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We had a lovely few days weather-wise in February, so we decided to make the most of it and have a couple of impromptu days out. One of these days out was a bit of a disaster, everything that could go wrong did go wrong - including my brand new pushchair literally falling apart in my hands as I unfolded it. Now, at the time my son was fourteen months old and hadn't started walking at that point - too much of a lump to carry around all day, the choices were either go home or find somewhere to buy a cheap pushchair from. Mark remembered spotting an Argos a few miles back so we headed there as the weather was just too beautiful to go back home - a special offer made this Chicco London pushchair our best buy; the fact that it was supplied with a rain cover, buggy liner and cosytoes was neither here nor there for me as I already have these accessories but as a 'starter' set this is pretty good.
As the organised type, Mark had the correct 'things' in his emergency toolkit to assemble the pushchair - if I remember correctly this was simply a case of attaching the hood to the frame of the pushchair and bolting the wheels into place. It didn't take him long at all - although disposing of the ridiculously huge cardboard box was a nuisance in semi-rural Oxfordshire and I ended up having it leaning on the back of my seat until we saw a recycling point! The box seriously didn't need to be so big, a point proved when we opened it and saw how much empty space was inside and how badly arranged the contents were.
The pushchair isn't the most exciting I've ever seen, in navy with black trim and absolutely no 'extras' incorporated into the design at all. I knew I wouldn't use it much after this day out as I do like a stylish pushchair and this one is just too basic looking to really appeal to me - even with my baby transportation addiction I baulked at buying a brand new pushchair for one days use so we've kept it in the boot of the car for days out like this. It folds to fairly narrow dimensions so is actually perfect for 'emergency boot use' as it doesn't fill the entire boot of the car as my previous pushchair did, this one will easily slot in at the back of the boot and leaves plenty of room for the shopping (or whatever else I'm transporting in the boot). Incidentally, folding it can be a bit fiddly to begin with simply because you have to get your foot into a slightly strange angle to activate the folding mechanism - I soon got the hang of it, although have scratched the tops of several pairs of shoes due to the silly location of the food pedal.
Right, bad points first. The accessories that came with the London pushchair are a bit, ummm, rubbish. The pushchair liner seems soft and comfortable when first laid in the seat, but I quickly noticed that it has an unfortunate habit of wrinkling up when David moves around in the pushchair. This wouldn't be very comfortable for him and I think it's sometimes the cause when he starts grumbling while he's sitting down in the pushchair; the harness straps fit through well placed gaps in the liner but these straps are simply not enough on their own to keep the liner fully in place and I think this is something Chicco should look at, especially as such a song and dance is made about this 'accessories pack'. The cosy toes zips to the liner and while this keeps everything more comfortable for David, it's the most narrow cosy toes I've ever seen and he always looks decidedly squashed when it's zipped up. Add to this the fact that the cosy toes has an irritating habit of rolling down (thus leaving most of David's top half exposed to the cold) and I think you can see why I don't bother with it - in fact I have no idea where it is! The rain cover is easily fitted and snug to all sides of the pushchair, on the odd occasion I've walked out in the rain (a very rare event!) it's kept David and the entire pushchair perfectly dry - you don't have to worry about being caught in a sudden shower either as the rain cover slips over the pushchair in seconds when the heavens open, the end of the rain cover simply tucks under the foot section of the seat so no awkward ties or clips to mess around with.
The pushchair itself is fine, it's certainly not the best I've ever used but for the price I paid is definitely not as naff as it could have been. The frame is sturdy and there are no wobbles whatsoever as I'm pushing it, the moveable leg rest isn't particularly good as it doesn't work (!) - which is not an issue at the moment as David is still comfortable to sit in an 'extended leg' position, but eventually as he gets taller he's going to need the leg rest moving down and then Mark's going to have to get his thinking cap on! The handlebar height isn't adjustable and I suspect that would be a problem for taller people; I'm not much over 5ft and the handles are perfect for me, at almost a foot taller Mark always looks a bit stooped when he pushes David in the pushchair.
The wheels rotate smoothly and the pushchair is easily manoeuvrable even when pushing it with one hand; the wheels can either be in swivel or locked position, this is easily done and the pushchair pushes equally well whichever way you decide to have the wheels. Personally I prefer it in the 'swivel' position as when I walk with David it doesn't tend to be on particularly even terrain and I find the pushchair easier to manage when the wheels are able to move freely. The wheels themselves are made from solid plastic, obviously this doesn't give David as smooth a ride as if they were the inflatable variety but he always looks comfortable being pushed in this pushchair (now I've removed the liner!) so it plainly doesn't bother him what material the wheels are made of!
The brake is easily activated with a responsive foot pedal, unusually for Chicco they've located it in a sensible place and position so there's no accidentally depressing it as you walk and no chance of unwittingly releasing it when you've stopped walking for whatever reason. I've got to say here that as solid as the brake feels on the Chicco London, never completely trust the safety of your child to a pushchair brake - even when stopped you should always keep one hand on it in case the brake ever malfunctioned or failed completely.
I'm reasonably happy with the shopping basket, which is quite large and much sturdier than those on other pushchairs I've owned of a similar design. There's a bit of give in the back of the seat which means I lose some of the height in the basket when David is in 'lounging' mode - the seat reclines back through five positions and obviously the further your baby lies back the more shopping space you lose. David, at an inquisitive seventeen months, likes to be upright at all times so this is no bother for me but when I used the Chicco London to transport my friends four month old sleeping son I was surprised at how tiny the shopping basket became when I laid him into pretty much flat position.
Adjusting the seat recline is very quickly done, it goes back so smoothly that you probably wouldn't wake a sleeping baby if you need to change their position - this would have been handy for David when he was a few months younger as if he decided to nap while in his pushchair he would always end up being disturbed due to the jerkiness of the reclining mechanism on the pushchair I was using at the time. The Chicco London is suitable from birth, although I don't think it's anywhere near comfortable enough for a very tiny baby due to a lack of padding and also the fact that despite it's best efforts the pushchair does not lie flat enough to support a newborn - obviously this is my opinion as Chicco would have done all the necessary research into the safety aspect of using this pushchair for new babies, but as a mum I'd rather use something more substantial when my children are very small. The maximum weight limit is 15kg, which seems about right in relation to the sturdiness of the frame and seat - I doubt if David will be in it for that long though as at 13kg in weight now he is already showing signs of filling the seat, admittedly he's a giant of a boy but I'd still expect him to have more room considering he's not even eighteen months old yet!
The Chicco London is available with and without the accessory pack, at the time of my purchase I paid £69.99 for mine but usually the pushchair on its own is priced higher than this so for the right person (ie. someone who wants this as a 'main' pushchair rather than an emergency one) it's a definite bargain when on offer. Having said that, I didn't think much of the accessory pack anyway so would probably recommend buying the pushchair alone unless you find the same offer as I did.
The Chicco London stroller was made with parents and babies in mind. It is a little heavier than other umbrella strollers, but it is still very easy to pick up. The handles are higher than other umbrella strollers, which helps to avoid a bad back. The canopy is wonderful because it can be adjusted according to the location of the sun. It can also be removed, if not needed. My child is very comfortable in the reclining seat. The 5 point harness keeps my wiggly child in the seat during walks.