Category Archives: review

Weekend box review

As a creative family we were very excited to be asked to review the weekend box. I’ll hand you over to our brilliant reviewing team.

Hi, my name is Emily. I am writing this review. The packaging is interesting and you also get it sent in the post so it is the right size to go through the letter box. The weekend box has lots of interesting things including facepaint and stamps you can put on your face. I did my own facepaint and I was a tiger. I followed the instructions in the kit. I used sponge to put the yellow paint and a brush to paint whiskers with black face paint. It was fun.
When you finish the box you get to write on the certificate and colour it in. I would recommend it to boys and girls from age 6 to 14.

Hello my name is Jasmin, and today I will be doing a review of the weekend box Snazaroo. The kit includes a mini face paint pack and a birthday paint stamp kit. There are five different colours and two stamps, a small sponge and a brush. I used the stamp to put a yellow emoji on my cheek.
The packaging is designed to fit through the letterbox and is very bright and colourful.
I liked the weekend box and would recommend it to 3 to 10 year olds.

Disclaimer:
We were sent this box to review in return for and honest blog.

Review Soundpeats D3 headphone

We have a review of Soundpeats D3 from our official tech reviewer Josh.

The packaging for the Soundpeats D3 has a stylish yet quite minimal design on the packaging. The packaging itself is nothing special but is good quality for the price. Inside the box is another smaller box containing the D3 and the accessories that come with it. I found the micro USB cable which comes pre-packaged in the box with the D3 to be too short and found it awkward to plug in as it is so short. Also in the box with the D3 was two other ear tips for the D3 which are for people who need slightly larger ear tips or slightly smaller ear tips as the D3 comes with a medium sized ear tip already on the D3. The included manual was very informative and included diagrams of how to use and operate the D3.

The D3 was very simple to pair to my phone as to pair it all you need to do is hold down the multimedia button for around 5 seconds and then you can pair the D3 to your device. After it is paired I tested the sound quality of the D3 and found that it has good but muddy bass and reasonable mids and highs. The call quality on the D3 was reasonably good as it sounded a little bit tinny but you could still clearly hear the person on the other end. The microphone built into the D3 sounds quite tinny but you can still clearly hear what I was saying from the receiving end of the call.

The multimedia button on the D3 was quite useful as with one tap you can pause or play whatever you are listening to or if you are in a call you can tap the button once to hang up. Tapping the button twice calls the person you have contacted most recently. I found this quite simple to use and I am quite surprised with the responsiveness of it. The battery life on the D3 after intensive use is only three hours, which is the same as Soundpeats claimed the talk time on the D3 were. This meant I had to charge it in the middle of the day after using it. It takes about 3 hours to charge with the micro USB cable included. This just meant that the time I spent using the D3 was slightly reduced as they needed constant charging. The short battery life of the D3 is consequence of it being very small, light and portable. This raised a concern that it could be lost very easily as the D3 is very small.

Overall the Soundpeats D3 are a reasonable quality Bluetooth headset for a fairly low price and as it is such a low price. I feel some corners have been cut quality wise in some areas but are overall good value.

Summer adventures at Oxford Castle

Though many of us enjoy the prospect of the Summer Holidays, a break in the routine, time together as a family with less pressure whether you stay at home or go away. Days out as a family are a great way to spend time together and learn something too.

As we are such a cultured family, we were thrilled to be offered the opportunity to visit Oxford Castle. It is only an hour from us and we’d not even heard of it before. It is run by the same company, continuum attractions, who run The Canterbury tales experience we visited back in April. http://lingotastic.co.uk/2017/knights-school-and-chaucer-the-canterbury-tales-experience/

We left the car at Thornhill park and ride. and headed into Oxford. The nearest stop to the Castle is Carfax tower.
The castle was a bit tricky to find on foot. We had to rely on Google maps to get there.

The castle has an amazing history, from the Norman keep, the site of the Empress’s escape, the catacombs where scholar Geoffrey of Monmouth taught and penned the king Arthur stories, to the Georgian Prison wing. It is the site of St Georges Chapel where many believe education in Oxford was born 900 years ago.

For hundreds of years, the site has held both famous and infamous residents, serving as a religious site, a home for royalty, a centre of justice and as the County Gaol.

As the Keep has such a long history, there are many people featured in it, and a handful of their stories are brought to life during the entertaining tour.

