First Trip!

Yesterday Oliver went on his first ever school trip to a local Farm and it’s got me thinking at how he is now growing up. 

The thing is I don’t know if I’m ready for it. I can vividly remember him being born and bringing him home from the hospital and now he is venturing off on adventures with his pre-prep school. 

When I went to pick him up from the school yesterday afternoon he was full of the excitement of spending the day with his teachers and friends and everything they had done at the farm, including seeing a Sheep race, and I am pleased that he is growing up and becoming independent. However inside there is a part of me that realises that this is the start of a long journey that eventually leads to him moving out and getting a place of his own. 

Now I realise that, that is a long way off but it did dawn on me, as he was telling me all about his day, that he was starting to move away from being almost completely dependant on myself or Keighley. 

Oliver starts Primary School in September and so I know that during his time there he will be having more day trips out and also trips out to friends houses and also trips out with friends. I also know that this is part of growing up and that every child and parent go through it. There is part of me though that has been taken by surprise by the speed it’s happened. As I said at the beginning of this post I can vividly remember Oliver being born and bringing him home from the hospital and also those first few days however over the last few months he has grown in confidence and character and now in experiences beyond Mum and Dad. 

There is a huge part of me that is looking forward to what the next few months brings in terms of Oliver’s development but there is also a small part that is sad to see that development. 

Product Review: Alphablocks Reading Programme


I have written before about how we feel it is very important that we read to both Oliver and Leo. It would also stand to reason then that we would also feel that it is important for Oliver to read himself, which we do, so you can imagine our delight when the people behind the Alphablocks Reading Programme wanted me to review the programme.


For those that aren’t in the know as it what Alphablocks are here’s a summary. Alphablocks started life as a five minute TV show on CBeebies and has been running now for a few years teaching kids in a fun way the alphabet and also how to spell various words from Tree to Beekeeper. The Alphablock characters are the letters of the alphabet each with their own personality and obviously the sound of that letter. Alphablocks also feature on the CBeebies Playtime app.


When the programme arrived the size of the box surprised me it was a lot bigger then I expected and when we opened it up we were greeted by 15 magazines and a whole host of accessories and helpful bits and pieces to make the most use of the magazines and to help Oliver learn to read.


When we showed Oliver he squealed with excitement as he loves the Alphablocks characters from the CBeebies app and TV series and recognised them immediately and as once he realised that there were parts of the programme to play with as well he wanted them all opened up.

The Programme

The programme is split into three sections which are beginners, follow on and finally reading themselves and due to Olivers age I will be focusing on the first section and the parts included.


We started on the evening the parcel turned up going through the first few pages of the first magazine and the first letter in the whole programme is S which I feel is perfect, it’s probably one of the easiest sounds a child can say, if you are familiar with the ling6 sounds you will know it is also one of the most common sounds we make when we speak as well, it is also one of the easiest shapes to recognise and eventually write for a young child.


In the first magazine each page is a letter and as I previously said this began with S. Each page is split in too a few different areas most starting with getting the parent to pronounce the sound and then encouraging the child to repeat it back to them and then encouraging the child to try again and again until they grasp the letter. Also on the page is somewhere where the child can practice writing the letter similar to how they do in school, or did in my day. This is fantastic as Oliver can now write a rough S shape on a piece of paper and recognise it enough to say the it back to us. We’ve also noticed that he has also picked up the letter O from his name and is now signing pieces of art work with O.


The programme is priced at £30 (at time of writing this blog) which in my mind is a fantastic price for what you get and also for the fact that we’ve proved it works with Olivers development with his reading in the last two weeks since we’ve had the programme.

The only gripe we have with the programme is that there is nothing to store the magazines in once you dispose of the packaging it is delivered in so a binder or other similar would be a nice addition to what is a fantastic thing.

For more info on the Alphablocks Reading Programme or to purchase it click here

Day Out Review:Tropical Wings Zoo

Tropical Wings is a small zoo based near Saffron Walden Essex. As a family we have been there a number of times  and enjoyed it every time.

Some of the birds at Tropical Wings

We decided to go on Monday 7th July to celebrate our third anniversary. The Butterfly House is amazing and we spent a lot of time in there looking at butterflies and feeding the fish, which are huge!

The size of these fish!!!

Tropical Wings started as a Butterfly House and a few birds of prey. It has now grown into a small zoo featuring Meerkats, Goats and Wallabies. 


Our eldest loved the feeding of the Ring tailed Lemur and squealed with excitement when they came near him.

Oliver and Leo on a tractor

As well as the animals at Tropical Wings they also have bits for kids and big kids alike to play on including ride on Tractors and Diggers and also both indoor and outdoor play areas. The on site cafe is just outside the main Zoo and is relatively cheap but good quality food.

