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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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A Trip To Lavant Stables…

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Days Out, Product Reviews | Posted on 23-11-2012

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We were recently invited down to Lavant House Stables, just north of Chichester in West Sussex, to take a look around and to let Little Man sit on a horse. Anyone that knows me and my son will know he is OBSESSED with horses. My parents have a stables behind their house and every time we visit he insists on taking Grandma down to look at the horses. Whilst he can’t say “horses” yet he can sign it phenomenally well, and also likes to add the “clip clop” sounds effects, just in case you’re unsure as to precisely what he’s after. So clearly we jumped at the chance to visit Lavant House and see how he’d react to being placed on a horse, as opposed to just looking and stroking/poking.

Needless to say he was fascinated upon arrival as a lesson was just about to begin so there were dozens of horses being checked before going out, as well as a couple of donkeys wandering about, and a few small ponies enjoying a morning snack. “Would you like to sit on a horse?”  I asked. A very enthusiastic ” ‘Es” came in reply and he was genuinely excited, until someone mentioned hats. Now clearly for safety purposes a riding hat must always be worn, but try explaining that to a 2 year old who won’t even wear a woolly hat when its cold. With some gentle persuasion – largely on Daddy’s part – and a few tears – mostly from Little Man – the hat was secured (which admittedly weighed a lot, so I could appreciate his displeasure) and he was placed onto Todd, a small pony. Little Man looked confused and a little nervous. Todd did a rather epic poo. I was trying really hard not to laugh, but to be fair the whole situation was getting a little comedic. I successfully managed to get one photo of my son not looking like he was about to jump off Todd / cry again / scream blue murder.

As you can see he IS trying to take off the riding hat, but I’ve generally learnt that if Daddy is in close proximity, he can cope with pretty much anything. And I apologise for not cropping out Todd’s poo…

The stables themselves were great. Lots of room for the horses who are all kept outside, which is their natural habitat. There are two areas for lessons – as you can see from the photo, a brave young boy completely ignored me as I took his photo several times! Its a very friendly and relaxing atmosphere, and in two or three years when he’s officially old enough to take lessons, we might consider it if the interest is still there.

Lessons at Lavant House begin from age 5 or 6 and can be one on one or in a group. The team down there are more than happy for you to go along and take a look around. There is also the option to purchase gift vouchers if you want to buy someone a horse riding lesson for Christmas. Full details of the services and lessons provided, gift vouchers, all fees and options can be found online at their website. You will also find them on Twitter @LavantHouse.

Christmas Decorations at John Lewis

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Christmas, Home & Lifestyle, Information | Posted on 12-11-2012

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With a little over 6 weeks to go until the big day a lot of you are probably thinking about how you’re going to decorate your home and your table this festive period. I love putting up the tree and decorating my house. We have a huge box of decorations that my husband and I have acquired during our relationship and I’m really bad at getting rid of them. I’m generally allowed to buy one new decoration each year – either something for the tree, or an ornament of some kind – but we both know that its never just one. We’ve had two Christmas’ now since Little Man arrived and I can see this years being the best yet. He is so much more aware – and much more likely to pull down the tree – so I’m really excited to get the lights up and see his face when the house is done.

I recently took a trip down to John Lewis At Home in Chichester where I met with the Visual Merchandising team. They showed me the decorations for the home and the table they have on offer this year, and gave me a few tips about making my house look extra special this Christmas.

I was a huge fan of the table centre pictured above with the candles. At the base – and running the length of the table – is in fact a Red Berry Wooden Garland which you’d traditionally hang on the mantelpiece if you have one. This looks great along the centre of the table and has proved hugely popular in store – this was the last one left in the building! Above that you find two red platforms – these are actually Red Holiday Cake Stands. I’ve never even considered using a cake stand for anything other than a cake, but I think this is a fabulous idea. It adds height to your table decoration without taking up much width. If you chose not to have the garland on the table – and to be honest I don’t think its a great idea if you have small children with grabbing hands – you could still fit serving dishes around the base and tuck them under the stands. The stands are decorated with small crackers, baubles, and candles all available now at John Lewis. You could quite easily swap the candles for a Hurricane Lamp filled with baubles or simply battery operated fairy lights which would sparkle perfectly.

