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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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Feeding The Family Whilst Camping

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Camping, Holiday, Product Reviews | Posted on 18-11-2013

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You’ll no doubt remember that we went camping a few months ago in Cumbria, staying at the fantastic The Quiet Site near Ullswater. We were well prepared for the trip with air beds and sleeping bags and a well packed itinerary for our five day trip. The main worry I had though was eating. Little Man would happily sleep anywhere and no doubt he’d be that tired after our jam packed days there was no need to worry about him sleeping, and as long as he slept, we’d sleep. Spending five days together in one room would be fine – we’d be spending very little time there outside of bed time to be honest. But I did worry about eating. Little Man rarely stops eating, or so it seems, and Daddy gets a little “tetchy” if he doesn’t eat regularly. We had plans to eat out, but there were going to be a few evening meals on site and I did worry about how we’d cater those and what on earth we’d eat, and how. Three indispensable products meant that my worries were soon unfounded.

Coleman Family Cook Set
Individual mess tins weren’t going to cut it for our family camping trip. I wanted to make sure what I was cooking was Little Man friendly, so I wanted to be able to cook things that we’d usually have at home, albeit on a smaller and simpler scale. I needed good sized saucepans, and I needed them to be space saving. The Family Cook Set  we were sent to review from Coleman was ideal. A 5.7l saucepan, a 2.4l saucepan and a 10cm diameter frying pan was more than sufficient for our needs. They were sturdy, hard wearing, and took up very little room. They each nested into one another as there is just one handle which transferred with ease from pan to pan. The capacities were great – the large pan was perfect for cooking pasta, and the smaller one warmed sauces meaning we had a meal within about 15 minutes. One regret I do have is not getting some eggs and bacon in for a cooked breakfast – the frying pan would neatly fit enough for Daddy and I to have bacon and eggs whilst Little Man stole bits no doubt. Next time definitely.

Camping Az Camping Chef Vario
So our cooking equipment was sorted – with the addition of a few utensils from home – but what were we going to cook ON? A gas stove was essential, and more importantly we needed one with two burners. I didn’t like our chances of cooking meals in just one pot, especially if I was doing pasta with sauce for example, and juggling pots on one small burner would no doubt lead to chaos and potential accidents. Thankfully for us Camping Az came to our rescue with their Camping Chef Vario – a neat compact twin burner gas stove with added bonus of a grill. Three independent gas controls and a single ignition switch, wind protection sides and removable legs make this stove a key part of our camping kit. We set this up quickly and easily on our Pod decking, and it was in use straight away. We cooked a few meals on this, and it was used every morning to heat the kettle for Mummy’s cup of tea. It was simple to use, it was reliable and it was safe. What made it even better was that it folded up neatly into a briefcase style case which made it simple to transport and to carry around the site. An essential cooking stove for any family camping trip, and one I’ll look forward to using again and again.

Look What We Found Ready Meals
So we had our pots and pans and we had our stove. Now what were we going to eat? I wanted quick and easy meals, I didn’t want to be doing much once we got back to our Pod after a busy day in Cumbria. There is however only so much pasta and sauce you can eat. I started looking around for other options. Good quality food that was nutritious and would also be eaten by an intermittently fussy 2 year old. It was a tough ask to be fair, and I didn’t want something dull like beans on toast either, though Little Man would have gobbled it up no question. I wasn’t overly confident when I began my search on the internet, but very soon I came across what looked to be the answer. Look What We Found sell ready meals, meals you can heat up at home on your cooker, or that you can take camping as they don’t need to be stored in the fridge. We were lucky to be sent an amazing selection of meals to try out, some we ate before we went, some we gave to Nana and Pops to try, and some we took with us on our trip. Each pouch contains a meal that serves one person. On the first night we cooked these meals we had the Cumbrian Lamb Hot Pot – well we were in Cumbria after all – and the Yorkshire Pork Sausage Casserole. The meals all contain regionally sourced ingredients, so the lamb genuinely was from Cumbria. Now I’m not going to lie. When I emptied each pouch into a pan I was a little nervous. It didn’t look wholly appetising, and I started to mentally work out how we’d get to the nearest McDonalds if Little Man refused to eat it. A few minutes gentle heating on the stove however and things rapidly improved. We split the two meals between the three of us and with the addition of a nice loaf of bread and butter it was a delicious meal. So simple, so tasty, and so easy to transport. Another night we had Tees Valley Beef Meatballs served with some pasta we got in the site shop. Again, it was delicious. Nana and Pops tried out the a couple of curries for us and a soup and they thoroughly enjoyed them all. We’ll definitely look to them again next time we go camping, or just as meals to have in the house. The full range is available online, and you can also find them in Waitrose, Booths and Ocado.

