Category Archives: Giveaway

Driven by Dane Cobain – book review and giveaway

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an ebook I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

I have received a free e-copy of the book Driven by Dane Cobain to review. You may find out more about the author on his website.

Driven by Dane Cobain

Here is the book blurb.

Meet private detective James Leipfold, computer whizzkid Maile O’Hara and good-natured cop Jack Cholmondeley in the first book of the Leipfold series. A car strikes in the middle of the night and a young actress lies dead in the road. The police force thinks it’s an accident, but Maile and Leipfold aren’t so sure. Putting their differences aside, and brought together by a shared love of crosswords and busting bad guys, Maile and Leipfold investigate. But not all is as it seems, as they soon find out to their peril…

The story starts by introducing us to Donna Thompson but by the end of chapter 1, she is dead, killed in a hit and run. Then chapter 2 feels slow with random snapshots as we meet private investigator James Leipfold, play director Tom Townsend and computer whizz Maile O’Hara. Chapter 3 was equally slow, this time meeting Detective Inspector Jack Cholmondeley, Sergeant Gary Mogford, Constable Groves and informing Donna’s next of kin, her mother Eleanor, who hasn’t seen Donna in years.

Then with the highlight of chapter 4 initially seeming to be skint Leipfold advertising for an intern and reading the newspaper, which mentions the hit and run, I was about ready to give up on this book. It was just way too slow, however I persevered. Leipfold decides to visit the scene where he bumps into Cholmondely who he knows from way back. From his investigative methods, I started to get the feeling that Leipfold may be the one who can find the mystery driver rather than the police, as he quickly finds a house nearby with CCTV. And by the end of the chapter, we have linked in another of the main characters, Maile is waiting outside Leipfold’s office. She wants to be his intern.

As things start to hot up, I’m glad I kept going with this book, but I would suggest to the author that he needs to hook the reader in sooner. The CCTV appears to indicate that the car has no driver. How can this be? Is the driver hiding out of view? Is the vehicle being controlled remotely? Could it be pre-meditated murder rather than an accidental hit and run?

So in true whodunnit style, potential suspects start to stack up for the crime. And so do alibis.

I loved the way Leipfold shares little clues to the police, then relying on them to do the necessary graft.

Driven is available on Amazon in paperback, audiobook and kindle formats. A modern detective mystery to get you thinking whodunnit. It is the first book in a series, so I’m looking forward to reading more and hoping that now we have been introduced to the sleuths, that the next title will unfold faster.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a paperback copy of Driven to one lucky winner.
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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

I’d love to hear about your favourite read.

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Grow Your Own Micro-Greens on the Window-Sill plus giveaway

Disclosure.  This post is a review of a product I was sent for free. All opinions are my own.

I do love the idea of subscription boxes, particularly the element of surprise as to what will be in the next box. There is such a wide selection of themes that there is sure to be something for everyone. Recently I came across a new one – Silly Greens – the grow-your-own micro sized greens club and knew instantly that I just had to try this eco-friendly idea. So I was delighted to be selected to review one of their boxes for free. Plus when you page down, you’ll find details of a giveaway.

Silly Greens micro-greens subscription box

I’ve been dabbling with growing my own vegetables in the garden for a few years now, but had never thought of micro greens, even though they are so tasty. But I can remember one of my first introductions to growing plants as a young child was cress ‘heads’ in empty egg shells on the window sill. Sounds like time to return to my roots if you’ll pardon the pun.

Micro greens are ideal, as anyone can grow them indoors on their window sill all year round, even if you have no outdoor space. So the Silly Greens box fits easily through your letterbox and they have already got you started by sowing the seeds before sending it to you. Bet you’re wondering how that works, via the mail service, and possibly arriving upside down on your door mat. Well the seeds are not sown in soil, but on an Agar mat, which is an organic plant based jelly made from seaweed, which on the whole stickily keeps the seeds in place. No herbicides or pesticides involved and peat-free too. It doesn’t specifically say, but I believe this comes under the umbrella of hydroponic growing methods. Although I have to say the density of mine did vary somewhat across the trays, so I do wonder if they had moved a bit in transit. Since they had already germinated and sprouted, I wasn’t sure whether I should attempt to spread them out a bit, so I decided best to not touch. However the bunching didn’t seem to matter, apart from maybe the aesthetics of my photos.

