REVIEW: Tea with Father Christmas at Wyevale

When Santa’s elves at our local Wyevale Garden Centre invited us all to Tea with Father Christmas himself, we jumped at the chance!! My children love the garden centre at Christmas, and as Wyevale is where we buy our Christmas tree from each year, it’s the perfect place for us to visit the Big Guy.

Wyevale always go all out with the grotto, they always do a lovely theme (when we’ve visited in previous years they’ve had Frozen and the Polar Express) and this year it’s Disney / Dreamworks with Shrek; Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel.

For the tea, half the Wyevale restaurant was set us all, approx. 10 tables, with red tablecloths, Christmas crackers and decorations.

Paula, the Chief Elf came to greet us and was so funny and cheery. She showed us to our seats and told the kids Father Christmas was on his way – cue Austin jumping around like crazy while Elodie was still tried to decide how she felt about meeting him in person..!

The food was yummy, for the kids you could choose between a hot or cold tea. Hot being sausages, chicken nuggets or jacket potato served with seasonal vegetables and a cold tea was 5 items from the Wyevale My Picnic range. Both options came with unlimited squash to drink and a biscuit to decorate.

We went for the cold tea and arrived to the bags waiting on the table for us. So the kids didn’t get to choose what they had but their picnic bags were yummy nonetheless. They both had a ham wrap, Walkers Pops crisps, jelly, raisins and gingerbread biscuits.fullsizeoutput_bb

For the adults you could choose either an Afternoon Tea of sandwiches, scone, sweet treats and Christmas jam. Or a Mini Tea of a festive scone with Christmas jam. Both served with tea or coffee.

Stef and I love an excuse to pig out so obviously went for the full Afternoon Tea (the scones were deeelish and full of Christmas spices!). fullsizeoutput_b8

Father Christmas popped in to visit us whilst we were all sat down to eat, walked round each table having a chat to the kids. What a thoroughly nice chap!

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When we’d finished eating, Father Christmas popped back to his Grotto, to await our visits. We were the first in (we eat quickly in our family!) so we went out first to meet him. Austin was the most excited I have ever seen him before!! Sat next to Santa, legs swinging as he proudly announced he’s been a very good boy this year and would like a Robot Dog (where he’s got the idea of a Robot Dog from I’ll never know!). Elodie wasn’t convinced and sat on my lap, whispered to me that she’d like a pink Robot Dog (everything has to be pink *rolls eyes*).

After sitting with Santa for a little chat and Santa placing his Christmas Eve order (standard mince pies for him and carrots for the reindeer) and Austin promised him that Bella the cat wouldn’t lick his mince pie!? Then we wandered outside into the winter wonderland.

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Wandering around outside the Grotto was great, the kids loved it so much. There was a lovely wintery feel with the snow and winter decorations. The kids loved the theme – although Elodie wasn’t too sure about the mannequins used for the Disney princesses. They got super excited whenever they spotted a character they knew though – especially Puss in Boots!?

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They also liked the little games dotted around – giant puzzles and throwing hoops onto Pinocchio’s nose (harder than you’d think!!).

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After a quick photo op on Santa’s sleigh, we went into the Elf Toy Shop and the kids were able to choose a present each. the shelves were fully stocked and there really was a gift for all children – cuddly toys, fairy wings, Mega Bloks, swords, dolls, cars, puzzles, baby bath toys – something for everyone!

This pic is half of the Elf Toy Shop!

This pic is just half of the Elf Toy Shop!

All in all, we really did have a fab time at Wyevale! The kids absolutely loved it and haven’t stopped talking about Father Christmas since. Super cute!!

You can book Breakfast or Tea with Father Christmas at your local Wyevale Garden Centre here. Children’s breakfast or tea costs £9.99 which includes a present, Adults prices are from £3.99 (our Afternoon Tea would cost £7.99 per adult).

*Disclaimer: we were invited to a free Tea with Father Christmas in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts, opinions and photo’s are my own. This review took place at Wyevale, Andover.*

 

REVIEW: The little boy who lost his name

front covers

When the people at Lost My Name contacted me, to see if I would like to review their book, I was ridiculously excited! I am always on the look out for new books. The kids love stories, especially before bed. It’s rare for a bedtime routine to get off the ground without a story or two. And as much as I love Stickman, there’s only so many times you can read it (off by heart) and still make it sound as interesting as the first time.

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The Boy Who Lost His Name (or indeed, The Girl Who Lost Her Name) is about a child who sets off to rediscover his name, after it goes missing from his bedroom door. His adventure introduces him to many different creatures, each with their own tale to tell or problem to solve, who help him find his name. There is a dragon who can’t be scary; a misunderstood Imp and a lion who just wants to have some fun, to name but a few.

