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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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It’s Beginning To Feel A Lot Like Christmas…

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Product Reviews | Posted on 06-12-2017

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I do wish the weather would make its mind up. Its oddly mild today, yet a few days ago I was scraping ice off my windscreen. Thankfully we’ve managed lots of clear bright yet cold days recently, which is by far preferable to wet miserable days. Doing the school run at this time of year is amongst my least favourite activities, and that is largely down to the weather. Cold early mornings battling ice and trying to bustle the children into the car before they catch yet another round of coughs and sneezes is never enjoyable. And then there’s me; decking my boys out in coats and hats and scarves and gloves, and then dashing out myself hardly dressed for the occasion.

My school run uniform of choice during this period always features my trusty Gortex boots I got from Hotter a few years ago. But my winter coat has been seriously lacking. I broke the zip on mine last year and now I can’t fasten it, so its hardly doing its job when it comes to keeping me warm. And with daily school runs and a weekly evening spent outdoors watching my eldest play tennis – yes tennis is played outdoors even in winter around here… – I’ve started turning rather blue.

You know when you get those emails from PR companies or brands at literally the right moment in your life and you just grin? I got one of those a couple of weeks back from the team at JD Williams. “Would you like to pick yourself a new winter coat from the selection on our website and mention it on your blog?” Don’t mind if I do.

I am warm. I am cosy. And I think I look rather good too. This super cosy yet amazingly lightweight jacket from Tog24 has a thermal insulation to keep me warm – crucial for someone who is basically always cold – it is breathable so I don’t overheat and start sweating, it is windproof which is ideal for draughty playgrounds and tennis courts, and its showerproof for those occasions when the weather can’t make its mind up. I’ve been wearing this daily for a couple of weeks now and its been marvellous. The fit is really good, the pockets store me keys and phone without adding bulk, and when I use the hood I feel snug and protected from the elements.

Now this jacket is currently reduced on the JD Williams website, and comes in Navy or Red. But if this doesn’t take your fancy there is a huge range of other jackets and coats for all occasions to take a look at, and you get 20% off your first order. Sounds like a good opportunity to do some more Christmas shopping if you ask me.

Countdown To Christmas

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Christmas | Posted on 14-11-2017

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It’s 41 days until Christmas – how did that even happen? This year has just gone by so fast, and now the kids are back at school and we’ve had Halloween and Bonfire Night, its now just a blink until Christmas. I must confess that I have started my shopping already, with a couple of bits for the boys hidden away already. This Christmas is going to be a bit of an usual one for them though, as its the first since I separated from their Dad, so I’m looking at it as an opportunity to start some new traditions with them.

We have a new Advent Calendar which I will be filling with sweets and treats for them to enjoy throughout December. We will be sending Father Christmas their letters in a special envelope bag I picked up at the local garden centre soon. The Christmas Eve box has been ordered and its contents are being planned and gathered. And we have an Elf Door all ready to put out for those magical elves to use to deliver the box. I also have a couple of trips planned for the days leading up to Christmas, my favourite of which is a return to Drusillas.

We are long time fans of Drusillas and we had a lovely visit there in the run up to Christmas last year, so it made a lot of sense for us to return this year. The already amazing zoo is transformed into a Winter Wonderland, with a large display set out in the event area, as well as the opportunity to meet some huskies and have a chat with Father Christmas himself.

The Winter Wonderland Light Show is being switched on this Saturday 18th November at 4.30pm, and from this weekend you’ll have the chance to meet Father Christmas, his reindeer and his huskies every weekend through until 14th December when they’ll be there everyday. The boys and I will be heading over in the days before Christmas, once school has broken up and excitement levels have no doubt reached fever pitch. It was a magical experience for them last year, and I’m sure they’ll love it again. If you are heading to Drusillas this festive season my main advice to you is to get to Father Christmas early. Queues last year were huge, and I recall standing there for about an hour and a half which the children looked around with their Dad. Something I’m going to try and avoid this year.

 

#Christmas at Drusillas

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Christmas | Posted on 17-12-2016

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With just over a week to the big day, and school finally out for a couple of weeks, you are all no doubt thinking of ways to keep the children entertained and distracted before Christmas. Last weekend we took a trip to Drusillas to check out their Winter Wonderland and we had a wonderful time.

