National Citizen Service: Learn Skills for Life

Friday, 13 April 2018

Now Mikey is getting older and becoming more confident, he's looking for more and more different challenges to complete, especially without us! I wasn't sure what he could do, until I heard about the National Citizen Service.

NCS is a government funded programme that is open to 15 to 17 year olds across England and Northern Ireland. The two to four week programme takes place in the school holidays and includes outdoor team building exercises, a residential for participants to learn 'life skills', a community-based social action project and an end of programme celebration event.

The idea behind NCS is to help build a more cohesive and engaged society. By bringing together young people from different backgrounds for a unique shared experience, NCS helps them to become better individuals, which in turn helps them to become better citizens.

Also, as we're in a time of political uncertainty , NCS is a powerful tool to ensure that the next generation see more in their similarities than differences.

In the past, I'd heard about NCS on the radio while on the school run, but I can honestly say that I never properly listened as at the time Mikey was too young! Now looking at it again, both Mikey and I really like the idea of the programme. There are some things he's encountered before, but only as a solo effort for his Duke of Edinburgh award, so I love that with NCS he can work together with other people his age and make a real difference.

Although he's still only in Year 9, it's definitely something we'll be looking at when he's in Year 11.

To date, NCS has had almost 400,000 young people take part and more than 7 million hours of community action have been completed which is amazing and this year, more than 100,000 teenagers from different backgrounds will come together with a common purpose.

What I though was pretty amazing is that for every £1 spent, NCS' 2016 summer programme delivered between £1.15 and £2.42 of benefits back to society.

Now you would think that something like this would cost a fair amount, maybe in the hundreds? Especially as it lasts for two to four weeks. Well, you'd be wrong!  NCS costs just £50, which includes food, accommodation and travel. Which is amazing value for money! Bursaries are also available on a case by case basis and support is also provided for young people with additional needs.

There are still places available for Year 11s to take part in this once in a lifetime opportunity this summer. Don't worry if your teen is interested but have school holiday plans as NCS will endeavor to find a place for them at a time that suits :)

To register for information and to sign up now, head over to the NCS website.

You can find out more about NCS on their website, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Disclaimer: This is a collaborative post.

Cobra Paw: Do you have the ninja skills?

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Happy April everyone! It's been a little while since I reviewed a game for the  Asmodee UK Blogger Board Game Club and today, I wanted to share Cobra Paw with you :)

A fast game, it starts with the youngest player rolling the dice. Using their ninja-like skills, each player races to snatch up the matching tile before the other players. The winner of the tile then rolls the dice and the game continues until the winner collects 6 tiles.

We decided to play this with my niece, Maisie, who is 6 years old as she loves board games almost as much as we do!

It was so fast paced, my sister was the photographer because I couldn't keep up with the game! I have to say, this is my favourite game that I've reviewed for the Bloggers Board Game Club :)

I really like that the game only lasts about five minutes, which is the perfect amount of time for younger ones. I would say that the recommended starting age is a good one. We tried to help Dot and my other niece Frankie (both are three) but they did struggle a bit and soon got bored and wandered off!

We played for a good half an hour together and then Mikey and Maisie continued to play for another half hour.  Maisie's favourite bit was stealing the matching tiles from Mikey! This is definitely a game that we will be playing all the time. My sister and I were even talking about taking it away for our upcoming girly weekend because it's so much fun!

Cobra Paw is suitable for 2 to 6+ players aged 5 years and over. It is available to buy on Amazon retailing for £14.99. Happy playing! :)

Disclaimer: We were sent Cobra Paw in return for our honest opinion. As always, our opinions are our own.

Our Little Globe: There's a whole world out there!

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Recently, Dorothy has been loving learning about the world around her. She has always enjoyed learning new things and soaks things up like a little sponge, but since she started nursery in January, she has really taken to it all.

One of her topics was "the world around us", where they learnt about different countries and cultures. They even had a little travel agents in the home corner! Learning about other places was something that seemed to strike a cord with her, so when I found Our Little Globe, it was perfect!

