Dad Diaries: we test out the Toy State Nikko Air DRL Race Vision 220 FPV Drone

Dad tester writes: “This thing might say ‘ages 8 and up’ on the box but with a bit of kit like this, the kids aren’t gonna get a look in! You’re no doubt reading this about to lambast me with cries of ‘sharing is caring!’ – but hear me out first. 

If you’ve hankered after a drone you mostly want it for one of two reasons. One is that you work for Red Bull and want to make amazing videos of people riding BMX bikes through waterfalls… the other (like me) is you want to show off doing tricks in the park and use the camera to see how bald your head looks like to a high flying bird. 

Another thing about a lot of drones on the market; you buy the basic thing, then you need a whole bunch of other kit (and expertise) to get it going. I can change a fuse, but I’m not an engineer. This one is about as ‘plug and go play’ as you can get. 

So the story goes that Nikko Air teamed up with DRL (that’s the Drone Racing League to non-dronies) to create what is really the ultimate starter kit for stunt pilots. It comes with a headset and a really clear screen that you can either mount to the controller or wear as part of the headset (I found the former option a lot easier but I think the headset gives you a truly immersive experience). 

Once batteries are in and both drone and controller switched on you can see that it is connected. Getting up in the air is pretty easy (well, on ‘beginner mode’ it is anyway!) Obviously move all breakable items and half full cups of tea if you are going to do a test flight in the kitchen – or download the software to your laptop and have a practice on the simulator before you take it out. Or just be a complete freestyler and give it a whirl (the controls are pretty self-explanatory). 

You can manually switch the camera to point it straight or up/down and this drone comes with a handy SD card to record flights. I wouldn’t say it is indestructible, but if you stack it a few times it can take the crash. 

There is obviously a LOT you can do with this drone (race, perform stunts, improve your pilot skills in the simulator etc) but for now getting it up, whizzing about and getting it to flip like one-in-three attempts makes me feel like I work for NASA…

Now – what was it you said about sharing with the kids again..?”

Find out more on the Nikko Air website.

Hold EVERYTHING! Peppa Pig has a UK Tour…

Peppa Pig and her friends are back in a brand new live show Peppa Pig’s Adventure, featuring a new story, loads of songs and heaps of fun!

Produced by leading children’s theatre team Fiery Light, in partnership with licensor Entertainment One (eOne), Peppa Pig’s Adventure marks the ninth consecutive year of Peppa Pig live theatre tours since 2009 and the fifth Peppa Pig stage production in total.

Join Peppa as she gets ready to go on an exciting camping trip to the woods with George and her school friends, including Pedro Pony, Suzy Sheep and Gerald Giraffe. With lunch-boxes packed and Daddy Pig driving the bus, Peppa and her friends are excited about their outdoor adventure, full of games,  laughter and live music!

The happy campers soon settle down to sleep and listen to the gentle pitter-patter of rain.  Safe and warm inside their tents the excited group can look forward to morning time, when there will be lots of muddy puddles to play in!

Richard Lewis once again takes the helm for this new live stage adaptation of eOne’s popular animated TV series which he directs and has adapted for the theatre. He has also adapted and directed the four previous Peppa Pig live stage shows,  Peppa Pig’s Party, Peppa Pig’s Treasure Hunt, Peppa Pig’s Big Splash and Peppa Pig’s Surprise. The show features music from BAFTA award-winning composer Mani Svavarsson.

Audiences will enjoy interactive fun, songs and games with Peppa Pig and her friends. Peppa Pig’s Adventure promises to be the perfect theatre show for all pre-schoolers. Suitable for ages 3+.

See full dates and buy tickets here.

Our pick of super cute saddle bags…

Sometimes you feel like a carthorse, lugging changing bags and bookbags – not to mention a few shopping bags… But sometimes it’s blissful just to skip out of the front door with nothing but keys, phone and lipgloss. (OK, and maybe a Twix!)

Right now we are loving (clockwise from top left): Village England’s Cranleigh Stirrup Bag in Caramel, Honey and Toast’s Etter Saddlebag in Leopard, Tiba+Marl’s Silver Cross Body Bag and luxe dog accessory brand Teddy Maximus’ gorgeous rose pink Charlotte bag.

