What's Happened? What's Happening? - Foodie and Family Fun

12:13 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

With the Summer holidays now in full force it's been great to see so many of your days out. If you're out with the children, or on your own and write about it, please link up. I'm starting to see a real mix of posts which is exactly what I want to capture with #WHWH, hopefullly it will offer a bit of inspiration if you're looking for ideas too..

Some great food posts linked up last week with Oh So Gawjess' relaxed evening meal at Ye Olde Black Ladd and Hodge Podge Days family day out at Foodies Festival where they tried some really great food in What's Happened. Food of a less tasty variety featured in Six Degrees of Harmony's account of Summer Activities at the Imperial War Museum North which focuses on the First World War, including seeing the rations that the soldiers were subjected to!

Some very lucky children had some lovely days out including a trip to cBeebies Land for Inside the Wendy House (we're off there at the weekend so this really got us excited about our day out) and a trip to the Early Learning Centre/Mothercare Press Day for Clearly Bex.

If you're looking to plan some fun days out this Summer then you can't beat a trip to the cinema. I think we'll be going to see Planes 2: Fire and Rescue at some point and In the Playroom's trip to the gala screening of this only raised our anticipation. Equally entertaining was The Brick Castle's visit to see Cirque du Hilarious in Blackpool. What's Happening? is definitely the place to stop by if you're looking for ideas!

Just a reminder that #WHWH opens every Thursday and stays open until the end of Tuesday every week. Please link up your days out, events, holidays, restaurant, film and theatre reviews to What's Happened? and any posts about forthcoming events to What's Happening.

I've created a Pinterest board where I pin all of your posts, feel free to follow it.

As always, I would love it if you would add the linky badge to your post

What's Happened? What's Happening?

Bigjigs Music Set for a Musical Little Miss

09:05 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Our newest Bigjigs Play Patrol toy is their Music Set. This was an inspired choice for LM as music is one of her favourite things. It's a cliché to say she could dance before she could walk but she has responded to music since being a tiny baby and loves nothing more than dancing and clapping her hands to any music she hears.

Bigigs Music Set for Play Patrol

The set comprises two wooden castanets, two wooden handled jingle bells and a bright wooden xylophone with metal keys and two wooden beaters. The first thing to note is the high quality finish on all of the instruments. They are all beautifully, and colourfully, painted and Agent LM wanted them out of the package straight away!

As soon as the toys were freed from their packaging both children were keen to start playing straight away.Bud is familiar with all of the instruments from music time at nursery and identified each one, telling his Sister the name of each one. 

Bud spotted that there were two castanets and sleigh bells he decided that there was one for him and one for LM. He decided that the red castanet and bells were for LM and the blue ones were for him. Castanets were first to be tried out and both LM and Bud could confidently make them 'clack'. They are quite substantial so it'a s really satisfying noise and LM was delighted with how easily she could make the noise. The two wooden pieces are firmly attached and there's no gap for little fingers to get stuck in, as I've seen with some inferior sets of castanets.

LM plays the Bigjigs Music Set Castanets and Sleigh Bells

Sleigh or Jingle Bells are always a hit with little ones and the two sets in this collection were no exception. Each has five metal sleigh bells attached to a plastic strip, with a bright wooden handle. The bells are very securely attached and I felt confident giving them to LM as she's still at the stage where she explores things with her mouth as well as her other senses!

The Xylophone is probably the toy that has seen the most use since it arrived and rarely a day has passed without my two entertaining us with a 'tune' on this lovely instrument. The beaters are plain wood but the xylophone itself is really lovely. All of the keys are different colours, with a beautifully painted base too. Obviously it's not properly tuned but each key offers a different 'note' so children are able to play a tune on it. Using the beaters also helps with hand eye co-ordination  and making connections by needing to use the beater to generate a sound, it won't work with their fingers!

LM plays the Bigjigs Music Set Xylophone

Music is an extremely important part of our family life. We always have a radio on and the children sing and dance every day. LM still doesn't really speak much but she will happily 'aaaahaaahaaah' along to music. I'm always so keen to encourage both of the children musically and the music set from Bigjigs is a fantastic way to do this. The brightly coloured design is great for helping LM to learn her colours and she's really getting to know the difference between the red castanet and the blue. An older child would be able to understand that the blue one has dots, and the red one has yellow stripes too.

I think this is a fantastic set and, with an RRP of only £15 it is excellent value for money. It is available from Bigjigs Toys themselves and other wooden toys retailrs. It would work well for a childminder, or even nursery school, as a basic music set and is perfect in a household like ours, with two children to play with it. Bud and LM have been making the most of their new set and entertaining me on a daily basis and I think I'm going to purchase one for my niece at Christmas. Agent LM's first Play Patrol mission is completed!

To see what the other Play Patrol agents have been up to follow #PlayPatrol and Bigjigs Toys on Twitter and like Bigjigs Toys on Facebook.

