Thursday, 26 May 2016

Igniting our senses on a family holiday in Dubai

Most people wouldn't think that Dubai is an ideal place for a family holiday. You say the word Dubai and people think of the rich and famous, luxury resorts and expensive things. However, after having a very fleeting 2 day visit there on a stopover last year, I can honestly say it is one of the most child friendly countries we have ever been to.

On our visit it was hubby, myself (pregnant) and our daughter Eva who at the time was 2.5 years old. One of the first things that was apparent was that everyone was very friendly. They adore children and families and can't do enough for you. They make you feel very welcome wherever you go. With only a couple of days there, we barely scratched the surface of all that Dubai has to offer for a young family. It left us wanting to return.

As you know we are now a family of 4. Eva is currently 3.5 years old and Ophelia is 6 months old. Having children has never stopped us from travelling. When we travel we like to  visit cultures that can offer something for all of us. We like our children to have fun but be educated through travel. As the saying goes, travelling is great for the soul, so here are 5 things that we would love to do in Dubai to ignite our senses and make special memories to last a lifetime.


The Dubai fountain features a show that shoots water as high as 450ft and is on daily. The lights that are used in the show are actually visible from space which makes it the brightest spot in the middle east. It is the world's largest dancing fountain. It's a spectacle not to be missed and i'm sure all of us, especially the girls would find it mesmerising.



Smell - Kite Beach

There is no better smell than that of the beach and the sea. The scent of salty water, the sea breeze and the sun tan lotion provide a sense of calm and serenity. 
Kite beach offers plenty of activities if resting is not your thing. You can spot all the kitesurfers or have a go yourself, test your core strength with stand up paddling, get some exercise in the gym or play football. The beach is always a winner with our family.



Who isn't fascinated by animals? To be able to see them is a wonder itself but to be able to experience them up close and personal, gives a real insight into their nature and beauty. Dolphins are always guaranteed to put a smile on someone's face. We would love to be able to have an encounter with one and of course get a big huge kiss on the lips from these curious mammals.



This was one place we were lucky enough to visit before. Eva had a blast there, as did we. There are rides and adventure play areas for all ages. Hubby had a scary thrill on The Tower of Neptune and we all enjoyed the river rapids. One thing I can remember distinctively is the sounds on the day. The water being splashed as people ran through it, the squeals of delight from children as they tried to avoid the huge bucket of water soaking them, the screams from the adults as they raced down a slide and above all the laughter that was being enjoyed by all the family. 


Taste Al Mahara

Dubai is a foodie's paradise. You can experience any cuisine at the highest quality at whatever time of day. There is something for everyone. We are a foodie family that also enjoys fine dining. We would love to experience the restaurant 'Al Mahara'. Al Mahara translated is The Oyster Shell. Not only would we all have our taste buds tantalised but we would be surrounded by beautiful marine life making it an unforgettable family dining experience. It would leave Eva feeling like she was under the sea as a real life mermaid.



So there you have it. So much to see and do for a young family. I could have included so many more experiences as the list really is endless.

This is my entry into the Tots 100 Dubai Dreams blogger challenge where we can win a family trip to Dubai. But what is really amazing is that if you share your Dubai dreams with me in the comment section below, you too could also win a trip. 




SHARE:

Sunday, 22 May 2016

TotsBots EasyFit Star Cloth Nappy Review

Using cloth nappies has honestly never occurred to me before. I never used them with Eva and I hadn't thought about using them with Ophelia. I have to admit the idea seemed very alien to me. I had been hearing a lot of good things about them and started to wonder what all the fuss was about. 

TotsBots got in contact with me to see if Ophelia and I would like to try out their latest launch which is the Easyfit Star. I decided to give it a go to see why everyone I know who uses them raves about them.

We were sent 5 nappies and the first thing that caught my eye was how bright and bold they were. Gone are the days when they were just simple plain cloth with a nappy pin attached. These were modern and trendy. More of a fashion statement.

We've been using them for just over a month to make sure we could get a good feel for them.


