Category Archives: My reviews

Making brushing fun: Playbrush review

Playbrush toothbrush reviewDoes anyone else struggle with the two minute rule, twice a day, for their children’s teeth clean? I’m not even sure the adults in our household follow that one religiously… But with tiny teeth, some adult ones in the mix and some having been whisked away by the tooth fairy, cleaning two mouths well for the right amount of time isn’t easy.

I remember I struggled when Scrip was two, but she got better and then D came along and we repeated the pattern. Now they sometimes want to do their own (but more often than not don’t), and even when they do I’m not sure they’re doing it right. I remember my dentist saying that until they can tie their own shoelaces they can’t properly brush their own teeth.

So, Playbrush has been a bit of a revelation. I first saw it popping up on Instagram stories across the country a few months ago and I was really keen to try it out when we were offered. We only ended up receiving one not two, but for a while that created a good healthy competition!

If you haven’t seen Playbrush, it’s a clever electric toothbrush for children that links with an app and helps your child brush correctly themselves. It can track which teeth are being brushed, if they’re pressing too hard, how long and gives scores at the end. There are games, puzzles and colouring and trial runs. There are a certain amount of free ones and more you can subscribe to.

Three year old D likes the Coach setting, where you see a cartoon mouth in front of you and you’re shown exactly where you need to brush to zap the animated germs. It makes it really straightforward (and fun) for him. While six year old Scrip enjoys the games, particularly the colouring one.

Overall, it feels a bit more relevant for Scrip and she’s been the keenest to keep it going and beat her scores. D finds it harder to work out the perspective and where to brush, and can’t understand the ‘brushing too hard warnings’, but his sister is only too happy to help/tell him off!

Thanks, Playbrush, for sending us one to try and helping turn a daily chore into something fun.

The Playbrush Smart Sonic costs £29.99 from Playbrush and includes 1 Playbrush Smart Sonic, 1 brush head, 1 charging dock and 4 free games. Additional games and brush heads are available through subscription from £3.99.

Let’s talk pelvic floors: vSculpt pelvic floor toner review

vSculpt ReviewSince having children, I’ve talked to total strangers about things I would only have shared with my closest friends before. It seems to become the norm.

With a six-week old Scrip in a sling I vividly remember sitting in my local park chatting to mums I’d met just an hour or so before swapping blow-by-blow details of our birth experiences over double shot lattes. I had a complete stranger come around to my house and squeeze my nipples within minutes of meeting me before I was diagnosed with thrush in my milk ducts (the pain was awful – she was a breastfeeding specialist), and I must hold the record for the most stretch and sweeps by the widest range of medical staff when I was overdue with D.

But I don’t remember going into detail about pelvic floor problems with anyone. Somehow, that’s been a bridge too far. And this despite the fact that I had weeks of women’s physio after both births including a range of exercises to perform afterwards which included using the interestingly named (and NHS approved) ‘Educator’ device.

I think it’s almost an accepted part of having children that you will lose muscle tone and you will experience problems afterwards. ‘Leave the trampolining to the little ones’, you’re told with a wink, certainly jogging and even sneezing can be a problem. There’s one thing I never read in Emma’s Diary.

And pelvic floor exercises – although we all know how important they are – can be tricky (do you know you’re really doing them properly every time?). They feel demoralising when nothing seems to change and are difficult to keep up regularly.

Even so, I was sceptical about trying out a so-called wonder pelvic floor toner (promising 90% less leakage, 95% more tightness) that worked with red and infrared light rays and demanded pretty much no effort from the user. Its ‘vaginal rejuvenation’ message sounded a bit too much like a classified ad claim.

But, after a lot of reading, a few questions and much research, the vSculpt seemed safe, very impressive and medically sound. So I gave it a go.

When it arrived and I unwrapped the beautiful white box to reveal the device, there was a certain amount of sharing photos and aubergine emojis to a sea of giggles and smutty comments. The vSculpt certainly doesn’t look like the chaste kegel balls you see advertised. It’s a lot more ‘adult’ and a lot less clinical in looks than my old friend the Educator.

