Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Trutex School Uniform - A Review

When it comes to school uniform, my kids love to put it through its paces and push it to the limits of being tear and scuff resistant. They seem to think that uniform thoroughly enjoys being smothered in paint and mud and then washed on a daily basis. The truth is that because of this, I often buy supermarket brand school uniform so that when it comes to being replaced (trousers especially) it doesn't hurt my pocket too much and its affordable enough to replace on a fairly frequent basis.

I was therefore delighted to be provided with the opportunity to test and review some of the Trutex range of school clothing and learn more about the brand. The company has been supplying quality clothing for over 150 years and are the leading brand in school uniform within the UK. Trutex claim on their website that their uniform is made to last, and with such a statement to live up to, I couldn't wait to ask my daughter to put it to the test.

The Trutex website provides a full catalogue of their clothing range, along with a store locator so that you are able to find your nearest stockist with ease. I was pleased to find that there were 10 stockists within a 15 mile radius of my home address and the address, contact number and distance was provided for each one.


Their school uniform comes in a range of different colours to suit schools requirements, and it was great to see that maroon was an option which is my children's primary school main uniform colour. The range includes the following items:
  • Boys Shirts
  • Girls Blouses
  • Knitwear
  • Sweatshirts
  • Jogging Pants
  • Polo Shirts
  • Boys Trousers
  • Boys Shorts
  • Girls Trousers
  • Skirts
  • Blazers
  • Pinafores
  • Outerwear
  • AKOA Sportswear
As you can see this is an extensive list, and each category features items in numerous sizes and colours so you can be sure to find something in the Trutex range that fits your school uniform needs.

My daughter and I chose to test some Jogging Pants (Code JTP), Cotton Blend Cardigan (Code CAC), and Junior Girls Trousers (Code JGTB). My daughter wears both skirts and trousers throughout the year depending on the cold, so with the weather being poor at present we decided it would be the prime opportunity to test the trousers as opposed to a skirt.

Jogging Pants

In my daughters school, jogging pants are part of the PE school uniform, however children are also allowed to wear them to school on cold days, or on PE/Swimming days to make getting changed quicker and easier. The jogging pants we received featured an elasticated waist and cuffed ankles, and also had pockets. They were suitable for washing on a 40 degree wash as well as being able to go in the tumble dryer. The fabric was made up of 65% polyester and 35% cotton and they had a lovely soft warm feel to them, which my daughter says was very comfortable.


One thing that often annoys me about jogging pants and sweatshirts in particular is bobbling, however these jogging pants have a low bobble feature which should hopefully prevent that when being regularly washed.

My daughter wore these to school on a couple of cold PE days and said that they were very comfortable, and that she was able to move freely in them without feeling any pulling or stretching around the waist. The cuffed ankles made them rest comfortably above her trainers and fitted snugly over her socks meaning no cold feet or ankles.

The inside was very warm and soft and they were very easy to get on and off, making getting changed in school much easier and quicker. My daughter liked the fact that there were pockets as it meant that when she has to remove her earrings for P.E, that she could keep them in her pocket safe and somewhere where she would remember.


(Picture - The soft fleecy inner fabric).

There is an inner draw cord, which my daughter hasn't needed to use yet, however as with any child size and weight can change quickly, so it is also beneficial to know that there is some adjustability in the jogging pants should she need it in the future.

The joggers have so far been washed 3 times on a 40 degree wash and have been tumble dried twice and left hung to dry once. The fabric came up much softer after being in the tumble dryer so I shall continue to use this method of drying going forwards, as it made both the inner and outer material have a much nicer feel to it, than when it was hung to dry. There has been no fading to any parts of the jogging pants which I find can sometimes happen with supermarket brands, especially around the waistband and pocket areas. As I have only washed these three times so far, then I would not have expected any visible changes from any clothing product, but I have been impressed that the jogging pants have retained their soft and comfy feel and I shall update this post again in a months time to provide an update on washing and drying once they have reached at least 20 washes.

In terms of the playground test, my daughter has fallen over twice already whilst wearing these. Both times were on muddy grass as opposed to concrete, but the mud was easily removed, and their was no damage to either of the knees which is always a good sign.

Cotton Blend Cardigan

I was very keen to try this particular product out, as I have always purchased the school branded cardigan in the past, but have found that after a few wears it has got quite baggy around the waist area which my daughter really doesn't like as it stops looking smart and becomes noticeable. Therefore after going to school smart for a couple of weeks in her cardigan, shirt and tie at the beginning of the school year, she has usually switched back to her school sweatshirt by the time of October half term.


Again this product had a nice soft feel to it, and immediately you could tell that it looked a great quality item. It was nicely fitted, so not too loose but also not too tight with a shirt and tie underneath. The buttons were easy to use and not too stiff and the arm length was perfect. Arm length is another annoyance of mine as this can vary so much between brands and I sometimes find that despite selecting the right size for my daughter, the sleeves can end up looking too short.


The cardigan is made up of 39% cotton, 39% acrylic and 22% nylon and like the joggers it has a low bobble feature. and can go in both a forty degree wash and the tumble dryer. Since receiving this item the product has been washed on 4 occasions and it has retained its shape and colour well without any issues. There has been no shrinkage to the item, and despite several yoghurt and food spillages down the top, there has been no colour change or fading anywhere on the cardigan. There is also a nice shape and good quality stitching to the neck area.


