Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Getting closer to nature with My Living World (review)


Last month, the Wildlife Trusts ran a 30 Days Wild campaign, challenging people to do something wild every day in June. They challenged everyone to go on nature walks, look for insects and wild flowers, feed wild birds and make insect hotels, amongst many other things. Vice President for the Wildlife Trusts, Nick Baker has worked closely with Interplay to create a range of My Living World sets and we've been putting some of them through their paces.


We started off with Ant World (RRP £14.99), which provides hours of fun as well as being educational. In fact, the Ant World kit supports National Curriculum KS1 and KS2. Pierre had absolutely no idea that he was learning though - if you'd asked him, he would have just said that he was having great fun !


The first thing to do was fill up the ant housing with the enclosed sand. I rolled a piece of paper into a cone shape to act as a make-shift funnel. The kit also includes scene stickers, but Pierre was in such a rush to get started that he totally bypassed them !


Each side of the ant house can be attached to a tube leading to a magnifier bowl. Once you disconnect it, don't forget to put the little cap back on though or you'll have ants all over your dining room table ! (I was worried about losing these, but should the worst happen, you can buy replacemants for 20p on the Interplay website.)


As well as being a great way of observing your ants feeding, the bowl can be used to prevent having rotting food in the ant housing. We put pieces of fruit in the bowl and the ants crawl down the tube then back up into the housing, much to Pierre's delight.


The kit doesn't include ants, so you have to go and catch your own. This was easier said than done, but it did keep Pierre busy all afternoon ! I helped him out by putting some small pieces of fruit and a chopped up sweets in a little dish and leaving it outside. Once the ants had found it and crawled on to it, this could be transferred to the bowl attached to the ant housing, then they were happy enough to crawl up the tubes to explore.


Pierre has been utterly fascinated watching them crawling around, interacting and, above all, creating tunnels. The enclosed 24-page activity guide, written by naturalist Nick Baker, gives you a fascinating insight into the world of ants, covering everything from how to look after your ants and the different species to chemo-communication and ant morse code. The best entertainment for a young naturalist!


Even as a grown up, I keep peering inside every time I walk past to see what's going on !


Ants aren't the only things to discover in the garden though, so Pierre was equally excited by the Pocket Microscope (RRP £12.99), which magnifies things to 30 times their actual size. It is really simple to use and, as the official blurb says, it is small enough to fit in your pocket, but powerful enough to make an ant look the size of an antelope!


It comes with sample slides and all you need to make your own slides, but specimens do not even need to be mounted onto slides so Pierre was off on a mission to see what he could find in the way of creepy-crawlies in the Madhouse grandparents' garden.


I don't think I've ever heard so many "Look Mums" in rapid succession ! He kept running back inside to show off his finds, and we were all impressed with the number and variety of different species that he managed to find in a short space of time.


After having a good look at them through the microscope, he carefully set them free back in the same spots that he had found them and went looking for more.


Even if you don't have much luck looking for insects, you can always have a closer look at simple things like blades of grass, leaves, petals and bark. The 16-page, colour illustrated instruction booklet, written by naturalist Nick Baker, gives helpful hints about how to get a close-up view of just about anything, and suggests some fascinating subject matter. Guaranteed to get your kids away from their screens and into the great outdoors !


Finally, we moved on to Triop World (RRP £12.99). Inside the box, you get everything that you need to (hopefully) hatch living creatures from the age of the dinosaurs and see how your Triops double in size each day.


If you're unfamiliar with Triops, they hatch in 24 hours, can grow up to 4cm long and have an incredible life cycle. (You may also end up hatching other creatures such as Clam Shrimp, Fairy Shrimp and Daphnia, if they're mixed in with the triops.)


The only thing you need to add to the kit is water - but it's easier said than done in the current climate. You can't use tap water, or bottled water that is purified or has chlorine added to it. The booklet explains that rain water is best and cheapest - but rainwater is a pretty rare commodity at the moment !


After filling up the tank, you need to sprinkle in half of the contents of the Triops Eggs packet and give it all a stir with the pipette. You can see how seriously Pierre was taking this responsibility !