We arrived a bit early and had time to peruse the shop and cafe. Whilst sat in the cafe the girls did a bit of language spotting. There was a tour going on in Spanish, one in Italian, a group of Mandarin exchange students some French students, a Polish family, a Bulgarian family that we spotted. I was so proud they could identify all those languages.

We’ve visited a few castles in our time but the fact this one had been the site of a prison for 800 years and many executions had happened there made me a bit uneasy. My children are aged 8 and 10 and some parts of the tour made them uneasy, especially the story of the seven year old girl imprisoned for borrowing a perambulator. This tour is suited to older children and adults. The access, (as it is an ancient building) means you need to be steady on your feet to take part. I would not recommend the tour to those of a nervous disposition.

There was some colouring for children in the in exhibition room which the girls did whilst we perused the exhibition.

The highlight of our visit was Knight’s school. The blokes leading it were really knowledgeable and keen. My girls could not wait to get started on swordfighting. The enthusiasm was infectious. It was great to see them really engaging in this. As we chatted to the lads it made more sense. George and Robin are actually keen fencers themselves so running Knight’s school is just a continuation of what they do day by day anyway.

We spent five hours around the site, including climbing the Mound of the 11th century Motte and Bailey Castle.

On balance, the kids enjoyed the tour, the Knight’s school being the highlight for them.


Oxford Castle Unlocked is open daily from 10.00am to 5.30pm (last tour 4.20pm).

Standard admission prices:
Adult: £10.25, Concession: £9.25, Child: £7.75, Family (2 adults, 2 children): £35

Oxford Castle Unlocked is a 1000 year old castle which also served as a prison for over 800 years. The visitor attraction opened on 2 June 2006 and gives visitors the opportunity to learn about the real people who lived and died throughout the site’s turbulent past. Visitors are able to walk through the ancient buildings and experience the stories that connect the real people to these extraordinary events.

If your children would like to hear more about the King Arthur story, we really enjoyed this version.

Disclaimer:
Our family was given free entry to the Castle for the purpose of reviewing the attraction. These are our own opinions.

Natural help for depression

We were asked by Focus Supplements to review their product. I think mental health is SO important to talk about, so we jumped at the chance. Maik reviewed the product and wrote this review.

Depression is a disease of modern life, and the solopreneur lifestyle perhaps carries a higher than average risk of developing depression. According to statistics for mental health charity Mind, one in 10 people will develop depression at some point in their lives. Recently the situation has become bad enough for national press to take notice, with headlines such as “Antidepressant descriptions in England double in a Decade” in the Guardian in July 2016.

Without going into too much detail, I can say that as a family we have had quite a difficult year, both in terms of work and on a personal level. Never having been a fan of antidepressants, and coming from Germany where doctors are as likely to prescribe natural and herbal supplements as they are pharmaceutics, I was very pleased when we were approached by Focus Supplements to review their 5-HTP.

5-Hydroxytryptophan, to give it its full name, is produced from the seeds of an African plant known as Griffonia Simplicifolia. It works in the brain and central nervous system by increasing the production of the chemical serotonin, which is why it is used to treat diseases where serotonin is believed to play an important role including depression, insomnia, obesity, and many other conditions.

First impressions? Having received a tub of 180x 200mg capsules, I was immediately impressed at the potent dosage being offered. A lot of other 5-HTP, sold both online and in leading health food stores, is offered in 100 mg or even just 50 mg capsules. So my initial expectation was that this had to be a pricier supplement compared to the ones I had previously seen. Having purchased 5-HTP before, I was used to paying upwards of £15 for a pack of 60x 100mg tablets. But I was in for a surprise when browsing Focus Supplements’ (very nicely laid out) website: for the same price I could have three times as many capsules at twice the strength, in other words a full 6 months worth. Very impressive indeed, especially when first class delivery is also free. Hardly surprising then, that Focus Supplements went from its humble beginnings as a simple eBay store to selling internationally through they own website and Amazon within a few years.

So what about the effects of taking 5-HTP? I took these capsules daily together with St. John’s Wort, another natural antidepressant supplement, as many people have found that the two enhance each other’s effects. A word of warning though, as there is a small risk of a condition called serotonin syndrome which may result from combining the two, with symptoms including confusion and hallucination, so do be careful and seek medical advice when experiencing any adverse reactions! Thankfully, I did not experience any of these effects, but found a significant improvement to my quality of sleep, as well as my mood and general wellbeing.

