Friday, 31 August 2012

Toys R Us Toyologist 2012

Seeing as its all official and the announcement has now been made I can confirm we are one of the twenty four toyologists for 2012 with Toys R Us!  Whoop Whoop!

We are part of the Green Group for children 4-6, but fear not if your children are younger or older and you want advice on toys, there are two further groups testing (the Purple Group aged 0-36 months and the Blue Group aged 7+ years).



Still in a little bit of a state of shock as despite trying for this for the third year we never quite imagined actually being picked!!!

Now I should start a teary acceptance speech thanking everyone special in my life (including the cats)… or not haha!

But if your curious to see the entry that got us picked here it is:



We are awaiting box 1 filled with anticipation, wondering what will be in store for us!  Keep checking back to see how we get on and get some ideas for Christmas 2012.


You can read more about the other winners and what we all get up to here.

http://toysrustoybox.co.uk/

Also to thank you my lovely followers I am busily behind the scenes getting some very exciting competitions sorted because happy news needs to be shared!

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Revell X Ray Competition

Entertaining children can be hard work, sometimes it’s tough to feign enthusiasm when you are playing shopkeeper for the millionth time.  “Oh yes I would love an ice cream, oh really the shop is closed already”… does lose its shine eventually!

It is good to focus on activities that still manage to challenge us the grownups on occasion.  Keeping the grey matter ticking over and stopping the permanent glaze across our zoned out eyes…

So this is where model making comes up trumps.  It is an activity not for the faint hearted, but you can spend many a happy hour, looking perplexed at the contents of the box, debating how to build a remarkable model.  It gives yourself and your children an opportunity to improve your construction skills and then you all admire your handiwork.  Forget nice ornaments a few Revell models on your shelves could look quite decorative.


The X ray models are new to the range and very educational, not only do your children benefit from quality time spent model building, these models show them the anatomical structure.  So you can see the bones and the organs, your little scientists will love that!



Thankfully these models are pre-painted and require no glue so less mess in the house!  Hallelujah.  With an RRP of £26.99 you might be tempted to see what the range offers, especially as this is a model kit you can snap together and then take apart and start all over again and again!

Revell model kits are available from all good toy and model retailers. For further information visit www.revell.eu

To enter the competition to win either a giraffe or dog model kit fill in the rafflecopter below by 12th of September.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

bizzybee Review

As I have mentioned before my cleaning talent is limited, my attitude to household chores very lacklustre.  My disposition far removed from sparkling (much like the state of the house!), I get down to cleaning out of sheer necessity!


But I did double take the package from bizzybee you do not expect cleaning products to look glam… and these were quite lovely, with glittery scourers, pink spotty gloves and nice pastel coloured cleaning clothes.  I was a little bit excited to don the gloves and clean something, anything, just to see the products in action.  Although eldest had other ideas, he pinched the gloves and later he decided to give the coffee table a good clean with a purple cloth.


If these can inspire the boys, who do not know the meaning of tidy up and put away, then these cloths and gloves must be quite something!


To be honest I have never seen pretty cleaning supplies before, but it definitely takes some of the monotony out of cleaning. 

The cloths were very absorbent, it does not take long in our house to test out something like this, because we are guaranteed multiple spillages a day from youngest, who have mastered the knack of knocking his drink on the carpet into a fine art!

The products are not just attractive they are functional too.  You can even buy moisturising gloves, as a busy parent (juggling working part time and this blog) I struggle to fit in cleaning never mind a beauty regime, least this way I can manage both!  My hands will be softer and younger looking with the built in natural moisturiser protecting them.  How very clever indeed… they say you can tell how old someone is from the condition of their hands, I think I needed to invest in decent gloves to do the chores as I must look about ninety!

The microfibre cleaning kit made light work on our mirrored wardrobes, from the picture showing half done and half to go, I am embarrassed it was in such a state… luckily these cloths are great the trap the dirt and do not make you rub it around like some cheaper inferior cloths and being lint free your not leaving unattractive little dirty bobbles everywhere.  A little bit of water and hardly any elbow grease and our house is starting to take shape.


