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Member since: 15.05.2010

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      16.02.2011 11:00
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      A great read with laughs and tears

      I used to read loads....but then I had kids and somehow I seem to have stopped. Partly due to lack of time, partly due to my brain cells having got up and left during pregnancy and never returned but mainly because I'm now out the habit. Now and again however I do remember to pick up a book and once in a while I even manage to finish it. And so having done this with Michael McIntyre Life & Laughing I thought I would share my thoughts.

      I was bought this book for my Christmas by my husband. I am a bit of a Michael McIntyre fan (although he is everywhere now and it is a bit of overkill) and he thought I might find it interesting (and it was half price when he was in a shop buying his Xbox magazine bless him!). The RRP on the cover of the book is £20 but it is easy to pick it up half price.

      So the info bit - Michael McIntyre is a comedian who does stories about everyday life - hoovering, the spice cupboard, the man drawer - things we all do, have or know about. He is a young family man and has 2 kids who are roughly the same age as mine so many of his children based stories really strike a chord with me. He is frequently on tv including his Comedy Roadshow and Live at the Apollo. This book basically is him telling us the story of his family, his life and his path to becoming famous. It is 295 pages long and contains the usual sections of photographs to add to the story.

      I had heard that Michael had a link with Kenny Everett and being of a certain age, Kenny was huge when I was a kid so I was intrigued to see what this link was about. That give me the spure to actually start reading the book and I am glad I did.

      The book is written in a nice, relaxed, flowing style. It was always interesting enough to make me want to read a little more but not so involved that I had forgotten what had just happened when there was a few days gap between picking the book up. Michaels life has certainly has its ups and downs and he takes you through these in a style which does resemble his stand up style - quite sharp and witty without being offensive or too taxing.

      Michael has also avoided doing a few things which have annoyed me when reading other comedians books. This book doesn't contain big chunks of stand up material (Frankie Boyle was dreadful for doing this). I love watching comedians and regularly go to live shows but reading someones routines written in a book bores me to tears - thankfully I did not have to endure much more than the odd line or small paragraph with this book, and when they were used they added to the particular story being so Ill let him off. He also only takes the reader up to when he becomes famous, admitting that the famous bit would be like a CV and too boring for the reader. I agree and felt he stopped at exactly the right point.

      I did find myself giggling now and again whilst reading the book. I did not find it belly laugh funny but then it is about his life and so you would not necessarily expect that. It was certainly amusing in parts but also very heartfelt in others. I'll admit I did get very emotion at one bit about his dad and shed a fair few tears. And, I did find out the link with Kenny Everett!!

      Overall, I enjoyed this book. I probably would not have bought it myself (certainly not at full price) but being a Michael McIntyre fan I was more than happy to receive it as a gift and enjoyed reading it. I do think you would need to be a fan to enjoy it and I know not everyone is a fan! I have given the book 4 stars - it did what I thought it should do and entertained me from beginning to end but it was just missed something which I can't quite put my finger on which would have made it an excellent book.

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        15.02.2011 13:24
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        A great family friendly restaurant at a reasonable price

        Having visited most of the restaurants on offer at our local out of town retail area (Fife for anyone who wants to know locality) we decided we fancied trying Bella Italia for a change. Before deciding to go ahead I went online and checked out their menu. Having 2 kids who like completely different types of food means that we need there to be a fairly decent kids menu but I don't really want to compromise on the adults' food to achieve this. The menu looked fine for all involved. I noticed you could book a table on line so gave this a go and found it really easy and liked the text message confirmation. On more than one occasion we have booked a table at various restaurants over the phone and then turned up and have been told there is no booking - this seemed like a good way of avoiding this! Finally I requested one of the online vouchers they were advertising. We were all set.

        ~~The restaurant~~
        Our group was made up of 3 adults and 2 children. We arrived at our set time and were seated quickly. It became immediately obvious that this is a kiddie orientated place which is great when you have a five and two year old. The staff seemed to be trying to sit the families together and put couples at another area (which I bet they appreciated especially given it was Valentines weekend!!!!). The interior of the restaurant was nice - bright and airy with loads of stuff for the kids to ask about etc. Your usual range of 'lets make this place look like an authentic Italian restaurant'. I like booths when I'm out with the kids - you can pin them in more easily but there weren't any at our restaurant and we were at a table with normal seats. The kids were given great wee activity packs which kept them amused for a good amount of time. You got playing cards you could colour in, stickers and a wee board game and a pack of crayons. Both kids were happy with their packs. The table was also a good size which is really important with kids, crayons, drinks and hot dishes!

