Review: European Microscooter Vacation

I don’t know a family without a scooter. It’s the perfect transition from pushchair to walking and means that you can still get to places at a reasonable rather than painful walking pace. LBG has had her Mini-Micro Scooter since her second birthday. It probably took her a year to master the art of scooting but since then (and since her sister got one for her second birthday) they have lived in the back of the car. Wherever we go, they go.

Maxi Microscooter Review

Turning Six meant an upgrade and LBG was a very lucky girl because the people at Microscooter sent her a fabulous Limited Edition Purple Maxi Micro Scooter with coloured T-Bar and co-ordinating Floral Dot helmet and scooter ribbons to review. It was perfect timing too because we set of to Holland for half-term shortly after the Big Six and our scooters (Dimples got a ribbon upgrade too!) came along for the ride.

In fact it was a Micro-Scooter European Tour since the Pink-and-Purple-Bombers saw action in France, Belgium and Holland, and would have been the first to scoot the Eurotunnel train if they hadn’t been packed under so much stuff. Which goes to show how robust and compact the scooters are: broken down, they take up very little space in the car, even when you have packed for a week of glamping and swimming!

Purple Limited Edition Maxi Micro Scooter

Microscooter deserve massive credit because this was the first holiday since we had children that we haven’t needed to break out the – also awesome and compact- pushchair. Holland is a great place to take children because it is so flat, which makes scooting a breeze, not to mention that all the roads and paths are designed with bikers in mind so they are well-maintained, plentiful and easy to use. So easy to use, we saw many scooters whilst there. Which is why the bright and bold purples of the scooter and helmet – not to mention the ribbon accessories-  were such a great choice: my children were easy to spot speeding off in the distance. And the helmet did double duty on the adventure playground too.

European Microscooter Vacation

I really value the good quality of the Micro scooter. I value the ability to accessorise and personalise, which help keep the scooter special. I value the ability to buy replacement parts. All of this makes what seems like a big cost actually work out a budget investment: the scooter that LBG no longer uses is still in great condition for resale, so I’ll get some of my money back on it. And the person that buys it can change the look to make it new for their child. Or I may just keep it in the attic for the Grandchildren: MicroScooters are bound to be around in 30 years: they think of everything a parent looks for in a product. That kind of service deserves to last forever. Even if my children don’t stay that small forever.

Maxi Microscooters cost from £99.95

Helmets cost from £19.95

Ribbons cost £7.95

Free delivery for orders over £50.

Disclosure: we were sent a scooter, helmet and two sets of ribbons for the purposes of writing this review. We paid for our own holiday! All opinions are honest.

Five of the best: Hair Detangler Spray Review

My girls have what some might call “tricky” hair. It’s beautiful and blonde and deeply photogenic. But it is curled and tangles easily and is the bane of my life every day at 7:20am when we are trying to get out of the door on time for school.

And so I gathered up the five bottles I have recently bought at local supermarkets and chemists, and we declared that we would put them Head-to-Head – if you’ll pardon the pun- to see which Detangler Spray works best.

hair detangler spray review trial

Here are our thoughts:

1. Tantrum My Delicious Detangle Spray, £3.50 Waitrose:

The packaging on this bottle is really distinctive without being nauseating. We loved the squeeze handle which was much much easier for The Girls to use than the other bottles. It had wide coverage with each spray and The Girls liked the smell. LBG says that it makes her hair easy to brush and Dimples found the spray so easy to use. I thought that it gave good coverage and did help with tangles.

2. L’Oreal Kids Sweet Pear Tangle Tamer, from £1.99 Tesco:

Glaringly bright packaging that coordinates with other bottles in the range. This has a really strong pear smell which I didn’t like,  and pump action spray which I needed to help with. It definitely made a difference to the ability to brush their hair, though that may be because they needed to spray a lot of it to cover their whole head. LBG loves the smell of this one. Dimples formed no strong views.

3. Johnson’s Baby No More Tangles Spray, £2.95 Boots:

Fairly plain packaging and another pump action spray, though both girls could manage this on their own. This had a wide area of coverage with every spray so there was much more even distribution of spray. I really felt this gave a better-than-average detangle. The scent was nice but in no way overpowering. LBG says she thought it didn’t spray well. Dimples thought it looked boring.

