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As a member of bzzagent I receive free samples to test and coupons to pass onto my friends and family so they can try the product at a reduced price too. One of my latest products has been the Right Guard Invisible Xtreme deoderant spray that says it keeps your clothes stain free and you dry for upto 72 hours. So does it perform? After a few weeks use in different weather and occasions here is my opinion. The deoderant comes in a simple black can with pink on the front which makes it stand out quite nicely from the rest of the white deoderant cans you usually find on the shelf. There is a little lid for the top of it and then it is a simple spray can like any other. I tend to have a shower before bed as I have two small children to organise in the morning so I use the spray immediately after my shower and find it dries quickly and leaves a pleasant fragrance. It is not my favourite fragrance in the world but it is nice enough that I have continued to wear it. It lasts all through the night with no stains on my black pj top. I tend to spray again in the morning out of habit but I did leave it a couple of days when I was staying at home without and it did last the entire day until my next shower. We've had some pretty sunny days lately which is always the real test for me when you have young children to chase around the park or on long walks to the ducks and I've had no sweat patches, no feeling wet moments or none of that "Oh no, why didn't I bring a little deoderant with me?" moments. It's kept me smelling fresh whilst running around all afternoon which is what I look for. Right guard say it has triple stain protection - no yellow stains? Check No oily stains? Check No white marks? Check. So overall, I really like this new deoderant. The only improvement I could suggest upon is the fragrance but it isn't enough that it would put me off. I would definitely recommend this to other people whether they are active or not, as it's left my clothes looking fresh and me feeling fresh.
Tumblin' Monkeys is another game that we've picked up a car boot sale for the bargain price of £1. We did have a problem with this one though because it had no rules or instructions with it and we had no idea what the proper way of playing was so we made our own until we found out! The game is aimed at children who are 4 years and over and I think this is quite accurate. Tumblin' Monkeys is made up of 4 main parts, some coloured sticks, little monkeys & a coloured dice. You need to slot the two parts of the tree trunk together before placing it onto the base and then adding the tree leaves onto the top to keep it together. The idea is then to put two of each coloured sticks onto each section and place the monkeys in to the top of that and you're ready to play. This is a nice and simple set up and I let my 4 year old do it for the most part is it helps with her hand to eye coordination and it's not a job I really enjoy doing! The rules of the game are as simple as the set up in that you roll the dice (which has 2 of each colour stick on it) and have to pull out the matching stick starting from the top and working your way down until all of the sticks have gone. The winner is the player with the least monkeys. The lack of rules became a problem for us the first time we played it and we allowed each other to pull out any stick they wanted - leaving most of the monkeys sitting on two sticks at the top of the game! This probably wasn't the best idea as we'd sat through the first part of the game a little bit bored with the niggling feeling we weren't playing it quite right! Perhaps some more indepth rules on the box would have been useful. We did quickly learn the proper rules after speaking to a friend and the game became much more interesting as we'd gather monkeys throughout the game and could have a laugh as each stick was pulled out rather than sitting knowing nothing would happen until the end! I'm still not entirely sure of the rules if you throw a colour that has no sticks left so we tend to just skip a turn so if anyone could enlighten us that would be brilliant! Tumblin' Monkeys is a good game for little kids as it not only helps them with their coordination, but also their counting, colours and lessons about balance so you win the least monkeys! My daughter has also learned that if you pull the stick in a particular way then you can transfer a monkey from your stick to another one and win. It's easy to set up and easy to play so there are no complaints from my direction. It does remind me of playing kerplunk when I was a young girl but this one is far quieter with the monkeys rather than marbles dropping down. It's also easier to set up and get the sticks through so another thumbs up! Overall, it's a wonderful game that will keep us occupied for many hours should the weather stay this miserable through our almost 8 weeks of summer holidays.. gulp!
