**I must disclose that I was gifted this book from a friend of ours. I was always going to write about it because I’m so proud of him. However I must disclose that my views are completely my own and my recommendation wholly genuine. **
Have you ever read a book that when read aloud sounds completely different to reading it quietly in your head?
I’ve never been a huge reader, until I had George. Now we read every day and it’s obviously always aloud as George hasn’t learnt to read yet.
Now if there was ever a book that should be brought to life aloud it was this. The Adventures of the Valley Fairies, New Beginnings by Matthew C. Hasler. Set in the Welsh Valleys, this is a wondrous tale about fairies and magic and everything nature.
A little about Matthew, or Matt as I know him. We met through our love of the local footie team and always chewed each others ears off whilst watching the match.
As the book intro will tell you, Matt relocated with his wife and their cat from Essex to Maesteg in South Wales. He and his wife also own and run a fabulous craft shop in Maesteg which is well worth a visit if you are local to that area. Checkout Florries on their Facebook page and Instagram @florriesmaesteg1 .
The book follows the adventures of 4 young fairies, Holly, Bridee, Poppy, and Keirah as they enter the world and learn its ways. With the guidance of their elder Mama Rose, they soon learn that not everyone in the world is true to their word.
As they go on a quest to find the source of a noise coming from the mountains they learn how to work as a team, a family even. Solving problems and making friends along the way, it isn’t long before they meet the baddies of the tale.
I won’t spoil the story for you but it definitely reads like part of a series. Ending with a huge suggestion there will be a second instalment to get excited about.
Throughout the book, Matt describes the surroundings so beautifully. Alongside the illustrations, you really begin to imagine the story unfolding right in front of you. He makes it so easy to visualise the goings on in the story.
The story is being marketed for 6-12 year olds but George loved it at 4 years old. There are 11 short chapters over 50 pages.
If you would like to grab yourself a copy of The Adventures of the Valley Fairies, it’s on sale in Waterstones and Foyles.
You can also get all the latest info on The Valley Fairies on their Facebook page.
**Disclosure – We were gifted a copy of “Finding Their Way Home ” A wonderful tale of two rescue cats. Written by Nicky Copeland and Illustrated by Little Wing Design. In return we are providing our honest review of the book, all opinions are our own. **
I was recently asked if I would be interested in reviewing a copy of “Finding Their Way Home” written by Nicky Copeland and illustrated by Little Wing Design. Anyone that knows me will tag me in anything cat related. We are massive cat lovers in this house.
Our copy of “Finding their way home” by Nicky Copeland arrived and before I could get it, our soppy cat Bubbles plonked his pooey arse on the envelope. He has some intestinal issues and is occasionally does this. I’m forever shampooing things or chasing him around wiping his backside with a wet wipe, bless him. It’s all fun in this house huh.
Anyway back to the book It’s a story about two cats, Cleo and Baloo who were both rescued by the author Nicky and her boyfriend.
What’s unusually great about this book is not only is it a cute children’s tale it’s also informative about how to introduce new cats to one another in the home.
I will always support and encourage the adoption of rescue cats over breeding. There are so many unwanted cats and dogs out there. All three of ours have been rescued or taken in from either the cats protection or our own family after their residency didn’t work out.
The story, “Finding their way home” tells the tale of a stray cat called Cleo. She is adopted by a lovely lady and her partner. We follow Cleo’s journey as she explores her new home and starts to feel loved again. Then one day she is introduced to some new toys and a blanket. She’s told they are to help her adjust.
Soon it’s clear what she’s adjusting to when her new brother Baloo arrives. They are introduced over the course of several days. Sometimes they chase, sometimes they hug, sometimes they sit and watch the world go by. And the rest I will leave you to find out.
At the end of the book, the author Nicky has written a brief guide. The page long guide explains how to introduce your cats to one another. It’s really useful and is accurate to the guides and books I read when introducing my cats when they each arrived. If you rush their introduction is can have stressful consequences for both you and your cat. Myself and hubs were so eager to see our cats together that we once tried to skip parts of the gradual introduction. It backfired and we ended up separating them and going back to stage one.
If you are ever thinking of getting a cat as a pet I would totally recommend this book. It may be helpful for making a child understand how things will be when the cat arrives. Especially if you already have a cat at home.
