Friday, 28 April 2017

Personalised Bronze Sextant Pocket Watch Review: GiftsOnline4U

When I review a gift website it can be quite tricky to find something appropriate that fits the budget. I was honestly spoilt for choice with GiftsOnline4U and I ended up choosing something I'd otherwise never have found, yet it's perfect...

My partner has long-standing loves of both watches and ships, so this Personalised Bronze Pocket Watch With Sextant Design is spot on. Unbelievably GiftsOnline4U actually stock over 100 different engraved pocket watches - plus another 4,400 personalised gifts for anyone of any age...

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Mowgli and Byron Corn Exchange Manchester Restaurant Reviews

My 8 year old loves trying new foods, so was ecstatic to be given the opportunity to review two of Manchester Corn Exchange's restaurants in one day. The boys were to be filmed giving their opinions of the Kids Menus at Mowgli (Indian Street Food) and Byron (Proper Hamburgers).

We started off at Mowgli, where my youngest decided almost immediately that he would disown us and go to sit with our friends from Simslife. Thankfully they didn't mind! He chose the same meal as his brother - the Kids Menu Gunpowder Chicken and Fries. They like curries but they like generally spicy too...

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

New STABILO Stationery review for National Stationery Week.

STABILO make great stationery for all members of the family, so when I said we'd be getting a handful of new products to look at, 4 different people here immediately got excited. We've been sent the new STABILO BOSS Original Pastel Highlighters, a beYou! Ballpoint Pen and EASYstart Colouring Pencils.

The STABILO BOSS Original Pastel Highlighters are that very familiar shape and style which we've all used, but now available in pastels! Reliable and long-lasting, they really haven't needed to change since before I was a student.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

The Non-Wedding Anniversary...

In a couple of weeks I'll have been with my partner for 11 years. It's a long time but there'll be no celebrations, meals out or cards. It's most likely he won't even know the date is in any way significant.

We aren't married. In fact I've never been married. I was with my older children's Dad for 15 years, but we didn't marry either. When I was young and politically strident I wasn't going to be owned by a man, now I'm older I know that isn't really the case. I'm paid to publish posts such as this one and write about all kinds of daft stuff, but we have a big family, so it's lack of money and general logistics which prevent me now.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Education - a right or a privilege?

I filled in a questionaire on Facebook the other day, you may have seen it. You answer a range of questions and it tells you which political party you most agree with. Its like a blind taste test to show who you should probably vote for...
There was a question, 'Should university fees be scrapped?'. There's room for discussion and debate about all of the questions, it's really nicely done. Someone had started a discussion with the comment 'No. Education is a privilege '.
What? A real person just said that? A privilege that you Sir are entitled to, but children born into households with less money than you simply aren't? Because? How can any human being think they have a born right to advanced education, but the guy down the road doesn't, purely because his parents don't have much cash.
Charles Dickens, George Orwell and Stephen King were all born into poverty. Steve Jobs had to drop out of college because his Foster parents couldn't afford it. Imagine what he'd have achieved with your privileged education.
My friend, maybe you simply need the education, that's why you have been given that right by birth.

The Magic Of My Name Personalised Story Book Review (age 0-8)

The Magic Of My Name is a story book for children aged around 0-8 which is personalised for your child. You choose boy or girl, hair colour and then add their own name, which becomes focal to the entire story...

The book arrives wrapped in card and plastic to protect it from the elements during shipping, and I was impressed with the quality and weight. Each page is thick glossy paper. Our book is a hardbacked copy and it's nicely bound and will wipe clean from small spills.

Friday, 21 April 2017

StikBot ZANIMATION Studio Review (age 4+)

StikBots are bendy little characters who have moving arms, legs, torso and head. Their hands and feet are suckers, so they stay where you put them and are ideal for creating stop-motion animation films. Perfect then that they've released their own StikBot ZANIMATION Studio.

The StikBot ZANIMATION Studio is suitable for age 4+ and we've been sent one to review. It promises to make a movie director out of us all and includes everything you'll need barring an actual device - smartphone or tablet. My son is using a 4 year old phone and the app. still worked on his old Android version.

