Monday, 30 March 2020


AZIAM Yoga Girlz Dolls

AZ I AM Girlz is a girls yoga brand which supplements teaching with a wide variety of products designed to promote positive self-awareness. This includes a range of seven 12 inch dolls with enough articulation to actually carry out those yoga poses! They are made from recycled plastic, with rooted hair and screened faces.

You can purchase the dolls online via, with prices starting from $17.95.

The Toy Box Philosopher did an a really detailed review of Alanna. Just check out all that glorious articulation!

AZIAM Girlz Toybox PhilosopherToybox Philosopher AZIAM Girlz Review

AZIAM Asana Yoga GirlAZIAM Dara Singer Dancer

★ Asana Yoga Girl - box front / contents / box back.
★ Dara Singer Dancer - box front / contents / box back.

AZIAM Niyama Nature GirlAZIAM Pratya Zen Girl

★ Niyama Nature Girl - box front / contents / box back.
★ Pratya Zen Girl - box front / contents / box back.

AZIAM Sama the Healthy ChefAZIAM Yama Surfer Girl

★ Sama the Healthy Chef - box front / contents / box back.
★ Yama Surfer Girl - box front / contents / box back.

AZIAM Girlz Prana DollAZIAM Dyana

These two are no longer listed on the website so are presumably discontinued:

★  Prana - box front / box back.
★  Dyana - box front / box back.

AZIAM The Dolly Alanna

AZIAM also have a Soul Model line which currently consists of a single doll.

★ The Dolly Alanna - box front / contents / box back.

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Sunday, 29 March 2020

This Week - 29/03/2020

Don't Exist - Live

What a week! Last Friday it was perfectly safe (allegedly) to send your child to school - today the country's on lockdown.

Marianna and I self-isolated for the week because I felt like I was coming down with a cold. Turns out it was just a cold as I've not developed a cough or had a high temperature. (I've scarcely managed to break 36°C.) On Saturday we went out for a walk for the first time and dropped off a pot Marianna had made for my mum and dad. We returned weighed down with enough chocolate to sink a ship after M complained I had refused to stockpile for her sweet tooth...

The worst part of the week - worse than feeling utterly useless as other councillors deliver food and stuff, and worse than trying to dream up ways to fill hours of home schooling - has definitely been seeing Marianna scared and upset. She keeps asking who she'll live with if we die, and whether or not it will hurt to die from coronavirus. :( We did clapping for the NHS from her bedroom even because she was freaking out we'd die if we went out on the doorstep, complete with the likely timescale.

We watched the Operation Ouch Q&A a few times but by Friday I decided we'd just avoid the news and live TV so she doesn't see it. I mean, I don't want to simply pretend it's not happening, but at five there's only so much of it she can understand and she's absorbing everything she hears about it like a sponge.

In other news I started a new Kindle Unlimited subscription for a distraction. I've got a bunch of UFO books and some true crime lined up ready to read this week. Anthony's been applying for jobs with all the supermarkets as most are taking on at the moment, so fingers crossed on that score. Despite Natwest so very kindly - heh - charging just 19.89% APR on overdrafts until June it's still an absolute imperative to get out of it ASAP.

Deal of the Week -

15% off at poundtoy with referral link / code

On the blog I wrote a guide to Kerusso's God's Girlz dolls as well as posts about Marianna's Sindy Surprise House, and my five favourite fashion trends.

I've also been updating a rundown of Torfaen's temporary services every day and put together a list of 50 free Welsh language resources.

Song of the Week -

Games Without Frontiers - Peter Gabriel

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This Week - Weekly Overviews

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Home School Timetable

Home School Timetable

Previously I'd only ever spent about 30 seconds considering home schooling before deciding, actually, I'm more than happy to delegate that responsibility to the education system. Now the choice has been taken away and we're trying to adjust to the new regime.

9:30 - 10:00 am, Dancing

Marianna gets to pick some songs for us to dance to. I get to dance and sort out the washing.

10:00 - 10:30 am, Welsh

We're doing 30 XP points a day on Duolingo and then watching a cartoon or two in Welsh. (I've got a post listing 50 Free Welsh Language Resources if you're looking for inspiration.)

