In and amongst our busy weekend , adventures and gallivanting, we still found time for some family time at home. On Saturday morning we had a lot of fun as we got to grips with a new game by Spy Code named “Operation: Escape Room”! We were sent it recently from Smyths Toy Store, and have had a lot of laughs and tense moments with it – it is ideal for some family fun and time together on these cold, wet days!

Escape rooms are all over right now, and are a fun thing to do (or so I hear). This game brings that experience to a child’s level and creates the thrill and problem solving vibe of an escape room, right here in to your living room! Within the box there are three challenges and each one is to be solved in order to retrieve the golden key. Once found the key takes you to the next puzzle and so on, until you get the final key, which if found in time, will stop the ticking “time bomb” (as named by Megs)! It was great to test our spy skills and problem-solving nerve with three  seemingly simple tasks (they were harder than they appear) and that are designed to make you work as a team.

Operation Escape Room is suitable for ages 6+ and both Ethan and Megan really got into it and understood exactly what they needed to do. It is a fast paced game and something you can play in just a short space of time which we really liked about it. Unlike the board games we have tried to play with in the past, where they seem to lose interest easily, this wasn’t at all like that at all- It was fast moving, fun and required some skill and problem solving skills too, which they were only too happy to demonstrate. They enjoyed the urgency of each task and the fact that they were “on a mission” to solve the problems, find the keys and free the family member that needed to escape! We played it a few times, taking turns on the tasks and they loved it every time.

How to play Operation Escape Room 

You begin by assembling the games/puzzles and then placing them around the room (the instructions are really easy to follow – as long as the kids aren’t nagging at you in the process!). After this you choose someone to wear the escape belt, and then you have to work together to free them! It requires you to collect three keys in challenges of skill, strategy and luck, before the time on the escape belt runs out.

We began with “The skill challenge” – this  tests your ability to navigate a maze. From here we went onto “The strategy challenge” which required that we complete mathematical puzzles, find patterns and solve problems to crack the code. This was by far the hardest part, and rather tense too! Finally, when we cracked the code and released the key, we moved onto “The luck challenge”, which is exactly that – luck. It leaves it all up to chance.

Completing each challenge earns one of the three keys you need to release your teammate and if found in time you can stop the timer and free them.

What we loved:

As I said we loved the fast pace and excitement that this game brought to our home. It was a lot of fun to play together and the kids were ever so giddy as they tried to get the keys! We liked how it tested their brains with puzzles, required team work and some level of energy, and we liked how it tested their motor skills too.

It’s great that the skill challenge offers players different levels of difficulty, enabling this game to grow with the kids and offer many many more moments of fun and spy missions!

What we didn’t like so much:

The only think I am not so keen about is that it is a little bit plasticy for me! This is obviously purely a personal thing, but I do worry it could easily get broken if the kids are too heavy handed in their state of urgency to free their sibling/parent/friend. It also requires batteries (2xAAA), so don’t forget these!

Operation: Escape Room is available now from Smyths Toy Store. It is £19.99 and also available for home delivery (how convenient). It would be a great gift for Christmas, a child’s birthday, or just for the fun of it on a rainy day, to keep the kids busy and having fun! It was a lot of fun and we look forward to sharing it with friends and cousins, and having many more family laughs with it too. There are so many ways to play and I think one evening I may even get them dressed up as spys, and bring out our imagination and role play skills as well as the teamwork and problem solving that this game requires.

Thank you Smyths / Spy Code for this new and fun addition to our family game cupboard!

*We were sent this game for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and pictures are our own. 

 

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I am a little later than usual with my weekly round up of joyful moments from this last week – mainly because it has been such a busy and fantastic weekend I haven’t really had much time to sit and collect my thoughts. This week overall has been an incredibly hard one for me and in time I will go into more depth on that, but for now I am more than grateful that it ended on such a high, so many lovely moments shared together. We have enjoyed the kids sports day, football and a beach adventure!

The highlight this weekend (aside from our victory over Sweeden to qualify us for the Semi’s – how mint!) most certainly was our family expedition through the caves on Saturday evening. Kitted out in wetsuits, our little family joined my sisters family and our parents up at Thornwick Bay and together had a whole lot of fun swimming in the sea. We were seen climbing through the caves and “cliff jumping”, and It was a whole lot of fun/a rather epic moment!

