Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Thoughts about Life in the Little House on the Prairie

 One of my favourite books during my own childhood was the Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

 I've recently revisited it and am struck by the resilience of the children. During one episode, the two older girls are left by themselves, aged 8 and 9, as their parents and baby sister travel to town a few miles away. They are completely isolated, no phones, no neighbours, no electricity. They must fetch wood and water for their needs and their only companion is their large dog.

My own girls are older than Laura and Mary and have been through some extremely tough times in their short lives so far. I'm proud of them, the way they have coped and matured into two well balanced individuals. I'm proud of their thoughtful inquisitive minds, their sensitivity to others and the planet and I harbour the hope and belief that they will be able to safely negotiate the teenage years to become two very lovely women.

It makes me wonder if we underestimate children. Perhaps they are all as capable as Laura and Mary Ingalls were but we have been brainwashed into forgetting how determined and inventive most humans really are and at a very young age.

What do you think? How were you as a child?

Monday, 12 October 2015

A visit to Harry Potter Studios

Are there any children in the UK above five years old who have not heard of Harry Potter and dreamed of enrolling at Hogwarts?  I doubt it!  J.K.Rowling captured the hearts and imaginations of thousands with her book series and the films are probably destined as classics. So a trip to Harry Potter studios comes quite high on the wish list in our little family. Not that long ago for someone's birthday treat we made the journey to the edge of London to make the tour.

The entrance, with it's large canvas photographs of the main characters lining the walls, is large and impressive. There are masses of people milling around but the tours are fairly well regulated as you have a time slot so the numbers are not too excessive and the wait is bearable. The suspense grows in the crowd especially among the smaller visitors, some of whom are dressed in their best cloaks.

First we were shown into a small cinema and saw a short film of some of the background of the film and short interviews of the stars. Afterwards the birthday girl got to push open the great gates into the big hall of Hogwarts. After that you are free to wander around as you see fit and read or look at which ever exhibit interests you the most.

My children whizzed around fairly speedily and whilst somethings intrigued them, not all did so. We didn't ride on the broomsticks and pay £16 for a photograph because they didn't want to queue and (whisper here - you don't really fly!)

At the end of the tour you have no choice but to exit through the gift shop and if there is another more exorbitantly overpriced place I hope I never get to see it! The cheapest thing in the whole place was a small chocolate frog, and from memory it was priced at about £8. Plastic wands (made in china) retailed at £25, mugs from £12...well you get the picture. I was not a happy bunny as we had taken a friend of the birthday girl who had been given £50 to spend by her overindulgent mother and there was no way I could match it for my two even if I had wanted too. (That buys us a huge amount of groceries from Aldi!).

Was it worth it? Well, it ticked a box and was interesting but we wouldn't go again. Was it value for money? Not unless you are on a fairly high income. My advice to the families not so blessed is take your own food and have a picnic near the bus and place blindfolds around your children as you exit the place. Good luck!