Friday 27 February 2015

The Fly Guys Monday Madness - a children's book about prejudice

The Fly Guys is a brand new series of books, and Monday Madness is the first to be produced. Written by Emma Leverton and illustrated by Joe Sharpe, the Fly Guys are based on an idea by Bobby Thandi - or rather Bobby Thandi's daughter. The book is designed to make children think about pre-judgement, and lead to discussion about difference and diversity.

Fly Guys Monday Madness a children's book about prejudice review

The Fly Guys Monday Madness features Alice, a 5 year old girl, and Fuzz, her friend the fly. Fuzz lives under the floorboards in Alice's bedroom. It's an unlikely pairing that really only could have been dreamed up by a child - but that's the sort of thing that makes it attractive to other children, and it makes it different.

Harry Potter Style Hour Glass Necklace Review

Sometimes an offer of a review comes by that really suits the moment, and when I got the email about a Harry Potter style Time-Turner necklace, my 15 year old Harry Potter fan was sitting next to me. It would have been mean to refuse, especially as she had been looking at them a few days earlier.

Harry Potter style Time-Turner necklace review

The packaging is simple enough, and the necklace is solid, so it won't come to any harm, despite the hour glass in the centre. The chain is a good length, 33cm, and the necklace is actually fairly heavy.

Hermione Granger style time turner with hour glass

Thursday 26 February 2015

LEGO Speed Champions Porsche 918 Spyder set 75910 review

This is our 3rd LEGO Speed Champions review and the last of the three £12.99 Hybrid Supercars sets. The Porsche 918 Spyder is another really intricate, yet not tricky, build which constructs an amazingly solid vehicle that can be played with by children as a toy car.

LEGO Speed Champions Porsche 918 Spyder set 75910 review

LEGO Speed Champions Porsche 918 Spyder box rear

Wednesday 25 February 2015

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie DVD Review and Giveaway

In 2014 the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had a bit of a makeover. They still eat pizza and they still wear bandanas, but there's something decidedly different about them. They're meaner and not so cute. Life since 1987 has hardened them, and you can see that in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles DVD Review and Giveaway

We could see the change coming when we reviewed the Turtle Van Takedown LEGO set.

Compare old LEGO turtles with new TMNT

Tuesday 24 February 2015

LEGO Speed Champions McLaren P1 set 75909 Review

Following on from our surprise purchase on Sunday, my partner went back to Smyths today and bought a couple more of the LEGO Speed Champions sets. Sadly our budget doesn't allow for the Ferrari Truck, but we did get the McLaren P1 hybrid supercar set 75909.

LEGO Speed Champions McLaren P1 set 75909 Review

McLaren Hybrid Supercar P1 LEGO review

As with the other sets, the bricks are in 3 un-numbered bags, with 2 instruction booklets, a bag of interchangeable wheel trims and a full sheet of stickers.

Monday 23 February 2015

Green Toys Recycled Plastic Children's Tool Set age 2+

I'm sad to say that this will most likely be our last review for Green Toys. My two young boys love them as much as I do, but at very nearly 5 and 6 1/2, we're getting to the top of the age range, so it's time to pass the job on to somebody else. Our Green Toys will continue to be used - mainly in the bath, garden and sandpit!

Green Toys Recycled Plastic Toy Tester Reviews

I don't need to tell you how impressed I am with Green Toys, I tell you every review, and I'm not disappointed with the Green Toys Tool Set. It's very nicely done and sturdy enough to withstand a lot of rough play from my 4 year old handyman.

Green Toys Recycled Plastic Children's Tool Set Review age 2+

Sunday 22 February 2015

LEGO Speed Champions Ferrari LaFerrari set 75899 Review

Some things pop up when you least expect them.....

While fetching rabbit food today my other half popped into Smyths to have a quick LEGO browse and found the brand new LEGO Speed Champions sets on sale. Guessing that we must have somehow missed the official release he only bought the LaFerrari set 75899 (he needs the wheel arches for a project).

LEGO Speed Champions LaFerrari set 75899 Review pack front

LEGO Speed Champions LaFerrari set 75899 Review pack rear

Thursday 19 February 2015

Milly, Molly books for Early Readers

The Milly, Molly box set of level 1 books is our second review for Sweet Cherry Publishing. Written by Gill Pittar and illustrated by Cris Morrell, we're reading a set of 10 books for Key Stage One children aged around 5-7 years. First published in 2000, the books have been translated into over 40 languages.

