> The Beesley Buzz: May 2017

AniMalcolm by David Baddiel: Our review of this laugh out loud funny book out now in paperback!

The hilariously funny children's book, AniMalcolm, by the equally hilarious David Baddiel is out now in paperback. Aimed at children aged 8-11, eleven year old D was sent a copy to read and review.

Here's our Q&A style review with D aged 11:

Can you give me an overview of this book? What is AniMalcolm all about?
A boy called Malcolm hates animals, so when he gets a chinchilla for his birthday, he is not very happy about it.

He goes on a school trip to the farm and is told that a wise goat makes your wishes come true. Malcolm asks to like animals and the goat gave him what he wanted. But not in the way Malcolm pictured it...

Tell me a bit about the main characters?
Malcolm has a little brother called Bert, an older sister called Libby, his mum, Jackie, and a dad called Stuart.

Who is your favourite character?
I really like Zsa Zsa the farm cat because I think that David Baddiel really described the way cats act very well. And Zsa Zsa is a lazy show-off, which really is what a cat is like. I also really like Ludwig the pig because he is really funny and 'wise'.

Bert is also really funny because he wants to eat everything which is, to be honest, just like me.

What is the best thing that happens in the story?
I really like the re-enactment of the 'monkey moment'. When Malcolm was little, he was blasted at with monkey poo at the zoo. So when this is about to happen again with Bert, he does his best to protect him.

Which of the animals did you like best?
Like I said before, Zsa Zsa is a typical cat. But the goats are silly because they pretend the magical goat, K-pax, doesn't talk even though k-pax was talking at the time.

If you could be any animal which would you be?
I think that being a horse would be quite cool because they are strong, majestic, and fast.

But being a wolf would be amazing because they are fast, vicious, and overall epic creatures so I would definitely go for the wolf.

Did you find it funny?
Yes - all the way through it was hilarious! I could not put it down. I stayed up until nearly 11:00 p.m one night until I read the ending. (Mum: hhmmmn!!! - I had no idea he had stayed up so late reading!!!)

What age do you think this book is most suitable for (the publishers suggest aged 8-11, do you agree)?
I would recommend 8-13. It really would appeal to both boys and girls as it is just so funny.

Would you recommend this book to others?
Definitely! It was such an amazing book and I would definitely recommend it to animal lovers and even non-animal lovers.

The moral of this story is to be careful what you wish for and to be kind to everything as they have feelings too.

Thanks for such a great review, D, so pleased you enjoyed the book. 

In case you're still not convinced just what a fab book this is... here's the trailer to find out more! 

And you can buy your own copy of AniMalcolm here: (affliliate link*)

Disclosure: We were sent a copy of Animalcolm for the purpose of review. A small fee will also be paid for our time. This post contains an Affiliate link* to Amazon which means that at no cost to you, I may receive a small payment if you buy something from a site I link to. I only recommend and link to products, services and companies that I am happy to promote.

A #Boomajump bank holiday weekend with Wicked Vision Toys

Wicked Vision Toys kindly sent us this Sonic Booma boomerang to try out. J was especially pleased as he had been given  a similarly shaped boomerang for his birthday when he was younger but it flew away and didn't come back - which he was distraught about at the time.

This one seemed particularly unique because of the noise it makes as it whizzes through the air. A kind of whistling noise. We were also pleased to find that when thrown correctly - it did come back!

It does travel a fair distance so we headed to a local playing field to try it out as our back garden isn't big enough.

There are full instructions on the back, but in summary, it needs to be thrown slightly off vertical rather than a horizontal throw that you would do with a traditional frisbee.

This is a great little toy - especially for kids that get to the age my boys have reached - that age that's generally hard to buy gifts for.

We'll need to practice a bit more with it to get a decent catching jump or #boomajump, but we had great fun playing with it at the park.

Wicked Vision toys actually have a great selection of unique toys. I'd say they would mainly appeal to older kids and even adults.

Their toys are made right here in the UK. You can find out more about Wicked Vision on their social media channels:

Instagram: @Wicked_Vision 
Twitter: @WickedVision
Facebook: WickedVisionToys

We were sent the Sonic Booma boomerang for the purpose of review. All opinions are our own honest opinions. 


