Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Zog Flies Into Storyhouse, Chester from the 5th-7th April 2019 - Preview

My family and I are huge fans of books written by Julia Donaldson and all three of my children have grown up enjoying her wonderful stories of fun and adventure. We were therefore really excited to learn more about the hotly anticipated family stage show of Zog, which will be flying into Storyhouse in Chester, next week!

Tickets are on sale now for this wonderful production of Zog, which is based on the book by Julia Donaldson with illustrations by Axel Scheffler. The show is currently embarking on a UK tour, which started earlier this month in Leeds and it will be at Storyhouse from Friday 5th of April to Sunday 7th April for a total of six performances.


The stage adaptation of the book is suitable for children and families of all ages. It will tell the story of Zog who is large in size and very keen in nature. He is eager to win a golden star at Madam Dragon's school, where dragons learn all the things that dragons need to know. Zog tries so very hard, perhaps too hard, and he bumps, burns and roars his way through years one, two and three. Luckily, the plucky Princess Pearl patches him up ready to face his biggest challenge yet.....a duel with a knight, Sir Gadabout the Great!

The world of Zog will be brought to life on stage by a skilled team of actor-puppeteers, using handcrafted puppets that have been designed and created by Little Angel Theatre co-founder Lyndie Wright. It is adapted and directed by Mike Shepherd (founder and artistic director of Kneehigh), with an original folk score by Johnny Flynn (currently starring in True West in the West End), and designs by Katie Sykes (Jane Eyre at the National Theatre).

Photo credit: Helen Maybanks

The cast features Elliot Mackenzie (professional debut) as Zog; Emily Benjamin (Bat Out Of Hell) as Princess Pearl; Robert Ginty (Salome and Coriolanus, Royal Shakespeare Company) as Sir Gadabout the Great; Euan Wilson (Stick Man, UK Tour) as Madame Dragon; and Dixie McDevitt  (National Youth Theatre alumni) as Ensemble.

Zog is produced by Freckle Productions and Rose Theatre Kingston. Freckle Productions' most recent show is Tabby McTat, an adaptation of the book by Julia Donaldson, following their acclaimed productions of Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales and Stick Man.

Completing the creative team are movement director Tom Jackson Greaves (Billionaire Boy, UK Tour), lighting designer Ric Mountjoy (The Play that Goes Wrong), sound designer Julian Starr (Violet, Charing Cross Theatre), puppet designer Lyndie Wright (Little Angel Theatre), puppet director Sarah Wright (Kneehigh's Brief Encounter), and movement and circus consultant Tina Koch.

Tickets for this wonderful production are on sale now, priced at £16 for adults and £14 for children. Each ticket is also subject to a booking fee of £1.50. Group rates are also available.

Photo credit: Helen Maybanks

Listing Details

Show: Zog
Venue: Storyhouse, Hunter Street, Chester, Cheshire, CH1 2AR
Dates: Friday 5th April to Sunday 7th April 2019
Times: Friday 5th April - 4:30pm / Saturday 6th April - 11am, 2pm, 4pm / Sunday 7th April 11am, 2pm.
Tickets: Adults £16 / Children £14 - each ticket is subject to a £1.50 booking fee / Group 10+ £12.50 each.
Duration - Approximately 1 hour.
Booking: This can be done online at www.storyhouse.com, by calling 01244 409113 or by visiting the ticket kiosks at Storyhouse, Hunter Street, Chester, Cheshire, CH1 2AR

For further details you can visit the Storyhouse website, or their social media pages on the following channels:

Website - www.storyhouse.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/storyhouselive
Twitter - @storyhouselive
Instagram - @storyhouselive

Photo credit: Helen Maybanks

*Disclaimer - This post has been written based on a press release provided by BEA.

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Annie the Musical at Storyhouse, Chester - A Review

Annie was such an iconic film from my childhood and I have so many memories of watching the video repeatedly with my cousins, whilst making up our own dance routines to 'Hard Knock Life'.  It is a movie that I have never tired of and still watch regularly with my own children. Although the film was based on the Broadway Musical (and the comic book Little Orphan Annie before it), it is certainly the screen adaptation that I am most familiar with. As a result, I had mixed feelings of intrigue and excitement, as to whether the stage version could live up to my expectations -  well you can bet your bottom dollar that Annie the Musical absolutely did!