Dsiclosure: We received this item for review purposes.

Mummy of Two

Disney Planes 2: Fire and Rescue Jigsaw Puzzles from Ravensburger

19:19 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Planes 2: Fire and Rescue from Disney looks set to be the Summer Blockbuster and we're definitely planning a trip to see it with Bud after it is released on 8th August. To get Bud even more excited about the forthcoming Disney sequel we have recently received two Planes 2: Fire and Rescue jigsaw puzzles from Ravensburger for him to try out.

Disney Planes 2: Fire and Rescue Jigsaw Puzzles from Ravensburger

The first puzzle is the Disney Planes 2 35 piece Puzzle, which features five of the main characters from the film. this sees the return of Dusty who is no longer crop spraying and has found alternative employment working as a fire spraying plane for Piston Peaks Fire and Rescue Department. This puzzle features Dusty and new characters Dipper, Cabbie, Blade Ranger and Windlifter along with a movie style 'Piston Peaks Fire Department' slogan.

Disney Planes 2: Fire and Rescue 35 piece Jigsaw Puzzle from Ravensburger

The second box is a set of four puzzles, Disney Planes 2 4 in a Box. All measure the same size but they step up in number of pieces, and therefore difficulty, from 12 pieces to 16, 20 and 24. Windlifter features on the 12 piece puzzle with Dusty on the 16 piece. Dipper and Cabbie can be found on the 20 and 24 piece puzzles respectively. The puzzles are all mixed together in the box so the first challenge is to work out which pieces belong to which puzzle. I helped Bud to do this but he needed no help with the puzzles. Helpfully each puzzle has a different coloured edge which helped with the sorting. The pieces also decrease in size as the puzzles increase in number of pieces.

Disney Planes 2: Fire and Rescue 4 in a box Jigsaw Puzzle from Ravensburger

Bud has really loved completing the puzzles and learning about the new characters before the film comes out, of course we didn't know the names of them but a combination of my friend Anna, who got to see the film early at the Gala Screening and Google helped me to keep him informed. I always find Ravensburger puzzles to be of excellent quality and these were just the same. The pieces are cleanly cut out, with neat edges and stand up to my four year old assembling them with ease. Both of these puzzles are aimed at age 3+ and I would say that is correct.

Disney Planes 2: Fire and Rescue 4 in a box Jigsaw Puzzles from Ravensburger

We are working on assembling the frame of a jigsaw before the centre at the moment and the 35 piece puzzle was perfect to practice on. Bud found the 12 and 16 piece puzzles quite easy and completed all of the four in one set with little difficulty. The main challenge was the 24 piece Cabbie puzzle. I'd definitely recommend these puzzles if you have a young Planes fan who is as excited about the new movie as Bud is.

Disney Planes 2: Fire and Rescue Jigsaw Puzzles from Ravensburger

The 4 in a Box puzzle has an RRP of £5:99 and the 35 piece puzzle has an RRP of £3:99 which I think are excellent prices for a high quality, fun and educational puzzles. Great for keeping little ones busy this Summer and raising anticipation for the film. The puzzles are available from all usual stockists including Amazon.

Disclosure: We received the puzzles for review purposes. Post contains affiliate link. 

Mummy of Two

The Moshi Monsters Arrive at SEA LIFE Manchester

09:37 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Last year we were incredibly lucky to be among the first people to see inside the SEA LIFE Centre Manchester. Since then we've had the pleasure of visiting a few times and it's now one of our favourite places to visit locally. Last week we went along to the SEA LIFE Centre again to see the arrival of the Moshi Monsters!

Moshi Monsters at SEA LIFE Centre Manchester

The Moshi Marine Force wants you and your kids to join Katsuma, Poppet and Monstro City's number one Moshling conservationist, Buster Bumblechops, on a mission to save our amazing marine creatures!

Katsuma, Poppet and Buster Bumblechops at SEA LIFE Manchester

The Moshi Monsters arrival sees the addition of a new treasure hunt throughout the SEA LIFE Centre, with seven Moshlings to spot. If you manage to find all of them you will receive a code to unlock the exclusive Lubber theWhimsical Whale Moshling at MoshiMonsters.com.This is in addition to the usual Conservation Quest so a visit to the SEA LIFE Centre will definitely keep you busy at the moment.  Be warned though, the Moshlings are very small, and in big tanks. We didn't manage to spot them all, perhaps you will have more success?

Moshi Monsters at SEA LIFE Centre Manchester

There will be character appearances at different times, featuring Buster Bumblechops, Katsuma and Poppet and the Moshi Swap Zone will also be in operation, where you can bring along up to six of your Moshi Monster figurines and exchange them (rules apply). Check posters on site for when Swap Zone will be open.

Moshi Monsters at SEA LIFE Centre Manchester Swap Zone

We visited the preview event and had great fun spotting the Moshi Monsters and enjoying the SEA LIFE centre. Bud even got to cuddle up to Katsuma.

