Tower of London – Ravensburger Puzzle Review

Tower of London is a new puzzle from Ravensburger which is part of the Historic Royal Palaces series. Tower of London is a 1,000 piece puzzle suitable for ages 10+ RRP £11.99.

I completed the Hampton Court Puzzle earlier in the year, and the Tower of London is a great addition to this series. The puzzle comes with a picture fact sheet, and I find these sheets a great addition to the puzzling experience. Its so much easier to refer to the picture sheet rather than the lid of the box.

tower of london

I sometimes feel that photographic puzzles like the tower of London will somehow not keep my attention and be as interesting, but didn’t find this the case with this puzzle. There at first glance seemed to be a sea of blue, and after my initial sorting of the edges I found the red was the colour that stood out. There also appeared to be lots of brick, but again once you have been through the pieces you find the quality of the picture allows you to separate each of the different tones of building.

tower of london puzzle

The Tower of London was not a tricky puzzle, and once the figures of the guardsman and the Beefeater were complete, it was easy to find the ER wording. The crown and the darker blue of the sky were easy to sort. Traitors gate was the next part completed and finally the historic tower of London itself.

tower of london review

The Tower of London is a great puzzle and one which I enjoyed especially the details on the crowns. I certainly need to think about going to the tower one day as its a place I have never been to. Visit the Ravensburger website for more great puzzles.

Disclaimer I was sent this puzzle to review and the opinions remain my own and have not been altered.

Kidzania London – Review

Kidzania is a new and different day out in the Westfield’s shopping centre London, and one the boy has been pestering me to take him too since it opened earlier in the year. This weekend we decided that Kidzania was going to be our Christmas day out and treat (instead of a Santa visit). I have seen so many pictures from other bloggers and friends who have visited and was hoping that we wouldn’t be disappointed.

kidzania welcome

Kidzania is found in the top levels of the Westfield shopping center in Shepherds Bush. We found it easy to drive, with only a small amount of London traffic to negotiate. The car park was easy to find, and I thought quite reasonably priced at £9.50 for the whole days parking. Kidzania is a town where the kids are in charge, and with around 60 different occupations for kids to take part in there is defiantly something for everyone. The first thing that struck all of us was the theming, from the entrance where you are greeted and instructed to take the escalators to the airport where you book in, and start your Kidzania experience. The whole entrance has an airport feel, and something that certainly made me smile.

kidzania police

Once you and your children have been checked in and been tagged, you are given your map of Kidzania, money (KidZos) and you enter the town. This is where it is up to the kids to make their own story. The boy was a little daunted as he entered the indoor town, which started off feeling a little dark, but was beautiful lit for Christmas. We stopped off at the Job center to have a chat and get our bearings. The boy then wanted to head straight for the police station (the only job he wanted to do) I did think at age 10 this might all be themed a bit too young for him, but actually he really enjoyed it after the first experience.

kidzania london

Each job in Kidzania has a board outside, telling you what age recommendation, what type of job, age, salary and what sort of skills might be needed as well as a rough length of time. The boy looked worried as he was dressed in his uniform, and then sat to watch a fun instruction video. Parents can see their kids through large clear windows but are told not to enter each of the buildings/rooms. There are a few experiences adults can join in like the theatre, but are encouraged to let their kids work on their own for most of the jobs. The boy on completion of his instructions was lead off to help out at a fire situation at the local hotel, and was in his element with crowd control. This was a great start to our four hours in Kidzania, and while on his Police job, he spotted a delivery courier, and a security guard job. Both of these roles are great ones to start with as they involve visiting other shops and buildings to deliver and collect packages. This is great for finding your feet and spot other places you might like to try.

kidzania bank

The boy quickly decided on the music academy, as well as taking a university degree so that he could earn more money. Once you have collected 75 KidZos you can open a bank account and get a credit card, there was a long queue, but the boy was keen to bank his earnings. Next the boy was happy to just go off and find experiences of his own, and we could have reclined in the adult lounge but chose to watch from the mini benches around the town. The boy tried shop work, bell ringing, air conditioning, animation and even recycled paper making. he managed to fit lots into his time.

kidzania music

Kidzania has two levels, places to get a spot of lunch or a snack, and there are food related experiences for the kids. KidZos can be earnt with various occupations or spent in the shops, banked or saved for fun treats. The boy was keen to save as much as possible and was keen to see how much he could earn in the four hours. He wanted to have 100 KidZos in his bank account, saving them for a future visit. I think its safe to say that the boy had a great time in Kidzania and later on the way home said his favorite part was being a police man. I think the biggest smiles were when he had his one to one drum session, which would normally have a class of about 8. Kidzania was not overly busy on our visit, so very little waiting or queuing. The other stand out experience was the pit crew, where the boy had to work as a team and change a tyre on a racing car. He was super speedy and he and his partner managed a super quick time of 21 seconds.

