Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Q-Scout Programmable Metal Robot Review (age 6+) Sent by Robobloq

Robots are amazing tools that can teach your children a range of skills. The Q-Scout from Robobloq is a metal 65 piece remote control robot which you build yourself and programme using your phone or tablet. It can line follow, obstacle avoid and play music, and with 2 levels of coding built on open source Arduino, it should have the longevity to keep your child's interest for several years.

Robobloq have sent us the basic Q-Scout set to review...

Q-Scout Programmable Metal Robot packaging. Cubed box with images and text

The packaging is a nice sturdy box and easy to open with a lovely magnetic closure. Everything is neatly packaged in 3 layers and it's a gorgeous set to unveil.

Q-Scout by Robobloq has excellent packaging embossed storage box with magnietic closure

Monday, 19 August 2019

Rubik's Summer Scrambles Puzzles Giveaway

We've just taken a good look at the new releases from Rubik's for Summer 2019 and John Adams have kindly offered one of my readers 2 of the new puzzles for themselves. One winner will win a Rubik's Edge and a Rubik's Cage, together worth well over £25.

Rubik's Edge and Rubik's Cage in box

Rubik's Summer Scrambles Games Review (Age 8+) Sent by John Adams

This Summer Rubik's have a whole new 'Summer Scrambles' assortment of toys, games and fidgets to play with and they've sent us a big bundle to look at. Rubik's are small, portable toys which are great for taking away with you on holiday or visiting relatives, and they are perfect for entertaining your children on long journeys.

Grouping of all 6 items in the Rubiks Summer Scramble new releases

We've been sent Rubik’s Cage, Rubik’s Edge, Rubik’s Orbit, Rubik’s Block, Rubik’s Match and Rubik’s 3x3. The variety is massive and we are long-time fans of Rubik's Cube here, my partner can even complete one in 26 moves (or something), so he was one of the first to want to dip into this lot.

Rubik's Classic Original 3x3 Cube boxed

Rubik’s 3x3 - the classic cube that we all know. So much better than cheap imitations, and I have actually managed to complete it a couple of times, but don't ask me to do it unless you've got about 4 hours while I figure it out.

The classic Original Rubik's Cube Puzzle completed

I've got a little room for improvement, the current record (held by Yusheng Du) stands at 3.47 seconds *gulp*. RRP £10 - there is also an environmentally packaged version which is cheaper - nice one Rubik's.

Friday, 16 August 2019

60 Months... #TBCSmiles

The smiles are a day late this month, as they have been before in August, but that doesn't make them any less beautiful. Sorry if I confused anyone with the delay.

5 years ago we lost one of our children, and that is why #TBCSmiles began. I started collecting my family's smiles to remind me we can do this, and being happy is what it's all about in the end, so making smiles is exactly why we keep going.

Elspeth's Field oil painting

A HUGE thank you to everyone of you who shares your smiles with us, they are contagious and wonderful, and really do brighten up my day. Anyone can join in - just use the hashtag #TBCSmiles on a smile on any photo on Instagram!

For the next month if you happen to have a sunflower in your photo, I'm working with Sudocrem and you can enter my giveaway for a sunflower t-shirt if you take a photo of someone with a sunflower, and one person will win a mural for their school. I'm not suggesting cheating, but we won't be asking for proof that it's actually your sunflower - a big grin and a golden flower will be enough...

Thursday, 15 August 2019

5 Years, 60 Months, 1825 Days...

5 years ago today we woke up to find one of our children had died. I've never gone to bed without checking on everyone in my house since. Each night I tell them I love them, and I'll see them in the morning. They have to answer. They have to repeat it back to me. I have to know that they intend to still be there.

Everyone who loses someone they love to suicide is a survivor. When you lose them you need to know why? But to understand why is the worst that could ever happen, so you can't ever understand exactly why. That door has to stay shut. Forever. Your job is to let those questions go, and carry on.

In the beginning everything seems so hopeless, pointless.  To keep going is the bravest and hardest thing you'll ever do, and 5 years on, I am so proud of my family for fighting through everything.

