Ways to pass the time online.

These days, if you have access to a smartphone, laptop or computer, you have no excuse to be bored. Even when the weather is dire, or you are stuck on what seems like an endless train journey, or even if you are facing an airport delay, our technology means we can work, shop and play, wherever we may be. I have made a list of some of the things that I enjoy doing online, as well as some things my little boy also loves to do.

YouTube

This is a current obsession for Joe, who loves to watch YouTube football skills videos as a way of learning new skills and improving his current overall football performance. He also loves to follow West Bromwich Albion and is himself a Youtube star after appearing in the West Brom Christmas message last year (proud mom klaxon – you can watch that film here.) I love YouTube too, watching the best goals of my number one man crush Olivier Giroud, as well as enjoying beauty and shopping haul vlogs by some of my favourite bloggers.

Online Shopping

Online shopping is brilliant for those who love bargains. You can find so many online exclusives, flash sales and genuine one off buys that you just don’t find in store, and with much more choice and variety. You can sign up for newsletters that allow you to find out about sales before they start, there are even opportunities to find out when an item you covet is back in stock.

If you don’t really want to spend money, filling an online basket is almost as much fun as window shopping, but you don’t damage the shoe leather or have to brave the rain to enjoy it.

Casino And Betting fun

If you enjoy the thrill of the gamble, then playing in an online casino can be a great way to spend some time and maybe even win some cash.  Sites like Vera&John offer a host of games which are also mobile friendly, and also offer a welcome bonus when you join. How much you choose to spend is up to you, and, of course, risks are involved, but if you think you can handle the pressure, the chance to turn £ into £££ could be irresistible. You can also look at placing online bets, and the world is pretty much your oyster when it comes to this. You can bet on sports, like football and basketball, or
races, be it motorized, or even horse ones – if you’re interested in the
latter, be sure to check out today’s horse racing tips. There are sites that help you to place bets in other countries, so you could research how to place a bet in Kenya and would be able to find out how to do this safely. Similarly, you can look at lotteries in other countries and can enter these, they often have a far better payout rate than the UK.

Online games for kids

There are a lot of free, online games for children. Joe is a little obsessed with football games and we have found loads to play, from Messi spotkicks and Neymar skill games, to Scooby Doo soccer games. A quick search ‘free online football games’ will give you literally thousands of option and these can be great for playing on tablets during long car journey’s or on wet afternoons.

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Twitter

I always say that I believe that people are either Facebook or Twitter, and I am most definitely Twitter.Great for debate, always very quick with breaking news, totally irrelevant, and very witty at times, Twitter is addictive and brilliant and does it all in 140 characters or less. You can follow my Twitter feed here.

Pinterest

Be prepared to lose hours and hours looking at beautiful images, styles, trends and moodboards on Pinterest. Pinterest is the place to go when you are looking for inspiration for your home, your wardrobe, your holiday or your wedding. Or it might just be the place where you can find random cute pictures of dogs and cats on those days when you need cheering up. Pinterest is the place to brighten any dull day.

 

Sparkle and Shine Indeed! Nativity The Musical

Christmas came to Wolverhampton tonight, and whilst it may be slightly early, I couldn’t feel more festive if I tried. Because if you are looking for a show that is the epitome of feelgood, family entertainment, then you must see Nativity the Musical, which is delighting audiences at the Wolverhampton Grand. I went to see the show last night and was totally enchanted by a show that has so much heart and warmth. In the words of my fave Christmas song, it Sparkles and Shines from start to finish.

You may remember Nativity from the Martin Freeman movie that has become a bit of a Christmas classic, but for those who haven’t seen the movie, Nativity is the tale of three childhood friends who all go into acting but fail in this chosen career. The two male actors, Mr Maddens and Mr Shakespeare, become primary teachers in two very different schools, whilst Jennifer, who is also the girlfriend of Mr Maddens, pursues her dream of working in Hollywood, leaving Maddens one Christmas. Maddens and Shakespeare get into a deep rivalry when it comes to the annual Nativity performance, both seeking a five star review from local reviewer Patrick Burns, with only Shakespeare, working at the exclusive Oakmoor School, getting it. Despondent over the loss of Jennifer, and the humiliation of the  St Bernadette’s nativity, Mr Madden decides he hates Christmas. But when headteacher Mrs Bevan decides that the school is going to have another try at the nativity, and that Mr Maddens is going to be in charge, things start to catapult out of control. Add into the mix the arrival of the loveable, but slightly crazy Mr Poppy as his new classroom assistant, and you have all the ingredients for a Christmas disaster.