kidzania pit crew

Kidzania is suitable for kids aged 4-14 and once they are over 8 they can be left to explore the city for themselves. Safe that your kids cant leave and are safe with plenty of staff members about if they have any problems. This is perfect for those parents who want to get their shopping done at the Westfield shopping center which has a great selection of high street and specialist stores. Ticket prices start at £29.50 for kids 4+ with adults starting at £16.50. there are online discounts, and other deals. To find out more about Kidzania visit the website, twitter and Facebook pages, where you will find the latest deals. If you fancy finding out how much fun the kids are having at Kidzania then join them on Thursday 17th December 7pm to 11pm for their Adult only experience, something I think Dad Dragon and I would love to do!

Disclaimer we were give admission to Kidzania in return for an honest review, the words remain ours and have not been altered.

London at Night Ravensburger – Review

London at Night is one of the Ravensburger 1,000 piece Panorama puzzles, available now for RRP £12.99 and suited to ages 14+, this is a different and challenging puzzle.london at night

London by night is the first panorama puzzle that I have tried, and others in the range include Star wars, and seascapes as well as city skylines like this one of London. I knew this puzzle was going to be tricky as it had lots of similar colours and I wasn’t disappointed as it certainly took me a little longer to complete.

london at night ravensburger

I started with edges as always, then found it tricky to decide where to go next. I found the various shades of purples and blues difficult to sort in artificial light, so waited till morning for a clearer view. The picture of London by night has great detail, and once I had found all the bright pinks and reds, found that Big ben was the next part of the puzzle to be completed. I felt I had a bit of a head start having completed the London Silhouette puzzle last month, I knew every detail of Big Ben’s tower. The Millennium wheel was also easy to sort, and then I found it was a case of every piece in every hole especially for the sky.

london at night puzzle

London but Night is a beautiful puzzle, and one I have enjoyed more than I though as I love the elongated shape. Somehow this made the puzzle feel like it had fewer pieces, but as it took me 7/8 hours to complete I know this was not the case. I think that London by night has to be one of the more tricky puzzles that I have completed, certainly up there with the minions puzzle. The finished picture is stunning, and something I was very proud to have completed.

london at night ravensburger puzzle

Have a look below for my affiliate link to London by Night, or for more details of the this and other puzzles in the panorama series visit the Ravensburger website.

Disclaimer, we were sent this puzzle to review the opinions remain my own and have not been altered.

Big Ben Silhouette puzzle from Ravensburger – Review

The Big Ben Silhouette puzzle from Ravensburger is new and part of a different style of shaped puzzle. with 1,155 pieces and measuring approx. 78cm x 101cm I would say this puzzle would be suited to age 10 and over RRP £14.99.

big ben silhouette

The Big Ben silhouette puzzle looked very different and I was excited to get started, sorting the pieces proved tricky as they have rounded edges, and this confused the boy when he came to help out. The next part of construction is usually to assemble the outside, this proved more tricky as not all the outside pieces join. It was at this point that I also discovered the unique specially shaped cut outs of London, the box hints that there is a big ben, but infact there are 3 hidden shapes with in the picture of this puzzle.

big ben

I found this puzzle compelling and finished it in about 4/5 hours there are lots to keep your interest, and the bright colours are very eye catching. I used to love round puzzles when I was little and this took me back to the days when I would sit in my room finishing my fairy jigsaws. The puzzle contains all the landmarks that you would expect to find in London, from busses to tower bridge, and the quality of the image is great too.

big ben silhouette puzzle

I loved every minute of this jigsaw, and will be adding the dolphin to my Christmas list. The pieces are up to the usual Ravensburger standard and the addition of the three specially shaped mini puzzles certainly made me smile. The boy decided he wanted to complete the puzzle by adding these and was pleased that he had been able to help.

Click below for my affiliate link to the Big Ben silhouette puzzle or visit the Ravensburger website to see the other city’s and shapes in the range. There is even a Darth Vader one for the boys!

Actimel for Kids -Healthy Lunches

Actimel for Kids is a great new yoghurt drink perfect for kids lunch boxes or simply used as a healthy snack, with three flavours, and a space theme, we were interested to see what the boy thought.