Behind every young child who believes in himself is a parent who believed first: #TearsIntoSmiles

Playing outdoors. We all know it's great for kids to get outside - get some fresh air and exercise - but the importance of outdoor play goes much deeper than that.

As parents and carers, we instinctively want to protect our children and keep them safe. Yet children need to be able to express themselves freely, to explore, to learn to take appropriate risks, to conquer some of their fears. And one of the best ways for them to learn these things is through outdoor play.

I remember listening to an incredibly inspirational speaker way back in my childcare days who described how within the home, mum and dad are in charge, at school the teachers make the rules but outdoors it's them.

The outdoor world gives children a sense of freedom that is unrivalled. 

This in turn helps them with learning independence, enhances creativity, they learn to take calculated risks and they navigate themselves over, through and around obstacles - whether they be trees and branches to climb in the woods, or play frames and slides at the park.

They will feel closer to nature and benefit from the movement and exercise they get from being outdoors.

Of course we still need to be there to keep them safe and encourage and reassure. Spending more time outdoors will inevitably mean the occasional cut, scratch or graze.

For those minor bumps and scratches understanding and sharing their hurt seems to help my children. Rather than saying 'don't be silly' or belittling the pain they are experiencing, reassuring them by saying that 'I know it hurts but it will get better' helps them feel hopeful that the pain will pass.

Reminding them of their achievements often brings a smile through those tears.

"wow - you managed to climb the big climbing frame yourself today - I'm so proud of you!"

Distraction can also help. I remember when my son was younger he would want to show granny every new scratch and cut. It soon became a way of distracting him when he had a tumble: "We can show that graze to granny next time we see her".

Characters on Elastoplast plasters have also proved to be a great distraction technique. Especially for a massive Star Wars fan like Miss T. We've written about just how much she loves Star Wars here and here, so having to make a decision about whether to choose a Chewbacca plaster or a Darth Vadar one quickly occupies her mind more than the reason she was crying in the first place.

Not only have these Star Wars themed Elastoplast plasters proved invaluable for outdoor play, but every week on a Friday something unavoidable has to happen in Miss T's life. She hates it. In fact, Fridays are the worst day of the week for her.

Each and every Friday she needs to have an injection of Methotrexate to keep her juvenile arthritis under control. It hurts. We do every thing we can to minimise the pain but because the injection is subcutaneous (under the skin) unlike a blood test for example, things like EMLA cream or cold spray don't help. We do use a cold compress beforehand. We try to distract her with books and games and jokes. But there's no getting away from the fact that it hurts.

The medication itself is also cytotoxic (cell-killing) so if it was to spill onto skin it would harm her skin cells so it's important to have a plaster at the ready to prevent any of the medication oozing out once the injection is done.

Having tried all sorts of distraction methods without too much success, we decided to try letting Miss T choose her plaster as a distraction technique last Friday and then using that plaster straight after her injection.

It worked. Her tears soon turned into smiles. Thank you Elastoplast. 

Elastoplast have made an amazing video showing children's tears being turned into smiles. We love it. See what you think of their #TearsIntoSmiles video:

This post is an entry for the BritMums #TearsintoSmiles Challenge, sponsored by Elastoplast.

We weren't quick enough to get sent the kit with plasters but, knowing what a big Star Wars fan Miss T is, we already had these Elastoplast Star Wars plasters in our first aid cupboard.

Title quote by: Matthew L. Jacobson

Dinosaurs may be extinct from the face of the planet, but they are alive and well in our imaginations (and at Mr. Mulligan's Dino Golf).

Having grown up in cosmopolitan and colourful Brighton, when I first moved to Kent I found it rather unremarkable in comparison. But in recent years, things have come a long way. Once upon a time it was near impossible to find a coffee shop on Tonbridge high street, the town now boasts too many to count.

The industrial estate used to be just that, industrial. But in recent months we've seen a new indoor trampolining centre, Jump in, arrive, as well as a new M&S food store, a revamped Halfords, and a brand new shiny Mcdonalds - much to the kids' delight.

