GIFTED: Don’t you find that the older your family gets, the more difficult it is to find the perfect present? Caitlin and Ieuan are generally happy with gift cards or anything digital, whilst the husband, much like my dad, has taken to saying “I have everything I need”.
Which is true. But ….
The thing about giving gifts is just as much about making the giver feel good too. And, it definitely makes me feel good if I don’t have to schlep around town getting hot and bothered trying to find something which will just end up in a drawer – or regifted.
Father’s Day is on the horizon (Sunday 6 June) and then there are end of term teacher’s gifts to consider, as well as the usual run of birthdays.
We were recently offered the chance to review family-run business The Gift Experience – an online gift shop offering gifts for almost any occasion you can think of, including personalised gifts.
You can search the site according to the occasion, or the person as you might expect but you will also find children’s books, experience days and personalised cards. Just about everything on one website.
These are the gifts I chose (resisting the urge to treat myself).
Tempted as I am to get Mat more socks, he’ll only accuse me of stealing them. You can never have too many socks in my opinion and that’s the risk you run if you marry someone with a similar shoe size. A better choice is this very large jar of retro sweets.
I can still remember when you could buy 4 Fruit Salad or Black Jacks for a penny. and you may find some of these in this jar (contents vary). I’m am talking about the early ’70s though when Creme Eggs were the size of a real egg and a Wagon Wheel was the size of your head.
Other fond memories include love hearts, parma violets, cola bottles, space candy and sherbet lollies. There’s even a packet of Candy Canes which the slightly older of you will remember used to be sold as candy cigarettes. How times have changed!
Nestled beneath these treats are mixed packets of sweets such as dolly mixture, jelly babies and cola cubes.
The label on the front can be personalised with the name of the recipient or, preferably with the words “Keep Out – They’re Mine”.
This is a very generous selection and Mat has promised to share them, although strangely I’ve no idea where he’s put the jar now.
Motivational Statement Bracelet
These are all the rage at the moment and I’ve been looking for the perfect one for Caitlin for ages.
The If You Dream It, You Can Achieve It Bracelet is a beautifully made silver plated bracelet with this inspiring statement engraved on it. Cleverly, the statement is repeated so that the words can be seen on the front and the back of the bracelet.
It would be perfect as a graduation gift but I chose it for Caitlin to boost her confidence for this year’s National Tests in school.
The bracelet comes inside a lilac coloured box with a small silver coloured plaque that can be inscribed with a short message or name of your choice.
Caitlin absolutely adores it – and despite its modest price point (RRP £24.99), it looks a far more expensive item.
The Gift Experience offer a gift wrapping service too to save you even more time and express delivery is available should you need a gift in a hurry.
We were really impressed with the quality of the items we received – and the personalisation was spot on too.
One of the big challenges for my generation is balancing childcare with the needs of our elderly parents.
It’s easy to find yourself pulled from pillar to post and, if your parents are still mobile and living independently, you may find yourself making numerous unscheduled trips to check that they are OK or to help with chores and tasks they are no longer able to do for themselves.
Generally, we all get by, don’t we – until the point at which illness or a long-term medical condition enters the picture.
When that happens, your parent may experience a loss of independence and rely on you more for help and contact with the outside world.
Nobody wants to put their parents into a home or few have the funds to move immediately into sheltered accommodation.
But there are times when, with the best will in the world, you can’t be there or rather, you can’t get there quick enough.
Similarly, if one parent is in the role of carer to the other, their own personal freedom is likely to be vastly curtailed and they won’t want to venture far on their own in case something happens to their beloved partner.
My parents have been married for 56 years and are now both in their 80s with a variety of health conditions between them.
Last year, mum fell and broke her hip. She has made a full recovery but her mobility has been affected and she is not as speedy on her feet as she once was. She also suffers from temporal lobe epilepsy which generally gives her mild seizures but, on occasion, these are large, lengthy and severe enough to require hospitalisation.
It’s fair to say that the family copes as best it can from the different parts of the country in which we are situated – and I’ll bet our family set-up is replicated right across the country.
The Welbeing Personal Alarm Service
We have been trialling the Welbeing Personal Alarm Service which is a quick and simple way of getting help at the touch of a button in case of accident or emergency at home.
Welbeing is a Doro company so you can expect simple to understand and user-friendly technology.
The service offers 24 hour, 365-day a year monitoring to allow independent living to continue as long as possible. The service costs from £15.96 per month.