The sachet contains Triop Eggs mixed in with detritus (they live in temporary pools that dry up - you can find out all about them in the instruction booklet, which can also be downloaded on the Interplay website). They are guaranteed to hatch and there is a troubleshooting section at the back of the book. We didn't have much success but I think I know why - our bottled water didn't have added chlorine but it did have natural chlorure way down on the list. We still have no access to rainwater but we're going to visit a friend later in the week who has a pond in her garden, so I'll bring back a bottle of pondwater and try again with the rest of the pack of eggs. Alternatively, they are there, but they were still too small to see them when we looked yesterday. Time will tell !

My Living World is a totally absorbing and enriching range and we'll definitely be exploring the rest of the products for future birthday and Christmas presents. You can also buy Worm World, Bug Safari, Bird Feeder, Spider World, Ladybird World and Snail World. I just know that Pierre would love every single one of them.




Disclosure : We received the products in order to write an honest review.

Monday, 30 July 2018

Giveaway #688 : Win a Virginia Hayward Cheese Box Hamper - closed - winner Beverley Derbyshire.


Last week, I told you all about the wide range of hampers available from Virginia Hayward, with everything from drinks and pamper hampers to gluten-free, vegan and diabetic options. I'm giving you the chance to win a Love Chocolate hamper worth £19.99, which contains a lovely selection of sweet treats, but if you're more tempted by savoury nibbles, you may be more interested in their cheese hampers.

The Cheese Box hamper (RRP £19.99) contains a wonderful array of tasty treats, nestled within a box with a stylish printed lid. This is a real celebration of all things cheese, with two waxed truckles and a wedge of creamy Long Clawson blue stilton. Both waxed truckles promise outstanding flavour. The Barbers traditional mature cheddar cheese is joined by Ford Farm double Gloucester with chives and spring onions. Of course, no cheese hamper would be complete without crackers and chutney, so you also get to sample tangy and delicious red onion chutney which complements all three cheeses, and Stag Bakery sesame seed water biscuits, which are the perfect platter for any cheese wedge.

Virginia Hayward have kindly offered to send a Cheese Box hamper to one lucky Madhouse Family Reviews reader. Fill in your entries via the Rafflecopter widget below.

UK only. Closing date : 28/8/18

T & C's : Entries close at midnight on the closing date. Winners will be selected with a random number generator and announced on facebook and in the giveaway post subject line. Please note, you will be contacted by email and/or twitter and if I haven't heard from you after 28 days, I'll have to pick another winner. Prizes will be sent out by the companies or their PR directly to winners. Madhouse Family Reviews cannot be held responsible for any prizes that go astray. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. The winners' personal contact information will be passed on to the PR / Brand responsible and used only for delivery of their prize. 

You may also like to enter my other giveaways :


Giveaway #686 : Win a bundle of Bunch o Balloons toys - closing date 25/8

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Giveaway #687 : Win a Virginia Hayward Love Chocolate Hamper - closed - winner Lindsey Stuart


As soon as I hear the word hamper, I always think of Christmas hampers, but hampers can come in all shapes and sizes and make great gifts all year round. Virginia Hayward have a fabulous selection on offer, including drinks hampers, pamper hampers, tea or coffee hampers, even hampers for diabetic, gluten-free or vegan recipients.

One of the products in their range of chocolate hampers is the Love Chocolate Hamper, which retails at £19.99. It contains a fabulously tempting collection of pure chocolate indulgence! The Love Chocolate wicker tray holds an imaginative array of chocolatey treats, specially chosen for their irresistible flavours and fine quality :
Atkins & Potts Milk Chocolate Dipper 100g
Radfords Handmade West Country Chocolate & Caramel Fudge 113g
Reids Chocolate Chunk Shortbread 150g
The Cocoa Bean Company Hot Chocolate Spoon with Mini Mallows 30g 
The Original Cake Company Mini Chocolate Log topped with Fudge Pieces 
Vital Chocolate Nougat Bar 100g
Willow Tray

The perfect choice for chocolate lovers, this delectable gift would appeal to anyone with a sweet tooth, whatever their age or sex.


