Hi-Tec Hiking Boots Review

A while ago we were sent a pair of hiking boots for review. Stupidly, I ordered then for the hubby, who was a nightmare to pin down to do the photos. It didn’t help that we had kiddiewinks with uti’s, chicken pox and crazily busy schedules! Note to self- never order for the hubby again, as fitting things in, all five of us, is a challenge these days. Hubby has size 12 feet but they are very wide, and he has always had trouble getting comfy shoes, especially walking boots. We were both very impressed with the quality and simple look of the boots and he can’t get over how comfy they are. Not too heavy cumbersome. They look pretty smart and are completely neutral both are always a bonus.


When walking through puddles, the rain and mud just seem to slide seemlessly off the boots, leaving them clean and dry, even now after several uses, they are not cakes in mud, like my old boots. Even I can vouch for them now as I wo a pair of the woman’s (brand new) while working with a group of teenagers in July, the outward bounds centre had just bought in a batch of hi tech hiking boots, comfortable does not come close. Without any wearing in, I managed  to walk up Snowdon in them and they stayed waterproof and comfortable right up to the end, when my right one started to get soggy, pretty impressive considering I had had them on all day in torrential rain! I for one, will definitely be buying a pair for myself and am pretty gutted I got a pair for my hubby to try out not me. Simple, well priced and highly effective is how I would sum them up! 

Just a bit of slow motion footage, which will hopefully show how the mud and water just glides off them…

Although we were sent the boots for the purpose of the review, all opinions are my own!


Wyevale Garden centre Spring Week


 We were recently invited to take part in Spring week at our local Wyevale garden Centre (Altrincham). It was a lovely session but not enough time had been planned. I don’t think the garden centre had anticipated it taking quite so long to paint a gnome- we had been allocated fifteen minutes, but we were still at it forty-five minutes later, luckily it was quiet so we weren’t rushed. The only downside, was it took us awhile to locate the workshop, staff didn’t seem to know it was even going on. However, It is definitely worth popping in for one of their workshops if you live locally to a Wyevale Garden Centre- they over lots of different themed workshops during school holidays. Over Easter, we had the choice of Enchanted Gardens, tomato plants, or gnomes, we went for painting a gnome as it fit in with our calendar. We didn’t get an activity sheet though but the kid’s still loved it.

We also got to sample the cafe while there, the little man said the cheese sandwich was the best he had ever had, not sure why, but he enjoyed it! There was also a good choice of other items to add to their lunch bags. I had a cheese and spring onion which was yummy (although a tad overpriced).

Well worth trying one of their workshops as a bargain at £2.50 per child.

Have a look at their website to see what they are offering in the future http://www.wyevalegardencentres.co.uk/events

Excuse the short post with no photos, the camera ran out of juice!

Secret Spy Mission… An interview with the Author


Welcome to Doodle…where you draw the story. Help finish characters, build up the town and design a GIANT ICE CREAM POWERED robot to fight off…the SUPER villains that you doodle! Doodles get into LOTS of trouble. Watch out, it is up to you to doodle them out of it!

Information about the Book
Title: Create Your Own Spy Mission
Author: Andrew and Chris Judge
Release Date: 7th April 2016
Genre: Create Your Own Doodle – MG
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Format: Paperback
Goodreads Link: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29753260-create-your-own-spy-mission
Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1407163272
Book Website: http://www.doodle.town/
Author Information
Chris Judge is an award winning picture book author/illustrator (THE LONELY BEAST, TIN) and co-author, with comedian David O’Doherty, of DANGER IS EVERYWHERE. Chris’s work continues to feature in advertising, newspapers, magazines and exhibitions in the UK and Ireland.

Website: http://www.chrisjudge.com/
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/chrisjudge

Andrew Judge has written and illustrated countless short stories and comics with his brother Chris, including regular features for arts and culture magazines Mongrel and Totally Dublin. Andrew lives and works as an architect in Ireland.

Website: http://www.andrewjudge.net/
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/afjudge

SPY-MISSION-01 (002)

At ‘All things kiddiewink’, we were very excited to be asked to take part in the blog tour and were really interested in finding out how the Author come up with the idea and inspiration for the ‘Create your own spy mission’. We were lucky enough  to have the authors answering our question.

We asked… ” What inspired you to create a book involving the reader?”

A: Well, we’re brothers for starters, so we’ve always been doing stuff together.

