Sunday, 18 November 2018

Halloween With The Lenovo Smart Display

On Halloween Eliot and I headed into London for an event with Lenovo hosted by the lovely Kimberly Wyatt, to find out all about the new Lenovo Smart Display with Google Assist. I was keen to learn more and hear about how the product can make everyday life that bit easier, which is what everyone wants especially when juggling parent life.
 On arriving Eliot was wowed by all the pumpkins and amount of halloween spookiness going on but was quickly drawn to the space at the table which had the Lenovo Smart Display in front of it. He is very much in to technology so he'd found the perfect place to sit to explore and get hands on. Except because he was expecting it to be like his tablet at home he wasn't as successful as usual at getting where he wanted. That was until one of the Lenovo team gave him his own personal demo on how to operate the Smart Display, by talking. Once he'd been shown how to use it he enjoyed asking questions such as 'how fast does the Eurostar go' and 'who is Jack Sparrow', he was delighted when a photo of Johnny Depp popped up on the screen!
 I myself was already wowed from watching my five year old get to grips with it and could see how it could be beneficial to busy parent life.
I was intrigued to hear more about it, and listened intently when one of the Lenovo team introduced the Lenovo Smart Display.  She explained how she used it herself, what her favourite features were and about the design of the product. 
The product is available in two different sizes, 8" or 10" aiming to suit each individuals preferences, whether you prefer viewing on a larger screen or usually opt for something a little more compact the choice is yours. I thought the overall look was sleek and smart and there is even a choice about the back of the product, bamboo or grey. Both appearances appealed to me.
 Kimberly Wyatt then showed us all how to use it, all hands free just using her voice. I mean imagine the possibilities! We've all needed an extra pair of hands at some point and the Lenovo Smart Display with Google Assist literally allows you to have them. Instead of scrolling down for the next part of a recipe when cooking or wanting to skip to a particular instruction in a video, you just use your voice to get to the bit you need. For example  if you're watching a video, by saying 'Hey Google, skip to four minutes' etc you will get to the bit you want, all hands free. 
It can also be used for the usual routine things like checking the weather or your calendar that much easier without having to take your hands away from whatever you're doing. 
It also gives the user peace of mind by being able to turn off the mic or camera so you don't have to worry about your privacy. Using the Google Home App you can update and make changes you need for your Lenovo Smart Display. If you have a home system such a 'Nest' you can also operate this through the Smart Display.

We then participated in activities with the Lenovo Smart Display on hand to assist. Our first activity was face painting which I discovered I'm not too good at. However, being able to watch what to do   without having to put down the equipment we were using made it much easier!

 Next we moved on to decorating skeleton biscuits back in Eliot's 'space' next to the Lenovo smart display. A team member put the video on and Eliot watched carefully whilst decorating his biscuit, I was impressed at how similar his was to the 'perfect' video version, I felt it certainly made a difference being able to see what to do as opposed to just listening to instructions.



With Christmas rapidly approaching this is a gift you may want on your own list or perhaps you know someone who would benefit from making their life that bit easier by being more hands free!
You can take advantage of Black Friday deals on the Lenovo Smart Display, the 10 inch is currently on offer at £199.99 down from £229.99 and the 8 inch is down to £129.99 from £179.99.

*This is a collaborative post

Thursday, 8 November 2018

An Induction-Nola's Birth Story


Over a year later I am finally writing Nola's birth story, better late than never or so they say!

