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If you have never heard of The Wiggles you are missing a treat, as these middle-aged Aussie children's entertainers are surprisingly catching in their enthusiasm and energy. I had lived my life with no knowledge of The Wiggles until recently when my daughter watched their dvd at nursery, but apparantly they have been on the circuit for around 20 years! Consisting of four men called Murray, Jeff, Anthony and Sam, The Wiggles each wear a certain colour so you know which one is which. They are supported by some fun chaacters including Dorothy the Dinosaur, Wags the Dog and Captain Feathersword, who is a pirate. I spotted the 'best of' dvd for £3 in Tesco, and decided to buy it as I was being driven demented by my daughter's previous favourite dvd! I'm glad we made the plunge as The Wiggles don't annoy me half as much as the now relegated Day full of Songs! My two-year-old watches this dvd regularly and it competes with her other new favourite the slightly rude Peppa Pig. The Wiggles is essentially non-offensive fun and its simple format based on colour, songs, movement and dance seems to tune in perfectly to what a toddler wants from a dvd. My little girl has started to sing along to the songs and she also knows some of the actions to the dances. The songs were unfamiliar at first as they are special Wiggles ones, and not nursery rhymes, but they are actually really upbeat and catchy. Including songs like 'Big Red Car' and 'Fruit Salad', the dvd is fairly educational and introduces pre-schoolers to various concepts through the power of song. Hugely popular in Australia, it seemsThe Wiggles are rapidly catching up in the UK, as I tried to book tickets for their live UK tour and they sold out really quickly. There is a whole range of Wiggles merchandise available as well as various dvds, including a Christmas special entitled 'Yule be Wiggling!' The version we have includes chameos by big names like Kylie Minogue, Rolf Harris and the late Steve Irwin, so it just goes to show the demand for these ageing but surprisingly agile men, who make unlikely children's entertainers. From start to finish this dvd and the whole Wiggles franchise is perfectly suited to the mind of a toddler. Full of energy, enthusiasm, fun and humour, this is a wholesome brand that is not that irritating for the parents. In fact I actually really likeThe Wiggles and am grateful that they have drawn my daughter's attention away from her old-fashioned nursery rhyme dvd. As a really original form of entertainment for children, The Wiggles are perfectly placed to inform and educate without being patronising to their target young audience. Each song on the dvd is accompanied by music, colour and movement, and The Wiggles deliver thm perfectly using many visual effects which thrill my daughter and fire her imagination. In fact she is such a fan that she carries the dvd case around with her and is not bothered by whether or not it contains the actual dvd. She loves The Wiggles and all the characters and even sings along by herself now. I can't recommend this dvd highly enough especially for parents bored of the slightly sombre, depressingly annoying old-fashioned dvds which often flood the market.
Nestled snugly in an accessable part of the Surrey countryside near Leatherhead, this family fun farm was our chosen destination for a day out somewhere new recently. With a hard to please toddler and a grumpy husband it was not looking good... Having spent a week putting up with frequent newfound tantrums, we decided to try out a new attraction in an attempt to alleviate everyones boredom, and thankfully it worked! As you enter Bocketts Farm Park you are immediately greeted by lots of petting animals, including goats, sheep and rabbits. We visited in May and there were lots of adorable lambs which delighted me, but failed to impress our two-year-old who was more interested in running riot and causing havoc! Once she had calmed down a little though she was really eager to feed the sheeps and giggled crazily when they tickled her hand in the process. For feeding purposes special munchies can be bought on entry. Progressing through the centre we stumbled upon the playpark which was age appropriate, but also had lots to entertain older kids. My little monster thoroughly enjoyed the exploring the giant bouncing pillows, as well as the trampolines and sandpit. There are also climbing frames, slides, swings and playhouses here. By the time she had burnt off some energy in the play area, we were all starting to get peckish so we decided to have lunch at the farm. Heading back out through the main enclosure we found a lovely old barn which serves as a cafe and the food was surprisingly good for this type of place. I opted for a sandwich, my hubby had a jacket potato and we chose a kids picnic box for herself. Cue happy toddler and parents! We also went for cake and this is served in little individual cartons so I wasn't holding out much hope, yet it was fresh and yummy. After a satisfying lunch we were pleased to find it was time for the pig racing! This sounds very odd indeed and it really was surreal to watch pigs dart around a track at top speed, having the time of their lifes! You would never believe a pig can move so fast until you see it with your own eyes. This event seems to last for seconds but it was highly entertaining and novel, and my daughter was in hysterics, snorting along and calling them all 'Peppa.' Honestly Peppa Pig has an awful lot to answer for! To have a little bit of a rest we decided to go on the tractor ride, which sadly is not included in the price. there is also pony riding for older children which again is not inclusive. This is a shame. The tractor ride is