Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Daddies And Baddies by Mat Waugh Children's Book Review (Age 3-7+)

Mat Waugh has sent me his latest children's book for review, and it's a big, bold picture book suitable for reading together with younger children. Daddies And Baddies is the story of 5 daddies, 5 baddies and one crazy day....

Daddies and Baddies by Mat Waugh Children's picture story book review

I reviewed Cheeky Charlie for Matt a few years ago, and that was more of a children's storybook, so teaming up with an illustrator to release a picture book is very different. Graham Evans' style is very modern and cartoon-like, with the people always the focus of the image, even in a street scene.

Daddies and Baddies by Mat Waugh Stan's dad illustration and text example

Monday, 20 January 2020

What's On This Spring For Families in Manchester and the North West

Here's my Spring round up of what is happening in and around Manchester and the North West UK for families of all ages, including students and young people. Theatre, exhibitions, days out, shopping and more...

If you have anything suitable you wish me to add, please send short copy over with a photo to thebrickcastle@gmail.com. The next round up will cover Easter onwards...

Blue Monday...

3rd Monday of the year. January is 217 days in and still no sign of payday. It's cold and damp, with no exciting snow or pretty Winter sun. This is officially the most depressing day of the year, which is especially harsh if it's your birthday.

Our day started on form. Before 7am the doorbell went, and surprisingly it was my partner, who had only just left for work. I say 'left', because he'd made it as far as the drive. where the van wouldn't start because of a flat battery. I was just mainly relieved that I hadn't run downstairs in my dressing gown to open the door to a really early postman.

LEGO scene where a knight has knocked over a drink, and Min the Merciless has slipped in it.

He put the van on charge and made a cup of tea. While he was drinking it he got a call from work to say they'd had a break in - specifically his office.

Friday, 17 January 2020

PR School: Your Time To Shine by Natalie Trice Book Review (Sent for review)

I should probably start by saying that Natalie is a friend, and excellent at PR with 20 years experience. I wasn't going to turn down a review copy of her recently published book, PR School: Your Time To Shine.

Created to appeal to those of us who don't have a degree in Social Media or Business Promotion, Natalie's book is 'A Masterclass in Publicity for You and Your Business', and it's written in language we can all understand, with tips that will help anyone get their product, brand or story out there to the masses.

PR School Your Time To Shine by Natalie Trice Book Review Front Cover

Throughout the book Natalie includes tips and how-to segments from other people who are successful and confident publicists. There are real life stories and explanations of promotions and activities which worked well, and you see immediately that quality of work and honesty are key.

Goodbye Mothercare... thanks for the advice...

This week we had my oldest child's 26th birthday, and the very first place I went to buy him anything was Mothercare. His paternal Grandparents gave us the money to get his pram, and I chose a beautiful blue and grey patterned system, which was the poshest thing I owned at the time by far. It would look ridiculously dated now, so I'm almost glad I don't have a photo.

I was a superstitious pregnant lady and I never bought any of my children anything until I was past 28 weeks, but when my pregnancy was making me tired, sore, sick or just down in the dumps, I'd go and browse Mothercare to get my happy hormones back on track and become excited about my new arrival.


When we bought our car seats, Mothercare employees showed us how to fit them correctly, and when my boobs inflated to twice their non-pregnant size, I had my first ever fitting at a Mothercare store.

That might have been over 26 years ago, but my earliest memories of Mothercare are a long way before then. I was the eldest of 3 children, and my parents were foster carers for babies when I was growing up. A trip to Mothercare meant we were about to get a new arrival, and my mother would carefully choose everything she would need ready for when she brought them home from the hospital.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

January 2020 - #TBCSmiles

Goodbye to 2019 and Hello 2020! Happy New Year to everyone - I hope it brings you the things you wish upon yourself. It's the 15th already, although January always seems to last a lot longer than most months. No snow yet, which is disappointing me and means it's just cold and windy, so most of your photos, and ours, have been indoors the last few weeks.

LEGO Gingerbread House with light through windows

Christmas is fun but hard work, the return to 'normality' is much harder, and the short days mean leaving the house in the dark and not arriving home until it's dark, which is demoralising at best and can seem to last forever.

As I said in a post about making mistakes the other day, we'd all be in bed far earlier and get up later if we hadn't ever invented the light bulb, so allow yourself some comfort. If you aren't going out and want to stay in your PJ's, do it. You need a few extra calories to keep going, to keep warm and fight off colds, so don't fret about the couple of pounds you put on at Christmas.

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Simulator Adventures Airbus A320 Flight Simulator Review (Press Visit)

Last November we were invited to review the Airbus A320 Flight Simulator at Simulator Adventures in Trafford Park. The simulator has been designed and built by two brothers, Alan and Stewart Russell, who also happen to have been professional Airbus A320 pilots.

Simulator Adventures are working on introducing a Motion System to the simulator this Spring, but we reviewed without it and you still feel like you are moving, even when you aren't at all. It's an amazing and truly immersive experience.


When you arrive you are well looked after. There is excellent seating in the waiting room (masses of legroom).... and the best toilet door I've seen besides those at LEGOLAND.

Airbus aircraft seats in waiting room

Friday, 10 January 2020

We Can All Make A Mistake...

It's what you do next that really counts...

If you are a parent blogger in the UK (and even if you aren't) you may have spotted a blunder or two recently. In the past week there have been 3 pretty amazing faux pas from 3 of the biggest websites who work regularly with bloggers. And that's just to my knowledge...

L:EGO scene where Dorothy and Jack Sparrow are having a drink. A soldier has accidentally knocked over a drink which Ming THe Merciless has slipped over in

Thing is, no-one is immune. You can only make decisions to the best of your ability at the time. The first week back after the Christmas holidays is manic, and none of us are at our best. Even nature spends half the day telling us we should still be in bed, and without the invention of the lightbulb we probably would be (which helps account for the huge families back then).

When you are busy and working it's easy to press the wrong button or type the wrong word, or even worse, leave half a draft and publish by accident. Gary the cat once published a post while I was on the loo. It was rubbish, but it had 3 viewers and a comment within 5 minutes because he added an intriguing title.

The Word-Keeper by Veronica Del Valle Children's Book Review (Sent by Silverwood Books)

The Word-Keeper is "A Book For Children About The Power of Words" and it is also a fabulous read, I really enjoyed it. Suitable for young readers aged around 8-12+, it contains very clever and varied uses of language, and shows us exactly what sort of disaster might happen if we lost control of our words.

The Word-Keeper by Veronica Del Valle Book cpver with girl sitting cross legged reading

The main character is 11 year old Florence, who showed great proficiency for language from a very young age, with her first word being 'hyperbole'. She lives in a world which is very much like ours, with a few oddities and exceptions.

When the school holidays arrive, Florence travels to visit her Grandfather, who lives in a very strange town named Inkwell. The town is populated by artists and creators, and has a secret history which includes a ferocious battle between good and evil - as all of the best stories do.

The Word-Keeper by Veronica Del Valle text example inside page

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Collaboration with Wealthify | Toys that will help your children to learn the value of saving

Learning to budget and save up to buy larger items are lifelong skills that will help your children's quality of life and hopefully prevent them getting into a debt trap when they are older. This guest post talks about how you can kick off their understanding from a young age...


Teaching your children to be good with money is essential. Kids that learn to save when they are young, generally speaking, grow into adults who spend responsibly.

There are lots of ways to teach them the value of money. For example, you could open a savings account like the one that you can find out about from this website. When your child is old enough, you can let them play a role in managing that account. Later, they can start to add some of the money that they are given, or earn, to the cash you save up for them.