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Ravensburger Bugs in the Kitchen 15/10/2017

Got the Game Playing Bug!

Ravensburger Bugs in the Kitchen With three children to buy Christmas presents for I start looking for both ideas and suitable bargains quite early in the year and like to include at least one family type board game that the whole family can enjoy together. I first heard about this 'Bugs in the Kitchen' game via a review here on Ciao and added it as a potential purchase to my Amazon wish list for last Christmas, knowing that the inclusion of a Hexbug Nano would make this a popular choice with my boys. The Product This is a boxed game produced under the popular Ravensburger brand name, suitable for between two to four players. Whilst described as a 'board' game, the entire contents of the box effectively form the board as a 3d maze itself which is a really clever design. The game involves trying to 'trap' a moving bug and earn tokens as a reward. The game includes: * Hexbug Nano inside a little plastic test tube * Game board with 24 movable items of 'cutlery' which form a maze * 18 cockroach tokens * Dice with special cutlery symbols * Cardboard 'trap covers' * Instruction leaflet There is a small amount of assembly needed before the game can be played the first time but this is a once only operation, taking less than ten minutes in total, and the game will then remain set up for the next time. Obviously, as this was a Christmas gift, my youngest was desperate to get this up and running and was a little bit frustrated that he couldn't play with it immediately as there was a lot of other stuff going on ...

Rubik's Twist 09/10/2017

Doin' the Twist!

Rubik's Twist My teenage son's Christmas presents seem to get increasingly expensive the older he gets, but the resulting 'pile' seems to look pretty meagre compared to those of his younger brothers. Every Christmas I have to try and find suitable inexpensive filler items that don't cost a great deal but will help to bulk out presents that take up the space of a matchbox but usually cost the equivalent of my outstanding mortgage! This was the reason that a Rubik's Twist first found its way into the house although we have since acquired another as my middle son also received one from a friend as a birthday present. The Product This is a Rubik's branded toy, trading on the popularity of the iconic Rubik's cube. There is a clear similarity in the design of this toy with the plastic 'snake' comprising of the same kind of hard plastic blocks that make up a traditional Rubik's cube although with this design, the blocks are all connected to make up a long strip with the blocks being able to be twisted and formed into different shapes and patterns. I thought this was a fairly new product to the market but my husband insists that he had one as a child but that it was then known as a Rubik's Snake, rather than a Twist. We own two completely different versions of this Rubik's Twist; one was a limited edition version in blue and white which was produced to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the original Rubik's cube. Our other Twist is the standard version which is the one now readily available ...

Hi-Gear Elite Double Table 02/10/2017

All My Gear is on This Camping Table

Hi-Gear Elite Double Table Camping nowadays is not quite the 'back to nature' experience that it once was. There is a massive amount of equipment and items specifically designed for camping to make the whole experience of sleeping in the great outdoors much more like sleeping indoors! It is possible to purchase everything from portable toilets, wardrobes and camping fridges right down to the more traditional gas camping stove. I must admit that I was a reluctant camper to begin with, which led to considerable expenditure on items to make the whole camping experience more comfortable and enjoyable. One such purchase was this Hi-Gear Elite double table. The Product This is a large table specifically designed for camping. Unusually, the table does not simply fold up like traditional style camping tables. This Hi-Gear model features an exterior frame which folds up in an umbrella style along with the legs. The main 'table' section comes in two halves which click into place and are comprised of a series of plastic slats which fold into each other. This clever system results in much more compact item when folded up and comes supplied with a strong canvas bag which keeps all of the components together securely in a very compact package. The filled bag is slim enough to fit easily in a car boot and can be squeezed down in the foot well of the rear passenger seats if space is at a premium. Ease of Assembly After purchasing this table we were surprised that it wasn't supplied with assembly instructions as it ...

Lego Ninjago 70743 Airjitzu Morro Flyer 26/09/2017

This Lego Set Has Me In a Spin!

Lego Ninjago 70743 Airjitzu Morro Flyer The Lego range of products is immense with new sets being constantly introduced and others retired from production. The Ninjago range is one of the newer lines and a popular choice for young children, thanks to the Ninjago tv show 'Lego Ninjago; Masters of Spinjittzu' currently showing its seventh series on the Cartoon Network channel. Popularity of this range is likely to increase further as the Lego Ninjago Movie has just been released and is currently showing in cinemas. The Toy This is a small Lego set that includes a large Morro mini figure which fits inside a small transparent plastic capsule. Morro is one of the lesser characters in the series being one of the 'bad guys' and a ghost ninja, no less. As a more obscure character, this may add to the appeal of this item as a collectable toy as there is only one other Lego set that features this character currently. The set is packaged in a flattened card box rather than the more usual Lego packaging and is a nice size to give as a small birthday present. There is a Lego base that needs to be assembled, flexible plastic spinning disk and a plastic rip which is inserted into the base and pulled swiftly to release the spinning disk. As well as the main components the figure comes with a small collection of little weapons and accessories. Some of the accessories included are incredibly small - the two 'golden shurikens' have only narrowly escaped sudden death from the hoover on several occasions. Due to the small size of ...

