Friday, 11 November 2011

A Wonderful Way To Spend A Gloomy Winter's Day: Creative Story Writing for Children

by Amanda at Trumpety Trump (

I have a suggestion that may be of interest to some of you during the long dreary winter months which look as if they are just around the corner.

Many years ago, a little girl called Gillian, thought she would like to go into the business of writing stories. At the time, she was only nine years old but her little head was full of ideas. She had always loved the stories which her Daddy used to read to her and felt sure that she could invent some of her very own.

The first collection was entitled "Underwater Stories" and ran into five chapters. They weren't very long, just long enough to be interesting. Eventually one of the local newspapers got to hear about them and decided to publish them. Gillian grew up, of course as little girls do, but by this time she had developed an interest in all forms of writing and literature, so much so that she went off to college at the age of 18 and studied to become a very successful teacher of English and Literature. She went on to teach 'A' level students and helped many of them through their exams. She was also in charge of a special unit helping children to overcome serious reading problems.

Sadly, at the age of 49, she was taken very ill and passed away. Her work has been an inspiration to those that knew her and I leave you with the first of her little stories. Some of your children may like to have a go at writing themselves and in any case it's a wonderful way to spend a gloomy winter's day!
Underwater Stories
Sharon the Shrimp
Chapter 1, "A little bit of fun"

One morning at 8 o'clock, a noise was heard in a little hole under the water. It was Mrs Shrimp dressing the children. "Oh please Polly, don't keep dropping your socks and you Sharon, stop showering that water all over your dress." "Oh, alright Mummy, can I go exploring today?" "Yes, I suppose so, but don't get your clothes all dirty." So they walked on, Polly and Sharon, through the passages underground.

Suddenly!, "A Lobster, g-golly, let's go home," said Polly. "No we shan't," said Sharon. They got a little nearer to the Lobster and suddenly the pincers sprang out and caught hold of the two Shrimps, swallowed them with one gulp and chuckled with satisfaction.

Inside the Lobsters tummy sat Polly and Sharon. Soon Sharon had an idea. "Hurray," she yelled. Polly jumped "I know" said Sharon, "We will tickle the Lobster and then he will laugh so that his mouth opens and we can slip out." "Golly, what a good idea" said Polly.

So their task began and they started tickling the Lobster. At first it was only a little giggle that he made and then it got a bit bigger until it was a loud roar and the Shrimp children were able to get out with no difficulty at all. When they got home, their Mummy was very cross because their clothes were all red. But the Shrimps were laughing to much to hear the scolding they got. You know why they were laughing don't you?

If you enjoyed reading Gillian's story, look out for the next story coming soon...

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Super Sweet Homemade Pumpkin Soup

For those of you who have leftover pumpkins after the excitement of Halloween, why not make some delicious homemade pumpkin soup? It's one of those foods, like carrot cake, that doesn't sound particularly appetising, but tastes quite divine!

Many years ago, I was lucky enough to work in a fantastic bakery/restaurant called The Bunnery in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It was during those months that I had my first taste of the most glorious soup I had ever eaten - pumpkin soup. It was so sweet and utterly delicious, I managed to devour bowlfuls of it but the recipe was never divulged to me! I have therefore been searching for something similar and have managed to find a rather simple but sweet and creamy pumpkin soup recipe. I admit, it is not as heavenly as The Bunnery's recipe, but pretty scrumptious just the same. It has also been tried, tested and happily approved by my two chidren, who thought it was 'really yummy'!

This recipe is super easy which doesn't require you to spend a huge amount of time in the kitchen. Even though the recipe estimates 45 minutes for the preparation and cooking time, if the inside of your pumpkin has already been scooped out and refrigerated, the ingredients can just be thrown together, making it exceptionally easy. I did overdo it a bit with the cream, just couldn't resist! Click on the link to try it -

Dont' forget to SAVE THE SEEDS. The seeds can be used to plant pumpkins next year!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

The Wonderful World of Books

One of the most worthwhile things which you can ever do for your children, is to introduce them to the world of books, for there are no limits to the benefits that they can or will derive. The ability to learn about new subjects and find important information depends on the ability to read.

A book, as you know, is a comparatively inexpensive item, which sits easily in the hand and is packed with information, exciting stories, instructions upon how to do this, that or the other. How to knit, how to paint, how to draw, how to look after your cat or dog, how to catch fish, how to be a gardener, how to mend your bicycle, - I could go on, in fact, everything we ought to know, can be found in books.

Then of course, there is the excitement of stories, either true or fictional, all guaranteed to stimulate the mind and make us ask questions. The word "Why?", is one of the most important ones in our vocabulary, for if we can't get anyone to supply us with the answer, we can find it where? In a book of course!

