Follow me here:
I went to …….
…… thanks to my 2014 sponsor
15% discount code:
Tags#365 #alphabetphoto #Country Kids #MagicMoments #Project365 baking blog birthday book book review Brewster cat children Christmas competition CountryKids days out DVD educational Egmont family food food review fun game gardening giveaway imagination Kitten learning linky memories My monkey nature Orchard Toys Orion Books outdoors reading review RSPB Spain The Toadstool toy toy review Tractor Ted What's the Story?
Joining in with TheBoyAndMe and her linky 365 Project A Photo A Day, Every Day, For A Year! Project 365 – Week 38 Days 257-263.
Sunday 14th September – Day 257
I had a lovely girls day out with Iona from Redpeffer while Monkey and Daddy P went to the Bedfordshire Steam Fair. We all had a great day and Monkey was full of beans when he got home. We spent some time sorting out his soft toys – apparently even a nearly 5-year-old Monkey can’t have enough of them!
Monday 15th September – Day 258
Monkey had a good day at school but is still really tired by the time he gets home from school. I made potato and bean soup for my lunch – scrummy. My day was going well until I tripped down the last three steps of our stairs and hit my head against the door frame. Cue blood and a rather large bump. Daddy P had to come to my rescue, luckily the blood looked worse than the actual cut and I was just left with a bad headache.
Tuesday 16th September – Day 259
Another good day at school for Monkey, he now seems to have accepted his new routine. I went to donate blood for the first time with a friend. I didn’t have any issues, but my friend was stopped as she was feeling really faint. Picked Monkey up from school and then a bit of a rush to get to swimming, but he did well and managed to swim a bit unaided too. This is the sight that greeted me when I went to check on him before going to bed. He was absolutely sparko. See what I mean about the soft toys. Just as well he has a single bed coming next week.
Wednesday 17th September – Day 260
The day went horribly wrong as I was getting breakfast ready. Felt terribly faint and had to call Daddy P to take over. I’m guessing it was a reaction to giving blood yesterday, but i felt dreadful all day. I was either asleep or unable to move due to feeling faint. All my plans for the day went out the window. Monkey was a little star. He went to school with Daddy P and was really happy when he picked him up too. When he got home he went into Doctor mode and looked after poorly Mummy.
Thursday 18th September – Day 261
Thankfully I was feeling much better than Wednesday, so I dropped Monkey off at school, before a mad day catching up on all of yesterdays chores. Ended up in Banbury and met Emma from Bubbablueandme for lunch. Nice to have a catch up, but so sad to see so many empty shops. Monkey was full of information about school when I picked him up!! He liked his school dinner and smiled when he had his school photo taken – I do hope he really did!
Friday 19th September – Day 262
I found Monkey in the Living Room with a book before school. He was looking for letters that he knew – love that boy. He had another good day at school and we actually played a few games in the afternoon before he crashed on the sofa. Took it easy at swimming tonight, jut a few lengths done and concentrated on trying to overcome fear of going under the water.
Saturday 20th September – Day 263
Monkey and I had a lazy morning, watching CBeebies in bed – treat! Then we popped over to see my youngest niece with her pressie, can’t believe she will be 16 tomorrow – eek. We then went in search of some Lego thanks to the Daily Mail, had lunch out before Monkey got to work when we got home.
I think it’s fairly obvious to you all, that we love steam and traction engines. We’re always on the lookout for a new Steam Rally to visit, exhibition to explore or a new Steam Train ride to take. We recently discovered a wonderful place that combines both steam and traction engines – Hollycombe – Steam in the Country.
Hollycombe hosts the largest collection of working steam machinery in the UK, including the largest traditional fairground. Based on the outskirts of Liphook in Hampshire, we decided to head down the motorway and find out more. Hollycombe were holding a Model Weekend earlier this month, and this sounded like something that Monkey and Daddy P would really enjoy.
The first thing you see once you’ve bought your ticket (buy once and return all year – just check the website for opening days/times) is the Steam Train station. Mummy, there’s a steam train! Cue one very excited Monkey. Then he spotted the traction engines – he was going to have a wonderful day.
What to do first? There are different sections at Hollycombe relating to different industries where steam was used in the past. Steam at the Fair, on the Farm, on the Water, on the Rails, on the Estate and on the Road. You receive a map of the Hollycombe site on arrival and there are information points for each area.
