Browsing Category

REVIEWS

Sneak peak at Twirlywoos season 2

Hello everyone, I am BACK. Back, with a paid review! It’s okay, before you start accusing me of being a media puppet, I should point out that 1) I really only got paid with a link to a video and this rather fetching headband for Herbie, and 2) I like free things.

Anyway, if you have CBeebies constantly on in the background like I do, you’ll know that when you finally pass from this world to the next it will be with the  Justin’s House theme ringing in your ears, and also you’ll be aware of the Twirlywoos.

maxresdefault

In case you’re not familiar, though, The Twirlyoos is one of the Anne Wood friendly-shapes-with-funny-names canon, like Teletubbies and In the Night Garden. It features a group (family?) of roundy, primary-coloured bird-like creatures (no beaks but webbed feet) who live on a boat, communicate in little trills and helicopter off every episode to spy on humans doing things in order to learn about new concepts (up and down, fitting together, ‘over’, etc.). Poldark it is not.

I must admit I am slightly perturbed by way Peekaboo lives on the boat, too, without the Twirlywoos’ knowledge. This makes me uneasy whenever I watch it, because I fear an eventual Captain Philips-style showdown. But generally I like it because

  • Herbie likes it
  • The theme song sounds like Ed Sheeran would sound if Ed Sheeran wrote sea shanties for children
  • It’s not bloody Baby Jake.

This morning Herbie and I watched the new episode of the new season of Twirlywoos, which airs on Monday 28 November, over breakfast. As you can see, he is having a terrible time.

Herbie hearts Twirlywoos.

A video posted by Robyn 🇬🇧(🇪🇸🇮🇹🇳🇵🇫🇷🇱🇷) (@orbyn) on

In this episode, the Twirlywoos visit a man with a magnificent sergeant-major moustache as he covers his car with foam to clean it (is this a thing? I don’t drive and also have no moustache). The Twirlywoos then get involved, and as you can imagine, FOAMY CHAOS ENSUES.

Herbie’s review:

  • ‘BOAT!’ (The Twirlywoos’ red boat)
  • ‘BIRDY! BACK BACK!’ (The quacky birds that sit on top of the boat actually get a look in on the action in this episode)
  • ‘BED! BOO! BEDDOW! BINK!’ (Various colours)

My review:

  • There was no reappearance of the wobbly jelly that once came aboard once, ate Peekaboo, and generally made Herbie a collection of hysterics, so I was happy
  • It was colourful and gentle and informative
  • It still isn’t Baby Jake, which is like a DRILL THROUGH MY HEAD.

Basically, hooray for the Twirlywoos! Did you know you can follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube? Well, now you do.

THIS WAS A NOT NOT-PAID BLOG POST. GOOD DAY SIR.

Seven products I swear by

Hello! Now that I have an (almost) 18-month-old I thought I’d write a quick post about the everyday products that help me to stop feeling as though I need to claw my face off at the end of a day dealing with work, a breastfed toddler, getting about without a car, and housework.

[NB: This isn’t a sponsored post – although *seductive eyes* if you are a big brand and would like to throw some money my way, I’m not going to say no – I AM DOING THIS OUT OF THE KINDNESS OF MY HEART and definitely not because this blog is shortlisted in the MADS awards for best preschool blog oh god I should have written a blog post about that I probably don’t deserve to win. Although PLEASE VOTE!]

1. DRIBBLE MONSTERS DRIBBLE BIBS
Herbie didn’t have teeth for ages, and now he has about eight coming through all at once. To misquote the Stone Roses, he is a waterfall. These wonderful handcrafted dribble bibs, in addition to being amazingly funky, are backed with towelling made from bamboo, which stops the bib from leaking (Herbie gets eczema from dribble rashes…), and gets softer with each wash. I cannot recommend them enough – also, Gem, the lady who makes them, has also branched out into some amazing-looking leggings and dungarees. Check them out!