Here’s my verdict:-
I’m called a crazy cat lady by my friends and pretty much love all things cat. This book is right up my street. I love that it’s not just a typical cat story. It’s true to life and it’s factual and informative.
George is three years old and used to reading books about cats.
What did you think of the story? I liked all of it.
What was your favourite part? All of it.
Did you like the cats? Yes I just loved that one and that one. Points to both pictures of Cleo and Baloo in the illustrations. And I just liked that one and all of that and that one (goes through the book pointing out all the pictures.)
I’m getting a sense he loved the illustrations
And was the story good? It was just a bit short. (He loves stories to be longer so he can enjoy them for longer).
He got excited about about the business thank you card inside the book too, bless him. The introduction also explains that Nicky and her cats live in Essex which is where we live so that was exciting for George. The introduction explains how Cleo and Baloo came to be rescued and adopted. I intertwined reading this with explaining to George this is how we came to adopt one of our cats Amber.
Have you read this book? Do you have any recommendations for cat themed children’s books? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below. If your little one likes discovering new books, take at look at this fab post by Pickle and Poppet .
** Disclosure- In return for this review, I myself have been provided with tickets to the In The Night Garden showdome tour. All opinions are still honest and my own**
Wow, what can I say! We have just been to see the In The Night Garden Live on their magical showdome tour. Originally we were booked to see the Ninky
Nonk show at 12pm in the special Showdome.
However, the traffic was worse travelling from Essex to Richmond than we had anticipated. We arrived 25 minutes after the 45 minute show had started. Stress!
Luckily I had called the customer service number whilst en route, The automated help line advised that should we be running late, to continue our journey. The help line stated that a member of the team would transfer our tickets to a later show on arrival.
I think for parents this is such a forgiving and helpful service. We all know how unpredictable children can be. A lady in front of me was even rescheduling her tickets for another day as her little one was unwell. It was no trouble for the staff and no extra fee.
On arrival, a member of staff greeted us at the entrance and gave us several options. We chose to attend the next available show, The Pinky Ponk show. Both shows have all your little ones favourite characters but they just tell a different story.
The show that we saw was ‘Makka Pakka Washes Faces’. This is of course until his sponge gets stuck in Upsy Daisy’s Megaphone (ahhh so many innuendos I’m struggling to contain myself).
The price of the show ticket also included a show guide worth £7. Inside the guide you will find lyrics to all the In The Night Garden favourites. As well as a story and puzzles for your little one to enjoy. The doors to the Showdome open half an hour prior to the show beginning so this guide is great for entertaining your little one whilst you wait for the show to begin.
Once inside, the narrator voice from the show gives you a regular countdown of 15 minutes, 3 minutes etcetera until the show starts. This builds the excitement levels even further for little ones as he parents all simultaneously say “ooooh”.
The show itself is a mix of life-size characters and puppets. As the show starts, it isn’t long before Makka Pakka appears on stage. He was full size and I was wondering how big Iggle Piggle and Upsy Daisy would be when they appeared as obviously they are much larger than Makka Pakka in the television show.
My perfectionist ponderings were soon answered when Makka Pakka left the stage and Iggle Piggle appeared. Makka Pakka then reappeared as a smaller puppet controlled by 3 people using sticks. It was all very clever.
The rest of the show proceeded to follow Makka Pakka wandering round the Night Garden, ensuring he had washed every characters face with his “dirty sponge” as I like to call it. The crew cleverly incorporated bubbles into the washing routine too which got the little ones excited.
The Showdome itself adds to the wonderment of the show. With projections around the ceiling above the stage. These include falling flowers, stars and a moving Pinky Ponk. Sadly this is the last year the showdome will be touring. Whilst the show is fab and it will be greatly received in a traditional theatre setting, the showdome made it for me.
The Showdome contains staggered bench style seating so that everyone has a clear view. We have visited other shows such as Paw Patrol live, where the seating was all on one level on the ground and it was very hard if not impossible to see the stage once a tall Dad came along. I love the show dome set up. It feels like you are entering a magical grotto and a doorway to the night garden itself.
It would be such a shame to miss this experience if your little ones are fans of In The Night Garden. I can 100% recommend it. I literally can’t fault it. The show offered snacks and drinks for sale and these were also a lot more reasonable than other shows we attended. A bottle of Coca Cola was £1.50.
