9 December 2018

Brilliant Gifts for Mum This Christmas

Christmas is fast approaching this year, faster than previous years I feel! Anyone else feeling like that this time around? Anyway, us mum's do a lot of work at this time of year. Prepping presents for Santa, Christmas parties, Santa's Grotto, ice skating (why!!?), Christmas markets and fairs. It's such a busy time that we often forget to write our own little letters to the big man in the red suit so to help you out a little here's some ideas of what you should be asking for Christmas. Well these are on my wish list anyway...

A New Winter Coat
My old winter coat is amazing but it's getting all ripped now and has finally been relegated to a dog walking jacket (if you know, you know!). So it's time for me to start looking for something else to keep me warm on these chilly winter days. That's when I came across this fabulous jacket from Barbour. I've got a few Barbour jackets so why not add more!

Romance Books
I love a good romance novel and the Pucked series by Helena Hunting is hilarious. It'll honestly have you laughing out load and purchasing all her books straight to your kindle. Highly recommend as a good holiday read or when you've got some quiet time to yourself (as if that'll ever happen!).

Family Photography Session
I've been entering a few Instagram competitions lately and would you believe I actually won a lovely family photo shoot with Diana Baker! How exciting is that. It's not till next year but it got me thinking that this would actually be an amazing gift for us mum's because who doesn't love updated family photos.

Good Old Perfume
Smelling fresh is on top of my list and I am in desperate need of some perfume super quick. This bottle of Scent of a Dream by Charlotte Tilbury smells amazing!! It's expensive but hey ho it's Christmas people. Sometimes you've just got to ask for the more luxurious items when you can.

Xmas Eve Box
It's not just the kids that love a Christmas Eve Box. I really want one too and these cute little boxes from My Pocket Money Toy look so festive. Those cosy socks are right up my street and that delicious chocolate pizza slice has my name written all over it.

12 November 2018

Review: Statement Made Jewellery

I've been growing my little collection of jewellery over the years and I like to add to it now and again when I see something truly beautiful. You might also remember my love of personalised jewellery so when Statement Made Jewellery got in touch to see if I'd like to try out one of their pieces I couldn't refuse!

Here's a little bit about Statement Made Jewellery directly from them: "Statement Made Jewellery was born from a passion for jewellery to have a deep connection with its wearer, to be adorned by all, and to express yourself in new and exciting ways. We want you to feel that what you show the world is exactly who you are, and what better way to start, than with your jewellery. All of our designs are hand picked, wearer tested, positively quirky and designed with the modern woman in mind."

I love their vision as it's absolutely true, expressing yourself through jewellery is like a form of art. It's a way to say this is who I am or this is how I'm feeling today ans the lovely Statement Made Jewellery have lots of beautiful pieces to suit everyone but I'm especially taken with their personalised range.

So I was lucky enough to be sent a fabulous personalised buddha head with round initial handmade customised necklace. The necklace is made from Tibetan silver (silver plated), has a carabiner claw slap and a 18" standard chain although is can be cut to size if you have a specific requirement. You can also add additional chain length as well if you so wish. It's a great thing when you see that a company are so flexible and accommodating with their customers.

This necklace is completely flake and corrosion-resistant (care instructions included) and when I inspected it on arrival it really does look to be of excellent quality. I'm really picky about what jewellery I wear but this little beaut is perfect. It would make a great gift for birthdays or Christmas and comes with a certificate of authenticity, beautifully packaged ready to present as a thoughtful gift. The pink drawstring back is also ideal to keep your necklace safe and clean when you're not wearing.

I've been wearing this necklace for just over a week now and it goes brilliantly with everything. Not matter if I'm casual or in work attire it still fits in plus it's very comfortable to wear. I have quite sensitive skin and some jewellery can make me break out in a rash but not this, it's been great. Also the price point for me is so reasonable, this necklace only costs £14.90 and that includes the personalised letter with it! Total bargain.

A really nice touch is that the necklace also comes with a certificate of authenticity and has the care instructions on the back to make sure you get the most from your jewellery. It's the little things like this that really make me fond of small businesses.

