little melbourne

Not much sleepin’ going on…

I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again – I really love school holidays.

And this is why…it gives me time to hang out with my two favourite little people, and to help them create wonderful memories of an ever-so-slightly magical childhood.

Part of doing this is through simple things like trips to the movies, or a lunch with friends. Other times it’s a bit more adventurous, like last Friday’s trip into the city to see Still Awake Still! at the Art Centre, Melbourne.

We gave ourselves plenty of time, enjoying the train trip into Flinders Street and took our time weaving through the crowd of football supporters who were eagerly awaiting this year’s grand final parade. Ignoring grand final fever and the sea of blue, black and white, we wandered into the stunning, much quieter, Arts Centre.

After picking up our tickets (big thanks to Little Melbourne!), we paused for a little heavenly entertainment, courtesy of The Fallen Angels. They caught my eye and brought to mind Wings of Desire (another of my guilty 1990s pleasures). For Oscar, he just enjoyed the music and the Angels’ simple game of follow-the-leader around the foyer of the Kids at the Art Centre set-up.

This was followed by a little lunch in the last of the Melbourne sunshine, a browse through a display of original illustrations from the book on which this production was based, I’m Still Awake, Still, by Elizabeth Honey and Sue Johnson and a quick cruisy groove to some of the book’s lullabies.

And then (some ten-year olds might say ‘…finally’) the show itself: Still Awake Still!

It started off quietly, as you might expect, with Miss Tinklefinger working hard to put the theatre-full of rowdy kids to sleep. ‘The Queen of Sleep’ twinkled her fingers on the keyboard, sang and hummed soothingly but to no avail…

The audience wasn’t having a bar of sleepy-time, and told Miss Tinklefinger in no uncertain terms that her magic was most definitely not going to work on them! After this, it wasn’t long before things went just a little bit silly.

What looked to start with to be an impressively large grand piano, fit for many a lullaby, turned out to be a magical playground for two clownish imps and a cast of furry friends. Kids and parents alike laughed and giggled along with these whimsical boys. Miss Tinklefinger was a tougher nut to crack, and it took some time to get her to enjoy a little bit of creative chaos.

But when she did, the fun really began!

The music, the singing, the puppetry of this performance was fabulous, and both my boys loved it from start to finish. They were intrigued by the seemingly never-ending supply of silly props and dug the funky double bass. Oscar yelled loudly with the crowd, in true pantomime style “It’s behind you!!” which made me giggle under my breath.

And just when you would have been forgiven for thinking that peace and quiet, fit for sleep, was worlds away, Still Awake Still! offered a surprise. A wordless and haunting tune turned Miss Tinklefinger’s piano into a Jurassic garden, lit with blues and greens and spinning chrome. I LOVED IT! It was beautiful, soothing and a garden fit for a queen, of sleep.

...with Sue Johnson

The production, by Jump Leads, is inspired by the songs from the children’s book I’m Still Awake, Still! by Elizabeth Honey and Sue Johnson. I’m really looking forward to getting hold of a copy of the book and music. I’m thinking it might make for a nice gift for a little girl I know…

Thanks again to Little Melbourne for helping me get the boys to this show, I love your give-aways!

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Entertain them, the Little Melbourne way

I really enjoy school holidays, but even so, kids bouncing off walls is no fun for anyone. So, I asked Jo from Little Melbourne if she’d like to suggest some fun ideas for the school break. To my delight, she did, and so here are some really different, fun ideas for keeping the kids entertained.

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If you’re in search of something that ‘little bit different‘ these School Holidays then check out Little Melbourne’s recommended activities and events happening in and around Melbourne.

