Nana’s Knickers – Review

Having been an avid book reader since I was a wee lass, I’m very pleased that T is taking after me with her love of books. With her starting school in September (eek) we have been getting into the habit of reading books each day before bed to try and get her used to it.

When we were contacted by Nico Russell on Twitter @BlueFluffBooks with a view to reviewing his self published book “Nana’s Knickers” of course we jumped at it!

The very first thing that jumped out at me was the illustrations by Charlie Meyer, A4 pages full of colour and details. Even on the fourth time round T was finding new little things (the little mouse was a particular favourite). The font was especially chosen to help young children who are learning letter shapes and the plain backgrounds were painted yellow so those with dyslexia could see the text more clearly.

The book takes the reader on an amusing adventure as Nana wakes up and can’t find her favourite pair of knickers.  The tables are turned as her grandchildren advise her to retrace her steps (how many times have we as parent’s said that!) until Nana finds her frilly knickers! The words have a wonderful lilt and rhyme to them.

Nico wrote the book due to his unceasing appetite of his niece and nephew for new stories.  The process took two years and despite receiving tremendous feedback from schools and children, he has entirely self funded the book as publishing houses were unwilling to take a risk on a new author, despite him being the youngest ever winner of the National Poetry Competition in 2012.

This makes me sad.  How many other wonderful books are out there unread because publishers don’t want to take a risk? What if an author doesn’t have the option to go self funded?

Nana’s Knickers can be ordered at Blue Fluff Books for £5.99 (plus p+p) or a signed copy for £6.50 (plus p+p) –





Guest Post – When Mumsnet Norfolk Local met Emma Healey

Reblogged with the kind permission of Nicola Miller, Editor of Mumsnet Norfolk.


The book the whole country will be reading this summer – and it’s written by a Norfolk author

First-time novelist Emma Healey was courted with tinned peaches and forget-me-nots when her book sparked a bidding war, took her first careers advice from the film Clueless, and has fallen in love with Norwich.

Emma Healey, author of Elizabeth is missing. Picture: Martin Figura
Emma Healey, author of Elizabeth is missing. Picture: Martin Figura

Nine publishers vied for Emma Healey’s first novel and next week the national launch of the book, already being hailed a masterpiece, takes place in Norwich.

Emma always assumed she would have to beg publishers to take her book but instead looked on, bemused, as they competed for her attention.

Publishers wooed her by staging elaborate meetings, based around the themes of Elizabeth Is Missing.

Penguin, which eventually won the right to publish the book, gave her hand-written notes from staff at all levels of the business who had loved the book. Another publisher sent her an old-fashioned suitcase packed with some of the possessions and passions, ranging from pearls to tinned peaches, of her heroine Maud. Then there was the meeting she arrived at, to find Maud’s favourite music being played, missing woman posters all over the building directing her to a room full of forget-me-nots. “I was nearly in tears,” admitted Emma.

Elizabeth Is Missing has already been sold and translated around the world and has just been voted pick of the month by library staff across the USA.

It tells the story of an elderly woman whose friend vanishes. Maud sets out to solve the mystery of her missing friend, while battling her own dementia, and discovers unsettling parallels with the disappearance of her sister, half a century earlier.

Emma is just 29, but her ability to write with the voice of an old woman whose mind is being destroyed by dementia has been hailed as astounding and likened to Mark Haddon’s portrayal of an autistic boy in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

“It’s incredibly flattering,” said Emma. “Reading him helped me realise you could write a mystery without having a detective.”

When we meet, in a Norwich café, the first thing she notices is how our window table will be wonderful for people watching when she is old. So does she have a particular affinity with much older people?

She says some of the inspiration for the book came from her grandmothers.

One is severely affected by dementia, the other had always been good at telling stories and anecdotes. Emma wrote down the stories, both to have something to remember her grandmother by, and as something to talk about when she visited her in hospital as she lay dying.

