Soooooooooo if you’re not the sort of person who likes to hear about Christmas look away now.

If you’re still here then we must have something in common! Christmas is coming and I can’t wait!

The first signs of Christmas are starting now. One of the first things I love doing is visiting Bents Garden and Home Centre Christmas displays.

I’ve written about Bents since my blog began. One of my first posts back in 2014 was about Bents at Christmas. I love the place. Its amazing! All year round there’s something for everyone, young and old.

2017 saw the opening year for their Winter Food Market and each year so far its returned.

This year I was so excited that the team at Bents invited me to a sneaky preview of their Christmas displays, which officially opened yesterday (16th October). Each year the room displays are just amazing, this year it seems to have expanded once again and now all the Bents colleagues are getting involved in decorating the store. I think one of my personal favourite parts of 2019 shopping area is the lit up archways, its magical!

The table displays are inspiring! And the cafe display this year is just stunning. I can’t pick a favourite display, they are all awesome and very Christmassy.

I’ve made a little vlog about Christmas at Bents this year because pictures don’t do it justice.

Of course the best way to see it is to visit Bents which is easy to find and has loads of free parking onsite.

If you haven’t been to Bents before make sure you leave yourself enough time to see everything. Theres so much to see, including the food hall, plants, home, gifts, clothing and of course Christmas. Theres a huge choice of places to eat, you’ll defiantly find something to suit everyone.

In better weather theres even mini golf to play.

Thanks so much to Bents for inviting me for a sneak peak of Christmas. I can’t wait to take the boys next week!

A few months ago we were asked if we’d like to be part of the blogger board game club. Being part of the board game club meant we were gifted a game to play and asked to write about it. I was not paid to do this and under no obligation to write favourably. So as always this is our honest thoughts about Cobra Paw. So far we’ve also reviewed Harry Potter Dobble and Science Museum Timeline.

Cobra Paw, manufactured by Bananagrams Inc. and imported by Asmodee

When I had free choice of games to pick for playing this was the final pick of three. I’d not heard of it before. Where as the other two I had heard of before. I picked this as it’s aimed at age 6 and above. Although I’d say you would be able to play from around age 4. Having three boys, two of which are 8 and 5 I thought it would be perfect.

The game contents include 21 tiles (a bit like dominoes) and two dice all with symbols on. As well as a set of instructions. The tiles are really well made and feel nice to handle.

To play the game you place all 21 tiles face up on the table. Roll both dice and the first person to pick up the tile with the matching symbols wins that tile. The aim of the game is simple, first to win 6 tiles wins the game.

It doesn’t take much time to finish a round of the game which is good for little people with shorter attention spans.

In the instructions there’s also three other variations of the game that you can play which keep play interesting.

Review Round Up

What we loved about the game:

  • It’s very easy to play
  • As long as you have a table you can play
  • Easy for anyone to understand
  • Game can be over quickly but can be repeated lots of times and still won’t be the same
  • The tiles and dice are really well made, like a lovely set of heavy dominoes – feel like soap stone
Cobra paw the game with tiles in front of the box

What we thought could have been improved:

Not a whole lot really as it’s great, the only thing we thought might be better is if it came with a drawstring bag to keep everything in. The box is lovely and well designed, with great graphics but takes up much more space than keeping the times in a little bag would. Even though the box is quite small it could be stored somewhere else in a little bag.

Overall it’s a fab quick game to fill some time that’s suitable for both adults and children. Warning though file your nails before you start or you may get snatched in grabbing the tile at the same time as someone else….or is that just me bing highly competitive?!

You can buy Cobra Paw at Amazon and other retailers. Thanks to Asmodee for sending us Cobra Paw to try out.

Rain rain go away, come again when schools are back!

Whats with this weather? Why has it not stopped rain gin for a week or so. Summer holidays are supposed to be about picnics and late nights in the garden. Not couped up indoors for days on end.

There was a light at the end of the tunnel for us last weekend when M&S offered us a picnic.

You may have seen that recently M&S launched their ‘Little Shop’ range. I was not involved with launching the campaign. I found out about it through my friend Sim who writes at Sim’s Life Blog. If you haven’t checked her out she’s an awesome lady! Anyway after I found out about the Little shop range the boys and I went into the store to buy some for ourselves. I’ve had a life long love of miniature things which started with dolls houses as a child, so these are perfect.

Little shop are miniature versions of M&S favourite products. You get one free with every £20 you spend in their food shop. You can then buy extras such as the trolley and display case.

