> The Beesley Buzz: September 2012

Toyologist Review: Fooz Pro Match Set

Review by The Beesley Buzz.


Foooz Pro Match Set is a mini desktop football set, containing 2 goals, 2 players and 2 balls. The basic game, of playing Foooz ball against another player, was relatively easy to play for our two boys (aged 6 and 8). There are also 'skill cards' so you can learn tricks and compete against each other - these were much trickier, and the boys lost interest after a while. I'm sure that with practice they would get better and so enjoy the tricks more, but there wasn't any enthusiasm to do that!

Unfortunately, the game quickly descended into a free-for-all, with both boys scrambling to get to the ball. Sore fingers ('kicked' by the plastic players) ensued, and new local rules introduced ("don't cross the half-way line"). They enjoyed the game, but only for a short while. The joy of running round the park kicking a real leather ball was too enticing, leaving the plastic toy on the floor in favour of getting some real fresh air.

I'll leave our six-year-old to have the final say:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAy6ewk0s-U


Available soon from Toys R Us.
Read more...

Four Children and IT by Jacqueline Wilson


Jacqueline Wilson fan's will love this book about a step family, who with the help of a magical sand fairy, actually find that life with each other is not that bad after all.

A modern twist on E. Nesbit's story Five Children and IT, containing just enough clever links in it to enhance the story but meaning that you absolutely don't need to have read the original to fully enjoy the story.

This fairy is nothing like any other fairy you will come across and I found that I actually enjoyed his personality. I also loved that it sneakily contains a bit of education in it - teaching kids about how things were in the past when Rosalind ends up in Edwardian times in one chapter of the story. As each of the characters in the story unfold, you find yourself actually liking each and every one of them. It is definitely a book that brings encouragement and hope to kids and helps them realise that they can have dreams and whilst the sand fairy helped the children in the story get a taste of their dreams, they will also hopefully one day work hard to make their dreams come true.

A final bonus is the feature at the back of the book containing a Four Children and IT quiz to see how much of the story you can remember, a page on "Rosalind's Writing Tips" and a recipe for "Robbie's chocolate crispy cakes". What better way to engage readers than to have this section to give it an interactive edge (and by that I mean good old fashioned interacting not anything technological!).

A thoroughly enjoyable read and both me and Josh would highly recommend 'IT'.
Read more...

A thank you to Baba & Boo

When I read on facebook about all the fuss over the goody bags that Baba & Boo had been giving out at the Baby Show in August, I was slightly curious to know what exactly could be that fab. So I was delighted to be picked to receive one of my own after founder of Baba & Boo, Eve Bell had put a handful aside as prizes for those of us who couldn't make it to The Baby Show to have a chance to win one.

This is what I received in the post the next morning...


A funky Baba & Boo green canvas bag containing: A gorgeous pink cloth nappy, a baba & boo token key chain, and a 'mummy survival kit' which put the biggest smile on my face.

Of course it was great to get the cloth nappy as I have been meaning to try one out for the past 8 years (over the course of 3 babies I hasten to add) and my good intentions were always replaced by never quite getting around to researching the options. Somehow the claims that cloth nappies were just as easy to use as disposables was always made so forcefully that it would create doubts in my mind. Combined with those major leaky poo days that all mums must experience having to deal with at some point - I convinced myself I was happy with disposibles.

Faced with actually seeing a real cloth nappy up close, touching it, feeling it, seeing how it works, all of a sudden it didn't seem so scary.

And apart from anything else it was PINK! (Those of you who know me will have noticed how much I am enjoying doing the whole girly pink thing at last after having two boys).

Apart from all the well documented disadvantages with disposable nappies (landfill, high cost etc), another of my own personal gripes with disposable nappies is how ugly they look in photos. I am forever trying to make sure that my baby's nappy doesn't show whenever I get the camera out. However, these gorgeous cloth nappies from Baba & Boo are ones that you will want to show off and I would happily let Trin wear a little dress or top with just the nappy on in the summer months as they really do look so funky and fashionable.

