Our family spend a lot of time in wellies, so much time in fact that a couple of years ago I spent quite a lengthy period of time researching and writing this post about the best pair of adult wellies to buy… and then had them stolen after I bought them, but that’s another story.

One brand I hadn’t heard of when I wrote that post were BOGS. BOGS Footwear is a boot company based in Oregon, US who sell a range of 100% waterproof boots for babies, children and adults. Most have pull on handles and many incorporate original prints into their design.

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After experiencing so many substandard pairs of wellies that expire after one winter, I was also heartened to see that on their website they also offer a 100% guarantee that every pair of BOGS “meets the high standards that you would expect” and promise you can return them if they don’t. Compare this to one well-known heritage brand who now warn (if you check the small print) that many of their wellies are “fashion items” and not designed to last.

We were offered two pairs of BOGS boots to try, one for Theo and one for Alice. For Theo we chose the Durham solid which are insulated boots designed for winter temperatures which promise a non-marking and self-cleaning outsole (How does that work!?) Despite the warm summer temperatures we’ve had in the last couple of weeks, their thermal properties have not deterred Theo from wearing them almost every day since they arrived.

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I love the pull on handles which not only make them easy to take on and off, but also make them easy to scoop up and restore to their correct position by the front door when they are abandoned somewhere!

Alice isn’t quite ready to toddle around in her Baby BOGS yet, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time. They are also 100% waterproof and brilliantly, machine washable too.

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In the past I have hesitated with buying wellies which are part rubber and part neoprene, fearing they would not be entirely waterproof and might get stained by mud, but having seen Theo’s mini versions I’m seriously tempted to try a pair for myself this winter, particularly as the soles are supposed to have excellent non-slip properties, which is an illusive quality in rubber boots!

It is of course very early days for our BOGS trial and I will update this review if we encounter problems down the line. Well made footwear (and clothing in general) seems to be hard to find these days, and if BOGS turn out to live up to their bold promises, I’ll be delighted to give them my full support.

This summer we are testing out a Springfree trampoline and as well as having a lot of fun bouncing on it, over the last couple of months I’ve also been enjoying capturing photos of my kids using it. Like all types of photography there are a few guidelines which can make all the difference between getting photos of your children which are ok, or capturing something you can feel proud of and in today’s post I wanted to share some of those tips with you…

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ISO 500, f/3.5, 1/1600

Under expose

Generally any photo you take of a child on a trampoline will tend to overexpose because a good chunk of the image will contain the black matting or safety net. When the camera takes a general reading of light in the picture, it will brighten the whole image to compensate for this area of darkness. The best way to avoid this is to set your exposure manually by taking a reading using your hand, but if you would rather use automatic or semi-automatic mode you can use exposure compensation to reduce the automatic exposure levels.

Press the button and dial down to -0.3 or -0.7 to ensure the image comes out a third or two thirds of a stop darker than the camera thinks it should be. It is far better to underexpose an image and correct it in post-processing than to blow out (or over-expose) areas of a picture which are then harder to retrieve detail in.

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Choose the right settings on your camera

If you are shooting in semi-automatic turn your dial to sports mode. This is usually represented by a picture of a little figure running and in this mode your camera will increase your shutter speed and reduce your aperture to capture a fast moving object without blur. Sports mode will also increase your frame rate so that when you press the shutter button the camera will take a burst of images rather than just one. If your camera doesn’t have a sports mode, you can choose shutter priority mode and dial in a shutter speed. If the kids are moving around pick a shutter speed of at least 1/640

Make the net vanish from photos

If you are taking photos of young children on a trampoline most of the time your view of them is going to be obscured by a safety net. There are two ways to get round this, either you can unzip the net slightly and position yourself at the entrance to the trampoline with your body blocking the gap you have created or you can take photos through the net! This sounds like a crazy idea, but I promise you it’s possible.

This is a technique I first learned for taking photos of animals in a zoo where your view is blocked by a wire fence. First of all set you camera to the lowest aperture on your camera. My 24-70 lens will open up as wide as f/2.8 which is just about wide enough to do this trick, but a wider aperture of between f/2.0 and f/1.4 would be preferable. Then place the camera lens so it is touching the net, use single point focus and place the focus point over the child making sure to focus on them and not the net.

Because the camera has a narrow depth of field it focuses only on the the part of the image you tell it to focus on (the child) and blurs out everything else (the net)

How to make a trampoline safety net vanish in photos

!SO 500, f/14, 1/50

How to make a trampoline safety net vanish in photos

ISO 500, f/2.8, 1/1600

Or have fun with the net…

Sometimes using the trampoline net can produce interesting effects. For the photo below I positioned myself so that Alice’s eyes lined up exactly with the holes in the net, picked a shallow aperture and shot a few inches back so the net and her hands are in focus and she’s not. It’s an unusual image, but it’s also one of my favourite trampoline pictures I’ve taken so far.

