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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: What’s Your Favourite City?

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Holiday, Information, Travel | Posted on 03-07-2013

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Do you have a favourite city? I do. I’ve recently come back from two nights in Dublin, my favourite city. The break was short, but much needed. Two nights on my own in the city I love . For the first time in a long time I was just me, not someones wife, or mother, and not a blogger or writer. I wasn’t working – well, I did have my phone on me so did do a bit of emailing but I wasn’t really working – I could just do what I wanted, when I wanted. And it got me thinking. What is it about this city that pulls me in and makes me want to return so many times?

I first went to Dublin in 1998. It was the first year of my A-levels and a friend of mine and I went on a day trip. We took the ferry from Liverpool with his mum and sister – a very early start if I recall. The pretense of the trip was a bit of a booze run, but I wanted to see the city. Back then the attraction for me was a boyband I liked at the time – I’m sure I’m not alone in being a Boyzone fan – not that I was expecting to bump into any of them. I’d seen the city on one of their videos and, being something of a fan of the Irish accent, wanted to go and see it for myself. I didn’t realise then that it would be the first of many trips I’ve taken over there in the last 15 years. The fact that my friend and I returned ourselves for a day trip a few months later should perhaps have been a hint though.

My first big trip to Dublin came at the end of 1999. The very end in fact. I went with a good friend from Norway to Dublin for New Year. The turn of the Millennium seemed as good a reason as any to go to Dublin, and this time I’d be staying for a few days as opposed to a few hours. The appeal had changed a little from that first trip. The music was still prominent – the new Irish boyband of Westlife were in fact responsible for my becoming friends with my co-traveller – but we were also off to see Temple Bar and all it had to offer. Lots of alcohol if I recall. My main advice is to never be in a city changing its national currency if you’re likely to be hungover. The change to the Euro occurred on January 1st 2000, and it was baffling.

From the year 2000 I have returned numerous times, at least once a year up until recently. I’ve been for New Years again, St Patricks Day, on trips with my Mum, my Norwegian friend, and in more recent times my husband and even his family. I have so many incredible memories that all stem from that city. Shopping till we literally couldn’t lift our suitcases with my crazy Norwegian friend, a friend I also accompanied to Sligo for the day in early 2002 when I nearly got hit by a car. The car was being driven by one of Westlife, so not all bad. Watching a St Patricks Day parade before a night out which largely included green drinks and some very dubious walking. My last trip to Dublin with her occurred in 2008, just a few months after I was married. We went to Croke Park for a huge Westlife concert and that was an unforgettable night in itself. I returned again on my first solo trip just a few weeks later to do some genealogical research for my new in laws, or at least that was the reason I gave at the time.

River Liffey Dublin City Ireland Hapenny Bridge

My last visit to Dublin for many years was in 2009. My husband was turning 30 and his younger twin brothers were turning 21. Clearly a cause for celebration and their parents had the genius idea of going to Dublin to do it. Needless to say the younger members of the party spent a lot of time in and around Temple Bar for the few days we were there, and I was a bit like Tourist Information having been quite as many times as I had.

From 1998 to 2009 I went to Dublin at least once a year every year. A cycle I planned to continue, but pregnancy and Little Man’s arrival soon put a stop to that. Returning this last week was a pleasure. I spent two full days in the city and for the first time didn’t step one foot into Temple Bar. I frequented Grafton Street and Henry Street – shops galore – and spent a delightful two hours sat in the sunshine of St Stephens Green reading a book. I ate leisurely breakfasts in cafes – Bewley’s Grafton Street is a MUST. I rode the hop-on hop-off bus around the city, taking in the sights, hiding from the rain, and remembering great times. The bus is something I have done every time I’ve visited. Its such fun and so convenient. The numerous buskers – of varying skills – that litter the main shopping streets are always a hit, whether they are singing, playing music, or attempting to look like statues. The highlight of my latest trip was an evening out with a good friend. The last time I saw him was during my second visit of 2008 so it had been far too long. You wont be surprised to learn he has a musical connection to my story, having been in an Irish boyband himself several years ago.

