bravado maternity nursing bra

I definitely didn’t look after my boobs during my first pregnancy or whilst nursing. I continued to wear the same old underwired bras I’d always worn and just stuffed them in as best I could. Not ideal. As I have been through each pregnancy and nursing journey I have definitely come to appreciate my boobs. They might not be in the best state now but it’s what I have and I like to make them look the best they can as well as being comfortable at the same time.

I came across a post on Facebook the other day where a group of women were all discussing how pregnancy and breastfeeding had ravaged their boobs and they had been left with flaps of skin or ‘pancakes’ where they used to have perky D cups! It was actually quite sad to read.

Now, during my pregnancies I have tried pretty much every maternity and nursing bra out there but the one I’m currently wearing is a real game changer. It’s from Bravado Designs, I’m sure you’ve heard of them, and it’s the Body Silk Seamless Yoga Nursing Bra. I have the bra in the limited edition shade ‘Dove Heather’ and have been wearing it for three days straight (I did take it off for bed)! I really don’t want to have to put it in the wash as it’s so unbelievably comfortable and soft against the skin I know it will make my other bras feel like torture devices. The Silver Breeze™ technology prevents the growth of odour-causing bacteria thus keeping the bra fresh and odour-free.

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It has all the usual features of a maternity and nursing bra; for example it has the easy to use nursing clips on the shoulder straps for easy nursing but it also has extra features which I think make it a cut above the rest.

bravado designs nursing bra

For example, the back of the bra has a multitude of clips and fastening which you can adjust throughout your pregnancy and breastfeeding journey and the back strap is lovely and wide for extra support. I love the elasticated band; it’s deep and provides enough elasticity to feel supportive yet comfortable. The bra itself also comes with a conversion kit to convert the bra to a regular bra once your nursing days are over or you can opt to have the straps in a criss cross formation – ideal for all you gym bunnies and yoga fanatics.

And, as you might be able to see, it’s not underwired but it doesn’t leave your boobs as a trip hazard. The bra uses the patented Silverbreeze™ technology to support low impact activity such as yoga or pilates or, if you’re more like me, shopping and getting your nails done. It provides a lovely shape even for my spaniels ears.

bravado designs nursing bra

Adjusting to being a mum to a newborn is hard enough already – give yourself one less thing to worry about and opt for the multi award winning Bravado Designs to keep you comfortable and secure throughout your pregnancy and nursing days. Check out the website as not only is it full of lovely products and images but it has useful information too such as how to fit yourself for a nursing bra.

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fisher-price

We were recently asked if we would like to review the Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Puppy’s Activity Jumperoo and I jumped at the chance as we’re big Fisher-Price fans! When the product arrived I was surprised at how compact it is yet how many toys there are on it; I love that there are activities all around the seat where Elsie sits as well as dangling from the arch above her head encouraging her to move and bounce. The free standing frame lets baby bounce safely and helps strengthen gross motor skills.

The seat Elsie sits in rotates 360 degrees to allow her to reach all of the toys. One of her favourite things to do is reach up and grab the toys which dangle above her. She likes to chew on these especially as she is teething. There is also chew toy located on the activity ring which is great for teething as it’s made from a hard material to help relieve little gums.

elsThe jumperoo can be used in Musical Fun mode where baby can discover lights and sounds as they move and play or they can learn songs, animal sounds and first words in English, Russian, Spanish and Italian in the Early Learning mode. Elsie loves to have the sounds turned on – especially the animal sounds and songs.

fisher price laugh & learn jumperooAlthough Elsie is ten months old and on the cusp of walking she still loves to be in the jumperoo and it also provides a safe place for me to place her whilst I tidy the room or relax with a cuppa (yeh right)! The jumperoo can be used from when baby can support their own head until they weigh 12kg. Elsie is just over 10kg so we still have plenty of time to make use of it. Thank goodness!  There are also three height settings so the jumperoo grows as your baby does. We’re currently on the second setting so as Elsie gets a little taller we can still make use of the jumperoo.

fisher price laugh & learn jumperoo

I’ve never used a jumperoo with my previous children, purely due to space constraints and finances, however I would highly recommend making the investment early on as we used Elsie’s daily from when she was around four months old. It allowed me to have my hands back as well as help her own development. It was lovely to hear her giggling as she played.

fisher price laugh & learn jumperoo

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butlins minehead review

Earlier in 2016 we were delighted to be chosen as Butlins Ambassadors. Neither Matt nor I have ever been to Butlins and, for some reason, we both assumed it wouldn’t really be our kind of holiday. When the kids found out we were visiting for February half term they were absolutely thrilled; they’d seen the adverts on TV and were counting down how many sleeps we had left!