        ~~Food and drink~~
        So firstly we ordered drinks. There was the usual selection and everyone was quite happy when their choice arrived. I won't bore you with going through exactly what food everyone ordered but just give you an overview. There was an excellent selection and in the main everyone was more than happy with what they had. The portion sizes were great. The starters disappeared quickly and my five year old in particular was very impressed with his garlic dough stick.

        For our main course we ordered a big bowl of pasta (listed as a dish for 2 to share) plus a pizza to share between the adults and this went down a treat with everyone and was a great option. I always want what someone else has ordered so eating this way lets me try more than one thing. My one gripe with the food was the kids food. My oldest decided on fish fingers and chips (very Italian!) and they were great, coming with loads of peas and sweetcorn. However my two year old loves pasta and so we got him a cheesy tomato and chicken dish and it was just odd. It was spaghetti which was coated with a sort of cheesy sauce and then had breaded chicken shredded on top but it was very dry and not at all what I expected. He wouldn't eat it and to be honest I don't blame him - I tried it and it was seriously dry and bland. He was more than happy with the adult pasta though. The adults skipped puddings but the kids both wanted some. The options were limited here with ice cream or jelly. Both went for ice cream and they got one very small scoop of ice cream each (which did not go down well as both wanted 2 different types). However the small amount of ice cream they got was very nice.

        ~~Cost~~
        Overall the cost was very reasonable. The kids meal was £5.25 for a drink, main course and pudding plus you could also get cucumber and carrot dips (which we didn't go for). A little more than you might pay elsewhere but still not bad value. The price of the adults food was what you would expect. At this point I should have used my voucher to get the kids food free and therefore be very impressed but the thing never arrived. I checked my email a couple of times but it never turned up which is a bit frustrating. We had a voucher already so used this instead but I think I would have been a bit annoyed otherwise. Another option would be using your Tesco vouchers and we may well try this next time.

        ~~Overall~~
        I really enjoyed our meal. The whole experience took just over 2 hours and this was mainly due to the speed of service which was not quick. We weren't in a rush and our kids actually behaved but it could be a bit of an issue if your children were playing up or you were in a rush. The staff were helpful and friendly. The atmosphere was relaxed and laid back which is great in a place which is family friendly - it did not have that frenetic feel you get at some places where you always half expect a large bear to appear singing happy birthday. The food in general was lovely. I really liked booking online which I think is a nice touch. We will definitely be going back.

        Overall four stars - the lack of my email voucher and the kids food was enough of a negative for me to take away a star. Overall though a great place to take the kids if you fancy something a wee bit different to the other chain restaurants.

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          10.02.2011 12:19
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          Normal Frustration with Toy Story on the board.

          As part of the Christmas list for my 5 year old I wanted to add a few board games that we could all play...good old fashioned family fun (to balance out the Nintendo DS that Santa HAD to bring him!). I had a wee look round various toy shops and online and came up with a couple that looked good. These included Frustration. I loved Frustration as a kid and thought it would be great if he got one for Christmas. Just before Christmas store own Frustration was retailing for about £7 but you could get Toy Story 3 Frustration for £12. Quite a difference but Toy Story was quite a big thing in our house this Christmas as both my boys like it so I decided it was worth paying the difference.

          In case you have never played Frustration here is a brief summary. It is for 2 to 4 players and the suggested age is 4 plus. The box suggests that a game should last about 30 minutes. The basic idea of the game is that you have to move your four counters round the board and park them up in your finish area first. The dice is held in the popper bit in the centre of the board and this is probably the bit I remember the most from my childhood. Rules - there are official rules in the box and then our rules which are a little different.....I think they must have changed them over the years as both my husband and I immediately thought you played to certain rules but these were slightly different to those that came with the game. We stuck with our ones! The basic idea is that you can take your players pegs and make them go back to the beginning - hence the frustration bit!

