Wednesday 29 May 2013

This Bank Holiday Weekend...

This Bank Holiday Weekend we spent a few days in Devon. 

We rolled with the weather...

We blew dandelion clocks...

We played outside and slid down the slide.

We laughed and we smiled...

We took a walk by the lake and fed the ducks...

We took a drive over to Minehead beach and sat along the sea front...

We laughed when Leo heard a Cockerel and thought it was an Elephant, we laughed even harder when he put his arm up as though he had an Elephant's trunk.

We were amazed when Leo went straight to bed in a strange new place without any fuss, and without any drama.

We loved the extra hour in bed he let us have.

We waved goodbye to the sun as the rain set in.

We came back home early when the weather didn't improve.

But while the sun was shining we were having a lovely bank holiday weekend.

What did you get up to?

Tuesday 28 May 2013

Preparing for a furr baby

On the 4th of June we are adding a furry addition to our family, in the form of little Tigger the Bengal kitten.

I just know that with him coming into our little family, he is going to be a great friend for Leo as he grows. They will have hours of playful fun and enjoy snuggles together on the sofa.

For me I am looking forward to having a family pet, I have always grown up with cat’s and it just feels right to give Leo the opportunity to bond with an animal the same way I did when I was growing up.

I am looking forward to sleepy kitten snuggles as I sit down in an evening when Luke is out and about, and I just know that he is going to be a very welcome addition.

Since we decided to get a kitten I have come to realise just how like babies they really are. There is so much ‘stuff’ that you need to get, more so if you are getting a kitten who is going to be primarily a house cat. You need even more to keep them entertained.

We have invested in a reasonably sized cat tree, the kind of size that actually made Luke gasp as he walked into the room… I don’t think he was expecting it to almost reach the ceiling and take up a whole corner of the room. But needs must…

We have had to look into kitty litter, litter trays and litter boxes…Who knew there was so much choice? We have even had to investigate kitten food and toys. The list really is on-going….

Bengal’s are renown for their mischievous behaviour, and I think that is partly what drew me towards the breed in the first place. So I really have pulled out all of the stops when it comes to keeping him entertained…and from destroying the house of course!

Aside from the kitten tree we have a selection of different toys for Tigger, Leo and I have spent a great deal of time in Pet’s at Home trying to get a selection of different things ready for him. I have to admit that cat toy technology has come on in leaps and bounds since I last looked, electric squeaking mice, Feather boas on string, a battery operated ball in a bag, cat nip!

You name it…We probably have it.

We have even been sent a selection of items from the very lovely Baby Bea range sold at Pets at Home. The range has everything that you could possibly need for those early days with a new kitten in the house.

I am at a point now where I do feel we are ready to welcome our little Tigger home, we have plenty to keep him entertained and of course fed and watered.

We actually popped over to see him just the other day, and although he is still dinky, he is coming along beautifully. He seems a little more refined than his brother and sisters and isn’t as forthcoming for a fuss as they are, but I am sure all that will change once he is used to us and all settled in.

Disclaimer: I have been sent a selection of kitten items from the Baby Bea range sold at Pets At Home, however all views and opinions expressed are completely my own. 

Monday 27 May 2013

Blankie, Baa & Macca Pacca

Leo knows when he is ready for bed, and these days he is so good about actually going to bed. I can get him changed and into his pyjamas and explain that it is now time for sleep without any drama at all.

He holds his blankie close in one hand and his bedtime bottle of milk in the other. Then every night without fail, Leo will exclaim ‘Macca Pacca’ ‘Baa’ until we retrieve his soft plush toys and take them up to bed with him.

As Leo has got older, the things that Leo needs to go to bed with him has grown too. Sometimes it feels like I am carrying the world and his friend up those stairs and tucking them in bed with my little man. Macca Pacca sits on one side of Leo’s pillow and Baa sits on the other, blankie gets snuggled up down one side of him so that he can rub it soothingly against his face. Each item acts as a comfort in some shape or form to my little toddler, and it certainly aids bed time.

