Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Surviving an NCT Sale

They say babies are expensive. They say you'll spend a fortune in their first few years. The baby industry will also have you believe everything needs to be new. 

Really though, there's just a few basics a baby actually "needs" (Sarah wrote an excellent list a year or so ago) and the majority of things can be bought second hand. More than likely, you'll end up being given thousands of things anyway.

For all those the other things you'd like?

Enter the NCT Nearly New Sale.

The beauty of an NCT sale is that it's organised just like a shop; similar items are grouped together on tables or rails so you can see at a glance what's there and compare things. Everything is clearly (and often cheaply) priced and usually you can pay by card when you've finished. No haggling needed!

However, the small downside to them is their popularity! When I was pregnant and people talked about these magical sales, they also threw about phrases such as "bunfight", "sharp elbows" and "queuing up for hours".

We've done a few NCT sales now: as a customer, as a seller and as a volunteer.

So I have a few top tips for surviving an NCT sale...

1. Make a list
Think about what things you want or need; even if it's something niche, put it on the list; you never know what might be there! Think ahead too, buy the next sizes up in shoes or clothing. 

2. Prioritise items and decide on a plan
Work out which things you need the most and make sure you plan to look for those things first. If you're going to the sale with someone else, you could each take half the list to make sure you don't miss anything.

3. Go prepared
Some sales don't allow pushchairs (or ask them to be left in the cafe area) so check in advance and plan accordingly. Wearing your baby or toddler in a sling or carrier is often a good idea and there's usually sale volunteers who'll help you carry things or pick things up.

Don't do what we did at one sale, think "nah, it'll be fine, we can just carry her" - except than she then falls asleep and becomes a dead weight...

4. Get there early
It's first come, first served and some sales in London have queues which start forming over an hour in advance. Here in Sonerset, we usually get to a sale about 15-20 minutes before the doors open.

5. Become a member
NCT members get in 15 minutes before the public (plus there's a whole host of other discounts for being a member such as cashback on your shopping and access to an NUS card) so if you plan on going to sales regularly, it might be worth joining.

6. Quick decisions
When you spot something you like, pop it in your bag as if you go back for it later, more than likely, it'll be gone. Before you pay, you can always look through your items and put back anything you've changed your mind about.

7. Go round twice
Take a second look round; you'll usually spot things you didn't see when you first arrived.

8. Volunteer
For the ultimate early entry, volunteer to help at a sale! It's good fun and lovely to meet so many expectant parents, new families and little babies. You help out with setting up and packing away the sale and in return, you get your own private pre-sale to buy all the bargains (and sometimes other perks such as lunch or your seller fee refunded)

And for a bonus tip...
9. If there's a cafe, make sure you check it out. Our last local sale boasted a huge variety of cakes including gluten free and dairy free options :-)

You can search for your nearest NCT sale on their website here.

Happy bargain hunting!

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

A Photo Every Hour - Saturday 20th May

Saturday 20th was the date chosen by me for May's photo an hour; a day spent out and about at a local community arts festival.

Here's what the day looked like...

8am - Early morning reading.

9am - Outfits for the day (mine on the right, hers on the left).

10am - Breakfast!

11am - And the bathtime clean-up afterwards.

12pm - Out and about for a local community festival.

1pm - Free classical music concert in the library :-)

2pm - Lots of fun with instruments!

3pm - Tea and coffee stop at a local church.

4pm - Back home and there's always time for more tea.

5pm - Potato prep for dinner.

6pm - Do you think I have enough cheese?

7pm - We tired her out!

8pm - Still asleep.

9pm - But while she was asleep, I attacked some puzzle geocaches.

10pm - She was clearly very tired!

Jane will be setting the date for June and rounding up the usual suspects so pop over to her blog to take a look!


Also, check out what I was up to in...

Monday, 15 May 2017

A Photo Every Hour - Saturday 22nd April are we already halfway through May?  This month's photo an hour date is rolling round far too quickly and I still haven't rounded up April's day. Ah well.