Nativity is a total joy, not least because of the joyous performances. The leads are just wonderful, with Scott Paige a standout as Mr Poppy, playing the role with the childlike exuberance it needs. His Mr Poppy isn’t just ‘down with the kids’, he is a real child-man, and is totally delightful, and so easy to fall in love with as a result. Scott Garnham, who I loved in Billy Elliot, plays Mr Maddens as a perfect foil for the energy of Mr Poppy he adds balance and pathos to the piece, particularly in the scene where he reads the letters the children have wrote for Santa. Ashleigh Gray as Jennifer is also very good, particularly in the scene where she sings the poignant ‘Jennifer’s request’, whilst Charles Brunton is hilariously funny as Mr Shakespeare, who is almost a perfect pantomime style baddy, I loved his over the top rendition of ‘Herod the Rock Opera’ which is frankly hilarious and terrifying in equal measure. Love Island’s Dani Dyer is a surprise addition to the casting, but works really well as Polly Parker, bringing her trademark warmth and personality to the role of the studio head with a heart.

But as good as all those central performances are, it is the children who are at the heart of Nativity, and totally steal the show. Forget all ideas of the stage school kids that can be frighteningly professional (and slightly scary if I’m honest), the children of Nativity are adorable, totally melting the hearts of even the hardest critic. The warmth and exuberance of their performances feel totally real and natural, and each and every one of them just shine. There could not have been an audience member who didn’t have a lump in their throat during the poignant, heartfelt ‘Dear Father Christmas’ whilst the songs of the ‘Nativity’ itself are alive with humour and sass. By the time the curtain falls, after the incredibly catchy ‘Sparkle and Shine’. they have the audience on their feet, totally believing they have witnessed the rebirth of St Bernadette’s.


NATIVITY-THE-MUSICAL.-The-Children-of-St-Bernadettes.-Photo-by-RIchard-Davenport-

 

Nativity is a total delight, a must see for anyone with a love of musicals, the underdog, and, of course, Christmas. Just Fabulous for all ages, you leave the theatre ready to put your Christmas tree up and hang those decorations.

 

 

Nativity the Musical

Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

31 Oct – 02 Nov 2019

 

Click here for ticket information.

Bonfire Night Fun

 

Remember, Remember the fifth of November, Gunpowder, treason and plot. Bonfire night is one of my favourite nights of the year, I love the chance to get wrapped up in your new Winter woollies, watching the sky light up with the most beautiful fireworks, keeping warm around a bonfire, whilst filling my face with hotdogs and hot chocolate. In general, I am not a fan of the great outdoors once Summer is ended, but for Bonfire Night I will make an exception.

During my childhood it was the norm to have a bonfire and fireworks in your garden, with Catherine Wheels tied to fence posts, bangers that made a lot of noise but did very little else, and everyone, including the nans and grandads and the smallest of children, holding a sparkler. If you are going to enjoy fireworks in your own garden, you need to look for a reputable supplier of safe fireworks from a company like Let’s Party Fireworks, who offer high quality fireworks like fountain fireworks, which are less noisy than regular fireworks, but with all the colour and sparkle, making them great if you have small children.

Health and safety implications, and the importing of so many unsafe fireworks has led to a rise in the popularity of organised firework events. There are so many lovely, organised displays that often tie in the fun of the fair, food stalls and fireworks that are really exceptional in their size and style, that it is now a whole family event to go to a real bonfire display.

I usually attend the bonfire at my son’s school, we’ve been for the last five years and it is always a great, professional display which also raises a lot of money for the school. If you are still looking for an organised display that is local to you, a good online search should help point the way to many displays in your area.

If you are going to a bonfire and fireworks display this year, there are a few handy tips that you can use in order to make your night go with a bang. The first is that you wrap up accordingly. The weather might be pretty mild for November, but once the sun goes down, it can be pretty chilly. Hat and gloves are a must, with leather gloves being a great idea if you are the sort of person who gets ketchup everywhere. Another way to keep warm and snug is to get there early to grab a spot near the bonfire – just head any safety signs and don’t get too close. Bonfires and firework displays are fun for all the family, but they can be very loud, which can be quite frightening for younger children (my boy is almost 9 and is still quite wary of the big bangs). For very young children ear protectors can be a sensible way to enjoy the lights and avoid the bangs.

Whatever you decide to do this November 5th, have lots of fun and, most importantly, stay safe.