Toys we play with including reviews

On completion of assembling our climbing frame we were left with all these screws, washers, lockers and bolts…did I forget something? Yikes!

Climbing frame leftover screws

With the girls turning three we decided to buy a climbing frame for them for their birthday rather than lots of little toys to add to the mess they already are very capable of making. As they are large items and therefore expensive we asked family to chip in rather than buy separate presents and it worked well, they weren’t inundated with too many toys but had a select few beauties to open and then a big present from everyone.

I started to look around the usual retailers but was dismayed to see nothing under £500 which we really couldn’t stretch to so when I peeked on Climbing Frames one day and saw the Andorra discounted by almost 50% I jumped at the bargain of £279.00. It had two swings (need two for twins) a slide, area for sand pit and a den to climb up into. Perfect.

I ordered it, putting it on my credit card (gaining at least a month before settling the bill) and waited to hear about delivery options.

I was sent an email explaining one man delivery was no extra cost, two man delivery would be an extra £30. My logical thinking was – if it was flat packed I would be able to assist the delivery and therefore with fingers crossed I went for one man delivery. I was told I’d receive a phone call between 7 – 9am giving me an estimated time of delivery. I didn’t.

In fact I was in all day and even then the guy left the packages with my neighbour (weird?)

climbing frame assemblyAnyway, come the weekend it was time to start the assembly. One long, big box and one slide had been delivered. On opening the cardboard box it was full of wooden pieces and more packets of screws than you could shake a stick at and of course the very important instruction book, yes a book of how to put it all together.

Paul and I spent 7 hours on Saturday, to start off with there were a few swear words, a bit of arguing but once we found a happy medium we fell into place, me reading the instructions and getting all the bits ready and him using his tools to screw, twist, turn and squeeze everything into place. Was it completed Saturday evening? No.

constructing a climbing frameSunday saw us up bright and early again and back in the garden, thank goodness for a rain free weekend and another 4-5 hours were spent finishing off our climbing frame, the girls didn’t even wait for it to be finished before they started to climb the ‘rock’ wall and using the slide and since it’s been up the trampoline hasn’t got a look in. Although I really don’t think it is facing retirement just yet :)

Would I advise you to get one? Yes. If your garden has the space it is an excellent piece of equipment which I foresee them using for many years yet. On days where the weather is variable and going to the park cannot be done, this will make life so much easier.

I think it’s very important to a child’s overall health some good old fresh air  every day and with that movement, it works up an appetite, colours up those little cheeks and allows them to run off any unconsumed energy that could latter be used indoors and creating havoc.

My advice is to hunt around for a bargain, like I did and get family to chip in as alternatives to birthday presents.

climbing frame picnic

This is not a sponsored post just one happy customer!

Doll’s houses have always held a certain fascination for me. I’m sure I repeatedly wrote to Santa to have one of my very own but the Good Man always deemed something else was more important on my long wishlist, hence I never had my own, how sad.

Did you know toy doll’s houses can be traced back 400 years? I didn’t know that, I knew they go a long way back and I still have to visit Queen Mary’s dolls house at Windsor Castle, I’m just waiting till the girls are old enough to fully appreciate such a  visit. There are passionate dolls’ house collectors and houses that have been made to represent every period in history including the finest details such as pictures on the wall and china on the tables there are even catalogues listing any items you require till your heart is content.

Can you imagine my joy when Helen from John Crane emailed me to tell me my very own dollshouse a doll’s house for the girls was on it’s way for us to review. Of course it arrived just before our holiday and there was no time to set to and construct it I had to make do with imagining. So needless to say one of my first To Do Tasks on my list was the assembly of the Pintoy Marlborough Doll’s House I was so excited!

John Crane dolls house

Woman at work

It was a tough job and in some places it would have been so much easier if there had been two people but I managed because I am clever like that. Job done in about an hour roughly including a tea break much to the displeasure of the girls who wanted to play with the staircase; I had to set up all the colourful furniture along with a wooden family of four on a small table to keep them distracted.

Dolls house furniture

In the short video below you can see us playing. Currently it lives in our front room as we still spend most of our time there but as they get more used to playing in their bedrooms it too will go upstairs. There is a basement section that can be added and I think this will give the house the height the girls need to get into the bottom layer with more ease. We were sent 6 rooms to play with lounge, kitchen, dining room, bathroom (fabulous shower!) and a study complete with a computer, telephone and printer bit I think I may also invest in the bedroom for the girls as they currently re-play their daily routine a lot I don’t want them to forget about bedtime do I now??

This particular dolls house retails at £109.99 and there are smaller houses that start from £28.77. The wooden family where each member is crafted so beautifully comes in at £19.49 and each room is £16.49 (all prices quoted are from Wooden Toyshop) Thanks to the excellent quality and durability of wooden toys they not only make the perfect gift but also a family heirloom to be passed down form mother to daughter. In the video, you can actually see the thought and eye for detail that has gone into elements like the roof which opens on rubber rings which holds the roof where the child lifts it to without falling back down on them and hurting little fingers.

