Thursday, 30 October 2014

Madhouse Diaries : Best geocache ever !

The weather hasn't been great this week so we decided to make the most of a sunny afternoon to get out into the fresh air. We started off with a trip to the swings.

Then - yes, you guessed it ! - popped over to a nearby wood to see if we could grab a few geocaches before the sun went down.

We found a couple of regular caches then stumbled across this one which is a work of sheer genius ! In the cache is a doorbell.

You push the button then listen carefully and the chimes lead you to the actual cache, hidden below the other part of the doorbell that has been stuck to a tree !

This had us in stitches because we had Pierre at one location, pushing the button, while the rest of us went crashing through the surrounding trees trying to locate the source of the sound !

Sophie got there first !

We found this cute travel bug inside. CITO stands for Cache In Trash Out which is a call for geocachers to tidy up the countryside as you go. We do tend to do this, even uncovering a stolen handbag hidden in the undergrowth at a park on one occasion !

Pierre investigated the insects with his magnifying glass again !

Then we collected some autumn leaves for a crafts session at home.

Pierre played with a pile of logs.

And Juliette uncovered a geocache that wasn't even supposed to be there !

I would think the woodcutters uncovered it by accident so we checked the proper coordinates and put it back in the right place.

The kids wanted to carry on but it was getting late so I thought we'd better head for home. We'll definitely be back to find some more from this series though.

Just time for some last minute puddle jumping before the bus arrived !

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Madhouse Diaries : Uncovering Hidden Corners of Dunkirk

Giveaway #433 : Win 2 x Super Mario Bros Original Motion Picture DVD - closing date 13/11

I've just posted my review of Super Mario Bros Original Motion Picture - it's been a long time coming but it'll be in the shops on Blu-Ray and DVD next week !

When Mario and Luigi are called in to help out with a flood at a dinosaur excavation site, they discover a parallel world populated by intelligent reptiles, the descendants of dinosaurs which weren't actually destroyed by a meteor millions of years ago as everyone believes - they were hurled into a new dimension and now have plans to merge both dimensions and take over the world ! From science fiction, we move more into the realms of fairy tales - the crazy plumbers must battle the evil King Koopa and his Goomba guards, free the beautiful Daisy and save mankind, no less !

I have two copies of the DVD to give away to lucky Madhouse Family Reviews readers. Fill in your details in the Rafflecopter widget below.

UK only. Closing date : 13/11/14

T & C's : Entries close at midnight on the closing date. Winners will be selected with a random number generator and announced on facebook, twitter and in the giveaway post subject line. Please note, you will be contacted by email and/or twitter and if I haven't heard from you after a week, I'll have to pick another winner. Prizes will be sent out by the companies or their PR directly to winners. Madhouse Family Reviews cannot be held responsible for any prizes that go astray !

Other giveaways you may be interested in :

Giveaway #431 : Win 1 of 2 Adventurer : The Curse of The Midas Box DVDs - closing date 6/11

DVD review : Super Mario Bros Original Motion Picture

Everyone’s favourite plumbers Mario and Luigi’s live action big screen adventure Super Mario Bros gets its long-awaited first ever UK Blu-ray release next week, hitting the shelves on Blu-Ray and DVD on 3rd November. (It really is long-awaited - the film was made in 1993 !) We received a preview disc and settled down with a bowl of popcorn to see what we'd think.

It took a while for the Madhouse Mini-testers to get used to the idea of real people playing characters that they'd only ever seen in video games or cartoons before, but they were soon won over by the madcap antics of the all-star cast, including the legendary Bob Hoskins as Mario, alongside John Leguizamo (playing Luigi) and Dennis Hopper. It's strange to think that the late-great Bob and Dennis are no longer with us.

The plot is a bit crazy but this is Mario Bros after all ! When Mario and Luigi are called in to help out with a flood at a dinosaur excavation site, they discover a parallel world populated by intelligent reptiles, the descendants of dinosaurs which weren't actually destroyed by a meteor millions of years ago as everyone believes - they were hurled into a new dimension and now have plans to merge both dimensions and take over the world ! From science fiction, we move more into the realms of fairy tales - the crazy plumbers must battle the evil King Koopa and his Goomba guards, free the beautiful Daisy and save mankind, no less !

It's all a bit silly but it's a fun movie for the whole family to watch together. They've gone all out on the bonus content, offering an hour-long documentary featuring interviews with cast and crew, alongside the usual Making Of and Behind-The-Scenes content.