One thing that really surprised both hubby and I was how easy they were to put on. They are exactly the same as a regular disposable nappy with velcro fastening. I got the impression that they would be a bit of a faff to use but it seems they have evolved. There are no liners to replace and nothing to tie, it is simply a nappy. 

The material is strong and durable but is very soft against Ophelia's skin. The fabrics are all natural so they are very gentle.




The nappy has held absorbency for about 1.5 - 2 hours. As the material is nice and thick we haven't had any leakage problems onto her clothes. We've only been using them during the day as Ophelia has always been a very good sleeper and more often than not sleeps all the way through at night. I wouldn't want to wake her to be changing a nappy every couple of hours. 

We didn't pick the best time to start using these as in the last month Ophelia has cut 2 more teeth and we have started weaning her so you know what's coming....atomic nappies. We only have 5, so with them needing to be changed every couple of hours for urine and then with all the pooping that's been going on, we simply haven't been able to keep up with the washing. We have had to use normal nappies as well as the cloth ones.


They wash very well and can be placed in a normal load with your other items. I found that if I washed them the same day they were soiled with poop the stains came out straight away. I was also given a tip of hanging them on a washing line in the sun to dry to help with any stains and I have to say this works.

They are a lot bulkier than a normal nappy so bare that in mind for when you are putting them in a change bag. Luckily for me I always have a Mary Poppins style huge bag so there was plenty of room for them.

I'll be honest and say I was gobsmacked at the price of these when I first saw them. They are either £15.99 for a plain style one or £16.99 for a pattern one. However, when you compare that to how many reusable nappies you would use it would be a massive saving. Yes the initial outlay is a lot but the benefits for your pocket and the environment are much better.

Overall, we have been really pleased with them. The only thing I will say is you do need a good stash as we haven't had enough for a day. I'm definitely going to buy some reusable swim nappies from them as I think they will be a definite money saver. We don't go swimming that often so they will be perfect for us. They will also be ideal for our upcoming summer holiday. 


SHARE:

Saturday, 21 May 2016

The Weather - An Insight Into My PostNatal Depression


I wake up and the sky is clear. There isn't a cloud in the sky and the sun is shining. I feel its warmth wrap around my body and I smile.


As the day progresses I feel a change. There are suddenly hints of grey in the sky and the clouds begin to appear. I can sense there is a storm on the horizon. The wind starts to pick up and it circles around me like a full force tornado. I feel trapped. I can't escape its power. It's constantly circling around me. Around and around. Its strength keeps me from breaking free. I just want to get out. I feel scared.

Then comes the rain. The dreaded rain. It hammers down and I feel every hit. Every drop keeps hitting me. It runs down my face. A constant stream like a waterfall. I can't protect myself from it. I become frustrated.

What's that I hear? Rumbles or cracks. I feel confused. I hear it again. It keeps coming and going. It gets closer. The closer it gets the stronger I feel it. Now the storm is in its full glory. The thunder and lightening are battling each other. I can't concentrate. How can I make a decision on how to break free from the storm?

Now i'm angry. The storm is getting to me. It's attacking me from every angle and breaking me. The only way I can save myself from the storm is to hide. I withdraw from the outside world and I seek sanity in my own loneliness. Now it's just me in a room. I've escaped the storm. I close my eyes and tell myself tomorrow is another day.

When I open them I notice the storm has cleared. I look at the sky and it's bright blue. Everything is calm and quiet. It's almost serene. The sun is shining again. 
SHARE:

Friday, 20 May 2016

It's SUPAcalifragilisticexpialidocious

We recently went on a little holiday to the amazing Disneyland Paris. We knew we needed a good stroller for Ophelia that would meet the needs of a busy trip. We travelled there by Eurostar so we needed something that was easy to use for train travel and something that would stand the test of time being used pretty much all day, in a variety of weather conditions. 


We were very lucky to be sent a Supa stroller from the fantastic company Cosatto. This is the first product we've used from them, so we were very excited. They have great goals when it comes to baby products and that is to create fun and quirky products that allow baby to enjoy the ride and be happy. 



