Saturday, 31 March 2012

Ballet of sorts!

My perfect little ballerina (no nose picking that day!)

This week I was looking forward to Isla's ballet lesson, all the parents were finally allowed to see our children in their full ballet glory! I've been taking her for 5 weeks and she's told me that she really likes it, so I had high hopes....

We got into town and while walking through all the shoppers to get to the lesson she started singing 'Who Let the Dogs Out' at the top of her voice. I thought this was hilarious and obviously this egged her on to sing it some more. I must add that this isn't a song we sing a lot but when she was a baby, the first sounds she made were of the 'Oooh Oooh Oooh' variety which led me on to singing this to her and she used to giggle uncontrollably. So it's stuck.

We got to the lesson and I sat with one of the other mums who was also really looking forward to seeing her little girl perform. Now I'm not really sure what i was expecting, obviously not Swan Lake or the Nutcracker but what I got wasn't really what I had in mind!

The teacher started the lesson and Isla started off well, stayed in line, pointed her toe a bit and did some 'bend and stretch' but then it all went a bit wrong and my face changed from being enthralled with her brilliance to one that couldn't really believe what I was seeing, she soon started to walk around pulling her dress over her head and then spent a lot of time picking her nose!!! All the other girls were copying the teacher but I was watching a completely different performance! I was terrible! Trying to catch her eye, telling her not to pick her nose (trying to do this quietly so other mums couldn't see!), telling her to pull her dress down etc etc. Part of me wanted to laugh out loud but the other part of me so wanted her to be a natural, the best one there. Ridiculous isn't it? I was saying to the mum next to me "I don't know why she is doing this", trying to make it obvious that she doesn't do this all the time. She couldn't care less she was too busy filming her own little angel!

I don't want to be a pushy mum in any way shape or form, I just want her to have interests that she enjoys, however I couldn't see any evidence of her enjoying it as she was really just doing her own thing. It could be said that she's too young to take classes like this seriously but there were girls of her age and a bit younger and they were all doing it. Putting all the flashing and nose picking aside though I do love her free spirited nature, she loves singing and dancing and doing things in her own unique way. All I can say is that she certainly was unique that afternoon......................

The Land of Sometimes - Review

Before we got the chance to review The Land of Sometimes I'd seen a lot of bloggers on twitter extolling it's virtues and I was totally intrigued! As soon as we got it I was a bit worried that we'd not be able to get Justin Fletcher out of the disk drive in the car but as soon as I put this CD on the kids seemed to go into a trance in the back seats and they fell off to sleep! Obviously this is beneficial to me but it's not really them listening to it. So I kept putting it on and I found that although it still kept sending Noah to sleep (it's so hypnotic and calming!), it didn't always do the same for Isla, she started to REALLY listen to the story and understand some of the magical nature of it.

The album is a musical on a CD, it has a wonderful story running through it and a brilliant narrator telling the story interspersed with songs. So what's it about?
The Land of Sometimes is about a magical journey that twins Elize & Alfie take together. Four seasons pass in one day and as they pass through Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter they encounter many characters along the way who all have fantastic songs. Isla's favourites are the second song, 'Dare Make A Wish' - she calls this Alfie's Song and actually we have to listen to this one about 3 times before I have to butt in and say we're listening to the rest of the CD! After this she likes 'The Ditty of Little Twink' - a song about a naughty fairy who comes to your room and messes it up when you're asleep. My personal favourite is 'The Ballad of the River Slouch Sling' - when I listen to it I seem to have a picture of Keith Allen playing the part of this character - listen up all theatre directors if you make 'The Land of Sometimes' on the stage! The music is so diverse, some of it has a dreamy quality, other bits are disco and some bits are a bit spooky.
I love the fact that Isla is made to use her imagination with this CD, it's an audio book, something we hadn't tried with her before and it really works. She is gradually picking up the words to the songs as I hear her in the back singing along (so sweet!). I'm trying to get us through the whole CD in play list order but she does have a habit of requesting her favourites, so I try and persuade her that we should follow Alfie and Elize through the magical journey.

