Rolling Down the Road – Music Review

If you’re fed up of CD’s of traditional nursery rhymes to entertain the children in the car, then this blog post is for you!! We were invited to review “Rolling Down the Road” – a music CD aimed at children aged up to around 8, by David Gibb. For full disclosure, we received the CD and some merchandise free of charge. However, no influence has been made to alter this review.

The Music

If you’re wanting a CD full of sing-a-long traditional nursery rhymes, then this is not for you. However, if you’re wanting something a little different, something upbeat and jazzy, then you have come to the right place!

It’s difficult to do a music review, although there is a link below to a YouTube sample, but if you zoned out of the lyrics, you would feel as though the music was on BBC Radio 2. The beat is up-tempo, there is plenty of rhythmical guitar play and the lyrics are 100% child friendly. Also, the audio quality of the singing, instrumental and the CD itself is 100% professional. This is not an amateur performer!!

Rolling Down the Road CD image

As the songs are up-tempo, it is difficult to sing-a-long to. To some, this might be a blessing, however, after a few listens, you might get the hang of a few songs!  The songs are based along the themes familiar to children, such as animals and transport, as well as some nursery rhymes. However, as they are brand new songs, it will feel fresh for grown-ups and you won’t get bored, compared to the regular children’s songs that you tend to get.

Heidi rocking the Rolling Down the Road T-Shirt
Heidi rocking the Rolling Down the Road T-Shirt!

About David Gibb

Rolling Down the Road is David Gibb’s third album, with the first two leading to a tour of theatres, arts centres and festivals, including the famous Just So Festival. For Rolling Down the Road, David has collaborated with a three-time Grammy nominee, Brady Rymer, who is doing a guest vocalist on the album.

An earlier David Gibb album

I think that it’s fair to say that David knows what works for children and this album shows that quality.

The Upcoming Tour

Rolling Down The Road will be accompanied by an exciting live music stage show, devised by David alongside best selling children’s author Michelle Robinson and produced and directed by Half Moon Theatre in London. The show, which is set to open in September 2019, will be based around the songs and music from his new album and will feature David as the lead performer alongside other guest musicians. The show will then tour the UK in Spring 2020, with an opening run at The Story Museum in Oxford.

Where to hear more

Rolling Down the Road is out now and you can buy it from your usual music providers. You can also buy the CD and associated merchandise at www.davidgibb.com

If you’re not sure, then check out this YouTube video, and see if it takes your fancy:

I’m sure that you’ll love it and you’ll be looking at dates for the tour in 2020!!

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Iroko – Restaurant Review

We were invited to Iroko for a press preview event, where they were highlighting their Yakitori menu. For full disclosure, we didn’t have to pay for the evening, but no editing or influence has been made on this blog post.

As it was a rare childfree evening, we turned it into date night! To read about the start of my dating adventure, check out this post: http://www.leedsdad.com/parenting/leeds-dad-starts-dating-again/

Food

For the uninitiated (like myself), Yakitori is a Japanese BBQ dining experience, where several small plates of food are brought out one at a time.

I “think” that there were 6 plates all in all. I say think because after a while you do lose track a little bit!! The food was clearly freshly made and amazingly presented.

Starter including seaweed and butternut squash, gently fried
Starter including seaweed and butternut squash, gently fried

Even though the food keeps coming, you didn’t feel overpowered by it all, and you didn’t feel rushed. As you can see, there isn’t much on each plate (the pictures are for both of us) and so if there is a plate that doesn’t appeal, you can easily pass on it.

Tender chicken with tangy flavour
Tender chicken with tangy flavour

Because of the nature of the Yakitori menu, you don’t get a choice on the food, therefore there might be some which you don’t fancy. For us, the duck heart wasn’t the most appealing, but that was psychological, as the food tasted very good.  Clearly, this was not one for vegetarians…

Ox Tongue
Ox Tongue

My particular favourite was the chicken balls right at the end, as you could tell that the quality of the meat was top notch and it tasted really fresh. A lot of the plates had a tangy taste to them, with only a couple being overpowering. (I am such a softie when it comes to spicy food!)

Chicken Balls with egg yolk
Chicken Balls with egg yolk

You are certainly full at the end of the evening, but not uncomfortably full. There wasn’t any dessert on the menu, but you probably need a break before having something sweet!!

Drinks

As I was driving, it was up to Kim to test out the cocktails, which was clearly a hard task! As you can see below, there was an Espresso Martini (£8.50), French 75 (£9) and a Singapore Slinger (£8.50)

Espresso Martini
Espresso Martini
French 75 drink
French 75
Singapore Slinger drink
Singapore Slinger

Given that I was driving, I asked to see what soft drinks they recommended, in the hope of something a bit different.  However, all that was offered was the standard fare, so I went for a small can of coke, for £2.

