Archive for Television, Cinema and Entertainment

The Evolution of the Disney Princess – from love-struck girl to brave warrior

Those feisty Frozen sisters have done a lot for turning the traditional Disney princess ideal on its head.

Frozen - Anna and ElsaMums and Dads everywhere know that Disney is no longer making films for our youngsters that portray weak, passive women waiting to be rescued by a handsome prince – once considered the only way to live ‘happily ever after’.

Now Disney is presenting us with the likes of Merida from Brave and Anna from Frozen, who have no time to sit around and wait for happiness to come along in the form of a handsome prince – they have curses to undo and families to protect!

It is increasingly important that young people are exposed to both strong male and female role models in their formative years. Disney characters are for our toddlers and preteens, the celebs Meriva from Braveand movie stars that their older teenage counterparts similarly look up to and try to emulate. Role models children are exposed to before their teenage years are important in helping them understand that both sexes are capable of being heroic and having the strength to overcome obstacles that are placed in their way.

Kid’s online fashion store, Lamaloli has pulled together a great infographic that charts the evolution of the Disney princess – from Snow White in 1939 to Anna (Frozen) in 2013 – and shows how the roles and personalities of female characters have undertaken a massive shift over the decades.

The Evolution of Disney Princesses

An infographic brought to you by LamaLoLi

Dolphin Tale 2 Review

Dolphin Tale 2On the face of it, and at the start of this gentle tale, this film has a great deal to commend it to a family audience. The first film is based on the true story of Winter, a bottlenose dolphin who was rescued off the coast of Florida in 2005 after losing her tail to a crab trap. So far, all so heart-wringing. This sequel picks up where Dolphin Tale ends and focuses on the need to provide Winter with company. The death of her older dolphin friend, Panama, flings poor Winter into a bout of dangerous behaviour and so remedies are needed and needed fast. This relief comes in the very sweet shape of a young dolphin, renamed Hope, who was rescued at such a young age that she cannot be released to the wild and who would therefore provide the perfect companion for Winter.

Dolphin Tale 2As is the case with a film of this kind we see two distinct stories playing out: the animal and the human. On the human side we have a number of big hitters in Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd and Harry Connick Jr. These are joined by a couple of younger actors who play their roles with admirable seriousness and emotional punch. It’s all very believable and you do find yourself rooting for these characters as they struggle to find the best solution for Winter and juggle this with other commitments.

Then there are the dolphins. These are very cute giving a guaranteed anthropomorphic pull for young kids and yet the film somehow fails to hit the mark. The first problem is with the subject matter. Although you have a character in Winter who is engaging and sweet there is really not a great deal that you can Dolphin Tale 2do with him. The film suffers from a lack of any sense of danger, something shown by the fact that the biggest threat comes from the prospect of Winter having to move to a different aquarium. Also, the setting limits the action. Whenever we see the dolphins -other than one moving moment when one is released back into the ocean- they are firmly stuck inside the aquarium which means that any action and/or excitement is limited to very small sphere.

On the face of it this film appears to have all the ingredients for an engaging and interesting movie. However, it is just a little too serious and a little too limited to be anything other than a valiant effort at telling a true story and making it dramatic.

by Dave Fouracre aka Dave the Dad who watched the film with children Tom 9, Harry 6 and Caitlin 4.

Read Dave’s review of The Nut Job DVD

Disneyland Paris Presents The Imagination Castle

Back in February this year, Disneyland Paris launched a competition inviting children age 3 to 8 to design their own Sleeping Beauty Castle or   “The Imagination Castle” as they prefer to call it.

Children entered in their droves – drawing, painting and in some cases actually creating their own imagination castle. The 16 winners from The UK, Spain, France, Belgium and the Netherlands won a fantastic full board trip to Disneyland Paris with the chance to see the Imagination Castle itself brought to life in front of them. Watch the video below! How proud do those little faces look! It really is lovely too to see that the children’s work was taken at face value and the Disney team didn’t try to change their ideas.

Right from the start Walt Disney wanted children to be able to live their dreams and make them a reality – and the Imagination Castle shows that Disney are continuing to follow that maxim.