I can safely say that nobody went hungry on our trip to Cumbria and the meals that we cooked far surpassed my ideas of what we’d be having when we set about organising our holiday. It is possible to eat nutritious foods as a family when camping, even with a toddler in tow. I look forward to more family camping trips – though they may be on hold for a little while yet – knowing we have some great products to use again and again.

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.

Travel: The Quiet Site, Cumbria

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Camping, Holiday, Information, Product Reviews | Posted on 18-09-2013

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Camping isn’t something we’ve really done as a family. We did a short break in a Yurt earlier this year, but that had luxuries like real beds and a fully working kitchen nearby. Proper camping with air beds, stoves and trips to the toilet block isn’t something we’ve ever considered doing since Little Man’s arrival. Now he’s almost 3 we decided to brave it – sort of – with a trip to Cumbria and a four night stay at the award winning The Quiet Site, just near Ullswater. Situated a short drive from junction 40 of the M6, The Quiet Site is a family run campsite in a truly beautiful part of the country. Set beneath the hills and overlooking Lake Ullswater the site accommodates caravans, motor homes, and tents, and has two cottages available to rent as well as several camping pods. Daniel and the team at The Quiet Site provided us with four nights accommodation in one of their rather unique camping pods, and this is how we got on.

This is what greeted us at the end of our rather long journey north, and after we’d wiggled our way down a narrow country lane and checked in at the site shop. Looks a bit like a shed doesn’t it? Well to all intents and purposes, that’s kind of what it is. Built by a company based within the Lake District itself, the pods are insulated wooden buildings with a carpeted floor space of approximately seven square meters. They claim to be ideally sized for two adults, or even two adults and two children. I must say I thought they looked ample for the three of us, but after we’d unloaded all are stuff, I became a tad concerned! After a couple of days we concluded that the pod would be fine if only we were a little tidier/more organised/less chaotic. There is a roller blind which closes over the doors, a curtain over the small window at the back so its properly dark when you close them and a small shelf with a lamp and small heater just inside the door a long with 1 spare plug socket. Other than that, you’re on your own.

We were very happy in ours, despite our own chaos levels. Our double air bed fit neatly alongside Little Man’s air bed, but to be honest I wouldn’t have like to fit anyone else in there with us. The pods were clean upon arrival, and perfectly warm enough at night. Daddy even complained one night that he was “too hot”. The decking area was nice and big and would have been ideal for sitting on in the evenings if we hadn’t been so tired from our busy days, and it hadn’t rained quite so much. There was a spot by each pod for your barbecue if you had one, but we put our gas stove beneath the roof overhang when we cooked or made cups of tea. The pods are basic, but are effectively wooden tents so you can’t expect mod cons. We would perhaps have liked a large pod and a smaller decking area, but to be honest I think we just need to be more organised in future with our stuff. The site claims to have free wifi in “some areas” and it was intermittent in our pod. I got the best wifi signal in the toilet block to be honest!

