My Sunday Photo 31/08/2014

00:06 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

#MySundayPhoto Lego Building


CALAFANT Treehouse - Review and Giveaway - #AsobiAmbassador

10:45 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Recently we had a lovely opportunity - to become guest Asobi Ambassadors for the month of August and promote the CALAFANT range of cardboard construction kits. CALAFANT has an extensive range of these kits aimed at a range of ages and it was a hard decision to choose which we would like. In the end, following Bud's fascination with the Eurocamp treehouses on our recent holiday, that was an obvious selection.

CALAFANT Treehouse

CALAFANT kits are designed to be built, decorated and played with. Opening the box sees a series of cut out pieces and an instruction sheet. This recommends that you allow thirty minutes for construction, I found ours took about fifteen minutes. Each piece is cut very cleanly and all tabs and slots are exactly where they should be. It was simple to build as a result and it is sturdy when completed.

CALAFANT Treehouse Pieces

There are lots of details which are pre-cut into the design, with a balcony, doors and windows and a staircase all adding to how attractive the model is. Bud  loves the cut outs in the tree canopy part of the model and we've had lots of his little figures, animals and dinosaurs visiting it through the holes. It's an impressive build and stands around 60cm high! I found it quite impressively engineered and was really pleased with it once built.

All of the pieces are white so you build a plain white model. This is then meant to be a blank canvas for your child to decorate as they wish. In theory. Bud was aghast at the idea that we would decorate the treehouse, sadly, and insisted that we kept it 'all nice and lovely'. Sigh. I'm planning to get it out when his older cousins next visit and we will see if his very artistic girl cousin can persuade him to personalise it!

CALAFANT Treehouse Built

On to play. When I was building the treehouse I was sceptical as to whether Bud would enjoy playing with it. It's important to note that, even though it is sturdy, it will come apart if your child is too rough with it and I thought my heavy handed four year old might be. However, he's quite gentle with it and has really enjoyed playing with it with his animals and little men. It's been quite sweet to watch him play imaginatively, placing toy animals in the tree top and talking about which animals live in the trees and what they eat and where they would sleep. It's been used in much the same way as his toy farm and castle and I've been surprised to see this. Even without the decorating there is enough detail to keep him interested and the treehouse has found pride of place on his bedroom shelf, next to his castle and rocket. The CALAFANT range is a mixture of toy, craft and junk modelling and I must admit I wasn't sure about it when we were chosen for the project, I've definitely been persuaded otherwise though and I'm planning to pick up a couple of the small models for Bud for Christmas. Let's see if we can persuade him to decorate those!

CALAFANT Treehouse Play

CALAFANT toys are stocked by who are offering 20% of the CALAFANT range in September. Simply use the code CALAFANT at checkout to secure your discount.

I've teamed up with Asobi to give one of my readers the chance to win their own treehouse to build, decorate and play with. 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.

Calafant Treehouse

There are nine other CALAFANT reviews and giveaways this month. Check out the following blogs for the chance to win other CALAFANT models.

Susan K Mann - Robot
A Mummy Too - Pirate Ship
Lilinha Angel's World - Pirate Ship
Dancing In My Wellies - Pirate Ship
Hello From Jo - Horse and Carriage
Blog By Baby - Robot

Asobi Ambassadors

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What's Happened? What's Happening? - Preparing for Back to School

09:51 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

The Summer holidays are fading away and everyone is either back in school or enjoying their last week of the holidays but I know you're all still out there enjoying days out and making the most of time together as a family.

I'm getting around your links and there are some fascinating days out featured. I love a good air show so Family Fever's account of Dawlish Air Show is a must read for me. We always seem to miss the air shows local to us. I must get one in the diary for next year.

Tami from Mummy of Two and Jai from Kiddy Reviews have been exploring on family holidays with trips to Edinburgh Zoo and Bath respectively, while Grumpyishmum shares a camping trip to a site we have visited - Red Bank Farm. It's a lovely site for a family stay and we really enjoyed it too.

I'm seeing lots of Summer round ups being posted and I'd love to see a few of those linking up next week. It's great to read all about the fun you have been up to!

In What's Happening, That Lancashire Lass is looking forward to Burnley Beer Festival. Another local one for us, best not to tell Ian about it, it sounds right up his street!

What have you been up to? What are you planning?

I'd love you to link up your blog posts to What's Happened? - featuring events, days out, holidays, film, theatre and restaurant reviews and any other 'happeneds'. What's Happening? is the place for you to link your event previews, ongoing events and ticket giveaways.