Annie the Musical tells the tale of a young red haired girl, who dreams of finding her parents and enjoying a life outside of the orphanage. Her determined attitude and loveable charm, lead to her finding a home with billionaire Mr Warbucks, though her quest to find her real parents takes a sad turn when she finds out they have sadly passed away. However, Annie certainly finds happiness in the end with her unexpected father figure Daddy Warbucks, along with his assistant Grace Farrell firmly by her side.

As soon as the show commenced, there was energy in abundance and we were quickly introduced to the fiesty and strong-willed attitude of the orphans. They presented an enjoyable rendition of 'Hard Knock Life' that immediately drew you into the performance and it was clear from the start that we were in for an enjoyable evening of entertainment. The younger stars of the show most certainly shine throughout, in what is an undeniable demonstration of exceptional young talent.

Annie was played by Ava Smith (one of three Annie's on the tour), who was magnificent in the starring role. She is clearly a child with extraordinary talent and this was undoubtedly obvious every single moment that she was on the stage. I particularly enjoyed the performance of  'I Don't Need Anything But You', where clever and well thought out choreography brought together a wonderful routine, with both Annie and the senior cast members.


I felt that the show was well paced and there was never a dull moment as we were taken from one showstopper to the next, with an impressive 30's flair. The set and costumes were all in keeping with the era and there has clearly been a great attention to detail in the wardrobe department, to ensure that the outfits matched both the story and time period that they were representing.

There was a static jigsaw themed surrounding which never changed throughout the show, but instead the sets and props would be moved and introduced on to the stage, which worked really well. I also felt that this was complimented skillfully, by the lighting effects that illuminated the sets and highlighted the characters superbly.

Prior to the show, I was initially unsure as to how I would perceive Anita Dobson as Miss Hannigan. Despite the fact that she has taken on numerous characters over the years, she has always stood out to me as being Angie Watts from Eastenders and I therefore had a slight concern that I wouldn't be able to see past that. However, Anita Dobson soon cast aside any earlier doubts that I had and convincingly demonstrated a child-hating, alcohol loving, orphanage owner. She was a delight to watch and made the role her own, whilst delivering powerful vocals and impressive choreographed moves with ease. My particular favourite of the night was 'Easy Street', when combined with the talents of Rooster (Richard Meek) and Lily (Jenny Gayner), provided a perfectly executed delivery of a thoroughly entertaining act. Her quirkiness and facial expressions added a comical element to her portrayal and she ultimately suited the role perfectly.


Carolyn Maitland excels as Warbuck's assistant Grace Farrell, with a stunning voice that immediately commands your attention. Her vocal skills are evident during the song 'N.Y.C' and her acting ability ensures that the warmth and kindness of the character are exhibited throughout the show. I loved her on stage chemistry with Mr Warbucks (Alex Bourne) who had the perfect blend of formidable businessman combined with charismatic charm. His soft side was soon displayed upon meeting the inquisitive and delightful Annie and he exhibited a believable father and daughter relationship.

A special mention also has to be given to the beautiful dog Amber, who was absolutely pawsome in the role of Sandy and if anything I would have liked to have seen more of her. I was surprised to find that the song 'Dumb Dog' had been omitted from the show, which I personally think is a shame as it would have been lovely to have seen more of the companionship between them.

Overall Annie the Musical completely lived up to my expectations and whilst the stage version differs somewhat from the well known movie, it did not disappoint. My inner-child was desperate to sing along and it was great to be able to enjoy some of the new musical numbers, with Hooverville and N.Y.C being particularly enjoyable. Featuring a wonderful cast and strong ensemble, Annie is packed full of enough upbeat performances to keep the audience captivated. It is a wonderful, feel-good, family friendly production, that is guaranteed to leave a smile on your face.

Listing Details

Show: Annie the Musical
Venue: Storyhouse, Hunter Street, Chester, Cheshire, CH1 2AR
Dates: Monday 25th March to Saturday 30th March 2019
Booking: This can be done online at www.storyhouse.com, by calling 01244 409113 or by visiting the ticket kiosks at Storyhouse, Hunter Street, Chester, Cheshire, CH1 2AR

For further details you can visit the Storyhouse website, or their social media pages on the following channels:

Website - www.storyhouse.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/storyhouselive
Twitter - @storyhouselive
Instagram - @storyhouselive


Disclaimer: We were provided with complimentary tickets to review the show. Opinions and thoughts are my own. Images are from a previous show not the performance that we attended.

