Shrek’s Adventure! on London’s Southbank: Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting #ad

Shrek's Adventure!My children adore everyone’s favourite ogre, so I was excited to tell them we’d be going to Shrek’s Adventure! on London’s Southbank. Better still, we’d be going with our dear friends, fellow blogger Mel and her four

The tour lasts for around an hour, and is very interactive with lots of different segments. It starts with a 4D bus tour, and although it doesn’t actually move, it wasn’t too dissimilar to feeling like we were on a roller coaster. Various characters from Dreamworks films are talking and flying all around you, and it’s a lot of fun.

I won’t ruin it by giving away too many spoilers, but during this early segment, a little disaster occurs, and the rest of the tour is based around getting home. You get to meet lots of characters from the Shrek films along the way, and join in to help bring certain items to the Muffin Man so he make a potion which will create a portal to return back.

The actors play their parts exceptionally well, and the children came out of the tour absolutely buzzing. It was such a joy to see them all this happy. Keeping seven kids aged three to nine entertained is no small thing, so hats off to Shrek’s Adventure! for doing so.

Things to know before your visit

Queues: if you visit at a busy time (we went in UK half term), be prepared to stand in line for a while. We had pre-booked tickets for the 3pm tour, but didn’t start our tour until a few minutes to 4pm. It was a teensy bit deceptive because there wasn’t much of a queue outside the venue, once inside however, there was quite a bit of waiting around.

Don’t worry though, there is plenty to look at while you’re waiting to keep you entertained. We also took a big bag loaded with snacks and activities with us. It wasn’t much of a problem for us, but it’s definitely worth bearing in mind if you have mobility issues to consider. They keep the tour group sizes fairly small, which was impressive, because never once did I feel like we were being squashed in like sardines in a can.

Shrek's Adventure!Buggies/baggage: there’s no cloakroom until you’re just about to go on your tour, and they ask you to not take buggies in. If you’re planning to go with a baby either take a sling or be prepared to carry them.

Mobile phones/photography: you’ll be asked to switch your phone off, and not turn it back on until the very end. I really like this aspect of the tour, because it keeps everyone fully present and focused on what’s happening, rather than trying to capture the moment to put on social media. Not only are you asked to switch phones off, you won’t be allowed to take photos on a camera either. At the very end of the tour you’ll get to meet the big guy, and can snap away and share until your heart is content.

Frightening: until about six months ago, Polly (8½) would find something scary about even the most innocuous films or books. There are a few parts on the tour that involve witches and/or all the lights going out. Both Freddy (4) and Clara (6) stuck to me like glue in anticipation of something scary happening, but didn’t cry or get freaked properly out at all. Again worth bearing in mind if you have a highly sensitive child who is likely to scare really easy.

The verdict

Shrek’s Adventure! got the resounding thumbs up from all seven children. Yes really, I’m not just saying it. I think the best thing is that there are different segments every five minutes or so, which keep the kids completely enraptured.

There was a bonus section at the end too, where we got to meet the Kung Fu Panda. You’ll have to get down to the Southbank quickly though, because he’s only there to celebrate Chinese new year, and won’t be there forever.

Huge thanks to the PR team at Shrek’s Adventure! for inviting us to come for a tour. For what’s on and pricing, head over to the Shrek’s Adventure! website.

**Disclaimer: we were gifted our entrance fee in exchange for this honest blog, all words are my own, some photos were taken by myself, some by Mel. For my full disclosure policy, please click here.**

Christmas Tree: Are You in the Real or Fake Camp?

Are you going to buy a real Christmas tree this year, or are you in the fake camp?

We usually buy our Christmas tree the first weekend of December. Prior to having kids, and especially living in house shares, this would be a lovely fun filled affair. Usually involving lots of mulled wine along the way, and spending the day half cut decorating the thing only to realise it looked like a dogs dinner the following morning. Nowadays, what with being a non-driving family, the reality of buying a Christmas tree doesn’t exactly match the fantasy in my head or comparison with what it used to be.

One naturally conjures up romantics scenes of the children choosing the perfect tree then coming home all excited to decorate it, which is not exactly what happens in our house. The buying of the tree usually involves arguments between the kids over which one will get bought, then arguments over who will get to put this or that decoration on. Not to mention the drama of getting the damn thing home on public transport. Last year we admitted defeat and bought a fake tree, and the children were not impressed at all. Once you get used to having a real tree, it’s just not the same.

As you can imagine, I was super excited when Fantastic Services (who I am brand ambassador for) offered us the opportunity to review their new Christmas tree delivery service.

Christmas Tree CollageWhat Christmas tree services are Fantastic offering?

The team of two who carried out the delivery were true professionals. They are every time they come to my house, but were extra smiley yesterday, and who could blame them? I can imagine that delivering Christmas trees to their customers will be quite a jolly job over the coming weeks.

