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The toddler changing bag you can’t do without: REVIEW

ParentingReviews / Nov 30, 2017 / 0 Comments
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One of the first purchases that I made before Bells was born was my changing bag. I know it’s ridiculous but so much gets bought for the baby, it’s the only thing that you can really claim as your own (even though it’s 100% for their benefit). I was determined that I didn’t want a mumsy bag, I wanted something cool, something that I’d want to be seen with… and so I purchased my Jem & Bea bag.

Fast forward 18 months down the line and I’ve loved my bag, I’ve used it to death. It’s been put through it’s paces and it still lives to tell the tale (and look gorgeous at the same time!). However, the needs of a toddler are different from that of a baby and as Bells becomes more independent, I’m finding myself heading out more and more without the pram (I do realise this is all about to change with baby no. 2).

For months now, I’ve been struggling on with a backpack that I bought from Topshop, determined that I wanted something cool…. and yet if the truth be known, it’s just not functional. Everything gets bundled in together and as a girl who likes organisation, well, that’s a bit of a problem for me. As if they’d read my mind (more like they’d seen me scrabbling to the bottom of my bag as they patiently waited in Starbucks to buy a latte), I was contacted by the founder of Idaho Jones.

Having checked out their Gallivant Baby Changing Diaper Backpack, I knew that it was something that I had to give a try and what’s more, it looked stylish too. However, I had my reservations, you never quite know how these things will look in real life. However, I needn’t have worried, as I opened the beautiful black dust bag in which it arrived, I could tell that it was great quality.

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As a form AND function kind of girl, it ticked all of the boxes, with plenty of separate compartments to keep everything in its place. It contains an insulated bottle pocket, three elasticated pockets, a padded sleeve for a laptop or changing bag, various side pockets, a phone pocket, front parent pocket, matching changing pad and velcro stroller straps. What’s more, it’s made of a wipeable material meaning that Bells can do her worst and it’ll still look good.

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Idaho Jones Gallivant Bag

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From the day it arrived, I transferred all of my essentials (read: Calpol), saying goodbye to the crumbs and dummy covers at the bottom of my good old Topshop bag and haven’t been anywhere without it since. As I love the bag so much, I spoke to the Idaho Jones team and have managed to secure you guys a 15% discount using this link and the code PEONIES. The backpack retails at £75.00, which is much cheaper than some of it’s designer counterparts and there’s also a breastpump bag if that’s your thang! It’s well worth checking out.

I’d love to know what you think! Do you still use a changing bag? What’s your method of transporting a dozen games, eating utensils, nappies and spare outfits?

M xox

 

NB: Please note I’ve been offered a small amount for each bag sold and so if you like it and want to try it, I’d really appreciate it if you could purchase the bag using the links above rather than purchasing directly. I should add that I’d only initially said that I was going to post a picture of the bag to Instagram but I genuinely love it that much that I decided to dedicate a whole post, so whilst money is nice (hello bills!), helping you guys discover cool new things is WAY more important. I hope you like it too!

NNB: All of the photos taken above have been done after using the bag for a good month (in case you think they’re not immaculate). I wanted to put the bag through it’s paces before I recommended it to anyone!

Bedruthan Hotel & Spa; Designed for kids, enjoyed by adults: REVIEW

Travel / Nov 29, 2017 / 0 Comments
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Growing up as a little girl in Bristol, many of my summers were spent in Cornwall. Cornish ice-creams on the beach, fish & chips stolen by naughty seagulls and sunsets that needed no filters, it’s a place that will always hold a special place in my heart.

Therefore, when I was contacted by the lovely team at Bedruthan Hotel & Spa inviting me to experience their Time Out Toddler Break Package as an opportunity to recharge our batteries before the Christmas season, I didn’t need to be asked twice.

LOCATION

The hotel is situated on a clifftop overlooking Mawgan Pawth bay on the North coast of Cornwall. Nestled between Padstow and Newquay, there’s plenty on offer in the local towns not to mention the famous Bedruthan Steps.

