Monday 31 October 2011

Tenterden Playground - A Lucky Mistake

I forget the date, but it was the day before Thomas the tank Engine was due to arrive at the Tenterden Steam railway this summer.  We did not know this fact at the time, but we planned to take my two children on the train that Friday because it was a beautiful day and both my parents were free to go.  As we arrived at the car park we noticed that it was very quiet but assumed that people were at school or in bed at almost 10 o'clock in the morning.  We jumped out of the car, got the kids out, moved a tonne of junk from the car to the bottom of the buggy and walked up to the station.  On looking at the calendar we then realised that there were no trains running on that day (the only Friday of the season that they would be closed). 

As you can imagine my 3.5yr old son was very upset at not being able to ride the train, and a worker/volunteer took pity on us and let us onto the platform to see the trains.  It was then that we discovered that Thomas was going to be there the following day which only made matters worse with William.  We've seen Thomase before, one year earlier at the B&O Railway Museum in Baltimore.  It had consisted of a ten minute ride on the regular train pulled by Thomas, a photo opportunity that cost an additioanl $20, and the being pushed into a tent stacked high with Thomas toys surrounded by screaming children whose parents could not afford the inflated prices.  In the US, you can easily get at least 40% off Thomas wooden train sets at local hobby shops.

So, we got to walk along the platform telling my son numerous times that the train was broken and all the men there were trying to fix it.  They already had some of the equipment there for the following day so we did get this photograph.

Sir Topham Hat/ The Fat Controller

A bit of a wash out, but we were determined to have some fun.  Funnily enough as we had driven onto Tenterden high street we had passed a playground on the left hand side and William had shouted "Can we go to the playground PLEEEEEEASE!".  So my son got his wish and we went back to the playground for the day.

I wish that I had taken more photographs because I dont know when we'll go back, it's a bit of a drive for a trip to the playground.  There were lots of areas to play in.  A smaller kids area, a wooden train, bigger equipment for the big kids and an exercise equipment area which William LOVED.

Exercise Equipment at the Park

I don't know when this happened, but it now seems the norm to put actual exercise equipment in local playgrounds.  Isn't the whole point of going to the playground to have fun and exercise without even knowing it.  A few years ago I was shopping in Neiman Marcus in Washington DC and happened through the baby department where they had miniature exercise bikes and treadmills for those of us who can't get to a park?  The mind boggles.

We had a picnic while William played with the other kids he met there.  He absolutely loved the huge slide they have there on the side of a small hill, although most of the kids were actually sliding down the hill next to the slide and thought it was a lot more fun.

There was something for everyone.  Even Ellie got to ride on the egg cup shaped ride thing that spins around (as also found at Kemsing Recreation Ground).

William looking cool with his collar up

 William and his adoring sister Ellie

Ellie wondering whether to puke or not

As you can possibly tell, this was my Mums favourite ride, and we spent a lot of time pushing Ellie and William around.
When Ellie wasn't on the egg cup ride, she laid out on the grass and made friends with the lady bugs.

Ellie and her new friend

Tenterden playground has some really nice facilities including a large green space, tennis courts, exercise equipment, plentiful playground equipment, and it's right in the middle of town.  We did have to pay to park, but locals may know of free alternatives.  There was a Waitrose nearby that could possibly provide parking if you are shopping there as it does in Sevenoaks (let's not go there!).

It's a park you could spend the day at and never really get bored.

If you want to add more photos which give a better picture of what's on offer at this playground don't hesitate to let me know.  My contact details can be found at or here.

Thursday 27 October 2011

Carriwell Seamless Drop Cup Nursing Bra Review

If you have been following my previous reviews, you'll know that I have reviewed other seamless nursing bras, the Emma-Jane 361 and Emma-Jane 365.  I love seamless nursing bras because they are so comfortable and are so versatile.  The Carriwell Seamless Drop Cup is not different.  The seamless design makes it super comfortable throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding.  There is no irritation when breast and nipple can be so tender.  This makes it perfect for both day and night wear, so the ideal gift for a newly pregnant woman, or a new Mum.  The side sling support is definitely more supportive and substantial than the Emma-Jane 361 side sling support, and if a woman does not feel enough support from the 361 or the 365 then I always offer this bra for a larger cup size and additional support.

The matching briefs come in two different styles, both designed for after pregnancy.  The hipsters are shown in the photograph above, and a higher waisted post birth brief is also available which has additional support to pull that tummy in.

