Category Archives: My reviews

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).

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Technology will save us: Electro Dough Kit review (simple STEM for kids)

Electro Dough KitEven the pack looks exciting and a world away from the drab 80s circuit boards I was taught electronics on in secondary school. I love the idea of getting Scrip involved in STEM activities and this Electro Dough Kit, which lets you make conductive dough, learn how electricity works and play with lights, buzzers and switches, is perfect for her age group.

It’s one of the many kits on offer from Technology Will Save Us who contacted me about other products and then offered this to review. I leapt at the chance. Scrip loves sitting down for activities at the moment, which is brilliant, and I want to make her learning as rounded as possible. Whilst I know we’ve shared our love of books and being creative, I’m not sure I have instilled the same passion for science, which is a shame.

Electro Dough Kit

When I opened the instructions and I saw the classic circuit line drawings, light emitting diodes and all, those science classes came flooding back. Anyone else remember pinching people with crocodile clips and attaching them to each other’s school jumpers? There were some of those inside too.

But after a bit of trial and error we were both smiling when she first made a little LED light up and the kit very quickly brought everything to life in a way she could engage with. We started by making the conductive dough together, which is straightforward (with lots of salt to help the conduction) but needs some heating on the stove. Make sure you wait for it to cool down before handling as she was keen to add the food dye in straight away but it was boiling hot for a while. The consistency was really good, though.

Dough making

Then we started creating, using some inspiration from the pack but also from the website. Not having great science lesson recall, apart from the crocodile clips, I couldn’t answer all her questions straight away so it was useful for me to use some of the explanations from the pack. She quickly got the hang of the LEDs having to be positioned a certain way around and the wires going into the dough correctly, and we made a simple circuit and tested objects which conducted electricity and didn’t (you can also download a sheet to write these up). Then we moved on to using dough versions of our names, little creatures who kissed and turned lights on, making a buzzer go and then some ‘fireworks’.

She was keen to make a range of things and it was a morning’s worth of play. D started off with us then got more interested in putting his tractor in the flour. But then he did come back and sat for a long time building castles out of the dough and sticking jumper wires into the sides. So it was nice to have him with us too, although they recommend age four and up for this kit which I think is right.

Tech will save us

There’s a whole range of kits for four to nine year olds, including machines and solar-powered creations, gifts for 10 – 14 year olds, Micro:Bit kits and other gift ideas. So there’s lots of choice. They’re not cheap (starting at £22.99) but they’re well made with lots of electronic parts so worth the investment I’d say. Particularly if it makes them excited about STEM subjects. I hope they carry on with things like this in the classroom – there’s no reason to wait until they’re teenagers.

And while we’re on the subject of school, I’ve started thinking about PE kits and jumpers now Scrip’s going into Year One in a couple of weeks. A quick mention for a new find – my iron-on labels from My Nametags which I love because:

  • The kids got involved with choosing from a range of backgrounds, designs and colours for their labels with simple click boxes online
  • Being iron on, they’re dead simple to use and even go on things like a tennis racket cover
  • The labels have stayed put so far and seem robust even when washed
  • Scrip loves them so much that I’ve even stuck them on plastics with some sellotape over the top (you can get stickers too if you like a simpler life!)

My Nametags

Thanks to Technology Will Save Us for our Electro Dough Kit (worth £22.99) and My Nametags for our iron on labels (£12.95 including P&P).

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Paddling-pool perfect toys: Splashlings review

Splashlings reviewMermaids are always in vogue in our house. Not to the point of obsession (Fidget Spinners and Lego cards anyone?) but The Little Mermaid and The Singing Mermaid are firm favourites, as is a toy mermaid that swims up and down in a jars using a little rubber tail.

Our Splashlings also came out to play at the start of the June heatwave, so these new little toys quickly found their way underwater in our paddling pool. Splashlings are part of a little plastic and rubber world made up of mermaids, the Splashling sea creatures and the small shells that they sleep in. These have been just as popular on dry land as pool-side with Scrip (now 5) and also a male friend of hers (H, 4 years old) being engrossed one day.

Splashlings 2

They’re a big hit in the US and now they’re swimming their way to our shores. We tried the Medical Centre which comes complete with moveable weighing scales and ‘working’ x-ray machine. All pretty fiddly for me when I joined in the game but perfect for small hands who seem to love the tiny characters and accessories.

There’s a handy chart so you can tick off which ones you have (and which are next on your wish list…) and some miniature accessories. Scrip also seemed to think they were like Shopkins which is another name that gets banded around the house although we don’t have any here.

Splashings even have their own Webisodes featuring all the characters in undersea adventures which I think Scrip would love but I’m still saving that premiere for a rainier day! At just over 2 minutes each the webisodes are actually a clever accompaniment to the toys.

The sets are relatively cheap and cheerful so would make good small gifts (prices start at £2.49 for the Splashlings 2 Piece Collector Shell). Although one of our shells sadly stopped closing pretty quickly so soon became a ‘daytime shell’ in Scrip’s words. So they’re not always the most robust, but are certainly a crowd pleaser.

Thanks to Splashlings for giving us a new set of watery toys! The Splashlings Medical Centre play set is £15.99rrp, and the Splashlings Coral Playground Set is £22.99rrp.

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Win a Tommee Tippee Steamer Blender with #weantogether

Baby Food Steamer BlenderLike learning to walk and potty training, weaning is an all-consuming stage (no pun intended). I think we probably left it too late with Scrip, as she devoured her first baby rice in front of us in a matter of seconds at 5 and a half months, and possibly started too early with D who instantly spat the spoon out.

I remember doing buggy fit in Holland Park in London (those hazy days!) and some of the class would take about all-in-one weaning solutions and I would listen enviously. It felt like something that might make my weaning world – filled with mushy butternut squash, pureed parsnip and sieved carrot – a lot easier. But I never went beyond my basic weaning kit.

I still keep an eye out for weaning recipes (here’s my weaning Pinterest board which was great inspiration for me and which I still add to) and I have friends who are going through all the messy stages of it at the moment.

Tommee Tippee has joined up with child nutritionist, Charlotte Stirling-Reed, for #WeanTogether which is encouraging parents to come up with simple and delicious new fruit and veg recipes. I like the tongue-in-cheek tone, which gives weaning recipes a twist with hipster foodie titles, such as Deconstructed Autumn Fruit Crumble (aka pear and blueberries).

But the best thing is that, through Tommee Tippee, I’m offering the chance to win a brand new Steamer Blender (worth £106.99). Just use the Rafflecopter link below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Basically, the Steamer Blender does all the work for you. This is why I wish I’d had one of these:

  • It steams food to preserve nutrients and flavour
  • It blends easily to a range of textures for every weaning stage
  • There’s no transfer between steaming and blending
  • There’s an automatic timer so you can just set, leave, then simply serve or store
  • There are only a small number of parts for easy cleaning
  • It’s BPA Free for ultimate reassurance
  • It’s a Made for Mums GOLD Best Product for Weaning 2017

Good luck!

The Steamer Blender (RRP £106.99) is now available at Amazon, Mothercare and Toys R Us. For more information visit https://www.tommeetippee.co.uk/product/baby-food-steamer-blender

The rules

    • Entrants must be 18 or over and UK residents.
    • The prize includes a Tommee Tippee Steamer Blender.
    • Competition closes at 12.00am on 30th June 2017. Any entries submitted after this date will not be included.
    • The winner will be selected randomly through a prize draw and announced on newmumblings.com and through email.
    • There is no cash prize alternative.

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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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