God forbid that one of these items isn’t in bed with Leo at bedtime… He repeats their names over and over again until you think you may explode if you hear ‘Baa’ or ‘Macca Pacca’ mentioned once more. But the main issue is blankie, if blankie wasn’t there Leo would not settle at all.

Blankie is the main source of comfort, and no other blanket cuts the final bill for Leo. He knows exactly which one blankie is and will not settle for anything but his blankie. Luckily he is not opposed to it being washed, it is just the general getting it off him to wash it in the first place that was a problem…

Now we have two blankies, both exactly the same and he will accept either (thankfully) so it has made it a lot easier to get one washed while he is still happy with the other.

In the last few months Leo and blankie if become more inseparable than ever before, blankie literally comes everywhere with us. Whether it be in the car or around the shopping centre in his pushchair…Leo takes his big cot duvet with him, as that is what blankie is. A cot duvet.

When we put the cot duvet in his cot we had no idea that he was going to form such an attachment with it, but he did. Leo finding comfort in his blankie is actually something I am glad happened, it made tough nights easier and it is something that can be with him even when I am not there.

One thing I have noticed of late is that blankie and milk seem to go hand in hand. If he has one he needs the other…drinking milk without blankie does not happen anymore and he gets really irate if you try to give him it without! He persistently shouts ‘blankie’ until you provide it.

So here we are in a catch 22 situation.

With Leo turning two in the next month I really do feel that we have to curve the amount of milk that he is drinking. I am not too opposed to milk at bedtime but the amount he guzzles throughout the day is more out of comfort than a real need.

This of course is getting added to the to do list that is almost as long as my arm… and I really don’t know how we are going to cut the milk down when he associates it so much with his blankie…

Any ideas would be very much welcomed as I know I have a battle on my hands.

Sometimes bedtime does feel like he is more than enough in his cot with him, but as long as he is safely tucked up in bed and dreaming, I am more than happy for him to have whatever provides him the comfort that he needs.

So for now that means blankie, Baa and Macca Pacca will be staying put right where they are, but in the not so distant future I think the bottle of milk is going to have to disappear.

Thursday 23 May 2013

The Cake Smash...That Didn't!

I often think I have the most clumsy, often destructive toddler in the world. 
Dirt and trouble seem to gravitate towards him and things just seem to have a tendency to fall over or go wrong in the same instance as him entering the room.

So when Nicola at Life Through My Eyes told me she was planning a cake smash for little Paige, I thought I would give it a try with my little man. After all he would love it right?

I spent the duration of Leo's afternoon nap in the kitchen baking up a cake for him to destroy. I even iced it really quickly so that it was a little more appealing to him. Of course it was around about this time that Luke decided to walk in the door from work and couldn't quite fathom why Leo got an entire cake to himself....That he was potentially just going to bash around!

Luke was actually telling me that he wanted a slice before it got leo'd...

Ignoring Luke completely I led Leo out into the garden and placed the entire cake on the ground. Leo just stood there staring at me as if to say 'are you crazy Mumma!?' He stood there as if he was looking for my approval, scared to make a move as on any normal occasion I would be telling him to keep his little hands off it! 

I told Leo to go for it, to eat what he liked and enjoy himself, and with this little piece of encouragement he dipped a finger into the icing. He put it straight into his mouth and stuck his hand straight back into the cake for some more.

Then Leo...The most destructive toddler in the entire world...Demanded a spoon!

Yes, my toddler who apparently does not like getting his hands dirty wanted a spoon to complete his cake smash!

Obliging to his request, I got him a spoon and he continued to spoon the icing into his mouth. But that is as far as our little cake smash went. 

This is the cake after it got 'smashed'...And after Luke had a slice!

I really thought that he would be unstoppable and this cake would be well and truly smashed into tiny little pieces, hence the taking him outside. 

Maybe my little toddler isn't quite as troublesome as I first thought. Maybe he is actually rather refined... Or he is just growing up and knows that he shouldn't really throw/destroy food, even if Mummy is encouraging him.

