I’m delighted to join forces with Carlton Books for this exciting review and giveaway. Carlton Books have very kindly gifted me copies of four new titles from their Paperscapes series of children’s books, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions within this review are therefore both honest and my own (or my son’s).
I also have a complete set of these lovely books to give away to one lucky reader. So stay with me whilst I explain why these books would be great for your kids!
What’s different about paperscapes books?
I must admit that I’m a bit of a fiend for novelties and things that are out of the ordinary. That’s why, when I saw these unique looking educational books, I just had to have them for my son. The Paperscapes series are beautifully illustrated hardback books for kids, with a twist! They can also, with a little craftiness, become a beautiful work of art.
These stunning books look like your average fact-based reference books. Until you open the first page to find this:
I have to admit that I was a little nervous about this concept at first. My generation was brought up to love and respect books. Scribbling edits into science text books at school (however funny they may have been) or tearing out pages, always ended in detention. There is also the fact that my son is a couple of years younger than the recommended age group for these titles, of 7+. At just turned 5, I wondered if this might end in disaster.
The conclusion being that younger kids, I would suggest 4+, could easily appreciate these books too, with just a bit more parental guidance. The result was beautiful and my son’s reaction was “Wow, it looks like the animals are in real life!” Another noteworthy point, which had concerned me prior to review, was the ‘post popping out’ integrity of the books. Well fear not, each page is constructed of more of a thin cardboard than thick paper. Even with an eager 5-year-old turning pages back and forth, the book’s integrity was, thankfully, not compromised by the loss of its edges.
Which titles are available in the series?
So, once you are past the amazement of books that are also a mini craft project, what do you get from these books? There are four new titles available from the Carlton Paperscapes range, which include:
They are all presented in a lovely simple format, which appeals to a wide age group. There are small concise paragraphs about each creature or topic, with bullet formatted facts picked out. They have chosen to highlight the type of facts that would be most appealing to primary aged kids. You know, the type usually accompanied with an “eeewww” or “woah!” reaction.
The illustrated maps and repeated familiar logo usage throughout, allows for easy fact comparison between pages. For example, each dinosaur has a little knife and fork next to the dietary information, so even pre-readers can recognise this and ask questions about what they see. At the same time, the language doesn’t pander to its youngest audience and I feel that this provides a great feeling of balance. The result being, a broadening of the age range these books would suit, which I would suggest as between 4 and 12 years.
I’m sold, how can I get some?
All four of these awesome titles were released in February 2019 and are available to purchase at a very reasonable £12.99 each from Carlton Books online, Amazon or your local book store. You can also visit their social media pages here to keep on top of new releases:
Or, if you’re feeling lucky, they have also very kindly given me a whole set, worth over £50, to give away to one of you lucky people. Just enter using the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win!
Enter to win today and You too could create this level of amazement in your child (edit: not guaranteed – he’s a bit over dramatic, bless him)
Please note: There are some affiliate links on this page, this means that I get a small fee if you decide to purchase via them.This does not cost you anything and it allows me to continue to run my blog. Thanks for your understanding.
As my old prize wins post was getting a little long, I’ve decided to start a fresh one for 2019. I’ll be using the same format as previous years, as I think bulleted lists are more easily digestible. I will however be linking to reviews etc of these prizes as the year goes on and hopefully, the prizes roll in. As I mentioned in my top wins of 2018 post, the start of 2019 is already looking pretty killer!
A T2 goodie bag full of tea and associated products
A madness special edition album and board game set
A box of 10 of 2018s best children’s books from Egmont publishing
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-verse – The Art Of The Movie
A Lightbox display with changeable letters
An Exit ladies watch worth £139
A 7 day all-inclusive 4 star family holiday to Port Aventura World resort!!!! I’ll be taking this in May 2019. Comping goal for the year achieved on 9th January – and yes I did have to go live on the radio (Heart FM) for this one!!! Post coming soon about stepping out of your comfort zone.
A Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 Smart Phone worth £500
A one of a kind illustration from How to Train your Dragon 3 signed by the director
A Transformers Bumblebee movie rubix cube style key chain
As a person who lives with many painful health conditions, I’m always on the lookout for new pain relief options. I feel very lucky, therefore, to be collaborating with Bristol CBD for this amazing giveaway (edit – Now closed) Before we get into that however, I’d love to share my experience of using Bristol CBD’s full spectrum CBD oil with you.
