Transfer Deadline Day

It's football's Transfer Deadline Day, arguably one of my favourite days of the year, the day when football teams across Europe must register their players if they are to represent them until the next window (June '17).

You probably already know that I support Shrewsbury Town and Arsenal and traditionally there hasn't been too much activity on TDD, but you never know.

During this transfer window, Shrewsbury have been quite active by permanently signing Toto Nsiala, Alex Rodman and , whilst also bringing in Freddie Lapado (Crystal Palace), Tyler Roberts (West Bromwich Albion), Stephen Humphrys (Fulham) and Stefan Payne (Barnsley). Nsiala, Rodman and Lapado have impressed me so far, Toto has looked assured at the back adding height and pace to our backline, Rodman appears to be a hard working direct winger and Lapado has got two goals in three games, leading the line extremely well in the games I've seen. I've only seen Roberts play once and I thought he was on the peripheries of the match, but he's young so I'm hopeful that he'll be a good signing. Paul Hurst implied after the last match that there could be another 2 or 3 signings (this was before Humphrys and Payne joined) so there could be some final incoming activity today. I think there are also a number of players that could be on their way out of the club, either youngsters on loan or some of the signings where it just hasn't worked out well for them.

Arsenal on the other hand have been quiet as usual, Arsene Wenger tends to keeps his cards to chest and hasn't really given the fans much to get excited about. The only signing to date is Cohen Brammel, a young left back from Hendesford Town. I'm really hopeful the transfer works for him as he's gone from playing part-time and working at the Bentley factory to being full-time at one of the biggest clubs in the world. There's also a connection to Shrewsbury Town because he was en route for discussions before getting a trial at Arsenal!

Thinking about what each team needs, they both probably could do with some defensive cover. At times, Shrewsbury have looked particularly fragile in the first half of the season, Nsiala has helped address this but I'd question the strength in depth of the squad. Again, with Arsenal, I wonder if Shkodran Mustafi or Laurent Koscielny picked up a significant injury whether the squad could cope.

In honesty, I hope other teams don't strengthen their squads today, but let me know in the comments below what players you'd like to bring in to your squad today!

The Last Week (23/01/2017)

Monday - As per normal, I managed to spend all of 10 minutes with my son before heading out to play football. Thankfully he was in a happy mood, and had spent the afternoon hiding under a blanket from everyone. We had a rarity at football as we managed to get 5 vs 5! I find these games the toughest, because I'm not particularly fit and don't have either pace or stamina so it's difficult to find space. I was content with how I played, I got a goal (and arguably a second) and my passing, defending and goalkeeping were all sound, but I would have liked to get a couple more goals. Unfortunately I seemed to lose my composure when I had my best chances. Upon returning home, I put my son to bed before watching a number of YouTube videos with Nikki. During the night, my son started to cry, when I went through to him his head was hanging over the foot of his bed. He'd managed to spin himself round and half crawled out of bed, but he soon settled back down thankfully.

Tuesday - Another cold and frosty morning as I waited for the train, coupled with the aches generated by playing football, my joints were aching but I soldiered on.  Walking up from the train station to my office, I could really feel how tight my calfs were (I may have to bite the bullet and start warming up/down). Me and Nikki went to pickup our little boy from nursery in the evening and I was shocked to see that Nikki had cut his hair, it looks really good, but he looks so grown up now. His bedtime routine went well and I was soon down stairs watching 'Death In Paradise' with Nikki.

Wednesday - A quiet night in, followed an average day at work. As Nikki hadn't been well this week, I was able to meet her with our son at her parents from the office. After we got home and put our son to bed we continued to watch 'Death In Paradise' before retiring for the night.

