A UK Travel, Food & Family Lifestyle Blog

Monday, 31 October 2016

Zoomer Chimp - A 'Must Have' Toy for Christmas 2016 | A Review

*We were sent this item for review. This article contains affiliate links.

Zoomer Chimp by Spinmaster has been hyped as one of this year's 'must have' Christmas toys. With an RRP of £119.99 (although currently on sale for £89.99 via Amazon here), it is definitely the type of toy you would give as a 'main' present. £100 ish for a robotic toy is a lot of money and I will admit that I was skeptical - would it be worth the cash? We were sent our very own Zoomer Chimp to try out and I can hand on heart say it's a big fat yes - we LOVE him and it's as if he part of the family now.

Zoomer Chimp - A 'Must Have' Toy for Christmas 2016 | A Review, How to guide and Tutorial.

Zoomer Chimp Review | Sit down command

Zoomer Chimp Review | sitting

Zoomer Chimp has bags and bags of personality and is really cheeky. He has three modes:-
  • Automatic mode
  • Command mode
  • Guard mode

Zoomer Chimp Review | Ready for action

Automatic Mode


Automatic mode is when Zoomer Chimp has been switched on and left to find his own adventures. He is actually quite adorable as he roams around the room, dancing, singing and generally looking for mischief. Very entertaining! If you put your hand under his nose and beckon him towards you, he'll follow you around the room too.

Zoomer Chimp Review | automatic mode

Command Mode


Command mode has definitely been our favourite. Zoomer Chimp is pretty clever and reacts to 10 various voice commands including 'Go Bananas', 'Let's Dance' and 'Flip'. He is honestly SO much fun and the way the kids interact with him kind of makes me think that this is what they'd be like if we bought a puppy. Zoomer's body is super flexible and if he falls over, he'll easily stand back up again. I LOVE it when he's feeling particularly cheeky and rolls on his back, kicks his legs in the air and starts laughing right from his belly. You can't help but laugh along. 

Zoomer Chimp Review | voice commands

Guard Mode


Guard mode has the kids in stitches. Zoomer Chimp will protect your possessions or guard your bedroom and if anyone dares to go near he will CHARGE at you and force you away. Haha I love the pic further down this page of Zoomer Chimp chasing Jack around the room - hilarious! 

Zoomer Chimp Review | guard mode


How To Use Zoomer Chimp


One of the huge plus points for me is that Zoomer Chimp does not require batteries. Halleluliah! The worry with expensive toys like this is that once the batteries have ran out they'll be soon forgotten about. Zoomer Chimp comes with his own micro USB charging cable that simply plugs into a USB plug socket (like your iPhone) or your computer/laptop. Zoomer's eyes turn blue when he's charging and switch to green when he's good to go. He takes about 1 hour to fully charge.

Zoomer Chimp Review | USB charger

Zoomer Chimp Review | recharge with USB charger included

If you want to use any of the 'commands' you simply tap this button on top of Zoomer's head and wait for his eyes to switch to purple before you speak. This toy is aimed at children aged 5+ but it is honestly child's play to operate and I bet younger children would manage to play with him too.

Zoomer Chimp Review | command button on head

I was worried we might have to keep hunting out instructions to remember all of the various commands but luckily, Zoomer Chimp is provided with his very own cheat sheet which is a simple guide to his voice commands, eye colour meaning and on/off switch. We found this very handy to begin with and it really eased us into playing with him nicely. To be honest though, after a few days this has been discarded as the kids know what they're doing now.

Zoomer Chimp Review | cheat sheet list of voice commands

If you're interested to see Zoomer Chimp in action, check out our video below which features some of his moves in action (look out for 'Go Bananas' - we love this one).


 Here are a few pics of the kids playing with Zoomer Chimp this weekend. I love them - I think you can see in their eyes and faces how much they adore him. Zoomer Chimp works just as well on carpet as well as wooden floor by the way.

Zoomer Chimp Review | how to use

Zoomer Chimp Review | instructions and switching on

Zoomer Chimp Review |

Zoomer Chimp Review | follow me mode

Zoomer Chimp Review | flip mode

Zoomer Chimp Review |

Zoomer Chimp Review | kids love him

Zoomer Chimp Review | kids play

Zoomer Chimp Review

If I had to state any negative about Zoomer Chimp I would say that I would like him to last a little longer between charging - he probably lasts a couple of hours of non-stop play before needing to be plugged back in again. If he isn't being constantly played with, he will last longer. I also remember that as a child I was so scared of anything robotic. Santa once brought me a robot-type toy and I was so scared that it had to be donated to a neighbour - if your child is a sensitive soul, Zoomer Chimp may not be for them as he can be unpredictable and start running around the room shouting which although is fun for our family, I realise isn't for everyone.