I read and comment on every one and share on Twitter, Facebook. Google+, Pinterest and StumbleUpon.

I've created a Pinterest board where I pin all of your posts, feel free to follow it.

As always, I would love it if you would add the linky badge to your post to direct your readers here

What's Happened? What's Happening?

The Gallery: Summer

10:22 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

I haven't joined in with The Gallery for ages but I do like seeing the prompts and responses to it. When I saw the prompt this week I knew I had to join in. I'm still writing up lots of my Summer posts but I've wanted to share this photo for ages.

We've had a busy Summer, full of holidays, days out and fun. Bud starts school in a week (sob!) and we wanted to make these last few weeks before losing him to school days memorable. This photo was taken on our first holiday of the Summer at Bluestone Wales. It's a selfie snapped on a tractor ride. It's not the most glamorous shot, I certainly don't look my best, but it shows us doing what we do best - getting out and about as a family and enjoying being together. I love it and it makes me smile every time I see it.

Summer Selfie - The Gallery

Head over to Sticky Fingers to see the photos that others have linked up showing their Summer. Which photo would represent yours?

Smooth Operators — Using Blenders to Encourage Children to Eat Healthier

09:33 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Leafy greens less than popular at the dinner table these days? Get your kids to eat their five-a-day by sneaking them fruit and vegetables in a form that resembles a milkshake from a fast food chain. Often associated with post-Pilates meal substitutes or tropical locales, smoothies are somewhat undervalued when it comes to nourishing the younger members of your family. Notoriously picky about foods that grow in the ground, kids are more likely to warm to the ice-cream colours that occur and to mixing ingredients and foods when berry meets blender.

For a dose of antioxidants, whip up a raspberry red smoothie complimented by blueberries and strawberries. Kids tend to gravitate toward the colour when it’s used in ice pops and candy, so they may naturally associate this smoothie with a treat! Berries are easy to find year-round; once the season has passed, most supermarkets will carry frozen varieties. One cup of your favourite berries, one small banana and a cup of vanilla yoghurt will serve at least two. Blend in half a cup of milk or less until you reach your desired consistency.

Kids drinking smoothies

 If summer fruits aren’t exactly the hardest sell, challenge yourself—and your daring little ones—to a ‘green machine’ packed with superfoods. One banana, 5 ounces green grapes, half an apple and a cup of vanilla yoghurt will keep them from guessing the main ingredient: 2 ounces of fresh spinach leaves! If the result is too thick, add a bit of milk to your blended green drink. Boys in particular will like its Ninja Turtle tones, and it contains some of the nutrients most needed by the short set.

Overall, sweetness is key when catering to kids; bananas help conceal more vegetable tastes, and vanilla yoghurt is preferable to plain. And if all else fails, reach for the peanut butter: Blended with a banana and milk, it’s sure to please any cheeky monkey!

Image by kartfamily, used under Creative Commons licence.
Collaborative Post

Miniland Pair Game

11:39 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

We've been fans of Miniland for a little while and I like their bright, chunky toys and commitment to educational toys so when we were offered the opportunity for Bud to review one of their educational games in the run up to him starting school in September it was easy to accept. When we received the Miniland Pair Game I was unsure what Bud would make of it, we've had numerous card pairs games which haven't engaged him at all, I hoped this game would be different.

Miniland Pair Game

As soon as the game arrived I knew it was different. This is so much more than a pack of cards to match. The box is large, and inside contains a hinged game board, twelve game cards and twelve covers for the holes in the game board.

Miniland Pair Game

Game play is simple. Place a card in the game board, close the cover. Put the covers on and you are ready to go. Bud grasped the concept very quickly and got excited choosing which board he wanted to play first. Inevitably my little animal crazy boy went for the animals boards first and we got through each of them quite quickly. Bud grasped the game well and immediately understood what he had to do. Turn taking is a little problematic, he struggles a little with waiting for his go so we are trying to play games that require this at the moment and the Pair Game is perfect for this.

Miniland Pair Game

The twelve game cards included offer a range of difficulty level. Some are simple pair matching, like the animals you can see in the photos but six of them require more complicated processes to match the pairs. There are more complex patterns, where you really have to concentrate to see which two match, one where you match an item to it's silhouette, and one that I'm still a bit unsure of with die sides and images on it. I can't quite work out the pairs on this one!

Miniland Pair Game

Every component of the game is high quality, the covers sit nicely on the board and are easy to lift and remove. The box has it's own carry handle and it closes securely, making it a great game to take on holiday or on sleepovers.

