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rolandrat

rolandrat
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Member since: 27.12.2011

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      14.03.2014 16:32
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      The usual sort of story with treasure, secrets and a lost castle

      ===Background=== The Famous Fives series of adventure books were written by Enid Blyton and published between 1942 and 1963. The Five of the title are three siblings Julian, Dick and sister Anne Kirrin and their tomboy cousin Georgina together with her pet dog Timmy. These are middle class children whose families have cooks and who attend boarding schools and holiday abroad and ski. Each story involves the five meeting up during school holidays and being allowed to go off on their own without adults on some pretext - t is then the mystery and adventures begin. ===Brief Synopsis=== This story involves the Five going to stay at Finniston Farm which is supposed to be in Dorset - this farm was modelled on one that Edid Blyton actually lived in. The farmer is forced to take in paying guests as the farm is short of money. He has twins and also staying there is an obnoxious American boy and his father. It turns out the father is into buying old British relics and shipping them back to the States. The name Finniston is also connected with a long since disappeared castle - supposedly ion the farm land. The American also hears this tale and tries to find the castle - but after so many years will there be anything left to find? ===My Opinion=== This book Five on Finniston Farm was published in 1959 and is the 18th book in the Famous Five series. The series only ran for 21 books so I am coming towards the end of the series now. From having what I thought of as an uninspiring title I found this the most enjoyable read so far. We begin with the boys cycling along hot country lanes - they meet the girls and Timmy off the bus and then make their way up to the large old farmhouse called Finniston. At the farm are twins - again these have the tomboy element as they are both called Harries - one is a boy called Henry (which always seems to get changed to Harry) and the other is a girl with short cropped hair called Henrietta. Also staying on the farm are a horrid spoilt American boy called Junior together with his Pop. The contrast between this spoilt and rude boy and the well mannered Kirrin children is very noticeable. Even though the four Kirrin children have a well to do background and go to private schools they are always well mannered and polite and are eager to help - the two boys Julian and Dick are even happy to have camp beds in the barn. There are again lovely descriptions of the rolling farmland and poppy lined lanes. Anne it emerges is interested in history and visits a little antique shop in the village - owned by an old man called Finniston. It seems his family used to own a castle that stood on the farm - but it burnt down many centuries ago and now no trace remains - apart for one building now used as a bar which used to be an old chapel. The farmer and his family are very short of money and cannot afford to buy new tractors etc so that is why they take in paying guests - but the obnoxious Americans want to buy all the old relics they can find - much to the annoyance of the great grandfather - who, although shouting a lot, definitely speaks the truth. On hearing of the lost castle the Five plus the twins wonder if they can find the remains - but the American pays to have rights to dig in a certain place to see if the castle is there - on a mound - now how obvious is that! I like the historical part of this story - looking for old ruins, hearing tales of lost storerooms and possibly buried treasure. Who will find anything first - the mercenary American or the children? Well its with a little avian help that the children find their next clue - and then it is excitement all the way. This is a fast paced story and is funny in parts too - the the children having to avoid the awful American boy - and with George and Timmy teaching him a lesson for being so lazy. Of course lots of talk is of full tables and scrumptious food - all helped b the children who assist with preparation and clearing away. Dick and Julian also help the twins with chores around the farm -- definitely nice well brought kids you would be pleased to have around. As always things work our fine in the end - and great grandfather gets a new lease of life with all the excitement. ===Conclusion=== One of the best tales I found and which incorporates all the things you expect from a Famous Five story - secret buildings, lost treasure and searching for tunnels. Also some humorous and also lots of good descriptions of nature and also mouth watering food. Some elements may seem repetitive - the twins, girls wanting to be called boys, an American and his child, lost treasure and a secret tunnel - but these are elements that go to make up a Famous Five story and being aimed at children I think this one really fits the bill. ===Star Rating=== 5 stars. ===Website=== www.enidblyton.net/famous-five www.enidblytonsociety.co.uk

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        11.03.2014 16:42
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        15th Famous Five book - exciting adventures among ruins.

        ===Background=== The Famous Five are four children and their pet dog who get into many adventures. There are three siblings - Julian the eldest, his brother Dick and younger sister Anne. Together with their tomboy cousin Georgina (who insists on being called George) and her pet dog Timmy they have lots of exciting adventures during the school holidays. These are middle class children who attend boarding school, have a cook at home and go for holidays abroad - this being way back in the 1940/50s. ===Brief Synopsis of Story=== This is the 15th book in the Famous Five series which were published by Enid Blyton from 1942 through to 1963. This story starts with Anne and George camping out on the Common near Kirrin Cottage (George's home). Later they are joined by the two boys, but as usual the holiday is not as quiet and peaceful as expected. There is a ruined cottage on the Common, and a mysterious Roman dig taking place not too far away. When the children see weird lights and hear frightening noises the story really begins. There is also a case of mistaken identity which runs through the first part of the book and would be quite entertaining for children. ===My Opinion=== This book was published in 1956 and is one of the Famous Five stories I seem to recall the most. The excuse this time for the children going off without the adults is that Timmy the dog has a cut by his ear. The dog therefore has to wear a large collar to stop him scratching the cut and George is so annoyed at people making fun of him that she takes herself and the dog off to the Common until the cut is healed. George is later joined by Anne. To begin with the two boys are not there - they are on a schoolboy tour in France - very nice for the 1950s when most children never really went anywhere on holidays. Anne and George are camping and set up their pitch near a little spring. They also see a little ruined cottage and Anne is always the practical one and says they had 'better look out for adders'. While out exploring George and Anne meet a friendly boy and his dog. This boy is out doing a dig at the Roman remains - apparently his father had done a proper dig there first and then left the boy carry on with it - not the way we treat scheduled remains today! However this boy is not really all he seems and sometimes he is friendly and other times not - and it takes over three quarters of the book before the mystery is figured out. At first they just think he is barmy. One night there is a storm and the girls shelter in the cottage ruins - but they are frightened in the night and it is only the arrival of Julian and Dick the next day which stops Anne for returning to Kirrin Cottage. The boys return from France as they are supposedly fed up of the food and join the two girls camping out. Camping out like this sounds such good fun and once again Enid Blyton never fails to entrance us with her descriptions both of nature and also the vast quantities of wholesome food that the children manage to eat. The Five visit the Roman dig and see some of the broken bits and pieces that the boy has unearthed - there is also an intriguing hole behind some slabs of stone - what can be behind it? Some stone slabs have been lifted up at the old ruined cottage too - but there is nothing underneath so why would anyone go to all the bother? Later of course the mystery and excitement really gets going and it is once again what the Famous Five do best - a mystery to solve, someone to rescue and some secret tunnels. Of course the story is meant for children, the comic incidents with the weird boy are quickly figured out by an adult, and the weird hiding place which must have been used very recently but is now mysteriously very overgrown are a few loose its of the story - but why bother picking fault when you have ruins, Roman remains, vast Commons and springs, secret tunnels and stolen goods. I think this story has always stuck with me as hiding in gorse bushes, exploring old cottage ruins and actually having a Roman dig to explore have always been my sort of adventure. The slight inconsistencies in the story are negligible and not worth worrying over as with these types of stories it is best to just go with the flow rather than pick holes in the plot. They are not too noticeable unless you disect them. ===Star Rating=== 5 stars. ===Would I Recommend?=== Yes. ===Websites=== www.enidblyton.net www.enidblytonsociety.co.uk

