Fun at the beach with Hape toys

Fun at the beach with Hape toys

We’re lucky enough to live close enough to the beach that we spend quite a bit of time there.

Most of the time when we pop down we just take ourselves.  Maybe a towel if the children will be going in the sea.

Sometimes though, if we’re planning on being at the beach for a bit longer, we will take a few bits like a bucket and spade with us.  And now, thanks to Hape, we have some really fab new beach toys to play with when we spend time there.


We were sent a few different toys from Hape to review and the children were so excited to take them with us on a recent trip to the beach.


The toy they were both desperate to test drive was the Hape dune buggy.

This little push-around car is really solidly built and we all love the way it moves about.  It has low-profile tyres which move independently.  You push the car along by holding on to the handle, and it turns really smoothly when you gently push down on the tilting top.


The dune buggy is for children aged 18 months and over and I think it would be a great toddler toy to use at the beach and even at home on the living room floor.  It’s such a simple, classic toy though that my son at 8 years old still really enjoys playing with it.

You can use your imagination to have so much fun with this toy, building slopes and digging holes in the sand for the buggy to negotiate.


The next toy we tested out was the Hape power paw.

This is just so much fun and something I can see us getting a load of use out of over the summer.  It’s basically a plastic claw that you can use for digging in the sand.

There’s a handle inside to hold on to, then you just use it as an extension of your hand to dig.


I wasn’t sure how efficient the power paw would be at first, but honestly it is so good!

Rhys had a great time digging in the sand with it and we were all impressed with how quickly he dug a decent sized hole.  The paw feels really nice and sturdy and like it will last a long time and stand up to being treated not-so-gently.


The last beach toy we’ve been trying out is the Hape rain shovel.

Like the dune buggy and power paw, the rain shovel is perfect for children of all ages from 18 months up.

It’s a really sturdy spade that fits nicely in your hand.  It’s a great size for popping in your bag when you head to the beach, but it’s so strong and well made that it’s really efficient for digging.


What makes this shovel special though is the fact that the handle is hollow and there are holes in the end, so you can pour water through it.

Nerys had so much fun with this, scooping up water from the sea and pretending she was in the shower as the water sprinkled out.


All three of the Hape toys we were sent are great fun, and lovely quality.

They all feel so solid and sturdy and will be perfect to keep in the car boot, ready to grab any time we pop down to the beach.


Which one do you think your child would enjoy the most?


Disclaimer: we were sent these beach toys for the purpose of this review but all words and opinions are my own.

JD Williams review

A new outfit for spring with JD Williams

There are signs starting to appear that hint that spring may well be on its way soon.

And while I actually quite like winter with its warm coats and cosy hats I am looking forward to being able to go out without quite so many layers on.  I’m also looking forward to shuffling things around in my wardrobe and rediscovering my dresses and other bits of spring/summer clothing.

This spring I’ll have some really lovely new pieces to add to the mix after the lovely people at JD Williams got in touch and asked if I would like to review some clothing from their website.

A new outfit for spring with JD Williams


There’s a huge range of pieces to choose from on the JD Williams site, from tops to dresses to boots to accessories.  I spent ages browsing all the options and could quite happily have picked out a completely new wardrobe full of clothes, there were so many items that I liked the look of.

In the end though I chose some pieces to put together a lovely new outfit for spring that still feels very ‘me’ and that I can use to mix and match with bits that I have in my wardrobe to make lots of other new looks with too.


The first item I picked out was this white and navy striped top.

I’m a big fan of striped tops, and I have quite a few in my wardrobe already because they are just so easy to wear.  I really love this one with the little pop of pink on the sleeves just to add that bit of interest and to break up the stripes a bit.

The top is light-weight and really comfy to wear and I think it looks great with jeans.  I’ll also be able to wear it with a denim skirt when the weather warms up a bit.

JD Williams navy stripe crew neck top


I generally wear size 12 clothes, so that was the size I got this top in.  It is a slightly loose fit which I really love as it’s so comfortable and gives it a more relaxed feel.

