Hello, today I've got a bit of a different post to my usual days out reviews. North East mam Victoria got in touch with me and asked if I'd like to review her new clothing venture Hugo & Me. I love to support local brands and all the more so when the founders are new parents, so of course it was a yes from us. We were thrilled to receive two gorgeous cream outfits, as I do love to dress my two the same when I can get away with it. Twinning is winning and all that.
Super quick post today as I wanted to get something up whilst South Lakes Safari Zoo was still offering FREE entry. That's right totally free! I know, I thought it might be too good to be true, or be some catch somewhere but there really wasn't.
I'd spotted on Facebook that South Lakes Safari Zoo was offering free admission until the end of December and thought it would make a nice day out for my baby's first birthday. I've never been before and have always been put off by the long drive, but spurred on by the great reviews I'd heard about it in Family Explorers Facebook group (brilliant for getting ideas about places to visit) I thought we'd give it a go during our Christmas break.
On Friday we went to the Northern Stage to see the production of James and the Giant Peach, and it was AMAZING. Really amazing. The staging was spectacular and it was properly funny. We'd been offered two press tickets, but as the show was advertised as being suitable for kids aged 5 and upwards, the toddler and baby were staying at home. I thought it would make a nice night out for my nephews and niece, especially as I don't do anywhere near as much with them now that I'm pre-occupied with my kids, so I bought an extra 3 children's tickets.
The evening performances start at 6pm, and last two hours, including an interval. The kids with us were 13, 11, and 10 and the timings suited us really well. Any earlier and we would have struggled to get there on time with school pick ups. The 8pm finish meant we had enough time to grab something quick to eat afterwards without feeling like we were going to run into the Geordie Shore crowd.
Heads up Gateshead, there is a new pre-school class in town. The team from Piccolo Music have responded to popular demand and now offer classes on the other side of the river, and you can find them every Friday morning at the Winlaton Centre.
Have you been to a Piccolo Music class before? They are different to any other baby groups that I've been to. The class is based around music and movement, and I think the best way to describe it is professional. Professional but relaxed. Confused? Read on, surely I'll make some sense at some point wont I?
Since starting this blog we've had a ball visiting all of the all of the classes and events that we've been lucky enough to invited to. I think today's blog is my most important one to date though, and the one that I'm most grateful that i've had the opportunity to attend. A fortnight ago I went along to a Tumbles and Grumbles baby and child first aid course and it was brilliant. It wasn't until I was sitting in the class contemplating how I would respond if either of my kids were hurt that I realised I literally wouldn't have had a clue about the right thing to to.
In the blog posts I write about the places we've gone to I try and explain our experiences, but not urge people to go to the place we've visited, or book the event we're talking to as who knows if you'll enjoy a kids activity as much we did. Lets face it toddlers can be awkward little things, you might have a completely different time to us. But for this class I would whole-heartedly recommend it. Whilst still in the class I decided that I'd book my husband to go on it too. If you've done first aid before, or if you are someone who has to read or sit in front of a computer to learn then it won't be for you. But if you are someone like me, who has never had any first aid training and gets the most out of learning by watching, doing and asking questions, then I can't imagine anyone going along and not getting something out of it.
Happy almost Halloween! This is the first year that we've really done anything Halloween-y as my toddler has just turned two and half. Obviously I'd used previous years to dress him up for my entertainment, but last year he wasn't really bothered about any events. This year he is starting to take an interest in it, so we thought we'd take advantage of the fact that there is loads to do in the North East over half term and the Halloween weekend. Having seen the great photographs from American Pumpkin Patches I was really intrigued when I saw Brockbushes, the farm shop just outside of Corbridge that we visited during the summer to pick strawberries, was hosting the only Pumpkin Patch in the North East. The information online was quite vague, there was to be a children's performer, some talk of a witch and magic dust, and each child got to pick their own pumpkin. I still had some questions, such as what age range it would suit, and whether 'pick your own pumpkin' actually meant dig it up from the ground, or choose which one from a supermarket carrier bag on the way out, but confident it would be a fun, we booked up.
