Could a Motorhome Holiday be Right for your Family?

19.12.20

Over the years we have been lucky enough to have many wonderful experiences and days out as a family. But it's definitely the holidays and trips we have been on that have given us our greatest memories and experiences. Travelling to new and exciting places, experiencing all new sights and attractions, and trying different activities are the kind of memories that will be remembered and cherished for a lifetime. With staycations looking like the more popular option for the next few years, one of the ways to create these family memories is to head out on the road and enjoy a UK motorhome adventure.

Before you go rushing in to purchase your first motorhome suitable for the family, there are some things to consider and be aware of. Hopefully this post will help you if you're looking into purchasing a motorhome for future trips and travels.


Don't Rush to Purchase
The first tip is all about practicing patience. Although you're probably anxious to get a motorhome so you can start enjoying it as a family, there is no reason to rush and end up settling for one that isn't right. Ideally you want to have a list of must-haves and features that you can refer to as you shop around. And remember just because a price looks good, it doesn't always mean it's the best choice to make.

Understand the Different Types of Motorhomes
Did you know that the term motorhome is actually an umbrella term for a variety of different vehicles? The coach-built motorhomes tend to be the more common in the UK and feature a low profile or over cab design. But if you're looking for something really luxe, then the A class motorhomes are typically the way to go. A class motorhomes don't have an attached cab, rather the whole body of the actual motorhome is constructed right on the chassis. 

Stick to a Budget
Once you know what style you're looking for, then it's also wise to decide what sort of budget you are working with. It can be tempting to go a bit over budget, but think how that will affect your monthly expenses, savings, and finances in general. You likely set a budget for a good reason, so it doesn’t make sense to ignore it. There are lots of motorhomes available for a whole range of budgets, you've just got to look for them.

Don't forgot Insurance
Of course, you will also need to get motorhome insurance before taking your new vehicle out on the road. Keep in mind that there are usually different levels of cover that are dependent on the way you use the motorhome and the vehicle type. To make short work of finding the best motorhome insurance, a website like Quotezone can provide you with a list of quotes from the top UK providers. This allows you to not only compare prices, but the type of cover. 

This is a collaborative post.

Gift Ideas for Baby's First Christmas

9.12.20

Can you believe that Christmas is just a few short weeks away? I'm thankfully all done buying gifts for my three, but I know there are many people out there who aren't so prepared. I remember feeling completely lost when it came to Indiana's first Christmas, as buying gifts for little girls isn't something I have ever had to do before. She is now 7 (and I've had two more little ones since), so thought I'd share some helpful ideas if you're looking for a gift for a first Christmas this year.


A Special Keepsake 

Shopping for newborns can seem tricky when you first think about it. What newborn needs a whole stack of toys? But I think this age is perfect for buying those special keepsakes that they will treasure in many years to come. 

You could buy a special bracelet to give to them on their first Christmas. You can then add to this each year until they are 18 and have a whole childhood of memories collected together. Not only is this type of gift extra special, but each charm will contain a memory of Christmas over the years. Wonderful right?

Gift them a special keepsake book that you can enjoy reading now, and well into the future. Make sure to sign it with a special message and the date, so that when they go to read it to their own children they can see just how special it is. Fairytales or nursery rhymes are a good idea, or you could even create a special personalised book where they feature in the story.

A Practical Gift

I know many parents who have chosen to gift practical gifts to their young children. Of course a baby cannot really unwrap gifts properly, and they don't need piles and piles of presents, so this route does make a lot of sense! 

Think of equipment your little one many need over the next few weeks or months and use Christmas as an excuse to buy it now. A highchair, Jumperoo style toy, or even furniture for their nursery - whatever you decide just remember that it's an investment for your child's future.


Toys for them to Enjoy as they Grow

When my three were younger and celebrating their first Christmas (and still to this day actually), I always made sure to buy them gifts that they could enjoy over the year as they grew. They may not be used straight away, but they will be used eventually, and it means you don't have to go out and buy more toys throughout the year.

V-Tech and Leap Frog do a great range of toys that can be used over a large age range. Your little one will probably enjoy the bright lights, colours and sounds at first, but as they get bigger they can use the learning functions. These types of toys are usually got investment pieces too that you can save for future children!

I really hope this post has give you some ideas for your little ones first Christmas. If you're looking for gifts for older ones, why not check out my gift guides that I've created for more inspiration!

This is a collaborative post.

