Wednesday, 7 October 2015

My First Thomas & Friends Rail Rollers Spiral Station - Review

We were recently sent a My First Thomas & Friends Rail Rollers Spiral Station toy for Jacob to review. I just knew that Jacob and his sister would love this toy as they both like Thomas and this toy was unlike anything that they already have. I was right because as soon as they both seen it they made a beeline for it and have not stopped playing with it since. 

When I opened the box I was a bit nervous as it is all in bits and I am totally useless at building toys, as I don't have the patience. I need not have been worried though as their was no screws, batteries or anything to build as the whole toy just clips together easily with super simple diagram instructions included. It only took me around five minutes to build the toy which I was impressed by, as their is nothing worse then trying to build toys for eager little ones to play with.

The toy comes with two, really easy for toddlers to hold, round ball engines Thomas and Diesel. The aim of the toy is to drop your engine into Tidmouth station where it will race down the spiral train track to the end, where it is met by the fat controller and spun around on the roundabout at the bottom. You can also drop the engine down the central station where it will also be met by the fat controller at the bottom. My two love racing each other with Jacob dropping his engine down the spiral track and Sophia always drops hers down the central station. 

The toy also has an engine lift which you can push up and down with a little leaver and which transports the engines to the top of the spiral station ready to roll down the track. My two year old Sophia loves this and spends ages playing with the lift transporting the engines to the top and back down again. 

The toy is aimed at children 12 months plus which I thought would be perfect for Jacob, who is aged 13 months. Jacob totally loves this toy and straight away he figured out what to do with it and how to play with it. He actually sat and played with it for almost an hour non stop, which anyone with toddlers will tell you is practically unheard of as they love being on the move so much. Sophia who is 2 year 4 months also loves this toy and she will sit for ages playing with it especially the lift as she loves making this go up and down. 

I was a bit worried that as the station all just clips together that it might be a bit flimsy and fall to bits, especially with a boisterous one year old playing with it but I am really impressed with just how sturdy it is. Jacob has grabbed, knocked over, picked up and dropped and tugged at the spiral station and it has not came apart once. It is really secure and sturdy and safely withstands toddler destruction. 

This toy is perfect for little ones between 1-3 years old, both younger and older toddlers will have so much fun playing with this toy. It is great for hand eye coordination and is really bright, colourful and fun for capturing little ones attention and will bring hours of fun. My two have not stopped playing with this toy all week and it is probably the only toy that they actually play with together. 

My First Thomas & Friends Rail Rollers Spiral Station costs £32.99 which I think is great value for such a great toddler toy, you can also buy extra rail roller engines separately to go with the set.  It would make a great Christmas present for children aged 12 months plus and I know that if Jacob had not of been sent this to review then it would defiantly of been on his Christmas list this year. It is such a great toy that I am sure will be played with and enjoyed for many more years in are house. 

Disclosure we were sent this toy free of charge for the purpose of this review, however all words and opinions are my own. 

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Slimming World Week 22 & 23

It has been a couple of week's since I posted a Slimming World update as I did not attend group last week as we had been away on a review trip and I was busy redecorating. I was so busy but also I was a bit scared of facing the scales after a weekend of overindulging, so I was a chicken and missed group. This week I faced the scales though expecting a gain, but I know now that the only way that I will lose all of this baby weight is if I go to group each week and stick to the plan. 

I started last week of well as I knew we were going away for a weekend and I knew I was going to enjoy some meals out. I was on plan all week, we even went out for a pub lunch and I ordered plain grilled chicken breast with a plain jacket potato and salad, which is unlike me as I always use eating out as an excuse to cheat and eat whatever I like. We were also out shopping at the Metrocentre and instead of going for a Mexican or to Pizza hut like we normally would I was good and went to Subway for a salad. I am a bit addicted to Subway salads at the moment they are so yummy with low syn sweet onion sauce on, they are only £2.29 for a salad of the day and really filling. 

I ate a lot of Subway salads this week.
Then things went a bit off plan we went for dinner at a Chinese and I was fairly good sticking to rice with beef and mushrooms in black pepper sauce and a few noddles, but then I went and had banana fritter with syrup and ice cream. I also enjoyed a full English breakfast, croissants, fish & Chips cooked in beef dripping, fudge, a chippy tea and a bar of galaxy to name just a few 'treats' that weekend. 

