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2020, lest we forget? I hope not

At the stroke after midnight, 1 January 2020, sitting in front of my TV with a fizzy glass in hand, I leapt with joy. 2019 was over. It hadn’t been a great year for me; a two-month illness that came upon me like a bolt from the blue, the death of my father-in-law, my husband made redundant and to cap it off a further two months of ‘bed-ridden’ illness. It was my annus horribilis, something that seems to afflict most of us once or twice in our lifetimes, if we are lucky.

As I punched the air with great abandon that 2019 was over, little did I realise that 2020 would bring to the macro what I had experienced at a micro level the year before. But this time was different; we were all in it. There is comfort in solidarity. The affliction was affecting everyone and it wasn’t just my normal life that stopped, it was everyone’s.

But much like when we are ill, we have lived in a vacuum. And indeed, similarly to childbirth, on the whole we forget and move on. Are you, like me, forgetting what going into lockdown felt like? Are you not remembering the anxiety, disbelief and discomfort you experienced when going into a complete unknown in our lifetime? Did you, like me, start to wind-down your thoughts and fears, and relax into a routine which felt very much like an extended holiday for a good while – indulging in sundowners, zooming friends, clapping with neighbours, celebrating VE Day in a different way, spending time with the children, all helped by the wonderful weather we had this spring?

I’m not saying it was all rosy. There was family bickering, concerns about finances, the dread of running out of food, boredom, dealing with the rebellious (grand) parents; the list is fairly extensive and will be different for everyone. But I’d hazard a guess that this was balanced by the quietness of life, the connection with nature, having the time to exercise in the garden and walk or cycle if you wanted to, not popping to the shops every five minutes, the feeling of not having to be anywhere or answer to anyone, the freedom to be yourself.

But the nature of illness is that we forget - how we felt, what inconveniences it brought, how we wondered if we’d ever recover. Are you, like me, already forgetting? There is something special about human psychology that allows us to only remember the last thing that happened to us. We remember the end and by consequence the new beginning. This is a good thing, no? We’ve already forgotten how worried we all were that Boris Johnson would die. He lived, so we move on and resume our positions.

There are already many exceptions; people who have lost loved ones who will never forget. But as a human race we will move on from this coronavirus pandemic. We will forget. Such is the nature of illness on a macro as well as a micro level. The question remains, we forget the bad times, but will we also forget the good? As an optimist, I hope not.

This is an opinion piece written by Penny.

Spice up your life...or at least your weekend dinner

What shall we eat this evening? If you, like me, find it difficult to get inspired by the contents of your fridge or freezer and are trying not to visit the shops too often at the moment, we may have a way to spice things up for you (no pun intended!) Lockdown hasn’t helped, with queues at supermarkets, less range and with a house full of hungry children who have higher expectations in terms of variety.

Coming to our rescue last weekend was Mandira and the Mandira-ettes of the eponymous Mandira’s Kitchen as we were lucky enough to try one of their Indian weekend dining options, the celebratory 3-course Thali.

How Mandira's Kitchen began

Mandira’s Indian catering business began from her home kitchen and is now located at Silent Pool, near Albury, also home to Silent Pool gin. Mandira offers event catering, cookery lessons, spice tours and supper clubs, all of which ground to a halt during the coronavirus lockdown. Not one to be deterred, she set about promoting her freezer meals and takeaway options from a small shop at their premises.

Creating an ambience

It was quick and easy to order the food from Mandira. We selected the menu we required and completed the order and payment online, then made a quick drive over to pick it up on the day. Once back home we dug into the bag and pulled out the serving/heating instructions, all of which seemed very straightforward and helpful, heated up the oven and got cracking. 

We laid our table, incorporating the suggested bright table cloth, fresh flowers and candles to create an ambience deserving of our ‘Calcultta Connections‘ themed menu. Although we were experiencing a balmy evening by UK standards, the heavens opened as we sat down for our poppadums, chutneys and raitas – monsoon season had arrived!

We set the Sonos to start the suggested playlist that had been curated by Mandira to accompany our dining experience, shaking our hips to the Bollywood beats.

The main event

Once we’d cracked open the beers we began with a divine Fish Paturi starter, steamed to retain moisture and perfectly cooked with a translucent finish that I never seem to manage when cooking fish at home. Now I know the secret, steam your fish in banana leaves!