I would not recommend a toy to you if I didn't think it was worth it but if you can pick up Zoomer Chimp for £100 or less, then I would say go for it. He'll provide lots of entertainment whizzing around your floor on Christmas day and his personality will win over guests young and old. If my grandma was still with us, I can imagine Zoomer Chimp would even give her a few laughs.
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Zoomer Chimp - A 'Must Have' Toy for Christmas 2016 | A Review, How to guide and Tutorial.

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When do you book your summer holiday?


When do you book your summer holiday? | Hotel Vidi Miramare near Venice is now taking bookings for summer 2017

When do you book your summer holiday? I am one of those people who rarely does anything on a whim or at the last minute and I normally book our annual summer break at around this time of year. I am currently knee deep in research for next year's trip and it really seems to be Italy that has my heart. I would LOVE to visit next year if our budget allows and at the moment there is lots of planning going on at North East Family Fun's headquarters to see if our Italian dream can become a reality. Hot on the heels of our post featuring Hotel Las Vegas on the Adriatic coast, today I am sharing another family-friendly hotel I have found, this time it's the Hotel Vidi Miramare & Delfino in Jesolo - a famous seaside resort near Venice.

When do you book your summer holiday? | Hotel Vidi Miramare near Venice is now taking bookings for summer 2017 - seafront view

So, what makes this hotel particularly appealing to families? First of all, it has an enviable position overlooking the sea and residents have the Jesolo Lido directly on their doorstep. I always prefer to choose a sea front hotel where possible as my kids (like most) adore days spent on the beach.

As well as the beach, the hotel is the perfect location from which to explore lots of family attractions in the region with the Aqualandia Waterpark, Sea life Aquarium and Go-Kart track within easy reach.

When do you book your summer holiday? | Hotel Vidi Miramare near Venice is now taking bookings for summer 2017 - swimming pool

The Hotel Vidi Miramare & Delfino offers a whole range of accommodation which is well suited to larger families like ourselves. There aren't many hotels that offer three bedroom suites and the 4* bedrooms include a fridge, safe, satellite tv, air conditioning and complimentary WiFi as standard.

When do you book your summer holiday? | Hotel Vidi Miramare near Venice is now taking bookings for summer 2017 - bedroom

The hotel features a pool, lounge bar with enviable views and my favourite part is that it has it's own spa -perfect for mum's like me who need a spot of pampering. The hotel's wellness centre offers a huge range of facilities from steam rooms, saunas, jacuzzi and foot baths. Bliss!

When do you book your summer holiday? | Hotel Vidi Miramare near Venice is now taking bookings for summer 2017 - spa and wellness centre


When looking for hotels I always like to read reviews but also look for ways the hotel can add value to our stay. The Hotel Vidi Miramare & Delfino does this by offering free bike hire for families, free WiFi, free parking and you can even take your pet along on holiday too at no additional cost.

I learned this year that it is possible to have time together as a couple on holiday when you're with children and one of the ways we achieved this is was to choose restaurants and bars overlooking the beach so the kids could play whilst we enjoyed the sunset and a glass or two of bubbly after dinner. It really was bliss and the Hotel Vidi Miramare & Delfino near Venice looks like it has the ideal bar to replicate this.

When do you book your summer holiday? | Hotel Vidi Miramare near Venice is now taking bookings for summer 2017 - beach sunset

The Hotel Vidi Miramare & Delfino is certainly tempting and I think it will make a wonderful base from which to explore the Adriatic coast and Venice. Let me know if you have any recommendations for Italian hotels that I should check out too.

Disclosure | This is a collaborative post

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When do you book your summer holiday? | Hotel Vidi Miramare near Venice is now taking bookings for summer 2017 by North East Family Fun

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Sunday, 30 October 2016

Juice Festival | Day of the Dead Family Celebrations at ¡Vamos! Social, Newcastle

*This is a collaborative post

Ever since I watched the beginning of Spectre I have been a little bit obsessed with 'Day of the Dead'. I would LOVE to travel to Mexico and join in the celebrations for real. I really don't see that happening anytime soon though so I was pleased to hear that NewcastleGateshead would be hosting their own celebrations at ¡Vamos! as part of the Juice Festival. 

Juice Festival | Day of the Dead Family Celebrations at ¡Vamos! Social, Newcastle


“On October 31, All Hallows Eve, the children make a children's altar to invite the angelitos (spirits of dead children) to come back for a visit. November 1 is All Saints Day, and the adult spirits will come to visit. November 2 is All Souls Day, when families go to the cemetery to decorate the graves and tombs of their relatives. 