Monday, 25 March 2019

Micro Motorz by HTI Toys - Review

If you are a regular reader to the blog, then you will know that my youngest son Riley is a huge fan of both blind bags and vehicles, so when we learnt that the two of these had been combined together by HTI Toys to create Micro Motorz, Riley was super excited to put them to the test.

Micro Motorz are a brand new collectible series, perfect for any racing car fans. Each set contains six suprises that help children to create and play with their new vehicle to make it ready to drive. There are over 20 different Micro Motorz to collect in the first series, which means that children can build up a fantastic collection of super vehicles.


These include six Nitro Chargerz which are perfect for drag racing and pack some serious punch, there are three regular and three rare ones of these to find. Another selection as part of the series are the Speed Demonz which can be launched at speed and customised with their interchangeable spoilers, making them perfect for the race track.

The Hot Rodz vehicles come in garish colours with interchangeable air scoops which make them must-have racers. Again there are three regular and three rare ones to find. Last but by no means least is the ultra-rare Monster Treadz, which are rugged monster trucks that can crush their opponents in any race. These super machines even include slick gold engines to help complete their fierce look which is sure to stand out to any competitior.


Riley had a good look through the selections available and had already picked a few that he was hoping to find in his blind bags. As with any blind bag opening, one of the best things about it is the element of surprise and not knowing exactly what you are going to get inside. Could you get an ultra-rare, could you get a duplicate? Well there is only one way to find out, so Riley set about opening his starter selection of Micro Motorz, ready for some racing car fun.

To begin with, Riley opened the outer foil wrapper, which then revealed three plastic chambers, along with a sticker that indicates which team the car inside may belong to. You can then snap off the chambers one by one to reveal the surprises inside and most importantly find out exactly which vehicle you have received.


In the first chamber he found a tool which he would be able to play with once he had revealed his vehicle. There was also a leaflet which provided further information about the collection along with a series of images of what cars could possibly be inside. In chamber two he found a tuning accessory, this could be a spoiler, air scoop or engine and in the first one that Riley opened he found a spoiler.

He then opened the final chamber to reveal his car enclosed within a plastic see through capsule, which is also a handy storage compartment and great for keeping the vehicles safe and in tip top condition. The capsules can also connect together to help create a fantastic display and they also double up as the launcher to ensure that your vehicle gets the best start in any race. We also received a key and a sticker.


We initially found the instructions slightly confusing when putting our launcher together, but soon got the hang of it after a couple of attempts so that it quickly became an easy process. To assemble your launcher you need to:

  • Remove the car and its base plate from the capsule, along with the blue part underneath the capsule
  • Remove the launcher pad from the rear of the capsule, turn this around and reinsert it
  • Reattach the blue part to the bottom of the capsule and tuck the provided elastic band around it
  • Fit the blue base plate to the bottom of the capsule and push the launch pad to the rear
  • Simply press the button down at the rear of the launcher to watch your vehicle speed off
  • Repeat the last two steps again each time you wish to relaunch


Overall Riley really enjoyed both opening and playing with the Micro Motorz. He regularly watches unboxing videos on YouTube, so certainly enjoys that anticipation and element of surprise when he gets to open blind bags and unknown surprises for himself. With an RRP of £4.99 I think that they are well priced and affordable enough to collect, though they are slightly higher than the pocket money my son receives, so he would need to save up over a couple of weeks. Riley loved that he could swap the parts around to customise the vehicles to his liking and he also really likes the fact that he can display them neatly in the car capsules. He did find the process of setting the launcher up a bit confusing at first, but after a few attempts he soon got the hang of it and is now really looking forward to building his collection and seeking out some of the ultra-rares.


Micro Motorz are currently available from all good supermarkets and toy retailers and are also available from Amazon. If you would like to find out more about the range or HTI Toys, then you can visit their website or social media pages on the following channels:

Facebook - facebook.com/TeamsterzToys
Twitter - @HTIToys
Instagram - @HTIToys


Disclaimer: We were sent these items complimentary for the purpose of writing an honest review of the product. All opinions and thoughts are my own. This post contains an Amazon affiliate link which means that I may receive a small commission should you choose to purchase from this retailer.

