Saturday, 29 March 2014

Africa Alive! A perfect Fine-Weather Day out in East Anglia

(This is NOT a sponsored Post)
We are spoilt for choice here in East Anglia for Zoos and Wildlife Parks. Colchester Zoo is one of the country's top zoos and an excellent day out - rain or shine. Banham Zoo is another excellent day out, and although smaller in scale Shepreth Wildlife Park is another excellent venue with plenty to do.

We opted to visit Africa Alive for a change and were not disappointed.

With tomorrow being Mother's Day, Both Banham and Africa Alive! are offering free entry for Mums, which a full priced Adult ticket.

Saturday, 22 March 2014


Dorothy LOVES animals. She currently has lots of animal friends. Pets can be extremely rewarding, and whilst they need a high level of care and attention, give so much love and entertainment back.

You would be surprised how interactive they can be too, even those you might not expect to be! This was filmed by Dorothy's friend when he was 8, his Russian Dwarf hamster (above) enjoyed swinging across the bars of his cage!

We trained our guinea pig to jump back in his carrier when it is time for him to leave his run. It certainly beats trying to chase him on hands and knees for 45 minutes!

Cats are great fun, and are really playful. This is our cat enjoying playing under a dripping tap. Who says cats don't like water??!

Dorothy writes:-

I am SO excited! We are taking on two rescue rabbits in a couple of weeks, called Poppy and Jasmine. Our family used to have two rabbits many years ago, they are so much fun to cuddle and watch - and can be easily trained too. Our rabbits are coming with a large hutch which is situated above an even larger run, so we won't have to buy these items. We still need to prepare for our new friends carefully though!

There is fantastic information on the Pets at Home site but in summary you need the following:-
  • Somewhere to live
  • Somewhere to run about (and tall enough for them to stand on their hind legs without their head touching the top)
  • Rabbit Pellet Food (to avoid selective feeding where your rabbit picks out his favourite bits and leaves the rest!!)
  • Fresh water every day
  • Bowl and water bottle
  • A bottle brush to clean the bottle properly
  • Clean bedding and lots of hay/straw/wood shavings for warmth and absorbency
  • Toys and tunnels
  • A corner "toilet"(Optional but useful!) 

Toilet Training
It is surprisingly easy to toilet train rabbits. Each day put some of their droppings in the designated toilet area - which should have cat litter, wood shavings or paper pellets in for absorbency. It only took a couple of weeks to have ours fully toilet trained last time.

Owning a pet is a BIG responsibility. It can also be quite expensive, larger animals like cats and dogs need vaccinations, neutering (so they don't keep having unwanted babies) and if they are sick they need to see a vet. And all pets need to be loved and appreciated through their whole lives, and it isn't ok to take on an animal - even a hamster - without considering the long term. You also need to consider whether someone is home most of every day as some pets - like dogs, don't appreciate being left alone for long periods. Dogs are fabulous companions but definitely more of a tie and a bigger responsibility. You need to be sure someone in your family have enough time to walk a dog as they need lots of exercise.

Always prepare well, read up on your chosen pet and plan carefully for their arrival.
Then you can look forward to years of furry companionship!

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Making a Vegetable Patch

With the beautiful Spring weather FINALLY here, Dorothy has been keen to get out in the garden! Whilst growing flowers is lovely, there are few things more satisfying than planting your own vegetables, nurturing them and watching them grow.

It can be time consuming to get going, but it's great fun. The best time of year to start seeding is NOW! Spring time! 

First you need to prepare the soil. You need to remove ALL the weeds and turn the earth. You don't have to be very ambitious though, a small patch is fine! You could fork in some compost too, if you are worried about soil quality.

We chose to partition our little gardens as Dorothy and her friends wanted their own areas. We marked ours out with decking planks but string markers would have been fine.

The preparation really is the most important (and time consuming) bit. If you are pushed for space, you could plant up a grow bag on a tray - be sure to puncture some holes (carefully!) to let the water drain out.

Select your seeds, and sow as the instructions tell you. This is important. You could use the seed packets to make markers to remind you what you are growing -if you own a laminator you could waterproof them too.

It's important to keep your plants watered frequently, and to keep checking for weeds. By Autumn you should have some delicious vegetables to help cook and eat!

Mammasaurus and How Does Your Garden Grow?

