Living Arrows #10 - Happy Halloween

It's going up for 11pm as I type this and I've only just sat down. We've had a very busy Halloween, it's been amazing! After school, we got the kids dressed for a Halloween party we booked a few weeks ago (not in these costumes, as a cat and a zombie pirate) and drove over to it. They both had such a great time, dancing to the spooky songs, eating hot dogs, playing in the soft play areas and making new friends. It was 7pm when it finished and Noah then asked if he could go trick or treating! How could we say no? I took him to around 10 different houses, all with decorations outside or pumpkins in the windows and he ended up with a bag full of sweets an chocolates! I think we've made some fantastic family memories tonight, we all loved every moment of Halloween 2018!

Living Arrows

Video Party Invitations By Mini-Epic

It’s Noah’s 5th birthday in two weeks time, and I can’t quite get my head around it. It doesn’t feel that long ago since he was born, just a tiny baby in my arms, and now he’s almost 5? We’ve already booked his birthday party at a local trampoline park, which cost me a small fortune, but there’s still a lot that needs to be done! I've left a few things till the last minute, the party invites in particular, and this is where have come to the rescue.

Long gone are the days of needing to write out 30 odd different invites by hand, Mini-Epic have brought party invitations to the digital age! Their website allows you to create and send the ultimate kids party invitation in a way that I’ve never seen before. Their invites are a short animated video featuring a photo of your choice and all the relevant party information.

Creating a Mini-Epic invitation is as simple as uploading a photo and entering your party details. It's such an easy, fast and straightforward process that I imagine everyone could do. You can also preview the finished video in less than 60 seconds. Each invitation has been animated by professionals and looks so cool, they really add to the excitement of the party. Noah has rewatched his video over and over again, and keeps showing everyone in the family!

What I also love about these digital invites is that they are discreet. This year Noah had full control over who he wanted to invite to his party and some children didn't make the list. I didn't want to send him into school with paper invitations because I didn't want the uninvited children feeling upset or left out. Mini-Epic lets you send out your invitation privately (via social media, email, or WhatsApp) without others having to know about it. Parents then can RSVP or decline through it, a great way to keep track of who's attending.

I'm really impressed with our digital invite from Mini-Epic and will be creating another for Ava's birthday in March. This service costs just £9.99 and is a quick, fun and stress-free way to send our children's party invitations.

- This is a PR collaboration. 

Zuru Smashers Series 2 - Review

There's no doubt about it. Noah is obsessed with collectibles. We currently have countless collections on the go, from fluffy animals and cute babies through to miniature superheroes and gross critters! I've honestly lost count of them all, he adores them so much! With this in mind, you can imagine how happy he was to receive a couple of products from the new Smashers series and even more so when he realised that 
Smashers series 2 has a theme, a gross one!

The first product we received was the Smashers Series 2 eight-pack, which has an RRP of £7.99. Included in the pack are, yes you guessed it, eight eyeball Smashballs. Inside the Smashballs are eight, all new gross Smasher critters, all waiting to be smashed free! I think Noah took about 60 seconds to lob each Smashball against the wall, the jigsaw-like pieces sure made a mess!

There are over 100 characters to collect in series 2 which makes collecting Smashers even more exciting! With so many to choose from it's such a surprise to find who's lurking inside and you've got such a low chance of finding a dupe. The creatures include a selection from 
‘Odd Bodies’, ‘Icky Insects’, ‘Ooze Dudes’, ‘Awful Animals’, ‘Filthy Food’, ‘Toilet Humour’, and ‘Smash Trash’, with rare, ultra-rare, and see-through characters. Noah was really happy with the ones he received, especially the poop shaped ones, of course!

The second product we received was the Smashers series 2 Sludge Bus, which currently retails at £19.99. First of all, this can be played within the form that it comes packaged, as a bus. You can place Smashers on the bus and drive it around, which provides hours of fun as it is!

However, the fun doesn’t end there! When you unfold the bus you discover a huge surprise, it turns into a slimy bathroom with different areas and items to explore. It can also store over 50 Smashers, which makes it the perfect place for those gross critters to live.

The yucky bathroom lair is Noah to a tee, he loves anything gross! He's spent so much time putting the gunge (included) in and out of the toilet, and laughs so much when he shoots the Smashers into the toilet using the plunger! Also included are two exclusive Smashers and a plastic poop! What more could a kid want?

Smashers Series 2 are suitable for ages 5+ and are available now in most stores and online. For more information on the range visit ZURU at, like ZURU on Facebook @ZURUToysCompany or Follow on Twitter @ZURUToys.

- We were sent these products for the purpose of this review, however, all opinions are my own.

