It’s not just Dora who is an Explorer!

Askamum love my blog, ooo-errr how exciting!)

This week we took a trip to see Dora the Explorer Live and had a most wonderful time! We’d seen Dora on stage at the Lollibop Festival a couple of weeks ago when she was doing some cookery demonstrations and dancing on the main stage and we knew from just those little glimpses that she would be wonderful in her very own show and we weren’t wrong! It doesn’t matter how many times we go to the theatre, it never loses its magic! There’s nothing quite like a live show and I’m thrilled that Florence shares my enthusiasm for live theatre and can enjoy all her favourite characters (from television) on stage where everything is SO much more exciting! I remember as a child being taken by my Mum to see a theatre show of ‘Button Moon’ (a favourite from my era) and I must have been a similar age to Florence now; if I can remember that then she will remember the things we do and I want them to be as exciting as ‘Button Moon’ was for me! Dora just didn’t disappoint at all and if we weren’t singing the theme tune before we went (we were) then we certainly are now!


Us in our seats ready to watch! I had Jimmy and Florence on my lap in the end as it was a shame there were no booster seats. Florence couldn’t see without a bit of a boost so, my knee it was! It didn’t matter as there was ample room and she loved waving her paper star!


Dora the Explorer Live! ‘Search for the City of Lost Toys’ is actually, total enjoyment from start to finish! I often say ‘we’ve’ loved something when in actual fact it’s Florence who has loved it and I’ve loved it because she did. This time, when I say ‘we’ I mean WE! My friend came with her little girl and she felt the same! I can’t quite put my finger on why, but this theatrical display is a total winner with everyone and no one could be more surprised than I! I am, dare I say it, not a fan of ‘Dora the Explorer’ on television. Florence is, I can’t deny that but the programme irritates me somewhat. I find the cheesy American accents wind me up and the pace of it is all just too, well, annoying! I’ve no idea what is different about the stage show but it is and it’s all the better for it! The same format as the TV show is followed, it has the same characters, songs and accents but hey, it’s great, what can I say?! Dora is lovely and her cousin Diego made us all smile with his fantastic moves! Obviously the script is pre recorded but the actors do a wonderful job in their costumes by getting the message across using dance and movement. I thought the costumes were outstandingly well thought out with some kind of spring in the bottom of each shoe to give the characters their bounce; this is especially great for ‘Boots’! There was much audience participation with Dora encouraging the children to wave the FREE paper stars they were given, asking them to get up and jump in order to help them get a bridge to come down and inviting them to sing along and shout out whenever ‘Swiper’ the baddie came on stage! It’s a lovely story following Dora and her friends find their lost toys by making the journey assisted by ‘the Map’ (of course) through pyramids, jungle and finally to the Lost City of Toys. Small and simple things like bubbles being pumped from the ceiling delighted the children and well thought out scenery and back drops (the night-time scenes with stars and the moon are amazing) make it enjoyable for the adults too! All in all a brilliant show, one of the best and even though I’m a traditional girl who would usually favour something with a traditional English feel, this was super and I can’t fault it! When you come out of a theatre with two girls smiling from ear to ear and all the way home then how could you?!


It’s a bit blurry and Florence is half cut out of the picture but here’s the proof! We even got to meet the star of the show afterwards! We’re SO lucky and it was a fab experience!

One more thing I have to say is that although the merchandise is VERY expensive, it is of good quality, in particular the Ty Beanie of Dora! Also, the programme is worth a buy as at the end of the show you can take it home and do all of the activities inside it! Colouring, puzzles etc!

Dora the Explorer Live is being shown at the Apollo Theatre on London’s Shaftesbury Avenue from 28th August – 16th September 2012. Tickets are available exclusively from the Apollo Theatre Box office either in person or by phone on 0844 482 9671. Tickets start at £13.




Donkey parties like its 1999!

