Monday, 18 November 2019

Chill Factorᵉ Santa's Grotto And Snow Park Review

My boys are 9 and 11, and I really wasn't going to take them to see Santa this year, but they had tried to convince me you are never too old, and then we were invited by Chill Factorᵉ to review this year's Santa's Grotto and Snow Park experience.

Chill Factore Christmas Santa's Grotto and Snow Park Review

I couldn't be more pleased that I said yes because even with 25 years as a parent. I think this was my favourite ever visit to see Santa..

Sunday, 17 November 2019

#TBCSmiles November.... 63 Months.

I'm super late this month with the TBCSmiles, but I really am not going to offer an apology because I was busy making smiles. I had a lovely birthday on Thursday and then I went on a school trip with my youngest son, followed straight away with a press visit to review Santa's Grotto at Chill Factorᵉ. It was a bit busy and I needed an easier weekend.

My family and me with huge smiles at Chill Factore Manchester 2019

I think one of the biggest problems with the UK and the entire world right now is that we forget how important people are. We are so busy and so stressed that we get on the treadmill and start walking, Our employers, our government, our society and everyone else train us and tell us to keep walking, but we all need to remember to step off regularly.

I panicked a bit that I was going to be late with the TBCSmiles, and planned to do it first thing Saturday morning, but when I saw the smiles we all made on Thursday and Friday, I realised I didn't need to panic. No-one will come to harm if my post is 3 days late, and what I was doing right then was far more important.

It's too easy to lose sight of what is really important.

Boy smiling his biggest smile at Santa Claus Chill Factore Manchester 2019

Saturday, 16 November 2019

Sproutword Plastic-Free Strategy Word Game Review (sent for review)

Sproutword could be described as a mix of Scrabble and Chess. It's a game that just about anyone can join in with, without having to learn complicated rules or spend any time on set up, and it's also entirely plastic-free and more beautiful than you'd expect any tile game to be. We've been sent a copy for review...

Suitable for 2-4 players, aged around around 10+ for a real competition. Younger players aged around 6+ will be able to join in with a less competitive, slower-paced game. I played with one of my grown up sons, and my 2 boys aged 9 and 11.

Sprout Word strategy word game review collage of photos showing players and game

Sproutword was created by two blokes, Ian and Dan, who developed it in their lunch breaks using scrappy bits of paper. When making the game real, they've used sustainable wood and zero plastic, and local crafters in Devon and Dorset, making Sproutword almost certainly the most eco-friendly game I've ever reviewed.

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Christmas Present Giveaway: Randomise Party Game (Age 8+) From Gamely Games (sent for review)

Randomise is a game for 4 or more players in 2 teams of 2-20 players aged 8 or over, and we have a copy to give away courtesy of Gamely Games, who also sent us a copy to review. This is a word guessing game where your teammates have to guess the entire sentence you are trying to communicate within the time limit - and you can choose to draw, act or describe, whichever takes your fancy!

Christmas Present Giveaway: Randomise Party Game (Age 8+) From Gamely Games (sent for review)

Inside the box are two piles of cards and the instructions. Everything is minimal, with barely any plastic, and the game can be sent through regular post.

Randomise Party Game  review for Gamely Games box contents

Slam Dunk Basketball Party Review with the Manchester Giants (Press Review)

On Sunday we were invited over to the home of Manchester Giants Basketball Team in Urmston, Manchester, to experience their children's parties. None of my family know anything about basketball, it's not something any of my children have played, and that really just made it more exciting. It's always fun to try something new - you'll definitely learn something and you might find you really like it.

Manchester Giants Children's Basketball Party Review (Press Visit)

The Manchester Giants are based at the George H Carnall Sports Centre, which is easy to find, just off the M60 in Urmston. Children's Parties last a whole afternoon and including a 1 hour training session with Manchester Giants coaches, pizza party meal and a Manchester Giants basketball game.