Included in the box are 2 StikBots, a tripod, staging and scenery. We were also sent the Hair Styling Set with a gold StikBot and 9 different hats and hairstyles.

8 Ways To Make Money While Travelling.

This post is written by Nikolai Catrow

Everyone thought about a future profession in childhood, and if your dream came true – you are lucky! As show numerous opinion polls, the happiest people in their profession are those whose work is directly related to travel. Such a work brings pleasure but demands good health and stress resistance from a person.

So, you do not like to stay at home but you love to travel? Choose a profession from the list that will allow you to travel around the world:

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Wearing your creation on your head...BrickHats Review

If you are going to make something cool then you want people to see it. What better place to display your creations than your own head? BrickHats come in 6 different colours and somewhat bizarrely proved the perfect canvas for my partner to create an amazing tribute to the host of The Joy Of Painting, Bob Ross...


Usually I accept an item for review because I think we'll like it, but just occasionally I'm more intrigued than certain. I honestly couldn't decide about BrickHats, but it turns out they're actually brilliant...

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

When the kids decide they don't want to be on the blog...

A friend of mine today explained on her Facebook page that her family would no longer feature on her blog. She'll continue to talk with authority and be a fabulous advocate in her field, but won't share personal stories. This was at the surprise direct request of her 9 year old.

When your children are little it may not occur to you that you are sharing anything they wouldn't like shared - you may not even know. I think you get away with this scott-free for a shorter period than most people might think.

The Boss Baby at the Hilton Hotel, Manchester...

On Easter Sunday we were invited to see a private screening of The Boss Baby at the Hilton Hotel in Manchester. I've never watched a movie in a hotel before and it was such a lovely event and so well organised that I thought I owed it to them to write about it.

The Hilton Hotel are rightly proud of their association with animated family movie The Boss Baby. They want to promote their family friendly side, so that families know they can come and stay and be fully catered for - in fact, children stay and eat for free.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

32 Months #TBCSmiles

It really is the best job in the world going through all of your photos each month - thank you to everyone who has shared their smiles using the #TBCSmiles hashtag. They're infectious and an absolute joy to look at. Some of the brightest smiles are at the bottom of this post.

Easter Egg Hunt 2016

I hope this past month has been a good one for you. Sunshine and the promise of some time off over Easter make everything a little less heavy and the chance to get out and have fresh air without freezing is very welcome!

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

New Skylanders Imaginators Characters for Easter 2017

My two boys had a surprise early Easter gift in the post yesterday courtesy of Activision and Skylanders Imaginators. They've already played the game through a couple of times, but character releases shake everything up and add their own unique characteristics...

New characters have been released in waves and we've been sent the characters in Wave 4 to review including 2 very special edition Easter variant characters. The boxes themselves are gorgeous - the illustrations are really well done.

We have Easter Edition Egg Bomber Air-Strike and Hard-Boiled Flare Wolf and brand new releases Grave-Clobber and Pain-Yatta.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

iExplore Bugs from Carlton Kids Books review (age 7+)

iExplore books are a series of books with an associated app. which brings them to life via Augmented Reality using a smartphone or tablet. iExplore Bugs by Hannah Wilson is fresh off the press at Carlton Kids Books and we've been sent a copy to review.

iExplore Bugs is an excellent quality hardback full colour book. 32 pages full of everything your average child could ever possibly need to know about the most fantastic and exotic bugs alive, including the Goliath Bird-Eating Spider and Queen Alexandra's Birdwing Butterfly.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Digital Kids Show, Event City, Manchester Review

The Digital Kids Show will return to Manchester's Event City this November 18-20th. Filled with all kinds of things that computer-obsessed youngsters love, we went last year and our boys had an awesome time.

This year the show is over 3 days and there is absolutely loads to do. Most of the programme will be the same each day, but some of the main stage acts and presentations will vary.

Everything in the giant Event City Hall and the show is especially suited to families with children of any age who would happily spend all day at a computer, whether playing, designing, editing, watching or learning, or all of those at once.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

A Fun Day with Specsavers and JCB Kids children's glasses

Today we were invited to Specsavers at Manchester's Fort Shopping Centre to help celebrate the launch of their new range of JCB Kids glasses for children. With promises of a real JCB Backhoe Loader and 'meet and greet' with the JCB Transformer, as well as eye tests and glasses if they were needed, how could we refuse?

