Carddies Farm

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Well I have been fortunate enough to receive a Carddies Farm set to review.

Carddies are quite simply the Card People to Colour and Go. The farm kit includes 4 people, a scarecrow, chickens, dog, cat, sheep, horse, cow and a pig. There is also a little scene to create the back drop for the characters. The idea is that children colour in the scene and characters, give them names, make up stories about them and keep them in their own little sliding box. The toy itself is self-contained making it highly portable and the perfect toy to have on the go. The characters are made from premium card, the quality of which is evident from the outset. The kit also includes 12 colouring pencils of art pencil standard. I was extremely impressed at how beautifully the pencils colour on the surface of the card and the quality produced. Carddies seem to have thought of everything, even the characters have both front and rear aspects making them even more life like.

Aimed at both boys and girls aged 3-10 years there is a collection of 12 different sets including London, Sports, School, Fairies, Cavemen, Football, Ballet, Knights, Family One and Two, Farm and Nativity and certainly encourages creative and imaginative fun.

The Carddies Farm is a wonderful little toy. Who wouldn’t want their own little people, in their own little box to carry around with them wherever they go?

This is is such a versatile toy, the portability of it certainly appeals to me, car, train, bus, tube and plane journeys come to mind. Brilliant that I could take an entire farm on a weekend break/holiday without it taking up most of the luggage yet be happy in the knowledge that my little one would have a toy that would give them hours of fun.

You can see Carddies in action in this video by Top Toy Reviews http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRDjCJr1NBQ

It’s not surprising that Carddies has already won a number of awards including;

• Top Drawer 2012 Award for Best New Product for Children
• Shortlisted Gift of the Year Awards 2013 (under Eco Friendly Category)
• Junior Design Awards 2012 Highly Commended (Best Arts and Crafts)
• Parentdish Hot New Toy 2012 ( http://www.parentdish.co.uk/toys-and-games/toy-fair-hot-new-toys-for-2012/ )
• Toy Talk Best Travel Toy 2012
• Theo Paphitis #SBS Award July 2012
• Jacqueline Gold #WOW Winners January 2013
• Shortlisted Red Ribbon Awards for family business July 2013 (under Best Small Business Category)
• BizzieBaby Gold Award (see http://www.bizziebaby.co.uk) May 2014
• Shortlisted as Slow Craft Toy in 2014 Slow Toy Awards Sept 2014 (see http://slowtoymovement.com/ )

And has been featured in the following best toys lists;

• The Guardian Top Ten Christmas Presents for Children (http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/nov/21/christmas-gift-ideas-children ) “Brilliant for fidgety kids on planes, trains, restaurants or just some nice quiet time at home”
• Parentdish Best Stocking Filler http://www.parentdish.co.uk/christmas/christmas-stockings-fillers-for-all-ages-under-ten-pounds/#photo-1
• Toy Talk’s Top Ten Toys for 2012 (http://www.toytalk.co.uk/2012/11/top-ten-toys-2012.html) “Utterly charming”.
• The Mirror’s Christmas Gifts That Keep on Giving (http://www.mirror.co.uk/lifestyle/family/christmas-gift-ideas-for-children-toys-1469755 ) “lovely, traditional ‘slow play’ toy…They’re simple but very engaging and creative”.

Carddies has even been given the thumbs-up by the Good Toy Guide: http://www.goodtoyguide.com/toy/carddies/

This is a well designed, well made children’s toy and extremely versatile. At RRP £8.99 a brilliant gift, perfectly sized for a Christmas stocking too!

To get your own Carrdies characters visit the Carddies store at http://www.amazon.co.uk or from the other stockists listed at http://www.carddies.com

Milkshake Party Party Live Baths Hall Scunthorpe

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Well it certainly was a party at the Baths Hall in Scunthorpe. Hundreds of excited children poured into the Baths Hall with their glow sticks and shiney stars at the ready!

The popularity of Milkshake was certainly evident as the young audience cheered when the characters appeared.

The line up included Little Princess, Pip from Pip Ahoy, Bananas in Pyjamas, Bello, Chloe from Chloe’s closest, Tommy and Tallulah from Tickety Toc, Toby and Dolores, Noddy and Tesssie Bear and of course Milkshake Monkey.

It was Milkshake Monkeys birthday, everyone was planning his party without monkey finding out however poor monkey thought his birthday had been forgotten and disappeared. It was now down to the audience to help find Milkshake Monkey before the birthday party.

Milkshake Live was bursting with energy from the outset. Derek Moran and Jen Pringle were outstanding and certainly demonstrated what talented presenters they are. The level of energy and enthusiasm they maintained during an extremely fast paced show was impressive, it was a very slick performance and they obviously had the show off to a fine art!

The characters were equally as impressive, brilliant dancing and certainly demonstrated their individual personalities.

Milkshake Live was just an amazing show, lively and fun with great music. The audience were captivated from the start. It was excellently pitched and held the attention of the audience and encouraged interactivity throughout.

Brilliant! Great show in a wonderful venue and another example of the quality of children’s theatre at the Baths Hall in Scunthorpe.

