Tuesday, 22 May 2018

In the Night Garden Stacking Blocks - Review

We are big fans of CBeebies and it was inevitable that Erin would follow in this fashion too. Currently one of her favourites is In The Night Garden which I think is perfect for her age group (16 months). She's too young to know what's going on - and to be honest, none of us know what's going on there so it's perfect! She loves all the bright colours and the characters - she will sit through an episode clapping her hands and giggling to herself.

We were recently sent a set of gorgeous In the Night Garden stacking blocks from Hacche. When they arrived Erin couldn't wait to get them open and start playing!


Suitable from 12 months +, the five stacking blocks are made of sturdy cardboard and are lovely and colourful. Featuring bright and eye catching images of numbers and letters, the blocks are a fab introduction to counting and colours. One of the sides features the famous characters from the show and if you line the blocks up carefully they will create a larger image.



Erin really enjoyed playing with these - her favourite thing is to let someone stack them up for her, and then she takes great pleasure in knocking them down! The blocks also fit nicely inside each other so she spends a great deal of time putting them in and taking them out again.


Elliot has also had lots of fun with these - although sometimes he can't get them built up quick enough with demolition Erin around!


The only negative thing I'd say about the blocks is that they are made of cardboard and not plastic. Although the cardboard is nice and sturdy, Erin has had a chew on some of the corners and they are starting to look a little ragged. At this age, everything goes in the mouth so it would have been easier to have them made from something a)wipe clean and b)not chewable!

Aside from the material, I love the colours and patterns on these and they would make a lovely gift for a toddler. We have had ours a few weeks now and Erin has had lots of play out of them. I'm sure they will continue to be a favourite!

*Disclaimer: We received this product in exchange for an honest review. All views are my own

Thursday, 3 May 2018

The Importance of Learning to Swim

When I was at middle school, we were really lucky to have a swimming pool and so we had weekly lessons. Everyone could pretty much swim, some better than others but we all had that skill from an early age. At the time the lessons felt like a bit of a chore, especially as our swimming teacher was a bit of a dragon! But looking back now I'm so pleased we were given the chance to learn.

When Elliot was born I signed him up to swimming lessons with Turtle Tots who do brilliant baby swimming classes. I remember his first lesson and he looked so cute in his little neoprene nappy!



We swam with Turtle Tots until Elliot was around 3 years old and then switched to a different lesson at our local sports centre. He was put in a class with children a couple of years older than him (I think by accident, I think they thought he was older than he was as he was really big!). This did him the world of good and his swimming came on in leaps and bounds as he was constantly swimming at an older level. He might have been the youngest but he certainly kept up!

It was at this point that we had a holiday in Florida. We stayed in a villa which had a private pool and Elliot swam every day at every opportunity! It was great for him to be able to jump in as many times as he liked and we saw a massive difference just after these two weeks. He loved it - even if the water was so cold at first!


I think that having swimming lessons from an early age really helped his confidence in the water. Obviously the skills are vital but the confidence is just as important. Even when Elliot was a toddler he had no fear in the water and very confident - something that was commented on alot when we were on holiday in Cyprus and Elliot was hurtling down the water slides!!



Erin seems to be taking after her brother and has morphed into a bit of a water baby! Just like Elliot, she began swimming with Turtle Tots when she was around 3 months old and absolutely loves her lessons. She has recently started jumping in from the side and she loves doing this!


Erin Elliot underwater swim
I LOVE the underwater shoot we did with Turtle Tots Dorset! 
Elliot wears goggles in his swimming lessons now as a lot of the time is spent swimming under water. He wasn't a fan of goggles at first but we've recently found the perfect pair, what 5 year wouldn't want a Superman pair?! The Simply Swim website features a whole host of goggles, from childrens, beginners and right through to those serious about swimming. I have my eye on the Vorgee goggles - the rainbow mirror ones are very cool!

loves the goggles...not so keen on the hat!
Here in Dorset we live a few miles from the beach so dips in the sea make up a big part of our Summer. We usually just paddle (it's never quite warm enough to swim!) but I know that should he ever get in trouble in the water he has the skills and the confidence to get himself out of trouble.



We have a couple of holidays booked for this year and I know that the swimming pool will be the number one draw for the children!

Do your children do swimming lessons? What age did they start?


