Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Blaise of Glory...

We popped down to Blaise Castle Country Park today. A mere 50 minutes from Cheltenham, the country park boasts two adventure playgrounds, a cafe, a woodland and of course, a castle! We started the trip with a picnic and a kick around on the massive lawn and Ace was overjoyed to see a lawn mower doing its thing (he thought it was a tractor - queue hearing the word tractor on a loop for about half an hour), then we headed for the play area. 

The play area is split into two. One side has lower climbing frames, a sand pit and toddler swings and is suitable for children up to around 7 years old and the other side has big, scary climbing frames perfect for older children and brave, little explorers!

Next up, was a stroll through the woodland where there are various different paths to follow. Honey and her friend found blackberries to pick, enjoyed climbing steep slopes and clambering over some incredible, exposed tree roots! Further along the trail, we found a stream which was begging to be paddled in. The paddling was short lived as Honey's bare feet were hurting, note to self, must take wellies next time! The walk began down a hill, so of course, ended with us stomping back up the hill in search of ice cream to cool us down. Ace sat in the sling and enjoyed pointing at trees and water and my friend's little boy was doing the same in his pushchair (which managed the terrain well). 

As days out go, this is as inexpensive as they come. Parking is free, there is no charge to enter the estate and aside from the petrol to get there, the only money we spent all day was on ice cream!

So, if you fancy a change from Pitville Park or have been looking for a nice spot to meet friends near Bristol, I would highly recommend Blaise Castle.

Honey and Ace wear... Long sleeved tops by Make Your Marque







Thursday, 10 August 2017

Bundle of joy...

If you follow the blog, you may remember that I splurged on a rather wonderful waterproof babywearing coat last year. I think the cost per wear has ended up being about 1p due to the amount I've worn it and even my husband has nicked it a couple of times to do the pre-school run!

But what about when the weather is warm and it doesn't look like rain but the forecast says it might? Do you wear a coat and end up boiling hot? Do you carry the coat round all day, just in case? Neither was an attractive option for me, I like my hands free and I hate feeling hot and flustered.

With this in mind, we were so excited to be chosen as Brand Ambassadors for BundleBean and as soon as we received our BundleBean for Babywearing, I was straight on to the weather app secretly hoping for rain. A couple of days later, the chance of light drizzle appeared so I hastily suggested an afternoon out! Since then, the Great British weather has obliged on multiple occasions and we have pulled out the BundleBean to keep us warm and dry.
















It's such a fab item to keep in the changing bag and we have used it for added warmth on an unseasonably chilly visit to Chester Zoo, to keep Ace dry when drizzle threatened to end a country walk and even to shield his little legs in the buggy when I forgot to put sun cream on him! I chose the flamingo print because, well, flamingos and it's so vibrant and such a talking point when we're out and about!u
















More recently, the BundleBean family has grown to include a super lightweight Babywearing Raincover which is perfect for when warmth isn't an issue but rain is (i.e. most of the British summer). Like the original BundleBean, this 100% waterproof cover will fit all types of slings and carriers and extends cleverly to fit from newborn to around 4 years old. Possibly the best thing about this cover, is that it packs down into its own little stuff-bag and is smaller than a packet of wipes!


























So whether you want to stay cosy and dry or just need something waterproof, BundleBean has quite literally got you covered and if you use the code 'Ace' at the BundleBean checkout, you will receive 10% off your order too!

*Although we were kindly gifted our BundleBean covers to review as part of the Brand Ambassador programme, all thoughts and opinions expressed in this blog are my own.

Ace wears... BundleBean for Babywearing in Flamingo print
                    BundleBean Super lightweight Babywearing Raincover in Polar Bear Print




Monday, 24 July 2017

They're always happy when it rains..

I'd promised Honey and Ace a trip to the park on Saturday and they weren't letting me forget it. Despite the grey skies, Honey was busy getting our things ready and Ace was shouting 'wing 'wing on repeat. Alfred Wainwright once said "There's no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing" and boy do my kids agree with that! 

Honey kindly reminded me that we all had waterproof trousers, raincoats and wellies so we would be absolutely fine if the heavens opened. Although it took me most of the walk to the park to summon up even half the enthusiasm she had for the outing, by the time it actually started to rain (and it did really start to rain), I was feeling really glad to be out in the fresh air and happy that Honey and Ace were happy.