bumpy and slow but we enjoyed the spectacular views over London, which was just visable in the distance. It was really lovely, and also affords views across the farm and lets little ones see the animals at the same time. My daughter was getting a little tired so we went back to the main barn, but since she got a second wind we headed into the soft play area, which is a little jaded and tired compared to many newer places. Its saving grace was a massive slide which you can hurtle down on mats, gaining speed and fear along the way! I refused to go on, but my hubby took our daughter on his knee and she was in her element, insisting on several goes. Little daredevil! So that's Bocketts Farm Park and what a nice place it is too. It's about an hour from us so we won't go often but we will try it again in the future for sure. The admission prices are competitive and cheaper than similar farm parks, however it would be excellent value for money if the extras were included in the price. We all had a great day out and thought this place was well-run, varied and ideally suited to toddlers and young children. Prices are as follows; Adult £8.50 Senior Citizen £7.95 Child (3-17yrs) £8.50 Child 2yrs £6.95 Disabled £6,25
Dating back to at least 1100 when it was owned by the Royal Manor of Dartford, Groombridge place has had a chequered history since and has associations with detah, debt and drama. The former stately home is spectacular from the outside and as such as been featured in many period productions, including Pride and Predjudice. As with any formal home of this nature, the grounds and gardens which surround it are extensive, and since I did not visit the house itself, this review will focus on the grounds which I enjoyed with my husband and young daughter, a fiesty two-year old. Cultivated extensively from the seventeeth century onwards, the gardens at Groombridge Place were once seen by very few people, but can now be enjoyed by many. Divided into specific named gardens, visitors can wander at leisure through the Knot Garden, the Peacock Walk and the White Garden among other spaces. It would be impossible to discuss at length the amount of different flora and fauna on display here, but each garden has unique characteristics and differs from the other in terms of its plants and design. The flowers are bright and colourful and the gardens were designed for fun, with fountains, steps and other features abounding. From natural overhanging tress to pristine box hedging, and from forest flowers to pretty bedded ones, the contrasts here are incredible and make for an enjoyable stroll, even if you are not entirely keen on gardening, like me! My toddler enjoyed running riot here but there were better areas for her to explore further away from the main gardens. As we wandered past friendly peacocks (cue squeals of delight from herself) we came to a shady walk down by a canal complete with a barge which takes you down the canal for the price of £1. Sadly the boat was not working when we were there, but it's a bit of a walk so I can imagine it's popular. After around 10 minutes walking, we came to the first part of the Enchanted Forest, which is a mystical area incorporating a large pirate themed playground, unusual dinosaur sculptures, a duck pond, and some colourful Romany caravans. My daughter (and husband!) loved the large wooden pirate ship with its wobbly bridge and climbing areas, and it was hard to drag them away to continue our walk! Soon there were other attractions though, like the huge Koi Carp jumping from the water to compete with the ducks for food at the pond. As the walk continued uphill, my stubborn little girl got tired and refused to walk, resulting in our day going downhill as we resorted to carrying her. My husband had failed to pack the buggy, but if you have young children and want to explore the entire area, it really is a must. We didn't spot any but apparantly deer and giant rabbits live in the forest and can often be seen by eager eyes. We did, however, manage to introduce ourselves to the resident Zeedonk - one of only two Zebra/Donkey crosses in the UK. And what a strange creature he was! Due to our daughter's deteriorating mood, we perhaps missed certain parts of the walk and forest, and as stated earlier we skipped the house alltogether, but despite this we had an enjoyable morning and saw quite a bit. Towards the end of our walk we stumbled across the Birds of Prey Centre, which houses several species including owls, hawks and falcons and features flying shows at 12.30pm and 3.30pm, which again we just missed! Before we left we did manage to sit down for a bit of a picnic we brought with us, and this was lovely thanks to the clean and well-managed picnic area by the main restaurant. Next time I would be keen to try the restaurant though as it looked really tempting. There is also a gift shop and an ice cream stand nearby. For me the best thing about this place is that it offers something for everyone. You can take it at your own pace, so if you fancy a strenous walk, you can do it, but likewise if you want to sit and enjoy a bit of tranquility, that's fine too. There are attractions for children, but unlike some all-singing, all-dancing attractions, the ones here rely on a little bit of old-fashioned imagination. Equally it is a nice place for people without kids to enjoy. All in all I was very impressed with Groombridge Place and can see myself returning, but I will make sure we are better equipped next time! The house and gardens are located on the Kent and Sussex borders, near Tunbridge Wells. Admission prices are as follows; Adults - £9.95 (£8.95 off peak) Children - £8.45 (£7.45 off peak) Senior Citizen - £8.45 (£7.45 off peak) Family Tickets are also available.