Silly Greens micro-greens subscription box

The box has a label to warn that it contains perishable products, plus indicates which is the correct way up, so all I had to do on arrival was tear off the lid. There was a very useful booklet inside – The Green Touch, full of useful tips and facts along with a bit more information on the card about the varities included. So I discovered that it was recommended to keep the card covering them until their height pushes it off, that they don’t need the light initially. I also had to be careful with not much watering, as I do find with all gardening that I’m prone to either over or under watering. However Agar is a bonus in that regard, as it keeps the seeds hydrated without needing to be sprayed and the cover helps to maintain the humidity. I just passed that tip onto my Dad as he has been left in charge of making sure some carrot seeds that my niece planted on a sheet of damp kitchen roll don’t dry out whilst they are away on holiday.

Silly Greens micro-greens subscription box

Silly Greens have a wide range of micro greens listed on their website, but my box contained the following three crops – radish, rocket and turnip. Initially I knew which was which, due to the labelling on the card but I have to admit I got into a muddle, when I carried the individual trays to the sink for watering. I’m sure they didn’t realise how spot on their name choice would be in this regard, but apologies if I seem silly and green, talking about the  wrong crop now. The box was marked with the date of sowing, so you can easily keep track of progress. I decided it was time to start harvesting on day 10 as I think the ‘radish’ was starting to get a bit leggy. I cut all the ‘radish’ but only some of the other two, allowing them to continue to grow for longer.

Silly Greens micro-greens subscription box

Now hopefully you will appreciate some inspiration of how to serve these nutritious healthy sprouting seeds. Apart from a quick taste-test, my first harvest went in a salad I was making to take for my lunch at work. I don’t follow a particular recipe when making salad, but I usually do some prep in advance, for instance roasting some veggies in the oven, whilst cooking dinner. So this particular salad contained the following other ingredients along with the micro-greens.
Roasted sweet potato, parsnip and onion
Very slightly steamed broccoli (only because I prefer it that way to raw)
Shredded iceberg lettuce and red cabbage
Carrot, cucucmber and tomato
Several genererous spoonfuls of natural yoghurt

Silly Greens micro-greens as salad garnish

I harvested some more of the ‘rocket’ and ‘turnip’ micro-greens on day 14, this time to garnish a soup I was making. Who would like to guess the flavour from the image? I’ll tell you at the bottom of this blog post. The booklet indicates that most micro-greens are at their best at 3-4 inches tall. At this point, mine are probably still between 2-3 inches in height.

Nettle soup

Once the crop is over, the Agar jelly and roots can go in either home compost or food waste. All other packaging is recyclable at home, plus the plastic trays can be washed and repurposed. However I decided to try and see if any seeds were still yet to germinate by popping them outside in a planter.

Composting Silly Greens

So each box of 3 greens currently costs £5 including postage and you can set up a subscription on a 1, 2, 4 or 6 weekly basis, depending how frequently you want your greens. It is very flexible too as you may pause or reschedule your delivery. That is such a bargain in my opinion and of course so fresh, as farmed micro-greens typically have such a short shelf life in comparison. Excellent value for money, sustainable and environmentally friendly too. Ideal as a gift too.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition, courtesy of Silly Greens to give away a 6 month subscription of micro green boxes to one lucky winner. For clarity, this will be on a monthly basis, so the prize is 6 boxes in total.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

Now let me tell you the flavour of my soup. It is nettle and the microgreens certainly gave a delicious tasty boost to both my salad and soup. Tell me in the comments if you guessed the soup flavour correctly. Here is the link to my recipe.

I’d love to hear what are your favourite micro greens?

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AD Coconut scrubbers plus giveaway

Disclosure.  This post is a review of a product I was sent for free. It is classified as an AD due to containing affiliate links. If you click on any NeerSol link in this post and purchase a product, I may earn affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions are my own.

Regular followers of my blog may remember that I introduced you to NeerSol last year who had come up with the fantastic idea of eco cleaning tablets that the consumer then dissolves in water, thus reducing the carbon footprint of shipping the solvent. And when you page down, you’ll find details for a giveaway.

But first let me update you on news from NeerSol. They had great support for their crowdfunder and now have some additional lines to their range. And they have sent one of these to me free to test out, which is a pack of two coconut scrub pads.

Plus they currently have a 50% off sale on all stock until 17 March using coupon code FLEX50.

NeerSol coconut scrub pads

These are made from 100% natural compostable coconut fibre (also known as coir fiber to some of you reading in other parts of the world), so no microplastics that could be released into the environment. Great to see another good use being made of the outside of a food product, avoiding waste, like when I previously blogged about cocoa husk tea. Brilliant zerowaste idea.

Now I first wanted to try these eco-friendly scouring pads with a NeerSol cleaning product, but of course I only got the glass cleaning tablets previously. And with the best will in the world, you don’t really want to scrub your windows or mirrors. You need a soft cloth for that job, in order to avoid smears. So thinking outside the box, I decided that instead of using washing-up liquid for cleaning my ceramic bakeware, I would use the glass cleaner, as I still had spare tablets left.

