Monday, 9 March 2015

A penguin birthday cake

A week ago my biggest baby turned 3. I'm pretty sure that last year I promised myself that for his 3rd birthday I would stick to a simple cake... But when it came down to it, my biggest little boy loves cake almost as much as I do, so I had to create something fitting for the occasion! And this little boy loves his penguins almost as much as he loves cake.

Number 1 in Bobble's world of soft toys is Little Pempee - he's the one on the left by the way. He came into our house in a bag of second hand clothes and is a soft, pale blue comforter with a penguin head. It was a long time until Bobble could say penguin, so he became Pempee. On his second Christmas we bought Bobble a jellycat penguin. He was named Big Penguin and Pempee became Little Pempee.
Modelling a cake on a floppy comforter was going to be impossible, so I went for the easier option of Big Penguin. I'm going to be upfront and say that in spite of once enjoying a cupcake decorating lesson, my creative spirit does not always translate to a spectacular outcome! I certainly don't have any illusions of being an expert cake maker! If nothing else, I hope my cake inspires you of what a complete novice can do.


  1. I started by baking two 10 inch Madeira cakes using a recipe found on
  2. Having created some paper templates beforehand for my penguin, I then carved out my shapes. I also levelled off the two cakes to ensure they were also a similar depth.
  3. After cutting each shape in half, I then sandwiched the two halves together with apricot jam.
  4. Next, I joined all the pieces together. A piece of dried spaghetti can be used as a dowling rod to hold the pieces together. That's what the basic shape looked like - naked penguin!
  5. After crumb coating the cake, it was then time to whip a massive vat of buttercream, colour it, then start piping!

Drum roll

So this was the finished product....

Spot the likeness...

Read more ...

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Scrumptious Lemon and Lime Tart

When it comes to making puddings or desserts when friends or family are coming over, I find it hard to stray from anything with chocolate. You just know that chocolate will be a winner with everyone, don't you? But a while ago my Mum shared with me this recipe, and declared it to be both utterly delicious, and extremely simple. I had to give it a try.

If you're wondering whether a lemon and lime tart might be, well, a little bit too tart and zingy - do not worry! This tart has a lovely zing, but also a creaminess and sweetness that offsets the zing perfectly. The other great news is that although it requires a bit of time in the freezer and the fridge, the actual preparation (you can't even call it cooking - the only thing that gets hot is the butter!) can be done in about 20 minutes maximum.


  • 275g oat biscuits
  • 75g unsalted butter 
  • 2 medium lemons 
  • 2 limes 
  • 397g can sweetened condensed milk 
  • 200ml double cream 
  • Reserve some of the lime and lemon zest, to decorate


  1. To make the biscuit base, break the biscuits into chunky pieces and blitz into crumbs in a food processor. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and add to the crumbs with the motor running. Blend until evenly combined. Alternatively, put the biscuits into a plastic bag and give them a good bash with a rolling pin until all you have is crumbs. Add the butter and stir until the biscuits and the butter starts to come together.
  2. Press the biscuit crumbs onto the base and the sides of a 23cm loose-based tin that is at least 3.5cm deep. Make sure you push the crumbs right into the corners. Cover with cling film and freeze for 30 minutes.
  3. Finely grate the zest from the lemons and limes and squeeze the juice. You’ll need exactly 125ml of juice for the filling to set.
  4. Beat the condensed milk and cream together in a large bowl using an electric whisk for at least 3 minutes or until it begins to thicken. Set aside 1 teaspoon of citrus zest for decoration. Add the rest of the lemon and lime zest and all the juice to the condensed milk and cream and whip for just a few seconds more. The mixture will thicken quickly. 
  5. Take the biscuit base out of the freezer and remove the cling film. Immediately spoon the topping onto biscuit base. Swirl the surface with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle with the reserved lemon and lime zest. Cover the filled biscuit base loosely with cling film and chill for 1 to 2 hours before serving.

You can also freeze this tart - it will keep for up to 1 month. Open freeze the filled biscuit base for 2 hours then double wrap in foil and return to the freezer. You can remove the tart from the loose bottom tin and double wrap in foil as soon as it is solid. To defrost, transfer it to a serving plate, cover loosely and leave to thaw at room temperature for 1½ - 2 hours.
Read more ...

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Bugaboo Donkey Review

Following on from my post Do I need a double pushchair for a toddler and a newborn? I'm going to share my thoughts and feelings on the Bugaboo Donkey, which was our choice of pushchair for a newborn and a toddler. 

What were we looking for in a double pushchair?