After the mega excitement of the Olympics, East London (Where we live and go walking with Le Donk) has felt a little like the day after Boxing Day! The ‘Para’s’ are here now thankfully because it has been a little like waiting for New Year’s Eve in the middle of that strange week in between Christmas and the party. There have been faded ‘Team GB’ banners in the bay windows of the streets and old Jubilee bunting hanging sadly and weathered so it’s super now that they can shine with glory again for this next stage of the games! It’s hard to imagine, after the summer the capital has lived, anything else coming to London and being quite as exciting. A bit like when the Millennium Dome saw the party of the century in with a bang 12 years ago! The Millennium Dome, or the O2 arena as it is now known was THE place to be back on the last day of the year in 1999! Just as with the Olympics I didn’t go, instead having the most exhausting New Year’s Eve ever (apart from that in 2009 when I gave birth of course) racing from dinner party, to pub, to house party, to club! Think I must have just wanted to do it all! But thousands of people did see in the year 2k right here in East London, in the dome and it was widely talked about, reported on and televised becoming a new land mark on the London skyline. Back then, when the party was over, the talk soon turned to what would become of this massively expensive dome that was, well, not really wanted by anyone really? For many years it sat derelict and forlorn with no one to call it home but eventually (after years of wasted tax payer’s money) it has become the venue of choice for rock concerts in our beautiful City. Talk now is what will become of the Olympic site? No one wants it, it was and is going forward, massively expensive but there is a dilemma about what will become of this iconic site? I feel certain that the right thing will be done and it won’t be another ‘dome’. I hope we have learnt from that fiasco and won’t let something which can be a lasting legacy to the Olympics in London rot and suffer. Yes, in years to come it could be resurrected as happened with the dome but I think we should keep it happy as of now. Perhaps it could be a museum and a visual memory of summer 2012? Who knows but whatever happens, as with the dome, it will be a place to see in East London!

Not being able to visit the Olympic site just yet (although I hope Boris can be persuaded for public access soon) I took Donkey to visit the dome as it stands now and as ever when I visit the site, I was in awe of how big it is, amazed at the structure and proud that finally this is no longer a white elephant but a lasting and functional part of London. Le Donk was also very impressed, the whole site is geared up just for buggies like him with smooth surfaces and plenty of room. I was super pleased with the facilities the venue had made for buggies (we were there to see ‘In the Night Garden’ a few weeks back) and all the restaurants and walkways were easy to manoeuvre my 4 wheels. Getting there with the Bugaboo Donkey was also with relative ease as the DLR is mainly accessible for wheel chairs and buggies. I would thoroughly recommend travelling on this service with a buggy, even if it’s a double like Le Donk. It really causes no hassle whatsoever and Donkey, as per normal, made our journey easy and slick!


Here we are outside the dome!


And inside is like being in a Mediterranean resort with wide walkways and ample space for a buggy!


Us with a Haahoo outside the ‘In The Night Garden’ show!

Now onto the Paras! COME ON TEAM GB!


Le Donk is off on a holiday while we’re away too as I will just need a super lightweight single buggy for this holiday. My faithful Donkey will be visiting my sister-in-law who writes the Workitmamma baby blog! She will keep him well and let him look after my nephew for a few Donkey rides in Norfolk while she does a few posts about him to keep him herself! Have a fab vacation Le Donk!

For more information on the ‘Donkey’ and all other ‘Bugaboo’ products please see their website It’s also worth noting that ‘When you choose a ‘Bugaboo’ product (now available in more than 50 countries) you are choosing a company which is a proud (PRODUCT) RED™ partner. ‘Bugaboo’ contributes a portion of its profits across all products – to the Global Fund to help eliminate AIDS in Africa, with the goal of ending mother-to-child HIV transmission by 2015.


Now that the summer holidays are coming to a close we’ll have to find some more exciting things to look forward to or we’ll feel very flat indeed! I’m really pleased then to announce the release of the latest ‘Thomas’ DVD! We love a feature film, especially if it’s about one of our favourite characters and having them on DVD means we can enjoy them again and again! Autumn and winter nights are ahead of us and a snuggle on the sofa with a movie and our little ones could be just the ticket don’t you think! This ‘Thomas & Friends’ DVD special, ‘Blue Mountain Mystery’is to be released on Monday September 23rd (RRP £12.99) and will be a must have for any ‘Tomas’ fan! (I know a few)! With new characters making welcome additions to the crew we know and love I bet you can’t wait to see the Fat Controller sending Thomas  to work at the Blue Mountain Quarry where he spots an engine he’s never seen before trying to hide. Determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, Thomas tracks down and befriends Luke who tells Thomas he’s hiding because he did something that’s so bad he could be sent away from the Island of Sodor forever! Thomas does not believe this and sets off on a journey to discover the story of this poor runaway engine… Sounds good doesn’t it! Well, it is, we’ve seen it and I can vouch for that!