Our Little Globe is a company created by mums and passionate travellers, Erin and Fi. They wanted to create a monthly box that nurtures children's natural curiosity whilst inspiring fun learning. They also wanted to create something that could encourage solo play and independent thinking and also provide an activity for family together, such as family cooking.

Dorothy reviewed the first box, which includes a mini suitcase, a passport and stickers to document their adventures and a world map to plan adventures.

Each subsequent month, children can learn about a new country with themed craft, family recipes, a personalised letter from a penpal abroad, stickers to add to their passport and a unique illustration to slot into their suitcase that allows them to visually explore the country.

The firsts box was Spanish themed and Dorothy really loved learning all about Spain. She keeps saying "Adios" to everyone now! Although a little younger than the recommended 5 years, she really learnt a lot and enjoyed all the different aspects of her suitcase. I know that she will love learning about all the other countries as well :)

The prices for Our Little Globe are £9.95 a month, a 6 month subscription is £54.95 and a 12 month subscription is £99.95.

Now the lovely people at Our Little Globe have given me a discount code for 20% off  to share with you lovely readers! All you have to do is to enter DOT20 at the checkout to claim your discount on your own subscription :)

You can find more about Our Little Globe on their website, on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Disclaimer: We were sent an Our Little Globe subscription box in return for our honest opinion. As always, all opinions are our own.

Outdoor Toys with what2buy4kids plus a Giveaway

Monday, 9 April 2018

Now we're in Spring, the weather is finally starting to become more lovely and we're even getting more than one day of sun in a row, which is a delight!

As the weather gets nicer, our family thinks of one thing- getting outside as much as possible. Mark and I love barbecues and gardening, but while we're enjoying that, the kids love playing. With that in mind, I wanted to share with you a few of my favourite outdoor toys from what2buy4kids :)

Giant Draughts £19.99

This supersized classic board game is great fun and perfect for a sunny afternoon. The board measures 90cm x 90cm and comes with 24 board pieces. 

LED Stomp Rocket £15.99

This has all the fun of the original Stomp Rocket, but with the added LEDs, it glows in the dark which means it can still be played with as the sun goes down. The rocket shoots up to 200 feet in the air. There is no need for fuel as the foam-tipped rockets are powered by the air. Also, because they glow in the dark, you can easily locate the rocket- no more rummaging in the flower beds! 

Kids Scavenger Hunt £12.99

This is a great game for the whole family. The aim is to race around the home or garden collecting the items on the cards as quickly as possible. Although it says that it's suitable for players aged 6 and over, you can play in teams so the little ones can play too :)

Tin Can Tumble £18.99

With this fun game, you can bring a fairground classic to your garden. Simply stack up the cans, take aim and see how many tin cans you can knock down. Great fun for all the family. This set includes 10 cans and 2 bean bags. The cans are numbered so you can also score points for an added twist. 

Space Rocket Pop Up Tent £27.99

One of eight different designs of pop up tent, this is my favourite! The main structure simply pops up whilst poles are included for added support. It's perfect for both outdoor and indoor play and large enough for two children. It also comes with a carry case. Fully assembled, the size of the tent is 130cm x 100cm.

Aerobie Sprint Ring £9.99

The World's Best Flying Ring! With its patented aerodynamic design, the Sprint Ring flies up to twice as far as other discs and its modern shape and bright colour make it that little bit different to a normal flying disc.

These are only a few of the outdoor toys available at what2buy4kids. As well as the giveaway, I've also been given a 10% discount code off any order at what2buy4kids*, so why not pop over and take a look at their fantastic range?

You can find these and more on what2buy4kids website. You can also find out more about what2buy4kids on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


The lovely people at what2buy4kids are giving you the chance to win a LED Stomp Rocket for your outdoor fun. You can enter via the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prize: 1 x LED Stomp Rocket 
Ends: 12th May 2018
Winner will be notified by email within 3 days. UK Only.

*Affiliate Disclaimer: If you use the above code, as well as you receiving a discount on your purchase, I will also receive a small payment.  