Conclusion? This is a good quality, high strength supplement at a very, very reasonable price, which I would not hesitate to recommend if you are looking for a natural mood enhancer. We were sent the product free of charge in return for our review, but I can honestly say that I know where I will go when my six month supply runs out, and I suggest you do the same: focussupplements.co.uk

Mental health is just as important a physical health. It makes such a difference when people start to talk about it more openly to each other. My challenge for you this week is to start a converation with another about mental health, whatever the language!Let me know how you get on! Sarah x

Disclaimer:
We were given this product in exchange for a review. These are our own thoughts on the product.

New school shoes?

Back in Easter, we were asked to review a pair of wellies by Term Footwear. My eldest daughter loves them!

I was overjoyed to be contacted again a few weeks ago about reviewing a pair of school shoes. This time it was the turn of my youngest daughter.

We followed the link to the website and looked around. There were three designs available and eventually she choose a pair she liked in her size. The shoes arrived in the post quickly, only 2 days later.

As a mum, I was so happy they were so sturdy. She normally ruins shoes fairly quickly, what with running around, climbing trees, and playing football. These shoes are real leather, so are perfect in this heat, and they are easy to clean up and polish. Looking at the shoes, I’m sure she’ll grow out of them before she’ll manage to wear them out!

Her school is a 40 minute walk from home, so we get a lot of walking done, and I’ve heard no complaints at all about the shoes rubbing. We’ve only had them a week but we’re really putting them through their paces.

Anyway, enough from me, let’s hear what Emily thinks:

I like the design of the shoes. They are comfortable to wear at school.

So here she is heading to school in her shoes.

If you are looking for some sturdy shoes for your kids ready for September check out Term Footwear.

Disclaimer
We were offered these shoes in exchange for our own honest review. These are our own thoughts and opinions.

Use Bidvine to find a singing teacher

I was asked by Bidvine to have a look at their site, so here goes.

As one who sings regularly I realise I need to protect my voice. I’ve sung for a long time but had very limited professional training. I’ve been thinking about getting some singing lessons for a while, so this brought the perfect opportunity.

My first reaction was surprise at the range of services available on Bidvine,

They have:

Writing, translation and transcription

Business

Photography

Repair and technical support

Personal

Legal

I was gobsmacked by the range of services on offer: from Pokemon Go training to personal chefs, from bodyguard services to songwriting, from Cantonese translation to software development. Anyway, I was actually looking for singing lessons. I sing a lot, in classes, at home and professionally. I’m aware that I need to look after my voice, and I’ve been meaning to book some singing lessons for a very long time.

I went though to this page https://www.bidvine.com/singing-lessons
As I was looking for singing lessons, there was a form to fill out about my current musical skills, past training, styles of music I like to sing, etc. It seemed a really comprehensive list, so my teacher would be fully informed before the lesson and we could get going almost as soon as the first lesson started.

As soon as I had submitted my reply, there was an e mail in my inbox to acknowledge it all.

The process was really simple and straightforward I found it really easy to use.

Bidvine is perfect for people who do not have time to trawl through the Yellow Pages (retro) or the Internet to find what they need.

The website itself is very clean and nice looking. It is really simple to navigate your way around.

There is even an app if you want to search on the go…

I had no idea that Bidvine existed before. I’ll definitely be using it again.

Disclaimer.

This is a sponsored post. I received payment for this post but these are my own views.

Knight’s school and Chaucer -the Canterbury Tales Experience

We were so excited to be asked to review the Canterbury Tales Experience. It was a brilliant introduction to ‘Olde English’ culture.

We had only vaguely heard of Chaucer prior to our visit to Canterbury, so we took out a few books from the library to help familiarise ourselves with the story (Yes, I am uncultured!). The books which were most helpful were: Illustrated Canterbury Tales (Illustrated Story Collections) , Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales by Marcia Williams (4-Feb-2008) Paperback, and The Canterbury Tales in Modern VerseChaucer in Modern Verse. This meant we were familiar with the stories, and had talked about them with the kids, before we got there.
As we toured, we realised this preparation was not necessary as the stories were told really clearly, with lots of illustration from the set.

