Fisherprice: My first Thomas all around sodor


If you are regular reader you may know that Blake who is 20 months is obsessed with trains.
We have quite a few train books and a train set that he loves and now we have added a new toy to his collection the My first Thomas all around Sodor.


The Thomas set is a good size and the track is very easy to put together.The set even comes with a motorised Thomas train and cargo set. It comes with instructions but i found it simple to put it together by looking at the box as to where each piece of the track goes.  Blake was very excited when he saw the set and was very eager to play with it so I let him play with Thomas whilst I put the track together. 

There are 7 pieces of track which clip  together which are in different colors. Blake has a train set which he already loves but this is different in the sense of you press the color- coordinated buttons and Thomas automatically knows where to go. Thomas is brought to life with his eyes and mouth magically moving. By pressing the yellow button to head to Tidmouth Sheds Thomas can interact with Percy, James, Gordon, and Sir Topham Hatt. By pressing the green button Thomas will chuff over to chat with Cranky the Crane at Brendam Docks, and manually load and unload the cargo.

The set is great for little people the only fault I can think of is that I found that it sometimes derails when going round the shake shake bridge. Other than that Blake loves it and will happily sit there watching Thomas going round the track and getting us to push the buttons on Thomas to take him to the the different areas of the track. 


The Fisher-Price Thomas and Friends, all around sodor set retails at £39.99.
It is a great fun toy for little Thomas fans. 

*I was sent the Thomas and Friends all around sodor for this review although all opinions are of my own. 

The Jungle Book: 2016 Movie


I've loved Disney films since I was a little girl and Jungle Book has definitely been within my top 10 Disney films. When I heard that The Jungle Book movie was coming out this year I knew that I wanted to see it. On Monday 22nd August it was released on DVD and Blueray and knew as soon as I had some free time I would be watching it!

In this new Jungle Book film they still have a few of the classic songs such as "The Bare Necessities," and "I Wanna Be Like You" but not as jazzy. The movie is very visually stunning and casts some famous names you may have heard of such as Scarlett Johansson, Bill Murray and Christopher Walken to name a few. 

The story is the same as the original: 
 Mowgli is found as a baby/toddler by a black panther called Bagheera. Bagheera takes the baby Mowgli to an Indian wolf pack he knows of and it is pack Rama and his mate Raksha that care for Mowgli.The film of course covers the death threats to Mowgli from the Bengal Tiger, Shere Khan. It's decided Bagheera should take Mowgli to the "Man Village" as it would be more safer for him.  On the journey of course Mowgli meets Kaa and King Louie too.

Overall I loved the film but I definitely prefer the  older version which will always stay a firm favorite. 

Have you watched the new 2016 The Junge Book? What did you think? If not than I'd love to know if its a film you plan on watching.

Short term loans with Vivus

I'd like to think I'm careful with my money. I've never had a loan before or a credit card but sometimes things can crop up that aren't planned for and a short term loan that I could pay back in one go, once I’ve been paid would be ideal. When it comes to my money I like to be in control about where it goes and what it is spent on. I feel the same when it comes to the idea of taking out a loan. I'm definitely a person who would only take out a loan that I knew I could pay back in one go as I hate the idea of getting into debt. I know this isn't something that everyone can do but if you are able to than definitely a short term loan could be for you. 

I'm sure you all will have had something crop up such as a high value item needing to be replaced and panicking about how you would afford such an item. We have had a few times in the past when a high value item such as the TV needs to be replaced but we've not had the money right then and there to sort it. Our biggest was when our washing machine broke down and as it wasn't the landlords responsibility we had to go without until we was able to sort something ourselves. So this type of loan from Vivus would be ideal especially as the first loan you take out with them is half price. When it comes to taking out a loan I'd want the process to be quick and easy for me since I am a busy mum and don't have time to be on the phone on hold for ages. So applying online from the comfort of my own home is a great way to do this. No hidden fees is also a biggy for me as I don't want to be paying out more than I was expecting to.

I like that with Vivus if a customer misses an agreed payment date that they are given 5 days to make the payment before any late payment charges and any interest that would be added on a daily basis are made. This for me is great as it would encourage me to make sure payments are made on time, after all no one wants to have to pay out more than necessary. Of course there are times when you may get paid later than you should have been which is one of the reasons I think that being given 5 days to make payment before late charges and interest are added is a great idea. 

Short term loans can often get bad press and negative stigma around them. But with Vivus they don't want their customers to get into debt but to be able to help them out of short term difficulty. This means that they are flexible and understanding of their customers and provide customers with only what they need placing control into their hands. 


Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour


I had been thinking of visiting the Harry Potter Warner Bros Studio Tour  for awhile now as
I thought it would be a great day out and I loved the idea of seeing behind the scenes from the films. I was thinking of it being something for us to do next year but the studio got in touch asking if I would like tickets for me and Stuart. So it meant we could go sooner!

Getting to the studio by public transport is pretty easy we got a train to Watford Junction and then got a shuttle bus which takes you directly to the studio and return ticket on the bus is £2.50 per person. 

We had a time slot of 10am so we had to get up pretty early as my Mum was looking after Blake for the day.  When we arrived the place was packed! It's definitely advisable to arrive within good time due to this. Make sure to have your cameras at the ready, as the experience begins even before you enter the Great Hall!



There is a guided tour of the Great Hall which you see within your time slot but after you are free to guide yourself around the rest of the tour. There is so much to see and I'd definitely at some point would love to go again.

I loved that they had little boards up that explained more about the props, sets and characters. We wondered in taking in as much as we could and they have special events throughout the year. we visited during 'Finding The Philosopher's Stone' event. A number of the early versions of the Philosopher’s Stone was on display and we also got to see how they made Unicorn blood and there was a chance to play with Fluffys drool and troll bogies. 










We chose not to do the wand training or broomstick flying as they were far too expensive at £14 for one photo or £40 for two photos and a video. 

One of the places I had been looking forward to was the Hogwarts Express and platform 9 3/4. The area offers a glimpse into how some of the films’ most iconic scenes were created as well as giving you the chance to climb aboard the train’s carriage and to pose with a luggage trolley as it disappears through the platform wall. Although again you had to pay to have photos done. There is also the chance for you to browse a wide range of goodies inspired by the Harry Potter films and, specifically,  Hogwarts Express in a train-themed souvenir shop which was open on the platform.



After visiting the Hogwarts Express there is the Backlot cafe where we decided to get some food. Unfortunately it is rather pricey we got two roles, a capri-sun and tankard of Butterbeer which in total cost just under £15. They were tasty but definitely overpriced and we would have brought our own food if we had known this. 

We got one tankard of frothy Butterbeer to share which is an non-alcoholic beverage which is reminiscent of shortbread and butterscotch. We chose to get the Butterbeer in the souvenir tankard as we didn't plan on getting anything from the souvenir shops. I enjoyed the taste of the foam on top but not too sure how I felt about the taste of the drink itself as it was quite odd.

If we were to go again I'd definitely like to try out the Butterbeer ice-cream which is available to  enjoy in a waffle cone for £4.95 or in a souvenir sundae dish for £6.95.


After having a bite to eat we headed out to continue the tour which is outside the backlot and includes number 4 Privet Drive which is open until 5th September. We got to also experience more magic with walking along Diagon Alley and seeing the scale model of Hogwarts. 











Overall Stuart and I really enjoyed ourselves and had an incredible day. We were there for about approximately 3 hours or maybe longer. We probably would have stayed longer if we had been more prepared food wise, I'd definitely go again in the future.

*We were given tickets for the Harry Potter Studio Tour in return for this review. All thoughts, opinions and photos are of my own.
  

Tommee Tippee Mini Moments




Today is the start of the Asda baby and toddler event and they are giving away a free pack of Mini Moments cards for every manual breast pump or newborn starter set sold. I also have 5 sets to giveaway to my lucky readers. 


Tommee Tippee Mini Moments cards have been designed with a twist on traditional baby milestone cards. They are an ideal way to capture the highs and lows of parenting.

Mini Moments include 20 beautifully illustrated cards to capture those momentous occasions and 20 real-life cards to capture the often humorous lows of parenting.Simply place the cards next to baby, take a photo and share instant memories with friends and family. Mini Moments make a great gift for any new parent! 





Now I have the chance for one of my readers to win one of five packs of Mini moments cards.

HOW TO ENTER:
- Enter via the rafflecopter below
- Leave a comment below anwsering the question in the rafflecopter 
- The more entries you complete the better the chance of winning

T&C
- This competition will close on 29th August 2016 at 12.00am GMT 
- The winner will be chosen at random and notified via email, twitter or facebook
- Open to UK residents ONLY
- You must be a UK resident and over 16


a Rafflecopter giveaway

How wheelchair friendly is our local shopping area


I was recently challenged by Fenetic Wellbeing to see how accessible my home town is for wheelchair users. Now I live in a small town so Stuart and I traveled to one of our nearest shopping center's to see how accessible the place is for wheelchair users. 

