Choosing the right car for Kids

Being a parent can be stressful at the best of times. You find yourself acting as a permanent taxi driver between school and ballet lessons, your car is now full of crisp and juice wrappers and you’ve also got to factor in the time it takes to wrestle with a baby seat. So is it time to say goodbye to your much-loved run around. In fact, choosing the right car for your kids doesn’t mean you have to wave goodbye to style and elegance, or even sex appeal. There are a range of vehicles on the market that offer practicality and sense at a price that won’t blow your budget out of the water.

You may have one child or be looking for something to use with your brood, don’t be daunted by the options available on the market. Choosing the right car for you, and the kids, need not cause you sleepless nights. Just be sure to take several factors into consideration before making your choice.

New versus Used

There might be nothing nicer than the smell of a brand new car, but do you realistically need to buy one when a used option will do? Even if you manage to get a great deal, consider how much of your monthly budget are you able to use on car loan repayments. Used cars, while a good option, should also be considered with care. Make sure you do your research online to find the best make and model for you. When going to look at your chosen vehicle, take time to go for a test drive and give the car a full inspection – you don’t want to miss any wear and tear that could cause future problems. You can take the risk out of buying used by visiting a dealership such as Mercedes Coldstream who approve the cars they offer in their range of used and new cars to help keep both you and the kids happy.

Running Costs

It might be the most beautiful car you’ve ever seen but how often will you need to keep filling up the tank? Running costs, such as fuel and part replacements can soon add up in larger models. Understand what journeys you need the car for, and be realistic about that you can expect your running costs to be.

Factor in the Family

Your little darlings are also your passengers, so taking their safety and comfort into consideration should be top of your list of priorities. Do you have space for that cumbersome child booster seat? Is the boot big enough for your weekly shop? Be practical and honest – after all this car is for your family, rather than just for you.

Before you start looking for a new car, identify what you need from the car. Your needs go beyond just needing transport. Consider comfort, safety and practicality to make sure that you buy a car that will take the kids into their teenage years.

6 Ways to Improve a Renovation Time

A home renovation project can be time consuming. Homeowners will therefore want to speed up the process so they can quickly enjoy their new design. However, a project can often range from a few weeks to a few years. We’re therefore offering six ways to improve a renovation time.

Provide Clear Instruction

The speed of the process can often be determined by a homeowner’s decisiveness, as well as how a renovation pro interprets your chosen brief. It’s therefore vital to provide clear instruction, so you’ll achieve a desired result in the fastest possible time. You must therefore provide as much detail as possible, so a designer, builder or architect will have a greater understanding of your vision.

Gain Planning Permission

A lack of planning permission can slow or shut down your home renovation project. It’s therefore essential to identify if your project will require planning permission as soon as possible. You must then apply to the relevant local planning authority, and it could take up to three months to receive permission.

Consider Your Neighbours

It only takes one disgruntled neighbour to slow down your home renovation project. They may also make an objection during the planning process, which could mark the end of the project before it has even started. Speak to a builder, architect or designer before you get started, as they will have experience anticipating potential problems. You can also prevent friction down the road by simply informing your neighbours of your renovation plans, which will allow you both to discuss any objections and possibly come to an agreement that suits everyone.

Set a Realistic Budget

A spiralling budget can often halt a home renovation project. We therefore recommend setting a realistic budget to keep a tight grasp on your finances from start to finish. Provide a builder, designer or architect with details on how much money you have available to spend, and provide an amount you feel comfortable spending on the project. You may think, ‘I’ll never finding an affordable builder near me’, but it’s easier than you’d think if use the internet, and it could help you make great savings. A builder will also have the knowledge and experience to advise you how to invest your money for the best result for your home.

Understand When Key Decisions Need to be Made

It’s not a builder’s responsibility to source a kitchen, flooring, bathroom fitting or tiling. It’s therefore advisable to speak to a contractor about the critical dates for decision making. The interior design materials will need to be selected by you in advance and ready for installation upon the builder’s request.

Add Time in the Schedule for Bespoke Items

Custom-made items will take a longer lead time in comparison to standard items. We encourage you to order bespoke items, such as full height doors, in advance to ensure they arrive on schedule. So, order the items as soon as possible to provide extra time for delivery.

Are you set to embark on a home renovation project? Share your plans by writing a comment below

#MySundayPhoto 04/12/16

Christmas tree 2016

Our Christmas tree is UP!

We’ve gone fake again this year and have pulled out our old tree. It’s a beautiful one we bought a couple of years ago but didn’t use it last year as we had a real one.

