Category Archives: My reviews

Gentle bathtimes with Skinfix (and lots of bubbles included!)

Skinfix reviewBoth Scrip and Baby D had dry and easily irritated skin when they were very little. We used slippery emollient in their baths and banned bubblebath for a while. This has crept back in recently (along with bath foam, bath crayons, anything messy really!) but I do try and buy simple, sensitive-friendly bath products and definitely ban all parabens.

I hadn’t heard of Skinfix products when I was offered a trial but was quickly impressed with the list of pluses on their new Skinfix Baby Regimen, including the fact the products are free from steroids, tree nut and peanut ingredients, soy, sulphates, parabens and phthalates. In fact, they’re 98% natural. Designed for eczema-prone and sensitive skins, Skinfix is based on skin healing balm originally developed in Yorkshire.

I liked the natural smell (unperfumed but fresh-smelling and slightly oaty, I thought, which might well be the oatmeal on the ingredient list), the Gentle Hair and Body Wash made good bubbles and washed their hair well. The nappy cream was fine on D’s skin (although it wasn’t really irritated at the time) and my husband and I both used the creams on our dry hands as well as the children’s bodies, which worked well!

I was impressed. The only barrier for me would be the price, which is more than I’d usually spend at £12.99 for the Hair and Body Wash. But if I was looking for a really simple solution for very sensitive or allergic baby skin then I would definitely be tempted by Skinfix.

 

Skinfix is available to buy in Boots from 17th June. Thank you to Skinfix for sending us samples to try.

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Family-friendly, gender-neutral fabric – introducing Helen Baker

Helen Baker HomeWhen my work, my home life and my blog collide, it’s a happy day. Helen is an incredibly talented new fabric designer who I’m delighted to have gracing my blog page and she’s also one of my best friends from home in Cornwall. With my PR and comms business I’ve just been helping with the launch which was held one balmy evening at The Makery in Bath this week.

Helen Baker

When I stepped inside the room Helen was busy setting up it was the first time I’d seen her designs all spread out in one place, and they took my breath away. I love them because they are simple but beautifully crafted, use a pallet of complementary, soulful colours inspired by Cornwall and I could instantly imagine any of them in my own home.

As a mum of two boys and wife of a husband with a creative eye, Helen’s experienced in what works well for modern families. Here are a few more reasons to take a look at the ‘You can take the girl out of Cornwall’ range on Helen Baker.

  • Everything’s gender-netural and stylishly family-friendly
  • She only uses eco-inks and 100% cotton
  • Designs are inspired by contemporary Cornwall – no more cliched anchors and fishing boats
  • I love the fabric colour names – like mizzle, saffron and lobster
  • Everything’s designed and made in the UK
  • Her eye for detail is impeccable including using actual surfboard dimensions for the Surfboard Scallop print
  • She’s a mumpreneur and works everything around family life

I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking 🙂

ss in lobster lampshade cloud cushion in saffron room scene close up label copy lampshade stack raindrops cushion in mizzle fabricstack on chair ss with orange starfish multi fabric

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12 things we loved doing on the ss Great Britain

ss Great BritainIt’s one of those days out I’ve wanted to go on for a while – and it was worth the wait. We had a brilliant time at the ss Great Britain where there was so much to see and do Easter Trail aside. Although I have to say the Trail was definitely Scrip’s best bit (spotting the animals, sticking on the stickers and enjoying the chocolate egg at the end of it – the Easter Trail runs until 23rd April 2017).

We went with friends and there was one 5 year old (Scrip), one 4 year old boy and two toddlers – one two, one almost-two (D). Here were 12 of our ss Great Britain highlights:

