Monday 31 October 2016

MOA Skincare Review - The Green Balm and Fortifying Green Bath Potion.

MOA, the Magic Organic Apothecary, are a UK company who make natural skincare products containing ingredients which have stood the test of time, and proven their usefulness and reliability. MOA's favourite ingredient is Yarrow, a herb which has been used for centuries to heal and repair, and one which we spend hours driving past every Summer...

Yarrow is one of my favourite hedgerow flowers, and so I'm more than happy to find out it can be so beneficial. It is one of the ingredients in both of the products I've been sent to review. The Green Balm and Fortifying Green Bath Potion.

Sunday 30 October 2016

Air Hogs Batman v Superman Radio Control 1 to 24 Scale Batmobile Review (age 8+)

Our latest review for Spin Master toys is the Air Hogs official movie replica Batman v Superman Radio Control Batmobile. A 1:24 scale model with a brushed metal effect body on a sturdy chassis, the vehicle has a nippy and responsive driving and linkage steering system.

The Batmobile and charger take a hefty 6 x AA batteries, but we've found power lasts for ages, it's happy with rechargeable batteries, and we haven't had to change them yet despite quite considerable play over the last fortnight.

I love the packaging on this, it was really minimal and mainly taped cardboard and plastic 1/4 turn locking bolts. It takes seconds to remove your Batmobile from the box.

The Secret Life Of Pets Movie Review and Digital Download Guide with iTunes Giveaway

The secret life of pets is an animated family movie from Universal pictures, and is released on released on Digital Download tomorrow Monday 31st October. The movie tells the tale of Max and Penny and a host of family pets. Max is abandoned and Penny finds, and rescues him. She takes him home and they spend the next few months getting to know each other and keeping each other company in the flat.

One day Penny brings a new dog home from the pound, Duke. Max is very jealous and decides he needs to get rid of Duke, but it goes wrong and both Max and Duke find themselves lost.

Max and Duke need to find their way back home, but are being watched by the evil fluffy white bunny Snowball and his ragtag gang of escaped pets. They encounter several adventures along the way, including nearly drowning after Duke is taken by the Animal-Catcher, and the van has an accident on the way to the pound.

Friday 28 October 2016

Top Horror Films To Watch This Halloween

Anyone who knows me well will know I've always been a fan of horror. There's no better evening for me than one involving an early night for the little children and a couple of horror movies.

Warner Brothers have asked me to write about my top horror films to watch this Halloween, and in return they're going to send me 5 of my favourite classic horror DVD's, so how could I resist?

1. The Exorcist (1973)
Anything parodied that much has to be worthy of watching. The Exorcist really is a great example of the psychological and disturbing. Possibly the 'horror' and swearing aren't as effective and shocking now as they were back in 1973, but the bed scenes will stay with you. The acting is excellent and very chilling. You can thank The Exorcist for all of the 'possessed child' movies since...

2. Friday The 13th (1980)
Many classic horror movies have sequels and Friday The 13th seems to have more than any other - Jason Vorhees is apparently unstoppable. The original 'kids at camp get murdered one after another by someone seeking revenge for wrongdoings and years of bitterness' movie. Remember the rules kids...

3. The Shining (1980)
One of my favourite books and equally good as a movie, this Stephen King and Stanley Kubrick classic has depths that you miss the first 5 or 6 times you see it. You watch the main character's fall into insanity, as you will his wife and child to make their escape - virtually impossible due to their remote location and Winter snow. Psychological and disturbing, one of the few horror films which does not rely on anyone else as the aggressor. This is what could happen to any of us if we spent months confined...

Wednesday 26 October 2016

Skylanders Imaginators Crash Limited Edition (PS4) Review

This October has seen the brand new game release from Skylanders - Imaginators. A disc and toy-based game available for all major consoles, Imaginators allows players to create their own unique characters, as well as playing using the characters which have accompanying figures. We are especially lucky because we have been sent the Playstation 4 Crash Limited Edition Starter Pack for review.

The Crash Starter Pack arrives with:
Video Game Disc
Skylanders Portal Of Power
4 Sensei Figures - Crash Bandicoot, Dr Neo Cortex, Master King Pen, Golden Queen.
1 Imaginite Creation Crystal
Collection Poster
Sticker Sheet
Plus a level unlock (the Crash Bandicoot Skylanders figure opens the Thumpin' Wumpa Islands level)


Monday 24 October 2016

Blue Furby Connect review (age 6+) from Hasbro

A week ago we were among the very lucky people to be first to play with the new Furby Connect. An interactive and fairly cuddly toy with accompanying free app. The Furby Connect will react to your voice and physical interaction, as well as working in sync with the app. on your tablet or phone.