Putting NeerSol coconut scrubbers to the test

Look at the state of these bakeware dishes after I cooked a savoury bread and butter pudding and braised red cabbage. Plenty of baked on, burnt and greasy bits. These would definitely put the coconut scrubber through its paces. However I found it worked even just scrubbing gently. A perfect plastic-free result.

Putting NeerSol coconut scrub pads to the test

Putting NeerSol coconut scrub pads to the test

The packaging indicates that these are suitable for your utensils, bath and kitchen surfaces. Plus another good idea it suggests, is as a foot scrub. I haven’t tested it out on foot or body as I only have the 2 pads so far, one I’ve used for the kitchen and the other in the bathroom. But I can certainly give them the thumbs up on dishes, pans, work-tops, bath and tiles. I haven’t had them long enough to say, but these should last for months and then you can compost them.

I was also pleased to see minimal packaging. Just a small recyclable card wrapper keeping the 2 scrub pads together, so sustainable, biodegradable and plastic-free entirely.

These coconut scrub pads are sold in packs of either 2 or 4 at a great value budget-friendly price of £2 for 2 or £3 for 4 scrubbers. Definitely a great choice to purchase in my opinion for effectiveness, value for money and environmentally friendly.

Neersol Solo Cleaning Kit in action

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition, courtesy of Neersol to giveaway an All-purpose Solo Kit that contains one spray bottle, and 4 refill tablets which will last for 4-6 months to one lucky winner. The spray bottle will last for life!

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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

I’ll try and get round to posting the recipe for the savoury bread and butter pudding on the blog but if it helps, I adapted it from my apple version. And you may take a look at my braised red cabbage recipe, although since I already had the oven on for the bread and butter pudding, I also braised the cabbage in the oven rather than cooking it on the hob. I try to be more energy efficient in that regard.

I’d love to hear what eco-friendly swaps you have made.

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Veo, the sustainable marketplace

Disclosure.  This post is a review of products I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Sustainability is the number one word for me when it comes to shopping these days, but in general it does tend to take a lot more time and effort researching what to buy where, so I was very pleased to hear about Veo World. They have taken out the hard work by liaising with reputable ethical independent brands to bring quality products to the online sustainable Veo Marketplace. I was even more delighted to be selected as a brand ambassador for Veo and to have the opportunity to tell you all about them.

Broadly speaking, the Veo Marketplace encompasses fashion, beauty, food and homeware. They have put together curated selections of these categories of products, in order to showcase some of the brands they collaborate with. I have received their curated selection of food and drink products free to review and promote.

Veo World selection

The contents of my box were as follows:-

75g Cocoa Husk Tea from The Cocoa Concept
Adrift 20cl botanical non-alcoholic spirit from Pentire Drinks
Three 30g packets of Gnawbles snacks from Creative Nature
32g Rich Chocolate Protein Powder from Bodyhero
35g Minty Mylk Chocolate bar from Mr Popple’s Chocolate

All carefully packed in a cardboard box with paper shreddings and then in a home compostable mailing bag.

Cocoa Husk tea

Cocoa Husk tea is a very clever sustainable innovative idea to make tea using the outer shell of the cocoa bean, a by-product when harvesting the cocoa beans, which would otherwise go to waste. We found this tea very refreshing and loved its chocolatey flavour and smell. What a win-win of an idea in developing this product. And after use, the cocoa husk can be added to your compost or garden soil. This is the shortest dated product with a best before date of 30/9/21, which is plenty of time.

Cocoa Husk tea

The tea packet itself is labelled as oxo-degradable, with a rubbish disposal image alongside. I had to look up this terminology and effectively it is a greenwashing term, as although it should degrade within a couple of years, it will only degrade into micro plastics which will then be around for 100s of years, so I assume that will be why it shows the rubbish disposal image. Perhaps Veo will be able to give the brand a nudge as regards their packaging. Such a great sustainable product deserves not to have their credentials dulled by greenwashing. It would be better to just say dispose in rubbish, although hopefully the brand is investigating other packaging alternatives, which can still keep the tea fresh.

Adrift non-alcoholic spirit

Adrift is a distilled coastal botanical non-alcoholic drink from Cornwall. Now I don’t really know much about spirits, either alcoholic or non-alcoholic, so I was hoping that either the bottle or the marketplace would give me some guidance on how to serve, but unfortunately not. I guess they are assuming that their customers would all know what to do, so I went with my instinct and measured out 20ml of Adrift, added some ice and topped my glass up with lemonade. But maybe that was the wrong choice of mixer, as certainly lemon was the dominant flavour although I could detect hints of something else pleasant. I subsequently read that lemon juice was one of the ingredients.

