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.

My worst day as a Mum…

Today was my worst day as a Mum and as I sit here eating my feelings (double chocolate cake from Patisserie Valerie no less…!) I am only just starting to let go of the stress & tension that I have carried with me all day. We are heading into a new adventure as a family, travelling the country on tour with a musical in a different venue every week. I didn’t go into this lightly; I knew it would be challenging to be away from home but I thought I might get a few more weeks in before the meltdowns began.

We started with a 6am wakeup call from a very excited Isla… we did our best to convince her to make it to her usual 7am but not quite… a short first nap and then we headed down to Manchester’s aquatics centre to check out the baby pool. A sweltering walk, baby wearing in the heat, all the way there only to discover the baby pool was closed but ‘the guy who updates the website isn’t in today…’. Good. Back we go. I got glass in my foot… And on it went…

Do you ever have those days where every little thing seems to go against you? Heavy doors slamming on you – making it impossible to get the pram inside, a screaming baby that keeps trying to pull your hair or pinch you no matter what you do to soothe them, a phone dying just as you need the maps the most – leaving you to ask strangers who all recommend you go in opposite directions… Yup. Now you see why I need the cake.

But what do you do when this tiny person relies on you to be an all knowing oasis of calm and comfort at every moment of the day? It’s taken me nearly a year to say, you know what… it’s ok. Sometimes you lose your temper in a public shopping centre when they bite you and make you bleed. Sometimes you just have to let them cry because you wouldn’t let them steal from the LEGO shop. Sometimes you can’t be the perfect mother. It’s taken me nearly a year to realise that’s just not a thing. But we survived. We made it back to the flat that I really can not find for the life of me no matter how many times I come here. We had dinner with no tantrums, a relatively calm bath & only a few tears at bedtime.

As she finally relaxed into my arms and gave up the fight she’d been battling all day, I told her how much I love her. Again and again. Almost as a, ‘Sorry I wasn’t good enough today’. But tomorrow is a new day & we’ll start again. I’ll try to be more patient, properly prepared, better organised… the list goes on.  For me that’s what being a Mother is; finding the strength when you thought you had no more to give.

For tonight I’m going to take a deep breath, which may well be my first of the day & keep telling myself ‘It’s ok’, while I resist the urge to google how many calories were in that giant piece of cake…

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Weaning the Mediterranean way with My Little Piccolo!

I am so excited to share this post with you – and I may have gone a little picture heavy but Isla was just too hilarious in these shots not to include them all so grab a cup of tea & get ready to dive in!

If you follow us on Instagram (go on, you know you want to!) you will know that we got a very special delivery this week, from Piccolo – a new organic baby food brand, inspired by the Mediterranean approach to health and wellbeing.

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Isla has always been very independent, especially when it comes to her food. We have mostly been trying Baby Led Weaning but with teething, it being so hot and travelling, I’ve been incorporating pouches to make sure Isla is getting what she needs!

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Piccolo’s founder, Cat Gazzoli, has spent her career campaigning for good, honest and natural food. As the CEO of the Slow Food Movement (in the UK) for 6 years, she certainly is an expert when it comes to food! Cat’s aim with Piccolo is to encourage healthy eating from 6 months and to introduce Mediterranean goodness in a delicious range of baby food. The range has been influenced by Cat’s Italian roots, her background in food education and passion for good, honest and natural food. The Mediterranean approach to nutrition and lifestyle is one that champions fresh ingredients and great flavours, lovingly prepared, shared with friends and family.

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They make six stage one blends (completely smooth, no lumps!), made with 100 percent natural, organic ingredients. With a range of adventurous and delicious flavours, each suitable for children from six months, little ones can discover new taste experiences such as Apple & Apricot with a pinch of cinnamon, Cherry & Yoghurt with wholegrain oats, and Spring Greens with a hint of mint.

The Cherry & Yoghurt is Isla’s favourite for breakfast & we usually have the spring greens to go along with her BLW lunch of cucumber, ham, tomatoes, & any cooked veg we can get our hands on!

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(Any excuse to get the light box out!)

