Wednesday 30 November 2016

The Gloriumptious Worlds of Roald Dahl - Review and Competition

I have fond memories as a child of reading my favourite Roald Dahl books over and over again, and they would be the first books I would choose to borrow from the library. My favourites were Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, The Witches. Fantastic Mr Fox and The Twits, but in reality I literally loved them all.

At the time, they were the only books that could really draw me into the story and make me laugh along as I read, and over the years I received many of Roald Dahl's books as gifts for Christmas or Birthdays and I was never disappointed. My children have gone on to enjoy these stories too, and have also built up quite a collection themselves.

However, when stories capture your imagination as much as Roald Dahl's do, doesn't it often get you wondering more about the characters, or simply imagining What Happened Next?

I was therefore delighted when I came across "The Gloriumptious Worlds of Roald Dahl" written by Stella Caldwell, illustrated by the wonderful Quentin Blake and published by Carlton Books.

The front cover of the book features a whole host of illustrations of popular characters, and the book is described as "A spectacular scrapbook of stories, characters and creations". It looked fun and inviting and I couldn't wait to open it up and read inside.

Unfortunately, my son got there before me, and I was pleased to see that after only a short while, he was chuckling away to himself whilst reading. After a bit of persuasion, he agreed to let me have a look through it with him so we could enjoy the book together.

The first couple of pages provided a little bit of insight into Roald Dahl's world, providing some facts and information on where he may have got some of his ideas from, based on his own life experiences. These small pieces of information continue throughout the book and really help you to learn more about the author and realise the inspiration behind the stories.

My son particularly enjoyed the Charlie and the Chocolate scrapbook pages which featured a funny advert for Willy Wonka's invisible Chocolate Bars, described as being perfect for eating in class, along with a letter from a school complaining about Willy Wonka's spotty powder which causes those who consume it to break out in bright red spots and as a result, half of the school was absent due to suspected "chicken pox". My son thought that this was hilarious and a great idea to get a few days off school, if only such a sweet existed! There was also a field guide to "Loompaland" where you can read all about where the Oompa-Loompas live, along with a map and dietery information!

My favourite was the government health warning in The Twits section telling you to be "Beard Aware - Know Before You Grow" informing you of all the things that could be hiding in your beard. Luckily being female, I don't have to worry about this too much, but it made me laugh and go ewwwww at the same time! There is also a very handy guide on How to be a Twit, just in case you ever become interested in the "Twittish Trickery of a Twit" haha!

There is also a lovely end to the book, that I won't reveal, but if you are a fan of Roald Dahl quotes like myself, then you won't be disappointed and I thought that this was a really fitting way to not only end the book, but to also remember Roald Dahl aswel.

The book itself is a 64 page hardback book priced at £16.99. It is designed with a scrapbook theme, with lots of little inserts, imaginary newspaper articles, recipes, photos & letters, and is sure to be a delight for any Roald Dahl fan.

If you would like to purchase this book, then this can be found on the Carlton Books website here: Carlton Books - The Gloriumptious Worlds of Roald Dahl

To celebrate this wonderful book, Carlton Books have kindly provided me with a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader. All you have to do is enter using the gleam form below. Good luck!

The Gloriumptious Worlds of Roald Dahl Book Giveaway

Terms and Conditions:
Entry is open to UK residents aged 18 or over. Any bulk/third party entries will be disqualified. The winner shall be drawn at random from all eligible entries. The winner shall be notified via email and will have 14 days to confirm that they wish to accept the prize. Should the winner fail to respond, then a new winner shall be selected at random from the remaining entries. The winner's details will be shared with the promoter for the purpose of prize fulfillment, which shall be sent directly from the promoter. Please allow up to 28 days for delivery, though every effort shall be made to try and get this to the winner before Christmas.

*Disclaimer - I was provided with this product free of charge for the purpose of this review and to give my honest opinion of this book. All opinions are my own.

Monday 28 November 2016

A Crazy Time with Crazy Claw! - Review & Competition

Thanks to Drumond Park, we have another fabulous game to show you called Crazy Claw in addition to a fantastic giveaway. This game is aimed more at younger children and is recommended for 2-4 players aged 5+.

The game is reminiscent of the popular arcade machines where you try to grab a toy with the machine powered claw. However, in this game, it is you that is in control of the claw, whilst your opponents try to make it as difficult as possible for you to collect the toy tokens that you need. We had already seen this game advertised on television and so we were very excited to be able to try it out.

When I first received the product, I was surprised by the size of the box. It was much smaller than I was expecting, as I had already seen the size of the claw machine in the adverts. This did ring some alarm bells for me as I though uh-oh this must mean self assembly required, which unfortunately is not one of my greatest skills.

The front of the box displays two children enjoying the game, and trying to catch the balls inside. The imagery is a mixture of real products and people, combined with some cartoon graphics, with an area of text describing it as "The Crazy Arcade Action Game". It is bright, colourful and looks exciting to play.

The reverse of the box provides a bit more information, along with a further two images, one of which that shows you what the toy tokens look like inside the balls. There is a brief description of how to play the game which is really easy to read and understand, and this is followed by the contents list and company information.

