Tuesday, 21 April 2020

National Stationery Week with Cross Pens - A Review

As I work from home, it is fair to say that I have accumulated a fair amount of stationery over the years. My collection includes everything from post-it notes to pencils, paperclips to pens and staplers to sharpeners and I like to keep it all nicely organised.

I was therefore really keen to be involved with National Stationery Week this year, which is happening this week up until the 26th April 2020. With the lock down still in place, it is also the perfect time to support National Stationery Week, by getting your stationery out and writing a letter or drawing a picture to send to a friend or family member to let them know you are thinking of them.

My children and I have decided to write my parents (their grandparents) a letter this week, to let them know just how much we are missing them. They live only half a mile away from us, so it has been so hard to not be able to just pop round and see them every couple of days like we usually would, so we thought that writing a letter would bring a smile to all our faces instead.


In collaboration with National Stationery Week, one of their sponsors Cross, kindly sent us a lovely gift of a Wanderlust Pen, which I am really excited to use to write my letter with. I have always considered Cross to be a premium brand and their products appear to me as being sophisticated, professional and most importantly excellent quality.

The Wanderlust pens have been inspired by Planet Earth and as someone who loves to travel, the idea behind these designs suits me just perfectly. Mine is the Antelope Canyon Ballpoint Pen, which is just over 5 inches in length. It has a lovely and elegant curved clip, which complements the white lacquer and gold plated engravings beautifully.


This pen will cost you £65.00 on the Cross website and it comes nicely presented in a premium gift box, making it the perfect stationery treat for yourself, or as a quality gift to celebrate a special occasion or birthday.

Overall, I am absolutely in love with my Cross pen and it is a pleasure to write with. The pen just glides across the paper and writing seems much more effortless. I am definitely going to treat myself to some other items in the Cross range in the future and if you would like to take a look at some of the products available, then you can visit the Cross website or their social media pages on the following channels:



If you would like to find out more about National Stationery Week, then check out their social media channels below. I have also found some fantastic competitions over on Twitter in celebration of #NatStatWeek, so be sure to check out the hashtag too!



*Disclaimer - We were gifted a Cross Wanderlust Pen in collaboration with Cross and National Stationery Week. All opinions and thoughts are my own unless otherwise stated.



Sunday, 19 April 2020

Rubik's Cage from Ideal Games - A Review

Over the past couple of weeks, we have written reviews on some of the great family games available from Ideal Games. However, as much as we have enjoyed playing these together, we also love a good puzzle. My eldest son has always been a fan of Rubik's and as had various original 3 x 3 cubes over the years. He still hasn't managed to successfully complete it yet, but has certainly enjoyed trying and he has definitely got closer than me in his attempts.

We were therefore really excited to learn more about the Rubik's Cage, where unlike the original cube that is for a sole player, this puzzle can be played by 2-4 people at a time. It is a 3 in a row strategy game, which although sounds easy, it is definitely not as simple as it may first appear.


The box is quite small, so it is easy to take away with you and use as a travel game and there is a clear window at the front, so you can see the product inside. It is bright, colourful and certainly eye catching, with the phrase "Drop It, Twist It, Flip It, Win It" written across the bottom. The rear of the box provides some brief details as to how the game is played, along with some supporting images and a list of contents.

On opening the box, we found it included:
  • 1 x Rubik's Cage
  • 24 x Cubies
  • Instructions

Setting up the game is really easy and you simply start with the Rubik's cage empty. The number of cubies each player has, depends on whether you are playing a 2, 3 or 4 player game. We played a two player game first, so this meant that each player selected three different sets of coloured cubies. For example, I chose red, blue and orange and Riley chose white, yellow and green. In a two player game, each person should have 12 cubes. 

The object of the game is to be the player who manages to align three of their coloured cubies in a row on one face first. This row can be vertically, horizontally or even diagonally, which might sound simple, but once the game is in play, anything can change.