Follow bizzybee on Twitter and Facebook.com/bizzybeeuk

Head to the website for some cleaning tips (must bookmark this I could do with the help!) and further information.

Monday, 27 August 2012

mic o mic Review

It is a mic o mic extravangza at our house after being sent a lovely selection from DKL Toys.  It has kept eldest out of mischief for long periods of time.  Daddy and him busy in their workshop (well his bedroom!) building all manner of vehicles.


The instructions are easy enough to follow and displayed as a diagram in stages you can follow, which helps with children with little reading experience who can still follow a picture illustrating how to do it.

Even youngest was excited to see what all the fuss was about.


The models are quite elaborate and you can sit and admire the finished masterpiece on a shelf, play with it (the tractor and train have been pushed all around on the floor and the aeroplane has flown around the house) or you can even dismantle and build over again and again.  So certainly a versatile toy with lots of re-playability, dismantling does not prove too much trouble as you get a handy tool for that purpose!  Very well thought out.


You can choose when building to follow the instructions or come up with your own designs!  So definitely lots of potential to develop a child’s imagination, as they try and come up with more and more creative models to make with the included parts.  As their collections grows so does the possibilities…

The sets are pitched for children 5+ but I do think they will need the help of the “adults”, as it requires considerable manual dexterity.  Although it is a nice family activity, as too often us grownups can get bogged down in household chores and its great having the push of an activity that needs our involvement to spend quality time together.

With a large selection of different models to choose from these will appeal to children and their inherent love of vehicles.  The models are very colourful and quite unique with their press stud connector system.

Available to buy from PlayMerrily Toy Shop, head to the website to see the current offers on the range.  The large truck and boat look fabulous, I know we are very happy with our introduction to mic o mic.

JOHNSON’S® SunCare Review

We were sent two bottles to review; one spray (RRP £12.99) and one rub in lotion (£12.49), both reassuringly factor 50, so lots of protection.  We go through lots of sunscreen here as even though the weather is hit and miss in Wales, I do tend to veer on the side of caution and slather them in it just in case. 


Before now the poor things have gone outside to play resembling Casper the Friendly Ghost.  So I do now tend to look for sun lotion that will sink in well, giving good coverage but not a pasty white look!  This was youngest so excited to try out the new product he went to town with the lotion on his forehead.


Afterwards it sunk in so well he quickly looked like his normal self!  No ghost in sight!

SunCare Kids range did not react adversely to my boys sensitive skin, eldest did not even complain about his eyes, he tends to panic if lotion goes within one mile of them… it gets quite difficult to coax him to wear sun lotion on occasion.  But he was more than happy to have some on his hand ready to spread around. 


It is sweat and water resistant so whatever your children are up too, you can know they are safe in the sun (remember their sunhats too!).  The SunCare Kids left a faint mango smell, which I thought was quite lovely.

For more information on sun safety for babies and kids, please see:

http://www.johnsonsbaby.co.uk/microsites/suncare

Available to buy from Tesco, Boots and Sainsbury’s

Little Baby Company Review

Little Baby Company was launched back in 2007, but do not let the name fool you there is plenty for all aged children to be found here.  So many lovely gift ideas, some quite original and a few excellent bargains!  I am so pleased I have stumbled upon them as I am getting some fantastic inspiration ready for Christmas.  Also if you had a new baby on the way, you could have the best nursery in town with some of their decorative accessories.

We were sent the Mini Rabbit LED light; it emits a decent amount of light and does not appear to get hot (I have been checking it routinely to make sure!).  I had to rub my eyes when I saw the price of £4.95, which seems exceptionally cheap for such a lovely item.  Most children are anxious about the dark at some point so a spot of light can really reassure and settle them.  Some night-lights are very expensive but this little rabbit can do the job just as well to be honest… (They even have a mini toadstool one!)