The three-day fiesta is filled with marigolds, the flowers of the dead; muertos (the bread of the dead); sugar skulls; cardboard skeletons; tissue paper decorations; fruit and nuts; incense, and other traditional foods and decorations”
— Frances Ann Day, Latina and Latino Voices in Literature

Juice Festival | Day of the Dead Family Celebrations at ¡Vamos! Social, Newcastle  - face painting

I couldn't wait to join in with some of the action! This event is super popular and you could attend a morning or afternoon session (or both I suppose if you were super keen). Tickets were £6 per person in advance or £7 on the door (although these were limited). ¡Vamos! is very easy to find on Market Street and very centrally located. We were very impressed with the venue and will definitely be keeping our eyes peeled for future events.

Juice Festival | Day of the Dead Family Celebrations at ¡Vamos! Social, Newcastle

One of the things I loved about these celebrations was that once you'd paid your entrance fee, everything apart from food and drink was included - even this superb face painting which really got Jack and Heidi into the swing of things. There was no stopping them on the dancefloor. I love, love, loved the live DJ - my clubbing days are over so it was a rare treat for me and the music was fab. There was even a little sample of 666's D.E.V.I.L which transported me right back to IKON circa 2001. Ah the memories!

Juice Festival | Day of the Dead Family Celebrations at ¡Vamos! Social, Newcastle

Harry is far too cool to hit the dancefloor with his mum and younger siblings and preferred to hang out at the bar drinking non-alcoholic Zombie cocktails (£2 each) with his dad.

Juice Festival | Day of the Dead Family Celebrations at ¡Vamos! Social, Newcastle  - bar area

Juice Festival | Day of the Dead Family Celebrations at ¡Vamos! Social, Newcastle  - bar menu

The decorations throughout were fantastic and a lot of effort had gone into ensuring the venue really looked the part.

Juice Festival | Day of the Dead Family Celebrations at ¡Vamos! Social, Newcastle

As always, the kids started complaining they were hungry. I swear there is no filling them at times! There was a pop up food stall provided by Mama Zen who sell 'wholesome and magically wild plant food'. Jack was tempted by the 'cookie monster' and had no clue it was filled with goodness and H & H were content with a 'beating heart cake' which was filled with beetroot and dark chocolate. I didn't get a pic but Steve split a slice of roasted pumpkin cake with a lemon and thyme dressing on the recommendation of another happy customer - omg, best cake ever! If you spot Mama Zen when you're out and about, make sure you check them out.

Juice Festival | Day of the Dead Family Celebrations at ¡Vamos! Social, Newcastle  - cake from mama zen

Juice Festival | Day of the Dead Family Celebrations at ¡Vamos! Social, Newcastle  - cookies from mama zen

The pool table had been transformed into a colourful game of skittles which kept my three entertained as Steve and I polished off our cake.

Juice Festival | Day of the Dead Family Celebrations at ¡Vamos! Social, Newcastle  - skittles

There were tonnes of crafts going on (all included at no additional cost) from mask and lantern making to balloon modelling and wish writing. I think H, H and J have had their fill of organised activities this week though as they weren't really interested and just preferred to strut their stuff on the dancefloor or chill on the sofas.

Juice Festival | Day of the Dead Family Celebrations at ¡Vamos! Social, Newcastle  - kids craft area

We did however try our hand at creating our own prints (again no additional cost) and will say that all of the staff were so lovely - really helpful and accommodating. Jack and Heidi created their own Latin-inspired prints with ink and were really pleased with the result (I was impressed too).

Juice Festival | Day of the Dead Family Celebrations at ¡Vamos! Social, Newcastle - traditional press printing

Juice Festival | Day of the Dead Family Celebrations at ¡Vamos! Social, Newcastle  - traditional press print

At around 3pm, we were all asked to leave the dancefloor and take a seat around the perimeters and were treated to a contemporary dance and performance featuring the Day of the Dead ceremony (check out my live Facebook streams here and here if you'd like to watch for yourself).

Juice Festival | Day of the Dead Family Celebrations at ¡Vamos! Social, Newcastle  - live drums

Watching this performance was certainly a unique way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Personally, I loved it and really got a feel for what 'Day of the Dead' is all about. Heidi and Jack sat quietly throughout most of it too and were captivated.

Juice Festival | Day of the Dead Family Celebrations at ¡Vamos! Social, Newcastle  - contemporary dance

Juice Festival | Day of the Dead Family Celebrations at ¡Vamos! Social, Newcastle - contemporary dance

At the end of the performance, the music intensified and there was a real party atmosphere. We were all invited to join the dancers on the dancefloor and let our hair down.

