Saturday 30 April 2016

Robinson Crusoe Family Movie Bundle And Merchandise Giveaway

Next Friday 6th May sees the 2D and 3D cinema release of Robinson Crusoe in a brand new animated family movie from Studiocanal. To celebrate they are offering one of my readers a fabulous movie bundle with family DVD's and Robinson Crusoe goodies.

Tuesday the parrot and his quirky friends live on an uninhabited island. Everyone may think this is paradise except Tuesday, who dreams of travelling the world. During a fierce storm the explorer Robinson Crusoe winds up shipwrecked on the island, and an excited Tuesday initially sees him as a ticket to escape.

Friday 29 April 2016

Win 1 of 3 Amazing Kids DVD Bundles With Ratchet And Clank - in cinemas now!

From today, April 29th, Ratchet And Clank are bringing their particular brand of animated family adventure to the big screen in their first ever movie release.

Ratchet And Clank is loosely based on the first video game from 2002, telling how the eponymous heroes Ratchet and Clank came together as a force for good, and introducing a few of the friends and enemies they have made along the way.

The duo find a mysterious weapon that is so powerful it can annihilate entire planets and it's up to them, assisted by the Galactic Rangers, to keep it out of enemy hands, avert disaster and save the Solarna Galaxy.

Thursday 28 April 2016

Loony Quest Family Board Game Giveaway (age 8+)

We love Loony Quest, it's a really funny board game that is great for anyone aged 8+ in the family to play, and everyone has a chance of winning. Our household has really enjoyed playing it and so I'm delighted that Esdevium Games have offered a copy to give away to one of my readers.

Loony Quest plays in a similar way to a platform video game - players progress through levels, beating bosses, collecting bonuses and avoiding obstacles as they travel. The aim of the game is to stay alive and be the first to the finish.

Wednesday 27 April 2016

Loony Quest - the board game that thinks it's a video game (age 8+ review).

The description for Loony Quest was the most intriguing game description I've heard. Suitable for 2-5 players aged 8+, a physical game with cards and other equipment, but which behaves as a video game, requiring you to gain points and progress through a series of levels in order to reach an end target. It's a very different and quite bold concept, and does it work?

Well actually it does, and it works very well. In fact we've played this game several times now, and we haven't used even 1/3 of the cards, nor have we had any chance of learning them - but we have got better at playing, and we've laughed a lot.

Tuesday 26 April 2016

Wiplii Giant Recycled Cardboard Tepee Giveaway (age 3+)

Yesterday I posted our review of the Wiplii Pirate Ship, and so today I am truly thrilled to be able to offer one of my readers the chance to win a Wiplii cardboard model of your own.

Some of you might be a bit glad to hear that the Wiplii Cardboard Tepee is a little smaller than the Pirate Ship, but still plenty big enough for a couple of native Americans or wilderness campers...
The Wiplii Cardboard Tepee stands at 1 metre tall and the footprint is 1460mm x 1230mm. Just like our Wiplii Giant Cardboard Pirate Ship, it is suitable for age 3+ and is assembled completely from recycled card with white facing. There are no glue or staples, and we found assembly of the Pirate Ship was amazingly simple - a stunning 12 minutes!

Monday 25 April 2016

Giant (7ft tall!) Recycled Cardboard Wiplii Pirate Ship Review And Discount Code

If you'd told me 2 months ago I would have a 7 foot tall cardboard model pirate ship in my house I'd have laughed, however I do and it's brilliant! A playhouse, a den, the best place to eat your sandwiches and the starting point for a million stories and games - and my boys can even colour it in or paint it however they like...

I asked my boys which Wiplii cardboard model they preferred and although secretly I really hoped they'd choose the Castle, they chose the Pirate Ship. I knew that our Manchester weather doesn't really allow for playing outside with cardboard very much, so the ship would be indoors for now at least, but I still didn't appreciate how big it was going to be - it's super impressive!

Saturday 23 April 2016

Vietnamese Street Food at Pho with the family.

Today we had a special job to do as my 6 and 7 year old boys had been asked to review Vietnamese Street Food at Pho in Manchester Corn Exchange.  They were going to be on film talking about the food, and I was a little worried about what reaction they were going to have...and possibly also just how sensible they'd be for the camera lady... I was also a bit concerned about how well vegetarians were catered for, as 2 of us don't eat meat or fish.

Thankfully I needn't have been concerned, my small boys ate absolutely loads, as did we all. Vegetarians are very well catered for, but be sure to mention it to your hosts, as they will omit fish sauce from your meal.

