Privately Secure your Property with SeQR

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Kids are good at losing things, and in the world we live in, we are less likely to want to write any personal details such as our name, address and phone number on every item they own over a risk of losing our privacy. So wouldn’t it be nice to have a way of privately secure your property so you can safely get it back to you?

Well SeQR have a product that does just that and we’ve taken it for a test run.

What is SeQR?

SeQR have harnessed the ability of the technology of a QR code to link our personal items to ourselves without exposing personal information. Sign up, receive your labels and link them to your account then simply attach them to anything you take to school, work or travel with.

If its lost, a good Samaritan can scan the code and get it back to you without seeing any personal information like your name, or number.

But first, what’s a QR code?

Invented back in 1994, although only visibly commonplace in the last few years (probably thanks to Covid check in sites (who can forget those!), the QR (quick response) code is a square 2D barcode of sorts which can be interpreted by a camera to reveal a code or send you to a website.

For example if you scanned our lovely QR code we made above above you’d be taken to our super lovely homepage.

How does it work?

Right now, you can sign up and get some codes for free. You can then print at home or get your labels posted. Try them out and if you like them use munchkin10 for 10% off.

We had this pack which included 45 labels, posted and received a them on a handy magnetised page to stick to the fridge so we never lose our labels.

They are printed on 3M paper so they will be strong and stick well, particularly useful when kids are involved. And they look a little like this:

There’s an activation QR code on the page to scan first which takes you to the website to sign up. Sign up and the codes you own are instantly added to your account. You can then select the code you want to use or search by using the alphanumeric (that’s a mix of letters and numbers) code.

Here you can add a description and some photos to aid future identification including a name only you will see and then you can change the message that will be shown if the QR code is scanned.

Then, simply, stick it to your item. Part of the process Munchkin could help with.

What happens when its found?

We ‘lost’ our scooter and luckily a good Samaritan (Munchkin and Sprout’s Mummy) found it and scanned the SeQR code. She saw the QR code and gave it a scan and this is what happened next.

privately secure your property

The QR code took her directly to a option to privately message me where we could then sort out collection on a private chat. No name, no address, no number needed, no private details shared.

Given one way I see these being used is on outdoor equipment, like bikes, scooters, and skateboards and I thought we would try a waterproof test to see if they will hold up against the typical British weather.

With its 3M stickyness, it remained stuck for good after a good dosing with a hose and a week outside in the pouring rain. This, while also easy to remove when I poorly stuck one to the scooter in first place.

This is my only sticking point on what is a brilliant idea and product.

Both the app and the website are a tad frustrating. I’ve fed this back to SeQR and they have happily accepted my feedback and will work on improving it.

Rating

I think this is a really clever use of a simple technology. Perfect for parents with numerous children’s accessories, devices, cycles and scooters. All ours are now safely labelled, however with a slightly frustrating app it gets:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

With some small app tweaks this would easily become 5 stars.

Thanks for reading, go forth and privately secure your property. Use munchkin10 for 10% off.

Get SeQR here!

Daddy, Munchkin and Sprout

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Get to Grips with Skateboarding for little people – Skatehut skateboard review.

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Munchkin loves to be outside and consequently we love our outdoor activities and are always looking to try to find new interests. Skatehut offer a fantastic range of beginner skateboards, perfect to try out a new skill to add to Munchkin’s repertoire. After all, its important to try as many things as we can when they are young and fear free to see where their interests lie.

When it arrived, a little Munchkin couldn’t wait the get his safety gear on and have a go. As always, here are our thoughts in our Skatehut skateboard review.

Safety first

Well straight out of the box, Munchkin was excited and ready to jump on. With anything like this though its important to think of safety first.

First its important to protect that little developing brain and Skatehut have a fantastic range of kids helmets to choose from. I went for a classic style and Munchkin immediately looked so mature and ready for the skate park, but most importantly, safe.

The helmet was a good fit (rare for Munchkin’s unexpectedly large head he inherited from me)(sorry!), and easy to adjust, ensuring comfort, whilst stylish and safe.

The other important joints weren’t forgotten either with easy to fit knee pads, elbow pads and wrist protectors. We received the padset which included knee, elbow and wrist protection in one handy set.

When Munchkin was fully protected, then he was ready to give it a go.

Modern design

Skatehut’s range of kids skateboards really stand out for their design. Given Munchkin’s favourite colour is purple, it was easy choice to select this Skatehut skateboard.

So chuffed with his new board, it was Christmas come early

I love its classic comic style design. Its funky and fun, like skateboarding should be. Its well built too, strong and sturdy – even passing the Daddy test.

10 minutes later he was balancing. Though it may take longer before we go to the skate park like he wanted!

Price

With a current lovely discount. This skateboard, pad set and helmet comes in at £25 for the protective gear and £34.95 for the skateboard. A perfect gift any little person would love to find under the tree this Christmas.

Start them young

As I said in the intro, I think its important to try out new things when our kids are young.

As as adult I remember the feeling of being fearless as a child so I think its important to monopolise on that and try new things and skills while they are still young. Before long, all that fear sets in us adults know well which can certainly stop us in our tracks when trying new things.

skatehut skateboard

I can’t wait to try this out in the garden, and one day in the skate park…

Have you wanted to try skateboard with your little one? Check out Skatehut as a great place to begin your skateboarding adventure!

Thanks for reading,

Daddy, Munchkin and Sprout

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Legoland short break review 2023

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Like Alton Towers (short break review here ➡️) I have fond childhood memories of getting my driving school licence and panning for gold on a Legoland short break and its also safe to say we may have all gone a little Lego crazy recently at home????…

So, as a parent, I was eagerly waited for the time Munchkin was old enough, or rather tall enough, to make the most of it. With Natalie off on maternity leave it was the perfect time to go off-peak, reduce the queuing and the price. So without further ado, here is what we thought of our experience.