*Disclaimer - this is a sponsored post

Thursday, 19 April 2018

DEAR ZOO LIVE - LIGHTHOUSE POOLE

There aren't many children's books that are still as popular today as they were back in the day. But Dear Zoo is one of those classics that everyone has read! First released in 1982, this book has been a massive hit with children over the years and has sold more than 8 million copies worldwide.

Dear Zoo has now been transformed into a colourful stage show and we were lucky enough to see it when it came to the Lighthouse, Poole.


If you're not familiar with the book, it tells the story of Ben (played by Harrison Spiers in the show) who writes to the zoo requesting a pet. Lots of animals are sent..but not all of them are suitable! It is such a simple book and perfect for little ones and I was quite intrigued to see how it would work on the stage.

As we entered the theatre, the stage was set out as a brightly covered garden. With a brief introduction from Sam the Zookeeper (Aaron Spendelow), we were introduced to Ben and his friend Sally (Molly Waters). Bounding around with the stage with lots of enthusiasm, they were engaging and very believable as their characters!


Soon, the zoo animals started arriving with Sam the Zookeeper. Following the illustrations in the book, the props/animal crates were all immediately recognisable and the children were very keen to see what was inside. With some animal songs and lots of audience interaction, the children in the audience were entralled.

Most of the animals were puppets but the naughty monkey and the frog were hopping around the stage causing mayhem!


If you know the story then you'll know that eventually, Sam brings an animal which is a bit more suitable but I won't give away too much ;)

This is a lovely stage show and perfect for an introduction to theatre for children. The recommended age range is 2-6 but I think younger audiences would enjoy it too, Erin certainly did and she's only 15 months old. The show is 50 minutes long which is just the right length of time to hold their attention. It helps that audience participation is encouraged so you don't feel so bad if your child gets a bit fidgety!

The Dear Zoo Live show is currently touring the UK, for more information on dates and how to book tickets, take a look at their website http://www.dearzooandfriends.com/dear-zoo-live



*Disclaimer - We were provided these tickets in exchange for an honest review but I think the big smile in the photo above says alot about how much he enjoyed it! :)

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

ANDY & THE ODD SOCKS ON TOUR! (EASTER 2018)

If you hadn't already guessed, we are pretty big fans of Andy and The Odd Socks! Elliot's been a fan of Andy since he was very young (he's always been really into dinosaurs) and it was a natural progression to become fans of his band too.

Andy and The Odd Socks sing funny, catchy songs and have been entertaining families up and down the country over the past few week weeks as they embarked on their biggest tour yet!


We were lucky enough to catch them at their Bristol show last week and we had a fab time as always. Being super organised we arrived very very early for the show and although it meant a bit of waiting around, it did mean we were one of the first ones in and able to nab the coveted front row seats woohoo!

clutching two of his faves - his sister and a sausage roll ;)
The show itself was brilliant as usual - high energy, lots of audience participation and lots of dancing from the kids (and parents!) in the crowd. The Dinosaur Football Legend Megamatch song even had a t-rex which came bouncing up the aisle along with the giant football that narrowly avoided my head haha!



Ninja Pig required some help from the audience and a willing Dad came on stage to be dressed up - to be fair he did very well keeping in time with the dancing!

The highlight for Elliot was Ghostbusters. He's always loved that song and even more so now it's been covered by Andy - this version is just so catchy and loved the bands Ghostbuster costumes!


Cousin Mac was a new addition to the band and he seamlessly took over keyboard and vocals - we're not sure where Random Keith has gone, Elliot said "perhaps he's poorly?" :)


Rapping robots
It was lovely to hear Unique again, such a great song with such an important message - and so blimmin' catchy too, my sister had it stuck in her head for days after the show!



We were lucky enough to have meet and greet tickets (along with most the audience judging by the size of the queue!) and Elliot got one of his pictures signed by the band which we are going to frame for his wall. He loved it that the band recognised him again too! Erin wasn't quite so keen on posing for a photo - this is the exact face she pulled when she met Father Christmas!!


Andy and The Odd Socks are playing a ton of gigs this year including Shepherds Bush London, Ipswich, all the Butlins locations and a whole host of festivals.  For more info and  tour dates, check out their website: http://www.andyandtheoddsocks.com/

We loved our day out in Bristol and can't wait for our next Odd Socks show! 



