Monday, 15 April 2019

April #TBCSmiles 56 Months

The smiles are usually a bit of a pause on the blog, this week they're the sole action. As many of you may be aware, 5 days ago I was in hospital having pretty exciting surgery and I really haven't been incredibly well over the past few weeks. I cleverly drafted most of this post in advance because I wasn't sure just what fun painkillers I might be on right now. Fingers crossed most of it is at least legible!


My surgery was a second mesh hernia repair, placed above the first one. My insides were just so weak that despite losing a quite substantial amount of weight over the last few years, I sneezed last April and my intestines escaped. It was a bit of a shocker at the time.

The surgery went really well and I was actually allowed home the same day, much to my family's delight. They're all a lot happier if they can see me - I understand this entirely. My younger children especially understand too well that people can just die unexpectedly, and their need to be there to keep an eye on me themselves is massive.

I know no-one really trusted me to be a good girl, keep my feet up and simply relax, but nature took over on that one. My 18cm wound has very kindly refused to heal politely, so at the moment I am very much doing NOTHING. Literally nothing except taking myself to the toilet every hour or so and drinking lots of fluids - these things are related. There's really no better incentive to make me sit still than yet another bloody stain spreading across my t-shirt and the threat of having to go and be re-stitched. I admit defeat, cleaning can happen next month.

Friday, 5 April 2019

Hunt The Double-Yolker Giveaway with HARIBO Starmix (Paid Partnership)

If I ask my family what their favourite sweet brand is then HARIBO is going to be the winner - my partner adores them and would rather have HARIBO as a sweet treat than anything else. It's no surprise to learn that HARIBO is the UK's leading confectionery brand. It doesn't matter how old you are, the sight of those colourful sweets always makes your mouth water.


This Easter fans of HARIBO Starmix have an extra treat - in the special limited edition ‘Hunt the Double Yolker’ bags you could win a premium UK family break.


Thursday, 4 April 2019

National Geographic Break Open Geodes Set Review (Age 8+) Sent by Bandai

This month's review as Bandai STEM Ambassadors is a real favourite of mine. Of all of the science sets we've ever played with, Geodes are most magical to me. Geodes are naturally occurring volcanic rocks which each contain amazing crystal formations. They come in all sizes and with a variety of different crystals inside, and you never know what you are going to get until you crack them open.

National Geographic Break Open Geodes Set Review pack shot

Excitingly National Geographic sets now come with cardboard inserts and plastic is kept to a bare minimum. There's no set up time and you can crack open your Geode as soon as you have located a hammer, so Earth and Christmas morning-friendly.

National Geographic STEM Geodes Set Review cardboard insert

The National Geographic Break Open 2 Geodes Set includes 2 geodes, plus essential safety goggles, learning guide and even a display stand for your favourite discovery. There's also every young explorer's essential - a magnifying glass.

Monday, 1 April 2019

Shadows Amsterdam Family Game Review Age 10+ Sent by Asmodee

Shadows Amsterdam is a really different game for 2-8 players aged 10+. Players split into 2 opposing teams and each team takes the role of a detective agency trying to solve a crime first. Play is 'real-time' and a two team race to the finish. We've been sent a copy to review and I particularly love this one, even though a lot of the time your results come from pure guesswork rather than skill or intuition!


The game is housed in a gorgeous sturdy, small scale box and almost everything is made from stiff paper or card, so it's very earth-friendly. You can see from the box that illustration is a huge part of this game and all of the images are gorgeous.


You'll only need 5 minutes to press out a handful of parts before first play, after that set up takes 5 minutes each time.

Saturday, 30 March 2019

3 Years With Gary The Cat - and still not a crazy cat lady!

Astoundingly it's been 3 years since we won the world's most expensive free cat. Well, 3 years and 2 months, I'm a bit late on this post. I'm all over this cat thing now though. Ask me anything about cats and I can make up an answer that sounds plausible.


I know people on the internet like cats, so you may not have heard of Gary before, you might just have clicked on because there was a cat picture. Here's Gary's backstory and it's really because of the internet that he's here. He also wouldn't be here if he hadn't turned up at the home of someone who is ridiculously soft, and despite a previous loathing of cats, took him in.

