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.


#LondonGetsKinky with Kinky Boots

kinky boots london uk

Having attended stage school for years when I was younger, I practically lived and breathed musical theatre.

I could probably recite many a score from all the old musicals we did them so many times. Even now, being a busy Mum of 4 and after leaving that life behind me many years ago, I still get a huge buzz from being inside a theatre. There aren’t many shows that I see today that make me wish I was still performing though, but this new offering to hit London’s West End I really do wish I was in! Please someone offer me a part!

I feel very honoured to have been one of the first people to preview the brilliant Kinky Boots, which has it’s official premiere here in the UK at the Adelphi Theatre on September 15th!

I went with a friend and we were absolutely blown away! As were the rest of the audience. During the interval, every single person seemed to be on a high. And that’s exactly how this show makes you feel.

kinky boots london uk

So what’s it all about?

Well, Kinky Boots is brought to you by iconic Grammy and Tony Award winning Cyndi Lauper, who has written all the music and songs. The story is taken from a book written by Broadway legend and four time Tony Award winner Harvey Fierstein.

‘Inspired by true events, Kinky Boots takes you from a gentlemen’s shoe factory in Northampton to the glamorous catwalks of Milan. Charlie Price (Killian Donnelly) is struggling to live up to his father’s expectations and continue the family business of Price & Son. With the factory’s future hanging in the balance, help arrives in the unlikely but spectacular form of Lola (Matt Henry), a fabulous performer in need of some sturdy new stilettos’

This is a fast paced, funny, all singing, all dancing full on glamour fest! Big characters and big voices…. oh the voices – the singing is amazing! The contrast between the two main characters is key and very clever. Charlie comes across initially as very bland and it’s great getting to know him and follow him on his journey, (the solo he performs towards the end is incredible by the way), but this is what makes his unlikely friendship with drag Queen, Lola utterly fascinating.

Matt Henry who plays Lola, was so charismatic…. seriously…. both my friend and I agreed that we literally couldn’t take our eyes off him. He was mesmerising. He owned that stage and he was truly fabulous. Such a star!

I didn’t recognise any names on the cast list when I read it briefly before the show, but there was one face I spotted on the stage that I couldn’t mistake. It was the very gorgeous Marcus Collins who appeared on the X-Factor a couple of years ago! I was a huge fan of him on that, he was runner up to Little Mix, remember? He was brilliant back then and he was absolutely brilliant in this too! I was so excited to see him!

Directed and choreographed by two time Tony Award winner Jerry Mitchell (Legally Blonde, Hairspray), Kinky Boots is the winner of six Broadway Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Score and Best Choreography.

kinky boots london

The show has everything you’d want from a musical. It’s laugh out loud funny, it’s moving, it’s glamourous, it has a great cast but above all, the music and choreography were out of this world incredible. It was right up my street.

I’m not sure there are any adjectives worthy of describing how amazing it was!

On the night we watched, there was a much deserved standing ovation at the end. I think this is happening every night too from what I hear. I really didn’t want it to end, I could’ve watched it over and over!

My friend and I were absolutely buzzing on the way home! I can’t wait to see it again!

It’s the best thing I’ve seen in a long time and I just know it’s going to be a massive hit – I’m so glad I had the opportunity of seeing it before everyone else…. it’s like I’ve witnessed something very special!

I was offered two complimentary tickets to see Kinky Boots, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions my own.

Some Modelling and some Digging at Willows Farm

willows farm

First of all, if you’ve read my blog before, you’d know that we frequent Willows Farm in Hertfordshire on a regular basis. It’s a great family day out, so much to see and do. They always have seasonal events running throughout year too which are lots of fun.

Coming up this month they are holding their annual Potato Shindig. We went last year and it’s brilliant! They have a great big field that they cultivate, which visitors can then dig up to reveal thousands of gorgeous fresh spuds. Each person is given a spade and bucket and is welcome to fill them up and take them home… for free!

willows farm

This year, Willows Activity Farm is marking 70 years since the end of World War II with its biggest ever Potato Shindig event, encouraging families to learn about the Dig For Victory campaign.

During wartime, a shortage of food led the government to promote the use of land such as gardens for growing vegetables under the famous ‘Dig For Victory’ slogan. To commemorate this campaign, Willows is giving children the chance learn about where their food comes from whilst enjoying getting their hands dirty digging for their dinner :)

I love this! I love the fact that Willows is marking this very special anniversary and encouraging people, children, to think about and remember those that lived through the war and of course those that fought for our freedom.

