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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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Blaze and the Monster Machine’s Party Invite…

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Blogger Event | Posted on 14-03-2016

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We’re having a party!!

Blaze-Invite

On Wednesday 16th March between 1pm and 3pm I will be holding a party, along with a team of other bloggers, to co-incide with the HOUR LONG Blaze and the Monster Machine’s special which will be airing on Nick Jr that same afternoon. We have a huge array of fun and educational activities planned for the children at home, all of which are STEM related – science, technology, engineering and maths – and you can follow all our games via my Twitter account @SussexMummy. There’ll be images going up on my Instagram, and if you also follow @NickJrUK and the #NickJrBlaze you’ll spot lots of chat and exclusive competitions being run too.

There’ll be four main activities going on in my house that afternoon. Our Science activity will be a bit of a wet one and we might just be testing out Blaze’s swimming ability. Our Technology activity will be creative and very tasty thanks to the fabulous @KiddyliciousUK. Our Engineering Activity will be testing out Blaze’s driving skills and might also feature a few edible components. And finally our Maths Activity will see just how far we can make Blaze go.

Many of our activities are going to feature new toys from the Fisher Price Blaze and the Monster Machines range which you can find at your nearest Argos and Smyths Toys Superstore.

Please do follow the party using all the appropriate social media, and most importantly don’t forget to watch the brand new HOUR LONG special on Nick Jr too.

My #HotterMoment

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Blogger Event | Posted on 01-12-2015

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I love shoes. I always have. I couldn’t even begin to hazard a guess as to how many pairs I’ve owned in my lifetime. As a Mum who spends her life chasing around after her children I’m all about comfortable shoes. Flats all the way for me, with the few pairs of heels I own rarely getting a look in. The Hotter brand isn’t new to me, nor is it new to this website, but whilst I’ve had the pleasure and the privilege of owning and reviewing several pairs before, I think I’ve finally had my Hotter Moment.

On Monday night I went to a blogger event at the newly opening Brighton store. I’m lucky where I live that there are so many stores close by, including my local town centre and a nearby garden centre. But Brighton store is all shiny and new, and when we were told we could try on as many pairs as we liked, I was there in a flash.

Hotter shoes are still thought of as old peoples. The first time I worked with them I thought I’d be hard pressed to find a pair that I wouldn’t expect to see on the feet of my own mum, or even my grandparents. This is so not the case, and especially nowadays. Certainly only the funkiest grans would be seen out and about in these beauties.

Hotter-Antoinette-SussexMummy

These are the gorgeous Antoinette shoes. They are so pretty. And they are insanely comfortable, which for a heeled shoe is amazing. I was not born to walk in heels, but I was definitely born to walk in Hotter heels. I spent a long time walking around the store in these, and then carrying them round, before reluctantly handing them back. Maybe for Christmas…

Practicality is a must for me with shoes, which sounds really dull I know, but doesn’t have to mean boring. I went into the store on a mission – I wanted to find a pair for the school run. Now Little Man goes to school in a village about 5 miles away, so there’s some driving involved. The local pub which is a few minutes walk from the school lets parents use their car park at drop off and pick up which is great, and helps to ease the congestion at the school gate. This daily walk involves stomping through gravel, down pavements, over paving stones, and along paths, all of which are currently covering in leaves and puddles and mud. I currently wear Gortex Running Shoes for this, which whilst clearly very practical, isn’t particularly pretty. I decided it was time for a change.

Now I’d had a sneaky look at the Hotter website before I went so had a good idea which shoe I wanted to try on, so when I arrived in store and spotted my desired shoe on display I knew I was on the right track. Gortex was clearly a sensible starting point, but I wanted to avoid more walking boots, so I was immediately drawn to the Ribble Boot.

Hotter-Ribble-SussexMummy

They’re so pretty. And they are so comfortably. And they are so pretty. And they look great with my jeans. And they are so pretty. And my feet are so warm and cosy. And did I mention how pretty they are?

Now the Ribble comes in two colours – black which is leather, and these espresso ones which are suede. Yes, suede. I tried on both pairs, and fell in love with the suede ones. There was a definitive Hotter Moment, and I knew I’d found the perfect shoes. The amazing team in store popped a pair in a box and handed them over. “Let us know how you get on.” Yes I am that lucky. I am now the proud owner of a gorgeous pair of Ribble boots which I will be testing to my utmost ability this week on the rather wet and windy school run, and a full review will be popping up on the blog soon.