4. Schwarzkopf Supersoft Kids Detangling Spray, from £2.00 Sainsbury’s:

Clearly marketed at girls with the pink bottle and fairy logo this spray was probably our least favourite. The berry scent was very strong and neither girl liked it. The pump on this was too tricky for either of them to use without help, though the distribution was quite good. It did help detangle their hair though. And they loved the packaging.

5. Vosene Kids Extra Shine Detangler Spray, £2.00 Asda:

The key selling feature for me- as with any parent of school-aged children- was that the Tea Tree Oil in the detangler helps keep nits at bay. Though it reminded me of teenage years, the smell of the spray was not too strong and the girls quite liked it. The round bottle was easier to hold when spraying that some of the flatter bottles, but the spray needed adult-help. Their hair definitely brushed much easier with this spray and looked very shiny to boot.

 

And which did we think was the best?

tantrum detangler winner

 

 

 

The Girls’ clear favourite was Tantrum. They love being able to do it all by themselves, liked the smell and say that it makes brushing easier. I think that the packaging has been well thought-through and it has the added benefit of being paraben-free.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

johnsons detangler runner up

 

 

 

My favourite was Johnson’s: although the spray was harder for The Girls to use, the even spray, fine mist and subtle fragrance won me over.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Disclosure: All products featured were bought at my own expense. Our opinions are unbiased and honest. No children were hurt in the process of creating this post.

A Global Adventure with Bear Nibbles

When I was growing up and we lived overseas, my tea-fiend of a Nanny (as in Grandmother not full-time child-carer) used to collect the cards from her PG Tips packets and send them out to us. She would send off for the books that PG Tips produced to secure your cards in, box it all up and ship it out to whichever part of the world we lived in. Having them in my life are one of my clearest childhood memories.

Fast forward thirty years and I realised I could give that same experience to my children. At the beginning of the year, Bear Nibbles starting putting a new collection of cards in their packets. There have always been cards with interesting facts but these new cards were special. They each featured a different country, with some country-related facts, and in each box of Nibbles, there was a smaller box, designed like a suitcase, into which you could put your cards.

My girls were inspired. We collected them voraciously- handily the Bear Yoyo fills the brief for the “healthy snack” required each break time at school- and sorted through them.

Bear Nibbles Around the World Challenge

And we collected bar codes from each individual packet and, when we had enough, wrote a note to Bear HQ- in the Deep Dark Woods- requesting our World Map. Those Bears are efficient creatures because a package addresses to my small Bears arrived the next day.

It literally sparked so much excitement that we dropped to the hallway floor to complete our map in record time. We carefully matched the Flag of each country from the card with the sticker on the sheet that came with our map, and fixed it in place. Oh my, it was such fun, and now every day we take a look at the different countries and research new facts that Bear hasn’t found. We have been online to enjoy the activities on the bear site and we are so looking forward to the next challenge that Bear has for us.

Thank you Bear for allowing us to create memories whilst also reliving them!

Find out all the details of the Adventure Map on the Bear site.

 

*Disclosure: this is not sponsored or a review post. I just really really loved the concept. And the fact that it was easy for us to collect the tokens should demonstrate how much my children genuinely love Yoyos. Well done Bear!*

Quick and Easy Thank You Teacher cards

Summer holidays are almost here and I have already shared several ideas for Teacher Gifts that you can make, so now’s the time to make Thank You Teacher cards to go with them. The best thing about them is that they are quick and easy and don’t require too many craft supplies.

They literally take five minutes to make and I love the cute lined-paper look that they have. You just need:

White card: in my case I used plain cards I bought in bulk that I use for everything- but you could just fold regular card in half.

Pencils: red and pale blue

Felt-tip: red and green.

A ruler

Quick Easy thank You Teacher Card

 

So you first need to draw a margin with your ruler down the length of the card in red pencil.

Using the blue pencil draw lines across the card at one centimetre intervals- I started 2cms down from the top of the page.

Get your child to write whatever you want on the page: Thank You, in this case, but you could add the teacher’s name too.

Finally you need an apple. Now there are a few ways of doing this. The quickest and easiest would be to draw one on in felt-tip, but you could print one, press scrunched tissue paper up and stick it on, or cut out an apple from card or foam sheets and fix them on too.