I thought that the cardigan was a nice length, and fitted nicely over trousers, covering the waist nicely and being long enough to hide any zips and buttons on trousers.

Junior Girls Trousers

This product was my favourite of the three and I felt that my daughter looked really smart wearing these together with the cardigan. The fitted nicely and there was also an elasticated back waist if you did need any flexibility with the sizing.


The trouser legs had a pressed leg shape which sat nicely over her shoes and came down at just the right length.

The fabric is made up of 63% Polyester, 33% Viscose and 4% Elastane and the stretch fit meant that my daughter felt really comfortable wearing them. She enjoys being active in the playground some days and often plays games with her friends, and so it is important to me that she is able to move around without any discomfort or feeling of tightness. Emma said that they fit really well and that she has been able to run around the playground without any issue and feels more relaxed wearing trousers as opposed to a skirt.


In terms of wear, my daughter did have one bump on the playground whilst wearing them but there was no tear or damage to any of the fabric. She also caught them on part of the fencing at the school and despite them having a bit of a tug, there was no rip, much to my relief.

The product has washed well, maintained its sizing and shape and they are very easy to iron. Anything which makes ironing less of a chore is a winner in my book and a much needed help. My daughter has received several compliments whilst wearing them, and one of her friends also asked where she had got them from.

Overall

Overall, we have been very pleased with the quality of all three items. School uniform can go through so many things on a daily basis and it can become quite a chore having to repeatedly wash, clean, dry and iron items, or regularly have to replace them. As I mentioned previously, it is because of this reason that I usually purchase supermarket brands so that they are affordable to replace. However after experiencing the quality of these products so far, I have been very impressed and shall definitely be looking to purchase more of the Trutex brand for my other children too in the near future.

If you would like to find your nearest stockist of Trutex school uniform, then there is a great store locator which can be found here: School Uniform

*Disclaimer - I was provided with 3 items of school uniform to test and review and provide an honest opinion of our experience with the products. All opinons are my own.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Prestige Flowers - A Review

I still remember the first time that I was bought a beautiful bouquet of flowers and how special and loved it made me feel. It was a couple of days before my wedding and my husband (fiance at the time) had arranged for a huge bouquet of flowers to be delivered to my workplace. I remember everyone stopping by my desk to admire them, and my colleagues asking questions about who had bought them for me and why.

With the ordering of flowers now easily accessible online, without a trip to the local florist, it is a great way to show someone special just how much you care. Flowers have the amazing ability to make you feel loved and generate a great feeling of happiness. It is also a lovely feeling to know that at a certain moment in time, you were the only person on someones mind when they were busy arranging such a lovely gesture and gift.

Prestige Flowers have a fantastic website, which features a whole host of flower arrangements for all occasions and to suit most budgets. The site is very user friendly and easy to navigate, and the categories displayed across the top of the page make it easy to find the perfect gift for your loved one or friend. It is also a pleasure to the eye to be able to see a selection of their beautiful bouquets on the home page, which really do leave you spoilt for choice.


A few days ago, I was fortunate to receive a beautiful bouquet from Prestige Flowers. It came delivered in a lovely box, that was nicely decorated and well presented. The box was easy to carry with useful handles cut into the box, and it wasn't too heavy to bring in from the doorstep to the living room. Enclosed inside was a flower care guide, a small box of chocolates and the stunning flowers that were neatly and safely wrapped.



My stunning bouquet came in a sleek black wrapping, and a black gift bag with long handles to make it easy to remove from the box. It featured 12 red roses, arranged with hypericum berries and folded aspidistra leaves and looked amazing. My living room is very monochrome and so it was lovely to feature deep red & green colours which complemented the room beautifully and of course added a gorgeous scent too.


Once I had removed all the packaging they were even more breathtaking and I promptly found a lovely vase to display them in, and placed them on my unit in the corner of the living room where any visitors would be sure to notice them.


The flower care guide was a nice addition as it provided information specific to caring for the roses on the inside, along with information on Lily care, Tulip's and Freesia which is ideal to put aside for future reference. It also enclosed a lovely a surprise of a £5 voucher which can be used against future purchases, and on the reverse there were 7 essential tips listed which are always useful to know. The guide is only little so it is easy to store away and refer to when needed.


As mentioned previously, the flowers also came with a lovely little box of chocolate truffles and oh my they were delicious. I am not the biggest chocolate fan, but these bite sized truffles were literally a melt in the mouth delight. I had hidden them from the children so it was also great to not have to share them!



I really enjoyed arranging the flowers into the vase and I am sure you will agree they looked stunning. I have had so many compliments this week from guests all asking where they were from. The great thing about Prestige Flowers is that their Valentine's range starts from only £19.99 and so I had no issue in recommending them to my friends and family as I believe that their bouquets offer excellent value for money. You can also add additional gifts such as balloons, teddies, champagne and chocolates to make a lovely bundle.


Nearly a week later and the roses still look fantastic, and the berries have also started to open into a beautiful yellow colour. I have had them placed in the corner of the room, but I've also moved them in the vase to the window for a few hours each day to ensure that they were in the sunlight and I think that this has helped to keep them in great condition, along with the advice provided in the flower care guide.


