Monday, 21 July 2014

Playmobil for Little Pirates and Animal Lovers

Freddy's latest goodies from Playmobil have made him an incredibly happy little Playologist!  He received an incredible Pirate Ship and a fabulous Wildlife set.  Both sets required some construction helped by daddy, but the toys were soon ready to be played with.


The Playmobil Pirate Ship is an absolutely fabulous toy.  It is big (68cm x 22.5cm x 56cm) and is buoyant (so it can be floated on water and upgraded with an underwater motor).  It comes with four pirate characters, two fully fireable bolt guns, assorted weaponry and accessories, a parrot, treasure map and treasure chest.  The upper deck is removable, giving an area for the pirates to sit and discuss their pillaging plans!

Playmobil, pirates

The detail of the pirate ship is simply exquisite.  From the crow's nest to the wind-up anchor to the rigging that the pirates can hang from, everything is geared to inspire a child's imagination.  There is a storage place under the deck for keeping all the weaponry and the pirate's booty.  There are lots of places for the pirates to hold on to, swing from and stand on.  They can even do handstands! The play value for creating imaginative scenarios is huge.  

The sails billow and look so realistic as the ship is pushed along.  They are made of a stiff material which holds its shape. Freddy was very impressed that the cannons fired out real ammo and enjoyed firing them from the ship.  There is a gold coin at the back of the boat which is compatible with the puzzle in the Adventure Island set, which helps to open the secret cave.  The detail of the pirates is great.  The chest tattoo on the captain is so cool and the others hairy chest and stubble if very rough and ready!


The pirate ship is an excellent stand alone toy that can be added to over the years with other items from the Pirates range.  The pirate characters from Freddy's Playmobil advent character have joined the crew and have added to the pirating fun.

It is available from good toy retailers or from for £44.74.

If your little one prefers animals, then the Wildlife Range is a great choice.  Freddy received the Jungle Animals with Researcher and Off Road Vehicle set to try out.

The set includes one male researcher, a 4x4 vehicle, a jungle scene, which includes an Orang-Utan with two babies and a tiger and her cub, plus a host of accessories.  The jungle scene includes a lift up rock hiding some deadly scorpions and a huge snake who basks in the sun.  The off road vehicle has a removable roof and boot and has storage space for all the researchers equipment.  He has a table, a laptop, a microscope, a map, plus a lantern, stove, food and tools.

Playmobil, wildlife

Again, it's the detail which puts Playmobil toys in a league of their own.  The tree's foliage is the perfect place for the Orang-Utan family to play as they swing from branch to branch.  The creeping vines and flowers add to the scenery's detailing.  The tigers perch on the rocky outcrop as the researcher views them in their natural habitat.  The car is very detailed with spotlights, a tow bar, a grill on the front and a spare wheel. It is decorated with a camouflage foliage pattern and has the zebra emblem on the doors.

I love the tiny little microscope and laptop that the  researcher uses to identify his discoveries.  The small bits fit into a trunk, which fits in the boot of the vehicle.  There are lots more sets in the Wildlife range so you can add other animals, scenery, vehicles and researchers to games.  Budding zoologists will love unleashing their inner David Attenborough and play some fabulously imaginative games as they track down animals and study them.

The Wildlife jungle animal, vehicle and researcher set costs £29.99.  You get a lot of bits for your money.  It can be purchase from


This summer, if you want to give your little Playmobil fans an amazing family break in London, check out the Playmobil Suite at the Waldorf Hilton Hotel. For 40 days (until August 20th 2014), to celebrate its 40th birthday, Playmobil is taking over and families can immerse themselves with books, games, toys, accessories and giant Playmobil figures when they book a stay in the spacious suite.  Kids can run riot and indulge in lots of Playmobil fun while parents relax in the executive room.

Waldorf Hilton Hotel

It's a once in a lifetime opportunity that children will remember for years to come! What child wouldn't want to have fun with these amazing toys!

hotel, Playmobil

To book the ‘PLAYMOBIL Suite’ at The Waldorf Hilton, London, visit

To find out where the large PLAYMOBIL friends will pop up and to create your own PLAYMOBILMe avatar keep your eyes peeled on

Follow #PLAYMOBIL40th

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Shop 'til You Drop at Cheshire Oaks - A McArthur Glen Designer Outlet

This summer is the perfect time to indulge in a spot of retail therapy at one of the McArthur Glen Designer Outlets.  With six in the UK: Ashford, Bridgend, Cheshire Oaks near Chester,  East Midlands near Nottingham, Swindon and York, and a further fourteen outlets across Europe, they offer fantastic discounts on leading premium, designer, high street and lifestyle brands.