Instant Magic

legoland short break

From arrival you are transported into a Lego utopia. As a Legoland short break guest you get separate free parking and enter, regardless of accommodation choice (Lego Hotel or Castle Hotel), through the Lego hotel entrance. If you into Lego like us, the entrance is amazing, with a towering Lego clock tower, holding a giant Lego mist breathing dragon. Its pretty spectacular, even if it does create a small puddle on the path doing so.

Then when inside, you’ll first experience the sweet smelling aroma you need to quickly get used to – its everywhere! Don’t worry though, it only made me slightly hungry. Then you are instantly transported to a Lego world. There’s a Lego pit to build an already growing wall of Lego up a pillar and a fantastic minifigure wall, complete with moving Lego magnifying glass to get a closer look and see all the minifigures you have ever dreamed of.

Fantastic bricktastic accommodation

There’s currently two hotels to choose from (with a third ‘Woodland village’ coming in 2024) and I cant really see a difference between them unless you want a theme. For the more generic knight’s room or wizard room you can choose the Castle hotel, however if you’d like to go down a Lego theme such as Lego Friends or Ninjago you would more likely opt for the main resort hotel.

The main choice then is whether to go standard or premium but this seems to only come down to extra theming and unlimited free access to the playroom (which can be added to standard for a small fee). We opted for premium as this was at the time a once off… but time will tell if that is the case.

I can say that in the atrium, lifts and restaurants, both hotels transported us to brick built heaven. The premium theming was superb, with numerous Lego decorations around the room. There was a premium coffee machine, PS4, Lego building area and an in-room treasure hunt for which we received a magazine, towel, Lego set, keychain and our first and only Pop badge.

Our only Pop badge

The extras – The Legoland playroom, pool and entertainment

Away from the park there is the Lego pirate themed swimming and activity pool, character meet and greets and the Legoland playroom. We didn’t make it to the pool and what we saw of the entertainment was good with Duplo building challenges, but the best thing to mention here is the playroom.

A castle, a cityscape with road, a town with a train track and an undersea adventure fill the room ready to add your own creations. There’s a duplo zone for the younger ones too, and some digital Lego games. We visited it twice as it was such good fun to get us all building together. There’s drinks and snacks available too, all in a room filled with that sweet vanilla aroma.

The Park – Superb kids rides, experiences and shows

I didn’t know what to expect but was blown away from the park. With Munchkin measuring over 1 metre there was only two rides he couldn’t go on, and there were a handful we took 5 month old Sprout on too! Munchkin was instantly filled with joy as we flew around the park from ride to ride to ride with short off peak queue lengths.

For Munchin, he loved the spinning spider and the biggest rollercoster; the dragon. For me, I loved the flight of the sky lion and the Hydra’s Challenge.

As long as you can hold your littlest one in a sitting position, they can join you on Deep sea adventure, Coastguard HQ, Balloon school, Aero Nomad, the Legoland express and the Fairytale Brook (but there may be more I missed). Sprout was only just sitting and they didn’t mind at all.

Free Lego!

It wouldn’t be a good visit to Legoland if you didn’t come away with some Lego, and what’s better? Free Lego! We had two opportunities to get our hands on free bricks; firstly as a result of completing the in room treasure hunt which is obviously hotel only. But also in the park.

As it was the Springfest event, The Brick in Miniland was giving out free Lego bee’s to build and take home.

Rides that even a thrill seeker could appreciate

Albeit Legoland is not in the league of other theme parks for thrill, there are some rides I could honestly say were good fun, even if less about the G-force and more about the fun factor.

The Dragon has some seriously cool Lego sculptures, before several nice drops through some tight tunnels. The Spinning Spider could seriously throw you about if you span the middle wheel like crazy which we most certainly did. But the top one had to be Hydra’s challenge. If you timed it go into the centre and then fly to the outside and back in, there was some serious thrills to have whilst dodging the bursts of water.

Quirky dining experiences

There’s two restaurants for breakfast and dinner; the Tournament Tavern sits within the Castle Hotel and the Bricks Restaurant within the Resort hotel.

We visited the Tournament Tavern on our first night. There was plenty of Lego to see around the room and the food was superb. On our departure day we visited the Bricks restaurant. This had a set price menu (which you can view here ➡️) but was honestly a little disappointing. If we visited again we would probably double up the Tournament Tavern for both days.

Price

A Legoland short break like most any theme parks doesn’t come cheap. Further to the cost, if you stay on resort, you have to add park tickets for the second day, although the pool, playroom and breakfast are included.

Overall the one night break, with two park days, came just short of £480 but this rises to around £600 at peak times.


Thinking of another theme park? See our review of Alton Towers Staycation here.


Location

Legoland is located in just outside the M25, east of Heathrow Airport.

Sum up and the all important stars

From the moment we arrived to the moment we left I was transported to a Lego dreamland. I had high expectations and the Legoland staycation exceeded every single one. I just had to knock half a star off for the Bricks restaurant but otherwise I can’t wait to stay again. One day in our seemingly brick filled future.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Thanks for reading,

Daddy, Munchkin and Sprout

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Our Journey in 2023 to more sustainable lifestyle

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Since learning about global warming in detail back during my pre-GCSE years I have always been concerned about how we act and the impact on the planet, but was much less educated about the ways to improve, I liked things like a fast car without thinking about the pollution and had a much more wasteful lifestyle.

Fast forward to the birth of Munchkin, I suddenly had a good purpose to change as it was hard to imagine a world where Munchkin wouldn’t meet an orangutan and instead grow up living on food containing microplastics. This began the start of our more sustainable lifestyle.