Overall I have been really impressed with Prestige Flowers and I would gladly recommend them to others. The bouquet was stunning, but I also think it is important to get the little things right too, such as the packaging and delivery as these all add to the experience, and Prestige Flowers seem to have got this just right. The user friendly website, competitive and reasonable pricing, and their stunning ranges all help to make Prestige Flowers a go to site for your next flower bouquet. With Valentines Day fast approaching, why not check out their wonderful Valentine's flowers and gifts here: Valentine Flowers



*Disclaimer - I was provided with a complimentary bouquet of flowers for the purpose of providing an honest and impartial review. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Riley's 4th Birthday!

Well yesterday was a day filled with celebrations for my son Riley who enjoyed his 4th Birthday! He has been counting down since the beginning of January and was so excited to wake up yesterday morning and celebrate his special day with family and friends.

We began the day by gathering in the living room at 6:30am despite my best efforts to get him to sleep in just that little bit longer. We had placed all his presents in front of the fire, and he excitedly opened them one by one. Riley loves pretend play and at Christmas he received a wooden kitchen set from Santa and so we had purchased some new wooden toys to complement this including a wooden cake stand with pretend cakes, a wooden toaster set, and some play food. We also bought him the Rumble in the Jungle book that he has mentioned a few times since starting nursery, along with a new pair of trainers, a chefs outfit, shopping till, a post office playset and some jigsaws and games.


We often struggle with what to buy him with it only being a month since Christmas, but with plenty of pretend play toys out there at reasonable prices, it was a lot easier this year and he was delighted with all his gifts.

Next was the family tradition of cake for breakfast! To be honest I often get quite tempted to do this anyway regardless of whether its a family birthday or not, with the argument being that it must be someones birthday somewhere, however for the kids this is only "approved" on official family birthdays!


Riley was on the afternoon nursery session so it meant that he had all morning to play with his new toys. He was also really looking forward to seeing his friends in the afternoon, and so we popped out to Asda just before nursery to go and buy some cupcakes for all his friends. His nursery group is only small with about 10 children in the class and they are all such lovely children that it makes me happy to know he has such a lovely group of friends. He has always been quite shy when it comes to mixing with other children, and so it has been great to see him build friendships and watch his confidence grow. The fact that he couldn't wait to get to school made me smile and he was so excited to take his cakes in to give to his friends.

Neither of my other two children have had their birthdays in school time, as Emma's always falls in October half term, and Ben's is always during the Christmas holidays, so I was unsure if they would do anything special or sing Happy Birthday. When he came out of school he excitedly told me all about his afternoon and how everyone had sang to him, and that he had been given a birthday balloon and sticker. He felt so proud showing off his sticker and informing everyone that it was his birthday. I was so pleased that they had made the afternoon special for him.


After school, we headed to Nana and Grandad's house where he received even more presents (Flashing Paw Patrol wellies, pyjamas, lunch box & juice cup set and a Paw Patrol activity book). Grandad had decorated the dining room for him with banners and balloons and Nana had made an amazing hot and cold buffet feast.

I had asked Riley a few weeks ago whether he wanted a party, but he had said that he just wanted a family party so that was exactly what we did. He was very specific about which food he wanted there and had given Nana a list beforehand of his food demands and had also instructed her that he wanted 2 games of pass the parcel. (Of course he won both games). Grandad became the resident DJ in charge of the music, and we had a great time dancing, singing and eating!

Riley said that he had an amazing day, and cannot wait until his 5th birthday party so that he can do it all over again! Happy Birthday Riley!

Friday, 20 January 2017

Aquabeads Hello Kitty Jewel Fashion Set - A Review

You may remember that just before Christmas we were given the opportunity to review the fantastic  Finding Dory Aquabeads set. My children had a great time creating their favourite Finding Dory characters and so we were delighted to be given the chance to become part of the Aquabeaders group and review some more products from the Aquabeads product range.



A couple of days ago we received the Aquabeads Hello Kitty Jewel Fashion Set and my children couldn't wait to get making some more creations to add to their collection. The box was a nice square compact size, and featured a nice clear image on the front of the Hello Kitty case that was enclosed within. There were several images of the creations that could be made along with a young girl posing with the case to help give you a clear understanding of the size of the product.


The reverse of the box also had a very clear picture of exactly what was enclosed along with a list of contents which are:
  • Over 600 jewel and solid beads
  • 1 x Hello Kitty bead case
  • 4 x template sheets
  • 1 x layout tray
  • 1 x sprayer
  • 1 x bead pen
  • 1 x instructions
There is also a 3 step picture guide that shows how the product works, as well as some brief written instructions on the right hand side. I really like how Aquabeads add as much information to the packaging as possible to help consumers understand exactly what they are buying and what is included. I believe that this helps buyers to make an informed choice as to whether this would be suitable for their child and if it is something they would enjoy.


Inside the box the beads were all wrapped up in their own individual pouch for each colour. I'm not sure if it is just me, but I always struggle to open small plastic packaging like sauces in cafe's etc, and the beads packaging was no different. We therefore resorted to good old scissors to cut the bags open and pour the beads into the Hello Kitty bead case. There were more of some bead colours than others and we struggled to fit some of the colours in, but just about managed it.

There were two bags of white beads for obvious reasons as this is the most used colour in the Hello Kitty designs and so we kept one bag of white beads unopened in the box for future use, for when the first lot run out.


