Wallace and Gromit Trail

When can you go to a shopping centre, have a great time and not go in any shops or spend any money?! Well, the White Rose Shopping Centre has you covered this summer with a Wallace and Gromit sculpture trail throughout the centre.

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For only £2, you can buy a map from Customer Services and the map shows you exactly where the Wallace and Gromit characters are. Also, Customer Services have a limited range of merchandise. The merchandise is hidden away a bit on the counter so the little ones don’t realise that they are there!!

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All the proceeds from the sales of the maps and merchandise go to the Wallace and Gromit Grand Appeal charity.

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There is nothing majorly complex about the trail, but you will need a map for 2 of the sculptures. This is because they aren’t in the main of the shopping centre, but I’m not going to give any clues!!

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The Wallace and Gromit trail is a nice bit of light hearted entertainment as you walk around the shopping centre. I’m sure that it will make the kids walk quicker, knowing that there is something to find just ahead.

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If you were to do the trail without looking in any of the shops it will probably take you about half an hour. However, I guess that it depends on how quickly you walk. Also, it depends on how easily you find the 2 which are hidden away a little.

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I know how much effort goes into these events, given that I helped put together the Herd of Sheffield sculpture trail. As such, please remember that it is for charity and support it as much as you can! You can read about the Herd of Sheffield event here.

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If you feel a little hungry after all the Wallace and Gromit hunting, there are loads of places to eat. One of the restaurants is Wagamamas and you can read about how child friendly it is here.

 


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Leeds Dad Starts Dating … An Update

In January 2018, I started dating, and you can read about how that came about in this post here, and it felt like an opportune time to give a little update.

Well, after going on the first date back in January, we had a second, a third, a fourth etc. It has generally snowballed into us having a really happy, stable relationship. Whilst 6 months seems a long time to be dating, in some respects it feels like early days still. This is because we aren’t seeing each other every day and spending every waking hour with each other.

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Kim’s first appearance on the blog!

The Children

The priority for both of us is our respective children, and nothing will change that. Kim has a now 2 year old boy and given that Heidi is also a single child, we are mindful of how well they interact with each other, with each of us together and each of us separately.

With Oscar being a bit younger, we felt that it was easier to get him involved into the changing dynamic to start with. As Heidi was 4 at the time, we took things much, much slower with her. (and still are). We are basically saying that Kim was just a few friend and it was good to hang out together at certain points. We have NOT mentioned that we are dating!

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Oscar-only date day…

We try to make sure we don’t overdo the interactions as well, knowing that there is no rush to any of this. The last thing we want is to have children not wanting to see each other or see each of us.

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Heidi only date night

All of this has meant that the children get on really well together and are seemingly best of friends. Oscar looks up to Heidi so much and gets really excited when her name is mentioned. Heidi looks after Oscar so much, whilst also enjoying playing with all his toys as well!!

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Walking together at Cannon Hall

The Dates

As both of us are clearly very involved with our children, most “dates” tend to involve either one or both of the children on a weekend. If you’re a regular reader of the blog on on Instagram/Twitter, chances are you’ve read about where we have been on a date with the children.

As the children enjoy each other’s company, it makes going out on trips a lot easier.  However, they can get too giddy and get carried away a little!!! The fact that we don’t get child-free weekends too often doesn’t affect us (apart from early morning wake ups!) as we both knew the childcare arrangements before we even met.

However, if we do have a child free weekend, or even just a day, we try our best to make the most of it. We had our first (and only!) weekend away in April, to London, which was lovely. However, it was also extremely strange to spend child free time with someone else! We did have a brilliant time and we tried our best to see as much as possible, just as if we had the children.

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Aysgarth Falls

There are times when dates have had to be cancelled at the last minute because of childcare arrangements. Even this week, Heidi wanted to stay at mine even though she was supposed to be with her mum, which meant a quick dash home from date night. It happens, but the pair of us knew all of this before we started. We both know that the children come first – that is the main thing to both of us.

The Future

Who knows what the future might hold going forward. The dating game is still in its early days, but it feels as though it is stable and has excellent foundations. We always said that the children come first and that is more true than ever. If truth be told, they are the ones who will decide how far the relationship goes. If either one is unhappy with it, then the relationship doesn’t go any further, and we are ok with that.

Fingers crossed it that is a bridge we never have to cross…

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Quite true – take from the Disney Store on Oxford Road, London

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Thomas & Friends – “Big World! Big Adventures! The Movie”

We were invited to see the new Thomas & Friends movie “Big World! Big Adventures!TM  The Movie” at the Showcase de Luxe at Leeds.  Due to it falling on a “non Heidi” weekend, Heidi didn’t come along. So it was me, my new-ish girlfriend and her 2 year old boy watching the sneak preview.

The Plot

The plot is relatively simple and given that this post is aimed at adults. As such, I’m going to assume that you don’t mind reading about the plot!!

