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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: Grand Hotel Eastbourne Spa Day If you are looking for a last minute gift idea for someone in your family, or perhaps you're thinking of spoiling yourself with a trip to the spa in the New Year to help recover from the Christmas madness,...

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Making Christmas Easier With Asda We all want to create a magical Christmas this year for our families, and especially our children. Hopefully you have all got your presents bought - and no doubt some of your efficient enough to have them...

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Moving To A Big Boy Bed If you follow me on Twitter (@SussexMummy) you'll know that last Friday we took the sides of Little Man's cot bed. We were a little nervous about doing this in case he woke up at 2am and came running down...

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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.

Family Fun At Drusillas Park, East Sussex

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Days Out, Information, Product Reviews | Posted on 16-04-2012

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If you’re looking to take your little ones on a fun day out you can’t go wrong with a trip to Drusillas Park. Located just of the A27 approximately 12 miles East of Brighton the park provides fantastic family entertainment for children of all ages.

Your trip to Drusilla’s will begin inside – one of the few indoor areas for the animals – with tanks of snakes and tortoises. As you round the final corner small monkey enclosures will appear with the animals scurrying above your head in clear tubes, which makes seeing them so much more interesting. Soon you are outside and meeting farm animals – pigs, cows, goats, and ponies are all here. You are welcome to touch any of the animals you wish and there are plenty of alcohol gel hand-washing areas dotted around for afterwards. As your journey continues you can meet meerkats – my personal highlight – before more huge enclosures featuring macaws, mongooses and porcupines. Every enclosure is perfectly sized to allow great viewing opportunities, as well as plenty of space for the animals to move around in.

Penguins (which have regular feeding shows), flamingos and some very chatty otters were very popular with my Little Man before we went into ‘Lemur Land’. Here you can walk through an enclosure with lemurs walking and playing freely around you. You can’t touch or pet them – apparently they tend to bite you, despite their cute appearance – but its amazing being this close to what I think were Little Man’s favourite animals from the day.

The ‘Amazon Adventure’ is a huge indoor play area for children of all ages – they have a smaller soft play area for the little ones – that includes slides, aerial walkways,  a cannon canyon, and a huge snake slide. Outside you’ll find ‘Go Wild’ which has a vast array of climbing and sliding activities for children aged 7 to 12, and the smaller ‘Go Bananas’ for those 6 and under.

When you get hungry food is easy to come by. There are a selection of indoor and outdoor dining options ranging from meals to snacks. There is an abundance of picnic seating as well if you’ve brought your own food, with plenty high chairs available both inside and out. I can highly recommend the freshly made doughnuts which are available from the ‘Station Buffet’. Shops are also dotted about selling a great range of souvenirs with very reasonable prices.

Once you’re little ones have seen all the animals, had something to eat, and run around the play areas they are bound to want to take a little rest on the train. Thomas, Annie and Clarabel run services 362 days a year from Tidmouth Hault and run a gently paced route around the park. Along the way you’ll see several more familiar characters from Thomas The Tank Engine as well as getting a closer look as you travel through the Llama Paddock. On your way towards the exit you’ll also find time for a trip through the ‘Eden’s Eye’ maze and (during seasonal opening) a splash about in the ‘Explorers Lagoon’.

We took Little Man to Drusilla’s for his 1st birthday back in October, and were lucky enough to go again a couple of weeks ago. Both times were brilliant fun and Little Man was suitably exhausted at the end to ensure a nice long snooze on the journey home. Unfortunately during our last outing there Little Man was a little bit poorly – the beginning of our gastro-infection adventure – but the staff were fantastic when called upon and made the experience much nicer than it could have been!!

I HUGELY recommend Drusilla’s Park for an amazing, educational and fun day out. It really does appeal to children of all ages.

Ticket details, Opening Times and more can be found on the Drusilla’s website.

Product Review: ‘My World’ Puzzles from Gibsons

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Product Reviews | Posted on 06-03-2012

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I am a firm believer that learning should be fun, especially for young children. You don’t want to do anything to make them think learning is boring or tiresome as it could put them off for years to come. At almost 18 months my Little Man is learning all the time, every day. I’m helping and encouraging this learning with a new range of puzzles from Gibsons.

 

 

 

The ‘My World’ range of puzzles from Gibsons has been designed in association with child psychologist Dr Amanda Gummer. The puzzles are linked to the UK National Curriculum to help give your child that early insight into education and school. More importantly the puzzles are brightly coloured, tactile and perfect for little hands. The chunky pieces in the puzzles are made from recycled board and are nice and sturdy – they have been chewed by Little Man but have come to no harm.

We love the ‘My Farm Animals’ set. There are eight puzzles in the box with either 2 or 3 pieces so perfect first jigsaws. The 2 piece puzzles comprise an animals head and bottom, and the 3 piece include a speech bubble with an appropriate noise. What I particularly like is that the pieces are all interchangeable and fit to each other so you could have say a cows head and a dogs bottom saying “Baa!”. This is a lovely feature which allows your child to make up their own funny characters, and its all helping their motor skills when it comes to putting the pieces together. I also like the design of the box. On the lid is a perforated slit which you can easily push out. This allows your child to post the pieces back into the box when they’ve finished playing with them. Little Man found this feature almost more exciting than the jigsaws themselves! This set is aimed at 18months and upwards, so is getting a lot of use in our house at the moment.

