August 2016 | Modern Mummy

Friday, 26 August 2016

The Royal Mint Experience: A Review

Earlier this year, The Royal Mint opened its doors to the public for the first time in it's history - and this week the girls and I were lucky enough to be invited down for a tour. Pre-kiddos I studied archaeology and I still love learning about history (the history of the British Isles in particular) so I was extra excited about this road trip, although I must confess I did wonder whether the girls would enjoy it as much as I was expecting to.

We left Surrey at the crack of dawn to make the most out of our time away and got to Llantrisant, about 20 minutes west of Cardiff, in time for our tour which was scheduled for 10:30am.

When we arrived we were greeted by The Royal Mint's Shaun the Sheep sculpture (from the Shaun in the City trail in London last year) which immediately caught the girls' attention. Just inside the lobby was also The Royal Mint's contribution to the Gromit Unleashed exhibition a few years ago; a 5ft high Gromit sculpture covered in pennies! They kept the girls entertained while I collected our pre-ordered tickets and we waited for our tour to depart.

Proceedings were kick started with a little video all about our currency and the work carried out at The Royal Mint. Did you know that it produces 90 million coins every week? As well as making every single one of the UK's coins, it also makes them for 60 other countries across the world - and produces commemorative coins and medals for service men and women too. The medals for the winning athletes at the London 2012 Olympic Games were even made here!

After the initial video, the tour left the visitor centre and crossed over to the manufacturing area, where we were talked through the minting process. We learnt everything, from how the blank pieces of metal are created, all the way to them being struck to become coins. I was pretty impressed at how interactive this element of the tour was - the children in the group were asked to guess the answer to lots of questions and they were also allowed to touch the machinery and coins in their different stages, which really kept their attention.

We then moved into a viewing room where we could see employees hard at work in the factory, with the store room behind them containing a VERY large amount of money. For security reasons, phones and cameras weren't allowed in here but it was pretty spectacular, and the girls loved watching all the machines buzzing and whirring and the brand new, shiny coins spilling out of them!

The guided element of our tour ended with the girls striking their own coins (which they were delighted about) and a photo opportunity (which I was delighted about - it's not often we have a family photo taken). The £1 coins that we brought home are actually very special indeed. I didn't realise that new, 12-sided coins are coming into circulation next year - and production of the current round ones ceased in 2015. Our £1 coins have the 2016 stamp on them, which makes them pretty rare!

We were then left to explore the museum area at our leisure and we spent about forty five minutes learning about the history of The Royal Mint from it's beginnings at The Tower of London right through to the current day, and what the future holds for it. As you can imagine, there was also a pretty impressive collection of coins and memorabilia. The girls loved the note in the visitors book from The Queen back in 1937, when she was known as Princess Elizabeth!

Lunch in the bright and airy canteen was lovely and definitely needs a mention. The team catered to my dairy free diet brilliantly and without any prior notice. The kids loved their lunch boxes and the coffee was one of the best I've ever had (although I was pretty knackered after a 5am wake up call!).

If you're in South Wales then I would definitely recommend a visit to The Royal Mint - we all had a great time and the girls are both very excited to tell their teachers and classmates some of the facts they learnt, and to show them the coins that they made.

Entry prices start at £10.50 for children and £13 for adults when booked online. There are also concessions and group discounts available.

It costs £3.50 to strike a coin and photos are £7.50.

DISCLAIMER: We were given tour tickets and a complimentary lunch in exchange for this review of The Royal Mint Experience

Monday, 22 August 2016

The BFG Dream Jar Trail

"Dreams is so quick on the outside but long on the inside" - The BFG.

This weekend, the girls and I are heading to London for a day of sunshine (fingers crossed) and sight seeing. Being ex-Londoners, we head into town fairly regularly, but this occasion is going to be a special one as, instead of the usual shopping/family visiting/theatre going, we are off in search of Dream Jars!