Dublin Grafton Street Performers Buskers Statues

My reasons for going to Dublin have changed since that first trip 15 years ago, but my love of the city hasn’t. I wish I could put my finger on what it is about the city that makes me return year upon year. I just recall feeling at home there even back then on my first visit, and that feeling was as strong this week as ever before. Will I be going back? You better believe it. Trips to Dublin will be something I always do, and I hope to take Little Man with me soon. Yes, I may well venture out of the city on my next trip, but I suspect Dublin will always be at the heart of it.

What’s YOUR favourite city?

Mosh & Wash with Persil

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Information | Posted on 18-10-2012

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Music is a big part of my Little Man’s life. We do Sing & Sign classes where, as well as learning valuable sign language, he also dances about to music. He also enjoys listening to music in the car when we’re driving around, and also at home. He’s always up for a bit of a dance and looks a delightful mix of adorable and comical when doing it.

Research recently commissioned by Persil has found that music is crucial to keeping your child happy and helping develop their creativity. It also helps children work together, thus boosting their confidence and their social skills. Because of this Persil launched a “Get Messy With Music” campaign this summer with the help of Sophie Ellis Bexter to encourage musical play. This can be singing nursery rhymes constantly, playing an instrument over and over, or even something as simple as beating a saucepan with a wooden spoon.

Persil sent us a “Mosh & Wash” kit this summer to help Little Man hone his musical skills. I must confess to being a little nervous when I pulled a set of wooden drumsticks from the box but after a brief demonstration by me, Little Man took hold and began “playing” them with gusto. We’ve managed to limit his beatings to either an upturned empty plastic trug or an empty chocolate tub and not furniture or windows. Thankfully he’s also resisted the urge to hit me or Daddy with them” The pack also contained face paints and a plain tshirt so we dress him up as a rockstar. There was also a plastic tub and some elastic bands to make a guitar.

With him only being 2 we’ve limited his musical outlet to the drum sticks for now, but I imagine he’ll be strumming away on a makeshift guitar before very long. If I can get him to sit still for longer than 2 minutes I might also try him out with the face paints!

Making music with your children can be a great fun activity, but as with most things it can get a little messy. But don’t worry – there’s always Persil to help clean everyone up!

Product Review: Leap Frog Count & Scan Shopper

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Product Reviews | Posted on 11-02-2012

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I first came across the Leap Frog brand at last summers Cybermummy Conference. At that time my Little Man was about 8 months old so wasn’t really “playing” with toys, more chewing on/poking them. Now he’s nearly 16 months old and has recently begun interacting with toys like he understands them a bit more, so I thought it was time for some Leap Frog in his life.

Introducing the Leap Frog Count & Scan Shopper!!

The Count & Scan Shopper is a new addition to the Leap Frog range. It consists of a handheld scanner, a shopping list and nine food items which are all featured on the list. Everything packs away neatly in a cute green bag-for-life too. The scanner unit has three settings on it – Count, Colour and Music – and each item produces a different sound or phrase when scanned. You can also scan any other item in your home for one of short cycle of additional phrases. The Count & Scan Shopper teaches your child colours, counting individual items, matching items to a list, and the all important ability to shop!

I love this item and was very keen on getting one when I found it on the Leap Frog website. I like the clever way the scanner recognises the list and all the items on it. I like how each item is numbered appropriately for how many of each thing there are in that item (6 eggs, 2 peppers, 3 cartons of juice). Some of the phrases get a little monotonous but you’ll be pleased to hear that there is a volume level option on the scanner. The fact that everything packs away neatly in the bag-for-life is also a bonus.

The Count & Scan Shopper is designed for children aged 18months to 5 years, so my Little Man is perhaps a bit young for it just yet. Whilst he doesn’t understand what the scanner is telling him he has learnt to scan the items and he can pack them all away, and unpack them again, with ease. In fact just putting them in and out of the bag can keep him amused for ages!! He also carries the bag around with him – nice to get him in training for shopping!!

The Count & Scan Shopper is available now from the Leap Frog Store at the great price of £14.99