Tuesday, 25 April 2017

A Day At The Beach - Review

Are you thinking about taking a trip to the beach this year?  Will it be one nearby, or maybe a vacation destination?  Or perhaps going to a real beach isn’t on your radar this year, but you’d still like to relax and be there in mind, if not in body.  I’ve found a way for you to do just that…why not spend a day at the beach in the comfort of your own cozy home by putting together a jigsaw puzzle!
Spend a day at the beach without leaving the house with Ravensburger and Castle View Academy homeschool
Thankfully the children are now feeling much better since Kallista put together her Beauty and The Beast glitter puzzle!  However, with the stress (the good kind) of family coming to visit and getting things ready, we’ve all since ended up with general spring colds…but our minds were taken off that when Ravensburger sent us A Day At The Beach 500 piece puzzle! (This post contains affiliate links)
It’s been a very long time since we’ve put together a 500 piece puzzle.  Usually they are smaller 100 0r 200 piece jobs for the kids to do, or 1000 piece puzzles for the family.  But you know what?  I forgot about how fun a 500 piece can be!  They’re just large enough to be a challenge, but not so big that they take such a long time to put together.  Just perfect for a couple of afternoons when you’re not feeling well or maybe when you’re at the cottage and it’s raining too much to actually go down to the beach!
Doing a puzzle during a rainy day is fun at Castle View Academy homeschool
With everything happening right now (spring cleaning, refinishing the kids’ dresser-which I finally finished over the weekend, and it’s looking great!) I wasn’t sure about adding a puzzle into the mix.  However, Phil walked past the PC when I was looking at this puzzle and immediately recognised this beach from his years living in England.  This particular beach isn’t too far from where he lived and worked!  So of course, we were all interested in putting it together.
When it arrived, we set up the kids’ little table in the hallway and opened up our useful Puzzle Handy.  There was just enough room by the kids’ science centre.
Castle View Academy has a math element in our science centre thanks to Ravensburger
We didn’t wait for Phil to come home, we took out the pieces and started to separate them by edge and centre right away.  We needed a bit of a break and we were all feeling a bit worn out, so we took it slow and just enjoyed spending time with each together that wasn’t focused on schoolwork.
We began putting pieces together as we did the initial sort-through.  Tristan put together the rainbow stripes and Kallista worked on the sky edges.  I added to the puppet theatre as pieces were found.
Tapping in the last puzzle piece for A Day At The Beach at Castle View Academy homeschool
Then it was time to get back to work so we stood up and went about our other duties.  With having the puzzle in the hallway, it was so easy to just pick up a piece and slot it into place as we walked past all day long.  It was surprising how much of the puzzle was completed in this fashion!
The next day we all sat down again and did a little  before starting our classes.  I needed to do some cleaning in the hallway so I moved the puzzle to the front room…and that evening Phil finished it off when the kids were in bed!
I wanted to get a picture of everyone with the puzzle, but the next day Phil was back to work, and….as Tristan was trying to move the puzzle a little to straighten it up, it buckled and a large portion of the centre came apart.  Thankfully there weren’t any tears – the kids both just enjoyed the opportunity to put the pieces back together again and tap in the final pieces themselves.  A win-win 🙂
A Day at the Beach is done at Castle View Academy homeschool
This was a fun puzzle, and just the right size for a shorted period of time.  I’d recommend it for people who need a little get-away without leaving the house, or those who are not feeling well.  It’s not so big as to be overwhelming; it doesn’t really take up a lot of room (it’s the same size as a children’s 100 piece puzzle), and of curse, the best thing of all…..it’s fun!
I should also mention that the puzzle has an anti-reflective element to it and I didn’t find that the overhead spotlights caused any trouble.  Puzzles that glare in the light aren’t very easy to do, and Ravensburger has found a way to keep the integrity of the puzzle picture while at the same time making it easier for us to put together.
When was the last time you did a jigsaw puzzle?  If you’re looking for something to keep your mind and fingers working during the long, cold, wet and windy days of winter that is sure to fall upon us soon, give this puzzle a try!T

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Colin Thompson's Colouring Book Review

Colin Thompson, the world's best-loved jigsaw puzzle artist, is one of my favourite modern illustrators. I have enjoyed quite a few of his wonderful jigsaw puzzles (see, for example, my reviews of Flying Home and The Inventor's Cupboard).
I was thrilled to discover that I can revisit his unique designs in a new colouring book for adults.

