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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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#TigerGrowAlong Round-Up

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Gardening | Posted on 19-08-2015

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Followers of my Instagram account will no doubt have spotted a few gardening related images popping up recently alongside the saturation of photos of my gorgeous boys. Well I was asked to take part in the #TigerGrowAlong with Tiger Sheds. A group of bloggers were sent a small gardening kit – a pair of glover, a trowel, some compost, some seeds and a gorgeous wooden box to plant them in.

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We were tasked with growing the seeds – Baby Leaf Lettuce – alongside each other and along with Tiger Sheds themselves, and to take weekly photos of our progress. So weeks ones photo was the kit itself, whilst week two was slightly less excitingly a photo of compost.

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To be honest this photo was taken about 24 hours after I’d planted the seeds so I wasn’t expecting great things. Week three however did show some progress.

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By the time week four came around there was very little difference so I must confess to waiting till about week six to take the final photograph – largely because it rained for most of week five and  I wasn’t keen on drowning.

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Looks delicious doesn’t it? And yes, the sun had finally returned to Sussex. I had great fun growing along with Tiger Sheds. The boys were less keen to join in unfortunately, with Little Dude rather more interested in the gravel you can see behind the box in the final photo. And lettuce isn’t particularly high on their list of things to eat either. Once the lettuce has all been picked and eaten though I will be reusing the box and seeing if I can’t encourage a bit of child friendly grow-your-own beyond the strawberries we already do.

Any suggestions?

#Review: Elho Garden Products

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Home & Lifestyle | Posted on 15-07-2015

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The weather is certainly hotting up outside so now is the ideal time to spend some time outdoors, whether it be in the park, at the beach or simply in your own back garden. Little Man has never really been much of an outdoors boy. Sure he likes going to the park, or walking through the woods at the back of our house, but he’s never really been one to initiate these trips and would rather be in the house. He would play Minecraft twenty four seven if we let him. Little Dude is the complete opposite. He’s all about the playroom certainly, but he often goes in there and points at the door or the windows into the garden. Given his chance he’d spend all day crawling around the garden, playing with gravel and attempting to eat snails. Such a pleasant child.

This summer I’m keen to spend lots of time outdoors with my two boys as Little Man will be heading off to school in September. I don’t want it to be a summer of endless TV and Minecraft. I have several activities up my sleeve, but enticing the biggest boy out into the garden is one of them. Now there’s not a huge amount of room in our garden now we have the conservatory so its all about making the most of the space we have. The first logical step in getting him out into the garden for me was to get him gardening. I didn’t want to just give him a square of a flower bed to grow what he wanted in, so I decided to utilise what plants we already had which he was interested in.

Little Man has always been a big fruit eater, and one of his summer highlights and guaranteed ways to coax him into the outdoors in the fruit we have growing outside. About a third of one bed is overrun with raspberries which are not movable, but we had a couple of terracotta troughs with strawberry plants in which seemed perfect for him to be in charge of. The team over at Elho sent us a couple of great items to help brighten up the darker corners of our garden and to encourage the children out there, and one of them was absolutely perfect for Little Man to grow his strawberries in.

The Green Basics Grow Table XXL is designed to be used by people who can’t bend down to garden, or for on balconies, or, as in our case, for children. When I first saw this I thought it would make an excellent water table for the garden, or could even be used as a sandpit if I hadn’t recently made one for the boys, but at the base of the legs there are drainage holes. Logical enough for gardening, but it would have been nice if these had been optional and there had been those push through thin bits of plastic you get on some pots and baskets.

This is a great height for Little Man, as he can happily peer in the top through the clear lid – available separately – and also help tend his plants. And he can also easily do his most important task, which is pick the fruit when its ready. Much excitement today when we went out there and he saw bright red strawberries which he was able to pick and of course eat before he’d even got back inside.

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The grow table was the ideal size for our four existing strawberry plants. These were pretty big and well established but they fit nicely in the table with space for growth and lots of room for fruit to form. The clear lid is brilliant and something I would highly recommend. It protects the contents from the suns ray and frost during winter, provides the chance for us to look at how things are doing without too much disturbance, and has adjustable vents in the top.

This would make a great planter for all kinds of things, but I think its best use would be lots of grow-your-own foods. I see it full of salad plants, or lots of herb plants. You could even use it as somewhere to start off larger plants and then use it without the lid once they are established. A great functional piece, and I love the bright colours that are available.