Who is the service designed for?
The service is not just for the elderly. It is designed to offer reassurance and immediate assistance to anyone living alone – whether they are suffering from medical conditions such as dementia or heart disease, a long-term condition or are just vulnerable and worried about safety and security.
The service can even help those suffering from epilepsy if their seizures are of the tonic clonic type.
How does it work?
The actual alarm is a piece of wearable technology which connects to an alarm unit linked to your home telephone landline.
The alarm comes in the form of a pendant which can be worn around your wrist or neck.
With the touch of a button, the wearer is able to contact a call centre with trained staff who will talk to you via the alarm unit.
The alarm unit is similar conference call technology where at two-way conversation can be held without needing a phone handset.
The operator will then contact either a designated family member (a keyholder) on their mobile or the emergency services – depending on the circumstances.
Setting up the pendant was incredibly easy. You complete a basic sign-up form explaining who the user is, their general medical requirements and who will be the emergency contacts.
There are no intrusive questions to answer – just a general outline of the types of medical condition that the emergency services or the family doctor would need to know about.
Once you have completed the form, you receive your alarm unit and your pendant.
You will need to complete the direct debit form as the pendant is paid for on a monthly subscription of £15.95 per month and return it to Welbeing.
The alarm unit plugs into an electrical socket and a landline telephone socket. All the cables you’ll require are supplied in the neat little box. There’s a full instruction booklet that is easy to understand.
You can connect the box to a landline or also to your home WiFi but as I’ve never managed to persuade dad to get this, a landline was the only choice!
Then you press the button on top of the unit to connect to the call centre so that they can do a test call.
Extra services are available at an additional cost. For example, the alarm unit can work with a range of wireless sensors in the home to detect gas, smoke, flood or a person falling. You can even have a local audible alarm – in addition to alerting the key holder or emergency services.
For the purpose of our trial, however, we just tested the basic service and the response aspect of the pendant.
The pendant itself is a simple oblong unit with a push button which, when pushed, telephones the call centre remotely from up to 150m away.
It can be worn via a belt clip, around the wrist or around the neck and you simply slot the relevant pieces supplied into the pendant.
The unit is solid and functional to withstand daily wear and tear and it has a large central button for the wearer to press quickly and easily.
Mum’s type of epilepsy cannot be identified by the sensors offered as part of an additional service offered by Welbeing mentioned above and we focused our trial on mobility issues such as slips, trips and falls.
How it works in practice
My parents’ house is topsy-turvy in that the bedrooms are downstairs and the living rooms upstairs. It was considered all the rage in the ’70s.
As an example of how the personal alarm service works, we asked mum to push the button from her bedroom downstairs and, reassuringly, the operator rang mum’s landline 5 times whilst calling her name via the loudspeaker.
This particular test was carried out around midday on Easter Sunday.
The speaker volume, incidentally, is very loud – as it needs to be – but you can ask for it to be reduced somewhat. Welbeing also advises that you don’t place the alarm unit right next to the telephone as this may result in high pitched interference.
We obviously explained that mum was fine and the operator explained that if, after 4 or 5 attempts to contact mum direct there was no response, she would escalate the call to the first emergency contact (me) and, if she couldn’t reach me, would telephone the emergency services.
It is important that whoever is the designated emergency contact has keys to the house on them at all times.
The operator, a lady, had a lovely soothing voice and was very gentle in her approach. Important if someone is scared or in distress.
Aside from the practical aspect of knowing that, if dad or I leave the house, mum can contact us at the push of a button, the reassurance that the Welbeing Personal Alarm Service gives both wearer and their carers or family members is considerable.
When you are caring for a loved one you are never entirely off duty which is not necessarily a good thing for the health and stress levels of the one in the role of carer.
And, in the event that the emergency services are needed, the call centre will be able to at least give some guidance as to the other medical conditions the wearer may suffer.
We thought the Welbeing Personal Alarm Service was a brilliant idea for relieving the anxiety and stress often experienced by both wearer and the people who care for them.
Having help on hand at the touch of the button is particularly freeing for carers like my dad who can do their daily errands without feeling as if they have to rush back in case something has happened.
I think the system would work to optimum effectiveness, however, with the input of the wearer’s GP and/or medical team particularly if the wearer suffers from different medical conditions and is treated under different consultants.
