10 January 2020

Road Trip Adventures in the Scottish Highlands

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As a family we absolutely love exploring our beautiful country. No matter how many times you visit the same place in Scotland, there’s always something new to see and discover. Last November we took our annual trip up to the fabulous Landmark Cottage in Berriedale, and as always we weren’t disappointed by the treasures it gifted. We arrived a little earlier than planned but luck was on our side. The lovely Judith had just finished cleaning the cottage for our arrival so we were free to unpack and get settled on.


Our first task, after offloading our bags, is to get a good fire going. We now take our own wood with us (kindly gifted from the other half’s uncle) as well as matches, fire lighters, kindling, long burn logs etc. It makes everything easier when you’re rubbish at lighting a fire like me. The other half is quite good at it though and the kids love helping out and getting involved. Even the dogs sit close by eagerly awaiting the fiery warmth from the flames. If you don’t want to take your own logs though then there are details of a local log supplier in the cottage handbook. Give them a call and they’ll sort you out, or if you’re in Wick then pop to the Tesco petrol station as they have wood to sell too.


After our fire is roaring we pop our wellies on to explore the pebbled beach. It’s right on the doorstep of this cottage or should I say the cottage is on the doorstep of the beach! There’s tons of interesting bits and bobs to be found and most magical of all are the seal pups! In November there’s quite a few female seals who visit this beach and give birth so make sure to give them lots of space, and please don’t let your dogs off the lead! This stresses the mother’s and pups so much. They are wild animals so be mindful and be respectful. The kids really enjoy watching the seals and their pups over the weekend of our visits. Sometimes the sea can be very unforgiving though and not all pups make it sadly. It’s an interesting life lesson for the kids though!


There’s plenty of oddly shaped pebbles and stones on the beach, perfect for building sculptures and playing balancing games. The mouth of the river connects to the sea at the side of the beach and sometimes if you’re lucky you’ll catch a seal having a quiet swim or fish jumping around. There’s rumours of otters too but we’ve yet to spot them. Probably because my kids make far too much noise! On our last trip we had a visit from a stoat. It was running around the big beach boulders and in and out of the grass and stone wall. Harlow was amazed and so was I. We’ve found mermaid’s purses before which was lovely and we’ve watched practice sea helicopter rescues amongst the huge waves. Where ever you look there’s something to take your interest.


We enjoy driving further North up the coast on our visits and often find ourselves in John o’ Groats. This time we popped into Stacks Bistro and it was amazing! We’ve visited John o’ Groats at least 10 times or more but never been into Stacks Bistro, what a mistake that was. The food is amazing and there’s a wide selection of tea, coffee and fancy drinks. The d├ęcor is brilliant and so eclectic, love it. We’ll make a point of stopping here again on our next visit.


Whilst at John o’ Groats we decided to take the road up towards Duncansby Head where the lighthouse is situated and there’s a nice walk to the stone stacks. It’s the most north-easterly part of the British Island so well worth a trip. Park your car in the spaces just before the light house and you’ll see a big stone with information on it. If you walk past the stone and keep going (there’s a wee track in the grass to follow) you’ll soon see the sea on the horizon and the stacks in the water. It’s a lovely walk and totally beautiful, even the kids enjoyed it. There’s loads of sheep running free so keep your dogs on a lead if you have any. When we finally reached the fence at the cliff edge we were treated to a brilliant view of a beach full of seals and their pups beside the stone stacks. I’m so glad we kept walking.


Other places we normally have a visit to when up North are the Whaligoe Steps. A lot of the hubby’s family are from up North and a few still stay around Wick so it’ll be no surprise to hear that his relatives helped to build the Whaligoe Steps all those years ago. There’s 365 steps in total which descend to a naturally formed harbour between the cliffs. I’ve been up and down the steps a few times and I tell you it never gets easier. I don’t know how they managed to lug buckets full of fish up them, I had a small child strapped to me one time and that was hard enough. The steps are currently being repaired but they are 100% worth visiting. It’s nothing like you’ve ever seen before and the views are worth every step and cramp in your legs. 


Each member of the family enjoy all our adventures when we stay at the lovely Landmark Trust Berriedale cottage, that’s why we’ve booked up again for this year!! Creatures of habit but we love it and it’s like coming home in a strange comforting way. Until next time!