A Day at the Circus – School Holiday Program
Roll up the circus is coming! During the September School Holidays, the National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA) is offering a series of full-day activities comprising circus skills workshops, performances by renowned children’s entertainers, fun circus games and classic circus films.
When: 26th September – 2nd October

Arts Program
Let the budding young artist in your family explore a world of creativity with three jam packed days of fun, facilitated by leading artists, including classes in music, puppetry, circus, animation, and visual arts. Held at the Footscray Community Arts Centre.
When: 4, 5 and 6th October

Northcote Kids Festival
With 55 performances over 13 days, and workshops in theatre, music & performance, there’s something inspiring for all ages at the Northcote Kids Festival.
When: 25th September – 9th October

Georgie Porgie Cooking for Kids
Georgie Porgie Cooking for Kids is a hands on and interactive introduction into cooking aimed at the 8-12 year old crowd. George will teach you about how to find the best ingredients, and the secrets behind making a delicious meal.
When: 3rd October

Petit Atelier + Twisted Tastes Holiday Program
Get your kids out of the house and into the studio, with one of Petit Atelier’s inventive Art and Craft Workshops! There’s an exciting range of activities to stimulate your blossoming artist and solve the “Mum I’m bored” dilemma!
When: 26th September – 7th October


Little Picassos in the Garden at Babycinos Cafe
Gardening 4 Kids and Mini Picassos are teaming up these September school holidays for some gardening and art workshops for the kids. Your creative little green thumbs will be kept busy with planting, garden art and story time activities.
When: Wednesday 28th September and Friday 7th October

Bollywood Workshop at The Arts Centre
Learn how to move your body and twirl your hands to the exotic sounds of India in this simple and energetic Bollywood routine with Parvyn Kaur Singh & Josh Bennett. While taking a breath from dancing, you can listen to the soothing sounds of instruments such as the sitar and dil ruba (bowed sitar) and learn how to beat-box Indian-style on the table.
When: Wed 28 September – Sun 2 October

Looney Tunes Live! Classroom Capers
This hot new musical will have you on your toes. It’s a barrel of laughs for the whole family. Starring Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tweety, Sylvester, Taz, Marvin the Martian and Porky Pig. Don’t miss this fun-filled up-close-and-personal lesson of classic gags that made Looney Tunes a must-see class act!
When: Scattered dates over September – October

Is this where Thomas the Tank Engine Lives? Natured Kids Program
Sessions have related songs, stories, activities, craft, with time afterwards for you to relax, play and picnic in nature.
When: Tuesday 20th and Wednesday 21st September

The Enchanted Maze
An explosion of mind blowing 3D fun, giant twisting tube slides, towering topiary hedges, a spine tingling indoor maze, an sweet filled lolly shop serving old fashioned humbugs, acid drops and hand made boiled sweets, a cafe and stunning gardens and you’ve got yourself a great family filled day out!
When: Throughout the Holidays and beyond

The Living Library
True stories from real people.

In The Living Library you’ll meet a friendly librarian, borrow a ‘living book’ (or two or three!) and discover all kinds of true stories. Sit down together in the cosy library to hear about books’ lives, adventures and misadventures!
When: Wednesday 28th September – Sunday 2nd October

Reptile Encounters at the Queen Victoria Market
It’s not every day you come across pythons and crocodiles at the Market. But when you visit the Market during the first week of the School Holidays, you can expect to meet these as well as lots of creepy crawlies!
When: Tuesday 27th and Thursday 29th September

Crayola Creative Hub at Harbour Town Melbourne
Calling all creative kids! For the first time in Melbourne, the colour of Crayola, Australia’s number one children’s art and craft brand comes to life in a fun and interactive LIVE event. Kids can check out the ‘Lights, Camera, Colour’ tool that turns photos into a black and white colouring page for printing, then road test the latest Crayola products and take home their completed works-of-art, FREE!
When: 3rd – 9th October

By the Pond Launch at Spring Open Day
By the Pond‘ launch is being held at 10.30-11.30am at the Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens, Spring Open Day on Sunday September 25th. Alex Papps (fabulous Play School presenter, also very fondly remembered as Frank on Home and Away) will be launching ‘By the Pond’. We’ll also have an indoor/outdoor screening with live entertainment to get the kiddies hopping, buzzing and quacking about, and finish up with some craft activities.
When: 25th September

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Little Melbourne is a great place to find out about what’s on and happening in Melbourne for parents and their little ones.

The wide range of activities means there is a little something for everyone, and budget conscious suggestions are frequently included. If you’re keen to get the kids out of the house, have a browse on this great site.