Her other grandmother no longer knows who Emma is, but was able to read an early draft of part of the book. “She said she didn’t like it because it was too real,” said Emma, who took the criticism as an indication that the novel was beginning to work.

Emma also scoured manuals about caring for people with dementia and admitted: “I even went with a friend to visit a relative once and sat taking notes. Isn’t that awful?!”

Self-deprecating, friendly and funny, Emma still seems shocked by the runaway success of Elizabeth is Missing.

She was working as a web administrator at the University of East Anglia when the fairytale began.

She had been writing since childhood but never saw it as a career option.

“I told people that I was going to be a litigator. I really had very little idea of what a litigator was, but I had heard the term in Clueless. The dad was a litigator and it seemed like a proper grown-up job!” said Emma.

In fact she left school at 16 with very few qualifications and went on to art school, where she studied for degree in book art which included crafts such as bookbinding and embossing. “But I was terrible at that too!” she said.

She found a job in marketing, but continued writing in secret and applied to do a creative writing course at the University of East Anglia.

“I didn’t admit to having any aspirations because it was hugely embarrassing,” said Emma. “I felt like it was a dirty secret that I was going home and writing things. I would say I was going to do an MA and hope they wouldn’t ask about the subject!

“It’s like saying you want to be a pop star, or astronaut. You’re supposed to grow out of it! Plenty of people say ‘I’m writing a book.’ I didn’t want to be that person.”

She found her voice alongside her character, Maud. “Until then everything seemed to be about a woman in her 20s living in London and it was so boring! I didn’t want to read it myself, so why anyone else would…!”

“I thought writing about dementia would be cathartic and imagined that if I knew enough about it, it would become less scary, but now I’m absolutely terrified of my parents getting it.”

So has she discovered anything positive about old age?

“Maybe you can get away with bad behaviour a bit, but although I don’t want to be depressing about it, not really. I look forward to a time when you are not constantly thinking about the way you look, but maybe you still are…”

She is discovering that being a successful writer demands an unsettling mix of being intensely solitary and hugely gregarious, of meticulous planning and unimagined chains of events.

To keep track of the many strands of a mystery straddling half a century, being investigated by a heroine with a disintegrating personality, meant her Norwich home was strewn with plans and maps of her imagined house and town. She used different fonts for each period and character, to keep track of the many voices.

And as the book took shape she submitted parts of it as her MA dissertation. It was put forward for an award and a literary agent involved in the judging process asked to see it when it was finished. It was sold in Canada before it even had a title.

Since then Elizabeth is Missing has been sold to 20 countries including China, Brazil and Turkey and translated into 18 languages. Television rights have been snapped up and the American deal included Emma’s second book too, which is something of a problem looming beyond the whirlwind of launches and interviews, tours and signings.

“It’s not even started. It’s a seriously vague idea in my head!” admitted Emma.

The UK launch of Elizabeth is Missing is in the Norwich branch of Waterstones on Tuesday, June 3.

Emma has fallen in love with her adopted home city. “Norwich is where the book really became what it is,” she said. “It’s so nice. How can one ever leave? It’s such a great place. I was such a London-centric person I didn’t leave London to live until I was 25 and I came here and it was like ‘Oh this is why people don’t live in London!’ Norwich is amazing. It’s busy enough. It’s just hipster enough. You can get good coffee and there are interesting shops but it’s not unbalanced. You don’t feel it’s too studenty or too local. And there are about a million writers in Norwich so it’s not difficult to find other writers to talk to.”

Having found Norwich, she is slightly reluctant to leave.

“You know that bit when you get back from a holiday and think ‘that was lovely’ that’s my favourite moment. Most of the time I’m actually away I’m anxious!” said Emma. “I’m quite nervous about it all – and scared I’m going to swear in a television interview!”

Emma has another reason for launching the book in Norwich’s Waterstones. She not only had part-time jobs in branches in both London and Norwich but also met her boyfriend, a fellow UEA student, in Norwich’s Royal Arcade.