Both nursing bra and brief wash really well in cold water on a delicate cycle, and I usually hang to dry out of the sun.  The tag says that they will be fine at 40C and the white can wash up to 60C.  The Seamless Drop Cup is available in Black, White and a Deep Red (my favourite), and a range of sizes as shown.

You definitely get what you pay for with this nursing bra: Quality, Support, and Comfort.

Saturday 22 October 2011

Kemsing Playground - Nightingale Road TN15 6RU

The playground on Kemsing recreation ground and Nightingale Road were recently updated, which is great because they had not been touched in probably 15 years at least.  I remember playing there when I was a kid.  So, I got my kids together along with the neighbours daughter to go and check out Nightingale Road.  You may not know about it, it's pretty hidden behind Castle Drive away from the Village proper.  While we were there a lot of children made use of the new equipment which is really nice to see.  I even met a Mum with her two boys who had travelled from Sevenoaks because she liked it so much and it isn't as busy as HollyBush.

William & Isla on the slide

There are two main areas to the playground which is located in the middle of a large playing field with good off street parking past the local allotments.  There is a fenced off area with a gate which caters to smaller children, and behind this area there is a large area with equipment tailored towards larger kids.

In the fenced off area there are 2 swings for older kids and 2 for toddlers.  There is also a slide (pictured above), a roundabout (below), seesaw and bouncy/spring four seater thing that my Mum nearly broke when she sat on it.  The seesaw does not move a great deal with small kids on it, so a bit of muscle from Mum or Dad is needed.

William & Isla on the roundabout

The Roundabout is Williams favourite playground toy, so he was happy.  They didn't put one at the Kemsing recreation field location.  For whatever reason, he loves to just sit on them and drag his feet on the ground.  I'm sure that this as why they all got removed from playgrounds when I was a kid.  Hopefully they have fixed the problem with kids getting their feet stuck underneath, it's not good for shoes either (luckily I got them from an NCT nearly new sale for £2).

 There is the four seater springy thing

So imagine William sitting in the middle of the ring pictured above with Isla sitting on the far side.  Now imagine a granny, not too tall, and a little over weight (aren't we all?) sitting on the seat closest to the camera.  I don't know how the kids didn't launch into outerspace, but my Mum did land on the ground, and the spring is not looking as it did before we got there.  This one is NOT for adults!

View of the toys for bigger kids (and adults)

A closer view of the zip line and death trap

The kids soon got bored with the little kids playground, seeing kids playing out in the playing fiedl they wanted to join in the fun.  In the larger field there is a zip line which nearly killed an unsuspecting Mother just after we arrived when she decided to go on it while being pushed by 5 teenagers.  I really thought she was going to fly, and when she dismounted I grinned at her, but she was really angry (probably embarrassed too).

The death trap refers to the green structure in the background.  It has two chains hanging from it with a disc to sit on.  The two swings then spin around like a twirly washing line.  When we arrived at the playground there were a couple of older kids on this equipment with their Dad pushing them.  He got them up to such a speed that the two swings were horizontal to the ground.  Oh, if only I hadn't been wearing a baby in a sling, I would have been right on that?!?

The last two pieces of equipment can be seen in the background of the third photo, a climbing frame of rope and a swing that you lay in also made of rope.  The kids had the most fun climbing the rope climbing frame.  The first time William climbed it he got stuck and an older boy helped him down (Thank You), he got straight back on and by the third time managed to get down from the top all by himself.

We had a great time at the playground, made some new friends and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  I am a little upset that we didn't get a zip line at the other Kemsing playground, but I can live with it.  The only negative was the trash.  There was a lot of trash outside the fenced in playground, but this may have been due t the fact that no trash can had been provided in that area.  Of course that is never a good reason for littering, but another trash can would be nice Sevenoaks County Council.

Find out more about me, my family and my nursing bra fitting business on my website.