Gnawbles snacks

The Gnawbles were a big hit with all the family although we had different choices as to which of them was our favourite flavour out of Super Salted Caramel, Cheeky Choc HazelNot or Creamy Mylk Chocolate. These have a light crunchy cereal middle covered in chocolate. They are vegan, gluten free, no palm oil and nut free, yes even the HazelNot. According to the marketplace, there is also a fourth flavour called Brilliant Orange Cacao which sounds like it should be just as yummy. Surprisingly the packaging type varies across flavours with Creamy Mylk in 1 PET, whilst the other two are in 5 (polypropylene). Some of the supermarkets are now starting to take these soft plastics for recycling.

Bodyhero chocolate shake

Now I don’t possess a shaker so I did the best I could at mixing the chocolate Bodyhero powder, and I must have made a reasonable attempt, as son1 who had requested this particular drink whilst the adults focussed on the tea and spirits, gave it the thumbs up. And he did let us all have a taste too. This product is vegan with the main ingredient being pea protein. The packet indicates it is also suitable for blending into smoothies or adding to good fats for a keto diet. This is another soft plastic packet, this time 4 LDPE. And I see that there is a Bodyhero shaker for sale on the marketplace for which they plant one tree per order. Another plus point.

Mr Popple's chocolate

The Minty Mylk bar of Mr Popple’s Chocolate also got a very positive taste reaction from all of us. Its credentials are equally impressive with the packet indicating that it is organic, vegan, raw, no refined sugars, no palm oil, gluten free, soya free, ethically traded and sustainably grown, along with home compostable packaging. Plenty of other flavours in the range but you will have to be quick for this one as it is a limited edition.

These are just a small sample of the selection of products available from the Veo marketplace. I certainly recommend Veo for the breadth of ecofriendly brands they have partnered with. Do have a browse around to see the full range. I’m off to check out their sustainable underwear next.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition, courtesy of Veo to giveaway a similar selection of products to one lucky winner!

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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

I’d love to hear your favourite product on the Veo marketplace or your suggestions of other sustainable additions you would like to see there. My two favourites from those I received are the Mr Popple’s chocolate and the Cocoa Husk tea.

UPDATE 3/8/21
I now have an offer to pass on to my readers – £10 off your first order at Veo using the code: YABM10. This is valid for the first 10 people to use only.

How Green Reco Laundry Detergent Sheets?

Disclosure.  This post is a review of  a product I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Early last year I was introduced to Reco toothtabs, which I’ve been purchasing on subscription since reviewing them as they are the best plastic-free toothpaste that I’ve tried to date.

When you browse round the Reco webshop, you will see they also sell a good range of eco-friendly products from other trusted brands. But they are now about to launch their second own product and they sent me a trial pack to test out in advance for free. And no it is not a dental item this time. May I present …..

….. Reco Laundry Detergent Strips

Reco Laundry Detergent Sheets

I certainly haven’t seen or heard of anything remotely similar, so was only too happy to put these to the test.

First the packaging is cardboard and according to their website, it has already been recycled. You can either recycle or compost this. Plus it easily fits through the letterbox. No plastic bottle or capsule. Did you know that it is estimated that only about 9% of all plastic waste has ever been recycled!

Reco Laundry Detergent Sheets

Moving onto the information displayed on the packaging or website, I immediately felt confused when I read the composition. A lot of chemical sounding words plus warnings of skin irritation. This didn’t sound as eco as I hoped, although the website does say safe for the environment – OECD 301B certified biodegradable. More jargon that I don’t understand. Hopefully when they launch they can make this side of things clearer for the consumer.

My personal wishlist in this regard for an eco laundry product would be to see clear bullet points along the following lines.

Natural Ingredients
No chemicals
Cruelty free

So I would be very interested to hear which of these it ticks. I totally get its plus points over a liquid detergent as regards plastic and carbon cost. But I’m going to play devil’s advocate now and ask what are its plus points over a powder detergent, besides less cardboard? I hope its not a case of greenwashing!

Reco Laundry Detergent Sheets

The product itself comes in lightweight perforated sheets of two strips which are simple to split. The instructions indicate that one strip will be sufficient unless you live in a hard water area and your washing load is heavily soiled, in which case two strips are recommended. I have soft water here.

Reco Laundry Detergent Sheets

The directions tell you to put the strip in the back of the washing machine drum before loading your laundry. It has a strong pleasant fragrance before use and I found my laundry to have a hint of this after they had dried on the line. As regards effectiveness, it was great on general soiling like food stains but didn’t really impact long-term stains like armpits at 40 degrees, which it is fair to say is on a par with most products. And it dissolved perfectly. In fact the website indicates that they dissolve instantly in cold or hot water.

