On Saturday I went along to my first ever blogging event. The lovely folks at Tots 100 hosted BlogCamp at The Studio in Birmingham. It’s about 45 minutes away so it was a no brainer!
 
I booked my ticket back in August thinking October was forever away but I’m not going to lie – I was incredibly nervous. I’m pretty shy and I had a massive wobble the day before thinking I shouldn’t go – the reason being I kinda felt like a fraud! So many names flying round twitter of who was going and then there’d be little old me. My lovely husband then said that everyone has to start somewhere and it’d be great experience. Luckily I listened to him and off I went. I have to say that I ordered & paid for my train tickets, found out the train I needed to get, walked over the bridge to the platform and got on a train which started moving – ALL WITHIN FIVE MINUTES! You totally forget how simple life flying solo is! My delightful leisurely journey of perusing magazines and sipping hot drinks wasn’t to be though – I ended up stood by the toilet!
 
I was lucky enough to meet the wonderful Becky at the train station who was my partner in crime for the day. We are both pretty new bloggers and this was both of our first event so it was nice to have a buddy. I said that I felt like it was all a bit ‘Coronation Street’ as I knew people by the blog names but not their real names – but boob staring at name badges helped me a lot and some of you have fabulous boobs!!

We got there, after meeting the lovely Tanya, Alice and Kate on the way, and it wasn’t as scary as I had thought. I even passed the first test of the day by being able to put on a name badge which is always good! We were spread across two floors and after a morning briefing by Sally about the various sessions across the day including photography, you tube blog sessions, travel blogging and a camera clinic. I sat in on the collaborating, brands for beginners, freelance and because you’re worth it sessions – and all I can say is wow! I often had to stop and think – how on earth is this event free?! It was intimate but so informative with such a chilled vibe. 
And then there was the lunch… Let’s just take a moment to feast our eyes on this bad boy 
Tots100 BlogCamp
This Eton Mess needed it’s own photo
 
 
Yes I can confirm it tasted as good as it looks! 
 
The day rushed by so quickly and was a bit sad when it was the final session – but as expected it was fabulous with the panel below, as they gave a real insight as to what it’s really like on the ground and how they view us bloggers. 
 
The wonderful panel
 
 

I have to admit I was a bit awe-struck by Vicki at Honest Mum. I’ve followed her work for quite a while and yes she really is just as gorgeous in the flesh! She is such an inspiration blogger and everything she says is so passionate and real. I could have listened to her advice all day (hint hint, please do your own sessions solely for tips for us bloggers!)

 
Vicki Honest Mum
The lovely Honest Mum
 
 
 
Now for the super cliche – I came away feeling inspired; no really! As I said earlier  I didn’t feel like I should have been there yesterday; I feel incredibly small fry and Blog Camp sort of felt that it was kind of a “make or break” Was my blog going to carry on as a space for when I want to talk and twitter isn’t long enough? Or do I want to get a bit more real about it all and put myself out there and feel like I can go to big blogging events. And I felt like – yeah I do actually love blogging and I feel like I want to be in it for the long haul.
From Saturday the things I have learnt about myself and my blog:
 
– Talk and interact to people more
– Take more photos at events as subsequent blog posts are rather dull – sorry folks!
– Everyone was at one point in the same boat as you 
– Be nice! 
– Be professional
– Always go to Tots events as they have amazing snacks 
So time to get a bit of focus, grow some balls and get out there! Looking forward to going to more events in the near future and meeting more lovely people and discovering some more fantastic blogs. If you’re apprehensive about going to events in the future like I was – all I can say is – do it! What do you have to lose and you never know, you might have a blimmin lovely time and meet some fab folks like I did!!
Thank you to everyone for being so lovely and thanks to Sally, Kiran, Lindy and the sponsors at Showroom and Cow and Gate for popping my blog event cherry in such an awesome way. And also a big hi to everyone I met there – couldn’t ask for a nicer bunch!
 
B xx
Ps – because I was  so rubbish at remembering to take photos, you can check some more out here on the Tots 100 Facebook page See if you can spot me!

I have to start this review by saying that I absolutely LOVED these books. From the moment they hit the doormat I could not wait to read them. I know they’re a kids book and I saved it until bedtime so my 5 year old boy could read them but you often read reviews and often wonder if a person is riven by wanting to please the company. As you may have gathered from my past review, I always give my honest opinion – this isn’t always what people may want to hear (Sorry LEGOLAND Manchester!) but I made a pact with myself that I would always give my real views, otherwise it’s not really a review – it’s just a positive spin on everything.
Anyway, I absolutely jumped through the roof to review these books. I have a slight confession – I have met the Mcfly boys. A lot. I was a die hard Busted follower back in the day. I spent most weekends trawling the country (and even going to different countries) to see them and as Mcfly were part of the same management and went on tour with them, our paths crossed numerous times. I met Mcfly before they became this massive pop sensation, including at their first ever TV appearance, their album launch and then again on their first ever supporting tour. So it’s safe to say I have a bit of a soft spot for them. And can’t quite believe I’m sharing this photo…
2003. Me blonde. Cringe. 
The boys “Obviously” (badumbumBOOSH) have a cheeky sense of humour so I thought their book would follow the same path – and I certainly wasn’t wrong.
Dougie and Tom have now penned 3 ‘Dinosaur’ books; The Dinosaur That Pooped Christmas was their first book and we have been lucky enough to read copies of ‘The Dinosaur that Pooped a Planet’ and the most recent offering ‘The Dinosaur that Pooped the Past’

