Saturday, 15 June 2019

June #TBCSmiles... 58 Months

It's the middle of the month again and it's a bit different from this time last year! Although we've had a bit of sunshine, it's been short-lived and a big well done to anyone who has the suntan they already had 12 months ago.

Rain has been quite a feature the past couple of days. My thoughts really do go out to anyone who has been flooded. Losing everything you own so suddenly is far more than I think I can appreciate. It's easy to say "at least you got out okay", but the months of sorting, cleaning, rebuilding, fighting with insurers and living in temporary accommodation are no fun for anyone.


You've all made the most of what sun we had - there are loads of outdoor photos this month and a few children riding bikes. My children also finally learned to ride this month. A lot of things went on hold when we lost Elspeth, whether we realised it or not. We are beginning to catch up a bit now - thanks to our big kids for the nudges and the time spent running alongside their brothers.

Friday, 14 June 2019

Frogs, Fairies and Dodos 3 Children's Book Reviews Age 4-8 (sent by Matador)

Matador are the children's division of Troubador Press and they regularly send us books to take a look at. I usually cover books for older children, but these are 3 shorter fiction books which are especially suitable for beginner readers in Early Years and Key Stage 1 infants, aged around 4-8.

Frogs, Fairies and Dodo's 3 Children's Book covers

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Disney/Pixar Toy Story: Woody's Augmented Reality Adventure Book Review (Sent by Carlton Kids)

This month Carlton Kids have sent us Disney/Pixar Toy Story: Woody's Augmented Reality Adventure Book for review. It's aimed at children of all ages 3+ and my boys still enjoy Toy Story despite being 9 and 10, plus we all wanted a sneak peek of the new characters from Toy Story 4, especially Forky!

Carlton Disney Toy Story Book AR Book Cover Image with characters and title

The Augmented Reality is created via your phone or tablet camera and a free app. which you'll have to download from Play Store or Apple before you start. It's not huge and only took a few seconds.

The app. is ready to go instantly and very intuitive, with good, clear instructions on screen to get you started. There are very few options, so you can find everything easily and it's even ideal for very young children or technophobes.

Monday, 10 June 2019

Bandai STEM Kits - Glowing Crystals and Sea Monkeys (Sent for review by Bandai)

This month Bandai have sent us two more of their STEM educational kits for review. The National Geographic Green Crystal Growing Lab (age 8+) and the Sea Monkeys Ocean Zoo (age 6+).

Bandai STEM Kits - Glowing Crystals and Sea Monkeys packs

National Geographic Green Crystal Growing Lab (age 8+) allows you to grow a glow-in-the-dark pale green crystal. You are supplied with everything you need except water and a suitable container, and it's a really easy kit to get started.

Bandai STEM Kits Green Glowing Crystal lab pack shot

In the pack are growing powder, a seed rock, stirring stick, real Fluorite crystal, magnifying glass and a learning guide with the instructions. Packaged entirely in cardboard and the pull out cardboard tray is super handy for containing any mess while you work.

Thursday, 6 June 2019

Grown Ups AFOL Night at LEGOLAND Discovery Centre (Complimentary Visit)

We've been to adult night at LEGOLAND Discovery Centre before and I've even written about it, so being invited along to review is something I was more than happy to agree to. Adult Fan Of LEGO nights take place every month, and it's only £12 for adults 18+ to play as much as you want for 2 hours without little people in the way.


This month LEGOLAND Discovery Centre are hosting 2 AFOL nights and hopefully it'll do really well because we had a brilliant time last night. Right from the start we were excited - a new brick in the 'Factory Tour' to compliment this season's 4D movie and theme of LEGO City Police and Emergency Services - Report For Duty.


The specific theme for this month's AFOL Night was Terrific Telly and there were several special games to play plus the Big Build Competition and loads of prizes to win.

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

FREE Children's Eye Care Review with Optical Express (Paid Partnership).

In the UK children under 16 are all entitled to free eye care, including FREE EYE TESTS, but not everyone uses it, in fact 1 in 10 people don't take their children for a regular eye test. We are working in a paid collaboration with Optical Express to show that taking your child for an eye test is easy, quick and entirely painless - in fact my children have always seen it as something of an adventure!

