4 July 2019

Review: Doodle Doo Game by Tactic

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It's finally the school Summer holidays and I'm looking for lots of different ways to keep the kids busy, occupied and not fighting with one another! So when the lovely people from Tactic got in touch to see if we'd like to review their fab new game, Doodle Doo, I couldn't resist.


So what's it all about? Well Doodle Doo is a fun new board game which you play blindfolded! Cover your eyes with the mask and draw your way through a mealy maze. Each game board has an easier and more challenging gut maze to test your blind drawing skills to the max. Whenever you pen hits a wall, your journey is over until your next turn. It's simple and fun but not as easy as you would think.


Included with the game are 4x double-sided game boards with 8 tracks to try out, an eye mask, 4 whiteboard markers, a sponge, a whoopee cushion and a set of rules. This is a family game aimed at ages 6+ years with between 2-4 players. Each game will last around 20 minutes and with 8 different tracks to try it'll keep the kids entertained for ages.


I took this game with us on a recent road trip and we had such a laugh playing together. Logan got the hang of it straight away and so did Harlow even though she's only 4. We picked a colour of pen each, took it in turns with the eye mask and away we went. The kids took it in turns to hold the whoopee cushion and squash it when anyone hit the side of the gut maze. Any mistakes were quickly moped up by the included sponge so all was good.


It's a lot more trickier to follow the gut maze on the animals than I first thought. Each different animal has an easy side and a hard side with increasing leaves of difficulty depending on the animal. For example I thought the snake wasn't too bad but the cow was super hard! It's good that you have options to choose from though.


So what did we think of the game? Personally I loved it because it's such an easy concept for kids to grasp and follow as soon as you open the box. It's fun, makes everyone laugh and generally just have a great wee time together as a family. The kids loved it because it had the eye mask to cover your eyes as they've never played a game like that before and of course the whoopee cushion. You can't go wrong when you present a whoopee cushion to kids so that's definitely a winner there.


Doodle Doo retails for around £22.99 and it's a great family game to play especially at family gatherings such as birthdays, BBQ's and Christmas. One of my lovely friends even suggested it would make a great adult drinking game for when the kids have gone to bed, ha ha. So much diversity in one box!


We were gifted this game in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

3 July 2019

The Edinburgh International Book Festival for Families - What To Expect!

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Everyone knows that Edinburgh is famous for it's festivals but what about the Edinburgh Book Festival!? It's not just for old stuffy librarians. Oh no, it's much more than random books littered around a tent. In fact it's a fabulous day out for the whole family no matter what age, and I'm here to tell you what it's all about.

The Edinburgh Book Festival runs from Saturday 10th August until Monday 26th August. All events at the Edinburgh International Book Festival take place in venues situated in the tented Book Festival village in Charlotte Square Gardens and along the west end of George Street, just off the west end of Princes Street. I think this is quite handy especially when you have young children, it's great that everything is in one place. It's also easy to get to from the train station or bus depot.


Did you know there are lots of children's events on at the book festival, so much so that there's even a dedicated families page for all the latest up to date info. A lot of the ticketed events are actually FREE as well! How amazing is that. They do book up fast so please make sure and plan ahead so there's no disappointed kids on the day. Most of the children's events last around 1 hour unless otherwise stated, great for short attention spans and also great to cram in more shows.


Searching for shows suitable to your child is easy as well. There's a calendar on the website, click on a day you want to attend the book festival and it'll list all the events available for that day. There's a handy 'refine your search' button at the top of the page which lets you be more specific. Each event has an advisable age when you click into it anyway so easy to spot if it's right for your child. The website has a great FAQ page which is definitely worth a look for all those extra questions you may have.

There's always lots to see and do at the Edinburgh Book Festival especially for children. There's free workshops, characters dressed up milling around and of course some really famous people who have written some great children's books. Some of those include; Julia Donaldson, Harry Hill and Francesca Simon - all have shows taking place over the book festival event.


You won't go peckish at the book festival either as there's plenty of stalls and places to grab some grub and a drink or two. One thing I love about the book festival is that they are happy for you to bring your own food and enjoy the whole atmosphere without even buying a ticket to see a show! They're so kind and just want everyone to come along and enjoy books. There's plenty to nose around at, you'll have fun no matter what you do.