Milly, Molly set of 10 books for level 1 children review

Milly and Molly are two young girls who are good friends. They live in a town full of friendly characters and each have a cat. They are also known from the doll who inspired the books, and the animated  TV series inspired by the books. Each book promotes a different life skill.

Milly, Molly reading books for early readers review

Wednesday 18 February 2015

Fruit Heroes Natural Fruit Bars

I'd much rather feed my children something that I feel is healthier and has nutritional value, than a snack that offers their tiny bodies very little else than energy. I try and ensure they have their 5-a-day, and snacks can be a great way to help reach that number.

Fruit Heroes children's all natural snack bars review

We were given the chance to try Fruit Heroes bars. Massively popular in their native Denmark, they're a relatively new launch in the UK.

They're vegetarian and count as a full portion of fruit, are made from only natural ingredients and are raw. There are no preservatives, colourings, added sugar, added salt or Sulphur Dioxide and they are gluten and dairy free. Basically they're just fruit with a tiny amount of vegetable oil (2-3%) and water.

Sunday 15 February 2015

Six months later...

There seems no way it can be six months since Elspeth died, but it's true.

Six months is such a very long time, but I don't really remember very much of it, and it seems more possible I miscounted. It's a very demoralising thought that six months has already passed, but today it seems more as if it was six days. It's so tiring, I'm so weary. It makes it hard to sugar-coat anything.

Some days are okay, and others are not. We all feel the lack of progress, the failure to have moved on, the loss of confidence, the loss of you.

There's a lot of anger now, and frustration and even confusion. A house full of people who are short-tempered and frustrated, and overly-sensitive, is a hard place to live in. Everyone walks on eggshells all the time, but still manages to offend everyone else. We spend half our time explaining throwaway comments and asides that have devastated someone unintentionally. But we need each other, so we move from anger to tears in rapid succession, and step back onto the eggshells to start over again.

The children are no longer deemed 'Children In Need'. Everyone's happy with their progress, and has been since the beginning. The little boys coping very well and performing well at school, and five nights on a sedative from the Doctor have brought our youngest back into a routine of sleeping through. The three teenagers all have exams. They have so much stress to handle and I lie awake at night wondering how they can do it. How can they go to school and achieve, how can they focus? We're so proud of them, we really are.

I rarely cook properly. It's so hard to go and stand in the kitchen alone and cook, when for so many years you'd bring your homework and sit with me while I did it. I'd listen to you read and explain unknown words, and sometimes we'd discuss stuff that you can only discuss when you're alone, but you don't need any of those things now. You'll never need them.

The relentlessness is what's so hard. It doesn't stop. There is no getting off the treadmill, no break, no time off. We can never escape the fact that you aren't here - it goes on forever.

We are still waiting for the twice-delayed inquest, which will not be next month as someone is on holiday all month - lucky them. I hope they enjoy their holiday while we sit at home under a cloud, waiting to move on. I know emptiness follows the inquest, I've been told, but waiting for something that's going to be so painful adds another frustration. It gives us something else we have no control over.

We're doing it though, we are. And we will get there. I am the woman who jumped and landed, and I didn't stop walking because I knew I'd broken my leg. I had to keep going or I'd never make it to the van. That is where our lives are now. We can't stop, we can't pause, we can't smell any flowers, we just keep going. And one day we'll make it.

It was your 17th birthday 3 days ago, and that was a day everyone was dreading, and it went okay. Your 6 year old brother bought you flowers. He chose them very carefully. He said that he didn't want to get you anything you couldn't use, so you have purple and white flowers and a card saying Happy Birthday in fancy writing. You don't have driving lessons and band t-shirts and art materials. You can't use them.

Your friends organised an amazing time. They got together as a huge group and went and spent the evening together on a hill overlooking our town - the same place where our oldest walked to on the day you died. It's a very fitting place, and they had an awesome time. They celebrated your life, and came together to talk about where they are now - all moving forward and nearly half way through their college courses already. I hope they all do fantastically in any exams they are sitting this year. They miss you.

We ended up mostly spending your birthday together, talking and just being there, and when bedtime came everyone breathed a sigh of relief that we'd got through that day. We will feel the same today, as we do many days. Wondering where the time went, but glad that it did.