Who are Bristol CBD?
Bristol CBD are a specialist CBD oil supplier that deal exclusively in full spectrum CBD oils. They offer a range of 6 different strengths of oil, from 300mg right through to 2000mg. Each strength is available in a oil dropper or spray bottle. There is also a paste available if that’s your preference.
The company was created by two natural healthcare practitioners, inspired by the many stories they had heard about the amazing health benefits of CBD. They produce their own high quality CBD products, all of which are extracted from handpicked organic hemp sativa, using CO2 extraction. Each extract contains CBD (cannabidiol), and the full spectrum of healthy cannabinoids as well as terpenes and omega 3 fatty acids. The THC content is safely below the EU legal threshold of 0.2%. Lab reports for this CBD oil are available on their website, so you can be sure that you’re getting a legal, safe and high quality product. The product is also 100% vegan, which is something that is very important to me.
Bristol CBD are a small, independent company that are genuinely passionate about what they do. Their reviews on Trustpilot are glowing and they have a rating of excellent, which is no mean feat with the honesty laden online review culture. I was honoured that they chose me to write a review of their fantastic product.
What are the health benefits of CBD
CBD is a buzz word nowadays, but in the event that you’re still in the dark about it, please be assured, it’s not marijuana! CBD (cannabidiol), whilst derived from the cannabis plant, has such a minute percentage of THC (the psychoactive aspect of cannabis) that it cannot make you “high”. It is also perfectly legal in the UK and has been for some time. There is a very helpful blog section on the Bristol CBD website which has plenty more information on the subject.
The health benefits of CBD are many and varied. As someone with health conditions that remain unresolved by conventional medicine, I am a huge advocate for the use of CBD health products and cannabis based medicines in general, for the treatment of chronic and terminal illnesses.
CBD has been successfully used in the treatment of chronic pain conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia and M.E, as well as epilepsy, anxiety and depression. It has also been very successfully used alongside cancer treatments. I won’t provide links to lots of case studies here, as a quick Google search will provide you with all you need to know.
I’ve tried and tested a quite a number of CBD products myself in the quest to find comfort from a life of continuous pain. This is why I feel that my knowledge and experience will provide you with a fair and useful review of this product. I would like to clarify that I am not being compensated for this review, however, I did receive a bottle of Bristol CBD oil for free in exchange for my honest review.
My experience using Bristol CBD Oil
As someone who understands the desperation of needing solace from pain, sleeplessness and anxiety, I feel ethically bound to provide an honest review to my fellow sufferers. I have no intention of providing false hope or miracle cure suggestions here. What I will give you, is a thorough report of my experience using Bristol CBD oil, which I really hope will help you to decide if this could be a good option for you.
Please remember that all medicines and health supplements, whether prescribed or complimentary, react differently in different individuals. My review is specific to my experience and you may not necessarily have the same one.
I don’t go into the details of my health conditions too much in my blog, however, for the purpose of helping others suffering with similar issues… Firstly there’s hypermobility syndrome. This caused sacroilliac joint dysfunction in my pregnancy and left me with frequently subluxating hips, which will eventually develop into arthritis, if it hasn’t already. I also have arthritis of the knees and my patella subluxate regularly too. As a result of these conditions, I live with severe hip, groin, leg and spinal pain daily and haven’t walked without the support of crutches for over 5 years.
Recently, I’ve also been diagnosed with endemetriosis and large polyps in the uterus, for which I’m due to undergo surgery. On top of this, I suffer from undiagnosed nerve issues including pain, regular foot drop in one or both feet and severe arm spasms. Samples of my nerves have been sent to the rare diseases lab at Oxford University to investigate this, but I am currently still in the dark.
Bristol CBD Oil Usage Diary
I received the oil today and was very excited to try it. I’ve read all of the literature and great reviews about Bristol CBD. Honestly, I am going into this with somewhat high hopes, so will try to remain level headed.
I realise that I’ve been supplied the 300mg CBD oil, which it suggests is for sensitive people and beginners. This causes some concern that I won’t feel any effects, as I am neither a beginner, nor sensitive to CBD.
