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Double Deluxe

Hello. I will be posting two posts for the price of one! I am on my Easter holidays as I work in a school and all the other members are super busy. So enjoy!

Comedy: Tuesday 10th March Janice Connolly (Barbara Nice) Tue 11 Nov | How to lead a workshop

So I got to the session and there were literally only half a dozen of us. I had a cracker of a headache but alas no paracetemol. That’s when I remembered, it’s the comedy one. Janice saw the look of fear on my face. “Don’t worry you don’t have to do it.” She said. We did some warm up activities. The first we had to think of someone we found funny. After a lot of thought I told them I thought Bill Bailey is funny because he looks like my Dad. I didn’t tell them about the ASDA song… I also laugh at myself when I do stupid things which is all the time. I told them about Craft Club that day. “… so they all ended up with stripy Mother’s day cards. My sister wrote a note in hers and gave it to me. It said you have ruined Craft Club and made my friend’s dog stripy.” Hmm I didn’t tell the group my line manager had read the card first. She didn’t say anything though. They all decided it is really good to laugh at yourself (well it’s either that or cry!) Janice suggested I tell the printing story as my stand-up. I decided not to as they had just heard it. I sat in the corner and wrote. I couldn’t help remembering when I had to write a story for the Gloaming Tales in the same room and unwittingly ended up reading it out to an audience because of the fact I didn’t know what culminating meant. I used this as my intro though it wasn’t particularly funny. I don’t know how my next story popped into my head. I wrote down most of the story which is a combination of the past and present (hopefully not the future!) For my piece I decided to use the drawing board. I went last and carried it over to the MIC stand single handed. I refused help and just stated that I’m part mad (a little reference to Bill Bailey part troll). Anyway it went something like this: “So it all started when I accidentally got high at college (at this point they all started to laugh but I ploughed on). It was off a material I was working with. I walked around college and laughed when I saw a tutor. I even had a one to one. No idea how I got through it. I went to carry on my work and when I was using the heat gun I kept referring to it as a glue gun. When the tutor corrected me I started laughing again. When I got home I tried to teach my sister how to make a pin wheel and when she made it wrong I started laughing again. Recently at work I had to box up some heat guns and label the box (this is where the drawing board came in) I started writing a “G” then realised they were heat guns and had to change the “G” into an “H”. The IT Technician asked me for a heat gun. I went and got him one. Oh I meant Glue gun he said. Yeah sure you did I said.” Janice said it was quirky and I should do it more often. She asked me what I learned. I said I learned that I need to stay away from the room. This was meant to be funny but alas I’m just not funny.

Task Presentations: Tuesday 24th March

The time had come for everyone to present back to each other how their tasks had gone. You will have to excuse me as I can’t remember the exact order. Callum He wrote the most awesomest limericks and poems you could hope to dream up. Sam He wrote epic diary entries of his amazingness. Hilarity. Heidi She wrote insightful yet quirky observations. Louisa She read us a very tender and soulful poem and showed us a video giving us an insight into her life. Jess She told us of the wonders of what is to come with her collaborations. Catrin She showed us her paintings which she didn’t think of as much but were in actual fact things of wonder. James He had to observe people in Starbucks, his observations were hysterical. Mercy Her task was to write negative lyrics on one side and then flip them to find the positive. She read them out and it was like we knew the song already. Then it came to my turn. So I set up my montage on the easel (with two people holding on to it!) and started from the beginning. I explained what and why I added to it each day and then… I finished by telling them all about an email I had from the boss of Craftspace who I had forwarded my task blog to.

“So basically I’m going to be on the BBC Radio 4 on Easter Monday on Women’s Hour. Hell yeah!” I said as I took my seat and thanked Sam for giving me the task.
If you want to see more of my task you can see it here: http://chctask.blogspot.co.uk/

BBC Radio 4 Easter 2015

Thank you for reading and please come to MIRRORS on Saturday 18th April 4pm-8pm at the MAC Birmingham upstairs in the Foyle Studio: http://macbirmingham.co.uk/event/mirrors-myfutureself/

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Nursing Lives by Vamos Theatre

We rely on facial expressions so much in everyday life, especially in theatre. Nursing Lives’ by Vamos is very different, as the play as performed using only mask & without words. The key essence of our characters is perceived through the face, so when it is covered our eyes are drawn to small theatrical devices & details to give expression & meaning. From a small tilt, even to the way you stand, everything signifies so much.