Site facilities are very impressive. There is a small shop with a good selection of goods from food, drinks, toiletries and little bits you might have forgotten. For anything major though you’ll need a trip to the nearest town. Prices are reasonable enough and the staff are all very friendly and helpful. Outside the shop is a covered area with a few fridges, freezers and microwaves. We stored our milk in those during the day and overnight, ensuring we could have cereal and cups of tea as and when we wanted. There is a large toilet block split into Ladies and Gents. The ladies room had several toilet cubicles – two of which had basins in them as well – a selection of separate basins, and a row of shower cubicles. These are free to use – rare in campsites – and have an endless supply of hot water. There’s a small partition which you can stash your clothes and towels behind to prevent them getting wet, and when you’re done there are a couple of small free to use hairdryers as well. The ultimate highlights of the toilet block though are the two family bathrooms. Two rooms with toilets, basins and BATHS in – perfect for campers with small children. We used the rooms a few times and Little Man enjoyed nice warm baths before bed. Again all these rooms were clean and well maintained, and the constant hot water was a joy.

The site also boasts plenty of sinks for washing your dishes, multiple water points, a children’s play area with wooden play house, recycling facilities and a designated dog walking field. The most popular part of the site though, is The Quiet Bar. A barn which was converted to a bar in the 1950’s it has to be one of the best campsite bars around. Traditionally decorated and with some very comfy seats made from old barrels its a great place to chill out at the end of a busy day walking and seeing the sites of Cumbria. Not only that but there is a room upstairs with comfy seats and a large soft play area for the children and another play house. Now the bar only opens at 7pm and so this indoor play area is only accessible from then on which could be a bit of a problem if your children tend to be in bed by then. For us it was great, as it meant Little Man could have a last chance to burn of any energy whilst we enjoyed a drink before heading back to our pod. The bar is really reasonably priced, and for the older children and adults there’s an attached games and TV room.

If you are planning a camping holiday to Cumbria I cannot recommend The Quiet Site highly enough. If you’re not planning a trip to Cumbria, do so now. And if all that isn’t enough to convince you, how’s about this for a view.

Camping Kit: Yankee Candle Travel Tins

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Camping, Holiday, Product Reviews | Posted on 10-07-2013

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If you are off camping this summer, whether it be in a traditional tent or caravan, or if you are trying out “Glamping” with a few more home comforts there are certain bits of kit you need to take with you. Over the next few weeks I’ll be doing running through items in MY essential camping kit list, in preparation for my visit and review of the award winning The Quiet Site in Cumbria this September. I am so looking forward to trying out one of their Camping Pods, which for me will be a nice step up from sleeping under canvas, but still be more like camping then we experienced in our Yurt Trip earlier in the year.

Yankee Candle Travel Tin Clean Cotton

One of the things that puts me off camping is that after a few days of living and sleeping in a confined space is that inevitably, its going to start smelling. Potentially wet and muddy clothing, the presence of a toddler, and the fact that there are multiple humans cooped up in a very small space makes this all too likely. Not the most pleasant thing to deal with when you are already lacking the modern comforts of home. Now you are hardly going to start spraying air freshener inside a confined tent, and we all know the dangers of naked flames so a traditional candle is out, but what about a Yankee Candle Travel Tin?

Compact and easy to use these tins are the perfect camping companion. They are designed to neutralise odours and freshen up any small space, so are great for camping trips, as well as use in the car or bathroom. You simply slide them open to release the fragrance, and if you don’t close them up again they last for an amazing four weeks! Yankee Candle sent me a couple of these to test out, and whilst one has been safely stored away to take to The Quiet Site later in the year, the other has been being used in the car. I don’t like constant overwhelming fragrance anywhere, but sometimes the car needs a bit of a refresh. The scent is light and airy and I literally have the tin open for a few minutes before closing it again. Its great being able to quickly and easily rid the car of any unwelcome smells.

Travel Tins are available direct from the Yankee Candle website and most Yankee Candle retailers.

Travel: What’s Your Favourite City?

