Twiglet Top Tips – The Chilli Pickle

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Welcome to the latest instalment of my Twiglet Top Tips series – where I recommend places, products and brands which we love and would like to share with you all 😊 Last week we were lucky enough to be invited along to have lunch at The Chilli Pickle, a street-food inspired Indian restaurant in Guildford.

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Twiglet Top Tips – Rachel Thornhill Photography

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A few weeks ago, we spent a fabulous morning at Mayfield Lavender with the very lovely Rachel Thornhill. I’ve known Rachel for a few years as she used to teach the twiglets Gymboree before she embarked on her career as a photographer. Her work is amazing so when she offered to take some photos of them I almost bit her arm off πŸ˜‚ We met at Mayfield Lavender Nursery, the β€˜secret’ lavender fieldΒ πŸ™ŠπŸ˜Š It’s a bit more wild and natural than the main field further up the road but, unlike that one, is not open to the public. It is available for private hire though 😊

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Twiglet Top Tips – Thomas Land at Drayton Manor Park

Last week, we had a fab little break away at Drayton Manor Park. It was about a 2 Β½ hour journey for us from Surrey so we stayed over for a night in the hotel – we definitely wouldn’t have attempted there and back in one day. Anyway the journey went surprisingly smoothly. We haven’t bought the twiglets i-pads or anything yet (basically trying to put that one off as long as possible πŸ˜‚) but we managed to keep them entertained singing along to their favourite songs (pretty much the Trolls soundtrack on repeat with the odd Mr Tumble nursery rhyme thrown in πŸ”«πŸ€£) When we arrived we headed over to the hotel to drop luggage etc and collect our theme park tickets then entered the park. We quickly grabbed some lunch at one of the cafes; food was as you would expect at a theme park really – ok but nothing to write home about (or in a blog post πŸ˜‰) Then we headed for Thomas Land. When we first went in, I thought it didn’t really seem that big but actually it was quite deceptive and there were a lot more rides than I first thought. One big positive was that the twiglets could go on practically every ride – I think there were maybe two which they were too short for. Most required 1:1 adult supervision – totally understandable but a bit of a bugger for me as it meant I had to go on all the rides too (I am a massive, massive wimp – I hate heights, moving fast and get dizzy from just spinning round once – actually pathetic πŸ˜‚) It was busier than I expected given that it was term time and mid-week, but not too busy either. There was quite a nice bustling atmosphere which I think I preferred to it being completely dead. There was never much of a wait for any of the rides – we either got on straight away or had to wait one go – always a good thing as queues are no toddler’s friend πŸ™ˆ

We went on quite a few of the rides that afternoon. H loved them all – I think the rides were quite adventurous given that toddlers could go on them. I expected them to be really tame but they were quite exciting (maybe that’s my wimpiness talking though 🀣) C was a bit more cautious and did freak out a little on a few – it didn’t make much sense though as some of the fastest, highest ones she was absolutely fine with πŸ˜‚ Good old toddler logic I guess! 😊

Later we took the little train over to the zoo – C and H LOVED this. Watching the front carriage detach, turn around on the turntable then attach to the other end was a real highlight for them. The signs clearly say to take all pushchairs, belongings etc with you – we nearly left the buggy to the side as we had done on all the other rides but ran back for it last minute. We were glad we did as the train does take you a little way away – into the zoo area (not that it would have been a huge deal to walk back and get it but still 😊)

We quickly looked at a few animals – flamingoes (C’s fave), ostriches etc then headed to the outdoor play area (well, more accurately, we were walking past and the twiglets ran straight in paying us no attention as we have zero control over our children, so we acted like we’d meant to go in there πŸ™ˆπŸ€£) Anyway, there were lots of decently-sized train-themed climbing frames with slides etc for them to play on, so we spent a while there – until the park closed in fact and a member of staff came round ushering everyone out 😊

We then headed to the hotel, which was just a short walk across the car park, and checked in to our room. We had one of the Thomas-themed rooms and it was really very cool, with a Thomas bunk bed and blankets, murals on the walls and carpeted train tracks on the floor.