I really would recommend Statement Made Jewellery to family and friends. The quality is there, the price point is amazing and there's just tons of choice. I can even pick some buddha earrings to go with my new necklace is I want. So do check them out at statementmadejewellery.com, especially in the run up to Christmas as there's some lovely gift ideas for loved ones.

I was sent this necklace in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

8 November 2018

My favourite photos from our last trip to the Highlands

In July the family and I visited our much loved cottage near Wick, in the Scottish Highlands, so I thought I’d share some of my favourite photos from that last trip. We'll be visiting again in a few weeks so I really wanted to remind myself how much fun we have up North as a family.

For those of you that don't know the cottage we visit is a Landmark Trust Property and they've done such an amazing job of restoring it and looking after it from when it was acquired back in 2010. There's two cottages you can hire, a small one bed or the bigger three bed that we always go for. A lot of the Landmark Trust properties allow dogs as well, which is fantastic, so we always take the girls. It's a special little holiday for them too and they absolutely love it.

One of the highlights of our stay in the cottage is getting to use the log burning fire. The kids are always super excited to get in and get the fire going with their Dad. Wood can be purchased from local shops or the big Tesco in Wick however we normally bring a bag of our own for convenience and because the kids are impatient!

The cottage also sits on a gorgeous pebbled beach that's frequented by Barry the seal and other amazing wildlife. We always see something different on our visits and one highlight was watching the rescue helicopter practice it's life saving skills in the sea right outside the cottage door. The kids (and us adults) were amazed! There's plenty of castles and castle ruins to explore around the area as well so you'll never be stuck for something to do. We really do love it here.

6 November 2018

Review & Giveaway: Orchard Toys Giraffes in Scarves

Orchard Toys have recently released another brilliant new game to the market for our kids and it definitely doesn't disappoint. We have a massive box of Orchard Toys games in the house and they never get old. We're constantly dipping in and out and they're our most used go to games when the kids get bored. So in true Orchard Toys style the fabulous newly released Giraffes in Scarves is colourful, engaging and ever so cleverly educational.

Included in the box with this game are 24 neck cards, 6 head cards, 6 base boards, 1 colour dice and instruction leaflet. From the box you can see that Giraffes in Scarves is quite a self explanatory game which is great for kids to get stuck right in but as a quick start guide you can; 1 - choose a base board, roll the dice and find a matching card, 2 - turn the card over and add the neck to your giraffe and 3 - the winner is the player whose giraffe is wearing the most scarves.

To break it down a little for more understanding the 6 base boards have different giraffe bodies on them and the 6 head cards (which are the same size as the neck cards) correspond to the base boards so you have a matching head and body for your giraffe. On the 24 neck cards some have scarves (maybe 1, 2 or 3) and some are just plain giraffe necks. It's your job to roll the dice and match the coloured spot you roll to a colour on the back of the neck/head cards. You want to collect as many scarves from the neck cards as possible before you get the matching head for your body. It's really simple to do and once the kids get going there'll be no stopping them.

Some more additional rules for you to follow, if your child is up to it, is if you turn over your matching head card without a neck card then you can't place the head card, you have to put it back on the pile. If you do turn over your matching head card and you have a neck card then you must place your head card and cannot add any more necks to your giraffe. You can still turn over cards on your next turn though to stop other players collecting more necks. So if you happen to turn over another players matching head card on the next turn (and you already have your head card) then you can place their head card on their giraffe to stop them from collecting any more necks. I like a good bit of tactics in a game.

Giraffes in Scarves is the perfect game for ages 4-7 years and can have up to 6 players at a time. My son who's 8 still very much enjoyed this game and delighted in trying to beat myself and his sister with the most scarves. It's also a great size for taking on holiday with you. The box is compact so hardly takes up any space and because the cards are quite big they're harder to lose. If you sadly lose a piece just remember that you can get in touch with Orchard Toys and they'll replace your missing piece for free! Amazing isn't it.

