Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Getting the Best from Your Fitness Tracker

You may remember that I have been using a fit bug orb to try increasing my activity levels. Well it seems I'm not in a minority,  with  the rising popularity of  activity tracker use,  more and more of us are counting our steps and tracking our exercise all from a watch and Mobile. It has never been easier to motivate yourself to move more and its been widely accepted that walking more than 10000 steps a day is optimum for your health, infact this information was researched originally way back in the 1960s so fitness trackers really aren't a new thing, although I'd like to think they are much more accurate and easy to use now!

For me, using a tracker has many motivations,
  1. I really enjoy seeing my 'calories burned' climbing into double triple and then quadruple figures throughout the day
  2. I'm one of those stubborn types who like to beat targets so I genuinely will run up and down stairs if I've not met my daily goal of steps! 
  3.  The sadist in me loves seeing how much and what quality of sleep I managed, obviously just so I can prove to the Mr that I'm Way more tired than him!  
  4. But most importantly with the rapidly approaching big four-oh I fund myself wondering about keeping fitter and healthier for the good of my family, you know the types of things you think about... Looking after yourself, planning for retirement, getting the right life insurance, having a will (I know no one likes to speak about that, but it's a very important subject) and so I like my fitness tracker to be a reminder that I'm striving for a better healthier me, and its not just for me! 
So here are my top 5 ways of increasing my steps
  1.  The most obvious is to leave the car at home! If its less than a mile to your destination then walk, try to even if its more than a mile, fresh air is brilliant for your skin, your health and your happy levels.
  2. I walk to my allotment and then weed weed weed, all that moving bumps the activity levels up without even thinking about it
  3. Games in the garden! Chasing my kids in a game of tag, or playing British bulldog is so much fun and even though our garden isn't big, I can clock up 1000 steps easily.
  4. Housework, we all do this necessary evil, unless you have a housekeeper in which case I'm sticking my tongue out like a petulant child to you!, but if you throw yourself into it with gusto it can notch up more steps than you'd think.
  5. Dancing, turn up the radio ignore the to do list and dance like crazy to three or four of your favourite fast paced songs not only will you feel good after but the steps will be shooting into the high numbers.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Thermos Review

I have a real penchant for food storage! Sad I know but I have a truly huge collection of Tupperware, food storage, travel mugs, drinks bottles... The list is long and my cupboards are full! So I was more than happy to try out the premium range from Thermos and instantly fell in love with this Cherry Blossom range, and didn't need to dither over my order, a flask and a food flask in this print would be perfect for my allotment days.

Sadly it appears most of the country must love it too as it was out of stock but I was sent some classic red and black alternatives

Keen to put them through their paces, I've used the food flask  for hot and cold treats and can confirm they do indeed stay hot for ages or cool for ages, in fact I used the food flask to take my own soup to the Mother In Law's (being good on my diet you know!) and  didn't finish it all yet when I came to clean the flask, the soup was still hot enough to enjoy 8 hours later!!!

The drinks flask fits plenty in and keeps the contents piping. With a decent sized cup it's a great addition to digging breaks at the allotmen.

Overall I think these are worth thier price tag, the are sturdy, robust and do exactly what they say they will, unlike some cheap brands who's products barely keep your tea tepid and leak all over your bag! 

Monday, 21 September 2015

Falling 'Intu' Love With The MetroCentre

I remember the Metrocentre opening, because I'm old you know, but actually if you were over the age of about 7 in 1986 you will probably remember looking into the night sky to see the beams of huge celebratory searchlights shining upwards, visible for miles, I remember the massive adventure of going with your mates on a weekend to the huge cinema,  spending pocket money in The Body Shop on fuzzy peach or white musk! Going to the 'hippy shop' for jewellery and incense! So my love affair is long standing with our amazing Metrocentre we even purchased my engagement ring in a gorgeous wee jewellery store in the antique village, but once I started working in Newcastle I found my visits less frequent and then a bit of bad planning led to the worst shopping day of my life, and thus Metrocentre and I had a parting of ways!