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Holiday, Information, Travel | Posted on 03-07-2013

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Do you have a favourite city? I do. I’ve recently come back from two nights in Dublin, my favourite city. The break was short, but much needed. Two nights on my own in the city I love . For the first time in a long time I was just me, not someones wife, or mother, and not a blogger or writer. I wasn’t working – well, I did have my phone on me so did do a bit of emailing but I wasn’t really working – I could just do what I wanted, when I wanted. And it got me thinking. What is it about this city that pulls me in and makes me want to return so many times?

I first went to Dublin in 1998. It was the first year of my A-levels and a friend of mine and I went on a day trip. We took the ferry from Liverpool with his mum and sister – a very early start if I recall. The pretense of the trip was a bit of a booze run, but I wanted to see the city. Back then the attraction for me was a boyband I liked at the time – I’m sure I’m not alone in being a Boyzone fan – not that I was expecting to bump into any of them. I’d seen the city on one of their videos and, being something of a fan of the Irish accent, wanted to go and see it for myself. I didn’t realise then that it would be the first of many trips I’ve taken over there in the last 15 years. The fact that my friend and I returned ourselves for a day trip a few months later should perhaps have been a hint though.

My first big trip to Dublin came at the end of 1999. The very end in fact. I went with a good friend from Norway to Dublin for New Year. The turn of the Millennium seemed as good a reason as any to go to Dublin, and this time I’d be staying for a few days as opposed to a few hours. The appeal had changed a little from that first trip. The music was still prominent – the new Irish boyband of Westlife were in fact responsible for my becoming friends with my co-traveller – but we were also off to see Temple Bar and all it had to offer. Lots of alcohol if I recall. My main advice is to never be in a city changing its national currency if you’re likely to be hungover. The change to the Euro occurred on January 1st 2000, and it was baffling.

From the year 2000 I have returned numerous times, at least once a year up until recently. I’ve been for New Years again, St Patricks Day, on trips with my Mum, my Norwegian friend, and in more recent times my husband and even his family. I have so many incredible memories that all stem from that city. Shopping till we literally couldn’t lift our suitcases with my crazy Norwegian friend, a friend I also accompanied to Sligo for the day in early 2002 when I nearly got hit by a car. The car was being driven by one of Westlife, so not all bad. Watching a St Patricks Day parade before a night out which largely included green drinks and some very dubious walking. My last trip to Dublin with her occurred in 2008, just a few months after I was married. We went to Croke Park for a huge Westlife concert and that was an unforgettable night in itself. I returned again on my first solo trip just a few weeks later to do some genealogical research for my new in laws, or at least that was the reason I gave at the time.

River Liffey Dublin City Ireland Hapenny Bridge

My last visit to Dublin for many years was in 2009. My husband was turning 30 and his younger twin brothers were turning 21. Clearly a cause for celebration and their parents had the genius idea of going to Dublin to do it. Needless to say the younger members of the party spent a lot of time in and around Temple Bar for the few days we were there, and I was a bit like Tourist Information having been quite as many times as I had.

From 1998 to 2009 I went to Dublin at least once a year every year. A cycle I planned to continue, but pregnancy and Little Man’s arrival soon put a stop to that. Returning this last week was a pleasure. I spent two full days in the city and for the first time didn’t step one foot into Temple Bar. I frequented Grafton Street and Henry Street – shops galore – and spent a delightful two hours sat in the sunshine of St Stephens Green reading a book. I ate leisurely breakfasts in cafes – Bewley’s Grafton Street is a MUST. I rode the hop-on hop-off bus around the city, taking in the sights, hiding from the rain, and remembering great times. The bus is something I have done every time I’ve visited. Its such fun and so convenient. The numerous buskers – of varying skills – that litter the main shopping streets are always a hit, whether they are singing, playing music, or attempting to look like statues. The highlight of my latest trip was an evening out with a good friend. The last time I saw him was during my second visit of 2008 so it had been far too long. You wont be surprised to learn he has a musical connection to my story, having been in an Irish boyband himself several years ago.

