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Thursday, 28 August 2014

18 ways to make the most of TalkTalk's great value offerings

  1. Save £22 a year by switching to online bills
  2. Keep tabs on your spending with the new MyTalkTalk mobile app
  3. Double the data on TalkTalk mobile plans if you buy online
  4. Get 10% off calls to friends and family
  5. 15% speedy payment discount on bills paid within a day of notification
  6. Only provider with totally unlimited broadband on all packages, with no caps meaning TalkTalk never slows customers down
  7. Unique free service to report and block nuisance calls
  8. Rent 100s of new release movies on TalkTalk Box Office
  9. Phone and privacy features like voicemail, caller display and anonymous caller reject – at no extra cost
  10. Watch 100's of hours of Sky entertainment shows on demand
  11. Free HomeSafe, TalkTalk's groundbreaking online protection
  12. TalkTalk Mobile is available exclusively to TalkTalk customers offering the best mobile prices
  13. TalkTalk Mobile offers simple and affordable ways of getting online
  14. Until 30 September: customers can get the Samsung Galaxy Fame from just £3.75 a month and the brand new Nokia 360 from just £5 a month
  15. Tablet and mobile bundles are also half price, ideal for kitting the kids out for school or universtity and starting from just £7.50 a month
  16. Get double the data when you buy online
  17. Save up to £240 on the latest smartphones with their nearly new range
  18. Latest flagship handsets include the LG G3, Samsung Galaxy S5 and Nokia 930


money saving, budgeting

Proud TalkTalk Family Blogger

Friday, 22 August 2014

Jackson Reece Launches in Boots!

When Freddy was a baby we loved using Jackon Reece's Herbal Wipes as they are so pure and 'kinder by nature'.  They give you the convenience you need when dealing with a baby in need of cleaning up, but are also free from the nasties associated with some other brands, being made from 99% naturally derived plant based ingredients.  They also do Unscented Wipes, ideal if you have a baby with particularly sensitive skin or eczema.  Jackson Reece also produce the brilliant Nose Nuzzles for cleaning and soothing little noses, when children have a cold. They are greener, safer and kinder products to use on our precious children's skin.

The brand has gone from strength to strength, since being developed by parents Colin and Janet on their kitchen table, gaining overwhelming positive feedback worldwide and winning over 20 industry awards. 

Now, you can buy Jackson Reece products from Boots stores nationwide, making them even more convenient!

babies, wipes, greener wipes

Product range available at BOOTS

Nose Nuzzles RRP £2.49
Unscented Baby Wipes RRP £2.00
Herbal baby Wipes RRP £2.00

50 Days of Summer - Our Holiday Round Up

This summer has been all about family and fun.  We have holidayed in a forest, been to the beach, sailed to the Isle of Wight, visited museums, learned new skills and the girls have even learned how to drive.  The children have seen all three sets of their grandparents in one week (this is the first time this has happened given that they have grandparents that are spread across Surrey, Wales and the Isle of Man) and enjoyed quality time with their cousin's baby, the gorgeous little Michael, who stayed with us for a week.  We've Skyped my nephew Tom and his beautiful new wife Ashley, following their wedding in Georgia.  Ella received her A'Level results getting an A, 2 Bs and a C (the Maths exam was a killer this year!) and is set to go to her first choice university in September. The girls went to V Festival (we bought them tickets for Ella's 18th birthday) and had the best day ever watching The Killers, Jason Derulo, Nile Rodgers, Rudimental and many more great acts. 

We've really enjoyed our time together this summer, nothing beats the time spent with my kids!

summer, family, holidays


The weather has mostly been kind to us, and the sun has shone on the days that we wanted it to.  With just a couple more weeks before the kids return to school, we hope to make the most of the remaining days of freedom (even though the sunshine seems to have taken its leave!)

If you need any inspiration for keeping the family occupied, don't forget that you can get ideas for days out and things to do in the Robert's Bakery 50 Days of Summer guide.  You can download a free copy of the 50 Days of Summer guide here.

If you have any picnics on the agenda you can definitely make them more fun by making some creative sandwiches.  We made some amazing sandwich creations at the Blogger's Picnic earlier this year.

One other activity we are hoping to catch is the Playmobil 40th Annmiversary Tour where life sized Playmobil models will be making an appearance at the following venues:

Today: Fri 22nd Aug - Birmingham Cathedral

Sat 23rd Aug - Derby
Sun 24th Aug -Liverpool
Mon 25th Aug (Bank Holiday) - Manchester
Wed 27th Aug (Morning) - Newcastle
Wed 27th Aug (After school) -Glasgow
Thurs 28th Aug - Middlesbrough
Fri 29th Aug - Leeds
Sat 30th Aug - Nottingham
Sun 31st Aug - Leicester

To find out more details about when and where, keep an eye on the PLAYMOBIL UK Facebook page.

However you plan to spend the rest of the precious days of summer, have fun!!