Teamed up with some of the other lovely accessories available at Baba & Boo, there are going to be some seriously cute babies around.

Now onto the 'mummy survival kit'. Unlike the fab nappy, there was nothing of any direct significant use in it (my boys enjoyed the kiss sweets and quickly nabbed the marble and penny and the tea bag will get used) BUT the key thing here was the love and care it showed. This little piece of paper told us a story of it's own. This little verse accompanied with those little bits and pieces showed that the person behind it (and the person behind Baba & Boo) understands. She has been there, she knows what you are going through, she knows what us mums have to deal with - day in, day out, often with no thanks or appreciation. By putting together this thoughtful little pack, she is standing with us mums and telling us that we matter.


 
Read more...

Toyologist Review: Tag Human Body

Review by The Beesley Buzz.
The LeapFrog Tag Learning System (reviewed here) is just the start of the adventure, as accompanying books of all descriptions are also available. We looked at the Human Body Read & Learn package. The fairly hefty box reveals a sturdy fold-out card with bold drawings of bits of the human body. It covers, for example, the skeletal system, nervous system, digestive system and so on.

Before the Leap Frog Tag reader (also known as 'the pen' in this household!) can work with the pack, you need to download and install the software from the internet to your computer. Then download the file to go with the book. Then plug the pen into the computer via USB, and transfer the file across. You can hold information for several different books on the pen, so as your collection grows you don't need to keep moving files backwards and forwards (but you do still need to buy the actual books for it to work).

The installation process was simple - from finding the right version through to copying the files to the pen - and the pen worked perfectly first time with the software. That said, it did take several minutes so I would strongly recommend you do this before you give the book to your child - otherwise it will be a very frustrating wait for them! The book itself has information to read, songs and information to listen to, and games to play using the pen. The pen seemed to be pretty accurate in knowing what you pointed at, too. Unfortunately, the draw of playing the game was too much at times for our boys, so they didn't read the page before diving in... and then couldn't answer the questions! Still, it's a way to learn, and they have picked up some new information along the way.

My biggest gripe with the system, though, was some of the pronunciation. I cringed as it rattled off words, knowing they weren't right. It isn't the end of the world, but if that could be tidied up, this would be even better. It has kept the boys amused for a while, although I don't know for how long they would keep returning to it.

As well as the fold-out book, the pack also contains a small growth-chart made out of thin paper, but with a number of stickers that impressively work with the pen and so help reinforce learning.

Remember - to make use of this pack you need the Tag Learning System, too!
Read more...

Toyologist Review: Tag Learning System

Review by The Beesley Buzz.


Mum said this wasn't at all what she expected when I opened the box and took out the special reading pen called the Leap Frog Tag reader. She had expected it to be some sort of games console because the box was so big. But as far as pens go, this is a pretty cool one.

It just needed mum to put in a couple of batteries and then it was mine...all mine...except well my brother wanted to share it too because he thought it looked pretty neat.

The book gives us a taste of lots of the other books that are also available to buy separately to use with the special Tag reading pen. But it still had bits to read, songs to listen to and games to play using the pen.

Me and my brother love this so much because we can get mum to buy the other books that we are into and then when our little sister gets a bit bigger, she can get some books for her too and then we can all use the Tag pen even though we are all different ages and all like different types of books.

Even though we think it is great, mum has already been nagging us about not losing the pen otherwise the book will be useless without it and not to run out the batteries too quickly by playing with it all the time.

love Daniel, age 6 x


Read more...

My hands full hero - My Nuby Natural Touch Compact Mini Steriliser

I can't believe it has taken me 8 years to discover that my life could have been made a WHOLE lot easier!

Here I am with my hands full!
I always knew I would have my hands very full when my youngest baby came along in April. With an 8 year old and a 6 year old who are both home-educated (Josh is autistic and there is no local education provision available for him in our area), and knowing that I wanted to breastfeed her, I knew I would need oodles of patience with all three of the children.

