Pinewood Pods at Port Lympne Zoo

On the morning of Sunday the 13th October, we headed to Port Lympne where we were going to spend the next couple of days. Port Lympne Hotel & Reserve is about a 25 minute drive from our home, the perfect sort of distance away for a short break! Here is my review of how our stay went!

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The Accommodation- Our Pod at the Pinewood Pods facility was lovely. It had the room to sleep four, although in doing so- leaving the pod is definitely made a little more difficult. The bedding and towels were clean. The beds were comfortable and we had more than enough tea and coffee bits and bobs to get us through our stay. The Pods are located right next to the Lion and Tiger enclosures and hearing the Lions, especially Daddy Lion ‘Milo’ throughout the night was magical. The Lions have three beautiful cubs that were born about five months ago, staying so close to them was definitely very special!

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The facilities- Despite the Pod being well cleaned, the toilet and shower block was pretty dirty, not only did it not look clean, but it didn’t smell clean either. We checked out the facilities right after check in, so they were not dirty from use- if anything they should have been cleaned and ready for new guests. The extractor fan was thick with dust. The floors had a fine layer of watered down mud. The pedals on the sanitary bins did not work. The access to the toilet and shower block had steps, meaning that even if you were to stay at the accessibility friendly pod, you wouldn’t necessarily have an access friendly stay.

The Staff – The staff at Port Lympne generally seemed very helpful and genuinely happy to be there. The Safari drivers were fantastic and very knowledgeable. The restaurant and shop staff doted on my daughter and were full of praise for her manners.

The Pinewood Restaurant – When staying at the Pod we decided to bring our own bits and bobs for breakfast- juice, croissants and long life milk for F. I am very glad we did, because a basic dinner of hot dogs and chips for three of us, set us back over £35. I cannot imagine how much we would have spent if we’d had to buy all of our meals, snacks and refreshments there- but based on the prices for four meals at the Pinewood Café alone, we’d be looking at around £140 alone.

The Animals- I wholeheartedly believe that Port Lympne is one of the greatest zoos in the country for conservation efforts. This can be seen in their successful attempts at breeding endangered animals such as Lions, Gorillas and Rhinos. The work they have done to reintroduce animals that have been on the brink of extinction is nothing short of amazing- especially in regards to Silverback Gorillas, over 50 of these beautiful and endangered animals have been sent to wild Congo over the years where they are safe and thriving, all thanks to Port Lympne’s conservation and breeding success. The animals all appear happy, healthy and well cared for. The keepers and staff clearly adore the animals that they work with and see on a daily basis.

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The Safari- The Safari as an experience was excellent. Being able to see the animals wander free, without bars or the conventional confines of an enclosure was fantastic. F wanted to go on it three times and still didn’t tire of the whole experience! Some facts given to us by the three different safari drivers varied, for example “We only have one male giraffe here, if we have more than one, they may swing their necks to fight and this can cause a massive amount of damage, injury and distress to the animals and their enclosures” compared to “We have 4(?) females and 3 males in the giraffe house and surrounding enclosure” .. and “African hunting dogs have a success rate of up to 90% unlike other comparable but larger carnivores like tigers or lions who have a success rate of 20 to 40%” compared to “African hunting dogs have a success rate of up to 90% unlike other comparable but larger carnivores like tigers or lions who have a success rate of 30 to 50%” Leaving us wondering what exactly was true and accurate and what wasn’t. We were also quizzed by one driver on F’s age, when other drivers let babies less then six months on board- the inconsistency in safety information was definitely confusing! I also feel that maybe, like with rides at a theme park, it could be beneficial to warn people about how bumpy the safari is, so they can make an informed decision to ride- especially in case they are pregnant, suffer from back / neck complaints, arthritis, complex pain syndromes or heart conditions.

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Accessibility- Some types of accommodation include a Golf Buggy to use at your leisure throughout the park along a Buggy route, our accommodation unfortunately did not include this. We enquired to see if we could maybe hire a Buggy for the duration of our stay but sadly the reserve only ever has enough buggies to cater for users of higher end accommodation. I feel that if additional buggies could be made available, it could really benefit Port Lympne’s guests with additional mobility needs- the park is particularly hilly and access to manual wheelchairs is a nice option, but putting their use to practice seems almost impossible in a park where even pushing a three year old in their stroller was a struggle.

