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Burn the land and boil the can't take the sky from me. Mum to four adult children and two little monsters. A very special and different five year old and cleverclogs of a nearly two year old.

Reviews written

since 21/10/2002


Wilko Long Plastic Spoon 01/09/2015

The Long And The Long Of It

Wilko Long Plastic Spoon I can hardly believe that I'm waxing lyrical about a plastic spoon of all things but here goes.. Costing just £1.20 this long handled, white, plastic spoon comes in to it's own when you want to stir something in an extra deep container. You know, a container that is so deep that you'd be up to your elbow if you tried to use a conventionally sized spoon. I use it during wine making to stir the contents of a 25 litre bucket, but I imagine it would do just as good a job at the likes of wallpaper paste or even paint for that matter. 47cm in length, the spoon is long enough to reach to the bottom of the Wilko 25 litre Fermenting Bin, so that I can stir the contents without getting my hands wet, but is still short enough to fit in the bin at an angle with the lid on. Which means that as long as the Fermenting Bin isn't filled too full I don't need to remove the spoon between stirrings. Being a spoon it has a bowl at one end, not a very useful bowl to be honest, it's more for creating a good stir whirlpool than for transporting things from one place to another. While not the sturdiest, the bowl is also good for crushing fruit against the side of the Bin to extract maximum flavour. I do need to sterilise the spoon before putting it in any home brew I'm making and I generally use baby sterilising solution at the start of the brew and boiling water at other times. Neither method seems to have caused any deterioration to the spoon which means that you can use either, or if you want ...

Wilko Fermenting Bin & Lid 31/08/2015

A Bucket Full Of Booze

Wilko Fermenting Bin & Lid With Summer drawing to a close and Autumn approaching, it's time to make the most of the glut of various fruits and vegetables, to eat what we can and preserve what we have left over. I've made more than enough jams, jellies and butters to see us through until next Autumn and still had lots of different fruits left over. Rather than letting this bounty go to waste, I've branched in to making some “country” wines, which meant that I had to invest in some new equipment, including this Wilko 25 litre Fermenting Bin with Lid. Costing £10, in truth this is little more than a large plastic bucket with an airtight lid, I can't help but wonder if it would have been cheaper to just buy a lidded bucket, but fell for the idea that I needed a purpose made bucket to start my wine off in. Made of “food grade” plastic, the bin is semi-opaque white, transparent enough for me to be able to see how much liquid is in it but not so much that I can see the bubbles in that liquid. There's a clear scale on the outside of the bin with approximate measurements in litres, with 5, 10, 15, 20 and 23 litres being marked. I was a little surprised that the highest measurement was 23 litres, what with this being a 25 litre bin, but it does make sense really as you're going to want to leave some head space for the gases produced during fermentation. The lid seems to fit tightly, it certainly needs to be clicked in to place and then peeled off again, but it should be noted that there is no way of attaching ...

Lush Ickle Baby Bot 30/08/2015

Sleepy Bot

Lush Ickle Baby Bot My love of all things Lush has definitely rubbed off on five year old Freddy, he loves his smellies and has a shelf full of shower gels, bubble bars and ballistics While Freddy loves his Snow Fairy and bubbly baths, the Ickle Baby Bot, holds a special place in his heart, being the very first Lush product he ever tried. What's In The Bot Specially designed for the younger Lushite, Ickle Baby Bot is one of the simpler bath ballistics which means it's gentle enough for even sensitive skins. In fact Lush themselves say it's safe for babies over six months old, not that a six month old would really appreciate the fun element. While some of the Lush ballistics have an ingredient list as long as your arm, Baby Bot contains just ten, which is a lot better than most (if not all) other “bedtime” baby baths. Let's start with the “natural” ingredients and the most dominant is Lavender Oil, which is classically used to calm and relax and is used as a fragrance in most bedtime baby/toddler products. As well as helping the mind to relax, Lavender Oil also has antiseptic, antibacterial and deodorising properties, which means that it can soothe the skin at the same time as imparting sleepy dust. Next on the list is Sandalwood Oil, that not only adds a warm, woody base note to the scent, but is also an effective emollient (moisturiser) that is said to reduce inflammation. The final oil in the mix is Chamomile Blue, which like Lavender is soothing and calming both for the skin and the mind. ...