First of all we popped into the shopping center (The Mall Luton) we found that the paths and walkways  in the center are wide enough for wheelchair users and also the paths are level and smooth and free from obstructions. There is car park in which there are 48 designated disabled parking spaces which have enough room for wheelchair users to get in and out of. The only downside I found is that we found the spaces hard to find. 

We headed into Primark which is in the mall to have a wonder round and see what facilities they have for wheelchair users there are no steps into the entrance which was a positive start. To get on to other floors the only way for wheelchair users is the lift which means if the lift was to break down there is no other way for wheelchair users to access the other floor of the shop. There are no disabled changing rooms either which was a disappointment as the changing rooms themselves are rather small. There are no toilets in the store either and counter height isn't really suitable. 


After a wonder around the other shops we headed off for lunch at Nando's. Nando's is situated on the ground floor of the Galaxy center which is a short distance away from the Mall. Like Primark there is no steps to the entrance but there is also a good amount of space for wheelchair users to move around the tables. There is one disabled toilet which is situated at the back of restaurant which is usually locked unless needed but has a good amount of space. There is a second floor to the restaurant with a little dining area which is only accessible via stairs. 

Last of all we headed upstairs of the Galaxy center to the cinema there is a lift available for access to the cinema but there didn't look as if there were any options for access to that floor if the lift was to break down. We headed to the drinks/food stand to order popcorn and the height of the counters are definitely not suitable for wheelchair users as at 5ft 6 myself I found it high for me. The doorways and aisles are wide enough and there is designated seating for wheelchair users at the back near the entrance there are no ushers around so I was unsure how wheelchair users would signal if they needed help. There is also a disabled toilet which has sufficient space too. 

How wheelchair friendly do you think your town or local shopping area is? 


Simple Steps To Improve Your Self Esteem

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‘Self esteem’- something you probably had by the bucket load as a kid. You probably thought you could do anything, or achieve anything you want. But over time, life has a funny way of putting you down. A failure here, a heartbreak there or a nasty comment there; it can all chip away at your self worth and make you lose confidence in yourself and your abilities. But it doesn’t have to be this way, self worth is so important and so you should do everything you can to bring it back if yours has fallen by the wayside. Here are a few of the ways you can improve your self esteem!


Look Your Best
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It’s said that confidence comes from within, however we all know that how we look on the outside can drastically affect how confident we feel. We’ve all had a bad hair day, worn an unflattering outfit or gained some extra weight at one stage or another and it’s made us just want to hide away. Looking our best and feeling happy with our looks can increase confidence no end. Taking steps to look your best includes looking after your body with a healthy diet, exercise and plenty of water. Wearing clothes that flatter your shape and look good on you, and keeping your hair and teeth healthy and looking nice. If you’ve always had an issue with a certain part of your appearance, there’s no need to simply accept it and go on disliking it forever. There are so many simple and safe procedures that can be done these days, and if you think something like this would make you happier and more confident why wouldn’t you? You could have your teeth made to look straighter and whiter with veneers, or even remove pockets of stubborn fat using fatfreezing techniques to sculpt your figure. Sometimes there’s nothing you’re able to do to change things about your appearance, but can be put right with a few simple trips to a dentist or salon. So why not just go for it?


Do Things You’re Good At
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Were you always told that you were great at painting or writing when you were young? Perhaps you used to be good at a certain sport? It’s difficult to keep up hobbies when you have a busy adult life, but doing things you’re good at and enjoy is a great way to build self esteem. Re ignite the passion you once had for these activities, buy some art supplies or sign up to a class at your local sports centre. Whatever it is, you’ll be glad you did! Even if you go into it as a total beginner, over time as your talent grows you will develop more self esteem.


Make Friends
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Friends really bring you out of your shell, they introduce you to new things and new experiences that you might never have come across on your own. Make the effort to strengthen the friendships you have, rekindle old ones and meet new friends too wherever possible. Socialising and feeling accepted as well as trying new things and gaining new perspectives are all great self esteem boosters. A good network of friends can help you to achieve this.

Jealous Sweets


Sometimes its nice to have a little sweet treat and that's when the brand Jealous sweets come in. Their 50g boxes retail at £2.50 which is a great price if you wanted to treat someone in your life to a little something.

Jealous Sweets are 100% vegetarian, gluten free, full of natural fruit juices and free from artificial colours and flavours. There are seven different sweet boxes in the range which include Fruitilicious, Tropical Wonder, Fizzy Friends, Grizzly Bears, Sour Beans, Yummy Bears and Tangy Worms. My favorite have to be the Yummy bears. 

The Rental Market: My Experience


I've been renting now with Stuart for nearly 8 years and I'm not going to lie sometimes it can be extremely difficult. I moved out of the family home when I was 18 and wasn't ready for the shock reality of renting, however I'm glad I did it.  