Bud and Katsuma at SEA LIFE Manchester

We always thoroughly enjoy our trips to the SEA LIFE Centre, wherever it is, and it's great to see how Manchester is growing and improving all the time. The new Sea Stars  area is fully open and lots of the tanks seems to have new fish in them too. We were delighted to finally see the Octopus, on the fourth or fifth attempt! The Conservation Area at the end of the visit has now been improved with lots of interactive games, including a Kinect-style ocean cleaning game. Check out The Brick Castle's post to see it in action, I was too busy playing the game to take photos!

If you have any Moshi Monsters fans I'd definitely recommend the SEA LIFE Centre, it's the perfect Summer Holiday day out.

The Moshi Marine Force will be in SEA LIFE Centres from 19th July - 31st August. If you aren't close to Manchester check with your nearest SEA LIFE Centre for details of their activities. For further details, and to book tickets online visit http://www.visitsealife.com/manchester/.

Disclosure: We attended the event as the guests of the SEA LIFE Centre and received complimentary admission.

Peppa Pig Muddy Puddles Deluxe Playhouse

13:25 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Recently we've had the opportunity to review the Peppa Pig Muddy Puddles Deluxe Playhouse from Character Options. Peppa Pig is currently very popular in our house, despite Bud not really taking an interest at the 'classic' age for children to discover it. He's only really started to love it since being at nursery, and has now passed his interest on to LM so I have two little Peppa Pig fans in our house now!


The Peppa Pig Muddy Puddles Deluxe Playhouse is a large Peppa Pig playset modelled on Peppa's family home. My two were completely delighted to see the house when I opened the parcel and couldn't wait to get it open. It's rare that they have been this excited for a toy! The box clearly shows the contents and you can also spot that Peppa and George are inside. When you open the box you can see that the house will fold and unfold to play with it.

To open the house you simply turn the switch, fold down one end and open the sides out, rather like a traditional dolls house and this revealed two bags containing all of the fittings and furniture for the house. I was quite surprised by how much is included - you get a sofa and two armchairs, television, dining table and four chairs, bunk beds and a ladder for Peppa and George and a bathtub. You will also have to fit the bathroom floor and staircase before you play with it, and unfold the garden and dining room. It does require adult assembly so, if you have excited children, like mine, it might be a good idea to assemble it before they see it! The bunk beds ladder clips on and it can be a little frustrating as it doesn't fix on very well and my children couldn't attach it themselves. It might be better if it hooked on, I'm tempted to glue it.

The outside of the house is nicely decorated, it looks just like the house on TV and includes the bright Peppa Pig branding. The catch to close it is really secure which makes it easy to pick up and carry around, despite it's size it would be the perfect toy to take in the car if you're going to stay with friends. Everything fits inside the house and can be put away inside, meaning nothing gets lost. The plastic it is made from isn't heavy, which means my children can both carry it around.

The toy is quite large and taller than many play sets of this type, it's around 30 cm high and opens out fully so it's possible for two children to play with it easily. The house has stickers decorating it throughout and my two loved the muddy puddles on the kitchen floor. It's very true to the house on the TV series and Bud, especially, loved talking us through it. You can see how much fun they have playing with it here:

The house offers a fantastic way to role play and play imaginatively. Bud and LM both really enjoy playing with the house but play in entirely different ways. Bud will act out episodes of the TV show and talk to the characters about what they are doing. LM likes to investigate all of the furniture and figures, putting them in and out of the house and exploring them with her senses. We have a couple of Peppa Pig toys that I've been less happy with but we've all been really pleased with the playhouse and I can imagine it will be played with for some time to come. The recommended age is 18 months plus and I would say that is spot on. I can imagine LM will continue to play with it for a good few years, even after Bud loses interest and it's definitely the type of toy that will grow with her and, at an RRP of £29:99 I think this represents good value for money for the amount of play it's already seen in our house and will continue to see. It's been a big hit here.

The Peppa Pig Deluxe Muddy Puddles Playhouse is available from Character Options and all usual retailers including Amazon.

Moshi Monsters Event at Bluewater Shopping Centre

10:19 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

This Saturday, 2nd August 2014 from 10am, a very exciting Moshi Monsters event will take place at Bluewater Shopping Centre. Brand new Moshlings are arriving to The Moshlings Collection this August and, to celebrate, the event will take place near Clintons at Bluewater Moon Court.

With the opportunity to meet Mr Moshi himself, Michael Acton-Smith, who will be meeting and signing for fans on Saturday, and the opportunity to buy Scamp complete with commemorative certificate, for Michael to sign this is an event not to be missed for any Moshi fans. He will be there from 11am-1pm on the Saturday and everyone who meets him will receive a fantastic goodie bag, with the first 100 receiving an extra character from The Moshlings Collection.