It wasn't hard to spot Specsavers. Parked outside was, as promised, a genuine JCB Backhoe Loader with it's own glasses...

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Roblox Toys Series 1 from Jazwares Review (age 6+)

Roblox has kept children in my house entertained and shouting at each other across the room for the last 10 years. The blocky PC game have now teamed up with Jazwares and launched their own range of collectible toys featuring characters and accessories familiar to game players...

We've been sent a selection to review, including a Mystery Figure Pack, the Core Figure Pack - Mr Bling Bling and the Game Pack - Work At A Pizza Place. The figures are articulated, with a bend at the knee and hip and turning shoulders and neck.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

NEW LEGO Ninjago City Adventure at LEGOLAND Discovery Centre, Manchester

This Easter LEGO fans visiting Manchester have a treat as the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre at the Trafford Centre has had a £1m revamp. The entire centre has had a shake around and the soft play climbing frame 'Fire Academy' has been completely removed, making room for the huge LEGO Ninjago City Adventure.

I took you on a tour of LEGOLAND Discovery Centre last year, and a lot of the attractions remain the same. The visit will appear just as before until you've walked through Miniland, then you'd believe you were in a different place...

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Simply Be Spring Holiday Fashion For Curves.

I love it when a review is a treat for me, and a chance to try out 2 outfits from Simply Be's Holiday Shop is definitely one for me. Simply Be specialise in women's fashion, plus size and curves, with clothes in sizes 12 to 32, including tons of amazing brands such as Fiorelli, Figleaves and Marc Jacobs.

I'm the wrong side of 40 with 5 pregnancies and a serious hernia behind me. My last operation has left me with a swollen, lopsided tummy and a thick scar that feels much more comfortable with something soft over it. I mainly wear long skirts or dresses and loose waistlines and I still want to look nice, the same as anyone else.

Simply Be have a great selection of dresses that I really liked, including lots by Joe Browns (they have some gorgeous sundresses), but my job was to choose from the huge Simply Be 'Holiday Shop'. It was a genuine pleasure searching the site and knowing that everything came in my size.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Events for Families in the Manchester and Northwest area this Easter

Here are some of the things you could be getting up to with your family in the North West this Easter....

If you have an April event to add, please email it to me with the subject April 2017 and I'll add anything appropriate - we are particularly fond of those which are low cost or free....

Friday, 31 March 2017

Spin Master Ninja Spy Gear Children's Toys (age 6+) Review

Spring often sees the release of some of the more active toys, ready for outdoor play in the Summer. This Spring Spin Master have launched new additions for their range of Spy Gear: Ninja Gear and we've been sent the Transforming Ninja Sword and the Ninja Wrist Blaster to review.

The Spy Gear Transforming Ninja Sword (age 6+) is pretty awesome. Retracted it is around the size of a sturdy torch and in fact it is a real torch - but it unfolds at the touch of a button into a Ninja Katana 3 times the length...

SSshh! Don’t Wake Dad! Board Game Giveaway from Drumond Park (age 5+)

Last March we reviewed Sshh! Don't Wake Dad! for Drumond Park and it's remained a favourite all year. This is a board game with a twist in the shape of a sleeping animated Dad, who snores his way through the game and makes everyone jump whenever he is accidentally woken by the sneaky cake thief...

You can find my full review of Sshh! Don't Wake Dad! here, but gameplay is very simple. Players use a spinner to move along the track that snakes across the board, heading for the fridge and the delicious treats it holds. Each square you land on is a risk and you can get sent back to the start quite easily.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Piddley Pix and Nottingham Comic Convention 2017

A while back one of my online friends announced that, along with her husband and a group of others, they were going to organise a comic con. Although it was madness, it made total sense as there simply wasn't anything local to them in Nottingham. 5 years down the line and they are currently organising the 5th Nottingham Comic Convention for October 14th this year....

They aren't only comic fans, Kev is a professional Graphic Designer and spare time comic book creator, so he knows a thing or two from both sides of the table. He has published several books under the guise of Piddley Pix and Kev Brett Cartoons...

