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Book Review: Tiger Skin Rug by Joan Haig

When Kelly at Cranachan Publishing asked if we would be interested in joining in with the Tiger Skin Rug blog tour we jumped at the chance. Reading the information we were sent we knew we were in for a treat when the book arrived and we certainly weren’t disappointed.

Tiger Skin Rug is Joan Haig’s first children’s novel but you would never know this- from the beginning you are drawn in and taken on a magical journey. I have never been to either India or Scotland but I feel like I have just visited both.

‘Lal and his brother, Dilip miss home, They don’t like drizzle, midges, or the tiger skin rug in their creepy new house. All they want is to leave Scotland and go back to India.

But that’s before they make friends with Jenny, and before the tiger comes back to life…

The tiger tells them it will take them home in return for their help: it cannot rest until it fulfils an old promise.’

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I loved this book and found it difficult to put down but I had to wait a long time to get chance to read it because Lottie got there first! Not only did she and my Mum read it together a chapter a night, she insisted on re-reading the whole book again on her own as soon as they finished it. There aren’t many books you want to read again as soon as you have finished but Tiger Skin Rug is definitely one of them.

You can really imagine how Lal and Dilip feel being moved halfway across the world to a strange creepy new house that doesn’t feel like home. You get a real sense of how lost they feel, especially Lal.

Jenny and her Granny are just what they need, I liked the fact that a Scottish girl was the one to become friends with them as it illustrates how it doesn’t matter how different your backgrounds are or whether you are a male or female but you can still be friends.

When the tiger skin rug comes alive it’s both magical and scary. Lottie was a little frightened at this point but also desperate to read on and see what happened next and I could see how Lal would be disbelieving and wary, whereas Dilip is younger and totally believes in the magic.

I love how the children understand how important the tiger’s promise is and how the adventure begins.

As the story moves on the picture that Joan Haig paints of India is so vivid. You can feel the cold night as they glide through the air and you can really imagine the slums and understand how Lal feels seeing India through Jenny’s eyes when it isn’t the India that he knows and loves. I can visualise the huge contrast between there and the richer parts of the country. Both the slums and the plantations feel so exotic sitting here reading about them on a rainy English February day, you are easily transported into the story and to many miles away.

There are so many themes running through Tiger Skin Rug that everyone adult or child will find something to relate to. It makes you think about tiger poaching which is so important.

You think about people and how there are good and bad people in all areas of life and it reminds you that sometimes you can be something you didn’t know you were and that other people can always surprise you- I like the way that Lal realised that Jenny was braver than he expected, learnt that Dilip was great at peace keeping and discovered that he was a natural leader.

I love the way the theme of family and home runs through the whole book and think the ending is perfect whilst still being both happy and a little sad at the same time.

Tiger Skin Rug is aimed at children age 8 to 12 which I think is perfect, Lottie is 8 and absolutely loves this book and I am 12 and easily got lost in it. I am sure it would also appeal to older readers too though, my Mum loved the style of Joan Haig’s writing and really enjoyed the story- she and Lottie cheated near the end and swapped their chapter a night for three chapters as they were enjoying it too much to stop!

I really hope Joan Haig has plans for more children’s novels in the future.

Don’t forget to follow the other blogger’s on the blog tour to find out what they thought about Tiger Skin Rug too.

Tiger Skin Rug Blog Tour Image

 

 

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of Tiger Skin Rug for review purposes but all thoughts and opinions are our own.

This post contains affiliate links, should you choose to order using these we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you

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The Puy Du Fou 2020

If you have been reading our blog for a while you will know that we only review or write about places we like ourselves and if you have been following for a while you will know that one of those places is the Puy Du Fou in France. It’s fair to say as a family we are a little bit obsessed.

My parents have been going since before we were born and I have been at least once most years since I was a baby. Our favourite time was a couple of years ago when we had annual passes and could come and go as we pleased. If you haven’t got time to read our old reviews (and you really should!) then I should give you an idea of what it’s all about. 

The Puy Du Fou is best described as a historical theme park but that doesn’t really give you a view as to what it’s like. There are no rides but instead shows, walk throughs and villages. It is absolutely amazing. You can step back in time to the Romans, watch Kind Arthur pull the sword from the stone, get caught up in the Musketeers battle, see the Vikings attack, learn the secrets of the Lance or watch the most amazing bird show ever. You can even walk through a trench and experience the sad story of a soldier in WW1.