TWF Kids Wetsuit 21/09/2017

Braving The Water

TWF Kids Wetsuit As a family, we all enjoy swimming whether that is splashing about at the beach in the (bracing) British seaside or spending time at the swimming pool inside our local leisure centre. We have prioritised teaching our children to swim and enjoy spending time in the water but the water in our local baths tends to be quite cold and my kids would look half frozen during swimming lessons, so I set about purchasing something that would offer them a little extra warmth and comfort. The Product This 'shortie style' neoprene wetsuit is designed for children from toddlers to teenagers and manufactured under the TWF brand. TWF (or The Wetsuit Factory) is a British company, based in Cornwall, which specialise in manufacturing wetsuits and other surfing accessories and footwear. The wetsuits are available in a range of sizes and designs although the main body is predominantly black with an added image on the front - we've had the pirate style and a seahorse - and the TWF logo on the arms. One of the reasons I went for this shortie style rather than a full length wetsuit was for the ease of putting it on and taking it off and to prevent the kids getting too hot in it. My boys did need some help with getting this on and pulling up the zip at the back when they were both very young, but were able to do this independently from around six years old. The zip does have a lead which hangs down so that it can be pulled down easily and there is also a velcro strip across the top to prevent the ...

Magnet Fun With Hairy Maclary - Lynley Dodd 15/09/2017

Magnet Fun With Hairy Maclary

Magnet Fun With Hairy Maclary - Lynley Dodd My children are getting older and I've begun the task of getting rid of some of the items that they've now outgrown, including our collection of stories for very young children. Part of the 'KonMarie' process of decluttering is to thank items no longer needed for their usefulness and, as an extension to that I wanted to review some of our favourites so that they can continue to be useful to others. Amongst the collection of children's books leaving our home is this Magnet Fun book based on the Hairy Maclary stories which was a bargain charity shop find a few years ago. The Author Lynley Dodd is best known for her series of rhyming stories based on the adventures of a fluffy little dog called Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy and a selection of his canine (and some feline) friends. All of the characters have names that are as dramatic as their personalities such as Slinky Malinki and Zachary Quack. The Story This is a large padded book featuring five different scenes from various different Hairy Maclary stories. Based on the traditional rhyming format of the Hairy Maclary series, this hardback book starts by describing Hairy Maclary's journey. Each of the pages is self contained with a couple of lines taken from a story and simple instructions describing which magnet to place where in order to complete the scene. There is no actual story at all which might disappoint some children and/or parents as this does limit the overall play value and appeal of the book. The ...

What is the best memory of your 2017 holidays? 15/09/2017

Summer 2017

What is the best memory of your 2017 holidays? Summer 2017 has been a bit of a mixed bag for me, not helped by the mostly poor wet weather and a relative with health issues meaning a number of mad dashes up to A&E and several other long days spent in the hospital waiting for test results and follow up appointments. Throw a couple of bored kids into the mix and the holidays haven't been the idyllic rest that I had in mind. This topic is, however, about my best memories of the summer so fortunately there have been much happier days and events to look back on too. Butlins Minehead I've recently reviewed our experience at Butlins in Minehead so won't go into too much detail here but we spent a lovely week together as a family in August. We also managed to be lucky with the weather to the extent that we had a couple of days where we could enjoy the outdoor splash pool and I even managed to get sunburnt (which was probably not the best of memories.) We spent our team on the beach, even on the cooler days, and enjoying activities such as swimming, riding on the fun bikes and the fairground rides. Cycling With two of the boys receiving new bikes for their birthdays this summer we have had some great days out locally. Further afield we have hired adult bikes for the day so that we can all get some fresh air and exercise and my husband is talking about buying a pair of bikes next year so that we can do this more regularly. He has even invested in a cycle attachment for his car roof bars so we really have no excuse not to ...