After giving birth to Eliot, a rather large 9lb 5oz baby in 2013, I'd had concerns through my second pregnancy that baby two was also going to be a whopper! In fact I was convinced that this baby was going to be bigger after hearing second babies are often heavier. My worries increased when a midwife discussed 'shoulders getting stuck' and booked me in to see a consultant.
I had a few appointments with the consultant and on the day before my due date I was given a sweep and booked in for an induction. I'd heard lots of various stories about sweeps and I can honestly say it was the most unpleasant experience! I was hoping the sweep would get things going but there were no signs of labour whatsoever. My due date 2/9/17 came and went then it was time to call the delivery unit on 5/9/17 to check what time I should come in to be induced. I rang after 10am and was told to give them a call back in the afternoon.
We made our way into London and went in to Pret A manger at Euston station for a coffee stop. I called St Thomas' at about 2:30pm as I'd been advised but they still couldn't give me a time to come in as they were 'very busy'. So the rest of the afternoon was spent hanging around coffee shops and worrying that they might not actually get me in.
Then finally about half six after we'd phoned them a few more times, they called back to say come in at 8pm. I was so relieved that the induction was going to go ahead!
We were sent to the antenatal unit where we were until about midnight until we went to the delivery suite and I was put in a bay with four beds, thankfully I was the only one there that night.
A midwife came to see me and get the induction process started by inserting a pessary. She checked my cervix and said it was closed which was surprising as when I had the sweep a few days earlier the doctor said I was about 1cm.
Finally on the labour ward in the most unflattering photo ever...pregnancy reality!
The night was very uneventful, I managed to get some sleep and in the morning I was moved to a room and the midwife looking after me for the day was called Lucy. There was no progression during the day and I spent it chilling in the room with a couple of walks downstairs and outside.
I'd been told that if things hadn't got started by that evening the doctors would make a plan to get things moving quicker.
A couple of doctors came in and checked me over, felt my bump etc. I explained my fear of having a 10lb baby but after having a good check of my bump one of the doctors said he thought I'd deliver an 8lb baby, good to hear but still didn't convince me! The plan was if things hadn't progressed by the early hours I would then have 'propess gel' inserted.
I did have cramps in my lower back that began around 9:30pm but nothing that was too painful. I tried to get some sleep and did on and off.
I think the cramps did up their game a bit but there was still no big changes. I should have had the pessary removed about 1:30am but the midwife had obviously been held up elsewhere. A different midwife came into the room about 3am, I removed the pessary (basically like a tampon) and the gel was inserted.
Shortly after things ramped up quite quickly, I'd had paracetamol, codeine and had gas and air to access but the contractions became so intense, they were much harder to cope with as they were very close together.
Gotta love that gas and air!
This time round I found the attitude towards pain relief much more laid back. When I had Eliot a natural drug free birth was very much encouraged and promoted. I had even included some of the things I experienced with Eliot's labour in my birth plan this time around, such as using lavender and clary sage but I don't think anyone actually looked at my plan! One midwife in particular was very supportive of pain relief and suggested different options and encouraged me to use something more to relieve the pain. Her attitude was very much 'why suffer in pain when you don't have to'.
It got to a point where I was finding the contractions incredibly hard to deal with and I remember being knelt on the floor doubled over in pain leaning on the bed, when a midwife I vividly remember from Eliot's labour came in. I had named her 'scary teacher' because she had been very strict and did in fact look like a teacher. During Eliot's labour she had basically told me I needed to calm down and did not want to give me any pain relief. Now I was basically begging her for diamorphine, this time she seemed much more sympathetic and friendlier, we had a fleeting chat about how we remembered her from our first borns labour and she joked she hoped they were all good memories.
Shortly after another midwife came in to administer the diamorphine. Having that meant I was able to get some more sleep, the contractions still woke me so I was also on the gas and air.
Everything from then was blurry as I was very much out of it from the diamorphine but at some point in the morning after handover they could see things had progressed and moved me to a delivery room. I remember having to stop in the corridor because of the contractions but eventually made it to the same delivery room that Eliot had been born in.
Lucy was my midwife again, she would be delivering my second baby along with a student midwife. I remember being checked and being surprised and disheartened to hear my cervix was only 4cm dilated. There had been so many intense contractions, what on earth had they been doing?! I asked if I could have a pool birth but was not allowed as I was being induced. At some point Lucy asked if she could empty my bladder but I had the joy of that experience after delivering Eliot so my response was a very dramatic no. She did make a deal that if I didn't go for a wee within a certain time period she would need to do it as my bladder could be making harder for the baby to be born.
Within an hour I had dilated to 10cm which seemed crazy as with Eliot it took hours!
It was time to push, at one point my blood pressure sky rocketed and I remember being given two tablets to swallow. My waters had still not broken at this point and Lucy asked if she could break them for me, I agreed and just as I did that I needed to push and my waters went all by themselves. Again this was very different from Eliot's labour and delivery, the waters were the first thing that went with him but with baby two they were the last!
Once the head had been delivered I remember Lucy very firmly telling not to push again just yet. Not long after our second baby was born and we were finally going to find out if it was a girl or boy. I will  never forget Lucy asking the other half 'what is it?' and his face staring, looking very confused for what felt like a lifetime before he said slowly, 'a boy?' Lucy looked at him in disbelief and said 'no it's a girl'. I mean WTF?! How hard is it to decipher an umbilical cord from a penis?!
Lucy said she was still covered in quite a bit of vernix which often means they aren't quite ready to make their arrival.

