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chrisandmark_is_here

chrisandmark_is_here

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Donald Trump, Brexit, Bruce Forsyth still alive - strange times indeed

Reviews written

since 03/07/2011

894

Wooden Thomas&Friends: Roundabout Action Turntable 25/04/2017

Thomas On The Turn?

Wooden Thomas&Friends: Roundabout Action Turntable ~x~x~x~ Thomas on the turn? ~x~x~x~ Well yes, in this house he is - at six David very rarely plays with his Thomas trains; while he does still watch the little engines on the tele and has a few Thomas related toys and bits of clothing which is still likes, the days of making tracks (and finding a seemingly never ending supply of batteries for his engines) are over. During the time when David was a big Thomas fan his dad and I clashed over the style of tracks and trains, I much preferred the wooden selection whereas Mark likes the plastic Trackmaster sets which have the bonus of being run by battery (those never ending ones...) making the trains self powered rather than having to be pushed around. Obviously David has benefited massively with our disagreement as he's ended up with a masssssssssive amount of track, both plastic clippy track and the (better) wooden tracks which fit together using a kind of jigsaw shaped join. The Roundabout Action Turntable was actually one of the last things I bought for David just before his Thomas obsession ended, bundled with a wooden Tidmouth Sheds I thought he'd love it - and if I'd bought it six month previously he would have loved it, unfortunately (as kids do) he decided he was no longer the world's biggest Thomas fan a few days after receiving it so the sheds and turntable haven't been used as much as I'd hoped (and in all honesty the turntable is a bit naff anyway so I doubt it would have ever been a favourite toy). ~x~x~x~ Marketed ...

Yankee Candle Wax Melt Jar Macintosh 16/04/2017

More Mackintosh Than Macintosh!

Yankee Candle Wax Melt Jar Macintosh ~x~x~x~ It's a wax tart in a different shape - and not as smelly... ~x~x~x~ I love Yankee Candle and buy their candles, tarts and reed diffusers regularly - it's rare to find a real bargain from this brand though, and while you might see offers of a couple of quid knocked off occasionally you'll usually find yourself paying full price. I'd read reviews on these Wax Melt Jars but hadn't seen them available in the shops where I buy my Yankee Candle bits and pieces from, I later found out they'd been quickly discontinued after not receiving a very good reception from Yankee Candle Fans - when I spotted a couple in a charity shop recently for the bargainous price of 49p each I decided to grab them and make my own mind up. The two I ended up with were Buttercream and this Macintosh tart, I've had the Buttercream fragrance in several formats of Yankee Candle several times so knew what to expect with that one but as far as I remember had never sampled Macintosh - being predominantly apple scented I thought I'd like it so decided to use that one first as it seemed a good fragrance for springtime to start freshening the house up a little. ~x~x~x~ What's a Wax Melt Jar? ~x~x~x~ Well, basically it's a wax melt but instead of the fluted circular tart this takes the shape of a Yankee Candle Jar candle. It's moulded into a thick shape so breaking it is a problem, but don't let the stock photo deceive you as this looks a huge piece of wax but in reality it's very small. One full Wax ...

Hide and Seek 07/04/2017

Robert de Niro In Mediocre Film Shocker!

Hide and Seek ~x~x~x~ When Hide and Seek isn't all fun and games... ~x~x~x~ I'm a huge fan of Robert de Niro and remember when Hide and Seek was released (was it really twelve years ago?!), we'd planned to go and see it at the cinema but things hadn't quite gone to plan so it wasn't until a couple of years later that I got around to watching it on DVD. I'm not at all into horrors so wasn't sure if this was going to be something I'd watch all the way through (I'm such a wuss...) but it's not actually as scary as you think based on the trailers and various posters I've seen, I'd probably class it as more of a thriller really although there are certain parts that make you jump through the film! But I'm getting ahead of myself, let me tell you what the film's about. Emily (Dakota Fanning) and her father, David (De Niro), move house following the suicide of Emily's mother - a beautiful woman with apparently everything to live for, it's a huge shock for both of them as they both witness her body in the bath after David finds her. David is a psychologist so when Emily begins to display signs of the shock affecting her mental health he is distraught that he can't help her, she starts to carry a doll around with her and talks to an imaginary friend called Charlie. Charlie isn't a good influence to have around Emily and as the film goes on you realise he may not be imaginary at all, when things start happening (and people start dying) Emily admits Charlie is to blame - but is everything as it ...