What we do now shapes the world our kids will live in after all…

By 2030, the demands from 5.6 billion consumers will be draining the Earth for resources so fast that we need two planets to support us. If everyone lived like western consumers, we would need five.

The World Counts

and that says a lot. Two planets? Last time I checked, we only have one.

This is why we chose to live an ever developing (as I’m still learning and finding new things to change) sustainable lifestyle.

Sustainable life

What do we mean by ‘sustainable living’?

If we take these two things into account:

  1. ‘Both people and nature are facing severe consequences if our current consumption of resources increases’ – WWF.org
  2. ‘The world population is growing by over 200,000 people every single day. It will reach 8.5 billion by 2030 with 5.6 billion people being part of the consumer class’ – The world counts

Then we all need to reduce what we use to keep our consumption at, or below, current rates.

This means we need to use less, use better, reuse more and recycle more.

Otherwise, we risk dangerous global consequences with bigger extremes in climate, with more flooding, fires and drought, more microplastics in our food and more risk of disease.

The beginning of our sustainable living life style.

There’s many things we could change so we looked at starting with the biggest impact. With a baby at the time the answer was simple – plastic – and more specifically wipes and nappies. We keep it going and keep our promises each year by making and posting more plastic free and environmentally sound promises.

Munchkin sporting a reusable nappy - a sustainable lifestyle swap
Munchkin excited to sport a reusable nappy

Then once we had those changed that we looked further – moving around the house and looking at all of our behaviours and changes we could make.

The key was to change gradually. Switching products and lifestyle choices little by little.

Four years on we live, guided by our eco-warrior guidelines, to live our lives as a more environmentally friendly family. So, here we go here are our:

Our eco-warrior guidelines for a more sustainable lifestyle

1. Reduce plastic use

One of main swaps has always been around reducing our plastic use and waste as ‘By 2050, virtually every seabird species on the planet will be eating plastic.’ – The national Geographic .

Ways we have changed this include but are not limited to:

  • Using reusable or plastic free baby products such as nappies and wipes and eliminating bags – We changed nappies with The super reusable nappies and eco-friendly alternatives from Kit & Kin.
  • Cleaning our house without buying plastic contained cleaning products. – We switched our cleaning products to Koh, Smol and, more recently the Bower Collective.
  • Using plastic free deodorants and shower products – I currently use and recommend Wild deodorant Bare bar and Grumm skincare.
  • Removing washing up sponges and using alternatives.
  • Recycling as much as possible with Terracycle and Plastic bag recycling.
Kitchen cleaning plastic free

2. Reuse and recycle

It feels like single use plastics are getting phased out slowly from many consumers however:

‘Plastic production and use is forecast to double over the next 20 years, and quadruple by the early 2050s’

The National Geographic

And furthermore; more than 5 trillion pieces of plastic are already in our oceans. Plastic that endures from 450 years to forever (the national geographic).

This means we first need to reuse and reduce our consumption.

We do this by:

  • Avoiding use of plastic straws by using paper or our own
  • limiting our purchase of plastic by sourcing eco-friendly alternatives
  • Using reusable containers to store food
  • Use metal drinking bottle alternatives

Then for the plastic we do generate (because inevitably there will be some):

We recycle everything we can, filling that bin up every fortnight.

Go one step further by taking a majority of plastic bags to large supermarkets too. This service takes chocolate and crisp packets, frozen food bags, carrier bags, bread bags and more.

Then to top it off we due Terracycle to recycle the things we can’t at home or at larger stores.

3. Save energy

With energy costing horrific levels right now I wouldn’t be surprised that most people are doing their bit to save energy anyway.

We have reduced our thermostat and heating use, swapping for hoodys, installed solar panels and have got smarter with smart plugs turning off devices when not in use.

Solar panels on our roof

We get the rest of the energy we do use from an eco-friendly provider ensuring no energy we use comes from fossil fuels.

Following from the solar panels, I’ll be looking for an electric car in the next few years.

Watch this space?

4. Reduce food waste.

Food takes a astronomical amount of carbon, water, and energy for its production, storage and transport and then so much goes to waste:

Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year – approximately 1,3 billion tonnes – gets lost or wasted.

Stop wasting food movement

We make an effort to only buy what we need, and make sure its all used before sell by date, keeping leftovers for the next day.

We compost our food waste, returning it to the soil, which we would use to make more food ourselves if we had the space – something we hope to do one day in the future.

5. Use eco-friendly household products

Eco-friendly household companies exist tackling two problems; plastic packaging and the presence of toxins which are harmful to the environment.

We use/recommend:

  • Smol – Eco-friendly dishwasher, washing machine tabs and surface sprays

See our Smol review here ➡️

Smol surface spray
  • Splosh – Plastic free washing up liquid, soap, toilet cleaner and other household products.

See our review here ➡️

  • The Bower Collective – Plastic free washing up liquid, soap, toilet cleaner and other household products

Review coming soon

  • Koh – all purpose surface cleaner

Here is our review ➡️

6. Chose eco-friendly toys

When the kids are young this was simple. For every plastic car there’s a plastic free alternative. You can also get wooden kitchens and food, train sets, garden toys etc, etc. One of our favourite toys that Munchkin has enjoyed over the years is the wooden Mutable. Review here ➡️

This has admittedly had to change slightly when Munchkin approached 3 to 4 years old. His interest in Lego grew, as well as other plastic-only toys which don’t seem to have the same plastic free alternatives. So I had to alter my perspective.

I decided toys like Lego and Magnetic tiles allow endless opportunities. We could have a Lego city now, and build a Lego aeroplane in a few years on a magnetic tile runway. These toys will then get easily sold one day (not that I’ll ever want to get rid of Lego!). This way we can have some plastic, without feeling too guilty as it will get used for years and years and passed on.

