Let’s Be Secret Detectives

It can sometimes be difficult with Mia and Joe’s five year age gap to find an activity that captures both of their imaginations. Luckily a very exciting parcel arrived just before the half term holidays from the lovely people at BEAR nibbles. After much excitement unwrapping the parcel (always half the fun!) they were delighted to find a secret spy and invisible ink kit…complete with disguise of course!

It was so good to see how they both wanted to dress up, get into character and create some top secret messages straight away. Written with a paintbrush and lemon juice and then dried over a radiator until the secret message appears. Mia was a too impatient to wait for the radiator to dry her message and so (carefully supervised!) used a hairdryer on a low setting to dry her paper.

It worked quite well…although I suspect a little more patience with the drying process would have been rewarded with the lemon juice ink drying darker. But hey, it was about the fun of enjoying the activity rather than perfection!

As well as agreeing on how much fun it was to dress up like secret spies, Mia and Joe always agree on how yummy BEAR nibbles are. I am so glad that they love them, as they are such a healthy and convenient snack. I pop a couple in my bag for days out, and they are great for lunchboxes. They view them as a treat, the mango yoyos are a favourite with both of them, and I’m happy for them to have them as they are pure fruit without added sugar. It’s actually surprisingly difficult to find snacks, even for really young children, without any sugar or other nasties added in.

BEAR describe how they make their goodies as “real ingredients that grow on trees and fields and bake them gently. If anyone tried to sneak sugar, concentrates or any other nonsense into our foods, we’d bite their heads off.” I love this, it sums up their tasty, healthy snacks so well!

BEAR have recently launched Super Spy cards, which are perfect for collecting and swapping. I love the artwork on them too, so cute. If your little ones collect the cards they can send them to BEAR’s Super Spy Cave to receive a free Spy Kit…how exciting! More info is on their website and twitter:  http://www.bearnibbles.co.uk/ and @Follow_The_Bear

Happy faces on both of my little BEAR cub detectives, who are convinced now that they are super spies…MI5 watch out!


BEAR kindly sent us a box of pure fruit yoyos and a secret spy disguise. All opinions given are my own…and my two little secret spies!

Experiencing A Mumuration Of Starlings


It’s a lovely sounding word isn’t it, murmuration? My favourite collective noun (although a ‘plump’ of moorhens is pretty perfect too) and also the most amazing natural display. At this point in February, it sometimes feels like it has been winter forever and that perhaps spring might not ever arrive. Persuading yourself away from the warm indoors/cosy sofa and outdoors is not always easy, but is so rewarding. Winter’s natural beauty isn’t always as obvious as simple summertime pleasures, but just takes a little more effort to get out there and enjoy it.


But the sun is still here, and the clear winter skies are stunning…even if multiple layers of thermal clothing are required to get outside and enjoy them! I am definitely not a hardy outdoorsy type person; I suspect my body’s circulation system is based more on a reptile than a mammal; I’m only truly warm having soaked up some warm sunshine for a few hours!


Having visited RSPB Otmoor near Oxford to see the starling mumurations last year, I had to see this amazing display again. I waited weeks for good weather and a Sunday to happen simulataeously, and it was worth the wait. After walking a mile or two through the nature reserve I reached the reed beds where the starlings land to roost each evening. And was just in time; whilst the birds were roosting further away than last time I had seen them, the murmurations could still be seen in the far distance. Thanks to the super zoom lens I was just about able to capture some of their sky patterns.


It was so incredibly peaceful, standing quietly with a small group of people all gathered for the same reason. Everyone wrapped up warm for the freezing cold, some with telescopes or binoculars and with cameras, and most with a thermos!



Luckily we had packed hot chocolate supplies for the walk and settled down in a bird hide to enjoy our drinks and watch the starlings settle down for the night.


The walk home as the sun set over the nature reserve was stunning; such pink winter skies and silhoutted bulrushes and trees. The mist was gathering over the water and the only sound was geese and ducks in the distance.


Watching the starlings is a winter ritual that I am becoming very fond of, and one not to be missed. Since our trip to Otmoor I have seen coverage on a few tv shows of murmurations all around the country, and perhaps next year we will travel to the coast to see them gather and dance over the sand dunes!