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Thursday 26 April 2012

Which Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Film do you rate?

After arriving home from our Easter break we were really pleased to be greeted by an Easter bundle from Warner Brothers.  The kids were very excited and immediately set about watching Bugs Bunny's Easter Funnies, which I am told was fabulous but I have to be honest and say I did not sit through, it did its job and kept the kids happy for a while and that suits me.  I took solace in the Mini eggs that accompanied the films!

I do like it when I can feel sure that a DVD is age appropriate and I do not need to vet it first. I always feel happy with the Warner Brother U and PG cert films that I have been sent to watch and review, they is never anything too adult in them.

One thing I did sit down and watch was the 2005 Tim Burton directed film 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'.  The remake of the classic 1971 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory' is a film I have been avoiding since it came out as I just do not like Tim Burton films in general, they tend to be a bit too weird and black in humour for me.

Dh persuaded me to have a watch, saying I would not be disappointed and my 8 year old JJ kept trying to convince me it was the best film ever.  I watched and yes I enjoyed, it was far better than I might have imagined.  I cannot be swayed from the original though if I am honest.  I suppose 30 odd Christmas viewings have persuaded me that Gene Wilder is THE Willy Wonka, but no problem there as the original film was also in our bundle.

A couple of days later, all the family sat down again and this time we watched the original movie and the girls agreed with me that Umpa Loompas are supposed to orange!  To be honest whichever film you choose as a family, you won't be disappointed they are both classics that will appeal to adults and children alike.

So what about you, which film does it for you?

Disclaimer:  I was sent the Easter package from Warner Brothers for the purpose of this review.  I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

Monday 23 April 2012

JJ Loves Heinz Moshi Monsters

Small tins of Heinz pasta shapes are pretty much a staple in our house, often when the kids come home from school and they have had their school dinner, they will want something warm but light for tea and a tin of Heinz pasta shapes with a slice of wholemeal toast is a nice easy solution when I walk in from work.  I like the fact that the tinned pasta in thick tomato sauce offers my kids one of their five-a-day and what I really like is that JJ and Miss E just love them. 
It is one of Miss E's pet loves when we go shopping, choosing which characters will feature on her tinned pasta for that week - will it be Dora or Hello Kitty?

They drew straws who would try this pasta and JJ was the winner! He really enjoyed his Heinz Moshi Monsters pasta and even more so he enjoyed the secret code on the pack of the packaging which allowed him to go onto Moshi Monsters online and catch Moshling characters.

The 205g tins retail for 49p and are available at all good supermarkets.

Disclaimer:  I was sent a tin of pasta and a small Moshi Monsters toy as a gift, I was under no obligation to write about the Heinz pasta.

Monday 16 April 2012

Skylanders Spyro's Adventure, an 8 Year Olds Perspective

Today I have handed over the blog to JJ, my 8 year old son.  He has something he wants to share with you...

When Mum came home the other day and gave me a package to open I was pretty excited, when I saw the corner poking out and it said Wii I started to rip the paper even faster and then I saw it was Skylanders Spyro's Adventure and I shouted 'yes' really loudly.  Mum told me to quieten down, it was just a game but what does she know? Skylanders is not just any game.

Loads of my friends at school have got Skylanders but they just have the first one.  Now I have Spyro's adventure I bet loads of them will want to come over and play. I can also go to their houses as I can take the figures with me and play on their games consoles too and they even keep all my information - cool and super cool is that I have the Wii but Mr B has an XBox and we can use my figures on there too.

Mum told me if I wanted to play with Skylanders I had to set it up myself as she was busy cooking tea, so I unpacked the box and had a look at the instructions, there were loads and it looked like it would be really hard but actually it was well easy.  I had seen my friend Mr F set up his game once so I copied what he did and within a few minutes I was ready to play.

With my set I got a portal of power and 3 characters Sypro, Trigger Happy and Gil Grunt. Trigger Happy is my favourite at the moment as I have the most upgrades for him. Basically I am the portal master and I have to save the Skylander world by using my different characters to beat the evil one Kaos. I like that I can change my characters really easily to make sure that I get the best use from their special powers. They each do different jobs and work better in different areas.

I have already asked Mum if I can save my pocket money to buy more of the figures, there more then 30 in total and they all do different things and allow me to play different areas.

Skylanders is the best Wii game I have and it is really fun.  I have been playing it loads and I can't wait for one of my friends to come round so we can do multi-player battles.

Back to Mum....

JJ is enamoured with this new game set and it is all he wants to do at the moment when we are home.  It was easy for him to set up on his own and he has got straight into playing it, the screen graphics look excellent and keep him really interested.  I suppose my only gripe would be that once your child has this they will want to keep buying more characters so they can access particular areas of the game.

I had not realised it was basically a shooting game but JJ tells me it is OK as it is only evil things he is killing!  Hmm not sure that really washes but I suppose as he gets older he will be exposed to these things and dh and I will have to make a decision of whether we allow him to join in with battle and killing games.

Skylanders Spyro's Adventure has been given a rating of 7 by Pegi. 

The starter pack is available on Amazon for £37.99 currently, a single character seems to be about 7 and a triple pack £19.99.  I have to be honest and say these prices are more reasonable than I had thought they might be.

Disclaimer:  JJ received the starter pack and an additional character for the purposes of this review.

Saturday 14 April 2012

Have you seen Tickety Toc on Nick Jr?

