Sunday, 14 October 2018

Lapland Mailroom: Review

When it comes to Christmas I like to get things sorted sooner rather than later. One thing for me that is it a must do ASAP is the Letter From Santa I panic that if I leave it too late then it won't arrive in time or the order books will be so full that they can't fit me in. Another issue is, choosing which Santa will write the letter. This year I'm working with Lapland Mailroom to create a magical letter for my children.

The Lapland Mailroom offers a great selection of personalised letters starting at just £8.95 and comes with a free good child certificate signed by the jolly man himself you can upgrade the package and opt for the one that comes with a Christmas activity pack priced at £9.95. Once you have chosen your package you can then choose from three different letter styles each one of them you can make more personal by adding location, saying what they left out last year and of course what they are hoping Santa will bring them. There is even an option on whether you use Santa Claus or Father Christmas.

The process is really easy and is full of opportunities to read what your letter says to make sure you are happy with it before purchasing it. If you are ordering more than one letter there is an option when you come to the payment section that says 'Add Another' there is also an option for express delivery which costs just 75p and the letter will be posted out to you in the next 48hrs.

I can't wait until the children's letter's arrive and to see the excitement on their face's. It has been such a pleasure to use this company for our Christmas letter's as the process was just so straight forward and easy to use we will definitely be using them in the future.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Fingerlings Hugs

Last year all Jared wanted was a Fingerling monkey, his cousin had one and he spent hours playing with it when we were visiting. Luckily Santa brought him two last year one being a Boris and the other a Sloth. The problem with this was that his sister also wanted one but being as little as she was I didn't think it would be wise to get her one. Cue tantrum's and tears. A little while back we were sent an email introducing us to the new Fingerling Hug's which are available in Blue (Boris) or Pink (Bella) and even a Sloth. We were sent the Blue one which is Boris, in cuddle form. As soon as Eryn saw what it was she was trying to cuddle him.

For fan's of the Fingerlings these super sized cuddly buddies are a must. Very much like the smaller Fingerlings they are interactive with over 40 different sounds. Eryn's favourite seems to be the kissing sound which it makes when you give it a kiss. You can rock him to sleep or even record a message. The Fingerlings Hugs have arms that can wrap around and give you a cuddle or swing around in the tree's there is Velcro on the hands so they can clasp together.

Eryn really enjoys playing with Mun-Keh (Boris) most of the time he is wrapped around her as she pushes her baby in the pram and then sits him down on the Rody horse. I have found that having Boris around has increased her imagination, although he has sounds she has also given him a voice. I watched her play with him while Jared had his Fingerlings and they had some kind of game going on which was lovely to watch.

The Fingerlings Hugs says that it is suitable for ages 3+, Eryn is two and has been fine with Mun-Keh however she has been supervised whilst playing. That being said she often plays with her brothers toys which are for older children. I personally think that as long as your child is supervised it's fine (don't shoot me down PP's).

Boris and Bella and Sloth are battery operated and they come with test batteries you can purchase them at The Entertainer, Smyths Toys, Argos and retail at £29.99. 

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Bear Grylls Adventure

Have you ever fancied testing your nerve? Facing your fears, and experiencing once in a life time opportunities? Well recently we had an opportunity to do just that by working with the awesome guys at Bear Grylls Adventure land in Birmingham. It was Liam's birthday the day before we went so I let him choose the main activity we did, for this reason Liam will be writing this post.

Bear Grylls Adventure was opened in the summer of 2018 and all the activities have been designed and signed off by the man himself. You have the opportunity to do 4 base camp activities which include a maze, room escape, marines assault course and archery. You can do these with any other main activity. The main activities are, Rock climbing, High Rope Climbing, indoor sky diving and snorkelling or scuba diving. All the activities are carried out in groups, led by a member of Bear's team. 

As it was a little birthday treat I chose to go scuba diving. It is something I have always wanted to do and when I found out that the diving would include sharks, sting rays and hundreds of fish, I knew my mind was made up. I was like a kid on Christmas eve during the build up to the journey down. I was stupidly excited and I ended up telling everyone I worked with about what I was going to do. 

The place is extremely easy to find, although there is no parking on site, there is a car park about 5 minutes away and with you parking ticket validation at Bear Grylls Adventure, the parking is pretty reasonable. We were there for just over 6 hours and parking came to £7.

