Thursday 31 August 2017

Brainstorm Toys Inflatable Mega Globe *Review*

I think it's always a bonus when something educational appeals to children by making it more fun and playful. I remember learning geography when I was younger and it can be a a bit of a dry subject ..... although I do wish I'd paid slightly more attention, my geography really isn't that great (but I won't dwell on that!). I'm pleased to say that Alfie especially is wanting to more about the world we live in and other countries so any way to encourage his learning is a bonus. 

We were recently sent this fab inflatable globe to use from Brainstorm Toys and review, I was hoping it was going to arrive before we went on holiday but sadly arrived while we were away otherwise it would have been a great toy to use in the swimming pool. It comes neatly packed in a small box so fab to pop in your suitcase and use while away. I needn't have worried though as it has been played with tons while we've been at home come rain or shine. 

It's been fun showing Alfie various places we've visited over the years and also pointing out places he has been to and would like to visit in the future. He's also been asking where a variety of animals reside (well mainly reptiles) so it's been great to be able to show him on the globe where the anacondas and pythons live! What I like about this globe is that it's easy to read and is super bright and colourful. Included in the box are ideas for a handful of games that can be played to increase the educational aspect of the globe but at the same time keeping it fun.

It takes a few puffs to blow it up, I can't lie it took me a while and then when I had blown it up the nozzle didn't want to stay closed so I ended up having to tape it down which is a little annoying but for a RRP of £9.99 I can't really quibble. It's a great globe and I would say we've already got our moneys worth, we've all enjoyed using it!

We will continue to enjoy using the globe, it really is a great introduction to showing younger children the world and countries in it. It's light when blown up and easy to catch and throw about. If you're looking for a nice little holiday toy to play with in the pool then this would be a great choice. Available from leading retailers and with a reasonable price you can't really go wrong.

* Please note we were kindly sent the inflatable globe free of charge in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Best Value Prep Schools in the UK!

*The Best Value Prep Schools in the UK

Prep schools have been a staple of the education system in the United Kingdom for many decades, often producing exceptional results and high rates of achievement. Prep schools tend to take students who either demonstrate exceptional academic ability or, in some cases, after they pay a fee. Fee paying schools have been a controversial part of the UK education system for a long time and have traditionally been perceived as something that is only open to the elite and rich and so drives up inequality in our society. However, especially if one looks outside of London, there are many fee-paying schools where fees are affordable to many people. Below, we look at some of the best value prep and all-through independent schools in the country.

Bristol Grammar School; Infants and Juniors

Fees at the Bristol Grammar School begin at £2,590 per term for the reception year, rising to £3,150 per term for years 3-6. Bristol Grammar was founded as an institution in 1532, by way of a Royal Charter issued by Henry VIII. It’s stated aim when first opened (and unofficial motto) was ‘good manners and literature’. The school has sat on its current site since 1879. It has operated as a prep school since 1900.

Gateways School, Leeds

Gateways School is another great option for those looking for affordable fee rates; fees for the reception year stand at £2,625 per term. These fees rise to £3,178 per term for years 4-6. Part of the appeal of this prep school is its small class sizes. While this means a slightly lower chance of securing a place, it is worth trying, as smaller classes are generally better learning environments.

HLC Highfield Prep School, Harrogate

Highfield Prep School has received glowing reports from Ofsted owing to the specialist teachers it employs for subjects as diverse as French, drama, and music. This prep school believes in rigorous and frequent testing, with the aim of acclimatising pupils to exam situations as early as possible. Fees begin at £2,950 for reception up to year 2 and rise to £3,365 for years 3-6.

Brentwood School, Essex

Brentwood School has received consistently good reports from Ofsted and offers both day and boarding options for students. It is regarded as perhaps the best private pre prep school in Essex. The school teaches boys and girls separately until they reach sixth form age, but all students are free to mix and socialise outside of the classroom. The school sits on beautiful grounds with some 72 acres of open, green space. The school also enjoys state-of-the-art facilities with regular investment in new and improved facilities.
Prep schools used to be something unattainable for most of us, but they are rapidly becoming more accessible and many are now much more appreciative of the advantages of having a broader demographic amongst their students. Particularly bright pupils can also apply to many prep schools based on outstanding academic achievement, opening another route for admission.