Yes, to celebrate Roald Dahl's 100th birthday and the release of The BFG movie this summer, Persil are supporting the launch of this new - free! - public art installation which is also raising money for Save the Children. Like me, Persil are big believers in getting kids outdoors (#DirtIsGood!) and what could be more fun than hunting for fifty huge, magical Dream Jars on the streets of London.... we can't wait to take part!

Sir Quentin Blake shares a dream with children all over the world; flight! His dream jar contains an illustration of himself flying together with characters from Roald Dahl books.
If you've not read the book or seen the film, Dream Jars are where The BFG keeps the good dreams that he delivers to children. The Dream Jars that you'll see dotted around London each contain a unique sculpture based on the childhood dreams of celebrities and artists from across the globe, including Steven Spielberg, Quentin Blake and Niall Horan from One Direction. You'll find them in iconic spots, like Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square and Tower Bridge, so hunting for them will make an absolutely brilliant day out! Check here to find out where all the Dream Jars are.

There are five trails of differing lengths, which pass by different landmarks, to choose from - or you could make up your own of course. We've picked the Persil Wild Explorers mini trail; it should take a little under two hours (which I think is a good length for littlies) and it covers the three main parks in the West End - St James's Park, Green Park and Hyde Park.

If you fancy heading off on a Dream Jar Trail yourself, then now is the time to do it as it finishes on 31st August. In September the jars will be auctioned, and the money raised will go to Save the Children, giving children in the UK and across the world the chance to dream big and fulfil their potential. If you do go on one, be sure to share your photos of the Dream Jars on Twitter and Instagram using the #BFGDreamJars hashtag - you could be in with a chance of winning some exciting prizes! I'd love to see them too.

In Partnership with Persil

This summer Persil launched The Persil Wild Explorers App, which has over 100 activities for families take part in over the summer (and beyond!). It's brilliant tool for those of you who, like us, like getting outdoors and is available from the App Store here.


Friday, 19 August 2016

Daily Outfit ♥ Ta-Dah!

Being the youngest, Evie gets a lot of hand-me-downs from her big sister. This isn't a bad thing as Daisy has BRILLIANT taste in clothes! - but there's nothing quite like brand spanking, shiny new togs of your own every once in a while. She was pretty happy when I let her pick her own outfit out  in town the other day and I was pretty happy as everything she liked was in the sale ;) In actual fact we picked up the whole shebang for just £16!

I love letting my kids choose what they wear. Admittedly sometimes they do look a little crackers but more often than not they put together some pretty awesome combos; stuff I'd never even contemplate. Like stripes and silver, which totally works!

How cute is this playsuit from Mothercare? I love the bold rainbow print and contrasting floral piping! They come up a bit small; we went for a 5-6 (Evie is only 3) but hopefully that means it will still fit next year. It also fits Daisy too.

I had a little bit of influence over the shoes. I wanted to get her a pair of comfy canvas shoes to see her through what's left of the summer so I led her away from the high heels (current obsession) and school-type shoes in M&S and then she spotted these straight away. Lucky for us, they were the last pair in the sale - and in her size! I love it when that happens!

Stripy jumpsuit, £9 (sale) - LittleBirdbyJools at Mothercare
Sparkly silver canvas t-bars, £7 (sale) - Marks & Spencer (sold out online, similar here)

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Introducing New Pampers Baby-Dry!

It might not feel like it to us parents, but babies actually spend around half of the day asleep! Catching all those ZZZZZZs isn't just important for their mood, but also has a positive effect on their development, too! Having taken this into account, Pampers are launching a brand new innovation and upgrade to UK parents’ #1 nappy choice - the new Pampers Baby-Dry feature a revolutionary nappy design with 3 Absorbing Channels and unique Micro Pearls™ that distribute wetness more evenly and lock it away for up to 12 hours. This means less wet bulk in the morning, so your littlie can wake up smiling!  

New Pampers Baby-Dry has been recommended by 88% of UK parents *
New Pampers Baby-Dry are also been BritMums Bloggers Approved, Mumsnet Rated, Mother & Baby Tried and Tested and 90% of Netmums mums would recommend New Pampers Baby-Dry.

