Garden Party!

Garden Party!

October 6th, 2011|3.0|311|1072359|1|16|AdId%3D6699352;BnId%3D1;link%3D (They love my blog, ooo-errr how exciting!)
In light of the tropical weather conditions we experienced at the tail end of last week plus the fact that I have been sicker than a dog with my morning sickness (more like all day sickness if you ask me), we decided to abandon our planned trip in favour of sitting in my Mum’s garden in Norfolk. It seemed so rude not to take advantage of the fabulous weather and because we were in Norfolk and it meant we had the garden with all of Florence’s outdoor toys we just couldn’t resist it. Having a garden is probably the thing I miss most about being in London. I know people do have gardens here but we don’t and even those that do just don’t quite match up! There’s something about the quietness in East Anglia, the air quality, the light. You just don’t get that in London. Don’t get me wrong, I love The Capital and would miss it greatly if I wasn’t here but there really is something so very special about being in Norfolk, especially in the sunshine! We literally just got up, got dressed, went outside and sat on sun loungers for four days. It was bliss! My Mum has a very large garden so she has been able to have room for lots of lovely things for Florence; she had her sand and water table, little car, slide, tent, paddling pool and Scuttle bug to keep her busy. It was so lovely for her to be able to just run around with no clothes on and have so many different things to play with – she’s a lucky girl!
Jonny isn’t one for sitting down the whole day like me, he gets bored. When we’re on holiday we always have to buy a bat and ball and then Jonny crazes me non stop to get up and play with him – he’s such a typical boy and it doesn’t matter how old they are does it?! So he was in luck cause I happen to have been sent the fabulous ‘All Surface Swingball Set’ by ‘Mookie Toys’ and priced at around £24.99. Now I say this was the perfect toy for my husband but it’s actually recommended for children aged 6+ so with him being 33 there’s a wide age range that it’s suitable for. This All surface Swingball is actually really, really good, even I enjoyed playing with it. I remember Swingball from my youth and you had to plunge it into the earth but it always worked its way out again and would be lopsided. This new version, despite its looks (I actually thought it wasn’t going to work at all) is a major improvement on the design front. Not only does it all fold away into a handy carry case but the carry case turns into the base and once filled with water (in our case) or sand it proves to be very sturdy indeed and does the job beautifully. It’s called ‘all surface’ because you can use it on all surfaces. It really is very clever and like I said, everything, from those substantial bats, the pole (which is height adjustable) and the ball itself fold down into the carry case and make it ideal to take with you on picnics or to the beach. It’s not particularly heavy and while it’s not tiny, it is quite slim and would be very easy to carry or hang on a buggy!

Another thing that ‘Mookie Toys’ make and that made our mini holiday in the garden special is the ‘Scuttlebug’. Now if you’ve not seen one of these before you’ll be impressed I think. We certainly have been. This range comes in four different colours and styles; Bumblebee, Dragonfly, Flowerbug and Ladybird and is priced at around £22. It is a sit and scoot along on trike with a difference and the difference is that this trike folds down and fits underneath even the smallest of buggies. We take it with us everywhere we go and not just because of its compact nature, that’s just a bonus! Florence’s ‘bike’ as she calls it is one of her favourite toys and she’s loved it ever since she got it for her first Christmas. It’s a toy that works well on all surfaces and with a quick wipe of the easy clean wheels when you get home from the park can easily be transferred into a toy for indoors as well. It’s really very versatile and what’s more, this is the trike that when you get half way where you’re going and the child no longer wants to play on it and go in the buggy instead, after three quick clicks folds away it is stored! It is ideal for 1 – 3 year olds and for the price I don’t think it can be beaten! For more information on the ‘All Surface Swingball’ and ‘Scuttlebug’ plus the full range of Mookie Toys and their stockists please visit their website