Lovely Little Things: Personalised cake from Intercake

I’ve always shied away from anything other than store-bought cakes for occasions; I don’t know  if my inability to create anything picture-perfect or the plethora of #CakeFail insta feeds has affected my decision – but two years in a row now this has meant that my other half has celebrated his 38th and 39th birthdays with a Gruffalo cake.

Time to find another option? Have you ever noticed those Intercake booths? You’ll find them in Asda and Morrisons stores. You can upload your own image onto a cake (which can be a variety of shapes and sizes) and it is created in store while you wait (or order online for home delivery).

First you either upload an image (you can do this in store from a  memory stick or your phone – or online just upload from your device) and then select the border (if you want one). The plain white icing makes a great canvas – my tip would be buck the cheesy b’day mugshot image and give it a whirl with a grainy/moody filter, you’ll be pleasantly surprised! You can also add text.

Price-wise, the cakes work out pretty much the same as a supermarket theme cake (even a Gruffalo) so it’s basically win/win, whichever way you look at it.

Find out more or order online here.

Marmite reveal the most loved and hated Xmas gifts…


  • Spare a thought for those who received breast firming cream and slimming pants – Marmite unveil the nation’s most LOVED and HATED ‘gift gaffes’ at Christmas
  • Brits accept on average three gifts they hate EVERY Christmas
  • A third of us confess to cheekily buying ‘grudge gifts’, with bosses, exes and the mother-in-law most likely to receive a shoddy gift
  • Personalised gifts most LOVED, seven in ten feeling that something with their name on would show thought and consideration

They say it is the thought that counts when giving and receiving gifts, but these hilarious presents might just change your mind on that.

A pair of marigolds, underwear from a boss, anti-cellulite cream and EVEN BOTOX are just some of the most HATED Christmas presents to have been received by Brits.

With less than three weeks to go until Christmas, the nation’s most LOVED and HATED breakfast spread, Marmite, are looking back at some of the UK’s worst ‘gift gaffes’. According to 1,500 respondents, men and women accept on average three gifts they hate EVERY Christmas.

Last year, one poor soul was given a tax disc holder, another unwrapped breast firming cream from their gran and an unlucky individual was given a bag of cat litter.

One in four said they can’t remember the last time someone gave them a present they actually LOVED – with mums and colleagues named and shamed as the most likely to give a poor present.

However, it isn’t all doom and gloom. When it comes to gifts Brits would LOVE to receive, seven in ten felt that something with their name on would show thought and consideration – and most likely not to end up in the bin.

When it comes to our reaction when presented with a disappointing gift, 24 percent said they see the funny side, saying receiving rubbish presents gave them something to laugh about. Some of us just won’t let it slide, with a whopping third admitting to falling out with their other halves due to the terrible gift attempt.

There is no need to let a present go to waste according to an over a third of us (35 percent), who admitted to re-gifting to others. A quarter of Brits who get landed with a rubbish present like to exchange it for something else but 34 percent give it straight to the charity shop.

When it comes to who we are gifting, a third of us confessed to cheekily buying ‘grudge gifts’ with little thought for people who we are not fond of. Bosses and colleagues who were pulled out of the office Secret Santa were most likely to be on the receiving end of a shoddy present. Followed in second place, exes (on behalf of the children of course).

A philosophical 83 percent said they were in agreement that it was the thought that counts but a materialistic 17 percent said it was all about the cost and extravagance of the presents you receive.

Shannon Lennon-Smith, spokesperson for Marmite said: “There is nothing worse than having to pretend that you love a present that you really hate. For a fail-safe gift, something personalised will let the recipient know that they were in your thoughts. For Marmite fans, our personalised jars make the perfect present and can be conveniently purchased online.”

Give the gift of a personalised 250g glass jar of Marmite at for £4.99. Orders to be placed by 15th December for guaranteed Christmas delivery.

Peek inside the Goodwood Estate – watch Mary Berry’s Country House Secrets tonight on BBC1

image courtesy of Goodwood

Want to get a peek inside Goodwood; the 12,000 acre Sussex sporting estate famous for the Qatar Goodwood Festival and The Revival?

image courtesy of Goodwood

Tonight Mary Berry will not only explore the house and its kitchens, she will also be collecting eggs with the Duchess of Richmond and shearing a sheep.

So that’s what we’ll be watching…

Mary Berry’s Country House Secrets will air on BBC One on December 13, 2017, at 8 pm.