When it comes to place settings we usually just put our usual table mats down or if we use a tablecloth just put plates straight onto that. One of my favourite things in the Christmas range at John Lewis is the Reversible Placemat in the bottom right photo. Red and white striped on one side the reverse is plain red apart from a pocket in the bottom corner. This is red and white striped too and is designed to fit your cutlery in. A really cute and simple way to lay the table. I am rather tempted to these and they might well be my “new decoration” for this year.

For decorating the rest of your home the major tip was to make it all along the same theme and colour scheme as your table decoration. The tree decorations on the left come from the Lapland range. This range is aimed at children and is fantastic. The decorations you normally find for children tend to be dodgy plastic breakable numbers or fragile wooden items which whilst beautiful won’t last 5 minutes in the hands of a toddler. The Lapland tree decorations are largely made from felt. Unbreakable, bright and colourful felt. The tree which was instore and completely decked out in gorgeous felt decorations looked stunning and also perfect for a home filled with children. According to the Visual Merchandising team it was also the most fun to decorate!

In our vast box of decorations we also have a few ornaments that only come out at Christmas. They are usually just dotted around the house, on sideboards and windowsills – generally anywhere the Little Man can’t reach. This year I think I’ll be investing in a few cake stands, as once again they have been used brilliantly by the team at John Lewis At Home in Chichester as focal points for decoration. A simple White Ceramic Santa Ornament, a candle and a tealight holder set on the red cake stand from earlier makes a great feature. Candles and lights are a gorgeous way to decorate your home and housing them safely on a cake stand is a great idea. Must buy more cake stands – just nobody tell Hubby!!

This year will be the first year we introduce and Advent Calendar to Little Man. We have a beautiful handmade one which my Mother-In-Law made for Hubby and myself which we will no be using for Little Man. If you aren’t as lucky as us you might want to check out the range in John Lewis this month. Gorgeous wooden houses with doors and windows which open, nativity scenes with drawers beneath, or one to hang on the wall featuring Rudolph and lots of pockets. There is a huge range of advent options available to suit all tastes and budgets.

Christmas is well and truly on its way and visible in stores all over the high street. I hope that this has given you some inspiration for making your home look magical and festive this year. Do visit your local John Lewis At Home store or Home Department of your nearest John Lewis for more inspiration. You can locate your nearest store here. And if you live in the Chichester area pop into the John Lewis At Home store on the Portfield Retail Park and see what Pennie, Laura and the team have been up to.


Journey Across Europe With Eurostar

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Holiday, Product Reviews | Posted on 11-06-2012