  1. The excitement at seeing this magnificent ship for the first time. It’s been so beautifully restored and as my friend who came with me said, even nowdays when we’re used to massive aeroplanes and cruise ships the scale of this up close still takes your breath away.ss GB anchor
  2. Exploring the dockyard which is laid out as it would have been in Victorian times. The horse poo and the toilet were particular draws…ss GB toilet
  3. Steering the ship. The captain (in full costume) explained how it would have taken two crew members to do it they would have faced backwards to get their steering orders.ss GB steering ship
  4. Scrubbing the decks! The children did this for ages!ss GB scrubbing decks
  5. Walking around the many decks on board the ship – there’s so much to see on board and it feels like you get to look into every area. ss GB
  6. The fact the Easter Trail drew on integral parts of life on the ss Great Britain life and wasn’t just tacked on as they sometimes are.
  7. Dressing up. There were plenty of children’s and adults’ costumes beautifully made. Not a big dresser-upper, Scrip really enjoyed putting on her full dress and mop cap.ss GB dressing up
  8. The contrasts on board. First Class was beautifully grand with a lovely light banqueting hall versus the cramped conditions in Second Class and then the farm animals at the very bottom.
  9. The models were all well done – expressive and just the right amount to bring things to life. There was a doctor, Brunel himself and a newborn baby. Again younger children may be a little scared of some but you could avoid them if so.
  10. The sounds from the creaky toilet door! I’ll let you see what I mean for yourselves!ss GB climbing
  11. The rats in the kitchen! Very well done. Although the younger ones were a little scared in the darker rooms I found them fascinating with full sights and smells.
  12. Going ‘underwater’ to walk around the hull. On a sunny day there’s something magical about this. Just look at that propeller!ss GB propeller

There’s also a well stocked gift shop and cafe although we actually headed down to the quayside and got the little ferry (90p for adults, children go free) across to Spoke & Stringer opposite for some lunch in the sunshine.

Thanks to the ss Great Britain for letting us experience the fun this Easter. Family tickets (2 adults, 2 children) are £37 and you get unlimited re-visits for 12 months.

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Treating and being treated: Mother’s Day

Mother's DayI’ve sent off my card (a beautiful one from local stationers Needle & Fred) and my sisters and I are planning a joint present for the best mother I know 🙂

In terms of my wish list for Mother’s Day? I’d say these rank pretty highly:

  • Breakfast in bed (preferably involving poached eggs)
  • A hot cup of tea and a magazine
  • A lie in (a realistic one – I’m talking 8am rather than early afternoon)
  • A long bath with no small children helpfully sharing their plastic toys which I’ve already tried to hide
  • (See how many of these revolve around relaxation?…)
  • A lovely sunny day
  • Some time in the garden
  • No whining before 9am (again, realistic – I’m not asking for miracles)

I would obviously love a grand gesture (hint, hint) but small treats are just as special. Baylis & Harding sent me some Mother’s Day treats which I hope might put a smile on my Mum’s face, are spot on to aid relaxation and can still be ordered in time for the weekend.

Baylis & Harding candle Baylis & Harding Tin  Baylis & Harding Socks

I thought the candle in particular was lovely and would fit into a bathroom or a bedroom very stylishly – I was surprised it only came in at £15 (it’s really large). The enamel tin is packed with goodies as well as doubling up as a planter. And the luxe socks are always a nice addition and are beautifully soft, plus I love the name of the range – Pink Prosecco & Cassis. Gives me some other ideas for pressies!…

I hope you have a restful Mother’s Day and get treated as I’m sure you deserve to be.

Thanks to Baylis & Harding for sending the goodies which were:

Linen Rose & Cotton Large Single Wick Candle, £15 from House of Fraser
Pink Prosecco & Cassis Luxury Foot Set, £8 from Amazon
Linen Rose & Cotton Bathing Essentials Tin, £30 from Argos

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Scrip’s 5th birthday – our one stop shop for party supplies

PartyBagsAndSupplies.jpgWith a busy start to the year work-wise I really enjoyed spending some time planning Scrip’s 5th birthday party. It was nice to concentrate on something totally different and fun.

We were lucky enough to hire a spacious converted barn at Jamie’s Farm, I bought up all the green food dye I could for Scrip’s farm cake, we found lucky dip presents at Tiger at a pound each and we got all our decorations and accessories at Party Bags & Supplies.

I was first approached by the site for a review at the end of last year and I kept it in mind for Scrip’s birthday. As soon as we knew there was a farm theme I had a browse of the site and found there was a wide range of items on offer – from ready-made party packs to mix and match plates, cups, balloons and even games.

Party table

We based our theme on the venue but we could have equally been inspired by the site itself which has almost 100 themes on offer – from Batman v Superman to Fairies to Glitzy Gold. I’d say any age is catered for (even grown ups). There’s everything from traditional themes (football, butterflies, unicorns) to current children’s cartoons (Paw Patrol, The Good Dinosaur, Moana). There’s even a whole section on 1st birthdays.

Paper pom pom

Some accessories were definitely more to my taste than others (I particularly loved the paper pom poms and the Very Hungry Caterpillar range) but I’m sure children would love everything, lurid colours and all! We went with farm cups and plates as part of ours which Scrip was very pleased with.