Dublin Grafton Street Performers Buskers Statues

My reasons for going to Dublin have changed since that first trip 15 years ago, but my love of the city hasn’t. I wish I could put my finger on what it is about the city that makes me return year upon year. I just recall feeling at home there even back then on my first visit, and that feeling was as strong this week as ever before. Will I be going back? You better believe it. Trips to Dublin will be something I always do, and I hope to take Little Man with me soon. Yes, I may well venture out of the city on my next trip, but I suspect Dublin will always be at the heart of it.

What’s YOUR favourite city?

Travel: Content & Calm Tray Kit

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Days Out, Holiday | Posted on 28-05-2013

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Are you planning a trip away this summer with the children? May be a long car journey is involved or maybe you’ll be jetting off somewhere in a plane. How are you going to keep your children entertained? Whenever I go out in the car with Little Man alone he sits happily in the back, looking out the window, dancing in his seat to the radio and chattering away to himself. Put anyone in the front passenger seat and he seems to automatically start demanding their attention. Especially if its Daddy. There is nothing I find more distracting when I’m driving, especially if I’m going a long way, than the person in the seat next to me spinning around every few minutes and things being passed back and forth in an attempt to keep Little Man amused.

We recently went on holiday to Pembrokeshire with my parents. I live in West Sussex, so Pembrokeshire is a VERY long drive. We had an overnight stay in Cardiff, but with stops on the way we were going to be looking at four hours to Cardiff, and three hours from there to where we were staying. I was not looking forward to seven hours of a toddler complaining in the back and Daddy endlessly passing him things to do, so I went in search of a solution. I wanted Little Man to have a selection of things to hand, from books to crayons, some small toys and a few snacks. I didn’t want half the contents of his bedroom balanced around him, but I wanted a manageable amount of items within reach that he could play with easily and without causing too much havoc. Luckily for me, I discovered this.

This handy little “suitcase” is actually a Content & Calm TrayKit. As you can see it has a handle which Little Man could use to carry it around – not that he ever carries anything of his own around apart from Teddy and food – and it also comes with straps so it can be worn like a rucksack. Sadly Little Man won’t do this either, having only ever worn one rucksack for longer than three minutes. To be honest these are the least exciting features, as when you open the “suitcase” you have a great travel companion for your little ones.

Now of course they come empty, but this is what we did to ours. In the big pocket at the back we put a colouring book and a copy of Zoe & Beans: How many pets? for Little Man to look at on the journey. He really enjoys pointing at all the animals in this book, and he especially likes the fact that it features a tortoise as we recently got one as a pet too. In one flap pocket we put a few crayons to use with the colouring book – and hoped he wouldn’t colour the Zoe & Beans book instead. In the other flap pocket we put a couple of packets of fruit snacks. We also popped two of his Hawkins Bazaar Wooden Robots to play with. These are ideal toys for in the car as they can’t break and there’ll be no bits bouncing around the back seat mid journey. Whilst we had a back up stash of things for him to play with when he got bored of this – he’s two and has an attention span of about ten minutes unless its Toy Story or Finding Nemo – these were the items we were happiest for him to play with unsupervised.

The bag is designed to fasten to the back of a car seat, and when its opened it creates a play tray for your little one to use like a desk. Because Little Man’s car seat is quite large, and he’s also a giant, we couldn’t attach the TrayKit as its designed as Little Man’s legs were in the way. Instead we used the rucksack straps to fasten it to the headrest and it was pretty secure. The tray balanced neatly on his knee and he could reach everything he wanted unaided. It would probably work correctly for Little Man on a plane where his seat would be lower. He loved rummaging in each pocket to see what we’d put in there, and within ten minutes everything was out but confined to the tray, and he was eating his way through his snack pile. One of his favourite features was the small mirror you can see just above the wooden robots in the photo above. That was at the perfect height and angle for him to pull faces at himself and it kept him amused for ages.

