe getting closer with someone genuine that you've known for a while.

Of course, these days, there's always online dating as well. While this certainly has its own share of people you don't want to be with, there are plenty of opportunities there as well. Badoo, for example, allows you to check out a profile before even initiating anything. You can see that a person's ideals and values match yours before you even meet - saving you time, any worries and valuable energy.

Never hide the "family" side of yourself

You've heard the old adage - be yourself. Yes, it's overused. Yes, it's simplified. But wow, it sure is an effective piece of advice! 

When dating as a single mother, you need to know that this huge part of your life doesn't scare a partner away. While being a mother sure as anything doesn't define you, it's something that won't - and honestly shouldn't have to - change.

Your future partner needs to understand that from the get-go, and know that the children come first. If that's too complicated or too much for them, that's fine - you need someone who's aligned with you on this, and someone who'll step up and be mature.

They shouldn't like you "in spite" of the fact that you have kids - but because of who you are, and taking into account that part of that is you as a mother. If that's too much for them, that's okay - you have to understand that as well and let them go.

Get to know someone fully

Look, you can never really know someone fully - but you can get a pretty good idea.

If someone is giving you red flags in any way, shape or form - take time to sound them out, but ultimately, don't be super forgiving where your children will become involved.

In order for your children to someday have a relationship with the man or woman that you're dating, you need to do your absolute best to say that you've found out as much as you can about them.

This isn't just about learning about their history, it's about using your judgement about the way they act, and consider how that could influence a child. Everything from their manners to their temper can be important indicators, especially if you're hoping that they're going to later be around your children constantly. 

Plan carefully when to introduce your kids

Children and emotional attachment bonds can be very tricky indeed. Your dating life is yours entirely, but if you plan on somebody staying around, introducing them to the children is a big milestone indeed.

Firstly, you should give things a while before making any hasty introductions. While your partner may well be keen to show you that they'll be an excellent caregiver, it's important that they know it's not about them. If your children are meeting every single person you're interested in, it's not actually good for them in most instances, and in a lot of cases could leave them confused.

Of course, this depends wildly on their age. If they're 15 and you've not been with their other parent for a while, don't worry about it so much. But if they're ten and resenting a divorce, or five and easily attached, you need to think about whether it's the right time.

Being open with your children is so important, so an introduction will need to take place at some point - especially if you've been spending a lot of time with that person lately and leaving them with babysitters or other family. However, rushing and causing stress that isn't necessary isn't a good move at all.

The "right time" will differ for everyone, but consider taking into account the steps above about getting to know someone and being ruthless, and that will really help.

Consider letting your ex-partner know you're dating again

This is a tricky one, and the response can vary wildly. Some single mothers don't have their child's father in their lives, and so this won't apply. Other do, but can't imagine anything worse than sharing their personal lives with them!

However, if you still have some form of relationship with your ex - even if it's solely to do with custody - keeping them in the loop on the big things can often be advised. Why, you might ask? Well, think about it this way. If they were bringing someone new around your kids when it was their turn to take care of them, wouldn't you like to know?

Don't allow them to control you or be petty, but communicate, and listen to any valid concerns. If you think it would help, maybe set up some kind of "meet up" - cast aside any immaturity, and allow them to vet the person who may become their kids' step-parent out.

Love is a very personal thing, but when you have children, you can't only think about yourself. Be happy, but also think holistically. Real life often gets in the way, but at least you can say you've tried.

What's on this summer in Surrey: September 1-9

Woking Food & Drink Festival

Most of the schools go back at some point this week, but there are still a few activities taking place for those who have a few more days off, as well as for those of you with pre-schoolers.

We have tried to list as many as we can here, but please also head to our what’s on calendar for more events and details.

You can also get lots of ideas and inspiration from our listings sections for ideas, including days outgarden centresparks and playgrounds and (let’s hope you don’t need this one) rainy days. You can find all of these sections and more under the main things to do page.

Please don’t forget to check with the venue before setting off to ensure the activity is going ahead or in some cases, to book your place.

