May 16

365 fabulously inventive things you can make with Lego

The lovely people are Dorling Kindersley have just sent me a cracking book for Lego fans – 365 Things to Do with LEGO Bricks.

It’s a great book for, perhaps, slightly older children who like to build useful stuff with their Lego. It’s absolutely chockablock full of really inventive things you can build with Lego, slightly away from the usual things like castles, garages and houses.

There are hundreds (365, obviously!) of great ideas from building a Lego version of snakes and ladders to a Lego graph to a theatre stage and a rather cool mobile. Among my favourites are a lock and key, a hinged pencil box, a Lego movie set and a box for storing remote controllers.

Dorling Kindersley are masters at publishing beautifully illustrated books and this one is no exception. A fabulous book for inspiring new ideas from your young builders. Highly recommended.

You can order it here: http://amzn.to/2pC7uPf

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March 26

Reaching for the sky at Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower

I’ve just visited the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth for the fourth time – and I never get bored of seeing my home city from way up in the sky!

I first went up the Spinnaker Tower when it opened in October 2005 (I was lucky enough to win tickets to the grand opening!) and I’ve since been to a gig there and, most splendidly, to the wedding of some very dear friends.

This was the first time I’d taken my children and that made this visit rather special (my son had gazed at it many times from the Gunwharf Quays restaurant and shopping complex and his visit was very overdue!) and they were very excited.

The tower stands 560 feet tall (that’s two-and-a-half time higher than Nelson’s Column) and it offers remarkable views of the surrounding area including the town of Gosport and Portsmouth Harbour and historic dockyard and as well as further along the south coast including the Isle of Wight and apparently as far as Worthing on a clear day. 

While the views are quite fantastic, with something new to see all the time, walking on the glass floor is an experience not to be missed. Peering down hundreds of feet while just stood on glass just a few inches thick is not perhaps one for people scared of heights (although seeing abseiling windows cleaners in action below, kind of keeps it in perspective!).

Since my first visit to the tower one of my initial criticisms, that being a lack of a cafe or restaurant at the top which I thought was a ridiculous decision and a real waste of money-making potential, has been addressed and the cafe now offers light lunches, drinks and ice creams.

The Spinnaker Tower is well worth a visit and it remains one of the best places to have a cup of tea in the country. Perfect for all ages! 

February 12

Reaching for the sky – with a stacking solution for Lego

Small Son (and I!) love Lego but we’ve always found building taller structures tricky as Lego base-plates aren’t very good for using as roofs.

Well now a company based in the United States called Strictly Briks have solved that problem with the own range of Lego compatible base plates and special bricks which are used to build stack-able structures for storage and play.

Available in a range of colours, the base-plates are indistinguishable from actual Lego and frankly, it’s a bit odd that Lego itself hasn’t filled this obvious gap its range. 

The plates are great for children constructing buildings but they also make good higher level storage solutions, which is useful if you’ve got loads and loads of Lego and not enough bedroom space to have it all out all across your child’s bedroom.

Strictly Briks also do a range of even larger base-plates (which cann’t be stacked) but which come is a far wider colour range that those available from Lego. These are great for large scale play and we’re planning to fix a couple to Small Son’s bedroom wall to allow mini-figures to be displayed in picture form.

They also make silicone base-plates in a wide range of shapes and colours which are perfect for easy storage and for travelling, if you have small people who like their Lego to go on holiday with them!

Most of the Strictly Briks range is available for both small standard Lego and also for Duplo. It’s all very reasonably priced and available direct from www.strictlybriks.com and from retailers such as Amazon. Highly recommended 🙂

 

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