It had originally been my intention to try out this particular set out with my daughter Emma, however my son Riley was with me when this was delivered and then opened the parcel in my absence whilst I was making a coffee and as such, he claimed reviewing rights over Emma to try it out first. He really enjoyed the Finding Dory set we had tried out previously and so he wanted to be the first in the family to try this set too, but agreed that Emma could help him, and could also then have a go after him. (He's not a bad negotiator for a three year old!).



Once we had unwrapped all the items, we filled the sprayer with water, selected which template we were going to try first and we were good to go. I found that the sprayer with this set was much easier to use than the one we had received with the Finding Dory set with this one being a pump action spray as opposed to a squeezy one.



The set also came with a bead pen, and we found this particularly useful for the tricky bits at the end, or where you only have a couple of beads of a certain colour and it is hard to get them in to place. For the main part of the designs we generally prefer to just use our fingers which is exactly what we did!

I really enjoy doing this activity with Riley, and love watching him select the right colours and make sure that they are in the right place on the board. It helps to improve hand to eye co-ordination, as well as recognising shapes and colours, and so it is great that something which is so fun and creative, is also a fab learning tool too.


After a short while, Riley had finished his Hello Kitty creation, and so he sprayed it all over with the water sprayer and we left it to dry. We had done the activity prior to bedtime as this meant that I could leave it to dry overnight without Riley wanting to check on it every couple of minutes. It also meant that as soon as Riley went to bed, Emma could have a go and complete the apple and cake templates too.


In the morning Riley was very excited to check whether his design was ready. He wanted to try and remove it from the board himself, which he did really well until the very last corner where we ended up losing one of the beads from the bow.

To be honest, I was actually glad this had happened, as I had read that you could reattach beads easily  by simply placing the bead back in the correct area and respraying the water. It therefore provided me with the perfect opportunitity to test this, and so we resprayed the loose bead and left it for an hour.

When we returned an hour later, we were pleased to find that the whole design was perfect and stuck all in one piece, and it now has pride of place on Riley's shelf alongside some of his other creations.

Overall opinion

Aquabeads are one of my favourite creative toys, and I really enjoy helping the kids to make their designs. It is a fun activity, that also requires some level of concentration and so it helps to keep my children focused on what they are doing. I definitely preferred the water sprayer in this set as it was much easier to use for all of us, and there was a nice range of templates that included some small easy ones that were very quick and easy to do, but also some larger more complex Hello Kitty designs.

The case is a lovely pink Hello Kitty shaped design which has a nice appearance and makes an excellent storage box for the beads and pen. This allows you to store the product both neatly and safely.

I have been very impressed with both Aquabeads products that we have reviewed and look forward to completing many more creations with my family in the future.

Disclaimer: This particular product is recommended for children age 4+ however I allowed my 3 year old son to do this under my supervision. (He will also be 4 in less than a week).

I was provided with this product complimentary, in exchange for an honest impartial review. All opinions are my own.

Product contains small parts and as such parental supervision is reommended.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Dry Kids Clothing - A Review

My family and I live in Wales, and as such, the weather can be pretty unpredictable at the best of times. With an expert 3 year old puddle jumper and professional mud seeker on my hands, my washing machine sees plenty of action, in addition to clothes being soaked or ruined on a regular basis.

As you may have seen in my last couple of posts, we recently visited the Bluestone National Park Resort for a holiday in Pembrokeshire, South Wales. I had read reviews beforehand and so I was aware that there were no washing machines in any of the lodges. This left me slightly concerned about just how many clothes I would need to pack for my children and how many pairs of trousers we would go through. I was therefore delighted when I came across the Dry Kids Clothing range and they kindly agreed to provide my son Riley with one of their Waterproof All-in-Ones to try out and put to the test.

I think it's important to let kids be kids and enjoy the outdoors. I don't agree in stopping the fun just because of the weather, and I think if children are dressed appropriately then an outdoor adventure can be enjoyed in most weather conditions, with the added bonus that most attractions and parks are really quiet when it rains. I also try and encourage my children to enjoy walking to school, and the different weather can make a boring school run, seem all the more fun, whether that be chasing leaves in the wind, jumping in puddles, or snowball fights (when we are lucky enough to get some snow). It was great therefore to not only use the All-in-One on holiday but also on the way to and from school and for visits to parks and attractions.

The Website

Dry Kids UK offer a wide range of outdoor clothing for sale, including over trousers, wellies, all-in-ones and waterproof jackets. The Dry Kids clothing range come in a nice variety of colours with new styles also being added to the website throughout the year. As well as their own range of clothing, they also offer some other products for sale, all at reasonable prices.

The website is very user friendly, and it is easy to navigate through the pages, with each category clearly displayed at the top of the home page. At the bottom of the page there is also clear company information and policies available to view, as well as a handy sizing guide, product care guide and a link to the Dry Kids blog page.

The products all have numerous pictures as opposed to just one catalogue image, which helps you to gain a better view and understanding of the item, meaning that you can make an informed choice on which product is best suited for your needs.

In addition to the pictures, there is clear, easy to read product information which tells you all you need to know about the garment including the materials used, the fastening, and other important facts such as whether there are elasticated wrist and ankle cuffs.

First impressions

The product came neatly presented in plastic bag style packaging. It was a compact size so it wasn't too bulky to pack for our holiday, and the product style, size and colour were clearly displayed on the outside.