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          07.03.2014 19:29
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          A quiet camping trip turns into a mystery and adventure

          ===Background=== The Famous Fives series of adventure books were written by Enid Blyton and published between 1942 and 1963. The Five of the title are three siblings Julian, Dick and sister Anne Kirrin and their tomboy cousin Georgina together with her pet dog Timmy. These are middle class children whose families have cooks and who attend boarding schools and have holidays abroad. The Five are given lots of freedom in the holidays away from the adults which means that in every story they get into some adventure or mystery. ===Brief Synopsis=== Five Go to Billycock Hill was the 16th book in the Famous Five series and was published in 1957. The children have a week's holiday at Witsun and plan a camping trip. Julian and Dick's friend from school, Toby, has told them that there is a lovely place near his farm called Billycock Hill where there is a butterfly farm and lovely caves. The four children set off on their bikes with Timmy running alongside. After some miles cycling they arrive at Billycock Farm and borrow tents to camp on the hill. The children later visit the butterfly farm and the caves - which are scary. Also nearby is a secret aircraft base when Toby's cousin works. There then comes a stormy night and in the morning there is sad news. However the Five are always undaunted and amid lots of excitement the story comes to a satisfactory conclusion. ===My Opinion=== The beginning of this story sees the Five pouring over maps to find the best route to Billycock Hill - which results in George's father falling over the map and getting even more grumpy - as he is a grumpy scientist to begin with. The weather is glorious and the children set off on their bikes and cycle along - Enid Blyton describes the sea as being as 'blue as 'forget-me-nots'. they ride along quiet country lanes where the May flowers are now over but the pink wild roses are coming out here and there. As always Enid Blyton describes the countryside and nature in such a lovely and descriptive way you really do get a mental image of the scene. Some fields are descried as being 'golden with buttercups...nodding their polished heads in the breeze'. They soon see Billycock Hill coming up in the distance - like a Billycock hat. Persinally I did not know what a Billycock hat was but in googling it seems it was an early name for a Bowler hat and was invented in 1849 - so you get an impression then of the shape. Toby's family is busy and chaotic - his little brother Billy is young and cute and has a pet pig (which they called a pigling) called Curly. Billy and Curly feature quite a bit in this story. The butterfly farm is an odd place - the men catch butterflies and moths to sell to collectors - it is not explained whether they are sold alive or for those displays people used to have - but perhaps it is better not to dwell on this anyway. There is a lot of descriptions of different moths and butterflies and a good way to start chatting to children about the different sorts we can see in our gardens and out and about. One example is talking about the Privet Hawk Moth. The children then explore the caves but are scared off by weird noises. Toby takes the children to swim near the secret air force base - but they get told off for not heeding the warning signs to keep out. A storm blows up and strange things happen - this time the children have a portable radio so can hear the news. Sad news comes but is it correct? Weird people are spotted and then a lost child causes everyone to panic - but thanks to the bravery of animals the story resolves itself in the end. There is more emphasis on the naval base which Toby says is 'hush hush' and the butterfly farm in this story - as well as involving Toby and his family. The solution to the mystery is more of a group effort. We do not hear too much in this story about George and her insistence on being called a boy or of her going off in a huff - which in a way makes a pleasant change. There are some comic elements to the story involving the little brother Billy and his cute pet pig. As usual Enid Blyton insists on putting a lot of emphasis on the food the children have and around mealtimes. Julian and Dick once again show themselves to be mature and polite boys and they are heart-warmingly kind to an old lady that is part of the story. These Famous Five books are published in many different editions as well as CDs and also on Youtube. This is a different sort of story as Enid Blyton has introduced more of a military secrets sort of story to the usual adventures. But as she was doing one of these books each year it must have been difficult to keep coming up with various adventure scenarios. Still an interesting adventure and don't go too deeply into the story as it was aimed at children. I liked the introduction of the butterfly elements as well as the cute little Billy. Plus I now know what a Billycock hat is! ===Star Rating=== 5 stars. ===Website=== www.enidblyton.net/famous-five www.enidblytonsociety.co.uk

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            06.03.2014 15:14
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            Tasty oaty biscuits.

