Warner Bros Christmas DVD Wishlist

21:34 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Grab the mistletoe and get ready to find the perfect gift for that special someone this Christmas.

Warner Bros. has the ultimate selection, whether you’re looking for him, for her, or for festive favourites to get the whole family in the Christmas spirit. 

I've been looking at a few of the Warner Bros. DVDs on offer this Christmas and I've decided on my favourite to share with you all.

Warner Bros Christmas DVD Wishlist Middle Earth Hobbit Lord of the Rings Box Set

I'm a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings universe and have been since I discovered the world by reading the books as a teenager. In my pre-children days I used to re-read the books every year and I was first in line to see each of the movies on their release. I was keen to see The Hobbit films but cinema trips are few and far between for us these days so I've caught up on them on DVD and On Demand services.

The idea of having all six of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings films on DVD in one place is brilliant and this box set brings the six theatrical releases together. As a busy mum I don't have the time for all the DVD extras I used to enjoy so this is perfect! 

There are a range of fantastic Warner Bros.  titles available at HMV.com, which will make perfect gifts. Will you be buying any DVDs to give to your loved ones this Christmas?

Join #TeamElf or #Team Santa with MCFC this Christmas

23:12 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

There's a wide range of festive events available in Manchester and this weekend we went along to preview one of the more unusual offerings - the brand new Christmas themed tour of the Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City FC. Our football allegiances lie elsewhere (in League One with Bolton Wanderers) and I haven't visited the Etihad since it was the City of Manchester Stadium and the Commonwealth Games were hosted there, so I was keen to explore!

Join #TeamElf or #Team Santa with MCFC this Christmas Manchester City Tour

On arrival for the tour the group is split into #TeamElf and #TeamSanta and you'll compete in some friendly challenges along the way so make sure you choose your colours wisely! We were #TeamElf. The tour starts with  the chance to have your photo taken wearing your 'team colours' in the form of elf and Santa themed Christmas jumpers. Only Bud was willing to don a jumper from our group and he was really pleased with the photo we picked up at the end of our tour which saw him superimposed against the Etihad, with the Premier League trophy beside him (there is an additional charge for the photos).

While Team Santa were having their photos taken we had the opportunity to explore the visitors centre and take a look at some of City's recent silverware. Our guide, Dominic, showed us some of the highlights and then we were straight in to our first challenge - decorating Christmas trees. Each member of the teams had to place a decoration on their tree. Team Elf were victorious but, due to an incident with tinsel tangling, we were deemed to have placed two decorations on in a single go. We conceded half of our points and embarked on the stadium tour.

First stop on the tour was the Chairman's Lounge where tickets to watch the match, with a slap up meal prior to the match cost around £600! We saw the front of the stadium and the site of the 'blue carpet' where the City team enter the stadium before each match. The Etihad has it's own access road which allows vehicles to drive directly on to the pitch, if required. The Lounge itself is a lovely space and, from there, you can access the Premier League's largest directors' box, complete with padded and heated seats!  This is also the first chance you get to take in the full stadium in all it's impressive glory. It was very different from when I was there watching athletics in 2002!

Join #TeamElf or #Team Santa with MCFC this Christmas Manchester City Tour

The Media Centre was the next stop and the children got the chance to pretend to be Pep Guardiola, his most recent signing and their agent. It's a quick step from there into the Away Team dressing room, complete with Lionel Messi shirt, and our next festive challenge. This split us into our teams again and we each had a ball to throw at a row of snowmen to try and dislodge them from their perches on the away team benches. Amazingly each team scored 10 points so we were level going on to the next game.

This took place in the Home Team dressing room. Bottle Flipping! Those are two words that will strike fear in to the hearts of many mums with primary school age chidren! Thanks to the skills of the children from Tired Mummy of Two and Extraordinary Chaos Team Elf streaked into a comprehensive lead. The dressing room itself will delight City fans, giving them the chance to sit where their heroes do, in their very comfortable Recaro seats.

Join #TeamElf or #Team Santa with MCFC this Christmas Manchester City Tour

The last big point on the tour is the most important. We were led into the tunnel and then out pitchside. The children explored the dug outs which and we were all very careful not to touch the pitch! From there we made our way back through the stadium and on to our final Christmas game which saw each of us trying to chip a football into a Christmas basket. I'm slightly ashamed to say that not a single one of us managed this which meant that our Team Elf lead proved unassailable and we were the winners!

Join #TeamElf or #Team Santa with MCFC this Christmas Manchester City Tour

Back in the Souvenir Shop and Tour Centre we had the chance to look at our photos, make our own Match Attax cards, and receive our City Santa hat prizes (we passed ours on to my Sister in Law's family of blues). Our tour guide, Dominic, demonstrated an extensive knowledge of the club's history and a real passion for his team which was infectious.

Join #TeamElf or #Team Santa with MCFC this Christmas Manchester City Tour

We all enjoyed the tour and the festive elements make it the perfect Christmas treat for any football fans who would like to explore this impressive stadium.

