What's Happened? What's Happening? - Animals EVERYWHERE

10:53 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

What's Happened? What's Happening? was all about animals last week with a good few posts showing a few different places to get out and see our furry, feathered and scaly friends.

In What's Happened? half of the linked up posts featured animal-centred attractions with the highlights including Wendy and her family's visit to Chester Zoo and Eileen and her family's post about their sleepover at Paradise Wildlife Park! There were two other posts which I found really interesting too. Tami and her family visited the Jorvik Viking Centre in York. I lived in York for nearly three years after I finished university but never got around to going to Jorvik. I think we'll wait a few years before taking our two but it's definitely somewhere we would love to take them when they are older. The final one was Lisa at Hollybobb's day out at the Ideal Home Show North, I was invited to attend this but a poorly LM prevented me and Lisa's post gave me the chance to see what I missed. I was rather jealous of just how close she got to George Clarke!

What's Happening? featured the first ticket giveaway in that section, Ang from This is Life is giving tickets away to the Foodies Festival at Tatton Park. We had a great day out there last year so I'd definitely recommend entering if you can get to Tatton Park that weekend. Finally Jen from My Mummy's Pennies posted all about her wonderful plans for a World Cup Party, she'll definitely be celebrating the event in style, just a shame England didn't manage the same.

I know lots of you lovely bloggers have been busy at Britmums Live, have you been up to anything else? Are you planning any events? Please link up below in either What's Happened? or What's Happening? I'd love to know!

What's Happened? What's Happening?

The Alphabet Project - F is for Friends

23:29 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

I spent the last weekend at Britmums Live with an amazing group of ladies who I've got to know well over the last year or two. We stayed in a lovely hotel, enjoyed relaxing dinners and shuttled back and forth to the conference together. We were a group of nine which was the perfect number to spend time with everyone in smaller groups, spend time alone or all together. I think it was the perfect way to experience my first Britmums Live and I would love to repeat it next year.

There will be more on Britmums Live on the way, I'm still processing but this week F is for Friends.

Linking up with the lovely Charly at PODcast Dove who I was lucky enough to meet the morning after Britmums.

The Alphabet Project - F is for Friends

How to Babyproof Your Home

17:28 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Babyproofing is one of those crucial stages that every parent undertakes when their child starts to move independently. Little fingers get into cupboards and other places with surprising ease and stairs become a hazard the size of Mount Everest. With the Child Accident Prevention Trust’s annual Child Safety Week just around the corner (23-29 June 2014),  it's time to consider babyproofing and I'm going to offer some tips to make it easier.

How to babyproof your home
photo credit: pmeidinger via photopin cc

1. Stair Gates. These are the first thing that most parents purchase and think about when undertaking baby proofing. They come in all shapes and sizes now and there should be one suitable for virtually every home. Think carefully about how many you will need and where they will need to go. Top and bottom of the stairs are obvious but you may use them to close off access to other rooms, like the kitchen too. We had ours at the top of our stairs and across our lounge doorway as our hallway is very small and our stairs lead straight from it. We also chose a Lascal Kiddyguard safety gate which is retractable and perfect as an open gate doesn't obstruct the hallway.

2. Cupboard locks. We never actually bothered with these. I just made sure that the accessible cupboards didn't have anything dangerous in them, mainly because I spent about 20 minutes trying to get into one at a friend's house once, only to have to get her six year old to open the cupboard for me. Sigh. If swapping cupboard contents isn't an option then you can pick up packs of guards cheaply in a range of retailers. A friend uses the BabyDan locks and they seem very useful.

3. Plug socket covers. There is a lot of debate on these at the moment. We didn't use them but I know lots of people who do. Some people say that it can actually make it easier for a child to stick something in a socket as the socket covers hold the safety flap inside open. I've recently spotted these full plug covers which look safer and should eliminate the ability to keep flicking those switches too. Perfect to avoid those unfortunate 'switched off freezer' moments.

4. Door Stops. If you have heavy doors that are often left open in your home then door stops are the perfect way to ensure that you don't have little fingers slammed in doors.We have Jamm door stops and these work brilliantly. They fit on to the end of the door and are wedged on both sides which means that your child shouldn't be able to accidentally push a door open at all. Apparently 28000 children aged under 15 visit A&E every year with door injuries. It's an often overlooked area for childproofing. You can get lots of cute animal door stops but I'd avoid these as, to me, this is a safety item and shouldn't be eyecatching or attractive to little ones.

5. The Cooker and Oven. This is, obviously a very concerning area and you can buy a range of different safety devices which allow you to guard against hot oven doors, stove guards and knob covers. We've preferred to keep children out of the kitchen completely when cooking and this has worked well, if this is unavoidable then the various devices could definitely be considered. I don't know anyone who has used these so if you have any recommendations please leave them in the comments.

