Saturday 30 March 2019

3 Years With Gary The Cat - and still not a crazy cat lady!

Astoundingly it's been 3 years since we won the world's most expensive free cat. Well, 3 years and 2 months, I'm a bit late on this post. I'm all over this cat thing now though. Ask me anything about cats and I can make up an answer that sounds plausible.

I know people on the internet like cats, so you may not have heard of Gary before, you might just have clicked on because there was a cat picture. Here's Gary's backstory and it's really because of the internet that he's here. He also wouldn't be here if he hadn't turned up at the home of someone who is ridiculously soft, and despite a previous loathing of cats, took him in.

Without the internet we wouldn't have known that there was a cure (scalpel) for Gary's sensitive genetic ailment (very very tiny penis) and it would have been curtains. Since his operation Gary's health has been brilliant and he can pee whenever he wants, thankfully usually outside or occasionally still in the bath. Annoyingly he's stopped going to the toilet in the toilet, although it was always a bit disturbing to walk in on him - especially if he was reading the paper.

Thursday 28 March 2019

The Clock People:Clockwork Chronicles by Mark Roland Langdale Young Fiction review (Sent by Matador Press).

The Clock People: Clockwork Chronicles is Mark Roland Langdale's 5th book. A children's fantasy story written in a very distinctive style, which makes you feel that you are being told the story by an elderly and eccentric narrator.

The book centres on The Clock People. They aren't entirely sure who they are, but stories and legends tell of giants living in a wider world beyond their imagining, and small people who live inside clocks.

Monday 25 March 2019

Easter Egg Hunting with Transformers BotBots Age 5+ (Sent by Hasbro for review)

This Easter why not ease off the sugar and give your children something that'll last a little bit longer. We always try to find small toys to go with the chocolate eggs for our Easter Egg Hunt and the BotBots that we've been sent to review by Hasbro are perfect.

Twerple Burple, who is disguised as a soft drink Transformers Bot Bots review

These are 'Blind bag' collectible miniature transforming rubber robots, which come in different tribes for you to collect and battle with...

Transformers Bot Bots review single pack blister packaging

Thursday 21 March 2019

Chill Factorᵉ Beginner Ski Lessons Review - Can You Learn To Ski In A Day? (#Ad)

If you haven't heard of Chill Factorᵉ, it's a massive indoor ski slope and Snow Park near to the Trafford Centre and just off the M60 Manchester ring road. This Spring they have a new campaign 'Fresh' and want to encourage people to learn a brand new skill. It just so happens my partner and 9 and 10 year old boys have never been on skis before, and Chill Factorᵉ reckon they can teach just about anyone to ski with their beginner ski lessons...

The course includes 6 hours tuition plus breaks. If you are over 10 years old then you can complete the course in one long day, but our youngest is only just 9, so we signed them up for the Ski Beginner 2 Day Course.

Our sessions were over two evenings from 6pm-10pm, which was a little late for the boys, but these are the latest sessions offered. Mornings, afternoons and daytimes are also available. I didn't join in on the slope, but it meant I could enjoy the comfort of the cafe (with free guest wi-fi) and keep an eye out from a distance.

Beginner Ski Lessons at Chill Factorᵉ must be booked in advance and remember to add clothing hire if you will need it.

Wednesday 20 March 2019

Philly & Friends: Who Do I See In The Mirror? Children's Book Review and Giveaway (18m+) (Sent for review).

The latest book we've been sent to review is really a picture book and is suitable for reading together from 18 months to around 7 years or older. Philly & Friends: Who Do I See In The Mirror? is the debut book by author and Mum Vese Aghoghovbia Aladewolu and is beautifully illustrated by Irene Omiunu.

I don't usually review books which are a bit young for my children, but on this occasion I've made an exception because not only am I friends with the PR, but as soon as I heard the content, I thought it sounded like exactly what youngsters in today's world need...

Who Do I See In The Mirror? follows a young girl doing everyday activities. As she goes through her day, she notices parts of herself and comments on them. Everything is positive, "I love my full lips", " I love my curly hair". She knows that she is also amazing inside her heart and mind, and she can see just how beautiful she really is.