Riley is very honest when it comes to clothing, he will tell me if he doesn't want to wear a particular item, or if something is bothering him. He doesn't like buttons to be done up right to the top, and prefers zips on outerwear so that he can dress himself (he likes to be very independent when possible). Therefore when I saw how excited he was to first wear the product, I knew I was on to a good thing, and he was very happy to be trying his All-in-One on for the first time.


Due to his honesty, and the fact that like most 3 year olds he says exactly what he's thinking, I knew he would be the ideal tester to review this item and we couldn't wait to get outside and see whether the Dry Kids All-in-One could live up to the job.

On getting the item out from the packaging I was pleased with the quality, and my first impressions were that for the price it offered excellent value for money retailing at only £12.95.

The Product

I had chosen the Royal Blue colour which was lovely and also featured reflective piping across the chest, back and hood, which is always great to have on children's clothing as a safety feature. I noticed that there was a large label on the inside that had space to write your child's name and class which is ideal for when using it for school. It is also available in Navy, Pink, Green and Red.


The All-in-One was really easy to get on and off as the zip runs right to the bottom of one leg, so when it comes to taking it off, you only need to remove one shoe, which I have found handy on the school run as it makes it a quick process to get ready for nursery once we arrive at the school.

One thing in particular that I really liked was that there is also a stretchy waistband, so there is ample room for clothes underneath in the summer, but also the ability to stretch that little bit more when needing to wear fleeces or coats underneath in the winter. On our first outing with the All-in-One I dressed Riley in joggers and a fleece hoody. He said that he was nice and warm but didn't get too hot or too cold which was ideal.


When we first went for a walk around a beautiful lake the weather was quite overcast so I knew it wouldn't be long before we had some rain. For once I was actually hoping for a real downpour, to test it thoroughly, but during the walk we had frequent on and off showers instead, though still enough to get wet and the kind where your feet get soaked through your shoes. The elasticated cuffs on the trouser legs make it easy to put the cuff either over or inside your footwear. I chose to put them over Riley's welly boots so that no water could get inside, preventing the problem of wet socks!


The wrist cuffs are also elasticated, so again these are perfect for holding gloves in place, which I am hoping to try out very soon if the forecasted snow arrives this week as expected!

The All-in-One is made of a waterproof fabric tested to a 3000mm Hydrostatic Head. I had heard of this term before when we had been looking at tents last year, so I had some kind of idea as to what it meant. Basically the Hydrostatic Head value is a measurement of how water resistant the fabric is. The higher the value is then the more capable it is of withstanding more water pressure before leaking. The All-in-One also has taped seams so there are no gaps for any water to leak through the stitching.

In terms of sizing, I ordered my son an age 3-4 and it fitted him just right in the length. He will be 4 this month and is of average height for his age. It wasn't tight on him in any area and Riley said that it was very comfortable. The sleeves were ever so slightly too long, so I rolled each wrist cuff over once which held in place absolutely fine.


There is a hood on the All-in-One which is mesh lined. When it began to rain I removed Riley's hat, and placed his fleece hood over his head, and then the All-in-One hood over the top of that. It fitted over perfectly without being tight and it meant that Riley could keep his head and ears both warm and dry.

After we had taken the All-in-One on it's first outing, I was pleased to find that Riley's clothes were spotless and also completely dry. We had stopped at a cafe and indoor play area but unfortunately due to being busy there were no seats, so it was down to me to be left stood holding the coats. Not this one though, as due to the fact it is so lightweight, I was able to give it a quick wipe down and fold it up neat and small so that it fitted straight into my bag. Perfect!

I had initially come across this product when looking for waterproof clothing for outdoor fun and had at first envisaged using this on walks and for the school run, However whilst Riley was wearing the product I kept getting more and more ideas for places that he could use it. It soon became apparent how versatile this product actually was and just how much wear he would get out of this over the year. I started thinking about when we go to the beach in the cooler months to take the dogs for a walk, and Riley always manages to get sand absolutely everywhere. It would be so easy to just wipe sand off this and keep his clothes clean. I also then thought back to when we visited both Alton Towers and Legoland last year and how this would have been ideal for going on the water rides, so that he still had fun and could enjoy being splashed, but yet remain dry.


Would I change anything?

I wouldn't change anything as such, however I would add the Dry Kids logo somewhere on the garment. I noticed that both the jackets and the dungarees in the range both have the logo's so would like to see them introduced onto these and the trousers too. However, that being said, I am unaware of what the cost implications of this would be and so if it was a choice between branding and keeping the product low cost and affordable for customers then obviously I would go with the latter.

Overall opinion

At £12.95 this product offers excellent value for money and not only that, but it looks great too! We received several compliments during one walk alone with other parents also asking where we had purchased this from. It is perfect for Riley and I know that he will use this many times before he outgrows it.

My older son Ben who is now 9, is going on a couple of adventure weekends this year, with both his school and football club and so I have already made the decision to purchase one of these for him too. He is a keen gardener as well so I think this will also be ideal for him whilst out in the garden to protect his clothes from dirt and for him to use at lunchtime at school whilst at Gardening Club.

The product offers great quality, versatility, and most importantly the ability to keep clothes dry, all at a bargain price and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this to other parents.