Thursday - I planned a days leave, which turned out to be great foresight as my little boy didn't have the best night sleeping, waking regularly in the early hours before finally settling alongside me in bed. He woke up fully at about 06:15, far earlier than I anticipated for a day off - however, it was nice how he tried to wake me by giving me a kiss and lying with his face right up against mine waiting for me to open my eyes. After getting up, we took a family trip out to a nearby McDonalds for breakfast with my dad.  You know what you're getting with a Maccies breakfast, but my son had a great time as he was the only child in the Happy Meal Playzone. When we got home and my son had a nap, we watched some more 'Death In Paradise'. Almost as soon as he was awake, I scooped him up and took him to nursery.  Whilst he was there I took a trip to Telford to grab a few bits. This was perhaps a mistake in hindsight, as I got a bit depressed but this is a long running thing for me shopping so I'll probably cover this more generally on a separate post. On the way home, I called at Tesco and grabbed some food and a couple of Lego Batman Series 1 mini figures, such was my luck I ended up with two of the same mini figures! The one below, it wasn't even one that I particularly wanted. When I got back, we played on Horde on Gears Of War 4, but got nowhere near my resolution of completing wave 50.  We collected our son from nursery before heading home, giving him tea and settling down with some more 'Death in Paradise' before heading to bed for an early night.

Friday - I didn't feel great and this meant I didn't have a hugely productive day in the office. The evening saw me spend some time with Nikki and my son, and after he went to bed, we continued to watch an episode of 'Death In Paradise' and some YouTube videos while we prepared our blog posts before heading to bed.

Saturday - We got up early because my son woke at 06:00 and had no plans of going back to sleep, no worries we thought he'll get the sleep he needs at nap time. Nap time came and he would not sleep or even rest, so we decided to go for a walk around Attingham Park thinking the fresh air would knock him out. Wrong again. We walked along the river Tern and he pointed out all the ducks (geese) and dogs that walked passed, when the path left the river he was shouting "where are you quack-quack?" constantly, until I asked him to find a dog. When we got to the entrance to the play field, he shouted "where are you reindeer?" as they had a wooden statue located there over Christmas. We had planned to have lunch at the estate, but they didn't have much that appealed to us, so we went for an all-day breakfast at the Tesco Café. On the short journey home, my son finally started to nap, and we were able to get him in to our house and not disturb him in doing so and, boy, did he sleep. Two and a half hours. This was a mistake, we soon realised. As he awoke we went to visit my parents and have a Chinese banquet to see in the Chinese New Year (新年快乐) then back to ours for a bedtime routine, after which we continued to watch 'Death In Paradise' and I caught up on the goals from the FA Cup fourth round.

Sunday - Regrettably, our day started early again... too early. Our son awoke at 01:30 and wouldn't even tolerate the thought of going back to sleep. Although he wasn't overly disruptive, we had to keep an eye on him and this stopped us from going back to sleep. At 04:00 I decided to go downstairs and watch some TV, although I ended up sorting out some pictures on my phone. Shortly after I finished, my partner came to join me with our son having come to the conclusion that he was going to stay awake and I could go back to bed for some rest. As I settled down, both joined me once more as our son was ready to go back to sleep, this meant I finally got back to sleep at about 06:00. We woke up properly and intentionally at 09:00 and then grabbed some breakfast. Again, our little boy wasn't ready to nap as we watched TV and we soon headed round to Nikki's parents for a roast lunch. We spent the afternoon watching Sutton United Vs Leeds United in the FA Cup and 'The Borrowers' (1997) - not my favourite film by a long way! The evening consisted of the usual bedtime routine and finishing series 3 of 'Death In Paradise'.

Free App Of The Week (Apple) - WaterMinder

Apple are offering 'WaterMinder' by Funn Media as their Free App of the week. This is a simple app that records your liquid intake and reminds you via notification to rehydrate yourself.

At the time of downloading the app, I already have 3 apps that I can use to keep a note of how much liquid I've consumed.  I say "can use" because I've not really bought into that side of health and fitness, only tracking exercise, calorie consumption and weight. I was hoping that 'WaterMinder' would be the app that bucks the trend and helps me stay hydrated.
I've found that 'WaterMinder' is a bit of a two sided coin, the integration with other health apps and Health on the iPhone is good, the dashboard and input screens are easy to use. As you input additional drinks, your avatar fills with water and is sloshes about if you tilt your phone, a bit like the Carling app that lets you drink a virtual pint. The app also has a section for you to read up on how to improve your hydration and I like the idea of badges that you can earn from meeting targets by drinking on consecutive days, weeks, etc.