7 January 2020

A Relaxing Stay at The Lodge on Loch Lomond Hotel

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A little while ago the family and I were treated to a lovely stay at the Lodge on Loch Lomond hotel. It’s the perfect getaway for those wishing to escape every day life and as you can imagine the views are breath taking. This hotel is in an area of many renowned Scotland Lodge‘s by Loch Lomond and the facilities make it an excellent choice for Leisure, Conference and Wedding guests alike. Located just 23 miles from Glasgow Airport, it’s easily accessible via the main motorway links to Loch Lomond. We travelled from Fife ourselves and it didn’t take us long to get to and was pretty easy to find.


Not far along the road from the hotel are plenty of shops, play park and even a Sea Life Centre. We popped in for a look around to stretch our legs and get some energy out of the kids before heading along to the hotel. The Sea Life Centre was really good and reasonable so I’d recommend going along if you’re looking for something to do with younger children.


There are 48 guest bedrooms at the hotel, a range of conference and banqueting facilities for up to 200 guests and leisure facilities consisting of swimming pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room and laconium. Unlike your normal hotel the rooms at this one are split into different buildings, all very close to the main reception and restaurant area. So basically as the name suggests, like mini lodges. Each room accommodation provides everything you will need for a comfortable stay from cosy bathrobes, complimentary WiFi and an exciting room service menu meaning you might not want to leave the comfort of your room.


There are a few different bedroom types to choose from with a budget to suit everyone. We were given a two bedroom Cuillin Suite which is really spacious with a comfortable lounge area that leads to a double balcony. The Cuillin Suites have been recently refurbished to a very high standard and also offer a new layout. Contemporary in style and offering 2 double bedrooms with a large separate living/lounge space. The master bedroom has the wonderful views of the loch and a state of the art bathroom suite complete with freestanding bath, double shower and Hollywood vanity unit. It’s a great room for families, friends and small groups.


I was really impressed with the size of this suite. We found it ideal with the children as we weren’t all crammed into one room and there was plenty of space for everyone. The lounge space has a comfortable corner sofa and armchair with floor to ceiling units housing a 42 inch TV, cosy carpets and soft furnishings. The kids really enjoyed this space as it was quite relaxing. There are built in straighteners and hairdryer as well so no need to take your own. I used them and they worked perfectly fine for me. Both bedrooms have double beds and wall mounted LCD televisions so you (or the kids) won’t miss out on your fav programmes.


In our lodge building we also had the leisure facilities; swimming pool, jacuzzi etc. The pool is unmanned which means you have to get a code for the entry door from reception, which is active for 15 minutes. So get yourself, and the kids, all ready first before getting the code. Since the leisure facilities were only one floor down for us we put our robes on top of our swimming costumes and put our slippers on and walked down to the pool. It was great as it meant carrying less stuff with us and we could get in the pool quicker. There are of course changing facilities and lockers if you need them.


The hotel has a great location and it’s very own jetty which enables the guests to connect with all that Loch Lomond has to offer and local partners work with the Lodge to provide a range of fun activities to make the most of your stay. The team can arrange an exhilarating speedboat trip, or perhaps a more luxurious 1 hour yacht cruise is more your thing or for the very energetic a bit of wakeboarding or a canoe safari. We never managed to part take in any of these fab opportunities during our stay as it was only for 1 night but if we were staying longer I’d definitely book up.


The 2 AA rosette holding Colquhoun’s Restaurant and Lounge is the perfect place to relax and unwind and watch the changing landscape of the loch. There's lots of room in the big restaurant and the floor to ceiling windows make it the perfect viewing spot. The kids loved looking out onto the loch and watching the sun set. There's plenty of tasty food to choose from on the menu and they have a children's menu as well. This hotel is very child friendly and they have colouring in sheets on the back of their menus and crayons which the kids can use to keep themselves busy.


Service in the restaurant was lovely with very attentive staff, and even though it got busy they made time for everyone. We were served quickly and any questions we had were answered confidently. We were all very happy and full, and looking forward to a nice relax in our beautiful room. I promised the kids another dip in the pool before we left and turns out we had the whole pool to ourselves! Overall a fab visit and one hotel which I'd most definitely stay at again.