Here's how we got on:

I Love To Laugh

One thing I can say about this stroller is it's a showstopper.  The print is called Kokeshi Smile and everybody who turned their heads to admire it all had a huge smile on their face. You can't help but smile at the print. It's bright, bold, fun, eye catching and cute all at the same time. The little dolls on it actually reminded me of Ophelia. They are adorable.




The colours on the stroller are right up my street. Pretty pinks and pastel greens, absolutely ooze summer and happiness which was a perfect match to use in a place that brings such joy.


A bonus of having such a bold print on a stroller in a busy theme park is that when you have to leave it to go on a ride, it stands out upon your return. It's very easy to find.

Step In Time

The Supa stroller handles and drives very well. It's very easy to manoeuvre and feels light but sturdy to push. This is probably because it has front and rear suspension. 

The brake is very easy to engage. So much so that Eva, who is 3 was able to do it. 

It is very lightweight which makes it ideal for travelling. It actually won an award last year for being the best lightweight stroller. When it's folded up I can easily carry it with one hand. I also managed to carry it up and down some stairs when Ophelia was in it and I am by no means a bodybuilder. 

It's easy to fold up and down and you can do it one handed. Once folded it's compact and has a clip to keep it secure. it also has a very useful handle which makes it easy for carrying on your shoulder. It can also stand on its own when it's folded which again was great for travel. I have to say I was rather impressed by this feature.

Stay Awake

Disneyland at times can be very over stimulating and both Eva and Ophelia couldn't always keep their eyes open to enjoy it all. As much as they fought the temptation to fall asleep, the 'Supa' comfortable stroller was just too enticing. 


Ophelia always looked extremely relaxed, content, happy and chilled whilst in it. It was certainly comfortable and she was as snug as a bug. The stroller itself comes with a lovely soft cosy toe which has a very handy kangaroo pouch for placing arms in. Ophelia was too small to enjoy this luxury but if ever Eva was in it she placed her arms in the pouch which kept them warm during the chilly nights. Something I only realised when we came back is that the cosy toe is actually reversible. Silly mummy.




The stroller can be used from age newborn and therefore has a complete recline option. You can adjust the recline easily with one hand into 4 different positions. I found this very easy to do when either of them was asleep and it didn't wake them up.

A Spoonful Of Sugar

The stroller is most definitely a boredom buster and comes complete with a multimedia  gadget pocket and speakers. This is going to be like marmite in the parenting world. Some people will love it and some will hate it. We are on the love it camp.

I'll admit, in everyday use where you are just going for a walk, I don't agree with its use but when you are at places like a theme park, it's a godsend. Waiting around for parades and fireworks can be very boring especially for toddlers. I can't begin to tell you how much of a lifesaver it was to be able to pop Eva in the stroller when she was bored of standing still and allowing her to enjoy a Disney movie on the iPad to keep her occupied. It kept her calm when she was tired and cranky from waiting around.

You could also use things such as flashcards or photos in it. The choice is yours. Perhaps you could put nature or animal themed flashcards in there to encourage a game of spot what's on the card.

Let's Go Fly A Kite

In an ideal world, the sun would always be shining when we go away. However, that doesn't always happen. On our first day at Disney we were wandering around in t-shirts basking in the sun but on the very same day, it absolutely hammered down with rain in the evening. 



Luckily, the stroller comes with a very large raincover. When it was fully on, It was big enough that it pretty much covered the entire stroller. This was exactly what we needed. The raincover fit well into the basket underneath the stroller whenever it wasn't in use.


For when the sun was shining the canopy provided good protection from the rays as it has an extendable feature which makes it drop down more than most strollers. This is also great for when it was windy.


Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

I thought this song was very apt for everything else I have to say. It's the word you use when you don't know what to say. The problem is I have so many things to say about the stroller that i'm worried i'll miss something out. 