Farm party supplies

I found our £30 review budget stretched pretty far. We also chose balloons – including a fab and massive silver 5th birthday balloon, designed for helium but fine just blown up normally – noisy blowers and sugarcraft cake decorations. They do a lot of cheap party bag fillers, party games and even accessories for dressing up.

I was pleasantly surprised with the ranges, inspiration and prices on offer. It’s not the most beautiful site but it’s easy to navigate and find what you like. Delivery was quick and everything looked good. Most was good quality but I was a little disappointed with the blowers that didn’t all make a noise.

Party Bags & Supplies

But generally it’s a great one stop shop and well worth a browse when planning a party. I only wish I’d bought Thank You cards as well…

Thanks to Party Bags & Supplies who gave me a £30 voucher to spend on Scrip’s party accessories.

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Some festive fun – a Gingerbread Man waistcoat for boys

Gingerbread Boys Waistcoat

One of my oldest and best friends, Helen Baker, has reviewed this festive waistcoat modelled by her six year-old son.

This Gingerbread Man boys Christmas waistcoat by Dobell adds an element of fun to formal wear. For the times when a novelty Christmas jumper isn’t quite smart enough this waistcoat is ideal – it’s formal whilst maintaining childlike charm.

Both my six year-old son and I really liked the design, demonstrating its universal appeal; after all the gingerbread man is traditional, timeless and recognisable. Boy’s clothing can be a little unadventurous at times but this waistcoat is bright and busy, just like children at Christmas time!

The waistcoat is a good fit, true to size and very well made. It is made from a silk-feel fabric which is lovely to feel whilst crucially being comfortable for the child to wear. This luxurious feel fabric does mean that the waistcoat is dry clean only, but I would expect this of any formal wear.

This gingerbread man waistcoat is smart, of a high quality and has a playful sense of charm, perfect for festive family gatherings.

Thanks Dobell for gifting this Gingerbread Man boys’ waistcoat – currently reduced to £9.99 and in sizes up to age 13/14.

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Mothercare Spring/Summer 2017 Preview: my top picks

This month my London meetings coincided with the Mothercare Spring/Summer 2017 press day by happy coincidence. It meant adding a little bit of sunshine and a lot of bright colours and positive slogans to my day, which were much needed after this week’s sorry events. Plus I got to meet Hannah @ Budding Smiles and Alex @ Lamb & Bear which was a nice bonus (and a good reminder to buy Baby D some his Christmas leggings from Lamb & Bear!).

I’m a bit sad that Scrip is getting too big for some of Mothercare’s clothes because I think the ranges get better and better. For next summer, expect this:

Stripes
Never out of fashion and some can be unisex – I love stripes. Nautical, smock tops and sweet toddler tees to look forward to.
Mothercare topMothercare vestMothercare t-shirt

Slogans
I particularly love the ‘3 months’ and ‘6 months’ vests – taking their cues from the popular age cards. These are fab and would make good presents. My Rainbow Baby is a lovely idea and Little Bird slogans are as joyful as ever. Little Bird happy t-shirtMonth marker vestsRainbow baby vest

Animals
Some roarsome stuff here and great little details. The little faces and ears on the sleeves of this t-shirt and the dinosaur scale leggings are gorgeous. I’m very tempted by the bedding.

Mothercare jumperMothercare cat sleevesAnimal bedding

Perfect patterns
Orla Kiely sleepbags, retro dresses and that unisex babygro (I love unisex now, for obvious reasons!)

Little Bird sleepsuitOrla Kiely sleepbags Little Bird dress

I had a quick look at the ELC   toys – probably just as well I was child-free as a big tractor took centre stage and I wouldn’t have been able to drag Baby D away! Some nice Happy Land pieces and the portable potties looked good. Thanks for a good afternoon, Mothercare!

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Win an extra special dinner date

14570698_1794279780788117_8328664318184775630_oI’m feeling slightly jaded tonight after a meal out for my husband’s birthday yesterday. We went to the fantastic Hudson Steak House in Bath – as a veggie this was a sacrifice for my husband! Luckily I found my food delicious and imaginative – sweetcorn fritters and a side of french fries with truffle and parmesan. Yum. And apparently the steak was rather good, too.