This Easter I found myself a lucky girl when a lovely Green and Blacks Easter egg hamper arrived from Nick Jr and along with it was a DVD with some Easter episodes of some of their programmes. It goes without syaing that the girls enjoyed Dora the Explorer and Team Umizoomi, they have been watching those for some time.

On this DVD was 2 episodes of Tickety Toc, a programme I have not heard of before, so I thought I would have a watch with the girls.  They were glued to the TV and loved it, that might have had something to do with the fact that it features twins, Tommy and Tallulah. This new programme launches on Nick Jr on 23rd April at 8.15am and will show every morning in April at that time.

The programme was very good as it is fun and engaging and features slapstick humour but there are also educational messages in it too.  It features learning about time in a light way which the young children can relate to. Each action-packed adventure challenges Tommy and Tallulah to save the day, return life to normal and keep the clock ticking!

Take a look, I am sure your pre-scooler will love this new programme. Watch a little sneak preview clip over on Nick Jr.

Disclaimer:  I received this hamper and DVD as a gift, I was not instructed to write anything.

Thursday 12 April 2012

Review - Frankie and Benny's Restaurants

At the moment I am sat in Butlins on holiday, we have come away for a week to a large Christian festival for Easter, whilst my Dad does some decorating for us at our house - how lucky is that?

Even luckier is that on the way we stopped and stayed the night in Bristol and as part of this stop we got to go to a Frankie and Benny's restaurant and try out their new menus. I'd thought I'd share with you with thoughts on our Frankie and Benny's experience.

I have eaten at one of these restaurants before and so has dh but not for a very long time if I am honest. JJ has been for a birthday meal with a friend and enjoyed it but it is all new to the girls.  I have to be honest and say that Frankie and Benny's had not been on our shortlist of restaurants to take the kids to as we were not sure how kid friendly they would be and we expected them to be a tad expensive.  At a total bill of £51.70 for the 5 of us to have 2 courses, side orders and drinks that assumption has been blown away.  Yes it is not the cheapest restaurant there is for a family to eat out at, but it is certainly competitive.  No more expensive than the other brands we may visit such as Pizza Express.

We arrived at the restaurant at Cribbs Causeway, Bristol at 6.15pm on a Wednesday evening.  We expected the restaurant to be pretty dead but we were wrong, it was the school holidays and people were out to celebrate.  We had a 15 minute wait with a drink for our table to be ready, but this was pleasant as there was seating available for us and the kids felt very grown up in the bar area.  When our buzzer went we were shown to our table and the kids were given an activity pack each.  I have to say these were far better than any I have received before from any of the branded chain restaurant we have visited.

I was super pleased to see a 2 course set menu for a price of £10.95 and I felt there was a good selection on the menu although I have to say that dh was disappointed with it.  As a vegetarian he had one option open to him and even this contained Parmesan, so he choose to eat off the main menu and really enjoyed his veggie burger.  I opted for the chicken carbonara bake and a side order of cheesy garlic bread, which was promptly nicked by all the kids!  In general the food was good but I did feel my pasta lacked some sauce although the flavour was good and I ate it all up.

My main, Chicken carbonara and cheesy garlic bread

I was most impressed by the kids menus, there was a small childs menu which my 4 year old girls choose from and an older choice which JJ choose from.  JJ's hotdog and fries were enormous, a good enough portion for an adult and this had him overjoyed.  The £7.55 we paid for his meal was well worth it as it included a drink and a chocolate pancake afterwards.

JJ's hot dog & fries, yes this is a kids portion!

With so many kids set meals you just get offered boring ice cream afterwards and and have to pay more for a better dessert if you desire one, but not so at Frankie and Benny's - that was a winner with me. At just £.95 for my girls to have a main course, refillable drink, side order of veg, beans or salad and a dessert of theri choice I thought it was really excellent value.

Pleased as punch!  Miss E with her bananas and custard & a pasta sauce stained mouth! lol

The girls both wanted spaghetti bolognaise and again the portion sizes were large and it must have been tasty as my little ladies ate it all up and enjoyed my garlic bread. There was also then room for ice cream for Miss M and bananas and cold custard for Miss E.  I opted for a yummy cherry crumble with ice cream which looked small but was just right and dh had a piece of cheesecake, which was a tad sweet for him, but I could have happily devoured it.

Empty plates all round .... good job!

In general I was really pleased with our trip to Frankie and Benny's, the service was prompt and very attentive.  The meals looked and tasted good in the main and our children were happy with their activities.  My only qualm would be with the noise level, as the room is very open and there are not any soft furnishings it does get exceptionally noisy when busy and this meant my kids got noisy to try and be heard over it!

As we left I asked all the family for their opinion, if they had enjoyed the meal.  Here is what they said -

JJ - Yes loved it Mummy, can we eat there every day?
Miss M - my ice cream was so nice and it is dark outside, have I missed bed time?
Miss E - Can we go again please Mummy?
Dh - Yes the veggie burger was very good but at £9.45 I would expect it to be.
Me - A fabulous meal in all, a happy family equals a happy mummy.

Frankie and Benny's have just launched 4 new menus.  There is the evening £10.95 set 2 course menu that I chose from, a £5 breakfast menu which includes red berry pancakes (yummy), a varied set lunch menu which offers 25 different main courses for just £5.95 or top up to 2 courses for £8.25 or push the boat out an dhave 3 for just £9.25 available week days and a very temping dessert menu.

Disclaimer:  I received a  voucher for £50 to eat at a Frankie and Benny's restaurant for the purpose of this review.