We tend to visit our local car boot sale a couple of times and month and picked up the game jitterbugs for £1 as we wanted something my 4 year old and 18 month old could play together. It's aimed at children between the ages of 3 and 6 but my youngest is very capable of playing it and thus it makes a very nice family game. When you open the box you're faced with a big plastic base, 12 jitterbugs (little bugs with a magnet on the top) and 4 spider wands that are basically a handle with a leaf halfway down and a spider on the bottom that has a magnet underneath. There is a button on the top of the base that will make the base vibrate and the game can begin as soon as you've placed the jitterbugs onto the base. I should note that the game requires one C battery. There are two different ways to play the game which are described on the box but it's possible to play it in a variety of different ways too. One of these ways described on the box are to catch all 3 of your coloured bugs before your opponent catches theirs but this version is a little hard for my 18month old so we tend to keep this to just my 4 year old and I. The other way described on the box can be played with my youngest and it's as simple as trying to catch as many bugs as you can! This is a bit of a dud if you only have 2 players as it's likely that you'll both catch 6 bugs each and there will be no winner but it's a bit easier to win with 3+ players as the wands can get tangled or you can block them from getting any bugs. We also play another way that my 4 year old likes and that's to get your opponents bugs before they do and award points at the end for each bug caught. For example, an opponents bug would get 3 points, one of your own bugs would get 2 points and a bug that has no owner would get 1 point. This is a fantastic way of helping your little ones tell their colours, count higher than the possible 12 and show them to use their imagination to come up with new games to try. We've also played it with awarding points to a colour (blue 4, red, 3 etc) and adding them at the end to see who has won. She loves doing this and is trying to think of new ways to play as we speak. I find children get bored with games very quickly and it's for this reason that we make up our own games to play with what we have so we're not constantly buying new games that take up storage space we don't have! This game of jitterbugs is perfect for it and it can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. It's supposed to cost £10 in ELC but ours was a bargain price of £1 and in perfect condition too. The battery isn't included in the price but it can be purchased from ELC or if games and toys are constantly running out of batteries then you'll have a stash just waiting at home for a time like this!
We bought the Jane Slalom R Matrix travel system for our daughter after our previous buggy was written off in a car accident and bought this to go with the matrix car seat. We live in the north of Scotland so something to protect my daughter from the elements was definitely needed! Jane raincovers are fantastic quality (I had for the piccola car seat too) and this one was no different. Quite often raincovers are made from very thin plastic and tear at the drop of a hat, but this one is still as perfect as if we'd bought it yesterday. It has mesh and a roll up window along the front so the little one doesn't get too hot and is very handy to pop your hand in to sort a blanket or pop a dummy back in which was perfect for us as I do a lot of walking so quite often have to fix little things. The raincover fits all the way around the car seat so there aren't little bits of material sticking out that can catch the rain and spread it inside like you see on some. It also means the wind is kept completely out of the car seat so you can ensure your little one remains warm and dry. The thicker plastic also makes it very easy to clean as it retains it's shape a bit better rather than folding and leaving gaps that you can't cover. Overall, it's a fantastic buy for anyone that walks a lot or will have their little ones exposed to the elements.
We first bought our daughters the cut and play pizza to go with their kitchen to see how they'd get on with it and were so impressed we went out and bought this one too. It's great for their imaginations, great for learning and great for letting mummy cook in the kitchen in peace! This set is made up of 10 different vegetables, a chopping board and a plastic knife (just incase anyone thought it was real!) It includes your average carrot and potato to the slightly harder cucumber, red pepper and aubergines that your little ones may or may not have heard of until now. The vegetables can be cut apart with the plastic knife and easily stuck back together again using the velcro attached to each piece and this makes it a wonderful toy for playing games with and learning. Sometimes we play cafes, little cooks, have a house corner or simply take pieces out of the box and play guess the vegetable! It's amazing what you can do with something so simple and we've had ours of fun with it. My 18 month old has an interest in these too and they're going to be great when it comes to counting as it's something we can all play. The vegetables are made from a sturdy plastic too so there's no danger of her swallowing little bits if she puts it into her mouth thinking it's real food! It's also a fantastic little toy for playing with in one of our pans in the kitchen whilst I'm trying to cook rather than having them hanging off my legs! She's cooking our supper in her little pan whilst I'm cooking ours without interruption which is always a good thing. Overall, it's a fantastic little toy for any child that we use to have fun and teach them at the same time without them realising it!
I'm a stay at home mum so it's important for me to find different toys that can help me to stimulate the kids and keep them entertained when the weather is terrible or we fancy a lazy day at home. ELC have some really nice toys for this and as my two girls already had a kitchen, this made a nice addition! The pizza is made of plastic with some pretend toppings on the top to make it look like a real one and can be sliced into 6 pieces with the included pizza cutter. It can be easily placed onto your plastic plates using the pizza slice that is also included with it and the perfect size for those little hands. The pizza is sliced apart with the pizza cutter and easily stuck together again with the velcro on the sides and is an absolute dream to clean. It's great for the imagination and we've used this pizza in a wide variety of ways. It can be used in the kitchen when you're playing chef, delivered to your seat when you're playing cafe, chopped up in a pretend pizza box when you're learning to count and used to teach addition, subtracion and division when they get a bit older without them realising they're doing work. We've had conversations about pizza toppings when I'm trying to introduce new food and conversations about what would go together when you're cooking and what would just be really disgusting! Usually I include a little bit about the disadvantages of a product but bar from the fact they're mostly unhealthy, I can't think of anything I don't like. It's one of the best products I've bought that still keeps my 4 year old and 18 month old occupied at the same time. I'm on the lookout for more of the range to include when we upgrade to a larger kitchen with some storage facilities!
