Friday, 24 May 2019

Truth Bombs Party Game Review (Age 14+) Sent by Big Potato Games

My entire household love Big Potato Games. They make and distribute slightly more grown up games, with an element of adult humour and understanding that makes them ideal for teenagers and young people, or for playing together with your older children. We've been sent Dan and Phil's Truth Bombs to review. A 14+ rated game for 4-8 players which is incredibly easy to play straight out of the box and it's a massive hit here.

Truth Bombs Party Game Review front of box with colourful explosion

Inside the box you have everything you need to play: 70 double-sided Question Cards, 7 Coloured Card Mats, 160 'Target' (or Answer) Sheets, 8 Pencils, A Scorepad and the very short Rules.

Truth Bombs Game box contents including rules, target sheets etc as listed

The double-sided Question Cards have print repeated upside down at the opposite end - like a playing card, you can read from either side of the table. This stops everyone constantly picking them up to read them. Genius move.

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Reviews Revisited April 2013-2018 - including Handheld Gtech, 1 Year School Shoes, Games, Digital Kids and Ninjas

I'm a bit late with my Reviews Revisited posts for April - naively I assumed my operation and recovery would go swimmingly and I didn't get them written in advance - there's a lesson there...

Here is a look back at items we've reviewed during April since the blog started in 2013. The cream of the crop, the things I've loved and the items that simply turned out to be so much better than I ever imagined. I'm not including the turkeys because who needs reminding about something that wasn't as good as expected or broke 3 weeks later...


Back in 2013 I reviewed one of my own personal dream toys. I was given a hefty discount in return for a review, but I'd have done one anyway because the Wonderworld Eco-House is still one of my favourite toys ever.


It's had many, many hours of play and aside from a couple of repairs to the water butt and windmill, it's pristine. One for my Grandchildren.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Blue Lagoon Family Game Review (age 8+) Sent by Asmodee.

This month's review for Asmodee's Blogger Boardgame Club is the gorgeous Blue Lagoon. We were sent this family strategy game a few weeks ago, so we were able to play with one of the big kids who was home for Easter. Suitable for 2 to 4 players aged 8+, the aim of the game is to spread out and colonise as much of the board as possible and then collect the resources necessary to keep your population happy.

Blue Lagoon Family Game Review box front with pacific style drawing and wooden longboat with native people smiling

Inside the box are lot of different elements, including 1 board, 4x5 wooden 'villages', 32 wooden resources, 4 x 30 settlers tokens, score pad, instructions and a little drawstring cloth bag for storage of resources.

What is in the box for Blue Lagoon game tokens models cloth bag

This is a gorgeous game and it feels lovely to play with. The resources are wooden shapes that are not entirely obvious at first, but that's half the fun. Left to right: Coconuts (food), Precious Stones (money), Water (H2O), Statuettes (religious icons) and Bamboo (shelter).

Monday, 20 May 2019

Amazing Pets & How To Keep Them Book Review And Giveaway (Sent by Wild Nature Press)

Wild Nature Press have two excellent book releases for children this spring and they've sent us a copy of each for review, plus I'll be giving away a copy to one of my readers. Amazing Pets & How To Keep Them is a beautiful hardback large scale book written by Stewart McPherson, and crammed with information and full colour images.

Perfect for any young nature lover, Amazing Pets lets you explore some of the more exotic and usual small creatures you can keep in your own home, sensibly and ethically, and gives you an idea of just what you'd need to look after them...

Amazing Pets & How To Keep Them Book cover with images of creatures

Recommended for readers aged around 8-12, Amazing Pets is split into sections, starting with 'Golden Rules'. This is a serious book for people who care about creatures and it's right that it starts with some simple rules to prevent anticipated errors which might end very badly.

Amazing Pets and how to keep them golden rules example page

RHS Spectacular Plants & How To Grow Them Book Review And Giveaway (Sent by Wild Nature Press)

Wild Nature Press have two excellent book releases for children this spring and they've sent us a copy of each for review, plus I'll be giving away a copy to one of my readers. Gorgeous large scale hardbacked books full of information and colour images, they're perfect for any youngster who wants to 'grow your own'. Spectacular Plants covers exactly what you'd imagine - the strangest, oddest, most colourful and carnivorous plants you can grow at home...

RHS Spectacular Plants & How To Grow Them Book cover showing drawn images of plants

Perfect for readers aged around 8-12, even the contents page is exciting. This Royal Horticultural Society endorsed book starts with an explanation of how plants feed, grow and reproduce and then plants are split into sections:
Carnivorous Plants, Unbelievable Flowers, World's Smelliest Flowers, Funky Fruit & Veg, Sensitive Plants and then Unbelievable Spectacular Plants (including record breakers).
RHS Spectacular Plants & How To Grow Them review contents page

Friday, 17 May 2019

Bedding For Bigger Kids - Fallout and NASA Review & Giveaway(Sent by Dreamtex)

Dreamtex are a name you may not recognise, but I bet you've seen their excellent quality home textiles in store or even in your home. They work with licenses from some of the biggest names in TV, print, game and film, and are committed to corporate social responsibility, working with Sedex & Oeko-Tex approved factories, to ensure that international ethical standards are constantly met.