You also get chilled table water, which is needed as the food certainly carries flavour!

Location

Iroko is located about 100 yards from the Corn Exchange, along Boar Lane in Leeds.  As such, the location is very central for if you want to go out before or after the meal.  However, this also means that car parking can be problematic.  Your best options are either the Trinity car park or the Tetley.  One place which I wouldn’t recommend is the NCP car park near the markets. Chances are that you’ll need to take out a second mortgage to park!!

Is Iroko Child friendly?

Whilst we went on a rare child-free “date night”, clearly I have looked at Iroko as a dad as well. We couldn’t see any high chairs, although there was a nice baby changing unit in the toilet.

Yes, I am that blogger that takes pictures of toilet facilities!

The food on the Yakitori menu is perhaps a little too spicy for pre-teens, but I would recommend picking a couple of small dishes from the taster menu. That way, they can try a couple of different things and there is more of a Western vibe to the menu.

Atmosphere

Iroko is a pretty chilled out place, especially given the fact it is in the middle of Leeds City Centre. We never felt rushed at all and we were so relaxed at the end of the evening.   The Yakitori menu has a 2 hour window and this felt just about right as the food was finished being served after about an hour or so. However, you can chill out and enjoy a drink after the food has finished, before the next sitting starts.

All in all, it is a lovely place to visit, and if the menu appeals to you, you will have a great time.

A chilled out, romantic setting

Iroko also do a number of different themed evenings and so you might find something that is more to your liking on their website.

With plenty of drink selections!
Continue reading Iroko – Restaurant Review

Beaker Creatures Reactor Pod

For an alternative Easter present, consider a Beaker Creatures Reactor Pod for your child!! We were gifted* a Beaker Creatures Reactor Pod for the purpose of this review, and you can read about it below.

Beaker Creatures Reaction Pod Splash image

How do Beaker Creatures Reactor Pods work?

You need a bowl of water and lots of towels (trust me on this one!). Simply place the egg into the water and watch it dissolve. After a few minutes, you’ll end up with a toy within a small, waterproof plastic egg. Open the egg, and voila, you have your toy!!

The children loved the colour and the fizz of the egg as well as getting a toy at the end. They especially enjoyed the purple water, playing with the dissolvable egg and crunching with their fingers. They continued playing with the toy in the water which I though was a great sensory experience but it got a bit messy for the grown-ups (hence the need for towels)!!

What do you get with a Beaker Creatures Reactor Pod?

Within the box, you get a mini creature, a poster with some facts and a classification card on which monster could be in your pod.

Beaker Creatures Reactor Pod contents

How many Beaker Creatures Reactor Pods are there?

Within Series 1, there are 30 to collect! If truth be told, you might be fed up sooner than the children if you try to collect all 30!!

From what age are Beaker Creatures Reactor Pods suitable?

The recommended age is 5+ although younger children will enjoy the fizz and the colour of the product, there is a choking hazard. As such, children under 3 years are probably best staying away from the toy or being closely monitored.

Beaker Creature Reaction Pod

How much does a Beaker Creatures Reactor Pod cost?

They are currently £4 and can be purchased from Learning Resources here:

* Whilst the product was gifted, no attempt was made to influence this review. Also, no money was given for this review.

Continue reading Beaker Creatures Reactor Pod

2018 Review

Wow!! What a year 2018 has been!! So many positive things have happened this year for Heidi and I. Looking back, I think that it has been the best year for quite some time.

Holidays in 2018

2018 was the year when Heidi and I went on our first overseas holidays as just a two. Taking a 4 year old halfway across the world is both scary and exciting, but something that was long overdue! We went to Jamaica in February, and Spain in August and we have both got the confidence to do it again!

The highlight of the Jamaica trip was swimming with dolphins, which you can read here. You can read about our Spanish trip here.  If you’re thinking of travelling alone with a 4 year old, this blog post is ideal for you!

Swimming with dolphins
Amazing!!

Love in 2018

2018 was the year in which I started dating after separation. Whilst an extremely terrifying and stressful experience at start with, it does turn out that you can be happy after separation. Who knows what the future will hold. But right now, we are living in the moment, and enjoying being in each others company, when possible.

Having 2 single parents date each other is extremely difficult on the diary. We have had 2 child free weekends in the entire year!! However, both children love each other very much and get on really well. We will always put the children before the relationship and that is so important to us.

Best mates!
Walking together at Cannon Hall

If you’re thinking that 2019 might be the year of love for you, then these two blog posts might be just for you – Leeds Dad Starts Dating and An Update.

Sadness in 2018

Unfortunately, there was sadness in 2018, when our family dog, Jack, died.  Telling Heidi about his death was awful and probably the worst part of the year. You can read about how we coped, with some hints/tips to breaking bad news, in this blog post.

