Monday, 16 July 2012

Maternity Swishing Parties

Persil Non-Bio and Comfort Pure have teamed up with Tommy's baby charity and new mum Jenni Falconer to create a guide for maternity swishing parties.

If you would like to get together with friends and swap maternity and baby clothes you can download their guide, full of tips from maternity stylist, Alex Longmore.

Disclosure: I'm being sent some Persil Non-Bio as a thank you for writing this blog post.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012


Emma Bunton, Jessica Ennis, Joe Hart, Fatboy Slim, Joe Calzaghe and Dame Kelly Holmes are among a host of sporting and entertainment heroes whose trainers are now available to bid for on an eBay auction as part of the ‘Great Trainer Donation’, a campaign raising funds for Mary’s Meals, the official charity of the Tesco Great School Run.

The race is on to grab Jessica Ennis and Dame Kelly Holmes’ trainers, or if you’d rather take centre stage why not bid on Emma Bunton or Fatboy Slim’s shoes? You can bid on the trainers by visiting the auction page of The auction is live from Monday 2nd July to Wednesday 11th July 2012.

Proceeds from the auction will go straight to Mary’s Meals (a global movement), which sets up school feeding projects in some of the world's poorest communities, feeding more than 600,000 hungry children in places of education every single school day. For as little as £10.70, Mary’s Meals can feed a child for an entire school year and the charity now helps children in 16 different countries around the world. By providing one daily meal in a place of learning, chronically poor children are attracted to the classroom where they can gain an education that can, in the future, become their ladder out of poverty.

Former Olympian and Tesco Great School Run ambassador, Colin Jackson, commented: “I’m thrilled to donate my trainers to this great cause which is raising awareness of the fantastic work Mary’s Meals does for some of the world’s poorest children. I hope someone’s brave enough to bid on my trainers – even if they go for a tenner, it will mean being able to feed a child for one whole year. If donating my trainers helps inspire kids in the UK to get active too, then even better!”

Children taking part in this year’s Tesco Great School Run have been petitioning their favourite celebrities to donate their trainers and help raise even more money for Mary’s Meals. The charity will also benefit from sponsorship that the children raise by running in the 2 kilometre event.

The Tesco Great School Run is the world’s largest mass participation event for children, encouraging 5 – 11 year olds and their families in the UK to get fit through healthy eating and exercise, by taking part in a two-kilometre (1.2miles) fun run. Last year, more than 1.2m children took part across 4,500 schools.

Abeer Macintyre, Head of Supporter Care at Mary’s Meals, said: “An education can have a life-changing effect on children and their communities, by providing an escape route out of abject poverty.

“With this in mind, we are delighted to be the official charity of this year’s Tesco Great School Run and to be benefitting from the Great Trainer Donation is a wonderful bonus. Since it costs just pennies for us to provide one meal to a child, any amount raised can go a long way to making a big difference.”

Ruth Girardet, Tesco Corporate Responsibility and Community Director, said: “Now in its eighth year, the Tesco Great School Run programme aims to educate and encourage healthy lifestyle choices for school children. This year we’re delighted to have Mary’s Meals as our official charity and are very grateful for the support of the children and celebrities who have been fundraising to help the charity carry on with their incredible work.”
For the full list of celebrities, more information on The Great Trainer Donation and how you can bid on the eBay auction, visit

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Railfest 2012 at the National Railway Museum in York

I've been to the National Railway Museum in York once before, when we lived a bit closer to it. We had a super day out.

From 2-10 June the National Railway Museum is holding Britain's biggest rail celebration - RAILFEST 2012.

This enormous event, the size of 11 football pitches, has an impressive line-up of more than 50 trains. These include the historic and the record-breaking. You can see the Flying Scotsman, the Mallard and the Tornado (Britain's newest steam train that I've seen stop at Milton Keynes a few times - let me tell you there is nothing more exciting than first hearing and then seeing a massive steam train pull into a station. I'm not joking).

There will be a Chuggington Activity Area for younger visitors as well as a family chill-out area. You will also find stalls, refreshments and live music.

The NRM advises buying tickets in advance to jump the queues on the day and to travel by public transport, as the only parking available for the nine days of the festival will be for blue badge holders only.