Throughout the holidays

Trails and activities still running at National Trust properties this week:

Weekend September 1-2

The vintage revival weekend at the Rural Life Centre promises entertainment for all ages, from dance classes to makeovers, stalls and live music. The Dance Movement will be offering tuition and demos in 1940s and 50s dances, accompanied by the joyous tones of a Glenn Miller tribute band. An evening tea dance will also offer visitors the chance to show off their Jive and Lindy hop on the Saturday. There will also be a display of hot rods and other vintage cars. All visitors are welcome to dress up for the occasion, and stallholders will sell vintage wares from the 1940s, '50s and '60s.

Fishers Farm is recruiting soldiers for its Army Weekend! If you think you’ve got what it takes to tackle the Army Assault Course, pack your bags and sign up for a fantastic day out at Fishers Farm with the chance to earn yourself a medal if you can pass your training!​ 

Enjoy seasonal demonstrations and see a variety of different produce as part of Harvest Weekend at Weald and Downland museum on Saturday and Sunday.

Harvest Museli is a workshop taking place at Haslemere museum. Learn about different grains from field to cereal bowl and make your own muesli to take home.

Hollycombe Museum's annual model weekend will attract all kinds of models and modellers, with railway layouts, fairground models, miniature traction engines, and more! Sounds like a great one for those little train enthusiasts.

Woking Food and Drink Festival is a FREE event taking place in the town centre. There will be live cookery demonstrations, celebrity chefs, family activities, workshops, live music and street entertainment.

American Day at Brooklands Museum on Sunday is a day dedicated to vehicles from across the pond and will include gleaming Dodge, Chryslers, Mustangs, Hot Rods and much more in and around the Paddock and Motoring Village.

Live Local, Love Winkworth on Sunday is a free event at Winkworth with family-friendly activities, live music and community stalls. There’ll be something to see and do in every corner of the arboretum.

All week

Monday is your last chance to enjoy 50 Days of Summer at Birdworld, which includes fascinating facts, a trail around the park, challenges from Ivor the cockatoo, entertainment sessions, arts and crafts and more. 

Buggyfit is taking place at Polesden Lacey on Monday, giving you a chance to work off some of those summer ice creams whilst your little one stays with you. This post natal exercise program aims to help strengthen and stabilise the post pregnancy body.

Story time at RHS Wisley is a nice gentle activity to start the week with on MondayChildren can get lost in the natural world of creepy-crawlies and garden adventures. Sessions last around 20 minutes and are suitable for under 5yrs accompanied by an adult.

Wisley Flower Show starts on Tuesday and runs until September 9. Browse, buy and get advice from more than 50 specialist nurseries and enjoy displays, demonstrations and talks.

FREE Wild Tots taster sessions are being offered in Nower Wood on Thursday and Friday, giving little ones a chance to enjoy Forest School inspired adventures, stories and discoveries in the woods. This is suitable for 2-5-year-olds and booking is essential.

Another free taster session is available at Stagecoach in Cobham on Thursday, when young people can try some singing, acting and dancing and find out a bit more about what Stagecoach offers.

Maisie Goes to the Museum at Haslemere Museum on Friday is a storytelling session for the under-fives and their parent or carer. There is no need to book in advance.

Weekend September 8-9

Wild Families with the Surrey Wildlife Trust on Saturday is a session for the whole family! Bring out your family's wild side with games, crafts and activities to engage with nature, fun for all the family.Cost is £5, babes in arms FREE. Booking essential, please book for each person attending the event.

To celebrate Heritage Open Days, there will be an object handling session at The Lightbox on Saturday, with artefacts from the museum's history collection. This is a drop-in session suitable for visitors aged 4+. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

The Woodwork Saturday Club by The Great British Woodshop will give children an opportunity to learn a wide range of skills including respect for tools and carpentry and construction skills.

Haslemere Museum is celebrating Heritage Open Days 2018 and the its 130th anniversary with a special trail and children’s activities on Saturday.

Donkey Day out at the Rural Life Centre on Sunday will feature talks, demonstrations and displays on the theme of these lovely animals. The organisers say that the aim of the event is for everyone to have a relaxing time...and that includes the donkeys!

Have a great week.

