Random ramblings and TV-inspired activities

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Noddy: Pirate ship for the bath

I've never been a fan of Noddy, although I remember the original books from when I was little. I found the characters hard to like and the plots too preachy, and while the TV series has been updated it still doesn't float my boat (pun intended).

Most of the stories revolve around the naughty goblins trying to mess up whatever Noddy's doing and generally episodes end with them being punished. Note that the goblins are never actually invited to join in with anything the Toytown toys do, and they live far away from everyone else. Add to that, the goblins are ugly and very visually different to the rest of the toys, a palette of sludgey grey-greens rather than vibrant primary colours. I don't really like the "good = pretty, bad = ugly" message that comes through in a lot of kids stuff - Disney in particular is quite bad for that - and in general I think there are undertones which are quite unpleasant to the whole goblin plot-device. I know it's a kids programme, but some gestures in the direction of empathy would be nice. There are some episodes which are a bit more developed than the "goblins try to spoil the fun" plot, so I try and filter viewing on that basis. Noddy and the pirates being a case in point...

The pirate plot revolved around pirates hunting for treasure, mistakenly taking some that doesn't belong to them, and Noddy helping to resolve the situation. Pirates seem to be pretty ubiquitous these days on kids TV, books, etc., so it's no wonder they're fairly big in our house. Peppa Pig gets a commendation for being the only kids programme I'm aware of to feature pirates which also includes girls, at Danny Dog's pirate party. (There were actually quite a few female pirates in days gone by. It's interesting reading, although I wonder why these particular 'criminal types' have been rehabilitated as suitable children's fodder? Why them and not highwaymen, say? At this age I don't need to get into the finer points with my kids, pirates are just funny people who sail boats and look for treasure, end of.)

Of course, every good pirate needs a boat, be they imaginary-cushion boats or ones for the bath. We approximated our own bathtime pirate-boat as follows:


1 plastic bottle (we used an olive oil one)
1 piece of paper
1 piece of blu-tak
1 chopstick or similar mast (beware pointy ends!)

Using a sharp knife to get started, then switching to scissors, cut a hole in the side of the bottle, to create the hollowed out boat-shape. File any sharp edges down with a nail-file.
Decorate a piece of paper for the sail.
Make two small cuts in the sail and slip the mast through. (I used a bamboo chopstick, which gave me an enormous splinter: I'd recommend filing them down too!)
Stick blu-tak at the bottom of the bottle.
Stick mast into blu-tak.
Sail away! (Enya soundtrack optional).

We added a couple of Little People as passengers/pirates, and I was gratified to see that it remained quite stable. The sail was good for blowing on to make the boat move, although a longer stretch of water would have been better. There are only so many times you can turn the boat round in a bath. I'd also suggest not getting too attached to the sail as it will end up soggy... Spares are good!


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