Monday, 9 April 2018

WHAT WE'VE BEEN UP TO OVER EASTER

I thought I'd do a little catch up post and talk about what we've been up to recently. It's been a busy week - whenever Elliot is on school holidays we always cram so much in because I feel like I need to make the most of it!

Easter weekend was a bit of a drizzly and cold one but we visited the Sea Life Centre at Weymouth on Good Friday which was fun. Although the weather meant we couldn't play in the amazing playground which Elliot was a bit gutted about!


We didn't have much planned on Easter Sunday but made a last minute decision to go along to a Moo Music messy play event that was being held locally. The kids had a great time getting messy, Erin's favourite play station featured chocolate cake and cornflakes and she pretty much didn't move from there!


We popped into my parent's house in the afternoon for the annual Easter Egg hunt. It's become a bit of a tradition since Elliot was little and I've told my Dad he'll still be doing it when the kids are in their teens!

check out Erin's very cute easter dress!
We had a bit of a double whammy with Elliot's fave Andy Day this week. Not only did we see him do some dino raps down in Dorchester but we also had a day out in Bristol to see him and his band The Odd Socks. Erin came along to this one too and it was so cute watching her clapping and dancing. She's definitely a fan! We just love this band, the songs are so fun and they are always so friendly.


We dodged the showers and headed out for some fresh air this week and ended up at the same place both times! Kingston Lacy is a stunning National Trust property with beautiful grounds that we return to again and again. We met with friends, did an easter hunt, waded through muddy puddles, had a picnic, climbed trees, found painted rocks...we had lots of fun.

Pretending they were in a band! 
The kids have had some new toys this week which have gone down well. Elliot is really into cuddly toys and he was sent some Flintstones Itty Bittys which he loves! He's never seen the Flintstones so we immediately had to watch the film - the toys are now taking pride of place in his bed :)


The weekend ended with an impromptu visit to Bournemouth Gardens to hunt for rocks. We're getting a bit addicted to this new hobby - we love painting them and hiding them but we love finding them too! Our local rock page on Facebook organised a big rock drop yesterday in Bournemouth so we woke up and decided to go down. The weather was terrible and we got drenched but we found loads of rocks and even managed to squeeze in an ice cream!


We have a few things planned for the week ahead but it all depends on what the weather decides to do. I'm sure we'll be out and about hiding rocks at some point!

What have been your Easter Holiday highlights? 

Mummascribbles

Thursday, 5 April 2018

GOING ON A SHARK MISSION WITH THE OCTONAUTS AT WEYMOUTH SEA LIFE


This Easter, visitors to Weymouth Sea Life will be able to take part in an exciting all new, deep sea adventure featuring the Octonauts. Young explorers can join Captain Barnacles, Peso, Dashi, Shellington, Professor Inkling, Tweak, Kwazi and Tunip and go on a thrilling quest to uncover the secrets of the ocean's most jaw dropping predators.

Elliot's favourite library book is about sharks so understandably he was quite excited about this and was very keen to visit and go on the Shark Mission himself. He was even more excited when he discovered he was the very first person to do it at Weymouth Sea Life!


There's lots to do in the dedicated Octonauts area - visitors can help the crew solve the mind bending puzzles of the mystery tanks and find out which sharks live to be 400 years old, which sharks can smell a single drop of blood in an Olympic size swimming pool and why some sharks have skin as rough as sandpaper.

You can visit Professor Inkling's colour lab, take a special dive of discovery with Dashi and follow instructions from Captain Barnacles to make a shark puppet.



If you're really lucky you might even get to meet Shellington like we did - he's much taller than he looks on tv ;)


Hidden around the park are special Octonauts clues which feature a letter - jot these down on your mission notes, once you have all the clues you will be able to read the name of a fearsome creature. Young explorers who complete the mission will get a personalised certificate signed by Captain Barnacles plus a Shark Mission pop badge. Elliot loves the pop badges and was thrilled to bits to be given a Rockpool Ranger one by a member of staff!

Spot the clue!
For older kids there is plenty on offer such as sunken cities to explore, looming shipwrecks and mystical underwater caves brimming with weird and wonderful creatures. There is also the fab Caribbean Cove playground which is one of the best outdoor play areas we have visited. (our Shark Mission visit coincided with a very wet day so unfortunately we didn't get to spend much time here much to Elliot's dismay!)


