Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Matr Online 1 to 1 Maths Tuition Review With My 10 Year Old (Paid Partnership)

Matr offer enjoyable and affordable home-based online one-to-one tuition with your own tutor for children in Key Stage 2, aged 7-11. They asked if we'd like to review the service and as both of my younger boys are in Key Stage 2, we agreed. Our 2 lessons were free of charge and we have been paid for some of our time, but if you have your own 10 year old you'll know that won't affect what he says in the video! Children can be brutally honest - they make the best reviewers...


Before the review I was sceptical that maths tuition would offer my son very much, but I've completely changed my opinion. He really, really enjoyed his time with the tutor, he's so much more confident in what he is currently working on in school and he learnt so much more on top of that. He's had a massive boost and we only did two sessions!

I've a review video below and the last 2 minutes are entirely my son's opinion on his sessions, so skip ahead if you just want to hear directly from him.

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Reviews Revisited February 2013-2018 2/2 - Yoda, Mixels, Aardman, Books and Space

We've been sent hundreds of items for review over the past 6 years - here are a few which stood the test of time and are still being enjoyed, used or fondly remembered now. I'll be posting a couple of these revisits a month throughout 2019. We reviewed all of these items during late February from 2013-2018...


February 2016 saw my second most popular review ever - my Gary The Cat review. I knew nothing about cats at the time, other than that I didn't like them and couldn't understand why people would choose one as a pet. Left on our doorstep when he was ill, I'm a soft touch and couldn't leave him to suffer or be put down. He's taught me a thing or two over the past 3 years - mainly just how much people on the internet love cats! I've written about him a few times now - Gary the cat posts.

Friday, 15 February 2019

February #TBCSmiles... 54 Months

It's February and Spring is beginning to join us once again. The Crocus are beginning to peep out and the woolly jumpers are beginning their trip to the back of the wardrobe. The sun comes out and so do the smiles....

I've written loads of personal stuff this past week already, so I'll keep this post short and sweet. I wrote a post talking about pressure on children from the education system for Children's Mental Health Week and I wrote a post for Tuesday, our 'Double Cake Day', which would have been Elspeth's birthday - Not 21.

Smiles mean we are winning. They are the reason we carry on, and looking at them reminds us of what we can do. We are not failing.

You are all doing an awesome job and we've had some beautiful smiles as always! Loads of birthdays, Chinese New Year, snow days and lots of adults, which is lovely to see. Anyone can join in, just tag any photo containing a smile, chuckle, grin, giggle or laugh with #TBCSmiles. 

My youngest chose the final selection of big smiles this month and hardly included any grown ups - but if you go to the hashtag on Instagram you can grin along with them all - and there are almost 6000 photos now!

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Unlock: Escape Adventures Game Review (Age 10+) Sent by Asmodee

Our latest review for the Asmodee Blogger Boardgame Club is the very exciting collaborative card game, Unlock: Escape Adventures. This is along a similar format to escape rooms and requires the players to cooperate to solve lots of clues and puzzles, in order to escape before the timer runs out. There are 3 full 1 hour scenarios in the box, as well as a 10 minute taster game to get the hang of how to play.


Unlock: Escape Adventures is stored in a beautiful box which is a little big for purpose and very strong. The game is entirely played using a set of cards and a free to download app. The cards themselves are gorgeous, but you have to wait to see them as looking at them will spoil the game. DON'T LOOK AT THE CARDS until it's the right time...

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Reviews Revisited February 2013-2018 1/2 - Magic, bears, sausages and Batman..

We've reviewed tons of items, activities, movies, games, toys and foodstuffs over the past few years. Some things stand the test of time and prove themselves worthy of another mention. I've gone through my February posts from 2013 to 2018 and chosen a few of our favourites. I've split each month into two halves, this is everything we really liked from the first half of February...


February 2014 saw us film our most popular ever You Tube video. It's really pretty dire and not at all professional. His Dad still slept a lot after his Meningitis, but my 5 year old was desperate to show off his magic tricks, so I filmed him. The magic set was designed for age 8+, but I put the video on You Tube anyway. Some of the comments really do give you an insight into the less intelligent members of the public... Here is Drumond Park's Gross Magic....

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Not 21....

At 21 I imagined Elspeth to be in her 2nd or 3rd year of uni. She wouldn't have cut her hair short, and she wouldn't ever have been a person who wears loads of make up. She'd have learned to embrace her quirks a little more and found friends who loved her enough to get past her tantrums. She would still know more about Kanye West than his Mum and she'd still be the funniest person in the building whenever she chose to be.