“He was a history student. I was a Christmas temp.” Now the store is a Jamie’s restaurant and the couple returned for an anniversary dinner.

“I never ever said I was writing when I worked there, but I did use to daydream about where on the shelf my book would go!”

What did not cross her mind was that her book would be destined for a place among the best sellers!

• Elizabeth is Missing is being published by Penguin and the UK edition will be launched at Waterstones in Norwich on Tuesday, June 3 at 7.30pm. The free event includes refreshments and the opportunity to buy a signed copy of Elizabeth is Missing – recommended retail price £12.99.

• Emma will also be appearing in the book department at Jarrold in Norwich on Tuesday, June 17 at 6pm. Tickets are £3, including a glass of wine, with £3 redeemable off purchases of her book.

This first appeared in the Eastern Daily Press on May 27th 2014.

Longthorpe Tower is brought to life with downloadable audio guides

Longthorpe Tower is often a forgotten gem amongst Peterborough’s historical venues. I received this press release regarding new audio guides to accompany you whilst you look around.

Longthorpe Tower

Vivacity Heritage is proud to announce the release of audio guides to accompany your visit to Longthorpe Tower!  From this Easter, you will be able to hear the stories and secrets of the Tower, from its construction in 1300 to its conservation today.

The guide features different characters from over 600 years of history. Meet an irate quarryman who brought stone from Barnack to use around the windows and doors, and listen to Lady Margaret de Thorpe making party plans for the harvest festivities!

Discover how the Home Guard used the Tower as an observation post during World War Two, and how in the aftermath Hugh Horrell unearthed the sumptuous medieval wall paintings that had hidden under plaster for centuries.

The creation of the audio guides was managed by Abi Wilson, Heritage Development Officer at Vivacity, who was delighted to see this project through from foundation to fruition: “It has been a real privilege to work on this project, and I am so excited that everyone can now share in it. Longthorpe Tower is a fascinating building, full of surprises, and finding a way to bring its story to life has been an incredibly rewarding experience.”

This project has been achieved in partnership with English Heritage. Download the audio guide for free onto your smartphone or MP3 player by visiting If you do not have an audio device, there are a small number of MP3 players available for use at Longthorpe Tower.

Longthorpe Tower reopens on 5 April, when there will be a very special event running Saturday 5 – Sunday 6 April, 10am-5pm: Preparing for War – The Tower and Richard III. It’s 1485 and Sir Robert Whittlebury is preparing to fight for King Richard III. Now’s your chance to meet soldiers, handle weapons, see the ‘arming of the knight’ daily at 11am and 3pm, find out about delicious food and gruesome cures, and take part in children’s military drill sessions! Adults £4, concessions £3 and families £10. There’s no need to book – just drop-in!

Rambles create new insight into Sacrewell

For those of you who like to ramble (walking not talking) Sacrewell Farm have launched two new routes around the site. The routes are designed for people who want to get out on the Farm and explore but don’t necessarily want to pay Farm entry.

Below is more details.


Sacrewell Farm, in association with Riverford Organic and Natural England, have launched two new ramble routes around the 550-acre site.

Starting from the Farm Centre, the two-mile and one-mile walks take you around the farmland which is leased by the William Scott Abbott Trust to Riverford Organic to grow their vegetables.

Ramblers will be able to view a number of the fields farmed on the site, as well as taking in the Riverford offices and the abundance of wildlife around the Farm.

Marketing and Communications Officer Megan Horner says the rambles will open up parts of the Farm never seen by visitors before.

She added: “We have been running tractor rides in association with Riverford for years and they are very popular with our visitors who want to know more about the farming side of things here.

“The rambles will give them an opportunity to explore on foot thanks to permissive access given by the Trust by working alongside Riverford.”

The routes have been created using a £1,000 Community Leadership Grant from Peterborough City Council. The money has been used to create posts to guide people around the Farm and will also be used to create interpretation boards so that ramblers can learn about the land they are walking on.