Juice Festival | Day of the Dead Family Celebrations at ¡Vamos! Social, Newcastle

We sadly had to leave at 4pm as we had another appointment - I think there may have been a pinata after we left! Oh man!!

These two certainly received a few funny looks as we walked down Northumberland Street, one lady actually stopped us and asked us if she could pose for a photograph with them! LOL!

Juice Festival | Day of the Dead Family Celebrations at ¡Vamos! Social, Newcastle  - Northumberland Street

I really enjoyed the family Day of the Dead celebrations at ¡Vamos! and really appreciated that I didn't have to put my hand in my pocket every 5 minutes. There was a nice range of alternative activities for us to try out together and it did open our minds to other cultures. I think it is probably best pitched at children aged 3-9 as although Harry (aged 10) did enjoy it, he didn't really want to join in with anything like Heidi (7) and Jack (5)  did. This could just be a personality thing though as I did see other older children joining in. There were plenty of cute toddlers dressed up and hitting the dance floor too. If you'd like to see more action from the festival, please check out my video below and if you'd like to see more videos from days out across the NE, make sure you subscribe to our channel.



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Juice Festival | Day of the Dead Family Celebrations at ¡Vamos! Social, Newcastle


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Friday, 28 October 2016

Juice Festival 2016 | The Hogwallops at Northern Stage - A Review

It's not often Steve and I get to head out to Newcastle on a Friday night, so when we were offered the opportunity to review Hogwallops with Northern Stage as part of the Juice Festival, it was a big fat yes from us.

Juice Festival 2016 | The Hogwallops at Northern Stage - A Review

We took advantage of the free parking in Newcastle after 5pm and as the darkness enclosed around us, it felt like a real treat. We even managed a quick drink in Mckenna's before curtain up. I made the mistake of browsing their winter programme as I now want to see everything! How old are children before they can be left at home alone?? I'm obviously joking here but if anyone wants to babysit so we can watch The Suggestibles, please let me know - :-)

Juice Festival 2016 | The Hogwallops at Northern Stage - A Review

We headed into Stage One for the 7pm start (I love that there are plastic cups on the bar for you to decant your drinks into if needed) and were amused to see the exact same radio I have in my office playing on stage to set the scene as everyone settled.

Juice Festival 2016 | The Hogwallops at Northern Stage - A Review

The Hogwallops are introduced on stage as a chaotic family who bicker, fight and play practical jokes on each other. The stage often resembles an adventure playground more than their home and the casts perfectly choreographed sequences received lots of gasps and cheers from the audience.

Recommended for families with children aged 3+, it was Jack (5) and Heidi (7) who really got the most from the performance from our group.  Jack was jumping up and down in his seat, shouting and laughing very loudly at the comedy slapstick. He actually fell off his seat laughing at one point. The scene where the family fight over a banana was his favourite (and now I fear it may be recreated at home!). The aerial acrobats and routines were a bit lost on him but that's why this is a family show as personally, they were my favourite part. The performance is split into mini sketches that turn every day household chores and routines into funny skits featuring acrobats, tumbles and characters flying through the air. There really is something for everyone to enjoy.

Heidi giggled the whole way through the 1 hour show and spent the performance snuggled into her dad. It was nice that they shared the magic of theatre together. Harry (a 'mature' 10 year old) normally loves this sort of thing and has been known to cry with laughter during similar performances but tonight was the first time I noticed that he wasn't laughing at the slapstick as much as his brother and sister were - he's definitely growing up! He did still enjoy it and was on the edge of his seat at some points but I think he's at that age where having too much fun obviously isn't the done thing.

Juice Festival 2016 | The Hogwallops at Northern Stage - A Review

I loved the comparisons to our family on stage - mum being surrounded by laundry and screaming at her family to help sort it out, siblings bickering and fighting, family rituals to sort out disputes, flour going everywhere when you're trying to bake a cake...........but then at the end, everyone comes together to bake a special birthday cake. Dysfunctional but together when it matters. I'm sure a lot of families who watch this performance will nod along in agreement and see a bit of themeselves on stage.

With lots of comedy, audience participation and belly laughs for the kids, I'm not surprised the cast received a standing ovation on opening night. I'm always honest with my reviews and I will say it's not up there with the best performance I've watched but for just £40 for a family of 4 it is definitely worth a watch, especially if your kids like silly and over the top humour.

Hogwallops continues at Northern Stage this Saturday (29th) at 1pm and 5pm. You can buy tickets here. 

Disclosure : We were provided with press tickets 
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