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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.

Looking Ahead To Little Man’s Third Birthday

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Home & Lifestyle | Posted on 31-07-2013

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I read somewhere recently that September and October are the busiest months for birthdays. Well we don’t have many in those two months – just a couple I think – but we do have one which is rather special. Little Man will be THREE in October. Seems mind blowing to me at the moment to be honest. I’ve been thinking about his birthday for a while and wondering what to do and how to celebrate. We seem pretty set on going to Peppa Pig World for the day with both sets of grandparents but there will invariably be some form of party too. The theme is as yet undecided – he loves Buzz Lightyear, but he is obsessed with Peppa Pig, though at the moment his favourite film is Despicable Me, and then there’s Angry Birds… – but baking will no doubt be a key factor. We’re going to need a birthday cake – hopefully one that won’t give me a nervous breakdown during decorating – and a selection of party food for guests.

Last year we just had an afternoon tea party with cakes and fruit, but this year I’m thinking some savoury food may be appreciated. Needless to say the oven will be on for the duration of the day, but I’m hoping to keep things as simple as possible. We’re probably hosting the party at Nana and Grandad’s house (my parents) as their house is much bigger than ours and much handier for Peppa Pig World. In an ideal world I think we’d have some kind of huge range cooker in place with a giant capacity so we just pop everything in together. Sadly my parents don’t quite have room for one! Thankfully they do have plenty space for Little Man to run around, though no doubt he’ll want to eat his party food in the comfort of his beloved play house which they have in their garden for him.

I am really looking forward to Little Man’s third birthday. He’ll be old enough to really appreciate it, even more than last year. I’m sure he’ll have a great time, and no doubt be spoilt rotten by family and friends. Now I just need to decide on a cake…