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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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Review: Meon Springs Yurt Village

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Holiday, Product Reviews | Posted on 26-03-2013

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You might be thinking about your summer holidays at the moment, especially if you’re currently under a few feet of snow. If you are wondering where to take the children this year why not think about staying in the UK and heading down to Hampshire to try camping with a difference. Now I’m not someone who likes camping – I need a real bed, some form of heating, the odd creature comfort. I remember camping several years ago with Hubby in Scotland and spending just two nights in the tent and the other three in hotels. But when I came across Meon Springs I wondered if perhaps this was the camping for me. A compromise between sleeping on the floor under canvas, and sleeping in a fancy hotel or self catered cottage.

Meon Springs is nestled in the midst of the South Downs and they offer a very unique holiday experience. At Meon Springs you sleep in a Yurt. A Mongolian Yurt to be precise. What makes a Yurt a great form of camping for me is that it comes with real beds inside, has a wooden burner, and has an electrical supply. Its still very basic, but its much fancier than a normal tent. We were very lucky to be invited to spend a few days at the site just outside Petersfield by Jamie who runs the “village”. It would be Little Man’s first camping experience, and I’m happy to report that it wont be his last.

We were staying in “Halnaker” one of five Yurts on site. The Yurt came with a proper lockable front door, a double bed, two single beds, a wood burner and small electric heater, a kettle, a safe and a couple of lights. There were also spare plugs for things like mobile phone chargers or a radio. Everything was ready for us when we arrived, the electric heater had obviously been on for a few hours and there was a good stock pile of wood, paper and matches sat in front of the wood burner. The wood burner was positioned in the centre of the Yurt and had a chimney going up through the skylight. We stayed during a very cold week – thankfully without any snow – and once that fire was up and burning the Yurt was very cosy.

On site there was also a large brick building which housed toilets, showers – always dispensing piping hot water – and the affectionately named “Yurtery”. This was the place to go if you wanted to cook something that couldn’t be made on the Yurts hot plate or barbecue. The Yurtery had a fridge for every Yurt, each with a freezer box, and two cookers. There was plenty of storage for any food you brought and enough plates, pots, pans, cutlery and utensils to go around several times. I think we counted 6 graters during one rummage through a cupboard! The Yurtery also has plenty of seats around two tables to eat your meals at, with a couple of high chairs in there should you need one. Travel cots can also be requested for your Yurt if needs be. At the other end of the Yurtery is a small lounge like area, with sofas and a coffee table and enough toys, games and books to keep any child happy for days. For Little Man it was like Christmas when he walked in for the first time and immediately tracked down a Buzz Lightyear Action Figure which he proceeded to carry around with him for the duration of our stay. Every breakfast, lunch and dinner was eaten in Buzz’s company, and I did begin to worry that he would never leave to go home without him.

Outside each Yurt you will find a water tap bringing fresh water from the sites own spring, as well as a storage box for wood from the nearby wood shed. A large decking area at the back of each Yurt holds a picnic table comfortably, and there are other tables dotted outside the Yurtery. You’ll also find a very large sandpit for the children to play in next to a logged seating area and large fire pit.

As I said we stayed for a few nights in early March when the weather was a tad unpredictable and generally chilly. We were the only people on site at that point so early in the season – they’d reopened for 2013 just a week before – so had the run of the place. I can happily say it was one of the best places we’d been on holiday for a long time. The facilities were basic but clean and Yurtery had a vast array of items so you could easily cook anything and have the right tools for the job. The toys were wide ranging and plentiful so even if the site was full there would be enough to keep a dozen children content. There was even WiFi for any urgent emails. The Yurt itself was brilliant. A roaring fire, thick duvets and plenty of spare blankets if needed ensured we were all warm and cosy. I imagine in summer it would be great to put the children to bed and then settle on the decking outside your Yurt with a glass of wine, as opposed to sitting in silence inside the Yurt as it was too cold outside to think about going anywhere else. Little Man slept remarkably well considering, going to sleep between 8.30 and 9 each night and not getting up until 7 despite the daylight streaming through the skylight above him. He thoroughly enjoyed his adventure in the Yurt, and I’m sure he’s as keen as we are to make a return trip. Wellington boots are a must pack if you go to Meon Springs, especially at this time of year, but a well placed “Welly Box” inside the Yurt keeps the place clean.

Meon Springs is a working farm and there are staff going about their work all the time. You can visit the cows being milked at 5pm any evening, and you can also have a go at fly fishing if you wish. We bumped into Jamie a couple of times during our visit and he was genuinely lovely. He provided information on things to do and places to go in the area, and was easily accessible if you had a problem at any point. You might be thinking that the Yurts look a little familiar, as though you’ve seen them before. If you have small children and are familiar with CBeebies, then you have probably seen them on Something Special. Justin Fletcher was a VERY popular visitor to the site a few years ago as I’m sure you can all imagine.

A stay at Meon Springs Yurt Village will provide you with a fun and unique holiday experience that will provide you and your children with memories for years to come. I look forward to returning myself during slightly warmer weather, and hopefully getting the opportunity to enjoy a quiet drink on the decking in the evening.

To find out more about Meon Springs, the facilities, to check availability and to book yourself a holiday, go to their website. You can also find them on Twitter @MeonSprings.

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!