I also believe that this item will be great for playing in the snow (when we finally get some), and if the weather forecast for this week is correct, then I hope to update this blog post again in a few days time once it has experienced snowfall, sledging and snowball fights.

If you would like to purchase this product, then it is available to buy here: Dry Kids All-in-One

You can also see the rest of the range here: Dry Kids Clothing

Disclaimer: I was provided with this product free of charge for the purpose of testing and reviewing the item and giving my honest and unbiased opinion. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Any prices or product links were correct at the time of writing this post.


Sunday, 8 January 2017

Our Visit to Bluestone National Park Resort - Part Two!

Following on from the excitement of our arrival at Bluestone National Park Resort which I wrote all about in yesterday's post, I couldn't wait to share more with you about the park and the facilities on offer. We really did have a fantastic time, and the five days that we were there literally flew by. In Part Two of my review I will aim to cover some of the activities, the restaurants, The Blue Lagoon, and some local attractions.

The Blue Lagoon

When you first arrive at Bluestone, you are provided with your passes for the Blue Lagoon. You can  then use these to enter the pool by scanning the barcode on your ticket on arrival in the Blue Lagoon reception. In the foyer area there is also a shop that stocks a wide range of swimwear, swimming aids and flip flops, so if you happen to have forgotten something, then you should be able to buy it here.


You then make your way down to the changing rooms, where there are male, female and also family changing cubicles. The changing area was always very busy each time we went, but we never had an issue in finding a cubicle. The showers are located just by the entrance to the pool and the toilets were a slightly further walk away around the side of each changing area. There are lockers available which require a £1 coin. I did notice however that they also had some free lockers just in case you had forgotten to bring any money with you, and I thought this was a helpful idea. They were quite small in size and so our family of 5 used 3 lockers between us.

My children couldn't wait to get inside and were very excited when they heard the whistle blow for the wave pool. They weren't quite sure what to do first as there is a great choice of flumes, lazy river ride, wave pool and splash zones, but they decided to try out the wave pool to begin with. All of the iceberg floats had already been taken but they were happy just jumping up and down in the waves.

A word of warning here would be to take any babies/toddlers to the very edge of the pool when the waves start, as they get very strong, very quickly and I saw a few people caught out by this, who simply thought they would just sit there and get a gentle wave. Believe me you don't!

The Lazy River Ride was enjoyable, and goes outside where you can also relax in an outdoor pool. My youngest son Riley really enjoyed this and the only extra thing I would have liked here would be some more floats or inflatable rings to use.

The toddler pool was really nice and my son enjoyed splashing about and climbing in the pretend rock pools too. It was a nice warm temperature which was ideal and there were several fun toys for babies and toddlers to play with. It is also in an enclosed area with a gate, which prevents any children from wandering off which is a great idea.

I was persuaded by my children to try out the slides, and I nervously obliged. The first one I went on was in complete darkness which I hadn't been aware of at the time of entry. I hate not being able to see where I am going so I didn't enjoy this one, but the larger flume was quite light inside and very fast.

My children particularly loved the double slide that took you outside to a raised pool area. You then got on another slide to get to another pool, before sliding down the last slide which took you back indoors. I really enjoyed this one, even though I did get a slight injury when I got on the second slide as the water was fast flowing and it started carrying me down before I had got both of my legs in causing me to hit my ankle. It wasn't a major deal but it did take me by surprise and hurt for a little while. Not enough to stop me from going on it again though!


We visited the Blue Lagoon every day of our stay and on Wednesday evening there was the added addition of an inflatable assault course. We had great fun watching people attempt this, and my son had a go and made it look easy. The queue was quite slow moving though and my son waited 45 minutes for his turn, though he really enjoyed it so said it was worth the wait. My kids also really liked the fact that it got dark whilst we were there and that the lazy river ride now took you out under the stars. I must admit that this was lovely, especially as the sky was clear and there was a lovely view of the Moon and Venus.

The Adventure Centre

We visited the Adventure Centre several times during our stay, and my children particularly enjoyed the Sky Trail. My son was very nervous to begin with, but enjoyed it once he had completed the first obstacle and relaxed a little. The course took them about 20 minutes in total and cost £7 per person. Some obstacles were harder than others, and it ended with a leap of faith where you had to jump off the course and swing over to the opposite side where you were met by an instructor.


My son also enjoyed the claw machines in the Arcade winning a couple of soft toys and some sweets whilst we were there. He spent a total of £6 and came away with 2 soft toys in total including an Angry Bird plush which he has seen for sale before in one of our local shops for around £15, so he was very happy with his prizes.

There was an impressive climbing wall that was £15 for an hour session, however my husband is a qualified climbing instructor and when he went to talk to the staff member running it, he didn't seem to know much about it, nor did he know if he had a climbing qualification as just said his boss had shown him how to do it. Unfortunately this lack of knowledge didn't fill me with confidence so we decided against using it, but my children go climbing regularly with my husband and so I didn't feel that they were missing out on anything by not doing this.

My husband, Emma and Ben all enjoyed a game of crazy golf together whilst I took Riley to his Shelby Snail Messy Play activity. They said it was very basic and easy but all the same fun and enjoyable and it also meant that it was fun to play as a family with all ages without being to hard for the younger family members. This is also a complimentary activity so it is something fun to do to fill some of your time that won't cost a penny. Always a bonus!