            ===The Product=== Fox's Butter Crinkles. 200 grams. Made with real dairy butter. Fox's have been making biscuits since 1853. Started in a Victorian bakery in Yorkshire. Now comes in wine or brown shade plastic wrapper with image of the biscuits on the front. Each biscuit contains 51 calories, 3.6 grams of sugar and 2 grams of fat. Suitable for Vegetarians. Long shelf life - mine was until September 2014. Made with oats, butter and syrup. Fox's also make ginger, coconut or milk chocolate versions of these Crinkle biscuits. ===Cost=== £1.29 per 200 gram pack in Tesco. ===My Opinion=== Apparently Foxs make over twenty varieties of different biscuits and the other day I say this pack in my local Spar garage so bought them as a bit of a treat. Foxs is a well know, old and reputable brand of biscuit maker but I was not sure what these biscuits would be like. The biscuits come in a tube of sealed plastic paper in line with many others. The biscuits themselves are about 2 inches across and are quite thin. In appearance they are a sort of golden colour and the texture on the top of the biscuits is a sort of cracked effect that you also see in ginger nuts. Though I would not have called them 'crinkly'. These are very flavoursome biscuits and although plain and with no creamy filling or anything they are very ncie to just eat on their own. The are quite crisp and break easily, but are not too crumbly. They taste quite sweet and with a sort of buttery taste which makes them very pleasant to just eat on their own. They can be dunked in tea but I do not bother as they are nice enough to to eat as they are. They taste sweet but are not too sickly and Foxs are a good quality brand so these would be a good product to serve to visitors. I usually eat two or three at a time so I quickly got through my packet as there were not that many in the packet - and although I did not count them I would say there were about 20. I would love to try and coconut and ginger versions now as they are very morish and I think those flavours would go with this sort of biscuit very well. ===Star Rating=== 5 stars. ===Would I Recommend?=== Yes. ===Website=== www.foxs-biscuits.co.uk ===Ingredients=== Wheat flour, Sugar, Butter (10%), Rolled Oats (8%), Vegetable Oil, Glucose Syrup, Partially Inverted Refiners Syrup, Raising Agents: Ammonium Bicarbonate, Disodium Diphosphate, Salt, Flavouring, Emulsifier: Soya Lecithin.

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              02.03.2014 17:59
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              A fast paced adventure with lots of excitment

              ===Background=== The Famous Five are the titles of a series of 21 books written by Enid Blyton and published between 1942 and 1963. The Famous Five are siblings Julian, Dick and Anne with the other two being their cousin Georgina (who is a tomboy and insists on being called George) and her pet dog Timmy. They are quite 'posh' children who all go off to boarding schools but who all get together during the school holidays when they all manage to have marvellous adventures. These escapades are facilitated by the fact that they are allowed to go out and travel and roam without any adult supervision. ===Brief Synopsis=== This story begins with Anne and George staying at a riding stables near to moorland - which is called Mystery Moor. Later on the girls are joined by Dick and Julian. Also a part of the story this time is a girl called Henry - short for Henrietta. The five make the acquaintance of Sniffer, a little gypsy boy. The gypsies travel on the moor a few times a year - but why? And what is the mystery that gives the moor its name? Of course the children get drawn into night time adventures on the moor - but who will be able to help them get out of a sticky situation? ===My Opinion=== This is Enid Blyton's 13th book in the Famous Five series and was published in 1954. The two girls are at some riding stables for their holiday as the boys have been off camping with the school. There is a little tedious bickering at the beginning - between George and the daughter from the stables - who also likes to be taken for a boy and insists on being called Henry and not Henrietta. This arguing is getting tedious for Anne and Henry's parents. Once again Enid Blyton paints a lovely rural scene for the backdrop to the children's adventures - talking of the 'fresh green of the budding hawthorn bushes'. Later in the story the two boys join Anne and George. Nature is mentioned when Anne talks of the smell of the gorse bushes 'being like vanilla, or coconut?'. There is even talk later on of sand martins making holes in a sandy bank n May - so you get a free nature lesson thrown in as well. The moor near the stables is described as desolate and it eventually runs down to the sea. Some travellers are near the stable in their old horse drawn caravans and go out onto the moor every three months or so. One boy from the traveller's camp comes to the stables as his horse is lame. He is called 'Sniffer' - he cannot even remember his own name as his habit of continually sniffing has given him this nickname. Enid Blyton provides comic interludes with this Sniffer character as George gives him one of her handkerchiefs to use - but he has never had one before so insists on keeping it in pristine condition and then showing it to George every time they meet! Something that is interwoven into this story is the inclusion of 'patrins' - signs left by travelling folk to show those who come after then which was they have gone or how many of them were there. Sniffer shows George some of them - sticks and leaves laid out in a certain way to show the direction people have gone. Sniffer's dad is a really nasty bully and when the horse was not ready to leave for the journey across the moor Sniffer said his dad had half killed him with a beating. Sniffer has a little circus trained dog called Liz who makes friends with Timmy. Evidently the stables is reasonably middle class too as they have a bell for supper and the girls have to change into dresses. Henry and George do not see eye to eye at all as they are both used to getting their own way, so the next day when Henry is going out with the Five George feigns a headache. She is devastated when they take her at her word and go off for the day, leaving her behind. This part of the story then shows how George is upset and disappointed with herself as she really cut off her nose to spite her face, and this would give a good opportunity to discuss how people should give and take a little more and not expect everything their own way. Julian said that George had 'behaved like a sulky little girl'. It seems the travellers go onto the moor every three months or so, and the children are determined to find out what is going on - also why is it called Mystery Moor? When seeing the old local blacksmith they hear of old strange happenings on the moor - and of mystery mists that spring up and roll in from the sea suddenly. Some people do not seem to have enjoyed this book as much as the others but we really enjoyed the story. The children are camping out on the moors, and know of the gypsies location - thanks to being able to follow patrins. But strange occurrences happen in the night which they can scarcely believe - then one of those sea mists roll in and no one can see anything - what will become of the children? Thanks to ingenious friends the Five come out safely in the end of course - but thy ey have a lot of adventures on the way - and some pretty scary too. Lots of fun for the Five camping out and finding secret things - and of course it all comes good in the end as it always does. Poor Timmy gets an injuring in the course of the adventure but, strong dog that he is, he soldiers on to help his friends. I enjoyed the historical nature of some of this adventure, and the addition of patrins and their explanation was also very interesting and could form a basis for some adventure walks of your own. One thing I would have liked was a bit more about one fo the mysteries surrounding the moor - but then Enid Blyton was writing a children's adventure and not a history book! ===Star Rating=== 5 stars.

