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I will not pretend to be tech savvy, in fact I warn you now I am pretty much the opposite, so this won't be a techy review, more my personal opinion and experiences.
Why did I choose this one?
We got a flyer through the post from talk talk about their new mobile phone deals. This phone was on the leaflet and was the only one which was £5 a month (small plan), that and the added extra that it was pink sealed the deal for me.
What is it?
Samsung Galaxy Y (young) is basically an android smart phone aimed at the younger market. This probably means its a lot more simple than other smart phones on the market. Its a touch screen phone with one button on the front and 2 touch buttons next to it to pretty much control the entire phone. there's then a volume control button on one edge and on/off button on the other edge. simple right? Mine came with a selection of interchangeable backs to customize the look of the phone. I chose pink but there was also silver, white and orange. I also got a 2GB SD card included.
The phone fits perfectly in the palm of my hand (104 x 58 x 11.5mm), I really dislike how nowadays phones seem to be getting bigger and bigger. It is also rounded around the edges which I prefer to the sharp square phones which seem to be making a come back. It weighs 97.5g which I am sure isn't the lightest of phones, but I do like that I actually know I'm holding a phone and not got an empty hand, it doesn't feel too heavy when in use.
Ok techy part... (from samsung.com)
*850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900MHz GSM&EDGE Band
*900 / 2100MHz 3G Band
*GPRS Network&Data: 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 (Slave)
*EDGE Network&Data: 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 (Master)
*3G Network&Data: HSDPA7.2
*Android 2.3 (Gingerbread)
*0.655mW/g SAR value
I'm sure someone will know what all that's about and will find it useful.
This phone is pretty easy to navigate. Everything is basically controlled from one menu which you swipe across to find more options and aps. You can also add your favorite aps to the front screen. You can add as many front screens as you want. I like this because after taking a long time choosing a picture for my wallpaper, the last thing i want is a page full of aps covering it. I usually have the aps just up the sides so I can still see my daughter in the middle.
To send a text you have an option of how to input text, you can have a qwerty keyboard, a number pad and letter recognition which i found to be total rubbish as it didn't recognize many letters and would take forever to send one text.
To answer a call you swipe the screen right to answer, left to reject the call. simple. The sound is ok. you can hear clearly what is been said...that's all you need right?
There is also an option to lock the screen. I do this with a number code, my fiance uses a pattern lock. I prefer the number lock, as sometimes the pattern lock doesn't work fantastic. You need to make sure you touch every dot needed in the code otherwise it wont work, and after a few wrong codes the phone will lock itself and you need to unlock through gmail.
The phone can take photos and videos and is usually my preferred choice when capturing my children's milestones. the photos are good, not fantastic but definitely better than camera phones I have had in the past. the shutter speed is pretty long so I do end up with lots of blurry photos where my children have moved while I was taking the photo. There is no light, but there is a night photo capture. when using this mode you and your subject need to stay still for quite a long few seconds.
You can connect to the internet via this phone. you can use mobile internet or connect via wireless connections. Either way its easy to set up and use and you can view to your hearts content (as long as its within 4 internet windows, and you don't mind the small screen) You can zoom in and zoom out which is a great feature too.
All in all, its a pretty simple phone to use compared to other smart phones (I went on an i phone and WOAH couldn't get anywhere with it!)
I have used samsung phones for many years and find them to be long lasting and hard wearing. This one is probably the first to go against this trend. I have used this for a year now (many of my others lasted 2-3 years before having any problems), and the samsung galaxy y is becoming very sluggish. The touch screen is sometimes slow to react and will do random things such as open pages i didn't ask it to. The phone will also randomly turn itself off, or refuse to let me answer when someone calls. This one certainly isn't long lasting. On the other hand, my fiances phone was dropped in a cup of tea and after being left to dry is fully working again.
I do like how I can browse the internet on the phone (its a first) and aps can be used/played. The picture quality is good for these and I have no complaints.
one niggle i do have is that to take the sd card out i have to take the back off the phone to get to it. This over time is making the back a bit loose, so if it falls a matter of cm the back will shoot off.
I also do not like how easy it is to make an emergency phone call. I lock my phone so "999" cannot be phoned by my children, and was horrified when my children phoned it (accidentally...shes 2 so doesn't know the number) without having to unlock the phone. On the lock page there is a square to press to go to emergency call and it goes to a number pad where you make the call. This square will activate pretty much constantly. 9/10 of the times I put my password in it will send me to the emergency call page. (this knocks off a star!)
Although it is a bit more complicated than any other phone I've had before, I had no problems working out how to use it, this on its own shows how simple this phone is. It may be a bit too simple for the technological teens of today. My 5 year old can use this phone with ease.
Its a tough one....yes its a good phone and yes it is simple. but its not long lasting, but on the other hand teens seem to change their phones regularly so this may not be a problem for them. I would say yes I would recommend, but with a warning about the ease at which you get to the emergency call page.
Why would you choose to buy a safety gate?
When you discover you're expecting a baby you start looking around your once oh so safe house and find so many dangers you had never even thought were dangers. plug sockets become an enemy, as do doors, cupboards and especially stairs. So much can happen on stairs, one small trip and your in hospital with broken bones. Play on them and you can end up in hospital again! as a new mother (father, grandparent...etc) these scenarios play out in our heads until we make it as safe as we can. Needless to say one of the highest priorities when our son was born was to get a good safety gate for the top of the stairs. And it turned out to be a pretty simple choice. Our stairs are wide at the top, too wide for most stair gates so it turned out this lindam extending safety gate was our only option.
If you didn't already know, a safety gate at the top of the stairs need to be fastened to the wall so that it cannot be leant/swung on and fall down. It should also not have a bar across the bottom as this causes a trip hazard. This safety gate meets both those requirements.
How wide does it fit?