You can book online, using this link, Brocksbushes Farm Shop and Tea Room or you can call the shop and pay over the phone. There are 4 slots every day, between 22nd and 31st October, at 9:45am, 10:45am, 11:45am, or 12:45pm. Whilst booking is recommended, you can just turn up and pay on the day. If you're doing this, I think it would be worth giving them a call on the morning to make sure there are spaces so you aren't disappointing any little ones if it is fully booked.
When we arrived at Brockbushes we were greated by a witch, in full get up including a very long nose. She was very friendly, had a chat with us and directed us to the counter to collect our tickets. Thanksfully my toddler wasn't frightened of her, I'd been slightly worried he'd be scared, after he had wailed through his visit to see Santa Claus last year, but he was fine. Tickets collected, our mate the witch, directed us through to the outside of the shop where we waited until everyone had gathered and we were asked to follow the witch to her house.
The 'house' was less than a 5 minute walk away, but the ground was very wet and a bit muddy, so I would recommend wellies, and if you have little ones, either carrying them or putting them in a sling rather than attempt to get there with a buggy. The trail up there was marked out with mini ghosts, and witches leading up to a small marquee. We were greeted by another witch who gave us some magic dust which we were told to keep it safe until later.
Once inside the marquee there were some mini picnic tables, only big enough for the kids to sit on, the adults stood near them, and a stage for our host, the good witch. I won't spoil the surprise by telling you exactly what we did, but there was a song or two, with Witchy singing on the microphone and the audience singing back certain parts, a few jokes, and a story which introduced some puppet characters who later joined the stage, and a couple of opportunities for the audience to boo and hiss. There were probably about 12 kids in our group and the marquee was full-ish but didn't feel too packed. The performance was really good. As the marquee was so small, so we were close to the stage it felt pretty relaxed but the witch definitely put on a good show. That part lasted about 20 minutes, which was perfect timing for my toddler, anymore and he would have been getting bored I think (at one point I had to leg it out of the marquee after him as he'd decided he was going back to the 'park' meaning the swing set near the café - but that is toddlers for you, once I'd bundled him back into the marquee he seemed to enjoy all of it.)
After the performance was finished it was time for us to get our pumpkins. I was really looking forward to this, as I could imagine the instagramable photos that I could get in the pumpkin patch. I hadn't been sure if we would be actually picking pumpkins out of the ground, as they do grow fruit there, but as it turned out we did not need to do any digging. The 'patch' was a section of hedgerows which had been covered in hay. The pumpkins had been hidden within the hay, so we all had to spread out, sow our magic dust and find the hidden pumpkins. Whilst it would have been interesting to see pumpkins where they were actually grown and work out how to get them out of the ground, I think for our purposes this way of finding the pumpkins in the hay worked out better for us, as the ground was already quite wet, I think we would have come back filthy if we were digging up the ground. This way meant that my toddler could get properly involved in looking for the pumpkin and I was impressed by the strength in his teany little body when he was able to pick up his pumpkin when he had found it. Thankfully it was dry when we visited. I think that the rain would put a real dampner (can't decide if there was any pun intended there) on our time outside, so hopefully it'll stay dry for the next week or so.
Whilst we weren't getting an entirely authentic pumpkin patch experience as the pumpkins were already dug up, the photograph opportunities certainly didn't disappoint. My baby, still young enough to accept whatever I choose to clothe her in, was actually dressed in girls clothes for once, as opposed to her brothers hand-me-downs, and wearing a little Halloween pumpkin tutu especially for the occasion.
After we'd picked our pumpkins, and I'd got my paparazzi on, having filled my memory card of hundreds of pictures of kids, pumpkins and hay, we said a quick goodbye to the witches, and headed back to the play part of the farm shop, the 'park' that my toddler had been so keen to get back to.
We stayed in the play area for a little while, letting my toddler have a go on the couple of bits of equipment that they have here. This was the first time that I'd seen this outdoor play area, and it was great. Really small, but enough to entertain little ones for a while, if you were popping up to browse the farm shop or to get a coffee.
