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With four children I have had my fair share of buggies, strollers and travel systems. For babies two and three, in addition to a double buggy, I used an Obaby Atlas stroller. I was bought the Obaby Atlas as a gift so I don't think it was very expensive then but the brand has now become very popular and this buggy retails at £50 to £80 depending where you buy it and what accessories you get. These pushchairs are widely available online and in many stores like Mothercare. As this was a gift I didn't chose it or state any preference when my kind Mum offered to buy it for me. I was pregnant and struggling with a double buggy so to have a single stroller was going to be very handy. My eldest was just starting nursery so it meant I didn't need the double all the time but I didn't want to spend a lot because with another on the way the double wouldn't be in retirement for very long. I was really pleased with the Obaby Atlas and it was so easy after the double buggy. The Obaby lies flat so is suitable from birth. The seat is padded but your baby can get a bit sweaty so I recommend a liner or cosytoes to make it a bit more comfortable. There is a five point harness which can be adjusted or used as a three point harness once your baby is bigger. The leg rest part can also be adjusted so it is out straight for smaller babies or folded down for toddlers. The stroller is an umbrella fold and it folds away easily with one hand. You can operate the collapsing mechanism with your foot and the whole thing just bends forward. I used a buggy board with mine as well and this was fine apart from making the whole thing a bit harder to push. Underneath there is a smallish shopping basket which can hold a few bits but is tricky to get to if the seat is reclined. To recline the seats can be a bit tricky as there is a slide on each side that both have to be pushed at the same time but I prefer this as I think it is stronger and less flimsy than the straps that some other buggies have. The buggy comes with a hood and this has a flap at the back so that your baby is protected from the weather even when the buggy is reclined. I found it really easy to put up and down and it didn't come down too low so baby could still see out even when it was right over. I would recommend a sunshade or parasol for the summer though. You get a coordinating rain cover with it which is great because it fits nicely unlike the universal ones that are never a very good fit. Obaby do a large range of accessories including foot muffs and parasols so there is bound to be something that coordinates with your chosen stroller. There are so many different styles of the Atlas stroller available including a VW range and Tatty Teddy so you are bound to find something that you like. There isn't much suspension so bumpy ground can be a bit shaky but on the whole it is really comfortable to push and the handles are nicely padded and shaped. I used this buggy for all of my children at one time or another and they have all seemed quite comfortable, the only problem I have had is with my son sweating in warmer weather but this was easily rectified. Eventually the Obaby Atlas became our holiday buggy because it folded up small enough to still fit in the car with all the suitcases. This buggy lasted really well and is still going now even though it is full of sand and looking a bit sorry for itself. I treated myself to a new Silver Cross buggy for baby number four but it isn't as nice as the obaby. I thought I was buying quality but there are so many times I wish it was more like the Altlas. I would definitely recommend the Obaby Atlas stroller in any of its colours or styles as I found it hardwearing and long lasting. Shop around to get a good deal and matching accessories and you won't need to buy more than one buggy per child.
When I had my first child I was like all first time mum's and needed and wanted every available gadget that claimed to keep my baby safe. One of those gadgets was a mirror that I could place in the front of the car so that I could see my baby while I was driving. I found one online that only cost a few pounds and immediately sent off for it. The mirror I chose was the Clippasafe Child View Mirror. This mirror is still widely available online and in many stores. The item is usually priced at between £3 and £10 depending on the amount of shipping being charged. The clippasafe child view mirror is a mirror a bit smaller than your rear view mirror that has a large suction cup on the back. You use the suction cup to fix the clippasafe mirror to your windscreen and this allows you to see into the rear seats without having to turn round. The idea of this is great in theory and I'm sure that there are child view mirrors that work very well but I was quite disappointed with the clippasafe version that I bought. Firstly the suction cup does not work very well and constantly falls off. This can be dangerous if it falls into the driver's foot well and gets under your feet but it is also inconvenient because you have to keep re-applying the mirror. The second problem is with the design of the pivoting head of the mirror. While this is great because you can adjust the angle of the mirror to suit your height and see more of the back seat it also means that the movement of the vehicle causes the mirror to sort of droop down over time. I did spend quite a lot of time sticking the mirror back up or re-adjusting the angle so that I could see my daughter but at that time I felt that I had to be able to see her at all times. It is a new mum thing I think because as I had more children my need for the mirror lessened. I also found that trying to see two children in the back of the vehicle meant even more adjusting f the mirror which could easily cause an accident whilst driving. After about a year or so the suction cup refused to stick anymore so I would keep the mirror in the cup holder and just hold it up to see the children if I needed to. The clippasafe child view mirror can only help you to see a child in a forward facing car seat so is no good for newborns travelling in the rear seats. I wouldn't recommend this particular brand because I found it more problematic than helpful but I do think that having a mirror like this is a good idea when you have young children because it gives you a bit of peace of mind. The car than I now own has something called a conversation mirror that retracts into the roof of the vehicle. I find this very helpful for keeping an eye on my children but I also know that it won't fall down and can be pushed up out of the way if I don't need it.