At 11am I take the first dose. The information leaflet suggests that you take it 2 hours after prescribed medication (I take a lot of painkillers). I’m incredibly pleasantly surprised by the sheer strength of this oil. I have had CBD oils claiming to be 1000mg that haven’t had anywhere near the impact that this 300mg does. My main feeling is an overall sense of relaxation. Whilst it doesn’t kill the pain for me, it certainly helps me to deal with it.
At 3pm, I’m not quite as desperate for my next opiate intake as I usually am. This is really significant for me. This is definitely the best CBD product that I’ve tried to date.
I ended up taking 3 doses yesterday and definitely felt more relaxed and able to cope with my pain. The doses of my prescribed medication all wound up being spread further apart than usual, which was very satisfying.
I have no doubts whatsoever about the quality of Bristol CBD oil at this point and am really keen to adjust the dosage to my needs. It is lovely to be more relaxed and not itching for the next opiates, 3 hours after the last dose. But I do feel that this has the potential to go so much further for me, at the correct dosage.
I plan to up the intake to 4 times today, leaving the last dose until bed time. I’ve heard amazing things about the restful sleep CBD can bring, i’ve just not experienced it. With the level of relaxation I’ve experienced so far with this oil, however, it makes sense that this would be the case.
Ok, wow! Last night something very odd happened. I slept! I slept a normal human amount and went to bed incredibly early (for me). As someone who goes to bed between 2.30 and 3.00am every night (morning), I’m endlessly tired. Last night I fell asleep on the sofa at 10pm. My husband nearly died of shock, as he’s always in bed hours before I am, and I had to take myself off to bed at 10.30.
I got up this morning at 6, (I have a 4-year-old!) but this time, after having 7 HOURS SLEEP!! This is the most amount of continuous sleep I’ve had for about 6 years. I feel wonderful. Actually, I genuinely don’t remember this feeling of not being completely exhausted. I think we can say that the extra dose was a win. Just a remarkable transformation.
So, I’ve given Bristol CBD a thorough testing for 3 days and have to say that I’m stunned with the success. If such a small dose has this level of impact on my mood and ability to sleep, I’m genuinely excited to try a higher dosage and see where it takes me.
Obviously I have a lot of health conditions, most of which are here to stay. If you live with chronic pain though, you will understand that even a 25% reduction in suffering would be absolutely life changing. I highly recommend giving Bristol CBD oil a try if you have any symptoms or conditions that are similar to mine.
You can contact them in any of the following ways:
Thank you for reading and please feel free to ask any questions about my symptoms or the effects of the oil. If I can help anyone that is suffering to feel just a little better, it would make my day, as I know how much it means!
Every year at this time, there are a huge amount of new toys introduced to the market, that every kid ‘desperately needs’. As parents, grandparents, aunties, uncles etc, we often feel under great pressure to fulfil these ‘needs’. I, for one, am going to find it a real struggle to provide the thousands of toys on my son’s list! And, he’s an only child!
Which toys will be most popular for Christmas 2018?
So, with the above in mind, I want to try to help reduce that burden on you to buy EVERYTHING. Recently I’ve paid a lot of attention to articles created by the main toy shops and online retailers listing what they consider to be the top toys for Christmas 2018. Below, I’ve compiled a list of what I consider to be the top eight desired toys/categories of toys this Christmas, as a result of that research. For each toy on the list, I’ve provided as many links as I can find to competitions where you can win them.
Make sure to check back regularly for more opportunities to win the toys that your kids are asking for, because I’ll keep updating this post between now and Christmas.
At my top spot this year is LEGO. It’s surprising to me that a toy that has been around for so long remains as popular as Lego does. I do, however, really love that, at the number one spot, is a toy that encourages dexterity, design and concentration skills. This year, with lots of new sets available just in time for Christmas, including the sought after Harry Potter range, I’ve seen LEGO pop up on every single toy shop list I’ve read. In addition to a wide range of Harry Potter sets, new sets from the LEGO Friends range, Duplo range, Creator range and Ninjago range, all appeared in top 2018 Christmas toy lists.
Here are some links to LEGO competitions that are running throughout November and December. Please note the end dates at the beginning of each link. I will try to keep the list as current as possible, but some of them may close before I get the chance to update it.
