Monday 29 August 2016

Cruising the Jurassic Coastline, Dorset with City Cruises

Thousands of tourists flock to Poole every Summer and a boat cruise around the harbour is on many of their to-do lists, especially for those visitors who aren't lucky enough to have the coast on their doorstep!

For locals such as myself, it's easy to take where we live for granted but I really wanted to take a boat trip to show Elliot some of the sights of Dorset that he's only seen from afar. 

There are various different companies who offer boat trips from Poole Quay but I decided to book a Jurassic Coastal Cruise with City Cruises. This is a 2 hour (approx) return trip which costs £10.35 for adults and £5.18 for children (5-16 years) when booked online. 

Ahoy matey!
Despite the scorching sunshine of the day before, it was really muggy and drizzly when we boarded the boat but this didn't bother us - we decided to sit up on the top deck and we had it to ourselves as the other passengers didn't fancy getting wet! 

Enjoying the lovely British weather! 
Our boat departed from Poole Quay and made it's way past the Sunseeker boats being built at the shipyard, past the ferry terminal, and out towards Brownsea Island. Despite the weather, the sea was relatively calm and soon we were heading out of the harbour and past the golden sands of Studland Beach. 

It was such a pity the weather was so miserable as usually you can see for miles all the way across to the Isle of Wight but I struggled to see Bournemouth in the distance! 

We cruised along the coastline taking in the beautiful views of Old Harry Rocks (said to be named after infamous Poole pirate Harry Paye) - these mark the most easterly point of the Jurassic Coastline. Sometimes dolphins can be spotted in these waters but sadly we didn't see any today! 

Our destination was the town of Swanage and we were allowed on shore for half an hour. There is the option of catching a later boat back to Poole if you fancy a longer stay in Swanage but we were quite happy just to just have a quick wander along the pier. The weather took a turn for the worse at this point unfortunately and the heavens opened! Perhaps not the weather for flip flops and no raincoat ;) 

We jumped back onto the boat and ironically as we departed from Swanage, the sun decided to come out! It meant we could sit upstairs on the top deck again and the views across to Poole were stunning and certainly a lot clearer than our earlier journey.  

We had a lovely time on the Jurassic Coastal Cruise despite the weather and would thoroughly recommend it!  

*Disclaimer - City Cruises kindly gave us the tickets for this boat trip in return for an honest review

Sunday 28 August 2016

Pregnancy Update ~ Baby #2 (Weeks 13-17)

Well the Summer Holidays are almost over and I've not had a chance to write as many pregnancy updates as I'd quite like as we've just been so busy! Hence why weeks 13-17 are lumped together.

I've been feeling really well over the last few weeks since my scan, I don't feel queasy at all now which is great! But I've been feeling pretty hungry alot. It's very similar to my last pregnancy where I can't eat a massive meal but I seem to graze more throughout the day! Lots more energy too.

No real cravings but I am drinking ALOT more milk - well specifically, Crusha milkshake mix!! I hear this is quite common but I just fancy milkshake all the time, I've even taken to hiding my Crusha in the cupboard so Elliot doesn't spot it and want to have some ;)

My smell has been a bit funny these past few weeks and everything smells so strong - yuck! I had to empty the bin in the kitchen and there was cat food in there, it's all I could smell and it made me start retching - even when I put the bag in the wheely bin I could still imagine the smell of it which made it worse!! Elliot said "Are you going to be sick Mummy?!"

Elliot has been so excited about the baby and every new person we meet he tells them that Mummy is having a baby! He can't decide if it's a boy or girl, I think he's just excited to have someone to play with. Although he did ask if he would have to share his toys!

I had my 16 week midwife appointment a couple of weeks ago and that was fine. She went through some of my test results and then she had a listen to the heartbeat which was lovely to hear. Took her a while to find it though! The appointment was really quick and we were out within 10 minutes. Probably just as well though as I had Elliot with me and he decided to do a really loud fart as we got into the room - boys!!

I feel like I have a bit of a bump now although being plus size, I probably just look like I've been eating too much!! (Maybe it's the milkshakes!) I'm still wearing my usual clothes although I have bought some new things for my holiday in a bigger size. There isn't a great deal of choice when it comes to plus size maternity wear so I'm reluctant to spend a fortune on clothes I don't really like or I won't really get too much wear out of. Instead I've just sized up and in a few months when it starts to get colder, I'll just be in my trusty leggings and shirts/tops!

My 20 week scan is just a few weeks away and I'm so excited about finding out the gender!


Sunday 21 August 2016

Elliot's Farm to Fork Adventure at Tesco

Back in 2014 Tesco launched the Eat Happy Project and since then they have been encouraging children to learn more about food and where it comes from. 

This week Elliot and some of his friends got the chance to go behind the scenes at their local Tesco and go on one of the Farm to Fork trails that lots of Tesco stores are now offering. 

