Tag Archives: Reviews

I am a Blogger Not a Blagger

I am a Blogger Not a Blagger

*Rant Alert

I don’t go around with my eyes closed, I’ve noticed quite a few times that some businesses think that bloggers spend all their time ‘blagging’ for products –  as if all we’re interested in is free stuff.  Can I just state once and for all that this annoys me beyond belief.  I know many other bloggers, including myself, who care passionately about the things they write about and review.  It’s not all about selling our souls for a complimentary pack of wet wipes and a free meal.

Some bloggers (myself included) approach businesses that we see online that are promoting what seem to be fabulous products.    Or they approach us, it works both ways.  If they are interested in the publicity, we provide detailed reviews of that product with quality photographs, informative and intelligent text, links and we splash their details all over our social networks too.  I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so my review blogs take approximately two hours to write, that doesn’t include the time it takes me to set up and take decent photographs.  That’s the minimum time, then there’s the extra time it takes to actually test out the product and promote it online.

I offer quality advertising, an honest opinion that I hope my readers appreciate and I care about what I do and what I write about.  I genuinely do think that if you have a great product I can help people find out about you.  In fact I’m more than happy to do so if it’s a product that I think will enrich people’s lives, including my own.   So if you say you’re happy for me to write a blog for you, don’t you dare get all sniffy on me when I ask for a free sample.   The least you can do is say no thank you, rather than just ignoring me.  One free sample is equivalent payment for my time, my effort and my skills.  If you even sell one of your products on the back of my review, you’ve made your money back immediately.  I’m not being unreasonable and I’m not blagging!

We’re not a rich family, we struggle the same as everyone else, there are hardly any jobs in this area and the few that are available don’t fit around looking after two small children.  I use the skills I have to help make ends meet, and this includes blogging and reviewing.  When I contact people and say I’m available for work, I’m not standing there with my hand out begging, I’m offering you an opportunity.  If you’re not interested, fair enough. Just don’t treat me like I’m a scrounger.

Cage = Rattled.

Postman Pat is a Kidnapper

‘Postman Pat is a Kidnapper’

I thought after my last post, you’d all have beggared off to read something more tasteful.  I still haven’t checked my blog subscription stats as I’m scared there’ll just be this big gaping hole where all the names used to be.  But I gained a new follower today so hello to ‘momofuc.’  So I guess there’s still a few gluttons for punishment as the saying goes.  *waves to the faithful*  Thank you. x

Anyway, important news in the Brink of Bedlam household.  Postman Pat is a kidnapper.  Oh yes he is!  Horace found the kids’ Postman Pat, toy red van yesterday at the bottom of the toy box……and in it were approximately 6 lego men.  All must have been kept captive in there for at least a couple of months.  It looked like Pat had been collecting all the members of the YMCA  hit song.

There was a builder, an army guy and other characters.  One was headless I think. Postman Pat is sicker than you’d ever have imagined.   I shall never watch that cartoon ever again without a knowing smirk.

Postman Pat, you’re a baaaad man.

P.S I always get quite a few random hits from Google when I post about Postman Pat.  I guess there must be a lot of fans out there.  If you like this post, please read some of my others meanderings rather than disappearing off into the ether again.  I do toy reviews, pls click on the ‘Reviews’ tab and see where it takes you.  The one where the Sylvannian Bunnies get strip searched by customs is quite a good one. 

Telling the Time with Orchard Toys.

Telling the Time with

Orchard Toys!

Hands up!  Who tried to tell the time with a Dandelion clock when they were little?  I know I did.  I also know it puzzled me lots, because even as a tot I realised that it couldn’t possibly be 15 O’clock and what if there were Dandelion seeds that refused to be blown away?  Did it count if you had to remove them by hand and lob them in the air?  Basically, although fun, it was a truly daft way to tell the time.

Dandelion clocks are broken! (although they are incredibly pretty….)

I didn’t actually learn how to tell the time until I was about 9 I think, which is quite late really.  It’s numbers you see, they hate me, always have, always will do.  I’m allergic to them, period.

If I’d had this game from Orchard Toys at the time I do wonder if it would have been easier to pick up the basics though.  What do you think?

This is the aptly named ‘Tell the Time’ game which is tagged on the packaging as a ‘Learn the time lotto.’

Nice shiny , colourful packaging, a good solid box that won’t break as soon as you empty the contents out, always a plus point!

I always love the ‘unboxing’ of new games and seeing what’s actually inside all the posh packaging.  In here I found:

Tons of cute pop out, activity cards complete with the time written in digital and shown on a clock face, also including a brief description of the picture shown.   There are also four much larger cards with a selection of the activity cards on them.

This is how to play the game!

You could summarise all this as ‘Bingo with pictures whilst telling the time.’