Next followed Ghee Bhaat (fragrant basmati rice with cashews and raisins), Mum’s Musur Dal (yellow lentils with onions and fenugreek leaves) and Misti Kumro Chocchori (butternut squash) all perfectly complementing the main affair, Murgir Jhol (a light chicken curry with potatoes). This came in trays for each person, all neatly portioned into sections and easily microwaveble as a whole dinner. 

Whilst eating our main course we played the fun quiz which had accompanied our meal, an Indian themed guessing game and a bit of an educational angle for the children (and us).

Meetha (dessert) followed with the most sumptuous Thandai ice cream which went down a storm alongside a warming cup of Indian Masala Chai, pre-mixed for us. We were certainly satiated and had the most delicious flavours bouncing around our mouths long after we’d finished.

A winning formula

We didn’t quite get round to watching the Bollywood film suggested with the tasting notes but if this floats your boat it would certainly round off a fun evening of escapism, vibrance, laughter and most importantly, fantastic food.

For more information about Weekend Dining and other options visit Mandira's Kitchen website. We are currently running a competition to win a Dine for Two dining package from Mandira's Kitchen. WIN a 'Dine in for Two' package from Mandira's Kitchen.

A guide to how to give gifts at the office

Presents are a big part of a lot of celebrations. Birthdays, anniversaries, and even Christmas celebrations all come with the expectation of a gift attached. However, there are also occasions that might demand gifts in your professional life too. 

For instance, if someone that you work with gets a promotion or leaves to pursue their dream job, you might want to buy them something to wish them well on their next step. If your boss or a close team member achieves a milestone in the number of years they’ve spent with the company, that’s an occasion for gift giving too. 

So, how do you make sure that you’re giving a gift that’s still “suitable” for work. 

Show Caution in Your Gift Choices

Just because you have a lot of fun and banter with a friend at work, doesn’t mean it’s appropriate to give them a rude gift in the office. Remember, even if you know that the person who is going to be getting the gift will be fine with a little bit of dark humor, the rest of your team won’t always feel the same way. If you’re having a celebration that other colleagues are going to attend, you don’t want to give them the wrong impression. 

You can give any gifts you like in private if you know that your colleague isn’t going to share them with the rest of your team and cause problems. However, it’s best to keep things simple and suitable when you’re choosing something for a work celebration. 

Stick the Basics

Figuring out how to provide the best business gift is harder than it seems. On the one hand, you want to wow your boss or colleague with something that they’re going to love. On the other hand, if you choose something too expensive or personal, you could cause distrust among other coworkers. The last thing you want is for your team members to think that you’re sucking up or trying to bribe the boss. 

Try to avoid anything that might come across as too expensive or personal. Simple gifts, like a new tie or a set of cufflinks, are generally good options. You can also stick to edible gifts, like a box of candy or a fruit basket. These presents rarely make the wrong impression, as long as you take taste preferences and allergies into account. 

Decide if the Gift Should Come with a Party

Sometimes, gifts are a smaller part of a bigger party or celebrations. Other times, your present won’t demand a celebration too. For instance, if someone is leaving your business to start a career, then a leaving party is a great way to let them know how much you’re all going to miss them. On the other hand, if a team member is getting a promotion, they might prefer to keep things quiet around the office. 

Start by thinking about the personality of the person you want to celebrate. Are they the kind of person who enjoys any opportunity for a party, or do they prefer not to be the centre of attention? It’s also worth thinking about how big of a deal the occasion is. If someone has been with the company for 6 months now, that probably doesn’t mean much to them. However, if your colleague has been with the business for 25 years, that’s a big deal. 

Keep Parties Above Board

If you do decide that a party is the right way to go, be careful. 

Stick to a minimal amount of booze if you can. Alcohol tends to lead to people saying the wrong things. In a professional environment, this can lead to poor relationships between coworkers in the future. It’s also worth remembering that you might be hosting the celebration in your office. That means that you can’t go too over-the-top with decorations.

Avoid taking the occasion too far by allowing everyone to blow off too much steam. If you’re concerned that people will feel nervous, consider whether you should avoid the party altogether, or just have a few friends get together after work instead. 

