Thursday 31 March 2016

Num Noms - a new children's collectible with added smell! Review and Giveaway

There's a brand new collectible range for children this week, and it's Num Noms. Small rubbery shells that cover moving creature vehicles and lip balms among other things. Each Num Nom is based on a specific sweet flavour and has it's own matching scent.

Num Noms - a new children's collectible with added smell! Review and Giveaway

We were sent 2 of the Num Noms Mystery Packs with a lip balm Nom base and a Num rubbery top, and a Cupcake Party Pack Deluxe Set which contains 6 different Nums, 2 motorised Noms, a cup base and a spoon.

Num noms Mystery packs review

Tuesday 29 March 2016

Creamline Fresh Fruit And Veg Box Delivery Review (NorthWest UK).

Back in our parents' childhood the milkman delivered your fresh pint every day and kept an eye on the neighbourhood while most of us were still asleep. Creamline Dairies is a family owned business with a network of affiliated independent milk round operators which has been operating in Manchester and the North West for over 60 years.

Traditionally known as Milkmen, they aren't all men, and they certainly don't only sell milk...

Creamline Fresh Fruit And Veg Box Delivery Review (NorthWest UK).

Creamline Dairies also sell a huge range of groceries, including fresh fruit and vegetables which they pick up fresh each day at New Smithfield Market in Manchester, and they have sent me a box of their fresh produce to review.

Creamline Fresh Fruit And Veg Box Delivery Review manchester

Monday 28 March 2016

Transformers : Robots in Disguise – A New Mission DVD Review And Giveaway

Transformers : Robots in Disguise – A New Mission is available on DVD and Digital Download from today - 28th March - just in time for the Easter holidays. Rated PG this contains 7 episodes, which is almost 2 1/2 hours of the of the latest Cartoon Network Transformers series.

This is the first release for the Transformers: Robots In Disguise series, and is set years after the Prime series. Earth has been peaceful and the Transformers are just living out Transformer lives.

In the first 2-part Story 'Pilot', Bumblebee receives an urgent message from Optimus Prime and gathers together the Autobots to return to Earth and rescue the planet from the Decepticons, who have escaped when their prison ship crash landed.

Friday 25 March 2016

PLAY it! at the Manchester Museum of Science And Industry

PLAY it! has returned to the Manchester Museum Of Science And Industry and we were lucky enough to be invited to the preview evening last night. Over 170 games consoles spanning the last 50 years, from even before Atari and the Sega Megadrive to the ultra modern Oculus Rift, in one room with limited entry. Football fans might disagree, but could you have a better 90 minutes?

Housed in a huge room at the back of the Museum, PLAY it! is suitable for gamers aged around 5+, super-friendly and completely accessible to those with limited mobility, including wheelchair users.

Star Wars Itty Bitty's from Hallmark Review

We love the Itty Bitty's. Collectible plush figures depicting movie, TV and comic book heroes and villains, they stand around 4inch (10cm) tall and are on sale in Gold Crown branches of Hallmark for a mere £6 each. Suitable for children of all ages, they make a great alternative Easter gift, and there really is an Itty Bitty to suit everyone.

Star Wars Itty Bitty plush figures collection

Two of the new ranges of Itty Bitty's in the UK for Spring 2016 are Star Wars, and Superheroes, we already had an advance look at Superman and Batman, now we've been sent 6 of the new Star Wars Itty Bitty's to review - Rey, Yoda, Darth Vader, Kylo Ren, a Stormtrooper and R2-D2.

Wednesday 23 March 2016

Bratz Special Edition Sweet Style Doll review and Remix Doll Giveaway

We've reviewed a couple of the recent Bratz dolls, and they have released a brand new range of Special Edition dolls just in time for Easter. The new Sweet Style dolls are a limited range which will be exclusive to The Entertainer Toy Shops, and all feature the dolls in outfits inspired by their favourite sweets.

Far better for your teeth than the real deal, the Sweet Style dolls make an excellent alternative Easter gift. We've been sent Cloe, who is all sprinkles and icing, along with her puppy Froyo, for review.

Tuesday 22 March 2016

What's So Special About..? Dinosaur Books For Children Reviewed

The What's So Special About...? series of books were published this week by Dragonfly Group. They are really interesting and different factual dinosaur books featuring individual dinosaurs. The books have been written by dinosaur expert Nicky Dee and verified by multiple award-winning palaeontologist Dean R. Lomax.