The amazing Imagination Castle based on the winning childrens’ ideas was displayed in the Jardin des Tuileries, smack bang in the centre of Paris. An incredible achievement for 16 very young budding architects, to say the least.


Our New Netgear Gigabit Network

Netgear N900 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit RouterI’d been reading about the various improvements in networking equipment for some time and often wondered what the point was when our current broadband speeds don’t even come close to the speeds that modern networking gear can provide.

But then I reflected that it’s not only internet connectivity that is affected.

The Netgear Gigabit Network

I decided to upgrade our network to a new Netgear Gigabit Network router and 8-port gigabit switch to see exactly how the improvements would be noticed.

First impressions were very positive concerning everything about the Netgear package.  It is incredibly simple to set-up, with pre-configured security parameters and simple admin logins for the router.  It really is as simple as plug-and-play!  Not only that, but it all looks so good too.  Both the router and the switch are beautifully finished and don’t look at all out of place in any office or contemporary setting.  The presence of two additional USB ports on the router allow for easy access to additional storage, which can also be set up to access remotely if required.

Wireless connectivity uses both 2.5 and 5 GHz bands, allowing much improved reliability on wireless connections and the preconfigured security settings mentioned above made extremely light work of reconfiguring the devices that were previously using the old router wirelessly.Netgear GS608 Gigabit Network Switch

So how is it better than what we had before?  Well, we keep a huge number of shared files on a network storage drive which includes everything from images to songs to pdfs, to spreadsheets and much more in between.  Using each PC to access and use these files used to incur a time delay while thumbnails, previews or listings were loaded.  This is where the new gigabit setup really shines.  If we now need to scan through a few hundred image thumbnails from a particular folder it’s immediate – almost instantaneous and when saving files to networked locations, again there is no delay.  It is as though you were saving to your own PC’s hard drive.

Netgear LogoAs internet connection speeds improve further this new network will surely further enhance the experience, allowing ultra-fast streaming of video and music files to the various devices connected to the network.

It has been an eye-opener and I am genuinely surprised by the improvement in performance that the Netgear Gigabit network equipment has provided.

We’re Having A Baby

Firecracker logoAre you having a baby?
Are you aged 16 – 25?
Do you want to share your story?

Firecracker Films are making a documentary for BBC3, following young Brits embarking on one of the most remarkable journeys of their lives – having a baby.

  • We’re looking for individuals or couples, aged between 16-25, who are having a baby and want to share their story.
  • We want YOU to film yourself over several months, capturing the highs and lows along the way.
  • Perhaps you’ve just found out you’re pregnant, or you’re soon to give birth? Maybe this is your first child, or perhaps you’re already a parent? Is having a child scary, hard work, as well as joyous and rewarding?
  • Whatever your experience, this is a unique opportunity to tell your story, in your own words.

If you’d like to know more, please contact
baby[at]  or call 020 7349 7048

All correspondence will be dealt with in complete confidence and by contacting us you are not making a commitment to take part in the final programme.

Marley and Me – The Puppy Years

I am not a dog lover at all but am already looking forward to watching ‘Marley and Me- The Puppy Years’ .

A few of our product reviewers were sent the film to watch recently and judging by their comments, the film went down really well with them.

I cried like a baby at the original Marley and Me but this new Marley seems to be much funnier.

Reviews of ‘Marley and Me – The Puppy Years’

Marli Harwood and Her Baby

A particularly persistent PR blokey has been nagging us for months to ‘mention’ Marli Harwood but I’ve been deliberately digging my heels in and not playing the game. No way am I going to listen to a CD just because someone who is paid to big an artist up, asks me to!

More fool me, it turns out though as it looks like I’ve just been cutting my own nose off to spite my face. Stuck in the car on a longish journey on the weekend, I fed the Marli Harwood album into the slot and sat back to listen. I was determined not to like it but found myself intrigued and dare I say it, impressed! Woah, this is good, I reluctantly admitted to myself and the other half agreed.

