Monday, 29 July 2013

@EastKentMum meets Charles & Camilla

Royalty and a Reading Fairy in #Whitstable!

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall came to Whitstable this morning. After visiting the harbour and Whitstable Lifeboat crew (to celebrate their 50th anniversary), they enjoyed stories and activities for local children. It was quite an audience for my first public storytelling session for my new business Reading Fairy. When we sang "12345, Once I caught a fish alive", I was amused when Prince Charles said he recognized it. I snatched a rather cheeky moment to suggest he will probably get to know the rhyme even more now (in his new role as grandfather). I wonder if he and Camilla will sing it to Prince George? Of course they will - it's a classic!

Here I am storytelling with other local mums and friends.
(Thanks Rebecca for the photo!)
The Duchess of Cornwall & charity Beanstalk

I'm delighted that The Duchess of Cornwall took the time to come and hear the stories and rhymes the local children were sharing with me. Singing rhymes and reading to young children is critical in forming a strong foundation for learning to read. As co-founder of new business, Reading Fairy, spreading the word about the importance of learning to read and loving reading is core to our mission. Although we didn't speak about it, I know The Duchess of Cornwall is also passionate about children's reading. She is patron of the charity Beanstalk, which arranges for reading volunteers to go into schools and help children who have fallen behind with their reading.

With 1 in 6 children leaving primary schools in Kent unable to read and write to the required basic level, Beanstalk has launched the "Get Kent Reading" campaign. If you're interested in becoming a reading volunteer locally or want to know how you can fund raise or donate visit

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall is patron of
Apologies to local families who came for Beach Hut Tales 

I'm really sorry that the Beach Hut Tales were cancelled today between 12-2pm due to circumstances beyond my control. The plan had been to run from the storytelling event at the yacht club to Westbeach for 12-2pm today but there were delays due to the royal visit. I will be storytelling for Reading Fairy at The Beach Hut Tales Tuesday and Wednesday this week and hope to see you there.

Local author Cassie Stafford will be reading from her new book on Thursday and Friday. I hope to see you there (and apologise in person!). Or you may see me and the boys crabbing at around 4 pm today.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

#Whitstable Oyster Festival 2013

My family and I are preparing for this year's Whitstable Oyster FestivalYou can follow me on Twitter @EastKentMum for updates as I enjoy the festival with my family and friends. 

Prince George's grandparents are coming to Whitstable

Prince Charles and Camilla.
Photo found via Google search.
I've just read via The Canterbury Times that Prince George's grandparents, Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall will be attending the festival on Monday. One of the key reasons is that it's the 50th anniversary of Whitstable Lifeboat Station. Happy Anniversary Whitstable RNLI!

There's a Reading Fairy in Whitstable too!

I've just launched Reading Fairy with reading expert Charlotte Raby. We help parents, grandparents and carers support their child's reading from birth to starting school.

Reading Fairy will be storytelling at this year's Whitstable Oyster Festival for different age groups at The Beach Hut Tales. It includes Sensory Storytime for Under 1s at 12:30pm. Check out times and details on the Reading Fairy website. 

If you're interested in giving your child the best foundation for reading then take a look at this infographic about Reading Fairy, courtesy of In a Nutshell Studio. Pre-school classes coming to Whitstable soon! 

And finally, an apology ...

Finally, apologies for my lack of blogging. I'm in the process of launching a new site, so this blogspot will slowly disappear. More on that soon ...

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Gaming & Education at #GEEK2013 #Margate #Kent

Should video gaming play a part in our kid's education?
For over a decade now I have followed with interest debates about whether or not new technology should play a part in children’s learning. We have seen the influx of millions of pounds of hardware and software into schools, heard the debates as to whether or not handheld devices should be allowed in the classroom, questioned the effectiveness of computer suites versus classroom computers, and much more. Most recently, educationalists like Sue Palmer have written about the negative impact television and video gaming has on children’s well being and development. And neuroscientist Professor Susan Greenfield has suggested that digital technology may be damaging our brains. This last point has since been challenged in a report by Nominet Trust (2012), a charity dedicated to widening internet access. The debate continues.