Mum’s particular medical conditions are too complex to rely solely on the personal alarm for the simple reason that some of these are unpredictable and happen out of the blue.
That said, for most of the time, we found her wearing of the pendant was a massive weight off our minds.
I felt the monthly subscription fee was reasonable and I think you have to adopt a pragmatic approach to caring for your elderly relatives. There will be costs involved to ensure that independent living can continue for as long as possible in terms of all sorts of mobility aids.
Personally, I would prefer to keep going along this route for as long as possible so that mum and dad can stay together in our family home.
For more information on the Welbeing Personal Alarm service visit www.welbeing.org.uk. You can also call them on 01323 644422 or email them at email@example.com. You can connect with them on Facebook @dorocare and on Twitter @wel_being.
GIFTED: Move over Barbie because the #SNAPSTAR dolls are in town and they are taking no prisoners when it comes to their talents, looks or influencing skills. These girls would probably have given Ken the big heave-ho ages ago and sold the pony.
Thanks to Yulu toys, Caitlin has three new gal pals who you’ll find at Smyths Toystore from 20th May.
#SNAPSTAR is described as “an immersive world of fashion, beauty, music, photography and design where our squad of six influencer dolls define what’s next and aspirational”.
We were sent Lola, Dawn and Yuki but the squad also comprises Aspen, Izzy and Echo. Each doll has a unique style and what sets them apart from the dolls I grew up with (and cut the hair off), you can change their hair and makeup and then post their looks to the #SNAPSTAR Studio app – or wherever you like.
The #SNAPSTAR Studio app is free to download and allows kids to style and customize their SNAPSTAR’s hair, make-up, eye colour and shape, accessories and background scene!
So you can play around with their looks some more on the app once you have created your look on the doll itself.
Each doll has different passions, such as the environment, travelling and kindness!
Dawn is a high-powered, high-fashion diva who only settles for the best and when she isn’t playing dress-up, she likes to rub elbows with the celebs at the most exclusive events.
Lola is a ball of positive energy who sees the best in everyone and the beauty in everything. She makes everyone around her feel great and want to be their best selves.
Lastly, Yuki is a feisty chick who marches to her own beat. She’s a music enthusiast and is often booked for DJing parties all over town.
Each doll is 25 cm high with 15 points of articulation which allows them to strike lots of different poses. They have inserted glass-like eyes and changeable hairstyles.
Our dolls came with a bag and mini mobile phone and in the box there was a self-assembly cardboard ‘green screen’ and a simple plastic stand to allow the dolls to be posed and to stand up.
The stand simply clips into a tiny hole at the back of each doll’s neck and the purpose of the screen is to help the photographic definition when using the #SNAPSTAR Studio app.
I thought the combination of a doll with simple technology added an extra dimension to these toys. The only slight negative, for me, is that the focus is solely based around the ‘influencer lifestyle’ which, as a blogger, I can attest certainly isn’t all parties and posing!
There is also an assumption that the kids will have access to a mobile phone and social media platforms which, although the age for having an account on these platforms is 13, is frequently ignored by parents across the land. Caitlin has a mobile, however, she currently only uses TikTok.
It is, of course, entirely possible to enjoy playing dressing up with the dolls without the #SNAPSTAR Studio app but the age range for these products is ages 5 – 11. At the very least parental supervision will be required with the app.
I think there’s a huge opportunity here for Yulu to add an educational element to the dolls, for example as has been done with Project Mc2 and their STEM focus. I would like to have seen a little less emphasis on looks, although there are some strong key messages here – for example, the importance of kindness and being your own person.
All that aside, the dolls are well made, attractive and whilst their outfits are rather flimsy, the ‘SNAPSTAR Squad are far more current than their rivals.
Check out the range of #SNAPSTAR dolls at Smyths Toys. Current RRP £17.99 per doll and the new squad are available to pre-order online.
Car maintenance is one of those things which seems to be only carried out with any regularity by petrol heads or service mechanics. In the past, I used to religiously check tyre pressure and top up the oil and water levels on my bright orange Golf GTi or the Ford Fiestas I inherited from dad. In those days this meant wrestling with a foot pump, not the somewhat more sophisticated type of car tyre inflator available today.
Checking tyre pressure is particularly essential before embarking on a long car journey or after periods of extreme weather conditions which may cause the pressure to rise or fall.
Tyre pressure, after all, affects the control of your car, its steering and your overall safety.