I love the CD sleeve, it's a book with gorgeous illustrations. I haven't actually let Isla loose with it yet though for a couple of reasons - I don't want it to get naffed up (!) and also I want her to make up her own pictures in her head of what the characters look like.

As a final positive, this CD does still send Noah into a deep sleep when we're in the car, so if you have a particularly niggly 8 month old baby who refuses a lunch time nap - get this beautiful CD, bung baby in the car and drive somewhere till baby sleeps, don't forget to take your flask of coffee and a magazine - actually scrap the last bit, just sit and listen to the story, it really is entertaining!

Go to for further information, bits and pieces for the kids and to purchase.

We were sent a copy of The Land of Sometimes free of charge in order to write this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Quorn! A Healthy, Tasty Alternative to Meat

With food prices rising every week (or so it feels!), I've recently looked to find ways to make meals a little bit more cheaply and I've found that with Quorn I can do this. Especially if I'm making a meal that would typically contain chicken. I'm also conscious that I need to serve healthy meals to my young family and again Quorn fits the bill for this. We're not vegetarian but we are conscious of not eating meat too many times a week and with vegetables still the enemy with Isla I've found that rather than make meals that are wholly made with vegetables I've gone down the route of making a meal with Quorn as it works so well for things like bolognese or cottage pie. Here's the Pasta Bolognese I recently made using Quorn, it really is hard to tell the difference.

For us busy mums it's also important that we don't have to learn new ways of cooking things and the beauty of Quorn is that it cooks in exactly the same way as you would cook it's meaty partner. And frozen Quorn products can be cooked straight from the freezer, meaning less forethought required to make your evening meal! It's also worth saying that Quorn don't only make 'mince' type products or 'chicken style' pieces. We also recently tried crispy coated Gruyere Cheese Escalopes which were delicious with a bit of salad and a baked potato. Unbelievably Quorn make over 100 different products.

Quorn is good for many reasons, and for the non-vegetarian it is a way of making meals healthier as fat content is dramatically less than meat. It's a great source of cholesterol-free protein. I did always wonder what Quorn was and a quick look on the Quorn site tells me that the main constituent of Quorn, Mycoprotein, is a naturally occurring, high quality, healthy form of protein. Quorn is produced using a fermentation process very similar to brewing; only they harvest the solid as opposed to the liquid.

Why not check out the Quorn website and have a go at making the recipes there using Quorn? Quorn is a great meat substitute and I challenge you to find a meal that can't be 'Quornified'! You could also 'Like' the Quorn Facebook Page and upload photos of your Quorn dishes. Go on, give it a try, you can't knock it till you've tried it!

This is a sponsored post, but I have written honestly about my Quorn experience!

Monday, 26 March 2012

A Tribute to Big Sheepy

This week an awful thing happened, Isla's companion since she was 9 months old got lost. Big Sheepy has been a part of our lives (read that as the BAIN of our lives!) since we bought him for her at Bocketts Farm. It became obvious by the time she was 1 that this sheep was her favourite soft toy and at that point I thought I've got to try and get another one of these, just in case. Well, it's not that easy and my attempt to get a second Sheepy failed. So we were careful. On one occasion I thought we'd left him in a shop in town. After running round all the shops we'd been too that morning, I thought we'd lost him, but then on returning to the supermarket carpark, there he was still in the trolley. I breathed a sigh of relief and vowed to be more careful! Well somehow the unthinkable has happened and he's vanished. It's useless asking Isla where he might be as she just says 'In the car?' or 'In the garden?'. She doesn't know. Weirdly I think I've actually been more upset than her and that's because a few months back she got given another sheep and this one got named 'Baby Sheepy' - original these names aren't they!! So here is my tribute to Big Sheepy, towards the end, he only had one eye and his neck was void of stuffing, he wasn't the fluffy white sheep he once was but Isla loved him!

