Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Earlier this month The Wobbly Jelly was invited to see this years Assembly Hall pantomime, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Much to the horror of the Jelly Babies, I went without them and instead invited the big sister of their buddies, Zara Bailey to come along and watch the show. We had a fabulous night together and even got to see a few of the stars of the pantomime after the show, before we were both whisked home by Zara’s dad.

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Here’s eight year old Zara’s reveiw.

On Wednesday night, I went to see the Snow White pantomime at the Assembly Hall theatre in Tunbridge wells. It was really funny and also sometimes a bit cheeky!

My favourite character was Dolly. Dolly was Snow White’s nurse (nanny). Every time Dolly came on stage, she was wearing a different outfit. On one occasion, she wore a burger and chips dress!

The ‘Bad Queen’s’ joker Muddles, told most of the jokes. He was hilarious! One of my favourite jokes involved the Bad Queen pushing Muddles onto his bum, he then jumped up and pointed to his bottom and shouted “Oi, you broke my bum! Look there’s a crack in it!!” I think that the show was really good because it was entertaining, funny and you were never bored.

The following week I returned with the Jelly Babies and their cousins who live in New York. The eldest Jelly Baby felt sure he wouldn’t enjoy but within moments he was giggling away and particularly loved the moment when he thought he had been caught picking his nose. The littlest Jelly Baby and her cousins loved all the song and dance routines and spent the next 24 hours re creating them at home. I thought all the cast were fabulous but Su Pollard was absolutely knock out as the wicked stepmother.

The pantomime is on until Monday, January 2nd 2017 so you’ll have to be quick if you want to catch this hilarious family show.

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Advent Bags – 24 Fabulously Fun Activities to do in the run up to Christmas

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

The Wobbly Jelly

This will be the third year that I have created Advent Bags for the Jelly Babies. Unsure what to do with a box of pegs numbered 1 to 24 that I bought on a whim, I decided the easiest thing to do was to fill 24 paper sweetie bags with a festive treat and a Christmas activity. Little did I know that these advent bags would become a really important tradition in our little family.

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Advent bags aren’t an excuse to completely over indulge my children, it is more about ensuring we slow down a little at Christmas and take time out to include the children in the Christmas preparations. This may sound contrived and slightly cheesy but I think in previous years I had focused so much on making Christmas day itself perfect that I had forgotten that children find as much enjoyment in the build up as…

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Halloween House of Horrors

Last Sunday I headed into the cellar and dragged up the huge bag that houses our Halloween decorations. The Jelly Babies were beyond excited at the prospect of transforming our dining room into a spooky, cob web strewn coven. The irony of the fake cobwebs was not lost on Mr Wobbly Jelly who despairs at my lack of housekeeping skills.

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Halloween has changed somewhat from thirty years ago when, on the 31st of October my mum and I would attempt to carve a turnip and I’d put on a cardboard witches hat before bobbing for some apples with my brothers.

Halloween is now a full blown celebration for many and definitely one of the highlights of my children’s year.

Last year as well as carving several pumpkins, we crafted a spider web from string, created a pumpkin from felt, and made a skeleton from cotton buds. Although the final pieces of art barely resembled what they were meant to, the Jelly Babies spent a wonderful hour cutting and sticking.

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As darkness descended the Jelly Babies and their buddies changed into their spooky attire before feasting on sandwiches cut into witches hats (triangles) pumpkin cupcakes (regular cakes topped with orange butter cream and a small green sweet,) spider web crisps, pumpkin tangerines and marshmallow mummies (giant marshmallows studded with chocolate chip eyes.) This was washed down with witches brew (a jug of blackcurrant squash with some jelly worms thrown in for added gruesomeness.) After eating, we cracked on with some spooky games. As a nod to tradition, the children bobbed for apples. They then split into teams to wrap one of their team members in white toilet roll to resemble mummies. Finally they tried to eat doughnuts suspended from the ceiling on sting without using their hands (much trickier than it sounds.) It was then time to grab the glow sticks and head out to trick or treat a few specially selected houses.

 

 

 

Safari Party

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The biggest Jelly Baby recently turned 7 and he decided he wanted to celebrate by heading to our local ten pin bowling centre with a gaggle of his buddies. I have always gone to town on both the Jelly Babies’ parties but I realised (with a mixture of a heavy heart and a huge sense of relief) that going forward the oldest Jelly Baby’s parties will be much simpler affairs.

