Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Check out these beardy-weirdies ! (Braun S3 #Shave&Style review)

Braun sent a lovely surprise in the post for Madhouse Daddy recently - their S3 Shave&Style, which is a 3-in-1 Electric Cordless Wet and Dry Shaver with Precision Trimmer and 5 Comb Attachments.

These allow you to choose between clean shaving or your desired stubble length for precision beard trimming and styling so that you can get the exact look you want. To give us some inspiration, they included a pack of beard cards in the box and the extended Madhouse family were in fits of giggles trying out some new looks.

I give you ... Madhouse Grandad. This actually quite suits him, in a weird sort of way.

My sister Emily - this is just freaky !

Her boyfriend Jordan, doing a good impression of David Bellamy "in the shwubbery".

This is my favourite - my mum looks like an honorary member of the Hairy Bikers !

But she could also get a bit in Planet of the Apes or a dodgy western !

All Jordan needs is a bit of designer stubble and he could perfect the wannabe boys band look.

Emily looks ready to jump on a Harley Davidson and go vrooming off into the sunset.

Er no, that just killed that one !

All he needs is a parrot on his shoulder - Johnny Depp, eat your heart out !

If this motley crew haven't put you off beards for life, check out @Braun_Grooming and the #Shave&Style hashtag to see how everyone else is styling it out.

Disclosure : We were gifted a Braun Shave&Stye and a pack of beard cards.

Fred's Box - an exciting kids' mystery box subscription (review)

When Fred's Box recently got in touch to ask if we'd like to review one of their monthly mystery subscription boxes for kids, I was intrigued. Firstly, because it was a brand that we'd never heard of and, secondly, because kids have such eclectic tastes that I wondered how they would manage to cater to everyone. Pierre had a different question - who's Fred ? Well, that one was easily answered because he has his very own page on the Fred's Box website - he's a 7-year-old boy who loves receiving things in the post (and the colour orange) and he set up the company, with a little help from his mum. He sounds like a right character and I'm sure he'd hit it off with Pierre immediately if they were in the same room !

This possibly also explains why, as soon as Pierre opened the box and excitedly peeled back the (orange) paper, he burst into a round of "wows" and "look Mum's" ! With Minions and fidget spinners and collectibles, it was like receiving a box put together from a wishlist of all Pierre's favourite things.

As it's the holidays and we were having a lazy morning in bed watching TV, Pierre tipped the whole lot out on the bed and went through the contents, carefully examining everything.

He was instantly attracted to the fidget spinner and the Bumpeez intrigued him, so we looked at all the different ways of playing with them in the enclosed leaflet - bouncing them off the wall, playing "darts" with them on the floor, playing catch with a bounce in the middle, stacking them (obviously you'd need a few more than two for this particular game !) ... You can't see from this photo but they are Minions-themed Bumpeez, which went down well.

Pierre is currently obsessed with his enormous collection of Pokemon trading cards, so the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cards (or are they Hero Turtles now? I can never remember !) were given the seal of approval.

He was also very taken with the slappy wristband, especially as it has a cool hashtag on it (yes, I'm quoting Pierre here !).

There were lots of other things that disappeared before I got to take separate photos of them (which proves how popular they were, as they were shared out between both 8-year-old Pierre and 12-year-old Juliette and squirreled away in their bedrooms) - some blank postcards and a pencil (a nice little holiday project there !), a superhero Ooshie (that's the little figurine in the bottom right corner), a Minions keyring and a reading book, The Planet of Bones, which is perfectly adapted to Pierre's reading level.

I was very impressed at how well-suited it was to Pierre's age and interests, but that is the joy of Fred's Box - they tailor it all to suit your child's profile, taking into account their age, sex and reading level. They explain on their website : "In each mystery subscription box, there will always be an age appropriate reading book, a pack of trading cards, an Ooshie (collectable mini figures which double up as pencil toppers for the over 5's), 4 x Crayola funky shape crayons (for the under 5's) a Fred's Box coloured pencil and sticker, 4 design your own postcards, plus between 2 and 5 mystery gifts."

For the toy collector, Fred's Box also has an Ooshie Subscription Box where you will never receive the same Ooshie twice so you can collect the entire 40 of each theme without having to buy endless packets and do lots of trades with your friends. I think that's a brilliant idea ! In this box, you will also receive a Fred's Box pencil, sticker and 2 design your own postcards.

There is also an option to order a twins box or a box for 2 children, called the Mojo Box. This works out cheaper than buying two separate boxes. One final great idea - all Fred’s Boxes fit through the letterbox so you never have to wait in for it.

