Thursday, 30 July 2015

What's Happened? What's Happening? 30/07/15 #WHWH

What's Happened? What's Happening was back with a vengeance two weeks ago and we've loved reading your accounts of your days out, events, holidays and yummy meals out in What's Happened? We've loved seeing previews of forthcoming events in What's Happening? too.

Each fortnight we will be choosing our favourites from the linky before to showcase. We went with a Stately Home theme this week. Both of our families enjoy exploring historic venues and their grounds and we're lucky to have some fabulous examples within a nearby drive. Somewhere that's been on the 'to visit' list for a while is Blenheim Palace and Oxfordshire Bloggers' account of their visits over the years was written with real fondness for somewhere that's clearly important to Mary and her family.

Blenheim Palace - A Palace for All Seasons from Oxfordshire Bloggers
Photo Credit: Over 40 and a Mum to One

Our second choice was a fun toddlers day out for Hello Archie. Neither of us have ever shied away from taking our toddlers anywhere and it's always good to see other people follow suit. Bowood House is somewhere we've heard of through it's links with Tractor Ted and it looks to be a great place to explore with children of any age.

Toddlers Day Out at Bowood House from Hello Archie
Photo Credit: Hello Archie

Our What's Happening? choice was We're Going on an Adventure's trip to Cheshire Oaks which showcased their fantastic range of family fun activities. Although we've both visited Cheshire Oaks in the past I don't think either of us realised that they had so much planned for children over the Summer. I definitely think we might take a trip at some point. The photos in Colette's post were fab, how amazing to have a professional photographer follow you around on a shopping trip!

We're Going on an Adventure - Cheshire Oaks

What have you been up to? What are you planning?

We'd love you to link up your blog posts to What's Happened? - featuring events, days out, holidays, film, theatre and restaurant reviews and any other 'happeneds'. What's Happening? is the place for you to link your event previews, ongoing events and ticket giveaways.

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Red Rose Mummy

A Visit to Conkers

Last weekend we were invited to Conkers to go and experience their 'world of adventure and discovery at the heart of the National Forest'. It was a glorious Summer's day and the perfect weather to make the most of this attraction.

A Visit to Conkers Leicestershire

Conkers is an award winning visitor attraction situated in the heart of the National Forest in the Midlands. It's an area we are familiar with from previous visits but this was our first time at Conkers. It features a unique mix of indoor and outdoor experiences across 120 acres of maturing woodlands, lakes, ponds, play areas and an 18-stage assault course challenge. Indoors, a British Woodland has over 100 indoor interactive exhibits in four seasonal zones or visitors can experience the Enchanted Forest, climbing through the treetops and along rope walkways.

A Visit to Conkers Leicestershire

We arrived to be met by the Conkers team who set us off on an Orienteering course around the site. This was a fab way of getting our bearings as we searched for letters to unscramble a very relevant word at Conkers. We were able to take a look at the maze, assault course, lake and tree top wires course as we worked out our nine letter anagram before heading to our mystery assembly point.

A Visit to Conkers Leicestershire Bushcraft Area

We all met up at the Bushcraft area and said the word we had worked out from our collected letters. I'm not going to tell you what it was though! We got it right and one of the rangers explained that we were now on a survival mission and we had to build a shelter big enough for our family and then set a fire. As our orienteering had been successful we were promised marshmallows to roast on our fire. Yummy!

A Visit to Conkers Leicestershire Bushcraft Area

Ian's eyes lit up at the challenge we had been set as these are exactly the type of activities he enjoys sharing with his Explorer Scouts Unit. He quickly set about assembling quite a complex shelter with assistance from Bud and LM. Using the provided tarp as a roof and lots of branches as a supporting structure, it drew a few admiring glances from some of my fellow bloggers. I did explain that he had quite advanced experience though!

A Visit to Conkers Leicestershire Bushcraft Area

Fire lighting proved a little more tricky. It was simple to set the fire and Ian eschewed the demo because he knew what he was doing, however, he couldn't quite work out how to use the flint as it was different to those he was used to and had to get one of the Rangers to help him. Our fire was soon roaring and Ian and I enjoyed roasting our marshmallows. Bud and LM didn't like them roasted and settled for eating them as they came instead.

Following the Bushcraft session we headed down to the Barefoot Walk. This is a 450 metre walk which allows you to explore the sensation of so many different textures including water, clay, stone and many others. Ian, Bud and LM headed off to experience the walk. I had Little E in the carrier so I stayed with him and acted as their cheerleader. They loved every second of it and Bud wanted to do it again when it was finished!