Wednesday 22 May 2013

A Family Day Out at The Dudley Bowlplex

Leo and I were recently invited along to the new iKidz Centre and Bowlplex situated in Dudley. It is about a 50 minutes’ drive away from us so we planned a day out in Birmingham, one that was sure to keep little man entertained.

The day we were due to go Leo came down with a horrid cough and cold, so despite him feeling a little under the weather we decided he would still have a wail of a time once he was there!

The iKidz area is a fantastic soft play area for babies, toddlers and children to run around, expand energy and enjoy themselves.

Upon arrival we were greeted by smiling faces and shown where we needed to go in order to get into the iKids play area. Leo was offered squash and given a smiley face stamp for his hand (a stamp that he didn’t originally want, but couldn’t stop pointing out after!)

 As we walked into the play area I heard Luke exclaim ‘wow’ and I could immedietly see why he was in awe. The whole structure was modern, bright and exciting to look at. If that wasn’t enough inclination for you to take off your shoes and run, hop, jump and skip onto the structure…then you should have seen just how quiet this child’s paradise was!

Perfect for little man to explore without us worrying about him getting hurt.

The staff put on daily activities throughout the week for parent’s to bring their children along to, just to get them out of the house and entertained for an hour or so. I had picked the day we visited for two reasons, firstly there was an activity that I thought Leo would really enjoy and secondly it was a day that Luke had off work.

Leo was given chance to have a play before the daily optional activity began, and when the musical instrument session did start, Leo would not play ball. I showed him the instruments that he could play with…But Leo waved and ran away. Leo climbed up to the next floor and waved through a window to me. A big smile tearing across his cheeky little face.

There was no way he was coming back, so I was left with the lovely instructor and other families whose children did want to play.

They do a range of different activities with the kid’s throughout the week, on a Tuesday they have sand and water play! I think Leo would have definitely stuck around for that!

Aside from Leo and a few other children in the play area, it was so quiet. Leo could go wherever her wanted and do whatever he wanted. Luke and I were both free to follow him onto the equipment to make sure that he was ok in all of his endeavours.

Leo wasn’t his usual happy self and it was apparent that he was a little under the weather, but he was very soon running around the place like he owned it. He was climbing up and down the stairs, running around on the first floor…All until he discovered the Perspex floors….

Leo did not like those Perspex floors one little bit, and the only way that I could get him over them was to physically carry him over. I was really surprised that Leo could associate them with fear at his age, but he was adamant that he wasn’t going to be walking over on this occasion!

The play equipment is finished off to the highest standards and we discovered some super extras tucked away with the usual treasures, in the ball pool area there is some fabulous equipment such as a ball pipe that sucks up the balls you place inside up and away, spitting them above the ball pool into a net! There is also a table with holes that you can place balls on, pressing the button shoots the balls up and holds them with the air that streams out!

Leo thought this was all great and we spent a while just playing around in there.

There is a choice of 3 different types of slide, which I must insist you try! There is the long curly wirly slide, one very similar to the one we have in our local soft play area, the only difference is….This one is super fast. I took Leo down expecting the same leisurely decent, but when I reached the bottom I had one confused toddler and one very dizzy Mummy to contend with!

What I thought was really great was that there was a room on the play structure full of giant duplo, Leo thought this was great! The only dilemma that we faced was that the Perspex flooring was favoured in this room! The only way Leo would play in here was stood on the Purple seams!

The iKidz play area is situated on the far right of the bowlplex, and you can actually see the bowling lanes from the play area. This is where little man discovered bowling for the very first time! With Leo’s interest in place we decided now would be the perfect time to introduce Leo to the game. We were shown to our lane and helped to get the board all set up, and then the game commenced.

Leo had a super time for the first few goes, we put the ball on the run and let him push it down the ramp. Leo was actually doing better than I was! And in the end Daddy won, followed closely by Leo….and then of course there was me!

Leo soon started to feel more under the weather and began to become more whingey and just wanted cuddles, We picked this moment to take our very tired, grumpy little man out for lunch.

We had a lovely time at the Bowlplex and would highly recommend it for a family day out. There is something for everyone to do, the younger children will be more than welcome in the play area, for the older children and adults there are arcade games and bowling, Leo even demonstrated that you are never too young to take part!