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Ndemic Creations Plague Inc Board Game Review (age 14+)

Plague Inc has been ridiculously popular as a game app. and the creators, Ndemic Creations, have now released a board game version. No longer do you have to be a mad genocidal sociopath alone, you can infect the entire world with the Plague sitting at a table with your mates or your Nan - and actually it's REALLY good...

Plague Inc board game has a single player option called Plaguebot, or you can play up to 4 players competitively. In the box is everything you'll need and it's presented really nicely. The 'Death Dice' in particular is very special.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Nerf Zombie Strike Outbreaker Bow review (age 8+)

The Zombie Strike Outbreaker Bow from Nerf is very different to your usual dart shooter. Suitable for children aged 8+, it has crossbow design with a pull back string and manual action - and a 5 dart rotating drum! I can honestly say I love this - the kids like it too.

We like Nerf and we've reviewed a couple of their products in the past, as well as buying many over the years for our children. Nerf make reliable and effective dart shooters that always have plenty of power to impress and an aim straight enough for truly competitive target battles. The Outbreaker Bow is a fine example.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Pia - Gemstone Jewellery Collection for Mother's Day review.

According to their website, Pia jewellery collections reflect their passion for creativity and originality, and I think they're probably right. They sell original gold and silver jewellery and accessories from all over the world, each piece intended to be a timeless classic. A gift from Pia is intended to be a treasure that will truly last.

I've been sent a Blue Topaz Gemstone Collection to review. I chose this set as it's my birthstone and I really do love delicate silver jewellery. I was sent the Blue Topaz Gemstone Pendant, Three Drop Earrings and Three Rounds Bracelet. There are more than 35 other pieces on offer with blue topaz alone, so the choice across the website is very wide.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Meccano 5in1 Motorcycle Set Review (age 8+)

Meccano is a time-served classic, and gives your child a host of useful skills that'll last them a lifetime. The 5 in 1 Motorcycle set is exactly as you'd expect, with instructions to build 5 different models using the same 174 parts - or just make up your own...

Inside the box the pieces are split into several small bags, and all fit nicely into the handy 'tray style' box. I love this, and it closes tight enough that it's a good place to store your spares and tools, or your entire set if you dismantle.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

I'm Going To Blog On Linky

It seems like it's weeks until Blog On - that's because it is! However the linky is live already so that the attendees who choose to can get to know each other a bit beforehand. When you get to the conference, especially if you arrive solo, finding that person you chatted to online once about your cat's testicles really can break the ice.

Share a recent picture of you (if you are an anonymous blog, a drawing is fine). A recent picture which is a drawing. This is exactly what I look like, but with more wrinkles and flowery Docs - you can spot me by those.

Describe yourself in three words. Just. Keep. Swimming.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Smiles no.31 #tbcsmiles

I think everyone has found this last month a bit grim and pretty hard work, but over the last couple of days up here in Manchester the sunshine has lifted us all. Hopefully the arrival of Spring and warmth outside will make it all a bit less grey, whatever colour your sky.

The flowers begin to bloom, trees regain their green and birds chatter. Our outside world is waking up and reminding us that the world did keep turning. Time is both a gift and a thief. It moves memories further away, blurring those I don't like to remember, but stealing those I wish to keep.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

John Adams Booms, Bangs And Fizzes Science Set Review (age 8+)

Booms, Bangs and Fizzes is one of the new science sets by John Adams and promises "science that's a real blast". It sounds just the thing for my 7 and 8 year old boys, and indeed they were very excited when they saw it... and who wouldn't be?

Especially suitable for children aged 8+ (although they should always remain under adult supervision), we let our 7 year old join in only as long as I was right with him. Inside the box is an array of chemicals, equipment, paper and card and the very clear illustrated instructions, as well as essential (and comfortable) safety goggles.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Spring Scholastic Book Club - our favourite books for age 7-8+

Scholastic release a new Book Club catalogue every 2 or 3 months, and my 7 and 8 year old boys were given their choice to review from the latest edition for World Book Day. They chose Dog Man Unleashed, Batman's Guide To Being Cool and Sherlock Holmes and the Disappearing Diamond.