In the main entrance we had spotted a sign telling us that the Steam in the Fair attractions would start at 12.30, so we decided to explore other areas first. Yes, we started with the steam train ride.
The Steam Train does a loop around the site and stops half way to show you the view of the countryside. It was rather cloudy/misty on our ride so we didn’t get to see much. But on a clear day I would imagine you can see for miles. Monkey loved the ride, especially as we were sat in the first carriage – toot! toot!
We decided to visit the Waterwheel and Beam Engine and the Steam Farm. Neither of these attractions were running on our visit, but it was still interesting to see everything. Hollycombe is run by volunteers, so I’m not sure that everything around the site is running all the time. This actually makes multiple visits worth while, as every trip would be a little different.
It was lovely to walk in the wooded area along by the farm machinery and we soon discovered the miniature railway. Another train ride for Monkey.
We decided we were hungry and went in search of a somewhere for a picnic in the Woodland Gardens. I’d also spotted picnic tables by the cafe (they sell a selection of sandwiches and hot meals, along with drinks and ice creams) and we later found some in the Fairground area too.
The Woodland Gardens were lovely, quiet and we found an ideal spot to have our lunch. It was really tranquil and a lovely area for Monkey to run around.
But lunch was over quickly as there was so much more to discover. We entered the Fairground area. There are a number of rides, Monkey’s not a great one for that sort of thing, so we watched, rather than participated. But he did discover a couple of model railways, and even got to have a try at moving one of the trains.
Liphook Model Makers club was there for the Model Weekend and a lovely gentleman showed Monkey his various models and let him work them. Monkey was very careful and listened intently to the man tell us all about the various machines. Lovely to watch.
We’d noticed as we parked up at Hollycombe that there were a number of miniature Traction Engines set up by the entrance to the museum and Monkey was keen to have a look at them all. The owners were great with him and one gentleman patiently explained how everything worked. Monkey was just in awe. I have an engineer in the making I think.
There were so beautiful engines on display and we heard that they were all going to be heading to the Fairground later in the day. I made a mental note to keep an eye on the time.
We’d seen a notice about another area of the museum where we could find some more models so we set off again.
There really was so much to keep us all amused at Hollycombe – it was fascinating.
It was wonderful to watch all the miniature engines in one place. Monkey was totally mesmerised.
As we followed the small engines out of the fairground we noticed a Traction Engine with a trailer by the train station.
Can we go on that Mummy??? Yes, I think we should. This was a first for all of us and it was great and not as bumpy as I thought it would be either. A real experience to end our day at Hollycombe.
When Monkey is a bit older I think we’ll try one of the Fairground at Night evenings that Hollycombe hold, I bet the atmosphere is fantastic.
We had a really enjoyable day and we will be back again in the future I’m sure.
disclaimer: we were provided with free entry in exchange for an honest review
I’ve mentioned a few times that Monkey loves Dinosaurs. We watch dinosaurs on CBeebies, we’ve been to two Natural History Museums in search of dinosaur bones, we are always reading about them and playing with them! There was only one area of play missing – a jigsaw puzzle. Well that has now been sorted too – let me introduce you to the new Talkabout Floor Puzzle from Orchard Toys – Big Dinosaurs.
Monkey loves jigsaw puzzles and can easily cope with a 35 piece puzzle. The launch of the Big Dinosaurs puzzle was perfectly timed for him to move up to the next level – could he cope with a 50 piece puzzle? No better way to find out than by trying one with a favourite subject.
As with other Talkabout Puzzles we’ve featured previously, the Big Dinosaurs box provides useful information. In this instance; there are facts about each dinosaur illustrated along with a time line of when they each lived on earth.
The jigsaw pieces are made of thick board, so they will last. The pieces are large enough for little hands to be able to place them in the puzzle with ease.
The graphics are as you would expect from Orchard Toys; bright, engaging and fun.
Monkey coped well with making this puzzle up. He still prefers to make sections up and then put them together, rather than completing the edges first. This frustrates the puzzler in me, but it works for him!
He knows all the dinosaur names and his pronunciation is better than mine in most instances!
It wasn’t long before he went on a dinosaur hunt, found his toy dinosaurs and brought them back to see the Big Dinosaurs puzzle. Look Mummy, there is a Diplodocus.
We talked about what the dinosaurs would eat, who would like to go for a swim and who were hatching out of the eggs. I know this puzzle is going to be well-played with over the months to come. I’m sure any dinosaur fan would love it too.
