29th Aug 2009
Maudie: On Saturday some friends came round for lunch and a game-playing session, and one of the games they taught us was The Hat Game, which was so simple and so much fun. You play it like this: everyone writes five famous people’s names on separate pieces of paper. They could be real people, cartoon or fictional characters, people from a long time ago… Then, fold the pieces of paper so you can’t see the names, and drop them into a hat. Once everyone has done that, you’re ready to go.
You play in two teams, with only one team playing at a time. Pick one person from your team to go first (there are three rounds, so three people in each team get a go, and each round is timed – we used a sand timer). In the first round, the player picks a name from the hat, and has to describe the person – you can say anything about them apart from their name – until the rest of the team guess who it is. For example: ‘Shrek’ – ‘a green ogre, who lives in the swamp and has a wife called Fiona’. Once they’ve guessed, the player takes another name from the hat, and so on… When the time’s up, you count how many names the team recognised, then put all the papers back in the hat, and the other team has a go.
The second round is exactly the same except this time you have to mime the person – eg if you get Leonardo DiCaprio, you could mime him on the Titanic. By now, you’ll all have quite a good idea of many of the names in the hat, so it gets easier to guess. In the third round, you have to describe the person in one word, so for instance if you picked out ‘Queen Elizabeth’, you could use a word like ‘royal’ to describe her.
It all sounds simple and it IS, but there are a few rules: When you’re describing in the third round, you can ONLY say one word, so if you got ‘Simon Cowell’, you couldn’t say ‘X Factor’ because that’s two words. If you get the same person more than once (we had quite a few Michael Jacksons) then you just describe or mime them again. So it’s easy! You are timed, we did two minutes each, but you can do more or less, and you carry on doing people until the time runs out. It’s a really fun game and I advise you to try it!
21st Feb 2009
Maudie: This was a Christmas present to me from my dad. He knows I am interested in English and Drama, and we have been to see many Shakespeare plays. This game is good fun: you get to put on plays and buy your actors, and move around the board as if you were in the streets of London. There’s even St Paul’s Cathedral and the Globe Theatre on it. Before you play, you get given a Shakespeare script like 'Romeo and Juliet' or 'Othello' and 40 shillings. On the script card, there’s a list of actors, props (blue circles with swords on it) and patron tiles you need to collect to put on the play.
There are fate cards which are sometimes good, sometimes bad. (You get one when you roll an ‘F’ on the dice.) It could say something like this: Thiefs and scoundrels! Lose a prop’ or ‘King James I is impressed with your work - you present a command performance, gain 20 shillings’. At the start you get given 40 shillings. You can lose it, spend it and earn more money by busking or acting out a speech from a play (they are written down on cards for you). The people who are playing with you can vote on your acting abilities – if they give you seven out of ten, then you get seven shillings. Another way to get money is to answer a question about one of Shakespeare’s plays. The questions vary from easy to hard. Here’s an example of an easy one: ‘In which of the following plays are two female characters killed by their husbands?’ They give you three options, and you choose one. (The answer is Othello.)
The things I really enjoyed about this game was saying the speeches for money. My favourite was reciting one of Puck’s speeches from Midsummer Night’s Dream. I got nine shillings for that one! I would definitely recommend the Bard Game - even if it does take 60 minutes to complete…
1st Sep 2008
Maudie: I’ve just read ‘Oscar and The Lady in Pink’ by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt. Oscar is a ten-year-old boy who is living in a hospital because he has leukaemia and the doctors can’t cure him. He makes friends with an old lady in pink he calls Granny Rose, who comes to the hospital to play with the sick children. She used to be a lady wrestler, and he likes listening to her stories about all the strange opponents she used to fight. Granny Rose encourages him to get to know the other children like Peggy Blue in the hospital
and also suggests he write a letter to God every night, because it would make him feel better and less lonely. Every day was like a decade for him, so each night he could write about what he’d done during each day/decade. He runs away to Granny Rose’s house for Christmas and she helps him make it up with his parents who'd been terribly awkward with him because he was going to die.
I really liked the book because Oscar was so funny and brave and made the most of his life before it ended. But it was also very sad – my mum cried by page 10. I would recommend this book to children over eight.
16th Jun 2008
Maudie: I was away this week on a PGL trip (it stands for some person’s name who founded it, but we all like to call it Parents Get Lost!) and coming home on the coach, my friend Alice told me some ‘dumb blonde jokes’. Here are a few of the best:
1 There was a plane and it was about to crash. There were four people on the plane: a priest, a schoolboy, a brunette and a blonde. There are only three parachutes. So the priest grabs a parachute and says ‘I’m too important to die, people need me’ and he jumps out. The blonde grabs one and says ‘I’m too pretty to die’ and she jumps out. So it’s just the brunette and the schoolboy. The brunette is older than the boy, so she says that he should take the parachute, because he’s got more of his life to complete than her. But the schoolboy says, ‘No need. The blonde took my school bag instead of a parachute.’