Nursing Lives’ follows the protagonist pensioner Flo, visiting the derelict wartime hospital she trained at, however finding the builders are getting ready to demolish it. Through her time wandering the wards, she encounters memories from her past & the audience is transported back to her former life. Focussing on the nurses role in the war, the performance is often funny. However there are elements of sadness; when you really feel for the characters.

The beauty of the performance is it achieves this, through the cast tackling the logistical and expressive challenges. What I really admired was the sensitivity to the characters & the subject, making the performance very inspiring.

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Lovely Letters! ^_^

Hello my name is Sarah Fowler and I will be talking you through the second Cannon Hill Collective Session of 2015 🙂

We continued watching the films we had recorded. James did such a great job of talking you through our films so I will try to continue this.

Aliyah- The Art of Keeping it Real

Aliyah’s was very complex (to me anyway!). She had given herself the mission of peeling/ stripping back the layers sociologically, politically and historically of who she is, but being light hearted about it at the same time. A real eye opener.

Sarah H- The Art of being yourself

Sarah talked about her future aspirations. She read us old diary entries highlighting to us how much she has changed over the years. She did this in a humorous, calm and down to Earth kind of way.

Jodi Ann Bickley- One Million Lovely Letters

We were then shown the video above and told we would be receiving a special guest who wouldn’t want to watch herself! I was sat watching the film and was aware she had entered the room and could hear them setting up behind me. And then as if by magic the lights came on and there were tables set out for us with all sorts of crafty bits and bobs and glitter and such. We were invited to create our very own lovely letter, which would be going out to someone in great need of cheering up.

Visually I didn’t find it a challenge and in terms of making origami bits for my letter. However, I was having trouble thinking of what to write! Jodi said to not think about it too much and to just write. So this is what I did! ^_^

Letter 1- Blowing in the Wind


With this letter I just thought that sometimes you can worry too much and overthink things. I know it’s not easy but perhaps it is good to just see where the wind may take you!

Letter 2- Moonface


What I like about workshops is that you can get really interesting feedback from people. Aliyah said this letter reminded her of Moonface from The Magic Faraway Tree (Enid Blyton). What is interesting about this comment is that the day before I was editing one of my Auto Biography extracts, where I had written about how I remember sitting in class in Year 1, listening to the teacher reading us The Magic Faraway Tree! Aliyah also liked my paper crane -or swan 😉


After we had finished all of our lovely letters we just simply put them in a pile in the middle of the table. I leave the crane in charge in getting them all to their destinations 🙂


Here is a link to Jodi’s blog for those who want to know more about her project:


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Happy new year!

Hello and welcome to the first 2015 cannon hill collect blog post!

I am James Bartholomew and I will be guiding you through our first cannon hill collective session of 2015!

Side note: I use GIFs to express my feelings! 

So before I get the ball rolling I’d like to take you on a brief flash back to our intensive week before Christmas which is a continuation of the work we did in last week’s first session.

14th December – 19th December 2014

The cannon hill collective were introduced to Leo Kay and Anna Smith who manage their own theatre company 
Unfinished Business (https://twitter.com/UB_theatre) and they came to work with us on a theatrical experiment called Change My Mind.
 We would be working on this project from December to April, so during the intensive week we were able to look back and discuss how we got to where we are now as young performers and we explored many exercises and tasks, musical and written, and really engaged with our past, present and hopes for the future, all of these tasks accumulated into the cannon hill collective filming a rough cut auto biography for 15 minutes, then the next day we spent 30 minutes editing our video’s live in the gallery where we had been working all week, and that 15 minute video was cut down to a 10 minute video. 

Back in the present day! The collective got to watch half of the videos made as we only limited time together so the other half will be shown on the 27th Jan! So today’s session was comprised of watching each other’s videos and after each video we’d have exactly one minute to write down what we thought about the video, and below I have briefly summarized my thoughts in brief sentences:

VIDEO 1 – HEIDI – The Art of Clarity. 
Heidi’s video spoke about the effects of other people friends or strangers have on your creative outlook, and how it affected her in regards to filming but also how it is important to know who you are, and what your theatre is about and being confident in your own passion. 