Throughout the summer, the UK outlets have extra activities on site to keep all the family happy.  We were invited to visit our nearest McArthur Glen Designer Outlet, Cheshire Oaks to discover what it had to offer over the school holidays.  With water walker balls, trampolines, fairground rides, giant sandpits and inflatables, the Activity Zones will make sure everyone is having fun.  Parents can relax in the deckchairs, enjoying a drink from the Beach Bar, while little ones play in the sandpit.  Older children will love the rides (extra charges through the purchase of tokens is required).   The outlet also has two fabulous play areas where kids can run off steam.  One of the areas is undercover so kids can play whatever the weather.  There are also ten coin operated children's rides around the site, to give little ones a treat when they have been good!

Today, Cheshire Oaks were hosting an event in conjunction with Heart FM.  A team from Heart were on hand in an al fresco area offering shoppers the chance to take part in a competition to win vouchers.  Shoppers were also invited to chat to the team about their shopping experience with the possibility of  their Vox Pop being featured in an ad on the radio!  Myself and my 18 year old daughter Ella recorded one and had a chat with the lady from Heart.

shopping, radio

On arrival at Cheshire Oaks we were met by the lovely Marketing Manager who showed us around the site.   We learned that the whole outlet is in the process of a massive refurbishment with new flooring, fresh white paintwork and funky seating being introduced.  Everything looked fresh, bright and clean.  It was brilliant seeing all the shops so busy and bustling.  There were even queues outside some shops, in particular the Ralph Lauren stores.  Everybody loves a bargain and with discounts typically up to 70% off, there are lots of great money saving offers to be found.

Parking is free and there are over 3000 spaces available.  There are 135 stores and 12 restaurants as well as numerous food kiosks dotted around the site.  Cheshire Oaks is accessible from junction 10 of the M53 and is close to the city of Chester, Chester Zoo and the Blue Planet Aquarium, making it a great place for incorporating into a weekend away or a short break.

For the summer at Cheshire Oaks, there is a great free competition where shoppers can Unlock Their Style.  There is a selection of locked perspex boxes with some great prizes inside.  You have to choose a key and if your key fits one of the padlocks, you instantly win what is inside the box it opens.  I had my eye on a £100 Yo Sushi voucher, but sadly our keys did not unlock any of the boxes.  It is a really fun, instant win competition, and lucky shoppers are winning prizes everyday.

shopping, competitions
Trying to unlock the padlock to win a prize!

The range of shops available is brilliant.  High end designer names such as Burberry, Radley, Ralph Lauren and Armani, sit alongside top high street brands such as M & S, Next and Nike.  So whether you are looking for an expensive designer item with a great discount, or whether you want to pick up high street brands at outlet prices, you will find whatever you are looking for in a one stop shopping experience.  And it's not just about fashion, there are lots of stores selling cookware such as Pro-Cook and Le Crueset.  There are cosmetic shops like L'Occitane, W H Smiths and Paperchase for stationery and  Cadbury, Thornton's and Lindt for buying chocolatey treats!

My girls loved the Claire's Accessories store which offered 30% off full prices as well as a load of sale items at 10 for £5!  They bought loads of lovely bits and bobs including jewellery and hair accessories.  The Next outlet was also a huge hit as the kids amassed a haul of clothes, shoes and make-up at low prices.  Kizzy picked out a dress that she took a fancy to when she saw it at a Next event we attended earlier this year.  Now at just £6, it is a great bargain for the summer.  Freddy picked out some half price character tees and some jeans.  Ella found two pairs of shoes and a top, all heavily discounted.

Cheshire Oaks, shopping, sale

We also enjoyed visiting the Vans store where Kizzy bought a pair of hidden heel hi-tops for just £10!!  A huge bargain!  Nike, Adidas and Sports Direct also proved excellent sources for picking up bargains.  Kizzy got some essential sports equipment she needs for her new school and Freddy bagged a football for just £4.  The M&S outlet had some incredible clearance bargains including a three pack of pyjamas for Freddy, a school skirt and a summer playsuit for Kizzy all at just £3 each with an extra 20% off at the till!  He also got a tuxedo jacket, shirt and bow tie set also for £2.40 which is a massive 90% discount on its original price.  He will look like a mini James Bond and I'm sure there will be a special occasion for him to wear it.  The Joules store and Gap have some great buys for children and the Superdry store is huge and is heaven for teenagers!

shopping, sales

For lunch we were treated to a meal in Ed's Easy Diner, which is a funky restaurant steeped in Americana with juke boxes playing Elvis and a real 50's vibe throughout.  We enjoyed veggie burgers and some of the most incredible milkshakes we had ever tasted which came in metal jugs.  The girls had Oreo and peanut butter milkshakes while I had a skinny coffee milkshake.  Delicious.

diner, Americanarestaurant, Americana

It is nice to see so many restaurants with so many options for vegetarians like us.  With Yo Sushi, Cafe Rouge, Harry Ramsden's, Starbucks and McDonald's among the choices, there is something for everyone whatever your taste or your budget. You really can enjoy a full day out at Cheshire Oaks; shopping in the amazing shops; letting the kids enjoy the play areas and having a family meal together.  

