Thursday, 17 October 2019

Story Chest Family Board Game Review (Age 7+) Sent by Tactic

Story Chest is the first of my game reviews for Tactic and it is one of the most beautiful games I've ever been sent for review. A game for 2-7 players aged around 7, where you spot details on cards and create a short verbal story about them - and guess which details your opponents will have chosen. Each of the 100 story cards is full of amazing artwork that couldn't fail to inspire anyone.

Story Chest Family Board Game collage of photos showing box and game elements

Easy to learn, you can play almost instantly and no age group or ability gets an advantage... it's a truly level playing field, so it's perfect for families to play together.

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Chill Factorᵉ Snowboarding Taster Session Review (Guest Visit).

On Saturday evening we were guests of Chill Factorᵉ indoor ski slope just off the M60 by the intu Trafford Centre to review their Snowboarding Taster Sessions. This is a 50 minute session which is ideal for anyone aged 8+ who hasn't been on a snowboard before (children under 10 need a responsible adult with them).


We really love visiting Chill Factorᵉ and have worked with them many times now. Although we have tried most of their activities before, Snowboarding is completely new to all of us. I'm still not able to go on the snow after my operation, but my partner and our 9 and 11 year old boys were really excited about learning something new - especially when it's as cool as Snowboarding!

Chill Factorᵉ Entrance with legend ski board eat climb play shop watch

We arrived in good time. There is always plenty of free parking, but it's always wise to leave a good half hour to collect tickets, get kitted out and changed. There are ticket collection machines for those who have pre-booked, then over to collect clothing.

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

#TBCSmiles... 62 Months

This month saw World Mental Health Day, and this year the theme was Suicide Prevention. Obviously this is something I feel very strongly about, and support, but it made it quite a heavy day to get through.

I wrote a post called Life Goes On for World Suicide Prevention Day in September and I wasn't up for writing another so soon. If you've ever written from the depths of your soul, you'll find it's cathartic, but utterly exhausting. It makes everything clearer when you get all the words out of your head. It puts everything into the right order and stops it swirling so much, but you need a break afterwards to recover. Just like counselling really.


One of the points I saw repeatedly on World Mental Health Day (and know from experience) is that people in the UK simply don't have the early access to care that can make all the difference. If you have a mental health problem, even with a referral to your doctor, you can wait many months to be seen by a professional. Even in crisis you can expect to wait weeks. Individuals carry on suffering or deteriorating until their appointment, and their recovery time will become longer with every week they wait to start treatment. It is inevitably too late for some.

NHS spending on mental health is approximately 1/10th of it's entire £129b budget. Your mental health affects everything else, including how physically well you are, how quickly you recover from illness and how often you are off work or school. It would be good to see this percentage rise, although the NHS as it stands isn't in a position to lose any money anywhere else...

Young Minds have a petition to ask the Government to act more quickly on young people's mental health - please sign it. More children are needing the services and waiting times are going up. For children the wait is even worse because it represents a much larger period of their life. To realise you might have to wait 1/10th of your entire life for help is unfathomable, and clearly dangerous.

Suicide is the biggest killer of our children, it takes more victims than Cancer. We need to make huge changes to society for a permanent improvement, but right now we need to get people the help as soon as they need it.

We can still smile, and we can all pass on our smiles and brighten someone's day. I defy you not to grin when you look at this month's selection of #TBCSmiles. We've had lots of big, bold beams this month - every single one gorgeous. Thank you to everyone who shares their smiles over on Instagram - they make my month and I know they bring joy to others.

TBCSmiles October 2019 62 months Your smiles

Anyone is welcome to join in, you don't need a fancy camera or a million followers, just tag any photo with a smile! We pick out 9 of the biggest for the collage. This month's selection were shared by the following Instagrammers:

Jessa67 / TheMumDiaries / NotMyYearOff

We had our own smiles too here, mainly courtesy of reviews for Hatching Dragons, Bunch O Balloons and Chill Factore Snowboard Taster Sessions - and an 11th birthday!