Being a rabbit meant eldest instantly loved it but I found it useful as I have a tendency to forget to plug in their other night lights and give them enough time to charge, using batteries means I do not have a panic come bedtime that the night light is not ready.  I simply switch it on, say my goodnights and leave the room with two boys content to drift off to sleep.

The other item we were sent to review was the Djeco Children Of The World sand art kit (which is currently on offer for £6.45), we have not used sand kits before and I was impressed how much fun they are to use and surprisingly not that messy!   It has ages 6-11 on the box, but our youngest who is three with a little help really enjoyed himself.

You would think giving my boys free reign with an assortment of coloured sand pots would result in a small vivid beach around us, but using the box with its specially pouring spout meant the unused sand returned to the pots without any fuss and minimum chaos!  



The hardest part was opening the pots, screw tops would have been easier, but it’s only a small criticism as the set on the whole is very well thought out.  You even get a little tool to help remove the stickers, well youngest thought it was a scraping tool so he did some handiwork on one of the pictures and it looked more rustic… but then reading the instructions more thoroughly now for the review I found the true purpose of the tool!!! I wish we had known earlier as I was moaning to the in-laws how tricky it was to get the tiny stickers off…

Doing an art with numbers set helped them be more familiar with their numbers, youngest was practising matching up the number on the board then looking for the corresponding sand pot.  It was wonderful seeing the boys handling a different type of medium in their crafting.  Two of the in-laws foster girls really enjoyed taking part too doing a picture together and they are 11 and 15.  So this is an item with lots of appeal for girls and boys of a wide age range.

My two were very proud of their creations and I would happily try sand art again.  A great rainy day activity you could even frame the end result for colourful wall art for their bedrooms.



Find out more from the Little Baby Company website or follow them on facebook or twitter.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Leapfrog Tag Reading System Review

The Leapfrog Tag Reading System is one of my new favourite items in the world… it means I can sit peacefully and feel smug because my boys are having a story, but I do not have to do anything! 



Is it wrong to be a little slothful sometimes?  Given how much I have been on the go since my two monkeys were born, I guess its nice to take time out and put my feet up, drink hot tea (for a change!) and watch them learning (whilst keeping one eye on Come Dine with Me of course).  Lazy parenting at its best with the help of a magic tag pen, but if you could see some of the things they are learning (using the additional available materials) you would be impressed to say the least.



We were sent the Solar System Adventure Pack (currently £12.97 from Amazon) and the World Map Activity Board (only £10 at the moment from Amazon) to complement our tag reader review.  The prices surprise me as I genuinely thought they would be priced considerably higher, in my opinion they are worth that and more.  There are lots to see and do with each pack.



The Map has two sides, a physical map (with animals, landmarks and children) and a political map with the countries.  Hugely educational, but a lot of fun at the same time, there are games to play, facts to learn and rewards to download on completing them.  The reward system is a little highlight for eldest who thrives on knowing he did a good job!

These are all pitched for 4-8 year olds, but like I said this will also be popular for younger children.  They will enjoy just placing the tag reader onto different things and hearing what happens.  Eldest in contrast likes the challenges and learning more about the world around him.  Youngest on the other hand was just happy clapping and dancing away to the musical facts in the Solar System pack; it was quite a groovy beat!

The Solar System pack had some stickers you could also use the tag reader with, they could then be placed in the passport to the planets booklet, but ours found themselves on the playroom wall.  It is a novelty having stickers that you can actually hear aloud with the help of the reader.



Never mind the children I have learnt so many new things already!  Do you know it would take us TWO WEEKS to eat what a grizzly bear eats in ONE DAY!  Seriously I feel less greedy now just thinking of that!!!  Eldest liked hearing that the Bald Eagle builds nests with so many sticks it can weigh more than a car… the map is crammed with this kind of useful information.  He will go back to school and the teachers will look at me amazed like how did I bestow all this information on his young shoulders!



Before you can use your boards or books with your tag reader you do need to download the audio from Leapfrog, this can be a pain when your children are literally begging to start playing “NOW MUMMY”, but it is thankfully a quick and painless process, so do not panic!