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                28.02.2014 20:13
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                Children's adventure tale - not really dated after 60 years

                ===Background=== The Famous Five books are a series of 21 stories written almost annually by Enid Blyton. The Five mentioned in each title are three siblings - Julian, Dick and little sister Anne together with their cousin Georgina (who insists on being called George) and her pet dog Timmy. The children are away at boarding school through term time but during the holidays they always spend time together and manage to get into all sorts of adventures, mainly because they are allowed to travel about and roam without any adult supervision. ===Brief Synopsis=== This is the fourteenth story in the series and was published in 1955. The story takes place during the last three weeks of the summer holidays when all the children are spending time together at Kirrin Cottage - George's home. The children plan on having a leisurely time together but their plans get spoilt through Uncle Quentin, George's father. He is a famous scientist and has been working with an American scientist on some very secret project. The American has been threatened that his daughter will be kidnapped to try and make him divulge his secrets. To thwart this the American's daughter has to stay at Kirrin Cottage - and also be in disguise. This messes up the Famous Five's plans - and George in particular is most annoyed. However Quentin and his wife have to leave the children to their own devices apart from the cook Joanna - and of course they get embroiled in more adventures. ===My Opinion=== This is Endi Blyton's 14th book in the Famous Five series and was published in 1955. The book begins with the three siblings staying with cousin George at Kirrin Cottage. Uncle Quentin then has a secret American visitor. The story starts leisurely with the children having a picnic on the beach - and having a whole fruit cake and sandwiches and Dick wondering why people would ever want to eat meals at a table. Evidence that these are definitely well-to-do children comes when you are told that Dick and Julian have been abroad for weeks while sister Anne had been away at camp - not a normal working class way to behave in the 1950s! The four children plan to enjoy themselves for the remaining three weeks of the school holiday - by going to Kirrin Island, fishing and exploring caves. But their peaceful existence is shattered when the American scientist makes a night time visit. His daughter has no mother and is being threatened with kidnap - so she is to be hidden at Kirrin Cottage for three weeks - by then the scheme will be launched and the scientist's secrets will be safe. The girl is called Berta and is to sleep in with Anne and George - and as if that was not bad enough - she has brought her dog - much to George's annoyance as her dog Timmy is supposed to be the only canine allowed in their house. To help protect the girl she is to have a different name, have her long hair cut off and dress like a boy - this infuriates George as she is the one who does that. George is always good at bickering with people. Aunt Fanny cuts Berta's hair and it seems she now looks more like a boy than George - just rubbing more salt into the wound. Julian again comes across as very grown up and mature in this story and Aunt Fanny can rely on him to keep the conversation going over mealtimes and avoid any awkward subjects. Berta's dog is a little poodle but lucky she gets on well with Timmy, George's dog. Another sign of their middle class ways is when they have a gong for breakfast - and a bell for lunch. As always Enid Blyton focuses a lot on what the children eat - and of course the children do relish their food. There is much humour when Berta has to have her hair chopped and George bickers about the little dog being there. George is especially annoyed when Timmy is called a mongrel. Berta s an only child like George and the observation is made that 'lonely people arn't as easy to get on with as others'. When Berta arrived she was said to be 'not our kind' as she was pale and with no tan and did not look like the sort of girl who would climb trees or row a boat. There is hilarity over Berta's American pronunciation of certain words - 'its TWENTY, not TWENY!!' Of course it is not long before Berta's name is changed to Lesley and with Aunt Fanny and Uncle Quentin having to go away the children are left with the friendly and homely cook Joanna. So now there are two girls looking like boys - Lesley and George. Once Quentin and Fanny have gone the children go to explore Kirrin Island, which is owned by George. The police are keeping on eye on the family because of the kidnap threat. But has someone already been there? Now with only Joanna about things really do speed up and the adventures really begin. There is a case of mistaken identity which is reminiscent of an earlier Famous Five story. Julian takes charge and even Dick gives the police a talking to - not bad for youngsters. Of course as the story progresses it is the children who find the clues and goes off on a night time adventure. They also meet up with someone form an earlier story who is of much help to them. Of course being a children's book you have to suspend reality. No person would go off with her husband while a child was left at home with a cook/housekeeper - especially when a kidnap was threatened. And poor Joanna, though the adult, often defers to Julian's opinions - so is portrayed as a working class person and so defers to her 'superiors' and is also quite shy and quiet in the presence of policemen who are authority figures. The story involves hidden clues and fairs and travelling out at night - all great things for an adventure. Of course the children bring the story to a satisfactory conclusion -and with not a hidden room or secret tunnel anywhere! This is a different sort of story but fast paced and exciting. The introduction of the American girl adds variety and shakes up the dynamics of the group a little. Julian provides a sensible and authoritarian figure that they all look up to. There are many editions of this story which can be purchased very cheaply or even listed to n Youtube. ===Star Rating=== 5 stars.

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                • Casdon Huggable Hetty / Soft Toy / 43 Readings / 42 Ratings
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                  27.02.2014 15:49
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                  Who knew a vacuum cleaner could be so cute?

                  ===The Product=== Soft and huggable Little Hetty. Made under licence from Numatic International Ltd for Casdon PLC. Made in China. Pale pink body with black plush hat, features and wheels. Suitable form 12 months. Hand was only. ===Cost=== Currently £4.99 on Amazon. Also available as a red 'Henry' Also a larger Huggable Hettie and Henry for £7.99 which is 8.5 inches tall.. Plus numerous other Hetty and Henry merchandise. 7 inches tall by 6 inches wide. ===My Opinion=== These little mini cleaners are a great gift if you also have the large full size versions at home. This Hetty toy is suitable from 12 months and has no loose parts at all. It is made form very soft plush type fabric in pink for the body and black for the hat, wheels and tip of the nose. The name 'Hetty' is embroidered onto the hat as are the large eyes with their long eye lashes and the cute smiling mouth. Very soft and tactile, this toy is very cuddly and squishy and great for little hands to hold and also to cuddle up with in bed. There is not a lot to hold on to but the wheels at the back are sewn on in such a way that it a good place for a child to grab hold of Hetty - otherwise her round fat body is hard to get hold of. Not the normal sort of thing you would think of when buying a cuddly toy but she is very cute and friendly with very large eyes and a large smiling mouth that a toddler could not fail to fall in love with. There is no problem that it is not machine washable as it can easily be either sponge cleaned or quickly hand washed with some baby shampoo or soap. The 'wheels' I mentioned are all made from fabric so it is lovely and soft for a toddler to cuddle - who ever would have thought a hoover would make a cute cuddly toy? I was lucky enough last year to catch this item when the price suddenly dropped on Amazon so I was able to buy two for £1.50 each which made great and inexpensive gifts - one for my little niece who loves cuddly toys and also the other as a quirky gift for son's girlfriend who just likes unusual and novelty presents - and you cannot get more novelty than this! Even though none of us have the full sized Hetty or Henry cleaners they were still nice little gifts and appreciated - and would be even more so by families that actually have the full sized products. I am not a huge fan of all the spin off products for different items but it does make things ell and children do like them. This is a well made little toy and looks so cute and friendly I am sure any toddler would love one. The Hettys I bought were classed as Little Huggable Hettys but you can buy others that are just called Huggable - they are slightly larger - but only by an inch or so so not really much difference. ===Star Rating=== 5 stars. ===Would I Recommend?=== Yes. ===Website=== www.casdon.com