Our daughter started standing on her own at 7 months and by 9 months she was almost running so we thought we'd buy this for her first birthday so she could take her bricks between rooms. She's had it around 8 months now so time to share her adventures! ~~ The Toddle Truck ~~ The toddle truck is made from wood, has 4 wheels and a handle which is nice and basic. The wheels have green grippers on the bottom to stop it from going too fast for them and enables them to hold on when learning to walk too. There's a space inside the toddle truck for the bricks that are included with it which is handy for storage too. It's advertised as 12months+ but my daughter did use it at around 8 months at a friends house and had a blast. ~~ What to do with it ~~ Lots of people are using the toddle truck as a walking aid when their kids are learning to walk but we like to use it as a way of transporting things around the house. We've used it for a variety of activities and find it ever so nice to watch her moving the paints to the kitchen at art time, the bricks to the living room for building castles with and using it to tidy her toys up at the end of the day. We've recently lost their dolls buggy after she decided sitting in it would be a good idea and it caved so the newest use is for moving the dolls around the house and letting her dolls sleep in it. It looks like a simple walker but it's great for their little imaginations! ~~ Eep! ~~ There is one problem we've found with it though in that it's extremely noisy to roll on a wooden floor. The green grippers do their jobs so it doesn't run way with her but you stand no chance of watching the tv with this in the room! You do need to watch the little ones when playing with this too as we've discovered! She once tried to crawl through the gap between the handles and found herself a little bit stuck when it tipped up on her and she couldn't get back out. It's been a one off occurance but it just goes to show even the simplest of toys have their dangers. ~~ Overall ~~ Overall, it's a lovely traditional toy that will keep them occupied for hours. The bricks that come with it are handy but by no means the only thing you can do with it. It is far noisier than we imagined but the fun far outweighs that.
We purchased a second hand zapp as a smaller stroller to our Jane Slalom R and bought the xtra seat to go with it but have dropped down to using just the zapp now that she's mostly walking as it's far easier to fold and takes up much less space. I love and hate this buggy though with plenty of reasons for each! ~~ The Buggy ~~ The quinny zapp pushchair is suitable from 6 months old as it doesn't lay flat although I wouldn't personally use it on a baby under a year old as they still need more support than this one offers. It has 3 wheels and a nice compact 3d fold (the attraction for us) but it requires two hands to fold it down and to put it up again. It has an optional hood, basket, cosytoes, travel bag and raincover and can also be converted into a travel system via a maxi cosi car seat. ~~ The good bits ~~ The fold was our main reason for buying this buggy as originally it was for taking on our camping holiday and the space was very limited given we had a tent, travel cot, suitcases & a million other things a baby needs to this was ideal. It folds so small that it fits in behind our seats in the car rather than in the boot too which quite often comes in handy if we've been shopping or the likes. It's very light so picking it up and moving it around isn't a problem either. It's easy to push with two handles - so easy that I can now push it with one hand whilst balancing a much needed umbrella in the other - and very easy to move up curbs and over mostly smooth terrain. The seat unit is made from a material that just doesn't stain so it always looks clean which was a god send for us after a bird decided on the seat was a brilliant place to poo! It can also be removed and put into the washing machine on a cold wash if it ever needs freshened up - something all of my previous buggies were incapable of! The brakes are very easy to use with a red button for on and a grey button to release. This is far easier than the ones with a bar over the back and haven't let us down yet. ~~ The Niggles ~~ The main reason for purchase was the fold of the buggy but it's far from easy for just anyone to do and it does take a bit of practice to get it right. You also need two hands in order to do it so you can forget holding onto your little one at the same time as there would be a huge danger of dropping them on their heads! This isn't a problem for us so much as we've a secure location to fold it where my little girl can't get into anything dangerous but it's a consideration for others. The front wheel of the buggy is an absolute nightmare over ground that isn't completely smooth and does nothing but make a horrible rattling noise so there's certainly no element of surprise when you're coming! I thought this was a second hand thing as our buggy was older but my friends brand new one does it too so obviously not. The lack of recline can be an issue for some but my little girl is never in it long enough for a nap so although it would be handy, it's not entirely necessary. There is an optional basket for the quinny zapp too and I found it handy on the zapp xtra but slightly more tricky to use on just the zapp as the seat unit seems to be placed a bit further back. I can still fit the rain cover underneath and a bag or two but it's certainly nowhere close to what your average one might hold. The hood is removable and whilst I choose to have it on the buggy all of the time, it's useless for the sun! It doesn't reach far enough forward to be any use whatsoever unless you have your back to the sun. Not really helpful if you have to walk with the sun towards you and your little one doesn't like wearing a hat or being blinded by the sun. My last niggle isn't really a niggle but more of a huge complaint - the raincover. I don't know if other people manage to keep the raincover on it but I certainly can't. It doesn't seem to be big enough to join at the top and bottom and if you do finally manage to get it on, one little kick from a monkey or a little gust of wind and you'll be chasing it over the road! Not one for use in the rain then.. ~~ Overall ~~ It is a nice buggy overall and although I have more niggles than actual likes it's still worth it for the space it saves in your car. It's easy to push and light to move around but there are certainly a lot of areas for improvements. I've had the zia too for my other little girl when she was younger and I'd definitely chose this over it anyday... well maybe not on a rainy day!