Here are the links to the Barbie related competitions that I’ve found:
Currently all closed: Will update in new ones found…
I appreciate that this is a wide category of toys, but as STEM seems to be a real buzz word for parents and teachers at the moment, I felt it deserved its place on my list. STEM is the acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, in case you were wondering. They are toys designed to make learning fun for kids and as someone who is currently arranging a science themed birthday party for a 5-year-old, I can confirm that they succeed. On the top toys lists, I came across many different types of toys, catering to a wide age range, that fell under the banner of STEM. Some of the most sought after ranges this year are Learning Resources including Botley the coding robot, the Nickelodeon Experimake range, such as Experimake Sludge and Slime and Gravitax sets from Ravensburger.
Here is a list of the awesome STEM toys that are available to win online right now:
As a huge Dr Seuss fan, we are very excited, in our house, that they have decided to revive this absolute classic. We were lucky enough to see the live performance of The Grinch last Christmas at Universal Studios in Florida. It was amazing! And yes, I did shed a tear lol. My son, who is almost 5, has the gorgeous young Grinch toy from Build a Bear factory on his Christmas wish list (aka hidden in my bedroom). I’ve also seen a plethora of related merchandise and clothing available for the Grinch movie. Unfortunately, the actual Blu-ray release is not until February 2019, which is a shame.
Here are some links to competitions where you can win Grinch related prizes:
LOL Surprise Eggs were huge last year, with parents being forced to pay way over the odds for items that had been bought up in bulk and sold on eBay at ridiculous mark ups. Well, they haven’t really lost much popularity in the mean time and this Christmas will see the launch of their LOL Biggie Pet Figure, LOL Bigger Surprise and LOL Surprise House ranges. These 3 items appear on a lot of the top toy lists, as well as the original range still having notable popularity, given the collectible nature of the toy.
Here are the links for LOL Surprise related competitions that I have found
Anyone with a child that watches YouTube will appreciate (or not) the popularity of NERF guns. In the US they’ve been popular for decades, but they’ve also become increasingly popular here in recent years. They also seem to interest kids from a very wide age range! Although intended for ages 8 and up, my son has been interested since his 4th birthday and I also know teens that still love NERF. This year, the new and sought after additions to their range are NERF Laser Alpha, NERF Rival Prometheus MXVIII-20K Blaster and of course, the Hauck NERF Battle Racer is still popular, particularly with younger kids.
Here are some links to where you can win NERF toys in time for this Christmas:
My Little Pony have been around since I was a little girl (I’m showing my age now!) and it was really nice to see that they have brought out a retro range this year that look just like the originals. These toys have had a real resurgence in popularity in recent years and this year is no different. Both the Ultimate Equestria Collection and Mega Collections appear in the top anticipated toy lists for 2018.
Here are some links that I have found to win My Little Pony toys:
Another very broad category here, I know. It makes me very happy though, that in these days of technology overload, the number of board games on kids’ Christmas lists continue to increase. Ironically, I’m pretty sure that YouTube is the culprit for the rise in popularity, due to the millions of unboxing videos, however as long as they’re still being appreciated, where’s the harm! There are a lot of board games from different manufacturers appearing on this years top toys lists. Here are a handful of the most frequently mentioned titles that I came across during my research; Pie Face Canon, Don’t Step in it, Fortnite Monopoly, What’s in Ned’s Head and Soggy Doggy.
Here are some links where you can win a whole host of different board games. They are actually one of the most abundant giveaway items this year, so if there are any on you kids’ lists then I would recommend starting here:
And of course, in addition to those links I have mentioned above, I must recommend the following pages’ toy categories. These sites have been very good to me in the past when sourcing presents, so I wish you the best of luck with winning some for yourselves. I would love to read your comments about what you are/were trying to win this year and whether or not you succeeded.
Please note: There are Amazon affiliate links on this page, this means that I get a small fee from Amazon if you purchase via my link. This does not cost you anything and it allows me to continue to run my blog. Thanks for your understanding.
Win a magical Christmas themed photo shoot for your children or pets
I have teamed up with Shadow Studio to offer you an awesome Christmas themed giveaway. Check out the gleam form below for your opportunity to win. The prize includes a free 30 minute photo shoot at Shadow Studio and a choice of 7 x 5 print from your shoot.
