Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Disney's Big Hero 6 - Review

On Sunday we woke up early (normal) and got ready to leave the house by 9 (not normal on a Sunday!) and made our way to the Odeon Leicester Square for a gala screening of Big Hero 6 in 3D, the latest big release from Disney. I didn't know a whole lot about it but Isla already knew that the main character was called Baymax and both her and Noah were hyped to be going to the cinema. I love going to the Odeon, Leicester Square. The screen is so huge and the sound is brilliant, it's also the type of place where people clap when the film finishes - something that rarely happens these days. 

Prior to the film starting we were treated to some Baymax balloon modelling and face painting which the kids loved and then we took our seats and prepared for 3D fun! As with most Disney films now there was a short film to warm every one up called 'Feast' about a dog, and we all loved it. I won't say anything about the story here, but as I was watching it I felt like it could be a longer film, it was that good....

What's Big Hero 6 about then?

“Big Hero 6” is an action-packed comedy-adventure, about robotics prodigy Hiro Hamada, an orphan living with his Brother and Aunt. Hiro learns to explore his genius—thanks to his brilliant brother Tadashi and their like-minded friends: adrenaline junkie Go Go Tamago, neatnik Wasabi, chemistry whiz Honey Lemon and fanboy Fred. Just as Hiro decides to turn his back on Bot fighting to go to 'Nerd' college and join his brother, a devastating turn of events catapults them into the midst of a dangerous plot unfolding in the streets of San Fransokyo. Hiro turns to his closest companion—a robot named Baymax, created by Tadashi —and transforms the group of friends into a band of high-tech heroes determined to solve the mystery. I'm not going to spoil the film for any of you by revealing too much of what happens, you NEED to see it yourself! 

Big Hero 6 has some brilliant laughs for adults and kids alike. The robot Baymax is the source of most of this comedy genius. He was created by Tadeshi to be a robot nurse, to fix all ailments. He makes it his mission to 'fix' Hiro when his heart is broken after the loss of his brother. The way he takes literal meaning from a lot of the things that Hiro says is hilarious and were the bits that had me chuckling. Isla found the lumbering character of the huge vinyl, Michelin man shaped robot the funniest, laughing every time he was involved in some sort of catastrophe. She also loved the scene where Baymax is running out of charge and Hiro struggles to get him home. I loved that although Baymax is a robot, he learns human emotions and fragility and in his own blustering way he mends Hiro and returns him to being the person his brother would be proud of. For a character with hardly any features he is very loveable and we all felt such immediate affection for him. 

I liked the setting for the film, in fictional San Fransokyo, a cross between San Francisco, with all the hills and golden gate bridge and Tokyo with the snow capped mountains and Cherry Blossom. The film also projects the message that science is cool and since seeing the film, I've heard Isla say a number of times "I'm going to be a scientist". I think this can only be a good thing.

We give Big Hero 6 a big thumbs up and I feel sure that it could spurn a sequel, Baymax is such an enchanting creation that it would be a shame to only see him once. 

Check out the trailer here:

For a little bit of extra Big Hero 6 fun, check out these fun activities for kids:

Spot the Difference
Baymax Origami
Hiro and Baymax Balloon Experiment!

Big Hero 6 is on general release in 3D from 30th January. To get all the latest info about Big Hero 6 and other Disney releases: 

"Like" the official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DisneyUK
Subscribe to the YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/WaltDisneyStudiosUK/
Follow on Twitter : https://twitter.com/Disney_UK #BigHero6

Thank you Disney UK for inviting us to the film we had a super time!

Friday, 2 January 2015

New Year - Change

With a little help from a lovely little Facebook group called Embrace Happy I decided to choose a word that I felt would reflect what I want from 2015. I decided upon:

It feels like a bit of an odd one for me because I have encountered a lot of change over 2013 and 2014 but unlike when I first made some changes to my life in 2013 I'm not afraid of making more until I feel like I'm in the best place I can be. My awareness of only having one life and living it to the full has grown since having children, which also coincided with when my Dad was first diagnosed with Myeloma. It really is important to be happy and see the good in life.

The word change will also apply to little changes that I want to make to my lifestyle, including improving my diet and fitness, becoming less of a spendthrift and most important of all putting family time ahead of everything.