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

16 December 2019

Santa's Grotto & Christmas Shopping at the Mercat Shopping Centre Kirkcaldy

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Everyone's starting to get into the Christmas spirit and to help us kick start our own festivities, the Mercat Shopping Centre invited the family and I along to meet Santa in his Grotto. Not only this but they challenged us to a shopping spree. The husband and I split up, with a child each, to see what gifts we could buy each other for under £50. It was a great day out so here's how we all got on.


The kids were very excited to visit Santa's Grotto so we decided that would be the first thing on our list to do. We booked in for the opening slot of 12pm and joined the queue when we arrived. It's easy to book your very own slot online for Santa's Grotto at the Mercat Shopping Centre and each slot is a space of 15 minutes where the grotto elves get you ready to see Santa. We didn't have to queue for long but to keep the kids busy there were little tables and chairs and pictures to colour in.


The grotto was looking very festive with lots for children to see and investigate. There were lots of beautiful twinkling lights, reindeers, snowmen, elves, Christmas trees etc. It looked like a mini winter wonderland which Harlow particularly loved. She was so so excited to meet Santa.


When it's your turn to see Santa there's a lovely elf waiting to tell you what to do and the children get to knock on a little door at the side of his grotto and he shouts for you to enter. Adults can save themselves the squeeze and enter via the red velvet curtains. Inside Santa's Grotto is just so beautiful, a lot of effort has gone in to making it look so appealing and magical for children. Santa was really kind and spoke to the children for a good while, getting a photo with them and asking lots of questions. It was lovely to watch and the kids really got into it.


After chatting to Santa for a bit the children each received a gift and we exited the grotto to collect our photos from the elves. It was a really good experience and one which I'd happily take the kids to again. I particularity liked the fact that there's lots of different options to choose from when visiting Santa. You can go for a Visit & Gift for £4.50 or Visit & Photo for £4. There's also the option of having a Visit, Gift & Photo for £8 or a Family Visit (2 gifts, 1 photo) for £11. You can always add an extra child onto this for £4 and if Granny wants an extra photo that can be arranged at £3.50. So lots of different options to suit everyone.


Santa will be in his Grotto every weekend and even right up until 3pm on Christmas Eve but here's some timings and dates to help you get organised and book your own slot. The Grotto is open on the following; Fridays: (Dec only) 1pm – 5pm, Saturdays: 10am – 5pm, Sundays: 12pm – 4pm, Monday 23 Dec: 12pm – 4pm & Tuesday 24th Dec 11am – 3pm. So get booked up for this weekend coming and don't miss out as it's sure to be popular.


Now that our visit to see Santa was all done we headed to the shops! The husband took Harlow with him to get ideas on some gifts for me and I took Logan with me to get some ideas for the hubby. Whilst myself and Logan popped into Home Bargains first, the other two went along to Boots. Logan and I were really impressed with the selection of gifts in Home Bargains. There was a good selection to choose from but we tried to select things that the hubby would actually use. So what did we purchase? Well we bought a tube of swizzles sweet treats for 89p which has all the classics such as love hearts, refreshers etc. We bought a lovely Christmassy reed diffuser for the hubby to put in his en-suite. He quite likes smellies so he'll definitely use this. We got him a bottle of apple cider to enjoy and a jellybean air freshener for his car ha ha. It smells amazing and he'll totally appreciate it. All of that came to a fabulous £5.36! Not bad for our first purchases.


Next up we went to JD Sports. The hubby is a mad Nike trainer fan (he's got quite the collection) and they had loads in stock at amazing prices so I couldn't resist. Logan picked out a lovely grey pair for his Dad to wear and they were only £35!! Such a bargain. I'll definitely be back in future with prices like this. By now we had about £10 left in our budget so what better place to spend it than Poundland. It was Logan's suggestion and he was spot on as there's so much you can buy for so little pennies. We decided to go for a box of mint chocolates, some rosy apple boiled sweets which came in a lovely jar, bath salts to soothe all those aches and pains, some nice socks, some joke booger gummy sweets and a small caution poo sign for outside the toilet as a little joke. This all come to £7 and our total overall spend was £47.41, I was very pleased.


