Hello! Im the new Editor :)


Welcome to Mumsnet Oxford and Oxfordshire!

Im Anna and I am the new Editor. Im the lucky owner of a toddler and a baby, so I am really excited about filling our site with lots of lovely fun activities for children (and adults :)) of all ages!

Its my first week so bear with me while I get upto speed.

If you have any requests for things you would like to see on your site the get in touch:



Im thinking Mum and toddler baking events, teddy bears picnics (hopefully for charity – we could have a vote on which Mumsnet Oxford wants to support), baby in tow daytime cinema meetsToddler discos (yes really ! who has been to Eurocamp!!) and some Mummy Me time evening events with drinks, nibbles etc…. and the usual coffee and gossip meet ups!

Happy Mumsnetting!



Good GCSE results? Aiming for Cambridge or Oxford? Here’s what you need to do now!

Is your child proudly clutching excellent GCSE results of mostly As and A*s? Congratulations, and not just to you for so patiently supporting a hard-working Year 11. Having achieved top grades, that student is showing potential for a top-rated university, but you might be wondering what to do next. If you’re beginning to dream of Oxbridge (that’s a conflation of Oxford and Cambridge by the way), though, note that success will take some preparation. So, here are some things you can do to maximise your child’s chances after the big hug and the celebratory shopping trip:

1. Get ready

Be clear about the time scale. While the Oxbridge application process is more

straight-forward than most parents think, it’s best to start engaging with it early. DC

will have to include either Oxford or Cambridge (you cannot apply to both) in the

standard UCAS form and submit it by October of Year 13. This means she has to

make her course choice months before students only aiming for other universities do.

2. Time to prepare

If DC still feels hazy about Oxbridge, you want to have a little university talk even

earlier, ideally before the start of Year 12. Just like when you had that talk about

the birds and the bees, you may discover lots of misconceptions. Try to explain that

universities differ in more than just location or nightlife: top ones teach subjects

at greater depth, appeal to top employers and suit keen, rapid learners. Studying at

Oxbridge is not about going somewhere posh.

3. Do your research

Next, both of you may want to study a prospectus or two. Encourage DC to look

beyond school subjects or other familiar courses, which are often vastly over-
subscribed. By doing this in good time, you can ensure that your student’s A-level

subjects fit the course requirements or suit more than one course. Sixth formers can

usually still switch A-levels in the first weeks of Year12.

4. Read around

Oxbridge wants readers, but school work in the sixth form can be a seemingly endless

slog. So, DC needs to start supplementing school text books and website pages with a

few challenging books in the holidays. Try to ensure she has a library card or a clutch

of book tokens. Teachers, librarians and bookshop staff will be happy to suggest age-
appropriate titles.

5. Go in depth

A student keen to show interest in her chosen course may then want to look for

articles by a subject expert or watch a related online lecture. DC will find links to

both in my tweets @oxbridgentrance.

6. Get a life!

Applicants are no longer expected to shine at music or sport, but being able to

combine school work with a course-related hobby or demanding volunteer job still

goes down well. It can also build verbal skills for the last stage of the admissions

process, the Oxbridge interview. If DC’s school does not have a volunteering

scheme, try https://www.vinspired.com/

7. To road trip or not to road trip?

Should you go on a family outing to Oxford or Cambridge? Yes, if DC loves stylish

old buildings. Other students may need reassurance that Oxbridge life is actually quite

modern. So, being dragged through cobbled streets (colleges are not always open

to visitors) can be a turn-off. Your student may prefer one of the free, lively student

events listed on the Oxford or Cambridge website. Most include both a guided tour

and some application advice.


This is pretty much all you can do to lay the groundwork for success at this early stage.

The most contested courses and the pre-interview tests required for some courses may

need some extra preparation, but not until next year. Meanwhile, keep an eye on progress,

but try not to obsess about Oxbridge, as it will only make your student nervous. Instead,

you want to praise and enjoy those great GCSE results. Best of luck!

Elfi Pallis is the author of OXBRIDGE ENTRANCE: THE REAL RULES

http://tinyurl.com/mmrvjb6 . She also blogs Oxbridge advice at www.epallis.blogspot.com

and tweets links to course-related articles or online lectures @oxbridgentrance.

