Retro Stylised Wonder Woman Print from Hand Drawn Creative

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There's been quite the buzz about the new Wonder Woman film, with the heroine updated for the 2000s. Of course like most superheroes, Wonder Woman started out as a comic book heroine, and Neal from Hand Drawn Creative has paid tribute to these beginnings with his fab A3 print.

Also new is this swish little promo, Let's Learn To Draw The Hand Drawn Creative way. We get to meet Neal and tour his drawing office, as well as watching him at work. 

Don't forget to visit the Hand Drawn Creative Etsy Store, where A3 prints are a very reasonable £20

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Stay in the Streets of 'Made in Chelsea', London, From £15 a Night. Hostel Prices Without the Hostel Horrors, My Go-To Booking, EasyHotel Earl's Court.

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I like a bargain & the less you pay for a hotel when you visit a big city like London, the more money you have to spend on the important things when you get there. Like shiny, fluffy stuff from Skinny Dip London, or Build a Bears dressed like Beefeaters who play 'The Whip' when you squeeze their paw. 

So whilst I don't mind forgoing luxury during the lights-out part of the trip, I do like to be somewhere clean, safe and reliable. This means hosteling isn't really suitable. I'm always travelling with Smix who is nine now, and I don't want to have to share a room or bathroom with strangers in a city miles away from anyone I know. 

Thats why when we visited last August, we stayed in the Earl's Court Easy Hotel. That would be my fourth or fifth stay in an EasyHotel in London, I have also stayed in the South Kensington one, which is only about a mile's walk from this one.

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Prices for rooms start at £15 and personally I've never had to pay more than £45 any time I've stayed. Like with booking an EasyJet flight, you can use the EasyHotel site to tailor the room to your needs, as well as watch for flash sales, bargain deals booking a long time in advance, or indeed last minute.

Again similar to the philosophy of the airline, you pay for the add ons of what you need, which builds a package visit tailored exactly to your needs. 

Rooms are small, which allows the prices to be lower than most London city centre hotels. I find with a London jaunt you really only use the hotel to crash at and sleep, you don't hang out or eat there, so a room with a bed & mini bathroom is spot on. 

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Rooms are small, standard & twin. The small has barely any room to stand about, it's a little like a capsule hotel but with more space. This is what I always stay in when I'm travelling to London alone. Rooms have either one double bed, or two singles in them. 

Another choice you can make is whether you need a window or not. If you are happy enough with no window, you can pay less to stay in one of the central rooms. 

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Every room has its own mini-bathroom. It's a complete wet room, with a curtain to pull round to shower. You get one fresh towel, should you need more or want it washed during your stay, that will cost extra. Also if you are staying more than one night and want your bedding changed, again, ask for that add on. If you want to travel without toiletries, there is a pump dispenser at each shower with a shampoo/shower gel you can use. 

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All rooms have heating & air-con, which is free of charge, and there is the option to add-on wifi access or the tv in your room. I counted three plugs in our room, which is always important to know when   you've gadgets to charge overnight.

There isn't a wardrobe, but there is storage space under the bed frame, and on the wall to hang coats & bags. 

Early check in, or late check out, will cost you £15, but times are very reasonable anyway. 

There isn't a breakfast restaurant in the hotel, but you are located in a beautiful area of the city and your walk from Earl's Court Underground Station to the hotel passes dozens of places you can get coffee, breakfast, croissants, whatever you might feel like when you get hungry. I'm pretty sure each hotel has a basic vending machine in the reception, as well as all your tourist attraction leaflets and maps on hand.

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We had a lovely stay and a quiet night's sleep. I would recommend staying with EasyHotel to anyone thinking of visiting the city, and if you aren't going to London then there are other cities with Easyhotels there too. 

The next morning we strolled the 15 minute walk to the Natural History Museum. The hotel location is really superb for tourists, with Harrods just another short dander as way.

Don't forget to visit the Tardis outside the Earl's Court Underground Station if you have Doctor Who fans in your family! 

To keep up to date and be alerted to room sale bargains, follow EasyHotel on Twitter, or Facebook

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WIN! 4 Sets of Kikkerland Iron On Patches- Cacti, Flamingoes, Girl Power & Under the Sea Designs

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Stroll into any high street fashion store this early summer & you'll see the biggest denim trend, taken straight from the catwalk collections, is embroidered patterns and patches galore.  

Jean jackets not just with one little patch to brighten things up, but it's as if the denim has been shot with some sort of decorative patch cannon. Rather than just having one feature patch, the trend is to have a collection of smaller patches in a cluster. It makes the jackets especially much more individual. 

