Sunday, 29 November 2015

Lapland UK 2015 - This Surrey Mummy's Review

Charlie is finally at that age where he is getting Christmas and I mean really getting Christmas. I kid you not the child will watch Arthur Christmas at any given chance and he is fascinated daily by the arrival of our elf in residence Jack Tingle.

We were very lucky to be invited to visit Lapland UK and this morning with John Lennon, The Pogues and good old Chris Rea on the Spotify playlist, we headed twenty minutes down the M3 to Whitmoor Forest in Ascot. The boys were dressed head toe in festive attire kindly given to them by our friends at Next clothing and they really looked ready for Christmas!

Lapland UK is set in the heart of the Whitmoor Forest and all the action is set in the "enchanted forest". The entrance to this magical land is approached by a rather muddy winding path so be warned if you visit, bring your wellies!

The entrance tent really sets the scene, dimly lit with fairy lights and a beautiful earthy smell. The tent was warm from heaters which was a blessing as it was bitterly cold today. We checked in and were met by one of the enchanted forest's elves who issued us with our Elf passport. We then exchanged our human money for "Jingles" which are special elf currency. This is quite fun and really adds an air of authenticity. We exchanged £30 for 30J. What I was surprised at was that whatever Jingles you did not use you were able to exchange back into human money but naturally how many Jingles do you think we had left at the end? Exactly none. So Jingles in hand, we were then assigned groups. We were in the husky group and were each given stickers with a big husky footprint stamped on it.

We were met by a couple of elves who lead us through to the start of our adventure. The warm tent was turned into a woodland stage and the smell of fresh wood and pine that filled the air made you feel like you had been transported into a wood straight out of a Shakespeare's Midsummers Dream. 

Here we met the oldest elf in the wood. Now, as elves go he was brilliant, in fact all of the "elves" were brilliant, the event organisers have clearly taken time to cast expert actors as these guys and girls were very good and they genuinely made you believe they were elves. After being told the story of where elves come from, you know they come from pine cones that are wrapped in wool and the an elf grows from it, well of course you do, we are met by our husky leader who led us all the way to Father Christmas' toy factory. 

What is very apparent from the first ten minutes of observation is that it is not a cheap and nasty experience. Quality is very much at the centre here. The buildings are solid and tastefully decorated and the attention to detail is second to none. Here at the toy factory Charlie helped make reindeer stuffed toys and also a wooden walking horse. After he had helped his elf passport was stamped and we made our way to Mother Christmas' kitchen. 

We followed the windy snowy path all the way down to Mother Christmas' kitchen and we knew it could not be far as we could smell the sweet scent of gingerbread in the air. Mother Christmas welcomed us into her kitchen where all the tables were laid out with gingerbread decorations for the children to do and festive jumpers were kept squeaky clean with the help of aprons and chefs hats! 

Our husky heard leader then sent us in the direction of the "Elf Village" where we had just over an hour and twenty minutes to amuse ourselves. The elf village is great and there is certainly lots to do. 

One of the main attractions is the ice rink where small folk and big folk can try their hand at ice skating, something that Charlie has been desperate to do, and there is no additional cost for this activity. 

Here we also met Amber one of the resident husky dogs, sent postcards to our loved ones from Lapland UK (1Jingle each), wrote our letter to Father Christmas, we also visited the sweet shop to stock up on some sweet treats and browsed the gift shop.

By this time we were starting to get peckish and went in search of some food. There are two places to get food. One is a kiosk selling hot bratwurst, hot chocolates and coffees and the main restaurant where we chose to eat. Food is what you would expect from a busy attraction but refreshingly it was not a rip off. We had Swedish meatballs, mash and gravy, an adults fish finger sandwich, a children's fish finger sandwich and two drinks and it came to just over £20. 

After lunch the time had come that Charlie had been waiting for. We were off to meet the main man himself Father Christmas. We followed the windy path towards Father Christmas' wooden house passing his wooden sleigh and also his reindeer!

Here we were met by more elves who checked us in and also checked (without Charlie listening) that the information we had provided them was up to date. Prior to today, we had to update via the event website information on Charlie so as to make the experience more believable. 

Father Christmas' was a jolly old soul. Warm and welcoming with more than enough "ho ho ho" and also a remarkable beard, extra points for his rounded tummy too! Here he greeted Charlie and Hector and proceeded to have a good old chat with them. I will never forget the look on Charlie's face when he asked where Buddy was? It was a picture. Father Christmas knew that a Lego policeman station was top of the list and also that he is due to be a sheep in the nativity - Charlie was speechless and his face was beaming with excitement! Father Christmas thanked them for all their help and rewarded them with a husky dog cuddly toy for Charlie and an elf for Hector. After a good ten minutes of chatting and gift exchange it was photo time! Now whilst you are not allowed to take any photos inside you can video the meet and greet should you so wish, we were just enjoying watching him so decided against taping it. The photographs were £15 each with the added bonus of having the image to download at home. Obviously we shall be turning ours in to the Webb Christmas card 2015 coming to a letter box near you soon!