Thomas comes across a new character, called Ace, and his eyes are opened to the possibility of travelling the world. Along the way, he comes across friends and challenges to make the journey easier and harder in equal measures. Thomas has to work out for himself what is the right path to take throughout the movie.

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Thomas in a spot of trouble

The movie takes in all 5 continents along the way, so there is some geographic education within the film. However, the basis of the film is educating morals and the right way to behave.

The Length

The Thomas & Friends movie is 80 minutes long and that is more than long enough for the target market. After about 45 minutes, you could hear that some of the children were getting a bit restless but that is bound to happen. However, it appeared that virtually everyone made their way to the end of the movie, which is quite an achievement.

As with all trips to the cinema, it is always worth getting food and drinks to keep the little ones occupied. A teddy bear often works well, especially when it goes really dark!

The Characters

The old favourites from the island of Sodor are in the movie at the beginning, including Annie, Clarabelle, James and Gordon. However, when Thomas makes his around the world adventure, a couple of new characters enter the world of Thomas. These are:

  • Nia, who is a Kenyan female train, voiced by Yvonne Grundy. She is remarkably positive and thoughtful throughout.
  • Ace, who is an Australian rally car, voiced by Peter Andre. He is quite a selfish character, who leads Thomas astray but he isn’t as brave as he thinks he is.
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Thomas and Ace

The Scary Bits

As the movie is aimed at the little ones (probably 8 year olds and under), there aren’t any very scary parts. There is a scene towards the end which might be considered frightening. This is when the trains are on a snowy mountain and might crash, but that is the only part really.

The movie doesn’t contain any really loud parts of the movie either and so little ones who get scared of loud noises or music should be fine. Given this, I can imagine that the movie would suit children with autism, but I can’t speak from experience on that one.

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Thomas does look a bit scared!!

The Verdict

Thomas & Friends’ “Big World! Big Adventures!TM  The Movie” is certainly a child friendly movie that will entertain Thomas enthusiasts throughout. If a movie can keep a 2 year old entertained and still, then there must be something good about it. At the time of writing, IMDb has the movie 6.7 out of 10, which feels a little mean to be honest. I feel that if you’re in the target market, you’ll enjoy it.

The release date is 20th July 2018, and you can book your tickets now for your local Showcase Cinemas here.

Full Disclaimer: We were offered free entry to Thomas & Friends for the purposes of this post. However, no influence has been made to alter the content of the post.


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Project Mc2 Ultimate Spy Bag

How do you make Science interesting to kids? One way is to make it not seem like science at all. That is what the “Project Mc2 Ultimate Spy Bag” tries to do.

All in all, there are 20+ pieces to the science/spy kit, including a magnifying glass, test tubes and beaker, alongside a booklet full of experiments to perform.

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Scientific Beaker

All of this is held within a carry case that can also be used as a stylist handbag within the house!!

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Showing off the carry case

TOP TIP!! Make sure you take a photo of how all the items fit in the carry case. It makes it so much easier when it comes to packing it all away!

The most unusual part of the Spy Bag is the fingerprinting kit, including dust powder. This can also be used as shimmer makeup (not until Heidi has left home!!!) and cards to collect the fingerprints. I say that it is unusual because you don’t really see many products on the market with this specific product. So if your child is into fingerprints and/or the whole CSI thing, then this is going to be a good product for you.

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Part of the fingerprint pack

The most fun part of the kit is the lipstick that doubles up as a secret message launcher. It was very fun and also the most frustrating item because we couldn’t get it to work!! This is through no fault of the product, more the fault of an overexcited child. She thought that she knew EXACTLY what to do (without reading the instructions!)

Your child will require parental involvement with this product. Your child will gain so much more out of it if they are taught as the items are used, rather than just being left to get on with it, so it isn’t a bad thing. There are no dangerous substances within the kit and so safety equipment isn’t needed. Adult assistance is probably needed because some of the pieces are quite small within the product.

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Instruction Guide

The Adrienne Attoms Project MC2 brand is the driver behind this product. Whilst that might be a plus point for some, you certainly don’t need to know or understand the brand to enjoy the kit. However, it might lure you into a YouTube path that might make you lose an hour or so!!

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Contents of the Spy Bag – all neat and tidy!

All in all, it is an excellent product on a number of different levels. If your child has an interest in science, or problem solving, this is likely to be a hit with them.  As at July 2018, it is retailing for £39.99, although there may be offers on if you research a little. The recommended age for the product is 6+ and that feels about right. However, I feel as though a 5 year old could have a good go at most of the things, especially with a high level of adult assistance. Best of all, it includes the batteries needed for one of the items – woohoo!!

Full Disclaimer: The Project Mc2 Utimate Spy Bag was offered free of charge for the purposes of this post. My opinion was not influenced by this.


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