The educational side of this game is really good and one reason why I just love Orchard Toys. Giraffes in Scarves helps to reinforce colour matching skills, encourages counting skills as well as promoting turn taking. The pieces of the game are nice and sturdy for little hands as well so I definitely recommend as a great addition to any family games night for younger children.

Luckily for all you lovely readers I have a Giraffes in Scarves game to giveaway, just in time for Christmas! So to be in with a chance of winning this lovely game please enter via the rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This is a collaborative post. All opinions are my own.

25 October 2018

Spooky Halloween Fun Around Scotland


It's that time of year again where Halloween is almost upon us! The night's are drawing in, the wind is picking up and the sky has become eerie at dusk. The perfect time for the little ones to get really excited about some Halloween events then. There's absolutely tons of fantastic trick or treat happenings going on around Scotland but I've picked a few of my favourites and ones I definitely think child and adult alike will enjoy.

So read on to see some fun places to take the kids this Halloween.

Almond Valley Heritage Centre
We've visited the lovely Almond Valley site in Livingston a few times now and it never gets old. There's so much to see and do here for the kids there'll be no moaning cries of boredom. This Halloween they also have a spooky trail for your little monsters to follow through the park. There's a wicked witches coven, a vampires dinner feast and some ghostly sights in the old mill. Grab your trail sheet and look out for the clues on your spooky quest. Find your way through a world of magic and shadows with mysteries to solve, games to play, and some scary surprises around every corner.

Get creative in the craft area where you can make spooky masks and manufacture monsters. All of this silly scary fun can be enjoyed any day until Halloween during usual opening hours (10.00-17.00) with no need to book in advance.

There's also a couple of very special specific events happening on 26th October and 27th October. Details are below for those brave enough...

Friday Fright Night - 26th October - from 18.00 to 21.00
A little extra horror once the sun goes down, with a scary surprise around every corner, ghost trains to nowhere, and trailer rides circuiting the graveyard. Come dressed to kill. Good family fun, but perhaps not suitable for very young children or adults of a nervous disposition - no advance booking required.

Spooky Saturday - 27th October - the all-day Halloween Party - 10.00 to 17.00
On the Saturday before Halloween there's even more spooky fun going on throughout the day - dooking for apples and other traditional games, crafts and creations, and music for monster dancing - ideal for families with younger children. Open as usual from 10am to 5pm - no advance booking required.

Landmark Forest Adventure Park
If you're visiting Aviemore for the holidays or happen to be passing by then you've got to pay a visit to the fabulous Landmark Forest Adventure Park. Another top attraction which will have the kids buzzing and tired out from a full day of adventures. There's tons of spooktastic fun, especially some weird unexplained happenings around the Wonderwood. Ghost families, terrifying graves of the undead and a place waiting for you at Dracula's dinner table - you're sure to be in for a treat.

As well as the Halloween frights there's the amazing Bamboozeleum full of illusions which my son loves. He made us go round it three times on our recent visit. It really never gets old though. There's also the beautiful Red Squirrel Nature Trail which takes you through the tree tops in the search for these shy quiet creatures. A magnificent Butterfly House full of insects, birds and of course butterflies. The Forest Tower gives you uninterrupted views of the Cairgorms National Park and it is breathtaking. The Wild Water Coaster with it's three fast water slides are a must! There's plenty of space to fit an adult and two kids in a boat but hang on as it's sure to thrill, you may even let out a little scream of delight.

There's so much more to see and do in the park with tons of children's play areas, a lovely restaurant and a cool labyrinth so definitely go for a visit this Halloween.

Blair Drummond Safari Park
Stop what you're doing and take note as Blair Drummond Safari Park have a fun packed HALLOWILD event on full of Halloween surprises right up until 28th October. Not only do you get to experience all the amazing animals around the safari but there's some extra spooky fun to be had. Are you brave enough to enter the Fright Rooms!? Logan (with much persuasion) and I did it. It was quite scary but totally set the scene for a frightful Halloween.