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We enjoyed our stay and really recommend going if you can find a similar experience at the off peak reduced rate. For the full £200 to be worth spending, the toilet and shower facilities need to at least be clean. As a whole, I feel that if I had paid the full £200 for a nights stay, I would have been disappointed, solely based on how dirty the toilet and shower facilities were. However, as I paid the off peak price of £100, I was very pleased with the value of money for two days park access for two adults and a child, a nights stay in a lovely little pod and unlimited rides on the safari- Realistically I would have been happy to pay up to £150 without extras for this experience! I have been visiting Port Lympne for just under 25 years and have never been disappointed- visiting the animals makes learning about them and their habitats super fun and interactive. I grew up visiting this zoo and I am pleased to be doing the same with my daughter as she grows!

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A great day for dinosaur lovers – York Maze review…

Olivia and I have just returned home from a lovely long weekend visiting our family in Yorkshire.

Living in army quarters roughly 200 miles away, and being ridiculously busy with work all the time, means I don’t get to see them as often as I would like, but we did manage a solid 4 days of visiting! As it doesn’t happen very often, we ended up being very, very busy and visiting lots of different places (so expect to see a couple of reviews in the next few weeks!) It became a little mini holiday for us which was really lovely, and I had some precious quality time with Olivia, too.

One of the places we went to was York Maze. We spent about 4 hours there in total as there was so much to do, but some little legs got the better of us. Never have I done so many piggy backs before this weekend! I will probably regret ever demonstrating what a piggy back is, I am sure…

What is York Maze?

It’s a fantastic, fun-filled day out that caters to the entire family. Although I only went with Olivia, who is 3, we could easily have had just as much fun if 9 year old Kiera was with us too.

It isn’t just a maze, but they mazes (plural) are of course the main attractions. Over the years, the maze has been shaped into a number of different characters/features from films/television, including Star Wars, Jurassic Park and Harry Potter. This year, the main maze was Lion King themed. You have 6 checkpoints to get to and answer some themed questions to get the magic word for the end of the maze. Olivia enjoyed shouting the secret word very loudly so that everyone could hear her!

On top of the main maze, there is also a separate Jurassic Park themed maze with 8 dinosaurs inside. Olivia insisted on stroking them all… but on the up side she was also able to name all but one! The spinosaurus evaded us, but there was a helpful list on the way back out naming them all so that you can see if you got them right!

The Jurassic Park maze is much smaller, but the classic theme tune can be heard throughout, and it’s great fun finding the dinosaurs. For my little dino lover, this was perfect!

Is it just a maze?

No, there are so many activities at York Maze aside from just the mazes, which is how we ended up spending so much time there.

As well as the maze, they have a sweetcorn themed obstacle course (which Olivia and I smashed) and meet and greets with the animals. You can hold a snake or a creepy crawly and the owls and reptiles are out for you to meet, too.

Is there much for little ones to do?

Yes! Olivia loved jumping on the popcorn pillow which had split sessions for little ones to jump together without the big kids. That worked really well and was much nicer for the children (and parents) not to worry about any big kids hurting the smaller ones by accident.

What can the big kids do?

There’s a lot of things for the bigger children to get stuck into, too! As well as all of the other activities, there’s a rock climbing wall and an adventure play park that’s suitable for big and little children.

The quiz in the main maze is probably more geared towards older children too, although Olivia still managed to have lots of fun!

Have you ever been to York Maze? Let us know what theme the maze was and whether you enjoyed it!

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10 things to do with the kids in North Hampshire and Surrey

  1. Gruffalo Trail at Alice Holt Forest
  2. Ceramics Cafe Farnham
  3. Gravity Force Trampolining
  4. 360 Play Farnborough
  5. Coral Reef Bracknell
  6. Aldershot Lido
  7. Birdworld
  8. Hampton Court Palace
  9. Chessington World of Adventures
  10. Farnborough Vue

1. Gruffalo Trail at Alice Holt Forest

Alice Holt Forest is situated in the South Downs National Park which spans a vast area covering Hampshire and Surrey. Alice Holt itself is local to Farnham, a mere 15 minute drive from the centre of Aldershot, and is FREE OF CHARGE! That’s right! You can spend the entire day there and the only money you will spend is for parking and petrol.

Alice Holt boasts a fantastic wooden play area, bike hire and trails, walking trails (including the infamous Gruffalo Trail), and GoApe! for the older kids. We have been many times to Alice Holt and never grow tired of it!