A Visit to Conkers Leicestershire Barefoot Walk

From the Barefoot Walk it was a short step to the nearby Conkerchoo II Railway Station to catch the little train down to the Waterside area for lunch. The train was great fun for everyone and was a lovely way to travel down to our lunch venue. This offered time to recoup and catch up with some of our friends who were there with us.

The afternoon saw time to explore Conkers at our leisure and we immediately headed for the Playdale Play Zone to let off some steam. Sadly, as we headed there Bud started to feel a little unwell and, after a short time playing on the park it became clear that it wasn't something he could just shake off and we had to head home. This meant that we didn't get the chance to explore Conkers as much as we would have liked.

A Visit to Conkers Leicestershire Playdale Park

I think we'll definitely return to Conkers. We had a wonderful time there and there's so much of the site that we didn't have the chance to explore through leaving early. It's a fantastic outdoor attraction which allows families to explore nature and get their hands (and feet) dirty. The site was well laid out and we managed fine with the pushchair and the carrier so it's really accessible, making it perfect for families.

If you're thinking of visiting Conkers then you could include it as part of a short break to Leicestershire, check out the Stay Play Explore which offers the opportunity to visit three out of five attractions (including Conkers) and a night in a hotel, with prices starting from just £129.  

Red Rose Mummy

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Dora & Friends Toys and #DoraSingalong Fun This Summer

LM has developed something of an obsession over the past few months, in the way almost three year olds do, and the target of her affections has been Dora and Friends, the animated series on Nick Jr. When we heard about the new range of Dora and Friends toys from Fisher Price I knew that she would be super excited and I was completely right. We've been sent a selection of the range of toys and LM has been really happy with all of them.

The new range includes a variety of Dora themed toys. For those not in the know, Dora and Friends sees the character Dora the Explorer grow up and move to the city where she makes a new group of her friends and uses her magic charm bracelet and smartphone Map App to help on their adventures.

The range includes dolls, charm bracelets and a smartphone just like Dora's. First up is the Chat With Me Dora Doll (RRP £29:99), the largest doll in the range. Dora arrives with her own smartphone for you to use. If you press the flower on her dress she speaks and sings songs from the TV Show.

Chat With Me Dora Doll Fisher Price Dora and Friends

Dora Magic Charm Bracelet (RRP £9:99) This bracelet is just like Dora's and you can see charms featuring her and all of her friends on there. It also has spaces to add additional charms which are supplied inside the pack and with other toys in the range. LM loved being able to wear a bracelet just like Dora's and enjoys being able to swap over the charms. The bracelet comes with five additional charms - a roller skate, horse, rainbow, star and hot air balloon - which will  help to fill up the charm bracelet.

Dora and Friends Magic Charm Bracelet

Magic Adventure Charms (RRP £7:99) Another charm bracelet features in these packs, alongside a small doll and three more charms which can be mixed and matched across the range.We received a mini Dora and a pink bracelet,dog, camera and bag charm. These are a real bargain and I think would make great little birthday party gifts. LM loves mixing all of the different charms together across the various toys,

Dora and Friends Magic Adventure Charms

Dora and Friends Dolls (RRP £10:99) LM loves her dollies and I knew she'd be delighted with these dolls as soon as we opened the pack. Dressed in outfits related to a particular episode of the show we received Dora and Alana in their Doggy Day clothes. The dolls are really lovely, definitely little girls rather than fashion dolls and with clothes and shoe that can be removed and replaced and hair that can be styled. They are the perfect introduction to this style of doll for little girls and LM loves them. Dora and Alana have been pretty much everywhere with her since they arrived and she loves brushing their hair and taking their shoes off. Each doll arrives with another charm for the bracelet sets too. I can definitely see us adding a couple more of the dolls to LM's collection when her birthday arrives in a few weeks. She loves Neiya so that one will be on her list.

Dora and Friends Dolls Dora and Alana

Dora Talk & Play Smartphone (RRP £9:99) This, alongside the dolls, has been LM's favourite of the toys. She loves a toy phone and this, despite the pink and purple colour scheme, seems a little more realistic than many toy phones. LM loves pressing the 'touch screen' and hearing the phrases and songs from the show, and watching the lights flash. It's been a huge hit here and LM constantly says it is 'just like Dora's'. Perfect for pretend play. The touch screen flicks between Dora, a key pad and a picture of all of the friends together.

Dora and Friends Talk & Play Smartphone

The whole range of Dora and Friends toys is available at Smyth's Toys.