Emma and Ben really enjoyed the adventure play area, and it is great to have something so big indoors to enjoy as it was really cold outside. Riley enjoyed the under 6's soft play on numerous occasions and made some friends there too which is always lovely to see.

Activities

Riley took part in both the Buzby Bumbles and Shelby Snails Messy Mayhem activities on the Tuesday and Thursday of our stay. He is generally very shy and also very wary of taking part in new things with people he doesn't know and so we had a few tears on both occasions when we first took him to the activity.

However, the instructors were great and within minutes Riley was enjoying what was on offer and listened carefully to any instructions. He participated in all the singing and dancing, and really enjoyed a little treasure hunt that took place during the Buzby Bumbles activity that encouraged lots of movement and exercise. All the children also got to dress up as little bees to help Buzby and Riley looked so adorable!


The Shelby Snail Messy Mayhem activity was great fun, and as the title suggests it is full of Messy Mayhem. We changed Riley's clothes beforehand and put him in some old clothing so that he could fully enjoy the activity and get as messy as he liked. There were numerous little work stations that ranged from a water play area where you could catch some rubber duckies, a baking area where you could make a mud pie or cake for Shelby using various messy ingredients, a gluing area where you could create some crafty masterpieces and some paints on the floor where you were actively encouraged to get your hands and feet covered in paint and design some bright and messy artwork!


Riley loves pretending to bake and cook, and also helps out in the kitchen whenever I allow him to, so his favourite station was the cake mixing area. He grabbed a large baking bowl and filled it with flour, mud and marshmallows along with some mixed oats and glitter. He then pretended to make some smaller fairy cakes and cups of mud coffee for me to enjoy. Yum Yum! This activity cost £7 which I felt was really good value for money as there was plenty to do, and although Riley spent the majority of his time on the same station, he absolutely loved it which made it worth every penny for us.



My favourite activity was actually a complimentary one, which took place on the Thursday evening before we left and was a beautiful light show set amongst the Woodland Trail. The trail had been adorned with lights and lanterns that represented different wildlife and creatures. As you walked further down the trail you come to a large rock face, where someone has had an amazing idea to turn this into a fairy village. As you look closer at the little lights on the rocks, you soon realise that these aren't just lights, but are in fact a selection of homes, shops, and cafe's for the fairy folk to enjoy. Due to it being dark it was really hard to get a good picture to show just how amazing the display looked, but here is a close up of one of the little shops. The attention to detail is just exquisite and it made the whole experience really magical for my children.


Relaxation

Of course you don't want to be on the go all the time, and although there are ample activities to enjoy we also enjoyed just taking a bit of time out and having a leisurely walk around the park and the lake. Bluestone is in such a beautiful setting and our walk saw us encounter an abundance of wildlife as well as peaceful scenic views.


There are bug houses located around the park, and we saw plenty of squirrels, rabbits, ducks and different types of birds. The bus driver told us on one of our journeys to the Blue Lagoon that last year the park also attracted some swans to the lake, which was the first year they had experienced visting swans, and so they are hoping that they make a welcome return this year.



(Waterproof all in one clothing in pictures kindly provided by Dry Kids UK)

If a leisurely walk isn't your thing, then the Well Spa offers a range of treatments for both men and women where you can truly relax and enjoy the spa retreat. The treatments aren't cheap but any treatment over 50 minutes in length also includes 2 hour entry to the Thermal Suite (usually £35 for 2 hours). As we were enjoying an active family break, I knew that I wouldn't have chance for any "me" time, but it would be great to return here with some friends in the future and enjoy some pampering.

Celebrations

It was my son's 9th birthday whilst we were here on the Wednesday. We therefore decided to visit a local attraction for the day, and then return back to the site to enjoy the inflatable assault course in the Blue Lagoon in the afternoon. The ample space in the lodge meant that there was plenty of room for us to enjoy watching Ben open his presents in the morning, and we all enjoyed some cake for breakfast. If you are celebrating a special occasion during your stay, you can arrange to order some special extras for your lodge on your arrival including hampers, champagne, flowers, wine and balloons!


Restaurants

There is a nice selection of eateries on site including The Oak Tree Restaurant, The Farmhouse Grill, The Knights Tafarn, The WildWood Cafe, and Ty Coffi. There is also an al fresco dining experience available at Camp Smokey, though we didn't see this during our stay so I am unsure if it is open during winter months. There is also an on site Chippy van which we ate from on our first night.

The Oak Tree Restaurant offers Italian fine food dishes ranging from £8.95 to £19.95 for main courses. The menu uses local and seasonal produce to create a varied menu and also has a daily changing specials board. Children's meals are available here too but my children wouldn't eat any of the options available which included Carrot Linguine with Cauliflower, and Seared Cod served with Tomato Tagliatelle. These dishes sound delicious to me, but my children prefer kids favourites such as chicken nuggets or burgers when we eat out, so this was a no from them!

Farmhouse Grill offered a menu that was slightly more to our taste, with a few dishes that we would like, however I just felt that it was really overpriced and was disappointed to find how expensive it was to eat out onsite. For example kids desserts were £4.95 each with adults starters and desserts averaging £6.95. Adult mains ranged from £11.95 to £20.95 which would just work out too expensive for the 7 of us which was a shame. If we had all eaten what we would have liked for three courses our total bill would have come to £135.90 not including drinks.