It’s hard to give an idea of exactly what the Puy Du Fou is like but we think everyone should try and go at least once and are delighted (and a bit jealous!) that some of our friends are going this year. If you are ever in France then it’s well worth a trip even if it is out of your way.

We were excited when the people at the Puy Du Fou sent us the press release for their plans for this year. As it’s now only 76 days until they reopen for the 2020 season it seems a good time to share the information with other UK fans.

They have invested €52 million (wow!) in a new spectacular show, an amazing new hotel and a conference centre.

The new show is a night time show, called The Wedding of Fire which follows on from the story of the original night time show, Organs of Fire. It is a fantasy tale set in the 19th Century with music by Camille and Julie Berthollet, Warner Classics. As we would expect from the Puy Du Fou it combines fire and water with amazing costumes, vast emerging sets, underwater stunts and jaw dropping aerial displays. We can’t wait to see this. We have loved Organs of Fire but it is always exciting when there is a new show to enjoy.

The new hotel sounds amazing,- Le Grand Siecle, is inspired by Louis XIV ‘s Versailles. It has been lavishly decorated and this 4* hotel is like stepping back into the time of The Sun King. Visitors now have a choice of 500 different rooms in different themed areas and we now have another hotel to add to our wish-list to stay in at the Puy Du Fou!

The other new addition is a conference centre called Le Théatre Moliere which will be able to host conferences and all sorts of other events. We will have to keep an eye out for exciting events taking place when we are over.

It looks like 2020 is going to be another exciting year at the Puy Du Fou, if you get the chance to go then don’t hesitate. It’s only a quick flight from the UK to Nantes and then it’s just over an hour drive to Les Epesses and the Vendee is an amazing place to visit. The Puy Du Fou is open from 4th April to 1st November and day tickets are from €37 per adult and €23 per child– but there are deals for more than one day which are worth doing as then you get to see all the shows as well as seeing everything else the Grand Parc has to offer. I really hope we get to go again this year.

 

Secret trails at the Puy Du Fou

 

 

 

Disclaimer:

We were sent the details of the new developments at the Puy Du Fou and decided to share these as an update to our previous reviews. We have visited as paying customers numerous times and also received gifted tickets on one occasion but all thoughts are our own.

This post was written by Luke age 12 with a little help from Mum to ensure the relevant information was included!

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The Snowman by Carrot Productions

Our trip to see The Snowman didn’t quite go according to plan but thanks to the lovely people at Carrot Productions Lottie and Mum were still able to get there and took Lottie’s friend and her sister with them. Whilst it wasn’t the family trip we planned it sounds like she had an amazing time and Mum said we definitely should all plan to go next year.

Lottie’s review.

My friends Emily, Isla and I went to see The Snowman at Ely Cathedral with our Mum’s just after Christmas. It was absolutely brilliant. The Cathedral was a fantastic place for the performance. It was beautiful.

I had never seen an orchestra before and I loved it. Each musician showed a little clip of what their instrument sounded like and that was so interesting. The drummer was very funny. My favourite was the violin and the bass and we all loved the harp.

After we had been introduced to the musicians they showed The Bear and the Piano on three screens so you watched the story to the soundtrack of the Orchestra playing which was really lovely.

© David Litchfield Illustration

 

Once the film had finished The Snowman came out and the Orchestra played a song called The Snowman Waltz which was upbeat and exciting and the snowman danced around and around. We got to shake hands with him which Isla was especially excited by!

© Gareth Widdowson

 

Then it was time for The Snowman to be shown. I have seen The Snowman lots of times before but never like this. It’s hard to describe how special it was with the orchestra playing. The boy who sang was amazing. You really felt like you were drawn right into the film.

© Tom Bangbala

 

I was so sad when it ended. I wish it had gone on for longer. I absolutely loved the whole thing and would love to see another event with an orchestra. It has even made me want to practise my violin much more!

My Mum said it made her feel really peaceful and my friends loved it too.

We will be going back next year and hope to go to another Carrot Productions event soon.