In summary, wow what a place. It's not cheap and it is by far the most expensive Christmas experience around in the UK at this time with prices starting from £49.50 up to £89.50 per person but compared to having to travel to the real Lapland it's a snip! You cannot deny it, it is magical and as a once in a lifetime experience it is definitely a must for the small folk in your life. Obviously, with Hector being so small we shall have to wait a couple of years to take Hector back but for Charlie I really hope that he remembers this for a long time to come. 

We would like to thank the event organisers for inviting us to Lapland UK, we enjoyed every minute of it, it's a very very special place and the Webb family are now most definitely feeling Christmassy and festive.

Big love,

This Surrey Mummy x

Lapland UK kindly gifted us a family ticket to the above experience but the views in the review are entirely my own. 


Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Say "Hello" To Jack Tingle....

So, with December just around the corner I'll be honest I've started to get bored of the "Father Christmas" threat that I've been using daily since October already so I've decided to whip out the "Elf On The Shelf" a little earlier than scheduled this year.

Jack Tingle and Charlie's invite to Lapland UK. 

This weekend coming we are very lucky to have been invited to Lapland UK and Charlie's personalised invitation arrived this morning so what better way to have it delivered to him than by our family's elf, Jack Tingle.

We'd been through the front door no less than five minutes when Charlie bounced into his room and started shouting "Mummy, Mummy, Mummy", I knew that Jack Tingle had been spotted. For the last couple of weeks we had told Charlie that Jack Tingle would be coming to stay and keep an eye on his behaviour and that he would return to Lapland each night to report to Father Christmas on his behaviour so he was not surprised to see him. He also saw the letter and asked me to read it to him, which I did...

This will be our first visit to Lapland UK and if the invitation and personalised letter is anything to go by we just know it'll be fabulous!

Jack Tingle will stay for us until Christmas Eve and there are so many ideas on Pinterest which I will be consulting daily for inspiration to make Jack Tingle's stay even more magical, believable and fun for Charlie!

We are off to Lapland UK on Sunday and I can't wait to share with you our experience!

Big love, 

This Surrey Mummy x


Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Dairy free, gluten free, fat free, guilt free waffles!

We have known since Hector was little that he was dairy intolerant like his elder brother Charlie. I am hopeful that this is just a digestive immaturity like Charlie had so until one years of age we will be avoiding dairy.

We are doing a mix of homemade, pouches and finger food this time around and breakfasts can be notoriously challenging in our house due to the fact that I have Surrey's fussiest eater on my hands. For breakfast Charlie will usually only eat two Weetabix and to stay I struggle to get vegetables and fruit down him is an understatement. I am determined not to have this problem with Hector.

One thing I know that Charlie loves is waffles. Carb filled waffles and pancakes. Well, I like to have one up on my children without them knowing and one way I achieve this by hiding fruit and vegetables into food they love.

One recipe which he loves and Hector also loves are my dairy free, gluten free, fat free, guilt free pancakes!

What you'll need.....

2 x bananas
2 x large eggs
Pinch of cinnamon

How to make them....

- Place all your ingredients into a blender or mixer. I am using and loving the Beaba Babycook Duo and with its double steamers I can make these on one side whilst preparing tea for tomorrow on the other side. Give it all a good blitz until smooth.

- Turn on your waffle maker or heat up your griddle pan. I use a low cal spray but you can use butter should you not need to make it dairy free.

- Plop a large dollop of the mix onto the waffle maker and follow the instructions. On mine I simply shut the lid and wait till they are cooked.

These are perfect for dipping in yoghurt, sprinkled with sugar or just with good old fashioned golden syrup!


This Surrey Mummy


Sunday, 8 November 2015

The Festive Lust List 2015 - Your Home

For me there is no better time of year than Christmas. It's this holiday that conjures up many images for different people but for me it's all about Scandinavian traditions (a nod to my heritage), family and being at home. 

I've never been away from home for Christmas and I would never want to be. For me Christmas begins and ends at home so I am kicking off this years "Festive Lust List" with items for your home.

I am obsessed with front doors. Being an estate agent I've seen my fair few but my ideal is a good solid door with immaculate fixings and especially at this time of year adorned with a beautiful natural wreath, a fresh one is ideal but an artificial one can hit the spot and set the tone just perfectly.

The White Company - Fir and Snowberry Wreath £100.00

The White Company have a beautiful Fir and Snowberry Wreath this year that I've totally fallen in love with this and I will definitely be purchasing for our front door!