Disclaimer: I was invited along to the Dudley Bowlplex to share my personal experience and opinions  We had a lovely time and would highly recommend a visit if you are in the area.

Tuesday 21 May 2013

My Almost 2 Year Old...

My almost 2 year old is growing up so fast.
He runs, he jumps, he sings and he dances.
He bounds, leaps, claps and prances.
He now even feeds the ducks instead of feeding himself.

My almost 2 year old loves and is loved.
He shouts 'Muma' and 'Dada' each and every morning when he wakes.
He holds our hands while we are out and about,
and he even associates certain places with certain people.

My almost 2 year old is a mischievous little man.
He will catch your gaze during you telling him 'no',
and beam the cheekiest pearly white smile. 
He laughs a dirty laugh and knows that he is pushing his luck,
and gives the best huggles and kisses.

My almost 2 year old goes to bed in his cot,
he is not ready to make the transition into a big boy bed just yet.
Each and every night he takes his essentials with him to bed.
His Baa, his Maccapacca and his blankie, accompanied by a cold bottle of milk.
He sleeps all night long these days, only waking if he has a bad dream.

My almost 2 year old can do proper jumps.
He can get both feet well of the ground.
He jumps on the bed, on the sofa and anywhere he can possibly attempt.
He is a proper little froggy.

My almost 2 year old is a proper little boy,
his love for tractors, cars and trains is growing by the day.
He spends his play with his garage and his farm set, learning to play more imaginative games.
He runs off with my car keys and can even open my car door.
He sits in the drivers seat and wiggles the gear stick, while pretending to drive the car.
He turns on the tunes and dances as he goes.

My almost 2 year old is my best friend.
He puts a smile on my face each and every day.
I quite honestly, hand on heart do not know where I would be without him now.

My almost 2 year old is my everything.
He is my yesterday, he is my tomorrow.
He is my future. 


I was recently asked if I would like to trial Casabu – the flash sales parenting site that stocks a wide range of products for Mum and baby. Casabu host daily sales from a variety of the exciting product ranges that they stock, from clothing, toys, nursery equipment, maternity gear with up to 90% off retail prices!

To benefit from the great savings on Casabu you first need to create an account or sign in with your Facebook account. Once you are logged in a number of special offers from that day are presented to you, and you can either have a look at these deals or head up to the tool bar at the top of the page, where you can shop in a number of different ways:

-By Brand
- By Age
- By Category

The website is really easy to navigate and it is really simple to find what you are looking for. The deals change daily so if nothing takes your fancy today, then you can check back tomorrow to see what new goodies are in stock. Once you are all signed up you will receive a daily email with the latest deals, so it could not be easier to keep up to date with the latest bargains. 

I ordered Leo a really lovely wooden tool bench on the 30th April 2013, and you are given a rough idea on the product page of when your order will be dispatched. I was advised upon booking that delivery could take up to 13 days, it took 15 days in the end but I was in no rush for delivery as the item is actually being put away for Leo's birthday in June.

I have to say though that the customer service was brilliant. Casabu called me to let me know that there had been a delay on my item and told me that the stock was coming in later that week and it would be dispatched pretty much straight away to fulfill my order. They also sent me an email to confirm the voicemail after I missed their call, you cannot ask for anything more than that really!

The email told me that delivery would be made on the Wednesday, and they were completely right! I had to very quickly move the very bright tool bench box out of Leo's eye line as he wanted to open it there and then!

Casabu currently have some lovely items in stock, but you have to get in quick to secure what you would like as things do sell out pretty quickly.

Here is a little selection of the items I like on today's offers, 

For Leo's last birthday we actually bought him a Smart Trike Zoo and he adored it, and I can confirm that we certainly paid much more than the fantastic price of £72.00 that it is currently selling for over at Casabu!

I can highly recommend Casabu, and I have not been dis-heartened by the delay in my product arriving. I think if you are on the look out for a gift for someone, look in advance and then you will  be prepared.

