Monday 30 January 2017

A day in London with the LEGO Batman Movie and Tartan Batman.

On Saturday we went to all the way to London to go to the cinema. It was a very early start, and a long way to go for a movie, but when you consider that we'd been invited by Warner Bros to a preview screening of the LEGO Batman movie in Leicester Square, it was well worth the effort...

A day in London with the LEGO Batman Movie and Tartan Batman.

We were up at 4.45am - and out of the house by 5.20am to catch our wasn't the best part of the day, they lied.

Sunday 29 January 2017

Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes DVD Review and Giveaway

The latest release from Entertainment One is Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes. A two-part animated movie based on the classic collection of stories by Roald Dahl, and a huge hit at Christmas on TV, Revolting Rhymes comes to DVD on 6th February, and is available now on Digital Download.

The film has a warm and familiar style, as the animation is by Magic Light Pictures, the team behind award-winning films The Gruffalo and Stick Man. There is the usual light-hearted humour, and fantastic expression on the faces of the characters.

The British cast is great (everyone loves Roald Dahl) and includes my 8 year old son's favourite current children's author David Walliams, as well as Tamsin Grieg, Rob Brydon, Dominic West and others.

Friday 27 January 2017

Bistrot Pierre, Altrincham Restaurant Review

Last week my partner and I didn't only drive down Altrincham once, we actually went twice. The first visit was a rare evening without any of our children, to review the newly opened Bistrot Pierre French Restaurant, right in the town centre.

From the outside very modern, but inside completely different, with warm, dimmed lighting and wooden fixtures, tables and chairs. It has a cosy feel, and a gorgeous grand staircase right in the centre. The passageway leading to the toilets only adds to the illusion that you are in a big old house somewhere.

Thursday 26 January 2017

Ayuda House B&B, Cheshire Review: Hidden Gem Award Winner 2016

Ayuda House B&B, in Bowden near Altrincham, Cheshire is the winner of the Hidden Gem North West award from eviivo - and as soon as you arrive at this huge family home tucked away on a quiet cul-de-sac corner, you know that description is perfect.

Ayuda means 'Helpful', and I honestly believe that is the owner Melinda's raison d'etre. Before we even set off, we'd been warned via text message where roadworks were so that we could avoid a 20 minute detour, and offered a sandwich when we arrived. It wasn't far for us, so not necessary. Ayuda house is incredibly easy to find, 4 miles from Manchester Airport and 10 miles from Manchester city centre.

Melinda and her partner Derek were ready to greet us, and spoke to the children as well as the adults - something I'm always impressed with. The boys were anxious to investigate, so we were shown the downstairs shared areas.

Wednesday 25 January 2017

An emotionally responsive trip around the world - in the Arndale Centre

Yesterday I went over to The Arndale Centre in Manchester - not to shop, but instead to have my brain waves read by some of the latest technology. It's not the sort of thing that usually happens to me on any given Tuesday, but it was fascinating and I highly recommend it.

Explore, the Small Group Adventure Holiday company, had set up their unique #explorethemoment experiment – the first of its kind ever to take place in the UK - to give some holiday inspiration to members of the public. I felt I had only one place in the world on my bucket list, so inspiration could only be a good thing..

Tuesday 24 January 2017

Danny Dingle's Fantastic Finds: The Metal-Mobile (7+ Book Review)

Danny Dingle's Fantastic Finds: The Metal-Mobile is the first in a series of books written by Angie Lake and illustrated by Suruchi Sati and Shanith MM, and published by Sweet Cherry Publishing. Aimed at independent readers aged around 7-8+, it is very quirky, and a great read for any child who is just becoming confident reading alone.

Our hero Danny (aka Experimental Face) intends to be the super secret spy assistant to the world's best superhero, Metal Face, when he grows up. Metal Face doesn't yet exist, so Danny and his mate Percy spend their time preparing by conducting scientific experiments... like seeing how loud a fart is if you are sitting on concrete, or how to save an egg from smashing when it's launched into the air.

