When my eldest was finally able to be pushed really high on the swings, and let out high pitched screams of joy that I was sure were secret communication between him and local dogs/practice for communicating with dolphins, he was still having two mega naps a day, and I was heavily pregnant. We were limited to a short lunchtime dash between naps. When I had the two of them, with very conflicting nap schedules, we spent even more rushed moments when they were both actually awake, going outside! Having come from a job where I spent a lot of time outside, there were quite a lot of wistful, staring at the four walls times during this period!

I’m sure you can guess from my previous posts, that the deep thinking, tentative eldest, generally favoured slightly more genteel outdoor adventures like sand and water tables tables-swings were sometimes as adventurous as he got. And again, as you all know, the assassin child didn’t get his name for nothing…! He was using me as human climbing equipment and making as many freedom rolls as possible, before he could even walk!

outdoor play

And then we arrived at what I call the Golden Era. An era where they had co-ordinated naps (I co-ordinated mine with theirs, obviously!) and the rest of the day, we were freeeeeeeeee!!! Although I’ve mainly moaned ruminated about how hard each stage of parenting has been-I really do miss this particular time. The mornings being free, and getting a rest in the afternoon, is probably the dream combination, right?! Even at that stage, soft play was ok for the boys (and I seriously disliked it,) but going to the park was always, and still is, where it’s at.

children on swings, outdoor play

We have what we call the ‘secret park’ around the corner from us-so named because we didn’t even know it was there when we moved in, and it’s always so quiet! It’s surely one of Bristol’s best kept secrets. Although it does have what I once overheard one parent call ‘the bridge of death,’ a very high bridge with gaping gaps either side, and between each step…! It wasn’t until, yep, it was bound to happen-the youngest ‘run before you can walk’ child had climbed onto it, got half way before I realised he was no longer rolling safely in the mud, and fallen inevitably by the Law Of Sod through one of the gaps, that I fully appreciated playground surfaces too… After he’d bounced and rolled a few times, then pulled himself up guffawing, ready to go again, one of the other parents gave me an in depth explanation about the flooring is specially designed to do that, to break his fall. This, I admit, is something I’d never even paid attention to before. I’m now eternally grateful for it every time he falls from something he’s way too young, but far too adventurous not to be climbing.

outdoor play

Even the deciding factor in the eldest’s school, was the sheer volume of amazing wooden climbing frames in the extensive outdoor space. We were lucky that our other two choices we loved just as much, and they had a gorgeous literally ‘old school’ Victorian charm, but very little outdoor play space. Plus when the head teacher said that the school liked to put much more of an emphasis on playing in the primary years, and learning through outdoor play especially for reception and year one children, that was even more of a reason to choose it.

It can be hard to get the little one passed the school play equipment every day (I think I get the email ‘can we just remind you that siblings ARE NOT TO PLAY ON THE OUTDOOR EQUIPMENT!’ more than everyone else!) It’s like putting him in a bath of chocolate and telling him he can’t touch it, twice a day at pick up and drop off! But he’s looking forward to starting school next year, just for the play equipment alone!

outdoor play

Don’t get me wrong, I can still be a bit meh about it. I can be too cold, too tired, and feel a little Groundhoggish about going to the same places, and doing the same things on repeat. But we do have some amazing park memories, and days where the children have been to the park and played well for hours, have just been the easiest days-they are so much happier for it. Also, research carried out by ESP Play found that:

“With over 1,000 children being referred to hospital as a result of obesity, and 1 in 3 children between the ages of 2 and 10 being overweight, these figures are truly alarming.”

Me and my husband enjoy, and are still trying to improve upon, our healthy lifestyles, and we want to instil that into the children too. And while their diet is still a work in progress, at least I can ease my guilt, and at least hold onto the fact that they run wild and free in the park, as often as they need, even if I’m sometimes in need of just a trashy magazine and a sit down…! Being outside means they are happier, and then we all have a happier family dynamic-a win, in a sometimes very winless life!

*This is a collaborative post.

still from short comedy film

Yes I have! I wrote a short film, and have since been donning my finest eye patch, and dancing around my living room, channelling my finest inner Gabrielle circa 1993, singing ‘Dreams Can Come True.’ Yes. I’m proud…!