Thursday, 21 August 2014

We did the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

My nephew Thomas nominated his step-mum Katey to take part in the ice bucket challenge for charity. Being the amazing woman that she is, she took on the challenge brilliantly and then nominated me to take part!  Not one to ever shirk on a challenge myself, I, with the help of my three littlies added myself to the list of people taking part to raise both awareness and money for charity.  We donated to the Motor Neurone Disease Association, as we have been really moved by the ALS videos we have watched, and the story behind the campaign.  Knowing that families affected by this disease are behind this social media campaign, and that so much money has been raised for this worthy cause, made us absolutely certain that taking part was the right thing to do.

When the A list celebrities take part in the Ice Bucket Challenge, they tend to be somewhere warm and sunny.  Shropshire is unfortunately neither of those things.  It's downright chilly at the moment. Nevertheless, the kids armed themselves with buckets of cold water in readiness to give me a good soaking.  Freddy took a bit too much pleasure in squirting me in the face to add to my experience.  But it was all good fun.

            


In an act of motherly revenge, I nominated them to take part...plus I nominated Helen from The Crazy Kitchen (she is totally game for a laugh).  My kids thoroughly enjoyed doing their bit and passing the baton on to their friends.  We look forward to seeing what they do in the name of charity and for this social media phenomena!

           


I love that people are getting behind this challenge and are doing it for charities that they support as well as for the MND/ALS charities.  Anything that gets money and raises awareness for good causes has got to be a positive thing, how ever silly it is.  Plus seeing celebrities getting behind it has provided some brilliant entertainment. Russell Brand, Kermit the Frog, Ben Affleck & Jennifer Garner and Bill Gates are my favourite Ice Bucket Challengers so far!

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

The Very Best Sheepdog, Colin the Crab and the Official Playmobil Annual 2015 - children's book reviews

The Very Best Sheepdog

When Ben, a gentle sheepdog, befriends Bo, a fun-loving lamb, he becomes the laughing stock of the farm yard. With both his parents being prizewinners, the expectation on Ben was high, but he just couldn't herd sheep.  But when a storm comes and scares all the sheep away, it's Ben who has to save the day. With his good nose and his love for Bo, Ben bravely battles the elements to try and save the flock.

The gentle text and illustrations bring the story of an unusual friendship to life.  It is a heart warming tale about nature and farming, which shows how perseverance and self belief can overcome difficulties.  The relationship between Bo and Ben is so cute and beautifully portrayed.  At the end of the book, little ones will be rooting for Ben!

children's book review

The Very Best Sheepdog by Pinny Grylls and illistrated by Rosie Wellesley
RRP £5.99 Pavilion Children's Books

Colin the Crab

This little pop-up book from Norfolk based beach merchandise company Gone Crabbing, is not only a lovely story, it also contains a very important message about respecting creatures when crabbing and rock pooling at the beach.  It has some great pop-up elements to bring the story to life, which Freddy really enjoyed. 

Colin the Crab shares a rock pool with his best friends Sally the Starfish and Mike the Mussel.  They have an idyllic life until two children come along.  Colin watches in horror as his friends are caught and thrown into a bucket and taken away.  He sobs big salty tears as he tries to think of ways to get his friends back.  Thankfully, the children know how to treat living things and when they are returned to the rock pool at the end of the day, they explain to Colin how they were looked after by the children.  It is a really good way of showing families the right way to respect nature when it comes to compassionate crabbing and rock pooling.

Colin the Crab is not only the star of this book, he is also the star of the totally 'clawsome' range of seaside inspired gifts sold at Gone Crabbing.  He certainly is a cute little creature!  Hopefully, this story will encourage little ones to be more compassionate and respectful when they discover animals in the natural habitats.

This is a lovely gift idea, which compliments the other products in the Gone Crabbing range.

Gone Crabbing

Colin the Crab is by Susie Mason and illustrated and engineered by Robert Crowther.
Available from Gone Crabbing for £7.99 (also available is the Colin Crab mug and soap).


Official Playmobil Annual 2015

This is definitely one to look out for in the run up to Christmas if you have any Playmobil Knight fans at home.  Annuals always make great presents to pop under the tree and they keep kids amused for hours, so they are always a good buy.

The annual is full of puzzles, colouring pages, quizzes and games all based around helping the Green Dragon Knights defeat the evil Red Dragon Knights.

The book is perfect if your child is a fan of knights, dragons and castles as it is dedicated to that theme.  The content is like that found in an activity book and doesn't include stories or cartoon strips at all.  The paper is thick and glossy and the full colour photos are spectacular.

It's a great choice for Freddy but if you have a child who prefers princesses, animals or fairies, they may not be as keen on the Knight theme.

Playmobil, annual

RRP £7.99


We received these lovely books to review.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Goodyear Driving Academy and Young Driver - improving road safety for young people

The Goodyear Driving Academy is on a mission to improve the road safety of young drivers.  Their aim is to teach road and driving education to children from a young age, and the key to this is to provide parents and teachers with fun and interactive tools to help introduce kids to the rules of road safety long before they get behind the wheel of a car.  It is a frightening statistic that young drivers aged 17 - 24 year olds, account for 22% of injury road accidents, although they only make up 9% of road users. Their inexperience and youthfulness is often responsible for this over representation when it comes to accidents.  The current format of the driving test doesn't help youngsters learn true road safety with a graduated, long term approach to learning. It has been proven that teaching children about road safety from a younger age can have a positive effect on reducing young driver road accidents.  Goodyear are investing in this road safety revolution to give our youngsters a safer future on the roads.

