Travel & Days Out: Shakespeare’s Birthplace: A Tour. (Review) [AD – Press Trip]

Last weekend, we were invited to Stratford-Upon-Avon to visit Shakespeare’s Birthplace as part of the Shakespeare’s Trust’s 170th year of caring for the properties that belong to the trust. The properties included are: Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Shakespeare’s New Place, Halls Croft, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, and Mary Arden’s Farm.


I studied Shakespeare during my GCSE’s and again at A-Level as I enjoyed it so much. I always enjoyed reading the plays  as more often than not there were hidden messages – whether it be around politics or racial issues. Despite the tragedy, they were often beautiful pieces of writing that went into great detail (if you understood it, a lot of detail!).

So when we were invited for a weekend of Shakespearean history I couldn’t say no.

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Camp Bestival: Our First Time Camping with a Toddler

Almost two weeks ago, we ventured into the world of camping and decided to buy tickets to Camp Bestival – a family festival based in Dorset from Thursday 27th July to Monday 31st July. Sharon and I had been camping before, but not with a toddler in tow! We knew this was going to be an experience!

Arriving early on the Thursday morning after a 5am wake up (6am for the toddler) and a 3 hour drive with one stop we managed to get in line before the campsite had even opened! Naively, I didn’t think there’d be many people as crazy as us, but upon chatting to people in the queue (yes, a queue) there were people who had flown from up north or had even parked up the previous night ready to be first in line! Although we did contemplate staying in a hotel the night before, the drive wasn’t that bad from Brighton to Dorset – especially that early!

Once we got through security, we headed to find a good spot and after a few exhausting treks up and down hill(s) we had our tent up and our new home for the next few days set up by lunchtime! We were ready! The weather, however, was not.

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Our Holiday to The Lake District

Over the week of my 30th birthday, Sharon booked a week’s holiday to The Lake District in an attempt to see the last few days of my 20’s in relaxation mode! Starting off as a secret, Sharon simply put the postcode into the sat nav and off we went! Some 4 hours over the expected 5 hour journey due to traffic problems we finally arrived in the Lake District!

We’ve never explored The Lake District, and to be honest the north of the country never really attracted us (apart from the most north location; Scotland – one day!). We’ve always headed to the west country as that’s where we’ve felt most at home, so the north was completely alien. Saying that, I did genuinely believe The Lake District was a lot lower than it was so I was pleasantly surprised when I found out how north it was – it’s certainly made me re think the north of England.

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Travelling with a Diono – Review

Over the Christmas and new year period, including a few days before and a several weeks after, we’ve spent a lot of time delivering presents, and seeing friends and family far and wide.

A few months ago, we could usually guarantee T falling asleep in the car on every journey, even if he had just had a long nap an hour or two before hand. Now, being 9 months old, he still falls asleep in car but once he’s had his allotted nap he’s awake and often gets fed up. Even if we take him out the car and then start a new journey later on after a leg stretch, he’s awake until his allotted nap time. Therefore, the period before hand and in between can be hellish. There’s a lot of crying (from all parties).

Thankfully, we were recently given a Travel Pal and a Baby Organiser by Diono who specialise in baby and travel accessories.

The Travel Pal works as a sturdy organiser to store anything from toys to books, or in our case, presents!

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Here are the features:-

  • Large cargo area for sharing.
  • Zippered pockets
  • Fits between two child seats.
  • 8 side pockets
  • Insulated drinks holders.
  • Waterproof.

As T’s a lot longer in the arm department now it means he can grab a toy or book and play with it to keep him occupied. When S sits in the back with him she now also has a variety of toys and games to play with T. It beats having to fiddle around in a changing bag, arguing about where I put sofie!

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It also means that when we arrive at our destination we can pick the organiser up and take it with us – saving on valuable changing bag space. It has a really solid base which means you can place it on the ground outside or on a park bench for picnics!

The Baby Organiser also acts as an organiser; hence the name, but a more compact, mobile one! You can use it in the car as well as on a buggy whilst out and about.

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Here are the features:-

  • 4 pockets ranging in size for all necessities.
  • Easy to use.
  • Insulated bottle holder.

With a handy zip that runs around the body, you can keep the organiser as a small pouch / handbag, or undo it and keep it as a larger organiser.


S has utilised it several times for storing drinks, extra dummies, muslins, even a magazine or two. It keeps everything off the floor and in one place.

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We’ve also taken it with us on our travels once we’ve arrived at our location by removing the Velcro straps from the back of the car seat and onto the back of the buggy. It fits the handles of both strollers and prams!

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What we really like about Diono products is the attention to detail. From the fabric used, which is often waterproof and extremely tough for those moments you misjudge a space and end up scraping the buggy (just me?), to the variety of pockets offered in their organisers. They have really thought of everything.

K

We were given a Diono Travel Pal and Diono Baby Organiser for the purpose of a review, however thoughts and opinions are our own. 