I was contacted by the producers of Masked Pony Productions about a year ago, to see if I’d write this for them, as part of their ‘Mum’ based comedy series. It has now been filmed, edited, given sound (and all the technical terms I don’t really understand!) and is here! It’s based on my blog posts (so actually all terrible things that have happened to me since I became a parent…!) and Katy Poulter, who plays ‘me’ has it right down…!

Have a gander, it contains all the things you’d probably expect from me-extreme calpol inhalation, incontinence, and postnatal belly references!

You can follow Masked Pony Productions on Twitter and Facebook and Youtube!

 

 

red wine bottles

Buying wine online – the consumers’ choice awards!
Following on from my opinions a couple of weeks ago, about not being a wine o’ clock cliché, I have been pondering how much wine purchasing actually goes on online now, especially compared to BC (before children…!) BC, dropping into a supermarket or wine shop on the way home from work, in the middle of the day on a lazy weekend, actually, pretty much any time you fancied-was easy breezy. Now, not so much…! To keep stocked up to your needs, and for price comparison purposes, it’s a fairly safe bet that more of us take advantage of online competition to buy at least some of our wines via the internet.

Where do you purchase your wines and what prompts your decision to buy from a particular online retailer? Customer service, range, value for money? Which retailer scores best on average in all categories? If wine is important to your lifestyle, then you are probably likely to go all Compare The Meerkat over getting the right stuff, for the best price!

Some people, somewhere, set out to answer what prompts us to click ‘buy!!!!,’ when choosing the glorious grape nectar, with some interesting results… *stay tuned.*

True reflection

The results of the first ever Winesdirect.com awards are in – and the one thing that can be said is that it’s an eclectic choice! Views are coming straight from online purchasers themselves- so it’s a true reflection of the quality and service they’ve found outstanding in 2017.

Of the 1200 purchasers responding to the winesdirect.com survey, unsurprisingly a large number had shopped online from the big retailers Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Majestic Wine and M&S Wine. Almost a third of respondents had shopped online for wine from Tesco in the last year, for instance.

Waitrose Cellar, Laithwaite’s and Morrisons attracted a smaller percentage of online purchases than the leading five, whilst between just 6 to 10 per cent of respondents had shopped online with the social media savvy, customer-sponsored Naked Wines, online supermarket Ocado, Aldi or Virgin Wines.

Value for money

However, number of purchases per company certainly did not reflect overall value for money when it came to the awards, with Aldi securely taking the gold medal in that category and Asda awarded silver. Laithwaite’s and M&S Wine maintained their long-established reputation for quality in customer service, taking gold and silver awards respectively in that category.

For wine range, the clear choice was Waitrose Cellar in first place and Laithwaite’s picking up a silver to add to their gold.

grapes

Taking cue from Naked Wine “angels”

Naked Wine keeps its finger on the pulse of consumer tastes through its unique approach to customer engagement. There’s currently a waiting list to be a Naked Wine Angel (someone who invests a certain amount of money into the Naked Wine company per month, to go towards independent wine makers, in return for vouchers and discounts.) It appears that the company’s speedy and reliable delivery is a major part of being a satisfied customer, since Naked Wine took gold in the delivery category, with Ocado running up for silver.

Overall, though, wine purchasers overwhelmingly chose the well-established Majestic Wine as their online retailer of 2017. After forty years in business, it’s clear that the company has developed the skills required to meet the needs of the consumer and stay ahead in the very demanding and competitive marketplace of 2017.

The picture that emerges is one of preference for specialist wine sellers in terms of range, customer service and delivery, whilst major online retailers take the lead in value for money.

Choice changes?

Do the awards accurately reflect your experience of the online retailers when buying the post bedtime treats? For bulk buying, I have always used Majestic, and if I ever brave my local Waitrose, with all of it’s elders ready to huff and puff over my pushchair and feral children, I agree that they have a brilliant range. Going out to peruse wines, is definitely a treat. But in todays digital, time constricted age, buying online is easier, and knowing what others have found to be the best options, makes the decision a lot easier. I wonder how the online wine buying market will look in 2018!

 

*This is a collaborative post.