 I was absolutely over the moon to have a daughter as well as a son. I think I had the injection to help deliver the placenta, thankfully this time it didn't seem as difficult as when I had Eliot and came out quite quickly.
I eagerly awaited to hear how much she weighed, still convinced I'd birthed another 9lb-er. '3.505kg' said Lucy, I asked what that was in lbs and she said between 7lb 11-12oz. However when I converted the weight myself a few months ago, it actually is only 7lb 7oz, so my girl was even dinkier than I first thought and also the wrong birth weight went out on all the thank you notes!
As well as being in the post birth bubble I think I was also still in a diamorphine daze. When Lucy checked me over she said I had a tiny tear but she didn't think it would need stitches. YAAAASSSS! If you've had stitches you know how unpleasant they are but unfortunately after the senior midwife checked she said I would need one. Disappointing but not as many as I needed after having Eliot.
Then the day was spent enjoying my new baby girl in the delivery room whilst waiting for a bed on the postnatal ward. 

Grandparents came to visit and Eliot, who was thrilled and very excited that he had a baby sister.

Once again I felt very lucky that I had a very positive birth experience at St Thomas' and will always speak highly of the care I received when I had my babies. I was disappointed that I didn't get my water birth again but everything else went as well as I could've hoped for.

Here's a video of my experience if you fancy watching...


How were you birth experiences been?

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Beautiful Bluestone

Our Grassholm lodge
At the end of last month we went on our third getaway to Bluestone Resort in Wales, and it did not disappoint!
I always thought of myself as a 'one person trip' to stay at a hotel/resort/holiday park etc but Bluestone is somewhere I'd return to regularly. First of all its' beautiful, tranquil National Park setting is perfect  when you want a break, whether it's as a family, as a couple or with friends, I believe there's something for everyone! From woodland walks, to play areas, to the pub, to the spa, there are plenty of things to do at Bluestone!
Secondly from what I have seen of Pembrokeshire it is absolutely beautiful, and there's still so much I haven't seen!

What's Included In A Bluestone Break?
When you book a holiday at Bluestone, free entry into the Adventure Centre and Blue Lagoon is included. Guided walks, outdoor play areas and seasonal festivals are also included at no extra cost, to find out more click here. There are plenty of other activities available for all ages that can be booked and paid for.


Accommodation At Bluestone
There is a variety of lodges and cottages available to book to suit your individual requirements, from couples to large families or groups there will be somewhere ideal, including interconnecting lodges. 

Our Stay At Bluestone
Monday
We left later than originally planned and had a couple of stops on route for food and coffee. It's a pretty long journey for us so next time I'd definitely consider leaving on the Sunday and staying overnight along the way in somewhere like Cardiff. When we were about twenty minutes away from Bluestone Nola got quite upset, I think she'd had enough of travelling so breaking up the journey would work well for us I think. Maps on my phone gave a travel time of just under four hours but of course you then have to factor in any stops or traffic you may come across. I think our journey was between the five and six hour mark.
We arrived to the usual friendly check in just after 7pm. Our lodge was immaculate as they have been on our previous visits.
Once we'd unloaded the car we headed to Aldi in Haverford West to stock up for our stay. We had a late dinner in our lovely Grassholm lodge and there was sometime spent trying to get Eliot into bed, he was too excited to sleep and couldn't wait to go back and visit the Blue Lagoon!


