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Things To Do Before I Turn 50

  (also known as my "TA-DA" list as opposed to a "to do" list) It was my 49th birthday a few days ago and this got me thinking. Any birthday that ends with a zero always feels a bit like milestone or a landmark and, when I hit the big "five-o" in 2022, I don't want huge parties or celebrations but I would like to have ticked a few things off my low-effort bucket list.   I see these things as a way to improve my mental and physical health, plus a few slightly off-the-wall experiences that would make for great memories.  Start running again and include the following: Lead a C25K group again  Participate in parkrun EVERY week where possible  < ongoing (now parkrun Run Director too) Visit local landmarks whilst running  Train for a long race - building up from 5k > 10k > 10 miles > half marathon, with a couple of longer trail races mixed in  Lose a lot bit of weight Post more on Instagram or give the blog a bit of a reboot < ongoing Look at

Review: Lacing Beads

John Crane Lacing Beads

Photo Credit: John Crane Ltd
I was asked by the lovely people at John Crane Ltd to test one of their products with our chief tester of toddlers toys, Anticyclone Amie.  We were sent the Nature Lacing Beads (from their "Branching Out" range) which help develop thinking skills and encourage hand/eye coordination.  They are aimed at the 2+ age group but Amie is 18 months old and managed to handle the wooden pieces with ease.

The aim of the product is to thread brightly coloured, chunky wooden shapes onto the red lace.  This set was called the "Nature" set and includes eight smooth circular beads and seven shaped wooden pieces.   As you can see from the photograph the shapes are two leaves, two flowers, a butterfly, a snail, a ladybird and a bumblebee.  Each shape is 2cm thick (just the right thickness for toddler hands) and is smoothly carved and brightly painted in inviting primary colours.  There is a round hole through the centre of each wooden bead and the lace has a wooden threader securely attached at one end.

To stop the beads from falling off the end of the lace, I knotted the plain coloured bead to the end of the lace and Amie took great pleasure in tipping the beads off the lace as I threaded them on but eventually joined in the threading.  The tactility of the beads is very encouraging and inviting and Amie found them very easy to handle.  We also had a good chat about each of the shapes and the colours - this encouraged a dialogue between myself and Amie.

I can see this is going to become a firm favourite at Nana's house and the box provided is study enough to store the beads in for the foreseeable future.

You can find this, and more products, on the John Crane website (I love their tag line: "timeless designs to inspire young minds").