This safety gate extends to fit gaps 63.5cm to 102cm so can fit smaller gaps as well as larger ones.
How does it work?
The gate is basically 2 gate panels fastened together. You can have them narrower or wider by adjusting how far they overlap and securing with a plastic box at the top and the bottom when at the desired width.
You screw one side to the wall, on the other wall there is 2 catchment hooks. To close you pull the gate closed, lift slightly so they sit on the hooks, and move a small hinge so it locks the gate in place. to open you move the hinge to one side, lift slightly and push open. It really is simple, and can be done one handed.
Is it sturdy?
In a word...yes. My son is now 5 and a half years so it has had a lot of use. Although he has been told not to, he has had a swing and a climb on the gate and it is still very sturdy in place. we do occasionally check the fixings into the wall to make sure they're still secure, and so far all has been well.
So how much does this life saving contraption cost?
I really can't remember how much we spent on this safety gate, but I'm sure it was around the £25 mark. It can be bought in Tesco or Asda for £20 with free click and collect (or £3 postage) which I think is a great price for this safety gate.
SO there must be some CONS to this?
If I must point out a con, it will have to be that it looks a bit ugly. It wouldn't look out of place as prison bars (ours is grey unlike the picture at the top and newer versions which are white) but I don't think I can even remove a star for this point. does it really matter what something looks like if it saves your child's life?
Would I recommend?
without a doubt yes. This is a great safety gate which stands the test of time. after 5 years it seems as sturdy as it ever was, there's been no bending or warping and no paint chipping off. And the best thing is that it seems to perplex children as to how to open it. My 5 and a half year old is only now able to open it himself, but it takes a lot of effort for him to do it (and he's not stupid!).
For 5 years use £20 works out a bit of a bargain, and I will be using it for a few more years yet.
Definitely 5/5 stars for this.
I don't know if its politically correct to say "tom boy" anymore, its something I heard a lot when I was a child but don't hear much of anymore. But its safe to say my little girl is a tom boy....yet on the other hand she likes to be a girly girl at times. She would happily run around wearing a tutu and wellies all year round. She is also lucky enough to be flat footed, but as she's only just turned 2 all the health visitor could say is to make sure she wears correctly fitted shoes and to keep an eye on it. If shes still flat footed at 3-4 years then they will refer her. I may have digressed a little, but due to this we choose to get her feet measured regularly at clarks (the only place near us which measures length and width) and get them to fit her shoes correctly.
Anyway towards the end of last summer we went camping. My daughter had been wearing clarks doodles most of the summer and they had become soaking wet from the morning dew and paddling in puddles. We thought it best to get her re-measured and look for some new, more waterproof shoes. On this visit we found out her feet had grown and her shoes were now too small, so I had no choice but to buy new shoes there and then. I do hate how clarks is quite expensive and usually choose to buy shoes in the sale, which usually means we are limited to choice. As there were no sales on at this time we let my daughter choose her own shoes. She chose these alana fay boots, priced at £32.
They are an ankle boot made with really soft leather. The colour is girly but not too girly for my "princess tom boy", and the fact they're a boot makes them perfect for her personality.
They fasten with a velcro strap which means you can tighten them as much as you need to, I aren't overly keen on buckles which I find one hole is too loose but the next hole too tight, so velcro is a great addition to get them tight enough without over tightening and damaging those precious soft bones in her feet.
My daughter wore these for about 4 months, which makes the price payed seem even higher. £32 for a pair of shoes which lasts this short a time scale is, in my opinion, overpriced. However they were a great shoe.
My daughter loved putting them on, she was able to run, jump, climb and splash in puddles. Being a boot they gave her feet extra stability, without being restricting at all thanks to the softness of the leather. She even had dry feet after splashing in shallow puddles.
Being soft you would think they would scuff easily and be tatty within a week. You would be wrong. After 4 months continuous wear (I don't buy loads and loads of different pairs of shoes...she gets one pair of quality shoes which she wears everyday with everything!!!) they still look in great condition. The toes are a little scuffed but the deep pink colour seems to hide a lot of the wear and tear and make them stay looking pretty good!
All in all I would certainly recommend these boots. Though I would suggest keeping an eye out for sales. they are currently on sale for £22, and I found a pair of the boys version (brown...similar) in an outlet store for £10! They can be worn with anything, believe me my daughter wore them with jeans, leggings and even a tutu or three. They really do not look out of place with any clothing.
The only star I can deduct is for the price tag, if i had bought them in the sale for £22 I wouldn't be deducting any stars, but as I payed full price they work out very expensive. Other than this point, they are a great shoe which I cannot fault.
When choosing a car seat there are so many things to consider....colour, price, ease of use, safety, how long it can be used for, does it fit in our car?.....and so it cant always be a case of going into a shop and choosing one which looks nice.
We bought this car seat 5 years ago when I had Arthur, I used it again when I had Aoife. I would never suggest buying a 2nd hand car seat or using one which is given to you unless you know for certain it has been well maintained and has never been involved in an accident.
Maxi cosi, at the time of buying, was one of the most popular cars eats around so I sort of wanted what others had, but it was quite expensive. This car seat RRPs at around £135 but we bought in a sale at Halfords for £85.
We chose the all black version, partly because it was the colour in the sale but it was also unisex. could be
When we bought the car seat we had a car without isofix so this car seat was great as it could be secured using just the car seat belt. It can be purchased alongside an isofix base if you do have isofix in your car. The men at Halfords came out to the car and showed us how to fit it and made sure it fit well in our car before they would even sell it to us. Is advisable to check the car seat you wish to buy before purchase as not all car seats fit in all cars. Most reputable car seat stockists will do this free of charge.
As at turns out this is quite an easy car seat to fasten into the car....The car seat is put on the seat with baby facing backwards. The lap strap goes over the babies lap and tucks under some plastic indents at the edge of the car seat, the chest strap goes around the back of the car seat and tucks into another little indent. That's it....simple. One point to note is the handle of the car seat MUST be kept in the upright (carrying) position, this helps to protect baby if there is a crash.