Miss Horner added: “The history of the Farm is fascinating and the ever changing landscape will keep people coming back season after season to see what has changed. What may be a field of cabbages one year could easily be filled with sheep the following.”

Ramble maps are free and can be picked up from Reception at Sacrewell Farm and will guide you around the two routes. Free parking is available and there is no charge to take part. Sensible footwear must be worn at all times and the Farm will not be held liable for any damage.

For more information about activities at Sacrewell please vsisit

Review – Mia Tui Bags

I was recently sent an Ella bag from Mia Tui to try out.


About Mia Tui – Charlotte started Mia Tui in 2010 after searching for years to find the perfect bag.  Mia Tui bags are designed for all women and can be used for many occasions, whether you are a mother using it as a changing bag, a working woman or off on holiday. Charlotte first designed the Amelie as a travel bag, needing to fit everything she needed and allow her to find things quickly but also fit under the seat in front of her.

With a range of 9 different bags their is something to match every occasion.

From their website

The Ella is a shoulder hobo bag featuring contrast stitching and zip closure, perfect as a work bag, baby changing bag, or stylish medium sized handbag

As with all our bags, Ella is waterproof inside and out and comes in a range of colours.

You’ll find our unique interior with multiple pockets, zips, clips and extra bags, means you never have to dig for a missing key or lipstick again. And you’ll fit everything you need in one bag to stay looking stylish.

Ella is made in ultra soft faux-leather.

Included with the Ella:

    • 1 Clear internal bag with hand strap
    • 1 Matching Clutchbag with hand strap
    • 2 Water bottle holders
    • Key clip
    • Phone pocket
    • Pen holder
    • Hands free shoulder strap
    • Pink Interior


    W40cm, D16cm, H32cm


    Outer Ultra Soft Faux Leather

    Interior PU coated Nylon – Pink

As a WOHM (Work Out of Home Mum) this bag is ideal. I don’t have the nickname Mary Poppins for nothing, and lets not mention how many changing bags I have gone through in three years…..

The two inside pockets are roomy and deep, no chance of items falling out and also big enough to hold the two extra bags you get.  The clear PVC bag (airline compliant for carry on liquids) is ideal for holding toiletries for you or a spare change of clothes for your child. The matching clutch bag is great for keys, money and small essentials for you, or to give to your child to hold their toys and crayons in. I also love the holdall it comes packaged in, another bonus bag. This will come in handy for picnics or seaside visits.


A typical work day bag

The water bottle holders are big enough to hold bottles and umbrellas. I especially like that there are two, one for your child’s drink and one for yours (it even fits a bottle of wine, no I have not tested that out yet)!

I personally haven’t used the phone pocket as I prefer to carry mine in my coat but have been using it for deodorant and lipsticks! The key clip is elasticated enough that I have even managed to use my keys to open the door without unclipping!

I have been using the detachable shoulder strap more as I like to have hands free and even with the mountain of items I carry for work or with Toddler I have found it comfortable and easy to use.

Mia Tui are also supporting the Lullaby Trust and donating 10% of their sales of the “Matilda Mae” bag to the charity

I have used this bag non stop for the last few weeks and there still isn’t a mark on it. On a work day mine has my Kindle and Filofax in along with the usual make up bag, purse paraphernalia and still has room to spare. On a weekend day, even with bottles and clothes and the teddy I end up carrying it doesn’t feel “stuffed”.

I have my eye on a couple more bags (I mentioned the bag habit above didn’t I) and definitely think these are worth the investment.

*I was sent the Ella Bag in Chocolate for review however all opinions are my own and have not been influenced at all*

**Update – Mia Tui have kindly offered readers and members of Mumsnet Peterborough a 15% discount code – enter Mumsnet15 to take advantage**


Feature – BabyCalm


BabyCalm is a new mother and baby class coming to Peterborough.  Starting in March and being held in the brand new Kiddicare Event Room they offer a four week postnatal Mother and Baby course.

