Saturday, 21 October 2017

Starry 2in1 Day & Night SmartGlobe With 3D AR Review for Oregon Scientific

The Oregon Scientific SmartGlobes are traditional globes with a 3D AR twist and we've been sent the Starry 2in1 Day and Night Globe for review. The globe contains a light and when you turn it on, you can see 88 constellations superimposed in position over the Earth. There is also an accompanying free app. with thousands of facts about Earth and beyond.


There is quite a bit of plastic protective packaging in this box, but it's very quick to open. Inside you have your globe and it's base. You will need either 3 x AA batteries or a USB charging cable and power source to operate the light as they are not included.

Child Of The Divide - Big Imaginations Festival Launch At Z-Arts

Tonight we attended the VIP Family Launch of the Big Imaginations Festival. This is a huge Family Theatre Event which encompasses 9 Shows over 18 Days at 26 Venues in the North West. The Launch Event was followed by the first North West performance of Child Of The Divide.


The journey into Manchester was uneventful and all the traffic was going the opposite way, and as soon as we arrived we were offered a plate full of delicious veggie and vegan curries with all the extras, so it really got off to a great start!

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Nerf N-Strike Elite AccuStrike RaptorStrike Blaster Review for Hasbro (age 8+)

The Nerf N-Strike Elite AccuStrike RaptorStrike is one of the most powerful and accurate Nerf Blasters I've ever used. It's also the biggest, yet weighs very little! A manually operated bolt-action blaster which is incredibly simple to use, this is one of my new favourites. My 9 year old is a big fan too!

Nerf N-Strike Elite AccuStrike RaptorStrike review for Hasbro

This huge box is almost entirely cardboard and very eco-friendly as well as being super simple to open. The rubbery fastenings around the blaster do need cutting because if you pull them and they snap back, they really sting! Everything else goes straight in the recycling though.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Ravensburger 3D Puzzle Review. Jigsaws for people who don't do jigsaws.

I'm not a person you'd usually associate with jigsaws, but when I saw the Ravensburger VW T1 Campervan Puzzle at BlogOn I was smitten. The model is a plastic 3D camper built using jigsaw pieces and they were kind enough to let me review it. I was also fascinated to see if it was the most fragile thing on the planet.


This is a 162 piece puzzle from Ravensburger's 3D range, recommended for age 10+ and measuring around 30cm (1ft) long when completed. And it's a Volkswagen Campervan. I've written about Volkswagens before - I've been travelling in them for the last 15 years.

Hot Wheels RC Drone Racerz Drone and Vehicle Set Review for Bladez (8+)

Hot Wheels RC Drone Racerz is a drone and a vehicle in one. You can fly the drone indoors or attach it to the included Hot Wheels car base and it will fly across those jumps and loop the loop with style.


The box is mainly cardboard and opening takes seconds to open. Inside are lots of printed cards - they fold into ramps, a ring (to jump through), a start/finish sign and a phone stand for filming your driving.

The box also includes the Drone Racer, Controller, Hot Wheels vehicle base, 2 interchangeable body shells, spare blades, instructions and a USB connector for charging. In a move of sheer genius they also include a small screwdriver to insert the 4 x AA batteries for the charger (not included).

Monday, 16 October 2017

Dell'Ugo Complete Meals and Evexia Thrive Gluten Free Fresh Pasta Review

Dell'Ugo and Evexia Thrive are two brands hoping to bring delicious fresh pasta to everyone. Dell'Ugo create really delicious 3 minute complete meals that anyone with limited time can enjoy, and Evexia Thrive have a free-from range that makes life a lot more tasty for people on a gluten-free diet. Everything not vegan is made with cheese containing non-animal rennet and suitable for vegetarians.


As much as we'd love to have the time to create our own fresh filled pasta everyday, it's simply not possible and shop bought pasta can be disappointing. Dell'Ugo have been making fresh pasta since 1929, and they've learned a few things along the way.


We were sent two Dell'Ugo Raviolis. Both are a complete meal for 2 in a box and take only 3 minutes to cook.

Zomlings Children's Collectibles / Stockingfillers Review for Magic Box Toys

Zomlings are squishy rubbery characters and Series 6 alone has over 100 different designs. Some are themed and some are rarer than others, but prices start at a mere 50p, so they are a genuinely affordable collectible that my 7 year old especially loves.