          So the present was opened on Christmas morning and to be honest did not make a huge impression with our five year old - other things were more exciting. However, I was dying for a game so while the kids played me and my husband decided to have a glass of Bucks Fizz and a game of Frustration (no wonder I love Christmas so much) and it was brilliant. We were shouting and giggling and generally having a great old game - so much so that both kids put their new toys down to come and watch! We had a game every day over Christmas - it became a wee tradition for our holidays this year. We have taken it to a friends house to play on New Years Eve (they loved it) and we have even let the kids play and they enjoy it too!! It even holds my two year olds attention (he loves the dice popper) which is great and he is already trying to count as he moves his counter.

          So basically if you do not own Frustration and you like board games buy one now!

          This review is for Toy Story 3 Frustration specifically so was it worth the extra fiver - basically it is exactly the same as normal Frustration but you have the characters on the box and on the actual board you have Mr Potato Head (red), Woody (yellow), Rex (green) and Buzz (blue)....and that is it! So you don't actually get anything extra for your money except a few images. However I am actually glad we bought this one and not the store own. I do think the Toy Story link has helped the kids became more involved in the game and they argue over who goes Buzz or Rex and as it was a Christmas present I did not mind spending that little bit more.

          This was one of the highlights of our Christmas and still gets played every week at some point. Getting the Toy Story version was worth it for us as Toy Story is popular with my 2 at the moment. So overall an absolute bargain for us at £12 and something that will now always hold special memories of Christmas 2010 for me - and that is something pretty priceless!

          I have nothing negative to say about this so five stars!

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            27.01.2011 14:26
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            A good duvet set that has lasted well

            We have a Ben 10 daft five year old in our house and so last year bought him this duvet set. For those of you that don't know who Ben 10 is - Ben is an ordinary boy who finds an omnitrix (a special watch thing) that allows him to become all sorts of aliens. Most boys between 4 and 6 will love Ben 10 (and Ben 10 Alien Force and Ben 10 Ultimate Alien.....)

            The duvet set consists of a standard size single duvet cover and one pillow case. The duvet cover has 2 designs - one on each side. On one you have a big picture of Ben 10 running, about to 'go hero' with his omnitrix. At the bottom is a fairly large Ben 10 logo and Ben himself is surrounded by silhouettes of Four Arms, Ripjaws, Upgrade, XLR8, Ghostfreak, Greymatter, Stinkfly and Heatblast - this is old school Ben 10 and is the original aliens (not Alien Force or Ultimate Alien). On the reverse side is a computer chip sort of design (very hard to describe!!). The pillow case has a massive Ben 10 logo on one side and the torso and head of Ben to match the duvet cover on the other. Both duvet cover and pillow case are very green!!!!!!!

            My son loves them and despite falling in and out of love with Ben over the year or so since we bought them, he is still happy having them on his bed and loves the green colour (he is a boy and 5 - he would!). I'm more than happy with them too. After one or two washes the colour stopped running and so they can now go in with other items without fear of everything else coming out green - I wash it on 40 degrees which does make some other duvet covers dye run. They are really easy to iron and I can get them crease free really easily. Best of all they have lasted really well. Each week we alternate this duvet set with a Star wars one and so it gets washed fairly frequently and it is still in really good condition and won't need replaced anytime soon. I still hate the colour of it but have learned to ignore that.

            My one negative point and why I have only given 4 stars and not 5 is that it is perhaps dated now - so many new Ben 10 series and aliens have come along since we bought this that it might not be up to date enough for some kids. My son still likes the old aliens and so is still happy with the set but some might want a newer version.

            Overall a great duvet set for all Ben 10 fans out there. Just wear your shades the first few times you iron it!

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            11.01.2011 22:01
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            A great wee set for the price.

            My two year old loves play-doh. If you ask him what he wants to do, 90% of the time he asks for his play-doh. He has loads of different cutting implements and pots of play-doh in various colours but didn't have anything quite like this so when I was more than happy to buy this as a wee treat when we saw it. I paid around a pound for it (cant remember the exact amount but it was the same as a pot of regular play-doh which is usually 99p).

            So what did I get for my money? This wee set consists of two little pots (just under half the size of regular play-doh pots) which seem to come in a variety of colours - ours was purple and blue but there was also orange and green available. There is also a little tool that you can squeeze the play-doh through to make 'strings' of play-doh......perfect for making play-doh hair, spaghetti, wiggly worms......