Harlow and the hubby did a great job with their shopping challenge too. They were impressed with all the offers that Boots had on and managed to buy me some Soap and Glory beauty products and got a beautiful free travel mug with it. They spent £17.57 in this store. They then made their way along to Home Bargains where Harlow spotted lots of lovely bath bombs to buy me (she'll probably steal them though!). So what did they buy? They purchased a cute unicorn heat pack which you can heat up in the microwave, great for when I have a sore back. They also got a unicorn horn bath fizzer, Radox bath bomb and Harlow insisted on some poopsie bath bombs ha ha. They bought my favourite Toffifee treats, a gorgeous compact mirror for my handbag and somehow Harlow managed to sneak in an Elf on the Shelf! Everything came to an impressive £13.03.


For their last stop they visited Clintons as Harlow wanted to buy me a card. She picked out a beautiful one along with a little candle and a sweet guardian angel Christmas tree decorations. This all came to £9.54 and the total amount spent overall was £40.14. For 12 different presents I think that's amazing. It just goes to show that Christmas doesn't have to cost the earth and you can still find some great bargains at the stores at The Mercat and on the high street.


We were all feeling very pleased with our purchases and a wee bit tired from shopping so we decided to head home and relax for the rest of the day. Everyone loved Santa's Grotto and very much enjoyed our shopping challenge. The Mercat Shopping Centre always have some fab family friendly events on throughout the year and I'm sure we'll get involved in them again. Remember to book your slot to see Santa in his Grotto very soon as I can see it being popular.


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

13 December 2019

Review: The Magical World of Moji Pops

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Back in March 2019 a cute new toy hit the UK shelves, the lovely Moji Pops Series 1! My daughter loves a collectible and she noticed them in the shops straight away. I think our first purchase was a blind bag picked up in a supermarket to keep madam quiet in the trolley ha ha. From then on her love of Moji Pops has grown considerably and we seem to have accumulated quite the collection. Harlow was lucky enough to have been recently sent a fabulous bundle of Moji Pops to review so here's what we thought.


Firstly let me describe to you what Moji Pops actually are. They're small collectible figures made up of everyday objects brought to life as unique, fun-loving characters with an array of colourful emotions based on popular emoticons. From an ice cream to a cactus, a television to a pillow, each 90p blind-bagged character has a removable double-sided face: flip it over to switch between emoticon-based expressions depicting a huge variety of sentiments, or even swap faces completely with another character in the collection.


Kids can choose to switch their character’s mood from sleepy to happy, sad to cool, devilish to angelic – there are six different-coloured face pieces, each with two distinct emotions to alternate between. There are 90 different characters to collect, from the worlds of pets, home, nature, travel, music, food and sport, including six ultra-rare Glitter Moji Pops. We haven't found any glitter Moji Pops yet but miss madam is hopeful.


Harlow particularly enjoyed swapping faces on each character. There is a big variety of emotions to choose from which is great for imaginative play and making up little games as well as expressing emotions. I like that it helps children to recognise different emotions and also introduce them to new ones. We were sent a few different play sets to try out as well as some blind bags and Harlow loved them all. We received the Moji Pops Tree House (RRP £25), Moji Pops Ferris Wheel (RRP £25) and Moji Pops Pool Party (RRP £30).


The Tree House and Ferris Wheel already come fully assembled. You just have to pop everything out of the packaging and you're ready to go. The tree house is super cute and comes with 2 Moji Pops characters (Heggar and Vulfin) who seem to love eating pizza! It looks like a bit of a sleepover tree house as it also comes with little sleep masks for the characters, pizza and pizza box, bowl of popcorn plus table and chairs. Harlow really liked the pizza box because the pizza fits inside it nicely. The tree house itself has some cool features with a rope elevator, swing and telescope to look out at the starts. Lots of imagination play to be had with this set.


The Ferris Wheel is just as awesome and comes with 2 characters, Lony and Icy, who love a bit of ice cream and fairground rides. Also included with this set is a scooter for your characters and some ice cream and candy floss. There's holes in the fair stand to put the ice cream and candy floss in which is a nice touch. The Ferris wheel of course spins around and around and you can put your characters in each pod to have a good old time at the fair.