With four children we have owned many car seats for various ages and for various reasons. One of the car seats that we have had the longest is our Disney Cars booster seat. I bought this seat around four years ago and it has seen plenty or wear and tear. I bought the seat from Asda Living for around £9 but this was on offer at that time. The seats are still available and although they are more expensive now are often marked down. I was in the store a couple of weeks ago and they were priced at £8 but this only lasted a few days. The seat has a hard black plastic base and a lightly cushioned seat pad featuring a picture of Lighning Mcqueen and Sally from the first cars film. The seat cushion has Velcro to attach it to the hard seat base but can easily be removed for cleaning. The hard base can be simply wiped over with a damp cloth and it is suggested that this is the best cleaning for the seat pad too. I have never tried to machine wash the cushion so cannot say if this would have a detrimental effect on it. I imagine if it was really dirty or had something nasty on it you could always hand wash it without causing too much of a problem. There are no straps or ties with the booster seat so it is simply placed on the car seat and then once the child is in position you use the adult seat belt to secure them in place. The seat raises the child up so that the adult seat belt does not cut across their neck and can be correctly fitted. According to the guidelines on the Mothercare website this type of booster seat should only be used from 15kg/33lbs to 36kg/70lbs (approx. 4 yrs to 11 yrs). Once my son was too big for his combination car seat I bought a high backed booster with integral harness because I felt this was the safest seat option but I also bought the Disney Cars booster seat. This allows my son to sit anywhere in the car without the inconvenience of having to re-fit the high-backed booster but also means that if he is going out with Daddy or Nana we can simply pop the Disney Cars seat into an alternative vehicle without the need to remove and re-fit his normal seat. Two of my children use this seat now and although it is a bit grubby looking and has gone a bit bobbly it still works perfectly and the character seat cushion means that they always want to sit on their seat. The high-backed booster that we have can be taken apart to form a booster seat and this is much more padded and has a deeper seat than the Disney Cars one. Although I have never had the children complain that the Disney Cars seat is uncomfortable I know it does get sweaty on long journeys and because the sides are quite low it doesn't give any support if they lean over. The Disney Cars seat has been updated in line with the Disney Cars 2 film and you can now get it with a red base featuring Lightning and Finn Mcmissile on the cushion. I have looked online and the new seats are currently (Nov 2012) selling for around £12 to £15. This seat can be found featuring many different characters including Disney Princesses, Bart Simpson, Thomas the Tank Engine, High School Musical and Toy Story. These are all widely available online and in Asda stores. I would recommend this booster seat for children who are too big for a high backed booster or to keep for emergencies. This type of cars seat is ideal to keep in a second car as it doesn't need to be fitted and can be kept in the boot. I think this is ideal for Grandparents too as it is inexpensive and easily stored. The price of these is higher than a non-branded booster seat like those available from Morrisons or Argos but the novelty of the characters makes the child more willing to use the seat and could mean one less argument when you are struggling to do the school run. A seat that any Lightning Mcqueen fan would be willing to sit on!
A few years ago my son was mad on anything to do with fireman Sam. One of the toys he owned at that time was the Fireman Sam Utility Belt with Jacket and accessories. My son was bought this toy as a present for Christmas so I have no idea how much was paid for it but looking online now (Nov 2012) it is priced between £12 and around £20. The set includes a plastic jacket that is red with yellow detailing on it, a black plastic belt with red plastic buckle and holders, a plastic axe, torch and walkie talkie. If I remember rightly the jacket simply goes on like a coat and does up at the front with Velcro although I think this has changed to clips now.. The belt has a buckle that fits into holes on the other end. The holders simply slide onto the belt and can be easily removed. Each accessory fits into a holder and can be removed for play. The torch works and needs 2 x AA batteries; these are not included but are simple enough to fit. The torch cannot be securely closed and simply unscrews so it is very easy for your child to take it apart. My son did this within minutes and managed to lose part of the inside of the torch and we never got it to work again. The walkie talkie is simply a piece of yellow plastic and apart from looking like a radio it doesn't actually do anything. The axe is made of two parts; both are plastic, which slot together. Unfortunately the blade part does come off quite a bit and once it has been taken off a few times it is hard to make it stay on. I don't know if my son was just too boisterous for this toy but it was forever in bits. My son also received the talking fireman Sam helmet as part of his gift which you obviously need to complete the outfit and I notice online that you can buy the complete set for around £30. My son did play with this toy quite a bit but found it frustrating because the end fell off the axe or the bits wouldn't stay on the belt. The jacket didn't last very long and split up the seam after a few months. I think the toy would be better if the torch didn't work but the walkie talkie said a few well known firemen Sam phrases. This would probably double the price though. I think if your child likes fireman Sam then this would be a good toy to own but it isn't the most exciting toy around. I would recommend shopping around to find a bargain because this isn't worth £20.
