Forest Holidays: Our Winter Retreat to Forest of Dean

Back in January we decided to book a last second escape to the Forest of Dean for a winter retreat at Forest Holidays. This was our first time visiting but it came recommended from friends who have stayed at a different location on one of their other sites. Squiggle’s anxiety was high, so we figured some extra time relaxing outdoors might be just what we all needed. It didn’t work miracles in that regard (but then again, I am pretty sure they don’t claim to either though!) but it was still a lovely holiday! Here is our review…

Title written on image of Forest Holidays cabin.

The Cabin

There are three main styles of cabin; golden oak, silver birch and copper beech. The main differences between them are that silver birch has a hot tub, and golden oak has both a log burner and a hot tub. We intentionally wanted to avoid having a log burner for personal reasons, and silver birch was fully booked, so that made it pretty easy to choose!

Despite copper beech being their cheapest (and most basic) option, we were absolutely amazed by the size of the cabin! The whole place had a wonderful air of luxury about it, whilst also feeling very homely. I loved how beautifully in keeping the decor is; very natural. I was very impressed! And everything is eco- friendly wherever possible too, which we were really glad to see.

Eco friendy kitchen kit

I was quite worried that it might be chilly in winter but the underfloor heating took care of that! If anything, it was actually abit too warm when we arrived but the thermastat was easy to use and had separate settings for each room too, so that was soon remedied. I don’t know how hot the cabins might get in a heatwave with all that glass though! But given that they seem very well designed overall, I am assuming there are measures in place to maintain optimum temperatures. We were certainly able to do that during our winter stay anyway, despite having both sunny days and snow in the time we were there! They are really cosy and it is easy to feel right at home there.

Here is my video tour of the cabin…

The Setting

The cabin we had was in the meadow so it was very open, whereas some of them are tucked away amongst the trees. Honestly, in my opinion, regardless of where your cabin is situated, you can’t go wrong.

Our view from the cabin. A meadow with cabins spread out.

The site is in a beautiful location, in the Forest of Dean, with stunning scenic walks all around. Regardless of the time of year we visited, even in Winter, we couldn’t fail to be in awe of the forest setting. Here are just a few of my pictures taken, the first onsite and the others literally a few moments walk off the main site…

Stunning forest setting of the Forest Holidays site.

Beautiful views at the Forest of Dean

Winter scenes at Forest of Dean

Forest of Dean

By the way, the sheer drop on the above photos is less breathtaking and more heartstopping when your autistic child suddenly bolts!!!! Especially if you happen to suffer from vertigo as well, like I do! So I recommend if you explore this area with a young child, or one with SEND, that you not only have nerves of steel, but a very tight grip of their hand!

We don’t have a dog personally, but the site is very dog- friendly and it would be the ideal holiday to take a dog if you are an owner. This is probably also worth noting though if you are nervous around dogs though I guess! Squiggle loved seeing all the dogs about going for walks, she was delighted!

Facilities

Forest Retreat

The Forest Retreat is the main hub where you check in and book activities, and is home to the shop and restaurant. It also has pottery activities for children.

The shop sells a lovely range of gifts, books and activities that are carefully chosen to be perfectly on theme for the nature of the holiday. It also sells a wonderful selection of food and drink; including an extensive range of cider, wine and beer, fresh produce and a range of Cook meals for easy self- catering dining options.

Forest Retreat photo strip showing selection in store.

Food

The menu has plenty to choose from, to either eat in the restaurant or take away. The food was consistently good and service was prompt.

Bike Hire

Bike hire is available onsite from £28 per break per adult or from £25 per child. It is recommended you book these in advance. We didn’t hire bikes on this occasion but Squiggle did ask about it (towards the end of the holiday!) so we would definitely consider it next time.

Cycle Hire building from the outside.

Play Area

The play area was sectioned off during our visit as they were carrying out work on it. It looked more suitable for younger children, but Squiggle would have had a quick go if it were available no doubt!

Bug Hotel

Granted not really one of the facilities per se (at least not for humans!) but I wanted to mention the bug hotel anyway. We have seen these in many places but this one is particularly well made!

Large bug hotel with information sign. Squiggle is stood next to it.

