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Educational Play with Schleich I'm a big fan of learning through play. Unforced educational play. I'm not a teacher and I don't want to be. I want my children to naturally learn whilst they are having fun. When I was contacted recently...

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Say Eh-Oh to the new Teletubbies toys! There back!! Teletubbies made a joyous return to CBeebies last year, and this year marks the launch of the new range of toys. As you know I was sent a box just before Christmas, and today I can finally...

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Travel: Ox Pasture Hall Hotel, Scarborough Last weekend Nana and I took a rather lengthy journey north for a night away at the Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough, with Little Dude in tow. The Ox Pasture Hall Hotel is a luxurious country hotel...

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A Place To Enjoy My Garden I love my garden. I love the fact that I have a garden, especially with the recent gorgeous weather we've been having. Whilst I have a pretty compact garden, there's a lot going on out there. Plants, fruit...

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Cuddles With Ben Cohen Some days I have a really difficult job. Days like this for example. *Ahem* That rather nice young man is former rugby player Ben Cohen. Ben is a bit of an expert when it comes to cuddles. He has...

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#Christmas at Drusillas

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Christmas | Posted on 17-12-2016

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With just over a week to the big day, and school finally out for a couple of weeks, you are all no doubt thinking of ways to keep the children entertained and distracted before Christmas. Last weekend we took a trip to Drusillas to check out their Winter Wonderland and we had a wonderful time.

If you head down there in the run up to Christmas you’ll get the chance to meet Santa’s reindeer, meet and hug some of his huskies, and then meet the big man himself. And if you go before January 2nd you’ll get to watch the Winter Wonderland Illuminations too.

Yes that is Thomas The Tank Engine wearing earmuffs and a scarf – the cutest most festive train I’ve ever seen.

Now a logical word of warning here: when you arrive and buy your tickets to get in and your tickets to see Santa which are an extra £11 per child, you’ll be advised to visit him early because he’s going to get busy. Do this. We walked around the zoo first and ended up with me queuing for over an hour whilst Daddy amused the children. By the time we’d reached the front of the queue, it was a little over double the length it had been when I joined it.

The reindeer are really cute, but the huskies are a definite highlight. Such beautiful friendly dogs who are well worth a visit. Handily they are right next door to Santa so they’re a good place to go with the kids whilst someone else joins the queue. I must admit to thinking £11 per child to meet Santa was a little steep, but he was probably the best Santa I’ve ever seen, and the grotto was lovely. He takes time to talk to the children and you don’t feel like you’re on a conveyor belt. The gifts are also perfect, but I won’t spoil the surprise there.

Sadly we couldn’t stay for the light show as it starts at 4.30 and the children were starting to droop. We left about 2pm and it was definitely getting busier, with a lot of people obviously coming specifically for that part of the day. But we did see the area where the show was going to be, and the illuminated wonderland creatures. I’m sure the display was amazing once it went dark.

We love Drusillas and we love having the opportunity to visit again and again. It’s truly a fantastic day out for the family all year round, but it certainly gave us a lovely start to the festive period.

Festive Bingo!

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Sponsored Posts | Posted on 06-12-2016

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The Christmas countdown has began! Crackers, check. Turkey, check. Sprouts….. maybe not this year.

Christmas and New Year are full of traditions. Some are historic like leaving the carrot for the reindeer on Christmas Eve or counting down the minutes to midnight on New Years eve. Others are more recent such as singing hit songs or watching a fight unfold on Eastenders.

I have these fabulous online bingo cards with some known and lesser known traditions on. See how many you can tick off and how traditionally British your holidays is!

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Thanks to Paddy Power for these great festive bingo cards – I hope you have fun playing along!

December 1st

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Christmas Gift Guide | Posted on 01-12-2016

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I have been rubbish at blogging recently. I have no idea where the time has gone, or how it is already the start of December. But today I decided would be the ideal time to show off this awesome product that arrived many weeks ago.

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I love this mug. Looks like a plain boring white mug yes? Nope. How about now?

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Cool huh? Or what about this?

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Yep. Same mug. Bit proud of the penguin I must confess.

You see this mug comes with a special pen which lets your draw on a design of your choice. It looks permanent, but it washes off, so you can change your mug every day if you wish. Or you can write a special message for a friend or loved one before you give it them as a gift. Maybe even your child’s teacher as a Christmas present. The pen makes it totally personalised and unique, making it the ultimate bespoke gift. And you can give them the pen too so if they wash the design off, they can re-doodle their own.

Eat Sleep Doodle do lots of products with the same doodling feature. As well as the mug, they sent me two of their Placemat-To-Go’s.