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

The Gallery - Colour

I'm loving Instagram at the moment with all the different filters. Obviously I have used a filter on this photo but the reason I took it was that as I was sitting there, it struck me how colourful Noah looked and also all his surroundings too! I love dressing him in bright colours. This was at Baby Sensory, a class that we only started about 8 weeks ago and sadly we'll only have another 2 weeks left as I'm back to work soon. Noah absolutely loves it and so do I. It's special time that we share together and every week has a theme. My favourite so far has to be the Valentine week. We danced together with a disco ball spinning in the background. It's actually making my cry thinking of this. I know I could do this on my own in my own living room but I love that Baby Sensory gives me ideas of things to do with Noah and it has such lovely songs. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy and at the end of it all the babies are usually ready for a big lunchtime nap because they've had such fun! So that's my entry in The Gallery this week. If you want to enjoy any of the other posts then click the badge below.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Noah at 8 Months; Separation Anxiety, A Tooth & Crawling!

A lot has happened in the last week....

We've had a lot of crying. Separation anxiety is at it's height! And lucky old me, it's only me that he wants. I blogged last year about Isla being a Daddy's girl and my OH reminded me recently that I did say that I wanted a Mummy's boy. Well, I'm not saying that I'd like to retract that but let's just say it's getting a bit too much. I can't even step more than a foot away from the boy without howls of distress. It's like a siren and it gets louder and louder. I'm pretty sure that Isla did a little bit of this, but definitely not to this extent.

We did an experiment a couple of times, just to check if there was actually anything wrong with him. It went like this. I'm in the room, right next to him, Noah is all calm and collected. I move away from him. Howling commences. I must add that he can still see me, I haven't gone anywhere far! The OH picks him up, this is still not good enough. He is sobbing, uncontrollably, snot pouring from his nostrils. I come back into the acceptable distance I'm allowed away from him (an inch) and he visibly calms a bit, but still howls. I take him from the OH and all crying ends and almost a jubilant look can be detected as he snuggles up to me as if to say, 'YES! I got what I wanted in the end!'.

It's draining and has gone on my pro's list for going back to work (another post in progress to address that!). I hope he stops it soon and I get my happy contented boy back, however I also think it is linked to the appearance of a tooth. At last. I really hoped that we'd have a few teeth done and dusted by now, so that on my return to work I only had about another 12 teeth to arrive and sleepless nights would be fewer. But no, he's decided to follow in his sister's footsteps and get his first one at 8 months like her. I don't have to worry about him needing them for eating though. He's storming through solids, with even the nursery admitting to me last week that they forgot to puree his food and he was eating rather large sized pieces of pasta for lunch! Go Noah!

Another milestone we ticked off the list this week is crawling. Now this is a double edged sword. Brilliant because it's a step towards me not having to carry around a 25lb baby everywhere I go (yes, he really is that heavy!) but not brilliant because he'll be getting into EVERYTHING! Ashamedly, this another one of my pro's for going back to work....someone else will deal with this while I'm at the office! Seriously though I do love it. I love seeing him grow and it does feel that between 6 months and 8 months a lot has happened. He's no longer a sicky baby, we don't have to change our clothes (mine too!) a million times due to reflux. He's also full of personality now. I love the interaction between him and Isla (well not all of it), he's always watching her and checking out what she's doing and she has become more interested in him too. However I do think I need to get Isla's hair cut a bit shorter as he is forever making a grab for it which results in lots of tears. The funny thing is that while she is crying her eyes out, he is laughing like Nan (you know the Catherine Tate character?), really cackling.

He is the hungriest baby ever still. I am slightly worried by the fact that most nights he has a late feed and then will still quite often wake in the night for milk too. I wondered if this was a habit but to be honest I don't think I could persuade him not to have milk if I tried as he goes completely mad until he gets it. I pity the neighbours, because he ROARS, although they swear that they never hear him. I know all babies are different and there can't possibly be a hard fast rule on how much food they should eat at each meal, but I do find it hard to judge how much I should be serving up to him when weaning and the very fact he wakes in the night for milk could mean I'm not giving him enough solids I guess? Any feedback on that welcome!

