Saturday, 25 February 2017

The Aardman Animation Exhibition at Waterside Arts, Sale

When I visited Waterside Arts Centre in Sale, Manchester before Christmas, we were lucky enough to catch the Puppet Masters Return with Aardman Studios exhibit. The even better news is that it's there until 1st April 2017, and it's FREE.


Part of the Manchester Animation Festival, Puppet Masters Return with Aardman Studios lets members of the public get up close and personal with the characters from some of those well-known family favourites including Wallace and Gromit, Timmy Time and The Pirates, An Adventure With Scientists!

Friday, 24 February 2017

Geronimo Festival 2017 new announcements - main stage celebrities

The Geronimo Festival will take place at Arley Hall in Northwich, Cheshire from 27-29 May this year. The children's festival is designed especially for families with children aged under 13, and promises to have far more than you can pack into a day for everyone...


This year for the first time, camping is available, and the event runs for 3 days over the entire 3 day Bank Holiday weekend. We'll be at Geronimo as ambassadors - and hopefully we'll get the boys on the zipline this year - glad it's not this weekend, Hurricane Doris would have put paid to that!

I told you about some of the 130 activities on offer in my previous introductory post, but it gets even better for those of you who are fans of children's TV especially. New announcements include children's telly celebs and You Tube stars, including some real crowd pleasers.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

My Year With Gary The Cat.

So exactly one year ago yesterday, I, the self-proclaimed hater of cats, won a cat. He turned up screeching and crying, and very grateful, and repaid our kindness and hospitality by needing 3 operations and costing about £1.5k in his first year. Happy Garyversary!


Gary's arrival was a surprise early one morning, and he's followed me around my house like a puppy ever since I opened that door. I have tripped over him more times than I want to think about, and if I stand in his pee in clean socks once more I'll scream, and maybe cry a bit. Called Gary by our 6 year old "because that's his name", he's very fond of football and will carry a ball upstairs and throw it at you when you're asleep. Playing 'catch' with a cat at 4am is not my favourite thing.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Dr Beckmann Service-it Washing Machine Cleaner Giveaway with 10 Winners!

Dr Beckmann can be relied upon to clean all of those things we try to ignore - smells and dirt from washing machines and dishwashers, nasty stains on your clothes and those not-so-white net curtains. Still family owned and based in Bolton, the people behind Dr Beckmann have been making cleaning and laundry products for almost 100 years.

My washing machine lives a very hard working life. My previous machine lasted me 9 years and over 10,000 washes, so when I got my new Hotpoint washing machine almost 2 years ago, I knew I wanted to look after it as best I can.

I regularly use Dr Beckmann Service-it Washing Machine Cleaner to keep my machine whiff-free and happy - in fact, I'm quite proud to say for once mine looked much cleaner than the one in the advert!

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

My First Discoveries: The Bee - Children's Book Review (age 4-8)

The Bee is a small and incredibly beautiful creature, and The Bee children's book from Moonlight Publishing is also small and beautiful. From the My First Discoveries range, this is a non-fiction book aimed especially at children aged 4-8.


The Bee really is a gorgeous book. Created by Gallimard Jeunesse, Ute Fuht and Raoul Sautai, (the latter two of whom also illustrated) it is full of warm, vibrant colour and drawings so detailed that you look twice to see if they're really photographs.

February events for families in the North West and Manchester area

There is always loads going on for families in the North West, including free and cheap events, but over half term some venues push the boat out and put on some really special events. Here are some of the things you can get up to with your children this half term and Spring...

In Manchester...

Saturday, 18 February 2017

New Carlton Children's Books for Spring - Bundle Giveaway

One of the best things about any new season is all the new releases, and this Spring Carlton Books have loads of really interesting books for children. We've been sent 3 of the best to take a look at. They're a really eclectic mix taken from 3 different book ranges - and one of my readers can win all 3 for themselves.


The books I'm looking at are My First Creativity Book: Ponies (age 3+) by Anna Brett, The Fairy Creativity Book (age 6+) also by Anna Brett and Champions League Fact File written by Clive Gifford.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Who Will Be Your Family Flood Marshall?

Recent research has found that the 72% of us have no idea what to do in the event of a flood in our home. We don't understand what a flood alert is, don't have a personal flood plan, and only 18% of us know who is responsible for keeping our home safe from flooding.

My 8 year old has stepped up to the challenge to answer these questions and become our Family Flood Marshall.


Our home has never yet been in a flood, but some of my children's schoolfriends aren't so lucky. In December 2015 hurricanes Desmond and Eva caused 16,000 homes in the UK to be flooded. Many of those homes hadn't ever flooded in the past, and fairly close to us, a 200 year old pub was washed away. Nature likes to surprise us.

1. Are we in danger? The first thing the Family Flood Marshall needs to know, is if we are in danger of flooding. Listen to the radio, watch the news and weather reports, and if you feel you are at risk, you can always get the most up-to-date information available from the Environment Agency Flood Information Service or by calling Floodline 0345 988 1188.

Are you still financially linked to your ex?

It's always good to learn something new, and yesterday I learned that up to 6 years after you have closed a joint credit product, you are still linked to that person financially, and it could well have an effect on your ability to borrow money.

When my relationship with my ex broke down we both moved on, and within 2 years we both lived with other people. Our story is an all-round happy one, but it's easy to see how a whole group of people can become financially entwined really quite quickly. It would never have occurred to me that my exes new partner's financial history had any effect on me, and could affect my ability to get any credit from a mortgage through to a mobile phone.


I'm not alone. Almost 11.7 British people took out a joint financial product with a partner they’re now separated from, and 69% of us didn’t realise a link still exists when we close the account. Less than 3% of people surveyed by Censuswide knew you were linked for 6 years*.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

30 months - 2 1/2 years #TBCSmiles

It's ridiculous to think that it's been 2 1/2 years since we lost Elspeth. That is a really long time and back 2 1/2 years ago I don't know what I expected, but I think imagined we'd be settling into a different life where Elspeth was further from our thoughts. Instead, she's right there all of the time, and I guess this is how it's going to be. But we are learning to cope with that better.

Everyone here can talk about Elspeth now. We remember her with fondness, smile and laugh at things she once said or did. She is mentioned now more than she has been in a long time, and it is so much more relaxed than it used to be.

It would have been Elspeth's 19th birthday on Sunday, so when we were able to all get together, (except for our 19yo at Uni) we went out to eat. It was a lovely relaxed evening, the food was good, but the company was fantastic. There really is no greater joy for myself and my partner than to watch our children laughing and joking together - like any normal family. There were lots of smiles.

We remembered Elspeth's birthday with our annual Double-Cake Day. It's exactly what she would have wanted.


Thank you to everyone who shared smiles with us using the #TBCSmiles hashtag - it's been fantastic seeing them all and peeping into some precious moments with you. They are all amazing and looking through them really is the best job.