Let me paint a picture, 7 years ago, with a 3 week old baby in tow I decided it would be wise to head to the Metrocentre at tea time 3 days before Christmas on the BUSIEST SHOPPING DAY OF THE YEAR! I should tell you that my darling child was feeding hourly and I had not slept for 3 weeks so the traffic jam lasting an hour had started us off on the wrong foot, on arrival I abandoned my husband in the car leaving him to park while I found a place to whip out the boobs privately. On my journey to find such a magical place (thank you mothercare) I was stopped by a 'kindly' lady selling makeup. 'Do you use our products? 'Err yes I wear mineral makeup' and I swear she pulled the face that says someone just farted and said 'ooh love it's doing nothing for you let me show You ours' 

I burst into tears and ran headlong through Mothercare into the baby feeding area. The afternoon got worse, Peanut screamed the whole time, I couldn't remember what I wanted to buy, and we got stuck in a 3 hour queue to get back (empty handed) on the motorway! 

Never again I swore! NEVER EVER AGAIN! 

Fast forward 6 years and a pal of mine said you should head to The Metrocentre, I recounted the torrid tale and she scoffed, she actually scoffed!!! 

'Oh give over that was years ago the place is bigger and better than ever the Food Hall has been overhauled the cinema is state of the art and there are more choice of fab shops than ever. There's loads of space for prams, lots of places to sit down and rest and loads to see and do. Plus better parking than ever , I'll be honest with you though her convincing point was that we could go to Wagamama for lunch!

So we headed off and I must tell you I'm back in Love! The Centre has been extended since I was last here and overhauled somewhat  with nicer more natural feeling light, lots of space, loads of choice of shops and it's easy to navigate with clear signage and easy to find maps, theres even a 'here to help' lounge!

we parked with no trouble in fact there was loads of space. We parked looking onto a huge Krispy Kreme cafe and although I was very tempted I resisted this time but next time I'm getting me some of them! We headed straight to the Lego shop (sorry bestie for keeping you there an hour!) passing gorgeous shops along the way, then had a casual day mooching around all the amazing stores. We could have visited swanky looking cocktail bars and some cracking designer shops but with a weeny teeny in tow we stuck to the more Mumsy choices and had a very productive day

We found the food court (I'm not sure that it's referred to in such an old fashioned way now!) easily and were ushered to a lovely table in Wagamama where we filled out bellies and renewed our energy for a bit more shopping. 

Several pounds lighter, one Olaf, some Disney merchandise and an hour later we left to pick the kids up from school, worrying that traffic would be bad we left way to early and got out of the car park and down the motorway with enough time for a cuppa before school run! 

So there you are my love for IntuMetro Centre has returned and rightly so,

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Cicciobello Rumbly Tummy Doll

The Cicciobello Rumbly Tummy Doll gives gives children the chance to role play looking after a baby with no mess! He comes with a spoon, juice box wipes a dummy and a potty. 

He cries when he needs something and tells you what he needs (so actually hes really more of a toddler) you then use the interactive accessories and the doll recognises that you have fed/cleaned/tended to his needs. You can see it in action here..

I really liked that this was a boy doll but wants dressed in any particularly sterotyped manner as we find most of the dolls we get given or see in the shops are dressed in stereo typically girly colours or dresses, Termite did however show a huge amount of curiosity at the contents of his ants (i tried hard not to giggle but admittedly failed when she told me 'baby snail in pants see mammy'! 

The doll is fun to play with and although the recommended age is 3+ Termite at two played nicely with it alone, although we did have an issue when the doll (hes named Bob by the way) asked for his dummy which termite had decide was hers, a very comic moment of both doll and actual child crying at each other followed and Ill be honest, Bob lost that battle!

Bob has around 40 phrases he can say to you, he can ask for food, drink, dummy, tell you his tummy hurts and he pumps loudly too.

I personally find the dolls cry a bit creepy but the kids didnt seem at all bothered by it. Peanut loved having such aninteractive doll, shes such a little mammy already to our Termite and now she has an actual little thing she can mother with no complaints.

