Our first week on Tour: Manchester

Well this week certainly has been challenging… It’s been a lot of fun but I wasn’t anywhere near prepared for what being on tour with a baby would really be like. Trying to stick to some sort of nap schedule while still fitting in activities around Barney’s work schedule has been tricky but we managed quite a few mornings or days out!

We rented a great flat in the centre of town, which meant walking everywhere was no problem but I struggled to find many ‘baby-friendly’ activities for Isla. Certainly very few places where I could just let her run around. We visited Waterstones’ a few times as they had an amazing children’s section, fully equipped with a Wendy house that Isla was just thrilled with!

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She waited very patiently for some friends but the big kids didn’t want to play with her!! Haha!

Our new SmarTrike (full review coming soon!) was a saviour as Isla loved it so much she was perfectly happy to be pushed around Town & not get out… She didn’t want to get out when we got back to the flat either… Haha!

One of the best things we did was get the Combi Ticket for SeaLife & The Lego Discovery Centre, that we visited on two different days – it was £17.50 each (Isla went free!) if you book online in advance. They are both at the Intu Trafford CentreIntu Trafford Centre which is the biggest (and weirdest!) shopping centre I’ve ever been to. It’s almost modelled on the Venetian in Vegas but bigger & tackier… That said, it was easy to navigate, they have every shop, restaurant, and attraction you could want. The parking was easy & free and they even had a play beach, rides and carousel outside the SeaLife/Lego. We took Isla on the carousel which was so lovely!

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I can’t get enough of this gorgeous outfit!! All from Zara Baby, Top can be bought here & trousers here.

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The Lego Discovery Centre was brilliant even if Isla was a little too young to fully enjoy it. They recommend from 3years up but they do have a Duplo farm for the little ones too!

We loved the ride that she could go on, Barney definitely had to most fun out of all of us! There was plenty to see & do – you can even join in on a workshop with a master builder! The cafe is pricey, but what you’d expect & the baby duplo area was pretty dirty! Other than that a great afternoon with lots to discover and a special shout out to the incredible staff who couldn’t do enough to make sure our day was perfect!

Isla tried her first BBQ at Red’s True BBQ – as you can see… It’s a hit! Big thumbs up from us too – great food at an amazing price, absolutely brilliant service & so child friendly! Isla even got a balloon to take away! Plenty of high chairs & open floor space to bring a pram. (There are a few small steps on the way in!) The baby change is uni-sex but a little dingy! Overall a great place to grab lunch with the family! 

We visited SeaLife & it got off to a promising start with impressive projections & a great set up to introduce you to the Aquarium. Everything is very new & shiny, but a little underwhelming. We’ve been to London & Birmingham SeaLife so were expecting more for our money. It’s very small – but has a softplay in the middle that might make your visit last a little longer than ours did. It didn’t take us more than 30 minutes to walk through the whole thing as there are no sharks, penguins or otters in this one. Isla enjoyed herself & showed off her fishy ‘noise’ the whole way round as she pointed & laughed at them all – that made it more than worth the ticket price!

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We couldn’t resist the cheesy photo block as Isla actually ‘waved to the fishies’ when she was asked too! Haha! IMG_4538

Isla fell asleep just as we were leaving so we headed over to the adventure golf for a little almost adult fun!

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I also took Isla swimming to the Aquatics Centre which was great! They have a huge baby pool with different slides & water sprays! It was warm, pretty clean & had amazingly helpful staff. Make sure you call before you go to be sure that the baby pool is open as we tried a few times & it was broken. They run sessions so be sure to get there early to make the most of your hour in the pool and prepare for a busy changing room after as everyone gets kicked out at the same time!

Isla’s favourite part of Manchester was this rainbow art installation called ‘ Through No 3’ by Liz West! She ran through it at least 100 times & even stopped to take a selfie inside!

Not a bad start to the tour, home next week and then off to Birmingham – so please send any recommendations over to us or leave them in a comment below!

All of Isla’s outfits are from Zara Baby.

11 Months

This month has been a whirlwind of amazing changes & experiences for Isla!

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She’s now a confident little walker, and is starting to give running a go! She’s the busiest baby I’ve ever seen & is constantly exploring. It’s been so lovely to see her style of play advance as she’s getting really into her duplo.