Friday, 22 March 2019

Mud & Bloom Subscription Box Review

Mud & Bloom are a fantastic subscription box company, that inspire children to get creative and develop their love for nature and the environment. Each month, subscribers can receive a box that is filled with fun activities and best of all, they can also fit through your letterbox, so there is no hassle of having to wait in for a delivery.

Each box contains everything that you need for some fun nature themed tasks, as well as providing very clear instruction sheets, nature news and educational games to help children learn to identify animals or objects in the world around them. When we were therefore offered the opportunity to review their February box, we jumped at the chance and Riley waited excitedly for his box to arrive in the post.


The boxes are aimed at 3-8 year olds, however my 11 year old son was also keen to take part, so my two boys aged 6 & 11 opened the box together. Inside our box was a whole host of activities, which have not only been created by qualified teachers, but they also support the National Curriculum with influence from Forest School, Steiner and Montessori education.

Our box contents included:
  • Make Ice Decorations Activity Sheet
  • Grow Your Own Aubergines Activity Sheet
  • Make Your Own Kite Activity Sheet
  • Grow Cosmos Flowers Activity Sheet
  • Flower Spotter Guide Sheet
  • February's Quiz Sheet
  • Compost Pellets
  • 2 x wooden sticks
  • Kite Material (Square Paper)
  • Twine
  • String
  • Paper Ribbons
  • Nature News Sheet
We also needed several other items for our activities which were not included, but are easily found around the home. These were an egg box for planting seeds, a cardboard toilet roll for the kite and a shallow dish for the ice decoration.


The Nature News sheet explained to us what was happening in February and highlighted what the first flowers were that we could expect to see growing at this time of year. It also advised that we might also start to notice leaf-buds on trees and this inspired my youngest son Riley to try and notice things on our walk to school. We didn't see any tree leaves starting to grow just yet, however we spotted plenty of daffodils and daisies.

There was also a Bird of the Month featured in the news section which for February was the Blue Tit. Riley enjoyed learning all about this beautiful bird and liked the blue and yellow colours of its feathers. We learnt a new fact that none of us had known, which was that the Blue Tit bird likes to drink milk, as well as eating insects, caterpillars, seeds and nuts.

Once we had read through the Nature News, we began our first activity. There was a bit of a debate between the boys as to which one we should attempt first, but in the end it was the Make Your Own Kite activity that won. 

I began reading through the instructions and made sure that we had everything that was required. The square paper, string and ribbons had already been provided, but we also needed scissors and a cardboard tube. Once we had found these additional items we began to make our way through the 6 step process of creating our very own kite.

We began by taking the paper and folding it along the pre-printed dotted lines as directed in the picture provided. We then made three holes in each of the folded triangles on the paper. These holes were for the string and ribbons. My eldest son was able to do this on his own with supervision, but younger children would definitely need assistance with this to do it safely. We then tied the string through the holes, winding the end of it around the cardboard tube. After this, we added the ribbons to the tail end through the remaining hole. 

It was really simple to create and something that we would have never thought about making ourselves before. We took the kite to a local field to get it flying and then experimented with the string to see how high we could get it to fly. It was lots of fun and great to have something that the children could play with once it had been made.


The next activity we chose to attempt was Grow Your Own Aubergine. Rather than simply telling us how to do this, the card also provided plenty of information all about aubergines. We learnt where they originally came from, how long they take to grow and how they are most often cooked and eaten. For this task we needed Organic Aubergine Seeds, Organic Compost Pellets and a plant label which were all provided. Additional items such as an egg carton or yoghurt pots were also required to plant the seeds.

Firstly we filled a bowl with warm water and placed two pellets in it. You then leave them to grow for around 10 minutes until they have completely expanded. My boys found this part interesting in itself and couldn't understand how it became larger. Once they had finished growing, we tore the netting off each one and poured them into two compartments of the egg carton. We then placed one seed in each pot. Ben labelled them up and we moved them to somewhere warm with natural light. The seedlings have not started to appear on ours justyet, but it has been less than the guide time of two weeks, so I will update this post accordingly once that time has passed.

The instructions advise that once they have become to big for their pots, then they need to be moved to larger ones that are approximately 5 inches deep. Once they have filled these pots, then they can be moved to their final positions and add support sticks if required. We cannot wait to see and eat our aubergines once they are fully grown.