How to take great photos on a trampoline - have fun with the net!

ISO 220, f/2.8, 1/250

Take lots of pictures and bin most of them

If your camera is set up correctly you should be firing off a lot of photos in a short space of time and discarding most of them. Kids on trampolines pull a lot of weird faces and a lot of weird poses and even the best photographer in the world won’t be able to anticipate the exact second to press the shutter button, so you have to take lots and be prepared to reject nearly all of them. Binning photos does not make you a bad photographer, it makes you a selective one.

Good light makes all the difference

Of course this rule applies to all photography, but it’s still always worth mentioning. The difference between an average photo and a really great photo is more often than not, light. When you are shooting outside that usually means sunlight. Both the photos above were taken during the late afternoon when the sun was low in the sky. The top one was taken on my sister’s trampoline which her teenagers use and the lower one on our Springfree which has a safety net. Shooting into the son is a tricky thing to master and if you are not quite ready to switch to manual, you can do a lot in post-processing if you shoot in RAW and use software like Adobe Lightroom.

How to take great photos on a trampoline - Chase the sunlight and make the most of the lovely afternoon sun when it is low in the skyHow to take great photos of your kids on the trampoline - practical tips to capture stunning images

Tell them what to do

The children of keen photographers usually get pretty tired of having their photo taken, but being given instructions of the trampoline is an entirely different thing.  Tell them where on the trampoline mat you want to jump and give them challenges like “try and lift your knees up to your chest” or “make a star shape”. Kids love a game and having adults involved in their playtime, so you’ll find they will humour your photo taking for longer.

How to take great photos of your kids on the trampoline this summer - This photo was taken using a clever trick which makes the safety net vanish in photos!

ISO 200, F/2.8, 1/1000 (shot through the netting)

Use the trampoline mat as a background

Trampoline photos don’t have to be all about bouncing, between those high energy moments get your kids to lie down on the mat and stand over them and take some head and shoulders shots. Move the focus point to the eye and open the aperture wide. If you are using Lightroom for post-processing drag the blacks down to ensure a punchy high contrast image.

How to take great photos of your kids on the trampoline this summer - don

ISO 500, f/2.8, 1/250


 

This post is written in association with Springfree Trampolines UK whom we are working with this summer.

how to take great photos on a trampoline

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  • July 29, 2016 - 3:38 pm

    Donna - This is a great post! I have a complete trampoline phobia but I can imagine using these tips to take such great ‘in motion’ pics xReplyCancel

This is a sponsored post with SMA® Nutrition.

Alice was eight months old a couple of weeks ago which means we are already well into solid foods

It’s flown by incredibly quickly and only in the last week or so do I actually feel like I’ve managed to get slightly ahead of the curve with batch cooking purees in advance.

Like Theo she has been really keen to try new foods, but she’s taken enthusiasm for meals to a whole new level and right from the start protested quite strongly and loudly if everyone else was eating something and she wasn’t. Although I haven’t specifically set out to try baby led weaning, she has recently become very keen on feeding herself particularly with rusks or puffed maize baby ‘crisps’ and as they buy me and extra few minutes sorting the rest of her food out, I’m starting to look at other things she can self feed.

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As far as purees go, we started with simple fruit or veg like carrot or apple and have now progressed to trying out meals or combinations of flavours. I used Annabel Karmels books with Theo so I’m taking a lot of recipes from them, but also using Google when I need to mix up something quick and I’m stumped for which flavours to combine! Both butternut squash and pear puree as well as a mix of green vegetables have been very popular, but as I say she hasn’t actually turned refused anything yet, even unsweetened cooking apple puree!

One thing I haven’t got round to adding in to her diet yet is meat. This is partly because I don’t eat a lot of it myself and therefore tend to have a fridge full of vegetables and partly because meat suddenly seems to make meal preparation more complicated. You end up having to make salt free stocks, or having to braise the meat in advance, extra steps which I will get round to having the time for eventually, but at the moment I’ve only just got on top of the vegetarian recipes!

As a result of the lack of meat in her diet and because she had passed the six month mark, I recently decided to switch to SMA PRO Follow-on Milk to complement her weaning diet and ensure she’s getting the right mix of nutrients, including iron which she may lack in other parts of her diet.

SMA PRO Follow-on Milk is SMA Nutrition’s most advanced formula yet which contains Nutri-Steps®, a unique blend of ingredients including Iron to help support normal cognitive development, Vitamin D and Calcium to help support babies normal growth and development of bones and omega 3 & 6.

