A weekend away and a poorly Mister B!!

With my dad’s 65th birthday last week my mum arranged a surprise weekend in Bristol with approx twenty friends and family.  This meant us travelling up after school on Friday and for a change, but also to avoid the Friday evening traffic we decided to catch the train.  As anticipated the children loved it, we found it more relaxing and we arrived in perfect time for dinner!

It was a great opportunity to catch up with family we don’t see very often and nice to be away from home for a few days.  We stayed at the city centre Marriott with views across the park, right across the city to the hills beyond.  Being next door to Cabot Circus, Bristol’s newest shopping centre kept mummy occupied on Saturday morning.

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Saturday night we had a special meal to celebrate my dad’s birthday at Raymond Blanc’s Brasserie restaurant which tasted delicious and Miss M was first at my dad’s side to assist him in blowing out his birthday cake candles!!

Unfortunately poor Mister B went downhill from the moment we arrived.  A high temperature, refusal to eat and a constant desire to sleep left us feeling slightly anxious and unable to fully relax all weekend.  The return journey on the train, he laid across my lap dozing and it was a relief yesterday get him to a doctor to find out he has a virus and just to dose him up with Calpol and Ibruprofen.

A busy weekend, but a highly enjoyable one being away from home and spending time with people we see so little and infrequent.

 

Samsung Fridge Freezer Silver (RB29FSRNDSA) – Review

The Samsung Fridge Freezer from appliancesonline.co.uk looks sleek and modern from the outside with a brushed stainless steel effect on the front and slightly darker graphite coloured sides giving it a minimalist streamlined look that would suit any modern kitchen.

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On the inside there are 4 main shelves and a full width and full depth drawer at the bottom. This opens fully with the door open at 90 degrees with nothing blocking its way. The second shelf down from the top is an easyslide shelf meaning it pulls in and out for easy access to items at the back. A 2 bottle wine rack is included, which is also removable if not required. Although there is nothing wrong with the shelves and they are perfectly strong, they are quite basic in build and design.

On the inside of the door from the top down are a lidded shelf suitable for small items and eggs etc. Below this is a split shelf with the option of setting each half at a different height. The lowest shelf is full width and has plenty of height suitable for milk/wine etc. Just a note that the bottom shelf can not be positioned at the bottom of the door due to the full depth drawer therefore may be higher than you are used – I found this when lifting milk but I guess you would get used to it. Also my daughter can’t safely reach it whereas she had been used to preparing her own breakfast.

The freezer is frost free which is great for busy lifestyles. It contains 3 drawers, the top one being slightly shallower than the others. They are all the same depth and didn’t seem that big although once I’d packed everything into them they easily held as much as my older freezer. In fact they seemed really deep and I was able to get a large amount of food into each one.

Overall I think this is a very stylish fridge freezer which looks great and although a little basic inside – it does the job and is the perfect size for a small family.

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions. We are not paid for reviews although we do receive the product to try out and enable us to write the review.

Saltram House and Garden – a fun day with the children!!

With the husband on a ten hour shift at work today and the sun shining, I knew the children would be itching to get outside but I didn’t really fancy venturing down to the local park on a busy Saturday. So whilst having a quick peek at my twitter feed over breakfast I noticed that the National Trust were offering free entrance to most of their properties this weekend.

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I quickly packed up a bag with a few essentials and off we went in the car to visit Saltram House, our local Georgian National Trust Property.  As the house doesn’t open until 12pm we headed through to the gardens which Miss M and Mister B absolutely loved.  They ran ahead and led me through the winding paths, climbing every tree they could.  We found little shelters to explore and even an underground cellar.  The flowers and trees were wonderful just coming into bloom giving us plenty to look at and talk about.  The children loved running around in the fresh air and the sun was shining, helping them to burn off the excess energy they woke up with.

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After about an hour of exploring we headed in to the house, a beautiful Georgian Mansion.  Miss M was given a clipboard to carry around, noting down the rooms she spotted hidden wooden mice in – a great activity to keep children’s eyes peeled and maintain their interest in wandering around the property.  We even found a dressing up room upstairs where we could try on replica clothes and pose for a photo.  Mister B insisted on trying on the entire range of gentleman’s hats!!