With an RRP of £49.99 he is in the higher end of the doll market but happily it does much more than many of its similarly priced alternatives and its not dressed in putrid pink so I'm happy for my kids to play with it and I think its  great value Christmas or birthday gift

The Cicciobello Rumbly Tummy Doll is great fun, offer Mammy and Daddy a couple of laughs and kept my three entertained for a while. If you would like to see him for yourself he's available in Argos Smyths and Toys R Us 

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Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Win a Spooktacular Day at Alton Towers Scarefest

Win a family pass to the Alton Towers Resort this Halloween!


We’ve teamed up with Alton Towers Resort to give away a spooktacular day of fun and fear at their annual Scarefest, taking place from 17th October – 1st November. With frightening family fun and many thrilling attractions open until 9pm, there are lots of Halloween horrors to be enjoyed by everyone.

For brave young visitors there’s a chance to learn how to spook with Phil’s Ghoul School, help Skelvin decide on his costume for Halloween at Skelvin’s Spooky Story Time or join Patch and friends at Patch’s Trick or Treat Party. Plus meet up with Patch, Franklyn, Phil and Skelvin as they get ready for their best Halloween ever!  With frightening family fun and many spine-chilling attractions open until 9pm, there are lots of Halloween horrors to be enjoyed by everyone.

For more information visit www.altontowers.com


The prize consists of 4 tickets which are valid from the 17th October – 1st November 2015.  The pass is for entry into the theme park only and does not include food or drink, fastrack or any additional; paid for activities. Tickets are non transferable.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enchanted Village Alton Towers Resort

I had a degree of anxiety about our stay at Alton Towers, our last Theme Park Holiday wasn't the best and the Mr HATES theme parks! So I felt a bit like the odds were stacked against us! 

My worry was totally fruitless though as even the Mr claims he'll happily come back to stay! High praise indeed. 

So let me tell you all about it, The Enchanted Village consists of Lodges and Tree Houses, the Tree Houses are set separately and are a bit higher in price as they sleep more people and a have a kitchen area, hot tub and several extras.


The lodges are set around the resort in little circles of about 10 lodges each. In the centre of the circle is a small grassed play area with either a swing, see saw or climbing frame.


Check in was swift and helpful, we were offered a breakfast time slot and asked if we wanted to book dinner too, the receptionist was happy to describe the food on offer and prices in each of the available eateries but there is a self serve booking system which contains all the menus as well.

There are no cars on site but a porter will help you with your bags if you drop them at reception or you can use the drop off points then park in the designated area when you are settled. We opted for getting the kids in and then me hauling luggage later, divide and conquer is our usual plan of action.

The lodges have a double bedroom bathroom and kids den, the real beauty though is each of the cottages are made to look like a a fairy/elf cottage with a crooked chimney and rounded entrance, inside you will find a woodland theme and the children's bedroom is decorated with forest walls, little elf footprints on the floor and there's even a fairy door that lights up in the wall of the main room.


We were greeted with cosy beautifully crisp bedding, fluffy towels, toiletries and a fully stocked tea station. The only thing missing (but read more on how to fix this later) was a small fridge for chilling milk wine or beer.

The kids were so excited to discover that they would be sleeping in bunk beds and even more excited to discover a third bed which rolled out from underneath. Three excitable kids in an enchanted room meant for a late night but they were all very comfortable and cosy, the cottage is very warm and has enough space to feel like you aren't stuffed in. The tv is a super techy flat screen with wavy remote (yep there is a real term but basically its like a wii but for the TV) and the kids were pleased to watch Despicable Me 2 for free, but there are other movies to rent at reasonable rates.

We decided that the prices in the all you can eat were (that's in another hotel about 5 minutes across the complex) a bit too steep for us given that the littlies don't eat a huge amount, and looking at the Crooked Spoon (on site restaurant) menu there was plenty of choice at reasonable rates but the kids were tired and grumpy and room service looked very appealing. The menue has Pizzas, Sides and Ice Cream, nothing flash but

We ordered a pizza a garlic bread and 2 lots of chips with all the seasoning and sauces that could be carried and it cost £25 was delivered piping hot to our door in 10 minutes and tasted lovely, plenty enough to feed 5 of us and we loved sitting in the terrace which feels just like an extension of the room. In fact if the terrace had a gate to stop wandering toddlers escaping we'd have gladly kept the door open and relaxed on the terrace all night.