Interview with Bing Live! Puppet and Costume Designer, Tahra Zafar by Lucy Tobin

Mention Bing to any family with pre-school kids and you’re guaranteed to get a knowing smile in response. Not just because of its popularity with tots - Bing is the top-rated pre-school show on BBC iPlayer - but because, as one parent at the playground puts it, “watching Bing is like tuning in to a reality show of my life as a mum - albeit a calmer, quieter version.” 

The show’s protagonists may be animals (for the uninitiated, there are bunnies Bing, Coco and Charlie, elephant Sula, panda Pando plus their carers, Flop, Amma and Padget) but they’re really just like little people: excited, tripping-over tots lapping up the messy, happy moments that make up preschool life. 

It’s no coincidence that watching Bing and Sula squabble over sharing a balloon or dropping a just-baked cake sees the average parent wondering if the show’s producers have been eavesdropping on their parenting lives. For as well as 23 writers, there are two Montessori teachers, four education experts and child linguists working on each Bing script. Their aim is to create a programme that’s just as likely to teach parents a patient way to help a toddler through their tantrum as it is to give that child some quiet time in their day.

So when producers mooted the idea of Bing Live! - a UK tour of more than 50 venues - they called in the brightest creative stars in their field. After all, the TV show’s an International Emmy Award winner which lured Shakespearean actor and Oscar-winner Mark Rylance to make his TV debut, voicing Flop. 

With Bing Live! brought to life by magical puppetry, producers turned to Tahra Zafar - the animatronics and costume maestro whose career has included working with the Queen on her first ever acting role (at the 2012 Olympics’ Opening Ceremony) as well as blockbuster shows from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to Star Wars VII. 

The latter, says Tahra, was “a real, pinch-myself moment as I stood on set with Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, the stars I’d grown up watching, thinking - ‘wow, this is my job!’”. 

So how did Star Wars and the London 2012 Olympic ceremonies lead to Tahra designing the stage characters for Bing Live!?

“There might not sound like a lot of crossover but I’ve needed skills picked up over decades in film and theatre to work on Bing - it’s been a pretty big challenge,” the 53-year-old explains. 

“We had to find a way to turn much-loved, animated animals into stage-sized beings that are large enough to tell a story in a hippodrome but also small and relatable enough for really young kids who are used to a telly-sized Bing, and perhaps one that they tuck up into bed every night.”

Tahra admits to feeling “a huge sense of responsibility” whilst working on Bing Live! because its toddler ticket-holders are “very likely to be on one of their first ever forays to a theatre.” She explains: “I grew up in the entertainment industry- my dad was a choreographer, and mum a dancer - but I still remember one of the first proper performances I saw: Pickwickwith Harry Secombe in the West End. I was really tiny and obviously didn’t take it all in, but the excitement and dazzle got me interested in theatre for life.

“I’d love for Bing Live! to get kids feeling that creative ‘wow’ too. That’s why I’m really passionate about working on pre-school theatre.”

In the fast-faced, constantly-comparing world of social media and Instagram parenting perfection, “Bing is the antithesis of all that,” believes Tahra, whose own daughter is now 14. “It celebrates the details of life, when it’s alright for things not to go well, because that throws up another opportunity. It’s the opposite of the perfect life that we’re all meant to have.”

Tahra’s career has certainly been fast-paced: after studying Theatre Design at Central St Martins, her first job was buying costumes for the English Shakespeare Company; her next was working on Phantom of the Opera, “buying one-off vintage fabrics like silk kimonos from around the world.”

Then she moved into film, working with the world-famous Muppet Christmas Carol-maker Jim Henson Creature Shop. “It was extraordinary - a huge building in the heart of London’s Camden Town in the Nineties,” remembers Tahra. “There was an electronic area full of machinery; a mould shop with plasterers and fibreglass, a sculpting room, and, upstairs, a digital focus that - back then - was so futuristic but is now commonplace. Whenever the real Kermit puppet came to visit from New York, we all loved having our photos taken with him and Miss Piggy.”

Then there was the call from Slumdog Millionairedirector Danny Boyle that led to “the most incredible opportunity”. As head of costume, hair and make-up for the London Olympic and Paralympic Opening and Closing Ceremonies, Tahra oversaw the completion of 23,000 costumes, dressing everyone from waving children to David Beckham and the Queen.