6. The Bathroom. It goes without saying that children should never be left unattended in the bathroom. There are ways to make bathtime safer though. A non-slip bath mat or adhesive non-slip stickers is always handy when placing little ones in and out of the bath and you can also buy guards to cover your taps and to lock your toilet! Bath thermometers are great if you aren't confident enough to use the 'elbow test', we love our Brother Max Ray Room and Bath Thermometer it doubles as a cute bath toy too.

It's important that babyproofing isn't regarded as a fix all. Children still need to be closely supervised. Similarly, as children get older they need to learn about risk. Toddlers need to be given the opportunity to practice going up and down stairs with a parent or carer close by to grab them if needed. As their understanding increases then the various safety devices can be removed as you can explain to your child that something is dangerous, that the oven will burn or that a cupboard is off limits.

Betta Living have created a one stop hub for child safety in support of Child Safety Week. Head over to their Safety in the Home page to take part in their 'How Safe is Your Home' survey for the chance to win £50, read blog posts, see their infographic and take their Hazard Awareness test (from 23rd June) to see how much you know about child safety in your home.

Have you babyproofed your home? What's your number one suggestion to make a baby or toddler's home safer?

In Association with Betta Living.

What's Happened? What's Happening? - Britmums and Lollibop

10:04 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Welcome to the third week of What's Happened? What's Happening? Last week saw an almost even number of What's Happened? to What's Happening? and there are some exciting plans afoot.

In What's Happened I saw the first blogger meet-up linked up when Steph from Seeing Spots posted her write up of the #WeBlogMCR meet. This sounded like a really relaxed, fun way to meet new bloggers and I'll definitely be trying to attend one of these in future. Knowsley Safari Park is one of our favourite local days out and Juggle Mum wrote up her family's day out there. I'd definitely recommend this attraction to anyone within reach of Merseyside, are you brave enough to drive through the baboon enclosure?

What's Happening featured two of the big blogger happenings for the forthcoming weeks. Britmums Live starts tomorrow and I am so excited. Two nights away with my best blogging friends and the chance to socialise, learn and have fun is going to be wonderful. Tami from Mummy of Two and Jen from My Mummys Pennies shared their excitement at attending the event and I'm going to be spending the weekend with both of them as we're staying in the same hotel. Can't wait! Lollibop is THE kid's festival for the summer and Grumpyishmum and The Princess and the Pickle will be attending this year at it's new venue, Hatfield House. The line up and range of activities sounds wonderful and we will definitely think about attending in future years.

What's Happened? What's Happening? is now live for this week's links. Have you been to a blogger event, for a day out, reviewed a restaurant, a film, a play?... Link to 'What's Happened?' Have you posted about an event which is in the future, maybe you have tickets to giveaway? What's Happening? is for you. The linky will be open until 23:55 on Monday 23rd to allow for all you Britmums Attendees to link up. I'd love it if you grabbed my badge too.

What's Happened? What's Happening?

The Alphabet Project - E is for Entrance

23:33 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

We were in Wales last week and there's no better way to while away a few hours than visiting a castle in the country that does castles best of all, I think. We took ourselves off to Pembroke and explored. The castle there is fantastic and we had a lovely couple of hours wandering around all of the towers and corridors and small exhibitions. I would definitely recommend it.

I took this photo on my phone. I love doors, whether open or shut, and can't resist snapping them. This week E is for Entrance.

Pembroke Castle Entrance

Linking up to The Alphabet Project at PODcast Dove

Win a Tempur Pillow from Booth's Furniture Ltd

15:16 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

I have a tormented relationship with pillows. I struggle to find one that I really like and am often to be found wrestling with them at night. I end up replacing them all the time and am usually unhappy with them. When the people at Booth's Furniture contacted me to ask if I'd like to try out a Tempur pillow I didn't hesitate in accepting.

Booth's Furniture are Tempur specialists and sell the Tempur range at http://www.boothsfurnitureltd.co.uk/  They are just down the road from me in Eccles, Manchester and sell a huge range of beds, mattresses, pillows and accessories in their showroom and online. They have been established for over fifty years, with dedicated and experienced staff they can offer any advice you may need in purchasing a bed or mattress.

Booth's Furniture Tempur Pillow

I was sent the Tempur  Traditional Pillow, which retails at £75. The first thing to note is the weight of the pillow. It's supplied in it's own blue storage bag and has a considerable weight to it. It's standard pillow size but much deeper that the pillows I have been using recently. When placing the pillow inside a pillowcase it can be a little tricky to make it fit properly. The pillow is large but, with a bit of careful wriggling it will slide down and completely fill the case.
Tempur works using the original Tempur envelope and contains shredded factory materials to give a soft, comfortable feel whilst maintaining the pressure relief. The foam conforms automatically to the shape of your head and neck, and offers multifunctional support throughout the night.
I usually use up to four pillows in some complicated arrangement but decided to just use the Tempur pillow. I was pleasantly surprised.  When you place your head on to the pillow it gently settles into the pillow for a very comfortable experience. I can only describe it as like sleeping on a cloud! I carry a lot of tension in my neck and I've noticed, after a couple of days use, that this feels better. My main issue has been taking back the pillow when Bud invades my bed every night and tries to hog it!