As you can see from the above photo, the publicity shots for this years event starred none other than yours truly…. that’s me and my beautiful kids right there! Dressed up as little World War 2 kids with their World War 2 hardworking Mum, digging to eat!

When I was asked if I’d like to take part in this, my first reaction was to consider if my shy boys would be up for it, when there were costumes to change into… hmm, this could be tricky! But I knew my daughter would love it and it meant getting to spend a day at Willows so of course I accepted!

On the day of the photo shoot, which took place last week….. it poured with rain! Typical, but it didn’t matter, the kids seemed excited so I had high hopes that the twins would participate.

And participate they did!

They put on their costumes without a single complaint and posed for many, many pictures. We managed to get a moment of dry weather but even when it started to rain again, they didn’t flinch! So proud…. and they looked absolutely adorable too. All of them! I even quite liked my own outfit :)

Here are some more of the photo’s that were taken that day…..

potatos at willows farm

We had a lovely time, it was a great experience so thank you to Willows and the PR team! The kids were such naturals I think I may need to find them an agent now ;)

After this, our 4 big bags of potatoes were put in reception ready for us to take home (they are delicious by the way, I’ve already cooked most of them!), while we spent the rest of the day having fun. The weather was awful so we spent the majority of the day in the indoor play area and had a yummy lunch. And of course, we couldn’t leave without seeing the animals and holding some guinea pigs!

willows farm

If you get the chance, make sure you head down to Willows for this special event, there are thousands of Picasso potatoes waiting to be harvested in the Potato Patch for those who want to dig for their own victory.

Open daily from 5 – 27 September, children can even try Willows’ new ‘Potato Fingers’ recipe – specially adapted from a dish served during the war. There’s also the new Big Dig sand & splash play area, potato arts and crafts or you can find Spuddy, the Potato Shindig mascot, performing in his own show at weekends.

For more information visit the Willows Farm website or follow @Willows_Farm on Twitter for all the latest news and updates.

Steffi Love Magical Dreams with Pixie Lott

steffi loveLast Friday we were invited to a very exciting launch at Hamley’s toy shop in Central London.

Pixie Lott has put her name behind the new collection of Steffi Love Dolls by toy makers, Simba. She has worked closely with the iconic Steffi Love fashion doll brand and created a gorgeously girlie assortment of dolls called ‘Magical Dreams’. They have been inspired by her own magical moments that she dreamt of throughout her own childhood!

steffi love dolls

I’d been staying at my Dad’s with the kids for some of the school holidays but made sure I was back home in time to attend this particular event, as my daughter was keen to meet the super lovely Pixie Lott again. We met her last Christmas at a Netflix event, where she very kindly posed for a photo with my girl, even though she was out with her family!

pixie lott

When we arrived at Hamleys, before the store officially opened so we could meet Pixie and enjoy time in the store before the public came in, the place was awash with pink and buzzing with excitement.

steffi love dolls

steffi love hamleys

Once the handful of bloggers and press were inside, it wasn’t long before Pixie Lott made her appearance, much to the applaud of all the young fans, including my girl!

pixie lott hamleys

Pixie told us all about her collaboration with Steffi Love and how excited she was to be a part of it. She looked absolutely beautiful, much like a doll herself… and her enthusiasm really shone as she chatted to the kids and answered all their questions!

We were then taken to a private room where we could meet Pixie one to one, have a photo with her and get our very own Steffi Love doll (which we were very kindly gifted) signed! She was absolutely lovely and we chatted for a while… she even remembered meeting us last time!

pixe lott at steffi love launch

We had a great time and my daughter couldn’t wait to open her new Steffi Love doll! Here it is…. with a fabulous signature from Pixie Lott included on the left hand side here on the box!

steffi love

steffi love doll

My girl likes the doll very much and can’t wait to add some more from the collection… she’s got her eye on the mermaid! She loves this doll’s hair and huge wings…. the button in the middle of her tummy opens up the magical wings to show their true glory! She also loves the colours and shoes!

The Steffi Love by Pixie Lott: Magical Dreams range is now available at toy stores nationwide and costs from £3.99-£14.99.  Each doll comes complete with a VIP invite code from Steffi and Pixie Lott, for children to unlock secret videos and fun games online steffilove.co.uk.

Silent Sunday – 16/08/15

pixe lott at steffi love launch


Summer Holidays 2015, Half way Through

So it’s nearly mid August and we have done three weeks of the summer holidays. How’s it going for everyone else?