I couldn’t see any mention of whether they expected you to use them in conjunction with fabric conditioner or not. However this is a product I stopped using a couple of years ago, and in my opinion the Reco laundry sheets worked fine without the use of fabric conditioner.

Reco Laundry Detergent Sheets

So to summarise, an effective laundry product which is definitely more environmentally friendly than a liquid detergent or capsule, but I would like more clarity on the rest of its eco-credentials. In the meantime I’ll be sticking to using horse chestnuts or soap nuts for my laundry.

And if you can’t wait until the product launches to give it a try, how about seeing if you get lucky in their giveaway to win a year’s supply of Reco Laundry Detergent Strips worth £100!

I’d love to hear what is your favourite product from Reco or your suggestions for additions to the range. And don’t forget to check out the Reco blog too, where I see they are on the same wavelength as me, when it comes to cleaning with vinegar and bicarbonate of soda.

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Foul Play is afoot After Dark – review and giveaway

Disclosure. This post is a review of a product I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

There seems to have been a trend in my recent posts of what we’ve been doing for entertainment during lockdown, so games have been interspersed amongst my many book reviews. We’ve also been digging the jigsaws out of the cupboard, but they are more of a long term project that we just do a few pieces at a time. This is the especially the case with the 2000 piece one we’re working on at the moment, which is very difficult with lots of sky, water and rock.

Foul Play Game by After Dark

But today I’m sticking with the game theme, as we have received another game free to review. This time it is Foul Play, The Manor House Murder Mystery Card Game from After Dark. Now regular followers of my blog will know that I love to read a good murder mystery story, but I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned how much I enjoy seeing a murder mystery on stage or being involved in a murder mystery game. Whether it is solving or actually being the murderer, which I’ve done twice. The first occasion was at a party but the second time, one of the amdram groups that I used to belong to, had been booked as the entertainment for a murder mystery night. Yes people actually paid to try and guess and if I recall, none of them worked out that I was indeed the culprit. And guess how many versions of Cluedo we have here, not one, not two, not three but four. We have the original version, Super Cluedo, Harry Potter and Doctor Who versions.

Foul Play Game from After Dark

Murder Mystery events are the bread and butter business for After Dark and of course the pandemic has kept actors out of work for the time being, although they do hope to be back performing soon. But they extended their business model to come up with the Foul Play card game.

Dispatch was super speedy and I was very pleased to see how small the box was, just the size of a pack of playing cards. The boys have so many games that rattle around in big empty boxes, that we are almost running out of shelf space. But as the cards fitted so snugly in their box, I really didn’t see the need for the plastic around the cards inside. Hopefully they will reconsider that.

Foul Play Game from After Dark

This is a game for 2-5 players and is suitable for age 8+. It is set in Edwardian England and the Lord of the Manor is dead. You have to work out which suspect killed him. There are two versions of the game, one where you play as Good Cop and the other as Bad Cop.

Foul Play Game from After Dark

We tried the Good Cop version first, where you need to uncover the three pieces of evidence to track down the killer. My youngest got really into the swing of things by having several magnifying glasses as props and writing his suspicions and clues in a notebook. Although other players along with the fish seemed to be his prime suspects rather than those on the cards. The fish being the Red Herring of course! And his detective bear joined in the fun too.

Foul Play Game from After Dark

However props and notebooks are just window dressing for extra fun. All that is needed is the Foul Play deck of cards. But beware of other players stealing your cards, as I became a target. The boys kindly left me with one card rather than eliminating me from the game, so I had to steal a card back in order to have enough cards to revisit the crime scene.

The next day we played again but as Bad Cops this time. With 15 pieces of evidence in play, we found this to be a much faster game, as you’re trying to pin the crime on any suspect. Although Good Cop would have been quicker if my son had realised that watches didn’t have to be worn on wrists, He had the killer card, but swapped it at the crime scene.

Foul Play Game from After Dark

Until you have played the game a few times and become more familiar with the suspects, I did initially feel one of the pieces of evidence was slightly unfair. It said the killer is not related to any other suspect. I subsequently discovered that there are some extra downloadable resources on the website, so we could have printed a full list of suspects. And read a handy synopsis on each suspect, although the formatting needs to be improved to prevent text wrapping over other text.

The instructions were very comprehensive. The only things we felt unsure of were whether to shuffle the discard pile before restarting it again as the Evidence Locker, and should both players get to pick a card when swapping on Fair Play or only the player who played the card.