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To be even more individual, a cool idea is to buy a plain denim jacket, or jeans, then choose the patches yourself, and get handy sewing them on. But what if like me you are totally inept when it comes to sewing? Well! Kikkerland can save the day with their totally sewing-free iron on patches!

They come in a variety of modern designs, with summer 2017 trends like flamingoes & cacti, as well as classic cats, dogs, fish and even a retro Girl Power set. Prices range from €4 to €12.50 and the    best thing is the whole Kikkerland site has free shipping to the UK!

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Kikkerland isn't just a site with accessories for clothing, they have toys, bathroom & kitchen gadgets, solar powered products, just a whole world of quirky design and clever gizmos.

So how would you like to win a bundle of large Kikkerland iron on patches to get crafty with yourself? 

You can decorate a plain denim jacket, or a pair of jeans in a way no-one else will be wearing. 

  

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I'm giving away some of the sets shown here. You can win the Girl Power, Cactus, Tropical and Sea Creature. They are the large versions of the designs and have shimmery, fluffy and glittery accents.

To enter, simply use the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck! 

Lego Interior Design Projects, For This Rainy Bank Holiday

Home services marketplace Plentific.com has been exploring how Lego can be used for home decoration and furniture creation.

Established in 1949, Lego has gone from strength to strength, becoming one of the world’s most well-known brands. With Lego construction sets, blockbuster films, theme parks and now a growing community of artists and designers, Lego has established itself as much more than a mere child’s toy.

Photograph: Gilg Frick

Photograph: Gilg Frick

When it comes to home decor, many homeowners like to think outside the box, exploring some rather unusual and creative ideas. Lego is a versatile and dynamic design tool which can be used to create some amazing home additions. With quirky property designs emerging as a new trend, Lego decor has been seen popping up in more and more homes, adding colour and unique style to properties.

Spokesperson for Plentific, Stephen Jury, commented: “People are always looking for new and exciting ways to revamp their homes, and Lego has provided just the tool for homeowners to design their own unique decorations around the house. With hundreds of different colours and shapes, carrying out decoration work using Lego bricks provides unlimited options and ensures each design is customised to the homeowners taste.

"There are plenty of designs out there from creative individuals who have pushed the boundaries of what these bricks can be used for. Here are a few examples we love:"

Photograph: Lisbet Spörndly

Photograph: Lisbet Spörndly

Add a splash of colour to your kitchen with this bright utensils pot. Ideal for storing your salad servers, spatula, ladles and whisks, this Lego pot is guaranteed to liven up any kitchen. By experimenting with Lego brick sizes and colours, it’s possible to produce a truly bespoke kitchen accessory to display in pride of place in your home.

photograph: MOnkiStuff

photograph: MOnkiStuff

This Lego kitchen splashback is a great way to inject colour to the room in a fun and unique way. The use of different size bricks means adding little details such as functioning windows and doors is easy, and due to the structure of the bricks, keeping features like wall sockets exposed for that all important coffee maker is simple. You could take this one step further by designing a food themed pattern to decorate your walls, or even use the basic idea to add a touch of colour to your living room by running a line of Lego bricks along the skirting board.

Photograph: SeanKeney.com

Photograph: SeanKeney.com

A Lego lamp is great addition to any home. The sleek style is clean and crisp, with the use of solid colour proving how diverse Lego home accessories can be. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could experiment with your own shape designs and size to suit your preferences and create a talking point within any room. 

Photograph: oneartsymama.com

Photograph: oneartsymama.com

Feeling under the weather? Cheer yourself up with this brightly coloured Lego tissue box. If you build the cover around an original box, leaving out the base, you can slip this over a new box when it runs out. No need for any deconstruction when re-stocking your tissues.

Of course, it would be easy to take it one step further: instead of enclosing the top, leave it open, add a few more layers, and hey presto! You’ll have a completely new design fit for all those lovely spring flowers, ideal for freshening up your home.

(Post is not sponsored)  

WIN a Scooby Doo Stretch Armstrong! Plus Our Stretch-Off Vlog

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Here is a blast from the past! Stretch Armstrong is back and stretchier than ever. We tested out mini Stretch and Fetch from  Character Toys to see who was the most flexible.

It was a lot of fun tying Stretch in knots and watching him magically return to his original shape. Watch our vlog below to see him in action.

These new releases are the 7" size, and are priced around £12. There is also the big size available, I wonder if Original or Small Stretch is more stretchy? Maybe we will leave that for a future vlog on the Smix Brix channel.

The whole range is available at Smyths Toys, but we also have one to give away.

Want to win your own stretchy toy to experiment with? You can win a Stretch Scooby Doo by entering below. 

