Tag Archives: Christmas presents

A Slow Christmas: The Hape Quadrilla Space City Marble Run

Hape Quadrilla space city marble runI spent last Tuesday night building a Quadrilla Space City Marble Run from Hape, as part of my build up to another slow Christmas. Actually, it wasn’t hard, even after a long day and I enjoyed it, although it did require some concentration. The marble run is built up from various colour-coded blocks and wooden tracks, unlike the more common plastic ones which come with long, ready-angled pieces to click together. But the creation process is part of the beauty of slow toys.

The box is suitably large and exciting and it’s all beautifully packaged when you lift the lid. It won’t be for long! However, there’s definitely enough space for all the parts to go back in quickly and easily when it’s time to tidy up.

Hape Quadrilla Space City Marble Run

Designed to glow in the dark, there are special luminous marbles and glow stickers to put on the blocks so you can have some extra fun. If the stickers walk off elsewhere, as they’re likely to in our house, you can still enjoy it as there are numerous ways to build different runs. There’s a booklet that comes with it that shows each build stage-by-stage, with the area built up greyed out each time.

Hape Quadrilla space city marble runAs with all Hape toys there are sturdy, sustainable wooden parts and I think D, now 2.5 and Scrip, now 5.5, will both enjoy playing with this, albeit D probably won’t have the precision to build the tallest towers or follow all the diagrams and the grown ups might be getting involved (which is no hardship). The space station top also glows in the dark and that’s one of the few plastic parts, but it’s not an essential bit.

There are a few fiddly bits needed to keep the marbles running smoothly and not dropping out the back, and it might take a bit of adjusting to make sure everything runs well (or maybe that’s just me!) but you soon get the hang of it. And I think this will be great as part of my desire to get Scrip more involved in STEM toys.

And the moment of truth? It took me about 10 minutes to build my run and then drop a series of marbles down to helter skelter their way through down in different directions, as the special blocks send them a range of ways, before falling into the collecting tray with a satisfying plop.

This is surely one the kids will love and I can’t wait to pop it under the tree for Christmas. The only problem is it’s a joint present, so let’s hope they share nicely.

Thanks to Hape for sending me a sample to review for the blog. The Space City Marble Run costs £84.99 RRP.

NOTHS: Christmas has got Scrip and Baby D’s names all over it!

My lovely sister donned her jingle bells for a preview of the notonthehighstreet Christmas collection this week. Here are her highlights. 

Anything personalised was always a big hit with me when I was little (remember those catalogues filled with pages of personalised coloured pens and pencils?) and if Scrip and Baby D are anything similar, NOTHS have got this aunty’s Christmas shopping sorted!

Tree decorations, wooden zoos, pyjamas, tents, dolls houses and Christmas stockings – you name it, you can have that special name put on it!


A personalised tent will keep those furry friends safe

There’s a cushion for the cat, a monogrammed chef’s apron for the big chef, a kitchen for the little chef – and a coffee pot for the whole family.

Oh, and if it’s a baby bear or a little badger you’re buying for, they’re covered too!

notonthehighstreet.com Christmas in July 2016

Baby bears can keep snuggly in this sweet sweater


Cute cubs cuddle up in this charming playsuit


There’s no mistaking the owner of this beautiful dolls house

They'll have sweet dreams in personalised pyjamas

They’ll have sweet dreams in personalised pyjamas

Original tree decorations

Original tree decorations – flamingos, pineapples and cactuses


Personalisation gets grown-up!

notonthehighstreet.com Christmas in July 2016

Christmas is looking beautiful at notonthehighstreet.com’s Christmas in July 2016

Baby’s first Christmas: the perfect Christmas stocking

Christmas stockingAlthough he won’t understand as much as his older (and very excited) sister, this is still baby D’s first Christmas. He’s already intrigued about the tree, the twinkly lights and lots of sparkly decorations hanging tantilisingly close to where he rolls.

He’s not lacking in baby toys or hand-me-down clothes (even though there tends to be a pink bias) but we’re making sure he’ll have his fair share of things to tear open and bite on come Christmas day. And one thing he already has is his own brand new stocking, courtesy of The White Company.

Baby D has the Dotty Stocking. It’s a chunky, stretchy knit in a stylish Scando-style. It looks homemade, is unisex and is pretty big – on the verge of a sack, actually. And the very good news is it’s currently on sale with 30% off, so it’s £24.50 (as at 12th December 2015).

