Tuesday 30 June 2015

Interplay Wood Worx Wooden T-Rex Craft kit review and giveaway (age 5+)

I'm really a big fan of Interplay craft sets, and the latest one we've tried has been a massive hit with my 6 year old. The Wood Worx T-Rex will allow any child to make a fabulous looking wooden T-Rex model which has an articulated jaw and a neck, and a really fierce looking roar!

Wood Worx wooden dinosaur craft kit review and giveaway

Inside the box is absolutely everything you will need to create your model - including a really nice double-ended paint brush and some good quality quick-drying glue. The model itself is entirely made from 23 wooden pieces.

Children's wooden dinosaur craft kit review

Monday 29 June 2015

LEGO Elves Aira's Pegasus Sleigh review set 41077

Despite our whole family love of the plastic brick, and our vast array of LEGO sets, reviewing Aira's Pegasus Sleigh set 41077 is the first time we've played with LEGO Elves. LEGO Elves has larger LEGO Friends style figures, a huge backstory full of magic, and plenty to fire any child's imagination.

Inside the box we have 3 numbered bags, 2 horses, sticker sheet and rods, plus 1 instruction booklet. This is a 319 piece set retailing at £34.99. That's quite pricey per brick and there's no franchise like Simpsons or Star Wars, however you are paying for some really quite tricky design, and lovely rare or unique elements.

Friday 26 June 2015

Easy Picnics With Warburtons Vans and Cats!

Picnics are a great thing. A family or friends coming together to eat and play and talk. The food tastes gorgeous, the surroundings are unfamiliar and usually beautiful, and everyone sits at the same level, eye-to-eye, so talk is easy and everyone is equal - be they adult or child. There's little or no washing up, and the preparation is so much more fun than the usual standing over the oven cooking a meal for an hour or two.

Easy Picnics with Warburtons Shaped Sandwich Thins

Last week was National Picnic Week. This is Manchester, it rains here. It rains ALL the time. Picnics are a rare and pleasant treat, and as soon as we have a dry day the parks are full of people making the most of being able to enjoy the outdoors. Warburtons sent us a few bits and pieces to celebrate National Picnic Week, and try out their brand new shaped Bread Thins. 

Wednesday 24 June 2015

Wicked Uncle - Interesting And Unusual Children's Presents

After 21 years of buying gifts for my own children, it can get a bit difficult to find toys that are exciting and new. It's also very difficult to choose gifts for other people's children when you aren't sure of their interests - or what they already have! Wicked Uncle is brilliant for exactly this.

Wicked Uncle - Interesting And Unusual Children's Presents

Wicked Uncle calls itself The World's Best E-Toy Shop. I can't be certain of that, but what I can be sure of is that I actually think it's excellent. Not only can it be used as a regular independent toy shop, it can also help you choose what to buy. Fill in the age and gender of the child and it will select you a range of toys that should suit that child.

Tuesday 23 June 2015

Last weekend at Britmums Live 2015.....

Last weekend, 14 days after major abdominal surgery and with a lot of help from some brilliant friends, I went to London and I stood in front of a room full of my peers. I read something I'd written and I got a standing ovation and I made them all cry (for which I am sorry). It was the proudest and most bitter-sweet moment of my life.

Last weekend at Britmums Live 2015...

It was quite a big ask to travel down to Britmums Live in London from Manchester 2 weeks after  surgery, and I make no apologies for the fact that the end of this post will be linktacular. I genuinely could not have gone to Britmums Live 2015 without a heck of a lot of help from a lot of people.

Wednesday 17 June 2015

A special Bacon Butty for Father's Day...

Roberts Bakery asked bloggers if we could come up with a Father's Day Bacon Butty creation. They want to bring out Dad's soft and fluffy side by plying him with a delicious bacon butty on Father's Day morning.

I'm not a meat eater, but my partner is, and bacon is one of his favourites. It's also a regular weekend breakfast here, so I was happy to take on the job for his benefit.

A special bacon butty for Father's Day

Roberts Bakery sent us a hamper so that we had everything we needed, and we tested the loaf with your basic simple bacon sandwich. 