2. Ceramics Cafe in Farnham

Whether you have little babies doing handprints on plates or older children, a quiet afternoon of pottery painting is a great way to spend time with the family.

Ceramics Cafe in Farnham is situated less than a 5 minute walk from a large car park (next to Sainsbury’s) and is in the centre of Farnham, which is a beautiful place to visit in itself. There is a £2 session fee on top of anything you paint, and the pottery prices are very reasonable. The staff are always on hand to help, and they will happily cater for parties too!

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3. Gravity Force Trampolining

This fantastic trampoline park in Camberley is where we have spent many a weekend morning!

Gravity Force have a brilliant timetable which caters for all ages, with dedicated sessions for younger jumpers and a family jump session which makes it much easier to have fun with all of the family. We love it there so much that we’ve been annual pass holders since last summer, for the very good price of £8 per month. This park also hosts Gravity Fit sessions and they have a holiday club for older children!

4. 360 Play in Farnborough

This is more than just a soft play… This is an M&S soft play… KIDDING OF COURSE!

But this soft play is really something else. It is absolutely huge for a start, and there are loads of different areas and activities for the children to do. The staff are very safety and security conscious and you have a photo ID card so that they know exactly who is in the building in case of any emergencies or lost kiddies! (Not that we have ever had to seek assistance for this, thank lord!)

360 Play is a hidden gem in Farnborough, just past the Sainsbury’s in the town centre. They have a carousel, a dressing up area, a huge soft play structure for the big kids, and smaller soft plays for toddlers and babies. They have also begun Gymfinity clubs there which are gymnastics and ninja classes for children of all ages – we are trialling those very soon and can’t wait to bring you a review!

5. Coral Reef Waterworld in Bracknell

This one is a bit further afield, but definitely worth the travel! Coral Reef is an amazing indoor water world famous for it’s slides. Again there are lots of different areas in the pool for children of different ages. They often have a professional photographer there too to capture pictures of your babies’ first swims!

Just up the M3 and probably a half an hour / 45 minute drive from Aldershot, this is a brilliant day out for the family. Booking in advance is usually recommended as it can get quite busy, but equally if you arrive for when it opens you won’t end up queuing for too long either.

6. Aldershot Lido

Following on from the swimming theme – Aldershot Lido is a great local day out and a fantastic way to cool off in the summer sun! It’s also relatively close to Aldershot Park so you can combine the fun!

Tickets are half price after 3pm if you don’t get there until later in the day.

7. Birdworld in Farnham

You will drive past Birdworld on the way to Alice Holt Forest – it takes about 10 minutes in the car to get there from Aldershot town centre.

Birdworld often have special exhibits and events on during school holidays, and military families may be able to secure a discount on entry! Speak to your local welfare service if this is you. You also have the opportunity to feed the penguins which is just amazing!

8. Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace is a bit further afield, based in Moseley, but a truly wonderful day out with the family. The Palace itself is magnificent, and the gardens are an extra something special!

Hampton Court Palace’s Magic Garden is a wonderful area for the children, and the Palace itself hosts lots of extra events such as music festivals and outdoor cinemas throughout the summer months!

If you are a member of the Historic Royal Palaces Society you can visit Hampton Court Palace (and the other 5 palaces that are included in that membership) for free, but otherwise tickets are free for under 5s and roughly £10 for children up to 15 and £20 for adults. There is also car parking nearby (just across the road from the main entrance), and the whole palace is quite accessible if you’re having to lug a buggy around with you!

9. Chessington World of Adventures

Again a bit further afield, but where we are we are lucky to be living on the doorstep of this and other incredible theme parks! I would say that without any horrendous traffic we live roughly half an hour away from Chessington, which of course boasts a children’s theme park, a SeaLife centre AND a zoo!

It’s no wonder that many of the families living in Aldershot invest in Merlin passes while we live so close to Chessington and other Merlin attractions. Chessington however is the best one for young families as the rides accommodate a range of age groups. Our tall 9 year old and our only just 3 year old love going to Chessington, and the SeaLife centre and zoo are frequented during the day! The penguins are a particularly great attraction. You can also feed the giraffes and the elephants if you get there at the right time!

10. Farnborough Vue

If the weather isn’t good enough for a full on outdoor day trip, the Vue cinema in Farnborough is a really good way to spend a few hours with the kids without feeling like you’re stuck at home. Farnborough Vue offers any film at any time for £4.99 per person, so even if you’re a big family, you can have a cinema experience without breaking the bank!