THE TONGUE RETURNETH

2. MY GRIFFIN SURVIVOR IPHONE CASE
I house my iPhone in a Griffin Survivor Case because Herbie is obsessed with stealing it, saying “Wello? Wabboo wabboo wabboo” into it, and chucking it as hard as he can at things that are made of wood and concrete. But this chunky piece of crap makes sure that my phone sustains no damage whatsoever. I have it in fluoro pink, because I am obnoxious.

3. MY PORTABLE PHONE CHARGER
Are you kidding me? I have an ageing iPhone 5S that has been bashed to buggery (before I bought the phone case, I should add), a serious podcast habit, no car, absolutely no sense of direction, and the attention span of a flea, which I have apparently passed on to my son. With the Teletubbies on iPlayer, podcasts and audiobooks to while away the long strolls alongside dual carriageways which make up 70% of my life, and constant checking of Google Maps, my demands from my iPhone outweigh my battery life. A portable charger is essential.

4. A BUGGY-BUMBAG
Literally a sort of bumbag you strap to the top of your pushchair. I fill it with drinks and snacks for Herb and me, plus my charger (obviously), my wallet, lip balm, tissues, etc. I also stick my iPhone in there for long walks in case Herb goes to sleep and I want to listen to an audiobook or podcast. Perfectly placed for earphones. And so reasonably priced! (You can get them for even less on Amazon if you’re not addicted to chevrons like me)

5. A BUGGY STEERING WHEEL
Herbie is short on patience and loves to twiddle things (ask my boobs) and I’ve been looking for ways to occupy his curious little fingers. I saw a woman pushing a buggy with one of these in Canterbury the other day, and I HUNTED HER DOWN until she told me where she got it. Mothercare, it turns out. The batteries don’t keep the lights or sounds on for more than a week but the buttons still depress and the wheel still goes round, which is all Herbie cares about, really.

IMG_7229

6. MY HYDRATEM8 BOTTLE
At 17 months, Herbie and I are still breastfeeding like the clappers; however, my main source of fluids is the endless stream of coffees I drink throughout the day until 7pm, when I switch to wine. Cue the HydtrateM8 bottle – a litre bottle with your allotted ration of water marked off for every hour between 8am and 12pm, then 1pm (when you refill it) till 6pm. It looks good, takes the sting out of staying hydrated, and if you have child’s tastebuds like me you can just dump a shitload of squash in there so it tastes nice. Or gin. Or pills. I don’t care. This is strictly a no-judgement mummyblog.

7. MY PANTONE COFFEE POT
Even though I, in a moment of extreme sleepiness, set it down on the countertop in our rented kitchen, and it burned a hole in the lino, voiding our deposit. Even though, nine times out of 10, I will make myself an instant coffee because it’s quicker. Even though I have let the bottom burn until the paint is all blistered and brown on the base, I still love it. Because it was a present, and because it’s so pretty, and because it’s a shrine to, like, the third most important thing in my life (coffee). I love you, pantone coffee pot. Never leave me.

Adventures in Japanese Nappies

[DISCLAIMER: REVIEW OF FREE ADVANCE PRODUCT]

Hello! Herbie and I have spent the last few weeks trialling some Japanese nappies, which are things that exist. In case you have an attention span like mine, here’s the TL;DR: Excellent nappies – better than anything we’ve bought in a supermarket – comfortable and leak-free, but twice the price of regular nappies: 5/10.

Here’s the longer version. Japanese nappies, ho!

APPEARANCE/GENERAL CHARM: 10/10
Jolly Winnie the Pooh characters adorn the nappies themselves, but the real design pull is the illustrated bright blue packages they come in. They are pink and sparkly and beautiful. Even the instructional diagrams are cute. Then there’s this guy – not sure what he’s supposed to be. A tooth? A little bit of human fat? A really solid wee? Either way, I’m all for him:

I don't mean to be all foregone-conclusion, but all nappies should be marketed by this guy. #moonydiapers

A photo posted by Robyn Wilder Heritage (@orbyn) on

EASE OF USE: 10/10
Herbie is up and running these days, and during nappy changes he likes to throw himself around like Jennifer Beals in Flashdance, so I opted for pull-up pants, as using regular nappies is like trying to origami traditional nappies onto a violent octopus. Luckily, Moony pants work in the same ways as Pampers etc. You just pull them up to put them on, and rip them down the side seams to get them off. (Apologies for image quality; once you remove Herbie’s clothes he basically WILL NOT STAY STILL.)

