Wednesday 31 August 2016

The Silmarillion by J.R.R.Tolkien The Folio Society Book Review

I am truly spoilt to be bringing you another book review for The Folio Society, The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien. Gorgeous keepsake editions of classic books, beautifully bound, with illustration and finishing that is second to none.

The Silmarillion is a book that surprisingly I hadn't read before. J.R.R. Tolkien added to it throughout his writing life, and it tells the tales of what happened before The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit took place, bringing together loose ends and setting the history, myths and legends of Middle Earth.

Thaikhun Manchester Kids Menu Review

Last Saturday was Manchester Pride, not something we'd realised when we booked to review Thaikhun Kids Menu in Manchester Spinningfields. The sun was shining on everyone, and it was lovely to catch a bit of the atmosphere before we went to eat, taking one of our teenagers with us too.

You are drawn into the atmosphere immediately, a Tuk-Tuk greeted us before we even went in. Inside the decor is specially chosen to match the Thai Street Food that is being served. It works very well, and in spite of the lack of Thai humidity, and the Pride revellers coming in, I really felt a complete distance from the outside world.

Tuesday 30 August 2016

Digital Kids Show Manchester 4 Ticket Giveaway

We are really looking forward to the Digital Kids Show on 29th and 30th October at Event City in Manchester. The Trafford Park venue will see a huge array of activities for today's digital children of all ages, including tons of games, coding, tournaments, internet safety information, fairground rides, retro gaming, educational apps and toys and a host of special guest celebrities.

The show will be opened by children's TV favourites Dick And Dom, PacMan himself will be wandering around, and the Gaming And Retro Tech Zone will play host to the cream of the UK's Minecraft YouTube talent, including AmyLee33, LDShadowLady, Ashdubh, Tomohawk, SalemsLady, NettyPlays, SmallishBeans, EthanGamerTV and GeorgeMinecartMayhem. All there to meet, play and answer your Minecraft and YouTube questions. You will also be able to see them over in the Media Zone, where you can look behind the scenes of virtual world celebrity.

Sunday 28 August 2016

15 Healthier Lunchbox Snacks On Test - Will The Kids Eat it?

As schools everywhere ban chocolate from lunchboxes, you might be wondering what you'll put in your child's lunchbox, and will the kids actually eat it? We've been sent loads of different 'healthier' snacks over the last year or so, here are 15 of those we've tried, and what my 6 and (almost) 8 year old children thought of them...

The nutritional information I give is based on the product websites or packaging and is correct to the best of my knowledge. Some links are to older reviews and information given back then may have changed. Prices given on this page are correct at the time of typing on the product website, major supermarkets or Amazon.

Friday 26 August 2016

Pokemon Go! Photo Competition from NCC Home Learning

It comes as no surprise now if you see someone stop suddenly in the street and start swiping their phone screen before giving a little fist pump and carrying on. Clearly they're playing Pokemon Go!, and had spotted Charizard waving at them.

Animated Pocket Monsters aren't the usual thing to see when going about your everyday life, and these encounters can lead to some pretty amazing and amusing images. NCC Home Learning have a Pokemon Go! photography competition running until 30th September 2016 for you to share your Pokemon Go! photos.

Vapiano Kids Menu Review & #LittleVaps Competition (Manchester Corn Exchange).

Yesterday, in the unnatural Manchester heat, my two young boys took me out for lunch to Vapiano Italian Restaurant in the Corn Exchange. They were invited to review the kids menu and see how Vapiano measure up to the discerning palate of children, and as we were there we could also enter the #VapKids video competition...

I've been to Vapiano before as a guest when Manchester Mummy reviewed, so I knew what to expect - in fact some of my photos are from that day, so that I wasn't distracted from my children too much this time.

Tuesday 23 August 2016

Anki OVERDRIVE Robotic Supercar Racing: Family Bundle Review

Anki OVERDRIVE is slot car racing without any of the hassle. Robotic supercars on a track that takes 5 minutes to set up or change, with up to 3 of your mates. And if your mates aren't available, you can just race against the computer...