So remember, any shows you want to see I'd suggest booking now and just come along and have some fun with books. It'll be a great day out for the whole family.

This is a collaborative post. All opinions are my own. Photo credit - Edinburgh International Book Festival.

2 July 2019

Review: Carlton Books - Minecraft, Sherlock Holmes & My STEM Day

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Last month Logan received a bumper bundle of books from the lovely Carlton Books to review. As always he's one lucky boy and the books delivered are right up his street. He received; Reign of Terror (Minecraft Graphic Novel), Solve It With Sherlock Holmes (puzzle book) and the four My STEM Day books (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). He started with his favourite, Reign of Terror, as he really likes to play Minecraft on his playstation so he got stuck right in.

Reign of Terror is an epic graphic novel adventure in a Minecraft world. It's an independent and unofficial but that doesn't make it any less exciting to read. It's based on the saga from YouTube sensation Rainimator. The book tells the story of the monstrously evil Herobrine who brings his unstoppable zombie army to cause chaos and destruction. There are only a few who can stop him but they're going to need a lot of luck and some unexpected allies.


The book is filled with lots of lovely pictures and short snippets of text, like a comic book, which helped to keep Logan interested and engaged. He basically read this book cover to cover instantly and started reading it again. I can tell it'll be a firm favourite on his book shelf. Reign of Terror costs £7.99 and is well worth a purchase for those Minecraft fans out there. It would make an excellent gift as well.

Solve It With Sherlock Holmes is a puzzle based book where you have to crack the puzzles to solve thrilling mysteries! Become a super sleuth and use your powers of deduction to solver over 35 logic puzzles with Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. Each page has some weird and wonderful puzzles to complete and even I found myself getting involved. It's definitely a brain food book and gets the old cogs working, great for kids as their young minds are like sponges. Logan loves a puzzle or two and this got his juices flowing. It kept him entertained and quiet on our recent trip and meant he didn't moan of being bored, as he so often does.


This book retails for £8.99 and it's money well spent to give your child hours of fun brain-busting puzzles to solve. Some of Logan's favourite puzzles included The Diamon Box where you had to crack the three digit code, Holme's Dominoes where you have to fill in the blanks to create a continuous loop of dominoes and A Question of Rooms where you locate the area the fitness saw the theft. All very exciting and brilliant puzzles.

There are four books in the My STEM Day collection and they're all lovely. Logan started with the Technology book as he loves it. Technology explains everything about the gadgets and machines you come across in everyday life. Taking you from waking up in the morning through to the last thing at night, you'll find out how technology powers many of the interactions of the average day. Plus there are a host of experiments, projects and activities to try - making technology learning fun.


Engineering is much on a similar level and help you discover how engineering powers everything from the journey to school to your night-time bath, and everything in between.There are tons of experiments, projects and activities for readers to try themselves, and every page is filled with amazing original illustrations which explain engineering concepts in a fun and accessible way.

Science is the same. Why do ice lollies melt? How do your lungs work? How do you digest your lunch? With the help of dynamic illustrations and fun activities, My STEM Day Science takes you through the day and explain how incredible science underpins everything you do. Starting in the morning and working through the day, you'll find out how science lies behind so many everyday tasks and objects. Logan really enjoyed this one as he's always fascinated by science and why things work the way they do.


Logan is really good at math but hates actually putting pen to paper in school so this My STEM Day Mathematics book really helped put a fun spin on it for him. I really liked it as it uses math in every day situations like telling the time, money, volume while taking a bath etc. It just makes it a lot more relateable than doing boring sums in school.

Each of the My STEM Day books retail for £7.99 and they are honestly great to have at home for school aged children looking to further develop their understanding of the world around them. I like that they're interactive as well with activities and experiments so not just another book to sit on a shelf.

Logan really enjoyed all of these books with Reign of Terror probably his favourite which doesn't surprise me at all because he loves Minecraft. Carlton Books have lots more child friendly titles on their website so please do check them out. A lot of the books are unusual and heaps of fun to have in your collection.

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

27 June 2019

Family Fun at Zippos Circus

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The circus has arrived in town and not just any circus, it's Zippos Circus! They're celebrating their current show 'The Magnificent Top Hat' with 21 years of the world's greatest ringmaster, Norman Barrett MBE. We were invited along to the show in Dundee this week and couldn't wait to see what magic was in store for us.