C: Andrew is the eldest in the family, so our other brother Simon and I would copy what he was doing, and that’s basically how I learned to draw.
A: Our dad is a great cartoonist and our mum is an artist to, so there was always something to draw with at home.
C: Andrew used to buy 2000AD …
A: I still do!
C: … and we’d all sit around the kitchen table in the evenings in the eighties copying Judge Dredd and Rogue Trooper by these amazing artists. Also the Asterix books. I loved copying stuff from them.
A: Then we grew up and got proper jobs, but we kept on making comics together in our spare time. We had a series in a free-sheet called Totally Dublin in our hometown for about a year and a half, which was set in a depressing, futuristic city.
C: We also did another one about a team of goofy aliens stuck on Earth for another magazine, which we eventually collected into a comic.
A: So when Scholastic, our publisher, asked Chris to come up with some ideas for a story book that kids could also draw in, Chris asked me to help out over a weekend. And that’s were the idea for Create Your Own Alien Adventure came to life.
C: We wanted to make something that kid’s could mess around with, draw on, fold, rip, and basically play with.
A: I just wanted to impress my seven year old son!
C: Scholastic asked us to come up with more ideas for a second book, so we gave our editor, David Maybury, a long list of other books we’d like to make, and he suggested “Spies.”
A: Which was the answer we wanted to hear, because we love spy movies and spy books. The KnowHow Book of Spycraft by Falcon Travis was one of my favourite books as a kid.
C: We’ve a hundred other ideas for the Create Your Own series. We can’t wait to get them into readers hands.
A: Yeah, the feedback from our readers about Alien Adventure has been brilliant. I can’t wait to hear what they think about Spy Mission!

Find out more at http://www.doodle.town

What did All things kiddiewink think about the book?

My daughter hasn’t read it all yet (we only received it yesterday) but for a girl that is not keen on reading, she seems pretty hooked, and has been seen walking around the house reading it- unheard of for her! She is not a big fiction fan, but this creates a more ‘real’ element and the fact she gets to do things throughout the book, really excites her. She came to ask me if she could rip out the pages, as it it told her to, she couldn’t believe she would actually be allowed. I think the spying theme is awesome, as my two bigger kiddiewinks are big into everything ‘spy’ at the moment!

Here is my eldest kiddiewink’s first vlog; she is quite shy so this is a big achievement for her!IMG_3268





Randomise- the new interactive game.

  We were recently sent the game ‘Randomise’ to review and what fun it was.

Randomise is a card game so is easily transportable, perfect for holidays after a few cheeky drinks.

It is aimed at anyone over the age of 8, but it is still a little tricky for my eight year old. Although, with some support I am sure younger children could have a go at it, we opted for drunken fun instead.

The game, is very aptly named as it really is ‘random’ and you will find yourself drawing hairy grandma’s skateboarding; acting out an angry gorilla surfing, and describing an anxious chef eating spaghetti. You can choose from easy or hard, and the opposing team, choose the combination you have to do. For example, they may say you have to do 1, 3, 2 so on these cards up you would have to do a ‘happy jellyfish snowboarding’ or an ‘Enthusiastic kingfisher hitchhiking’ depending on whether you opted for easy or hard… 

It comes with instructions for playing different versions, which keeps it interesting. We decided everyone had to draw, then act, then describe etc, to keep it doubly amusing.  It really was great fun and I would highly recommend it, especially for the price of £9.99 at amazon.

Here is some pictures of us in action(granted they are rubbish due to lighting but we were too tipsy to twig)

Not all my videos would share for some reason, but here are some links to us playing- Disclaimer – some adult language is used and could cause offense : )

10 reasons to love Jodrell Bank

This half term we decided it was about time the kiddiewinks got to visit Jodrell Bank, home of the Lovell telescope, which they enjoy looking at out of the landing window.  Living only 5 minutes down the road, it seemed wrong that the kiddiewinks were yet to visit.

We had a great day… Here are our top ten reasons to visit.

1) the Lovell telescope is humungous! Littlest Kiddiewink wowed lots and little man kept stating how it was bigger than he expected

2) whispering telescopes- the kids loved the fact they could give each other rude messages without being anywhere near each other. “You’re a smelly pants” was the favourite

3) gardens to explore as burn off that excess energy

4) a mini play park

5) learn more about our solar system- the kids loved the touch screens, granted not much was read, but they enjoyed messing.

6) not too big- very little chance of losing the kiddiewinks (whether that is a plus it negative, you decide)

7)two cafés- a takeaway one and an eat in (with an outside area). We didn’t sample to food, queues were big and we are skint. I would have bought them a drink and snack but the takeaway  cafe was cash only (I was not popular with the kiddiewinks)

8) lots of chance to get outdoors in the fresh air

9) staff that seem to genuinely enjoy working there, and are happy to help

10) Not to pricey- it cost £16.80 for the four of us, would have been a bit dear if hubby had been able to come


All in all, a great day out, we will definitely be visiting again, but this time with daddy too.


Kiddiewink essentials when staying away overnight! Create Christmas calmness…

On the sixth day of advent my kiddiewinks brought to me

6 ways to Christmas calmness

5 Christmas lists

4 early mornings

3 spectacled reindeer

2 toilet decorations

And a tantrum around the Christmas tree

Yeah right ! Christmas is many things in my house but Christmas calmness, hmmm  not to sure about that! There may be moments of Christmas calmness in my house; but more likely it is Christmas chaos/carnage/craziness! When staying away with children, for all the loveliness, it can also add lots of stress. Here are my top five kiddiewink essentials for staying away with family during the Christmas season

1)your kiddiewink’s comforter– teddies, blankets, dummies. Without them you’re screwed! Even if you believe your seven year old doesn’t need it, guaranteed they’ll decide they want it when you are miles and miles away from home

2) Firm favourite storybooks– these will help keep the bedtime routine familiar. We usually can’t go wrong with Julia Donaldson, althoug now we need to remember the bigs ones chapter book we are reading. Chances are you wont take the exact one they decide they want that evening (at least you tried)

3) Plenty of snacks and drinks-my kiddiewinks are always hungry and there is nothing worse than hungry  moaning child when you have nothing to give them. I am sure it’s not justmine that turn into monsters when they are hungry! (Please note:Sod’s law they will want some different snack and drink)!