Walking up to the building you hear music which add to the atmosphere of adventure and survival. With the high ropes to your right hand side you walk up a winding path and met with a helicopter hanging out of the building over the front door with a zip wire running to the ground leading to the high ropes. Walking through the door you are greeted by staff who show you to a locker and give you a wrist band to lock & unlock the locker. They also tell you what time your base camp starts and then you can explore. We had around half an hour to explore before our base camp started so we took this as an opportunity to look at the pool we would be diving into. The pool was a huge array of different colours and species of fish. Sting rays were swooping round the tank effortlessly, but, most impressively, huge black tip reef sharks were swimming around dominating the pool. I got talking to a worker there who explained that all the sharks they have, have been rescued. The centrepiece of the room is a giant tree with a plane stuck in it, which carried some significance later on in your base camp activities.

It was time to start the base camp activities, first up was the survival maze. I won't go into too much detail as I do not want to ruin the experience for anyone, however if you really want to know then feel free to interact with me on social media and I will divulge all. The maze is designed to test your nerve and make you face your fears. I personally did not think it would be too bad, it is just for entertainment right? While it is for entertainment it is the fear of the unknown that is the hardest to overcome. At the end of the maze you also have to undertake a bush tucker trial "I'm A Celebrity Style" As I've said, I won't go into too much detail as I don't want to ruin it so I will sum the maze up in a few words... Dark.... Wet... Small.... Meal Worms.

After this it was onto the room escape games, this is where the plane in the tree comes into the equation. You have to find the pilot on a map and the coordinates are you code to freedom. This game takes team work and communication, which sadly our team lacked as we were locked into the room. You have to decode instructions and also listen to information coming through on the radio for clues. After the first room you go down an escape shoot which is honestly, the most brutal slide I have ever been down. Coming out of the slide you reach another room and another puzzle, now I wish I could offer you help on this one but I was stumped There were flags with numbers on, a map and knots. Make of that what you will. The staff said that no many people escape the room and it has been designed to be extremely difficult.

After we left the escape room area it was onto the marines assault course. This is based loosely on a real marines training course but is obviously toned down. You start by doing a warm up and then set off in pairs... being competitive I made it my aim to finish first, I don't think the people in front of me knew they were in a race. You start by hopping between steps then climbing over and ducking under wooden beams. Crawling under netting you find your self having to climb up a steep(ish) hill with the aid of a rope to get onto the higher levels. The rest of the course is a mix of walls to climb over, poles to slide across and everyone's favourite punishment... monkey bars. Then there is a final sprint to the finish to do a fireman's pole. As you get down the staff ask how you found it and if you'd ever want to do it again... it seems I was the only person in my group who really enjoyed it and would of loved to go again. 

Last base camp activity was the archery. Jade had never done archery before so she was really excited, she is pretty good at things that require technique and skill. I have already tried archery in the past so I knew my skill was non existent. I'd have like to have spent longer doing this but we only really got to shoot 10 or so arrows each. The archery is done with traditional old wooden bow's which add to the outdoor's survival feel of the place which I thought was a great touch.

We then had about an hours break before we went scuba diving. We decided to check out the cafe as we both needed a drink. The prices were a little steep but the quality of the products look as though it could easily warrant the price being paid. The pizza's were £6 per pizza but they were cooked fresh in a wood fired oven so they were traditional pizza's unlike some other places that just buy frozen bases and put some cheese and tomato sauce on them.