Happy shopping!

Disclaimer: I was provided with a voucher for the purpose of this review, however all views and opinions are completely honest and my own.

Monday 20 May 2013

A Whole New World

Leo has been on countless train journeys.
Short journeys, and some not so short ones.
He has never even thought twice about it, 
let alone got excited about the fact he was going on a train.

With age comes wisdom though,
and with age comes knowledge and anticipation.
On our recent train journey Leo was so very excited to be travelling on the train.

He couldn't wait to get out of his pushchair and into his very own 'chair'.
Leo kept on telling me 'Choo Choo' and now if you ask him what a train says,
he tells you.

He looked so grown up sitting on his very own seat, 
for the first time completely still.
No fidgeting unlike the last occasions we have travelled, just content as he sat there watching the world whizz past out of the window.
Leo pointed out everything he caught sight of, enjoying the experience like it was the very first time he had travelled on a train.

This is just another sign that tells me Leo is growing up.
We are just over a month away from his Second birthday,
 and I can see my toddler growing up right in front of my eyes. 

This next year is going to see him mature in so many other ways, 
he is going to gain a new understanding and grow excited for so many new things, even the things he has done before but never really experienced.

It is like he is begining to see the world in a whole new way, like someone has just switched on a light and he can see more magic in the world.

The sense of adventure is more alive than ever, 
and I for one cannot wait to experience this magic with my little Leo.

Sunday 19 May 2013

Where would you go on holiday?

I can’t be the only person who’s been thinking about summer holidays recently. Given that the sun has finally come out to play here at home, I can’t help but fantasise about taking a break away, surrounded by my family, relaxing and trying new things. 

I’ve been wanting to try somewhere new for a while as visiting the same places can get pretty boring, but as well as finding beautiful places for the grown-ups to enjoy, we've got to find places for the kids to have fun as well.

One location which seems to fit this perfectly yet remain pretty underrated is St. Anton in Austria. A hotspot for skiers in winter, the snow-capped mountains in this area are quite overwhelmingly beautiful and a lot of fun for those who enjoy snow sports.

It is, however, woefully underrated as a summer break spot. When the snow melts, the flowers peep out and the sun shines down, this region completely changes; but still remains just as beautiful as ever.

Clean air, mountains, lakes, wildlife, floral and tranquillity, this looks like the perfect place to take a family for some summer fun. You could relax for hours in this place, but if a break spent sat down enjoying a book seems a little boring, never fear!

The range of activities on offer here could not be more varied. Krissy Sinclair, Austria resort manager of lakes and mountains holiday specialists Inghams, said:  “The whole family will appreciate the tunning scenery and huge range of exciting outdoor activities in the Austrian resort of Saalbach situated in the scenic Glemm valley.”

The St. Anton village can be a real party town during skiing season, but in the summer it’s incredibly peaceful. There are local festivities at different points in the summer which feature music, dancing, food and beer. There are modern entertainment facilities here such as bowling alleys, swimming pools, tennis courts, and spas, gyms, bars and restaurants, to name just a few!

When you fancy a change of scenery from the village, there are loads of outdoor activities for everyone to enjoy. Take a trek on the mountains which provide brilliant views of the entire region, or if you fancy something a little more fast-paced, take a bike ride on one of the many, many routes available for all different skill levels.

If you’ve got a little daredevil in you, water sports such as white water rafting is available with a team of experts, whilst waterfall climbing is a sure fire way to get the adrenaline going!

For somewhere to stay after the busy days, the Austrian Inghams advisor recommends 4* Hotel Kohlmais for a truly luxurious and relaxing nights sleep.

Disclaimer: In association with Inghams

Friday 17 May 2013

Leo's First Dental Appointment

A child's life is full of firsts.

First teeth, first milestones and first birthdays. 
The first time he saw a Christmas tree and the first time he went on holiday.

The firsts can follow them throughout many years of their life.

Leo's latest first was just yesterday. 
When he visited the Dentist for the very first time.

In true Leo style they certainly knew he was in the building.
Only moments after arriving he managed to knock my milkshake all over waiting room floor.