Each player must take it in turns to make a move, which can be any of the following:
  1. Drop a Cubie - This is when a player places one Cubie into any of the eight sections.
  2. Twist the Cage - This is when a player turns one layer of the Rubik's cage 90 degrees in either direction.
  3. Flip the Cage - This is when a player turns the cage upside down by rotating it 180 degrees.
It is also important to remember that you cannot simply reverse the previous players move, no matter how much you may want to!


The winner is the person who manages to get three of their Cubies of the same colour in a row on one face of the Rubik's cage first. If the game continues until all pieces have been played then it is classed as a draw.

Overall we absolutely loved the Rubik's Cage and felt it was a great addition to the Rubik's puzzle range of toys. It is really easy to understand how to play, but we loved that you needed to think carefully about your move to prevent your opponents from winning, making it the perfect family strategy game. With an RRP of £19.99, I think that it offers good value for money and can definitely keep you entertained. It is available to purchase from toy retailers including Smyths Toys, Asda and Amazon and I would happily recommend this product to others.

If you would like to find out more about Rubik's or other products in the Ideal Games range, then you can visit their social media pages on the following channels:



*Disclaimer - We were gifted this Rubik's Cage puzzle for the purpose of writing an honest review of the product and our experience. All opinions and thoughts are my own, unless otherwise stated. This post contains an Amazon affiliate link.

Monday, 13 April 2020

Junior Rummikub from Ideal Games - A Review

During the Easter Weekend, we have continued to enjoy playing some of the games that we were kindly sent from Ideal Games. Today we have decided to review Junior Rummikub, which is a fast paced numbers game for the whole family to enjoy.

The front of the box is a lovely bright red colour that features some fun graphics including a cheeky monkey, a cute blue rabbit and some vibrant colourful stars. It is really eye-catching and also shows you some of the game pieces. The top right hand corner identifies the game as being suitable for children aged 4+ and that it can be played with 2-4 players.


The rear of the box provides you with a brief overview of the game, which gives you a good idea of how it is played. There are also some images of the actual contents that are included, along with a list. The box contains:

  • 40 Tiles (1 to 10 in 4 different colours)
  • 4 Joker Tiles
  • Star Counters
  • 4 Tile Racks
  • 1 Instruction manual

We carefully removed all the items from the box and began to set up the game. The instructions were relatively straight forward and it was very simple to get everything into place. Once we were ready to play, I read out the instructions to the rest of the family and although a couple of my children didn't quite get it intially, this all fell into place once we began to play and in just a few minutes it all made sense.


The aim of the game is to collect as many stars as possible by creating Runs of numbers or adding to them. A Run has to comprise of at least 3 tiles and these tiles must also be in consecutive number order. In addition, all numbers in the run must be the same colour.

To begin, we each selected a playing rack and 6 stars, before turning all the tiles over on the table face down to create a tile pool. I then told each player to select 6 tiles at random and we each placed them on our tile rack, whilst ensuring that our opponents could not see which tiles we had selected.

The oldest player then starts off the game play by trying to lay down a run. If they are unable to go, then they must pay the bank one star and pick up a tile from the pool. The person to the left then takes their turn. Once a player is able to lay down a run, then the next person has the choice to add another tile or tiles to the run laid out, or alternatively they can start a new run of a different colour.


To help you to earn stars there are a series of rewards and for every tile that you manage to lay down, you can claim one star. If you manage to lay a run then you can also claim another star and on the last tile played which clears a player's rack, then this also entitles you to a further bonus star.

For example if I was to lay down a new run consisting of the numbers 3, 4, 5, then I would score 4 stars. It is very simple to pick up once in play and as soon as we had finished our first round, my children immediately requested to play again.

There are also 4 Joker tiles that can be drawn and these are very useful and valuable tiles, due to the fact that they can be used as any colour or numbered tile in a run. You can also use two or more jokers in the same run which can make the game quite exciting.

The game is complete once a player manages to successfully lay down all of their tiles from the rack. The remaining players must then each pay the bank one star, for each tile that they have remaining. The winner is the player with the most stars, but in the event of a tie, then the winner can be determined by who managed to put down all of their tiles first.