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A heart-felt thanks

Another month is over, and that means, sadly, that I have to finish off BE MY GUEST August. It’s been a blast, and I really hope you’ve enjoyed hearing some new voices here at That Book You Like…

I want to say a huge, heart-felt thank-you to my great new friends for agreeing to help out with this little experiment of mine. Thanks so much to…

Fiona from My Mummy Daze, who shared her thoughts on the book, Happily Ever After? by Benison Anne O’Reilly. I’m looking forward to reading this, it sounds like it’ll really hit home. Fiona’s blog is a stand-out mummy-blog, and well worth a look. Wonderful documentation of modern motherhood, and lots of great give-aways too.

Amanda from Rumble (Underground), who gave us a snap shot of a favourite of her’s, Adam Lambert. Amanda’s site produces fascinating podcasts with equally fascinating people. I’ve got a few to catch up on, so I might spend a few hours with my ipod soon to listen to her latest.

Jackie from My Little Bookcase, who provided a wonderful rundown of the great work of Nick Bland. I’ve since read Oscar The Very Cranky Bear many, many times. Jackie’s site is a constant inspiration, both in terms of great books for kids, but also for ways to help create a real love for reading in our little ones. Her recommendations and activities are always spot on.

Jo from Little Melbourne, who gave us some fabulous ideas for outings and activities to keep the kidlings in hand. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I can’t go past this one-stop-shop for ideas for outings with the kids. Now that I’m back up and running, this site will be my first stop to find something fun to do with Oscar and Evan, especially as the holidays are coming up quick.

Karyn from A Penguin a Week, whose pictures of green grass, blue skies and books, books, books had me spellbound. Karyn’s blog is such a wonderful concept, and I love reading her reviews. Collecting and reading at its finest.

Jess from Whoa, Mamma!, with her fun and sincere thoughts on the book, Anonymums by the Anonymums. As I’ve said before, Jess’s site is funny and insightful. Sometimes humorous, sometimes more serious, but always entertaining…

August was a tricky month, there’s no doubt about it, but it was made all the easier by these wonderful ladies who helped me out with posts to share and welcome distractions while I was laid up. Again, thanks.

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Lots of wonderful little ideas

I really love today’s post, it’s just brim full of wonderful ideas…books, makings, and time for tea. Today’s Be My Guest is Jo from Little Melbourne, and she’s kindly shared with us some of her favourite things. Thanks so much Jo…

To Read | A few of our Favourite ‘sleepy time’ reads
Asking for one more story before bed is the oldest trick in the book. And you fall for it every time. Here’s what we’re reading:

The Green-Eyed Mouse and the Blue-Eyed Mouse, by Bob Gill
This sweet story centers around two timid mice, Noah and Rafaella, who meet each other for the first time by peering through a dark hole. Seeing only the other’s eyes, the mice guess that they belong to anything from an exotic animal to a snake to a traffic warden. Until, on the count of three, they face their fears and emerge to discover that they’re not so different after all.

The retro drawings, die-cut holes perfect for peeking, and clever colour-coded text make it an instant classic that teaches one of life’s most important lessons: You can’t judge a book by its cover.


Spot It! Find the Hidden Creatures, by Delphine Chedru
Following clues in the brief text, readers must search out the hidden creature in each spread, often disguised in clever and unexpected ways. The unique designs and concealed animals turn this book into a treasure hunt for clever young readers. Once grown-ups and kids begin the hunt, they won’t be able to resist finding all of the creatures!

Zoo, by Bruno Munari
Come and visit the animals in Bruno Munari’s zoo. The book is a visual delight, and the story witty and playful – exactly the sort of book to dive into with your little one.

Lost and Found, by Oliver Jeffers
Lost and Found is a simple tale about a boy and a penguin and their growing friendship. Jeffers jumps into a childs mind and thinks out each scenario with the depth and obsession of a child and this clever style engages with children instantly as they can see themselves in the boy.

Walk the Dog A Parade of Pooches from A to Z, by Bob Barner
This tail-wagging book features an alphabet of jumping, barking, playing dogs. From Airedales to Zwergpinschers, the 26 breeds gather to form one big, boisterous, barking pack. Bob Barner’s colourful collage illustrations and a bouncy, fun-to- read-aloud text make this book a playful introduction to man’s (and kid’s) best friend.