Have a go. Easy as 1-2-3!

What I’m Doing Now Meme

It’s literally been 58,000 year since I last joined in a meme thing but I assume that they are back in vogue and anything that gives me five minutes away from a loom band at this point is a blessing. Becky tagged me and whilst her efforts are far more impressive than mine, do stay tuned as I am totally winging this one so it could get messy.

Without further ado, What I’m Doing Now (ish):

Reading - *checks Kindle* so I’ve downloaded The Curse of Lovely People, recommended to me by the nurse at my new doctor’s practice after my last ECG, to read now I finished Tasmina Perry’s latest book. I know, right. Told you I was winging it.

Listening to - the silence of two small children drifting off to sleep in their rooms down the hallway.

Laughing at – the things that they said to me today.
Dimples: My fingers are very, very naughty. They make me do these things.
LBG: you need to order a Salsa dress, then I could have the box it comes in. It needs to be a big box.

Swooning over - pictures of Canada. We’re headed there this summer for our holidays so I am busy looking for things to do, places to eat, where to go. And it looks seriously lovely.

Planning - the summer holiday. The Girls break up on Thursday so I want to have a schedule in place so that they don’t suffer “Learning Loss”. That and they have given me a list of things they want to do over the summer vacation.

Eating lots of - wild strawberries and raspberries. DH has just been foraging in the woods below the house and come back with a tupperware box full. Life in the country has it’s blessings I think!

wild strawberries

Feeling - it’s never one feeling. I am panicked that the school holidays are starting, yet relieved that I won’t need to obey the 6:20am alarm every morning for nine weeks. I am exhausted from our weekend away yet reinvigorated by it. I am momentarily calm and organised, yet panicked by my To Do List. 

Discovering - a veggie plot that has laid dormant for thirty years. When we moved here it was  a wilderness of brambles and past-their best fruit bushes. As DH strimmed and cut and turned over the earth he discovered a concrete path around two clear oblongs. Next year we will be attempting to grow things. And eat them. I rather assumed I was Margot but fear that I may be turning into Barbra. Next stop, pigs.

Looking at – the sun going down across the lawn and the trees beyond. The wild rabbits are out, nibbling on the grass, which will drive the dog bonkers when she realises.

Wearing - Pearls, naturally. With a pair of bright blue cotton trousers from BHS, a plain white T and a fabulous zesty orange carigan from my favourite online retailer, Land’s End.


Cooking - I haven’t decided. We had lunch at the Hadlow Bar and Grill today so won;t want too much for supper. But it must involve eggs. The chickens have been laying very well lately and I haven’t baked enough so we have an Egg-splosion that needs using up!

Wondering - whether I can talk DH into cooking supper whilst I have a bath. And wondering how I got to be so lucky. I’ve had a few really tough months, full of questioning, soul-searching and rivers of tears. It’s been brutal. But it has made me so incredibly grateful for the important things: the love of a truly good man, the health of two impossibly photogenic and witty and elegant children, an extended family who have always been there for me. I am lucky to have all that I do, and so much more, whatever outcome my soul-searching has.


Trying Out - my new-to-me-car. DH finally relented after my car had one too many issues, and bought me a 4×4 and I am still at the mad-crush stage. It’s different driving an SUV full time when you are used to an Estate: I feel so much higher up. Plus I love discovering great storage and gadgets and gizmos like cruise control and the button that makes your wing mirrors fold in (so useful on the school run). Simple things!

 

Tagging Mummy Matters and Cafe Bebe in their turn! Can’t wait to read ladies!

{Teachers Gifts} How to make a Tea Bouquet

Last year the Teacher’s Gifts were all about coffee. I had 14 of them to make from the funds collected as a Class Rep. This year, I don’t have that pressure and so can take the time to create something a little more unusual. Which is why, when I spotted a Tea Bouquet on a recent trip to Holland, I bought one for Granny- the only tea lover on my corner of the world- and decided to replicate it for LBG’s teachers.