IMG_0004

COMFORT: 10/10
Presumably because of willy placement and wee diffusion, there are different Moony pants for girls and boys (incidentally, the sizes aren’t the UK numbered standard, but listed by weight). These nappies work in the same way as any other, but they seem more… architecturally padded. The concertina pleats at the waistline are dense, and there are more folds at the hip than your standard pant, allowing for all sorts of movement. They’re quite clever, really.

DURABILITY: 10/10
These pants have been with us to Finland and back.

Don't Look Now.

A photo posted by Robyn Wilder Heritage (@orbyn) on

They have seen us through several delayed train sojourns across the country, and have even accompanied us through Herbie’s brief stint of weeing non-stop through the night, and a very bad-parent-day when I left him unchanged for about 10 hours.

They have only leaked once, overnight, and I suspect it was because I didn’t put them on properly (it’s okay, I washed the tea towel afterwards):

Also, nappy waistlines can aggravate Herbie’s eczema on his abdomen and lumbar region, but so far the Moony pants have been the least harmful out of all the ones we’ve tried (mainly Pampers and Tesco’s own).

IMG_0005

AVAILABILITY: 5/10
UNFORTCH at the moment they’re only available through Amazon, or the Best Baby website (with a £2 discount). Which you will need, because they are…

COST: 3/10
£22.50 for 38 nappies, which is pretty ridiculous, even with a discount. That said, each nappy can last an entire day without leakage or discomfort. Hopefully if they start importing the nappies into the UK wholesale the cost will come down. I genuinely love them and am very sad to have to go back to stupid regular nappies now.

THE GAME-CHANGER
Hold onto your hats, THEY MAKE MOOMIN NAPPIES NOW.

HOLD the PHONE.

A photo posted by Robyn Wilder Heritage (@orbyn) on

I picked some up in a Finnish supermarket, and they worked equally as well as the Japanese nappies, which is now one of the major reasons I want to move to Finland. Hopefully they’ll start importing to the UK. In the meantime, Japanese nappies get my thumbs-up, but only on payday.

I mean, just look at how happy Herbie looks after a Japanese-nappy-nap:

#nap

A photo posted by Robyn Wilder Heritage (@orbyn) on

Postnatal Retreat, Manoir la Croix de la Jugie

At the end of summer 2015, when Herbie was seven months old, I was struggling with sleep deprivation, depression, and an expanding Bourbon biscuit-based waistline, and Stu was lamenting what little time he got to spend with Herbie every day. So when we were invited to a (disclaimer: free) week-long postnatal retreat in France, we jumped at the chance.

Although the notion of being stranded in the countryside with a bunch of strange families sounded at first like an ITV2 reality show, the retreat blurb said it focused on rebuilding post-natal fitness and wellbeing, with exercise classes for the mums, quality dad-time for the dads, and hearty living for everyone. Plus we live right by a Eurostar station, so it almost seemed rude not to go.

Here’s our first ever family Eurostar selfie:

IMG_0001

The Manoir
La Jugie is an ivy-strewn 18th Century farmhouse with its own bergerie (converted sheep shed), pool, and apple orchard. It sits deep in the green hills of Limousin, a 30-minute drive from Limoges (you can fly there or get the train from Paris). Inside it’s all exposed beams and graphic rugs thrown over stone floors, with delicious cooking smells coming from the cosy kitchen.

It turns out hosts Clio Wood and Bryn Snelson redecorated the manoir in their unique style when they bought it; it was only after having her own baby in 2014 that Clio founded &Breathe Postnatal, when she couldn’t find a retreat that suited her.