Activities include a Moshi tattoo station, meet and greets with three Moshi characters – Poppet, Furi and Diavlo - and other activities taking place across Saturday and Sunday, if you have a Moshi fan and are in the area, this is not to be missed.

Watch Nigel Clarke, who will be filming for Official Toy Testers TV tell you more here:

The Importance of Child Eyecare - What You Need to Know

12:50 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Eyecare and health is an important issue in our house. Ian is severely short sighted and useless without his glasses and I had two operations to correct a squint when I was a child. I was always the one with the eye patch on to try to help my left eye get stronger and I wear glasses too. I've arranged regular eye checks for Bud and LM since they were tiny, in an effort to identify any issues early. Thankfully we haven't had any concerns.

The Association of British Dispensing Opticians have put together the infographic below and I'm sharing it with you to reinforce the importance of keeping your children's eye regularly checked. They have put together a Children and Eyecare FAQ which should be able to answer any questions you may have about eye testing for your little ones. They have also started a Facebook page to answer questions on any aspect of eyecare, not just children's.

The Importance of Child Eyecare - What You Need to Know

Do your children wear glasses?

What's Happened? What's Happening? - Days Outs and Holidays

16:55 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Last week's What's Happened? What's Happening? saw the start of the school holidays for most and Summer days out are in full swing. I know lots of you are planning days out and holidays, it will be great to see you link up in future #WHWH weeks.

If you're looking for inspiration and ideas for places to visit and live in, or are visiting, the North you were well served last week with Tami from Mummy of Two's guide to days out in Yorkshire and Claire from Six Degrees of Harmony's top five places to visit in Manchester. I've visited more than a few on both lists and I'd really recommend checking them out if you are in the area. Other posts saw a lovely family break from In the Playroom and Color Run-ning with Collette and her son from We're Going on and Adventure.

I loved the eclectic mix of posts linked up last week and that's exactly what I want to capture in #WHWH, so keep them coming!

What's Happening? was a little quieter last week but we saw more Lollibop excitement from Fun for Families, I'm really starting to wish we could go now, and foodie fun from Manchester Chick Flick. I have a ticket giveaway this week so check it out below.

What have you been up to this week? Have you been anywhere exciting? Have you written about your plans for the school holidays?

Please link up below, and grab my badge to add to your posts.

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Go Mini Power Boost Car from Golden Bear Toys

16:26 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Bud has recently been putting the Go Mini Power Boost Racer Car from Golden Bear Toys to test. When I went to Toy Fair in January I saw these cars demoed so I was really pleased that we would get the chance to try one out at home.

Go Mini Power Boost Car from Golden Bear Toys Red

The Go Mini Power Boost cars move on their own. To operate it you simply press the button on top of the car and the mini will zoom off on it's own. The Power Boost comes when you press the button more than once - up to three times - and,, with every press, the car travels further before carrying out it's handbrake turn to stop. The car is a good size, around the size of a traditional remote control car but doesn't need any additional controller the button on top does it all. The car runs by a motorised wheel spinning underneath. This means that you do need a smooth, flat surface to run the car on, it doesn't deal well with large obstacles but this is true of most of this sort of toy.

Go Mini Power Boost Car from Golden Bear Toys Red

Both Bud and LM love this car. It's been a huge hit here from the start. Both of them are able to use it independently and, despite LM (at nearly two) being younger than the advised age range of 3-7 years, she is used to pressing the button herself and clapping her hands excitedly when the car drives away!  Bud very quickly worked out that pressing the button three times gives the most power and distance whereas LM will just press it once and chase the car around!

The sound effects are what makes this car really fun. When you press the button a revving noise starts which gets louder as you press the button more, then you hear the car 'engine' as it rolls away and it screeches into a handbrake turn to stop.

Go Mini Power Boost Car from Golden Bear Toys Red

The Go Mini Power Boost cars are really sturdy. If the car runs out of room it will bump into obstacles before completing its handbrake turn. Obviously children really enjoy seeing cars crash so ours has seen a few walls since we received it. I'm happy to say it has sustained no damage and it the paintwork is unscratched. We have the red version of the car but you can also buy it in green and blue.

We have loved having the Go Mini Power Boost, in fact it's travelled rather further than it's three different distances as Bud insisted on taking it to France on holiday with us. It was a really fun toy on the vinyl flooring of the mobile home we stayed in.

If you'd like to see the car in action and Bud putting it through it's paces please check out our video below:

The Go Mini Power Boost cars are available from all the usual stockists including Amazon.

Disclosure: We received this item for review purposes, all opinions are honest. Contains affiliate link.