Tuesday 19 March 2019

Easter entertainment for families in Manchester and the North West UK

It's Easter and the weather is likely to be predictably unpredictable. Inside or out, here are some of the things you could be getting up to in Manchester, Liverpool and the rest of the North West UK during March, April and May - for families with children of all ages...

If you have anything suitable you wish to add, please send over the listing plus a photo to
It does not have to be huge, expensive, glamorous, famous or theatre - it can be any public event or activity for families in the North West over the Easter period. We especially like to add FREE and low cost events, such as those you will find at your local libraries and museums.

Monday 18 March 2019

Choose Your Own Adventure House Of Danger Family Card Game Review Age 10+ (Sent by Asmodee).

Asmodee and the Blogger Boardgame Club have sent us House Of Danger to review this month. A really brilliant choose-your-own-adventure card game, suitable for 1 or more players aged 10+. All players work cooperatively, taking the role of a troubled amateur detective and psychic investigator. You've been having nightmares and believe the visions you see really mean something. It's the players job to find out what the cause of your nightmares is and what the visions mean...

This is a compact and neatly boxed game, which is entirely made from printed card and very Earth-friendly. You can start to play through the first mini-chapter immediately using the quick start guide, which worked very well for us. We were instantly hooked!

Sunday 17 March 2019

Reviews Revisited March 2013-2018 2/2 Sorgenfresser, BioShock, Shiny Hair, Raptors and Star Wars...

I get a lot of pleasure from looking back at a review item later on and knowing I was right with my initial opinion. Some things stand out as being great, while others not so much. Here's a look back at some of the best or most reliable things we have looked at over the past 5 years....

These items we reviewed in the the second half of March 2013-2018...

Biff the Sorgenfresser or Worry Eater was a big hit here from the day he arrived in 2013, although to my knowledge my children have never actually posted any messages into his mouth. These were new and exciting 6 years ago and I'm delighted to say that they are incredibly popular now, used in schools, homes and other venues UK wide. He still looks as good as new, yet he's been a constant on someone's bed for 5 years, been fed a multitude of sticky things and been washed a few times. Nice one Biff...

Friday 15 March 2019

6000 Smiles... #TBCSmiles - 55 Months.

It's that time of the month again and I think most of us in the UK can just about manage a smile, in spite of the weather, Brexit and the whole state of the UK. Politics eh, maybe we should just focus on the weather - and the smiles!

We've reached a really special milestone today and I'd like to thank every person who has ever added the hashtag #TBCSmiles to a photo. The hashtag has been going for a while now and when I started I never anticipated I'd ever be able to say we'd reached 6000 of your grins, laughter and happy moments, but as I looked this morning, that's where we are! It's got to be one of the best and happiest hashtag collections on Instagram and it really does make my face sore from grinning.

Thank you to all of you!

Monday 11 March 2019

Reviews Revisited March 2013-2018 1/2 inc. LEGO storage, robotic balls, bangs and Yoxo

It's often a great idea to come back to a review item later on for a really informed opinion. You're unlikely to find anything we bored of quickly here, or anything which broke 3 minutes after the review went live, because I'd be a fool to remind you about it, but you will find some of the true gems we have looked at over the past 5 years....

Here's a look back at things we reviewed in the the first half of March 2013-2018...

In March 2014 The LEGO Movie was the biggest hit in the cinemas and in our house. Everything was awesome and that included the LEGO Storage Blocks, Lunchbox and flask we were sent by local shop and online retailer Store. Still in use, as good as they were 5 years ago and in fact our collection of LEGO Storage Boxes has even grown since then (please excuse the photo quality, it was the olden days)...

Thursday 7 March 2019

Ultimate Minecraft Master Builder Book Review & Giveaway (Sent by Carlton Kids Books).

Our latest book review for Carlton Kids Books is the Ultimate Minecraft Master Builder. This is a mighty book with 320 pages detailing 30 awesome builds that you can create within Minecraft. Suitable for anyone who plays, there are also hundreds of tips and examples of additions to builds that you can try. Plenty of inspiration whatever your level...

