Monday, 20 July 2015

Round The Corner Not Far Away...Mumsnet Hackney meets Bing Creator Ted Dewan

This isn’t the first time that Mumsnet Hackney has had the pleasure of blogging about the light-hearted, charming CBeebies TV series ‘The Adventures of Bing’. Why the repetition of subject matter? Well this weekend we received a very special invite to attend Toddler Time at Hackney Picture House as they were due to be joined by an important guest, none other than writer and creator of Bing, Ted Dewan. 

We’ve often wondered how exactly Bing bunny came about. Quite honestly we’d always thought there was a crack team of child psychologists behind this gentle story following Bing Bunny's endearing escapades with the occasional profound message thrown in for good measure. So to meet the softly spoken Ted who told us how Bing started as a book series, published in 2003, that he wrote for his daughter, who’s now 16, we felt a little embarrassed we hadn’t done our homework.

We then took our seats to hear Ted read one of the books aloud to entranced audience before tackling some tough and pressing questions: first and foremost, what is Flop? The answer is believe it or not, he’s well, a Flop. Nothing more and bearing no resemblance to any particular animal and the only entity Ted likened him to, was an upside down exclamation mark. However, appearance aside who is Bing’s patient petite guardian who never loses his temper and has sage-like knowledge when it comes to solving preschooler conundrums? Despite his parent-like manner he is never referred to as Daddy. Ted explained that Flop is essentially like Bing’s daemon, a conscience personified if you will, a captivating little detail that makes us even fonder of our favourite little bunny.  

The tail lights of a Valient that inspired Bing's ears
We were then given a quick lesson in how to draw Bing. We were delighted to hear how Bing’s ears are based on the tail lights of a Valient, a vintage car once owned by Ted and once you’ve drawn these the rest of his image falls beautifully into place (we should know as we have been robotically practising these on the insistence of our kids ever since). After then watching 4 back-to-back episodes of Bing, with our youngest screaming ‘another Bing, yaaaaaay’ wildly in between each episode, we took a moment to catch up with Ted afterwards as we still had another pressing question. Having noticed one of the original book’s titles is ‘Something for Daddy’ we wanted to know why no parents appear in the TV show. Ted told us how, actually thinking about it, toddlers rule the world, so having parents would have seemed too big and controlling in comparison. So it was agreed that in the TV show, which Ted worked on with Montessori advisors, parents would not be making an appearance.  

Ted also had an incredible selection of homemade Bing characters and on hearing Mumsnet told us about a heartbreaking talk thread about the disgraceful theft of a homemade Bing bunny (here for your reference and some of the language in response is rather colourful, although perfectly justified in our book). Ted assured us that this tale had a happy ending as they managed to  supply one of the new Bing bunny toys to the little boy who tragically had his stolen. 

However, the most important point that we feel must be shared was one particular message imparted by Ted, how that it’s easy to forget when you’re in the midst of parenting preschoolers, perhaps you’ve failed to negotiate the supermarket or perhaps you day started at 4.37am but these things aside - there is only word to describe these early years with your children - golden.

Toddler Time is a brilliant event that takes place at Hackney Picture House every Tuesday and Saturday and is just £3 per child and adults go free (how refreshing)

Mumsnet Hackney received a complimentary ticket to this event in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Ladies & Gentlemen, Engines & Excavators May We Present A Review Of 'Thomas & Friends: Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure'

So what could make writing a review about a 'Thomas & Friends' Film a tough gig? Well for one, this particular invite was one I had to keep top secret from my two sons until the very last moment, like the time we didn't tell eldest it was his birthday until the day arrived. Because of the terrifying impatience & eye-watering excitement that would have consumed both boys, removing any motivation to go to sleep or function on any normal level whatsoever. I considered it my moral duty to avoid any sobs over the fullness of time leading up the event, to keep this trip firmly under wraps.

I was quite successful. It wasn't until leading them into Leicester Square and them hearing a rousing rendition of the 'Thomas & Friends' theme tune that erupted from the mezzanine of the Odeon cinema, courtesy of the Royal Philharmonic orchestra no less, that they suddenly realised we weren't here just to look at a fountain (I know, no originality demonstrated on my part whatsoever)

As we walked into cinema, my children were already quite satisfied just to view the 9ft model of Thomas positioned outside. I tore them away to point out the Fat Controller greeting everyone at the door but then stopped myself. Was he still called the Fat Controller, or had he been re-branded into something more, well PC: the non-specifically shaped Controller perhaps? Either way he was very friendly and after being swiftly armed with balloon model swords, by a friendly pirate, we took our seats for the film.

At the tender age of 35, I have clear memories of Thomas the Tank Engine back in the days of Ringo Starr as the narrator, over gentle stop-frame animation, based on the book series written by the Reverend Wilbert Awdry, which he wrote for his son, over 70 years ago. Subsequently I have always been somewhat dubious of it's CGI makeover since it's rebranding to 'Thomas & Friends'. However, on the big screen this did not disappoint and didn't feel fake or 'Hollywood' unlike Postman Pat's escapades with a TV Talent Show, on his trip to the box office last year.  The 60-minute trip to Sodor Island sawThomas and his friends embark on a spectacular adventure scouring Sodor for lost treasure with the 'help' of a devious Pirate and a few catchy musical numbers thrown in for good measure, which were an utter delight.  

The cast included some new characters with voices of Oscar winning actor Eddie Redmayne, Sir John Hurt and Jamie Campbell Bower. Whilst Thomas once again didn't fail to disappoint, the star of the show was easily Olivia Coleman as Marion the Digger with her brilliant catch phrase of 'guess what's in my bucket’. Although the best piece of information that I can share with you were my son’s words, just a few minutes into the beginning of the film, when he leaned in towards me and whispered ‘mummy, it’s just sooooooo good’. There you have it. Trains and pirates, what's not to like. 