Without the internet we wouldn't have known that there was a cure (scalpel) for Gary's sensitive genetic ailment (very very tiny penis) and it would have been curtains. Since his operation Gary's health has been brilliant and he can pee whenever he wants, thankfully usually outside or occasionally still in the bath. Annoyingly he's stopped going to the toilet in the toilet, although it was always a bit disturbing to walk in on him - especially if he was reading the paper.

Thursday, 28 March 2019

The Clock People:Clockwork Chronicles by Mark Roland Langdale Young Fiction review (Sent by Matador Press).

The Clock People: Clockwork Chronicles is Mark Roland Langdale's 5th book. A children's fantasy story written in a very distinctive style, which makes you feel that you are being told the story by an elderly and eccentric narrator.


The book centres on The Clock People. They aren't entirely sure who they are, but stories and legends tell of giants living in a wider world beyond their imagining, and small people who live inside clocks.

Monday, 25 March 2019

Easter Egg Hunting with Transformers BotBots Age 5+ (Sent by Hasbro for review)

This Easter why not ease off the sugar and give your children something that'll last a little bit longer. We always try to find small toys to go with the chocolate eggs for our Easter Egg Hunt and the BotBots that we've been sent to review by Hasbro are perfect.

Twerple Burple, who is disguised as a soft drink Transformers Bot Bots review

These are 'Blind bag' collectible miniature transforming rubber robots, which come in different tribes for you to collect and battle with...

Transformers Bot Bots review single pack blister packaging

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Chill Factorᵉ Beginner Ski Lessons Review - Can You Learn To Ski In A Day? (#Ad)

If you haven't heard of Chill Factorᵉ, it's a massive indoor ski slope and Snow Park near to the Trafford Centre and just off the M60 Manchester ring road. This Spring they have a new campaign 'Fresh' and want to encourage people to learn a brand new skill. It just so happens my partner and 9 and 10 year old boys have never been on skis before, and Chill Factorᵉ reckon they can teach just about anyone to ski with their beginner ski lessons...


The course includes 6 hours tuition plus breaks. If you are over 10 years old then you can complete the course in one long day, but our youngest is only just 9, so we signed them up for the Ski Beginner 2 Day Course.

Our sessions were over two evenings from 6pm-10pm, which was a little late for the boys, but these are the latest sessions offered. Mornings, afternoons and daytimes are also available. I didn't join in on the slope, but it meant I could enjoy the comfort of the cafe (with free guest wi-fi) and keep an eye out from a distance.


Beginner Ski Lessons at Chill Factorᵉ must be booked in advance and remember to add clothing hire if you will need it.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Philly & Friends: Who Do I See In The Mirror? Children's Book Review and Giveaway (18m+) (Sent for review).

The latest book we've been sent to review is really a picture book and is suitable for reading together from 18 months to around 7 years or older. Philly & Friends: Who Do I See In The Mirror? is the debut book by author and Mum Vese Aghoghovbia Aladewolu and is beautifully illustrated by Irene Omiunu.

I don't usually review books which are a bit young for my children, but on this occasion I've made an exception because not only am I friends with the PR, but as soon as I heard the content, I thought it sounded like exactly what youngsters in today's world need...


Who Do I See In The Mirror? follows a young girl doing everyday activities. As she goes through her day, she notices parts of herself and comments on them. Everything is positive, "I love my full lips", " I love my curly hair". She knows that she is also amazing inside her heart and mind, and she can see just how beautiful she really is.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Easter entertainment for families in Manchester and the North West UK

It's Easter and the weather is likely to be predictably unpredictable. Inside or out, here are some of the things you could be getting up to in Manchester, Liverpool and the rest of the North West UK during March, April and May - for families with children of all ages...


If you have anything suitable you wish to add, please send over the listing plus a photo to thebrickcastle@gmail.com
It does not have to be huge, expensive, glamorous, famous or theatre - it can be any public event or activity for families in the North West over the Easter period. We especially like to add FREE and low cost events, such as those you will find at your local libraries and museums.