Monday 28 August 2017

Uncommon Goods *Review*

I love accessorising my house, since we moved in 18 months ago I've made it a mission to make it feel like our home, ever since we had the fire I've been making an effort to get the homely feeling throughout. We've had several bare walls for a while now and although I've got a load of photos that still need to be put up (yes, yes I know really should have done this by now!), you know what it's like when you move house though...... anyway, I had this one wall at the top of the stairs that was screaming out for something more than just a picture, it needed something that would make a bit more of an impact. Uncommon Goods came to the rescue. I have been fortunate to work with this unique website to review a few of their items. When asked to choose a selection to review, it was tough! There was alot that appealed, this beautiful copper Hummingbird Flower Wall Art really caught my eye. It was simple, subtle and yet had the impact that I was looking for. It really does look super pretty on the wall and with our duck egg blue choice in paint it really stands out, it retails for £57.80 (converted price), designed by North Carolina based artist it has an almost peaceful and hypnotic effect, it's lovely, you can check out his other pieces on the Uncommon Goods website. It truly is beautiful.

Next is this rather sweet little keepsake window jewellery box. I loved this little item, it reminded me a bit of a French style cottage window. I can just imagine peering through the slatted white blinds to pretty little poppies gently waving in the wind. 

When you pop the doors of the keepsake box inside you can see those lovely little painted poppies in their full glory. It really is a pretty little box, I have it sitting in my spare room with the doors just open so it's almost like a window with the view of the poppies just seen. I think it would make a really nice little gift for someone. This retails for around £29.00 in GBP.

The next item is the rather quirky caterpillar bud vase (RRP £16.50) I do like something a little bit different and this appealed to me. I'm yet to put any real flowers in it as I'm reluctant to get any water marks on the glass (I'm guessing it's hard to clean) so I'm waiting to find some nice delicate fake flowers to pop in it. I wasn't sure about it when I 1st received it but now I love how cool and different it is. 

Finally, these rather cute little habit rabbits (RRP around £20.00) massively appealed. I am a lady who finds habits hard to break and when I promise myself I'm going to stop doing something I need something to focus on to help me out. This gorgeous little hand blown rabbit and uber teeny pewter rabbit are designed to prompt and remind you to keep those little promises that you make to yourself. Perhaps you need to drink more water, or are giving up cigarettes or just trying to eat a little healthier. Pop these little rabbits nearby to remind you of your goals. 

So if you're looking for some rather cool and unique gifts Uncommon Goods should definitely be somewhere you check out, most items are available to be shipped to the UK and they arrive quickly once sent. Anyone else love a quirky gift?

* Please note I was kindly sent the items free of charge in exchange for an honest and unbiased review, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Friday 25 August 2017

Fun Activity Days for Kids of all Ages!

Fun activity day ideas for kids of all ages

It seems that no matter what toys and games we give them, what gadgets and gizmos they come up with and whatever plans we make to keep their little minds active, all mums and dads come to dread those two little words, “I’m bored!”
I’ve made it my mission to make sure we can all keep boredom at bay for our little troopers, and part of that is finding a good mix of days out that offer flexibility, ease of access and, of course, that all important budget-friendly factor. I’ve put a few suggestions for you below, but if you’ve got any of your own ideas, you know how to get in touch!
Colchester Castle
I’ve always had a soft spot for Colchester Castle, maybe because of its strong links to the Romans and the Normans. They keep things active here with talks, guided tours and plenty of exhibits, all of which offer an insight into the castle’s role in British history on a wider scale. What’s more, it’s not that pricey to get into and it has the obligatory gift shop where the kids can pick up some knick-knacks for the journey home.