If you head down there in the run up to Christmas you’ll get the chance to meet Santa’s reindeer, meet and hug some of his huskies, and then meet the big man himself. And if you go before January 2nd you’ll get to watch the Winter Wonderland Illuminations too.

Yes that is Thomas The Tank Engine wearing earmuffs and a scarf – the cutest most festive train I’ve ever seen.

Now a logical word of warning here: when you arrive and buy your tickets to get in and your tickets to see Santa which are an extra £11 per child, you’ll be advised to visit him early because he’s going to get busy. Do this. We walked around the zoo first and ended up with me queuing for over an hour whilst Daddy amused the children. By the time we’d reached the front of the queue, it was a little over double the length it had been when I joined it.

The reindeer are really cute, but the huskies are a definite highlight. Such beautiful friendly dogs who are well worth a visit. Handily they are right next door to Santa so they’re a good place to go with the kids whilst someone else joins the queue. I must admit to thinking £11 per child to meet Santa was a little steep, but he was probably the best Santa I’ve ever seen, and the grotto was lovely. He takes time to talk to the children and you don’t feel like you’re on a conveyor belt. The gifts are also perfect, but I won’t spoil the surprise there.

Sadly we couldn’t stay for the light show as it starts at 4.30 and the children were starting to droop. We left about 2pm and it was definitely getting busier, with a lot of people obviously coming specifically for that part of the day. But we did see the area where the show was going to be, and the illuminated wonderland creatures. I’m sure the display was amazing once it went dark.

We love Drusillas and we love having the opportunity to visit again and again. It’s truly a fantastic day out for the family all year round, but it certainly gave us a lovely start to the festive period.

Festive Bingo!

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Sponsored Posts | Posted on 06-12-2016

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The Christmas countdown has began! Crackers, check. Turkey, check. Sprouts….. maybe not this year.

Christmas and New Year are full of traditions. Some are historic like leaving the carrot for the reindeer on Christmas Eve or counting down the minutes to midnight on New Years eve. Others are more recent such as singing hit songs or watching a fight unfold on Eastenders.

I have these fabulous online bingo cards with some known and lesser known traditions on. See how many you can tick off and how traditionally British your holidays is!

paddypowerbingo

Thanks to Paddy Power for these great festive bingo cards – I hope you have fun playing along!

December 1st

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Christmas Gift Guide | Posted on 01-12-2016

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I have been rubbish at blogging recently. I have no idea where the time has gone, or how it is already the start of December. But today I decided would be the ideal time to show off this awesome product that arrived many weeks ago.

e-s-d-mug-plain

I love this mug. Looks like a plain boring white mug yes? Nope. How about now?

e-s-d-mug-tea

Cool huh? Or what about this?

e-s-d-mug-penguin

Yep. Same mug. Bit proud of the penguin I must confess.

You see this mug comes with a special pen which lets your draw on a design of your choice. It looks permanent, but it washes off, so you can change your mug every day if you wish. Or you can write a special message for a friend or loved one before you give it them as a gift. Maybe even your child’s teacher as a Christmas present. The pen makes it totally personalised and unique, making it the ultimate bespoke gift. And you can give them the pen too so if they wash the design off, they can re-doodle their own.

Eat Sleep Doodle do lots of products with the same doodling feature. As well as the mug, they sent me two of their Placemat-To-Go’s.

e-s-d-placemat

Each cotton sheet features a printed on plate and cutlery on one side and a graph paper design on the other. It comes in a handy carry bag and includes a set of ten coloured pens. We’ve not tested this out yet – I’m thinking it’ll get lots of use over Christmas though. Ideal for taking to the grandparents for when the kids are waiting on their food, or for when you’re eating out at restaurants. The children can draw to their hearts content – maybe try and doodle their dinner – and then you simply pop them in the washing machine and they are ready for next time. I’m thinking they’ll also come in handy in the car for keeping the boys entertained on our way to visit family over the festive period. The fact it comes in a bag is just super convenient. Hopefully I’ll get some action shots of this in use over on my Instagram in the coming weeks.