First up, here's a quick reminder of what we identified as our top priorities for a double buggy. 
  1. It has to have a proper carry cot for a newborn. A reclined toddler seat with straps is not an option. Neither is a soft, cocoon type carry cot. We want something that a baby could sleep in comfortably during the day for long periods of time, and even be used as a carry cot for an overnight sleep, just like the carry cot on our Joolz Day.
  2. The toddler seat has to recline. The only place that Bobble still naps is in the pushchair, so there has to be somewhere for him to sleep during day time naps.
  3. It has to fit in our (estate!) car, by having a fairly compact fold.
  4. It has to handle as nicely as our Joolz Day, so we're talking a smooth push, good handling up and down curbs and a good length extending handle.
After a fairly extensive review of the market for doubles, we realised that the Bugaboo Donkey was the only pushchair out there that met our criteria.

THAT price tag

Let's start by addressing the elephant in the room. The cost. Each time we did the sums, this was the one thing that would cause us to go back and start questioning our needs to buy a double at all. If you're not familiar with this, brace yourself. The price tag for the Donkey is £1000 (give or take a few quid either way depending on offers and your need for extras). Yes. I know. You can buy a secondhand car for a similar amount. But here's the catch - there are no other pushchairs on the market that offer the same features as the Bugaboo Donkey. It is unique, and an extremely clever piece of engineering. But wait! Don't stop reading because you think this is a crazy amount of money to spend on a pushchair. Further down the page I am going to share some secrets about how you can knock off several hundred £s from this price tag. I promise you that we did not pay anything near this amount for our brand new Donkey.

10 highlights

The Donkey has many fantastic features - here's a quick list of the best ones.
  1. You can use it as a single pushchair or a double - it takes less than a minute to convert from one to the other.
  2. In double mode it is only 74cm wide (14cm wider than single mode), which means it fits though all standard doorways.
  3. The two seats operate independently - your baby can face you, or the world. Your toddler can face you, or the world. The seat units when facing inwards recline fully flat.
  4. The carry cot has a mattress suitable for using overnight.
  5. The underneath basket is massive. In single mode you have tonnes of storage space with the underneath and side basket.
  6. In spite of initial appearances, you can comfortably fit a 3 year-old in seat unit.
  7. The handlebar has a huge extension so it's suitable for parents big and small.
  8. It's light and smooth to push on most terrain.
  9. You can recline the seats recline with one-hand - same goes for removing the seats.
  10. There are lots of different options for personalisation - a range of different colours exists for everything from the base fabrics, hoods and aprons to seat liners and footmuffs.

10 lowlights

Of course there are some imperfections - here's a quick list of the ones that niggle me the most.
  1. The rain covers are ridiculous. They are designed to fit so tightly that you practically break your fingers trying to get them on. With a footmuff on, it is virtually impossible to get it on at all. Furthermore, because the seat units sit so closely, the rain covers start sticking together when you're trying to stretch them on. **Note - Bugaboo have since released a new version of the rain cover which I've been told is much easier to get on.
  2. All side by sides feel a bit like you're pushing a tank, some shops and cafes will simply not be accessible any more.
  3. At a quick walking pace all Donkeys are known to start vibrating at the front wheels until you slow down again. It seems to be a bit of an engineering problem, Bugaboo really should investigate it.
  4. Trying to pack it into a car, even a spacious estate feels like a mission.
  5. Having a foam rather than a leather handle on a pushchair that costs around £1000 seems a bit crazy to me. Because this is a wide pushchair in double mode you're much more likely to catch it on things and tear it. Also, foam bumper bars look like huge teething toys to babies and toddlers.
  6. Why oh why oh why does the bumper bar not pivot so that you can leave it in place when you take your child in and out? Madness. There are rumours that this is one of the improvements coming on the 2015 model.
  7. Some people report problems with the strap length being an issue for older children - we've had no problems here with our average size 2/3 year old.
  8. It's impractical to hang a changing bag off the handle - but the ample sized basket means you have plenty of space for all of your clobber underneath.
  9. Hasn't been an issue for us - but in twin mode with 2 car seats on it's too wide to go through a standard size door.
  10. In single mode the side basket is not covered in the rain.

How to buy a cheap Bugaboo Donkey

That's my low down on the pros and cons, now what about the price. As I said, there are definitely ways that you can avoid paying full price for a Donkey. We managed to make a saving of 23% off the price of our brand new Donkey (that's well over £200) - here's how.

John Lewis brand new in box returns
Our local John Lewis (in Cambridge) had in its warehouse a brand new in box Bugaboo Donkey. It was a duplicate item that had gone to a customer, but wasn't required. As it had the customer's address label on the box, they weren't able to sell it at the RRP. This seems a little crazy doesn't it? The box had never been opened, so the contents were in perfect condition. And we were able to buy it at a 23% discount. Of course, these deals are not advertised, it was just a very lucky coincidence that came about through a phone call to the store. But it's definitely worth calling your local shop to see what they might have in - you never know!