When we decorated our daughter's bedroom a few years ago we wanted a few colourful girly accessories to complement her theme of princesses. I was all too aware how quickly children grow out of things and knew that although my daughter was completely obsessed with princesses it wouldn't last very long. With this in mind I wanted to keep the cost of anything that she would grow out of to a minimum while still making the room feel bright, colourful and fun. As with most families storage is always an issue in our house so finding practical solutions is a must. My daughter has a lot of toys and stuffed animals and most things are kept in her bedroom. I particularly wanted some kind of funky storage for her teddy bears and baby dollies so they could be put away and not lined up on the bed all the time. While shopping in Asda Living I found the Princess pop up tidy priced at just £4 and felt this would be ideal as a storage space for teddies or dressing up clothes. The pop up tidy comes in a plastic envelope style packet and is neatly folded so is very small and easy to get home. When you removed the pop up tidy from the packet and start to unfold it it does ping into its proper shape. Unfortunately I have never managed to fold it back up again. Because of the size of this item it would make an ideal stocking filler. The pop up tidy isn't very big measuring approximately 43cm x 29cm x 29cm. There are two mesh sides and two shiny patterned sides. We have owned the princess version but have moved on to Hello Kitty now. The pop up tidys come in many different characters including Mickey Mouse, Ben 10, Peppa Pig, Toy Story, Sponge Bob, Football Teams, Disney Cars, Fairies, Spiderman, Thomas the Tank and loads more. In the shop you can get them for around £4 to £10 pounds depending on the character and if you are buying in the sales. These are widely available online for around the same sort of prices but obviously then postage prices will also need to be added. The pop up tidy can hold quite a few soft toys and has also managed to hold a fair amount of dressing up clothes. I imagine they would also work with toys depending on the size and would be ideal for holding pots and pans and food for a toy kitchen or duplo lego. Unfortunately after a while the seams did start to fray and the whole thing did start to lean over and refused to stand upright when full but they are so neat and small that when we moved house I bought another in the new theme. On the whole I have been pleased with our pop up tidy and it has done the job we needed it to do. I did need to replace it but at £4 that really isn't a problem and the old one lasted about four years so I can't complain. A cheap way to add funky storage and decoration to your Child's bedroom or playroom.
A few weeks ago the nightlight in my youngest daughter's bedroom got broken, apparently no one did it it just fell apart! I thought that we might get away without a nightlight but after a couple of disturbed nights I went searching for a suitable replacement. My daughter is two and as with most girls this age she is loopy over anything to do with Peppa Pig. I came across the Peppa Pig Go Glow light online and felt that this would be perfect. I used google to search for online stockists and found that the night light ranged from around £20 to £25 with some offers of free postage. As I couldn't be bothered to trek into town I chose a supplier I trusted and ordered the night light. The Peppa Pig Go Glow light has a pink base and a cone shaped top part that fits into the base. There is also a charger supplied. The cone part has pictures of Peppa on it but is also pink to co-ordinate with the base. You can also get these glow lights that come with a slide show effect in the torch but this is a bit of a novelty that is soon forgotten. To use the night light you must first charge it up using the charger and it is recommended that you do this for around eight hours. Once the light is fully charged it can be removed from the charger and placed anywhere in the room. To use as a torch you simply remove the cone shaped piece and press a button on the side of it to switch the light on and press the button again to switch the light off. The battery will not last as long when used a torch and will have to be recharged more often. To use as a nightlight first ensure the light is fully charged and then remove from the charger as before and then place the light onto its base and stand it wherever you need it. To switch the light on simply press the button on the side of the cone part and press again to switch off. The night light can be left on all night and will last two or three nights before it needs charging again. As the charge wears down the light will get dimmer but you can recharge before the battery is completely flat. My son has had one of these lights for around six years and it is still in full working order so I imagine this one will last just as well and hopefully won't meet the same suspicious end as my daughters last light. I would recommend these to anyone with young children for lots of reasons. Firstly they don't need to be left plugged in so are portable. Also the torch is not only handy for toilet trips in the dark but also for locating misplaced comforters without causing too much disturbance. My older children still use the torch to read by at night so apart from them not liking the characters anymore they last a long time. When I bought my first one of these night lights I paid around £25 but prices vary and six years later this is still the sort of price they are selling for. As these last so well and are so versatile I think the price is justified and I wouldn't think twice to recommend them.
