Friday, 17 May 2019

Bedding For Bigger Kids - Fallout and NASA Review & Giveaway(Sent by Dreamtex)

Dreamtex are a name you may not recognise, but I bet you've seen their excellent quality home textiles in store or even in your home. They work with licenses from some of the biggest names in TV, print, game and film, and are committed to corporate social responsibility, working with Sedex & Oeko-Tex approved factories, to ensure that international ethical standards are constantly met.

Dreamtex single bedding sets in packaging Fallout ISA NASA

My boys have had some awesome bedding over the years, but they're getting bigger now and some of their tastes are changing. They've been sent reversible Fallout and ISA NASA bedding and I'm quite jealous. I'd happily have either of these on my own bed.

Fallout vault boy pillowcase he is doing thumbs up

Fallout has been a big hit here for well over 10 years and most of us have played at least Fallout 3 to the end (I got the completist's favourite, the Platinum Trophy - this is one of my proudest moments). This duvet set really is excellent.

Falloit vault boy fabric in yellow and blue with repeated design

The 'Thumbs Up' Vault Boy (not quite as smiley and innocent as it looks, see why at the bottom of the page) appears on both sides. Side one has his big smiley face and side two has a smaller Vault Boy repeated. The 'fallout' is done very well and is clearly evident, but doesn't look messy. I've always loved the colours and I think it works so well as a duvet set to brighten up a room.

Dreamtex childrens gamer Bedding Fallout showing both sides of duvet cover and pillowcase

The pillowcase is also reversible and it's really soft, you can't feel the print at all on any of the bedding.

ISA NASA bedding shown folded with NASA logo

Anything to do with space is always a hit and the image on the ISA NASA bedding is taken from the International Space Archives. The astronaut with the Earth behind him is iconic, and the message "I need My Space" perfect for any youngster's room - they all need their space once they get to the grand old age of 9 and 10.

Iconic image of astronaut with Earth behind on bedding

Here's my son pretending to be asleep - he insisted.

Pretend sleeping child under Astronaut NASA bedding

This duvet cover is also reversible and has a great constellations print all over the other side, which my son loves looking at as he goes to sleep. Here he is really asleep.

Child sleeping in bed showing Dreamtex NASA bedding with constellation design

The quality of the poly/cotton is very good and fairly thick. I've no doubt my Dreamtex bedding will last a good few years - they could be taking these to uni in 10 years time.

Seams are well sewn and I can't spot even a single error on ours, with easy-to-use poppers which fold at the close for a neat edge and a really wide opening to make changing much simpler. My 9 and 10 year old boys can even do these entirely by themselves now using the 'stand on the bed and shake it out' method.

I've done a first wash, as you always should to remove any factory or transit dust. The dye didn't run at all, the colour hasn't bled on the fabric and they are tumble drier-friendly. Always a bonus in Manchester. I'm not up for ironing just yet, so they were folded warm before going on the beds.

Bedding in washing machine before first use Dreamtex

I'm really pleased and so are my boys. You can't ask for more from bedding. Comfortable and soft, washes and dries well, and easy-to-use. And frankly very cool to look at - let's hope it encourages them to keep their bedrooms tidy!

Dreamtex make bedding in a big variety of styles featuring all kinds of TV, movie, book and game franchises including The Gruffalo, DragonBall Z, JCB, National Geographic, Assassins Creed and Game Of Thrones - that would be awesome bedding in king size!

We were sent 2 single bed sets comprising a duvet cover (137cm x 198cm) and pillowcase (50cm x 75cm). You can check out all of the different brands and licences they work with on the Dreamtex website

Single bedding sets retail at around £25, but I found a lot of discounts available. You can find them in The Entertainer, Matalan, Primark, Smyths, supermarkets, B&M and all sorts of other stores who sell bedding, including online at Amazon (affiliate links*).

Dreamtex have very kindly offered one of my readers a single bedding set of their own. The winner can choose which they want between the Fallout set or the ISA NASA set.

To enter the giveaway use the Gleam form below. The winner is randomly chosen by the form and all information is only used to administrate this giveaway and then deleted. If you are new to Gleam there's a link to help as well as my other UK giveaways on my Giveaways page.

Entry is open to UK participants only and the giveaway will end at midnight Sunday 16th June. Full terms and conditions are at the bottom of the Gleam form.

Dreamtex Bedding Giveaway. Winner chooses between Fallout or NASA

The darker meaning of the 'Rule Of Thumb' Fallout Vault Boy. 