Last month's photo an hour took place on Saturday 22nd; we'd been on holiday over Easter up in Anglesey and that Saturday was the day we were making the journey back home.

Here's what the day looked like...

8am - Packing the car ready to head home (spot the person still playing though!)

9am - A use-it-all-up leftovers breakfast.

10am - Last bit of cleaning up.

11am - Just before heading home, there was time for a few photos.

12pm - Betws-y-Coed in glorious sunshine.

1pm - A glimpse of Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in the distance.

2pm - A stop-off at a soft play centre in Shrewsbury for a bit of food and a play.

3pm - Still playing...

4pm - Back on the road again.

5pm - The first sign for the South West.

6pm - If you're travelling on the M5, obviously you stop off at Gloucester Services :-)

7pm - Not too far from Bristol now.

8pm - Getting closer to home.

9pm - All this achieved by one toddler within 10 minutes of arriving home.

10pm - Late night supper.

11pm - And finally asleep!

For April's photo an hour we had 21 lovely people join in:

Kezzie from Kezzie AG joined in on Instagram and her blog.
Elise from Elise and Life joined in on Twitter.
Naomi from What Naomi Did Next joined in on Instagram and Twitter.
Bev from Confuzzledom joined in on Twitter and her blog.
Shazza from Sunshine and Celandines joined in on Instagram, Twitter and her blog.
Hazel from World of Joy joined in on Instagram, Twitter and her blog.
Jennifer from Adventures in Pop Culture joined in on Instagram and Twitter.
Rachel from The Inelegnat Wench joined in on Instagram and Twitter.
Susie from Secondhand Susie joined in on Instagram and her blog.
Siobhan joined in on Instagram.
Ruth joined in on Instagram.
Rebecca from Writing, Fatshion, Me joined in on Instagram
Jane from Is That You Darling joined in on Instagram
Louise from Ramblings of a Roachling joined in on Instagram.
Rebecca joined in on Instagram.
Lizzie from Home, Make, Be joined in on Instagram.
Char from t*rexes and tiaras joined in on Instagram
Kimmie joined in on Instagram.
Amy from Fluffy Owl's Adventures joined in on Instagram
Vikki joined in on Instagram.
Jesamine joined in on Instagram.
And of course, myself here on this post, plus on Instagram and Twitter :-)

May's photo an hour will be this Saturday, the 20th!

Also, check out what I was up to in...

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Styling the Little One - Why Do Babies Have the Best Outfits?

So keeping a regular feature going whilst looking after a baby/toddler doesn't really work, I've found. 

Trying to photograph her outfit each day when it could be anything from a party dress to nothing but a nappy just wasn't happening.

She does (well, did - she's outgrown most of them now) have some pretty darn cool clothes though.

Why do babies and children get all the best patterns and designs?

Full credit goes to Helen from Treasure Every Moment - her 'week of style' post with daughter, Isabella inspired me to attempt to do something similar with Lily :-)

Friday, 31 March 2017

This Little Big Life - Autumn and Winter Doings

Last summer Sarah and Louise started a little link-up series called This Little Big Life, showcasing highlights from the weekend. Needless to say, none of us managed to keep up with posting on a weekly basis; as often happens, life just simply gets in the way.

I can, however do an almighty round-up of what we got up to over the autumn and winter :-)

September was spent enjoying the last of the summer weather with a holiday down to Brixham, a trip to a local lido and a sunny day trip to the beach at Weymouth. We also saw a couple of local small carnivals (in preparation for the big ones in November) and had a bit of work done on the house, in the form of a lovely shiny new wood-burning stove. We had some trips out to the playground, a visit to Bridgwater Fair and started some new baby classes: The Creation Station's Baby Discover (arts and crafts) and a Mum & Baby Yoga course.

October saw more carnivals, more playgrounds and a chance to dress as a novelty pumpkin (Lily, not myself). There was a local lantern parade which we joined in with and a trip to The Egg Theatre in Bath to see a show aimed at babies (about spongy things!). We spent too much money at an NCT Nearly New Sale and I had my first evening out with the little one (all us mums in our NCT group went out for a meal). I ended up being interviewed by BBC Radio Bristol all about National Fertility Awareness Week and we also met Kipper at the Bath Children's Literature Festival!