That was our trip to Brocksbushes over. Having been really well behaved the whole time we were there, my toddler realised the opportunity for public mischief was almost over, so took a bite out of an apple on his way through the farm shop. Realising we had no cash on us we were left contemplating whether they would accept a card payment for a solitary apple. Thankfully my sister-in-law, who had been with us, came to our rescue and bought it for us. Leaving us to counsel the distraught toddler who had thrown himself on the ground in dismay that his beloved and, at that point stolen, apple had to be taken away to be weighed and paid for.
Toddler melt downs aside we had a really lovely day. It was ideal for my toddler's attention span with the whole thing lasting about 50 minutes. I think that it would suit any families with kids up to about the age of 8, older than that and I think that they could well be bored and find it too young for them.
With so many Halloween activities selling out in advance, Brocksbushes pumpkin patch is brilliant as at the time of writing this there was loads of availability. It was definitely Halloween-y but not at all scary, and at £6.50 for a ticket which admits one adult and one child, including a decent sized pumpkin to take home, I think it is really good value. I think the fact that he picked out the pumpkins made it much more special for my toddler than if we'd just bought them from the supermarket. Turns out his pumpkin is very special to him, and at the time of writing this he's tucked up in bed with the pumpkin in the cot with him. He didn't want to go to bed without it, what a weirdo, but a cute one.
I would definitely recommend Brocksbushes pumpkin patch, just don't forget your camera or your wellies.
For more information contact Brocksbushes Farm Shop and Tea Rooms : here or 01434 633 100. Pumpkin Patch sessions are available at 9:45am, 10:45am, 11:45am, 12:45pm every day from 22nd - 31st October 2016.
What do you think of Brocksbushes Pumpkin Patch? What are your Halloween plans? Leave us a comment with any suggestions of other toddler-friendly Halloween events.
Disclosure Policy - We received a complimentary entry to Brocksbushes Pumpkin Patch in return for an honest review. Unsurprising all of the random blabber and chuntering on in this post is my own. See the about us section of this website for the full corporate speak disclosure policy.
This week I was asked if I'd like to come along and try a postnatal yoga class with Cristal Yoga. I actually used to be quite fit, I have run the Great North Run twice, and I could mime along to Jillian Michael's Shred DVD as I'd done it so many times. But that was before children. Since having my second baby, I have promised myself time and time again that I'll do an exercise DVD whilst she naps, go for a run on a weekend, or go swimming when the kids are in bed. Well I have broken all of those promises. I will use any excuse not to do it. The rational part of me knows about all of the endorphins, that I'll feel loads better afterwards etc. But the bit of me that wants to sit on the sofa absentmindedly flicking through instagram always seems to win.
In the past when I've actually managed to keep up with a bit of a fitness routine, I've had the most success with classes, as when I book I feel a responsibility to actually turn up. This class is one where you bring the baby along, so not only can I not use a lack of babysitter as an excuse, but it's also an opportunity to meet up with other mums and have a bit of adult conversation.
Hello, today i'm talking about teeth. About my toddler hating to have his teeth brushed and a gadget that seems like it actually might just help. Once my little boy has eaten the toothpaste, in his mind he is done, as much as I try and coax him he isn't up for brushing any more thoroughly. I take the brush from him, and force him to do it, but it is a big fear of mine that he is going to end up with discoloured and decayed teeth and every time he flashes his knashers it's going to be like a big neon sign showing what a rubbish mother I am. I say a big fear, I guess global warming, raising a juvenile delinquent and Trump getting into power are probably up there too. But I don't think that there is an app out there that can help with those so let's leave them for another post eh?
When the company behind Playbrush got in touch to ask if I'd like to try a new product to encourage kids to brush their teeth, I was all over it. As I read their email I was having flashbacks to when Mr Sprog and I tag teamed the toddler, one of us pinning him down whilst the other one brushed his teeth. It's one of those times when you wonder what on earth being a parent has turned you into, but it's difficult to weigh up whether it's worse to manhandle him into cleaning them or have him stinking out the sandpit with the previous nights chilli breath. We've had some success with a kids electric toothbrush, but parenting guilt is never far away as I think officially they are meant to be much older before they use one and it's also difficult to see how well a job he is doing himself. I LOVE a gadget and will download an app for anything so I was excited to try the Playbrush, and even more excited that I was given an extra one to giveaway to one of you lovely readers.