It is also easy to secure baby into the car seat. You lengthen the straps by pressing a button at the foot end of the car seat and pull the over shoulder straps loose. put baby in the car seat and fasten. You then pull a length of strap at the foot of the car seat (near the button mentioned before) and pull until it is secure onto baby. No faffing with buckles, just a simple press of a button and a pull of a strap. Very easy.
Now for the car seat itself. It weighs 3.5 kg but is very sturdy and solidly built. Its intended for babies weighing 0-13 kg. But you may want to move baby into a bigger car seat if they become too long. My daughter now is 2 years old but only weighs 10kg, she is far too long for the car seat and her head would come over the top and the straps wouldn't be positioned correctly. Babies can move to the next stage car seat from 9kg, but I would suggest keeping in a rear facing car seat such as this as long as its safe and comfortable for baby.
The car seat came with a little wedge to put under a newborn babies back and bottom to raise them into a comfortable position in the seat, it also came which a head hugger which made babies head more secure in the seat. There is also a sun shade built into the top of the seat, this is very useful to keep sun of baby while in the car, or to make it a little darker if baby is asleep.
Although I never attatched this to a pram, it is compatable with many different brands of prams, including Airbuggy, Baby Jogger, Babystyle, Bugaboo, iCandy, Maxi-Cosi, Micralite, Mima, Mothercare, Mountain Buggy, Mutsy, Phil & Teds, Quinny, Silver Cross, Stokke and Uppababy. It is my understanding you need adaptors to connect to the pram so it is worth checking if other prams are compatible and how they connect.
I really did like this car seat, it looked classy and washed well. The covers come off completely and can be machine washed. This is very useful if you have a sicky baby!!! It lasted well and even though it was in use for 2 children it still looked in fantastic condition when I gave it away. (again this isn't recommended, but my friend knew how well we looked after it and that it hadn't been in any accidents....).
I would fully recommend this car seat to anyone thinking of buying a car seat, and I would buy another in future if needed. I do think £135 is expensive so I would recommend keeping an eye out for sales and discounts. I cant remove a star for price because who can put a price on child safety?? so its a full 5 stars from me.
As any parent knows it can be a minefield when choosing baby equipment, this is no different when it comes to which cups to give your child. There are so many choices and they can cost a LOT of money. I was given a tommee tippee flip up spout cup from the health visitor at one of my son's health reviews, then another from the local children's centre, and another at weaning clinic so my first few came free, and recommended by health professionals in my area.
So what's so special about this cup?
To be honest there's nothing overly special, its a basic plastic cup with 2 handles and a lid. the spout on the lid can be pushed flat to prevent spillage when out and about. They come in a wide range of colours, we currently own blue, green, aqua/turquoise, pink, red and orange ones.
I have found a few in the pound shop for £1 (if you hadn't guessed), but they can range in price to £2.07 at mothercare and over £3.99 on amazon.
So how are they?
We used them with my son and bought more when I had my daughter so they must be doing something right. They do pretty much what they say they do. they are easy for a baby to hold, and don't spill when closed. Of course if the cup is knocked over with the spout open it will spill but so will any other cup. One downside is if you fill the cup a little too full, when you push the lid on you get a fountain of milk over yourself, your worktops and the roof.
Both my children found this cup easy to use, with both I used at meal times with water from 6 months and from 12 months I substituted their bottles of milk for beakers of milk with no problems.
I can also vouch for how long lasting they are. I still have a few which were used with my son 5 years ago. I have however thrown some of the lids away as my son chewed on them and I didn't feel they were hygienic enough to use a second time around, but the actual cups are still in use and are used for practicing drinking without a lid and as a bowl for snacks.
Over the 5 years the design has stayed the same, so I can fit new lids onto old cups, and I can mix and match the colours. Ok that's a lie, I'm just too lazy to search around to find the right colour lid for the cup so just grab whichever is on top.
I would recommend this cup to parents of young children. they are no frills but do the job they are designed for. I have over the years used different, more fancy (more expensive) cups but we always come back to the trusty old tommee tippee beaker.
I have given this cup 4/5 stars, the star is lost for the times I've had to mop my roof when milk has squirted onto it. Other than that, great cup.
Product: Dylon colour catchers.
Price: 24 sheets for £3.20 at tesco
What is it all about?
Dylon colour catchers are an unremarkable looking sheet of paper which may easily be mistaken for a piece of scrap paper. Alas you would be wrong by thinking this. These sheets actually contain a "pro tex colour system" which is meant to prevent colours running from clothes in the wash. This is meant to allow you to wash mixed loads of clothes, meaning less washer loads which in turn saves energy and money. They are also meant to keep clothes looking bright wash after wash.
They are safe to use when hand washing, washing at all temperatures and fabrics.
The sheets are then biodegradable and can be recycled (apparently!!!)
Why did I use these?
Ok the honest part, I had never thought about using these sheets, until I was sent them for free to try from BzzAgent. Receiving them for free will by no means affect my opinion and review of the product.
Did they work?
To be honest I didn't expect much from these sheets. I put one in the wash with my son's new school uniform (red jumper) and the rest of my mixed load washing. I really didn't expect the jumper to run but when I took out the washing the sheet was pink.
Even washing old clothes I was surprised how much colour ran from them and the murky grey sheet which was removed from the washing.
I also used these sheets after I had used a machine colour dye. I put them in the wash when it was cleaning the drum and it attracted the left over dye and told me that my washer needed another clean. I used it in the next few washes after this and found it grey for a few washes afterwards.
As for recycling, I have no idea where you can take them to be recycled, but part of the BzzCampaign was to use it for art. My children enjoyed cutting them into strips and weaving them, cutting shapes out and sticking them to paper. We also made a lovely dress for a teddy. So they can be reused as art supplies.