The Goodyear Driving Academy has three main parts, each giving children and their parents, the opportunity to learn important road safety information and preparing young people to become tomorrow's drivers.

The Goodyear Driving Academy Parent Pack is a booklet of ideas, activities and information for parents to use with their children. It covers everything from crossing the road as a pedestrian; speed limits; driving conditions; the highway code and vehicle maintenance. The booklet is very user friendly with illustrations throughout and includes ideas for games to play with children to raise their awareness of road safety. You can download a PDF version here:  www.parents-matter.co.uk

road safety, kids driving lessons


The Driving Academy is a great online resource at drivingacademy.goodyear.com where children can learn the vital information and knowledge that they will need as future drivers. The basics of the highway code are presented as fun facts for kids to learn (also useful for polishing up road knowledge as an adult) plus there is a hazard perception game to give kids a taste of what it is like to be in control of a vehicle.  It's fun as well as being educational.  For car mad kids to teenagers about to sit their theory test, this is a great site.  The girls have enjoyed trying out the game and have learned some useful highway code knowledge.

The Young Driver scheme gives children as young as 11 the chance to get behind the wheel and learn the basics of driving for real in a safe off-road environment.  Youngsters get to drive a Skoda Citigo, fitted with Goodyear tyres, with a registered instructor, where they will learn the basics as well as manoeuvres such as reversing and parking. These young driver lessons take place around the country.  Kizzy and Ella were invited to have a go at a Young Driver driving lesson at Crewe.  Although Ella is now 18, she has been reluctant to start driving lessons and this was the perfect way to introduce her to driving a car for the first time.  Kizzy is 11, which seems so young to take control of a vehicle, but is the perfect age to start learning the necessary skills and building confidence!

The Young Driver site in Crewe was situated in a huge car park area for Bentley Motors.  Cones and road signs were laid out to create a road system where the cars could drive around.  The girls checked in and were assigned their driving instructors.  They headed out to their cars along with the other youngsters.  After some preliminary checks and instruction, the girls were off, driving around the course independently.

Goodyear, Admiral, young driver


The girls both did brilliantly.  Kizzy (in the white car) was a natural at steering and completed a slalom course during her hour's lesson.  Ella (in the red car) took really well to driving and even ended up parallel and reverse parking during her lesson. The instructors were really lovely, patient and friendly, giving good, clear instructions and advice.  After just one lesson, Ella is now confident enough to take to the road for real and has the advantage of her experience.  We plan to keep up Kizzy's driving lessons over the next few years and preparing her for when she is 17 and able to take her driving test.  

                                          


Not only was this a real learning experience for the girls, they also had a lot of fun.  It was brilliant watching them.  They both received a Driving Diary for them to record their progress in, which can be handed over to their future driving instructors, who will then be able to tailor their lessons accordingly.

I was lucky enough to jump into the backseat of Ella's car to film part of the lesson.  I was very proud of how cool and calm she remained, even with the pressure of having a passenger sat behind her, recording her every move.

                             


The Young Driver lessons are a great investment in a child's future and would make a fantastic birthday gift. I still can't believe my 11 year old drove an actual car...what a fantastic experience!

Prices start at £31.99 and you can find out more at:  www.youngdriver.eu

You can join in the conversation about the Goodyear Driving Academy and Young Driver on Twitter @goodyear_uk and @youngdriver

Tarzan - The Legend Lives

This new take on an old classic is an interesting re-imagining of the story of Tarzan.  A more realistic style of CGI animation creates a jungle which is not cutesy and cartoony, but wild and violent.  The themes are quite adult, with lots of quite shocking deaths. Definitely not one for sensitive children - and definitely worthy of the PG certificate.  The human characters bear an uncanny resemblance to SIMS characters, which humoured the older children no end.

Tarzan


Starting with a prehistoric meteor crashing to Earth, the story focuses on the ongoing search by Greystoke Energies for the powerful rock that possesses its own natural energy and has spawned its own ecosystem. During one such mission, Little Tarzan loses his parents in a helicopter accident and becomes adopted as part of a family of gorillas, where he learns how to be the 'hairless ape' of the jungle.  

Years later he ends up in conflict with the new CEO of his late father's company, the ruthless William Clayton, looking to exploit the area and its resources at any cost.

Jane is a conservationist who joins forces with Tarzan to help protect the jungle from the destructive intentions of  William Clayton. Romance blossoms between the pair and Tarzan is on hand to rescue her from the dangers of the jungle (in true classic Tarzan style). 

This film was indeed quite brutal in parts and the storytelling was aimed at older children.  Freddy cried at some of the more heartbreaking moments but cheered as Tarzan's famous battle cry united the jungle against the bad guys!

Out from 25th August from retailers such as Amazon where it is priced at £10 to pre-order on DVD or download to watch online.

downloadable activity sheet
Open in a new window and print out the worksheet.

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