There are plenty of facilities for families with young children including baby changing stations, restaurants with baby food heating and high chairs and kiddy cabs for hire.  There are ramps around the whole site making easy access for pushchairs when walking between the stores.

Eds Diner, restaurant, Cheshire Oaks

We had an excellent day enjoying all the facilities at Cheshire Oaks.  Because of the play areas and Activity Zone, Freddy had a fun day too. Ian looked after him for a while in the undercover play area while the girls and I did some serious shopping!  It worked really well and everyone was happy.  It's a great day out. When we arrived home we checked all the bargains we had bought.  We had masses of stuff for all three children for their summer holidays and for Kizzy's Back to School essentials. A very productive trip indeed.

sale, bargains, haul

Find out more about McArthur Glen Designer Outlets.

Check out a Heart FM or Capital Radio event near you at Bridgend on 2/8/14 or Ashford, York and East Midlands on 9/8/14. 

“I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity”.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

The LEGO Movie comes to TalkTalk - Everything is Awesome!

TalkTalk, Britain’s fastest growing TV service, brings the smash box office hit, The LEGO Movie, to its TV customers on Monday 21st July 2014!

LEGO, TalkTalk

The exciting full-length animated LEGO adventure will be available to TalkTalk’s TV customers to rent for 48 hours for the price of £4.00. What an excellent treat for the kids at the start of the summer holidays! The movie, which has made over £240 million at the box office, is available on TalkTalk on the same day as the DVD is released, ensuring LEGO fans don’t have to wait to watch it.  You can watch it from the comfort of your home with just a few clicks of your remote control and enjoy a hassle-free and fun family film with the kids.

You will all soon be singing "Everything is Awesome!" and cheering on Emmet as he tries to save the world from Lord Bussiness's evil plan.  It's a great movie with a heartwarming message, that adults and children will love in equal measure.

The LEGO Movie is just one of the exciting things, which will help keep the kids entertained this summer with TalkTalk. TalkTalk will be launching free channel ‘Tasters’, allowing customers to view popular channels usually found only in paid for Boosts. The first of these tasters will launch on the weekend of 1st and 2nd August where the Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior will be free to watch all weekend, helping families kick off the school summer holidays with some Disney fun.

Along with the LEGO Movie, YouView from TalkTalk homes can also watch Non-Stop, The Book Thief and The Grand Budapest Hotel, and later this month TalkTalk viewers will also be able to catch Noah and A Long Way Down.  Plenty of reasons to check out the TV service from TalkTalk.

Proud TalkTalk Family Blogger

Friday, 18 July 2014

Goodbye Juniors - Hello Summer!

Today marked the end of the school year.  Kizzy said good-bye to primary school as her time as a Year 6 pupil came to an end.  In the teacher's awards presentation, she won the accolade of being recognised as MD Junior School's Next Top Model...the girl with a model attitude and the longest legs that her teacher had ever seen on an 11 year old.  But Kizzy isn't just a beauty, she's got brains too, getting level 5's for her maths SATs and a level 6 in English.  She also has a lovely group of friends (and is also mature enough to know who not to be friends with! She's had a bit of trouble recently with a so-called friend, but has dealt with it without losing her integrity). I'm so very proud of her and the way she handles herself.

school kids

Kizzy's teacher gave all the children a truly wonderful gift with a beautiful sentiment.  They each received a pretty little jar filled with things...a jar of ingredients for a fruitful future.  A contents card listed what was contained in the jar, from a packet of seeds to a sprinkle of stars with the reason behind each object.  It was so lovely.  It made me cry.

leaving present

Kizzy also had an official school autograph book, which she got filled with messages from her school friends.  It was heartwarming to see so many people saying how lovely, funny and kind my daughter is, and what a great friend she is

I'm sure will have a fantastic time when she goes up to secondary school.  She is so ready for it.  But before September, I intend to enjoy some quality time with Kizzy - along with Ella and Freddy who have both reached educational milestones themselves.  I love spending time with my children and the following six weeks will be well spent as we prepare for the next stages of our lives!  

Private versus state schools: are they really better?

My niece attends a private boarding school where she is flourishing academically, personally, socially and musically. The opportunities and facilities are superb and I have no doubt she will excel and go on to be massively successful.  If money was no object, I'm sure I would have considered private education at a school like St.Faiths for my children, where little ones wear a stripy blazer and school tie and take part in an innovative and far reaching curriculum. Saying that though, my children have all done or are doing brilliantly well in their own rights and I've not had to take out a second mortgage on my house!  So there are definitely two sides to the story.  This guest post discusses the pros and cons of private vs state school.

