LEAF Open Farm Sunday, 11th June 2017


Make a date to discover the world of farming

On Sunday 11th June 2017 hundreds of farms across the UK will throw open their gates to welcome the public and showcase the fascinating world of farming.

As well as being a fun and informative day out for all the family, LEAF Open Farm Sunday also gives visitors the opportunity to see first-hand all that farmers do and the impact their work has on all our lives.

This so often misunderstood industry has a vital role in not only producing safe nutritious food, but also using the latest science and technology to farm sustainably – that means increasing production whilst managing the environment for wildlife and enhancing our natural resources for generations to come. Since the first Open Farm Sunday in 2006 over 1.8m people have visited a LEAF Open Farm Sunday event.  This year, farms across the country, from Cornwall to Orkney, will provide young and old with an opportunity to see farming in action and learn more about the work farmers are so proud to do.

The mostly free events will offer a range of activities from tractor trailer rides, farm walks and bug hunts, to feeding lambs, sheep shearing and milking demonstrations.  The technology and science behind farming and food production will also be a focus; providing visitors with a fascinating insight into the world of farming.

Open Farm Sunday is managed by LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming); the leading organisation delivering more sustainable food and farming.


Annabel Shackleton, Open Farm Sunday Manager at LEAF commented: “Modern farming is incredibly diverse and impacts on all of us – from the clothes we wear to the medicines we take and the food we eat.  Farming plays a vital part in each of our lives. LEAF Open Farm Sunday gives us the rare opportunity to see farming in real life and to learn about the hard work, care and pride that goes into the work farmers do, which is so vital to the environment, our lives and the economy.’ 

So circle the date in your diary, visit www.farmsunday.org to find your local open farm, pull on your wellies and get set to discover the world of farming!


Could You Help Make a Difference in Essex?


It’s National Volunteer’s Week 1-7 June and Action Medical Research is asking people across Essex to help them in their bid to save little lives.

Action raises funds for desperately needed research to tackle the diseases that devastate the lives of so many of our children.

It has been funding medical breakthroughs since it began in 1952 including helping to introduce the first polio vaccines in the UK, developing the use of ultrasound in pregnancy and testing the rubella vaccine.

The charity is currently funding research into conditions including asthma, prematurity, epilepsy, meningitis, cerebral palsy, brain cancer and some rare and distressing conditions.

Launched in 1952, the charity now organises a number of local, annual events in and arounds Essex including:

• London to Paris (https://www.action.org.uk/action-london-paris)

• Essex 100 (https://www.action.org.uk/essex-100)

• Action in the Autumn (https://www.action.org.uk/action-autumn)


Action London to Paris bike ride fundraising challenge

Action has a number of committees across the UK whose members not only help with the charity’s established events, but some also organise their own.  These can range from cake sales, to casino nights to plant fairs; they’re fun, social and help provide additional fundraising for the organisation.

Jane Charlton is the Volunteer Development Manager at Action: “We have around 1,000 volunteers across the UK who currently help us throughout the year. They are amazing and we honestly couldn’t function without them.

“We organise such a diverse range of fundraising events and activities which offer a variety of opportunities to help.

“Could you give a talk at a local school? Perhaps help marshal at one of our many bike rides or even organise a fundraising event of your own?”

Think you could help make a difference?

You can find out much more information about volunteering for Action Medical Research here https://www.action.org.uk/volunteers.



A staggering 3/4 of dog owners admit to celebrating their pooch’s birthday

– Study reveals dog owners are throwing fancy paw-ties for their pups and showering them with gifts
– Two thirds of Brits spend more than £10 treating their dog to an extra special day
– Over half treat their canine companion  to a special birthday feast

A new study by Lily’s Kitchen, Creators of proper food for pets/ or who make proper food for pets, found that over half of doting dog owners admits to throwing a birthday bash for their pup, and nearly 60% howl out the iconic ‘Happy Birthday’ musical number (58%) to their dogs on their special day. Pooch parents are happy to splash the cash when birthdays roll around, with almost two thirds (64%) of those surveyed spending more than £10 on gifts and decorations, making sure their hound has the celebration it deserves.

When it comes to the all-important birthday meal, more than half of owners (55%) prepare a special birthday feast for their canine companion, based on their own favourite meal. Meat loaf, fish cakes and chicken stew are just a few homemade doggy dinner favourites.

This increased humanisation of our four-legged friends has led to a growing demand for more occasion- based pet products, including celebratory dog meals and treats made with premium ingredients. Lily’s Kitchen has responded to pet parents wanting to celebrate their dog’s “adopted day” or birthday with the launch of ‘Birthday Surprise’; the first ever party-perfect meal for dogs made from three different fresh cuts of steak, potatoes, broccoli and herbs.

According to the study, spoiling our dogs on their birthday is all part of the deep “emotional connection ” we have with them; 41% of pet owners say they celebrate because “their dog is part of the family” and one in eight people feel that “their dog is like their child”.

Henrietta Morrison, Lily’s Kitchen Founder and CEO said: “Our dogs are family and they deserve to have the best day ever on their birthday. And steak dinners usually mark a special occasion for humans so what better way to celebrate than a nutritious doggy equivalent. The trend that sees us treat our dogs more like the rest of our family can sometimes end up in owners indulging their pets with harmful foods such as cake on their birthday, but we urge all owners to serve up proper food that’s safe and deliciously nourishing”.

Want to throw your pup a party? The new Birthday Surprise gift box RRP £9.95, is available to order from May 5th 2017 and will be sold on the Lily’s Kitchen website www.lilyskitchen.co.uk.