Manchester City will be offering all those that have been on the Stadium Tour in December a 20% discount off all purchases in the City Store that month. So why not treat a loved one to an exciting day at the Etihad Stadium or pick up a perfect City Christmas gift and don’t forget for every City Christmas jumper purchased the Club will donate an additional £5 to local community projects delivered by City in the Community, who are celebrating 30 years of empowering lives through football.

Tickets for the tour cost £17 per adult, £11 per child aged 5-16 and £12 for concessions and will run on select days throughout December. Visit www.mancity.com for more information and to book tickets.

Cinderella at Octagon Theatre, Bolton - Review

21:27 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

On Monday night Ian, Bud, LM and I attended the press night for Cinderella at the Octagon Theatre in Bolton. The Octagon is our local theatre so we were delighted to take the children for their first experience of this theatre, and to see their Christmas 2016 show. I'm no fan of the traditional pantomime (even though the children are) so I was looking forward to the Octagon's festive alternative.

Ben Occhipintii's production takes the traditional fairy tale and modernises it with a completely different take on the story. Remember the mice in the animated version? Well, these become the kitchen rats of Cinderella's home and her unexpected allies who tell the story from their slightly quirky, and often sweetly innocent perspective. 

Cinderella at Octagon Theatre, Bolton Review

The play has a tiny company, of just six actors, with the five rats taking on the additional roles including ugly sisters, stepmother and prince, and just a change of headgear making the switch. In addition to telling the story through their dialogue, the rats play grand piano, double bass and percussion instruments on stage, while singing too! The tubular bells especially provide a really festive note, there's something about hearing them struck that instantly transports me to Christmas. It's a hugely energetic production with few of the cast leaving the stage for too long and props and costume changes being hidden in the corners of Cinders' kitchen .

Cinderella at Octagon Theatre, Bolton Review

There are some surprising elements, watch out for the terrific stepsisters - Thisun and Thatun, played by Alicia McKenzie and Anne O'Riordan - who offer the truly 'laugh out loud' moments of comedy in their short time on stage, without any of the 'boo hiss' responses generated in pantomime, and are real fun as their rat alter egos Claws and Teeth too. Alexander Bean is very sweet as Whiskers and slightly bewildered as the prince who has to take a wife while Tomas Wolstenholme switches from a brief, but compelling, turn as Cinders' father through Ears the rat to a King who has decided that his son needs to marry and the sooner the better! As the Stepmother Felicity Sparks gives the play the antagonist but balances this with her beautiful piano playing and warmth as Tails the Rat. Cinderella herself is played beautifully by Lucy Faint and she brings a sympathetic realness to the role that has the audience rooting for her from the very start.

Cinderella at Octagon Theatre, Bolton Review

My children are 4 and 6 and they were utterly delighted by the whole play. In fact, LM cried all the way to the car after the final curtain as she didn't want it to end. When asked what her favourite part was she chose everything! Bud loved the male rats, predictably, and I was struck by the fact that he would probably pronounce the animated and live action film versions of Cinderella as 'girly' but this production definitely wasn't and really appealed to him. The familiar love story is dialed down somewhat and it's really a true story of friendship and beating the odds. 

Cinderella at Octagon Theatre, Bolton Review

Cinderella runs at Octagon Theatre Bolton until Saturday 14th January 2017. To book tickets visit octagonbolton.co.uk/ we would highly recommend it!

Take a Polar Expedition at the intu Trafford Centre

19:48 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

The intu Trafford Centre grotto has returned for Christmas 2016 with a Polar Expedition themed attraction taking it's place in Barton Square for the festive period. We were delighted to be invited down to visit the grotto again and headed down to see Father Christmas and the Elves there.

Take a Polar Expedition at the intu Trafford Centre Santa Father Christmas Grotto Christmas 2016

We can always rely on the intu Trafford Centre to offer a really immersive experience and this year is no different. From the instant we arrived the grotto Elves create the Christmas experience and this doesn't slip the whole time you are in there. The Experience takes place in 15 minute slots so we joined the queue for the 11:30 start and were immediately met by one of the Christmas Elves who chatted happily to the children about their wish lists and kept them beautifully entertained.

Take a Polar Expedition at the intu Trafford Centre Santa Father Christmas Grotto Christmas 2016

From their you are taken into the reindeer stable where you meet another elf 'Sherry Trifle'. Families sit on benches and the children are encouraged to sit at the front for a better view. Sherry talks to everyone about the reindeer and introduces the newest member of the team, a very cute baby reindeer named Norbert who has a secret talent! From there you meet more elves and some very sweet animatronic animals. Each time you have to wait the Elves are there to help keep the children distracted. They were counting robins and finding out the names of the Polar Bear and his cubs which passed each short wait before the children even realise they're in a queue.

