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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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Last minute Christmas Ideas for the boys!

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Christmas, Christmas Gift Guide | Posted on 17-12-2014

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This time next week it’ll be over. All the shopping will have been done and you’ll either be buried in wrapping paper tackling the pile of presents, or smugly sitting back relaxing, pleased you spread your wrapping out throughout the month. If you’re me, you’ll be smugly pleased you got your Mum to do most of the wrapping for you one morning because your children were poorly and you couldn’t find the time to do it yourself. So with one week to go, do you have all your presents yet? Or are you still struggling to find that one extra present for a little boy in your life? May be you’re after a main present for a slightly bigger boy? Do not fear. Read on, and hopefully I can help point you in the right direction.

Lets start with a smallest boy in your life. Now I know I recently provided you with a great array of First Christmas items for your babies, but this one is very much aimed at baby boys. My 1st Years is a great store providing truly beautiful products for babies, and I am a big fan of this cute Car Comforter and Knitted Teddy set. The car – which you can have personalised if you wish – features those loops of ribbon that all babies seem to be instantly drawn to for fiddling and chewing. The teddy is a lovely blue shade and has a traditional knitted appearance which will no doubt provide a long term friend for your little boy.

Regular readers of my blog will know that I’m a bit of a wooden toys fan, so it’ll come as no surprise that I’m going to direct you to my ultimate favourite wooden toys company. I am so proud to represent Bigjigs as one of their Play Patrol team and for the little boys in your life you won’t find many toys as fabulous as their Heritage Fire Station set. The station comes with four fire fighters, a sleeping area for when they aren’t out at work, a tower for training, and a nice big area to park their fire engine. The included engine features a fire hose that you can unroll and an extendible ladder for tackling even the biggest fires. This is a gorgeous set with lots of great features, and plenty detail. This is sure to keep your little boys busy on Christmas morning, and beyond.

Gioteck RC 3

If you have gaming fans in your house – and despite only being four years old Little Dude is rather partial to some Xbox action himself – then giving them somewhere comfortable to sit whilst they enjoy the latest platform or racing game, as well as somewhere to store the seemingly endless array of controllers, boxes, cables and other associated paraphernalia might just be the thing you’re looking for. The RC-3 Gaming Chair is the ultimate in gaming accessory, providing not only enviable comfort and compact storage, but is compatible with a wide range of consoles and game play devices. Now whilst I think this may be a bit on the extreme side for Little Man – he’s more of a Just Dance fan anyway – I think the older boys – and their dads – will find this a much appreciated addition to their gaming zones.

#PlayPatrol : Mission Four : Lacing Animals

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Bigjigs Play Patrol | Posted on 17-11-2014

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For this times Play Patrol mission Bigjigs sent Little Man their Lacing Animals set. The set comes with four boards featuring an animal, and then four shapes which match one of the animals bodies. The point of the set is to match them up and fasten them together using the included laces. The boards, shapes and laces all fit neatly in the included storage box – this is a big plus for me as it limits items getting lost. Lacing Animals is a great way to develop fine motor skills, dexterity and improving concentration. It is aimed at children aged 3 years and up.

Little Man wasn’t particularly thrilled with this toy. He’s never used anything like it before so it took some persuasion to play with it as opposed to his other toys. Matching up the animals was easy enough, though I think he enjoyed intentionally mismatching them as well. For me this just shows a great form of imagination play! Lacing was tricky, but its not something he’s ever really experienced before so it was all about developing a new skill. It kept him entertained for a short time, though he did grow frustrated after a little while. I think this will help develop his dexterity and should also help with future shoe lace tying. It strikes me as a great Montessori method toy, which is something we’re trying to bring into the home more and more since he transferred to a Montessori preschool at the start of September. Definitely a toy to add to our Montessori box.


I thought this way a really cute toy. Nice and bright, with good detailing and a handy storage box. I’m sure with practice Little Man will get into it more, but for now he just likes seeing what crazy looking creatures he can create! The boards aren’t as thick as I’d like and the shapes are similarly thin. Its not one of the better made toys we’ve seen from Bigjigs, but I imagine the thickness is due to the laces. Overall, a good fun toy to aid concentration and dexterity.