After I spoke about them on instagram M&S contact us to see if we’d like to celebrate the limited edition Percy Pig golden money box with a picnic. I wan’t going to turn down some yummy food! So I picked up our gifted package of food all set for a fantastic weekend. I was not paid to write this post, I was not even asked to write about the food. I just chose to because it’s another family memory to keep for us.

Given the weather forecast a carpet picnic and film day it was for us. M&S gifted us the ingredients for their new Chris Baker Steak sandwich with chimichurri recipe. Cooking is right up Neils street so he was very chuffed to be able to get stuck in. I have to say the chimichurri was amazing and tasted so fresh.

The thing that surprised me the most was something I probably wouldn’t have chosen but my goodness they are good. I’m so glad we got to try them, we will definitely be buying more! And that was the Plant Kitchen Cauliflower Popcorn. They cone with a spicy buffalo dip and are vegan too.

This was also Roo’s favourite thing of the day, he ate an awful lot of them!

So thanks to M&S for brightening up what was otherwise a dreary day, we ate amazing yummy food, watched films and stayed dry. Now if the sun would just come out that would end the week nicely!

Now if you’ve never heard of Dobble I need to explain how simply amazing it is….read on! If you haven’t heard of Harry Potter…where have you been? Now combined together I think you’ve just about got the perfect quick to play fun game for just about every age!

As part of the blogger board game club this month we’ve had great fun playing Harry Potter Dobble. Last month we were busy playing Timeline the Science Museum edition.

We first came across the game called Dobble a fair few years ago. As soon as we found out about it I bought it. In a nutshell its a matching game. The aim of the game (however you play it, and there are various ways to win) is to match a symbol on the card in your hand with one on the table. The key point being that only one symbol on each pair of cards will match.

Now as you can see on these two cards its Severus Snape

Now this is the part that frazzles my brain, I don’t understand how only one symbol can match at any one time given that all the symbols are in play. But essentially its true. I’m sure a mathematician could explain it!

Easy you’d think!? WRONG! The symbols are all different sizes and different ways round. Sometimes as hard as you try the match seems impossible to find….until someone else points it out to you! It’s addictive! You have to find the match to prove people wrong. I digress. Can you tell I love dobble!

A picture of the setup of Harry Potter Dobble on a wooden table.

So Harry Potter dobble then is just like regular dobble except all the symbols are Harry Potter themed. It’s ace for Harry Potter fans. You’ll spot all your favourites including characters, objects and a personal favourite the screaming mandrake!

Theres a whole host of ways to play the game and they are all explained in the included instruction. Games are available for up to 8 players at a time.

A picture of some of the rules of Dobble this one is hot potato game.

What we love about Harry Potter Dobble:

  • It’s super easy to play
  • The games are quick
  • Pretty much any age can enjoy it (my middle baby has played since he was around 4)
  • The rules are easy to understand
  • It’s very portable and comes in a storage tin
  • It doesn’t require much space, just a surface for the cards which can be airline tray size or smaller

I don’t think there’s anything not to like about Dobble. We od have one tip though. If you are taking it in your hand luggage leave the tin behind and pop the cards into something else. Twice we’ve been searched at airport security because they can’t tell what the Dobble tin is on the X-ray!!

A picture of Harry Potter Dobble in its packaging, showing a small round tin in a cardboard box. The tin says Dobble HP on the front.

It’s available to buy from lots of places including the Amazon. The link I have put in is an affiliate link which means you pay exactly the same price but I get a couple of pence from the sale so I’m super grateful if you do use the link.

Thanks to Asmodee for sending us Harry Potter Dobble to play. I have not been paid for this post.

Since it’s the summer holidays (again, where did that year go?) I thought I’d write a post about how I try to keep my boys healthy. This post was inspired by KidsKalm by probio7. They recently reached out to me to see if I’d like to write about the product. I agreed I’d be more than happy to since I already
buy and give KidsKalm powders for Roo. I haven’t been paid for this post but I was sent a months supply for my use by them.

Summer is a time for us when we need to juggle childcare and hopefully enjoy some holidays time, so now more than ever I want the boys to be healthy. No one wants their children to be ill on holidays. If you’ve been reading my blog a while you’ll know I suffer from emetophobia (the fear of sickness) and I’ve written about it before here. So any illness in my boys triggers anxiety in me.

So bearing that in mind I thought I’d write about my top 5 tips for keeping them healthy, things I do everyday.