We recently bought the Peppa Pig Trike for our youngest daughters 2nd birthday. We chose the trike not only because our daughter is a huge Peppa Pig fan but also because she was very attached to an existing trike that we had that was looking very tired and had certainly seen better days. I decided I wanted the trike and had a hunt around online looking for the best deal, I had a look in some local shops too and eventually found the trike for £19.99 from B&M. Prices online had varied from £24.99 up to £39.99. We bought the trike in March 2012 but I believe that B&M still have it in stock. The trike comes in a big box and has to be partially assembled when you get it home. There are also a few stickers to puit on once you have the whole thing put together. My husband managed to build the trike but there was quite a bit of swearing and head scratching so I am assuming that it was a little problematic but all went together ok in the end. The trike has a nice wide seat and sturdy handle bars and there is a foot rest as well as pedals. There is a little bucket on the back that can be secured or tipped up by the child.The parent handle on the back is used simply to push the bike while the child controls the direction using the handle bars. I would have preferred to be able to control the trike but I didn't want to pay too much and the trikes with parent steering seem a bit steeply priced to me. The trike has a metal frame and hard plastic seat and bucket with soft rubber grips in the handle bars. My daughter was really pleased with her trike and we have used it quite a lot. To get some use from the trike I have been putting it into the boot of the car and using it to get from the car to the school when doing the school runs. My daughter enjoys this very much and it is quicker and less hassle than messing about with the buggy. I have tried walking to the park with the trike but this is quite hard work. The road noise from the wheels is quite loud and makes it difficult to hear traffic. The other problem is that as my daughter is in control of steering we do suddenly veer off without warning. I do push down on the handle to raise the front wheel off the floor but this puts a lot of strain on my wrist and hand and gets very uncomfortable. It is about a mile and a half to our local park which doesn't seem far with the buggy but can be quite a trek when trying to control the trike. Unfortunately we moved house recently and before we got organised enough to put all the garden toys into the shed the trike did get a bit faded in the sun. I am quite disappointed about this because it was such a lovely colour that this has really spoilt the look for me. My daughter isn't bothered in the slightest and still loves to go out on her bike. The parent handle can be removed to extend the usability of the trike but I think it is really only suitable for toddlers anyway. I have noticed in the most recent Argos book that the shape of the parent handle has changed so I imagine that as it has been turned slightly this would be much more comfortable to push. A lovely sturdy cute little first trike ideal for short journey and in the garden.
After watching Gok Wan's cookery show 'Gok Cooks Chinese' I was keen to try some of the recipes for myself as they looked so easy and sounded so tasty. My husband, ever the generous soul, not wanting to see me without a cookbook when I had the urge to cook ordered a copy from www.amazon.co.uk. The book is currently (Oct 12) priced at £8.86 with Amazon but prices do vary widely online and in store. The edition I have is hardback and as far as I know there is not a paperback edition available at the moment. There are 82 recipes in the book and at the front there is a list of all the dishes set out like a Chinese menu. The book is broken up into 11 sections. These are: Introduction, All about ingredients, essential equipment, Chinese takeaway classic, Chinese Sunday roast dim sum, favourite family Wan dishes, Chinese classics, street food, feasting, one-pot wonders and modern dishes. There is also an index and the usual acknowledgements at the back. Introduction: This section is just an introduction by Wan explaining his love of food, Chinese attitude to food and why he chose to write a recipe book. All about ingredients: Gok has included a glossary of the essential ingredients needed to complete all the dishes in the book. Each item is listed with and explanation of their origin characteristics and some of the best and worst ways to use each item. Essential equipment: In this chapter Gok lists the 5 pieces of kitchen equipment he feels are essential to best produce the dishes in the book. Chinese takeaway classics: There are 13 recipes in this chapter includes many of your takeaway favourites such as Fried rice, Sichuan chicken and Prawn chow mein. Chinese Sunday roast, dim sum: Again there are 13 recipes listed in this section including steamed mushroom dumplings, sesame prawn balls and pork ribs. Favourite family Wan dishes: There are 14 recipes to choose from in this section including black beans and tofu, sweet and sour fish and simple soy glazed chicken. Chinese classics: With only 8 recipes in this chapter there is still some amazing food to try with lemon and ginger sole, easy pecking duck with pancakes and perfect plum sauce. Street food: Spring rolls, Noodles with pork and ginger and Lap Chong and squid are just 3 of the 12 recipes in this section. Feasting: This is the real show off section and although there are only 6 recipes they include Lobster noodles, Melting pork and fragrant Chinese chicken. One-pot wonders: The 9 dishes in this chapter include drunken chicken, curried clams and braised aubergine with pork. Modern dishes: The final chapter features 7 dishes including Salt and pepper pork chops, baby squid and grilled mackerel with sesame spinach. The whole book is beautifully put together with clear concise instructions on one page and gorgeous pictures on the facing page. Each recipe is started with a short introduction from Gok explaining a bit about each dish and the ingredients needed. The introduction is often funny and you can really hear Gok coming through the page to you. I admit I did have the book a few weeks before I plucked up the courage to have a go but so far things have gone quite well. I have tried 2 recipes from the book and both were quite well received. I admit I did have a few problems souring the ingredients from my local supermarkets but I live in rural Lincolnshire so I wasn't really surprised. I found my local Sainsbury had the best selection and I did manage to get everything I need in the store. The first recipe I tried was Ginger Beef from the Chinese takeaway classic chapter. I chose this recipe first because it is Gok's take on Deep fried shredded crispy beef. Both my husband and myself like the crispy beef from our local takeaway but do find that sometimes it is all crispy and no beef so to be able to make this myself would be a better option than getting a takeout. I got most of my ingredients ready before I started and found it quite easy to make. I got in a bit of a mess trying to cook and read the instructions but managed to make a half decent dish so it wasn't all bad. I found it was a bit of a pain having to fry the pork first and then clean the wok before making the sauce but I could see why it was done that way. Next time I think I would make it a bit gingerier and make extra sauce so there was some for pouring over the finished dish but other than that it was very nice. The dish was much tastier and far healthier than anything from the takeaway. The other recipe I have tried is Poppa Wan's Honey-Glazed Char Siu Pork also from the takeaway classic chapter. I chose this recipe to try because I saw it made on Gok's accompanying television show and thought it sounded yummy. It was gorgeous and so easy. I got all my ingredients ready and mixed them up in a bowl the covered my meat and left it all to marinade for a few hours. The recipe suggests that you used a pork loin but I marinated pork steaks instead. I put the marinade into a bag with the steaks made sure they were well covered and then cooked them under the grill when I was ready. The smell was amazing and they were so tasty much better than a shop bought marinade. Definitely one I will be making again. Some of the recipes are made with fish like sweet and sour fish and prawn chow mein so for me, as I am not keen on fish, I would substitute the fish for chicken. Some of the recipes do look quite tricky to make so I won't try those until I feel a little more confident. I found watching the programme very helpful and think that there are definitely enough recipes in the book to generate another series. On the whole I am very pleased with my book and I am looking forward to making many more of the delicious recipes.