Take a Polar Expedition at the intu Trafford Centre Santa Father Christmas Grotto Christmas 2016

The next section was a very effective Virtual Reality display which gives you the chance to 'meet' a few polar animals as they 'jump' on to the ice cap in front of you! Little E's mind was blown by this and he quickly had to retreat to Daddy's arms, it was very realistic and the children loved seeing the animals appear. 

After another snowy, festive display with a Husky that LM paid particular attention to it was time to meet the big guy himself. I always really enjoy meeting Father Christmas as the intu Trafford Centre as he always takes such a great interest in the children and you never feel rushed at all. Bud happily shared his list and LM found her voice and very quietly told him what she would like. She's never spoken to Father Christmas in any of our previous visits so this was a big step for her! Sadly Little E found it all a bit overwhelming and got a bit upset when he got too near Santa but, at almost 18 months old, sometimes things are just a little confusing! All of the Elves, and Father Christmas himself really looked the part and their costumes were great.

Take a Polar Expedition at the intu Trafford Centre Santa Father Christmas Grotto Christmas 2016

All three children were delighted by their gifts, Bud and LM received a small Playmobil set each. I was so pleased to see these as we love Playmobil in our house and they are such high quality toys. Little E received a picture book published by our friends over at Miles Kelly. At the end of your visit to Santa you will have a group photo taken and there is the opportunity to purchase these at the exit with prices starting from £5.We bought the print photo at £7, Little E's expression is rather hilarious so I'm saving it for future embarrassment!

Take a Polar Expedition at the intu Trafford Centre Santa Father Christmas Grotto Christmas 2016

We all had a lovely time at the intu Trafford Centre Polar Experience and we would really recommend it if you are looking to visit Father Christmas over the next few weeks. To find out more information and book tickets visit intu Trafford Centre.

Win with Frozen Fun with Disney on Ice at the Echo Arena, Liverpool

22:25 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Disney on Ice fans will be aware that the current tour is on it's way around the UK at the moment and we are so excited to be seeing it in Liverpool on the 30th November. I've teamed up with the Echo Arena and Disney on Ice to bring you a fantastic giveaway where one lucky winner will win a family ticket for opening night in Liverpool, alongside some Frozen fun!
Win with Frozen Fun with Disney on Ice at the Echo Arena, Liverpool


As excitement levels mount for the arrival of Disney On Ice presents Frozen this winter, we have the ultimate Frozen quiz for you!

Frozen fans – it’s the moment of truth, how well do you know your Anna from your Elsa or your Olaf from your Sven…. make sure you don’t “Let It Go” until you’ve got top marks (see what we did there?!).

Let us know your score by tweeting us @disneyonice @echoarena @redrosemummy

Here we go and good luck! (Answers are below)

1. In which kingdom do Anna and Elsa live?

2. Who helped Young Anna recover from being hit by Elsa’s powers?

3. Who likes “warm hugs”?

4. What is Kristoff’s profession?

5. What phrase does Elsa repeat when trying to control her powers?

6. Why do the guards open up the gates of the palace?

a. Bonus: How long have the gates been closed?

7. How many salad plates do Anna and Elsa own?

8. Anna and Hans finish each other’s ______.

9. What is the “amazing smell” Anna and Elsa detect at the coronation celebration?

10. Who does the crazy dance with Anna at Elsa’s coronation?

11. Why doesn’t Elsa want Anna to marry Hans?

12. What does Elsa build during the song “Let It Go”?

13. What is Sven’s favorite snack?

14. Which animals chase after Anna, Kristoff and Sven when they begin to search for Elsa?

15. What is Olaf’s favorite season?

16. What animal does Olaf dance with in his song about summer?

17. What is the name of the enormous icy snowman Elsa creates?

18. Fill in the blank. “Some people are worth ______.”

19. When Elsa breaks Arendelle’s eternal winter, what does she do to keep Olaf from melting?

1. The Kingdom of Arendelle
2. Grand Pabbie
3. Olaf
4. Ice Harvester
5. “Conceal it…don’t feel it…don’t let it show.”
6. Elsa’s coronation
6a. 13 years
7. 8000
8. Sandwiches
9. Chocolate
10. The Duke of Weselton
11. Because they just met
12. An Ice Castle
13. Carrots
14. Wolves
15. Summer
16. Seagulls
17. Marshmallow
18. 'Melting for'
19. She magics him his own personal flurry

Win with Frozen Fun with Disney on Ice at the Echo Arena, Liverpool

Disney On Ice  presents Frozen is live on ice and skating into Echo Arena, Liverpool from 30 November – 4 December. Be magically whisked away to wintry Arendelle by dazzling special effects and astonishing skating as you sing and dance along to inspiring songs including “Let It Go.” Join royal sisters  Anna and Elsa, the hilarious snowman Olaf, Kristoff and Sven, as they journey to discover that true love is the most magical power of all!

Hosted by  Mickey and Minnie, with special appearances by beloved Disney Princesses and characters from all-time favourites like Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story, Finding Nemo and Disney’s The Lion King. Plus, warm up for the show and learn the snowman dance, during the Fit to Dance pre-show.