 Nick Jr Singalong Summer Dora and Friends

Dora and Friends are going on tour this Summer to promote the Nick Jr Singalong Summer  which is on your TV screens right now. The roadshow will be visiting Smyth's Toys stores over the next few weeks with a Singalong booth and character appearances at selected stores and Sky stands as follows:

Symths Toys
  • Waterfields Retail Park, Watford (Dora Costume Character)  – 27th July
  • Westwood Cross Shopping Park, Thanet  – 28th July
  • St. David’s Retail Park, Swansea – 29th July
  • Crown Retail Park, Leeds (Dora Costume Character) – 31st July
  • Clifton Moor Retail Park, York (Costume Character) – 3rd August
  • Ravenhead Retail Park, St.Helens  – 5th August
  • Halls Mill Retail Park, Bury – 6th August
  • Middle Engine Lane, Wallsend – 10th August
  • Glasgow Fort Shopping Park, Glasgow (Costume Character) – 12th August
  • Beach Boulevard, Aberdeen (Costume Character) – 14th August
Sky stands
  • Brent Cross, London – 18th-19th July
  • Centre MK, Milton Keynes – 25th– 26th July
  • White Rose, Leeds  – 1st– 2ndAugust
  • Intu Eldon Square, Newcastle  – 8th– 9th August
  • Bon Accord, Aberdeen – 15th– 16th August
We're hoping to visit the Bury store next week.

 Nick Jr Singalong Summer Dora and Friends

Twitter Frenzy
Tomorrow, 27th July 2015 from 11am - 12 noon, the Nick Jr Singalong Summer will be taking over the @ukmumstv Twitter account. There will be masses of singalong fun and lots of prizes to be won. Check out #SingalongFun to join in with all of the excitement. I'll be there!

To find out more about the different events check out UK Mums TV.
Will you be joining in with the Singalong Summer?

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Triop World from Interplay UK

Regular readers will know that Bud is dinosaur crazy so when the opportunity to hatch some tiny creatures that have been around on the planet since dinosaurs walked the earth I knew he would love it. We were sent the Triop World Kit from Interplay and have been hatching our Triops.

Triop World from Interplay UK

Triops are small crustaceans with a fossil record dating back over 300 million years Their eggs lie dormant in dry areas until they get wet and hatch. They are fond of warm, dirty water which allows them to eat bacteria in it.

The Triops World kit includes a small tank, a packet of Triops eggs, a packet of detritus, packet of Triops food, bag of sand, plastic spoon and pipette. You will also receive an informative instruction booklet. To prepare to hatch your Triops you need to collect rain water. We used a bucket in the garden and then filtered it through a muslin cloth to ensure that any bits were removed. We then poured it into the tank. You place half of the packets of detritus and eggs in the tank and you should start to see life within 24 hours.

Triop World from Interplay UK

We had a few tiny different creatures hatch at first but the Triops soon ate them and we were left with one large Triop. Within 24 hours they look like tiny versions of their adult form which allows you to see them develop, there is a really good guide to their form in the instruction booklet,

After three days you can skim off some of the detritus on the top of the tank using the included plastic spoon, and also feed the Triops using a tiny pinch of the food. We found that our Triops must have laid eggs because, as one died another was growing up to replace it. It was interesting to watch them grow and, as they fed on the greener matter at the base of the tank, change colour to reflect what they had been eating.

Bud has been competely fascinated by the Triops kit and has been so excited to watch them swimming around in their tan. The largest Triop got to around two centimetres long so it was easy to watch it swimming around, We did find that some of the Triops died and were found floating on top of the water even though we hadn't seen that many of the little creatures in the tank. Very strange!

The Triops are really hard to photograph in action but here's a little video of them in action.

A video posted by Pippa Ainsworth (@redrosemummy) on
Triop World is part of Nick Baker's range of My Living World kits for Interplay UK. You can find Interplay UK on Facebook and Twitter.

Bean Bag Planet Baby Bean Bag - Review and Giveaway

I ordered Little E a swing a few months ago but he hates it and we don't really have room for it so an alternative was much needed. We've been sent a Baby Bean Bag from Bean Bag Planet recently and this has proven the perfect replacement for the swing.

Bean Bag Planet have a range of baby bean bags in lovely prints and a range of colours. They are supplied with two covers, one which includes a T-Bar strap to hold your baby in and one which is plain to allow your toddler to use it. The covers simply zip on and off so you can change the style as your child grows. The fact that the covers zip off means that they can easily be removed for washing too.

Bean Bag Planet Baby Bean Bag in Teal Zoo - Review and Giveaway