Thursday, 31 May 2012

Party time with Next – treasure hunt competition

Who's ready for the Jubilee weekend? It's going to be a weekend packed full of celebrations and Next are joining in the fun with some fantastic competitions to get us in the party mood. It's all about finding hidden Next objects in their special Jubilee photos. 

I am delighted to be running one of their fantastic competitions here on my blog, which gives one of you the chance to win the fab 'Geri flag T-shirt'. 

To enter, simply follow Never Bored of Bubbles either on GFC or Networked blogs and let me know which you have done, then answer the following question (please make sure you leave a way for me to contact you). 

How many people have Union Jacks on their outfit?

So eyes peeled and make sure you look at whole outfits (not just the clothes) *hint* *hint*! 

Leave your answer in the comments below, and be quick it closes Tuesday 5 June 2012 at 3pm. A winner will be chosen at random from all correct entries using

Competition is UK only.

Good luck and enjoy the extra long bank holiday!

This competition is now closed. Thanks to everybody who entered, it was a tricky one but the answer was 4. The t-shirt, dress, pumps and bag, well done if you got it correct!

I picked the winner using and the winner is....

1. Leopard Print Mommy

Congratulations!! I'll be in touch shortly.

Monday, 28 May 2012

The London Aquarium

We recently had a day out at the London Aquarium, and had such a brilliant day! We took advantage of a great offer – you can get 2 for 1 entry with your train ticket. You just have to print off the relevant vouchers by visiting the Days Out website – all you need then is a valid rail ticket for that day. I hadn't realised you could do this, and my monthly season ticket was valid for the offer which was fantastic. It really is worth checking out, there are lots of attractions available on the deal, including London Zoo. I will be using it again now I've found it, so I wanted to share it with everyone!

I've also spotted 2 for 1 Merlin entry on kids Tesco cereal packets and it's part of the Merlin group so that could be another option if you weren't travelling by train.

I went with my sister, her daughter and my little girl. The two girls were both free as they are under the age of 3, which meant between us we only paid about £9 each to get in. I had heard tales of huge queues but we went on a Friday morning and walked straight in.

I had visited the aquarium before but it was years ago when it had first opened and to be honest I hadn't been too impressed! It seemed quite small and dark and before I knew it I was out in the gift shop and Macdonalds cafe. I'd been hearing a lot of positive reports recently so I decided to give it another go! It has changed a lot and really has improved, this time I thought it was fantastic and the girls had a great time. There is so much to see including an impressive central tank full of beautiful fish, sharks and rays. My little one was desperate to see a turtle and luckily (or there may of been tears) she wasn't disappointed! First she fell in love the little turtles and then almost burst at the end when a huge Green Sea Turtle swam right towards her!

They both stroked a starfish and a crab, practised dancing like seahorses and found every fish they knew from Finding Nemo! Squiggle needed a lot of coaching to go through the glass tunnel with sharks swimming above but she did it in the end. There is a glass floor right at the entrance which we thought they would love but they were absolutely terrified, a strange sensation I suppose!

There is a lot to see: sharks, rays, jelly fish, a crocodile and even penguins! We were a bit worried about the ethics of keeping penguins in an enclosure with no natural light but I told myself they must rotate them with a lovely outdoor pool somewhere? They seemed very happy and the girls could watch them dive into the water really close up which they loved. If you can take advantage of one the deals it really is a great outing, we were there all morning followed by a picnic on the Southbank which is a really nice area to stroll along.

A big under the sea thumbs up from us!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

From Ketchup to Sorrento

See I knew Heinz tomato ketchup was good for me... last year thanks to them, I won a holiday to Sorrento. Possibly the best email I've ever received on a Monday, I was shaking when I read that I had won! 

It was part of their secret ingredient promotion, they posted a series of recipes which used tomato ketchup as part of the ingredients and you had to make them and post a pic! I made a very tasty lasagna, posted it to their Facebook competition and crossed my fingers. 

Now I do love entering competitions but winning a holiday was a bit of a dream away! There's no way we would have been going abroad otherwise so I was very very grateful. I wasn't sure how it would work but they were so helpful in organising the trip and even used my spending money allowance to book Squiggle on to the holiday with us.

We flew out on a 6am flight which meant my little one had been up since 4am but she was good as gold on the flight. It was really quiet so we spread out and had the trunki packed with goodies. It was such a relief that now she's 2 she gets her own seat. She's very tall and last time we flew I could barely fit her on my knee! We got her a set of 'littlest pet shop' characters for a surprise and they kept her so happy. She was also told she could go and see the pilots in the cockpit as she'd been so good, her little face all lit up was a picture! 