Foul Play Game from After Dark

As per all of my game reviews during the pandemic, we didn’t just limit it to playing in out household, we also tried it out over Zoom, which worked fine too. Great for mental health and wellbeing, to be able to involve those that the pandemic has forced into a lonely isolated lifestyle.

Foul Play currently retails at £8.95. Excellent value in my opinion and so much fun. The official case file reference for solving this crime is #foulplaygame and I’m delighted to see that a second game Once Upon A Crime will soon be hitting the shelves. Any suggestions for what other versions you would like to see?

Foul Play Game from After Dark

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition, courtesy of After Dark to giveaway a Foul Play card game to one lucky winner!

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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear your favourite game or idea for a new game.

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Game Off Celebrities – a Head to Head Battle – review and giveaway

Disclosure. This post is a review of a product I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

We love playing games in our household, but during this winter lockdown, I’ve frequently been heard calling out “Shall we play a game?” It helps give the boys a break from their screens, which they would be reluctant to do otherwise, when most of the activities they enjoy are off limits. And although we have our favourites that we play again and again, we really like trying something new. So I was delighted to be offered the chance to try out the new Celebrities version of Game Off for free.

Game Off Celebrities

Gosh I’ve never compared games to buses before but it had been a while since I’d reviewed a game and now this is the second one our family have put to the test in a matter of weeks!

Dispatch was very quick and it was good to see how small the box was. No wasted empty space in a large box. A win win all round as it will take up less space on the shelf, plus portable too, which will be a bonus once we can finally start going on holidays again. But putting on my “Reduce Plastic Pollution” hat, did it really need two layers of plastic, one round the box and then a second one inside round the pack of cards. Ideally I would like to see none, but can understand the need for some method of sealing the new product. Perhaps something the company can review before their next production run.

Game Off Celebrities

Moving onto the game itself, I loved the chatty friendly style that the instructions are written in, with a cheeky way of deciding who goes first. It says that it is suitable for ages 8-118. We joked here about having to stop playing when we reach 119. Of course we’re a long long way off that upper age limit, so with technology advances, who knows what humans life span may be in the future.

There are five types of cards – Body, Mind, Skill, Courage and Luck. The object of the game is to be the first person to collect one of each category. You win the cards via head-to-head battles with the other players acting as judges, so it needs a minimum of 3 players.

Game Off Celebrities

So each card describes a challenge based on a named celebrity, who range from current right back into the depths of history like Pythagoras. Some of the challenges are verbal, others require pen and paper and a few you need to improvise with props. It certainly makes it funny being the judges and the rules have cleverly thought out what to do in a draw scenario.

There is an additional rule which permits players to swap three of one type of card for another. This could prove useful in changing the dynamics of the game.

Game Off Celebrities

As we played, one thing became quite apparent quickly. Not everyone had necessarily heard of all the “famous” people or fully understood the particular challenge. For instance, my youngest son could not get the concept of “sharpest cheekbones” for a Keira Knightley Off. This did tend to take the edge off the boys enjoyment of the game somewhat. I haven’t played any of the other versions of Game Off, but I’m sure the Family version would have suited them both much better, although this Celebrities one does suggest from age 8 up, so should have been fine. I did think this would work excellently as a party game for adults though once parties are back on the agenda.

We certainly had lots of giggles with it and some ideas were very tongue in cheek. All us judges abstained when the boys went head to head in a Greta Thunberg Off. We were supposed to be voting on which of their letters would make the world a better place. Neither would and son1 was advocating to destroy the world entirely!

Game Off Celebrities

Afterwards the boys took a look at a few more of the cards, and I have to say it would be very hard for the games designers to guess which “famous” people to include for older children. For instance I was very surprised when I realised that neither of them had heard of Nelson! He is obviously not on the history school curriculum these days. But my youngest is an avid reader of history genre books and still hadn’t come across him. Yes really!! Maybe a testing panel of say age 8-16 would be useful in determining which “famous” people to include or exclude.

And we didn’t just limit it to playing in out household, we also tried it out over Zoom. Great for mental health and wellbeing, to be able to involve those that lockdown has forced into a lonely isolated lifestyle. We did have to adapt slightly, so that someone else rolled for him, as this was the first time any of us had ever seen a Left / Right dice, so obviously he didn’t have one of those. There were some of the challenges that wouldn’t have really worked remotely, but luckily those didn’t come up for him, but if they had it wouldn’t have been a problem, as we could have just redrawn a different challenge card.

Game Off Celebrities

According to the website, there are several other versions of Game Off. The original family version is suitable from age 3 up, then there is the sequel, Game Off 2 suitable from age 5 up plus an 18+ adult only version, so something for everyone. Plus this Celebrities version also comes in Spanish and German editions.

Any suggestions for what other versions you would like to see?

