Monday, 31 August 2015

Top Quality Red, White and Rose Wines from Spar Wine

The SPAR wine range covers a large number of top quality wines chosen and designed by leading industry experts, from delicious reds to crisp whites, including some excellent award winning wines at great prices. I was sent a red, a white and a rose from their brand new collection to try out, and pair with some vegetarian meals.


Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

Country: Italy   Region: Abruzzo
Priced at £5.50

A smooth, rich, and delicious wine with rich spice and coffee flavours. 

red wine

This is quite honestly one of the best reds I have ever tasted. It was so smooth with a wonderful rich and deep flavour that was so easy to drink. I loved it so much I resented sharing it with Ian and made him get a beer instead! 

When it comes to food pairing, some say this is the best match for pizza, but it is also great with pasta dishes. I paired it with a Quorn bolognese and it went together really well. It was a lovely taste of an Italian summer, enjoying the pasta dish with a couple of glasses of this smooth, big flavoured red!

SPAR wine

South African Reserve Chenin Blanc

Country: South Africa   Region: Western Cape
Priced at £6.09, on promotion at £5.50

With flavours of apple and honey, this crisp, dry white goes well with Thai curries, summer salads or antipasti. 

This is a great party drink for social occasions when serving plates of nibbles.

Rosé d’Anjou

Country: France        Region: Loire Valley
Priced at £8, on promotion at £6.50

This classic French rosé has an appetising nose of summery strawberries and cream. It has a very slight sweetness which is cut with juicy red fruit flavours on the palate. Served chilled it is refreshing and fruity and is a nice accompaniment to a meal.

This pretty pink wine is ideal with salads, mildly spiced curries and rice dishes. We served it with a Quorn and vegetable balti curry with brown basmati rice. It made a posh change to having lager!

SPAR wine

You can find out more about SPAR's award winning wines and about pairing wine with food at

Friday, 28 August 2015

Crazy Legs Scooby Doo - toy review

We all love Scooby Doo here Inside the Wendy House. Ian and I have been watching since we were children and now 6 year old Freddy is a fan. So when we received a Crazy Legs Scooby from Character to review, there was quite a lot of excitement from oldest to youngest!

Scooby Doo, toy

The toy stands 30cm tall and is a good representation of Scooby Doo with this collar and tag. With a tap of his head, Scooby's legs go crazy! Each paw swivels independently, sending Scooby moving backwards, forwards, round and around in all directions! This random movement is quite chaotic and when accompanied by the sounds including boings and Scooby's catchphrases, it really is hilarious to witness!

scooby doo

Everytime you play with him, the movement is different  and unpredictable. He literally can end up anywhere: crashing into furniture, into your feet, disappearing under tables and bouncing off walls! You can't help but laugh. Take a look at this demonstration of Scooby in action.


This toy is a great novelty item for Scooby fans. Little ones will chase him around giggling as he randomly spins and boings,yelps, laughs and says "Scooby Doo!!" It's a toy that puts fun before functionality, but anything that brings smiles and laughter definitely gets a thumbs up from me. Crazy Legs Scooby is completely bonkers, but that is why we love him.

It is suitable for ages 3 and up and requires 6 AA batteries (it comes with demo batteries). The RRP is £29.99 and it is available at Argos and other toy retailers.

Bake in Black - Music inspired baking for rock music fans!

If you love home baking and hard rock music, this new recipe book Bake in Black is for you. Featuring 58 recipes for cakes, biscuits, doughnuts, brownies and pies, each creation is a tribute to an iconic rock or metal band. Inspired by the sounds of bands such as Slayer, The Sex Pistols, ACDC, Aerosmith, Black Sabbath and Nirvana, each sweet treat is a unique bake designed to capture the essence of the music, with interesting flavour combinations and imaginative presentation. Every bake has been named after a track or album title, using some brilliant cake-related puns. How about Rainbow's "Since You've Been Scone" or Guns and Roses "Sweet Tooth O'Mine" or Meatloaf's "Battenburg Out Of Hell" to get you started? It's genius!!