On opening the box, we found:

  • A Unit Base and lid
  • Folding clear unit walls
  • Grabber
  • 12 balls
  • 12 Toy Tokens
  • 4 Collection Cards
  • 2 Sticker Sheets
  • Instructions
I need not have worried earlier about the self assembly, this was really easy and took me less than a minute to put together. The plastic unit walls simply slot into the base and then you place the lid on top. It was myself that built it on this occasion, but I am confident that the kids will have no issue doing this themselves in the future. The stickers can then be added which the children wanted to do, so that was the longest part as it took them half an hour to make sure all the stickers were perfect and in the right place.

The game is recommended for age 5+ but having had a quick read through the instructions, I felt that the concept of the game was very easy and my 3 year old had no issues in understanding how to play. The aim is to grab the correct balls that have the toy tokens inside to fill your game card before the others. Each game card features three different tokens, and if you choose a ball that has a matching token inside you can keep the token and put the empty ball back into the game, making it harder for your opponents. If you select a game token that you don't have then you simply place the ball & token back into play, whilst trying to remember which ball it was so you don't pick it again!

For additional enjoyment, you can also make the game more difficult for the other players, by tapping like crazy on the paddles that are around the outside of the walls. This causes the balls to bounce around in all directions and makes it harder to both grab the balls, and also to keep track of the ball you want. My children had a great time with this game, and it is definitely one that they won't be getting bored of any time soon.

If I was to make any critical point, it is just the fact that you need to dismantle it and rebuild it each time you play if you want it to remain in the box, as obviously it does not fit when built. You could choose to leave it assembled and store it somewhere else, however with the walls only being made from plastic, I would be worried about damage that could occur, and so for the sake of a couple of minutes it is definitely better to dismantle it and store in the box it came in.

Overall we really enjoyed this game, and I can see this being the first game that gets pulled out of the cupboard when my children have friends round. It has an RRP of £22.99 which is slightly higher than what I would usually pay for a game, however with it being a unique idea that offers lots of fun, I would be happy to pay this.

If you would love to try this game, then I have a fantastic opportunity for you to win one courtesy of Drumond Park. They have kindly provided a prize for one winner, and if you would like to try your chances, then simply enter using the Gleam form below. Good Luck!

Win Crazy Claw by Drumond Park Terms and Conditions:
Entry is open to UK residents aged 18 or over. Any bulk/third party entries will be disqualified. The winner shall be drawn at random from all eligible entries. The winner shall be notified via email and will have 14 days to confirm that they wish to accept the prize. Should the winner fail to respond, then a new winner shall be selected at random from the remaining entries. The winner's details will be shared with the promoter for the purpose of prize fulfillment, which shall be sent directly from the promoter. Please allow up to 28 days for delivery, though every effort shall be made to try and get this to the winner before Christmas.

*Disclaimer - I was provided with this product free of charge for the purpose of this review and to give my honest opinion of this game. All opinions are my own.

This product is available to buy from Amazon, and other good retailers. The link above is an affiliate link which means that if you choose to purchase after clicking, then I may receive a small commission. These small commissions help me to run this site and provide great content for my readers.

Sunday 27 November 2016

Family Fun with Stoopido - A Review

We are big fans of fun family games that get you giggling, and so we were absolutely delighted to be offered the opportunity to review this fab game Stoopido, which is sure to be a popular addition to children's Christmas lists.

The game is made by Drumond Park who already offer a whole host of games to the market, but the fun and silliness of this particular one, had us keen to find out more!

The packaging for this particular product is really eye catching, bright and colourful, and features a selection of funny faces on the front of the box. It is recommended for 2-4 players, and for ages 8+. You can already gain a good idea of what the game involves from the images, so you can tell straight away whether it looks like a game that would appeal to your family. 

The reverse side of the box, shows you a visual guide as to where the pieces attach onto your glasses, along with some brief instructions informing you of how to play the game. Along with this is a list of contents, the manufacturers contact details, and an important notice that the game is NOT suitable for children under 36 months due to the small parts.

I could already tell from the packaging alone, that this game was going to be hilarious!

Inside the box, there was a bag containing 4 pairs of red glasses and 15 plastic clips, a bag with the Stoopitoot (love this word) and dice inside, 1 sheet of card featuring the 4 slap pads, 25 x Stoopido face pieces, 1 Stoopido Loser Sign, and the all important instructions. The Stoopido face pieces, slap pads, and loser sign, are featured on 6 sheets of card, and you simply just press them out to get all the individual pieces.

We began by pressing out all the pieces from the cardboard sheets and attaching the nose and ear clips to the face pieces. My children's first instinct was to try and make the funniest faces they could, before even starting to play the game, but then we sat down and my daughter read out the instructions. Although recommended for over 8's my youngest son (nearly 4) was also keen to get involved too and I was happy for him to do so, since I was playing aswel and could keep an eye on him. 

We each put on our pair of glasses and then placed the Stoopitoot in the middle of the floor with the Slap Pads surrounding it and then spread the face pieces around and we were ready to play!