A special bacon butty for Father's Day with Robert's Bakery Bread

Transformers Beasthunters - Race For Salvation DVD Review

We review DVD's quite often and Transformers is something the young, and older, lads always enjoy. Transformers Beasthunters - Race For Salvation is volume 2 from season 3 and contains episodes 8-13. It continues on from Transformers Beasthunters - Battle For Darkmount which we reviewed earlier this year.

Transformers Beasthunters - Race For Salvation DVD Review

There are 6 episodes on the DVD - Thirst, Evolution, Minus One, Persuasion, Synthesis and Deadlock - with a total running time of 2 hours and 6 minutes.  The characters are obviously familiar to Transformers fans, and the animation is quite bright and not as brooding (dingy) as some older Transformers DVD's.

Transformers Beasthunters - Race For Salvation DVD Review screenshot collage

Tuesday 16 June 2015

Ten months after....

I'm a little late with my smiles this month. It should have been yesterday, but I had my staples from my operation out yesterday and I was feeling a bit sore and sorry for myself, and we had to watch the finale of Game Of Thrones, so it had to wait.

Game Of Thrones was one of Elspeth's things. It was something she shared with her Dad, and when this series was about to begin I watched as much catch up as I could so that he could watch it with me instead of alone. I'm a poor substitute, I don't get as excited or enthusiastic as Elspeth used to, but I have obviously become immersed enough as I find myself shouting at the TV at all the right bits...I don't think I'll ever actually learn who is related to who else though...

This last month has mainly been eaten up by my being ill. I was very poorly after my 2nd date for the operation was cancelled, and lost several days due to dehydration. When I eventually had my operation it was far more serious than had been suspected, my hernia REALLY was as bad as it looked, so my family are having to rally round and do everything at home while I recover. The hospital wanted to keep me in for a few days, which proved to be incredibly hard on everyone. My family were relieved I was awake and 'fixed' and just wanted me where they could see me. No-one voiced any fears aloud, but they were there to see in the bitten top lips and wide eyes, and so I got permission to recover at home in my own bed instead. I have never had so many visitors peeping at me while I slept, each one of them very welcome, and as comforting to me as it was for them. Recovery is going well so far, and I am still on track for attending Britmums this coming weekend - although I may need to nip off and have a sleep at some point!

It is Britmums Live this weekend, and what has to be the most bittersweet event in my life. I have been asked to read Dear Elspeth during the Bloggers Keynote. I'm incredibly proud that one of my posts has been chosen, but so terribly sad that I ever had to write it. Seeing The Brick Castle logo up there on the big screen, and reading my own words in front of an audience of my peers so huge, is such an amazing achievement and should only fill me with pride. Instead it is equally full of sadness of a depth that I hope very few of you ever know.

When I wrote I wanted to tell Elspeth's story, I wanted people to know she'd been a happy and integral part of our life. Witty and clever and participatory, loving her siblings and rarely showing how weighted down she felt.  I know that many people have read that post and then gone and found the help and support they need, and so I am prepared to share it with as many people as possible. Elspeth was proud of my blogging. She blogged, she read my blog and commented. I will be reading Dear Elspeth for her, and for all of the people I have heard from since I wrote that post.  I will do my very best, and if I falter then Pippa will take over from me. She knew Elspeth, she met her many times, she is an excellent stand-in.

In spite of the Hernia fiasco, we did manage a few smiles this month....especially from our youngest two..

And we had a birthday, and a sports day.....wild ginger haired children are very easy to spot!

And an achievement of sorts during the school holidays - my two young lads beat the final boss Kaos on Skylanders Trap Team. This is something that's made them semi-legendary at school, and personally I can stop feeling guilty that we had a Kaos trap and no-one else could get hold of one....

Monday 15 June 2015

Batman LEGO Batboat Harbour Pursuit Giveaway

I have a giveaway for you today that I really like, and I hope you like it too. How would you like to win the LEGO Superheroes set 76034 The Batboat Harbour Pursuit? Recommended for builders aged 6+, this is a set which I think is great for playing with, and makes a lovely shelf model for the collector.
Batman LEGO Batboat Harbour Pursuit 76034 Giveaway
I'm always more than happy to share my love of LEGO, so being asked by House Of Fraser if I wanted to give away a prize from their Construction Toys And Building Blocks range was an easy thing to accept.