Overinflate them, and your tyres are more likely to be damaged by potholes on the road and may even explode.
If your tyres are underinflated, not only will you have a bumpy, uncomfortable ride, but you’ll reduce control of your vehicle and reduce the life of your tyres by as much as 25%.
You’ll find the correct tyre pressure for your tyres (in PSI, pounds per square inch) either on the driver’s door jamb or inside the owner’s manual. If you are still unsure, ask at your local garage or phone the dealer.
I was recently sent the RTC1000 Rapid Digital Tyre Inflator to review and I must confess I had to remind myself how to use one. I’ve got into the bad habit of relying on a tyre check during my Skoda Roomster’s regular service visits which means trusting to luck the rest of the time. Not good!
This tyre inflator comes in a compact black zip-up carry case and is an ideal size to pop in your boot without adding to the clutter already in there.
It’s a neat piece of kit which is very easy to use. It has a standard 12v plug to go into your vehicle’s power socket and a generous 3.5m cable. Both the cable and the air hose are stored neatly at the back of the unit.
There are several nice touches too. The travel case contains a set of spare tyre valves and some disposable gloves to keep your hands clean.
The valve which connects to the tyre is made of good quality brass which allows you to deflate, as well as inflate the tyre if you overdo it.
I particularly like that the RTC1000 has an LED light for operating the pump at night and, most impressive of all, the unit can inflate a car tyre in two minutes. While I didn’t time this claim, the speed with which my tyres were inflated gave no grounds to dispute this at all.
The correct tyre pressure for my Skoda is 32 PSI. All you do is set the required pressure, hit the big grey button and let the unit do its thing.
It’s quick, simple to use and easily portable. Price wise it retails around £50, and you’ll find it at stockists such as Amazon and Screwfix.
For a non-mechanically minded driver like me, it’s perfect, and it even comes with a three-piece adaptor kit for bicycle tyres, balls and other inflatables.
11 is an interesting age, isn’t it? As tweens, our daughters are often a capricious mix of tweenager and little girl so it is great to find a range of gorgeous party and occasion dresses which allow them to feel grown up whilst still looking like the spirited young girls they truly are. David Charles Childrenswear is just such a range and we were recently gifted the gorgeous Red Ruffle Party Gown from the David Charles Spring / Summer collection for Caitlin to try.
An iconic British brand, David Charles Childrenswear has been making luxury party dresses, occasionwear and accessories for girls aged 2-16 since the 1970s.
You’ll find their designer dresses in stores such as Harrods and Saks 5th Avenue and their clientele include celebrities and even royalty.
Caitlin’s dress arrived beautifully packaged and the fit was perfect. We chose a dress in size age 12. I was particularly impressed by how well made the dress is, as you might expect for a designer price tag.
The Red Ruffle Party Gown is an off-the-shoulder dress in a vibrant red with Bardot shoulder details for added chic in an on-trend A-line cut.
The elasticated straps are wide enough to stay on comfortably and the concealed back zip is sturdy. The attention to detail is excellent.
As well as girls’ party dresses, you’ll find dresses for all occasions, such as prom dresses, bridesmaid dresses and outfits for flower girls. It’s often difficult to find these on the high street and the designs you’ll find at David Charles are really pretty and unique enough to let your little girl really stand out.
Caitlin is always happy to pose but only if she really likes what she’s wearing – and she certainly loved her new dress.
Then it was off to Cote Brasserie for some lunch (under strict instructions that she remember her serviette!).
Then it was off to Wales Millennium Centre which has a great open area and a stage where Caitlin will be singing to the public with her school in a couple of weeks’ time. You’ll also find a couple of good coffee shops and a gift shop, as well as, of course, a ticket office to book for all the forthcoming fabulous shows.
We were really impressed with our dress from David Charles Childrenswear. At £199 the Red Ruffle Party Gown has a higher price point than you would expect to pay on the high street but, in my opinion, the price is reasonable given the quality and tailoring – and the element of exclusivity you wouldn’t get if you bought from Next for example.
I always assess value on a cost per wear basis and this is a dress that Caitlin will easily get a year’s wear out of. It works as well with a pair of sparkly sandals and a shrug as it does with Caitlin’s beloved Converse and a biker jacket.
If you are watching the pennies, it’s worth noting that David Charles offers items on sale where you can bag a bargain with reductions of up to 80% on girls designer dresses at the end of the season.