Having suffered with anaemia during both my pregnancies, I know first hand how horrible it can be for the body to be deprived of iron therefore I wanted to ensure she gets enough of that mineral in her three 200ml milk feeds every day.

Another decision we’ve recently made involves switching Alice’s feeding chair. We originally had her in a birth – toddler booster seat which went on top of a normal chair. It was brilliant when she was very little and we could have her up at our level at the table at breakfast time, but once solid food was introduced the fabric cover became a bit of a nightmare (not least of all because you can’t machine wash it!) So we got Theo’s old plastic highchair out of the loft and swapped it for that. Alice still manages to get food on every surface, but at least it can all be wiped down now. I’m sure Theo wasn’t this messy, or do we just forget?

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Breast milk is best for babies and breastfeeding should continue for as long as possible. SMA PRO Follow-on Milk is for babies over 6 months, as part of a varied weaning diet. Not intended to replace breastfeeding.

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A couple of months ago I gave in to curiosity and bought the bestselling book I Quit Sugar. I wanted to experiment with the idea of minimising or completely removing sugar from my diet and I had a couple of good reasons why. Firstly sugar has always either given me a headache or made me tired. Even one biscuit gives me a noticeable thumping in my head and a small amount of chocolate at lunchtime will mean I’ll be falling asleep by the kids bedtime. Secondly we have a brilliant sugar free and paleo pop-up cafe locally to us which produces amazing delicious treats which I would quite happily trade conventional sweet snacks for, and finally I wanted to reexamine how much sugar I was giving Theo, I had no idea where it fitted on the scale of good or bad, but like most middle class parents I suspected I was probably doing ok.

So the book arrived and I read through the first few chapters nodding along to Sarah Wilson’s introdcution. She believes sugar reeks havoc on our bodies and there’s too much of it in our Western diet. She also says that due to the lack of sweet stuff around when humans evolved our humans never developed an off switch for sweet, which is why even when you can’t eat any more of your main course, you can always find room for pudding.

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Current UK guidelines says adults should have no more than 7 teaspoons a day and children Theo’s age should have no more than 5 teaspoons and despite the bold title of the book what Sarah Wilson is really trying to do is stay within this limit. It sounds like quite a lot, but once you start checking food labels you begin to realise that sugar is in everything in insane quantities. For instance one can of Coke contains 9 teaspoons of sugar which means no one child or adult should ever drink a whole can in a day – wow! (and don’t even start me on Diet drinks!)

So I set out to try and get my sugar intake as close to zero as possible. Sarah says you should have no fruit for the first for weeks, but I choose to retain my fruit consumption. For breakfast I had homemade bread (no sugar) with a banana and hot water with lemon juice to drink. For lunch and supper I scrutinised food labels and found regular food in my diet like fish cakes or breaded chicken had sugar in it, so I cooked everything from scratch.

Happily for me I love crisps, dips, pitta and cheese and so these became my new “treats” and I was quite content to swap a pudding for oat cakes and cheese in the evening. However you have to check everything for sugar. Salted crisps are generally ok, but some salt and vinegar crisps have sugar and some do not, flavoured crisps are sadly laced with it. When it comes to dips, gucamole and hummus are sugar free, but taramosalata and tomato salsa are not. Cheese is fine and Sarah has a section talking about how we have all been mislead over fat and how important it is for our bodies. I was already a great believer in this anyway and we have been a full fat household (including milk) for some time.

I Quit Sugar is also a recipe book, but I have to confess I found the recipes were not good! I tried the raspberry ripple pudding which was like eating coconut flavoured soap, absolutely dire! Morgana also tried a couple of recipes and was not impressed. It’s s ashame because my experience with our local pop up cafe shows that great sugar free desserts can be made… just clearly not from this book!

Did I notice a difference?

Yes! No more headaches or falling asleep at the kids bedtime and I stayed fuller for longer when I ate less but ate savoury. Although it wasn’t my intention I also lost half a stone in just over a month. My palette adjusted to lower levels of sweetness and things I loved before I cut down on sugar lost their appeal. I regularly make Lobster Risotto using a tinned bisque and when I cooked it halfway through my sugar free experiment I found the taste horribly sweet and couldn’t finish eating it. I’ve never cooked it since! I also couldn’t eat a chocolate sponge pudding which my mum cooked.

How did the book change what I eat?

After reading the book I’ve been made aware of how much stealth sugar I’m consuming every week in savoury foods and it has changed what I buy forever.  If I’m going to try and keep within my 7 teaspooons a day I want to use that quota on things that are actually supposed to be sweet and not waste it when I lazily pick one bag of crisps over another. I now only buy sugar free crisps, I’ve ditched fruit juice at breakfast time in favour of hot water and lemon, I don’t buy yoghurts, I’ve swapped stock cubes for boullion and I’ve changed the brand of mayonnaise I buy.