I hate reading the rules of games, there I’ve admitted it.  I often find games confusing and get easily mixed up, yes even with games designed for kids.  It’s quite embarrassing really.  This one is ok though, in fact it’s quite brilliant in its simplicity.  The kids got their heads around the game in a matter of minutes and loved it, as did I.

I loved the way it catered for children of different ages and abilities.  Sausage can’t tell the time and is no way even near to doing so, but he could still match the pictures until his board was full and he could shout ‘Time Out!’  Darlek on the other hand worked harder on matching the times and found a whole new level to the game.  So even though I have two children of different ages and abilities, they both threw themselves into ‘Telling The Time!’

Basically summarised, you simply take turns choosing the cards from a pile and whoever fills their card first, wins.  Easy as pie, and everyone loves pie, right?

I wish I had a picture of a huge pice of pie to insert here, sadly although I like pie, I’m rubbish at making it.  Maybe I should use a ‘Cake’ picture instead, or maybe that would be over egging the pudding as they say.  Anyway, I’m sick of doing all the work.  You do something!

**(Imagine a picture of a really huge piece of very appetising pie, the filling is up to you)**

Moving on.

‘You lose, you lose, YOU LOSE!’ ‘I’m the winner! Ner Ner Ner-NER!’ Sausage cheated, I sulked.

We had about 5 re-matches before tea. I ‘lost’ mostly because Sausage stropped if I won. Bad me.

Reasons why I think this is a great game:

1) This game encourages turn taking.

2) It helps to learn how to tell the time (obviously!) digitally and on a clock face.

3) Different age ranges can play happily together.

3) It’s brilliant for learning about basic numbers (eg. How many more pictures do you need to win?’

4) It’s fun and involves shouting, which is always a plus point for kids.

A very  slight drawback:

1) If you lost a card you’d have to draw your own replacement on a piece of cardboard.  I do find games that have lots of pieces are difficult to keep together.  But… as I mentioned before, the box is quite sturdy.  Not like those rubbish jigsaws you get where all the pieces slide out of ripped corners.

2) My kids cheated a lot and took cards out of turn.  Not much you can do about that though.  *tuts*

If you’d like your own copy of this you can find it at Orchard Toys on their website HERE and it is only £7.50 which I think is a very fair price considering how much fun we’ve found the game to be.

P.S Spot the deliberate mistake.  I did it to make a point. I tell you, I hate numbers, so I purposefully don’t humour them.  I hope it annoys them as much as they annoy me.

‘What Time is it Mr Penguin?!’ Or is it Mr Wolf? I’m confused now. *scratches head*

You can also buy a very cool Penguin clock (I had to fit a penguin mention somewhere didn’t I!) to go with this game.  If you’d like a penguin of your very own, that tells the time as well as being cute, it’s only £4.50 and you can find it HERE!

I’m having a Penguin Amnesty!

I’m Having a Penguin Amnesty!

(In aid of the Post Pals charity.)

Waddle, waddle, waddle!

…and no, that’s not shorthand for ‘I’m pregnant with lots of baby penguins.’

Post Pals - Putting a Smile on Childrens Faces

Here’s what I’m planning.  Blogging is a weird and wonderful hobby, and I’ve been very lucky to have had all kinds of opportunities because of what I do.  This is one of them.

Often bloggers get the chance to work with brands, to help support charities, to get involved with community projects, to get together to make a difference, and more.  All in all, we’re blessed with a little bit of webspace to stand on our pedestals and ‘do something’ whether it be to share our life experiences or photographs or whatever takes our fancy.  This is my current blogging project and I need your help to make it work!  Pretty please with penguins on it!

In a week or so I’ll be reviewing the loveliest item I have ever been lucky enough to be chosen to review.  I can’t tell you what it is because that will spoil the surprise.  All I can say is that I am going to be completing a hopefully very creative, very fun vlog, and a blog too and if all goes to plan, it will involve a ton of penguins.  Yes you read that correctly.  PENGUINS!!  Not real ones, the RSPCA wouldn’t like it, although I admit it would be fun with real flippery ones but probably a bit wet and my house would smell of fish.

Any penguins that are donated, will all be photographed and uploaded on here, with links back to yourselves if you so wish, so you will be credited for your kindness and I’m going to try and arrange a competition too, so this will be worth sharing with your friends.

Squeeeeeze!

In order to do this, I’m asking for anyone and everyone to donate penguins toys as part of a ‘Penguin Amnesty’ (inflatable, plush, second hand, new, squishy, whatever) of every shape and size, although they should be in good condition and worthy of a child’s love.  These will all be included in this fantastic vlog review and in the blog I’m planning, so they’ll be Famous Penguins and will be featured on my YouTube Channel and on here.  Afterwards I will personally arrange for them to be sent to Post Pals which is a charity that aims to put smiles on the faces of very sick children by sending them cards or presents in the post to brighten their day.  Some of their stories are so tragic, and if you can read their profiles and about their lives without a lump in your throat you’re made of sterner stuff than me.