We stayed at Butlins Minehead for three nights from Friday-Monday. It’s a fairly short drive from where we live in Gloucestershire which was ideal with three small people in tow. The weather upon arrival, and for the whole weekend, was pretty glorious!

Instead of describing our trip in a chronological order I’ll break it down into the key areas to ensure you get a clear picture of our break and to try and stop myself rambling!

Check-in & Accommodation
We arrived at Butlins Minehead around 3:15pm and were immediately directed to the West Lakes Village Reception at the back of the resort. Our booking included a stay in one of the West Lake Village chalets and we were excited to see what they were like in real life as they looked stunning online.

We parked the car and headed into Reception to check-in. We were greeted by a very friendly lady who provided us with our chalet key, resort information also explained that the kids could hire scooters for the entire weekend or just for a few hours – what a great idea on such a large complex. Scooter hire is available up to the age of 6 (approximately).

We drove to our parking space outside our chalet – there was plenty of parking, specifically for the West Lake Village residents, and walking distance to each chalet was minimal. The first thing that struck us was how peaceful it seemed, we hadn’t seen another soul and you couldn’t hear anything other than the occasional duck quacking. We entered the accommodation and were immediately blown away by how clean it was – it looked pristine, as if we were the first people to ever stay there. The chalet had three bedrooms; a double, a twin and a bunk bed. The lounge and kitchen are adjoined and opened on to a sizeable balcony over the lake. The sun was shining and it was just stunning.

butlins minehead review

The cot was already set up for Elsie which meant one thing less for us to worry about. There were also two small packs of toiletries in the bathrooms, a clean tea towel, mini washing up liquid and three dishwasher tablets. The kitchen was well equipped with a microwave, dishwasher, fridge/freezer and kettle with complimentary tea and coffee. You can see a tour of our chalet on my You Tube channel.

butlins minehead review

The maid came in daily to make the beds, clean the floors, refresh any towels which were dirty and tidy up – they even did any washing up left by the sink. It was lovely to come home to a clean chalet each day.

butlins minehead review

butlins bathroom

Food
Our holiday came with a premium dining package which meant we had the choice of two buffet restaurants on site for morning and evening meals; The Deck and The Yacht Club.

Lunch was not included although there are plenty of establishments on site to buy food.

butlins minehead food

Finnigans chippy was a great spot for lunch!

After we’d settled into our chalet and found our bearings on site we headed for the restaurants. We chose to eat in The Yacht Club the first evening and I have to say I was a little underwhelmed. Although we had the choice of where to sit we inadvertently sat under a large, loud air conditioning unit which made it difficult to hold a conversation over dinner. The decor was lacking and certainly didn’t feel premium upon first impressions.

The table was clean and laid up ready for diners, there were plenty of high chairs available but sadly, after asking for a pouch of food for Elsie the best they could offer me was one aged for babies 4+ months. Well, Elsie was almost nine months and so I popped to the other restaurant just next door and was able to get a pouch nearer her age range. We ended up making do with suitable finger/soft food from the buffet for the remainder of the trip. The facilities for those travelling with babies however are, on the whole, good.  A microwave, disposable bibs and plastic cutlery and crockery are all available freely.

butlins minehead review

Matt and I both had fish and chips and I would say it was average at best. Matt did make a comment along the lines of “how many days have those chips been sat there?” as they were a little shrivelled and cold but the fish was lovely and chunky with a crispy batter. The kids were happy with the never-ending ice-cream and the puddings looked pretty good although I was far too full to try any. Whilst Matt and I finished our meal the two older kids played outside the restaurant on the climbing frame which as viewable from our table.

Breakfast was much more along the lines of what I had hoped for. We chose to eat in The Deck Restaurant and it was decorated in a more modern style and the buffet selection was larger. The breakfast was one of the highlights of our break – it was delicious. The hot selection was of great quality and there was plenty of fresh fruit, pastries, cereal and yogurt – I’ve never seen the kids eat so much breakfast!

I have to say the remainder of the meals from The Deck restaurant were lovely; there were themed nights such as Indian and Italian as well as an ice cream station on the last night which was basically a kids dream; a whole array of sprinkles and sauces and you can visit as many times as you like!

butlins minehead review

butlins minehead review

So, what is there to do?