I also picked out some lovely dark wash jeans which are another wardrobe staple.  I really love the colour of these and fit is lovely too.

JD Williams clothes review


To complete the look and add another layer on spring days when it’s still a bit chilly out I chose this blush boyfriend cardigan.

I absolutely love the colour of this cardigan; it’s so pretty.  I think it works really well over the striped top but will also be great layered over a few dresses that I already have in my wardrobe.  It’s part of JD Williams’ capsule range and I think it would be a great addition to a capsule wardrobe, creating a few different looks when it’s mixed with different pieces.

JD Williams blush boyfriend cardigan review


To complete my new spring look I picked out some gorgeous brown boots.

These are from the heavenly feet range and they are so comfortable to wear.  I’ve worn them on several walks and days out with the children and they haven’t rubbed at all and have generally just felt really nice to wear.

JD Williams heavenly feet brown boots


They have a memory foam insock that basically moulds to the shape of your feet when you wear them which makes them so comfortable and also helps to relieve pressure points.  They then recover their shape after you take them off so they don’t get worn down.

I’ve already had compliments on these gorgeous boots and I can see me wearing them all the time, with all sorts of outfits.  They’re mid-height boots so look great with jeans tucked into them, but I think they’d also look good with dresses on those in-between weather days.

JD Williams heavenly feet boots review


What I really love about all the pieces that I picked out is that they work really well together as an outfit but each item can also be mixed and matched with other pieces already in my wardrobe.

I’ve been really impressed with the quality of everything, and I found the JD Williams website really nice to use too.  I love that they have such a wide range to choose from, and that you can find brands on the site like Joe Browns and Oasis as well as their own pieces.

Now I’m off to see what other new looks I can create for spring with my new wardrobe staples mixed with the clothes I already have tucked away in the wardrobe.


Disclosure: I was sent these items from JD Williams for the purpose of this review, but all thoughts, words and photos are my own.

Best season to visit Bluestone wales

When is the best time of year to visit Bluestone, Wales?

We are rather fond of Bluestone, Wales in our family.

It was somewhere I’d heard such wonderful things about for quite a while before we actually went ourselves and I was thrilled that it lived up to all the expectations I had.

We have been twice now, once in late spring and once in December for a winter break including a trip to the Kingdom of the Elves.  And it sparked a conversation with the children about which holiday they liked best.  I wondered if there was a particular time of year that is best for visiting Bluestone.

Best time of year to visit Bluestone Wales (1)


I think the best way to tackle this is to look at what you can expect from a holiday at Bluestone at different times of the year, and what we particularly enjoyed about each of our trips.


Spring and Summer

We went on our first trip to Bluestone in May 2017, so it was late spring and it was absolutely glorious.

We got really lucky with the weather and had plenty of sunshine and blue skies, with just a bit of drizzle on the last day.  Which meant we seemed to have endless hours to get out and explore the resort.  This would be a big draw for me to go again in the spring or summer, the fact that there are more hours of daylight to spend outside enjoying everything that Bluestone has to offer.


There are also a few things both onsite and in the local area that aren’t open, or have restricted hours, in the winter so the warmer months are a great option if you particularly want to do them.

This includes eating at Camp Smokey at the resort.

Bluestone camp smokey


The steep ravine with its tree climbing and high ropes course is still open in the winter, and you can wander down to Camp Smokey for a look around, but if you want to enjoy a meal there you’ll need to book a visit in the warmer months.

We didn’t eat there when we went but it’s something I would like to try on another visit, now the children are older and more likely to try different foods.  At Camp Smokey you can enjoy hot sandwiches, burgers and hotdogs as well as various snacks.  The main appeal though is in the smokey smores, where you can toast your own marshmallows over the camp fire.


If you want to visit Folly Farm while you’re in Pembrokeshire you’ll also be better off choosing a spring or summer break, because it’s only open at weekends from the start of November to the middle of February.



Holidays to Bluestone in the spring and summer are great for simple things like letting little ones burn off their energy in the play park in the village.