Before we went to Norfolk, during our trip there and since we have got home I have been trialling the first item in my new series of pieces about travelling with more than one child. The item up for review this week is the ‘Chicco Echo Twin Stroller’ in the colour ‘Moonstone’:
This is a side by side stroller designed to accommodate children from birth up to 36months (maximum of 15kg) and I have been using it on varied trips out with Florence and her friends both in the City in London where we used it on public transport and in the countryside in Norfolk. I was very impressed with how easily the buggy went together, inevitably when putting something up it’s never as easy as the instructions say, takes twice as long as predicted and needs more than one person to do it so I had been prepared for similar. In this case however, my husband put it together in our living room in about half an hour with no problems at all. So far so good! I liked the way it looked, it folded down fairly small considering it’s a double and the colour would be easy to keep looking good as it is fairly dark. I first took it out for a spin to the park near my house. Florence had her friend over to play so it was an ideal opportunity and I have to say I was quite surprised at how manoeuverable the buggy was. It pushed over pavement very well, the swivel wheels at the front worked a treat going round corners and with two children, one of about 20lb and the other 28lb it didn’t feel heavy at all. I am more than confident that it will be as easy to push with heavier children because the wheels are so good, unlike some umbrella fold buggies they are sturdy and not intent upon having a life of their own. It went up small curbs without me having to even lift it and when I got to bigger steps it was easy to manoeuvre.
Next I decided I was going to take it on public transport and try the bus. As with any side by side buggy on a London bus, you do have to get on at the middle doors (the area at the front just isn’t wide enough). This is the problem with London buses and not the buggy I might hasten to add. I also used it on a bus going from my Mother’s house into Norwich City and it fitted with no problem there but they have a wide door at the front in Norwich! So, as long as you get a pleasant London bus driver who will open the middle doors for you then you’re laughing; getting it up onto the bus was no hassle likewise getting off again (if you go backwards as I presume most people would with a single as well) it’s really very easy. The tube however, was a different story. Obviously escalators are not wide enough for a double buggy and it would be entirely unsafe to try it even if they were. Carrying a single buggy, while difficult, is not impossible but with a double it’s just a no go I’m afraid. So I was limited as to which stations I could use. Again, this is the fault of Transport for London and the buggy cannot be blamed. I often wonder how on earth disabled people get to work in this City; the tube network is so poor at catering for people who need step free access! I went from Stratford, which has just been souped up for the Olympics and has lift access everywhere to Canary Wharf on the DLR where there are also lifts. Getting through the disabled barrier was no problem and getting in and out of lifts proved easy. Hopping on and off the DLR was a dream but it may be harder on lines where there is a big gap to enter the train. I think travelling lots with a double buggy of any sort would be very difficult on the tube… as it is with a single lest we forget.
For my third try out we took ‘Big Buggy’ as Florence has named it out for a walk in the country side. I actually though it might be really hard going over grass and stony pathways and although it was naturally harder than pavements it wasn’t at all as bad as I had thought it might be. I did need to push with a bit more vigour and it certainly wasn’t a breeze but it wasn’t too much hard work either. I like the fact that the wheels dealt with some mud, short wet grass and stones and think it would be pointless buying a specific buggy to deal with all terrain when this one works perfectly well with moderately uneven terrain, if that’s what you’re after.
What did I like most about the buggy? Well, I loved the way the back rests fold down so easily. A lot of umbrella fold buggies have a pull system with a bead you push up and down the cord accordingly. Its such hard work that way, the Chicco Echo Twin Stroller has a lever which you easily and gently lower up or down. So many times Florence has been asleep in our holiday buggy with the former style described and the jerks wake her up, of course! This way is much more acceptable and means your sleeping child stays asleep! Hallelujah! I also thought the rain cover was pretty neat, easy to use and covered the buggy very well and it stores very compactly in the ample storage bags underneath the buggy of which there are two.
What was I not so keen on? Well nothing in particular and nothing that would put me off recommending this buggy to others. There were just a couple of points I thought might be worth noting that may not tick a lot of people’s boxes. The buggy does fold up pretty small but it’s still a double buggy and it was too long to go in the boot of my Vauxhall Corsa 3 door. It did fit standing upright in the foot well of the back seats, so it’s not a deal breaker. Also it’s too wide to fit through our doorways which isn’t a problem for me as I put it up outside then put the children in. This might not be so handy with a newborn in tow?
All in all I thought this was a great buggy. It’s middle of the road sort of prices and I think you do get a little bit more than you pay for. I haven’t tried a tandem buggy so I can’t compare it but I have tried another side by side made by a leading competitor and in my opinion this one is by far easier to use, store and a better price. The recommended retail price of the Chicco Echo Twin Stroller is £219.19, it weighs  13.4kg and size when open is 78 x 82 x 108cm/size when closed is 38 x 40 x 105cm. For more product information and anything else in the Chicco range please see their website

So, moving on to what’s been entertaining us this week and I have to bring you news of a new app I have discovered, one perfect for diminishing those four little words we hear in car journeys oh so often ‘Are we nearly there yet’? Plus it’s not only fun but educational too! Brought to you by the company Mindshapes, say Hola to Lingo Zoo developed especially for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, to help teach your children animal names in Spanish. It’s a great app that will introduce your little ones to written and spoken words through charming animal jigsaws and is suitable for ages 3 to 5 years! Toddlers are more likely to build their knowledge and skills through activities that are fun and engaging and the new Lingo Zoo app has been created following Mindshapes’ ‘Five I’s’ Imaginative, Immersive, Intelligent, Interactive and Intuitive.  
Available now on iTunes under the Educational category, it is priced at just 99p! Bargain for a car journey without boredom! For more information log onto