Last year my daughter had been walking a few months when summer hit andI had to think about what summer shoes to buy her. I popped into my local branch of Clarks and all the regular shoes seemed too heavy, too clumpy and too expensive! But then I spotted a whole range of shoes on a stand by the walls and discovered the appeal of Doodles! Doodles come in a whole range of styles and colours, suitable for both boys and girls. They are made from canvas or similar light materials and have a flexible but sturdy rubber sole. They come in all sorts of varieties including open toe sandals, closed toe sandals, traditional shoes, and options with velcro, ribtape or clasp fastenings. I bought my daughter two pairs last year. The first were a girlie version of the ones in the picture, except they were denim with pink stars on them. I was not convinced I liked the design, but my daughter adored them and they went with everything. I have to say that despite being made from canvas, these shoes were surprising hard-wearing and still look really good. They would certainly withstand the wear of another child if I decide to have one. I had assumed that because they were canvas in origin that they would lack support and be better for occassional use but I was wrong. The ankle area had padded support and my daughter never toppled over in these despite being a relatively new walker. She wore them without socks and never had any blisters or anything. They really were brilliant, despite me not really liking the cutesy design. Added to these I bought my daughter a pair of sandals from the range and these look like walking or trekking sandals, are open toed and fastened with two velcro strips. They were super lightweight in design, lighter than the other pair, and had little cupcakes on the velcro strips. At first my little girl was unsure of these asher foot was not enclosed like she was used to, but within a week or so her curiosity took over and from then on she lived in them. Again being fairly plain these went with all her dresses and trousers and looked really good. In fact we liked them so much that we headed back this year and bought this year's version! Instead of cupcakes the sandals have little stars and I prefer this as I'm not really into babyish designs. My daughter is now two and as soon as she tried these on she was running around the shop in them and refusing to take them off. When I prised them off her feet to pay for them she had an allmighty tantrum, resulting in me giving in and letting her wear them home! I anticipate that these will be her favourite (and cheapest) shoes this summer as she is already insisiting on wearing them. The Doodles cost around £15 a pair which is around half the price of a regular pair of Clarks shoes. Despite them being more generic, and less fitted with no width fittings, they all seem to have fairly adjustable fastenings so they can be tightened or loosened if necessary. My little monster has narrow feet and they fit her fine regardless. There are no real downsides to these shoes. Yes they get filthy but luckily they come up good as new when machine washed on a low temperature. I am not always a fan of Clarks shoes and often buy from independent retailers instead, however I cannot fault Doodles as a cost effective, lightweight and easy to wear summer shoe. My daughter can get them on and off by herself and as an independent little madam, I think that is part of the appeal for her. They are a bargain at the high street price, but if you are lucky enough to have a discount/outlet village near you, they can be picked up for as little as £6 a pair. Now there's value!
As an exquisitely handsome young socialite, Dorian Gray appears to have the world at his feet. He is adored by everyone he meets, and is blessed to have wealth, good looks and an endearing nature on his side. Flitting between parties and events he becomes friends with talented painter Basil Hallward, who in turn introduces him to Lord Henry Wotton. With the title giving the game away a little, Dorian sits for Basil who paints an extraordinary portriat of him which captures his breathtaking appearance and seems to personify everything that is attractive about the young and naive Dorian. The portrait is painted early on in the book, and is a central element to it, but more about that a little later... While Basil is portrayed as a fairly decent character, it is fair to say he is infatuated with our main character, believing him to be picture perfect in every way. Lord Henry, while equally fascinated with Dorian, is a harder, more selfish character who speaks his mind and seeks to educate Dorian and mould his character by introducing him to alternative, and often controversial viewpoints. As an impressionable and somewhat innocent young man, Dorian is eager to learn from the confident Lord Henry and soaks up the barage of compliments from both himself and Basil, who tell him he is the most beautiful creature in the world. As time goes on Dorian becomes obsessed with the notion of achieving eternal youth and beauty, and becomes more and more petrified of his looks and subsequent popularity fading. So he decides to sell his soul in return for good look forever more. Like I said earlier the portrait is central to Dorian's rapid decline into a Victorian London underworld, where he is involved in many unspeakable sins, most of which are never mentioned, merely hinted at. A whole spiral of events sees our main character become a very ugly, vain and mean-spirited man on the inside, yet his beauty never fades and so he manages to lead a double life, attending high society events and sleazy establishments at the same time. But the portrait itself is undergoing changes and seems to be taking on horrific features mirroring the horror in Dorian's heart. It seems the lifelike portrait is testament to the true nature of Dorian's transformation from innocent boy to hardened man but will anyone