            The play-doh is what you would expect. Fabulous moulding clay for small children (and grown ups too!) which looks great and smells even better. But like all other play-doh it dries out if you leave it out the pots too long and also blends very easily with other colours if you put them together so you no longer have blue and purple but some colour in between.

            However the main point of buying this set was the little tool - and this is where I got a bit disappointed. Basically the tool has a little chamber bit with holes where you squeeze the play-doh through and then a flat handle type thing that you push down to squeeze the play-doh through (like a garlic press). The two click together with wee nodges on the handle fitting into wee holes on the chamber bit. It's quite small and so if you try to put even a decent amount of play-doh in to be squeezed through the two bits come apart. It simply isn't strong or robust enough to take the pressure. The handle you push down comes out of the little holes and this has happened so often with us the plastic nodges have worn away and the thing is now useless. The amount you could put in at one time was tiny and frustrating to my wee boy who wanted to make loads come out at once.

            But it was only a pound. We had fun while it lasted and I made a brilliant set of purple hair with it but I do wish it could have been a bit stronger and lasted longer. Overall though it was a great buy and my wee one got a good few hours of fun out of it and we still have our blue/purple play-doh - you can't really ask much more for your money these days.

            So overall, well worth a purchase but I wouldn't expect it to last long.

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              09.01.2011 22:32
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              A great bar for a reasonable price

              I'm constantly on the look out for food which is low fat, low calorie and tasty. Finding all three in one product isn't the easiest. I first picked up these cereal bars when I was following Weight Watchers (old style!) and as all Tesco own products had weight watcher points listed on, I thought Id give them a bash.

              These cereal bars come on boxes of 6. I'm reviewing Tesco Forest Fruit and Raisin Fruit Bars, there are also Apple ones I believe but have never tried them as a friend told me they weren't so good. Each bar comes individually wrapped and usual a box sells for about £1.20 although at the moment they are on a 3 for 2 offer.

              They are basically a soft biscuit type bar with a forest fruit and raisin jam like filling. They are quite light and soft yet are very filling. They are quite similar to Multi-grain bars (but a bit less grainy). I have tried a lot of cereal bars in my time basically because I'm bad at getting organised in the morning and end up using these as a substitute for breakfast. Of all the brands and flavours I have tried these are one of my favourites. They are sweet without being sickly and don't taste of artificial sweeteners which some of the low fat ones do. Most importantly, they taste lovely and considering the calories (95 calories per bar) they fill you up which is pretty good.

              They are a real staple food in my house and we always have some in the cupboard. My husband and kids all like them and so you can generally find a few in my handbag in case the kids start moaning about being hungry in the car. (A small point for mums who do the same thing - these bars generally stay in one piece in your bag. I tried others which broke up easily and when you fished one out of your bag after a couple of days in there and opened in you could have substituted it for breakfast cereal it was in so many bits!).

              Overall I think these bars are really great. They are tasty, fill you up and don't cost as much as some of the brand ones which aren't nearly so nice. Well worth picking up.

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              08.01.2011 21:36
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              A good game for all ages

              We picked this game up as a wee add on present for our five year olds birthday as I like the idea of shaving the sheep and it seemed a bit different. Also at £7.99 it didn't break the bank.

              Before playing this game you have to construct the sheep, wolf and dice following the usual Lego type instructions. My son was quite happy helping out with this and in a way probably had as much fun doing that as any other Lego kit we have bought. You are then ready to start playing.

              Basically the aim of the game is to get the most wool you can for your sheep. You do this by rolling the dice and then depending on which coloured sides you get you can either have one or two pieces of wool, you can pinch wool from someone else or you get attacked by the wolf who nicks all your wool. When there is no wool left in the middle the person with the most pieces of wool wins. It's very basic and easy to play but really is quite good fun as at some points you can either take pieces of wool from the centre (being nice) or pinch it from other players (playing bad!) which drives my five year old mad! It can swing from one player to another being in the lead quite quickly which keeps it interesting. It's good for all ages (probably 4 plus) and a game lasts long enough its worth getting out the cupboard but not so long that you are all bored playing it. You get four sheep so up to four people can play at a time.

              We have picked up a few of the Lego games but this one is the favourite in my house. We have played this quite a few times and all ages enjoy it. It's probably not up there with the really good traditional board games but as something a bit different it's well worth the £8 I paid.