Second hand but hardly used
The other route you can go down is second hand. Of course there is good old eBay, but if you don't want the stress of bidding why not consider Facebook? There is a very active Bugaboo Donkey Loves UK page full of people talking about Donkeys, and selling whole pushchairs and accessories. You have to apply to join the group (it keeps out some of the spammers trying to take money for pushchairs they don't own and are pretending to sell) but once you're in you can try and grab yourself a bargain. Many sellers are prepared to post items if you can't find one for sale near to where you live. The admin very helpfully provide an up to date price list so you know whether what's being advertised is a fair price.

  • Donkey Mono v1 silver: £400-450
  • Donkey Mono v1 black: £500-550
  • Donkey Duo v1 silver: £600-650
  • Donkey Duo v1 black: £650-700
  • Donkey Mono v1.1 silver: £500-550
  • Donkey Mono v1.1 black: £600-650
  • Donkey Duo v1.1 silver: £700-750
  • Donkey Duo v1.1 black: £800-850

Of course prices will vary according to the condition of the pushchair, so make sure you find out exactly what is being sold before you commit to buying. Also expect to pay postage and PayPal fees on top of these prices.

What's the difference between a Donkey v1 and a v1.1

Just a quick note about the difference between v1 and v1.1. V1.1 has two buttons to fold, and the frame folders flatter, and therefore smaller than v1. There's rumoured to be a new version coming out in 2015 but don't expect major changes other than the things I've mentioned above (pivoting bumper bars and a more practical rain cover).

I'm obliged to add that this review was not sponsored by Bugaboo. We forked out our own hard-earned cash to buy our Donkey. All thoughts and opinions above are my own. Other double pushchairs are available - but you ain't going to find anything else as good as the Donk!

Finally, a little note about that picture... Little H was only 4 days old which is why I look so FAT!


Read more ...

Sunday, 1 February 2015

10 things I've learnt about 2 year-olds

I mentioned in a recent post that Bobble is only a few weeks away from turning 3. So as the so-called terrible twos draw to a close, I thought I'd make a handy little list of everything I've learnt about 2 year-olds.

1. Sleep battles

Sleep regression hits big time at 2 years. Don't be mistaken into thinking that this is the end of naps, it's just a phase! It's exhausting and frustrating in equal measures, but don't let the daytime nap go. Regression usually takes the form of night-time awakenings (for hours on end... sorry about that) or refusing to nap. Ride it out and keep offering naps until it really impacts on the time they go to sleep at bedtime.

2. Shouldn't they know this by now?

At some point during this year you will compare your child to another child. You will worry that they don't know their colours, they can't count to 10 and their sentence structure is never going to come together. There is little point stressing about this. One day, everything will just fall into place.

3. Tantrums without tiaras

Repeat after me. The emotional and behavioural meltdowns do not take place because your child hates you. Your child is simply struggling to manage their emotions. It can be embarrassing and frustrating. But it's not personal.

4. And breathe...

During these meltdowns the best thing for you to do is to offer cuddles and reassurance. You're going to have to fight every instinct on this one! But shouting at your toddler is not cool and does not make you feel like a good person. Leave the room and take a breather. Or scream into a pillow. Whatever makes you feel better.

5. Mute button?

Can't wait for your toddler to become more vocal? Just you wait. By the end of the year you will be desperately looking for an off button for this little chatterbox!

6. Mirror, mirror on the wall

Two year-olds are curious about everything and absorb so much detail day in and day out. Before you know it, your language, behaviour and habits will be reflected right back at you. So prepare for your language and the way you do things to be repeated in public!

7. Fun in the unlikeliest of places

Two year-olds make excellent companions. Their enthusiasm and boundless energy for what you might have classed as the mundane is a revelation. Adventure can be found anywhere.

8. This one, or this one?

Opinions and control are big currency to a two year-old. Make life easy by offering two options for everything from what they eat, what they wear and what they want to do today.

9. Bribery without the corruption

It's time to bring out the lawyer in you. Negotiation, manipulation and compromise will be required, as well as a willingness to pick your battles. There is also no shame in offering stickers and chocolate buttons in exchange for all manner of things!

10. Simple creatures

Above all else, two year-olds want nothing more than to feel loved, to make you laugh, to be able to communicate their needs and to play.

Bring on the big 3!