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This got me thinking about some of the parties I have thrown for him in previous years and without doubt my favourite was the Safari party we held to celebrate his 4th birthday. In the week leading up to the party we had fun creating some very basic decorations to transform our house into the African Plains (I know tigers live in China and not on African Plains but…..) We also gathered together all the animals we owned and scattered them round the room to set the scene.

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With the littlest Jelly Baby disguised as a meerkat and the birthday boy resplendent in his elephant costume we were all set for the stars of the show to arrive.  Animal Magic arrived with a whole menagerie of creatures. These included Bobby the Parrot, a gang of meerkats, a flock of ducks, a herd of guinea pigs, a colony of rabbits, an albino hedgehog, a chihuahua and a whole host of reptiles. The children were completely enthralled from start to finish and even those who were initially hesitant loved learning about the animals.

With the animals safely packed away and hands thoroughly cleaned, the children enjoyed a safari themed party tea. We had animal shaped sandwiches, a sinister looking cucumber snake, animal crisps, animal biscuits, and chocolate monkey cakes.  You’ll notice there isn’t a photo of the birthday cake. That’s because it was an absolute disaster but that’s a story for another day.

 

When the Wobbly Jelly met Mister Maker

When you are as big into crafting and making as The Wobbly Jelly is, and you’re also rather partial to an hour or two in front of CBeebies, there can’t be many better offers than a trip to the theatre to see Mister Maker and the Shapes Live, followed by a chance to meet the legend himself. We leapt at the chance when our local theatre, Assembly Hall, Tunbridge Wells invited us to do just that. The littlest Jelly Baby’s excitement was infectious and I found myself counting the number of sleeps until the big day.

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For those parents who have been living under a rock for the last decade, Mister Maker like Tony Hart in the the 80s and Neil Buchanan in the 90s, is inspiring a generation of children to get creative. His high energy, fast paced television show has been on air for almost a decade but I’ll be honest I was curious as to how he would hold the attention of the audience for the length of a theatre show.

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The moment Mister Maker jumped on stage (via Brazil) I knew the littlest Jelly Baby (aged 3) and I were in for a treat. The next 90 minutes whizzed by in a whirl of music, dancing, jokes and of course lots of crafting. It felt more like we were attending a huge party rather than a theatre performance with children encouraged to get up and dance, and parents invited to join in too. The littlest Jelly Baby was thrilled that the show included all of the things she associated with Mister Maker – gloopy glue, the doodle drawers, and of course the shapes. Adding further to her sense of excitement, the audience were appointed Mini Makers participating in their very own ingeniously devised minute make challenge.

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Over the last five years I have accompanied the Jelly Babies to a whole host of children’s theatre productions based on their favourite television shows and as much as they have adored each of the shows, this is the first that I can honestly say I have loved. The thing that made the show so enjoyable for me, alongside the fact the audience were central to the entire show,  was that the adults had been thought of as much as the children. With bursts of pop music from the nineties interspersed with the more traditional children’s songs and some jokes aimed at the parents and grandparents rather than the children and even some classic rave moves, the entire audience were catered for. We were both a little glum when the show came to an end but were thrilled that it was almost time to meet our crafting hero and I’m delighted to report that Phil Gallagher a.k.a Mister Maker was just as delightful as he appears on the television. We hope he’ll treasure the Big Pencil Case The Wobbly Jelly made him, just as long as we’ll treasure the memories from the day Mister Maker visited our home town.

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Getting to know Mister Maker

The Wobbly Jelly has been finding out a little more about MISTER MAKER ahead of his visit to the Assembly Halls, Tunbridge Wells on Saturday 14th of May at 1.30pm & 4pm

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This is the CBeebies favourite’s first UK theatre tour. Phil Gallagher, aka Mister Maker said: “This is our first ever Mister Maker theatre tour in the UK and I am so excited! We’ll be singing, dancing and making some amazing arty creations. I can’t wait to share the fun with all my Mini-Makers so join me, Circle, Triangle, Square and Rectangle for a real arty adventure….and get ready to make some noise!”

The show is going to be packed with loads of arty fun, fantastic songs and there’s even a big ‘make’ for everybody to take part in. Joining Mister Maker on stage will be a wonderful supporting cast and, of course, The Shapes!

Mister Maker has been delighting CBeebies viewers since 2007 and in 2009 was nominated for a Children’s BAFTA.

How did the Mister Maker character come about? Have you always been crafty?

