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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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Festive Family Fun: Dear Santa

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Christmas, Competition, Days Out, Product Reviews | Posted on 13-12-2012

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If you are lucky enough to live within reach of Horsham, West Sussex and are looking for something festive to do with your little ones this Christmas I implore you to go to the Capitol and see their production of “Dear Santa”. Its based on the lovely book by Rod Campbell and is ideal for children under 5.


We’ve never been to the Capitol before and Little Man has never seen any kind of stage production so I was a little nervous heading in there on my own. Santa is a new concept to Little Man, but he is beginning to recognise him in shops and on decorations so I was hopeful for some enthusiasm. Upon arrival we collected our tickets from the Box Office and Little Man immediately made himself at home in the foyer.

About ten minutes before the performance was due to begin we began making our way to the “Studio”. It is upstairs at the Capitol but there’s a good sized lift as well as a flight of stairs. Prams can be left downstairs in the bar area. The “Studio” is a compact room with tiered seating which is essential for a performance aimed at little children, and has a small stage area which was set up and ready. It looked magical.

The stage was split into two rooms – the bedroom of Sarah, the little girl who writes to Santa, and Santa’s workshop where he and his Elf wrap and sort presents ready for Christmas Eve. By having both rooms on the same stage at the same time it allowed the production to flow easily and kept it to about 30 minutes. We were sat three rows back and Little Man had a great view from my knee pointing out things he could see on the stage. It took me a while to spot most of them myself!

The length of the production is ideal for even the most fidgety child and the cast of just three characters – Sarah, the Elf, and Santa – are a joy to watch. There is plenty of interaction with the audience and the chance to sing songs, clap along and call out for Santa when he makes his big entrance. The story itself is a simple one but gives a great message to the young and old members of the audience as Christmas nears and the great shopping fest begins. After the production ends there is even a chance to meet Santa himself and get your photo taken with him, and there are small presents for the children too. An amazing and magical family treat.

I would hugely recommend this to anyone who can get to Horsham this winter to see it. The show is on now until Christmas Eve with at least two performances a day, with extra on Saturdays and the days before Christmas. Tickets are £9 for adults and £7.50 for children, and if you book online you can choose your own seats. Full details can be found at the Capitol website.

Competition: I have a copy of the lovely Rod Campbell book “Dear Santa” to give away to one lucky reader. To enter just tweet the following message:

“I Want To Win #DearSanta This Christmas With @SussexMummy!”

The competition ends at 8pm on Tuesday 18th December and the winner will be notified asap. I will also endeavor to get the book to you in time for Christmas!!

Win A Visit From The FA Cup For Your Child’s School

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Competition, Information | Posted on 11-12-2012

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This is a great competition for any football mad children out there!

Home Appliance brand Beko has teamed up with schools newspaper First News to offer children the chance to win a visit from the FA Cup to their school. Entering couldn’t be easier – children just need to get a photo of themselves or their team celebrating a victory with a cut out of the famous FA Cup. They should be holding it up with pride to their adoring fans, or maybe just posing with their schools football team. The Top 10 will receive a visit from the real FA Cup, and the overall winner will receive prizes including a coaching session with an FA Legend, tickets for the school football team (boys OR girls) and two teachers to attend an FA Cup semi final, and 11 complete football kits for their school team.

Full details can be found on the Beko Facebook page here where you can also download your entry form and FA Cup to cut out. You’ll have to be quick though as the competition ends on December 20th!!

Product Review: Colour Changing

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Competition, Product Reviews | Posted on 21-09-2012

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Colour Changing offer a wide range of products which, as the name suggests, change colour. They sent me a couple of items to try out, and offer my readers the chance to win.

UV Nail Polish: Apricot to Red Apple
The first product was a nail varnish. This nail varnish brushes on like any other and is a soft apricot colour when it dries. You need to use this varnish as either a top coat or alone because when you go out into the sun and the UV rays hit your nails it transforms into a bright red apple shade! Made by Solar Active the varnish is strong and chip resistant, as well as providing UV protection to avoid discolouration. It is removable with any usual varnish remover. Whilst its a fun product to wear – ideal for parties, fancy dress or dressing up games with little girls – its not something to wear everyday. The colour change is fast and very impressive, but I don’t think its something to go to work wearing for example!