Marli Harwood

Marli Harwood Album

There’s a track called ‘Clock With No Hands’ which most of us can identify with – a song about life going too fast and encouraging us to grab every opportunity going. And ‘Billy’ is one of those heartrending songs about unrequited love which made me feel quite tearful. Mind you, I cried at Waterloo Road last week so that’s not really much of a benchmark.

Marli has a genuinely interesting story behind her too as she’d been trying to make it in the world of music for 16 years and had given up to start a family. It was when she was 3 months pregnant that Radio 2 made one of her songs, ‘It’s Called a Heart’,  Record of the Week. This sparked off a flurry of recording contract offers and she eventually settled with Island Records who built a unique maternity clause into her contract – so now Marli looks like fulfilling 2 dreams.  She’s going to be a Mum and on the basis of her new album ‘Clocks And full Stops’, she’s obviously going to be a successful recording star. Buy the CD, Download or whatever – it really is well worth it!

Kathryn C

I have 3 sample CDs with 5 of the best tracks on to give away. Just comment here if you’d like it.

Katy And Lorraine – Which Twin Buggies?

The first ‘work’ conducted in my thirtieth year was a spot of filming for TheBabyWebsite and Lorraine Kelly. For one day only my official title was to be Tandem Buggy Expert. I did my homework on my top three buggies and the boys and I travelled two and a half hours to the filming destination. Foot/ train / cab…. There was no one to help me with the boys on arrival so I fed them and kept them happy until they were ready for me.Katy's Twins in Their Tandem Buggy

I had expected a ‘proper presenter’ to be there to ask me questions and perhaps an extra pair of hands to help with the boys…. So you can imagine my shock when I was miked up and told to present the whole piece to camera myself! Yes, still while keeping an eye on the boys, and remembering what I had to say, which was COMPLETELY different to what I was told to prepare as they wanted one sentence per product, not the paragraphs that I had prepped.

I know what you’re thinking – how hard is it to think of one sentence? Well, when you have a few moments to gather your thoughts, not hard at all… but when you have a camera rolling, three seasoned crew members looking at you and two babies threatening to cause havoc at any moment… well, let’s just say it is not conducive to being the most intelligent version of you that you can be.

Bailey & NoahMy most Bridget-esque moment was undoubtedly when Noah fell off the rocking horse they wanted him to sit on and I squealed and dived off camera to save him!

The boys were impeccably well behaved, despite missing a nap, and will no doubt come across on TV a lot better than their Mum. I looked enviously at the next Buggy Expert who started filming her piece as I was leaving; Assistant in tow, make up bag on her knee, clip board at the ready…. Sigh. Still. She didn’t get two cuddles on the train home to cheer her up after a Very.Long.Day.
Katy Hymas Mum to 1 year old twin boys Noah and Bailey

Read Katy’s Mummy Blogs Here

You can read Which Twin Buggies Katy Recommends Here.


More proof that Mums rock!

For those of you that are not familar with the scientific brilliance that are Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, I absolutely recommend that you watch their show ‘Mythbusters’, especially if you like big boomy explosions, as I do.

For those of you that are familar with the show, let us discuss the episode in which they tested the ‘myth’: that women have a higher pain tolerance than men.

Jamie and Adam begin by visiting the Stanford University Pain Centre to determine the best technique for inducing pain, using themselves as the subjects of the test.  After various tests including heat, electricity, and injecting capsaicin under their skin, they decide to conduct their expeirmient using ice as a means of inducing pain.

25 men and 25 women, neither one of which knew what they were about to do or why, were asked to individually dunk their hand in a bucket of ice cold water of one degree above freezing. There was a time limit of three minutes, but the test subjects were not told this. If the three minutes elapsed, the test subjects were asked to remove their hand, so as to minimise any damage. Each subject was told to keep their hand in the water for as long as they could, until they could stand the pain no longer. The time would then be recorded.
So what was the result? You guessed it, in this test, it was proven that  women do indeed,  have a higher tolerance for pain than men. The men lasted an average of 84.3 seconds, whereas, the women lasted an average of 100.4 seconds.

Impressed? It gets better. Of the 25 women subects, just over half were mothers. The majority of these mothers had given birth nauturally with minimal pain relief. 13 of these 25 women lasted near three minutes, if not the whole three minutes.