Thursday 21 April 2016

Is There a Separation of Government in Homeschooling?

This post is written by Andrew Burgess

Is There a Separation of Government in Homeschooling?

There are many reasons that parents choose to homeschool their children. Some families move around frequently, so parents want to provide some kind of stability. Some want to provide their children with a safe learning environments. Still others believe that the government is too involved in the public school system. While there is some separation of the government in the homeschooling setting, it can't be completely avoided.

Building A Duvet Fort with Sleepy People Anti Allergy Bedding

Some jobs are just plain fun, and being asked by SleepyPeople if I could share my fort-building skills was definitely something that appealed on a rainy afternoon during Easter break - as my 6 and 7 year old boys ran past screeching at the fleeing cat.

I may not have the neatest or best fort-building skills, but after 22 years as a parent I'd hope I can put together something suitable, and SleepyPeople sent new pillows and duvets to work with. They proved an instant hit...

As they were having so much fun I let them play for as long as they wanted. Thankfully both the pillows and duvets are washable - the pillows are actually waterproof!! Who doesn't love a good roll in a duvet...

Winter Is Coming!! Game Of Thrones is back from next week

Yes it's true. The long wait is over and Game Of Thrones: Season 6 starts on Monday 25th April. The public have been listened to, and it will be broadcast simultaneously with the US at 2am GMT on Sky Atlantic and then repeated at 9pm. Plus the Catch Up episode will be available from around 3am. You can find out if Jon Snow is going to come back at exactly the same time as everyone else on your Facebook friends list. Spoilers may be a thing of the past...

In the lead up to Season 6 NOW TV is asking fans to Tweet @NOWTV with the hashtag #GoTFate to be tweeted back with an animated #GoTFate video, personalised to the profile photo of your Twitter handle.

If you share this animated video with your mates and followers then you'll be entered into a prize draw to win an amazing prize where one lucky winner will head off to Belfast for a special Game of Thrones experience on set, courtesy of Winterfell Tours, including an exclusive archery experience on set, direwolves encounter, a visit to 20 key film locations and much more.

Wednesday 20 April 2016

The perils of living with an amateur mountaineer (aged 6).

My youngest child is a climber. It wasn't a complete shock to me, his older sister was a climber too and had fallen off the dining room table and split her head open by the time she was 12 months. Her 2nd glue-job was when she was still under 4. Thankfully so far those are the only trips to hospital with small people who have fallen, however that is some sort of miracle.

Aged around 18 months she climbed barefoot to the top of our 8 foot tall wooden garden fence. Sadly no adult is able to climb up a fence like that, and I actually had to leave her up there and run into my house , go all the way upstairs to fetch a stepladder and not trip up on the way back to get her down. She thought it was hilarious, she could see the neighbour's dog and she liked dogs. And cats....(I don't have a picture of a dog and I've heard cats attack you in the night if they think you are the enemy).

We knew our youngest was inquisitive, and more than a bit lively, from very early on. A walker by 11 months, he had already learned how to undo stairgates by twisting the two bottom supports until they were loose, and then just pushing the gate to crawl under it. It was no coincidence the gate at the top of the stairs was screwed completely to the wall.

FabLab Metallic Tattoos From Interplay Review (age 8+)

The FabLab Metallic Tattoos kit from Interplay has over 120 temporary tattoos in gold, silver and black. Recommended for age 8+, I can think of a few adults who would get a lot of fun out of this kit - including myself as it turns out...

FabLab Metallic Tattoos kit from Interplay Review

The kit has everything you might need including the 4 sheets of tattoos, plastic scissors, a big piece of sponge which you can cut to a manageable size to help apply your tattoos and an instruction leaflet.

The tattoos themselves are lovely designs! Really varied, there definitely is something for everyone, and a lot are really very generic and could suit almost any potential temporary tattoo buyer.

Digital Kids Show comes to Manchester this Autumn

Updated to add Minecraft Vloggers and other TV and internet stars and celebs! - see the end of the article!

This October the first ever Digital Kids Show will take place at Event City in Manchester. A 2 day event bringing to life digital entertainment in a fun a friendly format for children and their grown ups. Six different zones will ensure there is something to interest everyone - I'm just now sure how long we'll be spending at each!

I get tons of press releases each day and I read them, but mainly I don't have time or inclination to share, however when it's really relevant to my audience and something I think is pretty awesome, then it's great to be able to tell you about it.