Colchester Castle Opening – 2nd May

Colchester Castle has got a real treat in store for visitors when they open their doors to the public on 2nd May. The Castle has been closed since March 2013 for redevelopment and has been worth the wait!


Photo of the Roman living room

I was lucky enough to be invited to their pre-opening to have a look at the new and wonderful work that has been done. The castle is warm, bright and welcoming with lots of interaction for all.

They have a new amazing projector screen (son et lumiere) that covers the castle wall to reveal stories and information in colourful animation, it’s the first of its kind in the region. There is plenty of hands on fun too, visitors can excavate a doctor’s grave, ride a chariot around the Roman Circus or play in the Roman villa.


Photo of son et lumiere on the castle wall

I also trialed their new and very clever app which visitors can either download onto their own mobile device or hire a tablet computer. It kept me amused for ages with its technology and how it turned the Castle to life, but I won’t give too much away – I’ll let you go along and try it out for yourself.


photo of the new app in action

Schools will find this a very easy and fun way to educate children with class trips, with fun games and also being able to give children the independence of finding out information themselves using the new app – it will keep them going for hours!

The castle is also introducing an annual pass, a family of four can come and go as many times as you like for £48, making it a very affordable and fun place to visit.

I know I will be one of the first visitors when they open their doors on 2nd May with my family, as I know they will find it fascinating and fun…plus we will learn new interesting facts in one of the oldest buildings in the UK.

For further information on the Colchester Castle re-opening visit: www.cimuseums.org.uk


KidAround has a new publisher!

There are exciting developments to report here at KidAround.

With immediate effect KidAround Magazine will be published by Trew Publishing Ltd, which is owned by Anna Hurley.  Anna has worked for KidAround as the Production Manager for 3 years and knows the business very well. She is already cracking on with the summer issue, which will be her first in charge.

Anna photoNew Publisher, Anna, has the following words for all our customers old and new:

“I want to express how excited and happy I am to be taking over the publication of KidAround magazine.

Please be assured that I will not be making any changes to the high quality or large distribution – you will still enjoy everything KidAround magazine has offered over the past 14 years.

Tracy has done a fantastic job building KidAround into the established name it is today and it is an honour to have the opportunity to continue to publish this magazine going forward. Being a mum myself, I know KidAround is every parent/grandparent/carers essential magazine.

I am very much looking forward to working with you all. Please do call  or email me if you have any queries”.

TracyOutgoing Publisher, Tracy, would like to say the following:

“As you will be aware, I have published KidAround for the past 14 years and worked with many of you for much of that time. I have now decided to move on and, luckily, Anna has stepped in and is taking over the brand and goodwill of KidAround from now onwards.

It has been a great pleasure and a privilege to work with you over the years. I am immensely proud of KidAround magazine and everything it has achieved and absolutely delighted that, thanks to Anna, it will be able to continue. The magazine could not be in better hands and I know Anna will do a terrific job and you will love working with her.

I will be working alongside Anna in a handover role for a while and then hope our paths may cross again in my new role at Piccolo Media – dealing with communications for small businesses.”

We are both really pleased and excited about these changes and look forward to working with our advertisers, stockists, editorial contributors and readers long into the future.

Posted by Tracy Thomas and Anna Hurley


Essex Babylab Launched

Babylab 2Essex Babylab launched

Babies are to be the focus of an exciting new research initiative at the University of Essex.

Based in the University’s Centre for Brain Science, the Essex Babylab will investigate infant and child cognitive development, which involves their ability to learn and understand.

Leading the Babylab researchers will be Dr Silvia Rigato, from the Department of Psychology, who has extensive experience of research with young infants. The research will help academics gain a better understanding of how typically developing children learn to perceive and act in the world around them.

Some of the first studies planned will use EEG (electroencephalogram) head nets which record the natural brain activity and eye tracking software to learn about babies’ recognition of other people and infant learning about our multisensory world.

“We understand that babies won’t want to sit around too long with head nets on because they would rather be crawling around, so we have to be clever at designing our studies so they are simple, fun and interesting but also something we can get data from,” explained Dr Rigato. “This type of research is challenging because you want the young participants to stay happy and you have to wait until the time is right for them. That is why the actual study and recording is only about five minutes long.”
The research team is currently registering children from local nurseries but is keen for more babies aged 0-2 years old to be registered for forthcoming studies. As Dr Rigato stressed, the experiments are not invasive or stimulating, they are purely recording what the children do.

The infants will be invited to take part in a selection of games where they will be able to look or grasp at several interesting images, whilst older children are given different objects in more interactive situations.

You can register your child at the Essex Babylab website http://www.essexpsychology.macmate.me/BabyLab/home.html or email: babylab@essex.ac.uk

Posted by Tracy Thomas


Spring 2014 Issue Out Now!

KidAround-Cover_Spring-14NORTHWe are delighted with the new Spring issue of KidAround, which is out today.

As ever, it’s packed with loads of listings and information – where to go, who to call, what to do as a parent where YOU live.

Over 120,000 copies of the two editions of this issue will be distributed across Essex over the next week so you should get one home from school or nursery soon.KidAround-Cover_Spring-14SOUTH

If you can’t wait that long, you can read KidAround online at:

North Essex: http://issuu.com/kidaround-magazine/docs/north_essex_spring_2014

South Essex:  http://issuu.com/kidaround-magazine/docs/south_essex_spring_14_

Please don’t forget to visit our website http://www.kidaround.biz for updated listings, new competitions and more!


Posted by Tracy Thomas