Playing the Miniland Pair Game

We're really enjoying the Pair Game. It's exploring and introducing mathematical concepts to Bud - counting, matching and memory skills are needed and it's interesting to watch him play and improve his ability level with practice. Turn taking is something that will be necessary at school and it's really helping him to learn that he has his go and waits for everyone else to go before having his next turn. The beauty of this game is that you don't actually need more than one player. Bud has sat and played this on his own just as much as he has with someone else since it arrived.

If you'd like to keep up with all of Miniland's news then check out their brand new Miniland Educational UK Facebook Page, I'm told they have some fantastic giveaways planned there! To find out where to buy the Miniland Range, check out Where to Buy.

Discosure: We received the game for review purposes.

Mummy of Two

What's Happened? What's Happening - Summer Days

08:00 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

I'm well aware that I haven't got around to sharing all of the wonderful posts linked up to #WHWH last week. I do value every post that is linked and I will be getting around them all soon.

I've had a quick scoot through the posts I haven't had the time to read properly so far and I must admit I'm looking forward to getting an hour to sit and catch up on them all. Hopefully tomorrow.

I've seen a coupe of write ups for the blogger event at Eureka in Halifax promoting Little Live Pets, from Hollybobbs and Six Degrees of Harmony, we would love to have had the opportunity to meet up with local bloggers and visit Eureka for the first time. I think we're definitely going to make time to visit this fantastic, child-friendly museum soon. Have you ever been? We were at Blists Hill Victorian Town with friends instead of Eureka and had a great day out. Another post I'm excited to read is Jibber Jabber UK's account of their recent trip to Cardiff Bay for the Doctor Who Experience. We visited the former attraction in Cardiff when Bud was a baby and I really want to read about the new Doctor Who Experience.

What's Happening featured 100 Years of Magic again with Yummy Mummy Flabby Tummy getting excited about it coming to her hometown. I'd really love to see the show buy Bud isn't really a Disney fan so I might have to wait for LM to get a bit bigger and cross my fingers for a little Disney girl.

Normal service will resume this week for #WHWH.

What have you been up to? What are you planning?

I'd love you to link up your blog posts to What's Happened? - featuring events, days out, holidays, film, theatre and restaurant reviews and any other 'happeneds'. What's Happening? is the place for you to link your event previews, ongoing events and ticket giveaways.

I read and comment on every one and share on Twitter, Facebook. Google+, Pinterest and StumbleUpon.

I've created a Pinterest board where I pin all of your posts, feel free to follow it.

As always, I would love it if you would add the linky badge to your post to direct your readers here

What's Happened? What's Happening?

Summer Holiday Fun with Friends

12:47 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Last week we headed down to the Midlands for a few days of family fun. More on the first two days later but Friday evening saw us heading over to stay with ClearlyBex and family. Our boys are great friends and I knew we'd have a lot of fun together. Saturday dawned and we headed out for the day to somewhere that we last visited when Bud was just four months old. Almost exactly four years later we headed back to Blists Hill Victorian Town in Ironbridge to explore.

Blists Hill is very close to where Bex and her family so a short drive saw us arriving there, parking and changing some money in the bank for the full Victorian experience. There was a Meccano exhibition in full swing (did you know that Meccano was a Victorian invention?) and the boys headed into there straight away. There were some fantastic creations there, with the children particularly taken by a ferris wheel that could be turned using a small handle. Both boys were given their very own small Meccano set to take home too, it was a really great way to introduce children to this classic construction toy.

Blists Hill Victorian Town Meccano Exhibition

From there we headed down the main street, Bud was looking for animals as always, and we popped into some of the shops to look around too. The boys enjoyed spending 1 1/2d on two ounces of sweets at the well stocked sweet shop and all of the children enjoyed meeting Casey the Shire Horse too. Everything at Blists Hill attempts to be authentic so you won't see much electronic equipment, there's not even much of a mobile phone signal to reduce the authenticity! 

Blists Hill Victorian Town Shire Horse

Lunch was bought from the Victorian fish and chip shop and eaten in the pub beer garden, this was really lovely and we all enjoyed sharing fish and chips from paper. The chip shop sells fish and chips or chips, an easy decision to make! The next place we explored was the Victorian fairground with a ride on the self-powered wooden swings for Bud and Lewis and a ride on the Carousel for me, Bex and the girls. 

