National Sea Life Centre Birmingham

This weekend we were extremely honoured to be invited to visit the National Sea Life Centre Birmingham to explore their Ancient Oceans event. We love the Sea Life Centre, and it never ceases to amaze us, so with the added lure of Dinosaur Detection it was a great day out.

The Ancient Oceans event is running until 21st February, and takes you back in time to when dinosaurs roamed the land, and fearsome creatures lurked in the depths of the bubbly blue. There are challenges to complete and secrets to discover which can be exchanged for a Dinosaur Detective certificate at the end, plus a Sea Life Centre medal. There are lots of different activities going on during the event, and you’re also given a timetable for the centre at the admissions desk.

One of our challenges was to keep a look out for seven bones as we made our way around the centre. We had a sheet with the bones on and a sheet of numbered stickers to add on once we discovered them on the  journey around. My two boys (three if I include my husband) loved this.


Our first port of call was the penguins. There is a big wall of frost and ice as you reach the penguins, and my boys love leaving their handprints on there, it’s a lovely way for the children to get a full-on sensory experience. The penguins always amaze my children, and being able to see them both on land and in the water is fascinating.


As you make your way around the centre there is always something to look at. The floor to ceiling fish tank is amazing, and always captivates my three year old. There is also a rock pool area where you can get hands on with some sea creatures. My boys are usually too anxious to touch any of the sea creatures, but this time they decided beforehand they were going to be brave and touch a starfish, and my 5yo carried out his plans, the 3yo ran a mile.


The coral cave also captured the attention of my children, it was so lovely being able to get so close to the fish, even this yellow fellow below!


The Sea Life Centre has really taken interaction on-board in it’s structure. A favourite part for us was the Starfish area, my boys loved this. It’s a fantastic way to get up close and personal with these sea creatures. There are pop up domes to stand under, tunnels to climb through, and portholes to look through. They really enjoyed this part.



The jelly fish are another part my boys loved. It’s great being able to get so close.


During the Ancient Oceans event there are activities in a small room by the otter enclosure.  My boys loved discovering dinosaur fossils, and as a reward they were given a real shark tooth! These teeth are now their pride and joy!


There are several fun interactive boards around the centre too, this one was a big hit with my 3yo!


The 360 degrees Oceanic Tunnel is amazing at the Sea Life Centre. It’s such a wonderful experience, and my children and I are always amazed. They always look out for the giant sea turtle too!


And, of course, at the end there is a mini soft play for the kiddies that always ends our trip well!

Up close with sea star at Sea Life Birmingham

Thanks for another great day out National Sea Life Centre Birmingham, we’ll definitely be back soon!

Ben and Holly Elf Tree Playset Review

My boys love watching Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom, and I must admit I am a little partial to it myself too. I love Nanny Plum! We have a few Ben and Holly figurines and playsets so we were thrilled to be sent the Ben and Holly Elf Tree Playset recently to review.

The Ben and Holly Elf Tree Playset includes a rocking Woodpecker, Ben Elf’s bedroom, the workshop with trap door, and also the elf toy factory.  The playset also comes with Barnaby Elf and some furniture.

Benn and Holly Elf Tree PlaysetBenn and Holly Elf Tree Playset

The trap door part of the workshop went down a treat with my little boys. They had great fun placing Barnaby Elf on the trap door and watching him fall down into the elf toy factory below. In the elf toy factory section there is also a conveyor belt where you can push the ducks along, this is a great addition to the playset that both of my boys enjoyed.

Ben and Holly Elf Tree PlaysetBen and Holly Elf Tree Playset

The rocking woodpecker created a lot of laughter in our house too, and my boys thoroughly enjoyed pretending to peck Barnaby’s furniture!

Ben and Holly Elf Tree PlaysetBen and Holly Elf Tree Playset

This playset retails at £29.99, and is recommended for 3 years plus.

We have really enjoyed testing out this Ben and Holly Elf Tree Playset, and would highly recommend it!

Peppa Pig Weebles Pull-Along Wobbily Train

We are big fans of Peppa Pig in this house, we have lots of figurines, and playsets so my boys were very excited to be sent the Peppa Pig Weebles Pull-Along Wobbily Train to test out!


The Peppa Pig Weebles Pull-Along Wobbily Train was a big hit with my boys who are aged 3 and 4. The carriages clip together very easily and really promote fine motor skills.

Peppa Pig Weebles Pull-Along Wobbily TrainPeppa Pig Weebles Pull-Along Wobbily Train

The Peppa Pig Weebles Pull-Along Wobbily Train also includes a special edition Peppa Pig Weeble with a lovely heart design. Weebles are great fun, they are figures that wobble but never fall down! We have purchase a lot of Weebles over the last five years!