We were invited to a cookery school in London to get inspiration for school lunches, and the boy was excited to see what he could create. We arrived in plenty of time to see the Actimel team setting up our cooking stations before being treated to some fun space themed snacks. Eating planets made from Melon, and star-shaped tortillas was fun. The kids certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves and with plenty of the New Actimel for kids to wash the snacks down, plates were soon empty.

actimel for kids header Actimel for kids

Soon it was time for us to have a go at making some Funky Lunch creations with Mark Northeast creator of the book with the same name. Our first challenge was to make some flying saucers. With crackers, cheese, tomatoes, olives, and cucumber all foods I would keep in my fridge at home. With basic instructions covered, we were free to make our individual creations.

funky lunch actimel

I was amazed at the boys creativity, and he really did enjoy the challenge of balancing crackers on cucumber legs. He also loved carving cheese with a knife. Soon we had an assortment of cheese carvings with a slight Minecraft theme. Our next challenge was a space monster sandwich. This simple sandwich would be perfect for a lunch box or treat, and the boy was enjoying himself so much he was still constructing his creation even while the other family’s had moved on.

monster sandwich actimel for kids

We say plenty of the children enjoying not only creating fun food, but the enjoyment of eating their creations. Even the boy who can be a little fussy at times, cleared all the food, and even offcuts from his plate. Inspired by his creations for Actimel for kids, he has been making sandwich cut outs at home. Even going as far as wanting to make his own lunch box creations.

actimel for kids day

Actimel for Kids is a great little yoghurt drink, and something the boy has enjoyed with his breakfasts this week. The boy enjoyed all three flavours, Strawberry, Raspberry and Vanilla with Strawberry being his favourite.

Each little bottle of Actimel for Kids is packed with yummy yogurt, billions of L.casei live cultures, delicious fruit purée* and essential nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D and protein. Actimel for Kids is also free from artificial flavours, preservatives and colours.

 

Why not have a look at the Actimel for kids website for inspiration for your little ones, find out about A.C, Ti, and Mel, and add some funk to your kids lunches! For some lunch inspiration have a look at this video of Mark, and Sophie as they give you some great healthy lunch ideas.

Actimel great kids Lunch ideas

Disclaimer: We were invited to this event to try out new Actimel for Kids, and our travel was compensated. The opinions and photos from the day remain our own, and have not been altered.

 

Sky Studios at the O2 London

This summer we found ourselves in London looking for something to do and decided to try out the new FREE Sky Studios experience in the O2.

sky studios

The Sky Studios experience is easy to find at the main entrance to the venue, and is open for anyone visiting to enjoy. This one is not just for little kids, but the BIG ones can join in too! It didn’t take long before the boy and Dad were having a go at football skills. I must say there was no chance of me kicking a football that high, but both the boys had a good try. There are fun prizes if you do score a goal, or even three.

Football at sky studios

Next we tried out the basketball, and to our surprise (but not his) the boy scored three baskets in a row. The boy was rewarded with a Sky Water bottle, which he was very proud of, and plans to take to school with him. Both Dad and I managed one basket, not bad, it was great fun trying, but no plans of becoming sporting stars for us!

basketball at the Sky studios

Next we headed into the Sky Studios, where you can get involved in some other sporting activities. You have the chance to voice your very own news article,  pose for a winning photo, all which you can download from the website when you get home.

sky studios experience

We all enjoyed having a go at Golf, none of us could get near the green. Racing Formula one cars was fun, and playing football was ok. Our only disappointment was that the boy couldn’t race on the bikes as they were for over 16’s only. We did all love seeing how quick our reaction times were. It looks easy simply hitting buttons as they light up, but this was more of a challenge than we expected.

sport at the sky studios

We had a great time at the Sky Studios experience, and the boy would only have enjoyed it more if there had been some fencing for everyone to try out!

reading the news at sky studios

This is a Netmum’s sponsored review. To find out more click the button:

I am a member of the Netmums Blogging Network, a unique community of parent bloggers from around the UK who have been handpicked by the Netmums team to review products and brands on their behalf. I have been paid expenses and supplied with a product sample for this review but retain all editorial control. All my Netmums Reviews will display the Netmums logo within the post.

 

I am going to Brit Mum’s Live

I am going to Brit Mum’s Live in just under two weeks, and when I booked it months ago it seemed like a good idea. Now that it is getting closer the butterflys have started to kick in. I am very much looking forward to meeting up with my gang of blogging mums, and the lovely hotel which we are all staying in looks amazing. I just hope I make it safely across London with my luggage, and that I don’t loose my way to the venue. I am looking forward to a fun filled weekend with hopefully lots of laughter, and adult conversation something I miss being a SAHM.

So here I am:

Name: Tina, yep just 4 letters to remember!

Blog: The Soup Dragon Says

Twitter ID: @thesoupdragon44

Height: 5ft 8

Hair: Long blonde, with a horrid hint of grey, which might look like I have been through a hedge backwards depends on how much sleep I get!

Eyes: Blue.

Is this your first blogging conference? Yes

Are you attending both days?  Yes, I didn’t think there was any other option!