#PlayPatrol : Mission Two : Carpenters Belt and Bruno Soft Plush Toy

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Bigjigs Play Patrol | Posted on 04-09-2014

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Our back garden has been looking pretty chaotic for most of this year. The storms over last Christmas and New Year brought down five of our fence panels – we only have eight in total! – and the national shortage that followed meant it took many months for them to be replaced. For a long time they were laid flat in the garden, covering plants and grass alike. When they eventually got replaced in May of this year – don’t get me started on how long it took… – it wont come as much surprise to find that most plants were dead and the grass was pretty none existent. Shortly after the fence repairs were completed we had a conservatory built on the back of the house – oh and I gave birth in the midst of this too! – so the garden looks hugely different to this time last year. A redesign was undertaken by Nana and Pops and its all looking amazing to be honest. Living plants, a stumpery in one corner, and a nice new decked area. The grass is going to take a little longer to replace, but its getting there.

When Pops came round a couple of weekends ago to fit my decking who better to help him than Little Man, armed with his new Carpenters Belt from Bigjigs. His latest Play Patrol mission needed him to test out the toy with the help of another person – Pops rose to the challenge admirably. Lots of sawing and hammering and measuring and screwing went on in our garden as the decking was built and Little Man had all the right tools to lend a hand.
 The Carpenters Belt comes with a spanner, a hammer, a ruler, a screwdriver, some nuts and bolts, a saw and the all important belt to carry everything around in. All the tools are made from wood as you’d expect, and some of them feature brightly coloured details and branding on them. The belt has a clip to fasten it around your child’s waist, and is adjustable.

Little Man was swift to get to work, being a particular fan of the hammer that got a lot of use banging on the decking. There was also a lot of measuring with the ruler and some valiant attempts to saw the wood with his new saw. He wasn’t overly keen on wearing the belt – “Too heavy!” – but instead chose to lie it on the decking whilst he got down to business.

Overall I’m fairly impressed with this toy. I like the range of tools involved – your little one shouldn’t struggle to find the right one for whatever job they’re doing – and they are all well built. I am a little disappointed that the spanner and hammer feature no colour or detailing at all though – the rest of the set do so I can’t think why these would be left out. The tools are well sized for small hands – this set is designed for children aged 2 years and up – and the adjustable feature on the belt itself is very useful.
Whilst Little Man was bashing around outside Little Dude was getting to know his new friend Bruno in another guise. The Bruno Soft Plush Toy is the perfect size for cuddling, especially when its time for a nap.
Good doggy.

This Bruno features a rattle inside, and has the same textured body and colourings that Bruno Comforter did. In fact the first thing Little Man said was “Two Brunos?!”. Little Dude is big admirer of Bruno and enjoys stroking and grabbing the textured body. The rattling makes it fun for him to interact with too. If I was to change it just a little I’d make the arms slightly longer, but otherwise another great Bruno buddy.

Lots of fun with our latest mission – we look forward to #PlayPatrol Mission 3!


#PlayPatrol Finalist: Wooden Safari Animal Building Blocks

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Bigjigs Play Patrol, Product Reviews | Posted on 29-04-2014

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Well here we are again. So SO proud to find ourselves a finalist in this years search for members of Bigjigs’ epic Play Patrol. We’ve had such fun for the last year “putting fun to the test” and playing with some great toys. We applied again this year as we thought it would be great to get Little Dude involved in the testing process when he makes his appearance next month – eeeek – as well as keeping Little Man entertained. I’d just like to thank George at Bigjigs for this opportunity and wish my fellow finalists the best of luck – those that are picked are going to have SO MUCH fun.

So on with our task – to review the Wooden Safari Animal Building Blocks. Aimed at children from age 1 upwards the set consists of 32 wooden blocks of varying shapes and sizes which have been painted with animal and jungle themed designs, and a drawstring bag to store them in. As you’d expect the pieces are brightly coloured, ideally sized for little hands to hold, and come with a wealth of options for stacking and arranging. So here’s a look at what you get:

wooden safari blocks sussexmummyAs you can see above its a really cute set and a great first building blocks set for little ones. Now Little Man is three and a half so technically not the target market for this set, but that didn’t stop him playing with it. He’s always been a big fan of blocks and stacking things, much preferring stacking blocks to building with Lego for example. I put all the blocks in the included bag and he enjoyed pulling them out one by one and starting to build a rather tall tower with them. He recognised the animal faces on some of the blocks and this once again has been another big help with his speech development. The set has provided lots of conversation with us talking about the colours, the different animals, referring to the trees and bushes and flowers, as well as pointing out one of his favourite things – the moon. There were lots of “Oh dears” when the tower inevitably fell over, as well as lots of “Fall down”.  His bedroom has lots of jungle animal wall stickers up so this set matches that beautifully, though I think we’ll be putting this away for Little Dude to play with when he’s a bit older.

