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Star Wars - The Force Awakens Film Review

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Before I start I do want to say that I am not a huge Star Wars fan. I like Star Wars mainly because John and big J like Star Wars. I play with lightsabers mainly because big J and little J like playing with lightsabers and I don't think I have watched the original trilogy all the way through. I was excited to see the new movie mainly because John and big J were excited to see the movie. However after watching the movie on opening day I do feel the need to write my opinion on probably one of the most anticipated and talked about movie of the year, Star Wars The Force Awakens.

Star Wars - The Force Awakes
I watched the second trilogy first, episodes I, II and III and then I have watched bits of the episodes IV, V and VI over the years. I know the story from playing Star Wars Lego on the xbox with John and big J. I liked the first three episodes and obviously they were more up to date than the original trilogy. Special effects were spot on and Darth Maul was such a great baddie.

In case you are peeking at this with one eye closed scanning for spoilers, there won't be any. I know Star Wars fans who haven't seen the movie yet won't want to know about any secrets, twists and turns so I will just stick to the main points.

When the film started there was a real genuine excited atmosphere in the cinema. As the music started and the yellow scrolling text appeared on the screen telling us about the what has happened I did join in with the excitement. The main storyline was Luke Skywalker is missing. General Leia (No longer known as Princess) is searching for him. A new baddie, Kylo Ren was in charge of the First Order and also searching for Luke - the last remaining Jedi.

Throughout the film as new and old characters were introduced I totally believed each and everyone. The actors and actresses chosen for the parts, for me were spot on. I am a big fan of Girls starring Adam Driver and I wasn't sure how he would be as Kylo Ren but wow I was sold. He looked and played the part brilliantly. At first I thought his character had a Darth Maul feel about him and that maybe he would only be in it for a short time but he was on screen throughout with some really impressive scenes. You see and feel the anger inside him within the first 5 minutes so I knew it was going to be good. Also you see Kylo Ren without his helmet on to which really worked.

Star Wars - The Force Awakes

Finn and Rey reminded me of a young Luke/Han and Leia. Both really great and really stepped up to the mark. Not much was given away about Rey and her past so I am hoping we will find out more about her in future movies. All we know so far that she believes her family will return to her home planet Jakku. She has been alone there for many years, since she was young girl and is surviving by being a scavenger. Finn was brought up as a Stormtrooper but decided to rebel after his first mission. He escaped and found Rey.

BB-8 is the cutest little droid I ever did see. He is adorable and just like R2-D2 can only talk in beeps and other noises. Luckily Rey can understand him perfectly. BB-8 holds the key to Luke's whereabouts in the form of a map that both the resistance and the First Order are eager to get.

When Han and Chewie appeared on the screen I guess for fans it was just like old times. I really like Harrison Ford and considering his age he did pretty well in not looking like an old has been. In fact he had a big part in this movie and with his still dashing good looks and sarcasm he was still the Han Solo the audience loved.

For me Leia was unrecognisable. I know Carrie has aged but she looked so different. There was still chemistry between her and Han and I was a little gutted they didn't make it as a couple over the years.

So without giving to much away Star Wars The Force Awakens was definitely worth the wait. The action scenes were strong, special effects were as expected for 2015 but it still did have an original trilogy vibe. In fact it was more like the original movies than the later. I am sure spoilers will hit the internet soon if not already but I do think sometimes its best to wait and see. I know I am usually the one googling for sneak peeks but with this I didn't and I'm glad. I think even non Star Wars fans will enjoy this movie, I know I did.

Michelle


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Santa Special at Llangollen Railway

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Christmas is a very special time for us and we have many traditions that we do each year. As a family we like to visit Disneyland Paris and Santa's Sleepover at Alton Towers. My Mum and Dad enjoy taking the boys to the grotto and then on to a pantomime in the evening. My in-laws go on the Santa Special - Llangollen Railway. It's so nice that we each do something with the boys that makes Christmas that little bit more special. All these traditions have been every year for at least 11 years. This year we decided to go on the Santa Special too and I'm so glad we did.

Llangollen Railway Sign
It took about 1hr 15 minutes to arrive at Llangollen from Liverpool and when we arrived there were plenty of car parks to choose from. We parked about a 5 minute walk from the railway and it only cost £1 which was great.

We had something to drink at a local cafe/ restaurant before the train although there was plenty of choice in the station itself. There was a small cafe and also sandwiches to buy on the platform.


boy on a train
Our train left the station at approx 1:35pm. The carriages had christmas decorations hanging from the windows and felt nice and christmassy on board. We hadn't been before so had no idea what to expect. There were 12 of us in total spread out on 3 tables in the same carriage. 

Once we were seated and the train was on it's way to the station at Carrog we were given a paper bag each. Now I say we, what I actually mean was everyone except me. They had run out so unfortunately at this point I had nothing. In the bags there was a chocolate lollipop for the kids and a carton of juice. The adults had a mince pie and a small 50ml of Baileys. The booking did say mulled wine but that was not offered.

Santa walking through the train carriage
Very soon an elf appeared in the carriage and got us all to sing a Christmas song as we did Father Christmas made his way to see us. 

I was so impressed that he stopped to talk to all the children and gave each and everyone a gift. 

When we arrived at Carrog, Father Christmas hopped off the train and on to his sleigh. We queued to get a photo with him.

There is a little gift shop and a chance to grab a hot cuppa and a snack if you wish before its back on the train to Llangollen.

When we got back on the train Father Christmas made another appearance. He sat next to little J and chatted about Christmas. This really does make the train so special because the children get to see Father Christmas at least three times.

Llangollen

Llangollen Railway
Both John and I really enjoyed the Santa Train and obviously so did the boys. It was nice to experience a tradition that big J had enjoyed for so long. 