Legoland Windsor
It feels like no list of attractions is complete without a mention of Legoland. Even after all these years, its intricate models, superb set pieces and great range of rides still impress. Kids are always up for having a crack at the driving school, while the lesser known rides like the boat course and castle exploration experience provide plenty of other ways to see the sights.
Harry Potter Studio Tour
Kids’ movies tend to get the adults excited as much as the little ones, so there’s definitely something that everyone will enjoy on the Harry Potter Studio Tour. They’re always bringing in new props and extras from the films to marvel at, including the costumes as seen in the Wizarding Wardrobes exhibition. Another new favourite is the Forbidden Forest, which even has a full size model of Buckbeak in attendance.
Go Ape
There’s obstacle courses and forest adventures scattered all over the UK, so there’s always some kind of opportunity to get out and explore nature in your local area. I like Go Ape because their activities mix the more genteel, like cruising on a segway scooter over the forest floor, with the more daring, like ziplines or climbing ropes. While not all of us can keep up with the little ones as they make their way through the complex mazes, it’s always fun watching them burn off some energy – and it cuts down their screen-time significantly to boot.
Altogether, I think there’s a superb variety of activity days you can take kids on these days, and it’s growing all the time. If you’ve got any insights on any lesser known ones I’ve maybe missed, definitely get in contact!

Thursday 24 August 2017

Bluestone Wales Review *Part 2*

Better late than never, I'm back with part 2 of our Bluestone, Wales review. The days have turned into weeks and then a month or so passed since my last post, I have been crazy busy recently it's hard to fit life in! On with our 2nd post, you can check out the 1st post by clicking here

After a very restful night, we were having a quiet day, I had pre-booked dinner for later in the day so there was no need to worry about sorting food. My 2 absolutely love swimming and water so naturally our first stop of the day was the Blue Lagoon. The leisure area is open to the public so naturally this can get quite busy (even out of season and during school times I hasten to add), however there is a residents only time early on in the morning when it is a little quieter. To get to the Lagoon from our lodge (Preseli View) there is a bit of a trek, it's not mammoth but with 2 kids it does take I would say about 15 minutes. For obvious reasons I haven't got any pictures to share from the Lagoon itself but you can have a nose at some of the pictures on the Bluestone website to get a feel for it. I thought it was absolutely fab! The changing rooms are pretty clean and there are a generous amount of cubicles and family sized ones too which is a bonus, it does get busy at peak times but we waited only a couple of minutes to grab a family cubicle. The pool itself is heated to a perfect temperature so non of that take your breath away malarkey, it's a bit like entering a bath. There is a little toddlers cove set away from the main pool which is really lovely for the smaller ones, although that being said even Alfie enjoyed some quiet time in their too paddling away in the little rock pools and shooting some hoops. There is also a pirate area with a fun area to play in but we didn't spend much time here as the water is noticeably cooler. There is a wave machine that comes on around every 20-30 minutes, it's brill but beware where you position yourself as the waves can be quite choppy (as I found out!). There are numerous water canons and sprays which also come on which is fun. 

My favourite part, and I would say Alfie's has to be the lazy river. It takes me back to my teen years when I used to go to a popular leisure pool (Kettering Leisure Village for anyone interested, ha!) before it got shut down. There is nothing better than being pushed around by a gentle flow of water from the warmth inside the pool to the chilly Wales air outside, it was fab and we all loved it, I think I counted about 25 times we went round on one day!For those that are feeling a bit braver there is also a Jacuzzi outside, this is for older kids and adults mind so we didn't get the chance to try it out. There is also 4 water flumes to choose from (with height restrictions), Alfie was just not quite tall enough, he was quite disappointed that he couldn't try any of them out but obviously there has to be restrictions to a degree. My husband tested out a couple and seemed to have fun though. As you can see there is tons to keep everyone occupied, we spent alot of time at the Blue Lagoon!

After finishing at the Blue Lagoon (we must have been there over 2 hours) we headed back to the Lodge so little lady could have nap before heading to the Farmhouse Grill for some dinner. After Elarna had caught on some well needed zzz's wee changed and had a wander down to the little village area and play parks. The weather was actually lovely at this point with no rain and plenty of blue skies so I made sure I snapped plenty of pictures, the area around the lake is so lovely and we even spotted a little family of ducks hiding in the reeds.....don't worry we stayed well away and were very respectful of them, they were very cute. 

The green areas surrounding Bluestone really are lovely. I imagine there are lots of areas we didn't even discover during our short stay, in the warmer months I bet it is lovely to explore a bit more. If visiting though you must remember to take some comfy shoes for all that walking, I am so glad that I packed my converse style trainers as they are pretty much ALL I wore while I was there. Actual god send. 