We then moved on to planting our Cosmos Seeds. The seeds, compost pellets and label were all provided, but we did need either an egg carton or yoghurt pot for planting. We chose to use the opposite end of the egg carton to where we had planted the Aubergine seeds in the previous activity. These flowers grow to be a beautiful mixture of white and pink flowers, which can be up to 60cm tall. As with the aubergine seeds, we followed a similar routine with preparing the compost and then planted our seeds approximately a quarter of an inch down. We labelled them and then placed them in a warm place. We are hoping to see the seedlings appear in the next couple of weeks and the boys have been taking it in turns to water our seeds regularly.


At this point we decided to take a little break from the activities and attempt the quiz instead. All of the quiz questions were based around what we had learnt from the Nature News and the boys really enjoyed trying to remember the right answers to the questions. I am proud to say that they both scored 5 out of 5.

Our final task was to Make Your Own Ice Decorations, it wasn't frosty on the day that we received the subscription box, so we waited for a couple of days to see if the weather changed. During this time we collected some small leaves to put in our decoration, as well as finding some shallow lids and bowls to help with the creating process.

The weather didn't quite get chilly enough, so we decided to make use of the freezer instead, so we placed the leaves and stems we had collected on our lids and poured water over them. We then placed half of the loop of twine into the water, with the remainder of the loop over the side. It was then left in the freezer overnight. When Riley woke up in the morning he was very excited to see his ice decoration and we hung these on some branches outside.

Overall we really enjoyed all of the activities that came in our February Mud & Bloom Subscription Box and think that it is a great way to get children learning more about nature. A single box costs £9.95 with no long term committment and this can simply run on a month to month basis, which I think is value for money. Alternatively there are a range of plans which helps to reduce the monthly cost even more and further details on these can be found here: https://www.mudandbloom.com/subscribesingle

For further information on Mud & Bloom you can visit their website or social media pages on the following channels:

Website: https://www.mudandbloom.com/
Facebook: facebook.com/mudandbloom
Twitter: @mudandbloom
Instagram: @mudnbloom

*Disclaimer - We were provided with a complimentary Mud & Bloom subscription box for the purpose of writing an honest review of the product. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Dates for your Diary - LHK Youth Theatre Seeks Stars for Upcoming Production of Oliver The Musical!

Consider Yourself part of the LHK Youth Theatre family as they announce open auditions to find stars for their upcoming production of Oliver The Musical. The regions leading youth theatre company will bring Charles Dickens' beloved novel to life on The Esptein Theatre stage this November.

On Sunday 24th March, male and female performers aged 6 to 19 are welcome to attend the open auditions which will take place at The Epstein Theatre at 10:30am.

There is no need to book an audition slot as registration will take place on the day. All audition material will be provided and all applicants will be asked to sing a verse and chorus of a song of their choice. Roles are available for the full cast and chorus, including down on his luck orphan Oliver Twist; pickpocket Artful Dodger; conniving gang leader Fagin; warm hearted Nancy; and more.

LHK Productions Managing Director, Lee Kelly said: "We are once again on the lookout for Merseyside's brightest young stars. It always overwhelms me to see the staggering amount of talented young performers that come through the doors when we hold open auditions, and I cannot wait to welcome all the young hopefuls later this month.

"Oliver is a timeless classic and I am excited to bring it back to The Epstein Theatre later this year!"

Oliver The Musical takes audiences on a wild adventure through Victorian England as young orphan Oliver Twist navigates London's underworld of theft and violence, searching for a home, a family and - most importantly - for love.

With spirited, timeless songs, such as As Long As He Needs MeFood, Glorious FoodI'd Do Anything, and Oom Pah Pah, Oliver is a musical classic.

Audition Details

Date: Sunday 24th March 2019
Time: 10:30am
Location: The Epstein Theatre, Hanover House, 85 Hanover Street, Liverpool, L1 3DZ


*Disclaimer - This is a press release.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Let's #ShareAStory for World Book Day!

As a child, I used to regularly read the same books over and over again. I absolutely loved the The Faraway Tree, as well as The Wishing Chair by Enid Blyton and I was also a fan of the 'My Naughty Little Sister' range of books written by Dorothy Edwards. I don't remember ever needing to be encouraged to read and instead it was something that I chose to do because I enjoyed it.

The Magic Faraway Tree was an enchanting story that inspired me to use my imagination and visualise all the magical worlds and characters that were being described. It was a book that took me on an adventure and made me curious about the mystery that existed. It also helped me to develop my love of books and stories and as a result I joined a creative writing group that my headteacher ran. I would have notebooks everywhere containing short stories that I had written, which I believe helped me to improve my vocabulary skills.