The long-standing Children’s TV duo Dick and Dom will kick off proceedings - which is enough to get my teenagers giggling and wanting to go...hmmm...

The six zones will include:

Gaming and Retro Tech - well, what more do I need to say, this is one of our favourite things. The very best retro and next generation computer games and tech, everything from Mario to Minecraft. There will also be some of the latest VR gaming and gadgetry.

Monday 18 April 2016

Madame Tussauds Blackpool Gets The Summer Festival Feel...

It's not every day you can see a giant pair of wellies on Blackpool beach, but Madame Tussauds have taken a pair onto the sand to promote their newest area inside the attraction - Festival Fields. They didn't only have giant yellow wellies braving the elements - Olly Murs, Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran were there too, as the festival headliners...

We are a house full of music fans, and most of my lot are no stranger to festivals either, so Festival Fields sounds right up our street. It's also got it's very own camper van to go with the wellies - throw in the wet wipes and you've got my 3 festival essentials!

Blog On MSI Manchester Ice Breaker Linky

I've been to Blog On conference in Manchester for the last 3 years and I've had an awesome time. As was pointed out to me today, I rarely ever get the chance to switch off and unwind, and Blog On is 6 hours for me to just be Jenny. There is a linky to introduce yourself, and I really don't know everyone, so here are my answers the list of questions as set by Chelsea Mamma. 

1.) Share a picture of yourself  - there are very few photos of me - this is the only one taken by someone over the age of 6 in the last 2 years where I wasn't stood next to someone in a costume!

2.) If you had to describe yourself in three words... Truthful, sarcastic, broken

3.) How long have you been blogging and what made you start? I've blogged for a long, long time, but The Brick Castle is 3.5 years old and just celebrated my 1000th blog post - it's all in there. This is post 1001.

Saturday 16 April 2016

The 1000th Post On The Brick Castle.

It's taken just under 3 1/2 years, but I've reached my 1000th blog post. That means almost every day I have written and rambled and documented what we got up to. I started The Brick Castle as a place to store reviews for Orchard Toys, and I assumed it would be a handy place to also keep together a record of what we got up to with our 7 children. In fact, it has documented far, far more than any of us could have imagined...

16 Orchard Toys reviews.
55 recipes, 110 LEGO posts, 200 giveaways.
1 holiday to the Isle Of Wight, 2 days out in Blackpool, 3 festivals.
4 Silver Sharks, 2 rescued house-rabbits, 1 Gary the surprise cat.
2 cases of Chicken Pox, many cases of headlice.
1 ice cold jelly bath, 1 sport relief cycle, 1 emotional support trip to the Race For Life.
1 visit to Guinness Book Of Records HQ, 2 trips to Britmums Live, 3 trips to BlogOn Conference.
3 Christmases, 27 birthdays
2 new school starters, 3 school leavers. 4 sets of GCSE's, 2 lots of A levels.
1 child moved out to go to uni, 1 child came home. 
2 car accidents, 1 broken knee.
1 case of Meningitis, 1 Hernia, 2 operations.
1 child's death.
18 collections of monthly smiles.

Friday 15 April 2016

20 Months After Losing Elspeth.

This is my 999th post and below the smiles at the end are some things that you may not know about the emergency services when you lose someone to suicide. We were treated with utmost care when we lost Elspeth, and for that I can't thank them all enough.

This time of year is hard all round I guess. We are all fed up with long evenings cooped up under indoor light, our young people have exams, and stress levels start to rise as everyone longs for the day they can be sat outside doing naff all but enjoying the sun on their face. I expect this is exactly the period after Christmas when you shouldn't ever make the decision to become a statistic.

20 months turns out to be really quite hard. I was correct last month and the dust is starting to settle. We actually are falling into some sort of 'normal', but that brings it's own problems. We all have time to focus on the here and now, which means you can't help but re-evaluate and assess your situation. After reading something written by a Mum who lost her child a short while before we lost Elspeth, I realised we are certainly not alone in this. You wonder 'is this it? Is this as good as it gets? Will this cloud be over us forever?'. The mud may have gone, but the dust cloud remains and it's kind of hard to see where you will be going from here.

Thursday 14 April 2016

Revell Junior Kit Stage 1 Fire Engine Model Kit (age 4+) Review

Revell are well-known for their long history of producing model kits, and their Junior Kits are especially designed to introduce young builders to modelling - while working as a fully functioning toy once built. We've been sent the Fire Engine (or Fire Truck if you prefer) Level 1 Junior Kit to review, suitable for children from around age 4.