If you find yourself in Brighton do head over to the new store – you’ll find it on Western Road just opposite Regent Hill – where you’ll discover a great range of stylish and colourful shoes and boots for every occasion.

#BritMumsLive2015 : Me & My Sponsors

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Blogger Event, Brit Mums Live | Posted on 23-05-2015

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So with less than a month to go Brit Mums Live I thought it was time I introduced myself, and my sponsors.

Name: Sarah LovettSussex-Mummy

Blog: Sussex Mummy Reviews

Twitter ID: @SussexMummy

Height: 5’8″ ish…

Hair: Short brown, we’re ignoring the grey yes…?

Eyes: Blue

Is this your first blogging conference?: No! I attended CyberMummy which was my very first conference and I have been to BritMumsLive twice before. I didn’t attend last year though as I’d just had Little Dude.

Are you attending both days?: Yes.

What are you most looking forward to at BritMums live 2015?: Catching up with blogging friends face to face and meeting new friends I’ve been chatting to. And having some me time away from the chaotic boys!!

What are you wearing?: As yet undecided, but something comfortable!

What do you hope to gain from BritMums LIVE 2015?: Getting my blogging mojo back which has been AWOL for a while now. And hopefully talking about my new blog…

Do you have any tips to pass on to others who haven’t been before?: Wear comfy shoes! There are stairs, lots of stairs. Oh and talk to each other!!

So that’s me. Now for my favourite part – introducing my sponsors. And yes, this year I have more than one. In fact I am incredibly lucky to have THREE! When I set about looking for sponsorship I was keen to work with the smaller independent brands as opposed to the big names. A lot of the reviews on my blog are products designed by mums so it felt natural to speak to these companies above all others. But I also know how expensive sponsorship can be, which is why I didn’t want one single brand to sponsor me. I am so happy with the three companies I have sponsoring me, and look forward to talking to you all about them at the conference.

BundleBeanFirst up is the superb Bundlebean! Bundlebean is one of my all time favourite genius products. The ones you can’t believe you lived without, and can’t believe you didn’t think of the idea first. I reviewed one for the ever lovely Emily years ago when she sent me her original blue spot design for use with Little Man. It is such a great product, so more than just a blanket for the pushchair. It got so much use with him, and was brought out again when Little Dude was born. It was a regular fixture on his car seat for ages, and it became like a security blanket for him when we traveled. It was a lifesaver as he wasn’t keen on driving in the dark, but with this on him he was fine. It also got used on the travel system in all its forms, and has been used on his new pushchair too. We use it as a blanket, a portable playmat and when the back carrier gets dragged out the loft this year we’ll attach it to that too. If you’ve never seen one – where have you been! – DO come and find me at the show where I’ll happily talk to you about them and provide you with contact details.

Next we have Cheeky Wipes! A brand you will no doubt recognise from The Baby Show if nowhere else they are very well known for their range of reusable baby wipes. But that’s not what I’ll be talking to you about, or showing you if you come and find me. Cheeky Wipes recently branched out, and are now selling washable sanitary towels. Now if you use washable nappies the idea of this is probably not too alarming, if you don’t you may be slightly put off. Don’t be. Since the birth of Little Dude I have had “issues” shall we say with disposable sanitary towels and so went off in search of a more “area friendly” alternative. I didn’t even know washables existed, but took a leap and bought myself one of Cheeky Wipes’ Starter Kits. By the end of the first day of using them I was converted, and by the end of my generally erratic period I was buying more. They are so comfortable, so easy to wash and care for, and yes, they do come out totally clean. I will be bringing a selection of towels with me to show you – clean new ones just in case you’re concerned – and will be more than happy to answer any questions you might have about using them.

CosyPlayFinally there is Cosyplay! Cosyplay is without doubt the comfiest play mat you will EVER find. We reviewed a mat three years ago when Little Man was technically too big to need a play mat. He adored it, and still does. For him it was a crash mat, somewhere to lie whilst watching TV, a roof for his dens, a floor for his tent, somewhere to chill. When I brought it back out for Little Dude it became somewhere for them to play together, to bond, to cuddle. Little Dude spends pretty much every day on it, and because of its waterproof backing, at the moment he spends a lot of that time in the garden. Rolling around on it, lying on it in the rare moments he’s still, crawling over it, eating his lunch on it picnic style, and yes, it is still the only floor that will do in our tent. I love the fact that they can both lie on it together and there is still just enough room for me to join them too. We also have the change and play mat which is smaller and our regular changing mat. Removable washable covers – on both the play mat and the changing mat – are a god send. I will have all the information you might need about these mats so DO come and ask me about them.