Overall my family and I really enjoyed this game. Whilst I initially thought it would be most ideal for my youngest son Riley, it ended up being something that we could all enjoy and it has been a great addition to our family collection. Everyone picked up the idea of the game very quickly which meant that no one got frustrated trying to understand how to play. I particularly liked the fact that it was helping my youngest son with his numeracy skills, as well as encouraging him to use logical thinking. With an RRP of £22.99, I think that this is great value for money and I would definitely recommend Junior Rummikub to others.

Junior Rummikub can be purchased from toy retailers including Amazon.

If you would like to find out more about Junior Rummikub or other products available from Ideal Games, then you can visit their social media pages on the following channels:



*Disclaimer: We were gifted this game of Junior Rummikub for the purpose of writing an honest review of the product and our experience. All opinions and thoughts are my own, unless otherwise stated. This post contains an Amazon affiliate link.

Saturday, 11 April 2020

Regal Entertainments Ltd to Present a Free Easter Pantomime: Rapunzel - The Lockdown Panto

This Easter, despite the lock-down, Regal Entertainments Ltd have created a free online Pantomime for all the family to enjoy, and what better fairy-tale to be presented during a lock-down than that of a young girl locked up in a tower?

Rapunzel: The Lockdown Panto will live stream daily on St Helen's Theatre Royal's Facebook and Instagram accounts from Sunday 12th April to Saturday 18th April 2020 at 1:30pm.

The uniquely filmed production will star a host of the regular stars that appear at St Helens Theatre Royal. Olivia Sloyan will play Rapunzel, James Lacey as the Witch, Lewis Devine as Daft Dave, Samantha Palin as the Queen, Warren Donnelly as the King, Andrew Geater as the Prince, Abby Middleton as Fairy Anna(logue) and Jenna Sian O'Hara as Pixel the Pixie.


For this special production, each cast member has recorded their own section of the pantomime at home, and, through careful editing, the story is brought together, to create a unique online pantomime that the whole family will enjoy. The pantomime is written and directed by James Lacey and choreographed by Sarah Walker.

Regal Entertainments had to reschedule their usual Easter Pantomime at St Helens Theatre Royal, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, which will now take place in the Autumn.

Producer and Director at Regal Entertainments, Chantelle Nolan says: "During the national lockdown we wanted to reward and entertain families for being responsible and isolating. So many of our customers were disappointed not to be able to come and see our Easter pantomime in St Helens, so we thought that, this year, we would bring the panto to them.

"We have an incredibly talented cast, who are more than up to the challenge of creating a unique, new show and we're going to put on a fantastic online show that all ages can enjoy."

Rapunzel tells the tale of a young girl stolen from her family and locked away from the world in a tower by a wicked witch. Unable to leave, she must let down her golden hair for the witch to climb to bring her food. One day a handsome prince discovers the tower and sees the beautiful girl. Will Rapunzel and the Prince find their freedom? Will they live happily ever after? Or will the wicked witch catch them?

To watch the show, viewers will need to become a fan of the St Helens Theatre Royal Facebook or Instagram accounts where information to view will be posted, the show will launch daily at 1:30pm from Easter Sunday.

Listing Details

Show - Rapunzel: The Lock-Down Panto
Dates - Sunday 12th April to Saturday 18th April 2020
Time - Daily at 1:30pm
Tickets - Free online performance

This show can be watched online for free on Facebook (@StHelensTheatreRoyal) or on Instagram (@TheatreRoyalStH).


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


Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Brightening Up Our Day with Triominos Sunshine - A Review

We have another fabulous review for you today, this time covering the wonderful game of Triominos Sunshine, which is a bright and colourful version of the classic game Triominos. It is a fun variation of the well known Dominos, however instead of rectangular pieces, these are triangular shaped instead and if used wisely, you can create various formations and gain some extra scores too.


It instantly appealed to me from the outset, due to its portable size and handy travel bag packaging, which means that we will be able to take this with us on our adventures and holidays in the future. It can be played by 2-4 players and is recommended for children aged 6+ which I would agree is a suitable age.