Once at Naples we had opted to cancel our transfer so we could use our transfer money for more fun things and we took the €10 bus which was great value. It sent us all off to sleep and then I woke to a beautiful coastline. It's really dramatic, and not for the faint hearted by coach! 

We found our hotel 'Atiche Mura' without any trouble and were delighted when we did. We made it inside just before the heavens opened! It is a beautiful hotel, spotless, inviting, lots of Italian character, and with a fantastic central location. The staff were really friendly and went out of their way to be helpful, I think they cleaned our room about 3 times a day! It's a funny thing not picking your own hotel but we couldn't have chosen better ourselves. The hotel highlight was the breakfast with a view down over a ravine one side and doors to their orange grove gardens the other. The food was fantastic and so was the coffee... and you could squeeze your own fresh orange juice with a splash of champagne if you fancied. I have never tasted oranges so good, my little girl loved them we had sticky fingers galore. Every morning after her cereal and fruit she wad allowed to choose us each a Breakfast cake from the huge selection. 

We only had a few days and a limited budget so we tried to fit in the things we really wanted to do whilst making sure we took our chance to relax. We spent time wondering Sorrento's cobbled streets, eating amazing ice cream and enjoying the cliff edge views with delicious takeaway pizzas. There is a small beach at the bottom which we walked down to but it was a bit grubby and not somewhere you would chose to sit for the day. Might be a different atmosphere in the summer though!

We took a great value bus across to the Amalfi Coast one day and got off at Positano. Still with steep cobbled streets, this town has a lovely holiday feel to it and a nicer beach where we relaxed and played with a very happy toddler! The trip was a great way to see more of the stunning coast. 

Positano in the clouds

Our other chosen day out was Pompeii which is a place I have always been desperate to visit. We took the train which, whilst not the most luxurious of carriages, ran on time and was a snip at €9, plus stopped very close to the entrance. We couldn't believe our luck when we arrived at the entrance to find it was the end of national culture week and free to get in! We all loved it, you can't really prepare yourself for how big it is, so amazing to see and very tragic when you stop and think about what you are looking at. Be warned though... it really is not the place for a pushchair!! I had some new found muscles and holes in my boots at the end of that day. 
Stopping to make a stick lizard in Pompeii!

Another part of the prize was a cookery class. We found Italy a very child friendly place and they were happy for us to bring our toddler. In fact, they seemed confused I felt I had to ask if we could. We planned it perfectly so she slept for 2.5 hours of the 3 hour course. Trouble is it actually went on for 6 hours in the end! A few people were staring to get fed up, especially when we all realised we had cooked all the food for the restaurant diners that night! It was great fun though, the chef was lovely and I learnt how to make proper Italian homemade ravioli so it was a fantastic experience!

The chef!

There was plenty more to see in the area that we couldn't fit in... further trips down the coast to Almalfi and Ravello, the boat to Capri and a visit to the top of Mount Vesuvius, would all have been next on my list.

I was worried before we went that it wasn't going to be a great place to visit with a little one in tow but while she may have enjoyed a beach holiday even more, she really loved it. Just the excitement of somewhere new and having mummy and daddy there together for days in a row meant she was happy as can be. And hills, there were lots of hills, and running down hills just happens to be her favourite thing! 

Thank you Heinz tomato ketchup, you have and always will be my favourite sauce!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Misty mornings

The theme for this weeks gallery over on the Sticky Fingers blog is mornings. You should really go and have a look at Tara's post for this theme, it will make you think!

Here is my entry – We have just been to Loch Lomond with my family and as my relatives kindly offered to watch our little girl for a while, my husband and I raced off (well I plodded) up Conic Hill. The views were just breathtaking and as it was morning the mist was just lifting off the sides of the mountains, so beautiful! We were the only people up there, pure tranquility.

The 2's (the age of negotiations)

At two and a half my little one now seems more like a little girl than a toddler *sob*. It is a truly wonderful age – her imagination is amazing, her dance moves are hilarious, her ability to learn is inspiring, and her giggle just so infectious. 

But what I have come to realise is that our days are now just one big negotiation.

We wake up, I negotiate her coming to take her bedtime nappy off (she says she likes it wet). Then I negotiate getting her downstairs for breakfast (she's not hungry). Then once downstairs she finds all her favourite things to play with so again I have to persuade her up to the breakfast table. 

Me: "oh but little giraffe says he really wants to help you eat your breakfast."
3:0 to mummy.