The key thing with this project- whatever size you decide to go with- is that the tea needs to come in sachets rather than just bags. The colour of the sachets makes for a pretty bouquet and prevents the various flavours from intermingling. Obviously this makes the craft more expensive, but I made three bouquets from my packs of tea and I worked the cost out at about £6.00 per gift.

gift for teacher Pretty Tea Bouquet

Here’s how to make a Tea Bouquet, for a teacher, friend or colleague.

You need to find a centre. I used FruitBroo juicy fruit tea that I found that came in a cutesy little bottle, but you could use a tea-strainer, or some of those crystallised sugar sticks in the middle. Whatever you are using, wrap it at the end that will be hidden by the bouquet, with a length of corrugated card. This will form the centre of the bouquet as well as the stem for carrying the bouquet, hence the need for the robust corrugated card (which I got from our recycling box.) Or try a kitchen roll tube.

Next, unbox your teas. I used three different teas- peppermint, ginger and a berry flavour, but you could use whichever tea you choose. I imagine the more every day teas, like English Breakfast, would look just as lovely and perhaps work out cheaper. Take 4 or 5 tea bags and lay them face-down in a vague arc shape, then lay a strip of tape- washi, or sellotape if you don’t have that- across the back of them all. Pick up your row of tea bags and wrap around your centrepiece, then fix in place with sellotape. Secure to the centre-cardboard tube with more tape.

make a tea bouquet instructions

Repeat with the next tea selection- you’ll need about 8 or 9 tea bags- and secure to the tube as before. I found it quite easy to tip the bouquet upside down so that the centre-tube is sticking up, and pressing the bags down around the preceeding bags in a “skirt-style” was the best way of doing this.

A third and final circle of tea bags will require between 10 and 12 bags, depending on how many were in the last circle. Secure as before. To cover the whole, I wrapped it in crepe-paper, which has enough give that it will fan out at the top without being absurdly bulky at the bottom. I secured it temporarily with a pipe cleaner (you could you a freezer bag tie, or cable tie)and was then able to lace butchers twine around and tie it off, before removing the pipe-cleaner. I trimmed the bottom of the crepe paper. LBG stuck glittery jewels to the top of the bottle at the centre of the bouquet for her teacher.) Lastly I wrapped the whole thing in sellophane.

Obviously you can continue with more rows if you choose. You could put small clear bags of loose tea in the first row and encircle that with tea-sachets. You could go with one flavour to make a more monochrome bouquet. Add fewer rows to make a posy. There are lots of options.

For more ideas for great Teacher’s Gifts you can make, try:

Edible Sparkles

Coffee Cup Teacher’s Gift

Teacher’s Thank You Cards

Apple Print Tote Bag

Painted Plant Pot Gifts

Plant Marker Gift

 

 

 

Squerryes have reason to celebrate

A few weeks ago I was given a rare opportunity to visit Squerryes, former local attraction, and landmark to taste what is hoped will be the jewel in the crown of the Squerryes Estate. This weekend brings to fruition, literally, plans that began in 2004 with a conversation with a French vineyard.

Squerryes Brut 2010

And now, ahead of it’s release, the 2010 Brut has a trio of awards to bear proudly on the label. Made exclusively from grapes grown on the Squerryes Estate in 2010 –  40% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir and 25% Pinot Meunier – has produced a classic, well balanced blend. And it is jolly good: 

If you head to Squerryes this weekend, not only will you have the chance to tour the gardens of the fabulous Westerham Estate which has been closed to the public since 2012. It will undoubtedly be the best time to see them, not least because the Squerryes Estate- which hosts the British Family Fayre again this August- will also showcase a number of local artisanal purveyors of food and drink.

Squerryes: A Celebration is from 11:00 to 17:00 on Friday 20th and Saturday 21st June.

£8 per adult, children under 18 free.

Included in the ticket price will be a free glass of Squerryes Sparkling Wine, 1/3 pint of Westerham Brewery beer and cup of Blends for Friends tea. There will be the first opportunity to buy Squerryes Sparkling Wine. Single bottles will be available to take away on the day and £8 will be deducted from the sales price. Larger quantities will be available to order on the day.

Tickets will be available on the day, or tickets can be purchased in advance on the Squerryes Celebration website.

*Disclosure: I was invited to a tasting event and given a bottle of Squerryes Brut 2010 to try. All opinions are my own.*