Grateful For 

The beach makes me so happy, so to have the opportunity on Saturday to get into my wetsuit was a joyful moment I felt grateful to have. We went in the evening at low tide so the waters were calm and blue and the evening sun looked and felt lush. I felt truly grateful for Summer, for brave kids that were up for the adventure and for fun times with some of our family.

This week I have also been grateful for mum friends at school that get me and took time to chat about life! I am also very grateful for sisters and having a fab time on Thursday with 2 of them carbooting and ice cream eating. It was such a lovely day out and I am once again grateful to live close by them and the coast – so much more spontaneity in life as a result!

Succeeded At 

This week I succeeded at getting into my wetsuit after 2 years (too long) and loved it! Last year we never really took the opportunity to go caving and really missed the fun we have together up in the caves! I also succeeded at doing a tonne of laundry thanks to the glorious weather and succeeded at hitting up the car boot sale and finding some mega deals.

Found Beauty In 

A boat full of kids eagerly floating through the caves with us. My kids playing with Russian dolls whilst sat in their England tops watching the world cup! And, seeing the little kiddies at sports day running their little socks off – so cute!

I also found great joy and beauty in the continuously sunny days we’ve had, the beautiful coastline in the evening sun and seeing the Puffins line the cliffs!

This gorgeous weather has brought so many wonderful moments and I am feeling so happy that we are having a proper Summer – long may it continue.

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For years I have scrolled through my Facebook feed and loved the efforts of parents and kids in creating spectacular, ingenious and just lovely costumes for World Book Day. From comic books to classics, one off faves and  quirky childhood favourites, kids everywhere were living the dream and I couldn’t wait until my kids were in school and we could embrace this wonderful idea too.

Then this year we finally got a chance to. Megan briefly wanted to be Cinderella but then never really swayed from being a rabbit from Peter Rabbit, and Ethan was set on being The Gruffalo… No the big skeleton from Funny Bones…no Sam I am..No green ham…no Aliens love underpants…definitely a skeleton..Okay the robber from cops and robbers! It was far from the fun easy adventure I had anticipated as we enjoy so many great books and my son is evidently as indecisive as me. In the end he settled on a Cops and Robbers (Grabber Dan to be precise), and we had a few last minute costume makes, and then Megan was a gorgeous Lily Rabbit. I just loved that moment they saw themselves for the first time in character – so exciting!

And then me with my bright ideas suggested in our PTA meeting a few weeks back that we dress up too and share some stories with the classes in school which was embraced well, and subsequently evolved into me sharing one to the whole school in an assembly – Score..nooottt!

I rocked up to school dressed as Peg Polka dot from “The Troll” complete with frying pan and plastic fish and had great fun reading to reception whilst the other mum’s tackled the other classes. Then the school gathered in the hall where I shared (in my dressing gown) one of our faves “Zagazoo” in Assembly to hall of eager kids and teachers.

I do love to perform, it makes me happy. I am a little eccentric at times, and wish I dare be more so sometimes, But I do feel comfortable being a character and acting, and to do this for my kids school is a moment I will remember for a long time. Not just that but that moment in the morning when they looked in the mirror and saw themselves in character! It was so precious and it felt so good to be silly with them and embrace this opportunity of being a school mum on the PTA on world book day. Its was so much fun and so many giggles.

Our first world book day was easily a success and I found it a wonderful thing for me to share this with the kids too. I think it was good for them to see me in their school life and me them. To be in Megan’s class and see her grinning “that’s my mum” was certainly a lovely thing. To hear their class mates laughing their heads off and thinking I’m a rather cool mum (I hope ha) was just great for us all, and we left school on such a high… they had loved being dressed up and sharing their books with their friends. They had appreciated differences in likes and dislikes and had loved the chance to have a day celebrating the wonderful world of books and stories. A day to exercise imagination and passion, and an ordinary moment of childhood we embraced wholeheartedly – roll on next year!

