Earth to Echo

Earth to Echo is a story of 3 boys (and later a girl) who help a cute alien to find his way back home after he was shot down in the desert near their home in Nevada. It is a story about growing up; friendship and adventure.

That all sounds a bit twee, but actually I thought it worked, and for its target audience of 8-10 year olds, it’s pretty cool.

I liked how the kids’ characters all developed through the story, but that they stayed true to themselves. They each had their own issues – the scared geek; the foster kid with a phobia of being left behind; the overlooked one who makes movies to get the attention he craves; and the popular girl who is fed up with being the princess. They learned to overcome and to work together as a team to help someone who really needed them (the alien who they named Echo.)

The camera angles of ‘found footage’ may annoy some, but I thought it worked, and it fitted in with the plot (everything is recorded on Tuck’s (the amateur film-maker) three cameras.

Echo is cute and you sympathise with him and his new human friends. The bad guys “construction workers” may be a little two dimensional, but they do the job. There are a couple of cool CGI scenes, but it’s not overdone.

I enjoyed the film and thought that the kids acted well. My 8 year old son thought it was great too. It’s no ET, but it is an enjoyable family film that will appeal to 8-11 year olds, and there was nothing too scary or violent.



I love Beer

I have recently returned from a family holiday to Devon. We stayed in a gorgeous 100-year old house called Upcott House which sits between Beer and Seaton. The view is stunning – from Seaton beach to the sea, to a cliff – nearly uninterrupted by houses – it almost feels like you’re the only person for miles. By night, the lights of Seaton remind you that you are not too far from civilisation. From the bedroom window, you can see all the way to the base of the cliff, and tell whether it’s low or high tide.

The nearest beach is Seaton Hole – a small pebble beach only a couple of minutes walk from the front door. The road is steep to the coast, but it’s worth it. We spent hours searching the rock pools for crabs and other creatures at low tide. You can also walk all the way to Seaton along the beach at low tide, but make sure you don’t attempt it while the tide is coming in!

There are no local sandy beaches, but my 8-year-old loved the pebble beaches and we enjoyed making beach art together (with the help of Uncle Phil and Aunty Mary) so it was just as much fun. If you fancy a little drive, Branscombe Beach is beautiful and has a good gift shop/ café. We sampled their ice-creams – I had my favourite flavour: bubblegum. There is a good size car park and access is easier than many local beaches.

Beer is a beautiful old fishing village. The pebble beach sits at the bottom of a steep road, and it busy with fishermen’s boats and lots of brightly coloured deckchairs. We were there for regatta week and caught some of a boat race. The village was decked out in bunting and looks just like a tourist’s idea of a perfect English beach holiday destination. My husband and I enjoyed a dinner date at The Dolphin Hotel (you will need to book but it’s easy enough to get a place early in the evening). I had a vegetarian meal and my husband has fish, which he said was fresh and tasty.  We enjoyed a cream tea/ coffee at a local café the following day with our kids. The weather was a mix of showers and sunshine through the week, but there is enough to do to keep you occupied when the rain is pouring down.

There are also some cute touristy shops, like The Cream Shop which sells fudge and gifts.

Seaton is a larger town – not as pretty as Beer but still worth a visit. I walked there from Upcott House and it took my 25 minutes (with a pushchair). The road is much less steep than the way to Beer. It would be a lot quicker, but the road near to the house suffered from a cliff fall a couple of years ago, and is unpassable. Seaton has a good restaurant called Frydays . They serve a good range of food and our Canadian waitress was pleasant and helpful. The town has a good mix of shops, from budget to independent to a large Tesco with Costa attached. There is a big pebble beach with a promenade all along the seafront.

Next to Tesco is the tram station – worth a couple of hours of your time, especially if you have kids. You travel through wetlands and past Axminster – another picturesque village – to Colyton which is cute but tiny. You can buy toys, gifts and postcards from the Colyton tram station, as well as snacks ( and, no doubt, cream teas) from the small café. The tram driver on the journey back to Seaton was friendly and gregarious, and he made sure Grandma had a good seat in a sheltered section of the vehicle (it was a rainy day).

We had a great week in East Devon and I would be happy to visit again soon.