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Smartphones to video stream live footage to emergency services during emergency calls


Wow – not only is this a fabulous idea, but was also instigated by the husband of one of our lovely Mumsnet Local Editors. If you’re an Oxfordshire health professional or emergency service who would be interested in trialling this new service then please click through to their blog as they are looking for people to get involved in testing.

Originally posted on 999eye's Blog:

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My interview with Theatrical Director Richard Lewis


Mumsnet Berks interviews Richard Lewis, theatrical director of Peppa Pig & The Octonauts

Originally posted on Mumsnet Local Berkshire:


Octonauts Live has been adapted and directed by Richard Lewis, a man with a multitude of exciting projects under his belt including Peppa Pig Live and Lazy Town. I was given the opportunity to ask Richard Lewis some questions about Octonauts Live and all about directing theatrical versions of popular children’s TV shows and I think you’ll agree it makes very interesting reading. I can’t wait to see Octonauts Live! Mumsnet Berkshire is running a competition. You can WIN free tickets to go and see Octonauts Live! Details at the end!


Adaptor and Director OF OCTONAUTS LIVE UK TOUR 2014 – 15


A brand new children’s stage show from the producers of Peppa Pig Live!


Back in January when you were interviewed by the Telegraph about the production of Peppa Pig, you mentioned that most popular children’s TV programmes want…

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When Mumsnet Essex met with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg & Justine Roberts (Mumsnet CEO)


Because Amanda from Mumsnet Essex went to this meeting and we didn’t, so we thought we’d just let her tell the story!

Originally posted on Mumsnet Essex:


On Monday 30th June 2014, I was invited to head into London to discuss the new Flexible Working Rights with Mumsnet & Nick Clegg.

Up until now, the right to request flexible working hours has only been available for carers, or people who look after children.

This has now been extended to all employees.

Tuesday’s extension of the right to request the chance to work flexibly means more than 20 million employees can now benefit.

Flexible working helps people balance their work with responsibilities, keeping more people in long term employment and enabling companies to keep hold of top talent.

It is expected the new right will be of particular interest to older workers who want to work differently as they approach retirement and to young people entering the labour market who may want take up additional training or learning while they work.

As part of the right, employees can…

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Top Tips Tuesday – 5 ways to avoid tech shopping disasters

I don’t know about you, but I find nothing more stressful than trying to find the perfect piece of electronic technology to suit my purposes. Sod the “eleventh hour dress for your best friend’s wedding” – getting the right smart phone/smart TV/smart box is the most anxiety inducing activity I can think of: where everything is smart except – seemingly – you!

Oh no, wait, I tell a lie. There is just one more stressful thing than shopping for technology – talking my parents through shopping for technology. My dad is looking for a new phone at the moment. Just kill me now!

Maybe I should refer him to Richard Aster of My Gadget Hound – the personal shoppers with a difference who have kindly contributed this week’s Top Tips Tuesday on how to avoid those tech disasters. Just follow a few simple rules, says Richard, and you can make the right decisions.

My Gadget Hound is a tech personal shopping consultancy and is the only one of its kind in the UK.

1 – Take your time

OK, so time is exactly what you’ve not got a lot of, but there’s not much substitute for putting in the hours when it comes to researching what’s right for you. Apps promise to do all sorts of things, but there isn’t one clever enough to isolate a product that fits all your needs, nor one that can weigh up those vital ‘pro and con’ lists on the review sites.

2 – Get a Which? Subscription

This can pay for itself in no time if you’re a regular purchaser of consumer electronics or household items. Which? runs independent testing and post honest reviews online, but you can only access them in full if you’re a subscriber. Plus its print magazine (included in subscription) is particularly good at laying out all the options on one page, not to mention a good read full of money-saving tips. http://www.techradar.com/ is another good review site you can trust for some electronic items – we read it a lot!

3 – Learn when to stop

While our ‘take your time’ advice holds up to a point, you need to learn where to draw the line. There is always another web review, another good-looking deal on eBay, another banner advert to click on. And new models come out literally every day. Value your time and consider the opportunity cost of your shopping research. What’s an hour of your life worth to you? What do you pay your cleaner or gardener for 10 hours of work? If you’re not saving at least that much money with those extra 10 hours of research, ask yourself if it’s worth it. Or pay a personal shopper…

4 Keep track

Tech items usually have incredibly boring, unimaginative names. Lots of numbers and letters. They’re never going to stick in your mind. So create bookmark folders for each item you are considering as you go along. Put links to reviews, specs and retail deals in that folder. Otherwise you WILL curse when you can’t remember the name of that cool Samsung UE558000 TV you came across right in the beginning.