Thankfully, not only is this book visually stunning, filled with humour, awesome rock band references and the coolest cake designs, it is also a great recipe book in its own right. The recipes are clear and concise, using easy to obtain ingredients and equipment. So you can reproduce these bakes and desserts at home. You can put your own spin on them and create your own versions of these amazing cakes and bakes.

punk, rock, music, cakes, GBBO

I had a go at making one of the cakes, and although I needed to tweak it a little to adapt it to the pans I have at home, the essence is pure punk rock! I made the brilliantly titled "God Save the Cream", a homage to the Sex Pistols.  The minted whipped cream worked wonderfully with the fresh strawberries and blueberries, covering the light sponge.

punk, baking, cake, bake in black

I am so inspired by this book that I am now trying to create an entire rock music themed dinner party for Ian's 47th birthday next week, complete with musical puns and awesome presentation. Maybe start with some Alice Soup-er served with Bread Zeppelin rolls followed by some Mexican food using Red Hot Chilli Peppers  and with a "Megadeth by Chocolate" birthday cake for dessert. It's still a work in progress!

Bake in Black is available from for £14.99. It would make an excellent gift for anyone with a passion for rock music and home baking, especially when paired with the Electric Guitar Baking Spatula (which is £6.99). It's a brilliant addition to any bookshelf and has brought buns with puns into my repetoire. Whoever said baking wasn't rock 'n' roll!

Musicroom is the largest online retailer of sheet music, tutor methods, instructional DVDs, music software, instruments, accessories and gifts. It sells everything for the musician or music lover. We received the book to review.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Love your Mouth - Dental Health Tips

A new survey of 10, 000 UK adults has revealed that thousands of people admit to not brushing their teeth at night! Seriously?! I am a bit shocked by this revelation...even if I am exhaustedly crawling up the stairs to bed I'll still throw a toothbrush around my mouth. But 45% of those asked by GSK as part of its Love Your Mouth campaign say they have not brushed their teeth at night due to tiredness, laziness or forgetfulness. 

Failing to have your evening brush can increase the chances of suffering from cavities, gum disease or tooth loss. Spending just 2 minutes twice a day brushing and an extra couple of minutes flossing helps prevent the build up of plaque that can lead to tooth decay.

Of those who do brush, 18% said they use only water and no toothpaste and 14% use a finger instead of a toothbrush. Again this seems a bit potentially damaging when there are a range of excellent toothpastes containing active ingredients and soft bristled brushes on the market, which do the job so well.

With 67% of respondents admitting to having fillings and 44% saying they know that they could take better care of their teeth, it is definitely worth reassessing your oral health and learn to love your mouth!

Here are ten tips to help improve your dental hygiene routine:

1: Brush twice a day for at least 2 minutes each time. Wait for 40 minutes after eating to avoid damaging enamel, which is temporarily softened by acidic food and drinks.
2: Use a suitable toothpaste. Whether you have sensitive teeth, stained teeth or have bleeding gums there is a toothpaste that has a formula suitable for your oral health.
3: Use floss or interdental cleaning aids. The gaps between your teeth trap food, which can cause decay or inflammation over time.
4: Use mouthwash to help rinse away food particles, deter bad breath and reduce levels of bacteria in the mouth. Do it at a different time to brushing to maximise your daily oral hygiene.
5: Spit, don't rinse. Water will wash away the fluoride from the toothpaste.
6: Use disclosing tablets occasionally to check how well you are cleaning your teeth.
7: A small headed, soft bristled toothbrush is best for effective teeth cleaning.
8: Prevention is the key when it comes to oral hygiene procedures. Ask a dentist for advice.
9: Make brushing part of your morning and bedtime routines and instill the importance of good oral hygiene to every member of the family.
10: Visit the dentist for regular professional cleaning and check-ups. Issues can be sorted out quickly and easily if caught early.

Visit the Love Your Mouth Challenge at and find out how to improve your dental health and get suggestions for suitable GSK dental products (which are available to buy in stores such as Tesco and Superdrug.)

I took the challenge and was recommended Corsodyl Daily mouthwash as I occasionally get bleeding gums after brushing.  It offers everyday gum protection and has a clinically proven dual action formula. Fluoride strengthens teeth and prevents cavities, while gums are protected by the removal of plaque and given a 12 hour protective shield. It has a pleasant minty taste that leaves the mouth feeling fresh.  I was also recommended Sensodyne Repair and Protect as I suffer from tooth sensitivity. It offers daily relief from the discomfort of sensitivity while patented Novamin technology helps repair damage where dentine is exposed. Together, they are a good combination, helping to keep my teeth and gums healthy!