The contents pages immediately tell you there's a lot in this book, and everything is split into different sections - Ride The Waves, Awesome Asia, Sky's The Limit etc. There's a 'welcome to Minecraft' section and then lots of explanation and hints for the reader, to give them a good grounding before they start.

Ultimate Minecraft Master Builder hints tips tricks

Wednesday 6 March 2019

Nerf Rukkus ICS-8 Nerf N-Strike Elite Review (Age 8+) Sent by Hasbro

It's Spring and the new Nerf are out! Hasbro have sent us their latest Nerf Rukkus ICS-8 Nerf N-Strike Elite blaster for review and we made the most of it by organising a Nerf War at Heaton Park with one of our favourite local families - Jane and the gang from Hodgepodgedays.

Because we've only got 2 Nerf Rukkus ICS-8 Nerf N-Strike Elite blasters and 7 people, we took other Nerf blasters for support - and fairness...

Nerf Rukkus ICS-8 Nerf N-Strike Elite from Hasbro in box

This is a mid-sized manually powered pump action blaster which has an integrated cartridge and is built for accuracy. Packaging is the now standard minimal with hardly any plastic at all - I love this Earth-friendly boxing and it's easy to get into. No batteries and 8 Nerf Elite darts are included, so you are ready to go immediately. Christmas morning-friendly.

Monday 4 March 2019

Goodbye to the original Twisted Firestarter...

I was gutted when I heard this morning that Keith Flint had died. He was 2 years older than me. Something I loved to remind our big kids when they were teenage rebels listening to The Prodigy in their bedrooms.

I really hoped that we'd hear his previous excesses had taken their toll on his body and he'd quietly suffered a heart attack or other organ failure in his sleep. I hoped he'd worn himself out prematurely but at least he'd had fun doing it.

The news that he'd taken his own life made me very sad.

I used to feel so disappointed when a celebrity died from suicide. Celebrities have all of those young people hanging onto their words. Vulnerable, confused and impressionable youngsters who will be devastated to hear that they've lost a hero. Now I know there's no point in disappointment, it changes nothing and it's not the right emotion. A person dies from suicide just as surely as they die from cancer. They don't have a choice at the end, because they don't see any possible way forward. It isn't about giving up. They lose the fight.

Saturday 2 March 2019

Digital Kids Show 2018 ~ Review Visit

Last November we were invited back as guests to review the Digital Kids Show at Manchester Central. We adore it and I've used loads of information and photos from our visit in all kinds of posts since. Full of everything our family love, this really is a fantastic day out for children who are into all things digital.

Two boys arriving at Digital KIds show and standing next to huge sign

We arrived 5 minutes after opening, so were able to get some photos of the hall before other people's children were everywhere. By 11.30am it was full, but never packed, and it felt very safe to let our almost 9 and 10 year old boys wander ahead or go and play while we sat nearby with a coffee.

collage showing Ice rink, superhero area, huge size of Manchester Central, dinosaur world

Arriving early meant we got to play in the amazingly lit dinosaur kingdom without anyone else, and the boys could have been first to be superheroes, but said it was their day off. The ice rink was comfortably busy right from the start though.

Friday 1 March 2019

Legend Of The Lost by Ian P Buckingham Young Fiction Review Age 9+ ( Sent by Book Guild)

Legend Of The Lost is Ian P Buckingham's debut children's book and it's a fantasy adventure story which is suitable for confident young readers aged around 9+ to teen. Set in a crossover world which is part Cornwall, part enchanted forest and part seashore, it pulls together all kinds of mystical folk in a way makes them seem highly likely to actually exist.

The book focusses on two families. One family live in local woodland and the others are staying at their holiday cottage. The holidaymakers discover a beautiful Moonstone and once it's no longer hidden they are thrown into a world of magic and mystery, with a more than a little mild peril.

Legend Of The Lost by Ian P Buckingham Young Fiction book cover with leaf design

The writing style is clear and easy enough for a 9 year old, but the first 1/3 of the book introduces a lot of new characters and darts to and fro between them, so to follow the events as they unfold, you need to be a fairly confident reader. Once the two families are established, as well as the friends and cohort they team up with, the real story flows well and has an increasing pace as everything, or everyone, begins to come closer together.