Now that I am a parent, I get the chance to enjoy reading with my children, which is something that I have ensured we have done together since they were babies. I began with touchy-feely books such as the 'That's Not My' range from Usborne, as well as books about animals and vehicles. It is my opinion that these kind of books helped my children to learn to identify things and although they could not read or speak at the time, it allowed them to visualise, imagine and also listen.


Once we reached the toddler ages, I began purchasing well known fairytale books such as Goldilocks and the Three Bears and Little Red Riding Hood. These allowed me to help create a bedtime routine and it was great to have the opportunity every evening to read them a story.

As my children got older we switched to some books that featured elements of comedy and that brought a smile to your face. We felt that these were the kind of books that could be enjoyed at any time and it was great being able to read together and enjoy a giggle, whilst we read stories like Aliens Love Underpants and The Dinosaur that Pooped a Planet!

Now that my children are aged 6, 11 and 12, they have all enjoyed various different genres of books and now find books that appeal to them as individuals. My daughter loves the Harry Potter series, whilst my son enjoys absolutely anything that has been written by David Walliams. My youngest son Riley enjoys books that make him laugh and he is always excited when he gets to bring home a new reading book or library book from school.

He has previously struggled for some time with his pronunciation of certain letters, but I have recently seen a huge improvement in his speech and understanding of words. By regularly reading out loud together we have been able to work on his sounding out and story books have provided some great assistance with this.


In addition to the English spoken word, my children all learn Welsh in school. We therefore also read some welsh language books at home to assist them in their bilingual skills. Welsh is such a beautiful language and although none of us are fluent just yet, I hope that the use of books will help us to improve, so that my children can use these language skills in the future.

As you may have seen World Book Day are encouraging everyone to #ShareAStory, so I asked each of my children what their current favourite book is and why;

Emma aged 12 said: "My favourite book is Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling. I really enjoy all of the Harry Potter books, but I found this one really intriguing and it was great to see the character development."



Ben aged 11 said: "I don't have just one favourite book, instead I like all of David Walliams books as they are really funny. The first one I read was Gangsta Granny and I even dressed up as Gangsta Granny a couple of years ago for World Book Day. I also think the Boy in the Dress and Awful Auntie are great too. I have just started reading The Midnight Gang, but haven't finished this one yet."

Riley aged 6 said: "My favourite book at the moment is The Very Silly Dog, because the dog is funny and eats some soap thinking it is a bone. He then ends up blowing bubbles and one comes out of his bum!"



Make sure you join in with all the World Book Day fun and share your story on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, using either #ShareAStory or #RhannwchStori and #WorldBookDay. We are looking forward to finding out what everyone else is reading.

To find out more about World Book Day you can visit their website or social media pages, which can be found on the following channels:

Website: https://www.worldbookday.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/worldbookdayuk
Twitter: @worldbookdayuk
Instagram: @worldbookdayteen

*Disclaimer: This is a collaborative post and we were gifted a selection of books to enjoy and celebrate World Book Day with. Not all the books pictured were gifted.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Celebrating World Book Day!

Every year since my children have been in school, we have celebrated World Book Day. Usually my kids will go into school dressed as their favourite character along with a copy of their chosen book. This provides children with a great way to talk about reading and celebrating books, both at home and in school. So when World Book Day recently got in touch and asked to send us a reading pack, we were delighted at the prospect of learning more about this initiative, as well as having some new and exciting books to enjoy together.

I strongly believe that books can be fantastic in so many ways, they can provide you with knowledge, help you to improve your vocabulary skills or allow you to learn more about other people or ways of life. They can also simply provide you with a form of entertainment that will allow you to escape to a world of make believe and enjoy being taken on a journey with the characters of the story.


World Book Day helps children, adults and families celebrate stories, which encourages a persons love of reading. This year it takes place in the UK and Ireland on the 7th March 2019, but it will also be celebrated in other countries on the 23rd April 2019 as World Book and Copyright Day. It is a campaign that I strongly support and this wonderful worldwide celebration of books and reading is marked on a global scale, with over 100 countries taking part. The main objective is to have fun and enjoy reading together and there are so many great ideas to help you to do this.