Peppa Pig Weebles Pull-Along Wobbily Train

The Peppa Pig Weebles Pull-Along Wobbily Train has a recommended age of 18 months plus, but as you have read my boys loved it at ages 3 and 4 too. The Peppa Pig Weebles Pull-Along Wobbily Train retails at £17.99, and extra character Weebles retail at £4.99 each.

Peppa Pig Weebles Pull-Along Wobbily Train is great fun and worth the investment, we will definitely be buying some more Weebles characters soon to ride the train with Peppa!

Peppa Pig Weebles Pull-Along Wobbily Train

Dora and Friends Review (Sing-Along Summer)

My boys love Dora and Friends. They ask to watch the programme every single day, so we now have episodes recorded on our Tivo box as back up just in case she isn’t on Nick Jr. The songs in the programme are so catchy, even my husband sings them!

My boys were over the moon when they were asked to try out a new line of Dora and Friends toys from Fisher Price. The box actually made my 3yo squeal with delight! It’s definitely not just for girls!


They loved the Dora and Alana dolls, and have had so many role-play sessions with them. They retail at around £10.99. They have removable shoes and clothes too, and also come with a plastic dog charm which fits onto a Dora Magic Charm Bracelet that are also available to buy in the new range.


We received two charm bracelet sets. The Magic Adventure Charm bracelet came with 3 charms and a Dora figurine. My 3yo loved this. The charms are quite big and literally press onto the bracelet which I think is a really nice feature that promotes independence and strengthens fine motor skills. The other bracelet was a Dora Magic Charm Bracelet which is a replica of Dora’s. It also comes with two additional bracelets and some extra charms so that you can share it with your friends.


Out of all of the toys we were sent I think this Dora Talk and Play Smartphone (rrp £9.99) was our favourite. My boys have loved playing with it. The phone lights up and has several phrases and tunes. It is just like the one Dora uses too.


We’ve loved trying out some of the new range from Dora and Friends, and would highly recommend them!


To celebrate the release of the new line of Dora and Friends toy range Nick Jr have launched their ‘Sing-Along Summer’. There will be a Dora karaoke booth visiting Sky Retail Stands in shopping centres and Smyths stores nationwide. Your little ones can sing and dance to a Dora and Friends song for the chance to appear on Nick Jr! Dora will also be there at some of them too!! The tour dates are below:

Symths Toys

Waterfields Retail Park, Watford (Dora Costume Character)  – 27th July

Westwood Cross Shopping Park, Thanet  – 28th July

St. David’s Retail Park, Swansea – 29th July

Crown retail park, Leeds (Dora Costume Character) – 31st July

Clifton Moor Retail Park, York (Costume Character) – 3rd August

Ravenhead Retail park, St.Helens  – 5th August

Halls Mill Retail Park, Bury – 6th August

Middle Engine Lane, Wallsend – 10th August

Glasgow fort shopping park, Glasgow (Costume Character) – 12th August

Beach Boulevard, Aberdeen (Costume Character) – 14th August

Sky Retail Stands

White Rose, Leeds  – 1st August

Intu Eldon Square, Newcastle  – 8th August

Bon Accord, Aberdeen – 15th August

We hope you have fun singing along with Dora!


Casdon Toy Chip n Pin Shopping Till Review

My 3 year old and 4 year old absolutely love roleplay. They love playing shops and market stalls, so you can imagine how excited they were to try out this new Casdon Toy Chip n Pin Shopping Till!

The Casdon Toy Chip n Pin Shopping Till is perfect for pretend play. The till is functional and has a working calculator. There is also a role of till receipt that can be scrolled and teared. The till has a pretend microphone attatched and a pretend bar code scanner too.

The chip n pin machine attached to the till also works, and each card provided has its own pin number. You have to enter the correct pin number in order for the light to turn green. I think this is a great feature. It really helps with numbers, memory, and also fine motor skills. My 3 year old did get a little cross trying to enter the correct numbers, but my 4 year old loved being able to use his bank card to pay for his food.


The Casdon Toy Chip n Pin Shopping Till also comes with both plastic and paper currency, 4 boxes of pretend food, and also 3 pretend tins of food.


This till is so much more than a toy! It really promotes cause-and-effect, and hand-eye co-ordination, and is such a fab way for kids to understand the process of shopping and paying for items.


We have really enjoyed testing out the Casdon Toy Chip n Pin Shopping Till, and would highly recommend it to boys and girls aged 3 to 6.


Cloudbabies Review

My boys both love watching Cloudbabies, particularly my 3yo, so you can imagine their delight when we had some Cloudbabies goodies sent through the post. My 3yo received a Baba Yellow, and my 4yo received a Baba Blue Blankie.