Women can, in fact, tolerate more pain than men. ‘Myth’ confirmed.

In The Night Garden live

When we saw the adverts for In The Night Garden Live several months ago, we knew we had to get tickets for Ella. At the time she loved Iggle Piggle. So we checked dates, times and prices and chose 24th September as I would be off work on the September weekend. It cost over £50 for the 3 of us, as we decided to opt for the premium seats – front 4 rows, to allow Ella to see.

In The Night Garden Live

However, as time passed, Ella became less and less interested in the programme. Regardless we were going, and all this week we have got Iggle Piggle dancing toy out, and put In the Night Garden on the TV to encourage her. Each time we were met with “NO NO NO” Oh dear we thought, this could be a disaster.
So yesterday, Neil came home from work early, only to find a very tired Ella who was refusing to sleep.
We headed into Glasgow, when she eventually fell asleep – just as we were heading for some dinner. SO instead of dinner, we bought crisps and juice to take with us, and thought we would have dinner after the show.
We arrived at Glasgow Green, but weren’t sure where the show would be. So decided it would be best to park in the “official” car park – which lets be honest was a dump! Having left the pram at home, we thought we would only have a very short walk to the arena. No! We had to cross a very busy part of the road, and then walk a fair distance. Still Neil was there to carry the heavy lump! hehehe.
Along the walk there were signs with the Pinky Ponk showing the direction. Ella clocked these signs, and began very excitedly chatting and pointing at them. It became a game to find the next sign.
As we arrived at the dome, she seemed really excited – we had spent the entire day / walk saying we were going to see Iggle Piggle so not sure if any of that had sunk in.
In the queue, there were loads of children dressed up, and this amused Ella no end! She pointed at each one shouting what we think was “daisy”.
As the doors opened, it was time to go in. As we arrived inside the dome, Ella became very animated. She honestly didn’t know what to look at first. As we walked to our seats, the place was all decorated just like the Garden. She was beside herself with excitement by now!. Every 10 mins or so, the voice over from the show would talk about how long to go, also make some comment about one of the characters. We choose to sit centre stage on the 2nd row, but Ella sat on the first row. Every time she looked around another shout of glee as she found images of Iggle Piggle, Upsy Daisy and the Pontypines wee house.
Then the lights went down, and the show was ready to start. On the walls of the dome, they projected the initial scenes of the programme – including with the child’s hand and the starry sky. Then on came a puppet Iggle Piggle in his boat. The magic had began. All the characters came on as puppets and Ella was delighted.
Then in the background Iggle Piggle’s tune was played. The life size Iggle Piggle keeked out round from the back of the stage. Poor Ella nearly wet herself – well actually having felt how wet her nappy was about half way through the show was she probably did hehehehe.
For the rest of the show, a combination of life size characters, puppets and projections were available at all times. Ella was totally mesmerized. The only downside was that at an hour long – it was probably too long for a 19 month old. Although that said, she still sat mesmerized – better than many of the older children. However, she had moved from sitting on her own in the front row to our knees. Which is when the nappy became so full, that she pee’ed on my knee! ooooops.
At the end of the show, they followed the pattern of the show, and after the story each character was put to bed. Ella, knowing the show all too well, realised that this was clearly the end of the show and became quite hysterical. She was upset the show was over – because she had enjoyed it so much. However as Iggle Piggle came out to show he wasn’t in bed, she calmed down enough to wave goodbye to him. She even managed a smile and a wave to the staff on the way out the door.
So we have to say that despite having to pay an adult price for Ella, that was definately the best £50 we have ever spent! And now today, Mickey Mouse ( her new best pal) has been demoted once again in favour for, no not Iggle Piggle or Upsy Daisy, but in fact Makka Pakka. She has spent all day today shouting “Makka” and so we have a new word in her vocabulary as well.
I would completely recommend going to see the show if you have a small child – even those who liked the programme in the past would love it. Totally something for everyone. Well done the producers for putting together such a wonderfully entrancing show.

Now Read Dave The Dad’s review of ‘Walking With Dinosaurs