Activities

There are a range of forest ranger led activities available for various ages. Some are shorter at 90 minutes in duration, whilst one survival course is half a day. As well as daytime activities, there is also a night-time ranger adventure so you can spy on the nocturnal forest inhabitants after dark! Dogs are allowed on some of the activities but not all courses, and some have a minimum age for children, so do check details before booking. There are also a selection of activities off- site that can be booked through Forest Holidays as well.

Squiggle on the winter trail.

Squiggle wasn’t up for any of these due to her anxiety, so we opted to do their self- guided seasonal trail instead. This cost £6.95 and she got a prize at the end for completing it. This was a really engaging activity. She started off reluctant to join in but as soon as we got to the first few stops and solved the clues she was hooked! We really enjoyed it and it was definitely one of the highlights of our holiday.

Seasonal trail clue

Local Places To Visit

There are numerous walks nearby surrounded by beauty and tranquility. Aside from that, there are several local places to visit that might be of interest. Forest Holidays have some suggestions of what’s nearby. I would really love to visit Clearwell Caves and also Puzzlewood sometime in future.

We did go to Beechenhurst, mainly to go on the sculpture trail. However, Squiggle was very near tired and nearing meltdown, so we didn’t actually find any sculptures and ended up just having a quick wander instead. I would love to return when it is better timing for her though; it looked like a lovely place to spend a day and I really want to see the sculptures – from the photos they look brilliant!

One thing I will remember from our trip though was that, as we drove up into the carpark, something moving in the forest caught my eye. As I turned to look I thought at first it was dozens of rabbits scurrying into the bushes. But then I realised, whatever they were, they weren’t hopping – they were running. It was a huge group of baby wild boar!

Now I know they are very common to the area and especially at that time of year, but I had never actually seen any before. I was so excited! They were gone in a flash; no time to grab a camera or even point them out to Squiggle, but that was a personal highlight that I will always remember.

We also visited Symonds Yat briefly, on the bank of River Wye. I took a few photos, but I could have taken many more of these stunning scenic views…

River Wye

Stunning scenic view of river Wye

Symonds Yat

In Summary

We really enjoyed our stay at Forest Holidays and loved exploring Forest of Dean. We are very keen to return here sometime in the future, and also would like to try other Forest Holidays locations too. We would definitely recommend it – at any time of year!

Last but not least…

Here is a video clip I put together summarising the highlights of our holiday:

*Disclosure: I was given a discount when booking this holiday in exchange for a review post. However, as always, I have expressed my honest opinion and all thoughts are my own.

Bumper Birthday Gift Guide: Present Ideas For Adults

This bumper birthday gift guide for adults features present ideas for men and women from brands such as CanvasChamp, Adagio Teas, GiftsOnline4U, Latest Deals, Hunkemoller and more…

Do you get stuck on what to buy for birthdays? Whether it is your partner, a relative, friend or even a colleague, my bumper gift guide will inspire you to find the perfect gift…

Bumper Birthday Gift Guide: Present Ideas For Adults

Engraved Watch – GiftsOnline4U

Any watch makes a lovely gift, but a personalised watch is even better! GiftsOnline4U have an excellent selection of engraved watches to choose from to design a unique gift for someone. I was gifted this gorgeous ladies watch to review from them…

Giftsonline4u engraved ladies watch flatlay image.

The website itself is easy to navigate, with clear instructions at checkout. Personalising the watch was also very straightforward. You can enter up to 72 characters over 4 lines for the message, which is plenty of space. You can then preview the engraved before ordering. Gift bags and greetings cards can also be selected.

I had my watch engraved with an Albert Einstein quote “Time is just an illusion.” Just a note, the back of the watch is actually silver, it is just the reflection of the camera making it look black. It isn’t the easiest thing to photograph (or I need to improve my photography skills… take your pick!) but in real life the engraving is clear and beautifully written.

Delivery was efficient and there are various delivery options available. Standard delivery is free, charges apply to speedier services. The watch arrived nicely presented in a gift box.

This contemporary style watch is plated alloy with a leather strap and retails at £39.99. GiftsOnline4U also do a range of other personalised Birthday gifts on their website too.

Ladies watch from GiftsOnline4U in box

Canvas Print – CanvasChamp

A canvas print can brighten up any wall and makes a wonderful gift! It is a very thoughtful present, especially if you choose a meaningful photo with the recipient firmly in mind; such as a photo of their loved ones, their favourite place or a picture that captures a happy memory of theirs. If you are familiar with their home, try to consider their colour schemes too, to really make sure you pick out the perfect photo to use.