If you have a special party or event coming up, I really recommend a visit to David Charles Childrenswear.
There’s always one, isn’t there. The player in any family game who knows all the answers – or thinks they do. If you’ve ever played Trivial Pursuit against someone who is fiercely competitive, you’ll know that they can practically implode if they don’t get a chance to answer.
Which is why Tactic Games have come up iKnow Family Quiz – a brilliant way to, um, diffuse the situation with a quiz game where you bet on the likelihood of your nearest and dearest knowing the right answer to win ‘chips’ or points.
There are four categories of question to choose from: – Sport, Entertainment, Science & Nature and The 2000s and the questions are multiple choice – A, B, C or D so even if you don’t know the answer you can have a good guess – handy for the younger players.
Load the question cards up in the iKnow box, allocate 3 chips to everyone (up to 6 players) to get going and then take turns to choose a category and answer the question.
It’s particularly good because, unlike Trivial Pursuit which can go on for hours, you can have a ‘normal game’ or simply choose fewer cards for a short game which could last around 15-20 minutes.
You need to answer your questions correctly, bet on whether the others know the answers to theirs and steal points by outsmarting them. The player with the most point wins. It’s an ideal after-dinner game for Christmas!
To give you a couple of examples of the questions:-
What did people collect money for by performing the ‘ice bucket challenge’?
A ALS research B Child poverty C Victims of Hurricane Harvey D Cancer Research
Which country has won the most gold medals in sailing in the Olympics?
A United States B Great Britain C Norway D Spain
Answers at the end of this post!
iKnow Family Quiz is suitable for players age 12+ and can be found on Amazon. We love it because everyone can join in and it makes a refreshing change from the kids’ gadgets and gizmos.
It would also be great fun for the grown-ups with a festive tipple of something once the kids have finally gone to bed.
The ice bucket challenge was for the victims of Hurricane Harvey
If, like me, you are facing the festive season with something like mild dread at the thought of everything you have to do, you might find your energy levels seriously depleted. It may be time to consider boosting your diet with an energy supplement such as Pharmaton.
Those of us who juggle the needs of kids, elderly parents and our own health challenges may well be excused for wanting to lie down under a duvet and wait until January 1st.
Readers of this blog will know that I am constantly searching for natural ways to boost my energy levels and deal with my ailments because, as a tinnitus sufferer, I have to be careful about what I take or I risk a tinnitus spike. It’s too easy to reach for medication or to self-medicate in various unhealthy ways, isn’t it?
I have recently been sent a multivitamin and mineral supplement called Pharmaton Vitality which is an energy supplement containing Ginseng G115, vitamins A, B group, C, D, E, Folic Acid, Biotin and minerals Iron, Calcium, Copper, Magnesium, Zinc and Selenium.
Pharmaton Vitality Capsules are designed to provide a temporary energy boost to get you through challenging periods where your immune system might not be functioning at its best. Coping with fatigue on a daily basis is enough to suck the pleasure out of most things and makes enjoying life very difficult in my experience.
You simply take one Pharmaton Vitality Capsule a day with food for the first 4 weeks. Then if you are feeling better, you can continue to take them for up to 12 weeks. If you are not feeling better after 4 weeks or if you still aren’t 100% after 12 weeks then you should see your GP.
The Ginseng G115 combines with the other vitamins and minerals to enhance mental and physical performance to give you the extra oomph you need to get you through to bedtime.
I’ve been trying Pharmaton Vitality capsules for the last 4 weeks and have to say that I do feel much perkier for it. That dragging tired feeling has definitely lifted.
It is important to remember, of course, that you need to improve your overall standard of nutrition and your water take, as well as prioritising sleep and self-care during periods of stress and fatigue.
You may well know what is causing your daily fatigue. It’s no surprise that mums and dads wrestling with little ones’ sleeping habits, those who work antisocial hours and those burning the midnight oil to study will be feeling tired.
Sometimes though, fatigue creeps up on us and this could be due to low iron levels or the cumulative effect of poor food choices, too much alcohol or even stress due to heavy workloads or a relationship crisis.
Taking an energy supplement such as Pharmaton Vitality is a good way to redress the balance of vitamins and minerals in your body whilst you implement a ‘feel better fast’ plan and put your self-care first.
It doesn’t have to cost a fortune but if you are feeling under the weather you are more likely to fall prey to more serious illnesses so it makes sense to carve out some time for you.