Blists Hill Victorian Town Carousel and Boat Swings

The next attraction was something Ian and I have really fond memories of. We went on this when Bud was four months old and, despite it being pitch black in there for a time, and a few loud bangs, he fell asleep! He managed to stay awake for this ride though. There is an additional charge for the train ride which I do find irritating. An awful lot of the enjoyment of Blists Hill requires spending money and it isn't a cheap place to visit in the first place. I think charging the £2 each per adult, and £1 per children is unacceptable really. 

Last time we visited the Incline Railway Lift was being worked upon and we couldn't use it. This time we got a chance though and it was fun to take the lift up and down the steep hill. Bex showed us a walk we hadn't seen on our first visit which took us to a huge canal incline which has been unusued for over a century. It's still in exceptional condition though!

With treats from the bakery and exploring everything else we missed we headed off to Ironbrige town to have our photo taken on the Ironbridge again. It was fun to recreate the last time we were there and you can see how much Bud has grown!

Family Photo on the Ironbridge

The Ironbridge area is a World Heritage Site and contains ten museums in the area. If you live close enough to visit regularly then you can buy an annual family pass which allows you to visit each museum as often as you like. We will definitely be back in the future.

We've been trying out some fab BN biscuits from McVitie's and took them along on a day out to try out. They are available in two flavours - chocolate and raspberry - and are a crunchy, chewy treat. 

McVitie's BN Biscuits

The big smiley face makes them a big hit with children and mine have enjoyed munching them very much. I think I will be buying them in future.

McVitie's have asked me to share my tips for Summer fun so here are my tips for enjoying a day out with friends.

1. Agree on a place to visit which everyone can enjoy - museums, theme parks and sites like Blists Hill are perfect for this as they will suit children at a range of ages.

2. Set a group budget - there's nothing worse than one family flashing the cash and your children complaining because money is a bit tighter. This was inescapable on our day out as Blists Hill doesn't have a cash machine so we had to pool resources!

3. Take lots of breaks - if you have younger children this is especially important as they can get tired easily, a few points to rest and relax will sustain them.

4. Take snacks - you might want to eat lunch out as we did but little ones need constant fuelling. The BN biscuits are perfect for this as they come in a cardboard sleeve which will help to protect them from being bashed in a bag or under the pushchair.

5. Manage expectations - the Blists Hill bank is perfect for this. The boys knew that they could spend the 'old pennies' they had and that would be it. This saves whiny children asking for more and helps little ones to learn about budgets too.

6. Plan your day - there are bound to be different things that different people in the group want to do. Make sure that if you do one thing for one child then, next time, another child gets to choose. Consider splitting into two groups and meeting up later if that would work better.

7. Have fun!

This post is an entry for 42 Days of Summer Linky Challenge sponsored by McVitie’s BN. Learn more at

What's Happened? What's Happening?

Win a Playskool Roctivity Piano

14:21 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

I think all of our thoughts are starting to turn towards the children returning to school and then... Christmas will be on the way before we know it! I'm hoping to have a few lovely giveaways for you over the next couple of months which should make that shopping list a bit lighter.

I've teamed up with Playskool to offer one of my readers the chance to win a lovely toddler toy. With over 20 fun sounds and tunes, the baby-friendly Playskool Rocktivity Piano allows little rock-stars to build a tune with every roll or tap of the keys! Kids can have fun with silly animal sounds or learn early skills and concepts with educational responses, all whilst movin’ and groovin’ to the music. The Rocktivity Piano and the full range of amazing Playskool products can now be found in-store and online at Argos (RRP: £39.99).

Playskool Roctivity Piano

Suitable for children aged 9 months plus this looks like a wonderful toy for young toddlers. It looks like a lot of fun. I think it's exactly the sort of toy my two would have loved when they were younger and it would make the perfect first, or second, Christmas gift.

For a chance to win this toy simply 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. 

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Eurocamp in the Loire Valley - Le Château des Marais - First Impressions

13:40 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Last month we had the amazing opportunity to visit a Eurocamp site in the Loire Valley - Le Château des Marais. We stayed for a week and had a wonderful family holiday, our first outside the UK. We've stayed in a few caravans and I was looking forward to seeing how the caravan and touring holiday was offered in France.

Eurocamp logo

Le Château des Marais is situated in the Loire Valley between Blois and Orleans Not far from the River Loire banks. It's a very rural location and so scenic, you drive through fields and fields of crops and vines, including some stunning fields of sunflowers.