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Each cotton sheet features a printed on plate and cutlery on one side and a graph paper design on the other. It comes in a handy carry bag and includes a set of ten coloured pens. We’ve not tested this out yet – I’m thinking it’ll get lots of use over Christmas though. Ideal for taking to the grandparents for when the kids are waiting on their food, or for when you’re eating out at restaurants. The children can draw to their hearts content – maybe try and doodle their dinner – and then you simply pop them in the washing machine and they are ready for next time. I’m thinking they’ll also come in handy in the car for keeping the boys entertained on our way to visit family over the festive period. The fact it comes in a bag is just super convenient. Hopefully I’ll get some action shots of this in use over on my Instagram in the coming weeks.

Do make your way over to the Eat Sleep Doodle website and take a look at their awesome products – lots of Christmas gift inspiration for those of you who haven’t finished shopping yet. Fingers crossed, for the first year ever, I might be done by December 1st… hopefully.

Help Keep Families Close

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Information | Posted on 20-10-2016

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What child doesn’t love McDonalds? I know my two are very enthusiastic when we say we’re going there. You can’t beat a Happy Meal if you’re 6 or 2. But what they don’t realise about McDonalds, and what some of you might not realise either, is the awesome charity work they do as well as feeding us.

McDonalds currently has 14 Ronald McDonald Houses in the UK – houses which provide free accommodation to parents and families when children are in hospital. “Ronald McDonald Houses give families the chance to remain close to their child whilst they are in hospital. Their location, as close as possible to one of fourteen specialist children’s hospitals across the UK, means that families can be by their child’s bedside in a matter of moments, whilst maintaining a degree of normal life and reducing emotional and financial strain. To ensure a sense of closeness, where possible, a direct telephone line connects families’ rooms in the Ronald McDonald House to their child’s ward.”

Needless to say fundraising is vital to the work McDonalds do, so this Saturday October 22nd they are having a charity day at branches up and down the country. McDonalds will be turning Jungle Themed and selling special cuddly toys for £2.50 each, with every single penny going straight to the charity. These toys will be purchasable from the counters, kiosks and drive thrus of most branches across the country, and there will also be collection boxes available. Last year they raised a fabulous £3.9 million so hopes are high for beating that this year.

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Campaign ambassador Jeff Brazier has created this video about the appeal, so please do take a look.

Four new houses are desperately needed, and McDonalds hopes to get them opened in the next few years. Days like Saturday are only going to help, but there are other ways to get involved if you head over to the RMHC website. Here you’ll find out more details about the fourteen existing houses, as well as stories from families who have used them.

Please please head down to your local McDonalds this Saturday. Every penny really does count, and the effects will be life changing for families.

This post was sponsored.

#Review: Tangle Teezer

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Product Reviews | Posted on 14-09-2016

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Tangle Teezer’s have been around for ages. They are one of those things I’ve wanted to try out for a while, so when a bright and funky Lemon Sherbet teezer landed on my doormat a few weeks ago, I was very excited.

sherbetlemonCute isn’t it? I love the contrasting colours. The sharp lemon and the softer pink make this stand out from the rest, and perfectly epitomises its name. I love how compact it is. It pretty much lives in my handbag, handy for keeping my hair looking neat when I’m constantly on the run. I love the shape. It is ergonomically brilliant, fitting perfectly in the palm of my hand giving me complete control.

Banish tangles and knots with a minimum of fuss, breakage or damage with the Tangle Teezer detangling brush uniquely designed with teeth that glide through your hair leaving it soft and shiny without tugging and pulling.

Using the brush leaves my hair smooth and sleek, and I think it works very well with my short bob style. A welcome addition to my handbag.

The Salon Elite Tangle Teezer is available in a range of fun and funky colours. There’s one for everyone.

#Review: Peppa Pig Alphaphonics Campervan

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Educational Play | Posted on 13-09-2016

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When your child reaches two, there is a basic inevitability that Peppa Pig and her friends are going to take over your lives. There is clearly some magical hypnosis coming from the TV whenever it is on that just draws children in, and from then on anything Peppa Pig themed – and to be fair there’s a lot out there – becomes fascinating to them.

We watch Peppa Pig, obviously. Little Dude is 2 and a definite fan. He took his first trip to Peppa Pig World recently and loved it. We already have a few themed toys in the house, but when I was asked if I wanted to review the brand new Alphaphonics Campervan I was very interested.

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Styled to look like the campervan used in their holiday episodes, this electronic toy features the letters of the alphabet next to a recognisable image. There are eight games to play which can be selected using a sliding button at the top. You can learn about the phonic sounds, spelling, matching and the alphabet. It comes with volume control – YAY! – but I’m afraid it has NO OFF SWITCH. Aimed at the over 3’s I could see this appealing to both my children. Little Dude loves the show, recognises the characters, and loves pressing buttons. Little Man, at almost 6, doesn’t really watch it anymore but loves learning and practising his phonics.