The contents of our game included:
  • 1 x Handy Travel Pouch in Orange and Yellow
  • 56 x Triominos
  • 1 x Instructions
The aim of the game is simple and you must try to get as many points as possible by strategically matching the Triominos. Each Triomino is unique, so it is wise to think carefully before using a piece in the hope of achieving some extra points. The aim of the game is to be the player who scores the highest number of points and this can be done in a number of ways, by simply placing a piece down to adjacent numbers, or laying your pieces to create a shape such as a bridge or a hexagon.


We played this game initially with 4 players which meant that to begin we placed all the Triominos face down on the table and mixed them all up. We each then chose 7 random Triominos each and placed the remaining tiles at the end of the table to create a 'pool' of spare pieces. If you are only playing with 2 players then you each draw 9 Triominos instead.

In order to decide who begins, each player selects a Triomino from the pool and adds up the numbers on the tile. The person with the highest number gets to go first, which I think is a very simple way to select the starting player and also prevents any arguments.


The first player then places any Triomino of their choice on the table and adds up the value of the numbers. The next player must then try to place one of their Triominos next to the tile that is already on the table by matching the numbers on one side. This might sound easy but as the game progresses it can become quite difficult and requires some thought into your chosen move. Only one Triomino can be placed down per go and if you are unable to use any of your existing tiles, then you must select a spare from the pool. If you are still unable to go, then you can take a further tile from the pool up to a maximum of three times. For each Triomino that is selected this way, you must deduct 5 points from your score. If you select the maximum three pieces and still cannot place a tile then you lose an additional 10 points. This means that you can lose points just as quickly as you can earn them.

Bonus points can also be scored if you manage to create a shape such as the following:
  • If you form a Bridge you can score 40 extra points
  • If you form a Hexagon you can score 50 extra points
  • If you form a Double Hexagon then you can score 60 extra points
  • If you form a Triple Hexagon then you can score 70 extra points


The game comes to a conclusion when a player manages to place down their last tile and they then score a bonus of 25 points. In addition they can also add the total of all the points the other players still have on their racks.Each player then simply adds up their score and the person with the highest number of points is the winner!

Overall I really liked this game and I am pleased to have found a fun new game that is small and portable enough to come on our travels with us in the future. The handy zipped pouch is ideal for keeping all of the pieces safe and I loved the bright and vibrant colours. I would have liked the addition of a little score pad, so that you can keep a note of the points as you play, but we have simply used a small spare notepad instead. It is a strategic game that really encourages you to think and my youngest son Riley particularly enjoyed this game and working with numbers. With an RRP of £14.99, I think this is a very fair price for an enjoyable family game that can be used both at home and away and I would gladly recommend this to others.

Triominos Sunshine can currently be purchased online from Amazon, but if you would like to find out more about Triominos Sunshine or the other products in the Ideal Games range, then you can visit their social media pages on the following channels:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/IdealGamesUK/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/idealgamesuk/


*Disclaimer - We were gifted with the game of Triominos Sunshine for the purpose of writing an honest review of the game and our experience. All opinions and thoughts are my own unless otherwise stated. This post contains and Amazon affiliate link.

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Family Fun with Othello - A Review

You will have hopefully read our recent post about a fabulous bundle of boredom busting games that we were sent from Ideal Games UK to help us keep busy and entertained over the coming weeks. My family and I had a wonderful selection of both classic and new games sent to us, which we shall be putting to the test over the next few days.

There was a little debate as to which game we should try first, but after having a good look through the games on offer, we decided to start with Othello. All of us enjoy fast paced strategy games, so this seemed the perfect choice to begin our family games night with.


Othello is a two player game, where the object is to trap and capture your opponents disks, whilst strategically placing yours on the board. If you trap the other players disk, then you can flip this over to match your colour, but of course they can also do the same to you, so it helps to try and think ahead before placing your next move.

We hadn't actually played this game before, so we each had a good look at the box and read through the instructions before starting to play. The front of the box has a large image, which shows a green playing board along with black and white disks. There is a caption that runs along the bottom that states "A Minute To Learn.... A Lifetime To Master!"