Priced at £9.75 I think this is a great addition to the range and gets a big thumbs up from my little puzzler.
disclaimer: we were sent this item in exchange for an honest review.
Monkey and I are both fascinated by Turtles. I was lucky enough to visit a Turtle Sanctuary in Sri Lanka many years ago and see the work being done there to secure the future of sea turtles. Seeing Turtles at Sea Life Centres is always a highlight of any visit with Monkey. When we were asked to review a newly launched app recently, I knew it would be an instant hit. We’ve been having fun with Dr. Panda’s & Toto’s Treehouse. We’ve been using the app on my iPhone, but there are also versions available on Android and Google play.
Dr. Panda’s & Toto’s Treehouse introduces us to a baby turtle called Toto who lives in a treehouse – I found that a little strange, but it didn’t put Monkey off at all. One thing to note – there are no play instructions. But saying that, it’s fairly easy to navigate around the screens. There is no language involved which makes it a globally playable app.
Meet Toto the Turtle! Toto has just hatched and now he needs a friend to play with and take of him! Will you help him? Toto lives in a treehouse all by himself and he needs someone to make him food, wash him and of course play with him! Will you help him and be his friend? Toto may be small, but he loves to play! Blow bubbles, play jump rope or with a tire swing, or even dance to music! There’s a nice kitchen where you can make sandwiches or even big ice cream cones! All that playing might make Toto tired, though, so make sure he gets plenty of sleep.
Monkey has loved having fun with Toto – making him sandwiches to eat, washing him and putting him to bed. There are four areas of play – his bedroom, waterfall, playground and living area of the treehouse. You navigate between screens by tapping the little treehouse symbol which appears at the top of each screen.
Toto shows you what he wants in thought bubbles. You can put him to bed and drag his starfish toy into bed with him and then rock him to sleep in his cot. Shut his curtains or play him music and watch him dance. Having no instructions has meant Monkey has discovered lots of the functionality of this app by trial and error. But that’s been half the fun of the Dr Panda’s & Toto’s Treehouse app.
Each time Toto has a thought it gives you an icon – for example – cake, meaning he is hungry. Change locations and it’s time for lunch. Monkey did find some area confusing and neither of us could work out how to make the water bottle give Toto a drink of water.
Monkey’s favourite part of the Dr Panda’s & Toto’s Treehouse app has been making sandwiches for Toto. Picking items of food from a washing line to make up delicious combinations.
You can find out more about Dr Panda’s & Toto’s Treehouse on Facebook.
A positive for parents – no in app purchases are required, no third-party ads and there is no time limit to play. By going into settings I was able to turn off the promotion ad for other apps as well as mute the background music (the music can be a bit annoying!).
It’s a great game to play whether play is for a couple of minutes or for longer periods. Something else that really attracted me to this particular app is that the makers, Tribeplay are helping to raise awareness of the plight of sea turtles.
TribePlay are working with the World Wildlife fund to support their ‘Adopt a Turtle’ scheme by purchasing turtle adoptions for Toto fans. The support helps fund their essential work to halt the drowning of marine turtles entangled in fishing lines and nets.
We received a wonderful Turtle soft toy for Monkey and an adoption pack. We are both rather excited about this. You can find out more about this here.
The Dr Panda’s & Toto’s Treehouse costs £1.99 and has been available to download since 14th August. On iTunes it suggests an age range for the app of 6-8 years. This has surprised me to be frank. Monkey is nearly 5 years old and can play this game easily. I’m not sure the app will hold his attention by the age of 8. For me I would say 4-6 is a more relevant age group.
Target live date: August 14, 2014 Base Price – $2.99/£1.99
disclaimer: we were given free access to this app along with a Sea Turtle adoption package in exchange for an honest review
I’ve always been a big fan of IKEA; it used to be quite an event driving up the M6, trying to avoid traffic jams to get to the store. I was over the moon when a store was opened closer to home. I love browsing round the market hall whenever I visit, I never come home empty-handed. IKEA has been a part of my life for so long. My IKEA furniture saw me through a divorce and a second marriage. Now Monkey has his own IKEA Trofast system for his toys. Then there’s Dave the Dragon who moved in with us last Christmas. He was a bit of a celebrity at Warwick Castle last weekend.
