My Family

My Family

Monday, 25 July 2016

Shardfest 2016 - We had a Blast!

Shardfest 2016 - We had a Blast! 


I shared a post a few weeks back about how much we were looking forward to our yearly local family festival, Shardfest. Well this weekend we spent our Saturday enjoying the delights and entertainment that Shardfest had to offer. Tickets were priced at £50 a family but lucky locals like us received a whopping £50% off that price costing us just £25. 

There were lots of lovely little stalls from businesses local and otherwise. Three stages of music and a fabulous fun fair for the kids and bigger kids alike. There was a whole host of food stalls ranging from Chinese food to Caribbean food to Traditional Pies and Chips. We were spoilt for choice when it came to food available which was great for us as we spent our whole day there. Ice creams were available and Slush machines were dotted around everywhere which was perfect as the weather was very warm as the sun shone down on us.


Our day was filled with good old family fun. We did spend quite a bit of money but I didn't mind as we were all having such a good time. We played lots of fun games like Hook a Duck and Darts to win prizes and took turns on the many tombolas that were on offer, all for good causes of course. Ryan won himself a giant ball on the Hook a Duck which he was delighted with. There were lots of games where the prizes were footballs which turned out great as there were happy little boys everywhere playing football in the vast open spaces. I'm sure someone had thought of that, some very clever person of course.

Later in the day after enjoying some of the fun fair rides we sat down on the grass in front of the main stage to relax and listen to some of the musical talents that were on show. 


Nothing beats the feeling of live music being played out in the open and being surrounded by people all enjoying themselves. The kids made friends with other local children and played happily for hours. There were adults and children all playing together, you could see and feel the community spirit throughout the festival which was just what we needed.

There were some slight difficulties happening around the stage areas but we wasn't really affected that much. Yes there were gaps between the acts but there was music still being played. Our day was so nice and chilled out, that we stayed much longer than we'd originally planned to. We'd arrived around 1pm and didn't leave until gone 8.30pm. 


Although there was people everywhere, the crowds around the stage were quite small which was great as we could walk straight up and fit in nicely at the front of the barriers. We didn't stay late enough for some of the bigger acts like James Arthur but we did get to enjoy the sounds of the very talented Musical Youth which brought back so many memories for me.

We had an amazing day, the kids enjoyed themselves and I did too. Our day was filled with joy, laughter and lots of smiles. Live music filled the air and community spirit shone bright throughout. Shardfest was really good last year but Shardfest was extra brilliant this year and we as a family can't wait for Shardfest 2017 so that we can do it all over again!

The Original Stretch Armstrong #Review

The Original Stretch Armstrong   


Stretch Armstrong has been a children’s icon since the 1970’s and now he’s back.

 The latest version has taken him back to his roots and has been designed to look like the original classic style for 21st century children. He can be stretched up to 4 times his own size without breaking. You can pull him, twist him, squish him and tie him up in knots. Once he's been stretched he does take a little while to return back to his original shape, it's not a quick transition. We had to leave him for a short while once he'd been stretched to recover.

He's a decent 30cm tall but his body is quite weighty, he's much heavier than he looks but from the day he arrived my youngest two have been pulling him in all directions and he's still looking good. Poor Stretch has been fought over, twisted into knots and all sorts this past week but I'm happy to report that he did return back to his original size after every play.


I'm sure my big brother had a Stretch Armstrong when we were little although I don't recall him ever letting me have a go with him so this time around I've had a good play myself. He's very squishy and does feel kinda weird but he's good fun and the kids seem to like him. It's actually kinda fun to stretch and pull at, he's like a kids version of our stress balls only cooler. Lily and Ryan love him and happily play with him both together and on their own.

I think Stretch Armstrong has been well received and gets a firm thumbs up from my two.


The Original Stretch Armstrong can be purchased from www.character-online.co.uk.

Disclosure: We received our Stretch Armstrong for free but our opinions are our own.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Brand New Barbie Dreamtopia Movie Special Airs on Tiny Pop 23rd July at 4pm.

Brand New Barbie Dreamtopia Movie Special 
Airs on Tiny Pop 23rd July at 4pm.

We're getting ready to join Chelsea, her puppy Honey, and Barbie on the adventure of a lifetime as they explore the lands of Dreamtopia, a land where if you can imagine it, it can happen.  The brand new Dreamtopia Movie special is coming to Tiny Pop at 4pm on Saturday July 23rd. My girls and I are very excited here and can'tw ait to watch it.


Dreamtopia is a series set in a magical make-believe world created by Chelsea, Barbie’s six year old youngest sister. Like many young girls, Chelsea really looks up to her big sister, and every adventure features Barbie as either a princess, a fairy, or a mermaid from a different land that guides Chelsea and her young pup Honey on a new experience. 