How To Avoid Fretting Over Flight Delays

You’ve been to the travel agents or found the best deal online and booked your holiday, the suitcases are packed, the children have asked for the thousandth time “are we there yet” and you are on the way to the airport.  But despite your best intentions things can, and often do, go wrong. Whether it is a lost coat, forgetting the passports or a child with travel sickness, any minor issue can affect your holiday experience. But what happens when you get to the airport, family, luggage, and excitement in tow and find that your flight has been delayed, or even worse, cancelled?  As well as affecting the mood of holidaymakers a delayed or cancelled flight can also affect the airport staff, making the entire situation a stressful and highly charged affair. But there are ways to reduce the stress.

Find out the reason
Passengers can often feel in the dark about why their flight is delayed and the confusion can lead to frustration, exasperation and even anger with the situation, airline and the airport staff.  By finding out the reason for the delay you are putting yourself back in control, reducing any anxiety instantly. But who do you speak to?  Find the airline’s flight desk or the airport manager. Many airports will have a designated member of staff to deal with all enquiries. As well as being able to tell you the reason for the delay they will also be able to impart information such as what is happening, any future actions and suggestions of where you can go while they solve the problem.
It is also important to remember that flight delays and cancellations cost airlines a significant amount of money – around $8 billion per year – so any delays are for the safety of the passenger.  This could be due to a fault with the airplane, airline faults, air traffic issues, security concerns, poor weather or a knock-on effect from other flight delays.
Know your rights
Passengers who have had a flight delay or cancellation are sometimes entitled to compensation, so make sure you know your rights.  You may be able to claim compensation If the problem was within the airline’s control – such as technical problems with the airplane, lack of crew or pilot or even if the flight has been cancelled due to low booking numbers.  If so you need to make a note of how long the flight was delayed for as this matters in how much money you may be entitled to. If your delay was under 3 hours you will not be entitled to any compensation however if you are delayed over 3 hours you can make a claim.  There are also many different types of compensation and this differs between airlines, but is usually a complementary hotel (if the delay is overnight), financial or even a rescheduled connecting flight for free. However if your connecting flight is with a different airline it may be difficult to reschedule and they will not provide compensation for the lost flight.  Therefore it may be worth considering booking all flights on your trip with the same airline.
Check your insurance
Never travel without insurance as many travel insurance policies may cover flight delays meaning you can claim for compensation.  Some policies also cover travel costs and expenses which can reduce the stress if you find yourself having to spend more when your flight has been delayed, so it is worth checking your policy to see if this is part of your package.  Many travellers choose the cheaper package for their travel insurance but a few extra pounds to include cancellations and delays can make any incidents less stressful.
Travelling to remote locations
Rearranging a delayed flight is difficult at the best of times but if you are travelling to a location that is off the beaten track it can be even more frustrating.  If you have had to book local ferries, seaplanes or even several taxis you could miss some – or all – of your bookings, making travel more convenient and even more expensive.  It is a good idea to book all travel with the same company, especially flights, as this will make it easier for the airline to reschedule. Make sure that you purchase a travel insurance policy that covers more remote locations. These can be bought online or through the company you have booked your holiday with.  Many travellers prefer to book their entire trip through a travel agent who can not only book your flights, accommodation and travel insurance for you, but also excursions and all connecting transport. This way if a flight is delayed one call to the travel agent can resolve everything – although please check with your agent when you book as there may be extra fees.
Compensation can be claimed by contacting the airline customer service team and you will need all of your flight information. Be sure to keep all correspondence with the airline in case you encounter difficulties further down the line. To get additional support, you can contact the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) who will be able to help you with your claim. You can also consult a legal expert, who can advise you on exactly what you should be claiming for.
Making a claim
If your flight delay is within the EU and over two hours the airline is required to offer passengers food and drink, access to emails or a telephone plus overnight accommodation where required, and these can be obtained by speaking to the airline.  The rules change when your flight is delayed for more than three hours and is a problem within the airline’s control. Any reimbursement can differ depending on the length of the flight as well as the airline. If the delay is out of the airline’s control – airport strikes, bad weather – you may not be able to claim.  The rules change again where flights have been delayed more than five hours. You should be offered alternative flights, however if you decide to not take the flight you will be entitled to a full refund for the cancelled or delayed flight as well as any connecting flights. But if you choose to continue with your journey you are entitled to a rescheduled flight plus compensation.

- This is a PR collaboration.
photo credit: Guillaume DELEBARRE Between Vegas and Frisco via photopin

Tonka Power Movers Vehicles - Review

Noah has never been very fond on small cars or trains, but if a vehicle is large, makes sounds and flashes lights then it's a whole new ball game! With this in mind, when the opportunity came to review one of the new Tonka Power Movers I accepted. I thought they sounded great and would be a toy that both Noah and Ava would enjoy together.

There are four different vehicles to collect in the new Tonka Power Movers range. There's a cement mixer, dump truck, front loader, and bulldozer. We received the dump truck for the purpose of the review which I was delighted by as it would have been the one Noah would pick given the chance. All four vehicles feature the new motion drive technology which makes play more realistic and exciting.

Noah insisted on taking the dump truck outside to play with and test out as soon as I'd opened the box. It was then when we experienced the motion drive technology for the first time, it's so clever.