10:30 - 11:15 am, School Work

AKA the tasks sent home from Marianna's class teacher. Alternates between maths, literacy, and other subjects.

11:15 - 11:45 am, Snack Time

11:45 am - 1:00 pm, Home Project

Typically a video explainer, some vocab, drawing a picture or two, and then doing a craft or carrying out an experiment. Next week we've got making a lip balm, growing a crystal, sand art, a drawing competition, and making our own volcano!

1:00 - 2:00 pm, Lunch / Free Time

AKA Marianna gets to be reunited with her beloved tablet...

2:00 - 2:30 pm, Trampoline

2:30 - 3:00pm, Reading with Daddy

3:00 - 3:45 pm, Games / Singing / Crafts

How is your homeschool timetable looking?

Friday, 27 March 2020

Friday Five: Favourite Fashion

Friday Five

Five of my favourite fashions throughout history...

#5. Batwing Sleeve

Nothing says comfort like slouching around in a batwing sleeve.

batwing sleeve

#4. Pussy Bow Blouse

If it comes with a bishop sleeve, so much the better.

pussy bow blouse

#3. Shoulder Pads

Power dressing for the win.

shoulder pads

#2. Gibson Girl

I love the whole Edwardian silhouette, whether it's the practical blouse and skirt or frilly summer dress. It always looks so elegant.

Gibson Girl

#1. Circle Skirt

There is only one downside to the circle skirt - ironing it!

Circle Skirt

What is your favourite look? Let me know in the comments! :)

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Friday Five

Thursday, 26 March 2020

50 Free Welsh Language Resources

50 Free Welsh Language Resources

Unlike literacy and maths, Welsh really isn't a subject we'll be using everyday without a concerted effort to do so. Every morning we've been doing three Duolingo lessons with Marianna - challenging for me and repetition of basic words and concepts for her - and then watching a couple of Welsh language cartoons to listen to the rhythm of the words and so on.

Here is a list of free Welsh language resources from around the web, ranging from GCSE revision guides to adult basics to children's cartoons uploaded to YouTube. Hopefully you'll be able to mix and match to suit your own needs over the next few weeks and months.

(I'd normally direct people to places like Sain Wales to buy hard copy media, but they're closed for the duration and we should try to lighten the load on the postal service to essentials besides.)

Apps. Handy rundown of Welsh language kids' apps from Montgomery Church in Wales School.

Atebol. Welsh language story time on YouTube.

Babi Siarc. There is no escape! I've got lyric sheets for it and other kids' songs HERE.

BBC Bitesize. GCSE Welsh language revision guides covering maths, science, ICT, and more.

BBC Radio Cymru. What it says on the tin.

Catchphrase. Resources for adults from the BBC - this is an archived page and various flash elements are no longer accessible.

CBeebies Cymraeg. Games, clips, colouring sheets, etc, for a range of CBeebies shows.

Ciwb. Welsh language lessons.

Clic. S4C's On Demand service. They have some pretty good shows for all ages.

Criw Celf. Learn to draw with cartoonist Huw Aaron.

Cwmni Da. YouTube channel with lots of clips from various Cwmni Da productions, including performances from Noson Lawen.


Cyw. The S4C equivalent of CBeebies; there are lots of little games to play and kid's shows to watch, usually with English subtitles available. The current line up includes Welsh language versions of The Large Family, Peter Rabbit, Peppa Pig, Octonauts, Bing Bunny, and lots more.

Deri Deg (Rocky Hollow). 1980s cartoon available on YouTube.

Dicwm Dacwm. S4C nursery rhyme show from 1990, find it on YouTube.

Dref Wen. Selection of free Welsh language children's audiobooks, including favourites like The Hungry Caterpillar and The Gruffalo.

Duolingo. This is a gamified language learning resource available on desktop and as an app - check out our full review of it. We have been using it for our daily Welsh practice but they have 35 different languages to choose from.

Ffalabalam. 1980s S4C live action pre-school show, there are a fair few episodes up on YouTube.

Gelert. 2007 animated story of Gelert with English subtitles.

Golwg360. Welsh language news site.