So there we have it. My three incredible sponsors. I am really excited to be attending Brit Mums Live this year after missing out last summer, and I am so proud to have these brands supporting me as I do. I look forward to seeing you all there!

I’m A Panasonic Brit Blogger!

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Blogger Event, Panasonic Brit Bloggers | Posted on 24-03-2014

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Those eagle eyed amongst you will no doubt have spotted the shiny new badge which made an appearance on my blog recently, announcing that I’m a Panasonic Brit Blogger. Like many of you I applied to join the team at last years Brit Mums Live and was so excited to hear back from them at the start of the year saying that I’d been chosen to be part of their cameras and camcorders group. Well a couple of weeks ago myself and nine other bloggers were invited to get together at Panasonic’s rather posh head offices in Bracknell, to meet one another and the Panasonic team, and get our hands on some of new releases for 2014.

As you can imagine there is some amazing kit on the way this year but for me there were two highlights that I think would be most use to our little family. First up is this little cutie.
panasonic ft25 sussexmummy

Whilst this might look like a regular compact camera it is much more than that. The FT25 is one of Panasonic’s “tough” compacts. Its designed for active users, and is waterproof, dustproof and shockproof. Now whilst this is pitched at people that want to go scuba diving or mountain climbing I think this would make a great camera for families with young children. Imagine you’re on holiday at the beach, or walking through some muddy woods on a day out, or anywhere really and your little one wants to take a photo. You’re not likely to hand over your camera – I have a Lumix Bridge camera that Little Man has used but I certainly wouldn’t let him do so outside. You could literally chuck this at your child and let them carry on. If they drop it in a puddle, the sea, a sandy beach or onto the floor it won’t break. Water wont get in, and neither will sand. What’s more your children have a better chance of taking some decent shots. It’s a 16 megapixel camera with a battery life of around 250 photos. The perfect accompaniment to any family break or day out.

My other highlight was one of the camcorders, one that is of particular interest to me in the months ahead.
panasonic w850 sussexmummyThis is the W850 camcorder, and describing it as “clever” just doesn’t do it justice. As you can probably spot from the image on the right it has TWO cameras, so you record two scenes at the same time with both displaying on the fold out window. Handy for anyone who tends to miss the action, or if you want to record the action as well as your reaction. Cool huh? But for me, that’s not the best bit. The camcorder has a series of modes, one of which is the Baby Monitor Mode. With the help of this mode – and the very impressive night vision – you can set this camcorder up in your babies’ room to watch them as they sleep. A remote pan and tilt cradle is also available to give you full control of where the camcorder points. But how does it work as a monitor? Thanks to the wonder of WIFI. You simply connect the camcorder to your smartphone or tablet – using the free to download and widely available Panasonic Image App – and set up your notifications to go off if your baby makes a noise or wakes. You can even talk to your baby via the camcorder so if they simply need a bit of verbal reassurance you don’t need to move. For me this is a really exciting piece of kit, and one that I loved playing about with on the day.

Now as I mentioned there are nine other bloggers joining me on this little journey with Panasonic, and you can find them listed below. Do head over to their blogs are read their insights into the day and their favourite products. There’s even a few photos of giant pigeons to be found if you look hard enough.

My fellow Panasonic Brit Bloggers are:
Leyla from This Day I Love
Danielle from Blog By Baby
Cat from Yellow Days
Laura from The Life & Times of The Working Mum
Jacinta from Jacintaz3
Lotte from Berice Baby
Michelle from The Purple Pumpkin Blog
Angela from This Is Life
Nadine from Juggle Mum

Panasonic covered my travel expenses for the day and provided me with the imagery above. The opinions are my own.

#LeanOnTurkey : Marco Pierre White Christmas Masterclass

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Blogger Event, Brit Mums Live, Christmas, Foodie | Posted on 24-09-2013

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Ah Christmas. The one time in a year that most competent cooks go totally bonkers and freak out at the sight of a turkey. When all knowledge of the previous 52 weeks worth of roast dinners leaves their brains and they turn into a gibbering wreck. We’ve all been there. But its not that hard, I promise. Its basically just a giant chicken, so why does the idea of Christmas lunch cause a sense of dread and panic? Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to Stamford Bridge, home of Chelsea Football Club and the rather fancy “Marco” restaurant to meet the man himself – Marco Pierre White – and learn his tips and tricks for creating the perfect Christmas lunch without the stress. Now Christmas lunch doesn’t really fill me with dread – like I said, its a giant chicken – but I know it does intimidate a lot of people, so I wanted to be able to pass on some pearls of wisdom from an expert.