Canvas on wall. Matches colour scheme. A well coordinated cat is sat on the sofa too, also matching the canvas art!

CanvasChamp specialises in canvas wall pictures and other types of print. Prices start very low (from £3.89) and they offer a wide range of sizes. There are also different options for finishes, and various styles too. For example, you can select from a variety of choices of wrap and border, so you can customise it exactly how you like. I uploaded a photo straight from my instagram and the quality was fine for a fairly small canvas, but if you are going to opt for a larger size then I would recommend using a higher resolution image.

Canvas hanging on wall. Wrap sides

For something even more unique, CanvasChamp offers split picture prints (i.e. the picture goes across two or more canvas), collages, mosaics and wall display sets. As you can see from my photos, the single 12 x 8 canvas looks abit ‘lost’ on such a large bare wall space at the moment, but it will look brilliant as part of a larger wall display!

As an alternative to canvas, you could also opt for acrylic or metal prints. So plenty of ideas to choose from!

Delivery takes up to 8 – 10 business days according to the website, although mine arrived much quicker than this. Shipping is free on orders over £40 and costs £4.99 for orders under that value.

(I was sent a 12 x 8 canvas for review).

CanvasChamp canvas wall hanging art. Picture of Southend beach, Essex. Photography of sea by Living Life Our Way.

Adagio Teas

For tea lovers, Adagio Teas might be just what you are looking for! They have an excellent selection of tasty teas that make a cool gift for any avid tea drinker in your life. There is a wide range of loose tea flavours, as well as tea bags and iced teas too. They also stock high quality accessories and some funky gift sets too. For something even more quirky, check out their awesome signature blends.

A photo of Adagio Teas and accessories

We were kindly sent a variety of teas to try from Adagio; in fact they were incredibly generous and sent us a massive box filled with goodies! If I waited until we had sampled them all before writing this post, it probably wouldn’t be published until 2020! However, what I will tell you is that the selection looks amazing and I literally cannot wait to try them all out.

Bundle of Adagio loose teas, tea bags, ice teas and accessories inc ingenuitea, glass mug and infuser, tea filters

Some of the loose leaf teas we have been sent to try out include calypso green, citrus mint green and raspberry green from their green tea range, spiced apple chai tea, earl grey moonlight black tea, peach oolong, green rooibos bonita, pu-erh hazelberry, hibiscus, coconut, passionfruit and mango flavoured teas, plus berry blues and samurai mate from the herbal tea range. This is just some of the many choices they have available. I am so excited about the pina colada! I am also particularly looking forward to the fruit medley herbal tea and intrigued by the chocolate chip flavour too.

The website has lots of useful information about tea preparations, pairings and health benefits. You can also learn more about the origins of the different types of tea; it is really quite educational!

A selection of Adagio Teas and accessories

I was also sent some very cool accessories too, which are very cleverly designed to make life much easier when preparing loose teas. The ingenuitea teapot has a special valve in the bottom that releases the tea directly into the cup, leaving the tea leaves in the mesh filter. The teapot is easy to clean; just rinse it out with water or pop it into the dishwasher. This retails at £18.

They also sent some paper filters, which are made of taste- neutral wood and hemp fibres, so are fully biodegradeable. You just fold them over the edge of your teapot or mug, then throw them away. So simple! And very good value at £4 for 100 filters.

Then there is the glass mug and infuser, which is handy for use anywhere. RRP £18. As the website explains:

“An ideal ‘have tea anywhere’ set that combines a glass tea mug with a removable stainless steel infuser. In addition to being convenient, it is also loads of fun: watch the leaves dance as they infuse a perfect cup of tea. When done, remove the infuser (the cover doubles as a coaster) and have a perfect cup of tea wherever, and whenever, the mood strikes. Perfect for home or office use.”

Brummie Gal in Cardiff has some useful video clips and tutorials of these fab accessories in action.

Adagio Teas Prize - ingenuitea, glass mug and infuser, tea samplea

I have also teamed up with Adagio to offer a lucky reader a chance to win a bundle of Adagio teas and accessories. The fabulous prize includes an IngenuiTEA teapot, glass mug and infuser, plus 15 sample pouches (which makes up to roughly 150 cups of tea!) To be in with a chance of winning, enter via rafflecopter below.