Friday 21 October 2011

Breast Pads, Nipple Cream and "The CODE"

Everyone who has had a baby and breastfed has heard of Lansinoh Nipple Cream, the one in the purple tube.  Since starting work in the public health field and working with breastfeeding mothers, I have had access to Lansinoh nipple cream and given it out to get mothers through those first few weeks of nipple tenderness.  After attending a few breastfeeding conferences I also had access to many nursing pad samples.  In 2007 I attended the ILCA conference in San Diego, CA while pregnant and was given an assortment of pillows, pumping attachments, nipple creams and breast pads.  I've had success with Lansinoh, Ameda and Medela disposable nursing pads, not so much with Simplisse.  Since 2007, all four of these companies have had changes of ownership or run into trouble with how they measure up to the "Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes", so I have tried a number of different breast pads to find something that is both code compliant and great.  Hygeia fits that bill but is not available in the UK.  I have tried both Sainsbury's and Tesco's generic breast pads with little success.  They are smaller, thicker and less absorbant.  At the beginning of Ellie's life when I was leaking the most, they ended up a soggy mess by the morning, with a big wet patch on my pj's or bed sheet URGH!

I also received a number of different nipple creams at the conference and tried them all.  I found that the easier they were to spread, the more useful they were.  Medela has the TenderCare nipple cream which is a lot easier to spread and acts more like a lotion than the sticky original Medela nipple cream or Lansinoh nipple cream.  The Simplisse nipple cream comes in a pump and looks like a white moisturiser and spreads really nicely too.  Again, this comes back to availability and CODE compliance.  I have found it hard to find anything other than Lansinoh nipple cream in the UK, and anything other than the large sized tube which is super hard to squeeze and is really big, enough for three or four Mums to share if I'm honest.

So, what are the choices?  Nature Babycare has come out with a biodegradable disposable breast pad which I am interested in stocking but can be found online.  Natracare also have a biodegradable product available which I hope to try very soon, and I'll let you know how it goes.  Ofcourse, you must be thinking why am I not using washable breast pads, and you should be.  I have always meant to try them, but right now I can only just keep up with my cloth diapers (and my mother spends too much energy complaining about how Ellie looks so uncomfortable in them and uses the Nature Babycare instead), one thing at a time I guess.

If you want to find out more about the CODE and how it relates to breastfeeding products, you can google it, search on Baby Milk Action, WABA, or some of the bloggers do a great job such as Blacktating.

Comments on pads that you have used and nipple creams that worked for you would be really great.

Thursday 13 October 2011

New Playground in Kemsing - What took so long? updated

If you've visited Kemsing recreation grounds in the last 20+ years you'll recognise the fence and gate, everything else has been replaced with brand new equipment.  Since moving back to Kemsing 10 months ago, I have managed to avoid the playground as much as possible by going to better playgrounds.  To be honest, anywhere was better than Kemsing.  I think the last equipment was installed when I was a kid, and even back then I was bored with the equipment.  The swings were getting old, and a little broken. the climbing frame was a little bent from bigger kids hanging on it for the last twenty years, and the bouncy elephant was on his last legs.

Here are some photos of the equipment:

This is the smaller kids climbing frame/slide/tunnel.  Behind you can see a bouncy frog.
The swing set is pretty impressive, two big kids swing, 2 small kids swings and one of those circular swings, so everyone is covered.

This egg cup shaped ride is really popular.  These are Williams and Isla's hands hanging on as they spin around.  They weren't allowed on it today because someone had broken a bottle in it.  We did manage to get a dust pan and brush from the local nursery Bumble Bees and clean it out.  We called the Parish Council first, but they are closed anytime after 1pm.

The greatest thing about Kemsing Playground - The open space

My family returned to England for a couple of reasons, one being that we're now the proud parents of two children and wanted to be close to grandparents.  I didn't have kids back when I grew up in Sevenoaks, so I had absolutely no ideas about bringing up children here.  Now I'm getting around to knowing all the child friendly places to visit and where the best playgrounds are.  In actual fact, the best playgrounds are not in Sevenoaks, the best ones are everywhere but Sevenoaks.  I was very disappointed to visit the Swanley playground this Easter and Summer.  Don't get me wrong, it's beautiful.  Everything you could ever want in a playground all in one place, and it's run by Sevenoaks County Council.  Why does Sevenoaks not have an amazing playground like that with boating, a train, a paddling pool, sand pit..........  Then there is Tonbridge, another amazing playground with a million things to play on and a sandpit which William loves.

My husband favours Otford, and I like Wrotham.  Greatness is nice but has no shade, and Pontoise has the death-defying sand cliff.

But now Kemsing can finally compete.  The new equipment has actually had some thought gone into it.  There is equipment for all ages.  A climbing frame and slide for smaller kids, and one for larger kids.  Swings to suit all ages, and one of those egg cup round about things that Ellie just loves to lay in and get spun around in.

Well done Kemsing, I finally WANT to go to Kemsing Playground.