Wilko Blox Fire Rescue Team 28/08/2015

Fireman Freddy

Wilko Blox Fire Rescue Team Over the last month or so, five year old Freddy has managed to amass a rather large collection of Wilko Blox. Not surprising really considering that the Wilkinsons version of Lego is remarkably cheap, which means that he can easily buy the sets himself out of his pocket money, and they also make excellent little treats for good behaviour. Take this Fire Station Rescue Team, when I tell you it is one of the larger sets in the range, consisting of 415 pieces that can be used to build a total of five elements along with five characters, would you believe that the standard price is just £3.50? Then would you be even more surprised that Freddy managed to buy this for half price, so that's just £1.75? Blox Wilkinsons' very own version of the world famous Lego, Blox is one of the better budget versions of the famous construction bricks. Featuring the same system of studs as Lego, the bricks are reasonably well made, fairly durable, without any sharp edges or jags. While there is no way that you are going to mistake Blox for the real thing (the word Lego isn't stamped on each stud for a start), I do think the quality is better than Mega Blocks (unless they've improved in the last twenty years). When it comes to the variety of different actual bricks available, Blox certainly does give Lego a run for it's money. Along with a base plate, all the standard sizes, types and colours of brick are available along with a huge variety special pieces, all through a pick and mix system, where ...

Peppa Pig: My Daddy Board Book 27/08/2015

Storytime with Peppa

Peppa Pig: My Daddy Board Book Twenty two month old Jake absolutely adores Peppa Pig and has quite the collection of toys and books, but technically this isn't his book. It was actually the birthday present he gave to his Daddy back in February, a book that they regularly share together and the book he chose for tonight's bedtime story. Featuring the world famous Peppa Pig, this board book focuses on her Daddy and everything about him using scenes from the TV series to illustrate each page. More a book for sharing than independent reading, the font is a good size to help the pre-reader follow along, the words are simple and in the main the contrast between writing and page is high. There is one point at the start of the book where there is black text on dark blue, but that's the only three words. Jake rather likes having this book read to him, the simple narrative is easy for him to relate to and there's lots for us to share on each page, starting with Daddy Pig swimming on his back with Peppa and George on his belly all the way through to his favourite exercise being lifting the remote control. There's also a nice level of humour which means that five year old Freddy also enjoys sharing this book and it is nice to all be able to snuggle up together for a book or two before bedtime. Jake also enjoys sitting looking at the book by himself, chattering away, talking about each page in his own toddler language. He'll quite happily sit in his cot with his Peppa and George beanies showing them the pictures, ...

Fisher-Price Bing Sula Plush Toy 26/08/2015

It's A Sula Thing

Lego Duplo 10558 Number Train 25/08/2015

One, Two, Three, Choo Choo

Lego Duplo 10558 Number Train Twenty-two month old Jake is a very lucky little boy, with his big brother graduating to “big boy” Lego, he has recently inherited a rather large collection of Duplo. OK, there may be one or two pieces that have vanished somewhere in the depths of the toy box, but that's the beauty of Duplo, it doesn't matter if a there's a piece or two astray as there is no wrong or right way of building. While I prefer the idea of buying sets of bricks that are just bricks without a theme, it seems that not everyone agreed with me and in among the bricks that Freddy passed down were several themed sets including this Number Train. I have absolutely no idea who gifted this set to Freddy, I'm guessing one of his grandparents, but I must admit that whoever it was made a good choice as Freddy was (and still is) obsessed with trains and train stations. Costing a very reasonable £16.75, this set is still available from Amazon some three years later, so it seems to be quite a popular set. Consisting of 31 pieces The Number Train is an almost perfect first Duplo set, that while offering the structure of the “correct” build still offers plenty of chance for creativity. There's not one, not but four vehicles, that have freely spinning wheels and can all connect together, to make a long train. There are pieces that fit on one of the vehicles to turn it in to a train, there's a train driver in the form of a little boy and his black and white spotty dog. There are ten double height single bricks, each ...

