I can’t believe we are going back to school tomorrow. It felt like it would never come but at the same time feels like time has just disappeared.
We have been lucky enough to stay healthy during lockdown and for us it was only difficult because my Mum was shielded so it felt like a really long time before we could start seeing people again.
I am looking forward to getting back to school to see my friends and it will be better doing some of the subjects like science there than it was at home as we will hopefully get to do more practical things. I am not looking forward to early starts, homework and remembering masks for the bus.
I can’t wait for clubs to start up again and to hopefully be able to do hockey after school again as well as at the weekend.
The Summer holidays were really strange this year because we didn’t go on holiday or even for many days out really but we still managed to have a nice time and see some friends.
During lockdown and over the summer we have had three birthdays between the five of us so we have had a good time celebrating these- we even got a bouncy castle in the garden for Lottie’s last week which she loved.
Last weekend we set up our tent in the garden and my friend came over with his and we all camped out for the night which was a good laugh. We had a BBQ, toasted marshmallows and had hot chocolate while we tried to identify the stars and played some card games.
The other highlight of our holiday was the arrival of our two new ducks, Finn and Rose, who firstly kept us busy digging ponds and making sure the garden was safe, and then by generally entertaining us- they now come flapping up to us and have a little walk round us whenever we go out in the garden, it’s like they have been here much longer than they have.
Now it’s time to make sure the bags are packed and uniform is out, ready for the first early start in months.
If you have been following our blog for a while you will know that we are Star Wars fans- although my little brother Sam is probably the biggest fan of us all and knows more about it than any other 5 year old I know (except possibly his best friend who is equally obsessed!)
We have asked him to tell us some of his favourite things about it:
Obi Wan Kenobi
Favourite Space ships
Return of the Jedi
We always do a Star Wars day competition and decided that even though things are a bit more tricky this year we would still run one to hopefully brighten someone’s day. You can enter on Rafflecopter below to win a copy of The Rise of Skywalker on DVD- Sam would love to know who your favourite character is!
Today has been a long day, it has been raining all day and we are all getting a bit fed up of being stuck at home. After we finished our school work for the day we decided we would pick some of our favourite games to play which got us thinking about our favourites.
These are (probably!) our top 10:
Othello– We were sent this game to review last year and Lottie and I have played it loads. It’s really straightforward but gets you thinking as you need a bit of strategy planning, it’s a great game for age 7 plus.
Reveal- I got this game for my birthday after seeing it when we went to the UK Games Expo last year. It is very funny to play in a group and involves testing your knowledge on TV shows, films and songs at different levels of difficulty.
What’s in the box?– This is such a simple idea, we reviewed it a couple of years ago and loved it, it is now my little brother’s favourite game. You literally just choose something to put in the box and then use the counters to ask yes and no questions to find out what it is. It’s ideal for the whole family even little children.
Randomise- This is one of our most favourite games ever- we wrote a full review here but it involves drawing, acting or describing whatever your cards throw up. It’s really, really funny and one every family should have in their games cupboard.
Villainous– Disney Villainous is a bit tricky to get started with but once you get your head round it then it’s a great game, Lottie absolutely loves this and really likes the fact that it is villains rather than princesses!
Monopoly– I love monopoly, it’s my favourite game and we have lots of different versions. I really like the electronic one and would love the cheaters edition. My Mum hates it when we play, she says we always end up arguing and someone always cheats!
Telestrations– This is a bit like Chinese whispers in drawing and is really funny. It’s a great game for age 8 upwards.
Think Words Spin– You have to think really quickly in this game and shout out something that matches the catagories and letters. It is quite competitive and harder than it sounds to think of the right word.
Tetris Speed– We like the fact that this is a very portable version of Tetris and it is suitable for anyone adult or child. It doesn’t take long to play and you just have to be really fast and use your memory a bit.
We would love to know your recommendations for other games we might enjoy and in return we are giving you the chance to win a £20 Amazon voucher to treat your family to a new game.
It was my little brother’s 5th birthday earlier this month, with everything else going on it wasn’t quite the day we had planned. This year was the first year he had been excited about having a party and has been talking about it for months. He was very good when he realised he couldn’t have one and asked if we could have an at home party instead so we decided that was what we would do.
It was a bit difficult because my Mum is shielded so no one could go to the shops but fortunately she had already got a few presents and we had ordered ink for our school work so we had some things to use.
Sam spent a few days before his birthday planning a party playlist on Alexa of his favourite songs, he has loved dancing to them ever since.
I made some Happy Birthday signs using his favourite Star Wars characters to go with each letter and we wrapped up the bottom half of the living room door for him to burst through which he thought was really funny.