Sunday 14 June 2015

AEG Ultramix KM4400 Food Mixer Review

Every now and again, when you are about to go for surgery and your world is crazy enough already, you get an opportunity that you think really must be a dream. Being given the chance to review the AEG Ultramix KM4400 Food Mixer last Thursday really was one of those moments - and I didn't believe it was true until it was here....

AEG ULtramix KM4400 Food Mixer Review

One of our children broke the bowl to my previous food mixer 18 months ago. It was 23 years old and had cost me £25 and was very basic and flimsy, but I've missed it. To say this is an upgrade is an under-statement of the highest order.

AEG Ultramix Review KM4400 Food Mixer Box Contents

Friday 12 June 2015

Jurassic World LEGO with a Dilophosaurus and a couple of Raptors

The Jurassic World movie is out today and what better way to celebrate than to play with some LEGO? We were asked if we'd like to review the Raptor Rampage set 75917, and my partner received the Dilophosaurus Ambush set 75916 for his birthday.

Raptor Rampage LEGO set 75917 review
Raptor Rampage Jurassic World LEGO Review set 75917

Raptor Rampage set 75917 contains Clare, Owen, an ACU Trooper, the two Raptors - Delta and Blue, plus the Mobile Vet Unit with a rotating shooter and Owen's motorbike. The build is split into 2 books, surprising for what is only a 324 piece model, and is recommended for children aged 6-12. I think there are a couple of aspects of the build that maybe need a 6 year old or up, but otherwise it's okay and possible for children a little younger.

I had my Hernia fixed - yeeay!

It's true. After 5 years, one failed keyhole surgery, one bout of flu with horrific coughing, one move to the 'urgent' list, 2 surgical cancellations and 3 1/2 hours of fairly major surgery, my digestive system is working well again. I have finally been justified in all of my quiet complaints and I have a very impressive scar and 22 staples holding me together. It's a tale I will be delighted to see the back of!


I did keep telling everyone it was bad, but I think it was only after I'd been assessed on the day for surgery on my 2nd appointment that everyone began to realise just how poorly I was. I was sent home that day with a corset and strong painkillers and a genuine apology that there hadn't been enough time to do my surgery.

Thursday 11 June 2015

Interplay Festival Jewellery Making Kit Giveaway

Today I'm launching a great giveaway to get you into the festival mood. The sun has been here, the t-shirts are coming out, and I for one am looking ahead to lazy Summer days and music while I lounge on the grass and enjoy the fresh air. Braided bracelets, beads and feathers will be everywhere by mid-July and Interplay are giving you the chance to make your very own personalised festival jewellery.

Interplay Festival Jewellery Making Kit giveaway

The Festival Jewellery Making Kit has an rrp of £9.99, and all Interplay sets are available from a range of stockists and online from Interplay UK

Wednesday 10 June 2015

A little something for Father's Day....

It's that time of year when we start browsing handkerchiefs and wondering when ties went out of fashion, and then resort to some 97% dark chocolate like every year because we know he'll be really pleased with it anyway... It can feel a little bit lame, so here are some ideas that think outside the box a little bit more..

Scruffs Hardwear. The entire Scruffs range is designed to be hardwearing and long-lasting. Scruffs are a brand we've reviewed for before, and their Scruffs t-shirt is just as good quality. Heavyweight cotton, nicely printed and really very good for an £11.99 t-shirt.

A few Father's Day gift ideas..from Scruffs Workwear

Scruffs don't only sell clothing though, they have a range of useful accessories, from belts and gloves to bags, and even shockproof, water-resistant watches at £19.99. Ideal for a Dad who likes his sports or DIY, or has a manual job and needs something a bit tougher. It's very big, it's very orange! If big orange watches aren't his thing, then how about a Bottle Opener Belt at £11.95?