Addressing concerns about children and new technology
As a mum of two little boys, daughter of a primary school teacher and publisher of print and digital books, I regularly hear concerns raised by parents and teachers about new technology. The question is, how can we address these concerns? One option is to ignore that a digital revolution has taken place and is continuing to evolve, thereby not equipping our children with the key skills and knowledge required for a safe and prosperous future. Another option is to ignore concerns about internet safety and the impact violent games have on children’s social and emotional development. I plan to engage with the facts and allow digital technology to be a part of my life and my children’s lives in a safe and fun way – and one which equips them for the workforce of the future.

Just the other day, I was delighted to be tweeted by a GCSE Geography class from a local school asking whether or not I would like an airport to be built near Whitstable. They had set up an online survey where I could post my opinions and vote for or against the airport. This was a simple and brilliant way of using social media to engage pupils with a topic they were studying. At this point, I imagine most people reading my article feel quite comfortable with the idea of new technology being used by a teacher in the classroom. But what if I were to suggest teachers use gaming in their lessons? What do teachers and parents think about that?

Gaming: The Future
The Horizon report (2011) predicts that augmented reality and game based learning will be more widespread in education over the next few years. Pearson Education’s report (2012) highlighted a call for a reform of the education system – one which reflects the media-rich, ubiquitous world our children inhabit. There is also a move to not only demonstrate the motivational outcomes of using game based learning in education but to demonstrate real learning outcomes. Could it be that our traditional curriculum, and, in particular, our testing regime, push us away from the benefits of digital technology? These are truly interesting times and I look forward to thinking about, challenging and discussing these issues whilst playing at GEEK2013, Margate, UK.

Click GEEK2013 to find out more about this amazing event!

Join the debate:
I will be speaking at the GEEK2013 family event on Sunday 24th February and look forward to you joining in the debate on the use of new technology and gaming to support children’s learning in the home and at school.

If you’re interested in finding out more, check out:

About me, Emily Guille-Marrett
I have commissioned and published print and digital products for some of the biggest global companies and imprints in the publishing industry including Pearson Education, Penguin Children's Books and Oxford University Press. I am a graduate of the University of Kent and have recently moved to East Kent to set up a publishing company.

Please note:
This article was written to accompany the GEEK2013 magazine. Look out for it in local KM newspapers and at the event.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Family and Business in East Kent

We’ve moved to #EastKent to embrace a new way of life.

Many of my friends want to demonstrate that parents can spend time with their children, build a successful business and give back to our community too.

This isn’t some flash-in-the-pan hippy-notion, my network of mums and dads include people with very interesting and diverse backgrounds looking for change, including: new media strategists, teachers, academics, artists, film makers, shopkeepers, food producers, doulas, cafĂ© owners, business coaches, nurses, communications directors and many more.

East Kent is a vibrant and creative place which is undergoing major regeneration. It has many complex socio-economic challenges, but things are changing. I believe is definitely the place to be if you want to live, work or study in an inspiring and exciting environment. With its beautiful countryside, sandy and shingle beaches, vibrant arts scene, historic towns and city as well as easy access to London, it is also a wonderful place to bring up children.

Here are some people and organisations I’ve been using to help me set up my new publishing company in East Kent.

Pre-application meeting organised by the Kent Chamber of Commerce as part of Expansion East Kent

Business networking at Whitstable Tweet Ups

Catriona Campbell at Escape to Create

Marine Studios in Margate
 (And check out GEEK2013, which I’ll be a part of

Fruitworks in Canterbury

Kerry Hales

I've been all over EastKent networking with potential investors, mumpreneurs, business and I can't wait to launch my new site and publishing business in 2013.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Support family-friendly #Whitstable cafe to open its garden

I am writing in support of @WindyCornerS planning application ref CA/12/01279/VAR. 

