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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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Days Out: Drusillas Park, East Sussex

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Days Out, Information | Posted on 31-03-2014

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Daddy and I had been talking for a while about talking Little Man out for the day somewhere special before his brother arrives. We wanted to do a last day out as a family of three somewhere that he’d love whilst I still had the energy. We considered a few options, but our ultimate decision was always going to be Drusillas. We haven’t been for a couple of years and we knew that at three he would find it much more fascinating than he had on our first trip there for his first birthday. Daddy planned to take a day off work so we could go mid-week when the crowds would be less and we hoped for some good weather. By some generally creepy coincidence I received an email just a few days later from the Press Team at Drusillas asking if I’d be interested in coming down to review the place. Clearly a sign we’d picked the right day out!

We visited a couple of weeks ago, lucky enough to choose a day where the sun was glorious. As you can see there were lots of cheeky characters to see, not least my Little Man who had a whale of a time. He loved spotting all the animals and pointing them out to Daddy and I. Every enclosure at Drusillas has special viewing windows for small children, or little steps for them to use. It makes the day much easier for parents and keeps the children feeling independent. Every so often there’s a learning area for the children to use as well, where they can lift flaps or open boxes or press buttons to learn more about each animal. Now obviously Little Man is a little young to be reading this information, but he had a lot of fun looking at the pictures and doing his best impressions of each animal.

I think the monkeys were his favourite – plenty opportunities to do his monkey impression at Drusillas – but as you can see above the lorikeets were a big hit too. At Drusillas you can walk into the lorikeet enclosure and buy a small cup of nectar. Daddy held the cup out and within seconds he was acting as a perch for several birds. Little Man thought this was brilliant and enjoyed watching them have their “little drink” as well as settling on his Daddy. I loved the meerkats who are such great little characters, and the lemurs were very funny too. I’m fairly sure they were all enjoying topping up their tans in the sunshine of their enclosure.

As well as a wealth of animals to see and discover, Drusillas has a rather popular train ride courtesy of Thomas The Tank Engine and a huge play area. There’s also a number of food vendors and gift shops to visit on your way out. One thing to bear in mind though is the seasonal openings. Last time we visited it was Easter weekend and everything was open. We went mid week during term time this time around and there was only one sit down restaurant open, none of the small vendors were open, and Thomas was only running once an hour as opposed to his usual “as and when required” scheduling at peak times. This was a little disappointing I must admit, but thankfully we’d taken a picnic with us which we enjoyed in the gorgeous sunshine, and we managed to get Little Man an ice cream as a treat before he dragged Daddy all around the play area whilst I put my feet up for a while.

There’s a bit of building work going on at Drusillas at the moment whilst they create their newest attraction which is opening this summer. The “Hello Kitty Secret Garden Experience” is due to open mid May and will include rides, a Hello Kitty House, and plenty opportunities to meet the star herself. No doubt this will be hugely popular when it opens – we spotted several excited children trying to sneak a peek around the fences surrounding the work area trying to catch a glimpse of the famous cat.


Drusillas continues to be one of our favourite family days out, and one that we hope to visit again once Little Dude has arrived. Online is the best way to buy tickets as thanks to their “Online Price Squeezer” you can save money compared to on-the-gate prices. There’s also always lots going on with famous characters visiting throughout the year. A certain Peppa Pig is there next week in fact, just in time for Easter. Definitely a day out to remember.

We were provided with complimentary entry to the zoo for the purposes of this review, but all opinions and comments are my own.

Guest Post: 5 Ways To Make The Most Of Your Weekend With Your Kids

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Days Out, Guest Post, Home & Lifestyle | Posted on 29-05-2013

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For many parents, the pressures of working life during the week means that the days seem to fly by without having enough time to really enjoy being with the kids. This is why it is essential to make the most of free time at the weekends and to have as much shared time as you can.

Of course, it can be tempting to get other things done that you need to do and let’s face it – there’s never enough time to strike everything off of that list. But it really is essential to make sure that the real joys of family life don’t get lost in the rush to fit everything else in.

Juggling simple things like doing the weekly shopping and trying to have a few moments to yourself can be difficult to fit into the time you have but the really important thing is to enjoy family life for all it has to offer.

So here are five ways to make the most of your weekend with your kids:

1. Make time

The best thing to do is just to make time to be together. This means you need to put other things on the back burner and actually give your full attention to spending time as a family. So turn off the smartphone, stop checking emails and enjoy the offline world.

2. Plan ahead

A little planning is a good thing and living in the UK it’s a good idea to have a back up that doesn’t rely on the weather playing ball! This is where spending time in your own home can be the best idea of all.