Unfortunately there are a couple of things in 'WaterMinder' that bugged me. It is missing a social aspect, there is a share to social media icon, but I would expect there to be a possible competitive element to the app, something that I think could be easily rectified. Also, there seemed to be a number of settings that I needed to change to be setup in the uk. An early question about your location could have removed this frustration for me. The final point is more about the apps place in the market. Yes, it's polished, the interaction is solid and it's easy to use, but there are a number of apps that will monitor your liquid intake and do much more by tracking a number of other measurements.

That being said, 'WaterMinder' has made me input my liquid consumption since I downloaded it, something other apps haven't been able to do, but am I going to keep it on my phone... Probably not. I don't think there is enough to it to justify using it over other established apps on my phone, which is a shame.

'WaterMinder' by Funn Media - 3/5

Five Favourite Friday... School Subjects

It's my turn to select our Five Favourite Friday topic, and I picked School Subjects.  My time in school was probably the time I enjoyed most on this planet so far, I knew lots of people that I got on well with, holidays were longer and the days were shorter! I don't think there were any subjects that I didn't enjoy (perhaps PE), but some were more memorable than others.
1) Maths - Probably the subject I enjoyed most at school, mainly because Maths seemed natural and it made sense to me. I feel very fortunate that I understood a subject with such ease.  It's a subject that has helped me in my career because I've been able to utilise some of the skills that I developed through the lessons. One regret I might of had is not being able to carry on with my education in Maths with the same passion once I left school.

2) Design Technology (DT) - I think I enjoyed DT as it was a productive subject, at the end of a project, you would have something to show for your efforts and something to take home.  Some of my favourite things that I made included a plastic Formula 1 key fob, a wooden wave machine and a statue of Wallace (of Aardman fame) collecting an Academy Award.

3) Food Technology - A bit like DT, I enjoyed Food technology as it was a subject where I would take home something from the lesson and usually it meant I had cooked tea.  two memories stand out for me, making a chicken pie with a potato lid and another pupil cooking a pre-made pizza on too high a heat for too long and leaving the plastic tray underneath it.

4) Media Studies - Other than Maths, Media Studies has probably had the biggest influence on how I look at life.  Media Studies taught me various techniques that are used in the production of films and it's something I still take pleasure in.  The lessons also opened me up to a range of films that I wouldn't have considered watching before

5) History - Perhaps not because of the subject matter, but I really enjoyed my History lessons at secondary school because of the teacher.  He would regularly go off topic, telling us about personal stories from his past, but this made the lessons memorable.  His son was also in the same class as me, and we found it amusing when cringe worthy stories came up, as we knew his son would be embarrassed.  When studying WW2, we watched the last episode of Blackadder Goes Fourth which has stayed with me, so he definitely left a mark with me.

There we go, that's my five favourite school subjects.  As I said at the start, any number could have been included, but these are the ones that I remember most fondly.  As always you can see what my partner, Nikki, has chosen for her favourites on her blog. She has picked Alcohol for next weeks topic, which will be fun!

Free App of the Week (Apple) - Angry Birds Space

Apple are offering 'Angry Birds Space' by Rovio as their Free App of the week. 'Angry Birds Space' is the fifth instalment of the slingshot based puzzle games, set in space you are invited to try to remove the bad piggies who have stolen the birds eggs.

In the event that you've not come across any of the other Angry Birds games (which happens to be the biggest freemium game of all time) you are given a slingshot and a variety of birds to act as ammunition, each with their own special abilities. Your task is to get the right angle and power to destroy the bad piggies, sometimes smashing makeshift structures to help you with your endeavours. 'Angry Birds Space' adds the element of gravity to previous games, which means that you'll need to factor in curvature in your shots.

Since I initially downloaded the game back in 2012, I think Rovio have added a number of support birds that can be bought in-game. I'm always dubious of using in-app purchases, as I enjoy getting good value for money. Some of the birds do have good abilities, such as creating their own gravity field to catch the enemy pigs so I'll use the free initial allowance sparingly. In my brief time playing 'Angry Birds Space', I haven't found a way of linking an account across my iPhone and iPad which is a shame as I'd like to be able to make the most of my progress no matter what device I'm using.

I know that the game is very similar to its predecessors, but I do enjoy Angry Birds Space as it builds on what the original does well and is a worthy addition to the franchise. Some of the other games feel like they have crowbarred franchises on to the basic game, but I do find myself drawn back to the earlier games. I always consider if my little boy would enjoy the Free App Of The Week, and I think he will enjoy Angry Birds Space, but he may need another couple of months before he enjoys it.