Get your Children Eating More Vegetables with The See & Eat Project

7.12.20

Paid Partnership

Despite all three littles eating anything and everything when we were weaning, getting them to eat certain foods now can be a real struggle. Five year old Parker in particular is incredibly fussy when it comes to meals, especially if they include vegetables that he has decided are 'yucky' or 'sooo gross'. I know that we're not the only parents who struggle though, which is why the See & Eat project was created.

Currently being led by the University of Reading and supported by the British Nutrition Foundation, the See & Eat project has just launched a new website that features a range of evidence-based activities and eBooks. These have been designed to help parents and carers to encourage young children to try - and hopefully enjoy - a wider variety of vegetables. All of the content on the website is available completely free of charge, and is available in English, Italian, Finnish, Polish, Dutch and French to ensure as many people can benefit as possible.




Books are something we introduced at a very early age with our three, and they quickly became a really important part of our daily routine. I know this is the case for many other families too, which is why See & Eat are using eBooks in their project. 24 eBooks have been created based on research that showed that visual familiarity in the form of picture books, can be an effective way to increase a child's willingness to try different vegetables. The interactive books and can be viewed (and even edited to add pictures and audio) using the app Our Story 2, on both a tablet or smartphone under adult supervision. 

I downloaded a range of the books to the app and let the littles decide which ones they wanted to read. Mushrooms are a particular issue in our house, so it was great to go through the book with them and show them where they come from and the different types you can get. The wording is simple and perfect for little ones to understand and Parker especially liked that he could read it himself. I printed off the vegetable colouring sheets from the website too, hoping that by them seeing what they look like, and becoming more familiar with them, it will encourage the littles to be more experimental with there vegetable choices.




Of course reading a book won't create miracles, but they are a great start to introducing different vegetables in a fun and simple way. Getting the conversation going and being positive about different food choices really can make a difference. You can even go one step further and let your little one help in the kitchen; cooking each vegetable you come across in the books or even growing your own in a vegetable garden. You never know what might happen!

The See & Eat project is funded by European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) Food, is being led by Professor Carmel Houston-Price at the University of Reading and is supported by partners including the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF).

Hever Castle at Christmas 2020 - Peter Pan Trail and Christmas Lights | Review

1.12.20


We received press tickets in exchange for this review. All opinions are honest and my own.

After the most amazing visit to Hever Castle back in the summer, we were so excited to be invited back to enjoy their Christmas offerings this year. Of course due to current restrictions there are a few changes to their Christmas event this year, but we still had a great visit and it's really got us into the Christmas spirit!

Tickets to the event have to be pre-booked and are allocated in time-slots to ensure there's a steady flow of guests entering the grounds. We opted to arrive at the earliest 11.30am slot so we could enjoy a full day out at Hever, but there is also the option to purchase just a Twilight ticket - entry to the grounds past 4pm to enjoy the grounds in their full festive glory. 



Christmas at Hever Castle

This year Hever Castle and Gardens has a magical Peter Pan theme for their light trail. Following a one-way route, you wander through the beautiful gardens spotting sights and surprises from the classic tale. You first come across the Darling children's nursery, before flying through space past the second star on the right and straight on until morning!

Once into Neverland (a great photo opportunity) make sure to keep your eyes open for all of the wonderful props from the story. Unfortunately, due to current restrictions there are no live actors throughout the trail as originally planned, but it is still incredibly magical. We went through during the day and then again toward the end of the day when the lights were starting to come on, and all three of the littles said it was their favourite part of the day.






Despite new restrictions, Father Christmas has still managed to make his way to Hever Castle for visits this year. He is outside in the courtyard, where families are brought in one at a time to meet him and gifts are placed down a clever chute for little ones. I think this is a great way to get around distancing rules, and actually might be a better way for shyer children to meet him, as they don't have to get too close!

Of course it's not just the Peter Pan light trail you can enjoy this Christmas. The whole of the Castle and Gardens is decorated with twinkly lights and decorations that come alive as it gets dark. Christmas music can be heard as you enjoy the gardens and the Castle itself is lit up in all it's festive glory too. We enjoyed these during the day, but I can imagine they look incredible during the evening!

What Else is Available to Enjoy this Christmas?

Despite current restrictions Hever have done an incredible job to make your day out as 'normal' as possible. The play areas are both open for little ones to enjoy - queuing systems and time-limited sessions still apply. Hever Gift shop will be open to browse for gifts and Christmas shopping too. The cafes, restaurants and food trucks are all available for takeaway food and drinks, including pizzas, bbq, light bites, and of course those well-needed hot drinks and treats. And of course there's there lake walk and gardens to enjoy at your leisure too.







So if you're local to Hever Castle and Gardens and looking for a festive day out this Christmas, I would 100% recommend a visit. Not only is it a wonderful day out for all the family, it's a perfect way to sprinkle some Christmas magic during these strange times we are in at the moment.

