Saturday 31 December 2011

Davina for Next

Last year I made a determined effort to start getting fit however as I have never been able to see the attraction of a gym I wasn't sure what I could do to help me get fitter. The main thing that puts me off a gym is the cost, as I can't see myself ever having the time to go enough to ever get value for money out of it! I dug out the Wii Fit and started using that but it was so easy to find something else that needed doing, so I needed to come up with another idea. I love being outside, so walking seemed my best option, it's free and I get to spend plenty of time outdoors. For the last year I have walked with a group of friends one morning every week, rain or shine and to be honest there seem to have been a lot more wet days than dry ones! Added to this, over the summer we started walking up a local hill once or twice a week with my family which has been good fun and brilliant exercise as it is quite a steep hill and really gets your heart going. December was very hectic and I didn't get to walk at all and I really missed it, now Christmas is over I am looking forward to starting again and losing the extra weight that I seem to have put on with all the lovely food and treats that we always have at Christmas. We have a busy year this year with a number of family celebrations and so I really need to put in quite a bit of effort and try and regain the flat tummy that I once had!!!

Up to now I have been wearing old leggings and trainers to walk in but having seen the new range of fitness clothes for Spring 2012 that Davina McCall has designed for Next I am really looking forward to updating my walking clothes. Davina has a really great range of clothes that are suitable for all types of activity. The blue burnout T-shirt will be perfect to put over the long line burnout vest, as you soon get warm walking, and I have found a few thin layers work much better as you can regulate your temperature much better with layers.
The Side Stripe Capri pants look great and they have a useful rear zip pocket which would be perfect for my keys and tissues. There are some fabulous shoes, which not only look good but also exercise your legs too, what a great excuse to buy more shoes!!! I have my eye on the floral pumps and the black and cream wedges.

Monday 5 December 2011

Priddy Books Lets's Go Learning Colouring Fun

Another great book from Priddy Books that has kept Luke occupied now the evenings are dark and he can't play outside.

The Colouring Fun book is a giant activity book aimed at children who are 4 and older and who are at key stages 1 and 2. The book helps with hand-eye co-ordination, inspires creativity and fine motor skills and there is a good mix of activities for children to do.

Whilst there are lots of pictures to colour this is so much more than a colouring book, as on every page there are questions or suggestions for your child to personalise the pictures. I also like the drawing pages as there are clear step by step guides to drawing a picture, along with a picture of what your child should be drawing, to help and guide them.

Like the other books in the series there are two pages of stickers for your child to use and they are all bright and colourful and were certainly a hit with my son. I also think there is a good mix of subjects in the book and I can see it appealing to both boys and girls.

Luke who is 6 really enjoyed colouring the pictures and having a go at drawing, hopefully he will take after his Grandad and we will have a budding artist in our midst!

Priddy Books Lets's Go Learning Number Puzzles

The Number Puzzles book is a giant activity book aimed at children aged 5 and older and who are at key stages 1 and 2. The book helps with writing skills, problem solving and number skills with a variety of different activities that are fun to do.

The giant sized book is brightly coloured and very well illustrated and whilst all the activities are number based they are all fun and best of all Luke was learning without realising. The activities include simple sums, counting and writing numbers, simple Sudoku puzzles and dot to dot pictures. The two pages of stickers always go down well and with over 200 stickers there are plenty to choose from.

This book is a great introduction to Maths and Luke really enjoyed doing the puzzles. The puzzles are just the right level for him and he could do most of them with very little help. I would never have thought of letting him try Sudoku however he really enjoyed working out the puzzles with only a little help.

Priddy Books Let's Go Learning Picture Puzzles

The Picture Puzzles book is a giant activity book aimed at children aged 4 and older and who are at key stages 1 and 2. The book helps with hand-eye co-ordination, problem solving and fine motor skills with a variety of different activities that are fun to do.

Like all Priddy books they are beautifully illustrated and are full of bright colours. The giant sized book is jam-packed full of all sorts of different activities that kept my 6 year old son occupied over a very wet weekend. All the activities have simple instructions that Luke was able to read and understand which meant he was able to work through the book with very little help. I especially liked the additional questions at the foot of each page which gives a great opportunity for parent and child interaction.