Ravensburger Colin Thompson's Funtastic Adult Colouring Book is a splendid gift to all fans of this remarkable artist.

There are 72 pages in total, which will take you many hours to complete. I have only started working on it, doing slowly a few details at a time, as a chance to relax. I imagine it will be my long-running project to complete.
There are 35 double page spreads taken from Thompson's popular jigsaw puzzles. Some I have recognised at once - like The Inventor's Cupboard or The Bizarre Bookshop, some are completely new to me.

colouring books for adults

Each design is printed in half-tones for the increased depth. Illustrations are crammed with amazing wacky creatures. Fantastic landscapes and bookshelves, architectural constructions and flying machines, quirky animals and humans, each illustration tells a story.
I love reading all the book titles, which are puns on the famous books - for example, Last Mango in Paris, The Great Brain Robbery, The Spy Who Came in With a Cold, The Satanic Nurses, The Taming of the Yew, Tizer with Rosie, Lord of the Files, and many more, some more amusing than the others.

The designs are printed on high quality paper. I have used very basic colouring pens from a Poundshop, and I think I need to invest in good quality watercolour pencils to do justice to this clever book. Felt pens are too bright and cover too much of the intricate shading.

Some designs are easy - for the hesitant colourist, maybe a beginner - finishing which will inspire you to move...

... to more intricate designs...

...and some rather fiendish pages for the intrepid colouring fans.

I was delighted to see some of my old favoruites which I enjoyed piecing as jigsaw puzzles, like this - The Red Box. The design shows a magic oriental red lacquer box, with lots of drawers. You find all sorts of hidden treasures inside, as well as some mystic mini-figures.
You'll see a beautiful Blue Willow patterned piece and a red lantern, a golden koi carp, elegant old pieces of china, a smiling Buddha and much more.

colouring books for adults

The book is suitable for ages 12+, but it might also appeal to younger audience. Eddie is 6 (7 in summer), but he was fascinated with the book. He looks enviously at my colouring and begged me to let him do some colouring as well. I suggested he could choose some pages to work on, but warned him to be very careful and attentive to detail.

So far he did just a few little details.

Colouring for grown-ups is a trendy these days, and this book will give hours of pleasure to all colouring enthusiasts.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Ravensburger My First Pet XXL 200 Piece Jigsaw Review

Lara and Holly tend to do a lot of jigsaws or play a lot of board games after school these days but I had been starting to feel that they are both out-growing our collection of jigsaw puzzles; thankfully, Ravensburger have reminded me that jigsaws don't just have to be for tiny people to learn problem-solving skills, but are also a great source of fun challenge for older children and this 200 piece My First Pet jigsaw has really got Lara back into puzzles.
Over the past week Lara has been working on this puzzle a little bit at a time. It is a large puzzle about 40cm by 36cm when fully made. With 200 pieces and a fairly complex design, it took Lara about three evenings to complete.

The design was very much admired by both my girls so I often found Holly helping out her sister. They both quickly grasped that the blue and white gingham design wasn't just around the edges, but also throughout the jigsaw between each animal. The design features lots of different cute pets from a chincilla to a terrapin and a hedgehog to a pony. We particularly like the sleepy kitten.

Given the size and the length of time to construct, we got the girls to move the puzzle onto a board so that we could move it out of the way when needed - this is the first time they'd used a puzzle board and it worked really well. The finished design looks really grand on the board.