What are you most looking forward to at BritMums Live 2014? I think that would have to be meeting up with my blogging Mum friends, safety in numbers. Its a shame there are a couple who cant come, we will have to have a toast to absent friends.

What are you wearing? Well as of today something nice, wait and see… but it will be comfy and I just need to add some shoes.

What do you hope to gain from BritMums Live 2014? I am hoping to get an insight into some new skills, improving my content, and maybe even finding my niche which seems to be evading me. Some of the inspirational speakers look interesting, and as long as I can get a piece of cake from somewhere I will be happy.

Do you have any tips to pass on to others who may not have been before? I think the only thing I know is comfy shoes are a must it looks like a long, hot busy day!

London Dungeons

The London Dungeons was our last point of call on our recent trip to London and number 15 on our Merlin Challenge List. The London Eye, and Sealife Aquarium are all at the Embankment so it was easy to get from one to the other.

I have no pictures from this attraction as “Picture Boxes, and Talky things!” are not allowed. As the name suggests this attraction is not for the faint hearted, it is full of smells and sights that smaller children would not enjoy. The boy however has been relishing the fact that he survived both York and Warwick Castle Dungeons and this was going to be his 3rd.

The London Dungeons is the largest of the attraction of its kind in the UK, and has only recently been moved to its current home. You can tell that it has been more purpose-built than the York one as the groups that go through are much bigger. We joined a tour with about 30 other unsuspecting guests, who are treated to torture. Yes it was Dad M’s turn again to have his bits chopped off again. With tales of the Plague, and Gung farmers as well as Jack the Ripper and Sweeny Todd. The London Dungeons is a very unpleasant place. There are also two rides within the attraction, a boat ride, beware its backwards! and a drop ride. The boy didn’t want to do the drop ride as was feeling a bit delicate, but both me and Dad took our turns.

I have enjoyed the dungeons more than I thought I would, it’s not too scary as I have a good idea what is coming, I haven’t been picked on, and its funny when Dad M keeps getting chosen for torture!

Review of Madame Tussauds, London

It has been a while since we visited one of the Merlin parks from our Merlin Challenge List. As we had an afternoon in London before our trip to Disneyland Paris we thought we would pop up the road and review Madame Tussauds.

The queues for this attraction on an August day were round the block and even as a premier pass holder we had a 15 minute wait to get in. As we thought, there were just as many people inside the building which is also big, but was very crowded. I can’t say that I enjoyed the bustle that much, and it was claustrophobic in parts. The boy however wasn’t at all bothered by the volume of people and was busy snapping away at all the models.

I have never been to any of the Madame Tussaud attractions so it was interesting to see the mixture of famous life-like models and the settings. Some of the waxwork were amazing even down to the eyes which looked so real. One of the waxwork was a real man, and it was fun watching him make people jump! We were a little disappointed that the One Direction waxwork wasn’t there, and I noticed it has now been brought back. The boy is a bit of a fan and he would have liked to have his photo taken with them!

The boy said he really enjoyed the visit, but I will confess I didn’t enjoy this at all, some of the exhibits are very clever and the history of Madam Tussaud was very interesting. Maybe this is one to visit at a different time of the year when it might be a bit quieter. There was plenty to look at, some that we all recognised and other famous faces that the boy had no clue who they were. I think our favourite part of Madame Tussaud’s was the 4D film at the end, this is a superhero film and was very loud and thrilling with some great effects.

 

Here are just some of the pictures the boy took. I think he took nearly 300 in total but due to the low light lots of them were blurred. There are some good ones in there and this is the perfect place to practice your photography skills!

As the museum was so busy and for the missing One Direction I am going to give Madame Tussauds 3/5

London visit

Ok so I am starting to look forward to our visit to London this week. I have never liked crowded London but am actually looking forward to seeing the lights this time. I think we might even take the boy to Harrods to see Santa, if there is time.
The main reason for the trip is for the “Wicked Young Writers Awards” ok, so I know I enter a lot of competitions, but I must confess to having forgotten all about this one as I entered it sometime back in May. I sent in a story that the boy had written at school for book week, and I think he was 5 at the time, but I liked the story, and so it seems, do the judges. His nursery manager always said he would be a writer! We will be getting to meet Michael Morpurgo, and have been reading lots of his books over the last few weeks. (I must confess to not having read any before) we also get to meet the cast of Wicked and if the Boy wins, we get tickets to the show. While I don’t think the boy will win the age group 5-7  that he has been short listed in, I think it will be a great learning experience for him, and to have his story published will be great.

So next year why not enter your Child you never know they might get to have a trip to London in 2013, and guess what the grandparents will be getting for Christmas this year!