If you're feeling like you could do with a little daily boost from a really friendly bunch then look up Embrace Happy on Facebook. The idea of finding some 'happy' in your day even if on first reflection the day may not have been a total funfest is a good one and certainly helps me to put some of my problems into perspective. I have to thank Karin at Cafe Bebe for starting the group and making me try harder to find #3goodthings. There is a whole lot to be thankful for people!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Santa Claus and the Magical Christmas Journey - Review

Last Thursday we popped along to the Fairfield Halls in Croydon to see a special little Christmas production they have going on in the run up to the big day. It's called Santa Claus and the Magical Christmas Journey and it's a short, sweet festive show that's brilliant for pre-schooler age and upwards. 

When we arrived we were directed to the little studio theatre where a small stage is set up. It's a great intimate space where the kids can get up close to the action and right from the start the actors did come out into the audience, engaged the kids and encouraged them to call out. Mine love a bit of shouting out and joining in! It's also only 50 minutes long and so restlessness doesn't really happen, making it a pleasurable experience for parents too.

Both my kids were enchanted by the play and really warmed to both of the elves, Charlie & Kara who are a bit naughty! There was also Muffin the bear who Isla loved and felt very sorry for him when he lost his job navigating Santa's sleigh. There was also a familiar voice in the show, Russell Grant! He was the voice of the computer on Santa's sleigh. 

The story goes like this: 

It’s Christmas Eve, and Santa Claus is flying high above the clouds delivering presents to all the good boys and girls around the world. Hiding in the back are two naughty elves, Charlie and Kara, who have snuck on board for the ride!

All is well until suddenly, just as Santa Claus flies high above Croydon, the Sat Nav goes haywire and breaks leaving him stranded without his list of postcodes to deliver presents to! With the clock ticking and morning fast approaching it’s down to Charlie, Kara and Muffin the bear to come up with a clever plan to save Christmas!

Our favourite part was when Isla got chosen to go up on the stage to sing Twinkle Twinkle. She was a star! She loved every minute of it and actually may have been slightly put out if she hadn't been picked! And the next best bit in her book was getting to sit in Santa's sleigh and meet the big guy himself and they were both given a colouring book. There was also a lovely moment when snowflakes fell down all around us, Noah loved that bit. 

Check out http://santaclausonstage.com/christmas-journey/tour_dates_info for information and tickets. It runs until Wednesday 24th December. Tickets are priced at £12.50 & £14.50 for adults and £10 & £12.50 for children. Family tickets are £40 & £49. £1.50 booking fee applies. 

This is one Christmas delight you won’t want to miss!

We were given free tickets to see Santa Claus and the Magical Journey. All opinions are my own. 

Sunday, 30 November 2014

New Digital Screen at Croydon Fairfield Halls

We were lucky enough to be invited to the Fairfield Halls in Croydon recently for a gala screening of Frozen Sing-a-long. I obviously haven’t grown tired of Frozen yet because I was as excited as Isla. I think it was the thought of being able to sing a long without people sshhing me or telling me to stop singing (Noah does this). It was promised to be lots of fun, with Elsa, Anna and Olaf in attendance and it really was. Isla donned her Elsa dress and not one to be left out Noah dressed as Spiderman (you mean you didn’t catch Spidey in Frozen?).

I’ve always loved The Fairfield Halls – it is an institution in my area. As a child I went there fairly often and feel sure that my first cinema experience was there for a showing of Disney’s Fantasia with my parents and for many years all the females in my family would go to The Salvation Army Carol Concert – where I also got to sing my lungs out to all the Christmas Carols. I also got to meet high calibre celebrities, Bob Holness, June Brown (Dot Cotton) etc., I know I’m stretching the celeb factor there….

The event was organised to showcase the new digital cinema screen and sound system. The new set up now means that they can screen live events, such as ballet and opera. Pretty cool and we got to experience it! Prior to the film starting the kids were treated to some face painting and goodie bags and LOADS of sweets. I say loads in bold because it was clearly too many as the kids demonstrated later on that day (I’ll leave you to work out what that means). Then came the sing-a-long and it was great. Isla was in fine voice and we were joined by blogger friend DadblogUK and his family. This was great as the girls know one another but hadn’t been together for a while, so excitement was taken to another level.

We had a great time that morning and it’s definitely reminded me of what a fantastic place Fairfield is and how I’d love my kids to also make some memories of their own there.

