Don’t get Thunderbirds wrong! – wot so funee?

As I sit and start to type this post, it’s pouring with rain outside. To be fair, it hasn’t been too rainy recently, but it’s making up for it today. This seems a good point to start with a funee moment from when the boys were at the park with Daddy at the weekend. Andrew was standing on the ground and Joel was just above him on the climbing frame, looking down. Andrew looked up to the sky and said: “Is it raining Daddy?” And Daddy’s (honest) reply was: “No Andrew, it’s just Joel dribbling on your head!” This is quite normal for Joel – copious amounts of dribble are often seen escaping from his mouth, hence the need for mummy-made super absorbent dribble bibs.

As usual, we’ve been spending quite a bit of time in the garden this past week, especially when I was ill and it was the easiest thing to entertain the boys with, simply by opening the door and letting them run off steam without too much effort from me. Andrew is very into the game pictured here, though this was taken after Joel had knocked it down and put golf balls in some of the holes – little brothers can be SO annoying! Andrew has heard us say the name of the game quite a bit, but the other day he asked if we could play it before I mentioned any names…

Andrew: “Can we play forget 4 please?”

Me: “Forget 4??”

Andrew: “No wait…. cadet 4?”

Me: “Ah I think you mean CONNECT 4 Andrew!” 🙂

IMG 1785

The trees are starting to be colourful again, so we’ve been talking about spring and what this means in terms of tree life cycles. Granny and Grandad’s garden has a lovely (except when it sheds all its petals in one go) magnolia tree, which is currently making the lawn look like it’s been hit by a freak snow storm. To try and cheer me up when I was ill, Andrew came up to me and kindly offered me a petal: “Look, here’s a blossom for you Mummy! There’s lots of blossoms here.” Aw, cute that he thinks one petal is one blossom rather than blossom being the collective noun.

No wot so funee? post from me would be complete without a foodie funee (or several). Andrew often asks what’s for tea these days, and I get met with various reactions depending on my answer. Here’s what happened one day this week…

Andrew: “What we having for tea?”

Me: “Casserole Andrew.”

Andrew: “Oh…… Hmm…. I do like roll!” *moves hand around in a gesture the shape of a swiss roll* (I wish I’d got a video of the hand bit – that really made the funee at the time!)

There’s been a new cereal in the cupboard this week – ‘Copters’ by Kelloggs Coco Pops. Andrew of course thinks these are amazing because (a) they look like helicopter blades and (b) they turn the milk chocolatey which he can drink with a straw after he’s eaten the cereals. He sometimes has a bit of trouble remembering the shortened name though (he can say helicopter fine), so a few mornings he has asked for “hocters”.

I’ve mentioned several times before that Andrew (along with his brother) is very active. When he was tearing around the living room crazily the other day, Granny asked him: “Where so you get all your energy from? Can I have some?” His response was: “From a doctor!” Aha, now we know the secret – quick, let’s all go to this doctor for a boost! Of course it might also help that Andrew has access to secret Thunderbird powers. Like when he attaches two small mole cuddly toys to himself, holding them underneath his arms, and these become his super powerful engines that blast him like a rocket around the house. Yes, we’re still mad about Thunderbirds and rockets, no change there.

In fact he now thinks of himself as so clued up on Thunderbirds that he has the right to tell us off when we don’t get it right. One of Grandad’s favourite little sayings at the moment is ‘don’t get X wrong’, which apparently comes from Alan Partridge (who I believe said ‘don’t get Bond wrong’). Grandad uses it in the context of anything that is said wrongly – so he replaces X with whatever it might be. Of course Andrew, being the little sponge that he is, had soaked this one up without us knowing, that is until one evening this week when it became quite clear… The boys have a ‘routine’ for going up to bath, which (surprise, surprise) also includes Thunderbirds! Andrew pretends to be one of the Thunderbird rockets/vehicles and he assigns one to Joel too, then they each blast off upstairs in the manner of the chosen rocket. Except one evening Daddy got it mixed up, and called Joel Thunderbird 1 when he’d been assigned Thunderbird 3. Cue Andrew… “No! Don’t get Thunderbirds wrong!!” And it was said with intonation just like Grandad/Alan. We all creased up with laughter 🙂

And finally for this week, we have a lovely piece of art work from the budding young artist Andrew. After dinner one day he got down from the table whilst Joel was just finishing off his food. We could see that he was drawing something on his easel with chalk. When he stepped away we could see the finished design – ta da! Then I asked what it was. His reply (in a very ‘well don’t you know?’ kind of tone: “a banana!” Of course, I can see it now, a banana, silly me! (?!?)


Wot So Funee?