This photo kills me… I think I might get it framed!

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She is just so thrilled that I finally let her play with the pouches! (If I let her play with them during meal times we both end up absolutely covered!!)

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‘Wanna share?’…

But the second you go to take it, she snatches it away and laughs in your face… I don’t know where she gets it from! Haha!

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Our combination of Piccolo pouches & chopped up… well… whatever I can find in the fridge… is working really well so Isla can explore textures, tastes and I know she’s eating well! I often mix it all together in a bowl and just let her grab what she wants which works perfectly but it does get seriously messy!

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Trying her very best to put it on the spoon herself… No help from Mummy please…

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Ok… maybe Mummy can help a little…

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The pouch was nearly empty so I thought she could handle holding it… 5 seconds later she squirted most of it up the wall… Rookie…

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All the flavours have been a huge success in our house, and will remain firmly on our shopping list! They are available from Waitrose, Ocado, Whole Foods & a range of other places that you can find here

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Oh and if you are feeling like Super Mum & have a spare second (apparently that happens once every few years…) you should check out their blog for some awesome recipes! I’m going to try the Courgette & feta fritters when I get a chance…

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A big thumbs up from us, good food with no added nasties & Isla absolutely loves them!

Have you tried Piccolo yet? Whats your LO’s favourite flavour? Send me your pictures of them enjoying on Instagram or Facebook and make sure you tag @MyLittlePiccolo too!

 

**This was a sponsored post but all the opinions are my own!

Isla’s First Trip to the Beach

I couldn’t resist sharing a few of these with you! We took the opportunity to head down to Omaha Beach while visiting some friends in France. It was Isla’s first time on the beach and it was such a beautiful thing to witness.

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Both Nanny & I forgot the towels so we were just going to let Isla have a little paddle and go. Isla had other ideas. She instantly fell in love & wanted to go for a swim!

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We played in the shallow waves for as long as I could convince her to stay, but she kept trying to make a break for deeper waters!

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Isla would have stayed all day if we had let her, but without a sunshade or towels we had to cut the visit short!

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Eventually we gave in and stripped off her jeans to go for a deeper paddle before giving in completely and putting her in her totsbots swim nappy & swimsuit!

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The difference a filter makes… Haha! It actually looked like the final picture but I couldn’t resist a moodier edit on the shots from my camera!

I can’t wait till next time & I’ve promised Isla that we will come prepared for a whole day of splashing & sandcastles!

 

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.

Father’s Day at Waddesdon Feast Festival

This weekend was Father’s Day & not just any Father’s Day but Barney’s first Father’s Day!! I was determined to make it extra special, starting with a coffee & presents in bed, which Isla very kindly helped him open! She chose the unicorn wrapping paper that concealed a Chewbaca talking mask… I couldn’t resist! And a personalised book all about Daddy & Isla’s adventures! It’s so beautiful that I’ll do a separate review soon!

We had a very chilled out morning & then headed off to Waddesdon Manor with my parents for the Feast Festival! We arrived to GIANT queues and very nearly turned around but after some detective work & lots of confusion from the staff working there we established that we didn’t have to join the mammoth queue as we already had tickets! Not a great start but we boarded the short bus ride up to the festival with great relief that food was near!

We stepped off the bus to a flurry of activity, families eating on the long table, watching performances on the grass, creating flower crowns in a tent and all having a brilliant day!

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We immediately went in search of Lunch, quickly spotting the pulled pork & Rueben Sandwiches! While I left the more patient of our party in the queues, I took Isla off to explore! Naturally we found our way to the best stall… Prosecco & cake… What more could a girl want on cheat day?!

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We found a quiet spot to settle down for Lunch. Isla made her way round everyone to get a taste of everything…!

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Clearly a Daddy’s girl, as she was most interested in stealing Grumps’ Apple Watch!

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Cheers!! We have so much to celebrate on Father’s Day, not just the best Daddy in the world to Isla, but the best partner I could ever ask for!

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This cheeky monkey took the opportunity to escape as quickly as she could before I trapped her again in the baby wearer!

