Tag Archives: pre-school

Heroes of the City Review and Giveaway

My four year old knows a lot more about electronic games than I would like him too – he sees his big brother and sister playing Minecraft on the iPad, or Skylanders on the Wii, and naturally he wants to join in. It’s quite difficult to stop this happening, but it does make me laugh to think back to how we agonised over whether our eldest was too young for a Wii when Santa brought us one when he was seven and a half!

But I have been researching more age appropriate apps for him to play with on the iPad, stuff that I’m happy to let him sit and play without me, and equally that he doesn’t need help from one of the older ones to enjoy. So it was a stroke of good luck that I was asked to review the Heroes of the City app from Swedish company Ruta Ett – and as an extra bonus they also sent a book, a DVD and some Hero cars!

I was a bit worried that he would not be interested in anything that his big brother and sister hadn’t stamped as ‘cool’. but in actual fact he was thrilled to receive something ‘just for me, Mummy’. So thrilled that I might have secretly felt a little bit guilty about my non-negotiable hand-me-down policy, oops. I thought he’d go straight for the DVD but he was immediately drawn to the story book ‘The Hot Air Balloon’ – it’s bright, colourful and the pictures are engaging, even without an adult to read the story. To be really picky, it’s clear from the language patterns that the story has been translated – but I can’t see this bothering any children looking at it.

The book and the DVD share the same positive outlook on life – there’s a strong emphasis on friendship and the importance helping each other out of tight spots, and there’s a fun ‘where’s wally’  balloon spotting game throughout the book, which was a nice touch.

Being the smart cookie that he is, it wasn’t long before he spotted the Heroes of the City app on the iPad. ‘Mum! It’s my book! But it’s a GAME!’ Cue a lovely peaceful cup of tea for me while he explored the app, which is free to download but packed with nine games and nine ‘movies’ – mostly around 15 minutes each, so just right for an after lunch treat. The games are fun – there were some very simple ones (pairs, jigsaws, etc) that would be ideal for younger children, and some which required some more concentration –  and one – a railway track puzzle – that I quite enjoy myself, on the quiet! There are also in-app purchases available but thankfully they are located in a separate ‘shop’ area, and don’t pop up during games.

I really like the Heroes of the City app, but more importantly so does my four year old. It’s well worth downloading either from the App Store or Google Play – and if you like the look of the goodies below, you can enter a draw to have a similar bundle delivered to you! Just leave a comment and enter via the Rafflecopter widget, and you can unlock bonus entries by following LearnerMother on Twitter and/or Facebook. Good Luck!

Heroes of the City

**Disclosure – my four year old was provided with the Heroes of the City bundle seen above in exchange for reviewing the iPad app; as always, this post is an accurate reflection of my thoughts**

a Rafflecopter giveaway

On ParcPlay

Yay for Sunshine! So we packed a picnic and off to ParcPlay we went, along with a friend and her kids, who are the same age as my eldest two. The kids were mega excited as ParcPlay is one of their favourite places – they were up, dressed, and ready without so much as a grumble, which is always refreshing (and would be even more refreshing on school mornings, no?)

I’m not sure if we’re just extra lucky in Cardiff, but I’ve never come across a place like ParcPlay anywhere else. It looks unpromising from the outside, sitting on the riverbank behind the station and in amongst warehouses, garages and storage centres. But once you’re through the wooden gates, it’s a different story entirely – wooden climbing frames, slides, a zip wire, a table tennis area, a BIG sandplay area with a pirate ship and even a fenced off quarter for under 5s to go if they get a bit overwhelmed by the big stuff. Half of the area is covered, though not enclosed, so you can tick off the ‘fresh air’ bit even if it’s raining. Here’s a few pics taken from ParcPlay’s Facebook page:

ParcPlay, Cardiff

ParcPlay Cardiff


ParcPlay CardiffParcPlay Cardiff


Because it can be a bit chilly for us poor adults, there are fab ‘cabins’ with heaters in – but which you can see out of to keep an eye on the little darlings. There are also deckchairs – and there are some good sunspots on a summers day, if you are there early enough! For the other 355 days of the year there are also blankets for your knees, and rugs on the benches, which were being well used today! A couple more photos from Facebook here:

ParcPlay Cardiff

ParcPlay Cardiff

One of the best things about ParcPlay is that picnics are welcome, even encouraged – and even if it’s brass monkeys cold, picnicking is a feasible option because of the heated cabins. And another BIG plus – they do proper, decent, coffee. Not with bells and whistles – no mochafrappasemichinos here – but good, strong, and with half price refills. There are also a range of other drinks and snacks on offer for if you don’t want to bring your own – all reasonably priced. Admittedly there’s not a massive variety but equally, there’s a not massive kitchen taking up space that could be used for playing – seems a sensible trade off to me.