Anyone interested in going to play at Kemsing playground can give me a call.  All my info is on my website - BoobieMilk

Saturday 8 October 2011

Not old enough to use the slide at Wear'm'Out

My son was invited to a birthday party today at Wear'm'Out in Tonbridge.  It's a favourite of ours, a great place to go when the weather isn't too great or you want to go to an enclosed location without an escape route.

This is another indoor play area with soft play, slides and snacks.  I especially like that this location is nice and bright, you can walk around the entire play structure to look for your hiding child, and you can see your child from most anywhere in the adult seating area.

We have been to quite a few soft play centres in the area.  Some of them are really difficult to navigate, and some make it hard to keep track of your child while playing because they are so deep and dark.  The Wear'm'Out in Tonbridge is very adult friendly, I even managed to get around it eight months pregnant.

So, William was feeling a little bit shy today, he didn't know many people at the birthday party and asked me to accompany him into the play structure.  I was quite happy to go in, climb the stairs towards the slide but William was having other thoughts.  He took me towards the "slide of doom", a slide that is practically vertical from top to bottom.  While I tried to persuade him that we'd do much better on the slow bumpy slide I was lucky to be saved by the staff member keeping guard who pointed to a sign above the slide entrance which read "no adult to use slide without signing a waiver and getting their hand stamped" or something to that effect.  Apparently my son is able to go down the slide of doom as much as he likes because I signed a waiver at the door and he has his hand stamped, but me as a responsible adult cannot make that decision for myself without signing the same waiver at the door.

Thank You waiver!

and a big Thank You to Wear'm'Out for having my fliers at their front desk.  I know I posted a lot of fliers to local businesses and nurseries but it is nice when I see them out.

Thursday 6 October 2011

Nearly New Sales - What's the hurry?

I am a regular attendee at nearly new sales.  I became addicted to them in the US after having my first child, and have been attending them religiously ever since.  Why pay full price for something that is going to be worn 6 times or played with for ten minutes?

The US sales are a little bit more relaxed I think.  They take place over a number of days with thousands of items for sale, and the manager of the sale making a lot of money (40-50% of sale price).  The tags are printed online, and everything is computerised.  In the UK, there are two different types of nearly new sales.  There is the table top sale where the seller pays for a space to sell her items from, and there is the typical NCT sale where you tag your items and mix them in with everyone elses for a big rummage sale.

I don't know which works best, I do know that the Sevenoaks & Tonbridge sales do pretty well, and the table top versions are run by local businesses, so there's obviously money in it.

I volunteered for my first UK sale back in February.  The sale was taking place in April, and I was 8 months pregnant.  I organized for my husband to come home early to take care of William and went along to the school hall where I had volunteered to help set up the night before.  Well, I didn't actually get to do much.  Can you believe that the NCT wouldn't let an 8 month pregnant woman lift any chairs or any tables.  I directed the people who were allowed to move tables, hung a sign and helped put fliers in bags.

I wasn't much more helpful the following day when I arrived to help with the actual sale.  I took my mother along too so that she could at least be more helpful than me.  The NCT lets its volunteers shop before the general public gets in, and I think I carried more weight to the till than three tables put together!!  I was then put at the front door in a chair to take the entrance fee and make sure that the first customers were indeed members.  I also had to tag buggy's so that we knew they were not being stolen from the sale.  I must admit that I hadn't seen a queue this long since my days working at the Crown Point when crazy families would wait outside on Mothers Day for an hour before being let into the restaurant to then wait two hours for their food.  I still can't believe that people then actually paid for the food, but that's another story and 15 years ago.

The NCT nearly new sales are a great fundraising opportunity for the local chapters.  I have enjoyed attending and volunteering.  I do wish though, that they would extend the time of the events.  I hate to see the sellers taking home a lot of beautiful clothes and toys that just didn't sell because the time was up.  The sales usually last less than 2 hours, it really is quite frantic and rushed as everyone tries to find the best bargains before time is called.  

So, if you ever want to see 200 crazed pregnant women turnover a school hall filled with childrens clothing and toys in 30 minutes with their bewildered husbands standing looking on in awe, get yourself down to your local NCT nearly new sale.  It is a sight to behold.

Find links to other local and national resources for new Mums.  As an aside, I have not seen so many infants and young children carried in slings in the UK as I did at the recent Borough Green NCT Nearly New Sale on October 1st, 2011