'Angry Birds Space' by Rovio - 4/5

The Last Week (16/01/2017)

Monday - The day itself passed off without to much incident, but five-a-side didn't get off to the best start. My first involvement was to be nutmegged, then a few minutes later I couldn't get out of the way of the ball as someone cleared their lines and it smacked me on the side of the face, sending my glasses flying and one of the lenses popped out - all in the first 5 minutes or so. After locating a spare pair of glasses to allow me see again, I think I put in a decent performance, a few good goals (including an obligatory ricocheted shot off the wall) and some good interceptions and tackles, but I didn't move around enough, backed up by my Fitbit stats. When I finally got home, I put my little boy to bed and prepared a couple of blog post whilst he settled.

Tuesday - First task of the day was to repair my glasses, as I was too tired to do it on Monday. After my little boy had his dinner, we spent some time playing with his toys and running around the front room before he went to bed, Nikki then watch some beauty YouTube videos whilst i played on my phone.

Wednesday - Not much to report  from the day itself, nor the evening as we spent our together time catching up on YouTube videos. I did managed to grab about an hour on Gears Of War and got to around wave 40 on Horde before bailing to look after my little boy. Once our son was tucked up in bed, i set about helping Nikki with finishing some exam work for a qualification she's working towards.

Thursday - Not the best start to the day as our son woke at 04:00 crying and refused to go back to sleep. Although we finally got him settled it was 06:00 and we couldn't rest ourselves after this point. A confession, I did need a stimulant to get through the day, over 2 litres of cola consumed to give me a chance to make it to home time. When I got home, I sneaked another brief Horde session, but things weren't going my way and I had to prepare tea for the family so I finished on, around, wave 15. After watching some YouTube, we headed to bed where I caught the last half hour of 'Batman Vs Superman' (2016).  Glad I didn't pay to see it at the cinema as it wasn't what I expected (or wanted), but the cinematic shot looked great. I also found it difficult to follow as the volume of speech and environment sounds fluctuated wildly, so I was constantly adjusting my volume and trying not to wake any one else up.

Friday - Another early morning with my son waking at 06:00, but at least he settled back down relatively quickly before watching CBeebies. Some excitement as I got into work, I had grabbed a bacon butty for my breakfast and had jumped in the lift when someone else jumped in. I pressed the button to get to the right floor, but as we approached it, the lift came to a sudden holt and after a few seconds the doors remained closed. I'd often wondered what would happened if I got trapped in a lift, I now know! After a few minutes I mentioned to my fellow passenger that at least I had a bacon butty I could share if we were in there for some time.  He replied "I'm a vegetarian", feeling a bit sorry for him, I resisted tucking into my roll.  About five minutes later the lift fell slowly to the ground floor, we tried the button again and reach our desired floor, it was only on this final trip my colleague explained that the lift had broken down on him three out of the last four times he'd used it!  I prearranged to finish early and spend some time with my dad and son, on the return trip home, my little boy cried for most of the journey, and when we arrived home, he decided that a blue crayon looked tasty and ate the top half inch. Queue some frantic parenting to try and remove as much crayon from his mouth as possible. 

Saturday - The day started very early, as my son woke at 01:30 crying. We decided he should sleep with his mum in our bed, and I'd sleep on the floor of his room. I didn't get a good nights sleep and woke at 06:00, so i thought I'd make use of the extra time and watch a film. After a quick scan over the options on Netflix and Now TV, I decided to watch 'Captain America: Civil War' (2016). As it was finishing, Nikki and my son came downstairs and joined me. We had breakfast and then went shopping, before my son had his morning nap. Whilst he napped we continued to watch 'Death In Paradise'. In the afternoon I went to watch Shrewsbury Town take on Oldham Athletic. I've got to say it wasn't a classic match, with both sides lacking quality in the final third and, for Shrewsbury, in their own half because they gave the ball away a lot in dangerous positions in the first 20 minutes. Freddie Lapado scored his second goal in as many games to give Shrewsbury their second 1-0 victory of the week, which moved them out of the relegation places. In the evening we spent some time with Nikki's parents before heading home to put our son to bed and watch some more 'Death In Paradise'.