One of the many butterflies.

We would throughly recommend going to Tropical Wings for a fantastic afternoon out.

For more information on Tropical Wings Zoo click here

When the Batteries Run Out!

We all have them. Toys with batteries, but what do we do when the batteries run out? 


Now for a lot of parents the obvious choice is to never replace them again and who can blame them, after all there are only so many times one can hear “I am a little cement mixer, on my way to work” being sung out of your childs Toot Toot car, or the rev of a tractors engine as it moves along the floor in front of you. I however take a different approach, when I can I will replace the toys batteries the same day they run out, my reasoning is this, yes they might be annoying noises, but the creators of the toy must have known what the were doing right?

Well according to there is little difference in battery powered toys and non battery toys. They both have educational value, things like building blocks and stacking cups teach kids hand eye coordination whilst battery powered toys that have buttons etc they tend to play music and this is shown to have an impact on a child’s ability to deal with Math and emotional response.

So even if those noisy battery powered toys drive you round the bend, remember that when their batteries run out its better for your child you replace them even if it’s not good for our sanity as parents.

Latest Goodreads.

As mentioned before in a couple of previous posts Goodreads and National Bookstart Week Oliver loves books so I decided to post a few we’ve discovered recently that he loves.

Thomas and Friends: My Thomas Potty Book
ISBN 978 1 4052 7307 7

This is a great book that we discovered in TK Maxx. It is a story designed to encourage toddlers to start using the potty and becoming a big boy. It also includes a reward chart with stickers which they get when they use the potty. Oliver keeps coming back to this book time and again.
I would personally recommend this book for anyone with a Thomas fan that’s about to start potty training.

Mog and Bunny
ISBN 0 00 664033 8
Mog on Fox Night
ISBN 0 00 664501 1
Surprisingly we found both these books on holiday in Greece for sale second hand outside a hotel.

Both these books are lovely picture books with one or two sentences per page to explain the picture. Oliver does love these books but I think probably because the cat looks similar to one of ours. The prose is lovely and I enjoy reading them and am now looking for more in the series.

Goat Goes To Playgroup
ISBN 978 1 4472 6283 1

We got this book for free in Olivers two year old Bookstart pack. It is about a Goat that goes to Playgroup and his experiences in the playgroup. Goat experiences everything from painting through to eating grapes and also wetting himself.  It is a great book for two reasons, firstly because of the fact it lets a child know that playgroup on their own is going to be fun and not scary and also because it is easy to read.  The book rhymes with each page which is great. Oliver enjoys this aspect of the book as well because he is able to make an attempt to read along.

Sometimes I Feel … Sunny
ISBN 978 0 552 57169 2

This book was also free from Bookstart and it deals with feelings, happy and sad etc.  This is great because Oliver really identifies with the feelings in the book and we talk about them.

These books will be added to our Goodreads page which is available from the sidebar.

Which books have you read to your little ones? 

Product Review: Magformers

I discovered Magformers completely by accident after Twitter recommend I follow them.  After clicking on their page to see what they were about I followed them really liking the idea of what the toy was and what it could do for our sons development. 

Magformers My First 30 Set

We had a set sent to us from Magformers so Oliver could test it out for them. The set they sent was aimed at children from one and a half up. Once I had opened the parcel and Oliver saw it was a toy it wasn’t long before he was playing with it. His favourite model to make was the rocket closely followed by the ball and although he needed help he enjoyed it a lot.

Oliver stacking the Magformers

One thing he did figure out was that when the magnets wouldn’t stick together (because of them repelling each other) they had enough force to push another one across our wooden floor, something which caused great fun for hours.

Contents of the kit

The kit itself came with 30 magnetic shapes (squares and triangles) and a selection of idea cards to make things with the magnets.  It also came with a book which also had an educational aspect. My wife spent a long time sitting with Oliver matching shapes and colours and getting Oliver to repeat the names of the shapes and the colours.

Oliver playing with the Magformers

Magformers are a new toy to the UK but are already big is South Korea and the USA and I’m sure they are going to be just as big here. This is a perfect toy for children to learn about shapes, colours and magnets without them even realising. Oliver has every morning picked Magformers as his first toy of the day to play with.

I would wholly recommend Magformers to any parent wanting something educational for their child but fun at the same time. 

For more information on Magformers and their products and also where you can purchase them visit their website here

Pros: Great educational value, keeps kids entertained for hours, makes kids use their imagination,  great educational book. 

Cons: The magnets where on the strong side especially for a 1 and a half year old.