And most recently we've seen the arrival of Dinosaurs! Yes dinosaurs. In the form of Mr. Mulligan's Dino Golf.

The kids have been nagging to go since they saw the site being built and it's been a delight to be able to try out the new 18 hole dinosaur themed adventure golf course.

We booked in for an evening session after school as it's open daily from 11am until 7pm on weekdays. Weekends tend to be busier and it opens from 9.30am. Do check in advance before your visit as opening times may vary depending on the season.

Our kids are aged 5, 11, and nearly 13 and all three thought this place was fabulous!

A lot of effort has gone into making this place look great with all the dinosaurs, planting and other features like the helicopter wreck and safari jeep as well as a water feature which has a raft on a pulley system to cross it.

We found ourselves laughing at each others effort, cheering each other on and celebrating when D managed to get a hole in one!

Miss T seemed to think that the more shots you took at the ball, the higher your score and the more chance of winning - we didn't correct her as she was having so much fun chasing the ball around and hitting it again and again. She was given a smaller size club than the rest of us which was perfect for her to use.

We each seemed to have a different favourite hole - I loved the water-jump one where you had to hit the ball over the water to the other side where the hole was.

Daddy's fave was the three tunnel hole as he somehow managed to get it into one of the tunnels on his first attempt and then finished the hole with just one more shot.

D couldn't believe his eyes when he got a hole in one through Triceratops' rib cage. Awesome!

The final hole, hole 18 is quite a challenge as you have to get the ball up a hill to the hole.

Our session took just over an hour but I'd imagine you'd need to allow longer during busy periods as you may need to wait between holes. The prices are reasonable in comparison with other similar attractions. There is a party room available for birthday parties and although there is no cafe at the actual Dino golf venue, Tonbridge Golf Centre just next door does have a cafe (and of course a certain burger chain with golden arches can also be found very nearby too).

We were very impressed with Mr. Mulligan's Dino Golf and I have a feeling that we will be back again very soon.

You can find out more about Mr. Mulligan's themed golf centres here and more specifically about Dino Golf in Tonbridge here.  Keep an eye out for their latest news including their special LAUNCH PARTY on 29th May 2017 on their facebook page.

Disclosure: We received a complimentary family ticket to Dino Golf for the purposes of review. All opinions are our own honest opinions. 

Title quote attributed to Steve Miller: "Dinosaurs may be extinct from the face of the planet, but they are alive and well in our imaginations" 


Chocolate and Cashew Cream Frozen bites

Early last year I realised I needed to make a change to my eating habits. I've always had a "sweet tooth" and gradually my weight was going up as I kept having "just one more treat" each day. 

I managed to cut out most refined sugar and instead went in search of 'clean eating' recipes that would satisfy my sweet tooth. 

Because I wasn't restricting what I was eating, I was just eating differently, I managed to stick with it for the remainder of the year. I was eating more than ever and enjoying my food more than ever - loads of fresh veg, salads, cooked veg and yummy refined-sugar-free treats and snacks. I lost heaps of weight - around a stone - without even trying to lose weight.

All went pear shaped this year when my arthritis flared up and left me stuck indoors for most of January and February. Gradually the weight started to creep up again. Being in so much pain and unable to do pretty much anything left me feeling low.

I turned to sugary foods for comfort and we relied on takeaways and convenience food a lot more as I found myself unable to cook at times due to the back pain. Before I knew it all of the weight I'd lost crept back on.

Now I find myself in a place of knowing that I can do it again because I did it before. I can cut out the sugary foods. So I'm starting to make some clean-eating sweet treats again. I can turn to these in times of craving.

Inspired by the Kamalive cashew creme egg I had at Easter I decided to make a sweet treat that contained homemade chocolate, cashew creme and a little bit of turmeric. I like them frozen as that helps the cashew cream set nicely and gives them a nicer texture than just chilled.

This recipe made 12 ice-cube size Chocolate and Cashew Cream bites as well as around 4 slightly bigger ones (not pictured) which I made in silicone cupcake cases for a different shape.

The white 'bloom' on the chocolate is actually frost. The chocolate actually turned out beautifully shiny.