Marco Pierre White is probably one of the most intimidating people you’ll ever meet. He has a definite presence when he enters the room, and there was generally a sense of hush and awe when he wandered in, apart from the muffled squeals of one over excited blogger who spent a good part of the day trying to find ways to declare her undying love for him. I’m not sure if she succeeded…

There were 21 bloggers at this event and so we were split in to two groups for our masterclass sessions. Our group went first and we were allowed access to Marco’s kitchen where we stood listening to his tips for the perfect Christmas lunch whilst watching him in action. As you can see here, there was a lot of knife wielding involved – nobody was brave enough to point out the handle end – as we watched him cook turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and gravy.

Marco’s Top Tips:
* Remove the legs and wings of the turkey before cooking, or simply buy a turkey crown. Nobody really wants the brown meat, and it will speed up the cooking process. He cooked our turkey in about an hour and a half! The best way to find out if your turkey is done is to invest in a meat probe and use that in the thickest part of the bird to ensure its properly cooked and at the right temperature.

* To stuff your bird use a 50/50 mix of Paxo – yes, he did specifically say PAXO – and the best sausage meat you can afford – there’s is from a posh place in Chelsea, mine will probably come from Asda…. You can also add chopped onion or herbs if you wish. Don’t use as much water as the Paxo instructions tell you, but otherwise do as it says on the packet.

* Marco’s Cranberry Sauce is made using 500g cranberries, 250g sugar, 100ml port and 100ml of orange juice. Simply boil the fruit and sugar together until you get a runny jam consistency. Take it off the heat to add the port and orange juice, and stir it all together. You can make this in advance and store it in your fridge in a sealed jar for up to a month. It also makes a nice gift if you put it in a fancy jar.

* The gravy was made from the chopped up bones from the legs and wings of the turkey which Marco removed at the start. He added onion, garlic, water, butter and bouillon. He thickened it to taste with cornflour. He did mention that we could use Knorr stock pots instead of bouillon if we preferred. No surprise there though!

Christmas lunch truly can be simple. It can be calm and it can be stress free. Now admittedly Marco cooked this in a quiet kitchen apart from having ten bloggers looking on, and he did have ONE thing that none of us will have on Christmas morning to help us. Marco has Roger. Roger has been working with Marco for 25 years, and there is a sense of “old married couple” about them. Roger is his right hand man and I get the impression he’s pretty indispensable. Despite many pleas, Roger is not available to hire out for special occasions, nor is he free Christmas morning to do all the hard work so we don’t have to.

After watching Marco – and Roger – cook, we got to eat which I think most people were rather keen on. We watched as the food was carved in the kitchen, plated up school dinner style – a fairly orderly queue was formed – and then we were dispatched back to the dining area to enjoy our meal with the odd glass of wine. Here’s my first Christmas lunch of 2013.

Yes I know, there’s no potatoes. Much devastation on my table about the lack of potatoes. It was, as expected, delicious. Was it the best Christmas lunch I’ve ever tasted… I’m not sure to be honest. My Mum is rather good at Christmas lunch to be fair. It was really nice though, and the cranberry sauce was very tasty. I don’t tend to enjoy homemade sauce, but this was simple and one recipe I will be doing this December. I’ll probably also be found mixing sausage meat with Paxo – other stuffing brands are available… – to make my stuffing. The idea of just cooking the turkey crown is interesting, especially with the speed of cooking factor. I do like leftovers though, so I’m not sure if I could get on board with this totally. In fact after Christmas Day you can generally find me stood by the open fridge picking bits of cold turkey from the carcass for ages!

This Christmas Day there will be me, Daddy, Little Man, Nana and Pops for lunch. I will certainly be using some of the tips and ideas I picked up on the day, and I hope you all will too. Most of all, I hope you have a very Merry Christmas – when it gets here! – and a wonderful New Year.