The illustrations are beautiful, the stories are lots of fun and best of all, the book rhymes!! I openly admit I find it so much easier to read aloud a story that rhymes, than a story that doesn’t. I appreciate perhaps that doesn’t show off my reading skills but I cannot be alone with this one!?

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They’ve thought of everything, not only is it personalised by child’s name but if that name is very short, the Lost My Name team will add a few little twists to the story to ensure the book is a good length. Great news for all those baby Bob’s out there (first short name I could think of! Not sure why I didn’t think of Liz..)! Incidentally if your name is ridiculously long, Elizabeth for example, you’d be in for a whopper of a book!

The only thing I would choose as tiny a niggle, and only if I really really HAD to, would be that you can’t choose what the little girl and boy look like in your book. I appreciate it’s probably going to be a lot more work and the publication cost would, I’m sure, increase but it would be nice to be able to tailor the child to look a little more like the recipient of the book. Maybe if they could give you a few different child designs to choose from. Although there are so many illustrations throughout the book, maybe this just isn’t feasible.

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Austin loves his book already, he likes the fact the starring little boy has the same name as him (cute!). I think it’s definitely a story that will keep his interest too, at the moment he likes looking at the pictures and I don’t think it will be long before he’s engrossed in the stories behind the pictures too. When he can spell his own name, it’ll be a whole new world of enjoyment!

The quality of the (self published!) book is amazing, the pages are thick (not cardboard thick but they seem toddler-ripping proof) and it just feels like a lovely publication. It would definitely make a fab christening or “welcome to the world little baby” present.

Me: "show me your book and smile" Him: *fake burp* Brilliant.

Me: “show me your book and smile”
Him: *fake burp*
Brilliant.

The story books retail at £18.99 including free worldwide shipping and can be ordered here. If you’re interested in ordering a Lost My Name book for a little special someone, I have 5 voucher codes for 15% off, so let me know (tweet/facebook/instagram or good old fashioned email) if you would like one.

**I was sent Austin’s book for free, in exchange for an honest review. I liked it so much that I purchased Elodie’s book with my own hard earned cash. I think that’s enough of a review on it’s own!**

REVIEW: Mary Jean Skincare

I was lucky enough to be asked to review some products from Mary Jean, a small family business in the Scottish Highlands. I love a good pamper session so jumped at the chance to find some new faves.

The Mary Jean business was set up after Mary Jean herself began creating products for her own use, followed by more items for friends and family to use. During this process she actually helped soothe her father’s Dermatitis symptoms with her soaps. The products are all natural and handmade in small batches Read more about the story behind Mary Jean here.

I received a fab bundle of goodies consisting of two soap bars, mum and baby lotion, a face mask and a body scrub…

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Mum & Baby Lotion
This lotion feels amazing, like it’s really nourishing the skin, leaving it feeling so soft. It’s non-greasy too which is great. BUT the lavender scent is quite strong. Which is OK for me but I don’t think I would want to use it on my babies. It would detract from their “baby” smell, which I think is amazing on it’s own! Having said that, when I used the lotion and then cuddled Elodie, she did seem to settle very easily so I think the lavender scent must have a lovely calming effect! So perhaps it would be good to use on baby after bath and before bed. I’m not sure!

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Soap bars – May Chang Clay and Goats Milk, Lavender & Oatmeal
Both these soaps are fab! My fave is the Oatmeal one and that is because of the oatmeal itself. It’s slightly exfoliating which I like for using in the bath. The clay soap feels more gentle and the suds are almost soft when you use it. It’s only slightly scented so good for using whenever you like. Whereas the Oatmeal one I would only use in the bath, rather than everyday use.

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Facial Mask for Normal Skin
This is fab! Firstly, it’s in powder form. So to use, you mix with water; yogurt or olive oil and form a paste. I’ve never used a mask like this so that was cool, making it myself! I have only mixed it with water so far, I imagine yogurt or olive oil to be even better. I left it on for 10 minutes before gently washing it off. My skin felt so smooth, smoother than any other face mask I have tried. It actually feels so soft after I use it that I can’t help but stroke my face! HA! I can’t quite work out what it smells of, I think it’s quite a milky smell which is probably from the yogurt powder in the ingredients. But in short, I love this and will definitely keep using it.

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Vanilla & Orange Body Scrub
This is my favourite product out of everything I tried.  So much so that I have almost used it all up!! I love a good body scrub anyway but this is the best one I have ever tried. It’s a good consistency and the sugar & sea salt grains are the perfect size for a good scrub. The natural oils in it leave your skin feeling sooooo soft and nourished. For as long as I can remember, I have moisturised my body as soon as I get out the shower, every day. I can’t stand having skin which has the slightest hint of dryness. After using this scrub, I didn’t feel the need to moisturise at all. Oh and also, it smells so deliciously orangey with a hint of vanilla, scrummy!