I hadn't realised just how little time I would have left to do anything else - I have had to take a "one and done" approach as much as possible and as soon as I spot something needs doing, I need to try my best to do it there and then rather than add it to a never ending to-do list.  So when the bin starts overflowing, I need to take a couple of minutes to empty it even if the baby is crying or the boys are squabbling. When the wash basket gets full, I just need to get on with putting the washing machine on whether that be first thing in the morning, or in the middle of the night. It has become my only way of juggling and although it does feel like a constant treadmill, I know it is pretty much the only way we are going to manage to stay (relatively) on top of things during these early months.

What I hadn't banked on was just how frustrating it was when the supply of sterilised dummies ran out each time. Using my 'one-and-done' approach, I thought I would just pop them into my ancient electric steam steriliser and a quarter of an hour later, they would be ready.

But with a baby screaming in one ear and kids running amock instead of getting to bed, it was such a faff to unplug the steriliser, rinse it out, fill with just the right amount of water (whilst being careful not to get the wires / electrical bits wet) and then  popping in a few dummies before finally plugging it in, switching it on and waiting 15 minutes.

The dummies looked so lonely in that big old steriliser. With my baby being exclusively breast fed I didn't need to sterilise any bottles so it also seemed a big waste of time and electricity for just those few dummies each time.

And then (...cue music...Hallelujah chorus)...I discovered the Nuby natural touch Compact mini steriliser. It seems crazy that one little product can make such a big difference but when you feel like you are spinning as many plates as I am, and every minute saved makes a tangible difference to the job of looking after the kids and keeping the house in some sort of order, it almost felt life changing!

Now sterilising dummies, and the odd bottle and a couple of spoons (now she has started weaning), takes a matter of minutes (8 mins in our microwave but can be as quick as 5 minutes in a higher powered microwave), and is just a much simpler straightforward process without faffing about with the unplugging and worrying about the wires getting wet.

We have been away twice recently and the first thing on my packing list each time was...you guessed it...my favourite Nuby steriliser.

As a real bonus, it also comes with a lovely Nuby Natural Nurser bottle (with a breast sized teat to make it easier if you wish to combine breast and bottle feeding), and a Softflex cherry soother.

My only regret is that I didn't discover this product sooner!

Read more...

I HATE voting comps!

If you take a look at my personal facebook feed, you would be forgiven for thinking that I actually like competitions that involve voting, because I always seem to be begging, pleading and totally on the scrounge for any votes I can get.

The truth is I absolutely hate voting competitions - but somehow I still can't resist entering as I think that maybe this time, just for once, if thousands and thousands of people vote, then maybe, just maybe there might be an element of fairness in it rather than the win going simply to the person with the most online friends.

I have spent many hours and sometimes days getting a particular photo or video just right, and sometimes getting it through via the judged stage to the final and then...heart sinks...it comes to the voting stage...and alas I simply do not have thousands of friends on facebook to ask.

And even if I did, how many times could I actually keep asking them? Our latest crazy home-ed project involved making a "Get messy with music" video for Persil and was selected as one of the weekly winners and is now this very week in a voting stage and once again I find myself pestering friends and asking for votes. I would feel like I let the kids down if I didn't at least try and yet I feel guilty asking my friends (again) to vote....so here is the link if you can spare a few seconds each day this week...pretty please...

http://www.facebook.com/#!/persiluk/app_165913410186666

(ours is entitled week 3 winner Rebecca Beesley - just click on the orange 'vote' button to vote and you can vote once every 24 hours until Sunday).

I would feel far happier sharing our photos / videos for competitions with my friends if I didn't have to accompany it with a plea - but could simply say look at our entry into X, Y or Z. Then we could all have a laugh and whatever crazy project we had been doing and also be left feeling really positive about the organisation running the competition.

To date, there has been one exception to this where a public vote has worked in our (well Joshua's) favour. Joshua's story recently was selected as one of the top ten in Silentnight's book at bedtime competition and with a serious amount of begging and pleading and contacting quite literally everyone we knew, he did get picked as the overall winner as a result of having the most votes. (We actually did think his story was fab though so in this case I reckon he was a well deserved winner).
Read more...

