Carry on for kids

Holidays! Sunshine, swimming pools,  cheap local beer, kids club every morning (very important).

But first, the flight. 4 hours, 4 people but only 3 seats. How do you keep kids entertained on the plane? Here are the toys and games I packed for the Gs.

I bought a stack of small, cheap new toys for the holiday. Hawkins Bazaar has a selection of “pocket money toys” and I started there. I added a few bits from Tiger and B&M Homestores. It’s not all the highest quality but if it gets lost or covered in sunscreen, it doesn’t matter. 

Here’s what I packed for G Major in her carry on bag:

  • Colouring book and pencils – colouring is a new obsession and  she’s surprisingly neat, although she uses a LOT of black
  • Wipe clean fairy faces book – helpfully reusable
  • Mini stamp set – ideally for paper but if it descends into tattooing, so be it
  • Tic tac toe game – the concept of placing the little wooden is a more concrete idea to grasp than drawing them on paper 
  • Ball and cup game – something physical but doesn’t require leaving her seat 
  • iPad and Headphones – because everyone loves a quiet child on a plane. She can m watch four hours straight of Angelina Ballerina for all I care.

And this was G Minor’s:

  • Ball
  • Tolo figurine. If you haven’t seen the Tolo toys, check them out. They’re a little bit bigger than Playmobil and Duplo, great for toddler hands, and all of the limbs, hair, hats etc move
  • Book – name the sea creatures before we get to the beach
  • Crayons – she’s loving mark making 
  • Pop up puppet – if G Minor isn’t interested I bet any kids in the seat behind me will be 
  • Wind up train

Not that it really matters what I put in G Minor’s bag – she!only wants whatever G Major has and perhaps Mummy’s empty gin mini. 

Plus snacks and sweets and G Minor’s dummy – usually for bed time only but again, quiet children = happy passengers so I don’t care. 

What will you be taking away with you this summer?


Basic biscuits

What to do with a long bank holiday weekend?

Big G was building a pantry door to replace the one that fell off its hinges last week, complete with built-in spice racks.

G Minor is finally on the move. She waited until I had taken her to the physio to check all was ok; less than 48 hours later off she trotted in a positively JAUNTY fashion. So she is quite content crawling about – I lay a trail of toys from one of the sitting room to the other and she bumbles back and forth.

So G Major and I made some biscuits. We made the dough after lunch, chilled it during nap time, cut them out and baked them when everyone woke up and they were ready to eat after supper.

It kept her engaged all afternoon. Also, our neighbour has had a fall and is in the hospital so we were able to send a little biscuit care package.

This recipe is very versatile. Depending on what you have in, you can make all kinds of different biscuits. Add some jam for thumbprint biscuits; sprinkle the dough with cinnamon and sugar and roll up before slicing into rounds; add boiled sweets for stained glass window biscuits; add any dried fruit or nuts; leave them plain and ice them.

Obviously, as these are basic biscuits, I made them wearing yoga pants and drinking a Starbucks skinny caramel latte.

What you need:
250g softened butter
140g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
Splash of vanilla essence
300g plain flour

What you do

1. Cream the butter and sugar. The recipe from which this was adapted says to do that by hand but seriously, use the mixer.

2. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and beat to combine, then gently beat in the flour.

3. Add any extra  ingredients. I had chocolate chips, glace cherries and pecans to use up, so one-third of the dough got the chocolate chips and one-third got the chopped cherries and pecans. I also had some lemon curd in the fridge so I left the last portion plain for thumbprint biscuits.

4. Roll the dough up in cling film and chill for an hour. I like to do this in a sausage shape as you can then just slice through the sausage to get nice rounds and not worry about biscuit cutters.

5. Once chilled, slice or press out into rounds.

6. For the thumbprint biscuits, G Major made an indentation in each biscuit and we filled it with lemon curd.

7.Bake at 180C for about 15 minutes. I start checking at 12 minutes; these needed a little longer this time round.

Easy Easter baskets

Do you have a big extended family? I’m one of only two, with no nieces or nephews, so I only have to consider my brother and mother for birthdays and Christmas and so on.

Big G is one of three, and all have children, so at full strength we’re 15 for high days and holidays. I know it’s tiny compared to some families, but it still seems like a LOT of people.

It also means a lot of chocolate at Easter. So this year we’re giving a basket of assorted chocs per household, rather than individual eggs for each person.

And because family is usually willing to indulge a three-year-old, I got G Major to help me make some baskets. I did the cutting and fine assembly; she did the decorating and supplied a non-stop commentary. I’ll spare you the commentary and just tell you how to make the baskets, shall I?

What you’ll need

2 sheets of paper or card per basket
Glue and scissors
Something to use as a circular template
Decorations. (I went to Poundland, spent a fiver, and came away with pompom chicks, ribbon, shredded paper and two packs of self-adhesive stickers. Bargain. You can buy some of these online)

What you do

From one sheet of card, cut a circle and a long strip to use as a handle.

Fold the other sheet of card in half lengthways and cut along the fold to make two wide strips. Mark a line on both and make small snips up to
the line (much as you would to line a cake tin with greaseproof paper).

Glue the two strips together and trim to just a little longer than the circumference of the circle you’ve already cut out. Attach one end of the handle at the join.


We decorated the basket at this point, as it was easier than trying to attach things to the upright sides of the basket.



Brush a wide strip of glue around the edge of the circle of card. Fold the cut edges of your basket sides flat to the circle of card and shape the sides to fit around the circle. Glue the edges together and attach the other end of the handle at the join.

Once dry, fill with shredded paper and eggs.Or, leave it out for the Easter Bunny to fill.

Father Christmas gets a wee snifter on Christmas Eve. Having made these baskets, I’m thinking perhaps the Easter Bunny deserves the same. What do you think?