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Once we had finished the tour of the house, Miss M was given a sticker for her excellent effort in spotting all the hidden mice.  We then headed off to the cafe for a late lunch and even sat outside in the glorious sunshine to relax.  What a lovely day spent with just me and my two children, it was so nice to get away from a day stuck at home and has definitely inspired me to take the children to more National Trust properties when we’ve got the time, although may have to find a day daddy isn’t working for the ones more further afield!

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Dinosaur crafty fun with clay!!

The theme at Mister B’s museum group this week was dinosaurs, which he was rather excited about.  We started by looked at some old dinosaur fossils and feeling their textures before getting on to the messy task of clay!

Unfortunately Mister B prefered to prod the ball of clay with the plastic crafting tools rather than get his fingers stuck in and then ordered mummy do create the body of his dinosaur  although he did eventually join in adding bits along the back and to the tail.  Then he used his tools to add some texture to the side of the dinosaur.

We were given a black and white picture of a dinosaur head which Mister B loved colouring in and after sticking it to a lollipop stick we poked it into the neck of the dinosaur to finish it off.

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While we left the dinosaurs to dry we played with some dinosaur themed toys.  Mister B really enjoyed the dinosaur puzzles which he completed all on his own.  He’s never had much interest in puzzles up to now but seems to have suddenly found a real fondness for them which is great for his hand eye coordination and we have plenty at home for him to practice with.

Another fun filled week at the museum over and one happy little boy proudly carrying his finished masterpiece out the door of the museum and down the road!!

Jollywobbles! DVD Review – Fun with Justin Fletcher

On hearing that Justin Fletcher both wrote and stars in Jollywobbles!, I knew it had to be a hit with my two.  I don’t think I’ve met a child yet that isn’t mesmerised by Justin Fletcher in whatever guise he takes, be it Mister Tumble or any of the Tumble clan, himself in his fabulous show Justin’s House or one of the many characters he plays in Gigglebiz.

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My two are always keen to watch a programme starring Justin so I was keen to see whether Jollywobbles! had the same impact.

‘Jollywobbles features original music, wonderful slapstick humour and family
comedy, for both little ones and grown-ups to enjoy.’

There are 7 episodes giving 63 minutes of action packed fun for the younger audience:

Wakey, Wakey
Park Bench
Swimming
Tennis
DIY
Theme Park
Beach

Jollywobbles! contains the typical style of humour you would expect from Justin Fletcher, that keeps little ones amused and keen to watch.  Some scenes feature Phil
Gallagher aka Mister Maker which 5yr old Miss M spotted immediately and got all excited that “Mister Maker” was in the DVD as well as Justin Fletcher.

His antics include a lot of cream cakes, diy disasters, silly dancing & amusing times around the swimming pool etc.  My 2 and a half year old son found this DVD very amusing and likes imitating Justin when he can.  He asks for Jollywobbles! to be put on every morning and sits watching it completely immersed in the action and giggling away to himself.

I would definitely say this suits the younger viewer who is a keen Justin fan!  Five year old Miss M did enjoy watching as well and we did catch her laughing along with her brother although I would suggest this is best suited at preschoolers.

The Jollywobbles! DVD is available to purchase from from all good DVD stockists.

Find out more at www.abbeyhomemedia.com
You can also catch up with Abbey Home Media on Twitter or Facebook

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions. We are not paid for reviews although we do receive the product to try out and enable us to write the review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Woolly and Tig – First Day DVD Review

When Woolly and Tig first started on CBeebies, I have to admit I never took much notice of it but I kept noticing Miss M mention it and get all excited, telling mummy to be quiet as it was one of her favourite programmes.  So when we were sent a copy of the new Woolly and Tig DVD  by Abbey Home Media to review I knew it would be a hit.

WoollyIt follows a young girl called Tig and her cuddly spider Woolly who go about their day doing different things.  Woolly is always there to support and encourage Tig in things she does like when she doesn’t want to wash her hair, won’t share her toys with her friends or has to learn how to adapt to a new baby brother being in the house etc..  Definitely lots of lessons to be learnt here in a fun, friendly way.