VIDEO 2 – CALLUM – The Art of Words
Callum started off with a spoken word piece created from words that the collective when he asked “What words describe me” during the intensive week. Callum goes into depth about how spoken word has affected his life so far and that words can be as empowering as actions. 

VIDEO 3 – JORDANNE – The Art of Acceptance
Jordanne speaks about being independent, confident and empowering to yourself is an essential part for every person to reach their full potential in life, don’t wait for the world to accept you, accept yourself. #buyyourselfflowers

VIDEO 4 – CATRIN – The Art of Experience
Catrin talks to us about the effects of travelling to places and meet people who have enabled her to find and try out new experiences in regards to her creative growth something she may not have had if she’d stayed in her home town. 

VIDEO 5 – JAMES – The Art of Storytelling
James speaks about his natural talent of being able to network, and his love of real life stories and situations, alongside his fears of those situations and stories becoming too overwhelming.

VIDEO 6 – MERCY – The Art of Music
Mercy sings and talks us through the places she’s lived throughout the world and how music has been in her family for generations and she performers one of her songs she has wrote with the help of her grandmothers musical items. #layingitdown

VIDEO 7 – SARAH – The Art of Sharing
Sarah spoke about her journey through her creative life and how working with different groups around Birmingham have helped her learn and develop crafts to teach others. 

Video 8 – SAM – The Art of Acting
“By definition I am a changeable entity.” Sam talks to us about being able to hone his craft. The accent. The Cities. The stories. The man.

Those were all we had time for, but I am looking forward to seeing the rest but in the final moments of the session, we were given sheets of paper, explaining the tasks we had to do that would relate to the videos and change my mind experiment and choose one member of the collective by random and begin to explore ways to set them a task relating to their video that would change their mind in a positive way that changes their creative outlook! 

Until next time folks! It’s be fun!

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Leviathan (2014) Review

Leviathan is a Russian film that follows a small family as they fight to keep their land from the corrupt town mayor with the help of an army friend turned lawyer from Moscow. I tried to keep that synopsis as short as possible as this film is one of those films that I would recommend anyone seeing and there are so many levels to it that outlining the narrative is barely touching the surface of what is a dark masterpiece reflecting Russia.

One of the first things you will probably notice about the film, or even from the first few shots, is how beautifully shot it is. The scenery that is shown in the film is stunning and the camera and the way the shots are framed most definitely do it justice. There are also a lot of hidden symbols and foreshadowing in some of the shots so it is really worth focusing on them. It is also amazing how stark a juxtaposition the land is to the awful things that happen on it and it shows that even the most beautiful places can be poisoned by corruption.

The acting is also really good. I don’t usually watch many foreign language films as I don’t really like having to read the subtitles but it was different with Leviathan as there was no disconnect between the actors and me due to not being able to understand them. They were a perfect fit for the characters they were playing and they conveyed all of their emotions awesomely. My favourite performance has to go to the mayor as he was the most convincing out of everyone and in some scenes he really looked like the corrupt official who was trying to cling onto his job which he played.

Without giving too much away the narrative of this film is the cherry on the cake. It gives a snapshot into what Russia is really like with people losing everything they have to corruption and the needs and wants of those in power. The film is peppered with dark humour and them plunges you into the bleak reality of what life is like for some people. You can probably sense as well that this film confronts some serious issues such as the corruption but also the alcohol use of some of the characters and, one of the most hidden but overriding themes, religion. Again I don’t want to reveal too much but one of the final scenes in the church is really important for the theme of religion and is one of my favourites in the film.

Overall Leviathan is a really good film that I would highly recommend people watch. It is one of my favourite films of the year and is really interesting for the political people out there. I urge anyone to look past it being a Russian film that is subtitled as this really doesn’t take away from the experience of what is a truly great film.

Callum Bate

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The Spinning Wheel

Featured image

CAT: Before the performance I was slightly apprehensive as to what to expect. I am relatively new to spoken word, and after Skyping to Leo Kay in one of the earlier Collective sessions, I realised that I’d never really experienced anything like his work.