I was recently lent quite a large stack of books and The Wedding Party by Sophie King was one of them. I had a quick look through the pile and decided on this book first. I am certain I have read other books by Sophie King but I can't remember which ones so I didn't choose this book because of the author. I didn't read the blurb on the back before I started so I had no idea what to expect but must say that I was left feeling underwhelmed by the whole thing. The book follows the story of four main characters and their lives and relationships in the run up to a wedding. Each chapter centres on one of the characters in turn although because of their intertwined relationships the other characters do pop up throughout the book. The main characters are Becky who is a career obsessed mother of two, Helen who is Becky's Mother, Mel, the vicar and Janie the wedding planner and Becky's Best friend. The wedding that the whole story hangs on is that of Geoff and Monique, Geoff is Becky's father and Helen's ex-husband. The story is easy enough to get into and read but I did find myself losing track of how the characters were connected and even who they were at the beginning. None of the characters found a particular place in my heart or my imagination and were neither particularly likable nor displeasing. I did find myself getting into the book but it was more the expectation that something might happen. I felt that the book was all build up and then the outcome was a little hurried and disappointing. I only finished reading the book about a week ago but for the purposes of this review I have found myself thumbing through trying to remind myself of exactly what it was all about. I felt that the end was a bit of a letdown and everything seemed to be neatly tidied up in the course of the final chapter. The big wedding that the whole book referred to was glossed over and although it didn't turn out how the bride expected she went from bridezilla to very accepting and didn't make a fuss. The bride was portrayed as someone quite sinister throughout the book but this never really developed and was then forgotten completely so I am not really sure what purpose she had in the story. The book could easily have been written without the need for the wedding as it could have simply delved deeper into the lives of the main characters and their relationships. Not the worst book I have ever read, but I don't think it would win many prizes. I would say this is a great summer read, one for the beach or the plane, but it is quickly forgotten.
Recently while at our local convenience store my husband noticed an offer on selected bottled drinks. The offer was for beers and ales but also included Crabbies Alcoholic Ginger Beer. My Husband bought himself two bottles of ale and me a bottle of Crabbies as I had mentioned I'd like to try it. As the name suggests Crabbies Alcoholic Ginger Beer is Ginger Beer with alcohol. I am not a big drinker and only occasionally have a glass of Lambrusco but can happily take it or leave it. I have never really found an alcoholic drink that I particularly like so stopped regularly drinking quite a few years ago. On opening my first bottle of Crabbies Ginger Beer I wasn't really sure what to expect. I had a vague recollection of the sweet sickly concoction we used to make in our Soda Stream as children but have never drunk it otherwise. We didn't have any ice so I chose to chill it a bit first. As we were both keen to try the drink we shared the bottle between us. The drink looks a bit like a lager or cider and has a nice frothy head when poured. It is very fizzy at first but seems less so after a while or if drunk without being chilled. I found the drink very light and refreshing and not too sweet or sickly. I find Bacardi breezers and other similar alcoholic drinks are quite sticky and leave a furry feel in the mouth but Crabbies is not like this at all. There is a taste of ginger but it is not overpowering but is very light and almost like a cordial or schloer. There is no nasty aftertaste and I imagine it would be perfect with loads of ice. Since my first Crabbies I have developed quite a taste for it and it has become a regular feature on my shopping list. I have noticed that I do struggle to drink a whole 500ml bottle. This is down to the drink being fizzy as it makes me feel bloated if I drink the whole bottle. I find half a bottle is just enough for me and can even be enjoyed on a school night! I never drink enough to get drunk but do find that even with just one glass of Lambrusco I can start to get a headache even before I have gone to bed and I sometimes do feel a bit light headed and fuzzy. I have not had any side effects from drinking Crabbies Alcoholic Ginger Beer even when I have had a full bottle. This drink would be perfect for lazy summer days with lots of ice and good company! The beer comes in a brown glass bottle with a black metal bottle top. The label is black and gold and has a large green and purple thistle on it. At the moment (May 2012) in my local Asda Crabbies Alcoholic Ginger Beer is £1.98 for a 500ml bottle or 3 for £5.00. You can buy the beer singly, in packs of 4 330ml for £5.48 or in packs of 8 500ml for £15.20. In addition to the Original Crabbies Alcoholic Ginger Beer you can also get Crabbies Diet Ginger Beer (£2.00), Crabbies Traditional Cloudy Ginger Beer (£2.00), Crabbies Spiced Orange Alcoholic Ginger Beer (£1.98) and Crabbies Twist of Orange Cloudy Ginger Beer (£2.00). From the label: Best served chilled with ice and lemon. Gluten free. Contains sulphates. 4% vol Crabbies Alcoholic Ginger Beer, the new pimms? http://www.crabbiesgingerbeer.co.uk/
I have been thinking about buying the JML Ped egg for some time but felt that the price of £9.99 was a little steep. I was also put off by some mixed reviews and didn't want to waste £10 on something that I would only use once. I wasn't actively looking for the Ped egg when I was in my local B&M store but stumbled across the Ped Orb whilst browsing. Like the Ped Egg the Ped Orb is a device for removing hard dead skin from your feet with a grater type blade and collecting the shavings in a collecting chamber to avoid mess. To use either product you simply rub the grater across the hard dead skin and it is removed by the blades. The first thing that attracted me to the Ped Orb was the price of 89p. This is the normal price for the item and it looked very similar to the Ped Egg so I bought one. The Ped Orb I purchased was lilac in colour but they also had white available. I don't know if there are others colours available from B&M but I have seen them in pink and blue online. The Orb comes in a sealed clear plastic pack that you have to cut open. Inside the pack you get the three pieces that make up the Orb, and