7. Go paperless

With every retailer and bank owning a phone app, its easier than ever to tick that box and go paperless.

Having digital versions of what you previously locked in a box in the wardrobe also makes them easy to archive and then search and find again too plus it saves those precious carbon storing trees?.

8. Donate don’t dispose

This is one thing we notice when we had Munchkin. Babies go through new clothes every few months at what seems like a lightning rate. Likewise as adults, we stop wearing otherwise perfect clothing.

Similarly children move on from one toy craze to the next (although we try to limit this waste with adaptable toys like Lego as mentioned before).

To prevent this we store all our children’s clothes and toys in the loft, and now with Sprout, we bring them down eliminating the need for new clothes and toys.

Then when we know we won’t need them again, we pop to the recycling donation boxes and give our clothes to people who may need them more.

This means, in all, close to zero waste.

9. Save water

Water is easy to take for granted, as most of the western world has a continuous clean supply however;

Increased frequency of drought across Europe lines up with climate projections

Energy saving trust

meaning this is an international issue. Furthermore on home soil, 12 our of 23 water companies operated last year in ‘serious’ stress meaning this really can affect us all.

We save water by;

  • Taking short showers, and using the minimum water in the bath with the kids.
  • Use cold water rather than hot when possble
  • Only run the dishwasher and washing machine when they are full (an easy one with two children!)
  • Use the dual flush function on the toilet correctly.
  • Installing a water butt this year

All these little differences add up.


Living by these 9 sustainable lifestyle guidelines we save plastic, water and carbon, but we know we can do more.

So here are some of our future guidelines…

Our future ‘sustainable lifestyle guidelines’

1. Grow produce.

If we eventually move house and have space I will certainly grow our own food, eliminating all the carbon associated with transport and storage. It would also be a great way to teach our children to appreciate where food comes from and put our composting to better use.

2. Eat less meat

This is a huge one as ‘Meat production accounts for 14.5% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions’carbonbrief.org, and is something we were really good at in recent years but have more recently fallen off the wagon. We will aim to make some simple switches, with tons of meat-less options available now, to increase our meat free days in the coming months.


These have been our sustainable lifestyle swaps because we only have one planet. Do you have any others? Let us know in the comments.

Thanks for reading,

Daddy, Munchkin and Sprout

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Smol Review. Small changes big differences?

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I’m always looking to reduce my plastic footprint and live a more sustainable lifestyle. Smol have us sorted for all of our dishwasher and laundry needs whilst being totally plastic free, and we have also more recently tried out their eco-friendly surface cleaner. Here is our Smol Review!

Why choose Smol

If it’s one thing that comes in plastic packaging that could easily be swapped its dishwasher and laundry tabs and, put simply, Smol have it sorted. A simple subscription platform, with tabs posted through the letter box means you never run out and never see a plastic tub again.

With one child that always gets messy and another who’s 2 months old and loves to throw up, its handy knowing we never run out and use a formula that works every time.

It is one step further on our journey to reduce our eco-impact.

Their claims

Smol claim to make high performance, sustainable swaps effortless, accessible and affordable. They say they cut carbon by 35% whilst keeping prices fair. Big bold claims.

So how does it work?

How does Smol work?

I’ll use laundry tabs as an example, but its a similar process for any of their products.

Click this link, tap ‘get started’ and choose the first product to switch, so for this example we picked laundry.

Take a free trial and then tell them:

  1. What type of capsule you need? Bio or non-bio
  2. How many capsules you need in a wash (some cases require two)
  3. How often you run a wash

And they will then send them at the frequency matching your use. Consequently, you never run out.


But what happens if you do run out?

It’s inevitable your dishwasher or laundry use changes from time to time so sometimes you do need more. You can pop back into your account and adjust your usage or click ‘send now’ to be popped in the next post collection.

How environmentally friendly is Smol?

I originally chose Smol as they are 100% plastic free (for dishwasher and laundry). AlI in sent in a clever cardboard child-proof case too.

A child proof case that albeit is clever it’s very hard to master mind you.

Smol review

However, it turns out they do a lot more. The packaging is fully recyclable and compostable, they use vegetable based inks so there’s no nasties there and their cardboard is from sustainable managed sources (Forest Stewardship Council approved). They are also cruelty free having never tested on animals and save chemicals, water, animal fat and carbon.

How do they stack up in terms of cost?

Probably the most important question aside ‘do they work?’ is will they cost me more? It’s disappointing that most eco-friendly swaps are not that economical.

To compare, let’s look at the maths for the laundry capsules. 24 laundry capsules come in at £5.30 or 22.1p per wash.

Top leading brands, Ariel, Fairy and Persil rank in at 23.5p, 28.2p and 21.7p (according to Tesco.com on 05 Jan 2023 for similar quantities). So against the top brands they do rank well.

For the more money savvy though, own brand and buying in bulk can save money? However, that comes with the mountain of capsules for bulk buying, the less acceptable performance for own brand and lack of totally plastic free alternative for any shop bought alternative.

Do they work?

If you need any evidence of how well they work I’ll tell you this. I have kids.

Kids who come back from nursery caked in dinner, love jumping in muddy puddles and generally making a total mess.

Kids who like a fresh bowl with every snack and like all children get pasta sauce caked all over the plate and cutlery resulting in many many dishwasher runs.

If they didn’t work, I’d be looking for an alternative.

Surface cleaner

The surface cleaner is a new addition which I thought I’d try the trial to give my thoughts.

This comes as a reusable plastic bottle which you can keep and reuse forever (It’s seems well built but I imagine the odd replacement spray nozzle will have to be ordered resulting in a little plastic waste over time).