Sunday - A better night sleep all round with our son waking at 06:45 after a full night sleep and when we got downstairs a small snow shower was occurring, although it didn't last long. Again we watched 'Death In Paradise' when our son went for a nap. Unfortunately the nap didn't last very long so we headed out to do some shopping at a near by retail park. I decided that as our son had been so good recently, we'd go to a toy shop and get him a treat. After an hour of "looking" at things (and a nappy change that wasn't required) he finally decided on some toy ducks for his bath. We stopped for a McDonalds before heading home to watch 'Cars 2' (2011) and the second half of Arsenal Vs Burnley, which ended 2-1. We decided to have an early night because of the cold that we were all affected by, not that our little boy understood this, he struggled to stay asleep until we got to 21:30, then the settled for the night.

Five Favourite Friday... Children's Apps

Apparently it's Parents Week, this week, so Nikki has chosen Children's Apps for this weeks Five Favourite Friday topic. I've tried to restrict mine to those that have been categorised by Apple to be part of their Kids Under 5 section of the AppStore, and they are all appear on the Free charts, so that's always a good thing. On with my favourites:
1) 'YouTube Kids' by Google - This is an app that allows parents to control what their children watch on YouTube. I've only recently started using the app but there are a number of features that I love, including a timer to restrict how long your child watches videos, the ability to 'cast' to streaming devices and choosing an age range that's appropriate to your circumstances. Videos are grouped by Shows, Music and Learning, allowing children freedom to choose what they watch, I've turned search off to retain some control over what my son watches.

2) 'Busy Shapes' by Edoki Academy - This was the Free App Of The Week recently and my son loves playing on it. The aim of the game is to move tokens around the screen to holes, which allow you to progress to the next level. You can read my full review of the app here.

3) 'Hey Duggee: The Sandcastle Badge' by BBC Worldwide- This is an app from the CBeebies show, Hey Duggee, one of my favourite children's shows on at the moment. The game allows the player an opportunity to build a sandcastle, from filling the bucket, patting in the sand to turning it out and decorating it.
4) 'SketchBook MobileX' by Autodesk - The only app not to be one classified as a children's app on my list. We needed something to entertain our son whilst we were out and without a signal to download something more appropriate, so I gave him my iPad with SketchBook open and encouraged him to do some doodling. SketchBook is a typical drawing app, offering different virtual tools to draw whatever comes to mind. Although the advanced functions are fiddly, colour selection is easy for our son to choose one from the palette. I'm not sure if this app is still available, but other SketchBook apps are on the AppStore.
5) 'BBC CBeebies Playtime' by BBC Media Applications Technology - Back to the apps designed for children, this game consists of a compilation of games relating to various CBeebies shows and the characters within them. It's another app that my little man loves playing on and it can be really difficult getting the iPad off him when it's time to finish.

An honourable mention goes to the 'Toca Hair Salon' games, as my little boy really enjoys changing the clients hairstyles. As always, make sure you check out Nikki's favourite Children's App on her blog. Next week I've decided we'll look at our favourite Subjects At School.
Feel free to leave any suggestions in the comments below if you think there are any Apps that I need to look at or ideas for future topic for Five Favourite Friday.

The Last Week (09/01/2017)

Monday - Back to work, but I think I was ready to go back and get into a routine again. Thankfully, my work hadn't piled up too much whilst I was off. In hindsight I did make a mistake on Monday by going out for my lunch when I did, as the drizzle I left in turned into heavy rain and I didn't have a waterproof jacket with me, this left me soaking! There was a better end to the day as I finished earlier than normal so I could spend sometime with my little boy and look for my football boots for five-a-side (which I found just in time). I really enjoyed the game, I got amongst the goals and even saved a penalty, the only downsides were that I got clattered scoring my first goal and I ended up running in to a wall, leaving me a bit groggy. When I got home, I had chance to catch-up on the internet whilst my partner watched her YouTube channels.