THE VIBE

Being situated on the Cornish coast, it goes without saying that the hotel has a laid back atmosphere but it manages to combine this beautifully with plenty of vibrant art and Scandi influenced interiors to keep it feeling young. Add some incredible views into the mix and you’ve pretty much summed up this little pocket of paradise.

There’s a definite air of bustle to the hotel too. We visited the weekend that they had their Christmas Fair and so it was busier than usual, but with so many young families and minis running around, you can tell that there’s always a nice buzz about the place. It was amazing to let Bells run around the corridors and communal areas without feeling like all eyes were upon us, she was in good company.

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THE ROOM

We were given one of their Villas which opened up directly onto the hotel’s grounds with patio doors offering uninterrupted views of Mawgan Porth. The Villa consisted of two bedrooms, one containing a double bed (the adult space) and another for the kids. It easily housed a single bed and a bunk bed as well as a cot for Bells and still had plenty of room to spare (Bells can testify to this as she excitedly ran around flapping her arms like a seagull, much to Dickie’s horror). Each of the bedrooms had an en-suite, the master contained a shower over the bath (a god send with Bells) whilst the kids bedroom had a shower.

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The children’s room had plenty of independent lighting throughout the room located above each of the beds meaning that they can control their own lighting if they’re old enough and if they’re little like Bells, there’s an awesome night light which radiates a lovely reassuring glow. It’s the first hotel I’ve stayed in where we haven’t had to leave a bathroom light on for her. Needless to say, it was much easier to settle her when she woke in the night.

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DINING

The hotel benefits from two restaurants and also offers an extensive in-room dining menu. The Wild Café is the main restaurant for most meals and plays host to the Children’s Supper Club, all of which is included within the Toddler Time Out Package (with the exception of lunch).

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The Children’s Supper Club takes place between 4.30pm-6.00pm and offers a children’s cooked menu as well as a hot & cold buffet, crudités & dips, yogurts, fruit salads, juices and milk. I’ve never seen Bells enjoy a meal so much as she happily munched away on the food staring at the other children (you’ve got to love it when they copy a good eater!).

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The Herring on the other hand is a much more civilised affair and you’ll be treated to an upgrade here for one night as part of the package. It’s a quiet and intimate dining affair with lots of local fresh produce on the menu and so we chose to have our date night here having put Bells to bed on the second night. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten as much and it was truly scrumptious, a real treat.

FOR THE KIDS

Where do I begin? I’ve genuinely never stayed in a hotel designed for kids that adults can enjoy too and this is the only way that I can describe Bedruthan Hotel & Spa. Family fun is at the heart of the hotel and they go out of their way to ensure the littles have fun meaning the grown ups can truly relax.

We stumbled upon Jungle Tumble which is quite possibly one of the best soft plays that I’ve ever been in, let alone it being within a hotel. Bells was in her element and so were we when we discovered they had plenty of comfy seating for the adults and allowed you to bring drinks in from the bar next door. WINNING.

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There are lots of activity clubs to keep your monkeys occupied, regardless of their age. The package includes 4 hours of free childcare for each day that you stay and so we made the most of the Baby Bees Club. I wasn’t sure how Bells would take to it but with a ratio of 1 carer to 3 babies (as recommended by OFSTED), I knew she was in good hands. As soon as she walked into the room and laid eyes on all of the toys that they had for her to play with, she quickly turned, blew a kiss and waved goodbye. I guess she didn’t need us after all.

Overwhelmed by all of the excitement, we found her asleep in a cot when we went to collect her and having finished her nap… she was off again… With the weather dry, we headed outside to discover assault courses (much to Dickie’s delight), the playground with pirate ship (oooooh argh!), trampoline and pools. It’s fair to say she slept well that night.

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FOR THE ADULTS

With a busy work schedule, finding time for a date night has been near impossible and so without realising, we’d gone a whole 7 months without any decent quality time together. We’d been told about the hotels in-room baby listening service and were a bit nervous about leaving Bells alone in the room. However, having got chatting to some of the other parents, our minds were put at ease.