Little Dude has obviously played with it most. He likes going through the letters one at a time, pressing the buttons and either saying the word or mimicking the item in the image. His favourite is invariably the ‘D’ key and there is usually a lot of dinosaur roars to be heard. With Little Man its more about copying the phonics sounds and practising spelling some of the words. He’s like a sponge at the moment with information and learning, so I’m very pleased to let him “play” with this as he is good at listening to the instructions.

It’s a great educational fun toy. Lots of potential for learning for both Little Dude and Little Man, who both think they’re just having fun which is ideal. The sliding button at the top feels a little cheap to me and I do wonder how long it will survive with my boisterous boys. Apart from that I love it, though I do wonder who thought no off switch was a good idea. It automatically shuts off after two minutes of none usage, but surely a simple off switch would be easier? Thankfully there is volume control so you don’t have to endure the pig too loud. It is a great toy for young fans of the show, and a good starter for the phonics learning. Oink oink!

I Want A Lunchbox…

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Back To School | Posted on 30-08-2016

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With a little over a week to go before the children head back to school there is stuff everywhere. In every single shop there is some kind of back to school section overflowing with uniform, stationary, bags, lunch bags, bottles, and every manner of thing you apparently need to survive another year at school.

Now with Little Man about to make the move up into Year 1 and Little Dude about to start his time at preschool – two mornings a week to myself!!! – the list of things we actually need are pretty short. New jumpers, shirts and socks was about all Little Man needed, and Little Dude just needed a bag to take bits to preschool in. All very low maintenance, which to be honest makes a change for my two.

I’m very lucky that both the preschool and the primary school provide lunches for my boys. I hate making packed lunches. Little Man likes a very limited selection of foods that I could provide, so gets easily bored. Both of them seem happy enough when we have the occasional picnic, but if I gave them that sort of food every day they’d both be complaining in no time.

That being said, we do own a lot of lunch boxes. Little Man has a couple that he used at his original preschool, and Little Dude has one as well. In fact his new preschool “bag” is actually a cool bag but it was perfectly sized for him and has a dinosaur on so it’s a winner.  Daddy even has a lunch box that he takes to work with him. In fact the only person without a lunch box is me…

I want a lunch box! Why does everyone else get a lunch box except me?! *insert tantrum here*

Anyway…

There are SO many cute lunch boxes out there. Gone it seems are the days of plastic lunch boxes with ill fitting flasks. Nowadays its trendy looking coolbags in a vast array of shapes, designs and styles.  I’ve been resisting the urge to get myself a lunch box for ages. Until now that is.

Joules-GuineaPigBox

I mean seriously, how cute is this?

I actually have the guys at House Of Fraser to thank for this. I love Joules designs – my Little Dude’s preschool bag is actually this but in the dinosaur print – so when they asked if I’d like one I couldn’t say no. They are a great size, supremely cute and come with a handy box inside too. Now obviously I’m not heading back to school in September, but I guess I could take food to work in it maybe. Or at the very least I’m ready for my next picnic with my boys.

Good luck to everyone heading to school in September, especially those going for the first time. You’ll be great.

#Review: House Of Fraser Kitchen Linen

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Product Reviews | Posted on 24-06-2016

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Summer is here. Try not to laugh now. Okay I know if you look outside it might not look much like summer, though the with the crazy way the weather keeps changing at the moment maybe it does. Either way its times like this that I always feel inspired to do some home decorating, or freshen things up at bit. The team at House Of Fraser sent me some new linen for my kitchen to help with this.

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They have a lovely selection to choose from, and we were sent a set from the Dickins & Jones Farmers Market range. We received the apron, the tea towels and the oven gloves, which have brightened up our kitchen no end.

I love the bright floral design on each item, and it makes it feel very much like a countryside kitchen. The quality is excellent too, precisely what you’d expect from such an iconic brand. I am a particular fan of the apron. I’m not exactly the cleanest and tidiest cook or baker, so this is perfect for keeping me clean, if not the rest of the kitchen! Everything is machine washable thankfully too, something I have tested out many times so far. I’ll get better. Eventually.

The superb news is that if you dash on over to the House Of Fraser website these items are all currently in the sale!

Educational Play with Schleich

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Educational Play | Posted on 22-06-2016

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I’m a big fan of learning through play. Unforced educational play. I’m not a teacher and I don’t want to be. I want my children to naturally learn whilst they are having fun. When I was contacted recently by Schleich about receiving their new “Educational Play The Schleich Way” guide – which you can download yourself via the handy button to the right – and a selection of their animal figures to play with, I jumped at the chance.