Andy & the Odd Socks ‘All Together at Christmas Time’ – single out now

Andy & The Odd Socks have just revealed their very own Christmas single ‘All Together (at Christmas time)’ which will be released on 1st December 2017 with an unabashed desire to be a bit different and reach No.2 in the UK charts instead of No.1!

In Andy’s own words ‘Every pop star always wants to be No.1 don’t they? Well, I am happy to announce that we would love to reach No.2 instead in the charts this Christmas.’

Andy Day is a huge presence in most young children’s lives appearing regularly on children’s TV with his big hair and personality to match. If this wasn’t enough the kid’s TV icon has only gone and formed a band, Andy and The Odd Socks with some other massive personalities (aka The Odd Socks; Moxy, Rio, Blu and Random Keith) with a collection of fist-pumping and toe-tapping rock pop songs on his debut album ‘Who Invited This Lot?’ that FINALLY allows parents to throw away those annoying nursery rhyme CD’s and fill their car journeys with enjoyable positive music, that delivers empowering messages to young children.

‘Who Invited This Lot?’ is released this Friday 24th November 2017 via Universal and will no doubt be a very welcome stocking-filler in most households this Christmas.

Personally booked by Emily Eavis, Andy and the Odd Socks played their debut gig at Glastonbury this summer (not a bad place to start!) unleashing dinosaurs with footballs, a groovy hoover and a ninja pig to a hugely receptive audience (oh
and the kids loved it too!) The hugely talented band play live wherever they go and have already garnered high profile fans from the likes of Ferne Cotton and her husband Jessie Wood both seen rocking out with their kids at a recent London showcase.  Aimed at primary school kids Andy and The Odd Socks are all hugely individual and entertaining characters whose message to children is simple. In one of the band’s best-known songs ‘Unique’ Andy sings about ‘being proud of who you are be accepting of one another.’

Unsurprisingly Andy and The Oddsocks recently caught the attention of the Anti-Bullying Alliance the UK’s leading anti-bullying charity (*All Different, All Equal*) who asked Andy to be their patron. This alliance spurred Andy on to instigate his very own hugely successful Odd Socks Day which launched nationwide last Monday 13th November and will now feature as an annual national UK event. Odd Socks Day inspired hundreds of schools to wear their odd socks to school in a public celebration of individuality with a voluntary donation to the Anti-Bullying Alliance charity if possible. Up and down the whole of the UK, children were singing the song ‘Unique’ in classrooms and assemblies and posting their hundreds of videos and pictures online to celebrate Odd Socks Day. Victoria Beckham even posted a photo of her daughter Harper Beckham wearing her odd socks to school on Monday whilst Andy went off to talk about being an Odd Sock on Channel 5 News AND in The House of Lords.

SM reviews… Pizza Express Leadenhall Market

Editor writes: “As I’ve reviewed Pizza Express a couple of times now, these days the powers that be are making me sing for my supper. And by ‘sing’ I mean actually make my own pizza. 

This time I was invited to the newly renovated Leadenhall Market restaurant; in the grand London space which dates back to the 14th century and was formerly a butchery and cheese market. The Pizza Express was formerly a poultry trader’s site and still boasts the original meat hooks within the external facade. 

From street level, it looks like a tiny, intimate cafe. The kind of place you’d go on a second date. You can chat, but the huge glass windows mean that you could gesticulate to the outside world if said date suddenly started talking about his rodent collection. 

Downstairs, however, is a different proposition. A capacious lair, with exposed brickwork and leather banquettes. The sort of place where what goes on remains unspoken (indeed, the chap sporting antlers at his office Xmas do on the adjacent table probably hopes as much!)

I’ll begin by mentioning Pizza Express’ Xmas menu. If you’ve waited for their annual Nutella doughball treat in the same manner as pressing your nose against the window of Starbucks until the Red Cups return – well – there ain’t no Nutella this year. Instead, there are Snowball Doughballs (see what they’ve done there?). Icing sugar, vanilla goo… Let’s not think about the calories (we’ll be wearing an oversized festive knit til January, right?)

There are also some notable festive pizzas; Maple Glazed Gammon, Beef and Horseradish, the ‘so wrong it’s right’ Potato and Fontal cheese one with bechamel sauce and roasted spuds. 

But as I mentioned before, I had to make my own.  And because I had experienced a Pizza Express Make-Your-Own-Pizza party before, I really thought I had this one locked down. So – when they mentioned there would be awards at the end (as well as the reward of scoffing down your creation) I decided to step up my game. 