Are they worth it?
I'm so glad I used the colour sheets in the wash after using the dye, I feel it helped to keep my clothes free of the left over dye which I wouldn't have known about. I am also glad I used it when washing my son's new uniform, I don't think he would have been impressed if his white PE t-shirt had been dyed pink.
For £3.20 I think they are slightly expensive, and as for saving money.... I think the cost of the product offsets any saving made by mixing wash loads. They do work, and if you only have one or 2 loads of washing a week it may be of use to save you money, but as a busy family who regularly do 2 loads of washing a day, we have plenty of "sorted" full loads anyway without having to worry about mixed loads and colours running.
~*~Why I chose Clarks...
Clarks is a high street shop which every parents must have heard and thought about when buying shoes for their children. They're everywhere and are renowned for good quality (most of the time) and assistants who fit your shoes correctly (some of the time)
Now I've had mixed experience with clarks, but as the only shoe shop anywhere near us that will measure length and width of feet and fit to those measurements it's the only choice we have really. I considered other shops such as mothercare, next, asda but they never seem to fit my thin footed daughter. And when we realised she may be flat footed and her feet were turning over inwards we knew we needed her feet measured properly.
~*~Why choose doodles?
Now to summer....my little princess needed something to wear while it was hot....sandals didn't give as much support as I wanted so I chose doodles.
The clarks range of doodles are canvas shoes with a soft(ish) sole. Initially the assistant tried selling me some with a very soft sole, pretty but not practical when we live on a dirt track/stony bumpy road. There are a lot of doodles in the design shown in the picture above, but loads of different colours and designs to suit every child. We chose the hot pink with unicorn design (constance may) which had slightly harder soles and cost £16.
~*~Are they any good?
We love them, they look girly but also practical. They fit securely and have never slipped on her feet. She has worn them without socks and has never suffered with rubbing or blisters.
One of the best things is that these shoes are washable. Stick in a normal 30 degree wash, reshape whilst wet and leave to dry. Over the summer ours were washed about 5 times. They've also been used for paddling in the pool, she was able to get in and out and run around without having to keep putting shoes on and taking them off again. We also potty trained this year so being able to put shoes in the wash after an "accident" is very useful.
ONE thing I will say, if you wash these a few times they will shrink slightly. after a summer of use and washing I had my daughter re-measured and she was the same size...HOWEVER the shoes did fit but only just, with no room for growth. (clarks shoes usually have half a size growing room)
One thing I really didn't like was the fastening. You put the strap through a gap and push the catch down. When the shoes were new this is very stiff so you end up putting a lot of pressure onto your child's foot to fasten the shoe.
~*~Would I recommend?
I would recommend these shoes to anyone looking for a sturdy summer shoe. Also to anyone potty training these are a fantastic shoe which is easily washed. I will definitely be buying again next year for my daughter.
Product: Dylon wash and dye.
Colour tried: velvet black
Price: £5.11 on amazon, around £5.50 in stores.
Why did I choose this product?
As a member of Bzzagent, I was given the opportunity to test dylon wash and dye black velvet. Receiving this for free in no way alters my judgment and review on this product.
How does it work?
The idea of dylon wash and dye is that you simply pour the product into your washing machine, put in the items you want to dye and turn on the machine. There is no need for extra salt and no dampening of material beforehand. The results are meant to be permanent and colours wont run or fade.
The final colour is determined on the amount of material being dyed, and what the material is. Cotton and linen will dye to full colour (black), whereas Polyester/Cotton Mixes and Polyester/Viscose mixes will dye to a reduced shade (grey). Also 500g of fabric being dyed will dye to the full shade but 1000g of fabric will dye to a reduced shade.
My personal experience of using this product...
As a one income family I very rarely get chance to treat myself to new clothes, so many of my clothes are greying, food stained (weaning a baby....ARGH food gets everywhere) and general fading of colour so I jumped at the chance to try this product.
I read the instructions and was surprised how easy it sounded. I tipped the dye into the drum and put in a few white (well more grey) vest tops and a pair of grubby grey trousers. I turned on the machine and almost screamed as the whole drum window turned black. I went away and left it to work...praying the results would be worth it and my machine wouldn't be unusable afterwards.
After one wash you put on the washer again with the dyed clothes inside. Again I was surprised how much dye was in the machine whilst washing.
After this cycle you remove the dyed fabrics and put the washing machine on again with your normal detergent to clean the machine.
This should be the end of the cleaning of the machine but I put it on again with a scoop of vanish and a dylon colour catcher sheet to see if anymore dye was floating about. After this wash the sheet was grey....DARK GREY! which meant that there was still dye in the machine. I put it on another wash cycle with another colour catcher sheet and this time it came out a light grey, so although most of the dye was gone there was still a little left. I made sure I only washed darks for the next few washes and used a colour catcher sheet to check for dye.
I was quite disappointed with the fact it should have only taken 3 washes (1 dyeing, 1 rinsing dyed fabric and 1 for cleaning the machine) but it took 2 more empty loads on top of that and a few dark washes before I could happily use my machine as normal.
As for the clothes, I am very happy with the results. My vest tops are all cotton and have dyed to full colour and look like new clothes. The stitching Must have been a polyester blend because it didn't dye but I think it adds to the look, I personally like the contracting stitching. The trousers are a cotton/polyester blend and so have dyed dark grey. Initially I was happy with the colour but after about 5 washes they have started to fade a bit and look a bit scruffy. The tops however have washed very well and after a few washes are still dark velvet black.
I would probably use this again if I were wanting to spruce up some old clothes, I would maybe choose a different colour though so all my clothes don't end up black. I would recommend it to others to try too.
