Thursday, 11 June 2015

The Soft Play Parent - Which Are You?

Daisy loves a bit of soft play and although like most parents I would happily rather gouge my eyes out with rusty spoons than hit the multicoloured parent prison we frequent our local place every couple of weeks because 

1) I have a membership so it's free and 

2) it's easy(ish) entertainment, tires kids out and like I said D loves it!

One thing I do love about soft play however is the fantastic people watching opportunity, crammed into a huge warehouse, fuelled on sugar and caffeine you quickly realise everyone has their soft play persona - so come on be honest, which are you? 




The Competitive dad - we've all seen them, pushing terrified three year old across cargo nets, forcing them down the tallest steepest slides - it's like military training for a toddler and pretty much always ends in tears from the toddler and arguments between the parents!

The Big kid - I actually love the big kids, the ones who's eyes widen as they step though the door and their at the top of the biggest slide before their kids have even got their shoes off. 

The Kindle / magazine reader / serial texter - this one finds a comfy corner, orders a latte and promptly sends the kids off to play while they settle down for some quiet time. This is the women we sneer at while in reality we are green with envy, why won't my kids go off and have fun without the need to drag we through plastic pipes 15 foot above the ground!

The Knackered grandparents - Bless them and bless them again! They're looking after the kids for day and someone suggested the soft play place. It starts off fine, kitted out in leisure wear, determined to keep up with the fruit shoot fuelled chiddlers but 30 minutes in the cracks are starting to show and they leave looking at least 20 years older. After all there's only so many times a 65 year old woman can crawl up spider webs 20 foot in the air before plummeting down the 'death slide'

The Shoes on but follows kid around parent - This one always makes me giggle, they manically rush around the outside of the netting, gawping at their kids like animals in zoo, Shouting orders at staff to rescue the toddler who has changed their mind at the top of the biggest slide. Get your shoes off and get them yourself ya lazy arse!

The super mum - One kid swinging on the highest monkey bars, toddler clambering up the slide the wrong way and new born sleeping (or probably bloody breastfeeding, she's THAT good at multitasking) in a sling and she's managing them all without breaking a sweat. (bitch)

Reluctant birthday party attendee - Your kids been invited to a party, they desperately want to go but you quite frankly would rather stick your head in the oven than sit around making small talk with parents you don't know at 10am on a Saturday morning while your kids run around like wild animals. There's no easy solution, if you don't talk you look aloof (and not in a cool way) but if you have to hear again how well little Hugo is doing at Mandarin you might throw yourself off the highest slide. 

I must confess I'm a bit of a big kid who would secretly love to be the magazine reading mum - I can't wait till the girls are old enough to entertain themselves while I indulge in a little peace and quiet with a rank tasting coffee and the sound of children's manic screams ringing in my ears - ahh that's the dream

Friday, 5 June 2015

Bluestone

We've just returned home from an amazing week at Bluestone National Park in Wales and Im going to start by apologising because I intend to gratuitusly spam this post with photos of the fabulous time we had because quite frankly we LOVED it there!


Travelling from Hertfordshire the journey with a toddler and 8 month old baby was a bit of a mission but 5 hours later we arrived in beautiful Pembrokeshire. As I mentioned in my previous post getting through check in was a breeze and we were soon selling in to our accommodation and planning the week ahead. We stayed in a Ramsey Lodge which is an upside down style. It had 2 bedrooms downstairs both with en-suite bathrooms and upstairs was the open plan kitchen and living space. D loved the accommodation and still can get over the kitchen being upstairs. The accommodation was really clean and had everything we needed. A slight niggle was the lack of instruction for the appliances as it took a while to work out oven, dishwashers and things but it wasn't a major problem. Although I loved having the beautiful views from the living space in the accommodation if I returned I would like to try a more traditional layout accommodation as one issue we did have was that the floors creaked slightly so we were constantly worried about waking the children downstairs when we moved about during the evening. We didn't choose to eat outside during the break as the weather weather wasn't quite warm enough but I also found it a little odd that we would have to take the food through the master bedroom to get to the patio area if we did eat outside. However I must stress these are minor issues and on the whole we loved the lodge and was very sad to leave it at the end of the week.


The Site

On our first full day we chose to spend the day on site and use it as a chance to see what was on offer. Bluestone is really beautiful, we've been to similar car free holiday resorts in the past but I really felt that there was something more natural about Bluestone, it doesn't feel commercial in any way and theres no big sell on activities or 'extras' The site however is very big so we chose to hire one of the Golf  Buggies on offer. This was undoubtable the best £80 I have ever spent, it was a godsend and D loved whizzing around in it. The buggies had loads of luggage space as well so we could take Fs buggy with us as well as all the swimming bags without any bother. The buggies are election and there are lots of places to charge them up, we actually had a charger just outside our lodge.






Blue Lagoon Swimming Pool

We visited the Swimming Pool on a few times over the week and both the girls loved it. Its perfect and has enough slides etc to keep the kids busy without being too over bearing. D loved the lazy river which took you outside and both myself and Mr R enjoyed a few rides on the slides. One of  which had little outdoor pools along the way which you could stop off in. Had there been a chap selling cocktails I would have been in heaven! The pool is super family friendly and has lots of family changing as well as a poolside cafe which meant that I  could get out and feed F while D stayed in for longer. The pool is also used by the public but I didn't find this a problem and probably would't have noticed if I was honest.