Humf Volume 1 - Humf & the Balloons (DVD) 03/04/2017

Fun With A Little Furry Thing

Humf Volume 1 - Humf & the Balloons (DVD) ~x~x~x~ A blast from the recent past ~x~x~x~ When Humf first started on Nick Jnr back in 2008 my (then) one year old daughter absolutely loved it, like most small children she had a love of 'cute things' and Humf certainly is one of those even if I've never been quite able to work out exactly what he is! This is very much a pre-school show/character and unlike many other kids shows I've noticed that once a child is 'too old' for Humf they never tend to go back to it, and if you don't have a child under ten you may not even have heard of it as there has never been all that much publicity for the show (and surprisingly very little merchandise available). Fast forward a couple of years and Hollie's brother came along, eventually learning how much fun television (and particularly Nick Jnr) was and discovering Humf for himself. I forget which child we bought this DVD for, it's the first of three 'box sets' and was released in 2011 (so probably David was the lucky recipient) - box set being in quote/unquote as this is ten episodes on a single DVD, presumably the first series of the cute little show. ~x~x~x~ What the heck is a 'Humf'? ~x~x~x~ Humf, as described by Nick Jr themselves, is a 'little purple furry thing' - he's very sweet and lives with his mum and dad in a flat, neighboured by his friends Loon and Wallace (who are also unidentified but very sweet little creatures). You meet Humf's parents for brief periods during each episode but the focus of each short story is ...

Horrible Histories 26 Episode Collection (Box Set) (DVD) 30/03/2017

Make Learning Fun

Horrible Histories 26 Episode Collection (Box Set) (DVD) ~x~x~x~ History wasn't all beautiful dresses and lounging around! ~x~x~x~ My kids have all enjoyed Horrible Histories but it was only when I home schooled my daughter for a while that I really paid much attention to the TV programme, I've read the books and found them an easy and interesting read for any age but a weird coincidence saw me buying this full collection of Horrible Histories episodes in the charity shop the very same day that Hollie had complained about the quality of them when she watched them via You Tube. I was a little surprised when I first watched an episode as I thought Horrible Histories featured real people, when in fact they are in cartoon format following two kids called Stitch and Mo as they travel back in time to see how the ancient (and sometimes not so ancient) civilisations worked. There are several different 'complete collections' of Horrible Histories, ours is a nine DVD set with each DVD featuring three full episodes (each episode runs for around 20 minutes). Produced by Scholastic they are designed to be a fun look at history, you can expect to learn the names of various things and experiences of whatever era you've decided to study - but as well as that there are all kinds of 'horrible' facts to find out as Stitch and Mo discover it for themselves. ~x~x~x~ Press 'Play' and travel back in time ~x~x~x~ When Stitch and Mo go time travelling they find themselves in the dress of the time and on a mission to learn something about the history of ...

Calpol Vapour Plug & Nightlight 16/03/2017

A Surprisingly Effective Branch-Out Product By Calpol

Calpol Vapour Plug & Nightlight ~x~x~x~ A timely Bzz Kit ~x~x~x~ As a Bzz Agent I get sent things occasionally to test at home and spread the word about, freebies from them have been a little thin on the ground recently but they came up trumps with their latest - a Calpol Vapour Plug & Nightlight. I actually applied for this in the dead of night when the invite came through and could swear it was going to be bottles and sachets of Calpol that I was being asked to Bzz about, when the Vapour Plug came through the post I was surprised and couldn't think that I'd really get much use for it - my kids are much older than the minimum age of three months, well past nightlight stage and don't really get snuffly anyway. I put it in the kitchen drawer actually and resigned myself to 'wasting' it just so I could fill the Bzz activities in - then last week my nine year old daughter had her tonsils out and our house became such a hive of 'medicine' that I thought I might as well try out the Vapour Plug and see if it would help with the 'blocked up' nose the operation had left her with. ~x~x~x~ What's a vapour plug, and what's it to do with Calpol? ~x~x~x~ I've actually had one of these before, years ago, but haven't noticed them on the shelves in Boots, Superdrug or any of the supermarkets for a long while. Having four kids I'm pretty clued up about what's available and do like to keep abreast of what's going on in the non-medicinal world so I think this product may have disappeared for a while, the one I had before ...