They can still do this in the winter of course, and it’s still great fun, but it’s more relaxing for parents when it’s warm and sunny.  You can let the children stay and play until it gets dark, while you sit down and enjoy a coffee or a milkshake from Ty Coffi.

Bluestone Wales spring summer


The whole philosophy at Bluestone is about free range fun, getting the whole family out in nature and exploring.  And the lake is a great place to go for a walk to experience some of that free range fun.

In the spring and summer especially the lake is brilliant.

Between March and October you can sign up for a whole range of watersports and water-based activities at the lake, from paddle boarding and kayaking to family raft wars.  If you’re not feeling quite so energetic you can still have a great time walking around and seeing all the amazing wildlife.

When we went we were all so excited to see some ducks with their little ducklings walking around.

Ducks Bluestone lake


If you’re looking for more things to do to keep your children busy and entertained on your holiday there are all sorts of options in the spring and the summer thanks to the legends of the sea festival and the summer festival.

Both festivals offer so much to keep the whole family entertained, with special events, shows, workshops and craft activities.

A lot of these events take place out in nature during the warmer months which is really lovely. 

And you can keep making the most of being outside at mealtimes too, by having a barbecue at your lodge.

All the lodges have little stands in the kitchen to use with disposable barbecues, which you can either bring with you or buy at Newton Stores in the village.

Newton stores Bluestone

The one potential downside of visiting Bluestone in the spring or summer is that these times of year are often more popular and busier. What we found when we went in May though, was that even though the resort was busy, it really didn’t feel busy.

There is so much open space around Bluestone that we found plenty of places to explore that felt quiet and peaceful.

Autumn and Winter

Things can get so busy in the run up to Christmas and a few nights away at Bluestone is the perfect way to get away from it all and relax a bit.  You can visit the spa, go for walks in the woods and around the lake and just enjoy a slower pace of life.

There are also some activity-packed festivals during autumn and winter too, from the Bwbach festival in autumn to the winter lights festival at the start of each year.

One of the biggest reasons to visit Bluestone in winter though is for the Kingdom of the Elves.

Bluestone Christmas

The Kingdom of the Elves is the hugely popular event that Bluestone put on every year in the lead up to Christmas, and it is well worth a visit to get in the festive spirit and is great for children of all ages.

One of the great things about Bluestone is that there is still plenty to do outdoors in the colder months of the year.

As long as you come armed with wellies and warm clothes (and possibly a torch) then you’ll still have an amazing time exploring the nature trails, the lake and the playground in the village.

Bluestone park village

The resort is set out so that you can get everywhere easily on foot, but if you don’t fancy walking everywhere in the cold then you can easily hire a buggy for the duration of your stay, or time your outings to make use of the free bus service that runs around the resort.

Visiting in the colder months might also mean that you get full use out of all the indoor activities on site that you might not get round to in the summer.

There’s the adventure centre that has enough to keep the children happy for hours at a time. And coffee and wifi for the parents.

The main indoor attraction for my family has always been the blue lagoon, and swimming here when it’s cold is a brilliant experience.

The lazy river takes you outside and it is something else when the cold air hits you for the first time!

We also absolutely loved the frost lagoon experience on our winter break. The pool stays open a bit later on these days, so you can swim after dark. There is music playing and disco lights flashing, and the pretty surreal experience of going from that to looking up at dark skies in the freezing cold when the lazy river takes you outside.

Frost lagoon bluestone wales

Bluestone is still busy in the lead up to Christmas, but again we didn’t notice it feel busy while we were there.

At other times in the autumn and winter though it may be quieter than the warmer months which some people might prefer.

You also have the added bonus of the local area being quieter too at these off-peak times of the year. You might not think of going to the beach on a chilly day, but it’s amazing to have the whole place pretty much to yourself. And you can still have so much fun, building sandcastles, exploring and even flying kites on windy autumnal days.

So, there are so many reasons to visit Bluestone at any time of year, I’m really not sure if there is one season or another that is actually better than any other.