London Sea Life Aquarium and the Southbank

The London Aquarium is on the Southbank in London - a wonderful place to visit in the summer (in particular) when there are plenty of additional activities for children. The rest of the year there are acrobats and street performers to watch, Clipper boats to travel up and down the Thames and at Easter, an egg hunt at Gabriel's Wharf! There is also a rumour that the Easter Bunny might be visiting...

The Clipper boats are a great way to see London, in particular the large river frontages you rarely get a glimpse of. The "River Roamer" ticket means you can hop on and off all day.

For this trip Dorothy's friends James and George went to the Aquarium before walking across the bridge to catch a Clipper boat eastwards towards Canary Wharf.

Get your mums and Dads to check out the Southbank website for more information!

The London Aquarium is right next to the London Eye, in the County Hall Building (next to McDonald's too...) and hosts one of Europe's largest collections of marine life.

Allergies and Healthy Eating

Healthy Eating - What it means for us

Dorothy's friends Katherine and Alfie are eight years old. They suffer from food allergies, in their case “gut allergies” called non IgE allergies which you can’t test for.

IgE allergies are the ones which bring an instant reaction, and extreme forms can cause anaphylaxis.
Do you know anyone who carries an Epipen? They contain medicine for that sort of allergy. You can test for those - which makes identifying your trigger foods a little easier, although food allergies are never easy!

"There are different types of food allergies. We have Eosinophilic Disease, when the body gets confused and thinks some foods are like germs and need attacking. The problem is this attack can end up hurting your body too! Eating those foods make your throat, tummy or bowel red and sore and stops them working properly. If you are not careful then things we all take for granted like eating, swallowing and digesting food don’t happen properly. Going to the toilet can be painful, take a long time and be really difficult. Like any other food allergy you must stop eating the food your body is reacting to.

Some people react in a quick, dangerous way to foods. This can be life threatening. Others react more slowly but the long term effect can be very serious. All our bodies like to be cared for, letting them get red, sore and swollen for long periods of time can damage them. Our bodies work best when they are properly cared for. We all try and look after our teeth by not eating too many sweets! If you have a food allergy you look after your body by avoiding those foods your body reacts to.

Sometimes that means you cannot eat foods which have important things in them for growing. That can mean you need to find those important things in other foods, or in a special formula drink, and take medicines to keep healthy."

Food still needs to be fun though - Katherine and Alfie do lots of baking and cooking with their mum. You can substitute most foods to make delicious recipes.

There are lots of recipes here!

Katherine says "Getting enough energy is really important - we use a lot of it in school! So sometimes food you might think is less healthy is just right for us! Healthy Eating is really important. It is about looking after your body. But most of all it is about eating in a way to take care of your own body in the best way possible for you."

Want more information on food allergies? 
For “classic” IgE food allergies Our Allergy Adventures is a great site for kids. Lots of activities and useful child-friendly information.
For general info on allergies for kids
Or if your parents want to read more about allergies and intolerances, or more specifically Gut Allergies.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Spring Flowers

Now the weather is improving at last, we have been enjoying getting outside! It's been a long, wet winter and at last, Spring is on the way. With all the blossom appearing on the trees and the daffodils popping up we thought it would be fun to try and make some flowers of our own.

There are many templates and suggestions on the web, we fancied something a little different. There is a lovely blog full of crafts and activities with free downloads called "Aunt Annie". We found just what we needed here!

You need:-

  • A printer! and some stiff paper
  • Flower colour felt tip pens
  • Scissors
  • glue or tape
  • a thin straw (optional)

First we downloaded the template pages, and printed them off.

Then we select our colours and coloured the templates in.
NOTE thicker paper works best and you need to colour both sides in!

Then you carefully cut out all the parts and follow the instructions.

It was quite straitforward to put together. We opted to wrap a thin straw inside the stem to make a rounder and stronger support for our flowers.

Our daffodil!

Mini Creations

Friday, 14 March 2014

Who is Dorothy Whiskers?

Dorothy Whiskers is a little cat with BIG ideas!

Dorothy lives at Woodland Corner on the edge of a small town. She has several brothers and sisters and loves school. She enjoys making things, exploring and going on adventures. And just like her friends, Dorothy often wonders about about the world and often asks a lot of questions!

Join Dorothy on her adventures, as she makes new discoveries and learns about the world around her. There is lots to see and do on the way!