Wednesday, 3 October 2018

One Big Puzzle Adventure

Charlotte and Joe recently decided to take on one of Ravensburger’s largest puzzles, entitled Colin Thompson Bookshelf and made up of 18,000 pieces! This is the story of their incredible 18-month build.

Did you complete puzzles as a child and if so what is your first memory of doing them?
As a child, I preferred to stay indoors and read, draw, do arts and crafts and puzzle. But my memories are vague. I remember doing the same puzzle a couple of times which had a bunch of people on the picture. I had fun trying to find the right face for the right person. But I don't remember what the picture was from. Joe remembers doing one of a gnome and it involved a deer. When he was a teenager, he made a 3d puzzle of the globe. He also lived with a family for a year who had and probably still have an interesting tradition for Christmas: the family makes a puzzle every year.

Do you complete jigsaw puzzles regularly? If so, which piece counts do you complete most often?
Not regularly. Before committing to this puzzle, I was doing another one on my own at my parents' place. It is of a painting by Van Gogh (Starry Night) and it contains 1000 pieces. I still haven't finished it. It's been 3 years or so. Maybe I should visit my parents more often. On the internet, I'm addicted to a puzzle called nonogram, which is a logic game. I also like to solve sudoku's, word puzzles and things like that. I do those fairly often.

Have you ever done a jigsaw as big as this before?

Why did you attempt this particular puzzle?
Joe admitted he influenced me when we started dating because he wanted to make a big puzzle -he was thinking 5000 pieces- for a very long time before he knew me. When he found out I also liked puzzles, we looked for one online and then promptly decided to choose the biggest one we could find. There were some other options, but we liked this design the best.

Where did you assemble it?
We did it at Joe's apartment. He has a spare room for clothes and guests, but now it has been converted into the ‘puzzle room’. It takes up the whole space. Guests had to sleep in the living room. When his sister visited for a week and needed more privacy, we had to put a mattress over the puzzle and hope she would not ruin anything. She didn't.
Once, when we had a party, 3 months after starting, Joe decided to carefully store away one-fourth of the puzzle we had completed to make room. He ended up destroying parts of it. It upset me more than it should.

Was it as easy/hard as you anticipated?
There were some easy parts, but sometimes it got harder, like for instance the bookcase itself with all those similar looking pieces (Joe assembled that part, it was too boring for me, I guess he did most of the hard work). I think we worked fairly quickly when we put our minds to it, but ran out of stamina and that's why it took us so long.

Other than you and Joe, did you allow anyone else to help?
No. Joe was very adamant about it. When people wanted to, he said: “Not without Charlotte". And I  wanted to do it with only him anyway. It was more special that way.

Did you ever feel like just giving up and packing it away before completing it?
No. We just took long breaks. But we still loved looking at it, even though it was unfinished.  And we proudly showed it to anybody who came over. The puzzle was never a source of frustration.

Did you follow a strict system or puzzling regime? Give an example of a typical puzzling day
I think the original plan was to have a puzzle evening one a week, but since we both have very different and flexible schedules, it was impossible to keep it up. When I came over in the evening, I was often too tired to focus on a puzzle. I preferred to puzzle during the day, for instance on Saturday, but Joe likes to sleep till late in the afternoon. Sometimes weeks or even a whole month passed that we didn't do any puzzling. My favourite kind of puzzle day was when we started early (2 pm) and then spent the rest of the day puzzling (especially on a rainy day). It's easy to forget time when doing and enjoying it. We had music and snacks. And before we knew it, it was 11pm. Once we were done for the day, Joe took a picture of our progress to put it on Facebook. Some people were intrigued, posted enthusiastic comments and followed our progress that way.

How was it spending that much time together as a couple?
I thought it was interesting to notice how different we actually are. Joe liked to work on big structures, so he would collect all pieces of the same colour and put those together without looking at the picture. I, on the other hand, grabbed piece by piece, looked at the picture and then looked for the correct spot. I think we started to understand and appreciate each other's methods. It was also fun to show each other an interesting looking piece we found. We invented names for some of the structures we were working on (‘the anxiety kettle’, ‘the zombie boat’) and helped each other with finding some of the pieces for those. We listened to lots of music, sang along (usually with made-up lyrics), joked around...

