- Premium reviews
- Express reviews
- Reviews rated
- Ratings received
With my first born I was given a list from the hospital antenatal class, and I went out and brought it all, being my first I didn't have a clue and figured if its from the hospital then it must be all needed. I never made that mistake when expecting my second child as I didn't use half of the items for my first child.
Its difficult knowing what to pack in your hospital bag, as everyone's labour is different, what is essential is different for each person and their labour. As for the postnatal bag - well thats the same, how long will you be in for, depending on the type of labour you have. The other problem is there really isn't much space in the hospitals to house all your suitcases!!
They recommend packing your bags about 32 weeks onwards, with my first I think i packed it all about 30 weeks and with my second I think I packed it much later as I went overdue with my first and knew I would with my second.
I would recommend either one small suitcase, using plastic carrier bags to put the different items in, like one for the baby's first clothes, going home clothes, etc then the carrier bags come in useful for the dirty washing. Otherwise maybe packing 2 small holdalls, personally I found the suitcase better as it was on wheels and fit everything in.
I was also told to make a pile of 'extras' at home so hubby knew where to find them should you need more nappies/clothes etc, I had one friend who asked her hubby to bring some more pants and knickers in, he brought her pre-pregnancy jeans she couldn't fit into and thongs...go figure that one!!!
Also it maybe worth keeping some bits and bobs in the car that isn't needed until the ward, so you are just taking in things for the labour.
Organisation is the key, as even though I didn't take as much for my second and packed much later, I forgot shampoo and shower gel, as I had to be bed bathed last time due to not being able to get out of bed!! Luckily someone had left some in the shower room!
For my first my main useful items were, ipod (to drown out noise), straws to drink the water, lip balm (gas and air is thirsty work).
Here is my list:
Shower gel/ Shampoo/conditioner - first time around and didn't need, forgot them second time around and needed
Maternity pads - lots of, I needed more first time around due to my pph
Nightie to give birth in
Coming home clothes - mat jeans, mat top, socks, trainers
Knickers - I brought asda's smart price ones so I could chuck them
Dressing Gown - never used first time, but needed second time
Slippers - I brought cheap ones to chuck
Books and Magazines, needed for second time
Cereal bars/snacks (these were so important for first time around, with me losing so much blood they wouldn't feed me while on a drip so I could sneak eat these)
Pen and paper - useful to write my birth story
Lansinoh, I wish I took first time around with me
arnica tablets and cream
Babygros x 4
Vests x 4
I then packed my suitcase in order of things needed so stuff for the labour at the very top, like stuff for me and baby then bits for the ward at the bottom, saved pulling everything out.
I also labelled the carrier bags with all the babies' bits for the second time around as hubby couldn't find everything.
I would like to put the record straight with Audi and their so called 'reputation'. I know most big dealers are renowned for ripping their customers off, but I would like to share my experience.
I had a 3 door Megane (now Renault were rubbish for customer service) and we needed a 5 door car and something with a decent boot as we had just had our first child, and needed to get the pushchair and two Labradors in the back. We went and had a look at the Audi garage in Chester (now Cheshire Oaks) just to look at the A3, but the boot was smaller than the Megane. Then a car caught my eyes, and oh boy did I love it. I love my cars so wanted something fast, reliable and sporty looking and there it was...
The Audi A4 avant, 2.0 TDI 170 BHP, it looked fab in sporting red, and it just got better as the salesman showed us the inside and all of its specs. Included in the model I was looking at was a Bose system, and I love my music, and boy did the beat sound good in it. It had 40,000 on the clock too, so for a diesel it wasn't even run in. Anyway putting that aside I thought we would ask about the price, we were told for a 56 plate (so it was a year old at that point) £18k, which I thought was really good, considering the same model but for that year should have been £26k or so.
We went inside and talked figures, haggled a little bit off, and part-exchanged my megane. The sales guy was very efficient, not too pushy and listened to our needs and what we could afford etc, and gave us a good deal on finance, so the car would cost £250 a month for 3 years with a balloon payment.
I was also given 2 years free service and some other fab extras.
I couldn't wait to pick up the car, and on my arrival, the smallest of scratches were removed even off the alloys, fully cleaned inside and out, it smelt like a brand new car, and the car looked red hot. I was also given some lovely gifts including a fabulous bunch of flowers, I have never received that from a car garage before despite always having brand new cars.
Then the garage moved as it was only a small building to house the cars, they never had space for all models including the R8. The move was good as it meant it was down the road for me, so became useful when its service was due etc.
My car was due its first service, I was worried about the cost of the service with Audi but I then realised I had 2 years free service. My car came back lovely and clean too which was a bonus. I was also given my own personal chauffeur to take me home and pick me up to go back to the garage, and the driver was lovely. Out of the 2 times my car has been in now, they have fixed things free of charge, like the brake light was out one time and the fixed it out of courtesy, then one of my lights had gone, they fixed it too.