 

 

Disclaimer: We were gifted our tickets for The Snowman but all thoughts and opinions are our own.

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A Late Happy New Year!

It’s a bit late but Happy New Year to you all!

I can’t believe it is the middle of January already but as soon as we got back to school it was back to lots of homework and all the clubs. I think I am ready for the next holiday right now.

I haven’t really made an resolutions this year. My Mum says I should probably try and do my homework when it’s set rather than waiting until the last minute but I am not sure how long that will last! We are getting a lot more now I am at Secondary including some big projects. I will have to try and stay organised!

We haven’t been writing the blog much recently but hopefully between Lottie, Sam and myself we will be able to do a bit more this year. We are hoping to have some fun days out to share with you and Lottie and I are both partway through some excellent books that we would like to review. Lottie is obsessed with riddles at the moment too so I think she might be sharing some of those!

Mum and Dad plan to really try and save money this year so we would love your recommendations for cheap family days out so we can do that but still have fun.

Lottie and I would love to hear about any brilliant kids authors you have come across. I have read over 700,000 words so far this year in the school reading challenge and probably the same again in books of my own choice at home so suggestions of books that I will really enjoy while doing the challenge would be great.

I hope everyone has a great 2020 and we can share some fun things with you this year.

Thanks for reading our blog!

 

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Lottie’s Harry Potter themed Christmas gift guide

By Lottie age 8

I am now up to The Order of the Phoenix in the Harry Potter book series and love reading them with my Mum. We went to Harry Potter World for my birthday treat and there were so many amazing Harry Potter toys, games and costumes that I would love I thought I would put together my Christmas wish list and gift guide to give other Harry Potter fans some ideas.

Lego Knightbus

We all love LEGO in my house and the Knightbus is one of my favourite sets that I have. My brother’s have loads of Star Wars LEGO but this is my set that I made myself. It’s a three story bus and you can take the top off to play with it. It comes with Harry, Stan and Ernie. It is really good to play with and it also looks really nice on display in my bedroom.

Harry Potter Wizard Chess Set

I have been going to chess club at school for the last two terms and really enjoy it. My Dad and I play together and I have now started teaching my Mum how to play. I do have a chess set but I think the wizard chess set looks absolutely amazing and I would love to have this.

Invisibilty cloak

Everyone needs an invisibility cloak! I don’t know how well this would work but I think it looks like it would be a lot of fun. I would really like to try and fool my brother’s with this. It looks like you need an app so you would probably use it to make videos and trick people with. It looks like it would be funny.

Hermione’s Yule Ball Dress

I saw this at Harry Potter World and it is beautiful. I would love it. You can also get a doll wearing the dress which I quite like, I have seen a proper dress based on the outfit at Boden which is beautiful

The Sorting Hat

This would be great fun- I could see what house everyone I know should be in. When I do the tests I sometimes get Gryffindor and sometimes get Ravenclaw so it would be good to see what the hat actually thinks!

The Marauder’s Map Guide to Hogwarts

My friend gave me this for my birthday and it’s really good. It has lots of interesting facts and is good fun as you can use your own invisible map. I really love it but I would only recommend it for people who have read all the books – otherwise you might find some sad things out before you get there.

Interactive Hedwig

I absolutely love Owls. I have done bird handling for the last year and the owls are my very favourite. As you can’t keep owls as a pet this would be the next best thing, it looks so cute!

Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit

Luke has this game and it’s really good fun. There are questions on lots of different topics, like Hogwarts, The Dark Arts, Magical Objects and Magical People. You do have to know quite a bit about the stories so it is best if you have other people who love Harry Potter to play with.

I hope this has given you some good ideas for Christmas gifts for Harry Potter fans, I will be very happy if I get something off this list.

 

 

Disclaimer: This posts contains affiliate links, this means we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you if you purchase through the links. Thank you

 

 

 

 

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Rofy Stealth hockey stick review with Hockeyspullen

I absolutely love playing hockey. I started when I was 5 and it’s still the highlight of my week. I train at the local club with the U12’s on a Sunday and now I am at Secondary School I have joined the hockey club there once a week too.  I can’t wait until I move into the U14’s as then I get to play on a Thursday as well.