They brought the tree into the house, unwrapped it, spread it out for us and took the rubbish away. The tree looks impressive and smells fab but not too over powering. It has shed some needles on the floor, but not so many that I’m dreading the extra vacuuming. It’s very sturdy on its base too, which has been a problem in the past. Check out my Insta Stories for more details.    

Fantastic can decorate the tree for you, if you wish for them to do so. As you can imagine though, I had three excited children on my hands who’d already earmarked that job for themselves. In fairness there was a lot less fighting over decorations this year, I think not going out in the freezing cold to buy the tree first helped no end with that.

The other great service that Fantastic offer is collection. They shall be collecting the tree from us on the first week of January and taking it away to be recycled. If your local authority is anything like ours, dying Christmas trees will be piled high in the corner of the bin store until some time in late January when they are finally taken away. There will always also be some bright sparks who chuck them into the waste bins, which of course are already packed to the rafters with wrapping paper and Christmas rubbish. This part of the service is a godsend for us.

How much does having a Christmas tree delivered by Fantastic cost?

christmas tree salt dough decorationsFantastic deliver within the M25, and prices start at £69, which I think is very reasonable. Considering that we’ve spent roughly the same buying trees from our local high street, and have still had to factor in missioning home with it.

Ordering your tree couldn’t be easier, simply go to the Fantastic website, select order a tree, input your requirements and choose your delivery slot. All in all it takes less than two minutes. 

The children spent the afternoon making salt dough decorations, and have been beavering away since 6-something this morning making them pretty with the fabric pens. Dare I say it, for once the reality matched the fantasy. 

For those rolling their eyes, yes I am aware that it’s November (just!) but I’m glad that we’ll get to have our tree for an extra week this year. Thanks Fantastic, for another wonderful service.

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**Disclaimer: we were given our Christmas tree FOC in exchange for this blog post. For my full disclosure policy, please click here.**       

   

Review: My Size PAW Patrol Lookout Tower by Spin Master #ad

Our review for the My Size PAW Patrol Lookout Tower

Regular readers will already know that Freddy (almost four) is absolutely cray cray for the PAW Patrol. We made his dreams come true by seeing them on stage earlier this year, and he’s been talking about his “very own lookout” ever since. You can imagine my delight when Spin Master gave us the opportunity to review one. Watching the glee on his face while we opened the packaging was similar to Christmas morning joy. Even the girls were super excited about it, even though, in their own words, they are far too old for PAW Patrol.

The spec

The tower stands at almost 70cm tall, which is the perfect height for my little man. It’s an impressive toy, and once put together is very sturdy. It took around half an hour to assemble, and the instructions were easy to follow. I suspect it would take other people a lot less time to construct, but flat packs are not my strong suit. Polly filmed me on a time lapse (31 seconds) which you can view here.

What’s included

As well as the tower, complete with a working lift, rotating periscope, slide and talking pup pad you get two members of the PAW Patrol, and one of their vehicles. Chase comes with his police car, and pup pack, and Marshall comes with his pack. The talking pup pad takes two AAA batteries, which are also included. Should you so wish, you’d need to buy the rest of the gang separately, as well as Marshall’s fire engine. 

PAW Patrol Lookout Tower

Key features

– Product dimensions: 68.6 x 22.9 x 38.1 cm, weighs 6kg
– Easy to assemble with simple instructions 
– 2 pups, 2 pup packs and 1 vehicle included (Chase and Marshall)
– Interactive pup pad with lights and sounds from the TV show
– Pup pack storage area
– Working lift and slide for the pups
– Rotating periscope
– Rotating vehicle launcher

Our verdict

It’s safe to say that Freddy is in absolute awe of his new toy. He has played with nothing else since it arrived, and I can’t see that changing any time soon. It’s interactive without being super annoying, and doesn’t have too many noisy flashing things. There’s plenty within to keep a child entertained. I’m giving the PAW Patrol Lookout Tower a resounding thumbs up, and would wholeheartedly recommend it for any pup obsessed fans out there. 

Where to buy

The My Size PAW Patrol Lookout Tower can be found in all good toy shops, and retails for £109.99. It’s selling today on both Amazon and Argos for £87.99, which is the best price I could find here in the UK.

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**Disclaimer: we were sent the PAW Patrol Lookout Tower FOC in exchange for this blog post. For my full disclosure policy, please click here.**

Review: Dyson Light Ball Multi Floor and V6 Cord Free Bagless Vacuum Cleaner Bundle from AO.com

When AO.com got in touch to see if I’d like to take part in a blogger Christmas challenge, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. Not only would I receive a Secret Santa type gift, but I got to choose a blogging friend to exchange a gift with. I asked the lovely Mel from Le Coin de Mel if she would like to join in, and she was as enthusiastic as I was. We were given a list of ten items to choose from, and had to pick three for each other, AO then picked one of the three to send to us.