I then had a problem when we went down south in the car, not a major one but on the way back I took the car in and they looked at it there and then, it was a small but a warranty job and they were really good.
On my next service, one of the headlamps was getting a lot of condensation in it, they said they would fix it while under warranty so it wouldn't cost me anything, and a seal on the door was lose, so they ordered new parts in for it.
You may think there were lots of problems with the car, but I don't see it that way, all were minor and haven't cost me a penny so far.
The next wonderful thing to come from the garage...I need to top up my oil, so I rung them to see if they had some in stock, he said they did and gave me a price, when I turned up he poured it in and said the system was down, so couldn't charge me for the oil...bargain.
I was then worried when the MOT was due, but Audi have the free mot test at the moment, but I thought they will add problems/issues to get their money back when the problems don't exist, so I was surprised when my car came back and had passed its MOT, again costing me nothing.
The staff at Cheshire Oaks Audi are lovely, and very efficient, I haven't had a problem with them and I really love Audi as a car, its very reliable and a lovely looking car, and would recommend to anyone. When we can afford it, we will get an Audi for hubby too.
My 4 week old just wouldn't sleep or settle and the more she wouldn't the more overtired she would get. I started googling different products and for different people's advice/tips and came across the Prince Lionheart original slumber bear. Even health visitors and paediatricians recommended it.
I read up as many different reviews as possible and the outcome was pretty much the same for everyone, all babies loved this product and it helped them to sleep...well that was me sold, I then tried to find somewhere I could go and buy one on that day! I didn't want to order online even though I could get it cheaper as I was desperate.
I found it in mothercare and it cost £30. Excitedly I couldn't wait to get it home, only to find it didn't work, I was gutted. At first I thought it was the batteries but then I tested batteries in something else and they worked. Luckily mothercare is open until 8pm so at 7pm I toddled off to swap it!!
The next one worked, unfortunately the product didn't work as in help get my daughter to sleep.
Let me tell you about it.
The slumber bear is a cuddly bear which now comes with a little comfort blanket too. It comes with a sound box which plays different sounds to help soothe baby to sleep. The sound box can be put inside the teddy, but we left it out.
The sounds are white noise, which I believe is take from an aeroplane, ocean waves, 3 different lullaby's and an actual recording from inside the mother's womb, supposedly having a calming effect on baby as that is what baby is used to. You can also record your own voice too. My daughter didn't like any of them!
The sound box is motion and sound activated so when baby cries or moves it should go off, but it doesn't always go off. The down side to this is it automatically switches off after 5 minutes, but there should be an option to have it continuously playing until the parent turns it off.
There is a volume button allowing for you to increase or decrease the volume too.
There are also straps that allow the bear or the sound box to be hung up, once baby gets older so it is out of their reach.
The quality of the bear, blankie and sounds are really good, its just a shame my daughter didn't take to them. Overall it seems like a really good product and a lot of people swear by it, I just wish it worked for us
Avent Isis Breast Pump
With my first daughter I planned to breastfeed her, but didn't really research breast pumps, as they all say breastfeeding is the natural thing to do, so I assumed it would be easy...as you do.
Then my problems started in the hospital of incorrect attachment, resulting in cracked nipples. As we left the hospital I asked mum to buy me a breast pump from mothercare, so I could express some milk and let my nipples heal a little. I didn't really know much about breast pumps, I just told her to buy one that was 'reasonably' priced.
She came home with the Avent Isis Breast Pump - which is a manual pump.
A breast pump has also allowed my husband to feed both daughters when I have expressed milk off so he doesn't feel left out ( I am successfully breastfeeding my 2nd daughter this time around).
The pump has also helped to up my supply, especially in the early days when I had a very jaundiced and sleepy baby who wouldn't feed long.
This particular pump is a manual pump, although the electric pump is also available (more on this later).
There were a lot of pieces that came with the pump, but the instructions are easy to follow, and I soon had the pump put together and ready to use.
The pump is very easy to use, and you can control the rate of pumping with it being a manual pump. You can also control the intensity of the suction by how far in you press the handle, the further you go in, the stronger it is. The pump is also a quiet pump, keeping it discreet if you do need to pump away from home.
The pump has been designed to mimic a baby's suckling of the breast, although it isn't as effective as a baby getting milk from the breast it certainly does work.
As you depress the handle, it create a suction on your breast drawing the nipple back and forth as you pump (baby's sucking) the milk then flows down the funnel area into a smaller area with a valve which then allows the milk to filter through to the sterilised bottle which is attached to the pump. You then unattach the bottle and wither add the teat or the lid to store in the fridge.
To wash the bottle you simply take it apart as you put it together, wash it in warm soapy water and then sterilise it, you can do it with boiling water or a steriliser but I would recommend the avent microwave steriliser as it has been purposely made to accommodate avent bottles and the pump.
The pump cost approx £20-25, and is available from places like Boots, Mothercare, and online stores.
The pump comes with 2 4oz bottles and extras which allow you to take the pump on the move and keep everything sterile, although I personally wouldn't pump anywhere but the comfort of my own home, as quiet as it is.