This week I was a bit better diet wise but it is 'star' week and I have been craving stodge like bread for breakfast and sweet treats like chocolate and a few sneaky biscuits, and I have gave in and had them. My meals were on plan though and I have made things like pasta bake, mayflower Chinese curry, chicken dinners, swede topped cottage pie and homemade burgers with sweet potato chips. So I was expecting a small gain this week, but when I stepped on the scales I had lost 2lb which I was thrilled about. 

I am now so so close to that 2 stone award and I am really hoping that it will be mine next week. I am going to try to stick to plan 100 % this week and step away from the sweet treats and bread if I can. I am going to get all my Slimming World recipe books out and I am going to challenge myself to make meals that I have not made before every day this week, to try and mix things up a bit and stop myself eating the same meals over and over. 

I know that I have been doing Slimming World a while now and it seems to be taken me ages to lose weight and I honestly thought I would have lost more by now, but I know why I haven't it was because I was missing weeks at my old group. Since I joined my new group a month ago I have lost 9.5 lbs which I am so happy with. I know if I had not of joined Slimming World I would have just got bigger and that was making me feel so down and rubbish about myself. Even though I have lost almost 2 stone I can't actually tell myself, although my clothes are starting to feel much bigger which is an amazing feeling. I am hoping to get my two stone award next week and as it is only 12 week's until Christmas I am hoping if I lose 1-2 lb a week between now and then I might hopefully lose another stone by then too. If anyone is thinking of joining Slimming World but is putting it off until January I would say just join now, as you could be a stone lighter by Christmas instead of waiting and being unhappy until the new year. 

To find out more about Slimming World or to find your nearest class visit the website

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Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Creating A Calming Bedroom For National Wallpaper Week

This week the 5th-11th October is national wallpaper week, I love how there is national day's and weeks for thing's like this. As part of national wallpaper week Graham & Brown will be celebrating the week with their seven feelings of wallpaper, these are 'feelings' that decorating your home can evoke. The week kicked off on Monday the 5th with 'Date night' Tuesday the 6th (today) is 'Calm', Wednesday the 8th 'Inspired', Thursday 9th 'Nostalgic', Friday 9th 'Funky', Saturday 10th 'Glamourous' and Sunday 11th 'Social'.

As part of national wallpaper week I was invited by Graham & Brown to chose a wallpaper from their truly amazing and vast range and recreate a feeling. I decided that I wanted to re-create a feeling of calm to my bedroom, as it was in dire need of being redecorated and I wanted somewhere calm and relaxing to help me get a good nights sleep. 

I hold my hands up and admit I was not a fan of wallpaper as my whole house is just painted in different shades of cream, I know I am boring. I like things that are plain and simple looking and hate bright patterns. As a child growing up in the 80's and 90's I have visions of bright patterned wallpaper and matching boarders and it just seems so dated these days. But when I browsed the Graham & Brown website I was impressed with the beautiful prints and plain classic designs, choosing a wallpaper I liked was so hard as I liked so many of them. 

In the end after much deliberating I opted for the Superfresco Destiny grey wallpaper, as it is a lovely shade of grey and is really simple and elegant looking, perfect for creating a 'calm' bedroom. I decided on the Superfresco Easy range as myself and my partner have both never actually decorated before in are lives, and had no idea at all what we were doing. Superfresco Easy is designed to be super easy to use as you paste the wall not the paper, perfect for beginners like us. 

The other half did have a little bit of help putting the paper up of someone but it was so easy to put up and it only actually took a few hours to decorate the whole bedroom, which I was amazed by. The wallpaper has gave the room a whole new look and I really do feel like it is a calm and relaxing room, perfect for doing some blogging or bedtime reading. The room is not completely finished yet as I still need to make some finishing touches with accessories but I have included some photos of the room to show you how lovely the Superfresco Easy Destiny Grey wallpaper is. 

I really feel like I have the decorating bug now, especially knowing how easy it is to decorate using this paper and I am already planning on redecorating every room in the house from the boring painted walls it currently has to beautiful wallpaper from the Graham & Brown range. I just need to decided what theme I am going for and then the hard part of deciding which paper to choose. I love the idea of picking a theme such as the feeling of 'calm' for a room as it really has made me choose a paper and create a room that is so calming and lovely to be in. If you were decorating a room what kind of look what you go for ? I would love to know. 