Beautiful bright image of a field of sunflowers in front of a lively moving sky

We have three big grown up kids at uni, something I'm incredibly proud to tell anyone, but whenever I say it, I know there should be four. I know that if she had done a 3 year course, Elspeth would be graduating now, alongside her school friends (well done to all of you who graduated this year - I hope you have something awesome to do next).

Two of our big kids have "moved out". Gone to live in the world of bills and private landlords. One of them has moved in with his boyfriend, and genuinely it makes my heart glow to see them together. Always though, you wish Elspeth could have met him and given her seal of approval - probably by taking the p1ss.

She's never truly gone, she's always there in your head. We all feel it, everything we do is tinged by a heavy atmosphere that we have to claw through to stay in the moment. The unsaid.

In some ways it still feels like this isn't a reality, that I could still wake up and find out I dreamt it. Life happens 'to us' much more now, we have less control over where we are going. I really don't have a good chronology of the last 5 years, just a jumbled mess of memories. It's like my brain tried to hold on to the important stuff, but it wasn't quite sure what that was.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

20 Second Showdown Party Game Review Age 10+ (Sent by Big Potato Games).

We really are huge fans of Big Potato Games and it's rare we find any of their games we don't like. I wasn't sure if 20 Second Showdown would be my thing, but they sent us a copy for review and it is brilliant! Active, but not too active. Silly, but not too silly. Fiercely competitive and frantic at times? Ohhh yes...

20 Second Showdown Game Review box photo

We were sent a whole box of treats and goodies to make an evening of it and 20 Second Showdown is suitable for 5 players or more, so we even invited a friend over for the first play through. As with all Big Potato Games, the rules are simple to understand, but it's once you start playing that you can really get into the swing of it.

Monday, 12 August 2019

Share Your Sunflowers And Win A Mural For Your School (Paid Partnership With Sudocrem)

In the late Summer a lot of people already share sunflower photos with us, and they are all absolutely beautiful to see, especially as our garden is pretty much a peat bog and we can't grow our own (we've tried many, many times). This year, for anyone who wishes, you can share a photo of your child(ren) with a sunflower and have a chance to win a professional mural for their school or nursery - and I have a couple of gorgeous specially printed sunflower t-shirts to give away too.

We don't have many sunflowers growing nearby unfortunately, but we do at least have plenty of trees - and my 10 year old, who is just about as tall as me now and definitely growing...

Photo of 10 year old boy in front of huge oak tree with sunflower t-shirt

Hopefully you have grown your own sunflowers this Summer. They're easy to grow from their exciting black and white seed, and almost all UK gardens can easily grow a 5ft beauty. There really is no better flower for children because the end result is so useful and impressive, and maybe even taller than they are.

Solitary sunflower in front of setting sun in large field
Thank you to Sim for this sunflower

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Billy Stink's Incredible Circus Children's Book Review (Age 7+) Sent by Book Guild Publishing

Billy Stink's Incredible Circus is a recent release from Book Guild Publishing, who sent us a copy for review. Written by Rik Arron, this is a very special book as the entire text is a poem, but it's still a full length short story, with some great little illustrations by Nicola Anderson.

And it's really very good...

Billy Stink's Incredible Circus Children's Book cover with circus big top and bright loud illustration

Billy Stink runs a circus and one day a young boy, Titch, turns up. Titch has run away and the circus people have no way to find Titch's home and family, and he won't tell them anything, so they welcome him into their extended family and let him earn his keep working for the circus.

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Pandemic Family Board Game Review (Age 10+) Sent by Asmodee

This month Asmodee have sent us Pandemic Board Game to review for the Blogger Boardgame Club. Although I didn't own a copy, I have played Pandemic in the past, so before we even opened the box we knew we'd have a good evening.

Pandemic Board Game boix cover showing mysterious figures in outfits - workman doctor soldier medic businessman

Matt Lacock's multi award-winning game Pandemic was first released by Z-Man Games in 2007 and is so popular that it's spawned a host of different editions. The aim of the game is simple, prevent plague from infecting all of humanity and ultimately save our species from extinction...