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After Lunch we walked around the festival checking out all the stalls, Barney must have tried every Cheese at the festival! And we even spotted some rather unusual visitors… If you follow me on Facebook you will have seen a video of Isla coming face to face with this big bad wolf!

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We walked around the back of the house to take in the beautiful Gardens before heading over to the Aviary and to watch the Jazz band! Nanny & Isla led the dancing with enthusiasm!

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I don’t know how Barney managed to escape my camera lens for most of the day, must be years of practise! Luckily I captured these two up to their usual mischief on the way back to the bus! Isla is so lucky to have such an incredible Daddy & I just love seeing them together having so much fun!

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We had a brilliant day, despite the slight hiccup at the start! I would highly recommend visiting any of Waddesdon’s events (we visited the Chilli Festival last year & loved that too!) just make sure you pre-book your tickets and turn up early to get a good seat at the table if you want one – or bring a picnic blanket like we did! There is so much to do for children of all ages & the Jazz band was a particular highlight for us! For more information on their upcoming events check here.

The Little Green Sheep Company – Mattress Review

I think most parents will agree, one of the most important parts of your day is making sure baby gets enough sleep. But are they too hot? Are they comfortable? Are they safe? There are a million reasons to worry but bedtime doesn’t have to be one of them!

Let me introduce you to your baby’s next perfect nights sleep…

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The Little Green Sheep Company is the multi award winning brand that was responsible for launching the UK’s first organic cot mattress over nine years ago. Since then the brands passion to provide babies with the most natural environment possible, away from toxins and harmful chemicals, has seen them become one of the UK’s leading and much loved ethical baby brands.

With multiple awards, including five stars from Mother and Baby magazine and placed number 1 in Emma’s Diary’s ‘Top Ten Baby Mattresses’ for the Twist mattress and with sizes available for moses baskets, cots, cribs, prams, single beds, and even custom made options, every family can enjoy the high quality and safe comfort of a Little Green Sheep mattress. The team are so confident parents will love them, the cot, cot bed and single size mattresses comes complete with a five year guarantee.

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Isla is hanging out on their Twist Natural Latex Mattress & Mattress Protector before bed time… (She’s obsessed with her toothbrush so wouldn’t give it back!)

The mattress contains four simple ingredients. These include breathable cotton yarn, the fibres of organic coconut husks, which form a supportive core, natural latex from the Hevea Tree, which binds the coconut fibres and acts as a comfy, supportive layer. And finally, organic sheep’s wool – hypo-allergenic and temperature-regulating, which is a naturally fire-proofing material and removes the need for chemical fire retardant sprays.

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Isla has always been a pretty good sleeper but she’s excelling herself now, sleeping through the night and goes to sleep almost the second I lie her down! The mattress fit perfectly, and they will even make a custom size to fit any cot, moses basket or bed!

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I love that the mattress grows with your baby up until 5 years old, so it’s worth the investment! Just flip it over to the supple & comfy side once they hit their first birthday! It also naturally regulates baby’s temperature – so that’s one more thing you don’t have to worry about!

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As you can see, it’s perfect for sleeping… or brushing your (two) teeth while showing off how well you can stand up!

I highly recommend these beautiful mattress’ – anything that can make Isla sleep better & safer is worth every penny as far as I’m concerned!

You can find out more information & buy here… 

9 Months

Well here we are… 9 months of fun and the trouble is just beginning. Isla can now pull herself up and walk around the room at lightening speed – you might think you’ve put everything out of reach… and then I find her stacking her books on the floor so she can stand on them to reach…! She can stand without holding on for 10+ seconds at a time before falling over so I think we aren’t far off walking!

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She’s so much fun and an absolute joy every day! She now gives out high fives to everyone she can & waves whenever anyone or thing comes & goes! She’s had her first pair of jeans, trainers and now sandals which only help with her crawling faster – which can never be a good thing!

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“High Five!!”

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And of course she is obsessed with my phone, laptop, camera… anything shiny with buttons! I’m already failing at my pre-baby declaration of never giving in & letting her have it!

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And off she goes again…