Your wedding day is supposed to be the best day of your life and it's a brides' presumption that the groom will be waiting at the church when you get there so it came as a big shock to Zoe that the love of her life has no intention of marrying her and instead jilts her at the alter. It's bad enough having to get through that day but life afterwards can be hard with all the sympathetic looks and people dashing away not knowing what to say. Zoe comes up with solution though - fly across the world to become a nanny and forget Jason even exists... but is it really that easy? Zoe gives up her day job, her house and her entire life to set off to this fancy life in America with a rich couple who're taking her on an expenses free holiday in return for her looking after their well behaved children. There's a slight change of plan when she gets there though and instead Zoe enters the life Ryan, Ruby & Samuel - a family still hurting after the death of the woman in their life. Instead of the easy job Zoe had expected, she has to put up with kids that are used to watching tv and eating junk and a man who's more intent on working and socialising than spending any time with the kids. Zoe does have some light humour though in the shape of some other British nannies and soon classes them as her best friends. An accident at the lake and some news from home change everything for Zoe and it's very soon that she has some life changing decisions to make. The nearly weds wasn't at all what I expected and I can't say that's a bad thing. I'm not one for wedding plots, especially as some of them take over the entire story and you end up wondering why you've just planned someone elses wedding. This isn't the case for this book and it's injected with a reality that you find quite possible. Moving across the world seems like a good plan when you're trying to avoid someone but it's rarely that easy to leave your thoughts and mind behind. It doesn't only deal with the rejection from being jilted, but the effects grief can have on a family and the difficulties in dealing with it. It also looks at the difficulties in living so far away from home and the different rules in different countries - is it really that easy to remember you drive on the right?! It's not a serious book though and it's mostly a humorous tone with little tit bits that'll have you giggling out loud. It's not a long book and the chapters are relatively short in order to keep you reading so I finished this book in less than a day (much to my partners disgust!). My final words on it? It's fun, enjoyable, light hearted and easy to read. Excellent chick lit. I've bought the rest of her books so look out for the reviews :)
I'm a bzzagent and I get the opportunities to join campaigns and try out different products for free whilst sharing vouchers with family and friends so that they have a discounted opportunity. I don't get paid for it and they certainly have no influence on my opinion on the product so the review and opinions here are totally mine. ~~ The yogurt ~~ I'm usually one of these boring people that have the same cereal in the mornings with semi-skimmed milk and shovel it down before herding my kids out the door to nursery so I was really excited to pick up Activia's pouring yogurt to use and change the flavour a touch - Special K's oats and honey cereal is delicious but everyone needs a change now and again! I looked at the shelf and had to decide between strawberry, vanilla & the original one. I'm always a touch weary of original flavours so I went with the vanilla and tried it the next day. It pours nicely with a really good consistency so no splashing disasters or lumpy chaos like I'd envisioned. I really did have this image of clumpy yogurt so it's always a good start when you're happy at the first step. Now I'm one of these people that had really bad reflux when I was young and thus hate the idea of soggy food and will still insist on my beans and toast not touching each other on the place (shiver) so I'm usually wolfing my cereal down at record pace to avoid any chance of that soggy mouthful (not to mention eating it before the kids do) but I've found my perfect solution in this yogurt. The cereal doesn't absorb it like it would with milk so I've been taking my time in the mornings to enjoy the flavours without having a fear of a soggy goo in my mouth. Bonus points to Activia! Sometimes a company can describe a flavour and you really look forward to it but when you taste it it's far from what you'd expect and you run as far away as you can from it and never touch it again. Activia have struck gold with me again and have managed to produce a very nice tasting yogurt that will be suited by loads of different foods - mainly cereals. It's my perfect flavour combination and it honestly couldn't taste nicer with my Special K. It doesn't stop at cereal though, my partner likes to eat it directly as it is and good old on a diet me decided I'd be healthier and have strawberries and yogurt rather then the rather more fattening strawberries and double cream. The cream is still the favourite but the yogurt did come a very close second and will be enjoyed over and over again. My 4 year old daughter has become this yogurts favourite fan too but for an entirely different reason. Both my little girls have had milk intolerances since birth but the eldest (4) has grown out of it but is still very reluctant to have straight milk so breakfast has never been the happiest of occasions until now. The yogurt is a complete hit and she's had no problems with it whatsoever and thinks her cocopops are delicious with it on! Long may the happy mornings last. ~~ Overall ~~ With less than 2% fat and it's versatile ways, Activia's pouring yogurt has found itself a permanent spot in my fridge to be enjoyed by myself, my partner and our two little munchkins. It's nice that we got it for free (courtesy of being a bzzagent) but I'll continue to buy it and I expect to find more uses as time goes on. Time to try the other flavours! If you're interested in becoming a bzzagent then log onto www.bzzagent.co.uk and sign up for free. No strings attached, the more you do, the more you get.