Press Here, by Herve Tullet
The single touch of a finger sparks a whimsical dance of colour and motion in this joyful celebration of the power of the imagination. Press here. That’s right. Just press the yellow dot…and turn the page.


To Create | Something to do at home to cure the boredom blues

MAKE IT YOURSELF CHALK

1 cup of plaster of Paris
1/2 cup of cold water
Popsicle/Icypole Molds
Tempera Paint (powdered is best)

Combine Plaster of Paris, water and tempera paint. The amount of tempera you add will determine how dark the coloured chalk will be. Pour the mixture into candy or popsicle/icypole molds and let dry.

Take the chalk out of molds and use for drawing on the sidewalk. This chalk will be most effective right after taking out of the molds. You could also use a toilet paper roll and a little tip is to line your molds or rolls with wax paper to allow the chalk to slip easily out of the molds.

Let the fun begin!


To Eat | Eating and Reading….A Match made in heaven

Not too big, not too small, Teatime & Tales Cafe and Bookshop has a bit of everything: a cafe stocked with carbs, treats and caffeine, a loungy area with plenty of cushioned seating, activities on offer for little cooks and artists, and, of course, books galore. Little mini’s are kept entertained with toys and books, for Mums there are cushions for nursing and there’s even Wifi. A babies and kids menu is a given.


To Do | Celebrating Book Week at The National Sports Museum

Celebrate with the National Sports Museum and the MCC library with the theme One World, Many Stories – Books and the Hidden History of the MCG. Come along to a workshop, learn how to draw your own caricature and meet author-illustrator of The Invincible Bunyips, Paul Harvey each day at 11.00am, 11.30am, 1.00pm or 1.30pm. Here’s some more ideas to celebrate Children’s Book Week 2011.


To Visit | Closed Loop Cool Kids Day 28th August

The Closed Loop Cool Kids Day is open to all kids between the ages of 4 and 12. There will be loads of different activities running throughout the day to keep big and little kids busy, and keep mums and dads happy.

On the big stage they’ll be entertaining you with live performances.

Off stage, cool kids can have a crack at rock climbing on the Anaconda rock wall, meeting a snake (eeek!!!!) or a celebrity (oooh!!!), face-painting, pot planting, building, painting and crafts, loads of games and cool prizes.

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Jo’s site Little Melbourne is another one of my favourites, as it’s a great place to find out about what’s on and happening in Melbourne for parents and their little ones.

The range of activities means there is a little something for everyone, and budget conscious suggestions are frequently included. If you’re keen to get the kids out of the house, have a browse on this great site.

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Art of the Brick

It was Evan’s turn today for a city day-trip, and along with some school buddies we headed off into Federation Square for a bit of Lego action. I’ve been really looking forward to seeing Nathan Sawaya’s Art of the Brick, and it did not disappoint.

I’m pretty sure I’m safe in saying that once a Lego kid, always a Lego kid, and I am most certainly a fan of the little plastic block. In saying that, I wouldn’t have been as interested in seeing a Legoland type of display – cityscapes, spaceships, car-like creations. Although these types of structures require immense talent and incredibly steady hands, it’s not so much the type of things I’m interested in seeing.

Nathan Sawaya’s exhibition is very different to this. His work is sculptural, emotional, and in many ways very mature. It’s a fascinating contrast between medium and content. It’s a bit like seeing the Mona Lisa drawn in crayon…it perplexes one just a little.

And although I think the boys were a little distracted by the prospect of laser skirmish in the afternoon (oh boys…), I think Evan got into the show almost as much as I did. He was suitably impressed by the level of difficulty, both in terms of the construction and the transportation of the sculptures. I think he got the contrast too. He was compelled to get up very close, to look at the details, to study the expressions on the Lego faces all with a little frown on his own face.

He loved the dinosaur, huge and tactile, and he spent a fair while studying the globe of the world. He was also very keen on the coloured skulls, bright and bold on the black wall – he was really fascinated by their symmetry, four skulls exactly the same, only different in colour.

Personally, I particularly like Mask and Yellow, and I’ll admit I would have liked one the skulls to take home for my wall.