They all are based on Danny and his dinosaur friend and they follow them on an adventure (either space travel or through the past). The planet book was the first we read – and Charlie has honestly never ever laughed so much at a book. Here’s why:
1) He’s 5. And it has the word pooped in the title
2) It’s got dinosaurs in it
3) It rhymes
4) It has the word POO in massive letters
5) There’s a cat with a doddle of poo on it at the end – which he still only has to hear the mere mention of said cat and he dissolves into absolute tears of laughter
The following evening before bed we read the next book ‘The Dinosaur that Pooped the Past’ and this was met with equal squeals and fits of giggles.
Poo…
Overall – kids, especially boys, absolutely LOVE toilet humour. I too, as a parent found this book very cheeky but VERY funny! The pictures are bright and have lots of little details (including that damn poo on the cats helmet) that kids absolutely love.  I don’t want to tell you much about the story itself as I don’t want to give it away! I loved the fact the book rhymed too which makes it easier for adults to read to the children as you get into a rhythm.
Maybe not the best one for them to take into class to read out to the teacher but if you’re looking for a naughty laugh out loud book for your kids then look no further! Charlie has already been telling all his friends and delighted in taking the book round to my Dad’s to get him to read!
Without a shadow of doubt, The Dinosaur that Pooped Christmas will be on the Santa list! I can’t actually wait to find out what Danny and the Dinosaur get up to.

B x

Disclaimer – we were so lucky that the MumsNet team sent me these two books to review and I’m so blimming grateful that they did. This review and pictures all are my own.

Family Fever

My husband had a last minute day off and after much racking of our brains, we decided to try LEGOLAND Discovery Centre in Manchester.
We had such an awesome time at the one in Windsor and whilst I realise it was nowhere on the same scale coupled with Charlie’s reignited love of Lego since the Lego Movie was released, we thought we’d give it a go.
However, only WE could choose to go to Manchester on the Friday of V Festival, meaning the easiest route to get there was chocker block. But none the less, despite numerous other traffic jams, we arrived. I read to park on the Barton car park. But we parked the furthest away possible so it was a good walk to the centre. Once we got there, it was around 10.45am and despite me wanting to be there before it opened at 10, the traffic as against us and we were met with a huge queue.
The staff were there to warn you there was a 1hour 45 minute wait but as we had travelled specifically we decided we had to wait.

Luckily we had lots of snacks and my Dad had come with us as extra hands so whilst it sounded a long time it wasn’t -too- traumatic. I had looked on the internet and the website keeps telling you to pre-book and in hindsight I REALLY wish we had as you get an allocated time slot to enter & the people with these massively cut their waiting time. But as we had discount vouchers to use we didn’t pre-book as you couldn’t use them.
Despite having buy one get on free tickets, it still cost us best part of £40 to get in. As we walked through there’s a big buggy park by the lift which made us think we would have to leave it there which we did.
AS you enter you go to the Lego ‘tour’ which really consists of someone in a lab coat talking to you for about 3 minutes about making lego bricks. All the kids got a free LEGOLAND personalised brick which was a nice touch.
You then go into a small model village. There are some pretty good models, our favourite being the Oblivion at Alton Towers. Once through this small cave of models you are into the main (and pretty much only) room. Everything is in 1 place which on a school holiday is carnage! There are small areas filled with lego bricks which you can sit and make models. There’s also the 4D cinema screenings and 3 rides. At the back of the room is another building centre and a smaller children’s area with foam type bricks. This however is ridiculous as the floor is hard concrete so whilst they’ve designated it as a Duplo area for younger toddlers, you’re frightened to let them move for fear of going splat on the cold hard floor! Surely a but of foam flooring in a child purpose built area would be sensible?
The main ride is this room is the Merlin Apprentice ride. Only 12 people (6 couples) can get on this at one time so the queue is quite slow but it’s a good ride where you have to peddle to get higher – a good workout for all adults going on with kids!
The other main ride is just outside the display room and is the Kingdom Quest laser ride. You have a little gun and have to shoot the bad guys and it racks up your score. We waiting around 40 minutes for this and it lasted about 2 – but it is the school holidays and I was totally ready for queing.