Tuesday - Monday night was not a good night, coupled with aching after 3 weeks of not playing football, my little boy seemed to wake up on the hour every hour from midnight. Thankfully the day that followed didn't continue this theme. Although I had a bit of work I needed to complete when I got home, I was able to enjoy some time with my son. Bedtime was a bit of a chore, as for the first time our son kept getting out of bed and coming to hid bedroom door. He knew he was doing something wrong, as when I appeared he ran straight back to bed. This interrupted time with my partner as we watched YouTube together. In hindsight I also think it was a mistake for him to have some shortbread he made in nursery just before going to bed. As I lay in bed, settling down for the night I started watching 'Dawn French: 30 Million Minutes'. It's turning out to be a very interesting programme and not just the stand-up show I was expecting - it's more like a humorous monologue, than joke and after joke, it's great so far watch it if you get chance.

Wednesday - Apart from having to run for a train home, I didn't do a great deal on Wednesday evening, mainly down to my son deciding he's wasn't going to sleep. Nearly 2 hours after he went to bed, he finally fell asleep. When he finally started sleeping we watched the latest episode of 'Sherlock' (The Lying Detective), and what an episode it was! I'm a big fan of Toby Jones, so I was hopeful that it would be good, but it was fantastic all round, except one questionable deduction about "One word".

Thursday - Not the start to the day I was wanting, upon arriving downstairs I found that our cat had been ill and I had to clear it up. A better start to the evening however as I loaded the dishwasher whilst cooking my sons tea, then I was able to start watching 'The Simpsons Movie' (2007). Our son still took some time to get to sleep, but it was nowhere near as painful as Wednesday, which allowed us to watch the final 'Jonathan Creek' episode and catch-up on a number of YouTube videos.

Friday - The first snow of the year fell, and its the first snow out son has encountered. On both accounts, it was a bit underwhelming. Barely a quarter of an inch of snow fell and our son barely noticed it all around him. I did capture a photo of his first footprint however for posterity. The evening saw us spending some time with my parents before heading home to watch some YouTube. When we went to bed I started to watch 'Batman Vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice' (2016) before falling asleep.

Saturday - An early start to the morning with my son stirring at 05:50, disturbing me and I wasn't able to get back to sleep. As the morning continued, we played with my sons puzzles and watched TV. The afternoon saw a return to Greenhous Meadow to see Shrewsbury take on Bradford City resulting in a 1-0 victory. It was an entertaining game and although Bradford had plenty of the ball and probably the majority of territory, Shrewsbury seemed to be keeping the opposition at arms length and hitting them on the break. We then spent the evening watching YouTube.


Sunday - We started the day by travelling to Telford to join in and celebrate the new year at a Disney Junior Party, I'm not sure if we went for our son or my partner! You can read all about the event here.  When it finished, we popped to the town centre to see what we were missing. Other than a bath bomb from Lush and some other home-ware from Primark, we left with nothing. I think we're both a bit uninspired when it comes to shopping. After having a Greggs for lunch we headed to a birthday party for the daughter of a friend of my partner. It was then time to head home (via my parents) to get our little boy to bed. Once settled, we sat down in readiness for the final episode of 'Sherlock'. - what an episode. I fear that this may be the last episode, I hope not, but what a way to end the present series. To settle down before bed, I watched the latest episode of 'QI XL'.

Disney Junior Party

It started a couple of weeks ago when my partner, Nikki, saw that Disney were giving away tickets to attend a Disney Junior Party event at a nearby Odeon cinema through their Facebook page. The tickets were available on a first come, first served basis after registering with Disney, so we thought we'd try to get ourselves onto the guest list - judging by the empty seats on the day, this wasn't as impressive a feat as I first thought!

Fast forward a couple of weeks to yesterday, when we travelled to Telford to the Odeon cinema we'd got tickets for. Upon arrival we were shown to the correct screen and we found some available seats, fortunately we arrived early and claimed two of their VIP seats.  After a few minutes, the show began with Mickey Mouse introducing himself as compère for proceedings. The event kicked off with Mickey giving instructions to the audience for an upcoming dance-a-long video. Perhaps it was because everyone was shy, or perhaps because it was early on a Sunday morning, not everyone joined in. There was a bit more enthusiasm for the second clip, which was a puzzle to identify which option was correct to complete an image relating to the following programme. We were then treated to a brand new episode of 'Doc McStuffins' ('Toy Hospital: Chilly's Snow Globe Shakeup / Hoarse Hallie'). There was another dance and puzzle, before an episode of 'The Lion Guard' was shown (I think it was 'Never Roar Again'), followed by another dance and the event coming to a close.