Have you taken the puzzle apart and put it back in the box yet? If not, what are your plans for the completed puzzle?  
Not yet. But we should. We are postponing. We'll enjoy it for a while before putting it back in the box. Then we'll probably share it with anybody who wants to give it a try.

Will you do another large piece count puzzle, and if so, which one do you have your sights on next?
Colin Thompson’s ABC puzzle that he is currently working on.

And finally, what did you enjoy most about the experience?
Joe said “zombie boat", jokingly.
We loved discovering the book titles and Colin's references throughout. It's definitely a great puzzle to work on with somebody or even with a couple of people since you can share your enthusiasm when you find something funny.

The very last piece (we saved it for last) was one I had named ‘little man in the elevator’ (in Dutch/Flemish ‘manneke in de lift’). I spent a very long time looking for this on the picture. When the puzzle was nearly done, I understood I was looking for the wrong thing this whole time. It was actually a portrait of a man inside a man's living room inside one of the shelves of the bookcase. All the little details were very enjoyable.

Puppy Gog Pals Giant Floor Puzzle

I absolutely love spending time with my children doing something as a team or learning together.
Turning off the t.v and computer is like a magical moment that needs to happen more often as we sometimes find interest in things that we would not normally enjoy.

Over the past couple of years, we have found a great interest in puzzles both large and small and because they're suitable for all ages and have so many different themes or collections, we can always find something new.

This month we were sent 'Puppy Dog Pals, 24 piece Giant Floor Puzzle' which to my youngest son was a great excitement.
My youngest son Joshua is currently 2 years old (nearly 3) and we are going through the fine motor skills learning of building and putting things together as well as taking things apart and so puzzles are a fantastic lesson for him not only visually but also physically.

Ravensburger's Giant Floor Puzzles are great fun, me and my boy sit on the floor and can spend a good hour or so putting them together or merely just looking at each individual piece and allowing him to become creative in his own little way , he even builds  little houses with them as the pieces are rather large and chunky and sturdy to hold.
The older children often whizz through these puzzles pretty fast so we try to hide away to allow him some time to learn for himself without them being there taking over as they normally would and once he has the idea and knows the puzzle he then brings in his older siblings to show them how clever he is putting it all together .

The floor puzzle is only a 24 piece in this case so I feel this is aimed more towards the younger children ages 3 to 7 , but the older children such as my 12 year old loves Puppy Dog Pals so really enjoyed this and actually requested we put it in a frame for her bedroom when we were finished with it .
This puzzle is so cheerful and bright that it fits well in our large family home and actually looks fun with a little resemblance of my own mischievous pups.

With Bingo and Rolly riding out with their Auto Doggie robotic friend, they look like they could be up to all sorts of adventures, but what are they going to get up to and where are they going?
It brings a great script of imagination to a child's mind once they complete the picture and see the final reveal and if you know anything about the two characters or even if you don't, you can see they are going to seek plenty of fun and thrills wherever they go.

The Ravensburger ' Puppy Dog Pals Giant Floor Puzzle' is a wonderful family puzzle that can be played with time over time and because it's made with quality it will last those smaller hands longer.

What puzzle will we try next?

Come back and find out soon.



Both my children love reaching for a jigsaw puzzle when they are feeling a little bored and want something fun to do. We have a huge pile already in our house and they love the feeling of accomplishment that comes with seeing the full image at the end. It helps when it's a fun character that they like! 

Ravensburger very kindly sent E one of their Paw Patrol Four Large Shaped Puzzles sets and she was so excited to get started. Paw Patrol is one of her favourite shows with a special love of Everest and Skye. 

Inside the box you get 52 puzzle pieces in different sizes, depending on what puzzle they are for. One puzzle has 10 pieces, another 12, one 14 and finally one at 16 pieces. 

As E has only just turned four, I gave her a little help. She was able to split the pieces into piles happily, knowing which piece was for which puzzle just by looking at the image on the box. 

In the end, it took her no longer than around 30 minutes to complete all four, letting out a little shriek of excitement and pointing out which characters she could see. Each puzzle depicts a different scene and I liked the addition of words as, now she has started nursery, we are working on letter sounds. All four are full of colour and so pretty to look at. 

