Saturday, 24 June 2017

SEA LIFE - Blackpool Has It All 2017 Review

Last weekend we spent a full day as guests in Blackpool as part of the Blackpool Has It All campaign with Visit Blackpool, Merlins Entertainments and Blackpool Pleasure Beach. We rode on the trams and reviewed 3 of the seafront attractions - Sandcastle Water Park, Madame Tussauds and SEA LIFE.

We're very familiar with SEA LIFE Manchester, we've visited many times, but SEA LIFE Blackpool is different. Whereas Manchester have Turtles and Octopus and more Tropical creatures, Blackpool have more Sharks, Jellyfish and Rainforest creatures. (Click on any image to make it bigger).

Friday, 23 June 2017

Word Has It! Family Game Review for University Games

Word Has It! is a game for 2 to 4 players aged 7+. The aim of the game is to build a longer word than your opponents during the time limit of only 40 seconds. Your word has to start with a given letter and be on the theme shown on the card. It's fast, it's fun, but it's quite tricky!
Packaging is brilliant, with barely any plastic, only 2 bags to hold the letter pieces in transit. Everything stores inside the box afterwards with no dismantling.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Mor Sausages Review (for meat-eaters - but do include veg)

I'm vegetarian, so I don't often review meat, but when my partner fancies it, I'll accept on his behalf. Mor Sausages did interest him because they promise more than your average sausage, and he was very keen to try them.

Mor Sausages Review (for meat-eaters - but do include veg)

Mor have 4 varieties of sausage, each with some more surprising ingredients such as beetroot, chickpeas and super green veg. They are gluten-free and much lower in fat than regular sausages, with pulses such as rice or lentils, plus herbs and spices inspired by foods from around the world.

Getting Ready For Summer With Milton (Giveaway)

Milton are well known by every parent as a company who make sterilising equipment for babies, but it doesn't stop when your child is 12 months, they have products for every member of the family. Milton can clean everything from your patio tables and paddling pool, to your hands before you eat...

We've been sent a 500ml 3in1 Antibacterial Surface Spray, 30 Antibacterial Surface Wipes and 100ml Antibacterial Hand Gel to review. We've used Milton before and I've never found it lacking. The products are all inexpensive and can mean the difference between a great weekend and a sore one.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

We're Going On A Bear Hunt with Ready Brek - Children's Book Giveaway

Ready Brek has been around for the last 80 years - giving our children enough slow-burning energy every morning to see them through until lunch. We're Going On a bear Hunt may be only 28, but Michael Rosen's classic story has also become something of an institution.

Both Ready Brek and Bear Hunt are committed to keeping children healthy, active and enjoying the outdoors - and they make a great team. New Ready Brek packs have a Bear Hunt Guide on the back, with games and activities for your very own bear hunt.

Each pack also includes a delicious recipe, there are 3 to collect and they are really easy to make with your children, nutritionally balanced and energy boosting to keep your adventurers going for hours.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Digital Kids Show 2017 Discount Code And Line Up Announcement

Digital Kids Show will be back at Event City in Manchester from 18th-20th November and we'll be there again! My boys love all things digital, so they were in their element. Just about anything tech, gadget, game or internet which is child-safe and kid-related is represented at the show...

We had a really full day last year and in April I posted my full review of the 2016 Digital Kids Show, so if you want to get a better idea of what's there, take a look. Scalextric, Anki Overdive, Magformers, Virtual Reality (including Oculus Rift), board games, beta games, retro games, parkour, inflatables - there was so much to 'do', Digital Kids Show is fantastically hands-on.

The LEGO Batman Movie is available now on DVD and Blu-Ray

We loved The LEGO Batman Movie, that tongue-in-cheek humour and dry wit is hilarious, and the kids laugh for more obvious reasons. A great mix of lightweight storyline and pathos which leaves everyone in a good buddy mood.

We first saw The LEGO Batman Movie in London and then we were given a digital download code to 'buy and keep' so that we could watch it again. I can honestly say I enjoyed it almost as much the second time.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Treetop Nets Review, Heaton Park, Manchester

Treetop Nets has recently opened at Heaton Park in Manchester and we were invited along to review. Treetops Nets is exactly what it sounds like, an aerial adventure completely encased in nets. Visitors aged 3+ can bounce, run, jump and slide in complete safety without the need for a harness.

There are only 4 attractions like this in the whole country and Treetops Nets is the biggest, with over 2000m2 of giant trampolines, walkways, slides and tunnels all made out of netting, suspended between the trees and rising up to 12m off the ground..