Tala Jam Straining Set 24/08/2015

A Right Drip

Tala Jam Straining Set With harvest season well and truly upon us, I've once more found myself with a glut of fruit and vegetables, which can only mean one thing, it's time to make preserves. This year I decided to move away from the traditional jams and try my hand at jellies, butters and cheeses. While these preserves make the absolute most of the fruits and vegetables, they do require an extra step, straining the juice from the pulp. I could probably have been a little inventive and made some sort of contraption with a muslin cloth, but as I'm going to be making a lot of jellies, jams, chutneys and ketchups over the next few weeks, I decided to buy a purpose made jam straining kit. A quick look on Amazon later and I had added this Tala Jam Straining Set was making it's way towards my kitchen where it has now been used to strain several batches of boiled fruit. Preparing the straining set for use was fairly simple, three legs needed to be screwed in to the circular frame to create the stand, while the mesh bag needs to be scalded (have boiling water poured over it to sterilise) before being stretched over the frame. Each of the legs has a kink at the bottom, which together allow the frame to be stood on the rim of a bowl and with a little adjusting of the legs, a range of bowl sizes can be used. I use this Straining Set with a fairly standard glass bowl and it seems pretty stable to me, well as long as I sit it on a stable surface. The stand is a good height, and it needs to be as once you've ...

Wilko Blox Alien Spaceship 23/08/2015

From A Galaxy Far Far Away

Wilko Blox Alien Spaceship Compatible with leading brands, Wilko Blox is Wilkinsons' own version of the iconic Lego. Astoundingly cheap, Blox is available loose in store in Pick and Mix style and in boxed sets both in store and online. With the most expensive set costing a purse busting £5.25 (yes, that was tongue in cheek), Blox is genuinely what I would call a pocket money toy. This little forty piece alien spaceship is among the very cheapest in the range, costing a ridiculous £1 a set. Now it appears that there is a selection of different spaceships, we have two, the first (that has been built, played with and broken up) looked like the product picture and was bought a couple of weeks back and the second (that I will be reviewing today) is rather different from the product picture here, but identical to the picture on the Wilko site. Although there are technically forty pieces in this set, ten of those go towards making up the little alien, so there aren't that many in the actual spaceship. At five years old Freddy may be within the recommended age range, but he has a significant developmental delay that means he struggles with fine motor skills, reading, concentrating and following instructions. This means that rather than building these little sets himself, he helps me build them, helping me sort the pieces, putting the bigger pieces together and passing me the smaller, more fiddly pieces. With there being ten pieces making up the alien, you can imagine that the pieces are a little too small ...

Lego Duplo 10511: Skipper's Flight School 22/08/2015

Rusty Goes To School

Lego Duplo 10511: Skipper's Flight School Twenty-two month old Jake is a very lucky little boy, with his big brother graduating to “big boy” Lego, he has recently inherited a rather large collection of Duplo. OK, there may be one or two pieces that have vanished somewhere in the depths of the toy box, but that's the beauty of Duplo, it doesn't matter if a there's a piece or two astray as there is no wrong or right way of building. While I prefer the idea of buying sets of bricks that are just bricks without a theme, it seems that not everyone agreed with me and in among the bricks that Freddy passed down were several themed sets including this Plane's themed Skipper's Flight School. Planes? After the huge success of Cars and Cars 2, Disney and Pixar released Planes telling the story of Rusty the crop duster that dares to think big and dreams of competing in the Wings Around The World race. Full of the usual Disney sugar sweetness with the standard, barely disguised, moral message (in this case that never give up, reach for the stars, live your dreams etc.), Planes was never a favourite film of either myself or the boys, but still it is one that Freddy recognises. Duplo The toddler version of Lego, Duplo is made up of plastic bricks that connect on to studs as the original, only the bricks are much bigger so that they can be manipulated by little hands. Incredibly durable, these bricks can last for years and years as proved by the fact that Jake is now playing with the same bricks his big brother played with for ...