I hope you can see us. I hope you can enjoy the smiles and join in with the laughs. I hope you see that they are increasing, and we will get there, wherever there is. But we aren't there yet.

Here are some smiles I've collected this month...

6 months after the loss of their sister, and we're smiling

There aren't many, but I think that's mainly a reflection on how many photo's I've actually taken, the teenagers revising, and the last week being very hard. You can be proud of your brother though, he's been rewarded for writing a fabulous 4 page story about The Gingerbread Man - complete with alternate ending featuring an elephant!

6 year old with lots of class stickers for achievement

We miss you x

Saturday 14 February 2015

Stabilo Early Writing Materials for beginners.

My 6 year old is becoming a confident writer now. He's speeding up and isn't intimidated with having to write sentences or lists,and we're really proud of him. Our nearly 5 year old is still at the stage where writing his name is great, but anything more is tricky, so requires a lot of effort.

Stabilo early writing materials for children - EasyOriginal pen review

Correct pencil grip is vital at this stage so that neither of my boys have bad habits from the start. Holding the pen or pencil correctly means less strain on your hand and arm, neater handwriting and more pleasure from writing. Stabilo have a great range of products to help children who are learning to write, and they've sent us some for review.

Friday 13 February 2015

Spring Half Term 2015 at the Imperial War Museum North

This Spring half term the Imperial War Museum North, at Trafford Quay in Manchester will be hosting a series of activities designed for children, and focusing on War At Sea. Entry to the museum is FREE, and the extra activities this half term are FREE - with no need to book. We were invited to have a preview last weekend with our 4 and 6 year olds, and they loved it.

Imperial War Museum North Activities For Children

We've been to the Imperial War Museum North a few times now, and my boys always enjoy looking at the exhibits and seeing the Big Picture Show, but the special events for school holidays really are so well done, they're always the highlight.

First we were all taken into the main space, and had story time underneath the Harrier Jump Jet. This was really different, really cool, and actually gave the children a chance to sit and look around them while the story telling was taking place. It wasn't too distracting, but it made us very aware we were in the museum, rather than being off in a white-walled room that could be anywhere.

Story time under the Harrier Jump Jet at Imperial War Museum North in Manchester

Thursday 12 February 2015


Happy 17th Birthday Elspeth x

Happy 17th birthday Elspeth. I hope they have cake where you are.

We miss you.


Wednesday 11 February 2015


 Michael Rosen Sad Book for children of all ages

Michael Rosen's Sad Book is illustrated by Quentin Blake. A book for children of any age at all, who aren't always as happy as they should be. And that's okay.

Available at all good book shops and online RRP £5.99.

Tuesday 10 February 2015

Green Toys Recycled Plastic Flatbed Truck With Race Car (12m+)

I thought maybe my boys were growing out of playing with Green Toys vehicles, except for in the bath and sand pit where they're always popular, but the Flatbed Truck & Race Car is a bit different and has caught the attention of even my 6 year old, despite being a toy suitable for 12 months and over.

Green Toys Recycled Plastic Flatbed Truck with Race Car review age 12m+

The packaging on Green Toys is as ethical as the toys themselves, made from recycled and recyclable card, and using ingenuity and design rather than wires, tape and plastic wrap to hold the toys in place.

Green Toys Recycled Plastic Flatbed Truck with Race Car packaging design genius

Monday 9 February 2015

Oz Naturals Skincare review

Over the past few months time for myself really has gone out of the window. I have just been too busy, too stressed, too sad. I felt like it was a long way down the list and just didn't find the time.

I had realised that my face was getting very dry, and I'd told myself several times that I really needed to return to more regularly using a suitable moisturiser. As I'm now approaching my mid 40's, I can use all the help I can get.

Oz Naturals Skincare Range Review including Hyaluronic Acid

Oz Naturals asked me if I'd like to review their range, and it really was the push I needed to focus on myself for a few minutes each day. They asked me to review the 20% Vitamin C Serum, 5% Hyaluronic Acid Serum and Super Youth Eye Gel. These are used alongside your regular moisturiser.

Oz Naturals don't test on animals, and use only natural and organic ingredients. They're vegan, parbens free, sulphate, lanolin and gluten free - and I have used them every day for the past 3 weeks.

Oz Naturals Skincare Range Review including Hyaluronic Acid and vitamin C

Friday 6 February 2015

My Little Pony DVD Giveaway

My Little Pony is back on DVD this Spring in the second installment from Season 2 of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic -  May The Best Pet Win. First seen in 1983, My Little Pony has stood the test of time, one of the few toy brands who can survive and hold their place for over 30 years.