Toyologist Review: Thomas and Friends Take n Play The Great Quarry Climb

Review by The Beesley Buzz.



"Thomas is babyish" was the first comment we had from our six year old when he saw this Fisher Price Thomas and Friends Take-n-play Great Quarry climb set...yet within minutes of mummy setting it up (and I did need to follow the instructions!) he was busy pushing Thomas around the track and using the winch to get Thomas back to the top again.

It seems that although this product is aimed at children aged 3 plus, that once that mini-testosterone surge hits little boys at around age 4, suddenly Thomas goes out of fashion faster than you can say "come along engines" and suddenly Ben 10, Spiderman and all those action-hero types become all the rage.

Yet having said this, both boys did enjoy some play value from this toy as they liked the two main features of Thomas triggering the saw to fall and the winch which attaches to Thomas with a magnet and then pulls him up the steep track at the quarry.

Although this set is part of the Take-n-play set and so in theory can be packed up and taken out and about with you, even with it packed up (the instructions show you how to put the pieces of the track into the tower section and then the red part of the set doubles up as a carry handle), I would still find it too big and bulky to regularly pack up and take out with us.

The big plus points for this toy are:
  • A perfect christmas or birthday present for Thomas the tank engine fans.
  • Part of the take n play set so additional pieces of track / other engines can be bought separately and added to this if you wish to.
  • No batteries needed (YAY!). The saw and the winch are both mechanically (not battery) operated.




One downside is that once it is set up, it no longer can be packed away into the box (a big bugbear for us mums when tidying toys away).

My main advice would be (to save those embarassing moments) please make sure you buy it for the right age group and a child who is 'into' Thomas. My boys often receive Thomas toys for birthdays and Christmas despite having long grown out of it (and kids aren't always the most diplomatic delivering the news to aunts/uncles/grans/grandads etc that this really is NOT what they wanted).

Overall, a fantastic buy for any keen Thomas fan who would really value this set in their collection.

Available soon from Toys R Us.
Read more...

Toyologist Review: WWE Rumblers

Review by The Beesley Buzz.


When I first looked at this box, I was a little dissappointed - showing an illustration of the product rather than a photo is usually a sign that the product doesn't look good in photos! But I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the box and pulled all the bits out. The box does clearly say that the toy is not assembled, but my six-year-old managed to follow the instructions to put it together without too much trouble.


I was also pleased that the set is designed to be a game, not just a play set. The two players each have a wrestler, and the idea is to be the first to fire the wrestler using the launcher so he smashes through the roof and then through the floor of the ring. This isn't as easy to do as it sounds, though, as it takes some practice and a little luck to hit the target. Even when it hits, it won't always smash through first time, so it really is anyone's game until the end.

My two boys fell in love with the game pretty quickly. They've played other games where you have to fire things to land on targets or hang from trees, but none that involved smashing things up - it seems that gave this game the edge over the others for my boys!

It didn't take too long, though, before the younger realised the older was getting quite good, so they changed the rules to make it more collaborative - to see how long it took to smash through between them. This stopped any arguments, so was a winner for Dad, too! They soon also realised that the launchers can be used to fire all sorts of things - mostly at the wrestling ring so far - so all manner of small toys have joined the fun (even sneaking down after bed time for one last go).



My youngest was a little dubious at first, but was quickly won over once he saw how much fun it was to destroy things. His older brother always loved smashing things up, so loved this game from the start. With their adapted rules and no arguments, this is a good set for them to enjoy together. Other wrestlers are available separately, but the two in the set (joined by our own other small toys) have kept them entertained for hours. Available soon from Toys R Us.
Read more...

A great day with Green People!

Yesterday, we had the absolute pleasure of meeting some of the lovely team at Green People for a day of sharing product testimonials and a useful question and answer session with Emily, Green People's Baby & Children brand manager.