The idea of the character was to be able to teach exciting arty techniques whilst hopefully being entertaining and funny. I have always loved making things – from a very early age! I remember making fluffy bugs out of wool, cardboard and googly eyes with my Grandpa when I was very young.

What can we expect to see on your first UK tour?

There’ll be lots and lots of arty fun and some singing and dancing too! Of course there will be some great makes as well including a really big one that everyone can join in with. What’s really exciting is that I’ll have the Shapes joining me on stage alongside a wonderful supporting cast.

We hear that there are quite a few Mini Makers outside the UK too…

I’m proud to say we have a very loyal fan base around the world. The show is now played in over 100 countries. I have loved visiting all the countries I’ve been to and they all hold special memories for me. The favourite live show that I’ve done outside the UK so far was in Jakarta, Indonesia – over 10,000 wonderful people came to cheer me on and I will forever be grateful for the incredible reception that day.

If you could be one item from your Doodle Drawer, what would it be and why?

Wool – soft at heart but when stretched, I’m tough and strong too! (I’m desperately trying to flex my biceps as I write this!)

What are your top tips for getting crafty?

Try to use recycled materials as much as you can – start saving old kitchen roll tubes, cereal packets, sponges etc. as these can be really useful. Gloopy glue, pencils, pens and paint are important too – along with scissors. But be careful, scissors are sharp! Remember, there are no right or wrong answers with art. It is just all about being creative and finding the fun in making something.

What’s your favourite craft material in the Doodle Drawers?

Probably my paint!

If you could make absolutely anything, what would it be and where would you make it?

I would say my dream arty adventure would be a painty football splat picture made on the pitch at Wembley Stadium!

If you were one of the Shapes, which shape would you be and why?

Probably Rectangle as he’s the tallest!

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love watching football! Spending time with family and friends is my favourite thing to do.

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The littlest Jelly Baby and are I are so excited to see the show and gather all sorts of fabulous new crafty ideas from our crafting hero.

 

 

 

 

Tortoise and the Hare – Assembly Hall, Tunbridge Wells

If you are looking for a special treat this Easter weekend, suitable for all the family and that won’t break the bank, be sure to check out the Tortoise & the Hare. It is  being performed on Fri 25 March at 2pm & 4pm at the Assembly Hall, Tunbridge Wells. Tickets are just £8 for adults and £6 for children.

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To learn a little more about this very special children’s ballet, The Wobbly Jelly caught up with Gavin McCaig to find out about his role of the Tortoise

Gavin McCaig is a dancer from Motherwell, who trained at The Dance School of Scotland for four years before receiving a scholarship to study at English National Ballet School. He joined Northern Ballet in 2014.

What is it like to be involved with creating a new character for a ballet?
One of our other dancers, Matthew Topliss, had the role created on him before the end of last season and it was then passed on to me to develop and bring the character to life for the first performances. I felt very proud to dance Sebastian and Dreda’s ballet, and tried my utmost to bring the character to life.

Have you danced in a children’s ballet before?
Yes, I danced in our production of Elves & the Shoemaker which I toured with extensively last season. I also played the Clog Man in the BBC version which aired on CBeebies.

What is the character like?
The character of the Tortoise is an interesting one. He has this all-knowing aura about him, yet is humble, kind, wise and reliable. I like to think he is everything you’d want to find in a tortoise if he could meet you for a coffee and have a catch-up!

How do you get into character?
Truth be told, I try and feel really sleepy and I usually lie down on my shell backstage for a while. In my first scene I have just woken up after a long sleep, so it helps to have been rested. It is quite a challenge to move so slowly and with such stiffness throughout the show when I have trained all my life not to be!

What aspects of the character do you try to bring into your dancing?
This role doesn’t require much actual dancing so the character really is the role! Everything I do from the way I tilt my head to the facial expressions I make is supposed to encompass this lovable and comic character. The other characters are more energetic so they do a lot more dancing than the Tortoise.

Did the character come to you right away or did it develop as the ballet was created?
It definitely developed. It changes from show to show too, depending on how the audience reacts. It was interesting to come to appreciate that you have to understand the kind of audience you have in front of you, and how much you can push or hold back on the comedy or facial expressions in order to get the best reaction. After the first technical rehearsal was out of the way I tried to perform each show more and more to what I believed the Tortoise would be like.