The twiglets also got a little goody bag each – I’m not sure if every child staying in the hotel gets one or maybe just if you’re in one of those particular rooms. Anyway it had a colouring book, a toothbrush (useful as we realised we’d actually forgotten to pack the twigs’ ones anyway πŸ™ˆπŸ˜‚), a cuddly lion (the Drayton Manor mascot I think) and some other bits and bobs 😊 It was super handy for keeping the twiglets entertained while we had dinner over at the Grill Inn – again, food was good but nothing hugely memorable πŸ™ŠπŸ˜Š Sleep was a bit of a nightmare that night πŸ™ˆ If you follow me on Instagram (@twin.mama.mo) you’ll have read/heard me ranting on about how awful the twiglets are at bedtime – it’s a bit of an ongoing theme. Anyway they didn’t disappoint that night and were messing around for hours – even harder when you’re stuck in the same room as them. Sleeping arrangements were interesting – the twigs are at an in-between kind of phase where they’re in toddler beds with bed guards. They’re too big for cots and wouldn’t tolerate them anyway but not quite ready for full-size single beds, let alone bunk beds πŸ™ˆ We couldn’t get the top mattress down to put it on the floor and even the bottom bunk was still fairly high and had no side. We put some rolled up-blankets/towels along the edge and had H in there and C on the floor on a load of pillows πŸ™Š When they finally fell asleep, H fell out of bed on top of C so we ended up with him in our bed. I spent part of the night on the bottom bunk with C but she kicked the absolute crap out of me so I moved back. Suffice to say, we were all pretty jaded in the morning after all the nighttime antics πŸ˜‚ It was fine though – good bit of character-building 🀣 They sleep pretty shockingly at home anyway so it wasn’t too different πŸ˜‚

Breakfast in the hotel was good – think it might have been the twiglets’ first ever cooked breakfast πŸ€” They were very excited to have sausages, beans etc first thing anyway 🀣 We then packed up all our stuff, dropped off luggage in the car then headed back over to the park, which opened at 10, with the rides starting at 10.30. We went on a few, however H was not in the best of moods, probably due to tiredness. He was getting increasingly grumpy and difficult as the morning went on.
As H seemed to be on a one-way ticket to Meltdown Central, we opted for a change of scene and took them into the dreaded softplay πŸ™ˆ I have to say, it’s an amaaazing softplay – absolutely massive. Much bigger than anything the twigs have ever been on. Anyway they merrily ran straight in and started climbing. I noticed signs saying children could play for 15 minutes – there didn’t seem to be anyone enforcing this particularly, but I imagine at busier times (school hols etc) they probably would be. Despite her tough, strong-willed character, C can actually be a bit of a wuss at times and she freaked out mid-climb, halfway up the giant structure and started shouting for us to rescue her. Twin.papa.po obliged, removed his shoes and jumped in. After a little while, after he’d been attempting to reason with the most stubborn creature in all the land, a member of staff called up to him that adults aren’t allowed on the play frame so could he please come down πŸ™ˆ So just be warned, if you have smaller kiddos or kids who are liable to get nervous etc, it’s not the type of softplay where you can go round with them (I think if your child needed particular assistance for any reason and you explained this to them, you probably could though). There was a much smaller area for littler ones so we tried to encourage the twigs to stay in there after, with limited success 🀣
After that, H’s mood had thankfully improved a lot and we spent until about 3pm going on the rest of the Thomas rides, looking around the zoo and the Dino Trail, took the little train again and had lunch and ice-cream. By that time, the twiglets were absolutely shattered and passed out in the buggy before we even made it to the car – always a sign of a fun-packed day. We transferred them to the car and began our journey home 😁 We had a great time at Thomas Land; the twiglets have been talking about it constantly since and we would definitely highly recommend a visit 😁

Twiglet Top Tips – Market Halls Fulham

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Last weekend, we were lucky enough to be invited along to Market Halls, to check out their newly-opened Fulham venue and try some of the amazing food and drink on offer.
The venue is the former entrance hall of an ornate Edwardian Underground station. It’s basically a posh food hall, with lots of communal seating in the centre and nine kitchens around the outside, serving a wide selection of different cuisines, from pizza to curry to kebabs (swanky kebabs not your late-night dirty type πŸ€£πŸ‘). The idea is that you go and order food then bring a buzzer back to your table – when it vibrates, your food is ready and you go up to collect it. The great thing is that there is enough variety to appeal to all tastes – everyone in the family can have something different.
We chose a stone-baked margerita pizza from Yard Sale Pizza for the twiglets – it was plenty big enough for them to share and there were even leftovers (that gives you an idea of the size – H never leaves food so it must have been big 🀣) It was super yummy (we had a taste too!) and the twigs loved it. Hubby had a fried buttermilk chicken sandwich from Butchies, which was also fab.
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I couldn’t resist reliving my travelling days with some Indian street food from the fabulous Calcutta Canteen. I went for some lentil fritters which were A-MAAAZING. Be warned, they have green chilli in and are a little spicy so test them first before giving one to your greedy child (obviously you would test them first, I mean who would be silly enough not to?! πŸ˜³πŸ™„πŸ™ƒ) To be fair H wasn’t too bothered and seemed to like themΒ πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ I also had some chana chaat, which is chickpeas in a tomato sauce with a whole ton of crunchy yummy stuff on top – so many different textures 😁 I looooved it πŸ˜‹
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There is also a deli, a coffee shop and a well-stocked bar, serving a range of cocktails and craft beers, and for children, a selection of Pip Organic juices and smoothies, which my two love. The bar is really cool; it’s the old ticket office preserved from the original station.