This unforgettable celebration of love and friendship will leave your family with memories to last a lifetime. Experience the Full Story – Live on Ice!

Come see Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf, Sven, Cinderella, Ariel, Snow White, Rapunzel, Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Timon, Pumbaa, Nemo, Dory, Mickey, Minnie and many more!

Win with Frozen Fun with Disney on Ice at the Echo Arena, Liverpool

Get your tickets today at disneyonice.co.uk or www.echoarena.com

For your chance to win a family ticket to the opening night of Disney on Ice presents Frozen, live at the Echo Arena in Liverpool on 30th November, please complete the Gleam widget below. The family ticket is valid for one adult and three children or two adults and two children. Please read the terms and conditions. Good luck!

Disney on Ice Liverpool Family Ticket

Could Your Child be the UK's Skylanders Chief Imagination Officer?

14:21 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

We're huge Skylanders fans in our house and Bud loves playing the games so I'm really excited to share details of a fab new competition that they are running in conjunction with the recent release of Skylanders Imaginators.

Activision have teamed up with PopJam to launch the search for the UK’s most imaginative child. They will be hosting an exclusive competition over the next three weeks, which will offer one lucky winner and their family the trip of a lifetime to San Francisco, California. They will visit the Toys For Bob studio, the developer of Skylanders™ Imaginators.

The competition launched on 21st October and gives kids th “My son has always been a huge fan of Skylanders so I am very much looking forward to judging the UK’s Chief Imagination Officer competition. It’s great to be a part of an initiative that fuels creativity and I can’t wait to see the amazing Skylanders that will be dreamed up by the nation. From character names, to character design and even super powers – I’m looking for the wildest and wackiest entries to find a deserving winner for the fantastic prize that’s on offer.”e opportunity to design their very own Skylander. Using PopJam's creative tools children will be able to use their imaginations to their fullest in creating the Skylander of their dreams.


All of the creations will be judged by the Activision Imaginator's Panel which includes YouTube star Stampy Cat, mum and TV and radio presenter Sara Cox and Toys for Bob Co-Founder and Studio Head, Paul Reiche.
Stampy Cat commented, “I am really looking forward to judging the entries for the UK's Chief Imagination Officer competition and seeing what sorts of designs everyone comes up with. I will be looking for the most unique and creative Skylanders. The prize of visiting the studio in San Francisco will be such an incredible experience for whoever becomes the Imagination Officer."
while Sara Cox added, “My son has always been a huge fan of Skylanders so I am very much looking forward to judging the UK’s Chief Imagination Officer competition. It’s great to be a part of an initiative that fuels creativity and I can’t wait to see the amazing Skylanders that will be dreamed up by the nation. From character names, to character design and even super powers – I’m looking for the wildest and wackiest entries to find a deserving winner for the fantastic prize that’s on offer.”
The prize is a unique opportunity for the ultimate Skylanders fan to gain an understanding of how those much-loved characters are designed, imagined and created as the winning child and their family will be whisked away to San Francisco. They will spend a day at the Toys For Bob studio in Novato to get an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the latest Skylanders game and have the opportunity to gain insight into character design, level inspiration and gameplay mechanics with the creative team.

If your child would like the chance to win this amazing Skylanders prize then head over to PopJam and get creative now!

Five Post-Pregnancy Boosts for New Mums

22:41 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

I'm not quite sure when the post-pregnancy period officially ends, I feel a bit like I'm still there even though Little E is nearly 17 months old! Those first few months post-baby can be a tough slog and it's easy for mums to forget about themselves in the day to day routine of caring for a newborn and the rest of the family. I've been thinking about a few ways that Mums can take a little time for themselves, working around baby of course!
5 Five Post-Pregnancy Boosts for New Mums

1. Get Out and About

The age that I've left my littlest at has got younger with each baby. I've always had to take my time where I can find it, and around feeding my babies, but as time has gone by I've realised the importance of time alone - even if it's just a 15 minute walk around the supermarket without a little one attached to me!

If you're not happy leaving your little one then take them with you, meet up with a friend for coffee or lunch or check out a 'mum and babies' screening at your local cinema,  the Odeon do Newbies screenings and I think many of the other cinema chains do too. A simple walk in the park can make you feel so much better if you're feeling cabin fever setting in.

2. Book a Shopping Trip
Shopping trip rail of clothes

I found my shape really changed after my first pregnancy and nothing looked right even if it fitted! Now three babies in and those days pre-baby are a dim and distant memory and I find myself sticking to the 'mum uniform' of skinny jeans, stripy top, flats and a cardigan. I had a personal shopper session when Bud was about six months old (Ian walked him around the shops while I had my appointment) and she really helped me to understand my new shape and to find some items that I would never have previously considered. I had my appointment at John Lewis and can't recommend it highly enough. In fact I think I need to book another one now!

Sometimes I'll go shopping and purposefully ignore the children's sections. It's the only way I seem to be able to buy for myself and is definitely good for the soul!