It all depends what you’re looking for in a holiday really.

The one thing I preferred about our May trip was that we were able to spend longer outdoors. It felt like we were able to squeeze more out of each day because we were out exploring later into the afternoons and early evenings.

When we went in December though it was just magical.

I really don’t think I could pick between the two holidays as to which was my favourite. What’s so lovely about Bluestone is that they have found a great balance between keeping some things the same, so it’s familiar and almost like coming home when you go back for another stay, and updating things and moving with the seasons.

There are festivals throughout the year, celebrating the changing seasons and making a holiday at any time feel like something really special.

So I’m sorry if this post hasn’t actually helped you decide the perfect time of year for you to book a holiday to Bluestone, but as far as I’m concerned there is no bad time to go!

Disclosure – We were given a four night stay at Bluestone, including tickets to the Kingdom of the Elves, but all words and opinions are my own.

Kingdom of the elves Christmasland Bluestone Wales

Kingdom of the elves 2018 at Bluestone Wales

Ever since our holiday to Bluestone in May 2017 the children have been asking, on a regular basis, when we were going to go back.

We all had such an amazing time that I was just as keen as they were to go for another break there.  Having been to Bluestone in the summer before though, we really liked the idea of going in the winter to see how different an experience it would be.

So we were unbelievably excited when I had an email asking if we would like to go for a 4 night break in December, including a visit to the Kingdom of the Elves.  Quite a few of our friends have been to the Kingdom of the Elves over the last few years and have always raved about it.

If you’ve never been before though, you might not really know what I’m talking about.  So keep reading to find out all about our adventure to Elftopia.

Kingdom of the Elves at Bluestone Wales


The Kingdom of the Elves takes place in the adventure centre at Bluestone so it’s really easy to find.

As soon as we walked through the main door at the adventure centre we knew we were in the right place.  There were Christmas trees and piles of presents just inside the doors, perfect for a quick photo opportunity.

Adventure centre Bluestone Kingdom of the elves


Once we got into the reception area we were greeted straight away by a friendly elf asking if we were off to the Kingdom of the Elves.  He took our names, gave the children their special passports and told us where we needed to go to get started.

We made our way round and were led through with the rest of our group to the ticket master to get the children’s passports stamped.

Then we moved through to the first stage of the journey.

Another elf came along and filled us in on what we would be getting up to.  He told us that the Elf King had been turned into a nutcracker toy by the Mouse King, and we needed to take him back to Sugar Plum Land to break the curse and turn him back.

King nutcracker Bluestone Kingdom of the elves

The children were all given really lovely elf outfits to put on (and keep) and then they had little rosy cheeks painted on.

Well, lots of the other children in the group did this while Rhys and Nerys both got really shy and refused to get dressed up.  So I carried their outfits for them, hoping they might decide to wear them another time.

Honestly, we weren’t really sure how well the whole experience would go at this point as both the children seemed so unwilling to join in.  Luckily they warmed up relatively quickly and did get stuck in, and I was relieved to see some other children in the group didn’t put their elf outfits on either so we weren’t the only ones!


Once everyone was ready we were taken on to the train to head off to Elftopia.


The train journey to the Kingdom of the Elves was great fun and really well done.  The seats sort of vibrated slightly, in a way that made it feel like we were actually moving, and there was a big screen on the wall that looked like a window, showing us the landscape we were riding through.

I was sat on the end of a row of seats, right next to the conductor and felt like I was in the front row at a comedy club at times.  A dad-joke comedy club, in the best possible way.  I heard so many puns on that journey and they were all brilliant.

At one point the train started flying and we went through some clouds.  We went past cloud 9, and a few other funny ones that I can’t remember off the top of my head.  The one that did really tickle me though was Jean Cloud Van Damme.


By the end of the train journey Rhys and Nerys were feeling more relaxed and had started to enjoy themselves which was a big relief.

We got off the train and headed into Mother Ginger’s kitchen.

Mother Ginger told us that the children would need their energy to battle the mice in the next part of the journey, so they were given some gingerbread men to decorate and eat.