You can also get involved in a “Meet the Character” experience for an added cost. There is merchandise and balloons available to purchase. Whilst you wait for the character experience after the show, there are tables with colouring for the children. And a television showing episodes of In The Night Garden. There’s also buggy parking and a microwave to heat up milk or baby food.
For anyone whose child is feeling overwhelmed during the show, you can step away from the seating area. Just behind the seating area,down the steps you and little one can watch the live show on a TV screen until such time they feel settled enough to return.
To be honest though the live show was as chilled as the television show and George took his shoes off and made himself comfy. We usually watch the TV show as part of our bedtime routine and he definitely felt the relaxing vibes despite it being live.
Last little mention which is probably totally random but I’ve always been a toilet connoisseur. The toilets are unisex which felt strange but it was lovely. Lovely because every cubicle had a little portable loo seat available as well as steps for hand-washing at every sink.
It’s little touches like this that make you feel valued. It feels like the In The Night Garden Live team understand the struggles parents have each day.
There’s plenty of cubicles and no one has to queue because everyone can go in. Often you find the ladies full with a long queue whilst the men’s is not child friendly and empty. There are also adequate baby changing facilities from what I saw at a quick glance. Baby change is in a separate trailer.
George’s verdict: He won’t actually comment but I know he absolutely loved it. Previous shows we’ve attended he’s been reserved, quiet and a little dubious. The In The Night Garden Live show he was constantly smiling, excited, singing! I think in this case, actions speak louder than words.
My verdict:- I felt like the show was made with parents and children in mind. They understand that sometimes we don’t run on time with kids. It’s not a problem. They understand that sometimes there isn’t always a Mummy and a Daddy around for toilet visits. It’s not a problem.
The organisers seem to understand that younger children potentially get overwhelmed easily. This was reflected in the volume of the show not being too loud. The show was well thought out and evolved quickly to ensure the children didn’t get bored. Yes there was some fidgeting but that’s to be expected of any child that’s asked to sit still for 45 minutes. The showdome set up meant it wasn’t a problem. There was room to have a little wander. I literally cannot fault it.
Go see it. The Showdome is touring and currently in Richmond, London until July 1st 2018. It will then be moving onto Birmingham, before ending the tour in Manchester on 19th August 2018.
**Disclosure – We were provided with a Cry Babies doll in return for this review. All opinions are honest and our own**
I’m still new to this giveaway malarkey but I’m really excited to offer you the chance to win two fabulous toys. The second of which being this fab Cry Babies doll. Read on to find out more.
We were recently contacted by IMC Toys and offered two fab toys to review. The first is a review of the bath time dolls, Bloopies which I have written about here. The second being one of the Cry Babies dolls.
Now there’s a funny story to this. If you have been following the series of My Life: The Comedy Sketch show then this is most definitely worthy of a place.
A while back, I received an email form a representative for IMC Toys asking if we would like to review a Cry Babies doll. George sometimes watches the TV channel Tiny Pop, and the advert for these dolls pops up frequently. George has always expressed an interest in these dolls and did the usual ” I want that” chorus every time the advert comes on.
Once I had confirmed the review, I told George we would be getting a baby, a Cry Baby. He looked at my tummy and I explained that “No”, in fact the Cry Babies doll would not be coming from my tummy but via a delivery from the postman.
A few days later when I arrived to collect George from preschool, his key person called me over for a chat. She said she didn’t like to ask but she had to satisfy her curiosity. George had apparently spent the morning telling all the staff that “Mummy has a baby in her tummy and that he will be getting a brother or sister!”
I thought it was hilarious and had to tell all the ladies that actually no, we were going to be receiving a Cry Babies doll not an actual baby. They may be the “cutest baby, is so real” but I’m not ready to birth one!
Back to the Cry Babies and our baby is called Dotty. She is one of three dolls new to the Cry Babies collection as of April 2018. The recommended retail price is £29.99 available from retailers Argos, Amazon, Asda, B&M and Smyths as well as some independent retailers. Again I would be happier if they were around £25.
When we unpacked Dotty, both myself and George were impressed that the packaging was in the form of a car seat. Dotty is dressed in a spotty dog onesie. Her pink hair and eyebrows confused George slightly but he quickly sussed out how to make her cry and make her happy again.