Books help children develop vital and important language skills, it is a skill compulsory for survival in schools, and in adult life as well. The more children read, the better they become at reading. The more young children are read to, the greater their interest in learning how to read.
This in turn will help develop their spoken language skills enabling them to express themselves verbally.

So, parents, uncles and aunts, inlaws, teach your children to read, if possible, before they even go to school, for once they achieve this skill, a whole new world opens up before them. This new world is full of knowledge and information which will help to shape them into the people you would wish them to become.

The next time I write on this subject, it will be to introduce a children's book which, I think, may be of interest to some of your youngsters and it is my intention to do this from time to time. I hope, also, that you will make time to read to them whenever you can and in this way, get them to appreciate the wonderful world of books.

If you need any information about children's books, pop in and see Amanda at Trumpety Trump, who I'm sure will point you in the right direction. You can find her at 1 Oxford Terrace, Hailsham Road, Heathfield, TN21 8AA.

Or why not go to your local library to find out what reading schemes and/or Storytime sessions they offer? For those living near Heathfield, the local library run Book Crawl for the under fives. This scheme rewards your child with stickers and a range of certificates to collect for borrowing books. Older children (aged between 8 and 12) can join the reading group Chatterbooks, where they explore a different theme each term talking about books. The group meet every third Wednesday during term time from 4pm to 5pm.

Alternatively, the Bookstart Bear Club is a fun and engaging, free membership club for all babies, toddlers and preschoolers. It will open up an exciting world as you and your child explore stories, books and rhymes together. Call into your local library to register and collect your child's free membership pack.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Is there something lurking in the long grass?

By Trumpety Trump

We recently decided during a drive out one Sunday afternoon, that it would be nice to take a walk through a part of Ashdown Forest, the 'home' of Winnie-the-Pooh. The Forest is at the heart of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and has national and international protection because of its wildlife, a great place to take the children.

We stopped off but as we set off through the heathland, I suddenly released how unprepared we were, not in terms of weather protection or footwear but from something far more insidious. Something that, if I had not previously researched the subject, would not even have registered - the risk of tick bites!

Now although the idea of a tick bite itself might seem quite unpleasant, it is the fact that ticks are among the most efficient carriers of disease that is more the issue. One website I had encountered put them only behind mosquitoes World Wide in this respect. It was discovered in the mid-1970s that ticks are the primary (and possibly only) transmitters, or vectors, for Lyme disease. Lyme disease is a debilitating, though rarely fatal, infection that is often misdiagnosed because early symptoms closely resemble the flu. Shuddering thought.

Ticks work by ambush, waiting on the tips of grasses and shrubs, for a moving animal or person to brush against them. They then quickly let go of the vegetation and climb onto the host. Ticks can only crawl but are often found on the scalp having usually crawled there from lower parts of the body.

Obviously the best way to protect yourself and your family against tick-borne illness is to avoid tick bites. If you are entering an area where you expect ticks to be present, then wear protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts, long trousers, boots or sturdy shoes and a head covering. Tucking your trouser bottoms in your socks also helps. Remember, ticks are easier to detect on light-coloured clothing. This was our first mistake, between us we were either wearing shorts or summer dresses.

I remembered that you should walk in the centre of trails and paths so that the plants do not brush against you. At least I could keep an eye on the children with regard to this and they were asked to walk in the middle of the paths.

Ideally you should apply an insect repellent known to be effective against ticks on your skin, to discourage any ticks that you do come into contact with from biting. Some sites including BADA UK also recommend the use of insecticide Permethrin to treat clothing, especially trousers. Obviously you should always follow the label instructions if you choose to do this. Neither of these were an option on this occasion but are worth remembering for the future.

Advice I recalled at the time was to check yourself, children and other family members every two to three hours for ticks. If you take pets with you, check them for ticks too. I was a little over-cautious and actually checked every half an hour.

We were lucky and no one was bitten but should you be less fortunate then remember the best chance of avoiding infection from a tick bite is to remove the tick within the first 12 hours. A tick's mouth parts are barbed and can remain embedded and lead to infection at the bite site, if not removed properly. You should not try to burn the tick with a match or cover it with petroleum jelly or nail polish, these methods distress the tick causing it to regurgitate its stomach contents back into you, immediately increasing the chance of infection.

The best way to remove a tick is to grasp it firmly with tweezers as close to the skin as possible and gently, but firmly, pull it straight out. Do not twist or jerk the tick. There are special tick removing tools on the
market, check out the links below.

Wash the bite area and your hands thoroughly with soap and water and apply an antiseptic to the bite site. If you experience a rash that looks like a bull's-eye, a rash anywhere on the body or an unexplained illness accompanied by fever following a tick bite, you should consult your doctor and explain that you were bitten by a tick. Disease carried by ticks can be treated with antibiotics. However, the type of antibiotic can vary and individuals should be treated early in the infection.