Naturya Chia Seeds 08/03/2017

Moving Over To The Seedy Side...

Naturya Chia Seeds ~x~x~x~ Feeling seedy... ~x~x~x~ A couple of months ago I went to an interesting foodie lecture which was based around the idea that a lot of our regular aches and pains can be solved through changes in diet - I've always believed this anyway but towards the end the lecture opened to specific questions from the audience, which were on a (thankfully) private basis where you registered your question and were called out by seat number to speak to the expert who had been deemed most likely to help with your query. I say 'thankfully' as my question was in the Embarrassing Bodies style and related to my going to the toilet (or not, as the case may be) - I'll not go into detail, but I suffer with constipation. Always have, probably always will. It doesn't matter what I eat, sometimes I just can't 'go' and sometimes I can go a bit - I eat LOADS of veg, keep the skin on my potatoes wherever possible, eat very little red meat and no processed meat at all so I assume I'm just a constipated person. My wonderful (really wonderful) GP has diagnosed me with IBS but having never had a colonoscopy I don't actually think I have it, and don't see how such a big disease/syndrome can be diagnosed by me answering a few questions and having my tummy prodded. He's given me laxatives (both bowel stimulants in the form of Senna based products and the osmotic Lactulose which works to help the stool absorb water and soften) and currently thinks Fybrogel is the way forward, but I'm only 40 and don't ...

Ravensburger Disney Cars Memory Game 18/02/2017

Other Characters Are Available!

Ravensburger Disney Cars Memory Game ~x~x~x~ Teaching kids something without them even realising... ~x~x~x~ All my kids have always enjoyed memory games so when David started showing an interest in card games I bought him a couple of the Ravensburger Memory sets - this Disney Cars one and a Thomas & Friends set. Ours is actually Disney Cars 2 but Ciao won't add that one, I can't say I blame them really as there's not all that much difference between the two games from what I can see other than the fact the characters and some of the scenery on the actual cards have been updated to reflect the new wave of characters/story in the sequel. The idea of a memory game is to help young children develop their recognition and memory skills, it's a fun game (albeit very boring for the adult after the first ten minutes or so...) and in my experience the addition of well known cartoon characters really helps to grab the child's attention. To play you simply lay all the cards face down, turn one over and try to find the matching card - at first this is obviously done through guesswork but as more and more cards are revealed it becomes more of a 'oh, where did I see that one?'. If you match the pairs you keep them but if you get it wrong both cards need to be turned face down again and the next player gets a turn, it's a game for two or more players really but David has played by himself lots of times and seems to enjoy challenging himself to find all the pairs (or rather he did, he's six now and has completely 'gone off' ...

Galt Horrible Histories Rotten Romans Jigsaw 14/02/2017

A Taste Of Ancient Rome

Galt Horrible Histories Rotten Romans Jigsaw ~x~x~x~ A different approach to learning ~x~x~x~ A couple of years ago my (now) nine year old daughter was home schooled for a while, I'd taken her out of the hell that was her junior school and afterwards realised that getting her into either of the schools of my choice wasn't going to be as easy as I first thought. The choice was take her back into her school (over my dead body - or, to be more exact, over the headmistresses dead body) or start the terrifying process of teaching her myself - it was a no brainer actually, there was no choice as she wasn't going back to school and I wasn't going to send her to the local slum-school which had available places. When I say I'd taken her out of the school, I mean this was a very last minute decision - in fact she was partway through a lesson about the Romans when I demanded (on threat of me calling the police) the deputy head go and fetch her as I had just about had my fill of the school. Of course, only being seven she was gutted to be leaving her friends and the school she actually liked (our issues were very much behind the scenes) so I aimed and planned to make her home schooling as interesting as possible. This was also for my benefit as I was, frankly, shi**ing myself at the thought of being responsible for a bright little seven year old's education. ~x~x~x~ My first defence against lesson-boredom ~x~x~x~ The Horrible Histories Rotten Romans jigsaw was one of the first things I bought when I came to start buying things ...

The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner (DVD) 09/02/2017

Grittiness - It Began In The 60s...