One last photo – the obligatory shot I think.
#LeanOnTurkey

 

The Volvo V70 and A Trip To Cowes Week

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Blogger Event, Information, Product Reviews | Posted on 14-08-2013

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I’ve got to do some pretty cool things since starting this website. Most recently I was given the chance to borrow a Volvo V70 AND go along with the Volvo team to Cowes Week. I’ll admit that beforehand I was most excited about the chance to use the car for a few days, but I have to confess, Cowes was amazing. Here’s how I got on.

Firstly, the car. Volvo sent me a rather fancy V70 to review. It barely fit on my drive. It was a massive car and I was really intimidated. I am a confident driver, but compared to our own car the Volvo looked huge. I was also confused when I got in the car to find it had no ignition and no handbrake. A read of the handbook, some trial and error, a call to my Dad, and about forty minutes later I got the car to start. A few pointers from the person who dropped it off would have been much appreciated. Doing this in 30+ degree heat with a bored toddler in the back seat was not the best way to get used to a new car! Once we were started there were no other problems. The car was a dream to drive. It was so quiet you could barely hear the engine, the boot was HUGE and housed so much stuff, and the built in sat nav was actually a joy to use. We were given special permission to take the car on our day out to Longleat Safari Park – as long as we didn’t go into the monkey enclosure of course – and it was excellent. The drive was comfortable and cool thanks to the great air conditioning and the electrically adjusted seats, and the journey simple with the sat nav which displays routes on the main screen AND on the dials behind the steering wheel. We managed to pack cool boxes, pushchairs, coats, potties, and an overnight bag into the boot and there was still space for more. My favourite feature? The boot. Push button opening AND closing. We played with this for hours!

Now I could go on about the technical specifications, the colour choices and all that important stuff, but you can find out the finer details of the V70 on the Volvo website. I think the V70 is a great family car – ideal for ferrying your little ones about with all the equipment that comes with them too!

Volvo were one of the main sponsors of Cowes week, with several vehicles at Cowes for visitors to look at as well as sponsoring races and several of the sailors themselves. A group of us were bounced over to Cowes on a RIB to enjoy the sights for the day, but I was rather lucky to be selected to spend my first couple of hours in the company of Oman Air on their rather fancy trimaran. At 75 feet this boat was massive, and apparently the fastest at Cowes. I can tell you that sitting on the trampoline section whilst it whizzed up and down at 33 knots certainly felt fast, especially when you were hanging on as tightly as I was. It was an incredible experience – one that several people I have spoken to since are very jealous about – and one that I am extremely grateful to Volvo and Oman Air for setting up.

The early afternoon was spent on an Elan 450 which was supposed to sail gently about in the Solent and give each of us chance to sail a little. Sadly within 5 minutes of leaving Cowes the heavens opened and it absolutely belted it down. Despite wearing a wide selection of waterproofs I was much happier to sit below deck with a nice cup of tea and a piece of cake. Some members of the group did remain on deck and did resemble drowned rats by the end of the trip!

The final event of the day – and the main one for Volvo and us – was the Volvo Sailing Speed Challenge. This saw four men racing against each other on very different vehicles. A kite surfer, a wind surfer, a man on a moth and a round the world yachtsman battled it out in the Solent. The early favourite was the kite surfer. Here’s how they got on.

An epic battle which we had the privilege of watching from on board our RIB just off Cowes. I was pretty sure Nick Dempsey was going to take the win before Alex Thomson soared to the winning line.

Cowes Week was a truly unforgettable experience. Hopefully I’ll make it over there again next year!

Happy Birthday Total Greek!

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Blogger Event, Foodie | Posted on 14-06-2013

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I was very lucky last night to be invited to the Total Greek Birthday Bash, celebrating 30 years of Total Greek Yogurt in the UK. At a venue in Central London a small group of food bloggers gathered for a special masterclass from Master Pâtissier Eric Lanlard. After arrival drinks we watched as Eric took two sponge cakes and sliced them into horizontally before layering them with a mix of Total Greek Yogurt and cream and fresh fruit. Each sponge layer was brushed with a naughty sugar syrup mix laced with ouzo, before the whole cake was surrounded by white chocolate cigarellos and topped with fresh fruit and a special gold leaf caramel. As you can imagine it looked amazing. And he then told us that WE had to replicate it. Mild panic set in amongst the bloggers at this point!