This was a great first experience of the cinema for our son as it was a very relaxed atmosphere, no one was going to complain if the younger children made noises and the lights remained on through the showing. He really enjoyed the dance sections and applauded at the end when Mickey was taking a reading of noise. It's definitely worth considering if you have young ones and don't know how they'll react to being in the cinema.

Hopefully there will be more events like this, I'm not sure if it's an annual thing Disney do, but I'd love to take our son to future events. I'll definitely be keeping my eyes peeled for any other events.

Free App of the Week (Apple) - Busy Shapes

Apple are offering 'Busy Shapes' by Edomite Academy as their Free App of the week. 'Busy Shapes' is a simple shape sorting games where you drag shapes to holes to progress to the next level, ideally suited for young children.
I never read up on the free apps so, upon trying 'Busy Shapes' for the first time, I found the game to be quite simple and the graphics felt very basic, however as the game progresses new obstacles are presented some of which take some working out to resolve - things like fixed / moveable barriers, shapes hidden away and having to change the shape / colour before they will be accepted. There is a parent area to let you set up accounts for children, a feedback section and even a walk through which is accessed through an icon in the top left hand corner and answering a quick multiplication question.
I've had 'Busy Shapes' on my iPhone for a couple of days now and I have found myself playing on it quite a bit, it's helped pass the time on my train to and from work. It's fun, but not very difficult so I'm not sure how long it will stay on my phone longer term. We have also tried our 21 month old son on the game and after some general swiping he found that the shapes would go where he pointed them and drop through the appropriate sized holes. After a few minutes of play he was distraught that we told him that he couldn't play on as it was time for bed. This was definitely a winner with him.
'Busy Shapes' by Edoki Academy - 4/5

Five Favourite Friday... Participation Sports

It's that time of the week again when we reveal our Five Favourite things on a particular topic, this week I've chosen 'Participation Sports'. These are my favourite sports to take part in, some of them are based on the ease of which it is to play them and others are the ones I really enjoy playing. On with my favourite participation sports:

1) Football / Soccer - You'll probably have picked up from my blog that I really enjoy my five-a-side that I play each Monday, it's also an easy sport to play as the only equipment you need is a ball, the goals can be made up of things near at hand, I'm thinking of the jumpers-for-goalposts type of matches we'd play at school. What I like about football (we're not American here) is that there are a number of variations that can be played whatever the environment, it doesn't have to be 11 a side in a stadium, and a kick about with friends is as entertaining as a competitive match. I'll add at this point that I know I'm not a runner, so I see my self as a playmaker when I'm playing as I like looking for a pass to give others opportunities to score - I'd much rather see a 'beautiful' goal scored than an easy on.

2) Volleyball - I really enjoyed playing volleyball at school, even if I wasn't great at it. It is one of those sports that I could use my size to my advantage and I enjoy trying to work out if I could let the ball sail out of the court. Looking back I would have liked to have learnt a bit more about the technical side of the sport and played the game for a bit longer.

3) Badminton - Another sport that I played in school and I was able to benefit from having a larger frame. For similar reasons to volleyball, I took enjoyment from trying to work out if I could leave a shot and let it go out.
4) Off-Road Cycling - Although I've not competed against anybody, I really enjoy cycling off road, and especially going downhill where gravity is on my side. Probably my favourite element is trying to read the route ahead, whilst avoiding hazards that become apparent.

5) Skiing - Its been a long time since I last went skiing, but it's definitely up there with my favourite sports. Perhaps this will come across as aloof, but I'd recommend sticking to skiing on the piste, rather than dry slopes. We had some taster sessions on the dry-slopes near where I live, and I'll never forget the pain I felt as the slope tearing at any exposed flesh when I fell and real snow is much softer to cushion any falls. The worst thing for me about skiing is the fact you need expensive equipment and invariably you'll need an appropriate slope to go down.

So there they are, my favourite participation sports. I deliberated including Walking, as it helped me loose a lot of weight a number of years ago, but I couldn't justify it as a sport. Remember to check out my partner's blog to see what her favourite participation sports are.

Next week is my partner's turn to pick the topic for our post, we'll have to wait and see what she's got planned. Feel free to leave any suggestions in the comments below.