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So in a nutshell, all the products were great and I don’t think I have a least favourite. I do however, have a clear winner! You can probably guess that the item at the top of my list is definitely the Vanilla & Orange Body Scrub! I love love LOVE it!

Have you tried any of the Mary Jean products? I’d love to know which is your fave!

REVIEW: Natures Purest Bathtime Set

Lucky little Elodie was recently sent a bathtime set from the lovely baby company Natures Purest. Like her mum, she LOVES a bit of pampering so she jumped at the chance to test it out!

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Natures Purest was founded in 2006 with just one range of 5 products. Since then, they’ve grown massively and can now be found on many a UK high street.

What Natures Purest say about themselves…

Promise…We make every one of our baby products to the highest possible safety and quality standards. 

Dream…Caring for little ones as sensitively and lovingly as any good parent, our simple and natural products give your baby the healthiest possible start in life. 

Passion…Just as you love your newborn child, we passionately believe in creating sensitive, natural products that will not irritate your precious baby in any way.  

We received a Sleepy Safari bathtime set which consists of a hooded towel and wash mitt made from 100% organic cotton and comes in a cute gift box.

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The bathtime set itself is super soft, it was soft when it arrived but even more so once I’d washed it before using it on Elodie. And actually it’s been washed a few times now and is still as soft as ever.

Austin, Elodie’s  older brother, took a shine to the wash mitt – like the towel, it has a lion’s face on it and, a lion’s ROOOOOAAAAAAAARRRR is one of the animal noises that he likes to make. Thus, a lion wash mitt makes bath time a lot more fun! And a lot more noisy!!

Elodie, however, tested the towel out herself (Austin has a towel poncho that makes him look like a pirate, so he’s not interested in anything else) and it’s really lovely. It’s slightly larger than other hooded towels we have, which is good as she’s quite the chubster – pearshaped like her mum, poor thing!

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So the verdict? I would happily buy this set as a gift for a newborn. It’s sooooooo soft, really good quality and it’s organic! Who wouldn’t choose organic for their baby?

For those of you who are interested in the serious stuff:

The products are tested to be sure that the most dangerous chemicals are not present, so we can rest easy knowing that no chemicals will be rubbed onto delicate newborn skin.

The cotton is not only good for baby but good for the environment. It’s grown with less chemicals, less fertilisers and less damage to the planet.

Also, it should be noted that the Natures Purest factory in Sri Lanka has been awarded a Garments Without Guilt certificate to show that their products are manufactured using well paid labour in comfortable factory conditions. Everyone’s a winner!

To see more of Natures Purest products, click here. I LOVE the So Sweet So Cute collection!

Review: Daylong Compression Hosiery (not as “Old Lady” as it sounds..!)

Remember my 21 week pregnancy update when I mentioned my legs were achey? And then my 27 week update when I mentioned they felt better because I’d been wearing magic tights? Now is the time to behold Daylong Compression Hosiery!

 Compression hosiery might sound like it’s for oldies, in fact just the word hosiery makes me think of Nora Batty but, we ladies love a good pair of tights in the winter!

 My last pregnancy was during the summer so I didn’t have the err…pleasure (!) of attempting to put on a pair tights whilst accommodating an ample tummy. Not to mention the fact that as these bad boys are compression tights, they’re even more of a workout to get into!

 The science says the hosiery works by applying firm and graduated compression to the veins and muscles in your legs, assisting the body’s natural mechanism for returning blood to the heart. The first time I put them on, my legs felt instantly cooled. I thought it was all in my mind but it actually really happens! Because the tights improve circulation, increasing oxygen delivery and blood flow, this can result in a cooling sensation. Who’d have thought.

When ordering your hosiery, you need to ensure you order the correct size. This involves the use of a tape measure! They need to be the correct size to apply the right amount of pressure to your legs.

 I chose to try out the Solidea Magic Maman Anti Cellulite Maternity Tights in 12-15mmHg which is an Extra Light compression – you can also choose Light, Moderate and Firm.  

Here’s a pic of me in the tights (Note: this is clearly NOT me, as if I would do that to you lovely lot! You don’t want to see the real me in tights, trust me it’s better this way!):

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 My legs definitely feel less achey when I wear the tights. I tested them whilst Christmas shopping one evening after a day at work. I wore the tights all day around the office and then all evening around town and my legs ached far less than when I’d done the same thing the week before, without wearing the tights.