I'm telling you about Railfest 2012 because a) The National Rail Museum is fab and b) they occasionally send me sweets and toys for the boys and this is my way of saying thank you. We were offered free tickets too, but sadly cannot make it this time.

Thursday, 17 May 2012


Nick Jr., the award-winning pre-school channel from the Nickelodeon network, announces the 2012 launch Help Dora Help, the campaign that brings exploration to life in nurseries and pre-schools across the UK.

The campaign, supported by The Prince’s Foundation for Children & the Arts consists of a free activity pack, giving nurseries and pre-schools educational activity resources. Nurseries will also have the opportunity to apply for an award of £20,000. The pack follows the Early Years Foundation Stage development goals and contains six activity session plans that provide stimulating learning opportunities with the theme of Dora the Explorer’s adventures. The themes for this year’s pack are: Cooking, Sports Day, Fairy Tales, Animals, Seaside and Music.

Registration is now open at for nurseries to apply for a pack. They have until 22nd July to work through the activities with their pre-schoolers and put together their application for the £20,000 award.

Once this year’s applications have been submitted, an expert panel led by Nick Jr.’s Wake Up World Helena Dowling, alongside Nick Jr. representatives and partners including The Prince’s Foundation, Dora Magazine and Chad Valley will choose five finalists. The public will then be able to vote for their favourite application and decide who is awarded the £20,000.

Each of the five finalists will be awarded discovery and learning equipment from Chad as well as a classroom visit from Dora the Explorer and all five finalists’ award bids will be filmed and aired on Nick. Jr.

In 2011, Hope Nursery School in Belfast was selected. With the award the Nursery selected to build a play area featuring numerous play structures, a puppet theatre, garden, sand and water area.
Tina McCann, MD Nickelodeon UK, said: “The quality of applications in 2011’s Help Dora Help campaign were incredible. We’re delighted with the way the award has been used at Hope Nursery and equally excited to engage with pre-schoolers and practitioners across the country once more throughout 2012.”

Nurseries and pre-schools can apply for the free Help Dora Help Activity Pack and Award Fund at

Friday, 23 March 2012

Dinosaur Train

We don't have Sky TV, so we seem to miss out on a lot of children's programmes. So I was delighted when we were asked to review a new show on Nick Jr, called Dinosaur Train.

The blurb:
Dinosaur Train is produced by the Jim Henson company. It's a cartoon about a whimsically realistic, prehistoric world of jungles, swamps, active volcanoes and oceans. The show stars Buddy, a curious, funny and intelligent T-Rex, in a family of Pteranodons.

In each episode, while on the Dinosaur Train, Buddy makes a hypothesis and begins searching for the answers to his queries with the help of his mum, the Conductor and the new dinosaurs that he meets on the train.

Dinosaur Train will help children ages three to six to apply scientific thinking as they discover new types of dinosaur species, compare and contrast dinosaurs to today's creatures and embrace the living sciences of paleontology and natural science.

Each 22 minute show features two animated episodes. Based on input from paleontologists, science teachers and early childhood education experts, Dinosaur Train promotes critical thinking skills for preschoolers based on an engaging and creative curriculum.

Our verdict:
Presley, 4, and Cash, 3, absolutely love Dinosaur Train. They are glued to the screen and have watched the episodes on the DVD we were sent over and over again. The science bit is sticking. They know an awful lot about a couple of dinosaurs now. They are also engaging in imaginative play and using role play to pretend to be dinosaurs on their own train.

Dinosaur Train is currently on the Nick Jr channel every afternoon.

Disclosure: We were sent a promotional DVD, a Nick Jr goody bag and some Easter chocolate courtesy of Nick Jr. I have already hidden the chocolate!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Not on the High Street

I was asked whether I would like to review the online gift shop Not on the High Street is a collection of smaller shops under one banner. You order via the main website and each individual shop then fulfills your order.

There are gorgeous gifts galore. I spent a very happy couple of hours looking at beautiful things. The search options and categories make finding what you are looking for very easy. Whether you (or the person you are buying for) are into gardening or baking or accessories you will find hundreds of lovely ideas here to suit all budgets.

It was almost impossible to narrow down my choices. I loved the LEGO cutlery and the oil cloth table cloths, but in the end I ordered this fabulous regency cake stand by Lavender Room (£29.99 plus P&P).