Leapfrog have already impressed me with the LeapPad, so I guess it is only to be expected to keep seeing wonderful things from a great company!

The Tag Reader (in green) is available to buy from Amazon.  They have brought the price down again and it is only £24.  Christmas is on the horizon people… and so many learning opportunities here (cup of tea anyone!).

Dear Zoo Touch and Feel Review

We have the original Dear Zoo lift and flap book already and it is very much loved by my boys, they learnt it word perfect from memory because it was a firm favourite, so I wondered how you could actually improve on that… Well with Dear Zoo celebrating its 30th birthday this year, as hard as it is to perfect a classic they went along and tried, and luckily along came Dear Zoo Touch and Feel!  


The same delightful story by Rod Campbell, just leaving the flaps behind and instead you have a multitude of different surfaces to experience instead.  If you have a baby or toddler I think this addition might last longer, as our flaps definitely took a beating when the boys were younger.  Children love nothing more than ripping them out of the book!  This edition seems more sturdy and to be honest even more fun!

Both the boys and myself liked the frog’s sticky feet best, you cannot stop touching them its quite addictive!  The different textures really intrigued my boys.  


But for younger children it would be a good first book to develop their sense of touch, teaching them about rough, smooth and patterned materials.  Just watch out the lion does not bite you when you put your finger in his mouth!  You have been warned!  With the new artwork and the exciting textures it is like a whole new book.

Dear Zoo is published by Macmillan Children’s books and available to buy for £7.99 from the 30th of August.  Currently on Amazon for £4.71, whoop!

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Macmillan Cancer Support and Silver Spoon

On the 28th of September this year the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning is going to be taking place. This is a fantastic one day fundraising event hosted by Macmillan Cancer Support to raise money for people with lives affected by cancer.


Silver Spoon, the homegrown sugar people, are the official sugar sponsor for the event, and this year have decided to launch a fantastic competition as part of their activity. On the 24th August 2012 Silver Spoon and Macmillan are launching Silver Spoons Little Local Hero Awards. They are scouring the country for local heroes under the age of 18 who have done something truly special. Your local little hero could have looked after their little sister when they were ill, gone to great lengths to make Mother’s Day very special, or done something fantastic to raise money for charity.

If you know someone under 18 in your local area who you think would be a worthy winner, just explain in less than 100 words who you are nominating, why, and what you would bake them to say thank you


Master P√Ętissier Eric Lanlard, star of Channel 4’s Baking Mad with Eric Lanlard, will choose a Silver Spoon National Little Hero and to celebrate he will bake them a special cake of their choice! 10 runners up will also receive a Silver Spoon Baking Hamper packed full of exciting treats.


There are sure to be some amazing stories from our local little heroes all over the country, but in the meantime don’t forget to register to hold your own coffee morning on the 28th September, just follow this link and you can help to raise money for people with lives affected by cancer.

Cawston Press Kids’ Blends Review

We were sent samples of the lovely new children’s drink range from Cawston Press, we packed them in our bag on arrival and headed off out for a hike in the woods.  


After slowly breaking our backs carrying the boys when they got tired we needed to stop for a thirst quenching drink, luckily these cartons were quite delicious even for us grownups!  


But to be honest I did not expect any less as we had already favourably reviewed the larger cartons and sparkling bottles from the range, you can refresh your memory of that review here.  Again as with the previous products only apples picked and pressed within 48 hours are used to make these drinks, so only the best for your little scamps.

These would make a lovely addition to lunchboxes and with going back to school literally round the corner now, its time to think about all the essentials ready for their return to school (and our return to sanity!).  Thankfully each of these cartons equates to one of your five fruit a day, so feeling better that I have managed to get some goodness in me today!  I have been slightly negligent on the fruit front myself, so a quick drink is a very easy way to remedy that! 

The cartons meet school-approved standards, using a combination of 75% fruit juice and 25% water, meaning they are not quite as sweet and sickly as juice can sometimes be and more refreshing.  The jury was out on which of the two flavours was most popular in our family, we had the in-laws with us and their foster kids and it was a pretty even divide between the Pear and the Mango flavours.  So give them a try and see which you prefer.