I felt that the pump wasn't working as effective as it should, but it turned out it was the way I was pumping, and the fact that you can never get enough expressed milk as baby would get from you, which does make you panic that baby doesn't get much milk from you, but I have been reassured.
My friend lent me the electric version of the pump, well the motor which replaces the manual part of the handle, as all other pieces are the same, and apparently with the electric pump you get the bits to make it a manual too.
Again the electric pump was easy to set up, she didn't have the instructions to give me, but I soon found a pdf online, and was up and running in no time. It wasn't as noisy as I thought it would been either.
You basically turn it on with the press of a button, manually pump to the speed you want, then hold the button in, and it will pump for you at the speed you set, simples. You then press the button to turn off.
I found I was getting a little bit more milk using the electric as you seem to get bored of pumping yourself with the manual.
The electric is available for a price of approx £85, which I would say is worth the money.
I really have been impressed with both pumps and feel they are both justified for the amount they cost, and I wouldn't be without it now.
I desperately needed something to help me breastfeed my daughter. I gave up breastfeeding my first daughter quite early, partially for not getting comfy and getting a bad back, but due to other reasons too, and I didn't want the same thing to happen this time.
Using normal pillows and trying to bulk them up to the right height never worked, so I asked all the mums at the breastfeeding café which pillows they recommended, the widgey being a popular pillow mentioned.
I also asked mums I chat to on a forum and they mentioned this pillow too.
So I hunted it down and found it in Mothercare for £25, which at first I thought was quite pricey, but if it makes me more comfortable and saves my back then it's worth a go.
On the plus side it can be used for baby to help aid them sitting too, and can also be used during pregnancy and after a c-section.
I have also found it useful to prop myself up in bed to offer my back more support.
I think its selling point for me was how the cushion wraps around your body, so it almost hugs you, which is really good for all positions of feeding. It also means you have free hands to have a drink, eat or use the remote for the tv!!
The pillow is nice and thick so it puts baby at the right height to your breast for feeding. It looks like it will never lose the thickness too.
The dads can also use it too for feeding, as my husband gives her a bottle of expressed milk so he can support himself with it too.
One thing I have found to be a disadvantage is even though the pillow hugs you, I have found in certain positions it can slide down a little, but I think it's also down to myself not using it effectively.
The cover is removable and washable and comes with a funky cow design (not cow print!!), I haven't yet washed it but since the pillow is quite thick and bulky I could imagine it could be quite difficult to put back on. You can buy extra covers with different designs for approximately £10.
Swaddling is a way to wrap up your baby to mimic being in the womb all snug and comfy. It is meant to stop the startle reflex, although I have yet to see this as we still get the startle reflex but not as bad. Startle reflex is when babies go to sleep often 10 and 20mins into deep sleep they jerk arms and legs waking themselves back up. The blanket or swaddling is supposed to stop it from happening.
The miracle blanket has been designed to help successfully swaddle your baby correctly. It wraps over each shoulder, and under each arm, tucking the arms in, and there is a little pouch where the legs get tucked in, and the remaining blanket wraps around baby creating a snug feeling.
The blanket has a triangle shape to it with extra lengths of material which is used to swaddle. Baby lies in the centre of the material and the two flaps (mentioned above) wrap over each arm, and under the back...it sounds complicated but it isn't and the instructions are more than adequate to explain. The babies' lower half then sits in the foot pocket, and this is pulled up to their tummy. The smaller side of the extra section of material then comes over babies body and under the opposite side. The longer piece of material then wraps twice around baby and I then took the end into the fold. Simple.
A video can be seen here http://www.miracleblanket.com
The blanket can be used from birth until baby no longer needs it and can wriggle out of it or outgrows it. It is made of 100% cotton which is gentle on baby and prevents overheating. I have only seen it in white and lemon but I do believe there are other colours available.
The price of the blanket varies but is around the £25 mark, but you can get it cheaper from stores such as ebay. I brought mine from Mothercare as I had some vouchers to use up.
I do prefer this miracle blanket to using a normal blanket to swaddle, although its not as effective for us as it probably should be as my daughter loses her dummy making her cry and cry, so I think if we could eliminate that problem she would sleep well in it. I do notice if I try and put her down for naps not swaddled in the miracle blanket she is more fussy going to sleep so I do believe it works.
I do however wish I discovered this blanket with my first daughter and definitely think it's worth a shot to help baby settle to sleep.
The only thing that worries me now, is that apparently there is new research out that swaddling can cause lung compression and other problems, so I was told by a support midwife at the breastfeeding cafe, but I haven't seen much about it yet and hospitals still swaddle.
I would give the blanket 8/10, although I am sure it would probably get a 10/10 from a lot of mums
I really wanted to give my baby the best start in life so , I knew when I was pregnant I wanted to breastfeed.
I knew the benefits of breastfeeding, the fact it didn't cost anything to breastfeed and no faffing about with bottles and sterilisers.....but it ended there.