We’re stocking up on chewable, rattle-able toys to fit inside and I’m hoping he’ll love pulling them out. We’ll just have to make sure he doesn’t wriggle inside the stocking himself on Christmas day!

Thanks to The White Company for the Dotty Stocking.


Win a pre-Christmas essentials pack

Win pre-Christmas Essentials

********And the winner is…. KP Borowy from Bolton. Congratulations and enjoy! Thank you to everyone who entered**********

I was asked in Clarks this week if I’ve finished my Christmas shopping. Finished? It’s barely December… I’ve hardly started. I’m obviously still a rookie parent but I’m actually pleased that I’ve at least bought one or two presents and have a growing iPhone notes page of ideas.

So as I fight my way through the crowds on Christmas Eve, I know I will appreciate a little extra help. If you’re at all like me, although I can’t provide a handy gift-wrapping elf, I can offer you the chance to win a few essentials to help your run up to Christmas go a little more smoothly.

Here’s what the prize includes:

The forgotten present: Mosaic Baylis & Harding Sweet Mandarin & Grapefruit Weekend Bag Gift Set
There’s always one… It’s nice to have a present in reserve (or even a little gift for you) stored away in your wardrobe. This gift bag is packed full of bath creme, shower gel, body wash, bath milk, body butter, hand & nail cream and body polisher. And the weekend bag it comes in with gold purse attached is stylish and useful.

For a silent-ish night: Lavender Essential Oil
If the stress of preparing for the big day means you can’t switch off, how about an essential oil to aid relaxation? Add a couple of drops to your pre-bedtime bath (well, you can dream). Lavender Pure Essential Oil £11.39 is also available from Holland & Barrett Stores and online.

For an energy boost: Emergen-C Vitamin C sachets
A cold before Christmas? Just what you don’t need. Emergen-C offers a double hit of energy release and immunity support in handy fast dissolving, wallet-sized sachets. Packing 1000mg of Vitamin C to support the immune system’s normal function and 6 B vitamins for energy release Emergenc-C costs £4.99 for a pack of 8 and is available from Boots stores nationwide.

For a health-conscious Father Christmas: Mince pies without the gluten
Available at Holland & Barrett for £2.89 for a pack of 4, Lovemore’s Gluten Free Mince Pies don’t sacrifice any of the flavour. Made with shortcrust pastry and deep-filled with mincemeat, they also contain no artificial colours or flavours.

For when the hard work is done: An Organic Midnight Mud Mask
You deserve a little me-time at Christmas. This Dr. Organic Dead Sea Mineral Bio-Plasma Mud Mask should help. Organic Dead Sea Mineral salt and Dead Sea Mud have a long history of skin purifying and health promoting properties and are combined with a blend of bioactive, natural and organic extracts, such as Kaolin, Plankton Extract and Algae Extract. £7.99 from Holland & Barrett.

Wishing you a peaceful December and good luck!

You can enter via the Rafflecopter widget below.

Terms & Conditions

  • Entrants must be 18 or over and UK residents.
  • The prize includes the products listed above.
  • Competition closes at 12.00am on 14th December 2015. Any entries submitted after this date will not be included.
  • The winner will be selected randomly from a prize draw and announced on 15th December 2015.
  • There is no cash prize alternative.


Enjoying a slow Christmas

Slow Toys CollageWe were lucky enough to have a Granddad who was skilled in carpentry, so growing up we were surrounded by a beautifully crafted wooden farm, garage, doll’s house, baby’s cot. The list went on. And we played with them, loved them and probably took them all for granted. Amazingly, a lot of them are still in good shape for my little girl to enjoy 30 something years later (following a good clean).

I had similar ambitions for her toys and she’s always had just as much fun playing with simpler toys as the coloured plastic, flashing lights ones. But a quick look at her toy box shows me I haven’t always got the balance between the two toy camps right. So this Christmas we’re going to do it differently. We’re embracing slow toys: for her and for the other children we buy for.

The Slow Toy Movement – started in 2011 – celebrates toys that are carefully made, not entirely plastic, are available at independent shops, display craft and, even better, won’t leave you rummaging around for four triple A batteries at 6am on Christmas morning. Any extra investment should be worth it for their longevity; hopefully some of them will last for my little one’s children in another few decades.

Here are my slow toys top five for Christmas 2014: Continue reading