We didn’t stay for ages, just long enough to look at everything a couple of times. It was pretty busy, but not overwhelmingly so. Just the right amount of action to make you feel you were in the middle of a pretty exciting show. I noticed that the ‘Play and Build’ sessions were solidly booked out for most of the day – luckily the kids weren’t that keen on doing building of their own, but had they been, pre-booking would have been a must.

This is a really interesting show, well worth looking at as a day out. Being in Federation Square, it’s in a great location too, very easy to get to. If you’re interested in finding out more, you can check out their link on Little Melbourne’s site.

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Oscar’s laughing

Now this was an interesting one…Walt Disney’s Fantasia at the Palais Theatre. To me, it was a perfect combination, but I really wasn’t sure how it would suit Matt and the boys. Still, being hell bent on getting us all along to many and varied types of outings, I insisted. It was a completely perfect day for a family outing and a great day to head down to St Kilda. We even managed a little walk along the foreshore, albeit a chilly one.

Evan was suitably impressed with the Palais, and kindly indulged me by listening to the stories of when I saw the Arctic Monkey’s from the balcony, and how I saw Bob Dylan play there when I was a teenager. Matt and I enjoyed the novelty of visiting the Palais during the day, something neither of us had done before. It was also a bit of fun to be able to stroll around the dress circle a bit more casually than you would normally be able to.

Oscar was just excited about being taken to the movies again, and was quite thrilled to be amongst so many other little kids.

I don’t think I’ve seen Fantasia before, at least not in its entirety. It is such a beautiful experience. It mesmerises and quietly inspires. I particularly liked the opening sequence and Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony. 

Evan wasn’t quite so sure about this part of the film, I think the the unicorns were a little too ‘My Little Pony‘ for his tastes, but he really seemed to enjoy The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and the film overall. It took him a bit by surprise that there was no story as such, but he quickly got used to it.

Oscar really got into the The Rite of Spring scene, which was probably no surprise…what kind of kid doesn’t get into some dinosaur action! The dancing hippos and crocodiles in Dance of the Hours had him laughing out loud. I’ve not actually ever heard him laugh like that at a film before, it was a special treat. He really seemed to enjoy the music too, he even tried at one point to sing along with the orchestra. It was a nice follow-up to his jazz experience last month.

It was very cute to hear all the kids, including Oscar, ooh and ah throughout the film. The absence of dialogue seemed to give them license to chat more than they would normally, and they loved pointing out what was on the screen. It was interesting that this type of film experience seemed to be less immersive, less all-consuming than say a Pixar or Dreamworks film, the kids moved and chattered and laughed out loud…something that doesn’t seem to happen so much in the cinema normally. It was a nice experience, to hear them interpret what they were seeing as they were seeing it.

This screening was held as part of the Music on Film Festival. I really love the idea of this festival, and will be keeping an eye out for it next year. I wish I was a little freer today, if I was I’d spend the whole day watching films – they’re having a Scorsese Sunday!

Finally, I really have to thank Little Melbourne again. Firstly for making sure that we knew about this great event and secondly, for running the ticket give-away…I can’t remember the last time I won a prize, and it was perfect! Thanks guys, you rock!

And next for some lego

What have you got planned for the second week of these wintery holidays?

All aboard for Swing City

I was quite thrilled a few weeks ago when I discovered that my three-year old Oscar liked jazz music. I’m no aficionado, but I like a little jazz, and it most certainly makes a nice break from listening to kids shows, dinosaurs and super heros in the background, during the sometimes longish days at home with little Osc.

So, when I came across the link to Play School’s Big Jazz Adventure on Little Melbourne’s site, the timing could not have been more perfect. I bought tickets and this Sunday just gone, Oscar and I took ourselves off into the city for a Mum and Bub big day out.

As well as being a mini-jazz fan, Oscar absolutely loves Play School. This is a fixation I wholeheartedly support, as it’s much more age appropriate than the Ben 10, Star Wars and Harry Potter that he’s often obsessed with (the joys of having both a 3 year old and 10 year old in the house). Before the show, he let me know that he was particularly excited about seeing Humpty Dumpty and his Dad had asked him to say a big hello to Big Ted for him. Much to his delight, both Humpty and Ted put in an appearance, as did old favourites like Jemima and Morris.

