Ravensburger Star Wars Collection Jigsaw – The Empire Strikes Back

May the 4th be with you, as they say. We finished our Ravensburger Star Wars collection jigsaw on May 4th as well. It’s a toughie and is a Ravensburger Adult puzzle; read on to find out more.

Ravensburger Star Wars Collection Jigsaw box

Our Ravensburger Star Wars Collection Jigsaw is from The Empire Strikes Back; where Han Solo is frozen, where we meet Lando Calrissian for the first time. So if you’re expecting a jigsaw which features Luke Skywalker or Princess Leia then this isn’t the one for you.

If, however, you’re looking for an Empire Strikes Back jigsaw which nods to the upcoming Solo movie, then maybe this Ravensburger Star Wars Collection Jigsaw will be the one for you.

Ravensburger Star Wars Collection Jigsaw starting out

It has 1000 pieces, and is a Ravensburger Adult puzzle. Normally we’d do jigsaws together, but this one is pretty tough. There’s a lot of blue. Quite often you won’t be able to work out where the blue goes. There is so much blue it starts to feel like you’ll never finish it!

All in all it probably took us a couple of weeks to finish this Ravensburger Star Wars Collection Jigsaw. I’d like to think that we’re pretty good with jigsaws in general, and with work every day plus activities after school, an average or easy jigsaw takes a few days.

Ravensburger Star Wars Collection Jigsaw - nearly finished

I think this would make a great present for an older Star Wars fan – younger fans would end up frustrated (I’m going for H’s age – 8-9 year olds here). There’s nothing wrong with that – it’s good to have jigsaws for older people too – and H enjoyed helping from time to time.

Ravensburger Star Wars Collection Jigsaw finished

We were sent the Ravensburger Star Wars Collection Jigsaw for the purpose of review. We give it a big thumbs up, it kept us busy in the evenings. You can buy it over here (affiliate link) – though looking around I’ve now seen this one – oh my! (the price, the pieces!)

Almost Eight and Three Quarters

Here we are, H is almost eight and three quarters, we’re heading into the home straight before she turns 9. This age is a great one – I’m finding I have a lovely sociable daughter who isn’t fazed in any way around adults and will happily join in the conversation. Sometimes she even has an opinion.

H at SSE Crystal Palace Wildcats

She’s not the most confident child, but she’s speaking out more and more. She’s had a rough time with friendships at school since September. I put a lot of that down to 8-9 year old dramas, hormones and life. Simple, right?

I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be H’s age, but do remember this was around the time we left York and moved away. Which strangely enough we’re looking at doing with several possibilities at the moment.

I love that we go shopping together, and she’ll try on clothes because she knows her style. We’ve had several shopping trips of late as she keeps growing – her new favourite shop is New Look. I quite like this as I get 10% off with my NUS card.

H is growing her hair again for the Little Princess Trust, alongside a fellow Brownie (and neighbour). We’re planning a big talent night to raise some money, Brownies & Guides Got Talent which should happen at the end of the year. I’m hoping the two girls can spur each other on – it’s such a wonderful positive thing to do.

My little swimmer is having her term of swimming lessons at school. She is in the Advanced group which is helping enhance her regular lessons. She’s working towards her Gold Award badge and is coming on really well.

Starting the zipwire at PGL Marchants Hill

I’m watching her grow. At Brownies I can see her taking on more responsibilities and helping others. At PGL I saw her grow from a girl too scared to do things to one who got on with it and did it and had the time of her life. Who went on a school residential for two nights and had a brilliant time.

SSE Women’s FA Cup Final 2018 – Arsenal v Chelsea

The Women’s FA Cup Final 2018 was a repeat of 2016, two teams we’ve seen a few times but always different. When I go to Wembley to watch the women’s game I feel safe. It’s somewhere I will go for a happy atmosphere. It is still so different to the men’s game – however, things are changing.

The Women’s FA Cup Final 2018 was Arsenal v Chelsea. That’s okay, the women’s team of both have players we like – and in H’s case, Fran Kirby. I could have sworn we’d never seen her play, but looking back to 2016, in fact we did.

Wembley Stadium from outside, in the sun, Women's FA Cup Final 2018

All we wanted to see was some great football, to enjoy the atmosphere and to get home at a reasonable time.