Stunningly you can barely see it from outside, so we missed it and went into the park, when in fact it's just to the side of the St Margaret's (play area) car park.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

34 Months #TBCSmiles

The last few weeks have been full of heartbreaking events that have left the entire country stunned. In 4 weeks we've had 2 terrorist attacks and the horrific fire in London. We also had a General Election and have been left with the fallout from a minority government scrambling to maintain power. It's like the plagues descended and the UK is a bit of a mess.

I have had my own moments of despair over the last month, mainly wondering when it was we stopped caring for other people? When did humanity fail? Why would humans treat other humans so badly?

It's easy to become despondent and fearful for the future when things like this happen, but take the advice you will give your children. Most people are good, look for the helpers.

As events have unfolded it became astoundingly evident that people have realised we have the power to help. Using only our brains and what we had to hand, the most amazing things have happened.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Gormless Gods And Hapless Heroes by Stella Tarakson Book Review (age 9+)

My 8 1/2 year old son is a really voracious reader, so we are always searching for new books to read. He's a big fan of history and humour, so Gormless Gods And Hapless Heroes: Tim Baker And The Ancient Curse seemed a perfect choice for him.

The story features a young lad called Tim who has struggled since losing his father. He feels life is hard on him and his Mum. She has to work 2 jobs and he has to do his bit to help. He is busy dusting when the phone rings and he accidentally smashes a very expensive ancient Greek vase.

When the vase smashes everything becomes a bit strange...starting with the surprise appearance of the Ancient Greek hero Hercules...

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

27 Years With My Rubbish Tattoo

My oldest tattoo is 27 years old. It wasn't even what I wanted when I went to get it done.

Having a Tattoo was different back then. When I got my first tattoo I was 18 and I went to the only tattooist I knew of in Derby. The windows were boarded and when you opened the door it was fairly dingy. A small, dim room with old dark brown wood on the walls and a bench full of design books.

When I walked in the tattooist was on Guinness and his mate was swigging from a can of Special Brew. It was exactly as I expected.

I knew the hard bit was opening the door and I didn't want to repeat that, so there was nothing else to do than say "hello, I want a tattoo". Probably obvious, but it was a good start.

This is not my tattoo.

Scooby Dooby Doo....DVD's A-Plenty! (Review)

Over half term Warner Bros sent a bundle of Scooby Doo DVD's to keep us entertained on rainy days - all available for under £6 each and a long time family favourite. No-one of any age here objects to a spooky mystery or two and some meddling from those pesky kids.

We were sent 5 DVD's including Scooby-Doo's For the Love of Snack, Surf's Up Scooby-Doo, Ruh-Roh Robot, Pirates Ahoy! and Scooby-Doo Run for your Rife, as well as some free printables that you can find on the Warner Bros Kids Scooby Doo website.

Monday, 12 June 2017

The Vegetarian Society Approved Vegan Trademark Launch

On Thursday last week, to take our minds off the General Election, the Vegetarian Society invited a small group of bloggers to their Cookery School in Altrincham, Manchester. We were there as part of the launch of the Vegetarian Society Approved vegan trademark to support the highly successful Vegetarian Society Approved trademark.

I was well aware of the Vegetarian Society and it's charity status because I joined when I was a teenager. I also knew where the Cookery School was because I've been past several times. In fact, when we reviewed Ayuda House B&B and drove past, I actually said "I'd love to go to one of their classes". My wish has been granted.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

The Body Shop Bolton 1st Birthday and Summer Taster

Over half term I popped over to The Body Shop in Bolton to help them celebrate their first birthday and take a look at their Summer products. Formed in 1976 in Brighton, The Body Shop have always attempted to be as ethical as possible, and when I was a teenager were one of very few options for cruelty-free products.

30 years ago The Body Shop was somewhere new and magical, and I loved to shop there. Each birthday and Christmas you'd hope for those familiar bottle shapes. Teenagers today are not so different and I took my 17 year old daughter and her friend with me into Bolton.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Pirates Of The Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge Play Set And Figures Review

A new movie means new toys and Spin Master have sent some of their brand new Pirates Of The Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge toys for us to review. We have Jack Sparrow's Pirate Ship Play Set and the Battle Figure 5-Pack.

The Pirates Of The Caribbean: Salazars Revenge Jack's Pirate Ship Play Set (age 4+) packaging took ages to open, so you'll need scissors and 10 minutes on Christmas morning, but scores well for mainly using card and paper string which can be recycled.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Nerf Super Soaker Floodinator Water Blaster (age 6+) review for Hasbro

It's Nerf time again and this review does not fire darts, Summer is coming and Hasbro are bringing out the Super Soakers. The Nerf Floodinator Water Blaster is a really huge pump action water pistol with a 2 litre tank and it claims to shoot up to 38 feet...