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For pudding we tried some of the quirky ice creams from the Softserve Society. I think we could have been a bit more adventurous with our choices – flavours like charcoal and matcha all looked amazing. But we played it safe for the twigs and got them vanilla cones and we tried β€˜Oh Snap’ sundaes, with ice cream, espresso, gingerbread and salted caramel – such a winning combination! πŸ˜‹
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There is a small children’s play area which proved very popular when we visited. It includes a table and chairs, a cafe role-play area with lots of pretend food, fruit and veg, kitchen utensils and a till, and a large chalkboard on the wall. The twiglets really enjoyed it 😊
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I’m not sure whether I would take the twiglets to Market Hall by myself or not (although to be fair I tend to not be brave enough to eat out anywhere with the feral duo on my own πŸ˜‚) I did feel I needed the extra pair of hands at the time; hubby and I took it in turns to order then collect food while the other stayed with the twiglets at the table or supervised them in the play area. The play area isn’t enclosed so you do have to keep a close eye if you have a runner like H πŸ™ŠπŸ˜‚ To be fair, it was pretty busy when we went at lunchtime on Saturday – I’m sure midweek would be quite a bit quieter and easier to sit and watch the kids in the play area from your seat. It would have been manageable by myself – I would have just needed to order from the same kitchen for me and the twiglets and keep them in the play area until the food was ready to collect, then make our way to a table altogether 😊 There is an app coming soon, which will enable you to preorder your food, making it even more convenient as it would be ready straightaway when you arrive.
All in all we had such a lovely time at Market Halls Fulham. The staff were super friendly and welcoming, there was a lovely bustling atmosphere which meant you didn’t have to worry about kids being noisy etc and the food and drink is fab quality yet reasonably priced. There is no booking required and you could even bring your dog if you felt so inclined 😁😁 I would highly recommend it to other families as a great place to visit for lunch, brunch or just a quick munch 😁

Visit the Market Halls website:Β www.markethalls.co.uk
Or find them on Instagram: @markethalls

Also get ready for more Market Halls opening later in the year in Victoria and Oxford Circus 😊

Note: We were invited to visit this venue and were very kindly gifted drinks and vouchers towards our meal 😊 However, all views are honest and my own 😁

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Twiglet Top Tips – the Potette

A month or so ago, we started to potty train Cora. Henry wasn’t ready (still p*ssing all over the house if I took his nappy off πŸ™ˆ) and I figured I’d personally find it more manageable to do one at a time anyway, given that I wasn’t sure how it was going to go and had basically no idea what I was doing. Anyway C did amazingly with wee and was dry within a couple of days. She started off doing well with number 2s as well but then seemed to regress after a little while, and now waits until she has a pull-up on at night to go πŸ™ˆ She’s not dry all night so we can’t take the nappy away yet but I’m sure she’ll get there eventually – I’ve read and heard that it’s very normal for πŸ’© to be a bit more tricky to crack.
Anyway the point of this post wasn’t really to be a potty-training update, but to share with you a fab product that we’ve been using on this journey. It’s a travel potty called the Potette. A fellow twin mum recommended it to me so when we realised we were rapidly heading down the potty-training road with C, we headed straight to Mothercare and bought one. They’re also available from lots of other places too – John Lewis, Jojo Maman Bebe, Amazon etc.
The Potette is basically a fold-away potty. You just open out the legs and click into place which takes seconds. Then you place a liner inside (a plastic bag with an absorbent pad in) and hook it round the legs – I always make sure I have one on there ready so I can whip the potty out and use it immediately (I mean, not for me to use, for C 🀣 My bladder control may not be what it was since I pushed those beastlings out but we’re not quite at that stage πŸ™ˆπŸ˜‚) The Potette folds almost flat and comes with a drawstring bag to store it in. There are lots of suitcase-style travel potties on the market but given the fact that I still seem only able to leave the house with 50,326 bags of crap, I really love that the Potette folds flat. I just slip it in C’s rucksack with her spare clothes and wipes. When the child has done their β€˜business’ (hate that word in this context 🀣) you just take the liner off then walk around with a bag of wee or poo until you find a bin 🀣 I usually just shove them discreetly in the buggy basket.

