Friday, 30 March 2012

Easter treats that won’t widen the waistline Easter 2012

Easter treats that won’t widen the waistlineEaster 2012

Crack the custom of the chocolate egg this Easter and instead give beautiful flowering bulbs to brighten the home and manage the waistline, says the Flower Council of Holland.

Sweeter smelling than a chocolate box, indoor flowering bulbs in pots and vases such as narcissus, hyacinth, iris and tulip are perfect for freshening up the home and livening up surroundings.

Get the kid’s involved by encouraging them to decorate pots using Easter-themed wrapping paper, stickers or magazine cuttings or rummage around the house for make-shift containers.  Pot a colourful mixture of narcissus, tulip and hyacinth in a disused bowl or get children to place single stems of cut tulipa ‘Flaming Parrot’ in blown-out, painted chicken eggs to make fun centre pieces for the Easter dining table.

For a grown-up interior, place blue hyacinth and cut yellow narcissus in crisp white containers to add subtle freshness to rooms and a modern addition to kitchen tables and side boards.
Place pots and vases around the house, on mantelpieces, bookshelves and un-occupied desk chairs but remember to use hardy containers for outdoor decoration.  For Easter egg hunts, hide small chocolate eggs in the pots and behind the bulbs.  Add extra glitz by sprinkling glitter over the soil.

Re potting bulbs into different containers is easy and won’t harm the bulbs if done correctly.  Carefully twist the pot and remove the bulb, keeping the earth on the roots so as not to damage them.  Place in the chosen container and fill up any gaps with earth or compost.

Thursday, 29 March 2012


The Theme Park celebrates its 25th Anniversary in 2012 with a new wild adventure for the whole family to discover 



Go wild in 2012 with the NEW ‘DreamWorks Madagascar Live! Prepare to Party’ stage show at Chessington World of Adventures Resort, launched as part of the park’s 25th Anniversary celebrations.
The Madagascar characters - Alex, King Julien, Gloria, Mort and The Penguins host a party with fun songs and dancing in a brand new live show - the only one of its kind in Europe. 
Get ready to ‘meet and greet’ the gang in the biggest party of the year and in a brand new, purpose built, outdoor stage, located within the heart of the park; in the jungle surroundings of the new land ‘Africa’.  
Even when the dancing is done and the party games end, the fun is far from over! Strike a pose alongside your favourite Madagascar characters and show them your best Hollywood smile before discovering an array of African delights in the new shop.  If you need to get those energy levels back after all of that moving and grooving, be sure to try some of the delicious snacks available in the new African cafĂ©.

Friday, 23 March 2012

A Mammoth Adventure

A Mammoth Adventure

Ice Age Live!
A Mammoth Adventure is the groundbreaking new arena show, based on the hugely successful Ice Age film franchise. This larger than life show will celebrate its world premiere at Wembley Arena on 2 November. Tickets are on sale from March 9th.
Not to be missed!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Writing a Will

 It will smooth the process for your family at a time of great emotional upset. Furthermore, a Will is the cornerstone of asset protection.

There are a number of ways, using trusts, to mitigate Inheritance Tax and to protect property, especially the family home, from 'attack' by divorcing children, remarriage and Long Term Residential Care Fees assessment.

Casey & Associates has assisted clients in protecting assets worth hundreds of millions of pounds. You might wish to consider other legal documents, such as a Lasting Power of Attorney, which gives your family the legal right to run your affairs if ever you lose capacity through accident or illness.  All of these legal documents give you and your assets protection.

Casey & Associates, based at the Fircroft Business Centre in Edenbridge, Kent, has consultants throughout the South East. Each consultant is trained to give you the best advice for your circumstances.

Please contact us on 08700 203 553 if you would like to book an initial 'free of charge' consultation which is carried out in the comfort of your own home. Don’t delay - act today!

Friday, 16 March 2012

Optimus Prime - biggest anaconda in the UK?

Keepers from Paradise Wildlife Park and Amey Zoo are throwing down the
challenge, “Is this the biggest anaconda on exhibit in the UK?”. They
believe that they have the largest anaconda on exhibit anywhere in the U.K.

Optimus Prime - biggest anaconda in the UK?
The snake in question, a green anaconda called “Optimus Prime” was measured
on the 31st January at a massive 373cm  long and a hefty 62 kilos in weight.
She needed 12 able-bodied keepers to control her incredible strength. This
equates to one keeper every one foot of snake! The most frightening thing
is, she's still nowhere near fully grown!