I’m not sure what Mel’s three choices for me were, but I was sent a gift that I desperately needed. Our not even two year old vacuum cleaner died on us a few months ago after being involved in a collision with the wall (don’t ask). We have been using a hand me down Dyson ever since, which is well over five years old and not in the best shape. Needless to say this was an exceptionally well timed present. Thank you Mel, and thank you AO!

dysonDyson Light Ball Multi Floor and V6 Cord Free Bagless Vacuum Cleaner Bundle

This is the cake and eat it version of a vacuum cleaner. You get the compact and portable cord free, which gives you twenty minutes cleaning time, as well as a more traditional upright vacuum, which is also lightweight.

Considering it’s completely cord free, the V6 is very powerful, and has great suction. It’s perfect for giving the house a quick going over, or thoroughly cleaning the stairs, etc. It’s quite interesting seeing how fast twenty minutes goes though, and I’m often convinced that I’ve only been at it for five minutes when in actual fact it’s fifteen.

The upright Light Ball is a few generations up from what we currently have and is a dream to use. Easy to manoeuvre and of course, as with all Dyson’s, wonderful suction. You can adjust the settings depending on whether you are vacuuming a hard floor or carpeted one.

A too short power cable has been a bugbear of mine in the past, but this one is 9.4m, which is more than enough for the entire downstairs of my house. It weighs in at an impressive 6.9kg, which makes it exceptionally lightweight. So much so that 5yo Clara can handle it perfectly and she does a fab job with it, earning her pocket money.

The two cleaners together make a great team, and this bundle is excellent value. I’m genuinely struggling to find a bad word to say about either of them.  

Clara demonstrating the vacuum cleaners in this short video

Key Features

  • Upright and cordless vacuum cleaner package
  • (Light Ball) Radial Root Cyclone™ technology captures more dust
  • (Light Ball) Easily manoeuvre around furniture with Ball™ technology
  • (Light Ball) Two Tier Radial™ cyclone technology captures more dust
  • V6 provides up to 20 minutes run time from a single charge 
  • Washable lifetime filters that never need replacing 
  • Lightweight and compact 
  • Energy efficiency rating A 
  • V6 comes with a two year guarantee
  • Light Ball comes with a five year guarantee  
  • For the full spec head over the AO website

Why buy from AO.com?  

In a nutshell, they are an amazing company to buy from. I’ve had several orders from AO and their customer service is always second to none – they are rated excellent on the reviews site Trust Pilot. Many products are available on next day delivery, and they deliver from 7am to 7pm, with four hour slots. They send you a text on the day of delivery, and if there are any problems en route will call to let you know. What more could you ask for? 

**Disclaimer: I was sent these products FOC in exchange for this honest review. For my full disclosure policy, please click here.**   

Review: Facts! One for every day of the year by Tracey Turner #ad

I’m a little obsessed with sneaking facts into my children, and think there’s a lot to be said for stealth learning. As a home educator I’m always on the lookout for books and resources to help with this.

My favourite type of factual information is the bite sized variety, because at 8, 5 and 3 my children are too young to absorb massive chunks of information. Which is why I adore this book from Bloomsbury – Facts! One for every day of the year by Tracey Turner.

What’s the book about?

Essentially this is a book of 365 exceptionally interesting facts, aimed at children my kids’ ages. Some correlate to the day of the year (i.e. such and such happened on this day), whilst others are completely random. Alongside each fact are gorgeous, eye catching illustrations.

The book bestows snippets of wisdom about anything and everything you’d want to know. From when Mozart wrote his first symphony (eight years old), to how many species of animal live on the island of Madagascar (250,000).

I love how digestible the book is, and can see us using it as an everyday education tool. I enjoy planting seeds and letting my kids direct their own learning, and this book will really help with that. I can already envisage them starting mini projects off the back of some of these fascinating facts.

Here a few of our favourites

    • Flamingos pee down their legs as a way of cooling down.
    • To compliment someone’s cooking in Portugal you should kiss your index finger, then squeeze your ear.
    • During an average lifetime, your heart will beat about 2.21 billion times, and you’ll take around 672 million breaths.
    • The most expensive jewel ever sold was the rare Graff Pink diamond, which was bought for US$46 million.
    • The world’s smallest insect is the fairy wasp, an adult is only 0.44 millimetres long.
    • An octopus has three hearts, nine brains and blue blood.

Overall thoughts on the book

I’d highly recommend this book to parents and grandparents of young children. It’s engaging, fun and super interesting. Fairly priced at £12.99, this book would make an ideal Christmas or birthday present. I’m confident that most kids would relish bamboozling their friends with their newly learnt facts after reading this book.

Facts! One for every day of the year was published today, and is available on Amazon and in book shops.

Freddy reading the Facts book

**Disclaimer: this is a collaborative piece, for my full disclosure policy, please click here.

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