Competition ends on 10th June 2018. Open to UK residents only. Other T&Cs apply. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jewellery – BlueNile

For people who love bling-bling, a pair of diamond studs would be ideal. Blue Nile offers a range of affordable choices to choose from. Prices start from £162 and there are more than 50 designs available. And if you need some help with choosing a pair, this guide here has some useful tips you can refer to.

Underwear – Hunkemoller

This one is just for the ladies! Whilst some people may feel uncomfortable gifting underwear, as a female I think a bra or matching set makes a lovely gift to either give or receive from a close friend or partner. (As long as they know your size!) Hunkemoller have a beautiful selection of pretty designs that come in a good range of sizes, including for fuller figures. Prices start from £12, with free shipping on orders over £20.

I really love the non- padded underwired full cup black bra I was sent to review. It is very comfortable and it looks so pretty on that I almost shared a photo of me actually wearing it. (I said almost…) It is gorgeous and makes an ideal gift. The box is lovely too! (And it is recycled!)

Hunkemoller underwired non padded black bra flatlay. Pretty box next to it says life is about pretty moments, enjoy this one. Love, hunkemoller

Find Inspiration… Plus Save Money Too!

Searching for gift sets on Latest Deals is a fantastic way of saving money, but also a great place to get inspiration too. As I browsed through the current offers listed, I spotted some really awesome ideas that I might not have thought of otherwise, such as a ‘grow your own superfoods kit’ for example. You might also come across lovely new brands that you haven’t heard of before too. The perfect site to find some fresh new gift ideas and get yourself a good deal in the process!

Screenshot of grow your own superfoods gift idea from Latest Deals website

Subscription Boxes – Various

Organising a subscription box as a present is almost like a gift that keeps on giving! Whether you go for 3, 6 or 12 months, the recepient will enjoy getting their monthly box of goodies. Many offer one- off boxes too if that is kinder on your budget. There are plenty of topics on offer to choose from; such as mindfulness, eco friendly, art, healthy snacks, yummy treats or gardening activities, just to name a few, so easy to pick out one you know they will love.

Experience Days/ Event Tickets

Not every gift has to be tangible. Days out, experiences or event tickets make an amazing present too. Whether it is a relaxing spa day, the chance to zoom around a race track, or a fun night out seeing their fave band, tickets/ vouchers to go somewhere or do something is a brilliant birthday surprise!

Other Gift Ideas

For more ideas, you can also check out some of my previous gift guides full of wonderful gifts:

Mothers Day Gifts

Men’s Gifts Under £20

Eco- Friendly Gifts

Gifts for Health and Wellbeing

Unique Personalised Gifts

*Disclosure: I was gifted items for the purpose of review and also compensated for my time. All thoughts and opinions are of course my own.

Grange Raised Urban Planter: GardenSite’s Gardening Solutions for Small Spaces (Review & Giveaway)

As you all know, we love being outdoors in nature, and part of this includes gardening. I have written before about some of the food we have grown, or at least attempted to grow! So what do we think of our new urban planter from GardenSite? Read my review…

Grange Raised Urban Planter from Gardensite title with image of planter

About the Planter

Grange Raised Urban Planter is built using only FSC timber that has been pressure treated, and is resistant to rot and fungal decay. In fact, it actually comes with a 20 year guarantee against rot. It has six pre- divided sections to grow a selection of plants, and it also has a handy shelf underneath. The planter usually retails for £89.99 RRP but is currently on sale at £77.99 at the time of writing.

Delivery

The planter took just under a week to arrive after ordering. We were kept updated with the progress of our order and delivery details. The courier company they used was a good choice; they followed our delivery instructions, and they were friendly and helpful.

An image of all the parts of the planter pre- assembly

Assembly

The Urban Planter is very well designed so it only requires basic assembly instructions. It is very high quality thick wood, so you will need a decent power drill though; it couldn’t be done manually, or with a small basic electric drill that people have around the house to put together flat pack furniture. It took well under half an hour to assemble with the right drill.

Tip: The PDF instructions on the website are different to the paper version it comes with. Take a look to see which you find easier to follow! We personally found the website PDF version clearer.