I do actually prefer a real Christmas Tree… it just seems more… I don’t know.. Christmassy! Think it’s that gorgeous smell that fills the room! We used to have a real tree every single year. However, I’m not sure what we do wrong but no matter which tree we buy (and it’s not as if we scrimp, we buy a good one) but it always ends up incredibly droopy by Christmas Day and looks a mess. I think our house might just be too warm. Our living room is always hot and cosy so maybe the tree doesn’t like it. I’ve no idea.

So we’re going with this one this year! It’s so pretty and I love our decorations. I let the kids put them on and we’ve gone with a less is more approach this year. Just putting our favourite ones on! Love this little Owl.. he has a hedgehog friend somewhere, and the lovely heart ornament above it!

Getting excited now for Christmas x


Teksta Scorpion – A Review

The twins were very excited to receive the Teksta Scorpion. Such a cool toy they said!

It’s a wireless, interactive robotic toy and once it arrived they absolutely couldn’t wait to open and play with it.

teksta scorpian

It does require 6 batteries though, that we had to rummage round the house for… 4 AA’s and two AAA’s, so if you buy one for a Christmas present, make sure you remember to buy some! O wanted to have a go at putting the batteries in by himself, something he hasn’t done before but so eager was he to get the toy to work he wanted to move fast!

teksta scorpian

I was hoping it would be easy to use. I have a 16 year old and I remember him having the odd robotic toy just like this when he was young that we could never work out how to use properly. The remote controls never made them move the way they were supposed to and in the end, my boy would just get fed up and the robot would get thrown aside in favour of some other toy. Not what I wanted when I paid a small fortune for the things!

Thankfully, the Teksta Scorpion is as easy as pie to use.

teksta scorpian

The ‘remote’ comes in the form of a ‘watch’ type controller that ties around the wrist and once you have it switched on and aligned, the motion sensor allows you to move the Scorpion around with a flick of the wrist! Or you can simply hold it in your hand, which might work better for small children.

The green block it comes with is for the front pincers to ‘grab’, and even though it does pick this up easily, you do have to manually open the pincers first.

It moves around easily on all surfaces with it’s six little legs. One of them did keep coming off ours but it easily popped back on.

My twins absolutely love this and were pretty much fighting over the controller for the first half an hour until they settled down a bit! The good news is though that the Teksta Scorpion comes in two colours, Red, like ours, and also Bronze…. so we might just have to add the bronze one to the boys’ Christmas list because you can play up to 8 of these together all at one, in battle!

How cool is that? Definitely a must have toy for any boy!

The Teksta Scorpion retails at £39.99 and is out now in all good toy retailers.

teksta scorpian

We were sent the product in exchange for an honest review. All words and opinions are my own and honest.

PAN – A World Premiere

As events go. this one was pretty special!

We were invited along to the World Premiere (yes you read that correctly) of brand new Hugh Jackman film, PAN!

pen movie premiere

How exciting is that? I did wonder if it would be as amazing as it sounded. Last year we attended a premiere and it WAS fab, but we didn’t get to mingle with the celebrities really because they seemed to go through a different entrance onto the red carpet and the rest of us mere mortals went in later!

This one was very different!

As soon as we arrived in Leicester Square we got a sense of something very important happening. The whole of the ‘square’ itself had been cut off to the public (who had to walk a different way round) and it had been turned into what can only be described as a film set from the PAN movie itself!

PAN movie premiere

Once we had passed security and handed in our tickets, we walked through the gates and into the event. Instead of a red carpet, it was blue… to imitate the sea. There were film camera’s and press photographers everywhere, it was so exciting!

The star of the film, Hugh Jackman, who plays Blackbeard, was walking around casually chatting to TV interviewers and fans before heading up onto the main platform to be interviewed. He looked ever so dashing, I’m just a bit disappointed I didn’t manage to grab a selfie with him! Damn!

hugh jackman pan premiere

The whole blue carpet event was being streamed live by Warner Bros. The sets were so big and colourful, so much to take in…. but it gave us a glimpse into what the wonderful Neverland would look like in the film!

pan premiereMy daughter posing with some dodgy looking pirates!

pan premiereAnd here meeting her very own tooth fairy 😉

We also rubbed shoulders with the other stars of the film, including Cara Delevegne who plays 3 mermaids….cara delevingne

Cute as a button Levi Miller who plays Peter….  (apologies for poor photo quality here)

levi miller

Also Garrett Hudland who plays Hook and Rooney Mara who plays Tiger Lily. I was in my element walking around, soaking up the atmosphere…. but soon we were being ushered inside to take our seats ready for the Premiere.

pan movie premiere

So what’s the film like?