You can imagine how excited I was when the people at Hockeyspullen asked if I would like to review one of their Rofy hockey sticks. I spent ages looking at their website, there are so many amazing sticks to choose from it was like looking at a sweet shop!

I finally decided on the Rofy Stealth 100% Carbon mid bow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It arrived really quickly within just a couple of days which was amazing and as soon as I unpacked it I could see the quality. I have used lots of different hockey sticks and this is by far my favourite.

It looks amazing, it’s a really nice design, stealth-like on one side and bright red and visible on the other side, it’s very eye catching and looks really good.

It feels brilliant to play with, the grip is excellent and whilst it’s incredibly lightweight because it is 100% carbon and is easy to run with it still feels extremely strong especially in a tackle.

I am really enjoying playing with the mid bow, it’s great for flicks. I also like the way the ball sticks to the stick when you are dribbling, it hits so well and is good all round for a game.

The Rofy Stealth is easily the best hockey stick I have ever played with.

I would highly recommend Hockeyspullen to anyone looking for a new stick, whether you are a beginner or a veteran, whether you are just training or playing in matches there is a choice for everyone. They even have ones for small children starting out in fun designs which are perfect for my little brother’s age. I don’t think I would ever want a stick from anywhere else. I absolutely love my Rofy stick and would definitely choose that brand for my next one. I am so pleased I was lucky enough to be sent mine

I can’t wait for our next tournament- I have a good feeling about it!

 

 

Disclaimer: Luke was lucky enough to be sent his ROFY hockeystick by Hockeyspullen in exchange for a review but all thoughts and opinions are his own.

 

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Madagascar the Musical at The Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury

By Lottie age 8

I was so lucky the other night, I was invited by Artspod to go and see Madagascar the Musical at Waterside Theatre in Aylsebury. I couldn’t wait, I loved it when we went to see The Tiger Who Came to Tea there earlier this year, it’s such a nice theatre.

Luke couldn’t come so my Mum, my friend, his Mum and I headed off to Aylesbury soon after school. We were so excited in the car, we had a very funny journey and couldn’t wait to get to the theatre and see the show.

When we arrived at the theatre it was really busy and felt like everyone else was looking forward to it too.  I liked that there was people of all ages there- we had people with little children in front of us, people with children our age one side of us and an older lady and man to the other side of us.

From the minute Madagascar the Musical started to the minute it finished we didn’t stop laughing, it was so funny. The actors were really good. We kept changing our mind about which character was our favourite, they were all so good. I am still not sure I have a favourite as they were all brilliant!

I had been wondering how they would show people as animals but it was actually really easy to believe in the characters- the costumes were amazing and the actors were so good at playing the parts, they just seemed right. My favourite costume was Melman’s, he was such a brilliant giraffe, it must have been really hard work to act in that! I really liked King Julian too, he was so funny, everyone was laughing so much.

The music was great, I only knew one of the songs but they were really catchy and I went out singing one of the other ones!

 

I absolutely loved Madagascar the Musical. It was such a fun show to see. We came in really excited and left feeling like we had had a really good time. I loved the fact that my Mum and my friend’s Mum laughed just as much as we did. It’s definitely a show for the whole family.

I would love to see it again sometime and I can’t wait for my next visit to Waterside Theatre. Don’t miss the Madagascar the Musical Tour if you get chance to see it.

Disclaimer: Huge thanks to Artspod and Waterside Theatre for our tickets to Madagascar the Musical, all thoughts and opinions are our own.

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Madagascar The Musical

By Lottie age 8

I am getting very excited because I am heading back to Aylesbury Waterside Theatre again this week. We went there earlier this year to see The Tiger that Came to Tea which was brilliant and have been invited back by the theatre and Artspod to see Madagascar the Musical.

I really liked Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, it was really nice and modern so I am looking forward to going there again and I am so excited to see this show.

I have watched the trailer for Madagascar the Musical and it looks like it’s going to be really good fun! Everyone knows the film but it’s really hard to imagine how they are going to do it on a stage with real actors so I am looking to finding out. The costumes look like they are awesome and I think the songs are going to make me want to dance! I think there will be lots and lots going on and it will be very energetic.

I am looking forward to writing my review once we have seen the show- I hope you will enjoy reading it!