This year is set to be a brilliant one for Disney films with Dumbo and Aladdin, Lion King, and Toy Story 4 having already been released, and Frozen 2 due to come out later in the year as well!

Are you local to Aldershot? Would you add any other attractions to the list? Let us know if you have been to any of these listed here!

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Kevin’s-Hub Writing & Number Workbooks review.

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My daughter has been doing incredibly well at her nursery school, just after Easter her hours were increased so that she is now doing THREE whole days a week. We read her a different story every night and she often borrows up to a couple of books a week from her nursery’s library. As her pictures were starting to become recognisable and her speech was rapidly improving and developing, along with her recognition for colours, numbers, shapes and every day objects – I wanted to do all I could to help her learning across all areas.

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Kevin Walker’s series of learning workbooks ‘Kevin’s-Hub’ for kids ages 3-5 seemed like a perfect way to do this. The activities seem perfect for kids in the suggested age bracket. My daughter has only just turned three and so at the moment some of the activities in the booklet are more challenging- but this doesn’t deter her from trying them.

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I LOVE that these workbooks have a handy parent guide with parent tips- that reiterate the importance of not rushing your child when they are trying to work through these pages. I also like that the workbook seems to flow in order of difficulty, meaning that you are always working towards something slightly more advanced- a little like stepping stones.

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She loves using a pencil, following the dot-to-dots to make lines. She loves identifying shapes, numbers, colours and got incredibly excited when she was pointing out everyday objects that had been included in the book. We noticed the certificate at the end and knowing that if she completes the whole book, she can have her little award seems to really drive and encourage her.

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The only area for improvement that I can possibly think of is maybe including a list of tools that could be helpful to use alongside these workbooks- like coins and colouring pencils, as when I first wanted to use them we’d only packed a pencil, which meant if we proceeded we would have gone against the request to work in the book’s learning order. Although these books are challenging for a three year old, they are not in anyway unreachable or unattainable – which makes me think that maybe this workbook may prove to be not challenging enough for all five year olds? I guess that’s the risk of a work book that covers such a wide age range, and if this is the case – I guess the ‘next level up’ workbook could be purchased.

These are fantastic fun for at home extracurricular learning – I definitely recommend using them if you feel like your child would benefit from a little extra learning every now and then! I’d even say that some of the activities in the books are suitable from about two and half if your child is demonstrating wanting to learn more – maybe if they’re used to a nursery setting? At the very least these workbooks boost pencil control confidence, at the best they’re helping your child to develop and learn additional aspects from an early age.

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Review: Chaffree Knickerboxers During Pregnancy

Nothing I have tried has come close to the comfort and support offered by Chaffree Knickerboxers. I was concerned that they wouldn’t be suitable for me because I.m pregnant and they don’t offer maternity sizes but I am pleasantly surprised that at 27 weeks pregnant I am still getting on well with them.

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Let’s be frank here for a second, shall we? Thigh chaffing, the infamous “chub rub”. Most women, regardless of size, know what I mean. I have suffered through it and struggled to find an actual solution to this for years – I’m not much of a skirt/dress wearer and this is probably why.

I have tried chopping the legs off of my tights and leggings and wearing them as shorts but unsurprisingly the bottom of the legs would roll over themselves and make the problem worse.  I have purchased shorts specifically for the job – most notably the flimsy white ones that I bought to try and get through my wedding without catching my dress on fire from the thigh friction. Thank goodness my wedding dress went to the floor and wasn’t figure hugging because I can only describe those shorts as “gigantic bloomers” and they set me back £15 – for only another £3 I could have had a pair off Chaffree Knickerboxers… if only I had known. 

Honestly, nothing I have tried has come close to the comfort and support offered by these Chaffree shorts. I was concerned that they wouldn’t be suitable for me right now because I am hugely pregnant and they don’t offer specific maternity sizes but I have to say, I am pleasantly surprised that at 27 weeks pregnant I am still getting on well with them. I was a size UK 14/16 pre-pregnancy so I got the M/L size to fit UK 16/18/20 and they’re only just getting snug.  As a realist, I predict that this pair probably won’t be comfortable for me right up until the end of my pregnancy at the rate I’m growing, but they are not too tight yet! I’m considering just rolling the waistband down once they become too tight around my ever growing belly.

Inside of the legs/crotch

When the shorts arrived I realised that they have a slim padded section that almost looks like towelling but it is synthetic so I was concerned that I would get very hot in them and sweat but actually the oppposite happened, they kept me very much cool and dry. The main material feels like thick tights to touch but the wizardry that keeps them from riding up or drooping down like tights is impressive. 