The listening service, once activated, notifies a dedicated member of staff as soon as anything more than a murmur is detected. They listen in to ensure your little person is OK and if they hear any kind of crying, they notify you by messaging the pager that you are supplied with. What’s more, the service is connected to an alarm system so that you know your Mini is safe.

On our second evening at the hotel, we took Bells for an early dinner at the Children’s Supper Club before settling her to bed. We crept out of the room feeling all very naughty and made our way to The Herring restaurant where we enjoyed some uninterrupted time together over delicious food and wine (or diet coke in my case!). Whilst we spoke about her most of the night, it felt so special to have some time to ourselves knowing that she was safe and only moments from where we were sitting if required.

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LEAVE THE KITCHEN SINK

If you’re anything like us, there’s no such thing as packing lightly, especially with a toddler in tow. Thankfully, there was no need to pack the kitchen sink as the hotel provided everything. From baby backpacks, all-terrain pushchairs, sterilisers, cots, baby & toddler highchairs, not to mention bibs, toddler cutlery and table wear, there’s not a detail they hadn’t thought of making packing somewhat easier.

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If required, the hotel offers washing machines and tumble driers which is great if your little one throws them into enjoying the outdoors park as much as Bells did… MUD EVERYHERE.

SENSORY SPA GARDEN

If you decide to make the most of the free childcare (uh hello!!!), included in the Toddler Time Out Package is an hour’s experience in the Sensory Spa Garden which is inspired by fire, earth, water, air and space. Indulge in thermal therapy fun with the garden’s heated stone room, open-air shower, barrel sauna, bucket shower, hot tub and scrub to really awaken the senses. Sadly, I didn’t get a chance to try it this time around thanks to the little person that I’m baking, but I’ll be sure to give it a whirl the next time we’re back…. because as the Terminator says, we will be back.

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THE PEOPLE

This is a bit of an odd one and not something that I would usually include in a post about a hotel. However, the people at Bedruthan Hotel & Spa are so special, it just seemed wrong not to give them a special mention. Whilst the hotel has amazing facilities, it’s really the people that set it apart.

On our first day there, spotting Bells running the corridor and on the verge of a meltdown (I thought they started at 2, what a fool!), one of the team decided to scoop her up and to start to radio her colleagues using her walkie talkie. She was explaining to Bells that there was a little person in her walkie talkie and Bells was transfixed. It was such a simple thing, but is a prime example of how the team at the hotel go out of their way to make you feel comfortable.

Not only that, but all of the parents are so relaxed because the kids are happy, they’re also super friendly. I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to so many lovely people in such a short space of time.

THE SEASON

 

If you’d asked me what time of year I’d visit Cornwall previously, I obviously would have told you summer. However, having visited out of season, it was really lovely to enjoy a much more relaxed pace, less crowds and to chill without the guilt that we should be out and doing stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that it would be wonderful to explore the amazing beaches near by if the weather was nicer but there was something really lovely about watching the harsh weather beat against the coast as we snuggled in the warmth. Apparently the summer months are incredibly busy and so I think I’d try and book out of season when we next visit as we really enjoyed it.

SUMMARY

I found myself quite emotional (yet again!) as we were leaving, I really could have stayed longer. It struck home that we’d created some lovely memories that weekend and it will definitely become a place that Bells becomes familiar with as she grows older. We’re already planning our next trip, next time with baby in tow as there will be plenty to amuse Bells but also plenty of ways for us to relax with a newbie. Bedruthan has become our very own little sanctuary and I can’t wait to create more memories there.

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The Toddler Time Out Package starts from £825 on a dinner, bed and breakfast basis for 3 nights. As mentioned above, there’s a whole raft of other stuff thrown into the package too so be sure to check out more details here.

Thanks to the Bedruthan team for taking such good care of us, we’re beyond grateful for the memories you helped us to create.

M xox

NB: Please note that we were given a complementary stay at Bedruthan Hotel & Spa. However, all of the views above are completely my own and I wouldn’t write about it unless I really loved it… but they gave us our first date in 7 months. That makes them pretty awesome, right?

P.S. Check out how cute their Christmas Fair was!