The ducks were really pleased to see us and happily gobbled down a pot of sweetcorn (we had run out of peas), half of Ace's snack and they even gave a good nibble to some sticks Honey threw in when all the corn was gone.

Once they got bored of feeding the ducks (aka bored of Mummy sheltering under the trees), Honey and Ace had a whale of a time dicing with death on the slippy playground equipment, splashing in puddles and running around squealing at each other.

After lunch, they were straight back out in the garden tipping buckets over each other and Ace also perfected the art of slurping rainwater out of the grooves in the decking (ewwww).

So it looks like, come rain or shine, we will be out and about this summer and I for one, can't wait!

Honey wears... Raincoat by Hatley
Ace wears... Raincoat by Tu @ Sainsbury's























Pink Pear Bear

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Paint your own...

Our invite to Paint it Yourself Pottery's 15th Birthday celebrations couldn't have come at a better time. Located on Winchcombe Street, we often pass it on our walks to and from town and recently, Honey has been taking an interest in the brightly coloured sign and inviting interior and had told me that she would like to make some Christmas decorations there soon (always planning ahead that girl).
 
We didn't make any festive decorations on Saturday, but from the moment Honey took her coat off, to the moment we left, she was busy creating her very own masterpiece! On arrival, I took in the space with multiple tables set up, each containing everything one needs to create a piece of pottery perfection and with plenty of high chairs and a Bumbo readily available if required.

The staff are really friendly and approachable and explained the process to both Honey and I (Ace had already set to work making sure all the resources ended up on the floor) then left us to get on but remained visible so we could call upon their expertise at any time (and we did - lots)!

Honey chose plates for herself and Ace then got on with her paper plan. There were flowers, spots and even a T-Rex thrown in for good measure! She then transferred it onto a plate using felt tipped pens and finally painted over the pen to complete her design.
 
A mere 4 days later, we were invited to collect our plates and they look great! The colours have really popped and the sheen brings out every detail.

I would absolutely recommend Paint it Yourself Pottery to anyone with children who enjoy craft and painting. If you have a baby, I would suggest leaving the buggy at home if at all possible as we kept having to squeeze past them or move them out of the way but, as previously mentioned, there are plenty of high chairs so you will have somewhere to pop baby while you sort yourself out or paint your own piece.
 
It terms of time, I thought that the hour and a half set aside for our session sounded like a long time but the time flew by and I ended up having to help Honey finish off her painting as she'd spent so long engrossed in the design phase! Drinks and snacks are also available to purchase, so allow extra time if you plan on taking advantage of this. There are also books and toys to keep little ones entertained while you eat, drink or paint.
 
Thank you so much for inviting us to join you for your birthday celebrations, we will definitely be back! If you'd like to Paint Your Own Pottery, click the links to find them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
 
Honey wears... Denim dress by Zara
Ace wears... T-Shirt by The Royal Shakespeare Company
 



 

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Towering above...

Having grown up in The Cotswolds, I've been to Broadway Tower a time or two but never as an adult and never in charge of children! It wasn't busy when we arrived so we parked up on the side of the road, but there's a large Pay and Display car park on site and fees are refundable when you spend £5 in the cafe or shop. 

We took a leisurely stroll up to the tower, taking in the amazing views and waving to Honey's friend (who totally couldn't see us but who lives nearby so...) This time, we didn't go inside as Honey was feeling tired and therefore wasn't in the best mood, so we wanted to make the most of being outdoors. You can buy tickets to go inside and children under 6 are free. We wandered a very short way along The Cotswold Way and did some wildlife spotting, Honey had an I-Spy book to fill in and Ace just chased a load of sheep!

The terrain was gentle enough for Ace to come out of the sling and have a good run around, followed by a short, downhill hike, although I've no idea how he resisted picking up all the sheep poo! 

When we'd had enough wandering, we headed to the cafe and indulged in (very reasonably priced) cakes and gingerbread men. There are tables inside and outside, I only spotted one high chair but there may have been more hidden away. Other attractions included a Pooch Playground for those of you with canine friends and a nuclear bunker dating back to the Cold War, so I'd say there's definitely enough to keep everyone occupied for a couple of hours or more if you take a longer walk down The Cotswold Way!

Honey wears... Flamingo t-shirt by JoJo Mamas Bebe
Ace wears... Red shorts by Frugi








Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Thanks a bundle...

