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When it comes to Halloween, we may not do trick or treating but we have a tradition of having a “spooky tea” instead.

Spooky tea usually includes suitably scary food, such as witches fingers (hotdogs with sliced cherry tomatoes for nails and  tomato ketchup for blood) or bangers and monster mash (mash with green vegetables such as peas or brocolli mashed in.)

With an array of spider cupcakes or such like for desserts.

This year, I was thinking of a Halloween sound track to accompany.

Here’s my top 5 spooky selection for kids:

Ghostbusters

“Who ya gonna call?!”

Michael Jackson, Thriller

Spooky goings on, indeed.

Damien, Time Warp

“It’s just a step to the left! And then a step to the ri””hiiii’ggghht!”

The Monster Mash

The Addams Family Theme tune

The original spooky family!

What songs would make your Halloween playlist?

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When I was a child, there was nothing better than turning the television on on a Saturday morning and being entertained by dedicated children’s TV.

Which, is why I have turned on this week and been baffled by the lack of ANYTHING that would remotely be interesting to little kids.

If you have a child that loves cooking programmes or ingesting the current affairs and the state of the world over their bowl of Cornflakes, then fair enough. You’re probably happy enough chatting about Ebola panics over pancakes.

For the rest of us though? Bring back something the kids can watch for fun.

It’s not Saturday morning without any of these.

Trev and Simon on Going Live.

“Swing your pants now….”

Or there was Live and Kicking.

“081 811 8181!

What I had for lunch yesterday will slip out of my head. A phone number from approximately 20 years ago is apparently still up there intact in jingle form.

Wacaday Mallet’s Mallet.

“Look at each other and shout “BLEEEURGH!”

We have a foam Mallet’s Mallet Pinky Punky here. It’s strangely satisfying to bop each other over the head with it.

Bring back Saturday morning telly!

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At primary school, if you want your dinner, you either take a packed lunch with you or pay upfront for school dinners.

The thing with high school though, is that you’re now a responsible person in charge of your own dinner money.

Oh yes. You take in your money, and upload it onto a machine that’s been tailored to your fingerprint so only you can use it.

(It’s very high tech stuff nowadays, none of this shoving money in an envelope malarkey with the teacher’s name, form and amount scribbled in biro on the front.)

When you’re a kid who’s just been let loose in a sweet shop for the first time you have to exercise a bit of willpower though. Or more accurately in a dinner hall full of tempting break snacks such as bagels, hot buttered toast, as well as all the spaghetti bolognese, creamy curries, meatballs, etc.

Willpower needed because even if you spend all your money on your account, you are still able to get hot toasted snacks or whatever.

Yes kids, even if there’s no money on your account you can still buy things with it.

Way to go by introducing the concept of debt to a newly turned 11 year old.

The other day he decided he didn’t like his packed lunch sandwich so bought one. Even though his account said zero, all spent up, it lets you get it.

The other morning he got a bagel at break time.

So his account is now in debt before he’s even had any school lunches this week. Sheesh.

I suppose it does create an opportunity to learn about the concept of money managing at an early age though.

So instead of just paying off his ‘overdraft’ of a few pounds, it’s coming out of his pocket money. The first time I did, but now, not so much.

Is it not better that he learns if you spend what you don’t have then it has to be paid back? I think it stands you in good stead to take this approach instead of just automatically paying it back for him.

After all, in adult real life, you can’t go crying to mummy to pay off your credit card debts or whatever, can you?!

What would you do?

Am I harsh, or fair?! :-)

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Enjoying Panda drinks

To me, school discos would never have been complete without the inclusion of Panda drinks.

They consisted of cheesy disco music, with girls dancing in one corner and boys dancing in the other.

A tuck shop trestle table with crisps and Panda Pops to whet your appetite and fuel your pogo-ing around the room with your friends.

Which is why I was delighted to find out that they are back, healthier and have a whole new range of flavours.

With two extremely active boys who enjoy playing lots of football, they’re a great thirst quencher and easy to carry about in your bag for when needed.

panda pops

We tried the blackcurrant and the raspberry still juices, and the flavoured waters (blackcurrant and a peach one.)

The small people said they tasted ‘yummy and fruity’.

As for me, as I don’t often drink squash I was a bit apprehensive in case it wasn’t as I remembered it (nothing like ruining nostalgia with a good dose of adult clarity!)

I’m happy to say they tasted really nice though, and not artificial or chemical like some squashes do.

I also loved the fact that they have only natural flavourings and colourings too, which means you can give these to your kids safe in the knowledge that you’re not pumping them full of rubbish, or e-numbers that will have you peeling them off the ceiling at bedtime. :-)

I’d definitely get them again as they’re handy for when out and about, and for the nostalgia factor – nice to know that my kids can enjoy Panda drinks too, and create their own memories!

You can buy the drinks at Tesco, and if you’d like to check out the range for yourself they’re on the Panda website here or on Facebook.

We were given some drinks in order to do this review. All views and opinions strictly my own and those of the children, and wholly true and accurate.

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york minster

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When I was at primary school, I used to enjoy taking in a packed lunch every day and sitting and eating it with my friends.

Now, thanks to one school in South Yorkshire, some children have been told they’re not allowed to bring packed lunches into school and that they have to go onto school dinners instead.

Some parents have even pulled their children out over the new rules.

Good on them.

As a parent with two children on packed lunches, it riles me to think that parents are deemed too damn stupid to know what constitutes a healthy, balanced diet and instead they’re strong-arming us into eating their stuff instead.

Not content with being the Lunch Box Police and banning items like chocolate bars and juice (yep, it happens) some schools are taking it one step further and banning all food from home instead.

I don’t feed my kids crap. A typical packed lunch here would consist of a wholemeal tuna and cucumber roll, a mini cheese or yoghurt, a piece of fruit such as a banana/satsuma/apple, and maybe a flapjack or biscuit as well.

Once a week as a treat they’ll get a bag of crisps in there as well. (Shock, horror.)

You know what else really riles? The fact that you get “No Chocolate!” thrown into the rules and then they’ll have chocolate cake on the menu for those on school dinners.

I couldn’t give a flying if it’s healthy chocolate cake made out of organic ingredients hand crafted by fluttering angels, or if it’s really got beetroot hiding in there too.

Talk about double standards.

I suppose it’s all well and good if you get them free. You’ve got children under 7, or you’re on benefits, then no problem. Get the dinners free.

What if you’re one of those households suckers that work though? Shafted yet again. £1.75 might not sound a lot but over the month that’s £35 in dinners. If you’ve got two kids, double it so you’re forking out £70 a month on their dinners.

If you want to put them on dinners, fine. To be told that you HAVE to though? They can stick that up their chocolate cake and smoke it.

The headteacher is quoted as saying said no one was being ‘forced’ to participate as parents could take their children home for lunch if they chose.

Well, that’s big of her. What happens if you don’t live close enough to get back home, eat your dinner and get back to school before bell goes?

Are you expected to walk to pick your child up and sit on a bench outside the school grounds with a Tupperware box?!

I don’t think so.

Stop treating parents like children and realise that the majority are perfectly capable of feeding their own children perfectly healthily.

What do you think?

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blackberry smoothie

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