It is worth noting that the planter is very heavy so ideally it needs two people to move around. Or assemble it in the right place!

Grange raised urban planter

Our Verdict

We really like this planter. It is really sturdy and of excellent quality. The shelf underneath is useful as storage, or even for small potted plants that like the shade.

The six sections make it easy to grow a selection of plants within a small area. It doesn’t take up too much space, so is a genuine solution for small urban gardens. Also, we often have cats hanging around our garden, so we appreciate the benefits of a raised planter!

It is not cheap but it is made extremely well and is therefore worth the cost, in my opinion; I personally would consider it decent value for money. Overall, we definitely recommend this planter!

Grange raised urban planter by GardenSite

Check out the full range of stock on GardenSite for other planters and a wide range of other garden items. I spent ages browsing their website, they have an excellent selection!

Giveaway

I have teamed up with GardenSite for one very lucky person to win a Grange Raised Urban Planter! Competition open to UK residents only and ends on 3rd June 2018. Other T&Cs apply. Enter via rafflecopter below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Disclosure: I was sent the urban planter for the purpose of review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Learning Success System: Help Your Child To Thrive! (Review and Giveaway)

Have you heard of the The Learning Success System before? It is an educational programme that helps children develop the key skills they need for learning. Whilst this is especially beneficial to those with SEND, the activities are actually useful for any child. It is available at the discounted reader price of $197 for a 12 month subscription, with a 90 day guarantee. You can purchase it here.*

How Does It Work?

In Brief…

It uses various approaches to overcoming learning difficulties, using new findings in neuroscience, as well as tried and tested techniques developed by experts in the field. New exercises are delivered daily via email, and there is also a support forum too.

The More Technical Details…

The first principle of the Learning Success System is small steps. In Japanese culture, it’s called Kaizen. It comes from the idea that crash learning doesn’t work, at least not long-term; continuous improvement over time is more effective. Therefore the tasks are only brief but to work well, the programme should be carried out regularly, although the exact amount in terms of length of time and frequency are flexible. Tasks can be approached in the way that works best for your child/ family.

In summary, the programme works on the following strategies for better learning:

Build up micro-skills

Trigger neuroplasticity

Build confidence

Brain integration

Build grit

The exercises focus on developing different skills such as working memory, auditory discrimination, cross- lateral coordination and other skills that help across many areas of learning. Find out more info here.

The Learning Success blog, The Learning Success System, SEND, learning skills, educational resources, home education, homeschool, online education programme, learning difficulties, discount

The Verdict

The exercises are quick and simple, but also fun and engaging. They are all very much active learning techniques, not passive teaching. (This is a good thing!) If you do find the activities are starting to get abit dry after a while, you can easily be creative and adapt them to make them more interesting. As an ex teacher and SENCo, I have experienced the benefits of using exercises such as these in the classroom too and feel they do help alot of children.

I have also been told about some of the upcoming new features. I can’t share that information with you yet, as it is top secret still at the moment… but I will tell you they sound very exciting and I am looking forward to checking them out!

Further Information

There is a huge wealth of information over on The Learning Success Blog.

They also have an online dyslexia test with detailed report, which some people might find useful.

Giveaway!

One lucky reader can win a 12 month subscription to The Learning Success System. Enter via rafflecopter below. Competition closes 27th March 2018. Open worldwide. Other T&Cs apply.

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*Post contains affiliate links. This means I get a fee for each person that signs up, this does not cost the buyer anything extra. Thank you for supporting me in this way!

Disclosure: I was given a free subscription for the purpose of this review and giveaway.

Name A Star: Review and Giveaway 

Are you looking for a last minute gift idea? Or do you get stuck when looking for presents in general? Or perhaps you are simply on the hunt for something abit different? Whatever the occasion, I love finding thoughtful gifts; something handmade, personal or unique in some way. But sometimes it can be difficult to come up with the perfect idea. Until now…

Naming star, own star, star name registry, gift ideas, outdoors, stargazing

Star Name Registry is the UK’s number one online registry company who offers this unique gift. There are a variety of packages to choose from, with prices ranging from £14.99 for a standard star to £69.99 for a binary star gift set, as well as several other options inbetween. Their gift set version of each package comes with a framed certficate beautifully presented in a silver box, whereas the regular version comes in an envelope. If you need it in a hurry, you can choose to have it sent via email for an extra £4.99 (sent within 12 hours of order received) or £6.99 for next day delivery (paper version). Gift sets can also be sent via next day special delivery for £8.49. So handy to remember as a last minute present too!

