A Strong Coffee

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Now TV Nickelodeon Swap Shop

Now TV Nickelodeon swap Shop


NOW TV is thrilled to announce two exciting new additions to its children’s entertainment offering. Viewers can now watch Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. at any time, without a contract via the Entertainment Month Pass.

To celebrate, NOW TV is launching the NOW TV Nickelodeon Swap Shop. The social campaign is asking families to get creative in return for a free Nickelodeon digital activity pack crammed full of fun to keep children entertained this summer.


Taking part is simple, all you have to do is follow NOW TV on Twitter or Facebook. Over the next two weeks the NOW TV Nickelodeon Swap Shop will post characters from some of Nickelodeon and Nick Jr.'s most-loved shows such as SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, Ben & Holly's Little Kingdom and Thomas and Friends. Then it is over to the kids to get creative by drawing their favourite Nickelodeon characters.

You can then tweet a picture of your kids’ artwork with the hashtag  #NickelodeonNOWTV or respond to the post on the NOW TV Facebook page to receive their free digital activity pack. Not only will every submission receive a digital activity pack but they will also be entered into a competition to win a Nickelodeon goody bag and a NOW TV Entertainment Month Pass. Five expert judges will pick the winners by selecting their 10 favourite entries each, which will be showcased on the NOW TV Facebook page for everyone to see.

Big man is enjoys drawing at the moment so I asked him to draw his favourite Nickelodeon characters. Can you tell who they are?


Spongebob and Patrick drawing


The NOW TV Entertainment Month Pass already lets customers watch hit shows on 12 of the UK’s best TV channels including Sky 1, Sky Living, Sky Atlantic, Sky Arts 1, Discovery, MTV, Comedy Central, GOLD, Disney, FOX and now Nickelodeon & Nick Junior. It’s available on the NOW TV Box, PS3™, Roku, LG Smart TV, Xbox®360, Android™, PC and Mac, iPad® and iPhone®. For more information on NOW TV visit nowtv.com






Big man will be receiving a colouring set and soft toy as a thank you for spreading the word on this competition

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Sparkup Magical Reader Giveaway

sparkup reader prize

Earlier this week I posted my review of the lovely Sparkup magical reader system. In short it is a very clever little device that you can programme to read your child's favourite books. It is great for famalies that live apart from grandparents as you can get them to read a story into it so that they are still a part of your little one's life. Once purchased you don't need to buy expensive books to programme into it, just use the ones you child has and already enjoys.

I am really pleased that Sparkup have offered one of my readers a magical reader of their own along with a Dinosaur Roar book. All you need to do is complete the Rafflecopter below. (UK entrants only) If you aren't lucky enough to win then you can purchase the Sparkup Magical Reading System from Amazon (rrp £39.99)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com - See more at: http://www.theprizefinder.com/content/sparkup-magical-reader#sthash.eHzv1sJq.dpuf

Bricks Family Restaurant Review

legoland hotel


If you follow me on instrgram, you will probably have worked out that we live near to Legoland Windsor and go there a lot. The boys love it there just as much as I do. We were really pleased to see that they have opened up Bricks restaurant, located within Legoland Hotel, for lunches during the summer holidays. You don't need to be a guest of the hotel, you just need to be visiting Legoland Windsor and can go in between 11.30 and 2.30 for a character lunch.

bricks restaurant


Now when I say character lunch it is important not to think of Cafe Mickey as Legoland don't do it Disney Style, but if you want the odd character walking around that you can have your photo taken with then it is nice enough.

You enter the hotel at the bottom of the park. On our way in we met Sir Studley.

Sir Studley



There are two places you can eat inside the hotel. Bricks and the Skyline Bar. The lunch menu at Bricks is £14.95 an adult and £6.95 for a child over 3. If you have an annual pass you can recieve a 20% discount in this. It is partivularly good as it is a self service buffet with drinks included.

I must admit that having eaten in Bricks a number of times before, I was slightly disappointed by the selection of food and that there were no colour in table cloths. Having said that I enjoyed my meal and had a chicken salad.

meal at Bricks restaurant


The children had lots to choose from, including an ice cream machine for dessert.

childs counter


Whilst eating our meal we had a pirate come and visit us.

lego pirate at Bricks restaurant

Big man had left to play on the x boxes, but he was happy to find him again later for a photo.

lego pirate

Although it expensive added onto the price of a day visit, I think it is really nice to take advantage of these lunches if you are and annual pass or merlin pass holder. And if you do go a small tip - go to the toilets and wash your hands in the child's sink, it will make you smile.



Sunday, 27 July 2014

Sparkup Magical Reader Review

sparkup magical book reader

I am pleased to say that all my children love books and it is an absolute pleasure to hear big man reading books by himself now. I believe it is really important that children have books surrounding them from the moment that they are born. When I was offered the Sparkup reader to review I thought it was a great idea. You are able to program the device so that it records you reading your child's favourite books.

using a magical book reader

Your child is then able to pick up the reader and attach it onto the back cover of the book and hears you read to them. You don't need to buy any expensive books to work with it, any of the books you already own can be programmed into it. If you child skips a page, so does the reader. Here's a short video we made of us using the reader and it highlights just how simple it is to set up.



One thing to note is you need to make sure that the camera is angled at 90 degrees when you record so that the camera recognises the book when you attach it again. It took us a couple of goes to work this out. 

