Category Archives: My reviews

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!

Are you going to the Baby & Toddler Show? Win a pair of free tickets…

Baby & Toddler Show Win

New school…new season…new baby? Not for me! But if you have a new little one or one on the way have you considered visiting the Baby & Toddler Show? It’s the biggest of its kind and it’s returning to Sandown Park, Surrey, on 23-25 September.

We’ve been twice and have come back with some really useful things – like my Mia Tui changing bag, which I love, and my Ergo 360 baby sling. It’s also a very child-friendly day out. Baby Scrip loved playing with toys in one of the baby areas and toddler Scrip went in her first ever creche there (and loved it).

If you fancy winning a free pair of tickets, the giveaway is below. And for everyone else, save 1/3 on tickets by using the code BTS34 online.

So what can you expect there?

* Really good deals on top brands and baby essentials – 100s of unique and useful products which you won’t find on the high street (I can vouch for that).

* Guaranteed best prices on car seats, prams, buggies and furniture – all the big names including Bugaboo, Britax, Mamas & Papas, Maxi-Cosi, Quinny, Silver Cross, Cosatto, Bloom, Cybex and Joolz.

* Over 150 top brands and products to test, try, compare and buy – meet knowledgeable experts and have hands-on demos.

* Expert speakers giving new parents everything they need to know on feeding and weaning, babywearing, first aid and sleep.

* The RLSS UK Baby Academy and a free first aid taster session to learn vital first aid skills.

* Piccolo, the new organic baby food brand inspired by the Med lifestyle – visit the stand to try all the products and talk to Piccolo’s team of nutrition experts about all things weaning, food and nutrition. Plus, hear from Piccolo’s infant nutritionist, Alice Fotheringham at the Expert Advice Workshops.

Sandown Park is easy to get to, there is free parking, easy access for bumps and babies, and a huge Vital Baby Feeding Area and Baby Changing Area.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Facebook // @BabyandToddlerShows
Twitter // @BabyShows
Instagram // @babyandtoddlershows

The rules

    • Entrants must be 18 or over and UK residents.
    • The prize includes a pair of tickets to the Sandown Park Baby & Toddler Show 2016. They can be used for one day of this September’s show.
    • Competition closes at 12.00am on 20th September. Any entries submitted after this date will not be included.
    • Tickets booked using the code must be booked online before midnight on Thursday 22 September.
    • The winner will be selected randomly through a prize draw and announced on newmumblings.com and through email.
    • There is no cash prize alternative.
    • Children under 16 attend for free and do not require their own tickets.

Goalllll!: Mothercare Junior Goal review

Mothercare Junior GoalA quick garden kick about has become a bit of an after-work ritual – weather and work permitting. I love the fact we can all have a bit of a run around together, with Scrip pretending to be mummy’s team or daddy’s team, alternately. And my husband enjoys it even more (he’d be happy playing football all day, every day). So Scrip was delighted when I was able to review this garden Junior Goal from Mothercare.

It’s a good size – not too tiny for growing children but not dominating the garden – and it was easy to put together. The net was a little fiddly to attach and needed a gentler touch than my impatient husband! It would have been easier if the instructions were just for this type rather than three different goals, as that made it a little confusing. But all in all it probably took about 20 minutes to put together. So even keen footballers can wait that long to take their penalties.

Scrip even told my sisters she wanted to be a footballer when she grew up, so I think she’s enjoying using it! We’ll get a cover for it for wetter weather so it lasts a fair few football seasons, but at the moment it’s tucked away by the hedge for quick access. And as you can see, it doubles up as a useful bar for aspiring walkers.

Thank you from my whole football team, Mothercare! The Junior Goal is £29.99.

NOTHS: Christmas has got Scrip and Baby D’s names all over it!

My lovely sister donned her jingle bells for a preview of the notonthehighstreet Christmas collection this week. Here are her highlights. 

Anything personalised was always a big hit with me when I was little (remember those catalogues filled with pages of personalised coloured pens and pencils?) and if Scrip and Baby D are anything similar, NOTHS have got this aunty’s Christmas shopping sorted!

Tree decorations, wooden zoos, pyjamas, tents, dolls houses and Christmas stockings – you name it, you can have that special name put on it!

IMG_9573

A personalised tent will keep those furry friends safe

There’s a cushion for the cat, a monogrammed chef’s apron for the big chef, a kitchen for the little chef – and a coffee pot for the whole family.

Oh, and if it’s a baby bear or a little badger you’re buying for, they’re covered too!

notonthehighstreet.com Christmas in July 2016

Baby bears can keep snuggly in this sweet sweater

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Cute cubs cuddle up in this charming playsuit

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There’s no mistaking the owner of this beautiful dolls house

They'll have sweet dreams in personalised pyjamas

They’ll have sweet dreams in personalised pyjamas

Original tree decorations

Original tree decorations – flamingos, pineapples and cactuses

Coffee

Personalisation gets grown-up!

notonthehighstreet.com Christmas in July 2016

Christmas is looking beautiful at notonthehighstreet.com’s Christmas in July 2016

Capturing all the charm of Disney – Courage & Kind clothes

Courage & Kind clothesHow many Disney DVDs do you have – a whole library or a choice few? A friend of mine has the entire back catalogue, I think, in all their technicolor glory. Scrip would certainly like a few more and she cherishes the ones she has. I still enjoy them, too. I can easily be persuaded to sit with her and watch Tangled or Cinderella – much more so than My Little Pony.

