Category Archives: Reviews

Mud and Bloom children’s gardening and nature box review

** Disclosure – In return for writing this honest review I was provided with 2 months subscription boxes to Mud & Bloom**

Throughout January and February we have been exploring and enjoying the  Mud & Bloom children’s gardening and nature subscription boxes. Read more to find out how you can get 50% off a Mud & Bloom subscription box.

For more about what Mud & Bloom boxes are, read this taken from the Mud & Bloom website;

“The boxes are for 3-8 year old’s and will be delivered through your letterbox at the beginning of each month.

Each box includes everything you need for two seasonal activities: one gardening and one nature craft – along with instructions, quizzes and games aimed at teaching children about the seasons, plants, insects, birds, soil and rainfall.

Activities have been created by qualified teachers and they support the national curriculum with influence from Forest School, Steiner and Montessori education.”

The founder of Mud & Bloom, Anja, is a mother herself and totally in tune with the kind of crafting activities 3-8 year olds would enjoy. What I love initially about the boxes is that they fit through the letterbox so no hassle.

Like what you hear so far? If you would like 50% off a Mud & Bloom subscription box, enter the code below at the checkout. This code expires 15th March 2018! So hurry!

GORGEOUSGEORGE

 

Mud and Bloom

When our boxes arrived, George loved collecting them from the doormat and then excitedly unpacking them whilst I explained the activities we would be doing and what the supplies provided would be used for. Having read other reviews, I know some people like to crack on and do all the activities in the box within a short space of time.

But for us we like to have varied and busy days with a mixture of planned and free play activities. I loved having the Mud & Bloom box as a go to . To fill some quiet time when George (who is 3 years old) seemed restless and in need of some guidance in his play.

Mud and Bloom

Over the last two months we’ve grown edible sprouting seeds and learnt how they contain different nutrients in their varying states. George was able to use a sieve and muslin to rinse the seeds, before filling a jar with water using a jug. I helped seal it with an elastic band and change the water daily. He didn’t want to taste any of the seeds in the end but we still had fun watching them grow.

 

Mud and Bloom

We also made a twig raft which was perfect for my stick hoarding child. This child gets so excited when he sees sticks and twigs and we have quite a selection at home. I set about turning them into a raft using string included in our box. Whilst this was a task that involved more participation from me than G but I actually never realised how simple it was to create a raft so I’m eager to try it on a larger scale now.

It was this particular fact sheet that prompted me to feedback to Anja that I believe the factsheets could be improved with more illustrations and fewer words as secretly I’m still a child at heart and I’m all about the pictures. I understand instructions a lot more in visual rather than written form. These boxes are a work in progress and she is ever improving them.

But by far our favourite crafty task was the pebble painting. This is so on trend right now and little dude loved it (as did I…massively). Checkout our insta to see my fab likeness of our cat Sockies painted onto a pebble.

Mud and Bloom

The Mud & Bloom subscription boxes get you outside bird watching, hunting for freshly blooming flowers of the season, and make use of all those collections from mother nature that kids seem to be unable to resist bringing home. Stones, twigs, you now have a productive use for them all.

Finally I’d like to share with you a poem I wrote to summarise how we felt about Mud & Bloom subscription boxes. We are most definitely signing up for more. At £7.95 a month, inclusive of postage and packing, these more than prove their worth. And remember, you can cancel or skip your subscription at any time.

Mud and bloom’s box of tricks

Will keep your child’s attention fixed

Full of things to make and grow

Crafting, learning as they go

It’s time to go and hunt supplies

Pebbles, twigs and more to find

Whilst you’re out, take your list

To check off flowers and birds in your midst

For budding green fingers,

Mud and bloom has  you need

Inside their boxes

Guides, peat and seeds

Subscribe to get your treat

Then through your letterbox you will greet

Your monthly box of things to do

Lots of fun for your child and you.

Remember…If you would like 50% off a Mud & Bloom subscription box, visit Mud and Bloom enter the code below at the checkout. This code expires 15th March 2018! So hurry!

GORGEOUSGEORGE

Thanks for reading. Until next time…..

Bluestone Wales – Winter Lights – January 2018

**Disclosure – I was invited to Bluestone Wales for a midweek break  in return for this honest review. All opinions are my own. This does not affect the integrity of this post.**


This post is about the magical, chilled, friendly, chilled, welcoming, adventurous, did I mention chilled? 5 days we spent at Bluestone National Park Resort .

BluestoneCheck-In

We arrived around 2:30pm on the Monday and checked in whilst still in our car. A traffic light style system calls you up to the check in window where the staff handed us a welcome pack with our entry key cards and premium wifi code that hubby had purchased, along with a copy of the Village Voice. We parked up and headed straight to the golf buggy hire as this was also the nearest loo’s and nature was a’calling. I’ll talk more about the golf buggies later.

Before I could finish in the loo, hubs had completed the gold buggy pickup so we thought we’d take it for a test spin on a mini tour of the site. We located our lodge which we would be able to access at 4:30pm (or 3pm for other lodge types). You are allowed to bring your car onsite to unload and load up on check in and checkout day but otherwise it must be stored in the car park.

George was loving the golf buggy but we felt after the long journey he needed to stretch his legs in the treehouse play area. The treehouses are fab for children of all ages to explore and overlook the newly refurbished adventure playground which was colourful, clean and great quality. It was lovely to see families congregate here whilst the little ones ran round dizzily deciding what to play on next.

Bluestone

Accomodation

We were staying in a Caldey Lodge in Bartholomew rise not far from the lake. Our two bedroom lodge came complete with an open plan kitchen, diner, lounge with tall ceilings to add to the feel of space. There were french doors which opened onto a patio area with picnic table and bike rack. Off of this lounge area was the twin and master double side by side with the bathroom with shower and large heated towel rail.

The lodge was comfy, cosy and the heating worked a treat.  What struck me most was the high quality of everything. Heavy, solid wood furniture in the bedroom and dining area. Strong and decent cooking and kitchen utensils which were all well kept and sparkling clean. It felt like a home from home. (It was actually better than my home!)

