Reviews

Sitting Well on the Sofa

I have a love-hate relationship with my sofa. I love sitting down and resting, but then my back hurts if I sit for more than a few minutes. I've struggled with back pain for years, and my sofa is just too soft. Talk about first world problems, I know. But mama needs to rest. Those kids run me ragged. A few weeks ago, I got a fab new cushion from Sittingwell, so I thought I would tell you all about it.

You would imagine all cushions are the same. But not so. The Sittingwell Cushion is made for those of us who suffer from back pain. One side is soft, like a regular cushion. And the other side is harder. This gives your back proper support. Which means that you can get comfy and sit on the sofa for hours without being in pain.

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A Place To Write

I've been blogging for three years now, and until a couple of weeks ago I didn't have a proper place to write. We have a desk in the guest room, but as we've only renovated our ground floor, I don't like to be upstairs for too long (rest-of-house renovations should be happening in the next few months!!). So I have been writing on my laptop - on the sofa or at the dining table, which often isn't that comfortable. And obviously it isn't great, ergonomically-speaking. So I was beyond excited when my new desk arrived from Kit Out My Office.

First, I shuffled the living room around (I do this a few times a year anyway, to Husband's dismay) to make room for the desk. Then I kindly left the box that the desk arrived in for Husband to find. I am such a considerate wife, I know. Anyway, Husband put the desk together quite easily and I had an office space in less than an hour.

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Family Photos Without The Fuss

Remember in the 1970s/1980s when families would get their photos taken in a studio, perhaps with everyone in a matching outfit? Well, gone are those days. Thankfully. Nowadays, people want natural photos of their families. And what's more, we don't want to pay £200 for a two-hour session and then another £200 on top on that for photos. And that's where Splento comes in.

Splento refer to themselves as 'Uber for photographers', and it is easy to see why. If you go to their website, all you need to do is enter the date and time that you would like for your photo shoot, and your post code. After consulting my husband's family for a date and time, I chose Cannizaro Park in Wimbledon as our location. It is a beautiful park that is easy to walk around, and there are lots of lovely spots seemingly made for Instagram.

Our photographer, Bogdan Maran, was prompt, professional and friendly. He managed to put everyone at ease (six adults and three children). When my niece was feeling a bit nervous, he got his Polaroid camera out and all three kids enjoyed posing and then getting to see their photos (after some of that traditional Polaroid picture shaking). We got a great mixture of natural and posed photographs on the day. I am annoyed with myself that I didn't get any photos of just me with Husband and our two children. In the future, I will note what photos I want to be taken.

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Chessington Safari Hotel

If you live in London or Surrey, you will have heard of Chessington World of Adventures. It is a fab theme park that also has a zoo, aquarium and petting zoo. Last year we went for Howloween, their cool Halloween celebrations during the October half-term. As part of our visit, we spent the night at the Chessington Safari Hotel.

We wouldn't normally think to spend the night at a Chessington hotel (the park has two adjacent hotels: Safari and Azteca), as it is only a 20-25 minute drive away from our house. But as we were offered a room for our review of the theme park, we thought it would be a great idea to check out the amenities. My children love staying in hotels, but a hotel that is decorated in a spooky fashion is even more exciting. They also loved that they had a little nook for their beds AND A TV. Husband and I enjoyed our comfy double bed and the complimentary WI-FI.

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These Boots Were Made For Walking

Do you know those women who always wear pretty heels and generally look quite elegant yet cool? Well, I'm not one of those women. I'm the practical one wearing trainers/sneakers. Recently I've started going for regular walks in Richmond Park with various mum friends. Sometimes this results in wet toes. Trainers aren't that great for muddy walks. So I've been wanting to get some Goretex boots for ages. And last week I finally got some.

Along with some other bloggers, I was invited to an event at Hotter Shoes in Guildford last week. Not only did we get to find out about the history of Hotter, we got to go crazy trying on lots of boots. Hotter was founded in 1959 making slippers. These proved so popular that they started making an array of comfortable shoes and boots, and now there are currently 70 stores in the UK. And all the shoes made for Hotter, are made in their factory in Lancashire. That's right, their factory is based in the UK. I became a fan of Hotter shoes last year and was already the owner of two sandals, one trainer and one heeled party shoe, but no boots. Not until last week.

Most of the bloggers were trying on cute heeled boots, and of course Mrs Practical here was looking for boots that would enable me to walk for miles in comfort (and stay dry). The problem was that there were so many comfortable boots - even the ones with heels. But then I found some Gore-tex beauties and I knew that I had to get them. They didn't have the Orla boots in black, in my size, so the store ordered them for me (with free delivery!) and they arrived at my house four days later.