We moved to Whitstable nearly two years ago from Oxford not knowing anyone here. Having been students at Kent University twelve years ago, we followed our dream and decided that we would sell our home, move jobs and raise our family here. For us, The Windy Corner Stores embraces all that is special about Whitstable.

It is an independent business run by a talented and dynamic team who have sought to create a community hub. It is a place where friends, neighbours and visitors of all ages congregate to enjoy quality local produce cooked-up in creative and innovative ways. In the current economic climate, it is admirable that The Windy Corner Stores continues to serve and promote local food and drink in interesting and affordable ways. Furthermore, it regularly supports charity events, seasonal festivals, local arts & crafts and community groups. In our opinion, this is just the sort of business the Council should be supporting and encouraging to grow.

As local residents, we fully support The Windy Corner Stores’ request for permission to serve customers in their garden. We believe that this latest request is not unreasonable as the garden would only be open between the sociable hours of 9am-5pm and no alcohol would be served in it. The Windy Corner Stores already promotes a family-friendly environment and to open the gardens within the requested time-frame and without alcoholic drinks is an extension of this ethos.

It would not only be wonderful, in a personal capacity, to enjoy our time in the Windy Corner Stores’ garden, but we also believe it is critical to the future success of the business.  

Please write to Canterbury Council to support The Windy Corner Stores garden extension

Friday, 20 July 2012

#Whistable Oyster Festival for Families #wof2012

Follow @EastKentMum as I enjoy the festival with my family and friends.
Saturday 21st July
10:00 Splashpals
FREE event at Whitstable Harbour
Watch Newfoundland dogs demonstrate water rescues.
Note: Whitstable Oyster Guide 2012 notes that Splashpals is on from 10-5pm and is weather and tide dependent.

11:00 Soran Bushi and Taiko Drumming
Japanese drumming and dancing: A fisherman’s dance by students 
Whitstable Harbour

12:00 Lunch
Head to the highstreet or picnic on the beach.

13:00 Ratty, Mole and Toad
Street theatre performance which follows these much-loved characters as they embark on an urban adventure.
Whitstable Library

13:30 Meet Salana the Seal
Meet Salana the seal: a two-metre long grey seal. Performed by Circo Rum Ba Ba.
Whitstable Library

14:30-15:00 Landing of the Oysters and The Oyster parade
The official festival opening ceremony. A centuries old tradition, the ceremony concludes with a procession from The Bowls Centre to Oxford Street where the Lord Mayor delivers an Oyster to each pub and restaurant along the way.
Long beach

16:45-17:30 Samba!
Horsebridge Square
High energy Samba music from local favourites Samba Pelo Mar.

Note: Keep an eye out for Morris dancing (performed by Dead Horse Morris and Friends) throughout the course of the day.

Sunday 22nd July

This is a day for strolling around, chilling out, enjoying local art, sampling local produce and soaking up the lively atmosphere. A must-do activity is to enjoy the best of over 60 local producers’ foods and drink at the EPICentre Food Fair in Whitstable Harbour.

The morning starts with a Sunday Service and Parade from St. Alphege Church. Then, keep an eye out for: traditional sea shanties sung in Whitstable Harbour, BBQs and beer on the beach, open art studio sessions, and various music events.

The highlight of the day for young children is Trundlehonk! A family-friendly one-man-band (with a comic twist) on walkabout at various points through the day.

I will be going to Sheds! This is a photographic exhibition of people and their sheds on show at Whitstable Museum. You can also find me checking out the art on display at the Horsebridge Centre. And don’t forget to buy your raffle tickets from the Horsebridge Centre, which give you the chance to win a Doll’s House worth £3000. Tickets are sold in aid of the Horsebridge Centre and Trust Sulha (a Kent based charity raising money to educate Afghan refugees in Pakistan).

Monday 23rd July

Get your wellies on for this early morning Seashore Safari on Whitstable beach (near Keam’s Yard). This free activity is guaranteed to fascinate the whole family as you discover and learn about the little creatures that thrive on Whitstable beach.