Coombe Country Park – #Country Kids

This week the boys and I went to Coombe Country Park near Coventry – a park that I used to go to quite a lot as a child. It’s changed over the generation in terms of the details like playgrounds and the visitor centre, but overall it’s still the same big country park that I remember. Coombe park is home to Coombe Abbey, which was built as a monastery in the 12th century and later became a royal home following the Dissolution of the Monasteries. For several generations it was owned by the Earls of Craven, and then was bought by the city council in the 1960s and the grounds were opened up as a park. The old building is now a hotel that is a popular venue for weddings.

The park a fantastic space for the boys to explore, including a playground that’s perfect for the two of them, and plenty of paths and open space to run and ride bikes on. Last week I wrote about how Andrew is coming along well with his pedal bike, but when I’m on my own with them both, it’s better for all of us if he’s still on the balance bike, because he still needs help from me for his pedal bike and Joel gets everywhere so needs my constant attention.

The first exciting thing that we came to when we got out of the car in the car park was a load of HUGE puddles! More like mini lakes than puddles really, which the boys of course loved to wade/cycle in. Andrew even got one of his wellies stuck in some hidden mud in a puddle at one point, so I had to wade in and rescue him! Good job I had wellies on too.

Coombe Collage 1

There is an impressive long driveway leading up to the hotel, lined on both sides with a row of trees. It was a beautiful sunny (though chilly) day, and we noticed that there were plenty of spring flowers popping up underneath the trees – daffodils and crocuses were what we spotted. The shadows that the trees were creating on the grass were fascinating for the boys, gently swaying as the trees moved in the cool breeze.

Coombe Collage 2

The next exciting thing that we came to was the playground. This is new since I used to come here, and the boys love it. They particularly like the little huts to sit down in at the top of the climbing frames. There are also plenty of bridges to walk across and slides to shoot down. It is well suited to their age range, as well as to older children. In the week it’s pretty quiet, and we had this practically to ourselves until our friends came to meet us.

Coombe Collage 3

After a good hour on the playground, we went for a walk/ride around the park. I didn’t get loads of photos of the walk this time, because I was chatting to our friends and trying to keep Andrew in sight (easier said than done on his bike!) because there are a couple of lakes and streams. We forgot some bread to feed the ducks this time, but usually the lake in front of the hotel is a great place to do this and the boys enjoy it. This week there was plenty of mud to squelch through in the woods and in the open field at the far end of the park. We all got well and truly covered!

Coombe Collage 4

Once we’d made our way back to the visitor’s centre near the playground, it was time for lunch, and we’d decided to eat in the cafe there with our friends. I’ve not eaten there before but it was very reasonable – good simple sandwiches and hot snacks like beans/egg on toast – we paid less than £10 for the 3 of us to eat. In the visitor’s centre opposite the cafe there is a room for kids that has various activities where they can learn all about the wildlife and nature of the park. Andrew particularly likes the game of snakes and ladders with the spinny wheel for dice, and there are lots of things to do like colouring and sensory experiences. It is very well done and we found it hard to drag our toddlers away from this when we had to go.

Coombe Collage 5

All in all it was a fantastic morning-to-lunch out – I think it’s a sign that we’ve had good fun when we have to leave our wellies outside when we get home because they are still so muddy underneath despite trying to wash them in puddles! I’m sure we’ll be back there many more times as the boys grow up, just like when I was growing up.

As usual I’m linking up with the lovely #CountryKids linky over at Coombe Mill’s blog – which is particularly appropriate this week on the grounds of names!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall



Heroes of the City – review & giveaway

In stereotypical boy form, Andrew is very into vehicles of any sort (though he does like the colour pink). From passenger ones like cars and buses, to construction ones like diggers and cranes, to emergency ones like police cars and fire engines, to countryside ones like tractors and harvesters, and of course to airborne ones like planes and rockets, he can’t get enough of them. So when we were given the opportunity to review some goodies from the TV cartoon series Heroes of the City, I knew he’d love to put them to the test.

Heroes of the City is about rescue vehicles in a small town where everyone can be a hero. Each episode involves an exciting adventure, where characters such as Paulie Police Car and Fiona Fire Engine help the people of the town find thieves, put out fires, and solve the many mysteries that happen in the otherwise quiet town. The characters emphasise friendship, warmth, and what can be accomplished by helping each other. The cartoon is primarily targeted at children age 3-7, and is created by Swedish company Ruta Ett DVD AB. So Andrew well and truly fits in their target audience category.

Hotc eng copy

We were sent a goody bag that included 3 exciting items – toys, book and DVD – each of which I’ll review in turn below. Andrew’s first impression of these goodies was this:

“Wow I love these toys, they’re my favourite!” (though I don’t think he’s quite understood the concept of favourite, he says that about a lot of things, but still, this means it’s positive), “can I watch the DVD please?”