Mother Ginger was helped by Marshall Mallow and they were both brilliant and really engaging for the children.

Mother Ginger's kitchen Bluestone Kingdom of the elves (1)


Once the children had all finished with their gingerbread men the lights were changed to blue light for a bit which we all really enjoyed.

It was great fun to look around and realise how many different things were glowing, including all the paintings on the wall and the special passports.

Mother Ginger's kitchen black light Bluestone Kingdom of the elves


From Mother Ginger’s kitchen we made our way to a beautiful garden to meet the Sugar Plum Fairy.

It must take ages to put together the rooms in the Kingdom of the Elves, the attention to detail is brilliant and the creativity and artwork is amazing.

The Sugar Plum Fairy herself was just perfect.  She really looked the part and the way she spoke was soft and sweet and just right for a fairy.  She told us that this was the point where the children must battle the mouse army (the adults) to be able to save the King.

Nerys was a bit nervous about joining in, but Rhys jumped straight in to make sure the children won.  We had to rush around putting balls into a big watering can on the wall, and to be honest the adults didn’t stand a chance against the determined children!

Sugarplum fairy Bluestone Kingdom of the elves


The next challenge was a little mini golf game, where we were pitted against the children again to get as many balls in the hole as possible.

It was great fun, and I think every child and every adult did join in and give it a go which was lovely.

Sugarplum fairy competition Bluestone Kingdom of the elves


Once the competition was over and the mice had conceded defeat, we all went through to the final part of the kingdom.

The nutcracker ball.

I think I may have genuinely ‘oooohhed’ when I walked into this room.  It just looked so pretty, full of fairy lights and with stars hanging from the mirrored ceiling.

Snow ball Bluestone Kingdom of the elves


As we walked in we were greeted by the Elf Queen who thanked us for bringing the King back to her.

Then she placed the nutcracker in special room where he magically changed back into the Elf King.

Nerys in particular was amazed when he walked into the ball, and I loved seeing how solid her believe in the magic of it all was.  After thanking us all for saving him, the King and Queen then signed all the children’s passports for them.

Snow ball King Bluestone Kingdom of the elves


The whole event ended with a little disco, with a fun dance routine led by the king and queen.

Rhys got in the spirit of things by flossing and Nerys had a bit of a boogie too, while I just enjoyed watching the king and queen bust out some cool moves!

Snow ball King Queen Bluestone Kingdom of the elves


We had an absolutely brilliant time at the Kingdom of the Elves, I really can’t fault it at all.

I was a bit worried that it might not live up to the expectations that I had after hearing all my friends rave about it but, honestly, if anything it was even better than I expected.

The cast were amazing and didn’t break character once which, considering how many times a day they must do this, was really impressive and really made the experience something special.


If you’ve been thinking about visiting Bluestone around Christmastime I would definitely say go for it!

We all came away feeling so festive and the whole Kingdom of the Elves experience was just magical and absolutely lived up to the high expectations we had for it.


Disclosure – We were given a four night stay at Bluestone, including tickets to the Kingdom of the Elves, for the purpose of this review, but all words and opinions are my own.

Natural cleaners Forest Hog

Cleaning the natural way with Forest Hog

When it comes to cleaning my house I like to just get the job done as quickly as possible.  So I tend to pick out products that I know will be effective and efficient, and more often than not this means I end up buying chemical-based all purpose cleaners and cleaning wipes.

I’ve been aware lately though that maybe I should look for more eco-friendly alternatives, that are more natural and less harmful to the environment.

So I was really happy to be asked to try some natural cleaning products from Forest Hog.  I’ve been testing them for a few weeks now and have to say I’ve been really impressed with the results.

Cleaning the natural way with forest hog


Forest Hog have a great range of cleaning products to tackle pretty much any mess you can think of.

I was sent some home cleaning spray, laundry cream, dirt buster and dish washing liquid to try out so I could get a really good feel for the whole range.