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              06.01.2011 21:19
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              Dont buy it!

              We asked a relative to buy this toy for my two year old on his birthday. He likes his older brothers Hot Wheels set and so we thought this might be ideal as a more appropriate version for his age.

              The set consisted of a track which did a loop the loop, Scobby and Shaggy in a minecart on wheels and some barrels to knock over. Opening it, everything looked great - until we tried to use it. This toy is advertised for 36 months plus so you could maybe excuse my two year old not being able to use it. However, my five year old couldn't, my husband couldn't and I couldn't!

              Basically, the main problem is you have to put a piece of plastic through the kart and then pull it out quickly to rev the cart up. If you manage this (and we only did this three times before the whole thing jammed) you then have to have it pointing in the right direction to go into the loop track which in my mind is practical impossible (as you are trying to hold it with one hand and pull the plastic out with the other whilst keeping it steady and pointing in exactly the right direction). We never managed to get the kart to go anywhere near going round the loop. After a few attempts we couldn't get the plastic thing to pull out the kart and the whole thing jammed. It was then unusable except as a very basic toy that you can push around on the ground (after 2 of us pulled most of the plastic thing out but that involved two grown adults and left a fair amount of plastic behind).

              I was hugely disappointed as Id had quite high hopes for this toy. My two year old couldn't understand why it wouldn't work and we never told the auntie that her £15 had been wasted and just said it was great and never mentioned it again.

              I think this is a case of churning out any old rubbish and associating it with a popular TV character. I would urge anyone reading this not to waste your money. A piece of paper of a comb would be a better toy! This is one of the worst toys we have had.

              We bought him Hot Wheels for Christmas (he is now two and a half) and he loves it - just wish we had done that in the first place.

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              06.01.2011 11:42
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              Loads of figures to collect

              A friend of my sons had chicken pox and I wanted to buy a wee gift to put in his get well card and saw these so picked one up. Unfortunately my son noticed and wanted one too!

              Basically these are the little Lego mini figures which come in packs (unbuilt). The cost just under £2 each which is absolutely shocking for what you get (considering you can buy the wee Lego sets of a car or digger and a little person for not much more than this). There are 16 in a set and each one comes with a wee poster that has building instructions and also a picture of each one in the set. Now, I'm maybe being stupid but my biggest gripe about these is that they come in sealed packs and so you have absolutely no idea which one you are getting (I have spent quite a while feeling up all the packs trying to work out which figure is in it). You could therefore be spending £2 buying the one you already have. I do understand the idea as you are trying to collect the set and can trade them etc but it's quite an expensive item to do this with, especially for younger kids.

              Having said all that there is something brilliant about these little figures and I find myself trying to encourage my son to buy one with his pocket money because I think they are pretty cool! I have seen other kids who have built them and then keep them set up on a board together and they really are quite cool. Unfortunately my son does what I reckon a lot of kids must do - he builds them then chucks it in with all the other little bits of figures and we lose the legs or the head etc.

              I missed Series One of the figures which had some nifty characters in it and I believe there is now a Series 3 on sale so loads out there to collect if you want to. I can see the attraction and would probably buy more if my son was the type of kid to keep them 'safe' but as we just keep losing bits £2 is too much to pay.

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            • ELC Washing Machine / Electronic Toy / 17 Readings / 16 Ratings
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              05.01.2011 16:58
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              Not a bad idea but ours drives us mad!

              I had seen this washing machine when my kids were round at their friends houses and always thought it looked really cute and fun. It is basically a tiny wee washing machine that is about 10 inches high and about 7 inches wide. It comes in pink (for girls I presume) and blue and has a few buttons on the front and a little drawer that pulls out (like the one you put your powder in). The door opens to allow you to put things inside the washing machine and has water in the glass (although its really plastic) of it so it looks like the machine is full of water which is particularly cool when you switch it on as the drum then goes round. I wished I had one of these when I was little!

              My 2 two year old got some gift vouchers for his birthday for Early Learning Centre so we went in for a look at what he could get. As soon as he saw the washing machine that was it - nothing else would do and as he had played with it at his friends houses and it was a reasonable £15 he got it.