Dreamtex single bedding sets in packaging Fallout ISA NASA

My boys have had some awesome bedding over the years, but they're getting bigger now and some of their tastes are changing. They've been sent reversible Fallout and ISA NASA bedding and I'm quite jealous. I'd happily have either of these on my own bed.

Fallout vault boy pillowcase he is doing thumbs up

Fallout has been a big hit here for well over 10 years and most of us have played at least Fallout 3 to the end (I got the completist's favourite, the Platinum Trophy - this is one of my proudest moments). This duvet set really is excellent.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

HARIBO Vegetarian Sweets Range Review (Sent by HARIBO)

Yes it's true! One of the biggest sweet names in the UK has increased and revamped their vegetarian range just in time for National Vegetarian Week, and they've very kindly sent us a bundle to try. As the only vegetarian currently living in our house full time, I'm claiming these as mine!!


The Giant Strawbs Gone Mini are a brand new addition to the range, the flavours of the Jelly Beans have been tweaked and Funny Mix has a new recipe with real fruit juice.

It was down to me to take on the difficult job of taste testing... and I did get the view of a regular HARIBO eater as well. He's been eating HARIBO for 25 years and his informed opinion was "They taste the same as the non-vegetarian ones". So there you have it...

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

May #TBCSmiles #MHAW

It's time for this month's smiles and it's Mental Health Awareness Week. Smiles are infectious and while the right one can melt your heart and make everything okay, a grin or smile from anyone will almost always help. This photo is from BlogOn Conference - not quite winning 'most Bloggers in a lift', but possibly a contender for best reflection...


We are all now more aware of our Mental Health. We know how important it is to be open and honest if we are struggling, and we know we should ask for help, but it'll be a long while yet before we can all do so freely without embarrassment, feelings of failure or worry we'll be laughed at.

One of the most important lessons I've learned over the last few years is that we are all allowed some attention - it isn't a crime. Labelling anything as 'attention-seeking' belittles it and equates it to being mardy. People want attention because they need something, and it generally reflects their health mentally. Risk-taking or extreme behaviour is a shout to be noticed, and a 'cry for help' is exactly that.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Summer Half Term Round Up for families in Manchester and the NW UK

The holidays are almost upon us again and a lot of children in the Manchester and North West area now get 2 weeks off and a slightly shorter Summer, so you'll be pleased to know there are plenty of places you can go and things you can do - and I'll add to this post as emails come in!


Here's a round up and it's really eclectic this break, so there should be something for everyone! Never forget your local Museums and Libraries, and many parks and leisure centres will arrange special events!

Friday, 10 May 2019

Timber Festival - back in the Derbyshire Woodlands 5th-7th July 2019 (Press Visit)

Last Summer we had the most amazing time at the first ever Timber Festival and I'm delighted to say they've invited us back again this year to review. The setting is Feanedock, a gorgeous 70 acre woodland in the National Forest in Derbyshire, and the programme is absolutely packed with all kinds of theatre, music, dance, performance, arts, workshops, discussion and debate for adults and children aged around 5+.


Timber won Best New Festival at the UK Festival Awards and they were a worthy winner. My boys are now 9 and 10 and were ecstatic when they heard we would be returning this year - even when we told them we'd definitely want to go and see Stuart Maconie talk about rambling again.

Timber is the festival for hippies, eco-warriors, tree-huggers and laid back types of all ages. If you want to sit in beautiful, natural surroundings listening to live bands, talks and stories, watching theatre and joining in debate, it might just suit you too.


There is an eclectic mix of entertainment on offer at Timber and a hint of what you'll find is listed below. I'm particularly excited about Cardboardia myself... The photos are from 2018 and don't represent exactly what you'll find this year, but it'll give you a good idea...

Pickles' Purrfect Plan by Carolyn Young Children's Book Review (sent by Matador)

Pickles' Purrfect Plan is a rhyming book for younger children and we've been sent a copy to review by Matador Books. Written by Carolyn Young and illustrated by Jo Blakeley, it tells the story of Wizard, Witch and Pickles the cat, who live together in a cottage in the woods.

I wouldn't usually cover books for children younger than my own, but I'm impressed with Pickles' Purrfect Plan. The story is sweet, the illustrations are excellent and the rhyming format works very well.

Front cover depicting cat wearing wizard's hat Pickles' Purrfect Plan by Carolyn Young Children's Book Review

Pickles, Witch and Wizard live a humble life in their cottage in the woods. One day a storm comes and the cottage is damaged. They search the house, but don't have the money to pay for repairs.