Kids Go Free at Merlin Attractions With cBeebies Magazine this Summer

17:14 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

This Summer cBeebies Magazine have teamed up with Merlin Entertainments to offer savings on some of the biggest family days out this Summer. The Summer long campaign will offer parents the opportunity to save up to £355 on top childrens' attractions across the UK.

cBeebies Magazine Cover 16th July 2014

From 16th July each issue of CBeebies Magazine will include two vouchers for kids to go free to a different attraction every issue with some of the most popular kids’ attractions in the country including Legoland, Chessington World of Adventures and Sealife Centres.

Stephanie Cooper, Editor Pre-schoo, says: 
“Keeping kids entertained during the long summer months can often be a challenge and we want to do our bit to help. We are delighted to team up with Merlin Entertainment on this fabulous offer. For a magazine priced under £3 for each issue parents can bring two kids for free to some of the countries’ best venues."
The current issue (dated 16th July 2014) features vouchers for the Sea Life Centre alongside some boredom busting makes from Mister Maker and the Octonauts, Andy's Dinosaurs colouring, Sarah & Duck seasons sticker picture, Timmy Time reward charts, a story about Mr Bloom visiting the seaside and a fun ice cream sundae toy. We're lucky enough to be subscribers and this issue was fab!

cBeebies Magazine Sea Life Centre Page 16th July 2014

The full list of attractions and dates included in this fantastic offer are: 

• Issue 409 (16th  July) - Sealife Centres and Seal sanctuaries – Save £39 (£19.50 per ticket)

• Issue 410 (30th  July) - Chessington World of Adventures – Save £68 (£34 per ticket)

• Issue 411 (13th Aug) – Alton Towers Resort inc. CBeebies Land – Save £86.40 (£43.20 per ticket)

• Issue 412 (27th  Aug) - Warwick Castle – Save £39.60 (£19.80 per ticket)

• Issue 413 (10th Sept) - Legoland and Legoland Discovery Centre – Save £82.80 (£41.40 per ticket)

• Issue 414 (24th Sep t) – Sealife Centres and Seal sanctuaries – Save £39 (£19.50 per ticket)

Please see the magazine for voucher terms and conditions.

I can guarantee that the vouchers will represent a fantastic way to save on Summer days out, with the added bonus of buying a cBeebies magazine to keep your little ones entertained!

Win a Family Ticket to Tractor Ted's Big Machines Weekend at Bowood House

16:07 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Our friend Tractor Ted has announced his next big event. You might remember that we gave away tickets to his Farm Show which took place at Bowood House in Wiltshire in June, well this time Tractor Ted's Big Machines Weekend will be staged in the same location on 16th and 17th August 2014 from 12pm - 4pm.

Win a Family Ticket to Tractor Ted's Big Machines Weekend at Bowood House

There will be over a million pounds worth of new farm machinery on show and a display ring of harvest related machinery will give demonstrations throughout the day. There will be one of the biggest New Holland combine harvesters plus a New Holland square baler, round baler, plough and muck spreader. There will also be working displays by JCB diggers and forestry equipment.

Tractor and trailer rides will take visitors around the estate for £2 per person over two years old, to include an ‘eye spy farming’ game to play onboard. Children will also be able to enjoy various young animals at the Little Farm together with lots of fun farm play including a mini tractor track, mechanical diggers and bouncy animals as well as the brand new giant Tractor Ted bouncy castle and slide.

Win a Family Ticket to Tractor Ted's Big Machines Weekend at Bowood House

For any tractor fan, of any age, this will be an exciting day out. Entry to Tractor Ted’s Big Machines Weekend is included in tickets to Bowood House & Garden. £10.75 for adults (13 years and above), £9.25 for Senior Citizens, £8.25 for children 5-12 years and £6.25 for children 2-4 years. A family ticket (for two adults and two children or one adult and three children) costs £32.50.

I've teamed up with Tractor Ted to give away one family ticket to Tractor Ted's Big Machines Weekend (valid for one day). To enter simply complete the Gleam widget below, the blog post comment is compulsory and will unlock a range of additional entries. Please read the terms and conditions.

Tractor Ted Big Machines Weekend

Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com

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50 Days of Summer Picnic Fun with Roberts Bakery

12:18 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Last month Bud, Little Miss and I headed off with our friends from The Brick Castle to a picnic in Delamere Forest with Roberts Bakery. We were there to find out all about Roberts Bakery's 50 Days of Summer campaign and to introduce us to some of their new products which we would use to make sandwiches!

Roberts Bakery 50 Days of Summer Picnic in Delamere Forest

First up was the White & Wholemeal Thick Sliced loaf and the staff from Roberts Bakery had lots of interesting facts for us in their presentation:
1. Roberts 50% White 50% Wholemeal bread contains protein, complex carbohydrates, calcium, iron and the B vitamins - thiamin, niacin and a little riboflavin.
2. Bread provides more protein, iron, B vitamins and complex carbohydrates per penny than any other food.
3. It is the major source of fibre in our diet, providing a quarter of our daily intake.
4. All white bread in the UK is fortified with calcium because of mandatory flour fortification laws.
5. It contains very little fat and virtually no sugar.