The TrayKit is brilliant. No, it didn’t keep his amusement for the entire journey, but I wasn’t expecting it to. I love how it holds a good quantity of items and I think it will get a lot of use for many years to come. It did precisely what I wanted it to, and in turn saved Daddy from spending his whole journey turning awkwardly in his chair. Next time we go out and use it I’ll make sure to put different things in there so its always a new experience for Little Man. There are plenty more long car journeys planned for this year, not least a trip to Cumbria in September, where this will get used a lot.

The TrayKit is available in a range of colours and you can also get additional accessories to match. I think I’ll be getting Little Man a couple of Travel Bugs before our next trip.

How About Holidaying In Barbados?

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Competition, Fashion, Holiday | Posted on 21-05-2013

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With the weather we’re currently experiencing – where DID summer go? – a bit of sunshine would be nice wouldn’t it? How do you fancy a 7 night half board break at the 4* Bougainvillea Beach Resort in Barbados? Sounds good doesn’t it. A bit of relaxation in this beachfront resort sounds like my idea of heaven right now. Well the team at Littlewoods is offering just that. A family of four – 2 adults and 2 children under 12 – can jet off to Barbados and enjoy all this island and resort has to offer. The resort itself has so much to do from water sports and spa treatments, to a great kids club so you can get a bit of me time whilst they play.

Littlewoods has just launched Myleene Klass’ first swimwear range which you’ll find in the Littlewoods Online Holiday Shop. Here you’ll find a range of bikinis, tankinis and suits that will be perfect for that Barbados trip. As well as Myleene’s beautiful range you can also pick up all the clothes, shoes, accessories, skin care and travel products for all the family that you’ll need, whether you end up in sunny Barbados or enjoy a holiday at home instead.

So if you fancy winning the trip to Barbados head on over to the Littlewoods Facebook page where you’ll find all the details. Entry is simple: just “Like” the page and then design your own swimwear, using the tools on the page. There’s already a gallery full of them if you need inspiration, or you could just check out what’s available at Littlewoods. Not only could you win the holiday of a lifetime, but you could see your design featured in Littlewoods next summer. Good luck!

Travel: Cuties And Pals Luggage

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Holiday, Information, Product Reviews, Summer Holiday Essentials | Posted on 15-04-2013

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After a lovely burst of sun and warm weather this weekend summer is definitely on our minds, and we’re looking forward to a week away in May with my parents. We’re off to West Wales and we’re starting to think about what to take and how we’re going to fit it all in the car. The first thing we’ve been thinking about is luggage. We’re going to try not to take too much with us, but Little Man invariably needs all the clothes that fit him just in case. This year he’ll be using this luggage set from Cuties and Pals.

This is Peko The Penguin. Peko is one of the original members of the Cuties and Pals suitcase range. On the left you have a two wheel suitcase with an extendable handle so you, or your little one, can easily wheel it along after yourself. The suitcase has a 26.5 litre capacity making it plenty big enough for all your little ones things, and inside you’ll find one side has elasticated straps to hold things down, whilst the other has a large zip up section. This will be perfect for keeping clean and dirty items separate for the journey home again. The case is made from an ABS / Polycarbonated mix which gives them a hard glossy shell to protect your things but also to look pretty stylish too. On the right you have a small rucksack.  This is made from the same hard shell, but has a soft back so its comfortable for your little one to wear. It also has a grab handle for quick picking up, or for gentle steering from parents! Inside there are a selection of pockets and pouches to keep bits and pieces in.

Little Man was fascinated by Peko when this set came to our door. I’d barely got them out of the box when he was waving and saying “Hi” to them both, and proceeded to give them each a cuddle. We’ve tried to get him to wear numerous rucksacks before but he’s always resisted or taken it off within moments. He actually requested that Peko be put on his back and spent ages wandering about the house wearing it, as if he were giving it a guided tour.

I love the bags. They are compact in size yet have a great capacity, and the hard shell means there’s no danger of anything inside getting damaged. The suitcase is easy to wheel around, so easy in fact that Little Man has taken that too on several laps of the house. Mostly I love the design. There are a range of Cuties and Pals available – Dogs, Chicks, Ladybirds, Dinosaurs to name but a few –  but I think Peko is one of the cutest. The bags are just the right shape for a penguin, and despite the design being fairly simple its obvious what it is. I like how bold it looks too.