My two have loved watching this DVD over and over – I’m quite surprised at how many any times this DVD has been played but if it’s sending out good messages and they enjoy it, then it’s fine by me!  I would say the ideal viewing ages for this are between 2 and 5.

The NEW Woolly and Tig – First Day DVD is available to purchase now from all good DVD stockists.

Find out more at www.abbeyhomemedia.com
You can also catch up with Abbey Home Media on Twitter or Facebook

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions. We are not paid for reviews although we do receive the product to try out and enable us to write the review.

 

The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game

With Miss M being an avid lover of games I was really pleased to try The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game from Learning Resources.  It is a simple, fun game for 2-4 players aged 3+.  The game is set in a delightful tree shaped box with a lovely woodland theme to it.

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The object of the game is to be the first person to collect one of each of five coloured acorns in your tree stump.  The acorns are placed in the inside of the tree shaped box and using a spinner determines the action you can make, pick up a particular colour acorn, pick one of your choice, miss a go or steal an acorn from another player etc.

The highlight of the game for my children is the Squirrel Squeezer – a plastic squirrel shaped set of tweezers used to pick the acorns up from the box and transfer them to your tree stump.  These are very strong, sturdy and definitely gave the game an added dimension of fun.

Squirrel

Although the game is fairly simple, it does encourage colour matching and improve fine motor skills along with a bit of strategy when choosing which player is best to steal acorns from.

This is a fun game suitable for younger children but is easily enjoyed by all the family.  My five year old also sat quite happily playing it with her friend without the need for adult supervision.  We’ve enjoyed this game, it’s been played everyday and is a great for entertaining young children – even my 2.5yr old enjoyed using the squirrel to put acorns in a tree stump and tell me what colours they were!!

If you’d like to win a Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game for yourself then head over to the Learning Resources Facebook page before 30th April 2013 where they are running a competition to win 1 of 5 copies.

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions. We are not paid for reviews although we do receive the product to try out and enable us to write the review.

 

 

 

Ideas for keeping young children occupied on long car journeys!

For me, long journeys are inevitable with both mine and my husbands families living 250 miles away in opposite directions!!  As well as all the weekends away and summer breaks, we do a fair bit of travelling around in the car.  With two young children of 5 and 2 years old we’ve definitely learnt to plan ahead in ways to amuse and keep them occupied on a long journey.

They are always so eager to get in the car knowing they are going somewhere exciting but get bored so easily once the journey starts.  They love to help packing the car and always sit on the door step watching and waiting in anticipation to get going.

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Firstly we like to plan a few stops on the way – always good to give the little ones a break to stretch their legs and run around.  The fresh air really helps the from feeling sluggish and getting grumpy and gives them the energy to do things again to pass the journey.

We love to take a pile of CD’s in the car either to sing along to when we start out – e.g some nursery rhymes or Justin Fletcher tunes etc and then further into the journey we move onto some story book CD’s – of which we seem to have quite a collection and they love to take turns picking the stories.

When we are driving through the countryside we love to play Spot the Animal and even better is Animal Sounds where we make the noise of the animal we see.  It gets us all laughing and giggling as we moo, oink, neigh and baa to each other and is so easy to do and allows little ones to join in who are just recognising their animals and the associated sounds.

We are just moving into the realms of I-Spy with 5 yr old Miss M, although what she spys with her little eye is not necessarily something we can relate to a few minutes later but an excellent game to get playing to help her with learn the starting letters of words.

An important must have on a long journey is a little stash of food – preferablly non messy.  I try to big dry foods so even if they leave a few crumbs they can be easily hoovered away rather than a gloopy, smeary mess.   We like to try raisins, grapes, breadsticks or a little pack of chewy sweets as a treat.