1. Drink Water

Leave reusable bottle lying around the house, or if they are at holiday clubs send them in with water. Water is great for keeping hydrated and keeping you well. Dehydration is not fun and can make children (and adults) really poorly.

2. Wash Hands

This is a very important one. Always after using the toilet and before eating. Teach your children how to wash properly, with soap and running water. Taking their time to make sure they’ve washed all the areas including fingertips and palms.

3. Daily Probiotics

I’ve been giving my boys probiotics since they were all around 9 months. Once they started eating solid foods and picking up all sorts of things form floors to chew on I wanted to make sure they had a healthy gut. Probiotics are putting the good bacteria in your tummy that help keep you healthy to support good digestion and immune health. The last few months I’ve been using Probio 7 KidsKalm powders. The powder is tasteless and can be put on food or added to cold drinks. It’s vegan and the great thing is unlike a lot of children’s probiotics you don’t need to keep them in the fridge.

probio7 kidskalm sachets in a blue box

4. Exercise and Fresh Air

Theres nothing worse than feeling sluggish after you’ve done nothing but sit around all day. I try to get the boys out at least once a day even if it’s just the garden for a while. If its rainy or cold dress up for the weather and just get outside. You never know how much fin you can have until you’ve seen a puddle through the eyes of a toddler!

5. Balanced Diet

It’s all too easy in the summer holidays to go from one day to the next wondering what to feed the small people. Especially if they are like mine and just constantly want to eat things!

So during the day if we are at home and they want something to eat there are a few rules. If it’s a snack they want before they have anything unhealthy then they must have some fruit and water. IF after that they still want something then they can have up to two small unhealthy snacks a day. They are not allowed snacks pithing 45 minutes of a main meal. If they are hungry they can wait until the meal is ready. And the last thing is having a drink before a snack incase their hunger is actually thirst!

All these rules do go out of the window if we are on an actual holiday though and not at home. On holiday there are no rules and they can pretty much enjoy what they want. Everything in moderation so if adults can indulge on a holiday so can the smalls as long as they eat healthy while at home.

Dear brother and sister in law,

I’m so so happy for you both. I can’t wait for you to make your announcement about the baby whenever that might be. I know how annoying it is for people to be asking if the babies here yet. I’m not asking, I know you’ll tell me when it’s arrived. I just want you to know I’m constantly thinking about you both.

So many people will try and give you advice. I know it’s annoying. I won’t give you advice. Or at least I’ll try my best not to. If you ask I can tell you what I did in situations but it’s not advice and you will be lead by your own instincts in making the right decisions for you and your family.

I’m sure lots of people have told you how hard a baby is. It really is and soon you’ll be there yourself. But in so many many more ways it’s the best thing in the whole world. Enjoy it, every single second.

Do what ever feels right to you for your baby. You will become a team together. Sometimes a tag team! But do what you feel. They don’t come with a handbook. There are books, but they’re not written about your baby and you.

Be kind. I mean to each other. Of course you’ll be kind to the small person. It’s so easy especially when you’re tired to snipe at each other. Take an extra moment to be kind, kind words, kind actions. Tiredness is a bitch, but it won’t last forever, I promise that.

Take time for each other, to admire and gaze at the small person you made. Make each other a brew if you have a spare hand. Throw a load of washing in if you can, but don’t expect to have everything the way you used to.

You will both change, after all you will be known as mum and dad. But it’ll be an amazing change. Stay close.

Don’t make decisions in the night, nights are hardest but I promise things always look better in the daylight. Someone once said it to me and it’s absolutely true. If you hold onto one thing hold on to that.

I can’t wait to meet the small person you created. I can’t wait to hug them and you both.

And lastly, the nights and days may be long but the years so short. Hold the baby as much as you can. They grow so quickly.

I love you both very much.

Good luck with your new adventure.

J xxx

Yesterday we were invited to go on a day out to Salford Museum and Ordsall Hall. Both attractions have free entry which is fantastic! We were gifted lunch at the museum. I was not paid to write this post. As always my opinions are my own and our reviews are open and honest.

Our first stop was Salford museum and Art Gallery. Now this is somewhere I have been before a long time ago. When I was doing for my A-level art I chose the artist L.S Lowry to study so visited the art gallery to learn and be inspired.

This visit however is different as its the first visit the boys have taken. I’m seeing the museum through the eyes of a child.I did wonder what they’d think about it. Museums have to be engaging to keep small fry entertained. Especially small fry that can’t really read yet like my 5 year old.