After a heavy blood loss, (and something I didn't know then but know now) I didn't realise it could affect me and breastfeeding, but we gave it a good try.
After giving birth my daughter latched on straight away, I thought 'fantastic, we have nailed it', but throughout the night I couldn't get out of the bed to lift her out of her cot, and didn't buzz for the midwives, thats where I went wrong. By the morning I had very sore nipples, and by the evening I was in agony. When we were let out of hospital I lied and said everything was okay.
My mum was coming to visit and I made the decision to put her on formula over the weekend while expressing my milk, and give me chance to heal...little did I know it would also affect my milk supply.
Luckily she latched on well on the Monday, but we were still struggling so she would be topped up with expressed breast milk and the odd bottle of formula....we managed this for 4 weeks, and although I was having a tough time but not wanting to give up, it took my health visitor 4 weeks to refer me to someone about lactation.
I went to the breastfeeding cafe and they were lovely, made me determined to carry on, showed me some new things to keep up my supply etc, check the latch. I got home and while feeding my daughter had to be sick, and it kept coming, then my daughter got it, I must have picked up a bug, and I decided enough was enough...
We did 2 more weeks of expressing and formula feeds, and then she went completely onto formula, which I felt so guilty for, but I instantly felt better in myself.
When I fell pregnant again, I knew I wanted to try more this time, and although we had bleeding nipples to begin with and another heavy bleed, I went to the breastfeeding cafe from week one, and still go now, and they are lovely and I am still doing well, with a daughter who is gaining weight each week. We have lots of expressed milk, which hubby gives my daughter on the 10.30pm feed to give me some rest, but I feel so proud of myself for working through it with all the help and support, we are only onto week four now, but with my first daughter I would rather reach for the bottle of expressed milk first, with my second I would rather breastfeed first.
I still don't like to feed in public and I know I am only going to do this for 12 weeks as I go back to work, but I will definitely try mixed feeding.
I really feel the support has been invaluable and I wouldn't have got this far without it. I know they say breastfeeding is natural - but it is once you and baby learn how to do it, and I know they are trying to promote breastfeeding more and more, but they need to have support networks to go with it to help us, which I am glad we do :)
I have also lost some more weight this time too which is a benefit
I was booked in to be induced, Friday 25th September, at 7.30am, due to foetal movements being quite limited and when on the trace they weren't happy with the monitoring. I then had to go to DAU first to be monitored, have scan to check placenta and blood flow through the cord etc. I was then told they also sent me to the DAU first as they were too busy on the CLS.
Eventually I went home at lunchtime and had to come back at 7.30am on the Saturday. So we went off to see Alex as she was staying at mums while all this was going on.
I woke up at 5.30am on Saturday 26th September and we went to the hospital ready to be induced at 7.30am.
I am not going to bore you with the details of the day, but by 7pm there were still no rooms available so they could induce me, but I had heard 3 babies born by that point and the lady who had her pessary next door to me was off to have her baby. I was so angry; cue more tears and asking the midwife what the hell was going on.
I spoke to dad, he said to put a formal complaint in and go home, he said I could always ring an ambulance, so I had a good think about it, but decided to wait until 8pm as I heard a consultant say it had quietened down on the labour suites.
At 8pm, my contractions started up, but were lasting 45 seconds or so and coming every 4-5 minutes, randomly. At 8.45pm, they started to come every 2 minutes but were still only lasting 45-50 seconds so I knew they weren't doing a lot, but the intensity turned up on them, and it was enough for me to say 'ow' on a few of them. At 9.10pm, the more senior midwife off the CLS came in to check how I was and to say about the room situation for my induction (as in there were still none free), and checked me over with my contractions, to which she said they weren't lasting long enough to be in established labour. So she came back to check on me at 9.25pm, I said the contractions were starting to become painful, but I could still cope with them and they were still coming every 2 minutes but lasting up to a minute.
I asked if I could be examined, but she said they will come and check later as contractions still weren't lasting long enough.
I couldn't jump on the bed in the assessment room and lean over the back of the bed like I did with Alex, which was so comfortable for me, so I improvised, popped a pillow on the floor and knelt on that over the bed and breathed through them.
As the midwife was about to leave, (about 9.30pm) I was on the floor I felt a sharp painful pop feeling in my back, and the pains were getting stronger....midwife said she will come back in 20mins as she was dealing with lady next door. I could feel myself wetting myself, and it was warm, so I though i had just weed, so I went to the toilet and more was coming out while walking to the loo. Mark got the midwife and told her we think waters have just gone, so she came into the toilet to check my pad, and gave me an attractive massive pad to put on, and said she would come back...