two buffing pads. There are no separate instructions but it is pretty straight forward to use. The three pieces of the Orb are the grater part that attaches to the round container and a lid. The two buffer pads are like very thin emery boards. To use the Orb you simply attach the grater to the rounded part which collects all the shavings and then you are ready to go. There is a small lip on either side of the grater that needs to click into a corresponding dip on the collecting chamber. I had read that the Ped Egg was time consuming and often left you feet feeling sore after use so I approached my foot with the Ped Orb very cautiously. I am very happy to report that the Ped Orb is very gentle bearing in mind what it is and what it is doing. I have tried applying varying amounts of pressure but have not suffered sore feet at all. The first time I used the Ped Orb I was quite gentle with it and only used it for a couple of minutes on each foot but the results were instant. Even after only a small amount of use the skin on my feet felt soft and looked much better. I didn't use the buffing pads on my first attempt but my feet felt soft and looked less cracked than before. I have used the ped Orb a couple of times since and have been more adventurous and experimental with it. I have found that it is very easy to use on all areas of your foot even the balls of the foot and the sides of the toes. The only criticism I have is that it can be a little messy. Obviously if you keep the orb positioned so that the grater is facing upwards all the shavings fall into the collection part and so there isn't a problem. Unfortunately I am not a contortionist and found trying to reach some parts of my foot was almost impossible without turning the orb upside down which then means all the shavings fall out. The orb itself is very easy to clean and all fits together into a neat little ball when not in use. Despite the mess I would recommend the Ped Orb to anyone wanting to try this on their hard skin it is very easy to use, there is no pain or soreness and it works very quickly. Why pay the extra for the JL version when this works so well.
Last summer we were planning our usual family holiday to Mablethorpe when I realised that we were going to struggle to get everything in the car. We had recently downsized to a Zafira and with four children and enough luggage to last the holiday my Silver Cross Pop just wasn't going in. In our old car we used to put the buggy across the passenger foot well in the middle row but the Zafira doesn't have as much leg room and even for a stroller the Silver Cross is quite big. I had a search around in various shops and online and eventually decided on the Mothercare Jive. The price was a little more than I had wanted to pay but I was struggling to find anything that met my needs in the time I had available before our trip. I bought the Jive early last year and paid around £35 for the stroller and an extra £15 for the accessory pack. I bought the pink one as I didn't want any of the characters ones and fell for the girly look straight away. At the moment (March 2012) Mothercare have the jive on offer at £29.99 with the accessory pack for £9.99. I chose the jive for two main reasons, firstly it folded down smallish and secondly it reclines. I needed it small to fit in the car and I wanted it to recline as my daughter was only around fourteen months when we first used the buggy and still had regular naps. I opted for the accessory pack that included a hood and rain cover as this made the buggy more suitable for the British weather. The pack also included a reversible seat liner. The buggy is very light and easy to lift and push so would also be ideal for going on a plane or public transport. The buggy does have all round suspension but as it is very light it doesn't feel like it sometimes. The handles are not adjustable and face forward instead of being angled like most seem to be these days. There isn't any padding on the handles but as we only use this for strolling along the promenade or around the animal sanctuary I don't find it too uncomfortable. I used to have a buggy with handles like this for everyday use and it made my hands and wrist ache so I imagine the Jive would too if used for long periods. I really struggled when trying to collapse the Jive so there must be a knack to it or I am just being stupid. I am hoping to get the hang of it this year. Putting the buggy up is easy as it simply unfolds like most umbrella fold buggies. The recline mechanism on the seat is easily adjustable and is controlled by a strap that runs around the back of the seat. The back of the seat is quite soft because of the strap and not as rigid as some other buggies that we have owned. To recline the seat you simply depress the clip with one hand and slide it down. Putting the seat back into the upright position is a bit fiddlier and does take two hands but is easy once you have done it a few times. The brakes are operated by a lever with your foot and seem sturdy enough. I have hardly used them but have not experienced any problems so far. You can hang bags on the handles but they do slip down if you don't have the hood to stop them. I will be lost when we don't need a buggy anymore as with four children our buggy is always well loaded with changing bags and snacks and buckets and spades. There is a five point harness that is easily adjusted and quick and easy to operate. There is a basket underneath which is handy for keeping bits in but this is hard to access when the seat is fully reclined. Depending which colour or character you buy everything is co-ordinated and there is the matching accessory pack available. This year (2012) the accessory pack includes a hood, a rain cover and a bag to carry them in. The accesory pack no longer includes a seat liner but I would recommend one for a bit of extra comfort. I think the colours this year are flowers and dinosaurs and there is also My Jungle and Union Jack available but these are not on offer and don't have accessory packs available. The Jive is only suitable from 6 months and up to 15K but I think it is perfect as an occasion stroller. I would say that it is best used for holidays or to keep as a spare at grannies. This buggy would also be ideal for an older child who wants to walk but still needs the buggy occasionally. I think the offer price is much more reasonable and would not have paid full price if I hadn't been on a deadline. If you consider that Red Kite, Chicco, Babyweaver and many other manufacturers make and sell normal every day buggies that come with hoods and raincovers and even bootcovers for around £50, this isn't really a cheap alternative. The Jive is also widely available second hand online on sites like ebay and preloved.