3. Make a mess

Kids love nothing more than making a mess, whether intentionally or accidentally! Messy play is LOTS of fun but accidents do happen. This is where having hardwearing and easily cleaned furniture such as a leather sofa comes in really handy – beautiful and practical at the same time. Just remember to relax – I got a biro stain out of my leather sofa this week using a baby wipe!

4. Try something new

You don’t always have to stick with the same old tried-and-tested methods of entertainment. Break out and try something new. You never know, you and the kids might discover a new love.

5. Have fun

Ultimately, the way to make the most of a weekend spent together is just to have fun in whatever way you can so relax, smile and let the good times roll.

This is a guest post submitted on behalf of Sainsbury’s. If you want to make the most of your weekend family time with your kids a leather sofa can be a great idea to help stop worrying about spills and stains. Check out the full range on the website.

 

Christmas Stocking Fillers: For Children…

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Christmas, Christmas Gift Guide, Information, Product Reviews | Posted on 14-11-2012

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Its Christmas!!

Well at the very least its approaching fast, and no doubt most of you have begun your shopping already. If any of you have finished your shopping… I hate you. Joke.

If you’re looking for inspiration for a few stocking filler for your little ones, or topping up a main present, all of the gifts below are available now for less the £15.

1. Justin’s Funny Faces Sticker Activity Book
The phenomenal Justin Fletcher – star of Something Special, GiggleBiz, Justin’s House – brings you this brilliant sticker book. Full of faces and reusable stickers your children will have hours of fun creating and recreating lots of funny faces. This has an RRP of £3.99 and is available now from Amazon.

2. Wow Toys: George’s Dragon Tale
Join Sir George and Smokey as they go on a quest in this excellent set from Wow. Complete with a chariot and boulder which can be fired at any foe they might meet, this is a great little set for the boys. This retails for £7.99 and is available from all good Wow Toy stockists.

3. Colour Me Fun Crayons: Gingerbread Men
This festive edition of the popular Colour Me Fun Crayon sets comes with eight gingerbread men in a range of colours. Non toxic, high quality and super cute these are a great buy for any budding artist. Other festive sets are available or you can get their names. Prices start from £2.49. See the complete range here.

4. Deadly 60 and The Simpsons Games
Fans of either show will love these boxes trivia games. The games are simple to play and quick fire so nobody will get bored. Each comes with 400 multiple choice questions on either show. The Ruckus Deadly 60 card game is a fast paced card collecting game where anything could change up till the last moment. All games are suitable from 8 years plus and prices start from £5. You’ll find all the games in your nearest toy store, or online here.

5. Festive Books: Everything’s Rosie, Thomas The Tank Engine, and Mr Men
Books make great gifts for children, and these Christmas themed titles are even better. Featuring characters from their favourite TV shows children will enjoy reading these again and again, and probably not just during the festive period. Priced at £3.99 each you can find these titles in your local bookstore.

6. The Hungry Frogs ‘Magic Sound’ Board Game
An ideal first board game for pre-schoolers this is a simple game of turn taking, counting and moving around the board. You are on a mission to collect flies, and the first to make it home with 5 flies wins. Every time its your go you also get to press the ‘Magic Sound Button’ which makes a loud croaking sound – without a doubt Little Man’s favourite feature. You can find stockist details here.

7. Wow Toys: Arctic Archie
Archie the Snow Mobile is a lovely toy for Christmas, particularly if you are looking forward to snow this year. Joined by Scott and Penelope the Penguin Archie is a great push along toy, and whats more its quiet too. A nice peaceful gift perhaps? Retailing at £8.99 you can find a list of stockists here.

8. Pirate Rag Doll
Whilst Rag Dolls are traditionally for girls, Little Lucy Willow has created this very trendy Pirate for all the little boys out there. Beautifully made of 100% cotton you can even undress the Pirate if you want to. A great toy for any fans of Jake & The Neverland Pirates!! This Pirate retails for £15 and it available from Little Lucy Willow now.

9. Wow Toys: Pocket Friends
If you’ve already got your little one a new Wow Toys set this Christmas, or perhaps they have them all already, the Pocket Friends are a great idea. Each packet comes with one new friend and an activity sheet and you can choose either a boy or a girl. These toys are only available at existing Wow Toys stores and Road Chefs and are not available online. They are £1.99 each.

10. Artzooka Rock Painting Kit
A great little craft set which I was amazed to find included the rocks, this set gives you everything you need to create 5 rock animals. You get the rocks, paint, stickers, brush and fixings needed, as well as the instructions. Another great way to keep the children quiet for a while so you can relax after all that turkey eating! This retails at £5.99 and is available now from Amazon.