2 A plane, again, was about to crash. And hanging on to the plane wings are seven blondes and one brunette. There are exactly seven parachutes. The brunette then gives a long speech, about how she’ll risk her life and not take a parachute to save all their lives, blah blah. At the end of her speech, all the blondes clap.
3 Q: Batman, Spiderman, a clever blonde and a brunette all fall from a plane. Which one lands first?
A: The brunette, because there’s no such thing as Spiderman, Batman or a clever blonde!
9th Jan 2008
Maudie: At school, we have been making motorised Fairground Rides, working in pairs. Mine is called Lightning Strike!, and Carla’s is called Pink Crush. To start off, we measured bits of wood and sawed them to make a box. We cut out card triangles and placed them on each corner, and stuck coloured coraflute on the four sides. We made seats out of coraflute and hung them with string for little people to sit in. There were two kinds of different switches: one you push down once to keep the motor running and one which you hold down. The push down one was more popular and most people had it, but we had the holding down one!
The Ride could go at different speeds, made by choosing a different-sized pulley wheel - the small one was the fastest and the big one the slowest. We had the smallest one, and Carla had the medium one.
We decided on the name Lightning Strike! because we wanted a fast ride, so a fast catchy name would go with it. We thought of a couple like Zoom or Lightning Bolt, but they didn’t fit quite as well as Lightning Strike! When I brought it home, my little sister liked putting Playmobil people in the seats and making them spin round very fast. We all really enjoyed making them and once we’d finished, we wanted to make another!
15th Dec 2007
Maudie: Every so often, my friend Alice and I have a sale to raise money for a charity called Guide Dogs for the Blind. Two have been Christmas ones, and one in the summer. Each time we make new things. This year we made a selection of things – brownies, flapjacks, fudge and mince pies, Christmas and birthday cards, Christmas crackers, candles and Christmas labels. The crackers went down really well, as did the candles and all the food. The labels were rather popular too. We made them out of old Xmas cards we didn’t need any more, then punched holes in them and strung some pretty string through them. The cards we did the same – apart from sticking them on some card with some pretty background paper. It’s a great way to recycle cards you don’t want.
The crackers were easy to make too. Alice had a big bag of toilet rolls we used as the base of the cracker, then she rummaged in a box of old stuff and picked out the things she didn’t want any more to put inside the crackers as prizes. Next we looked up Christmas jokes on the internet and printed them off to go inside. The last thing to do was to find a sweet to put in and then WRAP THEM.
The first guide dog we sponsored was called Rufus, a black Labrador who’s now grown into an adult and has gone to live with a blind owner. So now we are sponsoring Crumble, who is sweet little Labrador puppy.
We had great fun doing our sale, and getting monthly pupdates about the dog we are sponsoring. We raised £52.55.
22nd Oct 2007
Maudie: three friends and I went to Thetford Forest in Norfolk to do a Go Ape! course for my 11th birthday party. When we arrived a man gave us harnesses to put on, then gave us a demo on how to attach ourselves to the wire. Then he took us to the first course. There was a series of wires and zip wires on this one. It looked quite easy, but you had to attach a red metal clip to yourself and it was really hard to get off. Then you had to attach two ropes with a metal clip onto the clasp on top of the wire. Then you flew down a zip wire. You had to run in the air when you came in to land, but I landed backwards instead and got bark down my trousers!
My favourite thing was the zip wires because they were really high from the ground, and at one point, 60 feet! All the courses were fun. Here’s some of the things we did: Giant Tarzan swing, wobbly logs, trapeze walking, more zip wires and so on! It took three hours to do the course, but it was great fun.
8th Oct 2007
Maudie: We’ve been studying Tudors as part of our history work at school, mostly about Henry Vlll and his six wives. Our teacher then told us that we would be sewing a Tudor lady (or man). I thought eek! I can’t sew very well at all. But when it came down to doing it, I started off quite well. I had chosen an Anne Boleyn sort of lady, so I sewed a collar as the top of her dress and then a green velvet coif. (The bit underneath was for decoration.) I then sewed her hair using simple running stitch, but it looks quite effective, don’t you think?
Her earrings are just gold beads, for which I used special thin thread and a thinner needle. The next thing I sewed on was the green bits for her eyes – I chose the green to match her coif. I also did her nose and lips with different pinks so it would look like she had lipstick on. I sewed her chain and hood with running stitch and attached pink beads for her necklace.
Carla did a Tudor lady too, using different colours and stiches, and we both really enjoyed it.