Acknowledging Gifts

One last tip for professional gift giving: if you’re the person getting the gift, make sure you say thank you. A hand-written note is always a nice touch, and it’s a great chance to show your colleagues that you appreciate them. Remember, they’re going out of their way to show you that they care about you. 

A complete guide to MOT's including a handy checklist

If you want to learn about MOT, give this post a read and get all the answers to your MOT related questions!

MOT- What is it & why is it important?

MOT is an annual test that is made mandatory by the UK govt. to be taken by all vehicles on road to ensure a vehicle’s safety and roadworthiness. This is the govt.’s way of ensuring safety for the drivers plus other passengers and to lessen accident chances. During the MOT Test, all the essential parts of a vehicle are thoroughly examined to ensure that they’re meeting all the required legal standards.

Can a car/vehicle be driven without an MOT test?

In simple words, the answer is NO! Making sure that your car is MOT tested is a legal requirement as mentioned earlier. The only time you can drive without an MOT test is when you’re driving to get it done!  Otherwise you can face heavy penalty for it.

How often do you need to get the MOT test done?

As per law, you need to get your first MOT test done 3 years after the date of your car’s registration given if it is a brand new car. Please note, for a car with an age of 3 years and above, the car needs to be retested every year on the anniversary of its last MOT.

How does one check when their car’s MOT test is due?

Your MOT date is mentioned on your MOT certificate, you can always check from there. Another easy way is to log on to the Govt.uk site to know about your MOT status. Even local garage websites offer this service. You just have to enter your car’s registration number along with your vehicle make on their website and they will show you when your MOT is due.

A lot of local garages offer MOT services. One such car garage is KAP. With KAP Motors Brighton, you can book MOT Online at a date and time of your convenience. You don’t even have to pay anything upfront.

How long is the MOT test?

The MOT test is not that long. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour at max. The test covers all the electrical equipment and basic car checks. If your vehicle clears the MOT test checklist, you will be issued an MOT certificate instantly.

Can the MOT test be performed at home?

A complete and thorough MOT cannot be performed at home. You need to visit an expert who is authorized to issue the MOT certificate. 

An interview with Surrey-based author Nikki Smith discussing her debut book 'All In Her Head'

All In The Head book cover and author photo

We caught up with debut author and Surrey parent, Nikki Smith, about her newly-published psychological thriller, 'All In Her Head'. Nikki has lived in Surrey for 13 years and wrote her debut novel from her house in Guildford, where she lives with her husband, two daughters, ages 14 and 12 and a cat who thinks she's a dog!

Here at Surrey Mummy we rocketed through our copies of 'All In Her Head' when we discovered it at the beginning of lockdown and felt it was very much in the same vein or 'Gone Girl' and 'Girl on a Train' as it twists and turns and leaves you guessing right until the end. This timely psychological thriller is about the darkest corners of a mother's mind.

Alison is more alone than she's ever been. She is convinced that her ex-husband Jack is following her. She is certain she recognises the strange woman who keeps approaching her at work. She knows she has a good reason to be afraid. She just can't remember why. Then the mention of one name turns her life upside down. Alison feels like she's losing her mind...but it could just lead her to the truth.

1. Nikki, what inspired you to write a book on the topic of post-natal depression/post-partum psychosis that runs through ‘All In Her Head’? Was it difficult to write about such a tough subject-matter?

I had a very traumatic birth with my youngest child – I had undiagnosed placenta accreta; ended up haemorrhaging, lost three litres of blood and ended up in ICU. It made me realise how risky childbirth still is, even in the developed world. I started thinking about illnesses that aren’t visible after childbirth and are in some ways even harder to deal with, and this inspired me to write 'All In Her Head'. It was difficult to write about such a sensitive topic as I wanted to make sure I didn’t sensationalise it in any way so I did a lot of research before I started writing. Since the book was published, I’ve had several comments from readers who have suffered from similar issues who have said that they thought I dealt with the topic very realistically which means a great deal to me.

2. Did the main characters Alison and Jack evolve as you wrote the story or did you pre-plan all aspects before you started writing?

I had a strong idea of Alison before I started writing, and her character didn’t change significantly, but Jack developed more as I was writing the story and through the different drafts in the editing stages of the novel.

3. ‘All In Her Head’ was published at the very beginning of lockdown in the UK. How did you adapt the launch of your debut due to coronavirus and do you think it has affected promotion so far? 