Field of Sunflowers in the Loire Valley

Not for nothing is the Loire Valley known as the Garden of France. It's amazing to see the fields of wheat, sunflowers and leeks (that we could identify) being irrigated by complex sprinkler systems and worked by teams of agricultural workers. As it's situated deep in the heartland of France you aren't going to find a drive of less than 300km from any ferry port - the closest are Dieppe, Le Havre and Caen - we took the short hop from Dover to Calais (I don't like sailing so the best option for me) and faced a 450km drive on the French side. This took around six hours on the wonderful French toll roads, with a typical snarl up around Paris. I'd recommend, like us, an early ferry crossing then driving down to arrive in time for dinner.

Le Château des Marais Signpost

The site is tucked away just outside the small town of Mer and the village of Muides-sur-Loire. Both are well stocked with small shops, boulangeries and the like and the site also has it's own mini supermarket, takeaway restaurant and bar. If you want a supermarket you will have to drive to a larger town. We tended to go to Blois or Mont Près Chambord to stock up on our way back from days out. If you're arriving late on a Saturday make sure you get to a supermarket before noon on the Sunday (try the Carrefour in Blois), or use the site shop.

Le Château des Marais Eurocamp site

We arrived in heavy rain, which was a feature of our first few days. The site is heavily wooded, you'll be able to hear the bird song as soon as you arrive and my two were out of the car collecting pine cones as soon as the doors opened. The site has an electronic barrier with a passcode so you will need to report to Eurocamp on arrival. Your courier will then give you the code and escort you to your accommodation. The site has a real mixture of places to stay from safari tents and treehouses through different types of static caravan and permanently pitched tents to the camper vans and tourers.

Le Château des Marais Eurocamp site Treehouses

I liked that the accommodation was quite well mixed and you didn't feel like there was a huge block of any particular type. Our accommodation was a Classic Plus 3 Bedroom static caravan, but more of that tomorrow.  It is a compact site and nowhere is much more than a five minute wander away. We loved that our caravan was on a road that didn't lead anywhere. apart from on foot to the Kids Club activity field. This meant that the children could play outside on their scooters with only cars returning to the other caravans to worry about.

Le Château des Marais Eurocamp site Caravans

The site centre has everything you will need including bicycle hire, an information office, the open air swimming pool, spa, arcade, playground outdoor gym, bar, takeaway and restaurant. One of my posts later this week will talk in depth about all of these. This area is dominated by the lovely 'Château', I was told that the owners of the site still live there and that they are very strict about noise levels. Everything closes at 10pm, perfect for families but definitely not for people looking to party. There are lots more playgrounds dotted around the site too. Very family friendly.

I hope that this has introduced Le Château des Marais. I'll be posting every day this week with more information about the site, our accommodation, facilities for children and the local area, including some of the places we loved visiting. Please check back to read more.

To view Eurocamp's wide range of sites across Europe check out their website 
Follow on Twitter and Facebook to keep up to date with all of their news, special offers and promotions. 

We visited Le Château des Marais as the guests of Eurocamp. Our accommodation and return ferry crossing were supplied for us. All other costs incurred were met by ourselves.

To see my other Eurocamp posts please click on the badge below.

Le Château des Marais, Eurocamp, Summer 2014

SpongeBob Squarepants Mega Bloks

18:33 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Recently we received a few products from the brand new SpongeBob SquarePants Mega Bloks range. Bud is really starting to enjoy construction toys and I know how great they are for improving fine motor skills and hand eye coordination. He's also developed a recent liking for SpongeBob SquarePants so this delivery couldn't come at a better time.

Spongebob Squarepants Mega Bloks

The first item we opened was the blind bag. These are a great pocket money toy, retailing at just £1:99 and each bag is a surprise. With characters from across the series - SpongeBob himself, Patrick, Squidward and others - it's great fun to try to collect each one. This is a bag from Series 1 of the collection and I assume that there will be future series to collect too.

Spongebob Squarepants Mega Bloks Series 1 Blind Bag

Our blind bag contained SpongeBob complete with apple and Bud was able to put this together with only a little help. They stand on their own block which makes it easy to display them and use them in other Mega Bloks sets.

The next set was Bud's favourite - the SpongeBob Racer. This arrived in a cardboard tube containing 74 pieces, including another SpongeBob figure. This time SpongeBob is ready to race and wearing his bright red cap and sunglasses. 