The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner (DVD) ~x~x~x~ Easy viewing ~x~x~x~ Five weeks. That's how long I've been poorly. A cold hit me a couple of days before New Year and while it was (slightly) entertaining when I realised I possibly had the 'Royal Cold' (I wouldn't have gone to bloody church either!), as the cold dragged on and on with no sign of getting better I started feeling run down and generally 'eugh'. The worst point was two or three weeks ago when for the first time in years I found myself absolutely unable to do anything other than drag myself from my bed to the sofa, Mark and our teen daughter rallied round with getting the little ones to school and one day before heading out to work he popped me on an old black and white film telling me it was an 'easy watch' as the day before I'd be complaining that I didn't even have the health to watch a DVD (zero concentration). I'm not a fan of black and white stuff and especially tend to dislike 60s films, which are always (in my opinion) either depressing as hell or overly 'swinging 60s' in tone/theme. It's a quick 104 minutes which coincidentally was around the length of the average cold-induced naps I was taking, I reasoned it was better to look grateful to Mark, doze through The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner then tell him how much I enjoyed it when he got home... ~x~x~x~ But I didn't have to! ~x~x~x~ See, I honestly did enjoy this film - it's gritty and interesting, has a good cast and not only a decent storyline but a good (but simple) twist at the ...

An Idiot Abroad: the Travel Diaries of Karl Pilkington - Karl Pilkington 01/02/2017

The Seven Wonders - Pilkington Style

An Idiot Abroad: the Travel Diaries of Karl Pilkington - Karl Pilkington ~x~x~x~ Gormless man visits the Seven Wonders... ~x~x~x~ I have a bit of a soft spot for Karl Pilkington (Ricky Gervais not so much...) so when I spotted An Idiot Abroad in one of my local charity shops for 95p I decided to grab it, not particularly because I wanted to read the 'accompanying book' to a series I've already seen a couple of times - but simply due to the fact it looked a nice simple read for those days when I want to ingest words, but can't seem to get my head around anything heavy. The book sat on my shelf for a few months but I finally got the opportunity to read it last weekend when we drove down to Plymouth to visit our daughter who is now living down there - it's a helluva journey from Birmingham and when I saw Mark pulling out the ELO CD I decided the time was right to pick a book to take my mind off the hell that is Mr Blue Sky on loop (kinda ironic that my partner, a massive Villa fan should class the Blues anthem as one of his favourite songs). I also considered ear plugs. An Idiot Abroad is basically the comedic travelogue of Karl Pilkington as he takes up his friends' challenge to visit the Seven Wonders of the World, the friends being irritant-savant Gervais and the not-so-irritating-but-kinda-smug Stephen Merchant who only feature in passing in the book (in the same way they feature in the Karl Pilkington television series, popping in here and there with a phone call to give Karl directions or inform him they've set him a little ...

Fisher-Price Thomas & Friends Trackmaster Shipwreck Rails 30/01/2017

A Thomas Track - With A Twist!

Fisher-Price Thomas & Friends Trackmaster Shipwreck Rails ~x~x~x~ The final instalment to David's Thomas collection ~x~x~x~ It was quite sad this Christmas as David's pile of pressies didn't include a single Thomas item, for most of the six years he has been alive he's adored the little blue engine but now he's all grown up (to hear him talk!) all the toys available just seemed a bit too young for him. This Trackmaster set was actually the last thing added to his Thomas collection, it's had so little use though that it's a shame - it was bought just as his obsession ended and while it was kept in the dining room/play room for a while, the track ended up being broken up and bundled in with the rest of it from other sets (in a closed box which hasn't been opened for months). Shipwreck Rails was released as the obligatory Trackmaster merchandise to tie in with whatever Thomas film has just been released on DVD, in this case Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure. David still loves watching the DVDs and episodes of Thomas & Friends and had had the film for a while before I bought this set, even then it was obvious he wasn't such a fan of the toys as he used to be so I'd waited until I saw it on sale before buying it (the previous year I'd spent £200 on Frozen toys for Hollie for Christmas, only for her to announce a week later that she 'wasn't into Elsa anymore' - I learned my lesson!). If I remember right the RRP was £50 but my set ended up costing just £25 as part of a multibuy offer in Smyths, the cost is rocketing on Amazon at the ...