Hopefully you can see top right that I've placed my hand on the pillow and you can clearly see the outline. That shows how much the pillow adjusts to your shape for added comfort. The cover of the pillow is beautifully soft too.

Booths Furniture have kindly offered me the opportunity to give away one of these fantastic Tempur pillows to one of my lucky readers. To enter please complete the Gleam widget below. The blog post comment is compulsory and will unlock a range of additional entry options. Please read the terms and conditions.

Booth's Furniture Tempur Pillow

Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com 
Disclosure: I received the pillow for review purposes.

Mixtape Monday - 16/06/2014

22:09 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

We're back from a week away and have been enjoying the sunshine over the last few days. I have had a song in my head for days which has to be my Mixtape Monday. I kinda love Florence and the Machine. Her voice is awesome and I love that she does her own thing and she has uh-may-zing hair.

This song really resonates with me. The music is great for driving around in the sunshine with the windows low and the stereo loud. It makes you want to move. I think the lyrics are a good reminder too, everyone needs to shake that devil off their back every now and again, if they can.

Clara Unravelled

I'm wearing Kaliko to Britmums Live

16:24 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

A couple of weeks ago I had a rather exciting invitation. The PR for the Jacques Vert group offered to take me shopping and, with Britmums Live fast approaching, I knew that it would be the perfect occasion to select an outfit for.

The Jacques Vert group comprises a range of household name brands including Jacques Vert themselves, Kaliko, Planet, Precis Petite, Minuet Petite, Windsmoor, Eastex and Dash. We immediately decided that Planet and Kaliko would be the best ranges for me to try and hit the Debenhams Manchester concessions to see what would suit me.

I will admit to being unfamiliar with the brands in the Jacques Vert group and I wasn't completely convinced that I would find something that suited me. I was pleasantly surprised as I spotted items that drew my eye as soon as I walked into the Planet and Kaliko sections of the store. I was ably assisted by the wonderful staff who gave me their expert opinions during my epic trying on session and even suggested a few items that I would never have picked up for myself.

When I'd tried on what felt like a hundred dresses and separates I narrowed it down to two outfits, the Isla Day Dress and the Frida Print Skirt teamed with the True Blue Jersey Top I couldn't actually decide between the two so I left it to the Kaliko team to decide which of the two to send me. I was utterly delighted to open the resulting parcel and find the top and skirt and I will be wearing these on the Saturday of Britmums Live. This photo of the skirt really doesn't do it justice, it's beautiful and was the very first thing I spotted on my shopping trip.

Kaliko for Britmums Live

I'm going to be teaming the outfit with a pair of Lotus espadrille wedges from QVC or my trusty fitflops and I've also treated myself to a day dress to wear on the Friday. I'll have all of my bits in my much loved Mia Tui Steel Blue Minnie Amelie. I'm so looking forward to this weekend, meeting up with friends old and new and spending some child-free time with a lovely group of ladiies. I can't wait to wear my outfit!

What are you wearing to Britmums Live?

All items featured are PR samples.

Banking on the Go with Natwest

23:00 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

We use a couple of banks in our house but Ian has been a Natwest customer for a long time so they are the providers of his main account. When they offered us the opportunity to try out their mobile app we were both intrigued. Both of use are regular users of online banking and telephone banking too, the idea of being able to bank on the go without having to call is definitely appealing.

To access the app you need to be a Natwest current account holder with a debit card, online banking and a mobile phone number starting in 07. The app can be used on iPhone, Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry, as well as the iPad. To get started simply download the app on to your chosen platform (we used the iPad), you will need your online banking customer number, postcode and debit card details and then, when registered, it will take around 24 hours for your account to be approved. You'll need to create a passcode during registration and it's this that will allow you to access the app.

Natwest mobile app iPad Home Screen

For more information on how to download the mobile banking app and test these functions please visit http://personal.natwest.com/personal/ways-to-bank-with-us/mobile-banking.html

The mobile app has some really great features which make banking super easy.

1) Easy Payments and Transfers
You can move money around really easily with this feature. Whether it's friends or family, or bills. Simply select one of the accounts you regularly transfer money to or from then confirm and transfer or pay the bills. To add a new account you will need to use online banking but, in future you will be able to use the app.

2) Check Account Balances On the Go
You can access a mini statement wherever you are. Simply select the account you need and it will show balance and your six most recent transactions. Great for at a glance checking to see if a payment has been made or sent.