The multilingual audio guide told the stories as you reached each set. The guide was in English, Dutch, German, French, Japanese and Italian, as well as a less bawdy kids-English version. At the start, children​ were encouraged to choose a medieval costume to wear as we joined in the pilgrimage to Canterbury and listened to the stories along the way.

The guides begun the story in the Tabard Inn in London, where we joined the pilgrims on their journey to Canterbury. The experience lasted about forty minutes, with a combination of live interaction and audio guides. It was really cleverly done: our favourite of the five stories was the one where the lady showed off her bottom (The Miller’s Tale).
medieval clothing, swords and helmets, and, surprisingly, mead for an authentic medieval experience. We had to take a bottle of locally produced mead home, of course!

After we had visited, we went into the churchyard, which had been transformed into a Medieval Story Garden complete with Knight School, herb garden, storytelling tent and Maypole Dance tuition. We spent an hour there and the kids loved it. Emily liked the Knight School best. As a mum, it was great to see my 16, 9 and 8 year olds all training to be knights together, though they did need reminding a few times not to fight each other. The guide was brilliant at keeping it under control and safe, which with children and swords is no mean feat!

Our amazing guide taught us all about medieval medicine in the herb garden, and we played a brilliant ‘match the herb to the illness’ game. My girls liked it so much they played it three times.

My favourite part of the Story Garden experience was the maypole dancing. It took a lot of practise and co-ordination to get the final effect to work. There was a lot of hilarity as we got tangled up along the way, chatting to other families we had only just met.

My middle daughter loves books, so the story tent was just her thing; full of medieval stories – including one by JK Rowling, which we promised to buy a copy of for her later.

When I checked my watch, I was surprised to see that we had spent over an hour in the Story Garden – my youngest even restarted the Knight School with another family, as she enjoyed it so much.

The Canterbury Tales Experience was suitable for all our family, aged from 8 to 42

If we’ve convinced you to join in the fun, there are a few special events to add to the overall enjoyment.

Monday 1 May, 11am – 3pm
Medieval Story Garden: Mystical Beasts
An assortment of Mystical Beasts will descend on The Canterbury Tales’ Medieval Story Garden for May Day, with themed activities including a Mystical Beasts Hunt, Longbow talks with our costumed character and the opportunity to practice some beast-slaying skills at Knight School!

Saturday 27 May – Sunday 4 June, 11am – 3pm
Medieval Story Garden: Magical Patterns
The Canterbury Tales team will be exploring the magic of patterns this May half term with a variety of activities in the Medieval Story Garden. Have your hair beautifully braided, marvel at the magic patterns in kaleidoscopes, try your hand at maypole dancing and enjoy a demonstration of Astrolabes, ancient instruments for determining time and the position of stars, which Chaucer himself was fascinated with.

Saturday 22 July – Friday 1 September, 11am – 3pm
Medieval Story Garden: Summer
Venture to The Canterbury Tales church yard this summer for a selection of medieval activities, all included in the visitor attraction’s admission price. Split into four zones, the church yard will be transformed into a Medieval Story Garden, offering younger guests the chance to try Maypole Dancing, hone their dragon slaying skills at Knight School, observe Medieval Medicine demonstrations and be enthralled by a tale in the Storytelling tent from a costumed character.

Saturday 2 & Sunday 3 December
Artisan Christmas Gift Fair
FREE ENTRY
A special festive market with a medieval twist. Shoppers will be able to step back in time to the streets of 14th century England and browse gifts from a host of talented Kent artisans and crafters.

Saturday 16 & Sunday 17 December
Magical Medieval Christmas
Enjoy a magical medieval Christmas at the award-winning Canterbury Tales attraction. Serenaded by carol singers, guests will meet Santa’s elves, write a Christmas wish to post in the special mail box and visit Santa’s grotto where there will be a gift for every child.

Disclaimer

We were given free admission to the experience in exchange for a review. These are our own thoughts and opinions.

If you jump in muddy puddles…

We were so excited to be given the chance to review these Term Footwear wellies, and the Easter holidays were the perfect time to try them out. To find some muddy puddles. My daughter choose the purple ones as purple is her favourite colour. She was very impressed with them, and wanted her picture taken next to these beautiful purple flowers.

It has been a dry few weeks, so we had to venture into the woods to find some water. As you can see from the pictures, we had a lot of fun! Surprisingly, the boots were tough enough to handle tree climbing as they had a good solid grip. They were also flexible enough to wear for riding a scooter. These boots are perfect for young feet, providing protection and support from cold and wet conditions, being warm in the winter and dry in the spring.