              I still think it is very cute and clever and does quite a bit for your £15. The drum goes round when you hit the right button and it makes washing machine noises which is all great but our door keeps falling off, it doesn't shut properly when it is attached and even if that is all fixed you have to hit the right buttons in the right order to make it work! The on/off button is right next to the one which makes it go round and as there is no light to tell you if the thing is on or off you spend ages hitting that and the spin button to make it work. Add on to this that if the door isnt shur properly it just wont waork no matter what button you press. It is hugely frustrating and drives my wee one to distraction. You know that thing kids do - they love the idea of a toy but get so wound up by it tears happen after about 2 minutes! Well that's how it is with this toy in our house. Once he has managed to get the door attached and shut he can never get the drum to go round!

              So overall I think this is a great idea and not a bad toy if you are sitting playing too and watch what buttons get pressed but not so good to leave a 2 year old to play with themselves.

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                04.01.2011 17:08
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                A must have for Ben 10 fans

                Quite simply this is one of the best toys we have bought our kids (and we have bought a few!). If your child is a Ben 10 fan then this really is a must have. It is such a favourite in our house that my five year old bought his two year old brother one for Christmas so they would stop fighting over his.

                Although there are a number of Ben 10 Omnitrix on the market, this is the one that goes with the Ben 10 Alien Force series and is compatible with the little clear statues you get when you buy the 10cm figures from this series.

                Basically this omnitrix lights up and makes the omnitrix noise (don't know how else to describe it!) when you slam the dial down. If you put one of the statues in, it recognises which one you have put in and then makes appropriate noises - using the names and noises of the character. It's really very clever and great fun for the kids. It can be used with or without the statues which is great if you haven't bought the figures or the statues have get lost. The omnitrix is a good size and really robust (we own other varieties and they have broken quite easily). Our original one is getting old now and still works fine.

                I only really have a couple of negative points and they are quite minor. It takes a bit of practice to get the statues to go in properly so that the figures are recognised and the omnitrix has a fairly hard plastic strap which can be difficult to do up but otherwise a great toy which you can pick up fairly cheaply as new omnitrix are now on the market.

                So if you have a Ben 10 fan and you haven't got one of these get shopping!

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                  04.01.2011 11:38
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                  A good toy for any Little Einsteins fans

                  My boys both enjoy watching Little Einsteins and have played with this rocket at a friends house so when looking for Christmas gift ideas this year for my two year old this seemed a good choice. That's before I saw how much it cost! I finally found at Argos for £35 which was the best price I could find at a store where it was actually in stock. I'm usually a bit dubious about buying Disney toys as I think you pay for more them than other toys and are basically paying for the name but I really thought he would like it so persuaded someone else to buy it!

                  The first thing I thought when I saw the rocket was how big it was. It is a good 12 inches long and 8 inches high and is really substantial. Although this is great it does mean that my wee boy struggles to lift it up for any length of time as it is quite heavy. The rocket comes with the 4 characters (Leo, June, Quincy and Annie) from the TV programme who all have their own places in the rocket and which can be removed from the rocket so you can play with them separately. It plays songs, has some of the character voices and saying, has wheels for rolling around on the ground and also does some quite cool whooshing sounds when you put the handle down and fly it through the air. I really like the variety of ways you can play with the rocket - a bit more to it than some other vehicle type toys you can buy. It also has an off button to shut the thing up!

                  There are a few negative points though. Being able to remove the characters is good on the one hand but does mean we will lose one - we always do and then I don't know how attractive the toy will be. So each night we have the hunt to find them so they don't go missing. Also as mentioned it is quite heavy so at the moment my wee one can't really fly it round the room using the handle as he isn't strong enough. Finally, one of things the Rocket/Leo says is 'I can't believe it' which means that me and my husband have spent the whole holidays doing very bad Victor Meldrew impressions - funny for the first few days but now really irritating! I have never heard him say it in the show.

                  Overall a good toy with a lot of variations of play. It's substantial and seems well built. But then for the price it should be so in the case of the Pat Pat Rocket I think you are getting what you paid for but no more than that. However if your little ones like Little Einsteins then I'm sure they would love this rocket.

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                • Lego 8409 Ben 10: Spidermonkey / Lego / 6 Readings / 4 Ratings
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                  03.01.2011 16:51
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                  A great wee toy.