It has a simple process. Fill to a the bottom of the coloured grip. Pop in the tablet. Wait to dissolve and then top up with water again. Very simple. (This is a big improvement on others such as Splosh (see our Splosh Review here) as they require a vigorous work out style mixing.

It couldn’t be easier. The tablet quickly dissolves and I appreciate avoiding the shaking. It smells pleasant and cleans perfectly, tackling our kitchen with ease.

It’s so good we’ve subscribed ?

Verdict and those all important stars

Smol have an easy to use subscription platform, handy email updates to check your stock and the simple system to push it back, order more and never ran out process.

They are moderately expensive being only comparable to top brands, however are fully support our eco-conscious lifestyle being 100% plastic free, recyclable and compostable. You never run out and they are effective for our messy family.

For us its worth every penny.

Grab a free trial by clicking here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Thanks for reading,

Daddy, Munchkin and Sprout

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Alton towers short break review title over 5 images. two of rollercoaster, one of woodland accomodation, one of a Dad and son on a ride and one of a child on a ride
Alton Towers Short Break 2023 Review

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As long as I can remember, from the young Stephen who’s first ‘big ride’ was the Corkscrew, back in the day of the toyland tours, mini apple and energizer, I’ve always wanted to stay at Alton Towers.

20 years later, with a wife and a 3 year old, my dream to stay finally came true. Here’s what we thought in our Alton Towers Short Break Review.

Mystical Woodland lodge accommodation

With six accommodation types to choose from there’s something for everyone from the traditionally themed, flying ship containing, Alton towers Hotel, to the Splash landings Hotel with the waterpark and the child themed CBeebies land hotel.

We opted for the mid-priced Enchanted village Woodland lodge. These cosy cabins had the right amount of mature theming for us, while still magical for Munchkin. Our stay included a round of golf and breakfast at the on-resort Crooked Spoon restaurant.

The lodge transported us to a mystical, land with its woodland theme, watched over by forest sprites. With munchkin loving how we could secretly turn their light on and off to imagine them coming and going but never seen. For us, it was clean, comfortable, albeit the longest walk to the park.

The accommodation also comes with an included 9 hole golf pass. While a good themed course of rides past and present, the golf needed a bit of TLC. It looks like it hasn’t been maintained in a long while.


Looking for other theme park short break reviews? Check out our Legoland review here ➡️


Fab kids rides, experiences and shows

I didn’t know what to expect from the children’s Cbeebies Land area, having not visited it since I was a child, but Munchkin was instantly in awe. He got to meet and greet his favourite characters, pretend to be Postman Pat, give Duggee a famous Duggee hug and ride his first rollercoaster guided by the Octonauts. Its safe to say he had an exceptional time from the get go.

Some of the best thrill rides

It wouldn’t be a trip to Alton towers if Daddy didn’t get to sneak away, join the single rider queues and ride some of my old and now new favourite rides. The Smiler didn’t disappoint and the Wickerman is surprisingly thrilling.

Munchkin loved standing by the drop zone of oblivion too, watching the coasters fall and vanish into the smokey pit. Now I’m counting down the days to take him on it.

Quirky dining experiences

There’s an array of restaurants to choose from when you stay. There’s the Crooked Spoon where we had breakfast, a pizza restaurant in the Splash Landings hotel, a Secret garden restaurant in the main Hotel and the rollercoaster restaurant within the park grounds.

We visited the rollercoaster restaurant on our first night. It was so exciting to see out food fly down the tracks, with flashing lights and music to add to the experience. While this provided a fantastic experience, it was let down by how food comes out as its cooked, so my main meal came nearly 10 minutes before Munchkin or Mummys. Anyone with a young child at dinner will know that the child’s dinner should come first. Otherwise the food was delicious and the whole experience was worth a visit.

On our departure day we visited the Secret Garden. This had the biggest portions of delicious home cooked English meals and a lovely finish to our break.

A fantastic pool

For an extra cost, a visit to Splash Landings Pool can be added. This is a fantastic adventure pool with water flying everywhere. Indoor and outdoor pool zones, a fun fast indoor river and a multitude of slides. This was pure noisy swimming pool fun and I’ve never been to a pool like it.

One downside would be the large slide which circles the room had a wait time of 40 minutes. I’ve never seen anything like that in a pool or waterpark before and I certainly didn’t want to waste that long away

Price

A short break at Alton towers like most theme parks doesn’t come cheap. Also if you stay on resort, you have to add park tickets and pool tickets with only breakfast and crazy golf included in the short break price. Overall the one night break, with two park days and one pool visit, came just short of £380. A considerable amount consider we don’t pay much more for 4 nights at Center Parcs, yet I’d definitely spend it again.


Looking for a longer staycation? See our review of Center Parcs here.


Location

Alton Towers is located in Staffordshire between Stoke and Trent and Derby.

Sum up and those all important stars

Even with my high expectations from wanting to stay as a child, the Alton Towers short break did not disappoint. The accomodation, food, and the park itself were superb. The only disappointments were the arrival of meals at the Rollercoaster restaurant, and the mini golf, which looks like its needed love for many years. Overall its a great break we would definitely repeat in the future.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Thanks for reading,

Daddy and Munchkin

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As its fast approaching…The Best Games for your Christmas Party!

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It’s that time of the year when, even though we don’t always want to start thinking of it, Christmas is around the corner. One thing we love at Christmas, is getting the family or our friends together and enjoying some games together. Here’s my list of the best games for your Christmas Party.

Don’t Get Got – Big Potato Board Games

It wouldn’t be a Christmas party without Don’t Get Got. In my opinion, this is the ultimate game for a party as you can play it alongside everything else. It can start when people arrive, continue through present giving and unwrapping, through Christmas dinner and into the evening.