I originally found out about naming your very own star with Star Name Registry last year, when I was contacted by their lovely team to review their extra bright star gift set and host a giveaway. It really is such a fab gift idea! It is ideal for the person who has everything, anyone with an interest in stargazing or outdoors in general, or for someone who just likes something that bit different!

This lovely set includes your very own star that you can name, and choose which constellation you would like it to be located in too. It also has an explanation of the star, free download of software, map and framed certificate in a gorgeous silver box. It does make a really unusual and very lovely gift.

Star Naming Registry Uk, name star, own star, gift ideas, outdoors, Living Life Our Way

For my original review, I took quite sometime trying to decide on the name of my star and considered a couple of different options; for example, I thought about naming it after my daughter, or even her nickname ‘Squiggle’. But then I came up with the perfect idea: I chose our family name, because then the star represents all of us together. Wherever any of us are, we can look up at the night sky and see our star, and know we are together. It even includes our furbabies! Perfect.

This time, I didn’t have to think so hard because I knew it would make the perfect gift for a family member! So I named it after them, along with a short personal message to them to show our gratitude for all they do. They were very grateful!

And one lucky reader can win an Extra Bright Star gift set too! To be in with a chance of winning, enter my rafflecopter giveaway below. Good luck…

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Competition closes 29th March 2018. Open to UK residents only. Winner will be emailed a coupon code to redeem the Extra Bright Star gift set prize themselves. Other T&Cs apply.

Star Naming Registry UK, name star, own star, gift ideas, outdoors

*Disclosure: I was gifted Extra Bright Star gift sets free of charge for the purpose of review. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

Mud & Bloom Nature Crafts and Gardening Subscription Box: Review, Discount Code and Giveaway

Mud & Bloom is a fab new monthly subscription box for nature lovers. Each month the box contains two seasonal activities; a gardening activity and a nature craft. There are also quizzes, spotting cards, information sheets and so on. The boxes include everything you need to complete the activities, except occasionally for everyday items that would generally be around the home anyway, such as finding some kind of pot for planting – a yogurt pot or other such item would suffice. It is aimed at approximately 3- 8 year olds and costs £7.95 per month with free UK shipping.

Mud and Bloom nature crafts and gardening subscription box - image of contents

About The Creator

This lovely idea came from a mum of 2 young children, Anja, and was inspired by her love of nature. The activities have been created by qualified teachers and are influenced by various educational approaches.

About The Box

The box I reviewed (February) contained the following activities; grow your own cherry tomatoes, grow your own basil and paint your own pebbles. (This doesn’t get old even if you have done it before!) The only things we needed to get ourselves were the actual rocks and pots for planting, plus a plastic bag.

It also contains a nature spotters activity for things you might see in February, which is a nice little activity to do whilst outdoors on a nature walk. (And might encourage you and your littlies to venture out in the cold even if you don’t usually!)

A Sample Activity

We have only done the grow your own basil activity so far. (Squiggle is still unwell and hasn’t felt up to it but was keen for me not to do it without her!) It was a simple activity that children of any age can enjoy doing.

Grow your own basil - mud and bloom - packet of seeds and instruction card image.

The instructions are detailed but still written in a straightforward way. They are well explained and easy to read/ follow. They are high quality and very well produced in my opinion!

Image of Squiggle reading grow your own basil instruction card.

I liked the fact that it came with soil pellets that are part of the fun – and save messing around bringing soil in from the garden!

You just put them in warm water for 10- 15 minutes and they expand. I used that time to grab the stuff we needed (pots and a plastic bag) while Squiggle watched them grow.

An image of everything needed for grow your own basil. Soil pellets expanding in water.

Squiggle did find it tricky to get the seeds in the hole – you would think we have never planted seeds before! However it would be very simple if she had been carefully pinching a few seeds from her hand or the packet with thumb and forefinger, rather than just pouring them – I would think this goes without saying generally though of course, she just wasn’t quite with it bless her!