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                    21.02.2014 19:24
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                    Lots of freedom and adventures around the Cornish Coast

                    ===Background=== The Famous Five are three siblings, a cousin and her pet dog. Julian is the eldest brother and takes charge of situations, Dick is a little younger while their little sister Anne is more immature and timid. During school holidays these three siblings spend time with their tomboy cousin Georgina (who insists on being called George) and her devoted pet dog Timmy - from which she is inseparable. The children have privileged backgrounds and all attend boarding schools - even the dog is allowed along. During the holidays they are allowed lots of freedom away from interfering adults and can roam the countryside and always end up in some sort of adventure. ===Brief Synopsis=== Once again we find we are in the school holidays and the five are allowed to take their bikes and go by train to Cornwall where they are booked in to stay at a remote farmhouse not far from the sea. Do they have the quiet uneventful holiday that Anne always wishes for - not likely! They have travelling folk arrive to give concerts in the barns and then get tangled up with mysterious lights and adventures. ===My Opinion=== This is Enid Blyton's 12th book in the Famous Five series and was published in 1953. The book begins with the children cycling towards the station - they have 7 minutes to catch the train. Luckily their luggage had been sent on ahead. The five are off to Cornwall. Weirdly I always imagine Kirrin Cottage as being on the rough Cornish coast but evidently I was wrong. The Cornish coast is described as being 'wild and lonely' - the railwayman says there are no piers or cinemas - 'good' says Julian. All the children want to do is bathe, go out on boats and ride their bikes. Julian states that 'adventures are off this time' - but of course we know different or there would be no story! It is four miles from the station to the farm and a little village is just one mile away. Enid once again describes the countryside beautifully and tells us of poppies and honeysuckle lined lanes. Stopping in the village for a break there are not even any ice creams. The children are called 'foreigners' - as they are not from Cornwall - though they did have a great great aunt from there apparently. As usual much is made of meals and food and of course they always have plenty of fruit cake. They find the farm where they are staying - and have a jolly farmer's wife who is very welcoming and give them enormous meals. It is an old farm house with just a cold tap. The children go down to visit the beach, which is rocky and has loads of caves. They find they are being followed by a dirty barefooted boy. Later the farmer's wife says this is a little orphan boy called Yan who lives with his great grandfather who is an old shepherd and they both live in a little hut. The children are told that soon the 'Barnies' will be arriving. Travelling entertainers who come round different farms and villages and put on performances. Life is peaceful to begin with - the children even walk across and attend church on Sunday morning - being followed by the little boy called Yan - he does not go into church but stays outside playing with Timmy the dog - much to George's annoyance. Preparing for lunch the children shell loads of peas - I wonder how many people do that these days? After lunch the children go across the hills to visit Yan's great grandfather. He is very old and can tell them tales of when his own father would set a light in a ruined tower on the coast to entice in unwary vessels so that they could be looted. There is even a path called the Wrecker's Way that the old smugglers used to use - but they are told that the location is a secret that is now lost and forgotten. Later the children are entertained when the Barnies arrive to stay - with Clopper - 'the funniest horse in the world'. There are some funny capers when the Barnies put on a show which provides an amusing interlude. We also see a mischievous and slightly disobedient side to Julian - which shows there is still the child in him - as often in these stories he is competent, dependable and sometimes quiet serious. As well as this part of the story there is the ruined tower to explore - are there really still lights to be seen on stormy nights - surely they stopped many years ago? Of course the children cannot leave such questions unanswered. Poor Yan, who does not go to school, seems quite a poor wretch who is always on the look out for some food from the children - but his habit of following them comes in useful towards the end of the story. Quite an interesting and fast paced story. The beginning is interesting as they go for cycle rides and explore the rocky beaches. They then have tales of wreckers and strange lights from the old grandfather. Fun and games happen when the Barnies arrive to put on shows and then the real adventures start. The lovely descriptions make you really imagine the rugged Cornish coast and the children staying in this isolated farm and having the beaches and ruined tower to explore. Lots of talk about tables laden with loads of food - the children certainly enjoyed their food! An exciting and interesting adventure and set in a different location and with a new hanger on in the form of Yan. Also a mysterious ruined tower to explore into the bargain. What more could the Famous Five want. The book is available in many editions and also as audio. You can even hear it on Youtube. ===Star Rating=== 5 stars.

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                      20.02.2014 22:08
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                      A cute pencil case that is quite retro.