Trumpety Trump felt you should be aware of the potential threats of ticks and something to take into account when you are next wading through the long grass!

Reference websites Lymes Disease Action Borreliosis and Associated Diseases Awareness UK Deer Tick

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Green Shoots (Part 2)

by Trumpety Trump

Over a wet weekend it can be difficult to find things to do in the garden with the kids. However, if you are lucky enough to have a sheltered area, and were encouraged by my previous 'Green Shoots' blog about planting seeds and bulbs with the children, read on....

I thought it was time to be looking at re-potting and assessing how our little projects were progressing. In March (which seems like a lifetime ago now), we planted some sunflower and tomato seeds together with a variety of bulbs. Their gradual growth has been watched avidly every day by the children and certainly the recent rain has given them all a healthy boost.

The little paper cups we planted the sunflower seeds in were getting far too small to sustain their recent rapid growth. We managed to find some old unused terracotta pots laying around in the garden, but any pot that allows drainage will do. The children enthusiastically filled the pots with enough compost and the sunflowers were turned out with some gentle teasing of the roots, to encourage them into their new homes. Any gaps were filled with more compost due to the new pot size, patted gently down and watered.

We also moved the six best tomato plants to grow bags, although some overzealous trampling has meant one plant is looking a little bit sorry for itself! In the meantime, the wild flowers we planted to attract insects, have finally started to show some variety in colour. Although, so far, we've only had some bumble bee visitors, the children are hoping to find some other interesting insects to capture in their bug nets. They especially love examining their creepy crawly finds from the garden by putting them in their bug box, before letting them roam free again (obviously the bees don't get caught!). Lastly, the bulbs previously planted were slug attacked but they are making a come back and hopefully will catch up with everything else.

The kids certainly enjoyed their gardening and although the rest of the garden was a wet no-go zone, we kept dry and happy. If you're in need of some child-size tools, why not look at one of Trumpety Trump’s latest additions - the super children's Garden Set with Sturdy Bag and 6 Tools.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Things making me smile...

from Trumpety Trump by Amanda Ranford

Half term swept past in a flash as usual and things are pretty much back to normal. We took off to our favourite hideaway place (Cornwall) for a sneaky rest during the mini break. Of course too many ice creams topped with irresistible clotted cream were devoured and we made the most of some lazy evenings alfresco dining when the weather was fine.

Here's a few things making me smile recently...

{Building a sandcastle and then watching the waves wash it away}

{Just one of many beautiful Cornish beaches}

{It's either Kelly's or Callestick Farm ice-cream for me!}

{Having fun looking for fish}

{A row of Lorikeets at Longleat Safari Park}

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Create an amazing hot air balloon out of papier-mâché

I'm delighted (and slightly relieved!) that the Trumpety Trump shop window display has finally come to an end. I thought it would be great to create a hot air balloon scene made from papier-mâché (French for 'chewed paper'!); little did I realise how long it would take! I have to say though that all those late evenings painstakingly applying layer upon layer of newspaper with glue, was worth it in the end. I am now delighted to be looking out my shop window at floating balloons painted in bold, eye-catching colours.

For those of you who have the patience, here's how to make a papier-mâché hot air balloon...

1. Firstly, I inflated some balloons and ripped up lots of newspaper into approximately 6-8 inch strips. If you are doing this with a child, smaller balloons are easier to papier-mâché, especially for young children.

2. PVA glue and water (about 3 parts glue to 2 parts water) were mixed together and the adhesive applied with a paintbrush to sections of the balloon. The strips of newspaper were then placed on the glue and the edges smoothed out with the brush. This process was repeated, ensuring that the paper pieces were overlapping as I covered the entire balloon. I then hung the balloon up to dry for the evening by attaching a bit of string to the end of the balloon.

3. Once the first layer of papier-mâché was dry, two further layers were applied and then left to dry again overnight (I used white paper for the final layer). Once completely dry, the balloon inside was popped and the bits of balloon latex removed.

4. I then cut a 3 inch diameter around the air hole end of the papier-mâché. Small baskets were made out of paper cups wrapped in brown packing paper and attached with string to the papier-mâché.

5. An easy design was created and the mould painted in bright colours with poster paint. Ta-dah!

My husband did a splendid job of making a huge papier-mâché hot air balloon which was carried out in much the same way as above. The difference being he used chicken wire to create the balloon structure, instead of a balloon. Once the desired balloon had been manipulated into shape, it was held together with cable ties. Layer upon layer of strips of newspaper were again applied until it was completely solid and ready to be painted.

The children got involved with the creation of the large hot air balloon and had lots of fun in the process. They particularly enjoyed splashing glue all over the place whilst we frantically put strips of paper over the mould!

WARNING: A fair amount of patience is needed if you get the little ones involved!