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Michelle


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Thomas & Friends Personalised Christmas Book Review

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Disclosure - We were sent the product below for the purpose of this post. All thoughts, opinions and photographs are our unless stated. 

I have mentioned before that I love personalised gift. I always find that personalisation adds 'that little bit more' to a gift idea. When I was younger I had a Snow White book and I was in it. My name, date of birth, friends etc had all been added to create a story. I loved that book so much and I still have it somewhere. When we were offered the chance to review a Thomas & Friends personalised book from Egmont I knew straight away that little J would love it. He loves books and starring in one makes it so much more fun.

Thomas the tank engine book


Ordering was simple. We chose the book we wanted and added little J's name. We could also add a friend so decided to add big J. There is also an option to customise the character. We could change the hair, skin and eye colour to match little J. Finally you can change the colour of the coat. We chose blue.

Thomas the tank engine book

Although little J looks at books throughout the day at home and nursery, books are usually for bedtime. This book is a perfect bedtime story. It's just the right length to be enjoyed before little J starts losing interest. Usually once we have finished our bedtime story he will usually choose a book to look at before falling asleep. The illustrations in the book are bold, colourful and interesting so lovely to look at too.

Personalised books are always great fun and I find the child is always more engaged when they are the centre of the story. We will definitely be adding to our personalised book collection from Egmont very soon. I love the birthday book too.

If you would like to order the Thomas and Friends Christmas title use discount code pblogger20 for a 20% discount.

Michelle

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Pampers Want To Help Make Life #BetterForBaby

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Today, our friends at Pampers released a short film which showcases just how babies bring out the best in us all, highlighting that there’s nothing we wouldn’t do to make life #BetterForBaby - if you haven’t seen it, you can watch it here 


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Christmas At Liverpool ONE

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We are so lucky to have Liverpool ONE so close to where we live. For years we had to venture further afield for shopping trips and meals out. Since Liverpool ONE arrived we have everything we could ask for. Now you can drop the kids off at school and you can get everything you need and more before you have to pick them up again. Here's how we recently went Christmas Shopping at Liverpool ONE. 

Liverpool ONE Christmas Tree 2015
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5 Gift Ideas For All Food Lovers

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One of the best ideas when looking for inspiration for picking gifts is the recipients hobbies. Today I am going to take some time and share five great gift ideas for those people who love cooking, baking and food in general. As Christmas is the time to show that you love someone, this list of five gift ideas is a great place to start the joys of gift shopping.
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UNO Extreme Review

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You may already know that we love board and card games. This time of the year we usually buy a few new ones to keep us entertained through the cold winter nights. This week we have been playing UNO Extreme by Mattel. We already love UNO and have done since big J was little. His first ever UNO was Winnie the Pooh, I think we still have it somewhere.


The idea of UNO Extreme is basically an Extreme version of the popular game. The game features a card shooter which adds some more excitement to the original game and also is very unpredictable too.


Playing the game is very similar to the original although there are a few new cards. Three special Extreme hit command cards change game play from the original UNO game. 

Discard all allows players to play all cards that match the card’s colour

 Hit 2 forces the next player to hit the UNO Extreme Card Launcher button not once, but twice.

The Extreme Hit card lets the player hit any player they want by aiming the shooter at them and pressing the UNO Extreme Card Launcher button twice.



If you have to press the launcher you may get lucky and nothing happens or it could shoot out a stream of UNO Cards.

*****

What We Loved

The launcher does provide excitement and makes the game more fun. When you hit it and no cards shoot out you do feel quite proud of yourself even though it's random.

When another player hits the launcher and lots of cards shoot out.

The actual card game hasn't changed to much.

What Could Improve

The launcher needs 3 x C Batteries. These are not included and we didn't have any so we did have to make a special trip to buy some. Worth remembering if buying as a Christmas present.

*****

Currently the RRP is £24.99 which is reasonable and I think it would make a perfect present for an UNO fan. It is available from High Street Stores and also online at Amazon

I am always a little unsure of new versions of games I already love as sometimes they seem pointless, however this is fun, fast and exciting and we love it.





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PNP - Portable North Pole

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Technology has moved on so fast over the past 13 years. When big J was younger he would write his Christmas list for Father Christmas and he would send it off with hope that he would get a reply. Sometimes he did get a reply but other times Father Christmas may have been to busy. Now it seems Father Christmas can reach all the boys and girls via PNP - Portable North Pole and not only can he send the boys and girls a nice personalised video he can also ring them on the telephone too.


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Young Driver Lesson Review

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You may already know that last year big J drove a car for the very first time at the age of 12 years old. I had so many tweets and messages from readers who were so happy that I had posted about big J's Young Driver lesson as they had no idea that it existed. I had seen adverts in the Trafford Centre but I had no idea we had a training site so close to home until he had his first lesson. It's even better now that we have two really close by.

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Vertbaudet Boys Fleece-Lined Parka Review

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I love Winter because you get to wrap up all warm and snug in fleece jumpers and thick coats. Unfortunately my monkeys don't share the same enthusiasm as me for adding layers to keep warm. Both boys actually don't like coats at all, although I do make them wear them when its cold outside they both usually kick up a fuss. After hours of browsing online for a suitable coat for little J I finally chose a Vertbaudet Boys Fleece-Lined Parka.

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Toby Carvery - Waterside Review

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The highlight of my week so far has to be our visit to the Toby Carvery - Waterside. It was a very cold, wet and blustery Monday evening and I really didn't want to head home after the school pick up to cook our dinner. I needed a day off from cooking and a nice Toby Carvery was just what I needed to warm me up.


We have quite a few Toby Carvery restaurants close by although we do tend to drive a little further to the Waterside. Daddy and I used to go for meals there before it was a Toby and it's always been a nice restaurant, even better now.
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