Dettol Surface Cleanser with Lime and Mint 09/09/2017

Zesty Cleaning

Dettol Surface Cleanser with Lime and Mint With three kids to feed and clean up after, I am always looking for quick and inexpensive ways of keeping on top of the general household cleaning and avoiding the house looking like a tip. (Unfortunately, by the end of the school summer holidays, it's a battle that I've well and truly lost!) Now the kids have returned to school I've started to tackle six weeks' worth of dirt and grime and needed something versatile, effective and easy to use to help. The Product I've turned to this Dettol branded anti-bacterial Surface Cleanser with Lime and Mint, having used both this variety and the original version on a regular basis in the past.The packaging boasts that this stuff can kill 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, including E Coli, Salmonella, MRSA, Rotavirus and the Flu virus. This cleaning product is practically packaged in a large transparent plastic bottle with a sturdy trigger spray dispenser, which offers a clear view of the remaining contents - although the spray itself is also clear. The spray comes with a twisting on/off closure to 'lock' the spray between uses. This locking system is fairly reliable and ensures that the bottle never leaks between uses and should also act as a safety measure for chidren. Nevertheless, I would still exercise caution and keep this well out of reach of young children as the bright red trigger and blue lid might seem a little too attractive and tempting for curious toddlers. The bottle itself is comfortable to hold, even when full, as the ...

Daz Powder 04/09/2017

Dazzled by Daz

Daz Powder I'm a member of the product testing website, supersavvyme, but never seem to qualify for any of their product campaigns. It was a pleasant surprise to receive an email saying that I'd been chosen to take part in a campaign for Daz washing powder, giving me the opportunity to try this out and share my opinions with others online and in person. As part of this offer I received a full sized box to try out as well as several smaller sample boxes to use or share with others. I was also sent a number of money off vouchers to share or use for future purchases. The Product This is Daz biological washing powder which is designed for both whites and colours. Produced under the multinational Proctor and Gamble brand this product has been on supermarket shelves for years. This is loose powder which comes practically packaged in a sturdy cardboard box which varies in size according to the number of (average) washes it can provide. The smaller sized boxes have a fold out section at the side to gain access to the powder but I find that pouring the powder out can still be a messy affair and the box cannot be securely closed between uses so spills are possible. The amount of washing powder needed needs to be measured out for each wash and will vary according to the size of the load, dirtiness and the hardness of the water in the local area as all of these factors will affect the performance of the washing machine and the powder used. There is no measuring scoop provided although a contact ...

dettol spray and wipe 01/09/2017

Spray and Wipe! Job Done!

dettol spray and wipe With five people in the household and recent weather that can only be described as changeable, the kitchen floor is starting to look considerably worse for wear. I do own a steam cleaner that is ideal for quick cleans and to freshen up hard surfaces but when the floor is looking particularly grubby I prefer to use a specific floor cleaning product and resort to an old fashioned traditional mop. The Product This is Dettol branded anti-bacterial liquid 'Spray and Wipe' floor cleaner, with an Apple fragrance. This is available in a one litre bottle only but there is also a Citrus variety on sale but I prefer the Apple version. Simply packaged in a large squeezable plastic bottle, this has a lift up lid to allow for easy and mess free dispensing. The transparent exterior and green coloured cleaning solution inside makes it easier to keep track of the amount of floor cleaner remaining. This is safe to use on most standard types of hard flooring including wooden floors such as laminate providing it has been sealed or varnished. Our kitchen flooring is made from matt porcelain tiles and I have also used it on the old fashioned lino tiles that we had in place previously. In Use Although Dettol have chosen to name this product 'spray and wipe' it actually involves more of a squirt or a squeeze as there is no spray mechanism - that would probably be a little unappealing as a product name though. The real appeal of this product is that it is designed to be applied directly to the ...

Butlins Resort, Minehead 13/08/2017

"Butlins is the Best Part of my Life!"

Butlins Resort, Minehead When I was young and carefree I loved travelling to new places and could never understand people who kept returning to the same place every year. Add one, two and then three kids to the mix and I quickly discovered that there is a lot to be said for going back somewhere familiar knowing that the kids will be happy - resulting in a stress free break. That is the main reason that we have been returning to Butlins on and off for over ten years - initially staying at the Skegness site and for the last two years visiting the Minehead complex. We have just returned from a seven night break at Butlins Minehead so a good time to share my experience. Booking I booked this year's holiday online without issue although the previous year I had some difficulty with the booking and had to contact the customer helpline who resolved things for me. We do get a small discount on prices as a Premier customer. Butlins Minehead offers quite a wide range of different types and classes of accommodation from the cheapest (standard chalets) right up to the most expensive Gold Blue Sky village apartments and various options in between. Getting There Butlins Minehead is in Somerset and for us heading down from the Midlands a trek down the M6 and M5 and then a straightforward drive down the A39. Our sat nav coped with the journey well and Butlins is clearly signposted from about twenty miles away. Silver Accommodation This year we priced up the cost of staying for seven nights rather than four and ...

Maypole Mobile Mains Power Unit 06/08/2017

Dancing Around the Maypole!