Fred's Box costs £11.99 + £2 postage. You can opt for a one-off box or a rolling subscription.

for more information :

Diclosure : We received a box in order to write an honest review.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Giveaway #639 : Win a VR Real Feel Racing system - closing date 20/8

VR Real Feel Racing is a unique 3D system with a steering wheel for intuitive control and movement. With thrilling games and VR apps to download, the VR Real Feel Racing Simulator puts you in the driver's seat for a truly exciting and immersive virtual experience.

 Created by VR Entertainment Ltd, the company behind the popular Teksta range, VR Real Feel™ Racing offers technology that put players inside the action like never before. Featuring a 42mm lens headset that harnesses the power of Apple or Android™ smartphones, VR Real Feel Racing delivers pixel-popping graphics in stereo 3D.

A patented Bluetooth™ steering wheel with Max Force Feedback™, enables players to steer, accelerate, brake and change the view with the steering wheel, far more intuitive than tilting the head!

VR Real Feel Racing is available now for £39.99rrp. Available from Toys R Us, Amazon and Smyths, Halfords and Debenhams.

Main features:
- VR Real Feel Virtual Reality Car Racing Gaming System with Bluetooth Steering Wheel and Headset Goggles Viewer Glasses for iOS iPhone and Android
- Experience stunning 3D high definition graphics with pixel-popping graphics in stereo 3D with 42mm industry standard lenses for optimum viewing
- Patented Bluetooth Max Force steering wheel to steer, accelerate and brake for ultimate control!
- Unlike other VR headsets, no more tilting head to turn - this is the way virtual reality racing was meant to be!
- VR headset has a comfortable foam face, adjustable straps, and an adjustable phone cradle that will hold up to an iPhone 7 Plus

I have a VR Real Feel Racing system to give away to a lucky Madhouse Family Reviews reader. Fill in your entries in the Rafflecopter widget below.

UK only. Closing date : 20/8/17

T & C's : Entries close at midnight on the closing date. Winners will be selected with a random number generator and announced on facebook 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 28 days, 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 !

You may also like to enter my other giveaways :

Trailclues - a new Urban Treasure Hunt platform

As you'll know if you're a regular reader of my blog, we love geocaching here at The Madhouse. (Click through to my geocaching posts to see our latest adventures.) It's a fabulous way of finding new places, it gets us out in the fresh air and it's always exciting finding a well hidden cache, swapping over treasures and helping travel bugs on their long-distance journeys around the world. It's also great as a totally free activity - I've seen numerous parents on my social media timelines wondering how to keep the kids entertained during the holidays with little or no budget, so geocaching is ideal. You just need to go to, create an account, download the app to your phone or upload caches to a handheld gps and then get out exploring.

When a press release landed in my inbox recently about a new Urban Treasure Hunt platform called Trailclues, it sounded right up our street too. I haven't had a chance to try it yet as it's only available in London and Portsmouth so far, but more will be added across the UK over the coming months. Here's what the release has to say - let me know if you get a chance to try it out. I'd love to hear how it works.


Whether looking for a fun summer holiday activity in their local area or wanting to really explore a new destination, eager explorers have a new tool at their disposal. Taking players on an urban treasure hunt, Trailclues combines uncovering hidden gems, picking up fun, local trivia, and problem solving through a unique platform that’ll take them on an adventure through city landscapes.

Players race against the clock to solve clues along a trail, taking them to the next spot and another cryptic message to crack. Along the way, they’ll discover little known locations, learn fun facts about places that are often overlooked, and much more. Launching just in time for the summer months, Trailclues is the fun, unique way to go out and enjoy the sun. Tourists can get off the beaten track to discover locations that aren’t listed on the usual maps, while locals can expect to unearth charming features and destinations they never knew existed, simply by heading to the Trailclues website. Once signed up, all players need to do is respond to a received text with ‘GO’ to begin receiving clues directly to their phone.

Edward Mula, Founder of Trailclues, said, “Every city is filled with overlooked gems by tourists and locals alike. You might get a chance to glimpse these on a guided tour but Trailclues does away with that, giving people a chance to get involved in urban exploring at their own pace and without a huge cost. From first dates to corporate team building exercises, Trailclues is suitable for a huge range of groups and individuals that want to try something new and exciting in the city.”

For users with a competitive streak, they can even go up against each other. Leaderboards for all the trails give players a chance to race through the clues as fast as possible in an attempt to register an impressive time. Teaming up and competing is also an option through Trailclues. Up to three teams can sign up to simultaneously tackle the tricky clues as they race against each other to get to the finish point first.

