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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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#Review: A Day Out At Drusillas

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Days Out | Posted on 27-04-2016

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We are no strangers to Drusillas. We’ve been many times before, as featured on this blog in fact, but it’s been a couple of years since we went and decided it was high time Little Dude got his first visit under his belt. Needless to say we were thrilled at Drusillas impeccable timing at inviting us down to their East Sussex location to take a look around and see what was new.

The last time we went was a little over two years – when I was pregnant with Little Dude in fact – so we were well overdue a visit. It is a great place for a day out with the children. There’s plenty animals to see, lots of viewing areas which accommodate visitors of all ages and sizes, and the fun doesn’t stop when you’ve seen all them all. To be honest the animal areas haven’t changed at all. There’s a huge array of them and both children were fascinated. The monkeys remain amongst the favourites, and Little Man loved seeing the penguins after a term at school where he’d been learning all about Antarctica. Little Dude is cat obsessed, and any animal that isn’t a cat is apparently a “COW!” which he yells rather enthusiastically. There are apparently a lot of cows at Drusillas…

Drusillas-Penguins-SussexMummy

The play areas are brilliant. Both children went off into soft play with Daddy and were lost in there for ages. A bit of peace for me, but there was one very tired Daddy at the end. The outdoor area was briefly climbed over, but it was rather cold out despite the bright blue skies. There is a new ‘Get Wet Splash Pad’ area that is open now where there’s jets of water squirting around and your children can run around in their swimming stuff. Not keen on the idea of this when we visited, but I imagine in summer it will be fabulous. The Thomas The Tank Engine Train ride is a must do – both children were glad for the sit down, and Little Dude spent his entire journey waving from his seat, whether it be at animals, people or the occasional tree. I kid you not.

Last time we visited the Hello Kitty Secret Garden was under construction but now it’s been open for ages, so it was good to get a look in there. It consists of three rides – the Hopper Ride where you get propelled into the air and bounced back down, the Car Ride where you get to “drive” a cute cat car around along a railed track, and the Tea Cup Ride where you spin around to your hearts content in pink or blue cup. All three rides were a massive hit with my children. Despite his dramatic screams I can assure you that Little Man did enjoy all three turns on the Hopper, and it goes without saying that my cat obsessed Little Dude spent most of the time in a car going round and round the track.

DrusillasCollageSussexMummy

There are multiple quality merchandise stores selling an array of relevant, and not so relevant things to remember your visit. Little Dude came home with a Hello Kitty toy which he randomly yells “CAT!” at, and Little Man was most insistent that we got him a penguin. There may also have been plastic dinosaurs and swords bought, but they were less about the visit and more about my children’s current obsessions!

Drusillas is brilliant. We’ve been many times, and we will go many times again. There is so much to do whilst you’re there, lots to see, and the facilities are always up to standard. God bless the person that put Starbucks Coffee into the restaurant by Hello Kitty! Do make the trip – it is well worth it.

#Review: Table Table’s Spring Menu

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Days Out, Foodie, Information | Posted on 15-06-2015

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Last weekend we were invited down to Treacle Mine just outside Eastbourne, a Table Table restaurant, to review their new spring menu. Never one to turn down a free meal, we were happy to oblige and drove over for a family lunch. The restaurant itself is in a great location on the A27 near Polegate. Its at a services with a Premier Inn next door along with a petrol station and a McDonalds. There’s a good sized car park and the restaurant has tables both indoors and in their garden.

TableTable-TreacleMine-SussexMummy

We decided to jump straight in at the main courses so I ordered one of the new Gammon Chicken and Pea Pie’s. It came with green beans, mustard mash and gravy.

TableTable-GammonPie-SussexMummy

As you can see the food was beautifully presented on a long white plate. I was very excited when it arrived as it all looked and smelled delicious. The pie itself was nice, but I wasn’t blown away by it. It was good pub grub, but it wasn’t as flavoursome as I’d hoped and the jug of gravy was essential as it was a little dry. The mustard mash was incredibly smooth, but sadly lacking mustard as it didn’t taste of anything at all. It was all perfectly edible but a little disappointing.