 

The Ordinary Moments
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Now the kids are back in school it seems like absolutely ages since we had a proper family day out – a good old adventure in the fresh air and beautiful scenes of Yorkshire. With several busy weekends rushing around here and there with parties and celebrations  (amongst other things), I have been craving a day where we can just get out and clear the cobwebs, have a nice walk, chats and enjoy being out in nature together. I love to see the kids outdoors exploring, running around, collecting sticks and finding bugs and dens in the bushes. They seem to just light up as they discover all kinds of things that are interesting and beautiful to them, and its just lovely! I think that it is these day to day outings I miss the most with Ethan and Megan both being in school now, so when Yorkshire water sent us over one of their highly sought after picnic bags and info on their walking “hot spots” for days out we couldn’t wait for a gorgeous family adventure, and finally we did! And my most favourite thing about it – it’s all Free and can be enjoyed by all….

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Yorkshire water have a “leisure” website (here) where you can easily access information, maps and activities to do around their reservoirs throughout Yorkshire. As half term is here and can quickly become pricey I think this is a fantastic activity to do with kids whether you are in North, East, South or like us, West Yorkshire (or even on the boarder and want to venture over to Gods own county). Their walking packs can be downloaded on the website and are easily indicated as to the level of difficulty depending on whether you fancy a good hike or gentle stroll with prams and scooters! For us with little kids and a pram in tow we chose an easy route and started off small. This took us near Meltham/Slaithwaite area to “Blackmoorfoot” reservoir, the walk was only short – just over a mile, but perfect for us all and easy going. It was absolutely beautiful with clear skies and Autumn clearly all around us in nature.

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I know my kids could have easily done one of the 4 milers but our reason was that we just wanted a chilled day and use the pram as oppose to a carrier. Despite the walk being short, we still spent a good couple of hours there walking, picnicking, collecting sticks and autumn leaves and finding various plants and bugs! Ethan and Megan loved the little bridges and we all enjoyed the surrounding woodlands as much as the lovely views of both the reservoir and rolling hills. The kids loved their picnic, paddling in safe spots and calling to the ducks!

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It was all so beautiful and peaceful and we had a really great time exploring and walking. I love our family walks and I think there are so many reasons to love “Yorkshire Water” for a great family day out, both for this half term or any weekend:

1. Its Free!!! (and fun…free and fun = the perfect combo)

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2. They Provide printable activity packs – on the website scroll down to the walking section and find the sub header of “Activities for children”. Here you can select the relevant ages of your kids and down load an activity to take with you with colouring pages, spot the difference, things to find in nature and things to make either out or when you return.

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3. You can enjoy a picnic in gorgeous scenery, and who doesn’t love a good picnic?! We loved using our official Yorkshire water picnic set, but grab a bag and some snacks and make a day of it!

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4. They are Pram friendly – well some are, some are not. Next time we will probably use the wrap and carry Alice so we can step it up a few levels, but the level one walk which states is suitable for prams was just that. It was really easy going, some mud as expected, but our bugaboo handled it totally fine and Alice was asleep for the most part.

Baby in bugaboo

5. You can do more than just have a walk – loads more to be honest. You can fish, cycle and if you are loaded and have horse…horse ride (though if you’re reading a thrifty post I’m guessing you’re not)!!

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6. It can be tailored to your families needs. We chose an easy route like I say so that we could have a casual walk and use the pram, but it made me excited that if the kids were older or you have a pack of boisterous kids then a level 4 walk with rougher terrain and higher gradients in the direction of Howath or Meltham would be a great challenge and adventure for them. Again activity packs can be used appropriately for various ages of your kids.

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7. They are safe – you can’t really get lost and the walks are very straight forward. Provided you stick to the tracks, obey resouvior rules and follow the routes its a good safe day out for all!

I love a good family day out of fun and adventure and I think that from being a stay at home mum I have probably taken for granted that we could have daily adventures like this when ever we wanted, where as now we are limited to Saturdays and half terms. So if you are like me and are craving some fresh air for your kids, or just want a great day out for FREE this half term then take a look at Yorkshire Waters Leisure site and get yourselves to a place where your kids can have some exploring and adventures whilst finding our about all kinds of wildlife too. We discussed how lovely it would be to visit a different reservoir every month for a walk and discover new places together whilst seeing nature in the changing seasons, because lets face it (in their words) there’s no excuse for staying indoors when you’ve got the amazing Yorkshire landscape on your doorstep!

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Hearty Life (4)

 

#YorkshireFamily with Yorkshire Tots
Nature Mum Blog
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