Monday 23 January 2017

Write Size Pencils - the right size for children's hands.

Write Size are a range of differently sized children's pencils designed especially to help with handwriting. There are 3 sizes, each with specific design features to help younger children learn to write neatly without the frustrations standard pencils can pose.

I first saw Write Size Pencils at Blog On September, and I was really interested. Having watched and helped all of our children learn to write, we've had many struggles with grip, or pencils with lead that snaps every 15 seconds. I was really intrigued to see how Write Size were different, and how that works in reality.

Tuesday 17 January 2017

Beating Headlice Naturally - Puressentiel Review

The kids have been back at school for 1 week and already one of mine has brought home some visitors. Not the kind of guests who eat all your food and don't put the loo seat down, these are the kind who turn up uninvited and make you itch...

Head lice and nits are a constant battle for parents in most parts of the UK, it's only in remote areas you are likely to escape. Before you feel disgusted, just bear in mind that a child has to have friends in order to catch head lice. They pretty much need to have head to head contact, so the little blighters can walk from one person to another. Your child is spending time playing with other children, so it isn't all bad.

I've talked extensively about headlice in an awesome post I wrote a couple of years ago, with video and photos. If you are new to headlice and nits, or there's anything you are unsure of - go check it out. Everything You Need To Know About Headlice.

Monday 16 January 2017

Just So Festival August 18th to 20th 2017

I am delighted to say that we have the opportunity to return to the Just So Family Arts Festival again in August this year, and this time we should be camping! Yeeay! Just So is produced by Wild Rumpus, and provides an imaginative outdoor adventure that is truly like no other.

Just So Festival August 18th to 20th 2017

We've been twice now, and had the most amazing time. I've previously written a 2015 Just So Festival Review and  2016 Just So Festival Review, as well as a special post for the LEGO Scooby Doo Mystery Machine On Tour.

This year Just So Festival will take over it's usual site at the gorgeous Rode Hall Estate in Cheshire from 18th-20th August. There is a real emphasis on creating your own fun out of seeming very little, and all of the arts are celebrated.

Sunday 15 January 2017

Smiles....29 months later...

 Doesn't the living room look huge without the Christmas tree....said everyone each January...

So Christmas happened, and for us it was good. Lots of relaxed time, nice food and family movies. There may also have been a little LEGO. We spent the New Year with some great friends, and even the return to 'normality' was a bit less stressed because my children only went back to school this week.

2 weeks with our 19 year old home from University really was a pleasure (it's amazing how much you miss them when they move away) and the whole family were ALL able to enjoy Christmas Dinner together as we always have, on Christmas Eve night. It was a very special meal.

It was sadly also patently obvious we had an empty chair at the table, and that night a space in the room where someone else could place their stocking... Christmas makes it very easy to miss those who aren't there.

January is very hard for a lot of people, and a few of my own friends and family have already stumbled. It's dismal and dark and cold, and we have no mid-Winter Festivals to look forward to, only the long stretch towards Summer and sunlight. Head down, strap on the fin and just keep swimming is a great short-term solution, but it's exhausting and brooding, and it means we miss what is happening around us.

It might seem at first backward, but I hope we all get some snow. You can't deny the calming beauty. Crisp fresh air and a clean slate to the world. It blows away the cobwebs, makes you talk to your neighbours, and gives everyone some vitamin D - intentionally or not. It still works even when you are de-icing your car or clearing the driveway... it still breaks through the gloom. It forces change, it makes us wake up, and even if it gives us something to moan about, judging by Facebook, that alone makes a lot of people very happy.

Thursday 12 January 2017

One Third Stories Review - Learning Languages Through Storybooks.

It's a lovely day when I'm sent something that I liked the sound of, and it far surpasses my expectations. One Third Stories have really achieved that. Their ideal is that every child should have the chance to be bilingual - they want to start a language learning revolution through stories - and their first books are available now. We've been sent the French Language Learning Bundle to review.