I first saw the Anki DRIVE a couple of years ago, and was besotted at the time. Anki OVERDRIVE is the upgrade - better, faster, stronger, so I was truly delighted when Anki gave us the chance to review their Family Bundle pack. In the pack are the Starter Kit, Speed Kit, Collision Kit and Corner Kit, as well as two extra cars.

Monday 22 August 2016

The Utterly Awesome Just So Festival Review 2016

We made it! Yeeay! It was impossible for us to overnight at the Just So Festival this year, but we were lucky enough to be invited along as day visitors. I'm pleased to report it made an absolutely excellent day out, in fact we didn't leave the site until almost 10pm! The only downside was that we would have stayed all weekend if we could...

The Just So Festival is a children's festival held annually at Rode Hall in Cheshire.  It is a festival for families with children of all ages, but especially up to around 11, and this year we took our 6 and almost 8 year olds with us..

Sunday 21 August 2016

Letts 'Back To School' Book Bundle Giveaway and 30% Discount Code

Letts have a huge range of learning books for children and young people throughout school and college, from the earliest letter and number skills for age 3, right up to A level revision. With the 'Back To School' panic now underway Letts are offering all of my readers a 30% discount on their entire range of books, and one of my readers can win a huge £50 bundle of books suited to their child.

After the Summer break we're all busy preparing uniforms, shoes and PE kits, but getting children back into a learning frame of mind is really important. There are lots of great books to choose from and Letts has some really engaging and motivating learning books.

For younger children Letts have ranges such as 'Monster Practice' and the new 'Wild About...', and we reviewed some of the Wild About books this June...You can find our full review of Letts Wild About Workbooks here...

Thursday 18 August 2016

Nerf N-Strike Elite Hyperfire Blaster Review (age 8+)

One of the most popular items we've ever been sent to review arrived a fortnight ago. The Nerf N-Strike Elite Hyperfire Blaster from Hasbro takes dart firing to a whole new level with a 25 dart cartridge and staggering 4 x D cell battery level of power.

Baby and infant toys are great, but as your children get older they move on, and if they're anything like my boys then it won't be long before they are drooling at the big kid toys. Nerf are definitely a big kid toy, and with our oldest being 22, they're a long-time firm favourite in our house.

Your blaster arrives in a box which is large enough for storage afterwards, there's a pull out drawer and it takes very little time to remove.  Set up is quick - insert the 4 x D cell batteries, load the cartridge, insert the cartridge, shoot.

Wednesday 17 August 2016

Education Quizzes For School Age Children Website Review

The Education Quizzes website is a huge resource for children throughout their school years. Quizzes are written by teachers and grouped by age range, from age 4 KS1 up to 16 year olds taking their GSCE's, including a section for children who have English as a second language, and some more in-depth topics such as Flags of The World or London.

Choose the age range suitable for your child (KS1, KS2, 11-Plus, KS3 and GCSE), and then from the list of subjects. Within each subject there will be a number of relevant quizzes, there seem to be at least 10 in each, but some subjects such as KS1 Science have around 100 quizzes! All of the core school subjects are covered, and some topics have their own section too, more extensive parts of the National Curriculum such as Times Tables. Quizzes for younger children are mainly image based, whereas older children have less pictures and more text.

Monday 15 August 2016

24 months....2 years.

The last two years of my life have sped past so incredibly slowly. A moment in time that I'll carry with me forever, memories that will never ever be distant, yet every minute since has dragged into an eternity and I cannot remember life before her loss.

I wish I could say that I had the confidence I found 3 months ago. My days are spent collecting the pieces of our lives and frantically trying to put them back together, carrying on in that way that I appear to manage so very well.

But it feels like a lie. I watch over my shoulder the whole time, I stuff random collections in bags, and grab what I can as quickly as possible before running away to hide again. The need to be under cover is so great when above our heads is the most huge of clouds. One of our children is not with us at the top of our mountain, cannot bear to start collecting up those pieces. And that tortures us all.