else realise the mystical properties of the portrait and the secrets it masks? This book really is a triumph and when I decided to read more classic literature recently this was the first book that appealed to me. As the first and only full length novel by Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray is a masterpiece and showcases exceptional storytelling, giviing way to strong characters, and fantastic descriptive ability. With themes of lust, debauchery, corruption and vanity and hinting at all manner of unspeakable things for the time, its release caused uproar and its content shocked many people. Living in the world we do today, I have read a lot worse and can't say I was shocked by it, however I did find it very thought provoking. Watching Dorian unravel on the inside yet remain calm and collected to the outside world was interesting and fascinating. There are macabre elements to this book which is probably why it is calssified as gothic horror. While it is not horrific by modern standards, it is a very dark tale, which draws the eager reader in to its story. There are no likeable main characters in this book, although Basil is the most likeable at a push. While he is kind-hearted and harmless, he is also a bit pathetic and his admiration of Dorian is irritating, making him less endearing as a result. Lord Henry, meanwhile, is detestable, and as a selfish, outspoken and condescending character he was not possible to warm to. He is rude and obnoxious and seems to take what he wants from life, regardless of other peoples feelings. Dorian is of course affable at the beginning, but his vanity and subsequent decline, makes him an increasingly sinister man indeed. The climax of this book is excellent but I cannot say much without giving it all away. It had me on the edge of my seat and was unexpected, but perhaps inevitable with hindsight. It is also very, very clever. The whole story is, in fact, very clever. Wilde has remarkable talent for linking certain themes together, and reflecting Lord Henry's influence and views into the very heart of the character of Dorian. His narrative ability paints a great picture of Victorian society and it many layers, classes and prejudices. Yet it is still very readable and relevent today, despite me usually being a fan of chick lit! With Dorian's collapse of character, we are reminded how often we judge people by their outward appearance, regardless of the evil, insanity or cruelty cowering within. We are all too happy to assume good looks equal a good nature, and of course this is certainly not the case with Dorian Gray. We are also reminded of the limits society has put in place, and the barriers which are not to be crossed. This really is a wonderful novel to get stuck in to and it has stood the test of time, making it one of the greatest books of our time and a great introduction to the genius of Oscar Wilde.
The very first book I bought my daughter, before she was even born, was 'Say Hello to the Baby Animals' and it was an instant hit as soon as she began to get interested in books, thanks to its simplicity, bright colours and touchy feely animals. Fast forward two years and my daughter is now an eager little book worm, and capable of picking and choosing the sort of books she likes. So with simple picture books being a hot favourite we headed to our local bookshop to choose a new book, and she went straight for 'Say Goodnight to the Sleepy Animals', which is another book in the series and was obviously familiar to her due to her love of the sister book mentioned above. The book is softcover, with a glossy front cover embossed with an endearing picture of a happy cat and her litter of playful kittens. The cats are slightly raised from the page and are tactile with a velvet feel. The rest of the pages are thick and fairly durable and the colours are vivid throughout. Following the adventures of a cat who heads out in the dark, we see our main feline character say good night to a series of animals including a dog, a fox, some birds, an owl, a mouse and some rabbits. At the end the cat returns home to her litter of kittens. The animals in the story are also tactile with the same velvety fabric on them, and each page contains one or two lines of narrative explaining the cats journey and the activities of the animals she encounters. For example there is text like "Busy little rabbits, it's time to stop! They settle in the straw with a hop, hop, hop!" As you can see the language used is uplifiting and lively and the rythym is lovely for young children who are being read to. The illustrations are superb and the animals really jump off the pages and come to life. Added to the main text, the animals are bid goodnight with the rabbit section reading "Goodnight rabbits. Hop, hop, hop." This is excellent as it reiterates the sounds associated with each animal and helps to aid the flow of language used throughout. At the very end we are yet again encouraged to say goodnight to all the animals at once, and again we are reminded of the sounds they make. My daughter adores animals, repetition, bright colours and books that she can get involved in, and so this is the perfect book for her. She kisses the animals and seems to really warm to them, as well as being able to copy sections of the simple text, andof course say goodnight! There are many of her books that I find boring to read, but this is not one of them. It really has no negatives and is a good addition to our collection. She also loves more grown-up books, so I was worried she would not get much value from this book, however she still loves it and it's a firm favourite, along with the original. As well as this book other versions available include the already mentioned 'Say Hello to the Baby Animals' as well as 'Say Hello to the Animals' and 'Say Hello to the Snowy Animals.' I think I paid around £4 for this book on special offer and it retails for around £5.99.