Normally our birthday cakes are a surprise, sometimes we order them from a lady we know and sometimes Mum makes them but we never know what we are having until the day, this year Sam asked if he could help make his. He asked to have a chocolate cake and he absolutely loved being involved with making it and decorating it. His favourite bit was covering it with Easter sweets and treats that we had left over. It was a bit wonky but he said it was the best cake ever. We did surprise him by adding a Star Wars cake decoration that we had ordered before lockdown started.
During the day we played outside and I helped to build his birthday LEGO space set and then in the afternoon we had his ‘At home party’. We arranged a Zoom call with two other families who each have two children, one is Sam’s best friend and one is Lottie’s but they all play really nicely together and I organised a scavenger hunt for them. It worked really well because Sam and his friend are a bit little for video calls but this stopped them from being too shy and had everyone running around laughing.
Once we said goodbye to their friends we played some games together with Mum and Dad including a game of pass the parcel. Sam was amazed that he was allowed to win because we aren’t normally at our own parties. We then played the chocolate game- you have to take turns to roll the dice and when someone gets a 6 they have to quickly put on a scarf, hat and sometimes gloves and then cut up a chocolate bar with a knife and fork, they can then eat as much as they are able before the next person rolls a six. Sometimes you get loads and sometimes you don’t even get the hat on before it is the next person’s turn and it is very funny.
After that Sam spoke to some of our family on the phone and we made him a party tea with sausage rolls, mini sausages, pizza and lots of yummy treats.
We watched a film that Sam picked out and then sang happy birthday to him and had cake. We has also planned to have a campfire and toast marshmallows but we ran out of time so we did that at the weekend as an extra birthday treat.
It wasn’t what we planned but Sam had a great day- he said his favourite thing was blowing out the candles on his cake!
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‘Abi and her two step brothers, Max and Louis, find that strange things happen when they are alone in their eerie, ivy-covered new house.
Abi reading alone, finds herself tumbling deep into books, while Louis summons a startling guest through his bedroom window. Even Max has started to see shapes in the shadow in the shadows….
Their busy parents see none of it- but Louis’ secret visitor is growing too alarming to keep secret, and he finds he cannot manage without Max and Abi’s help.
Can they find out where the mysterious creature has come from- and how to get it back there?’
Hilary McKay is an amazing author, she makes you feel like you are really there. I could really imagine I was Abi. The Time of Green Magic is full of mystery and a little bit scary- not enough to frighten you a lot but enough to make you want to keep reading.
The descriptions are so good, you can imagine exactly what the family are like and all that is happening to them. I can see how strange it is for Abi getting used to having step brothers. The book has lots of people’s stories running through it and you get to know all the characters really well and feel like you know them.
I really love this book. I read it within 2 days even though we were still at school when it arrived and have read it again since. I would recommend it to confident readers age 7 and over. If you are looking for something magical to read then The Time of Green Magic is a brilliant choice.
Disclaimer: We were sent a review copy of The Time of Green Magic but all thoughts and opinions are Lottie’s own.
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Yesterday I made peanut butter cookies from a recipe in my Mum’s BBC Good Food Magazine – they were so easy and really delicious, I would really recommend them. The original recipe can be found here.
These were really quick and easy and I think they are perfect for kids to make on their own, next time I might try adding chocolate chips or some extra chopped nuts but they were delicious both warm and cold. I think they tasted more nutty the following day.
200g peanut butter (crunchy or smooth- I used a mix as that was what we had)
175g golden caster sugar
1/2 tsp table salt
1 large egg
Heat oven to 180 degrees/ 160 degrees for a fan oven and line two baking trays
Mix peanut butter, salt and sugar
Add in egg- it makes a dough type mixture
Place large marble size balls of dough spaced out on the trays and gently squash with the back of a fork.
Cook for around 12 minutes until golden around the ages- I found they needed around 16 minutes until they were a nice colour and I turned the oven up for the last few minutes
Allow to cool slightly on a baking tray before eating!
We would love to hear if you make these, I will definitely be making them again soon.
It’s been a strange few weeks since the schools closed and lockdown started. I was looking forward to not having to go to school every day and the first week we were really busy and active at home but it soon got a bit boring.
I know we are lucky that we are all safe and are able to stay home but my Mum is on the shielding list and it seems to have been a very long time since we left the house.
We have had a few arguments and each of us have had days of feeling a bit fed up. We are just trying to make sure we enjoy the time as much as we can. Mum made us all write a diary from the beginning of lockdown which although it is a bit of a pain and I keep forgetting to do, it will be interesting to read back on once we are able to go back to normal life.