Daddy ordered the Streaky Bacon and Cheese Topped Chicken Breast.

TableTable-BaconCheeseChicken-SussexMummy

Much less creativity with the presentation here, but to be honest I’m not really looking for decorative arrangements when I eat my lunch. The chicken breast came with chips – or the option of a jacket potato, peas and barbecue sauce. Daddy enjoyed his meal and thought it all tasted really nice. It was, once again, good quality pub food. Nothing out of the ordinary or particularly exciting, but thoroughly enjoyable.

For the boys we chose two meals from the children’s menu. I was very impressed with the children’s menu as they could practically build their own meal. They had a choice of mains, and then could choose two side dishes. Little Man went for the Penne Tomato Pasta – always a winner with him – and his sides were garlic bread and tortilla chips. He ate absolutely everything and kept telling me how lovely it was. Little Dude had the new Cod Cubes – effectively fish fingers but in cube form – with chips and vegetable sticks. There was no fish left by the end of the meal, and he’d made an impressive dent in the chips too. Vegetables are always a bit tricky with him but Daddy and I nibbled our way through his side and it was all lovely and fresh.

For dessert I had the new After Eight Sundae which was vanilla and chocolate ice cream mixed with pieces of After Eight mint, topped with cream and drizzled in After Eight mint sauce, with another whole After Eight stuck in the top for good measure. It was delicious! Effectively a mint chocolate chip ice cream sundae, but considerably more interesting. I’m never one to resist After Eights. Daddy had his favourite dessert of Banoffee Pie which he finished off in no time at all. There were fresh bananas sliced on the top which were really nice, and it meant we could try and slip a bit of fruit into the children! Little Man had the Mini Chocolate Challenge for his dessert. This was a pot of chocolate dipping sauce, some vanilla ice cream and a pile of marshmallows. In all honesty I think he was pretty full from his main so ate a couple of marshmallows and declared he’d had enough.

Good quality basic pub food – precisely what you’d expect from this style of chain restaurant. Nothing massively overwhelming, but good all the same. Definitely a good place to visit with children as their menu was well thought out. Would I go again? Possibly not to this one as its a bit far away. If we were ever visiting something nearby we might pop in though. If I ever see another Table Table restaurant, yes I’d probably give it a go as I’d be able to rely on decent food and menus we could all pick from.

Find YOUR nearest Table Table here.

Days Out: Drusillas Park, East Sussex

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Days Out, Information | Posted on 31-03-2014

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Daddy and I had been talking for a while about talking Little Man out for the day somewhere special before his brother arrives. We wanted to do a last day out as a family of three somewhere that he’d love whilst I still had the energy. We considered a few options, but our ultimate decision was always going to be Drusillas. We haven’t been for a couple of years and we knew that at three he would find it much more fascinating than he had on our first trip there for his first birthday. Daddy planned to take a day off work so we could go mid-week when the crowds would be less and we hoped for some good weather. By some generally creepy coincidence I received an email just a few days later from the Press Team at Drusillas asking if I’d be interested in coming down to review the place. Clearly a sign we’d picked the right day out!

We visited a couple of weeks ago, lucky enough to choose a day where the sun was glorious. As you can see there were lots of cheeky characters to see, not least my Little Man who had a whale of a time. He loved spotting all the animals and pointing them out to Daddy and I. Every enclosure at Drusillas has special viewing windows for small children, or little steps for them to use. It makes the day much easier for parents and keeps the children feeling independent. Every so often there’s a learning area for the children to use as well, where they can lift flaps or open boxes or press buttons to learn more about each animal. Now obviously Little Man is a little young to be reading this information, but he had a lot of fun looking at the pictures and doing his best impressions of each animal.

I think the monkeys were his favourite – plenty opportunities to do his monkey impression at Drusillas – but as you can see above the lorikeets were a big hit too. At Drusillas you can walk into the lorikeet enclosure and buy a small cup of nectar. Daddy held the cup out and within seconds he was acting as a perch for several birds. Little Man thought this was brilliant and enjoyed watching them have their “little drink” as well as settling on his Daddy. I loved the meerkats who are such great little characters, and the lemurs were very funny too. I’m fairly sure they were all enjoying topping up their tans in the sunshine of their enclosure.