But, it’s designed for a purpose. You use the special gel provided, insert it, start the lights and lie back and think of England. Or, read a gardening magazine as I did! There is a light vibration with various settings which is meant to help with the toning, but even so, the whole experience certainly felt more medical than erotic.

You use the toner every other day for a week on the first setting which takes 8 minutes, then the next one the next week, which adds a minute, and the one after, after that. The most difficult thing for me was remembering to do it every other day and not missing one out, which I did on occasion.

And the results? Amazingly, it has made a difference. I’ve definitely noticed an improvement in toning in everyday life. I haven’t braved the trampoline just yet, but I can see what the hype is about.

At £400, it’s an investment buy, but one that I could certainly understand women like me making.

Thank you vSculpt for sending me the product to trial. You can buy vSculpt from their website.

Dino Fingerlings – uncovering Untamed Raptors

Untamed Raptor reviewIt’s funny to think that even now, years after Mr Frosty and A La Carte Kitchen made it on to my Christmas and birthday lists, there are still fads and must-have toys causing a ripple in the playground. I have to say that now as a parent, I’m not always the first to react to the latest craze, as I know it’s usually cards to collect one minute, spinning toys the next… But the Untamed Raptors from Fingerling were something I knew both 6 year old and 3 year old would enjoy.

Like the Fingerling monkeys before him (or her), this is a little toy with a lot of personality. Perched on your finger (or thumb if you have particularly little fingers), it quickly comes to life but rather than just being cheeky and cheery, you can actually control how the Raptor reacts to you.

You can choose to pet it, making it coo or hum, or, if you’re feeling more mischievous, shake it, making it angry, snarling and gnashing its tiny teeth. This reaction did actually scare and excite D in equal measure: to be fair these toys are not officially designed for three year olds!

But I couldn’t have denied D the joy and excitement of unwrapping the Raptor when we received it through the post. I put his reaction on my Instagram stories. He couldn’t believe he was allowed to play with it first! And Scrip loved it, too, when he let her have a try (much) later.

There are four Raptors to choose from with suitably carnivorous-sounding names: Fury, Blaze, Stealth, and Razor. These little interactive creatures react to touch, motion, and sound and make over 40 different sounds and animations. So there’s a lot of variety and the fun definitely lasts for a while. The only downside is that Scrip has now started asking for a Fingerling Monkey once more to make up the set…

Untamed Raptors are £16.99 from toy shops but we were treated to one for review – thank you. For more about the range visit the Untamed website.

Being three meets Being Brunel: a birthday day out

Being Brunel“We’re going to a pirate ship!” Not strictly true but the idea definitely captured D’s imagination on his third birthday, as we set off for a day out at the nearby SS Great Britain. He might have been looking forward to cutlasses and treasure chests; my husband and I were looking forward to seeing the new Being Brunel permanent display.

Our trip started with a stop at the M Shed, after a friend’s tip off that an open air steam train is running up and down the dock during certain weekends. We took the first return trip of the day and D thought it was magical, and didn’t even cry at the loud noises, even though the whistle was just near us. You can disembark outside the SS Great Britain directly but our journey was non-stop. We also decided to come back to the M Shed another time because the displays and cafe there were brilliant.

Despite it being a drizzly day, there was plenty of colour as we walked along the dockside, with the bright rainbow shades of the houses in the distance and then the multi-coloured flags blowing in the wind on board the SS Great Britain, which raised the excitement levels. The ship really is magnificent, even from a distance.

SS Great Britain

This was my husband’s first time on board so we took some time to look around the edge of the dock and the museum. The attention to detail is brilliant – from the old fashioned posters outside to the tour guide who prepares you to step back in time as you enter the area. Then we headed to Being Brunel, the permanent exhibition new this year.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel and his majestic designs were a regular feature of my up-bringing, as he designed the Tamar Bridge which took us from Cornwall into deepest, darkest Devon; the first London landmark we reached, Paddington Station, and the most famous structure in my university city of Bristol – Clifton Suspension Bridge.

I’m pleased to say that Scrip knows a lot about him as well, having studied Brunel at school, so she was equally interested to hear more about his life. Once again, the attention to detail is good: you can pause on entry to have a photo taken wearing one of a range of replica trademark top hats – which my father later told us was chosen by Brunel to add to his height.