“I worked on the Olympic shows for 18 months,” Tahra remembers, beaming. “It was endless rehearsals, long days - we had four shows to deliver, working with a cast of 17,000 volunteers - and there was constant negativity in the press about the London Olympics, but we knew from the go that the Opening Ceremony would change all that and be really special. We couldn’t wait for everyone’s reaction.”

Tahra set herself the task of using only British manufacturers for the costumes - “with all our funding coming from the taxpayer, I felt we had a responsibility to put the money back into the local community.” That wasn’t the only challenge - “the ceremonies were a mixture of a live event, with everyone in the stadium watching with birds-eye-like views, and a film - with everyone at home seeing all the jewel-like details in the costumes.”

Then there was a certain matter of the Queen, who famously joined Daniel Craig’s James Bond to ‘fly’ into the Olympic stadium. “I had an amazing time working with Buckingham Palace,” Tahra recalls. “I visited the Palace a number of times for meetings - I couldn’t believe little old me was going in this big entrance to see the Queen, with hundreds of tourists outside with their cameras saying, ‘who’s she?!’” 

At security, Tahra was asked to fill in her personal details “and I was faced with the best drop-down box I’d ever seen - it took me ages to find the ‘mrs’ I was looking for because there were so many other options - ‘admiral, lord, lady, countessess…’” 

Then she did at last get through the barriers to meet the Queen. “She was just lovely - and one of the things I noticed most was her really beautiful skin!”, Tahra giggles. “She was so interested in all of our plans - we had to make multiple copies of her outfit made, and of her exact jewellery - because of course it wasn’t actually going to be her parachuting out of a helicopter..”

On the opening ceremony night itself, “I was running around like crazy all day, but for the arrival of the Queen, when the helicopter came in, I ran to the entrance of the stadium and just watched that moment and everyone’s reaction. I’ll never forget it.”

Buckingham Palace might seem a long world away from CBeebies favourite Bing but the show’s puppets have also been honed to perfection. Flop alone took Tahra and her team four months to create. “We had someone knit a prototype Flop, then a specialist lady dyed wool the perfect colour, then another knitted more prototypes, then we developed Flop’s puppetry… On stage, you see one finished object but many different people with different skills have been involved in creating it.” 

Making Bing and friends, then, has been a gently slow, old-fashioned process; the same is true, Tahra adds, of the experience of the Bing Live! stage show for everyone in the audience. “I love that puppets, like the characters themselves, are expressive, forcing us to suspend our imagination, and all be like children. 

“We’re all going faster and faster in modern life, and it’s important to have those moments to quieten down - I hope that’s what Bing Live! lets families do, so that the adults of the future will look back on and say, ‘I remember going to see Bing at the theatre in NAME OF VENUE, it was one of my really happy childhood times.”

Mini interviews with Bing Live! Director, Will Tuckett and Stage Writer and Adapter, Helen Eastman.

Will Tuckett

How is the tour going so far?

“Watching audiences around the country watching Bing Live has been a wonderful experience. When people are watching something and enjoying it, it’s one of the best things imaginable. A little girl behind me stood on her mother’s lap the other day singing one of the songs in the show at the top of her lungs without much sense of tune or rhythm, but the look on her face and her mum’s face, and her grandpa’s… and the gusto with which she joined in… she was just totally loving it without any filter whatsoever! If you could take that home, that joy and energy, and pop it in a drawer so you could take it out whenever things felt a bit blue… well then you’d never have another grey day for the rest of your life”.

How has it been working with the Bing Live team bringing Bing to life with Puppetry?

“Tahra Zafar (The Bing Live Puppet and Costume designer) is an incredible collaborator. Not only is she very, very experienced from her time working cross a myriad of projects involving puppets and creature creation on Star Wars, Harry Potter and with Jim Henson, but she is also one of the most open and generous creative people one could hope to meet. Working out how to transfer 2D characters into a 3D world is never straightforward and we spent a lot of time in her studio working out dimensions for scale, puppet handles, grips, harnesses… and that’s before she starts looking at the mechanics to make the puppets blink, walk, stretch, have ears that move… the list goes on and on!  Wonderfully, when you look at the puppets you would never be aware of the complicated inner structures but that is the amazing thing about both Tahra and her incredibly talented team. They make the imagined real which is a pretty awesome skill!”