The new White and Wholemeal mix sliced loaf is designed to help parents get the benefits of wholemeal into those fussy children (I'm looking at Bud here) who 'don't like the brown bread Mummy!' We had a preview of their forthcoming muffins from the range too.

Roberts Bakery bread is bought regularly in our house as it is sold in Aldi locally so I'm sure we will be adding the White and Wholemeal to our shopping list soon.

The team from Roberts Bakery - nutritionist Catriona and demonstrators Anetter, Mags and Karol - were on hand to show us four brand new sandwiches which we made with their help ready to eat at our picnic later.

While us mums and dad donned aprons and got ready to create our picnic feast the children headed off with Ian Douglas, Storyteller who had them tramping through the forest and preparing a special surprise for us to be seen later. I was so happy with how readily Bud headed off with Ian and the other children, it made me realise how far my formerly clingy boy has come in his year of Nursery School.

Anyway, back to sandwiches. First up was The SLT. Based on the classic BLT this used the new Roberts Bakery muffins with sausages, fresh sliced tomato, lettuce and black pepper placed on the muffins which were spread with a mixture of Greek yoghurt and low-fat mayonnnaise. 

Roberts Bakery 50 Days of Summer Picnic in Delamere Forest SLT

Next up was the Sunshine Sandwich which aimed to get children eating a bit more fruit and veg. This used the new White and Wholemeal bread to make a traffic light sandwich. The bread was spread with low fat spread and then filled with a mixture of grated carrot, cheese, raisins and sunflower seeds. The three traffic light holes were then filled to make a solid colour 'light'. 

Roberts Bakery 50 Days of Summer Picnic in Delamere Forest Sunshine Sandwich

The third sandwich was Strawberries and Cream and my favourite one to create, with heart shapes cut from sliced bread, spread with cream cheese and layered with strawberries and fresh rocket, finished with a sprinkle of black pepper. A really classic combination carried out in a fun way.

Roberts Bakery 50 Days of Summer Picnic in Delamere Forest Sunshine Sandwich Strawberries and Cream

Finally we made Nutty Nana monkey shaped sandwiches. This was something of a challenge for me as it used bread spread with peanut butter (love!) then layered with sliced banana. I hate banana so touching them and making the sandwich was a personal challenge to overcome! The monkey's expression was made with drizzled honey which wasn't the most precise tool to work with!

Roberts Bakery 50 Days of Summer Picnic in Delamere Forest Sunshine Sandwich Nutty Nana

Sandwiches made it was time to enjoy our picnic, we headed down to a covered area to hear a great story from Ian Douglas and see the show that the children had prepared. It was so lovely to see them all making the shapes to act out the story and Bud joined in with gusto. The sandwiches went down a treat and I was surprised at how many my children would try. Bud's favourite was the SLT while Little Miss enjoyed tucking into the Nutty Nana.

Roberts Bakery 50 Days of Summer Picnic in Delamere Forest Sunshine Sandwich Ian Douglas Storyteller

We had a really lovely time with Roberts Bakery and I've been using their sandwich inspiration with my children since. The cookie cutters are getting a good use and Bud, especially has been enjoying dinosaur sandwiches recently. Thanks so much to Roberts Bakery for inviting us.

Disclosure: We attended this event as the guests of Roberts Bakery

What's Happened? What's Happening?    Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

A Break at Bluestone Wales

14:47 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Last month we had the pleasure of an invitation to go and stay at Bluestone Wales in Pembrokeshire. I love Pembrokeshire and it's somewhere I have been keen to take my children to so we were very excited to go. Bluestone Wales is situated near Narberth in Pembrokeshire, around 12 miles inland from Tenby and in the  national park. Bluestone prides itself on offering 'free-range family fun' and this sounded perfect for my outdoors-loving family. We're a family of four and our children were four and twenty-one months when we visited Bluestone.

Welcome to Bluestone Wales

On arrival at Bluestone you pick up the keys to your accommodation from a 'drive through' reception. We were staying in a Caldey Lodge, which sleeps 4. This is a chalet style wooden lodge with a large, open plan living space incorporating kitchen, dining room and lounge, a double bedroom, twin bedroom and wet room. It has patio doors which open out onto a small patio with a picnic table on it. You can arrange to have a welcome hamper delivered prior to your arrival, with all the essentials for your stay but we decided to go shopping instead. The Caldey Lodge was situated close to the large lake and was semi-detached. We didn't hear our neighbours but I did find it a little strange how close together the picnic tables outside each lodge were. Our neighbours' table was less than six feet from ours so it felt a bit strange sitting out at the same time as them, and with a curious toddler trying to see what the inside of next door looked like, it meant that I was very conscious of their proximity at those times. Our neighbours were really pleasant and didn't mind our nosy LM but I'm sure other people would have.  In addition to this the sitting area was at the front of the lodge, with people walking past so we didn't really feel like it was 'our' space. The only other issue with the accommodation was the wet room. I'm used to showering my children as we don't have a bath but we do have a shower cubicle. Using a wet room to try and wash slippery pre-schoolers was difficult as there is no way to enclose them in a 'safe' space to get them showered and clean. LM was especially difficult. It isn't the best bathroom style for young children at all. A bath or shower cubicle would make life much easier. These two issues aside, the accommodation was great, really clean, in excellent condition and the kitchen was well equipped, making it easy to cook a range of family meals there, If you don't fancy cooking you can use the resort takeaway service or eat at one of the restaurants on site.

