Ever since we made our Build a Bear Smurfs, The Offspring have been slavering at the prospect of The Smurf Movie.
I have not. The smell of this one had started wafting our way, and it wasn't good. I tried to dump it on to JH, but he pointed that he had already visited his own seventh circle of cinema hell in the shape of Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel.
So yesterday we did the deed and went to see The Smurf Movie. And yes, the children did enjoy the film. Personally, I felt it was a horrible waste of everyone involved's time.
Parents, if like me you get sucked into the vortex of hype that is The Smurfs, here are a few tips to help you endure the experience:
A walking holiday in Wales is a marvellous thing – the mountains, the lush, green landscape and the sheep are the perfect antidote to home life enslaved by the goggle box.
Unless, of course, you combine the two, as we did last week, and base your Welsh holiday around TV shows you like.
It's just like Disneyland squeaked The Offspring. That's right kids – a Disneyland you can never leave. Though the hotel is pretty dandy, so you might not want to.
I used to wonder if Lego were trying to do slightly too much with the Ninjago range – it's a construction toy, a trading cards game, a toy spinner, a collectible – and now with the release of Ninjago Brickmaster, it's a book as well.
But what do I know – the range has become enormously popular. Last term it was the toy of choice to smuggle in to school for every small boy I know.
The Brickmaster range from DK is a sort of hybrid – half story book, half Lego building project. The left hand side of the book is a cardboard sleeve containing around 130 Lego bricks, designed to make at least five different models. The right hand side is a combination of the sort of Lego instructions you'll know, but with extra text giving facts about the models and a story involving the escapades of Frakjaw, Skeleton of Fire.
I've been using my Amazon Kindle for about 10 days now. Here's what I've discovered:
- Set up and book buying couldn't be easier
You will be good to go in under a minute. Don't be scared of this device if you're a technophobe because it really is extremely easy to use. You do need an Amazon account to operate, but if you're buying a Kindle then you're probably no stranger to The Big A anyway.
- You could spend a frickin fortune if you're not careful
I had assumed that ebooks would be a lot cheaper than the print versions, since the production and delivery costs are so much less, but that's not the case. Many best sellers are a fairly similar price whatever version you choose. Somebody's making a lot of money out of Kindle books, and I suspect it's not the writers.
- But you'll still be seduced
It's the instant delivery to Kindle that's so seductive – you can think of a book, buy it with one click and be reading it in under a minute. So if you're in a field and you fancy reading some Rilke – away you go. You can see why it's caught on.
What's a Smurf? asked Son of Mine. Is is it an animal?
Son, much to learn you have.
Let me take you down to the Build a Bear Workshop and we'll find out for ourselves. Though this cuddly toy emporium is best known for its teddy bears, it's also home to dogs, owls, dinosaurs and for a limited time only – The Smurfs.
I used to work in The Disney Store when I was a student, and when the manager was feeling particularly vicious he would declare it an 'Ears Day' and we would all have to don the Mickey headgear. But that is small potatoes compared to what the staff at Build a Bear have to do:
So that writing two books business, how's that going Joanne?
Actually, not so great. Have you ever tried to eat two elephants? That's what it's like. Or giving birth to two babies (I don't mean like twins. At least twins have the decency to queue, not both rush the exit at once).
And I didn't help myself at all by being so overwhelmed by the task in hand that that I achieved very little for weeks on end. Writing a book seems so much more permanent, and by implication important, than the online writing I've done.
But that's not even true – many more people have access to work that's published online than will ever pick up a book and read it. But still, it felt like A Bigger Deal than anything I'd done before, so I panicked a bit and hid my head in the sand. For most of May.
THIS COMPETITION HAS NOW CLOSED – DON'T LEAVE A COMMENT, IT WON'T BE COUNTED.
Yesterday I promised to tell you how you can get hold of your very own beautiful leather satchel, so here goes.
It's a super-simple competition, and one lucky winner is going to be very happy, not to say stylish, as this is the fashionista's bag of choice right now.
One winner will get a satchel of their choice from The Leather Satchel Company. You can choose any size or colour, from the more traditional browns and greens, to the zingy fashion shades of hot pink or pillarbox red. I would choose the purple, but then I can't enter *boo hoo*.