So why doesn’t that magic translate onto Disney clothes? Not the replica princess dresses but everyday items. Scrip adores her Frozen PJs but they’re really not very charming. Likewise t-shirts and jumpers. So how about these Courage & Kind clothes – aren’t they beautiful? These are from the Alice in Wonderland range and I love how they’ve created clothes which are just as magical as the film.

The dress is gorgeous with a beautiful and clever Alice-inspired pattern, and the cardigan has little felt Queen of Hearts pockets. I’m trying to save these two for a family party but I’m coming under a lot of pester power from Scrip who just wants to wear them all the time.

All of the Courage & Kind clothes are inspired by the classic cartoons but don’t just slap an image of the hero or heroine on the front. They use patterns, imagery and styling in original, interesting ways, creating outfits that charm the parents as much as their children. There’s a boys’ and girls’ range too. They’d also make fantastic presents.

They’re an investment rather than every day, but they’re beautifully crafted and fit well. In fact I’d love some adult versions, please! I know I’m not the only one, judging by the reaction on Instagram.

PS – I love the name! ‘Have courage and be kind’ has got to be my favourite Disney life motto.

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A visit to The American Museum in Britain

American MuseumThe draw of the museum worksheet seems to be strong with Scrip at the moment, luckily. The American Museum in Claverton, just outside of Bath, went one better with a backpack full of activities handed over when we arrived. There are three age-related options – hers was suitable for 4+ years and she loved the little grizzly bear glove puppet who popped out when she unzipped the bag and helped us along the way.

The museum is set in an old manor house – Claverton Manor – in stunning grounds with views around the countryside and down to the River Avon. There’s plenty of parking and a good cafe on the site, plus a gift shop that sells more than just bright, unrelated plastic toys (although I’m sure there were a few of those as well). The museum charts American culture and history from early settlers to present-day with pictures, videos, hands-on displays and period rooms recreated.

The trail booklet inside the backpack guided us around the displays and there was something to do in many of the rooms along the way – ranging from a magnifying sheet to spot something close up, to a little wooden town to build, to a puzzle inspired by one of the beautiful collection of American quilts. She seemed to really enjoy it.

The trail was just the right length and left enough time and energy to have a quick look at the American Toy Story display (on until October 2016). She recognised some of the toys but the best bit was trying on toy costumes and drawing your favourite to add to the wall. Freed from his carrier Baby D seemed to enjoy crawling around here as well.

It’s a shame we hadn’t left any time for exploring the gardens as it’s in a beautiful location and I would have loved to look around. There was also a concert in the afternoon. But unfortunately nap time for D was calling and I think we may just have tired out Scrip as well.

As with anything I visit with small children I vowed to come back alone and actually read the captions of the displays as it was really interesting and a lot of it, moving. And with such a beautiful museum in a breathtaking location I think I may just make it.

More on the American Museum website.

American MuseumAmerican MuseumAmerican Museum

 

We’ve also visited the London Transport Museum, braved central London with a toddler and here’s my London (children’s activities) Bucket List.

Rainbow boards – a splash of colourful fun

Rainbow Boards ReviewDo your children remind you of yourself when you were young? Scrip definitely does me, in so many ways. Particularly her imaginary play – she’s always acting out make believe games. Sometimes she brings Baby D into her role plays (much to his bemusement!), sometimes she’s at the dinner table with toys, cars or even the salt and pepper pots and sometimes I find her in a corner of the sitting room with teddies lined up, chatting away.

She’s just started to play ‘teachers’ which was one of my favourite games when I was little. And now she’s got a new prop in the form of a bright, sunshine yellow Rainbow Board – dry wipe board on one side, felt pin board on the other.

As she’s not yet at school she didn’t understand at first how to ‘teach’ using the board but she loved being let loose with the wipe board pens. There’s a nice big area to write on and wipe off again (half the fun) and there’s also the pin board. She loved the responsibility of pinning things on with drawing pins and soon found some drawings, post cards and birthday cards. Plus random pieces of cardboard (we have a lot of those).

Her new, bigger room may be fast filling up with things but when something new is as colourful as this, I’m not complaining. It’s so much nicer than a plain white board and Rainbow Boards come in green, yellow, pink, blue or orange – and all attractive shades.

Teacher Boards also sell notice boards and wipe boards on their own as well as glass boards made of hardened safety glass in a variety of colours which would be nice for a kitchen.

There’s a wide range of colours, shapes and sizes. This one’s large but it’s easy to store as it’s flat. Not that she’s letting me store it at the moment – not while there are teddies to teach.

Thank you Teacher Boards for adding a welcome splash of colourful fun to Scrip’s room.

The Yellow Rainbow Board we trialled was £65 excluding VAT.