To continue with the entertainment theme I must mention the fact that Disney has just released both ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast’ on Disney Digital 3D Blu-ray. See these two classics like you’ve never seen them before and bring them to a very real 3D life in the comfort of your own living room. Both with previously unseen DVD extras including ‘behind the scenes’, ‘deleted scenes’ and in the case of ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ the brand new short film ‘Vince’. What a treat for Disney fans and with Christmas creeping steadily towards us (despite what the weather says) the perfect gift for someone you love!

And lastly but not leastly when it comes to the entertainment stakes I am so pleased to announce that the CBeebies Live! ‘Reach for the Stars’ Tour 2012 is going to tour 9 Cities in the UK next Easter! Join Justin Fletcher MBE, Postman Pat with Jess the Cat, The ZingZillas and CBeebies presenters Andy Day, Katy Ashworth and Andrew Agnew in this all action show which will combine big screen video footage and live action. A host of CBeebies favourites including Squiglet and the stars of LazyTown will also be joining in the fun and interacting with the audience for an incredible live experience.
Robbie Rotten is determined to show that he is the biggest star on CBeebies! His dastardly plan involves the capture of the other CBeebies characters and it’s up to the audience to work with PC Plum and the rest of the Stars of CBeebies to find out what has happened and set them free. Action packed and full of surprises, the whole family will enjoy singing along and dancing in the aisles!
CBeebies Live! ‘Reach to the Stars’ will begin its UK wide tour at Wembley Arena on the 31st March 2012 before travelling to a further eight cities. It marks the first CBeebies Live! arena tour since 2008. More than 550, 000 people have attended a CBeebies Live! show to date and CBeebies Live! ‘Reach to the Stars’ promises to be an even bigger spectacular with an all-new show, massive video screen and more audience interaction than ever before!
Tickets will go on sale from Friday 7th October 2011 with the first 5,000 to be sold for just £10 each. Please note that these £10 tickets will be shared across each venue to ensure there is an even allocation.
For tickets or more information about the show visit:

Now if you can’t wait until next year to treat your little ones don’t forget that Peppa Pig is starting her live theatre show ‘Peppa Pig’s Treasure Hunt’ on 13th October where she kicks off her tour in Guildford. Please see the website for the full listings of her tour and for your chance to WIN a family ticket to a show of your choice then please do read on:

Win Family Fun at Peppa Pig’s new theatre tour
Peppa Pig fans will not want to miss this! Rocknrollerbaby and the producers of Peppa Pig’s brand new theatre tour, Peppa Pig’s Treasure Hunt, are delighted to offer 1 lucky winner a family ticket to see the show at the theatre of their choice. For a full tour list please go to A family ticket is for 4 people, minimum 1 adult.
In this new theatre production Peppa Pig and her friends set off on a treasure hunt. Peppa, her brother George and friend Danny Dog get up to fun and games on a day out on Grandad Dog’s boat. There are clues aplenty as Pedro Pony, Polly Parrot and Zoe Zebra help them find their treasure as they all enjoy a day of adventure. Peppa Pig’s Treasure Hunt features true-to-life puppets, perfect sing-along songs and a new story that will charm and delight all her fans. Full sail! Ahoy!
Entrants should state their venue and performance time choice but should note that tickets are subject to availability. No cash alternatives, accommodation or travel are provided in this competition. The tickets are non-transferable.
Peppa Pig’s Treasure Hunt is produced by Fiery Angel and Limelight Productions.
Peppa Pig © Astley Baker Davies Ltd / E1 Entertainment Ltd 2003.
Q:        What’s the name of Peppa Pig’s young brother?
Send your answers to the question above, contact details, venue and time choice to by midnight on 12th October 2011! What a great prize!
This is also the last chance to win a family ticket to the London Dungeons this Halloween. For your chance, and there are two family tickets up for grabs, then read on:
This Halloween the Dungeons in London, Edinburgh, York, Warwick and Blackpool present:
King of Scare . . . Stingy Jack!
15th -31st October
This October the Dungeons delve into the darkest of Halloween legends as the Homes of Halloween present the King of Scare: Stingy Jack.
Condemned by Old Nick himself for his nasty nature, Irish Halloween legend tells how Stingy Jack was doomed to wander the underworld in endless darkness with only a turnip lantern to light his way.
This Halloween, the Dungeons will bring Stingy Jack’s twisted tale to life with live actors and specially created shows designed for maximum Halloween high jinx, where guests will be led deep into the dark myth of Stingy Jack’s curse.
Visitors are warned: prepare for thrills, jumps and scares as this grisly turnip headed ghoul walks prowls the Dungeons’ shadowy corridors ready to pop up and pounce on the unwary.
Dungeon guests will feel the blood freeze in their veins as they edge their way through Stingy Jack’s hell hole of a lair. With shadows, spiders and dusty cobwebs, Stingy Jack’s horrendous hovel is home to an army of staring turnip heads with twisted grins and mocking eyes. . .
For those who survive the Dungeons’ Halloween happenings there’s centuries of horrible history to discover in a host of interactive actor-led live shows and hair-raising rides.
Presenting Britain’s darkest past, the Dungeons are the UK’s most ‘orrible family attractions, suitable for children over ten years old.
The Dungeons’ favourite holiday festival will be celebrated with extended opening hours. Please check for further details. Best prices online. Priority entrance booking available online and recommended during October half term as the Dungeon’s Halloween peak period.
Individual Dungeon activity times and offerings may vary. Please check and for individual Dungeons’ activity details.
Win tickets to the Dungeons this Halloween and meet Stingy Jack …. if you dare! Rocnrollerbaby has two family passes to the Dungeons to give away!
Just answer this simple question: The Dungeons’ Halloween character this year is called …
a) Stringy Jack
b) Stingy Jack
c) Strange Jack
Email your answer, name, venue and date choice by midnight on 12th October for your chance to win!
Well, despite having a lovely time in the garden it has been coupled with an awful lot of sickness this week. It was my sister in law’s birthday meal on Saturday night and I had to actually rush from the table mid dinner to throw up. It just goes to show every pregnancy is different as I certainly didn’t have it this bad last time, I wonder if it’s going to be a boy? I remember last time being quite gutted at every party we attended that I couldn’t drink alcohol, I didn’t drink of course but with Florence I could have quite happily had a drink were it not to affect the baby; this time the mere thought of it turns my stomach and even watching other people drink makes me feel queasy. I’m going to have to buy sea sickness bands if this continues much longer cause it’s been so bad I just can’t cope! One day I came back from the bathroom shaking and feeling faint so I had to lie down on the floor for half an hour. That’s fine if you’re with other people as I was but what will I do if it happens again and when I’m on my own… Pregnancy with a toddler is most certainly not an easy thing at all! I am noticing my lower tummy swell more and more which at ten weeks is a bit shocking really but there we are, that’s how it is! Guess I’m going to have to get my pregnancy clothes out quicker than I thought! At least this time I don’t seem to be spreading everywhere like with Florence! I’m sure half the reason you couldn’t tell I was pregnant with her for such a long time was because I just put on weight evenly everywhere! My skins gone really rubbish this time too! I’ve got spots galore which is so depressing, hopefully they’ll clear up soon and I’ll get that lovely healthy pregnancy glow! I still haven’t been for my blood tests but I’ve pencilled it in for a day next week so I am on it and it will be done before the scan which is due in just over two weeks now – blimey how time flies! I’m so looking forward to getting out of this first bit and moving onto the nice part where people smile at you and your bump, you feel great and yet you’re not so big yet that it’s difficult to get about, roll on second trimester, that’s what I say!
My pregnancy product of the week this time is going to have to be my Verde Natural/Organic Anti-Bacterial Hand Gel. I seem to spend half my life in the bathroom between the weeing and the sickness these days and when I’m out and about I don’t even like to use soap in public toilets, especially when I’m going to hold Florence’s hand 30 seconds later! This gel is brilliant because at 50ml it’s small enough to fit in your hand bag without taking up too much room and it doesn’t have that clinical smell that most hand sanitizers do. This one smells fresh and lovely, doesn’t make me feel sick and a little bit goes a long way! It’s also free from all harmful chemicals making it gentle enough for Florence’s hands too so absolutely perfect for every Mum with a toddler like me! It’s on offer at the moment too so definitely worth snapping up a few! (Usually priced at £6.50 on the Natural Store website it’s got a whopping £2.50 off making it just £4.00!) For more information on this and all their other beautiful products which range from clothes and shoes right through to household products check out their website

So, that’s me for another week; will be back with a proper day out review and not just lazing around in the garden in 7 days time plus I’ll be announcing the winners of my two current competitions so do come back and see if you’re a winner!

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