To begin play, you simply roll the dice, and see where it lands. If you land on a Nose, Eyes, Hat or Ears image, then the first player to touch the corresponding Slap pads wins that round. The winner of that round then gets to pick a Stoopido Face Piece and add it to the glasses of ANY player that doesn't already have a face piece of that feature. So for example you couldn't add a nose to someone that already has one. If you roll the glasses side of the dice, then this unfortunately means that the player to your left can add a feature which you don't already have to your own glasses, and lastly if you roll the Stoopitoot then the first player to squeak the Stoopitoot can choose to either pick a Stoopido face piece of any feature and add it to any players glasses, or they can remove a feature from their own glasses.

If you win a round and each player already has the piece that you rolled then you can remove this piece from your own glasses. Once a players glasses are completely full then they are the LOSER and out of the game and have to sit there looking hilariously ridiculous!

The aim of the game is to be the last player left without a full Stoopido face on their glasses. For added fun you can take pictures of all the other players that lost holding the Stoopido Loser sign.

After reading the instructions a couple of times we began to play. I had been a little worried that it sounded a bit confusing, however once playing it all became really clear and the game is very easy to follow. It was so funny seeing each others funny faces and being able to choose what we added to each others glasses. My son especially liked the "Bogey nose" piece, ewwww! We played it a few times together and loved the fact that there are so many different combinations that you can make, so the game is never the same as the last time you played it, with everyone looking ridiculous on a whole different scale, each time we played.

I also loved the fact that no-one actually minded losing in this game, as the kids were quite keen to totally cover their glasses as quickly as they could just so they could see how silly their Stoopido face was. This helped to make it much more enjoyable, as my children weren't as competitive and as a result it prevented arguments, that can often arise when playing a more serious game.

Would I recommend it?

Absolutely! If you enjoy family time and a good giggle then this is the game for you. It has an RRP of £17.99 which I think represents good value as it can be played over and over again without becoming boring, due to there being so many different combinations. If you enjoy your more serious games, that involve some element of skill then sadly this game would not be for you, however I believe that everyone enjoys just relaxing and being silly with the kids every now and again and I am sure that many families would really enjoy this product. In fact, we enjoyed this game so much that I have decided to also include this in my Christmas Gift Guide for Children which I will be posting at the beginning of December, so make sure you check back to the blog soon to see what else we will be featuring.

If I was to change one thing, it would be that I would have preferred the dice to have been a bit larger, as sometimes it was hard to see which feature it had landed on, especially the yellow side, but we soon learnt what colour represented which feature. I would have also have loved to have had a fold-able picture frame included so at the end of the game you could take a picture with you all in it like a portrait.

Disclaimer - I was sent this product for free to provide our personal review and opinion on this product. This review is my honest opinion of our experience with the game.

This product is available to buy from Amazon, and other good retailers. The link above is an affiliate link which means that if you choose to purchase after clicking, then I may receive a small commission. These small commissions help me to run this site and provide great content for my readers.

Saturday 26 November 2016

Morse Toad's Messaging Service - A Review

Whilst beginning to prepare my guide to Secret Santa gifts this year, the kids and I sat down and had a little brainstorming session about the kind of gifts that we might like to receive when taking part in "Secret Santa". Needless to say Chocolate was a popular choice, and is likely to bring a smile to most faces, but I wanted to find something that was a bit more individual to a person than just your average box of chocolates.

I began my search and it wasn't long before I came across Morse Toad's Messaging Service, a company that specialise in the production of Chocolate Cards and gifts. I found the website very appealing, and the home page featured a variety of different designs that immediately grabbed my attention.

I had a good browse through the website, and found that they offered a wide range of gifts suitable for all occasions, along with a section dedicated to Christmas where you could purchase Christmas Cards & Stocking fillers. They also featured a handy gift guide that gives you some great ideas for gifts for family members, teachers, Santa himself, or even for that grumpy Scrooge in your life.

The website was very user friendly, and visually appealing. The text and graphics are all nicely displayed and none of the pages seemed too crowded which made it enjoyable to have a good look through the site.

In addition to ordering pre-designed Chocolate Cards, I noticed that there was an option for personalised gifts, so I headed over to this part of the site to find out exactly how it works. The instructions were very simple, and it was just an easy three step process.

Step one is to write your chosen message, using the four boxes provided. Each box represents a different row and you are allowed up to a maximum of 11 characters per line. After you are happy with your message, then you can add a personalised message which is printed on the card insert, this can be up to 180 characters in length. In this step you also have the option of adding a photo. There are several free Morse Toad images available, or you can pay an additional £1 to upload your own photo. The third and final step is to simply send your gift and place your order. It is so easy!

The cards and stocking fillers on the site are all individually priced, but the personalised Chocolate Cards have a very simple pricing structure which is:

1 row = £11
2 rows = £14
3 rows = £17
4 rows = £19

with an additional £1 charge if you choose to use your own photo.

I loved the fact that there is a simple price list, so that you know exactly what you will pay before designing your chocolate card, which is perfect if you are shopping on a budget or have a particular price range in mind.

It was also pleasing to see that orders placed before 1pm are dispatched the same day, which is great if you have left your gift to the last minute (which admittedly I sometimes do). The postage is free for UK orders over £10, so there are no nasty added surprises when you go to check out, but if you are in a rush and need urgent next day delivery then this can also be arranged for a cost of £4.95 per address. International delivery is also available for an additional charge and this is calculated based on the size and weight of your package.