Rental and other housing costs are increasing and work salaries aren't  which as a renter makes it a worrying situation. It's very difficult for us and others like us to afford rent/mortgages which is hence why a lot of people in their mid-late 20's are still living at home. 

This means we are now having to look at our budget and look into what we can cut back and on ways in which we can save money on our bills etc. We live in the south east and have found that as we have a direct route to London rental prices are pretty high compared to some other areas of the UK. 

Over the last 8 years we have dealt with a range of estate agents and our current home is our fifth home together. Some agents have been really good when we have had issues with the property and others not so good. We have only ever dealt with a landlord one to one once before. 

As a renter it's important for us to make sure we have insurance in case anything goes wrong and also important for landlords to be able to get cheap landlord insurance as well just in case. 

I can't see us in the future wanting to buy a place to rent out but HomeLet are launching a second edition of #LandlordsAdvice e-book that offers advice to landlords so will something worth reading if you are planning on renting out a place anytime soon. The e-book will include ​Including useful, insightful and expert information​ on the effect of #Brexit, the importance of good tenant referencing and using HomeLet's unique rental index dat​​​​a.







Avoiding Stress When Planning A Holiday: Essentials For Parents

It’s summer, and for many of us, this is a time of year when we think about planning holidays and enjoying a break. Travelling with kids is notoriously stressful, but planning ahead can help to alleviate issues. Are you planning a holiday this summer? Or are you looking at options for next year? If so, here are some essentials to get you through.

Travel documents and insurance
You can’t go anywhere if you haven’t got the relevant documents. Make sure everybody is up to date and has what they need before you start searching for the best deals. Have your kids got passports? Are they in date? Are your passports valid? Have you got enough time left on them to travel long-haul? If you need new passports, it’s always wise to give yourself time. In the busy summer months, it can take months to get your new documents sent out. If you’re going on a last-minute holiday and you haven’t got a valid passport, arrange an express appointment at a local passport office.

Depending on where you’re travelling, you may need a visa. Do some research online, or contact your tour operator if you’ve already booked a holiday. You can often apply online. If you’re going to Canada, for example, you can access Canadian eta forms via the Internet.

Always make sure you have travel insurance before you go away. This will provide cover if you lose luggage, your flight is cancelled, or you have an accident abroad. You can compare prices and get quotes online using comparison sites. If you plan to do any adventure sports while you’re away, make sure your policy covers this.







Getting around
Before you travel, work out how you’re going to get around, and what you’re going to do. If you plan to get out and about, it’s a good idea to investigate car hire. Booking a car before you go is likely to save you time and money. If you don’t want to drive abroad, but you want to explore, take a look at excursions and public transport options. You may find that you need to book ferry, train or bus tickets before you go.

If you’re staying at a beach resort and you’re spending most of your time at the hotel, you may only need a transfer from the airport. Many packages include transfers. If you haven’t already got them, you can usually add them for a fee. Alternatively, you can book your own private transfer, or jump in a taxi when you arrive at the airport.


Packing tips
When you’re packing for yourself and the kids, it can be a time-consuming process. Write a list a couple of weeks before your departure date. Do your washing and ironing the week before, and pack each case individually. If there’s anything you need to buy, such as sun cream, do your shopping in advance.



Planning a holiday should be an exciting process. But if you’re a busy parent, it can get a little hectic and stressful. Take these tips on board to ensure you have everything you need and you’re organised before you go.

Leighton Buzzards Children's Trail


I'd been meaning to do the Leighton Buzzard children's trail for awhile so Blake and I met up with some friends and decided to do it one Thursday morning. It's a great activity to do with little ones and certainly something to do again when Blake is older and can help find the artworks himself. 

We started the trail at the library where you pick up a map which also has clues for us to find the artworks. You have to look up, down and around and we were all determined to find them. 

The trail is partly inspired by the books of Mary Norton (who lived in the town as a child). Some of the quotes and artwork are obvious which book they are from such as the bear being from "We're going on a bear hunt" and the golden ticket from "Charlie and the chocolate factory"  The trail is estimated to take about on average an hour to complete but for us it took two as we really struggled to find one particular quote but we got there in the end. 

What I loved about the trail was that it got us all really looking into exploring different areas of the town as well as noticing things a bit more as some of the artworks I've never noticed before even though we live here. 




Small Poundland Haul

I've not done a haul post for awhile but today I wanted to share with you a few bits I picked up in our local poundland for Blake. 

They are all things for activities to do with him and at £1 each I thought they were a bargain as he will get so much use out of them. 


