It’s that time of year when we want to get out in our gardens and soak up as much sunshine as we possibly can, it’s the time of year for playing outdoors, firing up the barbecue and drinking Pimms.

But in order to fire up the barbecue and drink your Pimms in peace you need to make sure the kids are entertained.

Now if you have to stand up and keep them amused, well that’s encroaching on your Pimms time right so the best idea is to look for outdoor toys and games that allow them to play nicely together. Are we all agreeing on this one?

fairwood cubby playhouseWell I was having a little search online to see what goods were coming up and THIS caught my eye, doesn’t it shout out Golidlocks and the three bears?

A Wendy House made in wood so it’s sturdy and looks so cute. I am thinking teddy bear’s picnics, I am thinking of putting up a couple of shelves in there for some favourite books, how about painting the inside white, the outside blue or pink or maybe yellow? A small table and chairs and picnics in their home. LOVE it.

I loved this Tee Pee Tent too and can hear the ‘Whoo,whoo, whoo!’ cries running around the garden. I also discovered a Make a yarn tipi post which looks really easy and quick to assemble.

asda tee pee tent

Or how about one of these? A Wave Rider Water Slide? who knows after a couple of Pimms you might be having a go yourself?

Wave Rider Water slide


And of course water fun doesn’t end there, how about a paddling pool? ASDA Direct have tons of different sizes, there are dinosaur ones, princess ones, big ones and little ones too

paddling pool

You can find skipping ropes, bowling sets, hula hoops, bicycles, sand pits, water play activity centres and lots lots more, what’s more there’s a clearance sale on so you can even pick up a bargain or two.

I was invited to a great event in July which I sadly couldn’t take part in due to family commitments but I hope to go next year. It’s an event where the top toy companies showcase their new products for the upcoming Christmas season and ask a group of mums (I was supposed to be one of them) to go around the toy fair and judge the toys, choosing their top 5 for each category as can be seen below.

So in a ‘You heard it here first’ these are the products my fellow judges chose and I thought by sharing them now you could do a little internet search and see if any of them fit the bill for your gift list.

Enjoy the list, I’d be interested to know what your thoughts are – would you have chosen them?

Top toys for Christmas 2012

1. Augmented Reality Puzzles, Ravensburger

Ravensburger Augmented Reality Puzzle

2. InnoTab 2, VTech

VTech InnoTab 2 blue

3. Wheelybugs, Hippychick Ltd

Wheelybugs - Hippychick

4. Sylvanian Families Holiday, Flair

Flair - Sylvanian Families Holidays - Girls

5. Leap Pad 2, Leap Frog

LeapPad 2- LeapFrog


Top Boys’ Toys for Christmas 2012

1. Subbuteo, Paul Lamond

2. Dinosaur figures, Schleich

3. Star Wars rc pump and play R2-D2, Bladez Toys

4. Topps Minis FA Wembley Stadium, Character Options

5. Trash Pack Street Sweeper, Flair

Top Girls’ Toys for Christmas 2012

1. Wheelybugs, Hippychick Ltd

2. Sylvanian Families Holidays, Flair

3. myStyle Deluxe Charm Bracelet kits, Interplay

4. Love my street, World’s Apart

5. Bratzillas, MGA Entertainment

Top Creative Toys for Christmas 2012

1. Aquarelle, Ravensburger

2. Brain Noodles, Paul Lamond Games

3. Triqo Deluxe Box Mix

4. Paper FX, Flair

5. Make your own Go Kart, ARK DIY Toys

Top pre school toys for Christmas 2012

1. Peppa Pig jumping in muddy puddles, Character Options

2. Go MINI, Golden Bear

3. Large farm playset on the land, HABA

4. Mike the Knight Glendragon play set, Character Options

5. Polar World set, Tolo Toys

 Top Gadgets for Christmas 2012

1. Augmented reality puzzles, Ravensburger

2. HEXBUG Scarab, Innovation First

3. Google Android RC robot, Bladez Toys

4. itikes map, MGA/Zapf

5. Water cannon, Bladez Toys

Top Electronic for Christmas 2012

1. InnoTab 2, VTech

2. LeapPad 2, Leap Frog

3. Kurio, Inspiration Works

4. Skylanders Giants, Activision

5. Singalongs, Wow! Stuff

Top Games and Puzzles for Christmas 2012

1. 3D puzzle, Ravensburger

2. It’s a chicken, Paul Lamond Games

3. Christmas Puzzle, Ravensburger

4. Rubiks Cube, Drumond Park

5. Logo What Am I, Drumond Park

I was ‘challenged’ on Twitter this morning when my Brittany Ferries post was automated to my timeline, it’s a first for me and I found myself defending my corner quite fiercely which a little later on in the morning surprised me so I started to reflect on the whys of this reaction?

Twitter Brittany Ferries review

I agree to review certain products or services with the PR or company that I’m interested in and therefore yes, it’s more than likely going to be a good review.

Apart from adding the usual disclosure at the end of the article to ensure readers that I have received the product/holiday in exchange for a post on Mari’s World and am therefore declaring it’s a freebie what am I actually looking for when I review something?

Toy Reviews

I have been working with John Crane for over a year now and of course after that amount of time a good rapport is created but as chief reviewer I would like to think that my word is taken for what it is. I have also reviewed many toys and children’s books for other companies too and I hope to continue along that line so what do I look for in a toy or book for children?

I want quality, I want something for my money first and foremost and I don’t want it to break the minute it’s played with.

I want the toy to do it’s job and that is keep my little ones amused for a decent length of time, to help them develop their skills and interaction with the world around us. If the toy has added educational properties all the better in my book.

Product reviews

Again quality for money, I want to know the product does what it says on the box and does it well. I am a housewife with limited time so I want products that can help me solve problems around my home, that are useful for my life and not just filling space in my cupboards.

Travel Reviews

Probably the most money a family will fork out in a year is on the annual holiday. It means an awful lot to each member of that family, parents have worked hard all year and will want to relax and have fun with their families, children want to be able to spend quality time with their parents and most of all families want to make good memories that will last forever.

I look for clean and comfortable surroundings in line with the amount of money the holiday costs. I look for friendly staff. Having worked in the tourism industry I understand it’s hard work, I know there are difficult customers but a smile costs nothing and gets you everywhere and just because he is rude doesn’t mean to say I am ;)

I look for cleanliness in your facilities like the swimming pools, public toilets, bar, restaurant and so on.

I look for ‘extras’ that I may be getting for my money, entertainment for the children? A park for the children to play in? Maps and information on the surrounding area? Sky TV so dad can watch his football?

I look for service, for example can you keep my unused wine till the day after in the fridge for me? I have a crying, tired child at dinner, have you got crayons and paper to tide them over for half an hour? Can members of staff jump in and solve a problem for me without needing to be asked?

If, as I am packing my bags and leaving a place, I am sad to be leaving then it suggests to me I had a great time and therefore my review will be positive for sure.

If I find a dirty room, dirty linen on the beds, unhelpful angry staff, you’ll hear about it. Does the swimming pool need a darned good cleaning? I’ll let you know.

One last note, we can all find something bad to talk about EVERYWHERE, people live entire lives moaning and groaning and I am not one to pick holes, I know members of staff have bad days, stressed moments, I get the chambermaid forgot to change the towels as she was changing over 30 rooms by midday and I know by being pleasant and asking reception all manner of ‘problems’ can be quickly and easily solved and that staff are only to happy to help.

That is what I’m looking for