Forest Hog natural cleaning products


I normally use standard cleaning products that I can pick up at the supermarket along with my weekly shop, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I opened the box that arrived from Forest Hog.

When I picked out the first bottle my initial reaction was that it didn’t feel as substantial as the products I’m used to, it had a strange bit of ‘give’ to it when I held it.

After a bit of investigating though I was happy to find that this is because Forest Hog use the most ‘natural’ plastic available to make it best for recycling after use.  This combined with the fact that the contents can change structure a bit in different environments means that the bottles don’t hold their shape as firmly as others do.

I think this actually adds to the product’s charm, and is a nice little reminder that everything in there is as natural as possible.


So, time for a closer look at the different products I’ve been trying out.


Squeaky dishes – natural dishwashing liquid

This dish washing liquid is nice and thick, so you only need to use a little bit at a time.

Honestly, you really don’t need to use much of this at all.  It’s triple concentrated so a few drops in a sink of hot water goes a long way.

Forest Hog squeaky dishes washing liquid


I’ve used this washing up liquid for all sorts of dishes, pans and utensils and everything has come out lovely and clean.

The liquid has a nice mild orange scent, thanks to the orange oil that is one of its very few ingredients.  It’s quite a subtle scent which I really like, and the liquid still foams nicely which, as silly as it may sound, makes using it a nice experience.


You can use the liquid in a dishwasher too, just put a little bit in the dispenser tray.  Forest Hog do make a point on their website that every machine is different, so you might need to experiment with exactly how much liquid you put in.  Their advice is to try about half a tablespoon at first – less really is more with this product.



Laundry cream – natural laundry cleaner

The second product I’ve been trying out is the natural laundry cream.

Like the dish washing liquid, this cream is lovely and thick and you only need to use a small amount to get great results.

Forest Hog laundry cream


You can use the laundry cream for handwashing or in your washing machine so it’s really versatile.

It’s hypoallergenic so is great for those with sensitive skin, and can be used for all fabrics including delicates, cashmere, silk and wool.


I first tried it on its own on a load of washing that included my son’s PE kit and everything came out perfectly clean.  I wasn’t sure how soft the clothes with be as I normally use a fabric conditioner but was pleasantly surprised to find everything came out feeling lovely.

If your clothes don’t feel as soft as you’d like after a wash though, Forest Hog recommend that you gently rub the items once they’re dry to soften the fibres a bit.


We’ve not had any major stains to deal with since I’ve had this laundry cream, but if you do have some to deal with then you can rub some of the cream directly into the stain, leave it for a few minutes and then pop it in the wash.



Home spray – natural all-surface cleaner

All-surface cleaner is one of the staples of my cleaning cupboard, because it’s so quick and easy to use to get various rooms in the house clean.

This home spray looks like it goes one better than my usual products though.

Forest Hog home spray


You can use the home spray on:

  • Dirty marks on walls
  • Windows
  • Window frames
  • Ovens
  • Microwaves
  • Fridges and freezers
  • Kitchen worktops
  • Baths and showers
  • Toilets
  • Sinks
  • Tiled surfaces

You can use the spray as it comes, or you can dilute it 50/50 with water to make it stretch even further.  Either way, like with all the Forest Hog products, you don’t need to use much at all to get great results.

I’ve been using it around my kitchen and bathroom and have been really happy with how clean everything is looking.



Dirt buster gel – natural cleaning gel

The last product I’ve been testing is the dirt buster gel.  This is a super concentrated cleaning gel that can tackle so many different jobs around the house, and is also brilliant for using while camping or caravanning.

Forest Hog dirt buster gel


It’s basically a beautifully natural stain remover that you can use on anything you can imagine.

I’ve used it to clean up my kitchen sink and hobs and it worked like a charm.

You can use it to clean the oven by rubbing a small amount on the grime with a sponge, then wiping off with the scrubby side after about ten minutes.

It’s also great for stains on carpets, clothes, tents and canvas.


I really wasn’t sure what to expect before I tried the Forest Hog products, and I’ve been so pleasantly surprised by how effective they’ve all been.