Well, first of all, it’s a prequel. It let’s us in on the early life of Peter Pan and takes us on a journey from his very humble beginnings in a London orphanage, to being whisked away on board a flying Jolly Rodger ship to Neverland! It’s here where he find out who he truly is.

I loved the imagination behind it. The film was heartwarming and felt truly magical the whole way through. It was fast paced with lots of action packed and dare devil moments. The special effects were amazing.

We loved it!

My mind was still somewhere in the original story for a while though trying to link everything together, but I didn’t need to.

You see, with this film, you really don’t need to know or remember the original because this could be a standalone story all of it’s own. There are nods of course to the famous Peter Pan story that we know and love, and most of the characters are there but the emphasis is on different ones. Tinkerbell for example only makes a fleeting visit and Tiger Lily takes more of lead role. Hook isn’t the Hook we’re all used to, it’s Blackbeard who’s the one we’re loving to hate here!

Little Levi Miller, who plays PAN was sooo cute. He was brilliant and appeared in almost every single scene bless him.

Hugh Jackman was hardly recognisable as Captain BlackBeard. He was fabulous and deliciously bad! (I just love Hugh).

I won’t give away the storyline as  I think it will spoil it for you, but I definitely think it could carry on further into a follow up…. I’d love to see more!

The movie is out on general release on 16th October… Make sure you go and see it, it’s a great film that the whole family can enjoy together.

We were very kindly offered complimentary tickets for the Premiere but I was under no obligation to write this review. All words and opinions my own.

#HappyReaders with Roald Dahl at McDonalds

All kids love a Happy Meal don’t they?

It always feels like a treat for them, and for a very reasonable price, the kids get fed and also get a new toy – bonus!

I cannot tell you how many McDonalds toys we’ve collected over the years… probably millions! We do keep a lot of them because the children do go back and play with them again and again. But I have to admit to throwing many away when the kids aren’t looking!

Somehow though, I don’t think I’ll be throwing away any of the new offerings about to hit Happy Meals from today!

McDonald’s UK is bringing the extraordinary world of Roald Dahl to life for millions of children through a landmark books partnership.

Over the next six weeks, 14 million books featuring extracts from Roald Dahl’s most popular stories will be distributed as part of McDonald’s Roald Dahl Happy Meals. Families will be able to discover the famous author’s magical universe of characters, from the BFG and his ‘human beans’, to mischievous George and his Marvellous Medicine.

The results of a major, cross-generational survey of more than 3,000 UK grandparents, kids and parents on books and reading, are being released to mark the start of a landmark partnership between McDonald’s Happy Readers, the National Literacy Trust, Penguin Random House Children’s UK and the Roald Dahl Literary Estate.

McDonalds Happy ReadersWe attended a special event at the weekend in McDonalds Charing Cross, London to launch the new #HappReaders Partnership. We received all the books that you can collect with the Happy Meals over the next 14 weeks!

There are eight specially created Roald Dahl books being featured in the Happy Meal. Each book contains extracts from two Roald Dahl books plus brand-new activities. 

  • Roald Dahl’s Extraordinary Friends (featuring The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me and The BFG)
  • Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Families – (featuring Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Fantastic Mr Fox)
  • Roald Dahl’s Magical Mischief – (featuring George’s Marvellous Medicine and Matilda)
  • Roald Dahl’s Secret Plans – (featuring Esio Trot and The Twits)
  • Roald Dahl’s Curious Characters – (featuring The BFG and James and the Giant Peach)
  • Roald Dahl’s Beastly Creatures – (featuring The Witches and The Enormous Crocodile)
  • Roald Dahl’s Incredible Inventions – (featuring Charlie and The Chocolate Factory and George’s Marvellous Medicine)
  • Roald Dahl’s Clever Tricks – (featuring The Twits and Matilda)

mcdonalds happy readers
There are also three books available from £1 from WH Smith or Eason with the Happy Readers £1 book voucher:

  1. Spotty Powder and Other Splendiferous Secrets – featuring a secret chapter from the draft of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that was cut from the published book
  2. Roald Dahl’s Mischief and Mayhem – extracts from favourite Roald Dahl stories, with ideas for tricks and pranks inspired by them
  3. Spotty Powder and Other Splendiferous Secrets is also available as a free ebook via Kobo.