For little ones there’s a Pop Up Cinema in The Whitstable Umbrella Centre from 11:00-13:00. Bring a picnic rug and snacks and enjoy a range of child-friendly films in a relaxed atmosphere. Cost is just £1. (Note: This fantastic event set up by a local mum isn’t advertised in the brochure so don’t miss it!)

Children from 6 years plus can compete in a fun Bubble-Blowing Competition on Tankerton Slopes at 11:30. There is a cost of just £2.

There are two engaging workshops on at the Horsebridge Centre this afternoon. From 13:45 onwards there are three sessions available to Make a Beach Beacon in preparation for Thursday’s firework display. And, at 3pm, older children from 12 years up can take part in a Puppetry Workshop to learn the skills to bring artefacts to life and become puppeteers!

Note: You need to book in advance with the Horsebridge Centre. To book either event phone: 01227 281174.

Tuesday 24th July

From 10:00-13:00, there is a range of free games and fun activities for all ages on Tankerton Slopes. Then skip off to Whitstable’s Umbrella Centre to watch a free, Punch and Judy show. According to the Whitstable guide, this 350 year old tradition “promises to entertain a new generation of children and their parents”. However, I can’t promise to what extent it will have been revised for a modern audience. (Show times: 12:00; 13:45 and 15:00)

The funniest event of the day is sure to be the Crabbing Competition taking place at 16:30 on Horsebridge/Reeves beach in Whitstable. Judges decide who has caught the best crab on nothing more than a whim! Note: You need to register at 16:00 and pay just 20p).

Wednesday 25th July

Children aged 4 upwards will definitely want to take part in the Eggy Escapades egg race. Enter one of four workshops taking place at the Horsebridge Centre to prepare and decorate your egg in preparation for Friday afternoon’s egg racing competition on Tankerton slopes.

Egg decorating and race preparation workshops take place at the Horsebridge Centre (01227 281174) at 10:30, 12:00, 14:00 and 15:30. Cost: £3 per egg.

Thursday 26th July

The day is full of activities in preparation for the evening’s parade and night’s firework display.

Get booked onto a crown-making workshop to ensure your little one has a crown fit for a Grotter King or Queen. There’s also the opportunity to make a glorious grotter with your Whitstable Oyster shell.

From dusk onwards, children will wear their crowns and carry their oyster shell grotters as everyone takes part in a magical stroll along Reeves beach. The free firework display can be viewed along the stretch of beach between the Horsebridge and the Neptune pub.

Crown making workshops: 9:30-13:00 and 13:34-17:15. Cost: £3. Book in advance: 01227 281174.

Grotter-making: From 14:30-17:00 (pop along any time). Cost: FREE. I recommend bringing your own oyster shell, to avoid disappointment, in case they run out.

Firework Display: 21:45. Cost: Free.

Friday 27th July

Eggy Escapades – The Smashing Final

At 10am, all the children who decorated and took part in Wednesday’s Eggy Escapes workshop, now take part in this fun competition. Other children will enjoy watching, I’m sure. Good luck!

Young children from 5 years upwards will enjoy the free Picassos on the Pavement event outside Whitstable Library from 14:00-15:30. Local artist, Paul George, will help your little one create their very own piece of chalk art on the pavement.

My family is looking forward to hearing and watching the Barrow Band on The Deck at Whitstable Harbour from 14:30-16:00. Songs about fruit and vegetables are accompanied by little legumes dancing. I can’t wait to see the line-dancing mushrooms and swinging pineapples.

If you need a break but your children are still full of energy, then head to Deco 5 at 16:30. Picassos on the Pavement artist will end the day performing Fred Bear and the Magic Mouse. Parents can chill out and enjoy a drink while the kids have lots of free fun.

We are going to try to conclude the festival listening to music performed by Broadstairs and St Peter’s Concert Band at St.Peter’s Church, Sydenham Street. This special festival concert in the beautiful surroundings of St Peter’s Church includes a wide repertoire from favourite classics to Disney tunes. The cost is £5 (with concessions for under 10s). You can buy tickets on the door or call 01227 792425.