I could barely get from the loo to the assessment room without each contraction, but I still didn't know what was to come, as I didn't feel ready to give birth yet. When I got to the room I asked for gas and air, so the other midwife came in to check how I was, with the other midwife asking her to examine me, so at about 10pm I struggled to get on the bed, and looked at my pad to see lots of reddish/pinkish water on it, so my waters had gone. She said I was fully dilated, but I said to her I wanted to push, she said a little of my cervix needs to thin slightly and I felt I needed to push as her fingers were there, but I told her I needed to push again, and she looked at Mark while looking at her fingers which were now not inside me- I then said I needed gas and air and can't do this, but she said I can't leave you on your own to get the gas and air otherwise you will deliver your baby on your own..... I was shocked, I didn't feel ready to give birth apart from the pain and the feeling of needing to do a poo....but that was the head crowning and she said to do my breathing and push. I remember it taking 3 pushes to deliver her head with the rest of my waters gushing out, and then one final push to get her out.
So at 10.10pm my little girl was born, we were shocked she was a girl, she was placed onto my chest, but it was all a bit hazy for me, but there was no baby cry and Mark got asked if he wanted to cut the cord, but he too was concerned with her lack of crying and the midwife had already pressed the red button and there were the crash team...whipped her away to get her going. She had a score of 3 but within 5 minutes was up to 9.
It was sooo painful, and even though the gas and air never worked with Alex, it helped me to concentrate on my breathing technique so helped me get through her labour, where as I was all over the place with breathing this time, which made it the whole experience more painful overall.
They spent the next hour stitching me up and sorting out my bleeding (this time I only lost 300ml, not 1300ml thank God!), by this point I had my gorgeous little girl back on my chest. I was finally given gas and air, while they stitched me up as I had a 2nd degree tear, I was a little worried when she said my bleeding hadn't stopped, I thought here we go again, but it stopped - luckily.
I was still in shock and shaking, everything was so quick - people always say you are lucky having a quick labour, but that's not true, I was with Alex as I knew what was happening, but this time I feel it was slightly traumatic to deal with.
Once stitched up I had to have a shower while Mark dressed Bethany and go straight to the ward, with Mark having to go home, as they needed the assessment room for the next lady.
So there we go 2 hours 10 minutes of labour and 34mins as my official length of labour...another quick labour like Alex!!!
I have never fancied the look of Frankie and Benny's, being an American based restaurant and all, as its mainly meaty dishes and I don't eat meat or the veggie dishes don't look appealing, and as its a chain restaurant.
After having a visit to the hospital and my daughter being looked after by my mum, hubby and I decided to have some us time, and thought we would try F&B's.
We paid a visit to the F&B's on the Greyhound Retail Park in Chester.
To my surprise the menu looked great over all for meat and non meat eaters. As it was also lunch time they had two different lunch deals on too....
A summer lunch menu - 2 courses for £9.95 looked okay, but the veggies choices were quite limited and so we opted for the lunch menu which is available 11am to 5pm on weekdays only and has three options. Firstly, you can choose 1 course for £5.95, 2 courses for £7.25 or finally, 3 courses for £8.45.
This also included free refills on soft drinks and coffee.
The restaurant itself was very clean, well looked after, and obviously had the typical American theme going around it. The toliets were also spotless too.
We were greeted by a lovely guy, who showed us to our seats, which may I add, very comfortable and not too close to the next table. He took our drinks orders and talked us through the menus.
The waitress was lovely, very efficient and took our orders.
I opted for the Mushroom Alfredo, which is garlic button mushrooms served in a cheese sauce with a slice or garlic ciabatta and my husband had the garlic and tomato bread, both was superb. We shared between each other, so I could sample more than one thing.
For our mains we both went with burgers, I went with the veggie burger, something I rarely do as they are all pretty disgusting. This burger included red peppers, gherkins, olives and something else, topped with a tomato and lettuce, served with fries and a lovely sauce. I was in heaven, never have I tasted a veggie burger like that.
I was really tempted by a dessert, but was defeated, hubby went for the waffle, which is the best waffle I have tasted in a long time, mmm yummy!
The restaurant was fairly busy, but never was our food left to go cold, and neither was our plates left on the table for a long period.
The best bit - our bill £20 for two of us, which included a coke and refills, a latte, and a beer as well as the food.
I have to say though, the staff really did make it a pleasant experience, as well as the yummy and fairly cheap food.
We have a F&B's on a closer retail park closer to us and I have never tried it, so am now looking forward to going back and sampling more yummy food.
This tea set is absolutely fabulous!
I first caught eye of it at a friend's, she had brought it for our friends little girl and she loved it and then my little girl had a play with it and wouldn't leave it alone.
It costs approximately £17 but we got it for £14 in Asda, and I wish I got it when it was £9. It is aimed at children from 6-36 months, but I would say more enjoyment has come from 14 months.
Includes a teapot, 2 teacups, a shape sorting cookie/cake tray, 3 cookies/cake shapes, and 3 songs.
The main aim of this toy is to teach baby about numbers, shapes, opposites, manners, greetings and more
The teapot comes with 3 settings, learning, music and imagination.