Friday 5 June 2015

Tomy John Deere Big Scoop Excavator Review

It's no secret that our youngest family member loves vehicles, playing outdoors and getting messy, so I knew a review of the John Deere Big Scoop Excavator would be perfect for him. I kept it a secret until the rain went away too, as I knew he wouldn't be able to resist taking the excavator outdoors...

I wasn't wrong, he was very impressed. This is a big excavator - around 50cm long when extended, and designed for children aged 3 and over. My youngest is 5, and loves this sort of toy as he can be rough with it and get it filthy without getting into trouble.

Thursday 4 June 2015

Dino Bite game (age 4+) from Drumond Park review and giveaway

Drumond Park are one of our favourite games manufacturers and this one is very different! Designed for 2-4 players aged 4+ there is no board, there are no counters, no timer. Instead we have a snarling spring-loaded dinosaur and a whole nest full of baby dinosaurs that you are trying to pinch!

Drumond Park's Dinobite only requires 2 minutes assembly. Attach the dinosaur to the main part of the model and insert  2 x AA batteries, switch it on and you are ready to go. The batteries power the sound, which plays dinosaur style jungle noises throughout, and the timing to release the dinosaur.

Dinobite game from Drumond Park how it works

Tuesday 2 June 2015

Match And Spell game for beginner readers From Orchard Toys (review)

It's been a long while since we reviewed any Orchard Toys, but we still play them all of the time, and our youngest received a couple of new ones for his 5th birthday. He's been a reluctant reader and writer, so we were sent Match And Spell so that we could see what he was really capable of!

Orchard Toys Match And Spell game review

Orchard Toys Match And Spell is suitable for 1-4 players aged 4+. Your child could possibly gain from it even younger, as no knowledge of letters is needed before you begin.

Games for children learning to read

Monday 1 June 2015

I'm going to Britmums Live....and I'm speaking...

Last year was my first visit to Britmums Live. I was scared and it was so huge, but actually, once I got there I found it was pretty darn awesome. Everyone was friendly and lovely, and my only regret is that I didn't get to meet all of the people I'd hoped to meet.

Although I was nervous last year, it doesn't come close to this year. While everyone else is out choosing outfits and fretting about looking okay, I still have a Hernia operation to look forward to this week (please God let it happen this time - 3rd time lucky), so I can't even begin to know what shape my belly is going to be in 3 weeks time. I won't be able to lug a big bag around with me, so if you see someone wearing the same crumpled badly-sized outfit twice, it'll probably be me.

I also have a far more important reason to be nervous. This year I'm not only going as a Blogger, I have been asked to read one of my blog posts in the Bloggers Keynote on Saturday afternoon

I can't tell you how proud I am that one of my posts has been chosen for the Bloggers Keynote. I work very hard at my blog, far more hours than a full time paid job would require, and I always give my best. It's a very bittersweet moment for me though, because the post I'll be reading is about Elspeth.

I don't know if I can read it all, but I'll try, and I will have brand new Mum Pippa from Red Rose Mummy standing beside me to take over if I falter, and a sea of lovely people who have been there for me all along in the crowd. I do know what I'll be wearing though, and it'll be the dress Elspeth helped me choose for Britmums last year. She chose well. I'm 2 1/2 stone lighter, but I think it'll still do the job. She blogged herself, she read my blog, and I know she would be proud were she here.

Thanks again to Jen from MyMummy'sPennies for the photo
Last year my sponsor was the fabulous Drumond Park, and this year I have been part sponsored by the PR company who work with Drumond Park, Langshot Communications. Behind Langshot Communications are two awesome ladies who have become good friends over the last couple of years, and I'm very proud to be associated with them. If anyone else wants to sponsor me for the rest of my costs, please get in touch, I'll be more than happy to discuss it with you.

Nerves and all else aside, I am looking forward to Britmums. I am looking forward to thanking lots of the people who have supported us in our darkest times, and collecting some of those hugs I've been promised. I am looking forward to meeting some of the PR's who help make this blog interesting and varied, and I'm looking forward to learning from the speakers and hearing the other bloggers read their posts.

Don't be shy, say hiya.