11. The Hive: Rubee
Disney Junior’s “The Hive” is very popular in our house and they have a new range of plush toys out this Christmas featuring your favourite characters. This 6.5inch plush of Rubee is great for any little girls who watch the show. Its a good size too for cuddling, which is essential. She retails at £9.99 and can be found in all good toy retailers.

Stocking Filler ideas for Mum and Dad will be online soon!

 

 

Foxy Bingo

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Information | Posted on 26-09-2012

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As the rain batters down outside pretty much constantly at the moment the idea of going out in the evening might not really appeal. If its not the weather putting you off the issue of child care might be a problem. If you’re looking for a fun social activity that you can do in the warmth and comfort of your own home, check out Foxy Bingo.

Launched in 2005 Foxy Bingo is one of the biggest online bingo communities in the UK, and its also one of the friendliest. With regular promotions and busy online chat rooms not only are you getting a great social activity, but you might just end up winning a tidy some of money too.

When you Join and deposit £10 into your account Foxy Bingo will give you £20 absolutely free to use to buy tickets and join in the games. There are free games and weekly specials, and at the moment you can get a ticket to win £100K free. There are chat rooms to make friends and have a good natter with the other players, regular competitions to win prizes, and even an online magazine featuring celebrity interviews and winners stories.

Foxy Bingo is totally secure so your bank details are never in danger, and they also provide support if you ever think your gambling has got out of control. Whilst Foxy Bingo is meant to be fun there are also dangers when it comes to gambling, but the support and guidance is there if things ever get out of hand.

I’m not a regular gambler – largely because I never remember to buy a Lottery ticket – but I have played a little online bingo in my time. It is great fun. Not just the prospect of winning money – and we can all hope that it’ll be us – but also the excitement of the games and friendly chat at the same time. Its also great because you can play any time. So if the idea of heading out tonight doesn’t appeal, log on to Foxy Bingo – and if you do win, remember who sent you yeah?

Book Review: New Books For Children

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Book Review | Posted on 10-09-2012

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From Smellessence…

I’ve previously featured a title from Smellessence on here before – “Chocolate Chipped” – which though a brilliant book was written for children who suffer a bereavement. This Autumn sees the release of two more Smellessence titles which are more of an everyday read for your little ones. First we have “Theo“. Theo is a dog who has lost his sense of smell, and sets out on an adventure to find it. Theo visits some of his most favourite smelly places, and we get to go along too. The smells in this book are hugely realistic and I love the idea of having them included to add an extra dimension to the stories. Little Man loves this book because there is a dog on the front cover, but I’m sure once he understands the smelly factor he’ll love it for that too.
Next is “The Story Of The Famous Farter“. This book is not for the faint hearted! This book regales the story of artist Joseph Pujol who was a famous entertainer at the Moulin Rouge in the late 1890s. Pujol was famous for being a ‘Professional Farter’ – imagine writing that next to occupation! – who had the ability to fart on demand. The story is delightful and the drawings inside are so good and, along with the aroma, bring the story to life. This book is definitely educational, whilst being somewhat witty too. It is bound to appeal to all children who no doubt think farting is hilarious fun.

From Macmillan…

This year marks the 30th Birthday of the excellent “Dear Zoo” book. To commemorate a new title has been released – “Dear Zoo: Touch & Feel“. This is ideal for little children as each animal has a touchable part to it. There’s the lions mane, the frogs sticky feet, the snakes basket, and many more. Little Man has thoroughly enjoyed looking through this book. Whilst he sometimes lacks the patience to listen to you reading a story to him, he likes to be able to interact with his books when he’s looking at them by himself. Books with flaps, pop-ups, or touchable parts are big favourites, and this one is no different. I love this book too. I am a big fan of the original Rod Campbell classic and I do enjoy reading that to Little Man when he lets me, but this allows him to enjoy the story himself, even if he’s doesn’t know entirely what’s going on. A must for all “Dear Zoo” fans.