As well as a wealth of animals to see and discover, Drusillas has a rather popular train ride courtesy of Thomas The Tank Engine and a huge play area. There’s also a number of food vendors and gift shops to visit on your way out. One thing to bear in mind though is the seasonal openings. Last time we visited it was Easter weekend and everything was open. We went mid week during term time this time around and there was only one sit down restaurant open, none of the small vendors were open, and Thomas was only running once an hour as opposed to his usual “as and when required” scheduling at peak times. This was a little disappointing I must admit, but thankfully we’d taken a picnic with us which we enjoyed in the gorgeous sunshine, and we managed to get Little Man an ice cream as a treat before he dragged Daddy all around the play area whilst I put my feet up for a while.

There’s a bit of building work going on at Drusillas at the moment whilst they create their newest attraction which is opening this summer. The “Hello Kitty Secret Garden Experience” is due to open mid May and will include rides, a Hello Kitty House, and plenty opportunities to meet the star herself. No doubt this will be hugely popular when it opens – we spotted several excited children trying to sneak a peek around the fences surrounding the work area trying to catch a glimpse of the famous cat.


Drusillas continues to be one of our favourite family days out, and one that we hope to visit again once Little Dude has arrived. Online is the best way to buy tickets as thanks to their “Online Price Squeezer” you can save money compared to on-the-gate prices. There’s also always lots going on with famous characters visiting throughout the year. A certain Peppa Pig is there next week in fact, just in time for Easter. Definitely a day out to remember.

We were provided with complimentary entry to the zoo for the purposes of this review, but all opinions and comments are my own.

Review: Charlie & Lola’s Best Bestest Play

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Days Out, Product Reviews | Posted on 20-12-2013

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Yesterday Little Man and I travelled to Bluewater, Kent to see the latest offering from Charlie & Lola live on stage. “Charlie & Lola’s Best Bestest Play” is an hour in length with no interval, and its split into what is effectively two “episodes”. I obviously don’t want to give anything away plot wise, but the two “episodes” follow the format you’d come to expect from the show. There are three stars – Charlie, Lola and Lola’s imaginary friend Soren Lorenson – and each are puppets. There are four puppeteers onstage making these three work, as well as act as stage hands moving the set around and the props.
I read reviews of this show and other Charlie & Lola stage shows of the same format before I went. I was curious as to what other people made of the show, and what they did and didn’t enjoy. The main complaint from people who had seen the shows was that they found the four puppeteers distracting. They are visable the whole time, there’s no attempt made to hide them, and for me this wasn’t a problem. They “acted” alongside the puppets, their faces showing the emotions that the characters were feeling, or reacting to something that was going on onstage. They provided a second source of entertainment and one that my Little Man loved. He was fascinated by the entire thing. He recognised the characters, he laughed along, he called out “Uh oh…” at relevant moments, and he clapped happily at the end. There are two moments in the show when the audience really gets involved with items landing on them. He adored these bits and giggled madly when things landed on his head and on Mummy’s. He was mesmerised for the entire show and when it did end he wanted more. At no point did I think the stage was too busy for him to understand what was going on, and the rest of the audience seemed content too. The show is running until January 5th at Glow, Bluewater before it embarks on a tour in the spring. If you can get to Bluewater to see it. Its a great little venue for children’s theatre, and there’s loads of free parking and plenty of places to eat afterwards. There’s also a Winter Wonderland on at the moment with a skating rink and in the run up to Christmas there’s a chance to meet Santa too. We had a lovely day at Bluewater, seeing the show, eating a great meal at Giraffe and then doing a bit of shopping afterwards. A wonderfully magical festive day out for me and my Little Man.