Yes, it hasn’t been ideal timing!! My book launch and all physical events had to be cancelled which, as you can imagine after having spent years getting to the point of having a book published, was devastating. All the shops have been shut so I haven’t even seen my hardback in a bookstore yet! However, I’m fully aware there are people who have suffered far more than I have - I’m just grateful my family and friends are safe and well. As another author told me, ‘Books last forever.’ There have been positives to come out of the situation as well – the publishing industry has reacted quickly, moving many events online, so I had a virtual book launch on twitter and I’ve been involved in panel discussions with other authors like Sarah Vaughan that might never have happened otherwise. I’m also part of a debut group of authors on Facebook who all support each other, and other much more well-known authors like David Nicholls and Clare Mackintosh have been so generous with their support for debut writers. People are also reading more eBooks as a result of lockdown which has helped 'All In Her Head' to become a bestseller on Amazon, and it’s had some great reviews in the Press.

4. How did you begin your journey to become a published author?

I always wanted to be an author – I did an English degree & wrote a novel after leaving University, but it wasn’t very good & unsurprisingly wasn’t picked up by an agent. So, I gave up and went on to have a career in finance. Then a few years ago, someone I was at school with contacted me on Facebook to ask if I’d ever done anything with my writing as she still remembered the stories I used to read out in class. It was a now or never moment, and I signed up for a Curtis Brown creative writing course, which I absolutely loved, and started writing All In Her Head. I subsequently won a competition that another author, Amanda Reynolds, was running and she became my mentor. After I’d worked on the first few chapters of my novel with her for a while, I sent it off to the literary agent Sophie Lambert who had read my cover letter on the Curtis Brown course, and who I really, really hoped would like it. She agreed to represent me, and a few months later we submitted the manuscript to publishers where Orion offered me a two-book deal.

5. Can you tell us about your writing set-up and routine?

Before lockdown, I used to drop my children at school and then come home and write until they needed picking up, and I’d also write in the evenings and weekends if I was on a deadline. In lockdown, routines have become much more difficult to maintain as we have everyone at home, so I squeeze writing in as and when I can – I find getting up very early to write helps as when the house is quiet, I have much needed head space!

6. What gave you the drive to actually finish writing the book and get it published?

I think many authors would tell you that finishing the book isn’t the biggest issue – it’s the re-writing and editing it to make it the best that it can be that causes most problems! I can finish a first draft of a book in about three months if I write a thousand words a day, every day. But that’s just the start of the process – in subsequent drafts and editing many of those words I’ve written will change. For me, when I got my mentor, I felt that it was independent feedback that someone else whose work I valued liked the story I wanted to tell and this gave me the encouragement to keep going through several rewrites to get the book to a point where I could submit it to agents.

7. Are you working on any other books? Can we expect a sequel to ‘All In Her Head’ or a change of direction next?

I have a two-book deal with Orion, so my next one will be published in 2021. It’s not a sequel to 'All In Her Head', but is the same psychological suspense genre – I can’t give too much away at the moment but it’s about a family with dark secrets.

8. What is your favourite place to visit as a family in Surrey? Or activity you like to do as a family?

We love to visit Polesden Lacey and Wisley, but living in Surrey we’re lucky enough to have open countryside close by which we can walk in and have been so grateful for during lockdown. 

9. What advice would you give to aspiring authors, especially those trying to write whilst bringing up young children?

I would say set yourself a wordcount every day and try to stick with it. I was working full time when I started writing 'All In Her Head', so I know how difficult this can be, especially with children, but if it means getting up an hour earlier, or going to bed an hour later to get 500 words down, it is possible.

10. What book are you currently reading? Can you recommend any books that have inspired you during lockdown?

I am currently reading 'The Other People' by CJ Tudor and loving it. Other books I've recently read during lockdown and have really enjoyed have included 'The Man on The Street' by Trevor Wood, 'I am Dust' by Louise Beech and 'Our Dark Secret' by Jenny Quintana.

We are very grateful to Nikki for giving us her time and urge our readers to pick up a copy of 'All In Her Head' this summer. Follow Nikki on twitter @mrssmithmunday or visit her website https://nikkismithauthor.com/ to find out more. Buy a copy of All In Her Head' here.