Disclosure we were sent the wallpaper free of charge for the purpose of this post, however all words and opinions are my own. 

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Saturday, 3 October 2015

The Marriott Hotel Gateshead Metrocentre : Review

Last week we stayed at the Marriott hotel Newcastle Gateshead Metrocentre as part of the Beamish Package that they offer. I wrote about the package as a whole earlier in the week but thought that I would do a proper review of the hotel as it was such a lovely hotel. The hotel is located near the A1 right opposite Europe's largest leisure and shopping complex the Metrocentre and just a short ten minute journey away from Newcastle city centre. The hotel is rated 4 star and is perfect for both business and leisure purposes. 

The hotel is located in well maintained grounds with plenty of free on site parking for guests, it is just a five minute walk away from the Metrocentre which has plenty of leisure and dining options. We arrived at the hotel just after the check in time of 3pm and the reception area was busy with other guests checking in, but we were seen quickly as their was lots of reception staff available. The receptionist was extremely friendly and explained everything to us about the room, the hotels facilities and local attractions. We made are way to are room on the fifth floor by the lifts located in the reception area. 

The hotel has 150 spacious guest rooms and as we made are way to the room we were impressed with just how clean and well presented the hotel was. Everywhere was decorated to a high standard and I loved how they had pictures in the hallways of the local area. We were in a Deluxe room which had two queen size beds, a table and chair, dressing table and chair, large bathroom with shower and bathtub. You also have the option of having a cot or roll away bed in the room in case you need them for children. 

When we entered the room we were impressed with the size of the room as there was lots of space, I have stayed in many hotels and this is probably one of the biggest rooms we have stayed in. You walked into the room and to your left was a large bathroom which had a bathtub with a shower overhead, plenty of fluffy white towels and a selection of complimentary toiletries. Opposite the bathroom was a large glass wardrobe which had a safe, ironing board, iron and bathrobes as well as plenty of clothes hangers. Their was a small hallway which had a bench with glasses, bottles of water and a hairdryer and large mirror, the other side had cupboard space and a worktop with tea and coffee making facilities.

The actual bedroom area had two large and extremely comfortable queen sized beds, with plenty of room around the beds. As mentioned their was also a table and chairs which was near the window at the far end of the room, as we were near a retail park we had a view of Ikea but we rarely even looked out of the window so this did not bother us at all. The room also had a dressing table / desk area with a lamp and chair and lots of draws and storage space as well as a 32" flat screen TV with plenty of channels. The room had two phones,three lamps, alarm clock and trouser press, 24 hour room service was also available.

The room was extremely clean and was kept to a high standard. The only problem we had was when we arrived in the room there was no cot which we had asked for, but a quick call to reception soon rectified that. Within minutes of ringing up two extremely lovely staff arrived at the door with a travel cot which they quickly set up with sheets, pillows and duvets. They also brought a nappy bin to put in the bathroom and activity packs which had colouring books and crayons in for the children. 

Even though the hotel is located near the A1 and busy Metrocentre we did not hear a single sound in the room from the outside traffic or from other guests, the room was totally silent when we went to bed which is always nice. The beds were so comfortable and you just sunk into them and the pillows and duvets were so fluffy. We all had a super comfortable nights sleep, even Jacob slept well in the travel cot which we were not expecting as he has never been in a one before. 

The hotel has some great facilities such as an on site leisure club which is situated just off the reception area it has a large indoor heated pool, whirlpool bath, sauna, gym and fitness studios. We visited the hotel pool and it was lovely, very clean and modern and quiet when we visited. The water was warm with plenty of seating area around the pool if you just wanted to watch, towels were provided and children were aloud in the pool until 9 pm if accompanied by an adult. The leisure club was open from 6am-11pm given everyone the chance to try it out. 