Virginia Hayward have kindly offered to send a Love Chocolate hamper to one lucky Madhouse Family Reviews reader. Fill in your entries via the Rafflecopter widget below. (If cheese is more your thing, keep your eyes open for another giveaway coming up next week !)

UK only. Closing date : 28/8/18

T & C's : Entries close at midnight on the closing date. Winners will be selected with a random number generator and announced on facebook and in the giveaway post subject line. Please note, you will be contacted by email and/or twitter and if I haven't heard from you after 28 days, I'll have to pick another winner. Prizes will be sent out by the companies or their PR directly to winners. Madhouse Family Reviews cannot be held responsible for any prizes that go astray. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. The winners' personal contact information will be passed on to the PR / Brand responsible and used only for delivery of their prize. 

You may also like to enter my other giveaways :


Giveaway #686 : Win a bundle of Bunch o Balloons toys - closing date 25/8

Fab freebies of the week 28/7


Are you still baking in the heat? We finally got rain and storms last night, which was great as it cooled things down slightly, but the timing was a shame because it totally scuppered watching the eclipse - boo ! Have a lovely weekend, whatever the weather, and hope you find something to take your fancy in this week's freebie roundup :)

*******************************

I expect these will all be gone by the time the freebie roundup goes live, but Sports Direct are giving away free England shirts.

Have you voted for your favourite products of 2018 from the categories above? Don't worry you don't need to cast a vote for each category. Enter your details below to submit your votes and a chance to win 1 of 1,000 £50 Asda gift cards.


Sun protection campaign for outdoor workers : We're giving away hundreds of mini bottles of suncream - to request your FREE bottle, simply enter your details.

Redbull are giving away 5000 sample packs in their Keys To The City campaign

Welcome to this pioneering new Squad project with Pampers Pure. You and your little one could become the talk of the nappy changing room by being the first in the country to try and share about the much awaited Pampers Pure Collection.

You can help save the bees by planting ‘bee friendly’ wildflower seeds!
Just fill in this simple form and we’ll let you know how to claim your free seeds.

If you join up to any one of talkhealth's support programmes between now and the end of August, you will automatically be entered into our draw to receive one of 1000 free gifts.

Do you want a Scentsy catalogue and FREE samples? (UK only) comment below or PM me. #scentsyconsultant #scentsy #scent #scents #nocandles #homedecor #homefragrance

One for the cyclists : we have free samples on our http://CrotchGuard-uk.com website for everyone to try Crotch Guard to see if it's the right anti-chafing product for them.

At Smyths Toys : LEGO Friends Event Sat, 4 Aug, All UK & NI Stores 11am - 2pm
Make sure not to miss out on our LEGO Friends event. FREE giveaways available, while stock last. Unlock your creativity with builds in store on the day.

From Friday 27th July Debenhams beauty club holders can pick up a free 1.2g size Givenchy - Le Rouge Perfecto lip balm at the Givenchy counter in your nearest store

from Wafcol : Request a Free Sample
We’re one of the few dog food companies that still offer free samples, so get yours now! Samples are only available in the UK and may take 4-6 weeks to fulfill.

On Page 62 of the July/August 2018 FREE Tesco Magazine there is a voucher to cut out and present to cafe staff for a FREE iced or hot drink from the stated drinks on coupon.

You can see previous weeks' freebie roundups by clicking here but be warned, many of the offers are only valid for a short time. Let me know if any have expired and I'll remove them from the roundup.

You may also like to enter my current giveaways :

Giveaway #686 : Win a bundle of Bunch o Balloons toys - closing date 25/8

Friday, 27 July 2018

Bijou "Swap & Style" Bracelets review


There's a new pocket-sized collectible in town, which could be handy for keeping in handbags to whip out when the kids start getting tetchy in the car or plane on long journeys.


Bijou Bracelets are a range of colourful, interchangeable, beaded bracelets that come in blind bags, designed to get kids swapping to create their own perfect wrist-wear.


Inside each bag, you get one bracelet and an instruction sheet.


There are twelve colours to collect, including a limited edition glow-in-the-dark one.