3) Get Cash Out without your Card
Ian is continuously forgetting his bank card so I think this facility will work brilliantly for him. Provided you have at least £25 available funds in your account you can be issued with a cash code which will allow you to get up to £250 from a Natwest, RBS or Tesco cashpoint. Cash codes are valid for three hours and only one can be used at any one time but it's a fantastic idea for the forgetful amongst us. They even supply a handy map of local branches and cashpoints to make using the service even easier

Natwest mobile app iPad Branch and cash machine screen

The app definitely seems like one that we will use regularly and it will be great not to have to switch the laptop on to access bank account details in future.

Natwest realise that all mums need a helping hand sometimes and have come up with a few helpful tricks for us to make life a little easier.

Bud is learning left and right at the moment and we received a brilliant tip. Simply select a brightly coloured sticker and cut it in half. Stick one half in each shoe and show your child that, when the picture is matched up, each shoe goes on the corresponding foot. I'm hoping this will help with ensuring shoes go on the right foot.

Half a sticker in each shoe to help learn left from right

Bud is loving collecting cards at the moment, especially those featuring dinosaurs but it can be tricky for little hands to hold too many cards. A simple egg box can be used to stand up cards. Simply cut down into each egg cup and stand the cards up. So effective!

Egg box card stand

All of these little life hacks are so simple when they are shared. Do you have any simple little tips that make every day life easier for you? If you do and would like to chat more about the app then why not join in with the #MumsMagicTricks Twitter party on Tuesday 24 June from 13:00 – 14:00.

Disclosure: This project is in conjunction with BritMums for their #MumsMagicTricks challenge with NatWest and RBS.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Best of the Original Series Giveaway

09:27 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

There's a new obsession in our house which has been quietly building for some time. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are Bud's new love and, the opportunity to review a few Turtles toys, and now the addition of four of the Original Series DVDs for review, means that the familiar and very catchy theme tune is getting a regular airing in our house.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Logo

I remember Teenage Mutant Hero (Ninja was deemed too controversial for a kids' TV show in those days) Turtles airing back in the 80s and watching it with my younger brother so I was really interested to see what Bud would make of the original series. We received all four of 'The Best of...' DVDs, one for each of the turtles. Each DVD contains three episodes designed to show off Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael and Donatello's finest moments.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Best of DVD covers

We've been watching the DVDs on repeat in our house, they even came away with us last week as we knew our accommodation would have a DVD player. The animation, whilst having an 80's feel, has stood the test of time and Bud finds it compelling. The stories and action are just as good today as they were on their launch around 30 years ago and it's wonderful to see my son enjoying something that was a part of my childhood.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles DVDs are available from Amazon and all the usual stockists with an RRP of £6.

I've teamed up with Lionsgate UK to offer two of my readers the chance to win one of the DVDs each (randomly selected). To enter simply complete the Gleam widget below. The blog post comment is compulsory and will unlock a range of additional options. Please read the terms and conditions.

Best of TMNT DVDs

Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com 

What's Happened? What's Happening? - Historic Days Out

08:00 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

I so enjoyed reading all of your posts that were linked up to the first week of What's Happened? What's Happening? I've read and shared every one and I'm hoping, as the weeks go by, that this linky will grow and it will become somewhere that's the first stop for anyone writing up an event post.

Every week I'm going to be featuring a couple of the previous week's posts. In What's Happened? these might be those that I loved, I wished I'd been to or just posts that I thought were a brilliant summary of exactly what their author got up to. If I have a few posts linking to the same event then you'll see that reflected too.  In What's Happened it will, hopefully, be events that I want to shout about a little, especially if they are ongoing or haven't happened yet.

Last week saw fifteen link ups to What's Happened and there were some brilliant posts, from blogger picnics to The Baby Show, and crazy golf to cBeebies Land, I think there was something for everyone! My featured posts this week represent some of our favourite things to do as a family though - visit historic sites. We're in Wales this week and we've visited a couple of castles, my children love to wander all over them and Bud is really starting to imagine how life must have been 'in the olden days Mummy.' Bex from ClearlyBex linked up her family's visit to Blists Hill Victorian Town in Ironbridge. We visited Ironbridge when Bud was a baby and I'd love to go back with him and his sister now he is old enough to understand better. It's a fantastic family day out. Bex also has reviews of some of the other sites in Ironbridge as her family are reviewing them all, well worth a read if you are planning a visit.

My second choice for What's Happened features somewhere I would love to visit, and somewhere that is quite similar to Ironbridge, in that it has a varied range of attractions in a small area. Mama Frog and Froggy went to Beaulieu Abbey proving that children are never too young to get out and explore. They have written about other attractions at Beaulieu too. I think both Bex and Mama Frog both have a great series of posts here and I might have to bump Beaulieu up our 'to visit' list.

