A birthday at Waddesdon Manor

Last Saturday was my birthday, not one I’ve been looking forward to really!  In my head I’m still in my mid twenties, unfortunately the mirror tells a different tale.  Having seen so many great blog posts about adventures are various National Trust properties I’d decided that it was time to re-join and have been waiting for some weeks for our membership pack to arrive.  As half term arrived and still nothing arrived in the post, a quick tweet and a few emails later, a really helpful member of staff emailed me a couple of temporary passes.  So last Saturday so Monkey and I spend a birthday at Waddesdon Manor.

Before Monkey arrived, Waddesdon Manor was a regular haunt for Daddy P and I on a Sunday afternoon.  I love the feel of the place, reminiscent of a French Chateau.  We’d taken Monkey when he was really little, but had let our membership expire when I decided not to return to work.

A birthday at Waddesdon Manor

So it was lovely to spend a birthday at Waddesdon Manor with a 4 year old Monkey.  Lots of places to explore, lots of fun to be had.  You can visit the house, I have done before, but decided that with Monkey in tow, the grounds would be a much better idea.

There were flowers to investigate, fountains to admire, an aviary to spot exotic birds in, tractors to discover (Waddesdon was a big hit), before running off to find the adventure playground. We stopped for a drink and a piece of cake – it was a birthday at Waddesdon Manor after all!

Then we were off to explore the Nature Trail, a new discovery, and somewhere I can see us revisiting a lot over the coming months.  As you all know, we love mini beasts here!

We spent a birthday at Waddesdon Manor having a few adventures, exploring and just being outdoors, having fun.  Daddy P was finishing work early in the afternoon so we decided to leave a few of the walks for another day, and headed home.

It was lovely to be back at Waddesdon Manor, I’d forgotten how much I liked it.  It was also really nice to see it through Monkey’s eyes.  He really loved the nature trail and the adventure playground (who would have thought I’d ever type that!!).

Our trip out, blew away the cobwebs, see you soon Waddesdon Manor, we will be back!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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London Pet Show 2014 – giveaway

London Pet Show 2014 All aboard for the London Pet Show 2014 which will be held on 17th-18th May at Earls Court One in London. This is a must for any pet lover out there.  Watch the SuperDogs Live competition hosted by Ben Fogle or see Rabbits Show Jumping!

London Pet Show 2014 London Pet Show 2014

All pets are catered for at the London Pet Show 2014, whether it be dogs, cats, reptiles, ponies or gold-fish.  You might also get to see Steve Backshall as he introduces a number of more exotic animals to the London Pet Show 2014.

London Pet Show 2014Zoflora will be sponsoring World of Cats at the London Pet Show 2014.  If you visit their stand at the show, (C332) you’ll be able to pick up a free Zoflora sample, have a cartoon character made of your beloved pet and get some handy tips for keeping your home clean and smelling fresh!

The lovely team at Zoflora are generously offering one of my readers the chance to win a family ticket to the London Pet Show 2014 (worth £54), plus a lovely goodie bag of products from Zoflora, Addis and Sarah Smiths!

London Pet Show 2014The prize bundle will consist of: 3 x Zoflora fragrances (to be determined by Zoflora),  1 x Zoflora canvas bag, 1 x pen, 1 x Addis Superdry Plus Mop, 1 x spill kit and 1 x Sarah Smith Ecowipes, plus 1 x London Pet Show 2014 Family ticket for 2 adults and 2 children (worth £54) Please note travel is not included. The ticket can be used on either Saturday 17th May or Sunday 18th May.

For a chance to win this great prize complete the rafflecopter below – good luck!

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Terms and conditions:

(Please note that all entries will be checked against comments for validation).

Only the first step of the Rafflecopter is mandatory, all other steps are optional.  Only one entry per person is allowed (however, you can tweet with the bonus click entry daily as well to increase your chances).

This giveaway is for UK residents only.

Once the Rafflecopter picks a winner, I will check if the winner has done what was requested and I will contact them. If the winner has not responded with full contact details by 11th May, then we cannot guarantee the LPS tickets to be delivered on time.

The giveaway will close on 4th May 2014 at midnight.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

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Didriksons will be keeping Monkey dry

Didriksons will be keeping Monkey dry

Monkey is a typical boy, sees a muddy puddle and he’s got to jump in it!  We love exploring nature and going on adventures and having reliable waterproof clothing is vital.  We’re really pleased that Didriksons will be keeping Monkey dry from now on.