On the whole, I've enjoyed the twos. Sure, there have been challenges and moments when I've been a few clicks away from giving Bobble away on Gumtree... But it's been a fun year. It's a shift from toddler to little boy. The end of the horrors and catch-all scape-goat that is teething. And the true blossoming of a personality - full of quirks and jam-packed with loveliness. I can't wait to see what happens next.

Read more ...

Friday, 30 January 2015

Feel-good giving - From a Mother to Another

Yesterday an email popped into my inbox from JoJo Maman Bebe that really caught my eye.


Hate landfill, love giving

The headline was 'Give something worthwhile this Mother's Day'. In the email there was mention of the fact that a third of UK clothing ends up in landfill. A third! I hate this kind of waste. In fact, I hate the thought of anything still in working order simply being chucked in the bin simply because you don't know what to do with it. I also dislike clutter too, so regularly have the urge to purge! You might remember this from an earlier post when I spoke of my love of Freecycle.

For clothes, I regularly use the clothing bank at our recycling centre. When it comes to baby clothes, now that Little H is racing through the different sizes, I've tried a few different ways of getting rid of them by selling bundles on Facebook or Gumtree, or passing on to friends with younger babies. The main problem I've found with selling clothes is that it's an awful lot of effort for only a few pounds. Facebook is full of selling groups, and everyone has baby and toddler clothes to sell. It's a crowded market. Plus the time it takes to photograph and list everything... well I'm just not sure it's worth the effort.

From a Mother to Another

This is where the email from JoJo really struck a chord with me. They hate waste, and have set up a campaign in conjunction with Barnado's to ensure that these wasted clothes don't end up in the bin, but go to vulnerable families who need them. I love this idea. A part of me has been pondering for a while how easy it would be to ensure that my old stuff went to a good home. And by this I mean where it's really, really needed, not just to someone who loves a bargain or a freebie. But who could facilitate such a thing? Well it seems that JoJo Maman Bebe and Barnado's have done it.

It couldn't be easier to get involved. All the information you need is on a page on the JoJo Maman Bebe community website. But before you leave my page and go and read theirs, here's a quick summary:
  1. Sort out a batch of clothes for a specific gender, size and season and put together 6-12 items which would make up 1-3 outfits. The clothes should be folded, clean and in good condition.
  2. Download a special label and attach it to the bag of clothes.
  3. Drop it off at a JoJo Maman Bebe shop before the 30 April.
  4. Receive a gift voucher for £5 to spend in store for your troubles.
  5. Take a photo of you with your donation and use the hash tag #mothertoanother

Ready to get involved?

So there you have it. I know for sure that I am going to prepare a donation. I reckon I can easily put together a summer bundle for a baby boy, and maybe a winter one too. Of course I will still sell and pass on some of our other baby clothes, but that's the beauty of this campaign. You can do both. But by taking part in #mothertoanother you get to enjoy that wonderful warm feeling of know that you have made a difference.

Disclaimer - I have not been asked to write about this campaign by JoJo Maman Bebe. I just happen to think that this is a blooming good idea and I wanted to share it.

Coincidentally a package from JoJo arrived through my letterbox yesterday too - a lovely polarfleece scarf to keep Bobble's neck warm during this Arctic spell that we seem to be having at the moment. The scarf is lovely and very fairly priced, as always with JoJo stuff. And, get this, they offer free delivery to all UK addresses - how good is that?

Logo credit: JoJo Maman Bebe

Read more ...

Sunday, 25 January 2015

The ultimate highs and lows of parenting

In 5 weeks, my oldest son - my first born, my baby - turns 3. Wow. It's such a cliché that the weeks and months and years slip by so quickly with children. But it ain't half true.

This time 3 years ago I was just a month away from my due date. It's such a weird time, that pre-baby waiting. And this time of year always makes me think of it. The cold, biting wind of January. With
all hope and optimism firmly fixed on the arrival of Spring. I was lugging my huge bump around this town that I hardly knew. My diary was free, apart from the every-other-week midwife appointments, and a once a week attendance at a Bumps and Babies group. I simply couldn't imagine how my life was going to change. I remember studying all of this baby equipment that now filled our house and tried to imagine putting it into use. But I just couldn't imagine what it was going to be like. It was too much of a leap into the unknown.

And yet here we are. Almost 3 years later. There are two little boys sleeping upstairs. My living room has been taken over with brightly coloured toys. My laundry routine has gone from a twice weekly affair to an unconquerable mountain, that is never under control. My kitchen cupboards are full of a variety of plastic plates, bowls and cups that become a leaning tower of Pisa on the draining board day after day. And our Tesco food bill? It's out of control. How are we going to feed them when they're teenagers?