As I mentioned this would make a great introduction to building set for any little one. If gives you the opportunity to make recognisable animals, build safari scenes, or just make a really tall – thought not wholly stable – tower. There’s also chance to talk about the different shapes and colours on the blocks, as well as the animals and safari life itself. The quality is just what you’d expect from Bigjigs and the paint used is totally safe for when your little one inevitably starts chewing on one of the pieces. As ever I just love the fact the toy is bright and colourful and visually impressive.

Keep your eyes open on Bigjigs’ Twitter (@bigjigstoys) and Facebook pages for the announcement of the successful Play Patrol members, and to get involved with some exciting opportunities that the team have lined up for this year.

#PlayPatrol: Green Toys Tool Set

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Bigjigs Play Patrol | Posted on 07-04-2014

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Well we’ve finally come to our last mission as Play Patrol Agents with Bigjigs after a brilliant year “putting fun to the test” and it seems rather fitting that George sent Little Man one last Green Toy for him to test out. We’ve become huge fans of Green Toys this past year and Little Man loves the fact that he can take them into the bath with him – where you’ll find the majority of them at the moment – or out into the garden without fear of ruining them. Several Green Toys have gone through our dishwasher this last few months and they’ve come out as good as new. Its probably my favourite feature of these eco friendly toys.

This final mission was to review the Green Toys Tool Set.
All the items you’d expect from a toy tool set, but with that little bit extra you’d expect from Green Toys. Six tools are included in the set – which comes in blue or pink – and each is a highly realistic replica of the kind of tools children would find mummy or daddy using around the home. Each tool has the name of the tool on the handle thus helping your child to learn them by name as well as appearance. The toolbox also says “Toolbox” on the side. In addition to the tools you’ll find a small selection of nuts, bolts and nails which can be fastened into the holes on the toolbox using the appropriate tool.

Solid, well built, eco friendly and educational, this toolset is a lot of fun. Its been used in the bath – a plumber in the making apparently – as well as being taken around the garden to do running repairs on the shed and playhouse, used to saw, hammer and screw sand, and it was even left outside in the rain by accident. After weeks of use and a couple of trips through the dishwasher its still looking as good as new. Little Man does have a wooden tool set as well which has similar component parts to this one, but for me its a bit more fragile so tends to stay indoors. This one can be used outside and in, as well as in sand, mud and bath water. I like that Little Man can do his “work” with this set wherever he wants, and I love that the names of the parts are written on them so he can learn the words. Whilst he is already a frequent user of the word “Screwdriver” – due to Doctor Who I’m afraid, not an obsession with DIY – this toy is a good way to widen his vocabulary to other tools. At almost 3 and a half his vocabulary isn’t quite what the experts think it should be so anything that helps improve that is an immediate winner with me.

We have had a wonderful time working with the team at Bigjigs and look forward to seeing what the next group of agents come up with. If you’re interested in becoming a Play Patrol Agent do fill out the application form here and send it to George by 11.59pm on April 14th.

#Play Patrol: Wooden Construction Set

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Bigjigs Play Patrol, Product Reviews | Posted on 13-02-2014

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Little Man has never really gotten into Lego. He’s had Duplo but he’d much rather stack blocks than stick them together. We have a supply of Lego in the loft ready for when he’s a bit bigger and hopefully he’ll warm to the idea soon. He can merrily sit piling wooden blocks on top of each other, building walls or towers, and then invariably knocking them over. Usually with an Angry Bird. He also likes to help Daddy when he’s doing DIY. Getting hold of one of Daddy’s screwdrivers or hammers and “helping” fix a fence panel or build flat pack nursery furniture. He’s been using his Drill Set from Learning Resources for ages and still loves it, but when I paid a visit to Toy Fair last month and had a chat with the lovely George at Bigjigs he suggested this construction set would be an ideal Play Patrol mission.