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For me holidaying in the UK seems like the easy option now we have a child, especially whilst he is very little. The idea of travelling abroad with him and being stuck on board a plane for a few hours, combined with the three hour check-in time at most airports is my idea of hell to be honest. Even if it wasn’t punctuated by endless queries of “Are We Nearly There Yet?”, even I must admit to getting bored on flights that are longer than about an hour, so I can only imagine how long it would take a toddler to go stir crazy and want to get out. We have no plans to take Little Man abroad before he’s 3 or 4 and then we only plan on a trip to Disneyland Paris, and for that we’ll be using Eurostar.
Last weekend I headed to Amsterdam for a blogging conference and for that journey I also travelled via Eurostar. For travel into Europe, whether for business or pleasure, it strikes me as an altogether more civilised way to travel. St Pancras International is easy accessible from across the UK – I had a lovely journey up from Sussex with Starline Taxis, based in Chichester – and when you arrive the process couldn’t be simpler. Check-in is a mere 30 minutes before departure as opposed to the hours you could spend at an airport, and from the check-in desk through security and passport control took a little over 10 minutes. By the time you’ve got to the departure lounge your train is about to board, with this happening 20 minutes before departure. Once you’ve found your carriage and seat, stored your luggage in racks at either end or above your head – an allowance which is greater than any airline – and settled into your seat which has more legroom that a plane, you’re about to depart. Travel through the English countryside is swift, with the speed increasing greatly once you hit Europe. The journey is comfortable and the onboard services great – you have the freedom to move about the carriages and head one of the two catering areas where you can grab a coffee or bite to eat, or make use of the toilets or baby changing facilities. Select carriages provide power points for plugging in your laptops or mobile phone, and racks of magazines can also be located for your entertainment, but for me, you don’t need them. The beauty of travelling via Eurostar as opposed to your chosen airline is the fact you can look out the window and see something. In the air your have a lovely view of clouds and bits of country as you take off and before landing. On Eurostar you can see the great British countryside of Kent as you head towards the coast and after a brief trip through the Channel Tunnel you get to see the sights of France, and for me eventually Belgium and Holland.
My Little Man has yet to experience train travel of any kind – he has seen trains close to when we meet Daddy at the station sometimes and he marvels at them, but as yet we haven’t put him on one. I think he’d find the Eurostar experience from this respect fascinating. Apart from the fact he’d be waving at all the other passengers, he’d no doubt be stood on his seat glued to the window watching the world flash by. He would be mesmerised, and probably reluctant to get off when we arrived at our destination.
If you are a business traveller Eurostar is also a great way to travel. The fold-down tables that are provided are ample to set your laptop or tablet on allowing you to continue working as you travel. As I mentioned earlier some seats come with power points – though you have to request a seat with one if you required. As I speed towards Europe my carriage is filled with a mix of passengers – some business, and some pleasure – and there are numerous people tapping away at their laptops as they go, using their seat as a mini office.
Travel to Amsterdam using Eurostar is only possible thanks to their partnership with Thalys – a high speed train network operating in Europe. Travel via these two train companies could not be simpler as you print tickets for your whole journey – not just the Eurostar leg – at home, or at St Pancras. Fares are also kept low thanks to this partnership, with standard class travel starting at just £99 return to the heart of Amsterdam. Thalys trains were a joy to travel on as every seat came with ample leg room, a generous sized fold down table, a power socket – which was very handy for the charging of mobile phones and laptops, and on-board wifi.
Travelling by Eurostar is also the simplest way to get to your city destination. Upon arrival in Amsterdam I find myself in the city centre – not at an airport with another taxi ride ahead of me, which will no doubt be pricey. I am in the middle of the city a short tram journey – or walk – away from my hotel. It really does take you to the heart of things, and the same is true if you’re using the Eurostar service to take you to Paris, Disneyland Paris or Brussels.   You arrive feeling refreshed and relaxed having travelled in great comfort, and ready to start your holiday or business trip.

John Lewis Opens First Store In Sussex

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Home & Lifestyle, Product Launch | Posted on 04-04-2012

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Retail giant John Lewis is opening its first ever store in Sussex on Thursday with a “John Lewis At Home” store on the Portfield Way Retail Park, just outside Chichester. I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview on Tuesday and take a tour around the new store with branch manager Claire.

Boasting 40,000 square feet of selling space over two floors this new store has a wide range of products you’d commonly find within their bigger shops. There is a large selection of home décor and furnishing, as well as an extensive kitchen and lighting section.

Downstairs you will find the Click & Collect Service which makes shopping even easier – you just order the item and collect it from store the next day, and the only selection of Olympic Merchandising outside of a London branch. Perfect if you want to grab yourself a piece of memorabilia for this summers event without having to fight your way into the capital.

Jubilee fever has also struck with a number of Union Jack emblazoned products throughout the store from cushions to deck chairs and food gifts – I can highly recommend the Emma Bridgewater Biscuit Barrel!