Don’t get got example wallet mid game (left) and game box and wallet (right)

Each player gets a wallet with one mission everyone knows and 5 secret missions with the aim to complete 3 to win. The mission everyone knows is simply a ‘Guess what?’ which you succeed if someone replies with ‘What?’. This can often be the winning mission and can be attempted multiple times to help you succeed..

Then there’s 5 more secret tasks in your wallet to complete. These range from ‘Stick this card in a jam jar and get a player to open it’ to ‘call a player the incorrect name and get them to correct you’. These can only be attempted once, as if you are caught, you fail the task, so choose you have to choose your opportunity wisely!

The first to pass three tasks wins.

There’s also a christmas version! ?

Use code BBMUCHKIN at Big Potato Games to save 15%


  • Age 14+
  • ? As long as it takes
  • ? 2 – 8

Azul – Zatu games

Azul is a beautiful tile game where you aim to decorate a palace with tiles. You take turns to collect tiles from the plates and place them on your mosaic. You then score based on where tiles land, and which tiles you collect. A complicated one to explain, a fun one to play.

Azul is available on Amazon.

  • Age 8+
  • ? 30-45 min
  • ? 2 – 4

P for Pizza – Big Potato Games

P for Pizza, is a super simple party game for 2 – 4 players. Being suitable for smaller numbers it’s a good one to get out while the rest of the family do the Christmas clear up. Its fast, easy to get to grips with, and at Christmas, won’t make you hungry like it usually does!

To play, match a category with a corresponding letter and shout out an answer which connects the two before your teammates. Quickest correct answer wins a slice to build their own pizza pyramid. As the pyramid gets taller, the choice of categories lessens, increasing the difficulty to win.


For 15% off Big Potato use code BBMUNCHKIN and DM me on Instagram for any game talk.

  • Age 8+
  • ? 15 min
  • ? 2 – 4

The Chameleon

A social deduction game like no other. Everyone knows the answer but the imposter. Each give a word to either convince you know the category, or hide from detection. Its a game everyone wants to play again and again.


  • Age 14+
  • ? 15 min
  • ? 3 – 8

Use code BBMUCHKIN at Big Potato Games to save 15%

Catan

Catan is a longer game for later in the evening, where up to four players claim numbered hexagonal tiles and build a free settlement and road. Then as the dice is rolled, claim resources based on the tiles surrounding your settlements to build more settlements, cities and roads. Claim victory points and race to ten to succeed.


  • Age 7+
  • ? 60 min
  • ? 2 – 4

Sushi Go – Gamewright

Sushi Go is a deluxe, 2 – 8 player 20 minute sushi feast game – like you need another more influence to eat at christmas!

A game of Sushi Go last three rounds. In each round, each player is dealt a hand of cards. Simultaneously, each player chooses 1 card to play and places it face down. When all players have chosen the cards are turned and each player passes their hand to the left.

Sushi Go basic game set up

The round ends when all the cards have been placed, and then cards are scored depending on the type of sushi. The player with the highest points wins.

This is a good one for Christmas as it’s family friendly with a simple consept


  • Age 8+
  • ? 20 min
  • ? 2 – 8

Linkee

Linkee is a simple and fun trivia based team game which works best with three of more teams of two or more players. A question master then has four questions to ask one by one, then a clue if it’s still required to the teams. The first team to shout ‘Linkee!’ and guess the link between the answers then wins the card. Each card has a letter on the other side, and the first team to spell ‘Linkee’ wins.

Linkee set up (left) and example card (right)

There’s two extra little rules to use to stop the game going on forever when you get endless ‘E’s. You can ‘buy’ a letter from the bank in exchange for three cards, or delete one from another team at a cost of two cards.

Linkee is a favourite as its simple but highly competitive, with everyone ready to shout ‘Linkee!’


  • Age 12+
  • ? 30 min -1h
  • ? 2 – 30

So that’s my top games for this Christmas.

What’s game has to be at your Christmas party?

Thanks for reading,

Daddy and Munchkin

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Mutable Review – The ultimate multi-activity table.

When you buy something using the retail links in our blog posts, we may earn a small commission. This money goes towards fuelling further content. If you want to support us, you can also buy us a coffee

From the moment we started trying for a Munchkin, I had created a list of products I wanted for him or her when they were old enough. At the top of that list, a Mutable by Stokke (previously Mukako) (Visit Stokke.com). Its been a favourite product for years now, and it hasn’t disappointed, so here is our Mutable review.

Since being brought out by Stokke, the product line seems to have decreased. So while this review doesn’t match all the products sold by Stokke they are still stocked elsewhere. I will include links where possible for other UK stockists where appropriate.

Mutable Review
The Mutable

What is a Mutable?

The Mutable is an Italian designed multi activity table for kids up to the age of 8 as it grows with them. The table is made of a beautiful wooden design, with a modern shape and a splash of colour. It has screw on legs, with additional pieces to enable it to grow in height as your child grows. This gives the chairs two heights and the table four heights to grow with your child.

There is an insert in the top which houses the ‘multi activity’ components. These are wooden or cardboard discs which change the table from a simple table, to a lego or duplo table, a chalk board or white board, a round puzzle board or a city or world landscape. There is also further options such as multi level lego towers, playdough moulds and adaptable scenarios.

For older children, there are app enabled toys and games, such as numbers and letters and ‘around the world’ and ‘ring o stories’ . So what can be a snack table, is an art space, a pay space and also a learning space.

Daddy and Munchkin’s Mutable review.

As I said in my introduction, the Mutable does not disappoint. From the morning it was delivered and constructed, which was a simple process with hand screw legs. Munchkin was eager to play with his cars on the town landscape, scribble with giant chalk on the white board and take his wooden train or cuddly toys for a ride up high.