And so the negotiations continue:

Sit on the potty. 
Go upstairs again.
Get dressed. ("But your rabbit dress is in the wash and this one would be perfect for running really fast in.")
Brush teeth.
Go downstairs again.
Put shoes and coat on if you want to go to the park.
Hold my hand walking to the park.
Time to leave the park.
Hold my hand walking back from the park.
Sit up for lunch. 
Wear bib.
Use fork.Wash hands.
Just play a minute while mummy does the dishes.
Don't play with mummy's jewellery boxes.
Get shoes and coats on.
Get in car.
Sit in the trolley.
Persuade her to look after the bread rather than the eggs.
Stay on trolley at the tills.
...Oh you get the idea. I'm worn out writing it!

It's battle of the wills and I can just about outwit her with my clever negation skills at the moment. We get there in the end... but just once wouldn't it be nice to say "time to get our coats on" and hear "OK mummy here I come".

Those days are just around the corner right?

Monday, 14 May 2012

TinyTigs – Monthly kids crafts to your door

This weekend my little girl received a lovely treat through the post – a craft pack from TinyTigs for us to test out and review. The parcel was personalised to my daughter which was a lovely touch and she was really excited to get some post just for her!

TinyTigs is a really great idea, started by Caroline, a mum of 2 girls, who loves crafting and understands that for some people it can be a tiny bit daunting! For a monthly fee TinyTigs  send you a craft pack every month which includes everything you need for a minimum of three projects (except the glue, but that's something most people have about the house anyway). She has tried to make the packs as accessible and un-daunting as possible and after trying them out I can confirm that they are not at all scary!

It is perfect for parents who enjoy arts and crafts with the kids but struggle come up with ideas of what to do next, or for time strapped mums like myself! I like to try and do one crafty thing with my daughter on my days off and I really try to maximise our time together, which is always hard when there's shopping and housework to be done! This just makes it all so easy, the packs contain instruction and all the craft bits you'll need, so there's no hunting about for things... just straight into the fun!

Here's what we discovered when we opened our parcel:

Our surprise crafts to make were: a gold paper crown, tissue paper flowers in a wall vase, and some union jack flag bunting. Squiggle immediately picked up the crown pack and very excitedly wanted to make it straight away... I think it was the sparkly gems that did it!

It was very easy to pop the crown shapes out and the craft was nice and simple so she could get creative with all the decorations that had been given to her. I have to say also that it contained the best glitter I have ever seen, nice and chunky so it wasn't everywhere and was easy to tidy up! There was a second crown in the pack and we have plenty of decorations and glitter left, so we are going to make that one next week! I would say this was great fun for her age to do with mummy or daddy but it would also be enjoyable for an older child too, who could get creative by themselves.

There are some reasonable price packages and what I thought was great is the option to cancel at any time, there is more information on their website:

They also run a monthly TinyTigs kid's competition to inspire the little ones which sounds great fun and if you are quick new subscriptions gets a free PVC painting coat.

I'm really looking forward to us making the flowers together and I am saving the bunting for our jubilee decorations. I'll post the pictures when we make them! 

I love the fact that the May pack activities are really relevant to the month, it means we'll get lots of value out of the crafts after we make them. Squiggle with be wearing her crown and waving her bunting come jubilee weekend!

Stress free, happy crafting – hurrah!

You can also keep up to date with TinyTigs news on twitter @Tinytigs

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Potty time... the next instalment

At the minute I can't decide if we are moving forward, going backwards, or just staying the same. I'm trying not to worry and just take it as it comes but any advice would be very welcome, I'm just wondering if these are common potty issues?

We've been doing really well and had quite a lot of action on the potty and toilet. We've been so pleased with her and she's been getting lots of well deserved excited praise. My one concern is that her potty triumphs are always after I convince her to give it a go. The positive side is she must be doing well with her bladder control as she is holding on till I put her on the potty to go and on the whole keeping her favourite pants dry. We have however had a couple of wee accidents last weekend (one sitting on my lap in Nandos - nice) and one in the lounge when I think she was too busy playing to notice, but I know this is to be expected! 

I'm just not sure now how to get to the next step where she asks for the toilet. I'm not sure she recognises she needs to go but if she does how do I convince her it's a good idea to tell me. She is very articulate so that's not the issue but gets very engrossed in what she's doing and hates to be interrupted mid game/book/programme! I've tried explaining that using the potty is great as you can play, pop on it quickly, and then get straight back to playing, rather than having to go off and get cleaned and changed. Not worked so far though!

I had a breakthrough on Monday when a toilet we visited had a squirty tap that splashed me, she's been a lot more keen to visit toilet since, I guess in the hope she can laugh at me again. Hey whatever works!