5 – Take to Twitter

Companies and retailers are very good at putting reams of text online. They’re terrible at answering an actual tech question only you’ve thought of. That only changes when they’re caught ignoring you in public. So use Twitter – it’s a godsend for consumers. Tweet them relentlessly till you get your answer. Same if your item lets you down and they fob you off with excuses. Don’t be shy – see the recent tweets from @mygadgethound to @nokia for a good example of how to get what you’re owed!


My Gadget Hound is the UK’s only personal shopper for technology. Based in Witney, it offers a worldwide recommendation service via phone or email. It also complains and fights on behalf of consumers whose products let them down.




01993 700 454

Review – a visit to the Regal Picturehouse in Henley Upon Thames

A trip to the cinema – especially as a family – is a rare treat for us.  It is mostly budget that restricts us, as we love watching films together, but for How To Train Your Dragon 2 we made an exception.
We saw the first HTTYD film just after our son was born and now, two and a half years later, it is easily our most-watched DVD, with everyone able to quote large tracts of dialogue and the toddler terrorist often plays games of make believe where he is Hiccup and our poor black cat is Toothless.  It is not hard to imagine, therefore, how keen we were to see the new sequel Regalpicturehouseand, even better, found that it was to be aired a week before general release at a cinema we had always wanted to visit.

The Regal Picturehouse in Henley-Upon-Thames is a traditional-feeling cinema.  As you go in there’s a foyer with a wide curving staircase leading up to the bar and ticket desk. The smell of sweets and popcorn hangs in the air, and the whole place has a sense of event that is rather lacking in the large multiplexes.  We had also hoped that the smaller screens and more intimate rooms would be less intimidating to the toddler terrorist who has only been to a couple of films before.

Image of the toddler at the cinema

The toddler terrorist – enjoying his popcorn before it all went wrong…

The seats were plush and comfortable, the 3D glasses provided were a mere 70p each (cheaper than some places) and came in terrorist-size – there was even a stack of booster seats available for those lacking in stature.  The staff were friendly, very helpful, and numerous enough that we weren’t kept waiting for anything.  We got settled in with our popcorn and glasses and waiting with heady anticipation for the first sight of Hiccup riding his Toothless… and that’s where it all went wrong.


The toddler has always been pretty fearless. Countless people have commented upon it. Lately, though, something has changed. “Please Mummy, I want to go out” started during the trailers. I took him out, then back in again when the husband assured me Hiccup had arrived. “Please Mummy, please Daddy, we go out? We go home? I scared Hiccup and Toothless.”

Not being a draconian parent I complied with his request and took him out, hoping to reassure him and return to the film before missing too much.  Trying very hard not to think of the money spent on this trip, and how it was a week’s worth of groceries, I bent down and chatted with him, but it soon became clear that he didn’t want to rejoin Daddy and see the film.

It is at this point that the Regal won my heart entirely and made me decide to write this review.  A young woman, who I assume was some kind of manager, came over to chat to us, spoke very kindly to my toddler, and offered to get him some colouring in to do. I nearly wept with relief. OK, I wouldn’t get to see the film, but at least the toddler terrorist would be happily occupied whilst Daddy got to see the film.  The manager flicked through a large A4 folder of printed out colouring in sheets and laid down an enormous tray of crayons, felt tips and pencils in every colour.  Toddler terrorist was in heaven.

As it happened Daddy shortly afterwards gave up on trying to watch the film, so I guess we’’ll just have to wait until the DVD comes out to find out what happened after the first 15 minutes – and miss the 3D rendering entirely. We were two bitterly disappointed grown-ups who perhaps should have known better, but we’ll know better another time (when we’ve saved up enough money). We’ll leave the toddler terrorist with Granny and go back to the Regal Picturehouse in Henley.


No compensation was received in return for this review. The venue did not invite us along for review. This is an entirely spontaneous spot review because we received exceptional service.

Book review – ‘Not Only The Good Boys’ by Jo Eames


So call me a philistine, but whilst I find history fascinating I find it easier to take on board when it’s folded in to a bit of frothy romance.  Perhaps it’s just the lack of brain power caused by continuing sleep deprivation, but I do like my facts well-blended with a bit of fiction and that’s exactly what I got in Jo Eames’ novel, ‘Not Only The Good Boys’.