We’re having a lovely time, but we haven’t done THAT much really, to be fair.

We were supposed to go on holiday as soon as the kids broke up but for some unforeseen personal circumstances on the OH’s side of the family, we had to cancel. We were going to re-schedule something later on but realistically we have too much going on at the end of August so its not that practical.

I was initially so very envious of everyone that went on holiday. It seemed as though the whole world and his wife had jetted off somewhere hot, sunny or exotic. My FB and Instagram feeds were filled up of pics by the sea or of a beautiful pool. Urgh. Enough already!

But I’m over it now.

We’ve managed to get to the halfway point of the summer holidays and we’re having a blast right here at home so it’s ok. Really.

We’ve just gone with the flow this year and actually, even though up until the last few days it seemed like we hadn’t done much at all, the kids have been content.

Teen has been hanging out with friends, which is his favourite thing to do so I don’t need to worry about entertaining him any more. He’s more than absorbed in his own life and partying hard to be telling me he’s bored!

My younger kids are all very homely. The three of them get along brilliantly (most of the time) so they all play together and love nothing more than being in the garden, where they will spend hours playing on a warm day. I play with them too sometimes. I try to make an effort to ensure I’m giving them some quality time, even if I don’t feel like it. When we’re at home it’s so easy to become bogged down with chores or get on with other things, but I know my babies are growing up so fast and I want to make sure I’m part of it…… I want to get into their games, even if it’s just sitting with them on the sidelines to observe. It’s incredibly fascinating…. Gives me such an insight into their little world and imaginations.

The children also love chilling, playing with toys they haven’t played with for ages, or they will play with their tech. They all have a tablet each and would happily sit watching You Tube or play  games (usually Minecraft) from dusk till dawn. Of course I limit this. I even don’t allow tablets for long periods, days on end,  which is good for them.

But you get the picture.

My children don’t NEED to go out.

Yes I do take them out and it’s important to visit places of interest or have fun days out, but what I mean is, sometimes I have felt I SHOULD be taking them out because that’s what I think I’m supposed to do!

In the past I’ve taken them out for the sake of it. They haven’t necessarily wanted to go. They’ve been more than happy playing at home but I’ve dragged them out nonetheless. I’ve spent money when I haven’t needed to, on doing things they’re not that bothered about doing!

So this summer I’ve decided to do more of the ordinary.

The first week was spent at home mainly.  I was working two of the days and the others were spent either at the park or in the garden.

We dip-dyed my daughters hair, something we’ve done before at the start of the summer holidays because the dye washes out in about 10 washes, so it’s gone by the time school starts again! Realistically though it fades to nearly gone in about four washes! Her best friend has done it too and they love it, it’s a bit of fun!

dip dye kids

The second week I had some of the kids friends over. We’ve met up with friends from school at various places and my daughter had a sleepover…. One day her friend was here, then she went over to her house. We also had a day out at a local attraction.

summer 2015

In the third week we packed the car up to come and visit my Dad. He lives in Lancashire (not the part where the water was contaminated, luckily!), it’s lovely and it always feels like a holiday whenever we’re here. The kids love it. I love it. My Dad loves it. It’s just a nice place to be and I get a warm, fuzzy, homely feeling whenever I’m here. My Mum sadly passed away seven years ago now, but the house is everything about her, I feel close to her here.

I also feel like a little girl again when I’m around my Dad. Even though he’s getting on a bit (a lot), he likes to look after me while I’m here and ensures I have a ‘rest’ bless him!

We always have a great time here and plan a few days out during our stay to different places.

This time, we had a trip to the beach at Southport. The beach (Ainsdale) was absolutely gorgeous, so much better than I was expecting. The weather was good, slightly breezy but still warm enough for all the kids to have a dip in the sea! This is the stuff that memories are made of… a day out at the good old British seaside!

southport beach

We also visited Heaton Park in Manchester. I liken this place to Hyde Park but on a much smaller scale… it seems to have similar areas! Although Heaton Park has the added fun of donkey rides and a fair ground!

heaton park

We had a trip to Blackpool where we visited the Sandcastle Water Park, our favourite place to go in Blackpool, it’s ace! Full report coming on that soon!

sandcastle water park

We’ve been seeing friends and family and we’re having a great time!

Don’t want to go home…. but we’ve got another few days left here to make the most of, or just chill.

Whatever we do, we’ll be happy :)

The Dad Network
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Silent Sunday – 09/08/15

southport beach

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