We headed to ‘Lark Hill Place’ first. It’s a recreation of a victorian street, with all kinds of shops and house to view.

Even Roo was enjoying the view

This part of the museum is great for people of all ages, my 1 year old had loads of fun walking up and down the street looking in all the windows. It’s safe to let them walk and they can touch anything that’s at their height which is great as you’re not on pins constantly about them reaching for something they shouldn’t be.

After we’d spent a good deal of time at Lark Hill Place we went to look at the other parts of the museum. If you’ve got toddlers I wouldn’t recommend just letting them wander, there’s lots of amazing exibits to look at but lots of things are labelled as do not touch. I totally understand why you can’t touch them but trying to tell a 19 month old they can’t is nearly impossible. So we didn’t spend a lot of time in the other area, I would definitely go back without him though. It seemed like there was a lot to see.

We stopped for lunch at the museum before we headed off to Ordsall Hall.

The children lunch box deals are great value at only £4 with a freshly made choice of sandwich.

Salford museum and art gallery are free entry. What a fabulous day out in itself for anyone who lives not too far away. If you don’t drive the nearest train station is Salford Cresent, from there its a short walk to the museum.

Ordsall Hall

Our second stop was Ordsall Hall, a place I’ve never been to visit. It’s one of those places that I’ve often heard about but never thought to spend time there. I’m so glad we got the chance to go today. By the time we’d finished at the museum and made our way over there (which isn’t far) we were ready to do some more exploring.

ordsall hall pop up banner

Ordsall Hall is the oldest building in Salford and we learnt that it’s over 820 years old. It was certainly well built! Visually it’s a beautiful building to look at and its history is fascinating.

child in the stocks

We were able to learn through play and recreating scenes from history. The boys dressed up as kings and knights. The chainmail was very heavy and I think it helped Thomas realise just how hard a knight has to work!

small game to play at ordsall hall with spinner and pieces to move around the world

I loved looking at the ornate wood carved features, it’s hard to believe it’s so old and that it was all hand carved.

metal chandelier hanging down from the wood carved ceiling at ordsall hall
beautiful hand carved dark wood table in the hall at ordsall hall

And the windows were beautiful. Even on a dull raining Salford day their beauty shone through.

Beautiful stained glass oval window on the first floor of Ordsall Hall.

Ordsall Hall (like Salford Museum) is also a free entry attraction. There is a pay and display car park which is £2.50 and a little cafe area for light refreshments. One of the areas I’d like to go back and see is the gardens, unfortunately due to the rain I didn’t get chance yesterday.

Small cafe area at ordsall hall for light refreshments

I’m not sure why I haven’t been before. We will definitely be coming back again since it’s so close to us. It’s has something for all ages and children are very welcome, with something for them to do in each room. It was a real surprise for us. I’d highly recommend a visit if you have small people to entertain this summer holiday!

Thanks again to Salford Museum and Ordsall Hall for asking us to come and visit and providing lunch for us.

a tin box with the game timeline science museum inside

Recently I was asked to be part of the blogger board game club and of course it’s something we do a lot so I was delighted. The first of our board games to review is Science Museum Timeline. I’ve played timeline games before but never actually owned one so we were excited to try this.

My 8 year old Thomas is quite the brain box and so this game is right up his street. On his recent school report his teacher described him as ‘a walking encyclopaedia’ which made me laugh because it’s pretty accurate.

If you’re not familiar with the timeline concept of games its basically putting events in the correct order. There are now lots of variations of the same game depending on what you are in to which is great. You can get variations including events form history, star wars, inventions etc and each game comes with 110 cards so you’ll never be able to remember them all! This means you can play them again and again for long lasting play.

Science Museum timeline comes in a square tin containing the rules and 100 play cards. Each card is double sided. One side has an event or achievement based on the Science museums collection of scientific, technological or medical achievement form access the globe. The other side has the exact sam thing but also the year it happened.

Each player is dealt a certain amount of cards based on how many are playing.These are dealt with the date side down. No cheating now! Of course if you like a challenge by all means deal more! Then the remaining cards are placed date down in the centre. One card is turned face up on the table to start the game. The youngest player starts and has to compare their top card with the card on the table, and decide if it happened before or after. Once they have decided they place it date face up on the table next to the original card. Where they right? If yes it remains there, if not its discarded and they have to take a new card from the draw pile. Play then continues round the table.

Summary

The aim of the game is to be the first one to get rid of all the cards in your hand. Not quite as easy as it first appears!

