August 3

There’s no mystery as to why we love Scooby Doo!

Who doesn’t love Scooby Doo? Well, it’s no big mystery to me – it’s funny, silly, formulaic and appeals to children and, for reasons of pure nostalgia, their parents.

I grew up watching it and it’s never gone away and seems to be continually being reinvented for new generations.

Now there are new toy versions – and the nice people at Playmobil sent me one of their range – the iconic Mystery Machine – for my children to review.

The set contains three figures: Fred, Daphne and Velma and loads of accessories. The attention to detail is great – including a little magnifying glass, map and a torch.

The Mystery Machine is solidly made and bright and colourful and therefore appealing to kids even if they aren’t that familiar with the show.

My youngest hasn’t really watched the series much but she loves the set – as played with it every day since it arrived so it’s become a firm favourite toy in our house.

It doesn’t matter to my daughter, but if she was a bit older, from a parent’s point of view, it’s a bit annoying when a set like this doesn’t have all the main figures – this one omits Scooby and Shaggy (although this is normal for this kind of branded set and Lego does it all the time, as obviously manufacturers want us to buy more sets!)

That minor gripe aside, it’s a nice addition to our toy cupboard.

November 1

A great day out at Beaulieu

We had a great day out at The National Motor Museum at Beaulieu. If you’re interested in cars then it’s the place for you, but even if, like me, you only have a passing interest in motor vehicles, you’ll still find plenty to enjoy.

One of the great things about the museum and how it is laid out is your ability to get close up and personal to all the hundreds of rare and historic cars. Despite their value – some must be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds – there’s no great walls of glass keeping you away from them, just polite signs asking you not to touch.

From vintage Bugattis to the good old British Austin Seven and from Formula One racing cars to a Volkswagen Golf (how can a car identical to one that my school friend had as a first car be in a museum – that made me feel very old!)

We went during half-term and there was a fantastic exhibition of the classic 1960s movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Not only have they got the famous car there but they also had one that drives around. They’ve got a whole exhibition of artefacts from the film.

If like me you grew up terrified of the Child Catcher, then you can relive your moment of terror by actually seeing one of the real Child Catcher’s carriages!

We also went on a vintage bus ride, which was great and reminded me of the days when there were such thing as bus conductors – I’m really showing my age here.

One of the highlights of the day was going on the monorail. Built in 1974 and notably opened by The Wombles, who I had to explain to my son, were huge back then, the monorail goes right round the estate and uniquely goes through the exhibition of cars. The doors open at one end and the monorail goes through the cars which you can see if you look over the edge looking at the cars below, before going back out the other end.

We also went to a fabulous exhibition of the Special Operations Executive. Beaulieu was a wartime training base for secret agents who were parachuted into occupied France to – in Churchill’s words – “set Europe ablaze”. What was fascinating amongst the exhibits was a glass display of some of the quirkier secret gadgets such a map hidden in a pen, a radio in a lunchbox and a hacksaw hidden in a brush. Continue reading

November 11

WARNING: Beware “fake” poppies being sold on eBay

Internet giant eBay is making money from fake poppy badges sold by unscrupulous sellers on the auction site.

People are being misled into thinking that charities like The Royal British Legion are benefiting when they buy the metal badges and brooches.

But the imitation badges have nothing to do with charity – and proceeds go into the pockets of sellers with eBay taking a cut of the sale.

If a trader is selling brooches featuring the Legion’s trademarked two-petal poppy without an agreement in place, then the Legion can take a number of different actions, ranging from reporting the trader to their local Trading Standards Officer or sending the trader a formal cease or desist letter.

The Legion has a number of registered trademarks, including the Legion’s iconic two-petal poppy. Anyone using the Legion’s trademarked poppy on their products without the Legion’s consent is acting unlawfully, and the Legion will take action to stop this infringing behaviour.

Alternatively, if a trader states that a donation will be made to the Legion for the sale of any their products can only do so if they have entered into a formal agreement with the Legion.

A breach of the Legion’s trademarks can range from traders unlawfully selling any product featuring the Legion’s trademarked two-petal poppy, or any trader dishonestly stating that a donation will be made to the Legion from the sale of any of their products.

Ebay traders are getting around these rules by selling very similar badges – some bearing the words Lest We Forget – which are clearly aimed to hoodwink purchasers.

A spokesman for The Royal British Legion said: “The Royal British Legion offers a number of poppy accessories which raise much-needed funds for our charitable work. By donating for a poppy through our official channels or corporate partners, the public can rest assured that their money will go towards supporting our Armed Forces community.

“Poppies are widely available across England, Wales, Northern Ireland from Legion approved Poppy Appeal volunteer collectors who will be wearing official ID, or online through the Legion’s website.

“Poppy accessories offer another way to wear the poppy which also help to raise funds to continue our work. These are available via our corporate partners and Poppy Shop.”

Ebay says it works closely with The Royal British Legion and takes down any listings that are reported to it by them.

A spokesperson added: “Every year we work with the Royal British Legion, hosting an area of their official poppy products on our site. We remove items at their request.”