The learning setting:
When you pour the teapot it makes a realist sound of tea being poured from the spout, which then follows a girls voice saying, 'mmm more please' 'why thank you' 'you're very welcome' so it encourages good manners. The lid also lifts up and the teapot says the following, ' hello', 'bye bye', 'up', 'down', 'open' and 'close'. And if you press the tea bag on the side it plays a cute little tune - which goes though the numbers one - three, one teapot, two cups and 3 tasty treats.
My daughter loves this setting, we sit and play teaparty, she pours the tea into the cups and we both sip the tea and I make slurp noises, so now she makes these cute little slurp/sipping noises everytime she picks up the cup.
When pouring the tea, it makes different musical sounds rather than a pouring tea sound, and the same goes when opening the lid. It plays a different song again when you press the teabag which is to encourage good manners too.
We have hardly used this setting as my daughter loves the learning mode so much.
Pouring the tea makes the tea sound again, but opening the lid makes some other different noises as does pressing the teabag.
Again we barely have it on this setting!
It's such a fantastic toy and I am so glad we treated our daughter to it, we have seen her development come on a fair bit since she has been using this toy.
I would recommend this for ay little girl
We booked Center Parcs in Longleat for the 11th-15th May 2009, as I have been to the CP in Sherwood Forest when I was younger, and I wanted to try a different one out, plus I wanted to go to Longleat Safari Park.
My husband, my 14 month daughter and I (23 weeks pregnant) went.
We had a lovely time, 2 full days of sun, one day overcast, and the other two days on/off raining, but it didn't stop us from doing anything.
We managed to get the code direct from Center Parcs and it saved us over £120, so it cost us £355 for a 2 bedroom comfort plus villa staying Mon-Fri which I thought was quite reasonable and we weren't going to get a holiday abroad cheaper.
I booked it online and paid the deposit, and paid the remaining amount a month later. I pre-registered online too, so when we arrived we just had to give in our reference number at the arrivals lodge and we were there no more than 5 minutes.
You can pre-book all your activities online, but we thought we would wait to see what the weather was like and the parc, as I heard it was quite hilly.
You can't access your villa until 3pm, and we arrived at 2pm so we parked up and headed to the plaza for a drink as it was a lovely day. People were already queuing at the barrier at 2pm; you really don't need to as you have until 10pm. You can use the facilities earlier, apart from the pool apparently, but how would they know?
I was a little bit disappointed when we found the villa, we passed it first time as it wasn't well sign posted, and had to go back round a huge one way circle.
The villa was a little shabby and tired looking, didn't look too well looked after on the outside, but I was pleasantly surprised when we got inside. From what I remember of Sherwood Forest the accommodation was better, but I think we had a better grade of villa.
We walked in to a porch/walkway area which had a cupboard with the boiler in and cot/highchair and cleaning items. Next to that was the toilet and sink. Then we walked into an open plan living/dining and kitchen area, where to the left was a door for the twin bedroom, and past the kitchen was a door for the bathroom and then the double room.
My only disappointment was how dark it was, we had to put the lights on in the day, and I don't like to do this.
The Kitchen was pretty much fully equipped - just a few utensils missing, and it had a microwave and dishwasher too. We spent about 15 minutes cleaning all the dishes - as the previous occupants hadn't washed them properly.
The living room consisted of an L-shape sofa and a coffee table and also a TV, a HI-FI and DVD player.
The villa has full central heating too.
Outside there was a BBQ, and patio furniture, but we never used this. My daughter used to sit and wait for the ducks (3 regulars kept coming back), a regular squirrel who put its little arms to the patio door against my daughters, and rabbits, amongst many birds.
I knew the activities would be expensive, and a lot weren't suitable for either myself being pregnant or my young daughter, but we knew we wanted to just walk around, go to the little beach, go swimming (which is free), and just relax.
We didn't hire the bikes as it is so hilly in Longleat my hips wouldn't have coped. So we walked in the day, and got the Land train by night (more on this later).
The only activity we did which was free was the baby dolphins, which the pool is, open an hour before official opening for the 0-3 year olds to play with the floats (more on the pool later).
We did see people using different activities, but they weren't as busy as I expected, maybe the prices were too high? Loads of people made use of the bikes though. If you have your own bikes I would take them to reduce costs again.
On a lovely hot day we walked to the beach, which wasn't far from us and our daughter had fun playing in the sand and there was a small children's play area there.
One thing it isn't short of is children's play areas.
We went to the baby dolphins which they had cut off half of the wave pool for, and my daughter loved it, the only problem was they didn't heat the pool so we had to get out earlier than planned, and you could also see other shivering babies too.
The next day we took her to the outdoor pool and we were in there nearly 2 hours, she much preferred it, as it was warm. We even took her in the outdoor Jacuzzi as other kids and babies were in there. Apart from that we took her to the toddler pool, but it was pretty rubbish, just a small pool which was too big for babies, and the section for babies was like a round circle of very shallow water.
There was also rapids, a plunge pool, water slides, the outdoor pool, and as above, a wave machine.
I do remember the pool and rapids etc being better at Sherwood.