                      ===The Product=== Lego Pencil Case. For 4+ years. 12 button plastic brick shape. Made in China by Funtastic Ltd. Imported and distributed by West Designs, Folkstone. Size - 1 inch deep with top of buttons being an extra quarter inch. Box is 8 inches by 2.75 inches. ===Cost=== Was £9 with Avon but I bought for £3.50 on the sale. Other colours available from Amazon for £7.99. ===My Opinion=== This is a charming Lego pencil case/box. It is made to resemble an actual Lego brick which has 12 buttons - each of which has 'Lego' written on them. Mine is a mid blue exclusive colour and was purchased from the Avon cosmetics catalogue. Avon sometimes sell licensed items and last Christmas they were selling some Lego items. The box is made from strong plastic which is not the cheap and brittle sort but strong and sturdy. It opens by a serrated thumb press catch which is strong and secure and fastens with a reassuring click. Being only half its depth when open means you cannot cram in lots of items like you could with fabric and zipped pencil cases. However this one is deceptively large as it can easily hold 15 pens or pencils. The box, being an official Lego item, comes very well packaged. It is sealed in cellophane and then has the yellow cardboard half covering it ad fastened around the buttons on the lid of the box. The box is also sealed in plastic inside the cellophane. The box is a great novelty and as well as adorning your desk for pens or other items would also suit anywhere really and just look like some retro ornament. I love quirky items like this. The are no dividers inside the box and therefore it can be used for pens, make up or any bits and pieces such as stamps or paper clips. The boxes sold by Avon only came in one colour but there are other colours on sale with Amazon such as the bright yellow one shown above. These are super cute for gifts and I got my sons one each - with some biros included - and they are both in their 20s. Lego had universal appeal and even grown ups have fond memories of these cute and colourful little bricks. I am just sorry that these cute items from Lego were not available years ago when my sons were youngsters. Quite expensive at full price, but then you would be paying for the novelty value. ===Star Rating=== 5 stars. ===Would I Recommend?=== Yes.

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                      • Tesco Value Caramel Wafers / Snacks / 33 Readings / 33 Ratings
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                        20.02.2014 18:19
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                        Inexpensive bars for a quick snack but not as flavoursome as some more expensive ones.

                        ===Now in Tesco Everyday Value packaging which is cream with purple writing and images=== ===The Product=== Tesco Everyday Value Caramel Wafers. 3 layers of wafer covered in milk chocolate. Individually wrapped bars are 1 x 3.75 inches - rippled chocolate on the top and sides and a smooth base. Pack contains five individual bars each being 17.8 grams. Each bar contains 90 calories and 8 grams of sugar. Contains no artificial preservatives, colours, flavours or hydrogenated fats. 'Now with 10% more chocolate.' Cream wrappers with purple writing and an image of the bars on the front. Bars inside are individually wrapped in cream paper with the purple writing and the 'Everyday Value' branding of images of mugs and teapots etc. Long shelf life - mine was until August 2014. Contains milk, wheat, gluten and soya. Suitable for Vegetarians. Produced in the UK for Tesco. ===Cost=== 40p for a pack of five. ===My Opinion=== I have not tried these bars before and do not regularly buy chocolate or biscuit bars but when I found these online for just 40p for five small bars I thought they were worth a try. The packaging is now different to the image above as Tesco have re-branded their 'Value' items and done away with the red, white and blue wrappers and now these bars come with cream and purple packaging - but it still looks and is easily identifiable as being the 'Value range. The bars are wrapped in packs of five and inside are also individually wrapped for carrying with you or lunch boxes etc. They are quite small but for the price you could not expect any more really. These have quite a thick layer of milk chocolate covering (47%) and this must be because of the extra 10% of chocolate which is highlighted on the packet. The wafer inside comes in three layers with a caramel layer sandwiching them together. the chocolate covering is good and thick and quite sweet. When bitten into the centre layers are quite chewing to pull apart - evidently the toffee like caramel filing - but this is a very thin layer and the taste of it is not really noticeable. The wafers are good and crisp as you would expect. These are reasonably decent wafer bars - quite all right to eat - they do not taste too cheap or look too bad when out of the wrappers. Nothing especially to distinguish it though and although sweet it does not really have any discernible special caramel flavours. Possibly I am being too critical as I think you have less expectations when buying a 'Value' product and I also tend to be more sceptical and critical of these products. I often do buy the Everyday Value products - some are really good and others not quite so good. These biscuits are quite edible and with no problems - and for 8p each you cannot grumble at all. They would be fine for children to eat - as they often wolf down bars like this without even tasting them. The bars do not have any artificial additives so they are not as bad as some bars on sale. Not something you would really say you loved or craved to have more of - but a cheap sugar fix if you want something small and sweet and inexpensive. ===Star Rating=== 4 stars. ===Would I Recommend?=== Yes. ===Website=== www.tesco.com ===Ingredients=== Milk Chocolate (47%), Caramel (34%), Wheat Flour, Soya Flour, Sugar, Sunflower Oil, Emulsifier (Soya Lecithins), Salt, Raising Agent (Sodium Bicarbonate), Cornflour, Milk Chocolate contains: Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Dried Skimmed Milk, Cocoa Mass, Milk Fat, Emulsifier (Soya Lecithins), Natural Flavouring, Caramel contains: Invert Sugar, Glucose Syrup, Vegetable Fat, Condensed Milk, Sugar, Emulsifier (Soya Lecithins), Salt, Milk Chocolate contains: Cocoa solids 20% minimum, Milk solids 20% minimum.

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                          19.02.2014 17:06
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                          Lovely shampoo but I don't think it actually straightens anything.

                          ===The Product=== Herbal Essence by Clairol. Seductively Straight Strengthening Shampoo. With Pink Lily Extract. For dry and damaged hair. 400 mls. Use within 12 months. Made by Proctor and Gamble UK. Comes in vivid bright pink semi transparent tall curved plastic bottle as above but now with a bright green flip open lid. Has an image of a lily on the bottom of the front label. 'Smooth your strands to a straight line and leave your hair with an intense lily scent.' ===Cost=== £3.79 full price at Tesco. Often on sale at half price for £1.89. ===My Opinion=== I bought this shampoo primarily for two reasons - firstly as I have straightish hair and I thought this might suit it and also because the bottle is so colourful and eye catching on the shelf. The tall vivid pink bottle definitely grabs my attention. Also being my favourite colour and on offer at half price I could not resist. The bottle is tall and slender and slightly curved. The now green top flips up by depressing one side and it is then easy to tip out the shampoo. It is useful to have a top like this as there are then no loose tops to get lost or fall on the floor. The shampoo itself is a glossy and sheeny pale pink. The smell is gorgeous - fresh and blossom like. When being used only a small amount of shampoo is needed - about the size of two or three peas - depending on how long your hair is. Mine is quite short so not much is needed. It lathers immediately and feels lovely and smooth and creamy when washing your hair. It rinses out easily and I only ever bother to wash once. It leaves my hair feeling soft and silky which is really good. Though I cannot say I have noticed it any straighter or better behaved. Also having short hair I cannot vouch for it retaining the lily smell - I doubt it - but the smell is lvely in the bathroom when it is being used. I like the pretty bottle in the bathroom and also the lovely smell and texture of this shampoo. It lathers up well and quickly and although looking a female type bottle my son has no problem using it as well - I don't think people these days have any qualms about using pink items at all. Definitely an enjoyable product to use and one that I wound to be quite happy to use again as it is good value when on offer at half price - which Tesco often seem to be doing. I was not disappointed with the results. I never tend to believe any of the marvellous claims made by shampoo manufactures these days anyway - to me a shampoo is just that - and not something that will magically transform your locks. ===Star Rating=== 4 stars. Lovely shampoo but I don't think it actually straightens anything. ===Would I Recommend?=== Yes. ===Website=== www.herbal-essences.co.uk ===Ingredients=== Aqua, Ammonium Laureth Sulfate, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Chloride, Glycol Distearate, Dimethicone, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Ammonium Xylenesulfonate, Cocamide MEA, Parfum, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Sodium Benzoate, Disodium EDTA, DMDM Hydantoin, Tetrasodium EDTA, Propylene Glycol, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Hydrolyzed Silk, Mel, Pyrus Pyrifolia Fruit Juice, Pyrus Bretschneideri Fruit Juice, Paraffinum Liquidum, CI 17200, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Potassium Sorbate.