I'm taking off a star for the extra machine cycles that needed running, as this was meant to save me having to buy new clothes, the extra machine washes, colour catcher sheets, vanish and detergent in wash...not to mention the stress and worry that my whites being washed after may come out grey.
My fiancé is always moaning I never clean my bag out and I have too much stuff I will never need. But in my opinion its better to be prepared than caught short.
I admit I have quite a few receipts kicking around the bottom of my bag, but if I take them out my fiancé will throw them on the fire. Then he'll end up complaining that I didn't keep the receipt of a product which has broken, or a piece of clothing which doesn't fit. Well that's my excuse anyway.
Now for the useful stuff. I have the usual keys and purse, and usually a wad of coupons which "may" come in handy. Take for example the other week my son was spending his birthday money on lego. In boots I found a double points coupon and in WH Smiths I had a 20% off coupon....in total it saved him £7.50 which went towards other things.
As a women I need to keep a small supply of monthly items, just in case the little visitor arrives early. And I have a small bottle of clear nail varnish just in case I ladder my tights.
Now, as a mum I have to be prepared for everything my children and their father don't think of.... the usual nappies, wipes and cream, but now my daughter is potty training I also have a couple of pairs of thin leggings and underwear. I also have plasters...which my fiancé said would never be used but he wasn't complaining when he needed them for a blister when we were camping and nowhere near a shop!!
I also have a pen or 2, these can be useful for jotting things down (usually on the back of a receipt....see another use for them!!) or for passing to the kids when I need them to sit and be quiet a minute say in the bank or the doctors. Again leaflets or expired coupons can be doubled as drawing paper.
I also usually have a cup of juice on the go because you can guarantee as soon as you get out of the house the children will suddenly decide they are dying of dehydration.
Then there's the bobbles and clips kicking around amongst the receipts.... always handy with a child with flyaway curly hair who likes to throw her bobbles out of the pram when you're not looking.
And now winter is arriving, I have a few pairs of gloves and a hat each for the kids...in summer these are replaced by sun cream and sun hats.
Last but not least, and probably the most important item(s) in my bag is my little pocket of sauce sachets. Sometimes....some things just will not get eaten by the kids unless its smothered in tomato sauce, and the in laws refuse to buy tomato sauce then expect my kids to eat their tasteless food.... its a good job I have a supply in my bag or they'd starve!!
So as you can see I have a LOT of stuff in my bag. Some may say a lot of it is useless or junk, but for me everything has a purpose or a "just in case".
Some people love buying pushchairs and prams and will buy many different ones over the years their children use them. I however, like to keep my money in my pocket and not waste it. My son was the lucky one, he had a brand new (albeit ex display) silver cross 3d, and a brand new (albeit end of season sale) baby jogger city mini when he outgrew the silver cross. My poor daughter had a 2nd hand silver cross 3d, and a second hand baby jogger. But it was fine because they were still in quite good condition.
However once she outgrew the silver cross we sold it on ebay and got out the baby jogger and only had one pram in the house. THEN....one fateful morning it was pouring with rain, we were running late for the school run and the front wheel fell of the baby jogger!!!! I almost screamed as I scooped my daughter out, ran the pram back to the house and then ran to the bus stop. I then had to carry my 9 month old daughter in the pouring rain the one and a half miles home. I then spent the rest of the day looking online for a new how pushchair. There weren't any sales so I was surprised just how expensive prams and pushchairs were, even second hand ones seemed expensive. I eventually stumbled upon freecycle, and it must have been fate because our local site had a pram listed. I quickly sent her an email telling her about my pram disaster and asked (nicely!!! remember manners cost nothing) if it was available and could I please be considered for it. I got a message back saying it was ours!!!! YEY!!!
the pram turned out to me a Mamas and Papas Pulse. It was a bit grubby but after a good wash and scrub it looks almost brand new.
As I got mine from freecycle I paid nothing but fuel to collect, but full price it will set you back £135. Its currently in the sale at Tesco for £85.
Its a lovely jet black colour, which means its neutral and can be used for either boy or girl, with padded head pillow and shoulder protectors, which make it comfortable for your child to sit in. It also has a 5 point harness for safety when out and about.
Its suitable from birth and can be used until your child is 15kg. The seat reclines and the leg rest can be locked up or dropped down.
There is a quite large basket underneath the seat, which is very useful for carrying things when out and about.
It is an umbrella fold pushchair and weighs just over 7kg, which is quite light and makes it easy to lift in and out of cars.
When folded it is 33cm x 29cm x 104cm, which isn't as compact as my previous baby jogger, but isn't too large.
As I said my previous pram gave up on me and I got this free so I really didn't have any choice as to which pram I got nor of colour. However I am very happy with what I got. Its easy to put up quickly, which is a MUST when I am doing the school run and we're usually short of time. The seat is quite upright which my daughter loves because she can see everything on the walk to and from school. She hasn't fallen asleep in the pram but it is easy to lay down and easy to sit back up.
Pushing the pram is easy and smooth thanks to swivel wheels, which can also be locked straight.
Putting the pram down is also easy, as with any umbrella fold pram, they can seem a bit of a faff at first but once you've done it once its easy....push a handle, pull another handle and fold in half....simple.
There are however a few downsides. Once folded I have to store it stood up. The brake bar sticks out at a 45 degree angle and as its metal it can cause a bit of pain and bruises if you walk into it. If you leave the break off the bar doesn't stick out, but it does tend to roll and fall over.
I find this pram to be a bit front heavy, but I have been used to a baby jogger which is a totally different shape. If you bump down curbs (naughty I know but sometimes necessary) you have to lift the front wheels up and bump the back wheels down, my baby jogger could go down front wheel first.
Other than that it is a great pushchair.
I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a pushchair for their older baby/toddler. I probably wouldn't use it for a new born, but that's personal choice and I prefer a bit more comfort for a new born. I think at full price it is a bit expensive, but at £85 its reasonable compared to other similar prices pushchairs which are a lot less padded.