Our Sea Life highlights are the rock pools and the walkthrough tunnel and we always spend lots of time here. Elliot loves touching the starfish and never hesitates to plunge his arm in the water..even though it was freezing on this particular visit! As Erin gets older she is getting more interested in her surroundings on days out and she also enjoyed looking at the starfish in the rockpools.


Octonauts: Shark Mission runs at Weymouth Sea Life from 30th March - 15th April and is included in the usual admission price, with ticket starting from £14.50 per person. The best ticket prices can be found online by prebooking at www. visitsealife.com/weymouth

ANDY'S DINO RAPS - BREWERY SQUARE, DORSET

If you have children of a certain age, they will no doubt be familiar with Andy Day and his dinosaur adventures. It's staple viewing in this house and has been since Elliot was old enough to know what a dinosaur was!! And if you are a regular reader of this blog, you'll know that we are big fans of Andy! 

Brewery Square in Dorchester recently announced that Andy would be coming along on Easter weekend to perform some of his dino raps so of course we knew we had to be there! Elliot was insistent he was to wear his Andy costume so the weeks leading up to the show were mostly spent googling "how to make a gizmo"... 

The day of the show dawned and Elliot and I made our way down to Dorchester on the train. This itself was a bit of a novelty for Elliot as we rarely go anywhere on the train despite living just minutes away from the station! Erin was spending the day with my parents and my husband working, so it was lovely to have the day just with Elliot to spend some quality time together. 


We were quite early arriving into Dorchester so we decided to have a go at the Easter Egg trail - this was a brilliant, free initiative run by Brewery Square. We had to find 20 pictures of Easter eggs that were hidden around the square in shops and restaurants. Most were on the front windows but a few were hidden inside and it took a bit more searching! 

As luck would have it, we bumped into Andy by chance as he arrived to set up the stage - Elliot ran across the square shouting "Andy!!!!!" - I hope Andy wasn't hoping to sneak in without anyone noticing because I'm sure the whole of Dorchester heard Elliot's voice ;)


Midway through our easter egg trail, we noticed that it was starting to get quite busy so we decided to get a spot near the front of the stage while we could and continue looking for eggs after the shows. Turned out to be a good plan because it quickly got very very busy and it seemed to be standing room only in the square! 

It wasn't long before Andy came on stage much to the audience's delight - there were certainly a lot of little excited faces and I'm pretty sure most of the parents knew just as many lyrics as their kids! Elliot was right down the front and it was hilarious watching him dancing and roaring away. 


At one point Andy started talking about the next rap and how it was about a species who were ancestors of early man. Elliot turned round to look at me with a massive grin on his face and he knew exactly what the rap was! He shouted out "Australopithecus!!!" at the top of his voice, hilarious! 


With lots of audience participation, and even some dad dancing, the show was a big hit with the crowd and I guarantee most people left with the Gigantoraptor song stuck in their heads!!  

 
Luckily for the people of Dorchester, Andy was performing twice so we had a bit of time between the two shows to finish off our easter egg trail and grab some lunch. Brewery Square has lots of places to eat including Nandos and Zizzis but it was absolutely packed so we headed up to the high street for some food, and also a chance to warm up. 

Andy's second show seemed even busier than the first and there were definitely more people squeezing in near us at the front. Elliot enjoyed himself immensely again! (And yes, he shouted out Australopethecus....and mumosaurus....and Gigantoraptor....sorry Andy!)


After the show had finished we were lucky enough to be on the meet and greet list (thank you to Charlotte at Brewery Square for arranging this) so we headed across to the Premier Inn to meet our friends and get in line. Elliot had his costume back on, his gizmo was ready and he was clutching an envelope of drawings for Andy! It was a fab meet and greet, we didn't feel rushed at all and the boys spent lots of time chatting to Andy about their pictures. It's funny looking back at the very first time we met Andy in 2014, Elliot was so shy and quiet and literally went mute. And in the photos he looks terrified! It's the complete opposite now, we can't shut him up ;) 


Soon our time was up and we said our goodbyes, Elliot and Luke were buzzing! We rounded off the day with a quick trip to see Dippy again - thought we'd make the most of it while he's still here in Dorset. It was much quieter than our last visit too so we were able to head straight to the special selfie panel to take some photos. 


We had a fantastic day out - thank you Andy and Brewery Square! 
                                                                        
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