Bluestone

Having had spinal surgery when I was a teen, I’m pretty fussy about the beds I sleep in. Don’t get me wrong, I can sleep anytime anywhere,but if I don’t sleep in the right bed then my body can suffer for days. At home we have a half sprung/half memory foam mattress with a feather down topper. It’s my ideal bed and sadly I always miss it when we are on holiday. Bluestone’s mattresses however were absolute bliss. Due to having a toddler that likes me to be near, I spent time in both the twin bed and the double and both were equally comfortable. I literally could have stayed in their beds all day ( if I wasn’t being dragged out at 6am by George every morning)

Getting around

A unique perk of Bluestone is the ability to be able to hire a golf buggy for either a day or the duration of your stay.The golf buggy is a great novelty and it helps a lot with a toddler in tow. Our trusty steed for the week was number 77 Lili-Mai and we had great fun taking it in turns to whizz round on her.

A warmer time of year we might be tempted to walk more or hire bicycles and trailers but we are so glad that we had the golf buggy as a semi refuge from the rain. It meant we could get from A to B quicker without turning up drenched. Little tip: take extra towels/tea towels for wiping the seat dry which (thanks to Welsh weather) you may find yourself doing half a dozen times a day.

You can also take your own bikes and there’s also guest transport to help you get around the resort with designated bus stops. If I am honest though, the site was not as vast as I’d  expected. It’s easily walkable and only marginally hilly in some places. The paths are continually being maintained, with staff filling in puddles and holes with gravel on a regular basis.

Top tip – if you aren’t from Wales, make your peace with the weather before you visit. We went expecting nothing but rain so that anything else would be a bonus. Plus, Rainbows!

Bluestone

Food and Drink

This is mine and hubs favourite part of holidays. We love eating out and trying different eating establishments so we wanted to ensure we tried as many of the onsite restaurants and cafes as possible.

In the end the only places we did NOT try were:-

  • The Knight’s Tavern which I popped in to use the toilets and the atmosphere was pleasant and very similar to that of a pub that serves food. It’s the lower end of the budget of the restaurants onsite.
  • The Oaktree restaurant which is a pizza / pasta restaurant but on the first night George wanted to be in the lodge so we got takeaway chip shop food from…..
  • The Chippy which was nice but I have had better and the staff there lacked a welcoming persona. The fried halloumi is worth a try.
  • Farmhouse grill – The second time we planned on visiting the Oaktree we actually changed our minds as we couldn’t resist returning to the Farmhouse Grill for the second night in a row. I’d recommend booking a table here to ensure you get seated. You can tell it’s freshly made using top notch ingredients. To quote their menu;

Using quality local ingredients to instil a sense a place

Staff are so attentive. Hubs was massively impressed on our second night when someone accidentally smashed a glass at their table and before you barely heard the smash there were already two members of staff dashing to the table with a mop and broom.

Checkout piccies of what we had below.

BluestoneBluestone

The children’s menu is fab and is a world away from the typical chicken nuggets and chips but still appealing to children. The ‘kids platter’ was such a perfect dinner for him with so many of his favourites.

Bluestone

  • We also ate twice in the Ty Coffi cafe. Once for a breakfast, (they do a mean beans on toast which went down a storm with George) and their panini’s are great too. There was so much more we could have tried. It was often very busy in there so they definitely could do with a few more staff as the ones there seemed rushed off their feet which meant they didn’t really have time for ‘service with a smile’. t didn’t prevent us from returning though. Their hot chocolates and sausage sandwich are the best way to warm up after a hike through the vast forest.
  • Bluestone also have a cafe, Caffi Môr, within the spa which I sadly didn’t try, along with a camp style rustic woodland diner which wasn’t open for the season of our stay.

Bluestone

Things to do

There’s such a vast timetable of activities to do at Bluestone, from shadow  puppet shows to baby yoga and massage, 4×4 safari driver experience round a track or a host of tree top activities at the steep ravine. 

Explore the forest

We chose to check out the Winter lights enchanted walk in daylight and continue on into the forest where we squelched through mud and then washed our boots in the stream. The forest towards the steep ravine is full of really tall, narrow trees, which when the wind blows creates a creaking noise as the trees all knock together. We enjoyed standing still for a while and listening to this noise, before pretending the trees were going to come crashing down and racing up the hill. George loved this game and natures own sound effects added to the feel.

Bluestone

 

Adventure playground

We also spent a fair amount of time playing at the playground which we nicknamed the Teletubbies playground due to the green hill feature.

Bluestone

Family shows

We tried the shadow puppet show which was great and the village hall decor is magical. It involved participation and dancing from the kiddies rather than a sit and watch puppet show.

If booking via the website you can find a brief description for each activity but I didn’t use this, preferring to book at the booking office after we got a feel for our surroundings. The show was great and top marks for the effort put in by the staff. Bluestone

Swimming

When we had enough of being outside we visited the Blue Lagoon swimming pool. They have  something for everyone. Slides, wave machine, pirate ship spray area, lazy river taking you outside and an enclosed baby and toddler splash zone where balls float on the water, they can explore walking round an artificial rock pool, squirting gadgets and basketball. This area has a lockable gate to prevent little ones wandering off towards danger.

The Blue lagoon is also open to the public but it wasn’t overly busy when we went mid morning (residents only) and there was room for everyone. There are also designated photo points where you can use your camera without capturing unknowing suspects in your shot.

Adventure centre

The adventure has something for all ages and brings the fun inside. The under 5’s circus zone is completely in another area of the building and features a bright, clean and colourful soft play area, mini ride on car on a track, giant building blocks, and baby gym and balance equipment.

The large main area of the adventure centre downstairs contains masses of wooden climbing frames in a tree house style. Some reaching up the ceiling easily 20 feet in the air. There are free ride on trikes available and a bouncy castle, help yourself to a game of mini golf or play some games at the amusement arcade. There’s also a mechanical digger to dig a large pit of sandy stones and bookable wall climbing for adults and children alike. A mezzanine platform allows you to grab a coffee from the Wildwood cafe whilst the madness ensues downstairs.

Bluestone

Seasonal dinner show

On our final night there we’d booked ourselves into Merlin’s Magical Dinner show. This was in the Wildwood Cafe situated in the adventure centre. Here we had a set menu of roast dinner and desert. This was brought up on a big serving plate to our table where we helped ourselves. Meanwhile the staff were extremely attentive, asking if we needed any more potatoes, gravy etc.

Bluestone

Before and after dinner the staff entertained us by putting on a show in the areas around our tables. There was magic, music, comedy and some audience participation from the children too. This really was an unforgettable dinner experience.