London Skyline Colour Changing Umbrella
Next up was an umbrella. Living in the UK means it rains more often than not, so an umbrella is a handbag essential. There is no reason however for that umbrella to be dull. This black and white umbrella features a white silhouette of the London skyline around the edge. As it rains and the umbrella becomes wet the white skyline turns a mix of bright colours. Designed by Squid Of London, and inspired by Jackson Pollack, this is more than an umbrella, its a functional piece of art. As someone who visits London regularly and has been caught out in more than my fair share of rain showers, this is now a permanent feature in my handbag!

Competition!
To win your choice of colour changing nail varnish AND a London skyline umbrella just head over to the Colour Changing Facebook page and “Like” it . Then head back here and let me know you’ve done it by commenting below. A winner will be chosen from all entries on Friday 28th September received by 8pm.

Product Review: Little Helper Fun Pod

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Competition, Information, Product Reviews | Posted on 07-09-2012

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My love of baking and cooking is hardly news, especially with the number of cook books I’ve been featuring recently. Its also not news that I really want to get my Little Man involved and the best product to help me do that is the Fun Pod from Little Helper.

The Fun Pod is designed to stand beside your kitchen bench or sink and allow your child t0 stand safely in it and “help” with the cooking, baking or washing up. As you can see above it has five adjustable height levels so that as your child grows they are still safe. When not in use it fits neatly underneath your bench. It has a handle on either side for carrying it around – empty of course! – and also for moving it into position. Every time I go into the kitchen with Little Man nowadays he goes straight to the Fun Pod and tries to get it out, so its clearly a winner with him.

As you can see from the photos we’ve had a lot of fun using it. Little Man “helped” me bake a Lemon Drizzle cake and greased the tin for me – a job he took very seriously. We do also have the occasional “Flour Incident” when he gets just a little carried away with his mixing. Sadly I can’t seem to tempt him into wearing an apron! Once we’re done baking he is always keen to help wash up which is fantastic for me, though I tend to just let him loose with a few spoons and plastic plates. I promise you he is not about to eat that foam, despite how that photo looks!!

The Fun Pod is the ultimate kitchen accessory if you want to get your children baking with you. Compact, light weight and so easy to build, it is a much safer alternative to standing them on a chair with you. Getting them involved with baking also keeps them entertained and allows you time to get on with what you’re trying to do.

We were sent the brand new Walnut Fun Pod for the purposes of this review. With modern kitchens becoming much darker in decor the team at Little Helper wanted to make sure the Fun Pod complimented the kitchen it was in instead of clashing or being something of an eyesore.

Competition!

I have a brand new Walnut Fun Pod to give away to one lucky reader, and entering is simple.

1. Head over to the Little Helper Facebook page and click “Like” then write on their wall telling them that Sussex Mummy sent you.
2. Follow Little Helper on Twitter and send them a Tweet including my Twitter handle @SussexMummy.
3. Either of these will gain you ONE entry into the draw. Once you’ve done one or both of these things come back to this page and write a comment below telling me how you’ve entered.

The competition closes at 8pm on Friday 5th October 2012 and winners will be notified via Facebook or Twitter once the draw has taken place.

 

Bagabook Giveaway At Brit Mums Live!

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Blogger Event, Brit Mums Live, Competition, Information, Product Reviews | Posted on 18-06-2012

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Bagabooks are designed to protect your precious paperbacks from damage when you’re reading them if you’re out and about. Whether you’re travelling by train or plane, or sat on a warm sandy beach (clearly not in the UK…) or just like to have your book with you in case you fancy a quick read, your paperback may end up a little dog-eared and damaged. Bagabook to the rescue!!

Bagabooks slip around the cover of your book and protect it from the elements. They come with a built in bookmark and a handy pocket for a travel card or train ticket – perfect for all you commuters out there. There is even a pen holder as your Bagabook can also house a notepad or diary. You can even fit an e-reader or 7 inch tablet inside – and that’s why I’m bringing my Bagabook to Brit Mums Live this weekend with my new Kurio inside. As you all know I’m going to be showing off the pre-release 7 inch Kurio to anyone who wants a look, but I am also going to be running a competition to giveaway a brand new Bagabook of your choice.

Bagabooks come in two designs – Classic or Executive. The Classics look rather like a stylish handbag, with a strap to pop it over your shoulder or carry it.

The Executive has a briefcase look to it with a much shorter and neater handle, and has a discreet zipped pocket to pop in your mobile or mp3 player or some loose change.
Take a look at the full range on the Bagabook website – there are a host of colours and designs to choose from.

Fancy winning one of your own?