Mark Amey, owner and reptile expert at Amey Zoo said, “Anacondas can quite
easily live until they are 40 years of age in captivity. Optimus is only 11
years old, so she has a lot of growing left to do. In the wild they have
been known to grow up to 6 metres long and weigh up to 150 kilos.”
Green anacondas originate from the marshes and swamps of South America.
Optimus, and her smaller mate Megatron are fed on a healthy diet of small
mammals such as rats and mice, but in their natural habitat they would
normally eat capybara and caymans.

Lynn Whitnall, director at Paradise Wildlife Park said, “We believe we have
the largest Anaconda on exhibit at any zoo in the country, but we can't know
for certain. We're inviting any other zoos in the community to come forward
and rise to the challenge!”.

Optimus Prime is currently on exhibit at Paradise Wildlife Park in
Hertfordshire. If you know of any other anacondas that might be bigger than
her, then please get in touch with them at or call 01992

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Spellbound Forest

For one weekend in May, a partnership between Wild Rumpus and the Forestry Commission is bringing a fairy-tale world to life. Families can explore three paths of the naturally beautiful woodland, each telling the story of a traditional English fairy-tale. Families can follow Tattercoats on her journey from rags to riches, see how they fare against the quest of The Three Heads in the Well and become enchanted by the plight of The Earl Mar’s Daughter.
All the stories are now available online to read or listen to, so that families have an opportunity to discover what’s in store before they arrive to journey to the King’s Ball at the centre of the forest. Incorporating theatrical performance, music, visual art and dance, this new event from Wild Rumpus aims to create an enchanting adventure that won’t soon be forgotten.
Along the way, the audience will help to create their very own new Fairy Tale, with help from the Manchester Children’s Literature Festival, and will create a marvellous nest sculpture that will live on in the forest long after the magic has faded. Partnerships with Northern Rail and Creative Tourist mean when families travel to the event by train, their adventure will begin with activities weaving some magic on the trains from Manchester and Chester.

The benefits of using a nanny agency

The benefits of using a nanny agency

by Lucy Howell and Clare Plumb, Polkadot Recruitment
and Sarah-Jane Butler, Parental Choice

"A nanny's job is priceless, such precious minds to reach
A job done out of compassion and love for the ones they teach."
(Sarah from BC )

What do Katie Price, Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow all have in common? They all hire nannies. But having a nanny isn't just for the rich and famous. A nanny can provide the perfect childcare for anyone who doesn't work a standard nine to five day and wants their child to be cared for in a secure home environment, with focused one to one attention and care. In many cases, hiring a nanny can prove to be a more cost effective and flexible way of managing your childcare, especially if combined with other forms of day care as the children get older. However, finding a perfect nanny can be a daunting and time consuming process. 

Juggling family life and work means that you may not have the time to fully commit to the interview process needed to find the right nanny for your family. In addition checking each potential nanny's references and obtaining criminal record bureau (CRB) checks on each one can be a very laborious task. A nanny agency can help you focus and save time throughout the hiring process. Nanny agencies interview many candidates and have a large pool of people to choose from, they know what to look for and strive to make the perfect match between the family and the nanny. 

A first rate nanny agency will undertake a stringent registering process including a face to face interview, where all documents are checked and gaps in employment explored. A nanny agency will check for correct qualifications and relevant experience, as well as making sure the nannies are first aid trained and CRB checked. References are also taken up to gain a thorough understanding of the person's character and work ethic. Moreover, a good nanny agency will discard those potential nannies which are not exactly suited to your requirements.

As well as saving time and effort a nanny agency will be able to offer advice on what to do after a suitable nanny has been found. A standard nanny agency will be able to give you a list of companies that can provide payroll services and even a standard template employment contract. 

However the ideal nanny agency is one that takes away all of the administrative hassles for you from start to finish. That means one that not only carries out all the necessary reference checks and takes the time to match the right nanny to your family, but one that also can, or has a direct relationship with a company that can, not only provide the payroll services but also a bespoke employment contract tailored to your needs, whilst also being there on hand to offer advice on any of your employment obligations, including insurance throughout your nanny's employment with you. Once you have found your perfect nanny, there is a list of legal and financial obligations which you will need to take on board in you capacity as her employer. A nanny agency that is able to be there throughout your nanny's employment and guide you both at the beginning and the end of the contract is of enormous benefit and relief.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Downs Link Challenge 26th May 2012

Downs Link Challenge 26th 

May 2012

Dust down your bike, polish up your walking boots and put the date in the diary - time to start getting ready for the 2012 Downs Link Challenge! We can't quite believe it either but the next event is only a few months away. Make sure you "Like" this page and invite all your friends - we want to welcome even more teams to the event this year to make it our best ever Downs Link Challenge.
Take a look and spread the word, we need all the support we can get. To date this event has raised over £36.500 in aid of the Chestnut Tree Hospice and we plan to keep going


Should parents have more freedom to smack naughty children?