Pom Pom balls are ideal for doing a range of activities with. We did a scooping activity yesterday with them but u can also use them for other activities for fine motor skills and for using in crafts. 


These skittles are great I picked them up as Blake loves ball games and this would be a fab for him to enjoy and can be used indoors as well as outdoors. 


This egg and spoon toy set is great for role play. We can pretend to make cakes, use the spoons for stirring, scooping etc. 

Playdough is something I wanted to get Blake into and both the 4 mini dough pots and dough bucket are a great way to start. We are yet to try them but I think its a great starter set as I don't want to spend a lot on the playdough brand when he may not be that interested in it yet. 


What do you think of my little haul? Have you picked up any bargains in your local poundland? 

In the night garden live

                         


Every evening at 6:20 on the dot we make sure that we have Cbeebies (channel 121) on for Blake for his favorite program - In the night garden. It has become routine for us to do this every evening and he has loved watching In the night garden since he was tiny. Iggle Piggle is Blake's favorite character and he gets very excited when he comes on the screen. 

As a parent I must admit the songs are rather catchy and I sometimes find myself humming the theme tune during the day. Whenever Blake hears the theme tune he is straight to the TV and there is no getting him away from it. 


Blake is such an In the night garden fan that he has quite a selection of toys, books and clothing. His favourite is a large Iggle Piggle which Stuart purchased for him last year when we were browsing in Toys R Us. So I knew that I wanted us to take him to In the night garden live and so it was decided that we would make a weekend of it and travel up to Manchester. There are a choice of two shows; the Ninky Nonk show where Iggle Piggle loses his blanket and the the Pinky Ponk Show where Makka Pakka washes faces.  We went to the Ninky Nonk show. 




In the night garden live takes place in its own all-weather, purpose-built inflatable Showdome with many family-friendly facilities. This dome is a huge hit with children and parents and its theatrical experience makes audiences feel they are actually entering the magical world of In the night garden. 

We ended up turning up at the showdome 1 minute before the show was due to start as we had actually got lost on the way. On arrival the staff were lovely - they showed us where to park our buggy and then took us to where there was space for us to sit. 

Luckily we made it just in time for the show to start and when the theme tune started, Blake got very excited. The show lasted for about an hour and was like the TV program with the starry night scene at the beginning. They included most characters: 
Iggle Piggle, Upsy Daisy, Makka Pakka, the Tomliboos and the Teeny Tiny Pontipines. 






The show brought the dome to life with magical music, puppets, actors and full sized versions of Iggle Piggle, Uspy Daisy and Makka Pakka. Blake hardly took his eyes away from the stage and when he did it was only to look at one of us to giggle and smile. 
The show is also narrated by Sir Derek Jacobi who is the voice of the TV show. 

In the Ninky Nonk show Iggle Piggle loses his blanket and all his friends help him to find it.
All characters make an appearance in both shows so there will be no need for your child/ren to miss there favorite. Stuart and I were extremely impressed with how the show was put together and Blake was transfixed from the beginning. 





In the foyer there are plenty of souvenirs starting at as little as £5 so there is bound to be something you can find for your little In the night garden fan. We also picked up a goody bag that we had purchased in advance for £29 which on the day cost £39 with goodies worth over £60. The goody bags offer you great value. Because it's sold as a package, you get a big saving on retail prices. 






The Goody Bag Contains: 

 - Light Up Windmill - £7.50

- Hand puppet - £4.50

- Magazine - £2.75

-  A Tombliboo Soft Toy - £5.50
- Souvenir Story Book Set - £12
-  Drinking Bottle - £6.50
-  Four Puzzle Set - £12
-  'Magical Times' DVD - £10

We are very impressed with the contents of the goody bag and there are things suitable for all ages. Blake especially loves the light up windmill and Iggle Piggle puppet. 








Last of all we chose to pay £15 so that Blake could meet Iggle Piggle. There was a choice of meeting Iggle Piggle or Upsy Daisy after the show. The special experience takes place in a private area when the only people present will be your family, an usher and the character. 
The meeting lasts between 2-3 minutes where you will have the chance to have your photo taken.  The maximum number of people (children and adults) in one meeting is 5, of which no more than 3 can be children.

When we first went in Blake was rather shy on meeting his favourite character which made it hard to get a photo of just him on his own. However we manged to get one with all of us and as you can see Blake would rather look at Iggle Piggle than the camera. 


Overall it was such a fantastic family day out we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves  especially Blake.

*We were provided tickets to In the night garden live for the purpose of this review. However all photos, thoughts and opinions are my own.