I got the ‘long’ leg Knickerboxers, which I thought would be fine as I am not much of a short dress wearer and I worried about them rolling up if they were too short. At 5’3″ (29″ leg) I would say the long is just slightly too long for me unless I am wearing a dress on or below the knee – anything above the knee can flash them a little bit – what I didn’t account for was my dresses appearing shorter after they’ve made their way all the way over my bump!

As far as I can tell these are not intended to be a shapewear garment – they have too much stretch for that – but I have found them to be supportive and flattering. They hold my bump up and take some of the pressure off of my hips and seem to smooth out some of my wobbly bits without being constrictive. 

My one quibble with the product is the use of synthetic fibres and the risk that poses to the environment – if they developed a natural fibre product I wouldn’t hesitate to buy every colour – as it is, I am pleased that one good quality garment is replacing all of  my feeble attempts at comfort. 

What other products have you come to swear by during pregnancy?

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Blue Reef Aquarium, Smuggler’s Adventure and Hastings Castle

annual tickets entitle you to use the Aquarium as well as visit the Smuggler’s Cove and Hastings Castle. We used the Aquarium tickets a few times over the year and a few days before his 3rd birthday we decided to hit all three attractions in one day

For my son’s second birthday my husband an I took him to the Blue Reef Aquarium in Hastings, East Sussex. He loves animals and was really into fish at the time so it was perfect. When we looked at prices we decided to get annual passes because they were very good value for money and our son would get another whole year of free entry.

The annual tickets entitle you to use the Aquarium as well as visit the Smuggler’s Cove and Hastings Castle. We used the Aquarium tickets a few times over the year and  a few days before his 3rd birthday we decided to hit all three attractions in one day along with three more adult family members.

Using our passes we were able to get a further 10% discount on the price of the already discounted “triple” tickets so we were quite pleased with the price of entry to the attractions.

Blue Reef Aquarium

As aquariums go, this one is actually quite small but I feel like it is fairly reflected in the price of a ticket when compared to others like Sea Life. If you want to go somewhere that is a whole day out then this is not for you, but if you’re looking for an enriching morning or afternoon then it’s perfect!

There are several scheduled talks and feedings throughout the day and we were lucky enough to watch a few of them. There is also a reptile section that my son absolutely loves, we got to hold a boa constrictor which was pretty cool. The staff are all friendly and helpful and seem to really care about the animals and the work they are doing which makes a really lovely atmosphere.

The aquarium has a small gift shop, a cafe and accessible toilets with baby changing facilities.

The food and drink in the cafe are pleasant enough and are inline with seaside prices. Sadly, they weren’t able to cater for my son’s allergies but they were apologetic and able to provide allergen information easily at my request. They had no issue with my son eating his packed lunch whilst we all had a coffee.

One thing that I do find quite disappointing about both the cafe and the gift shop is the lack of environmental sustainability. The cafe readily uses plastic cutlery, straws and single use cups and the gift shop sports a whole host of “cheap and cheerful” toys and souvenirs. I would have thought that a place that values marine conservation would have made these changes a long time ago – before mainstream attention.

Overall, we do really enjoy the aquarium and the negatives I have found are easily negated with a bit of preparation. We take food for our son and we take our own cutlery or eat elsewhere and we don’t spend long in the gift shop.

Smugglers Adventure.

Now, I really liked this. It was informative with a touch of humour and a little bit of “creepy” thrown in there. My three year old? Not so much. When we went in, the first thing we did was track down a dark, narrow corridor and into a dark cavern where they projected a ghost onto the wall that was to narrate our entire trip around the caves. Luckily, I had taken our toddler sized sling because he needed to be carried the whole way round after (unsurprisingly) refusing to walk down the first corridor because he couldn’t see.

There were a couple of things in there to make you jump but not badly.  Because of the nature of this attraction, I wouldn’t recommend visiting with a wheelchair or pushchair – being a cave there are some narrow spaces, rough ground and low ceilings to navigate. I imagine it could be done with a lot of coordination and help from the staff and a few sections would get missed, so if you are considering a visit with a wheelchair then make sure you call ahead and arrange it all with the staff and pick a time when it will be quiet. 