When our youngest celebrated her first birthday we struggled a bit when searching for something for her. We have four children and so being the youngest means she has a lot of handed down things. I hadn't really decided on anything when I stumbled across a set of Little Tikes musical instruments at Asda's online store. Amazingly we had managed to get to child number four with relatively few musical instruments. We did have some fancy wooden ones but as they barely made a sound they had been sent off to the charity shop years ago. I thought the instruments looked colourful and inviting and as they were Little Tikes I also felt confident that they would be well made and robust. They were priced at £7 for a set of instruments which included two maracas, a drum and the Tap-a-Tune piano. I ordered the item online and had it delivered to the store and when I went to collect my order the same set of instruments was £15. The Tap-a-tune Piano is made of bright yellow plastic and has keys like a piano and metal bars like a xylophone. When you strike the keys they hit the underside of the metal bars and make a sound but you can also use an object to hit the bars themselves. I was really pleased with the look and quality of the toy and after seeing the in store price felt I had got a real bargain. The recommended age range for this toy is age 6 months and over. I would say that this is about right as a younger baby would not be sitting up properly in order to play with this toy. Initially my daughter seemed to like the Tap-a-Tune piano and played with it quite a bit, not every day and I wouldn't say it was a favourite but she did seek it out to play with it. Unfortunately the new toy soon became neglected in favour of other things that made more noise or were more girly. My daughter is now fast approaching her second birthday and the Tap-a-Tune piano has long since been forgotten. I recently took it to the charity shop and I don't think it has been missed at all. Unfortunately although the toy is well made and colourful it just doesn't offer enough to hold a Childs interest. There seem to be so many toys that have flashing lights or speak and makes noises that a more traditional simpler toy like this just doesn't do enough. I could quite happily live without all the noisy toys but my kids all seem to love them. I would recommend this toy because it is well made and does offer some entertainment value as well as helping with hand eye coordination. Unfortunately it might not hold their interest for very long so I would certainly look around for an offer or bargain price.
For Christmas we bought my daughter an MP3 player and although this obviously came with headphones I thought it would be nice for her to have some speakers to go with it. During a visit to Toys R Us I noticed a Hasbro i-dog for sale at £19.99. I thought the i-dog looked cute but it was plain white and I thought I would keep looking to find something a bit funkier. My daughter is only 7 and her room is very pink and girly and I wanted something that looked nice and not just plain black speakers. I searched for the i-dog on www.amazon.co.uk and found the Hasbro i-dog amp'd priced at around £13. The price on www.amazon.co.uk does seem to fluctuate and this item seems to range from £13 up to around £25. There were several colours and styles available and I decided on the purple and blue heart design. The i-dog is quite small and only a few inches tall. He is very sturdy and solid and a really nice chunky little thing. The i-dog doesn't feel or look cheap and seems like it will last. I think the i-dog is made of plastic and has clear plastic ears and a tail. There is a small silver button on the front of the dog's head that looks like a nose but is also the on off switch. On the back of the dog there is a circular shaped speaker. You also get the cable needed to connect the speaker to your mp3 player and all the instructions you need. The i-dog needs 3 x AA batteries and comes supplied with these. To change your batteries you have to unscrew the underside of the dog and removed the bottom of the dog. We haven't had to change the batteries yet but I assume it is simple enough to do. To operate the dog you just plug your cable into the idog and into your mp3 and press the button on his nose. There is a pattern of lights on the dogs face that flash when the dog is on and the dog will also bark and make whining noises at intervals. When music is played either via an mp3 or simply if the i-dog is sitting next to your television he will tap his foot and his head nods and his ears and tail waggle. When you want to switch off the i-dog you just hold down his nose button for three seconds and his head and ears will droop and his lights will flash and he will make a whining noise and then he shuts down. I believe the difference between the i-dog and the i-dog amp'd is supposed to be the sound quality. I have not heard the original i-dog but the sound quality of the i-dog ampd is not great. The sound quality seems worse at higher sound levels and is quite tinny. I find that it can grate on the nerves a little and I do have to ask my daughter to turn her music off if she is insisting on listening to it in the kitchen. Unfortunately the workings of the i-dog are quite loud and if you put the sound down too low it can be drowned out by the sound of the dog's workings and barking. My daughter loves this speaker and is very happy with it despite the poor sound quality. My daughter hadn't realised that the speaker would work if it was sitting near the television and this just made the new gift extra special. The colour and pattern were also a real hit and she hasn't found anything yet to dislike about the speaker. Despite the sound quality I have been very pleased with the speaker. I would say shop around and get a decent price but otherwise I would recommend this speaker. I think this is great for a child and because of the various colours and styles available you could get one in their favourite colours or to co-ordinate with their rooms. I wouldn't want to use this as a main speaker for myself but for my daughter it is fine. When I originally saw these I didn't think it would last very well but now that we have this one I can see that it is very well made and will hopefully last a good while.