The rear of the box provides much more detail, along with a brief explanation of how to play. There were numerous images that gave examples of the game in play, which were also accompanied by some short sentences of written instructions. Once we had all taken a look at the box and the enclosed guidance, then we were ready to play and began to set up the board.

On opening the box we found the following contents:
  • 1 x Instruction Manual
  • 1 x Playing Board
  • 64 x Reversible Disks
  • 4 x Playing Board Feet
There isn't much assembly involved in this game at all and the only preparation you need to make is inserting the 4 playing board feet into the base and lining up your disks in your players row. Each player has 32 disks, with one person playing the white colour and the other person the black. The object of the game is to be the player with the most disks of your colour at the end. 

To begin play you both start with 2 disks placed in the centre position as shown below. Each player then takes it in turns to place down a new disk, whilst also trying to outflank your opponents disks. Outflanking means to place a disk on the board that traps your opponents disk at either end. If you outflank their disk(s), then you get to flip them over to your colour and the game continues.


To outflank a disk(s), it must be in a continuous line but can travel in a number of directions including vertically, horizontally and diagonally. This means that if you carefully observe the board, you could place your disk to actually outflank your opponent in a number of different ways.

If at any point there is no possible move for you to make to outflank your opponent, then you must forfeit your go, however if there is a move available then you must take your go, even if this would not be to your advantage. Once it is no longer possible for either player to make a move, then the game is over and the player with the majority of their coloured disks is the winner.


Overall we really enjoyed this game and to be honest I liked it more than I had expected to. My first impressions were that it would be a very simple game and it would be over in seconds, but in fact it requires quite a lot of thinking and consideration of your next move or strategy. Riley is only 7, but he picked up the concept of the game really quickly and I liked watching him take the time to think out his next move. My two older children aged 12 and 13 also found this game to be really fun and it was great to see them playing against each other in such a calm, yet competitive way. As it is only a two player game, it wasn't possible for us all to play at the same time, however we turned it into a family championship instead and did a series of rounds, semi finals and finals until crowning our Ultimate Othello Champion!

Othello is a game that is simple to learn and enjoyable to play. It has an RRP of £22.99 which I think is a reasonable price for this game. It can be purchased from retailers such as Argos and Amazon.

If you would like to find out more about Othello or any of the other products available from Ideal Games, then you can visit their social media pages on the following channels:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/IdealGamesUK/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/idealgamesuk/



*Disclaimer - We were gifted the game of Othello for the purpose of writing an honest review of the game and our experience. All opinions and thoughts are my own unless otherwise stated. This post contains an Amazon affiliate link.


Monday, 6 April 2020

Boredom Busters From Ideal Games

We are all going through worrying times at present with the current pandemic and for children in particular, there has been a lot of change and uncertainty created. Like most parents, we are trying our best to stay positive and encouraging our kids to continue with their school work, take some time out in the garden, speak with their friends regularly and talk to us if they have any worries. They have been absolutely fantastic these past couple of weeks, however it is only inevitable that the boredom will gradually start to creep in for all of us.

We have therefore been looking for some boredom busting games and activities that we can enjoy together, make us laugh and help us to take our mind off current events, if only for a moment. We were therefore absolutely delighted (and a little overwhelmed) when the lovely team at Ideal Games sent us a fantastic selection of products to keep us busy over the coming days and weeks.

For any families out there that enjoy board games, I intend to write a full review on each game pictured and I will upload a new one every couple of days throughout April. This will not only help us to keep busy as a family, but I also hope it will help to provide other families with some ideas and inspiration of games that they can also enjoy together.

Be sure to check back in the next couple of days to see our latest review, we just need to decide which of these great games we are going to play first!

If you would like to find out more about any of these games, then you can visit the Ideal Games social media pages on the following channels:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/IdealGamesUK/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/idealgamesuk/


*This is a collaborative post and we have been gifted the games featured in this image for the purpose of writing an honest review. 


Thursday, 2 April 2020

Wordsearch Junior - A Review

Like most parents we are still trying to find the right balance between learning at home and still having some fun, during the school closure period. My children are doing great with the work that has been set by their teachers, however I think it is also good to add a touch of educational fun into the mix to help try and maintain a positive mood.