Just a quick post to let you know that we have been chosen as Bundle Bean Brand Ambassadors! We can't wait to receive our parcel and get started and we will also have a discount code to share with you very soon! 


Monday, 19 June 2017

Just to appdate you...

Honey is still at the age where a turn on Mummy's iPad is a real treat. She absolutely loves iPlayer Kids and is a pro at exploring CBeebies Playtime Island, so when KidoLand got in touch to offer her a 6 month subscription, her answer was a resounding (and very polite) WOW, YES PLEASE! 

I downloaded the app and sorted out the settings (3-4 age group selected,repetitive background music = OFF) then handed the iPad to Honey. She immediately started to navigate her way around the user friendly interface, exploring different sections and excitedly showing us what she had found. There are countless nursery rhymes and educational songs, games to help little ones practise their colours, shapes, letter formation and more, as well as stories which the children can either read to themselves or hear read aloud by a narrator.

Mummy likes...
  • Age appropriate content for 1-5 years. Content can be narrowed down for younger children.
  • Well organised content, making it easy for children to navigate between games, stories and songs independently. 
  • No ads so I don't hear "please get this off Mummy" every 5 minutes. 
  • Playlist creator to keep all Honey's favourites together.
  • Downloadable content for car journeys, camping trips or other non wifi situations (no wifi, whoooo?) 

Mummy says...
  • The music over the top off the 'read to me' stories is a bit loud. Having said that, this didn't bother Honey.
  • This is an American app so some of the vocabulary and the accent used reflects this.
The app itself is free, but you can choose from a menu of subscriptions which gives you access to the full content. Download the app from the Apple, Google or Amazon app stores and get in touch if you'd like Honey to give you a tutorial!

* Although we were kindly gifted a 6 month KidoLand subscription for the purposes of this review, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Honey wears... Flamingo jumpsuit by Next






Saturday, 20 May 2017

Brummy Mummy...

If you were a teen in the 1990's, chances are you went to The Clothes Show Live at least once. It was the best! Cheap clothes, crazy fashion shows and loads of opportunities to take selfies with pop stars and models, way before selfies were a thing! Fast forward to 2017 and The Clothes Show's target audience is now mid-late thirties and a large proportion have started families and haven't got time to browse 342 colours of hair mascara and try out 25 different kinds of hair straighteners! 

What Mums do have time for however, is baby stuff. Buggies, carriers and cots. Baby clothes, car seats and bibs. Weaning equipment, bubble bath and toys. All this and much, much more can be found under one roof at The Baby Show held at The NEC in Birmingham. Well played NEC, well played!

You still get fashion shows, though the models are now pushing buggies and rocking the latest in maternity wear rather than roller skating down the catwalk in hot pants (that was a good year). There are still plenty of famous faces to see on stage but these days, they're telling their birth stories and giving weaning advice rather than taking part in dance mat and karaoke competitions (also a great year). Perhaps most importantly, you can still shop! We spotted some great offers from some brilliant brands and picked up everything on our list and inevitably, more! 

One of the highlights for us was getting to see Cheltenham's very own Suzanne there with her fabulous brand Nom Nom Kids. I felt like Biggie (Trolls) and wanted to shout out "I KNOW HER!" The stand looked amazing and the Nom Nom ladies fitted right in amongst some huge brands and easily held their own.

Another highlight were the amazing feeding and changing areas sponsored by Aldi. When Ace needed changing, I headed over to the changing village where I was swiftly asked what size nappy I needed then showed to a fully stocked changing table. There was no rush and there was even a nappy bin and a sink for why you'd finished! The feeding area was equally as fantastic, with a range of free baby food and drink (including snacks) and plenty of seating for big and little people. Ace also loved the V-Tech play area and had a good boogie to all the toy sounds!