GSK, dental care, healthy mouth

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Design and Make Steampunk Jewellery

Our latest product to review from Interplay is the My Style "Design and Make Steampunk Jewellery" set. Inspired by the vintage steampunk genre, the set features aesthetic Victorian-esque designs from 19th century steam powered machinery such as cogs, gears, washers, nuts and keys. 

The Steampunk set includes everything needed to create eight projects, making necklaces, bracelets and earrings, and comes with a neat little box with compartments to store all the bits and pieces. There are decorative washers, nuts, gears, key charms, angel wing charms and ball chains, in both brass and silver colours, as well as ribbon, earring hooks, jump rings, craft wire, glue and flat nose pliers. Even after the eight projects have been completed there will be plenty of components left over to have a go at designing your own creations. The fully illustrated instruction leaflet has step by step instructions and is easy to follow. A ruler is printed on the bottom of one of the double pages for measuring lengths of ribbon and positioning components, which was extremely handy.

Interplay, Stempunk, jewellery making

We were very impressed with the contents. It is good quality stuff that looks really cool and funky. The girls were able to complete the projects easily, without having to deal with any fiddly knotting or plaiting techniques - which usually proves their downfall when making jewellery from kits!

The charms fitted to the jump rings and attached to the chains, ribbons or ear hooks. This process worked well using the flat nose pliers which squeezed the metal rings shut tightly. They are a good tool for the job. Using the PVA glue proved a little bit ineffective, so we switched to a stronger clear glue that we had, in order to stick charms together. It worked very well and the pieces have stayed attached after being worn.

This set gets a resounding thumbs up from Kezia and Ella. The finished pieces really are extremely wearable and look shop bought, encapsulating the Steampunk trend very well. The quality of the charms makes the end results look impressive. It is nice to see a craft set inspired by this popular genre, giving girls something edgier and cooler to work with. It suited my daughters perfectly.

interplay, steampunk, jewellery making

Priced at £19.99, this set provides everything needed to make eight pieces of jewellery, and includes the reusable pliers and the storage box, making it excellent value for money. Recommended for ages 8 and over, the projects help develop jewellery making skills and provide inspiration for budding designers to create their own pieces.

You can find the Steampunk Jewellery set at

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Dinotrux on Netflix #streamteam

Netflix have a great new show that is proving to be really popular with my six year old son Freddy. Dinotrux is Dreamwork's Animation's new action packed series featuring some awesome half truck, half dinosaur characters.


The story centres on the adventures of Ty Trux, a huge Tyrannosaurus Trux and his tiny Reptool friend Revvit. When Ty's valley is destroyed by a volcano, he goes is search of a new place to call home. Injured and hungry he meets Revvit, who helps Ty and becomes his trusty sidekick and best friend.  They join with other Dinotrux and together they unite to defend themselves against big, bad bully D-Structs, an angry Dinotrux intent on destroying everything they have built.

The animation is incredible and the dinosaur/truck hybrids are just so imaginative. We love Ty's wrecking ball tail and the rock crusher jaws and Revvit's tape measure tongue!

The Dinotrux have problems to solve and use teamwork to find a solution, each employing their own skills along the way to build the things they need. This is a great message for kids showing the value of working together for the greater good. It also explores the theme of friendship, as the different Dinotrux learn to live together.

Freddy's favourite character is Revvit because "he is littler than all the Dinotrux, he is funny and nobody is scared of him and he always does good things!" One of Fred's favourite episodes in when Revvit ends up getting accidentally eaten by a hungry rock eating Dinotrux. We get a great look at the internal workings of a Dinotrux's digestion system. Tense stuff!

Dinotrux is definitely a great series that will help entertain the kids in the last days of the summer holidays. It's helped see us through these last few wet, rainy days.


We are part of the Netflix Stream Team and are enjoying discovering all the new shows and films available on Netflix. Find out more and sign up at


Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Minecraft wherever you go with the wearable Gameband

Minecraft has taken the gaming world by storm. Freddy is a huge Minecraft fan and has his own beautifully designed and built world (courtesy of his big sister's boyfriend's building skills) which he loves playing in. He is also pretty obsessed with watching other people playing Minecraft on YouTube. It is an all encompassing hobby for a six year old gamer.

He was very excited to receive a Gameband + Minecraft to try out, which allows him to take his Minecraft obsession to the next level. The wearable wristband allows players to backup their Minecraft game, meaning they can plug it in to the USB port of any compatible laptop or desktop and play their saved game. The computer doesn't even need to have Minecraft installed onto it as it launches from the wristband itself. Minecraft worlds can be taken to friends' houses, on holiday or played at the grandparents' when visiting. Players never have to leave their Minecraft worlds behind again!