ParcPlay CardiffParcPlay Cardiff

We spent about 4 hours at Parcplay today – the bigger kids would probably have stayed a bit longer but the 3 yo was getting a bit past it – not surprising since apart from 20 mins hoovering up the picnic, he was on the run the whole time. Apart from a minor incident on the slide (for which an icepack immediately appeared – thank you!) it was a great day – not least because my friend and I actually managed to have a decent catch up while the kids were playing (we’ve both been in The Tunnel for far too long, so it was well overdue!) All in all, a lovely way to spend one of our last holiday days before school starts again 🙂

Entry prices:

Free for adults, £1.75 under 2 (or free with older sibling), £3.75 ages 2 and 3, £5 ages 4-12

ParcPlay is now open every day through till November -there’s more info on parties, group bookings, events etc on www.parcplay.com

Mums do travel


On coming out of the tunnel

I’m sure there are lots of people who won’t be able to relate to the Tunnel, and if you’re one of them, please feel free to be relieved and/or smug that it wasn’t like that for you. Just don’t tell me about it because – you know what – though I’m out the other side, I’m not that far out yet and I CAN STILL FLIP. Yes, over the internet, and right IN YOUR FACE. You have been warned.

It goes a bit like this. You meet the bloke, get pissed for a few years, have some good holidays, buy a house and do it up, get married…oh, this is a bit easy, you think. I’m a bit bored of finishing a cup of tea while it’s still hot, or having a poo on my own, or being able to remember my own name, or of having sex, or being able to put a pair of jeans on without having to fold over the spare flap of stomach and tuck it in. I know, it must be time to Have a Baby. Mwahahahaha go the Tunnel Gods – another one heading our way…..

And so, the Baby arrives. And it is all amazing and wonderful and tearful. Quite tearful actually. The husband did say, at one point, ‘the book says you should have stopped crying by now – it’s been seven days, for fuckssakes’. For which he had Penelope bloody Preach thrown at his head. He didn’t say it again. Actually he did. At about four years. And then he remembered why he hadn’t said it again. Muppet.

At this stage, you don’t realise you’re in the Tunnel – it’s clever like that, see, it sucks you in. You just think ‘oh, I’m tired. I’m a bit down. Must be the hormones. It’ll all be fine when things settle down’. I was lucky enough, first time round, to have a baby that was a good sleeper, but I was still exhausted, useless and – of course – constantly comparing myself to those parents whose kids don’t ever sleep (well, according to them, anyway) and who STILL manage baby yoga and organic everything and stimulating play and ooze Yummy Mumminess from every pore. Interspersed with all this uselessness are of course moments of pure joy, of amazement, of love. But somehow these moments just serve to sharpen the knife edge of anxiety of how unfair it is that this poor defenceless thing has been born to me and doesn’t he deserve someone better and nobody told me it would be like this and I. Can’t. Cope. Oh, is it dark already? How weird, actually it seems to have been dark for a while. Hmm. Maybe it’s something to do with global warming, nobody else is mentioning it so I won’t either….

Of course, the minute you start to get a handle on it all, you’re up the duff again. Wheeeee! Down some more!  Oh! And again! I mean, really, how does this HAPPEN? First time round it was all headstands and ovulation charts and doctors and drugs and every-other-day-or-the-sperm-gets-stale and no booze – for about a hundred years. Second and third time, well, I think he might have looked at me across a crowded junkyard of a playroom. Who knows. Wheeeeeeeeeeee! Down some more! And some more again for good measure! My, we really did break the climate didn’t we if it’s dark ALL THE TIME…how weird that nobody else is talking about it…best just smile and wave…

And so it continues. Guilt and exhaustion and purees and sick and guilt and tantrums and tears and crappy plastic toys that sever your toe if you step on them, and more guilt because the toys are crappy and plastic in the first place, and MORE guilt because your severed toe led to you stamping on the bastard toy, and shouting like a banshee and constant ringing in your ears and panic attacks and guilt and becoming obsessed with sleep and waking up and calculating how many hours before you can slip back into sleep and oblivion, and guilt, always the guilt. And it becomes the new normal, so you forget that life was ever any different. And of course there is happiness too, and laughter, and fun, and love – it’s not all terrible by any means. Just a bit, well, dark still. But we’re kind of used to that now.

At some point though, and so slowly that you don’t even realise it’s happening, things start to feel ever so slightly different. One day you wake up and decide not to wear a hoody and maternity jeans, as you have every day for the past six years. Of course, you’ll probably have to, because you have long since sold all your nice clothes on eBay to pay for more crappy plastic toys, but still, the thought crossed your mind. And one day, the lady in the Co-op DOESN’T tell you that you look tired! Then you start noticing its a bit lighter all around. Phew, maybe we haven’t broken the climate after all. But hang on – global warming shouldn’t affect the light levels, should it? And then the thought is gone, as quickly as it came, But it doesn’t matter, because it was A RATIONAL THOUGHT!  Next thing – you start noticing how haggard and exhausted and generally unfit you are. This sounds like it’s a bad thing. Nope, it’s not. It’s a sign that the light levels are increasing, that you’re finally coming to the end of the Tunnel. And then one day your kids say to you “You used to be so shouty and grumpy all the time. Now you’re fun, sometimes.” At which point it might be wise to remind them that the shouty ogre is NEVER FAR AWAY so when I say go to bed, I mean go to bed NOWWWWWWW before I completely lose the fricking plot…Oh, er, or you could take them in your arms and promise never to be grumpy again. Your call.

It’s not until you are completely out of the tunnel that you realise you were ever in it. So this is a message of hope for those of you still stuck underground somewhere – there is light! Life will return! The darkness isn’t climate change! Of course, the downside of coming out is that you’ll realise that  you’ve been living in something approaching squalor, and your beautifully done up house needs doing up again, due to things like THIS  that seem to have appeared on every wall. In permanent frigging marker. But hey, you’re out of the Tunnel – welcome to the world!