Prior to the release date there will be a celebrity filled ‘Blue Carpet’ West End premiere at Vue Cinema in Leicester Square. Screenings of ‘Blue Mountain Mystery’ will also be shown at 70 big screens in Vue Cinema’s across the country on the weekend of 1st and 2nd September. What a treat for the little one’s that’ll be! Now, we obviously loved the film (even the credits at the beginning are wicked) as I’ve said but find out what one of our best pals and his Mummy think of it! William (age 2 and a half) and his Mummy Charlotte are some of the biggest Thomas fans I know and I can’t think of anyone better to share their thoughts:

‘We thought this ‘Thomas’ film had a really exciting plot and even though some of it went over the little ones heads it meant it was more enjoyable for older children and adults whilst still entertaining for the toddlers. William is a big fan of ‘Thomas’ so noticed that some old favourite characters didn’t make much of an appearance but he still massively enjoyed the new tale and getting to know the new characters too! The music, as always, is great although perhaps not as catchy as in other films but all in all a very enjoyable movie! It’s a long one and for a two and a half year old this means perhaps two sittings are better? It does mean it’s more geared up for older ones and perhaps a family would enjoy watching all together because of the sophistication of this new ‘Thomas’ film; previous ones might have been considered just for babies’?


Follow Thomas’ engine escapades on the brand new ‘Blue Mountain Mystery’ web pages on the Thomas & Friends website You can also keep track of all the latest Thomas news on Facebook or follow @thomasfriendsuk on Twitter.


Thinking of activities and I have to say that Florence really loves to pop her apron on and do a bit of cooking but it’s often quite difficult to accommodate her in our tiny kitchen. When we’re at my Mum’s she can make cakes and have a little table on the kitchen floor with a bowl and my Mum has ample room to assist her but our space is so tiny, if she’s going to help she has to sit on the kitchen side and that means there’s not an awful lot of room to do anything! The actual cooking therefore has to be simple and quick but Florence has lots of grand ideas, is a big fan of beautifully decorated cup cakes and the like and of course doesn’t understand that I don’t really have the skills at the best of times, let alone with a toddler at my heels! This is why, for cooking with Florence, a packet mix for cakes often comes in handy! I know that might sound bad but when it’s literally a ‘just add’ situation then the process is over quickly, Florence is getting to cook and it doesn’t require masses of space!

She often makes little fairy buns but we’ve obviously, as you would expect with packet cakes, not been able to do anything more impressive… Until now! Asda make an absolutely brilliant packet for not just cakes, oh no! But the ever so fashionable ‘cake pops’! I recently googled how to make these cakey lollipops and after a few searches gave up the idea as being waaaaay too hard so I was surprised to see that there is a packet mix and what’s more is requires absolutely no baking whatsoever! The ‘Cake Pop Kit’ which comes from Asda’s ‘Chosen By You’ range costs just £2.98 and contains everything you need to make 6 chocolaty, gooey cake pops including the tray to dry them on! The instructions sounded so good I thought even Jonny could do it so here’s how my guy and our gal got on!


Florence was excited to be cooking with Daddy – Everything you need for the ‘Cake Pops’ comes in the kit



Mix the frosting in with the cake crumbs and stir!



Roll into balls and place on a tray before inserting the sticks and putting in the fridge while you melt the chocolate!


I have to admit here that this is where I stepped into help… and ruined it all! The kit contains some chocolate flavoured buttons to melt which you then dip the cake pops in before dipping them in some gold flake decorations. I said ‘I’ll melt the chocolate’! And I did. Then I over melted the chocolate and it turned to sludge… Oh dear! Luckily we had some more buttons in the fridge but only a tiny pack so when melted it would only cover the top of the cake pops and not the whole thing… My fault entirely, but you know what, they still looked great and we all had fun!


Jonny properly melts chocolate before coating the top of the cake pops and dipping them in the gold flecks!


Me sheepishly trying the end product!

It’s no secret that I’m a massive fan of Asda and it’s definitely worth knowing that their Home Event is on now until 10th September! Save up to 55% across hundreds of home products from cushions to casserole dishes and you can have a brand new ‘home lift’ at very affordable prices indeed. It’s not just in store either but also on line at Asda Direct! So whether you want to re-vamp your whole place or just pick up a few kitchen bits (they have a gorgeous 1ltr red cafetiere for just £5!) then Asda is the place to be, why spend more if you don’t have to?!


Berry Entertaining!


With the holiday nearly upon us now I feel certain that the BlackBerry PlayBook is going to be invaluable! I have been locating places where we can tap into free wireless (luckily our villa is one of them) and Florence can watch CBeebies at the touch of a button! I can’t believe technology has moved on this much? Within minutes, abroad, we will be able to watch television, check our emails, read a book and play games! I have also been down loading activities and games (still free ones at the moment) that we will use on holiday and talk about afterwards on here but there is so much more I will be putting on the PlayBook other than things for Florence! I thought it would be great for entertaining her but actually it’s pretty good at doing the job for the whole family! Really we need one each! Ha!

