Monday, 18 May 2015

Bluestone National Park - First Impressions

After a less than lovely drive through torrential we were finally greeted with some well deserved sunshine as we arrived at Bluestone National park today

Despite arriving at what I'm told is the busy period we were through check in within about 15 minutes and given lots of helpful info about how to make the most of our stay by the lovely lady at Check in. As we were a little early to go to our accommodation we headed to the Activity Centre for a drink, nappy change and much needed stretch of our legs. 

We took the girls straight to the Circus Room which they both loved and gave D a chance to get rid of all the pent up excitement from nearly 5 hours in the car. F also loved how colourful the room is and as she's just at the almost crawling stage it gave her a safe place to have a roll about after being in her car seat for so long. 

We then popped across the road to collect our buggy and Mr R went to get the car so we could unpack. If you are planning on coming to Bluestone I would definitely recommend the Buggies, ours cost £80 for the mid week but with a toddler in tow I already know it's worth the money and so so much fun! 

We are staying in a Ramsey lodge which is an upside design. The inside is clean, spacious and has everything we need (had a couple of issues with the heated towel rails but that may well be me being dense) the lodges are super family friendly with stair gates, high chair, travel cot and bed rail. Both bedrooms have an en-suite and there is a lovely outside area for the girls to play in. 

So far so good, we're really happy and looking forward to the rest of the week. 

My only gripe if I had to find one is that for me the check in is a little late at 4.30pm as it's tricky to get unpacked etc in time to feed the kids. Plus our high chair didn't have a tray (it's an IKEA one so I know they have them) and as it doesn't slide under the table so it's tricky for F to feed herself with dropping food. It may be an oversight so will check in the morning 

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Preparing for our trip to Bluestone Wales

As part of their blogger programme we have been lucky enough to be offered the opportunity to visit Bluestone national park in Wales and we can't wait. We head off next week so the time has come for me to start compiling the endless lists required to ensure that 

1) I have everything I need, which when holidaying with a toddler and 7 month old is no mean feat! And 

2) I satisfy my crazy OCD, worrying crazy lady self and actually get some sleep in the next week rather than laying awake worrying we might forget the sudocrem!

Thankfully the lodges at Bluestone are pretty well equipped so we don't need to take the big baby items like cots and high chairs but there are a few things I consider essential for my little family

Bed guard - we were planning on taking Ds bed guard but having spoken to the lovely people at Bluestone they are going to arrange for one to be in our lodge for when we arrive. 

Baby monitors - sleeping in a strange place is always tough for toddlers so expecting odd wake up so will be be armed with the monitors for any night wakings.

Buckets and spades - we're definitely planning a trip to the beautiful Tenby beach if the weather is up to it so can't forget the essentials.

Phone / iPad / Camera charger - no explanation needed! 

Torch - not only to find our way home after those crazy nights of cocktails! Okay those 5pm meals so we can back in time for bath and bed) but also for D to have in bed just in case she finds things a bit spooky in the unfamiliar bedroom 

Calpol - we're in the midst of teething so this is almost as crucial as the final item ;)

Gin and tonic - nuff said

Friday, 8 May 2015

Baby Led Weaning (6 weeks in)

Freya is 7 months old now and we've been (mostly) baby led weaning for almost 6 weeks now and things are pretty much established food wise in that she generally eats the same as the rest of the family, give or take a few changes. 

I say 'mostly' as I've never been a strict baby led weaner I spoon feed porridge, puddings etc and (shock horror) have been known to mash the odd potato or banana for ease and convenience. That said she now handles most foods, is developing a stunning pincer grib (picking up peas at 7 months) and has moved on from just closed hand eating to opening and pushing food into her mouth. She hardly ever gags now and it's safe to say loves her food! 

I've been a bit (a lot) rubbish at taking photos of Freya with her weaning (poor neglected baby number 2) but trying to feed 2 is a whole different story plus unlike D she's a 'dropper' so mealtimes are a lot messier and quite frankly no place for an iPhone. 

So anyway here's a few of our baby led weaning shots, mostly clean because by the time they're both finished eating the carnage has usually resulted in my lost sanity and no one wants that documented!


Soft play lunch

Ham, Egg and (Parsnip) Chips

Picnic with big sis

Drunk on corn on the cob

Perfecting the pincer! 

Finally she can join us for Pizza Express! 

Monday, 13 April 2015

Girls love diggers too. Diggerland: a review.

We were given the opportunity to go to Diggerland recently and I knew D would absolutely love it so a couple of weekends ago we headed down to Kent and went to see what it was all about

Im all for honest reviews so I must admit I couldn't get my head around a digger themed attraction but seeing Daisy's grin as we walked through the gates and the many many happy faces of adults and kids made it clear that they got it and D for one was super excited.

For those who don't know Diggerland is an adventure park with rides and attractions made from diggers, tractors and dumper trucks. Both Adults and Kids get to ride and control REAL construction machinery as well as enjoy the rides created from diggers. 

At a metre tall D is just big enough to use the rides as long as she's with an Adult so Mr R got to play diggers as well. D loved it and despite the cold got stuck in proving that Diggers are very much for girls as well as boys! 

The weather however wasn't on our side and the wind was bitter so we didn't get the opportunity to experience as many rides as we'd have liked to, however D was more than happy with a hot choc and soft play stop so we could escape the wind for a while. Like many family attractions Diggerland has an indoor soft play area for the kids which we spent some time in while we had a drink and warmed up. My only criticism would be that the soft play area and the cafe felt a little underwhelming  compared to the rest of the park. However the facilities were really good and staff throughout the park were helpful and friendly.