Do make your way over to the Eat Sleep Doodle website and take a look at their awesome products – lots of Christmas gift inspiration for those of you who haven’t finished shopping yet. Fingers crossed, for the first year ever, I might be done by December 1st… hopefully.

#Review: Donna from Hotter

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Fashion | Posted on 07-06-2016

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There’s a reasonable chance that I’m becoming obsessed with Hotter shoes.

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be invited to a party at my local Hotter store. Not my first, and hopefully not my last, but an event I can never turn down. Hotter throw the best parties – the team are always incredibly lovely, they always bring prosecco, and then there’s shoes. What more could a girl want?

Hotter-Donna-SussexMummy

You’ll remember that at my last event I left with the fabulous – yet very practical – Ribble Boot, which I wore relentlessly throughout the autumn and winter, and which I adore. This time around I decided to go for something altogether less practical, but just as gorgeous. These sparkly silver heels are the Donna Shoe, and I love them.

I’d gone with other shoes in mind, had planned on getting the Antoinette Heels that I’d managed to resist last time. But I spied the Donna sparkly on the shelves and it was pretty much game over. Incredibly comfortable as you’d expect from Hotter, totally impractical – hardly school run appropriate, but just gorgeous.

Now sadly I haven’t had occasion to wear them yet – apart from sat in front of the TV…! – but I’m thinking I’m hugely well prepared for the work Christmas party this year. They look great with jeans so I might risk wearing them next time I go out to the pub, but I suspect that the festive season will be the best time to debut these.

Grab your own Donna Heels now in this soft silver, or one of the many other shades available.

#Review: Aubeterre Blue Cookie Cutter Lights

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Product Reviews | Posted on 18-12-2015

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We finally got around to putting our Christmas lights up this weekend. There’s no tree going up this year – the idea of spending weeks telling our youngest to not pull it down just strikes me as making the whole season more stressful than necessary. To compensate we’ve gone a bit overboard with the lights. We’ve got them up in the playroom, around the lounge and in the kitchen windows. The ones that would typically be adorning our tree are instead illuminating our house and when they’re all turned on it looks very festive and cheerful.

I particularly like have twinkly lights in my kitchen. If you ever watched the older series’ of Nigella Lawson’s cooking shows you’ll know they were set in her own home, her own kitchen. As well as wanting that immense walk in pantry she had which is about the size of my own kitchen, I wanted the lights. String lights in a variety of colours seemed to cover every surface and I thought the whole room looked gorgeous. I’ve often looked for similar lights for my own kitchen but never quite managed to find any that I thought suited that picture in my mind that I have of how I’d like to replicate her incredible kitchen in my vastly smaller space. That was until I was contacted by Aubeterre Blue.

“Aubeterre Blue – Bringing the Magic into Entertaining.

Believing that every moment you spend around a table should be special and giving you the tools to make it so.

Named after Aubeterre-sur-Dronne, one of the top ten most beautiful French towns where both sets of founding partners were married, Aubeterre Blue has a clear vision; to make the world a more joyful place by Bringing the Magic into Entertaining, this means enabling friends and family to share magical Aubeterre Blue moments wherever they may be.

Believing that every moment should be magical, from a cosy quiet night in, to hosting a party for family and friends. It doesn’t matter if it’s a lazy Sunday brunch or Christmas Day, we want to empower and inspire you to make special moments magical, by creating gorgeous and exciting spaces both in the home and out.

Aubeterre Blue’s ambition is to provide you with the inspiration to entertain in ways that you may never have thought, with unique and beautiful home-wares that have a story to tell and are show stopping centrepieces, generating conversation and perhaps a little envy.

Any moment can be an Aubeterre Blue moment with friends, family and a little magic…”

aubeterre-blue-cookie-lightsAubeterre Blue stock a gorgeous range of products for the home, specialising in entertaining. I was very excited to find a beautiful section dedicated to string lights, and to find ones which were precisely what I was looking for. Copper Cookie Cutter String Lights are the perfect choice for year round decoration in my kitchen. They are battery operated which I love, as it means I can literally hang them anywhere without having to hunt around for a none-existent free plug socket. At present they are draped over our meal planning chalkboard on the kitchen door, the white battery pack practically invisible on our white wooden doors. What I love is that I can, and invariably will, move them around the kitchen and possibly even the house in the New Year once our Christmas decorations come down.