Baba Yellow is a plush toy with a plastic dolls head and is for age 2+. Baba yellow retails from £6.99.


The Baba Blue Blankie is a soft toy with a very soft blanket attached. It retails from £9.99. This soft toy is great for my 4yo who has sensory issues. He loves soft textures, and finds them calming and comforting. He hasn’t put it down yet!


Cloudbabies have around 8 different toys in their range, and also several books that look fantastic too.


We love our Cloudbabies, and would highly recommend them!

Yummy Nummies Mini Kitchen Magic Review

My boys love being creative, and they definitely love food, so being given the chance to review some of the new Yummy Nummies Kitchen Magic sets was perfect for them.

Yummy nummies is the brand new way to way to create miniature treats within the toy world of the UK. It’s based on a craze that began in Japan.

Yummy Nummies Mini Kitchen Magic sets are all about having fun and getting creative. They are by no means a meal substitute or part of your child’s nutritional requirements, and they are not intended to be. They are a fun, safe, creative activity, that help children use their imagination and creative skills. The world of miniature food is such a fascinating activity for your children to take part in, they will love it, mine did!

There are three different types of sets in the Yummy Nummies range; Dinner Delights (chicken nuggets, burger and fries, spaghetti and meatballs, pizzas), Bakery Treats (cupcakes, doughnuts, cookies), and Candy Shop (gummy goodies, chocolate bar maker).

Yummy Nummies prices start from £6.99 and are available at all leading retailers.

We tried out two of the sets; pizzas and cookies. They were so simple to make, and my children thoroughly enjoyed playing chef!


The Yummy Nummies pizzas were so easy to make. The instructions are very easy for children to follow. They come with disposable trays and utensils. There are also 3 packets of labelled ingredients.


You literally mix the pizza crust powder with the required amount of water, place it in the specified tray, and then you put it in the microwave. It really is that simple. You repeat the process for the sauce mix, and then sprinkle cheese onto your finished creation. It even comes with a great little mini pizza shovel to present your pizza on.


After the success of the pizzas, my boys couldn’t wait to try out the mini cookies. As with the pizzas, there were disposable utensils, trays, and a decorative paper storage pouch to keep your finished items in.


The instructions were very easy to follow, and were literally mix, place in the specified tray, sprinkle with chocolate chips, and then microwave. Quick, easy, and yummy!


My boys really enjoyed testing out the new Yummy Nummies Mini Kitchen Magic sets. We love getting creative, and this was a great way to do that. I’d highly recommend these sets if you are looking for a fun, easy activity for your children without lots of mess and hassle.


Go ahead, try Yummy Nummies yourselves! Mix, make, and enjoy!

Sea Life Centre Sea Stars Attraction

Recently, we were lucky enough to visit the National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham for the launch of their new Sea Stars attraction. We had so much fun!

Up close with sea star at Sea Life Birmingham

Before you reach the Sea Stars Attraction you pass an open rock pool with a few star fish in, I even stroked one! Although according to my two year old “Mummy touched the star fish bum bum!” Boys!!!

National sea life birmingham new sea stars

The Sea Stars Attraction is so lovely. They have peep-holes so you can have a real close look, my boys loved this! Some of the star fish were huge!

Red knobbed sea stars at sea life birmingham

My 2yo loved being able to get so close to the star fish, although he did try to recreate the scene from Finding Nemo with Darla and the fish tank – the photo above will give away which scene if you have ever watched it!

Sea Stars attraction at National Sea Life Birmingham

There is also a Giant Sea Star to have a look at. My boys were amazed by its size! There was also an interactive screen where you could adjust the speed of the star fishes movements, this was a big hit with my 4yo.

Sea Stars at National Sea Life Birmingham

The pop-up-bubbles were my favourite part of the Sea Stars attraction. They gave you such a great perspective of the star fish, and made you really feel part of the whole experience.

Aquarium with Sea Stars in Birmingham

Painting and stamping and sea life centre birmingham

We had such a fab day out, the Sea Stars were amazing, and were the highlight of our day, along with the penguins! There is so much to do at the Sea Life Centre; 4D cinema, stingrays, penguins, soft play, photo screens, otters, sharks, ocean walk-throughs, jelly fish, turtles, and even a creative zone which my boys loved!

The Sea Life Centre is an all-year-round, any weather place to visit!

Raincoats and Wellies from Wellies & Worms – Review

My two boys love the outdoors. Weather never puts them off. They love splashing in water parks on hot, sunny days, and they love puddle jumping on rainy days. My two year old has a puddle addiction, it’s like he is magnetised to them!