If you're thinking of going along, the last day is tomorrow so you need to act fast! My top tips would be:
- If you book tickets online, you will either need to print them at home or head to the ticket office to have them printed when you arrive (you may have to queue).
- If you just fancy popping along for the end of the day, you can get in for £5 after 3pm.
- Wear your baby if you can as some areas got very crowded and therefore buggies had difficulty getting through.
- If you're planning a big purchase, consider using the Emma's Diary shop and drop service.
- Take advantage of the free changing area. It's so clean and the tables are the perfect height. There are loads of tables so you won't have to queue for long, if at all!
- Head to the Tesco area for a free goody bag containing fab items for baby and you. There was a queue each time they were on offer, but the contents are worth waiting a few minutes for if you're not in a rush!
- Parking is expensive but there is a free shuttle bus to and from the car park and you can either pay on the day or book your parking online if you book before midnight tonight.     
- If you're looking to try different types of bottles but don't want to spend a fortune, both Mam and Nuby are offering a free bottle and dummy if you sign up to their mailing list.

Ace and I had a lovely day and I'd definitely go again, even though I didn't get my photo taken with any pop stars!

Ace wears... Pink top by Make Your Marque





Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Melody Mamas...

I love Glee, High School Musical, Pitch Perfect, Smash, in fact any programme or film with singing and dancing has me hooked. I also love karaoke, I LOVE it! I'm a huge fan of belting out a pop song in a pub over a dodgy backing track, it's just the best thing ever! What I didn't expect to do though, was to join a choir. Other people singing with me? No microphone? Really? 

I should say at this point that I can hold a tune but I am by no means 'a singer' but having been assured that it didn't matter, I decided to go along and see what Melody Mamas was all about.


Held on a Monday afternoon at St Paul's Church in Cheltenham, Melody Mamas is run as part of Miniature Music, by Frankie who has two children of her own and wanted to offer other mums the chance to sing together without having to worry about childcare.

So far, we've learnt a few warm ups and begun to tackle a range of different songs, even including some harmonies and if I do say so myself, we sound pretty good! We have even had some press coverage!

The children have been amazing so far, the age range spans from a few weeks old up to pre school age and they have played together brilliantly. Mums are nearby to supply snacks, drinks and cuddles as required and can rest assured that nobody will mind if their child is a bit noisy or needs changing/feeding in the middle of a song.

You can find out more about Melody Mamas by visiting the Miniature Music Facebook page. See you at regionals!

Honey wears... Biker boots by Clarks Shoes




Monday, 24 April 2017

Pop goes the Maman...

Cheltenham Maman HQ has done it again! She's brought a fabulous event to our very own town. Maman Goes Pop is a pop up market rounding up Instagram's finest, local offerings and housing them all under one roof. Taking place at The Wilson all week, head along to take part in a range of activities (online booking essential) or to purchase some gorgeous gifts or a treat for yourself. 

We went along and joined a fabulous story session with The Little Top ladies, which both the Mummy and the teacher in me were super impressed with! Dressing up - check! Craft - check! Story making - check! Digging deeper - check! Honey and Ace both had a great time.

I also browsed the gorgeous stalls and have come away with a list of wants that I am now scaling down until I'm left only with needs... you can guess how that's going! 

Honey wears... Striped dinosaur top by Mini Boden
Ace wears... 'Super' sweatshirt by Next






Sunday, 26 March 2017

Wild Thing...

Ace was one last Sunday so we decided to have a day trip to The Cotswold Wildlife Park. We left way too early as I'd checked the Sat Nav on a Monday morning which added another half an hour to the journey, but it turned out to be for the best as Ace slept all the way there and for an extra 20 minutes while we had a drive around Lechlade!

We paid online the night before (you save £1 per ticket), gave our reference number when we got to the gate and then we were quickly ushered into a space in the large, free car park. We stuck around the Walled Garden area at first so it would be easy for later arrivals to find us and there was loads to keep us occupied. Honey was mesmerised by the penguins being fed and Ace fell in love with a little monkey (finally, a pet I'd actually consider). Spot the sloth was fun in the tropical house and all the children stood watching the giant fish in the wishing pond for ages!

Once everyone had arrived, we set off into the main park. The play area was a huge hit with all the children (ages ranged from 6 months to 12 years) so we spent quite a long time there while some of the group had a train ride or took a walk around the reptile house. 

We had lunch at the onsite cafe which offered huge portions of homemade deliciousness such as lasagne, Chilli con carne and soup and all at reasonable prices. The huge windows allowed us to watch the train as it passed and overlook the farm area so Honey could plan what to look at next. Ace enjoyed eating my chips and lasagne and conducted his own, impromptu cake smash after we sung Happy Birthday to him!