3. Get a Haircut

Pregnancy messes with your hair! If you're anything like me then your hair looks amazing until a few weeks after your baby arrives and then it falls out in clumps and you end up finding piles of it around your home every time you vacuum. I have really thick hair so I can always stand to lose a bit but a good haircut can make all of the difference when you're feeling like you might be losing it all!
Book a haircut

You probably won't get as far as looking at FUE Hair Transplant Costs like Wayne Rooney but feeling like your hair looks great, with a simple cut and colour can make all of the difference.

4. Beauty Treatments

Just before I had Bud a lovely friend bought me a voucher for a 'new mum facial' which I booked when he was around 12 weeks old and it was divine! 40 minutes of relaxing bliss which totally transported me while it lasted. It cleared up my skin which was a bit grey and dull from all of the night feeds and really gave me a much needed boost. If you can't book a treatment, why not invest in a few favourite products and give yourself a pamper session at home? You can work around baby that way and a simple hot bath with some of your favourite bubble bath can be a real restorative.

5. Baby Groups

These are a real love-hate thing for many new mums but I always enjoyed going to those I went to. I didn't make loads of 'best friends forever' but I did enjoy the opportunity to meet people with similar aged babies to me and have a chat. On some days just being able to have a cup of coffee and a chat with someone who knows exactly what you're on about works miracles! I'd recommend 'shopping around' a bit to find the one that works best for you. I've been going to a toddler group for over 6 years now and I think we're part of the furniture there!

If you're looking for groups try asking your Health Visitor or local SureStart Centre. They should be able to signpost you to meet ups in your area and, hopefully, you might find one that suits you It doesn't have to be all Baby Gymnastics and Swimming and Yoga either. These tend to be quite expensive, my favourite group only costs £1 per week.

Obviously all of these ideas are simple ways for any new mum to give themselves a bit of a pick-me-up. If you feel like you're struggling it goes without saying that you should have a chat with your Health Visitor or GP.

Collaborative Post

Puffin Children's Audiobooks - Review

21:10 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Bud, at six is just starting out on his journey through reading independently and I'm so excited to set out on this road with him. I was an avid reader as a child (still am) and, of course, this means that there are a good few books that I'd love him to read and enjoy just as much as I did. He's a confident reader at the moment and I've been trying to encourage his reading at home without pushing too many of my own favourites on him. Coincidentally Ian and I had been talking about involving the kids more in what we listen to in the car and audiobooks had come up as an idea there. When we were offered the chance to review some of the Puffin Children's Audiobooks, from Mumsnet Bloggers Network, it couldn't have been more timely and I hoped it would be a great way to get Bud involved in a story without tiring him out in the way some of the 'bigger' reads can.

We were invited to choose three books from a selection and the three I chose were as follows: The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy, The Complete Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis and Roald Dahl Reads Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Other Stories. There was a wide range of titles to choose from but I went for these as classics from my childhood and those that we would enjoy listening to as a whole family. All of the audiobooks are presented on CD in deep plastic cases which keeps them all together and protect them from sticky fingers and scratches.
Puffin Children's Audiobooks - Review Worst Witch Chronicles of Narnia Roald Dahl Reads

The first set of CDs we started to listen to were Roald Dahl Reads Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Other Stories. This set contains five stories presented over three CDs. The stories included are Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, Fantastic Mr Fox, The Enormous Crocodile and The Magic Finger. The first two stories are abridged while the latter three are unabridged. Bud was so excited to see this CD as Roald Dahl has been a feature of their learning in school this term and they have been reading The BFG there. He was really pleased to have some more stories to listen to and couldn't wait to get started.

With this particular set of CDs we did something different than with the others. Bud has had the book version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory sitting on his bookshelf for some time now but has dismissed it as a bit 'too hard'. We decided that we would try listening to the audio book and then reading the chapters between us and we've been doing that at bedtime over the past couple of weeks. This has been a real success with Bud and he can't wait for his next session with the CD and book. We tend to only read a few pages and listen on with the corresponding story but it's quite magical to read the words together and then hear Roald Dahl's voice speaking his own words. We actually have all but one of these stories at home already so I think we will be continuing our 'project' with the other discs in this set. It's been a fantastic way to start him with Roald Dahl at home.

Our next set of CDs found it's way into the car straight away and we've made our way through the first book of The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy. The set comprises four books - The Worst Witch, The Worst Witch Strikes Again, A Bad Spell for the Worst Witch and The Worst Witch All at Sea and they are unabridged. They are read by Gemma Arterton, the actress famous for her role in St Trinian's and Quantum of Solace. Her voice is really well suited to Mildred Hubble's adventures and these CDs instantly transported me to my youth when I would borrow the first three The Worst Witch stories from the library and devour them. I read all of them several times and I'm quite glad I never knew the agonising wait for the next one as it didn't come out until 1993, when I was 16!