                  My five year old is a huge Ben 10 fan and wanted all the Lego Ben 10 characters for Christmas. As we weren't sure what they would be like we decided it was best just to get him one. Given the price (roughly £12 each which seemed quite high to me) I didn't want to risk buying more than one and then discover they were no good or he got bored with them quickly. Spidermonkey is one of his very favourite characters so we went for him.

                  Opening Lego Spidermonkey on Christmas day we got the reaction we wanted - he was well chuffed with it! So that was good. It was one of the first things he asked to do when he had opened all his presents which is also good. If you have bought Lego Hero Factory toys - this is like a Ben 10 version of that. It isn't normal Lego and doesn't actually come in that many bits but there is still enough work (i.e. bits to join together) to entertain a five year old and there are instructions to follow. It probably took my son about 15 minutes to put together (with a bit of help from his dad). The finished product is about 9 inches tall and is actually quite impressive. It is also fairly substantial and holds up to a five year old playing with it (but not his two year old brother unfortunately!). It doesn't stand up that well which does cause a bit of frustration but that is a minor point.

                  Overall it is quite a good toy and I won't mind my son getting more although I don't think it is worth the £12 we paid for it (especially when the Hero Factory is similar but a good 4 or 5 pounds cheaper) so will probably try to pick them up on special. However it gets played with and is something a bit different so a good addition to the Christmas Day stack of toys!

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                • Nativity! (DVD) / DVD / 11 Readings / 10 Ratings
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                  03.01.2011 13:52
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                  An excellent film for Christmas

                  My oldest son has just appeared in his first nativity play at school - and I have never laughed so much at anything in ages. The kids were brilliant (even if they weren't doing what they were meant to)! So when my husband saw this DVD while out Christmas shopping he though it might be a good film to watch over Christmas - and he was right!

                  The film basically follows the exploits of 2 schools (one with good kids and loads of cash and one which doesn't and isn't!) each trying to outdo the other in their nativity play - with the teachers involved being old rivals from drama school days. Add in the inevitable broken heart/love story and you have a great set up for a lovely, warm hearted Christmas film. The cast is made up of a good few faces you recognise from British TV (and The Wire!) plus loads of fresh faced wee kids.

                  Nativity would never win an Oscar and probably isn't something Id watch at any time of year other than Christmas but I really enjoyed it. I laughed out load a fair few times and it kept me properly entertained for the whole length of the film (in spite of the obvious ending which you saw coming a mile off). My husband even enjoyed it and he hates films with singing in them. As a parent you can relate to whats going on and even recognise yourself or your kids at one of two points.

                  Overall, well worth a purchase if you are looking for a Christmas film that is more for the adults than the kids but is light hearted and suitable for family viewing all the same.

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                • More +
                  02.01.2011 20:52
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                  Good but you probably do need to be 7 plus

                  My five year old was desperate for a Nintendo DS for his Christmas this year and as most of his friends now have one, Santa gave in! He asked for this game to go with the DS as he is a big Scooby Doo fan and it has been advertised on some of the channels he watches and been displayed in the shops so we asked a relative to buy him it.

                  Now I know that the game has a great big 7 on the front of it but he is a bright 5 year old. He also plays loads of Wii games with no problem that are for 7 plus so we thought it would be OK. (And the other game he received for Christmas - Lego Batman- is 7 plus and he is having no problems with it).

                  The first few plays looked hopeful. The game seemed perfect for him to wander about and explore either as Shaggy or Scooby. However, as the game progressed more and more objectives popped up on screen - and this is where our problem lies. My wee boy can't read very well yet and is a long way from reading the objectives when they pop up. Not a problem if they come up once in a while as I don't mind helping out but at one stage it was literally every 2 minutes which was frustrating for both of us. He wants to do it by himself without his mum helping! I have played on and actually think the game looks pretty good. Loads of little challenges and different objectives for each of the characters (which you have to swap between) to complete but unfortunately pointless if you can't read very well or don't have an adult sitting doing the game with you at all times.

                  So while the game looks good and should be fine for any Scooby Doo fan that can read well it is not so great for any younger fans/kids that can't read so well yet! Perhaps though it may not appeal so much to 7 year olds and older who may like bigger boy games?

                  For us, I think this one will need to wait a while before we play it again - and we just need to hope that he is still a Scooby fan.

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