SpongeBob Squarepants Mega Bloks SpongeBob Racer

The pieces arrive in two bags, with the SpongeBob figure in his own bag. Bud wanted to build this set himself and, for the most part he did. I helped him to identify which pieces he needed and helped him with some of the trickier bits. I really enjoy watching him build with the blocks and he was really delighted by the end result. He put SpongeBob himself together in a couple of minutes and then moved on to the racer.

SpongeBob Squarepants Mega Bloks SpongeBob Racer

The bags in this kit aren't numbered and you need to open all of the bags from the start as you will use pieces from each straight away. I think the build took Bud and I around forty minutes and it's a great little project for little hands who are learning to follow instructions and build in this way. The only truly tricky part was the silver pipes on the back of the car and it took us a little while for them all to sit correctly. These sets retail at £9:99 which I think is reasonable value for money for a character branded set with this many pieces. It's certainly comparable to other ranges we have bought and I have seen.

SpongeBob Squarepants Mega Bloks SpongeBob Racer

There is also a Patrick Racer in this range, which Mummy of Two reviewed. You can see what Little Mr A thought of Patrick's Car here. Another really great thing about this set is that you can use the tube to store SpongeBob and his Racer when it is built. No torn, thrown away cardboard boxes here.

SpongeBob SquarePants Mega Bloks Racer

The final set we looked at was the biggest. The Invisible Boatmobile Rescue features SpongeBob, Patrick and a Plankton, with two vehicles and three landscape items. Patrick is Bud's favourite character so he was really pleased to see, and build the two characters in this set. In total there are 337 pieces included so you know from the start that this is a good sized build.

SpongeBob SquarePants Mega Bloks Invisible Boatmobile Rescue

The pieces arrive across ten bags. Six are numbered (although we didn't have a number 5) and then there are four smaller bags including the characters - SpongeBob, Patrick and Plankton, and an attachment for the Invisible Boatmobile. 

As with the previous set you will need to open all six of the main bags from the start.We have some fantastic plastic trays which are brilliant for this sort of thing so I opened one bag into each section. This made it much easier to find every piece needed.

SpongeBob SquarePants Mega Bloks Invisible Boatmobile Rescue Opened BagsSpongeBob SquarePants Mega Bloks Invisible Boatmobile Rescue Opened Bags

You'll see from this photo that there are a lot of 'clear' bricks. They are used to build the Invisible Boatmobile, to give it the illusion of being see through. This makes the build quite complex and Bud started off helping me then lost interest. He is only four though, so slightly younger than the recommended age of 5+. He asked me to build it instead and I got stuck in and completed the whole set in just under an hour. The clearly illustrated instruction book takes you through every step and the boatmobile is very cleverly put together, making use of hinged pieces and more unusual shapes well. I loved how the headlights and side fins attached.

SpongeBob SquarePants Invisible Boatmobile Rescue

Plankton's truck has an arm which can be used to launch missiles at the net on the back of the Boatmobile. This was a much simpler build then the Boatmobile and Bud helped a little with this one. Both vehicles are really well thought out and designed. They are solid too so suitable to be played with as a playset, not just put up on a shelf. This is exactly right, this playset absolutely lends itself to imaginative play with SpongeBob and Patrick coming under attack from the Plankton and moving their net to catch the missiles. It's a really pleasing set once built. Both Bud and I really enjoyed it.

SpongeBob SquarePants Invisible Boatmobile Rescue

The Invisible Boatmobile Rescue set retails at £19:99 which is very good value for money. There are a lot of pieces and, at the end you have toys rather than models. We've already had played with them lots and they are showing no sign of being put down yet. 

This was our first experience of the smaller Mega Bloks for older chidren, we have tonnes of the toddler blocks, but, based on our impression of the SpongeBob SquarePants blocks I don't think it will be our last.

The SpongeBob SquarePants Mega Bloks range is available from Mega Bloks and all usual stockists.

Disclosure: We received the Mega Bloks for review purposes.All opinions are honest.

5 Ways to Celebrate the Sea in Newquay

13:03 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

I love Newquay, it was one of our favourite holiday destinations as a family when I was small and it's somewhere I can't wait to take Bud and LM in the future.One of the things I always loved most was staying really close to the beautiful beaches and the sea, there are few places as good for a beach holiday in the UK.

One thing Newquay definitely isn't short of is places to stay with somewhere for every tastes, including a vast range of hotels (have a look at Hotel Direct for ideas). I've been mentally compiling a wish list of places we would like to stay!

My research has lead me to a huge list of events in the Newquay calendar. These take place all year round and so many of them celebrate the town's coastal position and heritage. I thought I'd share a few of my favourites with you.