There is a smaller ‘Pursuit Driving School’ which allows you to get a form of licence – but it’s £9 and is a very small driving type track which the kids drive one way around. There is a large soft play area in the middle of the room but it’s difficult to see your child once inside so with roaming 14 month old twins, Charlie didn’t stay in long.
Finally in the room is a café but we found it very expensive (£9 for a kids meal!) so opted out.
As you go to leave the main room, you walk through Star Wars miniland which Charlie loved. There’s also a Ninjago laser field which kids have to run through without breaking the laser beams otherwise they incur a time penalty – ironically, this was Charlie’s favourite part of the day.
And no day would be complete without having to walk out via the gift shop; cue children having tantrums to their parents who after paying an extortionate fee to get in now are expected to shell out more!
I’m sorry this is such a negative review but I was seriously disappointed. It felt like a complete rip off for what essentially was a large room. Even my husband as we walked in said ‘is this it?’ I’m glad we had discount vouchers as I would have felt even more aggrieved paying top whack for it. Perhaps it may have been a bit more enjoyable out of season but I feel there definitely isn’t enough to occupy a whole day.
Sorry to be so negative but I always said I’d be totally honest on my blog – so there you go!
I only took a handful of photos – apologies!
B x

The infamous hard floor

B x

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Family Fever

I saw a twin Mom I know from school  at the weekend. She was asking about what we had gotten up to in the holidays and I said we had been away and she said the line that really got me thinking “how did you find it taking the twins away?”
I guess I never second think going out for days and going away. When the girls were just over 8 weeks old we gave ourselves 24 hours notice and booked a holiday down in Cornwall (4 hours away) not giving it a thought of the practicalities and difficulties it may pose. It turns out we had a lovely time and despite a twin travel system on the beach (I know – massive fail!) everything else went pretty smoothly. A month later again, we went and stayed over at the LEGOLAND Hotel with 3 month old babies – what’s the big fuss?!
People often used to tell me when my  P’s were tiny babies feeding every 3 hours that the sleepless nights and endless nappy changes would soon be over – but I always met them with “I don’t want it to!” Not because I love tiny dinky babies – it’s because I quite weirdly found this stage the easiest! Also, Having had Charlie, I know what’s in store!
When they are tiny, you put them down – they stay there. You put them in the pram – they don’t resist. When you strap them into it – they don’t suddenly turn into an ironing board and will not bend to aid you putting them into the car seats. And wonderfully – they don’t try to climb/run/fly!
From day 1 – I have struggled to accept help from anyone except my husband. Even after my C-section, I still pottered about and did bits and bobs. I hate having to ask people to help out. It was different with my own Mom but she became ill shortly after having the girls so I quickly became very independent and if I wanted to do something – I’d be taking the clan with me no matter how big or small.
I am slowly coming to the realisation that despite the obvious – having twins may mean I cannot do everything I want to. And I must admit being quite strong-willed that this does upset me a little. I was finding baby groups were starting to get a little bit more difficult. I simply cannot be in two places at once. I’m unable stop P1 trampling over a tiny baby whilst simultaneously catching P2 from launching herself off the nearest chair. And then there’s swimming. WHY do all new Moms always suggest playdates swimming?
A) I do not look good in a swimming costume
B) I physically cannot do it. A lot of pools do not allow more than a 1-1 ratio of adults to babies. However, there is one locally that allows 1 adult to 2 children. Sounds great – no. Changing one baby is hard. Add changing yourself and a slippery squirming baby into the equation. Difficult yes? Well, add yet another baby into it! It’s nigh on impossible.
On holiday when we did go swimming, it was me & my husband with the 3 kids in the changing room. Luckily Charlie is older so can sort himself out to a degree but it was hectic. I genuinely cannot imagine having to do it alone with two walking/crawling/crazy babies.
I do not want to have to admit that there are things that I can’t do. I relish the challenge of twins and all the craziness that comes with it. It’s so rewarding knowing that Charlie was never late for school once and as a whole I haven’t been found rocking in a corner with two screaming babies and a wayward 5 year old.
However, my utter pet hate is when people try to compete. I have had a single child and now twins and believe me – there is no point in trying to compete! Nor looking down your nose as I try run to whichever child poses the most immediate danger. Nor do you need to look on whilst I scoop up two babies in my arms and carry them – it’s not a circus act!!
Not only are all children different but twins is a whole new ball game! Yes you may have children close together – but it’s not the same! I wish I knew more twin Moms as this lady really reassured me and one of the striking things she said was – I wish someone had told us that it’s not always hard and it gets easier!
I definitely think we are entering our most difficult and challenging stage (I can’t even begin to think about teenage years!) and I think I need to try to take my stubborn hat off and realise – I can’t do it all. Twins are hard work. They are so different personality wise already and definitely have their own minds and I need to start accepting a bit more help (Although as I type this – I know I won’t!)

It’s like an unwritten Mom code – you need to be supermom. Do not complain – treasure it all. Yes I think I am quite positive most of the time however it’s OK to say it’s hard! You are no less of a Mom to admit that you have days where you literally would love to hide under the duvet and cry but you don’t. You get on with it and hope you make it to the end of the day!

I am starting to see there may be something in the phrase – double trouble! But how can you be grumpy when you get a big grin or a belly laugh from 13.5 month old twins & a rather diva-ish 5 year old!? I think I may keep them a bit longer…we will see!!

double trouble twins

Silence is golden as they say….!

B x