However, when Baba visited the Next Gen ‘How to budget and project manage’ we were all blown away at his quick, witty stance on the subject. I knew the performance was going to be special.

As we, the audience, arrived into the theatre space, he and Yako welcomed us with open arms and a delicious hot vegetable soup in a cup. It felt like visiting an old friend, very approachable and caring.

Sarah: Yeah, I remember picking up one of the spoons and he said “Thanks for helping me out with the spoon!”

CAT: The Spinning Wheel takes you on a journey following his father’s footsteps (Steve Ben Israel) and how this has reflected on his son. Baba uses the archive of his father’s writings, recordings, interviews and performance footage. Starting in 50’s New York, around the world, the prisons of Brazil and coming back home again. However, we realise through the journey, home has changed, as well as America and his father.

Sarah: His father was a spoken word Artist, Activist and Anti-Capitalist. Money was tight and his parents argued a lot. Culture of the time included Keith Richards, Jimi Hendrix, sex, love, hedonism and music; everyone out for a good time basically. These images were projected onto stacked up empty boxes on stage which made you think of an archive which, to me, was what the performance was.

CAT: The set was dressed very thoughtfully with 3 tall stacks of cardboard boxes, reminding me of tower blocks. It creates an interchangeable space that provides the surface to create beautifully projected scenes. Whether it is a film of Steve, an animation of a dove, or his father’s den, it creates an extra layer to the piece. When the performer physically interacts with the visual projection, it was particularly powerful.

Sarah: He once collaborated with his father beat boxing. He was sad that he never had a career talk with his dad, who just didn’t want to know.

CAT: The scene where he tells of his father’s and his fellow performers’ experience of the terrifying imprisonment in Brazil I found particularly moving. The use of the projection, flashing lights and audio symbolizes the time very well.

Sarah: I actually found that part quite frightening, the flashing lights, his eyes were so wide and his mouth hung open. I could almost feel his terror.

CAT: The story is very moving, especially when he describes the passing of his father in 2012. Steve Ben Israel was an important part of ‘The Living Theatre’, a New York based avant garde theatre company, aiming to revolutionise the way that theatre performed the spoken word. However, over time it shifted into a movement for social and political change. The performance also uses the birth of Hip Hop in the streets of Brooklyn and the Bronx, that Baba has grown up within, to shape the piece.

Combining rhythmic, beat boxed, performance poetry, mixed music by Yako 440 and projection, you become transfixed in the story of his father, his hopes to brighten the world, ideas of looking for alternatives for the future, and the hopes and fears of Baba himself.

Sarah: Later on into the performance he spoke of people on buses with their closed minds, lack of eye contact and fear. ‘It was as if they were thinking constantly the words “Shit”, “What”, “Fuck” over and over again’. One day Mexican musicians entered the platform, but no one paid them any attention except his father, who joined in by beat boxing. So the next time his father travelled he paid everyone a dollar for their attention, including a man hiding behind his newspaper. His father simply threw a dollar bill over the top of the newspaper, let it drift down and then just stepped off the platform afterwards.

Baba got married; it was raining. He was pushing his buggy through crowds of people in the streets and they wouldn’t move aside. One man even had a go at him. A group of tourists, however, did move aside.

CAT: Baba is very natural and frank in sharing his upbringing and the problems he faced. His presentation of his father’s stand up is hilarious. However, it is often surpassed by the more serious message of how capitalism is destroying the planet, and how revolution starts from within us. The audience and performers united near the end with the ‘Unfucking’ section.

Sarah: Yes, the ‘Unfuck it’ section, was where the audience contributed things which they wanted to ‘Unfuck’ and the performers improvised it in their song.

CAT: We basically put the world to rights. As we shouted out our particular bug bears, like UKIP and tuition fees amongst many others, Baba and his friend then improvised a rap around the issues mentioned. During this sequence I found it clear to see Baba’s gift, which is astonishing.

Sarah: His father was up for an award after he died which they wanted his son to accept. His mum, who always looked younger than she was, went with him for the award. He was worried about being late to the awards ceremony, but he realised there was no need when he arrived, as all was chaos.