Seemingly a happy chappy, what he is doing isn't as jolly as you'd first think. In the event of a nuclear explosion, put your thumb up, hold it at arm's length and if you cannot obscure the entire mushroom cloud, you are within the Fallout Zone. If you don't have a thumb, arm or are missing other parts you previously had, you were in the Blast Zone and will definitely be within the Fallout Zone. Anyone in the Fallout Zone will have around 15 minutes to get to safety, which always makes me wonder why people on Nat Geo programmes spend millions building their bunker 200 miles away from their house, especially when they live in the middle of a massive city with only 3 main exit roads....

*Affiliate links are my way of attempting to cover the cost of the website and feed the cat. I earn a few pence per £ if you buy through my link, but you never pay any more.
We were sent our Dreamtex Fallout and ISA NASA bedding for review. 

Thursday, 16 May 2019

HARIBO Vegetarian Sweets Range Review (Sent by HARIBO)

Yes it's true! One of the biggest sweet names in the UK has increased and revamped their vegetarian range just in time for National Vegetarian Week, and they've very kindly sent us a bundle to try. As the only vegetarian currently living in our house full time, I'm claiming these as mine!!

The Giant Strawbs Gone Mini are a brand new addition to the range, the flavours of the Jelly Beans have been tweaked and Funny Mix has a new recipe with real fruit juice.

It was down to me to take on the difficult job of taste testing... and I did get the view of a regular HARIBO eater as well. He's been eating HARIBO for 25 years and his informed opinion was "They taste the same as the non-vegetarian ones". So there you have it...

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

May #TBCSmiles #MHAW

It's time for this month's smiles and it's Mental Health Awareness Week. Smiles are infectious and while the right one can melt your heart and make everything okay, a grin or smile from anyone will almost always help. This photo is from BlogOn Conference - not quite winning 'most Bloggers in a lift', but possibly a contender for best reflection...

We are all now more aware of our Mental Health. We know how important it is to be open and honest if we are struggling, and we know we should ask for help, but it'll be a long while yet before we can all do so freely without embarrassment, feelings of failure or worry we'll be laughed at.

One of the most important lessons I've learned over the last few years is that we are all allowed some attention - it isn't a crime. Labelling anything as 'attention-seeking' belittles it and equates it to being mardy. People want attention because they need something, and it generally reflects their health mentally. Risk-taking or extreme behaviour is a shout to be noticed, and a 'cry for help' is exactly that.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Summer Half Term Round Up for families in Manchester and the NW UK

The holidays are almost upon us again and a lot of children in the Manchester and North West area now get 2 weeks off and a slightly shorter Summer, so you'll be pleased to know there are plenty of places you can go and things you can do - and I'll add to this post as emails come in!

Here's a round up and it's really eclectic this break, so there should be something for everyone! Never forget your local Museums and Libraries, and many parks and leisure centres will arrange special events!

Friday, 10 May 2019

Timber Festival - back in the Derbyshire Woodlands 5th-7th July 2019 (Press Visit)

Last Summer we had the most amazing time at the first ever Timber Festival and I'm delighted to say they've invited us back again this year to review. The setting is Feanedock, a gorgeous 70 acre woodland in the National Forest in Derbyshire, and the programme is absolutely packed with all kinds of theatre, music, dance, performance, arts, workshops, discussion and debate for adults and children aged around 5+.

Timber won Best New Festival at the UK Festival Awards and they were a worthy winner. My boys are now 9 and 10 and were ecstatic when they heard we would be returning this year - even when we told them we'd definitely want to go and see Stuart Maconie talk about rambling again.

Timber is the festival for hippies, eco-warriors, tree-huggers and laid back types of all ages. If you want to sit in beautiful, natural surroundings listening to live bands, talks and stories, watching theatre and joining in debate, it might just suit you too.

There is an eclectic mix of entertainment on offer at Timber and a hint of what you'll find is listed below. I'm particularly excited about Cardboardia myself... The photos are from 2018 and don't represent exactly what you'll find this year, but it'll give you a good idea...

Pickles' Purrfect Plan by Carolyn Young Children's Book Review (sent by Matador)

Pickles' Purrfect Plan is a rhyming book for younger children and we've been sent a copy to review by Matador Books. Written by Carolyn Young and illustrated by Jo Blakeley, it tells the story of Wizard, Witch and Pickles the cat, who live together in a cottage in the woods.

I wouldn't usually cover books for children younger than my own, but I'm impressed with Pickles' Purrfect Plan. The story is sweet, the illustrations are excellent and the rhyming format works very well.

Front cover depicting cat wearing wizard's hat Pickles' Purrfect Plan by Carolyn Young Children's Book Review

Pickles, Witch and Wizard live a humble life in their cottage in the woods. One day a storm comes and the cottage is damaged. They search the house, but don't have the money to pay for repairs.