What you will learn:

  • Baby Touch Therapy – our unique light baby massage routine.
  • How to aid bonding with your new baby
  • Learn ways to calm a crying baby
  • Tips to soothe baby colic
  • How to cope with your fussy baby
  • How to survive evening cluster feeds
  • How to help your baby to sleep a little more
  • Why babies are only happy in your arms and how to get your arms back!
  • What baby products are really worth having
  • Help you to feel more calm and confident as a new mother.
  • Provide an all important social activity for you and your baby

Offering a more relaxed way of parenting, they are most suited for newborns from birth to 20 weeks.

Founded in 2007 by Sarah Ockwell-Smith they now have a team of over 120 babycalmers in England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, the UAE and shortly the USA.

Emma Bliss runs the courses and was previously a biologist and a teacher. She will be offering BabyCalm™ workshops and courses to people living in Peterborough, March and surrounding towns, including Wisbech, Chatteris and Whittlesey, and any place in between.

To see details of Emma’s courses click here

CBeebies Land at Alton Towers

Ok so I know this isn’t in Peterborough, but if you can find me a young child who isn’t going to be bugging you day after day to go to this I will eat my hat!

I heard rumblings of a CBeebies land attraction coming to Alton Towers so being partial to a bit of Mr Blooms Nursery myself, headed over to Twitter to see what I could find out.

Below is a press release with all the information.

cbeebies land

Something Special, In the Night Garden, Mr Bloom and more CBeebies favourites to feature in CBeebies Land at Alton Towers Resort

Alton Towers Resort has unveiled further details of the rides, attractions and characters to feature in CBeebies Land. Opening on 24 May 2014, the new area of the resort will feature some of CBeebies’ best-loved characters and shows including Something Special, In the Night Garden, Tree Fu Tom and Mr Bloom’s Nursery.

CBeebies Land will include rides, immersive play areas, live experiences, character appearances and will be a fun and safe environment for pre-schoolers to play and learn. Discover the Something Special Sensory Garden, or set sail through the In the Night Garden Magical Boat Ride to see if you can spot Igglepiggle, Upsy Daisy and Makka Pakka.  And it’ll be mayhem in Justin’s House where Justin and Robert need help to put the cherry on top of the perfect custard pie with the Pie-o-matic 5000. Justin’s House is a madcap attraction allowing indoor active play. Test out Robert’s inventions as you help Justin, Robert and Little Monster make the best custard pies ever!

There’ll also be a chance to meet The Veggies in Mr Bloom’s Allotment; learn about the our five senses in the Nina’s Science Lab; get delivering with Postman Pat’s Parcel Post; practice Tree Fu magic moves in Tree Fu Tom’s Training Camp; drive a Numtum Cart in the Numtums Number-Go-Round and enter the imaginative world of Charlie & Lola’s Moonsquirters and Greendrops.

CBeebies Land also features The Big Fun ShowTime pavilion which will host live experiences and entertainment including shows from Mike the Knight, The ZingZillas and Nina & The Neurons. Throughout the park, children will have opportunities to meet their favourite characters from In the Night Garden, Postman Pat, Mike the Knight, The ZingZillas and Tree Fu Tom.

The attraction will be updated with new content, while a varied programme of events will run alongside the main attractions ensuring that no two visits to CBeebies Land will be the same.

CBeebies Land opens at the Alton Towers Resort on 24 May 2014. Visit for more information and to book tickets. Follow @cbeebiesland on Twitter or for the latest news.

Full list of attractions within CBeebies Land :

Postman Pat’s Parcel Post, In the Night Garden Magical Boat Ride, Mr Bloom’s Allotment, Get Set Go Tree Top Adventure, Something Special Sensory Garden, Justin’s House Pie-O-Matic Factory, Nina’s Science Lab, Charlie & Lola’s Moonsquirters and Greendrops, The Numtums Number-Go-Round, Tree Fu Tom Training Camp, Big Fun Show Time, CBeebies Photo Studio

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