Here's a video tour of our accommodation:

Bluestone Wales is a car-free resort. They ask all guests to return their cars to the long-stay car park by midnight on the first day of their stay, until their final day when they can bring their car down to load up and travel home. This makes the site much more relaxed and children can play without fear of cars approaching. The alternatives to car travel are to hire a golf buggy, bicycles or to simply walk. We chose the latter option. There is a little road train that travels around the resort during the day and we made good use of this - The Hail and Ride does a loop of the whole site and it was an easy way for us to get up to the car park or the Blue Lagoon. We generally got this in the morning and walked back to our accommodation in the evening.

Our accommodation was situated a short walk from the Village Centre where you will find restaurants, shops, the information centre and a children's play area. We visited this several times, whether it was for elevenses at the Bluestone Bakery, dinner at the Knights Tafarn, to stock up on supplies at the shop or to let the children burn off some energy in the play park. The Knights Tafarn was the only restaurant we used on site and we found their food excellent, the prices were reasonable and we all really enjoyed our meal with a good choice for both adults and children, excellent presentation and great tasting food. The outdoor seating area here was lovely although we decided to enjoy the indoor area for our meal. The Knights Tafarn has a range of evening activities too but sadly bedtime beckoned so we passed on those.

Meal at the Knights Tafarn Bluestone Wales

The Bluestone Bakery is the perfect spot for a daytime pit stop. We enjoyed coffee and cakes there one morning and found the food and drink excellent, especially the coffee (and I have high standards). It was a lovely day and it really was the perfect spot to sit outside at one of their tables and watch the rest of the park go about their day. I'd definitely recommend taking the time to visit if you go to Bluestone. We visited the grocery store a couple of times to stock up on essentials like bread and milk, it's worth mentioning that it closes at 7 and, if you are arriving late the chances are that they will run out of the essential fresh items. There is a handy dairy vending machine though so fresh milk should always be available. Often shops on holiday sites have vastly inflated prices but I didn't find that here, we were able to pick up some essentials on our first night at a reasonable price.

Elevenses at Bluestone Bakery,Bluestone Wales

The Village is also home to 'Tree Tots', this was one of my children's favourite places at Bluestone. The park allows younger children to challenge themselves with chain bridges, cargo nets and tunnels, while the tiny ones can play on the playground attached. My two spent well over an hour on two separate occasions chasing all over this park accompanied by Ian and I. We all had a ball. Bud found it incredibly amusing when I nearly got stuck in one of the tunnel pipes! I avoided them after that! Seriously though, it's brilliant, with just enough to physically challenge my four year old and give him a massive sense of achievement at completing certain elements of it.

Fun at Tree Tots, Bluestone Wales

Our other most visited place at Bluestone was the Blue Lagoon Waterpark. Entry to this is included for all guests of the resort and it is open to the public too. We all loved the pool and went almost every day during our stay. There are a mixture of flumes and activities to keep older children (and big kids like Ian) entertained, alongside waves and a lazy river which Bud adored. This took you outside into the open air and back into the main pool again. The changing areas were great with plenty of family sized cubicles and there is also a well stocked shop, great for if you forget those essential arm bands or swim nappies. We encountered the Free Rangers here - dressed as pirates and engaging the children with lots of water fun and pirate behaviour - Bud was delighted with them. They are Bluestone's in-house entertainers who can be found at the Adventure Centre too, we didn't make it there, we just didn't find the time but find out what my friend Anna's boys made of it at In the Playroom. I wish we'd had more time as Bud would have loved the unlimited Crazy Golf there! Anna also writes about the Gold Panning Experience which is one of the bookable, paid activities available. There is a huge range of these available but we didn't really find one that worked for both of our children and we didn't want to split up the family to take part with just one child. I'm sure families without a young toddler like LM would find something for them to enjoy and there was a wide range that Bud would have liked I think.

Blue Lagoon WaterPark, Bluestone Wales

Bluestone is very handily situated as a base for exploring Pembrokeshire and we had a few trips out to Tenby, Folly Farm, Pembroke and Saundersfoot. The area is quite compact and you shouldn't find anywhere more than a half an hour drive away. I'll be posting about Folly Farm soon.