How to Decorate Well for Christmas!

Whether you prefer traditional Christmas decorations, or you are open to investigating a slightly more modern look, the fact remains that decorating for Christmas brings out the child in all of us. The right touches in the right locations, are exactly what you need over Christmas-time to make your house look perfectly festive.


When to put up Christmas decorations?

The short answer to this question, is that you should put them up when you feel like doing so! However, most people feel that any time between Halloween and Christmas is a good time to do so, as the natural flow of the seasonal changes lends itself to the visual change brought about by putting up decorations. 

Christmas decorations are also a great way to transition from the natural colour scheme of autumn, into something cosier and more festive!

Start by Decorating Where People will be

It is said that the kitchen is the heart of the home – so why not start there? It is the ideal place to kick off your decorating spree, as the space naturally lends itself to d├ęcor. For example, a wreath on the kitchen table, or Christmas lights framing the window will really set the tone for a festive start. It could even be as simple as swopping out your regular tea towels for something in a red and green colour scheme.

Because the kitchen is where the food is, you could also use what you already have to create Christmas decorations. Nuts and dried fruit in a bowl create a beautiful, warm focal point. You might even consider baking some cookies that can be specifically used as Christmas tree decorations! Gingerbread always works well around this time of year, or you could make salt dough decorations using your children's handprints for a super personal touch!

What is a Good Amount of Lights?

Again this comes down to a matter of personal preference. What you can imagine, you can do, as long as your budget doesn’t get in the way of the overall vision. The type of lights you go for will also affect your ability to expand your system (or not!). Although many types of Christmas lights are manufactured with adapters at the end of the string, your choice of incandescent or LED lights will be the deciding factor in how many strings you can join. This is because the type of bulb also affects the energy usage within the final product, which in turn impacts the running costs!

Real of Fake Tree?

When it comes to the Christmas tree, you really shouldn’t worry about whether you have a fake tree or a real one. People have their reasons for their preferences, and if you are not up for the maintenance on a real tree, but want all of the Christmas spirit, don’t let anyone talk you out of a plastic tree. Just make sure that you take care to fluff out the branches and arrange them symmetrically, as the tree can end up looking ragged if not. Go for broke by adding ribbons, tinsel, themed cushions and whatever else takes your fancy, to turn your home into a Christmas wonderland!


However much you do (or don't) decorate for the Christmas season, just make sure that you follow your own tastes and dreams. Everyone has their own opinion on what is too much, or what is right and wrong when it comes to festive decorations, but whatever you decide will be just right for you!

Merry Christmas!

This is a collaborative post.

Race with Ryan: Road Trip Deluxe Edition | Review

25.11.20


If you're a parent to a young child, then the name Ryan's Toy Reviews will no doubt be known in your household. Starting with just a YouTube Channel, Ryan and his family have since grown their Ryan's World brand into a whole empire of merchandise, toys and more, including the Race with Ryan: Road Trip racing game which launched last year. They have recently released the Deluxe Edition of the game, which  includes a whole load more of fun for Ryan's World fans, which we received to enjoy.



The Race with Ryan: Road Trip Deluxe Edition is a great introductory racing game for younger players, full of fun and colourful tracks and characters. You can play as Ryan and all of his friends (including 12 new USA-themed drivers), joining them for an American truck tour full of bright colours and exciting larger-than-life themes. The new Deluxe edition of the game features 4 new circuits - the historic Route 66, Ice Land, through the nature of Redwood and then the busy streets of New York. Of course all of the original tracks, racers and features of the Race with Ryan: Road Trip game are still included.

There are two super-fun gameplay modes for the game. If your child wants to just race solo and win all of the races, then the Career Mode is probably best suited for them. And then up to 4 racers can join in with the split-screen race mode - great for competitions and getting the whole family involved. But however your child decides to race there are lots of surprises in store. Throughout the race you can find Ryan's Mystery Eggs to stop the other racers (or give you a boost), such as burger shields, sticky slime, trick surprise eggs and lots more!



The Race with Ryan: Road Trip Deluxe Edition has proved a big hit with my two older children who are 7 and 5. The game has a great tutorial to help introduce new or younger players to the game, and there's also the option to turn on simplified controls to make it that little bit easier too. They loved spotting there favourite Ryan's World characters such as Combo, Gus and Peck, and the new tracks that come with the Deluxe edition meant they had so many different races to complete. 