Therefore, when an opportunity recently arose to review Wordsearch Junior, I thought this would be an ideal game to help Riley learn how to identify and read some new words, in addition to working on his spellings. We therefore excitedly waited for it to arrive, before involving it in one of our literacy lessons this afternoon.


Wordsearch Junior is described on the box as being a fun way to play and read. It is recommended for children aged 5+ and can be played by 2 to 4 players at a time. There are three levels of play which each vary in difficulty, so you can choose the most appropriate game boards for your child.

The front of the box is really bright and vibrant, which features the name of the game across the front in large text. The rear of the box has some really clear images, that give you a good idea of how the game is played and what you will find inside.


On opening the packaging we found the following contents:

  • 1 x Game Board (consisting of a base, transparent disk and ring)
  • 6 x Blue Picture Grids
  • 6 x Red Picture and Word Grids
  • 6 x Green Word Only Grids
  • 140 Counters (35 red, 35 green, 35 yellow, 25 blue)
  • 1 x Instruction Manual

The grids have varying levels of difficulty, with the Blue picture grids being the easiest. These grids consist of pictures only and you have to look for sets of 3 pictures in the right sequence. The red grids feature both pictures and words, so this is ideal for younger players who can use the picture clues to help them locate and identify the words. The green grids are words only and you simply have to search for the word as quickly as possibly against your opponent.


As this was Riley's first attempt at such a game, we opted to try one of the red grids first, so that he could get use to the game and understand exactly what he needed to do. We therefore chose one of them and placed it into the base of the game board. I then covered this with the transparent disk, which then holds the grid into position, before finally adding the blue ring.

To begin the game, you simply turn the board until the grid colour appears in the word gap in the ring. Each player then takes a turn to turn the grid and reveal a new word and reads this out aloud for everyone to hear (or in the case of the blue image board, simply describe the picture instead).

The words can be displayed in any direction so it is important to look not only left, right, up and down, but also diagonally too. Everyone searches for the word and the first player to spot it, shouts out the word and points at the answer. If this is correct, then they can place down their coloured counters to cover the word.

Game play continues like this until all the words have been found and the coloured section appears in the word gap again. If a word you find has to cover a space that already has another players counter in, then you can remove it and replace it with yours. Riley particularly enjoyed this part of the game and thought it was hilarious that he could remove my counters.

Once a full turn of the grid is completed then each player counts how many counters they had placed down on the board, with the winner being the person who has successfully used the most counters. A player can also win by using up all their counters, which Riley managed to do on a couple of occasions, much to his delight!


Once Riley had got the hang of the game, we decided to try one of the harder levels and switched from a red grid to one of the green wordsearch grids. Riley was a little apprehensive at first as he thought he would find it too difficult, but to be honest he surprised both himself and me, winning the first game with ease!

The green grid works in exactly the same way, except you are solely looking for words and there are no images this time to help you out. There were a couple of occasions where I thought I had found a word only to find that I was wrong, so make sure you definitely know where the word is before shouting it out.

For younger members of the family, the blue grids are ideal as these feature pictures only, so it is a great way of improving observation skills from an early age. I felt that these boards would have been too easy for Riley so we didn't attempt them, but they looked great and easy to understand.


Overall I really enjoyed playing this game with Riley and felt that it was a great way to help him learn some new words, whilst also staying focused. He enjoyed reading out the words, as well as racing against me to be the first to find them. We also made sure that we spelt out each word as we placed our counters down, which I hope will help Riley with his spellings going forward. We both found it to be a fun educational game and I look forward to playing it with him regularly going forwards. 

The game is very easy to set up and it has simple instructions to play, making it an ideal game for families to enjoy together. Wordsearch Junior has an RRP of £19.99 and can be purchased from Amazon.


*Disclaimer - We were gifted with this item for the purpose of writing an honest review of the product. All thoughts and opinions are my own unless otherwise stated. This post contains an Amazon affiliate link.