Tuesday
This was our busiest day at Bluestone in terms of activities we had pre booked. After a relaxed breakfast in our lodge, accompanied by some seagulls Nola and I headed up to the Adventure Centre for the baby sensory class, an activity suitable for 0-13 month olds.
Some of the local wildlife!
This was the first class I'd ever taken Nola to so was really looking forward to it.  When we arrived we got comfy and settled on our mat. Once everyone had arrived the lady leading the session introduced herself and explained what would be happening during the session. Everyone then introduced their baby before things got started. A variety of activities followed giving each baby opportunites to get involved. There were musical instruments, different textured balls, toys, materials for the babies to use their senses to explore. The different activities were introduced separately enabling the babies to have a go before clearing away and starting the next one, aiming to prevent the babies from becoming too overwhelmed. One of the last little activities was banana tasting, which Nola loves but unfortunately she had fallen asleep after all the excitement! It was a really lovely relaxed class, perfect for Nola. As she is delayed in her development due to her condition she didn't wasn't 'too old' being at the older end of the class age range. I certainly recommend booking on to the sensory class if your staying with a baby!
Whilst I'd been in the class with Nola, Eliot had been with dad collecting bikes to use for the duration of our stay, before making the most of indoor play and mini golf elsewhere in the Adventure Centre. I met with him, swapped children and then took Eliot down to Camp Smokey for the 'Into The Wild' activity. There is space for twelve children on this activity but Eliot got a 1:1 experience! It was onlysometime after I realised there were no older children because our break was in term time.
All ready & camouflaged!
We met 'Smokey Joe' who led us to base camp in search of her cousin 'Digger'. On route they added some camouflage to their faces using mud and leaves. Smokey Joe explained to Eliot that Digger lived with her but she wanted him to help her build a new home for Digger as she snored too much!

 We found Digger at base camp and she was promptly told she needed to move out before they began 'building' her a new home,  I also helped (a little bit) after some encouragement to get involved from everyone else!
Building a new home for Digger!
Attempting to make it waterproof
 Once the home was complete and tested on how watertight it was, we warmed up by the camp fire and ate a welsh cake!
We then got into teams, Eliot & Smokey Joe and myself and Digger to make a raft to race down the stream. We searched for twigs to create our masterpieces which I must admit I was pretty poor at and Digger did most of the 'building'!
Eliot with 'The Black Pearl'
Collecting the rafts after the race
 After the 'Rusty Bucket and 'The Black Pearl' were safely retrieved post race, a very special visitor made their way to base camp, Frodo the owl.
 I think I was more excited about Frodo! I'm a big fan of birds of prey and being this close certainly makes me in awe of them!

Eliot got to 'fly' Frodo and ask questions about him, it's not everyday you get to fly a bird of prey so this was fantastic! After Frodo left we toasted marshmallows over the camp fire, a nice way to end the session!
Eliot had instructed everyone to do  a 'Captain Jack' pose
This activity was my favourite, I'll 'fess up and say I'm a bit of a 'no mum' and the thought of Eliot smearing mud on himself on a regular day would probably have me shouting about dirt and germs! It was so lovely just to watch him immerse himself in all the activities and do things he hasn't done very often. It was certainly beneficial for him and he throughly enjoyed it. The two members of staff were fantastic too as I think in some respects it's tricky to run an activity that is planned for groups for an individual but they were both great!
After lunch and a break back at the lodge we walked up to Blue Lagoon, which Eliot had been going on about for weeks and couldn't wait to get in the pool!
 The under fives area was closed but all other parts of the pool were open, Eliot tried out a couple of the slides and spent a lot of his time in on them. We also enjoyed the lazy river and wave machine before it was almost closing time.
The family changing facilities are just what you need with little ones to get everyone changed. If you spend a long time at the pool, have family who don't wish to swim or simply fancy a drink or snack there's a cafe poolside to fulfil your snacking needs!
After our swim we headed straight down to Camp Smokey for 'Smokey Joe's Shindig' which is held on various evenings throughout the week depending on the time of year (it's closed between November & February) and involves eating, drinking and dancing! Included in your ticket is the food and live music, drinks are purchased from the bar.
I was very much looking forward to eating and enjoying music Al Fresco in the wood! On arrival we were greeted by 'Smokey Joe' and 'Digger' (the first) and put in Digger's blue team. We then had blue paint smeared on our faces. The red and blue team had to to compete to see who'd get their dinner first. Dancing and stomping were strongly encouraged, especially on chairs! The red team won so us blues had to wait a little longer before we could collect our dinner which consisted of a burger, sausage, pulled pork, BBQ beans and roasted potatoes. For pudding there was a choice of brownie or choc ice, brownie is always a winner for me! The evening ended with some familiar songs played by the live music act. I had such a good time I forgot to take any photos but did take some video clips, this is my favourite showing how much Nola enjoys music and dancing! 
I would certainly book the shindig again, the experience of eating down in the woods, singing and dancing was brilliant!