Trailclues currently has trails available in London and Portsmouth, with more to be added across the UK over the coming months. Every trail is designed to be completed in an average of two hours and clues are always within walking distance of each other. Eliminating the need for a guide or
expensive hire equipment, Trailclues is set to become the new way to explore the urban environment in the UK.

To find out more visit

Monday, 24 July 2017

DVD review : Red Dog - The Early Years

Forget Clifford the Big Red Dog - there's a new copper-coloured canine companion in town, and this time he's a real dog, not a cartoon ! 

Red Dog : The Early Years - or Red Dog : True Blue, under its international title - is the sequel (or, more precisely, prequel) to the 2011 Red Dog film, but it really doesn't matter if you haven't seen the first one. We loved the clever opening sequence which shows characters from the film watching the original 2011 version in the cinema.

 The story is told by adult Michael Carter (played by Jason Isaacs, from the Harry Potter series and The OA), who recounts the story of his eleven year old self (played by Levi Miller) being shipped off to his grandfather's cattle station in the back of beyond in the remote Pilbara region of Western Australia. Once there, he prepares himself for a life of dull hardship, but instead finds myth, adventure and a friendship with a scrappy, one-of-a-kind dog that will change his life forever.

It's often hard to find a film that will appeal to the whole family, rather than something that the parents endure for the sake of the kids, but this ticks all the right boxes - an exotic setting, a heartwarming tale, some eccentric characters and funny moments, along with a cute four-legged star. The Madhouse kids found it hard to understand some of the broader Aussie accents (you can tell they weren't brought up on a twice daily TV diet of Neighbours and Home & Away in their formative years !) but they loved the story and the madcap humour of certain scenes.

It's an uplifting, family-friendly, coming-of-age tale about a boy and his dog, with some great panoramic views of the outback and references to Aboriginal culture thrown in for good measure. It'll make you laugh but I bet it'll make you shed a tear too !

  • Actors: Jason Isaacs, Thomas Cocquerel, Bryan Brown, Levi Miller, Hanna Mangan Lawrence
  • Directors: Kriv Stenders
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Signature Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: 24 July 2017
  • Run Time: 88 minutes

Disclosure : We received a copy of the dvd.

Colouring fun with Bic Kids (review)

Like all children their age, the Madhouse kids would be happy to spend half of their holidays with their eyes glued to various screens, whether that be TV, iPads or laptops. I, on the other hand, have other ideas and want to get them enjoying some good old-fashioned technology-free fun, like the kind I had in my own childhood - water fights, long walks with the dogs, blackberrying, going for bike rides, messy play, ... It was heartwarming to see how enthusiastic they were when I pulled out some new packs of colouring supplies from Bic and encouraged them to get their creative juices flowing !

The kids have each got a box full of colouring materials in their bedrooms, but there's something totally irresistible about a brand new pack of felt tips, pencils or crayons. I can totally understand the appeal : testing out the new colours, seeing how bright they are, appreciating the length and totally unchewed condition of the pencils, not worrying about the felt tips running out halfway through a big section and ending up with patchy colour, ... 

The Bic Kids products are particularly well-designed with little artists in mind. The Kid Couleur Felt Pens 12 pack (RRP £2.99) is ideal for school with all the main colours you need. They are durable and ultra washable (hallelujah !) with blocked tips, so you shouldn't need to replace them before the end of the first term back at school (as usually happens !). They are perfect for kids to explore their creativity without the mess.

Bic Kids Evolution Ecolutions colouring pencils (RRP £2.99) are described as ultra-resistant, wood-free colouring pencils with a resistant chew-proof lead and barrel, making them highly durable. What’s more, they are easy to sharpen and extra safe, as they don't splinter. They tick all the boxes for my pet niggles when it comes to colouring pencils !

The one that most impressed us, though, was the BIC KIDS Plastidecor crayons (RRP £2.99). My own childhood experiences with wax crayons weren't all that great - they seemed to snap a lot, ended up all over my hands and sleeves (from leaning on the bits I'd coloured) and I spent half of the time peeling off bits of paper to reveal the rapidly dwindling crayon part. These ones are extra long and hollow so they are easier to hold and feel more like you're using felt tips. Ideal for children over the age of 30 months and recommended by teachers, these crayons are easy to sharpen and are super resistant to breakage, as well as being extra clean on hands and fabrics. Once again, they've taken all my pet niggles and solved the problems.

Pierre tested the felt tips and loved the bright colours and the fact that they didn't smudge, bleed into the paper or make the top surface of the paper fluff up. He also managed to not get felt tip all over his hands, which was a miracle, although the fact that they are ultra washable means that it wouldn't really have mattered anyway.