Housekeeping deserve a special mention the room was scrupulously clean and they are one of the few hotels who stick to the rule of only replacing towels places in the bath which score brownie points with hippy me! The beds were straightened and bins emptied while we were in the park so the room was neat on our return. One team member in particular who helped me with the luggage, without without being asked, offered information on where to find cold wine (truly important) and happily brought extra cushions and towels and a bed guard also taking away our pizza boxes while she passed! I apologise for my terrible memory if you are reading this but I did ask your name at reception and promptly forgot (Paula maybe?!?) but you really did go beyond 'just a job' and that makes a world of difference to us when choosing hotels. Customer service is truly a make or break for us so thank you lovely lady.

Throughly the evening 'forest helpers' offer a multitude of free activities including circus skills, bug safari, archery, treasure hunts and sports .


Breakfast is a buffet affair and there's plenty on offer, cereal, fruit, hot breakfasts and pasties tea and coffee from a machine as are the apple juice orange juice or water. The breakfast was nice, plentiful and hot a perfectly reasonable offering similar to many chain hotels we've stayed in.

To get from the hotel to the park involves a short walk past splash landings hotel and alton towers hotel, then a swift monorail ride. this in my opinion is the only bit that needs real improvement of the whole stay, the signage isn't brilliant to  the monorail and could be fabulously improved with some footprints or ground markings leading from reception. 

The monorail had a huge queue but it went down really quickly and so swiftly we were on our way to CBeebies Land.... 

Overall we were super impressed with our stay, comfortable beds, spacious layout, great activities, free wifi, great room service and fab customer care rate this hotel a great 4.5/5 with us.

Worth noting before your stay if the hotel offer extras like bed guards, extra pillows etc which can be booked in advance and if you need one you can request a fridge in your room. Sadly we learned this too late, had we known I could have brought Termite some dairy free snacks and milk but we will know for next time, and there WILL be a next time! 

You can  read our recommendations for a stay at The Enchanted Village and a visit to Alton towers here

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CBeebies Land Review and Giveaway

I used to love Alton Towers, back in the days of child free rollercoaster riding! But i must say my rollercoaster days have dwindled as I seem to have developed some anxiety about riding them now? I do however love the joy on my kids faces when we go to a good theme park so I was happy as can be to visit Cbeebies Land at Alton Towers as part of this years staycation. You can read about our Woodland Lodge accomodation here

Now Cbeebies Land is really only a very small part of Alton Towers but there's so much going on you could easily (and we did) spend most of the day there. With rides like Postman Pats Mail Sort, In The Night Garden Magical Boat Ride, Tree Top Adventure and lots more there really is a great deal to see. You can use this interactive map to check out all the rides.

With the exception of Octonauts Roller Coaster we didn't feel restricted on any of the activities with our kids aged 6,5 and 2. Obviously there are height restrictions but most all of the rides are fine for little littles with an adult. We managed to go on everything on offer with many different opinions of  favourites, My husband loved Mr Bloom which sadly  I couldn't  go see as Termite was napping and you cant take prams inside so I had to just wait outside, admittedly I was perfectly happy soaking up the sun while the Mr and the big two played with the veggies. 
I loved going on Octonauts Rollercoaster with Peanut, it was so funny to see her reaction on her first rollercoaster ride ever, but my favourite thing by far was the magic of it all! The kids showed such awe and wonder watching the characters walk about or having pictures with them. 

Because the costumes are great quality ant the staff inside stay true to character it was lovely to see the amazement beam out of my kids faces! The shows were fab too,With Nina and The Neurons, Mike the Knight and  Zingzillas  all set in the Big Fun Show Time Area.


This is a big arena with shaded areas, plenty of space to sit, loads of activities and this is where you can pose for pictures and meet your favourite characters. My termite would have spent her whole day here in fact she tried to convince Iggle Piggle he was coming home with us


 The Golden Boy was chuffed to bits to meet Capatain Barnacles


and although she claims to be a big girl now, the look of joy on Peanuts face when Upsy Daisy gave her a hug was worth a billion pounds.