I suddenly felt very self-conscious when the film camera was pointed at me and my mind went totally blank even though I had tons I wanted to say about our family's favourite Green People product, the "Organic Babies Baby wash and Shampoo". It is such a fab product that I use it on all the children and also keep a tube by the kitchen sink and use it to wash my hands with! Like all of Green People's range, it does not contain any chemical 'nasties' and yet it lathers up so well and leaves skin feeling so soft and fresh. It has helped Daniel's dry-skin so much and I'm sure it has helped prevent Trinity getting dry skin.


We had a tasty buffet lunch whilst chatting with some lovely mums and their adorable children and I was given a fantastic goody bag from Green People containing some of my favourite products and some new ones to try.


The team from Green People were superbly organised and I have definitely learnt something new from the question and answer session about your wonderful products. Thank you Green People for a lovely day!
Read more...

Toyologist Review: Redakai Championship Set

Review by The Beesley Buzz.
The Redakai box is full of promise - "Championship Set: Everything you need to play like a champion!"

It worked for my sons, but not for me - ten games in, and I hadn't won a single one!

The instructions give two different ways to play, and we started with the Basic Game. Being totally new to Redakai, it didn't appear very Basic to me but my six-year old figured it out and, with lots of glances to the instructions, we were off and playing. After one round, we knew what to do. This is a two-player turn-based card playing game, and is down to chance with no skill involved. Still, they beat me every time.



When we thought we were ready for the Advanced Game, we sat down with the more complex instructions but soon found you need a Championship Set for both players. The packaging of this Set could have made that clearer, but I'd guess most Redakai fans would know it is about playing against your friends with each person bringing their own cards to the match. Other card sets are available to buy to supplement the Set, which would add to the game.

The 3D effects on the cards are excellent, and give an impression of movement. This adds something other card-based games don't seem to have and helped to keep the boys engaged.


video


After I realised fathers were never destined to win the game, my two boys (aged 6 and 8) have played happily together with this, giving long periods of peace (something of a rarity at times in this household). They keep returning to the cards and battling each other again and again. Mum gives a big thumbs-up to this (she hasn't yet been brave enough to challenge the boys to a battle) and our 6-year old describes it as "Just the best!"
Read more...

Toyologist review: Star Wars Fighter Pods Multipack

Review by The Beesley Buzz.



From a galaxy far, far away come the Star Wars Fighter Pods, packaged conveniently into a multipack and available from your local Toys R Us store or online. Each pack contains several characters, fighter pods, a space craft and an AT-AT vehicle along with a description of the three ways to play with the pods (spin, drop from the space craft, or roll to knock down the characters). But it doesn't take long for a young Jedi master to engage his imagination and play with the set in all sorts of new ways.



The soft rubber figures are to play with (or collect, display and admire) and the pods are to fire in a sort-of inter-galactic minature bowling (or can be used to store the figures). My two boys love it, and keep coming back to it.

It might have been better if there was a storage box or tin in the pack, but then young boys (ours certainly) are not renowned for clearing up anyway and an empty cardboard box is now elaborately decorated in Star Wars deco and does just as well.

Be warned - this is an addictive escape for any trainee Jedi and you may lose them for hours whilst they play... if you ask me, that's £21.99 well spent! This is a must for any Star Wars fan, but great even for those who just love to spend time playing either by themselves or with a brother/sister. My sons give this a thumbs up!
Dad at TheBeesleyBuzz

From mum: "Mums beware! The characters are really tiny, so take extra care when vacuuming round the house."
Read more...

Bruce the Sudocrem Moose goes on tour

Bruce the Moose has been staying with us this summer. We have had a fab time. Here are our top ten moments with Bruce..... enjoy!

