> The Beesley Buzz: 2016

Miss T puzzles it out: Miffy Farm Puzzle Review

Miffy mania continues to take hold in the Beesley household following our recent trip to the Miffy Museum in Utrecht. Whilst there we stocked up on lots of Miffy goodies and thought ahead for Christmas and have secretly bought Miss T some extra Miffy themed Christmas treats.

Having travelled hand luggage only, we found it quite a squeeze to fit in all our Miffy shopping to bring home. I only wish that we had realised just what a massive selection of Miffy products were available right here in the UK via the Official Miffy Shop.

So just when Miss T was beginning to think that her Miffy adventures were over, a special parcel arrived in the post...Here's Miss T and D squabbling over who opens it...
"It's miiine"
The kind folk over at Official Miffy UK had specially chosen this Miffy Farm Puzzle for Miss T.  Puzzles are just brilliant for kids to learn problem solving skills as well as for hand-eye coordination and improving dexterity and motor skills. When the boys were younger we had a huge range of puzzles for the different ages and stages of development which we have long since passed on to friends.

Miss T had outgrown those wooden peg style puzzles and wasn't yet up to doing the smaller pieced puzzles and we didn't seem to have any puzzles suitable for 'early years' stage. So this Miffy Farm puzzle with it's chunky 24 pieces was just perfect!

Miss T got to work straight away. She enjoyed having a bit of help from big bro to begin with...

As she grew in confidence, she then did the puzzle again by herself...

And was extremely proud of herself when she completed it!

I have to tell you that of course I love the bright colours of this puzzle, I love the picture (not too easy nor difficult), I love seeing Miss T enjoy working out where the pieces go and managing to fit them together.

But one of the things I love the very most about this puzzle is the packaging.

It comes in a super sturdy box that will last as long as the puzzle itself. One of my biggest bugbears when it comes to children's toys and games is that however good the game or toy is, the boxes are often flimsy and tear or wear out quickly making storage of that toy really tricky.

Not so with this robust puzzle box. It's also Miffy shaped for added interest and fabulously bright and colourful too.

We absolutely love everything about this puzzle!

You can find the Miffy Farm Puzzle in the Official Miffy UK shop and you can also follow Miffy UK on Twitter and on facebook to find out what Miffy is up to.

Disclosure: Miffy UK sent us this puzzle for the purposes of review. All opinions are our own. 


Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS

Regular readers may remember us reviewing Super Mario Maker when it launched on Nintendo WiiU. Now those clever people at Nintendo have created the Nintendo 3DS version... and it doesn't disappoint!

Just like the WiiU version, Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS is essentially a game creator. You can build your own Super Mario levels, placing coins, enemies and even Bowser himself. You can change the theme of the level, and play through the different eras of Mario.

Similar to the WiiU version, but with even more options - the only limit is your imagination. And there's plenty of help to be had, including lessons on how to create courses - even giving you the choice of learning the basics, or the more advanced aspects of course creation.

One of our favourite features is the Super Mario Challenge. Each of the 100 courses built by Nintendo in the Super Mario Challenge will reward players with two medals for completing courses in a specific way. These challenges range from tasking players to finish a course making sure they only defeat one kind of enemy, reaching the goal without ever pressing the jump button, or making sure every coin has been collected. But you don't get to see the second challenge until you complete the first. This means the levels never get old - there are multiple challenges (some very tricky!) to keep them fresh and exciting.

As with the WiiU version, you can share your courses with others, and download courses that other people have created, so there will never be a shortage of new levels to play.

All course creation elements of the basic set are unlocked from the start, with additional course elements unlocked by completing worlds in Super Mario Challenge. So the more you play, and the better you become, the more complex your own courses can become.

Of course, one of the best things about the Nintendo 3DS is that it is portable - so Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS means you can create courses whilst out and about, taking inspiration from the world around you.

Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS is a fantastic addition to our gaming, and the boys have loved both building courses and testing their skill in the Super Mario Challenge. Definitely recommended!

More information about Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS is available from the Nintendo UK website... and in the brilliant video they've put together here:

As Nintendo Family Bloggers we were sent a download copy of Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS for the purposes of review. All opinions are our own.

Reborn by C.M. Gray: Book Review

I always struggle to know where to start when it comes to book reviews. Describe too much of what the book is about and you give away the plot. Don't give enough detail and it doesn't feel like enough of a review. So I've been careful to try not to give too much away here...

Reborn is a teen fiction novel but one with a difference. I knew a teeny snippet of it being about angels before I began to read it. But it was way beyond my expectations. It gets stuck straight into the story to get you turning those pages right from the start.