I have a 4 year old daughter that went a bit polly pocket mad after she played with one at her friends house and she was begging us to get her the polly pocket version of the above. For practical reasons, (ie her 1 year old sister) I didn't want to get something with tiny little pieces and thus I thought the barbie one would be perfect for us instead. The barbie water park is basically a swimming pool for barbies with a slide, water wheel for the puppies and house at the top (which holds the water). It comes with two dogs, a barbie and a barbie seahorse and unfortunately the whole thing comes in pieces so you need to be ready to assemble it. My daughter got this for her birthday and it was the first thing she wanted to play with so I happily got it out of the box and assembled it. It only took about 5 minutes to assemble and put the water in which is really impressive for a plastic toy as you're usually fiddling around with them for ages. The water is stored at the back of the house but to be perfectly honest it doesn't hold very much and you're better to get a jug full and be prepared to be filling it every two minutes as the puppies will only slide down with the water flowing. The barbie doesn't really slide down the slide at all though which is a bit of a let down. The barbie herself comes with a little seahorse that attaches to her hand and when she's standing in the water it will squirt from the sea horses mouth in whichever direction your little monkey will be holding it. Poor daddy wasn't paying attention and leaned a little close and had a bit of a shower which gave our 4yr old lots of amusement! It's easy to attach and take apart again though. The barbies clothes come off too which makes for easy drying so you don't get that damp smell that often lingers with these toys. The waterwheel spins around easily with little spaces for the puppies to sit so they'll have great fun with that too. Overall, it is a lovely but frustrating toy. It goes together and comes apart easily enough but the space for the water isn't big enough and if you're a bit rough with it the whole thing will tip and you'll find yourself mopping the floor. On the other hand, my daughter loves it and it comes in handy if I'm trying to cook as she can sit at the kitchen table with it and I can just top up the water as needed. It first retailed at £30 but can now be bought for as little as £15.
I have this really annoying habit of breaking hairdryers that annoys my partner no end and ends up costing us a fortune! My previous babyliss one blew up just under a year from purchase and the week before my birthday which was rather convenient for a struggling to buy me something other half. He went for the babyliss cord keeper after a friend recommended it on facebook and surprisingly it's still going strong. Does it live up to the others though? ~~ The hairdryer ~~ The hairdryer comes in a lovely bright pink (to the delight of my 4year old that occasionally borrows it) so it's not easy to lose in the rubble aka my bedroom. It's 2000W which is slightly less powerful than my previous one but not to be laughed at in the slightest. There are two airflow settings and 3 temperature settings along with a cool shot setting to enable easy styling. It's loaded with ionic technology although this has to be turned on throughout with no option to disable. You'll probably have guessed from it's name that the unique feature is the ability to store the cord inside the hairdryer thus leaving the hanging of wires a thing of the past. ~~ Performance ~~ I do like this hairdryer but at 2000W it doesn't dry my hair as quick as I'd like and I feel they've maybe concentrated on the cord function rather than the performance. My previous hairdryer would take around 10 minutes to dry my hair completely but I can still be sat with this one 20 minutes later finding wet bits throughout my hair. I should probably mention my hair is quite thick so this could be thought of as the problem but it also takes a ridiculous amount of time to dry my 4yr olds rather short thin hair. The hairdryer does have the ion feature that''s supposed to make your hair easier to manage and with a reduced amount of frizz but to be perfectly honest it just seems to make my hair greasy very quickly. I don't think this is a result of the ion function in general, just the one included with this hairdryer. It would be far better for me to able to turn it off and see the effect without it. ~~ The cord rewind ~~ The cord rewind causes a few flaws with the hairdryer and it's probably for this reason that I'd never buy the same one again. The cord is stored inside the hairdryer at the push of a button on the side but this means the cord length is very limited and you'll find yourself pulling out extension leads to places you've had no problems with before. I have a socket just outside my bathroom door and a mirror just inside the door and I've always dried my hair in there without a problem, however, the cord is no longer long enough to do this and I've either got to pull out the extension lead and have wires trailing for the kids to fall over or take my portable mirror and dry my hair right next to the socket. Neither of these is particularly useful for me as it can be quite time consuming moving things around when you're already rushing to get out of the door with two kids by 8.45. The cord retraction is a good idea in theory and it would work well as a space saver for a holiday but it doesn't really work well for every day use. The other problem with this is you can only retract the cord when the hairdryer is cold which means if you don't have a spare 10 minutes after you've finished then you won't be using the main function on the dryer. ~~ The Price ~~ The hairdryer prices in at around £30 but it can be found cheaper if you're willing to shop around and have time to wait for a delivery. It is pricey for what it is and you can find other higher end hairdryers for around the same price. ~~ Overall ~~ I wouldn't recommend this hairdryer to anyone that has thick hair, little patience or high expectations as they'd only be disappointed. Babyliss have concentrated on keeping the cord locked away instead of performance and I expect there are quite a few disappointed customers who were expecting far more. It is perfect as a holiday dryer though or for a spare to keep in the cupboard if you happen to be like me and break them once a year.