This prompted a very embarrassed Mummy to attempt mopping it up with baby wipes.
It prompted the receptionist to grab a mop in order to get a more thorough job done...

Needless to say we both sat very quietly after this...
We waited in almost silence for our names to be called.

We were beckoned in to see the dentist. 

Leo sat with Granny while I was having my pearly whites checked. 
And then it was time for Leo to have his very first check up.

Leo didn't want to sit on the big chair all alone,
so he sat on my lap.

Then we had to persuade Leo to open up his mouth so that the dentist could get a proper look inside.

The dentist confirmed that Leo had his full set of milk teeth now, 
a suspicion I had been carrying around for months.

Leo sat there looking a little bewildered but co-operated the entire time.

I just wonder if they welcome us back in November for Leo's second check up...
After the milkshake/waiting room incident that is!

It's Time for a Spring Clean!

I have spent the last couple of days bottoming the house, Spring cleaning fever really has arrived with a passion this year.

 I have scrubbed the entire kitchen more than once over and I have even cleaned the windows, not to mention sweeping and mopping the floor.

The next room on my list is Leo's play room, which unfortunately has become the ideal dumping ground for things we need to get rid of.

I finally got upstairs and into my bedroom to sort out all of the laundry back into my wardrobe. It would seem time has a habit of running away with you when you are neck deep in clothes as by the time I sat down and glanced at the clock it was just shy of midnight.

Finally getting chance to go through all of my clothes has shed light on the fact that some of the items will never ever be worn again. By me anyway...

I decided while I was in the 'sorting mood' I should sort out a pile of clothes I no longer wanted. After all it would give me plenty of new wardrobe space, and a chance to maybe treat myself to a few new outfits. Shopping is almost always for the little man in my life, so it would be lovely to have a entire shopping trip dedicated to just moi.

The clothes I am getting rid of will be split between the charity shop and musicMagpie, a site where you can sell on your items and even get cash 4 clothes.

Finally getting my wardrobe sorted has made me feel a lot better about my 'to do list' and I am rather looking forward to the chance of filling the spaces I have freed up with new attire.

Have you started spring cleaning yet?

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post

Wednesday 15 May 2013

The Chill Factor Squeeze Cup Review

Summer IS on the way, whether we believe it or not in this bleak display of May.

I am refusing to believe anything other than this. 

Sooner or later... The sun will come. 

And when it does... I will be ready.

Chill Factor have sent us their new Squeeze Cup Slushy Maker to try out, and despite the lack of sunshine I thought it would be perfect to have around for that moment when the sun does break out from behind all of those bleak clouds.

I have to admit that I was a little skeptical to how this new cup was going to work when I first read the instructions. But I followed them word for word and put the Squeeze Cup in the freezer overnight, so that it was ready for when I got home from work this evening.

I was skeptical because I couldn't fathom how just putting the cup alone in the freezer without the chosen beverage would create a slushy...But it did!

The instructions advise to use a beverage that has been refrigerated, you can't really use something at room temperature. So for best results pop what ever you like in fridge around the same time as you put the cup in the freezer.

I decided to have a slushy coke.

Taking the Squeeze Cup out of the freezer and filling it up to just below the white brim, I started squeezing the cup as instructed. Within seconds the coke was indeed turning to slush!

I kept squeezing just to make sure that all the coke had been slushed sufficiently and then it was time to enjoy...without Leo seeing the slushy goody that I now had!

It was so easy to use, no mess at all which is actually un-heard of as you will know if you have ever tried making one up!

Taking the cup apart to wash it up was a doddle and it is now back in the freezer ready for when I wish to use it again.

The Chill Factor Squeeze Cup retails at £12.00, and although I like the product I think that the price may put some people off. It is a great little invention though and if you have kids who live on ice lollies through the summer months (which will be coming) I highly recommend giving this cup a try.

Here is a short clip of how we got on with the Squeeze Cup, please forgive the shaky camera!

Disclaimer: I was sent the Chill Factor Squeeze Cup for the purpose of this review, however all views and opinions expressed are completely honest and my own.