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Alienwork Quartz Watch: Review & Giveaway

Monday, 19 March 2018

I love a good watch. There are a few things I look for when buying a watch. Obviously they have to tell the time (!) but also, one that is not too expensive, looks good, robust and can also put up with a busy life with kids. It does sound a little bit like a pipedream though, especially when you live with a fireball like Dorothy!

However, recently, we were lucky to try out the All Black Alienwork Quartz Watch with a Milanese band.

It has a slim design, with a delicate clock face but is also said to be strong and durable, so I asked Mark to put it through it's paces on a normal busy week.

Mark put the watch through normal wear and tear of playing with the kids, work, changing a car tyre, some heavy duty gardening jobs and even his football coaching on Saturday morning, where he helps coach over 90 little ones ranging from 2 to 7.

So at the end of the week, Mark gave me his final assessment.

"Easily 10 out of 10. I really like it. It's modern, has a sleek design and is very lightweight, which is great, especially in a men's watch. I also really like the band as it's easy to adjust and fasten. But mostly, it's survived a busy week without even a scratch."

Then about five minutes after this glowing review, he then said:

"I also really like it as it helps me be on time because as we know, lateness is a discourtesy to others". 

which for anyone who has seen "Clockwise" knows this to be true!

We were really impressed with the Alienwork Quartz Watch. It is everything that it says it is and more. I also like that it comes in a handy little case :)


Now to the giveaway! You can win your very own Alienwork Quartz Watch! All you have to do is enter the via the gleam form below. Good luck!

Win an Alienwork Quartz Watch #6

Prize: 1 x Alienwork Quartz Watch
Ends: 16th April 2018
Winner will be notified by email within 3 days. UK only

Disclaimer: We were sent an Alienwork Quartz Watch in return for our honest views. As always, all opinions are our own. 

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

The Pramshed

Dinosaurs In The Wild

Monday, 26 February 2018

 I've loved dinosaurs since I was little and Dorothy seems to have caught the dinosaur bug too. She's stolen Mikey's dinosaur books and we've already been to see the exhibit at the Natural History Museum, which we really enjoyed.

I've been looking at some other dinosaur activities and really liked the look of Dinosaurs In The Wild in London, so after sorting out travel details etc, we decided to go yesterday!

For those of you that haven't heard of Dinosaurs In The Wild, it is an immersive time-travelling adventure where you go back 67 million years and meet living dinosaurs!

Now I don't want to give away too much or spoil the experience for you, so I'll only tell you a little bit about it!

We arrived in plenty of time for our timeslot and after a bag and ticket check, we found ourselves in the seating area waiting for our turn for travelling into the past. We were then met by a Chronotex employee (Chronotex Enterprises invented time travel and built TimeBase 67 where you travel to.) and a guide who would be with us throughout the time travelling experience.

We were also given glasses that would protect us from the UV rays from time travelling.

After travelling back to the Cretaceous period, we were then guided through TimeBase 67, the research station where scientists study living dinosaurs. Among other things, we got to explore and a lab and even put your hands in dinosaur poo!

We also visited the hatchery and saw a triceratops hatching!

We also visited the lookout, where there were panoramic views to the outside of TimeBase 67 and we got to see the dinosaurs up close. Please excuse the fuzziness of the windows, it's because of the UV-I didn't use glasses on my phone!

We had an absolutely amazing time at Dinosaurs In The Wild! The experience lasts about 70 minutes, but allow a little extra as people in your timeslot are separated into smaller groups so it's not crowded. In our group, there was only about 8-10 people.

Age wise, the people at Dinosaurs In The Wild say this experience is suitable for people aged 5 years and over, but is open to parental discretion. As you know, Dot is 3, but she had a brilliant time. It was a little bit noisy at the beginning but apart from that, there isn't anything really scary. Also, don't think that this is just for little ones- Mikey had a blast and there were a lot of people there that didn't have children. It really is suitable for everyone!

For any of you that love dinosaurs or know someone that does, you have to go and check this out! The experience is in London until 31st July and open 6 days a week, including weekends.

You can find out more about Dinosurs In The Wild on their website :)

One Messy Mama

My Random Musings


The Pramshed

Brilliant blog posts on