Winter lights parade

The dinner experience over, we all wrapped up warm ready to march in the parade through the site. The parade was led by a 12 foot Merlin wizard whilst a member of staff banged a drum and encouraged us through the cold, night with chanting and singing. The children ran and flashed torches and various items they had made at bookable groups that week.

We all gathered in the courtyard at the Knights tavern where the staff and Merlin took to the balcony to guide us as we watched the light how featured in my video below. They then sang into the evening whilst  the crowd sang and danced along. It felt like such a wonderful community vibe and no one was in a hurry to be anywhere.

Check Out my youtube video to see more of the light show

My verdict

People tried to warn me I would be cold in Wales but I didn’t anticipate HOW cold. I lived in 3 layers all week. I’d defo buy thermal undies if visiting in Winter again.

Having said that, our stay has totally changed my outlook on going out in bad weather. I’ve never been too fussed as I’m a football supporter but Bluestone has really cemented the ideal that whatever the weather, fun can be had.

Hubs and I have already said we would love to return in the summer, maybe with friends or family. I think travelling from Essex is aa long way for a mid week break so I’d prefer 7 days in future. I’d love to checkout the local sites and beaches too as we didn;t leave the resort this stay.

This is a place where you can return again and again and never tire as every activity differs. I’d also love to try one of the upside living lodges, offering fab views of the Welsh countryside.

If you like the sound of a stay at Bluestone, checkout prices and availability on their website http://www.bluestonewales.com/

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

CLOSED **Giveaway**- In The Night Garden LIVE tickets

This post gives you the opportunity to WIN tickets to the live show of In The Night Garden.

** Disclosure- In return for bringing you this competition, I myself have been provided with tickets to the show**

If you haven’t heard of the In The Night Garden Live show then checkout their website here for more details.

The shows are live this Summer (2018). There is a choice of two live shows, lasting just under an hour each, giving you the opportunity to  see Igglepiggle, Upsy Daisy and Makka Pakka brought to life. The shows are a mix of projections, puppets and characters in costume and take place in a specially designed dome.

Night garden
Image provided and permitted coutesy of the team at In The Night Garden Live

Image courtesy of the team at https://www.nightgardenlive.com

Taken from the In The Night Garden Live website ;-

In the Ninky Nonk show, Igglepiggle loses his blanket and all his friends help him find it.

In the Pinky Ponk show, Makka Pakka washes everyone’s faces, until his sponge gets stuck in Upsy Daisy’s megaphone!

All the characters appear in both shows, and both are equally popular. The stories are not linked. So you don’t need to see both, and you can see them in any order. 

The dome is designed with tiered seating so that everyone gets the same fab view.

Night garden
Image provided and permitted courtesy of the team at In the Night Garden Live

 

If you would like to enter the competition and you are using a smartphone or tablet, checkout the link at the bottom of the page.

Otherwise, desktop users can enter using the link to the right of the screen                                                            

Entries must be submitted before January 21st 2018 so you haven’t got long!

Best of luck 💋🤞

 

Our visit to Kidtropolis 2017 kids event – October half term

** Disclosure – I was provided with tickets to attend this event in return for a pre-event post ( See here). We had such a fab time, I wanted to share our day with you all. All opinions expressed are my own.**

October was pretty cool and memorable. Having started preschool in September, we had our first official school holidays in October half term. George previously went to a private nursery where they remained open all year long. Having joined the preschool attached to his (hopefully) future school, they break up when the rest of the school does.

I wanted to have some fun activities to do together for our first half term. A quick search on google and I came across an event called Kidtropolis. You may have read my pre-event post here. I contacted them requesting tickets to the event in return for a review and I am proud to say they were the first event to accept a pitch from myself.

As a gal and a mama who loves a schedule (never go on holiday with me if you hate schedules), I love that the entire Kidtropolis week is scheduled from start to finish, slot by slot. In order to help you choose which day to attend, you decide which days have the activities and shows which would most interest you and book from there. The sessions are 4.5hours and booking includes two live shows.

kids

We chose to attend the Monday am. The first day of the event. We booked car parking at London’s ExCel centre in advance as this worked out cheaper than us paying rail fare from outside of London. There is more than ample parking available. The directions from the car park to the dedicated hall for the event could have been a little better and more organised but as it was day one we may have been the guinea pigs. Entry was quick and hassle free and we were in before we knew it.

There were ample food outlets accessible within the ExCel as well as food and drink within the event. We chose to get an ice cream and bottled drinks from the ice cream van within the venue. The ice cream was really unique. Like a whippy but soooooo delectably creamy. Best whippy ever!After the event we went for burger and chips at The Bridge Burgers and Dogs. Toilets were easily accessible too.

Back to the event, we had a map to guide us around the event but to be honest it wasn’t ridiculously huge. It wasn’t overly busy either so we able to flit from stall to stall briefly and then return to the things that interested us and that I had marked on my schedule. A schedule is fine in principle but obviously nowadays it has to pass the toddler look and judge test. If George doesn’t like the look of it and there’s not persuading him then we have to move on. Thankfully we managed to do everything we had intended, once George had relaxed and warmed to his surroundings.

kids

Our opening show of Peppa Pig live was really disappointing. They were running late and to be honest it was some random guy called david reading two stories from a book whilst a dressed up Peppa and George character stood on the stage. They didn’t even play the credit music until the end of the show. Thankfully things got much, much better. It was literally the first show, at the start of the first day, I’ll allow the organisers one blip.

The second show we had booked for the end of the 4.5 hour session was Marvin’s magic and it was truly wonderful The kids and adults all loved it and we picked up a prop for sale to start George on his quest as a magician. Watch out Dynamo.

kids

The rest of the day was so much fun. Genuinely! Having read reviews of previous years Kidtropolis events, there were many, many complaints of long queues and unhappy children. I saw nothing of the sort this year. Obviously I can only comment for the Monday am but we had a fab experience and I fully intend to return again and again. I think the biggest and possibly only queue I saw all day was for the inflatable assault course which George wasn’t interested in.

There were quite a few activities, shows and bits and pieces that are much more suited for the older kids. Learning how to be a vlogger from the child pro vloggers, Flawless dance zone, Kids fun radio, Tomy lightseekers which I’ve heard is very up and coming.