Ringing in the changes

Paraphernalia and changes to domestic routine aside, I've often thought about the changes that parenthood brings. And I've wanted to document them. Because like so much that's associated with having babies and raising children, you forget. I think it's nature's anaesthetic. And while I think that's fabulous for childbirth and the hideousness of the months of broken sleep. I think it would be a great shame to forget the other stuff.

The highs and lows

I don't think there's anything else that can bring you such soaring highs, and crushing, sinking lows. Well maybe there is. But I've not experienced them. I'm also going to acknowledge the fact that my children are still only almost 3, and less than 1. What the next 5 or 10 years will bring, I simply don't know.

The good stuff

Oh my. This is easy. Those first smiles, the second smiles. All the smiles. I am not a morning person, but my heart lifts every morning when my little people, fresh-faced and unencumbered with the troubles of yesterday greet me. For the record, if I am greeted by these faces before 6am, none of this applies.

The request for a Mummy Cuddle. Bobble made us wait almost 2 years before he started to willingly offer out cuddles. Even today he does not do kisses. He frequently tells me that my kisses are 'no good'. So cuddles carry more currency. He asks for one when he feels worried, frightened, tired, or sometimes, just when he realises that he hasn't had one all day. There's a caveat with this one too. On a clingy day, when he wants nothing else by Mummy Cuddles and I'm actually trying to do something my patience is stretched super thin.

The pride. These little people give you more pride than you ever thought was possible. I'm not even sure that pride was that much of a big deal pre-children. Sure, a good exam grade or a nice bit of feedback at work would make me feel proud. But this is different. This is a warmth, a clap your hands in delight, and puff your feathers out sort of feeling. But it comes from the tiniest thing. I've felt it with every first milestone that the boys hit, but it reached new heights when I saw what kind of big brother Bobble was going to be.

Which leads me neatly on to my last point - siblings. I'd like to talk more about this in a future post, but watching the relationship develop between your two children is magical. When they look into each other's eyes, or laugh together, or the big one gives the little one a toy and tells him that every thing is ok... it's awesome.

The bad stuff

If your children haven't had you in tears over something or made you scream with rage (inwardly or outwardly!) then I don't think you have truly experienced parenthood. Is it wrong to speak about this stuff? Absolutely not. Because without it, those sweet, magnificent highs would not taste as good.

The tortuous lack of sleep. I don't know a lot about interrogation or torture, but sleep deprivation is always one of the weapons. Whether your baby fights every nap, whether they wake up 8 times a night or they only sleep for 20 minutes at a time, you and I know that a lack of sleep makes you feel broken. Insane. Incapable of anything. I've lost count of the number of times I had laid in bed and cried when one of my children has woken up AGAIN (and by this I usually mean for the umpteenth time that night, usually when I was under the impression that they had in fact gone back to sleep). Nothing can prepare you for it. And from this point forward you will become obsessed with sleep.

Frustration. A lot of life as a parent is frustrating. Not getting enough sleep is frustrating, but you do sort of expect that. But this is a different sort of frustration that comes from not being able to control your little person because damn it, they're an individual with thoughts and opinions of their own! They don't like this food. They don't want to join in with the singing at the group you go to even though they know all the words. They get scared when a bigger child comes near them in the playground. They cling to you like a limpet at soft play because they're not feeling that out going. They won't cooperate with getting dressed even though you're already mega late. They point blank refuse to read a new book and choose the same bedtime book every night for 3 weeks. Pass me the pillow, I need to scream into it.

Shame. You shouted in a rage at your toddler. Your baby's inability to sleep fills you with an unjustifiable anger. You daydream of a day off. You miss your old, uncomplicated, carefree life. A lot of mums speak about guilt. I personally don't get this. I have made these choices so guilt is a wasted emotion. But I do feel ashamed sometimes. I am a responsible adult, who should be in control. But I am also a person who is doing what I consider to be the hardest, most challenging job that I have ever done. I am only human.

Riding the rollercoaster

So what does it all mean? Well I guess that without the bad times you wouldn't appreciate the good times. The high points only feel so high because the low points take you down so deep.

It's one hell of a bigger dipper isn't it? What would be on your list of highs and lows?

Read more ...

Friday, 23 January 2015

Introducing Crafty Bird - creator of beautiful homemade personalised baby name pictures

Earlier this year I stumbled across a lovely lady making and selling wonderful things from her shop on Etsy. This site is a treasure trove of gorgeousness, isn't it?

At the time I was looking for something personalised to go on the wall in Little H's room. When Bobble was born we were inundated with so many presents! I think it's quite normal for baby #2 to not receive quite the same quantity of presents. After all, most people quite rightly expect you to recycle as much as you can from your first baby. Far from being ungrateful (gift horse, mouth and all that), I simply took it as a opportunity to buy him a little extra present from us.