Elho also sent us an Easy Hanger Basket. I was immediately drawn to this style of hanging basket as hanging it is so simple. It has two large hooks on the back which allow it to be easily hung on a fence, some railings, or on a balcony. During the insane weather and storms of Winter 2014 we lost six of the eight fence panels in our back garden. Thank god the bottom of the garden has a brick wall! Once these panels were finally replaced my Dad fitted two lengths of decking horizontally along the panels on one side where the wind tends to blow into just to help reinforce it. Its done a brilliant job, but I wanted to make use of the planks with some form of hanging basket. The basket from Elho works perfectly on this, so well in fact that I’ll be getting a couple more baskets soon for further along!

WP_20150624_003The left hand side of our garden is pretty dark. Due to the fences, our neighbours ridiculous trees – don’t get me started… – and other houses the estate it never gets any sun. It’s the perfect spot for the boys sand table as they are safe from the sun there, and its where we’ve placed our companion seat. At the bottom corner my Mum created a stumpery for me which is full of lovely ferns and hostas and other shade appreciating things. Its all very overcast with flashes of green, so I wanted to pop a basket above it to grow something with a bit of colour.

That level just about catches a few rays during the day so the bright pink basket stands out perfectly. I popped down to the local garden centre and bought some white trailing fuchsia’s. I think the simple white stands out nicely against the pink basket, and the whole thing adds a great spot of colour to an otherwise dark area.

Both products have done their job perfectly. Adding a splash of colour to the garden and coaxing my indoors boy to head outside, even if it is in the hunt for more food. I love the Elho range and hope to add more pieces to my garden over the summer. It’s all so bright and fun, sturdy and child proof, and the fact its made from recycled material means its eco friendly too. Fantastic brand and fantastic products. Check them out now!

A Place To Enjoy My Garden

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Home & Lifestyle, Product Reviews | Posted on 26-07-2013

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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 and vegetables are being grown in bed, pots and baskets – basically anywhere I can squeeze them in. There’s also a nice little shed to store all our bits and pieces in at the bottom corner. We have two water butts to help save water, though these have run dry in the last few weeks. Our tortoise Oscar has his own raised enclosure which includes plants which he’s allowed to eat. And then there’s Little Man’s things. A sand pit picnic bench, a play house, and a multitude of toys are scattered everywhere in between. Its a very busy garden and one which I like to spend some time in when the weather allows. About eighty percent of our garden enjoys sunshine, some of it for most of the day and other parts are more dappled. Down our left hand side however there is a strip running along the fence which gets very little sun in the summer, and none at all during the winter months. Complete shade does not allow the most interesting of plant growing, though I do have few token Hosta’s just to brighten it up a little. This stretch of the garden has seen little to no work done to it since we moved in back in 2011 so I thought it was about time I did something to it.

It struck me that this would be the ideal place to sit and look at my garden, what with the all the plant action going on on the other side. Its also where Little Man’s sand pit picnic table is, so sitting near there seemed sensible. It would also provide me with a nice shaded spot to rest during the summer when I’m pottering around out there, or somewhere to sit and watch Little Man attempt – and more often than not succeed – in wearing his Daddy out. Whilst we have a couple of small deckchairs a bench seemed a more permanent feature, and would also provide us with more outdoor seating when friends and family visit. I spent ages looking at benches online and in local garden centres, and had decided that I wanted a companion seat. A nice two seater bench with integrated table to put a much deserved cup of tea on, or an evening glass of wine. There was a huge choice out there and it was all getting a bit overwhelming to be honest, but luckily for me the team at Garden XL got in touch after reading my gardening feature in association with Brit Mums. Garden XL have a great selection of garden furniture of all types, and it was there I found my perfect companion seat.

The Bracken Outdoors Kent Companion Seat is made from durable hardwood and features two well sized seats and a table which has two shelves. There is a hole in the table to put a parasol in – something I’m now trying to choose – and the seats are angled slightly so you’re facing in to each other, making it a very sociable seat. Daddy and Little Man set to building it whilst I was taking part in the #MMSkyDive last weekend, but thankfully they took some photos and told me all about their experience.
contents of companion seat box and screws and instructionsThe enormous box contained all the pieces of wood needed to make the seat. Daddy was VERY pleased that there were so few pieces as he’d been worried that he would have to fasten every slat on for the table and seats individually. Not ideal when you’re being “helped” by a toddler. As you can see the screws were all provided too, along with Alan keys to fasten them with. The instructions were incredibly simple, with just three steps needed. In fact the instructions were SO easy that Little Man could follow them.

little man building bench

Obviously under careful supervision from Daddy at ALL times.