Track me down on Friday or Saturday at Brit Mums Live and give me one of your business cards.  You’ll be entered into a Prize Draw and on Sunday I’ll pick one of the cards out of a hat – or the discreet hidden pocket of the Bagabook – and that person will win a Bagabook of their choice from the website. What’s more is that ALL entrants will be emailed with a discount code to use in the online store.

Product Review: Tidy Books Bookcase

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Competition, Product Launch | Posted on 23-04-2012

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Well it was only a matter of time before my book buying for my Little Man habit got out of control and we needed a better storage solution! Books have previously been piled in the lounge with his toys or in boxes upstairs but they’ve never been very tidy or easy to access for him without causing chaos. How’s this for tidy and accessible:

 

Whilst this is only a fraction of his books there is still loads of room for more on the shelves. With them being nice and deep you can put taller ones towards the back and smaller ones at the front. I love the fact that the books are facing the front so Little Man can see which one appeals and then get it out himself without scattering books across the room.

The bookcase comes flat packed and is so easy to build with the help of the included Alan key and a screwdriver – I managed to build it fully myself even with Little Man “helping” by moving the screws around. The panels on the front with the alphabet on are reversible, so you can have those parts plain and use it for other things when its been outgrown by your little one. The bookcase tilts back against the wall and attaching it is very important to avoid tipping it over – Little Man does try and reach the top shelf the best he can!

I guess the key question is does it work? Well I built it and propped it up against the lounge wall and put a few books on just to test out if the larger ones fit. It didn’t take Little Man long to do this:

That is Little Man reading his favourite “In The Night Garden” book. I can only apologise for the lack of trousers – not uncommon for him at the moment!

A brilliant piece of furniture that would look at home in any child’s bedroom or, as we have it at the moment, in the lounge.

Want to win your own?

Tidy Books Bookcases come in a variety of colours and finishes, and you can win your very own now by clicking here. Competition closes May 11th 2012.

 

 

World Book Day: “It’s Your Story” Needs YOU!

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

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T0 coincide with World Book Day “It’s Your Story” is giving your little one the chance to rename one its most popular characters – Charlie The Snowman. And what’s more your little ones name will appear in print alongside the authors name for a whole year – how cool is that?

All they have to do is send their chosen name for the snowman along with some facts about them, like their favourite food, or game, or who their best friend is. The best entry will have their chosen name used in the Snowman Adventures book for a whole year, and they’ll also win 5 photo-personalised books from the huge range at “It’s Your Story”.

To help you come up with a name, “It’s Your Story” are giving you the opportunity to buy the animated Snowman Adventure e-story for FREE. Add the e-story to your shopping basket and enter the code BYEBYECHARLIE in the voucher box. The e-story will be delivered to your inbox within minutes.

Once you’ve thought up your name (and some fun facts about your snowman), email it to snowman@itsyourstory.co.uk quoting Snowman Competition in the subject line. Five runners up will also receive one free photo-personalised book each.

Entries must be received by midnight on 31 March 2012. Full terms and conditions are available on the website.

 

 

 

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!!

Andy & Evan For Little Gentlemen Competition

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Competition, Trade Show Discovery | Posted on 10-02-2012

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During my recent trip to the Bubble Trade Show in London is was so excited to discover the Andy & Evan Brand. Andy & Evan started out in America as a tailored shirt company for adult men. It was formed by Andy & Evan who left their jobs and set up the company, keen to provide an excellent product and excellent customer service. Since the companies birth they have gained a following of industry leaders, celebrities and famous athletes. Three years on they’ve decided to take the leap into children’s clothing and have set up their “Little Gentlemen” range, and now they over in the UK trying to smarten up the little boys here.

Their current Spring Summer 2012 range boasts a range of their famous “Shirtzies.” These are a gorgeous combination of a traditional button down shirt with the functional snap closure underneath your little boys bottom. This helps to keep your little one looking smart as he crawls and rampages around. The shirts are made from 100% premium tailored cotton with a soft cotton terry lined collar so they are comfortable on even the littlest gentleman.  The “Shirtzies” come in a range of plain, gingham and plaid designs. There is even a shirt with contrasting white collar and cuffs called “The Banker. Andy & Evan also have a range of lightweight cotton cargo pants and shorts, polo shirts, rompers and bucket hats to help keep your little gentleman looking smart but keeping cool this summer.

Later this year I will be doing a review of their amazing Autumn Winter range as displayed at Bubble London, but for now I am so excited to be able to offer this cute prize to one lucky reader.

