About Me

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Author.

Interests: parenting, writing, art and design, travel, different cultures.

Likes: reading, cinema, coffee and cake, aerobics, animals, weekends with friends.
Dislikes: discrimination, coin operated trolleys, voice recognition (I'm a Scot...enough said)

Friday, 28 February 2014

Is Barbie bad?

I read an article on huffpost.com recently entitled "R.I.P Barbie...", detailing the reasons for the decline in sales of the popular doll, which has been around since 1959. I read with interest the different viewpoints over the controversial toy, but having grown up with Barbies, owned a Barbie house, cars, horses etc, I honestly don't see much harm in young girls playing with them. I don't remember ever obsessing over growing up with the aim of reaching the glamorous blonde's unrealistic proportions. I also didn't think of her as some kind of WAG, a blonde bimbo with the sole ambition to marry a rich man. Surely Barbie was, and remains, a toy to inspire the imagination. Barbie can be whoever the child wants her to be, and behave in whatever way the child decides. The article can be found here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/13/barbie-sales-drop_n_4756734.html

Barbie's manufacturer Mattel have done their best to please parents, and try to keep up with trends. Over the years she's had many adventures and careers, including being an Olympic gymnast in the 90's, an astronaut in the 60's, as well as the more "girly" versions of ballerina, fairy and princess. Try and imagine how many different outfits she must have had over the years...it reminds me of the comical Ken in Toy Story 3, and how he loved to show off his very varied wardrobe. Ken always seemed to be more of a girls' toy, and although he never reached the same dizzy heights of fame as his girlfriend, there's never been any controversy made over him. I found a funny interview with Ken where he describes a typical day in his life. The interviewer suggests, much to Ken's annoyance, that he's really just an accessory for Barbie. Barbie always takes centre stage, and so I don't think it can be argued that she is dependent on her man, I see her as pretty independent. Watch the interview "Groovin' with Ken" here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tkg2ptFFTD4

Mattel introduced African-American and Hispanic barbies in 1980, and her vital statistics were made more realistic in the 90's. These were wise moves by the company, and I think it's a good idea to represent that all people are different, and enable them to play with dolls which are more like themselves should they wish to.

However, Mattel hasn't always got it right. There have been some terrible ideas from the Barbie camp. I found a great article summing up some of the biggest errors of judgement. There were rumours of a teen pregnancy Barbie which would be an awful idea, but the real one was pregnant Midge, a Barbie with a baby doll which could be removed from its belly. I'm pretty sure that's not one I would want to buy a young girl.



The worst idea I read about was Growing Up Skipper, Barbie's little sister gained an inch in height and, wait for it...grew breasts, when you turned her arm. Thankfully, the doll was pulled from the shelves quicker than you can say training bra.








I was pleased to read there was Becky, Barbie's friend who was wheelchair bound. Unfortunately, she wouldn't consider "Dreamhouse" an accurate description upon visiting her friend, since the toy would not fit in, and there was no ramp for her to use. I'm not sure if Mattel have rectified this issue, I hope they have.


Read about the "10 Strangest Barbies", some of which are hard to believe, here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tkg2ptFFTD4



More recently, Mattel have caused debate over a new range of dolls called Monster High. The dolls are particularly controversial in Russia, where a Russian parents group have even gone so far as to say they are " a threat to national security". The dolls are goth style, and I'm not overly keen on them myself, but surely this is an over-reaction. I don't accept that they "could give Russian children ideas about suicide". The dolls are very pretty, and not at all frightening. I don't see how they could be seen as dangerous to such an extent. There is also a spin-off cartoon series which is very popular, Russia are also trying to get that banned. What are your views on Monster High Dolls? Would you buy one for your child or do you think they are a potentially dangerous influence on young children? The BBC article can be found here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-26017539

I am raising my two nieces, and am perfectly happy to let them play with Barbie dolls, or any similar type of doll. I don't think I would buy a Monster High doll, but I would not ban them from the house either. Girls can admire these pretty toys, but in my opinion, that does not equate to a desperation to become a supermodel as they grow into young women. What are your views on Barbie? Has her time been and gone? I'd love to read your views.


Tuesday, 18 February 2014

A Wild night in Glasgow

I've written before about how "pure dead brilliant" my home town of Glasgow is. There is now another reason for that, in the shape of the brand new club Wild Cabaret.







I was lucky enough to be invited along to the pre-opening night of the new Merchant city venue, which will officially open this Saturday, the 22nd of February. I'll admit I was a little apprehensive as to what exactly an evening in a place called the Wild Cabaret would involve. However, I was pleasantly surprised, my husband and I had the best night out we've had in a while.

Arriving at the club, we were welcomed by two very glamorous show girls adorned with feathers and sequins, and then shown through to the Wicked Lounge. The Lounge is very classy, the colour scheme is black and gold, and you could happily sit and chat with friends for a good few hours. We were entertained by violinists playing modern music such as "Get Lucky" by Daft Punk/Pharell Williams and "When I Ruled the World" by Coldplay. I enjoyed trying to figure out the music they were playing.  The showgirls gracefully danced alongside the musicians, and it started to feel as though we were no longer in cold wintery Glasgow, but had somehow been transported to Vegas.