Here is a link to the Post Pals website if you’d like to find out more about what they do.  Please do CLICK HERE for further information on this fabulous charity.

I’m a great believer in passing on good luck, and ‘what goes around comes around’ or karma or something, so I’m more than happy to put time and effort into this blogging project.  Thanks to (details to be added later….hold your breath….) the fantastic review opportunity I’ve been given, I think I should probably give something back, Post Pals is more than worthy of some support so I’ve chosen them.

Please do not send real penguins, my bath is too small and they squawk a lot.

The postage and packaging might be a little expensive, depending on how successful the Penguin Amnesty is, but I’m going to set up a Just Giving account so you can donate towards the postage if you like along with your chosen penguin (or not, it’s up to you, you can just send a penguin if that’s all you want to do).  If this works as well as I hope it does, I might have to enlist a helpful courier with a heart for poorly kids and an enthusiasm for ferrying penguins around, I’m not sure.

Mr and Mrs Travelling Penguin!

All credit will be given to any businesses or individuals who are willing to help me out, with links too.  It’s for a brilliant cause, and it’s my way of ‘doing something worthwhile’ in a roundabout, bizarre fun way.  What do you think?  If you can think of any companies or anyone who might have spare penguins and a heart of gold please comment below, or if you have penguins to spare or know of couriers who could help please do contact me!  I’m @Chaoskay on Twitter and can be contacted at ‘kay at rubbermonkeys dot co dot uk.’   (I’m writing my email that way to try to foil spammers, not because I’m being awkward.)

So, whaddya think?  Is it Penguin-ago-go?!!!!  Go, on help Post Pals ‘pppick up a pppenguin!’  I’m not scarred by chocolate biscuit bar advertising or nuffink, honest.

UPDATE! Here’s a link to the #PenguinAmnesty gallery so far!  I’ll be updating it with everyone’s donations as they roll in!  Many more penguins are waddling their way over here via the Royal Mail too, soon to be featured!  Come and have a nosey or a beak, or whatever!  CLICK HERE TO SEE THE PENGUIN AMNESTY GALLERY!

Post Pals - Putting a Smile on Childrens Faces

Sausage and His Pink Tub of Schleich Dinosaurs!

Sausage and his Pink Tub of Schleich Dinosaurs!

Warning, this is a noisy blog, you  might need earplugs, because……….

RAAAARRRGGGGGGHHHH!!!!!!!

This post is about whopping great big dinosaurs that make the ground shake when they thud around their prehistoric environment.  They’re BIG, they’re BOSSY, they’re SCARY, they could even BITE you on the bum.

The Battle of the Chocolate Biscuit – T Rex demands dinner!

Sausage loves his pet dinosaurs, and although they are normally REALLY HUGE and BITEY, they sit tamely in his pink plastic tub as I type.  Schleich have minaturised them, how clever are they!

Aw….ickle….wickly….cutsey…..wutesy dinos! All curled up after a busy day.

These are typical of Schleich toys, detailed, durable, accurate representations of the creatures they portray.  They’re perfect for children aged between 4 – 10, and are an ideal size for a child to play with.  Sausage adores his pink tub of dinosaurs and has played with them regularly ever since they stomped into our living room.

Here we have three nestled in their very own dinosaur nest (maybe not historically accurate surroundings).  My kids want a pet dog, it’s not happening any time soon, this will have to do for the moment.  This is as cute as ferocious dinosaurs get don’t you think?

Jurassic Park is set to be re-released in eye-popping 3D, so dinosaurs will no doubt be very popular this year.   With Schleich’s new dinosaur collection your child can happily re-enact prehistoric worlds and adventures in their very own living room, and in their very own plastic tub, or bucket, or fish tank, or whatever you have to hand – they’re not fussy.  Tyrannosaurus Rex will be quite content to roam the sofa eating biscuit crumbs.  I say yay for mini dinosaurs!  Hopefully the kids will stop hassling me for hamsters and dogs and stick insects for a while and be content with these fantastic beasties instead.  I can but hope!

Swooping over the Basil rainforest!

If you would like more information about the new Schleich Dinosaur collection, please click HERE for further information on their products.  Evolution PR sent me some dinosaurs to review, no other financial reward was given.

Just a casual hint….don’t feed them after midnight.  ;O)

The Day the Gogglynipper Escaped – A Review

The Day the Gogglynipper Escaped

I so wish this was the title of one of my every day blogs.  Oh to have a Gogglynipper and to find out it had escaped!  Life would be so exciting.