If you want to see Madagascar The Musical for yourself then don’t miss it at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre from Thursday 19th September until Sunday 22nd September.

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: We have been gifted tickets for Madagascar The Musical by Artspod and Aylesbury Waterside Theatre in exchange for our honest review afterwards.

 

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The Snowman Tour 2019

By Lottie age 8 with a little help

I didn’t want the Summer holidays to end but now we are back at school I have remembered this is my favourite term!

We have lots to do and as soon as Harvest Festival is done with we start preparing for Christmas. At school we get to look forward to the Christmas Fayre, the nativity, the carol concert and the pantomime.  While at home we plan for a Santa visit, Christmas Eve with friends and for the last couple of years Mummy, Luke and I have gone to see a Christmas show or ballet. Sam was too young last year so we couldn’t all go together as Daddy had to stay and look after him but I am really excited already because this year we have been invited to a Christmas show that we can all go to together.

We are going to go and see The Snowman in Ely Cathedral, just after Christmas and it looks like it will be amazing.

©Snowman Enterprises Limited

 

The actual film of The Snowman is shown with a real orchestra and a local young soloist who will sing Walking in the Air. I can’t wait to hear it. I am learning violin at the moment but have never seen a real orchestra and think it will be amazing.

© Tom Bangbala

 

At Ely we will also get to see a specially commissioned animation by Carrot Productions of David Litchfield’s The Bear and the Piano but some of the other venues have A Donkey’s Tale or The Nutcracker. This is going to be a brilliant way to keep feeling Christmassy for a bit longer.

© David Litchfield Illustration

 

Lots of the shows are being held in Cathedrals. I can’t wait to see Ely Cathedral as we have heard it’s beautiful and have wanted to visit for ages. Some of the other shows are in Halls and other interesting venues. You can view more information and book tickets here.

© Gareth Widdowson

 

You can also watch the promotional video to see what a treat this is going to be:

 

We are so lucky to be going to the Carrot Productions Tour of The Snowman, a lot of the venues will sell out very quickly and it will be such a good way to either kick off or end Christmas, we are really looking forward to it already!

© Snowman Enterprises Limited

 

 

Disclaimer: We have been lucky enough to be gifted tickets to The Snowman

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Othello Junior Championships and a chance to win

We are giving away an Othello Classic game to celebrate the upcoming Othello Junior Championships. The Championships take place in Cambridge on 21st September and the winner gets to go on to represent the UK in Hong Kong. You can find out all the information here and see if you have what it takes to be a champion!

Even if you aren’t the next Othello Junior Champion you can still read our review to find out our first experience of playing the game, for a chance to enter and try to win a copy for your own family.

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Othello has been our best new family activity for the Summer- Lottie and I have played it at least once a day since it arrived early on in the school holidays. It’s brilliant to find a game we can both play together, it’s fairly quick to play, not much setting up and Mum is happy not to have to be a referee!

I can’t believe we hadn’t come across Othello before now, it’s a two player game and it’s really easy to learn. You get a board and 64 discs. The discs are white on one side and black on the other. To start with you have two black and two white discs diagonally in the centre of the board.

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The first player places down their colour next to the other players colour. Then any disc trapped between their colour disc gets flipped over and becomes the first players colour. The other player then goes and they in turn flip any trapped discs. The winner is the player at the end when the board is full with the most discs of their colour.

We love the fact that this is a game that needs a bit of strategy planning and makes you think. The game is aimed at 7 plus and we think that’s about right because it would be a bit hard for anyone younger. We have enjoyed that it’s really quick to teach our friends how to play but we both think it’s right that the manufacturers describe Othello as being ‘A minute to learn, a lifetime to master’ – just as you think you’ve got to grips with it your opposition will turn things round and win!

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It’s a really good family game and we have both had fun playing with Mum and Dad, we think it would be good fun at Christmas to have a family tournament.

Othello is available to buy from all good toy stores and you can find information about stockists on John Adams’ website.

One lucky winner will receive a copy for their family to enjoy by entering our competition below.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Disclaimer: We were gifted a copy of Othello for review purposes but all thoughts and opinions are our own. This post contains affiliate links, should you choose to order through these then we would earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you