A fabulous child friendly masterpiece which will keep me sorry the girls happy for years to come


I’m back!!!!! Did you miss me? :D We had a lovely long weekend in Cornwall thanks to the Royal couple who gave Great Britain an extra day off – how sweet of them and didn’t she look devine? Of course you’ve all heard about my own Alexander McQueen piece as I told you about it here. More of Cornwall later, today a video of the girls as they try their hands at the new toys sent along by John Crane to try out….skipping ropes and recorders much to the delight of our neighbours. Aren’t you glad you don’t live nextdoor?

I think you may agree that although the skipping ropes are gorgeous the girls will need a lot of practising until they get the hand of them but it’s so funny to watch them try whereas the recorders they seem to have pretty much a brilliant idea on how they work, I just need to teach them a new note or two….

Right I’m off to sort out the holiday aftermath, shop, wash, vacuum, clean, scrub, iron and mustn’t forget to water the plants. Have a brilliant day and Happy Birthday to my Paul who still hasn’t reached 40!!!

As you may remember we are currently doing DIY on the girls bedroom which hasn’t been touched since we moved in last year, a LOT of wallpaper has been stripped, a wardrobe and vanity area ripped out and the next task is preparing the walls for painting. I have been looking online at children’s beds and a shelving unit to house all of their toys, books and cuddlies and the best part – choosing colours and decor. All very exciting stuff and now I just want to have the whole task completed and looking beautiful. There is a bit of debate between myself and the mister – I am all for ripping up the carpet and laying an easy to clean, wooden floor with a rug or two for warmth, he wants to keep the carpet which although wouldn’t have been my choice is of an excellent quality. I’m still holding out to get my own way :)

With this project in mind John Crane sent us through some toy storage solutions to try out. A beautiful white chest, a ‘skip’ which is really cute and makes me smile every time I look at it and a step up stool which is coming in handy all around the house not just the bedroom. I made a short video where you can see them on display and get more of a ‘real life’ idea but just one very important mention, if you would like one of the white chests then nip over to the John Crane blog where there is a special offer to have your Pintoy product personalised with your child’s name at no extra cost. Have a look at Bundles of Joy to see the full range available.

As always each product is made to the highest standard and you can feel the quality. A lot of thought and attention has gone into each piece from the easy to assemble instructions to the ‘pleasing the eye’ factor and I am very happy to openly encourage everyone to have a look as I don’t think you will be at all disappointed. Check out the short video below to see why…

With my Craniac hat on, I now present to you our second review for John Crane wooden toys, this particular toy from their Tidlo range is the Oldfield Farm. It comes in beautifully painted pieces which need assembling into houses, barns, stys and cow shed. They very kindly provide all of the nails and a mini Phillips screwdriver.

The instructions are very easy to follow and the whole assembly took just over 20 minutes. Just one thing, I couldn’t get on with the screwdriver provided as it was too large a head for the nails and taking forever so I resorted to my trusted Christmas Cracker screwdriver and sailed through the job in no time.

The finished product comprises two boards painted with grass areas, a pond and yellow areas for roads and spaces surrounding the houses, each piece has a removable roof fixed by two magnets so children can open them and use the areas for more creative play and the barn comes with a ladder that clips onto the side which has caused hours of fun and torment in this house. The ladder only rests by means of two grooves on the top legs, this means a small child’s heavy handed ‘walking a person up the ladder’ causes the ladder to fall to the ground and a frustrated toddler!

The farm does not come with animals but there are plenty on offer through various online retailers and we had our set within 3 days. John Crane also sent along with the farm set a family of people which are absolutely gorgeous. They are beautifully made from wood, their legs and arms move and they have woollen hair and brightly coloured cotton clothes, my girls immediately distinguished them as a family calling them mummy, daddy, little boy and little girl and this family frequently move out of the farm and are found playing all over the house! We also got a tractor which is made of two pieces held together by a sturdy rope and the girls love it, they fill up the back with all the animals and cart them around the front room.

They really enjoy playing with the farm set and it’s lovely to watch them converse as they play. We are currently potty training (or trying to) and it made me smile to see Alice holding a pig and saying, ‘I need a wee-wee mummy’ and replying ‘Let’s find the potty’ I’m pleased the pig has understood the wee = potty process but I so wish she would too!

Personally I found it very refreshing to play with a toy that isn’t girly and allowed the girls to expand their knowledge of animals, people and role play and if there is one thing I will have to look out for next time I’m at the supermarket it’s a big box to store all the bits in to keep it in good condition and to prevent losing pieces. But a definite thumbs up from us, beautifully presented, easy to assemble, sturdy, excellent quality and a toy that can be handed down for generations to come.

Have a look at a short video of the girls playing with it, it definitely brings a smile to my face