However, with most things, there is a happy ending to the story, and we have a new dog, Harley, and Heidi is besotted with him!

Heidi and Harley
Heidi and Harley

Days Out in 2018

Because Heidi turned 5 in 2018, it is a little easier to go on days out and be more impulsive. We did a random day trip to London, went to Chester Zoo, as well as Go Ape at Temple Newsam. I think the favourite was taking in the Operation Ouch stage show in London, where Heidi met her idols, Dr Chris and Dr Xand. I really hope that they bring that show elsewhere in the UK.

Heidi with Dr Chris and Dr Xand

Days Out are much easier now, and I hope that they give inspiration to those who have been in a similar situation. Life does get easier and there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

Blogging in 2018

I always said that the blog is an online diary that I will give to Heidi when she is old enough. That will always be the case. However, I have had more and more fun with it 2018. We have travelled across the country with National Express coaches, been on a podcast and been invited to be on TV.

Perhaps the coolest thing was being in the Yorkshire Evening Post and when Heidi saw her face in the paper, it was amazing! She is starting to pick up bits about what the blog is and that her daddy is “Leeds Dad”, but I try to keep it separate from her.

Extract from Yorkshire Evening Post

At some point, she might want me to stop, or want to join in, but until that day, it will always be about creating an online diary for her.

Work in 2018

Whilst some people do blogging on a full time basis, I am nowhere near that stage, nor would I want to be! However, this year I got a new job, with a new set of challenges to overcome! It provides more stability for Heidi and me, and I’ve taken the step to be open and honest about my martial situation, which was a great relief. Also, I have been open about the blog and so most of the office knows what we have been up to over the weekend before Monday morning!!!

What Next??

We have already booked to go to Florida in 2019, which will be amazing as always. However, I just hope that 2019 is just as exciting, positive and enjoyable as 2018.

A lot of people have read the blog this year, and to each one of you, thank you. Every comment really does make it worthwhile and I hope that there are loads more positive things to talk about in 2019!

Happy Faces!
Happy faces!
Continue reading 2018 Review

Edu Print Plus Posters

We were invited to review a number of Edu Print Plus posters for this review. Edu Print Plus supply a range of educational prints which are fun, inspirational and really well designed.

Poster Content

The Edu Print Plus posters fall into two main categories – Educational and Motivational. The educational posters are either based around multiplication, which we have, or around vocabulary. I guess it depends on what stage your child is at, but the vocabulary ones are lovely because they provide a number of synonyms which will expand your child’s vocabulary.

The motivational posters are my favourite however, because their messages are so powerful.  The problem that you’re going to have is picking one (or two!) that mean the most to you and your child!

I chose the “Dream Big, Be Kind. Work Hard” poster because it is everything that every child should do and hopefully it will rub off on Heidi.

I also chose the “Don’t be afraid to be different”. This is because Heidi is at an age where children can start being a bit cruel and it is important to reinforce the message that it is ok to a bit different, a bit special. The image along with the narrative is very simple to understand for a child as well.

I love these types of posters so much, that I wouldn’t mind having a few of them in the office at work!!

Poster Quality

The posters are not made out of the glossy paper which you normally associate with posters. The are made from art paper and with a velvet finish and surface protection, they are really durable.

One slight problem is because of the weight and the finish, the Edu Print Posters don’t stay on the wall with sellotape. As such, blu-tack is the way to go!!

The poster is A3 in size and as such, is just big enough for above a child’s bed. They don’t come with a frame, but to be honest, they look really nice without a frame!

Shipping

As at November 2018, Edu Print Plus will ship for free anywhere in the world, when you order 4 or more posters.

All in all, Edu Print Plus provide a really good quality of poster, which would be ideal for a Christmas or birthday present. I’m sure that over time, we’ll get some more as Heidi grows up.

Full Disclosure: We were provided the posters free of charge for this blog post. However, no attempt was made to influence or alter the content of the post.

 

You can purchase these posters here

Continue reading Edu Print Plus Posters

Sounds of the Forest

Sounds of the Forest is a book and owl whistle combination that is designed to help bond adult and child whilst reading. It is beautifully presented and is perfect to introduce children to the world of reading.

Sounds of the Forest

Sounds of the Forest – Book

The story is about a baby owl going through the forest, experiencing all the sights and sounds that the forest has to offer. Given the age range (2 to 7 years) there clearly won’t be anything scary or anything that needs checking beforehand!

The book is about 12 pages long with generally a short paragraph on one page, and illustrations on the opposite page. It isn’t a difficult read and so children in Year 1 and 2 should be able to read most of it.

When reading it, it is quite an easy book to get into a rhythm whilst reading and it is more like a poem rather than a book. As such, it is quite a soothing read.

Just a word of note that the story uses “Mommy” rather than “Mummy”, which might need some explaining!!