As I mentioned before I'm due back to work soon and the closer it gets the more it actually breaks my heart, he's really made this family complete and I couldn't imagine life without him. So on that note I'll sign off. More on my big baby's progress soon.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Friday, 16 March 2012

Cadbury Easter Egg Trails at a National Trust Property Near You!

Last Spring we went with friends for our first National Trust Easter Egg trail at Polesdon Lacey. The events are sponsored by Cadbury and they really are such a great family fun day out! Last year I was pregnant with Noah, and Isla was just about old enough to appreciate the trail, and she was definitely old enough to appreciate CHOCOLATE! Our friends brought their little boy Samuel along and they were also expecting their second baby. Isla and Samuel are good buddies and they had a lot of fun that day. We went on the Easter Egg Trail which involved going on a walk through the beautiful grounds of Polesdon and following clues, answering questions and completing challenges to earn a delicious Cadbury's Easter Egg! The weather that day was beautiful and lots of families were also enjoying the day surrounded by the gorgeous Surrey countryside and many made a base for themselves in the grounds and spent the day there picnikking and relaxing.

So this year when I was invited to a warm up event for the Easter Egg trails at Morden Hall Park I had to go as I knew that it would be good fun and so I invited my friend and Samuel along too. When we got there we got to have some lovely food and delicious cakes from Hummingbird Bakery - YUM! Once we'd had lunch we went out and let the kids loose on the Easter games and on a chocolate egg trail - Isla was like a sniffer dog for chocolate! There were 'egg-shies' - coconut shies but with eggs, giant snakes and ladders, space hoppers, hoopla and football.

The kids had great fun, Samuel loved scoring goals and Isla clung on to her basket of chocolate eggs for dear life. We came away from the event absolutely certain that we definitely want to go on the Easter Egg trail again this year as we could see that the kids would be even more into all the entertainment that is put on for them.

Cadbury Easter Egg Trails run over Easter weekend (6th - 9th April) at 245 National Trust places throughout England, Wales & Northern Ireland. To join in the fun, simply visit where you can find your nearest Cadbury and National Trust Easter Egg trail event and details of how to participate, along with how to make the most of the Easter weekend at home.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Ella's Kitchen & Terracycle

Last year I blogged about Johnson's Baby Wipes teaming up with Terracyle to upcycle their packaging and Wipe Out Waste. As soon as I found out about it I started doing it immediately as I like to try and do my bit for the environment. I noticed at the time that Ella's Kitchen also recycled their packaging with Terracycle but as I didn't have a baby at that point it wasn't relevant to me. However now we've begun weaning Noah we've started collecting the Ella's Kitchen pouches to send to Terracycle. Apart from reusing the packaging (to make into bibs, pencil cases for example), for every packet you send to Terracyle they will donate 2p to a charity of your choice. 

It really is so easy to do:

- Go to  and register with Terracycle
- Sign up to the Ella's Kitchen Brigade
- Enter the charity you would like Terracycle to credit
- You will get sent a pre-paid postage label to use to send off your empty packs of Baby Food Pouches.

It's also worth noting that they will accept any baby food pouches, not just Ella's Kitchen. I was lucky enough to be sent one of these great lunch tote bags when I signed up to be an Ella's Kitchen Friend 

Lovely isn't it! This is such a great initiative, so don't waste your waste, send it to Terracycle!

Treat yourself this Mother’s Day with a little help from Boots Parenting Club

If you’re a mum to a newborn or toddler, it may be a little while before your child gives you handmade cards, flowers or chocolates on Mother’s Day. However, if you’ve been clocking up points on your Boots Advantage Card by buying baby essentials you could have enough to treat yourself – after all, you’ve earned it!
The Boots Parenting Club members can benefit from 10 Boots Advantage Card points for every £1 spent on baby products and these can soon add up, for example:
By the time your toddler starts potty training you are likely to have changed their nappies over 5000 times.This means you’re likely to have spent over £650 on nappies alone before they’re fully potty trained. That money spent on essentials can translate into some wonderful me-time treats such as a gorgeous new perfume, a fabulous face cream or some indulgent bathing goodies. not try Sanctuary Pampering Vanity Case, £6.00 you will love this stylish bag packed full of Sanctuary Spa favourites, to cleanse, exfoliate and moisturise. The Sanctuary Pampering Vanity Case includes:Foaming Bath Soak, Body Wash, Body Lotion and Body Scrub.$ProductPage$This No7 Protect & Perfect Intense Body Serum, 200ml, £27.00 is the ultimate luxury and will help you achieve softer and brighter skin in an instant. It’s even independently proven to reveal younger looking, firmer, smoother and more radiant skin in just 4 weeks!