This time we were in Block 221, right on the back row so a decent view of the game, though to be fair you get that from most areas at Wembley. It was only later on I realised why the game was a bit earlier than usual – because it would be fitting in with Tottenham’s games at Wembley for this season. I hope they keep it at this time for future years.

Women's FA Cup Final 2018 panorama, Women's FA Cup Final 2018

We go as neutrals every year, sitting alongside supporters of both teams. Unfortunately I had a chap next to me who made it his job to boo every time Chelsea did something which got a bit tiring, especially as he was the only person doing it. We don’t need that negativity! We support football! I just clapped louder to drown him out, helped by Wembley providing everyone with pieces of foldable card. H had about five of them and it definitely drowned him out…

Mid-way through the Women’s FA Cup Final 2018 and we had no goals, and I was starting to calculate the time we’d end up getting home if it continued that way.

Fortunately Chelsea got three, Arsenal got one and the game was decided by 90 minutes. Also – Fran Kirby scored so H was delighted as it was a GREAT goal!

H with Fara Williams and Mary Earp, Women's FA Cup Final 2018
This year there was an FA Fanzone outside Wembley. We saw the new Subbuteo set which is based on our two Women’s FA Cup Final 2018 finalists. You can’t actually buy it though, only win it in giveaways. Hmm.

Fara and Mary autographs, Women's FA Cup Final 2018

We were in that area just as they announced that Fara Williams and Mary Earps, England players, would be there for autographs. H was happy as she loves being in goal and made sure she got her Wildcats buddy their autographs too. Overall there were less freebies (a good thing, we don’t need more SSE spongey things) but more things to do. The weather was perfect as well.

Wembley falafel veggie hot dog

We had food inside Wembley. Three hot dogs cost £18. Did I mention that our three tickets for the Women’s FA Cup Final 2018 cost us £15 total? We’ve been SSE customers for our gas and electricity for over 8 years, finally making use of SSE Reward. Our tickets were half price.

The FA For All

Will we be back again next year? Of course – this year had a record-breaking 45,000 supporters attending – way up on last year’s total. We wouldn’t miss it for the world.

Pointless Mini Game from University Games

We’re big Pointless fans in this house – and often play along if it’s on tv. When we were given the chance to review University Games’ Pointless Mini Game, of course we went for it.

Pointless Mini Game

The Pointless Mini Game works too. I wasn’t sure how the format of Pointless would work in a game, but it does. There are loads and loads of questions too – so less chance of you remembering the answers.

Pointless mini game scoresheet example

The game includes your main questions, cleverly in a holder which covers up the answers at the bottom of the card – you can’t turn over the card as there are more questions there. You get a pad to write your answers down on and that’s it.

Pointless Mini Game category Music

So, for example, question 1 has anagrams – you have five options. Christmas number ones, with the year. It says the game is suitable for age 12 and up, but H (age 8) got one of these straight away. Mind, I’d recommend anyone H’s age is part of a team.

Other options include initials of people or things, and titles of things with every other letter missing.

The good thing is that the quizmaster can be anyone too and you’re still part of the game.

Pointless Mini game category cities

The five answers are at the bottom of the card. Once you have written down your guess, the quizmaster reveals the answers. The Pointless score is there, and whoever has the lowest score, wins. Repeat for six rounds and that’s it.

The Pointless Mini Game works too. We played a few games yesterday, it was one of those days where you stay inside as it was getting chilly. This was by far our favourite – there was enough variety it was difficult for us all and just like Pointless, some of the most pointless answers were a big surprise.

The Pointless Mini Game is available via Amazon for just £6.99 – and I think it’s a bargain! Here’s the page on University Games.

We’re Going to Wembley Again

Not long now and we’ll be heading back to Wembley for the Women’s FA Cup Final 2018. This will be our fourth year going; I’m filled with delight that this year it’s on a different day to Eurovision. At last!

H at Wembley, football,

Tickets are on sale right now for the Cup Final, as SSE customers we bought ours via SSE Rewards – it has cost us £15 total at a 50% discount. I also entered H into a competition to be a mascot but I suspect we’ll have no luck on that front.

Things are looking interesting on the football front too; our Crystal Palace Wildcats are back after a short Easter break. It looks like SSE and the FA have put even more money into the Wildcats clubs and making even more available to join. One has even opened in Carshalton, although we’re sticking with our Caterham gang!