With New Pampers Baby-Dry working as hard as possible, your little one can say goodbye to horrible, wet bulky nappies and hello to a dry night’s sleep.

To celebrate the launch of New Pampers Baby-Dry, Pampers are working with baby sleep expert Jo Tantum - who is a member of the Pampers Love, Sleep & Play panel and has 25 years’ experience helping hundreds of families to achieve a peaceful night’s sleep! Jo has identified 5 sleep typologies that may help you to understand your baby’s sleep habits and needs better - so, is your little one a Starfish, Skylark, Sloth, Owl or Meerkat sleeper? Take a look and let me know using #PampersBabyDry! 

This is when your baby sleeps in the same position, on their back with legs and arms out. They also wake up often and regularly, but they don’t go back to sleep easily after you intervene with a sleep prop – which they need to get to sleep!
Jo’s Tip – A muslin square, knotted in the middle. Tuck it down your top before giving it to baby so it smells of you and comforts them. Also, try and teach your baby to fall asleep on their own gently. Start in the day, at nap times, watching for tired signs, then settle them for a sleep in their room.

These are the babies that wake up early in the morning, singing and shouting, and refuse to go back to sleep whatever you try!
Jo’s Tip – Wave sounds. This can be a sleep App or sound machine. Keep it on continually while baby is asleep, so when they come into a light sleep phase it soothes them back to sleep. Total blackout is also key – remember that babies can’t tell the time! They don’t know it’s 5am! If your baby wakes up early, try and respond to them as though it’s still night, rather than creating a habit of early waking. 

These little ones love sleep and can sleep anywhere and everywhere - lucky you! But what happens when they wake up? You will know it’s going to be for a growth or developmental spurt or they are teething or not well.
Jo’s Tip – Increase feeding time by 5 minutes, if breast feeding and by 30ml if bottle feeding. If your baby is close to 6 months old, they may need weaning. 

This is when your baby goes to bed late and then wakes up in the night. They’re wide awake for long periods and can’t get back to sleep!
Jo’s Tip – A Sleep Fest! Allow your baby to sleep for 3 hours during the day to reset their internal clock. Babies need lots of sleep and it’s a myth that if you don’t give them naps, they will be so tired that they’ll sleep through the night. 

They stand up, move around trying to get comfortable all night and they don’t want to sleep. They’re late to bed and early to rise. 
Jo’s Tip – Wind Down Time. Try bath-story-feed to establish a calming bedtime routine. Your baby is overtired and so they will thrash around trying to get comfortable just like we do. They will have lots of energy around bedtime and early in the morning, as their bodies and minds are overstimulated. 

If you’d like to try New Pampers Baby-Dry, you can visit the Pampers website here to claim your free sample. 

*based on a survey of 790 UK Parents, given the samples in May 2016

This post is sponsored by Pampers 


Co-parenting, Vintage Cat Photos + Five Favourites: the Anthropologie Edition

Last week my babies went away with their dad for five nights. It was the longest we've ever been apart and, I'm not going to lie, it was awful. Despite doing this whole co-parenting thing for two years now, I still can't bear to wave them off for any more than a few hours. I spent my first child free evening alone at home, drinking wine, crying and drunkenly bidding on vintage cat photos* on eBay. The following morning, thanks to lots of you over on Instagram, I managed to man up, plan a Friday night out with the lay-deeees and then the rest of the weekend was lost in a blur of garden blitzing (more on that in another post).

On Tuesday we had our big reunion, and to celebrate their homecoming, I said we would do whatever the girls wanted the following day. They opted for a trip to Guildford (our nearest city) to buy Nerds from the American sweet shop ;) - who was I to say no?

Now I can't make a forty mile round trip to Guildford without dropping into my beloved Anthropologie, even if I do find myself shouting "don't touch that!" and "stop running around, you'll knock someone or something over!" every thirty seconds....