Pandemic Game Review box contents Game board bags of items rulebook

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

X-Gen VR Virtual Reality Centre Review, Stockport. (Guests to review)

X-Gen VR is a brand new Virtual Reality Centre which has opened in Stockport and excitingly they invited us down to have a look and a play on all of their new VR systems and games machines. We are all gamers, so it was a unanimous yes.

Unlike a lot of opportunities to play with VR, X-Gen VR allow children to join in from age 7, and have hundreds of available games, including absolutely masses which are age and ability-appropriate for any user. You can shoot aliens, race bikes, ride rollercoasters or take a canal trip to Amsterdam!

collage of photos from X-Gen VR Virtual Reality Centre Review

X-Gen VR is easy to find, at one of the entrances to the Merseyway Shopping Centre, opposite the WarHammer Game Shop. There is lots of parking nearby (the Merseyway Centre's own parking has a 6ft1in limit). Our GPS tried to send us in via the main entrance of the shopping centre - this one was much closer...

How to find X Gen VR in stockport

Monday, 5 August 2019

Wonder Park (PG) Family Movie Review and DVD Giveaway (Sent by Paramount)

Wonder Park is a sweet feel-good family movie which has a couple of slightly more serious moments. Paramount Home Media Distribution sent us a copy to review, as well as some Wonder Park goodies, and we all really enjoyed it! Out today on Download & Keep, and on Blu-ray and DVD from 19th August, it's a great film to fill a rainy Summer afternoon.
Wonder Park (PG) Family Movie Review and DVD Giveaway pack shot with lots of smiling animated animals

Wonder Park has a great cast including Jennifer Garner, Mila Kunis and Ken Jeong, and centres on a young girl named June, who has created an amazing amusement park with her mother. They imagine and draw all of the rides and attractions, fill the park with animal characters who have fun all day, and it's a very happy place to be.

When June's Mum becomes ill, June loses her happiness, and she turns her back on the Wonder Park. Unknown to her, it can't function without her and it quickly falls into disrepair, and is overtaken by Chimpanzombies. When she returns she finds it broken and the characters desperately unhappy. June feels the weight of responsibility and realises it's up to her to cheer the whole park up in time to save it, and in the process, she also finds her own joy...

Friday, 2 August 2019

National Geographic Mini Dig Kits STEM Toy Review Age 8+ (Sent by Bandai)

This month Bandai have sent us three of the Mini Dig Kits from National Geographic for review. Smaller than the standard Dig Kits, each contains one genuine specimen which your child can dig out using the tool included.

National Geographic Mini Dig Kits in boxes Dino Poop Treasure and Shark Tooth

The Mini Dig Kits are hard plastic-wrapped, so not very eco-friendly. With scissors they're much more easily opened, but can have sharp edges, so watch your fingers. Inside is your specimen and a digging tool, as well as a leaflet with information.

National Geographic Mini Dig Kits packaging plastic and sharp

I may not be so keen on the packaging, but I love the contents and so do children. Dig Kits offer a surprise reward - you don't know what you'll end up with exactly, and no two end results are the same.

Stars of Paradise By Mary Obozua Children's Book Review Age 6-9+ (Sent by Hashtag Press).

Stars of Paradise is the first book in The Wonderful Life of Daisy & Ewe (The WLDE) series by Mary Obozua and I've been sent a copy for review by publisher Hashtag Press. Previously better known for her designer shoes and brand Mary Smith, she promises the series to bring girl power, a multicultural cast, mystery and fun packed adventures.

Stars Of Paradise is recommended for young independent readers aged around 6-9 and stars two schoolfriends, Daisy and Ewe.

Stars of Paradise By Mary Obozua Children's Book cover with softly coloured stars and clouds and feathers

Daisy and Ewe are quite girly girls. They're a bit pink and fluffy, but they are also incredibly intelligent and fantastic gadget-makers. These are the sort of heroes I like best. They remind me of my own childhood hero, and really do prove that you should never judge anyone by how they look.