Eating In/Eating Out
We took our own food for breakfast and lunch, and for two meals in the evening, and ate out for 2 meals. Our daughter still has a 2 hour nap, and likes to sleep in her cots, so we would eat lunch at the villa, and eat out tea earlier than usual so we could all eat together.
The 2 restaurants we went to was Ortega and Strada.
Ortega is a Spanish tapas bar, and is in the main Plaza. The food was okay, maybe slightly over priced for what you got, but I still enjoyed it, only problem was on two occasions we found them sooo slow.
The first time we decided to have a drink there was when we arrived waiting to access our villa, then the fire alarm went off and we had to go outside, but the lady told us to come back and pay, we could have made a run for it, but we aren't like that. When the building was opened again, we waited 15 minutes for someone to come out so we could pay.
Then when we ate there, we waited a long time between courses, and waiting for our bill, which was a little annoying especially when our daughter was getting tired.
Strada is an Italian restaurant, and is very expensive, but very nice food. Again, we waited a long time for service and our bill, so one thing the restaurants need to work on is the waiting times, as the food is ready, the staff are just slow, but friendly.
This doesn't run on check-in and check-out days, but runs every 20 mins, and is fantastic if you have a far away villa, and especially when it's raining. It's just like a jeep type thing pulling 3-4 carriages, which fit 4 people to a row of seats.
Some people were arrogant if we had been waiting first and just jumped on in front of us, or watched me struggle with a baby and being pregnant.
Visiting attractions outside the Parc
We went to Longleat Safari, as I have always wanted to go. I went and enquired at the reception and they gave us a voucher £1.50 off, so cost us £11.50 each instead of £13. We were going to get the passport, which allows you to go and visit the other attractions such as Longleat House, gardens, river, maize maze etc.
The safari Park is fab and I thoroughly recommend it. We had a rhino running towards our car, luckily he turned!!!
We said we would go back again, maybe when the children are a little older so they can do more, and we would also try one closer to home, so probalby Sherwood Forest again, as it wasn't as hilly either.
I couldn't go back year after year, but it is a nice break, and can be worth the money if you plan, budget and get a good deal :)
I brought this sandpit after much research into this one and similar products on the market. I brought it in blue even though I have a little girl as I have another baby on the way and not sure of the gender. The blue isn't a boyish blue though as it has red colours on it too.
My reasons for buying this sand pit was the fact it is portable, looked sturdy, and is a sand pit and water table.
**The Sand pit**
Although the most expensive out of all the sand pits I looked at I decided this sand pit was worth its money.
The fact it comes with detachable legs, helped me in my decision as I am trying to encourage my daughter to cruise, so with this table she would have to cruise/walk to various toys or the sand or water.
The legs are thick and sturdy, and the plastic is good thick quality.
I also didn't want a wooden sand pit or one that had to be installed.
I also liked the fact the sand pit is two separate compartments, sand and water and it comes with 2 separate lids (one for the water, one for the sand) which helps keep the water out when it rains and bugs and flies etc.
The only downside to the sand being covered is the condensation gathers under the lid, making the sand wet, so we have to remember to take the lid off in the morning to dry out - but this could be the same for all sand pits.
On the top of the lid it has a road marked on it which I am told you can use the happyland cars from ELC with it.
The sand pit comes with water funnels and toys and spades/scoops, a little boat and star fish shape to play in the sand, and they can be put back into the holes when the lid is off.
The height is what it should be from my daughters age of 14 months and I would say that toddlers upto 4 and 5 would still enjoy it.
The cost is £45, but I had a 20% off voucher so it cost me £36, so I was chuffed with that, but it comes without sand, ELC do sand at £6 a bag, and we got more sand to a bag from Argos for under £3.
There are also 2 plugs on each compartment to drain the water and sand (if needed)
**Setting up the sand pit**
Once home, we were soon at work putting the table up, it comes flat packed, and isn't too heavy.
We put the table together outside, and it is quite light to move about, until the water and sand are in it.
I think it took us no more than 10 minutes to assemble, and my daughter was soon out playing with it (and eating the sand).
So far, two months in, this has been a great purchase. I think my daughter is a tad too young, but still plays with it enough for it to be worthwhile. Yesterday while it was hot we filled the water side and she loved it, she loved playing with the boat that came with it, and we put her ducks in it, and she loved dipping her head in and out of it. She is a bit young to play and reach with the funnels yet though.
I think this product is ideal if you have a large or small garden as it doesn't take up much space. We have put it in the garage when not in use just to stop it fading etc.
We decided to buy our 14 month old daughter a slide as she loved the one in the park.
We went for the blue and green one as we are expecting baby number two and don't know the gender, and the colours aren't too boyish.
I didn't want to waste a lot of money on a slide that she would a) get bored of, and b) outgrow quickly, so while we were down at Argos I spotted this on.