Why not get nice and gooey in the slime making class? Sign up on the day of your visit and away you go, slimetastic! For those not into the slime life you can paint your own animal pet rock and take it home to hide. Harlow loves doing this so highly recommend for the smaller kids.

The safari park also have their very own pumpkin patch where you can choose and take home your own for only £3. And if your kids want to stuff their own bear then visit Teddy Mountain where they can get stuck into the workshop for £14.99 and create their own hugable friend. The experience will last for 15 minutes and the price includes a 16" teddy with a heart, birth certificate and a drawstring bag.

Last but not least a trick or treat trail! Follow a trail with a difference on this self-guided tour.  You'll learn which of our animals were thought to be the ghosts of lost souls, find out who's got vampire fangs and have the chance to meet the magical messengers of wizards and witches. This tour is suitable for all ages. So join us for the treats at the end… and lots of tricks along the way! 

So there you go, some of my favourite spooky events for kids this Halloween. Before to get your tickets soon and join in the ghoulish fun.

This is a collaborative post. All opinions are my own.

23 September 2018

Review: Disney On Ice Presents Dream Big!

It's been a really busy week for us as a family with lots of exciting things going on. One of them being taking a trip through to Glasgow to see the new Disney On Ice show Dream Big. We were all very excited about this show as we knew Moana would be paying a visit. She's definitely a firm favourite in this house with the movie and songs being played constantly.

The show was held at the Intu Braehead Arena in Glasgow this time around which is great as there's ample free parking, tons of shops and places to eat before it's time to take your seat. The kids were also lucky enough to have a little meet and greet with Mickey Mouse before the show started so we took the opportunity to snap a family photo.

We were all soon settled into our seats waiting for the Disney magic to happen and the kids tucked into their Olaf slushies which kept them quiet and settled (i.e. no sibling fighting, win!). The Fit to Dance crew were soon flooding the ice and getting the kids on their feet before the main act. Harlow loved dancing around and copying the skaters.

Then the show began and we were thrust into a world of Disney heaven with minute after minute of amazing songs and jam packed action on the ice. Each character was full of life and recognisable for the kids who loved every minute. There was lots of special effects this time as well with confetti, bubbles and butterflies dropping from the ceiling as well as smoke, pyrotechnics, rope swinging and even fire on the ice!! We were all super impressed with the fire.

Here's a few photos of the show which I think totally speak for themselves but I honestly think this was the best Disney On Ice show yet and if you get a chance to go along then take it. The kids (and you) will love it and it's one of those places you don't have to worry if they're running around and making lots of noise. In fact the Disney crew totally encourage it! So get along to your nearest show and have some fun.

The production will visit the Braehead Arena from 21st – 30th September 2018.

We were given tickets to this event in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

21 September 2018

Explore the deep with the Sea Creatures Tour now in Edinburgh!

We're big animal lovers in our house with a thirst for knowledge and understanding of how the animal kingdom thrives. I remember watching countless videos of David Attenborough narrating a Killer Whale hunt back when I was in primary school and the fascination of the deep blue sea has never left me. Throw in a hubby, son and daughter who are also fascinated by ocean life and you can just imagine the excitement then when we were invited along to the jaw dropping Sea Creatures Tour at the Royal Highland Centre in Edinburgh.

The most fascinating Sea Creatures Exhibition is now in Scotland for the first time ever at the Royal Highland Centre right next to Edinburgh Airport (so it's really easy to find). The exhibit takes place in the Lowland Hall, which is right next to Secure Airparks to give you an idea of location, and it's a big open space in which to view these amazing animals. This exhibition is packed with 50 full body, real specimens, 150 body parts and organs and an interactive digital show. Sea Creatures are inviting family audiences to explore and truly understand marine life, conserving marine species and raise awareness of marine conservation.

It was good to hear that all of the animals had been collected ethically (i.e. died of natural causes and donated) and that none of them were taken from their natural habitats. Raising awareness and conservation efforts is a great achievement for this event considering a lot of the animals on display are quite endangered in the wild.