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My involvement with a local community project has also made me aware of the virtues of “raw” honey which is honey produced by bees who only have a natural diet and are not fed refined sugar in the winter, so we now only buy our honey raw.

As far as alcohol goes, I now tend to stick to the odd glass of red wine and avoid the more sugar laden white stuff. I have also steered clear of Pimms this summer. Theo’s sugar consumption is something I’m still dealing with, a small carton to apple juice which I’ve allowed him to have for a snack at after school clubs has more sugar in it than he should have in a day (!) and two petit filous contain more than half his daily allowance

Should I try going sugar free?

Yes, but I suggest borrowing the book from the local library (or a friend) if you can. The first 40 or so pages are interesting reading and a great foundation for how and why you should lower your sugar intake, but the recipes themselves are pretty useless.

So here’s a blog post I never thought I’d write, the last time Jim and I had a discussion about buying a tent was 9 years ago and the result of that conversation was that I very quickly persuaded Jim to buy an RV instead! After a series of adventures on the Canadian prairie (and even one night in Montana!) we sold our mobile home when we left Canada and for the last 7 years we’ve been out of the camping game.

During that time we’ve talked a lot about how we could change that, but never found quite the right solution, for one thing mobile homes and caravans are not quite as exciting or as plentiful this side of the Atlantic and we had nowhere to store one. Then two weeks ago on a rare night out at our local pub, I got hijacked by some of my neighbours and taken to an impromptu communal camping supper and there in the field was a bell tent.

I don’t know why, but I’ve always thought of bell tents as things you hire, not things you buy and it was a revelation that you could actually own one, complete with the associated glamping comfort. I sent Jim a text that evening and told him we had to buy one and so a week later we actually did. A very rare example of me making an impetuous purchase!

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Even though it was a speedy purchase, we spent a fair bit of time researching not just the tent, but the stuff to go inside it, having taken the bold step of deciding to sleep under canvas, I really really didn’t want it to be a bad experience.

The tent itself is a 5 metre with a zipped in ground sheet and we bought it from Boutique Camping. We debated for a long time between 4 and 5 metres and although I am usually the one who prefers the smaller option in any given scenario, in this case I am really glad we opted for 5 metres, it is in no way too big.

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Inside we chose two single Coleman durarest air beds, made up as a superking with a fleece topper and duvet and pillows. Theo got a more basic cheaper Intex junior airbed (also with his duvet) and Alice had her travel cot with a blackout blind that fits over the top.

I was pretty sure we could heap on a load of duvets/quilts/blankets and keep warm whatever the weather but I was really worried about taking a baby to sleep out and after a particularly chilly night last week (where it got down to 12c) I caved in and let Jim buy a logburner for the tent….and almost immediately a heatwave happened!

Our first camp out was this weekend for the school camping trip. We were literally 5 minutes down the road which meant we could nip home if it went wrong or we forgot anything. Amazingly neither of those things happened, though the proximity of our own bathroom did mean both Jim and I nipped home for a shower during the day on Saturday!

Theo had a brilliant time running free with his friends all weekend, playing in the open air, climbing trees and kayaking in the harbour and Alice seemed to get on ok too, sleeping through the night without problems.

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Crucially Jim and I also enjoyed it. There were no chores to distract us and we both spent loads of time just chatting to people and relaxing. On the Saturday night there was a communal barbecue and campfire where everyone came together to see the kids put on a show and roast marshmallows. It honestly beat anything that was on the TV over the weekend and it made me so happy to see the kids enjoying simple pleasures (even if there was a brief Pokemon hunt at one point!)

Now we’re back home with everything packed away it’s taken less than 24 hours to have a discussion with someone about a second trip! Initially I felt it was cheating to not travel far, but with a huge range of lovely sites on our doorstep we’ve discovered that in the short-term we can get our camping fix without going far or getting stuck in Friday afternoon traffic jams.

The bell tent has another added use, it’s great to put up at parties and as I’ve got a significant birthday next month it’ll definitely be making an appearance in our garden, dressed as a “lounge” rather than a bedroom!

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  • July 21, 2016 - 12:05 pm

    Jan - isisjem - A lot of people that camp do so on their own doorstep. My partner bought a motor home about 18 months ago. Neither of us are into camping (He’s done too much of that at work over the years!) but it’s completely different going away in Gertie. Even if we don’t always leave the county to do so! Your tent looks lovely. It might almost persuade me to camp!ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2016 - 8:17 am

    Emma - Oooooh, we ‘re holding a mini festival soon and a bell tent would be an amazing addition! It looks great. xReplyCancel