Nights out are few and far between so it’s nice to organise something extra special. With Georgian architecture, like our new hometown of Bath, Grade I listed Moggerhanger Park is just that. It’s a beautiful country house hotel set in over 30 acres in rural Bedfordshire.

If you fancy sampling something a little special there’s the chance to win a meal for two and wine at Moggerhanger’s restaurant simply by liking and sharing their post. Simple.

They’ve also got a reputation as a lovely wedding venue so worth a peek.

This is a collaborative post with Moggerhanger Park.

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Best of the West – five recommendations for under fives near Bath

five under fiveWhen you have children or start looking after them, you discover an area in a way you never did before. When you move house, you get to do it all over again. I’m really enjoying seeing what this area of the West Country has to offer families. Seven months in, here are some of my favourite day trips so far in the Bath area.

The classical one – The Roman Baths
This was a no brainer and it definitely doesn’t disappoint. I first went with my mum, a historian, when I was quite a bit younger and I still remember its amazing beauty and sense of place. Years later, I’m pleased to report that Scrip really enjoyed our visit. There were children’s activities to complete but what I found particularly good were the holograms of Roman people projected into some of the baths. It really brought everything to life. The Baths are very popular, so expect crowds.

The one for small children – Ugly Bugs
It’s cheap and cheerful and my two love it here. Plus there are fish and chips for lunch: what’s not to love? It’s not far from us in Warmley and, while it’s not plush, it’s clean and not too crowded as they stop entry when all the tables are taken. It’s also a manageable size so you can see the children at all times (unless they refuse to move from the ball pool, as Baby D sometimes does). It suits small children age five and under. Arrive early for half price entry.

The outdoors one – Westonbirt Arboretum
We came here for Autumn colour last weekend, but still found lots of green leaves after our Indian summer. It was still lovely. The treetop walkway was a highlight as was the den building area. With a newish walker on small legs we didn’t get very far in a few hours and we only scratched the surface. Dogs are only allowed in certain areas but we seemed to see quite a few of them along the way. Entry is quite pricey – as is the food – so it could be worth looking at a year’s pass.

The local one – Dyrham Park
My cousin – who grew up near Richmond Park – wasn’t particularly excited about seeing the deer here, for obvious reasons, but they’re still pretty exotic to me and you usually spot the fallow herd on a trip to Dyrham Park. It’s very close to our new house and it’s a lovely spot – a country house (currently being renovated) enclosed by swooping hills on the entrance and with more formal gardens behind. The play area has ride-on tractors (perfect for our resident farm vehicle spotter, Baby D) and there’s a nice cafe.

The Harry Potter one – Lacock Abbey
I’ve only seen one of the films (or half of one, I think) but some of Harry Potter was filmed at Lacock Abbey and you can see why they chose it. It’s a lovely, atmospheric building and it’s been a winner with Scrip on a few occasions. Downstairs is the 13th Century Abbey; upstairs is the Fox Talbot residence, which is interesting in itself but also because it was one of the birthplaces of modern photography. There are some good children’s activities, including a playground just outside, and lots for grown ups to see. Make sure you have a walk around the National Trust village, too.

Healthy school snacks – we’ve been trying Pulsin’

Pulsin review

Two and a half weeks in and food has featured heavily in our school conversations (it’s one thing she is keen to talk about – she definitely has schoolnesia about most of the things that go on in class).

Food-wise there are the healthy snacks the school provides (carrots on Monday, apparently), the anticipation of school dinners (definitely macaroni cheese every day), the after school nourishment and the questions over packed lunches (I’m holding out on these – hopefully the promise of hot macaroni cheese will tide her over for a while).

We’re currently all about the snacks here – especially with Baby D’s appetite. So Pulsin’ Kids’ Fruity Oat Bars scored highly when we were sent some to try. The bars are gluten free, dairy free, soya free and include only natural sugars. They come in strawberry, blackcurrant & apple and orange choc chip flavours so still feel like a real treat.

She loved them and I really enjoyed the raw chocolate brownie that found its way into the package for me – thank you! I also like the fact they’re made in Gloucestershire which is just next to us (we’re now in South Glos).

We trialled them before she started school and they were described as a school lunch bag or snack time treat and now she’s started and has the hunger of a bear I can see why they’d be good. Certainly worth considering over carrots…

Pulsin’ Kids’ Fruity Oat Bars are £2.99 for six 25g bars in a multipack. They are available from selected leading retailers. Thanks for sharing some!