Maypole Mobile Mains Power Unit My husband persuaded me to give camping a go a couple of years ago, despite my reservations, and we spent a small fortune on a family sized tent and all of the equipment to go with it. Some stuff was the bare essentials whereas other items were those things that just make outdoor living a little more comfortable. One of those items that would be a luxury to some but an essential for us is this mains power unit, giving us access to electricity and all the home comforts that can supply. The Product This is a portable mains power unit produced under the Maypole brand and designed to be connected to an electric hook up system used on most commercial campsites. Most caravan and campsites offer electric hook up (EHU) for an additional charge per pitch per night but in order to access it some form of kit is required as the EHU has a single socket and an adapter is needed to connect up standard electrical appliances and devices. This mains power unit is designed to connect directly to an external EHU and then offers three standard plug sockets. In Use The Maypole mains power unit is designed for camping so is a fairly lightweight and compact piece of camping equipment which is easy to transport and store between uses. The lead between the connecting socket and the mains unit is of a generous length so there should be no issues if the pitch is not directly in front of the EHU supply. Connecting the unit is very simple as it simply slots into position to form a secure connection. ...

Spookyrumpus - T. Mitton 01/08/2017


Spookyrumpus - T. Mitton We own a collection of picture books illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees originally purchased as a set from the Book People website. Amongst them is this colourful story about skeletons, ghosts and other ghouls, with the unusual title of 'Spookyrumpus' which is written by Tony Mitton. The Author Tony Mitton is a popular author of picture books for young children with his best known examples including All Afloat on Noah's Boat, Bumpus Jumpus Dinosaurumpus and Down By The Cool of the Pool, all of which we also own, amongst many others. All of the books share an easy to read format with the clever use of rhythm and rhyme and bright engaging illustrations. The Story This is a rhyming story with a 'spooky' theme so there are lots of weird and supernatural creatures such as ghosts, witches, trolls and skeletons. Rather bizarrely, rather than having a Halloween theme, the story describes groups of various creatures and characters making their way to a castle to take part in a birthday party and share some birthday cake. Personally I think the contents would have been better suited to a Halloween party. The story is simply told with a fast pace due to the rhyming language used. There is a big focus on numbers with the story counting down in reverse order from the number twelve. This is rather unusual and a useful picture book from an educational viewpoint as counting in reverse order is a useful skill covered in early years education and most literature including this tends to use ...

Board games: which are the best for you? 30/07/2017

Not Bored of Board Games Yet

Board games: which are the best for you? With the schools now breaking up for six weeks of freedom I must admit that I'm hoping to spend as much time out of doors with the kids as possible. Nevertheless there are bound to be days where the weather is appalling and the holidays so far haven't got off to the most auspicious of starts. There is only so much indoor soft play that any family can cope with - ironically this is being typed from an indoor play centre as our outdoor plans have been called off thanks to heavy rain! At times like this it's good to have a selection of various board games to entertain the kids when they get bored of their tech. Games for all ages My kids are quite spaced out in age with the oldest being fourteen and usually outside in all weathers and rarely wanting to join in with family games, apart from the obligatory fun at Christmas time and the more electronic kind of interactive game, such as the many Bop It games. My ten year old tends to prefer online entertainment and console games but will join in on occasion so it is mainly my six year old son that plays board games regularly, so the majority of our games are those aimed at the younger age group. Pre-School Games We have a large selection of games for pre-school children that my youngest is now growing out of. I'm due to have a good clear out and pass on some of these games to somebody with younger children. For pre-school children, I've long been a fan of the Orchard Toys range of games, some of which have the traditional ...

AS Company Disney Frozen 3 Wheel Scooter 15/07/2017

Don't 'Let It Go!'

AS Company Disney Frozen 3 Wheel Scooter Having three sons I don't have much opportunity to purchase feminine toys - although all three of them have been through a decidedly 'pink phase' at one point. Fortunately having a young niece gives me an excuse to buy something girly for her on special occasions and invest in some Frozen merchandise, from a franchise that has otherwise passed me by. The Product This is a Frozen branded three wheeled scooter, manufactured by 'AS Company' and sold under the Disney branding. It has two wheels fixed at the back and a swivelling front wheel. The Frozen theme is bold and clear and designed to appeal to fans of the iconic Disney film. It's not unsurprising that there is a lot of pink around the scooter's design but this particular scooter is not as gaudy and dominated by pink as some other products and it is calmed down slightly by a blue base plate. My youngest son is happy to borrow this from his cousin when they play together at their grandmother's house but peer pressure and societal norms would discourage him from choosing this particular design for his own scooter to be used out in public. As well as the Frozen branding emblazoned around the base of the scooter, there is also a plastic plaque provided which clips into place between the handle bars and marks this out as a Frozen scooter. This can be removed quite easily which is useful as it was at a position where my niece kept banging into it when she first started to use the scooter and it was getting in the way so it ...
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