View of Optical Express frontage in intu Trafford Centre Manchester

In their 2019 survey, Optical Express found that children are using screens for an average of 4 hours a day, twice as much time as was reported only 2 years ago. This is leading to an increase in headaches and can also influence the development of short sightedness. Some estimates suggest that by 2050 half of the world’s population will be myopic.

We visited the Optical Express store inside intu Trafford Centre, Manchester for our free children's eye test. Booking is essential. I booked my eye test online and received a follow up call, when I was able to give more information about my son and his health.

inside Optical Express store manchester trafford centre range of glasses
f your child has a vision or eye health problem, the earlier you catch it, the less they will fall behind their friends. Many eye conditions can be corrected permanently or changes made so that your child has an easier life. It has a massive effect on confidence.

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Get Out And Grow School Gardening Kit Giveaway (Paid Partnership with Sudocrem)

It's almost Summer and a great time to get children outdoors and learning about where fruit and vegetables come from and how they are grown. We're working in a paid partnership with Sudocreme to promote gardening in schools and show just what a difference it can make.


In a recent survey, 90% of children said that they would like a garden at school. The whole process of planting and raising plants includes maths, science and a host of other subjects, as well as giving your child skills for life. Enjoying and even eating the end results will give anyone a real sense of pride - plus the fresher the produce, the more vitamins and flavour it has!

This Summer Sudocrem are donating 20 Get Out and Grow Kits worth £160 to UK schools and I'm delighted to say I will be giving one of them away on this blog. The kits contain everything the school needs to make a start with their own garden, including children’s wheelbarrows, gardening gloves, mini-trowels, seeds and lessons on how to make the most of a school garden.

Monday, 3 June 2019

Yard And Coop Manchester Family Restaurant Review (Complimentary Visit)

Last week Yard And Coop invited us over to review and as we all had a few days off, it was perfect timing. Specialists in chicken, but with a menu that looked equally interesting to me as a vegetarian, we were really looking forward to it and I'm pleased to say we absolutely were not disappointed.


The visit got off to a great start before we even got inside, because the artist Qubek / Mural Life was busy painting their outside wall. He's responsible for some awesome images around Manchester, including two of the most poignant and well-remembered after the Arena bomb. It was amazing timing that wasn't lost on my 9 year old.

Qubek Graffiti Russ painting a mural of golden wings breaking out of a golden egg

Russ of Mural Life Qubek Manchester with his mural just finished

Inside the Yard And Coop is huge and spaciously laid out with a range of different seating and tables to suit anyone, or any number. You could have an intimate 2 person meal here or an office party with 35 people and it would be perfect. We were offered a corner booth with a big sofa and loads of windows and gladly accepted.

Friday, 24 May 2019

Truth Bombs Party Game Review (Age 14+) Sent by Big Potato Games

My entire household love Big Potato Games. They make and distribute slightly more grown up games, with an element of adult humour and understanding that makes them ideal for teenagers and young people, or for playing together with your older children. We've been sent Dan and Phil's Truth Bombs to review. A 14+ rated game for 4-8 players which is incredibly easy to play straight out of the box and it's a massive hit here.

Truth Bombs Party Game Review front of box with colourful explosion

Inside the box you have everything you need to play: 70 double-sided Question Cards, 7 Coloured Card Mats, 160 'Target' (or Answer) Sheets, 8 Pencils, A Scorepad and the very short Rules.

Truth Bombs Game box contents including rules, target sheets etc as listed

The double-sided Question Cards have print repeated upside down at the opposite end - like a playing card, you can read from either side of the table. This stops everyone constantly picking them up to read them. Genius move.

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Reviews Revisited April 2013-2018 - including Handheld Gtech, 1 Year School Shoes, Games, Digital Kids and Ninjas

I'm a bit late with my Reviews Revisited posts for April - naively I assumed my operation and recovery would go swimmingly and I didn't get them written in advance - there's a lesson there...

Here is a look back at items we've reviewed during April since the blog started in 2013. The cream of the crop, the things I've loved and the items that simply turned out to be so much better than I ever imagined. I'm not including the turkeys because who needs reminding about something that wasn't as good as expected or broke 3 weeks later...


Back in 2013 I reviewed one of my own personal dream toys. I was given a hefty discount in return for a review, but I'd have done one anyway because the Wonderworld Eco-House is still one of my favourite toys ever.


It's had many, many hours of play and aside from a couple of repairs to the water butt and windmill, it's pristine. One for my Grandchildren.