About Boots Parenting Club
Being a parent is quite an adventure and Boots Parenting Club is here to support you every step of the way, from the moment you get that positive result on your pregnancy test to your baby’s second birthday.
Benefits you receive as a Parenting Club member:
· 10 points for every £1 spent on baby products within the baby area at Boots*
· Receive regular glossy magazines if you continue to regularly buy baby products at Boots
· 24/7 access to information online including a parenting community
· A chance to receive fabulous free gifts if you continue to regularly buy baby products at Boots
· Handy email updates with information and advice tailored to your stage of pregnancy or baby’s age plus the latest Boots news and special offers
Whatever your plans are this Mothers Day, remember Boots can help you to treat yourself or Baby, after all you’ve deserved it.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Nick Jr. Climbs Aboard The Dinosaur Train

Tomorrow, 12th March, 2012 - Dinosaur Train from The Jim Henson Company arrives on the Nick Jr. channel!

DinosaurTrain, is set in a whimsically realistic, prehistoric world of jungles, swamps, active volcanoes and oceans. The show stars Buddy, a curious, funny and intelligent T-Rex, in a family of Pteranodons, who is cautious, but always ready to jump into action and start asking questions about the world around him.

In each episode, while on the Dinosaur Train, Buddy makes a hypothesis and begins searching for the answers to his queries with the help of his mum, the Conductor and the new dinosaurs that he meets on the train. When Buddy isn’t taking exciting trips on the Dinosaur Train, he is plays with his siblings, Don, Tiny, and Shiny and anticipates their next adventure.

Dinosaur Train will help children ages three to six to apply scientific thinking as they discover new types of dinosaur species, compare and contrast dinosaurs to today's creatures and embrace the living sciences of paleontology and natural science. Each 22 minute show features two animated episodes. Based on input from paleontologists, science teachers and early childhood education experts, Dinosaur Train promotes critical thinking skills for preschoolers based on an engaging and creative curriculum.

Isla has been lucky enough to get a preview of the first two episodes and it has gone down a hit! She watched both episodes 3 times in one day and she has really warmed to the characters. It seems to be a perfect programme for preschoolers. One of the episodes we watched was all about team work and that's one thing that we've been encouraging a lot lately as Isla gets used to having her baby brother. I'm glad Dinosaur Train starts tomorrow, then we won't have to keep watching the same two shows over again!!

Silent Sunday

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Spinach & Feta Filo Tart - Recipe

I recently blogged about the Tesco Cooking With Kids Event and promised that I would give the recipes to the dishes we made that day, so here is the first!

Spinach & Feta Filo Tart

2 Onions, diced
2 Cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
Knob of Butter
500g of Spinach, washed and roughly chopped
200g of crumbled Feta
Pinch of grated nutmeg
2 eggs beaten
4 large sheets of Filo Pastry

Heat the oven to 200 degrees/ Gas Mark 6

1. Fry off the diced onion till its nice and soft and golden. Add garlic and cook for a couple more minutes. Add spinach and cook till wilted
2. Cool and then tip into a bowl. Mix in the nutmeg, feta, eggs and seasoning
3. Grease a tin/ dish with butter (tin about 20 - 22cm in size) and then start layering the filo pastry in, brushing each layer with melted butter and leaving the excess to hang over the edge of the tin.
4. Once you've finished layering the filo pastry, tip in your filling and then fold the filo pastry in over the filling to cover it.
5. Brush melted butter over the top of the tart and then pop in the oven for 20 - 30 mins (until filo looking crisp and golden on top)
6. Let tart cool slightly and then EAT!!!

