Monday, 16 January 2017

Just So Festival August 18th to 20th 2017

I am delighted to say that we have the opportunity to return to the Just So Family Arts Festival again in August this year, and this time we should be camping! Yeeay! Just So is produced by Wild Rumpus, and provides an imaginative outdoor adventure that is truly like no other.

Just So Festival August 18th to 20th 2017

We've been twice now, and had the most amazing time. I've previously written a 2015 Just So Festival Review and  2016 Just So Festival Review, as well as a special post for the LEGO Scooby Doo Mystery Machine On Tour.

This year Just So Festival will take over it's usual site at the gorgeous Rode Hall Estate in Cheshire from 18th-20th August. There is a real emphasis on creating your own fun out of seeming very little, and all of the arts are celebrated.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Smiles....29 months later...

 Doesn't the living room look huge without the Christmas tree....said everyone each January...

So Christmas happened, and for us it was good. Lots of relaxed time, nice food and family movies. There may also have been a little LEGO. We spent the New Year with some great friends, and even the return to 'normality' was a bit less stressed because my children only went back to school this week.

2 weeks with our 19 year old home from University really was a pleasure (it's amazing how much you miss them when they move away) and the whole family were ALL able to enjoy Christmas Dinner together as we always have, on Christmas Eve night. It was a very special meal.

It was sadly also patently obvious we had an empty chair at the table, and that night a space in the room where someone else could place their stocking... Christmas makes it very easy to miss those who aren't there.

January is very hard for a lot of people, and a few of my own friends and family have already stumbled. It's dismal and dark and cold, and we have no mid-Winter Festivals to look forward to, only the long stretch towards Summer and sunlight. Head down, strap on the fin and just keep swimming is a great short-term solution, but it's exhausting and brooding, and it means we miss what is happening around us.

It might seem at first backward, but I hope we all get some snow. You can't deny the calming beauty. Crisp fresh air and a clean slate to the world. It blows away the cobwebs, makes you talk to your neighbours, and gives everyone some vitamin D - intentionally or not. It still works even when you are de-icing your car or clearing the driveway... it still breaks through the gloom. It forces change, it makes us wake up, and even if it gives us something to moan about, judging by Facebook, that alone makes a lot of people very happy.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

One Third Stories Review - Learning Languages Through Storybooks.

It's a lovely day when I'm sent something that I liked the sound of, and it far surpasses my expectations. One Third Stories have really achieved that. Their ideal is that every child should have the chance to be bilingual - they want to start a language learning revolution through stories - and their first books are available now. We've been sent the French Language Learning Bundle to review.

I have reviewed children's books now for several years and I was introduced to One Third Stories at a very early stage when they launched on Kickstarter. I liked the sound of it so much that I agreed to promote it - and I'm very pleased I did. The finished product is gorgeous, and it really works!

The French Lanuage Learning Bundle we've been contains a Story Book (with excellent illustrations by Hannah Hutchings), Activity Book (in 4 languages), sheets of double-sided press-out Flash Cards (one side English) and a French Fact File.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Geronimo Children's Festival 2017 Line Up!

We're big fans of children's festivals, and this year we'll be going to Arley Hall in Cheshire from 27th-29th May to review the 2017 Geronimo Festival. This is a brand new location for the festival, which hosts over 130 fun filled activities for families with children under 13, split over ten zones.

The Main Stage at Geronimo boasts shows from some of the biggest children's TV celebrities - including Andy Day, Katie Ashworth, Alex Winters, Luke And Emma, Sohan and more. 

For the first time glamping and camping facilities will be available at the event, and Geronimo will run over three days instead of two - and just for the next couple of weeks Tier 1 Early Bird Tickets are only £19.50 per person Sat or Sun : £16.50 Mon : £37.50 2 Days with camping : £50 3 Days with camping.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

A trip to London With Anki Overdrive and LEGO Lester!

Towards the end of November we were invited by Anki Overdrive to go down to London and have a bit of fun at their Christmas Party. We love the Anki Overdrive, it's great all-round entertainment here, so how could we refuse?

Anki had done some magic, because they'd managed to set up 4 different playable tracks on 3 floors of The Driver - an impressive feat when you remember the cars are robotic and controlled by bluetooth connections. We've reviewed the Anki Family Bundle previously, and regularly play 4-player, but I'm still really impressed they could maintain connection despite the building being so busy.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Building the LEGO 12 days of Christmas

If you follow me on Social Media then hopefully you caught my LEGO #12DaysOfChristmas photos. I built each of the LEGO 24in1 Advent Calendar models during advent, and at the end a friend suggested I try the 12 Days Of Christmas. I could see it was a challenge that was ever increasing in work and possibly difficulty, but it was such a good challenge that I had to at least start...

Building the LEGO 12 days of Christmas

Day 1 was easy enough. A Partridge In A Pear Tree. Believe me, by day 4, I knew a lot more about birds than I did to start with...

Friday, 6 January 2017

Eat Fresh - From Farm To Fork in 72 Hours with Harvester.

The way to get best enjoyment and best nutritional value from your fresh fruit and vegetables is to eat them as quickly as you can after picking. Vitamins and other nutrients start to break down, as do sugars, from the second the crop leaves the plant.

I learned a lot about fruit and vegetables by growing my own, which I could pick and eat sometimes within half an hour. The crisp sweetness of fresh picked carrots, lettuce, sweetcorn and apples really bears no relationship to the soggy, tired produce that has travelled the world and then been in your fridge drawer since last Thursday.

Harvester might not be able to manage an hour, but they have teamed up with suppliers Fresh Direct to ensure customers are 'never more than a day away from a lorryload of freshness'. Fresh deliveries of produce 3 times a week mean nothing has chance to become tired, and should reduce some of the waste from overstocking.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Goodbye 2016...

Another year over and sadly I won't really miss that one either.

2016 was the year the world turned inside out. We prematurely lost David Bowie to Cancer on January 10th and, as predicted, the fabric of the universe silently and steadily began to unravel.

While the over 25's were still in shock, Cancer came for Alan Rickman, Hogwart's Professor Snape, so that the under 25's could also wander around stunned and at a loss. Just in case any UK demographic felt left out, before January was ended, long-standing Radio DJ and presenter of Children in Need for 36 years, Sir Terry Wogan was also taken. And it all pretty much carried on that way all year...

Friday, 30 December 2016

LEGO Star Wars Captain Rex's AT-TE set 75157 Review

It really wouldn't be Christmas in our house without Star Wars LEGO, and very kindly Santa and LEGO conspired together for my latest review. My 8 year old found the LEGO Star Wars Captain Rex's AT-TE in his stocking, and it was built by Boxing Day lunchtime....

There are 5 minifigures in this set, which is based on characters and the AT-TE from Star Wars Rebels. Captain Rex, Commander Gregor, Commander Wolffe, Imperial Inquisitor Fifth Brother and a Stormtrooper.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Goodbye to the Kick-Ass Princess

You can't choose a girl their hero. You can supply them with all kinds of politically correct and gender neutral toys and books, teach them about Mary Seacole, Maya Angelou, Rosa Parks and Emmeline Pankhurst. You can tell them they can be anything that they want to be, but you can't decide which influences they'll find most important. You can only watch and hope they chose a sensible path.

Primary school for me was generally awful, but never during the Spring of 1978. I was in demand, because I was the only 1 of the 7 girls in my year who liked Star Wars. The boys couldn't play Star Wars properly without the female lead role, and none of them wanted to play a girl. For every breaktime that Spring, I was Princess Leia.