Should parents have more freedom to smack naughty children?
Is smacking sometimes the only effective option?
Do you use smacking as a key part of your parenting? 

In the aftermath of the summer riots, MP David Lammy suggested that giving parents more freedom to smack their children would prevent a repeat of the widespread violence. 
Research has found that smacked children grow up to be happier and more successful later in life.
A recent poll showed that the majority of people agree that it is OK to smack your child.
If you’re a parent that believes a smack can be good for a child’s development we’d like to hear your thoughts as part of research for a Channel 4 documentary.

Please email - or call 0207 0134456 to find out more.

Top 10 prizes confirmed for the highest HEROES RUN fundraisers...

The full list of prizes is in!

Greetings Superhero!

We can now confirm the full list of prizes available to the top 10 Pass It On Africa fundraisers at both HEROES RUN London and Brighton.

By setting up an online fundraising page you are doing a great thing by raising money to help build schools and support education in Africa. As an added bonus you could also win Camp Bestival tickets, signed Basement Jaxx goodies or a 6 month British Military Fitness membership plus loads more for your efforts!

So far we have 26 fundraisers in London and 23 in Brighton so should you wish to support Pass It On Africa you would stand a good chance of being in the top 10 list.    
fundraising prizes 2012 
Something for everyone!

Raise £100 or more for Pass It On Africa and your name will be put forward to receive one of 20 post-race massages. 

There will also be prizes awarded for best costumes and race winners.

If you'd like the chance to win one of our fantastic prizes, sign up for the HEROES RUN in either London or Brightonto guarantee a place if you haven't signed up already.

Next - set up an online fundraising page. We like Virgin Money Giving, JustGiving is also popular. Decide how much you think you can raise, set your goal and tell the world. You can request a physical fundraising pack from James on 01273 819 000.

If training to run a 5k or 10k is a new challenge for you, share that with people. We find that people love to hear about other people's goals and commitments, whether that's training to run 5k or 52 marathons in 52 weeks. Share, share, share - via Facebook, Twitter, blogs, email, text and the good old-fashioned method, the sponsorship form. If your work place matches fundraising, let them know what you're up to! Good luck!

Also make use of our Fantastic fundraising tools 
Keep an eye on our prizes page as we'll keep adding great prizes for you, our fabulous fundraisers between now and race day! Finally, don't forget to train and sort out a heroic costume (see here for ideas) - we look forward to seeing you on Clapham Common on the 1st April or Brighton seafront on the 1st May! 

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Dancing for creative minds

by Sarah Dekker, Kidsdance

More people than ever before are watching and learning dance. Shows like Strictly Come Dancing, The X Factor and Gotta Dance have helped TV audiences see a range of different styles and possibilities and GCSE Dance has experienced a huge increase in popularity in recent years.

Yet stereotypes still persist - many parents happily send their little girls to ballet classes, but their sons to football, without even considering dance. It could be the pink uniforms that put them off, but there are lots of different kinds of dance out there and ballet or street dance are not the only options! Many children love the competitive aspect of sports, but not all are good at it and it may only take one negative experience for a child to decide they are useless at sport and spend the rest of their school days trying to opt out. For these children especially, dance is a useful alternative.

We all know that dance is a great way of keeping fit and that’s something the nation really needs to work at, but dance is also an excellent way to develop the mind. Spatial awareness, memory and teamwork are all essential parts of a dance class and the good news is that any weaknesses in these areas can be improved through dance! Starting early may seem ludicrous, but even children as young as eighteen months can benefit. Toddlers often love to copy movement and will readily respond physically to music. Aside from the dance moves, at a dance class they learn to listen and respond to instructions, to share with other children and take turns, to observe closely and copy - all skills they will need as they start school and go through life.

Sir Ken Robinson, writer and lecturer in arts in education believes that schools can stifle children’s natural creativity. "All children start their school careers with sparkling imaginations, fertile minds, and a willingness to take risks," he says. But he believes most of them never get to use their full range of abilities and interests, as the school system is so strongly focused on learning to pass exams.

Dance classes that allow for creativity are surprisingly hard to find. Many children love to make up their own dances and classes that let them explore their own style of moving help to develop their confidence and creative thinking abilities. Perhaps because of the school system, as parents we are often product led, pushing our children to achieve results in everything they do, whether it’s maths, swimming, karate or music. So taking time out for a child to explore a creative process without a particular end goal may seem counter productive.