The play areas near the village are lovely, lots for all ages to do with the usual play park equipment and although busy no problem with not having any play equipment spare. We spent a good 45 minutes here before dinner, we also had a little wander down the street where there is a little village store stocking the essentials, a very cute toy store, bakery, pub and restaurants all in one convenient place. The booking office is also situated in this area should you need to speak to a member of staff during your stay. All in all a very useful area situated conveniently for all staying at Bluestone. 

As mentioned earlier, I'd pre-booked our reservation using the handy online area meaning we could book any meals and activities prior to us arriving. These do get booked up well in advance so I'd recommend booking sooner rather than later otherwise you may be disappointed. I opted for the Grill as it looked family orientated with a decent menu to choose from. I had to pay a reservation fee and we had to arrive within an allocated time to ensure we got our seats. This was fine as we made sure we were in the area at the time but the allocated time to arrive was only something like 5 minutes either side so this is something to bare in mind if you are rushing around or trying to herd a troop of family members out of the door. 

So we arrived to the Farmhouse Grill about 15 minutes before our allocated time. We could see that the restaurant wasn't really overly busy but we still had to wait before being shown to our table, it was no biggy we just had a drink at the bar while we were waiting. We were shown to our table when we were meant to and the rest will be in part 3 of my Bluestone review!! Keep your eyes peeled for the next installment......

Monday 21 August 2017

Little Live Pets Ladybug Garden! *Review*

If you haven't seen Little Live Pets advertised I would be very, very surprised. I've seen them about in a variety of forms and always been intrigued. I'm a sucker for packaging, I'm a marketing persons dream, I'm always attracted to brightly coloured and well packaged items and Little Live Pets immediately draws me in. These cute little critters are brightly coloured, appealing and a whole lot of fun. 

We've been trying out the Little Live Pets Lil Ladybug Garden (RRP £22.99) and I have to say it was very well received by both my 2. Initially I thought maybe Elarna would be more drawn to it with its (dare I say it) perhaps more girly colours? *don't lynch me for writing that* you know what I mean. However, Alfie has played with these little ladybugs alot. He thinks it's absolutely great!

Along with the garden we were also sent an extra ladybug and baby (RRP £5.99), good job really otherwise there would have been a full on war in our house with sibling fighting over who gets to play with the ladybug.  To operate these little bugs there is a tiny switch underneath and they have little bristles underneath which mean they almost imitate a real ladybird. Once switched on you can watch them zip about in the garden and send them on a little journey around amending a variety of the features in the garden so they go in different directions, they can also operate off the garden for more entertainment. They are surprisingly quick mind!

The whole set is really lovely, I like the way you can change bits within the garden so that it keeps the child engaged. For example the little signpost in the middle moves sending the ladybugs in different directions, there are little fences which pull up near the ramps to keep them contained within the garden and the flower can be spun to take the ladybugs up the ramp to the higher level, simple ideas but it keeps it interesting. There is literally no setting up to do other than attaching the ramps and switching the ladybugs on, my kind of toy. Fuss and stress free.  

The ladybugs can be disconnected from their baby by simply unlatching it at the bottom, you can then put them in the garden without them to make them go even quicker, the baby ladybugs when attached do slow them down somewhat. Alfie liked that he could mix it up a bit, I'd often find 2 babies attached to one ladybug and it slowly chugging around trying to build up speed!

Recommended for age 5 upwards due to small parts which I would tend to agree with. However, Elarna did play with them under close supervision. There was no issue with Alfie, I think Elarna will probably get more out of it as time goes on, as much as Alfie enjoys playing with it he doesn't spend hours playing with it like he does with some of his other toys, it does however seem to capture Elarna's attention a bit more. 

There are tons of varieties of Little Live Pets you can purchase, also there are a several different lil' ladybugs that can be purchased separately to build upon the collection. There are lots of different colours and patterns to choose from, I think it's brill that there is more to choose from, these would make perfect little stocking fillers (I know, I know there is a hint towards Christmas there, crazy or what!).