Image of Major General Percy Hobart

Major General Percy Hobart

The book tells the story of (fictional) injured Commando, Lieutenant Mike Dixon when he gets posted to an admin position working for the maverick Major General Hobart, who, during the period in which the book is set, lived in the house in Oxfordshire which the author now inhabits.  Not many people will have heard of Major Hobart (Hobo) or his peculiar modifications to various tanks that were nicknamed collectively as ‘Hobo’s Funnies’, yet many historians believe it was entirely due to these wacky machines that the Allied Forces were successful in storming the beaches during the D-Day invasions.

Over the course of the novel you are taken through the struggles Hobart faces in getting funding and acceptance for his concepts from the War Office, yet he is very much a background secondary figure – and storyline – to the primary one of a frustrated romance between Dixon and the glamorous ATS driver of Hobo’s car, former debutante Charlie Carrington.  With the attention primarily focused on this most-human of stories, Eames manages to cleverly slip through some rather technical descriptions of the ‘Funnies’, not to mention some of the political wrangling going on behind the scenes in the lead up to the invasions – facts that were rendered all the more interesting to me by reading them over the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

The bobbin: one of Hobo's Funnies

The bobbin: one of Hobo’s Funnies

The characters are strong and well drawn, with witty and realistic dialogue and engaging relationships.  Whilst tragic events occur within the narrative, the author doesn’t linger over them in a maudlin manner, but touches on them lightly as just some terrible events amongst a great many more occurring: something that actually adds to the horror when you think back on it later.  I don’t want to give away too many plot details, but the tragedy that occurs during a training event was drawn entirely from real life and only came to light years later for reasons of morale. The thought of it is still haunting me a couple of weeks later.

There really is nothing negative I can say about this book.  In fact, as a mark of my esteem, I even passed it onto my mum to read, knowing that I would get it in the neck if she considered it below par, but I can gladly pass on her recommendations also.  Normally very wary of self-published novels, I am glad that this one bucks the trend and is not just very readable and engaging, but also appears to have been properly proofed and edited (in our neighbouring Gloucestershire, no less).

Something that I’ve never really considered judging in a novel before was the quality of the paper, but this book seems to have been printed on particularly nice stuff – thicker than your average, creamy smooth to the touch with really clear printing: a bonus, perhaps, for those like my mum who need to don spectacles in order to read.  My Cornish colleague, Rachel, might be glad to hear that it was printed in her neighbourhood – and a lovely job they seem to have made of it, too.  It’s only since I took on the job of Local Editor that I’ve been considering provenance of goods in the way that I have, and I was surprised to realise that this is the first book that’s been sent to me for review where the fully British (or English, even) production of the novel has been a selling point that was emphasised, but there it is: an English novel, written in Oxfordshire, about an Oxfordshire man, set in Yorkshire, Oxfordshire, London and Suffolk, proofed and edited in Gloucestershire and printed in Cornwall.



Oh, Just the School Starting Age Issue. . .


This is very much on my mind at the moment, as a good friend of mine is being, essentially, forced to send her child to school even though he would have been in the year below if she had, to quote “managed to cross her legs another 24 hours”. This issue of him being a whole year younger than some of his supposed peers is only exacerbated by some personal difficulties that have recently been diagnosed as autism. When schools have so little ability (or desire) to be flexible in such cases then we really need new policies to be issued from the top down. In that vein, I have re-blogged an article by my colleague over in Redbridge discussing the school-starting age in this country. Would really love to hear your thoughts on this, especially if you’re personally affected.

Camilla, Editor

Originally posted on London-on-Toast:

Excerpted from the University of Cambridge article “School Starting Age: the Evidence“:

Earlier this month the “Too Much, Too Soon” campaign made headlines with a letter calling for a change to the start age for formal learning in schools. Here, one of the signatories, Cambridge researcher David Whitebread, from the Faculty of Education, explains why children may need more time to develop before their formal education begins in earnest.

In the interests of children’s academic achievements and their emotional well-being, the UK government should take this evidence seriously

– David Whitebread

130924-back-to-school “Back to School”. Homepage banner image by Woodley Wonderworks via Flickr Credit: Nick Page from Flickr.

In England children now start formal schooling, and the formal teaching of literacy and numeracy at the age of four. However, the UK’s Department of Education states clearly that compulsory school age is five.  Children born in the summer…

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