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Our Water Babies swimming class experience

When we visited Eurocamp in June one of the free activities we tried as a family were the Learn To Swim classes. At the time Alice was only 7 months old and we were actually trying to get Theo to swim, not her, but she surprised us all by being noticeably confident and enthusiastic in the pool, so much so that the teacher asked us how many lessons she’d already had! When we came home and I had the best of intentions to embrace her enthusiasm and enroll her in some baby swim classes, but somehow never got round to it… until fate intervened and Water Babies asked me to try lessons with them for a term.

national baby swimming week

I had no idea what to expect, I sort of vaguely new of Water Babies because of their famous photos of babies swimming underwater, but I didn’t know how that fitted into the curriculum or how early babies can start swimming. We’ve been attending lessons for a couple of months now and Alice has risen to every challenge thrown at her. I had dreaded the thought of going to a massive public pool with tiny cubicles and so was pleased and relieved to discover my local classes are held at a rather exclusive health club with a view of the golf course. I won’t lie, it’s still pretty exhausting wrestling a baby into and out of swimwear once a week, but at least I get to do it in very nice surroundings and big cubicles!

This week is National Baby Swimming Week and so I’m sharing my thoughts and experiences on the classes so far in the video below. We started at the very beginning in September with the tiny babies and then moved up to Chapter 5 with the babies who are one year and older so I’ve seen quite a broad spectrum of teaching.

When I was talking to Water Babies last week they mentioned some statistics they had about the large number of children who start primary school not being able to swim and it really hit a chord because Theo is a year into school and we still haven’t cracked it with him, despite having access to a family pool in the summer. My blogging partnership with Water Babies will end in a couple of weeks, but we have already decided to stay on as paying customers to give Alice the best possible chance of swimming independently as soon as she’s able.

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Shark hoodies, upcycled formula tins and organic cotton #LittleLoves

We’ve had a busy but enjoyable week this week. Jim has been off for half-term which has meant we’ve been able to tick a few DIY jobs off the list. Some jobs were small like putting up a shelf up or fixing a plumbing problem, others a little bigger, like constructing a deck to form our veranda at the front of the house, which he has been working on for the last couple of days.

And it’s Alice’s first birthday today! Although we’ll actually be doing our celebrating tomorrow when we see family. The great thing about children’s birthdays when they are younger is that you can move them slightly to suit everyone’s plans… The other great thing is that they are none the wiser if you are making a quilt for their birthday and it’s going to be a few days late!



A friend of mine pointed me in the direction of this article in the Guardian which questions whether our obsession with sharing our food on social media (and Instagram in particular) is unhealthy for our diets and for food waste. It’s an interesting read and a timely reminder that as bloggers we have the power to influence for better and for worse.


A couple of weeks ago I was going through the Telegraph’s list of the best films available on Amazon Prime and I discovered 99 Homes, a film about the housing crash in America. It’s one of the best and most thought provoking movies I have seen for a while. Unusually for me I sat glued to it and watched the entire thing without picking up my tablet or phone. I’d never heard of it before I saw it on the Telegraph list, but it’s gripping and really worth watching.


We’ve been binge watching season 2 of Nashville this week while Jim has been on leave. As a long-time closet country music fan I am loving the music in it and have added the soundtrack(s) to my Christmas list.


This week I used some of the leftover Novasol spray paint from Theo’s dip dye highchair to spray one of my last formula tins. It’s now a useful and attractive storage container for dead batteries next to my computer.  I still have a couple more tins which will get madeover when I have paint leftover from another project


I’ve also been working on that previously mentioned memory quilt for Alice which is made from her baby clothes…

Memory quilt in progress...


Since I embraced the capsule wardrobe phenomenon earlier this year I have been trying to be more thoughtful and conscientious about the clothes I buy. I want to buy things that will last and are made sustainably as much as possible. One thing I try to seek out is organic cotton, not just because cotton crops use a disproportionate amount of fertilizer, but also because I can feel the difference in the end product. I love these ones I picked up from People Tree


Theo has also been enjoying wearing his brilliant handmade shark hoodie from JJ Jiraffe. Vicky who makes the clothes has some lovely stuff including dinosaur hoodies (for both genders) and a lovely selection of fabrics you can choose for baby leggings, she also does giveaways, dips and market sales on her facebook page. We are collaborating with her at the moment in an ambassador role to help her promote this already successful small business.


And lastly..

Theo and I went to a brilliant 6th birthday party yesterday at Tuppenny Barn, our local organic growing small holding. Amazing weather and simple fun activities for the kids to take part in which they all loved. It was unlike any kids birthday party I have ever been to. And talking of Tuppenny, if you are near Chichester, they are organising a ethical fashion event in a couple of weeks which I’m going to. It’s only £10 a ticket and you can find out more here.

Joining with Morgana for Little Loves.

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Kite flying at West Wittering #MamiaDaysOut

Earlier this year we were introduced to the brilliant National Trust 50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 3/4 books. They are full of simple but wonderful childhood milestones that kids need to tick off their list. Some of them we had done already, but some we have set out specifically to achieve.

Over the summer a lovely neighbour of ours took Theo and I on a twilight bat walk with bat detectors so we could complete the “night-time nature walk” page and for Theo’s birthday we asked Jim’s dad to buy him a kite so we could introduce him to the thrill of flying one…and tick off that challenge too.