Competition: Charlie & Lola Best Bestest Play Tickets

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Christmas, Competition, Days Out | Posted on 03-12-2013

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This festive period sees everyone’s favourite siblings take over Glow at Bluewater with their Best Bestest Play. Charlie and Lola – stars of the hit BBC TV series and the gorgeous books by Lauren Child – will be brought to life through the magic of puppets, live action and music.

Will Charlie ever get Lola to sleep, even though she is not sleepy and will not go to bed? It wont be easy – the Tigers want their bedtime milk, the Dancing Dogs have borrowed Lola’s pyjamas and Lola thinks there is an ogre hiding in the wardrobe!

Charlie and Lola has been something of a hit in our household since Little Man first discovered the CBeebies channel. We’re a big fan of the lively animation and the cute little stories, though Daddy and I often wonder exactly where their parents are! Little Man and I will be heading to Glow in a couple of weeks to see this show – a review of which will follow – and we’re so excited to have a family ticket to give away to one of our readers. The Family Ticket allows up to four people into a performance of their choice – subject to availability – during the shows run from December 13th through to January 5th.

To win this great prize enter via the Rafflecopter below – and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: The World Of Beatrix Potter, Bowness-On-Windermere

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Days Out, Holiday, Product Reviews, Travel | Posted on 19-09-2013

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No trip to Cumbria would be complete without a visit to The World Of Beatrix Potter, a delightful attraction in Bowness-On-Windermere all about the counties most famous and much loved resident. We were given free entry to the exhibition, but when you read on you won’t be surprised to learn that we returned again during our stay in the area as Little Man loved it so much.

From the outside the venue looks small but it is so well laid out they fit a wealth of information and entertainment in there. Your journey begins with a short film, less than 5 minutes long, talking about Beatrix and the books she wrote. Familiar images appear on the screen and even Little Man was transfixed. Upon ending a door opens as if by magic and you enter the World of Beatrix Potter. Beautifully set out you walk down a path where along the way you meet many well known characters from the books. There are also touchscreens where you can learn more about each book – available in 9 languages – which Little Man did enjoy poking. He merrily walked through the world looking at characters, pointing out animals he recognised, and waving at most of them as he went by.
Peter Rabbit was of course the most prominent character throughout, but you’ll also find Pigling Bland, Jemima Puddleduck, Jeremy Fisher, my favourite Miss Tiggywinkle, and many many more. The whole attraction is beautifully created and a paradise for fans young and old.

Despite the size of the attraction they have even managed to fit in a garden outside, just like Mr McGregor’s. Plants, vegetables and flowers are set about in a lovely compact garden complete with the famous scarecrow made from Peter’s blue jacket and a commemorative statue featuring the famous rabbit and his friends. Keep your eyes open for Mr McGregor though – you never know when he might pop up and find you.

Wandering back inside you continue though the displays before you reach a larger room which tells you more about the life of Beatrix Potter, where she lived and how she fell in love with Cumbria. There are yet more great interactive areas, include a large touch screen table where you can colour in drawings of the characters, and a large wall screen which is controlled by a small touch screen nearby. This takes you on a virtual walk through the much loved parts of the Lake District where Beatrix’s books were set or where she got her inspiration from. You get to see her home there – Hill Top Farm (a National Trust site now which you can visit) – and the stunning surrounding areas. There is also another short film to enjoy as well as plenty details about her long life and the people who appeared in it.

A final walk past yet more models and displays brings you out in the gift shop. It is incredibly well stocked with books, DVDs, ornaments and toys featuring most of the characters you’ve just met. Admittedly its a little on the pricey side – Little Man’s new Peter Rabbit toy cost £14.99 which seemed a tad steep – but its not wholly unexpected. Entry into the attraction itself is great value for money – just £6.95 per adult and £3.65 for over 3’s – so there’s enough left for a little souvenir.

Once you’ve visited the attraction it is suggested you pop downstairs to the tea room. We didn’t do this on our first visit as we had so much to do, but on our return we started out trip with lunch in the tea rooms. It is family friendly of course, with a child’s lunch box available which is always a winner with Little Man. Its very well priced – my High Tea consisted of sandwiches, scone with jam and cream, two small cakes and a pot of tea for just under £8 – and everything we had was delicious and freshly made to order. A great treat.