Saturday 13 August 2016

Plan Our Date Monthly Subscription Box Review, Discount Codes And Giveaway

As all parents will understand, date night with your partner can end up a rare and illusive beast, especially if you are lacking in regular babysitters. Life gets in the way and before you know it the closest you've come in 2 years is the occasional 2 person meal in the kitchen, which is lacking a little in excitement and romance. Plan Our Date help to give you back that spark of unknown, and inject a little surprise and 'couple time' into your relationship.

Each month they send out a little box of treasures for you and your partner to have a date night with a difference. We've been sent the July box to review, and when I peeped inside at first I wasn't sure it was for us, but it's good for everyone to try something new, and doing it together with just your partner really does serve to help you focus on each other for one very rare evening...

Friday 12 August 2016

Don't Rock The Boat Family Game Review (age 5+)

Don't Rock The Boat is a fairly classic game and was one of our favourites when our older children were younger. Pieces went missing years ago, so I was delighted when I was given the chance to review the new version from University Games featuring Pirate Penguins!

Suitable for 2-4 players aged 5 and up, there are several ways to play Don't Rock The Boat, with varying difficulty. This makes it an excellent game for playing with younger children, teaching turn-taking and winning and losing, and is brilliant for promoting fine motor skills, hand-eye co-ordination and simply being careful...

Thursday 11 August 2016

The Gloriumptious Worlds Of Roald Dahl Book Giveaway

It's a rare day that the entire family can pick up a book and be taken away into an amazing world of imagination and adventure, but The Gloriumptious Worlds Of Roald Dahl has that quality. Full of nostalgia and magic, this is a scrapbook of stories, characters and creations from 15 of Roald Dahl's best loved children's books, and I am delighted to have a copy to give away to one of my readers.

My full review of The Gloriumptious Worlds Of Roald Dahl is here, and we love it. Everyone in my house, from age 6 to 45 has been spotted grinning at the pages. This is a book full of all the interesting bits and pieces you didn't consider or see when you read Roald Dahl's books - tickets and receipts, posters and letters, adverts and information galore.

The Gloriumptious Worlds Of Roald Dahl Book Review

Roald Dahl would have been 100 this September and one of the new releases to commemorate is a fascinating book celebrating his classic and timeless children's stories. The Gloriumptious World Of Roald Dahl from Carlton Books is illustrated by Mr Dahl's long-time collaborator Quentin Blake and brought together by the children's author Stella Caldwell, and it really is an absolute treasure.

This is not a collection of Roald Dahl's stories, it's an accompaniment, and although it will mean a lot more once you know each of the tales featured, you could enjoy it in it's own right. The Gloriumptious Worlds is crammed with imagined backstory, comments and quotes, and fantastic oddities and items that set the scene for the stories.

Wednesday 10 August 2016

Meccano Micronoids: Basher (age 8+) Review

Meccano have recently raised their game immensely, including expanding with the amazing Tech range of award-winning programmable Meccanoids. Brand new for this Autumn are 3 smaller models, the Micronoids, and we are lucky enough to be among the very first people to try one out. We've been sent Basher to review...

Basher has 139 pieces and is really quite a technical build, so is recommended for age 8+. The packaging is a mix of the simple and the annoying, but minimal and mainly recyclable.

Inside the box you have the robot head, a bag of angled joining pieces, a bag of nuts, bolts and washers, 3 bags of plastic parts, multi-purpose Meccano screwdriver and spanner, and the instruction booklet. Helpfully there is also a card with the number to ring in case of any issue or problem.

5 Festival Foods You (And Your Children) Should Try...

Back in the olden days, when no-one in our house had exams, and schools were allowed to appreciate the value of time away with your family, I took my older children to festivals each year. My younger boys haven't been quite so lucky, but they're not novices. As well as the music, the performances and the sheer spectacle, it also introduced your children to a wide variety of foods which they may not be so keen or likely to experience at home.

It was at Glastonbury where I discovered that frozen yogurt or ice cream is the best way to get liquid and sugar into a 4 year old who is hot and over tired - plus they'll sleep when their tummy is full of milky goodness (long overdue thank you for that Yeo Valley). It may also have been at Glastonbury I discovered this trick also works someone who is incredibly hung over....