For Florence as well as the games I have been downloading children’s books both ones with activities like the one I reviewed last week (Perico Pirate) and ones which are traditional stories too!

For Jimmy we will be tapping into free wifi wherever we go and entertaining him with baby TV on the internet. I imagine on the long journey from the airport to our villa this will go down a treat!

Jonny is loving the FREE app Guitar for PlayBook and this is perfect for holidays as well as teaching Florence a bit of guitar! As a musician Jonny misses playing his guitars when on holiday but now he can have a little tinkle without having the hassle of taking a guitar with him!

As for me, I hate to admit it because I always poo pooed the idea in the past but I have downloaded Kobo for free and can read hundreds of books if I so choose! I actually like having a real book in my hands and I was always against this sort of thing but having seen it and realised how lovely the screen is to look at (the light is just good for some reason) and coupled it with not having to take a load of books… Well, I’m sold! There are loads of FREE books to choose from too, pretty good eh!

Well, I’ll tell you all about how we got on using the PlayBook on holiday when we get back but right now I’ve got to go and down load more stuff to take with us!


Just look at this, it’s like being in an actual library! 

For more information on the BlackBerry PlayBook and all BlackBerry products please see



It was great to get to Norwich for the bank holiday and Jonny had the whole weekend off which is rare and a bit of a treat for us but I couldn’t help worrying all the time we were away that what I should really be doing was the washing and packing for when we go on holiday this weekend coming! Oh well, I guess I’ve made the time somewhere as it’s all getting done, eventually! It’s brilliant only having to pack nappies for Jimmy! Nappies are super expensive where we’re going so I’m going to have to take them with me and halving the amount I’ll need by Florence being dry in the day time is superb! There’s an awful lot to think about when going with little ones and the amount of things we need to take, well! It’s a good job we’ve each got a 20kg luggage allowance that’s all I can say! Being a bit of a baby gadget fan I’ve had to really struggle not to just pack everything but I think I’ve finally come up with a selection of things I’ll really need! We’ll be taking things like Mam self sterilising bottles and soothers for the villa (I have found a brilliant way to sterilise dummies when out and about – on the list below) and lots of sun cream (of course!) as well as packing our faithful old Trunki suitcases! (Florence has the Ladybird and I’ve just bought Jimmy the Bumblebee)! I’ve also chosen my top 10 of baby gadgets I think we’re going to need and I’ll let you know how we got on when we get back! Here’s a list of what I envisage are going to be my all new ‘Holiday Must Have Baby Gadgets’!

1) Chicco LiteWay Stroller, £139.99. Florence will do a lot of walking on holiday so I just wanted a very light weight holiday buggy for Jimmy and it had to be suitable from birth. As we all know, I’m a huge buggy snob and hold my hands up to the title but it means that just because I need a light weight stroller, it still has to look good! And perform well! Oh and most importantly be comfy for Jimmy! There’ll be a bit of walking on this holiday, on all different terrains but I think this buggy will be good for it all. I love the fact you can remove the under basket and use it as a back pack! I chose it in black as it looks super sleek; apparently so did Coleen Rooney! And she’s not the only celebrity Chicco fan! Oh no… I’m talking seriously A list when I say that Hollywood actress Sienna Miller has been seen recently with the new I-Move from the brand so I am in very good company indeed! If only it was her figure I shared and not just her taste in baby gear!


2) Mothercare Sleepwalker Travel Cot, £79.99. Love the idea of this one as firstly Jimmy is far too young to be sleeping on a mattress that other babies have slept on but I didn’t want to have to take a massive travel cot with me! This however folds up into a holdall sized package, weighs 5.3kg (that’s includes the bag) and has an inflatable mattress amongst other design features! I thought it would be a great play pen too and can’t wait to try it out! I love the fact this one is also on wheels and can be pulled along behind us!


3) ErgoBaby Carrier BC4S, £78 on Amazon and I’ll be using it with the infant insert, £22.26 on Amazon. I love slings and really and truly I like to have Jimmy in a soft fabric one but in a space-saving endeavour I have chosen to just take the sling I use and love for Florence and take the infant insert for Jimmy, that way we can chop and change who goes in it! I’ve used the sling before but not the insert so we’ll see how we get on… I love this sling with Florence on my back and she used to go on my hip all the time; I use it often but I’ve never used it on my front with a tiny baby… Fingers crossed!