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In summary…
Upsides:
– Super convenient and easy to use
– Also doubles as a toilet seat
– Folds flat so easy to transport
– Gives peace of mind when out and about
Downsides:
– Buying extra liners is a tad on the expensive side. However, if you use the potty mainly just for emergencies like we do, you don’t get through too many. Failing that, I’m sure a carrier bag and a bit of kitchen roll would do the job 🀣🀣
I hope this was useful to a few of you 😊 There was no sponsoring, gifting or anything here – I just think this product is fab so thought I’d share the love. What have you found invaluable for potty training? (Other than a sh*tload of wine obvs – that goes without saying 🀣)

Twiglet Top Tips – More2Explore

So far my blog has been all about telling my parenting journey and discussing issues I’ve encountered along the way, with a few (hopefully) funny stories thrown in. I hope that it brings a smile to a few of your faces and maybe a bit of reassurance when it’s an issue you can relate to 😁 I’ve decided to introduce something new alongside my usual posts and start sharing some fabulous brands and/or products as we come across them. There are so many small businesses out there, particularly on Instagram, and it can be hard to know which ones are great, which ones are not so great or which ones you can trust. I for one, love recommendations and will often end up buying things I’ve seen people I follow wearing or using (#instagrammademedoit 🀣🀣) If you’ve followed me for a while on Insta, I hope it comes across that I’m an honest and genuine person – for example, I would always say if we were sent something for free (we are very lucky that that happens occasionally). I wouldn’t ever recommend something just because it was free but only if I genuinely loved it and thought it could either make things for others that little bit easier, or just to make you happy so they seem easier 🀣 Anyway, introductory spiel over…. Introducing my first β€˜Twiglet Top Tip’ 😁😁 This week I’m featuring a lovely company based in Scotland called β€˜More2Explore’ and their awesome product, the Adventure Belt.

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The Adventure Belt is basically an ingenious hands-free version of traditional reins. It comprises a pouch attached to a belt which is worn by the child and is fully adjustable around their waist. I really like the fact that the buckle is childproof; undoing it requires a button to be pushed at the same time as squeezing the sides which means the child can’t undo it themselves. The adult then wears a simple, plain belt and the adult and child belts can be attached together with an elasticated bungee strap which clips onto each one (again with a childproof buckle so the child can’t detach themselves). I love the bungee feature – it’s adjustable so you can choose how far your child can walk away from you which gives them more independence whilst still keeping them safe and close. It also avoids the β€˜straining at the leash’ which we would sometimes have with our backpack reins when Henry would get particularly impatient. To attach another child, they have a belt and pouch too, and the adult simply wears a second belt.

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The main difference between the Adventure Belt and other types of reins is that it leaves your hands free which is so so useful, particularly if you have more than one child.

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Also, there is a range of fun pouch designs and colours to choose from, including camouflage and animals such as a panda and tiger. The child can store small items in the pouch which really gives them a sense of ownership. Even when they don’t need to be attached to me, the twiglets often ask to wear their panda belts and they love collecting and storing little treasures on our walks.

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I think this product is such a fantastic, innovative alternative to traditional reins, particularly for families with multiples. As we were walking around the shopping centre taking photographs, I heard a dad with twins say ‘oh wow, look at that – how amazing!’ And I genuinely think it is 😊 More2Explore have created discounted twin and triplet packs too so that you can easily purchase more than one belt. The belts are designed for 2-5 year olds but have been tested and sized for up to age 8. The Adventure Belt is perfect for use in busy, crowded situations. One of my biggest anxieties when out and about with the twiglets is the thought of losing one of them, particularly as Henry is a runner and liable to bolt at any opportunity. Having them attached to me is such a weight off my mind and makes it much easier to go out without a pushchair, especially as I have my hands free to juggle bags etc. I would definitely highly recommend it as a convenient, hands-free alternative to reins 😁

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Check out More2Explore’sΒ website to purchase or follow them onΒ Instagram to find out more 😊

NOTE: We were gifted this item in exchange for some photos of the product – I was under no obligation to write a review but wanted to because it’s bloody awesome 😊 All views are my own 😁