1. Newquay Lifeboat Day - the RNLI are a charity that I hold close to my heart. Not for any other reason than I have complete admiration for the mainly volunteer men and women who put their own safety at risk to rescue those in trouble at sea. Whenever I pass a lifeboat station I always drop into look around and leave a few pennies as a donation. Newquay Lifeboat Day takes place on Sunday 24th August 2014 and sees the local crews and lifeguards have the opportunity to show what they can do. With a wide range of activiities taking place across Newquay's beaches there is something for everyone in the family and it's a great way to get out and support a fantastic cause.

Newquay RNLI Lifeguard

2. Night Surf at Fistral Beach - This took place back in July of this year and saw international surfers hit Fistral Beach for an awesome two day competition under floodlights in the only event of this kind in Europe! The chance to pack a blanket and some drinks and hit the beach to watch the sun go down, as well as some amazing surfing should not be missed. Definitely one to check out next year, if only for the fireworks display at the closing party.

3. Weird and Wonderful Happenings at Blue Reef Aquarium - Blue Reef Aquarium is one of Newquay's top visitor attractions and, with the school holidays in full swing, they have their own activities planned. The aquariums has decided to celebrate their 'Weird and Wonderful' inhabitants. With a Weird and Wonderful trail, rockpool experiences, special weekend events and various other activities ongoing until September 3rd your children will fascinated! (Admission charges apply).

4. Newquay's Famous Fish Festival - this one may not be for everyone but I love eating fish and Newquay has some of the best in the country. The Fish Festival takes place between the 12th and 14th September 2014 and mixes chef recipe demonstrations with fun family activities in Newquay Harbour. There is a huge range of fish available to sample, and an entertainment marquee well stocked with Atlantic Brewery ales it sounds like the perfect way to while away a weekend.

Newquay Fish Festival

5. New Year's Eve Fireworks at Newquay Harbour - Newquay is a beautiful place to visit all year round so, if sun, sea and surf isn't your cup of tea, why not consider a winter break? Imagine wrapping up warm for a bracing walk down the beach (or surf for the more hardy) and then back to your hotel or a local pub to warm up in front of a roasting fire, with a glass of mulled cider or two to keep the winter chill away. If you're planning to be in Newquay for New Year, there is no better place to celebrate midnight than down at the Harbour for their wonderful fireworks display.

Have you visited Newquay for an event? Which was your favourite?

In Collaboration with Hotels Direct

What''s Happened? What's Happening? - Holidays and Happy Days

08:11 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

A very busy week for #WHWH last week with a wide array of days out and holidays shared in What's Happening  - nearly 20 posts shared which was fantastic to see!

There were lots of children having lots of fun last week - with Mr Z from In the Playroom throwing himself into the activities at the LeapFrog LeapBand launch This new toy aimed at getting kids active looks fantastic and I have my eye on one for Bud. Christmas is approaching, after all. More children having fun at cBeebies Land, in an event we were lucky enough to attend. Here Come the Girls was the first to link up her account of this day and it really captures just how much fun it was.

One of our favourite family days out is Liverpool and I loved Grumpyish Mum's tale of her day at Merseyside Maritime Museum with her Grandma and boys. Liverpool has a wonderful range of world class museums and most of them are free entry. I'd definitely recommend visiting.

Family holidays are, understandably, featuring large at the moment and I loved Ang from This is Life's day at Longleat I first visited there when I was about nine and would love to go back. Bud's first family holiday was to Northumberland so I always love posts featuring that area. Mummy Melton shared a day at Dunstaburgh Castle while It's a Fine, Fine Life had a wonderful week with extended family in Northumberland.

It's wonderful to see the Summer holiday activities that so many attractions are offering and We're Going on an Adventure had a Summer adventure at Stockeld Park. Definitely worth checking out if you're out and about in North Yorkshire in the next few weeks.

What have you been up to? What are you planning?

I'd love you to link up your blog posts to What's Happened? - featuring events, days out, holidays, film, theatre and restaurant reviews and any other 'happeneds'. What's Happening? is the place for you to link your event previews, ongoing events and ticket giveaways.

I read and comment on every one and share on Twitter, Facebook. Google+, Pinterest and StumbleUpon.

I've created a Pinterest board where I pin all of your posts, feel free to follow it.

As always, I would love it if you would add the linky badge to your post to direct your readers here

What's Happened? What's Happening?