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Mrs Armitage and the Big Wave LIVE

Who doesn't love Quentin Blake? Besides his gorgeous illustrations for Roald Dahl books, he has written and illustrated a fair number of books. And one of his books, Mrs Armitage and the Big Wave, has now been made into a fun family show. If you're not familiar with the Mrs Armitage books, she has a few adventures - on the road and on wheels. And her ordinary but extraordinary adventure surfing a big wave does not disappoint.

We went to see Mrs Armitage and the Big Wave at Watermans arts centre in Brentford. It is such a lovely venue, with a restaurant, cinema and theatre, and parking. The play consisted of two actresses who took on the roles, along with a screen as the background. The show is recommended for children up to eight years old. My four-year old and eight-year old both loved it. Moozles and Dubz thoroughly enjoyed the 60-minute show. Not only was it entertaining but it sparked their imaginations.

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Mummy Makeover with Regatta

I live in dresses and leggings. And even though I have many outdoor adventures, I am not dressed like I am about to go creeping through tall grass or stomping in the mud. In September, Regatta invited me (and three other mummy bloggers) to a style masterclass with Vogue Williams. Vogue is a model and TV personality, and is the new face of the Regatta AW16 Heritage collection. Vogue and Regatta helped me find a sportier look for my weekends.

Regatta considers me to be a 'Weekend Explorer' because my family and I spend our weekends walking and discovering new areas. I like my clothes to be practical and warm. This is all true, but I never seem to be dressed appropriately for our walks. I normally wear my trainers which always leave me with wet toes. And my winter coat is made of wool rather than a fabric that will keep me dry.

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American Dining at Ed's Easy Diner

Did I ever mention that my family and I love an American diner? Many years ago, when I first moved to the UK, I would drag Husband around London looking for acceptable American fare. I needed to know where I could get burgers, milkshakes and pancakes if I had an urgent craving. Fourteen years ago, there were only a handful of places to get American-style food. Nowadays, they are everywhere. There are now more American restaurants and diners in London than I have fingers and toes. One place we have frequented a few times is Ed's Easy Diner.

If you're not familiar with Ed's, it is a chain of 1950s-style American diners. They have booths, as well as  tables, cute jukeboxes and  My family and I last went about five months ago. My son has recently become obsessed with cheeseburgers, and we're all fans, so it makes life easier to eat at restaurants where they serve cheeseburgers. Recently, the people from Ed's invited us for a family meal to check out their new junior menu.

Dining out with kids is made so much easier with a great children's menu. Ed's Junior Bites is made for kids 10 and under. For £5.95, you get a main, side and a drink. One issue I have with many children's menus is that there is enough food for my 4-year old, but my 8-year old ends up still hungry. I would rather the kids had more proper food and less dessert. At Ed's, my 8-year old was properly full while my 4-year old had food remaining. Take note other restaurants!

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Urban Bliss With Urban Massage

You know how I love beauty treatments in the comfort of my own home? My favourite thing is getting a massage. My body never recovered from my second pregnancy (and pelvic girdle pain) and I seem to constantly have aches and pains. So today, while my children were at school, a lovely lady named Nicki from Urban Massage came to my house and gave me the best deep tissue massage ever.

A few months ago I was desperate for a massage, and as my regular beauty therapist was on holiday, I quickly booked something online. When the masseuse arrived the next day, she didn't bring a massage table (I obviously missed the small print) so I had to have my massage on my bed (and of course my bedroom was a mess). The whole experience left a lot to be desired. So I was intrigued when Urban Massage got in touch last month to ask me to try out their services.

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A Marvellous Time at Marvel Universe Live

I have mentioned that Dubz has been obsessed with superheroes for the past year. So when I saw an advert for the Marvel Universe Live show, I knew we had to take him. Last weekend we told him that we were having a surprise day out, and we made our way to North Greenwich tube station. In the two-minute walk to the O2, we saw several mini-superheroes. Dubz asked if we were going to a superhero show. The secret was out!

Marvel Universe Live is a fun family show. The show is centred around superheroes trying to find the Cosmic Cube fractals that the baddies are trying to use for no good. Crowd favourites include Spider-man, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and Wolverine. Thor's brother Loki was the head villain and proved quite menacing. Both Dubz and Moozles were quite scared in the beginning and clutched onto me for dear life. But then the Avengers starting kicking, punching and fighting, and my kids were enthralled.

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