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                          17.02.2014 16:43
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                          Inexpensive but found it bitter and not very pleasant

                          ===The Product=== Tesco Thick Cut Orange Shred Marmalade. 454 grams in a clear glass jar. Image of lots of oranges on the front (label has changed form the image above). Tamper proof button on the lid and a long shelf life until November 2015. Suitable for Vegetarians but cannot guarantee nut free. Refrigerate once opened and use within 6 weeks. Produced in UK for Tesco. Coloured with caramel. 1 tablespoon is 39 calories and 8.3 grams of sugar. ===Cost=== 59p per jar. ===My Opinion=== This is a different sort of Tesco marmalade that I have only just tried. I had already bought their Thin Cut marmalade which I quite enjoyed so thought I would get this Thick Cut version for a change. It comes in a standard shape jam jar and is a very dark orange colour verging on brown. The consistency is thick and not see-through. Inside the jar the marmalade is set and quite jelly like - interspersed with pieces of thick peel. I was disappointed as soon as I opened the lid as their was no orangy smell at all to this marmalade - not even when I put my nose down to it. Still I thought the proof is in the eating. I enjoy marmalade with toast and a cup of tea as a sweet little snack when I get a craving for a sweet item but do not want to have to eat chocolate or biscuits. The marmalade comes out of the jar easily and spreads well. Unfortunately that is about it. It did not really have much of a taste at all - and even the sweet element of the marmalade was overshadowed by a bitter taste and then after taste. Definitely not to my taste at all. I don't mind 'sharp' or tart' food but this just seemed bitter to me - and a sort of artificial bitter as well. I would not want to be finishing my jar at all - so have passed to my husband to see if he wanted to use it before I threw it out - as I would really prefer to have my toast on its own with a little butter and not use this at all. However the jar is still here and he has not bothered to use any yet - though he might eat it as he tends to be a human dustbin anyway. Definitely not for me and disappointing as the other Tesco marmalades are quite edible. ===Star Rating=== 2 stars. Bitter and not very orangy and not for me. ===Would I Recommend?=== No. ===Website=== www.tesco.com ===Ingredients=== Glucose-Fructose Syrup, Oranges, Sugar, Citric Acid, Gelling Agent (Pectin), Acidity Regulator (Sodium Citrate), Colour (Plain Caramel).

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                        • Simple Pure Soap / Soaps / 44 Readings / 43 Ratings
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                          15.02.2014 15:14
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                          Simple Soap - but still contains some dubious (to me) additives

                          ===The Product=== Plain and Simple soap. No perfumes or colouring. Comes in single, double or in four bar packets. Individually wrapped. White/creamy colour bars. Shelf life of 12 months. Pure soap for sensitive skins. Can cleanse and gently purify your face and body and suitable for all the family. Avoid eyes. Dermatologically tested and with no unnecessary ingredients. UK product. ===Cost=== Tesco - 2 bars £1.30 4 bars - currently half price at Tesco at £1.20 - normally £2.40 ===My Opinion=== I personally like using soap on my face and often buy different brands. I purchased this pack of four Simple soaps at Tesco - not because I have particularly sensitive skin but because they were on offer. The bars themselves are conventional average size tablets with the 'Simple' name on the bar and with a curve underneath signifying a smile. The soaps are individually wrapped and the packaging is white with green writing. The bars are creamy in colour and have only a very vague soap smell - and then only if you put the bar right up to your nose. I liked these soaps as they had a shorted list of ingredients than many others - and for me the fewer the ingredients the better - though I do like perfumed soaps as well. I was however a bit disappointed to still see some chemicals listed among the ingredients. I was surprised as how well this soap lathered and it felt quite creamy and rich - I had expected it to be rather a poor specimen and not have much lather. It worked well on my face and left my more mature skin feeling quite soft and supple - and not dry and taut as some soaps can do. I like using this soap for my face as it leaves it feeling more clean and fresh than just using make up remover on its own - and the fact that it does not contain excessive ingredients means it is kinder to my skin. Simple now do a whole range of skin care products as well as anitbacterial soaps but I just like these plain bars that just do their job quietly. In these days of things having huge long lists of chemicals in their make up it is nice to use something a little more basic and wholesome. ===Star Rating=== 4 stars. ===Would I Recommend?=== Yes. ===Website=== www.simple-barsoap.co.uk ===Ingredients=== Aqua, Etidronic Acid, Glycerin, Sodium Chloride, Sodium Cocoate, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Sodium Tallowate, Tetrasodium EDTA.