Both Bud and LM have been really interested in The Worst Witch, Bud is used to listening to stories at school but, as LM is that little bit younger (4), I was quite surprised that she could follow along with the stories too and we've already had to sit in the car for a few minutes as we were attempting to park at a crucial moment in the story! Gemma Arterton's narration is perfect for the story and she makes the story even more engaging. I can see this being incredibly popular on our car journeys over the next few months.

The final set of CDs we were sent is simply wonderful. The Chronicles of Narnia plays a massive part in the childhood reading of so many people. As soon as it arrived it got Ian and I talking about when we remembered discovering the stories, which we read first, who our favourite characters were and so much more. This is so much more than a simple audiobook, in fact it's a dramatic performance presented by a full cast which makes it delightful to listen to. The cast includes Bernard Cribbins, Sylvester McCoy, Richard Griffiths, Fiona Shaw and Timothy Spall (I can guarantee that if you're thinking, that sounds like... then it probably is them!) The seven stories are presented across 14 CDs and 15 hours so it might be a set to enjoy across a full holiday. We decided to present the stories in the way that we were introduced them and the 'traditional' order, starting with The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

Both Bud and LM have seen the wonderful film adaptation of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe which helped when introducing the audiobook. Bud did find it a little harder to follow than the simply narrated books (commenting that it was like watching TV with no picture) but after a little while he decided 'I'm going to turn off my eyes Mummy', which really helped him to grasp the different people speaking and follow better. It really is so wonderful to listen to and I can't recommend this set highly enough. I feel like it is one that we will return to again and again as a family in the future.

We've really enjoyed our first experience with children's audiobooks and I think they are definitely something that we will expand upon in future especially in the car and as 'read along' bedtime stories. They have added an extra dimension to reading with my children and I've loved sharing some of my favourites from my childhood with my older two. It's been the perfect way to do so.

Mumsnet have pulled together some of their own recommendations for 'the best audiobooks for children' click through to read their suggestions and listen to samples of the audiobooks, including those I have featured above.

Do your families enjoy audiobooks? Which are their favourites?

I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity.

Bratz InstaPets - Raya - Review

21:53 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

LM loves the Bratz dolls and was really excited to see the brand new InstaPets range advertised on TV recently. When I was asked if she would like to take a look at one, the answer was a resounding yes! LM loved seeing the 'Bumblebee doll' - Raya - and she was lucky enough to be sent that one. She was so delighted that she cried happy tears!
Bratz InstaPets - Raya - Review Blog Bumblebee

The new Bratz Instapets range sees the five girls as animal lovers, each accompanied by their own Kawaii spirit animal. Animals often feature in the Bratz boxes but this is the first set of dolls where they have been the main focus. The idea is that the Bratz girls use their phones to snap their pets and share the photos on Instagram, or pics of themselves wearing their cute, animal-inspired outfits.
Bratz InstaPets - Raya - Review

The five dolls each have a different animal theme and are accompanied by their own bobblehead animal pet - we have Raya with her bumblebee, Jade has a cat, Sasha a rabbit, Yasmin with a frog and Cloe's pig.
Bratz InstaPets - Raya - Review

Bratz InstaPets - Raya - Review Accessories

Raya is dressed in a cute bee outfit, with skirt, t-shirt and bumblebee deeley boppers completing the look. Her accessories are all bumblebee themed too, with earrings, phone case, sunglasses and even her shoes seeing the yellow and black colour scheme.
Bratz InstaPets - Raya - Review

The doll has the usual Bratz bendable knees and wrists but this is the first edition we've had which has articulated elbows, this makes the dolls really poseable. LM loves being able to put her doll into different positions and sit her down. She has the usual lovely Bratz hair which can be brushed using the lip hairbrush which comes with every doll, of course Bumblebee Raya's is yellow.
Bratz InstaPets - Raya - Review

Bratz InstaPets - Raya - Review

The Bratz InstaPets range is really good fun and the on-trend bobbleheads are a great addition to the characters, LM has named her's Jessica after a nursery friend. This is the first Raya Bratz doll LM has had and she's found her home in with her growing collection, and been played with regularly since her arrival.
Bratz InstaPets - Raya - Review

Check out the full range in the Bratz commercial here:

Club Petz YoYo the Panda - Review

20:34 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

We love interactive toys, and pandas in our house so you can imagine how excited LM was to receive her very own Club Petz YoYo the Panda from IMC Toys recently!
Club Petz YoYo the Panda - Blog Review  IMC Toys

YoYo is an interactive panda with so many different features to discover. The panda is quite large, I'd guess around 40cm tall. Her fur is really soft and snuggly and her eyes and mouth move. She arrives with her own baby bottle and piece of bamboo and a cute pink flower bracelet around her left paw.
Club Petz YoYo the Panda - Review Blog IMC Toys

YoYo has ten interactive functions which makes her a really engaging toy. Check if she's hungry by placing the bamboo to her mouth, sometimes she will eat it, sometimes she will sneeze! LM loves making her sneeze so I often find her with bamboo in hand seeing how YoYo will react to it.
Club Petz YoYo the Panda - Review