Unpacking is brilliant. I love the packaging, it's entirely card and paper string and can be recycled in the paper bin. It took seconds to cut the strings and release the blaster.

I was stunned at just how light the Floodinator is. Compared to dart blasters and powered Nerf I'd expect it to be light, but it's very impressive indeed. Filling the 2 litre tank does ofviously change that, giving you a load that is just manageable for my 7 year old.

David Walliams' Gangsta Granny Live On Stage Review - Manchester Opera House

David Walliams' bestselling children's book Gangsta Granny has been brought to the stage by Birmingham Theatre Company and we were among the very lucky people to be attending the opening night at Manchester Opera House.

The story features Ben, who always has to stay with his Granny when his dance-obsessed parents are busy. Ben finds this incredibly boring, until one day when he finds some clues that make him realise his Granny is far more interesting than he could ever have guessed...

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Name A Star - Star Name Registry Gifts Review And Giveaway

The Star Name Registry is the UK's no.1 online star registry. Naming your star is as easy as filling in a really short form and it will be added into the Star Name Registry within 24 hours. You star will be visible from the UK and their gift sets are ideal for just about anyone. We've been sent the Extra Bright Star Gift Set to review.

The Extra Bright Star Gift Set comes in a plain presentation box. Pretty and protective, I was able to just tie it up with a ribbon to give it as a gift - and my partner had no idea what was going to be inside, nor would he ever have guessed.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Penguin Pile Up Game (age 5+) From Ravensburger Review

I spotted Penguin Pile Up on the Ravensburger stand at Blog On Conference and really wanted to try it, so I pestered the poor man until he handed it over. A balancing game which can be played solo or by up to 6 players aged 5+, this is one I knew my 7 year old would love.

Everything fits neatly inside the box and there's no waste packaging or plastic aside from the outer plastic wrap and the bags for the separate penguin parts.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Meccano Chevrolet Corvette Model Kit 6036477 (age 10+) Review

Our latest review for Meccano is the Chevrolet Corvette Car Model. A 279 piece model for age 10 and over, this gorgeous bright yellow vehicle is the most grown-up oldest-rated Meccano model we've reviewed so far.

Inside the box you have the all-important instruction booklet plus 3 bags of parts. One of the bags contains 6 smaller bags, including one housing the Meccano tools.

Hotter Shoes For Summer (Review)

Last week I was invited to the Bury branch of Hotter Shoes to take a good look at their Summer collection. A huge array of sandals, pumps and lighter shoes in a fabulous variety of colours and all with the Hotter Shoe 'Comfort Concept' sole.

I first visited Hotter Shoes almost 3 years ago and took home a gorgeous pair of blue shoes. I still love them. I've worn them a lot and they've been reliable and comfortable. No frays, holes or loosening seams and miles of walking. I even went so far as to protect and waterproof them last year in my Liquiproof review.

Monday, 29 May 2017

The First Hippo On The Moon at Waterside Arts, Manchester

Waterside Arts Centre is host to a lovely intimate theatre, workspaces, studios and galleries. Literally 'waterside', alongside the canal in the heart of Sale it really is a lovely venue to visit with family. We were invited to an after-school 5pm performance of The First Hippo On The Moon.

Despite worries about traffic, we arrived in plenty of time to enjoy the artwork around the cafe. They have a huge list of drinks of offer - both alcoholic and not - as well as a few snacks.

The First Hippo On The Moon is based on the book for younger children (aged 3+) by David Walliams and was presented by Les Petits Theatre Company using puppetry. One costumed actor plays the lead and the supporting cast of 4 actors played all of the other animals.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Awesome Stuff For Families in Manchester & the North West this half term

There are fabulous events and activities for families this half term all over Manchester and the Northwest. People have spent months planning and putting together shows, workshops and theatre. Why not try something new...

 Here are some of our favourites - if you have anything to add, please email it to me..

Don't forget your local museum and library, entry is usually free and they arrange all sorts for the holidays - here is a great post by Jollies And Jaunts with 10 quirky items you can find in Manchester Musems.


Wednesday, 24 May 2017

We Are Manchester.

I'm an incomer to Manchester. I've been here 10 years. There'll always be a part of me that belongs back in Derby, but Manchester is my home and it's where I've raised my children. I've felt welcome here from the start and that famous Manchester Pride is contagious. It's even more prevalent than the persistent rain...

I feel heartbroken this week that the city I love so much has been attacked. The city, the people, the kids, the Arena, the love of music. Manchester is the only place you can stand in the queue at little Tesco between a pensioner in a Stone Roses t-shirt and a kid in a Smiths t-shirt and know they chose their own clothes. Music is everywhere, everyone I know has been to Manchester Arena. We've all stood where that bomb went off. And we all know of someone who has been injured or killed...