Well, just about everything you can think of! The fairground was a firm favourite with us – the kids loved being able to go on rides time and time again with only a few minutes wait for each. There are height restrictions for most of the rides so an adult will need to accompany the younger guests but, to be honest, I think Matt enjoyed the rides just as much as the kids!

butlins minehead review

We also spent a good deal of time playing in the arcades; we all enjoyed a go on the 2p machines and it was exciting for the kids to exchange the tickets we had won at the end of our stay.

As the weather was so fantastic we made good use of the outdoor facilities including hiring a family bike and using the adventure playgrounds. One of the playgrounds was a particular favourite as it was located so close to the pub – everyone’s happy!

butlins minehead

Of course, you can’t come to Butlins and not visit the Splash water world! Now, I’m not the biggest fan of indoor pools they take me right back to my school days but I was pleasantly surprised. There were plenty of changing rooms available although I’d have like to of seen more family changing rooms as it was a little difficult trying to get five people dried and dressed when split between three changing rooms! There are high chairs and change mats available for babies which helped us be a little more hands free to help Logan and Flo get dried and dressed.

The pool area itself was clean and large. The kids had a blast and loved floating around the lazy river. Elsie was able to go almost everywhere in her swim ring which made for a lovely, inclusive family experience.

During the evenings we were able to relax whilst the kids watched one of the many shows put on by the fantastic entertainment teams. The first night we watched The Wizard of Oz, the next evening was a show produced by Justin Fletcher and the final evening was an adaption of Dick Whittington. The kids were engrossed in all the shows and sat right at the front. With the redcoats keeping an eye on them we felt comfortable sitting a little further back and enjoying a drink.

butlins minehead reviewOn Sunday morning we found our seats in the Skyline Pavillion to watch the Teletubbies show. Once again the kids sat at the front and Elsie sat with us – she was absolutely loving it and even did her first ever wave at the Teletubbies! It was the cutest thing!

If we’d have had another day we could have taken the kids bowling, go karting or on the zip wire. There were also lots of indoor activities such as crafting or learning to play the drums but as the weather was so great we made the most of it! There really is plenty to do come rain or shine!

butlins minehead review

Service & facilities

There really isn’t any need to leave Butlins during your stay. The site has numerous food outlets and shops to buy everyday essentials and the swimming pool stocks all the things you might need for yourself or the kids e.g. swim nappies, swimming costumes and float aids. There are cash machines on site if required which charge £1.25 per withdrawal, however, I do believe that cash back is available on site if you spend over £5.

In terms of facilities for babies I was really impressed. Baby food is readily available in the restaurants and we also found a microwave, bottle warmer and more baby food available in Bar Rosso in the Skyline Pavillion. Butlins really have tried to make it as easy for parents as possible.

We don’t tend to need baby change facilities as much nowadays as Elsie is getting a little older but I did stick my head in the baby change room in the ladies toilets located at the theatre and the facilities were spotless! I completely forgot to ask Matt to see if the gents had one too.

butlins minehead review

The staff we came into contact with her certainly a credit to Butlins. They were friendly, helpful and in good supply! There was always someone to help you out if you were lost, or keep your kids entertained whilst you waited for a show to start. One member of staff which really made us smile was the restaurant greeter at The Deck and Yacht Club – we didn’t catch his name but he made the kids laugh every morning. The staff in the restaurant itself made an effort to chat and keep the tables clear.

The buffets in the restaurants were always clean and tidy and everything felt hygienic and as clean as I would expect it to be.

Overall experience

Matt and I both agreed that Butlins far exceeded our expectations; from the accommodation to the facilities and food. There’s no denying that we all laughed from beginning to end and were completely exhausted when the time came to check out but this wouldn’t be a real review if I didn’t mention the few items which I felt could have been improved upon.

A few things I’d like to see improved are; the quality of the decor and atmosphere in The Yacht Club (it needs to feel premium if people are paying extra for it), the quantity of family changing facilities in the Splash centre and a mirror provided in the en-suite bathroom of the chalet.

In an ideal world Butlins could introduce some kind of cashless system whereby extra meals or purchases on site are charged back to your room.

I’d like to say a massive thank you to Butlins for choosing us ambassadors. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Butlins Minehead – it was the total opposite to what we expected and provided us with much needed family time. I’d recommend it in an instant and would love to see how Bognor Regis and Skegness compare!

If you’ve been to Butlins let me know what you thought in the comments below!

 

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Last weekend we were invited* to visit the ‘Enchanted Christmas’ event at Westonbirt Arboretum and it sounded like just the thing to get us all in the festive spirit. We booked a 6-7pm slot and headed off on Saturday night wrapped up in our scarves and bobble hats. It made a nice change to do something out of the ordinary and the kids were excited to be going out instead of getting ready for bed. Just getting cosy in our winter gear felt festive!