There were also many areas which George and ourselves don’t have much interest in yet. There really was something for everyone. Lorax, Minions, Star Wars, Drone flying, Minecraft GWR record attempt, springless trampolines and so much more.

George loved the Tomy games area where he was plied with free biscuits and enjoyed trying out some more classic board games with one of the stallholders who was dressed as a character from the game.

Kids

I’d promised him an air walker balloon. Having embarrassingly surprised hubs with one of these being delivered to his work one valentines I felt it was time to introduce the wonders of Balloon walkers to the Georgeous. We were so impressed with the dinosaur we purchased at £5 with a free helium balloon thrown in.

kids

Crazy golf is always a winner and George was more interested in making sure we did this over anything else.

Kids

He really enjoyed the Geomag stall playing with a variety of magnetic building parts. As did we and we bought something similar for his birthday.

Kids

He was a little shy to meet Chase from Paw Patrol but I know he would have regretted it if he didn’t.

kids

But George’s  favourite activity without a doubt was riding the balance bikes and ramps at the Bikertots stall. Followed by watching the professional Bike stunt show which left him in awe. We have since become visitors of the local skate/bike park. We have a little BMX dude on our hands I feel and this event was probably the first time I have seen him confidently go off and do an activity without one of us by his side. He still wanted Daddy close on occasions as it was a noisy venue but this is definitely up his street. They are a great franchise club, helping children learn to ride a bike.

Kids

George was also really, really taken (much to Mummy’s dismay as she heard her purse getting emptier) by Sylvanian families. He was besotted. Just look at the admiration for this well made classic childrens toy. He also enjoyed looking at the Aquabeads selection, including this epic bridge sculpture. Despite declaring “I want that” every time he sees it on the tele (who else’s kids does this a million times a week!)  up close he in fact did NOT “want that”.

Kids

The highlight of my day was meeting my own childhood idols, the characters from Rainbow. Bungle was there but as I said to Zippy,

“Nobody liked Bungle anyway.”

Speaking to Zippy, the guy behind the puppet had been in charge of him since 1973! I was completely starstruck. I even introduced George to how my mornings as a three year old used to be by getting up some episodes on You tube. Classic!

Kids

Did you attend Kidtropolis this year or previous years? What were your thoughts? Would you go back?

Huge thanks to Emily who organised the tickets for us.

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Afternoon tea and cocktails at The Royal Hotel Southend – A review

Image photo taken by Kate at The Less-Refined Mind

** I’d like to disclose that I was plied with copious amounts of delicious food and alcohol in return for this honest review. This neither affects the integrity of the post or the honest opinions held within it**

Recently, as you may have seen if you follow me on social media, I attended my first ever bloggers event. An Essex bloggers event no less. As bloggers events go, I’d say the bar has been set pretty high with this one. The event consisted of welcome drinks, followed by afternoon tea, finished up with cocktails in the secret Dr Legba’s downstairs bar.

I’ll explain each part of the afternoon in more detail shortly, but first, let’s kick this review off in my typical fashion with a poem. An ode to the Royal Hotel, which by the way is no longer a hotel. Enjoy!

Once upon a time there was a Southend Hotel,

Frequented by Lady Hamilton and her Admiral Nelson as well

No stranger to a noble figure or two

This Royal Hotel soon became unused. 

 

Then along came two brothers

Called Matt and Dave

This run down Hotel

They wanted to save

 

So along with their Dad they set to work. 

To make this old hotel a restaurant and bar with quirk. 

Prepared for hard work they rolled up their sleeves

Making the Royal Hotel a place you never want to leave.

 

Their vision achieved they opened their doors

To a place that is to be truly adored. 

The food is divine, the cocktails unique

The flaming absinthe on tap is a fascinating treat

I hope you enjoyed that and it has got you wanting to know more, so here goes. Despite the name, The Royal Hotel is now a restaurant and bar contained within a grade 2 listed building and for that reason the name cannot be changed. On arrival, I was welcomed warmly and greeted by Matthew, the director of The Royal Hotel. The surroundings felt comfortable, clean, plush, but not poncey. Ornaments and lamps from Debenhams make the place feel homely and welcoming as do the staff.

royal hotel

I was offered a glass of The Bees Knees sparkling pink rose wine. This is alcohol free fermented grape juice with a green tea infusion. It’s a fab alternative to wine. I’ve since found this can be purchased at Ocado and Morrisons so I shall be treating myself often as this stuff was delicious.

Soon we were escorted by the fabulously entertaining and thoroughly informative Jonathan. He made sure our glasses were filled with prosecco whilst informing us all about the history of The Royal Hotel. Built in 1791, it became a regular haunt for Lady Hamilton. The mistress of Admiral Horatio Nelson, who had a dinner party and ball in the very grand hall in which we sat. Months after the supper, he was killed during the battle of Trafalgar. The building hasn’t been used as a hotel since 1974.

Royal hotel

The building still bears the original chandeliers, dance floor and coving which have been lovingly restored. The rest of the building has been refurbished and is unrecognisable from how brothers Matt and Dave and their Dad found it when they took over.

The food was truly amazing. My personal preference would be the Gentleman’s afternoon tea. My favourites being the mini beef burger, ham hock and welsh rarebit croque monsieur, miniature cider jelly, and the millionaires shortbread was just incredible.

A list of the menu’s can be found on their website here https://www.royalhotelsouthend.com/

Royal hotel

Completely stuffed and feeling guilty for all the food I couldn’t fit in my belly, I then proceeded downstairs to the secret Dr Legba’s cocktail bar. I’m a huge fan of a cocktail but I was such a cocktail chav before Dr Legba’s. Woo woo’s, Cosmopolitan’s blah blah blah. Dr Legba’s will introduce you to flavours and tastes you never thought you would experience in a drink.

There are over 50 cocktails on the menu, a third of which have been created by Dave, who is a former head bar trainer at The London Cocktail club. One of my absolute favs, one of his own creations, is the Pork and Apple martini, served with a flaming absinthe caramelised bacon.

Royal hotel
Image courtesy of Lynsey Garrick at http://ladygogo84.blogspot.co.uk/?m=0

Dave created this using sour apple liqueur, Absolut vodka, pressed apple juice and fresh lime. It was truly so sweet and to coin one of my favourite phrases

It was like sex in a martini glass! Yum!