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I was a big fan of the guide, which is full of practical information and ideas for playing with your children. It was created with the help of Amanda Gummer who I’ve featured on here before, and she is wonderful at coming up with different ways of playing. We tailored some of the suggested games to make them more appropriate for Little Dude who is just 2 years old, for example asking him to bring us a certain animal and teaching him the noises that they make. We also used them with existing toys we have, for example an animal jigsaw that features an elephant, and a farm yard set had a new cow and horse to visit. As the guide suggested there is lots of potential for speech development with these toys, and as a 2 year old who is very much in the midst of finding his voice they are a tremendous addition to our existing toys. I can also see there getting dragged out into the garden if the weather ever sorts itself out and becomes consistently sunny. I can already imagine a strange zoo farm emerging on my grass!

The Schleich figures themselves are fabulous. The quality is outstanding, and the detailing on them is incredible. From the wrinkles on the elephants skin, to the marks on the horses hooves, and the prominent ribs on the cow, they are phenomenally lifelike. I can see more of these figures making their way into our playroom soon, especially now I’ve spied the impressive range of dinosaurs they do!

#Review: Shark Rocket HV320

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Product Reviews | Posted on 09-06-2016

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I hate housework. I’m sure I’m not alone in that statement either. I can generally find a million and one things I’d rather be doing than cleaning the house, and invariably can be found doing one of them instead.

Having two young boys in the house the floor is generally chaotic. Biscuit crumbs, bread crumbs, a few dozen dinosaurs, several books and cars are scattered far and wide, therefore vacuuming is something of an assault course. I was approached recently by the team at Shark asking if I’d like to test out one of their vacuums. It was a brand I had never heard of before, so I did a little research before replying. A swift Google search and I stumbled upon several comments about how they were infinitely better than Dyson which had me intrigued. I use a Dyson myself and have always been highly impressed by it – so easy to move around and seemingly efficient. But was there something better?

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Shark sent me a Rocket HV320 to test out. “The only Shark® stick vacuum designed to integrate the performance and cleanability of an upright and with pets in mind.” I have never used a stick vacuum before. I have long lusted after the Dyson cordless, but I have only ever used an upright so I was again intrigued as to how this would differ. The vacuum can be used with a multitude of included attachments, allowing it to be used as a stick vacuum and a handheld. It has a mini motorised brush for pet hair, a Dustaway attachment for hard floors, multiple LED lights for seeing under furniture, and can be stored either hanging on the wall or free standing.

The first test I did with the Shark was crumbs. Little Dude creates more crumbs than the rest of us put together, and not least of all with his favoured treat of a croissant. It is probably my own fault for allowing him to enjoy this treat stood at the coffee table whilst watching Bing or Twirlywoos, but the mess is insane as you can see from the before shot below. The after shot was taken following a quick vacuum with the Shark. The results, I feel, speak for themselves.

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This doesn’t demonstrate the amount of crumbs that were over the table but I’m sure you can imagine. As you can see the rug looks like new, in fact I’m fairly sure it has never looked cleaner.

Next up was biscuit crumbs. Our sofas have wide arms which make them a frequent dumping ground for all manner of things, least of all drinks and snacks. Little Man arrives home from school each afternoon ravenous so snacks are dispensed almost the moment we walk back through the front door. He settles himself on the sofa with a bowl of fruit and biscuits and a drink and inevitably scatters the crumbs along the arms. Another before and after shot here, and this time I used the motorised head with the vacuum in its handheld form.

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For our final test – for now – I decided it was long time I cleaned out my car. The interior is basically an extension of the house, scattered with crumbs and stones and leaves and toys and books and all manner of chaos. Again it was time for the handheld vacuum to be used, along with the mini motorised head and the small crevice tool.

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My well battered car mats haven’t looked this clean for a very long time.

I think the photos here tell the story of the quality of the cleaning – entirely faultless. But how was using it? Well as I mentioned previously I have never used a stick vacuum before. It was a very different experience to an upright and it did take a bit of getting used to. It manouveres well however, and the heads fit neatly beneath the coffee table and the sofas. The lights, which I originally thought were a crazy feature, provided a great scope of vision beneath the furniture, allowing me to see precisely how untidy my house is!

I have a few more tests for the Shark which will be featured on the blog soon. I need to test it on the hard floors of the kitchen and bathrooms, I need to test its ability to vacuum the carpet in my bedroom which tends to be covered in my hair, and I need to use it on the stairs. But so far, I am vastly impressed with the vacuum and can well see me forgoing my Dyson entirely.