I went through a stage of "must lose the baby belly" after I had my second daughter and went through a succession of wii and xbox games that would enable me to do it from home - gyms are expensive and quite frankly I don't have the time during the day with my little ones. So how did this one compete against the others? ~~ What is it? ~~ EA Active Sports 2 is basically a far better version that EA Active Sports and combines fun with genuine fitness. Unlike the wii fit, this one makes you feel like you're exercising but lets you go on to your own pace and create your own workouts or follow theirs. It uses the wii fit remote, heart monitor (included), leg monitor (included), resistance band (included) and you have the option of using the wii fit board but it's not a requirement. It also comes with the wireless dongle that you plug into the back of the wii via usb (It can be a problem finding an available slot if you're anything like me and have wii remote chargers etc plugged in there). Unlike the previous version, this one can be used hands free for the most part so there's no more clutching the wii remote and wondering how you're using both of your hands at the same time. There's also no requirement for the nunchuck so no more plugging it in and out. The screen gives you a tally of calories burnt off and your heart rate throughout which helps you to get the right level for you from a choice of easy, medium and hard. ~~ Activities ~~ There are a variety of exercises and there's certainly something there for everyone. The thing I like most about this one is they're split into sections of what you're aiming to do. For example, there are warm up stretches, core exercises, upper body, lower body, cardio and warm down. You can go from doing simple squats following the instructor to make sure you're doing it right to mountain biking where you have to squat to go downhill or run your socks off to go uphill! I tend to do a variety of these so it's more fun and not at all like going to a group where everyone is bored senseless. You also have the likes of football and basketball and I love the setup of these because there are several parts to each one - for example, basketball can include lunges, jumps, running which is basically a real life version of all the things you need to do to play basketball. Very realistic in this sense. You can also join in with mountain biking, step aerobics and a variety of others. ~~ Advantages ~~ I've used quite a few exercise games over the years with the determination of losing the baby belly and the weight you inevitably put on when pregnant and following every craving that comes your way but this one far outweighs the others for several reasons. It is hands free for the most part which means you have two genuine free hands to follow exercises like you would if you were exercising outside or at the gym - most of the games I've encountered for the wii at least can't say this. There are a variety of different exercises available and you can customise them to meet your needs or you can do the easy option and let the fitness instructor you've chosen do that for you. There's also the option of joining the 9 week program that slowly gets harder and gives you harder exercises as you go along. I joined this a few days after my sister and niece did and we're all still going strong courtesy of another fantastic feature - workout groups. The 9 week program also allows you to pick easy, medium or hard as your workout option so you never have to feel you're out of your depth. (You can change this as you go along too if you feel like you were feeling optimistic or like me, lazy on the day and you want to work out that little bit harder!) I mentioned the workout groups above and I personally love this feature and I think it's what has kept me going on those predictable "I just can't be bothered" days. It allows you to add friends into the group and each time one of you exercises it will share certain milestones so you can compete with them from the other side of the country. It doesn't share your weight, height or those other things you may wish to keep a secret, but does share how many calories you've worked off, how far you've ran and how many workouts etc you've completed. This is perfect for my sister and I and out other sister has been so impressed she's just bought the game and joined up too. It keeps me going though as I can't have the oldies beating me ;) There is also the calorie counter where you can see how you're doing and whether you've met their projected amount of calories burned or where you've crucified it! I'm not really sure where to include this next bit but as it's a good thing I'm guessing it should be here. Previous games I've tried have had issues with picking up my movements and I've found myself slowing right down, stopping or simply hurling the game out