Minecraft, mojang, gaming

Not only can the game be launched directly from the Gameband for playing, it also acts as a backup to keep Minecraft worlds safe. Data is saved both locally onto the band and remotely in secure cloud based servers. Even if your Gameband gets lost, you can still access your data by ordering a new one with your data intact, meaning your game is extremely safe, which is reassuring to serious players.

The Gameband also contains a collection of pre-made games, arenas and worlds, allowing players to experience a host of Minecraft action from the likes of Dragonz, Sethbling and Hypixel. This is a great feature allowing players to explore some incredible landscapes and buildings, giving them inspiration on just how amazing Minecraft can be.

The Gameband itself is a funky looking, sturdy black wristband, which comes complete with an LED display function showing the time, messages and pixelated images with the touch of a button. The band comes with pre-made settings, or you can customise it and create your own animations using the app Pixel Furnace.

The band clasps together with the USB port fitting securely into an opening with a click. It can pinch if you do it too close to the skin though so take care! The large Gameband is sized to fit an adult's wrist easily and comfortably and isn't too bulky to wear. The small one is great for kids. It is a really good looking, modern piece of kit and the watch function makes it multi-purpose.

The band comes in a snazzy little box with instructions on how to set it up. The Gameband comes with a demo version of Minecraft but needs the purchase of a licence to run the full game if you don't have it already. (This costs £17.95).  Once set up you can launch the game directly from the band by opening it and inserting it into the USB port of your computer. It is quite user friendly once you get the hang of it and Freddy is able to use it independently.

Take a look at this video to find out more about the Gameband with Minecraft.


The Gameband comes in Redstone and Diamond editions and is priced at £64.99. Find out more and order one from They make a great gift for Minecraft fans of any age...Christmas is only a few months away, never too early to start planning present ideas!

Friday, 14 August 2015

How to make your living space child proof

Once we become parents, our dreams of having a stylish, designer home often go out of the window. Instead of living in a house fresh from the pages of the latest edition of Homes and Gardens, we find ourselves co-habiting with our children in rooms that end up looking like a toy shop at the end of a busy day. But it doesn't have to be this way! There are lots of ways that we can childproof our homes so that we can still  have lovely things and live in a house that is equally suited to grown-up dinner parties as it is to toddler play dates. Take a look at this infographic for some simple, but effective ideas for making our living space work for both the adults and the children.

Arlo and Jacob

Arlo & Jacob is a designer furniture company that promotes the idea of affordable yet high quality furniture that comes with a lifetime guarantee. Their luxury fabric sofas and chairs are beautifully designed and made for life, so whether they are being used as somewhere to rest and relax or as a cushiony castle for little ones to play on, they are made to last, bringing comfort and style for years to come. With 120 fabrics to pick from, with warm woolens, rich velvets or cool linen fabrics to choose from, there is something to suit all tastes. Whether you want a classic, retro or modern look, their furniture will fit into your home and your lifestyle perfectly - even after the kids come along.

* Infographic provided by Arlo & Jacob

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Strand Bands Designer Set Review

The Make 2 Wear Strand Bands Designer Set, is a 62 piece jewellery making set allowing children to create their own bespoke fashion bracelets using colourful bands and beads.


With assorted stretchable, rubber strand bands in various colours, an assortment of beads and charms and a Strand Styler tool and suction cup, there is enough contents to make up to fifteen bracelets in various designs.

bracelet making

The set comes with instructions, but they are quite vague and even 12 year old Kezia and big sister Ella were getting a bit irate and frustrated trying to work out how to make a bracelet. The overly simplified 'fold, knot, peel apart' instructions didn't really help them. So we took to the trusty internet and found some video tutorials on YouTube, which proved a great help.

Once we understood the basic technique, the strands were cut to size, knotted, attached to the top of the Strand Styler, separated into sections and plaited or knotted. The Strand Styler keeps the strands secured together, making working with the materials less fiddly. However, the stretchy strands can ping off, unravel or get twisted up quite easily if you aren't careful, which proves quite frustrating when you're half way through making a bracelet. Practice definitely helps with the techniques and eventually, the girls managed to work out how to make the simple braided bracelets.The ends are then tied off to secure the bracelet to the wrist.