Revell Juniors Stage 1 Fire Engine Model Kit (age 4+) review

My newly 6 year old is no stranger to building and modelling, but is not a natural instruction-follower and usually has a 20 minute attention span. He maintained interest throughout this build with a couple of short breaks. He did need a little help with 2 errors and 1 part he simply couldn't understand, but otherwise it is all his own work - and you can tell how pleased he was with it...

Revell Juniors Stage 1 Fire Truck building

The Reward Box Giveaway (choose either Fairy or Pirate themed).

It is easy to see just how proud my 6 year old is with his personalised Reward Box, and now I have a chance for one of my readers to win one of their very own. The winner will have the choice of either the Fairy Cottage or the Pirate Chest theme.

Each Reward Box comes with an organza drawstring bag containing 20 silver painted wooden stars and 2 sheets of personalisation stickers - themed and letters.

Wednesday 13 April 2016

Mini Lalaloopsy Style ‘N’ Swap Crumbs Sugar Cookie Doll Giveaway

Lalaloopsy dolls have been popular with youngsters for several years now, and this Spring they've released a series of new Mini Lalaloopsys with the brand new Style ‘N’ Swap range. All of the popular Lalaloopsy characters with new and exciting looks that can be mixed and matched again and again.

The Mini Lalaloopsy Style ‘n’ Swap range includes the Mini Lalaloopsy Style ‘N’ Swap Doll Assortment (£9.99). Each set has one doll, one pet, one accessory and over 10 removable wigs, clothes and shoes.

What On Earth? Timeline Wallbook Of British History Giveaway

We love the What On Earth? Timeline Wallbook Of British History that we reviewed yesterday, so I'm delighted to be able to tell you that What On Earth? have kindly offered a copy of this brilliant large format hardback children's book as a giveaway prize.

The Timeline Wallbook charts the history of Britain from when the British Isles were first created right up until the present day and Tim Peake's trip into space. It covers everything from popular culture and historic battles to royal houses and castles, and my boys have found far more that they recognise or have heard about than they ever expected.

The Reward Box - rewarding children in style (review).

The Reward Box takes 'star charts' to a new level, with 3D wooden stars to collect in order to achieve your treat. Your child personalises their own box, using the enclosed stickers if they wish, and they can keep charge of it and count their stars themselves to keep track of how well they are doing.

I'm a big fan of positive reinforcement and I like to be able to encourage my young people to act with care for themselves and others, so we've long been fans of star stickers and reward charts.

My youngest child has had sleep issues, can be a bit boisterous and gets carried away easily, which results in breakages, injuries and annoyed cats. He rarely ever has bad intention, and has an immense sense of pride when he feels he's pleased us, so we have regularly had reward charts for him in the past. He was an obvious candidate for review.

Tuesday 12 April 2016

The What On Earth? Wallbook Timeline Of British History review.

I love looking at new books with my children, and sometimes a different sort of book comes along that really makes us pay attention. The What On Earth? Wallbook Of British History is definitely very different - and very impressive.

The What On Earth? Wallbook Timeline Of British History review.

From outside the hardback cover the Wallbook Timeline Of British History looks like a regular large format book, but open it out and inside is a pocket magnifier, a 2 metre long pullout wallbook, and an 18 page copy of The Chronicle - a brilliant mock up of an imaginary newspaper.

Wallbook Childrens Timeline Of British History review.

Fruit Salad Family Card and Dice Game Review

Fruit Salad is an incredibly quick to grasp family game which is played using a set of 60 circular playing cards and 2 special dice. My 7 year old really likes this one, and as each game needs barely a corner of the table, takes 2-4 players and lasts only around 15 minutes, it's a great game for playing when you have an odd half hour to fill.

Fruit Salad Family Card Game Review

Fruit Salad is recommended for children aged around 6+ and I think that's right because it is fast and competitive, and if I played with any commitment I'd still frustrate my newly 6 year old as he simply wouldn't be as fast as me. My 7 year old though plays on a pretty even par, and can beat me regularly.

Monday 11 April 2016

Kids In The Kitchen With Cookies, Ginger and Wilko's Kitchen Equipment

Over Easter Wilko sent me and my children a gorgeous bundle of goodies from their baking range to have a play with. Annoyingly people in my house were ill, so my plans for Easter cooking were a little delayed. We're all back on track and so I spent most of the weekend in the kitchen with help from my 2 young assistants...