Your feel better fast plan
Get an early night (or two)
We tell our kids this all the time – you’re tired and stroppy and you need an early night. But how often do we put ourselves to bed before midnight? Netflix will still be there in the morning.
Track your water intake
How many days a week do you drink the required amount of water for an adult? You should be drinking 8 eight-ounce glasses of water a day. Set alarms on your phone if you need to, to remind you it’s time to rehydrate.
Cut the booze
Alcohol dehydrates and destroys important vitamins in the body, particularly the B-complex vitamins and we all know that we are supposed to be drinking no more than 14 units of alcohol a week (for example 7 175ml glasses of wine a week).
Your doctor won’t recommend this but, personally, in times of stress, I find a glass of wine with dinner to be perfectly manageable. The trick is stopping at one.
Get more fruit and veg in you
This is all stuff your mother probably told you but it doesn’t matter how many times I tell my kids they ignore me so, on that basis …..
Try just adding 2 pieces of fruit a day – one for breakfast, one as a snack. See where you can add in extra veg to a meal. Or, do what the French do and make yourself a small side salad as a starter.
If you have a blender why not whisk up some simple smoothies (banana, strawberry and milk is a favourite with the kids) or some green juice which you can take to work with you if you’re rushed.
And you don’t need me to tell you that a baked potato with beans is far better for you than the 2000 calories lurking in a takeaway fish supper.
Go for a 30-minute walk a day
I think the trick with exercise is to pick something you know you can do without it adding to your list of things to do and making you more stressed. A 30-minute walk at lunchtime to get some valuable fresh air and to boost your vitamin D levels with some sun will really help.
Am I going to tell you to ‘hit the gym’? My readers know me better than that!
Meet up with a friend
Loneliness can be a killer and we all know that a trouble shared is, hopefully, a trouble halved. Talking to a good friend is very therapeutic and if you pick the right person to talk to, you’ll get an objective overview of your situation and the type of advice you really need to hear (and have probably been ignoring from everyone else).
Get it all down on paper
Journalling is enormously popular but it requires discipline and consistency. That said, it’s easy enough to get a nice notebook and just write down everything that is bothering you.
You’ll soon notice recurring themes, situations or people and that clarity will help you to step back a bit and work out how to solve the problem.
Do you need professional advice? A new job? A relationship counsellor? More help around the house? All of the above!
Prioritise the help you need
When you’ve done that make a list of the immediate next steps you are going to put in place, together with the people you need to make that happen.
Diarise these action steps and commit to carrying them out. Make them small enough to not add to your stress but to make you feel relieved that you’ve finally carried them out.
It might be something as simple as clearing out the spare room or booking the car in for a service. I’ve been meaning to take the kids for passport photos and to get them re-registered since I married after having them. Let too many of these accumulate and they’ll soon start to weigh you down!
So there you have it. You’ve nothing to lose by giving these things a go and, in the meantime, why not give Pharmaton Vitality Capsules a try?
What are the things that contribute most to your daily fatigue? Let me know in the comments below.
They are colour changing, cool to touch lights in a range of hit characters from the iconic movies, adding a moody glow across the bedroom. Best of all they are child safe too.
Ieuan loved his Storm Trooper illumi-mates light and was thrilled to receive another three Star Wars favourites to add to his collection – Darth Vader, the Millennium Falcon and the Death Star. (Chewbacca and Kylo-Ren are available too).
Each light is battery operated, with batteries supplied. RRP: £7.99 from a variety of stockists including Amazon, ASDA, B&Q, Debenhams, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Wilkinson.
What a fabulous Christmas present for any Star Wars fan!
When I was young, we’d gather around the TV every Sunday night and watch Ski Sunday. I was always fascinated by the bravery of those attempting the ski jump – remember Eddie The Eagle? Needless to say, I’m not brave enough to attempt it but this version I might. Drumond Park has launched their Super Ski Jump tabletop game (rrp £19.99, age 8+).
Super Ski Jump is a game for 2-4 players over 3 thrilling rounds – and the aim of the game is to send your skiing character flying down the sizeable ski ramp to score the most points by doing tricks and nailing the perfect landing!
Players take it in turns to jump once in each round, choosing which of the four characters and the playing piece (Sledge, Bath Tub, Snowboard, Skis) they would like to use. Once you’ve assembled and set up the ski jump ramp, you’re ready to go – although if you’re a competitive soul, you’ll want to have a practice session first.