In What's Happening? 'A Family Day Out' wrote a brilliant post with a long list of ideas for ways to get out and about in June. I think most people will find something that they can access in that list, I was particularly interested in Lego Brick City at the Titanic Museum in Belfast. Northern Ireland always looks so beautiful and combining this amazing museum with Lego has to be a sure fire hit. Another post which, while it doesn't feature history, I can't bear to leave out, is Kiddy Reviews' visit to Baby Friendly Odeon Cinema screenings. I wish I'd seen these when Bud was a baby. The cinema has long been a passion of mine and it's something I seldom get to indulge now, anything that makes it easier for adults to keep visiting the cinema, at least for a little while, when they have children deserves promoting.

So, here's this week's linky. As usual, it is in two sections. First 'What's Happened'  and then 'What's Happening'. Please link up to two posts in each section and, why not check out the rest of the links while you are here? I'd love it if you would add my badge to your post too. Remember to look out for #WHWH on Social Media.

What's Happened? What's Happpening - Historic Days Out

MixTape Monday - 11/06/14

09:00 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Yes, I know it's Wednesday but I forgot. We're away and the wireless is intermittent. I do so love this linky though so here's this week.

We've been driving all over Pembrokeshire this week and, for some unknown  reason, Bud has decided that 'The Eye of the Tiger' is his favourite song. We don't have an MP3 player in the car so rely on CDs and the only one that we own which features this song is one called 'American Anthems' - a heady mix of power ballads and hair rock. It has definitely become the soundtrack for our holiday.

I'm not going to choose the predictable one that Bud has had us singing all week, I'm going for one that appears third on this CD (after 'The Eye of the Tiger' and 'Maniac' of course), yes, it's Starship and yes, the video is hilarious but I actually love this song. It's great in the car too.

Don't judge me...

Clara Unravelled

The Alphabet Project - D is for Daisies

22:00 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

This isn't the photo I wanted to link up. I have a brilliant one, that I love and I can't find it. Anywhere. It's not on my phone, or on my PC. It should be in both of those locations. Maybe I actually dreamed that snapshot? Who knows. Anyway, this leaves me in need of a 'D'. This isn't the one I wanted to link up but I do love a Daisy, so here's a little cluster of them I found today at Pembroke Castle.

The Alphabet Project - D is for Daisies

Linking up to The Alphabet Project at PODcast Dove

Bud's Little Laners Wishlist and a Chance to Win

08:00 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

As a Mum with two under fives I do find it a struggle to find quirky, fun items for my children to wear and to decorate their rooms with. The high street can all seem a little generic and samey and that means that it can all seem a little uninspiring sometimes. When The Lost Lanes got in touch recently to tell me about their brand new children's section, Little Laners, I was a little excited! I know the main site already and their eclectic mix of gifts, clothing, accessories, jewellery (oh, the jewellery!) and homeware is a perfect one stop shop for anyone looking for something a little quirky and unique.

The Lost Lanes

The new kids section at The Lost Lanes, Little Laners, sees the same mix of products as in the main range carried through. The collection launches today, 9th June and promises a 'quirky, bright, bold and a creative collection for little heads with HUGE imaginations'. Little Laners will feature a range of designers who might not quite fit into other sites, and The Lost Lanes are very proud to be featuring them in their first junior collection.

I've had a sneak peek of the Little Laners collection and I'm so impressed. I thought the simplest way of telling you about it might be to show you! So I've pulled together a little wishlist collage for Bud. Let's see exactly what I'd love for him.

Little Laners Bud's Dinosaur Wishlist

How amazing are these? Bud is four now and he knows his own mind. He knows exactly what he wants to wear and how. He loves dinosaurs but I get a bit tired of the boring prints on the high street. These bright and colourful tees can even be personalised with your child's name! I love the lime green bottom right but I think Bud would prefer to become a T-Rex in orange and brown stripes.

Homeware is especially tricky for children and I adore Little Laners' designers unique take on it. The Dinosaurs take London print would be awesome for any young dino fan's wall and you can take it with you as the print is also available on a fab swimbag and washbag too. What child who loves dinosaurs wouldn't be impressed by a T-Rex running amok in London and stomping on the iconic red bus?

I know Bud would adore this Dinosaurs! Cushion from Ohh Deer. He has amassed a wealth of knowledge about dinosaurs over the last year or so and loves to recognise them and name them. He's also really interested in imaging what colour dinosaurs were, as that's the one thing we can never know really, so this bright take on dino skin would be very popular too.

If you'd like to keep in touch with The Lost Lanes and see the launch of Little Laners follow them on  Facebook and Twitter.

I've teamed up with The Lost Lanes to offer a giveaway of my favourite Dinosaur product - the Dinosaurs! cushion. To enter please complete the Gleam widget below. The blog post comment is compulsory and will unlock a range of additional entries. Please read the terms and conditions.