I’ve always been fascinated by hypnosis and delving into the past. I’m not sure how I’d feel about looking into the future though. It’s probably best that we didn’t know 5 years ago, how much of the house Monkey would take over!!
IKEA decided to celebrate the launch of their latest catalogue in a rather unusual way – the IKEA Time Travel Experiment. They asked world-renowned hypnotist, Justin Trance to hypnotize a young couple into believing they are in their future. Seeing how life would be whilst looking at IKEA furniture in different room settings. A novel idea.
The video went viral with over a million people watching the Ikea Time Travel Experiment in the last month!
The Time Travel Experiment is our way to start a conversation about the everyday moments that more often than people think, happens in the bedroom and bathroom, which is why those rooms are this year’s focus for IKEA.
The first video attracted so much attention that a new video has just been released. What do you think?
Do you think you’d believe that it was your child’s birthday? I love the teenage arguments about a trip to India. Interesting experiment isn’t it.
disclaimer: sponsored post
Earlier in the summer I was introduced to the clothing brand Joe Browns and received a lovely summer jacket to review. I was thrilled when the team asked me to look at their new Autumn/Winter range and the Utterly Unique Shangri La Tunic really stood out for me. I love tunic tops and liked the colour mix on this particular top. I ordered the tunic in a size 8.
I was impressed with the packaging from Joe Browns with the Utterly Unique Shangri La Tunic. The top arrived just in time for a get together with my NCT group to celebrate our kids starting school.
I love the detail on this tunic top, the different colours and shaping.
It fits me really well and I felt really confident wearing it.
I have found that the hemline rides up a bit and needs a really good press. But the Utterly Unique Shangri La Tunic is very comfortable to wear and looks great with jeans and leggings. I’ve worn it a number of times since it arrived and know it’s going to be a firm favourite over the months ahead.
The tunic top is made of 100% cotton and looks as good as new after a few 30 degree washes. Priced at £29.95 I’m really pleased with the latest addition to my wardrobe.
Joe Browns also asked me what other items from their range I’d put together with my new Utterly Unique Shangri La Tunic and this is what I’ve come up with.
What do you think? I’ve matched the Utterly Unique Shangri La Tunic with Secret Support Leggings, Quirky 3 Button Boots (how lush are they!!), and the wonderful Regal Coat. I really love the hemline on this coat. I’ve finished off my look with a Beautiful Boucle Bag and never one to be without a bracelet for long – the Funky Charm Bracelet Set.
What would you pick to go with my new Utterly Unique Shangri La Tunic top from the Joe Browns website?
disclaimer: I was sent this item in exchange for an honest review
You may remember that a few months ago we reviewed a two different Chuggington StackTrack sets. They’ve been a big hit with Monkey and we were thrilled when TOMY asked us to review the latest addition to the range – Brewster’s Big Build Adventure Set.
I knew Brewster’s Big Build Adventure Set was going to be a big hit before we’d even opened the box. Mummy!!! There’s a crane!
The set comprises 20 components including track, a crane, elevator, bridge and tunnel and comes with 2 engines – Cormac Conrad and Chuggineer Brewster. The instruction leaflet shows you how to put the Brewster’s Big Build Adventure Set together, and there are 4 different suggested track layout.
Monkey couldn’t wait to get started.
One thing to note with the crane – once it’s put together I’ve not found a way to take it apart. Monkey is quite happy for it to be a permanent play feature, but if space is an issue, it’s worth considering.
The crane pieces click together easily and then it was on to making our first track layout. As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, the Chuggington StackTrack is made of really robust, chunky plastic and is easy for a 4 year Monkey to assemble.
Monkey loved the raised elements of Brewster’s Big Build Adventure Set and was eager to see how the elevator worked. At this point I will admit that we did start with the trains going down the elevator – wondering why it didn’t work that well. Mummy error – the trains go up the elevator and then it works brilliantly. You can have more than one train being pulled up the elevator at one time – another element Monkey loved.
There is a handle to crank the elevator and the engines clip into place using their couplers.
The risers that the Brewster’s Big Build Adventure Set uses click into each other and are easy for children to put together themselves. They are sturdy too, no risk of the train set collapsing and causing frustrations.
The crane has a ‘magnet’ that is raised and lowered with a lever which also raises or lowers a section of track. The ‘magnet’ connects to the track or bridge and the crane arm swivels 360 degrees.
Use the Magnet to fix the bridge and save the day!
