Saturday, 24 August 2019

Blackburn's #Brickburn PAW Patrol LEGO Trail - until 1st September! (Ad)

Until 1st September Blackburn has changed it's name to Brickburn, as the world's first PAW Patrol brick trail has arrived and there are LEGO characters dotted throughout the town centre,

These incredible brick models of characters and buildings from the hit Nick Jr TV show is brought and presented to you by BRICKLIVE. The pups are big and range in size from 75cm to 120cm high. There is also a 2m tall Lookout Tower, a head in the hole wall and a Marshall’s Fire Truck selfie-zone. Each of the 21 models has it's own fun facts sheet, and if you scan the QR codes you get an extra treat.

Collage showing some of the PAW Patrol models Marshall Everest Rumble Fire Truck

Closest parking is multi-storey on Church Street, but we found tons of car parks right in the centre of Blackburn Brickburn and prices were very fair at £3.70 for 4 hours. We used to visit often for the ice skating and swimming pool, but haven't really been into town before, so being able to park across the road was a nice surprise!

Friday, 23 August 2019

Gangsta Granny Board Game Review and Giveaway (Age 7+) Sent by Paul Lamond Games

Our latest game review has been sent to us by Paul Lamond Games, and it's a very easy to play board game for 2-4 players, where you have to collect stolen treasure and get it safely stashed without being caught!

If you have young readers then the chances are you've heard of Gangsta Granny, the children's book by comedian and author David Walliams. The story features a young lad, Ben, whose Granny cares for him when his parents are busy. He thinks she's quite boring until he discovers she's secretly a jewel thief, and joins her on her next escapade...

Gangsta Granny Stash The Swag Board in gorgeous embossed tin

Gangsta Granny Stash The Swag Board Game is packaged in a brilliant decorated tin. I love it and I have to say I was quite let down when I opened it.  It would have been excellent marks for usefulness and being Earth-friendly if it hadn't included a big plastic insert. Definitely Christmas morning-friendly though, instant open and play, no batteries or anything else required.

Gangsta Granny Stash The Swag Board Game box contents counters rules board

National Geographic Recycled Plastic Reversible Bedding Review (Sent by Dreamtex)

I worked with Dreamtex earlier this year because they sent my boys some awesome ISA NASA and Fallout Game bedding. I love their quality, bright colours and really modern, attractive prints.

They have impressed me even more now with their collaboration with National Geographic to produce bedding made from cotton and recycled plastic bottles - up to 12 in each set!

National Geographic Recycled Plastic Bedding in packaging. Two single bed sets dinosaur and oceans

I wasn't under any obligation to post anything here, but I love this bedding so much that it seems criminal not to give you a closer look. Our world is full of waste plastic and it's time we sorted out just what we are going to do with it. Recycling is so much better than almost any current alternative.

Close up view of 50% recycled plastic polycotton fabric

So what is it like? Is recycled plastic bedding different to regular pillowcases and duvet covers? No. It feels just the same. It's still 50% cotton and 50% polyster, or poly/cotton as you may know it. The only difference is that this is 50% manufactured from waste plastic bottles.

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Q-Scout Programmable Metal Robot Review (age 6+) Sent by Robobloq

Robots are amazing tools that can teach your children a range of skills. The Q-Scout from Robobloq is a metal 65 piece remote control robot which you build yourself and programme using your phone or tablet. It can line follow, obstacle avoid and play music, and with 2 levels of coding built on open source Arduino, it should have the longevity to keep your child's interest for several years.

Robobloq have sent us the basic Q-Scout set to review...

Q-Scout Programmable Metal Robot packaging. Cubed box with images and text

The packaging is a nice sturdy box and easy to open with a lovely magnetic closure. Everything is neatly packaged in 3 layers and it's a gorgeous set to unveil.

Q-Scout by Robobloq has excellent packaging embossed storage box with magnietic closure

Monday, 19 August 2019

Rubik's Summer Scrambles Puzzles Giveaway

We've just taken a good look at the new releases from Rubik's for Summer 2019 and John Adams have kindly offered one of my readers 2 of the new puzzles for themselves. One winner will win a Rubik's Edge and a Rubik's Cage, together worth well over £25.

Rubik's Edge and Rubik's Cage in box

Rubik's Summer Scrambles Games Review (Age 8+) Sent by John Adams

This Summer Rubik's have a whole new 'Summer Scrambles' assortment of toys, games and fidgets to play with and they've sent us a big bundle to look at. Rubik's are small, portable toys which are great for taking away with you on holiday or visiting relatives, and they are perfect for entertaining your children on long journeys.

Grouping of all 6 items in the Rubiks Summer Scramble new releases

We've been sent Rubik’s Cage, Rubik’s Edge, Rubik’s Orbit, Rubik’s Block, Rubik’s Match and Rubik’s 3x3. The variety is massive and we are long-time fans of Rubik's Cube here, my partner can even complete one in 26 moves (or something), so he was one of the first to want to dip into this lot.