The Crafty Bird's shop window on Etsy got me very excited! Her personalised felt name pictures were SO sweet. There are about a million different personalised pictures for babies available to buy online, but I'd never seen anything like this before. And priced at just £30 plus £7.50 postage, I thought that they were fantastically well priced too.

I got in touch with Sharon, owner of The Crafty Bird, via her Etsy shop and asked what animals she could do for Little H. She suggested either a hedgehog or a hippo. We chose a hippo and left Sharon to go away and come up with a design. Within a day or so, she came back to me with some colour swatches for everything that was going to be in the picture, including the big letter H. Once the colours were agreed she worked on the design. I can't quite remember how long it took, but Sharon kept me informed all the way through the process. She showed me the picture as she created it in stages, and got me to approve the final version before she stitched it all in to place. Less than 2 weeks after I placed my order, the finished piece was hanging in Little H's room.

Here's Little H's hippo - isn't it just the cutest thing?

And guess what, we loved it so much that we ordered Bobble one for his room. On Christmas Day, he unwrapped his very own Orangutan!

So, if you're looking for a homemade, utterly unique and personalised present for a new baby, I can highly recommend The Crafty Bird. Visit her Facebook page to see some more of her beautiful creations.

Note - I sourced and paid for this pictures of my own free will. No animals were harmed in the making of these pictures.

Read more ...

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Do I need a double pushchair for a toddler and a newborn?

When we found on that baby #2 was on the way, it didn't take us long to start thinking about what new baby equipment we could reuse, and what new things we might need to buy. It was exactly the same as when I was pregnant with Bobble, our first initial searches online were about pushchairs.

As I said in my Joolz Day review, it's such an important purchase to get right. Transporting your children around is something you have to do day in and day out. If you buy a pushchair that is badly made and not fit for purpose, every trip out with your baby will be spoilt. I don't think I'm being dramatic here. Or maybe it's just me. I equate it to putting on some clothes that don't fit quite right, or are a bit itchy, or that you constantly have to readjust. They bug you all day, and spoil your mood.

Do I need a double pushchair for a toddler and a newborn?

I don't know how many times I typed this phrase into Google. Or how many different pages of results I read. It's not a new dilemma by any means. But if you have an age gap of less than 3 years, I think it's something that everyone who is expecting their second child ponders. We went right the way around the houses for a while, thinking about this. We would have a gap of 2 years and 4 months between our boys. I'm going to share our thinking, and also our opinions on the different options that are out there. Spoiler alert - we bought a Bugaboo Donkey. A full review of this pushchair will be coming up soon!


What's the age gap?

As I said, there would be 2 years and 4 months between our boys. In many ways this made the decision harder. If there's less than 2 years between your children, I personally think you'd be a bit mad to not buy a double pushchair. So if you have a gap of 2-3 years, how do you decide whether you're going to need one or not? So here's what I think it boils down to...

Your toddler

    1. How far can your toddler walk before they get tired?   

    If you've got the type of child that is going to frequently ask to be carried, chances are you are going to need a seat for them in a pushchair.

    2. How fast can your toddler walk? 

    So they like to walk everywhere? Excellent. Consider what will happen when you're running late (unless you're Super Mum, this will be a common occurrence when you have two children!) A buggy board might be a good solution, so they can hop on for a speedier ride.

    3. Does your toddler still nap in the day?  

    On a long day out, if they don't have somewhere to sleep, are you going to end up with a grouchy toddler if there's nowhere for them to rest or sleep?

    4. How trustworthy is your toddler - do they run off frequently or are they fiercely independent?

    Being able to 'contain' your toddler is often cited as being important to mothers of those spirited and independent children. If you don't trust them to stay safe near roads, or to not jump off a buggy board mid flight, you'll need a place to keep them strapped in and safe.  

    Your lifestyle

    1. How often do you use your current pushchair?

    If you're still using it on a daily basis, will it be fair or practical to suddenly require that your toddler walks or rides on a buggy board from now on? If you only use it occasionally, think about those occasions, and whether you can just get away with a walking toddler or a buggy board.  

    2. Do you mostly walk, or travel by car or public transport?

    If you mostly walk, you need to imagine doing all of those outings with a walking toddler or toddler on a buggy board. If you mostly travel by car or public transport, size matters. Double pushchairs, whether they're side by side or in-line are big. They will either take up significantly more space in your car boot or make it trickier to get on the bus or train.  

    3. Have you got a place to store a double pushchair?  

    Again, size matters. Maybe you don't keep your current pushchair in the house and instead choose to keep it in the car boot or a garage - will a double fit in there? If you do keep it in the house, measure up and see if there's space for a double.