My daughter was around 14-months when she started getting really interested in items from the Happyland range, so around this time we decided to invest in this cute little doll's house to fire her imagination. The Happyland collection at ELC is extensive and includes a whole range of houses, buildings, vehicles and people, as well as storage boxes and playmats so its entirely possible to build up to a whole Happyland village, with each item being great for role play and imagination building. Being an early years toy, the Cherry Lane Cottage is chunky, bright and made from durable, tough plastic. It is great as it can withstand a lot of wear and tear, and although ours was an Ebay purchase previously used by two other children, it is in excellent condition which is testament to its quality. The characters that accompany the house are also chunky and perfect for little hands to hold. The house comes complete with two little girls, a rabbit, a cat and a squirrel. The only one I was concerned about was the rabbit as it's the smallest, but my daughter never put it in her mouth or had any problem with any of the characters. It is decorated on the outside with vines and a treehouse, and on the inside it has a number of finishing touches which make it realistic and much like the picture perfect country cottage image we can all imagine. As well as coming complete with room appropriate furniture, each room also has decoration on the walls, and the detailing is great. There is a lot of attention to detail which makes this house fasinating for young children. The house opens up on a hinge to reveal a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and dining room, and the furniture includes beds, tables and chairs and a dressing table. The treehouse outside incorporates a balcony, and the little front door opens and closes. While the characters fit nicely onto the furniture, they can be fiddly for children to position and my daughter often gets frustrated if she can't to it herself, but this is a minor problem, and probably not one which can be solved. The green treehouse top balances precariously on its trunk and always falls off. Again this is a minor annoyance which does not detract from the enjoyment this house brings. My little girl is now two and plays with this house regularly. She would love a large, traditional dolls house, but this one is perfect to practice with first while she is still so young. Priced at £30 this cute cottage is good value, and although it is girly in its design it is well played with by both boys and girls who visit our house, and children from one to seven have been fascinated with it. All in all it's a winning formula as it looks great, is sturdy and helps to develop hand eye co-ordination and good role-play skills.
My daughter loves etch-a-sketch type doodlers, but we have always noticed with other peoples, that the little stampers and pens tend to end up lost fairly quickly. We decided to get this one for her first birthday but in the end she had plenty of presents, so we put it away and gave it to her for her second birthday instead. The Baby Scribbler is smaller than some other models on the market and is made of tough, durable plastic,unlike many others I have seen which are quite flimsy. The girly version I am reviewing is as pictured, designed to look like a fairy castle with pretty pink and blue colouring on the plastic. There are three stampers and these are in the shape of characters to compliment the castle theme. One of the stampers punches hearts onto the screen, one draws a wiggly line and the other draws straight lines, and replaces the attached pen these sort of doodler often come with. At the bottom is a heart shaped button and this is pulled to clear the screen, leading to hours of fun! When the heart button is pulled, you can let it go and it goes back automatically, clearing the screen at the same time. My daughter finds this feature fascinating and prefers to pull the button rather than draw al lot of the time. The stampers are chunky and have been cleverly designed for little hands to hold. I think they are effective but they are pretty tricky to get in and out of their slots, and this frustrates my toddler who likes to at least try to do everything herself. Instead of asking for help, or persevering, she loses interest. So I really need to be involved when she ses this toy to help her get the stampers out. On the plus side, we have not yet lost a stamper, and because they are large, they would be easy to spot if we did misplace one, and they are difficult to be sucked up the hoover! All in all this is a good toy, perhaps slightly expensive at £15, but I imagine it is long-lasting. My daughter is a bit of a tomboy so I reckon the girlie design is wasted on her, but it would make a great gift for little girls who are into princesses and fairytales.
My daughter took a shine to these trikes during the summer when she saw one at a kids party, so I decided to wait a few months until Christmas when I vowed to buy her one of her own. Big mistake! By Christmas my daughter was coming up to two and seemed to have outgrown the trike all of a sudden. With a lightweight aluminium frame, sturdy but light design, and ability to fold down and be portable, I thought the Scuttlebug would be ideal for a two-year-old, but sadly it was not to be. The age range, as far as I remember, is aged one to age three, but personally I would say one to two is much more accurate. The Scuttlebug my daughter owns is the same as the one in the picture, except it is bright pink. They are available in pink, blue, purple and yellow. They look really great and have narrow seats and sturdy legs. It's really easy to move about on them due to their size and design. The handle turns easily, and they take up very little space, especially since they can be collapsed. For this reason they are a great toy for taking to the park, or over to friends houses. It's easy to carry them one-handed, which is important with a toddler who always demands to be carried like mine! My daughter does sit on this and scoot about but she looks far too big for it. She would rather play with her other toys, especially her ride on car. I paid £20 on Amazon for this, but it was on special offer and they usually retail for around £25, which is still a good price for what they are. However I would bear in mind that if your child is 18-months or older, they may not get much use from this trike. The same goes for toddlers who are tall for their age.