Tuesday 14 May 2013

Smile Combat

There’s a look that we give each other.

It’s a knowing look, a look that has the power to reduce us both to fits of the giggles.

Sometimes for absolutely no reason at all, it could even be at a time where I am in the process of telling Leo why he shouldn’t be trying to throw all of my freshly washed clothes through the banister rail and down the stairs… Or how he shouldn’t be taking Daddy’s shoes out of his side of the wardrobe so he can get in and tell me ‘bye’… Or even when he is throwing all of the dinner that he doesn’t want on the floor as fast as I am picking it up…

In any instance Leo tilts his head and shoots that winning smile in my direction.

A cheeky smile accompanied by the dirtiest of laughs, but the most infectious kind of chuckles that you have to be made of stone to resist. 

I shoot him my sternest look, I mean business and no amount of Leo’s smiling combat is going to knock me off my perch this time. No siree.

Then Leo’s looking at me, big blue eyes and all.

The smile is there.

The dirty laugh.

Then a crack appears on my face,  and there is nothing I can do.

First the right hand side of my face relents and as quickly as I try to whip it back into line, the left hand side joins suit.

The smile has appeared on my face and any hope I had in letting that mischievous little boy of mine know who is boss has been thwarted.

For those moments while we are both laughing so hard that the tears stream down my cheeks and my sides begin to ache, it doesn’t even matter what he was doing before because that time when we are like that, it is perfect.

The Grand Designs Live Show

I had one very excited other half when I told him that we had been invited along to ExCeL London to visit The Grand Designs Show. Luke avidly watches the TV programme so he was excited to be let loose and have a wonder around all of the stands. I on the other hand was looking forward to seeing the unique items and having a ponder around the food section.

Who knew that getting into London early on a Sunday would be such a faf? I sure didn’t…So our 11am meet with Ekornes was postponed by 3 hours, after we had finally stepped foot into London and navigated the endless closures on the tube lines. Finally…We arrived.

We walked into the show with the crowds of other people who were hoping to find themselves a bargain on the last day of the show. Neither of us knew which row we should start at first, we didn’t want to miss a single thing.

I had no idea that The Grand Designs show was going to be set to such a large scale, there were businesses from all walks of life all offering something new and exciting. There was something for absolutely everyone, from art lovers to those looking for eco-friendly ideas to help save them money on their bills.

Ekornes were set up demonstrating their Stressless furniture, amongst them were the recliners and sofas. People were avidly taking a seat and putting them through their paces.

I found myself wandering around with my mouth dragging along the floor, wanting to spend money that I couldn’t even dream of ever earning. I stumbled across the Water Bed stand and I could have stayed there floating on luxury all afternoon, I mean who wouldn’t want a water bed that offers a back massage too!?

Sony were along showing off all of their most up to date televisions and tablet devices, as those really prestigious homes people have dreamed up need furnishing as such too with all the latest technology.

Sony invited us to sit down and try out their 3D television, which as expected was completely fantastic, and once again completely blew any potential budget well out of the water.

Although if you were in the market for anything particular it was well worth going along and having a look, with so many big brands there offering special show discounts on their usual RRP, there was the potential to pick up a real bargain. If you go along with an open mind and one or two items that you would like then you could surprise yourself.

It is well worth researching who will be in attendance at these events ahead of attending, so you have an idea of what you will see when you are there. What really amazed me was the extent of some of the stands that had been set up. There were hot tubs on display, a swimming pool full of water, cars and even a caravan.

I was in my element when I discovered the food and home section of the show, I spent a great deal of time walking around taking in all the aromas and watching product demonstrations.

This section is actually where we made our purchases, I discovered the tastiest jarred curries that had been cooked up by Panjaban and decided to stock the cupboards up so that we had a selection. If you are a curry lover like I am then make sure you check them out and try a few. The Keema is my absolute favourite!

We spent a lovely afternoon looking around the show and by the end we each had a pair of very tired feet. If you are thinking of going along next year then make sure you do, there is so much to see.