Game Off Celebrities currently retails at £12.99 and is sold via Amazon. Good value in my opinion and plenty of fun. I love its hashtag #EverythingIsAGame

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition, courtesy of Captain Fats to giveaway a Game Off Celebrities to not one, not two, but three lucky winners!

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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear your favourite game or idea for a new game.

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Do you Love Corn? – snack review and giveaway

Disclosure.  This post is a review of products I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

I’m feeling very important and special today as I’ve received a large box of LOVE CORN snacks free to review, which the barcode has labelled as a VIP box!

Love Corn

The box contains 12 packets of LOVE CORN savoury snacks, 3 packs of the following 4 flavours along with some promotional merchandise.

Sea Salt
Salt & Vinegar
Smoked BBQ
Habanero Chilli

Love Corn #ThePerfectCrunch

Once I opened the box and saw them, I recognised the branding and realised I had already tried a packet in a Christmas hamper last December, which had been very moreish. I was immediately really looking forward to trying the other three flavours.

Love Corn #ThePerfectCrunch

The whole family put them to the test and three of us agreed that all the flavours were very yummy and delicious. We particularly loved that crunch of the kernels, so their hashtag #ThePerfectCrunch is spot on. However my younger son wasn’t convinced but he doesn’t like popcorn, so I had anticipated that it would be a hard sell for him. The rest of us all had different opinions as to which were our favourites but loved them all. Mine was the spicy Habanero Chilli.

Love Corn #ThePerfectCrunch

These snacks are gluten free, vegan, kosher, sugar-free and non-genetically modified. The packet size is 45g which is enough for a small dish if you’re putting out a selection of snacks or appetisers. Also an ideal lunch box size, but the packets are resealable if you don’t eat them all in one go. We mostly snacked them on their own, but I also tried them sprinkled on a salad which worked perfectly too. They also come in a 20g or 115g size too.

Love Corn #ThePerfectCrunch

The corn is roasted, then seasoned. All the ingredients are natural, with the Sea Salt flavour containing just corn, sea salt and sunflower oil. And a few extra ingredients for the other flavours. The products are all long dated with at least 6 months until the best before date.

Two of the flavours bear the logo of a one star in the Great Taste Awards. Well done.

Love Corn #ThePerfectCrunch

The packets also display a recyclable symbol of a 5 in a triangle. I have looked this up and it means they are made of polypropylene which is accepted by a few councils kerbside recycling collections. You’ll need to check for your area. Ideally I would prefer to see all snack brands move to compostable packaging, like a few I have reviewed.

Now I didn’t realise that they were sending promotional merchandise too, otherwise I would have politely requested them not to include those. Regular followers of my blog will know that I am a keen follower of the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle mantra. My opinion of the taste of the products is not going to be impacted by a LOVE CORN hat, bag and stickers, so may I please respectfully request the brand to consider reducing their use of promotional gimmicks.

Love Corn #ThePerfectCrunch

LOVE CORN is stocked in Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Tesco or you may purchase online in boxes of 10 or 24 with free UK shipping. They also operate a loyalty points bonus scheme.

The LOVE CORN 3 year goals are to donate 1 million samples, build 50 school 
learning gardens and support local 
communities.

Please note if you have allergies that the packets do warn that they may contain tree nuts or peanuts as they have been made in a shared facility.

In summary, we loved these crunchy healthy snacks, a great savoury alternative to crisps, nuts or pretzels.

If readers of my blog would like to  receive a free sample pack containing 4 packets of LOVE CORN, 1 of each flavour, just paying £1.99 shipping, then please click here.

Plus I have an offer to pass on to my readers – 20% off your purchase at LOVE CORN with discount code: CRUNCH20

Love Corn #ThePerfectCrunch

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a LOVE care package which includes 12 bags of LOVE CORN and smokin’ LOVE merchandise to one lucky winner. A yummy prize.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear your favourite savoury snack?

Love Corn #ThePerfectCrunch

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Last night I had 20 Dreams to giveaway …

Disclosure. This post is a review of a product I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Games have always been something we have enjoyed in our family, but during this winter lockdown we have been playing even more, whilst it is too cold to spend much time in the garden. So I was very pleased to be offered the chance to try out the brand new 20 Dreams game for free.

20 Dreams game

20 Dreams, a creative storytelling card game was ‘dreamt’ up by Karen Stallard, an Arts Psychotherapist. It focuses on using the more emotional side of your brain, rather than logic. Then launched as a small business venture with a successful Kickstarter campaign last summer.

20 Dreams game

Dispatch was quick and I was glad to see the care that had been taken to ensure the product was plastic free, with just a couple of paper strips to secure the cards. Every little helps to try to reduce plastic pollution. Plus a nice small box size was a bonus too, as not everyone has space to store many large games.