The drinks are being stocked in Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Ocado, with an RRP of £1.79 for a three-carton pack.

Vampires Diaries Blu-ray Review

We have been watching this series from the very beginning and have long since passed the first season (but I desperately wanted to review to pass on the Blu-ray to a friend who is missing out not seeing the show, and most importantly then she and I can have the Stefan OR Damon conversations!).

I must admit we were slightly unsure to begin with and took a few episodes to settle into the show.  We thought it looked slightly teeny and had some reservations but come episode three onwards, we started to get more and more suckered in with the plot and the characters.  In the beginning I did not get the appeal of one of the lead characters, he seemed to have a very pronounced chin, but now I can see his true potential!!!  But Damon is mine so do not get any other idea’s followers… haha!

We are now well and truly hooked, if you have somehow missed Vampire Diaries - did your TV blow up or you fell in a ditch? Seriously where have you been? it is worth giving it a chance and seeing what you think.  Don’t dismiss it straight away it has continually improved, the plot is gripping and Vampires are very in at the moment.  It is also not quite as gruesome as some of the other Vampire shows, good for the faint hearted like me!  There is plenty of romance and an undercurrent theme of dark, brooding jealously.  All I can say is Elena is a very lucky girl!  Even with all the drama, she gets to hang out with two hotties… swoons!


Bonnie is sometimes a bit lame in her witchery attempts; she spends most of the show in a state of lethargy because her magic powers drain her (get a grip, have you tried running around after two young children, drink some red bull or something!).  Caroline is a great character and one hubbie seems quite partial too!!!  I guess I am not in a position to complain given my blood lust for the two leads…

Here is hubbie doing his best impression (can I have a rain check on any blood sucking please!):


Available to buy from Amazon for £11.98

Friday, 24 August 2012

McAfee All Access 2012 Household Review

I am not a very technical person (I leave that side of things to my capable hubbie), but I totally understand the importance of decent virus software to protect your computer.  I know the consequences if you do not, I once had a bunch of naughty viruses decide to party on my computer, they caused havoc, opening pop-ups all over the place, corrupting files and at their worst they like nothing better than running off with your personal information!  There are plenty of free to download virus protection on the net, but they are not as comprehensive as what is available to buy.  With viruses updating themselves at record speed to be more creative and sneaky in their attacks, you need maximum protection.  Would you leave your front door open and a sign saying help yourself… well not having virus software is basically doing the same!

I like the household edition because most households have a computer and a smart phone and in some even more.  We are not quite as fancy as some of our friends who have a tablet for each of their children!  Here the McAfee All Access 2012 Household shines, with this security suite you can protect up to five of your all-important devices (PC’s Macs, Tablets and Smartphones).  



I confess after my earlier spiel we actually did not even think about getting any anti-virus for our smart phone, how silly is that, considering you may be accessing sites like banking and personal emails when your out and about on the go, it is really important to show the same care you would for your home computer.  Earlier in the year there was many a news article about the direct link between smart phone usage and identity theft.  I let a sigh of relief out when the software removed a threat from our phone, how could we have not even considered it!

Some key McAfee features that can make you feel safer using a smart phone:

Complete Anti-virus, Anti-spyware, and Anti-phishing

This is the basis of most of the higher end security suites, it scans and clears and malicious coding found in emails, files attachments and SMS.

Safe Searching and Shopping

This great feature protects you against potential web threats by blocking risky links and phishing sites

Mobile Lock

With this handy feature you can remotely lock all data on your smart phone to prevent any misuse, which is especially useful if you lose your phone.

Remotely Wipe Data

With this element you can not only remotely erase all data on your phone but simultaneously backup data before to wipe commences.

Locate and Track

I wish I had this feature with my old phones, baby brain used to make it impossible to remember where I left the darn thing (that or the children sneak of and hide it!), if you lose your phone you can view its location on a map, send a SMS to prompt its return or make it scream by setting a remote alarm!  Hooray it was under the sofa all along!