You have to visit just to try this, and I might add the flaming absinthe caramelised bacon is not just for show. You will have never tasted bacon like it! Although the menu varies from night to night, they are all to happy to make cocktails at your request should they not be on the menu the night you visit.

Royal Hotel
Image courtesy of Hannah Cornish at www.hannatalks.com

Dave has put so much work into making this bar a unique and magical place. Using as many reclaimed materials as possible, he created his own absinthe dispenser as well as painstakingly gluing over £170 worth of 2 pence pieces to the vertical bar front. He still has much in the pipeline, including a commissioned piece of art depicting the absinthe fairy. The artwork will shortly be adorned to the hidden door leading to the loos. He also has plans to have circus style mirrors in the toilets and to eventually make the bar buzzer entry only, with the buzzer being hidden under a secret fairy door. You’ll be pleased to hear Dr Legba’s can also be hired for private functions.

I could literally rave about The Royal Hotel for many hundreds more words but I’ll tell you about one last special feature. Both The Royal Hotel and Dr Legba’s stock Dalmore whiskey. The gentleman’s afternoon teas can be complemented with a whisky platter of Dalmore 12 year whisky, 15 year whisky and cigar malt reserve. Dalmore are rather particular about who stock their whisky and they personally place the sale at venues chosen themselves.

Royal hotel

Huge thanks to Matt, Dave, Jonathan and everyone that made my afternoon wonderful. I look forward to visiting again very soon and bringing family and friends.

Shoutout to a few fellow bloggers who helped with some of the images featured in this post. Also shoutout to the lovely fellow bloggers I met and had fun with at this event.

The Diary of New Freedom by Lynsey Garrick

The Less-Refined Mind – By Kate Tunstall

Hanna Talks by Hanna Cornish

and to these  fellow blogging ladies for helping me

Danielle at Escaping Essex

Laura at Life by Laura

Sam at Beautifie

And finally thank you for organising Penny at A Penny for Them

Until next time……

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Hair care review Frezyderm UK – finding a child friendly styling gel

So our dude is nearly three in a couple of months. He’s always had floppy long hair. Not ponytail long, but long enough to run your fingers through. I’m reluctant to shave it as  it retains his baby quality. Although I’m not the type to go on about how I wish they would stop growing up so fast.

So dudes latest hair cut was actually at the barbers and he had a little shave at the sides. They kept the top long and floppy and styled it with a slick of gel. This looked cool. He felt like a big grown up boy which is all important now he has started preschool.

I wasn’t sure though. I loved the look but it felt too harsh using such products. He’s still only two. Plus as soon as he got a bit sweaty the gel just made him look like a greasy mess.

I made it my mission to find a child friendly hair gel. Well I didn’t get very far if I’m completely honest. I found a few detangling sprays but that’s not what I wanted. Then my sister in law pointed out Frezyderm to me.

Frezyderm UK  is a family owned and trusted dermocosmetic brand. Their motto being;

Inspired by you

Established in 1986 in Greece, they offer premium skincare and hair care solutions for all ages and skin types. Their products strive to meet strict pharmaceutical standards and they are fast becoming the go to brand for dermatologists across the globe. Living in the society that we do where by allergies and sensitivities are more prevalent than ever, Frezyderm will no doubt be a such a life changer for so many. You can find more on their products here https://www.frezyderm.co.uk/

Although George doesn’t suffer with any allergies or sensitive skin, Frezyderm fitted perfectly with my desire for a gentle hair styling range. I contacted them and asked to kindly try some of their kids haircare range in return for a review post on my blog. (There’s the disclosure right there, wink). As always I promise my review is completely my own honest opinion and my integrity has remained.

Although none of our family suffer with allergies or sensitive skin so I cannot comment on that aspect of whether the products caused any less irritation than others.

The price of these products is a little higher than a lot of brands, however they are very specialised and I know that the free from allergens ranges very often tend to cost more than brands which contain “nasties”.

I have always assumed you are paying for the research and dedication that has gone into ensuring the product won’t cause you or your child unnecessary irritation or harm. Obviously everyone’s skin is different so there’s no guarantee of anything but I’d recommend you try them yourself if you or a member of your household does suffer. Frezyderm could be your saviour.

Something I felt was worth highlighting is the branding. Frezyderm subtlety brand their kids haircare range boys with a star and girls with a flower. I know that gender stereotyping and branding is a hot topic right now. I feel, as I said, that their branding is very subtle but I did feel the need to ask Frezyderm what the difference is. This was their response;

“The two sensitive kids shampoo boys and girls have an equivalent structure of composition having as a first priority the safety and the effectiveness. But, the shampoo for girls offers an enhanced detangling effect because of the girls’ long hair.”

This seems completely logical and I think it mirrors other brands that produce different haircare products for men and women.

Hair

So that’s my take on the shampoo and styling gel we tried from Frezyderm. In true Gorgeous George’s Mama fashion I felt it apt to write a poem about this fab find. I know mama’s of children with sensitive skin and I really hope this leads them to finding some fab and friendly products for their daily routine.

Our children’s skin is delicate

Some more than the rest

When it comes to keeping them clean

We only want the best

No nasties to make them scratch or wince

Frezyderm is their friend

To make your child all clean and fresh 

You’ll love this stuff no end

They may not have a perfumed smell

No soap or silicones

No allergens as well

If gluten doesn’t like you too

Then these products are definitely for you 

So why Frezyderm I hear you think

Look no further than your child at the sink

Next time they need to get themselves clean

Frezyderm will work a dream

The shampoo creates a wonderful lather

It won’t sting their eyes if some slips in after

The hair gel really does the trick

On mama’s hair too and it doesn’t stick. 

It holds just how you’d like it to

Without making your fingers feel like glue. 

I’ll stop the gushing and just say

In return for some products I’ll send people Frezyderm’s way

But only because I truly like

The way their gel helps dudes hair to spike

My search for child friendly hair gel ends right here. 

And I’ve also found a way for you to bathe your child without fear. 

Fear of flare ups and discomfort may now come to an end

If you give Frezyderm a try and maybe recommend a friend. 

Until next time………………

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Giveaway (*CLOSED*) Review – Nick Cope’s collection of songs for all the family. 

We are hugely excited here at Gorgeous George’s mama to be reviewing these wonderful CD’s and DVD’s by Nick Cope. We also have two signed copies of Nick’s Cope’s, “A Round of Applause for the Dinosaurs” to giveaway. A collection of songs for all the family.