Of course if you can’t choose which little friend to get for your child you could always pre-order a London Sticker Bus. Due out later this year the bus has four wheels and is a more traditional square shaped case. It comes with stickers of all the characters making this a case which can be completely customised. The case also has an optional shoulder strap if you want to carry it, and it is hand luggage sized so is just the thing for a plane journey.

Make your way over to the Cuties and Pals website to find your little ones new friend and follow them on Twitter @CutiesAndPals for all the latest information.

Thinking About The Future

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Holiday, Information, Sponsored Posts | Posted on 05-04-2013

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Before Little Man made his appearance Daddy and I traveled quite a bit. We visited Paris during the first six months of our relationship, and when we’d been dating for a year Daddy took me to New York for a few days – clearly a sign he was a keeper. We were married on the 5th of April 2008 – today is our 5th Wedding Anniversary – and for our honeymoon we returned to New York again before spending five days on Maui. Most other holidays were much more local, often visiting Dublin but more often than not staying UK based. After Little Man our holidays were always UK based and probably will remain that way for the foreseeable future.

We have fond memories of New York and whenever we see it on the TV, either in the news or in a movie or whilst watching Friends we keep saying “We must go again and do…” but I don’t think either of us believes its going to happen anytime soon. I’d like to think we’ll manage it one day, probably when Little Man and any future siblings have left the nest and we’re heading for retirement. 

I like the idea of travelling when we’re retired. There’s a great big world out there and so many places we’d love to visit, and revisit. New York is a clear favourite, a city that holds a special place in our hearts, but I think a trip to New Zealand is something Daddy would love. America is a vast country and there are several cities and states I’d like to see. And of course a return to Hawaii would be amazing. Perhaps a different island next time. Plus anyone that knows me will know how much I love and adore Dublin, but fingers crossed a trip there will be in my near future.

Travelling is a fun and exciting event, but there are, as with all things, risks to consider. Travel insurance is a sensible option, especially if you are travelling a lengthy distance. Travelling in your later years brings an added dimension, which is why insurance is essential. Age UK offer a great service for older travelers, and are the ideal choice for those with existing medical problems. They cover medical expenses and personal belongings whether you’re sunning yourself in Cyprus or skiing in Switzerland. They also cover medical equipment against loss or theft, and that includes wheelchairs and walking frames.

So if your parents or grandparents are planning an exotic holiday this year, or even just staying in the UK, suggest they take a look at Age UK for their insurance. You can find all the details here.


Review: Meon Springs Yurt Village

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Holiday, Product Reviews | Posted on 26-03-2013

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You might be thinking about your summer holidays at the moment, especially if you’re currently under a few feet of snow. If you are wondering where to take the children this year why not think about staying in the UK and heading down to Hampshire to try camping with a difference. Now I’m not someone who likes camping – I need a real bed, some form of heating, the odd creature comfort. I remember camping several years ago with Hubby in Scotland and spending just two nights in the tent and the other three in hotels. But when I came across Meon Springs I wondered if perhaps this was the camping for me. A compromise between sleeping on the floor under canvas, and sleeping in a fancy hotel or self catered cottage.

Meon Springs is nestled in the midst of the South Downs and they offer a very unique holiday experience. At Meon Springs you sleep in a Yurt. A Mongolian Yurt to be precise. What makes a Yurt a great form of camping for me is that it comes with real beds inside, has a wooden burner, and has an electrical supply. Its still very basic, but its much fancier than a normal tent. We were very lucky to be invited to spend a few days at the site just outside Petersfield by Jamie who runs the “village”. It would be Little Man’s first camping experience, and I’m happy to report that it wont be his last.