The event was super fun, we got to be involved with a special interactive story-telling experience.

happy readersPhoto credit: David Parry/PA Wire

The children were also given lots of activities to get involved with, including face painting, colouring in and making masks….

happy readers mcdonalds

As parents, we know how important it is to instill a love of reading into our children. I know how difficult this can be, especially with all day kids TV channels, tablets and games consoles. I sometimes have to force my children to pick up a book themselves, although they do absolutely love being read to. Any form of encouragement kids can get to read more these days, is an absolute godsend!

That’s why I’m super happy that McDonalds are adding these books to their childrens’ meals.

This isn’t he first time though. Since 2013 McDonald’s has distributed more than 22.8m books through its Happy Meals and Happy Readers programme.  McDonald’s Happy Readers campaign was created to put more books into the hands of families, with recent research from the National Literacy Trust showing that only half of children enjoy reading and almost one in seven don’t have a book of their own. This is shocking to me.

But even if your children ARE addicted to their tablets (as mine are), technology can help bring stories to life, through storytelling tools such as live sounds effects. So, in addition to the 14 million books, McDonald’s UK has developed a new, original companion app that will bring to life scenes straight from Roald Dahl’s imagination through sounds, colour and motion.

Available from Wednesday 23rd September, the Happy Readers Companion App immerses readers in the magical world of Roald Dahl with a selection of activities and voice activated sounds and animations! You can download the App for iOS and Android devices by searching Happy Studio!

We’ve already tried it and it’s lots of fun!

mcdonalds happy readers

The National Literacy Trust is a charity that transforms lives through literacy. They want to get more families reading because children who read in their own time do better at school and later in life.

Here are some of their top tips for reading with children:

  • Bring the story to life by using different voices for the characters. Try out a greedy, gravelly tone for the Enormous Crocodile or a wise and whispery voice for the grandmother.
  • Make your child the author! Stop at exciting moments in the story and ask your child to invent what happens next.
  • Make reading with your child a special time for you both every day.
  • Children of all ages love to hear stories read aloud. Don’t stop reading to your children just because they can read by themselves.
  • Let your child help choose the books that you’ll read together. If your child is excited by the subject, the story will hold their interest better.

Look out for the books the next time you order a Happy Meal and create your very own little #HappyReaders 🙂

Qixels – A Review

Now that Christmas is officially on it’s way (sorry!), the kids TV channels are packed with commercials advertising all kinds of new toys. One of which my children have noted has been the one for Qixels!


We’ve had one to review recently and the kids have really loved it!

When it comes to buying toys, I think all parents would prefer to buy something a bit educational or crafty, so Qixels seems to be a good choice. It can easily fit into the ‘crafty’ category.

I think the first and obvious thing that sprung to mind when I first saw the toy, was that it looks like the Hama/Aqua Beads toys, which are aimed at girls. Qixels is aimed at boys. There’s a nod towards the Minecraft game too I think, with the colour scheme and the the fact that the ‘beads’ are square. They look like computer pixels, hence the name and you can build your very own pixel world!

My daughter played happily with this game though, if not more than the boys, so I would say it’s definitely universal.

qixelsKids couldn’t wait to rip open the box

Qixels, by Character, are ‘the cubes that fuse with a blast of water. Add the tray and templates to your Turbo Dryer then add Qixles to build your design! Spray with water then press and spin to dry your designs super fast! Simply Make, spray, play – no heat, no glue’.


So what’s in the box?

This particular pack which is priced at around the £19.99 mark comes with the following…

  • Instruction Booklet
  • Storage Tray for the beads
  • 500 Qixels Cubes
  • 1 Bag Tag and Thread
  • 2 Stands & Display Bases
  • 2 Plug in Accessories
  • 4 Design Templates
  • 1 Water Sprayer Bottle
  • 1 Turbo Dryer

qixels toys

The templates are great, the designs are simple to follow and the fact that there aren’t too many colours means nothing is too complicated and young children can make a picture without any help!

qixels character toys boys

Once the design is complete, you add some water to the little bottle and spray the Qixels picture. This activates the special built in glue. Then, instead of having to wait for the glue to set (as you would with similar products), Qixels has a special spin dryer that dries the image in seconds!


 qixelsSome of the finished designs!

There are enough cubes to make all of the designs but I would’ve liked more in this set. They do seem to run out pretty fast. You can buy the cubes separately though, along with different design templates… so we have made a date to go and purchase some more very soon!

This is a really fun way to spend time for the kids. Both my twins and my daughter have gone back to it again and again to get creative. Even Teen couldn’t resist having a little go (he made the sword in the above photo!) 😉

qixels game character toys

Qixels was given a big thumbs up in our house… so if you’re considering buying it for a present, or your child puts it on their Christmas list, then I would fully recommend. It’s available to buy at all the usual toy outlets now.


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