the window in the hope I'd never see it again! I've had none of these problems with this one (I did with EA Active original as the leg band was terrible and fell down all night and don't get me started on the Zumba version!) and have been very impressed by the pick up rate and accuracy. ~~ Disadvantages ~~ As with everything, I did have some niggles whilst using it but they aren't so bad I'd put the game down and never use it again. My first niggle wasn't to do with the game as such, but the way the equipment is set to shut off if you don't use it for a little while. As the majority of the game is hands free, you'll find the connection to the wii remote tends to be lost quite a few times during exercises and you'll find yourself having to stop, find the remote to hit a random button and start again in the blink of an eye. The wii board does this too if you choose to use it so between the two of them it can be a little bit annoying but this is a console issue rather than a game issue. The leg strap and the arm strap (which has the heart monitor) need to be in the right position to pick things up properly and once in a blue moon they've stopped working due to this. The position isn't too precise and it does allow for a bit of movement but worth a little mention if these kind of things annoy you. I haven't suffered from the next disadvantage but my downstairs neighbour certainly did - noise! The exercises can be high impact and if you have someone like my partner jumping around like an out of sync elephant then your neighbours may not be so impressed! I'm quite light footed so there isn't really an issue with me jumping or running around but my partner is far from it and I keep expecting a visit from the neighbour to ask why his ceiling has collapsed! ~~ My experience ~~ I've recently lost over 4 stone since the birth of my second daughter and I'm almost now classed as a "healthy BMI" so I'm not the fittest person in the world but I am trying to improve that. I'm not what you'd call big, just a normal healthy person that's unlucky to have a bigger build. I climb up our two flights of stairs 3 or 4 times a day carrying my now one year old and taking my 4yr old out as much as winter will allow but sometimes that just isn't enough thus the games. It's for this reason that I started the 9 week program on the easy mode thinking that I would be very unfit and struggle to keep up with what's going on but I was surprised to learn that within a week I'd decided that although I was getting a good workout, I didn't feel like I was pushing myself to a level where I would feel tired enough. It was for this reason that I decided the medium workout might suit me a little bit better. Within a week of using the medium level I felt far fitter and I realised this was the right level for me to actively push myself and achieve my dream of slimming down and being happy to look in the mirror and see a toned and happy mummy looking back. The exercises can be a killer but I go with the motto no pain, no gain and it's keeping me going. I guess what I'm trying to say is don't always opt for the easy option as you're probably far fitter than you'd let yourself believe. It also means that for those of you that tried the first EA sports and almost died half way through the first session, there's hope for you yet in this game. I've still got the hard option to go and the thought of it fills me with dread but there's always that goal at the end to keep you going. ~~ Overall ~~ If you're a typical traditional exercise person who loves their sit ups and push ups along with a zillion different kinds of lunges and squats then you'll love this - as will someone who loves the more gamey version of exercise in for forms of basketball, football and even a bit of step aerobics. I used to be a keen athlete and competed around Scotland until school and real life (boys, what else?) got in the way and this has really taken me back to my routes. A lot of the exercises are what we'd have done there and that's the kind of style that really suits me. Things like the wii fit are good fun but they aren't what I'd call exercise whereas this definitely is. It's easier to manage than the original version and has been improved in every way possible. I've babbled on a little bit but hopefully you've got the idea that this ones a keeper if you're really serious about being fit without the gym, rain or frost! This Wii game will give you a serious workout and tone you up nicely, what else could you ask for? Oh and a little note for anyone interested - it's currently selling for £10 on Amazon which is less than a months gym membership ;)
I'm a big fan of quinny pushchairs and whilst there are a few niggles with the current zapp xtra, I love the accessories you can purchase to use with them. This footmuff has been a dream to use and we often get comments about how snug our little one looks. We bought our zapp second hand and purchased a new zapp xtra seat so we have the smaller version for holiday and the recliner version for every day use. The second hand zapp came with the footmuff in a little carry bag and still looked like new despite the owner saying they'd used it for their two little girls for the previous 3 years - what an advantage! This shows the quality of the footmuff right from the beginning and it still looks amazing now. I'd seen a few people say how fiddly the footmuff was to attach to the buggy but we had no such problems. Remove the shoulder strap pads, thread it through, popper on and away you go. I've had a variety of pushchairs over the years and I have to say this is the best footmuff in terms of staying