The World of Beatrix Potter is a wonderful attraction for all ages which even Daddy was happy to do twice in three days. A well organised and well thought out site for fans young and old. Well worth a visit if you’re in the area.

What Can YOU Make From Pebbles…?

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Days Out, Foodie, Information, Product Reviews | Posted on 04-09-2013

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If you were in Brighton just before the Bank Holiday weekend you might just have spotted a rather unusual castle had been constructed on the seafront. Rather than being made from sand, this was made from pebbles. Not too strange I know; Brighton beach is full of pebbles. However THIS castle was made from Cadburys Pebbles – the new sugar coated chocolate snack. Not only are they delicious, but they are also a great shape for building things with, and if you have 90,000 you to can create a castle just like this one.

 Yes there are 90,000 Pebbles here, a long with a quarter of a tonne of fondant icing and twenty kilos of icing sugar. Upon completion it weighed a massive half a tonne and was an incredible eight feet wide. It took 400 hours to build and was in position for just one day before being moved up to Cadburys World for the rest of the Bank Holiday.

What would YOU make with Pebbles? I managed to stack a few, without the assistance of fondant and icing sugar, but if I had some I’d probably try and replicate a famous landmark or building. Maybe the rather topical Walkie-Talkie Skyscraper in London would be a good one to try?

I’d love to hear what you’d make it you had 90,000 Pebbles!

 

Review: Aliens Love Underpants Live

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Days Out, Product Reviews | Posted on 01-09-2013

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I don’t suppose there are many children’s bookshelves that don’t contain a copy of “Aliens Love Underpants” by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort. The popular picture book has been published in numerous languages around the world since its release and has now been made into a live show. Following a successful start at the Edinburgh Fringe is now embarking on a full scale tour of the country which will run right through until mid November. Little Man went along to our local venue, the Capitol Horsham, to see whether it was as good as the book.

Aliens Love Underpants book cover

The book itself is fairly short but the live show is 50 minutes long with no interval so it was clearly going to be more than just a straight copy. Four main cast members – Derek Elwood, Cheryl Felgate, Mark Collier and Harrison Spiers – take up a wealth of roles, from introducing the show, to a cast of teachers, students, parents, and, of course, aliens. The show takes you on a journey with the lead character Timmy whose underpants keep going missing when they are on the washing line. He finds the culprits and goes on a trip with them which is truly out of this world.

The show has singing and dancing, lights and music, and a good dose of audience participation. It was twice as long as the last show Little Man and I saw at this theatre last December so I was a little nervous that he’d get fidgety but he sat enthralled by the whole thing. He was pointing out aliens and spaceships, he was waving at the actors and laughing throughout. It was a brilliant production and one I heartily recommend taking your little ones too when the aliens land in your area. A full list of venues and dates can be found here.

Review: Postman Pat Village at Longleat

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Days Out, Information | Posted on 28-08-2013

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There’s a little over a week to go before the summer holidays end and the kids all troupe back to school. Plenty of time therefore for one last big day out, and where better than Longleat Safari Park. We took a trip there earlier in the holidays to check out the newly refurbished Postman Pat Village which is a great interactive adventure for fans of all ages.The entrance to the village is, rather aptly, a giant postbox. Don’t worry – there’s a more adult friendly entrance too! Upon entering there is a beautifully set out and decorated village scene. Stone buildings with brightly coloured doors and windows straight out of Greendale. Around each corner and round every bend you’ll find characters you know and homes you recognise from the show, including Ajay, Ted Reverend Timms, Pumpkin the Horse and Amy. Of course you’ll find Pat and Jess there too. Dotted around the village there are buttons to press to make the figures move and games to play to keep the little ones entertained. Little Man had great fun pressing all the buttons, lifting the flaps and taking a rest on the bench with Pat whilst he studied his map and decided where in the park to go next.