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Newbie launches its first store in the UK!

FashionParenting / Nov 22, 2017 / 0 Comments
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Last Friday, I had the pleasure of taking a trip to Richmond to check out the launch of Newbie‘s very first store in the UK. I’ve been a massive fan of the brand for quite some time now, as my Instagram search history will tell you. I’ve got a feeling my bank balance will soon reflect this obsession too (sorry Dickie!).

For those of you who have not yet discovered the Scandi delight which is Newbie, let me fill you in. They launched originally in 2010 as part of the childrenswear section of Scandinavia’s largest fashion retailer KappAhl. Quickly amassing an army of “Newbie Lovers”, they went on to relaunch as a standalone brand in Stockholm in 2014 and there’s been no looking back since then.

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What’s the appeal you ask? Newbie prides itself on gorgeously put together pieces, classic in design with a modern twist… think whimsical florals for the girls and cheeky chap designs for the boys all tied together with traditional colour pallets. What’s more, they’re a brand who are environmentally aware, meaning that all of their products are made from 100% sustainable, organic and recycled materials.

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To say that the store was buzzing is an understatement, I had to grab Bells out of her pram as there was not a single space to spare. There were lots of treats on offer from pastries to coffee and a free-embroidery service for anything you purchased that day. Cute! Sadly Bells was teething as her patience and temper lay testament to and so I couldn’t stay as long as I would have liked!

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However, I revelled in the opportunity to buy for a little baby again, telling myself that I really couldn’t just let baby number 2 just have hand-me downs. I should add though, that it’s because I buy from brands like Newbie that I’m able to do just that as they stand the test of time, washing well and never going “off trend”.

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The store launched with Newbie‘s AW17 collection. The girls collection is inspired by English wallpaper  with plenty of botanical prints, lace, romantic frills and bunnies (I love a small woodland animal as most of you will know). The boys collection features  man’s best friend, the dog. Think sweaters, dungarees and classic jackets featuring an adorable dog motif in classic burgandy, navy and forest green.

If you’re passing, it’s definitely worth paying a visit…. just be warned, you will love EVERYTHING. Fear not, if you’re not local, or internet shopping is your thing, there’s also now an e-commerce site online at www.newbiestore.com.

I should add that I’m not being incentivised in any way to write this post on behalf of Newbie, I just really love the brand and believe in sharing something awesome when you find it. So why not check them out?

M xox

p.s. I’m sorry that I don’t have any photography of my own of the store, I was too busy balancing stuff I wanted to buy, bags and a toddler who was back arching! My bad!

Feeding the ducks with a toddler & husband who’s afraid of birds!

ParentingWindsor / Nov 16, 2017 / 0 Comments
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Having purchased a membership to Savill Gardens a few months ago, it’s become one of our favourite spots for spending a few hours on an afternoon. With perfectly preened gardens and lots of grass, it’s the perfect environment for Bells to let loose and to burn off some of that energy I so wish that I had. Oh, and there’s a pond…. A huge big pond with ducks, ducks that Bells loves to feed.

This week, Dickie joined us for one of our Savill Garden expeditions. We went armed with croissants and leftover pizza crusts (we had to make do with all that we could from lunch given we’d forgotten to arm ourselves before leaving the house) to feed the ducks so that Bells could excitedly shout ‘wak wak wak’, the closest to quacking that we’ve managed to get.

Now I should add at this point that Dickie has an irrational fear of birds… which I’m sure is pretty unfortunate when you fly for a living. When I say fear, he doesn’t just dislike them, he hates them. His disdain for birds is as great as his love for McDonalds, which is not to be underestimated. You can imagine his dismay when one time he was waiting for food in the waiting bay at McDonalds Drive-Thru and the guy came over to hand him his burger just as a pigeon landed on his wing mirror. Before I knew what was happening, the window was being buzzed up and down as Dickie battled to decide whether he really wanted the burger THAT much. That was a huge day.

So, back to feeding the ducks. It turns out that the fear isn’t just reserved for birds with pointy beaks… it extends to pretty little ducks also. Don’t even.