In no time at all they’d completed the companion seat, and I am thrilled with it. Best to mention that Daddy did fasten the table to the seat incorrectly the first time so they were angled apart, but that’s just him being a bit daft.

completed companion seat from garden xl

Now clearly the seat isn’t going to live in the centre of the grass, but we need to get some paving flags laid before we can put it in its final position. For now it is in fact sat on the garden path. I am pleased to announce that several cups of tea have been enjoyed from the comfort of the bench, and Little Man rather enjoys sitting there to eat his afternoon chocolate biscuits. And being the ingenious boy that he is, he also found a way to utilise both the seat AND the empty box it came it.

car ramp made from cardboard box

Who knew this would make the perfect ramp for his cars? Believe me this is hours of fun, and with a bit of help from me I can still sit down and enjoy a cup of tea whilst he’s playing.

You can find this gorgeous companion seat on the Garden XL website now, along with lots of other items of garden furniture as well as barbecues, wellington boots, and other products for outdoor life. You can also find them on Twitter @GardenXL.

#KidsGrowWild Gardening Challenge

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Information | Posted on 19-06-2013

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“This post is an entry for BritMums’ #KidsGrowWild Challenge”

One of the best things about our house is that we have a garden. Having spent years living in flats with Hubby we thought it was important to get a house with a garden once we had Little Man. Plenty of space for him to run about in, as well as somewhere to put the all important outdoor toys! What I also love about having a garden is that I have space to grow things. I’ve got lots of flowers and plants growing at the moment, as well as a selection of fruit and vegetables. Our garden even has a special miniature garden for Oscar our tortoise in it!

Little Man isn’t a particularly keen gardener. He’d much rather dig in his sand pit than in the ground, but I wanted to give him his own little patch to grow a few flowers in and encourage him into gardening, as well as teaching him about seeds and growing things. The #KidsGrowWild Challenge from Brit Mums in association with Money Supermarket seemed the ideal opportunity. We were sent a very cute gardening set which included a small bag, a watering can, gloves, tools and all important seeds.

I’ve got him a tub all of his own and in it we are going to plant some of the seeds he was sent and he can be in charge of watering that tub and watching it grow. Watering is one activity I can get him interested in, so I’m thinking this is the best way to get him started. He is also a fan of picking the fruit when its ready, so perhaps I need to make him Chief Fruit Picker. Fingers crossed the raspberries and strawberries will be ready soon. Now if the weather can just stay nice for a while we might have a better chance of getting out there and gardening together!

Gardening: A Pond For Your Children

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Information, Sponsored Posts | Posted on 03-04-2013

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The Easter holidays are upon us and its FINALLY looking a bit more Spring like outside. This break is a perfect opportunity to get the children outside and give them a project, or at least something to help you with. As a child I was lucky enough to have a pond in my back garden. We had two at one house – a large one for fish and a smaller nature pond which we had frogs in. I spent hours out there in the garden watching the frogs and you could often find me sat there with one in my hand. They were fascinating creatures and it was great fun to have them in my own garden. The larger pond was brilliant too – it house several large fish and lots of plants. During the summer I was hardly ever indoors, instead choosing to spend my time running about the garden spotting fish and frogs in our ponds.

Building your own pond might seem a daunting task, but there are some great supplies out there to help make it easier. Its also a great garden task to get the children involved with. If you’re making a nature pond you just need a large hole, a liner and some plants and weeds. If you’re planning a pond for fish you’ll need more equipment, the most expensive of which is probably going to be the pump. The pump will make the water flow, often with a fountain or water fall, and that keeps it clear. Whilst it is the priciest part of your pond, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune if you know where to shop. One of the best places to get your pump would be Swallow Aquatics, who stock a range of high quality and good value pumps for your garden pond. Swallow Aquatics are leading pond and aquatic specialists in the UK with stores in Essex, Norfolk and Kent, as well as a easy to navigate online store. They sell everything you need to create your own garden pond, from liners, pumps and plants, to lighting, fish food, and books.

Visiting your local Swallow Aquatics is a great fun family day out. They have a huge selection of fish and underwater creatures on display so your children can choose which ones they want in their pond. There’s also supplies for the family cats, dogs and other small animals, as well as a well stocked reptile centre for any snakes, lizards or chelonian you might have. I only wish I’d known about Swallow Aquatics when I was getting my tortoise recently! Some stores also share their sites with garden centres and coffee shops – check for your local store here – where you can look around the plants and grab a cup of tea and a cake before you head home to get to work on your new garden feature.

Building your own pond not only brings a great focal point to your garden and provides your children with something to do this Easter holidays, but it also provides long term educational opportunities as the year and the seasons progress. Its a great chance for your children to spend time outdoors learning about all the creatures that inhabit the pond, from fish and frogs to all the little mini beasts and insects. I’m sure Little Man would get lots of enjoyment from a pond. Maybe next year.