Tuesday 29 January 2019

Jumbo Games #NationalPuzzleDay Review and Giveaways!! (sponsored article)

Jumbo Games are a brand I've worked with several times in the past and they are the experts at jigsaw puzzles. They have a huge range including puzzles for people of all ages and abilities, including their fabulously popular Wasgij Puzzles, which offer a whole new level of puzzling...

I was sent a big bundle of puzzles to take a look at, including some of the Wasgij Puzzles. If you like puzzles and have never heard of Wasgij then you will be in for a treat. These are unlike any other jigsaw puzzles in that you aren't given the solution, you need to work it out yourself.

On the box are images and characters which portray a story or scenario and you have to use logic and imagination to work out how to complete the puzzle. These have humorous and modern cartoon illustrations and offer a real challenge. I'll be giving away 3 bundles of puzzles including some Wasgij and I'm testing a mini 54 piece puzzle this morning myself...

Saturday 26 January 2019

Reviews Revisited 2013-2018... Was it really any good? Inc. Epson, B&B, Sausage, Drones

Sometimes something really needs a good looking at before you can say how good it was, so I often think it'd be more sensible to come back to it. Sometimes we review things which prove to be worth their weight in gold.

Reviews Revisited is a series of posts I'll do every couple of weeks to look at the best things we reviewed since the blog started back in 2012... Here's a look back at things we reviewed in the second half of January...

In 2013 when the blog started I was already a regular reviewer for Orchard Toys, so I have them to thank for this whole thing really. I reviewed a handful of games and puzzles for them in January 2013, including What A Performance, which is a brilliant game for any family with children aged around 5-10 and still one of their most popular.

Wednesday 23 January 2019

Activities For Families in Manchester and the NW UK - Spring and Feb Half Term

It barely seems like moments since the Christmas round up, but February half term will be here before you know it, so here is my Spring round up for families of all ages in the North West UK. It's theatre heavy mainly because it's not the weather for spending hours outdoors at the moment!

Monday 21 January 2019

Paperscapes: The Amazing World Of Animals Book Review/Giveaway (Sent by Carlton Books)

This February Carlton Books release a new range of Paperscapes nature books which have press-out pieces to create a 'parade'. They offered to send one for review and my 10 year old chose The Amazing World Of Animals by Moira Butterfield...

Book Cover Paperscapes The Amazing World Of Animals

This is a book which can be enjoyed by a really wide age group. The text is suitable for independent readers aged around 7+, but it is presented in short text boxes and there are also a list of facts for each animal, so even younger readers can pick out salient points. The facts are fascinating and I've learned loads. The writing isn't condescending at all, so a 12 year old or older will also enjoy this book.

inside page showing poison dart frog

Reviews Revisited 2013-2018... Was it really any good?

I try to be honest in reviews, but quite often what I'm reviewing needs a really good looking at before I can truly judge it, so I often think it'd be more sensible to come back to it. Sometimes we review things which prove invaluable or 5 years down the line are still just as fabulous.

This is the first in a regular series where I'll feature some of the best products we've reviewed since the beginning of the blog... Here's a look back at things we reviewed in the the first half of January...

The first ever published review on the blog back in 2013 was one I did for Izziwizzikids, which was a Facebook page which held discussion evenings on play. We focused on slow play, which nowadays would cover most STEM toys. It was LEGO, the Goblin King Battle set 70910. Obviously we still have it, although the Goblin has a loose hand nowadays...

In January 2016 I reviewed two really great things which have stayed with me ever since. Room the movie, an incredibly powerful film loosely based on real events, in which a young girl is kidnapped and held in a single room until she escapes many years later. Brilliant acting by Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay, lots of crying and a true sense that as long as we don't give up, we can win.

Thursday 17 January 2019

10 Of The Best Construction Toys For Future Engineers #YearOfEngineering

It doesn't take much to spot that here at The Brick Castle we are huge fans of construction toys and we like to try everything. Construction is brilliant for encouraging imagination and confidence. It develops problem-solving skills, hand-eye coordination. finger strength and it's a brilliant way to learn some of the skills needed to become an Engineer.