9th Aug 2007
We recently went to Wales to visit my grandparents, and our cousins aged five, two and one were also there. We brought them a big bag full of toys/games/books that we had grown out of and one of the things Gaia (five) got was a Daisy Meadows' fairy sticker book. She wanted me to help her match the stickers, and I read the sub categories to her which basically explained what the fairies' names are, if it was a pet fairy, what their pet's names are, and so on. She and her sister Ronni (two) liked playing fairies so much my Aunty Jo suggested I should write a story about them.
Immediately, there were cries of: 'Oooh yes please!' and 'Can you write one now?!' so I agreed. I asked them which fairy they liked best, and which they'd like me to write about. Gaia's was 'Katie the kitten fairy' and Ronni's was 'India the moonstone fairy'. It took me three days to write 'Katie the kitten fairy'. I haven't yet started to write about India (though Edie's done the cover), but I'm sure I will soon.
The story came into my head one day when it was raining in Wales. At the start, it would be rainy and wet. And I knew somehow in my head, it would become sunny at the end. I got some characters from the actual books, like Jack Frost, and I created a new name for him, 'The Ice Man!' In the story, there are two girls, Lola and Sarah, and Katie the fairy arrives when one of them says the magic words - 'I wish something fun would happen'. I put that bit in because I think magic makes a good story flow for little ones such as Gaia. Katie's cat Shimmer gets abducted by the Ice Man and Katie and her friend Lola have to save him from the Ice Man's palace in a hollow tree.
Edie illustrated the book very nicely. It was a magical process working my way through the story, and I hope Gaia enjoys reading it.
3rd Aug 2007
Our holiday in Derbyshire was a great success, but one of the most fun things to do was… Well can you guess? Chasing chickens! The place we stayed in had the most ridiculous chickens. They were let out each day and we spent hours trying to chase them back into their pen at night. They were really daft, as soon as you got one in the pen, another ran out! Dad had to chase them round to Edie, who was wearing my jumper, hood up and all, who made loud noises to scare them into the fruit cage, where I was ready and waiting to chase them outside near to mum who would shoo them in through the open door of the pen. Sounds a pretty civilized plan, right? Wrong!
It was hard enough to chase them round a blackberry bush almost three times as big as me. But there was one really daft white chicken who just didn’t want to go in. It took me three minutes to chase him round to mum, but she didn’t have time to get him into the pen because he ran like lightning back to the place he’d started. So, we’d have to start the whole process again. He did this many more times, and we kept chasing him until Dad’s arms stung from stinging nettles, Edie’s throat hurt from shouting, my legs and arms were scratched from chasing him around the bush and Mum’s hands were red sore from clapping. In the end – guess what? We gave up and he stayed out all night. I’d advise you NEVER to get chickens – stick with a rabbit or a dog.
13th Jul 2007
I was recently given a book and little roll pad showing you how to draw ‘Doodle Dogs’, irresistible cartoon dogs with funny names and even funnier faces. They are great to do in evening, just relaxing on the sofa, doodling! My favorite is ‘Hamlet the great dane’ who’s thinking of hamburgers. There are lots of sweet ideas such as: a delivery dog, a hot dog (he has a fan blowing his spaniel ears out to one side), Fleabert (he’s pretty itchy) and a Scottie dog. Also there is an l-o-n-g page of common dog expressions. My mum has made quite a big gallery of the ones I’ve made her on her wall. You can make creative and funky comic strips and great presents, if you frame them. Give it a go!
8th Jul 2007
I love, love, love Sunday roast dinners, all hot and steaming. Especially roast chicken. And it’s also great fun to pull the wishbone!
We leave it to dry for a bit, then I and my sister tug and tug with our little fingers until finally it breaks.
One person gets a magical wish (the little bit), the other gets the wishbone (the big bit). I always wish for different, interesting things, sometimes for myself, sometimes for other people. Nothing’s come true yet but here's hoping.
10th Apr 2007
Curtis Stigers is a well-known jazz singer and friend of my mum's friends Carol and Alan, and yesterday we went to see him play in Perth Concert Hall.
The other members of the band were Matthew Fries, Keith Hall, and Phil Palombi, and we met them all backstage before the concert. They offered us juice, milk or water and some fruit. We had a brief chat before taking our seats in the theatre. Curtis not only sang, but also played the saxophone! The other members of the band played piano, bass and drums. Keith played the drums, and did an amazingly fast drum solo, Matthew played the piano, and he did some very complicated, fast notes. And Phil played the bass, and his fingers moved like lightning across the strings.
Curtis has a seven-year-old daughter called Ruby, whom he adores. Also Keith has three daughters, one of whom is two months old. They are on tour for weeks and are missing their kids so much that they wanted a big hug from Edie and me. We really enjoyed the night, and got a signed copy of his new album. Also, we didn't get to bed until 12.15 in the morning.