IMG 1382

We received two die cast toy vehicles – Paulie Police Car and Troy Tractor. These are very cute, and just the right size for Andrew to enjoy playing with now that he’s old enough to have something that bit smaller than the chunky vehicle toys that Joel still plays with. They look well made, and being metal (rather than plastic), they look like they will last for a long time of being well loved. I love how they are cartoon-y in shape – not like a standard Matchbox-style toy car – and reflect really well the characters that you see on screen. They have already been played with a lot, including the snippet of fun in this video in which they went to the car wash (or tractor wash)…


We were sent the Hot Air Balloon story, and there are others too. It has hard front and back covers with glossy full colour pages inside. The pages are filled with full scenes from the episodes, with chunks of text in boxes overlaid to tell the story. I think there is just the right amount of text for Andrew, and he can easily follow the story. He loves the big, bright pictures that fill the pages, and he’s had fun pointing out what he can see as well as reading the story with me and recognising letters and a few words. I think the font is easy to read and about the right size for Andrew at this stage. On the front and back inside covers, there’s even a spot the Calamity Crow scene, which is a fun searching game.

IMG 1444

My one slight reservation is that it sounds slightly American to me – for example in this book, the word soccer is used instead of football, and I had to explain to him what this was, because he knows what football is but he hasn’t heard of soccer. I don’t have a problem with American culture, it’s nothing personal, I just like to stick with British English when reading to Andrew. In time he will no doubt get used to American English too. It won’t stop us reading this book, I just have to do more explaining on a couple of things.


We were sent Volume 1 which has 5 episodes on. Andrew likes watching it, and straight away picked up on the fact that it’s the same characters and city as the ‘games on Mummy’s phone’. I like the animation, and the faces on the vehicles cleverly show all sorts of emotions using lights for eyes, bumpers for mouths, grills for noses etc. I can see how the aim to ’emphasise friendship, warmth, and what can be accomplished by helping each other’ comes across through watching it myself with the boys, I think it achieves this well and in a way that appeals to preschoolers, particularly if they like vehicles.

The theme tune is catchy, and I found myself humming it to the boys randomly – this happens with various kids programs I find, and this too has made it into my subconscious playlist 😉

Again I should say that the English is American, which isn’t necessarily a problem, but just something to watch out with in terms of vocab differences that crop up. It doesn’t seem to stop Andrew understanding it, though he’s used to watching DVDs and youtube in various languages that he doesn’t understand much of!


We were also asked to review the Heroes of the City Movie app, which is free to download from the App Store and Google Play. It is aimed at 2-6 year olds, so again Andrew fits well into this target audience. Included in the app are films and games, based on the Heroes of the City TV series. You get one full episode, one music video and 3 games for free, and then extra ‘fun-packs’ cost £2.49 each, with more films and games.


I downloaded the Apple version of the app on my iPhone (we were sent the full app for free). I first gave it to Andrew one morning whilst I got Joel ready and did some jobs around the house; I wanted to see how much he could figure out on his own. Before I knew it he had played most of the nine games, so I asked him to show me what to do so I could play too. He’s used to the finger actions needed to play games on his grandparents’ iPads, onto which we also downloaded the Heroes of the City app too.

He loves doing jigsaw puzzles, so the game on the app where you have to slot pieces into a puzzle to reveal a character was particularly popular, and he was very good at it. The pieces were trickier to move on the phone than on the tablet-sized screen, but he still managed it. He also liked the game where you have to touch a car that’s racing along to make him jump and catch stars with points attached. This was mainly because the car makes a ‘waps’ sound whenever he jumps, and Andrew thought this was hilarious – this game is now called the ‘waps’ game to him.

HotC_app_01As you play more games, you earn trophies depending on how well you perform, and then you can look at all your trophies in another section of the app. Andrew asked me what this was as he was flicking through, so I explained to him about the gold, silver and bronze trophies – I’m not sure he understood fully what the different colours mean, but he now knows he’s winning and collecting trophies as he goes along. I’ve also heard it on the grapevine that there is a special secret surprise in store which you unlock when you’ve collected enough trophies….!

As well as the games, there are some film clips – more than 6 hours in total (if you buy the extras). Andrew has watched a few of these, but so far it’s been mainly games that he’s played. I can imagine though, that the film clips would be a great way of entertaining him for 5-10 minutes or so if we are out and about and he’s bored waiting for something – it’s like watching a DVD but handily on the phone, already downloaded so no issues with internet connectivity when out and about. If you’re at home and have Apple devices, there is an Air Play function for your Apple TV.