 Check up the upcoming programme of events and shows at Fairfield Halls here

We were given free tickets to this screening of the Frozen Sing-a-Long.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Barbie Malibu House - Review

Our house feels like Barbie HQ at the moment! Along with all the other Barbie stuff Isla already owned she was very happy with the addition of a Barbie Malibu House, which is derived from the web programme, Barbie, Life in the Dreamhouse, something Isla has watched on YouTube a fair bit recently. 

Even Thomas and Friends were welcome at Barbie's pad....
As I was on my own with the kids when the house arrived I was charged with putting it all together. I'm not really a natural at doing that kind of thing but with very little stress and maybe only a couple of bad words muttered quietly, I did it in just under an hour - including getting all the stickers on and asking the kids to stop moving the pieces untold number of times..... 

The house has 6 rooms for Barbie and comes with some fixed furniture and other pieces of furniture that can be moved from room to room. The main bedroom also doubles up as a shower room with the clever use of a bed that you can stand up to become a shower and wardrobe. There are lots of small pieces in the set, food, drinks, items for the fridge as well as a tiny iPad and remote control. I would say if you have any really small children in the house, be wary of these pieces. Fortunately this isn't a problem for us. 

The staircase section of the house has an aquarium pillar going through the middle to which you attach your Barbie. Using the pulley system, Barbie can take the staircase to access the upstairs areas. I have found this a bit tricky to use, it needs to be a smoother ride for Barbie and seems to take a bit of effort for Isla to work and she is 5.

(Doll not included)
One of the upstairs rooms is equipped with a holder that you can hang on the wall to put your iPhone in so Barbie can watch herself in episode of Life in the Dreamhouse!

From a parents perspective I like that it folds up quite compactly. We live in a two up two down and with the kids toys gradually taking over the house, it was good to know that we can tidy this away quite easily. 

There has been some great imaginative play going on since the Barbie Malibu house arrived and the Barbie dolls have been played with a lot more than they did before we had it! I have to say I don't know many girls who wouldn't love this for Christmas, just maybe get Father Christmas to deliver it already constructed, otherwise you'll have one impatient recipient on the big day.....

Recommended for children aged 3+
RRP £99.99

We were sent the Barbie Malibu House free of charge for the purposes of this review.

Chelsea Flippin' Pup Pool Playset - Review

For a few months before we were sent this playset Isla had seen it on TV adverts and had mentioned it repeatedly when asked what she'd like for Christmas, so I know that it's something that will appeal to many girls in her age group. What's not to love? Puppies - tick. Waterplay - tick. Barbie related - tick! Look at her face when it arrived....

The set comprises of a pool, diving board, slide, Chelsea doll, 3 puppies, a dog bed and little towel. One of the pups is designed to flick over and do a somersault at the end of the slide. This is so simple but looks effective. The slide has a catch at the bottom and the puppy hits it and flips over, catapulting her into the pool! The other two puppies are squeezy and squirt water from their mouths so they can have a water fight with Chelsea who also has a dolphin water feature to squirt water from!

Isla, Noah and Cousin M all enjoyed some time at my parents last Sunday playing with this toy. Water play in the house can be a bit tricky but with a few towels down there wasn't too much mess and in the summer it will be perfect for the outdoors and will go nicely with the Barbie swimming pool we already own.  

This set really would make a fantastic Christmas present for any fans of Barbie and also any little brothers who particularly like to stick their Disney Cars in the pool for swim too! 

Recommended for Children aged 3+
RRP £22.99

We were sent the Chelsea Flippin' Pup Pool Playset free of charge for the purposes of this review. 

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Camp Bestival - Our Highlights!

When you approach the site and you see the Big Top and the Soul Park it feels really magical. It's plainly obvious how much effort and work has gone into the planning of it all and what I loved about the Friday at Camp Bestival was the vast amounts of space available. This was different on Saturday and Sunday where it was a lot busier. Here are our favourite things from the festival:

Meeting an owl!
As soon as we got on site on the first day we were drawn towards the birds of prey brought to CB by Haven Falconry. Isla was desperate to handle one, so I donated £3 and she got to hold a Little Owl. It was gorgeous. I'm a big owl fan and I would have liked to have gone back and seen one of the the daily displays that they held.

Lulworth Castle itself:
Isla had a good look around the outside of the entire castle every day that we went on to the festival site - she loved looking through all the windows, pointing things out that she could see and making up her own little stories about who lived there. It really is a stunning building. 