We are already looking forward to future tours and would definitely book to see Milkshake Live again.

Old MacDonald Had a Farm at Lincoln Drill Hall

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Old MacDonald had a farm E.I.E.I.O and on that farm he had a………

Well unfortunately the animals on Old MacDonald’s farm have been stolen.

With the aid of a Russian inventor and his time machine Old MacDonald proceeded to find all of the animals following a series of clues found through well known nursery rhymes such as Heads, Shoulders Knees and Toes, She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain and of course Old MacDonald Had A Farm.

Produced by the People’s Theatre Company this was a lively and interactive hour, hosted by two actors and a combination of puppetry and animation. The Drill hall in Lincoln was filled with lively, excited children singing along to the songs and helping to solve the puzzles. The show was perfectly pitched to the audience, songs and puzzles cleverly chosen so that the young audience would be able to solve the clues and join in.

It was a wonderful atmosphere at the Drill Hall in Lincoln who were obviously accustomed to catering to such a young audience. It was a pleasant and welcoming environment. The staff were friendly, greeting children and asking them questions about the show and obviously understood the complexities parents face when trying to get a young child into the theatre, the often inevitable lateness or frequent trips to the loo etc.

If you were ever put off taking a young child to the theatre, perhaps because they might not sit still or might need to be in and out of the theatre to the loo or perhaps wanting to stand and dance in the aisle (like mine did!) then don’t be. The Drill Hall creates an atmosphere of relaxed fun and obviously understand how young children behave.

After the show we enjoyed a meal in the Drill Hall Cafe bar, they have a great children’s menu and play area. Overall it was a wonderful day out, great entertainment in a lovely environment with a nice meal too.

Take a look at the programme of events on the Drill Hall website http://www.lincolndrillhall.com/family and pop along to the theatre. The Drill Hall is a wonderful venue, a pleasant and welcoming environment to take your child and a wonderful introduction to the theatre.

The Gruffalo

image With 31 editions world wide and 28 translations the Gruffalo is a multi-award winning children’s favourite so to see this piece of children’s literature on stage was just amazing.

The Gruffalo tells the story of a mouse taking a walk through the woods. Mouse encounters Fox, Snake and Owl, all of whom intend to eat mouse. To evade danger mouse creates a fictional friend, the Gruffalo and describes his monstrous features. Funnily enough the Gruffalo’s favourite meal just happens to be the relevant animal. Mouse confidently walks on through the woods with the classic

“Silly old Fox/Snake/Owl, doesn’t he know? There’s no such thing as a Gruffalo”

Until mouse actually comes face to face with the Gruffalo!

There really aren’t enough words to describe how outstanding the Gruffalo was. Tall Stories Theatre Company have produced a magnificent show. The Gruffalo was funny with impeccable comedic timing. The acting was brilliant, amazing music, costumes and set. It was engaging and absolutely perfectly pitched to the audience, no wonder this was a 1000 seater sell out for the Baths Hall in Scunthorpe. The Gruffalo was quite simply exceptional and a testament to the Baths Hall for showing such outstanding children’s theatre.

Postman Pat at the Baths Hall

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Postman Pat is a national treasure and an old childhood favourite of mine so when I found out the show was on at the Baths Hall in Scunthorpe I was certainly intrigued and just had to see it.

The popularity of Postman Pat was obvious from the number of people at the theatre and the Baths Hall was full of excited children (and equally excited adults).

Well, what an amazing show!

The costumes, scenery and television footage used were brilliant. The animated series was cleverly adapted for the stage, even the character voices were the same as in the television series.

The show was lively, fun and interactive with children singing and dancing along. Our little baby clapped his hands and giggled every time Jess the cat uttered a little meow! I think what really impressed me was that the show wasn’t too loud. This probably makes me sound very old but we recently saw Peppa Pig on stage in a small theatre and it was painfully loud, not good for small peoples ears but also not enjoyable to sit through. The sound levels of this show seemed perfect and definitively made for a more enjoyable theatre experience.

This was a pleasant show in a lovely theatre with impeccable facilities.

Family Photo Shoot

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Well we decided to have some family photos taken. I’ve left it a while mainly because I really don’t like having my photo taken plus every time we try and take a photo of the little one he either turns away or skuttles off. So, was it actually going to be worth the money? Well, most definitely yes!

We we headed over to UK Portraits LTD in Caistor. It was a small studio close to the market square.

I was worried about ending up with some very staged looking photos with an uncomfortable mummy and daddy and a very wriggly baby whilst spending hours trying to coax him to stay in a certain position for a millisecond to get the “right” shot.

Well it wasn’t like that at all-phew!

We just played. Mini mumsnet editor was happily playing with his toys and Stew captured beautiful natural images as we played with him. It was actually quite relaxing and enjoyable.

After the shoot we went and had some lunch for an hour and then came back to see a slide show of the images.

They were beautiful (and made daddy well up!) .

I just cant can’t wait to receive the photos in the post!

It was a really lovely day and Stew made us feel completely relaxed and at home.