I generally don’t spend money on games apps because there are some good free ones out there, but I would consider paying for 1 or 2 extra Heroes of the City fun packs because they are great games and just right for Andrew’s skills and interests at the moment, plus there are levels that increase in difficulty as he grows and develops.


We have been impressed with the pack that we were sent: Andrew has enjoyed the games, TV episodes and book, and I have generally found them just right for his age and development, with room to ‘grow’. I also like the fact that this is a collection of various media all based around the same characters and stories. Many of our books, DVDs and games are like this, and I’ve noticed that these are ones which Andrew generally comes back to again and again – maybe he likes the fact that he recognises characters across the various activities he’s doing, whether that’s reading, watching a DVD or youtube, or playing a game on the phone/iPad.

If you’d like any more info on the series, you can find out all about it on the website, Facebook page or on Twitter.

Competition time!

If you like the look of all this fun we’ve had, here’s your chance to win your very own set of toys, book and DVD. All you need to do is fill in the Rafflecopter below to be in with a chance of winning, by 22nd March (please see full T&Cs below).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: we were sent the pack and full app to review free of charge, but all opinions expressed are honest and our own, based on our experience of using the items.

In the garden – #CountryKids

In case you missed my recent posts, or haven’t seen me for a while, we’re in the process of moving from Cambridge to Birmingham. One of our reasons for moving to a more affordable city is that we can buy a house with a garden instead of our current flat. I would love to be able to open the back door and let the boys out to play, because they love being outdoors running off energy. Having said that, we do have a very nice communal garden that we share with the other 7 flats, and as none of them have children, we’re the only ones who are ever out there playing in it. But we do all have to go out and come in together because it’s not completely fenced off, and we can’t just pop back in easily if one of us needs to fetch something or go to the loo, for example.

One morning this week we hadn’t got any particular plans, and I asked Andrew what he wanted to do. His answer was to go in the garden, so we did! I knew that Joel would want (or rather need) to nap at some point after another of his spectacularly early starts, so I wore him on my back and wrapped us all up warm. He did eventually drop off, after watching Andrew run around a bit first.

Garden Collage 1

It was lovely to spend a couple of hours playing and bike riding, and I took some pictures to remind us how great this space has been. It’s nothing fancy, but the gravel circle in the centre has provided hours of entertainment over the few years we’ve been here – digging, hiding balls and other bits in it, crunching it and swishing it with our feet, kicking balls on it (and inevitably kicking gravel too!), walking/running around the brick border, making letters/numbers/patterns with the stones on the bricks… and much more!

Garden Collage 2

There are also a couple of man holes that Andrew often stands, jumps and dances on; it’s a bit like being on some kind of podium! The grass is of course great for running around on, or riding a bike on, though he prefers using the large and quiet drive in front of the flats as his bike riding territory. Talking of bikes, for a while there have been a couple of ornamental metal bikes in the garden (I think a couple of ex-residents left them when they moved out and they used to be on their balcony) – Andrew thinks these are hilarious, and loves to put his bouncy balls in the basket on one of the bikes and ‘ride’ it around, or rather drag the bike around whilst walking with it under his legs.

Garden Collage 5

Whenever we go out in the garden (or to a park), there is one rule that cannot be broken: we must take balls with us! These can be bouncy balls, footballs, tennis balls, fluffy balls – whatever balls we have that are easily find-able at the time of departure. If any children do come and live in these flats at some point, they will probably end up finding some balls lodged underneath fences, balconies, bushes etc., as I’m sure we don’t have nearly as many as we should do anymore. Andrew loves hiding small balls in the gravel, kicking any balls around the grass, and trying to throw one or two before I catch him and suggest that we save that for the park as there are too many windows in sight.

Garden Collage 4

At just less than 3 years old, Andrew just about understands the classic game of hide and seek. There are only a couple of good hiding places, most notably a long thin passage to the side of the block of flats where it doesn’t quite meet the fence – perfect size for a toddler hider. The other popular place to hide is behind the bins, but more because he knows I won’t come too near due to the smell, which doesn’t bother him apparently!

Garden Collage 3

We’ve had a lot of fun in this shared garden since the boys were born, and we have some good memories of outdoor fun very close to home in this period of our lives. Water balloons and gardening are two other blog posts that spring to mind. But looking forward to next year, we’re also excited to be searching for a house with our very own garden, and thinking about all the fun that we can have when it belongs to us 🙂

Garden Collage 6

I’m linking up with the amazing Country Kids linky again – I’ve not been so consistent at linking for the past month or so since we found out we’re moving, but I hope to be joining in again more often in the new year.