Arriving at the circus 30 minutes before show time meant there was ample parking and time to collect our tickets before joining the queue to take our seats. We were only waiting 5 minutes before we got taken in ready for the show to start. There was an opportunity to grab popcorn, juice and candy floss as well as flashy light toys for the kids. These were kindly gifted so the kids were mega happy.


We were so lucky to have front viewing ring side seats, right at the very front of the show where all the action would be taking place. The good thing with the circus though is that no matter where you sit you're still going to see everything that's going on. Some acts stay on the ground whereas some are twirling through the air!

The show opened with the fabulous Paulo dos Santos, a brazilian native of 3'6 tall with bags of personality and character. He's the perfect comic, acrobat and all round showman. His boundless enthusiasm and energy kept the crowd engaged and entertained throughout the 2 hour show. I honestly don't know how he does it, the kids loved him.


Throughout the show there's visits from the Timbuktu Tumblers who feature some high speed tumbling, pyramids, hoop jumping and fire limbo! There's Elbernel Ebby the gorgeous contortion artist who does some amazing things with her body. I wish I was that bendy! Toni & Nikol the knife throwing duo who left me holding my breath for far too long. I don't know how Nikol keeps her cool but I was slightly jealous of Toni throwing knives at his wife, I wish I could do that to the other half some times ha ha.

The Lucius Team had to be Logan's favourites. As soon as 'The Globe of Terror' was mentioned he was pretty much sold. There are 5 incredible motorbike riders in the Lucius Team who risk life and limb whizzing around inside the globe of terror to show you their death defying talents. They get up to 60 miles per hour in such a tiny space. Honestly amazing but at some points I couldn't watch. Hats off to them.


The Revolution Troupe were one of my favs. I loved their zest for life, their little dancing in between stunts and of course their ace rope skipping and acrobatics. Well done guys. And not forgetting the lovely Norman Barrett MBE who was the perfect ringmaster and gentleman. He did a good job of keeping that cheeky Paulo in check and walked the crowd during the 15 minutes half time. He was happy to chat to the audience and even take some photos. Thank you so much.

There's loads more acts in the show and it was literally jam packed. You 100% get your monies worth but most importantly no matter what your age you'll have an amazing time. Like Norman Barrett MBE says "Your're never too old, never too young, never too cool, to go to the circus..." and he's totally right. It's an experience not to be missed.


I wasn't too sure what to expect from Zippos Circus but whatever it was I definitely wasn't disappointed. They really did put on a cracking show with so many impressive performances from the many different acts, it left me in suspense peaking through my fingers a few times. It's clear to see that everyone from Zippos works together in harmony, like one big happy family. Everyone has a job to do and they are very professional when it comes to executing the task at hand.

The family and I had loads of fun. It's a show I'd definitely recommend and we've been telling everyone about it. Zippos Circus has their last show in Dundee this Sunday 30th June at 3pm then they move onto Arbroath then Peterhead, Inverness, Eglin etc. Check out their website for more details, dates and times. You'll be thankful you did!


I was gifted tickets to the show in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

16 June 2019

Family Weekend Fun at The Aberdeen Altens Hotel

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The family and I do love exploring our fabulous country but one place we've never visited is Aberdeen. Lots of family and friends take trips there regularly but it's just never been on our list before, until this weekend that is. The Aberdeen Altens Hotel invited us up for a stay to experience their kind hospitality so I couldn't say no. Staycations are the best and Aberdeen looked like it had a lot to offer.


To make to most of our overnight stay we left the house first thing on Saturday morning. The plan was to take the coastal route and pop in past Arbroath Abbey with our Historic Scotland passes. The weather was on our side with the shining sun and warm breeze so it was looking like a good day to explore. The abbey was so quiet and massive which is perfect when you have two boisterous kids who need space to run around. There was a nice visitor's centre with lots of info to read plus an interesting graveyard. It might sound weird but I really like reading the grave stones and looking for the oldest stone if we can. It's sad when you see the ages of some of the deceased but it's quite interesting reading.


Arbroath Abbey also had a sort of geocaching treasure hunt which the kids could take part in. Normally they don't bother with the quiz type stuff but the lure of a treasure hunt was just too much. They loved it and were so proud of their winners stickers at the end. After this we nipped to the local McDonald's for lunch then headed on up the road to Aberdeen.