I have one White Oxford Shirtzie and one pair of Navy Twill Shorts to give away in size 6-12 months. Perfect for keeping your little man looking cool this summer. To be in with a chance of winning this prize please Tweet the following:

“I Want To Win A Shirtzie & Shorts Set From @AndyAndEvanKids With @SussexMummy! http://ht.ly/8ZD5F “

The competition ends on Friday 17th February at 8pm and the winner will be notified as soon as possible afterwards.

To find out more about Andy & Evan check out their website and follow them on Twitter @AndyAndEvanKids.

Christmas Gift Guide: Books For All Ages… and DISCOUNTS and a COMPETITION!!

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Book Review, Christmas Gift Guide, Competition | Posted on 09-12-2011

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Books are pretty much a regular feature under Christmas trees in my family, and always have been. I know for a fact that Little Man will be opening some new books on Christmas morning. If you’re looking for books to get for someone you know and love this festive season, I might just be able to help.

Autumn Publishing sent me a selection of their new titles recently, and I think they’d make a great addition to any stocking this year.

The “Pops For Tots” range is aimed at children from 1+ and has four titles to choose from. Chunky books that are perfect for little hands the colourful pages feature pop-up pictures which I’m sure will put a smile on any little ones face. Images on each page are named so these books could last well into early reading stages. Choose from “On The Farm”, “Time To Play”, “In The Sea” and “Things That Go.”

“Collectable Pixi Books” are for children between 3 and 6. Priced at a tiny 99p each these books are great pocket money buys, and there are plenty to choose from to get your child’s collection started. There is a range of Sesame Street, Koala Brothers and Fairy Tales to choose from and there are eight books in each series. As well as a book your Pixi pack comes with colourful stickers and a “Kids Go Free” voucher to a Sea Life Centre, making these books an absolute bargain. Stock up now!!

For 8 years and over there is the “Write Stuff” books – there’s one for boys and one for girls.  These books encourage the author within through a fun step by step guide to planning, drafting and writing a story, as well as all the different types of writing there are out there – perfect for any budding bloggers in the family! With blank pages and gaps in the information for your child to write all they’ll need is the book and a pen – it should certainly keep them quiet for a while whilst you recover on Boxing Day.

If you’re looking for a book for someone slightly older there is no book I’ll recommend more than “Are We Nearly There Yet?” by the marvellous Ben Hatch. Published by Summersdale this book is perfect for anyone that has or is about to embark on a long car journey with their children. Ben’s 8000 mile trip might take some beating, but I’m certain you’ll all find a “Yep, that happened to me…” moment in this diary of his journey. It will have you in tears, hysterics and general awe as Ben tackles this epic journey with his wife and children whilst attempting to write a guide book from the comfort of a (slightly dubious) Vauxhall Astra and rather a lot of hotel rooms. You’ll learn more about Ben and his family as they tackle dodgy driving (sorry Dinah), the death of his father, and Billie Piper’s pyjamas. As someone who’s never really done a really long car journey with a child – Little Man tends to sleep through them still – I am a little scared about what’s to come, and what things I’ll use as a make shift baby wipe…

Don’t just take my word for it – this marvellous book has got itself something of celebrity following!

‘Ben Hatch makes me laugh.’

John Cleese

‘A voyage of pain, suffering, argument, baby wipes, discovery and utter delight… Never travel in a car without children without this book by your side…’

Terry Wogan

‘A funny, touching cross-country jaunt that’s as much about being a kid as it is about being a grown-up. (And thank God someone else did it so you don’t have to…)’

Danny Wallace

‘A wonderful book – hilarious, cringeworthy and moving, all at the same time. Highly recommended for anyone with a family, a car or a sense of humour.’

Sophie Kinsella

“Ben Hatch is a very funny writer. His work is fresh and heartfelt.”

David Jason.

“A wonderful book. Terribly moving and so so funny.”

Richard Briers.

 

To win a copy of Ben’s brilliant book simply follow these instructions:

1) Comment on this post AND 2) Tweet “Are We Nearly There Yet @SussexMummy and @BenHatch?”

Competition ends at 8pm on Friday 16th December and I will endeavour to get the book to the winner before Christmas!!

Autumn Publishing can be found online where you’ll discover their huge range of children’s books and use the following code for a discount off your first purchase!!

“Are We Nearly There Yet?” is available from Summersdale Publishing.

Follow Ben Hatch on Twitter @BenHatch.