Manchester Giants Basketball Kids Party Review

Monday, 11 November 2019

Christmas Giveaway: Science Mad Chemistry Lab (age 10+) Sent for Review

The Science Mad Chemistry Lab is a proper Chemistry set designed for children who are ready to move on from volcanoes and start looking deeper into why their world works as it does. Trends UK have sent us this set to review with my 11 year old, and my 9 1/2 year old joined in with some extra close supervision...

Science Mad Chemistry Lab (age 10+) box cover shot showing children doing science

We are a household who love science and my boys have grown up experimenting. I'll start by saying this is an awesome Chemistry set. The price is brilliant for the kit included and the experiments are genuinely age 10+ and incredibly exciting for my boys. Here's why we think that...

Science Mad Chemistry set review box contents included

Inside the cardboard box is a plastic insert holding all of your equipment. There are over 20 pieces of equipment, including several made from real glass - the spirit burner, stirring rod, a glass tube, 2 test tubes, beaker and conical flask - so we've opted to keep ours in the box between use for safety.

Friday, 8 November 2019

Trapwords Family Party Game Review (age 8+) Sent by Asmodee

This month's independent game review sent to us Asmodee is a word-guessing game for 4-8 players aged 8+. Trapwords is a fast-paced game where two teams battle it out to guess the most words, and like a lot of independent games, it's beautifully presented and really quite special.

Trapwords Family Party Game Review (age 8+) Sent by Asmodee

Inside the box are lots of components: a game board made up of 7 different 'room' tiles, 5 monsters, 2 team figures, 4 books, 50 word cards, 10 curse cards, 10 monster cards, 2 torches, sand timer, pencils and a pad of trapword list sheets.

Trapwords game review box contents

You'll need 5 minutes set up and 5 minutes more before first play to press out the cardboard elements. Unlike other word guessing games, Trapwords is played with a board (made using 5 tiles from a set of 8) and as you progress it gets harder.

What's On this Winter for families in Manchester and the North West UK

Christmas is coming! And so are all of those fabulously festive events, theatre and days out. Here's a rundown of some of what's happening in Manchester and the NorthWest UK over the next couple of months - for families with kids of all ages, including teenagers and students.


If you have anything you'd like me to add, please send it over with a low res photo - try and give us a couple of weeks notice and please do not send me any more events in Bury St Edmunds - that is a far cry from Bury, North Manchester! We like FREE and low cost events and activities best of all.

Manchester animation Festival

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Christmas Giveaway: Learning Resources Beaker Creatures Alien Experiment Lab (age 5+)

I love Learning Resources toys. They introduce younger children to all kinds of skills that they'll use for their lifetime, while playing with some of the best toys around. I'm delighted that they are giving one of my readers a Beaker Creatures Alien Experiment Lab as a Christmas present.

Recommended for children aged around 5-9, the Alien Experiment Lab includes over 20 different experiments for your young scientists to try...

Beaker Creatures Alien Experiment Lab (age 5+) Pack shot

There are 18 pieces in your set, including a Slime Station and Slime Extruder, Creature Mold and Pod Maker. There are also 2 collectible little Beaker Creatures Aliens hidden inside Reactor Pods. There is loads to excite any youngster.

Beaker Creatures Alien Experiment Lab box contents

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Christmas Giveaway: Jumbo Games Puzzles Bundle (sent for review)

On Thursday this week (7th November) at 4.30pm I'll be joining in with Jumbo Games for a big Puzzle Party on Twitter. The theme is "A Night In With Jumbo" and it's a perfect fit for these dark Winter evenings.

I've been sent 4 x 1000 piece puzzles, a sorter and a ginormous puzzle board for review, and Jumbo Games will be giving away the same bundle during the party. Very importantly though, they'll also give away this same bundle to one of my readers as a Christmas Present Giveaway...

Christmas Giveaway Jumbo Games Puzzles Bundle sent for review

Included in the bundle are:

1x Wasgij Christmas 15 ‘Santa’s Unexpected Delivery!’ 2x1000pc Jigsaw Puzzle
1x Falcon de Luxe ‘Santa’s Special Delivery’ 2x1000pc Jigsaw Puzzle
1x Puzzle Mates Portapuzzle Board
1x Puzzle Mates Puzzle Sorting Trays

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Christmas Giveaway: So MAGIC DIY Wonder Magic Garden (Age 8+) Sent by Canal Toys

The So MAGIC DIY range from Canal Toys is bright and colourful with interesting things to grow and build. We were sent the Wonder Magic Garden for review a while ago and it's been incredibly well-used here - by everyone.

