Monday, 16 April 2018

Engaging Teens and Helping Shape their Future with the National Citizen Service

My daughter Kezia is going to be sixteen years old this year. My youngest daughter is all grown up. Life is a whirlwind of homework, friends, concerts, YouTube, make-up tutorials, playing music on vinyl, vegan snacks, Snapchat and shopping trips. 

She is fast approaching the time when she has some big decisions to make with regards to her future post-16 options - whether she chooses to do A'Levels at college with a view to going on to university, or if she opts for a more vocational course and an apprenticeship. Whatever she chooses to do, I'll be there to support her and encourage her every step of the way, hoping that I've helped her develop the tools needed to thrive in the big wide world.

There is one decision that I hope she decides upon that will help her to shape her future and grow as an individual at this important time in her life. The National Citizenship Service is a once in a lifetime opportunity for 16 - 17 year olds to take part in a 3 - 4 week experience that helps build confidence and self belief, giving teens a taste of living away from home, developing important skills and meeting new people. This would be a great opportunity for Kezia to do something challenging while embarking on a journey of self discovery that could really help her to grow as a person. As well as the fun and adventure involved in taking part, participation in NCS will also look good on a UCAS personal statement or CV.


NCS is a government backed programme established in 2011 open to 16 and 17 year-olds across England and Northern Ireland, to help create a more cohesive and engaged society and helping to tackle some of our country's biggest social challenges. The two to four week programme takes place in the school summer holidays, and includes outdoor team-building exercises, a residential for learning essential life skills, a community-based social action project and an end of programme celebration event.

By bringing together young people from different backgrounds for a unique shared experience, NCS helps them to become better individuals, and in turn better citizens. These Generation Z teenagers have the power to change the world for the better. They are tomorrow's adults; our future leaders and influencers and could prove to be an unstoppable force!

National Citizenship Service

The NCS programme puts young people through a series of challenging activities to take them out of their comfort zone and develop their strength of character and leadership skills. They are given the chance to really connect with their communities through social action, organising events or raising money for local charities. This year more than 100, 000 16 - 17 year olds will be taking part in the scheme. The benefits of the NCS is great, not just to the teenagers who take part, but to their communities and to society as a whole. Investing in our young people is an investment in our country's future. For every £1 spent, the NCS summer programme in 2016 delivered up to £2.42 of benefits back to society.

This opportunity is a chance for teens to do something really worthwhile over the long summer holidays. As a parent, I think this is definitely worth pitching to my teenager as it will be way more rewarding to her than lazing in bed until midday throughout the whole of August! I hope she'll say yes to NCS.

NCS is amazing value for money. The whole experience including food, accommodation and travel costs just £50, which is an incredible bargain when you think of what your child can gain from taking part.  (Bursaries are available on a case by case basis and support is also provided for young people with additional needs.) Even if you have commitments over the summer, you can register for further details and NCS will try to find a spot for all interested teens at a time that suits.

There are still places available for Year 11s to take part in this once in a lifetime opportunity this summer. To sign up now, go to the NCS website using this link:

Thursday, 29 March 2018

LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes - The Flash on DVD

If you are looking for a great alternative gift to Easter Eggs for the kids this Easter, then look no further than Warner Bros new direct to DVD animated film: LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes -The Flash.  This animated adventure features DC Comics' speedy superhero the Flash in a 75 minute adventure.

When the Joker attacks Metropolis, the Justice League unites to fight him and stop him. Meanwhile, Reverse-Flash manipulates the Speed Force to put the Flash into a time loop that forces him to relive the same day over and over again—with progressively disastrous results. The Flash must find a way to restore time to its original path and face his worst enemy before all is lost.

It’s up to Batman Superman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg and their new recruits: The Atom, Krypto the Super Dog and Ace the Bat Hound, to help The Flash to recover his powers, defeat his nemesis Reverse-Flash, save the universe and escape the time loop in an exciting finale!

LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes - The Flash on DVD

With the classic LEGO Super Hero movie humour, this is a great film for keeping the kids entertained over the Easter holidays. It's a fun-filled, action packed adventure that LEGO Super Hero fans will really enjoy.  It was nice to find out more about The Flash and his story!

You can buy it from Amazon for just £7.

Disney on Ice presents Worlds of Enchantment - a show for all the family

Last night we had the privilege of attending Disney on Ice presents Worlds of Enchantment at the Genting Arena in Birmingham. We enjoyed a VIP Meet and Greet with Mickey Mouse himself before the show, which was a real treat.

