Friday, 26 December 2014

Strider Balance Bike


Macy has been pushing her little Bullyseye pony around for a while now her feet can reach the floor so we started looking at balance bikes.  I had never liked them as they always look a bit nasty but a friend at work bought her son one from Halfords and it looked like a proper bike which I much preferred.  She said he is progressing so much quicker than her daughter who always had a trike as she has never got the hang of balancing.  So that was it and we said that will be her Christmas present.

We had a good look online at what was about and because Macy is quite small, it did narrow our search down.  Quite a few are from ages 2 and up so there were only a few from 18 months up.  I don't like the wooden or plastic ones and we were really taken by the look of the Strider bikes.  After a bit more research we decided that was the way to go.
  • Striders are under 3kg in weight against most others which are around 4kg, so easier to handle
  • Handlebars are adjustable whereas most others aren't
  • Seat and handlebars are adjustable with an easy clamp - no tools required, sport model
  • Footrests for when the child is confident, they can put their feet up
  • Lower saddle height than any others
  • More benefits can be found here: Reasons to Buy a Strider


We decided to go for a yellow bike to look a bit different from the usual girly pink.  We also went for the Sport over the Classic mainly because of the smaller handlebar grips because of her little hands.  Also though because we liked the handlebar pad, the quick release clamps and the fact it came with the longer saddle post too.
We ordered a number, yellow wheel and grips, however a few days before Christmas we saw some photos of multicoloured Striders and decided we wanted to make it look a bit more girly and wanted to pimp it up in pink!  So after speaking to Strider (who have amazing customer service and super speedy delivery) they just said that's fine, just return the yellow bits when you can.  The pink wheels, handlebar grips and saddle arrived the day before Christmas Eve - we expected to have to wait until after Christmas but no, they were here.  The bike went together easily.
Macy unwrapped her bike excitedly.
And she was soon on it!  We held the handlerbars to start as she decided she could do it and it fell over which frightened her a bit but because it is so light, it didn't hurt her.  She was soon back on and flying up and down the lounge.


Today she has been on it this morning and is virtually doing it herself, we are walking behind and just being there to catch it so it doesn't frighten her but it isn't going to be long before she is off on her own as we aren't holding it.
I am amazed that literally after 10 minutes she is virtually balancing on her own and she isn't quite 18 months and also is small for her age.  The bike looks cool and I love being able to customise it so it looks a bit different.
Strider also do the Strider Championship, fun competitions for the children all round the country which looks like great fun for them.  I would really recommend Strider, the product is excellent and their customer service is fantastic :)

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Whiskas Kitten Food


Pedigree kindly sent us some kitten food as well as the Dentaflex for little Spice.  They also sent us a lovely ceramic bowl in the shape of a cats head, it's a really cute little dish.

Spice is a fairly fussy cat when it comes to food, Clee will eat anything, but Spice is fussy!  She loves the Whiskas kitten food though and enjoys all the different flavours.

It is nice because it is little chunks of meat in a jelly rather than just blended mush!  You put it in the dish and it looks and smells okay unlike most cat foods.

I must admit I like to feed dry as I think it's better for her teeth and she has been having the Whiskas dry food.  However I will give her a bit of this wet food from time to time to give her a bit of variety.




Saturday, 22 November 2014

Choccywoccydoohdah

Never heard of it?  Where have you been?!?!?  Choccywoccydoohdah has been one of my favourite programmes on Sky (Watch) ever since it started and I have gone on for years about how much I wanted to go to Brighton to visit.  My husband made my wish come true and not only a visit, a cake too!!!!!!
Window Display
So Choccy is a company that makes THE most amazing cakes, all decorated with special modelling chocolate, no fondant in sight.  Their most recent series has seen them making cakes for all sorts of celebs, they originally had a small shop in Brighton, then opened a cafe, then a shop in London and have just reopened a bigger shop in Brighton which encompasses both the cafe and shop.
We visited for some cake in the cafe, I chose the chocolate with white chocolate buttercream which was drizzled with melted chocolate.  I had a hot chocolate which was literally melted chocolate and hot milk - divine!  I was sooooo full it was untrue, Mark had a dipping platter which was gorgeous too but we could have easily shared either.  

The next day was my birthday and Mark said I had a VIP tour of Choccy booked so we had our breakfast and were straight there.  We were allowed in all of the roped off areas and sat in the famous Tiger chair.
We got into the room where Christine sits with her clients to discuss their requirements and the lady who showed us round told me to look at the cakes in the shed too.  As I opened the door, my eye was immediately drawn to this lovely cake right in front of me with Happy 30th Gina written across it. I couldn't believe my eyes, a Choccy cake all for me, my very own, MINE!!
Mark had chosen the chocolate cake (good job I had liked it the day before!) with chocolate praline filling which has turned out to be amazing!!  The cake is quite heavy as it has to hold all the chocolate mouldings, but it is still beautiful and moist and lovely in the microwave for half a minute.

Some of the other cakes on display.  If you need a cake for a special occasion, Choccy are the people to make one!!







Sunday, 16 November 2014

Centre Parcs Sherwood Forest

Mark's sister had booked a stay at Centre Parcs to celebrate my niece's 18th and it was also the week before my 30th too.  We were stopping at Sherwood Forest, Nottingham.  We had a 4 bedroom executive lodge booked but when we turned up there had been a problem and we were being upgraded to a Treehouse, I didn't realise quite how amazing this was having never been to Centre Parcs before.
The entrance to Centre Parcs was miles away from the accommodation and with most accommodation you can drop your luggage off by your villa and then move the car back to the car park which is a bit of a hassle however it does keep the site pretty safe without having to worry about traffic.  However with the treehouses you have proper allocated parking by them so that's easier.