The concept of Diggerland is fab, so unique and a real change from the usual theme parks. Daisy loved them and I feel had she had been a bit bigger she would have loved it even more as she would have been able to ride without an adult. The park itself is really accessible and having F with us I was left holding the baby (literally!) for most of the day but could always see D on the rides and didn't feel left out.

For me best thing about Diggerland is it is unique, there is simply nothing like that out there, we have visited a fair few attractions aimed at kids and families and this stands completely alone in what it offers and having two girls it might not seem like the most obvious choice for a day out but why should't it be - girls love Diggers too!

We were given complimentary tickets to the Park in Kent in return for an honest review, all words and opinions are my own.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Johnsons #SoMuchMore

We we're asked a while back to attend a PR event with Johnsons but sadly with pre school commitments and my fear of travelling into London with 2 children I had to decline. However the lovely people at Johnsons kindly sent me some products so I could still be involved in their #SoMuchMore campaign. 

#SoMuchMore is all about highlighting the important of bathtime with our little ones, we all have different routines bath time wise but for most it's a chance to spend real quality one on one time with the little and for the littles to experience the wonderful sensations of abs throne - the touch, smells and sounds we take for granted but for them are so so much more 

For us Bathtime is an integral part of our bedtime routine, we started this at about 3 months with D and now F has got involved at 5 months. After tea we head upstairs and have a bath, the girls go in together now. Then it's book, milk for the baby and bed.

The most important thing about bathtime in our house is that it's Daddy time, Mr R arrives home just as the girls get in the bath so this is their special one on one time with him. Yes it's a chance to get clean after the typical shannegans of a messy toddler and weaning baby but it's also about fun, time away from TV, phones, laptops and a chance for everyone to wind down and relax before bed.

Johnsons have recently launched their so much more campaign to raise awareness of the benefits of bath time activities and to highlight how important this special time of day can be to a babies development. Here's some of their key findings.
  • 9 out of 10 parents say that bath time is more than just getting their child clean
  • 64% of parents say that for them Bath time is a tech free time
  • 42% of parents believe bath time is important to their child's brain development however only 23% understand the important of baby massage for Brain development
If you check out their website you can get the full picture as well as tips on how to make the most of bath time 

We love bathtime in our house, it's noisy, splashy and often the only time of the day we are all in the same place. So to also find out our children are benefitting both developmentally and emotionally during this time just makes it all the more special. 

Looks like another excuse to share some delicious baby bath time shots ;)

We were kindly sent some Johnson's products to help us write this post but all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Baby Led Weaning - And we're off!

As we reach the end of our first week of weaning, I thought I'd do a little post, mainly as a little diary for F when she grows up but also to share some cracking baby meets food photos! 

We decided to start baby led weaning with F at 24 weeks (I know, I know!) as she'd been sitting well for some time and little miss grabby hands was bound to get her hands on her sisters food at some point anyway so we went shopping, stocked up on fruit and veg and took the plunge.

As F isn't quite 26 weeks yet we started cautiously and stuck to fruit and veg, I intend to start introducing pasta, bread, dairy etc in a couple of weeks. 

So far I'm pretty sure she's enjoying it, we've had very few gagging incidents and although it's messy and it sometimes feels like she's probably not taking too much in yet (although there has been a little bit of nappy evidence to say otherwise) it's been lovely having her up at the table eating with us and she's thoroughly enjoying herself. 

Yes meal times now take twice as long, yes she's getting through 3 outfits a day and yes I'm scraping food of most surfaces in the house but I love baby led weaning check out how little grabby hands is doing 

However my love for Baby Led Weaning might be thwarted by this one who has been dying to feed her little sister for months and typically F loves it!

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Gousto Recipe Box Review

I'm a busy mum and despite my love of cooking I rarely have the time (or energy) to put together fancy meals so often end up pulling out the old favourites like Spag Bol or Chilli. I know there's nothing wrong with that but like everyone I'd love to be able to cook something a bit special sometimes - I love food and for me a good meal is a real treat.

So when the lovely people at Gousto approached me to try out one of their recipe boxes I practically but their hand off. The concept of Gousto is right up my street - fantastic home cooked meals but without any of the fuss of planning, shopping, weighing out or preparing. 

If you're not aware of Gousto, they are a fantastic service which allows you to choose and cook delicious meals with leaving the house. You make your selection online and the food and recipe are delivered to your door. There are 10 new recipes each week all using organic vegetables and British meat. 

I was like a kid at Christmas when our delivery arrived. We received all the ingredients for 3 meals (mushroom stroganoff, Steak and leak Mash and lamb Koftas) and I mean ALL the ingredients, everything you need is there right down to stock cubes, herbs and spices.

The ingredients are clearly very good quality, the meat is labelled with its origin and the organic veg was all fresh looking. 

The box also includes recipe cards and information on when the meals should be cooked by taking into consideration the shelf life of the ingredients. This was a slight negative as we reviewed our box on Friday and the meals needed to be eaten by Monday or Tuesday this was by a problem for us but for some it might be difficult depending on family commitments. 

After cooking the meals I can't fault the recipes, they were easy to follow and the meals themselves were very tasty, I'll  certainly be making the stroganoff again as that was a real favourite. 

With the meals sent to us my only grumble would be with the steak meal, the picture on the website and recipe card shows a thick cut of steak but the actual recipe is for minute steak. This could be misleading although I must confess the minute steak was very tender.

As a concept I'd really recommend Gousto it's great for those too busy to shop or as a treat or break for busy parents. The website is really easy to use and you can often find a deal for those using the service for the first time.

We were kindly sent a Gousto recipe box in return for a full and honest review.