I placed my order at 3pm on Monday, and a few minutes later I received email confirmation. The email stated exactly what I had requested for the card, and so it gave me another chance to double check that I had done it all correctly. The following day I received a further message confirming that my order had been shipped and my chocolate card then arrived with me on the Wednesday. I was so happy and surprised that it had taken less than 48 hours from ordering to the point of delivery.

The product fitted through my letterbox, which is great as I have to do three school runs a day and so it can be frustrating when I then miss a parcel and have to wait until the next day to collect it.

On opening the box, I found my chocolate card beautifully presented in tissue paper. I quickly opened it up to see my chosen design and the personalised photo I had selected. The photo print slots into the top of the card and it can be pulled out and kept. The message I had chosen to write was printed on the reverse, and I was especially pleased that the print was the perfect size to fit in my purse, which in effect actually made it two gifts in one.

The reverse of the box provides information on the ingredients, the best before date, the weight, and the companies contact details. There is also an advisory notice that the product is manufactured in a Nut environment, so this is something you may need to consider if purchasing for someone with allergies.

Despite travelling quite a long way in the post, I was delighted that all the chocolate was completely intact and there were no chocolate marks on the plastic casing that covers the treat. The card is so nicely presented it almost seemed a shame to open it, but I soon got over that, and within minutes I was enjoying the delicious chocolate inside.

It was Belgian Milk chocolate and it tasted absolutely divine. Each piece was a bite sized solid block that was of an excellent quality and taste. As I mentioned previously it is manufactured in a nut environment, however three big plus points about the chocolate is that it is Gluten Free and also it does not contain eggs or alcohol. The tasty treat literally melted in my mouth, and I begrudgingly then shared it with the rest of the family who enjoyed it just as much as me.

Overall I was really pleased with the service from start to finish. I found the whole process not only easy, but also really enjoyable and I was impressed with the speed of delivery. The chocolate was of great quality, and the presentation makes it a lovely unique gift and I will definitely be featuring this product in my Secret Santa gift guide at the beginning of December.

In the future it would be great to see some additional chocolate flavours being added such as dark chocolate, white chocolate, and an organic option for example. However from reading the FAQ's this is something that the company is already working on and they are hoping to introduce further choices for their customers very soon which is great to hear!

If you would like to try out Morse Toad's Messaging Service for yourself then they have kindly provided me with a code for my readers to enjoy 10% off their orders. Simply enter HappyToadmas at the checkout. (Code expires Christmas Day 25/12/16).

*Disclaimer - Morse Toad kindly provided me with this product in exchange for an honest review and opinion of their service/product.

Thursday 24 November 2016

Feeling Festive!

I normally don't get into the Christmas spirit until the beginning of December, but for some reason this year, I cannot help but be super excited! So much so, that I've even given in to the kids constant request to put up the tree and decorations this coming weekend!

The shops are full to the brim with Christmas gifts and decorations, my children have been practising for their Christmas concerts, the John Lewis and Coca Cola advert have now been broadcast, and we have also been reflecting back on some photos from the last few years, so I think it must be a combination of all these things, that have left me feeling fabulously festive!

The weather for this weekend looks pretty grim, and for the first weekend in a while, no one has anything planned, no football, no parties just pure family time. I have therefore taken to Pinterest these past couple of days to plan some fun craft activities to do with the kids, and I have also found some great Christmas baking ideas, and I literally cannot wait to have a full weekend of Christmas activities!

The plan is to put some music on in the morning, then do a good couple of hours crafting and painting together, before decorating the house early afternoon. After all that hard work, we can then cosy up on the sofa and watch our favourite Christmas films (Elf, Home Alone & Deck the Halls), followed with a day of baking & playing games on the Sunday. I'm so excited!

We also have some fantastic Christmas competitions coming up on the blog next week, that I am so excited to share with you all.

Are you feeling festive yet? What activities do you enjoy to do in the run up to Christmas?

Friday 18 November 2016

Disney On Ice presents Frozen - Competition

Disney on Ice presents Frozen, is coming to the Liverpool Echo Arena on the 30th November to the 4th December for 10 magical and mesmerizing shows. Yesterday, I wrote a blog post providing all the information you need to know about this fantastic production which can be found here:

Disney On Ice presents Frozen - A Preview

This full length production of the number one animated film of all time, is sure to keep audiences entertained with astonishing skating, special effects, musical masterpieces and a whole host of different characters.

I have been fortunate enough to have attended a few Disney on Ice shows with my family over the years, and we have enjoyed every production that we have been to, but I have often wondered about the preparation involved and what goes on behind the scenes. I was therefore excited to find out some of these amazing facts:

Did you know????
  • Elsa's Ice Queen Dress is all hand painted silk chiffon by Parson-Meares, a world class costume shop in New York City
  • Elsa has her own unique snowflake pattern on her Ice Queen Dress
  • There are 39 performers in the production, 108 costumes, and over 100 people helped to create the costumes.
  • It takes about 20 hours to set up the production..........and 5-7 hours to take down.
  • There are 20 crew members & staff that travel with the Disney On Ice presents Frozen production. They travel on 3 buses, whilst the huge production travels to each city in 16 trucks.
  • There are over 200 props in the show and 20 snow machines.

