CycleMania

Yorkshire dad champions the benefits of cycling.

Those living within a close enough proximity to any of the Tour de France stages held in England would have gone to it. The two stages in Yorkshire were watched by 2.5m people and were an overwhelming success despite the withdrawal of Green Jersey favourite Mark Cavendish and defending Champion Chris Froome, both of Britain.

The Tour was the perfect place to get children interested in cycling. The raucous, carnival atmosphere that accompanied the race really gave for an electric buzz. A buzz that was completely enthralling regardless of age whilst the competitors were in brilliant spirits and very welcoming to the youngsters. The Tour has instilled in children a desire to start cycling – which certainly isn’t a bad thing.

The average weight of a 10 year old boy is 70 pounds, and an hour cycling at a decent speed would see him burn 318 calories. Cycling is evidently a great way to stay in shape and should actively be encouraged.

Another perk to having children interested in cycling is that it is such a great way to spend time as a family. Everyone enjoys a good cycle. There a fewer better, and cheaper, family excursions than a Sunday afternoon bike ride. Pack some sandwiches and get lost in the beautiful British countryside.

Being on a bike introduces your child to new places and all things natural. Because of the exciting element of cycling your child will struggle to get bored even though they are learning at the same time, whether that be about a certain flower or insect or the natural environment as a whole. The humble bike ride can be a very useful educational tool.

So even if you or your child hasn’t been interested in the Tour you should give cycling a go. It is a great bonding exercise and the benefits are vast.

Authors Bio

Joe Burton is a 33-year-old father of two boys: Harry 10 and Archie 6 and husband to the ever loving Lucy. He resides in Leeds and works in the exciting world of finance.

SUMMER HOLIDAY TIP:  OPEN A KIDS ART GALLERY 

It’s the start of the summer holidays and for many parents it will fill them with dread as they have to find countless activities to fill their child’s day and avoid those two deadly words  “I’m Bored”.

So here’s a suggestion to occupy a day or two – turn you house into an art gallery. Firstly, you may download a digital art app onto your ipad/tablet for them to draw pictures or create abstract digital arts by using the app. Once done, you can then print them out and display them on the walls of your house. Then get your kids to give you a tour of the exhibits and listen to their no doubt baffling abstract creations.

It will be fun to hear their explanation of why triangular blue blob with pink dots is in fact “daddy” and those disturbingly phallic looking yellow things are in fact trees. You can also quiz them on their motivation for giving rainbow eggs ears.

So load up some good quality printer inks, art papers and get your printer working hard. You can start your art gallery in no time.

Why not combine this activity with a trip to a real art gallery? Some parents think that young kids won’t “get” real art but even toddlers can appreciate masterpieces. Beth Schneider, head of learning at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, sums it up perfectly.

 “You’re never too young to enjoy Manet,” she says. “He often painted his family and friends, and children immediately notice that, in some cases spotting relationships grown-ups might miss. Going to an exhibition is a great family occasion that can spark a conversation that goes all the way home.”

My daughter loves big bold colourful works. Matisse at Tate Modern is a particular favourite of hers. Art galleries are big spaces so there is plenty of room for even the most hyperactive of kids. In addition, many galleries have special activities for children during school holidays.

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World Cup Competition

888

Daddy Dazed is loving this World Cup  – such great games, such good goals – my biggest problem is wrestling control of the TV remote away from my daughter who doesn’t appreciate the finer points of team tactics and just wants to watch Frozen.

And now Daddy Dazed brings you a great free World Cup competition – Jungle Goal$, courtesy of 888casino

First prize is a LG 9.1ch 3D cinema system.

All you have to do is visit here – World Cup at 888casino – watch a short video and work out who bounced the ball the most times (HINT: it’s harder that it sounds, so concentrate) and guess the team that’ll win this year’s World Cup.

Competition ends 14th July.

Good luck!

Fathers Day Competition

Dear Readers, How would you like to make your dad’s dreams come true?

All you need to do is submit a video or simply tweet saying why your dad is your hero and what his #FathersDayDream would be e.g.: a racing day at Silverstone, a family holiday to Paris, a trip to see the Northern Lights  etc. Then Braun will chose one winner to make their dad’s dream come true!  

The competition ends on 16th June to enter & you have to include the hashtags #Braun & #FathersDayDreams in your tweet/video.  Full terms and conditions here – http://braunfathersdaydreams.wordpress.com/

Fathers Day Gifts

A message to my daughter. It’s fathers day this year and I’d really like a present. Last year the hand painted card was lovely and all but what I really want is something a bit more substantial. I know you have been hinting that you have made me something special – something about a card with your footprint on it in pink and with glitter – but if you were to look deep inside yourself you’d probably realise that you made that card more for you than me. When have I ever said “Oh what I really want is a splodgy picture of your foot”? So here I have a couple of recommendations for my father’s day gift:

1. A Bottle of Single Malt Whiskey 

whisky

I have two suggestions here:

The Macallan Gold Matured in 100% sherry seasoned oak casks, The Macallan Gold has notes of vanilla followed by dark chocolate, with lingering floral and light oak notes. Daddy likes to drink this after tucking you into bed.  www.themacallan.co.uk

Highland Park 12 Year Old This single malt whisky boasts a honey sweetness, followed by fruity notes with a hint of gentle smoke and a flavour that just keeps on delivering. Daddy like it very much.  www.highlandpark.co.uk.