Just like a human baby, LM can give YoYo her bottle. She will drink from this, making happy sucking sounds then her eyes will gently close and she will fall asleep and gently snore. If you put her down then the toy will become inactive but a simple tickle on her tummy will wake her up again. She giggles so happily when tickled and LM can't help giggling along with her. YoYo makes kissing noises when she's happy, as if she's blowing kisses to you.
Club Petz YoYo the Panda - Review Blog IMC Toys Bottle BambooThe Panda is sensitive to movement so will call out to you when it senses you are around. The little noises are so sweet and LM always rushes to pick her up and play with her again. It can be a bit alarming when we're watching TV and the children are in bed and you suddenly hear the Panda calling out to you though.
Club Petz YoYo the Panda - Review

For the grown ups, YoYo requires 4 AA batteries which are supplied although these didn't last very long for us and quickly needed replacing. You can switch off the panda on the base which helps to preserve battery life as the sensitivity to motion won't be working when the toy isn't being played with. We always try to remember to switch her off for this reason.
Club Petz YoYo the Panda - Review

As I mentioned before, the toy is pretty large, all the better to show off YoYo's big eyes and all of their movements. LM, at 4 (and small for her age) can carry her around quite easily although Little E tries to pick her up and gives up.
Club Petz YoYo the Panda - Review Blog IMC Toys

YoYo the Panda has been a huge hit in our house. All three of the children have really enjoyed playing with her even though LM has claimed her most and she now lives in her room. Bud and LM picked up on all of the interactive features quite quickly and even Little E has worked out that she giggles if he pats her tummy. The toy is aimed at children aged 3 and over, which I think is perfect. We've had some pretty poor interactive toys over the years but this is definitely one of the better ones. LM really loves YoYo.

YoYo is available from all usual toy stockists with an RRP of £49:99. To see her in action check out this Smyths Toys promo.

The toy was supplied for review purposes. 

Disney Tsum Tsum Vinyls from JAKKS Pacific - Review

14:36 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

We're a house full of Tsum Tsum fans and have amassed a good collection of both the plush and squishy varieties over the past few months, so we were all rather excited to see a brand new range of Tsum Tsums arrive from JAKKs Pacific - Vinyl Tsum Tsums!
Disney Tsum Tsum Vinyls from JAKKS Pacific - Blog Review

The toy market has gone a bit mad with blind bags and collectible ranges recently and both Bud and LM are big fans. Whether watching videos of blind bags on YouTube, or asking to spend their pocket money on them the surprise element is a huge hit in our house. The Vinyl Tsum Tsums are available in different sized packets, ranging from small blind bags upwards but have added the surprise element to their packs with a mystery Tsum inside each nine pack of the range.
Disney Tsum Tsum Vinyls from JAKKS Pacific - Review blog

Recently LM and Bud were sent a three pack and a nine pack of the new range and they were absolutely delighted. They spent time looking closely at each of the Tsum Tsums and were super excited to spot that there was a mystery Tsum inside!
Disney Tsum Tsum Vinyls from JAKKS Pacific - Review

Find out what our mystery Tsum Tsum was below!

This was our first experience of the Vinyl Tsum Tsums and I was pleasantly surprised by them. They are in three different sizes which can be stacked easily and you get one of each size in the three pack. It's great to be able to see which characters you are purchasing, especially when you have children who want a specific one, but equally, the mystery element in the larger packs is very popular with my children too.
Disney Tsum Tsum Vinyls from JAKKS Pacific - Review blog

The Tsum Tsums themselves are very good quality and I think they will stand up to play well. Ever since they arrived LM has claimed them and carries them around in a small bag. I can often find her acting out some of her favourite Disney movies with the Tsum Tsums and snippets of the dialogue can often be heard. Some of them have found themselves becoming the pets of her larger dolls! The three sizes work well together, although the smallest are very little and need to be kept well away from her little brother.
Disney Tsum Tsum Vinyls from JAKKS Pacific - Review

The collectors guide is really informative about the range and it shows which characters are available in which size, and when others will be launched. LM and Bud had great fun ticking off those Tsums they had received and working out which ones they would like to add to their collection.
Disney Tsum Tsum Vinyls from JAKKS Pacific - Review collectors guide

Vinyl Tsum Tsums are available in all usual stockists now with an RRP of £4:99 for the 3 pack (21 different sets to collect), and £14:99 for the 9 pack (includes 2 exclusive to this size pack and 1 mystery Tsum Tsum).