For creative kids, with patience and dexterity, the set will enable them to make a range of cool looking bracelets.There are various different techniques for attaching the beads and charms and lots of ways to knot the strands, making a huge variety of possible bracelet designs. The colours of the strands can be mixed and matched to suit individual tastes and the thickness of the threads can be decided when peeling the strands apart, changing the visual effect of the braiding. The beads and charms are funky, for a variety of looks and styles from punk rock to girly.

The set is aimed at girls aged 6 and up.  I'm sure there might be some girls of that age that may be able to make some wearable pieces with some assistance, but it's not the easiest process as my girls found out. I'd recommend it for children older than this, if you want them to work on their bracelet making skills independently.

Some advanced techniques look very complicated indeed, but I'm sure they can be attempted once the simpler techniques are mastered.  However, I'd definitely recommend using YouTube tutorials rather than the instruction leaflet. Seeing the process in action made the whole thing make much more sense.

braiding, strand bands

You can use your imagination to create your own individual designs using the braiding and beading techniques learned, reusing the Strand Styler tool. The end results look pretty good and with practice, I'm sure they will get even better.

The Strand Bands Designer Set is £19.99 RRP. Find the instructional videos on YouTube.


Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Making a summer memory jar

Soft and Fluffy Summer Moments

Roberts Bakery have come up with a lovely idea for preserving our memories of the summer. They have sent me a lovely big Kilner jar into which we will be popping souvenirs from days out, diary pages and photos to create a summer memory jar. When summer is over and we are thrust back into the humdrum routine of school runs and daily drudgery, looking back through our memory jar will help brighten even the greyest day.

What I love about the memory jar idea is that even Freddy can contribute. He still hates having to sit down and write anything longer than a few words, so the prospect of a full blown holiday diary or scrapbook was met with horror. Pages of blank paper needing to be filled with words was way too daunting for my boy. However, writing down a couple of words on a slip of paper or drawing a quick sketch to be added to the jar along with leaflets, photos, shells found on the beach and tickets from attractions, was a much more enticing prospect. He could see the jar filling up and actively wanted to be a part of the project.

A memory jar is such a simple idea. By adding a memory for each memorable day, you will create a wonderful collection of magical moments that can be revisited again and again. The jar can be decorated using stickers or Sharpie markers to personalise it.

memories, roberts bakery

This summer so far has been filled with wonderful moments: Freddy's family Minecraft birthday party, our holiday in Yorkshire, visits to Alton Towers, the Dungeons and SeaLife. We've been to the cinema and have had days out and in with family and friends. Spending quality times with loved ones is what summer is all about to us. That and impromptu lunchtime picnics in the garden using Roberts Bakery Soft & Fluffy White bread!

You can visit the Roberts Bakery Facebook Page for the chance to win £100 in their Soft & Fluffy Moment Competition. Simply vote for your favourite Soft & Fluffy moment in their poll and add your email address to be entered. It's easy. (Open to UK residents aged 13 and over. Winner announced on September 7th 2015.)

Thank you to Roberts Bakery for inspiring us to make our own memory jar - it's such a lovely way to preserve our happy, soft and fluffy summer memories.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

The Big City Sticker Book by Maggie Li

Maggie Li has a new interactive sticker book due to be published by Pavilion Books on September 3rd, based on her ever popular Big City Explorer book. The Big City Sticker Book allows children to explore some of the world's most exciting cities and comes with over 350 stickers.

Maggie Li

The very cute character, Penguin, acts as the guide on the virtual journey from city to city. He is hidden within the illustrations from each city, so younger children can have fun spotting him! Children can collect passport stamps as they globetrot their way through the book, showing the places they have visited.

Each page comes with a variety of activities and fun facts about the cities featured throughout the full colour pages. There are spaces on each page that children can complete using the stickers, which are colourful and fun, designed with Maggie Li's distinctively quirky style. 

Maggie Li Maggie Li, City

Each city represented within the book comes with a city suduko, a compass game, a flag to colour and a map reference. There are facts about the language spoken, the currency and the population along with visual references to the famous landmarks, food, people and culture. Some pages have a 'Find It' challenge to test the readers knowledge and observation skills further. The book is packed with information to get young, inquisitive minds thinking.