I have reviewed children's books now for several years and I was introduced to One Third Stories at a very early stage when they launched on Kickstarter. I liked the sound of it so much that I agreed to promote it - and I'm very pleased I did. The finished product is gorgeous, and it really works!

The French Lanuage Learning Bundle we've been contains a Story Book (with excellent illustrations by Hannah Hutchings), Activity Book (in 4 languages), sheets of double-sided press-out Flash Cards (one side English) and a French Fact File.

Wednesday 11 January 2017

Geronimo Children's Festival 2017 Line Up!

We're big fans of children's festivals, and this year we'll be going to Arley Hall in Cheshire from 27th-29th May to review the 2017 Geronimo Festival. This is a brand new location for the festival, which hosts over 130 fun filled activities for families with children under 13, split over ten zones.

The Main Stage at Geronimo boasts shows from some of the biggest children's TV celebrities - including Andy Day, Katie Ashworth, Alex Winters, Luke And Emma, Sohan and more. 

For the first time glamping and camping facilities will be available at the event, and Geronimo will run over three days instead of two - and just for the next couple of weeks Tier 1 Early Bird Tickets are only £19.50 per person Sat or Sun : £16.50 Mon : £37.50 2 Days with camping : £50 3 Days with camping.

Tuesday 10 January 2017

A trip to London With Anki Overdrive and LEGO Lester!

Towards the end of November we were invited by Anki Overdrive to go down to London and have a bit of fun at their Christmas Party. We love the Anki Overdrive, it's great all-round entertainment here, so how could we refuse?

Anki had done some magic, because they'd managed to set up 4 different playable tracks on 3 floors of The Driver - an impressive feat when you remember the cars are robotic and controlled by bluetooth connections. We've reviewed the Anki Family Bundle previously, and regularly play 4-player, but I'm still really impressed they could maintain connection despite the building being so busy.

Sunday 8 January 2017

Building the LEGO 12 days of Christmas

If you follow me on Social Media then hopefully you caught my #LEGO12DaysOfChristmas photos. I built each of the LEGO 24in1 Advent Calendar models during advent, and at the end a friend suggested I try the 12 Days Of Christmas. I could see it was a challenge that was ever increasing in work and possibly difficulty, but it was such a good challenge that I had to at least start...

Building the LEGO 12 days of Christmas

Day 1 was easy enough. A Partridge In A Pear Tree. Believe me, by day 4, I knew a lot more about birds than I did to start with...

Friday 6 January 2017

Eat Fresh - From Farm To Fork in 72 Hours with Harvester.

The way to get best enjoyment and best nutritional value from your fresh fruit and vegetables is to eat them as quickly as you can after picking. Vitamins and other nutrients start to break down, as do sugars, from the second the crop leaves the plant.

I learned a lot about fruit and vegetables by growing my own, which I could pick and eat sometimes within half an hour. The crisp sweetness of fresh picked carrots, lettuce, sweetcorn and apples really bears no relationship to the soggy, tired produce that has travelled the world and then been in your fridge drawer since last Thursday.

Harvester might not be able to manage an hour, but they have teamed up with suppliers Fresh Direct to ensure customers are 'never more than a day away from a lorryload of freshness'. Fresh deliveries of produce 3 times a week mean nothing has chance to become tired, and should reduce some of the waste from overstocking.

Tuesday 3 January 2017

Goodbye 2016...

Another year over and sadly I won't really miss that one either.

2016 was the year the world turned inside out. We prematurely lost David Bowie to Cancer on January 10th and, as predicted, the fabric of the universe silently and steadily began to unravel.

While the over 25's were still in shock, Cancer came for Alan Rickman, Hogwart's Professor Snape, so that the under 25's could also wander around stunned and at a loss. Just in case any UK demographic felt left out, before January was ended, long-standing Radio DJ and presenter of Children in Need for 36 years, Sir Terry Wogan was also taken. And it all pretty much carried on that way all year...