The drive to the arboretum was lovely, Tetbury in particular was stunning. We couldn’t miss the arboretum entrance as the trees were illuminated in beautiful, bright colours. The clear skies that evening made it even more spectacular. The kids were fascinated and Florence loved the ‘sparkly’ tree in the car park. At this point I was thankful for my wellies as we were parked on a field and I should imagine, come the final weekend, it will be rather muddy so consider yourself warned!

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It soon became apparent that the event was extremely popular which made me even more excited to get inside and see what all the fuss was about. As the event is ticketed and time slots are booked for each evening the ticket processing was quick and we were soon on our way through a large marquee which housed a hog roast (the smell was amazing), hot chocolate, mulled wine, burgers and sweeties! It was lovely and the steam from the food billowed through the air whilst Christmas carols could be heard in the distance.

The kids spied a carousel and we promised them a go once we’d walked through the illuminated trail. I guess we bribed them! Initially the trail was very busy and it was a job to see the kids amongst all the people. I was probably annoying everyone as I stopped at almost every single tree to take a photo. Each one was stunning in its own way. Some were lit from the ground, some were lit from various other angles, some had disco balls hung inside them and some had lanterns or projections cast across them. The kids favourite tree was ‘disco tree’ which had a huge disco ball and bubbles falling from it.

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By the half way point we were ready for a short break. Elsie also needed a feed so we were pleased to see a few benches and we perched, under lanterns, enjoying the scenery.

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There were a few areas which are interactive such as a bike which, when pedalled, illuminated a large display of lights across the floor and also a pad which you jump on to clear the leaves on the screen in front of you. All of these sorts of things were a hit with the kids – you’ll just need to be prepared to wait your turn.

westonbirt arboretum

All in all the trail took about an hour for us to walk around (including a 15 minute break) and the kids must have enjoyed it as we didn’t have a single complaint of ‘tired legs’! The trail was suitable for our pram and I think Elsie enjoyed looking at all the colours as it was well past her bedtime and she was wide awake!

At the end of the trail the sound of Christmas carols comes back into ear shot and there are chestnuts roasting and arts and crafts for the children to take part in.

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We spent about two hours at the arboretum and we left feeling rather festive. I think if I were to go again I would buy some food there (we ate before leaving home) and use the opportunity to soak up more of the atmosphere.

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Enchanted Christmas runs from 25th November to 18th December and tickets can be booked via the website.

 

 

*We were invited to attend this event in exchange for a review.  All opinions of this event are my own.

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Now anyone who knows me knows I like a good spot of baking however my stand mixer was letting me down far too much and it kind of put me off baking for a while. I’d been lusting after a new stand mixer for some time so imagine my delight when I was asked if I’d like to review one! I was very kindly sent the Savisto 1260W Retro Food Stand Mixer (RRP £95.99) to try out so what better time to rekindle my love of baking?

savisto mixer

The mixer arrived quickly and I was impressed with how it looked; I’d seen similar mixers in the shops for four times the price. I chose to have the mixer in Black to match our kitchen decor but it does come in a snazzy Red too. I unboxed the mixer and found three attachments; a dough hook, a whisk and a beater – perfect! The instructions were super easy to follow although I didn’t really need them as it’s all rather self explanatory.

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There’s a lever to lift the mixer head to allow you to change the attachments and then there’s a large round dial to change the speed setting or pulse depending upon your requirements.  The mixer has a powerful  800W motor which can push to 1260W under heavy load. It also comes with another essential; a transparent splash guard – ideal to stop the icing sugar cloud pluming out when you make that buttercream!

savisto stand mixer

You could easily make a very large cake in this Savisto mixer as it comes with a large 5.5L capacity stainless steel mixing bowl. Paired with the powerful motor there isn’t really any limits to what you could create.

One of my favourite features of the mixer, albeit a very simple one, are the four anti-slip feet which grip to your worktops to keep the mixer stable during use. It’s the little things like that which show this mixer has really been thought through.

I decided to make a batch of chocolate cupcakes because I know everyone in the house likes them and they seem a bit less naughty then a big slice of cake!

The mixer did a great job! My old mixer used to leave quite a lot of the ingredients unmixed at the bottom of the bowl and you’d have to get in there with a spatula to ensure it was fully combined but we didn’t have that problem at all. The attachments combined the ingredients well and very quietly too! Little baby Elsie even slept in my arms whilst my hubby made a Victoria sponge at the weekend!

The mixer also comes with a 2 year guarantee so you can bake away to your hearts content knowing you’re in safe hands.

 

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