In my children's primary school this year, they have arranged a book swap initiative, so that each child can go to school dressed as their favourite book character and take in a book that they have already read. They then have the opportunity to swap this book for a different one in the school hall, ensuring that all students go home at the end of the day with a new book for them to enjoy. I think that this is a lovely idea and provides all of the children with accessibility to books, that they may not have seen or heard of before.

In my daughter's high school, they have arranged a slightly different event which will be a huge celebration to mark the day. They have planned competitions, quizzes, stalls and activities, as well as offering some prizes for some of the best costumes. One idea they have had that I really like is a 'Best Form Group Costume' competition, where the form class can discuss a theme, genre, or specific book and all come as characters that are linked. I think it would be absolutely hilarious for a whole class to dress as Where's Wally or Wenda, imagine the great photograph that would make!


The World Book Day website, offers a great range of fantastic ideas to give you some inspiration as to how you could celebrate this event. Ranging from fun activities to creative costume ideas, there is something suitable for all ages to enjoy. This year they are also asking people to join in with their fun nationwide social event encouraging everyone to simply share a story. Reading can be done at any time in any place and reading and sharing stories can have a wonderful impact. 

You can also join in with this campaign on social media and tell everyone what you are reading and your favourite stories by posting on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #ShareAStory or #RhannwchStori.

In addition to all the fun activities that will be taking place, there is also an incredible initiative in the UK where World Book Day will be distributing more than 15 million £1 world book day tokens, in partnership with schools all around the country. This is with thanks to National Book Tokens (the sponsors of World Book Day), as well as lots of lovely booksellers and publishers. These tokens can then be taken to a local participating book shop and swapped for one of the 12 new and exclusive World Book Day books. Full details of this initiative along with a full list of the books available can be found here and includes some fantastic titles! You can also find out more about the £1 book scheme for Ireland here.

To find out more about World Book Day you can visit their website or social media pages, which can be found on the following channels:

Website: https://www.worldbookday.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/worldbookdayuk
Twitter: @worldbookdayuk
Instagram: @worldbookdayteen


*Disclaimer: This is a collaborative post and we were gifted a selection of books to enjoy and celebrate World Book Day with.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

UEFA Champions League Match Attax - Review & Competition

My son has collected Match Attax for several years now, accumulating quite an extensive collection of all his favourite football players. Like most children he loves to collect things, so with Match Attax currently being available at 'pocket money prices' he has been able to purchase packs regularly to help complete his teams. He also enjoys swapping his doubles with friends and it has been great to see him and his class mates help one another with their searches for some of the most wanted cards. At Christmas we also purchased the Match Attax advent calendar for him, which we found to be great value for money as there was a pack of cards behind every single door, which was a fabulous alternative to daily chocolate.

Ben was therefore delighted when we were recently sent a huge bundle of the recently released UEFA Champions League Match Attax. This not only scored me some mega brownie points, but also kept him quiet long enough for me to enjoy a cup of coffee, whilst he opened all of the packets. Definitely a win win situation for me!


The first item Ben opened was his Starter Pack, which with an RRP of only £5 seemed to offer great value for money. Inside there was a collection binder, the 2 player game mat, game rules, an online game code, 5 cards plus 1 limited edition card.

The binder is a great storage solution to ensure that all your cards are kept in the best condition and it is really easy to arrange the cards and place them inside. Ben decide to sort all his cards into teams first knowing that he quite a lot to open, before placing them in the binder afterwards. There are over 450 cards to collect, swap and play with, so he was also trying to keep count of how many he had, as well as placing any doubles to one side ready to trade.


He then began to open his Super Strikers Mega Tin which contained a fantastic 50 cards which consisted of:
  • 29 x regular cards
  • 5 x special foil cards
  • 15 x exclusive cards
  • 1 x Limited Edition Card
Some of his all time favourite players were in this pack and he continued sorting his cards into the corresponding teams. The Mega Tins have an RRP of £10 and are available in 4 different varieties which are Rising Stars, Title Winners, Super Strikers and Superstars and the tin also acts as great storage for keeping your cards safe. Ben uses the tins to keep his swaps in, so that he can carry them around easily when trading with friends.