Fisher-Price Imaginext DC Super Friends Robo Batcave 24/01/2017

Using Your Imagination With Batman

Fisher-Price Imaginext DC Super Friends Robo Batcave ~x~x~x~ A surprise mid-year present ~x~x~x~ At the end of last summer, Mark bought Hollie a motorised scooter. Hollie didn't want a motorised scooter and in all fairness had made it quite obvious to her dad that this was the case - Mark being Mark decided to ignore this and buy the scooter anyway, with the 'of course' ending being that he had to return it after three months of it taking up room and simply not being used. Despite the fact it was for kids aged nine and above, he put little David on it (then five) - the obvious happened and David ended up in a bloody heap underneath the scooter. 'Take the frigging thing back, they will give you a refund if you take grazed and broken David as proof of your stupidity. Ask for a credit note, I'll go and buy something suitable' is what I uttered (in maybe not so many words...) - he kind of did that, but spend some of the credit note on a couple of items David had spotted dotted around. One of which was this Fisher Price Imaginext Robo Batcave, in the sale at £16 with a full RRP of around £28. ~x~x~x~ What's Robo Batcave? ~x~x~x~ I suppose it's Batman's lair, or part of it anyway. It's where the Batman inspired robot lives, a supersized beastie that the smaller Batman figure can actually get inside - the Batcave features various platforms and interactive functions such as hoisting up a cage or activating the areas that 'free' the robot. Totally and utterly made out of plastic, the Batcave and robot do work really well together. ...

Gulliver's Travels (Blu-ray) 20/01/2017

Jack Black Playing Jack Black Again (Only Bigger and Better!)

Gulliver's Travels (Blu-ray) ~x~x~x~ Gulliver's Travels and Jack Black all in one package... ~x~x~x~ I love Jonathan Swift's 18th century Gulliver's Travels novel and have read it dozens of times since first being introduced to it by my nan when I was a child, at a complete other end of the scale I also love Jack Black who in my opinion doesn't get the recognition he deserves as a slapstick and totally self-depreciating actor and personality. When I found myself flying alone to Gran Canaria last year (a mix up in flights, I didn't go on holiday on my own!) I decided it would be the perfect opportunity to watch a film and take my mind of the sheer panic I was feeling at being on a plane with no one to talk to - Gulliver's Travels was the first film I spotted, it was released in 2010 so isn't exactly a new film but I hadn't seen it (or even many clips) and knowing how easy to watch Jack Black is I thought it would be perfect to take up some time during the flight. I really enjoyed it but with plane crashes at the back of my mind I couldn't get into it too much, I did decide however to buy the DVD as soon as we arrived back in the UK as I knew it would make a fab movie night choice that we could watch as a family. ~x~x~x~ True to the book, in a way ~x~x~x~ OK, so the basic story is pretty much the same as the Gulliver's Travels book - Lemuel Gulliver is bored and depressed at his manual job in the mail room of a newspaper, he wants to break into journalism and ends up plagiarising someone elses work in ...

Fisher Price Goodnight Thomas Soft Toy 17/01/2017

Goodnight Thomas - And David!

Fisher Price Goodnight Thomas Soft Toy ~x~x~x~ Soft and gentle ~x~x~x~ David isn't into Thomas as much as he used to be but he loves filling his bed with as many plushies as possible, when he saw this in a charity shop a few months ago he made a beeline for it and asked if he could have it. Bless him, he doesn't really ask for much while we're out so I was happy to pay the £3 they were asking - while I was paying the lady checked a little list she'd got next to the till and told me I'd need two batteries. I said 'ok' with a slightly confused air; I thought I was buying a simple (if slightly bulky) Thomas in toy form and couldn't work out why I'd need batteries, all was revealed when David did 'something' to the toy and it started talking. As a soft toy it's fantastic, the batteries died quite quickly (which I'm not complaining about as they were included) but David hasn't asked for them to be replaced - at six I suppose he's slightly too old for the sound effects, he did use them while the batteries were still working but it didn't bother him even for a nanosecond when he realised Thomas didn't talk anymore. ~x~x~x~ The not-so little blue engine ~x~x~x~ This is a really chunky plushie, it's incredibly well padded so has a feeling that's almost hard to the touch - I mean this in a good way, trains aren't supposed to be as soft as pudding so it's a really nice thing that Fisher Price have given Thomas a little more substance than your average Paw Patrol pup or basic teddy. He feels 'chunky' (that's the only ...
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