in position. Various others have slipped down, straps have come out and my daughters have simply caused havoc with but I haven't experienced any of this with the quinny. The footmuff itself looks more like a sleeping bag though if I'm perfectly honest with the usual cosytoes bit at the bottom and a nice big hood over the top that protects them from the wind and really does keep them very warm. I live in the North of Scotland so this is a big advantage for us as the winds are bitter and the weather can be atrocious and other cosytoes just don't seem to protect their heads or upper body at all. It zips down at both sides and the top of the cosytoes can be easily folded down for smaller babies. It also has toggles around the hooded part so you can pull it closer round their heads or loosen it off if needed. One of the problems I've had with the zapp xtra is with the raincover blowing off very easily in the wind so I've now stopped using it for the most part in windy conditions as the cosytoes seems to be completely waterproof and dries very quickly afterwards. You can't say this for many others! It is very pricey and I've seen it retail for anywhere between £40 and £60 but it's definitely worth every penny. Ours came with the pushchair at a bargain price so it's always worth looking around for second hand ones. Overall, I'd recommend this to anyone and everyone. It's quite a universal fit on it and I know it's compatible with the zapp, zapp xtra and the quinny buzz so I'm sure it would fit other pushchairs too. It takes the worry away from me wondering if my lo is too cold when it's -6C outside and I can't complain about that.
I reviewed the Vango Tigris 800 tent after a disasterous holiday so I thought I should start to review the other parts that you can buy with it. The footprint was something we had never experienced before and quite frankly, never heard of. The idea of a tent footprint is to protect the bottom of your tent from the mud and things on the ground below and to help prevent tears if you happen to pitch on something sharp (twigs and things can do a lot more damage than you'd realise!) If you're pitching your tent for the first time then it also helps you to figure out the exact sizes and you can lay it down exactly where you want the tent to be. It covers the entire base of the tent so you need to make sure you position it very carefully and remember to think about where the tent doors will end up or you'll be pulling it right up again! It is simply pegged down with 4 tpegs in the corners and a few normal tent pegs along the sides and is as easy as that. So is it worth it? On a previous camping trip we just had our tent minus the groundsheet and to be perfectly honest it was a bit of a nightmare to clean afterwards as we'd had to pack the tent up wet after stormy conditions and you can imagine the slugs that had attached themselves to the bottom of the tent and all of the other creepies you had to avoid whilst trying to fold the tent up (if you're like me and hate creepies then you'll know what I mean!) The footprint brings the whole new element of folding and rolling a clean tent that, for the most part, is void of anything that moves and certainly means you can roll up your tent slug free! It's supposed to keep the bottom of your tent drier too but I do call that part into question. We've never experienced rips of anything due to twigs or thorns in the past but the footprint gave us that little bit extra protection from it and thus I stopped worrying about moving every last thing before I pitched. So it has the advantages listed about but what are the disadvantages to it? The reason I call the bit about keeping the bottom of your tent dry into question is because we seemed to form puddles between our tent and the footprint and these obviously took hours to dry as there was no direct sunlight under there. I don't know if this is how we'd pitched it or if it's a common problem with the footprints but it's probably something you should be aware of. We used it 4 times and had the same problem on each occasion. Although the bottom of your tent will (should) remain dry, it does mean you'll have a wet and muddy footprint to deal with but it's far smaller and easier to deal with than an 8 man tent. It's supposed to be easier to clean but to be honest I'm a bit lost when it comes to cleaning something that big as it's too heavy to be thrown over a washing line but if you lay it on the ground to clean one side then it just means putting the first side on the ground. Either way, I got myself into a tangle and it was sent back along with the tent in a rather sorry state! (This wasn't a fault with the footprint and certainly not a reason to send back but it was purchased as part of a package with the faulty tent and thus had to be returned). The other thing you need to remember is that boot space when camping can be problematic and this is just another thing to squeeze into an already compact space. It may be small when you buy it and leave home but by the time you've used it and attempted to squeeze it back into the box you're looking at a little nightmare! The footprint for the tigris is usually priced between £20 and £30 but can be cheaper if bought in a package with the tent. Overall I'd still recommend getting one as despite the couple of problems and the bootspace, it's certainly easier to clean a sheet than the bottom of a giant tent! I really don't know if the puddles are a common occurance or it's our complete lack of camping skills coming to light or if it had something to do with a badly made tent but the warning is there. If you're camping, buy one!