TBCSmiles October 2019 62 months my smiles



Monday, 14 October 2019

Hatching Dragons Toothless - How to Train Your Dragon Toy Review (age 5+) Sent by Spinmaster

Spinmaster's Hatching Dragon arrives as a gorgeous interactive egg and pretty soon hatches into Toothless, from How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. We've been sent him to review and he's been a definite hit. Cute, but no too cute...

Hatching Dragons Toothless - How to Train Your Dragon Toy Review (age 5+) Sent by Spinmaster

The packaging does include some single use plastic, but is mainly card and more minimal than I found with toys even this time last year.

Hatching Toothless  How to Train Your Dragon The Hidden World

Tough Phone Case and Personalised Bluetooth Speaker Review. Sent by My Personalised Case

My Personalised Case make phone cases for a huge range of phones, including the new iPhones, and they can be customised to include your own images and text. They also sell other cases and personalised Bluetooth Speakers and Powerbanks, at very reasonable prices. They have sent me a Tough Phone Case and Personalised Bluetooth Speaker for review.

Personalised Tough Phone Case and Personalised Bluetooth Speaker plus company logo

The website is very simple to use and within a couple of minutes I'd uploaded my chosen image. Be careful which image you choose - annoyingly mine didn't work as a full cover photo because the camera obscures my children's faces! Thankfully there are several layouts to choose from.

Personalised Cases REview choosing layout and photo size

You can also add text and other effects including stickers and filters. It's easy to undo your last move and very quick.

Friday, 11 October 2019

Inside The New Søstrene Grene Manchester Store

Last night I was invited along to be among the very first people to check out the brand new Søstrene Grene store in Manchester city centre. I was also allowed to bring home a bag of goodies to show you the kind of products they offer...

Sostrene grene Manchester Store Launch collage of scenes from inside and close ups of products

Søstrene Grene sell all kinds of homewares, including gifts, cookware and specialist ingredients, craft materials, children's toys, Christmas decorations, prints and frames, cushions and a whole load more to make your home comfortable and attractive.

Sostrene grene shelving in store with teas coffees kitchenwares and preserves

The layout is very European, spacious and enticing. Immediately you are met with teas, coffees and preserves, and other foods. They even have loose tea by the bag - my OH was ecstatic with his Ginger and Rhubarb. There are lots of quirky, artisan or unusual foods which are very tempting to try.

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Ad | Student Nannies - connecting flexible childcare and families (New launch in Manchester).

Student Nannies has recently launched in the Manchester area, with the aim to pair up families needing babysitters with students who have childcare experience and other additional skills to offer.

Imagine a babysitter who can help your child with their science project or maths homework. Someone who can play football, piano or chat to them in Spanish.

Student Nannies babysitting platform for students and parents logo

Student Nannies are all students looking to earn a little extra to supplement their loans, and all have plenty of proven experience with children, as well as being ID checked and background checked (real-time checks on global Watch Lists, Politically Exposed Persons and Adverse Media).

Every Student Nanny applicant is interviewed by a mum or teacher before they are added to the site and they're quite strict. Among other things the applicant has to have "fluent spoken English, babysitting experience, the ability to think on their feet and a kind, calm manner".

Every time a Student Nanny is employed to look after children, the parents can give feedback, so you can be assured that the person who turns up at your door has been peer-tested and not found wanting. Parents can also ask Student Nannies for references from other parents, and any additional checks Student Nannies have will be shown on their profiles (DBS checks, 1st Aid Certificate, Life Guard qualification etc.).

Monday, 7 October 2019

The Secret Life Of Pets 2 Movie Review and Blu-ray Giveaway

The Secret Life of Pets 2 is now available on DVD, Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD and Digital Download from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. They've sent us a copy to review and I have a Blu-ray to give away to one of my readers too!

What are your pets doing when you aren't at home?

The Secret Life Of Pets 2 Blu-ray cover photo showing animated dogs smiling

This heartwarming animated sequel from Illumination, the studio that brought us Despicable Me, Minions and Sing, is also led by a star-studded comedic cast. All of our favorite Pets and their growing families are back in a new chapter which really examines the deep bonds between them and their humans.