The Ravensburger Paw Patrol Four Large Shaped Puzzles retail at £9.99 and is suitable for children aged 3+. You can purchase your own at Amazon.


Ravensburger offer a large variety of jigsaws to suit young and not so young, everyone loves to do a jigsaw and it is a perfect match if you are wanting a bit of ‘me time’. I love Ravensburger jigsaws, they are always fantastic quality and a brand that over time I have found to be fantastic quality and stand above others.
But Ravensburger don’t just do the standard wooden jigsaw, no, they also do 3D jigsaw suited for adults and children. We have a 3D Minion Ravensburger puzzle that we took away with us on holiday last year, and Jake was really happy that he got to create a minion and a puzzle that he was able to keep out on display!


We have been sent Ravensburger 3D Planetary Solar System Set to review and I personally couldn’t wait to get started. As you can quite see, it looks amazing and gives an instant ‘wow’ effect. The 3D puzzles are scaled to represent the different sizes of the planets and with this set of 8 different 3D puzzles you can build and create the Solar System in miniature.
The contents of the box:-
Saturn and Jupiter have 108 pieces
Uranus and Neptune have 72 pieces
Earth and Venus have 54 pieces
Mars and Mercury have 27 pieces
Planetary stands
Clear thread for use for hanging
Cardboard push out rings for Saturn & Uranus
Cardboard push out rings to create the sun
Large reversible poster
The set is amazing, and contains 522 pieces all together. We first started on the creation of the planets, taking one planet out at a time so pieces wouldn’t get mixed up with others, each puzzle piece is printed with a number on the reverse side, so you can either assemble the puzzle by eye, or just by following the numbers.
The puzzle was really enjoyable to put together, we did it in number order adding each consecutive number after another.
Each puzzle has curved, high quality plastic pieces and comes with with its own stand so the whole set can sit on the colourful Solar System poster (which includes facts about each of the planets) and is also perfect for children as they learn about the Solar System, so they can see the size of the planets in comparison to Earth. This set just makes the mind open up to the size of the worlds around us. This puzzle uses unique plastic pieces, which slot together to build this sturdy and strong model. No glue required!
The detailing on the planets is also really high with the colours showing brilliantly and each planets features presented well.
The planets can also be suspended by clear thread, Jake wants these to be in his bedroom from hanging from the ceiling which we will put up after we have decorated it. To add the thread all you need to do is tie a few knots into the thread and push through the hollow planet and then place the final puzzle piece on and this will secure the thread into place and won’t come back through when being hung.
The set also includes a kit so you can assemble the Sun which to me was a bit more trickier to put together.
I pushed out the rings from the cardboard and then made a knot into the inner ring, working the way out by knotting, and leaving gaps, and continuing this process until complete.
The sun is now complete and hangs very well with the rings spinning with ease.
Here we have our complete Solar System set.  We are really happy at how well these came together and it feels like a great achievement. I’m excited to get these hung in Jake’s room once I have finished decorating within the next few weeks and can’t wait to see how they look.


Ravensburger have over 100 years’ worth of experience in the manufacture of puzzles. Not only do they make the best selection of puzzles, but also pride themselves on having the highest quality. The Ravensburger 3D Planetary Solar System Puzzle is suitable for ages 7 years and up and I definitely recommend for adults too. It has been great to do and watch as it builds up is quite amazing.
Don’t be worried about the planets falling apart, as once they are made they are very firmly in place. Jake and Grace have spent a good while playing with them and positioning the planets on the Solar System poster without the planets breaking. So rest assured about this as I know this ran through my mind at first when I seen the 3D puzzles as I thought they may just break. Definitely top marks on this set from us, we love it and I think its great that Jake and Grace are learning through this puzzle too.
The puzzle is available from Amazon

The Country Cottage 100-piece jigsaw puzzle from Ravensburger

easy 100 piece jigsaw puzzle

Why, one day in the country
Is worth a month in town;
Is worth a day and a year
Of the dusty, musty, lag-fast fashion 
That day's drone elsewhere.
(Summer, Christina Rossetti)