I give it 4/5 stars, it loses one for the 2 small niggles.
Anyone with a child who takes packed lunches to school will know how necessary a good drinks bottle is. In my sons year in reception we went through quite a few drinks bottles and then settled on sending him with his little sisters nuby flip it....which he'd knock as he put away and end up leaking before he got home. I actually grew to hate opening his lunch box and surveying the mess of soggy crisps and puddle of juice. I tried sending him with my sports bottle, yet he found it difficult to close the lid properly and so it would leak....again.
This year I did my research and came upon the sistema drinks bottles. They are a clever little invention where the drinking spout emerges from the top when you twist the lid. Another twist and it disappears back into the bottle and closes.
We bought our bottle from asda for £2, in purple with a green spout. It holds 330ml, which is plenty big enough for a drink with lunch for my son.
The bottle is made from quite soft plastic, but seems strong enough for our purpose: a 5 year old's lunch box. Its also easy enough for him to open and close himself, which is great as it means he can make sure there aren't any leaks in his lunch box.
In the 2 weeks we've used it for school (as well as the few weeks at home he insisted on using it before he started school) we have had no leaks from it. At school his lunch box lays down, and has been dropped and kicked around and it has stood up to all this and kept all drinks safely locked inside.
For £2 this is a great bottle and I am planning on buying another one soon for him to use as a water bottle in class.
I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a bottle which is easy to open and doesn't leak....which is everyone really!!!
Definitely 5/5 stars for this one!!
As a family we enjoy camping, its cheap and the kids love it. For a while we've been camping within 2-3 hours drive from where we live, but after exhausting all places we wish to visit around here, we decided to go further afield. However with 2 children a 7 hour drive to Cornwall or a 10 hour drive to top of Scotland seemed out of the question. After finding a lovely looking campsite on the isle of Skye we decided with a stop overnight half way it would break up the 10 hour drive. The next problem we had was our tent....its HUGE!!! its 8 man, 2 bedroom, high enough to stand up in....and no way we were putting it up for just one night. So we decided to invest in some pop up tents.
The Tents we chose....
The regatta pop up tent is a 2 man tent and can be put up in seconds. It takes longer to hammer in the guide ropes but even then it can be fully up and ready to sleep in within 5 minutes
This review is of the dotty spotty tent as shown in the picture. Its black with white spots and is single skin with a double door (fly/bug net and the normal door) which makes it great if you find yourself camping in a midge hot spot.
This tent also boasts a 2000mm hydrostatic head....this means it can withstand 2000mm of rain/water for a minute before it starts leaking, this is quite a high rating and good for year round camping.
It RRPs at £49.99 but its worth looking around for deals. We got ours not long after Glastonbury and they were reduced to £14.99 each.
What's it good for?
*This tent would be great at a festival. I have never been to one before but I can imagine it can be difficult to spot your tent in the sea of campers. This one is a bit different to other tents, its black and white spots do stand out from a crowd of plain green or blue.
*Great for one nights camping
*I also see on the cbeebies programme, that Mr Tumble also at times uses this tent (though he seems to have a few different tents) so it seems this tent is great for signing clowns.
How many does it sleep?
This tent sleeps 2....but it DOES not fit a double air bed. We do like to sleep on air beds but the boys ended up sleeping on the ground as their air bed wouldn't fit. However I managed to fit a single air bed in mine as well as the Samsonite pop up travel cot my daughter slept in.
There would be plenty of room for 2 people sleeping in sleeping bags, or even 3 at a squeeze.
To put up is easy....you take out of the bag and it pops open. You could throw in the air, but this runs the risk of the tent blowing away if a gust of wind decides to blow at that exact moment. So its advisable to hold onto the tent as it pops open....unless of course you enjoy running across the camp site chasing your tent.
To put down fold the ends into the middle so you are holding the 4 arches of the tent and they've made a loop at both ends. Fold one loop over and 2 loops pop out sideways, fold them both over into the middle and there you go.... simple??? sorry it may sound like gobble-de-gook, but its easy and takes less than a minute. Then you simply put into the bag and away you go.
Its always advisable to get the tent out again once you're home and let it dry fully, this will ensure you don't get any mould or damp on your tent which is not only unsightly but can ruin your tent. Not to mention its probably a risk to health sleeping in a tent full of mould.
We used this tent a few times now on half way stops. It is the easiest tent ever to put up, there are no annoying poles and not many ropes to hammer in the ground. We also found it quite easy to fold back up.
The tents are sturdy enough, and although it wasn't particularly windy or wet when we used them I am sure they would withstand as much wind as other tents.
We managed to find a midge hotspot on our stop over on the shore of lock Lomond, luckily we could sit inside the tent with the door open but the bug door closed, as get some fresh air as well as keep the little blood suckers at bay.
As it is only single skin its advisable to keep clothes away from sides, condensation can build up and cause everything to get wet through overnight.
One thing I found with this tent is that the white spots do not stay white for long. we now have a black tent with green, brown and grey spots. White is not recommended for camping and outdoors, never mind camping, outdoors AND children. It looks a bit grubby and will probably get worse when its used again. I must add we haven't had a very wet camping experience in this tent, I can imagine with a bit of rain and a bit of mud it will look very dirty indeed.
I would recommend this tent, its easy to put up and easy to fold up. It also comes in some great patterns to make you stand out from the crowds. HOWEVER I would probably not recommend this pattern. white and camping does not mix.... Also keep an eye out for deals....at full price it is expensive, at the price we got it they were very good value. for this tent I give it 3/5 stars, 2 stars are taken off for the high RRP and the grubbiness of this pattern.
Why go camping
Since having our son 5 years ago, we have become a family with one wage coming in. Because of this we are no longer able to afford holidays abroad and have taken up camping as a result. I cant complain about this because my children love being outside and are always excited when they know were going camping. We've recently returned from our latest camping trip and so I will be reviewing some of the items we used while there.