We were served champagne and canapes, and the highly entertaining Ryan Davidson, AKA The Mentalist, performed card tricks at the tables before we watched him in the cabaret show later on. Ryan is clearly a very skilled magician, as normally my husband delights in telling me how tricks are done, but he didn't have a clue on this occasion. In fact, he claims he'd had too much to drink...two glasses of champagne, somehow I don't believe him.



After enjoying our time in the Lounge, we were called through to the large dining area where we watched the Cabaret as we ate. The service was a bit slow, as to be expected with a new restaurant, but the staff were all excellent, and I'm sure any teething problems will be resolved very quickly. I chose the smoked mackerel to start, steak with pepper sauce, followed by cranachan with a berry sauce. The food was very good, especially accompanied by the large variety of cocktails on offer from the skilled bartenders. I ventured to try a French Martini, a change from my usual Cosmopolitan, and I'd recommend it.







The cabaret was very entertaining, a good mixture of different acts. The hostess Frances Thorburn, had a terrific voice, and her enthusiasm in introducing the other acts was infectious. There were comedy sketches and comedian Janey Godley, Ryan the magician, various dance acts, and the finale was the highly talented Soul Nation Choir, who got people up on their feet dancing at the end of a great night.



The entertainment was excellent, but for me, there were two things that really stuck out. Firstly, having reminisced over my own dancing days (lessons) watching the girls doing the can-can, it was a rare treat to then see men in kilts also perform the famous French dance. I found it hilarious, and their frilly knickers really added to the performance! Trust me, it's a must-see. Secondly, having enjoyed Ryan's (The Mentalist) act, it was a pure delight to watch one of his tricks unfold to become an extremely romantic proposal from one of his "victims" onstage, to his girlfriend in the audience. Thankfully she said yes, and it was a privilege to have been witness to such an important part in the young couple's life.

In summary, if you're looking for a classy night out in Glasgow, somewhere you can get glammed up and enjoy something a bit different, Wild Cabaret is the place to go. I will certainly be back, and look forward to seeing what other talented acts will be added. Take a look at the YouTube video to give you a taste of what it's like:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gWqTam2rIM




Sunday, 2 February 2014

Roses are red...

February is finally here, hooray! Like most people, I have found it an exceptionally long, dreary month. I'm also feeling very sorry for myself, since, as is so often the case, my husband's away on  business...so the kids are ill. This time, it's been one after the other, I'm now starting week two of being housebound. I've decided to cheer myself up by thinking of all the romantic Valetine's treats my husband will be planning for me while he's away...some chance!

Thankfully, he does not read The Daily Mail. I noticed a tweet with the alarming news that apparently 78% of women want Botox for Valentine's Day! Maybe it's just me, but if I were to receive such an offer, I'm pretty sure February 14th would turn out to be seriously UNromantic. Granted, it's certainly more original than flowers and chocolate, but not in a good way. The article can be found here, would you be pleased with the gift of Botox?

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2548702/Flowers-chocolate-No-thanks-78-women-want-BOTOX-Valentines-Day.html

The Valentine card itself is an essential in my view. I don't like too much soppiness, but it's always nice to feel special and loved. I've never had someone write a poem especially for me, I like this one which was on Groupon's Facebook page (starting to think I should be earning commission from those guys).












I can appreciate funny Valentine's cards too, and some of these Valentine's puns put a smile on my face. Maybe humour is more your style, do you like these ideas?

http://mashable.com/2014/02/02/valentines-puns/


I remember my sister and I growing up receiving Valentines from our dad. Of course we didn't figure out they were from him for quite a few years. I can see why he did it; as we later discovered, it's pretty miserable not to receive any, so he saved us any hurt feelings and boosted our confidence. I may well carry on the tradition with my own kids, but at what age do kids start bothering about Valentines? Will I be able to fool my little detectives? Do you send cards to your children and what have been your experiences so far? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

What about a Valentine's date night? Do you and your significant other like to stick to February 14th, surrounded by countless other loved up couples, or do you wait for the nearest weekend? In our case, it's pretty much dependent on baby sitting availability, but I'm not a huge fan of going out on the actual 14th.

Usually it's a nice Romantic meal, predictable but lovely nonetheless. I love my kids to bits, but there's no denying how special a child-free meal once in a while can be! I'd like to plan something a bit more unusual for once, and thought I had the answer...Itison have a deal for a drive-in movie night overlooking Edinburgh airport. The films being shown are Top Gun and The Notebook. I remember watching American TV and films as a teenager and thinking drive-in movies looked so much fun, a perfect romantic night out. However, in a Scottish setting...not so much. Huddled up under a travel rug whilst peering through the swish of the windscreen wipers you would almost certainly be required to use, does not have the same appeal. I know there have been previous drive-in nights in Glasgow and other Scottish venues, if you have been to one, I'd love to read your feedback. Maybe I've got it all wrong and could grab some last minute tickets. The link to the offer can be found here:

https://www.itison.com/Edinburgh/deals/valentines-drive-in-movies

Novelty gifts are always fun. I came across this Rolo pendant and earrings on The Spotted Zebra Co. website. Everyone (or nearly everyone) remembers "do you love someone enough to give them your last Rolo?", so this would make perfect jewellery for Valentines. The link can be found here:








They say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, and so I think I've found the ideal gift for my husband. Made by The Box Bakery, who I follow on Twitter (@theboxbakery), this cake says it all:




















Any special plans for Valentines day? I wish everyone a romantic February 14th, it's nice to feel truly Twitterpated once in a while.