H at SSE Crystal Palace Wildcats

It is almost a year since H joined Wildcats. She’s still enjoying going every week, and at £3 a time it isn’t expensive. It’s also a lot more enjoyable for us parents now the weather is warmer. Standing out in the cold has been quite hard at times in the past! She has made loads of new friends. I love that she isn’t with school friends so has different circles of friends now.

Oh, and this isn’t just about H – we’ve made some friends too which is great!

We love going to Wembley. We’re sad we haven’t got to see Tottenham play there, though we’re looking forward to visiting the new White Hart Lane.

I love that more opportunities are opening up for girls, here’s our local flyer. It is worth having a go. The more groups of Wildcats girls there are, the more girls will end up playing against each other and having even more fun. Football has done wonders for H, and I’m so happy there are more groups opening up.

Crystal Palace Wildcats sessions 2018

Here’s hoping this year’s SSE Women’s FA Cup Final is a record-breaking crowd!

Wembley Stadium SSE giant sponge hands, football, Women's FA Cup Final 2015

PGL – New Experiences and an Amazing Time

You’re eight. You’re standing at the foot of a tree, a very big tree. It might be as tall as a house, maybe even taller. At the top is a ledge, a small ledge with an instructor waiting for you. All you have to do is climb to the top using the ladder and the large staples. Once you get to the top you zipwire down. Can you do it?
Climbing the tree to the zipwire at PGL Marchants Hill

That’s H’s PGL experience – or one of them – summed up.

PGL Adventure holidays are a whole new experience for us. We went to Marchants Hill for our Brownie camp, taking just ten girls. You let PGL know what sort of activities you want to do and they tailor them accordingly. We asked for confidence and team building, and on the second day we found ourselves on a foggy Sunday morning standing by the zipwire.

Starting the zipwire at PGL Marchants Hill

We were moved from the two slightly easier accessible by stairs ones – which left us unsure whether our girls would complete it. In the end only half managed – but the ones that did had the time of their life. Some girls surprised me because I didn’t think they’d do it, but they had the determination. H was one of them.

H on the zipwire at PGL Marchants Hill

It was high – any zipwire expert knows you need to start high to get a good run. H said she got half way and felt terrified. She didn’t want to continue. But then she also thought about it rationally, she didn’t want to come down either as that looked pretty difficult. So she kept on going, looked down to me when she got to the top (for reassurance) and then dealt with the final hurdle, getting off the platform. The instructor had H shouting over to the other zipwire instructor (something like “Craig is a muppet”), and once the giggles took over she was ready, and that was that.

learning how to use the zipwire at PGL Marchants Hill

That to me is what the PGL experience is about. It’s what you make it. If you want to do something then only you can be the one who does it. Being part of a team and having a go is so important. If it’s an individual task then having a go can improve your confidence.

As a leader I could have joined in but chose not to, and to make it about the girls. I tried not to help as much as possible and let them work it out. Also – my back.

quad biking at PGL Marchants Hill

Other things we did include quad biking, raft building, buggy building and problem solving. Lots of different activities which involved water, knots, working together and laughter – very important.

Quad biking fun at PGL Marchants Hill

Oh, and PGL has a songbook – you will learn many songs. They will probably involve Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or various fizzy soft drinks. Or toilet water. Or cow poo. They will make your child feel included.

The quad bikes are limited to 10mph. Once we got there the course was pretty small as well, just the right size. This was H’s favourite activity by a mile.

raft building at PGL Marchants Hill

 

With a hearty breakfast, lunch and evening meal included we always felt well-fed and ready to face the day. You need to eat well and feed yourself more than usual as you’ll use a lot of energy walking around the PGL site. Each activity has a different instructor, and as they finish you’re returned to your main instructor who gets you to where you need to be on time.

The evening’s entertainment was organised for the girls, the first night we had a quiz night and the second a disco – this was the only time we were indoors too (apart from food breaks). This was a good excuse for us Brownie leaders to head to the bar on site and have a 30 minute break. The second night there was a free wine and cheese night – of course we went! The girls are looked after by their PGL leader and we’re always nearby thanks to it being a really well laid out area.

We visited PGL Marchants Hill for three days (two nights), at a cost of approximately £115 each. There are Girlguiding deals available. Generally for every six girls a leader goes free, and they offer additional discounts so it’s always worth asking.