10. Bruce's name up in lights (well Lego actually) on holiday at Bluestone, Wales.

9. Hitching a ride with Daniel on a 4x4 (Bluestone, Wales).

 8. Exploring Tintagel Castle, Cornwall.

7. Working to preserve the future for the next generation at The Eden Project, Cornwall.

6. When in Cornwall...

5. Treading grapes with my hooves!

4. NOT impressed to see what the previous owners of Lanhydrock (now safely in the hands of the National Trust) did to his ancestors!

3. Blinged-up antlers!

2. When Bruce came with us to the British Library to research his family tree, we think he got a bit confused.... "No Bruce - it was Mr GRAY the famous zoologist who named the genus of ELK, not ELJames!"


1. To see the photo we chose as Bruce's best moment with us, you'll have to visit the Sudocrem Mousse facebook page! Photo should appear tomorrow once it has been approved by them.

UPDATE: 26 September 2012
The competition winner has been announced - it wasn't us, but was a well-deserved winner. For those of you still wondering, here's the number one from our top ten:
Bruce the Moose caused quite a stir when he went to a fancy dress party. In his lion outfit, he became the 'mane' attraction!
Read more...

Look who's weaning!

I tried to hang on until 6 months, I really did...but there's only so many nights of broken sleep that I could take before I gave in (and that was 2 - yes, two nights of waking again after having slept through since she was only a few weeks old and enough was enough for me!). And I know, I know they say (imagines nagging voice) "that increased feeds and waking in the night is not a sign that your baby is ready for weaning" but they're not the ones who have to drag themselves out of bed at 2am having only just managed to get to sleep in the first place to nurse a baby who is besides themselves with hunger.

Whereas for the boys, I was eager to start the weaning stage as soon as possible, in a mothers crazy attempt to see their baby reach the next milestone ahead of others, this time around I was hoping to exclusively breast feed until 6 months and then give baby led weaning a try - but it wasn't to be.

So armed with baby rice and spoon - we began. Thankfully she took to it extremely well...I love that look she gives me as if I have let her into the best kept secret...food!

Trinity's first time in her new high chair!
Read more...

Toyologist review: Snazaroo face painting kit

Review by The Beesley Buzz.
                 
We are big fans of Snazaroo facepaints already in the Beesley household as I have a pack of the Rainbow face painting kit already which has always been a popular choice of activity with my own children and many childminded children in my childminding days. This pack that we are reviewing is described simply as a "Face Painting Kit" but with the pink packaging and photos of girls with their faces painted on the front of the pack, seems primarily targeted at girls. Indeed, my son immediately said "Yuk - girl's face paints" when he first saw it.  
With a quick bit of 'mummy marketing' (which I'm sure most parents are familiar with), I quickly explained to him just how perfect the colours are for face painting pictures of Moshlings (as he is a big Moshi Monsters fan) and sure enough it worked. Both boys were mega keen to get started.
You can see the results for yourself. With relative ease, I managed to face paint a purple 'Iggy' and a green 'Scrumpy' (I liked the brush very much as it is just the right 'texture' and thinkness for face paints - although it looks quite wide - it can still be used with precision and is not too floppy like some brushes can be).  
At 9.99, the Snazaroo face paints are fantastic value in my opinion as they are definitely of a far superior quality compared to other brands of facepaints that we have tried. I know from experience that they will last and last (the pack claims to paint up to 50 full faces and although this may seem hard to beleive as it looks like just a small amount of each colour is provided - I know from our previous experience of Snazaroo that this is likely to be a pretty accurate estimate). The face paints mix well when made wet with a little water and do not dry out. I tend to keep the little plastic discs to put back over each colour and close it with the clear plastic lid after use to help keep the face paints soft.
A generic booklet is included to give ideas for face painting and although this pack does not contain all of the colours needed to complete all of the designs in the booklet, it is useful as a guide and I'm sure most people would be able to improvise and use slight variations of colour to get similar designs.
We hope that you will enjoy face painting as much as we do with the help of Snazaroo!
Read more...

Toyologist review: Dino Bite

Review by The Beesley Buzz.