Aside from helping my achey legs, they’re also really good for supporting my back and my bump, far more than a normal pair of maternity tights. And to be honest, I’d wear them for this reason alone. The better the support for yourbump, the better your posture and therefore the way you feel. My bump is already very heavy and even just the light support of these compression tights made a difference so I’m really keen to try the firm ones! Especially as my bump gets bigger and my back gets achey.

All in all, I like these tights as they are helping my achey legs but possibly more so, they’re helping support my big bump and in turn, my back. And that’s just from the Light support range. So I imagine the Firm support range to be even better, although I’m not so keen on the thought of actually trying to get those ones on. It might be a two man job..!

 

 *Note: I was sent a pair of Daylong maternity compression hosiery for the purpose of this review.  I have reviewed honestly and all words and opinions (but not photos!) are my own.*

Dribble Bibs (cravats / bandanas / neckerchiefs?!)

My baby is a dribbler. There, I’ve said it! Never before have I encountered so much dribble, no word of a lie, sometimes even his dribble bib dribbles because it’s so full of dribble..!

As bibs go, I’m not really a fan of the standard style but the triangle “bandana” style is a whole other story! Austin has sooo many different makes and colours, he wears them 99% of the time and in fact if he isn’t wearing one, it’s probably because I’ve removed it to take a photo and it’ll be back in postition as soon as the camera has clicked! Now I see them as a way to enhance his little outfits, rather than simply a way to catch his drool.

I think we have tried and tested almost every make and model of dribble bibs and so far we have decided that the best are by a company called Funky Giraffe, who have THE most amazing selection of colours and patterns. Not only is Funky Giraffe eco friendly, but their bibs seem so much more well made than others we have.

A small selection of Austin's many many Funky Giraffe bibs!

A small selection of Austin’s many many Funky Giraffe bibs!

Another good company I found just recently are Dribble Dry Bibs. I saw them on Twitter just before we went on holiday and ordered four different patterns. They arrived in super quick time and look great. They have a cotton top layer with a fleece backing, to slurp up enormous amounts of dribble!

Austin sporting his Robot design Dribble Dry bib!

Isn’t he adorable, I love my little dribble monster! He’ll look so different when he stops needing to wear dribble bibs…I think I will miss them! He only has six teeth so far though so I think  he’ll be sporting them for a while longer. Any other dribble bib recommendations eagerly accepted!!

whattoexpect.co.uk

Once we had managed to make a baby, I couldn’t actually believe it had finally happened…I took four tests, just to be sure!!

Straight away I was online, looking for a due date calculator to see when our little bundle would be making his/her appearance!

From then on, I was online ALL the time (except when I was at work…working hard, obviously!) looking up pregnancy symptoms, morning sickness and most of all, week by week development of my unborn baby.

There is a fab new site in the UK that I was asked to take a look at which holds all of this type of info, it’s based on the Heidi Murkoff bestseller What to Expect When You’re Expecting, the site is – www.whattoexpect.co.uk – I really quite like it!

Everyone has heard of the bestselling film and behind the film is another bestseller, the book! Heidi conceived the idea of What to Expect When You’re Expecting during her first pregnancy when she couldn’t find the advice and reassurance that she needed. It was then that she decided to write her own guide for parents to be. www.whattoexpect.com has been around since 2005 but now, they’ve brought the site to the UK!

The website covers all stages of parenting from Ovulation Trackers for wannabe mums-to-be, to dealing with toddler tantrums (can’t WAIT for that!).

My faves on the site are the things I looked for when I was pregnant:

The Due Date Calculator. Who waits for their “official” due date?! I calculated my own using one of these bad boys and was closer than the date the doctors and scans gave me. Clever mummy!

Due date calculator

Due date calculator

The Week by Week growth tracker for your unborn baby. If you’re anything like me you’ll want to know as much about your baby while he/she is still in your tummy that you can! How big is it? How much does it weigh? Does it look like a baby yet or still a tiny alien? When will I be able to feel him/her kicking? All the answers are here, in a week by week guide.

Pregnancy week by week - week 11

Pregnancy week by week – week 11

The other thing I also read up on during my pregnancy was labour! I was convinced I wouldn’t know when I was having contractions (I hadn’t been able to feel any of my Braxton Hicks!)! Of course, I needn’t have worried..! But I did find it useful to know what early labour signs to look out for and what actually happens (although every labour is different!) from your mucous plug (nice) to having a sweep (also nice) to contractions and full blown labour (REALLY nice!).

So in short, the What to Expect website is a cool addition to your fave pregnancy and parenting websites. Take a look and let me know what you think!