What are you thinking about while you’re dancing?
The character! The choreography and technical aspects are sorted by the time we perform, so I can really concentrate on being ‘the Tortoise’. The show is has such a strong narrative that I tend to speak the story in my head. When I offer my best friend Molly the Mole some tea in the tea scene, I’m actually offering her some tea in my head! This transcends to the kids and the rest of the audience a great deal more than worrying about my next cartwheel sequence.

Is the role difficult? Are the steps quite technical?
In this show the difficulty lies in the way I do things, as opposed to what I do. It’s trying to get the viscosity of the movement and play with the character on top that is the challenge.

What is your favourite part of playing the Tortoise?
When I hear the audience laugh! It is so fulfilling to know the kids and the rest of the audience are enjoying the show.

Why do you think it is important to introduce young children and their families to the world of ballet and theatre?
Ballet and theatre is a magical world. I would encourage parents to introduce their kids to the arts for so many reasons, the main one being I can say it is such a fulfilling pastime. To expose children to the arts captivates their imagination and encourages engagement on so many levels. It’s also a great family day out, and the kids are sure to love what they are seeing on stage.

Can you tell us a little about the costumes audiences can expect to see?
The costumes for the show are wonderful. I couldn’t have imagined a better Tortoise costume! I want to steal his waistcoat and shirt for my own wardrobe, along with a pretty cool shell. The competitive Hare’s costume is true-to-imagination, along with a black and yellow buzzy-bee tutu and a wonderful flowing, glistening butterfly costume with layers of Arabian-inspired material. I won’t give more away – you’ll have to see for yourself!

The show is set to an original score by Bruno Merz. How did you find working with the music?
It was great to work with the music. Bruno has completely embodied the heart and soul of the story and its morals. It’s playful and engaging in every sense.

http://www.assemblyhalltheatre.co.uk Box office 01892 530613

 

World Book Day Costumes

The Wobbly Jelly has put together a definitive guide to surviving World Book Day. Whether you’re looking for some inspiration for a homemade costume or maybe you are in a complete whirl as you’ve left it to the last minute and are in need of a quick-fix, whichever it is the Wobbly Jelly has it covered.

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Homemade Costumes

Sophie (The Tiger Who Came to Tea – Judith Kerr)

How simple but effective is this gorgeous outfit from one of my favourite children’s books. I particularly love the multicoloured coloured tights. Her sister makes a delightful Tinkerbell too.

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Mrs Pepperpot (Mrs Pepperpot – Alf Proysen)

The classic tale of Mrs Pepperpot was first published in the 1950s but remains as popular as ever with young children.

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Great Big Little Panther (Peter Pan – J.M. Barrie)

Who wouldn’t have fun going to school in this wonderful costume, accompanied by the toilet roll accessory.

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Werewolf (Harry Potter – J.K. Rowling)

Do you have a Harry Potter fan in your house who wants to go as something a little different? Take inspiration from this costume.

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Posh Totty (St Trinians – Ronald Searle)

Another story that has delighted children for generations.The gorgeous poodle takes this outfit to a whole new level.

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Harry (Harry and The Bucketful of Dinosaurs – Ian Whybrow)

A simple costume that works particularly well if you have a Harry.

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Veruca Salt (Charlie and The Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl)

This gorgeous little lady is way too sweet to be Veruca Salt but wouldn’t it be fun to channel her for the day.

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Gangsta Granny (Gangsta Granny – David Walliams)

This is one of my favourite book day costumes. Easily identifiable and one that can be put together with little time and effort.

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Girl Pirate  (The Night Pirates – Peter Harris)

Who said pirates are just for boys. We Jelly Babies love the story of the fearsome girl pirates in The Night Pirates and this outfit was thrown together in minutes.

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Wendy and Tinkerbell – Peter Pan (J.M. Barrie)

What could be easier than a white nightie. It may require a pair of tights and pale cardigan at this time of year.

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Dorothy – Wizard of Oz (L. Frank Baum)

A simple blue gingham school dress, a toy dog and plaited hair is all that are required for this easy peasy costume but it’s the addition of red shoes and sweet wicker basket that make this little lady the perfect Dorothy.

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Pippi Longstocking (Pippi Longstocking -Astrid Lingren)

Pippi Longstocking’s signature plaits can be created in just a few minutes with a piece of garden wire securing them in place. A dress, accessorised with a pair of stripy tights would finish off the outfit perfectly.

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Hyena (The Lion King)

This little boy will be donning this hyena outfit on Thursday as his favourite book is one about the Lion King. It might not please the purists but the secret to helping a child learn to read is to let them read something they enjoy. Doesn’t he look fabulous?