Ace had a great time meeting goats and climbing their rocks in the farmyard, he put his welly walking practise to very good use here! We were lucky to find the train unexpectedly open and rushed to make the last ride of the day. Honey absolutely loved seeing all the animals as we drove round and had to be reminded to sit down quite a few times as she was so excited! After the train, Honey was particularly interested in seeing the lions and giraffes close up so we followed the path round to their homes and also caught up with some of the others in our group.

By that time we had been there for around 6 hours and people had started to head home. We didn't all leave at the same time so we had to make a couple of trips to the car to hand over party bags and cupcake favours but I suppose the only alternative would have been to have carried them round all day which would have been really annoying! 

I'm yet to find the perfect kids birthday celebration solution, we've had small parties at home, bigger parties in the garden and a huge party in a local hall but I think this one was the best so far as people could choose to do their own thing then come back to the group and crucially, it took very little organising on my part! 

Honey wears... Rainbow wellies (preloved, brand unknown)
Ace wears...Dinosaur wellies by Next






Sunday, 19 March 2017

Have your cake and eat it...

Look at Ace's amazing  birthday cupcakes! 




















We bought them from the fabulous Yippee Gluten Free, who are based in Abbeymead, Gloucester. Jen said she had great fun making the dinosaur decorations but I reckon Ace and his friends had way more fun eating them! 






















Have a look at Yippee Gluten Free's Facebook page for more examples of Jen's awesome cakes, as well as her yummy savoury products, or follow them on Twitter to find out which food festivals they'll be attending and who stocks their products! 

Honey wears... Grey circles top by Gap Kids
Ace wears... 'Boy' top by Make Your Marque










Saturday, 18 March 2017

Baby Prints...

When Honey was tiny, we were kindly given some handprint kits to do at home. Unfortunately I was a bit scared to press down on her teeny, tiny, wriggly little hands and feet so the results were cute but nothing to write home about! I found Babyprints on Instagram in late 2016 and was amazed to see the level of detail achieved in their prints, so I was super excited when Honey and Ace were invited along!

















We were warmly welcomed into the Babyprints office where Victoria explained that the process would be quick and painless for the children and showed Honey the special clay she would use. Both children were happy to let Victoria press down on their hands gently, yet with purpose and that was their part done! Easy! 




But here's where the work starts. After a few days drying, Victoria can begin casting, cleaning and picking out the details of your little one's hand or foot.  Then comes mounting, framing and annotating your prints and finally, securely packing them ready for you to collect! I was updated regularly throughout the creation process (which is estimated at 2-3 weeks) around and offered a sneaky peek of the finished article. 
























The results are amazing! Each print is a truly individual work of art and an amazing reminder of a precious time in your little one's life. Here are our prints in their new home! Honey loves showing people 'what she made' and has tried to claim them for her bedroom but we're waiting until it's had a revamp so we can show them off properly. You can find The Babyprints Cheltenham contact information on their Facebook page or website along with plenty more examples of Vic's beautiful work.




















*Although we were kindly gifted our Babyprints experience, all thoughts and opinions expressed in this blog are my own.

Honey wears... Pink tunic by Gap Kids
Ace wears... Dinosaur bib by Funky Giraffe
Photo credits to Oobaloos Photography and Babyprints Cheltenham

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Kito Baby...

One of my lovely neighbours has recently started her own business making and selling a beautiful range of teething jewellery. Kito Baby offers teething jewellery and accessories made from 100% non toxic, BPA free silicone beads, complete with a choice of gorgeous cord colours and breakaway clasps (just incase little hands get a bit overexcited)!

The range includes necklaces and keyrings named after the creator's daughter and her little friends but you can also request a custom order if you can't quite decide on something from the Etsy shop. This week, they have also launched a Mother's Day treat box and a teething survival kit which are sure to be big hits!



What stands Kito Baby apart from the rest, is the support it offers to Urafiki. Urafiki is a small but very special charity, supporting the education of precious children in Kenya. £1 from every Kito Baby sale goes towards enrolling children in school, feeding them and providing them with clothing. Such a generous gesture, especially from a brand new, small business.


After much deliberation, we chose to purchase 'Tilly' and were super impressed with the quality of the necklace, the eco friendly packaging and the overall presentation of our order.














We are really looking forward to seeing what's next for Kito Baby and wish them all the best with their new venture.

Ace chews... Tilly necklace by Kito Baby