Bigjigs Play Patrol Sussex Mummy

This Wooden Construction Set comes in a handy bucket – perfect for tidying up time – and contains 50 pieces of wood and bolts and a wooden screwdriver. The wooden pieces are varying shapes and sizes – some are just lengths of varying size, others are curved, some are large pieces, plus there’s blocks to add dimension to your build, and a wealth of nuts and bolts. There’s even some wheels included. The kits comes with no instructions at all, its totally designed to give your child a free reign to build whatever their imagination comes up with. On one hand I love this. I want Little Man to use his imagination, to build wild and wonderful things. On the other hand, its a bit of a pain when your son desperately wants you to build the helicopter that is on the front of the bucket and baby brain makes it neigh on impossible! Thankfully Daddy came home from work and created it in no time – the benefits of being married to an engineer!

The construction set is very solid and robust, and stands up to use, building, demolition and rebuilding with ease. I love the chunky nuts and bolts, and the wooden pieces are clearly built to last. The colours are bright – as you’d expect from Bigjigs – and it is aesthetically a great toy to look at. Since the helicopter was built on day one its not been taken apart. The leftover pieces have been played with, but Little Man has spent a lot of time flying his helicopter around the house with lots of enthusiasm and wooshing noises.

I continue to be hugely impressed with the quality and variety of Bigjigs toys, especially after visiting their stand at Toy Fair. Once again I can only recommend this toy for any budding engineers or for children like mine who don’t do Lego but do like tools. A great choice George.

Play Patrol: Flatbed with Red Racing Car

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Bigjigs Play Patrol, Product Reviews | Posted on 09-10-2013

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Another Play Patrol task, and I’m pleased to find another Green Toys product – thanks Bigjigs. This time Little Man got to test out the Flatbed with Red Racing Car – an ideal toy to play with whilst Daddy watches the Formula 1! By now you’ll all no doubt know why I love Green Toys, so I won’t repeat myself. You can find my reviews of their Rocket and Recycling Truck to see more.

The Flatbed with Red Racing Car comprises of a big blue truck, with a red racing car that sits on its flatbed. Pretty simple really. The flatbed tilts so you can get the racing car on and off “properly” or you can do as Little Man prefers and just put it on and off.

As we’ve come to expect from Green Toys its brightly coloured, sturdy and toddler proof. Now Little Man’s Daddy is something of a Formula 1 fan – despite the fact he tends to doze off mid-race every time its on – and so this set is just the thing for Little Man to play with whilst its on. It also led me to thinking about the Play Patrol Mission we’d been set, and this seemed the most appropriate tagline for this particular photo.

Another great quality toy from Green Toys, and another successful Play Patrol mission. Little Man is very much into his cars and enjoys pushing this around the lounge, both individually and with the racing car on board the truck. These toys are always the perfect size for little toddler hands, but are also sturdy enough that I know they’ll grow with him and he’ll still be enjoying them in years to come.

Play Patrol: Green Toys Rocket

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Bigjigs Play Patrol, Information, Product Reviews | Posted on 09-09-2013

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My love of BigJigs toys is pretty clear, so when we became Play Patrol Agents I was really hopeful that we’d get to review products from my favourite brand. I ADORE Green Toys. Not only are they eco-friendly and made from recycled plastic, but they are hard wearing, long lasting and most randomly, dishwasher safe! Luckily for us the lovely George at BigJigs sent us this Rocket from Green Toys to review as our most recent mission.

Brightly coloured toys are what I’ve come to expect from BigJigs and this one is no different. Bright red and bright blue colouring makes this rocket stand out a mile. The rocket itself is made up of four component parts – the main rocket, a detachable top capsule, and two intrepid astronauts. The door on the main rocket and a second door on the top capsule both open allowing access for the astronauts – the capsule doorway is a bit of a tight squeeze! Within the capsule you’ll find extra detailing with buttons and computers on the door, whilst the main rocket has steps on the inside of the door to allow astronaut access.

Little Man is a bit of a typical boy, and loves spaceships and rockets. He adores Buzz Lightyear and Toy Story, so this rocket from Green Toys was the ideal choice for him. He runs around the garden with it making whooshing sounds, and sits getting the astronauts in and out of each section. He takes off the capsule and launches that about and takes his astronauts on missions to all kinds of places. For him, this product is firm favourite.

