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On the Oxotots screwdriver

I have about a million ‘could do betters’ in my mental Scorecard of Motherhood. But today, I have one less! I have banished the battery blues AT LONG LAST!

I don’t know if anyone else is like me, but I never seem to be on top of keeping batteries in everything that should have batteries. Either I don’t have the batteries in, or I can’t find them, or – more commonly – because I am in the middle of doing something else whenever one or the other child comes to me bearing a sad, battery-less toy. Like trying to get them all out of the door for school/nursery, or cooking for the ungrateful wretches. And even if all the optimum conditions for battery changing are met, I usually fall at the final hurdle – the precision tools required. When I was a kid, you only needed a very sharp nail, or sometimes a 1p piece, to get into battery compartments. Now for some reason – probably to do with Health, Safety and Avoiding Lawsuits, you need a screwdriver. And not a normal screwdriver either – some of the screws on these toys are the size of about half an atom. That’s probably to do with Health, Safety and Avoiding Lawsuits too – seriously, even an ant couldn’t choke on those little suckers.

So I was very excited to receive THIS through the post yesterday from the good folk from Oxotots…it looks like a pen and is about the same size, but it’s actually a miniscrewdriver with four different screwheads – neat, huh?


Admittedly I am a crap photographer but I think you get the idea – the screwdriverybits are so small as to be almost invisible to my aged squinting eyes, but PERFECT for things like Hexbugs, below.


I also discovered that the screwdriverybits (it’s a WORD, ok!) are magnetic which saved an awful lot of scrabbling around for lost screws, and probably a fair bit of swearing too – plus gave me the bonus opportunity to explain (badly) to no 1 son the properties of magnets. DOUBLE MOTHERING POINTS  for me then for including a secret educational session – I’m loving this screwdriver more by the minute…

Of course, it didn’t stop there. The call went out and suddenly a collection of toys appeared, all of which now have sparkly new batteries in them – and double bonus – my glasses aren’t held together with sellotape any more either, because this little beauty works for them too! Of course, the down side is that the Husband is threatening to leave home because of all the electronic yodelling, singing, squawking noises that are now unleashed every time someone even looks at a toy. Oh well, can’t win ’em all!

IMG_1279Some of the happy creatures!

AVAILABILITY – The 4-in-1 mini screwdriver (around £7),  along with a bunch of other cool OxoTots baby/toddler stuff, can be found  in John Lewis, Lakeland, House of Fraser, JojoMamanBebe and various other outlets – find your closest here.

DISCLOSURE – The Oxotot 4-in-1 Mini Screwdriver was given to me free of charge.

On Techniquest and the best £56 you’ll spend this year

Techniquest in Cardiff

If you’ve not been before, Techniquest is a science and technology museum for kids in Cardiff Bay. But there is not one single exhibit to look at. Instead, there are about a hundred exhibits, that the kids can play with, get wet with, and climb all over – and maybe even learn something, who knows! There’s a wet play area, where they can build dams and sail ships, and where they can, by firing water jets into the appropriate holes, measure the difference in the amount of water needed for a bath vs a shower, or leaving the tap running while doing your teeth instead of just turning it on when you need it. There is the best marble maze in the world bar none, a man size Spirograph type exhibit and a hot air balloon. There is a colony of leaf eating ants and magnifying cameras so you can track them on screen, a mirage where it looks like your legs disappear, and a piano in the floor that you play by jumping on. Oh – and a planetarium!

The kids could easily spend the whole day in Techniquest – but (bad mother alert) there’s no way on Earth I’d want to. When you walk in, it’s like you hit a wall of sound. There are kids running in all directions and adults running after them. There’s usually an argument as the husband and I have widely differing opinions on how much our kids need to be watched. I like to know where they are at all times; he assumes they are fine unless the tannoy calls him. Actually – that last bit is not true – he assumes they are ok until the eldest one comes to find him to tell him that the tannoy has been calling his name for 5 minutes because the middle one is in some sort of scrape. And who knows what the youngest was doing in the meantime. But let’s not go over old ground, we’ll save that for when I’m really tamping for a fight, hey?

And breathe. Where was I?  Oh yes – I couldn’t spend a day in Techniquest. Two hours is pretty much my maximum, perhaps three if I’ve had a full night’s sleep the night before.  After that I start to lose the plot a bit.

So it might sound weird that we spend £56 a year on a family pass. But dropping in for a couple of hours, whenever the kids want to, is actually a brilliant way to experience Techniquest. We don’t need to feel that we have to spend a whole day there to justify the entrance fee (a day pass for a family of 5 would be £23). We (mostly) avoid sulking when it’s time to leave, because the kids know they can come back any time. There’s always different exhibits on rotation, as well as different shows and events, so we get to do or see something different each visit. And I have to say it’s been brilliant these last couple of cold, rainy, skint months, knowing there is always somewhere we can go for a couple of hours so the kids don’t get cabin fever. The family pass also gives 10% off in the shop, free Planetarium shows, and a couple of other bits and bobs, so all in all, it’s excellent value for money. And it helps me not lose the plot – what’s not to like!


If you don’t know Techniquest – here’s my top tips:

1 If you live in Cardiff, the annual pass is definitely worth considering – but if you’re not sure, you can pay for a day’s entry, and then if you want to buy a pass, you’ll have your entry money refunded.

2 You can use Tesco Reward points to get in (but not to pay for an annual pass)

3 It’s sometimes closed on Mondays – but not every Monday – so call ahead on 029 2047 5475

4 Take dry clothes – though the waterplay isn’t the immersion type, there’s every chance their top halves will end up soaked.

5 Toddler Days take place once a month –  adults pay £4.60 and under 5s go free – check the website for the next one.

6 TQ After Hours – I haven’t checked this out yet but it’s evening opening, with none of the little critters running around, AND A BAR! I think this could persuade me to revise my 2 hour limit – I’ll let you know when I’ve been to one! Follow @TQafterhours for details of the next event.

Techniquest - Cardiff