Our Verdict

We really like these boxes! The packaging has been carefully thought out to avoid waste wherever possible. The activities are good for a range of ages and are still fun if you have done them before. The instructions are clear and everything about the contents feels high quality. I personally feel they are reasonable value for money given the price includes postage and the subscription is flexible; it can be stopped or paused anytime. They get a thumbs up from us!

Discount Code

For 50% off your first box please use the code LIVINGLIFEOURWAY

Giveaway!

One lucky reader can win a 3 month subscription to Mud & Bloom. Enter via rafflecopter below. UK only. Ends 25th March 2018. T&Cs apply. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Disclosure: I received a 3 month subscription in exchange for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Love Layla: Witty Birthday Cards, Gifts and Wrap (Review) 

Love Layla is a small independent retailer of greetings cards, gifts and wrapping paper for all occasions – with a difference. Their unique range is witty, cheeky and sometimes downright offensive… but all in good humour!

Love Layla greetings card, wrap and wine label for favourite child range.

I was kindly sent a sample selection of their range to review. I chose their ‘favourite child’ theme to feature because this is one of my personal particular faves; I think it works really well in a range of contexts. For example, Squiggle thinks it’s hilarious because the joke is that she is our only child! But it is also funny if you have siblings too of course, and even as an adult ‘child’ as well. It is very much Squiggle’s dad humour as a middle sibling to give his mum a ‘favourite child’ bottle of wine as a gift too for example.

Love Layla greetings cards, wine label and wrapping paper.

The wrapping paper is very thick, absolutely brilliant quality. It costs £4.25 for one A1 size sheet (841mm x 594mm). You can purchase the ‘From Your Favourite Child’ wrap here.

I managed to mess up putting the wine label on slightly, as you can see in the picture. I swear I hadn’t been drinking it before putting the label on, I was just getting distracted by my own favourite child, Squiggle! I can assure everyone though, it is easy to stick on as long as you actually have one moment to concentrate! The wine labels are £2.50 each.

Love Layla also have a funny 2018 calendar, available in both wall and desktop versions, which is now heavily discounted at only £4.50. So grab yourself a bargain!

Love Layla 2018 calendar. January page.

All prices include postage and packaging, i.e. delivery is free, which is fantastic! They post to UK only, and dispatch next working day by first class Royal Mail.

All in all, fab selection and great service!

*Disclosure: I was sent items to write a paid review but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

PalmistryHD: Review of Palm Reading and Horoscope App

Are you a fan of reading your horoscope or do you think it’s a load of nonsense? What about other forms of fortune telling? I have to say, I am abit of a sceptic about such things!

Don’t get me wrong, I am very spiritual and believe that our universe has amazing mystical powers. I also realise that humans only use a small percentage of our brains, so we do not even begin to fulfill the potential of what we could achieve with our minds. Therefore, I firmly believe that some individuals are capable of things that others aren’t – or, more accurately, are more tuned into certain abilities that we all possess but do not access – such as telepathy and psychic awareness for example, as well as the more basic sixth sense that comes from a strong intuition. But I feel that some types of fortune telling, such as horoscopes, are just too generalised and gimicky.

However, I do find the whole subject fascinating. And I am definitely open- minded and curious about it all. So when I found out about the new PalmistryHD app I must admit I was quite intrigued and wanted to give it a try!

The app can be downloaded on both IOS and android. It does a basic palm reading for free and for a charge of £11.99 it can go into more detail. It also has a daily horoscope section too.

Screenshot of Palmistry HD app showing palm reading and daily horoscope options.

I tried out the free palmistry feature of the app (android version). It was very quick and easy to use, it literally only took a few seconds. The instructions were very straightforward and easy to follow too.

A screenshot of the palm reading app

I found the results an interesting read. I think some of the reading rang quite true but I do also remain somewhat cynical to be honest, as I suspect that perhaps alot of things stated are vague and general enough that they can be interpreted in whatever context the reader chooses and can relate it to. Here is a short excerpt from my personal palm reading…

Screenshot of an excerpt from my personal palm reading results.

I have only tried out the app on myself and, to be honest, I do also wonder how unique my reading is. In other words, if a handful of people tested all it out, would we all get entirely different results? I don’t know the answer to this but I would be keen to find out. However, the app is abit of fun and some people might find it insightful potentially. Why not download the free version of the app and decide for yourself!