 

Six big considerations when bringing home a new puppy

Any new addition to the family brings plenty of concerns and changes. While mums may worry about how to handle the arrival of a new baby, similar concerns should be evaluated whenever a new pet is brought into the home. Most notably, the addition of a new puppy can present unique challenges that mums, dads, and kids alike aren’t prepared for necessarily.

A new puppy should be a time for celebration amongst all in the home – and it is – but it’s important to consider how this may change your day-to-day routines and behaviours. To help those who are integrating a new dog into home life, we’ll be looking at six big considerations that have to be made in order to ensure both family and puppy alike are healthy, thriving, and safe.

Dietary concerns

It’s vital to consider proper dietary conditions for any new canine addition to your home. In many respects, the quality of the food you provide a dog determines his or her lifespan, energy levels, and overall health. Most adoption centres don’t provide you with a comprehensive puppy feeding guide, so you have to learn how best to nourish your pet elsewhere.

To properly feed your puppy, it’s important to consider both the natural dietary needs of a pet and any additional requirements based on breed and health. Bella and Duke provide high-quality raw pet food that nourishes your puppy and promotes healthier outcomes for dogs of all ages. For those interested in learning more about raw food diets and the benefits they can provide, read this useful guide on raw feeding and how it can benefit your new four-legged friend. 

Vaccinations

Once you’ve learned how to nourish your new canine friend through a puppy feeding guide, the next consideration is vaccinations. 

Depending on how and from where your new puppy originated, their vaccines may already be up-to-date. If this isn’t the case, then most veterinarians will recommend a series of immunisations. These include Leptospirosis, as well as distemper, parvovirus, and hepatitis. 

These safeguards taken before or immediately after bringing your new canine pal home will protect the puppy.

Safe spaces

Young puppies are naturally energetic, but seek out places in which to sleep, be calm and relax. New home environments – especially those with young children – can be naturally energetic and distracting settings. This is why it is important to have dedicated “safe spaces” for your puppy where he or she can relax, sleep, and otherwise be tranquil.

Pet owners should absolutely commit to showing new puppies a place where they can sleep, eat, and feel safe. Whether through the use of bedding or crating, establishing a space in the home for dogs to call their own can minimise stress, anxiety, and even bad behaviours.

Restricted areas to protect children and puppies

Just as your new puppy needs a safe space, homes with younger children need to be cognisant of the impact that free-range puppies and kids can have on one another. From toddlers mistreating puppies to those same puppies being playfully-aggressive with toddlers, keeping the two separate from one another during certain times is beneficial for both.

Walling off areas in the home exclusively for puppies and children makes good sense. Whether you need to step out of the room for a few minutes or simply want to minimise the likelihood of potentially harmful interactions, the use of indoor fencing and play areas can successfully quarantine both puppies and children from one another when necessary.

Toys and tools

Puppies naturally want to play: if they lack proper toys and experiences, they will make use of whatever is around them. Parents and homeowners who don’t want misbehaving dogs and ruined furniture should consider investing in a variety of dog toys and tools that are necessary for dog ownership.

Chew toys, treats, and bedding are absolute requirements. Additionally, other tools such as collars and leads, exercise pens, grooming tools, and crates may also prove valuable in select situations. Puppies are no different from people: they crave attention, distractions, and care, so make sure to give them what they need to thrive!

Health arrangements

Last but not least, any new canine addition to the home comes with long-term considerations. The biggest, arguably, is healthcare. When adopting a new pet, it’s critical that you find local vet services that can adequately look after your dog when he or she needs medical attention. 

Finding a veterinarian you trust who is accessible and local should be a top priority. In many cases, this vet will care for your puppy throughout its entire life; it’s important to not only find a local solution but to pick a vet that is right for your puppy’s specific needs.

Once you’ve mastered the puppy feeding guide, in-home protections between children and puppy, healthcare concerns, and your puppy’s day-to-day needs, your family will enjoy many years of happiness and loving interaction with your new addition. These six concerns should always be considered in advance of bringing a new canine addition into the home, as they will ensure everybody is prepared for what any new puppy may bring. 

Enjoy a range of virtual activities and visits without leaving home

We may not be able to get out and about this summer, but many of Surrey's attractions are bringing the fun to us this year. Despite everywhere being closed it is still possible for your family to 'visit' somewhere different as there are plenty of Surrey attractions and venues that have opened their doors to us 'virtually' during this period.