Wednesday
After breakfast in our lodge we headed out of Bluestone to the nearby Tenby which I'm sure hosts one of the best beaches in the UK! It is such a pretty little seaside town with shops and lanes to explore about a twenty five minute drive from Bluestone.
We had a relaxed mosey before having a coffee break. Then headed down to the harbour where we had a pit stop to give Nola her lunch.

 After enjoying just sitting back and taking everything in we walked over to the beach where Eliot was literally living his best life playing with a bucket and spade in the soggy sand. if we'd been there from 9am-5pm I'm sure he would have happily spent the entire time on the beach!


Before driving back to Bluestone we had fish and chips for dinner, you just have to have it when you're at the seaside!
There are so many more things to do at Tenby, such as visit the Tudor Merchant house, go on a boat trip or visit the castle. It's a must do if you holiday anywhere nearby!
We had booked Eliot on a 'Games Night' back at Bluestone which is an activity where you can leave your child/ren unaccompanied and enjoy some time alone to make the most of Bluestone! They had called us in the morning to let us know Eliot was the only one booked on the games night (again because it was in term time) and to see if he still wanted to participate. He had initially wanted to still join in but when he arrived and could see he was the only one there he changed his mind. It was a shame but I was impressed the staff had called to let us know the situation in the morning, rather than turning up to drop Eliot off and then being informed.

Thursday 
We spent the full day in Bluestone beginning with a leisurely start to the day by relaxing in the lodge. Eliot did get taken to the adventure centre again to enjoy more time in the indoor play area.
Lunch was something I had been looking forward to as we had booked it down at Camp Smokey, where my love for al fresco dining grew!
We rode our bikes down to the parking area ready for a woodland adventure after lunch.
This time we ordered from the menu and waited for our order number to be called to go and collect it.
I ordered 'smores' for pudding which I enjoyed and got to toast marshmallows over the fire again which was lots of fun in the surroundings.
Afterwards we collected out bikes and went on a little woodland adventure on one of the trails in Bluestone. It was only when we were down in the woods a family we rode past said it looked like my back tyre was punctured. On stopping and inspecting it was clear it was flat so I had to abandon my 'ride' and settle for pushing it, which I really didn't mind as I was appreciating how peaceful and calming the woods were.

 It was wonderful to feel like I was 'away from it all', hearing only woodland noise like the rushing water of the stream or the crack and crunch of sticks under your feet.
Hiring or bringing your own bikes to get around Bluestone is a great way to explore but if you're a very inexperienced bike rider like myself be warned, there are LOTS of hills, easy to get down, not so easy to get back up!
After our little adventure we arrived back to the village just in time for the village festival which is part of the Bwbach Festival running from September 3rd to November 4th.
Eliot enjoyed getting involved with the dancing before he spent time in the play area.
We then went back to our lodge for our last night at Bluestone, having dinner and getting packed for the journey home.