Sofia the First Toys from JAKKS Pacific - #SofiaAdventures - Review

13:55 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

LM has been a Sofia the First fan for some time and the adventures of the little girl who suddenly becomes a princess when her mother marries the King are familiar to all of us in our house. She already has some of the lovely Sofia the First toys available but she was delighted to receive a wonderful parcel of the new range from JAKKS Pacific recently.
Sofia the First Toys from JAKKS Pacific - #SofiasAdventures - Review

A big box filled with tissue paper and toys is always so exciting, and this was a fantastic delivery. Find out what was in the box here:

Once unboxed it was time to get started with the toys. First up we had three of the Sofia the First with Royal Friend 3" figure sets. LM has quite a few of these figures from past collections and we both really like them. As Sofia and her friends are little girls it is appropriate that these are small figures and that each comes with an animal friend. They aren't a fashion doll like some of the other Disney princess dolls, instead they have moving arms and and are simply  hinged at the waist which allows them to sit and stand.
Sofia the First Toys from JAKKS Pacific - #SofiasAdventures - Blog  Review

LM received Sofia with Clover, Jade with Crackle and Ruby with Mia. The animal friends are a really nice addition and one that has really enhanced the way LM plays with the figures, especially as Clover and Crackle are two of her favourite characters in the show. Amber and Sofia in two other outfits complete the range. These are lovely little sets which I can see making their way into a few Christmas stockings this year. RRP £5:99.
Sofia the First Toys from JAKKS Pacific - #SofiasAdventures - Blog  Review

Next up we have two Sofia the First Mini Playsets (RRP £9:99). First is the Royal Prep Art Class which sees Sofia dressed for painting with a big easel on a stand and paintbrush. The painting canvas rotates between one side with an outline of Minimus to colour in, and the other having a blank side. This is easy to turn to the side you require by simply pushing it around. What isn't immediately apparent is that the paintbrush actually works! Simply dip the sponge end in water and apply it to the canvas on either side to reveal a surprise! LM loved this interactive element to this playset, I think it's been her favourite element of any of the toys.
Sofia the First Toys from JAKKS Pacific - #SofiasAdventures - Review

The second Mini Playset is Princess Amber's Closet. All Sofia the First fans will know how much Princess Amber loves her clothes and this set really reflects that. The closet part of the playset rotates like the easel in Sofia's art set, with a row of beautiful gowns on one side and a mirror on the other. The playset has an Amber figure wearing her trademark yellow dress. In addition there is a feather headdress, necklace and skirt to customise her look further. Both LM and I really liked this element as, with the nature of the small dolls, they can't be changed, so having items to add was a very good idea. There are other playsets available in the range, including a Princess Sofia Magical Lab and I think that they work really nicely together, especially with the addition of the 3" figures and their animal friends. LM has been playing really imaginatively and using the sets and the figures to tell stories from some of her favourite Sofia episodes.
Sofia the First Toys from JAKKS Pacific - #SofiasAdventures - Review

LM also received the Sofia the First Royal Camera, this is a really fun toy which has been found in her bag wherever she's gone since it arrived. If only because having her own camera means she can 'be like mummy'. The camera is beautifully decorated including Mia, Sofia's blue bird friend. As you hold the camera to your eye you can press the shutter button to cycle through the various different iimages from the show. This is really fun and reminds me of the Viewfinder toys that I used to play with. This is the perfect accessory for little Sofia fans and LM is very pleased with it (RRP £9:99)
Sofia the First Toys from JAKKS Pacific - #SofiasAdventures - Review

The other perfect accessory in LM's parcel was this super cute Sofia the First Royal Tiara. This is decorated with lots of gems and really sparkles. It can be a little tricky as we find that the front of the tiara detached from the band quite easily so we need to make sure it's attached properly before LM wears it. She insists on it and it looks so pretty in her hair and it looks just like Sofia's own tiara. I think she may well be asking Father Christmas for a Sofia dress to wear to complete her look. (RRP £4:99).
Sofia the First Toys from JAKKS Pacific - #SofiasAdventures - Review Tiara

The parcel was rounded out by a fantastic Sofia the First backpack. LM loves a backpack, especially when it features one of her favourite characters. This is a really roomy bag with the addition of a second pocket which is perfect for smaller bits and pieces. She's actually been using it to keep all of her Sofia the First toys in since it arrived and she was super excited when Grandma bought her a Sofia the First keyring to attach to it. The straps are fully adjustable which means it will grow with your child. We both love the watercolour-style view of the kingdom design on the bag.
Sofia the First Toys from JAKKS Pacific - #SofiasAdventures - Review backpack

LM's final item was a copy of the Sofia the First magazine. We love magazines in our house and it is one of Bud and LM's favourite treats. We've never bought the Sofia the First magazine before but LM and I really enjoyed looking at it together. It has a good mix of fun, educational activities and stories and LM loved the alphabet poster in the centre of the magaizine.
Sofia the First Toys from JAKKS Pacific - #SofiasAdventures - Review Magazine

We really rate the new range of Sofia the First toys and I think they will delight a lot of children. The figures are age appropriate and really reflect the style of the TV show well, this makes them great for imaginative play and LM has really got on board with that element of play with these toys. They are really good quality and well priced.

The Sofia the First range from JAKKS Pacific is available from Smyths Toys now.