This is our first ever giveaway so this is kind of a big deal for us and we are very grateful to Nick for providing us with the CD’s for this giveaway. Enter at the end of this post for your chance to win.

So how did Nick and his fabulous tunes come into our life? I am always on the lookout for child friendly, educational apps for George to enjoy on our smart devices. This is where we came across Hopster. Hopster claims to;

“Help kids learn through the content they love”

With the ability to stream some of their favourite television shows, discover books, music and lullabies, Hopster is a safe and varied app. We decided to unlock everything this app has to offer by signing up to the £3.99 monthly subscription.

By selecting the music gramophone flower, or the music area wheel you will find a section dedicated to Nick Cope. From here I decided to find out some more info on this musical mastermind. Someone who had created music for kids but with parents sanity in mind. The songs have a sometimes comical and often thoughtful edge, and are as catchy for kids and grownups alike. Nick also has a soft and calming voice. Unlike the typical shrill women type, belting out cheesy nursery rhymes that we have become accustomed to.

Nick sings about all the cool stuff that kids really wanna sing about. Bums, poo, burps dinosaurs, ants and pirates to mention but a few. Anyone that knows me knows I love anything related to poo. Nick’s CD’s are great to listen to and sing along with in the car or at home. Many of the songs also have well illustrated, quirky videos. You can find these on Nick’s website or Youtube channel and by also by purchasing The Nick Cope Show DVD here http://www.nickcope.co.uk/ Or indeed via the Hopster app where we discovered him.

Two of my favourite of Nick’s tunes are The baby’s done a poo! and the opening tune to the Cd up for grabs, I’m a little Lizard. With lines like;

“……the baby’s done a poo, the baby’s done a poo, it’s not a bog surprise cos that’s what babies do”

and

“….the sand is too hot, so i’m standing on a rock, i’m a little lizard and I’m standing on a rock”

…you can’t resist the urge to sing along. The DVD also has a singalong option.

Another personal favourite is “I don’t wanna do that”. This song summarises toddler parenting perfectly. It doesn’t matter what his mother suggest he does, the little boy doesn’t want to do it for the most seemingly irrational reasons and what ifs. I’m sure many mums and dads can relate to this. It also warms my heart how the song ends. You will have to visit Nick’s site or the hopster app to find out how it ends.

“Don’t stamp on an ant” also appeals to the crazy earth mother inside of me. I jokingly accused my step dad of massacring whole families in recent years when I witnessed him doing what many of us have. The dreaded kettle of boiling water on an ants nest. I just envisage ants running screaming everywhere as ant wives see their ant husbands boiled alive in front of them and ant children run screaming. Welcome to my overactive imagination. This song supports my theory wonderfully though. Thanks Nick. We are all indeed just getting by on this little planet.

Here’s a little about Nick:-

“Nick Cope is the indie-surrealist kids’ entertainer Robyn Hitchcock and Syd Barrett, foolishly distracted by cult status, never were.’ Stewart Lee 2016

Nick Cope is a professional singer and songwriter, and has over 20 years of experience in music, including international success as lead singer and songwriter with The Candyskins in the 1990s. 

He now writes and records music for children and has established a fanatical army of little people and their parents, from all over the world.  Nick performs all over the UK at all the major art and music festivals including Edinburgh fringe and Book festival, Hay and Cheltenham literary festival and hundreds of theatre and arts centres. He regularly spends the summer performing at (to name a few) Wilderness, Somersault, Camp Bestival , Cornbury ,Wychwood , End Of The Road and travels to Hong Kong each year to the Clockenflap festival. 

What George thought;

nick cope

On the morning we collected the CD’s I popped them straight on in the car. Before the first verse of “I’m a little Lizard” had played out, hubs was already singing along, second guessing the words. They are that easily to follow and sing along to. It wasn’t long before I was singing along too. George was giving us both the dubious face as he wondered what we had both had sprinkled on our cornflakes. I think he recognised the songs from the app and wondered how they were being played out of the car speakers.

On returning home I put on the DVD. When he saw the illustrated videos I think he identified with the songs better and was mesmerised from start to finish. Dubiously eyeing me as I again sang and bopped along. He’s not one for audience participation much is our George but when I asked him if he enjoyed it his response was;

“Yeah”

Perhaps he is destined to be just like his father…a man of few words. Unlike Mummy who has enough words for all of us though and doesn’t allow anyone else a word in edgeways.

Click the link below if you would like to win a copy of Nick’s family friendly CD, “A Round of Applause for the Dinosaurs” . The first three options are mandatory. All other options will increase your chances of winning.

You can catch Nick next at the Edinburgh Fringe

Terms & Conditions:

  • No purchase necessary.
  • The Prize is ONE signed copy of Nick Cope’s CD ” A Round of Applause for the Dinosaurs.”
  • The prize is non transferable with no cash alternative.
  • The competition opens at 12am on Friday 21st July 2017 and closes at 12am on Monday 7th August 2017.
  • Entries are limited to UK participants only and you must be over 18.
  • The competition is run via Rafflecopter and TWO winners will be chosen at random.
  • The winner will be informed within 24 hours.
  • The winner should respond within 28 days with details for postage. A new winner will have to be chosen in the event of there being no response.
  • By entering this giveaway you are accepting these terms and conditions.

Disclaimer: We were provided with Nick Cope’s CD’s and DVD in return for this honest review. All opinions are our own.

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Listed on Competition Database – a huge source of uk competitions!

– Find more competitions at http://www.competitiondatabase.co.uk

‘Good Bubble’ Bathtime range – a poetic review

The Georgeous has reached that age, the grand old age of two and half. The age at which playing with his toys is everything. Not a moment can be spared for anything else. Eating, bathing, getting ready to go out to his favourite phonics class. It’s all a distraction in his mind, to drive him away from his precious toys.

We have found a way to draw him away for a  few vital minutes to allow us to occasionally leave the house and to stop for mealtimes. Bath time however is a struggle. He actually loves a bath. It’s a place where he has another array of toys which he can only play with at bath time. Once he is in there he loves it and needs convincing to get out. So when I was invited to review some fun and friendly bathtime products by https://www.goodbubble.co.uk/ I couldn’t resist.

 

A bath said mum with a tired old sigh,

A bath for whom? Said mini Sir, not I!