As well as the beautifully majestic sea creatures on display there is an interactive Augmented reality APP to get involved with. Simply download the app and scan the creatures as you explore the deep. Can you collect them all!? As well as the cool app there's an immersive 9D Virtual Reality experience, double world record minke whale on display, interactive ball pit game for kids, magical walk through holographic gates, a cinema, face painting, henna and loads more. Some of these activities come at an extra cost, such as the face painting, but there's no pressure of course . So much to see, do and learn all in the one place. Never in human history has our appetite for knowledge about the blue planet been so inquisitive and I can tell you now that my kids absolutely loved it!

From 21st September to 18th October 2018 you and your family can visit the Sea Creatures: Life Beneath The Ocean tour and see exactly for yourself why it's a once in a life time opportunity not to be missed. Once it's gone that's it so I highly recommend paying a visit if you can.

To celebrate the launch of this unique Exhibition, Sea Creatures are offering kids go free tickets. One free child ticket with every full paying adult! There is no catch, just visit the tickets website and click through to buy tickets and select the ticket that says 'ADULT with KIDS GO FREE TICKET'. You better be quick though before they're all gone as it's for a limited time only.

I honestly cannot recommend this event enough. If you get the opportunity please do visit, you won't regret it. The family and I spent a good 3 hours going round the exhibit when we visited and I could have stayed longer there was so much brilliant information and facts to discover. My son, who as you know loves a good fact, was in his element and the virtual reality experience plus some face painting totally made his day. He was buzzing! Miss madam chops also thoroughly enjoyed the whole event with the penguins feeding her curiosity as well as the interactive ball pool, drawing stations and sand pit keeping her very happy. A brilliant experience for all the family.

We were invited to view this exhibition in return for an honest review.

13 September 2018

It's Maui Time! with Disney On Ice presents Dream Big

The last Disney On Ice show that we saw was back in March this year with Worlds of Enchantment and it was an amazing show as always. This month we're really excited for the new Disney On Ice show Dream Big which is going to be featuring Moana!! It's a major favourite in our house (we watch it at least once a day) so I can't wait to take the kids along to see it. Here's a little bit directly from the Disney On Ice promotion team to get your juices flowing for the upcoming show.

Audiences will set sail with the wayfinder Moana as she makes her Glasgow debut live on ice in Disney On Ice presents Dream Big. This all-new production, produced by Feld Entertainment, assembles a collection of inspiring stories connected by a cast of characters with a desire to explore the depths, heights and horizons of their dreams. Alongside Moana and demigod Maui are eight tales of courage and heart, including Frozen, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and Tangled. The production will visit the Braehead Arena from 21st – 30th September 2018. Tickets are available from www.disneyonice.co.uk and priority customers can take advantage of the pre-sale to get their hands on the best seats by heading to www.prioritycustomer.co.uk.

Courage leads the way for Disney’s most daring heroines, in this brand-new ice skating spectacular. Travel to the kingdom of Arendelle with Anna, Elsa and Olaf in a dramatic retelling of the sisterly love that saved a kingdom. Jump into amazing adventures with Aladdin as he seizes his chance to outwit his adversaries in the marketplace of Agrabah. Discover uncharted worlds with Rapunzel and Jasmine. Battle the villain Maleficent in the form of a fire-breathing dragon alongside Prince Phillip, igniting the ice in a blazing spectacle. Dive under the sea with headstrong Ariel as she yearns to explore life above the waves and is willing to risk it all for curiosity and the thrill of adventure. And find the inner strength that comes from kindness and determination with Belle, Aurora and Cinderella. Plus, arrive early to celebrate 90 years of Walt Disney’s true original, Mickey Mouse. High-flying jumps, breathtaking skating and lovable Disney friends make Disney On Ice presents Dream Big an experience your family will never forget!

“Disney On Ice presents Dream Big was created with the intention to inspire everyone to explore their world by highlighting the defining moments of relatable characters who became their own heroes,” says Executive Vice President and Producer Nicole Feld. “Having both a daughter and son at home, I knew it was important to present a variety of Disney stories as well as show the connection between these stories and illustrate how a journey can unfold in many ways.”

