Family Fun: Buggy Walks & Buggy Talks.

Soakin' up that london sun

Soakin’ up that london sun

Family Fun with: Buggy Walks & Buggy Talks….

Its fantastic when the weekend arrives & we get to spend some quality ‚Äòfamily‚Äô time together. Deciding what to do however is a fraught with much um-ing and ahr-ing.¬† Ultimately for us, the weather will have a major impact on our final choice of activity! We‚Äôre a very ‚Äòoutdoorsy‚Äô family, & whenever we have the opportunity to ‚Äòpound the streets‚Äô with Bear in his buggy, this comes up trumps. Located on the outskirts of London, we are perfectly positioned for town or country walks, today‚Äôs choice: a town walk. Out of the front door & over to Petts Wood for Brunch. Once we arrived Bear promptly evacuated his buggy for the more appealing prospect of Garden games with Nana & Granddad! & Our choice of buggy? The ‘Phil & Teds Dot’. Choosing the right buggy can be a tiresome task, & this is how we eventually settled with ours:

When we were purchasing our buggy & Bear was just a mere bump, I must have read every article possible on travel & buggy ‚Äòsystems‚Äô. Jeez, Is there a lot to take in! Given our passion for the outdoors, we decided pretty early on that a ‚Äò3 wheel‚Äô sports design would suffice for us. We opted for the Britax B-smart¬†travel system, with the isofix car seat + base. As a new parent this was very simple to use & easy for us get to grips with. Sadly though, as my little munchkin grew, became more alert & upright (like the modern day man!) I noticed he wasn‚Äôt at all comfortable in the seat of the B-smart. It appeared the seat needed to incline further & to compensate for the lack of this he had to pull himself forward. I‚Äôm not sure if this was a one off faulty buggy or an overall issue with this particular design. Panic started to ensue within me! I adored the robustness of the B-Smart & i felt assured using a brand such as ‘Britax’. Having already spent the time researching & splashing out a fair amount of cash, what would i do now that it appeared ‘not fit’ ? Paying that kind of large sum again¬†wouldn’t be possible.

I contacted Britax (their customer service was pretty good) & because the purchased was made through Mothercare, they directed me back to a store for help. Off I trotted down there. Slightly apprehensive, I demonstrated to the manager what was wrong, & he totally agreed. I received such good customer service; my mind was instantly put at ease. Luckily, because the buggy was within it‚Äôs guarantee & deemed ‚Äòfaulty‚Äô, I was able to exchange it. Hesitant to go for the same design again, incase the issue would reoccur, I exchange for a different make & model. Electing this time for the Phil & Teds Dot¬†. It‚Äôs just slightly smaller than the original Phil & Teds (read all about it here). What a great decision! We‚Äôve had it for 1 & ¬Ω years now, & I have no complaints. The fantabulous thing about this design is that it‚Äôs a ‚Äòfully adaptable‚Äô stroller for 2 children. Of course, I‚Äôm not trying to drop any¬†subtle not so subtle hints’ to my darling hubbie (would I?), but it makes a great choice for the possibility of siblings!

Phil & Teds dot. Look- the child who 'never sleeps' sleeps!! That's gotta be a good stroller!!

Phil & Teds dot. Look- the child who ‘never sleeps’ sleeps!! That’s gotta be a good stroller!!

Mummy push...bear push!

Bear push….mummy push!

I use ours with a Bowron¬†stroller lambskin fleece & I‚Äôd highly recommend the benefit of these: it’ll stop bubba from getting all sweaty betty in hot weather but keeps them snug as a bug in the winter. On our trips to sunnier climes, it has been a godsend-keeping bear from over heating.

Omnomnom... Ice cream & lambskin keeping bear cool

Omnomnom… Ice cream & lambskin keeping bear cool

For our ‘world’ travels, I did purchase a ‘umbrella’ stroller: the Maclaren Techno XT . It may sound extravagant to have bought a ‘holiday’ buggy, but hear me out; I think this is well founded. I picked mine up on eBay, second hand for £70 & being a well-made Maclaren it was in such good condition. It’s travelled around the globe with us, has been man handled by countless ground staff & momentarily lost on the tarmac at Miami airport, fortunately to be found again (looking a little soggy) & It’s still going strong! Now, I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t fancy putting a £300 buggy like my precious ‘dot’ though all of that? I appreciate which one would dent the wallet more, if it had to be replaced!

The well travelled stroller..Maclaren techno XT

The well travelled stroller..Maclaren techno XT

A good buggy/ system can set you back a small fortune. But if you invest wisely, they can last you for years. My best tips are:

  • Buy from a retailer where you can return to store: I know there are heaps of great deals online, but there really is nothing quiet like the reassurance & convenience of being able to visit a store in the instance of any faults-as per my experience
  • Price match. Nearly all stores price match. Find your products with corresponding prices & present them to the shop. That way you can get Internet best prices in your local store. Mothercare¬†, Kiddicare¬†& John Lewis¬†(to name a few) all engage in price matching. & Remember, if you don‚Äôt ask, you don‚Äôt get.
  • Try before you buy. Kiddicare Lakeside has a huge area for ‚Äòtest driving‚Äô strollers. & The best bit? No ‚ÄòLearner plates‚Äô required-even if you are a novice! Baby shows are also handy for this.
  • Buy what is best suited for you. Don‚Äôt be influenced by celebs: what they use more than likely has been ‚Äògifted‚Äô as a form of PR. So don‚Äôt believe the hype.
  • Less is, well, less. Space is key, so buy according to your available space & weight tolerances‚Ķ. These pieces of equipment can weigh as much as a small army tank. Great at toning your arms, but also great at ‚Äòputting your back out‚Äô! Check the dimensions will fit in your car, or how suitable they‚Äôll be on public transport.
  • Research. Narrow down your choices & check the reviews. You‚Äôll find these splashed all around the Internet (Which? are always great at unbiased opinions).
  • Check your home contents insurance. In fact, at the same time have a look at what other ‚Äòbaby‚Äô equipment might be covered. Children are an expensive hobby!