Since it was so nice and sunny when we got to Aberdeen we parked along beside the beach where we spotted a good play park for the kids. They couldn't wait to get out of the car for fresh air and play time and it meant us adults could stretch our legs as well. Across the road from the play park was the beach with amusements and rides which looked really fun. We all headed over to take a closer look and discovered Innoflate! It's basically a massive indoor inflatable theme park for the kids to run wild! Once they spotted it they desperately wanted to go in so the hubby sat in the cafe with the coats and shoes and I jumped on the inflatable with the kids. They loved it but my god it's hard work for us adults. I was sweating buckets, definitely better than a gym workout ha ha.


Before long our time was up and it was also dinner time. Everyone was starving so we drove the short 15 minutes from the beach to The Aberdeen Altens Hotel. It's a lovely big hotel with tons of free car parking. Reception is big with lots of seating space and the receptionist was warm and welcoming. She was quick to check us in and explained everything we needed to know as well as answering our questions. We quickly dropped the bags in the room and headed for dinner first as over hungry kids isn't great. The restaurant was right beside reception and we got a table without a problem. They did say they were busy from 6pm onwards but squeezed us in.


The menu was mouth watering and I was really impressed with the selection available on the kids menu. There was something even to suit the fussiest eaters like Harlow. We placed our orders and waited for the food to arrive. It didn't take long at all and the kids wired right in. Everything was super tasty, well cooked and beautifully presented. The waiters were lovely, helpful, polite and always checking to make sure everything was ok with our dinner. The kids got super tired after their main courses so the hubby took them back to the room and I asked for the puddings to go. Nothing was too much trouble and they brought the desserts out on a handy tray for me to walk back to the room. Our room was a tiny short walk from reception so it took me seconds to carry back.


When everyone was settled in the room with their desserts I had a little explore to see what the room offered. We had two lovely double beds, a couple of comfy chairs to sit on with a little table plus a side cabinet with Nespresso coffee machine and tea facilities. The hubby loves his Nespresso coffee so he was very impressed. The was a dresser with a big TV above for the kids cartoons (as lets face it us adults never get to watch anything we want!) and just as you enter the room there's a lovely dressing area with wardrobes which leads onto the bathroom. The wardrobes come complete with robes and slippers as well as iron and ironing board if you should need it. The bathroom had a lovely bath and such a powerful shower which was amazing. Nothing worse than a tap dripping shower!


The hotel left the kids some lovely goodies and they were so excited by them all. Harlow especially loved her magazine and toys for the swimming pool. Once puddings were eaten we grabbed our swimming costumes and headed for the leisure facilities. The Aberdeen Altens Hotel have a lovely pool complete with spa pool, sauna and steam room. There's also a gym if that takes your fancy and a beauty room for treatments. The towels are provided along with a padlock and key for the changing room lockers. Much handier than trying to find a one pound coin or twenty pence! Everything looked nice and clean in the changing rooms as well as the pool and of course the kids had a ball. I actually got to relax in the spa pool whilst the hubby watched the kids so it was a win win for me.


Back in our room we had a good chill out as we were all tired from such a busy day. The kids were exhausted and crashed pretty quickly, it helped that the curtains covering the windows are black out which made the room nice and dark. We all seemed to get a good nights sleep and woke up hungry for breakfast. The buffet breakfast is held in Cairngorm Bar & Restaurant right next to reception so very easy to find. There was everything you could ever need for a tasty start to your day. I had a full Scottish breakfast with haggis, black pudding, tattie scones, bacon and mushrooms. Absolutely delicious. Logan wanted his usual toast and croissants whereas Harlow went for fried eggs then chocolate pancakes. Everyone was happy with their choices.


Since everyone was still feeling a bit tired from the day before we decided it was time to check out and take a nice leisurely drive back home. The sun was shining again and the roads were super quiet so it seemed like the perfect time to head. We really enjoyed our trip to Aberdeen and the lovely Aberdeen Altens Hotel. Everyone was so welcoming and helpful we'd definitely stay again. The fact that family and friends revisit here also gives me confidence that is it a lovely place to stay.