Helen Eastman

How do you bring a TV animation to life for the stage?

It is really important to remember how well our audience know these characters, and our responsibility to bring them to life in a way that feels instantly familiar. However, theatre is a very different medium to television, so it is an opportunity to take exciting new directions.I started to write 'Bing Live' by thinking about the exciting experiences our characters could have in a theatre, which they could share with an audience. And things which our audience could participate in, because this is a live show. For many of our audience this may be their first trip to the theatre; we want them to love it as much as we do!

So, I started by spending lots of time with the characters (I've watched every episode of Bing multiple times and it helps that I have a three-year-old who wants to watch with me). I also explored the books, website and all the ways that our children have come to love Bing. Then started to think of the right story to tell.

Why are using puppets for Bing Live?

Well, as all Bing lovers know, Bing is much bigger than Flop, his carer. The size dynamics of the characters are important, and puppets allow us to get that scale right (otherwise all the characters would have to be human size). Puppets are magical and allow us to create our characters without having to turn them into people. Children have such huge imaginations they will be swept up into Bing's world straight away. 

Who will love Bing Live and what can audiences look forward to?

If you love Bing, you'll love Bing Live! You can look forward to seeing your favourite characters come to life in front of you and join them in their story. There'll be plenty of interaction and fun to be had, and lots of music and songs. We are sure that “Bingsters”, parents, grandparents and siblings will love the show too... truly a great experience for the whole family. 

Four of the most fantastic desserts in Surrey

As a busy mum to little ones, it’s fair to say that the odd dessert doesn’t go amiss. The taste of gooey melting chocolate, the refreshing cool of ice cream on our tongues, the tang of that rich raspberry sorbet… We’re not ashamed to admit that it’s what we live for. 

So we think that if we’re going to indulge, we really ought to do it in style. We gave up our nights on the town, our perfectly groomed and put together outfits, and our time-consuming hobbies, but at least we still have some whopping great sugar rushes left!  

But where best to enjoy them? Here’s where to go for four of the most fantastic desserts in Surrey… 

Summer Berry Savarin at Brasserie Blanc

If there’s one thing we adore, it’s the tang of fresh berries on our tongues, especially when it’s hot outside and summer is in full swing. Luckily for us, BrasserieBlanc caters to our obsession, with their amazing Summer Berry Savarin. A delicious concoction of kirsch and vanilla-soaked cake, topped with strawberries, raspberries, coulis, and crème Chantilly, it tastes utterly divine, and can be yours for the bargain price of £6.50. 

Alcoholic Ice Cream from the Slug and Lettuce 

Want to know what you can always count on the Slug and Lettuce to deliver? The answer is flavoursome food that will fill your tum and leave you feeling happy. Their dessert offerings are no exception to this rule, with their alcoholic ice creams being our particular favourites. The next time you want to wet your lips, take your pick from Strawberry Bellini, Pina Colada, and Mint Mojito – you won’t be disappointed!

Chocolate Death at the White Star Tavern

If we’re being entirely honest, there’s not a mum alive who doesn’t rely on chocolate to see her through the day. If you can relate, then the White Star Tavern has a treat in store. This top-notch gastropub serves up some seriously great food, and its Chocolate Death dessert is the pick of the bunch. Blending warm walnut and pistachio brownie with chocolate crumbs, chocolate custard, raspberry coulis, caramelised puff pastry, burnt white chocolate, and vanilla parfait, it’s the ultimate indulgence at the end of a long day.   

Popcorn Brownie Sundae at TGI Fridays 

Sticking with chocolate as the perfect treat, we also adore the Popcorn Brownie Sundae from TGI Fridays. A delicious mix of warm chocolate brownie chunks, drizzled with hot fudge and caramel sauce, this recipe uses real dairy ice cream alongside sticky toffee popcorn and the freshest whipped cream. It’s so magnificently good that it will have your mouth watering the second you sniff it. The one downside is that you can’t have it delivered to your door, but if you want to substitute it for Chocolate Fudge Fixation or Brownie Temptation – both equally amazing – then has you covered!