Majorca – The Fun Filled Destination For You And Your Children

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Guest Post, Holiday, Information, Sponsored Posts | Posted on 26-07-2012

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This goes out to all parents who have young children. Knowing that parenting is probably the most difficult task, and with that taken into consideration, you will find that many of the Villas in Majorca have been designed as a special get away for you and your kids. Bring along your children and enjoy the numerous fun filled activities in any one of the villas available for rentals. Kids are very specific about the environment and what they want; good thing is that there are many villas that have taken it upon themselves to provide the right environment for you and your child. You will easily get them to sleep and when awake, you will have a bucket list of activities to engage in.
There are various amenities such as swimming pools and other children games or outdoor activities your child will fall in love with. Changing environments is very much ideal for any child upbringing and your child will surely appreciate this fact. Most villas have relaxing areas, playground for children and of course something for you too. Get your child out there to make new friends, fall down, cry, play in the water and learn the adventure of life in Majorca home rentals.
Remember that you are not only limited to the beaches. Fun for you and your child can proceed as far as where you want to go and what you want to do. There are leisure centers, natural caves, manor homes, and tours. You can even request for tailor made tour just for you and your child. Since a lot of villas in Majorca have been designed keeping children in mind, there are also various security measures that have been put in place. For instance, where staircase and balconies, safety gates are have been installed to prevent access to children who may wander without your notice. Most of the home fixtures such as television units have been installed properly and despite their low position, they cannot trip or fall on your young child. Your child safeties have not been compromised and so, enjoy your holiday with 100% peace of mind.

Book Review: “Saved By Cake” by Marian Keyes

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Book Review | Posted on 17-07-2012

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Depression is a very real condition, though it remains somewhat of a taboo subject even in 2012. Beating it is of the utmost importance, but some days its just about making it through. Irish Author Marian Keyes is most famous for her witty and poignant fictional books, most of which are set in her native Ireland – which is one of the reasons I love them so much. What Marian is perhaps less well known for is her battles with depression and addictions, and the somewhat unorthodox method she found for battling her demons. Marian Keyes was “Saved By Cake”.

Yes, every girls favourite author has decided to turn her hand to baking, and with spectacular results. And don’t worry – there is still bucket loads of her infamous humour thrown in for good measure.

“Saved By Cake” is packed with over 80 recipes to help “bake yourself happy”. Now my love of baking and cookbooks is probably well known by now after my recent reviews of “Biscuit” and “A Passion For Baking”. What I particularly loved about this book though is Marian’s overriding message that its only baking. Its nothing to get stressed about, and if your batch of “B-List Chocolate Chip Cupcakes” are not identical and topped with professional looking icing its okay. Life is too short to worry about perfect baking – its meant to be fun after all! And if you only have 397ml of condensed milk and the recipe asks for 400ml DON’T PANIC!! The missing 3ml won’t make the slightest bit of difference.

There are a few things she is adamant about however. Full fat coke must be used in “Rita Anne’s Birthday Cola Cake”, edible blue glitter is an essential part of any good “Blueberry Mess” and plain vanilla biscuits should generally be cut into handbag or shoe shapes!

“Saved By Cake” combines a very honest insight into Marian’s battle with depression and the journey she went on with baking, with some great fun recipes which will soon become family favourites. This book is not just for those of you who may be suffering with depression yourselves, but I’d like to think it would put a smile on the face on anyone who is.

“Saved By Cake” is available now from all good book shops.

Product Review: ‘My World’ Puzzles from Gibsons

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Product Reviews | Posted on 06-03-2012

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I am a firm believer that learning should be fun, especially for young children. You don’t want to do anything to make them think learning is boring or tiresome as it could put them off for years to come. At almost 18 months my Little Man is learning all the time, every day. I’m helping and encouraging this learning with a new range of puzzles from Gibsons.

 

 

 

The ‘My World’ range of puzzles from Gibsons has been designed in association with child psychologist Dr Amanda Gummer. The puzzles are linked to the UK National Curriculum to help give your child that early insight into education and school. More importantly the puzzles are brightly coloured, tactile and perfect for little hands. The chunky pieces in the puzzles are made from recycled board and are nice and sturdy – they have been chewed by Little Man but have come to no harm.

We love the ‘My Farm Animals’ set. There are eight puzzles in the box with either 2 or 3 pieces so perfect first jigsaws. The 2 piece puzzles comprise an animals head and bottom, and the 3 piece include a speech bubble with an appropriate noise. What I particularly like is that the pieces are all interchangeable and fit to each other so you could have say a cows head and a dogs bottom saying “Baa!”. This is a lovely feature which allows your child to make up their own funny characters, and its all helping their motor skills when it comes to putting the pieces together. I also like the design of the box. On the lid is a perforated slit which you can easily push out. This allows your child to post the pieces back into the box when they’ve finished playing with them. Little Man found this feature almost more exciting than the jigsaws themselves! This set is aimed at 18months and upwards, so is getting a lot of use in our house at the moment.

Gibsons Range of puzzles for children can be found at all good toy outlets, and online at Amazon and John Lewis.

You can view their entire range online at that website, where you will also be able to find details of your nearest stockist.

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!!