Daddy loves it as its self contained. Every activity is stored within the table. There’s an attached pen/chalk pot which is useful for easy storage and access to (you guessed it) pens and chalk, and a storage bag for tidying up, which is filled by simply removing the centre and pushing the toys through the hole. We used this from when Munchkin was just one to teach about tidying up, and it worked a charm.

Overall I cannot fault it, and can’t wait to buy extra toys and games and use it as a learning tool for numbers/letters and humanities in the future. The only drawback is the price, but when you consider the amount of time it can be used with its variety of uses, its was an easy equation for us and its been worth every penny since.

What Else is Available?

We originally opted for the moderately supplied Essential Plus bundle. In 2022 this includes two chairs, 7 inserts, extra puzzles, storage bag and pen holder, but there are many more options to add. It currently retails at Stokke for £434.90 but can be found cheaper elsewhere in the UK such as pram world who stock it for £345.90.

In terms of accessories and toys, there are extension sets to allow space for 6 children and silicone covers to protect the table.

In the toy department, there are 3-dimensional playhouses, wooden playhouses, and lego towers, play dough moulds and educational games. I already have my eye on a playhouse, playdough mould, and more games for Munchkin.


Interested in a tablet for your little one? Check out my Fire HD Kids tablet review ➡️


One year on…

It is still the best product we have invested in. It is a favourite place for a painting and drawing or scribbling on the chalk board. Munchkin has started to use the Mutable for imaginative play taking his dinosaurs to the town landscape and therefore we have expanded our Mutable collection.

We now have the two, two sided games, one teaches about fruit and vegetables and the other is a space themed game. These both come with multiple levels, allowing the game to change as your child grows, for example changing from counting to doing sums and multiplication.

The second is a superhero house. A multi-level wooden playhouse that sits it is own disc holder on top of the Mutable. It has multiple rooms, from fictional superhero to real life such as police and firemen. We spend many an hour playing with this now. Unfortunately this product is not sold by Stokke since their take over however even if they still sell the furniture and the heroes but can be found elsewhere on third party sellers like Pramworld.

Mutable Review – Those all important stars

Quality

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Price

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Useability

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Instructions

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Daddy reviewed, Munchkin approved.

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Fire HD 10 kids tablet and Amazon Kids+ review

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If we like it or not, technology is a huge part of life. We use the internet for nearly everything. We buy food, order takeaways, share our lives on social media, do our work and our kids…they use tablets as early as primary school. This is why, after Munchkin was doing so well at potty training, we bought him a Kindle Fire HD 10 Kids tablet, and here is my review.

K

Initial ‘out of the box’ feelings

As soon as you remove the Fire 10 kids from the box you can see its safe for kids. The standard tablet design is enclosed in thick rubber case with integrated kickstand/carry handle which comes in three colours. It looks unbreakable and may be hard to damage. But for peace of mind, as we know what children are like, purchase also includes a 2 year guarantee for any breaks or screen smashes caused by an angry raging toddler/small human.

It has oodles of space for all those many apps they download each day at 32 gb and comes with 1 year of Amazon Kids + supplying many many books, games, videos, songs and apps. It has a bright display, long battery life, reasonable sound quality, albeit slow charging time.

Set up and Safety

The parent dashboard for Kids

The Amazon Fire 10 HD Kids links directly to a parents account which you use to set up the device. This means as a parent, you have full control. You can access the device remotely from the Amazon Parent Dashboard to see statistics and control the device.

At 3 years old, we only use the tablet with Munchkin, so are able to see and control what he sees but in the future when he plays alone, we will easily be able to remotely see what he accesses and how how long.

Furthermore, the dashboard has controls. You can see daily time limits in terms of shutoff time and total duration of use. You can control content, the web browser, turn music on and off, Prime video access and the age filter and theme. You can even set educational goals and even set ‘learn first’ where your child has to meet educational goals before using any games or entertainment.

Age filter and theme

The age filter and theme allows the tablet to restrict all content. It allows you to set a minimum age to maximum age range which Amazon then changes all the books, apps, games etc to fit within. This allows us, as parents, to slowly nudge the range up, as they grow up, to limit things that are too simple, and push things to challenge their little minds.

The theme simply changes the tablet either to a version aimed at older children who can read to one for younger kids who can’t yet read. That uses images rather than text.

What can they learn on a Fire HD 10 Kids?

From my own experience, I have always let Munchkin chose what to download and play with from the Kids+ library. Though so far, though the various games he’s chosen I have seen evidence of shape sorting, colour sorting, letter and number formation, counting, the alphabet, care for animals and where they live, how crops are grown and more. It’s a great learning tool.

When the Kids are asleep…

The Fire HD 10 Kids is essentially just a regular fire tablet with the kids software bits added on. So when the kids are in bed and you need to play Spotify or browse the internet in the evening and can’t find your phone? Swipe down, hit the account icon, enter your password and boom its just a normal Fire. Just make sure you charge it ready for your little one the next day, oh and prepare for long load times on websites.

Fire 10 vs Fire 8 or 7? It comes down to size, speed and storage.

The Fire HD 10 Kids retails at £199, the 8 at at £139.99 and the 7 at £99 so why opt for the 10?

Firstly, the number stands for the screen size. For the 7 its 7″ and standard definition, 8 takes you to 8″ and HD and 10 takes you to 1080p on a 10.1″ screen. The storage, RAM and CPU jump up too with size, from 16 GB storage with 2 GB RAM and quad core processor on the 7, up to 32 GB storage, 3GB RAM and Octo-core processor for the 10. Put simply, its size, speed and storage.

What Munchkin thinks…

I asked my three year old little poppet Munchkin what thinks of it…(with some help)

It’s fun, good and I like it ?

