Friday, 23 September 2016

Colt Express Family Game Review (age 10+)

Our latest game review is another more grown up game from Asmodee, suitable for 2-6 players aged 10+. Colt Express is a turn-taking battle with a difference, as each round has a set up phase, and then the action is played out - and it never goes exactly as you expected!


Inside the box are 132 game cards, wooden bandit-shaped counters and a Marshall, a press-out cardboard 3D train and scenery, 26 loot tokens and a rulebook.


The train once assembled has a locomotive and 6 carriages. A different number of carriages are used depending on the number of players. We played with 3, so used 3 carriages.

In a stroke of pure genius the Colt Express box is decorated inside and split into compartments to store the entire assembled set safely. It makes a really nice feature from something that is actually incredibly useful.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Minuscule: Valley Of The Lost Ants family DVD Review And Giveaway

Minuscule: Valley Of The Lost Ants is one of the latest family DVD releases from Lionsgate. A movie suitable for anyone, it mixes animation and live action backdrops really well, to create a nice tale that has enough adventure to keep my boys watching throughout, and is gentle enough to be perfect for a family movie afternoon.
This is a tale of excitement and peril starring a little ladybird who has become separated from his family. He very quickly finds himself attacked by some rogue insects (flies), and in the battle loses a wing.

Almost defenceless and crippled, he befriends a black ant named Mandible, and joins forces with his colony to defend their nest from an invasion by red fire ants.

Ninjago Event until October 20th at LEGOLAND Discovery Centre, Manchester

LEGOLAND Discovery Centre in Manchester has transformed into the world of Ninjago to celebrate the brand new LEGO Ninjago adventure Day of the Departed Ninjas. We went down first thing on Saturday morning to be among the first people to take a look for ourselves...and to meet the 6 foot tall Kai minifigure obviously....


All the children can take a ninja headband on entry - which they were all delighted about. During the Ninjago event children arriving at LEGOLAND dressed as a Ninja can have a free poster (while they still have stock). The trip starts with the Factory Tour, this time with added Ninja skills!

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

This Book Thinks You're A Scientist book review (age 7+)

We've been reading a few non-fiction books recently, and one of our latest reviews 'This Book Thinks You're A Scientist' has really captured my 6 1/2 year old's attention. He currently wants to be a Scientist, and loves experimenting, especially Chemistry...


This Book Thinks You're A Scientist is by Harriet Russel. Absolutely crammed full of activities and experiments that children can do in their own home, if necessary using everyday items that most children can get hold of.

Monday, 19 September 2016

How I Came To Love Gary The Cat....

Well, I must love him because I just paid £181.30 to the nice vet for operating on him this morning. I don't usually shell out that sort of cash for randomers who turn up at my door wailing, but since I let him into the house 6 months ago, Gary has kind of grown on me. I still generally don't like cats though, let me make that one clear...


I'm actually a dog person. Dogs are loyal, they get excited to see you and care about you. It may be superficial, but I'll take it, I'm not proud. They mainly just want to sit as close as possible* to you and be petted.
*Unless there's a fire or other source of heat in the room, then you are history.

Beets Blu Wireless Heart Rate Monitor Review

Heart monitors are becoming really popular, with fitness fans wanting to know exactly how far they can push themselves, and working out in carefully divided portions to exercise their heart sensibly to the max. They are also useful for people who need to monitor their heart for medical reasons. Beets Blu have recently added an updated Heart Rate Monitor to their range, and sent us one to try out.


I'm not a person who works out, and nor is my partner, but last November he was taken to hospital with a suspected heart attack and his cardiac rate was all over the place for several hours. I pretty much agreed to this review out of sheer curiosity, although we do also have a 16 year old runner in the family who will take charge of the Wireless Heart Rate Monitor afterwards.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Z-Arts Manchester present Michael Rosen's Bear Hunt, Chocolate Cake & Bad Things

I'm a big fan of Michael Rosen, and brand new to Z-Arts in Manchester is the interactive exhibition Bear Hunt, Chocolate Cake and Bad Things. We were really lucky to be invited to be among the first people to explore the interactive experience in a preview on Friday night.


Michael Rosen is the children's novelist and poet responsible for We're Going On A Bear Hunt and around other 140 books. He served as Children's Laureate from June 2007 to June 2009 and is a TV presenter and a political columnist who is passionate about the importance of language and arts in the education and development of children.

Our Bear Hunt, Chocolate Cake & Bad Things experience started with an introduction for the children from the storyteller, who also acted as our guide once we went through the blue doors and into the exhibit.


The storyteller was great, and incredibly patient and tolerant with our 6 year old sensory-seeking bundle of fun, who turned the volume and excitement up to 11 as soon as we walked into the exhibit....

Friday, 16 September 2016

Spineless Classics One Page Books Swallows And Amazons Review

When is a book not a book? When it's a Spineless Classic. Posters which have the entire text of a book on one sheet, beautifully arranged, incredibly crisply printed, and still large enough to read - even with my tired aging eyes! We have been sent the ever-popular classic Swallows And Amazons by Arthur Ransome for review.


Swallows And Amazons was released in 1930, and tells the tale of a group of children from 2 families and what they get up to over a Summer holiday in the Lake District. They spend most of their time adventuring outdoors on two small dinghies (Swallow and Amazon), and battle it out to take control of a small island on which they have been playing and camping.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

25 Months Smiles... #TBCSmiles

I don't have any clever words or deep sentiments today. I'm still exhausted from writing my #WorldSuicidePreventionDay post last Friday. Writing is cathartic, it is therapy, it sorts out your head, but I can't go through that too often.

Having to face reality head-on is hard, and it'll always be hard. Most of the time I daren't step back and look at the big picture because I fear losing my step. Head down and plug onwards. Just keep swimming Nemo.

A HUGE thank you to everyone who shared, liked, commented and messaged about my post the other day. The online support is invaluable, and I doubt we'd be upright without you. I have always said that if even one person went to get help, it was all worthwhile.

I heard on Saturday about more than one 'even one person'. I held out an accessible and useful net for not just someone, but some. I wish them all of the strength that they will need to go forward. I hope they find their support, and that in 10, 20, 40 years time they remember 2016 with their head held high and know that they didn't fail, they didn't let anyone down, they won. They are still here, and they will have created and shared many thousands of smiles.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

BlogOn MSI Autumn 2016 Icebreaker Linky

The weekend after next I will be attending BlogOn Conference in Manchester and I have to say I'm not particularly nervous - but knowing a lot of people, helping get the goodie bags packed and this being my 4th (?) BlogOn all helps! Zoe over at MamaGeek will be delivering a session, and she has also very kindly offered to host a 'get to know you' linky. So this is me:

1. Share a recent photo of you (or a doodle!)
Here's one my 8 year old took at Specsavers last week. A rare shot of me with my eyes open!


2. Describe yourself in five words or less
Smiley, friendly, perfectionist, tragic backstory.