You see until she was around 4 my Peanut carried Upsy and Iggle every where she went and I mean EVERYWHERE. Those two have been on holidays, day trips, and doctors visits no to mention the nightly need to be tucked into bed together. So I think we caught Peanut just in time to feel the magic. I know you are all aware that I'm a soft clart anyway but I did spend best part of the day with watery eyes from the joy of watching the kids have such fun!

Alton Towers itself  has lots to offer with rides suitable for children over 1.1 mtr and even some that can be accompanied by adults under this height. There's things to see and place to eat but sadly we fell so in love with CBeebies that we didn't make it to the rest of the park! In hindsight we should have arranged 2 days in the park. Never mind though I'm so taken with this visit that I'm planning already for the next visit!

We found that some of the queues could be up to an hour but actually you can have a wander choose a quieter ride and try again later, its especially good to try the more popular rides at lunch time and early afternoon, a time when people are eating or kids are napping in prams. This is when we found we could just walk into most of the rides! We didn't queue long at all for Postman Pat, Sensory Garden was quiet and Mr Bloom was just about to start so they walked straight in and started feeding Compo! For the rides where there are queues you can take advantage of site wide free wifi and lean on the electronic babysitter also know as the iPad  if things get tough! 

Overall we give CBeebies at Alton Towers 5/5 !! We loved every bit of it! 

If you would like the chance to win a family ticket* to Alton Towers this autumn click the link below to take part in our great giveaway  


Sunday, 13 September 2015

Festival of Thrift #RailwayThrift Challenge

We love a bit of craft at Monkeyfeet HQ and I especially love a bit of thriftiness so we were more than happy to take part in this competition from a Festival of Thrift to design something railway themed from recycled boxes.....

The Festival of Thrift is the UK’s national celebration of sustainable living. After winning the Arts and Culture category of the Observer Ethical Awards 2015, it will return to its founding host site Lingfield Point in Darlington on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 September 2015. This year Festival organisers are poised to bring together nationally known scrimpers, leading and emerging artists, musicians amongst special installations, demonstrations, debates, workshops and stalls offering upcycled, recycled, sustainable and of course thrifty goods in Darlington to help communities towards a happier, more sustainable way of living.

A huge planning meeting was called with our best crafting pals and gathering all of our boxes together we had lots, and that's when it started to get BIG! We designed a huge long train with a carriage for everyone and even funnels (Termite here is showing her dissatisfaction at not being the driver)

Now all we needed was some paint and tape and we'd be all set for the big train-tastic reveal. Sadly I must tell you that the arrival of builders to remove the roof added to a forgetful mammy and rain amounted to a pile of painty soggy mush!


Back to a much smaller drawing board I let my three go nuts with what we had, a cereal box and some loo roll insides!) and I present to you.....


Monkeyfeet Metro powered by air (see the straws)



which will take you on a scenic tour of 'glitter duck Lake'



All the way to the Festival of Thrift, that's bunting along the top by the way!


We had such fun and created such mess, if you like to see what the festival is about then pop along (and see some much better thriftier and less soggy creations) on 26-27th September.



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Saturday, 12 September 2015

The Many Bags of Monkeyfeet HQ

We have a system here at Monkeyfeet HQ and it keeps me organised. We pack our bags at the beginning of the week so they are ready and waiting when we need them. So on a Sunday night I do a refresh and refill of our


  • School Bags

  • PE Bags
  • Baby Bag for the Pram
  • Baby Bag for the Car
  • Judo Bag

  • Swimming Bags
  • Dance kit

It's this last one that's giving me most trouble, we need a bag that's big enough for two pairs of dance shoes a drinks bottle and clothes. We've been looking for just the right bag for a while with Pranut leading the search specifically looking for dance bags, pink bags or anything not particularly practical if I'm honest. So mammy took over and suggested we search for backpacks instead. After much grumbling I'm delighted to say we finally (by we I mean peanut!) fell in love with a cute (non pink) little number that has space for everything, a bottle holder and pocket for money too!


I know it may seem bonkers to have different bags for each activity but if I know on Sunday that bags are packed to go it's one less worry on my list, and my list is looooooooong! So while 12 packed bags may take up room the save me time through the weekend make rushing to post school activity less stressful.

Please tell me I'm not alone, are you a serial bag packer, do you have a similar routine for your weekly activities?


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