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                          • Tracker Bars / Snacks / 45 Readings / 45 Ratings
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                            14.02.2014 14:26
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                            Small individual bars to give you a quick lift

                            ===The Product=== Cereal Granola type bars. Individually wrapped. Sold singly or in a smaller size in boxes of 6. Individually wrapped to be able to carry with you when out and about. Comes in different varieties - roasted peanuts, chocolate chip or white chocolate chip. Suitable for Vegetarians and long shelf life - mine is until July 2014. Contains no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. Made by Mars. Marketed as being 'crunchy, gooey and chewy'. Comes foil wrapped and the boxes have images of animal tracks. The multi pack bars are 26 grams and approximately 126 calories each depending on the flavour. Made in three layers - an oat base with a layer of softer gooey filling and topped with more oats and nuts and chocolate chips. ===Cost=== I paid £1 a box recently at Tesco when they were on offer but they are now selling for the full price of £1.99. Single bars of 37 grams are on sale in Tesco for 60p so are larger than the 26 grams one sold in the multi box of 6 bars. ===Varieties=== Roasted Peanuts Chocolate Chips New - White Chocolate Chip. ===My Opinion=== I am not sure how long these Tracker bars have been on sales but to me it seems like a long time! I can remember buying these many years ago and they always provided a quick and tasty snack. I recently bought these when on offer for £1 a box which was a good bargain. However I was surprised at how small the bars were when the box was opened - about 1 inch by 3 inches. Each bar is individually foil wrapped and sealed so can be carried in you handbag - or as Mars states - your rucksack. These bars may be small but they do have the advantage over chocolate bars in that they do not melt. Actually when I have eaten one I do not feel that they are too small and they provided me with a tasty snack with a up of tea. I have been eating the Roasted Peanuts and Chocolate Chip varieties. Personally I prefer the peanut ones and they have more of a roasted taste and I was not that taken with the chocolate ones. The base is an oaty mixture and the centre is slightly softer - the topping layer depends on the flavour - one has lots of peanuts while the other has a scattering of chocolate chips (6.2%). I really enjoyed the peanut ones but at the full price of £2 for six small bars I think they are quite expensive. Also these cereal bars are not as healthy as they are sometimes marketed as they main ingredient is glucose syrup. If you want some really healthy bars it is better to make your own/ Great to eat for a quick snack but do not think you are having a healthy option - though I expect it would be better than a bar of chocolate. I have eaten own brand cereal bars which to my opinion are just as flavoursome and are slightly larger and much cheaper. Nothing wrong with these bars so long as you don't mind the sugar content - but they are the most well known brand and you are paying for that. ===Star Rating=== 4 stars. Nice tasting but smallish and expensive if not on offer. ===Would I Recommend?=== Yes. ===Website=== www.tracker-bar.co.uk

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                            • Kellogg's Variety Pack / Breakfast / 33 Readings / 33 Ratings
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                              13.02.2014 13:58
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                              Eight individual cute boxes of cereal

                              ===The Product=== Kellogg's Variety Pack. Eight boxes of cereal. Cellophane wrapped and in individual little boxes 4 x 1.5 x 2.75 inches. Long shelf life - mine was until January 2015. Suitable for vegetarians, Kosher and Halal HFA approved. Added vitamins. ===Cost=== I recently paid £1 at Tesco as it was on special offer but the usual price is £2.09. ===My Opinion=== This selection contained: 1 box of Cornflakes 17 grams and 64 calories This is the normal Kelloggs Corn Flakes and the box has a word puzzle on the back and a name game on the side. The normal and golden flakes of corn - a nice tasting cereal that we all know. 2 boxes of Coco Pops 30 grams and 116 calories each Chocolate coated rice. The box has a guessing game on the side and a maze on the back. These are chocolate Rice Crispies - not one of my favourites as I do not like chocolate mixed with cereal - but good if you do - my son soon gobbled these two up. 2 boxes of Frosties 25 grams and 94 calories each Sugar frosted flakes of corn. There is a matching game on the back and a shadow game on the side. Frosties are definitely frosted with sweetness and do not need any sugar added. Not really too sickly for me but I could easily mix these with plain cornflakes to tone down the sugaryness. 1 box of Rice Crispies 20 grams and 77 calories A miniature version of the well known normal box of toasted rice cereal and with a matching game on the back of the box. An old favourite and they definitely do 'Snap, Crackle and Pop'. A well loved cereal that is not too sweet. 1 box of Rice Crispie Multi Grain 23 grams and 87 calories Wholegrain and high in fibre cereal. Comes in four shapes - fish, star tree and man. Has a guessing game on the side and a shape game on the back. These were new to me and very tasty. Actually I did not even bother adding milk to these but ate them as they were as a tasty snack - nice for children as the shapes are cute and is made from multi grains. 1 box of Honey Hoops 20 grams and 76 calories Sugar and honey coated multi grain loops. Wholegrain and high in fibre. Comes with game on the same packet the same as on the Frosties. Had not tried these before and they are cute little loops the size of spaghetti hoops. Sweet and tasty but I could not detect any honey flavour - again I ate these without milk as a snack food. I can remember having these Variety packs as a child and the novelty of having all the small individual little boxes. I am not sure how long Kelloggs have been producing these Variety paks but hey were around in the 1960s when I was a youngster. Of course this is a wasteful way of purchasing cereal - both from a packaging and price point of view. In total you get about 190 grams of cereal which is not much for the price. You could buy a 340 gram box of Rice Crispies for the same price - almost double the size of the total contents. However this I think is a treat sort of cereal and I know it was never a regular purchase for my sons but something we bought occasionally as a novelty and a treat. The cereals come in mini boxes of the large versions and inside the boxes the cereal is well sealed in plastic bags. These boxes are fun and also good if you are going on holiday or travelling as they are one portion sizes so nothing should get spilt. You do not get a lot in a box but an adequate amount for a child - they even sufficient for me for a snack. It is a lovely to have a little box of cereal all to yourself and fun to have to puzzles on each box. A great way to encourage your chld to maybe have breakfast if they are a picky eater - its worth the extra expense if it means they eat breakfast for a change. Its a shame to have two lots of repeat boxes - Frosties and Coco Pops in my selection - I do not know if they vary this duplication or not. I enjoyed my Variety boxes and will now be wrapping up the empty boxes in shiny ink paper to help decorate my candy pink tree for Christmas! ===Star Rating=== 4 stars. Wasteful packaging and expensive - but the little boxes are a part of the charm. ===Would I Recommend?=== Yes.

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