Is suitable from age's two to six, so thought this would be ideal for my daughter even though she is only 14 months as she could grow into it. I don't think it would last until 6 years old, but I suppose that depends on the height of the child too. I would be happy if this slide lasted my daughter and unborn child till they were both 3 years old.
It's an indoor and outdoor slide, so if we have our typical British weather we can still use it inside.
It's also made out of thick plastic and so quite sturdy.
The slide came in a long cardboard box and wasn't too heavy to carry. There was only about 5 pieces to fit together and is one click assembly, with only 4 screws to put the secure tape underneath it from the step ladder of the slide to the end of the slide, obviously to secure it.
We had it up in 5 minutes.
The price of the slide should be just short of £25, but we got it for £18.50, so I was even happier when I got to the till. I think the price reflects a well made product, and also reflects how much usage will be gained from it.
At the moment my daughter can't climb the ladders, so we put her on the top of the slide for her to come down. The handles at the top don't look great for younger kids (they are half handles), but then it does say from two and we are using it for a 14 month old. The handles do look good enough for older toddlers though.
Even though my daughter was only on it for 5 minutes she loved it, and I soon think when she is walking and climbing this will be a fantastic toy for her.
This pub was chosen as a half way meet place between myself and an online mummy friend, I live in Ellesmere Port and she lives in Bury, and we meet up every couple of months with our babies.
This is a good half way for us both taking approx 30 minutes each to drive to.
The pub provides plenty of car spaces, and is a very large pub indoors with plenty of seating available. The pub is very easily located off the M6 too.
The Food and drinks
The choice of veggie food isn't great, but then most pubs aren't, either that or I am fussy! I ended up going for a usual cheese baguette and chips and some garlic mushrooms.
Although the time before I had a spinach and ricotta cannelloni, and to my disappointment it was off the menu this time.
Food is well priced and the drinks (although I only get non alcoholic are reasonably priced too)
This pub offers 2 for 1 on all main meals and some on the snack menu, which is fab, as it usually costs us about £6 with a drink each, with this deal, so makes it a relatively cheap afternoon out.
The baguette was the same as you would get in any pub, but the cannelloni was lovely, although I imagine it was a ready meal of some sort.
Apparently there are some flavours of the Heinz's mums own baby food, although I have always took my own food, or we have ordered something off the children's menu.
In the pub there was a changing room on its own away from the toilets which was good as you had the privacy of changing your baby, and there are also baby facilities in the wacky warehouse too. The toilets are of decent size and have always been clean when I have been.
We have always experienced friendly and quick service from this particular pub, so I have no issues with the service here.
We haven't been in the wacky warehouse yet, but I have been told its good, so the next time we go we will be letting the babies try it out.
I have never seen this pub over busy, whether its because we go in the week or because of its location I wouldn't know, and this is probably the reason it doesn't have the 'local' pub feel, but if we wanted that we would meet at a more local place.
This place is great for those who have kids
After a lot of research in what pushchair to buy that would accommodate two babies, I decided to go for the phil and teds sport.
My next bit of research was to try and find it at its cheapest available price (as we all do). I searched all over the internet and came across Oxfordpramcentre.co.uk, now I had never heard of them, but I have a lot of online mummy friends who had used certain online stores, with some good and some bad experiences. This put me off a little, but I asked my mummy friends and a few had heard of them, but no one had actually brought from them.
Now my dilemma was do I use a company which is charging £355 for the P&T Sport, the cocoon, the doubles kit and the double raincover, or do I go to a reputable company like Mothercare and pay over £500 for the same package?
I tried a load of different review centres and found a few reviews of the company, none bad, and I had also found another company who were a little bit more than £355 but less than Mothercare, but had really bad reviews.
I decided to bite the bullet and order my P&T from oxford pram centre.
The website is easy to use and laid out well. It's easy to find what you want and add it to the basket. The checkout is simple to use too, well unless you are me and don't read the instructions properly, and put in a different address to the card hold address. I used my mum's address for delivery as I knew she would be in, but in my moment of madness put my card address down as mums too...oops.
I was going to ring them up to tell them of my mistake, but thought I would wait for them to do it. I had put the order in on the evening, so didn't expect anything that night. The next morning I received a call, and it was a lovely chap saying my card address didn't match up, and I explained, he said it was fine, but they need to run a few security checks as they have had a few scammers in the last months. I had to give him a few details, including where hubby worked etc, and he then rang up hubby's work. Now this was a little bit inconvenient, but I understood why, with the amount of fraud going on the internet at the moment.
Everything was fine, he rang back and said it is being dispatched this afternoon and I will receive it tomorrow before 4pm
Low and behold my mum rings me up to tell me that the P&T's had actually arrived before the 4pm they promised.
I was really impressed with the speed of delivery and it was free! I think it would have been next day delivery, if I had of ordered in the day, but for a free carriage charge, I was impressed.
I am extremely satisfied with the level of service from the oxford pram centre, the speed of delivery, and the price of the product.
I looked around their site and they are competitively priced on a few items.
I have already recommended to a few friends already, and would do so again.