Longleat Safari Park is a brilliant day out for all the family. We loved the Postman Pat Village, the Jungle Express, Penguin Island and of course the amazing Safari. Little Man had fun in Animal Adventure too where he got to stroke both a rabbit and a snake. Very brave boy! There are plenty of places to eat and drink at Longleat whether you are after snacks or a big meal. We brought our own picnic which we eat in the car as the heavens opened suddenly! Thankfully we were enjoying the comfort of the Volvo V70 at that point so there was plenty room.

Book your tickets for Longleat online now at save 15% on entrance to the park.

A Family Trip To The Cinema

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Days Out, Product Reviews | Posted on 30-07-2013

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Last weekend we went to the cinema with Little Man for the first time. He’s watched movies at home before with Tangled, Monsters Inc, any Toy Story movie and currently Despicable Me being amongst his favourites. What he tend to do though when watching films at home is wander about, play with toys, and more often than not fast forward the dull bits and watch his favourite sections. In Toy Story for example he tends to focus on any bits with Buzz or Zurg in. Going to the cinema was going to be an entirely different proposition for him. Not only would he not being to skip bits, but he’d have to sit still and stay fairly quiet. We were also at the end of week 2 of potty training. It was going to be an experience, that’s for sure.

We arrived at the cinema in good time so that Little Man would have chance to get used to the place. We’d told him that we were going to see “Monsters University” which had the same characters in as “Monsters Inc”. We took his Mike and Sulley toys with us, as well as his new Munchkin Monsters Click Lock cup. We told him we’d be seeing a movie on a really big TV which he thought was very exciting indeed. After collecting our tickets and buying some all important snacks for the movie we went inside and settled into seats on the front row. We wanted to make sure we could have a speedy getaway in case of toilet trips or if it all became too much for him. You could collect a booster seat from the lobby for little ones to sit on but we’d taken our new BoostaPak from Trunki. This seemed an ideal opportunity to test out its uses outside of the car. It fit perfectly in the seat and stopped it from closing on Little Man as he merrily climbed aboard and settled into his special chair. Needless to say the sight of the “really big TV” got him even more excited, even though nothing was showing. Try as we might to take his photo in the seat it was impossible, but I did get this shot of his little friends.

mike wazowski james p sullivan munchkin cup monsters university trunki boostapak

He didn’t seem at all concerned when the lights dimmed and the TV came on, despite the volume and he happily watched the trailers and adverts whilst munching on his popcorn and drinking his Monster juice. When the film eventually started – I think 30 minutes of adverts before a children’s movie is insane – he instantly recognised Mike. “Monsters University” is a prequel to “Monsters Inc” and shows the early lives of Mike and Sulley and how they meet and come to work together. Its full of great comedy moments, and whilst the plot is hardly the work of genius this is a children’s film after all. I loved it. Little Man and Daddy did enjoy what bits they saw. Like I said, Little Man is currently potty training – and doing VERY well – so about 30 minutes after the actual movie had started let us know he needed to go. Daddy took him and they came back about ten minutes later. Apparently after weeing Little Man had spent five minutes running up and down the lobby. You wont be surprised to hear that ten minutes later he claimed to need to go again, and spent ten minutes running up and down the lobby. Upon his third trip to the toilet Daddy decided it’d be easier to just stay outside! “Monsters University” is a great family movie, but perhaps not one to watch if you’re potty training!

I am a huge fan of the Munchkin Monsters range too. We have the click lock cup which is perfect for dark cinemas as it doesn’t leak, as well as the toddler feeding set which comprises a bowl, sectioned plate and fork and spoon. We use the sectioned plate daily. Its great at lunch time to put Little Man’s sandwiches in one section, a pile of fruit in the other, and usually a small pile of toddler crisps or rice cakes in the third. We also use it at breakfast with brioche rolls, blueberries and grapes. The rubber rim on the base of both the plate and the bowl is ideal for toddlers as it stops it from sliding about – very important for enthusiastic eaters!

“Monsters University” is showing at cinemas nationwide now and you can find the Munchkin Monsters range in store now.

I was provided with a voucher for cinema tickets and the Munchkin Monsters range for the purposes of this review.