His father always finished his performances in the same way, and The Spinning Wheel of Life finished their performance as he would have.  You will have to go to a performance if you want to see how it finished – and everyone really should go to see it. The audience were then given the chance to leave with a pound coin in honour of his father.

CAT: I left the show feeling exhilarated and ready to take on the world. ‘The Spinning Wheel’ is a beautiful piece and has left me really excited to see what the Collective can achieve through working with Leo and Anna.

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Cannon Hill Collective Week Five: #SoulSelfie

Holstee Manfiesto

The topic of this week’s session was reflection. Not selfie in the mirror sort of reflection, but reflective practices. Where have you come from? How have you got here? What’s changed and why has it changed? How does who you are affect your creative methods? To answer these questions we created a sort of mind map of ourselves, a soul selfie if you will.

To make a #soulselfie you begin by drawing a picture of yourself and then make a note of your skills, attitudes and attributes. My main skill is the slightly vague, ‘words’ and I’m also surprisingly good at navigating public transport for someone with no sense of direction. But the next question was did I have these skills 10 years ago? And if not where did they come from? I found that my list of attributes, being helpful, open to new people, and generally quite positive (or naively optimistic) about everything has been with me for a long time, it’s mainly my skills and attitudes such as determination that have been developed or discovered over the years.

Next up we had to define our creative practices. This is always a problem for me because I am a ‘slasher’, or multi-stringed practitioner, I am a spoken word artist/a theatre maker/a workshop facilitator/playwright, most of which fall under the umbrella of ‘storyteller’. Next we had to think about the moments of how we got there? Personally, there wasn’t a eureka moment, but I can trace loving theatre as a child and going to see The Singing Kettle, through to using drama at school as a stress relief escapism lesson. Then moving to spoken word, because I had an urge to be creative and no money to put on a play, so I signed up for a poetry slam and from there things began to snowball.

All this leads to the question of values. What do we hold as guiding compasses in our work that helps us to make decisions? But before we discussed that it was time for a break, the traditional assortment of Aldi delights mixed with the added festive stollen bites. Moving back to work, we took a partner through our #soulselfie whilst they jotted down key words that they felt summed up our values as a practitioner.

Louise told me about how she loved to research her illustrations and other illustrators, how she wished people were true to themselves rather than trying to look like everyone else and how she loved working with the ordinariness of the every day. From this, I took the buzzwords development, empathy, and empowerment. After telling Louise my tale, she surmised integrity, determination and collaboration, which I think sum up my approaches quite well.

Lastly, we spoke about manifestos (like Holstee’s one above) and we discussed whether or not they helped in making day to day decisions or if they focused mainly on creative work. I decided to have a go at making my own manifesto which you can see below as well; mine was written on the bus, can you tell?


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Film Review: Northern Soul

15 (102 min)
Director: Elaine Constantine
Cast: Elliot James Langridge, Josh Whitehouse, Antonia Thomas, Jack Gordon, Steve Coogan
English | 2014

Northern Soul is a cracking British film. It achieves its aim superbly of invoking the spirit of the generation. The dissolution and anger of the Northern youth was depicted effectively as they found an escape route in American Soul music on northern dance floors under the influence of narcotics. This was the backdrop for a charming and funny, if a little predictable coming of age film. The performances are great, it’s a gripping ride and there’s even space for Steve Coogan. Nice one.

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Cannon Hill Collective Week Four: Mindfulness

Plant your feet. No really, plant them – feet placed in line with your hips and anchor yourself there. Empty your lungs before we begin, breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds.

1, 2, 3, 4… and then hold it right there, for another 4 seconds.

1, 2, 3, 4… and then exhale for 8 seconds.

Might not sound like much but this incredibly chilled out and grounding meditation session might be the reason that mine and Louisa’s minds are so fuzzy over the individual details from the beginning of our Cannon Hill Art Collective Meeting. We are now getting into the Collective swing of things, this time focusing on mindfulness. Mindfulness can be described as a mental state achieved by focusing your awareness on the present moment; using meditation as an agent to find inner clarity, insight and understanding.