To purchase tickets for the show, or to find out more about the production please visit: or

Alternatively you can contact the Echo Arena box office on 0844 8000 400

A full list of tour dates can also be found on the Disney on Ice website here: Disney on Ice

To celebrate this wonderful production, I am running a giveaway for one lucky reader to win a fantastic goody bag, packed full of toys and treats (picture below). Please enter using the gleam form below:

Disney On Ice presents Frozen - Win a Goody Bag!

*Terms & Conditions - Goody Bag is being provided directly from the promoter. Please allow up to 6 weeks for delivery. One winner will be drawn at random on the closing date and notified via email. In the event of being unable to make contact with the winner, then an alternative winner will be drawn after 14 days of the original winners notification being sent. UK entries only.

Thursday 17 November 2016

Disney On Ice presents Frozen - A Preview

As a child I used to love putting on my favourite Disney videos and singing along to all the fantastic songs as loud as I could. My friends would come round and we would dress up as our favourite characters and make up our own dance routines to the songs.

As I have grown older my love for Disney has never disappeared, and now that I am a mum, I have the added bonus of being able to enjoy all things Disney along with my children, and having just as much fun now as I did when I was young.

It was at the beginning of 2012 that I first became aware of the Disney on Ice productions, and knew that this was something we would have to attend as a family. It sounded amazing and I couldn't wait to see the concept, the story, the performers, the show, the music, just absolutely everything, and experience the Disney magic!

On March 23rd 2012 we attended our very first Disney on Ice show at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, and it was safe to say that we were definitely not disappointed. There was something for everyone, and the show featured all of the popular Disney characters and songs, as well as exceptional performances by some very talented ice skaters. Since our first visit to the show, we have gone on to enjoy several other Disney on Ice shows, all of which tell a different story and never seem too similar to the previous ones.

We were therefore extremely excited to learn about the new production "Disney On Ice presents Frozen", which is heading to the Echo Arena from the 30th November to the 4th December for 10 magical and mesmerizing shows.

Disney's Frozen was a huge hit in our household when it was released back in December 2013, and the soundtrack has also been played many a time both at home and in the car. Like many others, we literally could not get enough of singing the musical masterpieces "Let it Go" and "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?" on a daily basis. It is therefore literally quite perfect for us, that Feld Entertainment, Inc. have decided to bring, the number one animated film of all time, to life on the ice.

The production will tell the story and capture the dynamic of the two Royal sisters, Anna and Elsa. It will follow Anna's epic journey to find her sister, whilst featuring loveable snowman Olaf, rugged mountain man Kristoff with his loyal reindeer Sven, and the mystical trolls who will all help Anna on her quest. It is a beautiful representation of how love can conquer fear and audiences will be able to sing along with all the musical masterpieces whilst following the story, which is sure to keep audiences both young and old captivated from beginning to end.

"In our more than 30 years of producing Disney on Ice shows, Feld Entertainment has been waiting for a film like this," says producer Nicole Feld. "While it might seem obvious that Frozen is well suited for the ice, this Disney On Ice production will touch audiences emotionally through innovative show elements and world-class skating."

One thing that I really love about this upcoming production is that not only are they presenting the story of Disney's Frozen on the ice, but they are also featuring special appearances by beloved Disney princesses and favourite characters from Disney Pixar's Toy Story and Finding Nemo, as well as Disney's The Lion King.

In addition to all of these, the production will of course also feature the wonderful Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, who will be taking the audience through the magical story based in Arendelle.

The production will bring together an immersive experience for the audience, with state of the art special effects, powerful skating and an impressive set design that will encompass the space from the ice surface up through the air, which to me sounds absolutely fantastic.

To celebrate this wonderful upcoming production, please be sure to visit the blog tomorrow where we will be launching a fantastic competition to win a wonderful Disney on Ice presents Frozen goody bag, packed full of wonderful toys and treats, as well as providing you with some really fun and interesting facts about the show!

As a family, we are really excited about Disney on Ice presents Frozen, and if like us, you would love to watch the show, then tickets are on sale now from: or

Alternatively you can contact the Echo Arena box office on 0844 8000 400

A full list of tour dates can also be found on the Disney on Ice website here: Disney on Ice

About the venue: The Echo Arena, is one of my favourite entertainment venues, as it offers fantastic road and rail links from where we are in North Wales, as well as neighbouring counties such as Cheshire, Manchester and Lancashire. There is plenty of parking available on the Liverpool Waterfront Multi Storey car park, which costs £7 to attend events at the arena.

We usually opt to travel by train though and make a day of it, with our return train ticket from North Wales to Liverpool costing us just under £18 with a family and friends railcard. There are ample attractions, restaurants, and activities along the waterfront too which makes for a great day out, tied in with a show at the arena in the afternoon or evening.

If you would like any further information on the production or venue, then please check out the links above.


Friday 11 November 2016

Our Review of toucanBox!