As you can see our stations were well equipped with all the ingredients, a selection of fresh fruit, and plenty bowls, knives, spatulas and piping bags. Having never used a piping bag before I was rather worried, but thankfully the piped cream mix was inside the cake so you can’t really see it. I must confess that it was A LOT of fun. Intimidating yes having Eric wandering around whilst you worked but he was really lovely and offered motivational advice when needed. It was all a bit “Generation Game”-esque with about 10 people frantically making their own cakes but working so close together meant we could all help each other out when needed.

Clearly Eric’s cake looked stunning. His is the one on the left here, and mine is the one on the right.

Now I must admit that I’m rather proud of my cake. Neat cake decorating is not something I do. I tend to bake with a toddler “helping” so it all becomes a bit carnage like. This is the poshest cake I’ve ever decorated in my life. My caramel shards do look a tad menacing compared to Eric’s more delicate ones, but you can probably blame Tea, Cake and Make for that, with whom I shared caramel making and breaking duties! I’ll be tucking in to this cake this evening – its currently being hidden from Little Man!

After the cake decorating extravaganza the room was transformed into a Greek haven, with music, cocktails and delicious canapes courtesy of Tonia Buxton. A lovely evening of food, drink and excellent company followed. A fantastic party and a brilliant way to celebrate Total Greek.

Event: Kiddicare Hedge End

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Blogger Event | Posted on 01-05-2013

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A week has past since the opening of the brand new Kiddicare store in Hedge End, near Southampton. I went down last week with Little Man to see this new store in action. Having never visited a Kiddicare store before I had no idea what awaited me – though I had heard lots of good things about other stores around the country. I’d used the online store before now though, so I was very excited to see what a store had to offer.

Upon arriving the first thing that we needed to do was go to the toilet. The changing facilities for Little Man were great – a room full of changing mats with mobiles above and discreet bins below made changing him quick and easy. The toilet facilities were excellent too. Each cubicle was big enough to fit a pram in as well – isn’t it a nightmare when you’re out with a child in a pram and you need to go to the toilet – and what I really loved was that the cubicles each had two toilets in: one for Mummy and a smaller ones for your little one. This would be ideal for when you both need to go so you’re not struggling in a tiny cubicle. There were then adult and child height basins to wash our hands, as well as step stools so little ones could reach. The store pretty much won me over just with this!

The store itself was immense – well stocked with everything you could need from conception upwards. If I was newly pregnant I think I’d have been overwhelmed with all the things on offer. There was a huge range of pushchairs and prams, from single buggies up to three seaters. All were available to test drive on their special track. Car seats were available for all stages, and they were fitted and checked for free in your vehicle. You could buy cloth and disposable nappies and all the accessories you’d need, as well as potties and steps for when you’ve moved on. I bought Little Man a My Carry Potty ready for our potty training adventure which will begin once we’re back from our holidays. High chairs and booster seats were also there in abundance, as well as a wide range of bedroom and nursery furniture. Then there were all the toys. Indoor, outdoor, wooden, plastic, soft toys, educational toys, and everything in between. Little Man spent a good twenty minutes playing on the toys on display, including rather a long time enjoying his first experience of a wooden train set. I was rather pleased to see it was from Big Jigs Toys.

The in-store cafe was lovely. It had those popular lunch boxes for children where you pick from a selection of items. It was good to see a mix of healthy choices as well as treats on offer. Little Man loves these boxes when we go out – its good for him to be able to choose what he wants, which invariably includes something chocolate based! There’s lots on offer for parents too, from cakes and snacks to lunches. The cafe has plenty of space for pushchairs and prams, and there are lots of highchairs available too. There’s even an enclosed play area so you can get some peace whilst you’re eating, with portholes so you can keep an eye on your little ones. In the cafe area you’ll also find a Nursing Nest, where you can go to breast or bottle feed in privacy.

The main thing that I found at Kiddicare was how much room there was. Wide aisles in the shopping area, plenty space in the cafe, and room in the toilets for prams and toddlers made it a great shopping experience. Clearly the team have thought of everything, and made sure that shopping there is a pleasant experience for everyone. Should I find myself pregnant again in the future, I think a trip to Kiddicare Hedge End will definitely be on my list of things to do. A brilliant day out for everyone.

Did I #SleepWellAtIbis ?

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Blogger Event, Product Reviews | Posted on 30-10-2012

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Last Monday I joined a small group of bloggers at an event to learn more about sleep. We were based at the brand new Ibis hotel in Shepherds Bush which had opened just a week earlier. We were joined for the day by Sleep Expert Sammy Margo who gave us all indispensable tips and advice for getting good quality sleep, and I must admit that I’m sleeping better since the event – I put it down to bed socks and a glass of milk before bed!