It seems a Zen Garden is a relaxing and tranquil thing whatever your age, so I'm delighted that Canal Toys are giving one of you a Wonder Magic Garden as a Christmas Present.

Christmas Giveaway: So MAGIC DIY Wonder Magic Garden (Age 8+) Sent by Canal Toys

There are lots of different features, but your garden has 4 different sections and plenty of coloured sand to pick and choose how you fill them. There is also a putty-type slime to fill your pond area of the garden.

So MAGIC DIY Wonder Magic Garden pond pool area

Monday, 4 November 2019

Christmas Giveaway: Big Potato Party Games Bundle! (Age 10+)

We love Big Potato Games. Perfect for a household where the kids are getting older, all of their games have easy to learn rules, instant play and make you laugh. This bundle has 3 of our favourites - 20 Second Showdown, What Came First? and my personal favourite, the gloriously packaged Blockbuster Movie Game.


Big Potato have sent us a lot of games for review over the past couple of years, and these are 3 excellent choices which we've all really enjoyed, so I'm delighted that they have offered to send this bundle of 3 games (worth almost £65rrp) as a Christmas Present to one of my readers.

Friday, 1 November 2019

Christmas Present Giveaway: HUGE Tactic Family Games Bundle!

I am ecstatic to have this awesome Christmas Present giveaway courtesy of Tactic, who also sent us these games for review over the last couple of months. One reader wins the entire bundle: Original Alias, UK Alias, Story Chest and The Great Tour (European Cities).


Together this bundle of Tactic family games is worth over £100 at recommended prices, we've reviewed and loved all 4 of these games. This is without doubt one of my favourite giveaways I've ever run.

Original ALIAS game from Tactic review box shot

Original Alias is an instant play, easy to learn word guessing game suitable for 4 or more players aged around 10+, in teams of 2 or more.

Christmas Giveaway: Angry Birds Island Challenge Slot Car Racing (Age 6+) Sent by Tobar

Maisto are a very well-known manufacturer of all kinds of small scale wheeled toys and collectibles. Die cast models, remote control vehicles and fantastic car tracks are just some of the Maisto items we've owned over the years and last month Tobar sent us their Angry Birds Island Challenge Slot Car Racing Set to review...

Angry Birds Island Challenge Slot Car Racing pack shot

Everything arrives in a sturdy box and there is very little plastic packaging - nice one. You will need a whopping 8 x AA batteries to power your track, plus a small Phillips screwdriver, but it is Christmas morning-friendly otherwise and you can be playing in 5 minutes.

Angry Birds Island Challenge slot car racing what's in the box contents

Inside the box you have 2.27m of track as 1 straight, 6 small curves, 4 large curves and battery section, plus 2 controllers, 2 vehicles, 6 adjustable track supports and 2 pieces of guard rail plus fastenings. There are also spare Guide Keel's for the underside of the cars (the bit that drops into the slot and keeps them on the track).

Christmas Giveaway: My Personalised Case £50 Voucher

A couple of months ago My Personalised Case sent me a new tough phone case and bluetooth speaker to review. Both are personalised with my own photos and I am impressed with the quality, printing and reliability of the products, so I'm very happy to say that they've offered one of my readers a £50 voucher to order something for yourself - or someone else...

Christmas Giveaway: My Personalised Case £50 Voucher

The My Personalised Case website is very intuitive, and easy to navigate and use, with lots of familiar options and effects available. Ordering took about 5 minutes including uploading photos.

My Tough Phone Case is in 2 parts with a rubbery lining and tough outer shell. It has been on my phone since it arrived and has been dropped several times, including a terrifying fall all the way down the stairs. It's survived so far!

Christmas Giveaway: My Personalised phone Case with photo