The activities cover a wide range of topics including farm animals, flags, dinosaurs and under the sea and there is something to appeal to all children. There are over 200 stickers in the middle of the book which my son loved as he could stick them in the book as well a make his own pictures with them.

I think the books would be great for long journeys and holidays as well as a fun rainy day activity.

Priddy Books Lets's Go Learning Word Fun

Luke was really excited when we received a large parcel of books from Priddy Books to review. Books are such an important part of learning and Priddy Books always have bright, colourful books that are a pleasure to look at.

The Word Fun book is aimed at children who are 5 and older and who are at key stages 1 and 2. The book helps with reading skills, problem solving and writing skills and there is a good mix of activities for children to do. I was very surprised at how quickly Luke (age 6) worked out what to do with the word searches as he had never done one before and he really enjoyed finding all the words. All the activities in the book were just the right level for him and he could read what to do on each page and do the puzzles with very little help from me. The first time he looked at the book he sat quite happily doing the puzzles for a good hour and has kept going back to them since. This is obviously a sign of a good activity book, if they are too easy he soon gets bored but Priddy Books have got the level just right with this book. There were also crosswords, missing letter activities, mixed up word puzzles and plenty of opportunities to write. In the middle of the book there are two huge pages of stickers and I especially liked the star stickers that had comments like "Well Done" and "Superstar" as they could be used for encouragement. Luke liked sticking them on the pages he had finished when he was showing me what he had done.

Overall this is an excellent book and is great for rainy days!

Lego Pirates of the Caribbean Review

We were recently sent a great set of Lego - The Fountain of Youth, which is part of the Pirates of the Caribbean Lego range. This set is aimed at children aged 6 - 12 and it took Luke about 30 minutes to make it. He carefully studied the instructions and managed to make most of it on his own, which meant Dad was a little disappointed! We received the set to review from Izziwizzi kids and the video review is also on their website. Video reviewing is something we haven't really done a lot of yet and Luke was really keen to have a go!

Saturday 26 November 2011


Usually by now I have bought an advent calendar for each of my sons however this year Christmas seems to be creeping up at an alarming rate and I am just not organised at all! When they were younger I always used to buy a traditional advent calendar with pictures behind the doors but these have become increasing difficult to find and aren't popular with my sons. At 6 and 10 they want the chocolate advent calendars that their friends have! I have been looking at alternatives this year and the wooden advent calendar from Next looks perfect. There are 24 wooden drawers, all nicely decorated which are just the right size for a little treat. Best of all the calendar can be re used every year and it also looks nice as a Christmas decoration too!

Friday 11 November 2011

The Midi Skirt

I recently became a member of the Next Blogger Network and have been looking at the other blog entries and thought it was about time I made my first post!

As Christmas approaches I always dread looking for something new for Christmas parties. There is the unwritten rule that you can't wear the same outfit as you wore last year but I hate spending a lot of money on something that is only worn once. This is why I love the Midi skirt from Next as it is such a great investment as it can be worn to any number of parties and all I need to do is buy a couple of different tops and some bold necklaces and I have any number of different outfits to wear. Being black it looks stunning with any of the bright colours that are in the shops at the moment and can really be dressed up or down depending on the occasion.

Sunday 6 November 2011

Trekmates Flameless Cooking System

We have been lucky enough to try out the new Trekmates Flameless Cooking System before it has even reached the shops!

The Flameless Cooking System is available to pre order on the Trekmates website

Trekmates describe the cooking system as a revolutionary new cook system for those out and about. The 850ml box allows you to heat and cook food without the need for flame! Using the water activated heat pack the cook box produces no Carbon Monoxide, unlike gas or petrol and is therefore safe to use inside a tent!

These stoves are ideal for lightweight camping and hiking as they provide the means to make a hot drink and lunch without the need for a flame.

This means as long as you have a bottle of water in your tent you can make a nice hot brew without even leaving your sleeping bag! Perfect for those frosty mornings.