Didriksons will be keeping Monkey dryDidriksons will be keeping Monkey dry with his lovely new Pirin Kids set in Coal Black.  He thinks he looks like a Fireman now, so it’s gone down rather well!

Monkey has been putting his new waterproofs to the test over the last few weeks.  Admittedly, as we’ve actually had good weather, the trousers haven’t been needed.  But looking at the weather forecast for the rest of Easter, they might soon be invaluable.

Didriksons is a Swedish company, started in 1913 by Julius and Hanna Didrikson manufacturing oil garments.  They’ve been going from strength to strength ever since and now produce outdoor clothing for all the family.

As regular readers know, I used to work in Export Sales, and am still in contact with friends I made through work.  One such friend in Sweden, saw a photo of Monkey on Facebook wearing his new Didriksons jacket and commented ….

Can strongly recommend Didrikson, our kids have had their clothes since they were 1 year and have never been disappointed.

I’d already been really impressed with the quality of the clothing, and to hear those words from my friend S, who has been using Didriksons for over 10 years, only reinforced my opinion.

Didriksons will be keeping Monkey dry as the Pirin Kids Set is made with the Didriksons STORMsystem which offers 100% true waterproofness, is windproof and breathable.

All our products with STORMsystem are made to withstand the harshest weather conditions and will keep you dry from the outside elements.

The hood is adjustable and detachable and when detached the fastenings fold neatly inside the collar of the coat.  There are great reflective strips on the coat, front and back as well as on the trousers.  I love the fact that the trousers have a fleece lined elasticated waistband for comfort.  The cuffs, hem and trouser waist are all adjustable, there are glove hooks and a hidden inside coat pocket (AKA stick storage facility!).

Monkey loves his new waterproofs, we ordered the 110 size, which has come up quite large on him at the moment.  But Didriksons have this great way of extending the life of their waterproof suits for children with their exclusive ‘Extend Size’.  They appreciate how quickly kids grow!  Inside the coat sleeves and trouser legs are removable seams which extend the size of the garments.  A great idea!

Didriksons will be keeping Monkey dry DSCN2062

This suit is priced at around £80, which I think makes for a great investment.  It is going to last, it’s well made, Monkey feels comfortable in it and wants to wear it!  The ‘Extend Size’ gives us even longer use.  Didriksons will be keeping Monkey dry for some time to come and we’ll be doing a follow-up review later in the year.  Watch this space!

To find your nearest stockist, just check out the Didriksons website.

disclaimer:  we were sent this item for the purpose of review, our comments remain our own honest opinions.

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Mia Tui bag – a review

Mia Tui bagI have a number of obsessions; shoes, bracelets and bags!  Now the whole bag thing changed the moment that Monkey arrived on the scene.  Functional became the priority, and none of my lovely bags would fit all the baby bits I needed.  I wish I’d discovered Mia Tui bags four years ago!

Now Monkey is older, I don’t need space for nappies, creams and teething gel.  But I find that we still have loads of stuff to take with us.  I end up with a bag and Monkey moans about carrying a back pack.  Something needed to change.  I was thrilled when I was asked to review a Mia Tui bag; specifically the Sofia, which is one of their smaller handbag size bags.  I opted for Steele Blue, which is one of the 8 colour options for this style of bag.

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Now, when you think handbag, we’re not talking about a tiny little bag.  Trust me, this bag is a tardis with a zip!

The Mia Tui Sofia, like the other Mia Tui ranges comes with loads of features and additional items.  When I received my bag, it arrived in a pink reuseable bag, great to fold inside the main Sofia bag, ready for a shopping trip!

The Sofia comes with a strap that fixes through metal loops at each end of the bag so you can wear the Mia Tui bag over your shoulder if wanted.  This will be great when I go down to London for BritMums in June.  I can travel across London hands free. When I’m not using it I can keep it in the zip pocket on the back of the bag.  The matching clutch bag with hand and shoulder straps will come in really useful too, when I want to socialise in the evening.

One thing that caught my eye was the clear internal bag with hand strap.  This is just the right size to be accepted through airport security and will be much used in future trips to my parents in Spain.

The Mia Tui Bag has an insulated bottle holder with a difference.  Yes, it will fit a milk formula bottle, it will also fit a water bottle for Monkey, it will also fit a bottle of wine for Mummy!  The wine bottle does actually fit, so you can zip the bag too.  Again, ideal for when I’m socialising, rather than just being Mum!