20 Dreams game

In fact, even the box gets used during the game as the ‘penalty box’ for incorrect guesses. Great innovative use of the box.

20 Dreams game

The game has different variants depending on how many people are playing. So there is a 2 player cooperative game, working together to collect points or a 3-6 player competitive game or a team version. So far we’ve tried playing it with 4 and 5 players, including over Zoom.

Playing 20 Dreams game

You take it in turns to tell a dream which includes the 3 picture cards and expresses the emotion on your white card. The other players then have to guess which emotion it is from their own coloured pack. Get it right and the dream teller earns points, but get it wrong and the penalties start stacking up!

The rules suggest a certain number of rounds depending on the number of players. Well son2 insisted we continue playing until all the emotion cards ran out as he was enjoying it so much, so you can adapt your own variations too.

As mentioned above, we did also try it out over Zoom. Great for mental health and wellbeing, to be able to involve those that lockdown has forced into a lonely isolated lifestyle. Ideally this would be best with a game set each or at least to have given a player pack to the person playing remotely. However we didn’t have this opportunity so our workaround was for him to write down the list of 20 emotions and cross them out once played.

Playing 20 Dreams game

I have to say son1’s emotions were impossible to guess. Every dream he told in a flat monotone, with barely any story around the 3 pictures. Very hard to work out what he was feeling so I think I wrongly guessed “calm” every time for him, until someone else played that emotion card. Meanwhile he seemed to deliberately guess almost the most opposite emotion possible for the rest of us. I’m not sure if it was tactical play on his part, but it meant all his blue cards ended up in the penalty box. And for the final scores, we all were negative, although son2 was the winner being least negative points. But everyone had great fun, even son1. We were in fits of giggles over how hilarious some of the stories were.

Playing 20 Dreams game

The dream teller is supposed to start each dream saying “Last night I had a dream” and end it by saying “and I woke up feeling …?” Well son2 even involved his bear by wearing the outer box showing those phrases.

The box indicates that this is the 2020 classic pop art edition and their online shop also says 1st edition, so looks like there will be more releases to look forward to. Any suggestions for what other versions you would like to see?

Playing 20 Dreams game

I believe that our family are all more analytical than creative, so I would be very interested to play this with a different group of people too, as I’m sure the dynamics of the game will be quite different. And the 20 Dreams website says that it can also be used as an educational tool by parents, teachers or therapists, with plenty of resources, tools and ideas detailed.

The game is aimed at age 12+ but on the website, they suggest that it can be adapted for younger or neurodiverse players by removing the more difficult emotions to make the game shorter and more accessible.

The only thing that did slightly surprise me was that the box says ‘Made in China’. I had just assumed that as a small start-up business, who had taken the effort to help protect the environment by avoiding single-use plastic, that the product would have had a lower carbon footprint and supported other local industry if made in the UK.

20 Dreams currently retails at £14.99. Great value in my opinion. I can certainly highly recommend this game, which has been very well thought out. Fun for all the family across the generations.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a 20 Dreams game to one lucky winner. What a fun prize.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear your idea for a new game.

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Anno 2020 by James Morcan – book review and giveaway

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

I have received a free e-copy of the book Anno 2020 by James Morcan to review. You may find out more about the author on his website.

Anno 2020 by James Morcan

Here is the book blurb.

Eleven individuals around the world must communicate remotely with each other while separated during the coronavirus lockdowns of Anno MMXX (Year 2020).

I’ve read several books which James Morcan has written jointly with his father Lance, so I was very interested to see what his first solo title would be like.

This fictional book is set during the Coronavirus multiple lockdowns of 2020 with the characters using various forms of digital technology to communicate, such as video chat or podcast. Some of the chapters focus on individuals but most are between a pair of characters and the story swaps around between them all.

All the characters are in different parts of the world, some where they live and some who were far from home when lockdown was enforced, like 19 year old Emma in Wuhan. They all have complicated issues in their lives, which the author cleverly draws out.

Even though it is one novel, the book has a feel of short stories as we keep alternating back and forth between the scenes. And although you see the connection between each pair, you do start wondering where it is all leading. But it follows a very clever path through to the conclusion.

Anno 2020 is available on Amazon in Kindle format. A great topical read that we can all relate to.


And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a kindle copy of Anno 2020 to one lucky winner. Open worldwide.
Plus you don’t even need to own a kindle to read this, as you can download the kindle app free to your phone or tablet.comper friendly badge

a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

I’d love to hear about your favourite read.

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Shared to The Monthly Book Blogger Link-Up with Lovely Audiobooks