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We went to Hitchin Lavender Fields for these photos & it was an amazing experience. Such a beautiful place to visit & pick up a few bags of lavender while you’re at it! I thought I should actually get in a few photos for once! IMG_0284IMG_0302

Isla took her first trip on a ferry, went abroad to France and visited the beach which was just incredible! She couldn’t have loved it more – and refused to hold my hand after she realised I was holding her back from going for a swim! Our determined little lady kept making a break for it to try & go deeper into the water!

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Still the cheekiest madam, and even starting to say a few more words! She now says Hi, Hiya, Egg, Dog, Mum, Dad/Baba, Nanan (for Nanny!), Grrr (for Grumps!), Up, and puts ‘my’ in front of everything!

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Plans are well underway for her first birthday party & birthday photoshoot too! 🙂 I can’t wait to share it with you all!

10 Months

Isla turned 10 months last week & I have been too busy chasing after her to post a blog! She can now walk!! Only 10 or so steps at a time but she’s very pleased with herself & is getting better every day! I know it won’t be long before I’m running after her!

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She’s getting more & more chatty every day & has recently discovered screaming to get what she wants, which is… testing! She’s interested in everything, especially if it could possibly cause her harm, the oven being a particular favourite!! I really do have my work cut out for me!

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She loves singing ‘Let’s go fly a kite’ & dances along to every thing she can – no matter how short the song! Daddy has become ‘Ba Ba’ & she points at pictures of him when he’s at work until I get them down to let her kiss them! We still only have two teeth but I think we aren’t far off many more breaking through!

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Is it too soon to start planning her first birthday party? I can’t believe how fast this year is going. Easily the best year of my life, watching our tiny best friend grow into the cheekiest little madam!

Win “The Lost Smile” with Wrigley’s Smile Back Project!

I have an exciting giveaway for you today! Wrigley’s Extra have very kindly sent me 15 copies of their new children’s book “The Lost Smile” as part of “The Extra Smile Back Project”! The project aims to protect children’s smiles by donating money from every pack of sugar free gum sold during the promotional period to charity partner Action for Children. The monies will be used to create and run oral health workshops, endorsed by the Oral Health Foundation. Wrigley’s aims to protect the smiles of over 10,000 children and 5,000 parents across the UK.

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Research conducted by Wrigley’s has revealed what parents already know – that it’s still the simple pleasures in life that make our children smile. Forget technology – pulling silly faces (44%), reading stories (28%) and playing hide and seek (27%) remain the best and simplest ways of putting a smile on a child’s face.

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The book is about a little boy on a hunt to find his families ‘lost smiles’! It’s such a sweet story; Isla has read it over & over already!

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Although it seems she’s lost her smile too today… 😉

To enter the competition to WIN 1 of 15 copies of the book, just ‘Like’ my Facebook page & leave a comment telling me what makes your little one smile! Don’t forget to tag a friend that you think would like to win too!

Singing and ‘pop goes the weasel’ with Grandma is what makes Isla smile! 🙂

The competition ends on July 3rd.

Bambini & Me – Review

We were very kindly sent this gorgeous Bamboo Romper for Isla to try out from Bambini & Me today! There’s nothing better than a baby in super soft, snuggly outfits for hanging out around the house & getting that crawling/wriggling/rolling practise in! Isla has been putting it to the test all morning & it seems to be holding up perfectly! 🙂

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The eco-friendly range, full of quirky prints, includes pieces for babies from 0 to 18 months.   As well as helping with temperature control, bamboo clothing is perfect for absorbing moisture away from the skin and ensuring breathability. A perfect buy for the summer! 

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Isla is wearing size 6-12 months which is a little short in the leg but for the summer months that’s no problem at all! I would order up in the sizes where possible as I don’t think she’ll be in this one for too much longer! (She’s just going into size 9-12 months in most shops.)

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We wore the romper out to the park after our little photoshoot and got so many compliments on the pattern & colour! Who says blue has to be for boys?! 😉

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Isla is so active now that she spends all day crawling circles around me, this beautifully soft romper is absolutely perfect to keep her little knees happy & stretchy enough for her to get up to all sorts of mischief with no problem! I’d highly recommend stocking up on all things Bamboo especially the swaddles & wraps! 🙂 The more you wash them, the softer they get & are so durable!