We've been sent What's So Special About Stegosaurus? and What's So Special About Tyrannosaurus Rex? to review.

What's So Special About..? Dinosaur Books For Children Reviewed

Both books are square paperback books with a good thick cover and 32 full colour pages, rrp £5.99.

Family Lunch review at Brewers Fayre, Stable Gate, Denton.

It's been a long time since we visited a Brewers Fayre, but I was aware they have good food at sensible prices, and I had heard they have brought in Dennis The menace and Gnasher to help entertain the children while you are there. We were invited to try the recently relaunched play area at Brewers Fayre, Stable Gate, Denton to take a look and sample the food.

Family Lunch review at Brewers Fayre, Stable Gate, Denton.

There's a nice big car park, and the fresh buildings of the Premier Inn next door give a really clean and modern outlook. Inside we received a really warm welcome from the very friendly staff, and went off to test out the new play area.

The play area has been allocated a large section to one end of the Brewers Fayre, and this space has been used very well to give an area for younger children, the huge climbing frame and plenty of seating. Even with quite a few children running around it felt very large and clean and wasn't intimidating. The tables have Dennis The Menace colouring and activity sheets for when children want something a bit calmer.

Monday 21 March 2016

Gtech AirRam K9 Review - floorcare for people with pets.

Until 2 weeks ago we had a tired 10 year old vacuum cleaner and a hairy carpet. I felt it could be better, but had no idea just how much better until we got a chance to try out the Gtech AirRam K9. This is a 4 x 4 compact cordless stick vacuum cleaner which is especially designed for homes with pets.

Gtech AirRam K9 Review Floorcare for pet owners

I can't actually applaud the AirRam K9 enough. It is handy, light, quick, easy to empty, the charge lasts ages and it actually does the job it promises it will. Our Dwarf Lop Rabbits shed more hair than you would ever think possible, I should take up knitting. Two rabbits plus Gary the surprise cat means that our before/after photos are pretty striking.

Gtech K9 AirRam before and after carpet hair

Sunday 20 March 2016

Easter Events And Activities For Families In The North West (Manchester Area).

This Easter there are absolutely tons of Easter activities and events for families in the NorthWest UK, here are a few of our favourites mainly from the Manchester area...these are still the most inexpensive I can find, and all require you to get out and about. If you prefer something closer to home (or inside your house!) please see my 10 Alternatives To Eating Chocolate This Easter post...

Manchester Museum Of Science And Industry is hosting Play it! and it looks set to be awesome! Over 180 games systems and consoles plus thousands of games in one room. We loved last year's and will be previewing this year's (so watch out for my post). Opens to the general public on Friday 25th March (Good Friday). Entry to the museum is free, Play it! tickets start at £4 for 90 minutes. Age 5+, children must be accompanied. Find out more on the Museum Of Science And Industry website.

LEGO DC Justice League: Cosmic Clash DVD Review

If you're going to review one LEGO movie in a week, why not make it two. Out tomorrow March 21st, just in time for the Easter break, LEGO are back with their latest home movie. LEGO DC Justice League: Cosmic Clash will be available on Blu-ray and DVD.

We were sent a copy to review, and it doesn't disappoint. Fairly standard LEGO fayre, with plenty to offer the more mature audience, the tongue-in-cheek humour and sarcastic facial expressions of the characters make this a great all-round family movie.

Saturday 19 March 2016

10 Alternatives To Eating Chocolate All Easter!

If, like most, your children are viewing Easter as a time for stuffing their faces until they feel a bit queasy (and repeat) then here are some ideas for things to do that won't cost a fortune, won't fill your house and children with hollow chocolate models, and hopefully will let you spend a bit of quality time together.

Go OUT: If you are in the NorthWest then I'll be publishing a great list of things going on around the Manchester area this Easter for families, but low-cost events and activities happen everywhere. Google local museums and council run parks and activity centres, and take a look at your local news websites.

Eureka Children's Museum Halifax
Eureka the National Children's Museum, Halifax: £11.95 per person annual entry

Stay IN TOWN: There will be loads to explore in your own local area, but it's easily overlooked. Take a look online, print off  a map and pretend you are a tourist, and spend a day visiting your own local attractions. History and geography lessons the fun way with your child.

Friday 18 March 2016

Amazing! Magazine For Kids 7+ - Review, Discount Code and Giveaway (10 Winners)

My children love to find new material to read, and Amazing! really is excellent new material. A monthly printed magazine aimed at children aged around 7+, each issue has content based on the National Curriculum, delivered in a really exciting and interesting way.

