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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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Travel: The Volvo V60

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Camping, Product Reviews, Travel | Posted on 16-09-2013

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We are just returned from a week away in Cumbria. If you’ve been following me on Twitter you’ll be aware that its been a very busy and packed week visiting lots of tourist spots across the county from our based beside Ullswater. There’s going to be a series of posts on our week away, but first up is my review of the transport we had to get around.

You’ll remember a few weeks ago I borrowed a Volvo V70 for a few days, driving it to Longleat with my family, and then down to Southampton before my trip over to Cowes. Well for my camping adventure to Cumbria the team at Volvo sent me a V60 to use.

I was sent the V60 D2 Business Edition which comes with a built in sat nav, Bluetooth connectivity, six speed gearbox, rear parking sensors, and has no road tax to pay. It’s a diesel engine with amazing fuel consumption and low emissions, so is ideally suited to long journeys. During the course of the 10 days we had the car for we did 1100+ miles so this was the perfect car from that point of view. It was also incredibly comfortable which was essential as we spent many hours in it driving up and down the country, and we found the sat nav indispensable for getting us from attraction to attraction. The car was incredibly responsive whilst being steered on the roads and hills throughout Cumbria, and I felt like the tyres were gripping the road the entire time. The area has a lot of single track roads with passing points and lots of steep hills to go up and down. I always felt totally in control of the car which is of the utmost importance when you’re travelling with your child in the car. The automatic windscreen wipers and headlights also meant I just had to focus on driving.

Whilst I am certain this car was the right choice for our long journey with regards to its fuel efficiency, its comfort and its sat nav, I did have a couple of problems with it.

The boot capacity was dire. You never travel light with children, but we didn’t take anything that we didn’t use. We had clothes and a pile of camping equipment. We didn’t have a tent thankfully as I don’t think it would have fit in! The boot was rammed full, we were unable to close the retractable parcel shelf, and the back seat and foot wells were full too. There was a hidden tray beneath the floor of the boot, but to be fair not much fit in there as it was so shallow. I did like the clip to hold it open though. Packing and unpacking was something of a logistical nightmare to be honest, and I do wonder if the V70 would have been a better choice because of its immense boot space. Saying that we were after something economical to drive, and the V60 was certainly that.

My other main gripe was with the switches. As I mentioned before the headlights had an automatic option, or you could adjust them manually. The dial for this, the release button for the diesel tank cover, and the boot opening button were grouped together to the right of the steering wheel. Unfortunately I couldn’t see these switches without peering around the steering wheel and the windscreen wiper stalk – hardly safe when you’re on the move! The Sat Nav was a pleasure to have in the car, but it was also a menace.  A dozen and one buttons, controls and notifications to deal with. I’m so glad my husband was in the car with me to deal with this. Again, not something you want to be distracted by in transit.

On the whole the V60 was a pleasure to drive, and a great car for long journeys. We had the Business Edition which is primarily marketed as a company car, but also makes a reliable, economical and comfortable family vehicle. Unfortunately though it was a little short on boot capacity which made transporting things an issue. Not the ideal vehicle if you’re off camping, but certainly one to consider if you’re looking for something economical and eco friendly.

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!

 

Back To School: Essentials

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Back To School, Product Reviews | Posted on 22-08-2013

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Its only a couple of weeks until school starts again. Little Man is beginning his educational journey in a fortnight by starting at preschool. He’s only going for one morning a week for now – being an October baby means he’ll be there for two years so there’s no hurry – but he still has a little list of items he needs to take with him. The Back To School shopping experience is one I don’t look forward to. All that mad running around looking for stationary, clothes, shoes, bags, and other items that every child needs before that first day of the new term. Luckily for us Little Man’s needs are pretty basic and generally things that he already has, like wellington boots and spare clothes.

We’ve been sent a few Back To School items to review however, and these are my favourites.

Yellow Back To School Jacket From AsdaThis bright yellow jacket from Asda is ideal for the school run. Available from age 1 right up to age 10 its great for everyone. Its shower proof which is brilliant if you have a long walk to school in the mornings and afternoons, and is nice and bright so your child will be spotted. Little Man’s preschool is about a mile from our house, right on the other side of the village. Whilst he wont be walking there and back himself just yet he’ll need to keep dry and warm in the pushchair. When he does start walking that journey this coat is going to be brilliant. We got it in size 3-4 years and its a lovely fit with plenty room for growth, so hopefully this should last him well into spring. Available in store and online this coat is a must buy and a super bargain at just £12.

Stationary is something that all children use, whether they need it specifically for school or not. Little Man wont need to take a pencil case to preschool with him, but he certainly enjoys pencils, crayons and drawing at home. Memo Etc sent us a great little parcel of items from their Remarkable Recycled range to take a look at. There was a pencil case that use to be a car tyre, recycled leather covered notebooks of recycled paper, and pens and rulers which used to be corn on the cob! All brilliant quality items and all recycled which makes them even more special. I loved the novelty factor of them as well. Its not often you find a set of colouring pencils made from old CD cases! Little Man obviously doesn’t appreciate the eco-friendly nature of these items, but for slightly older children I think they would make brilliant back to school items. Everything is reasonably priced and the range covers items that would be of use to young children starting primary school right through to older students heading to college and university.