“Our greatest wish for our guests is that they will be inspired by these tales of bravery and see that anything is possible if you follow your dreams,” says Feld Entertainment Regional Vice President, Steven Armstrong. “Many of the stories we’re presenting – like Cinderella and The Little Mermaid - have been around for generations and stand the test of time. Others, like Moana and Frozen, inspire a new generation of young girls through self-reliance and a belief in themselves.”

Dream Big captures all the magic and adventure of Disney’s immortal tales through cutting edge figure-skating, eye-catching costumes and stunning set designs. Through innovative lighting and thrilling special effects, audiences are transported to a world of imagination, where heroes of every kind seek to fulfill their dreams. High-flying jumps, breathtaking skating and lovable Disney friends make Disney On Ice presents Dream Big an experience families will never forget!

Disney On Ice presents Dream Big will be skating into Glasgow, Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield, Nottingham and London from the 21st September 2018 to 6th January 2019. Stay current on the latest developments through social media @DisneyOnIce.

As you can see the show is going to be jam packed with exciting appearances from the Disney favourites so grab your tickets whilst they're still available and head through to your nearest show. Have fun!

This is a collaborative post. All opinions are my own.

8 September 2018

Review: Bookabees Book Subscription Box for Kids

As you all know we love books in this house and we totally love a subscription box so when you combine the two you know good things are about to happen! Introducing Bookabees. It's a children's books subscription box with a difference, like a little book club, so let me explain firstly how it all works.

Step 1: would be to choose how many books you want to receive each month. There's a choice of 1 (£4.99), 3 (£8.99) or 5 (£10.99). If it's your first time then you get your first month for half price. It's worth noting you can change or stop your orders at any time. Step 2: you fill out your own details and create a username and password. You also fill out your child's details, name, birthday, gender etc. Step 3: you then decide which address the books are going to, when you want them to arrive and of course your payment details. A very simple and easy process to follow to sign up. Of course you can also go into your account to queue books for your child or you can let the Bookabees team of experts do that for you.

Once you've signed up for your first book delivery you wait for it to arrive by post. The books come in a well packaged cardboard sleeve, to keep them protected, and it's clearly addressed to your little one. My two were super thrilled when the package arrived with their names in bold on the front. When opened up the inside of the packaging is all part of the fun. There's a place for your child to give feedback on their favourite book and to draw a picture of it plus little pictures to colour in as well as a quick hints list for the grown ups on what to do next.

Also inside, as well as your surprise books, your child will receive goodies such as stickers, a bookmark, door hanger, meet the Bookabees and the Bookabees yeller. It's all these little extras which make such a special touch. Now that you have your book(s) you get to read them for 2 months before you have to decide to either return them for free or keep them and buy them from Bookabees for 50% off the RRP. It's like having a library of books delivered to your door every month with the bonus of being able to purchase them for half the retail price. Amazing if your child really loves the books, like a try before you buy. And if you don't want to keep them you simply put them back in the package they came in, tape it up and stick the freepost returns label on the front then it's good to go back to the post office. Easy peasy.

Both Logan and Harlow received 3 books each and they're much loved. Logan was lucky enough to get The Story of Trains, Facts - essential knowledge for curious kids and Destination: Space. Three excellent books that he happily delves into before bed time most nights. Harlow received Dogs don't do Ballet, T-Veg and Emily Brown and the Thing. All really lovely books and perfect for sharing at bedtime. Her favourite was Dogs don't do Ballet, it's such a lovely story about following your dreams and doing what you love.

I personally loved this subscription service because it's very reasonably priced, it's delivered straight to your door so a brilliant surprise for the kids to open and enjoy, the books are of high quality, they're very relevant to your child's interests and I like it that you can tailor the books to suit when you log into your account on the Bookabees site. It's easy to add, move and remove books as you see fit so you know your child will be receiving books relevant to them.

Bookabees is a really lovely way to introduce your children to books and a service that I'd highly recommend. You can even give a child a Bookabees subscription as a gift!