This My First Pet XXL Jigsaw jigsaw costs less than £10 on amazon and is of the same great quality that I'd expect from any Ravensburger puzzle. I'm expecting the girls to be constructing this one many many times over the coming years. It is recommended for children from 8 years old but I think an adventurous 5 year old like Holly would also enjoy it if they have the staying power!

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Ravensburger Best of British No.18 - Used Car Lot, 1000pc Jigsaw Puzzle

Buying a car can be a stressful experience, and never more so than if you buy from “Honest Harry's”. Is Harry really as honest as he claims? His vehicles are certainly inexpensive, but it’s definitely a case of “buyer beware”! check the descriptions very carefully because the RAC and AA car of the month may not be everything you want or expect it to be!

High quality 1000 piece cardboard jigsaw puzzle. The finished puzzle measures 70 x 50 cm when complete. Suitable for ages 12 years and up. Made from strong premium grade cardboard, with linen finish print to minimise glare on puzzle image. 

About the artist.
Geoff Tristram has been a highly successful professional artist and cartoonist for over 35 years, and his work can be found on fine art prints, collector's plates, greetings cards, postage stamps and, of course, jigsaw puzzles. Geoff is also an author and has written a series of popular comedy novels featuring his alter ego, David day. 

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Animal Jam puzzle review

Ready to unleash your wild side? add to your ever growing collection of animal Jam characters with these fantastic 49 piece puzzles. Each of the 3 puzzles have so much detail to explore. From the rain forest to the ocean, puzzle all of your favourite characters. See how many animals you can find! 

Each of the puzzles is printed with a different pattern on the reverse side, so the puzzles can be sorted before assembly. High quality 3 x 49 piece cardboard jigsaw puzzles. The finished puzzles measure 17 x 17cm when complete. Suitable for ages 5 years and up. Made from strong premium grade cardboard, with linen finish print to minimise glare on puzzle image. 

At Ravensburger we have over 100 years’ worth of experience in the manufacture of puzzles. Not only do we make the best selection of puzzles, we also pride ourselves on having the highest quality. Individual pieces are stamped with such precision that a quiet "click" can be heard when one piece is inserted in the other - this phenomenon is so unique that we have given it its own name ‘soft click technology.’ our puzzles are made using unique punching templates and punching tools, which are hand-crafted with watchmaker precision to ensure the greatest possible accuracy and variety of the puzzle pieces.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017


....... to be able to run hundreds maybe thousands of pounds worth of gems and jewels through your hands and fingers.

It must be an astonishing feeling,  holding the intricate delicate gems, brooches and necklaces.

Ravensburger have created a jigsaw that comes close to this.   It is a new puzzle called
'Glittering Gemstones'.   A 1000 piece tantalising, challenging but not impossible puzzle.

The photograph for this puzzle was taken by Greg Shepherd who is based in Devon.  The image captures all of the glamour, glitz and glitter of vintage costume jewellery.   He found it quite challenging to create this photograph as he says 
"Bling was not his thing!"
However, when the gems and jewel,s arrived Greg knew exactly what to do with them and this gorgeous puzzle was created. 

You can see from the two images above how delicate and sophisticated some of the gems and jewels are and this leads to a very challenging jigsaw puzzle.  However there are also some good features that you can pick out and locate to assist you in completing the jigsaw. 

The puzzles are premium quality which have the soft click technology to its pieces. This is an elaborate process which has been developed based on decades of experience.  Specially formulated cardboard together with museum grade embossed paper reduces the glare while maintaining the colour brilliance of every image. 

Ravensburger offer a variety of jigsaws in all levels of experience.  

If you buy and enjoy the jigsaw above they also have a puzzle called Water Birds and another called Sedum Cottage.   Both of these contain 1000 pieces. 