Ball of dough: I will be your master. I will knead you and stretch you and then spin you around like the smart-ass chef demonstrating the technique. Oh yes, I will. 

So when the chef came ’round with the baking trays to place the dough into, he completely burst my bubble of smug by handing me another ball of dough and suggested I start again. 

Quite literally, DOH!

Attempt #2 was apparently a bit more presentable. It was at least spherical. Seemingly I’d left the edges too sticky to bake – the chef just gave me a wry look, whisked the pan off to the kitchen and returned with a vastly improved version which I obviously passed off as my own work. 

Next up comes the passata and the toppings. The same supplier has made the tomato paste for Pizza Express since its Wardour St beginnings; maybe they are very loyal, maybe it is the most epic passata in the world. 

You are allowed to freestyle your toppings at a Pizza Making party – with the exception of an egg, which needs to added last, under supervision and with a fair bit of hand washing. They will tell you that ‘less is more’ because you want the crust to bake evenly. Pah, what do they know? All those years of pizza excellence are nothing compared to me: who has done it TWICE!

Peppers and pickles, chilli oil, jalapenos… Cheese, more cheese. Some olives for luck. 

Kindly, at these events, they lay on some starters to share. So even if you fail with your main course, you’ll have had some doughballs, olives, sun-dried tomatoes and garlic bread. Oh, and prosecco. 

I won’t lie; my pizza was very hot. I never learn. I see chillis, I think they are a good idea. The crust was impeccable though 😉

After dinner, a glass of wine and complimentary Limoncello; the prizes. I didn’t come last, I didn’t come first. They gave me the sympathy prize merit certificate for the best try with the dough. 

And you betcha I’ve spent all morning online shopping for a frame.”

Book a Pizza Making party for grown-ups or kids at any Pizza Express restaurant here. (BTW, if you’ve forgotten to send a gift to someone, you can ping a Pizza Express voucher direct to their phone – click here to find out more)

SM would like to thank the staff at Pizza Express Leadenhall Market for their hospitality. 


SM reviews: Food Saver vertical vacuum sealer

SM tester writes: “If you thought you owned every kitchen gadget, here’s a new one on your radar. But before you read about it, just go and look in your fridge. If it’s anything like mine, the veg section probably has a half punnet of rotting raspberries, and some leeks you can’t remember when you purchased as you had the best intentions to make soup. Add to that a half-eaten ‘power bowl’ (when did ‘leftovers’ become ‘power bowls’?!) that you made yourself the other day before finishing off your toddler’s Organix snack instead. Maybe a chocolate bar you’d been rationing?

So the Foodsaver machine vacuum seals either bags or special containers, allowing you to preserve food in the fridge for much longer. Which, if you’re a mum is a no-brainer. 

Other things it does: seals a portion of cornflakes so that you can pop it in your work bag without it exploding, seals travel documents that you are packing for emergency reference, so that they won’t get wet or sandy, protects silverware (the vacuum sucks out the oxygen which stops tarnishing) for storage – and lots more. 

The only thing it won’t preserve in your fridge is anything liquid. So that bottle of prosecco you opened at the weekend… well, you’re just gonna have to finish it.”

The upright vacuum Foodsaver RRP is £89.99 and it is available from Lakeland, Amazon, and more – or save 10% when you buy it from Foodsaver website.

Lovely Little Things: Canvas Backpack from British Legion Shop

Who knew the British Legion sold anything other than poppies? Not me… OK, maybe I thought they also sold ‘fancier’ poppies (like the ones female newsreaders or Princess Kate are often spotted wearing) – perhaps the odd poppy-motifed tea towel.

Well, pop yourself over to and be pleasantly surprised at their range of Orla Kiely designed bags, neroli scented candles and bluetooth speakers. Some of the products they stock make a design feature of the poppy emblem whilst on others, there is just a subtle nod to it.

My personal favourite thing is this military-style backpack, made from navy canvas and leather with brass fittings. With multiple pockets, it is brilliant as a changing bag, gym bag or to keep your laptop clear of your lunch.

The point here really is that you can support the British Legion all year ’round – not just with a paper flower on your jacket for a couple of weeks in November.

The canvas backpack costs £49.99, Juco bag £9.99 and the candle pictured £19.99


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