The first stop is a copy of his dining room, beautifully embellished and with some digital portraits that come to life and tell his story. Through the second door the children liked the moving train carriage, which bumped along when they climbed aboard, and the gigantic 3D Brunel face on the wall, which rises two stories high. As always when looking around museums with children you only tend to get a glimpse of displays before being made to move on, but there was a lot in there to look at.

Being Brunel

His life story is told through time lines, documents and images and the journey continues upstairs with more displays. We didn’t make it into the Brunel video experience as it promised flashing lights and loud noises, which one of our children wasn’t keen on, but that also sounded interesting. I should imagine this would be a big draw for older children, as there’s probably less that’s hands-on in here than in the main museum.

Then we carried on to the SS Great Britain herself and enjoyed another brilliant tour of the ship, complete with sounds, smells and scuttling rats in the kitchens. I didn’t manage to make it to Go Aloft, the climbing experience, as it was raining harder by then. So I’d love to come back and do it one day. But it was certainly a great day out and one little boy had to be carried back to the car, and no doubt dreamed of pirate adventures as he slept the whole way home.

Being Brunel

I’ve also written about 12 things to spot on the SS Great Britain.

Thanks to the SS Great Britain for letting us experience the SS Great Britain for the day. A family ticket costs £45.

Our current craze for fairies and win a My Fairy Garden

There’s a real craze for fairies in our house. It started with Scrip looking after the fairy house at school (I’m still not sure what form this house takes but it seems to provide hours of fun at break time), continued with night time notes to the Tooth Fairy, even though she still has a full set still intact, and then carried on with Tinkerbell and her friends who flew in at Christmas.

My Fairy Garden

Then there’s the fairy dust, tiny fairy door and now, the final piece in the puzzle, her My Fairy Garden. She was delighted to try one out for herself as we’d bought a few variations such as the flowerpot for friends’ sixth birthdays recently. I like the way there’s a bit of nature mixed in – with our version you get some grass seeds to sprinkle in the soil and grow around the miniature house and accessories.

There’s a generous-sized tray that you fill with soil and then add the other parts of the scene to. Everything is quite straightforward to slot together. There’s a house with a door that opens and top that comes off, a tiny washing line complete with pegs, a shell water feature, a toadstool and a little plastic mouse (which is not my favourite bit!) There’s also a leaflet with some other ideas for playing inside.

My Fairy Garden

Fairy-sized flowers to stick into the soil that the grass will grow up around come with the set, as does a colourful path to lay and, of course, the fairy herself who’s kneeling down enjoying the scene. Ours is called Belle.

Anything that encourages children to interact with nature and rewards some patience as they watch the seeds grow is a good toy in my books. I wonder if I can encourage her into the garden to water my veggies this summer?

If you’d like to win a My Fairy Garden for a fairy adorer in your household, just use the Rafflecopter link below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The rules

    • Entrants must be 18 or over and UK residents.
    • The prize consists of a My Fairy Garden, RRP of £14.99.
    • Competition closes at 12.00am on Monday 12th March 2018. Any entries submitted after this date will not be included.
    • The winner will be selected randomly through a prize draw and announced on and through email.
    • There is no cash prize alternative.

Our My Fairy Garden is £14.99 and is easily available in the shops or online. Thanks for gifting the My Fairy Garden to us to review and making a newly six year old very happy.

How to get the kids outside in winter with Really Big Bubbles

Really Big Bubbles I aspire to be an outdoor parent. I love the garden, country walks, parks, sandy beaches. And we’ve had some lovely times exploring a range of beautiful, child-friendly places near Bath. But recently I’ve found that with the grey weather and windy days it takes much more to persuade everyone to muffle up and go outside. With all the new games, books and treats Christmas probably hasn’t helped.

Last weekend I tried a different tack and pursuaded everyone to play in the garden with the promise of some giant bubbles – the biggest they’d ever seen. They could chase them, pop them and even have a go at blowing enormous ones themselves. And it worked!

Even on a cold afternoon we had some brilliant fun with a kit from Really Big Bubbles. In our pack there were two bubble blowers which had sturdy wooden handles with rubber, and rope to make the bubbles, one smaller than the other, and a big bucket of handmade bubble potion which was aqua in colour and smelt floral, and not at all like detergent.