Older children will enjoy the compass challenge, which asks them to navigate their way from city to city by drawing arrows on the compass on each page leading to the next destination. An atlas at the front of the book shows the location of each city for reference.

london, sticker book, Maggie Li

The Big City Sticker Book encourages an interest in the world around us. It develops geographical skills such as compass work and map reading. Children use their visual skills to find Penguin on each page and to match the stickers to the blank spaces. It is a really fun way to learn about cities and nurture wanderlust in even the youngest explorers.

This is another lovely title from Maggie Li which costs £9.99 for the large A4 size paperback book. It has 64 pages plus 19 pages of stickers. It is published on September 3rd by Pavilion Children's Books.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Being an Allergenius at the #aoCleans event

We were invited by to attend the #aocleans event at the Thinktank in Birmingham, where we were to learn all about what it takes to become an 'allergenius' with Hotpoint. With hayfever, asthma and eczema sufferers in my family, the subject of allergies is very relevant for me, and I was interested to find out how I can help Ian, Ella and Megan avoid the misery of allergies.

I attended the event with Freddy, Ella and Kezia. The kids are always up for joining in with whatever fun is on offer and were excited to take part!

appliances online, allergies

The focus of the allergy advice was surrounding dust mites and pollen, both factors in some very common and unpleasant allergic conditions. 1 in 4 Brits suffer from home based allergies and are six times more likely to turn to medication rather than find an in-house solution to reducing allergens. In fact only 1 in 10 say that they actively attempt to reduce the allergen levels in their home, even though there are steps that can be taken.

Hotpoint have a washing machine with an anti-allergy cycle to help avoid the effect of allergens, especially on bedding. They use high temperatures and extra rinses to remove up to 99.9% of major allergens found in homes. Investing in a good vacuum cleaner with anti-allergy functionality and a steam mop, are efficient ways of reducing exposure to allergens on flooring and hard surfaces. Using a condenser dryer on an anti-allergy cycle, especially for bedding, can remove 99.9% of dust mites, pollen, fungi and bacteria. In fact, line drying laundry can actually cause washing to become contaminated with pollen, which is not good for hayfever sufferers.

party games, allergies

The children took part ion a range of fun activities including playing some games, which helped the little ones learn about dust mites, cleaning and laundry. They even played musical statues to the sound of a vacuum cleaner! There was a treasure hunt where the children hunted for allergens hidden in a mock up living room, searching under the sofa, inside lampshades, under cushions and in the carpet!

The adults were able to chat with the knowledgeable experts and find out about the Hotpoint appliances and how they can help in the fight against household allergies. I loved the look of the washing machine and dryer that they had on display.

crafts, sisters

They made some pretty spring flowers using tissue paper, pom poms and pipe cleaners, while learning about pollen and hayfever.

They also did some colouring in, adding their own colourful twist to the cheeky allergen characters!

aocleans, hotpoint

We enjoyed a lovely lunch and completed the day by visiting Thinktank, where Freddy enjoyed dressing up, pressing buttons and looking at the exhibits, before playing in the brilliant Science Garden.

Freddy had a great day and learned a lot about how to get rid of allergens, in fact he got his very own certificate and t-shirt to prove it!


If you are an allergy sufferer there is some great advice available at and on the Hotpoint Allergy Week page, which includes details of the products with anti-allergy functionality. Also take a look at where you will find thousands of household appliances to suit your needs!

Friday, 7 August 2015

Playing with new Plasticine Softeez #PlasticineSofteez

We hosted a Plasticine Softeez Party in conjunction with and Plasticine. It allowed us to test out the new, softer, squishier modelling clay from Plasticine, and share our experiences during a two hour Twitter Party. 

plasticine, twitter party

I provided everyone with a lovely lunch, which included a great looking cake topped with a Plasticine Softeez cake plaque and coloured polka dot sprinkles as well as some savoury food to nibble on.

angel cake

There was a bit of an under the sea theme going on and I made some cheese spread topped open sandwiches shaped like a shoal of fish. I also decorated a pizza with fish shapes cut from a variety of toppings.

under the sea, party food

We had lots of activities for the guests to do during the party. Firstly, they used the Under the Sea Play Boxes, which contain 12 blocks of brightly coloured Plasticine Softeez, a play mat and nine accessories including cutters and rolling pin.

The soft texture of the modelling clay makes it perfect for little hands to shape and mould. The children used the cutters but also made under the sea creatures and plants freestyle, showing off their creativity. I particularly loved the deep sea diver and the pink sea dragon that Freddy and his little pal T made. Being able to use the Pasticine Softeez so easily to create exactly what they wanted to make was good for their confidence.