2019 has been labelled as the Year Of Engineering and it's about time because the other STEM subjects (science, technology and maths) get a much better press. What we don't always realise though, is just how much relies on engineers. They are the people who decide what we can safely and sensibly build or make, what quantities of materials we'll need, how we should start and how to test the end result.

The people who built the railways were engineers, the people who designed and built your car are engineers. Your Nan was an engineer when she made up her own recipe for biscuits. We really need engineers....

Here, in no order at all, are 10 of my family's favourite construction toys to support Engineering Skills and STEM Education...

Wednesday 16 January 2019

Treads Boys Black School Shoes 1 Year Guarantee Put To The Test

I promised I'd be back and I am! Treads are a relatively new company who make their children's school shoes as durable as possible. They're so sure your child won't go through the toes or scrape through the leather that they offer a 1 year guarantee. My boys Treads shoes still fit and they are now 9 months old... so what do they look like now?

Underside view of brand new shoe with rubber moulded sole

To refresh your memory, Treads make shoes in sizes from 12 1/2 to 'big foot ' 11, so fit most junior/Key Stage 2 children or older. This is what the Treads school shoes looked like when I first reviewed them and they were brand new - you can find my initial thoughts and an explanation of some of the technology in my Treads School Shoes Review.

My youngest son chose a quite traditional style with an easy to use 'hook and loop' Velco-type fastening.

Standard new black 'velcro' fastening school shoes in box

Tuesday 15 January 2019

January #TBCSmiles

It's January, yeeay! All of my family are finally back at school and work - we are better! Yeeay! I've taken it easy getting back to writing, partly because I was so blooming tired after the flu, partly because my kids were off school, and partly because it made me too ill to take anything for my high blood pressure for 2 weeks, so my eyesight has suffered. The ripple effect is massive.

We are now playing catch up with just about everything. The boxes from all the deliveries before Christmas still fill my hallway and we owe one of the big kids their main Christmas present. The van didn't go to the garage and is now off-the-road waiting for it's brakes to be fixed. We still have Christmas goodies that need to be eaten and best before dates are getting incredibly close. As a bonus the LEGO Winter Village is still all out, something none of us are actually upset about (it definitely doesn't count as a Christmas decoration really).... and we are all well and that's the main thing.

Disappointingly we've had no snow to fill this month's photos. It's cold and slippy, but it forces changes to mundane routine and gets everyone's adrenaline pumping. It excites us and as nature shows it's power, it takes our mind off everything smaller. Instead the weather has reflected the mood of the nation in many ways. Dismal, poor and a bit blustery at times. Boring.

Wednesday 9 January 2019

The Top 7 Tag: 2018/2019

2019 is here with a bit of a blur for me. I seem to have fallen into it rather than the usual meandering approach through Christmas, possibly because I've slept more in the last 3 weeks than I did in the previous 3 months. Back to Earth with a bang, and a little reflection on the year just gone.

I've been invited to join in with the Top 7 tag by Laura from Tired Mummy Of Two. It was started by One Frazzled Mum and asks me to look back at 2018. To share my favourite 7 blog posts, 7 things I loved about 2018 and 7 things I'm looking forward to in 2019. Then I get to tag 7 other bloggers to take part.

Monday 7 January 2019

Party Season Women's Clothes with Fashion World

Fashion World is an online clothing store which promises great prices, huge range and good quality clothes.  Before Christmas they sent me some lovely items which I was really excited about wearing - then I got flu. My clothes remained in their bags while I was ill, all I wore for 2 weeks over Christmas was pyjamas.

Finally I am almost human again, although running a cracking temperature and a bit red-faced still, but dressing up makes anyone smile. On Sunday (which also happened to be 12th night) my partner and my 10 year old took some photos of me in my new outfits. Please excuse the fluffy socks, that didn't occur to me until we'd taken half the photos, and my male family members clearly aren't bothered by labels or hanger straps!