Oscar was so engrossed, so enamoured with the whole production (the music and a stage set-up quite obviously Play School-ey) that he didn’t even move for the first couple of songs. He sat there, wide-eyed, mouth agape…it was, simply put, one of the best things I’ve ever seen. As a Mum, there is nothing quite like getting to see first hand, your child really enjoying something, really taking it all in. I was happy to see that I’d gotten it pretty right with this gig.

After a little while, and a few pokes from me, he started to dance and sing along with Teo and Rachel. The show itself was a really fun mix of nursery rhymes and more jazzy numbers, and both Teo and Rachel managed the songs beautifully. Oscar and I had made a bit of a list of songs that we thought we might hear, and many of them made it into the show. And, there was most definitely no shortage of animal noises and tea-pot actions for the kids to have fun with.

To top of the day, Oscar convinced his push-over Mum that a Humpty Dumpty toy (a big one, a big one mum!) would be just the ticket to round off this jazz adventure. It is now his new favourite thing, they’re quite inseparable.

I’ve got to admit too that playing with Humpty Dumpty on the train home made me very nostalgic…Humpty really hasn’t changed all that much since I was a kid. A bit of trivia for those playing along at home, Play School turns 45 years old this year. They must be doing something right.

In short, I can’t think of a better way to have spent my Sunday – thanks Mr. Oscar for a wonderful day out in swing city.

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Mum-friendly kid treats

Very little time in front of the computer this weekend means that I’ve got a couple of things that I want to share today – a book, a gig, and an exhibition.

First up is a book that I meant to mention a little while ago, before I got a bit carried away with all this going-out-in-public stuff.

By now I’m sure you’ve heard that Lisa McCune has released a book, Hopscotch and Honey Joys. It’s essentially a cookbook, beautifully put together by Lisa and her good friend Di Thomas, but it is also much more than a collection of recipes. It’s been put together like a lovely, personal scrapbook of ideas…a Mum’s guide to lovely things for kids and kin.

Between them Lisa and Di have six children between the ages of four and nine, and as such the content is really helpful and fun for a pretty wide range of us, from those with really young kids as well as those whose kidlings are a little more grown up.

I’m thinking that Hopscotch and Honey Joys would be a really great gift for a new Mum, as it’s got some really great ‘basics’ in it, like tips for travelling with kids, party games, knowing your different types of potatoes, etc.

It’s an effective blend of tips and recipes, and I particularly like the fact that many of the recipe ideas would be great for cooking with the kids. I’m really finding that including Oscar in the cooking process is helping with his pathological dislike for anything not vegemite, so any ideas for kid-friendly cooking goes down really well with me.

My personal favourites; creamy rice pudding (yum, yum, winter fun), potato printing (might try this one this afternoon), shaving cream play (never mind the mess guys), and the carbonara gnocchi bake (my mouth is watering just thinking about it.) If you’re keen for a sneak peak, you check out a couple of pages here.

This is a really well put together book, with a wonderful balance of fun and function. Check it out.

Now, I’ve been doing a fair few outings on my own, which has been a very nice treat, but I was starting to feel a little guilty.  As such, I had a bit of a look around on Little Melbourne and found some great kid’s gigs coming up in June. I’ve picked out one for Evan, and one for Oscar and I’m looking forward to some nice one-to-one time with each of them.

I’ve just bought tickets to see Play School’s Big Jazz Adventure, running 12 and  13 June at Melbourne Town Hall. This caught my eye for obvious reasons (Play School + three-year old = happy) but also because I discovered last week that Oscar quite digs jazz. Let’s see if we can’t make him even cooler than he already is.

Given that I didn’t think that the Play School gig was really going to cut it with my ten-year old, I found something different for Evan. We’re thinking of getting along to see The Art of the Brick at Federation Square. I’ll admit, this is also a little self serving, as I’m a very big lego fan, but I do think that the boy will get into it as well. Should make for a nice day out regardless.

So here’s to hoping my energy holds out, it’s looking like June’s pretty packed too!