Ballet is a beautiful art form and a highly effective way of toning the body. However, techniques like ballet or gymnastics are often self-selecting - the children who stick at them tend to be those whose bodies are naturally suited to the style and who are good at following instructions, consequently they do best in exams or assessments. Those who don’t ‘fit the mould’ tend to give up by the age of seven or eight and may even decide they are no good at dance, yet they have probably only experienced one style.

Styles like contemporary dance are anti-competitive, allowing kids to be kids, rather than mini adults before they are ready. The style is inclusive too - contemporary uses dance technique in a healthy way, not pushing bodies into unnatural positions and allows anyone to take part and gradually develop their ability. Contemporary is a relatively new dance style (only a hundred years old!) and is constantly evolving. Because of this, there are as yet no contemporary dance examinations and many teachers use a mix of contemporary styles, rather than one specific technique.

Contemporary dance evolved from ballet, when dancers like Isadora Duncan kicked their shoes off and started to bend the rules! The style was developed by many dancers over the last century, famously Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham who devised their own techniques, still used today and modern choreographers continue to push the boundaries, demanding ever more from the professional dancer’s body.

As contemporary technique has evolved, a creative methodology of teaching dance to children has also developed, in which there is no absolute ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, but instead infinite possibilities to explore the body’s natural movement through a creative approach to a theme or stimulus.

Most children who attend dance, music or drama classes probably won’t grow up to be professional performing artists, any more than the majority of the school football team will end up as celebrity footballers. Often children are more open-minded than their parents, who need to readjust their expectations in order for their children to try something less ‘traditional’. Surely the experience of being part of a team and learning to think creatively, without the pressure of yet more exams, whilst having fun, keeping fit and learning to workout healthily are outcomes most parents would wish for their children? The world is changing rapidly and our children need to be ready to cope with it! As Sir Ken Robinson says, "in times of economic crisis, we need to think more creatively than ever."
Kidsdance’s creative contemporary
dance classes now take place
in Brighton and Hove

For further details please call
Lucy Nelson, RAD RTS
07817 398 215 or

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Meadowlands Festival- Family fun with a bit of Welly

Meadowlands Festival returns this summer from the 1st – 3rd June 2012 for the third year to East Sussex, for a weekend of cultural carnivalesque celebrations, jam-packed with great music, comedy, and family fun.

Set in the idyllic grounds of an Elizabethan manor house, in the beautiful village of Glynde, within three miles from Lewes and just 10 minutes outside of Brighton by train, Meadowlands Festival looks set to be the go-to family festival of the summer. 

Luxury Treatment
From glam camping in Hotel Bell Tents, with tea light chandeliers, Egyptian cotton bedding to luxury loos and showers, who said camping in a meadow can’t be fabulous!

The Line-up
This year’s event will see over 80 bands, four stages, six club nights, spoken word & comedy, a charity casino, woodland area and campfire, plus entertainment and workshops for the kids.

It’s Affordable
£85.00 for an adult’s weekend ticket, which includes camping
£45.00 for teens
£20.00 for children
Free for under 5’s

Enchanted Woodland
Be transported into a world of wooded enchantment, entertainment and campfire cheer. The only way to access the wood is through the genuine Hogwarts tunnel from the Harry Potter movies.

The Secret Swim
A time honoured tradition where festival goers are sworn to secrecy before being guided to a secret Victorian lido for a revitalizing dip.

Purepotions’ Baby Changing Stations
Purepotions, who produce ground-breaking 100% natural skin products, will be keeping babies and little ones feeling fresh and nappy rash free at this year’s festival, courtesy of their delightful baby changing stations.

Ecologically Sound
From solar trees to locally sourced food and sustainable waste management, Meadowlands have a strict eco policy, making the festival cleaner and safer for you and your family.

Holistic Area
De-stress in the Holistic area which features an array of treatments, workshops and stalls to help you wind down after a days’ partying or kick start your new day with an invigorating yoga workshop.
To find out more about this year’s Meadowlands Festival and to book your place, go to;

Luxury Treatment
From glam camping in Hotel Bell Tents, with tea light chandeliers, Egyptian cotton bedding to luxury loos and showers, who said camping in a meadow can’t be fabulous!

Astrid Fisher who attended the 2011 Meadowlands Festival quoted: - “My friend’s friend was singing in a huge orchestra band and it was my first festival in years after having my kids.  I used to love festivals, yours was absolutely perfect for me as I came with my 5 year old son, camped with my friends and it wasn't too far to walk anywhere. The atmosphere and music were great, I especially loved the Transformers, hadn't danced like that for years!!! Also the flowers in the meadow itself were truly magical, I have very fond memories”

To find out more about this year’s Meadowlands Festival and to book your place, go to; www.meadowlandsfetsival.com