You can watch the Barbie Dreamtopia movie special trailer here and find out more about the world by visiting www.barbie.com/dreamtopia or by downloading the Barbie Dreamtopia App. The fun doesn't have to stop there as you can bring the fun home with the Barbie Dreamtopia doll line which includes a whole range of mermaids, princesses and more! 


My Lily (aged 9) loves Barbie so we will be tuning in to watch the brand new special. If you want to watch it too, remember to tune in to Tiny Pop at 4pm on Saturday July 23rd.

Disclosure: We were excited about the new show and wanted to share the news with you.

Monday, 18 July 2016

LeapPad Platinum - LeapFrog’s most advanced LeapPad tablet yet. #Review

LeapPad Platinum - LeapFrog’s most advanced
 LeapPad tablet yet. 


For the past few week's Ryan (aged 6) has been testing out LeapFrog's newest children's tablet, the LeapPad Platinum which is aimed at children aged between 3 and 9 yrs. Ryan's currently in Year 1 at school although not for much longer as he'll be heading off to Year 2 after the Summer. He's at the age where his reading and writing are improving all the time so they're something that I'm always encouraging him to do more of which made this tablet perfect for him. Before I go into our thought's, I'll give you all the important stats about it.

What's in the box? 

• LeapPad Platinum Learning Tablet (8GB)
• USB Rechargeable Battery & USB Cord
• AC Adapter
• Two Cameras and Video Recorders
• LeapSearch Kid-Safe Web Browser


What App's are Included?

• Music Player plus 10 songs
• Pet Pad Party
• Pet Chat
• Photo Fun Ultra
• 5 Utility Apps
• Choice of 1 Free App Download

The LeapPad Platinum Details:

The LeapPad Platinum has a 7" Hi-Resolution ( 1024x600 ) Touch Screen that delivers clear, crisp, sharp graphics making their learning fun come to life. 

You can use Wi-Fi using their Kid-Safe Web which is a safe, protected web browser, serving up a ton of kid-appropriate videos. All are reviewed or approved by learning experts. It's a great idea which gives us adults peace of mind whilst they browse.

You have access to over 800 games and more which are sold separately. All of them are designed or approved by LeapFrog educators with select titles featuring Just For Me Learning. It's great knowing that everything has your child's best interests at heart.

LeapFrog Imagicard brings magic cards to life for even more interactive game play. There are 6 bonus LeapFrog Imagicard included: the digital game and interactive cards include a demo game, photo fun, trivia and more. These were great as some of them had Ryan's favourite characters on them, Chase from Paw Patrol and Leonardo from TMNT were two.

You'll be happy to hear it has Parent Controls which allow you to set time limits to manage your kids' play and set passwords. You can customise experiences for each age and stage.

From box to Play it's really quick and easy. Once connected to WiFi the setup is really easy. You follow a few simple steps to create your account and then set up your child's profile. You can set up more than one so each child can have their own profile. Ryan loved taking his own picture with the 2MP front and back camera to set as his profile picture. The Paw Patrol and TMNT Imagicards are proving really popular too as he plays with them all the time. He's created his own pet called Candy Panda he finds very entertaining to play with.


I love the way he's learning to hold his pen whilst having fun at the same time. There's so much for him to learn, he's been playing with the calculator learning to add up. Playing with the photo fun app, learning to take photo's and playing with the Notepad, learning to write and spell. He may think he's just playing games but I know he's doing so much more than that. Every time he spells out a word or reads something new, he's learning. Every time he draws a new picture or writes a new note, he's learning. With so much to learn, I'm happy to let him play on it for quite a while. I'm happy to let him have free play knowing that he's safe.


Ryan's loving the freedom he has with his new grown up tablet. He can play happily by himself without me having to constantly watch him over his shoulder. He's been playing with it everyday, he'd never put it down if I didn't have to charge it up for more play. The battery life is 5 hours which means we do have to charge it every second day or more here.

To add more apps or games you do have to pay for them but without doing that there is still plenty to do already. We've not downloaded or payed for any new additions and Ryan is more than happy with what he has to do on it. That might change in the near future but for now he's happy with what he has. There's lots to explore and learn, lots to play, read and see. Ryan really loves his new LeapPad Platinum and I must admit, I do love it too!

Disclosure: We received our LeapPad Platinum for free for the purpose of this review but all the opinions expressed within it are 100% honest and entirely my own. 

Monday, 4 July 2016

Our Day Out at LEGOLAND Windsor - Even the Rain couldn't keep Us away! #Review

Our Day Out at LEGOLAND Windsor.
Even the Rain couldn't keep Us away! 