I’m enjoying using the dish washing liquid for quick bits of washing up by hand, and the home spray has been great for giving the kitchen worktops a wipe down each day.  I have high hopes that all the products will last much longer than my usual buys too, making them more economical as well as so much better for the environment.


Do you use natural cleaning products at home?  How do you find them compared to other products you’ve used in the past?  


Disclaimer: I was sent some products from Forest Hog for the purpose of this review, but all words and opinions are my own.

Men's walking boots Brasher

Men’s all-weather walking kit from Blacks – review

As a family we quite often head out to the beach, the park or the local woods for a walk at the weekends.

My husband in particular likes to go walking.

Every year, for the last few years, he’s done what he calls ‘the Gower walk’ with his friend.  Basically they walk their way around Gower, which is quite a trek.

He also walks to work pretty much every day, regardless of the weather.

Which means he needs decent shoes or boots and clothing to keep him warm and dry.  So we were both thrilled when Blacks asked him if he’d like to try out some really sturdy men’s walking boots and a pair of men’s waterproof trousers to see what he thinks of them.

men's all weather walking kit from Blacks

The boots he chose are these brown leather boots from Brasher.

We both really like the look of these boots.  They are perfect for casual family walks through the woods, but also actually look smart enough for Steve to wear for work too.

The boots are waterproof which is great as he so often heads out in the rain, walking through the park to get to work.  What’s really great though is that they’re also designed to be breathable so his feet stay completely dry while wearing them.

Brasher mens boots


The Brasher boots have vibram soles which are designed to give an optimal balance of traction and durability, making the boots perfect for walking on all sorts of terrain.

They’re made for stability and comfort and hopefully they’ll stand the test of time with my husband who has a tendency to wear his boots down quite quickly!

He also quite often has trouble finding boots that fit him properly as his feet are slightly different sizes.  We got these boots in a 12 and they are a bit on the snug side for him, and as they’re brand new they feel a bit stiff at the moment.  But he’s sure that after a bit of wear the leather will soften up a bit and they’ll be just right.

Brasher men's walking boots


As well as the boots Steve was also asked for his thoughts on a pair of men’s waterproof trousers.

Steve already had a pair of waterproof trousers that he’s had a lot of use out of.  He walks to work most days, rain or shine, so they’ve come in really handy to keep him dry on his way to the office.

With this new pair of men’s Berghaus waterproof trousers he can keep one pair at home and one at work so he’ll always have some handy if it suddenly starts to pour down.

These trousers are made with AQ2 fabric which has been designed to be completely waterproof and windproof.  They’re also really breathable, and the loose liner makes the trousers comfortable to wear while still being really durable.

Berghaus men's waterproof trousers


The men’s Berghaus waterproof trousers have a zip to open up the bottom 1/4 of each leg to make them quick and easy to pull on over your normal trousers.  You can then do up the zips and fasten the bottom of each leg with the popper to secure them and keep you dry.

They’ll be perfect for the rainy weather this winter and, as far as waterproof trousers go, they look good too.  Living where we do, it won’t be long before both the boots and the trousers are really put to the test and from what we’ve seen so far they’ll do a great job of keeping Steve warm and dry.


The weather might be getting colder (and wetter) but Blacks have got a huge range of footwear and clothing for all different outdoor activities, so there’s no excuse not to get out in the fresh air this winter.


Disclaimer: The brands included in this post asked for my opinion on the products featured from their range. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Ace stain remover challenge

How to feel less stressed about dirt and mess

If your children are anything like mine they’ll come home from school covered in all sorts of dirt and who knows what else.

I try to send them off to school looking pretty presentable, with clean uniforms and nicely brushed hair.

But by the end of the day they look so dishevelled, with various stains on their tops and fabulously muddy knees.  Then I let them play in the yard and around the trees after school and they get even more filthy.  I might complain a bit about it, especially when it’s Monday and their nice clean uniforms are covered in dirt, but really I love seeing them so dirty at the end of the school day.