We have a book called A poem for every night of the year, which we open randomly and read a poem once in a while. Not every day, mind you, but one every few days perhaps. Eddie likes listening to poems and even dabbles in his own poetry.
As I was reading Christina Rossetti's beautiful poem, I thought how modern it sounds. Not dated at all, as if it were written only yesterday.
And while I couldn't possibly live in the country, I enjoy visiting it, staying for a few days and recharging the batteries.
Christina's words sprang to my mind, as I was working on a new 100-piece jigsaw puzzle from Ravensburger - The Country Cottage.
When Eddie saw the box, he told me: "It's going to take you 5 minutes to finish it". It was a bit more than that, but yes, it didn't take long.

easy jigsaw puzzles with larger pieces

It shows a quaint thatched cottage on a quiet country lane.
It reminded me of a trip to one of the Cotswolds villages many years ago, when a couple of friends took Mum and me around the local countryside. We left the car and were admiring an old thatched cottage when an elderly lady came out of her garden and invited us in. Having found out that my Mum and I were from Russia, she told her husband to show us some of his Merry Dancing moves. They were so kind and welcoming. They must have been gone for many years, as they were pretty old even then, but I remember them fondly. Their house was a warren of small rooms, all interconnected, with the old fireplaces and low beams. It was like going back in time.

The cottage in the puzzle is bursting with colours of the blooms and flowers around it. There are red and pink roses and bright blue delphiniums.
The white doves are resting on the thatched roof.

easy jigsaw puzzles

The cottage owner is having her skewbald horse shod, while his little dog is waiting patiently for the job to be done.

jigsaw puzzles about countryside

The views over the valley are strikingly beautiful and serene.

easy jigsaw puzzle

The Ramblers must have just been for a walk across the fields and the hills. Behind them, a young family are stroking a chestnut horse.

easy jigsaw puzzles

Even the van looks pretty vintage. This nostalgic scene is colourful and detailed.
Extra large pieces are sturdy and easy to handle, great for fiddle-free puzzling. The pieces are made from strong premium grade cardboard, with linen finish print to minimise glare on puzzle image.
The completed puzzle measures 49x36cm.

This is a puzzle to enjoy when you're pressed for time, and just have a short break to relax.
The pieces are large and easy to find.

Sunday, 2 September 2018

The Stately Home; How Do You Spend Your Days Out?

Summer is a great time for getting up and going out and exploring; whether it’s going abroad, or closer to home.  The UK has many a great stately home to visit.  Of course, not every day can be picture perfect, so it’s great to keep a puzzle ready when you need a little down time or the weather isn’t conducive for a picnic.

Ravensburger kindly sent us this puzzle last month after Tristan said he would like to do it.  However, it’s been Kallista who has been doing more of the work on it than her brother.  That’s the way it goes, sometimes, isn’t it?!
I would love to live in England where there are many of these big, beautiful estates run by the National Trust to visit.  Unfortunately, here in Northern Ireland there are only one or two.  How fun would it be to pack a picnic and sit out on a well-manicured lawn and pretend that you were simply dining in your own back garden.
We had a few very busy weeks filled with events for the children, after which we were ready for a little down time to relax and just be calm, quiet, and still.  Or at least I did!

Kallista got things going one morning by getting up early and putting the majority of the frame together on her own.  Later I helped her sort out the rest of the pieces.
This puzzle we put together a little differently because we didn’t complete the full frame first, but began working on the picnic blanket the pond, and part of the car before completing the sky part of the frame.  Sometimes you just have to mix things up a little!

Next it was the grassy at the bottom of the puzzle that was completed before starting in on the driveway.  Then it was time to add a few pieces here and there before moving onto the sky.  We already had some of the Red Arrows and various birds flying past.  Many sky pieces look similar, so I tried something new and arranged the sky pieces by their shape. Yes, that might be a little weird, but it worked well and the pieces were now found with speed and ease to complete the left half of the sky before moving onto the right half.

Now all that was left to do was the stately home itself!  We worked our way in from the edges, filling in the parts with bushes and flowers, pieces of sky, and then going by the slight colour variations the rest of the home was completed.

There, it was all done in not too much time!  Kallista was sure to be there for the last piece, as usual!
And she insisted that I must take a photo and include it…she thinks it’s magical how Ravensburger puzzles have a soft-click technology that means the pieces are easy to put together, but won’t fall apart so easily so you don’t have to worry as much about bumping your puzzle while it is in progress…and it makes it more fun to put away when you’re done.