My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic logo

May The Best Pet Win is the story of how Rainbow Dash organises a 7 round competition to find out who the best pet is for her. It's a challenging contest, and the final battle is against Rainbow Dash herself at 'Ghastly Gorge'.
My Little Pony May The Best Pet Win  DVD Giveaway
As ever, it doesn't go quite to plan, and during the race Rainbow Dash finds herself in trouble when her wing becomes stuck under a boulder. She is about to give up hope when she is rescued by an unlikely saviour.....

Thursday 5 February 2015

LEGO Women and the LEGO Ideas Research Institute set 21110

A while ago LEGO were getting a lot of pressure to consider gender roles and the stereotyping that tended to take place in LEGO sets. LEGO are very good at listening to their customers and fans (there's an address for feedback on the back of every leaflet). Not only are they good at listening, they're good at acting on it too.

LEGO Women and the LEGO Ideas Research Institute set 21110

Recently women have been portrayed more and more often in stronger character roles and aren't just extras walking past or needing to be rescued. They aren't just there to cook or be 'Mum', they're an integral part of all kinds of sets, and they're doing the same stuff as the male characters.

Wednesday 4 February 2015

Baby And Toddler Show 2015 Ticket Discount Codes and Giveaway

The Baby And Toddler Show is back in Manchester in a month's time, and for the third year running I'm delighted to be able to offer my readers the chance to win a pair of tickets.

The Baby And Toddler Show North West event takes place 6-8 March at Event City, with the South East event at Sandown Park on 17-19th April.

Baby and toddler show north west ticket giveaway

The Original 1974 Lego Figure Family set 200

LEGO are now well-known for their minifigures, but it's taken a while to get to this point and they've tried out several different shapes, sizes and designs of figure during the last 40 years. Back in 1974 LEGO released their first ever LEGO Family, and at 3 years old I had one. I remember it arriving, and opening that box of treasure.

Monday 2 February 2015

Win £1000 Of Appliances With The Co-Op Electricals #OutWithTheOld Competition

My washing machine works hard. Actually it works really hard, and it's been incredibly good to us. It is now 9 years old and although it's a bit noisy, it works perfectly. I do 2 or 3 washloads a day - more when I'm washing bedding - and have done for the last 9 years. That's nearly 10,000 washloads and I've only had to call out an engineer once.

My 9 year old Hotpoint Ultima Washing Machine

My washing machine is a Hotpoint Ultima, and while I love it, I know that it's coming to the end of it's life. It is also fairly small by today's standards and although it was considered energy-efficient when it was new, any washing machine I can buy now will be far more economical and Earth-friendly to run than one made in 2006. In my case I know the time has come to say "out with the old".

Co-operative Electrical have teamed up with Hotpoint and launched a 'Pin it to Win it' #OutWithTheOld competition over on Pinterest whereby one lucky person will be able to say "out with the old" and have the chance to win £1000 worth of Hotpoint appliances, and in true Co-operative style, they're offering a friend or family member the chance to receive £300 worth of appliances too!

The Geronimo Children's Festival

The Geronimo Festival is a brand new event which is going to be the biggest children's festival in the North West. Held at Tatton Park in Cheshire, the festival is a daily event running from Saturday 23rd May until Monday 25th May 2015.  We've been asked to be ambassadors, and we can't wait.

The Geronimo Festival for children aged 2 to 12

Aimed at families with children aged from 2 to 12, your day ticket gets you free access to everything once inside the festival. 

Activities at Geronimo Festival at Tatton Park in May 2015

Sunday 1 February 2015

LEGO Series 13 Minifigures Bundle Giveaway

The LEGO Minifigure collections are brilliant because they provide such an amazing range of faces, hairstyles, clothes and accessories. It widens general play value for all of your LEGO because you can bring in crowds, bystanders and extra people, and they can be doing pretty much whatever you want. You even have a great chance of finding one that looks just like you.

LEGO Minifigures series 13

The Series 13 Minifigures are brilliant, they're my favourite series for quite a while, and they seem to be a real response to the criticism LEGO was receiving about gender roles, as we have a few really strong female characters, as well as some epic outfits and brilliantly funny characters. I mentioned them in my post about the new LEGO coming up this Spring.