The blue bunny Romper is available here in 3 sizes for £21.00.

Full disclosure: We were sent the romper for free in exchange for our honest opinion! 🙂

Christmas Gift Ideas with SnapFish – Plus 50% Off!

Everyone has gone discount mad for Black Friday and I’ve teamed up with SnapFish to bring you one more! I love giving personal gifts each year so when they asked if I might like to make a photo calendar, I jumped at the chance!

The website is incredibly easy to navigate, upload your photos & edit your design. I designed one 14 x 11″ Classic Wall Calendar for my parents & one smaller Kitchen Calendar for us…

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You can customise everything from the boarders to the fonts and all the colours! I had so much fun playing around that I spent three evenings changing everything around & trying out different options before I finally settled on my choices! You could easily do it very quickly though if you are more decisive that me!

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I also ordered an ornament for the tree with our special photograph that I took for the Christmas Card – so you are getting an early preview of that too!

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The image I used is extremely sharp/high resolution and it’s unfortunately printed onto the ornament slightly out of focus but when it’s hanging up on the tree I’m sure it will look nice. I just wouldn’t recommend using an iPhone snap as it probably wouldn’t be high enough quality to look good.

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You can put multiple photographs onto each page & on the Classic Wall Calendar you can even add them to the boxes to celebrate special family dates too!

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The Kitchen Calendar is slightly less customisable but you can still add text under the picture.

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The four pictures I used below are taken with my iPhone so you can see they still look brilliant! This is actually one of my favourite pages in the calendar – so funny & full of personality! You can import your pictures directly in from Facebook or Flickr if you wanted too.

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Our Christmas portrait looks better than I imagined printed & I can’t wait to see how much Isla has changed this time next year when we are making our calendar for 2017!

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I had so much fun getting creative making my personalised photo calendars & the lovely people at SnapFish have very kindly given me a discount code so you can try it out too! You can get 50% off EVERYTHING until November 30th using their Black Friday code : SALE1115 & 50% off Photo Calendars until December 31st using my code: SFUK411.

Click here to see the last order dates before Christmas!

I had to show my mum the calendar early so I didn’t spoilt it for her when she reads the blog – and she cried when she saw it! It really is beautiful quality & I’m so pleased I chose SnapFish to create it.

What pictures would you use to create yours? Baby’s first year? Holiday photos? I want to see your creations! So tweet me @Poppy_Carter or on show me on my Facebook page!

Carsten Höller: Decision

I was very kindly invited to come down & see the new exhibition at the Hayward Gallery last week, I’d heard such exciting things & knew I couldn’t miss it!

Carsten Höller: Decision is the artist’s largest survey show in the UK to date. Immersing visitors in a series of experimental environments, Höller’s interactive exhibition explores perception and decision making. You are invited to participate in and touch everything – so this exhibition is perfect for taking the whole family to explore!

You step into a dark tunnel and make your way through various twists and turns until you are eventually poured out to a giant mushroom contraption just begging to be pushed!

Adventures With Isla Blog Carsten Höller: Decision

Adventures With Isla Blog Carsten Höller: Decision

Adventures With Isla Blog Carsten Höller: Decision

As you go through to the next room you are greeted by a giant pool of pills dripping from the ceiling – go on, sink your hands into them!

Adventures With Isla Blog Carsten Höller: Decision

Adventures With Isla Blog Carsten Höller: Decision

Adventures With Isla Blog Carsten Höller: Decision

Adventures With Isla Blog Carsten Höller: Decision

Next you will find a line of Virtual Reality Headsets and Headphones to immerse yourself in an unknown world… As you wait two automated hospital beds make their way around the room… Naturally.

Adventures With Isla Blog Carsten Höller: Decision

Adventures With Isla Blog Carsten Höller: Decision

You then head up the stairs past a new friend, that was rather popular with all the children!

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Until you find the source of the dripping pills…

Adventures With Isla Blog Carsten Höller: Decision

Adventures With Isla Blog Carsten Höller: Decision

I feel like me and this guy had much in common…

If you are small enough (children only) you are invited to explore the inside of this giant dice. Certainly no room for me & bump in there!