2. Braun Cool Tec Shaver 

braun shaver

This is the ultimate electric shaver. It is the world’s 1st shaver with active cooling technology – now that might not mean much to you, but for my irritable skin this is a big deal.

Here comes the science, so listen carefully – most electric shavers allow warmth to build up in the head of the shaver, °CoolTec has an innovative aluminium cooling bar integrated into its head that actively cools down the skin during shaving, minimizing shaving redness, burning and itching sensations. It basically puts skin irritation on ice. Think of it as Frozen for my face. It’s like an icy blast of Elsa magic every time I shave.

I’ll be honest. I was so excited by this new technology and its sleek cool design that i have already bought one – so all you need to do is give the word and i’ll transfer your child allowance into my account. Thanks in advance. Daddy loves you.

Baby Jumping Festival

bizarre baby festival

Are you worried that your baby might be possessed by evil spirits. Well don’t worry all you need is a man in fancy dress to jump over your child.

Every year in Spain they hold a Baby Jumping Festival to purify babies.

El Colacho as it is known  is held in Castillo de Murcia near Burgos in the Spring. It is the culmination of the Spanish Catholic Festival of Corpus Christi.

The babies are laid on the ground and then grown men, dressed as devils (or bizarrely Elvis) jump over them. The act of flying in the air over the babies is supposed to cleanse them of all evil spirits.

baby jumping2

This bizarre festival was founded in 1620 and is a mixture of Spanish folklore and religion. The organisers are the mysterious brotherhood of Santísimo Sacramento de Minerva, who appear to be competing to wear the most outlandish costume.

After the baby hurdles, the children are sprinkled with petals and blessed.

In our safety conscious age, the festival has come under fire from critics who says its dangerous, and even the Pope has asked Catholic priests not to condone it, but it looks pretty good fun to me.

But I wonder what happens if one of these leaping lads was to land short and fall on one of the babies? Or if the leaper fell and twisted his ankle? Would they be able to seek compensation claiming it was a work accident? Perhaps they should have Leo Claims on speed dial!

The joy of reading to a 2 year old

Charlie Brooker, father of a two year old boy,  writes about the godless world of Mr Men, the creepy world of Snow White and why his son is a moron.

I moved house recently and was once again stunned by how much dead media I’m lugging around. First it was vinyl. Then CDs. Now the DVD collection has joined the VHS collection in my personal poorly curated Museum of Obsolete Clutter.

I can chart my history with each format. The surviving remnants of my VHS era, for instance, commence with an off-air recording of series one of The Young Ones transferred from Betamax in my teens, and conclude with a review copy of an Apprentice episode dating from about seven years ago. The DVD wing comprises box sets, rushes, rough cuts, and a Christmas edition of The Black and White Minstrel Show I had to watch for a TV programme I was doing. Beyond that point I don’t really own anything. It’s all in the cloud these days.

Same with books. My bookshelves chiefly function as a snapshot of what I was reading prior to the invention of the Kindle. The only physical, actual, by-God-it-exists books I buy these days are children’s books. In fact the only books I read these days are children’s books.

Each night I read stories to a two-year-old to distract him from reality, which being two, he hasn’t learned to despise yet. He earnestly believes everything is brilliant. Yesterday he discovered the timeless magic of throwing a fork under the sofa again and again and again. He laughs at the sight of a squirrel. Sometimes he spins on the spot and throws his arms out, shrieking with boundless delight for no reason. What a moron.

He wants to cling to every crumb of conscious existence, so it’s tough to convince him to let go long enough to fall asleep. Bedtime stories ease the transition.

We began with the classics. Goldilocks and the Three Bears is simple enough to recount from memory in the dark. Simple and boring. I regularly drifted off while reciting it aloud, and sometimes added new bits in a dreamlike daze. I once caught myself saying baby bear’s head had fallen off because his nose was made of hair. It was hard to steer the narrative back on course after that.

I tried reading fairy tales off an iPhone, but that didn’t work. For starters, it’s impossible to hold an iPhone in the same hectare as a toddler without prompting an instant, bitter struggle for possession that makes the battle for Ukraine look dignified. Besides, fairy stories exist in a peculiar medieval realm. Reading about tunics and spindles off a glimmering smartphone screen just feels wrong. You need a hand-me-down Ladybird book to really do them justice. A book filled with creepy paintings to match the creepy text. In Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, the handsome prince falls in love with a corpse in a glass box. It’s right there in black and white. No trigger warnings or anything.

Still, fairy tales were just a gateway drug to a wider world of kiddywink fiction. Quickly we moved from Peepo! to Goodnight Moon to The Gruffalo and beyond. Brilliant though The Very Hungry Caterpillar is, it’s only about 20 words long. You could tweet the whole thing while falling downstairs. And the storyline is full of holes.