The Moji Pops Pool Party has to be assembled however it comes with very clear to follow colour instructions so it took all of 5 minutes to make once I got everything out of the box. There's lots of lovely accessories in this pack including; 2 characters, a flamingo rubber ring, 3 cocktails, pool slide, life guard chair plus 2 sun loungers and a table. This set reminded Harlow of her holidays abroad and I think it's her current favourite. The flamingo rubber ring sold it for me, it's super super cute and perfect for any pool party. The pool party set has lots of features with a pool, DJ booth, dance floor, bar area and chill out zone. It really is very cool.


These Moji Pops characters truly love living life to the full! They inhabit a world of sheer enjoyment and the accompanying accessories and toy range aims to bring this world to life, offering hours of role-playing potential for young Moji Pops collectors. Harlow really loves collecting hers and gets very excited when she's treated to a new blind bag. I don't mind buying them either since they're so cheap and it keeps her happy when we go out shopping.


So if you're still looking for some presents for the kids in your life then I'd highly recommend these. They're a nice set to give for Christmas, looks decent and can be added to with the collectible factor and they're reasonably price. In fact I think TheToyShop.com currently has 20% discount on Moji Pops right now so it's worth having a look. Harlow really likes her Moji Pops and the play sets, they're a definite favourite in this house.


We were gifted these items in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

9 December 2019

Review: Don't Upset the Llama Game by Tactic

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Everyone loves a good board game on Christmas Day and even better if it's just a bit more fun and a bit different to the rest. If that's you then look no further! I have found the perfect Christmas Day game to play with all the family... Introducing Don't Upset the Llama by Tactic. It's a super fun, action packed game sure to keep your kids engaged and the adults even more so. It's punch line is - Grab It First, Or Get Soaked - if this doesn't speak to kids these days I don't know what will.


It's also National Llama Day today so even better that I'm here to tell you all how fabulous this game is. The family and I were sent it to review and we were so glad to receive it. So what's in the box? There's a Llama spray gun, 64 cards, special dice and some rules. If you haven't guessed already you're going to get a bit wet playing this game but honestly it's all in good fun.


Don't Upset the Llama is really easy to play. You can have between 2-4 players and each game should last around 15 minutes. To set up you simply fill the Llama spray gun with water, shuffle the cards and deal all of them out between the players and the players place the cards in front of them as face down decks. You then place the Llama in the middle of the table. It may be a good idea to have some tissues or a small towel handy as well. The dice is then given to a player to start. You could give it to someone who last got unexpectedly wet! Now you're ready to play.


The players now take it in turn to role the dice. There are 4 different possibilities that can happen when rolling. You will either get to turn 1 card over, 2 cards over or 3 cards over or you could get the Llama. If you turn one card over and there's a horn or spay on it then that player gets sprayed. The player to their left gets the honour of doing the spraying. If you turn over two cards it's very similar. You get ready to check the second card for a spray or a horn and if there is one all players can try and grab the Llama. It's exactly the same for the three cards as well. If you get the Llama when you role the dice though then it's a mad free for all to grab the Llama first. If you grab the Llama on two cards, three cards or the Llama free for all then you can spray anyone you like! You've got to be careful though, if you grab the Llama by accident then you get sprayed by the person on your left. The games ends when one player has been sprayed four times by the Llama. The driest person wins.


We really really loved playing this game as a family. The kids had crazy amounts of fun trying to grab the Llama and spraying Mum and Dad. The laughs we had and the screams of delight and dread were brilliant. We haven't had this much fun playing a game in a long time. It's aimed at ages 6+ but with it being so easy to understand even my 4 year old daughter got involved. We were watching ITV’s How To Spend It Well At Christmas on Tuesday evening and my little girl got super excited when she spotted Don’t Upset the Llama on TV. It's sure to be one of the best games to play at Christmas this year and I'd highly recommend.


If you don't believe me then the game has recently been awarded “Recommended’ status by The Good Toy Guide and acknowledged for encouraging concentration in children. There's also a handy online video you can now watch to get a feel for the game. Check it out on the Tactic YouTube Channel.