Today, everything that caught my eye seemed to have a monogrammed theme so I thought I'd put together a little Five Favourites section to add to this post. How gorgeous are all of these?

Clockwise from top left:
Equestrian monogram hooks, £24 each // Gilded glass, £24 // Necklace, £36 // Trinket dish, £10 // Decorative letter, £20

*Back to the vintage cat photos - bit spooky but it turns out I already (kind of) know the lady in one of my (many!) drunken purchases on Thursday night.

Same house, same windowsill - it's the same lady isn't it? If not then they must be sisters, or mother and daughter! Either way, what a coincidence that both photos ended up with me!


Health + Safety Gone Mad? #WeirdRules

Recently health and safety warnings seem to have gone a little crazy. From coffee cups marked with 'contents may be hot' to jars of peanut butter that 'may contain traces of nuts', do companies really think we're daft enough to need the obvious pointed out?!

Sheilds, one of the world's largest health and safety trainers, have put together this infographic which really made me giggle; I mean, birthday candles being deemed a fire risk and banned? Monkey bars being declared too dangerous for kids to climb and play on? Of course, as a mother, I want to keep my children safe but I also want them to develop common sense and to be able to use it!

I asked some of my friends about the silly warnings they'd come across and here are a couple of their gems:

Danielle from Blog by Baby was given incredibly detailed instructions on how to use a rubber bath mat when she stayed at a hotel recently. In case any of you want (or need, ha!) to know: "Wet the surface of your bath.... press firmly down on the suckers to ensure adherence to the surface.... Check that the mat is secured firmly before use.... When stepping into the bath, always step onto the centre of the mat."

Vicki from Cake Escapes bought her daughter some play dough that came with this warning: "Although this dough is made from safe and non-toxic material.... please do not eat it all the time."

Jacqui from Mummy's Little Monkey had a top that came with the warning "Do not iron while child is still wearing."


I mean, REALLY! What are your thoughts on the different health and safety warnings you've seen out and about? Are they necessary or over the top?


Monday, 15 August 2016

Daily Outfit ♥ Pink + Gold

After the food and the music, my favourite thing about Camp Bestival this year was the GLITTER.

When I was a teenager (many, many moons ago - but lets not talk about that) glitter was the most important bit of kit in every school girl's make up bag. Barry M was the brand du jour, and their dazzle dusts, glitter gels and stick on stars were essentials on any evening out.

Getting to relive my youth at Camp Bestival by smothering my chops in sparkles was pretty darn brilliant, and although Barry M don't make the glitter gels or stick on stars anymore (they still do a huge collection of dazzle dusts though) it turns out Snazaroo do some that are nearly as good ;) 

Anyhoo,  I digress. I LOVED the glitter and, once I got home, decided that I definitely needed more of it in my life. My first post-festival glittery purchase was a cropped David Bowie t-shirt from Primark. The photos don't show it very clearly but there are actually gold threads running through it making it sparkle in the light! For this post I thought I'd team it with a girlie pink midi skirt, which was a bargain in the ASOS sale and has actually just been reduced further to £8. And, of course, no outfit is complete without a pair of clogs. I got these Madrids from Moheda last year but they're still available - and in the sale too!

Speaking of clogs, my next glittery purchases are going to be these gold Lotta clogsthis sequin dress from House of Fraser and, because Autumn is just around the corner (how? HOW?), this glittery black bobble hat.

Gold glittery Bowie top, £8 - Primark
Pink linen midi skirt, £8 (sale) - ASOS 
Madrid clogs, £68 (sale) - c/o Moheda

Festival Food, Glorious Festival Food

Having just got back from Camp Bestival, and with Victorious Fest and The Big Feastival just around the corner, I wanted to take a few minutes to think about festival food. We ALL know my favourite thing about any festival is slowly working my way around every single food stall and getting to eat my meals in the great outdoors..... Food tastes so much better when it's eaten out in the fresh air, don't you think?