Ingredients for chocolate:

125g cacao butter
63g cacao powder (I used Aduna cacao powder).
45g maple syrup
pinch of ndali vanilla powder

Ingredients for cashew cream:
150g raw cashew nuts (mine were from Nutspick)
100ml Almond milk
pinch of himalayan pink salt
Pinch of baobab powder (optional). I used Aduna Baobab powder.
Pinch turmeric (I used Steenbergs)

1. You need to be a little bit organised to soak the cashew first for 3-4 hours before you begin. Soak them in water that generously covers them with a pinch of himalayan salt.
2. When you are ready to make these, begin by making the chocolate. Melt the cacao butter either in a bain marie or gently in a microwave in short bursts - checking and stirring regularly.
3. Stir in the cacao powder, vanilla powder and maple syrup into the melted cacao butter.
4. Pour a small amount of the chocolate into each of your ice cube trays or silicone cupcake cases. You should have around half the chocolate still left.
5. Pop into the freezer whilst you prepare the cashew cream.
6. To make the cashew cream, thoroughly rinse the soaked cashews. Place them in a blender with the almond milk. Blend, blend and keep blending until it is really smooth. Add the baobab powder if using and blend again.
7. Take a small amount of the cashew cream and place in a small bowl, add a pinch or two of tumeric and mix. So you should now have one bowl of plain cashew cream and one small bowl of tumeric cashew cream.
8. By now your first layer of chocolate should have started to set in the freezer. Bring it out of the freezer and spoon a dollop of cashew cream on top. Then add a smaller dollop of the tumeric cashew cream to the centre of that.
9. Place in the freezer for just a few moments.
10. Using the remaining chocolate (you may need to gently re-heat in a bain marie or microwave if it has begun to set hard) pour over a little chocolate to cover the cashew cream in each of the ice-cubes or silicone moulds.
10. Pop back into the freezer to set.

I prefer to eat these straight from the freezer but if you want them slightly softer leave at room temperature for a few minutes before eating.


The EASIEST way to 5 a day! We're soooo excited about the launch of Nim's Kids fruit and veg crisps

We fell in love with Nim's Fruit Crisps last year when we were sent some of their Fruit crisps to try out. They soon relaunched with a great new look and new packaging and a range of vegetable crisps too.

They recently launched a range especially for kids; Nim's Kids. The range consists of 4 tasty crispy varieties:
Amazing Apple
Cool Courgette
Crunchy Carrot
Perfect Pear

Unlike so many other 'healthy' snacks that contain hidden ingredients that leave you having to carefully read the pack looking for any nasties, what made me so pleased to have discovered Nim's was that their packs literally contain just the fruit and veg the crisps are made with. No oil, no chemicals, no preservatives, no added salt, no added sugar. Just pure fruit and veg.

They thinly slice and air dry the fruit and veg to get them tasting crispy and delicious without compromising on goodness.

We soon discovered that our kids preferred to come home and munch on a pack of Nim's rather than reaching for biscuits or cereals bars as their after-school snack. Soon they were asking to take Nim's to school in their lunchboxes and for their breaktime snack.

Last year, the trouble was that I would have to split a pack of Nim's as around half the pack would make the perfect portion size to add to D's lunchbox. He has a fabulous Yumbox so at least he could pop them into one of the compartments to keep them tasting fresh. But then I'd have to clip the other half closed until after-school.

Nim's Kids range has been a solution to our problem.

Designed with kid's in mind, these packs are the perfect portion size for children to munch on and little hands to hold. The colourful packs appeal to children and parent's can remain confident that there are no nasties inside - just delicious tasty pure air-dried fruit and veg. Each pack is certified as one of your 5 a day. Making them the easiest way we have found of getting our kids to eat their fruit and veg.

My kids are generally fairly good with eating veg but if there is one vegetable that they all detest, it's courgette. And yet, Nim's Kids Cool Courgette veg crisps made eating courgette a doddle!

Nim's sent me their Nim's Kids range to try out as we would consider ourselves to be quite possibly Nim's biggest fans! As always our opinions are our own honest opinions.