Or if you would like a fun filled comedy puzzle, that is designed to get you thinking, why not try a 'What if!?' puzzle
These reflect this simple fact and are designed to tease your brain and make you laugh.  The picture on the front of the jigsaw is not what the puzzle image is, so you need to imagine what might happen to the scene or characters depicted.  There are clues on the front of the box and also on the reverse side. 

All in all Ravensburger would have a Jigsaw puzzle to suit your taste. 

Happy Jigsaw making.  I love them. 

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Beauty And The Beast Puzzle review

Are your children looking forward to the upcoming Beauty and The Beast movie?  Here in the UK, it’s out in cinemas on Friday, and my children are looking forward to having a special afternoon out with us parents to go as a family.  It isn’t often we go out to movies all together, which makes it even more fun.  Kallista is even more enthused to go now that she’s been working on the brand new Beauty and The Beast Puzzle!
Turn beastly days into days of glittery fun with te Beauty and the Beast Puzzle, it's working for Castle View Academy!
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When the opportunity to try out this new Glittery XXL 100 Piece Beauty and the Beast Puzzle from Ravensburger came up, I knew that Kallista would really enjoy it… and the timing couldn’t have been better.  The puzzle was shipped out on Friday and by the time it arrived on Monday, Kallista had broken out in a body full of spots…just as we thought it was safe to continue with life as normal, she’d caught them from Tristan, who had been over them for a week or so.
Kallista was feeling rotten and was in pain; but the look on her face when I told her that the package the postperson delivered was for her, was fabulous!
Opening a package from Ravensburger at Castle View Academy homeschool
She opened it up before lunch, and then began on it after.  In the meantime, Tristan had noticed that the puzzle included GLITTER!!  But he kept quiet so as not to ruin Kallista’s joy when she discovered it for herself.
Yes, after opening up the inner bag and pouring out the puzzle pieces onto our Puzzle Handy, Kallista noticed the glitter and brightened right up!  This is her first puzzle that sparkles!
She carefully divided her puzzle pieces into piles of edge pieces and inner pieces.   Then using the lines on the Puzzle Handy, she began constructing the frame of the puzzle.
Working on the Glittery 100 piece Beauty and The Beast Puzzle at Castle View Academy homeschool
Of course, she then started on inserting the inner pieces and started to see the picture take shape.
Usually, Kallista will finish a puzzle in one sitting, but she was just so tired from her spots that she had to stop for a rest.  She continued the next day after a visit to the doctor.  Knowing that she had a new and fabulous puzzle back at home to complete kept her going as we walked from the doctor’s office to the chemist and back home again.
At last, the Beauty And The Beast was complete!  She was so happy!
Then she took it apart….
Beauty and The Beast Puzzle is completed at Castle View Academy homeschool
And began building it again.
This time it’s still together so that she can see it each time she enters the front room.  Yes, it’s been there for a week!  Kallista loves the added sparkle of the glitter and now she’s really looking forward to the movie this Friday when she’ll once again be well and back to her usual sparkly self.
Beauty and The Beast is aimed at children aged six and up; though it will also work well for some children of younger years.  this has been the perfect distraction for chicken pox and taking Kallista’s mind off being itchy and in pain.  It’s quiet and not bright and flashy so it doesn’t hurt the ears or eyes.  A puzzle is something that a child can do all at one time, or do a few pieces now and then.  It keeps the brain sharp, and the fine motor skills working.  So it’s really the perfect thing for kids to do when they’re not feeling so well.
Beauty and the Beast
If your children like Disney movies, airy tales, and a good story, they’ll enjoy this glittery Beauty and The Beast puzzle.  And parents; you don’t have to worry, the glitter is stuck on well and I haven’t been plagued wit hit all over the house, so I’m very happy as well!  A win-win puzzle all around.
Ravensburger Disney Beauty & The Beast XXL 100pc Jigsaw Puzzle is available through fine retail stores and Amazon.co.uk.
The Ravensburger Puzzle Handy is also available from Amazon.co.uk and retail outlets.
Review by Castle View Academy