All about Shadow Studio
Shadow Studio is a professional photo studio near to Gloucester Quays, in the heart of Gloucestershire. They have two resident photographers, one of whom, Mark, has been a good friend of mine for over 20 years. They specialise in family, child, baby and pet portraits.
Mark is an excellent photographer who started as a hobbyist many years ago. I’ve followed his progress from the very beginning through to his current successful studio. He has taken photographs of my son, Zeke on numerous occasions and I’m always thrilled with the results. As a father himself, Mark is excellent with children. He makes friends with them and really puts them at ease for a shoot. Zeke doesn’t leave his side when we go out for the day, which gives me a nice break. Also, if you’re planning on having a photo of your pet, you should know that in our friend circle, Mark has always been known as Dr Doolittle!
Shadow Studio aim to cater to all tastes and budgets, offering a wide range of photograph styles and set options. They also hire out the studio for photographer camera club events, model photo shoots, projects with their makeup artists, student projects and some commercial photography. You can contact them via their Facebook or Instagram page for further details and prices.
Enter for your chance to win a themed photo shoot and print in time for Christmas
Shadow Studio have generously given me a prize package to offer to a lucky reader. The prize consists of a 30 minute photo shoot for either your child(ren) or pet(s) with a choice of magical Christmas themed backgrounds. You will also receive a 7×5 print of your choice from the photo shoot, to take home as a treasured memory of your day. It would make an excellent Christmas gift for relatives or even a nice holiday card image.
Simply enter via the gleam form below. Please note: Although this is a promotional piece, I am not accepting any payment or benefits in return, therefore it does not qualify as an ad post.
This is a comprehensive (as far as memory allows) list of all of my competition prize wins since I began comping back in 2013. It took me a while to get my head around it. I needed to find the best techniques, discover which websites to use and which to avoid and therefore, it was a while before I started to win very much.
I am also going to put a disclaimer in here, that whilst I believe that luck plays very little part in winning competitions, there are certainly ups and downs in comping and definitely no guarantees. Please do not go into comping expecting to win! If you look at it as a fun pass time and see every win as a bonus, then you will be as passionate about it as I am!
During this period I was either severely ill throughout my pregnancy or severely ill looking after a new born/young baby. Although I initially started comping during this period, I didn’t really begin to take it seriously (or keep a proper list) until half way through 2016, when I had a far more manageable 2 year old. For that reason, and due to my appalling memory, the list covering this period is incomplete!
Lego Elves Treehouse Playset
Hamper of Avery craft labels and small gifts to label up, such as wine and soaps
Numerous Crafting and sewing sets
Choice of £50 worth of stamping supplies
4 night stay in a detached lodge at Bluestone National Park in Wales
St. Ives Beach house stay worth £1k – this was my favourite win of 2015
4 x tickets to see Peppa Pig’s Surprise Live at Birmingham Alexander Theatre
£750 Canopy and Stars Voucher – I managed to pay for the vast majority of 2 separate family breaks with this: Lime Tree House, Worcestershire and Lima Shepherd’s Hut , Gloucestershire – This was my favourite win of 2016
Playbrush smart kids electric toothbrush with app
3 vintage hair bows
Iconic moments in film 20 DVD bundle
2 x Grand Designs live tickets for the NEC
A Maps International kids doodle world map
Flexitol footcare products
Amazon Fire HD for Kids with drop-proof case
A Ladies padded Gilet from Damart
Ergonmic standing desk worth £500
Green people organic bath and body set
Rory’s Story Cubes – Batman Edition
Luxury 3 night family stay at Bashford Lodge in the Quantocks worth over £1000
A keyboard shaped desk tidy
1tb Xbox 360 with 2 games
Illustrated special edition Beauty and the Beast hardback book and poster
Marvel’s Logan movie merchandise pack
9 lottery scratch cards (sadly none were winners!)