We were sent a purple Furby at first, but sadly that was badly damaged in the post and had the dubious honour of being possibly the first Furby Connect to go back. Furby is also available in teal, blue and pink, and our replacement Furby was blue.

Finding The Right Local Professional Easily With Bidvine (Review)

Bidvine was launched 18 months ago, and is a local services marketplace that intends to be the easiest way for you to find local professionals with the right qualifications and experience to complete the job you have.  Professionals pay a fee each time they are hired, but customers don't pay anything extra to use the service.

The site  is really simple to use, and actually allows you to find out if they have what you want before you even log in. The UK is split into local areas, with most of the UK population covered by the 75 areas currently shown.

Bidvine list absolutely tons of different professions - from Accounting to Asbestos Removal, Zumba Lessons to Mobile Petting Zoos. The autocomplete gives you a clue as to what you can choose from, although you may find there aren't actually so many of the more obscure...

For my review I chose Family Photographers in the Manchester area, adding a random postcode fairly near to me for the purpose of the review. Then I was asked a series of quick questions to find out more precisely what I wanted - indoor or outdoor? Studio or home? How many people will be in the photos? etc. These are the questions I'd have to answer each time if I was ringing round for quotes.

Saturday 22 October 2016

Hot Wheels Track Builder System - Power Booster Kit Review

The Hot Wheels Track Builder System allows children of around 5+ to create all kinds of amazing layouts for their toy cars, full of whatever stunts your imagination can think up. You can even give your cars a helping hand to really speed up, and to do just that, we've been sent the Power Booster Kit to review.

Your set is packaged in the most amazing box. It's brilliant and I was delighted when I opened it. It opens properly and is designed to be saved and reused as storage, but also adds no end to play value...


This is a fabulous multiple use of something that already exists, and encourages children to (paradoxically) think 'outside the box', and hopefully begin to create their own cardboard track accessories and challenges.

Friday 21 October 2016

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows DVD Review

Everyone's favorite pizza-loving heroes return in an epic new live action adventure Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows on Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, 4K Ultra HD, DVD and On Demand on Monday 24th October. Released by Paramount Home Media Distribution and Universal Pictures (UK) just in time for half term...

Raphael, Leonardo, Donatello, and Michelangelo are back to battle bigger, badder villains, alongside April O’Neil and a newcomer: the hockey-masked vigilante Casey Jones. The film stars plenty of familiar faces including Megan Fox, Will Arnett, Laura Linney, Stephen Amell, and Tyler Perry. The acting is good, and because of the turtles more realistic appearance, it's actually quite easy to forget you are watching 'turtles'. The personality and character are barely sidelined at all, and just as with the original cartoons, there's plenty of tongue-in-cheek humour.

Thursday 20 October 2016

October Half Term Events and Activities for Families in the Manchester (and Northwest UK) Area.

As ever I've prioritised cheapness and quality (and my personal favourites). Everything is in Manchester or within an hour's drive. There is masses to do all year round, but here are some of the special activities you can take your children to over this Autumn half term week 22-30th October...

In Manchester Centre

Manchester Museum Of Science And Industry have the 10th Manchester Science Festival running from Thursday 20 October to Sunday 30 October. Some events require booking in advance! Check out their website to book - the 10th Manchester Science Festival.

England’s largest Science Festival will be jam-packed with fun and largely free, hands-on family activities for all ages throughout October Half Term. Produced by the Museum of Science and Industry supported by Siemens and the University of Salford and featuring about a million different events (maybe) around Manchester including:

Sleep Lab – The Chronarium - which will be sited in Manchester Arndale, transforming the hectic shopping centre into a communal haven for relaxation and well-being. Lie down, rest, and relax on hanging swings and hammocks whilst partaking in an experience aimed to reset circadian rhythms for a better, more harmonious sleep.

Tuesday 18 October 2016

Decorating Your House For Halloween with Wilko

We love Halloween, so a box full of decorations from the long-standing high street and online favourite Wilko was very well received. My boys took about 5 minutes to rummage through and find out how everything worked - and I am proud to say they both jumped many times! Mission accomplished...

We were sent some of the larger decorations for the home, as well as some goodies for the boys, and every skirt wearing reveller's Halloween essential - skeleton tights!