Indeed mini sir, a bath for you,

To rid you of smells like sweat and like poo.

But I don’t want a bath, said mini Sir.

I want to play with my cars first.

But this is a new bath, explained mama dear,

With bubbles of cloudberry to clean out those ears.

And magical hair wash containing fruits of the dragon

To clean and detangle, what’s the worst that could happen?

And as surely was promised, the cloud bubbles grew,

Mama scooped them all up and gently she blew.

The cloud bubbles floated, as soft as they are,

Whilst mini Sir squealed in delight, forgetting all about cars.

His hair was then washed with the fruits of the dragon,

As mama reached for the comb, would you believe what had happened!

The tangles were gone and good fun had been had.

With “Good Bubble” products, bath time isn’t so bad.

Silicone, paraben and PEG free,

No artificial colours or nasties you see.

With ingredients sourced from mostly natural sources,

It’s not tested on creatures likes rabbits, or horses.

Vegan friendly and  great value too.

Pop down to your local store and buy a few.

We’d like to thank Good Bubble for letting us try and review,

So we could share their fabulousness with all of you.

All opinions included are simply our own.

They make mini Sir happy to bathe instead of to moan.

Until next time…….

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Illumibowl Motion activated toilet night light review

*This post is our honest review of the Illumibowl toilet night light. I was provided with this product in return for this review. All opinions are my own.*

Those that know me, know that I like to be nothing if not unique. Add to this the fact that I am most definitely a lover of toilet talk, and you get the perfect accompaniment between product and reviewer. I’ve grown up with Dad’s farting at the dinner table and somehow the conversation always turns to poo. At my last job, I was well known throughout the department for choosing poo as my favourite topic of conversation.

I came across the Illumibowl on Facebook after seeing an advert. The pictures showed me everything I needed to know. When I saw the opportunity come up to review this fabulous item, I couldn’t wait to get started.

Illumibowl

Having a 2.5 year old, I’m still woken at least once in the night to comfort him. This in turn usually awakens my bladder also. Up until now, I’ve always just peed in the dark to try and avoid waking myself up too much. Well not anymore!

Now when I make my night time visit to the loo, I am greeted by an array of eight colours. Glowing warmly from my toilet bowl, it feels little strange when I take a seat and still have a glow coming out from the seat edges. It’s a welcome glow, a “you didn’t just walk in here blind” glow.

My cat’s litter tray is also on the entrance to bathroom. One of my cats has issues with his poos and can sometimes carry them out of the tray. I have been known to step in these in the dark and get back into bed with my foot carrying some cat poop. Hopefully this is the end to this yukky practice.

The illumibowl fits easily onto the edge of your toilet bowl in much the same way as a toilet freshener. The only difference being that the box part stays on the outside. With the slim arm sitting on the inside holding the light, and lighting up your toilet bowl when you enter the room. The Illumibowl is sensor activated so you have to fit it facing the bathroom entrance to get the best from it. The arm is adequate at holding the device securely to the toilet bowl. The light will only activate when it is dark. It is powered by three AAA batteries.

Unfortunately for us, our toilet faces the bathroom door. This means I’ve had to fit it at the front of the toilet. Not a problem for me. My husband worries that it will quickly get pee on the light. You can easily clean the Illumibowl with a damp cloth, as per the instructions.

The light settings can be easily set to one favourite colour or rotate between red, orange, blue, green, a lighter shade of blue,purple, dark pink and light pink. I think my favourites are the pinks, blues and green. 

Illumibowl

Now for the company themselves. Any company that makes a product to prettify your toilet bowl has got to be pretty cool right?! It appears from there website that they are also working on a complementing product in America called the Illumisink. You guessed it, Illumisink lights up the tap where the water comes out. After all, we all know it’s good hygiene to wash our hands after using the loo. What a fab duo.

If you would like to order an Illumibowl motion-activated toilet night light, visit their website here https://illumibowl.co.uk/ Whilst visiting their website, I’d recommend also checking out their fab potty training tips and my personal favourite, potty humour. There are some great jokes on toilet humour. The potty training tips are very timely as we just entering that stage with George.

Our overall household opinion is;

Me: This is such a fabulous product that I have to try and stop myself getting so excited that I wake up too much. It’s like a mini gentle disco whilst I pee.

Hubbie: He’s just worried he’s gonna piss on it. But it’s not the company’s fault our toilet is located where it is (his words).

George: (He’s not likely to see it until winter as he is sound asleep by the time it gets dark due to the time of year.) But I know this will be invaluable once he starts properly potty training and getting up in the night to use the loo. Hubs may actually find me and George hosting our own bathroom disco in the middle of the night.

Cats: They are probably thinking what the f***, but it lights up their bathroom experience too, so it’s win win.

My advice. Buy one. You won’t regret it. Give your friends and family toilet envy.

Everyone soooo knows what they are getting for Christmas from me now

Until next time…..

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Ponies, Pub friends and Peppa Pig – A New Forest Holiday.

We have recently returned from a 4 night holiday to the New Forest. If I were to summarise our experience in short then ponies, pub friends and Peppa Pig are just a few of the things that made our stay there wonderful.

I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Oh great! Another mummy review about a holiday I couldn’t give a shit about!” But after regularly updating my personal Facebook page and also posting photos on instagram, I had lots of questions coming from people. They wanted to know what I thought of places we visited, where we were, so even if there is a small minority want to read this crap, then my possibly arthritic fingers have ached for nothing. (Big cheesy grin and a thumbs up from me.)

Our decision to book a break in the New Forest stemmed from a desire to take George (now 2 and half years) to Peppa Pig world before he completely lost interest in it altogether. If I’m honest I was feeling pretty hyperactive about it myself.

The New Forest really doesn’t describe itself very well. It’s actually a really, really old forest, decades in fact. But what it isn’t telling you is that it is one of the largest unenclosed pasture lands in the south east. Largest what what of a where now? Well basically it means that once you cross that cattle grid, it’s hello free roaming animals! Nothing can prepare you for the surreal beauty of this place!

Being my typical research freak self, I began looking for places to stay late last year and stumbled across an adventure packed holiday camp called Sandyballs. I checked that this wasn’t some sort of swingers camp, (have I ever told you about the time my 18 year old self and hubs accidentally found ourselves on the nudist beach at Brighton!)After confirming that everyone would be fully clothed and no car keys would be swapped, I subscribed to their mailing list.