This is what a fan of baby wearing I am! Here I am from a day with Florence on my back in the Ergo and Jimmy on my front in another sling!

4) Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump, £25.48. I’m taking this pump over any other because it is very slim and compact. I’ve tried it out briefly just to see if it works and initial impressions are good. I pump every day for Jimmy and it is vital for my holiday so I definitely wouldn’t be risking this element on a product I didn’t trust!


This is the Lansinoh pump after my pre holiday trial!

5) There will be lots of swimming on holiday so we will be using for Jimmy, the Mothercare Baby Swim Seat, Currently on offer from £15 to just £12! We’ve used this many times in the past and it’s always been great. Florence used it from 6 months but it is suitable from 3 – 12 months! I will not be using this without supervision at all times but I know it was brilliant with Florence so I’m hoping Jimmy will love it too!


Florence at 6 months on holiday in the seat!

6) Florence will be wearing the Zoggs Miss Zoggy Bobin from Mothercare, £27.99. Although I won’t take my eyes off Florence for a second (we had a moment when I did, a split second in the local swimming pool, where she went under for a second and it taught me you can never be too careful) I think I will feel better knowing she is wearing this jacket (even with me watching her like a hawk) and we can use it to give her more confidence as after that experience she is, of course, a little scared. You can remove the individual floats as and when they get more confident in the water and I think this is ideal for our holiday! (available with suitability for ages 2 – 3 or 4 – 5).


We know it fits as we tried it at a friend’s out door birthday party not so long ago!

7) Milton Mini Portable Soother Steriliser, £6.99 from Mothercare. Jimmy has a dummy and although I have become a little laissez-faire about the sterilisation of them of late, I think when abroad I’m going to be on my guard about it. This is an easy way to make sure I never have to compromise and I can pop this steriliser in my bag and take it out with me!


8) Bundle Bean, £29.99. This is a foot muff for the buggy, car seat, bike seat or even front style sling! It can also be unfolded and used as a picnic or play rug! We’re going somewhere which is hot in the day time but can have a bit of a chill at night and if the baby is in the buggy or the sling this will work! I also thought it would be great for playing on in the villa!


A friend using her Bundlebean last year! This first alerted me to its benefits!

9) Bebe Au Lait nursing cover, £27.99. These pretty covers are to hide your modesty whilst feeding and are billed as ‘nursing covers for chic mothers’! I’m not usually one to bother covering up but when in a foreign country I think it’s probably always advisable as I don’t want to offend and different cultures have different expectations! This one is great for hot climates as it’s made with breathable fabric.


10) Snoozeshade Original, £19.99. We’ve tried (and loved) the SnoozeShade Plus, (Which we shall also be taking away) SnoozeShade for Infant Car Seat and SnoozeShade Twin but we’ve not yet tried the original! I’m wondering how it differs from the ‘Plus’ so I’ll let you know what I find! I do know though that last year the ‘Plus’ was my absolute best holiday baby gadget ever and I’d never, ever travel without one! Not only is it a black out blind for the buggy (peeeeeerfecto when trying to dine out with a tired baby) but it shields from the sunshine! They can see out if you undo the zipper at the front which peels away one layer and if they still don’t like to be behind it (as my little one didn’t when awake) then you can position it with the velcro fasteners to cover just one side and effectively replace the parasol which we always find to be a bit useless anyway! This isn’t so much of a desired product as more of a must!


This is us using the ‘Snoozeshade Plus’, it fits on my Bugaboo Bee as shown, Bugaboo Donkey, Umbrella folds… I just hope I like the original as much!

Just one more for luck… We’re travelling extremely early in the morning and it might be very cold. It’s also the first time Florence will have travelled on a plane in a seat of her own so in order to make her feel special, comfortable and just for a little treat I’ve got her a Snooziheadz (£19.99) from Trunki! We love their suitcases as I mentioned above and this super cute pillow and blanket looks great for little ones especially as we’re flying very early in the morning when it will be cold!


Well, as you might have guessed… I’m off on my holidays now so I won’t be posting until I’m back. I think I’m organised and my cousin is moving in to look after the flat and cat so, yep, I think I’m done… See you when I get back! In the meantime follow me on Twitter @rocknrollerbaby

(All opinions and words, apart from those in green, are my own. I have not been paid for this article although I did receive some products to keep after I had reviewed them.)

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