Monday 17 October 2016

LEGO Star Wars Krennic's Imperial Shuttle Review set 75156

My 8 year old is a massive fan of Star Wars, so when he found out we'd be reviewing the LEGO star Wars Krennic's Imperial Shuttle, he practically waited by the door for the postman. Taken from the storyline of the next Star Wars movie, Rogue One, the shuttle set has 5 minifigures plus a K-2SO droid, giving a vehicle which is actually a functioning play set once built.

Krennic's Imperial Shuttle is one of the larger new Star Wars LEGO sets with 863 pieces. It also has some trickier techniques and bits where you need 3 hands, so it's recommended for age 9+.

Inside the box we have only 7 numbered bags and 1 sheet of stickers as well as the instruction booklet. Not too intimidating to newer builders.

Sunday 16 October 2016

Disney On Ice Presents Frozen, Manchester Arena 2016 Review

On Thursday we were among the crowd at the Manchester Arena for the first Manchester performance of this year's special Disney On Ice presentation, Disney On Ice Presents Frozen.

The magic for us started before the performance, as we'd been invited to a before-show meet and greet with a few of the stars...sorry for the poor photos, it was actually quite dark and I didn't have my flash on the camera! 

Anna and Elsa's costumes were just as good close up, and my 8 year old especially was delighted to meet Mickey Mouse, all ready for Winter in his snowboarding gear.

Saturday 15 October 2016

26 Month Smiles...

We've really had a heck of a month, and made some amazing smiles.

We went to Michael Rosen's installation at Z-Arts and LEGOLAND Discovery Centre. We had an 8th birthday and between them the boys lost 3 teeth. We went to the PLAY Expo and Disney On Ice and by crikey, we were even lucky enough to meet DanTDM.

We were also aware it was World Mental Health Day on 10th October. I didn't mark it on the blog, maybe another year. I did however play witness to some amazing friends and acquaintances who posted about their own battles - I salute you all. There are some fabulous posts out there, and some very brave people.

I almost feel it's too easy for me to have mental health problems. No-one expects me to be well, so I can admit it as unceremoniously as ask for a 'white coffee with none'. No-one minds if I start to cry randomly, or walk off mid-conversation. My ever-understanding friends make sure I have someone with me, because it's okay for me to be scared to go on my own. I can be snappy, tired and mardy, and I am forgiven.

Everyone asks how I am. And I don't feel I have to say 'fine'.

Friday 14 October 2016

What's So Special About Dinosaurs? Megalosaurus And Diplodocus Book Review

A while ago we were introduced to a brand new series of dinosaur books "What's So Special About...Dinosaurs?" written by Nicky Dee. The books are advised by the award-winning Palaeontologist Dean R Lomax and present interesting dinosaur facts in a really visual way. We've been sent two of their latest releases - What's So Special about Megalosaurus? and What's So Special About Diplodocus? for review.

What's So Special About Megalosaurus? is a great introduction to one of the largest middle Jurrassic period dinosaurs. The first dinosaur to be named, he was initially discovered right here in the UK, in Oxfordshire.

All of the dinosaur images are really detailed and bright, real 3D models are made to create a big double page image in the centre of each book. Throughout the dinosaur pictures stand out incredibly well against the muted backgrounds and text. It brings the dinosaurs to life, and gives them personality.

Wagamama's New Autumn Menu Vegetarian Dishes

I love Wagamama's and so do my children, and I've always appreciated the range of vegetarian options they serve. I was invited to have a taste of the new Autumn menu, and with advice from our waitress chose three of the new vegetarian courses to try...

We were first! So we got to choose where to sit, and I love the balcony area in the Manchester Trafford Centre restaurant. You can actually watch the chefs preparing your food for you...

Wednesday 12 October 2016

AirHogs Switchblade Review (from Spinmaster Toys).

The AirHogs Switchblade is very different to most of the remote control vehicles we've had here in the past. An indoor ground and air race helicopter, it's incredibly small for starters, a mere 16cm x 11cm without the spoilers and weighing under 30grams. It doesn't half have a lot of power though.

Inside the box you have the vehicle and the controller - it takes 2 minutes to open and packaging is really minimal. Perfect for Christmas morning...don't forget the batteries though - the controller takes 4 x AA batteries.

Excuse the colour differences between photos - natural light and household bulbs really affect the red that my camera captures...


Patak's Frozen Ready Meal Curries Review

For years I've used Patak's sauces as a cheaty and totally reliable method of making curries whenever I'm short on time. They have now released their own range of complete frozen curry meals, and we were sent a sample to try...