Upon entering the Foyle Studio at our home away from home mac Birmingham, we were presented with a table of random small objects e.g a tiny shovel, a napkin ring, a feather. All of which were adorable interesting things. Preya, our meditation leader introduced herself and her “random item” then invited us to follow suit.

Individually we picked an item off the table, anything that called out to us, we were then asked to introduce ourselves, our items and why we chose that said item. I picked a cylinder of glitter; representative of my excitability and potential, over the top was a big thick cap, reflective of how I felt trapped within myself.


I’m going to be honest here guys, I went for the pebble. I nearly faltered and chose a sea shell instead but I just couldn’t choose between them and to be truthful, nothing seemed like a nicer solution than just holding onto a cool, smooth pebble whilst learning how to chill out.

 The shapes and what they represented were really just physical permissions for us to share how we’d been feeling. Since joining the Collective we have been asked to share again and again our creative processes and inspirations. Coming together to talk about our final resolved ideas has been exciting but has also made us closer. After voicing our needs to not find a meditation process that allows us to continue doing this, but instead relax and ground ourselves was a decision that we all supported for each other.


Yes! Well aren’t you just a jar of greatness?


You make me blush!


Thus, on that mutual basis we were introduced to the next exercise; Conscious embodiment. A technique used to access to our bodies, as our bodies and even energies have an effect on the way we view our surrounding world and in turn how that world views us.


Which brings us back to planting… I always think of meditation as a lone process, so this experience of being guided through gentle breathing and mental exercises wasn’t the only reality that was evidently different from my expectations. It was sharing our meditation process with another person. We practiced breathing and grounding exercises whilst being gently pushed by another member of the Collective. This quiet element of communication, checking if it was okay to lean against someone else’s’ arm, when to begin pushing and when to stop were all subtle roles of communication that we felt easily able to establish with each other.

It’ll be interesting to see how these practiced roles of support and testing will reappear as we embark on our collaborative project.

Again, the specifics and breathing techniques may appear here as kind of vague. But whilst I do find myself still repeating my 1, 2, 3, 4 breathing exercises and urging others to give meditation a go – please do not find my vagueness any kind of indication that you shouldn’t try it out. If anything, I think you should all go and find out for yourselves the benefits of meditation. No really, you should. Or pick up a pebble, that was a rather relaxing option as well.


Through the lengthening of our spines and the roots we planted through our limbs and into the ground, individually we unveiled a great sense of more-ness. More strength, more control, more focus and more peace. It was beautifully settling. The session left me with the means to love, evolve, create.


They will just have to trust us on this. We were left with all of the good vibes.

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We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Little Angel Theatre

I felt like a little kid again, all excited to see one of my childhood favourites ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’. The show is the current puppet adaptation of author Michael Rosin and illustrator Helen Oxenby’s 1989 classic. It is just as popular today as the kids where quoting the lines before it had even started!

The show is absolutely beautiful, and is quite easy to get absorbed in their world. For those of you who don’t know the story; it follows a family on an adventure to find a bear and how they get around the various obstacles that come before them. The text is translated to the theatre through long musical numbers performed by the puppeteers. The performance was powerful enough to enchant an initially wriggly audience.

I couldn’t help but stare in awe at how beautiful and simple Little Angel’s puppets where. They moved so gracefully and realistic, it was hard not to fall for their enchantment. I have been a fan of their work for a long time and it really didn’t disappoint. The set was also rather simple, adorably transforming to meet the need of the next obstacle. There was a beautiful scene where Bertie the youngest child decided to go swimming with the fishes.

I think what made the performance was the multi-talented performers. Not only did they puppeteer, but sang, played instruments and changed scenery very well. They handled the puppets amazingly and I was quite awe-struck at how gifted they were.

The climax of the show for the audience was undoubtedly when the bear appears. I personally found him quite cute and felt sorry for him when they locked him out of their house. Overall the performance is well worth a visit, by the UK’s leading puppet company. There is something for everyone whether you’re a tiny tot or an old Biddy. Do be warned, the songs are so catchy they will be stuck in your head for a long time to come!

We’re going on a bear hunt, we’re going to catch a big one, what a beautiful day! where not scared!