Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Mischievous Meerkats Jigsaw Puzzle 500pc – Review

Ravensburger Mischievous Meerkats Jigsaw Puzzle 500pc - Review

I find it so relaxing doing a big jigsaw. You can waste hours away just in a world of your own. I find them so therapeutic. When asked would we like to try Ravensburger Mischievous Meerkats Jigsaw Puzzle I jumped at the chance. Unfortunately I didn’t get chance to relax and watch the hours go by in my own little word because I just couldn’t find the time. My mother in law loved it though and completed it in just 6 hours. She didn’t do it all at once it took a few sittings. 

The jigsaw is made by Ravensburger and is called Mischievous Meerkats. It has 500pc to the puzzle. The jigsaw is made from strong premium grade cardboard, with linen finish print to minimise glare on puzzle image. The finished puzzle measures 49 x 36 cm when complete. Suitable for ages 10 years and up.

How do you complete a jigsaw? I giggled to myself when I saw how Marie had split the outside edges first as this is exactly how I do big jigsaw. I have taught my children to do it this was as well.
Ravensburger Mischievous Meerkats Jigsaw Puzzle 500pc - Review
I am then a bit of a gambler and place the pieces when I work out were they go. Marie was meticulous and worked her way up from the bottom which I suppose makes more sense and would have probably made my life easier all these years.
Ravensburger Mischievous Meerkats Jigsaw Puzzle 500pc - Review
The completed jigsaw is so cute and certainly one you could varnish and frame for your wall. My auntie used to do this with jigsaws she liked. They make great unique wall pieces.
Ravensburger Mischievous Meerkats Jigsaw Puzzle 500pc - Review

You can see that Marie has used a puzzle matt for doing this jigsaw. I must admit I am a little envious and need to invest in one myself. Unless you have a dining table that is always empty then these matts are great to pull in and out as when you have time to work on the puzzle. 

Wednesday, 10 May 2017


We are a big puzzle loving family. I was an only child for the first ten years of my life and there was nothing I loved more than either reading or doing a puzzle. Luckily, my children have developed that same love.

My four year old son C is becoming a lot more inquisitive since he started preschool. He is constantly asking questions about literally everything and he's really great at remembering everything that he is being taught. When Ravensburger offered us the chance to review their Endangered Animals Giant Floor Puzzle, I jumped at it as I thought it would be great educational resource.

There are 60 puzzle pieces and each piece is quite large, about the size of my hand, meaning that the finished puzzle really does live up to its name of "floor puzzle" by measuring 70x50cm. The puzzle shows 100 endangered animals against a world map so you can see exactly where each animal comes from and can be found. Where animals come from is not something that C has learned much about yet so he was really interested to find out. A lot of the actual animals shown were new to him too. As well as this, it also taught him about different continents and what the names of the oceans are. In typical C fashion, he had a million questions about each animal so I could tell that he was really interested in it.

Although the puzzle is recommended for children aged 4+, he did need a bit of help and proved to be a bit challenging for him. Luckily we had no meltdowns and he let mummy help him out! I love that the animals weren't just confined to one piece as I felt finding the other half or part of the animal helped him put it together.

The puzzle comes with a numbered data sheet where you could learn the real names of the animals. C knew quite a few such as chimpanzee and polar bear but the more obsure ones like humphead wrasse and Russian desman were completely new to him. One of my favourite things about this puzzle is that the Equator, Arctic and Antarctic circles and tropics of cancer and capricorn are included. These were of much interest to C at the moment but as he learns more about the world, he'll understand them better. 

I think this puzzle is absolutely fantastic in terms of educational value plus it makes learning fun! The finished puzzle is wonderfully bright, colourful and inviting and the illustrations are perfect for young children. In typical Ravensburger fashion, the pieces are cut and smoothed which make them great for little hands.

The Ravensburger Endangered Animals Giant Floor Puzzle retails at £9.99. You can find out more at the Ravensburger website or you can keep up to date on Twitter

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

What If? Escape to the Seaside – Puzzle by Ravensburger

The What If? puzzles by Ravensburger come with a twist in that the picture on the front of the box isn’t all that it seems.  With ‘Escape to the Seaside’, No. 17 in the series, it may look like an idyllic holiday home but the puzzle inside isn’t quiet as perfect as it let’s you think.  It’s then up to you to work out what’s going on and piece the bits together accordingly.  What a great way to get the family around the table by competing to find the next piece in a jigsaw puzzle and it gets us glued every time, the addiction in finding a piece that fits, the one to work out where each section goes right up until you get to put the final piece in place.
The popular WHAT IF? puzzle series is created by West Midlands based artist Geoff Tristram and consists of high quality 1000 piece cardboard jigsaw puzzles.  A good size once complete they are 70 x 50cm.  Being a twist on a traditional puzzle they are recommended for ages 12+.
The scene is set:
Henry Knightsbridge has always dreamt of Finding a little hideaway by the sea. He thinks he has found the ideal place in pen draw in, Cornwall. He can’t believe the estate agents (fleasum and bowlte) accepted his offer – it was such a bargain! but what if Henry has been swept away by the beauty of the location? and what if the view from Seaview cottage wasn’t quite what Henry expected? the picture on the puzzle box shows Henry, Chloe, Tarquin and tabatha’s arrival at Seaview cottage, whilst the puzzle actually shows their introduction to life by the seaside.
I really enjoyed starting this off by finding all of the edge pieces, they went together quite easily even though I wasn’t sure what colours were on each side to start with.  It got a lot trickier trying to complete the inside as even if you are able to piece together certain parts, you don’t know where to lay them on the puzzle so after making lots of different sections I then had to drag them around the puzzle trying to find out what part of the scene they fitted into.  I really enjoyed doing this puzzle and it kept me busy over a couple of days in the evenings.
Here are some small glimpses of the finished puzzle and the full picture is underneath, so stop scrolling now if you don’t want to see the finished design.
With a bit of help from some family that visited, we were all really excited to see the puzzle come together and see what the finished picture looked like.  It was definitely fun to do, unlike any other puzzle I’ve tried and a challenge that I’d like to try again in the future!
Below is our finished puzzle:

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…’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.