Rubik's Classic Original 3x3 Cube boxed

Rubik’s 3x3 - the classic cube that we all know. So much better than cheap imitations, and I have actually managed to complete it a couple of times, but don't ask me to do it unless you've got about 4 hours while I figure it out.

The classic Original Rubik's Cube Puzzle completed

I've got a little room for improvement, the current record (held by Yusheng Du) stands at 3.47 seconds *gulp*. RRP £10 - there is also an environmentally packaged version which is cheaper - nice one Rubik's.

Friday, 16 August 2019

60 Months... #TBCSmiles

The smiles are a day late this month, as they have been before in August, but that doesn't make them any less beautiful. Sorry if I confused anyone with the delay.

5 years ago we lost one of our children, and that is why #TBCSmiles began. I started collecting my family's smiles to remind me we can do this, and being happy is what it's all about in the end, so making smiles is exactly why we keep going.

Elspeth's Field oil painting

A HUGE thank you to everyone of you who shares your smiles with us, they are contagious and wonderful, and really do brighten up my day. Anyone can join in - just use the hashtag #TBCSmiles on a smile on any photo on Instagram!

For the next month if you happen to have a sunflower in your photo, I'm working with Sudocrem and you can enter my giveaway for a sunflower t-shirt if you take a photo of someone with a sunflower, and one person will win a mural for their school. I'm not suggesting cheating, but we won't be asking for proof that it's actually your sunflower - a big grin and a golden flower will be enough...

Thursday, 15 August 2019

5 Years, 60 Months, 1825 Days...

5 years ago today we woke up to find one of our children had died. I've never gone to bed without checking on everyone in my house since. Each night I tell them I love them, and I'll see them in the morning. They have to answer. They have to repeat it back to me. I have to know that they intend to still be there.

Everyone who loses someone they love to suicide is a survivor. When you lose them you need to know why? But to understand why is the worst that could ever happen, so you can't ever understand exactly why. That door has to stay shut. Forever. Your job is to let those questions go, and carry on.

In the beginning everything seems so hopeless, pointless.  To keep going is the bravest and hardest thing you'll ever do, and 5 years on, I am so proud of my family for fighting through everything.

Beautiful bright image of a field of sunflowers in front of a lively moving sky

We have three big grown up kids at uni, something I'm incredibly proud to tell anyone, but whenever I say it, I know there should be four. I know that if she had done a 3 year course, Elspeth would be graduating now, alongside her school friends (well done to all of you who graduated this year - I hope you have something awesome to do next).

Two of our big kids have "moved out". Gone to live in the world of bills and private landlords. One of them has moved in with his boyfriend, and genuinely it makes my heart glow to see them together. Always though, you wish Elspeth could have met him and given her seal of approval - probably by taking the p1ss.

She's never truly gone, she's always there in your head. We all feel it, everything we do is tinged by a heavy atmosphere that we have to claw through to stay in the moment. The unsaid.

In some ways it still feels like this isn't a reality, that I could still wake up and find out I dreamt it. Life happens 'to us' much more now, we have less control over where we are going. I really don't have a good chronology of the last 5 years, just a jumbled mess of memories. It's like my brain tried to hold on to the important stuff, but it wasn't quite sure what that was.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

20 Second Showdown Party Game Review Age 10+ (Sent by Big Potato Games).

We really are huge fans of Big Potato Games and it's rare we find any of their games we don't like. I wasn't sure if 20 Second Showdown would be my thing, but they sent us a copy for review and it is brilliant! Active, but not too active. Silly, but not too silly. Fiercely competitive and frantic at times? Ohhh yes...

20 Second Showdown Game Review box photo

We were sent a whole box of treats and goodies to make an evening of it and 20 Second Showdown is suitable for 5 players or more, so we even invited a friend over for the first play through. As with all Big Potato Games, the rules are simple to understand, but it's once you start playing that you can really get into the swing of it.

Monday, 12 August 2019

Share Your Sunflowers And Win A Mural For Your School (Paid Partnership With Sudocrem)

In the late Summer a lot of people already share sunflower photos with us, and they are all absolutely beautiful to see, especially as our garden is pretty much a peat bog and we can't grow our own (we've tried many, many times). This year, for anyone who wishes, you can share a photo of your child(ren) with a sunflower and have a chance to win a professional mural for their school or nursery - and I have a couple of gorgeous specially printed sunflower t-shirts to give away too.

We don't have many sunflowers growing nearby unfortunately, but we do at least have plenty of trees - and my 10 year old, who is just about as tall as me now and definitely growing...

Photo of 10 year old boy in front of huge oak tree with sunflower t-shirt

Hopefully you have grown your own sunflowers this Summer. They're easy to grow from their exciting black and white seed, and almost all UK gardens can easily grow a 5ft beauty. There really is no better flower for children because the end result is so useful and impressive, and maybe even taller than they are.

Solitary sunflower in front of setting sun in large field
Thank you to Sim for this sunflower