Number twos seem to be an even greater sticky problem with her, we've had success by me knowing her routine or watching out for her pulling a funny face but when she has to go she goes. There doesn't seem to be much holding in of this yet!

If anyone has any good tips of how to get to the next step I would love to hear them. There's no manual for this stuff is there? 

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

It's not going to stop raining so...

...lets do some sponge painting!

It's cheap, it's messy, and it's very fun (especially when you are 2!)
My little one really got stuck in doing this, so much so I've hidden the sponges for a few days so we don't have to do it every time it rains!

I got our sponges from Tesco, they were only about a pound and a pound well spent. We used some Galt poster paints for the colour and then drew round them in pastels afterwards.

Sorry I didn't get any photos of the printing in progress... messy hands!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Toddler travels

There is a great buzz in our household at the moment, the source? My little baby brother's wedding is fast approaching! Now most of the dress/hat/shoe sagas are sorted out there are a couple of new hurdles on the horizon.

Task one: Getting there

This involves a bit of a road trip, an estimated 6 hours in fact. We did a similar length journey last year but at 2.5 years Squiggle now has twice the energy and half the patience, so it might not be be such plain sailing. I need to travel prepared. 

I have a to do list as long as my arm:
Buy/pack some 
mess free, slow to eat snacks for bribery 
Purchase a surprise toy for novelty value
Look out some travel sized books
Check the car
Clear out the car
Look into breakdown cover
Get lots of sleep so we can leave at the crack of dawn while there's a chance little on may still sleep.
Pack a couple of her CDs (or will 10 renditions of the dingle dangle scarecrow tip daddy driver over the edge?)
in-car DVD player from a friend – potential life saver.
Research service stations in the hope there is one on route with a playground where she can stretch her legs.

Task two: Sitting nicely through the wedding
My little girl adores my brother and fiance and follows them about everywhere whenever they visit, giggling and becoming almost delirious with excitement. It is very cute but I have visions of Squiggle chasing the bride down the aisle and asking her to play hide and seek. 

In preparation we've been talking about the wedding for a long time now. I've been telling her that her aunt will be so so proud of her if she sits and listens nicely with all the boys and girls at the wedding.

I have an emergency sticker book which I plan to whip out during the wedding breakfast but it's such a long time to sit still for a little one. I've told her that the reward for all this is the best party she's ever seen with lots and lots of dancing and fun with all her cousins.

Lets hope it's a day to remember for all the right reasons!

Cross your fingers for me and if you've got any good tips, I would love you to share them.

This is a sponsored post

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

The Joy of Swimming

This is my entry to the BritMums Joy of Swimming Competition, sponsored by British Gas.

Swimming memories...I have lots of wonderful swimming memories – my dad teaching me, my mums face as my little brother chose to swim underwater before above it, braving the British seas on family holidays and always always insisting you weren't cold and didn't need to come out – despite having blue lips and being covered in goose bumps. One of favourite things in the world is to swim in the sea, I find it so peaceful and relaxing... you won't often find me by a hotel pool!

My swimming memory I have chosen may not sound like it should be a joyous one but strangely I always look back at it happily. It was all very exciting to me at the time and the memory always brings me a smile.

I can't remember how old I was - perhaps 5ish - I could swim, just not that strongly. We were on the holiday of our dreams visiting Disney in America and were at the Wet and Wild water park for the day. I was having fun swimming in the pool, I think my older sister and dad were in there too, it was pretty busy and my mum was sitting out with my baby brother. Now don't ask me why but we had no idea it was a wave pool... until the waves began to start. I thought it was really funny when they started, then the pool started to feel very crowded and very deep and as I went up and right down it wasn't long before I wasn't too sure about it, then just blackness.

The next thing I remember was waking up in an American mans arms and being handed to my worried or maybe more embarrassed mum! I don't even think I told anyone I had passed out, I was so worried I'd never be allowed in any of the pools again. I paddled with my brother on the beach bit of the pool instead while the waves were on after that.

Looking back I always think how these memories make me realise how different I was as a child. I never complained of illness or injury (I once skied a whole day with a broken arm) and just didn't have that sense of fear. I just wanted to get back in the water! These days I'm all up for a bit of sympathy!

It's such a shame you lose that as you get older, but I guess it's necessary for survival... and so that you are able to be responsible watch out for your own fearless child I guess.

I love watching my daughter swimming she just has so much excitement in the water. At 2 half I have just managed to get her over her bizarre fear of inflatable things to wear some armbands. She loved it! And kept begging me to let go so she could swim on her own...hmmm. No fear in her yet either then!!

My water baby

Joy of Swimming 125x125