I'm not the best cook in the world, and I like to treat the festivals that we go to like mini holidays, which means NO cooking (or washing up, thank you) and plenty of eating. There's always so many different cuisines on offer that it's the perfect opportunity to try new things - plus I love the fact that the girls can choose what they want to eat too and we can even eat entirely different things if we want (which is something I don't encourage when I'm slaving over a hot stove at home ;)).

From traditional Italian pizza, to vegan sushi rolls, to mac + cheese, THERE IS SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE. Or, if you're me, something for every meal. God bless each and every one of those diesel generators that power up my beloved food stalls and allow me to enjoy so many cuisines al fresco ;)

Here's a little infographic that I thought you might like, talking all about the power of food and all those festival dishes you don't want to miss out on x


Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Daily Outfit ♥ THE BEST Twirling Dresses EVER

Right now the girls insist on wearing dresses or skirts pretty much every single day. Even when we have a day of tree climbing and hill rolling and cartwheeling ahead of us, they want to do it in their favourite frocks rather than leggings or shorts, which is totally fine by me - I think it's really important to them express themselves by choosing their own outfits (plus I love seeing what they come up with!)

A couple of weeks ago I was approached by Rockin' Baby and asked if I'd like to review some of their clothes.  The moment I saw these dresses in the lookbook I KNEW that the girls would love them. They were just totally them; cool and bohemian, plus they looked super comfy and laid back. And of course mum's always right - I let the girls take a look for themselves and these were the first things they picked out.

I think the girls like dresses because they're so easy to wear - plus these ones are circle cut, so are THE BEST twirling dresses EVER - and that's ALWAYS an added bonus! In fact, these dresses are so good for twirling that they could probably do with having some cute little matching bloomers instead of the headscarves that come with them!

The thing I love most about them is the ethos of the company that they came from. Rockin' Baby's mantra is 'You buy, we give' and that's exactly what they do. For every product of theirs that's sold across the world, another is donated to a mother or child in need. How awesome is that?

Esme circle dress (mixed stripe)
Esme circle dress (bunting print)
Both £48 c/o Rockin Baby

PS Trying to persuade the girls to have their photos taken for outfit posts together is getting harder and harder..... Either one is too busy doing flamenco dancing to strike a pose.....

Or the other is busting some crazy dance moves while the other looks on in horror.....

Or one of them just gives up altogether and decides to flash their drawers ;)


Monday, 8 August 2016

Camp Bestival 2016

This time last week we had just returned from our annual pilgrimage to Camp Bestival, and there's no doubt about it: 2016 was bigger and better than ever before!

The theme this year was Outer Space and the effort that went into every single element of the festival really was out of this world. From layout to line up, and site decorations to everyone's fancy dress, the details were incredible and everybody seemed to be on the same, uber chilled out, kind and friendly wavelength this year which definitely made it the best one yet for me.

Sunset over our camp
The girls had been on Camp Bestival countdown since March (yes, really!) so when we July 28th finally came around, and we eventually set off down the A3, they were beside themselves with excitement. When we arrived, we set up camp in our usual spot (close to the smoothie and toastie stall, where it isn't too hilly) with Ruth from RocknRollerBaby and Carolynne from Mummy Endeavours. It was pretty windy so putting up our tents was a bit of a challenge but we got there in the end (with the help of a couple of cold beers ;)) and just about had time to decorate our camp with lots of bunting and lanterns, courtesy of Flying Tiger, Copenhagen, before it started to get dark!

The thing I love most about Camp Bestival is that the kids can just run wild, and thats exactly what they do - literally all weekend. When you camp in a big group like we do, responsibilities are always shared out between all the grown ups; while someone cooks, someone else keeps an eye on the kiddos, and there's always someone to do a toilet trip, or to keep charge while another goes to the bar/to a food stall. After four years, I think we've pretty much nailed it now and being at Camp Bestival really does feel like a proper holiday these days!