Before the show starts, there is a short pre-show, Fit to Dance. Children are encouraged to get up out of their seats and join in with some energetic moves to music. It was a great way to get the kids warmed up while they are waiting for the main event.

The show itself is introduced by Disney favourites Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy bringing their own slapstick comedy and fun. First up is Toy Story starring Andy, Woody, Buzz and Jessie alongside the toy soldiers, Mr and Mrs Potato Head, Hamm, Slinky, Rex, Bull's Eye, Barbie, Ken and Lotso. As Andy prepares to leave for college, the toys find themselves in a sticky situation ending in them having to execute a daring escape from Sunnyside Daycare.  The costumes are just so incredible and a highlight in definitely the Ken and Barbie storyline with Ken's fashion show!

Disney on Ice presents Worlds of Enchantment

Next up is The Little Mermaid with beautiful ice dancing, great fishy characters and wonderful music. I loved watching Ariel and Eric's love story and their fight with Ursula the Sea Witch.

Mater, Sally and Lightning McQueen take to the ice as they help Mickey's car get souped up and ready for action. Seeing the full sized cars on the ice was very impressive.

The story of Frozen closes the show. With incredible special effects, brilliant ice dancing from Anna and Elsa and the amazing music from the movie, this part of the show is a real spectacle. Olaf brings some comedy and visual humour and is a real crowd favourite. The story of Frozen lends itself so well to the Disney on Ice show and it is done so beautifully.

The show is just so lovely. We all really enjoyed it. From the talented, skillful and impressive ice skaters, the entertaining choreography and storylines, the magical costumes and the Disney soundtrack, everything comes together to create something that the whole family will love. From my 8 year old son Freddy to my teenager Kez and her best friend Amelia to my husband Ian, everyone had a great time.

The show is touring and will be in Birmingham until April 1st. Find out more and book tickets at:

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Disney On Ice presents Worlds Of Enchantment is coming to Birmingham

The Disney on Ice show Worlds of Enchantment is coming to Birmingham’s Genting Arena on March 28th 2018! Four favourite Disney stories will  magically come to life on the ice to delight Disney fans of all ages.

Disney On Ice presents Worlds Of Enchantment

Lightning McQueen, Mater and the crew of Disney Pixar’s Cars will be revving their engines and racing across the ice with some exciting, high octane action! Dive into Ariel’s enchanted undersea kingdom where you get to meet the sea-witch Ursula, Prince Eric and The Little Mermaid’s aquatic friends. The toys are back in town when Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Jessie and the Toy Story gang escape from the tots of Sunnyside Daycare in their most daring adventure ever! Plus, enter the wintry world of Arendelle with Frozen's Anna and Elsa, Olaf and Kristoff, as they learn that true love comes from within. With wonderful costumes, super talented ice skaters and magical Disney music, Disney on Ice is family entertainment at its best!

What’s more there is a chance to warm up at the Fit to Dance pre-show party giving kids a chance to create their own wonderful stories and share them through dance. Children will be inspired to get up and get active with a Disney twist.

Find out more and book tickets to the show at Disney On Ice presents Worlds Of Enchantment will be at Genting Arena Birmingham until April 1st so book quickly if you want to experience the magic. 

Sunday, 18 March 2018

The Great Oreo Cookie Quest Challenge #OreoCookieQuest

As a family, we are huge fans of Oreos, which just so happen to be our favourite 'accidentally vegan' brand of biscuits. The fun and tasty little sandwich biscuits make a great occasional treat for all the family to enjoy. A serving of two Oreos makes the perfect after school snack for Freddy to enjoy, along with a glass of chilled almond milk and a handful of grapes.

Oreo is currently celebrating The Great Oreo Cookie Quest promotion, with special promotional packs available in store now. You can pick up a pack for the chance to win some great prizes including a once-in-a-lifetime trip to California and the Googleplex!


Oreo are challenging everyone to experience their own joyful family moments, to celebrate The Great Oreo Cookie Quest.

Making everyday moments into precious memories is something that we always strive to do. It's often the little things that happen during the course of the day, that create some of the sweetest, most unexpected and cherished memories. The times when the kids do something spontaneous and funny can lead to some genuinely joyful moments, filled with laughter.

#OreoCookieQuest Challenge

We love spending time as a family. My five children are aged between 8 and 29 years old and getting everyone together is always chaotic, noisy, hilarious and filled with absolute fun. We never fail to create some joyful family moments, creating memories to last a lifetime. These are the times I adore the most, more than anything else. And of course, it's always good to have some Oreos on hand to serve up as a teatime treat for my (mostly) vegan family!