One thing we really loved was that we were able to use the stroller for both the girls. When Eva was tired, as Disney is a lot of walking for little legs, we were able to put her in the Supa and carry Ophelia in our baby carrier. This saved us so many times. It would have been awful to have had to take two strollers with us. The less you have to take when travelling, the better.

The storage basket for the stroller is a really good size. We managed to fit quite a few things in there such as the raincover, spare coats and blankets. The only problem we found was that when the seat was fully reclined we couldn't really get anything out of the basket which was rather annoying. 

There is a handy viewing window on the top of the stroller which has a magnetic fastening. I love to be able to have a sneaky peak at them when they are asleep to make sure they are safe. 

The seat section is fully removable and easy to wash. 



Jolly Holiday

Overall, we loved using the stroller on our trip away. It was lightweight and easy to use on the Eurostar journey and a joy to push around at the parks. I now use it all the time at home.  Just today I had an admirer come up and ask where it was from. You can buy the Supa stroller here for £210, Cosatto or browse the other quirky designs they have available.

There's not much more left to say other than the SUPAcalifragilisticexpialidocious stroller is in our opinion just like Mary Poppins herself 'practically perfect in every way,'. 



SHARE:

Thursday, 12 May 2016

A Food Journey At The Celtic Manor Resort

You may or may not know that hubby and I are complete foodies. We adore food and everything that goes with it. We love to cook and play with flavour combinations. He makes his own chocolate truffles and I enjoy eating them. 

We also love nothing more than eating out whether that be in a Michelin starred restaurant or at a local deli. Our finest foodie experience to date was when we ate at restaurant Gordon Ramsay which is 3 Michelin-starred. It was incredible. Whenever we go out for food we always aim to try something new or something we can't cook at home.

I was delighted to have recently had the opportunity to try out some of the latest food offerings at The Celtic Manor which is my favourite hotel in South Wales. Hubby was gutted as he couldn't attend but I got to go with a lovely blogger friend of mine Leanne who writes over at A Slice Of My Life Wales.

The first stop on our food journey was at the new Signature Lounge for drinks and canapés. The lounge is part of an exclusive floor that has been created for adults only. There are newly refurbished bedrooms, the lounge and a restaurant as part of this collection. The lounge was modern but has a cosiness about it. The views were beautiful. 





The canapés were a selection from the brand new restaurant, Steak On Six. The whole Jamón Credo De Campo was my favourite. It comes from acorn-fed pigs and has been matured for up to 3 years. My mouth is salivating just remembering it. 
I also really enjoyed the asparagus, pea and welsh feta panna cotta. It was something unusual that I haven't seen before. 



We then had a tour of the restaurant which is uniquely decorated, combining cow print with modern decor to create a relaxed and rustic vibe. There are floor to ceiling windows which provide a stunning backdrop in which take in views of the lovely Coldra woods and countryside.

Next up was something very special. We were treated to a dish from The Epicure Experience by chef Richard Davies. Richard Davies is a Michelin-starred chef who has previously worked at Gordon Ramsay's restaurant, (no wonder I enjoyed the food so much). 



Our dish was taken from the starter menu which was scallops with beetroot and cauliflower. I am a huge fan of scallops and these were some of the best I've ever tasted. They were a good size and the combination of flavours created a party in my mouth. There were different cooking techniques and textures on the plate which created a unique but mouth watering dish. 

We then had a masterclass by chef Larkin Cen on how to prepare and cook Peking duck. Chef Larkin Cen was a finalist on Masterchef in 2013 and is passionate about pan Asian cooking. This was clearly reflected in his demonstration.



The class was very insightful and I learnt a lot. I had no idea how much effort went into preparing a dish like this or the best places to buy some of the ingredients. I also learnt a fab way to peel a cucumber, although I have to say, I haven't been brave enough to try it yet. 




Last on our food journey was our dinning experience at Larkin's restaurant Cen. I have been coming to the Celtic Manor for years and this is a very new food concept for the hotel. It's fantastic to see them adding in an Asian restaurant which is something I have never seen them do before. The menu is inspiring creating modern dishes but with traditional pan Asian flavours. 