Wilko's sent us some truly gorgeous equipment to help with our baking. The Mason Cash ceramic Mixing Bowl (£15) and Measuring Jug (£10) are absolutely gorgeous, I've taken a very possessive stance over them.

It pains me to hear clanking metal on ceramics, so I'm pleased to say Wilko's also sent us some plastic pig tools (£1 each), plus a Beech Wooden Rolling Pin (£3.50), a 9 inch spring form cake tin, silicone whisk (£1.25), heart cookie cutters and a mini kitchen scale (£2.50).

Friday 8 April 2016

Adventure Time Magazine Review

My family are big fans of the Cartoon Network show Adventure Time. The older children introduced us to it several years ago and it was a pleasure to have them watch something that the adults could appreciate too. The tragic backstories (poor, poor Marceline) and the fact these characters were each left alone, in a world where little makes sense, give Adventure Time a depth unusual to a largely children's TV Show.

Adventure Time is the first to arrive. There are 13 issues a year delivered to your home address by, so you don't need to remember to pick it up from the newsagent.

Thursday 7 April 2016

Gtech Multi Cordless Hand-Held Vacuum Cleaner Review

The Gtech Multi is a hand-held vacuum which combines the familiarity of an upright cleaner and the cleaning performance of the AirRam. Designed to complement your regular vacuum cleaner, the Multi can get into all those hard-to-reach places and edges, and give you a finish that makes all the difference, and makes the perfect partner for the Gtech AirRam.

The Gtech Multi arrives in a neat easy-open storage box which is not very big or heavy, and is pretty good for being minimal packaging. Inside are the Multi and the 3 attachments, plus charging cable/adapter. 

Easy and tidy sand art with the Revell MyArts Sand Shaker 30740 (review)

Coloured sand can make striking and beautiful pictures, but it's not easy to use without spills and mess, and you waste more than you have on the paper. Revell have created the MyArts Sand Shaker to make all of that a thing of the past, and keep your beautiful coloured sands separate while you work.

Easy and tidy sand art with the Revell MyArts Sand Shaker 30740 (review)

I'm not precious about mess, but I still get annoyed when I find craft materials all over my living room and lots of tidying is needed. Because the MyArts Sand Shaker contains all of the sand it's incredibly easy for even younger children to control and create something wonderful.

Revell MyArts Sand Shaker box contents review

Everything you need is in the box, including a double ended glue spreader which works really well for pushing sand that's escaped back into line, as well as spreading glue!

Tuesday 5 April 2016

Beets Blu Bluetooth Keyfinder (Pager Tag) Review

The Beets BLU Key Finder Bluetooth 4.0 Wireless Pager Tag with Audio Alarm may have a hefty title, but at 9g it's light as a feather. Paired to your phone it can tell you where you left your keys and when your child has wandered too far away, and it can let you take a family photo by remote control.

Beets Blu Bluetooth Keyfinder (Pager Tag) Review

My partner has lost quite a bit of his memory since having Meningitis, so now he has the super-power to lose the car keys within 3 seconds of entering the house or arriving at work. It's a bit frustrating and annoying, and so reviewing the Beets Blu Key Finder may just save my sanity. Irony notwithstanding, it took us 40 minutes to find the keys to attach the key fob. It was the happiest 40 minutes searching I've spent in years.

Saturday 2 April 2016

A Family Movie Night with the Bahlsen Biscuit Range

Hermann Bahlsen first sold his biscuits to the public in Hannover in 1889, and his descendents have carried on his work ever since. In the UK Bahlsen Choco Leibniz are now well-recognised as one of the more decadent snacks to have with your cuppa, and along with PiCK UP! chocolate bars are regulars in our house.

Bahlsen have expanded their ranges with new flavour combinations for both Leibniz and PiCK UP! and we were lucky enough to be asked to try them here complained!

Friday 1 April 2016

The Blackpool Tower Attractions Spring 2016 Review

The Blackpool Tower is massive, in fact the base of the 158m tower is so huge that it plays host to several attractions. We visited last weekend with our 2 young children and 3 of our teenagers to review The Blackpool Tower Dungeon, Jungle Jim's Children's Indoor Play and The Blackpool Tower Circus.

We parked nearby not far behind Blackpool Sealife and paid £9 for 8 hours parking (6ft3 barrier), which for only a flat 5 minute walk to The Blackpool Tower I thought was fair.