My parents enjoyed some sandwiches and drinks in Ty Coffi on our arrival date, and said they were really nice. As it was a bank holiday on the day we arrived they hadn't received a food delivery and so the sandwich choices were limited, but my mum was able to find something suitable for her and they had an enjoyable snack.

The Knights Tafarn offers pub style food with a nice menu, and also offers Sunday Lunch on a Sunday between 12-3. We would have dined here as I felt this catered more to our taste than the other two restaurants however it was busy both times we visited and so we decided to eat off site in the end and also self cater for our remaining days on the park. The lodges are designed for self catering though and cooking a large meal was no problem at all as the kitchens are so well equipped.

On our first night we ate from "The Chippy" which offered chip shop favourites at reasonable prices. Our order came to £30 for plenty of food for the 7 of us, and this was a nice treat to have on our arrival day. The Jumbo fish cake was delicious, and the battered sausages went down a treat with the kids too. The chips were also very nice and the portion sizes were just right.

On the two occasions we ate off site, we visited a Marstons pub restaurant located exactly 12 minutes drive away in Haverfordwest called "The Lost Coins". We had a really enjoyable three course meal here and it came to only £60 for the 7 of us. The food was delicious and the service was great. If you like pub food in a relaxed setting, and you don't mind a short drive then I would recommend eating there. They specialise in Rotisserie chickens and these can be seen being cooked in a large window in the main restaurant area. The restaurant also offers a small indoor play area and a park outside to keep children entertained. The kids menu also offered excellent value for money with three courses for £5.95. My children all had clean plates and really enjoyed (and most importantly ate) all the food they had ordered.

Local Attractions

There are numerous attractions located nearby including Oakwood Theme Park which is a very short distance away and the rides can be seen from the park. Folly Farm is also nearby but unfortunately both of these were closed for the winter during our stay.

We did find one attraction that was open however, which was the Manor Wildlife Park also known as "Anna's Zoo" as it is run by television presenter Anna Ryder-Richardson. It is a lovely little wildlife park, where you can get close with the animals in their enclosures which we weren't expecting and so this was a wonderful surprise.


I thought the entry prices were slightly high as they don't offer a family ticket, so at £13.95 per adult and £11.95 per child it does work out quite expensive. However there is plenty for children to do, and the added bonus of being able to walk in some of the enclosures makes up for the entry price.

Immediately after the entrance is a large wallaby enclosure that you can walk through. The wallabies all bounce over to you very friendly and waiting to see if you have brought them some wallaby food which can be purchased on entry. They didn't seem scared at all, and they followed us round as we walked through the enclosure. I got a lovely picture with one of them who kept trying to look in my pocket!


We then continued our walk through the park, the animals look very well cared for, and all have the largest enclosures I have seen in a wildlife park, however some updating and general maintenance is required in some areas as we noticed a few things that had fallen down or that were damaged. I appreciate that with them being open 363 days a year it is probably hard to get work done whilst there are guests everyday, but it could definitely do with a few improvements and perhaps closing for a few days to carry this out would be a good idea.


Another walk through enclosure that we really enjoyed was with the lemurs. They had just been fed so it was really nice being so close to them whilst they munched away on their food. My son Ben also really enjoyed petting the giant rabbits which were in another nearby enclosure. Other animals we saw included Gibbons, Tigers, Rhino's, Meerkats and Zebras.


There is a cafe on site, however I would recommend taking a picnic as the food here is quite limited and very expensive. Near to the cafe is a fantastic indoor play area that houses a bouncy castle, some ride on toys, and a very large indoor adventure centre. There are also lots of tables and chairs in here, so it is the ideal place to have a picnic in the winter months if you don't mind the peacocks wandering in and searching for left overs.


Overall Opinion

We had an absolutely fantastic time at Bluestone and would love to return again in the summer months to experience both the parks facilities in the sunshine, and also the many nearby attractions.

We were very impressed with the accommodation, and thoroughly enjoyed every day that we spent at The Blue Lagoon. I would like to see food prices reduced, or perhaps a meal deal option introduced for children at the restaurants as I just feel it is too expensive for what it is at the moment, and I appreciated the Chippy van on site as this was a great option for us on arrival night without having to worry about reservations or where to eat.

Bluestone offers so much for it's guests that I could have easily stayed here another couple of weeks. The wide range of activities on offer truly means that there is something for everyone to do, and you can choose to do as little or as much as your like at a pace (and budget) that suits you.

The staff we encountered on site were always friendly and helpful, and prior to our stay we had all our queries answered in a friendly and efficient manner too. Certain staff that stood out for us were the bus drivers, who were always pleasant when driving us to the Blue Lagoon, the maintenance staff who would go out of their way to try and help, and also the lady who worked on reception in The Blue Lagoon as my dad had misjudged his walking ability on one occasion and was unable to get back to his car, so she kindly rang another member of staff to come and collect him and drive him back to his car with no fuss.

I would definitely recommend the Bluestone National Park resort and we cannot wait to return again in the future!

Related posts: Our Visit to Bluestone National Park Resort - Part One

*Disclaimer - We were provided with complimentary accommodation for the purpose of providing an honest review of the resort. All activities, food, and items purchased on site were at our own expense. All thoughts and opinions are my own.