When we asked each girl what they enjoyed the most about PGL everyone had something different – from learning knots and building something, to the zipwire. H’s favourite was the quad bikes!

Clandon Park is Open Again after the Fire

It was the 29th April 2015 and news started to come in – Clandon Park near Guildford was on fire. Beautiful Clandon Park – a Grade I listed mansion. But there’s good news – Clandon is being rebuilt.

Clandon House 2013

Clandon Park is a mansion near West Clandon, near Guildford. On the 29th April 2015 a fire gutted the mansion, all bar one room. The fire started in the basement and spread to the upper floors.

Fortunately several things were saved and retrieved before the fire took hold. However, a lot was lost – including the inside of the house. Clandon Park is just a shell.

Clandon Park fireplaces that survived after the fire

As National Trust members, we’ve combined Clandon Park and nearby Hatchlands Park in a single visit. When H was a baby Clandon was the better of the two for little legs. It has now reopened, and things are changing.

From January 2019 work will begin on restoring Clandon. The ground floor will be as close as possible to how it was, with the upper floors having an exhibition area which will continually change. On the top floor there’s talk of a dining area with spectacular views across the Surrey Hills.

Hi vis and hard hats to see inside Clandon Park

We were given hard hats and hi-vis vests and had a look inside the house.

There is a walkway through a section of the house, and it’s fascinating. Obviously it goes without saying it would be better the fire never happened, though because it did, the people who volunteer at Clandon have learned so much about how the house was built.

Clandon Park after the fire Royal Bedroom and doorway

For example, in the Royal Chamber; a room which was always ready for any passing Kings or Queens to stay, should they need to; it was discovered the walls had several layers. Initially wood was nailed into the walls which were then covered in hessian. Wallpaper was placed over that, leaving what everyone saw up to 2015. But now you can see the layers underneath.

Clandon Park after the fire - 1930s fireproof solution and looking up to the roof
How about some 1930s fireproofing? There is a tiny section which hangs across the upper floor. Sadly ironic, it’s the only part which still stands up there.

Incredibly, the marble fireplaces remain intact. The staff at Clandon Park found that pillars thought to be marble were in fact painted to look that way – and were just plaster. On the first floor statues (again, marble) are intact. You can see smaller fireplaces which survived as well.

What H thought would be a boring hour or two ended up being a really fascinating hour or two. Seeing the structure of the house, how thick the walls are and seeing where wood and stone staircases once were is really interesting.

If you visit Hatchlands Park, I’d recommend a trip to Clandon Park as well. It’s just up the road, the grounds are open too. I wish it wasn’t interesting and that we were visiting as normal (the cafe in the basement was always one of our favourite National Trust ones), but love that H came away asking different questions about the build of the house.

Clandon Park Dutch Garden and Newt

In the gardens we spotted loads of newts in the pond in the Dutch Garden – with the glorious sunshine it was a lovely day to get out and enjoy being outdoors. Looking across the bulb meadow to the house there was a hint of sadness, though knowing things will change in the coming years means this view will happen again.

To visit Clandon Park, please check their opening times. You can turn up to visit the house, you don’t need to pre-book. Spending money at Clandon Park also helps vital funds needed for this rebuilding project.

Clandon Park after the fire. Before and after

Country Kids
 

Hever Castle Tudor Towers Adventure Playground

Since we took out Historic Houses Association membership last year, we’ve made several visits to Hever Castle. It’s about 40 minutes from us and there’s always plenty to do.

Hever Castle
We visited on the Bank Holiday weekend, and were delighted to see the Hever Castle Tudor Towers adventure playground is now open – in fact, it opened last October.

Hever Castle Tudor Towers adventure playground is situated in the main playground area within the grounds.

It covers a large area. Or as H said “this is bigger than our house!” – something that isn’t too difficult, mind. There are three floors to it, with so many things on offer. Have you been to Leeds Castle? We visited there for the first time, there’s a similar one there. The only thing is, Hever Castle’s is far superior according to H.

Hever Castle Tudor Towers Adventure Playground outside

The Hever Castle Tudor Towers adventure playground has tunnels too – H’s favourite is the one which goes from the back of the house to a well outside. It took me longer to walk around from one entrance to the outside part than it did for her to crawl from one to the other.

There are fireman’s poles, plenty of slides, and the best thing? It’s suitable for 7-14 year olds. At the moment there are younger kids having a go, though this will change when they have their own one built this year.