Pickles has a plan to help them and once they go to bed, he springs into action - with more than a little help...

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Sleep Tips To Improve Your Mental Health (paid collaboration with Tempur)

13th -19th May is Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK, and while I think we are all a lot more aware of how common mental health problems are, they're impossible to measure and rarely have a simple fix.

I'm working in a paid collaboration with Tempur, the people who make those incredibly comfortable squidgy mattresses, and they have just released the results of a Mental Health And Sleep Survey looking at what effect quality of sleep has on mental health and wellbeing. We all now know that our mental health is as important as our physical health and needs to be looked after, but how does sleep, and the quality or lack of it, affect us?


Physically, lack of good quality sleep gives us eye bags, it makes us crave carbohydrates and we store more fat. which can lead to weight gain. Among other things it affects growth hormones, testosterone and insulin levels, blood pressure and repair systems in the body. Not getting enough sleep can make you heavier and it can make you ill, and you'll stay ill for longer and find it harder to lose weight.

Mentally, lack of good quality sleep has a huge effect too. We know the obvious signs, we are tired, irritable and grumpy. Lack of sleep also makes it harder for us to learn and remember, it's responsible for lack of libido and motivation. We can feel hungry, clumsy and down, even depressed.

We've all been there, and those days that start like that never do seem to get any better...

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

BlogOn Conference 2019

Last weekend was the 11th BlogOn Conference, at Hotel Football in Manchester. Despite a few major post-op panics hiccups over the past 3 weeks, I made it! It was a bit different for me this time because I couldn't be involved in bag-packing, but with a chair and a table I was still able to join Sim in our usual job checking everyone into the conference.

Bizarrely it didn't rain. This happens only when people visit, to make us look like liars when we say it always rains in Manchester.

Hotel Football Old Trafford and Sir Alex Ferguson Way

The goody bags were all laid out ready, you can see the contents on social media by looking up #blogongoodybags . There's a big team who are there from really early on to help Laura on the day. I felt like a cheat just sitting down at the sign in table.

BlogOn Goody Bags and Check in desk with notebooks and masks

I spent almost the entire day sitting down, but I got a lift selfie in early. Cleverly I handed Sim my camera - I'm a bit too short to get everyone in unless they all bend down! This was as packed a lift as I was happy with really. My main aim for the whole day was not to be bumped in the belly.

BlogOn Lift Selfie with lots orf bloggers in a lift.

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

A Stone Called Fred by S.M.Locke Young Adult Fiction (Sent by Matador for review)

A Stone Called Fred is written by S.M.Locke and has been sent to us by publisher Matador for review. A relatively light-hearted fiction book for teenagers and young adult readers, the focus of the story is Jack, who one day awakes to find a mystery object on his kitchen table. The object often appears as an ordinary stone, but Jack spots it glowing, sometimes it buzzes and it definitely has some pretty fantastical properties.

This is a Twilight Zone style shorter story that I'm sure Roald Dahl would have been happy to include in any series of Tales Of The Unexpected. I loved it.

A Stone Called Fred by S.M.Locke Young Adult Fiction book cover showing cartoon space theme

Jack discovers that by touching the stone he can become invisible and even when he leaves it at home, somehow it will appear nearby, as if it is following and keeping an eye on him. Other people can touch the stone without any effect, so Jack feels it's special to him and even names it. Fred.

Jack's neighbours find the whole thing really amusing and aren't sure if he hasn't just had a bump to the head. His girlfriend is a journalist and has been away with work, but when she comes home, Jack has to try and persuade her that Fred really isn't just a large pebble.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Podric Moon by Barney Broom (Young Adult book sent by The Book Guild for review).

Podric Moon And The Corsican Tyrant is the first Young Adult fantasy book release from respected screenwriter and director Barney Broom. The book's main focus is young Podric, who is a computer games champion with ambition to be a jet pilot like his father, and his relationship with eccentric local games developer Archie.

Podric Moon and the Corsican Tyrant by Barney Broom Book Cover showing green eye

Podric Moon is suitable for older teenage and young adult readers. There are some mature themes including mild sexual references and scenes, and a trigger warning as two of the female characters are assaulted.

The book opens with the death on duty of Podric's father, an RAF Pilot. Podric decides not to return to his boarding school in Ireland and the whole family move away from their RAF housing into a small rural UK village. It is there that Podric meets Archie, a games developer who has had major success in the past, but is struggling to spark interest in his games now.

Together Podric and Archie work on a new and far more immersive version of VR, called Ultimate Alternative Reality (UAR) and they use Archie's game based on the Napoleonic Wars as their world. The realism is hard to ignore and life in Napoleon's time isn't quite as romantic and fun as it first appears, although it definitely has it's moments.