We met with the lovely Fearne who works as the Community Champion and she gave all the children a Farm to Fork vest and little hat. Unfortunately she made us Mums wear a hat too ;) 

We started the tour by heading into the bakery and the children were shown how the bread was mixed - they all had a good look in the giant mixers! They were able to hold some dough to see what it felt like and they were shown the large ovens where all the bread gets baked. 

They ended the bakery tour by sampling some bread and some freshly made pancakes - cue big smiles all around! 

We moved onto the cheese counter and Fearne produced 4 big plates piled high with cubes of cheese - we had a Red Leicester, Cheddar, Applewood Smoked and a cheddar that had spring onion in it. This proved to be a really popular stop on the tour, especially for the mums! I love cheese but the spring onion one was a new one for me and really yummy, I'm going to have to look out for it next time I do my shopping. 

Say cheeeeese!
Next up was a browse at the fish counter and the highlight for Elliot was seeing a fish with a gigantic wide mouth! ("I can open my mouth that wide too Mummy!")

We were then escorted through the staff only doors to have a look round the warehouse and the kids even got to take a peek into the giant fridge and freezers. They were quick to spot the ice lollies in there! 

Our last stop of the morning was the fruit and veg aisles where Fearne opened a bag of sugar snap peas ("I'm allowed to do this, I work here!) for the kids to try. This seemed to go down quite well even if some of the children preferred to squish the peas instead! 

At the end of the tour the children were all given a goody bag which had some information packs, stickers and fruit in and they had their photo taken with Fearne so she could put it on Facebook. 

Photo credit - Fearne Sheppard @ Tesco
The tour lasted an hour and was really enjoyable, all the children loved having a look round and they loved tasting the samples! I did wonder how suitable the tour would be for 3 year olds and what would be covered, would they find out that their sausages come from Peppa?! Fearne didn't go into too much detail, it was more a tour of the supermarket but I guess with older children they might cover this too. For the 3 year olds it was a great opportunity to see behind the scenes! 

A big thank you to Fearne and to Tesco Fleetsbridge  in Dorset, we had a fab time! :)

For more information on the Farm to Fork trails, visit the Eat Happy Project website

Friday 19 August 2016

Fireman Sam Electronic Pontypandy Fire Station - Review

Fireman Sam has been around since I was a kid in the 80's and is one of those shows that never seems to go out of fashion for children! Although he does look a little different to what he did back in my day....that man hasn't aged a bit! ;)

Elliot has got into Fireman Sam a bit more recently and has been watching him a lot on Youtube. He was chuffed to bits then to have the chance to test out the new Fireman Sam Electronic Pontypandy Fire Station (£39.99) from Character Online. As soon as the box arrived, Elliot couldn't wait to tear into it and start playing!

Fireman Sam's original fire station burnt down in 2005 (I did not know this!) and in his tv series he now has a brand new one. This new toy is a replica of the one on tv currently so your little ones should recognise it!

The fire station comes with several accessories such as Fireman Sam and his colleague Elvis, a test dummy for all important fire drills, fire extinguisher and bucket, a ladder and a pretty cool electronic control desk that says lots of different phrases including my favourite "this is an emergency situation!!".

The fire station has a handle on top which would be really useful for portable play however it doesn't close up completely so you would need to make sure the accessories are safe otherwise they would just fall out! All the doors of the station including the double ones open up which makes play really easy, and they are nice and sturdy for little hands to use!

The station has a turntable, maintenance ramp, working lift and even a fireman's pole for getting down fast! The fireman's pole is a little fiddly and Elliot did struggle with this at first so I had to lend a hand but after a few goes he could do it by himself.

The set is very well made however we were a little disappointed that it didn't come with a fire engine to use with the station. You can buy the Jupiter fire engine separately so it's worth factoring in this additional cost if you were thinking of buying the station. Fortunately Elliot had a selection of fire engines in his toy box already so he used these along with the station and didn't seem too bothered that Fireman Sam didn't have Jupiter to ride in!

This is Elliot's "Smile for the camera!" face ;)
Overall I think this is a great play set but I do think the price is a little steep for what you actually get. I would consider paying around £20 for a similar set however you are paying for the Fireman Sam brand. Saying that though, Elliot absolutely loves playing with this and it has kept him amused for several afternoons this week!

Disclaimer: We received the product for the purpose of the honest review. All views are my own

Tuesday 16 August 2016

Scooby-Doo Live! Musical Mysteries at the London Palladium - August 2016

Something spooky is coming to London this month as Scooby-Doo and the gang bring their musical mysteries to the world famous London Palladium!

A trouble making ghost is haunting a West End theatre and the Mystery Inc. gang have been called in to help solve the mystery. Of course things never go as planned and they will meet various different people along the way who seem to know more than they are letting on! Who is the ghost?! Will the gang get to the bottom of the mystery?!