Whilst browsing my O2 priority rewards, I saw an offer on for a free Halloween toucanBox, and so because there was no obligation to continue the subscription after receiving the first box, and the fact that I was keen to find out more, I decided to take them up on their offer.

The free box which I claimed was for a petite size, which includes all the materials needed for one activity, it also has the added bonus that it will fit through your letterbox, so no worrying that you might miss the parcel. They do however, offer a range of different sizes, each with varying costs which are as follows:

Petite - £3.95 + 98p postage (fortnightly) - This includes materials for one activity.
Grande - £9.95 + £2.95 postage - This includes 2 exciting activities, a book to share together & parent card which provides more ideas and information.
Super - £16.95 + £2,95 postage - This includes a book to share together and a parent card just like the Grande box, however this size box features 4 activities. That's certainly something to keep children busy.

The boxes arrive addressed to your child, and my son was so happy to receive his own post! The boxes have your childs name printed on both the outside and inside of the box which helps to make it feel really personal. We cleared some space on the floor, and my daughter helped her brother to unpack the box and lay everything out. She told me that they needed scissors which was the only thing that you had to provide yourself, so I went and got these for them, whilst she began to read the instructions.

It was really lovely watching the two of them work together. My daughter loves art and craft, and so it was the ideal activity for them to enjoy together and have some fun. The instruction manual also doubles up as an activity booklet with some fun puzzles to complete after you have built your craft item. The design of the booklet is very eye catching, with good graphics and easy to read text. There are also snippets of information for parents in the booklet which inform you what the activity is focusing on. For this activity the focus was maths, and helping your child to understand how you can take a flat piece of paper and create a 3D object. The front page gives you some basic but important information and tells you using a 5 point scale whether the activity requires grown up assistance, the level of messiness and whether there is any drying time required.

The first inner page then provides you with a full list of everything you need. This is great as it allows you to make sure that you have everything in the box before you begin. My daughter laid out their materials in the same order they were displayed in the image, so that she could cross them off and make sure they had it all to hand. There is then the 'Also Grab' section which informs you of any additional items you may require that are not included, which on this occasion was scissors.

The front page then opens out into a double page spread, and this particular activity featured six step by step instructions which were a combination of images and written information. It wasn't over complicated and I thought it was just the right amount of information for a young child to grasp and understand. I also felt that the images were a great help as it also gives children a visual idea of what their item should be looking like throughout the process. This helps to reassure them that they are doing it correctly.

The activity took them both around 30 minutes which was the right amount of time to keep my sons attention, and the end result was fantastic. Together they had made a Jack-O-Lantern which looked fab.

After they had finished the Jack-O-Lantern, they worked through the activity booklet together which featured lots of fun games and facts including creating a funky outfit for Frankenstein, drawing a funny face for a pumpkin and some spooky puzzles to name a few.

Overall my children really enjoyed their first toucanBox, so much so that I will be upgrading our subscription to the monthly Grande box as I think that the book you receive with this option would also be great to have a nice little read after the craft. It would most certainly also help to pass the time if your activity requires any drying time, as you could have a nice read of the book together whilst you wait.

If you would like to find out more, then please visit the site here toucanBox or click on the banner below & enter code AWXMAS1116 to claim a free box (new subscribers only):

I have deliberately waited a couple of weeks since receiving the item to post this review, so as not to spoil it for anyone who subscribes and hasn't opened it yet.

*Disclaimer - The link to toucanBox is an affiliate link which means that I will earn a small commission for each referral that results in a purchase or the claim of a free box.

Saturday 5 November 2016

The "Weeping Window" Poppies at Caernarfon Castle

As Remembrance Day draws closer, I felt it was important for my children to understand why we do commemorate this event, and just exactly what the poppy represents and stands for.  Every year in school my children always purchase and wear a poppy, and they have also taken part in the local remembrance parades, but I was unsure as to whether they actually understood what the significance of the poppy was, and the history behind it.

To help them gain a better understanding, my husband and I decided to take them to visit the wonderful 'Weeping Window' poppy display which has been installed at Caernarfon Castle for a 6 week period. I thought that by visiting such an outstanding art installation, it would provide the perfect opportunity to talk about the history, as well as remember the fallen, and write a remembrance message for members of our own family.

Remembrance Sunday always falls on the second Sunday in November, which this year is the 13th November 2016.  It is a day where we remember those who have suffered or died in war, and is to honour their memory and appreciate the sacrifice they made in order to protect our freedom. It is not only to commemorate veterans from the first and second world war, but also wars and conflicts from more recent times.

During the First World War (1914-1918) the beautiful countryside that was fought over, turned to mud where little or nothing could grow. However, despite this, the resilient poppies flourished in their thousands and inspired the poem 'In Flander's Fields' written by Lt. Col John McRae. This poem became the inspiration to make and sell red silk poppies, and when they were brought over to England, the Royal British Legion which was formed in 1921 ordered 9 million of them to sell. The sale of the poppies raised £106,000 which of course was a very substantial amount of money for this time. This money was then used to help WW1 veterans.