First, you push a little button on the side, that starts the process and makes a rather loud engine noise. You then push the dump truck forward and the noise changes to driving sounds and the lights begin to flash. If you pull the truck back it starts to make a beeping reversing sound. Not only that, but there's also a little lever on the vehicle, which when lifted will dump whatever is inside.

Noah and Ava have been having so much fun with the dump truck. It's carried so much already, from small toys and crayons through to discarded crisps and even my shoes! They've not stopped playing with it, much to my dismay - it's very loud!

All the elements and features included with this toy are not only fun and engaging, but they really bring play to life, sparking imagination, while they learn through play too. The Tonka Power Dump Truck is suitable for children from 3 years of age, retails at £19.99 and is available to buy now at Amazon.

- We were sent this product for the purpose of this review, however, all opinions are my own.

My Sunday Photo - 43/52


Our Visit To Affinity Lancashire

Shopping and children, they don't usually mix well. Not in my case anyway! It can be stressful and result in very unsuccessful shopping trips. But what I've noticed lately is that shopping centers have started to offer more for the kids to do, in between shopping with their parents, which I think is a fantastic idea. Affinity Lancashire is one of those and this half term they've offered lots of Halloween crafts and activities for children to enjoy. Yesterday we were invited to enjoy the shopping experience with Affinity Lancashire and to take part in the Halloween fun.

Affinity Lancashire is located in Fleetwood, around a scenic marina. Although very beautiful, it's outdoors, and near the water, so it can be a little chilly. I’d recommend an extra layer when visiting at this time of year, and don’t forget your gloves too. It boasts over 45 popular stores, many outlets, all of which offer up to 60% off every single day. This makes Affinity Lancashire the ideal place to visit if you want to find the best savings.

Kids International Designer Store was our first stop because we decided to start at the far end of the center and work our way around. We were blown away with the choice of designer brands to choose from, all reasonably priced with 30% off and an extra discount when buying 4 or more items. The Carrement Beau display was absolutely stunning, with all the peach, beige, silvers and navy garments. I could have easily bought the entire collection for Ava.

After visiting a couple of stores we decided to let the kids enjoy a couple of the £1 rides which are dotted around the complex. Ava made a beeline for the Noddy ride and quite frankly, didn't want to get off it. What is with kids and these rides? We then spent some time on the outdoor playground, right in the middle of the center, which is a fantastic idea for a shopping center. 

We then visited the owls which you can hold for just £2. They had quite a few different owl breeds to view, and even had a hawk too! Noah really wanted to hold the barn owl, but I think he's still a little young for that responsibility! Instead, he stroked one gently, and we popped some money into the donation box.

We don't have a GAP store near us and it's one of my favourite brands, especially for kidswear, so when I spotted the GAP Outlet, I had to visit right away! On entering the store I was greeted by a lovely member of staff who told me about the offer they had in store, a whopping 50% off EVERYTHING! Even sale items! This blew me away and I started shopping right away. I bought half a dozen things; a pair of jeans and a t-shirt for Nick, a hoodie, shirt and t-shirt for Noah, and a hoodie and long sleeve t-shirt for Ava and it cost just £68.00! In hindsight, I wish I had bought more!

We also visited The Fragrance Shop and the Hallmark Outlet to pick up some gifts for upcoming birthdays and Christmas. Both stores offered amazing deals and I'm really pleased with the perfume and Yankee Candle sets that I purchased. We then walked by Katie's, a quaint little tea shop which was celebrating it's grand opening that day. We were tempted in by the delicious looking cupcakes but it was very busy, so we'll have to pay a visit next time.

After we'd have our fill of shopping, it was the time for the part the kids were the most excited about, the creepy arts and crafts! This was located indoors, across from Katie's and gave us the perfect opportunity to warm up, whilst the kids had a bit of fun. The spooky crafts workshop offered lots of different activities for the kids of all ages to enjoy. They could make their own slime, create their own trick or treat bags, or enjoy a bit of spooky 
colouring. You can also collect a treasure map here to take part in the Trick or Treat Treasure hunt.

The kids then decided to have their faces painted, which again is free! With Ava being so young we opted for a simple cat nose and whiskers, to match her Halloween costume and Noah asked to be a green zombie! Just as the lady had finished painting Noah's face we noticed someone looking down at us through the window, it was Jack Skellington! It was great seeing these spooky characters walking around the shops on their stilts. They seemed to make everyone smile and really added to the Halloween feel of the place.

It was our first visit to Affinity Lancashire. Would we go back? Absolutely! It has everything anyone needs for a great shopping experience; top stores with fantastic savings, located in a beautiful setting, with a relaxed yet fun atmosphere. For information on Affinity Lancashire's opening times, directions, store lists or for further details on the Halloween activities, simply head to their website.

- We were given a voucher to spend at Affinity Lancashire, to help write this post, however, all opinions are my own.