It arrived very well packaged and was simple to put together. It is so pretty and I can't wait to invite someone round for afternoon tea.

I also chose this stunning beaded glass ring set by The Ruby Lounge (£25).

My rings arrived very quickly and were beautifully packaged. I love them!

LEGO DUPLO Creative Sorter Set 6784

We were delighted to be asked to be LEGO DUPLO ambassadors again this year. As ambassadors we are sent items for review. As always the boys love new LEGO DUPLO sets. We particularly love the way any new set you get fits with your existing LEGO and LEGO DUPLO.

The Creative Sorter 6784 set (£17.99) is a storage tub with enough standard and shaped bricks to make a bird, a giraffe and an elephant. There are also sorting plates for each animal that double as lids.

My children, aged 4 and 3, both loved finding the correct bricks and placing them in the sorting plate before making the animals. They both did this without assistance.

They then used their imagination and construction skills to build trees for the animals to eat, from their LEGO DUPLO stash. They then played beautifully with their creations. They made up stories and did a little role-play based on Tinga Tinga Tales from CBeebies.

As usual this is a quality toy and this lovely set and would make a great gift.

Josef Seibel

When I was asked if I would like to try a pair of Josef Seibel shoes I thought the name rang a bell. I was sure I'd seen them advertised in the Sunday supplements. I suppose I had the impression that these shoes were for the more mature customer.

I had a look at the website and saw that Josef Seibel sell shoes and accessories for men and women. I have to admit I found some of the women's styles a little 'grannified', but there were plenty of fashionable styles in some lovely colours as well as classics mules and sandals. I chose these blue shoes, called Faith.

I have been wearing these shoes for several weeks now, almost continuously. They are so unbelievably comfortable that you hardly know you're wearing shoes. I have walked miles and miles in these shoes. They look great and I love wearing them.

I just can't see the point in putting up with uncomfortable shoes when these are available. They are cushioned and fit beautifully. Yes, they cost a little more than, say Clarks, but it's worth it to feel like you're walking on air.

The press release that arrived with the shoes highlights the benefits of comfortable shoes for mums-to-be and  I would have to agree. With all the changes in your body during pregnancy I can see the advantage in wearing comfy shoes.

I'm a convert!

The shoes I tried are available from Josef Seibel and retail at £65.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Skeanie Shoes

Skeanie are an Australian brand of young children's shoes. They are hand-crafted from soft leather, with a flexible rubber soul, and designed to nuture little feet. Skeanie have now launched in the UK and we were sent some Sneakies to review.

I was a little skeptical about putting my three year old, Cash, in soft-soled shoes. Little boys can be pretty careless when they're running around, but I was pleasantly surprised how robust these gorgeous shoes are. They look funky, the navy shoes go particularly well with jeans, and they are surprisingly practical too. After running around in the mud I was able to easily clean Cash's shoes and the white bits have stayed white.

We used their brilliant size guide to measure Cash's feet and were happy with the fit when our shoes arrived. They are adjustable and are elasticated at the heel for a better fit. Cash wears his Sneakies in the house he loves them so much. They are good quality shoes and you know that his feet are being looked after.

The only drawback... they don't come in adult sizes!

The Sneakies we tried are available from for £39.99.

Justin Fletcher 'Hands Up...The Album'

Who doesn't love Justin Fletcher? Well, there was that one incident when my three year old burst into tears when he first saw Justin's House... but that just was a blip. My boys love Justin's House now. They also love Mr Tumble on Something Special. Justin is Mr CBeebies and he has an album out next week.

The title track, 'Hands Up' is a catchy piece of disco and brilliant to dance to. The other tracks are mostly jazzed up versions of children's classics. We all enjoyed doing the actions to 'Heads, shoulders, knees and toes', 'Nellie the Elephant', 'The Music Man' and 'The Hokey Cokey', before chilling out with lovely versions of 'Frere Jacques' and 'The Sailor's Lament'. I loved 'Justin's Lullaby' too.

This CD gets the thumbs up from us. It gives mum a workout and the little ones can burn off some energy too.

Hands Up is released on 5th March 2012 and is available on Amazon to pre-order for £8.99.

You can also follow Justin on Twitter and Facebook.