4) A few favourite toys and activities– we generally take pens and paper, figures, my little ponies, DS or the hudl-  the electronic devices are more for nights away without any other children where we are going. Again, once more, even thoughthey chose which toys to take, they generally change the mind. Resulting in either a row with a sibling over their choice of toy; tears over the toy left behind.

5) Gro-anywhere blind this is an absolute life saver and has made a massive impact to our sleep! Before having one, we would often be woken ridiculously early at sleepovers where the curtains were thin, now the children sleep as normal, oblivious to the daylight outside. They fit any window and are so easy to put up and take down! If you haven’t got one and you take your kids to stay in different environments- get one! It may well save you from even more deprivation. To be fair though, this can even be used in your own house for a quick fix to more sleep (well, you can live in hope). We recently moved house, so have been using that on the little ones window (after two very early awakenings it had to be done)! Any product we have got from the gro-company has been brilliant

6) Patience and humour– unfortunately I can’t make any suggestions for where you can find some of this, but if you find out, let me know so I can tell my hubby where to find it.

Jack Cherry and the Juicer- a review on this resource designed  to boost self-esteem, confidence and resilience.

‘Jack Cherry’ is a company offering resources and workshops all about a character called Jack. It aims to boost self-esteem, confidence and resilience in children, by helping put them in control of their thoughts. The idea of a juicer is used to help children reframe thinking.

As a family, we were thrilled to see that the main character in the comic wears glasses- my middle kiddiewink was horrified to see him being ridiculed about them and he felt very angry for Jack. Both myself and the children could see the impact on Jack of several negative things happening, and we talked about when they had had a bad day and how it made them feel.

 The comic itself is well illustrated and clear, with the message being about how bad thoughts and feelings, making you feel bad. In essence you have to keep out the bad things, just like you would keep the bad fruits out of a smoothie. We had great fun thinking up alliteration for happy fruits; fitting in perfectly with what my eldest has been doing in literacy this week. Personally, it thought that Jack coming up with the fruit and juicer analogy was powerful, as oppose to an adult sharing it with children. It was also great that he triumphed in the end!

The comic book is currently available free to download.

We were also sent a link to an audio book; I struggle with audiobooks, as I am an excellent storyteller (blowing my own trumpet here, but I really am). Although, I am sure it is very good, but the voice instantly annoyed me, as I know I could have made it sound just as good  (if not better).

The activity book that went with it looks fun, and the kids are keen to complete different aspects; a maze, making posters, games and word searches. Just got to get some ink for my printer first…

The resource as a whole, would be great to use at home and in the classroom as part of PHSCE or as part of an anti-bullying week (although a bit late for this years National anti-bullying week 16th -20th November). I can imagine many school councils would enjoy sharing this resource with their peers and some great activities (music, drama, paper activities and discussion) could be generated from reading the comic as a stimulus.

For more information on using the resource at home or in the classroom click here. There are videos and more information on the excellent resources on offer to boost children’s self-esteem and confidence, including resources to help with the stress of sats.

The creator (Simon Benn) also does workshops to schools which amazingly, are either free or funded and I certainly intend to book him in for next years Anti-Bullying Week.

Children’s Book Review- Mr Cleghorn’s Seal by Judith Kerr

We were so excited to be sent the new Judith Kerr book to review, among and the Tiger who came to tea are firm favourites in our house, daddy in particular loves them!

This new book did not fail to disappoint. A lovely hardback book, delightfully illustrated. It was somewhat longer than I anticipated and definitely aimed at a slightly older audience, so our main argument was whether daddy or I got to read it to the kiddiewinks, with it being a book to read over several nights, we wanted the reader to be the same, I won and by paragraph one my eldest two kiddiewinks and I were hooked.

For me, I loved the way the name Mr Cleghorn rolled off the tongue and the scene was set beautifully. The book prompted some interesting discussions about the past, as both recognised it wasn’t set in modern day Britain, they were fascinated by the use of horses!

The book provoked a wide range of emotions while reading it – one minute the kids were giggling, then they expressed borrow and empathy. They were still talking about it when cleaning their teeth, horrified that the seal may have been ‘killed’.

The book reads well all the way through with a great attention to detail, really helping th children picture the scenes as they unfolded. We would all wholeheartedly recommend this book, but it definitely takes longer to read, so set aside a week of bedtime stories to really savour it. My kiddiewinks are only 4 and 7, so I imagine a slightly older child would enjoy reading it to themself.

It would make a perfect Christmas present for the book loving family to enjoy together.