We didn’t have to wait too long for a windy day or have to travel too far for a spot to fly the kite. West Wittering beach is a short drive from us and East Head, the National Trust owned sandy spit at the end, is a lovely place to spend the morning and secluded enough that we didn’t have to worry about Theo crashing the kite into anyone.


We’d also recently been invited to try out some of Aldi’s new Mamia 100% Organic range of baby and toddler foods, so we took a hamper of snacks with us to keep the children entertained. I had worried that the Stage 1 fruit purees might be too young for Alice (who turns 1 in a couple of weeks) but as it turns out she is now able to experience the pouches in a new way by feeding herself with the contents, in fact they proved to be very useful later that week when she was teething, tired and grumpy and sachets were an excellent quick way to get healthy food into her.


Also in our package were a couple of bags of mini rice cakes and an Apple & Blackcurrant drink (recommended from 6 months) which Theo really enjoyed, though I have to say the container was quite enormous and we ended up bringing it home half full. Smaller ones of these would be really handy for days out.


The kite flying was a great success, there were no collisions and only two crashes to the ground towards the end when we weren’t paying attention as much as we should have! The kite came out of it unscathed and was very easy to fly.

We were also impressed by the new additions to the Mamia range, in particular (as you would expect from Aldi!) the fruit pouches are very competitively priced (from 59p) and handy to keep in the cupboard as a very easy transportable snack. We will be getting a few more to keep in stock next time I’m in store.

If you’re interested Theo’s ‘easy to fly’ kids kite was from Amazon. It’s currently out of stock, but this one is very similar. The new range of Mamia baby and toddler food is available from Aldi, with puree pouches for 59p (with a box of 5 for £1.79)  apple and blackcurrant drink for 85p and rice cakes for 65p.

This post is an entry for BritMums #MamiaDaysOut Linky Challenge, sponsored by Aldi Mamia

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Choosing a trampoline – real life owners experiences

Buying a trampoline is likely to be one of the more expensive purchases that most parents make, but how do you decide how big to go both with size and budget and what are the factors you should take into consideration when you choose which one to buy.

I talked to four families in different parts of the world with very different budgets and found out about their experiences.

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Inset day fun at an empty Chessington!

Inset day fun at an empty Chessington!

by Clare Mansell

As anyone with a school age child knows, inset days are a bit of a gift when it comes to visiting tourist spots in term time. When Theo had one today we decided to use our annual Merlin passes to visit Chessington World Of Adventures. It should have been a great opportunity a family outing for all four of us, but Alice started teething over the weekend, so in the end I had to stay at home with her, whilst Jim and Theo had a boys outing.


It’s several decades since either Jim or I have visited Chessington so we did some research beforehand about whether Thorpe Park or Chessington woud be better for a day out with a 5 year-old. Thorpe Park seems to be targeted more towards teenagers, with Chessington having more rides suitable for younger kids with less height restrictions and of course the added bonus of the safari park too.

The boys had a pretty clear run up from the south coast and arrived at Chessington at 11am. The site was very quiet and went straight through and jumped on the Scorpion Express because it looked quiet and they didn’t know what the rest of the park would be like… they needn’t have worried! Despite arriving late, the whole attraction stayed quiet all day and there were no queues for any of the rides. They said the most they had in front of them were three people and on most rides they were asked if they wanted to stay on for a second go – perfect!

chessington2 (1 of 1)

Having a boys day out also meant that Jim was able to take Theo on ‘Vampire’ his first proper rollercoaster ride. He apparently enjoyed it more than me, Jim famously took me on one 9 years ago on our honeymoon and I still haven’t forgiven him! Having seen the video of the ride on youtube, I was amazed that Vampire isn’t one of the rides with height restrictions.

One thing that has changed since Jim and I were kids (or at least in our memory) is that the safari park part isn’t separate to the rides. In fact the first thing they saw when they walked in was otters…followed by penguins…and then a ride! Talking of animals the Zufari ride (were you sit on the back of a truck and get driven through the animals habitat) was also a big hit. They saw giraffes, white rhinos and ostriches. They also tried out Tomb Blaster where you shoot targets with infra-red guns on a ride, Tuk Tuk Turmoil (bumper cars) and Hocus Pocus Hall which is a haunted house.

chessington3 (1 of 1)chessington4 (1 of 1)

They also enjoyed the Pandamonium theatre experience, although I did have to check when I saw the pictures whether the panda was a real one (it’s not!)

It was interesting looking on Facebook today and seeing that several of Theo’s school friends had similar ideas about how to spend their inset day with one of his classmates heading for Legoland. Having last used our passes for a couple of London attractions in the summer holidays, we will definitely target inset days in future for our visits.

And if you’re thinking of visiting a Merlin attraction over the next couple of months, there is loads going on…

  • At Legoland Manchester between now and Thursday 20th October, the attraction will be transformed into the world of Ninjago as visitors embark on an epic Day of the Departed adventure. There’s Master Model Building classes to create your own LEGO® Ninjago Eye Mask, a LEGO® Ninjago Laser Maze and a load of other attractions.
  • The otters are the National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham are being kept busy with a cool activity mat which keeps their little minds active and has them entertained for days on end. The BUSTER ActivityMat presents the user with a range of problem solving tasks which massively helps their development. With any group of tasks, some they find easy, and some they find more difficult, but that’s the whole fun of it.


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