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When you step out onto one of the balconies you see the ‘flying contraption’ ready to hoist you over the edge. If you want to go on this, be prepared to wait at least an hour and book an early slot to avoid disappointment.

Adventures With Isla Blog Carsten Höller: Decision

Adventures With Isla Blog Carsten Höller: Decision

Adventures With Isla Blog Carsten Höller: Decision

Adventures With Isla Blog Carsten Höller: Decision

Somehow, I don’t think my bump would fit under all the safety equipment you have to wear, so we moved on to a more tame aspect of the exhibition… Anyone for a game of ‘Snap!’?

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This next one, I’m pretty sure the artist was just having a laugh at us… You had to put a vibrator under your arm, close your eyes and hold your nose to make it appear longer… or something… Yup…

Adventures With Isla Blog Carsten Höller: Decision

Adventures With Isla Blog Carsten Höller: Decision

Adventures With Isla Blog Carsten Höller: Decision

There is so much more to explore including a film room and a corridor of twins talking to each other on opposite screens…

Adventures With Isla Blog Carsten Höller: Decision

The grand finale is of course – the best way to exit a museum I’ve ever encountered… GIANT SLIDES! But being 7 months pregnant, I thought I better take the boring safe route and leave the fun to my partner.

On my exit, I did get to see the awesome tunnels that we made our way through on the way in and really appreciate the magnitude of them – as you have no clue how long you’ve been walking when you are inside!

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I made it down just in time to see Barney’s grand exit…

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Tickets start at £13.50 for an adult & £10 for a child. The exhibition runs until Sunday 6th September. To book just click here.

2015: The Year of the Gender Neutral Baby

We are only half way through the year and already we have noticed this promising trend growing stronger every day. BabyCenter‘s mid-year report shows gender-neutral names like Amari, Karter, Phoenix, Quinn and Reese are rising in popularity. “As usual, baby names are reflecting a larger cultural shift,” says BabyCenter’s Global Editor in Chief Linda Murray. “Millennials are an open-minded and accepting group, and they don’t want their children to feel pressured to conform to stereotypes that might be restrictive.”

And names are just the beginning, with campaigns like ‘Let Toys be Toys’ vast numbers of people are calling out to the big toy stores and supermarkets to think before they label their shelves with Pink or Blue stereotypes.

My partner and I both decided early on that we wanted to leave these choices to our little girl and have already asked family and friends to avoid anything that brands her ‘Little Princess’ before she’s had a chance to decide if she even wants to be one! Her wardrobe has been filled with a healthy mix of dinosaur print baby grows and equally lovely florals – ignoring the ‘Baby Boy’ or ‘Baby Girl’ sections has led us to just choose what we think is fun and cute for our daughter.

If you too are hoping to give your little girl or boy more choices and less negative stereotyping – here are just a few ideas…

Having a baby shower is slowly becoming more of the norm here in the UK & my Mum and Sister are busy planning an English Tea Party for me next month… The easiest way to avoid gender stereotyping here is going for a more neutral yellow, grey or cream colour scheme instead of the usual Pink or Blue…

Adventures With Isla Blog Cream & Brown Baby Shower

Adventures With Isla Blog Yellow & Grey Baby Shower

The nursery is the next best place to keep things neutral. I love all things Scandinavian, simple and clean so these ideas will feature heavily in our little one’s new room…

Adventures With Isla Blog Gender Neutral Nursery

Adventures With Isla Blog Gender Neutral Nursery

Adventures With Isla Blog Gender Neutral Nursery

You have only a limited time until they learn to say no and want to pick out their own clothes… So for now here are a few great sites that give you the option of staying neutral for every budget.

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Mammas & Papas, The White Company, Etsy, Babies “R” Us, Carry Me Home, Bob & Blossom, Caramel Baby & Child, Mothercare.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll be looking forward to getting creative with your little one and that starts right from the birth announcement.

Adventures With Isla Blog Birth Announcement

Adventures With Isla Blog Birth Announcement

Leave me your great gender neutral ideas in the comments below or tweet me @Poppy_Carter