Sunday 12 January 2014

Fire and Ice in Canary Wharf this weekend.

Looks like a beautiful day today so grab your coat (-and hat and gloves-) and get down to the London Ice Scultpting Festival at Canary Wharf for something a little bit magical that you won't see every day. (Nearest tube Canary Wharf.)

Witnessing a person with a chainsaw and a pick axe attack a gigantic block of ice, in the creative act of producing an object of beauty before your very eyes, simply does something for the soul. The precision and detail, sometimes with seemingly gravity-defying, intentional lop-sidedness arouses a sense of wonder in one who watches too much television and is normally stuck in the muddy mundaneness of life. We were there all afternoon and into the evening and I don't think I checked my phone once. Today is the final day so you will see the finished, competing, international entries.

Food? Yes, a wide array of cuisines including curried goat, hot chorizo sandwiches, Thai curries, Ethiopian stews and lots of vegetarian options in between, not to mention French patisserie.

Other Stuff? Yes, FlameOz fire show, a fun 15 minute show which does what it says on the tin.
Suitable for children? Yes. I took my 11 year old who loved it and saw lots of littler ones not looking miserable too.

Facilities? The cleanest, poshest portaloos I have ever visited in my life.

Free? Yes

Fab? Yes, again.

Tube? Canary Wharf. Check which lines are operating before you go. I had to take Bakerloo from South Kenton instead of normal Jubilee from Stanmore but it was worth it.

Wednesday 8 January 2014

Mummy on the edge - FamilesNW London Mag Jan/Feb 2014

Jan Feb 2014
Angelina Melwani can't tell her app from her elbow.

For about a year, Mini-Me had been nagging to allow her to download a game on her tablet called Minecraft. Now, I'm not really a point blank kind of person. I tend to listen and look at things from the plaintiff's point of view and then offer reasons for my verdict, whether it's a “No” or a “Yes!” and especially when it's a “Maybe”. However in this case, my answer was always point blank “No”. It only recently became “Yes”, after I allowed Mini-Me to explain what Minecraft is. That is: a game based on building things out of blocks in a virtual world, a bit like online Lego or something (-yawn...) I realised that I had got Minecraft confused with World of Warcraft. I remembered once reading an article about how horrendously violent World of Warcraft was.

Now, doubting myself whilst writing this column (-it happens frequently,) I have just “asked the google” (as my parents refer to this procedure) about the suitability of World of Warcraft for kids and the google said that the minimum age to play it is 13. In light of this discovery, I must admit that it is entirely possible that I got World of Warcraft in turn, mixed up with Tour of Duty which is about war and is violent. Isn't it?? Okay, I just asked the google (because I couldn't help myself) who said Tour of Duty is a TV programme and Call of Duty is a game. I cannot spend any more time asking the google about these things because it will NEVER END. When I compile an anthology of all these columns one day, it will probably be called “Six degrees of confusion” because that is what it's like in this head but you need to double it because there's actually currently12 and it increases exponentially as Mini-Me gets older.

I know little about this weird, social media world that my child is growing up in. Worse, I actually thought I was fairly aware, being that I have a Sing and Sign page on Facebook and two weeks ago even created a Sing and Sign account on Twitter (@AngeSingandSign). At risk of sounding like Bridget Jones I currently have 56 followers on that and about 15 on @appleina (come and play with me!) I'm really good with Excel and Word and Publisher and Powerpoint, so Mini-Me always thought I was some kind of omniscient genius when it came to computers and I didn't try to counter this belief because I enjoy inspiring awe in my kid (even misplaced awe – it's still awe and clearly, it won't last...)

But now, with she at nearly 12 and me at (...mumbles incomprehensibly into coffee...) we are reaching a tipping point where she is overtaking me. It was inevitable. I know I need to stay on top of what's going on and be aware and in the know. It says so on the NSPCC Online Safety page that I saw on Twitter. However, although Mini-Me wants to sit and show me how Minecraft works, (“It's so wonderful; it really encourages my creativity! I'm mining for iron ore! I'm making wool for curtains from sheep!”) I keep putting it off because it sounds r-e-a-l-l-y … b-o-r-i-n-g (- sorry darling, I know you are reading this).

Now she wants instagram. Nope. Why? “Because I don't want you putting up pictures of yourself or me or the reconstituted leftovers I fixed for dinner last night.” And also snapchat. Nope. Why? “Because of a dizzying myriad of possible horrifications that could result.” Many of her friends have these apps on their gadget phones. But I don't care. I am smugly glad that she has a basic phone and am trying to stretch its use out for another year by which time I will be fully conversant in Minecraft, instagram and snapchat and related virtual activities, having created Sing and Sign accounts on all of them.

Y'know, I am a glass-half-full typa' person and there is an up side to this growing tech-saviness. Because now, when my mum phones to tell me she has lost all her emails (you haven't!), can't find the facebook shortcut on her tablet (it's THERE!) or wants to listen to obscure French radio but nothing is working (dunno!) I can pass her over to The New Tech Guy aka Mini-Me and if she doesn't know what to do, she can perfectly well ask the google!

More from the edge at Tweet @appleina.

Angelina runs Sing and Sign award-winning baby signing classes in Harrow, Bushey and Rickmansworth. You can also follow @AngeSingandSign on Twitter