Below we have picked out a few of these and summarised their offering. We have also given you some suggestions for places around the rest of the UK and around the world. If there is somewhere you've always wanted to go to, like the Great Wall of China or the Taj Mahal, now is your chance to experience these wonders of the world in a way that gets closer to the real thing.

Surrey-based 'virtual' activities and tours

Birdworld

Watch the penguins being fed live. Birdworld are streaming their penguin feeds on YouTube. Check their social media channels for dates and times. Watch penguin feeding.

Godstone Farm

Get your fluffy chick fix this Spring by viewing the chick-cam at Godstone Farm. You can also watch videos of other animals like the goats and rabbits. Full on cute alert! Watch baby animals.

Watts Gallery Artists' Village 

Watts Gallery have put together a fantastic programme and have managed to continue some of their drop-in workshops like The Make Space online. You can also take a 360 tour around the paintings, sculptures and Arts and Crafts architecture and explore the beautiful woodlands and grounds. You can experience the studio as if the artist had just walked out. Click to tour.

Polesden Lacey

The National Trust have uploaded over 10,000 of Polesden Lacey's items online, including Dutch Old Master paintings. Explore the collection.

Kew Gardens

Escape to Kew Gardens and see the beautiful blooms as spring unfolds at Kew. Travel to the tropics, the desert and the mountains as you explore the gardens from your sofa. Virtual Kew.

Further afield in the UK

Stonehenge

Take an interactive tour of Stonehenge with a 360 degree view from inside the monument  and click on pop-out videos to find out more. You can also enjoy a live view from within the stone circle and learn about the solar and planet alignment from the ancient stones. Tour Stonehenge

Natural History Museum

Wander the museum's halls, inspecting the butterflies, birds, beasts and fossils up close. An interactive guide gives further details about the 80 million specimens. Ideal for the dinosaur fans in your family. Visit Natural History Museum.

RAF Museum

Panoramic views under the wings of historial aircraft in the musuem's huge hangers. Includes the famous Bomber Hall. Visit RAF Museum.

Marwell Zoo

Check out the webcams and watch what the giraffes and other animals chilling and milling around on the live stream. Watch animals at Marwell.

Rest of the world

Taj Mahal

Explore the 350-year old palace, including the white marbel mausoleum, reflecting pool, paradise gardens and sandstone mosque. Tour Taj Mahal.

Eiffel Tower

View Paris and beyond from the look-out platform at the top of the tower. You can visit the digital exhibition to explore and learn about the history and construction of the tower. Trek up the Eiffel Tower.

Pyramids of Giza

Visit two of the largest pyramids ever built as well as the Great Sphinx. Explore Pyramids in Egypt.

Great Wall of China

Walk along the path on top of the wall and take in the 360-degree views of the surrounding landscape. Walk the Great Wall of China.

We hope you enjoy your virtual tour of Surrey, the UK and the rest of the world and hope it keeps you and your family occupied until we can start visiting these places for real again.

Your new routine: how to stay sane during lockdown

In these strange times, when everything has changed so much, most of us are feeling like we've had the rug pulled from under our feet. I've been reading many articles over the past week or so about how to cope with lockdown and those discussing mental health suggest that setting new routines can help with retaining structure, especially when families are cooped up together for hours on end.

It's been amazing to watch the swell of communication emerging to help us all through these unusual days, particularly via social media. A number of celebrities have turned their hand to giving FREE sessions online and we thought it would be useful to compile them into a handy timetable to help you structure your day. 

Each session lasts for a maximum of 30 minutes giving you lots of wriggle room and time to deal with the unexpected whilst keeping vaguely to the timetable. You can fit your trip out of the house for daily exercise around the timings or plan this for the beginning or the end of the day, depending on how early your children wake up.

Let us know how you get on and share your own ideas on our facebook page.