An absolute must for me since my Mia Tui bag arrived is the key clip.  I love it!! I am forever losing my keys in the depths of my bag.  I’m really struggling with hormone issues at the moment, and I’ve been known to get really stressed out, I’ve lost my keys!  No, they are there lurking just out of reach.  This key clip was made for me, goodbye stress!

The Phone pocket is just the right size for my iPhone 5 and I now have a handy place to keep my pens and crayon stick for Monkey.

My Mia Tui bag has been everywhere with us these last few weeks.  It can easily fit a change of clothes for Monkey, his water bottle, my diary, phone, keys, pens, crayons, colouring book, snacks, fruit, sat nav, camera, guide books and there is still room, and with the over-arm straps it’s still really comfy to carry.

My Sofia bag is my new best friend.  It’s been to Wiltshire, Derbyshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire!  It’s been to the cinema with a mega bag of toffee popcorn, it’s been shopping with me, it’s going out for drinks tomorrow night.

Mia Tui bag(Excuse my god awful expression in this photo!  Turning 46 has been a bit of a shock to the system!)

It’s a great, functional bag, which actually looks nice! It doesn’t look like a changing bag, although it could easily be used as one.  With dimensions of 35cm w x 13cm d x 27cm h, I can easily use it as a cabin bag.  The Mia Tui bag is waterproof inside and out and made of ultra soft faux leather, with a lovely bright pink PU coated nylon interior.

The only downside I can find is that the Steele Blue is a little more grey than blue, I’m nitpicking aren’t I!

 

Priced at £52.00 I can thoroughly recommend this bag.  It will be getting a lot of use both with Mummy time and Me time, just the sort of bag I need.

disclaimer:  we were sent this item for the purpose of review, our comments remain our own, honest opinions

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Chocolate Easter Nest Challenge with Salter

Chocolate Easter Nest Challenge with Salter We love baking here as you all know, and we recently asked to take part in the Chocolate Easter Nest Challenge with Salter.  How could Monkey and I resist?!  We were sent some great new gadgets to help us with our task, and off we went!

Chocolate Easter Nest Challenge with Salter

Our Chocolate Easter Nest Challenge with Salter was going to be so easy, thanks to my new GEO Electronic Kitchen Scale, Salter Contour Electronic Timer and the pair of Heston Blumenthal Precision Multipurpose Spatulas.

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To make the Chocolate Easter Nests we needed:

Chocolate Easter Nest Challenge with Salter

 

225g of plain chocolate, broken into pieces
2 tbsp golden syrup
50g butter
75g Cornflakes
36 mini eggs

You will also need 12 cupcake cases to line a fairy cake tin.

 

Once we weighed out our ingredients, we melted the chocolate, golden syrup and butter in a bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water.  We also made sure that the base of the bowl wasn’t touching the water.

Once the mixture started to melt I used the silicon spatula to stir the ingredients together. When it was all melted together I removed the bowl from the heat and folded in the cornflakes.  It did take me a bit of time to get used to the shape of the spatula handle, but they worked really well.

Then for the fun part – Monkey put some of the mixture in each cupcake case and added some mini eggs.  Yes, he could have made them look more like nests, but he was in his element.  Having fun, was the important part.

We then set our timer for 60 minutes and put the tray of goodies in the fridge to set.

Chocolate Easter Nest Challenge with Salter Chocolate Easter Nest Challenge with Salter

Chocolate Easter Nest Challenge with Salter Chocolate Easter Nest Challenge with Salter

After an hour, there was only one thing to do …… Enjoy!  They really did taste good.

Chocolate Easter Nest Challenge with Salter Chocolate Easter Nest Challenge with Salter

We had great fun with the Chocolate Easter Nest Challenge with Salter.  Monkey got to make some great Easter goodies and I got to use some great new kitchen gadgets.

I really like my new scales, the illuminated display is very easy to read.  The stainless steel is actually fingerprint proof – a bonus with a 4 year old Monkey assistant chef! There’s an option to measure liquids in millilitres or fluid ounces as well as weights in grammes and ounces.  The unit comes complete with 3 x AAA batteries and is available from John Lewis for £35.00.

The Heston Blumenthal silicon spatulas are a really unusual shape and are double ended, they really do work well.  They are currently on special offer over on Amazon for £13.99 as you can see below.