From superb sundaes to the best milkshakes in Surrey, these four fantastic dessert destinations know just how to deliver. Why not treat yourself to a gluttonous trip out to see for yourself?  

How you should be caring for your little one’s tiny feet

It can be a struggle knowing how to juggle the growing list of motherly duties when you’ve got a new-born, with disrupted nights and constant clean-ups becoming a huge part of your new life. However, it’s important to make sure you’re caring for all parts of them correctly, including their feet. 

Babies’ foot development is crucial to their walking quality later in life, so knowing the rough stages they should go through, as well as what’s normal and what isn’t, will help your little one to get off on the right foot. So, for more information on how to care for your child’s tiny feet, read on.

The foot development process

It’s important to know what’s normal and what’s not. Additionally, knowing when changes should occur in your child’s feet will ensure you’re aware of when to seek help from specialists. So, make sure you familiarise yourself with these key development stages:

36 months:Your baby’s feet will comprise primarily of cartilage-like tissue that has gaps between the layers. This means that their feet will be very flexible, and you might find that they’re able to bend out of shape — this is painless to them, so don’t worry too much about it when they’re barefoot.

However, if their feet move into these unnatural positions while they’re wearing shoes, it could be hard for your child to bend them back, leading to injury. To avoid this, pick shoes with flexible soles and soft inner cushioning to provide optimum comfort and support. 

69 months:When your baby begins to walk, the pressure on their feet makes the tissue ossify into bone. At this stage, their feet will grow quickly, so make sure every pair of shoes you choose has at least 1cm of growing room in the toes and prioritise grippy textured soles to support them while walking.

24 years:By this point, the layer of baby fat on their feet will have melted away, revealing a more mature shape. But be aware that, although they now have all of the bones necessary for normal development, these won’t be properly fused until adolescence. 

If you notice your child’s feet are particularly flat at this stage, don’t fret! Most children of this age have flat feet that should develop arches later on.

4+ years:After what will seem like a period of non-stop shoe shopping, you child’s feel will grow much slower once they hit the age of four. As they will be up and about now, getting shoes that can withstand their daily play sessions will be key. 

Remember that these are only guidelines, and every child will develop at their own pace. But, if you are worried about anything, don’t be afraid to share your concerns with a doctor who will be able to help. 

How to pick the perfect first pair of shoes

It’s recommended that your baby spends plenty of time barefoot to encourage natural movement and flexibility in their feet. But, before you know it, they’ll need their first pair of shoes, so make sure you know how to pick the most suitable pair for your little one.

Footwear specialists Charles Clinkard recommend: 

  • Getting their feet measured every 6–8 weeks
  • Choosing shoes that have room for growth
  • Picking leather and synthetic shoes, which are soft and comfortable as well as supportive and breathable
  • Prioritising adjustable fastenings like Velcro straps and supportive structures like padded ankle collars

It’s generally much easier to check when the length of their shoes is too small, as opposed to the width, so make sure you’re frequently checking both. To measure the length, press down on the front of the shoe — their toes shouldn’t feel squashed or right at the end of the shoe. For the width, place the tip of a finger down the side of the shoe at the instep (the arched middle section of the shoe). If your finger doesn’t fit in comfortably, it’s time to head back to a shoe fitter for a new pair. And, as a quarter of infants will outgrow the width of their shoes before the length, according to Podiatry Network, it’s particularly important to keep an eye on this to ensure their foot development isn’t hindered by ill-fitting shoes.

Issues to watch out for

Your little one’s feet should be well-developed by the time they turn five, but it’s important that you’re aware of any problems you need to be looking out for. Tip-toe walking, out-toeing, and in-toeing are among some of the issues you should keep an eye out for. These will usually correct themselves with age but, if you are concerned, it’s always best to get them checked out by your family doctor or paediatrician.

For more information on these development issues, visit the NHS’s guide to infant leg and foot problems.

Remembering what you need to be watching out for in your child’s foot development can be challenging, but the results of a happy and healthy child will be worth it. Follow the tips in this guide to ensure you’re caring for their feet correctly — they’ll be up and about in no time!