The story is told in the first person by Abigail - a teenager who survived a near fatal car accident against all the odds with, it turns out, the help of a guardian angel. And these ain't no ordinary angels - forget twee little cherubs... these are angels with attitude.

This novel succeeded in being serious, fun, thought-provoking, and humorous all at the same time. It had just the right balance of love and romance without being over the top, mixed with elements of excitement and fear without being too scary. I loved the fun historical references reminding me of a certain time travelling doctor who also gets to meet certain great figures from the past.

I read this myself and loved it despite not being the target teen audience. I'd be very happy for my nearly teen children to also read it and, in fact, I think they will want to straight after me.

This is C.M. Gray's debut novel and I am so pleased that it is the first of a trilogy as I cannot wait to read more.

It is available as an ebook on Amazon here at the brilliant price of just £2.37. (Price correct at time of publishing, as always please check prices yourself before purchase).

Disclosure: I was gifted an e-copy of this book for the purposes of review. All opinions are my own, and I would happily recommend this book to anyone.

Autumn in Amsterdam - Day 5

Written on Saturday 29th October 2016

I wanted to write up the last couple of days of our Amsterdam trip before the memory starts to fade. Technically the title should now be Utrecht rather than Amsterdam as on Thursday we checked-out of The Fashion Hotel in Amsterdam and caught the tram to Central Station followed by the train to Utrecht.

We had one reason for going to Utrecht. In all honesty it was the core reason for our whole holiday. Miffy!

On our bucket list was seeing the Miffy Museum. So we left our luggage at the Court Hotel reception as it was too early to check-in and then headed straight for the Miffy Museum.

It proved to be the best value place we visited. Our family ticket covering 2 adults and 3 children cost only 18.50Euros and although the museum is not massive, it kept us busy for several hours. Miss T just LOVED it so much and so did I. Even D was inspired by Dick Bruna's artwork and style of art and has been drawing Miffy style pictures since our visit.

The museum has several different 'rooms' and it is very much play based and hands-on for the kids. There are various pieces of information written on the walls about Dick Bruna and some of his early artwork in display cabinets dotted around the museum.

The Miffy Museum is located across the road from the Central Museum where you must first go to purchase the tickets. The shop is also located there and that is a treasure trove in itself with Miffy items galore.

After we'd finished at the Miffy Museum we checked into our accomodation. A luxury apartment right on the edge of the canal. It was a converted cellar and it was a very special place to stay. Being the only one of it's kind on that stretch of canal, it did feel a little strange to be staying there. As much as I like doing things differently, there is something that feels so much safer and more comfortable about staying in the main part of a hotel rather than somewhere like this. Still it was only for one night.

We headed off for a meal at Sirtaki greek restaurant just around the corner. Well this was a great find as it had a bustling lively atmosphere and the food was fantastic. The portions were really generous and as we had skipped lunch, it was a very welcome meal starting with ouzo which set the room spinning for me!

The boys chose the feta in filo warm starter and I had stuffed vine leaves in a lemony sauce. Our main course was massive and included the salad bar.

We ended with the Grand Dessert to share between us - a massive platter of different types of cake, ice-cream and fruit. Delicious!

Back to our apartment for a sleep before our last day in Utrecht on Friday.

Autumn in Amsterdam - Day 4

Written on Thursday 27th October 2016

So Wednesday was day 4 and on our first tram ride earlier in the week one of the locals had recommended visiting Museum Van Loon so we headed there in the morning. 

We generally enjoy doing things slightly differently, places off the beaten track, and as this wasn't one of the big museums here we thought we'd enjoy it. 

To be honest we may as well have given it a miss. Despite what we had been told, it wasn't suitable for kids and certainly not an ASD kid who can't help wanting to leap about the place - not a good idea with all that antique furniture, fragile vases and ornaments on display.

In fact the best bit was seeing the gorgeous cat in the garden. It's fluffy tail reminded us of our dear Bella cat. 

All was not lost as we were vaguely in the right part of town to visit The Pancake Bakery. This place is renowned for its pancakes and how busy they are bears testimony to this. 

Miss T chose a kids princess pancake which came complete with fairy wings much to her delight. 

I would have loved to have visited the Anne Frank house but we had left it too late to book online timed tickets and the kids were feeling too tired to wait for the late afternoon queuing so we headed back to Fashionhotel for a swim and another dinner at the downstairs bar there. 

We opted for our usual favourites and although service was once again very slow (you need to allow 2-3 hours for a meal here) we did get back to our room in time to watch the final of GBBO.