Tesco Real Food are encouraging anyone to upload their own recipes to the Real Food site and if you submit a Cooking with Kids recipe it at the moment you are in with a chance to win a cooking weekend at Augill Castle - it looks absolutely divine! I'm sure you've all got a recipe in you that could stand you a chance of winning such a fantastic prize.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Isla, my fashion conscious toddler

In the past couple of months Isla has become very assertive when it comes to what she wants to wear. I say fashion conscious, but that's not really it as what she decides to wear isn't really Spring/ Summer 2012 or anything, it's just that she knows what she likes and what she doesn't like!

Initially it was all rooted in wearing everything with Peppa Pig on it. I found that she was wearing clothes with cartoon characters on all the time and it drove me a little crazy. Grandparents would buy her Peppa clothing and she loved it! I do love all that kind of thing but I also wanted her to wear other non branded clothing. So, the purchases of Peppa clothing slowed down a bit until I made a trip to Asda with Isla before Christmas. We were taking a look at the clothes when she spotted a pink stripey Peppa Pig dress. Now, I really didn't like it but I got the impression that things were going to be a bit tricky in the supermarket if I didn't get her that dress and when they're priced so cheaply it was no sweat to buy it for her.  Here is the offending item....

This dress has now become her favourite item of clothing and she teams it up with some (non-matching) pink leggings and stripey socks. She LOVES it. The only way we can get away with her not wearing it is to say it's in the wash!
Having said that she likes all things Peppa, she will not wear this particular Peppa top that I bought for her from Tesco.

I really liked it as it wasn't the typical pink, girly style, it's purple and blue and in my eyes a bit more funky. Can I get her to wear it? NO. I even give her a choice now in the mornings and every now and then I get this top out along with another more plain one and she always says "I'll wear that one later" to the Peppa Pig top! When she says she'll do anything later it basically means NEVER.
Then at Christmas time Isla got an outfit bought for her by her great aunt, some jeans and a top. The top was navy blue with a pink pattern on. One morning I got the outfit from the draw and went to put it on her. I got the jeans on but when I went to put the top over her head, she flatly refused to wear it. I tried again a few days later and again she really wouldn't wear it. Luckily I hadn't taken the tags off and I decided that there was no point in forcing her to wear something she didn't like and I took it back to the shop for something else.

To me this all seems a bit early for her to have such opinions on what she wears. A couple of weeks ago she had her first ballet lesson and afterwards I promised her i would get her a net ballet style skirt. I'd already seen one in Next and so we headed there. She proceeded to lead me all round the store pointing out what she liked and refusing a lot of what I was pointing out! We also came away with the headband she is wearing in the pictures above.

I love it and I'm finding her new found girliness and desire for dresses really sweet as up until now I've not really dressed her like that. She's been more like a mini me - wearing jeans and tops and nearly always trainers. I'm looking forward to summer and her wearing all sorts of pretty stuff!

Is your toddler as assertive about what they want to wear? Does it differ between boys and girls? Do you tend to dress your little one like a mini you? I'd love to know your thoughts.

Justin Fletcher - Hands Up - The Album Review

At the end of last year I blogged about Justin Fletcher's new single Hands Up We've been listening to his album in the car ever since and I can tell you that there is rarely a journey that goes by without a request to put it on. Isla's favourite song has to be 'The Hokey Cokey', she knows it word for word!! We actually have to bypass the first song and just go straight to that one because she loves it so much. If I'm ever in the car with Noah without Isla I often think I'll listen to some of my music, however he has other ideas. He's become so used to hearing it that he actually makes really grumpy noises until I put Justin on!! So there you have it, Justin appeals to 2 year old girls and 7 month old boys.