Confessions of a modern woman book
Joe Browns fitted t-shirt
A Smart Kettle worth £199
4 x Thunderbirds models, large Tracey Island Playset and Backpack
A plush bunny rabbit toy
6 months supply of Floradix liquid vitamins
A large Disney dolls set
Project MC2 Doll set
£300 luxury vegan chocolate from Bean and Pod
3 x bottles of Tubby Tom’s hot sauce
Top Sante – Little book of earrings
Kidunk kids waterproof outdoor clothing and wellies set
Rhynil double strength snoring spray
4 x Plasticine playsets
Personalised wooden photo frame
Family tickets to Walking with Dinosaurs live, Hilton hotel stay and £50 voucher for dinosaur merchandise – This was my favourite win of 2017!!
Alien covenant merchandise bundle
£10 love to shop voucher
Set of 12 Titliest golf balls
Original custom Sian Hoffman waspie corset worth £350 (Sian Hoffman is a designer that makes corset’s for celebs and vogue fashion shows)
Day trip to London for 2 with personal shopper experience, Afternoon Tea and 5 star Japanese Meal
£500 Jigsaw voucher
2017 saw a total of 30 prizes, which is more than one win fortnight.
£50 Schuh voucher
Storm bloc socks bundle
£20 Roberts bakery products vouchers and a LOT of bread products. 3 crates worth!!
Heddy Lamar Movie
Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool DVD
Rolys Vegan fudge
Muddy Puddles Kids Wellies
Family VR cafe experience
Family tickets to Cirque Berserk and cast meet
OXO Herb keeper and herb growing starter set
Large Peppa pig bundle of toys worth £150
Toni and Guy hair serum
Family Premium Merlin annual passes – this is my favourite win this year to date!!
Large Toymaster bundle including £200 of toys
Large tub of Lego
Ooks app goody bag and free app credit to create a story book
On professional running clothes kit and trainers worth £300
I consider myself to be a Prize Warrior (and this is the only self congratulary post that you will get from me) for two reasons. One – I have sought out and been successful in winning a lot of very cool stuff. Some people may have been more successful, but it’s all relative and I am incredibly happy with my achievements so far.
Two – I suffer with an enormous amount of pain every day of my life. Whilst this is not the subject matter of my blog, it’s a huge obstacle in my life that I have to overcome in order to continue ‘as normal’. Anybody with a chronic pain condition will agree, I’m sure. Pain is very limiting, it makes everything in life challenging and less enjoyable than it used to be. It makes spoiling my family so much more difficult than it was when I could hold down a well paid job! The fact that I have found a way to provide and carry out fun and often pricey trips and holidays for my boy, in spite of my struggles, makes me feel at least a little warrior-esque.
Winning at winning
Partially so that I can chase up missing prizes and partially as a reminder that it’s all worth it, I have tried to drop the congratulations emails and tweets from my wins into a folder for safe keeping. On writing this blog post, however, I realised that many of my prizes turned up unexpectedly through the mail or I received a phone call about them instead! Therefore, unfortunately, I am going to have to rely on my somewhat hazy memory in order to compile a ‘complete’ list of my wins.
This brings me to an important point. It’s a great idea to keep a record of what you have won, for the reasons that I have pointed out above. May I suggest that you keep a more thorough list than I have done up to this point. I intend to regularly update the list on my blog from now on, with ALL of my wins! So hopefully, going forward, I will have put my own suggestion into practice!
What can you win?
How long is a piece of string? You can win literally anything. Prizes really can be as small as a pen or as large as a multi-thousand pound dream holiday. And yes, they do exist. And yes, I have experienced them! The smaller prize competitions are of course easier to come by and generally easier to win, however, hold out for the big wins, because they are there!
In addition to my love of competitions in general, there is a special place in my heart for those giveaways offering bizarre prizes. In this vein, I will be running my own regular “oddest prize of the month” competition. As the title suggests, whomever finds and submits to me the prize that I consider to be the strangest or most random that I have seen that month, will themselves win a prize. Look out for this in my giveaways section.
Of course, there are people who have been doing this for a lot longer than I have and have a far more impressive collection of prizes (Di Coke for example, who is my absolute comping hero!) But my arsenal of wins is not to be sniffed at, with tea bags at one end of the scale and 4 luxury holidays/breaks in the space of a little over a year at the other end!
Follow my list of prizes
If you are interested in keeping up to date with my winnings and would like to follow then you can pop over to my prize wins page, which is updated on a monthly basis, starting back in 2013 when I had my first win.