Upstairs you will find a comprehensive electrical and gadgetry department which includes the brand new iPad and a number of TV’s – ideal distraction for the men! You will also find a small but well stocked baby section to pick up a few nursery essentials for your little ones, including cots, toys and a bedding.

The familiar John Lewis cafe is also upstairs where they’ll be selling a range of drinks, snacks and light lunches, as well as children’s lunch boxes. A supply of high chairs is ready and waiting! Customer toilets can also be found nearby along with spacious baby changing facilities, and a feeding room – something which is rare even on the high street!

One of my favourite “trends” on offer in John Lewis At Home is the ‘Playnation’ range. Here is the foyer of the new store, decked out in the range.

Can you believe that colourful book display is actually wallpaper? I love it and definitely want some for our home office!!

The ‘Playnation’ range is beautifully bright and encompasses a huge selection of products from table ware to garden items, home decor to office organisation. The mix of wood and colour looks brilliant and I can imagine several pieces finding a place in my home soon. Here are a few of my personal favourites:

This Tiffin Box would be great on family picnics this summer with four handy compartments for your lunch time favourites.

Office storage needn’t be dull with this brightly coloured unit featuring six large deep drawers.

Every cook and baker needs a good set of measuring spoons and I love this set of four – colourful additions to any kitchen.

Summer trips to the beach or just sitting in the garden will be stylish and comfortable for your little ones in this traditional deck chair.

John Lewis At Home opens on Thursday April 5th and with the extended Easter weekend it’s sure to be a busy one – I suggest you start queuing now!!

Relax this Half Term at Nuffield Health Club, Chichester

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Information | Posted on 10-02-2012

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With half term starting early for some due to the overnight snow you might already be in need of a bit of pampering and some relaxation. This half term Nuffield Health Club in Chichester, West Sussex have some offers on for readers of this blog.
“Our Relaxation Spa offers a variety of treatments to soothe, refresh and energise you. Our professionally trained therapists offer a relaxed and welcoming setting with a wealth of experience under their belts. Our treatments range from facials, skin care solutions and massage body therapies. Males and female grooming is also available such as waxing, eyebrow/lash tints and pedicures. The Spa also specialises in a full range of Elemis Spa treatments and SiennaX spray tanning.”
Nuffield Health’s in house spa has the following on offer for you:
1-     50% off all elemis body wraps
2-    3 for the price of 2 on elemis aroma stone therapy (hot stones)
3-    Valentines offer1 is a one hour hot stone massage and a 30 minute lime and ginger full body scrub all for £50.00
4- Valentines offer2 is an advanced pedicure and advanced manicure bother 1hr 15mins as a package for 35.00
For further enquires, please contact Hannah at the club on: 01243 788678 or email: chichester.relaxation@nuffieldhealth.com. Please quote SussexMummy in all correspondence to ensure you receive one of the above offers!!


Want to make clothes? Make Clothkits!

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Information | Posted on 31-08-2011

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Have you ever thought about making clothes for your little one but been scared off because you think it'd be hard or take forever?  Think again.  Clothkits are the perfect starting point for anyone who wants to have a go, and they are nice and simple to do.

Kits are avaiable to make dresses and dungarees, jackets and tops, skirts and trousers.  You can even accessorise with hats and bags!  Your kits contains everything you need to make your project – apart from the sewing machine of course – and the pattern is so easy to cut.  You get a piece of material with the design drawn out on it, so all you need to do is cut out and sew.  No fiddly measuring and drawing – you buy in the size you want and its all drawn out for you.  It couldn't be any easier!  Here are a few of my favourite items:

Of course if you're still a little nervous, or if you've never sewn before you can always try one of their even easier kits.  Clothkits kindly sent me a doorstop kit to create which is one of their easiest kits… now if I could just find the time!!  I'll let you know how it goes!!  In the meantime take a look at the other kits you can get from Clothkits.

Clothkits can be bought online here, or from their shop on St Pancras in Chichester.