It is a really good set, which gives kids some structure to their creative play but also inspires them to create their own models based on the under the sea theme.


Using the Plasticine Softeez Tub of Fun gave rise to some really creative play. There was rolling, cutting, twisting, squeezing, spiralling and flattening!  The Softeez is really easy to work with and never dries out, making it perfect for freestyling imaginative fun. 

plasticine. making models, food

The fruit bowl that L made was so cute with its apple, banana and grapes (and what looks like a cucumber?)  The colours are all so vibrant and the Plasticine Softeez is just so inviting.


Making animals was another favourite theme. T's tiger cub was my favourite with its cute stripes! It is lovely to see the kids so inspired making a range of fun creations. A's elephant was really cute with its purple eyes and K's pink piglet looked so squishy.

plasticine, modelling

Rolling snakes with the Plasticine Softeez was a lot of fun. Everyone enjoyed using their hands to roll out the longest sausage shapes from the samples of the modelling clay. Using a tape measure we found the longest snake was 1.3 metres long! Everyone got a certificate with their name and the length of their snake recorded for prosperity. It was a really popular game that brought out some healthy competition among the guests!


The Cupcake Creations kit allows little ones to design and make cute cupcakes. The guests used the colouring sheets to design their cake before making it using the set which consists of 8 blocks of Plasticine Softeez, 1 cupcake mould, 1 cutter, 1 modelling tool, a roller and an instruction sheet. Big sister Kezia had some fun with this one. The Softeez is just so tactile, it is quite relaxing for older kids or us adults to have a play with. In fact all of us mums enjoyed trying it out as much as the kids did - it is a real stress reliever!

plasticine, friends

All in all, Freddy, his guests and his sisters had a really good time trying out the new Plasticine Softeez. Everybody left with goodie bags filled with samples, sweets, stickers and toys.

modelling clay, Plasticine

We enjoyed this Twitter party and loved the new Plasticine Softeez products. Thank you to and Plasticine UK for having us as hosts.

***Update ***

The Plasticine Softeez is still as soft as it was when we first used it. The claim that it doesn't dry out is definitely true! It also has not gone that dirty brown colour that happens when the different colours get mixed together. We have some multicoloured lumps but they still look appealing and colourful. This is a great new product in the modelling dough market that is long lasting and can be reused again and again.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

A Wonderful Week in Yorkshire with Forest Holidays

We have just returned from a glorious week spent in Yorkshire staying with Forest Holidays in Cropton. Our accommodation was a beautiful, well equipped Golden Oak lodge situated in a woodland meadow, in the heart of Cropton Forest. The site benefits from having a Forest Retreat, where guests can meet the team, enjoy a meal or a drink, book activities and buy selected groceries. They also have a great takeaway service where you can order a pizza to be delivered to your lodge and a bakery ordering service so you can get freshly baked bread, croissants and pain au chocolats made to order in the mornings. We sampled both the pizza and the breakfast goods - both are delicious!

Yorkshire, holidays

Our lodge had three bedrooms (one double, two twin), with very comfy beds, two bathrooms, plus a large open plan living area with a good kitchen (with microwave, dishwasher, oven, hob and all crockery and utensils) complete with dining area. A large flat screen TV allowed us to enjoy some great movies in the evening, taking advantage of the Forest Holidays pre-bookable in-cabin entertainment package. This gave us unlimited wifi, access to over 125 movie titles (which included Cinderella, Focus, The Boy Next Door, Fifty Shades of Grey and Big Hero 6) and the Sky channels including Sports for the duration of our stay. (This costs from £35 and we were well impressed with it.)

The outdoor hot tub really is a wonderful addition to the lodge and we used it everyday. Freddy absolutely adored his hot tub time as did I! It was blissfully warm and relaxing. Toiletries in the bathrooms were a nice touch, and there were robes and slippers for Ian and I to use, along with fluffy hot tub towels provided for everyone. We also had a log burner in the cabin, which we used to make a roaring fire on the cooler nights.

The lodge was very comfortable, spacious, light and airy and yet still homely with lovely artwork and sumptuous furnishings. The views of the forest through the huge windows gave a magical feel to the accommodation, connecting you to the nature outside.