I hadn’t considered the issues that feeding the ducks with Dickie in tow might cause. We arrived at Savill Gardens and Bells rushed to the pond. As she stood there ‘wak wak wak’ing, she couldn’t wait to get her hands on our improvised duck feed. I noticed that Dickie was quieter than usual but thought that he was enjoying watching Bells in her element. Fast forward 10 minutes, some very short arms and an even shorter throw span and we pretty much had ducks (and birds) standing on our toes.

At this point, Dickie’s grip on Bells hood definitely tightened somewhat and whilst in no danger whatsoever, he’d started to guide her backwards. Realising what was happening, I couldn’t help but melt into fits of laughter… probably not the support that he needed. So my word of advice to all of you Mama’s out there… if your husband is afraid of birds, feeding the ducks probably isn’t the best way to spend an afternoon. Lesson learned.

An introduction to our family…

ParentingPersonal / Nov 13, 2017 / 0 Comments
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Dearest Second Child,

Quite frankly, it amazes me that I’m writing this note given that I never thought that I’d have children. I didn’t really like them you see. Then your sister came along and it turns out the cliche is true; kids aren’t as bad when they’re your own and Bells is pretty awesome as you’ll soon find out.

I guess I should give you a bit of an intro to us. I’m Mel, your mummy. I’m 30-something, sadly much more something that 30 nowadays. I used to be a bit of a shopaholic with a penchant for red soles…. now the only soles I seem to buy are those from Clarks every SIX weeks for your sister. I’m not resentful about that at all.

I never sit still and never seem to stop, constantly juggling a thousand balls (often soft play ones that I find under the sofa!). Every morning I promise myself an early night and every night I find myself aimlessly scrolling through Instagram. Instagram is a photo sharing website but it’ll be so uncool by the time you read this that I won’t bother to explain any more.

I love being a mummy. You might not always believe me when you hear me muttering ‘dick’ under my breath as your sister tosses her dinner on the floor for the 5th night in a row, but trust me when it comes to bed, I always cuddle her for a little longer than I need to. I wish that I could stop time, to keep you both little forever, for you to fling your mucky hands around my neck and plant a sloppy kiss upon me. I just wish that she’d keep her food on the table.

Then there’s daddy, or Dix as I fondly refer to him (please don’t let that be your first word). He’s awesome. He’ll make you laugh harder than you can imagine, especially if the Tickle Monster makes an appearance. This is likely to leave you with a beard rash but mummy is unlikely to rush you to A&E as your sister has played guinea pig to that previously.

Daddy is a Pilot, or a Training Captain (TRE as he tells me every god damn day) to be precise. It means that he works weird hours but when he is home other people are often at work which makes it awesome for queue jumping at Peppa Pig World.

Daddy believes that he knows what it’s like to give birth to you as he ran a marathon. Once. Quite a few years ago. It still proves to be a bone of contention. Moving on…

Bells is your awesome older sister. She’s cheeky, strong minded, fiercely independent and has a very naughty laugh. She’s yet to cry when she falls over and mummy is a bit worried that this part of her brain is missing. Her favourite TV shows are Mr Bean, Ben & Holly and Oddbods, no doubt she’ll introduce you to these soon. Ideally not when she’s woken the whole house at 5am and it’s the only way we can hope for a few extra winks.

Her favourite words are ‘Toto’ when she spots any animal (our annoying cat is called Tonto), ‘See Ya’ when she’s bored of hanging out with you and ‘Baba’ just to remind us that she too is also a baby. 6pm is Bells favourite time, right before bath. Regardless of what mood she’s been in all day, when she’s running around in her nappy, she’s never been happier. If you can’t find her, she’ll most likely be hiding behind the curtains in our room, please act surprised, even though she does it every night.

And so that’s us in a nutshell. It’s a pretty crazy family, but it’s so much fun. Our house is filled with love, so much love… and plenty of laughter too. Hugs are available on tap and Team Kentish are a force to be reckoned with. We’re very much looking forward to meeting you, now please be kind to Mummy…

xox