Gibsons Range of puzzles for children can be found at all good toy outlets, and online at Amazon and John Lewis.

You can view their entire range online at that website, where you will also be able to find details of your nearest stockist.

Celebrate World Book Day With Autumn Publishing’s New Range

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Book Review, Competition, Product Reviews | Posted on 01-03-2012

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For an almost 17 month old Little Boy my son owns an alarming number of books. We are keen for books to pay a big part in his life, as well as the inevitable geeky toys and gadgetry. I’m always on the look out for good quality board books for him, or books for the future which I store in a box in the office. This World Book Day I would like to point you all in the direction of Autumn Publishing, and their new range of books where you’ll find something for children from 12months to 8years.

12 months +
Ideal first books are buggy books – board books which come with an elasticated strap and loop which can be fixed to a pram, a car seat or even the side of a cot. In association with Fisher Price, Autumn Publishing have two great buggy books which are beautifully sized for little hands. “My 123 Buggy Book” explores the world of animals with each of the pages showing a different number of animals. “My Animal Friends Book” contains more brightly coloured animal pictures from the usual birds and elephants to the less commonly used iguana. I love these buggy books because it means we can continue my Little Man’s love of books on the go!

If you’re looking for something a bit bigger for your little one to read whilst at home there is also a range of bigger Fisher Price books available, all containing the same characters from the board books. Four titles are available in this mini-series. “Roar” – which explores the noises animals make, “Where Do You Live?” – which as the title suggests looks at animals natural habitats, “4 Fluffy Ducks” – which looks at counting again, and “My First Colours” – which encourages counting and colour recognition. Unlike normal books this series has a shaped top which I think makes them more appealing and holdable to young children. As soon as this range left the box my Little Man was sat on the floor flipping through the pages – a bookworm in the making!

3 years +
For slightly older children Fisher Price returns once more with an amazing series of educational books that look great fun. The idea is to make learning fun, and I personally can’t wait until my Little Man is old enough to use these. A series of six titles are available and each contains progress charts, stickers and fun brightly coloured activities to encourage your child to learn, but also to enjoy themselves at the same time. Each book contains the same 5 characters – Maggie, Eddie, Sarah-Lynn, Sonya-Lee and Michael as they join your child in the world of learning. Titles include “Colours & Shapes”, “Numbers”, “Letters”, “Phonics”,  ”Writing” and “Tell The Time”. These titles would make a great gift to set your little one on the road to learning.

For fun activities the “Fluffy Friends” range provides colouring in, puzzles and each book comes with over 100 stickers. Each book in the series follows the same pattern and design centred around a different animal – Kittens, Bunnies, Puppies and Ponies.

I have a complete set of these books to give away to one lucky reader!! For a chance to win all you need to do is tweet the following:

“I Want To #WinFluffyFriends With @AutPublishing and @SussexMummy”

The competition will close at 8pm on Friday March 9th and the lucky winner will be notified as soon as possible after that.

6 years +
These two books are perfect for your little one who has just started school.

“My First Atlas” helps them explore the countries of the world by telling them fascinating facts and providing brightly coloured detailed pictures. You learn about animals, industry, history, geography, weather and population in a fun and easy to read form. Each page also has a small globe at the top to show you where in world that country is!

“My First Encyclopaedia” introduces them to the the world around them. There are sections on history, the human body, space, the weather and so much more. The information is laid out in a clean and interesting manner to ensure your child’s attention is kept, and it will give them a great head start on topics they’ll cover in much greater detail later on.

Both titles include a special eight page section on the UK so they can learn more about the country in which they live, its history, its residents and its geography.

All the books featured above are available direct from the Autumn Publishing website and range in price from £2.99 to £6.99

Have a great World Book Day!!

Product Review: Pillow Pets

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Product Reviews | Posted on 23-02-2012

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This spring sees the launch of the Original Pillow Pets in the UK, thanks to Mookie Toys.

At first glance this is just a large cuddly toy, but underneath is a small Velcro strap. If you undo that and secure the protective flap over, you are left with a large soft pillow. This makes an ideal pillow for on long journeys, or to use at nap time, or if you’re my Little Man something to lie on whilst you watch television.

 

I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek at these at Toy Fair 2012 a few weeks ago. They are so soft and cuddly it was hard to put down, and since Little Man’s Monkey friend arrived in our house he’s had to fight Mummy and Daddy for cuddles with it!

There are a lot of similar style products on the market but this is the original, and without a doubt the best. Available in a range of styles – Panda, Penguin, Unicorn, Puppy, Monkey, Ladybird, Pig and Bee – you can pick up a Pillow Pet from Amazon, Toys R Us and other major retailers. They will soon be available direct from the Pillow Pets website.