At 21 she would love the freedom adulthood brings, she'd craved it for so long, but she'd also be a tiny bit terrified of the world and would need reassurance she was doing okay. By now she'd be more confident with the women she was, hopefully accepting her curves and not already spending her life on the eternal 'diet' we women come to accept and expect. She'd be an okay cook, and she'd live mainly on 3 different recipes, and cake. She loved cake. She inherited her father's love of sweeties too.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Children's Mental Health Week 2019 - and Education

Ironic really that it's during Children's Mental Health Week that I get called into school to discuss one of my children's attendance. This is a first for me. Up until 5 years ago I was the one with 100% attendance certificates all over my fridge and mantlepiece. I'm not unduly concerned, he's had a rough trot lately with several stomach bugs and it took about 6 weeks to clear the flu from his system. He's been ill. Hopefully that's our turn at everything done and we can have an easier time for the rest of the year.

Childrens mental health week and schooling in the UK 2019

My son has also just had a stressful time for other reasons than flu and associated headaches and vision problems. Over Christmas he saw his Dad rushed off to hospital again, this time with the flu, and he knows I have to have another hernia operation. In his world people he loves do really die, suddenly and forever. The last of his big siblings moved out in September and that's a really big change to our household. It's something that our doctor was concerned about for my partner and I, so it has to be a concern for the younger two as well.

My son has already had to live through far more trauma than most adults. Some days I look at our household and realise it's actually a miracle he ever attends school at all. I have always been quite strict with my kids about going to school, but I know I am slightly softer on the young ones than I ever was with their siblings. If in future they feel they can't cope with anything and can't even say exactly why, I wouldn't ever ignore it - but don't tell them that, they'll get ideas.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Toilet Trouble Flushdown Game Review (age 4+) Sent by Hasbro.

Bizarrely February 4th was National Poop Day and Hasbro very kindly sent us one of their family games to celebrate, Toilet Trouble Flushdown. This is one of the simplest games we've ever played, but it's also one of the funniest and it's been a huge surprise hit!!

Not what you might think, Toilet Trouble sees the two players battle it out to see who can spin the roll of toilet paper quicker than the other. The slowest has the forfeit - a face full of water...

Toilet Trouble Flushdown Game Review box front

I usually avoid games like this because, well, mess, water, crying children etc, but it simply isn't like that. The jet of water is very tiny, under a teaspoonful, it's just the surprise which makes you laugh, but you don't really get wet at all.

Toilet Trouble Flushdown Game Review box contents.

Everything is in the box except for 3 x AA batteries, for which you'll need a small crosshead screwdriver and assembly couldn't be easier. The unit can be disassembled really quickly so that you can store it in the box afterwards - yeeeay! There's also very little plastic packaging.

Monday, 4 February 2019

ReCyko+ Pro Rechargeable Batteries And High Speed Charger: Sent For Review

Like most modern families who like to play with toys, we use hundreds of batteries a year. There are loads of reasons why rechargeable is better than buying new non-rechargeable batteries, cost in money and materials are the main ones. It's much cheaper to recharge and we are all now painfully aware just how important it is to avoid throwaway consumables.

Selection of AA and AAA batteries and a high speed 40 minute charger in packaging

I've tried lots of different battery chargers and rechargeable batteries over the years, but hadn't heard of GP Batteries ReCyko range until I received the email. Their Rechargeable Batteries can be charged up to 1500 times each, but one of the things that makes them really special is that they retain their power really well, so that even after 5 years in a drawer you should still have up to 70% charge.

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Charlie Green And The Knights Of The Round Table Review Age 9+ (sent by Matador Books)

Charlie Green And The Knights Of The Round Table is the third book in the Charlie Green series by children's author and real life pilot Martyn Blunden, and it was sent to us for review by Matador Children's Press.

With 336 pages this is a thick book and although the language is suitable for independent readers aged around 8+, you will probably need to be a couple of years older to follow the storylines. Truth meets fiction meets myth and then rewrites everything as we discover the 'true' story of what happened to King Arthur and Guinevere...


Charlie is your average 11 year old, he's friendly, kind-hearted and loves his family. He's also the sort of boy who can't resist anything interesting and at the beginning of Charlie Green and the Knights of the Round Table we find him on a school trip, capturing the attention of museum employee Mr Bernard Pugh.