Monkey has had so much fun with this set. There are lots of elements to keep him amused and he loves the fact that he can change the track to form different layouts. The Brewster’s Big Build Adventure Set has been in constant use for the last month – it really is well-loved here.
Aimed at children aged 3 years and over, this set sells for £39.99 and I think it represents great value for money. The Brewster’s Big Build Adventure Set is a stand alone set but you can also link it up to other Chuggington StackTrack sets for more fun.
We also received Chuggineer Tyne – a great little Chugger who specialises in demolition – a big hit with Monkey.
There are a range of Trains for the Chugginton StackTrack, they can be linked together and retail from £4.99.
We have been so impressed with the Chuggington StackTrack range and the Brewster’s Big Build Adventure Set is a great addition to our collection.
disclaimer: we were sent the items mentioned in exchange for an honest review.
I have a really wonderful giveaway for you today. If you’ve been following the blog over the last week you will know that we had a wonderful day at Warwick Castle on Saturday watching the new Mike the Knight film Journey to Dragon Mountain.
Huzzah! To celebrate the launch of new DVD release, Mike the Knight™: Journey to Dragon Mountain (which was released on 15th September) which sees Mike take on his biggest adventure to date, I’ve been offered a copy of the DVD and an annual family pass to Warwick Castle to give away to one lucky winner! This prize is worth over £140.00.
During September, Mike the Knight will be appearing at Warwick Castle where young knights in training will have an opportunity to take part in a range of knightly activities and discover the wonders of wizardry.
For more information on Mike the Knight visit www.miketheknight.com.
To be in with a chance of winning this great prize, please complete the Gleam form below – good luck!
Terms and conditions
(Please note that all entries will be checked against comments for validation).
The prize of a Warwick Castle annual family pass is for two adults and two children (Aged 4-11) for 12 months daytime Castle entry. Excludes entry to The Castle Dungeon and Merlin The Dragon Tower. The Warwick Castle annual family pass prize is not exchangeable. The Warwick Castle annual family pass prize is not valid in conjunction with any offer, discount, concession, inclusive travel offer.
Prize must be claimed by the 30/12/2014.
Only the first step of this form is mandatory, all other steps are optional. Only one entry per person is allowed.
This giveaway is for UK residents only.
Once a winner is randomly picked, I will check if the winner has done what was requested and I will contact them, if they do not reply within one week, the prize will be allocated to another person.
The giveaway will close on 24th September 2014 at midnight.
I can’t quite believe it but we’ve reached the last of 6 Eco Friendly Toy Tests for Bigjigs Toys. Let me introduce you to the Green Toys Seaplane with Green Wings.
The Green Toys Seaplane is available with either green or yellow wings and is aimed at children aged 1 year and over. As with all the other Green Toys we’ve tested for Bigjigs Toys this year, this lovely seaplane is made from recycled plastic milk bottles, contains no nasties and is dishwasher safe.
I’ve been a fan of this Seaplane for some time and was thrilled when we were offered the chance to review it. Monkey has all sorts of vehicles, but an aeroplane that floats! That’s a while new idea for him. Although this toy is aimed at children over the age of 12 months, I honestly believe that children aged 3 years and over will get the most out of this item. Although it’s nice to know it will be a safe toy to have with younger siblings or visitors around.
The propellers rotate and the pontoons can be filled with water for added fun at bath time. Monkey loves aeroplanes and we’d been reading about seaplanes in one of his library books. He was very excited to test his Green Toys Seaplane out in the paddling pool earlier in the summer.
We talked about when you could use a seaplane and I told him stories about seeing them in Dubai and the Maldives. Monkey decided that his seaplane would fly to Spain and land in the lakes near Granny’s house. All aboard.
As will all the other Green Toys we’ve looked at, there are lovely details. The cockpit it just big enough to fit a Lego minifigure as a pilot and you can see all the gauges in front of him. More discussions about what the gauges would tell our pilot.
The Green Toys Seaplane is great fun, whether you use it in the pool, bath or like Monkey – zooming around the living room looking for somewhere to land.
The Green Toys Seaplane is lightweight, so easy for young children to manipulate through the sky but robust enough to survive any number of crash landings. It’s a lovely toy, which has given this 4 year old many hours of imaginative play time since it landed here.
Priced at £14.99 I think it would make a great present for any young aviator and certainly something a little different with Christmas around the corner.
disclaimer: we were sent this item in exchange for an honest review.