Scooby-Doo Live! Musical Mysteries is a brand new family show suitable for all ages and you can catch it at the London Palladium from 18-21 August 2016 where there will be 3 shows daily.

For tickets and more information, please visit

Thursday 4 August 2016

Kidloland Educational App for Pre-Schoolers - Review and Giveaway

Elliot is a huge fan of the iPad and although we do restrict it so he's not using it all day long (because he totally would!), I'm happy for him to play on it when I'm cooking dinner or getting ready in the mornings. He really enjoys watching YouTube kids, especially the songs for children.

Recently we were contacted by Kidloland to see if we would like to review their educational app. I'd not heard of the brand before but when I took a look online I was really impressed with all the glowing reviews from parents! Needless to say, Elliot didn't need to be asked twice to test it out!

The Kidloland app features over 300 nursery rhymes and educational songs, plus over 220 games and activities. From the main menu there are various different options to click on such as phonics, ABCD songs, Old Macdonald songs, animal kingdom, fruit and vegetables and much more! There is even a lullaby section which might come in handy at bedtimes.

The app is literally bursting with videos to watch and games to play and I think a toddler would have a hard time getting bored of the app with so much to do. New content is constantly being added too which keeps things fresh. I like that the app is educational as well as fun and I think it's a really good way of getting pre-schoolers familiar with numbers/letters etc.

I love the fact that the characters and videos are all so bright and eye catching, but also that the videos are interactive. Click on anyone when the song is playing and that character will do something funny like do a little wave or hide under an umbrella!

Another great reason to love this app is that it can be used offline - which is a godsend on long car journeys or places without WiFi! You can even create a playlist of your favourite songs.

I would suggest going through the settings once you've installed the app and get all the content downloaded before you let your child loose on it as it can take a bit of time to download everything. The settings can only be accessed by a grown up completing a sum so that's very useful if your child is prone to hitting all the button and changing the settings!

Elliot really enjoyed using the app and it has already proved very useful in keeping him quiet on a 4 hour car journey we did recently. Normally I have to resort to downloading programmes from iPlayer for him to watch but he tends to get a bit bored of that in the car so it was good for him to have some more choices and be able to flick through the songs until he found a good one. (The dinosaur songs seem to be a current favourite!)

The app is available to download from the Apple App store, Google Play and the Amazon Appstore . There is a free version but I would highly recommended upgrading to a subscription to access the full content. At £29.99 for a whole year, I think that this equals really good value for money and you would definitely get yours moneys worth!

If you would like to win a 3 month subscription to Kidloland, take a look at the giveaway below. I have 5 subscriptions to give away :)

Disclaimer: We received a 12 month subscription for the purpose of the honest review. All views are my own

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday 1 August 2016

Pregnancy Update ~ Second Baby, Week 12 & The Scan!

Week 12

Exciting times now as the first trimester is almost over! Been feeling really well this week, the queasiness has pretty much gone now which has been good. I'm almost sure I felt the baby move too. I know it's early but I recognised that little fluttery feeling very low down where the baby would be - I was singing at the time too with my choir and it almost made me forget my words!

It was finally time for the first scan this week - I felt quite nervous but really excited to see the baby. And excited to be able to everyone our news! We left Elliot with my parents and headed to the maternity unit at our local hospital. I was weighed and measured (I haven't got any taller...sigh!) and then we waited in the waiting room until we were called a few moments later.

I was fully expecting to have a vaginal scan as this is what happened at my 12 week scan in my first pregnancy. (If the sonographer is unable to see a clear picture then they will suggest this, normally if it early in the pregnancy or if you are overweight. ) This time round the sonographer did a regular scan and we were able to see the baby really clearly. He confirmed that there was definitely a baby (phew!) and only one (phew!) and that everything looked normal (phew!). We had some pictures printed (£5 for 5) but they're not the clearest, we could see the baby really clearly on the screen but as soon as he clicked to take the picture the baby moved!

The scan took around 10 minutes and we then had to wait back in the waiting room for me to have some blood taken. Unfortunately the hospital had some kind of emergency and everything was delayed so we had to wait almost an hour for someone to see me! Finally though a lady took my blood and explained that it would be sent off and tested so we would know if the baby was high or low risk for Down's Syndrome.

We didn't tell Elliot the news straight away, we went out for dinner on the way home but when we got back we sat him down and showed him the pictures. I'd bought him a dinosaur tshirt too which said "I'm going to be a big brother!". He seemed a little shocked but quite excited and kept saying "wow!".

I think he was a bit tired at the time and it didn't really sink it but the next morning he came running into our room and said "you've got a baby in your tummy Mummy!" - and since then he hadn't stopped talking about it! I get asked at least 5 times a day when the baby is coming and he is constantly telling people "we're having a baby!" - even complete strangers!!

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