Next he opened a Match Attax Mini Tin which has an RRP of £7. Ben really liked the mini tin as it is small enough to fit in his pocket, so he can keep his cards to hand whether for swapping or playing. It also helped that two of his favourite players were featured on the front of this tin, so it'll most likely become the tin that he uses the most. The mini tin contained a total of 42 cards which consisted of:
  • 36 x regular cards
  • 5 x special foil cards
  • 1 x Limited Edition card
Lastly he opened a multi pack which contained 5 packets of cards. His sister had also become interested by this point, so they both sat on his bed whilst opening the remaining packets. It was lovely watching them chat together as she asked Ben about who the players were and what he thought of them. She then asked him to explain the game to her and this ended up in them playing nicely together for well over an hour. He also shared some of his doubles with her and his younger brother Riley so that they could both start their own collection too, which I thought was a lovely gesture.


Once they had finished playing, I took a closer look at some of the cards, to see what kind of information each one provided. The two cards below are part of the new Pro Performance cards and they help you to identify the players who are the fastest or the most accurate passers in the UCL. As with all the Match Attax cards in the set, the player names are always clearly identified on the side, which is really useful if you come across a footballer you are less familiar with.

In the top right hand corner you will notice that there is a monetary value, as well as a series of scores for their skills, all of which come in useful when selecting your team for playing the game.


The aim of this two player game is to beat your opponent by scoring more goals, just like in a real match. The rules are easy to follow and understand which helps to make it a simple and fun game for children to enjoy.

Firstly you need to put your team together by selecting 11 players along with 3 substitutes, before laying them down in formation on the game mat which is pictured below. (If you don't have the game mat, then don't worry, you can still play). The first player is then determined by flipping a coin and choosing heads or tails. When selecting your team you should ensure that you adhere to both the formation and tournament rules.

Whoever goes first must choose an attacker or defender, with the opponent choosing the opposite. So for example if I was to select an attacker, then my opponent must select a defender. If your attack scores beat their defence, then you score and vice versa. You then keep the cards to one side so you can easily count the score. It really is easy, yet lots of fun to play and you simply continue with your players throughout the game. In the event of a draw, then no-one wins, so the chooser must make another selection.

Just like in a real game of football, you are able to choose a sub at any point in the game as well as being able to use a team boost card, both of which can improve your chances of winning. Once all the cards have been played, then you add up the score, congratulate the winner and play again!


Overall I would highly recommend Match Attax as a great fun trading card game that is available at affordable prices. The guide age for these products is 6+ which I would agree with, as I think this is a suitable age to be able to understand how to play the game correctly. However, I would not say that these collectables are limited to just children as I am sure that there are many teenagers and adults that would also enjoy to collect, swap and play with these cards as well. I think that both the mini tin and mega tin offer value for money and with individual packs also being available for only £1, it is possible to build up a collection at a cost and frequency that is suitable for you.

You can find out more about Topps and Match Attax by visiting their website or social media pages which can be found on the following channels:

Website - https://uk.topps.com/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/myTopps
Twitter - @myTopps
Instagram - @myTopps

Competition

Do you have a Match Attax fan in your family? Then why not enter our competition for the chance to win a fantastic bundle of goodies which includes:

1 x Mega Tin (RRP £10.00)
1 x Mini Tin (RRP £7.00)
1 x Starter Pack (RRP £5.00)
1 x Multi Pack (RRP £5.00)

For your chance to win, simply enter using the gleam form below and be sure to come back daily throughout March for some extra bonus entries. (Terms and Conditions can be found underneath). Good Luck!

UEFA Champions League Match Attax Competition

Terms and Conditions
  • There is 1 (one) prize of a UEFA Champions League Match Attax Bundle consisting of 1 x Mega Tin (RRP £10), 1 x Mini Tin (RRP £7), 1 x Starter Pack (RRP £5), 1 x Multi Pack (RRP £5.00). Contents of these packs vary and there is no guarantee that you will receive the same cards that my son did in the review images.
  • Entry is open to UK residents aged 18 years or over.
  • Competition closes on Sunday 31st March 2019 at 23:59.
  • A winner shall be drawn within 7 days of the closing date and notified via email.
  • The winner will have 7 days to confirm their acceptance of the prize, before an alternative winner is drawn from the remaining eligible entries.
  • Once the winner has confirmed acceptance of the prize and provided their address details then the prize shall be posted out via a trackable delivery method within 14 days.
  • No bulk or third party entries.
  • Prize is as stated, is non-transferable and cannot be exchanged for a cash equivalent.
Disclaimer: We were provided with a bundle of Match Attax items for the purpose of writing an honest review of the products. All opinions and thoughts are my own unless stated otherwise.