Family Moments
Family Moments

We also  love playing board games and card games together as a family. It's nice to take some screen-free time away from technology and get back to basics with a game that involves dice and card decks instead of batteries or an app. Everyone can join in, whatever their age or ability and enjoy some quality family time. It often ends in a lot of laughs and we never take things too seriously. Rules are regularly bent!

Family Games Night

To add an extra element of Oreo fun to our games night this Friday, we decided to use them as a prize with the additional chance to enter the code on the pack to win wonderfilled prizes from Oreo! At the end of the games, Ella who was the winner, shared the packet so everyone could enjoy a post-games snack. She also scanned a cookie and entered the code into The Great Oreo Cookie Quest app, keeping her fingers crossed! Unfortunately her winner's luck ran out and she didn't win this time. Look out for the promotional packs in store now - and good luck!

Oreo Cookie Quest Promotion

This post is an entry for BritMums #OreoCookieQuest, sponsored by Oreo.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Staccups - cup stacking fun!

Staccups is a fast, furious and fun family game from University Games. With no batteries required, it's a simple game that results in hours of competitive fun. The aim  is to stack coloured cups in order, according to the coloured tab on their base, in the quickest time against your opponent.


The contents include 32 coloured cups and a podium stand spinner. There is minimal assembly required to set up. You simply have to clip the bases onto the coloured cups and you are ready to go. The quick paced game involves reaction times and hand-eye co-ordination as you race to stack your cups in a colour coordinated order. You have to match the top of the coloured cup to the previously put down coloured base, so you have to think fast and be precise to win.


Staccups is great for 2 to 4 players with the recommended age of 8+. There are different rules for games for 2, 3 and 4 players. However, Freddy enjoyed practicing on his own to try to hone his colour matching and super speedy stacking skills! There are several adaptations of the game to include an advanced and a strategy game. The shot sized cups are colourful and sturdy.

Play begins when the button on the podium is pressed, giving a starting colour for the game. Then play proceeds with players stacking their cups accurately in the quickest time. Opponents can challenge play if they think you have cheated or made a mistake.


It's a game that makes you think and which keeps your mind alert and your reflexes sharp. I love the simplicity of the game and that it requires no batteries and has uncomplicated rules. It's a good family game for everyone to enjoy.

Staccups is currently £12.99 from Smyths Toys or Amazon. (RRP £19.99)

Friday, 9 March 2018

Gazillion Bubble Pong Game

We've all seen the game where you get to splat each other in the face with cream pies, but now we can experience the first game of its kind that lets you blast your opponent with bubbles: the Gazillion Bubble Pong game!  Everyone loves bubbles, they are so much fun. Bubble Pong brings a new dimension to our love of bubbles by adding an element of competition into the mix. The aim of the game is to compete against each other by bouncing your ball into a hole, causing bubbles to blow out into your opponent's face.

Gazillion Bubble Pong delivers fun and excitement as you bounce ping pong balls into your opponent’s side of the console. If you get your ball into the opponents goal, you score points, but more importantly, you get to blast them with a burst of GAZILLION bubbles. The first person to score 3 times wins.

Gazillion Bubble Pong Game

Bubble Pong includes 1 game console, 6 ping pong balls, 2 removable trays, 2 removable bumpers, and an 8 oz bottle of Gazillion Bubbles Solution.  The game has 4 levels of difficulty, making Bubble Pong fun for the whole family.

Gazillion Bubble Pong Game

When the Bubble Pong game is over, you can switch to bubble machine mode for some non-stop bubble fun. Perfect for barbecues and parties, Bubble Pong is  a great game for outdoors in the warmer summer months. The two in one functionality makes the Gazillion Bubble Pong Game, a great value and versatile toy. 

Young children adore the magic of bubbles and will enjoy running around to chase and pop the bubbles, while the older children will enjoy the competitive element and practicing the skills needed to get their ball into the goal to activate the bubble blower.

Gazillion Bubble Pong

Gazillion bubbles are premium bubbles, which are available in original and Big Bubble solutions. Refils come in 8 oz, 2 l and 4 l sized bottles. They are definitely one of the best brands of bubbles that we have ever used. They really are good quality, making lovely, long lasting bubbles.

The Gazillion Bubble Pong Game is priced at £19.99. Batteries (8 x AA) are required and are not included. The game is aimed at children aged 3+, so is suitable for the whole family to enjoy together. It is available to buy now at Amazon, Argos Online and Smyths.


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