By the time my daughter moved up to the next stage carseat I had a sore back, was constantly slouching, and had lost all patience with trying to connect my heavy car seat to the bulky chassis, and trying to get this heavy contraption in and out of my dinky little car. So when it was time to say bye bye big buggy, I was more than happy to trade in my sturdy, but cumbersome model for a lightweight and flexible little stroller. Having checked out various options we opted for the nifty Maclaren Quest Mod, for its range of excellent features, good reputation and equally good looks. I know it's not important what a buggy looks like, yet I fell in love with the gorgeous black and lime green version, with its funky apple print. I was told by many another mother that it's hard to beat a Maclaren buggy for comfort, reliability and practicality, so I needed no further pursuasion that this buggy was right for all of us. The version I chose boasts a lovely contrast between jet black and lime green, and the colours are very trendy, vibrant and modern. The underside of the hood is lime green and really brightens up the black nicely. From the start I was chuffed to find the stroller was super light-weight and easy to put up and down. You can recline the seat, but to this day I have not figured out how to do this, although this is due to laziness on my part, rather than any manufacturing complication! The buggy has been designed to be collapsed with just one hand, and this is easy peasy once you get the hang of it. It locks automatically with a clip on the side once it has been collapsed, and it fits nicely in my boot, with plenty of room left for shopping, which is a real luxury since my travel system required serious negotiation just to fit in at all! I read a lot of other Maclaren reviews before going with the Quest Mod, and a lot of reviewers complained about the brakes on many models, including this one, being very poor. I have not really had a problem with the brakes but obviously, being a lightweight buggy, they are not as good as on a sturdy travel system. They have not let me down yet though. I think I paid around £180 for this buggy, which is a lot. I could have gone with a cheaper model but just felt comfortable with what this offered for the price. With its appealing design and simplicity, this little stroller is perfect as a holiday buggy, or for becoming an everyday buggy once your child has progressed to the second stage carseat, when you will no longer need to drag around a big, bulky buggy. The Maclaren Quest Mod features foam grip handles, which are really comfy to hold, and it pushes like a dream, manging to get in and out of doors and tight spaces easily, thanks to its efficient svivel wheels. I have really good control of this and there is no effort involved in pushing it. Its slightly bumpy on uneven ground, but that is to be expected of any stroller since the wheels are small and the whole design is so lightweight. I have never tried it myself as its still in great condition, but the seat can be removed for washing. I have been using this buggy as my main buggy for a year now, and it had two or three holiday outings prior to that, and it still looks as good as new. The shopping basket it comes with is spacious and handy, and the rain cover fits on effortlessly. It's easy to carry a few bags over tha handles, so all in all this stroller does its job very well indeed. inclusive rain cover and shopping basket. I really love this buggy and my daughter seems very comfortable in it. The straps are strong and safe and contain her very well, with no chance of her being able to unstrap herself, than goodness. I highly recommend this buggy and it has been brilliant for us. Techinal information: Suitable from 3 months up to 15kg (approximately 3 years) Weight 5.5kg Handle Height: 104cm Easily adjustable reclining seat with 4 positions Easy one hand fold, compact and convenient to carry Removable seat for cleaning 5" swivel wheels which can be locked in place 5 point adjustable harness Ergonomic foam-grip handles Extendable leg rest support Reflective accents on hood and seat Concealed storage pocket in the back of the seat Rear view window built into the hood Convenient Shopping basket Hood and rain cover included Weighs 5.7kg/13.4lbs
I had never heard of this book until I attended a settling in session at my daughter's nursery and witnessed first hand how it seemed to enrapture a group of rowdy toddlers, who seemed enthralled with every word. Impressed by the children's response and the lovely language in the book, I snapped up a copy on my next shopping trip. The story follows a family who decide to go on a bear hunt, and is quite traditional in terms of its style, colour and illustrations. I was not convinced my two-year-old daughter would be an instant fan, as she favours brightly coloured books and touchy feely ones, but she loved it from the beginning, despite its simplicity. Starting out with the statement; "We're going on a bear hunt; we're going to catch a big one" the book then follows the family as they encounter a series of everyday obstacles on their big adventure through the countryside. The books flows really nicely, introduces some lovely words and easily lends itself to being read outloud in a dramatic fashion! As with many popular junior books there is a lot of repetition but it does not detract from the story. In fact, it enhances it and reinforces the phrases used throughout. There is a problem solving element as the group discover unruly grass first and quickly realise "We can't go over it, we can't go under it...uh oh we've got to go through it!" Later on they family have to decide how to tackle a river, mud, a forest, a snowstorm, and a cave, before finally uncovering the bear in question. At this point common sense kicks in and they all run back home as fast as they can with the angry bear hot on their heels! On the way back they of course need to retrace their footsteps, and so we are treated to the whole adventure again, but in reverse. This is great as it reinforces the words and phrases used like "stumble, trip"and "swishy swashy." In turn my daughter seems to enjoy the dramatics of this, and is already getting into the excitement and starting to say the words and know what's coming next. This really is a lovely book. It has a simple yet successful formula and is probably well-placed to appeal to two to five year olds. It was originally published in 1989 by Walker books and is written by Micheal Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury.