The clasp on the silver bead can be pressed and opened.


This then allows you to slide all of the beads off the strings.


Mix them up, swap them with your friends or siblings and create the colour combinations of your choice, before reclosing the clasp.


It's a nice idea and the bracelets fit all sizes (Pierre was giving them out to the grown-ups when he'd finished them). I do think they're a bit pricey though, especially as you'll have to buy several packs in order to be able to swap the colours around.

RRP : £2.99

Available in Sainsbury's, One Stop and James Retail.

Disclosure : We received the product in order to write an honest review.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Giveaway #686 : Win a bundle of Bunch o Balloons toys - closed - winner Tracy K Nixon


*** Click through for our review : Beating the heat with Bunch o Balloons ***

Unleash Summer with Zuru Bunch O Balloons, an ingenious way to take all the hassle out of water bomb fights ! 



Just screw on to a tap or hosepipe and you can fill 100 water balloons in 60 seconds. Even better news : they self seal once they've reached their optimum size.


Water fights are always great fun and the perfect way for getting kids of all ages away from their screens during the summer holidays. I have a fabulous prize package worth £41 to give away to one lucky Madhouse Family Reviews reader, which includes a launcher and 3 bunches of balloons, plus a Minions 3 pack of balloons. Fill in your entries in the Rafflecopter widget below.


UK only. Closing date : 25/8/18

T & C's : Entries close at midnight on the closing date. Winners will be selected with a random number generator and announced on facebook and in the giveaway post subject line. Please note, you will be contacted by email and/or twitter and if I haven't heard from you after 28 days, I'll have to pick another winner. Prizes will be sent out by the companies or their PR directly to winners. Madhouse Family Reviews cannot be held responsible for any prizes that go astray. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. The winners' personal contact information will be passed on to the PR / Brand responsible and used only for delivery of their prize. 

You may also like to enter my other giveaways :

coming soon !

Beating the heat with Bunch o Balloons (review)


*** Don't miss my giveaway where you can win a fab bundle of Zuru Bunch o Balloons toys worth £41 ! ***

This summer, we'll be flying off to Bulgaria for a fortnight by the pool. I had a giggle yesterday when I checked the weather and discovered that it will quite probably be ten degrees cooler than it is at home - and the funniest part is, that sounds like bliss ! It's been seriously hot so the kids were very excited to try out Zuru Bunch o Balloons, an ingenious device that takes all the hard work out of a water bomb fight.


Inside the box, you get two slingers, two bags (for carrying the filled water bombs) and four bunches of balloons.


This is the ingenious part - just use the attachment (or one of the extra adaptors) to screw the bunch of balloons on to a tap or hosepipe. We have a mixer tap in the kitchen sink which isn't compatible but it works perfectly on our outdoor tap. Turn on the tap, the balloons will fill up and magically drop off and self-seal when they're reached the optimum size.


You can fill 100 water bombs in 60 seconds, which is great news for parents, who invariably end up having to fill and tie regular water bombs.


Just one thing to be aware of - we had a couple of Bunch a Balloons left over from last summer that we had put aside in the garage so we decided to bring them out as extra ammo. Unfortunately they had completely corroded and gone brittle and, as I turned the water on, they sprung a million leaks, so they went straight in the bin. The moral of the story is, use them up this summer and get new ones for next year !


Whether using the slingers or just their hands, the kids had great fun throwing the water bombs at each other. They're actually quite resistant and would often bounce off bodies, so the best way of splashing your opponent is by aiming at the floor or a wall and targetting them with the splash rather than a direct hit.


Within minutes, there were squeals of delight and giggles from those taking part or just watching from the sidelines !


They ended up getting totally soaked which, of course, was the whole point and it was a great way of cooling down.



Water balloon fights are guaranteed to get kids of all ages (and even big kids !) away from their screens and outside in the fresh air. If this is your idea of fun, don't miss my next post where you can win a fabulous Bunch o Balloons bundle to help get the holidays off to a great start and unleash summer !

for more information : https://www.bunchoballoons.com/



Disclosure : We received the product in order to write an honest review.
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