The system comprises of a plastic outer container with a stainless steel inner container. An airtight lid clamps them all together. The heat pack and a small amount of water are placed in the plastic container and your food or drink is put in the plastic container. The lid is clamped on and heat is created by a chemical reaction between the heat pack and water, steam is produced which in turn heats your food. The whole system is encased in a neoprene sleeve which retains the heat and also protects your hands from the heat.

We have tried a variety of foods and whilst the larger stove is best suited to cooking a dehydrated meals or reheating pre cooked foods such as baked beans the smaller system is a very handy size and we have made hot drinks, porridge and cooked noodles in it.

We have put the stove through it's paces at home however today the system has had it's first test - a Scout hike! Fortunately it passed with flying colours and the Scout leaders and Scouts were very impressed with what it could do.

Overall this is a great product and should definitely be a hit with lightweight campers and hikers.

Saturday 22 October 2011

ChokaBlok Ice cream

I have been a Bzzagent for a couple of years and have been lucky enough to bzz about a number of great products. Bzzagent are a "Word of Mouth" marketing company and as a member I get a campaign pack which includes the product I need to talk about as well as money off coupons for the product and sometimes samples to give away to friends. In return I must submit Bzz reports which are basically a report on how and where I have told people about the product I am bzzing about.
My latest Bzz campaign is for ChokaBlok Ice cream which looks absolutely fantastic. I can't wait to receive my Bzz pack and try the ice cream.

Bump & Grind

Bump & Grind by Genevieve Morton is a fantastic book for anyone who is struggling to conceive.

When reading it you feel you are chatting to a good friend who knows everything you are going through and however daft the question knows how to answer it. Best of all, it helps you feel that you are not alone - as well as the author's experiences there are plenty of quotes dotted throughout the book from people going through the same emotions and ups and downs that you go through when you are desperately trying to have a baby.
The book is informative, without being like a text book, and I love Genevieve's style of writing, it is humorous and made me laugh out loud in places. Having read a couple of fertility books and found them incredibly boring it is a refreshing change to read this book as it is so accurate but funny too, on every page there was something I could relate to.
An excellent book that I would definitely recommend for anyone who is trying for a baby.

Monday 26 September 2011

Irritating Ethel

Irritating Ethel is a pink annoying monster and just the sort of toy that appeals to young boys. Initially I thought the fact that she is pink would put them off however the novelty of a toy that farts and burps was just their sort of toy! There are blue swirls on the areas that are interactive and she even starts snoring if you haven't touched her for a while, which is probably the most irritating of all the noises she makes. Fortunately there is an off switch on Ethel if you get too tired of her! If you squeeze her foot she giggles and vibrates which had my 5 year old son in stitches! You can also poke her eye and she will scream. My sons both loved pressing her hand as she then repeats back what you say to her. Irritating Ethel was also a big hit with adults, everyone thought she was a great toy although at £19.99 it's not a cheap toy.

Monday 5 September 2011

The Adventure Island Series - Helen Moss

The Adventure Series follows the adventures of Scott, Jack, Emily and Drift the dog. The books are published by Orion and are £4.99
I was quite excited when we received The Mystery of the Hidden Gold and The Mystery of the Missing Masterpiece by Helen Moss to review as they are marketed as being written in the style of Enid Blyton. The cover illustrations are in the same style of Enid Blyton books, presumably to catch parent's attention in the shop and encourage them to buy them.
As a child I loved Enid Blyton books and have recently been reading them to my children who love them too. As an adult re reading Enid Blyton you see that the books are stereotypical of the time they were written, when more well off families had cooks and gardeners and girls helped their Mums with the chores. These books are basically a modern Famous Five book where the main characters use mobiles and ginger beer has been replaced with coke! There is plenty of action and the books kept both my son's interest (aged 5 and 10), so much so that we have bought the first two books in the series and they can't wait until the last two books are out in September.

Monday 18 July 2011

The Fearsome Beastie

I am a member of The Baby Website and they recently sent me The Fearsome Beastie  by Giles Paley-Phillips to review.