Friday
Check out time at Bluestone is 10am, once we'd loaded the car and vacated our lovely lodge, we took the bikes back. Then went to the Adventure centre for Eliot to enjoy one last play and had lunch at the Wildwood Cafe.
One thing we almost forgot to enjoy was the circus room, which is upstairs in the Adventure Centre for under fives.
Four Nola's!

Nola had a wonderful time watching the sensory bubble machine and enjoying the soft play area. Eliot also enjoyed having a play in here, it was interesting watching him as the last time he was in there he was under two!
Then reluctantly, we dragged our feet back to the car park to make the journey home. None of us wanted to leave which speaks volumes about how wonderful Bluestone resort is!

Why Visit Bluestone?
All of us 101% recommend Bluestone as a holiday, what we got up to is just a fraction of what you can do at the resort and there is plenty more to see and do in Pembrokeshire.
The staff are very pleasant and helpful.
You have the option to cook what you fancy in your accommodation but if you don't want to cook you can choose from a selection of places to dine in Bluestone.
There are seasonal themes and activities.

I mean I could go on but you have to experience a stay yourself, even if you're not really an 'outdoorsy' person like myself, you will want to get out, enjoy and make the most of the surroundings and facilities!

Have you been to Bluestone?

*We received a stay at Bluestone and use of bikes in return for a post. All opinions are my own

Photos credit: Photos marked with MPP were taken by Meet Petty Photography

Friday, 10 August 2018

Sealife London Aquarium-Review

Last week we had a fun summer holiday day out to the Sealife London Aquarium. I've been there a few times before but not for a good while, there were a lot of changes, from a new entrance to the addition of penguins, there were lots of new things to see!
As you first go in there is a clear walkway over some of the sea life...including sharks enabling you to get a look at them swimming below!
It was obviously busy being the holidays, so it was handy there were toilets while we were queueing to get into the next part. There was large family toilet which we went into complete with a kids toilet as well as a 'normal' toilet and a baby change! It was perfect timing as Nola needed nappy change.

As well as there being an abundance of sea creatures to see, there were also several talks about some of them, repeated several times a day.
One of my favourite things about our visit was being able to get a bit hands on. Eliot touched a starfish for the first time, despite having opportunities to do this in the past he was never quite brave enough. He said he was 'too scared' on this visit but after a member of staff said she would show him how to do it first he was happy to have a go.
 As we were about to go through the tunnel there was another member of staff with different specimens talking about what they were and answering any questions.
Eliot getting hands on


Another favourite part of our visit was seeing the giant turtles, I'm always in a bit of awe when I see wildlife and it was amazing to get so close, minus the glass. Of course one of the main attractions are the sharks and there a plenty of opportunities to see them from different perspectives in the tank.

Nola enjoying looking at the sharks!


 Seahorses are another of my favourites, they're so interesting to watch and move so gracefully. I think the tiny white specks you can see in the clear tube were baby seahorses!

There are plenty of species to see and read about as you walk through the different areas.

We all enjoyed the 'Rainforest Adventure' zone which started off with some creepy crawlies. The giant leaf cutter ants were fascinating to watch, as well as being in a tank there was a tube that ran above the other exhibits meaning you could catch a good sight of them in action. 
There were also hissing cockroaches and a rather large tarantula! The tanks they were in enabled you to get a better view and give the impression you were in there with them, with a dome in the centre you could crawl into.
Moving further through there were plenty more species to look at including piranha fish, poisonous dart frogs and cuban crocodiles.

Of course there were many people surrounding the penguin tank, all hoping to see them in action. Most of the penguins stayed at the back but there were a few that seemed to love having the crowds watching them. They'd dive in, swim around at an incredible speed before launching themselves back on to dry land like absolute pros!

One penguin in particular that wowed the audience was 'Max', he took it upon himself to parade right next to one of the windows, going back and forth before diving back into the water again. What an absolute character, such a joy to watch!


I certainly recommend a visit to the Sealife London Aquarium whether it's a trip with your other half, friends or a family day out, there's plenty to see! It was also interesting to learn about the conservation projects they are involved in.

Have you visited recently?

*I received complimentary entry in exchange for a review, all options are my own

Thank you so much for stopping by! I appreciate comments and read all of them!