The hotel also has an on site bar called Chats bar which is a great place to go for a coffee or a drink and they even serve lunch and dinner. Whilst the Rare Grill restaurant serves evening meals, Sunday lunch and breakfast. We did not eat lunch or dinner in the hotel but we did enjoy breakfast in the Rare Grill, as it was included in the Beamish package

Breakfast was served from 6.30am and we arrived around 7am and were greeted by friendly staff who showed us to a table and quickly got us two high-chairs for the little ones. We were offered tea or coffee which arrived extremely quickly. Breakfast was served buffet style, there was a chilled counter with a selection of cheeses, cooked meats, fresh fruit and yogurts. A hot counter serving tradition English breakfast options such as cooked tomatoes, mushrooms, hash browns, beans, scrambled eggs, bacon and sausages. There was chef behind the counter constantly replenishing the food and cooking eggs for guests how they liked them. 

There was a table with fresh apple or orange juice and a counter filled with breads to toast, a huge selection of cereals, nuts, muffins, croissants, waffles,breads and pastries as well as condiments such as butters, jams, nuttella, honey and marmite. We all had cooked breakfast which were delicious, the sausages were so nice and juicy and perfectly cooked. I also had a croissant which was still warm and tasted amazing. The other half had pastries which he said were lovely and Chloe had a chocolate muffin and waffle with nuttella. The little two just had some of are food and shared a croissants.

The breakfast staff were really friendly and kept the restaurant looking tidy at all times. When we left I left my purse on the table and had no idea but as soon as we stepped through the door to are room we had a phone call from the restaurant saying we had left the purse and it was waiting at reception for us. Check out was quick and simple and even though we did not have to check out until 11 am we left at around 9 am so we could fully enjoy are day out at Beamish. 

We really enjoyed are stay at the Marriott Metrocentre and I would defiantly stay in a Marriott hotel again as a family, the staff were really friendly and offered fantastic service. I am even considering adding my local Marriott hotel to are list of possible wedding venues for when we eventually get married as we enjoyed are stay that much. The room was spacious and extremely comfortable, the hotel was very clean and well maintained, the leisure facilities were exceptionally good and the breakfast was delicious. If you are looking for a family friendly hotel then I really would recommend Marriott and if you ever in the North East then you should defiantly book this hotel as it is in such a great location. 

Disclosure we enjoyed a complimentary stay at this hotel as part of the Beamish Package, however all words, opinions and photos are my own. 

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Friday, 2 October 2015

Sara's Tearooms - Great Yarmouth Seafront Cafe

Sara's Tearoom is a family and dog friendly cafe located on Great Yarmouth seafront and was awarded cafe Tearoom of the year 2013. The Tearoom is a family run, dog friendly cafe and restaurant located on the Great Yarmouth seafront in the Pleasure beach gardens, situated between the pleasure beach funfair and the Merrivale model village.

Since opening in 1999, they have always been keen to deliver great service, quality food and great value for money to all of their customers.

When you visit Sara's Tearooms on Great Yarmouth seafront, you are sure to be greeted by a friendly, professional and very customer focused team, which will enable you to relax and enjoy your food and drink in the award winning tearoom gardens or in the lovely beach terrace area.

When Sara's Tearoom say 'homemade', the food is exactly that ... homemade by them!

At Sara's Tearoom, all the homemade specials and cakes are made on a daily basis to keep the meals and cakes fresh and to a very high quality. They use no packets or mixes, just fresh quality ingredients used to make traditional recipes that are cooked in the Tearooms kitchen by Sara herself.

If you would like to sample this wonderful tearoom, why not enter this amazing competition to win a 7 night holiday for up to eight people in 2016 with no date restrictions. The prize includes lot of attraction passes AND a deluxe afternoon tea at Sara's Tearooms.

This is a collaborative post.

September 2015

Last month I started a monthly round-up of what we had been up to that month, as a way of looking back on special memories and ordinary events. Like most people I started this blog to record family memories and I think that by doing these monthly post it is a lovely way to record are family life, so my children can hopefully look back on this one day in the future. September was a busy month in are household so here is what we have all been up to.

Personal Life

September saw Chloe return to school after the summer holidays and she is now in year 8, this seems so grown up to me as I can still remember being in year 8 myself. She seems to have settled back into school life with no problems and is happy and enjoying spending time outside of school with her friends. She may have only just returned to school but already she has had to miss a few days firstly to get a tooth removed and also as she had a hospital appointment and is booked in for an operation on her eye in a few weeks time. It was also her last month of being 12 as she will be turning 13 in October, that really does make me feel old.