My husband works away a lot, so it is really nice that Daddy can read a story even when he isn't there. With families living around the country and the world these days, it's a great way to keep grandparents involved in your child's world even if you aren't able to see them as much as you would like. In an ideal world, I would always stop and read little man a book if he wanted. In reality I have to make dinner, put a wash on, tidy away dinner. This reader is a great way if entertaining little man with a few of his favourite books when I have other things to do.

It also comes with a lead so that you can back up the recordings to your computer. I think it is a lovely idea. I also love the fact that big man has gone off by himself and recorded some stories for his brothers. It only took a few goes for him to understand how to programme it. For more information on the reader you can visit the Sparkup website.



Family Fever


We were given the reader for the purpose of this review but the opinions here are my own. 

Saturday, 26 July 2014

The Real Mums of All-Bran 5-Day Challenge

All Bran


"The Real Mums of All-Bran 5-Day Challenge is all about embracing our tummies and the way they look."

Embrace how my tummy looks? That is kind of hard. I have never liked my tummy. I have always seen myself as being fat. Now when I look back at pictures of a younger me, I see that I was actually pretty slim.

going to a wedding


Then I had my gorgeous big man. Again I didn't really like my tummy then. I never really glowed in pregnancy. I was huge! But huge for a good reason. I had a fantastic bundle of joy growing inside me. I suppose that helps you put things into perspective. 


pregnant with third child

My tummy now is still not as small as I would like it, but it has made three amazing people so I should give it some slack. A few more sit ups and a few less chocolate bars should do the trick.

me and my 3 boys


I must admit that when I was younger I often skipped breakfast. Over the last 10 years I have forced myself to eat it and I do feel that it gives me a better start to the day and kicks my digestive system into working. I therefore decided to give the 5 Day All Bran Challenge a go. I bought a few flavours: Red Berry Crunch, Golden Crunch and Choco Wheats. They all kept me feeling full until just before lunch but what I really liked about them was that although they were sweet they weren't overly so. They were so tasty that the boys even liked them too. By signing up to the 5 day challenge on the website you can track just how your tummy feels as well as some rather tasty recipe suggestions. 

Do you love your tummy?  Are you a breakfast eater or skiper? If you are the latter maybe you should try the 5 day challenge too.




This post is an entry for the Real Mums of All-Bran Linky Challenge, sponsored by Kelloggs

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Where Has The Time Gone?

end of year one photo

As the summer holidays are finally upon us, it draws me into a reflective mode. I can hardly believe that big man has completed Year One. It seems like yesterday that my baby had started reception. I was worried about him making friends. Not being able to read or write anything but his name. I am proud to say that he has come on in leaps and bounds and really is his own little person who is excited and intrigued by life. My worries now have turned into how I am going to take him to his friends birthday parties and what will happen when he reads the "I believe in Santa" signs at Christmas. I mean why wouldn't you!?!

I also get a little upset. Another year has passed me by so quickly. It is only a year until he leaves infants. I think a picture of the wall chart will be necessary on his last day. I am hoping that he has done some growing.

height chart at school


This year middle man starts in reception too. How has that happened? I do worry about how he will cope with 5 full days but I know deep down he will be fine.

So what have I learnt whist big man has been at school?

Firstly, it is always a good idea to buy the correct sized clothing. I can laugh about it now, but I was pretty upset when I thought that big man would start on his first day without a jumper that fitted!

child in adults jumper


There is no point in buying a whole wardrobe of school branded clothing. As much as I would love too, it costs a fortune and will just get stained in pen/mud/who knows what. Luckily you can get great quality unbranded uniform for a fraction of the cost. George at ASDA even have a 100 day guarentee on their clothing so if you do get it wrong, you can easily exchange.

There is more to life than spending hours sewing in name labels. I still have about 75 sew in tags from when big man started nursery. A sharpie pen does the trick and there is no risk of jabbing a needle into your finger.

The little person that you take in and worry about on their first day will soon adapt to their new environment. They no longer need their Mummy to help them make friends. They will develop a longing for learning which requires your best friend to become Google. I honestly don't know how my Mum coped with all the questions and no internet to find the answers. They will continue to make you prouder than you thought possible as they start on their journey to become an adult.




This is a sponsored post

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

The Gallery: Animals

I am an anti pet person. Why? Well a variety of reasons. Firstly, I get very attached to things and when it comes to a pet being ill, I am not sure that I wouldn't spend our life savings keeping our hamster alive, for it to die a few days later. I am not good at picking animals up. You may remember my terror at holding a lamb earlier this year. Animals have legs and can move and I have a fear of them running away from me and getting lost. Also animals can't go on holiday with you. I like the idea of being able to go away and not having to find someone to come over and feed my pet rabbit.

However, in May, I started to warm up to the idea a little. When Suzanne from 3 children and it was looking for her gecko to have a home for a week, I jumped at the chance. I knew big man would love him.

FYI if you are leaving your pet gecko with someone who is a bit anti animals there are a few things you shouldn't say. For example, telling them that his tail may fall off if you frighten him may scare the life out of them. Stories of crickets escaping are again not that great. Saying, if he dies, don't worry, just makes you worry that you may kill him.

So we had Reggie for a week. In that week I went from this:

holding a gecko for the first time



to this:

holding a gecko



Maybe, just maybe the "I'm never having pets lady" is slowly starting to change her mind.

Do you love pets or share my fears? Please tell me I am not alone.