Little Laners Dinosaurs!
Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com

Don't Laugh from Drumond Park - Review and Giveaway

22:28 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Drumond Park are a regular feature in our family time now, especially when we spend time with the extended family and, as we're all board game fans, they are always popular. The latest game we have tried is a little different to usual as the main aim is, simply, to make your opponent laugh! Don't Laugh is an electronic board game and we had a lot of fun playing it.

Don't Laugh from Drumond Park

Don't Laugh is played using an electronic microphone, game board and 200 joke cards (which feature six jokes each). The microphone requires 3xAAA batteries (not included). The game is played by four players or teams and in turn each player takes a card from the space in the centre of the board and reads a joke. They then press a button on the microphone to start a timer and, depending on which square on the board you are on, have the option of pressing buttons on the microphone to make funny sounds - like silly phrases, laughing and farting. Every person who laughs scores a point for the joke teller and they then move their counter forwards one space for each person. 

Don't Laugh Game Board

We played Don't Laugh after a family barbecue in two teams of four and had so much fun. This might have been aided by Bud joining in. He's at that age where he loves silly jokes and word play so he thought every joke was hilarious and set everyone else off  laughing all the time! I'm not sure this is a game that you would get out on every occasion. It's one of those that you need to play when everyone is in a good mood and wants to laugh. I can imagine a bad day wouldn't be the best preparation! As we'd had a lovely day together this game fitted in really well. You don't need a big space to play this game, the board is quite small and, as long as you have a flat surface to play on, the microphone can be passed hand to hand so it would work well for parties. 

Playing Don't Laugh

All of the component parts for the game are the usual high Drumond Park quality, and the microphone adds an extra fun dimension to the game play. With 1200 jokes in total it's unlikely that you would run out of jokes to tell and, anyway, the fact that you've heard them before doesn't stop them being funny, especially when you have a four year old chuckling at the punchline.

Don't Laugh is aimed at players aged 8 and over. I think this is fair. Bud loved playing along with everyone but he needed help to understand the rules and I don't think he would be able to operate the microphone on his own. I can imagine this game would be incredibly popular with the tween age group and it would make a fab birthday present for the 8-12 age group. I think it would be extremely popular for birthday parties and sleepovers. 

Don't Laugh is available at Amazon and all usual stockists. For more information, and to hear some of the fun microphone noises check out the Don't Laugh page on the Drumond Park website. The RRP is £19:99.

I've teamed up with Drumond Park to offer one of my readers the opportunity to win a copy of Don't Laugh. To enter, simply complete the Gleam widget below. The blog post comment is compulsory and will unlock a range of additional entries. Please read the terms and conditions.

Don't Laugh from Drumond Park

Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com

What's Happened? What's Happening? - The First One

07:59 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

A couple of days ago I posted introducing my brand new linky - 'What's Happened, What's Happening?' - and here's the first post where I'm inviting you to link up your events, past or future and share them with everyone else.

As bloggers we tend to attend a good few events whether invited by PRs, meeting up with other members of our blogging community or simply attending something in our local areas which provides great material for an interesting blog post. Have you been to a film premiere, seen a play, visited an interesting exhibition? Enjoyed a local carnival, a day out at a theme park or a 'bloggers only' event?

I've never spotted a linky which is specifically for us to shout about those events and put them all in one place so, as events are one of my favourite things about blogging, I've decided to take on the mantle and have created 'What's Happened, What's Happening.'

This is slightly different from many linkies as I'm giving you the opportunity to link up in two sections.

Firstly we have 'What's Happened'.
Link up here with your posts talking about where you have been, what you have been up to. Share your fabulous photos and videos and generally tell everyone how great it was!

Secondly is 'What's Happening'.
Are you promoting a forthcoming event, giving away tickets or generally just very excited about something that is to come? Link up in this section.

There are no rules, link up a couple of posts in either, or both sections. It can be an old post if you like, or something that you're still smiling about from seeing in the last week or so. My badge code is at the bottom and it would be fantastic if you could add it your post too.

The linky will be open every Thursday morning until Sunday evening and I'll be commenting on and sharing every post linked up. If you're tweeting use the hashtag #WHWH and I'll spot it!

I'm excited! I can't wait to see what you've been up to or are planning.

What's Happened? What's Happening?

What's Happened? What's Happening? #WHWH

14:48 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Events are my favourite part of blogging. The opportunities to visit places, have experiences and meet up with the wonderful people who form the blogging community I am proud to be a part of are some of the most exciting days, and posts to write. I love reading other bloggers' accounts of the places they have been and events they have attended too. Similarly, lots of bloggers work with events in the run up to their being staged and have a really useful purpose in keeping everyone well informed about them.