The youngest player goes first – placing his or her character at the top of the ramp, and adjusting the height of the ski ramp to one of the three different levels. To start your jump, turn the wheel to send your character whizzing down the ramp. Now for the skilful part … press down on the lever to raise the lower part of the ramp and send your character off into the air!
Make sure you watch your jump closely to count the number of flips and the style of landing. When you’ve finished your jump, count the points based on which playing piece you chose, how many flips you managed and how you landed. Mark your points on the scorecard and it’s on to the next player.
Repeat the process for all players over the three rounds to complete the game. At the end of the final round, the players are ranked based on their single highest scoring jump, and of course, the winner is the player with the highest score!
If any two players have the same highest score, they must enter into a nail-biting ‘Jump Off’ competition against each other – with a single jump to determine who is the overall Champion this time round!
There are some nifty hints and tips included in the instruction sheet, with additional scorecards available to download online at www.drumondpark.com/superskijump
For example – why not try capturing your amazing, acrobatic ski jump feats on your phone (maybe even in slo-mo!)… and while you’re at it, you can also upload videos to social media using #superskijump!
Super Ski Jump is the ultimate trick challenge that’s set to have everyone hitting the slopes this Autumn – jumping, flipping and landing as skilfully as they can.
Perfecting your technique and gaining points is fabulous, addictive fun – and guaranteed to keep everyone entertained for hours!
Much as I love autumn and the gorgeous hues that nature chooses to display outdoors at every turn, it’s often a challenge to bring the same warmth and colour indoors.
At the moment, of course, devotees of viral Instagram cleaning sensation Mrs Hinch are all busy creating restful interiors in shades of grey (far more tasteful than 50 shades though…), which is lovely but a little too calming for those of us who need colour and light to perk us up.
I love the Hygge ethos too – the Danish concept of adding cosiness at every turn and as well as candles, soft lighting and faux fur cushions and throws, I always find that a beautiful bouquet of flowers gives that extra special touch.
Bloom Magic is the online flower delivery company from Dublin who are now sending their gorgeous bouquets across the UK and I was lucky enough to receive one such arrangement of flowers called La Vue Du Sacre Coeur, from the Parisian Hatbox Collection.
All named after landmarks in the City of Light, or romantic French phrases, this is a gorgeous collection of flowers all of which mix the beauty of roses with complementary blooms.
Mine features Roses, Carnations, Bouvardia, Hypericum and Gerbera and the flowers are chosen by Bloom Magic’s designers to ensure the highest quality.
The hatbox is a really unusual way of displaying flowers because you can simply remove the packaging, add water and the supplied plant food to the waterproof inlay of the hatbox, snip the stems slightly and display the flowers within.
Then all you need to do is replace the water every three days or so and trim the stems again.
If you are giving Hatbox Flowers, there’s the added benefit that you don’t have to worry about your recipient having a vase but, being a more traditional girl, I prefer to use one for extra height so my bouquet was popped straight into one and put in pride of place in our lounge where they have been casting shades of pink, cream, red and purple for the past 7 days.
You can choose from 3 sizes of floral display, Standard, Premium or Deluxe and there are four pretty shades of hatbox to choose from – Blush Pink, Powder Blue, Sparkling White and, of course, Charcoal Grey. (My bouquet is the Deluxe size and the hatbox is Blush Pink).
You need to order by 6 pm for free next-day flower delivery and there’s free delivery at weekends too.
You can select the date of delivery and book a delivery weeks in advance which is very handy if you are organising Christmas flowers either for your table or as gifts.
I promise myself every single year that I am going to have all my Christmas shopping sorted by the 1st December and I’ve never done it yet but flowers are such a welcome gift that at least I can get a couple of presents under my belt.
These are really chic flowers which add a special elegance to a room – and a welcome reminder that sunny days will be back, eventually.
GIFTED: Kids love collectables, don’t they? And having survived the onslaught of Shopkins and Cupcake Surprises, we recently discovered that we’d missed out on the first season of Zuru SMASHERS from the award-winning toy company.
We were sent some Zuru SMASHERS from the second series, each of which contains a disgusting surprise inside…. various revolting creatures! These SMASHERS come in the shape of an eyeball, just right for Halloween.
There are over 100 characters to collect and this series also features select Smashball Eyeballs with creepy mini-beasts covered in slime!