Blowing Really Big Bubbles

The mixture had arrived the week before, fully wrapped in plastic bubbles of it own so there was no danger of it spilling, and the box which held everything was big and suitably exciting, which is always a bonus.

We found that the wands were easy for D to handle at two and three quarters, and foolproof enough that he quickly managed to blow some big bubbles. So, no toddler frustration. Their favourite bit, though, was me manning the wands and them chasing bubbles all over the garden as they swirled and whirled and dispersed into many more.

Toddler Really Big BubblesD even got his water pistol out to shoot them, to much delight. Although the bubbles are pretty robust and don’t pop easily! And they really are big! It’s not hard to blow some enormous, sausage shaped ones which look majestic as they loop through the air.

Kids and Really Big BubblesWe were outside for a good thirty or forty minutes which meant a lot of fresh air, lots of smiles and, because they were running around, no one was cold. We even saved some for Scrip’s friend when he came for a sleepover. They’d make a good party activity and the company even do wedding kits.

Even better, they come from Cornwall so I’m sure they’re handmade with love. We’ll be ordering some more.

Thanks to Really Big Bubbles for sending us a large bubble set (with two wands) to review. Bubbles start at £6.50 and the standard set starts at £20.

A Slow Christmas: The Hape Quadrilla Space City Marble Run

Hape Quadrilla space city marble runI spent last Tuesday night building a Quadrilla Space City Marble Run from Hape, as part of my build up to another slow Christmas. Actually, it wasn’t hard, even after a long day and I enjoyed it, although it did require some concentration. The marble run is built up from various colour-coded blocks and wooden tracks, unlike the more common plastic ones which come with long, ready-angled pieces to click together. But the creation process is part of the beauty of slow toys.

The box is suitably large and exciting and it’s all beautifully packaged when you lift the lid. It won’t be for long! However, there’s definitely enough space for all the parts to go back in quickly and easily when it’s time to tidy up.

Hape Quadrilla Space City Marble Run

Designed to glow in the dark, there are special luminous marbles and glow stickers to put on the blocks so you can have some extra fun. If the stickers walk off elsewhere, as they’re likely to in our house, you can still enjoy it as there are numerous ways to build different runs. There’s a booklet that comes with it that shows each build stage-by-stage, with the area built up greyed out each time.

Hape Quadrilla space city marble runAs with all Hape toys there are sturdy, sustainable wooden parts and I think D, now 2.5 and Scrip, now 5.5, will both enjoy playing with this, albeit D probably won’t have the precision to build the tallest towers or follow all the diagrams and the grown ups might be getting involved (which is no hardship). The space station top also glows in the dark and that’s one of the few plastic parts, but it’s not an essential bit.

There are a few fiddly bits needed to keep the marbles running smoothly and not dropping out the back, and it might take a bit of adjusting to make sure everything runs well (or maybe that’s just me!) but you soon get the hang of it. And I think this will be great as part of my desire to get Scrip more involved in STEM toys.

And the moment of truth? It took me about 10 minutes to build my run and then drop a series of marbles down to helter skelter their way through down in different directions, as the special blocks send them a range of ways, before falling into the collecting tray with a satisfying plop.

This is surely one the kids will love and I can’t wait to pop it under the tree for Christmas. The only problem is it’s a joint present, so let’s hope they share nicely.

Thanks to Hape for sending me a sample to review for the blog. The Space City Marble Run costs £84.99 RRP.

Foraging and roaming around Cornwall

Foraging in CornwallMy sister gave me a brilliant birthday present this year – a foraging course in Cornwall with Rachel Lambert from Wild Food Foraging. I took it a week ago when I foraged with Rachel and ten or so others in authentic Cornish weather.

The course was hedgerow, woodland and coastal and it was all the way down towards Lands End in a beautiful area that I don’t know as it’s an hour away from where I grew up. But it was stunning with a walk along the coastal path, through fields, woods and along a small, secluded beach foraging for black mustard and sea spinach, which was delicious.