Before we had our son, me and my fiancé (boyfriend at the time) set off with a tent, sleeping mats, sleeping bags, a little stove and 2 mess tins (pans) which doubled as dishes to eat from. We fit everything, including our dog in a Peugeot 207. Now...As a family we enjoy a little bit of comfort, not quite "glamping*" but we like to be comfortable. We now have a larger tent, blow up beds, tables, chairs.....etc etc.
The item being reviewed here is the argos folding camping table and 4 stools. We bought this last year when we decided eating on our knees wasn't practical for 2 children. We looked around and decided to buy from argos as it was the most convenient shop to get to and was a good price.
It has a RRP of £29.99 but is often reduced to a lower price. We paid £19.99 in the sale
The dimensions when folded are 10cm x 85.5cm x 39.2cm (HxLxW)
When open the dimensions are 67cm x 85.5cm x 65.5cm (HxLxW)
The weight of the table is 8.5kg and is the same when open as when folded.
The table top and stools are made of plastic and the frame is steel. The table top has a hole in the middle to put an umbrella in, but we don't have one of these so its usually just used for posting bits of food through when the kids don't want it!!!
The stools have a circular dent and a hole in them. The dent makes them quite comfortable to sit on, and the hole is presumably to let rain water run through, after all who wants to sit on a seat with a puddle on it!
I have heard some people complain they are not very sturdy, well ours has had an 18 month old climb onto the table top and it hasn't bent or broken.
I am not sure if the product has changed as we bought last year, but we have a blue version not black like the picture in the dooyoo catalogue. In fact I have never seen a black version of this table, and there are countless blue ones on show on the camp sites we've been at. I even saw a red one but never a black.
Storing the table
The table when folded is easy to store, we put our in the shed. When travelling it fits perfectly in our trailer (yes we now need a trailer AND a roof box....that's what kids does for you!!!). When camping we leave it folded in the trailer until we need it for meal times. this means we have more room in the tent in case it rains
and we all have to pile inside. We don't like leaving it outside as it is so light i'm sure a big gust of wind may just blow it away.
Folding and Unfolding
To put it up is easy and can be done in a matter of minutes. Last year my fiancé did the building of the table, but this year I did most of the putting up of the table while he did the cooking. Unfortunately the instructions had been long since lost, or maybe they were wet or blown away on our last camping trip which saw half the camp site blown away (another story altogether...) but I had to put up the table without instructions. So
how did it go.....in a word....EASY!!!!
You open the catches and open the table top flat onto the floor. you then insert a small peg into the edge of the table top to keep it open. next you unfold the seats out and push a catch to lock them out. then unfold the legs and push another catch to lock them.... turn the right way up and your ready to go.
To put away you do all of the above in reverse and within a minute or two its put away again.
Once up you have a nice size table and 4 stools.
This table is plastic so should never be used with cooking equipment or barbeques, it will simply melt and leave you with a big hole in your table. It may seem silly to mention this but I know someone who put their disposable BBQ on a plastic stool!!!
Also I know I mentioned my daughter climbing on it, this is not recommended as it will hurt if they fall....my daughter was removed from the table and told "no". I merely said this to show it didn't break and is stronger than it looks.
I would fully recommend this to anyone who is going camping. For us it's been great to be able to sit around a table and eat meals together whilst camping, even my 18 month old sat at the table, and it simply wipes clean after use. Its easy to fold and open and is light to carry. I am also happy with the sturdiness of it and as long as my child snaps out of her thinking she's a monkey and has to climb on anything and everything, I think it should last us many years of use.
*GLAMPING....glamourous camping....all the mod cons, practically a hotel room outside! To be quite honest if you're going to buy ALL the glamping equipment you may as well stay in a hotel or a caravan. Or at our latest camp site they have wooden wig wams with hot tubs!!!
*Getting to know a little girl who wanted a pram that wasn't hers....
Since my daughter was born I yearned to buy her girly things, a doll, tea set, pram....etc. Though I always suspected she would be a tom boy, after all she has an older brother who goes to taekwondo, and she always tries to join in. In fact they practice their taekwondo together at home (its very cute to watch them get the smartie pads out....but that's another review altogether)
Anyway....recently we went to a christening, and after the ceremony we stayed and played with the toys in the play room and my daughter found some toys she had never played with before. She found a doll, pushed it head first into a little pram and pushed it around for half a hour until we left.
It didn't leave her side.
It went into a play house, back out of the play house, into the book corner, to the table.....and when it was time to go she tried to take it out of the church with her. Cue a paddy, screaming, throwing herself around and eventually the pram being dragged from her hands and her carried kicking and screaming away.
Now you may ask why after that she managed to get a doll pram? We certainly do not reward bad behaviour, nor do we "give in"" to a paddy. She was well behaved at the party, ate all her dinner and behaved once we had gone home, so we decided to look for her own pram for her dolly.
*Choosing the right pram....
We looked around at different dolls prams and I was surprised at the price of them, and the poor quality of many of them. In the end I decided I would look on ebay and I came across the baby annabell stroller.
I paid £5 for this stroller, and postage was free as it was collected from just up the road (lucky or what). It does however retail at £16.99 on toys r us, or £16.45 on amazon (with 10p postage!!!)
The stroller is a basic white metal frame, with pink padded handles. The wheels are pink plastic and the seat is material patterned with multi coloured dots, each with a little lamb inside. There is a good quality harness and buckle to fasten "dolly" into, as well as a pink mesh shopping basket at the back. It folds up quite small, and when put up you click the back bar into place, and slide 2 catches at the sides to keep it all up. There is also safety catches (a metal hoop) just under the catches that slide, which ensure that its very difficult to fall down, even if it isn't put up correctly and is safe for little hands.