November was all about carnival season here in Somerset. Lily went to her first Bridgwater carnival and spent half of it asleep and half of it wide-eyed and open-mouthed at the lights, music and dancing. We also watched a couple of firework displays and visited the theatre in Bristol to see 'The Grinning Man' (which was A.MAZING). I also helped out at our local NCT Sale (which was great fun) and then ended up joining the local branch as a volunteer. We went back to visit all the staff at the fertility clinic to say hello and Lily ended up being on Twitter for a while. She also celebrated reaching double figures in months by spending the day asleep during Glastonbury Frost Fayre and a visit to Glastonbury Abbey.

December saw theatre shows, Father Christmas, reindeer and presents. Lily went to her very first classical music concert - a group called Music for Miniatures who run regular events locally in Bath and Frome - it was excellent and a really Christmassy start to the month. We had a mini holiday to the New Forest for my birthday and Lily met Father Christmas for the first time. We had day trips to Longleat for the Festival of Light and to a local garden centre for their Christmas displays. Me and Andrew even managed to have our first evening out on our own since before Lily was born! (We went to the Bristol Old Vic to see 'The Snow Queen' - which was quite spectacular) We had a real wreath on our front door for Christmas too - handmade by my own fair hands under the expert tuition of the lovely Gemma from Dora Flora Flowers. We made sure Lily had her fill of Christmas theatre too with four shows and one concert watched: 'Reindeer on the Roof'; 'Jack Frost'; 'The Christmassy Christmas Show of Christmassy Christmasness' (highly recommended); Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain'; and 'The Snowman' performed by Bath Philharmonia. We also had some settling in sessions at Lily's nursery!

It was the end of maternity leave this month, having had the full 12 months away from the office. My role was made into a job share with me doing the Monday and Tuesday. Lily also started at her nursery (a fabulous forest school set on a farm) and we settled into a routine of two days at nursery followed by three days of baby groups. Lily's social life is better than mine with regular classes of music, painting, messy play, toddler groups and swimming lessons! We also went to the theatre to see 'Snow Mouse' (which will be at the Barbican in London this Christmas) and me and Andrew managed an afternoon to ourselves seeing 'The Play That Goes Wrong' at Bath Theatre Royal - both shows highly recommended. We went to a friend's fancy dress 'heroes & villains' party as the Little Red Riding Hood story and then the little one turned one whole year old! I embellished a vest for her to wear on the day and then a few days later we had one big birthday party with all her friends and lots of inflatable and soft play stuff. It was good!

So how's life with you?

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Blondes Vegan Creme Eggs

If you're vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free or simply just fancy an incredibly tasty Easter treat, you need to get yourself to this Facebook page pretty sharpish.
So there I was browsing one of the cow's milk allergy 'mum groups' I'm a member of on Facebook and someone links to a post from Blondes Coffee Shop near Hull.

It looks nice enough, you think; it specialises in vegetarian and vegan food so you know they'll have dairy-free cakes...and then you notice... they've only gone and started making vegan creme eggs!

 And they deliver across the UK. I repeat - they deliver creme eggs TO YOUR DOOR.

Well, needless to say, I bought some. It's 3 eggs for £6 (plus £3.50 postage) and if you buy 12 (which obviously I did) they send you a free edible gift. They do creme eggs, caramel eggs and raspberry creme eggs and you can mix and match however you like. All vegan and free from eggs, dairy, soya and gluten.


Send them a message on Facebook, pay by Paypal or over the phone and then a few days later, they'll be in your face hands.
My free gift was a very chocolately slice of rocky road. That's been eaten, along with one of the raspberry creme eggs.


THEY. WERE. DELICIOUS. (and yep, they were that good they do deserve capitals)
I'd like to say they'll last til Easter and won't get devoured before but you know, it might be a case of needs must... 

Disclaimer: All the eggs were bought with my own money and I haven't received anything for writing this post - I just thought they were so tasty I'd share the crème egg love!
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