I knew some of the nine or ten plants that we foraged (wild garlic, or three cornered leek, for instance) but some I didn’t know at all and some I knew but I had no idea you could eat – daisies, gorse flowers and hawthorn berries, for example. Rachel showed us how to identify them by ticking off all of each of their characteristics as we studied each plant, and then we tried each one. I also took some home for everyone to taste. Rachel was on hand to make sure we picked the right plants and also gave us pointers about those to be careful of and to avoid.

Foraged food

We also enjoyed some ‘tasters’ along the way, which were biscuits and fruit leather which Rachel had made ahead, and which were delicious. I bought her book which has some common plants, lots of photos and a recipe for each one.

The course was a three mile circular walk which was three hours long, and I loved every minute. It was really engaging and Rachel was particularly good with the two children who came along who were older than mine but still primary school age. They seemed to really enjoy it, too, and tried everything.

If you book something like this but are put off by the weather on the day, don’t be. It was definitely worth it. Just wrap up warm and turn up. And Rachel’s starting a forage and cook course – three ways with one foraged ingredient – next year.

That was the Saturday and I went on my own. On the Sunday we had a lovely family amble all together down to the wild Cornish seas. D walked the whole way and they loved splashing about, picking up leaves and dipping the net in the streams. Then it was birthday cake for my mum before we drove back with kids in PJs. A perfect weekend.

Cornish walk

Can you play and display? Beautifully crafted children’s toys

So, our building work is pretty much complete (hooray!) and I’m rather excited about our new wall of white shelves, in particular. They’re currently a work in progress (see below) but I’m hoping to make them and their displays as Instagram-worthy and Pin-worthy as possible.


I’d mentally allocated about three shelves to the children in the corner near their little table (which they seem to be rapidly out-growing). Realistically, this allocation has now more than doubled and obviously all the shelves within reaching height are actually fair game for them, so the precious things are slowly moving further and further up.

It does mean that while some of the toys are in baskets, some of them are also on display, so I have to say I am keeping an eye out for aesthetically pleasing ones which don’t make me shudder. I’m planning another slow Christmas and wooden and handmade toys seem to be the most beautiful. Amongst those which are very displayable is this lovely cat puzzle from Hape.


I’ve featured Hape in the past and even applied to be an Ambassador, as I like their ethical approach and beautifully crafted toys. This puzzle is no exception with colourful cats which all tone in well. It’s a 3D jigsaw which doesn’t have lots of pieces but does need mastering as there are three layers. A good challenge for D who’s now 2.5 years old.

Hape cat puzzle

And better still, it has pride of place on the shelves. I also thought it was good value for a gift or, dare I say, stocking filler… at just £8. Off to rearrange those shelves.

Thanks to Hape for sending me the puzzle which is available from Debenhams.


Diggers and Dumpers weekend – a Tractor Ted live extravaganza

Tractor TedD’s been talking about visiting ‘Tractor Ted land’ since we went to the last Tractor Ted Live (Big Machines) at Bowood earlier in the year. His wish came true last Sunday when we went along to Diggers and Dumpers Weekend.

For the uninitiated, Tractor Ted is an animated green Tractor but the real stars of his show are actual farm machines like combines, diggers and dumpers which are filmed going about their daily tasks with child-friendly commentary. There are DVDs ,which have D in thrall every time, and also books, clothes and toys and D and many, many other small children – some of whom we saw wide-eyed at Bowood – love them all.

We first heard about Tractor Ted at a parent bloggers’ event Talk to Mums Family Playtime in London and the DVDs we received then have been nectar for D. So, to live so close to Bowood and be able to go along to see digger dancing, ride on mini plastic replicas, sit in a massive machine, run a children’s Grand National and bounce on a Tractor Ted bouncy castle was his favourite kind of day out.

It was a packed programme with lots going on in the main arena and plenty around the outside, too, all accompanied by the very catchy Tractor Ted tunes. Although D is the super fan, both children enjoyed the activities and neither wanted to go at the end of the day. Plus it was decent weather so we had a picnic in beautiful Bowood and the children had a good run around. Here are some of our highlights in pictures.

Tractor Ted 1 Tractor Ted 2 Tractor Ted 3 Tractor Ted 4 Tractor Ted 5 Tractor Ted 6

Thank you to Tractor Ted for a set of tickets (and one very happy toddler).