If you're a fan from a couple of decades ago or if you think your kids would like to discover it, don't go away - I have a giveaway coming right up where you can win a copy !

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £19.99 on Blu-Ray, £15.99 on DVD

  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Second Sight
  • DVD Release Date: 3 Nov 2014
  • Run Time: 104 minutes

Disclosure ; We received a preview disc in order to write an honest review.

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

DVD review : Adventurer : The Curse of the Midas Box

Have a (Carved) Heart This Halloween !

You may remember, this summer I took part in the Grow Hope with World Vision campaign, sharing some pictures of what hope means to us in order to raise awareness of freedom from famine in Ethiopia. You can see that blogpost here. For Halloween, World Vision asked us to help turn a night of fear into a night of hope for the child refugees of Syria, carving a heart into a pumpkin to show vulnerable children in the war-torn region that we will not abandon them.

Sophie stepped up to the mark and did a great job carving out the heart.

It looks even better with the lights out.

Sophie being Sophie, she also carved a One Direction design on the other side !

If you'd like to get involved, head over to the Night of Hope page for all the details, carve your pumpkin then share the link to your blogpost or picture on WorldVisionUK's Facebook page or twitter feed on or before 31st October. To really make a difference, text Heart8 to 70060 to donate £5 (if you can!) and ask your readers and followers to Carve, Share and Text too. You will be helping raise money for schools and educational equipment, to help give the children hope for the future. All the pumpkin pictures will be shown to the children of Syria later in the year in a special event for them.

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Help BEAR help the bears !

#arctichome 2014 with Coca-Cola and WWF

One World Futbol review

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Almost enough to make me feel broody ! (review)

Before I go any further, can I just highlight the word ALMOST in that title ! Yesterday was my 42nd birthday and my baby days are way behind me ! I pointed out to Sophie the other day that the next nappy I change will probably be for her son or daughter (but she's only 13 so it won't be for a while yet !). A friend has just announced her pregnancy though, so I'll be passing on these lovely baby products to her that we received for review.

First of all, the Comfortchew from Cheeky Chompers, an attachable teething comforter with textures and patterns to stimulate babies and soothe tender gums. It has been designed to bring together baby’s favourite essentials in one – a comforter, a teether, tags, and the feel of their favourite teddy. Perfect for teething stages and beyond, the soft chewy textured Hippo-teether gives a great ‘bite’, using an innovative, dimpled design to massage and sooth tender gums and encourage new teeth to break through.

It's really soft and cuddly (it's made from super-soft jersey cotton and luxurious cuddle fleece) so baby will love snuggling up to it, but it is also designd with parents in mind -  it can be attached to baby’s wrist, cot, car seat, buggy or dummy so that it won't keep falling on the floor or getting lost. The hippo design is lovely, giving it the perfect balance of fun and functional.

RRP: £17.95, for more information :

Next up was this twin pack of Tommee Tippee Disposable Steri-Bottles. For parents who like to get out and about, washing and sterilising bottles can just be an added hassle. Perfect for holidays, days out and trips to see family and friends, the Tommee Tippee Steri-bottle is ready to use with no washing or sterilising required. For an easy feed, just unwrap, fill, feed and throw away. So every feed can be fresh, safe and easy for you and your baby. Total feeding convenience – all in one.

This is not something you'd want to use all the time but for special occasions, it's a really convenient solution. I could see this being really handy if dad or a babysitter is being left at home and isn't too sure on how to go about sterilising. It could also be useful for breastfeeding mums who want to express the odd bottle of milk here and there, maybe for a night out, but who don't need to invest in sterilising equipment. If you're thinking that they're not very eco-friendly, the good news is that they're 100% recyclable.

RRP : £2.49 for a twin pack, for more information :

Disclosure : I received the products in order to write an honest review.

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Ella's Kitchen - Filling and Fuelling Little Mouths ! #StandUpForGoodSnacks

Globe-cooking recipe : Beetroot Salad with King Prawns (Thailand)

I have to admit, when I saw this recipe in my Thai-themed Kitchen Trotter box, I initially turned up my nose. It just didn't sound like it would work. Once I bit the bullet and tried it, it was actually really nice and something that I'd happily eat again, probably as a main meal salad rather than a starter next time.

It's a healthy mix of raw vegetables and prawns - perfect for a light option.

This required a bottle of Peanut & Coconut Thai Sauce from the Kitchen Trotter box but you could substitute this for the vinaigrette or dipping sauce of your choice.