We made a night of it, and had a bit of a Halloween party, inviting along Sim and Liv from Simslife Blog, as well as a couple of our young people's friends who were hanging around the place looking hungry.

It'll come as no surprise to the parents among us, but the Chicken Korma and Chicken Tikka Masala were the definite favourites among the children. Plenty of flavour, and not too spicy. The Korma isn't overpowered by the coconut either, it has a nice full taste and smell - according to the meat-eaters.

Monday 10 October 2016

Meccano 25 4X4 Off-Road Truck Review (age 9+)

We've been sent the Meccano 25 4X4 Off-Road Truck to review. Recommended for age 9+, we've all had a look and a play with this set, and although my 8 year old started the build, it was mainly put together (with relish) by his very much grown up Dad.

Meccano 25 Maker System sets are definitely not starter sets. Recommended fior age 9+, they are really best for children who have some experience of building models (such as Meccano) using tools, and can use their learned skills as well as their brains to put the models together.

Inside the box we have all 443 metal and plastic pieces, and rubber tyres. There's actually quite a lot of plastic involved, but it's not a bad thing as it's really strong and allows for some shaping and fine cog work that would be very expensive to reproduce in metal, and would raise the cost of the set quite considerably.

Friday 7 October 2016

Howard Lovecraft And The Frozen Kingdom DVD Review And Giveaway

Released earlier this week by Lionsgate Home Entertainment, just in time for Halloween, is the monster-filled movie for children of school age, Howard Lovecraft And The Frozen Kingdom. Based on the 2009 graphic novel of the same name, and inspired by the writing of the American author H. P. Lovecraft, this is a teeny bit creepy and there is a maybe a little peril...

The movie has a great voice cast including Ron Perlman and Christopher Plummer, and Doug Bradley - who the adults watching may recognise as the far more grown up Pinhead from Hellraiser!

In the story Howard visits his sick father in hospital, and his Dad tells Howard to destroy a book that "I should never have written". When he gets home Howard finds the book, and can't help but read, accidentally opening a portal to another world, the Frozen Kingdom. There are all kinds of mysterious creatures there, including a creature who looks like a cross between a bat and an octopus - Spot.

Thursday 6 October 2016

A Halloween Party With Poundworld!

A Halloween party at the beginning of October might seem a bit strange, but heck it was fun! We were given a budget by Poundworld to buy all the necessary equipment and some food and drink to keep our guests happy....well, happy in a Halloween way....

The fun started way before the party - which child wouldn't want to be able to choose a whole £30 worth of goodies from the Halloween aisle in Poundworld! You simply can't carry it all!

The boys had a brilliant time choosing, and we could really go a bit wild. Best half hour I've spent in ages. Holographic glasses were first in the basket, followed by a rubber hand...naturally...

Wednesday 5 October 2016

Sainsburys Tu Clothing School Uniform Review

It's often the case in stores that they only have a good supply of school uniform during the big Summer school holidays. The problem with this is that children don't stop growing after August, and they fall over and tear their trouser legs or draw all over themselves with whiteboard marker all year round.

School uniform from Tu Clothing at Sainsburys is available all year round, and if they don't have your size or colour in stock at your local store, or your kids don't fancy going on an exhilarating school shopping trip, you can order whatever you want online.

We've been sent a few items to try. My children's uniform is a pretty straighforward white polo shirt and black trousers, and we've also been sent some plain white t-shirts for P.E.

Pirate Ship Sticker Book Review from Carlton Kids

Released this week is the Pirate Ship Sticker Book. Written by Jim Pipe and Claire Sipi, and illustrated by Maria Taylor, it has all you could ever need to know about pirate life in the 18th century, with added stickers!

Recommended for children aged around 6+, the 48 page paperback book takes you on a trip aboard The Scurvy Dog with Captain Skull and his pirate crew. Your child can read all about what life was like for those on the ship, above and below decks. No gruesome detail is spared, and there are stickers to use to complete the images.

Tuesday 4 October 2016

Crazy Claw Game Review and Giveaway from Drumond Park (2 Winners).

Our latest review and giveaway is for one of our favourite games companies, Drumond Park. Their brand new game Crazy Claw is definitely one of the most active games you'll play. Suitable for 2-4 players aged 5+, this type of frantic game with great props is exactly what will delight most children.

Inside the box is everything you will need, including the actual Crazy Claw 'arcade machine' set up, 12 balls with press-out cardboard prizes and a fantastic grabber, plus instructions.