Family Friendly London #1- The London Duck Tours

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First of all, all these London posts are horrifically overdue. I'm talking a year overdue. We visited London for the first time together in Easter 2016, so that's why Smix looks younger in the photos. 

All my photos were stuck on my old iPhone 4, and I've finally got the first visit transferred to my iPad Pro to actually be able to share them. Then I've to try to get August 2015's visit moved over too! 

Anyway, the reason I wanted to blog was to share with you the things we got up to on our visit. A family friendly guide to a break in London, what's worth spending money on and what's a rip off? Will your child even be interested in the event or tour you've booked? If it's the  London Duck Tours, then the answer is yes- they'll love it.

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I had been to London a handful of times over the years, but this was Smix's first time there, so I thought starting with a tour to see the sights would be handy.  

We got our train from Gatwick airport into London, then to Waterloo, the nearest station to the Duck Tours terminal. It's on the road beside the London Eye, so if you just leave the station and walk towards the Eye, which you can't miss, you'll find the Duck Tours.

They advise booking online, which means you will definitely get a tour on the day of your visit, however if you want to try last minute you can always purchase a ticket at the depot. Prices are adult £27, child £19 or family £79. The tour isn't recommended for under-3s, but at the same time there was no reason I saw that a sleeping baby couldn't come on board, and it's up to yourself to decide that sort of thing. Luggage and prams are stowed at the depot for you to collect on your return.

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Your duck tour lasts about 75 minutes, with 30 minutes on the river. You have a driver and a tour guide. Our tour guide was very jolly & joked with us during the tour. 

You'll get to see many of the best tourist sights, including Westminster, Big Ben, Trafalger Square and The Ritz. Smix was excited because the guide pointed out a location from the Paddington movie.

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Then it's time to hit the water. This is the exciting part. You approach the muddy, brown water beside the huge MI5 & MI6 buildings and splash! 

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You drive slowly through the water past the huge MI5 building. If you are a major James Bond fan, there is a special Bond themed tour you can take with them too. 

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You won't get wet, but if you are wary you can zip close the windows beside your seats. You can get some amazing photos of the sights from the river, that you wouldn't be able to photograph otherwise. 

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The tour concludes with a sneaky peek at Buckingham Palace from the side. 

So is the tour worth going on? If you have kids aged six and up, it's a total yes. You cover many of the big tourist spots that a regular bus tour would hit, but you have the added novelty of taking to the river. The tour guides are funny, engaging and make the trip educational for all. 

I would definitely recommend Duck Tours, and I would most likely go again if Smix wanted to give it a whirl around river next time we visit too. 

The Schadenfreude Maintée- My 5 Favourite Documentaries About Failed Movie Making

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If you follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed that I tweet a lot about what I'm watching. My favourite genres of tv shows are documentaries, or reality tv, so two absolute opposites. I love long, detailed, complicated documentaries, which I'll follow up with 45 minutes of watching Megan McKenna stick her bottom lip out like a spoilt child (I flipping love Megan McKenna).

I currently have Netflix again for a spell, as they are showing the new ninth season of 'RuPaul's Drag Race', airing the new episodes on Saturday mornings (it airs on Friday nights in the US), so I've rewatched 'Making a Murderer' and some other documentaries on there. I may well do a post about the best documentaries they have to offer, but my list today has films from them, some I've found hosted free online, and some you have to buy or rent from Amazon to catch.

I can't recall how I stumbled upon the 'failed movie making' genre, but I gathered a nice little selection of documentaries showcasing what can go wrong in Hollywood, from budget spirals to actor meltdowns to attacks of extreme narcissism which demolishes a fledgling career before it gets started.

1. 'The Death of Superman Lives. What Happened?'

This documentary is just so much fun. Tall tales that will make you laugh from Kevin Smith and Tim Burton about their failed superhero movie project. I don't like superhero movies, but loved every minute of this documentary.

 Free in all it's glory here.

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2. 'Lost in La Mancha.'

Whilst liking 'Brazil', I'm not a huge Terry Gilliam fan otherwise, but I enjoyed this look into his failings to bring 'The Man Who Killed Don Quixote' to the screen. He and Johnny Depp battle weather, fighter jets & the lead not being able to sit down on a horse, amongst other set backs.

 Watch it on YouTube

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. 'The Sweat Box.'

This is a really hard to find, never actually released documentary, that legend says Disney tried to get banned. After the success of 'The Lion King', Disney started to put together a feature length cartoon set in Peru, with a prince and the pauper style storyline. Sting was brought on board to do the music, and so his wife picked up and camera and started documenting the process in the footage we see as the film 'The Sweat Box'.