We got to enjoy the wonderful dish that Larkin had demonstrated to us. I'm so glad this was on the menu because my senses were driving me wild during the class. The smell was tantalising. The dish completely lived up to my expectations and more. The duck was so tender and the skin was divine. I could've eaten a whole plate of the skin. 







For desert we were presented with a chocolate dish which was made with dark chocolate, chocolate mousse, chocolate aero, malt ice-cream and mandarin. It was just the right amount of sweet and sour. The dark chocolate didn't make the dish to rich which meant it wasn't sickly at all.


Finally, we had an ice cream bao slider which was made with salted caramel and coconut. Oh my goodness!! It was so tasty and so refreshing. A perfect desert for spring/summer and a great dish to end a meal on. 

Overall, I had a wonderful evening. The Celtic Manor has lots of exciting new food experiences available which shows they are keeping up to date with the latest fusions and flavours. I am itching to go back and dine in all of the restaurants so I can appreciate them further. As previously mentioned, this is my favourite hotel in South Wales and with these new food adventures, it will continue to be for a long time.

SHARE:

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Tony and Eva's day out at Taronga Zoo

It was a beautiful sunny day in Sydney. Today was a special day. It was mother's day and all of the family were going to Taronga Zoo to celebrate. Tony the taxi knew he would be needed to help make the day as enjoyable as it could be.

Tony ensured he was packed up with snacks and drinks for the whole family for the day. He knew it would be nicer for them to not have to carry heavy drinks bottles around all day, so he made sure they were secure inside the Taxi.

Tony jumped into the boot of the car for the journey to the zoo. He found it very comfortable in there. He was just the right size for fitting in the boot alongside Ophelia's stroller and various other bags. He wasn't cramped at all.




The sun was almost excruciating and the heat took its toll on the whole family, especially Eva. She became tired very quickly through so much walking around and the immense heat. Luckily Tony was around to aid her little legs. She lapped up having rides on Tony. She spent hours laughing, giggling and shouting for him to go faster. He of course obliged.







One of the best parts of their day was viewing the penguins. Eva spent a long time admiring them. So much so that she felt she needed to sit down. Tony appeared to the rescue and made a wonderful seat for the rest of her viewing pleasure.

Eva is only 3 and is very petite. Tony knew that at times she needed a step up to be able to see all the wonderful animals. He allowed her to stand on him whilst holding on to her mummy or daddy.




Eva was the envy of all the other kids at the zoo. They couldn't take their eyes of Tony and they all wanted to play on him. Parents were commenting on how much of a good idea it was to bring him along for a day trip.



Look out for the next instalment of Tony and Eva's adventures coming very soon.

**We were kindly sent a Tony the Taxi from Trunki to review for our trip to Australia
SHARE:

Me and Mine April 2016

In terms of taking family photo's, April has been a brilliant month for us. We've made the most of any dry weather that we've had by walking in our local woods which are currently carpeted with bluebells. They really do make for a beautiful walk, even the dog loves them. It always amazes me how much the kids love doing the most simplest of activities. I don't think we were ever going to manage to get everyone looking at the camera when we were trying to take the pics ourselves but I love the photo's anyway.



This month we also decided to be tourists for a change and enjoy things that were right on our doorstep. We spent an afternoon at our local castle which is Castell Coch. Eva loved it and believed she'd been to Elsa's castle. 


At the end of the month it was my birthday and we took a very magical trip to Disneyland Paris. We've been a few times before (hubby and I are disney enthusiasts) but this trip has got to be the best one we've ever done. To see Disney through Eva's eyes actually made me cry. She was so happy and believed in all the magic. We are desperate to go back asap.





Together this month we have loved:
  • The Sun finally showing its face
  • Disneyland
  • Family walks
  • Dancing - Eva seems to love to dance with us so we all join in, even the dog


The Me and Mine Project
SHARE:
BLOGGER TEMPLATE MADE BY pipdig