Juliette tried out the colouring pencils and came up with a seaside scene, complete with palm trees, whales in the ocean and a colourful hot air balloon drifting through the sky. She said that they gave great coverage and you didn't have to press really hard so they were more comfortable to use than her current pencils.

Our surprise favourite, though, was the Plastidecor crayons because they provide such vivid colours. We also discovered that if you draw with one colour then colour over the top, the original lines can still be seen through it, which opens up more creative possibilities. Pierre asked if we can redo something he did at school - colour in a whole piece of paper with the crayons, then paint black paint all over the top. When it is dried, use a pair of rounded-end scissors to scratch off parts of the paint to make a pattern and reveal the bright colours beneath. I remember doing this myself at school to create a firework scene, so we'll definitely have to give that a go during the holidays.

If you're looing for a way to keep the kids entertained and you have a budding artist aged 5-11, Bic currently have a fabulous competition running on Mumsnet where children can submit their drawings and be in with a chance of winning a £50 BIC bundle, as well as get their artwork featured on a billboard in their hometown!

Rebecca Huda from BIC explains : “It doesn’t matter if your child thinks the sky should be yellow, the sun pink, or the grass purple – we want to see the nation’s most imaginative drawings. All you need to do, is send a photo of your kid’s best drawing by the 6th August. Entries will then be judged by our panel of expert creatives and winners will be notified before the billboards are launched in September.” 

This competition is open to all UK children who will be aged between 5 and 11 years old on 6th August 2017. The competition is open from 17th July - 6th August so you've got plenty of time to get creative!

Disclosure : I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity. I have received a voucher as a token of thanks for this post.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

The Sienna Collection Friendship Hearts review

You shoot me down in flames
You put me down a lot
But I'm giving you my heart
Go on take it
Please be careful not to break it
Just remember it's the only one I've got
It's the only one I've
Don't break my heart

I'm sure these gorgeous glass hearts weren't the inspiration behind the classic 80's UB40 song, but it would be the perfect song to sing (or write out as a poem if you haven't got a great voice) when you give one to your loved one. And if you haven't got a loved one? Well, gift one to yourself then, because they look gorgeous hanging on your bedroom wall !

When Peach Perfect asked if we'd like to receive one for review, the only tricky part was choosing which one we liked best. In the end, we opted for blue but they're all lovely. They look especially pretty hung in the window where they will catch the light, or they can even be put outside.

According to the attached gift tag, these hearts were traditionally made by glass blowers at the end of their shift with left over glass, then given to family and friends to attract good luck and friendship. As they are hand blown, each one is totally unique. Presented in a gift box, they are perfect for a birthday, anniversary, wedding, engagement or just because....

Each 12cm heart has an RRP of £13, but to celebrate the launch of their new website, Peach Perfect are currently giving you the chance to win one. The competition is open until midnight on 31st July so don't miss out !

Disclosure : We received the product in order to write an honest review.

Gel-a-Peel - the summer festival fun edit ! (review)

There's always a squeal of excitement when I receive an email from Gel-a-Peel with news of their latest crafty challenge. After making a funky Unicorn Jewellery Box last time, we were keen to see what the next theme would be, and the answer was, summer festivals and days out.

They provided us with a pack of funky Glow-in-the-Dark Gel-a-Peel and a pair of pink plastic sunglasses for this challenge, but Gel-a-Peel can be used on pretty much everything, from fabric and wood to glass and paper.

Inside the pack, there is also a  mould tray that you can use to create letters and numbers, as well as emojis and symbols including a heart and a rainbow - perfect for personalising your most treasured possessions. Judging by the letters that she filled up, that is Juliette's plan !

If you've never used Gel-a-Peel before, it's an air-drying silicon gel that comes in tubes like glitter glue, with a selection of nozzles for different effects and textures. It's really easy to get a 3d effect so you can also use the gel to create beads, charms and bracelets.

 I did snigger and say she looked like a cross between Willy Wonka and an Oompa Loompa in this photo, but Sophie thinks they're very cool !

 The fact that this Gel-a-Peel is glow-in-the-dark makes it ideal for summer accessories for evening barbecues and late night parties - the mini disco in Turkey will be ideal for showing them off when we go on holiday in August !

Juliette has also been creating lots of embellishments to stick all over her laptop - my favourite is this heart with a moustache !

Gel-a-Peel is aimed at children aged 8+, but if your children are younger, it can be a nice craft to do alongside them, maybe creating something special to wear during the holidays. You could try accessorising plimsolls, flip flops, bags, ribbon to create wristbands and so much more. Let your creative juices flow !

Disclosure : We received the product in order to take part in the challenge.