'Thomas & Friends: Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure' will air across cinemas in the UK from the 17th July until 1st August. For full listings visit click HERE. You can also watch the new Thomas & Friends movie, with music from the soundtrack performed live by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Cadogan Hall Wed 26th& Thurs 27th August. For tickets click HERE. Don't worry if you can't make it to the cinema any time soon as the DVD will be released on 28th September 2015.  

Mumsnet Hackney received a complimentary ticket to attend this event in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Why Wimbledon is a lesson in Hypnobirthing by local practitioner Katrina Berry

I love Wimbledon. The tradition and etiquette, the green and white, the strawberries and cream - it’s a true sign that summer has arrived. I’m not normally a big watcher of sports but the psychology involved with tennis fascinates me and I’m struck, year after year, by the similarities between Wimbledon and HypnoBirthing... Let me explain:

Choosing a positive approach
As a therapist the CBT approach I trained in is philosophically stoic, it is based around the fact that you cannot always affect what happens to you, but you have freedom in life to choose the attitude you take to the things that happen. An athlete can be supremely physically prepared, but if their mind is not right then they will not perform to the best of their ability. With HypnoBirthing we recognise that we always have a choice as to whether we think positively or negatively. We learn to think, talk and feel positively about birth, this leads to an increased chance of a positive birth experience.

Relaxed body
Alexis Castorri, a sports psychologist who has worked with both Lendl and Murray recently said:

‘The mind and body work together, so we devise a system that progressively relaxes and then sharpens the focus in preparation for competing.”

A relaxed body and focussed mind is exactly what a hypnobirthing mother develops. Whilst a lot of the “HypnoBirths” on youtube look like she’s sleeping, a birthing mother is focussing on her breathing, her visualisations, her affirmations, whatever helps her ride each surge whilst allowing the muscles to work in the way in which they’re designed.

Repetition, repetition, repetition
Sports psychologist Heaney says positive self-talk, either thoughts or spoken out loud, can aid recovery and performance by helping athletes develop a positive attitude towards recovery and rehabilitation; while athletes need to reduce their arousal levels through relaxation strategies and increase them through ‘psyching-up’ strategies. These, Heaney says, can include controlled breathing techniques, progressive muscle relaxation, vigorous activity or listening to upbeat music.
Sound familiar? Of course it does - all of that’s HypnoBirthing!

Focus and minimise distractions

“When my mind’s clear, I can go on the court and play, not worry about anything else,” Andy Murray has said.

Every player talks about focussing only on themselves, not their opponent. They’re able to block out the crowd when serving for the big points.

A birthing mother naturally tunes out the world around her during an undisturbed birth. Hypnobirthing teaches how to focus your attention and block out distractions. Preparing with your birthing partner means they can act as a buffer between a mother and the outside world, dealing with any questions, providing and protecting your safe space.

Anchoring the positive
The most common anchor you’ll see on court is the fist pump. After every point won a point a player will pump their fist, feeling the moment and anchoring the positive into the body. In our Hypnobirthing classes we discuss anchoring feelings of calmness, control and safety into all of
your senses. It might be visual, auditory or kinaesthetic - your partners touch, be that holding your hand, placing a comforting hand on your shoulder or back or stroking you gently. This becomes an unconscious trigger to help a birthing mother focus and let go.

Staying in the moment
A tennis player plays the game point by point, never dwelling on what went before and not thinking too far into the future. Similarly a birthing mother will find it most helpful to focus on one surge at a time. It’s only with hindsight that we’ll know where we are with birth, here’s a great article shared by one of “my” mums recently about taking birth a wave at a time.

Feeding off the crowd / coaches confidence
Players will often look to their team in the players box for encouragement. The energy from the crowd can focus a player to believe in themselves. Similarly the calm confidence emanating from a mindful birthing partner helps a mother focus and believe in herself. One of the most common things I hear is “I couldn’t have done it without him”. HypnoBirthing teaches a partner how best to support a birthing mother and they have an integral role in helping their baby come into the world safely and calmly.

Battling yourself
There can come a point in a match when commentators will talk about a player “battling themselves”. We’ve all done it, got caught up in our self talk (which is more often than not negative and unhelpful), and not performed as well as we’d like. Grounding ourselves in the moment with the breath and using affirmations means we can refocus, bring our nervous system back to balance and make calm, informed decisions if needed.

Primal screams
Yes sometimes the ladies singles matches sound rather rude, and there’s always grunts and groans coming from the men. Similarly a birthing mother can turn to her primal self and the sounds that accompany that. Some are quiet like cats, others roar like tigers. Both are good. The important thing is that a woman feels uninhibited enough to do as she feels.

Defying all the rules

Every year there’s at least one shock in the first week of Wimbledon. An unseeded player will knock out a seed, maybe even one of the top four will be knocked out!

Similarly every Hypnobirthing teacher will have innumerable stories of women whose baby’s birth defies expectations. Two hour labours... a first time mother going from 4 cms to birth in an hour, unassisted births and maybe the most common occurrence I experience and yet is still surprising to a lot of people - first time parents being calm and confident at the birth of their baby; imagine that!!!!

There you go, watch Wimbledon for a lesson in HypnoBirthing... Anyone for strawberries??
Katrina teaches Hypnobirthing in Hackney & across London. Her new book “Why Hypnobirthing Matters”, published by Pinter & Martin is out now.

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