Making Friends & Trying New Things
Kids have a knack of making friends instantly. They are best friends for the weekend and there's no sadness that they won't see each other ever again at my kids age, they accept it was temporary and move on. I loved seeing them engage with other children. The other thing I was so happy about was seeing Isla become so brave and want to join in with everything. She was first to put her hand up to participate and she had no fear. I loved that.

Save The Children:
Near to the castle were some charitable organisations and we spent a really long time at the Save the Children tent where Isla made a loom band (aargh!) and had some glitter tattoos done, Noah also had one. The team at Save the Children were lovely and we had a brief conversation about Gaza as I'd signed the petition a couple of days previous. There is a real charity presence at Camp Bestival which makes it feel less commercial.

The Flying Seagulls:
Now, The Flying Seagulls were a real highlight of our Friday at Camp Bestival. They were brilliant. Isla was totally captivated by them from the minute the juggling show started with Billy Bang leading the team of performers in a very funny show. She sat amongst all the other children giggling and following all the instructions that Billy gave out. And when it came to audience participation she was first with her hand up and desperate to stand at the front and try to juggle. It was so lovely to see my girl showing the extrovert in her and I know she is braver than I was at her age. Noah was also quite taken with the Flying Seagulls but he chose to take more of a backseat sitting on my lap to observe what was going on. We must have been part of it for at least an hour and then they came round for donations to the causes they support. They work mainly in Romania, Albania and UK and their aim is to make arts accessible for all including those with disabilities and children in hospital.

BigtopMania Kids Big Top:
Another place where we spent a lot of time. There were opportunities for the kids to show off their talents (we narrowly escaped Isla getting picked to sing 'Let It Go'!), theatre shows that involved the kids from the Treehouse Theatre Company  - (personal favourite moment was when they asked a tent full of kids how should someone die in the next part of the play and a kid shouts in a pool of acid!?! Nice.). This is also where Isla tried out the trapeze. I could have burst with pride over the weekend with everything she had a go at.

Making Stuff!
There were so many opportunities to make things and Isla loves crafting. So we made a brilliant pom pom using strips of mesh fabric, a flower headdress (my favourite make) and an elephant. The flower headdress was the only thing that cost money - £3 but it looked gorgeous and was worth that for keeping Isla occupied. 

The Food:
We ate some delicious food while we were there, some really tasty burgers and pulled pork but my most favourite lunch were the naan wraps from Rola WalaThey were absolutely scrumptious and I'd love to know where we can taste those again!

The Helter Skelter and Merry Go Round:
These both needed to be paid for but it was so cool to see Isla go off on her own up such a high structure. The Helter Skelter is something that she previously would have refused to try or insist I come on with her and I have to be honest seeing how big it was I did nearly say we had to do it together but parenting is as much about letting go so I encouraged her and she loved every second! Noah thought the merry go round was amazing fun too and we rode that together saying Giddy Up all the way round.

The Bandstand:
Some fabulous folk music to be heard here. We sat and enjoyed a cup of Yorkshire tea and listened to the music while Noah slept in the trolley. We particularly enjoyed The Jimmy Hillbillies and we ended up seeing them again when we went into The Travelling Barn Tavern where Isla struck up a 10 minute friendship with a little girl and I couldn't help but smile watching them as they danced and span each other round. 

The Insect Circus:
This was so cool, a travelling 'insect circus', all capable of amazing physical feats! Amongst them jugglers, trapeze artists and tight rope walkers. Isla and Noah were both captivated.

Final things that we loved about Camp Bestival were all the impromptu stuff you would just come across. Random pianos to play, hula hooping competitions, brass bands. Ice creams every day were a must to celebrate the blue skies. 

Things I'm sad we missed are: Dingly Dell - we're big fans of being outdoors and the National Trust so it's a shame that we didn't make it there. The Wall of Death! Really wish we'd seen that, definitely on my list for next year. I'd also like to have spent more time in the Bollywood tent and in the Caravanserai Bar - particularly sitting in one of those Waltzer cars having a drink.

So as you can see there are just too many highlights to Camp Bestival and we will DEFINITELY be going again!

If you want to check out how other people experienced Camp Bestival then have a look at the following blog reviews, each and everyone had a very different experience and I think that in itself speaks volumes for how much there is to do and experience at Camp Bestival


Munchies & Munchkins 
76 Sunflowers 
Chelsea Mamma 
RocknRoll Mum 
Vicki Brown Designs 
Parent Shaped 
Purple Mum 

We paid for our tickets to Camp Bestival. This post is purely driven by a need to share our experience with you.