Tag Archives: Christmas

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.

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.






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!


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


Cute cubs cuddle up in this charming playsuit


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


Personalisation gets grown-up!

notonthehighstreet.com Christmas in July 2016

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

Baby’s first Christmas: the perfect Christmas stocking

Christmas stockingAlthough he won’t understand as much as his older (and very excited) sister, this is still baby D’s first Christmas. He’s already intrigued about the tree, the twinkly lights and lots of sparkly decorations hanging tantilisingly close to where he rolls.

He’s not lacking in baby toys or hand-me-down clothes (even though there tends to be a pink bias) but we’re making sure he’ll have his fair share of things to tear open and bite on come Christmas day. And one thing he already has is his own brand new stocking, courtesy of The White Company.

Baby D has the Dotty Stocking. It’s a chunky, stretchy knit in a stylish Scando-style. It looks homemade, is unisex and is pretty big – on the verge of a sack, actually. And the very good news is it’s currently on sale with 30% off, so it’s £24.50 (as at 12th December 2015).

We’re stocking up on chewable, rattle-able toys to fit inside and I’m hoping he’ll love pulling them out. We’ll just have to make sure he doesn’t wriggle inside the stocking himself on Christmas day!

Thanks to The White Company for the Dotty Stocking.


The 5 rules of an extended family Christmas

Merry ChristmasThe Christmas pendulum has swung back to my family this year and so we’re in a windy but dry (and always beautiful) Cornwall for the week. Scrip and I drove down at the weekend with one of the Aunties (helped by hot chocolates, pastries and plenty of Christmas songs) and we picked up my husband from the train station today.

These are my favourite Christmases – lively, animated (with the odd disagreement thrown in), warm and fun. But I do sometimes find myself forgetting there are unwritten rules of an extended family Christmas, which have emerged over alternate Christmases for the last few years and particularly since having Scrip. I’ve noted them down so I won’t forget them next time:

  1. Remember the new routine – whilst I’ve been off trying to become a grown up, new regulations seem to have been brought in at my family home, and I’m still learning them. It’s always red top milk in tea – woe betide anyone who mixes it up with the green stuff – coats are banned from banisters and never, ever forgot to refill the water filter (cardinal sin).
  2. Limit the amount of washing you generate (and it’s best to hide the full extent of your children’s). It’s been a while (over 30 years) since little people were regular inhabitants here and although you’re very familiar with just how many items can get messy in a 24 hour period, your parents probably aren’t. Even if you’re washing it yourself, be discreet – note: asking how to use the tumble dryer for the fourth time is a dead give away that another load’s gone on.
  3. Adapt to the portion sizes – as a super-hungry 6-month pregnant person I could eat without limits at the moment and my husband has never had a problem tucking away seconds. But conversely, my parents seem to eat less and less. Learn to make the most of any pre-dinner snacks, enjoy a pudding and, if your tummy’s still rumbling, make a mental note of where the Christmas cheese is stored.
  4. Train your children up to get them used to Christmas lunch ahead of the big day – this applies more to my in-laws than my parents, to be fair (my mum and dad have brought up three fussy girls so they are just delighted when anything is eaten). Scrip eats well but she eats particularly well when no one’s monitoring. My MIL, however, takes an active interest in what’s been eaten and what’s not, and is a fan of ‘gentle’ encouragement (which goes down as well as a plate of peas with Scrip…). So we’ve had a few practice roasts with Scrip in the last month or so. She’s been eating gravy (good), sprouts (very good) and turkey (could do a lot better).
  5. Enjoy the rest if you can can – my family are particularly good at keeping Scrip constantly entertained (I could learn a thing or two here). In fact she’s gone out for a long walk with them as I type. It’s hard to switch down a gear, but as I think they’re enjoying it as much as she is, I’m going to try and take a few breaks with my feet up this Christmas: a glass of ginger beer in hand and my mum’s festive Good Housekeeping resting on my bump.

What are your family Christmas rules?

Merry Christmas, thank you so much for reading this year and I hope you all have a happy and peaceful day.

Enjoying a slow Christmas

Slow Toys CollageWe were lucky enough to have a Granddad who was skilled in carpentry, so growing up we were surrounded by a beautifully crafted wooden farm, garage, doll’s house, baby’s cot. The list went on. And we played with them, loved them and probably took them all for granted. Amazingly, a lot of them are still in good shape for my little girl to enjoy 30 something years later (following a good clean).

I had similar ambitions for her toys and she’s always had just as much fun playing with simpler toys as the coloured plastic, flashing lights ones. But a quick look at her toy box shows me I haven’t always got the balance between the two toy camps right. So this Christmas we’re going to do it differently. We’re embracing slow toys: for her and for the other children we buy for.

The Slow Toy Movement – started in 2011 – celebrates toys that are carefully made, not entirely plastic, are available at independent shops, display craft and, even better, won’t leave you rummaging around for four triple A batteries at 6am on Christmas morning. Any extra investment should be worth it for their longevity; hopefully some of them will last for my little one’s children in another few decades.

Here are my slow toys top five for Christmas 2014: Continue reading

Helping children who need it most – with the RLSB

RLSBWith endless present lists on my iPhone Notes, earmarking a day off work purely for Christmas shopping and nipping out each lunchtime to buy bits and pieces, it’s fair to say my Christmas has become pretty commercial. So when, in amongst the festive offers, I got an email about a new study on childhood blindness by the RLSB (the Royal London Society for Blind People) and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), it stopped me in my tracks.

As a family, we are so lucky to have our full sight – and I’ve realised since having Scrip that seeing is such an important part of a child’s learning and one that I take completely for granted. The sad findings of this new report show the harsh reality faced by a child with sight difficulties when they reach 11 years old. Such as:

Continue reading

Christmas present inspiration: the BRIO Roller Coaster Set

BRIO Roller Coaster SetThere’s something so exciting about large, squarish packages coming through the post. Forget Scrip, I was like a small child at Christmas when I unwrapped this one. Unfortunately, she was peering over my shoulder at the time so any thoughts of giving this to her as a surprise went out the window. ‘Is it for me?’ were the words that came tumbling out of her mouth.

And yes it was (as long as I can have a go too). The BRIO Roller Coaster Set, from Marbel Toys, looks exciting from the box and the fact it’s tall, twisty and little wagons go whizzing down it means it delivers on the excitement as well. Continue reading

Jingle bells in July: The White Company Christmas list

White Company Christmas 2014 CollageDefinitely the first time I’ve enjoyed mulled wine in July surrounded by decorations, presents and crackers; I was lucky enough to have a preview of The White Company’s Christmas range recently.

Some beautifully decorated rooms dressed almost entirely with White Company products (I didn’t know they even did sofas – very Continue reading