I used to have a wind up kitchen timer, it was rubbish!  It didn’t always work, so I started to rely on the timer on my phone.  Now I have my new Salter Electronic Timer, life is much easier.  It has a built it stand, but it also has 4 magnets on the back so you could stick it to your fridge.  I’ve used this timer over and over again since it arrived.  I can hear it well and the display is large, so great for an oldie with bad eye sight!!

disclaimer:  we were sent the items mentioned for free to complete the challenge.

 

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A walk along an old railway line #CountryKids

We’ve been really busy this week, catching up with lots of friends.  Thursday saw us take a trip up the motorway to see my best friend for the day.  She lives in Derbyshire, in a tiny little village, right in the countryside.  After lunch we decided to go for a walk along an old railway line not far from her house.

Monkey was rather bemused.  How can we walk on a railway line?

A walk along an old railway lineWe explained to him that lots of old railway lines have closed over the years and that some are now walk and cycleways.  He was rather disappointed that we couldn’t see any tracks as we went for a walk along an old railway line.

But he loves spending time with his Auntie A, and they were soon busy chatting as we went for a walk in the sunshine.

A walk along an old railway line A walk along an old railway line

He loved walking under the various railway bridges, and it wasn’t long until he’d found a stick or two to join us on a walk along an old railway line!

A walk along an old railway line A walk along an old railway line

We had a lovely walk, chatting, laughing and spotting butterflies (male Orange Tips) and a number of ladybirds.  Looking at various flowers and enjoying the countryside.

We even got to see some goats as we walked, forgot to take any photos of them.  We didn’t see any tractors, a major disappointment for Monkey.  But it was lovely to get out in the countryside and enjoy a walk along an old railway line.  Great that the track has been developed so people can enjoy it.  Although the building has been replaced, you can also see a platform along one stretch of the walk.

Monkey had a great time, exploring nature and having fun.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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Sainsburys help with our Easter Egg Hunt

Sainsburys help with our Easter Egg HuntI’ve always been a fan of Sainsburys, and was so pleased when our local store opened last year.  You can always find some interesting things for festive occasions and Easter is no different.  This year Sainsburys help with our Easter Egg Hunt with this pair of cuties!

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The wooden chick and bunny decorations from Sainsburys are £3.00 each and are a lovely idea for Easter.  They’ve been sitting on our mantlepiece since they arrived, but I have a plan for them!  They’re well made, with a nice finish, and actually would look nice as a Nursery ornament in my opinion, but obviously they are not toys.

Sainsburys help with our Easter Egg Hunt this year.  I’ve had an Easter Egg Hunt at home for Monkey for the last couple of years.  If the weather has been ok, I’ve hidden some eggs in the garden.  If we’ve had April showers, then I’ve hidden them around the house.  I then get to watch as Monkey and Daddy P try to find them all.  Well this year, I have two accomplices!

Did you notice that even Brewster wanted to help hid the eggs!  Someone needs to tell him that cats aren’t allowed to eat chocolate!

I think these decorations are a great idea for something a little different this Easter.  Sainsburys also have bunting, mugs, an Easter Bunny cookie jar and some Easter bunny ears in their Easter range.  For an affordable, bit of festive fun, you really can’t go wrong.

disclaimer:  we were sent the items mentioned in exchange for an honest review.

 

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Dressing the part with Joe Browns – a review

Dressing the part with Joe BrownsI love discovering a clothing company I’ve not come across before and when I was recently approached by Joe Browns, I was impressed.  I really liked the look of their Spring Summer 2014 collection.  I was looking forward to dressing the part with Joe Browns!

Joe Browns are a family run, UK business who offer mail order and online clothing for men and women.  I have to admit that I normally prefer shopping in store.  But I’m always happy to try something new, and I fell in love with the Atlantic Ocean Mac as soon as I saw it on the website.  I needed a new jacket, and this looked just the thing.  I’d soon be dressing the part with Joe Browns.

Dressing the part with Joe Browns

I have to be totally honest, when my package arrived I was slightly surprised.  It was rather small, considering a jacket was meant to be inside.  When I opened the package, the jacket was very creased and the material was more lightweight than I’d expected.  The instructions said to iron on the inside only, on a low heat.  I tried that, nothing happened.  So I took a deep breath and ironed the Atlantic Ocean Mac on the outside.  Luckily the creases came out and the material survived the experience.