Amazing! Magazine For Kids 7+ - Review, Discount Code and Giveaway (10 Winners)

Each edition is around 36 pages printed in full colour on good quality paper. It has a main theme running throughout and is packed with stories, facts, puzzles and riddles, poems, activities articles and jokes. We were sent two recent issues - a Human Body Special, and and Ancient Romans Special.

The Bubblebum Junkie - Back Seat Organisation for your family vehicle (Review)

The Junkie from Bubblebum is a whole new level in back seat storage and tidying for your children. Designed to go especially well in between two car seats, it'll hold your drink, your snacks and your tablet, as well as providing desk trays for 2 children to work on, plus places to store anything else you might need to keep the kids occupied on your journey.

The Bubblebum Junkie - Back Seat Organisation Review

We were sent a Junkie to review, and while I think the name is a bit awkward, it really does convey the idea very well. This is the most techno back seat organisation system ever.

Bubblebum Junkie car tidy - Back Seat Organisation Review

Thursday 17 March 2016

Adrienne Attoms Volcano Experiment for British Science Week

11-20 March is British Science Week and I took very little persuasion to join in with my 2 youngest children. I love watching children learn and explore their world, and simple science experiments at home are a brilliant way to have some real fun with your children.

We were given the opportunity to test another of the great Project MC2 dolls. We have previously reviewed the McKeyla doll with her Lava Lamp experiment, and now we've been sent the Adrienne Attoms doll with Volcano Experiment - one of my all-time favourite kitchen science experiments.

Everything you need is included except items you can find around the home - in this case a plate, vinegar, baking soda (baking powder), red food colouring and 2 drops of washing up liquid.

Geronimo Children's Festival Family Ticket Giveaway - Leeds Or Cheshire

WIN tickets to GERONIMO - The Biggest Children’s Festival in the UK

Yesterday I announced we'll be going to the Geronimo Festival, and today I am happy to say that so will one of you, as I have a Family Ticket to give away to one of my readers! 

Geronimo is back! And this year it’s going to be bigger and better. Seeing a return to Tatton Park in 2016 from May 29th – 30th and a new venue at Harewood House from May 1st – 2nd, expect a line-up jam packed with some of the biggest names in children’s entertainment, including TV favourites Justin Fletcher*, Mr Bloom, Andy Day, Alex Winters and Cook & Line from Swashbuckle.

Wednesday 16 March 2016

Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks and Friendship Games 2 Movie DVD Box Set Review and Giveaway

This Easter there's a brand way to entertain your children for almost 3 hours thanks to the latest Equestria Girls release from Hasbro. A double movie box set, it features both Rainbow Rocks and Friendship Games in one money saving bundle and will be available to buy from Monday 21st March.
We've previously reviewed both movies, and my young boys enjoyed them. Equestria Girls is a little more 'grown up' than My Little Pony, with slightly more intricate storylines to interest children of school age.

We're Geronimo Children's Festival Ambassadors

I am delighted to announce that this year we really should be going to the Geronimo Festival as Festival Ambassadors! Yeeay! Set at 2 locations in the North of the country - Tatton Park in Cheshire (May 29/30) and Harewood House near Leeds (May 1/2), Geronimo is a no-camping day festival designed especially for children aged from 2-12. We will be bringing you all of the action from the Harewood House festival.

Tuesday 15 March 2016

19 Months Smiles

It's 19 months since we lost Elspeth, and this month we've had loads of smiles. We've been out and about and been pretty busy, and we've taken 3 vanloads of rubbish to the tip. I think that is enough proof in itself that we are getting somewhere, a normality is returning. We're doing regular stuff like regular people.

This month also saw my partner and I finish counselling, which is a pretty scary step, but one we all felt we were ready for. We're stronger now, we have learnt it's okay to be truly honest with each other, take time for our own mental health, and that time spent just 'being' is as important as time spent being busy.

When we lost Elspeth and everyone said "life will never be the same", I thought I understood. I didn't. My old life, all of our old lives, stopped right there. The way you think changes, they way you feel about other people changes. The importance you place on every item in your life is restructured, and what you say and do changes. Everything is different. Grief is far more about acceptance and adjustment than you can ever appreciate before you live with it. Losing someone to suicide is far more about constantly managing your feelings of guilt and impotence than you can ever appreciate.