The story: As a young lad growing up in hard-pressed Liverpool in the 1950's, Jeff Pearce spent many of his early years begging rags from the rich, to help his beloved mother turn them into clothes to sell on the markets. Life was hard and money was tight, with Jeff's dad often squandering what little money the family had to survive on. Yet despite the difficulties faced and the poverty endured, the family, in particularly Jeff and his mum, worked hard, believing that hard work would one day equal wealth and success. Jeff learned a lot from his mum's work ethic and perseverence, and at 14 left school to enter the workplace, despite having severe dyslexia, meaning he was unable to read and write. Having been told by a teacher that he would never amount to anything in life, Jeff was determined to prove her and others wrong, and was eager to rise above the slum life he knew, in order to carve out a new life for himself. Unfortunately Jeff's mum soon falls ill, and eventually passes away, leaving him heartbroken but determined to make her proud of him. It is fair to say that the relationship they shared was a very strong one, and one which had a profound impact on Jeff and the way he relates to people and the world around him. After a series of jobs, Jeff meets Gina, who is from a similar background. They fall in love and set up business together, selling teenage fashion on the local markets. Soon their business expands and they are able to open a little shop on the high street, and from here their business goes from strength to strength. They become very wealthy, have two children, and continue to work hard and enjoy their extravagent lifestyle and all the trappings of wealth. But then the recession hits, and very quickly they lose the house and business they have worked so hard to achieve. Jeff is forced back out on the markets, but decides to start again at building his fashion empire. Times are very tough indeed so can he deliver on his promise? My opinion: Having always been a fan of true stories, I had previously decided to give up reading them as constantly reading about abuse, degradation and poverty had really dragged me down, but this book is different. For a start, there is no awful child abuse element, no beatings or anything like that. In fact, this is an uplifting tale and despite the poverty, Jeff had a happy and colourful upbringing. Much emphasis is placed on friendships formed, and strong family relationships. Even Jeff's dad is not all bad, and despite being a drinker and irresponsible, still loves his family. The childhood section of the book tells the story of a different time, where many people were in a similar boat, and people pulled together and helped each other out. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the references to life in a bygone time, when things were easier in some ways, but harder in others. It was interesting to read about the excitement television was causing, and to hear about the rag and bone man, and how the world was changing rapidly at the time, with people trying to embrace the changes without really understanding them. The characters are strong and likeable, and I was rooting for Jeff and his family throughout all their triumphs and struggles. I wanted him to do well, as he is the kind of person who never gives up, despite many a door being slammed in his face over the years. The values instilled in Jeff, thanks to his beloved mother are strong ones, and as such he has a sound work ethic, respect, and old-fashioned family values. He looks after people and has charisma and charm, inherited from his wayward father. This is a really enjoyable book, and I read it eagerly. As well as being well-written in a storytelling style, it is easy to relate to. Yes there is poverty, but nothing that would have been unusual at the time of Jeff's childhood, and yes there is loss, but there are also themes relating to success, failure, family, loyalty, love and of course triumph over adversity. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys true life tales, but is perhaps after something a little more uplifting, funny, and warm.
I received this bubble bar from Lush as a Christmas pressie and was giddily excited since its the first product from Lush I have ever had, despite having heard many good things about their products. The bubble bar is chunky and quite think with a crumbly texture and is swirled with pink and white girly colours so it looks lovely. Priced at £3.95 for 200g, it is a little bit more expensive than some of the other Lush bath bars, however it is also bigger. You can smell this bar as soon as it comes out of its bag and it made my bathroom smell of rasperries and marshmallows for ages before I reluctnatly used it all up. Some other reviewers have commented on its blackcurrent smell and I agree that there is a faint berry smell mixed in. Containing extracts of bergamot and cyprus oils, this product is designed to be calming and to produce masses of bubbles to indulge in. The bubble bar is recommended for two baths so i thought I would follow this guideline and used half in my bath. As it is quite crumbly and soft, it broke up easily and melted into hot water with no effort at all. It instantly lathered up into masses of bubbles and turned the bath water a dark pink colour which was very inviting! You could easily get away with using less than half to make this treat last longer. When I hopped into the bath, I was surrounded by creamy bubbles which were soft to the touch and smelt great. When I eventually dragged myself out my skin was super soft and moisterised and I didnt need to use body lotion. Even my hair was soft and fresh with no greasy residue, despite me not having washed it. Unlike some other luxury bath products, this bubble bar rinses clean out of the bath and leaves behind no particles or traces of glitter, and the same goes for your skin. There's no mess involved and I think next time I will let my toddler daughter have fun with the bubbles! I can't fault this little bath treat at all. It was soothing, calming and left my skin soft, all for an affordable price. Result!