I know for a lot of people though the mess and dirt is quite stressful.  But it doesn’t have to be.  There are a few things you can do to feel less stressed about the state your children seem to so easily get themselves and their clothes into.

How to feel less stressed about dirt and mess


Know that dirt is good

The idea of your children getting dirty and messy is stressful for quite a lot parents.  But we need to change our thinking about this.

Dirt isn’t necessarily dirty.

And playing in the mud and the dirt can actually be really good for boosting our children’s immune systems.  So letting them get mucky can help keep them healthier than if we keep them pristine and completely germ-free.

It’s not just mud either.

Children come home from school with paint and pen and all sorts of other things on their clothes.  Nerys often comes home with toothpaste down her cardigan!  The thing to do is make this a positive thing.

A mucky child is a child who has got stuck in, who has been learning, getting hands-on experience about the world around them.

messy play at home


Have spares

Spare clothes that is.

You don’t want to spend your whole week washing dirty school clothes every day to make sure the children have something clean to wear the next day.

So it’s worth buying a few extra tops and trousers/dresses so you only need to wash things once or twice in the week.  We buy most of our uniform from the supermarket so it’s really quite cheap, which means we actually have enough polo shirts for the children to wear a fresh one every day.  They also each have 3 jumpers/cardigans each I think, and the same for trousers/dresses.


Pack spares

My children both go to school with a change of clothes in their bag.

It’s a habit from when they first both started school and there was a slight risk of toilet-related accidents, but I’m glad I’ve carried on doing it.

More than once Rhys has got so muddy during the school day that he’s had to change his clothes.  And this way he didn’t have to wear random bits from the lost property box and I didn’t have to then remember to wash and return any random clothes to school!


Stock up on washing powder and stain remover

You won’t feel so stressed about the children’s clothes getting filthy if you know you have the products at home to tackle the stains.

We were sent some ACE stain remover and ACE for colours and they’ve both been brilliant at dealing with the various marks and stains that Rhys and Nerys get on their clothes.

For most stains the best thing to do is treat them as soon as you can, on both sides of the fabric, with the stain remover and then add a capful of the other liquid to the wash.  The ACE stain remover has been developed to deal with germs, grease and stubborn stains, while ACE for colours cleans while keeping colours bright.

Stain remover ace


Teach good habits

While exposing our children to dirt and some germs is good for them, it’s also important to teach them good hygiene habits.

In the winter especially there are so many bugs about at school, children need to be taught to wash their hands properly.  A good tip is to get them to quietly sing happy birthday to themselves twice while washing their hands, to make sure they do it for long enough and thoroughly enough.

If one of the reasons you don’t like your children getting dirty is because you worry about germs, then you’ll be able to relax a bit knowing they know how to wash their hands properly while they’re away from you at school.

children wash hands


Be prepared

I always try to get the children’s things ready for school the night before, so there are no surprises or big panics in the morning.

When your children come home from school and take their uniforms off give them a quick check over.

If they’re absolutely filthy then put them in the laundry basket, or better yet give them a spray with stain remover and get them straight in the wash.  If there are just a few little marks on them you can spot clean and leave them to dry ready for the morning.

If you need clean items for the next day then get them out and ready to put on, along with underwear, so there’s no rummaging through drawers in the morning.

In the winter as well it’s worth checking school shoes when you get in, wiping off any mud and putting newspaper inside if they’re soaking wet.


Hopefully these tips will help take some of the stress out of the mess involved in raising children.

I do think though that the best thing we can do is just embrace that mess.  Accept that dirt and muck and mess is part of this stage of life, and see it as a positive thing.

It’s a sign of children being creative, active, and bold.

It’s a result of children getting stuck in, getting actively involved at school and learning so much about the world around them.

And it’ll all come out in the wash anyway!


This post is an entry for the BritMums #ACEforSchool Challenge, sponsored by ACE. Get help for all kinds of stains with the ACE Stain Helper or to buy head to your local Tesco’s, Morrison’s, Waitrose or Sainsbury’s.