We were staying in “Halnaker” one of five Yurts on site. The Yurt came with a proper lockable front door, a double bed, two single beds, a wood burner and small electric heater, a kettle, a safe and a couple of lights. There were also spare plugs for things like mobile phone chargers or a radio. Everything was ready for us when we arrived, the electric heater had obviously been on for a few hours and there was a good stock pile of wood, paper and matches sat in front of the wood burner. The wood burner was positioned in the centre of the Yurt and had a chimney going up through the skylight. We stayed during a very cold week – thankfully without any snow – and once that fire was up and burning the Yurt was very cosy.

On site there was also a large brick building which housed toilets, showers – always dispensing piping hot water – and the affectionately named “Yurtery”. This was the place to go if you wanted to cook something that couldn’t be made on the Yurts hot plate or barbecue. The Yurtery had a fridge for every Yurt, each with a freezer box, and two cookers. There was plenty of storage for any food you brought and enough plates, pots, pans, cutlery and utensils to go around several times. I think we counted 6 graters during one rummage through a cupboard! The Yurtery also has plenty of seats around two tables to eat your meals at, with a couple of high chairs in there should you need one. Travel cots can also be requested for your Yurt if needs be. At the other end of the Yurtery is a small lounge like area, with sofas and a coffee table and enough toys, games and books to keep any child happy for days. For Little Man it was like Christmas when he walked in for the first time and immediately tracked down a Buzz Lightyear Action Figure which he proceeded to carry around with him for the duration of our stay. Every breakfast, lunch and dinner was eaten in Buzz’s company, and I did begin to worry that he would never leave to go home without him.

Outside each Yurt you will find a water tap bringing fresh water from the sites own spring, as well as a storage box for wood from the nearby wood shed. A large decking area at the back of each Yurt holds a picnic table comfortably, and there are other tables dotted outside the Yurtery. You’ll also find a very large sandpit for the children to play in next to a logged seating area and large fire pit.

As I said we stayed for a few nights in early March when the weather was a tad unpredictable and generally chilly. We were the only people on site at that point so early in the season – they’d reopened for 2013 just a week before – so had the run of the place. I can happily say it was one of the best places we’d been on holiday for a long time. The facilities were basic but clean and Yurtery had a vast array of items so you could easily cook anything and have the right tools for the job. The toys were wide ranging and plentiful so even if the site was full there would be enough to keep a dozen children content. There was even WiFi for any urgent emails. The Yurt itself was brilliant. A roaring fire, thick duvets and plenty of spare blankets if needed ensured we were all warm and cosy. I imagine in summer it would be great to put the children to bed and then settle on the decking outside your Yurt with a glass of wine, as opposed to sitting in silence inside the Yurt as it was too cold outside to think about going anywhere else. Little Man slept remarkably well considering, going to sleep between 8.30 and 9 each night and not getting up until 7 despite the daylight streaming through the skylight above him. He thoroughly enjoyed his adventure in the Yurt, and I’m sure he’s as keen as we are to make a return trip. Wellington boots are a must pack if you go to Meon Springs, especially at this time of year, but a well placed “Welly Box” inside the Yurt keeps the place clean.

Meon Springs is a working farm and there are staff going about their work all the time. You can visit the cows being milked at 5pm any evening, and you can also have a go at fly fishing if you wish. We bumped into Jamie a couple of times during our visit and he was genuinely lovely. He provided information on things to do and places to go in the area, and was easily accessible if you had a problem at any point. You might be thinking that the Yurts look a little familiar, as though you’ve seen them before. If you have small children and are familiar with CBeebies, then you have probably seen them on Something Special. Justin Fletcher was a VERY popular visitor to the site a few years ago as I’m sure you can all imagine.

A stay at Meon Springs Yurt Village will provide you with a fun and unique holiday experience that will provide you and your children with memories for years to come. I look forward to returning myself during slightly warmer weather, and hopefully getting the opportunity to enjoy a quiet drink on the decking in the evening.

To find out more about Meon Springs, the facilities, to check availability and to book yourself a holiday, go to their website. You can also find them on Twitter @MeonSprings.