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Let the Games Commence

The age of the Geek is nigh. Jim is extremely pleased that Chicken and Frog will be hosting a weekly board-games night, every Monday, 18.00-23.00.

We’re not talking Monopoly for hours on end,

monopoly (Photo credit: rustybrick) Not in our shop!

Oh no, this is a whole other level. We’re talking Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne and many other games that you may never have heard of.

Many hours of our lives have been lost to this game…

So, if you have a mean dice throw and the desire to take over worlds with tiny wooden figures, we are here to support you.

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It’s all adding up

Just a quick one tonight – but a jolly good one!


We have just met with a fantastic KS3/GCSE maths tutor, Deane Coe, who has agreed to work with us at Chicken and Frog. Deane tutored our eldest last year and I can’t praise him highly enough. He is extremely knowledgeable, patient and quite frankly, a bit of a miracle worker, because  he imparts his knowledge effectively, resulting in confident young mathematicians.


Math Fun


Deane will be working with us every Thursday evening (as of 25th October), from 6p.m.-7p.m. We want to bring affordable, high quality tuition to the children of Brentwood, so are offering sessions at the bargain rate of £15 per hour.


Literature Review is sortakinda Hell


I will also be tutoring in English from Wednesday-Friday, 3.40-4.30 and 4.40-5.30, again for just £15. Depending on demand, the English sessions available are from KS1 to GCSE.


Watch this space for details of KS2 maths tuition!




Please note that all tutorials are pre-booked and payable in advance and that each session will be for up to 4 pupils.

Email us to book a place


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Newsworthy news

I’ve had a big secret which I have been desperate to share with everyone and now, at last, I can. Mr Frog and I have been asked to be a part of ‘Gazette People’.


‘What’s that?’ I hear you ask.Well, thanks to the innovative thinking of Nev Wilson (editor), the Brentwood Gazette is getting a bit of a facelift and part of the plan is that local people (like us), will contribute on a regular basis, on a whole range of topics, such as literature (me), Geeky stuff (Mr Frog), fashion…it’s all very exciting and well worth checking out.

The first re-vamped edition hit the shops today and has a great mix of articles, from Stephen Mayo, Sylvia Kent and Ellie Flynn. If would like to get involved, you can contact Nev on the following email address


p.s. Our first column will be published in the 17th October edition. Let us know what you think!

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Let the countdown begin…

It’s all go here at Chicken and Frog as we are gearing up for our opening day. We’re going for the 20th October, so time is truly ticking now. Books are beginning to be ordered, shelving has been picked and, most importantly, I have a gorgeous purple satin dress for the launch party!

Our events page has been updated and is jam-packed full of glorious activities for everyone to enjoy. During the first two weeks we have decided to offer all of our Chicken and Frog sessions for FREE. Yes, that’s free. Crazy I know, but we want you to have a try of what’s on offer without paying out, especially during half term when money seems to slip rapidly through your fingers. The only event we are charging for is our awesome Halloween party, because there’ll be a ridiculous amount of cake and goodies available. Even so, it’s a mere £4 per child, so it’s a bargain.

A pumpkin carved into a jack-o'-lantern for Ha...
Spooky goings on at Chicken and Frog (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The party is for those aged 10+, so feel free to drop and run (leaving contact details) or you can hang around and join us in a glass of punch (alcohol free, sorry). This event must be pre-booked and pre-paid, so that we can ensure we have enough cup-cakes and goodies to last. The party includes games, a crafty session and spooky stories based on Alfred Noyes’ ‘The Highwayman‘.

If you’d like to book a place, email us at

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Going Loopy

To say that last night was surreal would be an understatement. I went from school to home, where I found that Max had lost his first tooth. Literally lost it; said tooth got stuck in an apple and he threw it away! It’s ok though, because he planned to do what Lola did in ‘My Wobbly Tooth Must Not Ever Never Fall Out‘ – go to sleep smiling!