It recently occurred to me that there isn't a linky which allows bloggers to share their accounts of where they have been, what they have been up to, or their posts about forthcoming events. I've decided to remedy that. What's Happened? What's Happening? is my brand new linky where I hope you will take the opportunity to link up your posts. If it's an account of somewhere you have been to then pop it into the first part of the linky 'What's Happened?, from days out to local festivals, theatre trips or visits to exhibitions, in addition to all of the blogging events you attend,, pop up to two links in there. If you are promoting a forthcoming event, show, gig, exhibition or festival then 'What's Happening' is for you. It's also a great place to link up tickets giveaways. Feel free to link up posts in both categories.

Every week I'll be featuring posts from the previous week, sometimes with a theme, sometimes simply because 'I wish I'd been there'.  I'll also be highlighting the best of 'what's happening.' I'll be reading every post, and sharing them on Twitter using #WHWH.

The linky will be live every Thursday morning and open until Sunday evening. I hope to see you there.

What's Happened? What's Happening?

Bank Holiday Fun with the Skoda Superb

08:00 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Did you know that, over the course of your lifetime, you will spend a total of three years in your car?
You'll drive a distance equal to the moon and back?
You will spend six months waiting for a green light?
Twenty-three hours in a car wash?
And, maybe, twenty seconds in a flock of sheep!
If you are spending that much time in your car Skoda think you should do it in comfort, in their Skoda Superb!

Over the bank holiday weekend Skoda loaned us one of their Superb estate cars and challenged us to get out and enjoy the weekend - banish those bank holiday blues! We took delivery of the Skoda Superb on Friday morning, and whilst we didn't really have anything specific planned, we knew we had all those little trips that every weekend requires, and a day out to make the most of our weekend too.

Bank Holiday Family Fun with the Skoda Superb Estate

The Skoda Superb is a strikingly attractive car, sleekly curved and shiny silver. It's a large car, and the estate version has a really commanding presence. Our current car fits us in well but we do sometimes struggle when we are going away or have a lot of luggage. Our boot, especially can sometimes be on the small side for everything a family with two pre-school children needs. The first thing I registered, ever the practical one, was the size of the Superb's boot. When we packed it I was able to place my Cosatto Yo! stroller in lengthways, bottom wheels first and then close the boot door. I've never actually seen a car where the boot doesn't force you to place an umbrella fold pushchair either diagonally or horizontally across it. This car has significant storage! Speaking of closing the boot door you can open and close this one automatically. You open using a button on the key then close by pressing a button inside the door. Zero effort, super easy. We also noticed that there was a plug socket in the boot and thought that would be great for picnics or camping trips.

The huge Skoda Superb boot

The inside of the car is just as impressive. The front passenger side has legroom for days. I'm 5'5" and when I sat in the passenger seat I could only reach the end of the footwell with my tiptoes. The room in the back is just as good. We easily fitted Bud's Group 2 car seat and LM's Group 1 Isofix seat. We can get three car seats across the back seat in our car but I think you would struggle with this in the Superb. The back seat is wide but I suspect it wouldn't be wide enough for anything other than a simple booster seat, with no back support in there. We did have my mother in law in the car so I sat in the back, in the middle, for a short journey, and found it comfortable. This isn't really an issue for us as, if anyone does use our middle seat it is usually an adult or my older niece or nephew. All of the seat covers are made of beautifully soft leather too.

The entertainment console is a thing of wonder. The main screen controls the built in DAB radio, DVD Player, CD Player and Satellite Navigation service. This was super easy to use and really instinctive. I'm always in charge of setting our destination and I found the satnav easy to programme. Ian was really impressed that the instructions appeared behind the wheel so he could follow them easily. We did have a couple of issues with directions but this happens with most systems I think. The DAB radio was really excellent, with great sound quality. It allowed me to listen to my favourite radio station - Absolute Radio 90's - all weekend, something I don't get to do in our car! The DVD player has a small screen but we only realised that it was there on our final day so we didn't get the chance to try it. I'm sure Bud would love it though.

Skoda Superb Centre Console

The centre console also offers climate control and the ability for both the front seat passenger and the driver to control their own environment. This is perfect for us as I run a few degrees cooler than Ian so I could turn my heating up and switch on the seat warmer, very soothing for my sore back, while Ian turned his down to keep himself cool.

As I don't drive Ian had the pleasure of driving all weekend. We were testing an Automatic so this was a little unusual for him and it took him a while to get used to not having to change gear. The Superb has demonstrable power and the kick of acceleration on the motorway was something none of us were used to. It's a super smooth and quiet ride and, despite doing around 200 miles over the weekend we struggled to use half of the tank of diesel.

I think many people immediately look to the people carrier style cars as the default for a young family these days but I do think that the Skoda Superb showed us beautifully how well it would serve us as a family. We're going away next week and I know that the Superb would contain all of our luggage in it's boot without having to pack the main passenger compartment as we do with our car. It's a really stylish, comfortable car and would be great for any family's use. Skodas have come a very long way over the last couple of decades and we wouldn't hesitate to consider one as a future family car for us.

The Skoda Superb definitely lives up to it's name.