We've amassed quite a collection of Zomlings and this was boosted by my visit to BlogOn Conference, as Magic Box Toys were there with the latest release Series 6 Zomlings Blind Bags, Collectors Guide Map and toy sets.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

38 Months #TBCSmiles

Autumn has arrived with a bump. The lawn is a thick carpet of leaves and the heating is going on at both ends of the day. The children my boys play with all go home when the lights come on, and that's becoming increasingly early now. Pumpkins are everywhere and Christmas is coming. It's a natural time for contemplation.

The last month has been a steady one for us. It saw a return to College and Uni for 3 of our big kids and a much emptier house, which is taking a bit of getting used to. It's also my busiest period of the year in the run up to Christmas, so I've been working until the early hours most nights. It's a distraction I'm well aware of, and grateful for.

The past month has seemed to be full of births and losses. It never evens out, although in the grand scheme it should, the sadness from those who've gone is never cancelled out by the joy at those newly born. My heart melts at the sight of a precious infant safely delivered, but my thoughts linger with those who are in the fog of grief.
"You just go on. And then one day... you wake up and it's just the slightest bit better. That's the way it changes, little by little... small increments." The Believers, 1987

I won't include this photo in the smiles because there is no smile, but this photo is pure love, and hope. Never let go of hope. Sometimes it seems it's the only thing left, but it can help you find the greatest of wealth.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Explorer Dinosaurs! Children's Timeline Book Review and Giveaway

On Monday 16th October What On Earth? Publishing in association with the Natural History Museum release a fantastic new book in their Explorer Series. Explorer Dinosaurs! is more than simply a book, as it also contains a 1.8m long (6ft) Timeline Poster.


The Explorer Books are devised by Christopher Lloyd, with illustrations from Andy Forshaw. Readers can also join the Eagle-Eyed Explorer Club, completing special missions and challenges in order to win certificates and prizes. The first 100 successful agents to complete the Explorer Dinosaurs! mission will be presented with a fascinating Coprolite Fossil (petrified dinosaur poo!). Go to the Explorer Club Homepage to find out more.


Explorer Dinosaurs! has 36 pages of text and illustrations split into relating the history of Palaeontology and the discovery of dinosaur fossils, how dinosaurs lived and survived, and how they died. It also has a section on which dinosaurs are still with us - you may be surprised!


Towards the back of the book is a quiz (my boys loved this as much as I used to when I was their age) and right at the back is the Timeline itself. This is an 8 page spread pulling out to a 6ft long poster, which can be removed from the book and stuck to the wall.



What On Earth? books are full of information, but using the timeline format and clear illustrations allows anyone to immediately have a better understanding of the different periods of history and where they actually slot into place. Because the books are written in associated with the Natural History Museum, you can be assured that the information included is to the best of current knowledge correct and up-to-date - even if it is 100 million years old!


Explorer Dinosaurs! is a great book for children of all ages with an interest in dinosaurs, fossils or pre-history. Younger children can read with an adult and take information from the illustrations, older children and adults are still fascinated by the text and the clear way you can see the evolution of the dinosaurs and life on Earth over the past 230 million years or so.

The Explorer Dinosaurs Timeline Wallbook is full colour, with a 36 page hardbacked book and a removable 8 page (1.8m/6ft) fold out wallbook. Available now for pre-order or from Monday priced £9.99. An excellent gift for any dinosaur fan.

If dinosaurs aren't your thing, many other books are available containing posters and timelines. We have previously reviewed the What On Earth? Timeline Wallbook Of British History.


What On Earth? Publishing have offered a copy of the Explorer Dinosaurs Timeline Book for one of my readers. Entry to the giveaway is by Rafflecopter form below, open to UK entrants only and it will end at midnight Sunday 5th November.  Full T's and C's at the bottom of the Rafflecopter form. 

To see my other giveaways or for advice if you are new to Rafflecopter forms, please go to my Giveaways page...


What On Earth would like to send all of my entrants a discount voucher - for this reason alone the first and only mandatory entry is to enter your email address. Your details will not be used for any other purpose and you won't be subscribed to any regular mailings.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We were sent our copy of Explorer Dinosaurs! for review.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Disney On Ice presents Passport To Adventure, Manchester Arena Review

We were lucky enough to be invited to see Feld Productions Disney On Ice presents Passport To Adventure at Manchester Arena on Wednesday night. This show kicked off the Manchester run, which ends on Sunday 15th October.


It's safe to say we were all in good spirits and really excited about the show - especially seeing Peter Pan and of course the characters from Zootropolis! My children weren't in the mood for press photos, so we obliged.


The children were impressed by the Fit To Dance team and their boomerangs though - throwing and catching on skates is very skillful. I didn't see a single skater fall all night, it looked to be a near perfect performance.