From there I trundled off, somewhat reluctantly to Essex Boot Camp. It’s not that I don’t think that the expereince is rewarding, it’s just that I’m not a natural athlete and would much prefer to stay at home with a good book. However, I did go and I survived. Yes, I have now successfully dragged my way through two gruelling sessions and I can still feel my limbs, so it must be doing me some good, right?

As I fell into the car, the heavens opened, so I was grateful for the timing of the inclement weather, beacuse rain or shine, training is always outside.

Did I then go home for a well-earned soak in the tub? No, no I did not. Instead I pootled over to see the lovely Claire Mackaness for a two hour masterclass in crocheting for beginners. I think it’s fair to say that if there was a level below ‘beginner’ I would be firmly placed at the very bottom of the category, so I wasn’t holding out much hope.

Claire must have the patience of a saint, because I’m a bit cack-handed and have the tendancy to do everything the wrong way around. However, after a lot of gentle tution, I stopped trying to crochet backwards and managed to produce this (with some intervention),

My first efforts…must keep practising!

I’m hoping, with lots of practice and a great deal of help from Claire, I’ll end up being able to create something like this,

Finally, at 10.30, I got back home and soaked in a lovely bubbly bath, whilst reading Jojo Moyes ‘The Girl you Left Behind’. Loving it so far by the way. It’s due for publication on the 27th of this month, so do keep a look out for it.

I finished the evening off watching half of this week’s ‘Great British Bake Off’ and then collapsed in a crumpled heap into bed. Phew, what a bizarrely diverse day.

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Read All About It!

Just a quick update on our hatching of plans. I make no apologies for that pun, egg-spect many more to come! Oh alright, I’ll stop (for now).
It looks like we’re well on our way to an October opening which is very exciting to say the least. Please do look out for further details here, via Twitter @chickenandfrog or Facebook. Remember that the lovely @clairemackaness will be joining us and running a whole host of wonderful workshops.
That’s it for now, over and out.

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Confession time

Where do you like to read? For me, it’s the far corner of our squidgy sofa. I can rest my arm up against the side and there is a distinct bottom-shaped dip from several years of lounging. It’s perfect!

But, that’s not the only place I like to read. The sofa is great, however there can often be distractions; children for example or the telephone interrupting my little haven. I’m not good at reading in bed, I get the fidgets, so that’s out. So where oh where can I snatch a couple of minutes without being disturbed? The bathroom! I know it’s not a particularly high-brow experience, but some of my best reading takes place in that little room.

I can’t deny it any longer, I love my loo. It’s not spacious or stunningly decorated, but it has a lockable door and a selection of reading material to suit all tastes. In fact, I made a list of the current books on offer and found quite a varied range from a well-loved paperback edition of Pratchett‘s Sourcery,

to the superbly entitled ‘Why do Orangutans Burp?’ by Mitchell Symons.

I know that some people frown upon such behaviour, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with reading whilst abluting.* What I have found is that many of the books aren’t even mine; they belong to the children! I noticed an Enid Blyton in there this morning, neatly tucked behind Kinney‘s Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

Do you have any deeply dark reading habits that you’d like to share? Your secret is safe with me, I promise not to tell a soul.

*hand cleanliness is paramount in such a situation!

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A Little Diversion

I have been sent a copy of Jojo Moyes recent novel ‘Me Before You’. This is not a children’s book by any stretch, not even a teen’s read in my opinion, but I thought I’d share my review with you anyway, just in case you fancy trying something different.

This is a love story, it’s true, but not your conventional kind. Lou is wonderfully vibrant, I could picture her instantly and wanted her to break free from the constraints of her routine life. Will on the other hand, despite his terrible situation, took a lot more time to warm to. He’s difficult, at times cruel and not so easy to like.

Somehow, Moyes draws the reader in to the confusion of these intertwined characters and makes their story believable. I admit that I wept, and not just once. The story is so much more complex than the front cover suggests. Honestly, if I had seen it on a bookshelf I would have passed it by (sorry), because it gives the appearance of a slushy romance novel, which is just not my thing. However, you really should not judge a book by its cover, because ‘Me Before You’ certainly isn’t an easy read. You find yourself questioning all the way through, ‘What would I do…?’