Apart from The Hokey Cokey, the album also lists the title song 'Hands Up' and a few other kids party faves including: Heads, Shoulders Knees and Toes (great for a bit of a work out!), Oh I Do Like to be Beside the Seaside, If You're Happy & You Know It. My favourites have to be the 3 songs at the end of the album as they are nice and gentle and usually if we've been in the car listening to it  for that long, they've fallen asleep to Frere Jacques!
I mentioned getting a bit of work out while listening to the album, well celebrity personal trainer, Steven Teasedale has danced the entire album with his 3 year old girl and the news is that this could burn around 350 calories! So if you're having a tough day with the kids, stick this album on, have fun with them and once they're in bed you've definitely earned that small glass of wine and a few kettle chips!

Anyhow, get your copy NOW, available from all good stockists including Sainsbury's & Amazon

Thursday, 1 March 2012

The Joys and Perils of Buying stuff Second Hand

I've always been a fan of buying second hand and I'm also regularly finding things around our house that we no longer need to sell on eBay. I've bagged many a bargain on eBay but I've also come a cropper a couple of times.

The good:

My best purchase on eBay was this Dutailer nursing chair. It was listed on eBay with a starting price of £80. Now there's something about a listing that starts high to put people off bidding and that's exactly what happened in this case. I was watching its progress and in the morning after the listing finished I saw it was unsold, so I contacted the seller to find out if she would be prepared to sell the chair for a flat £80 and she said yes. As she was local I was able to collect. It's worth saying that this chair was immaculate and it became a godsend. I initially bought it to help me be more comfortable when breast feeding Isla. It was comfortable but it never ceased to be when I changed feeding method. I spent many a bad night sitting in that chair while Isla was teething or feeling poorly. All her bedtime stories were read to her in it and now the same goes for Noah. This chair really was a great find and I now feel quite sentimental about it as it holds lots of memories. This purchase was a WIN!

Another good purchase was an Ikea table and chairs, £16 for all 3 items. WIN!

I purchased two items last year which on getting them home I had to re-contact the seller about my disappointment. They are now good purchases but they wouldn't have been had I not have braved it and told the seller I didn't think their descriptions were fair. The first was a Little Tikes slide, described as in excellent condition and not faded by the weather. I bought it for £80 and new it would have cost £125. My husband collected it and on getting it home I looked at it and was really disappointed. It wasn't excellent condition and it most definitely was faded and weather worn - it would be a bit weird if it wasn't being an outside toy. So I contacted the seller and told her that realistically to me it was not worth any more than £50. She  apologised, agreed and refunded me £30. WIN.

The other item was a Bumbo, again described as in excellent condition but on closer inspection at home, the foam was cracked. Again I recontacted the seller and got half my money back. A WIN of sorts. I say that because I really don't get the fuss about Bumbo seats. We borrowed one first time round and Isla hardly used it - the same happened this time round after we bought this one with Noah. They really have the shortest shelf life of any baby product we've ever bought.

The bad:

The downside of buying second hand is that sometimes the items aren't in good condition but you end up with them anyway. One of my worst purchases was a Chicco Walker I bought from an ad on Gumtree. It was advertised in good condition and was only £5. I thought I couldn't go wrong. I collected it and when I walked out of the flat I knew I shouldn't have handed over the money but I kept walking. I didn't have the guts to say no. The walker was filthy, the material of the seat was disgusting. I put it in the boot of the car and within about 5 minutes the entire car stank. Needless to say on getting it home it went in a bin bag and was taken to the dump, there was no way it could be revived.

My tip is to always check on eBay or the free ads (Gumtree/ Preloved) before buying something brand new for the kids. Most toys and play equipment for the under 1's gets used for about 3 months max. A friend of mine bought an immaculate stand up activity station for £1 on eBay for her twins. £1! It was £80 new. As it was she handed over a fiver as she was too embarrassed to give a quid, you would though wouldn't you!

However one thing beats buying second hand and that is getting a complete freebie! I was looking out for a playhouse for Isla last summer and my sister told me a friend of hers wanted rid of a Little Tikes one that was in his garden as he was moving house. It was a bit weather worn but it scrubbed up well and Isla has had the best time playing in it and I'm sure she will again this summer. It always pays to mention to people if you're on the look out for something as someone may just point you in the right direction!