There were toilet facilities on site but a little tricky to find in the middle of a tour in a dark cave, if you pass a loo it’s best to use it! The gift shop was fairly similar to the one at the aquarium but less ocean themes and more pirate themed, some of the gifts were slightly better quality. There was no cafe there but there was one a short walk away across the top of the cliff.

Hastings castle

I had no idea what to expect with Hastings castle and I have to say, I was a bit disappointed. I knew it was a ruin but I didn’t think that’s all it would be – especially with a normal ticket price of £5! Luckily, it worked out with the triple ticket the price of entry for us was £1 each. When I have visited other ruins they have been well kept and neat. the hedges trimmed and the grass cut. There are usually plaques with information for every part of the ruin and pictures of what it would have looked like. Hastings Castle seemed to be lacking these, even in the height of peak season. Admittedly, it probably would have been pleasant enough if it hadn’t been raining at the time, but we all felt quite bitter at having trudged, soaking wet, up a hill for… not very much. Even the view across the coast was obscured but overgrown bushes.

There are absolutely no facilities on site, just the ticket office and a small unsightly temporary structure with a screen showing a battle reenactment on loop, large enough perhaps to seat a class of school children. 

Getting there and parking

There are no motorways in East Sussex at all, so you will use a lot of A roads and not all of them give a pleasant ride, leave with plenty of extra time to get there if you’re planning to drive!

There is limited street parking available near(ish) the Smugglers’ cove and Hastings Castle, but being on the top of a cliff, they understandably don’t have their own car parks! Alternatively, you can park on the seafront and use the funicular railway to get up the cliff side. The aquarium is on the seafront surrounded by parking but it is a 10-15 minute walk to the funicular railway from there, there are closer car parks further along the seafront as well.

Hastings is well serviced by public transport, there are a couple of bus routes that will drop you right outside the aquarium and all along the seafront.

Have you been to either of these amazing places in Hastings?

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Oliiki app review

Two members of the Mummykind team with kids at different ages (and a growing baby bump!) were given the opportunity to try out the Oliiki app, an app designed to aid your baby’s brain development from early pregnancy through to 2 years old.

The app itself is free to download, and then you can choose to buy one section at a time or buy all of the content at once, which works out a lot cheaper.

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Maria

I have been testing the pregnancy features of the app as my son is much older than the suggested age for the toddler activities, although I have had a peek through the app at the newborn and toddler pages as well!

Overall I really like the concept of the app, it provides you with a daily activity to aid specific areas of development and explains how/why it works and a link to the scientific study.

During pregnancy it is a little harder to interact with your baby, it encourages a lot of independent activities which is fine if you bought the whole content library at once but I would feel short changed if I had paid for a single trimester at the same cost as 3 months of the more in-depth content for babies and toddlers.

The information in the app is incredibly interesting, the Oliiki team have done an amazing job compiling it all and condensing it down into bitesize chunks. If you love learning and finding out how things work this app is perfect for you. If you are more of a visual learner you might struggle with the lack of images/videos/graphics in the app.

Paige

My daughter is coming up on fifteen months old, so we’re testing out the toddler activities.

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So far we’ve enjoyed using the app as a family. The app offers one activity per day on the homepage, but you are also able to access all activities by age or by subject using the menus at the bottom of the screen. There are some activities for her age that I never would have thought to encourage her to do (such as walking in jelly – big clean up needed!), but my monkey has thoroughly enjoyed them. There are some recommended activities that we’ve been doing long before using Oliiki, but I suppose that is more down to a child’s individual development, and at what stage you started using the app. At the end of completing the activity, a graph appears to show the relevance of the activity to the brain learning areas. This is really interesting, and you can see your child’s overall progress in the user profile area (however, if you’re like us and didn’t start using it until later in your child’s life, the progress won’t be 100% unless you go through and ‘complete’ all the activities for previous months, which is tedious).

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The one thing I would say about this app is that if you’re not a big fan of reading, this may not be the app for you. I love to read, and I find the ‘Science and Research’ section fascinating, especially the ‘find out more’ section, which links to a larger article for further reading. You’d still be able to use the app well if you’re not a fan of this kind of thing, but I feel it would be better suited to parents who want to understand the scientific reasoning behind the activities they are doing with their children.

Overall the Mummykind girls loved this app and were thrilled to review it! Have you used the Oliiki app before? Let us know what you thought in the comments!

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New Bath Time Play Products from Zimpli Kids!

A short while ago we had the opportunity to trial the Gelli Baff and Slime Baff products from Zimpli Kids… Click the thumbnail below to read which was our FAVOURITE!