Sidenote: I have no problem with swinging if that’s your chocolate cake. Each to their own. I just wouldn’t book that type of resort for a toddler friendly holiday. Let’s still be friends yeah.

new forest ponies

Just before New Years, they had a flash sale offering 15% off of the booking price. As a result, I managed to book us a comfort caravan on the site for £207 for 4 nights. When looking at hotels in the local area that offer 2 nights at Peppa Pig world (Paultons Park) and one night in their hotel, it equated to almost the same price and you would still be 18-30 miles away from the theme park!

Although the Sandyballs booking didn’t include the Peppa Pig tickets, these are £27.25 if purchased in advance online. Saving £4.50 per person the day and once purchased the ticket is open ended so can be used once on almost any date until the end of October 2017.

Our booking included a 4 night stay in a two bed caravan, sleeping 4 people. The caravan came equipped with central heating in all rooms, microwave and a decent size lounge television with built in DVD player.  It had other things but these are the things that are important to me and the night time milk monster. For a full inventory, check the Sandyballs website. (Link further down, cheeky way to force you to keep reading methinks).

In my own opinion and with relatively high expectations I found the accommodation clean and comfortable, aside from the mattresses on the beds! These were very soft if i’m being polite, completely knackered and in need of an update if I’m being honest. On one of the singles you had to fight not to roll off one side.  Outside you have a single parking space directly next to your caravan, some were a very short walk to a small parking area. If you have ever been to Centreparcs though then this is a luxury you will possibly appreciate. You also have a picnic table and barbeque. All service charges and linen are included in the price. As well as use of the leisure facilities. I’m not going to waffle on about everything in lots of detail because their website does that all for me.

All you need to know is, I loved it, hubs loved it, George said he loved it. Although at the time he was going through some weird “I can’t believe you’ve driven me 2 hours up the road and called it a holiday anxiety”. He spent the week insisting hubs carried him everywhere like some sort of Egyptian ruler and told me to “go away, I don’t want you”. To be fair though, when we took a walk through the forest it had random strange headstones and felt eerie. So perhaps it was haunted and George was in fact possessed for the week.

new forest comfort caravan

My overall opinion is that is was clean, friendly, welcoming and somewhere we would most definitely recommend.

Onsite you have a convenience store. The prices are relatively reasonable and not massively increased. Genuinely! I’d say everything was marked up by about 50p more than the supermarkets but that’s to be expected. There are a few local supermarkets such as Tesco express and Waitrose just a short drive away though.

There is an amusements arcade with a good selection of old and new style arcade games and penny drop machines. Next door to this is an unsupervised soft play area for younger children and toddlers. We didn’t get around to trying this unfortunately, but it looked pretty cool. As did the huge park play area which again we sadly didn’t get around to trying. But there wouldn’t be a reason to go back if we had exhausted everything so every cloud and all that.

sandyballs amusement arcade

Across the road from our caravan we had an access path to the forest. This was an active walk up and down hills and with access to the river. A toddler could manage it though. Sandyballs appear to own this part of the forest as there are many signs for their activities such as clay shooting and pond dipping. They have such a huge array of activities. We didn’t actually book any except cycle hire. There really is so much to do for every age. Checkout their website here, Sandyballs to see all they have to offer. It has our seal of approval.

Anyone that knows me, knows I believe that life is too short and the world is too vast to return to the same place twice. But on  rare occasions I will. I believe Sandyballs has so much to offer that we would both love to return for maybe a 7 day stay and hire a lodge with a hot tub.

It’s also worth noting that we went just out of season in the last week of March so there is more on offer during peak times. There wasn’t much in the way of evening entertainment. Onsite there is a restaurant, The Forest table, offering Italian cuisine. We had a fry up breakfast here one morning and it was delicious. This restaurant appeared calmer of an evening and less suitable for the likes of a noisy toddler and his Blaze and the Monster machines car tearing it up and down the table.

We chose to dine at the Woodside Inn one night and stopped by a second night for dessert and drinks. The Woodside Inn is both dog and child friendly. This reminded me of the scene in the film Titanic. Whilst the more refined classes were enjoying fine dining in the upper decks or in this case The Forest Table. We were herded together, dogs and rowdy children into the pub the Woodside Inn, to do some irish dancing on the tables. Clearly this is just a figment of my imagination but it did make me chuckle.

We absolutely loved it at the Woodside inn. The food was lush and portion sizes were sufficient. We attended the pub quiz curry night on the wednesday and there was a good mix of pensioners, 50 somethings and thirty something families in attendance. The banter was good and the quiz was very well organised. Needless to say our confidence wasn’t much help as we came close to bottom.

The staff everywhere were very friendly and always made an effort to interact with George, who was at times struggling to adjust to the excitement of being on holiday and was being very clingy and temperamental.

The swimming pool area was nice but it wasn’t all singing and dancing, no slides or alike. There are two small triangular splash pools for toddlers, either side of the steps to the main pool. As it was March, we couldn’t try the outside pool as it is closed off peak. I absolutely loved having some much needed chill time in the Jacuzzi and Spa, pummelling my sore muscles after a crazy bike ride. Whilst still being able to seeing hibs and little one play together in the splash pool.

new forest mountain biking

Ah yes, the bike ride. Hubs and I haven’t ridden bikes in just over two years. Having hired from  the onsite cycle centre, who provided us with a route map of varying difficulties, we set off. It was George’s first time on the back of a bike in a special childs seat. We were apprehensive as to whether he would enjoy it, but he really did.

Our chosen cycle route took us down the road before entering the forest. Once in the forest, we encountered many ponies. You are advised not to approach or touch them, but they approached us so it seemed rude not to. They simply wanted a little scratch and then they were on their way again, munching through the forest. At one point a grey pony crossed the path ahead, specifically to stand in my way. I asked him if he was trying to tell me not to continue that route and he simply looked at me and walked off. Leaving me dumbfounded. Needless to say he wasn’t wasn’t warning me about any dangers ahead. Maybe about the small stream we had to ride across that I ended up getting a sodden foot in, but I’m here to tell the tale.

The ponies were just totally surreal. As soon as you cross the cattle grid there are ponies galore, with the odd cow and donkey. It was just awe-inspiring.

Until next time…..

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
Flying With A Baby