The jacket is very lightweight, it would crease easily if you were sitting down.  But I do love the look of it.

The lining it tie dyed as you can see, there are a mixture of different buttons and the material goes from a white to blue/grey with a pattern throughout.  The jacket is 52% Modal/48% Polyester, whilst the body lining is 100% Cotton and the sleeve lining is 100% Polyester.  So what does it look like on?  Am I dressing the part with Joe Browns?

DSCN2298 I really like the neckline, it’s just the sort of thing I go for.  I ordered the Atlantic Ocean Mac in a size 10, but I could probably have got away with a size 8 in this instance.  I’ve worn it with jeans, but I think it would work really well with a smart, plain dress or trousers for a wedding.  The length works well for me, I’m 5’6″.

I’m dressing the part with Joe Browns, and I just love the colour change on this jacket.  I do wish it was made from a heavier material so you really could wear it for Spring and Summer.  Priced at £59.95 that was my expectation. But I really like the fact that this jacket is a bit different. Not something I’m going to see along the high street.  I’ll be dressing the part with Joe Browns this summer.  They really do have some lovely items in their collection and I’m glad I’ve been introduced to the brand.

disclaimer:  we were sent this item for the purpose of review, however, my comments remain my own, honest opinions.

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Green Toys Tractor – a review

Green Toys TractorYou may remember that I posted recently to announce that I am an Eco Friendly Toy Tester for Green Toys. When we received our bundle of goodies from Green Toys recently, I knew immediately which box we would open first.  Welcome to the Green Toys Tractor! Green Toys Tractor Green Toys Tractor

The Green Toys Tractor is aimed at children from the age of 1 year.  This bright orange tractor is made from 100% recycled plastic milk bottles and contains no nasty BPA, phthalates, or PVC.  You can actually put Green Toys in the dishwasher!

Green Toys Tractor Not only is the tractor itself made of fully recycled material, but so is the packaging.  A simple cardboard box made from recycled and recyclable materials and printed with soy inks.  My first thought – no annoying, unnecessary packaging or fasteners.  There’s nothing worse when you give a child a present that then takes an age to release from the packaging.

Green Toys Tractor Green Toys Tractor

Green Toys TractorOnce out of the packaging you realise how much detail is shown on this vintage style tractor.  Monkey has been to a number of Country Shows now, and has seen many tractors like this.  The Green Toys Tractor is very different from the normal modern toy tractors available.

Green Toys Tractor

It’s well made, the plastic is sturdy, it’s not going to break easily.  There is a very simple hook assembly to fit the trailer to the tractor.  Monkey would prefer for the steering wheel to be moveable, he’s got used to steering his tractors.  But he’s 4 years old, a smaller child probably wouldn’t be so bothered.

Green Toys Tractor

This Green Toys Tractor is going to be at home inside or driving around the garden.  I’m sure with a bit of sunshine, it will make a few trips to the sandpit too.  There are no metal parts, so you can wash it off and not worry about any rust.

Monkey has enjoyed playing with the Green Toys Tractor, he knows that it’s based on a tractor from a bygone age.  It’s taking pride of place with his favourite vehicles.  It’s much loved already!

Monkey has loved having a tractor with a decent size trailer on the back, big enough for his various forms of rubble/grain/animal feed etc, to fit in.  His Green Toys Tractor has been accepted into his inner circle of toys.  That’s a big honour.  The tractor is now employed with rail construction, a current project and it would appear that even angels like to drive tractors!

He did take the idea of this Green Toys Tractor being ‘old’ rather too literally recently.  Mummy, would Knights have used this tractor in the olden days?   Uum, not really Monkey, even Knights are older than this type of tractor!

Green Toys TractorThe Green Toys Tractor is available through Big Jigs Toys Ltd for £15.99.  Trust me, this is a cut above your usual plastic tractor. It is going to withstand lots of punishment love from avid tractor fans.  We’ve had so many plastic tractors over the last couple of years, all have hooks that have snapped off, wheels that have fallen off.  This tractor is in a different league, the wheel assembly is solid, the hook attachment is not going to break.  This is a tractor made to last, and every time I look at it, I’m amazed that once, not so long ago, it was a plastic milk bottle!

Join us again next month for our next Eco Friendly Toy Tester review – we have a fun few months lined up for you!

disclaimer:  we were sent this item in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

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