Back to School Giveaway: Win a Personalised Lunchbox

17:45 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Back to school time has arrived and parents everywhere are in a whirlwind of making sure all of their children have everything they need to return to school feeling confident and looking great.

Spotty n Stripy have a fantastic range of personalised items and I have teamed up with them to offer one of my lucky readers the chance to win a peronalised lunchbox, just in time for Back to School! With a range of prints, from stripes to butterflies and buses to wordsearches there is something to suit every taste. You could even get the personalised briefcase as a fun gift for someone starting a new job.

Spotty n Stripy Personalised Lunchboxes

With a choice of six different lunch box colours available it's possible to really customise the lunchbox for the recipient. I think Bud would love this bright London Bus design with the destination as his name! The lunchboxes open flat making them a stable surface to eat lunch from. The boxes are easy to keep clean and close with an easy to open but secure clasp. All lunchboxes are made from food grade plastic (not PVC) and meet all UK and European regulations.

Personalised lunchboxes are a great way to make your child stand out from the crowd, there's little chance anyone will have the same one so no lunchtime confusion.

I've teamed up with Spotty n Stripy to offer one of my readers the chance to win their own personalised lunchbox. To enter simply 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.

Spotty n Stripy Personalised Lunchbox
Win competitions at

10 Blogger Tips to Encourage Your Children to Save

13:32 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

As Bud and LM are still quite small the subject of encouraging them to save hasn't really become an issue yet. They both have money boxes and, if anyone gives them pennies we pop them into there but we haven't managed to get around to opening bank accounts for them yet.

Bud is in Spain this week with family and it's the first occasion we have needed to supply him with pocket money to spend/ Of course we passed this to his Aunt to look after for him but it has really started to make me think about how to explain money and savings to him and help him to treat it with respect.

I've asked a few of my best blogger friends to come up with some tips to help me encourage my two to save.

10 Blogger Tips to Encourage Your Children to Save

1. Laura suggests opening a savings account for them  but don't tell them about it. This allows you to save for their future without the temptation to dip into it and you can share it with them when they need it for study, a wedding or some other important event. Of course this doesn't encourage them to save but it would be amazing to accrue a secret pot of money for their future.

2. Tami allows her children to choose something to save up for. Having a target for their money means that they aren't tempted to spend it on other things.

3. Jenny has older children so a more pressing agenda in explaining saving and budgeting. She feels that it's important to not bail them out all the time. They need to learn to save and budget and this won't happen if they know they can fall back on the bank of mum and dad. It can be hard as parents instinctively want to help their children but sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind.

4. Fiona has a really good suggestion which sees her children save half of any money they receive and spend the rest. That way they get an immediate treat but also understand that saving is important too. This could tie in nicely to some of the other suggestions about saving for something special too.

5. Jennifer suggests you make it fun, maybe decorate a piggy bank or if using a bank account create a chart with stickers to show that the more they save then the closer they are to a 'target' such as a new toy or day out.

6. I really like Anna's idea - to play games with them using pretend money to get them used to basic finance and let them look at, and ask questions about, prices when in the shops so they get an idea about the cost and value of things. This sounds like a great way to increase children's awareness around how much things cost and to help to teach them that buying things costs money.

7. Angela thinks that saving for a specific item means that children really understand that there is a reward in the length of time taken to save up. This would work really well if your child receives pocket money and could even be used to start with early budgeting for example, if they save £1 of their £2 pocket money every week for ten weeks then they will be able to but it in ten weeks. However, if they save all of their pocket money they could afford it in five weeks. Good for maths skills too.

8. I love Tina's suggestion to use a visual representation of saving so a child can see it growing. This is a great way of making the quite abstract concept of money clear and understandable to a little one. Tina uses Lego with each brick representing a particular amount of money and marbles in a jar could work too. You could even get out all of the bricks or marbles needed to buy an item and put them in two jars, that way your child could see them moving from one to the other and see how much nearer they are getting to their target.

9. Tina pays her child for helping her with jobs around the house and he is also allowed to pay for family treats like an ice cream on a day out. This allows him to understand his position in the family and feel like he is contributing,  He's recently started a fund to save for the tournaments in one of his sports.

10. I've been thinking about it and I think I'm going to teach my children about money saving in a different way. I'm a huge bargain hunter so, in future, if they want something, I'm going to be encouraging them to shop around for bargains and to look for vouchers to make it cheaper. Accruing money in savings is necessary but I think it's also important to make sure they know how to make those pennies go further and to get the most for their money.

Do you have any tips for helping children to learn to save?

Collaborative Post.