    The right choice for you

    I don't think we really justified our choice until about 6 months after Little H was born! Before then, we were about 70/30 on a decision in favour of getting one. But it was only going to be day to day life that proved whether or not we had made the right decision. I know plenty of people that faced a similar decision and have quite happily managed without one. Likewise, I have friends who have ended up going out to buy a double after their second baby has arrived.

    The bottom line for me was that I wanted to make my life as simple as possible. Having two small children to look after was going to be anything but simple, so if another piece of equipment might help, then I would like to have it.

    What are the options for double pushchairs?

    Doubles come in two styles - side by side, and tandem or in-line (one seat in front of the other). The style that you prefer is completely personal. Both have their advantages, which I'll talk about in more detail below. But now is a good point to mention one very important word - COMPROMISE. Double pushchairs are all about compromise. Searching for the perfect one for you is nothing like the search for your single pushchair. There is always a really big compromise. You just have to decide what that compromise will be for you!

    Side by side double pushchairs

    Why you will love them
    • Equality - both children get a great seat from where they can see the world, rather than just the pavement or the seat in front of them.
    • Bonding - your two kids can sit side by side, hold hands, chat to each other and have some quality bonding time!
    • Options - many brands come with options to have a carry cot in one of the seats, so your newborn can truly lay flat from birth.
    • Toddler comfort  - if your toddler still sleeps in the day, they may well need a seat that reclines, this is almost guaranteed with a side by side.

    Why you won't love them
    • Wide load - there's no escaping the fact that this is a wide buggy. It may not be double the width of a standard single, but it is significantly wider.
    • Frame size - these beasts don't fold down that compactly.
    • Tank - take a side by side for a spin around a shop and it will feel like you're driving a tank!

    What's the compromise? 
    The biggest compromise is this - a side by side is not a nippy little pushchair. You will be able to get through most standard doors, but some shops, cafes and forms public transport are going to be a struggle.


    Tandem double pushchairs

    Why you will love them
    • Compact - they are no wider than a standard single pushchair. You will still be able to access all your favourite places without worrying about not fitting through a narrow gap.  
    • Conversion - many in-line doubles can easily convert from single to double. This is much harder to find with side by sides.
    • Balance - second child not there? This pushchair will handle just as well without the weight of the second child.

    Why you won't love them
    • The second seat - often just inches from the pavement, there's not much of a view down there, particularly when your baby is older than 6 months and wants to sit up and look out.
    • Newborn options - very few have the options for a newborn to sleep in a rigid, traditional style carry cot.
    • Sibling bonding - the antithesis of the side by side, your two children can't see each other or communicate.
    • Curb appeal - while side by sides are wide, in-lines are long and can feel heavy and awkward when going up curbs.

    What's the biggest compromise?
    The biggest compromise is this - this pushchair does not offer two equally good seats. One child is stuck with a restricted view.

    Our choice

    In our search for the ideal double buggy, we decided that these things were deal-breakers:
    1. It had to have a proper carry cot for a newborn. A reclined toddler seat with straps was not an option. Neither was a soft, cocoon type carry cot. We wanted something that a baby could sleep in comfortably during the day for long periods of time, and even be used as a carry cot for an overnight sleep, just like the carry cot on our Joolz Day.
    2. The toddler seat had to recline. From 19 months onwards, Bobble would only nap in the pushchair, so there had to be somewhere for him to sleep during day time naps.
    3. It had to fit in our (estate!) car, by having a fairly compact fold.
    4. It had to handle as nicely as our Joolz Day, so we're talking a smooth push, good handling up and down curbs and a good length extending handle.

    Who makes the best double pushchair?

    I'd like to say upfront that I haven't conducted an exhaustive review of the whole double pushchair market. I didn't see all of the models in person, but gleaned a lot of the pros and cons from online reviews. And remember, we were looking for something that could offer everything I've listed above. Your own needs may well be different to mine. I dismissed any kind of umbrella fold style buggy outright - it couldn't offer the newborn carry cot that we wanted, and I'm not a big fan of that type of lightweight pushchair for anything other than holidays.

    Side by side double pushchair brands

    Baby Jogger City
    A carry cot is an optional extra. However, from 6 months your baby has to face outwards as the seats are fixed. I've only heard good things about Baby Joggers. People say that are light weight, very manoeuvrable and have a very compact fold.

    Bugaboo Donkey
    Mega bucks. But a unique and massively convertible design.

    First Wheels City Twin
    The only design out there that comes close to the Donkey. I didn't see one in person, but have read that it's very wide (wider than the Donkey and won't go through a standard door) and very heavy. 