My eldest son is quite hard to buy for as he seems to be too old or too young for the toys available or things are ridiculously expensive for a piece of poorly built rubbish. This year my son asked Father Christmas for Lego which I bought but then I saw the Sea Monkeys on www.amazon.co.uk and felt that this could be quite a good gift for him. I shopped around and found that Sea Monkeys are widely available online for around £10 for the basic kit. While searching I found the Sea Monkeys big show projector available from Argos in their half price toy sale for just over £11. With this set you get the Sea Monkeys tank, the show projector base, a stirrer, a small feeding spoon, a magnifying glass, a packet of water purifier, a packet of Sea Monkeys and a packet of sea monkey food. You also receive an instruction sheet, an order form for more sea monkeys, purifier and food and battery instructions. To operate the light you need two AAA batteries these are not included. The batteries fit inside a secure compartment in the base and you need a screwdriver to open and close this. The base that has the light in it can be removed from the tank without upsetting the sea monkeys when the batteries need replacing. To set up your tank you will need a small bottle of spring water but not sparkling. You only need about 10floz but you will need more over time to top up your tank due to evaporation. Once you have everything you put the recommended amount of water into the tank up to the fill line. Once you have filled the tank with water you need to add the contents of the water purifier packet and stir it up using the special stirrer provided. Unfortunately setting up the tank does take a few days. Once you have added the purifier you must leave the tank for 24 hours before you add your Sea Monkeys. Once the 24 hours has elapsed you simply tip the contents of the sea monkeys' packet into the prepared tank and give it another stir. Depending on the light and temperature the sea monkeys will take up to 5 days to hatch. At first the sea monkeys are tiny and very hard to see even with the magnifying glass but each day you see more and more as they hatch and grow bigger. The sea monkeys will grow to about ½ an inch long and should be fully grown in about four weeks. According to online information regarding the sea monkeys they will start to make and produce yo9ung once they have reached their full size. The sea monkeys will need feeding a tiny amount of food using the small end of the spoon provided about once a week but according to the instructions they don't need to be cleaned out. I found the comic book style instructions a little lacking in information so I went online to the official sea monkey's site and watched a video showing how to set up your tank. According to the information in the pack the sea monkeys should last two years but additional packets of purifier, food and sea monkeys are widely available online. My son was very pleased with this gift and I think the fact that it is a little unusual appealed to him. We have had many pets and these are definitely the easiest to keep but have still caused quite a stir in our house. Unfortunately we are now on our second batch of sea monkeys and it is only three weeks since Christmas. Our first attempt was going well and we had managed to hatch quite a few Sea Monkeys and we could see them swimming about without using the magnifying glass but they still weren't quite big enough for the light show. It was on feeding day that my eldest daughter decided to lift the tank up and have a good look at the sea monkeys up close. Yep you guessed it she dropped the tank and the whole contents water and sea monkeys came out all over the work top and onto the floor. If it had happened with a goldfish at least I could have scooped it back into the tank and added more water. To operate the projector you place the tank near a wall or other plain surface and switch on the light. The light then shines through the water and the sea monkeys silhouettes appear on the wall. This effect could be replicated with a small torch just as easily which was why I would not have bought this at full price. We have now had our second batch of sea monkeys for almost two weeks and they are getting quite big now. You can clearly see them swimming about and they have had some food and seem to be thriving. We tried the light show for the first time today and I have to say it was a little disappointing. I am still hoping that it will work better once the sea monkeys are full grown but at the moment all you can see is little blob shapes wiggling about and no detail at all. Having the light shining through the tank does make the sea monkeys easier to see when they are small and the light does seem to make them more active but I don't think this effect is worth paying approximately £10 over the price of a basic tank. If you are looking for something a little different or want a low maintenance pet I would recommend this toy. When asked at school what he had received for Christmas my son only mentioned his Sea Monkeys so I am happy that this was a good choice. Shop around to get a good price for this or any of the many different styles of Sea Monkey tanks and certainly don't pay full price for this tank.