Onto scuba diving, we had to go upstairs for this activity and we were greeting to a old rusted ship door which we passed through and into the briefing room. We were given a thorough talk from a qualified diver who explained what techniques were need to do in the practice pool before we were allowed into the open pool. These included, removing water from the mask, taking the mouth piece out under water and also dropping the mouth piece behind you and recovering it under water. Once the briefing was done we were over to the changing room to get into out scuba gear. Now, for those who haven't ever worn a wet suit before... they are literally the hardest things to get on ever. Once we were all changed and ready it was into the training pool. I could see Jade was panicking at this point, she's not a fan of feeling trapped or enclosed, and with how tight the suit was coupled with the mask blocking you from breathing out your nose it was not an ideal situation for her. We both got in the water and we were suited up. We took our first dip under the water and our first breaths as a scuba diver. Jade shortly after this had to leave the pool as she could feel her breathing going out of control. She was devastated that should could not do it, however it meant she could go back down stairs and grab some pretty cool photos. I won't pretend that scuba diving is easy, or that I wasn't nervous. All your life you've been told that you cannot breath underwater then all of a sudden you have to breath underwater. You become conscious of breathing and you have to think about how to breath. It took me a few attempts to get down into the pool, one because I could not get my breathing to a point where i felt comfortable and two because I could not get my ears to pop. The pool is around 4 metres deep but you can feel the difference in the pressure. The diving instructors take you round the pool and you can an experience the marine life up close, rays rubbing themselves against you, fish swimming between your feet and sharks swimming over head. It is a whole different world down there, all you can hear is the noise you your respirator and you breath in and out. Walking around feels like your in zero gravity and everything is just so peaceful. At points throughout the adventure you can just kneel on the bottom of the tank and really take in how beautiful the world around you is and something I took away was how we, as humans are killing marine life by over fishing and polluting and how we, as humans are solely responsible for the conservation of these beautiful creatures and underwater worlds. At the end of the dive you are taken back to the briefing room for a final speech, you obtain a PADI certificate which is your first step towards being a fully qualified diver and also you can be put in touch with local diving clubs if you enjoyed your experience.

At the end of our day I expected to be tired but it was the exact opposite, I will on a huge adrenaline buzz that lasted for hours. I still get the same excitement when I talk about it to people now. All the instructors we had were outstanding, patient and knowledgeable. I am already looking to plan my next trip where I would be more that willing to pay the maximum price and do all the activities in one day.

If you want to know more about my experience or the maze then get in touch 
Twitter & Instagram @LiamBurton92

Monday, 1 October 2018

10 Great Reason To Get A Reusable Advent Calendar

With Christmas around the corner I have started to look at the usual things we buy that help us feel that warm fuzzy excited feeling which ultimately makes Christmas feel like Christmas. The first thing the kids want to buy is an advent calendar, no surprise there! Each year they get a chocolate filled one and additional one, last year Jared had a Lego Star Wars. Of course they also have chocolate or sweet filled ones at the Grandparents houses.

I worked out that we spent just under £50 last year on advent calendars, crazy right?! So this year
I will be getting a reusable one for them to share, each draw will have two treats and they will take
it in turns to open the draws. Below I have wrote a few great reasons on why I think people should
switch from disposable to reusable.

1.It's better for the environment, although the cardboard part of the calender's can be recycled the
plastic trays can't be and often spend years on a landfill site. Making them Eco-friendly

2.Re-useable advent calendar's are great for people who have allergies. If you have a child who has an allergy then I'm sure you will agree that they tend to priced a lot higher and often don't look thatgreat.

3.If your vegan this is a calendar that you will love. You can pop in some vegan choc or even something different like wax melts. One thing is guaranteed it will be super vegan friendly. 

4.If you have more than one child then a re-usable advent calendar can save you some money. With each pocket or draw you can pop twice the amount of goodies in and just let the kids take it in turns at getting the treats out. It promotes sharing as well so that is a added bonus.  

5. They are cost effective. Each year we all get a calendar and the cost is around £5 plus per calendar with a re-usable one I pay once and I have it for years only shelling out for the price of the treats inside. 

6. If you are sick of seeing Peppa Pig or Transformers build snowmen then defiantly invest in one of these. You can find some great designs that will fit with your decor and many places will custom make them to match your colour scheme. 

7. As well as being able to get them to match your colour scheme you can also get them personalised with names. You could opt for a family one that just had your family name on or you could get the kids names on. 

8. Not everyone wants a chocolate a day making these great as you could fill them with whatever you want, alcohol mini's, wax melts, stationary or even mix it up and put a bit of everything in.  

9. Having a re-usable advent calendar can create a family tradition as it will become one of those items that comes out every year. If looked after it could even be passed down in years to come.

10. There are many places you can buy these types of advent calendar's but for me another plus is that so many small businesses sell these and custom make them, so not only do I get a unique advent but I'm also supporting a small business.  

Do you have a reusable advent calendar? Or are you now thinking of switching? For me I really do
love the freedom of being able to fill them with what I want which I know will be appreciated so much
more than a small plastic tasting bit of choccy. It’s a bonus that they are eco-friendly as well.