We were sent these books in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

5 September 2018

Dreaming of Retirement at 50

I know I'm still a young spring chicken (mostly) but it's never too early to think long term about my retirement plan. I've always had the dream of retiring early and enjoying my life when I'm still young enough to do so. It's one of the reasons why I decided to have children at a young age so I'll still be around, hopefully, when they're adults.

There's so many questions when it comes to retiring; what age is the right age? What will I do with myself? Should I still work part time? Shall I do a once in a lifetime travel trip? So many things to think about so I'm going to tell you what I'd love to do with my life if I manage to retire at the prime young age of 50.

In the past few years I've found a real love for volunteering, basically giving my time to charities for free. I've volunteered at food banks, homeless charities and even helping to dig up and landscape gardens. It's so nice to help out and give something to those who really need our help. It's hard to do it all at the moment but when I retire I'll have a lot more time on my hands and the kids will be older as well. Hopefully I'll get a regular slot at a local charity.

Experience The World
Travelling with my two kids at the moment involves mostly package holidays as it's just so much easier for us as a family. When I retire though I'd love to travel the world to more unusual places and definitely visit some of the wonders of the world. I could start with the 7 wonders and see how I get on from there.

Be a Granny
Maybe by the time I'm 50 I'll be a Granny!! Scary thought indeed but I'd love to help and support my kids with any granchildren that come along. I know how hard it is looking after my two so all the help and support I can give would put a smile on my face.

Ladies That Lunch
The absolute luxury to sit and have lunch with friends and family sounds amazing! A wee afternoon tea with champagne wouldn't go a miss either. I love going out to eat but don't do it often with the crazy kids but I'm definitely going to take advantage when I retire.

Sounds simple but I don't often get the time to sit and relax. I'm always running around after the kids, the husband or the dogs ha ha so I'll be taking some time back just for me. I have visions of sitting with a good book and a hot cup of tea taking in the world as it goes by.

These are some of the things I hope to achieve when I retire. It's not an exhaustive list but definitely some top priorities in there because life after 50 doesn't stop, it only gets better. I'd love to hear what you would like to do when you retire? Please do leave me a comment below.

30 August 2018

Review & Giveaway: More Totally Amazing Carlton Kids Books

As far as book lovers go my son is definitely on the list. He's a major bookworm and loves the chance to soak up as much knowledge and stories as humanly possible. He never ever goes to bed without reading a handful of books first and it's a great way to settle down for the night. No gadgets or tablets in sight thankfully.

Recently Carlton Books sent Logan another two books to review. As you can imagine he was super thrilled and got stuck right in when they arrived. This time he received the lovely The Gloriumptious Worlds of Roald Dahl and The Totally Wild, Fact-Packed, Fold-Out Animal Atlas. Both books are really unique and interesting in their own special way. One is obviously very fact based whereas the other has a bit of fairy tale magic surrounding it.

With Logan's thirst for knowledge of the world increasing the Animal Atlas book is perfect to scratch that itch. It's a book of 32 pages crammed full of interesting facts of animals around the world. As the title of the book suggests there are pages within which can fold-out and shows you a map of where the animals live in what part of the world. It's a very fascinating read and even I found it educational for myself. I certainly didn't know that Mongolia has camels or that Saudi Arabia has desert hedgehogs. Even Turkey has the grey wolf which is amazing.

Logan really enjoyed learning about what animals stayed in which countries but for him it was all about the facts, and there's lots of them! He devoured every page with hungry eyes and especially loved reading about the vampire bats of Central America and the Fer-de-lance snake from Mexico. He also couldn't believe that the  smallest bird in the world is 6cm long and that their eggs are the size of peas! It really is a brilliant book to feed the mind and at £9.99 it won't break the bank.

The Gloriumptious Worlds of Roald Dahl is a spectacular scrapbook of stories, characters and creations. It's a miss mash of everything all lovingly collated into one amazing book. I love the fact this book is full of different illustrations, pullouts, page fold-outs and a secret little letter at the back for your child. It has lots of little snippets of all the good stories you expect from Roald Dahl such as James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda etc.