Last weekend we made the 2 hour car journey to LEGOLAND Windsor for Ryan's 6th Birthday treat. Despite trying to get there early we arrived smack bang in the middle of rush hour. Arriving at 10:15am is not a very good idea as everyone is arriving around then. The car queue was a little long but eventually we made it to the car ark and into the park itself.

Once inside the park we headed straight for the far side of the park as a friend had told me a week earlier that this was a good idea if we wanted to avoid the crowds who would all be starting at the start. I think it worked a little as the queues on that side were a little shorter than many of the ones we had walked past. Queues with children are never much fun so we were determined to make our day go as well as possible without wasting too much time.


There's lots of different Lands within LEGOLAND but everything is quite spread out so there was lots of walking involved. Luckily my three are all used to walking so it wasn't that much of a problem for us plus all mine are aged 6 and above so they were very much able. I think throughout the day we managed to go on about 6 rides in total as the queues were up to a 40 minutes wait at times. We tried to avoid these ones and go to the smaller ones instead. We went on the Dragon ride which was fun although I kind of wished that it would go around twice to make it last longer seeing as we had waited so long to get on it beforehand.

My favourite ride was the Atlantis Submarine Voyage where we boarded submarines and got too see lots of sharks and fish. I really thought we would be seeing LEGO marine life so when we saw actual real marine life I was well excited, making this my favourite ride.

The Vikings' River Splash was lots of fun, we love a good water ride so this was top of our list to go on when we arrived. We waited until a little later in the day when the queue was shorter but it was well worth the wait just to see the kids faces when they got soaked.

The Space Tower was my little man's favourite. He went on with his Daddy and had a great time. Working together to pull themselves up to reach the top to fall down again.


Ryan loves LEGO so the The LEGO 4D Movie Theatre was a huge success. If I'm honest I really enjoyed the show myself. The 4D effects range from foam to wind, to water to fire. 4D is pretty impressive to watch and the story was great too. We all loved the show!

There are lots of random LEGO statues dotted around the park. Lily and Ryan wanted their pictures taken with all of them but there's way too many to put them all up so here's a few.


We spend a good portion of our day checking out the LEGO sculptures and enjoying the shows that were going on. There's lots to entertain the kids when you're not in the mood for queuing for rides. When the rides got really busy we headed off for something to eat. There's loads of places to eat but we went for the City Walk Pizza & Pasta place in Heartlake City which was an all you can eat buffet. Being Merlin Annual Pass holders meant we got a further 20% off the bill which was great as that saved us nearly ten pounds. On entering they asked the children's ages (mine are 6, 9 and 13) so I was delighted when all three of them came under children prices. Lots of places we've been to charge adult prices for the 13 year old so this was really good. It saved me a good six pounds, woohoo.


Ryan loved looking at all the Star Wars LEGO in the Star Wars exhibition but got upset when we left the centre as he wanted to play with the LEGO all day. I kind of promised him, I'd buy him some Star Wars LEGO as a late birthday present just to get him out of there.


LEGOLAND is a big place so we didn't get too see everything or go on even half of the rides which means one day we will have to go back. For a day out it was good fun for the smaller two but the eldest did get a bit bored as there isn't much for older children or adults to go on. If you love LEGO like mine do then it's a must visit place, even if you only go once in your lifetime. We spent a good seven hours in the park but could have quite easily have stayed longer if it hadn't closed on us. Most of the rides closed at 6pm but they did stay open a little longer as we left the park around 6:30pm. Heading home took a while as the queue to get out of the car park was a little crazy. It took us nearly an hour to get out of the park.

Overall Ryan had a fantastic day and enjoyed spending his 6th birthday at LEGOLAND. 
It may have rained a little but that wasn't going to stop us from enjoying ourselves. As people stood under the trees hiding from the rain, we were running to the next ride to get a head start. Getting wet was half of the fun as the rides we went on got us wet anyway.

We used our Merlin Annual Passes to gain entry and save ourselves 20% off our food and drinks inside. With over 32 magical worlds to enjoy, I wonder where we will head to next!


Disclosure: We are Merlin Annual Pass Ambassadors 2016. This visit was for my son's birthday. It is a review but all the opinions expressed are 100% honest and all our own.

We became Ladies who Lunch at Giraffe - Birmingham Grand Central #Review

We became Ladies who Lunch at Giraffe - 
Birmingham Grand Central.


So today we became, Ladies who Lunch. We headed into Birmingham City Centre for a lovely lunch at Giraffe which is located in the brand new Birmingham Grand Central on the upper Dining Level with a great open plan restaurant so you can watch the chefs in action.

My lovely friend Toni and I were both complete Giraffe newbies so we were very much so looking forward to our visit. The staff were very welcoming, friendly and helpful. The restaurant itself was very bright with a modern open plan layout and although you're in the middle of a busy shopping centre, you don't actually feel that way once inside. There's lots of little features like plants around the edges to help block out the busy outside world. We sat in a comfortable booth made for four which was rather lovely. Around us were happy people laughing, smiling and generally enjoying their lunches. Above us was a beautiful lighting structure which again was very modern, class and beautiful. I really liked it.