Dear Daniel, Thank you for your letter. I might be getting old, but I know it is only September and I didn't get confused! My friend Geoffrey the Giraffe at Toys R Us asked me specially to send it to you early as he told me that you are a Toyologist this year. I wanted to know what you thought of it so that it helps me decide what to bring other boys and girls who have been good this year. Your mum told me to spend less than £20 so this was perfect at £19.99! As you enjoyed it so much, I will make sure I stock up in time for my Christmas Eve deliveries. With my very best wishes, Santa
Read more...

Toyologist 2012 - The first box arrives...

As you most probably know from all the Toyologist logos on this blog and all our excitement, we have been selected as one of Toys R us' 24 Toyologists (out of over 800 applications that they received - I still can't beleive it!).

Well today, our first box arrived....




But what's inside...watch this space and follow us on our facebook page The Beesley Buzz and all will be revealed over the coming weeks.
Read more...

Bluestone Photoshoot


We have just returned home after a fab few days away at Bluestone national park resort in Wales. We were selected by Bluestone as ‘models’ for a family photoshoot and were invited to stay in one of their lovely lodges.

Despite mother nature not being on our side (plenty of rain!), we were lucky enough to have a beautiful day on the day of the actual photoshoot. The boys started off in the adventure centre having fun running around on the play frame and a big climb up the climbing wall. They also had a great time on the mini 4X4 vehicles and Daddy got to drive us around on the golf buggies which can be hired to get around the resort. We were also treated to a tasty lunch at the Knight’s Tafern and felt very well looked after.

The lodges are furnished to an extremely high standard and are very spacious. We were lucky enough to have a huge lodge that can sleep up to 8 (so I found I had to label the doors to stop myself forgetting who was in each room!), but even one of the single lodges sleeping 4 would have been big enough for us.

What we have found in the past is that often the décor in holiday accommodation is rather dated and tired, so it was a pleasant change to find that not only was it bearable but I actually felt a desire to have the lodge’s furniture and décor in my own home.

Swimming at the Blue lagoon and entry to the Adventure Centre are included in the cost of your holiday and many other great activities are available at an additional charge like the outdoor activities at ‘Camp Smokey’ and the ‘Steep Ravine’.

It is worth trying to find out the quiet times to head to the pool as we made the mistake of going on our first day when it was extremely busy with guests and local visitors too. All of the staff that we had contact with demonstrated exemplary customer service and took great pride in doing their job well.

In good weather, there is so much woodland to explore in the beautiful tranquil surroundings…but if you are not blessed with dry weather then do as we did and get the wellies and waterproofs out and make the best of it!

Once off the paths, be warned, things can get VERY muddy and if you have a young baby, it is worth using a sling/carrier as a pushchair would have got extremely stuck in the mud.

Considering that we visited during peak season, the site itself did not feel overly busy (with the exception of the pool which was very busy at times). There was high quality food available, including a takeaway delivery service from ‘The Yard’ restaurant. As we had been provided with our accommodation free of charge, we decided to treat ourselves to eating out at The Knight’s Tafarn and with takeaways from ‘The Yard’ each day. So much so that it has come as a shock to be back home and having to cook again.
Read more...

Matilda's Cat by Emily Gravett

Book Review by mummy and Daniel

 


Emily Gravett does it again. Another fabulous book with clever use of the visual. Like many of her other books it is so clever in the use of her beautiful illustrations combined with the way the text complements the story so much that it is integrated into the storyline.

In this book, we find out about Matilda's cat and discover what it is that Matilda's cat does and does not like! (We also love the way it also reminds us about our own cat, as our dear Bella is not too dissimilar from Matilda's cat.)

Emily Gravett's books are amongst my favourites and I will be treasuring them long after the kid's grow out of them. This particular copy will be one our most special family treasures as it is signed by Emily herself when we met her at the British Library's wonderlands festival.

Despite getting this book less than a week ago, it has already been read and re-read over and over.

Daniel's verdict: "loved it!"

Matilda's Cat by Emily Gravett is published by Macmillan Children's Books (2012), priced £10.99 hardback.
Read more...