Lego Duplo Large Green Building Plate 21/08/2015

Build Your Own Fun

Lush So White Shower Gel 20/08/2015

Orchard Fresh

Lush So White Shower Gel I'm not sure exactly how this little bottle of shower gel joined my collection, although I'm assuming it was in one of the many Lush gift sets I received for Christmas. What I do know is why I had pushed it to the back of my Lush drawer, not bothering to open it, after all I hadn't been that impressed by the So White Bath Ballistic, so there was nothing that made me desperate to try it. After finally trying So White Shower Gel this week, all I can say is it's a shame that I didn't try it earlier and so add a bigger bottle to my stash. So White had been quite the regular addition to Lush's Christmas range in ballistic form and while the idea of an apple scented bath was quite attractive, I always found the reality disappointing, with the fragrance being a little on the pathetic side. It seems that last Christmas saw So White reincarnate in to shower gel form and much as it shocks me, it has translated very well, to the point where I rather like the shower gel even though the ballistic was less than impressive. Having received this 100g bottle of shower gel in a gift set, I have no idea what it cost, but going by other Lush shower gels, I would say it's around the £4.50 mark, which is rather more expensive than even many high range shower gels. Looking on Ebay, a 100g bottle will currently set you back around £9 (including delivery), which is verging on the ridiculous, if you ask me. Although I'm willing to pay the higher price that Lush charges for a more ethically sound ...

Wilko Play Police Starter Box 19/08/2015

Stop In The Name Of The Law

Wilko Play Police Starter Box Five year old Freddy has built himself up quite the collection of Wilko Blox over the last few weeks. With Wilkinsons' version of Lego being pocket money friendly and such good value for money, he's had something of a field day with the pocket money he had saved over the preceding weeks and bought just about every set available. The Police Car starter set is one of the smallest sets available and set Freddy back the grand total of 75p about a week back. Comprising of just 45 pieces, ten of which go in to making the policeman, Wilko class this set as easy and I really would agree with them. The actual bricks are contained within a plastic bag, held within a sturdy cardboard box. There is also a pictorial instruction leaflet, that breaks the construction down in to small easy to follow steps along with a list of which pieces are included in the set. Labelled as suitable for children over the age of five, this is definitely one of the easier sets to build with a lower proportion of tiny pieces. At five Freddy falls at the bottom of the recommended age group but due to a disability he has difficulties with his motor skills, understanding and ability to follow instructions and therefore needs a high amount of support even with this easier build. In fact, at the moment, he is more my assistant and helps me to count pieces and click them in to place. While he's struggled with the small pieces in some of the other sets, (as indeed I did with one), he was able to put most of this ...

Lego Duplo 10615 My First Tractor 17/08/2015

Down On The Farm With Farmer Jake

Wilko Blox Police Rapid Response 16/08/2015

Policeman Freddy To The Rescue

Wilko Blox Police Rapid Response Currently the second largest set we own in the Wilko Blox range, Police Rapid Response contains 370 pieces and costs a very reasonable £5.25. Considered suitable for children over the age of five and graded as “challenging”, this particular set joined our collection a couple of days ago and was built yesterday evening. Blox? Blox is Wilko's very own version of the iconic Lego and is generally very good quality and incredibly cheap. With the individual bricks being available in-store via a pick and mix system where you can fill a plastic cup with a range of different colour and size bricks for just £3.50 and themed sets costing from 75p to £5.25, Blox are far cheaper than Lego. Personally I would say that they are a genuine pocket money toy, five year old Freddy gets £5 a week and there's only two sets that he hasn't been able to buy outright in a given week. As with the original Lego, Blox bricks come in a multitude of different colours and sizes, from tiny one stud flat pieces to a rather large base plate and everything in between. There are also lots of different special bricks available, from doors and windows to wheels to ladders. As with the original Lego the bricks click together with studs fitting in holes and then stay together until pulled apart and as with the original Lego, the only limit to what your child can build is their imagination. Quality-wise, there is no way that you would be able to pass these bricks off as the real thing, I don't think any of the ...
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