I feel so desperately sad and angry for the people who have lost their loved ones. The families and friends who will spend the rest of forever standing beside an empty space. The parents who lost their children, the children who will have to navigate their lives without a parent. All the lost hope.

I'm broken for the teenagers just launching into adventures without an accompanying adult - doing what young people are meant to do. What my children do. Dating and falling in love, enjoying that precious carefree time. For the children at their first music gig with their parents. For the parents having a night off. Not one of those injured or witness will be able to just pick up and carry on. None of those people's lives will ever be the same again.

Monday, 22 May 2017

BlogOn Conference Spring 2017

We did it! Yeeay! I've been quiet on the blog because I was incredibly busy helping to prepare for BlogOn Conference at the Museum Of Science and Industry in Manchester, but it's all over for now (4 months until the next one!).

Huge thanks to everyone who attended - I hope you also thought it was friendly and welcoming - as well as hopefully a good laugh. It was awesome to see so many PR's, brands and bloggers in person.

I checked people in with Sim when you arrived, and handed out goody bags at the end, but in between I did manage to take some photos...

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Gary's NOT Going To Blog On Linky Post

Last year a small black kitten appeared at our door crying one morning. I've never been a big fan of cats, in fact the opposite, so believe me when I say I tried REALLY hard to find his owner, much to my family's annoyance. When he turned out to be very poorly, we guessed he had been dumped on purpose.

Gary's medical problem was a little delicate and involved the girth of his manhood, but an operation could give Gary a full and healthy life. Unknown to us, at least at first, a lot of Bloggers gave away the price of a cup of coffee or paid 50p to have a go on the Blog On Lucky Dip.

The NOT Going To Blog On Linky Post

Those pounds were enough to allow us to rescue Gary and still have food for my children to eat. Eight months later, it's only fair that he gives everyone an update....and a pretty huge Thank You x

Share a recent picture of you (if you are an anonymous blog, a drawing is fine).

Describe yourself in three words. I'm a cat.

Monday, 15 May 2017

33 Months #TBCSmiles.

It's the 15th of the month and time to share the smiles again. Hopefully everyone has had some of that glorious sunshine - although it's tanking it down here just now! Thank you to everyone who shared their #tbcsmiles photos over the last month - they are genuinely such a pleasure to see and picking the handful to show you is now my children's job because it takes me hours to choose...

This month has been easier for us and I can share the fantastic news that our young person has been discharged from hospital. It's been their home from home for most of the past 2 years, but now they are so well that in fact they have already got a job and plans to return to education in September. They've also honed some pretty mean cooking skills and I had my dinner made for me last Friday. It was the best curry I could ever eat in my life because it was not only delicious, it meant so much. I really couldn't be happier and prouder.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

New Magic Tracks Car Track Toy Review from Re:creation Ltd (age 3+)

Magic Tracks are a whole new sort of car track. Made from small pieces which clip together very quickly and easily - yet don't come apart at all during play. The track will bend and curve into almost any shape you could desire, you can even roll it up for storage.

Magic Tracks has minimal packaging which is really quick to open. The no frills box will however store all of your track when you want to put it away - you don't need anything else.

The set comes with 220 pieces of narrow, carefully shaped slot-together Glow Track in 4 different colours, adding up to an impressive 11ft of speedway in total.

Hasbro Transformers 1-Step Turbo Changers Toy Review

Our latest review for Hasbro is Transformers 'The Last Knight' Turbo Changers. We've been sent Optimus Prime and Barricade 1-Step Turbo Changers (age 5+), plus the Tiny Turbo Changer Bumblebee (age 6+) to review. Promising super easy transformation, these should be the simplest Transformers yet...

I played Transformers with my little brother 30 years ago and now my big children are showing their younger siblings how it's done. Optimus Prime and Bumblebee may have withstood the test of time, but they are considerably less complicated than they used to be!

Thursday, 11 May 2017

CozyPhones Children's Headband Headphones Review

I'm sure every parent of school aged children spends far too much of their time saying "turn it down" or having to enjoy DanTDM or Little Mix on repeat for the 45th day in a row. An obvious solution that you may not have thought of is headphones. CozyPhones Children's Headband Headphones have been designed specially to be comfortable and easy to wear.

We've been sent a pair of CozyPhone Headphones and Gary clearly has influence here because my 7 year old surprisingly chose the Cat Headphones (Frog, Emoji, Unicorn and several others are also available). Packaging was completely minimal and effective, saving waste and postage charges.

Unlike earphones, which children find hard to wear and distracting, or regular headphones, which get dropped and broken and are very heavy for children, CozyPhones are speakers housed in a soft fabric headband.