Check out www.skoda.co.uk for more information about the Superb and to find out how to book a 24 hour test drive.

Disclosure:  We were loaned the Skoda Superb for four days over the Bank Holiday weekend.

Helping Allergies with the Dyson Cinetic

15:07 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Last Tuesday I set my alarm for very early, no-one ever wants to get up at a time starting with 'five', do they? I had good reason for this though as I was heading to London to see Dyson and their brand new Cinetic vacuum cleaner. As an allergy sufferer I'm always sneezing, in fact today is a bad hayfever day and I'm struggling, so any company which makes products that will help with this is always interesting.

Dyson Cinetic Launch Event

Dyson are one of the few companies who take allergy sufferers seriously. In 2001 they spent over £100,000 building a microbiology lab to fully investigate the nasties that lurk in our carpets and furniture, and to constantly improve how Dyson appliances can help to get rid of them! Dyson were the first company to bring in the bagless vacuum cleaner in 1993, interestingly, until last year we were still using one of the first Dyson vacuum cleaners, a DC01 passed on from my Grandmother, that was approaching 20 years of age. When we replaced ours we passed it on to my brother who is still using it with good results.

Checking out the Dyson Cinetic Vacuum Cleaner

Of course removing the bag from vacuum cleaners meant less mess and less reduction in suction but there were still filters to remove and wash, or replace every so often. With the Cinetic, filters are a thing of the past. 

James Dyson says: “Getting rid of bags solved the frustration of my vacuum losing suction. But washing filters - or worse – buying them, is still a nuisance. Dyson Cinetic™ cyclones are so efficient at separating microscopic particles that everything gets thrust into the bin, and you can forget about fussy filters.

So how does it work?

It's all in the cyclones. Dyson have reduced the size of their cyclones which allows them to generate higher centrifugal forces and capture tinier, microscopic particles. Unfortunately the tighter a cyclone is the more it leads to blocking. The challenge was to keep the size and minimise blocking. This was achieved by making the cyclone tips from a top-secret polymer which are agitated by the airflow, causing an oscillation pattern which stops the dust sticking to them. Very clever.

It took 50 attempts to get the cyclone just right, using different materials. If the tips were too hard they don't oscillate enough to move the particles through into the bin, too soft and the airflow causes the cyclones to shut, blocking them off.

Explaining the Dyson Cinetic Vacuum Cleaner

The Dyson Cinetic also arrives with a mattress tool which can be used to vacuum mattresses and pillows and remove all of those dust mites (and their faeces, yuck) which can cause allergic reactions. The turbine head is made from carbon fibre, with stiff bristles to remove dirt effectively, and ultra-fine antistatic carbon fibre filaments to remove fine dust on hard floors. We have wooden floors and tiles in our downstairs rooms so this would be fantastic for us.

As you will see from the photos, the Dyson Cinetic is a cylinder vacuum cleaner which uses the Dyson ball technology to ensure it is easy to pull on even the deepest of pile. It has an articulating chassis and a central pivot point for tight corners too.

Allergy sufferers will also be pleased to see that they can remove the dust bin and empty it by pressing a button and depositing it into the bin.

We were also treated to a demo of the Dyson DC50, Dyson's latest upright cleaner and this video shows how clear it was to see the difference in suction between the Dyson and a competitor.

The Dyson Cinetic is a really impressive vacuum cleaner and is available now. If you buy through a major retailer at the moment, and trade in your old vacuum cleaner you can receive £100 off any Dyson vacuum cleaner. Perfect if you are planning an upgrade.

For more information visit www.dyson.co.uk/

Disclosure: I was invited to the event by Dyson and provided with travel and a goodie bag.

Win New Digger Designs from Tractor Ted

10:00 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Our friends over at Tractor Ted have launched a brand new range featuring big machines! The new Digger Designs range has been created to complement some of the books and DVDs which already feature heavy machinery - Tractor Ted Big Machines and More Big Machines - in addition to the classic farm machinery featured across the Tractor Ted range.

The Digger Designs range has launched with two products - a thermal lunch bag and a rucksack - in classic blue with designs featuring Tractor Ted and a range of heavy construction machinery, with the slogan 'Tractor Ted gets to work with a little help from his friends' the two new items will be the perfect back to school purchase for any Tractor Ted, or construction fan.

Tractor Ted Digger Designs Thermal Lunch Bag and Rucksack

The rucksack and thermal lunch bag featuring Digger Designs will launch on 1st July and be available at www.tractorted.co.uk, priced at £8:99 for the thermal lunch bag and £12 for the rucksack.

I've teamed up with Tractor Ted to offer a thermal lunch bag and a rucksack. One winner will receive the lunch bag, another will receive the rucksack. Please enter using the Gleam widget below, ensuring you read the terms and conditions. The blog post comment is compulsory and will unlock a range of additional entries.

Tractor Ted Digger Designs
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