We’ve now been asked to review some new bath time play products from Zimpli Kids, and have been sent the Unicorn Slime Play, and Glitter Gelli Baff! I absolutely could not wait to try these out. I knew for a fact Olivia would love both of them – though she probably would be slightly biased towards the unicorns…

So, can you guess which was the FIRST one we tried?

Of course, the unicorn slime play!

I was interested to see Olivia’s reaction to this one, as she had definitely been more keen on the Gelli Baff last time. But she absolutely loved this!

I learned from my previous mistakes and DID NOT put this in the bath, instead doing it on a smaller scale messy play sort of level. This allowed the slime to thicken up a lot more and she had some super slime unicorns to play with (every child’s dream, right?)

So, we started off with Olivia reading me the instructions on how to get the Slime Play mixed to optimal consistency.

We sprinkled half of the mixture into this washing up bowl filled with luke warm water. Olivia then got the wooden stirrer out to mix it up!

 

She then very tentatively took over to mixing it up with her hands! This was her reaction when she first touched the slime:

She then got stuck straight in with the unicorns, and of course managed to play with the slime a lot longer than if she had been in the bath! We even invited Kiera (aged 9) and her friend (aged 8) to come and join in, but they weren’t so keen on the slimey texture! Their reactions did give us a good laugh though.

Again this was super easy to get rid of as I simply ran hot water to thin the mixture out, and it simply poured away! No fuss at all. This time Olivia was wearing normal clothes (as opposed to her swimming costume like she had on last time), and yes, they got very slimey! But it all came out in the wash with no problems at all.

All in all I would give this a 10 out of 10 – she had fun playing with the slime for the best part of an hour, and it works really well as a messy play activity as well as just at bath time! Olivia loved it and she got the unicorn toys as an added bonus, making the Unicorn Slime Play one of her new favourite things to play with!

So! Moving onto the Glitter Gelli Baff…

We of course retained the unicorns from the slime play and they were
thoroughly de-slimed, then deployed again in our Glitter Gelli Baff! This time we used the bath, as the Gelli Baff dissolves instantly and is so easy to clean out of the bath, making it mess and hassle-free – a HUGE WIN for any parent!

Check out Mr Unicorn Duck chilling his beans in amongst the Glitter:

Olivia joined in mixing the bath and jumped straight in! The Gelli forms quite quickly, so she had lots of fun picking it up in her hands.

Olivia was excited by the sparkly Gelli as she was mixing it and played in it for a little while.

Unfortunately this Gelli Baff didn’t seem to solidify quite as much as the last time we used it, and I don’t think we had vastly different volumes of water in the bath! Also, once it started forming, the Glitter all sank to the bottom and it was pretty indiscernible from the normal pink Gelli Baff which we had tried before, which was a bit of a shame.

Still very easy to clean, we sprinkled the dissolving powder and rinsed the bath. All Gelli had disappeared from the bath within less than 2 minutes!

Overall, I’d give this one a 6 out of 10.

The product is great, but the Glitter is the main aspect of this particular Gelli Baff and unfortunately there just wasn’t ENOUGH Glitter, as you could no longer see any as soon as the Gelli had formed.

Have you tried either of these products from Zimpli Kids? Which was your favourite?

If you liked this you may enjoy reading…

Child-Friendly Cleaning Advice and Tips for Eco-Friendly Parents

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Cleaning the house is one of those things that just makes you want to pull your hair out!

I know first hand as a mother who works full time and always has about a million and one things to do in the short time that I actually spend at home of an evening!

One thing that has really helped me is getting Olivia involved, even with only tidying up her toys, it allows me to do a daily run around with the hoover and just get a bit done!

Chrissy has put together some more tips to help busy parents with their cleaning schedules, and, not only that, but also tips on how to make your cleaning eco-friendly! I know I for one am particularly terrible at needing cleaning products that probably are quite harmful (honestly, if it smells like lemon, it’s probably in my kitchen somewhere!), so I am especially glad to read these tips for a clean and safe home!

While they might make your home smell like a fresh meadow, cleaning products have actually been shown to be as bad for your lungs as smoking 20 cigarettes a day. Not only are these types of products incredibly dangerous for the health of your family, but they can also be harmful to the environment as they contain dangerous chemicals that spray out into the local air. While this all might sound a little overwhelming, there are actually really easy and cheap ways to give your home a deep clean that won’t cause harm to your family or the rest of your household. 