The Fearsome Beastie is a great read with fantastic illustrations and is written in rhyme which makes it really easy to read. I found the style was very similar to Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes as you find yourself reading faster when you reach a scary bit which adds to the excitement. The twist at the end is very cleverly done, my sons thought it was hilarious! The illustrations in the book are excellent, we spent ages looking at all the different pictures and Gabriele Antonini (the illustrator) has really captured the fear on the children's faces. This is a brilliant book and we have read it at least once a day, usually more, since we received it.

Sunday 17 July 2011

I Love Dinosaurs Giant Activity Book.

This is a fantastic book and it kept my two sons occupied on a long car journey recently. Dinosaurs are always a favourite subject and this book did not disappoint. William who is 9 liked reading about the different types of dinosaurs and kept Luke, who is 5, entertained with his amusing dinosaur voices!
There is a good mix of activities in this large paperback book, stickers are always a favourite activity and this book has 200 of them so there was plenty to keep my two boys occupied. A wide range of puzzles, colouring pages and writing activities add to the enjoyment of this book. Luke is in Reception and especially enjoyed tracing over the outlines of the letters and numbers. It is a great way for children to learn without them actually realising it!
The illustrations are superb, they are colourful and detailed and William, who is a bit of a dinosaur expert, really enjoyed looking at the dinosaurs and reading the quirky rhymes about them.
This would be a great book to take on holiday as it would be good for entertaining children at the airport, on a plane or in a caravan as there are so many activities that appeal to children.

Tuesday 5 July 2011

AnimaI A - Z

Animal A – Z is a large hardback book and has 26 fantastic photographs of animals, one for every letter of the alphabet. The colours in the photographs are amazing and you really feel as if you are there with the animals!

The book is full of facts about the animals like how big they are, where they originate from and what they eat. I like the way that arrows point to the animal and give useful information about that part of the body as my 5 year old son will try to read those comments, whereas he wants me to read the longer paragraphs to him.
This is a great book for all ages as younger children enjoy looking at the pictures of animals whilst older children can read all about the animals themselves. My 5 year old son has spent ages looking at the animals and telling me about them and we have also enjoyed sitting down and reading the book together. I can see that it will become a useful book for homework as he gets older.
There is also a useful glossary at the back of the book which explains the terms simply, so children can understand them.
I really enjoyed reading this book with my son and learnt quite a few facts about the animals that I didn’t know before!

Thursday 28 April 2011

Ogo Sport Discs

When we received the Ogo Sport discs I thought they looked fun and couldn't wait to try them. The website is excellent as it shows lots of pictures of people having fun with the Ogo Sport disc and there is a video of people playing as well. You can't purchase from the website but it does give you details of stockists are and there are plenty to choose from. The Ogo sport discs came in cardboard packaging that folds around the discs rather than a box which is much better as less cardboard is needed. The packaging is bright and has pictures of people playing with the discs as well as the instructions. I had no concerns about my children playing with this toy as they are both over 3 which is the recommended age. Both my children loved this toy. I played simple games with my 4 year old son, he loved trying to bounce the balls on the disc and he thought it was hilarious trying to catch the ball. My older son played outside with it and was quite good at catching the ball with his cousin. They both liked bouncing the ball on their own and spent ages playing with the discs. The packaging suggests using water bombs which will be really good fun when it is a bit warmer - we will definitely be trying that in the summer. It helps with co-ordination as you have to concentrate to keep the ball bouncing or catch it when someone else has thrown it. This toy definitely captured their attention and both boys really enjoyed playing with it.
This is a good quality toy which should last for years as it is suitable for both children and adults. It is such a simple idea but good fun and one of the main benefits is that it is portable; it can easily be put in a bag and taken to the beach or park. I think it is good value for money and will also last for years. If I had seen it in a toy shop without trying it first I probably wouldn't have bought it, but having played with it I would buy it as it is so much fun for everyone.
The Ogo Sport Discs are brilliant outdoor fun and everyone from toddlers to grannies will enjoy them!