There are some lovely walks and cycle routes around the site, where we enjoyed spotting the flora and fauna of the forest. We saw plenty of rabbits, birds and bats during our stay. There are deer in the forest but they proved too elusive for us to spot. My favourite wildlife spotting was made whilst we enjoyed a sunset hot tub session when a barn owl flew directly overhead carrying some prey in its talons. That was something I had never witnessed before and I was pretty excited!

hot tub, holiday, Forest Holidays

The Forest Holidays site is a perfect base for exploring the North Yorkshire Moors and the coast is just a half hour's drive away. Nearby towns include Pickering, Helmsley, Whitby and Scarborough, with the city of York being an hour away.

We spent a day at nearby Dalby Forest, which is a massive area of national park land featuring a visitor's centre, forest walks, cycle trails, adventure playgrounds, an activity centre, Go Ape, a shop and cafe. Parking is £7 for the day, and you can drive between the areas within the forest throughout your visit.

Freddy loved the well equipped adventure playground which had things to climb and clamber over, swing in, spin on and jump off! A stream ran past this part of the forest and children were paddling and splashing in the water. It was a real wonderland for the kids. The cafe was lovely for a quick snack and a coffee and had lots of outdoor seating.

We went for a lakeside walk around Staindale Lake, which was lovely with good paths and boardwalks and with plenty to explore. It is such a pretty area and very peaceful.

family, holiday, forest

I did a bit of research before we left and discovered that English Heritage had several sites in the area that we were staying in. Whitby Abbey, the inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula, is a lovely gothic ruins overlooking the coastal town of Whitby. (After the castle we walked around Whitby and had a brilliant lunch of vegetarian Homity Pie, mash, peas and gravy in the quaint, old Humble Pie shop!) Helmsley Castle and Pickering Castle are interesting places to explore, both found in bustling market towns. Scarborough Castle is a big clifftop castle overlooking the North Sea. It was hosting a Clash of the Knights tournament while we were there, which was really great fun. The kids got to meet the knights, try out different helmets and weapons, cheer on their favourite teams in battle and Freddy even learned how to sword fight.

Having the English Heritage membership gives us access to 400 sites around the UK. Using it for some of our holiday days out, virtually paid for the price of 12 months membership, so was well worth doing. It's definitely worth having for family days out and if you do decide to buy one check Google for discount codes, I saved myself 20%!

Scarborough, Helmsley, Pickering, Whitby

Whilst we were visiting Scarborough for the castle, we decided to spend some time exploring the seaside town. Unfortunately the weather turned making our beach visit a bit grey and gloomy, but we had our waterproofs and were undeterred by the unpredictability of English summertime. We bought some sticks of rock, dodged the over zealous hordes of seagulls and looked round the souvenir shops. Scarborough reminded me so much of my own family holidays when I was a child, there was a real sense of nostalgia as I walked along the seafront with its array of amusements and shops selling nick-nacks, buckets and spades. Scarborough has a fantastic vegan restaurant called the Calf Cafe, where we had lunch. The food was divine. Their Peanut Butter Cheesecake was out of this world!

We used our Merlin Annual Passes to visit the SeaLife Centre, which had some adorable seals, free roaming penguins and a fabulous display of jellyfish to keep us all enthralled.

Yorkshire, beach, family, holiday

We visited York one day, where we again used our Merlin Annual Pass, this time for the York Dungeons, which is always fun. We walked around The Shambles and visited some shops. We had lunch in a lovely vegetarian cafe in York called Goji where I had an Indian platter with chapatti, coconut dahl, a samosa, pakoras and salad. It was delicious. We went to the Fudge Kitchen and were delighted to find that they stock vegan Dairy Free fudge so stocked up on some Salted Caramel fudge for Megan.

We packed so much into our week in Yorkshire. There was a lot of stuff we didn't have time for, (like the Eden Camp, exploring more of the North Yorkshire moors or riding the steam railway from Pickering to Whitby) but we really enjoyed the things we did. We loved the Cropton site with its walks through the forest and we adored our lodge home, which we always enjoyed going back to at the end of a busy day, having a relaxing hot tub session before settling down to a good movie.

Forest Holidays are great for all the family from the youngest to the oldest. My grown up girls loved it as much as their little brother did. We all had a fabulous time, making some brilliant memories of quality family time spent walking, climbing, exploring, playing and eating some good vegetarian meals! We love Yorkshire and definitely plan to return!

Find out more about Forest Holidays and their nine stunning locations at

I was offered a discount against the cost of this holiday.


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