We ordered a glass of Prosecco to start with and why not? Ladies who Lunch are allowed a glass of bubbles every now and again, right? The Giraffe Menu is quite large with lots of choice on it. For Starters there's: Starters, Appetisers and Sharing Platters to choose from. I went for the Chicken Yaki Gyozas whilst Toni chose the Tuscan Lamb Meatballs. Both were very well presented and tastes delicious. For a starter they were decent sized portions.

The Chicken Yaki Gyozas: 

Five fried chicken dumplings with an orange & miso glaze. They came served with a nouc cham sweet chilli sauce which was amazing. The dumplings were filled with lovely moist chicken which went down really well. I enjoyed every mouthful of this started although eating all five of them was a little hard to manage but I did it, just about.


The Tuscan Lamb Meatballs:

Four large Tuscan Lamb Meatballs served in a rich tomato sauce topped with lemon yoghurt and gremolata breadcrumbs. Toni really enjoyed her starter and happily complimented the lemon yogurt dressing, she said that added so much flavour to the dish and was really tasty. Again it was a very good sized starter, with four large meatballs and two pieces of warm tortillas on the side, she struggled to eat it all but managed to do so, just about. 


For our Mains I chose the Slow-Cooked Jerk Ribs whilst Toni went for the Tuk-Tuk Suck Stir Fry. There was lots of choice on the menu but we both decided we'd try something completely new instead of our usual 'chicken' dishes and we were both so happy that we did. Both our meals were delicious, Toni managed to finish all of hers, unlike me.

The Slow-Cooked Jerk Ribs:


The Slow-Cooked Jerk Ribs are slow-cooked pork ribs covered in a hot jerk sauce with a roasted red pepper & mango salsa on the side and a mountain of sweet potato fries too. The plate was huge, I was really impressed with the amount of sweet potato fries that were on my plate. The ribs were really tasty and the sauce was great. It wasn't too spicy but the flavours were delicious. I managed to eat all of my ribs but just couldn't fit all the fries in.

The Tuk-Tuk Suck Stir Fry: 


The Tuk-Tuk Suck Stir Fry was a large bowl filled with shredded duck, bok choy, mint, wok-fried vegetables and noodles with chilli jam and crispy shallots. Toni was really happy as she loves shredded duck. It wasn't fatty at all and had a really lovely flavour. Her dish came with chop sticks although Toni had a little trouble getting used to them which was quite funny. 

We happily sat chatting for over an hour and a half today. Giraffe is really relaxed place and has a great friendly atmosphere. Being in Grand Central you're surrounded by shoppers, travellers, ladies who lunch like us and many more people just out for food. The real mix of people makes for a great atmosphere and the staff are all so lovely in there.

Even though we were already feeling a little full by now we still had to try the Deserts seeing as the choices on the Deserts Menu all seemed so amazingly delicious. Toni went for the Hot Choc Brownie whilst I went for the Salted Caramel Sundae... Yum!

The Hot Choc Brownie:


The Hot Choc Brownie was a slice of warm chocolate brownie served with a melting chocolate sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the top. Toni said it was fab! The brownie was really moist and chocolatey just like a good brownie should be. I'm happy to report, there was one clean plate when she was finished. There were no crumbs left at all.

The Salted Caramel Sundae:


The Salted Caramel Sundae is not you're usual sundae. It's the best sundae I've EVER had. Two scoops of salted caramel ice cream served with salted pretzels and toffee popcorn. OMG the textures were amazing. The salty ice cream with the crunch of the pretzel and then the sweetness of the toffee was just divine. I think I've found myself my new favourite dessert ever! I've never had anything quite like it. For such a simple idea, who ever thought of this needs a medal. I will defiantley be going back to Giraffe even if just for Dessert!


We finished off with a Yorkshire Tea for me and a Latte for Toni. I loved the quirky little tea pot and the cute little Giraffe's on the sugar packs. The Fresh Lemon Wipes also came in useful. There were lots of little things that made our visit so great today. It wasn't just the tasty food although that is a big part of it. The friendly, smiling staff. The quirky little details and the relaxed atmosphere all added to an extra special afternoon for the both of us.

Toni and I had a fabulous lunch this afternoon and would definatley go back again. 
Giraffe Grand Central gets a fantastic thumbs up from us as we just couldn't fault the place. For Ladies who Lunch, it was everything we had hoped for and more.

Disclosure: I was invited to Giraffe Grand Central to review their restaurant but all the pictures and opinions shown in this review are 100% honest and entirely my own.