By removing the Cry Babies hood, you will find a screw cap to remove. This allows you to fill the tear compartment in her head with water. Then replace the cap, and the hood if you so wish. The Cry Babies have a switch inside the back of their babygro that allows you to switch them on, off or on try me mode. Once switched on, you squeeze the button on the back of Cry Babies head.
Following this, whenever her dummy is removed, she cries tears and makes a crying and gurgling noise. The noise wasn’t particularly annoying to myself as another mum had suggested to me. I’m very tolerant of noise and it’s not particularly loud. It’s a bonus that she can be switched off if it does become too intense. Our three cats were not as amused, thinking we were way past the wailing baby phase.
The tears are a bit of a tricky one. With tears coming thick and fast it wasn’t long before our Cry Baby Dotty was sitting in a puddle. Be careful where you allow little one to play with this if you don’t want things getting soaked through. We sat her on a tea towel.
Mummy’s verdict: The crying noise these dolls make is fairly realistic but other than that I don’t feel a doll who soaks through her clothes with tears whilst sporting pink hair and eyebrows can be described as “the cutest baby, is so real”. That said, I think George was adorable with her. He loved to look after her and put her in a pushchair he has.
George’s verdict: George loved that she cried and taking her dummy out and putting it back in again. Although there was a knack to this and as he is only 3 himself. He struggled at times to push the dummy fully in, which is required to stop her crying. He was so proud of his Cry Baby, he took her in to school for show and tell.
George wasn’t too protective of the idea that she is a baby to be cared for. However and was quick to switch her off if he couldn’t get her dummy in. A lot of this stems from his feelings towards saving batteries though. He was in awe when he saw me rock her and pat her back, noticing that it soothes her without her needing her dummy.
I can imagine these dolls being a helpful tool for any children due to become siblings.
**Disclosure – We were provided with a Bloopies bath time doll in return for this review. All opinions are honest and our own**
I’m still new to this giveaway malarkey but I’m really excited to offer you the chance to win two fabulous toys. The first of which being this fab Bloopies bath toy. Read on to find out more.
We were recently contacted by a representative of IMC Toys and offered two fab toys to review. The first being one of the Bloopies bath time dolls.
Bloopies are described by IMC as being;
“…the ultimate underwater friends. They squirt water out of their mouth and snorkel when you press their tummy, and if it’s a bubbly bath they will blow bubbles too! There are six different characters to collect, each with their own cute swimsuit, diving fins and snorkel.”
Checkout the company video;
George was excited to receive our package. We opened the large box which our goodies arrived in (which was a toy in itself). What kid doesn’t love a cardboard box!
We discovered our Bloopie Lovely. In her yellow bathing suit with pink snorkel and fins, she was already kitted out for a bathtime of fun. This was just as well because George couldn’t wait to test her out.
Bloopies can squirt water from their mouth. By holding the Bloopie under the water for a few seconds, her mouth fills with water allowing you to then squirt it out by pressing her tummy. The shape of her mouth did rather comically resemble a person vomiting rather than squirting water. It gave us a chuckle when I told George Lovely was being sick in his bath, complete with Mummy made sound effects of course.
If your little one has a bubble bath, the Bloopies also apparently blow bubbles. We are yet to master this feature. I’m one of those mums that can never get to grips with things. I reckon when Daddy gets a turn at bath time he’ll have that feature cracked in no time.
After filling her mouth with water, you can put on her snorkel to squirt water through the pipe although this was a little harder for smaller hands. George is three and a half. I thought this was a fab feature and something a little bit different to other bath toys.
Her flippers mean you can swim her around in the water and she looks realistically dressed for the occasion. We shall also be taking her along to the swimming pool as George is quite reluctant to go swimming after a bad experience. I’m hoping his Bloopies doll will help ease his anxieties over being in the pool.
Bloopies are available for purchase at many major and independant retailers including Amazon, Smyths, B&M and Asda. The recommended retail price is £14.99, although I have seen them for less.
There are six characters available to purchase, each with their own swimsuit, diving fins and snorkel. The swimsuit isn’t easily removable and despite having a velcro fastening on the back it is sewn together at the top which suggests to me it shouldn’t be removed.