There can at times, be some misunderstanding as to what the wearing of a poppy means, with some people believing that there is some kind of political reasoning behind it. This is incorrect, as the poppy stands for a symbol of remembrance and hope, it is not a reflection of politics or religion, nor is it a sign of support for war.  Millions of people every year choose to wear or not wear a poppy through personal choice and the purchase or wearing of a poppy is never forced upon people, but is simply an individuals preference to do so, often to reflect personal memories and to also help raise funds for veterans in need of support. 

Two minutes of silence is also observed on Remembrance Sunday, as well as on Armistice Day itself on the 11th hour, of the 11th day of the 11th month.

The Weeping Window display is by artist Paul Cummins, and designer Tom Piper, and is a beautiful cascade of several thousand handmade ceramic poppies. They start from one of the high windows of the castle and flow down to the ground below.  The tickets are free of charge and due to the popularity of the display, it is recommended that you book in advance. We visited today (Saturday 5th November) and despite it being very cold, with intermittent hail storms, it was still very busy. 

There are also a couple of remembrance areas, the first being where you can write a card and pin it to an indoor display, and the other and most striking area, is towards the opposite end of the castle where you can purchase a poppy cross and place this in the ground.

The Weeping Window art installation will be at Caernarfon Castle until the 20th November, so if you would like to visit, please visit the site here to arrange your tickets. Tickets 

Additionally, if you would like to make a donation to the Poppy Appeal, or learn more about it, then please visit their site here: Donate

Friday 4 November 2016

Our Review of the Digital Kids Show

My daughter absolutely loves YouTube, and most nights she will tune in to her favourite you-tubers and catch up on their latest videos. Therefore, when I spotted an online advertisement for the Digital Kids Show that also happened to coincide with her birthday weekend, I knew that we would have to visit, and make sure that she would have a day to remember.

The show itself was being held at Event City in Manchester which is located adjacent to the Trafford Centre. As we live in North Wales, we had to do a bit of planning to get there as my husband and son needed the car on the same day and so our journey ended up involving two trains and a bus, and took nearly 3 hours in total to get there, but I made sure that I had all the timings written down and so despite being a bit nervous about catching the wrong train, it all turned out to be relatively easy and we got there and back without any issues.

Before I go any further however, I just wanted to provide you with my daughters own short review of the show. The Digital Kids Show was designed for kids, and so I think it is important to remember that and view her opinion before mine, so here we go:

In terms of my own opinion, I paid £21.59 each for tickets including booking fee. I was happy with this price, as I feel it is the average price for a day out per person. The price paid included all attractions, and shows inside the event and so it was nice to know that there would be no extra charges whilst attending. The only extra thing I would have liked to have seen in regards to the tickets, would have been a family ticket option, but I believe from speaking to staff at the event that this is something that they will be looking to do in the future.

The event was due to start at 10am, however we did not arrive until just after 10:30am which meant that we missed the queue to get in, and simply walked straight in on arrival. Brochures were available to purchase at a cost of £2 per person. I did hear a few people grumble about having to pay extra for this, but this is standard practice at most events, and I was more than happy to pay the additional £2 given that at some events we have had to spend an extra £10 on brochures alone only to find them just full of advertising, therefore I felt that £2 was very reasonable and it certainly wasn't forced on you to purchase this. Maps were also provided free of charge, so if anything the brochure was simply a nice memento of the day with some fun facts about all the you-tubers inside and it wasn't something that you HAD to purchase. Unfortunately this was the only actual "Digital Kids Show" merchandise available for sale, and I would have liked the opportunity to have purchased tshirts/hats/keyrings etc as my daughter often likes to buy memories of our day out. However, there was some individual youtubers merchandise available such as EthanGamerTV tshirts and hoodies, Ashdubh tops, and Amy Lee books and all of these were very reasonably priced. I was very impressed with the Amy Lee book which at only £5 for a large hardback book, had plenty inside to keep my daughter interested and was of a really good quality.

Once we were inside and brochure purchased, we checked out the plan for the day, and worked out all our timings so we knew where we had to be and when. The first show was due to start at 11am, and so we headed straight over to the seating area to get good seats. Boogie Storm were the opening act, and despite there being a few issues with the sound system they put on a great show to start the event. Following this was the YouTube Q&A session, though my daughter only opted to watch part of this, as she cleverly realised that whilst everyone else was watching the show, it meant that she could try out the other attractions without much of a wait.

We headed over to the total wipeout zone, where she had great fun playing on "The Sweeper" she went on this a couple of times, waiting no longer than 5 minutes for each go, and then she spotted a VR headset stand a short distance away and so she went on this and played minecraft for about ten minutes.

This then took us to just before noon, and the meet and greet was due to start at 12:45 so we headed straight over to the queue for AshDubh, Tomohawk and Inthelittlewood. In doing this, it meant that we would only have a 45 minute wait and we were only 3rd in the queue, so my daughter was more than excited about being so close to meeting Ashdubh (There were other queues available for the other YouTube stars). I had expected to queue, so the queuing really wasn't an issue for us, and I've always found when attending events like this, that queuing is just part and parcel of it. Also if you make the effort to talk to the people around you then this can make the time go so much quicker. It was lovely getting to know some of the others in the queue and finding out where they had travelled from. I thought we had done a bit of a trek from Wales, but the lady next to me had driven all the way from Essex and was just as excited about meeting Ashdubh as her son! Brilliant!

