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  • Pickle at the Ice Age exhibition at Botanical Gardens

    Ice Age: The Lost Kingdom at Birmingham Botanical Gardens

    I’ve a lot of love for the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. It’s such a beautiful expanse in amidst our bustling city, offering lots for little ones to explore, a brilliant park area and so much gorgeous photography opportunities. This week, we ventured down with some friends to see the new Ice Age exhibition: a trail of over 40 installations of animated life-sized beasts, including a Sabre Tooth Tiger, Mastodon and the centre piece Woolly Mammoth.

    Our Day Out

    I’d first heard about the Ice Age exhibition from a new friend at work. Our boys are both very similar in age and she had planned on going, sending me the details as she correctly guessed that it sounded up my street! A few days later, I had an email invitation to check out a preview of the attraction, and I knew just who would make for the perfect companions on our trip. read more

    Days Out, Parenting, Reviews
    / April 7, 2019
  • Cei Bach Country Club

    Our Family Camps at Cei Bach, Wales

    Seeing as my ‘Our Family Camps’ series is counting down to our first big family camping holiday, it only makes sense to write a little about where we’re going… because, we know it pretty well! It’s definitely not new to us. In fact, I often refer to it as my second home. I’ve been going camping there since I was a baby myself, and I think there’s only a few years where I’ve missed out. The Cei Bach Country Club, near New Quay in Wales has given me a hoard of childhood memories, and I hope that it gives Pickle his own precious memories to treasure too. To tell the truth, he’s already been there once before too!

    Camping, Countryside, Lifestyle, Parenting, UK Travel
    / July 5, 2017
  • TJ Hughes Gifts for Men

    Cheers to the Dads with TJ Hughes

    I’ve been so wrapped up in preparations for Pickle’s upcoming first birthday, that it almost slipped my mind that it’s also Father’s Day soon (Sunday 18th June, if you need a quick reminder – it’s always the third Sunday in June). Since I’ve become a parent, I really appreciate the significance of both Mother’s and Father’s Day. Obviously, I’ve always been super thankful and proud of both of my parents and these days are a good excuse to show them a bit more love and treat them to a nice family experience, but now these holidays (can you call them holidays?) just take on a whole new level of meaning. I get why it’s so important. This year will be the first that LPD isn’t able to celebrate with his own Dad, so even more than his first Father’s Day last year, I really want this year to be as lovely as it can be for him. He deserves lots of treats.

    With maternity pay long since finished and a bank account that is no longer being replenished by a healthy monthly income, I was worried that it would be perhaps a bit weird to buy LPD his present with our joint account money (that he mainly pays into…) but thankfully, TJ Hughes came to the rescue and offered us the chance to test out some of their Gifts for Men ideas.

    I confess: I’m actually really rubbish at buying gifts for LPD. He once remarked that I only ever buy him things that benefit myself too, like days out or DVDs. Which is kind of true but only because I value the memories from experiences more than material things. It’s definitely something I’m trying to combat now that he’s mentioned it, in order to try and reverse his opinion that I’m a selfish present buyer. I’m not sure it’s working yet… especially because I picked him a present from TJ Hughes that we’ll both enjoy: a Wireless Outdoor Speaker.

    Akai Wireless Outdoor Speaker

    With the weather (FINALLY) picking up, and our first proper family camping trip on the horizon, I thought this would be a very apt present! We love having music on in our house – there’s not a day goes by that I don’t pop a Spotify playlist on and with this outdoor speaker, we can now also enjoy music in the garden and whilst we’re out and about.

    Costing only £19.99, I was a bit skeptical about what the sound quality would be like but actually, it’s pretty good! Not quite the same depth of quality as you’d get from a proper stereo but definitely better than cranking up the volume on your iPhone. It’s super easy to set up and can play music via Bluetooth or via an AUX cable/SD card. It recharges using a USB cable, but be warned: it doesn’t come with a mains plug. Luckily, we have a USB mains plug charger thing from Ikea which makes it easy to connect but otherwise, I’d have had to connect it to my laptop to charge which feels like a bit of a faff.

    I absolutely adore this photo… you see that look of adoration of LPD’s face? That’s because he’s looking up at Pickle. And that pure look alone is why he deserves to have the most wonderful of Father’s Days. Selfishly, I’m quite looking forward to enjoying a morning cup of tea outside our tent in the future, with some relaxing music in the background.

    Paul Smith Essentials 100ml Eau De Toilette

    His next gift from TJ Hughes was a Paul Smith fragrance. Now, surely I can’t be blamed of being selfish on this one? I won’t be using this particular gift (although, I suppose I get the benefit of smelling it?). For years, I’ve been buying LPD the same fragrance (Avon Wilderness, in case you’re interested – no expense spared) and so it’s about time to switch things up a little bit. I wouldn’t usually order a fragrance online without being able to smell it first, and I did find it quite difficult to choose between the scents on offer, so I did what you should never do and judged the books by their covers: going for the bottle I liked the look of the most! It’s quite a simple bottle shape, but I thought the line of colour at the bottom made it look quite classy.

    Thankfully, it’s quite a nice scent! I’d say it’s quite heavy so more suited to evening than daywear, although that hasn’t put LPD off using a surprising amount (!) before heading to work. You can’t really go wrong with buying smellies as a present though, can you? It always feels like a treat and especially for parents of babies – there’s always an unsavoury baby smell to cover up!

    Stuck for Present Ideas?

    If you’re stuck for present ideas, I’d recommend checking out the Gifts for Men section on the TJ Hughes website. There are things to suit all manner of budgets, covering tech-gadgets, clothing, fragrances, kitchen and novelty items, with added benefits of 10% off your first online order and the option for next day delivery if you leave it a bit late. There’s some Gold Plated Playing Cards that caught my eye for a cool present! I reckon my brother might like those, as he sometimes hosts poker nights with his friends… but he’s not a Dad yet so he’ll have to wait until his birthday.

    Now to get my thinking cap for something that we can do on Father’s Day to make it a memorable one for LPD. With these gifts, I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for nice weather because a big family picnic might be just the ticket! I’m even tempted to create a Spotify playlist especially for the occasion that’s all Daddy-related. Are there many Dad songs out there? Let me know if you can think of any.

    Disclaimer: TJ Hughes sent us these items in return for my honest review and to try out their Gifts for Men ideas. All opinions remain my own.

    Countryside, Parenting, Reviews
    / May 24, 2017
  • Pickle is Two Months old

    Considering I have a two months old baby boy, I don’t think I could be more chilled as I sit and write this. I’m currently watching Pickle snooze in his pram, in the sunshine, outside my parents’ touring caravan near New Quay, Wales – dolphin central! It’s glorious. I used to come here every year (believe it or not) and when we were trying to organise Pickle’s first seaside experience, it was top of my list. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… I’m such a creature of habit.  LPD should have just finished his day at work and will be whisking his way to join us by catching a train from Birmingham (hopefully in the right direction… He has been known to board trains going the opposite way before now!).

    0-6 Months, Parenting
    / August 10, 2016