Munchkin age 3

Looking to entertain a child away from a screen? Check out our Mutable multi-activity table review ➡️


Amazon Kids +

Amazon Kids+ is the subscription you get a year included, which then continues from £1.99 per month. It gives kids access to tons of age appropriate books, films, educational apps, audio books, and games. It seems to have everything. I found one of our favourite books and tons of great educational and fun games and apps. Its got Thomas, Numberblocks and Alphablocks, Ceebeebies and many many more. Munchkin has everything he wants.

Amazon Kids+ app selection
A small example of apps Kids+ apps in the 3-5 years range. Screenshot from amazon.co.uk

It’s preinstalled on the Fire HD 10 Kids but compatible with Android, iOS, Kindle and Fire tablets. Everything is controlled by the parent dashboard, so you can limit every aspect.

You can get a free trial here and take it for a spin.

Environmental considerations.

For the environment conscious parent like me its good to know this:

The technical gubbins

CPU: 2.0GHz octa-core CPU
RAM: 3GB
Display: 10.1-inch, 1,920 x 1,200 pixels
Storage: 32GB
Ports: 1x USB-C, headphone jack, microSD
Battery life: 14:32
Dimensions: 9.7 x 6.5 x 0.4 inches
Weight: 1.02 pounds without case; 2 pounds with case

Fire 10 review – The stars

Overall

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Cost

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Usability

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Set up

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Safety

Rating: 4 out of 5.

All considered I’m chuffed with the Fire HD 10 Kids and so is Munchkin. Any questions, drop a comment or contact us.

Daddy reviewed, Munchkin approved.

Thanks for reading,

Daddy and Munchkin

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save money in the cost of living crisis
Save Money in the Cost of Living Crisis

When you buy something using the retail links in our blog posts, we may earn a small commission. This money goes towards fuelling further content. If you want to support us, you can also buy us a coffee

With everything increasing in price, from petrol to food, cosmetics to energy, its fair to say this cost of living crisis is going to hit a lot of people hard.

Munchkin calculating the damage

To help, there are little things, from simple tips to handy services, we can all do to save some pennies. Afterall they do say: ‘Save the pennies and the pounds start saving themselves’.

So here are my tips to use less, save some pounds, get some things more cheaply and lessen the pressure of the crisis.

Get cashback with Quidco or Top Cashback

I often recommend cashback sites, and I am bewildered that more people don’t use them. If you buy near to anything online, you can get cashback. And when I say anything, we are talking insurance to food shopping to online gambling to mobile phones to energy to technology. Nearly everything we buy online.

Simply, sign up for a cashback site such as Quidco or Top Cashback, choose the site with the best cashback, search for a retailer, click the link to access the site, complete your purchase and the transaction gets tracked.

Quidco cashback screenshot
For example, get £18.15 for a new customer home delivery or 2.42% for existing customers.

It takes some time for the cashback to be granted, but in six months time you could be looking at an extra little payday. It’s amazing how many times I have needed some money and there’s been some sitting in my Quidco account to save me.

Sign up to Quidco for £5 free cashback to start off your saving.

Use less energy

While we are stuck in a time where we can’t shop around for the cheapest energy deal, we have to look at ways to reduce our use. This is the case for me, so I’ve made some simple switches.

It’s the obvious things really. I have started using eco modes on the dishwasher and washing machine. Then set up smart plugs to switch off devices such as my PC and the TV when we’re not using it. I’ve changed lightbulbs to LED bulbs and been slightly more so Dad-like who always tells people to switch off the lights. The result is that my electricity hasn’t gone up quite as much as I expected.

Smart plugs (so you don’t have to remember to switch things off) are available on Amazon.

Further to that, reduce your thermostat temperature by 1 degree and stick a jumper on this Autumn. They say 1 degree equates to around £80 saved per year.

Get a free £15 purchase with Zilch

Zilch is a new ‘buy now pay later’ company who give you a free £15 if you sign up with this link. Simply set up an account, shop though Zilch and use the free £15 to pay. You don’t have to use their credit option, just use the free £15 and buy a takeaway though Just Eat or Deliveroo.

After all a free pizza tastes so much better than one you paid for.

Zilch screenshot
An example of the many many Zilch retailers.

Oh and you can then refer others, you can get £15 too.

Use discounts from food box companies to save on the weekly shop

This is a great idea for lower food bills. Meal box companies like Hellofresh and Gousto happily give discounts to join (up to 40% off). So sign up, make the most of the discount and then cancel. Then try the next box. These companies also tend to come back with another offer every six months or so so you can rinse and repeat. Oh, and they are also super tasty.

Sign up using this link for £47 off your first three Hellofresh boxes.

Save money with meal subscription boxes – here is one of ours

Use less fuel

With petrol and diesel prices sky high, and with it not being that simple to switch to electric, there’s some easy switches you can do. In this category, I must say that there’s some I do enjoy and some less so.

Change your habits. Try car sharing if you can. I recently started two days a week with a colleague from work. I’m saving money and I get some company on the journey. Win win. Make sure you only carry what you need, and that includes fuel. Less weight means less fuel used meaning less money spent.

The less enjoyable you can drive more eco-friendly. Accelerate slower, slow down naturally rather than using hard braking and use the eco modes on your car if you have one. Certainly less fun, but if they mean we can fill the tank a day later then it can be worth it

Consider Foodbanks or Community Fridges

If you have to choose between food and fuel, consider approaching a Food Bank or Community Fridge. For Foodbanks you need a voucher to gain a referral. Community Fridges however are for anyone, and provide surplus food from supermarkets and donations to prevent food waste. You can find out more about, and how to gain the referral to, Foodbanks here (the Trussel Trust) and here (citizens advice) and all about, and where to find a Community Fridge scheme here.


Do you have any other money saving tips? Add them in the comments

Thanks for reading,

Daddy and Munchkin

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