If you can avoid eating your lunch within ExCeL I would advise it as it cost me an arm and a leg just to eat a Subway!

A big thanks to Ekornes for their hospitality, we both had a wonderful day!

Disclaimer: I was provided with tickets to the Grand Designs Live show and my travel expenses were paid to be in attendance, however all views and opinions are completely honest and my own.

Monday 13 May 2013

The John Crane Tidlo Animal Sorting Cube Review

Over the summer months we have been presented with the most amazing opportunity to represent a company that we adore.

John Crane Ltd – A traditional toy company who specialise in wooden toys! I have mentioned them on occasion her on the blog and I am over the moon to represent them now.

After I got over the initial squeals of excitement, and managed to sit still without the flamboyant out of the blue air punches, I knew I should put pen to paper so to speak and tell you about our very first review.

For the month of May Leo has been sent the Tidlo Animal Sorting Cube, a sorting cube that is completely different to any other that we have ever played with. It is made out of wood, and you can instantly feel just how solid it is, from the cube itself to the animal slats.

 The quality of the wood and the toy itself means that little clumsy fingers won’t accidently break any of the pieces, it is as solid as they come.

The cube is quite weighty, so for younger toddlers you probably won’t have to contend with them picking it up and carrying it around, Leo on the other hand at 22 months can pick it up, and he DOES carry it around. I can feel my toes curling as I think about how he carries it around with him…re-calling in horror to the time he did drop it on my foot!

The set comes with 25 pieces that make up 8 individual animals in the sorting cube. What I really like is that it is comparable to an early level jigsaw puzzle in the sense that little hands are to make up the pictures by putting the two slats in the appropriate places to make up the correct image.

You can have 4 animals at a time on the cube and can change them as you wish, the additional slats are stored on the top of the cube out of the way but easily accessed for when you need them. This set up allows you to see if you are missing any of the pieces when you put it all away, and makes it really easy to spy a missing slat!

Once you have the 4 animals set up on your cube by posting them down the guides, you will notice that you have a food shaped hole that needs filling. The aim of the game is to locate the food item that fits into the hole. There are 8 pieces of food that go with each of the 8 different animals, and it is your toddlers job to find out which shape fits with each animal.

The Animal Sorting Cube grabbed Leo’s attention before I had even shown it to him, I was actually in the process of cooking up dinner when he decided to bring the box in to me where he insisted I open it there and then. I took him back into the lounge where I opened it all up for him and showed him what to do before popping back to finish dinner off.

It kept Leo entertained while I was cooking and I could hear him making the noises for the animals that he could see, ‘Neigh’ ‘Woof’ and ‘cat’ because he refuses to ‘meow’ these days!

Over the time we have been playing with it together I have noticed that Leo has got frustrated with himself at times. If he can’t get the slats to do what he wants then he will lose his temper until I can fathom what he is trying to do. At the moment he just likes posting the slats here, there and everywhere and is not purposely problem solving. The more we play with it the more he seems to realise what he is supposed to be doing, so I am sure it won’t be long before he has completed every animal on the cube and fed it the appropriate food.

Leo loves the Tidlo Animal Sorting Cube and seems to especially like it after I have just tidied it all away after the last game, as it is so much more fun to get it all out again straight after! He can sit on the floor inspecting all of the pieces and images for ages, posting them and seeing what fits where.

Leo has already demonstrated that this toy can take a rough playing with, I have watched him trying to make slats fit where they just won’t go, and over all playing very excitedly with it. It really is a sound toy that will stand the test of time, and the bright colours combined with the assortment of different animals has provided Leo lots of enjoyment.

The Tidlo Animal Sorting Cube is recommended for toddlers 18 months and over, and I agree that this would be the perfect time to introduce it. You can purchase theJohn Crane Tidlo Animal Sorting Cube from many reputable online toy shops, and you can even visit John Crane directly to find a full list of retailers who stock this fun sorting cube.

Disclaimer: I was sent the Tidlo Animal Sorting Cube as a John Crane Ambassador as asked to share my views with you all. All views that have been expressed in this review are completely honest and my own.