Have a wonderful time at The Whistable Oyster Festival 2012 and I look forward to seeing you. Twitter @EastKentMum.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

#AttachmentParenting and Business

Following this morning's article in The TelegraphI investigate how #breastfeeding, baby wearing and business can be compatible.

I have a 4-month-old baby and a toddler. Due to the funding on offer, business advice available, and creative vibe in East Kent at the moment I believe that it is essential to network, information gather and seek funding for my start-up business now. However, I am also passionate about the benefits to mother, child and society of natural parenting methods. These include baby-led breastfeeding, carrying baby and bed-sharing - all of which have recently been termed Attachment Parenting (but which my husband and I came to by accident).

We are in a financial crisis, a pension crisis, an unemployment crisis, a childcare crisis and parents are struggling as children spend less and less time with the family (whatever type of family unit that is). It’s time for society to ask some tough questions. Just tweaking the same old policies is not going to work anymore. I think some of the principles of Attachment Parenting (I prefer the term Natural Parenting) can help us do this. And no, this is not a return to the 1980s/90s supermum! Nor is it a return to a dangerously sentimental perception of motherhood. To find out more read:

The Health and Financial Benefits of Attachment Parenting
The World Health Organisation, among other leading international bodies, has demonstrated that breastfeeding for at least six months (ideally a year plus) is best for baby and mum - especially in the battle against obesity, which costs countries millions of pounds and lives. Going from breastfeeding to solid food (baby-led weaning) without the need for purchasing pureed food is also free. Through education we could help children have healthy diets and save parents money. This has to be a good thing.

Top Tips for Mixing Babies and Business:

  • Be respectful. This is not an in-your-face political battle. Most people are happy to assist you – particularly more mature women who were mums of young children over the past few decades.
  • Be thoughtful. If you’re breastfeeding, is it worth taking a muslin square to cover yourself even if you don’t usually? (I rarely cover myself when breastfeeding but one society-changing activity at a time).
  • Be considerate. If your baby is screaming continuously, please leave the room. We need to show that parents can mix motherhood (or fatherhood) and business in a responsible and reasonable way.
  • Be prepared for a lot of interest and questions. This can actually be good for networking!
  • If it’s a large gathering, like a networking event or there are public speakers, contact the meeting organiser in advance if you can. This will allow you to build a rapport with her/him and a chance for them to accommodate you on joint terms. For example, to arrange seating arrangements in case you need to make a speedy exit for things like nappy changes.
  • Can you do something to promote the organiser or can they use you to promote them as forward-thinking and open to new working practices?
  • Embrace social media and new technology for support, networking and flexible working opportunities.

A call to action
Children are suffering. Mums and dads feel torn. Rather than just talking about the same old topics: the importance of breastfeeding, the need for quality childcare and the requirement of my generation to support an ageing population (#whenIm65), we need to come up with alternative economically and socially viable solutions.

I don’t like the options available to me and my family and neither do most of the other mums and dads I know. I want to find ways of sharing my experiences and maybe, just maybe, through social media and exposure other parents, MPs, healthcare professionals, business entrepreneurs, FTSE 100 companies, academics, charities, educational bodies etc will want to join my experiment too. 

I’m a catalyst for ideas and experimenting with new business and parenting techniques. For debate and ideas please use me!

Mixing Babies with Business in East Kent
I have recently attended some important business and voluntary group meetings with my youngest baby in a sling. Sometimes my toddler comes too if it’s the kind of event where we can do colouring-in, puzzles and other fun activities. But sometimes this isn’t fair to him or appropriate to the event, so daddy, his grandparents or a friend have helped look after him (more on the childcare debate another time!).

I would particularly like to thank and highlight the following events for welcoming me as a slinging, breastfeeding mum trying to do business and support families in the local community:

With thanks to @hackneydoula for highlighting the article.