Sophia started pre-school this month and she absolutely adores it and just runs off playing as soon as she gets there. We are really lucky that she has settled in straight away and just kisses us goodbye and is not at all fazed when we leave her. She goes three afternoons a week for two and a half hours and it gives me some much needed one on one time with her little brother. We have also started potty training Sophia this month and it is going amazingly well at home and she started using her potty within the first day, we still need to work on potty training when out and about though.

Jacob is changing so much every single day at the moment, he has just turned 13 months old and it is so lovely watching his little character develop. Jacob looks like such a toddler boy now and he is not really a baby as he is walking everywhere. He talks so well for his age and understands so much he can say mam, dad, grandad, nana, cat, Jacob, car, ball, hiya, hello, bye, dirty and so many other words. He also plays properly with his toys now he adores cars and will push them along the floor and say 'brum brum' which is super cute. He got his very first pair of shoes from Clark's this month as he is walking everywhere confidently now.

I am back on track on my Slimming World diet and have lost 9lbs this month which I am over the moon about, I am so close to getting that two stone award now. This month as well as being busy with the children and housework we have also been having a big clear out of the house and re-decorated are bedroom which is looking so much better, keep an eye out for a blog post on that. Lee has been off work for the last two weeks on the sick as he has damaged the tendons in his hand and even though it is nice having him at home I am finding it so strange him being home every day.

Blog Life

I have had such a busy month blog wise, I really wanted to be able to blog everyday last month but that never happened. I had planned to make lots of changes to my blog ready for my re-design next month but of course life got in the way and I never found the time, maybe this month I might eventually get around to it or maybe that is just wishful thinking.

During September I shared my first Book Buddies review of a gorgeous nursery rhyme book, I also reviewed a slimming world recipe book and a Thomas potty training book. We were also really lucky to be invited to take part in the amazing Gung-Ho event which is a 5k inflatable obstacle course that Chloe took part in. We were lucky enough to spend a wonderful night at the Marriott Hotel Gateshead as part of there Beamish package and experienced an amazing family day out travelling back to the 1900's at Beamish.

I have tried to keep a mix of personal posts such as a post about my eldest starting secondary school, and tips on coping with two children under two along with my review posts and sponsored content. I have started earning a good living off my blog recently which is amazing and enables me to stay at home with my children instead of returning to part time work. My most popular post this month was  Gung-Ho Came to Newcastle, which is getting so many views and was a great post to write as it was a lovely family day out.  

I have so many great reviews lined up for this month as I have fallen behind a little and have a bit of a backlog so keep an eye out over the next few weeks for some great Christmas gift ideas and baby products that we have enjoyed reviewing recently. I also have so many idea for blog posts this month so keep an eye out for posts on potty training, being a mum to a teenager and also a few interior posts. And you never know I might actually manage to reach my goal of blogging every day and being more organised blog wise. 

How was your September did you do anything nice ? 

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Thursday, 1 October 2015

Miffy's Adventures Big and Small

As a mum to two toddlers I am always looking for new T.V shows for my little ones to enjoy, as let's face it sometimes putting a good TV show on is the only way you get five minutes peace when you have little ones. So I am pleased to hear that starting tomorrow Friday 2nd October 2015 their will be a new show for pre-school children to watch, adorable white iconic bunny Miffy is hitting are screens with her brand new show 'Miffy's Adventures Big and Small'. 

Available on freeview, satellite and cable channel Tiny Pop Miffy will be brought to life for 52 new episodes, which will see her explore the world around her. Featuring children's voices and cheerful songs along with simple narration the show is sure to capture toddlers imagination. It is perfect for pre-school children as each episode is only 7 minutes long. 

I remember Miffy from my own childhood and she will be celebrating her 60th birthday this year which is incredible and just goes to show that she is such a timeless, classic of a character that is loved by adults and children alike. The show has kept true to Miffy's creator Dick Bruna vision of keeping things simple, true to Miffy's style. 

I think 'Miffy's Adventures Big and Small' is sure to be a big hit with children all over the country and it sounds like it will be the perfect pre bedtime viewing. I bet that after tomorrow Miffy will have many new fans as pre-school children tune in to watch the new show. So if you have a little one don't forget to tune into Tiny Pop from the 2nd of October to catch 'Adventures Big and Small'. I know I will be tuning in with my little two.