When the moment came to meet the YouTubers, AshDubh actually came over slightly earlier and walked the line. He couldn't have been any nicer and took the time to speak to everyone, pose for photos and much to my daughters delight he even wished her a Happy Birthday and wrote it on the back cover of her brochure. She was absolutely over the moon with this, and said that she thought she was going to faint. My daughters dream birthday present was to meet AshDubh, and being able to witness the happiness on her face when not only did she meet him, but he also made the effort to chat with her and wish her a happy birthday, absolutely made her day and mine. This was really the only thing that she had 100% wanted to do at the show and so the rest was just a bonus.

We then continued to queue to meet Tomohawk and InTheLittlewood who came and sat down about 10 minutes later, and they were just as nice. Once our meet and greet had taken place we decided to have a good look around with the intention of heading back to join the queue for the Amy Lee book signing towards the end.

We checked out all the trade stands, visited the Alopecia and Dog's Trust Stands and then had a look around some of the game stands such as Scalextric and Beasts of Balance. My daughter enjoyed visiting the PopJam stand and designed a phone case. She loves art and so it was nice to also have a few art & craft stalls. We were starting to get hungry by this point, so decided to tuck into some sausage rolls & drinks we had bought from Greggs earlier. Unfortunately the shows caterers had been changed at the last minute by the venue and so the organisers had put out a message on Facebook and via email the night before stating that you could bring your own food. Our lunch cost £5.60 and we sat on one of the hay bales around the craft area to eat our food. There were plenty of bins dotted around so we didn't need to worry about disposing of our packaging.

After lunch my daughter continued to visit the various other stands around the venue. We may have just been lucky with timing but for most areas the queues moved fast and we rarely waited longer than 10 minutes. Excluded from this was the Young Driver Experience which seemed to have a lengthy queue the whole time we were there, but I can understand why this was so popular. I spoke to a couple of people in the queue and the average wait time for this seemed to be 45 minutes to an hour. Still far less than you would queue at other attractions in the UK though and worth it for a unique experience of driving at a young age. As we wanted to head back to the book signing, we decided not to join the queue, but this was my daughters decision and she was still more than happy with everything that she had tried so far.

Once we had reached the queue for the book signing again, it was much larger that when we had left. We were due to leave at 2:45pm which at this point gave us just over an hour so we joined the queue, again happy to wait as the meet and greets had always been the main draw of the attraction for my daughter. As we were queuing a lady came over and explained that she was really sorry but they were going to have to cut the queue off as they had not yet even had a break, my daughter said that she understood and although it was shame as she had wanted her book signed for her birthday she didn't want them to go without a break. The lady suggested that we went and enjoyed the rest of the attractions and to pop over again just as we were leaving to see if there was any chance of being an add on just before we left. We took her advice, and headed off to the CBBC area where my daughter enjoyed a CBBC presenting experience with Hacker. She absolutely loved this, and had previously took part in a presenting workshop in London with Ben Shires and Katy last year prior to the Children's Bafta Awards, and so to have the chance to stand in a replica of the CBBC studio in front of the camera was fantastic, and definitely an added bonus that she hadn't been expecting.

Following this, she made some speakers for her phone in the Blue Peter zone and was given some cards of the presenters. This was almost the end of our experience at the Digital Kids Show, so we made sure we had all our things and made our way towards the exit. The meet and greet area was by the exit, and so we found the lady we had spoken to previously and tried our luck to see if we could quickly get our book signed before we left. Despite having being signing for nearly 4 hours at this point, Amy Lee was more than happy to oblige and due to being sat with NettyPlays and SalemsLady they also all signed her book and wished her a Happy Birthday too. I then left as an extremely happy parent of one very happy daughter whose birthday day out had been everything she had hoped it would be.

Overall we had a fantastic day out, it was exactly how I had expected it to be, and I believe that the event offered great value for money. Being the very first day of the event, which is also in its first year, there were of course some minor teething problems, but the promoters know this, they know what worked and what didn't and I am sure that next year it will be back even bigger and better.

If I was to offer any constructive feedback at all it would be the following:

1) Make the most of the space: Whilst there was plenty to see and do, there was also still plenty of space that could have been filled with even more which would have helped to have reduce the queues in other areas. More tech/gaming stalls for example Playstation, Nintendo, Drones etc.

2) Free Wifi: This is probably more to do with the venue than the promoters, but it was frustrating to not be able to share pictures, videos, check in etc until after we had left due to there being no wifi available and limited signal indoors.

3) Charging points: There were so many photo opportunities that this quickly killed my battery and my phone was flat by lunchtime. It would have been great to have just been able to charge my phone for 20 minutes whilst my daughter enjoyed one of the attractions.

For a first time event I think that it was great and the positives of the event far outweighed any of the negatives. Yes there are some small improvements to be made if this is to be held again in future years, but the main draw of the show was the ability to meet and greet your favourite youtubers, and this is exactly what they delivered. Both my daughter and I would definitely return.

*Disclaimer - I purchased tickets to this event and chose to write this review of my own accord.