Here is a YouTube video that explains more about how palmistry works:

What do you think about it? I would love to hear your opinions!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Dicovery Channel Smart Phone Telescope and Smart Phone Microscope Review: Educational Resources – STEM Science

Over the past couple of days, we have been having fun trying out two Discovery Channel products; a smartphone microscope and telescope. I was kindly sent both of these items to review from Paladone. Here are my thoughts…

Dicovery Channel Smart Phone Telescope and Smart Phone Microscope Review: Educational Resources - STEM Science

Discovery Channel Smartphone Telescope

RRP £19.99 (Buy here via Amazon)

Description

Capture images from a greater distance than ever before with a standard smartphone or tablet camera using this 11.5cm telescope with an incredible 10x zoom. The Discovery Smartphone Telescope can be easily clipped onto the phone/ tablet and has a mini stand to steady it further.

Review

I found this abit fiddly to use with my particular phone (Samsung Galaxy S8+) as it took a few minutes to get it aligned. When I tried to adjust the lens it then slipped again. However, perhaps it is easier to use on different make/ model phones or other devices.

Discovery Channel Smartphone Telescope

I was abit disappointed to discover it didn’t seem to work in the dark, unless I was doing something wrong maybe? But I did expect a telescope could be used at night to study the stars to be honest.

However, I decided to try to spot Santa in his sleigh indoors under artificial light instead, to see how it fared under those conditions. I used the telescope from about 5 metres away and found it zoomed in very well, it lost a fair amount of quality to say the least, but it did the job of making it seem closer up.

I think it would probably be better to invest in an actual telescope but this does make an interesting novelty item. It is ok for exploring the principle of telescopes and discussing how they work.

Dicovery Channel Smart Phone Telescope in use - photo on phone vs telescope

Discovery Channel Smartphone Microscope

RRP £9.99 (Purchase from Amazon here)

Description

This microscope smartphone lens captures images in microscopic detail and is compatible with most smartphone cameras. The lens has a powerful 30x zoom, enabling you to capture images with your camera phone in great detail.

Review

I really liked this smartphone microscope. It aligned easily on my phone and worked well under a range of conditions, including in the dark. See the photo below for an example; it is of ice particles and was taken outdoors at night under the microscope.

Ice particles under the microscope

I tested it out using different items, including man-made materials and natural items too. I compared it to the zoom on my phone and was really impressed with the detail and quality!

Discovery Channel Smart Phone Microscope: comparison of photo taken on phone with no zoom, zoomed in on phone vs microscope.

In summary, I think this is really good value for money and works very well. It is definitely worth buying in my opinion!

Discovery Channel Smart Phone Microscope - leaf under the microscope.

*Disclosure: I was sent both of these items for the purpose of review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Win A Neyland Star Tartan Fabric Wingback Tub Chair

Tub chairs are a popular option for alot of people because they fit relatively easily into a room, as far as seating options go. They are a particularly versatile investment because they would work equally as well in a nursery or guest room as they do in the living room.

They can also be moved around easily too to fit in with changing layouts, such as if you decide to rearrange your furniture to create a fresh new look. Or they can even be positioned to create a more social atmosphere in a room when needed, such as having guests over for example. Great for this time of year!

Personally I think there is nothing better than having your own little space to curl up in and read a good book or chill in front of the TV.

Neyland Star Tartan Fabric Wingback Tub Chair in a cosy corner of a living room

They are stylish too; I mentioned in my recent post ‘How To Create A Cosy Winter Home’ that tartan is a great design choice for this season, so the one in this feature is perfect to create the look! Plus you can paint the legs to match your room, and the latest trends, too. There are several other lovely fabric design options too though, so do take a look at their website.

Win A Neyland Star Tartan Fabric Wingback Tub Chair

Better yet, Tub Chairs are giving away one of these awesome chairs in their twitter competition! To be in with a chance of winning a Neyland Star tartan fabric wingback tub chair (worth £245) all you have to do is RT the status below and follow them on twitter at @Tub_Chairs

For further details, as well as T&Cs, go to Sloane & Sons Tub Chair competition page. The competition is open to UK residents only. Ends 31/01/2018. Good luck!

*Disclosure: This post is written in collaboration with Sloane & Sons.