As I write this London basking in some unseasonably warm sun & we have been taking full advantage of every ray: We dusted off the cobwebs on ‘dot’, pumped up her tyres & I’ve been let loose on those pavements again! Watch out pedestrians…….we’re going a’ cruising’ & “I’m rollin’ with ma homie’!

Family Fever
I’ve linked this with My family Fever: go check out the other tried & tested reviews this week!

The Trouble with travelling & Coeliac disease

My trouble with traveling & being a ‘coeliac’. Enter Grumpy face (apologies in advance):

Grrrrrr. Travelling in London with Coeliac disease makes me pull this face. How unattractive!!

Grrrrrr. Travelling in London with Coeliac disease makes me pull this face. How unattractive!!

Off on a adventure? Regardless of the duration that your journey takes, I’m prepared to bet my bottom dollar that your bag will no doubt weigh a ton. You’ll want to be well prepared with food so that you’re never caught out. & Here lies another grumble of mine: this form of weight lifting contributes to my back shouting ‘owchieeee’ & pain that I could just do with out, thanks. Now in this instance, my example rant is just of a London trip, across the capital for a day of boring & laborious appointments. Traveling abroad? Well, that’s a topic worthy of its own post entirely.

oh, 'ello, 'ello London. We meet again

oh, ‘ello, ‘ello London. We meet again

I’m writing this from the waiting room of a major London hospital. & I happen think the worst place I’ve found for grabbing a ‘quick’ on the go lunch or snack free of gluten monsters are: Hospitals. The very place that’s supposed help contribute towards being ‘healthy’ (overlooking the germs & seasonal rounds of diarrhea & vomiting, but you get my drift) is the very place I fear the most for finding gluten free grub. The on site canteen may have a few options, but quite honestly looks like the dogs dinner, a monstrous pile of ‘slop‘ that I’d rather run in the opposite direction from than actually consume. You’ll find most London based hospitals now have the obligatory high street-franchised ‘coffee’ shop, oh & surprise surprise; they have absolutely no gluten free foods. Zilch. Bloody brilliant, isn’t it? Maybe I talk in a foreign tongue, for when in either of these establishments I ask the staff: what (if any) produce is gluten free? My question is often met by a blank expression & the really helpful response ‘what is gluten?‚Äô. (Um, that’ll be ‘nothing’ then?)

I don’t expect bob & his uncle (who is bob anyway?) to have a textbook understanding of coeliac disease & a encyclopedia full of gluten free products. I do think, those who are selling food should be educated/ wise with the knowledge to some level of their produce. After all, I’m not asking them to run off the whole list of ingredients. & To the point, they’re still a ‘sales(wo)man’ to some capacity, & you’re hardly ‘selling’ it to me with your blank reaction.

If you’re traveling to a static destination then I think these woes are put to rest somewhat. & If you have the luxury of time to research & find a gluten free ‘hero’ cafe & plan a diversion, this is all well & good. But on-the-go no time for diverting fills me with a little dread. What about you?

I did see on twitter just this last week that Warburton‚Äôs dedicated Gluten free range: Newburn bakehouse are now stocking a ‘wrap’ option in limited Starbucks‚Äô outlets. & Whilst I applaud this, I emphasise the limited. On the subject of Newburn bakehouse, have you tried their wraps? In old fashioned ‚Äòblue peter‚Äô style‚Ķ.here is one I made earlier.

Mmm, gluten free wrap

Mmm, gluten free wrap- Brie & Rocket

I’ve also heard from fellow coeliac sufferers, that Café Nero is supposed to stock some gluten free sarnies, but it appears we are still waiting for this to materialize. Part of the issue in theses ‘high street’ outlets stocking good ole gluten free grab & go food, could in part be down to the lack of clarity on their products & packaging (& I refer you back to my previous point earlier about staff knowledge). Lets be honest, we generally have to exhaust the ingredients list to rule out any gluten nastiness, & when time is of the essence this just isn’t practical. If you’re anything like me & have doubts you just don’t take the risk.

In the same way that the UK high street & town scene has adopted the ‘café culture’ where you can easily take your pick from at least 3 coffee shops all within a stones throw of each other, I’m hopeful* for a future of ‘gluten-free-in-abundance-culture’. A future that sees all these said ‘cawfeee’ shops have on offer: several clearly marked, reasonable priced, gluten free ‘take out’ options. *Wishful might be more fitting!

At least on my homebound journey I can report that my bag, which at the start of the day nearly touched the floor, is now considerably lighter (after ingesting my yum yums) & I can relax knowing I’m heading back to my gluten free comfort zone.

Buh Bye London, you stayed dry today-bonus!

Buh Bye London, you stayed dry today-bonus!