I try to pack a little bag of activities for each of the to play in the car.  Miss M has her Leappad which she can sit playing independently and also some magnetic fairy books with a few magnetic pieces she can move across the pages.  Mister B who is 2 is a bit harder to entertain as he tends to drop things on the floor but he does have a little magnetic drawing board which is handy to take along with a couple of chunky cars which he can drive up and down the side of his car seat.

An important thing to remember with little ones is that they will get tired and drop off on a long journey so make sure you pack any cuddlies they like, for us Mister B has Sammy the Turtle and Miss M has a soft rabbit blanket that she wouldn’t sleep without.  So if you have kept them active for half the journey, given them a good feed then with any luck they should hopefully sleep for the latter part of the journey giving you some well deserved peace, adult chat and music from your own iPod!!

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For me, a journey with young children is unpredictable but with a little preparation can often go better than expected and before you know it you’ve arrived at your destination.

This post has been written for the Jolly Journeys car journey tips for Travel Supermarket.  To find out more about their car hire service check out their UK car hire page.

 

Pirate Shapes by Orchard Toys – A Review of the game

Pirate Shapes – a fun and educational game from Orchard Toys, really appealed to me as it is one of the few turn taking games available for young children.  Suitable for ages 2 and half plus, I had the perfect candidate to test it out – Mister B.  Having an older sister who loves her games, he always takes an interest when we play but usually is too young to understand the rules.

 Pirate shapes - Orchard Toys

Suitable for 2-4 players, Pirate Shapes comes with four brightly coloured, high quality cardboard picture boards, each with six shapes cut out.  The object of the game is to complete your board using overturned shapes in the centre of the table and take turns in selecting a shape and to see if it fits your board.

Being a simple concept it was really good to see how well Mister B picked up the idea of taking turns and definitely a great introduction to game playing for him.  Five year old Miss M was very encouraging and loves to help him although being the older sibling, she took the more tactical approach in selecting her shapes and always completed her board first!!

This didn’t bother Mister B who was happy and smiley every time he found all his shapes and gave himself a little cheer.  The other major educational benefit to Pirate Shapes is shape recognition, along with learning colours and we even spotted a few patterns.  I’ve found that Mister B is the perfect age to benefit from the learning aspects of this game.  He already recognises some basic shapes and colours so Pirates Shapes reinforces these along with teaching him a few more.

We’ve loved playing this game, and even when on his own Mister B has enjoyed playing the game like a puzzle, finding the correct shapes and fitting them to the boards.  A great game for two young siblings to play together.

Please watch our short review video of Pirate Shapes in action:

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions. We are not paid for reviews although we do receive the product to try out and enable us to write the review.

Animal Safari by Orchard Toys – Review

Animal Safari is a fun, tactical board game from Orchard Toys suitable for ages 5+.  With Miss M being a huge fan of games and loving her Orchard Toy collection I knew this was sure to be a hit and I was also keen to try a game with a higher starting age to give Miss M the challenges she needs and thrives on.

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The game is suitable for 2-4 players who use a stand up jeep playing piece to move from the camp in the centre of the board, around the board hoping to collect some animals before returning to camp.  There are various viewing points across the Animal Safari board that if you land on you can pick up an animal card.

To move around the board are two dice and this is where the game gets interesting.  In place are the number six on each, is a picture of binoculars, and rolling one of these allows you to take an animal card of your choice from another player.  You can also tactically use the amount rolled on the dice to determine where you land on the board by either moving the amount on just one of the dice or the total of both.  By having to total up the two dice also brings in basic mathematical skills which is perfect for young players.  Miss M who is 5 is just learning basic addition in her first year of school and I felt this really benefitted her in practicing without realising it.

I was surprised by the variety of different animal cards – to include monkeys, parrots, flamingos, lions, tigers, zebras, meerkats, giraffes to name just a few.  They are all brightly coloured and fun pictures to look at which helped add value to the game.  Miss M loved looking at them and picking her favourites when she had the opportunity to take some from my pile.

Animal Safari retails at £11.75 which we think is good value for such a durable lasting game that is fun, enjoyed by all and contains hidden educational aspects.

Please watch our short review video of the game in action:

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions. We are not paid for reviews although we do receive the product to try out and enable us to write the review.