What I really love about this book is the family dynamics which encircle the whole; they build up a sense of reality which makes the plot-line so much more believable. And the fact that the ending may not be entirely what you wish for, but it does make complete sense within the context, staying true to the characterisation which Moyes so beautifully constructs.


You can check out more reviews for this and other books via

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Changing Habits

As it’s the holidays, I have taken the opportunity to keep a closer eye on my children’s reading habits. It’s been a very interesting experience. A bit like some kind of weird Attenborough documentary, where the cheeky chimps are being tracked.

I haven’t taken notes or anything (even I am not that odd), but I have noticed several things which I hadn’t had such awareness of before.

For example, our eldest* went through a stage where all she read was Jacqueline Wilson. Give her a story with a broken family unit at its centre and she was happy. I hadn’t realised that her reading tastes have evolved and she is now reading a wider range of books than ever before. There’s nothing wrong with Jacqueline Wilson, I think she’s great and anything that gets your kids reading is fine with me, but I am still pleased to see that at last her horizons have broadened. As a result, her vocabulary has also improved. Hurrah!

Middle froglet has always been an avid reader and can often be located in a very small corner, hunched over a book. Enid Blyton is still high on the list, alongside virtually anything from fantasy to historical novels. But something has also changed for her. She is now avidly collecting ‘vintage’ Enid Blyton. No charity shop is left unturned in the search for ‘just one more’. I feel that I have created a bit of a monster. Has my slightly disconcerting ‘Alice’ habit transferred itself to one of my children? It would seem that perhaps it has.

And lastly, our youngest. He still absolutely loves stories, however now he can be found sitting on the sofa, reading away to himself, rather than just being read to. He has been reading books aloud all year (for school), but this is different. He has fallen into the world of being the private reader; curled up with a good book and immersing himself in the story. I’d forgotten how amazing that feeling is, when you witness a child discovering a sense of becoming the reader for the first time.

I couldn’t get a word out of him!

The journey from being the audience to becoming the reader is a complex one, which differs greatly from child to child. We have always read a great deal to our children and so they have been surrounded by high quality texts from birth. I am certain that their relationship with books has a lot to to do with the fact they are constantly encircled by them and so reading is a very natural part of everyday life. We always have reading before bed. Nowadays the girls read to themselves, whereas boy wonder is read to, but the premise is the same. You can’t finish the day off properly without the routine of reading, even if it’s just a few pages.

Linked into the routine of reading is play. Play has been encouraged through each stage of our children’s lives, whether it be dressing up as a cat at Bethnal Green Museum 

Taken during the wonderful Judith Kerr exhibition

or pretending to slay a dragon through the power of a die,

‘I will slay the beast, mwahaha.’

or trying your best to beat Dad!

Learning an Ancient Egyptian board game at the British Museum

I honestly believe that playing games which stretch your imagination, coupled with being read to will result in a real love of books. Go on, have a go, you know you want to.


* Our eldest froglet does exist but would be mortified if I uploaded a photo of her!

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A picture’s worth a thousand words

With all of the holiday activities going on it’s been a super busy summer for Chicken and Frog, even though we are not open yet! As you may know, together with Claire Mackaness, we have been providing storytelling coupled with arts & crafts activities throughout the summer and it’s been a blast.

Today was our last joint event of the summer. We wanted to produce something of a legacy for our grand finale, so we put our heads together and came up with a cunning plan. Under the title of ‘Brentwood’s Children’, Claire had the lovely idea of creating something like this:


So, we read lots of stories, to get the children thinking about how different we all are, whilst embracing the impact that such variety has on the world we live in.

Lots and lots of lovely books

We wanted to celebrate diversity and inclusion in Brentwood, so we encouraged the children to make paper plates portraits of themselves, using skin-toned crayons and an array of crafty bits and pieces. I think that you will agree that they did a grand job:

Happy, happy, happy!

The next stage will be for these glorious creations to be displayed for all to see in the shop window. What a wonderful way to celebrate how great our kids are.