The Race with Ryan: Road Trip Deluxe Edition is available on PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4 or Xbox One, and is available exclusively to Smyths Toys. Suitable from age 3+, the game is a great first introduction to gaming for young children. The game forms part of a wider range of Ryan's World toys and merchandise that are available. We also received the Ryan's World Combo Panda Mystery Vehicle Playset which is full of surprises and interactive elements, and would definitely be a great accompanying gift alongside the Race with Ryan game!




AD - We received these items in exchange for our review. All opinions are honest and my own.

Stocking Filler Ideas for Children | Christmas 2020

22.11.20

The products featured in this post were sent for inclusion in this gift guide, however all opinions are honest and my own. This post also contains affiliate links.



I am so excited to be talking about all things Christmas again! It's definitely my favourite time of year, and I feel it's especially important to have something to celebrate with everything that has happened this year.  This third and final gift guide is full of stocking filler ideas for children (or even for the grown ups who are young at heart). I hope it gives you some inspiration this holiday season.


Chocolates from Hotel Chocolat



Chocolates are always a 'must-have' in a stocking, and you cannot go wrong with the fantastic selection of luxury cocoa treats (that include less sugar) from Hotel Chocolat. I love the designs on the posse of penguins and waddle of penguins sets - they are almost too adorable to eat (not that this will stop my little ones!). And although not stocking fillers, make sure you are prepared for the countdown to Christmas with Hotel Chocolat's range of advent calendars, available in dark and white chocolate for grown ups too.



Bring the magic of snow into your home without needing to get cold and wet with this fun Buzz Snow from Buzz Retail. Made of a polymer powder, the 'magic snow' looks and feels just like snow when hydrated - but it never melts! It is eco-friendly, non-toxic and safe for children and animals, but do make sure to use under the direct supervision of an adult. Aimed at children aged 4+, Buzz Snow retails at £15.



I love to include practical gifts as stocking fillers too, so these drinks bottles from Klean Kanteen are perfect. Kid Kanteen stainless steel water bottles are made with safe, BPA-free materials, and are much better for the environment than plastic bottles. They are lightweight and super durable (although note that the sports cap are not leakproof, so are more suitable for older children - baby/toddler versions are also available instead). They are available in lots of lovely designs as well as the simple bold colour designs too.

Pass the Pugs



We've all heard of the classic travel game Pass the Pigs, but it's recently had a makeover, with super cute little pugs replacing the pigs. Pass the Pugs is a simple but fun dice game, where the aim of the game is to be the first to get 100 points by throwing your pugs and seeing how they land. Different positions mean different levels of points, so the game really is different every time! The game comes packaged in it's own handy travel case too, making it easy to play at home or on the go. Suitable for children aged 7+.

Buzz Art Sets


If your children are into arts and crafts or home makeovers, then these fun sets from Buzz Arts are perfect for them. The Body Art Action Tattoos set includes 50 fun designs and 6 sparkly glitter colours pots, so you can make a whole array of different deigns and colour combinations. Simply place your chosen design on a clean dry area, hold down for 1-2 minutes and then gently remove the clear film from the top of the sticks - easy! The Chalk-it Hair Colouring Chalk is an easy way to add colour to your hair without any damage or drastic permanent changes. The set comes with 4 different colours and can be used on all hair types - just simply wash hair to remove the product.

Hexbugs JunkBots


New from the Hexbug range are the JunkBots, the super fun surprise unboxing toy. Packaged in a trash can or a dumpster, there are 36 different JunkBots to find - and each piece of 'junk' is interchangeable too, meaning there's even more fun to be had as you make and customise different characters. Your child has to unlock the can and then search through the 'junk' to find the right pieces before building the Bots. The sets are available in 3 different sizes - the Industrial Dumpster contains 4 Bots, the Alley Dumpster contains 2 Bots and the Trash Bin contains 1 Bot. 

Fabelab Dream Friend Toy


A great stocking filler for younger children, these cuddly toys from Fabelab are super sweet and soft. They are made from 100% organic cotton and are available in a whole range of beautiful, simple designs. These cuddly friends would make a great companion for any little girl or boy, and as they are such high quality they would make a great keepsake for the future too. Available from many retailers, including Kiddies Kingdom.

Maped Helix Arts and Crafts


If you have a creative little one, then these sets from Maped Helix would be the perfect choice. For younger children the My First Colouring set is perfect for introducing pens - they are much chunkier so therefore easier for small hands to hold. The Blo Pen Art Set is great for the more advanced creator, although is still very easy to use to make beautiful pieces of art.

Christmas Gift Ideas for Boys | Christmas 2020

19.11.20

The products featured in this post were sent for inclusion in this gift guide, however all opinions are honest and my own. This post also contains affiliate links.