They also do a matching garland which even though I do not have a staircase I am sure that I can drape it over my mantlepiece and it's a timeless piece that would look great every year. 

The White Company - Fir and Snowberry Garland £70.00
I'm not very adventurous when it comes to outlandish decorations and prefer mine to fit the colour scheme of our home which is three million shades of grey, taupe and white. 

The rule surrounding fairy lights is that they must be white and never coloured which takes me right back to when we were younger and my mum let us decorate the tree in the playroom however we chose and as garish as we wanted, but we were never allowed to touch the tree in the formal lounge and now being an adult and a bit OCD I totally get why! 

I love lanterns and they are an item that you can purchase once and they can add glamour to any room and at this time of year I love to replace my candles with LED fairy lights. I got my lanterns a year or so ago from Sainsbury's but they are readily available and the ones below are from Nordic House.  

Pinterest is also great for searching out cool and quirky ways to decorate your home and this year I love the idea of filling Mason jars with fairy lights, and given that you can pick up Mason jars relatively cheaply it makes a low cost stunning decoration. 

I got mine from Sainsbury's but I love these oversized ones from Nordic House

Hurricane vases filled with LED fairy lights also make an attractive and cost effective decoration

I love these Mason jars filled with fairy lights

As well as fairy lights I adore a scented candle and there are always certain smells that throw you straight back into the festive feel. For me the smell of cinnamon, gingerbread and pine cones does it for me, one whiff and I'm back wearing my Christmas jumper! If you like to go for a more subtle "winter" tone then these two candles should hit the spot...
The White Company Winter candle £20.00 and is one of their bestsellers

The Jo Malone Limited Edition Pine and Eucalyptus Christmas candle available from John Lewis for £42.00

Big festive love,

This Surrey Mummy x


The Search For The "Perfect" High Chair....

So, anyone who knows me knows that I have a bit of an obsession, well bit is an understatement if I'm being truthful. Since I had my first born Charlie I developed a pretty severe obsession for a number of baby related items. In particular prams (at the peak I owned three) and high chairs (again at the peak of the obsession we could count no less than six that lived somewhere within our house).

There was something that always niggled me about either the pram or the high chair so I was always searching for another brand, another model to fill the gap that was missing. This gap to this day I'm not sure exactly what it was but there was a gap and it needed filling. 

Our first high chair was one from a German company called Hauck and it was ingenious. The Sit 'n' Relax (£150.00)was suitable from birth with a baby attachment that meant that baby was elevated from floor level which was ideal given we had Buddy, our dog and we were unsure how he would be with the baby. 

As Charlie got older I found him this high hair too bulky so sought something smaller, more streamline. I came across the Phil and Ted's Lobster Clip On High Chair (£65.00). These were fab and we still have and will no doubt use them with Hector as he gets older, but weren't really suitable in my opinion for everyday dining.

As Charlie got older we wanted to incorporate him into family dining more so sought after a high chair that would enable him to eat with us at the table. We lusted over the Stokke Trip Trapp (£175.00).

However, at the time and give this was my fourth high chair I couldn't justify splashing the cash so set about finding a cheaper alternative. Hauck had designed a similar high chair the Beta Plus (£89.99). 

I found a couple of second hand ones from eBay, one for our's and one for mum's. We used these for a good couple of years until I decided that for no particular reason I no longer wanted them so off to eBay they went! 

Next up was the IKEA Antilop High Chair. If you have kids you'll know the one I'm talking about. 

It's the one which is at EVERY play cafe and is so marvellous it leaves you wondering why an earth you purchased any other high chair before. It's easy to clean, it's easy to store and let's be fair it's darn right cheap at £15 all in including the tray. It's brilliant as they get older but not so ideal when they are starting out weaning as they have the tendency to wobble about a lot unless you've purchased the blow up cushion to go around their back.

When I was pregnant with Hector I thought I was gonna go for a high chair this time around that I had decided against last time purely because of cost. I loved the look of the high chair and Tom being obsessed with design he adored the design element of it. This high chair was the Bloom Fresco at an eye watering £370.00, but I wanted it!

To this day, Hector has spent many a happy hour lying back in it as it does like the Hauck have a lie back mode meaning it's suitable from birth, but the main flaw in my opinion is that the tray is too far away from the baby so he struggles to pick things off the tray and the circular base is huge! 

So, after morphing into the Goldilocks of the high chair world the search for my perfect high chair was to continue. 

A couple months ago my sister in law and I were in Bluewater getting a few last minute buys for her baby when she showed me the highchair she wanted to buy. It was from Baby Bjorn and was priced at £149.00. I gasped, "£149.00! It looks pretty much like the IKEA one, don't be so ridiculous" and off we went. Ironic really given I was happy to fork out for the Bloom! 