This game retails for around £14.99 and as I've said we loved every minute of it. The kids never got bored of soaking us and wanted to play again and again. It's a definite game changer for our house and a guaranteed boredom buster. It'll get the energy going in the room again after being stuffed full of Christmas dinner so it's worth having to hand. Your reaction timing is key so you'll soon find out who's the slowest when they're dripping from head to toe! The Range are currently selling Don't Upset the Llama for £12.99 so pop over a grab a wee bargain.


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

8 December 2019

Review: Bandai Foodie Surprise Food Carts and Takeouts

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My daughter is quite crafty and loves to do things with her hands. She also loves collectibles and cute little toys so when we were asked to review some of the Bandai Foodie Surprise treats we couldn't say no. Foodie Surprise are a great invention, you basically collect, create, eat and repeat it's that simple and easy to do.


You might be wondering though, exactly what is Foodie Surprise? Is it a collectible? Is it a craft? Is it a sweet? Will it entertain the kids? Well, the answer is YES to all! Foodie Surprise from Bandai is the world’s first sweet making collectible. Each Foodie Surprise comes with everything you need to make yummy gummy sweets in an adorable collectible. The kids will love making their very own DIY gummy treats!


So it's a very cool DIY sweet making kit with cute toys and accessories included. We were sent a couple of their Food Carts to try and there's four to collect – Pizza/ Sushi/ Ice Cream/ Bubble Tea - each cart becomes the mould to create your sweets and each comes with a sweetie storage collectible and at least 10 surprises inside. This is series 1 and there are 4 different themes to collect in 2 colour ways. You can make 12-15 sweets which are not only edible but a super-fun activity for children come rain or shine. It's the perfect treat to make and share with friends.


If you’re not in the mood for some street food then why not grab a Takeout Box. We also received a couple of the Foodie Surprise Takeouts to try which are so sweet. Each mystery takeout contains all the magic ingredients needed for making your own custom candy creations, plus an adorable collectible character for taking your gummies on the go. It’s as easy as A, B, C a) unbox your food cart or take out b) mix the magic ingredients and create your sweets c) eat now or take to go.


Foodie Surprise is the perfect, delicious treat to keep the kids busy or even as an activity for a birthday party - letting their creativity run riot. Harlow totally loved hers. She got so involved in making everything and wanted to do it all by herself. It was simple to do as there's step by step coloured picture instructions so you really can't go wrong.


I really love the Foodie Surprise packaging. It's so fab they've shaped them like take out boxes and they're very colourful and eye catching. On the side of the box for the Food Carts it shows you all the different carts that you can collect (4 different themes in 2 colour ways). In the top right hand corner on the front of the box it also shows you which cart is inside in case you want to pick a specific one.


The first Food Cart that Harlow opened contained the Bubble Tea collectible number #1901-05, it has the pink and green bubble tea cups. We also had all the moulds, equipment, ingredients and instructions we would need to make our gummy treats. The bubble tea cart was very cool. There's lots of little places to store your gummies once made plus it has straws on the side of the cart and the orange slice because a key chain, such a lovely touch. We got busy making our edible bubble tea, Harlow was very good at following instructions and making each mould. Everything turned out really well, better than I actually anticipated so I was very impressed.


The Food Carts retail for £15 each and they'd make such an amazing present. It kept my daughter occupied for a whole morning and stopped her complaining of boredom. She took care to make her treats and when that was done she happily played with the collectibles. I'd definitely recommend the Food Carts, excellent toy with added value.


The Takeouts are just as lovely and retail for £8. There's 20 different Takeouts to collect and again they come with everything you need to make yummy treats plus a Foodie Surprise Takeout collectible. We got the mini bubble tea and mini pizza in ours so decided to try and make some sweet pizza. It was a lot quicker than making the Food Carts treats but still lots of fun. The gummies didn't work out quite as well as the bubble tea but Harlow had lots of fun getting stuck in and she's already asking for more!


I really think these are great toys for kids, I know I would have loved to have had them when I was little. The DIY element is so appealing to children as well as the collectible side and it's great once the sweets are all eaten you still have something to play with afterwards. I can see I'll be popping to the shops to purchase a few of these for Harlow's birthday soon.

The Foodie Surprise items were gifted in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

 

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