The process to download and install this security suite was relatively easy. You need to create an account at McAfee's website input your product key and download via the account log in screen. For your smart phone you can input your telephone number and McAfee sends a free sms with a download link directly to your phone. It’s as simple as that!

McAfee is keeping my laptop safe and speedy:

Real-time Safeguards

Most security suites worth its salt has a real time scanner that assesses risks as they happen to help keep your pc secure.

Two-way Firewall

I have not really heard of a two way firewall I always thought they blocked incoming threats but this feature prevents malicious software from not only downloading but uploading too.

Pre-install Scan

As I said I have been infected with virus’s before but it always seems to be a struggle for hubby to get antivirus reinstalled, however this little gem helps remove infection from the moment software installs for the first time.

Fast Start-Up and Scan Times

The antivirus scanner is fast to load and runs quick without effecting the use of the computer.  No one wants to wait forever for a scan to complete, with it slowing down all your other programs especially if your busy trying to write a review to a deadline…

PC Tune-up

With McAfee “QuickClean” you can happily declutter your pc (browser files, unused applications and other un-needed files  get removed) – now we all love a bit of decluttering and freeing up memory giving the computer a much needed speed boost!  Shame it cannot get to work on my house next!

Game Blocking and Controls

Allowing you to block web-based and online play of PC games helps protect your children from chatting with strangers or limit the time they spend playing.  Now I will try and figure this one out on my own and block world of warcraft lol!  I will finally have my hubbie back!  Thank you McAfee, great for viruses and marital happiness!

This package costs £74.99 and provides one years cover for up to 5 devices with all of those great features I have outlined.  Purchasing this will definitely help your peace of mind as the parental controls feature is great for safe family surfing, you can relax knowing you are doing the best you can to protect your family.  It might seem slightly more than you would normally spend, but this level of security over 5 devices only works out at £14.99 per device, so for families with a multitude of technical gadgets this is a must!

Since installing the suite it has blocked over 6400 potentially malicious connections in just three days!  I think this is reason alone to head over to the McAfee website and find out more for yourself.



Available to buy from:



Introducing the Skylanders Giants

My son is somewhat of a hardcore fan when it comes to the Skylanders.  Since he had the original game for his birthday, he has been adding new characters to his collection on a regular basis.  Every time he has been particularly well behaved or achieved something extra special (like getting a certificate at Sports Day) he has warranted himself a new character.  


He currently has 21 and has completed the game, but his love of Skylanders does not end there, no he wants to level each of those characters, collect all the treasure and then with his gold unlock all of their skills.  He is also quite partial to finding silly hats dotted around the game and getting his character to wear them!

So he was exceptionally excited to see the Skylanders Arena at Lollibop and have a picture with Tree Rex, the giants are being called forward to help the Skylanders who are in a spot of bother... (seriously would you want to mess with this guy!)


His younger brother did not want to miss out on the action and had to have a picture with Jet Vac, who has a powerful vacuum device to fly through the skies.  With his fancy piece of kit he does not need to bother with his wings!


It was fun seeing all the children thrilled to learn more about the expansion, everyone was clambering to try and get picked to stand on the giant portal.  My son bless him did not get picked and it broke his heart as he knows so much Skylanders trivia!  Luckily we had been left a press set which included a new Dark Spyro, which suddenly nursed him back to health!  Phew!

Due for release in October, I am not sure we will be able to wait for Father Christmas.  It promises to be yet another epic yarn, with lots of re-playability.  Is it wrong that I am just as excited as him!!!

Keep an eye out on the website

Thursday, 23 August 2012

ZSL London Zoo Review

Our holiday to London would not have been complete without a visit to the Zoo.  


The boys delighting in the fact daddy is scared stiff of Peacocks (so planning their route!)

We had a lovely time strolling around seeing all the animals.  The enclosures are clean and well maintained.  The new Penguin Beach exhibit looks fantastic (I was slightly envious as it was so hot that day, I could have dived in myself!).  The penguins all looked very happy, chilling out in the water and sunbathing on the rocks.  It is a sign of a good zoo when the animals are so content and thriving.