Pickles has a plan to help them and once they go to bed, he springs into action - with more than a little help...

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Sleep Tips To Improve Your Mental Health (paid collaboration with Tempur)

13th -19th May is Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK, and while I think we are all a lot more aware of how common mental health problems are, they're impossible to measure and rarely have a simple fix.

I'm working in a paid collaboration with Tempur, the people who make those incredibly comfortable squidgy mattresses, and they have just released the results of a Mental Health And Sleep Survey looking at what effect quality of sleep has on mental health and wellbeing. We all now know that our mental health is as important as our physical health and needs to be looked after, but how does sleep, and the quality or lack of it, affect us?

Physically, lack of good quality sleep gives us eye bags, it makes us crave carbohydrates and we store more fat. which can lead to weight gain. Among other things it affects growth hormones, testosterone and insulin levels, blood pressure and repair systems in the body. Not getting enough sleep can make you heavier and it can make you ill, and you'll stay ill for longer and find it harder to lose weight.

Mentally, lack of good quality sleep has a huge effect too. We know the obvious signs, we are tired, irritable and grumpy. Lack of sleep also makes it harder for us to learn and remember, it's responsible for lack of libido and motivation. We can feel hungry, clumsy and down, even depressed.

We've all been there, and those days that start like that never do seem to get any better...

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

BlogOn Conference 2019

Last weekend was the 11th BlogOn Conference, at Hotel Football in Manchester. Despite a few major post-op panics hiccups over the past 3 weeks, I made it! It was a bit different for me this time because I couldn't be involved in bag-packing, but with a chair and a table I was still able to join Sim in our usual job checking everyone into the conference.

Bizarrely it didn't rain. This happens only when people visit, to make us look like liars when we say it always rains in Manchester.

Hotel Football Old Trafford and Sir Alex Ferguson Way

The goody bags were all laid out ready, you can see the contents on social media by looking up #blogongoodybags . There's a big team who are there from really early on to help Laura on the day. I felt like a cheat just sitting down at the sign in table.

BlogOn Goody Bags and Check in desk with notebooks and masks

I spent almost the entire day sitting down, but I got a lift selfie in early. Cleverly I handed Sim my camera - I'm a bit too short to get everyone in unless they all bend down! This was as packed a lift as I was happy with really. My main aim for the whole day was not to be bumped in the belly.

BlogOn Lift Selfie with lots orf bloggers in a lift.

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

A Stone Called Fred by S.M.Locke Young Adult Fiction (Sent by Matador for review)

A Stone Called Fred is written by S.M.Locke and has been sent to us by publisher Matador for review. A relatively light-hearted fiction book for teenagers and young adult readers, the focus of the story is Jack, who one day awakes to find a mystery object on his kitchen table. The object often appears as an ordinary stone, but Jack spots it glowing, sometimes it buzzes and it definitely has some pretty fantastical properties.

This is a Twilight Zone style shorter story that I'm sure Roald Dahl would have been happy to include in any series of Tales Of The Unexpected. I loved it.

A Stone Called Fred by S.M.Locke Young Adult Fiction book cover showing cartoon space theme

Jack discovers that by touching the stone he can become invisible and even when he leaves it at home, somehow it will appear nearby, as if it is following and keeping an eye on him. Other people can touch the stone without any effect, so Jack feels it's special to him and even names it. Fred.

Jack's neighbours find the whole thing really amusing and aren't sure if he hasn't just had a bump to the head. His girlfriend is a journalist and has been away with work, but when she comes home, Jack has to try and persuade her that Fred really isn't just a large pebble.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Podric Moon by Barney Broom (Young Adult book sent by The Book Guild for review).

Podric Moon And The Corsican Tyrant is the first Young Adult fantasy book release from respected screenwriter and director Barney Broom. The book's main focus is young Podric, who is a computer games champion with ambition to be a jet pilot like his father, and his relationship with eccentric local games developer Archie.

Podric Moon and the Corsican Tyrant by Barney Broom Book Cover showing green eye

Podric Moon is suitable for older teenage and young adult readers. There are some mature themes including mild sexual references and scenes, and a trigger warning as two of the female characters are assaulted.

The book opens with the death on duty of Podric's father, an RAF Pilot. Podric decides not to return to his boarding school in Ireland and the whole family move away from their RAF housing into a small rural UK village. It is there that Podric meets Archie, a games developer who has had major success in the past, but is struggling to spark interest in his games now.

Together Podric and Archie work on a new and far more immersive version of VR, called Ultimate Alternative Reality (UAR) and they use Archie's game based on the Napoleonic Wars as their world. The realism is hard to ignore and life in Napoleon's time isn't quite as romantic and fun as it first appears, although it definitely has it's moments.