Out of selfish nostalgia I bought a complete box set of Mr Men stories, which turned out to be the most satisfying purchase I’ve made in about a decade. The stories themselves aren’t especially remarkable. They follow a fairly rigid template. In each story Mr Titular wakes up, has breakfast (usually eggs, consumed in a manner that vividly illustrates his character), goes for a walk, encounters a worm or a wizard or a shopkeeper, learns a harsh moral lesson and then crawls home, a changed man, hopelessly broken by experience.

The Mr Men inhabit a godless universe. They chiefly fall into two camps – those with character defects (eg Mr Greedy) and those with afflictions (eg Mr Skinny). They all suffer in some way, except those too mad (Mr Silly) or too stupid (Mr Dizzy) to comprehend what suffering is.

There is justice in their realm, but it’s applied inconsistently at best. Mr Nosey, for instance, has all his inquisitiveness literally beaten out of him when the townsfolk conspire against him. He hears an interesting noise behind a fence and pokes his nose round it, only to be smashed in the face by a man with hammer – who laughs about it afterwards. But Mr Nosey’s only crime was excessive curiosity, whereas Mr Tickle – a 1970s children’s entertainer with wandering hands who runs around town touching strangers inappropriately from dawn till dusk – goes unpunished.

Most of those with afflictions are bluntly informed that their conditions are untreatable. Messrs Bump, Bounce, Forgetful, Quiet, Small and Tall, for instance, simply have to lump it. Mr Sneeze is cured, but only after a wizard turns his wintry homeland into a suntrap, in an early example of man-made climate change.

It’s a brutal existence, albeit a cheerfully rendered one. And in revisiting the books I was surprised to discover that despite forgetting most of the storylines, the visuals felt so familiar, they can’t have ever left my mind. When I was young, I wanted to be a cartoonist. As a teenager, I even managed to make a career of it for a few years. Back then I figured I’d formed this ambition thanks to the comics I’d read when I was about 12. No, looking back at some of my ham-fisted drawings of the time, I realise the Mr Men must have kicked the yearning off years before that. I was unconsciously sampling and regurgitating whole sections of Roger Hargreaves’ visual repertoire. The way Roger Hargreaves drew a shoe is still the way a shoe looks when I picture it. Same with a house. Or a hat. Or a butcher. Or a wizard. Or a cloud.

And when I thought about that, a sad thought occurred to me: that these children’s books may well be the only physical books my son will ever own. Because when he gets past about six, all his books will be in the cloud, surely. Not on a shelf. Not in a library. In a cloud. A cloud I can only picture in the shape of Mr Daydream.

Not that my son cares. Like I said, he’s still astounded by squirrels and forks. Monumental idiot.

4 Alternatives To Try This Year (Guest Post)

Can it really be June already? By now, most people’s New Year Resolutions will be just a distant, sad-eyed memory, and retoxing rather than detoxing will be the order of the day. But there is something you can do that’s less awful – and unrealistic – than the cold-turkey method of giving stuff up; replace things you enjoy with things that are just a little bit better…

A Better Lottery

daddy dazed

If you swore on December 31st that you were never going to do a lottery again, and now you find you’re back on the scratchcards with a vengeance, consider a lottery with a difference. The UK’s Health Lottery was launched in 2011, and, aside from the fact that 20% of the money goes to health-related good causes, the odds of winning the jackpot are actually better than many others, including the UK’s National Lottery. You can get involved and check health lottery results online.

E-Cigs

While we’re on the subject of health, giving up smoking is one of the most popular – and least successful – resolutions people make. In the last couple of years a real solution has emerged, with the advent of electronic cigarettes such as ciglites. The first models were a bit dubious, with strange, burnt tastes and unreliable batteries. Recently though, some excellent devices have hit the shops, and online forums are packed with anecdotal evidence of people switching to e-cigs after decades of smoking and not looking back. Talk to your doctor of course, but they really can work for those who find it impossible to quit.

Planet-Friendly Cars

dad car

Now for something you can do for the environment; switch to an electric vehicle. If your car journeys are generally short hops across town, it’s worth considering a move away from fossil fuels the next time you change your car. One of the most popular models right now is the BMW i3, a really rather good-looking hatchback that’s vaguely reminiscent of a Ford Focus. BMW claims a maximum range of 120 miles, but admits that 100 is more realistic day-to-day. Top speed is over 90mph and acceleration is comparable to similar sized petrol cars. It could be worth a test drive…

Low Fat Meat

Finally, another resolution that often gets ditched by February 1st – meat. Or rather, no meat. For people trying to cut down on cholesterol, options that don’t involve going vegetarian are often welcome. Enter the ostrich. Unlike most bird-based meat, it doesn’t taste “a bit like chicken”; it’s red and it’s much closer to beef. However, it’s very lean and the cholesterol content is far lower than beef. There are plenty of recipes available, and if there’s no outlet near you, you can also buy the stuff online.

(Images courtesy of casinojuggler.com,  forbes.com)