Beetroot Salad with King Prawns

ingredients (for 4) :

marinade :

100ml water
100g sugar
1/4tsp salt
4tbsp white wine vinegar

1 beetroot
1 carrot
1/4 cucumber
1/4 red onion
salad leaves
12 king prawns (cooked and peeled)
2 hardboiled eggs
Peanut & Coconut Thai Sauce (or similar)

Peel and grate or finely chop the beetroot. (This is where my Jamie Oliver Chopping Tower is worth its weight in gold !) In a separate bowl, peel and grate or finely chop the onion, cucumber and carrot.

In yet another bowl, prepare the marinade by mixing the water, sugar and vinegar. Stir to dissolve then pour half into each bowl of vegetables. Put in the fridge for an hour.

During this time, boil the eggs and peel/cook the prawns if it's not already done. Wash and dry the salad.

Just before you're ready to serve, drain the marinating vegetables in a colander or sieve. Put some lettuce leaves on each plate. Top with 2 tablespoons of beetroot then carrot. Chop the eggs into quarters and arrange around the salad, along with the prawns.

Drizzle peanut & coconut sauce across the top and serve.

*** Don't miss my country-by-country globecooking recipe index ! ***

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Globe-cooking recipe : Jasmine-infused coconut & cherry custard (Thailand)

Wright's Cheese & Onion Bread Mix review

I love my bread machine but I always tend to make the same bread so, when I saw this Wright's mix for Cheese & Onion Bread at the supermarket, I thought I'd give it a try. You can use it in a machine or by hand.

If using it in a machine, you just add water and put it on a basic 3-hour programme then wait for the machine to work its magic.

I was really pleased with the outcome. It has a definite savoury cheese and onion flavour that goes really well with soup or sandwiches. It has a lovely crunchy crust and beautifully soft crumb. Not sure why it ended up with a big air pocket in it though - any master bread bakers know why?

A 500g pack is enough for one loaf this size. It retails for 60p at Tesco's but there's a 3-for-2 offer on at the moment if you fancy giving it a try.

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Ella's Kitchen - Filling and Fuelling Little Mouths ! #StandUpForGoodSnacks

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Madhouse Diaries : Uncovering Hidden Corners of Dunkirk

Pierre's face says it all - luckily, the Madhouse kids are still as enthusiastic as ever at getting out and about looking for geocaches so we've been out for several adventures this week, as it's the school holidays. 

On Saturday we headed out to a new park with Madhouse Daddy in tow. We do most of our geocaching while he's at work but he seems to have the knack.

I had the GPS in my hand but managed to walk straight past a couple that he spotted immediately. Not fair !

Sophie seems to have an inbuilt geocache-radar too, much to her delight, because she finds most of them before me !

This one was for me though - right in the middle of a gaggle of geese and ducks, Sophie's pet hate since a goose pecked her bum and chased her when she was little !

They came running at us full pelt so I managed to locate the geocache while Sophie was fending them off. Mwahaha !

This is actually quite a nice little park that I'm sure we'll come back to. Once again, we'd never have found it if it wasn't for geocaching.

We couldn't help but laugh as we walked past this sports hall just outside, perfect for geocachers - "Claude It's Where ?"!

The next day, we started again, just me and Sophie this time. Our next series of geocaches took us around some of the lesser known monuments and landmarks of Dunkirk. The Malo Bastion plaque commemorates the second world war.

But while I admired the plaque (so that we didn't look suspicious to the passers-by going to the beach!), Sophie was locating the mini cache in one of the holes around the back !

There are dozens of war memorials in and around Dunkirk.

Some of the statues are really impressive and quite poignant.

But the statue wasn't the only thing that we discovered - another cache to add to our tally !

I love geocaching with Sophie because she's always game for climbing up street signs to get to the high ones !

We discovered an old fashioned railway station (not sure it's still in use) and a plaque on the wall explained that this featured in the war film Weekend At Dunkirk (actually called Weekend à Zuydcoote in French).

This was a sneaky little one actually hidden right in the wall, just next to the informative plaque that I was studying, much to Sophie's amusement !

As it's almost the 1st November, there were fields and fields full of potted chrysanthemums being prepared for sale. On 1st November, Toussaint, all French people go to put flowers on the graves of their relatives in the cemeteries so the farmers are getting ready. The fields looked really vibrant, especially against the grey skies. Time to head for home before the rain !

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Madhouse Diaries : Exploring in Gravelines

Madhouse diaries : Visiting Gdansk (Danzig) in Poland