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The movie begins as being called 'The Kingdom of the Sun', but 31 minutes in you start to see why Disney never wanted this behind the scenes film to see the light of day. Bosses screen the work so far and basically hate 90% of it. Characters, storylines and songs are scrapped. The chief writer looks like he's going to cry around 40 minutes.

The film ends up being what was released as 'The Emperor's New Groove', you know, the Disney film that's no-one's favourite.

 Watch it for free here.

4. 'Lost Soul. The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley's Island of Dr Moreau.'

In the late 90s, young, hip, indie director Richard Stanley wrote a script and was given the reigns of Dr Moreau to be his first big break in Hollywood. The concept art and ideas that are talked about in the first 20 minutes of this documentary about how it all went wrong, look really cool, and I would have loved to see the finished movie, had Stanley taken it that far.

Unfortunately things unravel as Stanley doesn't have the authority to stand up to bully lead actor Val Kilmer, and he breaks under the pressure of the studio's demands & the bad luck of poor weather on location.

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Already a train wreck (but such a fun one to watch), the real fun starts when Marlon Brando arrives on set about two thirds into the documentary, and begins to mess with the stand in director by changing the script and suggesting ideas. I've never actually seen the finished 'Island of Dr. Moreau' that was released, but it's worth going into this documentary knowing the movie that was made has been named one of the worst films ever seen on screen.

Catch it on Netflix. 

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5. 'Overnight.'

'Overnight' is pure schadenfreude from beginning to end. Immensely unlikeable oik Troy Duffy is an ordinary guy, who happens to bump into movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, who likes his Irish gangster script 'The Boondock Saints'. Harvey buys the script, bringing Duffy on to direct, but also says he will sign his band for albums, and buy a bar for he & Duffy to split and run. Troy's band is made up of his long suffering friends, and brother.

Troy Duffy goes on to completely alienate and infuriate all friends, family and well wishers over the next couple of years. His arrogance and actions will amaze you. He is king of the pr**ks. He wastes the opportunity of a lifetime for himself and his friends, by being stubborn, rude and at times repulsive.

You will enjoy finding out how many albums they sold at the end.

I couldn't find a free version, but it's worth renting and streaming on Amazon video, trust me.

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So if you are loving this genre there are a few more documentaries I can suggest, some I have seen, some I haven't. 

'Hearts of Darkness', a study of the perils of producing 'Apocalypse Now'  is one of the most famous troubled making-of documentaries, watch it for free here. There's also 'Burden of Dreams' a documentary about the famous documentarian Werner Herzog. 

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If you want something more lighthearted,   'Doomed!' visits the lovingly pathetic 90s' Fantastic Four reboot attempt, which looks incredibly dated beside our new franchises of Superheroes of all descriptions.

I haven't seen 'Jodorowsky's Dune', but having neither read or watched the original Dune, it's not on my to view list, but it might be your kind of thing- free copy here.

Finally two films about the trials of aspiring filmmakers, 'American Movie' and 'Kingdom Come'. I haven't seen either of these, so if you do give them a spin, let me know what you think. 

May Day in Holywood, Home of Ireland's Last Remaining Maypole.

Holywood is a small town about fifteen minutes drive from our house. We lived there the first two years of Smix's life. It's a very wealthy area, and the town reflects that. Lots of independent boutiques, indie toy shops, cafes, delis, it's a great afternoon out. 

Holywood is also home to Ireland's last remaining all year round Maypole. Other villages might make a pole to dance with ribbons round for the May Bank Holiday, but Holywood has one there in place all year round. So a few years ago they decided to make the celebrations a bigger deal, and now on the Monday Bank Holiday the streets get closed off for pedestrians only and from 10am to 4pm there are stalls for charities with buns, Bric a brac, tombolas galore, and another street becomes a food fair. Sweets, crisp sticks, burgers, paella, fancy hot dogs, etc. 

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We learnt from earlier years that getting parked can be tricky. So instead we drove and parked for free at the Transport Museum in Cultra. From the car park it's a ten minute walk to Cultra station, and a four minute train journey to Holywood.  

We got there about 11am and already the town was bustling. We shopped the junk & second hand stalls & I bought a little wooden music box house for £1.

By noon it was getting difficult to walk up and down the streets as it was becoming so busy, so we strolled down towards the seafront and began our walk back toward Cultra. 

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The weather was perfect, so sunny and bright but not too hot.  A note for other families, the playground at Seahill seems to be closed at the moment for refurbishment. If you do go down to the seafront however, there was an ice cream van there today.

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This is the yacht club where my parents had their wedding reception. 

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Magical little dream house. 

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Back by Cultra station there was a Maypole illustration. It took us about an hour to walk back via the coast. 

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