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If you are short of time or just not feeling creative below you’ll find a whole heap of suggestions for Book Day costumes that take seconds to throw together.

Witch

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Winnie the Witch – Valerie Thomas

Meg and Mog – Helen Nicoll

Room on the Broom – Julia Donaldson

Policeman

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Cops and Robbers – Janet and Allan Ahlberg

A Day At The Police Station – Richard Scarry

Nurse

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You Choose – Pippa Goodhart, Nick Sharratt

This book is a great one to match to any costume you have and it’s loved by so many children.

Footballer

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Horrid Henry and the Football Fiend – Francesca Simon

Frankie’s Magic Football – Frank Lampard

Football Fever – Alan Durant

Dog

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Bottomly Potts from Hairy Maclairy – Lynley Dodd

Harry the Dirty Dog – Gene Zion

101 Dalmations – Dodie Smith

Elephant

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Elephant and the Bad Baby -Elfrida Vipont and Raymond Briggs

Dear Zoo – Rod Campbell

Horton Hears a Who – Dr Seuss

The Slightly Annoying Elephant – David Walliams

But no Elephants – Jerry Smath

Lion

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Dear Zoo – Rod Campbell

Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis

How to Hide a Lion – Helen Stephens

There’s a Lion in My Cornflakes – Michelle Robinson

Rabbit 

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Rabbit’s Nap – Julia Donaldson

The Velveteen Rabbit – Margery Williams

Little Grey Rabbit – Alison Uttley

Lettice – Mandy Stanley

Vampire

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The Little Vampire – Angela Sommer-Bodenburg

The Sleepless Little Vampire – Richard Egielski

 

If you want to know what the Jelly Babies will be dressing up as this year, you’ll just have to take a peek at our Facebook page on Thursday.

 

 

Share the love this Valentines Day (A recipe for Cherry Bakewell Jammy Dodgers)

Simple enough for the kids to make but sophisticated enough to be enjoyed by all. Happy Valentines Day from The Wobbly Jelly.

The Wobbly Jelly

As I’ve had many disastrous Valentines Days over the past two decades you would think I would treat the 14th of February with some sort of trepidation. But no, I continue to optimistically look forward to it, particularly since the children have been old enough to join in the fun.

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I am not sure if it was one too many years of not receiving an abundance of cards on the 14th of February, that led me to sweet talk a good friend in our first year at uni to hand make in the region of 20 Valentines Day cards, or whether it was in fact just sheer boredom. With only 8 hours of lectures and seminars a week to attend and the college bar inconveniently not opening until lunchtime, my friend didn’t take much persuading to be my accomplice. So we set about folding the card, cutting out hearts and writing a few…

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Mix a pancake, stir a pancake, pop it in the pan

 I adore Shrove Tuesday. For me it symbolises the start of the next set of festivities. Mother’s Day, Easter and in turn Spring are hot on its heels and we get to eat one of my all time favourite foods. Pancakes!

The littlest Jelly Baby celebrated her first pancake eating Shrove Tuesday with her big brother and seven of their buddies. I covered the table in a huge sheet of brown paper and put out bowlfuls of crayons to keep the tiny guests entertained while I set to work tossing the pancakes.

Here’s my couldn’t be simpler pancake mixture recipe complete with a sassy twist on the traditional lemon and sugar topping.

Pancake Mixture (enough for a family of 5)

4 Eggs

250g Plain Flour

300ml Full Fat Milk

300ml Tap Water

Whisk the ingredients together until the mixture is lump free and set aside while you assemble your chosen toppings.

Melt a little butter in a frying pan until it is sizzling and ladle in enough mixture to thinly coat the pan.

Gently push the edges with a spatula to loosen and shake the pan to free the pancake.

At this point toss the pancake as high as you dare.

Cook the other side until nice and crispy.

Serve immediately to the child who is most worthy.

Topping

 Gently heat 3 tablespoons of golden syrup with the juice of half a lemon. When warmed through add a dollop of the warmed citrussy goo to your pancake.

If you are feeling a little advant garde add a tiny pinch of ground ginger to the mixture.

Chocolate spread and banana, fresh berries and squirty cream and strawberry jam will also be on offer at Wobbly Jelly towers tomorrow.

The warmed zesty syrup in awesome addition to a Yorkshire puddings, admittedly when served as a pudding and not when served with roast beef and gravy.

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