For me, its another brilliant quality product from Green Toys. Yes, the astronauts are a bit plain and simple in their design and they don’t “do” anything, but with a child’s imagination they are off on their adventures. The method of separating the capsule from the rocket is simple – Little Man can do it more often than not – and the bright colours make it easy to spot. I love that if Little Man gets it messy I can pop it into the dishwasher making it super easy to clean, and I love how toddler friendly it is, both in design and size.

Part of our challenge for this review was to take a video of Little Man using the rocket. Below are FOUR videos of Little Man playing with the rockets under the silent – mostly – instruction of Daddy. That thing he is looking at most of the time behind the camera? Daddy waving his arms around and “directing” him. I love the final video where Daddy is showing another fun use for the rocket. We hope you enjoy them.

A firm two thumbs up from Play Patrol Agent Little Man for this one, and from his Mummy too!


Play Patrol: Build Up Train

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Bigjigs Play Patrol, Product Reviews | Posted on 18-06-2013

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When your little one learns to walk it is often with the aid of a push along toy. Once they are walking on their own its good to get them a pull along to trundle around after themselves. I know we had a couple for Little Man during his early toddling days. If you are looking for pull along toy inspiration you can’t go far wrong with the Build Up Train from BigJigs. What’s more, is that its actually TWO toys in one.

The Build Up Train is a lovely pull along toy for children aged 1 year plus. There are three “carriages” which can be separated too, and a nice long cord to pull them along.  Each “carriage” holds a selection of wooden blocks and shapes as well as a few friendly looking passengers. The beauty of this toy is that these blocks and passengers can be taken off and rearranged as your child wishes. Each “carriage” has three wooden poles on it for the pieces to slide on to. The combinations and patterns are endless, and its a great toy for honing those all important fine motor skills, as well as imagination play. Once everyone is loaded safely on board the train can be pulled around till it reaches its destination.

I think this a really lovely toy for children aged 1 to 2 years old. Its brightly coloured and has nice solid chunky pieces to play with. Little Man however was a bit underwhelmed. He pulled the string a bit, poked around with a few pieces, and then wandered off and hasn’t really looked at it since. But Little Man is two years and eight months old so I think in all fairness this toy is a bit young for him anyway. I love the multi-use you get from it, as both a pull along and a stacking toy. I can see young train fans being thrilled with it, and I’m certain Little Man would have loved it a year or so ago. Not a complete loss though. We’ve packed it back up and its currently stored in the loft for any future members of the family that may appear in the next few years.

A great first foray in to pull along toys for any new walkers. Thank you BigJigs.

Play Patrol: Chunky Alphabet Puzzle

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Bigjigs Play Patrol, Product Reviews | Posted on 23-05-2013

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I am a big fan of toys which are educational, especially when your child doesn’t realise they are learning. Learning through play is something I am keen for Little Man to do, so the arrival of our first Play Patrol toy brought an immediate smile to my face.
 The Chunky Alphabet Puzzle is an ideal educational toy for Little Man. As the name suggests you have 26 chunky letters on a board. Each one is the perfect size for a toddler to pick up and is brightly coloured, instantly making it appeal.  You can remove and replace the letters individually, or as Little Man prefers to do, tip them all out across the floor. The cut out sections of the board beneath each letter are coloured the same as the individual letter to help little ones by recognising colour matching as well as shape. There is also a lower case version of the letter in the corner of each cut out.

The learning opportunities of this toy are excellent. I hope to use this to teach Little Man about letters, colours, simple spellings, shapes, phonics and I believe it will also help encourage his talking. He’s already a big fan of it, picking the letter “M” out and giving it to me and saying “Mamma”. He also recognises the “A” as being the first letter of his name. Though he can’t say his name yet he does hold the letter “A” and then point to himself.

Obviously I really like this toy. Its a good solid wooden toy with many years of play in it. Its well built and sturdy – essential for Little Man and his new found love of throwing. I like the bright colours and the use of both upper and lower case letters. It looks beautiful sat on the shelf in Little Man’s room, or more often than not out on the floor. Whilst the pieces do go everywhere – I dropped most of them myself getting it out the toy box to photograph – you always know which you’re missing, and because they are so bright finding them is usually easy enough. I know this is meant to be a visual toy, one that you can display as well as play with, but I do feel the need to put it in something with a lid to try and protect it and stop us losing any letters.

Overall another wooden toy success from BigJigs Toys – I can’t wait to see what comes through our door next.