Last night, while I mopped up spilt tea, retrieved peas from the bottom of chair legs and muttered expletives under my breath (a regular occurrence at around 5.30pm), the boys found the Smyths Toys catalogue and occupied themselves for a good thirty minutes 'oooooh-ing' and 'aaahhh-ing' at The Stuff. I don't really like them doing this and have motherly-angst that they should be doing something educational like, I don't know, arguing with each other, but it gave me a few minutes of peace and quiet in which to mop, retrieve and mutter so I left them to it.
You see, the problem with a lot of 'The Stuff' in such toy catalogues is a load of all plastic rubbish, quite frankly, which will fall apart within a few hours and which I will spend most of my life putting back together. So, I am extremely keen to tell you about the award winning Le Toy Van Toys which specialise in wooden toys. Proper, quality, well-made, gorgeous wooden toys.
The company offers everything from wooden blocks, to fire engines, play kitchens and balance bikes to suit all age ranges and all price ranges. I challenge any parent not to see something on the site that they would love and the fact that the toys are made using responsibly sourced wood is also a plus point.
We were very lucky to receive the amazing 'Excalibur Castle' to review and I have to say it is one of the nicest toys we have. As with any toy, there is some assembly required, but it's fairly straightforward and after a bit of screwing and aligning, you have this fabulous creation ........
Although the toy doesn't come with any of the figures pictured (which is a bit of a shame and one or two figures included would be a nice addition), this is a sturdy, excellently made, robust toy which cannot fail to excite the imagination of any child - boy or girl. With working pulleys and drawbridge and plenty of corners and levels to role-play scenes with, my boys have adored playing with this. I am sure they will continue to play with it for many, many years to come and I have a feeling that this is one of those toys I could see coming out of the attic and being dusted off for the grandchildren to play with.
The Excalibur Castle isn't the cheapest at just under £50 but I think it's a great investment for a family toy which will stand the test of time.
That's my top Christmas tip for 2011 and for that, I think I deserve a glass of sherry. Cheers.