This book has 64 pages jam packed with the most amazing of details. Logan really enjoyed this book as it's busy with lots of small pockets of information on each page in all different formats. He found it really engaging which meant he wanted to keep reading. I had to drag it off him one night as it was way past his bedtime. At £12.99 it's a good buy and definitely one for the Roald Dahl fans out there.

The lovely people from Carlton Books have kindly agreed to give away two copies of each book so you might be in with a chance to win your very own. All you have to do is enter via the rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I was sent these books in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

29 August 2018

Review: Orchard Toys New Mini Games

As you all probably know we like to do a bit of travelling as a family but keeping the kids occupied (and not fighting one another) on our travels can be tricky at times. Most of the time they're great but sometimes hassling your sibling is pure gold and an opportunity not to be missed. I'm always looking for things to distract the kids from attacking each other so when Orchard Toys got in touch to see if we'd like to review some of their mini games I really couldn't refuse could I!

Everyone knows Orchard Toys provide brilliant games for kids to keep them occupied for hours but did you know they also have a large selection of mini games which are perfect for on the go; in the car, on the plane, in the camper van, by the pool, in the restaurant, in a remote part of Scotland with no wifi! You get the idea and honestly they're so worth investing in. Take it from a frazzled parent who constantly blows the referee whistle.

So what games did Orchard Toys send to keep the kids amused? Well we got the fab Jungle Dominoes and Build a Beetle. Both games are great to play but we'll start with Jungle Dominoes which was Logan's favourite. The game is suitable for 2-4 players and ages 3-5 years but Logan is almost nine and really loves a game of dominoes. I think it reminds him of when I would take him into the hospital to see his Great Grandad and we'd all play dominoes together. Most people do know how to play dominoes but for the avoidance of doubt there's 28 in this pack which you shuffle then deal 7 to each player. The remaining dominoes are then placed face down in a pile close by. The youngest player places one of their dominoes face up in the middle of the table and players then take it in turns to match one of their dominoes to either end of the domino chain. If a player cannot make a match then they take a domino from the main pile. The game continues until someone has either used up all their dominoes or no cards can be played in which case the player with the fewest cards would be the winner.

It's a really straight forward game and very easy for young children to understand. The fact that each domino has jungle animals with bright colours also helps the finding and matching process. Harlow is three and I was surprised by how quickly she picked up the rules of this game and really enjoyed playing it. Don't get me wrong she wanted to make up her own rules at some points (when she was losing) but she generally stuck to the game plan. As well as matching skills this game really helps to promote observational skills and develops personal and social skills. At £5.00 it's a total winner in my book and being transportable makes it even better. We'll definitely be taking this on our next holiday very soon.

Next up is the Build a Beetle game. It's suitable for 2-4 players and ages 4-8 years. Included in the box is 4 nine-piece beetles, 1 spinner board and 1 two part spinner (which you clip into the board). It's another easy simple game to set up and play. You place the beetle pieces number side up in the middle of the table and you're good to go. Players take turns to spin the spinner and to start building your beetle you need a 6 to collect the body. Play then basically continues with each player having a shot of the spinner until all their body parts are collected and the beetle is built. The winner is the first person to complete their beetle. The beetle can be built in any number order apart from the antennae (no4) which can only be collect after the head (no5).

It's a really good fast paced game which helps to develop matching and memory skills, number and counting skills, encourages observational skills and helps to develop personal and social skills. Harlow really liked this game as it was fun to watch her beetle being built piece by piece and she adapted well when she didn't get the piece she wanted. Good for teaching a little bit of patience. Logan really got into the hang of this game so quickly and we played a good few games together, at least best of five.

Orchard Toys have 12 mini games altogether to choose from and at all £5.00 each they're an amazing way to keep the kids occupied on your travels. I personally love that these games are simple and super quick to set up. A lot of the times you can guess how to play and don't even have to look at the instructions. The kids and I really loved these mini games and I'd highly recommend to friends and family. They would make excellent little gifts too.

We were sent these games in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


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