Keep it Simple

As a parent, especially to a newborn baby or even a toddler, you might fall prey to the age-old desire of wanting to sterilise your entire home to keep them safe. While this is a normal feeling, you’ll actually want to remember one thing: keep it simple. Just as nutritionists recommend eating food with the most simple ingredients possible, experts recommend the same for cleaning products. The same study that revealed just how dangerous cleaning products are also noted that microfibre cloths and water are usually sufficient enough to do the trick. 

DIY All-Natural Cleaning Products

If you need a little more help than mere hot water is providing you with, try lemons. Lemon juice, water, and a little vinegar mixed together are actually enough to lift grease, dissolve any dirt and grime on appliances and even disinfect the surfaces of your home. Vinegar can also help clean certain floors, leather sofas, and even wine glasses. To create an all-purpose cleaner that’s safe on the environment but also smells great and won’t affect your allergies, you’ll want to combine equal parts water and vinegar and add about 20 drops of your favourite essential oil. Shake, spray and enjoy the aroma while also enjoying keeping your air fresh and clean.

    

Pinterest has some amazing DIY cleaning products that are all natural and homemade (and, of course, much better for the environment)! Some of our favourites are these…

Make Cleaning Fun

You’ll be able to reduce the amount of time and products spent cleaning your home if you can clean periodically throughout the week. Waiting until enough dirt, dust, and grime have built up so that it becomes noticeable will require you to use more product to get it off your floors, walls, and appliances. To avoid this, try to make cleaning fun. Set aside about ten to fifteen minutes a day to turn up the music inside your house, take off your shoes, and let the kids run crazy. The catch here is that they can run around, dance and sing at the top of their lungs during this time period, but only if they’re cleaning. If you have especially competitive children, this works great as a game, too. Challenge them to see who can clean the most every day and watch how they take to cleaning as if it’s actually something fun.

A Clean Home Makes a Happy Mum

By making a few simple changes and ensuring you’re always practicing child-safe cleaning, you’ll find that your home is cleaner and your family is healthier. This will result in a very happy mum that can rest assured knowing she’s taking care of her home and family in the best way possible.

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The Top 7 Tag 2019

The Top 7 Tag 2019

Thank you to Vicky at Miss Tilly and Me for tagging us in the top 7 post. You can read her post here, if you like and also find links to other bloggers.  The top 7 tag is all about sharing my favourite 7 blog posts from last year, 7 things that we loved from last year and 7 things that we are looking forward to in 2019. Then at the end of the post, I will tag other bloggers who will then write about their ‘top 7’.

Our Top Blog Posts
  1. 7 Actual Important Things Pregnant Women Need to Know
  2. Group B Strep Aware
  3. Leah’s birth story and postpartum update
  4. Getting your toddler through a cold
  5. Best Moana Party Ideas on Pinterest
  6. Daddykind Corner: Being a dad with PTSD
  7. Get your parenting sh*t together
 
7 Things I Love About Last Year
  1. I completed my Bar Professional Training Course and was called to the Bar!
  2. The blog hit 500,000 page views!
  3. I celebrated my first wedding anniversary (even if the husband was still in Afghanistan!)
  4. We had an incredible Christmas at Disneyland Paris
  5. Jamie came back safely from Afghanistan, despite having to stay out there twice as long as he was supposed to…
  6. Olivia and I had 7 whole months together just the two of us, and, although it was testing at times, it was a really wonderful time for us to bond together 🙂
  7. I FINALLY LEARNED TO DRIVE AND IT HAS BEEN LIFE CHANGING!!!!!!!
 
7 Things To Look Forward To This Year
  1. A wedding anniversary with my husband actually in the country!
  2. Fulfilling all of the dates in the “date diary” I gave my husband for our first anniversary.
  3. Going to see Bon Jovi and Backstreet Boys live in the same week!
  4. Bringing new content and potentially new members to the blog… Watch this space 😉
  5. I started a new job this year which is a great move for our family
  6. Potentially moving house to fit in with the new job!
  7. I’ll have a little niece or nephew (they are finding out on Saturday!) arriving this year

I now tag…
  1. Mrs A – Hooks and Dragons
  2. Franca – A Moment with Franca
  3. Ross – Isablog
  4. Carol – Virtually All Sorts
  5. Bread – Queer Little Family
  6. Sarah – Mum Muddling Through
  7. Nicole – Tales from Mamaville