The voice cast includes Patton Oswalt (A.P. Bio), Kevin Hart (Ride Along Series), Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family), Jenny Slate (Despicable Me 3), Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip), Lake Bell (Children’s Hospital), Nick Kroll (Sing), Dana Carvey (Wayne’s World), Ellie Kemper (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Hannibal Buress (Neighbors) and Bobby Moynihan (Saturday Night Live).

Excitingly for me, Harrison Ford takes his first ever role in an animated film as new addition Rooster, the very mature farm dog who they meet later on in the movie.

Friday, 4 October 2019

One Dear World Hearty Hope - Multicultural Doll Review (12m+) Sent for review.

One Dear World are a company I approached because I love their ethos. They create dolls that genuinely represent a diverse range of children - boys and girls from different backgrounds, with different skin tones and hair colours, and One Dear World are also crowd-funding to extend the range to include dolls with disabilities.

We've been sent a doll for review and one of the Fair Trade handmade outfits, which I'll be passing on to a little girl who I know will really appreciate it...

One Dear World Hearty Hope doll sitting on table unsupported with white dress, brown skin and long curly hair.

Our doll is Hearty Hope, and her backstory is that she was born in Accra, Ghana and moved to London with her parents. The packaging is mostly unbleached card and she comes with her own little passport. She's 32cm tall and not heavy to hold.

One Dear World ethnic doll dark skin and curly hair sitting in packaging box

She has beautiful curly hair and dark skin, and when she arrived was wearing a really pretty embroidered white sundress - with bloomers underneath to protect her modesty! The clothes are removable and it was really easy to change Hope.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Bank Attack! Electronic Family Game Giveaway with John Adams Toys

One of the best games we've reviewed this year is Bank Attack! and I'm delighted to have a copy to give away to one of my readers.

Bank Attack! is a cooperative game where 2- 4 players aged around 7+ take the roles of a safe-breaking gang. Work together against the clock in order to steal the cash and if you beat the safe, you bag the gold bullion....

Bank Attack Family Game box (Age 7+) Sent by John Adams Toys

You can play almost instantly and there are no tricky rules to learn. Players work as a team with everyone taking a role. Then you all have to correctly and quickly follow the instructions given to you by The Boss.

Bank Attack! Electronic Game Review (age 7+) Sent for review by John Adams Toys

Bank Attack cooperative family game is a new release from John Adams this Autumn and it really is an excellent game! 2- 4 players take the roles of a safe-breaking gang and have to work together against the clock in order to steal the loot. Suitable for age 7+, but plenty of fun even for us grown ups once the kids are in bed....

Bank Attack Family Game box (Age 7+) Sent by John Adams Toys

There's very little single-use plastic packaging, so I'm pleased from the start. Bank Attack! is packaged in a sturdy box which can be used for safe storage afterwards. You will need just 5 minutes to release parts from the sprue before first play and 3 x AA batteries, but it scores well for packaging and is pretty Christmas morning-friendly.

Bank Attack! Game box contents resealable bag with tools and bullion and safe

Inside the box are the Electronic Safe, 8 different tools (goggles, drill, laptop, map, flashlight, headset, explosives and gloves), 12 Plastic Gold Bars, 20 notes and Instructions.

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Ad | Bunch O Balloons Self-Sealing Party Balloons Review (and voucher giveaway)

Until now we used Bunch O Balloons for solely outdoor play, but that's all changed with their brand new Bunch O Balloons Self-Sealing Party Balloons. Inflate up to 40 balloons in less than 40 seconds without even breaking sweat! What's more, they don't need to be knotted and they even come with ribbons already attached...

Bunch O Balloons Self-Sealing Party Balloons starter pack with pump and refill pack

We're working with Zuru Toys and Tesco - who will be stocking Bunch O Balloons Party Balloons from this week. They've sent us the Party Balloon Starter Pack With Pump to review, plus some extra Party Balloon Refills (and I'll also have a giveaway on Facebook so that one reader can go and buy some for themselves!)...

Bunch O Balloons Party pump demonstration collage showing balloons inflating

Packaging is mainly card with a large plastic window for the balloons, and it's not ideal to keep for storage. The balloons with their ribbons and rubbery hollow sticks are packaged carefully to avoid tangling without using lots of tape - nicely done. Easy to open and you can use it instantly.