Ghastly creations include a selection from ‘Odd Bodies’, ‘Icky Insects’, ‘Ooze Dudes’, ‘Awful Animals’, ‘Filthy Food’, ‘Toilet Humour’, and ‘Smash Trash’, with rare, ultra-rare see-thru characters and playset exclusive characters to collect.
Suitable for ages 5+, the SMASHERS Series 2 collection is available in one, three, and eight packs – all full of horrifically foul surprises!
You can store your revolting creatures in a disgustingly gross Collectors Tin which can hold 50 SMASHERS and comes with a grungy Limited Edition Smasher inside!
You can even take your SMASHERS on the road with the Sludge Bus. Unveil two exclusive characters and unfold the playset to uncover the rank restroom where you can shoot your SMASHERS into the toilet! Lovely.
To discover your creature, smash the eyeball on the ground (I wouldn’t advise doing it on laminate flooring) and see what is living inside. Caitlin and Ieuan enjoyed the smashing and the collectables inside are all rather cute, with the possible exception of Poopy and Poo Paper.
You could, if you had the time and energy, reassemble the plastic pieces to recreate the eyeball but my two found the inhabitants far more interesting.
SMASHERS Series 2 are suitable for ages 5+ and available nationwide. Prices start from £1.99 through to £19.99.
If those aren’t scary enough for you, how about Zuru’s Robo Alive Spider? I’m not kidding when I say if you don’t like spiders you definitely won’t want one of these scooting around your floor.
It is rather lifelike and, happily, comes with a battery supplied. Needless to say, the kids are planning to ‘surprise’ the grandparents with it!
And it wouldn’t be Halloween without some slime, would it? Oosh’s Non-Stick Slime is suitably gross and, um, dangly.
You can find Zuru toys, including the new Gross Smashers at Smyths, Argos and Tesco (in-store only).
Find out more about Zuru Toys at www.zuru.com, or connect with them on Facebook @ZURUToysCompany, or Twitter @ZURUToys.
There’s nothing like some quiet painting or drawing, particularly for a stressed out tween to give them some me time and a break from the demands of their iPad. I honestly think it’s good for their mental health!
How things have changed from the messy crafting sessions of old when there would be glitter everywhere and pompoms would appear as if by magic from odd nooks and crannies. I am still finding last year’s Halloween confetti in the cracks between the floorboards!
Caitlin, though has been learning to paint and draw with grandfather John and takes a very serious and measured approach to her art. She was delighted to receive a selection of pencils, brushes and card for her new passion, watercolour sent to us by Hunkydory Crafts.
Here’s what we were sent and they’d all make great Christmas gifts for any budding artist in the family.
This amazing carry roll contains 48 pencils, each with their own different 3mm coloured lead at the centre. There is just about every colour you can think of and they can be blended to create any number of colours in any tone or shade you could possibly want.
I have no previous experience of using watercolour pencils but, as Caitlin told me, you can create different effects by activating your pencils with water. It’s fascinating to see the colour almost come alive when you ‘wash’ over it with a brush. Obviously, the more water you add, the less intense the colour will be, but there’s a lovely rainbow of colours here to play with.
When you’re using watercolour pencils you’ll find the new Premier Craft Tools Waterbrushes from Hunkydory pretty handy as they are designed for use with watercolour pencils.
There are three craft water brushes with a small, medium and large brush which you can use for the different watercolour techniques such as washing the colour more broadly or concentrating on intricate detail.
Rather cleverly, the brushes contain a reservoir for water which is released when you squeeze the brush. No more cups of dirty water that usually get knocked over! You can even ‘wash’ the colour out of your brush by just squeezing it.
Caitlin had no problem using these so they are definitely suitable for a slightly older child to use.
To go with the pencils and brushes, we received a pad of watercolour card.
The pad contains 30 sheets of A5 professional watercolour card (280gsm) which is heavy enough not to buckle or warp when water is applied to it.
You could easily use the pad to make cards and each sheet can be torn out separately. The card is also suitable for die-cutting.
Caitlin’s first attempt isn’t bad at all and we’re looking forward to going a little wilder with the colour palette and creating some larger scale watercolour drawings to impress grandfather John with.
We were surprised how reasonably priced these items were with the pencils being £24,99, the brushes £7.99 and the pad of card £9.99.
Find out more at Hunkydory Crafts online. You can also join Club Hunkydory for free project ideas, competitions and there’s even Club Hunkydory TV.