What we loved about this game was that it is quick to set up. It’s simple to understand, and easy to play. The challenge comes in trying to put event dates in order. We loved that you are also learning things as you go along. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s really tricky. Another bonus is that it can be mixed with other versions of Timeline for even more game play.

What I particularly love is that it’s compact. It doesn’t take up much room and would be ideal for travel. As you can see we played ours outside in the sunshine.

If you want to buy Timeline its available from amazon here. That link is an affiliate link which means if you buy through there it costs you exactly the same but amazon will give me a couple of pence from the sale.

Thanks to Asmodee for sending us the games to play. We look forward to other games in future months!

To be open and honest with my readers I’ll pop this at the start. We were sent the Dino Epic Egg for the boys to play with at no charge. I have not been paid for this post. As always to keep my blog authentic I only post about products I would buy myself. Felix loves dinosaurs and smashing things so the two things combined are perfect!

Alongside the egg we were also send a pack of 8 Zuru smashers dino egg and a collectors tin (this will come in handy for Felix to store all his little dinos!)

So Smashers Dino Epic Egg does what it says on the tin (or egg!). It is huge! With over 25 surprises to be found inside, to build the exclusive Smash-o-saur Dino!

You can smash the smasher on the ground a wall or any hard surface. Be sure to check where your small people are planning on smashing it first though!

The Smashers app allows you to interact with your collection and earn Smash Points to become the ultimate Smashers champion!

Inside each Epic Dino Egg, you’ll discover more surprises like Smash Eggs with a Smash Egg rebuilder and digging tools. With access to Rare and Ultra Rare characters like the Skull Smashers, the smashing will never end! 

Now on to the smashing part!

**SPOILER ALERT**

Want to see what we found inside ours?

So at first I have to be honest I was skeptical, would there be enough inside to justify the price? I’m a convert! One by one each thing has been played with. The Ice age putty was a hit (especially with me!) because its not sticky. It’s like real old fashioned putty.

Each element contains dino bones to build a large dino, as much as I wanted to feature that on the blog, honestly they’ve not even opened some of the elements yet! It really is lasting!

The bath fizzier was a hit and they both had fun fishing the dino bones from the water once it had fizzed out. Thankfully the bones float!

They’ve yet to get on to opening the fossil rock, dino dirt or slime. That’s this weekends fun to come! Not to mention being able to smash open the little eggs to see which dino’s we are adding to the collection. Lets hope we get a super rare one!

We filmed our smashers Dino epic egg, if you want to see the full thing have a look below

The Smashers Epic Dino Egg retails at RRP: £24.99, is suitable for ages 5+ and is available at Smyths, The Entertainer, Argos, Tesco, Asda, B&M, SAINSBURY’S Supermarket and all the major retailers.

Ever since I can remember I’ve loved making things clean, tidy and organised. As a little girl although my bedroom probably wasn’t that tidy I loved the idea of organising it. I likes to move furniture around, rearrange. Since I moved out 14 years ago I’ve loved making my own home tidy. As I sit here now typing this I can see from the corner of my eye that there’s a packet of baby wipes on the floor and not in the drawer, it’s bothering me!

I hate things being out of place. I get cross when people don’t put things back properly or leave things dirty. I was over the moon when one of my surprises at Christmas was a wifi controlled robot vacuum cleaner! (Which at some point I need to write a review for…spoiler I love it!)

Thats why I’m so thankful for the current craze of cleaning and organising. It’s made me realise that I clean things not for anyone else. I clean things to make myself feel better. I struggle to relax and always think that if I’m sat down not doing much I should instead be cleaning or tidying.

I read the Maire Kondo book back in 2014 way before it was main stream and a Netflix series. I even wrote a blog post about it. At the time there were no guides for how to fold but I read the book and followed the instructions.

My drawers have stayed the same since 2014. You couldn’t get the book in bookstores back then or in a supermarket it was not mainstream. I used to mention the book to friends but no-one had heard of it. Now everyone knows who Kon-Marie is! Now theres a whole series on Netflix starring her.

Theres also been a rise in social media ‘cleaners’. Theres a few books out. I’ve not read them but I’m sure they are great. I love that I can pop on instagram and have wonderful pictures of tidy houses and cleaning products straight away according to who I follow.

So it’s now socially ok to love clean and tidy. It’s ok for me to list it as a hobby. I realise its totally normal to love this stuff and I’m thankful for the current craze!