Gwersi Ukelele Gyda Mei Gwynedd. Learn ukelele with Mei Gwynedd.

Hedd Wyn (Blessed Peace). 1992 anti-war biopic, available in full with English subtitles on YouTube.

Kindle. There are a few free Welsh ebooks available on Amazon, and lots of them are available to borrow if you have a Kindle Unlimited subscription. There are also a few dozen Welsh language ebooks available on Project Gutenberg, and Archive of Our Own even has some Welsh fanfiction for a variety of different fandoms.

Welsh Flag Details of face to face Welsh language courses and various digital resources for adults.

Learn Welsh Games. Selection of simple games to get you working on your Welsh vocab skills. Similar games are also available at My Languages and Master Any Language.

Mudiad Meithrin. Early years' Welsh medium specialists with links to various free resources.

Music. Welsh music has so much more to offer than nursery rhymes and male voice choirs. Here's New Sound Wales' top 100 list to get you started.

Pacey. Curated list of Welsh language kids' activity ideas. Bilingual online magazine for adults.

Patagonia. 2010 Welsh-Argentine film available on YouTube.

Pobl Tresgidie (The Shoe People). Retro kids' cartoon available on YouTube.

Porc Peis Bach. Various episodes of this 1960s set family comedy drama are available on YouTube.

Primary Resources. Small selection of primary school Welsh language resources.

Radio. Aside from the BBC there are plenty of community radio stations broadcasting in Welsh. Check out Cymru FM, Radio Beca, Môn FM, and Capital Cymru.

Rala Rwdins. 1990s live action kids' show based on the books of the same name, available on YouTube.

Rhosyn a Rhith (Coming Up Roses). 1986 comedy film available in four parts on YouTube.

Sali Mali. You can run but you can't hide from one of Wales' most ubiquitous kids' characters. There are lots of episodes of the live action Caffi Sali Mali on YouTube at the moment.

Fireman Sam

Sam Tân (Fireman Sam). You can find episodes of the new CGI and the (far superior) stop motion versions on YouTube.

Siôn Corn (Father Christmas). Welsh language version of the 1991 adaptation of Raymond Briggs' children's book.

Slici a Slac (Toucan 'Tecs). 1990s S4C cartoon available on YouTube.

The National Library of Wales - Newspapers. Searchable collection of historical newspapers from across Wales.

Thomas y Tanc (Thomas the Tank). Lots of Welsh language Thomas the Tank Engine episodes on YouTube.

Twinkl provides lesson plans for primary aged children, including lots of Welsh language resources. You can access some 40,000+ free resources every day of the year, but at the moment Twinkl is offering free premium membership for all with code UKTWINKLHELPS. They have a good overview of everything they can offer HERE.

Tylluan Wen (White Owl). Welsh literature GCSE set text; you can watch the 1997 film version on YouTube.

Urdd Gobaith Cymru. Various tutorials for activities - from baking to singing - with the Welsh language youth organisation.

Welsh Classics. Scanned versions of some early Welsh literature, including the first book to be published in Welsh and the first full translation of the bible.

Wicipedia. Welsh language version of Wikipedia.

Wil Cwac Cwac. 1980s S4C cartoon available on YouTube.

WJEC Resources. Welsh second language and a few other Welsh medium resources from the WJEC exam board.

Y Mabinogi. 2003 mixed live action and animated children's film with English subtitles.


Y Sgerbyde (Funnybones). 1990s S4C cartoon available on YouTube. Welsh language podcasts gathered together in one place.

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Welsh Language / Iaith Cymraeg

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Sindy Surprise House

Sindy Surprise Villa House

Sindy's Surprise Villa House is a three room fold out 1/6 scale doll house from 1996. Here are some photos from Amazon of how it looks straight out of the package:

Sindy Surprise HouseSindy Surprise House Kitchen
Sindy Surprise House Living RoomSindy Surprise House Bedroom

My mum gave Marianna a well played with one this week and I've got to admit that I'm super impressed with it! In the kitchen you can open the doors of the fridge and freezer, the washing machine, and the cooker. Plus you can slide the hob on and off, and slide the kitchen tap over to have the sink empty or full.