I happened to be chatting to someone about my search for the perfect highchair and they had said I must try this said Baby Bjorn one as its perfect for when they are little and could solve my whole hand to tray to mouth saga. I was then very kindly sent one from Baby Bjorn to try. Would it live up to the hype from my friends?? Would I finally find the perfect high chair?

The box arrived and when I opened it I loved the fact that there really wasn't any assembly needed. Like the IKEA you simply click four legs in to place. Simples. No help from Tom was needed - always a bonus!

The design is super slick and utterly white which always signifies cleanliness to me. A big tick in my eyes! 

I love the fact that there is no faffing about with straps, straps that ineveitabley get grimy and grotty harbouring dried and crusted on food with this you simply push and turn the dial underneath to free your little munchkin. Ta da! 

I love the fact that the Baby Bjorn high chair has really encompassed a number of products into one. It's a seat where a child can sit aided whilst they learn to sit, has the freedom to move safely without being inhibited with straps and a seat where when they are little their neck is supported whilst they learn to manage their muscles. I will warn you, it's not the tallest of high chairs and if it's in a big room it might look a bit mini but the size of it just seems to work. 

With Hector we are doing a mix of spoon fed and finger food and it's so frustrating that most of the food ends up in his lap because the tray is too far away for him to reach, but with the adjustable tray on the Baby Bjorn high chair this problem is a problem of the past! Hector is also one chunky monkey and I was worried that his tubby little belly wouldn't fit as he got older but it's been designed for children up to three years of age so it's a chair that will also grow with your child.

Another HUGE bonus and one of the reasons why most of my highchairs have ended up on eBay is the fact that they are so bulky, but this one bucks the trend at only 25cm wide when folded! Hurrah! 

So in summary, hats off to you Baby Bjorn another marvellous product. A sceptic at first despite I have fallen in love with this high chair. Like your bouncer, yes they are expensive but don't make mistake I've made by spending hundreds trying to find the perfect highchair just part with £149.00 and buy this one and I promise you you will not be disappointed! 

Big love,

This Surrey Mummy x

Disclaimer - Baby Bjorn kindly sent me the high chair for the purpose of this review, but the opinions expressed above are my own. 

Monday, 2 November 2015

Snoozing like a baby....

As a parent sleep has to be up there as one of the main drawbacks of being a parent, or rather lack of it!

Love this quote and the design of this print from Etsy

We struggled for three years with Charlie due to health problems but the one thing that we are very lucky to still have is the lunchtime nap. He's three and a half years old now and he's at school five full days a week so by the weekend it's not uncommon for him to get an hour to two hours nap during that time.

Second time around we were determined as parents to have a good routine with Hector. We followed Gina Ford's ("wtf" I hear you say, but seriously I LOVE this woman) routine from week two, and although it is more militant than the SAS in terms of feed times and sleep times we had a baby sleeping through from eight weeks (with the exception of every parents nightmare that is the four month sleep regression that thankfully only lasted three weeks!).

It's very difficult as at times my boring daily routine of being "allowed" out of the house between 9.45am - 11.50am and 2.30pm - 4.30pm does regularly get in the way of me having a normal life and doing normal things like going to the shops, the school run etc etc.

However, three years ago I came across a product by a local company called Snooze Shade who are just down the road in Walton Upon Thames. Back then there was only a limited number of products available to buy but I opted for the Original Snooze Shade priced at £19.99. This product was hopefully going to solve my issues of being allowed out of the house during the lunchtime nap whilst ensuring that I was still able to effectively "stay on track".

This ingenious little product was the best £19.99 I had spent.

Three years later I was delighted when I was asked to join Cara Sayer (founder of Snooze Shade) for a cuppa with my gorgeous baby blogger friends Emily from Blog Me Beautiful and Victoria from That's My Baby Blog to discuss where the business has gone since she launched.

Over numerous cuppas, biscuits and swapping parenting tips I mentioned that we were due to go on holiday soon but that I was nervous that the house we were staying at didn't have any black out blinds and that my precious baby sleep schedule was going to go down the swanny!

"Do you have a travel cot?" she asked.

"Yes" I replied.

"Well I have just the solution for you" as she handed me a Snooze Shade cot cover. The principal was the same as the buggy cover but except for the cot or travel cot.

Well, I am very happy to say that I LOVE this travel cot cover. It's really easy to place over the cot and we even managed to rig the baby video camera up underneath without it letting in extra light. It's lightweight and packs into a small and compact travel bag making it the ideal travel companion to keep your sleep on schedule!

The RRP starts at £54.99 upwards and is available via Amazon.

It might seem expensive on the face of it, but the quality of the product teamed with the fact that you can keep your sleep schedule on track and if that's as important to you as it is for me its well worth every penny!

This Surrey Mummy x

The Snooze Shade travel cot was given to me for the purpose of this review but all the opinions in the above article are my own.

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