Jasmin got very muddy whilst playing in muddy puddles, but the wellies were easily washed off and were as shiny as ever.

I asked Jasmin to say a few words about the wellies.

The wellies were very comfy and also really good because, if it was sunny, you could take out the lining sock so your feet didn’t get too hot.

I would recommend these wellies to my sister, Emily, as she likes she likes climbing trees and jumping in muddy puddles.”

If you would like to buy your own pair with a special Easter discount, use the code below.

Disclaimer
We received these wellies in exchange for a review. These are our own thoughts and opinions.

Girlie headphones review

We’ve been reviewing these headphones for just over a fortnight now. We travelled up North for family wedding so they were great so stop arguments about who chooses the music and save us a parents from the umpteenth rendition of “Let it go” or the sound effects of Crossy Road or Dumb Ways to Die. We stayed at Ibis Shipley so you may recognise the hotel in the background.
Over to Josh our tech reviewer.

These headphones are good quality for the price. This is because:
I think that the design of the EasySMX Kids headphones is very fun and colourful, this makes sense as these headphones are designed for children. The headphones have a pink faux leather headband which feels rugged and cushioned enough, the earcups are the same colour as the headband but plastic with purple and white hearts this suits the headphones as they are designed for girls in both design and size of the headphones. A feature that shows that these headphones are designed for children is that the headphones’ do not go any louder than 85db, which is about the same as a food blender at its maximum settings from a metre away. This is so that children do not listen to music too loud and damage. their hearing. There is not much bass in these headphones which was expected as they are designed for younger children which do not typically listen to bass heavy songs, the mids and highs sounded decent and overall just sounded a little bit muddy. Overall these headphones are of decent quality for the price as they have an alright sound and build quality for the price that they are.


The girls managed to dislodge one of the headphone covers, we were really pleased to find (from a very helpful member of Ibis hotel staff) they are really simple to reattach.
The headphones arrived in a solid cardboard box with a plastic insert. It was well designed with a child friendly theme.

So over to the girls….

Jasmin
These headphones are good for children as they do not go too loud. I like the design. I’m glad I have the girls design. When I use other headphones they are sometimes crackly but these headphones have clear sound. I would like it better if they were Bluetooth because the wire gets in the way.

Emily
They have good sound. I liked taking them on holiday, especially on Valentines day because they have got hearts on them. They are good because I can choose my own music in the car.

Disclaimer
We were given these headphones in return for an honest review.

Thanks to Ibis hotel Shipley for a making us feel so welcome on our stay there.

If you’d like to buy a set for your family simply follow the link below.

Labelling your children’s clothes. Love it or hate it? Nametags Giveaway

Are you a labeler or not? Do you spend hours sewing name labels on everything or simply scribble initials on the label?

I used to be a meticulous sewer on of name labels. Despite this, my son’s brand new school jumper with a sewn on label went missing, never to be seen again.

Now some school clothing comes with a space to simply write on the name and I take advantage when I can.

I know in some schools sending children in with unlabelled clothes is regarded as a heinous crime

When I was asked by mynametags.com to review these name labels and I jumped at the chance. There is a great selection of designs available from plain black and white to a seemingly endless combination of patterns, pictures and fonts. My daughters loved the Hello Kitty design and that they could choose their own font, colour and patterns.They were really simple to order and arrived quickly.

They are really simple to use. Simply stick to the items you want to label.
The website says “My Nametags new colour stickers, there is no need to either iron- on or sew on the name tags. You can just apply a sticker to the clothing washing label, and it will stay on in the wash again and again. What was once a chore is now a quick and easy job. Colour Stickers can also be stuck onto shoes, bags, DVDs, iPods and other equipment. They are dishwasher, microwave and steriliser proof.”

I’ve been testing them for four weeks now on water bottles and clothing that has had four washes so far (including an item of clothing I stuck a label on then put straight in the wash which is not what they recommend). My verdict is all the labels have stayed put so far and do not look worn. My daughters actually enjoyed labeling their own clothes, which has a great help! A friend who works in an elderly care home saw out stickers and is going to tell her employer about them as they are so easy to use and would really help in that setting.

Would you like to win your own personalised set of my nametags? simply enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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