I was gifted a DBB stay in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

12 June 2019

Father's Day Fun in Edinburgh with Moonpig

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Last month my Dad and I attended a fabulous Father's Day event with Moonpig in Edinburgh. And since Father's Day is this weekend I thought I'd share with you some beautiful photos of the event taken by the lovely Elouisa - www.elouisageorgiou.co.uk. She can also be found on Instagram. The photos are just lovely and tell the story of the whole day so beautifully.

Upon arrival my Dad and I were treated to some lovely drinks. The Cannon Ball Restaurant & Bar on Castlehill had every type of drink imaginable. I was driving so I went with a lemonade and my Dad had a beer recommended to him by the barman. We listened to a lovely presentation by the Moonpig ladies then were whisked away to our first treat - card making.

They had a big green screen where we could pose to our hearts content then have those images put onto a card. It was loads of fun and gave us all a right laugh. Our finished article was the below image, my Dad and I riding elephants in Africa! Hilarious. There was so many to choose from, wild west wanted posters, princess castles and fancy cars. Something to suit everyone. Just like the Moonpig website, a card to suit all occasions.

Next up was some very fabulous lunch and then it was on to cocktail making with Edinburgh Gin. I'm hopeless at making cocktails but even I managed to make something tasty. I had a little sip and can confirm it was delicious. We got to make two cocktails each and the Edinburgh Gin man was very knowledgeable.

After that is was onto oyster shucking! I've never shucked an oyster before but when I was little my Dad would go out diving and bring home lots of crabs, lobsters and scallops and I would watch him cut open the scallops with fascination. The oysters were so fresh and tasty and most people had a go at shucking them even if they didn't eat them. All the more for me and my Dad ha ha.

It wasn't long before we had to leave and we got given a lovely box full of goodies to take home each. My Dad and I had a fantastic day thanks to Moonpig and he can't wait to come out with me again on another blogging adventure!


















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

10 June 2019

Wallace & Gromit's Musical Marvels Tour - The Review

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Saturday afternoon was a bit drab and dreary in Edinburgh however we were on our way to the Usher Hall for a fantastical musical treat! We'd been invited along to view an uplifting new show - Wallace & Gromit's Musical Marvels Tour. I'm not sure who was more excited, me, the kids or the husband. We all couldn't wait to take our seats and immerse ourselves in the world of Wallace and his canine companion Gromit.



So what's the show all about? Well it's an interactive experience which features specially created never before seen Wallace and Gromit animations with a live orchestral accompaniment - The Picture House Orchestra. There's lots of different escapades from the cheeky musicians as well as some fab laughs from presenter Matthew Sharp. And if that wasn’t enough, for the first time ever, you can also enjoy the Academy Award winning Wallace & Gromit film The Wrong Trousers with live orchestral accompaniment. It was all very uplifting.


For the first half of the show we watched as presenter Matthew Sharp entertained the crowd with his antics and interacted with Wallace and Gromit on the big screen, who were back stage. Wallace prepares to perform his musical masterpiece My Concerto in Ee Lad with help from the every faithful Gromit but things never really go to plan do they!


The audience were lucky enough to be treated to some fabulous pieces of music from Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody to Don't You Worry About A Thing and the all famous Wallace and Gromit theme tune which got everyone clapping and cheering. Live music really is amazing and the kids were enthralled by it all. Watching some of Wallace and Gromit's hilarious chases and funny moments, as well as Wallace's love interests was so wonderful. To have some even more beautiful music played alongside was just lovely. Cut To The Chase written by Daniel Whibley was a new piece written especially for the show which is so nice.


I loved when the presenter took the stage video camera and went round the different members of the orchestra so we could see how they were all dressed and what instruments they played. The kids loved pointing out their favourites on the big screen and it was nice to give the people the recognition they deserved for such lovely music. Harlow was having fun jumping around and dancing too, the music spoke to her on so many levels.


In the second part of the show is a screening of the famous The Wrong Trousers. We've all watched it so many times at home but there was something special about watching it in a theatre with live music. It made it all the more exciting especially for the children. A totally new experience and one which will be fondly remembered by us all.


It was definitely a grand afternoon out which I'd recommend to friends and family of all ages. Wallace & Gromit's Musical Marvels Tour will also be appearing at the Edinburgh Festival on the 15th & 16th August at The Pleasance so book tickets asap to secure your space. It's been shortlisted as one of the shows you just have to see so I'd get in quick.

I was given a family ticket in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

 

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