We loved our time at Bluestone Wales, from the tiny frogs who swarmed the road in front of our accommodation every day, delighting the children, to the peace and quiet and amazing star filled skies in the evenings, it was wonderful. I'd recommend it for families who like to be outdoors and take advantage of all of the range of activities offered by Bluestone. If you're a family who wants to use accommodation as a base for exploring an area you might want to consider somewhere else, more inexpensive, as, to get the full benefits of your Bluestone stay I think you need to spend a significant amount of time on site. We would definitely return and I'd love to bring more of the family next time and stay in one of the larger properties I think. There is something for all of the family to enjoy at Bluestone Wales, it's a fantastic place to holiday.

If you would like more information, or to book a break visit Bluestone Wales, or follow them on Twitter or Facebook.

Disclosure: We stayed for four nights as the guests of Bluestone Wales and our accommodation was complimentary. All opinions are unbiased and honest.

#MySundayPhoto 20/7/2014 Bud Runs Ironkids

10:19 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Ironman  UK takes place annually in our hometown, Bolton. As part of the weekend of sport the organisers stage Ironkids, a fun run for children aged 3-14 the day before the main event. We first heard about it last year but too late to register Bud. This year we were in time.

Yesterday he ran 500 metres in the rain with his Uncle. He didn't complain about getting wet and loved every second of the run. He was then presented with his medal, which he is delighted with. I'm so proud of him and he definitely wants to do it again next year.

Bun Runs Ironkids UK Bolton


Expressions photos

Play Patrol - Bigjigs Rail Railway Station

15:40 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

We were very excited to receive our first Bigjigs parcel the day before we went on holiday and I almost had to prise Bud and LM's new toys from their hands ready to review on our return. Bud's first delivery saw him receive the Railway Station from Bigjigs Rail and I knew it would be an instant hit.

Play Patrol - Bigjigs Rail Railway Station Wooden train set

We're new to wooden train sets. Bud received his first sets at Christmas and I was really pleased to see how well he took to building his own tracks and playing with his trains upon them. Since then we've inherited some and added a few charity shop purchases to the bought sets and he has amassed a reasonable collection. It has become one of his favourite ways to while away an hour or two and I love how building tracks and playing with his trains has aided his imaginative play.

The Bigjigs Rail Railway Station is a solidly built building which has a length of track outside, allowing you to build it into a track layout and have trains stop and go at the station. It has a moveable barrier which can be put down to keep trains in the station then lifted to let them travel on their way, or you can use it as a terminus station and use the barrier as buffers. It measures 21cm wide so it's a striking addition to any track. The station is really solidly built and the painted station design carries over to both sides so you can have your passengers walk through from the booking office on to the platform. As with all Bigjigs Rail, it is fully compatible with all generic wooden railway so it doesn't matter which track you have in your collection, you can attach pieces to the beautifully crafted connectors on the track at the front of the station. The painted design is brilliant, from the roof tiles, to the station clock, ticket window and toilet doors!

Play Patrol - Bigjigs Rail Railway Station

All Bigjgs Rail packaging now features cutouts on the back of the box. The Railway Station has it's very own Station Master Sam ready to be cut out, assembled and put to work. These are an excellent feature and, if you visit the Kids Zone on the Bigjigs Rail website you can find some additional cutouts to add to your railways in the 'cut and play' section. 

Play Patrol - Bigjigs Rail Railway Station  Cut and Play Activities

Bud is thoroughly enjoying adding the Bigjigs Rail Railway Station to his wooden railway play. It's definitely become a focal point for all of his track construction and has replace his bridges as the starting point for all of his tracks. Interestingly he will often play with the railway station on it's own, bringing toy people in to 'buy tickets' and interact with Station Master Sam, and stand on the platform. When he has it connected to the tracks it's all about how the trains approach the station, wait at the barrier and then get on their way.

From an educational perspective it's clear that wooden railway is having a really positive impact upon Bud. Laying out a track helps with dexterity, coordination and mathematics skills. It's so interesting to watch him puzzle out how to make a track connect up and add and remove different sections until it forms a circuit, even if he does get frustrated and ask for help sometimes. It seems that every time he plays with the track he tells a story, he knows where the train is going and who it will pick up or what the cargo is. It's a really creative, imaginative experience for him and I love listening to him. If his Dad or I join in, or other children do, he gives instructions for what your role is, what your train is doing and it's part in the storyline. It is a thoroughly imaginative experience.

Play Patrol - Bigjigs Rail Railway Station

It's hard to show Bud playing with the Railway Station in photos so here's a little video to show it more clearly, including another Bud song.

The Bigjigs Rail Railway Station has an RRP of £14:99 which I think is a reasonable price to pay for a sturdy, beautifully painted item. It's become a favoured toy here and I think should be a must for any little wooden railway fans. We would definitely recommend it. 

Disclosure: We were sent the Railway Station as part of our role as Play Patrol agents, all opinions are honest and unbiased.