The stroller weighs 1.2kg, and is 71cm high.
It does state that this is not suitable for children under 3 years, but I think that's mainly to do with putting the pram up and down, we keep our pram up all the time unless we are taking it in the car, in which case I fold it down and put it back up when we're at our destination. My 18 month old is small for her age, still wears 9-12 month clothes but has no problems with the height of the handle and no problems pushing it or turning it.
*The day daddy brought home a pram....
Daddy walked through the door and was greeted with "hello daddy, let me see" and was soon peeping inside the bag he had in his hands. When she saw what it was she was ecstatic with a big grin on her face. Her brother ran and got her cabbage patch doll (but that's another review altogether...) and I put it in. Although this pram is made to hold baby annabell, a cabbage patch doll fits perfectly in the seat and fastens in securely. The stroller was an immediate success and walked up and down the lounge multiple times.
*Move over brother....dolly needs to sit here....
The first night the stroller was at our house, my daughter lifted it onto the sofa and plonked it on top of her brother....he promptly moved to one side and she climbed up between dolly in stroller, and her brother. He was sternly told "NO" so he wouldn't touch the stroller. There the dolly sat, in a stroller on the sofa, until bed time when it folded up ready for a camping trip the next day.
*Rainy days are good days for walking....
Well I mentioned camping, and with our never ending luck we managed to choose a day where it was pouring with rain when it came to put up our tent. After a 2 and a half hour drive my children were like caged animals and didn't care about a little bit (or a lot) of rain, and wanted to play....so out came the pram and dolly.
Unfortunately the pram doesn't come with a rain cover, so dolly got wet, and so did the stroller. Luckily we found that the stroller dried pretty quickly once it stopped raining.
My daughter has been walking since 10 months, but she has never really RUN!! She does a sort of fast walk, but never a full on, both feet off the ground run. That was until she got in a big open camp field and her stroller....and a hill! I'd turn my back and turn again to see my daughter going full speed down hill pushing her doll in her stroller....yes....thanks to this little stroller my daughter has learnt to run!!! and she's not slow.
This stroller is quite sturdy, but I wouldn't recommend you use it as a walking aid for a child learning to walk. It should only be used once your child can keep their balance well.
*Keep away from cars....
I don't need to tell you to keep your children away from roads and cars which are moving, but I would also suggest you keep your child and this stroller away from any PARKED cars. My fiancé prides himself on taking good care of the car, he washes and polishes, cleans inside and vacuums and only last week went mad that a bird pooped on it.... so how could I tell him that his daughter got her pram wheel stuck on a tent guide rope, swung the pram around and scratched down the side of the car....ooops!!! so yes.... keep away from parked cars or there is a risk that there will be scratches!!!
As you can see the stroller is light enough for even small toddlers to move around. She can do all the pushing and turning herself because it's so light and easy to push.
*Plenty of storage in the basket....
As with any parent pushing a stroller, my daughter has a lot of "stuff" she needs when she takes dolly for a walk. The mesh bag at the back of the stroller is very useful for her to put it all in, and ensure she has her hands free to carry her bag and push the stroller.
She manages to fit in it; her teddy/blankie, a cup of juice, crayons, dolly's teddy, mobile phone. and her bag with tea set in hangs on the handle.
I wouldn't hesitate in recommending this stroller, its good quality and a lot sturdier than other strollers. It also looks really pretty and the padded handles add a bit of comfort when pushing the stroller. the harness is also good quality and our dolly doesn't fall out once fastened in, even when the stroller is swung upside down (thanks to her brother)
all in all a great stroller and definitely worth 5/5 stars.
A few years ago my son was very "in" to trains. we decided to buy him a train set and some trains and upon seeing the Thomas the tank engine take and play sets, we decided these were the trains for him. We could add to his set as he got older as well as them being good quality. The trains retail at around £5 each and are die cast metal.
The problem we had was his trains would get lost in the bottom of his train track box, so for his birthday we decided to buy him the Thomas carry case.
We initially saw it in argos for around £16 including 3 trains (Thomas, Toby and Arthur). Upon more searching we found it in a local toy shop for £16 WITHOUT the trains. We decided argos would be the place to buy it and put it on the list for grandma to buy.
BUT THEN... upon browsing home bargains one day, we found the exact same case, with the 3 trains for under £6!!! a total bargain so we snapped it up and crossed it off the birthday list. To buy separately at the independent toy shop would have been over £31 so a great £25 saving. These prices were in 2011, it seems now this version has been replaced by one which opens down and has a track built in behind Thomas's face.... these can be bought for £16.99 on play.com, a good price considering you get some track with it too. You can get the original one from amazon for £19.99 with no mention of extra trains.
The case is made of blue plastic, which is quite sturdy. Its been used as a step at times and so far after a few years use, has no cracks or breaks. It is in the shape of Thomas from the front, you see his face and the outline of his "body". There is also a red handle so you can carry it around, and a slidey lock at the side so you can lock the case and keep those trains in their place when storing or carrying.
It measures 21cm x 26cm x 8cm (w/h/d) so isn't overly big. Inside there are plastic spacers which make 7 holes for your trains to go to sleep in. The top hole is the whole width of the case and you can fit 2 trains and their trailers or larger trains (henry and his trailer and diesel 10 live here). Underneath there are 3 spaces which fit 3 trains, and another 3 spaces to fit 2 trains in (normal small size...Thomas, toby, James, etc.)
Overall this is a good quality carry case. We have had it for 3 years now and its still in great condition. My son knows to put his trains in here so he doesn't loose them in his track box, so on days he only wants the trains out we don't end up with piles of track on our floor while he searches for the train he wants. In this carry case he can see easily where the train he wants is so he can get to it easily and put the rest away. Also considering we got it at such a bargain price, it has been fantastic value for money.
I would definitely recommend this for any Thomas fans out there. 5/5 stars from me