Keeping with the penguin theme I have no excuse anymore to complain about missing sleep as poor penguins only ever have power naps:


There was so much to see and do, we actually did not leave ourselves enough time, and we could have easily spent another couple of hours walking around.  So I do recommend giving yourself a full day for your visit, especially if you have any little legs with you.  



Plus once they saw the face painting stand, zoo fair ground ride and bouncy castle, they just had to do all of that!!!


But it’s all based in one section so if you are watching the pennies you could give it a wide berth and try and skirt round it!

They have a very full schedule of live shows; a number of which had been inspired by the London 2012 games.  We managed to watch the Animal Athletes in Action and were very impressed.  The boys sat patiently watching, it was that good we had no wondering off or messing about, which meant it was worthy of their full on concentration.  I liked that after the show the presenter mentioned how the skills the animals are demonstrating are all about survival for them and talked a little about conservation, so it becomes more than just a parade but an important lesson for our children.



Other highlights for the boys were going through a tunnel and finding the sleeping Aardvarks.


They looked very rested; I must admit I was slightly envious, as I was dashing around everywhere after two very excited boys!  The boys also enjoyed jumping around in the little water fountain section, the only problem I had was getting them back out again!  There really is so much fun to be had here!

Making new friends!
On leaving the Zoo you had an opportunity to buy a keepsake booklet for £15.  On the way in I heard the lady say how much they cost and had not planned to buy it thinking you just got one picture and it was awfully expensive.  But the boys’ godmummy sneaked over and bought it for us anyway, I am so glad she did as you get so much more than one picture.  You get information on the animals, postcards with your picture on and two larger pictures, all with different backgrounds and animals on.  You also get to make a keyring and magnet to treasure.  So all in all, its not a bad deal!

Entrance would have cost us £72 (with booking online to save 10%) and given how many hours you could spend here I think it is a must see attraction.  Each enclosure has lots of information about the animals so it is a very educational experience.  My wildlife mad boys were in their element learning so many new facts.  


You can find out more information on the website.  A weekend to watch out for is the 1st – 2nd of September for the Little Creatures family festival, with lots of extra activities planned for your own wild animals!  Shame we do not live closer as we would definitely have wanted to come back for that.

London on a budget

It is surprising how much you can do in the capital on a restricted budget.  I thought we would be throwing money around the place left, right and centre and come home to nurse the overdraft.  But we did do a couple of lovely things for practically small change or no cost at all.

I loved the Rainbow Park full of coloured sand at South Bank Centre.  The boys were thrilled to see it, whenever we have played with sand before it has been the bog standard variety so this was a real treat.  Completely free, you just dive in to climb, build and play.


We were spoilt and treated to free whippy ice creams by Mastercard.  They do a timed treat because supposedly everyone deserves one!  For the five us of it was a huge bonus and simply priceless… I do not know how often they do this promotion but if you happy to be in the area look out for a notice board just in case.


Also at South Bank (close to the London Eye) we dished out a few pounds here and there and enjoyed some fairly unique and memorable photo opportunities with the living statues.  It was relatively inexpensive and the boys really enjoyed it!  I think a walk through this area is a fun experience.  There were other acts too, involving bubble nets, break dancers and musicians.  A good lively buzz in the air, lots of tourists milling around here!  I am just impressed the statues can stay still for so long, I would admit defeat after a couple of minutes. 


Finally of course there is no shortage of free museums, as time was limited we only went to the Natural History Museum, which was absolutely amazing.  I am so impressed that they can give free entry to such a well stocked and fabulously presented museum.  


My boys were in awe of the dinosaur exhibits.  Of course we did spend a small fortune in the gift shop, but I am sure you could side step the shop and make a sharp exit to save money!  I love that you can borrow a little explorer’s set, eldest was in his element wearing a little hat, diving into the backpack and checking out the clues.  


He was fascinated by the whole experience.  This is a must for any visit to London!