Sindy Surprise Villa Kitchen

The living room is missing its fold out sofa, but there are still little surprises to be found - you can pop a video out of the VCR, and the CD player and tape decks open.

Sindy Surprise Villa Living Room

My favourite room has to be the bedroom with its en suite shower though. The wardrobe folds down to form a bed and if you pull the tab at the window you can change the view from day to night!

Sindy Surprise Villa Bedroom

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My Doll Houses

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Coronavirus Torfaen

Not Out and About In Torfaen

Links to and brief overviews of up to date info on what's happening in Torfaen.

For council services information, check out Torfaen's special coronavirus webpage. All customer care centres are closed, instead you can apply for things online, email, or ring 01495 762200.

Wales is currently on a 'soft' lockdown for three weeks with all non-essential high street stores (essential = supermarkets/food shops, newsagents, pharmacies, bicycle shops, banks, post offices, home and hardware stores, pet shops, vets, funeral homes, laundrettes/dry cleaners, and petrol stations) closed and bans on public gatherings of more than two people not from the same household. If you are not a key worker you can still go out once a day to exercise, buy food and / or medicine, attend medical appointments, and to look after vulnerable people. Police have the power to fine and disperse public gatherings, but for the moment it is essentially operating on a trust basis. For updates follow @fmwales.

For more on the general situation follow Nick Thomas-Symonds, Lynne Neagle, and Anthony Hunt - Torfaen's MP, AM, and Council Leader.

Most areas have regular and coronavirus community pages on Facebook too. I'm on Northville Community Group, Pontnewydd Park and Village, and Cwmbran Coronavirus Support.

If you have any info you want added / have anything I can help with drop me an email at or, or tweet me at @jess__powell.

Covid 19


Torfaen comes under Aneurin Bevan University Health Board. Vaughan Gething (Welsh Government Health Minister) has announced that the new Grange University Hospital in Croesyceiliog will open a year early to provide an extra 350 beds for Covid-19 patients. Meanwhile, all ABUHB hospital visiting has been stopped, bar a single parental/guardian visitor for children on in-patient wards and a birthing partner for deliveries.

Public Health Wales posts an update of Welsh cases and deaths every day at around 2pm, along with the latest guidance on social-distancing and testing - you can find them on THIS PAGE.

If you think you have coronavirus the advice is to stay home for at least 7 days and drink plenty of fluids. If your symptoms grow worse and you feel you cannot cope at home, ring 111. There may be a considerable wait on the line, but please only ring 999 if it is a life-threatening emergency.

For other issues, most GP surgeries are operating a triage system for urgent appointments only, and many of the appointments that do go ahead will be taken over the telephone or video link. Similarly nursing appointments will only be given for essential services - e.g. Cwmbran Village Surgery lists those as INR/Warfarin & High Risk Drug Monitoring, Urgent or clinically needed Blood tests, Urgent ECG's, Depo-Provera Injections, Dressings/Packings/Removal of Stitches, B12 Injections, Prostate Cancer Injections, and Childhood Immunisation. Check your GP's website for individual restrictions.

Repeat prescriptions are generally operating normally but if you need to change / update / renew you should probably brace yourself for long wait times on the phones if you're registered at a surgery without a dedicated online prescription service. Pharmacies remain open, albeit with social distancing restrictions, and if you have a scheduled hospital, etc, appointment they ask for you to wait to be contacted with details rather than clogging up the phone lines with enquiries.

Social shielding details are still being fine tuned by Welsh Government with the expectation that people will be contacted some time this week.

Disability reviews and reassessments for the DWP have been suspended for three months.

Gwent Drug & Alcohol Service are still operating on a reduced basis. The needle exchange at The Lighthouse in Pontypool is staying open.

Anyone over 70 in Wales can register with Age Cymru, free of charge, to receive a regular telephone call from the charity in either English or Welsh.  All you have to do is call the Age Cyrmu advice number on 08000 223 444 or email For other third sector initiatives, check out TVA's - Torfaen Voluntary Alliance - website.

For real time updates follow @AneurinBevanUHB, @PublicHealthW, @TheGDS, and @VaughanGething on Twitter.