Sounds of the Forest – Owl Whistle

The Owl Whistle is relatively small for grown-up hands, but pretty much perfect for pre-school hands. Even better, the whistle isn’t too loud, therefore it’s not going to get on anyone’s nerves, or wake up younger siblings!

The Owl Whistle is also not too difficult to use, even for pre-schoolers. This means that they can get involved with the story pretty much straight away. This is especially because the whistle needs no assembly or batteries, only a quick little wipe!

The book is quite easy to follow and so your little one will easily learn when it is the right time to blow the whistle!

The book lends itself to using other sounds, rather than just the whistle. As such, if you get creative, you can have a tapping of a woodpecker and a crunching of a squirrel. Perfect if you have children fighting over the whistle!

Where you can buy Sounds of the Forest?

You can buy Sounds of the Forest from a range of retailers. However, a couple are:

JoJo Maman Bebe

Debenhams

As at October 2018, it is retailing for around £12.

Importance of Reading

If you’re still wondering about whether to buy a book for your little one, I have done this blog post. it is all about the importance of reading and it is something that I am passionate about.

Continue reading Sounds of the Forest

Little Tikes Remote Control Dozer Racer

The Little Tikes Remote Control Dozer Racer is a really cool remote control toy, aimed at children 3 and above. It has a full range of movements and the tipper can go up and down. Whilst the remote control aspect may be difficult for some, it is a good toy even if you only use it manually.

Little Tikes Remote Control Dozer Racer

Because the toy is a bulldozer and a car, as well as being manual or remote controlled, little ones should have hours of fun with it!

Durability

The Little Tikes Remote Control Dozer Racer has a sturdy outer plastic shell which means that it should be fine it it gets rammed into doors and walls constantly!! Because the wheels are on tracks, it means that it can take a bit more wear and tear compared to other such toys.

 

 

The remote control is a bit small and I can see that it could get lost to the bottom of the toy box. As a result, you probably need to keep an eye on it!! We did notice that the remote control lost signal at times as well. However, the set up of the toy was quite straight forward.

Movement

The videos within this Little Tikes Remote Control Dozer Racer post will speak much better than the words!!

The vehicle can move forwards and backwards at ease and has a very small turning circle. At a push of a button, it can transform from a bulldozer to a car and whilst it does make a bit of noise, that is probably good so that oncoming adults and pets can move out of the way!

The vehicle moves really well on carpet. Whilst a hard floor would be best to get top speeds, we didn’t have any problems on carpet.

Because the toy is easy to use, it makes it a really fun toy to play with. You could imagine that the grown-ups would have just as much fun with it as the little ones!!

Batteries

The Little Tikes Remote Control Dozer Racer requires 8 AA batteries to work (6 for the vehicle, 2 for the remote control). These do not come with the product, so please be aware of this before giving it to your child!

Conclusion

The remote control aspect of the Little Tikes Remote Control Dozer Racer may be a little too precise for preschool fingers without assistance. However, that just means that they can have fun pushing and pulling the bulldozer manually.

This saves the batteries for when the children are asleep and the adults can have a play!!

IMPORTANT! I was gifted the Little Tikes Remote Control Dozer Racer for the purposes of this blog post. However,  no influence has been made to influence this post.

Continue reading Little Tikes Remote Control Dozer Racer

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.

20180707_113710.jpg
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.

thomas 2
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.

20180707_103637.jpg
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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Clangers Magazine

We were invited to review “The Clangers” magazine, (for those who don’t know, “The Clangers” is a children’s TV programme which runs on the BBC) and given the success of the programme, they have launched a spin-off magazine, aimed at 3-6 year olds.

As a bit of a change, the review is in a Question and Answer format:

Did your child enjoy the new Clangers magazine?

Yes, seeing the smile on her face when she opened the parcel and started reading it. You can’t fake that kind of reaction!

20160426_070556
Which part did they enjoy the most?

Definitely the stickers! I think that every child likes stickers, although Heidi particularly wanted to wear the stickers for some reason!

Would you buy it again?

Absolutely

Did you find it educational?

I particularly liked the alphabet pull out (we had been searching for one all weekend. Also, the page about the moon was very good, particularly as we are getting into planets/space etc

The font type particularly for the Singing Asteroid was nice and clear and large and while it sounds like a simple thing, it makes it easier to teach letters

20160426_181127

What did they think of their free gift?

(The Clangers Whistle) The whistle didn’t have a blowhole in (presumably a manufacturing fault) and it took me a while to work it out – in fact, that should have been the most educational part…for me!

Once we did a bit of DIY we managed to get a decent sound out of it and played with it for almost as long as the magazine

Which Clanger do you love the most?

Tiny Clanger!

20160426_181538

For the purposes of the review, we received a copy of the magazine for free.


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