I was pretty amazed at how big the area was, it really is like a small village or even a large village. 



THE TREEHOUSE

Okay so I looked up how much it would cost mid week for the same mid week next year and it is £2,499.  To be honest as lovely as it is I could never warrant that money, I would rather have a week in the Caribbean!   
 So the treehouse itself was all underfloor heating, finished to a really high standard.  It sat back from the roadside and you walked up a long ramp to get to it as it sat on stilts in the forest.  Outside there was a decked patio area where there was a hot tub, access to an outdoor toilet and Physiotherm Infrared room.  Along a walkway was the games den which housed the pool table, mini bar, fridge and Nintendo Wii - although there weren't really any good family games which was a shame.  The kitchen was fully stocked with all the appliances you may need.  There was one bedroom upstairs which was accessed by a spiral staircase and this had it's own huge balcony.  The other three bedrooms were downstairs all with ensuites that varied with some having baths, some showers etc.  
I can't really fault it, it was finished to a really high standard, everyone who hears you are in a treehouse wants to know all about it as they are really looked up to. The only complaint I would have is the soundproofing, the three bedrooms are all off the main living area and the walls are paper thin, you can hear everything said in the next room.  So personally I would prefer if the bedrooms were all upstairs.


FACILITIES



All the activities at Centre Parcs are extra apart from the swimming pool, we didn't end up booking anything as by the time we had decided we wanted to try the Segways they were fully booked - so do  this before or at the beginning of your break.  There wasn't a lot we could do with Macy being only being 17 months, most activities for the children start age 3.  However there is a nursery on site if you wanted to go and do something on your own,  We got there the Tuesday night so didn't think a week's bike hire was worth it, it was only when it was too late we discovered we could have hired one for the day!

Our first day we spent in the pool, I was concerened as a lot of reviews said it was cold but it wasn't too bad really.  We managed to get some sunbeds by the pool, the changing rooms were great as they were all cubicles for families so Mark and I could both get her ready and back dressed again rather than having to do it all on our own.  There are big lockers to put all your belongings in.  I was a bit miffed though that you had to take your towels from the villa with you and it was quite a long walk to have to lug them all over there.  You can pay for some there but that seemed a waste.  


There was plenty to do, several slides for various different ages, wave machine, smaller pools for the toddlers, rapids, a cold plunge pool, an outdoor pool.  One slide was a rubber ring which we all sat in, that was fun.  The children loved it, most of the slides were probably aimed more at children, older children or families.  There weren't any adult only slides which is a shame - that would have been good for the daredevils amongst us!  The rapids was probably the only thing that was older teenagers/adults only.
There was also a cafe by the pool so you could stop for a snack and a drink without having to get dried off, that way you could spend the day in there.  outside all of the facilities they have little shelters where you can leave your pushchair, you just need to take a bicycle lock with you to lock it up with.
There are also lots of indoor soft plays in the bars and restaurants etc which is great for when the weather is typically British!  Our favourite was the one in the Sports Bar which had quite a large area for the under 3s
As it was November, Centre Parcs had their winter wonderland on so we had to take the children to see santa.  They were given lots of chocolate coins and a good length of time to walk round the grotto before going in to see the main man!  Included in the cost was a photo which was not easy with a 1 yr old, 2 yr old and 3 yr old!  The younger two were a bit frightened so Mark sat with them hiding behind a tree!  They all had good presents which were cuddly toys, really nice good quality.
 They do make everywhere look really Christmassy with snow everywhere on the way to see Santa.
Older children can take a pony ride to see Santa and you can also ride in a Horse and Carriage.
There are plenty of outdoor play areas scattered about, including a beach, where twice a week they have a firework display.


EATING OUT

There is quite a variety of food establishments, somewhere for everyone.  With Starbucks and Cafe Rouge, some well know chains. However unless you like paying through the nose for bog standard food, you probably won't eat out that often.  The prices are rediculous, they have a captive audience.  We ordered an indian take away and paid £40 for two main course, two sides and two naans!  I don't mind paying for food but it was no better than any other Indian where we would have paid £20!

Okay you are on holiday but I can't help but sit there and think I could have a lovely, well cooked meal at our local high rated restaurant for that money rather than a curry!!

The Pancake House was lovely, however I had a Chocoholics pancake and was a bit disappointed as there wasn't a lot of chocolate on it.  The next day I had a savoury pancake and it was lovely so they were definitely the best!

IN SUMMARY

So all in all, personally I don't think it's somewhere I would go again.  If I go on holiday on this country I would rather it be somewhere a) by the sea, b) cheaper (then when it rains you don't feel like you have wasted that much money when all you do is stop in!).  I like my nice holidays abroad and would rather just put the money towards that rather than do a Centre Parcs again.  But a lot of people must really enjoy it as they seem to run at about 97% occupancy all year round.

Sometimes I think we are a bit spoilt as we live in the countryside, we walk through a small forest weekly so it didn't seem like anything special to me?  If you lived in the town and wanted a nice break in the country I can see the appeal but for me, it just doesn't appeal, I like to be beside the sea rather than in a forest.  I could see for children aged 5-10 they would have a great time but you would have to budget for the activities as they would mount up, perhaps you could then go off and enjoy the Spa!!

A bit of fun - I took the Go Pro down a water slide!!
video

Friday, 7 November 2014

Autumnal Photos!

I think we got to the woods about 10 minutes before the sun disappeared, all the best laid plans, we just didn't make it out in time.  However I think I got a couple that I am happy with, I love autumn photos.  You can click on them to maximise them.
Some taken a week or so ago of my lovely Sweep