I am missing seeing my friends and be able to do proper sports. It is really strange doing school work at home, the teachers are setting us normal lessons, some are fine but some are really difficult to do at home.
We have found lots of things to keep us busy though so thought I would share some of our favourite things that we have been getting up to.
Cooking and baking
We have been taking turns each day to make something or help cook. I have made lots of proper meals like spaghetti bolognaise, shepherds pie and Belgium stew, Lottie has made pizza dough, cakes and cookies and Sam has made pastries and cornflake cakes. Lottie even made a ration cake without egg or fat to go with her topic of WW2, which was actually really nice.
Today I made peanut butter cookies which I think is one of my favourite things I have made and were really easy to do by myself. I will post the recipe when I get chance.
We have been revisiting some of our favourite games and have restarted our family game nights,. Some of the games we have enjoyed the most have been scrabble, monopoly, battleships, Villainous, Othello, Lexicon Go and Randomise.
I have been teaching my little brother how to play some of the games that he isn’t too young for. My Mum says she would never have let me play on the xbox when I was only five but this is a bit different from normal and she is happy that he and I are doing something together. Lottie and Sam have been enjoying playing Crayola Scoot on there a bit. It’s also been good to be able to play with some of my friends online too.
I’ve been learning French on Duolingo which is pretty good as it is quite straightforward to use and you can do it in short bursts. I have also been playing Lexulous against my Aunt which is a word game that you can play over as long as you like. I am now trying out some stop motion picture apps to see which ones are any good.
In the Garden
At the start of lockdown we were busy with lots of jobs in the garden because we had a shed to dismantle and wanted to build a vegetable patch but now we have done that we haven’t got much more we can do until we can buy some plants and materials but we have had a go at planting seeds and things so will see how they go.
Otherwise Lottie has been spending most of her time either on the trampoline or cartwheeling up and down the garden and I have been teaching Sam to play catch and football and playing Swingball. We got a badminton set a while back that we finally set up the other day- none of us are any good at it but it’s quite funny. I have also been making up obstacle courses for them to run round and to practise my hockey skills on. I don’t think my Rebound Net has ever had so much use!
We took Sam on a minibeast hunt the other day as part of his school work which he really loved doing.
YouTube and Facebook
We have found some good things to watch and explore online. Lottie and Mum have been really enjoying the Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals on a Friday night and Sam has loved the zoo’s and Aquariums that are doing videos on Facebook, some of them are really interesting.
All three of us have all been doing some of the art classes and really like Harptoons which is really easy to follow to draw cartoons.
We all really enjoying the Northern Lights tour which worked well on just a phone but was really good on my VR headset- this is definitely worth a look when you have a few minutes.
I have run out of things to read now so am going to have to ask my parents to order me some e-books until we can buy some or go to the library but I have been rereading a lot of my old books. We had a few review copies to read which we have been doing (and will review soon!) has now Lottie also gone back to reread some of her old favourites including the Wimpy Kid Books and our set of Roald Dahl books- she is especially enjoying Boy. We have probably read more this last few weeks that we have in a long time and it is always good to go back to some old favourites. Sam got a new Supertato book for his birthday so has been asking for that to be read on repeat since!
My Dad got me some pallets from work and I have some plans of what I might make with them- hoping to have a look this week so if I do something interesting I will share it!
Otherwise my days are basically filled with school work and scrolling through the internet but we aren’t too bored and aren’t arguing too much! I am really looking forward to when things start to feel a bit more normal though.
We would love to hear what you are doing to keep busy?
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One of the best things about Secondary School is that I no longer have to think of costumes for different events. I like the idea of World Book Day as I love to read and we love discovering new books but I really, really don’t like dressing up!
Over the years we have come up with a number of ideas that don’t involve too much dressing up and I thought I would share them with you in case you need some ideas.
This one is quite easy but still looks like you have tried! All you need is a black hoody, black trousers, a balaclava if you have one and then find a draw string bag, if you have a fabric pen you can label it with swag but otherwise just fill it and hang any costume jewellery out from the side- I borrowed my sister’s dress up tiaras and necklaces.
All you need is jeans and a red t-shirt, you can then carry either an empty medicine bottle and spoon or make your own oversized accessories but this one is perfect if you are more comfortable in your own clothes.
This is a bit more like dressing up but it depends on how far you want to go. You could just wear slightly too small clothes and carry a sack or you could also wear wellies and a flat cap and get hold of a pheasant type toy.
Roald Dahl books are great for recognisable costumes without having to feel properly dressed up. Charlie just needs clothes that are a bit too small too small and a large homemade golden ticket and Wonka bar
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.’
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.
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
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.
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.
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!