 

9.00am PE with Joe Wicks Joe broadcasts daily workouts on YouTube. The fun PE lessons last about 30 minutes and you don't need any equipment. They are aimed at kids of any age (although they seem to be popular with mums as well for some reason!)     
10.00am Maths with Carol Vorderman Aimed at 4-12 year olds and matched to the national curriculum. Access to over 1,000 maths sessions, including fun games. Virtual rewards can be printed at home to aid motiviation.
11.00am English with David Walliams Relax with a cuppa and a biscuit as you enjoy elevenses with David Walliams. Each day he is reading an audio story from his best-selling kids' books and he'll be doing all the voices! Stories last for about 15-20 minutes.
12.00pm Lunch (cooking with Jamie Oliver) Jamie has a vast repetoire of meals that are made for and by kids and has plenty of hands on experience as a Dad of five. Have a look at his website for lunch ideas to get the children cooking. And tune into Channel 4 at 5.30pm for his 'Keep Cooking and Carry On' show with plenty of ideas of how to cook during lockdown.
1.00pm Music with Myleene Klass Curiculum-based music classes from Mylene, broadcast on YouTube and aided by her daughters. There is no need for instruments or any prior musical knowledge. Any age or ability welcome.
1.30pm Dance with Darcey Bussell Daily shake-ups via a fun dance programme run by DDMIX for Schools and live on facebook just after lunchtime (let your food settle first!)
2.00pm History with Horrible Histories Catch up with episodes on YouTube including themed compilations and best bits.
4.00pm  Home Economics with Theo Michaels 'Kids Cook with Theo' on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A live cooking class using simple ingredients and aimed at children.

 

Appearing throughout the week at various times:

For your older kids, here are 50 free revision resources for 11+, GCSEs and A-Levels.

Most celebrities are not broadcasting at weekends, so we suggest you have a look at this list of 29 kids' activities so you can stay sane during lockdown. with ideas for different age groups.

And finally if all else fails do not feel guilty if your children end up watching more TV. Amazon Prime Video have made Peppa Pig free to stream during the coronavirus pandemic for a very good reason!

Easy ways to plan playdates

Having small children gives you the chance to plan many playdates with children their age. You get to spend some time interacting with other parents while your children get to develop some key social skills from an early age. Here are some of the best ways to plan playdates with other children.

Watch who they are friendly with

If you have friends with children a similar age to your own, you will no doubt start playdates by having them get together. However, you should also keep your eyes open for friends they are making at any classes or playgroups that you might attend together. This is great as it gives you an indication early on about how they get on with strangers and what types of friends they are likely to make. 

Have you noticed that your child is very close to another at your playgroup? Why not pull that child’s parent aside and ask to arrange a playdate? It could be that simple! By encouraging playdates with as many children as possible, you will get to expose your child to many different lives from a young age.

Keep early playdates simple

Every playdate does not need to be an epic extravaganza. A simple first playdate could just be a run around in the local park. Your children get to play together and have fun no matter what they play on while you and the other parent can watch from afar and get to know each other a little too.

If there is nice weather, why not take advantage of it for a spontaneous playdate? Ask around after a class and have some people over for ice cream and playing in the paddling pool. It can be a few hours of fun for everyone!

Plan more complicated playdates in advance

If your child has one friend that they see often for playdates, you can begin to plan things that are a little more complicated with their friend’s parents. For example, one lovely thing to do might be to head away on an overnight trip. You could all go to an event or somewhere nice like the beach. This easy mini holiday might be something that your children treasure forever. 

However, you need to consider some logistics for this. If both parents can drive, it might not be fair for one to do all the driving and taking two cars might be a little too much. Why not consolidate policies by finding quotes for car insurance that will cover both of you? With the right car insurance quote, one driver can be the main driver on the policy while the other can be a named driver, which means they can share the driving duties. 

Playdates are an important part of your child’s development. Keep an eye out to see who they are making friends with. Before you know it, you could have a full schedule of playdates and your child could be well on their way to becoming a social butterfly. Reach out and find your first playdate now!

Surrey is closed

All venues in Surrey listed on our website have closed temporarily due to the coronavirus pandemic. After government advice all places except parks have closed with immediate effect and have either cancelled or postponed their shows, activities, events, clubs and classes for the forseeable future. All eating venues are now closed 

Inevitably this lockdown is giving a very different shape to life for all of us.

We wish all the staff at the various venues well and thank them for making our Surrey venues such fantastic places to visit. We will be back visiting and enjoying them as soon as we can. In the meantime, please keep safe, respect others, work as a community and stay positive.