So if you like sound and look of the Lil' Ladybug Garden playset head over to the Little Live Pets website and have a look at the ranges. We absolutely love it and think you will too, it would be a fab addition to a toy collection. What do you guys think?

* Please note we were kindly sent the set in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Wobby Worm Game *Review*

Remember those traditional games you'd play as a young child? Things like hoopla, pin the tail on the donkey, skittles or hungry hippos? I often find these type of games never die a death and tend to be resurrected and loved by children and adults alike over the years. We've recently been sent a take on hoopla called wobbly worm by Spinmaster (RRP £19.99). The concept is very simple, get 3 hoops over the worms head to win!

The game itself is very simple to assemble, batteries aren't included which is worth noting otherwise you may have some disappointed kids if you can't get it to work straight away! The fab thing with this game is it grows with your child so you can start of with the worm short and add the extra tubes to make it taller depending on the age of the child. This is all well and good but both my 2 insisted on it being on the tallest setting! The trouble is the taller the worm the more challenging the game, but that didn't really stop both Alfie and Elarna having a whale of a time with wobbly worm.

What do Spinmaster say about wobbly worm?
  • Designed for pre schoolers but lots of fun for the whole family
  • A great way to improve hand eye coordination while keeping the kiddies entertained and engaged
  • Quick and easy set up so no children getting bored waiting for the game to be started
  • As your children grow wobbly worm does too
  • A fab gift for age 3 and older
  • Carries a reasonable price of £19.99

One sunny afternoon we put wobbly worm outside to play with it. Elarna just thinks it is absolutely brill, she loves the way it moves around, to be fair she has no clue about the concept of the game but she just loves hooking the rings again and again again. Alfie with him being 5 gets the idea of the game more than she does but yet he doesn't take as much interest in it as Elarna. 

The concept of the game is as simple you get given a set of coloured hoops and try and loop them over the worm while it's wriggling and moving away. We've all had a go and it's not as easy as it sounds, especially if you stand a bit further away from it. What it is though is a ton of fun, it just goes to show that the simplest of ideas are sometimes the most fun and engaging. 

Available from leading retailers it would make an ideal birthday gift for pre schoolers. At £19.99 it's not going to break the bank and you'll get your moneys worth, plus it's fun to play both inside and outside (assuming it's not chucking it down!). 

Wobbly worm is a fun, colourful and appealing game for a wide variety of ages. It's simple to set up, easy to play and a whole lot of entertainment. The only negative I can find is perhaps if your children are a little vigorous of nature *ahem* which my 2 are a tad the worm can get knocked over so it's not ideal when you've got 2 children enjoying the game and you have to start it over again. It really is a minor negative though and certainly doesn't spoil the wobbly worm.

So what do you think of wobbly worm? Think it looks fun?

* Please note we were kindly sent wobby worm free of charge in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts and opinions are that of my own.

Thursday 17 August 2017

*WIN* £50 voucher for The Baby Box Company!

Today I have a lovely competition for you all! I am working with The Baby Box Company to offer you the chance to win a £50 voucher to spend over on their website. 

A little bit about The Baby Box Company......

Set up in 2012 by Chloe and her Mum Christine after finding that there was a lack of unique and cool gifts to buy for new Mums they set about filling that gap in the market and the company was created.

The Baby Box Company Logo

Both Chloe and Christine pride themselves on offering quality products and five star customer service. They also ensure that the items they sell are practical and useful. The items when sent out are hand packaged with love and in luxury packaging to ensure they arrive in pristine condition. Not only does The Baby Box Company offer a range of beautiful, traditional white hampers but they are now offering a range of personalised items also. There really is a lovely selection of items to choose from so I'm certain that you'd be able to find the perfect newborn gift to give. 

If you like the sound of this then enter the competition below to win a £50 voucher to spend online. Perhaps you'd treat Mum to be with a scented candle? Or perhaps one of the lovely hampers or personalised blankets that can now be purchased. There is lots of choice so head on over and have a nose! 

Entry is via the Rafflecopter below and is for UK entrants only. Winners will be notified via Email and Twitter so please ensure you leave a regularly checked contact method. Thanks and good luck!

* Collaborative Content.

a Rafflecopter giveaway