If you head over to the Aubeterre Blue website right now you’ll find these gorgeous sparkly copper lights with 20% off, as well as the all the other string lights. A beautiful addition to your home, for Christmas and beyond.

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.
Christmas2014-SussexMummy

Counting Your Pennies This Christmas

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Information, Sponsored Posts | Posted on 08-12-2014

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Ah Christmas. Its the most wonderful time of the year. And its also one of the most expensive. The number of gifts that need buying seems to go up every year, and as parents we often get a little carried away when it comes of buying presents for our little ones. Add to that the numerous sales and special offer days that go on before Christmas where bargains are there to tempt us, and you’ve probably had your heating on more in the last couple of weeks in order to keep warm, and those piles of food, drinks and treats that you’re making sure you have in ready for the festive season. Plus all your usual household bills. It’s pretty terrifying really when you think about it. Hardly surprising therefore that around one million households don’t even OPEN their bills!

Household bills Infographic

SO how do you manage your money during December? Do you save throughout the year? Do you have a strict budget that your stick to? Or are your reliant on credit cards? Have you ever thought about changing your bank account to make more money? No really. The 1-2-3 Current Account from Santander pays an impressive 3% on all balances above £3000. And they give you cashback on your household bills. Think how that would help you save for Christmas, or for a family holiday, or even a wedding.

I’ve always considered myself pretty happy with my own bank account, but I must say I’m looking into moving it across to Santander in the New Year. It’d be fascinating to see how much cashback we could earn in time for next Christmas. There’s a really handy online calculator on the Santander website where you can get a rough idea how much you could earn based on the cost of your household bills and how much you tend to have in your bank account. In just a few clicks you can work out approximately how much you could gain in terms of cashback and interest payments. I think I’ll be transferring my earnings into a separate account so I can keep track on it – the ideal starter for my Christmas 2015 savings.

What would you spend your cashback and interest earnings on?

Review: Charlie & Lola’s Best Bestest Play

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Days Out, Product Reviews | Posted on 20-12-2013

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Yesterday Little Man and I travelled to Bluewater, Kent to see the latest offering from Charlie & Lola live on stage. “Charlie & Lola’s Best Bestest Play” is an hour in length with no interval, and its split into what is effectively two “episodes”. I obviously don’t want to give anything away plot wise, but the two “episodes” follow the format you’d come to expect from the show. There are three stars – Charlie, Lola and Lola’s imaginary friend Soren Lorenson – and each are puppets. There are four puppeteers onstage making these three work, as well as act as stage hands moving the set around and the props.
I read reviews of this show and other Charlie & Lola stage shows of the same format before I went. I was curious as to what other people made of the show, and what they did and didn’t enjoy. The main complaint from people who had seen the shows was that they found the four puppeteers distracting. They are visable the whole time, there’s no attempt made to hide them, and for me this wasn’t a problem. They “acted” alongside the puppets, their faces showing the emotions that the characters were feeling, or reacting to something that was going on onstage. They provided a second source of entertainment and one that my Little Man loved. He was fascinated by the entire thing. He recognised the characters, he laughed along, he called out “Uh oh…” at relevant moments, and he clapped happily at the end. There are two moments in the show when the audience really gets involved with items landing on them. He adored these bits and giggled madly when things landed on his head and on Mummy’s. He was mesmerised for the entire show and when it did end he wanted more. At no point did I think the stage was too busy for him to understand what was going on, and the rest of the audience seemed content too. The show is running until January 5th at Glow, Bluewater before it embarks on a tour in the spring. If you can get to Bluewater to see it. Its a great little venue for children’s theatre, and there’s loads of free parking and plenty of places to eat afterwards. There’s also a Winter Wonderland on at the moment with a skating rink and in the run up to Christmas there’s a chance to meet Santa too. We had a lovely day at Bluewater, seeing the show, eating a great meal at Giraffe and then doing a bit of shopping afterwards. A wonderfully magical festive day out for me and my Little Man.