Activity centre

One of the central areas of the site is the activity centre. This houses the Wild Wood Cafe, mini golf, the circus room soft play area, bouncy castle and indoor play area. We went a few times over the week as D and F loved the soft play in the Circus room and D couldn't get enough of the bouncy castle. It was lovely to have somewhere you could bring the kids to let off some stream regardless of the weather. F is just starting to crawl at the moment and as a 3 year D has endless energy so both of them loved the Activity centre and just being to free to have a run about and do what kids do! We also ate at the Wild Wood Cafe one lunch time, The food was fairly standard but D loved the decor, it felt like we were eating in an enchanted forest, which as we went just before our hunt for Fairies on the Secret Village activity was pretty perfect. Evening shows are held in the Wild Wood Cafe which sound fantastic but we didn't get round to booking onto one, something is love to do if we go back again. We had intended to have a game of Mini Golf but we ran out of days sadly. 




Village

In the centre of the site is the village where the shops, restaurants and children play park are situated. The bakery there is lovely and we treated ourselves to fresh bread and welsh cakes on the very first morning. We also visited the Farmhouse Grill one evening for tea, which was perfect for families. had a great kids menu and lots of space as well as delicious meals for the adults. The village is also close to the lake and woodland area which was really beautiful. We loved heading out there first thing in the morning for a walk around the lake or a wander through the woods. D loved splashing in the stream in the woods and spotting the little rabbits hopping about by the lake. It really does tick every box for kids - is there a better way to the start the day when you're free than with a walk through the woods in your wellies with a lolly before breakfast!


Children's Activities

Although we intended to use the break as a chance to relax and enjoy the outdoors, Blue stone does offer lots of activities for all ages and these can be booked either before you arrive or while you are there. We did book D onto the Secret Village activity and Im so glad we did as it was absolutely magical! For a very reasonable £7 the children were met in the activity centre lobby by Harry the Hobbit and taken on a walk through the woods to meet a fairy and help her make me fairy dust. The staff stayed in character throughout and the kids taking part clearly loved it. D is always a bit shy in these types of situations but quickly warmed up laughing at Harry's silliness and running off with the other children through the woods. We both loved every minute!


Camp Smokey 

On our last day we visited Camp Smokey, An outdoor restaurant hide away in the woods. I really wish we'd visited earlier and given ourselves the change to go more than once as it was amazing. Daisy loved splashing in the stream and playing in the woods while I was partial to the cider and hot Marshmallows. If you are heading to Bluestone I would definitely make this a priority. During the day they serve food and have live music playing, which Im sorry we missed.



As you can see we loved out week and would certainly consider returning for a family holiday again. The site is perfectly situated so that you can visit other attractions in the local area, we went to Tenby of the Day and absolutely loved it. It has beautiful beaches and lots of lovely little shops and cafes. D loves the seaside so it was great to be able to combine out trip with Bluestone with a little jaunt to the sea. 


If Im absolutely honest Im not sure I really considered myself an outdoors person, but I had a fantastic time and it was a real adventure for D. Like all kids being able to get out there and have fun with very little restriction was heaven for her and I have no doubt at all she'd be back tomorrow if she could!

What we loved....

  • The swimming Pool, Perfect for us.
  • Circus Room, the girls would have stayed there all week if they could
  • Camp Smokey - wish we'd visited more than once!
  • The golf buggies - best fun ever and a lifesaver with little legs
  • Check in quick and staff were lovely and helpful throughout the week
  • The site itself is just beautiful, can't fault it and think I may have been able to live in my little lodge in the woods forever!
Could have changed....

  • Although we loved the lodge, the upside down design wasn't ideal for a young family
  • Play Park in the village didn't open till 10am - we had a very disappointed little girl on Tuesday morning
  • Check in time was a little late, an hour or so earlier would fit better for those with young families


We were invited to spend the week at Bluestone National Park as part of their blogger programme. All words and opinions within this review are my own. 











Sunday, 31 May 2015

Gumi Gem Teething Necklace - A Review

Freya is nearly 7 months old now and like most babies this age she's been teething for quite a while. Just lately however it's been constant and if she can get her hands on it she'll chew it. I try to make sure I've always got something with me when I'm out and about but inevitably I sometimes forget.

I'd heard about breast feeding necklaces used to keep baby busy whilst feeding and thought they were a great idea so I set about having a look to see if there was something similar for teething babies. I came across Gumi Gem necklaces and thought they were ace, great looking necklaces and pendants but safe for baby to chew. The jewellery is made of non toxic FDA approved Silicone which is completely safe for chewing and washing/sterilising. 

When Gumi Gem offered to send me one of their necklaces for me and Freya to review I jumped at the chance, anything to get those slobbery jaws off my fingers and if it could relieve any of the discomfort she was feeling it would be worth its weight in gold! 

When the necklace arrived I loved how it looked. The silicon beads are textured to massage babies gums as they chew and they are secured well to the string so I felt completely at ease with F pulling and chewing at it. I've worn the necklace for a few weeks now and Freya has really come to realise this is hers and she can chew chew away to her hearts content. Of course as with any teething necklace it should only be given to baby while wearing it as mine particular has a long string and could be dangerous if given to your baby without supervision. 



My only quibble with the design I chose is that the beads are quite big and at first they were a bit too big for F to chew on but that's not the case now and she happily grabs them mouthing away. There are however a large range of necklaces with beads and pendants of different sizes, I just chose this one as I liked the chunky design. Its bold, bright and doesn't look like a teething necklace at all.

I think these make a great unique present for a new mum and one which a few months down the line they are undoubtably going to be very grateful for!

If you check out the website they have loads of fantastic teething products, I love the Bubba bags which are full of teething friendly stuff. Just brilliant!


We were sent a Gumi Gem necklace for purposes of this review but all opinions and words are my own

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!


What?


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.