If your child is eligible for free school meals, you can get a week's worth of food to make lunches - see HERE. From April 6th money will be paid directly into your bank account instead; you need to fill out a form HERE.

Crownbridge, the Pupil Referral Unit and the SNRBs are remaining open, while mainstream provision is being restricted to Blaenavon Heritage, George Street, Llantarnam and Blenheim Road primary schools and Croesyceiliog Secondary for the children of key workers - Health Care staff, Social Care and Care Home Staff, and Police, Fire and Armed forces personnel. For more details on eligibility see THIS PAGE. (From Monday 30th applications from other key worker categories will be considered.)

Most exams have been cancelled and grades will be awarded based on teacher assessment, predicted grades, and potentially other measures. More information will be announced by Welsh Government in due course.

Individual schools are providing online learning resources for pupils.

The Children's Commissioner for Wales has set up an online hub with hints and tips for activities, etc.

I've put together a list of 50 free online Welsh language resources.

CCYP (Cwmbran Centre for Young People) are offering online courses on a range of topics for people aged 16-25. Email for more info.

For real time updates follow @wgmin_education, @torfaencouncil, and individual schools on Twitter.



Stagecoach South Wales are operating on a temporary timetable from Wednesday March 25th until further notice; the X24 will run every 20 minutes. There are no Stagecoach buses running on Sundays. Phil Anslow Buses are operating Saturday timetables for all their services. Newport Bus are also operating all services on a Saturday timetable, but if you're an emergency services worker in Cwmbran they are offering free alternative transport if it means you can't get to work - email your contact details, workplace and shift times to

Transport for Wales are running reduced rail services (aka Sunday timetables) - insert joke about not knowing it could get any worse here - for essential travel only. NHS workers travel free.

Taxi operators are currently running services more or less as normal. See Dragon Taxis for more info. NHS workers get a £1.50 discount on every journey.

For real time updates follow @StagecoachWales, @anslowcoaches, @NewportBus, @transport_wales, and @DragonTaxisNPT on Twitter.

Housing and Bills


Landlords - social and private alike - will not be able to evict tenants for at least the next three months. Homeowners and landlords with buy to let mortgages can apply for a three month mortgage holiday by contacting their bank directly. There is still no word on rent protections for tenants, though if you are with a RSL (registered social landlord) speak to them and they will be able to put a support plan in place.

For Melin email or, if it's an emergency, ring 01495 325333. They are regularly updating their temporary service webpage HERE. For Bron Afon you can email or they have a non-emergency contact form; you should get a reply within three days. For emergency issues, call 01633 620 111. They are updating their news pages HERE.

If you are facing homelessness or need urgent advice contact the Torfaen Gateway Team on 01495 766949. For help with benefit applications and such you can contact Torfaen Citizen's Advice on 01633 876121 or 0300 330 2117 to arrange a telephone appointment.

All current Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) entitlements ending at the end of March or beginning of April will automatically be extended until October 4. Renewal applications will be in September. If you are struggling to pay your council tax contact Torfaen ( / 01495 762200) so they can look into your potential eligibility for council tax reduction and other benefits.

If you're struggling to pay your energy bills, ring your supplier as you may be eligible for emergency credit. Similarly, if you're on a key or card meter they can take payments over the phone and / or send out preloaded credit for those unable to purchase any.

The DWP has set up a coronavirus and Universal Credit advice page HERE. You can receive up to a month's advance without attending a jobcentre.

Waste and recycling collections are currently running as normal - though tissues and wipes must go into general waste bins, not recycling boxes. Bulky item and green bin (garden waste) collection has been suspended for the duration.

For real time updates follow @MelinHomes, @BronAfon, and @torfaencouncil on Twitter.



If your child is eligible for free school meals, you can get a week's worth of food to make lunches - see HERE. From April 6th money will be paid directly into your bank account instead; you need to fill out a form HERE.

Community meal services are running as normal.

Foodbanks are open but struggling for donations. The Council has funds to provide food to them - at the moment it's just the matter of finding the bulk stock to buy. CoStar Cwmbran has emergency food parcels available; ring them on 01633 869227 for more info.