I am so excited to be talking about all things Christmas again! It's definitely my favourite time of year, and I feel it's especially important to have something to celebrate with everything that has happened this year. I am sharing 3 gift guides this year, and this second guide focuses on gift ideas for boys aged 2 and up.

Family Games are always a big winner in our house - Parker would play them all day if he could! So of course I had to include some new games in my guide this year.

Sketchy


Perfect for a family games night, Sketchy is all about quick drawings and simple pictures so your team mates can easily guess what they are! One player picks a card at random and slots it into the 'Sketchyscreen', they then have 30 seconds to sketch 6 simple pictures so their team members can guess. The unique part of the game is that when the Sketcher draws on one side, the team can see it appear on the other side. Suitable for ages 8+, the game retails at £20 and is available at most good toy retailers.

Windy Knickers



A fun game for little ones aged 4+, the aim of Windy Knickers is to hang out all of your washing before your team mates do, or before a storm hits and granny loses her clothes in the tornado! The rules are really  simple and easy for a young child to pick up, making it a great addition to the games cupboard. Windy Knickers retails at £20 and is available at most good toy retailers.

The Floor is Lava


I'm sure like many others, our children have been playing The Floor is Lava with sofa cushions for a long time now. But introducing the game to save your furniture! The box contains everything you need to turn any floor into a play space for the game, including challenge cards to make the game even more difficult. Aimed at children aged 5+, the game retails at £15.

Stomp Rocket Junior Glow



A perfect gift for little ones with bundles of energy, the Stomp Rocket Junior Glow will provide hours on entertainment and fun. It is lightweight and easily portable, so easy to use out and about (or simply in the garden if you are lucky to have enough space). The rocket kit comes with 4 foam rockets that can soar up to 100ft into the air if the stomper creates a big enough jump, and the extra special part of this design is that the rockets glow in the dark too! Suitable for ages 3+, this kit retails at £12.99.

Techy Gifts from Buzz Toys


If your child is into his tech, then this selection of gifts from Buzz Toys will be perfect for them this Christmas. The Air Ball is a floating football that can be played on most surfaces (wooden floor, laminate, marble and even thin carpet). A great way of playing football indoors in a safe way, without any damage to the house - especially perfect now the weather has changed! The Wall Racer is a gravity defying car that can be driven up the walls and even onto the ceiling with just a flick of a switch. Aimed at children aged 8+, the car charges directly from the remote and can provide hours of fun. A perfect gift for gadget-mad boys would be a mini drones. Buzz Toys has both the Micro Jet and the Thunder Glow - the Micro Jet is a small size plane that can fly vertically at 3 different speeds, and the Thunder Glow is a medium sized drone with LED lights all around it.

Puzzles Cars



I remember my younger siblings having these Puzzle Vehicle Tracks when they were younger, so it's so lovely to see they are still around as I know my three will love them! The set contains 16 pieces the can be combined in different ways to make up to 50 different track combinations. This set is based on the City of London and features some iconic landmarks, along with a bright red London bus and accessories to play with.



John Deere is a recognisable name, so it's lovely to see they now have a toy brand alongside so wannabe farmers of the future can play. The Build-a-Buddy Bonnie set contains a tractor and trailer that can be taken apart and then put back together with the included screwdriver. The toy also features free rolling wheels so is perfect for free car play too! The best bit about the range is that the parts are interchangeable between sets, so there's hours of fun to be had if you have the whole collection (or even with just the one). Suitable for ages 3+ and available from most good toy retailers.

Victoria's Torton Tales Book Collection



Books always make a fantastic Christmas gift, and this range called Victoria's Torton Tales are so lovely. All of the steam engines in the range are based on real-life engines, and Victoria herself is actually owned by Wendy Wakelin, the author of the books! The are currently 4 stories in the range, that tell the tales of Victoria and her fun travels, as well as a fun and colourful Learn to Count version too. With engaging stories and beautiful illustrations, they would make the perfect gift for train-mad little ones this Christmas.

Oribel Vertiplay Wooden Wall Toys



This version of the wooden wall toy is a fun click-clack style track. Your little one can pop the caterpillar at the top, and watch him zig-zag down the track and interact with the included accessories. Vertiplay toys stick on most vertical surfaces, so are perfect for younger children who are learning to stand, or for smaller play spaces, as they increase play area with a more unique interactive experience. Don't worry about mess though, as it's easy to attach with the included self-adhesive backing (which is also removable and reusable). A great engaging toy for little ones aged 2+, available from many retailers, including Kiddies Kingdom.