The Pod, by Mountain Buggy (Review) [AD]

When T was a newborn, going out for an early dinner or meeting S for lunch was relatively easy (once I got over feeding in public). Most of the time I was able to feed T before I went out (or give him a top up / one for the road) and once we’d got to our destination he’d be asleep in his pram or the wrap.

Now that he’s a bit older, and also weaning, going out for lunch is not such a simple task. Not only do you have to contend with a baby who doesn’t always want to sleep as planned, but they definitely don’t want to sit still on you whilst you eat your lunch. Plus, they want YOUR food.

Although these days you have a huge amount of restaurants and cafes that provide highchairs, if they’re all taken or if you’re in one of those restaurants that say they’re child friendly by providing meatballs and pasta as their kids meal option but their highchair looks like a weapon of torture or sits-a-mile-away-from-the-table-because-it’s-been-purchased-last-minute-and-not-with-the-table-in-mind, you’re pretty stumped.

That’s why I found The Pod by Mountain Buggy to be a really useful tool when eating on the go, making the majority* of restaurant tables adaptable to you.

The Pod is simply a fold away highchair, but the level of design makes it rather clever.

Firstly, it’s light and compact. It folds/collapses into a neat carry case that can be put in the bottom of your buggy, in your car boot, or in your rucksack.

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To assemble, simply fold out the two brackets – like the ones you get in school woodwork class – and affix to the table you’re sitting at.

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Because they’re screw clamps, you can fix the seat to most* tables; thick or thin. *The only tables you’re not recommended to use The Pod with are ones that don’t have four legs; such as tulip tables, don’t have solid legs; such as fold up tables, as well as round tables, or glass tables.

The chair is made out of a tough canvas and has a solid seat that the child sits on and a metal bar that runs around the back, acting as a spine. Once assembled, it’s a strong and sturdy chair that really isn’t going anywhere. Also, because it hangs from the tabletop, it doesn’t take up unnecessary room!

 

We’ve used it several times now. It was our seat for T whilst in the caravan on holiday (the ones you can hire really do have a life of their own) as well as in pubs, restaurants, and park benches for picnics. We also take it with us when we go to friend’s houses for dinner.

Even if T isn’t eating, it means he can sit with us rather than be left on his playmat or passed between laps. It means he’s always included, which is great whilst weaning, and at the same level as us no matter where we’re sitting (another issue with conventional highchairs!)

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What I like most about the seat is that it will last T a long time. Because of the generous leg space, in comparison to other highchairs, and general strength of the seat, it’ll be able to hold T into toddlerhood and (maybe) beyond.

In the past, when we went out with friends who had kids, there was always this roulette of having to check whether the restaurant provided highchairs or even whether the place was too busy – a sure sign that all the highchairs will be in use. If they didn’t provide highchairs, or the place was too busy, we often had to a) go somewhere else, b) wait for a seat, or if we didn’t want option b) we had option c) which was leave the babies in the buggy; taking up lots of room. This solves these issues very simply.

K

We were kindly given The Pod for the purpose of a review but all thoughts and opinions of three product are our own. 

Travelling with Gro – The Gro Travel Sleeping Bag (Review)

We knew having a baby would limit the amount of time we’d spend outside visiting places thanks to bedtime, however we weren’t necessarily prepared to never visit friends for dinner.

So when T dropped his bedtime forward by an hour from 8pm to 7pm we initially thought we’d be forever having friends round ours and never going out.

Very quickly we decided we’d just have to do his bedtime routine out if we were at a friends house, unless we were naturally able to leave where we were before 6pm to get him home. This was highly unlikely if we were having dinner. Plus, even if we left on time, we couldn’t gurantee there wouldn’t be traffic; delaying someone’s bedtime.

Thankfully, we recently found that the guys at Gro do a travel version of their sleeping bags. The reason they’re a travel version is because there’s a ready made gap at the back of the Gro bag and an additional zip on the front to create a hole so that you can fit a car seat seat belt through the sleeping bag whilst the bag is done up so you can travel with them already in their pyjamas. All you have to do when you get home is unbuckle and transfer from car seat to cot.

This is ingenious. No more accidentally getting home late and fighting with a tired baby who doesn’t want to get changed. Just unbuckle and transfer.

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The travel bags come in a range of togs and designs and when his other sleeping bags are in the wash, we still use this one as we’ve found the gap on the back has been handy to check whether someone has filled their nappy when they’re lying on their front or on our chest!

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The car seat buckle hole aka the nappy checker hole.

 

We’ve used this several times now, each time making bedtimes so much easier. The first time was a bit fiddly as we put T in his car seat without sorting the zip out to create the gap for the car seat buckle first (epic fail) but even with that obstacle he still remained warm and snuggled in his car seat and went back to sleep once give car was in motion. When we got home, we just unbuckled and transferred him to his cot. Perfect.

K

We purchased the Gro Travel Sleeping Bag with our own cash and were given no compensation for the purpose of this review.