The house sleeps 16, so we basically had a floor to ourselves, which was great for shushing Herbie to sleep, relaxing after an exercise class, or just to bury your nose in a book when communal life got a bit too communal – there was even a delightful book-filled reading nook for this very purpose.

DSCF0084 DSCF0091 DSCF0121 DSCF0077Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 16.54.25 Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 16.54.00DSCF0099 DSCF0081 DSCF0053

Fitness
This is the bit I wasn’t looking forward to. In adult life I have basically been super-thin but horribly unfit (thanks, cigarettes!), or sort-of fit but kind of chubby (thanks pizza/running!). I took up competitive biscuit-eating during pregnancy, though, and hadn’t stopped, so the notion of sausaging my post-C-section bulk into lycra didn’t really fill me with joy. However, La Jugie’s own buoyant trainer Caroline Bragg allayed my fears.

Our ensemble twice-daily sessions took place in the bergerie or the covered terrace, and incorporated circuits, pilates, cardio, and even resistance training with our babies in carriers – but all carefully modified for postnatal bodies (did you know you shouldn’t do crunches after a C-section? Nor did I), and at our own pace. Despite myself, I enjoyed my sessions, and have kept up (sort of) with the bespoke training plan Caroline gives you at the end (although I do it too sporadically at the moment, and mainly for Herbie’s amusement. MUST DO BETTER).

DSCF0107 IMG_3648 DSCF0155

Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 16.54.14

DSCF0152 DSCF0139 DSCF0146

Food
Honestly, when I heard I was going on a ‘fitness’ retreat I expected to be on a diet of celery, and said a tearful farewell to ‘real food’ before I left. But I hadn’t reckoned on Clio’s amazing hearty fare and love of long, boozy dinners. Breakfasts were a smorgasbord of fruits, oats, cheese and bread, lunches were chunky soups (my favourite was the curried apple) with huge hunks of bread, and dinners were giant pots of cassoulet and pots au feu with salads (and pudding!). Everything tasted fresh and fabulous. Plus, the fact that all the families came together every evening, chatting and eating with our babies on our laps, added to the sense of bonhomie, and made dinners all the more delicious.

DSCF0097 DSCF0096 IMG_3653 IMG_0007 Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 16.54.34

Relaxation
Part-and-parcel with the week came an hour-long in-house professional massage for everyone. Mine was so good I passed out within minutes and shelled out for an extra session later in the week. Hot showers, late mornings, fresh air, good food, and getting your heart rate up all contributed to an overall sense of wellbeing, and on good days Bryn even ferried us out for trips to the village, shops and even the zoo. It was a bit rainy for the pool, but we explored the grounds and even scrumped a few apples (don’t tell Clio). And, as we all know, theft is very relaxing.

Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 16.53.43DSCF0060 DSCF0127 DSCF0131 DSCF0046 IMG_3604

Was it worth it?
Oh my god yes. The entire week was a much-needed series of deep breaths after the panic of early parenthood, and left me brimming with a sense of wellbeing I hadn’t realised I’d lost. Meeting other new parents was a bonus to this; we all put a brave face on to begin with (I was horribly intimidated by everyone) but slowly we came together and realised that we were going through very similar struggles. I honestly credit Clio, Bryn and Caroline with saving my sanity, a bit. The retreats are a wonderful idea generally, but I think few people could run such events with the warmth, welcoming and sense of fun that they possess. I’ve made some friends for life here. Thanks so much, you three.

IMG_3656 IMG_3663

IMG_3671

If you’re a new mum and you’re dithering over your summer holiday, take a look at the 2016 retreats – they might be just what you need. If you can’t commit to a week, keep an eye out for the day retreats that are coming soon to London.

Oh, and if this review sounds overly enthusiastic, it’s because I am. In fact, to paraphrase Victor Kiam, I liked it so much I joined the company! I now help with &Breathe Postnatal‘s social media and content, because I found my retreat so valuable in terms of recovering my equilibrium after the drama of becoming a mother.

If that’s not a ringing endorsement I don’t know what is.

Oh, and here’s a final note from Herbie:

DSCF0033

Sorry about all the spit.