"When it comes to education, every parent wants the best for their child. But is private school always necessarily better? With social happiness weighing on your child's future as heavily as the potential for academic achievement, the fact is not every child is fortunate enough to get the opportunity to attend a private school. Before you decide if private education is right for your children, read on for some more information on the public school system.

Benefits of private school education

There is no doubt that private schools have a lot to recommend them. Boasting beautiful buildings, acres of green grounds and a wide range of extra-curricular activities, parents can quickly become dazzled when comparing private schools with their local state schools.

This said, the benefits of a private education run far deeper than aesthetic superficialities. Indeed, by offering smaller classes private school children get a great deal of personal support, become part of a tight knit community with many more opportunities to build up their confidence as well as take on more diverse subjects with state-of-the-art equipment. As private schools often attract more committed teachers, exam results are also often higher, providing students with access to better universities.

How early does private school begin?

Education for your little ones can begin as early as age two with pre-nursery and nursery programs offered on a half day basis, but most full-day
private prep school programs begin at age four. Whilst some parents choose to use the state system for their children's early education they may decide that if they’re going to invest in private education, it may make sense to start as early as possible to get their child adjusted to the school and its ethos.

 How much will it cost me?

Obviously there is an expense to pay with a private education. Although many institutions now offer mortgage-style payments for parents passionate about educating their child privately but who find themselves unable to pay the fees up front, the fact is putting a child through private education from prep school can cost around £150,000 in the long run. Annual fees for day pupils at independent schools range from £12,000 - £20,000 but with prep school fees on top, private education can quickly become a huge investment for any family."

Review Round-Up - featuring Comfort, Carex and method

There are some great new scents from Comfort, Carex and method, which are helping to make cleaning up so much more sensational for summer.  From laundry to handwashing, there are some great new fragrances available to add some pzazz to the kitchen or bathroom.

Comfort Creations

Created by perfumiers, Comfort has launched some luxurious fabric softeners with sophisticated, long lasting fragrances.  Honeysuckle and Sandalwood, Indian Rose and Musk and Snapdragon and Patchouli fragrances are set to add an extra touch of luxury to laundry.

We were sent a Comfort Creations Indian Rose and Musk fabric conditioner.  With top notes of citrus and apple with a woody background of sandalwood, patchouli, musk and vanilla.  The rose scent brings a touch of romance to the fragrance.  It's a very exotic blend which bursts with musky lusciousness.

The fragrance is sophisticated and long lasting making my washing smell really lovely, fresh and perfumed!

A 33 wash bottle retails for £3.30 from good supermarkets.

Find out more and join in the chat at


method Fresh Currant Handwash

I am a big fan of method products.  They are environmentally friendly, 100% vegan and paraben free.  They also come in some incredible fragrances and vibrant colours.  The new Fresh Currant  handwash is a deliciously fruity formula with notes of blackcurrant, apple and jasmine.  It's just so sniffable! With added vitamin E and aloe it is gentle and nourishing on the skin.  The cheery scent is perfect for the summer and the teardrop bottle looks fabulous in the bathroom or the kitchen. 

We love this new addition to the method range.  It is sold exclusively in Boots for £2.49

hand wash, method

Carex Bubble Gum Hand Wash & Strawberry Laces Hand Gel

Encouraging the kids to keep their hands clean is made so much easier with these new Carex products which come in some awesome sweet shop scents.  The new fun edition products will have hands smelling as sweet as candy, as well as keeping them nourished and protected as they kill 99.9% of bacteria.  

The Bubble Gum Hand Wash makes masses of bubble gum scented bubbles which Freddy loves.  It makes hand washing so much fun.  The Strawberry Laces Hand Gel is perfect for popping in your handbag to keep hands sweet smelling and protected from germs on the go. 

The hand wash is available at supermarkets RRP £1.80 and the hand gel is available at Superdrug for £1.45.

hand wash, hand gel

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Nutty Mushroom Crumble Recipe

Gold from Flora is the new blend of butter and Flora, with a rich, creamy taste.  It is a versatile product, perfect for spreading, topping vegetables and potatoes or as an ingredient in baking or cooking.  Flora challenged me to come up with a simple recipe for an everyday family meal using Gold plus up to ten other ingredients and a £10 budget.  So, I came up with a recipe for a Nutty Mushroom Crumble, a tasty vegetarian meal.

The Nutty Mushroom Crumble has a delicious saucy, mushroom base topped with a crumble made using nuts, seeds and oatmeal.  (I used all ten ingredients plus optional seasonings to taste.)  Here is a video showing how I made it.


I received a £10 voucher to cover the cost of the ingredients.


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