Festival food has changed so much over the past 30 years that it has become unrecognisable from the greasy soggy chips I was eternally grateful for at Glastonbury in the 90's. Vegetarians have choice, and meat-eaters are not left torn between the eternal Hot Dog or Burger? Widespread use of  diesel generators and portable fridges and freezers has turned it around completely. Never again is there any excuse to accept a slightly mouldy sandwich, however many lemonades I drink beforehand...

Monday 8 August 2016

Beets BLU Bluetooth Digital Bathroom Scale with Body Composition (Review)

Beets BLU are well known for their innovative gadgets which make use of Bluetooth connections to connect to your phone or tablet. We've previously reviewed a keyfob which alerts you to where you have left your keys, and we've now been sent their Digital Bathroom Scale with Body Composition to review.

Well packaged and with clear, simple instructions, it really is a complete doddle to set up. The quick-start basically involves downloading the app to your device, putting the batteries (included) into the scale, and stepping on.

Asterix: The Mansions Of The Gods Movie Preview (PG)

Asterix: The Mansions Of The Gods will be coming to a cinema near you in 2D and 3D from 19th August, and we've been lucky enough to have a sneak preview screening. A computer animated adventure movie with a voice cast that includes an amazing array of popular UK comedians from different genres, it promised big things and hasn't disappointed.

My partner and I grew up reading Asterix books, but in recent years they haven't seemed so popular, and my young boys didn't know the stories at all. They do now! The cast really bring all of the characters to life and this is one of the funniest films we've watched this year.

The deadpan Jim Broadbent as Julius Caesar and Greg Davis and The Centurion work really well against Jack Whitehall as Asterix and Nick Frost as Obelix. There is slapstick humour throughout, and this is an innocent movie, no-one dies or suffers horrific injuries, they're more likely to be attacked by a fish for singing too loud.

Saturday 6 August 2016

The Folio Society Classic Book Gifts - The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy

The Folio Society have been producing gorgeous editions of timeless classic literature for almost 70 years. We were given the opportunity to review, and I chose a relatively modern book which has been read and enjoyed by almost our whole family, The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

As soon as your book arrives, you know this is something special. The quality is often shown in the detail, and the packaging really delighted me, I love this box!

Friday 5 August 2016

Stoopido From Drumond Park Family Game Review And Giveaway(8+)

Drumond Park are releasing some new games this Autumn, and we've been sent an advance copy of one of them, Stoopido, to review. Released on 29th August, Stoopido is a family game for 2-4 players aged 8+, and quite rightly describes itself as 'the game of 1000 silly faces'.

When you open the box you have an entire dressing up box full of mask parts and it does take a little putting together, so allow 10 minutes before you start.

Wednesday 3 August 2016

Gobbit Family Card Game Review (age 6+)

Gobbit is a family card game which takes the mechanism of 'Snap' and moves it on in increasingly complicated steps. Suitable for 2-8 Players aged 6+, it's ridiculously simple and familiar, and quite addictive. Gameplay can be quick and a full game can be over in 15 minutes.

Unusually the packaging really is just that, and when you open the box you first find a Gobbit player certificate and a rubber wristband - you are allowed to challenge anyone wearing a wristband to a game of Gobbit. I'm not sure how often that would happen ordinarily, but there are tournaments being held in stores across the UK which you are allowed to enter...

Tuesday 2 August 2016

Water - My First Discoveries Children's Book Review (age 4+)

Water is one of life's essentials, but it's also pretty amazing and has some unique properties. This book might not touch on all of those, but it's a great introduction to something we all take for granted. Suitable for young independent readers, but best for reading together, Water - My First Discoveries by Pierre-Marie Valat is not only full of information, it has a really interesting format...

The My First Discoveries books are a hardback spiral bound series, with around 24 stiff card pages and 6 transparent acetates. Designed for children aged around 4-8, Water is a more intelligent and 'grown up' board book.