The reason for basing the event at the new Ibis hotel was to give us all the opportunity to test out the brand new ‘Sweet Bed by Ibis’. I’m sure you’ve all seem the advert on the TV at the moment where there’s a man sleeping in a bed when a team of people tiptoe in, lift him up and swap his bed. The new ‘Sweet Bed by Ibis’ has begun rolling out across the chain already and by the end of October 66,000 beds will have been replaced worldwide. The entire network will have been completed by the end of 2013.

When it came to changing the beds the research and design team focused on the three key components of the bed – the frame, the mattress, and the topper. The new frames feature hygienic multi-slat technology which can sustain 500kg of weight without becoming deformed. The new mattress is made from recycled mattress foam so its a very sustainable product, but also provides support without sagging. The topper is 7cm deep which is very generous, and is present across the whole Ibis chain, not just the high-end upscale hotels.

Here’s the bed in the room I was given for the night, where you can clearly see the three defined layers:

Honestly? Most comfortable bed I have EVER slept in. As soon as you sat on the bed you felt instantly comfortable as the topper makes you relax. Its so cosy and comfy and believe me, getting out the next morning was something of a challenge! I think all the bloggers wanted to take their bed home with them the next day.

I’d never stayed in an Ibis before, it was not a hotel I’d ever really considered, but after this stay I will be looking at them more closely in future when I’m hotel hunting. The rest of the room was great too. There was a large flat screen TV on the wall at the foot of the bed, generous hanging space and shelves to unpack into, tea and coffee making facilities, and a good sized bathroom with a nice large shower. The room also had facilities for you to control the temperature. I particularly liked the system for opening the room door – by tapping your key card on a sensor, in the same way you use an Oyster card. I always seem to battle with the usual scanning machines! Another feature of the rooms I liked was the Free Wifi. A lot of hotels claim to provide Free Wifi, but its often just in reception or the bar. This is throughout the hotel so if you need to work – or Tweet – there is free accessible Wifi in the comfort of your own room.

So the next time you’re looking for a hotel do take a look at the Ibis. This branch only has Double or Twin rooms – they can put cots in some of the bedrooms for small children and have rooms with adjoining doors for larger families – but there are a lot of other branches within London and the surrounding area, as well as throughout the country and across the globe. To find out more about the Ibis chain and to book your next break visit their website now.

And if you or your children are having trouble sleeping I suggest you check out Sammy Margo’s books: “The Good Sleep Guide” and “The Good Sleep Guide For Kids“.

Bagabook Giveaway At Brit Mums Live!

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Blogger Event, Brit Mums Live, Competition, Information, Product Reviews | Posted on 18-06-2012

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Bagabooks are designed to protect your precious paperbacks from damage when you’re reading them if you’re out and about. Whether you’re travelling by train or plane, or sat on a warm sandy beach (clearly not in the UK…) or just like to have your book with you in case you fancy a quick read, your paperback may end up a little dog-eared and damaged. Bagabook to the rescue!!

Bagabooks slip around the cover of your book and protect it from the elements. They come with a built in bookmark and a handy pocket for a travel card or train ticket – perfect for all you commuters out there. There is even a pen holder as your Bagabook can also house a notepad or diary. You can even fit an e-reader or 7 inch tablet inside – and that’s why I’m bringing my Bagabook to Brit Mums Live this weekend with my new Kurio inside. As you all know I’m going to be showing off the pre-release 7 inch Kurio to anyone who wants a look, but I am also going to be running a competition to giveaway a brand new Bagabook of your choice.

Bagabooks come in two designs – Classic or Executive. The Classics look rather like a stylish handbag, with a strap to pop it over your shoulder or carry it.

The Executive has a briefcase look to it with a much shorter and neater handle, and has a discreet zipped pocket to pop in your mobile or mp3 player or some loose change.
Take a look at the full range on the Bagabook website – there are a host of colours and designs to choose from.

Fancy winning one of your own?

Track me down on Friday or Saturday at Brit Mums Live and give me one of your business cards.  You’ll be entered into a Prize Draw and on Sunday I’ll pick one of the cards out of a hat – or the discreet hidden pocket of the Bagabook – and that person will win a Bagabook of their choice from the website. What’s more is that ALL entrants will be emailed with a discount code to use in the online store.