    Mountain Buggy Duet
    We liked the handling and options of being able to have a carry cot, but it didn't seem that comfortable for Bobble. The fabric of the seat and the way it reclined felt like a big down step from the Joolz.

    Out and About Nipper 360
    I didn't try one of these in person, but know a lot of people that rave about them. I didn't like the lack of carry cot, or the very reclined seating position.


    Baby Jogger City Select
    I think this is a great option for twins, but of all the 16 different seating options, there wasn't one which had the carry cot at the top facing me, and the toddler seat facing outwards.

    Babystyle Oyster Max
    I really thought this could be The One. Until I took it for a test drive. It felt heavy and due to the short handle (or my long legs!) I was constantly kicking the carry cot on the bottom. I wasn't too keen about the fact that the carry cot had to face outwards as well. 

    Britax B-Dual
    Like the Babystyle Oyster Max, I really wanted to like this... but I hated it. It weighed an absolute tonne, without any children in it! Beside that, it didn't have a rigid carry cot either. 

    iCandy (Apple to Pear,  Peach Blossom, Pear)
    I had liked iCandy when we were shopping for a single, but one look at the seat size of their doubles and it was obvious Bobble would have to be squeezed in. I think these are best for twins rather than different aged children. 

    Joolz Geo
    Wasn't available when we were shopping, and I've not seen it in any shops since it has been released. 

    Phil and Teds (various)
    None include a solid carry cot for the newborn. To be honest, I was really disappointed by this when we were shopping as I really thought this would be a great option for us. 

    Uppababy Vista with rumble seat
    Although it has various seat configurations, none provided the carry cot at the front (preferably facing towards me) with the toddler in a seat facing outwards, in a seat capable of reclining.

    If you want to read more about these pushchairs and other options, I can highly recommend this website


    What are the options if you don't want to buy another buggy?

    Many people manage perfectly happily without a double. Carrying your baby in a sling and keeping your toddler in the pushchair works for a lot of people. Buggy boards are also fantastic (although you will keep kicking the blummin' thing) and most toddlers love riding on them. Or a simple pair of reins on a toddler that loves to walk everywhere will keep them safe, and be less stressful for you.



    Double nap time - my favourite time of the day!
    So there you have it. This is the process that we went through when we decided whether we needed a double pushchair or not. You might conclude that we are hugely fussy, or just have money to burn (so far from the truth!) but I wanted to find a pushchair that would make my second child just as comfortable as my first.

    As I said, we ended up buying the  Bugaboo Donkey. A review of this is coming up shortly. I will also be sharing a few secrets and tricks about how you can buy one for well under the quite frankly, scary £1000 price tag.
    Read more ...

    Friday, 16 January 2015

    Ending the hiatus

    Time to throw open the curtains. Blow away the cobwebs. Dust down the keyboard. Have a bit of a stretch and a yawn. It's been a while, hasn't it? Over a year in fact. But I'm back! While I doubt that anyone missed me from this dark and dusty corner of the internet, I am raring to go and so pleased to be back.

    So what's new?

    Well. I had another baby for starters. To be honest, that was the main reason for the hiatus. This time last year I was 4 months pregnant. I had a 22 month old too, and I felt constantly tired. By the evening I'd run out of energy and ideas, and just couldn't make the time for One Good Turn any more. As my pregnancy progressed and I grew bigger and bigger, I didn't get any less tired (funny, that) and when baby boy #2 arrived in June, tiredness took on a whole new meaning. Little H is now 7 months old and not a great sleeper like Bobble was... so yeah. Tiredness prevails, massive eye bags remain etc etc. But I do finally have my evenings back and a fairly consistent routine during the day, which I want to put to good use. By bringing One Good Turn back from hibernation, hooray!

    What next?

    The good news is that I've got lots of post ideas. Loads. And I'm really excited. I've remembered why I started this blog - because I love helping people by sharing useful information and experience. And I want to be able to do that again. I'm buoyed up by the fact that even though I haven't posted anything for over a year, my posts are still getting read. And therefore I am still helping people. That really does make me feel all warm and cosy inside.

    As for me...? 

    In case you're interested, Bobble is just a few weeks away from turning 3. Three. Years. Old. How did that happen? Eek. He's brilliant. A constant chatterbox. So funny. And a lovely, sweet, caring big brother. Little H could not be more different to Bobble in every way, from his looks, to his eating and sleeping habits. He's a regular cheeky little monkey with a mischievous glint in his eyes. I'll be sharing lots about having a second baby and siblings in the weeks to come.

    Here they are. My boys.

    So there you go. If you missed me, I'm sorry. And if you've just found me, hello! Stick around, because I've got lots coming up.
    Read more ...