 

Spring Cleaning

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Home & Lifestyle, Product Reviews | Posted on 13-02-2013

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I know its still a little chilly out there – and I know for a fact some of you still have snow! – but spring is just around the corner I promise, and for many of us its the time we embark on a decluttering the house and giving it a good clean. Spring Cleaning is something of a chore – unless you’re someone who enjoys it of course… – but it is possible to make it as easy as possible, and also protect the environment and your family.

I don’t know about you but I generally don’t like using harsh chemical cleaning products in places where my son is going to go or around food. Now being 2 years old he goes in most places at the moment so I’ve made the switch to eco-friendly – and Little Man Friendly – products. As well as using eco-friendly cleaning products I am also using recycled tools to do the work for me.

Ecover
Ecover provide the ultimate in environmentally friendly cleaning products. Their range contains plant based ingredients as opposed to harsh chemicals so they are safe to put down the drain, but are also gentle on your skin and the surfaces they touch. Cleaning with an Ecover product means your child or pet can come into contact with whatever you’ve cleaning immediately, without risk. Whilst the products are gentle on you they are tough on stains. I thought something that was plant based would never deal with the 101 stains and spillages caused by your average toddler. I was wrong.

I used the All Purpose Cleaner on my kitchen floor. The kitchen is where a lot of the action happens, and where most of the spills occur. The floor can go from squeaky clean to fairly hideous in the blink of an eye, so its important to have something to hand that will do the job without worrying about Little Man “helping” in the process. It cleaned the floor beautifully, and I was so impressed I filled my kitchen sink with hot water and a cap full of cleaner and did my whole kitchen. Every bench, the cooker top, and the sink all came up beautifully, and the delicate lemon scent makes everything smell fresh and clean.

Cleaning wipes are something I’ve often used. They are great for highchairs especially, but I used the Ecover Multi-Action Wipes to clean out my fridge. I don’t want chemicals inside my fridge – especially my vegetable drawer where items tend to be loose and unwrapped – so these pomegranate and lime scented wipes sounded ideal. They have an ecological antibacterial formula in them which kills 99% of bacteria – perfect for a fridge – and they too leave behind a delicate scent. One large wipe made swift work of the shelves in my fridge and a small one – each large wipe has a perforation across the centre – cleaned in and around the vegetable drawer. Upon completion I was confident about putting loose vegetables straight back inside without risk of contamination.

Washing up is a daily chore in every house. Again I want something safe on my cutlery and crockery – especially Little Man’s – so I tried the Lemon & Aloe Vera Washing Up Liquid. I continued to be thrilled with the results from the Ecover range as bowls, plates and cutlery came out clean. Cups and glasses even sparkled, and Little Man’s surprisingly large range of plates, bowls, cutlery, cups and snack pots all ended up fresh and clean, without a chemical in sight.

I am officially converted to Ecover, and doubt I’ll go back to the harsh chemical products I used to use. You can find their range in most supermarkets, or you can buy from Ecover Direct. You can also get some of the range from Abel & Cole with your vegetable box!

EcoForce & Dishmatic
Whilst you’re using eco-friendly cleaners why not use recycled and eco-friendly tools? EcoForce have a range of scourers, sponges, brushes, cloths and dusters which are all made from recycled materials, and that still get the job done. Would you believe that the sponges are made from the foam that other manufacturers send to landfill? And they are still effective when it comes to cleaning tough stains. The cloths are strong and super absorbent so perfect for quickly and cleanly mopping up spills and puddles, and the super soft dusters are perfect for use on glass and mirrors. We used one to clean the interior of our car windscreen and it came up brilliantly. You can also get recycled plastic clothes pegs and bag grips which are strong and long lasting.

Dishmatic has a wonderful invention which was one of my favourite things to test out. They have a washing up brush with a sponge cleaner on the end – the sponge can be replaced when its worn out, and there are different heads available depending on the task. When I love about this is that you fill the handle with washing up liquid and it dispenses as you clean. It makes the washing up quicker and easier and I found we used less washing up liquid this way. Its always filled and ready for action. A great idea!

Ecorforce and Dishmatic products can be found in supermarkets, DIY stores, Oxfam and online here.

Product Review: Green Toys Recycling Truck

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Product Reviews | Posted on 20-04-2012

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With Earth Day this weekend – April 22nd – now seemed the appropriate time to introduce you all to the Green Toys range, available from BigJigs.

 

Based in California, Green Toys are all made from recycled plastic, and the main source of this is plastic milk bottles. The range aims to provide safe and fun toys for children of all ages, whilst also making products which are good for the planet. On average every pound of recycled plastic which is used saves enough energy to run a laptop for a whole month – which to me is a great reason to buy them! Another thing I love about Green Toys is the packaging. Our truck came in an open fronted cardboard box. That’s all. No metal ties holding it in place, no three hour mission to get the toy out the box whilst your little one complains at volume. I opened the end of the box and the truck rolled out – perfect!

So here is the latest addition to Little Man’s toy collection:

The hugely appropriate Recycling Truck!

This monster of a truck is incredible strong and toddler friendly – impressive when you think its made purely from plastic milk bottles and that there are no metal axis involved. There are three slots down either side to put your recycling in – there are pieces to cut out on the cardboard box – and each is marked as either bottles, cans or paper. There is an opening at the back so you can empty out again, and the recycling holder tips up as well. The wheels are chunky and rolls brilliantly – Little Man can often be heard doing “Brum!” noises, or at least his version of “Brum!” whilst pushing it around – and the whole truck is perfectly sized for little hands to grab hold of.

The Recycling Truck from Green Toys is available now direct from BigJigs new consumer section of their website.