Claire and Neil Archer run the successful Sugar Loaf Hotel in County Wicklow, Ireland, but the recession has hit hard and they are beginning to struggle, relying heavily on the Christmas trade to tide them over. Claire, in particular feels a strong pull to the hotel and is doing everything in her power to ensure her guests have a comfortable and memorable stay. The first chapter focusses on the hoteliers and their background, leading the reader to believe the book is going to be all about them, but after a few chapters it becomes clear that each one tells the story of a hotel guest, visiting over the festive season. This is done very cleverly with each chapter being called after one of the hotels rooms, and then leading on to the story behind the people staying in these very rooms. At first I worried that with so many characters I would soon forget the ones earlier in the book and would confuse myself, but soon I was so absorbed in each person's circumstances that I didn't care. Later it became apparant that the stories are not really connected anyway so it wasn't an issue. It is very difficult to describe the plot of this book as it varies so much from character to character, and there are too many people to describe without giving away their secrets. Each person has a valid reason for escaping to the hotel for Christmas, and it is very enjoyable untangling this aspect of each of their lives. We see a young couple with a baby who have escaped overbearing families in order to snatch back some family time of their own. Added to this there is a group of older women brought together through the loss of loved ones, as well as a man who is heartbroken as a result of his wife's affair. These are just a few of the people we are introduced to and each character draws you in with their realistic depiction and human qualities. I'm sure that every reader of this book will be able to find something or someone that they can identify with. At one point there is even a nice little ghost story thrown in, and while whimsical and fancifal, it does explain a lot about the colourful history of the hotel, and is quite heartwarming in a way. This is the first book of Sheila O'Flanagan's that I have read and I was impressed by her storytelling ability and relaxed writing style. Each person goes on something of a journey during their brief stay at the Sugar Loaf, and while many of their paths don't cross, it is interesting to imagine this group of people from varied backgrounds, thrown together at Christmas due to a variety of personal reasons. It's almost like those times when you sit in a crowded room and people-watch, trying to work out who people are and what kind of lives they lead, except in this instance we really do find out some of the answers, satisfying our curiosity. Each story is beautifully told and because each chapter is a little story in itself it makes it an ideal book to pick up and put down as it is easy to pick up where you left off. There are plenty of seasonal references and I only wish I had a good old coal fire to curl up with when I read this!
Since having my daughter I had switched to non-bio fabric softeners as I was told they are the best for sensitive skin, but now that my baby is almost two, and since she has never suffered any skin irritations, I decided to start looking for cheaper brands as I do a lot of washing! As I do the majority of my shopping in Sainsbury's, I was immediately drawn to the 'basics' range, recognisable by its simplistic white and orange label. The fabric softener itself is presented in a see-through plastic bottle with the wording 'softens with no added promises' and the contents are an appealing light blue colour. Fickle I know, but I admit I was drawn to the pretty colour as well as the price... Costing a mere 50p for 1 litre, I decided it was definately worth a try as I am trying out more basics products in the hope of saving some money. The fabric softener has a lovely smell but it is a little overpowering in the bottle, although not offensive. It smells a bit like the distinctive smell you get when walking past a launderette. It's sort of clean but not too flowery or perfumed. The consistency of the product is excellent and there is nothing watery or translucent about it, meaning you would have no reason to suspect this is a budget fabric softener. It is thick and glossy and easy to pour, and easily matches any premier brand. The bottle suggests a capful for a medium wash, with less or more depending on how full your washing machine is. When my washing finished I was impressed by how fresh it smelt and once it dried the fragrance still lingered nicely, but was not at all overpowering. It smelt clean and was nice and soft. I certainly would be unable to tell the difference betweeen this and a luxury brand. The bottle is meant to last 28 washes but I have not got that far yet, however I would say it is so far lasting well, and continues to do its job. I am very pleased to say that my daughter has not suffered any skin rashes as a result of this product and I will certainly continue to use it. It just goes to show it really is worth trying out cheaper alternatives on everyday products!