Cosiness, Comforters and Characters...Our top tips for Bedtime as part of our #BathBookBed routine

We hear a lot about how important it is for children to feel secure and have routines. This is especially true for bedtime. Parenting expert Jo Frost has teamed up with Booktrust for their #BathBookBed campaign where you can find some top tips to help with that bedtime routine. They've even created a fun downloadable book featuring Peppa Pig characters to highlight the importance of that Bath, Book, Bed routine.

We wanted to share some of our own tips for how we've learnt the hard way over the years how to help our children with their bedtime routine making it tear-free all round. It hasn't always been easy as it took a long time to establish a routine with our eldest. Miss T has benefited from the things we tried and tested with the older two and she has had the best bedtime routine of all three of them so we know that routine, combined with an early love of books, really does work.

We've come up with 3 extra tips that have helped us along the way. The important role of #BathBookBed fits in well with our extra 3 tips as you will see. With books being such an important part of bedtime in our family, we thought that we'd make a scrapbook of our own to tell the story....

Our top three tips can be summarised with 3 C's helping our kids to catch their zzzz's.


Cosiness - As adults we all think of a nice bubbly bath as a time to relax. I think it's the same for young children. As long as they enjoy bathtime, a warming bath is a lovely way to wind down and relax at the end of the day.

The reality of our busy lives means that bathtime is not possible each and everyday so we like to think of 'cosiness' instead - other ways to help relax at bedtime. So Miss T has soft lighting in her bedroom and a big comfy chair to sit on and read books. We've noticed that reading books in a sleepy quiet tone of voice with a few yawns thrown in really helps with winding down and feeling sleepy and ready for bed. A trick we learnt from the book 'The Rabbit who wants to fall asleep'.

We've found a baby sleeping bag really useful in helping her feel cosy at bedtime (did you know they do sizes up to age 10!!!). Checking the temperature of her room with a room thermometer to make sure she doesn't get too hot or too cold at night also helps.

Comforters - Miss T has had two cuddly toys from a very young age. We noticed early on when she was just a few months old that she liked to have a cuddly toy near her face at bedtime. So we bought her safedreams Hoppy and Patch cuddly toys which are made from breatheable materials.

She cuddles them whilst reading bedtime stories so they have well and truly become part of the bedtime routine.

They've become her comforters through the night. She also sucks her thumb which I know isn't a great habit but it is only at bedtime (mainly) and it does help her fall asleep.

Characters - My children have all loved books from a very early age. One of the things that has helped them look forward to bedtime is recognising their favourite book characters on bedtime related items like Pyjamas, cuddly toys and bedding. For example, Miss T adores reading Peppa Pig books as part of her bedtime routine, and she looks forward to bedtime knowing she'll get to wear her Peppa Pig nightie.

A couple of her book collections, like her Peppa Pig set of books and some of her Miffy books, came with a little bag which makes them perfect for taking with you. So when she had her 6 night hospital stay in unfamiliar surroundings a couple of weeks ago, she was able to keep part of her bedtime routine more constant by having her sets of books with her to read at bedtime.

One last point I really think is important to remember - even with a routine, we sometimes occasionally have special reasons for the routine to go out the window - and that is ok. Perhaps a relative's birthday or an outing that's taken us through to the evening, or a train delay coming home from one of Miss T's hospital appointments in London. Sometimes nice things, sometimes unavoidable things, but nonetheless a change to the routine. It's easy to get stressed about it, but staying calm is going to help more than stressing out. There may not be time for the bath or a book on those occasions, but just staying as calm as possible will help children feel calmer and more settled too. Then just pick up the routine again the next day.

So that is our #BathBookBed routine with our own little twists to help our children get to bed and get to sleep.

We all love to read - Here we are with a few of our favourite books!

Find out more about Booktrusts #BathBookBed initiative here.

Update: After writing up this blogpost yesterday, today we have received a lovely #BathBookBed bundle from Booktrust which includes some of their recommended bedtime reading books. Their Best Bedtime Books list can be found here. And having read these wonderful books that we were sent, we wholeheartedly agree that they are great books to use as part of the #BathBookBed routine. Thank you Booktrust for such a lovely bundle! 

This is our entry into the #BathBookBed blogger challenge.