It takes a lot of time to cover everything in your head until you feel you have reached your conclusions, your closure. You will never achieve any win, only a stalemate, when every possible move is played out.

Monday 14 March 2016

NOW TV for Easter 2016 (pay monthly, no contract)

I thought it was about time to remind you that I'm a NOW TV blogger, and have a look at what sort of things you could be watching with NOW TV. There are no contracts, subscriptions or minimum memberships, for Entertainment or Movie channels you pay for 1 month at a time, whenever you actually want it. Sports fans can pay for a month, a week, or even a single day.

Anyone who pays for an Entertainment, Movies or Sports Pass via my links on this page will not pay anything extra, but I will get the equivalent of a late night Sherry out in Manchester, and very grateful I'll be.

NOW TV is really easy to use, and navigating around the site is intuitive enough that an absolute novice (or a 5 year old) can find what they're after.

Spring may be coming, but so is Winter over at NOW TV. Game Of Thrones season 6 starts on 25th April and so now is the time (for anyone who wants to join in) to watch all 5 previous seasons on Box Set. Included in your Entertainment Pass for £6.99 per month.

The LEGO Movie 4D: A New Adventure at LEGOLAND Discovery Centre in Manchester

Last weekend we were treated to early morning access to the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre in Manchester for the launch of The LEGO Movie 4D: A New Adventure. The film is an exclusive 12 minute movie which can only be seen on screens in official LEGOLAND attractions.

It's been a heck of a while since we went to a preview of a new 4D LEGO short film, in fact it was March 2013 to see the LEGO Chima 4D Movie. We loved The LEGO Movie, so we were looking forward to seeing Emmet and Wyldstyle again! I hadn't realised just how much until went inside and they were there - apparently it made my partner's day...

Thursday 10 March 2016

Star Wars: Armada Core Set Review (Tabletop Game age 14+)

Star Wars Armada is a 2-player tabletop miniatures game. Using dice, cards and beautifully designed miniature models you take charge of your own fleet and attempt to destroy the opposition. Each different craft has it's own fire power, range and manoeuvrability, which can also be affected by random events, obstacles and the other player's craft.

Star Wars: Armada Core Set Review (Tabletop Game age 14+)

This is a much more grown up type of game than we usually review, and unlike my usual game reviews, I won't be explaining gameplay in any detail. The rule manual is 18 pages, with an additional booklet to refer to during play. I simply can't explain in one blog post, but hopefully you'll get the gist.

Star Wars: Armada Core Set Review Pack Shot

As daunting as the rule booklet may at first appear, gameplay is actually pretty intuitive, and the main reason for the large rule book is because it's tricky to explain in shorter form, and there can't be room for misinterpretation. The more you play, the more the moves are familiar and second-nature, and you in turn become able to focus on strategy.

Wednesday 9 March 2016

Disney Zootropolis Toys From Tomy Review

March 25th sees the UK release of the brand new animated Disney movie Zootropolis (also called Zootopia in some countries). From the people behind Frozen and Big Hero 6, Zootropolis has been a massive hit with the critics and is set to be huge!

Zootropolis is set in a land where animated animals reign. One of the main characters is a rabbit named Judy, who also happens to be a Police Officer...

Zootropolis Toys Review And Giveaway With Tomy (Zootopia)

Tomy have a great range of toys to accompany Zootropolis, including Judy's Carrot Recorder and Badge, Judy's Deluxe Police Vehicle and a very cuddly Officer Judy Hopps. They've sent us a set to review, and we have another set to give away to one of my readers...

Disney Zootropolis Toy Bundle Giveaway From Tomy

We’ve teamed up TOMY toys to offer 1 lucky child the chance to win a Zootropolis toy bundle, designed to let kids recreate specific scenes and events from the film, truly bringing it to life.

DC Super Hero Girls 3 x £100 VISA Gift Cards Giveaway

The DC Super Heroes are back with new cartoons for your children to watch on You Tube - but this time it's the girls' turn! Bold and fearless, these young ladies know all about girl power!

The DC Super Hero Girls, including Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Supergirl, Bumble Bee, Katana, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, are pupils at Super Hero High, united by friendship and working their way through all that life can throw at them. It's not your average High School and the lessons aren't your usual. Life though for the DC Super Hero Girls is not usual!