The Three Amigos - flower crowns courtesy of Flying Tiger Copenhagen!
As well as camping with Ruth and Carolynne, it was lovely to meet up with Nat from Style Me Sunday, Emma from The Joy of Five and Uju from Babes About Town for a couple of glasses of festival fizz and we also bumped into Alice from Project:Wanderlust.

Anyway, as always, I'm going to let my photos do the talking; here are some of my favourites from our weekend:

Four of the clan with one of the giant astronauts at the entrance to the castle field

Little details in the Dingly Dell... I'm totally inspired to make our own mud cafe at home now!

Evie passed out drunk napping in the shade

Daisy showing off her circus skills!
Blue skies over the Big Top
One space princess, one space kitten and one mum covered in glitter
Ice lollies for everyone in the upper kids field
Watching Bananarama!
Evie named this tree The Broccoli Tree and it was our meeting point for the whole festival!

Things we especially loved this year:

The organisers had opened up the area leading into the Castle Stage which was BRILLIANT. It made getting in, out and through to the lower and upper kids fields so much easier - for the past three years there has always been a bit of a bottle neck at the spot inbetween the jousting field and the castle but this year they'd done away with the jousting which meant there was so much more space to settle down and watch the bands, plus the added bonus of not getting separated from your kiddos in the crowds!

I absolutely LOVED that the Bollywood stage was outside this year. Usually its two tents, one containing the bar and the other the dancefloor. This year there was a large open air stage, and two open air bars (one in a bus!) - but there was still plenty of shade in the form of gazebos and umbrellas. What with the acoustic music (by day), the excellent and super speedy bar staff, and the shade for the kiddos (Evie napped under a gazebo twice, haha), it was my favourite place to hang out this year.

Each year I give the girls some spending money and this year they chose to spend the majority of it at a yarn bombed ice cream van selling Little Fingy finger puppets. The van really was a sight to behold and the finger puppets were adorable (and very reasonably priced)! The girls have decided to start collecting them via their online shop.

Things we love every year:

I think it's pretty obvious that we love everything about Camp Bestival (I honestly have no negatives this year, apart from how much of a struggle it was lugging all our gear to our camp by myself - I'm definitely contemplating celebrating our fifth year at the festival next year with some form of fancy pants boutique camping). For us it's all about the bare feet  glitter  flower crowns  camp BBQs ♥ watching the kids cartwheel everywhere ♥ the AMAZING food (a special shout out to Chris from Chapati Man - my chicken sag and chana aloo combo was a highlight, as always)  the miles and miles of bunting and flags and sparkle and flowers and pretty lights at every turn (especially courtesy of Lizzie's Way in the Dingly Dell)  the Dingly Dell in general - we love EVERYTHING about it; the ribbon braiding, the mud cafe, the little reading nooks, the National Trust 50 Things Field  the incredible effort that everyone puts into the fancy dress  the fact its acceptable to drink gin at 10.30am ;) ♥ and of course THE FIREWORKS!

This year, after a fleeting 12 hour stop back home to do laundry, sleep in our own beds, and show Mabel the cat some love, we actually went back to Dorset and spent a further five days on holiday with my family. We returned to Lulworth Castle for a tour of the building and gardens once Camp Bestival was over (something I've wanted to do for aaaaaages) and I really must comment on what an incredible clean up job the CB team did - you would never in a million years have known that there had been a festival there just four days before!

If you're contemplating going to a festival with your family then Camp Bestival is undoubtedly the one for you - in my opinion NOTHING comes close (and the Great British public must agree with me as it has been voted Best Family Festival four times in the last six years!) So round up your friends and get your tickets for 2017 sorted asap - early bird tickets go on sale today (you can nab yours for the bargain price of £175/£105/£80/£30/£10 for grown ups/13-17s/10-12s/5-9s/4 and unders respectively here).

We were official Camp Bestival bloggers which meant our tickets were complimentary, but this is an entirely honest review.

You can also have a read all about our past Camp Bestival experiences here, here and here if you fancy!
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