Hever Castle Tudor Towers Adventure Playground

Three towers are at the top of the castle, Astor, Waldegrave and of course, Boleyn, named after Anne their most famous resident. Each has their own adventure to discover within. The second floor has some sections with speakers which randomly pipe out music which is suited to the Tudor era.

At the very top of the castle is a tunnel you can crawl along – high up so not for the faint hearted.

Hever Castle Tudor Towers Adventure Playground upper tunnels

It’s tip top great fun though – and somewhere H is already asking to go back to.

There’s enough room on a rainy day and enough inside that keeps it sheltered. Hever Castle are sensible enough to make sure there’s a coffee machine outside selling reasonably priced tasty coffees for us parents. There are plenty of benches too.

Even better, you can get to most areas yourself should you need to. Shaun might have even tried one of the slides….

Hever Castle Tudor Towers Adventure Playground is open now. Allow plenty of time there too. Final entry is 45 minutes before the grounds close. The final exit being 15 minutes before they close.

Country Kids
 

Armpit Fudge – Prepping Another Brownies Activity

A Girlguiding (and probably Scouts too) staple has to be armpit fudge. It isn’t difficult to make, doesn’t take long and is doable with regular ingredients that you will probably have at home. Definitely worth a try, so we did.

Armpit fudge describes what it is pretty well. It’s a simple one, and is something that I’m considering for Brownies next term.. I may regret that.

For each person you need :

2oz Icing Sugar
1 tablespoon Butter (we used Vitalite)
2 teaspoons Cream Cheese (we used Philadelphia)
Vanilla Essence (or whatever you have, we had errr Buttery Caramel)
2 teaspoons Cocoa.

Ikea bag for armpit fudge

Get a ziplock bag. We had some Ikea ones so used the smallest size we had of those. Add each ingredient carefully into the bag. It gets messy… especially with the Icing Sugar and Butter.

Once everything has been added to the bag, squash all the air out and seal the bag. Give the bag a good squash. H told me she was “really tired” so she imagined it was like a fidget spinner but you could eat it… seemed to work.

armpit fudge in an armpit

Once it is suitably squashed and mixed, stick it under your arm and give it even more of a squash. That’ll help too, the warmth of your underarm (ew!) makes it all mix together well. Check if it is creamy. If so, then you’re ready to add things like Smarties or Parma Violets or Skittles or the whole lot (we might have….).

squishing armpit fudge

Give the bag another good squish under your arm to make sure all the extras get covered. Yum.

armpit fudge ready to eat in Ikea bag

Then open and dip in with a spoon. Spoons are so much nicer to deal with than fingers… someone I know may have got armpit fudge over her glasses too…. wonder who…?

Armpit Fudge - eating it

The mixture works, the armpit fudge is sugary sweet without being too over the top. I now have to work out how this will work for over 30 7-10 year olds…

Word Has It – Fun from University Games

Word Has It is a fun game that’s suitable for all the family. It is easy to pick up, and a bit like Dobble, one that you’re fairly evenly matched.

Word Has It is good fun – it is easy to follow and has been one of those games we’ve really enjoyed playing, and that H immediately plays with her friends.

Word Has It in action

It has simple rules. There’s a wheel in the middle of the board, spin it to see which letter you need. Then choose a card. Press the button in the middle and you have 40 seconds to select individual word tiles and make a word beginning with the letter, based on the theme on the card.

Word Has It starter button

Now, you would think being an adult vs a child may be an unfair match, however, once the music gets going it’s a distraction. Imagine playing Countdown at home where it all seems lots easier vs playing it in the studio where I’m sure the music would make me even more nervous. Word Has It is like that. You need to focus on what you’re spelling as well as finding the letters. Then you have to build your word and the music tempo keeps building to add to your nerves.

It’s great fun. Even if H takes to putting up silly words from time to time!  The main thing is that if you keep things simple it’s a really fun game. It has been good for seeing how H thinks as well. Options on the cards include ‘made from metal’ or ‘found in a garage’. As an adult I’d think differently to my daughter which has resulted in some clever answers.

Word Has It letters and categories

Word Has It is for up to four players, and is recommended from age 7 upwards. I love that H has played it with her schoolfriends after school;  they’ve sat playing for at least half an hour too. Highly recommended!

For more information head here.