During the winter my boys wear all-in-one waterproofs and snow boots or wellies, and then as spring arrives they wear raincoats and wellies.

I love raincoats. I think they’re so adorable and trendy for kids. My boys love having new raincoats so when Wellies and Worms offered them new Hatley raincoats and wellies to match they were thrilled, and so was I. Wellies and Worms have such a great selection of raincoats and wellies to choose from!

Hatley Raincoats and Wellies

My two year old ‘needed’ the green dinosaur raincoat and wellies, and my four year old wanted the Skull and Crossbones raincoat and wellies.

Hatley raincoats from Wellies and Worms

We ordered age appropriate raincoats and they fit lovely when they arrived. There was room to spare so it was no problem wearing a snood with them on cooler days. They were made of such fab material too and felt lovely quality. The wellies also fit great. Over the years we have tested out so many brands of wellies, and can honestly say nothing has ever fit as good as the Hatley wellies. They were so sturdy!

The raincoats and wellies were fab for a whole range of activities, they were durable, comfortable, and versatile. My boys went for walks in them, they hunted bugs, they went on a fairy hunt, they used a big adventure playground, they visited a farm, and most importantly they used their raincoats and wellies to test out some very big muddy puddles!

Hatley boys skulls raincoat and wellies

The raincoats were very warm and definitely waterproof. They didn’t let through any wind either. They had a built in hood and had popper fastenings. This made it very easy for my 4yo to fasten his own coat. The raincoats are made from a polyurethane outer coating which is machine washable, it also wipes clean extremely well. This is always a plus with my messy 2yo!

Hatley infant dinos raincoat and wellies

The wellies were just as great. They were easy to get onto my children’s feet and looked easy for them to walk in. They had two pull-up handles on which were a big help. They were sturdy yet not restrictive in any way, even when climbing rope bridges! They also had a cotton lining which helped keep little toes warm.

My boys had so much fun wearing their raincoats and wellies. We’d definitely recommend them. Not only do the raincoats and wellies look fabulous, they also do their job!

Try out Hatley raincoats and wellies for yourself

Fancy trying them out? Head over to their website and enter our special code SWORDS10 between 18th & 22nd March 2015 to receive 10% off your order! Postage is free for UK orders over £25, otherwise it costs just £2. International shipping is also available on their site!

Thanks again Wellies and Worms! We loved our Hatley raincoats and wellies!

Kid Zinger Review

My two boys love fresh fruit juices, smooth ones of course because they’re fussy like that! They are limited to 150ml of this a day though. They also drink sugar free cordial and also have 150ml minimum of milk each day. After 6pm in our house there is a water-only rule. Sometimes this rule is fine and other times it is not! My boys enjoy water, but prefer something flavoursome, as do most children, so water is never the first choice.

I’m very aware of their sugar intake, and also very aware about their nutrient intake. I make sure they get all the fibre, protein, calcium, and vitamin D they need. I have a carefully thought out weekly meal planner for them, and am more than conscious of ensuring their fruit and Vegetable intake is more than they need. Most days they eat what is given to them, other days they point blank refuse my snacks, meals, and drinks, and act like I am trying to poison them! How dare I offer my four year old a dried apricot?!

I am always looking at new and fun ways to incorporate fruit and vegetables into their daily routines.

Recently I found something that fits the fun criteria and also increases their water intake too, which is so important for their little bodies to function properly and be on top form to destroy mommas house (and sanity!).

Let me introduce you to the newest addition to the Swords and Snoodles household: The Kid Zinger! This beautiful little cup is not only fun in it’s appearance, but also such a clever design too! The Kid Zinger is an amazing child friendly water bottle that allows you to infuse your water with citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, and limes! It has a built in citrus press. The best part is that it is so easy to use that your kids can actually infuse their own water with minimal supervision!

Kid Zinger in use

All you need to do is cut your chosen fruit in half, and then you literally turn the bottle upside down and unscrew the bottom cup. You then twist half of your citrus fruit into the citrus press. Screw the bottom cup back on and fill the bottle with water. All of he fruit’s pulp, rind, and seeds are contained at the bottom, and help infuse more flavour.

Kid Zinger

The Kid Zinger has an easy flip up straw too which my boys were excited about using. It even comes with a few stickers for your child to customise their own Kid Zinger bottle.

It is very easy to clean, and even dishwasher safe, which is an added bonus to anything your kids use! It’s a shame kids aren’t dishwasher safe too (joke!)

Kid Zinger review

I’d highly recommend trying the Kid Zinger, your kids will love it. It’s so easy to carry around too, and you could even add ice in the bottom for those longer journeys or for the summer time! We love the Kid Zinger in our house!