Local restaurants still offering delivery include:
 - Domino's Cwmbran.
 - Elachi Cwmbran.
 - Family Kebab Cwmbran.
 - Kaspa's Cwmbran.
 - Khan Tandoori Cwmbran.
 - Koks Wok Newport.
 - Mr. Chippy Cwmbran.
 - Page's Fish and Chips Cwmbran.
 - Papa John's Cwmbran.
 - Pizza Hut Cwmbran.
 - Tamarind Cwmbran.
 - Yummies Cwmbran.

Cwmbran Fresh Produce - 01633 833856 - can deliver fruit and veg.

Torfaen council is putting together a directory of local shops and food businesses who are offering home delivery. For inclusion, send your business name, website address, contact number, type of food on offer, and delivery area to

Supermarkets (check links for vulnerable and NHS hours):
 - Aldi Cwmbran.
 - Asda Cwmbran.
 - Farm Foods Pontypool.
 - Heron Foods Cwmbran.
 - Iceland Cwmbran. (9-10am for the vulnerable; 5-6pm for NHS)
 - Iceland Pontypool.
 - Lidl Cwmbran.
 - Morrisons Cwmbran.
 - Sainsbury's Cwmbran.
 - Tesco Pontypool.

Other places you can still get food home delivery from:
 - Allplants.
 - Approved Food.
 - Balance Box.
 - Clearance XL.
 - Cut Price Barry's.
 - Hello Fresh.
 - Jane Plan.
 - Marco Meals.
 - Mindful Chef.
 - Morris's of Usk Farm Shop.
 - Muscle Food Meat.
 - No. 1 Food Prep.
 - Nourish Fit Food.
 - Riverford.
 - Star Bargains.
 - The Fish Society.



It's all closed...

Library books will be automatically renewed, and you can still access a number of online library resources. The library blog is also worth checking out for further info of literary resources around the web.

Torfaen Leisure Trust are posting full length workout vids to their YouTube channel - so far they have pilates, tai chi, weights, and zumba. The staff at TLT are also available to chat to vulnerable and older customers for reassurance - give them a ring on 01633 627100 or email

If you see any anti-social behaviour or large groups of people together, report it to

Playparks, etc, are locked but canalside walks and so on are still accessible. Cemeteries are remaining open from 9am to 5pm.

Torfaen Museum are asking residents to write up their school memories and email them in - along with any photos they might have - to as part of an ongoing project.

For real time updates follow @TorfeaenLibrary, @TorfaenLeisureT, and @Torfaen Museum.

Not Today Covid-19

Monday, 23 March 2020

God's Girlz

God's Girlz Dolls by Kerusso

Kerusso is a Christian clothing company from the USA. In 2009 they produced a small line of 12 inch fashion dolls designed to be a wholesome alternative to Barbie. At launch there were three dolls - Sarah, Hannah and Abigail - then in 2010 they were joined by a new friend named Imani.

In a November 2009 article with the Washington Times Kerusso said:

“A lot of parents have looked at the fashion dolls that are out there encouraging girls to be something they are not,” says Chris Rainey, vice president of marketing for Kerusso, an Arkansas-based company that makes Christian products, including a line of dolls known as God’s Girlz. God’s Girlz recently introduced a black character, Imani, to its line of dolls. Imani joins Abigail, Sarah and Hannah in bringing girls a fashion doll with a message, Mr. Rainey says. “God’s Girlz are fashionable, yet modest,” he says, “Their body shapes are not disproportionate. This is a doll that any mom or dad is going to feel comfortable giving to their child.”

God’s Girlz have a more overt message, too. Take Abigail, the line’s rocker chick who wears a “Pick Jesus” T-shirt under her “leather” jacket. Additional accessories for the dolls include T-shirts that say “I’m a God’s Girl,” along with more typical fashion doll accoutrements such as mini hairbrushes and cell phones.

God's Girlz Dolls

★ Sarah - box front / box back.
★ Imani - box front / box back.
★ Abigail - box front / box back.
Hannah - box front / box back.

There were also two fashion packs available:

★ Pack A - box front / box back.
★ Pack B - box front / box back.

God's Girlz Fashion PackKerusso God's Girlz Fashion Pack

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