Mummy’s verdict – I think that Bloopies are a great bathtime toy and would even be a great addition to pack in our swim bag. I am a tiny bit concerned about the potential for mould growth as with most bath toys. However I make sure we squirt all the water out at the end of each use and place it in the airing cupboard to dry. This is my own, over precautious choice though. I also often place all our bath toys in a soak of sterilising solution to remove any mould. With a recommended retail price of £14.99 (as of April 2018) I would say I’d be happier to pay nearer to £9.99. I shall definitely be buying these as gifts for my friends children and nieces and nephews.
When asked what did you love? George responded;
I loved that she squirts water and I can swim her in the water.
When I asked him what did he NOT love about his Bloopie he said;
I didn’t love her feet (flippers) because she falls over when you try to stand her up.
If you would like to win your very own Bloopies along with a Cry Babies doll which we’ve also recently reviewed, then checkout our fab giveaway below.
**Disclosure – We were gifted a signed copy of “The Jamymee Rescues – A Daisy Doo and Holly Boo Adventure” Written by Dan Cooper and Illustrated by Richard Birch. In return we are providing our honest review of the book, all opinions are our own. **
George is an absolute bookworm of late. He’s always loved stories but just lately he is insistent that you read up to a dozen a day. At his preschool sessions he often sits in the story corner and justs ask the preschool assistants to read book after book. On the subject of preschool, two of his fellow classmates happen to have a very talented Daddy. He’s recently published a children’s book called “The Jamymee Rescues – A Daisy Doo and Holly Boo Adventure”.
Here’s the blurb:-
“Daisy Doo and Holly boo are sisters. Not just any old sisters. But best friends who do everything together…even when they are asleep.
You see Daisy Doo and Holly Boo have a secret, a very special secret. Can you keep a secret? Ok then, I’ll tell you what it is. You see when Daisy Doo and Holly Boo get ready for bed they put on their ‘special’ pyjamas called Jamymees! ”
So when all is said and done, our verdict of this book comes down to whether George enjoyed it. The answer to that is…he LOVES it! At 25+ A4 pages, it’s a little longer than our usual stories. Although the book is typically aimed at 4-8 year olds, the story was compelling enough to make George at 3 years old want to know more.
We typically read 3 or 4 pages a night and try and leave it at an appropriate place to continue the following night. This also encourages George to want to go to bed as he is eager to find out what happens next.
The book is full of imagination and wonderment, as the two sisters, along with the help of their talking dogs, transport to Dreamland to rescue a pup in need. The characters are all based upon real life family members of the author Dan, including their rescue dogs. He shares pictures of their real life counterparts on The Jamymee Rescues Facebook page .
We haven’t read many older children’s books so I’m unsure what the standard quota is for pictures vs words ratio. The books we read usually contain a few more pictures but George didn’t seem to mind.
It’s worth looking out for the special fading light button illustrated on the picture pages. The light indicates how long the girls have left before they wake up, and the mission can no longer be completed. A dreamland timer if you will. This made George interact with the book as his suspense of whether the girls would make it in time grew.
I love books that get children involved with an interactive element. I recently read this review of a fab interactive fairy tale. The child has to unlock a password and undertake rock painting as part of the story. Checkout the fab review here by Truly Madly Cuckoo.
Overall this is an engaging read and whilst it is by no means perfect to the trained eye, it is a book your little ones will get excited about again and again.
If you would like to purchase a copy of the book, please message the author Dan via the books facebook page Buy your copy here!
You can commission your own piece from illustrator Richard ‘Woody’ Birch via his page Woody Illustration.
**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 .
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.
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!)
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)
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
We also spent a fair amount of time playing at the playground which we nicknamed the Teletubbies playground due to the green hill feature.
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.
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.
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. It has a fab mini ride on car on a track. As well as 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. You can 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. For the bigger kids inner child in us all there’s bookable indoor wall climbing. A mezzanine platform allows you to grab a coffee from the Wildwood cafe whilst the madness ensues downstairs.
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.
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. A member of staff accompanied Merlin whilst banging a drum. He 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 gathered in the courtyard at the Knights tavern where the staff and Merlin took to the balcony. They guided us as we watched the light show 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
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. As a football supporter and follower, bad weather has never really bothered me. 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. Travelling from Essex is a long way for a mid week break. In future I’d opt for a 7 day break. 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.
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.
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.
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”
“….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;
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;
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.
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.