Tuesday 8 March 2016

Mainstream Schooling and Students With Additional Needs

I'm a big fan of inclusive education. I like to see as many pupils in mainstream education as can be happy there. I believe that our young people will have to function in the wide world one day, and it is our job to try and prepare them for that as best we can, from teaching them their first friendly smile to taking them to their College interview. They have to learn to mix with everyone else, and school should be a relatively safe environment in which to gather most of the skills, understanding and knowledge required to become a socially adept adult.

Children learn far more than lessons in school, and a big thing they learn about is diversity. They realise on their first day at nursery that everyone is different. My children have all been very lucky and attended schools which have been specifically inclusive to deaf children. They have learnt to communicate, to play and work with children who can't hear like they can. In return the deaf children have learnt how to work best with hearing people. It works, and it benefits the individuals and makes for a healthier society as a whole.

Go Frozen With Iceland and a Vegetarian Special Egg Fried Rice recipe

I'm a big fan of frozen food. It allows you to buy produce all year round, you can buy in bulk more cheaply and you always have something for dinner. You don't have to go shopping as often and you waste less. I am more than happy to Go Frozen With Iceland.

Monday 7 March 2016

Playing With Yoxo - Cardboard construction toy review

We get to play with some awesome toys sometimes that sadly aren't yet available for our friends, and Yoxo is one of them. We were sent our Yoxo from America where it is available to buy already. The range is expanding as we speak, the company is growing and hopefully sometime soon it'll be in store for my more local readers too.

As soon as I saw the boxes I knew this was special. There was a GIRL!!! On a construction toy box - not only is she a girl, but she isn't making flowers or kittens, she's building a car. Brilliant.

Because girls do drive cars you know...

Yoxo is thick shaped card with slots and moulded corners. It is the right size to fit together not only with itself, but with loads of your other toys - including LEGO, cardboard boxes, kitchen towel rolls and all sorts.

Electronic Sshh! Don't Wake Dad! from Drumond Park Review

It's been far too long, but we're back with a new review for Drumond Park and we've been sent Sshh! Don't Wake Dad!, a battery-operated board game for 2-4 players aged around 5+.

The aim of the game is to move your counter around the board, even across the 3D Dad's tummy, until you reach the fridge where you can pinch a very tempting slice of cake. Be careful though, if you disturb Dad as you go past then he'll wake up with a jump and you'll have to return to the start...

Electronic Sshh! Don't Wake Dad from Drumond Park Review and Giveaway

Thursday 3 March 2016

My Fairy Garden Giveaway from Interplay.

My Fairy Garden is one of the Craft Box range of kits from Interplay, and it's an award-winning best-seller for children aged around 4 and over. There are 5 different products that combine small world play with growing live plants. Your child will be learning science while creating their own unique Fairy Garden.

My Fairy Garden Giveaway from Interplay.

As well as the Fairy Garden itself, the other products in the My Fairy Garden range are the Fairy Flowerpot, Lilypad Gardens, Woodland Fairy Door and Secret Fairy Door.

My Fairy Garden children's nature kits

Tuesday 1 March 2016

Numberbundle Mathematical Activity Boxes Review (age 3-7)

Numberbundles are 'mathematical activity boxes supporting the Early Years Foundation Stage and National Curriculum for children aged 3-7'. The boxes are sent out to subscribers on a monthly basis although you can buy them individually, and each one contains different activities around a common theme. Children use the box with their adult, because learning together teaches everyone so much more than working alone.

Numberbundle Activity Boxes Review And Giveaway

My young boys are 5 and 7, and we have been sent a couple of the Numberbundle boxes released recently to review.

Numberbundles review age 3 to 7

The Classic Winter Comfort Food Easy Apple Strudel Recipe

Apple Strudel originated in Austria over 300 years ago and has been popular especially in Eastern European countries for several generations. The perfect seasonal mix of carbohydrate, fruit and sugar, served with cream, ice cream or custard, it is comfort food at it's best, and using ready-made puff pastry it's ready to bake in 15 minutes, ready to eat in an hour.

The Classic Winter Comfort Food Easy Apple Strudel Recipe

The chefs who work at Gracewell Care Homes pride themselves on their quality food, and have enlisted Michelin Star Chefs to work on their recipes. They have created a recipe booklet featuring some of their resident's favourite dishes and asked me if I would like to pick a recipe to try, and they'd provide the ingredients and a gadget to help me cook. Apple Strudel is a favourite here, so it was an obvious candidate.

Apple Strudel Ingredients