But no!  It is the title of a book I have been sent by Top That Publishing to review and it is written by James McKnight and illustrated by Mark Chambers.

I wouldn't want to meet one of these on a dark night!

The story goes that there is a farmer called McDoogle who has a Monster Farm and ‘on that farm he had some Monsters.   Eee I, Eee I, Oh!’ *sings* (sorry there was no way I could stop myself from doing that, that was completely involuntary!)

So….back on topic…… on this farm there is also a little boy called Diggle who helps Farmer McDoogle look after the monsters.  Diggle is the hero of the book who accidentally loses one of the monsters and has to go and find him. He searches high and low and eventually falls in a huge pile of Gogglynipper poo which gives him a clue as to where it is hiding.  It is in a very big dark cave, and as Gogglynippers can be very ‘big’ and also very ‘dramatic’ he is rather scared of going in there to fetch it.

As it happens the Gogglynipper is so pleased to see him that he rushes out and licks him all over like a huge oversized labrador.  Phew!  Diggle is so relieved to find him and begins the journey home with the Gogglynipper in tow.  Unfortunately the Gogglynipper smells some particularly fragrant smelly socks (Gogglynippers love eating smelly socks) and dashes off leaving Diggle chasing after him.  Luckily the smelly socks belong to Farmer McDoogle who is resting with his feet out of the window, and even more luckily he moves them before the Gogglynipper tries to eat them.

The moral of the story is, if you want your Gogglynippers to find  their way home, don’t wash your socks!  A helpful, life affirming kind of message I thought.

Cute funny illustrations, I loved the humour in this book.

Narrative aside, the illustrations are really charming.  They are hand drawn, cartoony and full of character and easy on the eye.  There’s also a fair bit of detail to pick out, and it has a great sense of humour.

My one criticism is that I find it almost impossible to say ‘Gogglynipper’ and ‘Noober’ (the name of the dog).  In fact, and this is hand on heart true, I kept calling them ‘Googlynipples’ and the poor doggy got called ‘Nobber’ a few times.  No I hadn’t been drinking and no it’s not Freudian.

As for my kid’s opinions – they love it.  Good pace of story, cute illustrations, great novelty factor and I’ve had to read it at least 7 times at bedtime, over the last two weeks.  The Day the Gogglynipper Escaped has been one that they’ve asked for specifically so they do enjoy reading it, my son in particular.

If you’d like a copy of this book it is £5.39 reduced from £5.99 and you can find it HERE!

Blue Microphone – The Snowball!

Blue Microphone – The Snowball!

Very seasonal I thought!

It was snowing heavily on the day this arrived in December.  How perfect! A Snowball on a snowy day I remember thinking! This is one snowball you wouldn’t want to chuck across a playground though…

I’m really impressed with this microphone, it claims to be the world’s first professional USB mic, and it picks up sound very effectively without having to go so far as to use a recording studio.  Excellent!  Personally I’m not a singer or a performer, but I am very interested in vlogging and being able to communicate via my computer and maybe even podcasting one day.  This is one snazzy piece of kit that will make these activities so much easier and sound so much more professional.  I aim to use it a lot as the days go by.

One thing I like about this is that it works well with both Macs and PC’s, which is really convenient.  The Snowball is remarkably sturdy too, it comes with its own stand and just feels nice and solid besides looking  beautifully shiny and swish.  It looks like a quality bit of technology and its credentials back that up.  The Apple website has them for sale HERE, all the tecchie details are shown there if you’re want to know more about the specifications.

To begin with, when you open the box you find: A Snowball Microphone, a 6 inch stand, and a USB cable.  Once set up you have to play with: a professional condenser microphone which is ‘plug and play’ and ready for use (no additional software necessary) and it is surprising easy to fathom.  If you’re a band wanting great sound, this is said to be the ideal choice, and if you’re a blogger wanting to expand your horizons, I’d recommend it too. Should you want a viewpoint other than my own, take a look at the reviews on HERE.

All in all I’d say this is a practical product that is worth investing in if you want decent sound as well as decent pictures on your videos or blogs and for your band if you have one.  I’m too old to be in a band and I can’t sing so don’t even try to egg me on….

Testing....testing... 123....

Plus!  The Snowball doesn’t need batteries because it’s USB!  Just a little aside.  (This is a little bug bear of mine, everything in this house runs out of batteries all the time – at least this won’t die on me!).  I forgot to mention, this is dual capsule design and is unique because it features a three pattern switch-cardioid with 10db pad, and omni.  I don’t fully understand what that means as yet, because I’ve only just started playing with it, but as time goes on I’ll be using it in future blogs and letting you know just how these features pan out.

This Blue Snowball was sent to me to review and to repeatedly say ‘Over and Out’ and ‘Roger!’ at.  No other financial reward was given.