Friday, 27 April 2018

StrEat Festival Ticket Giveaway! {Harrogate}

Having lived in Harrogate for quite a few years now I can honestly say there's always so much to do around here;
There's so many beautiful areas in and around it and these days there seems to be even more great events going on throughout the year. Spring and Summer really sees this place come into its own though as everyone makes the most of the sunshine, either out picnicing on the stray, enjoying the beautiful valley gardens or just taking the opportunity to dine al-fresco at one of the many (many!) places there are to eat around here. It does have a reputation for being rather posh, but that doesn't stop it from feeling like a very happy and very friendly place to be!
Although I am a Leeds Lass, Harrogate very much feels like its always been my home and I love that we get to bring our boys up in such a lovely place.
Over the last couple of years The StrEat Festival has been held in Valley gardens but this year has been moved to the Great Yorkshire Showground; 
This massive fest celebrates everything food from all around the world and will take place over three days, 26-28th of May.
It has been a big success since it started but this year, at its new venue, they are making it even bigger with "all the fun of the fair" to include even more amazing street food vendors (over 50!) as well as a Helter Skelter, vintage carousel, swing boats, and all kinds of activities, performers and music to keep the family well fed and entertained over the spring bank holiday weekend.
I've been following the event over on Facebook and Instagram and keep getting even more excited every time another incredible vendor gets announced; I'll be heading to the Chimneychicks stand first myself! (sorry fam!)

I'm even more excited, as the lovely organisers have given me five pairs of tickets to give away to you lovely lot!
(Kids under 13 go free AND they're valid for the whole weekend!)

It's looking to be a fantastic event and we're all really looking forward to it; hopefully the sun will make an appearance too...!

Earlybird tickets are on sale now but if you fancy being in with a chance of winning a pair you can do so here on our lil blog, on our Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. All you have to do is leave us a comment telling us who you'd take and which stand you'll be heading to first.
Five winners will be picked at random next weekend (6th May) so you have plenty of time to get organised...

Good Luck!

You can follow StrEat Festival on Facebook to keep updated with everything that's going to be happening over the weekend!

StrEat Festival will be giving 10% of all its ticket sales, funfair ticket sales and deckchair hires to Make a wish which is a wonderful charity supporting children with life threatening illnesses to realise their special dreams.

NB Collaborative Post with StrEat PR. All opinions are our own.

- Competition will run from Sat 28th April to Sat 5th May 11.59pm 2018
- Open to UK residents only
- Five winners will be chosen at random and will receive two tickets to the StrEat Food Festival at the Yorkshire Showground. These will be provided by StrEat PR and left at the box office for collection on the weekend of the Festival under winners name. No cash alternative will be given.
- If winner not contactable within 48 hours another winner be selected. 
- Competition is not affiliated in any way with Blogger, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter


We thought all Car Seats were the same until...{Lessons in Car seat Safety}

There are a lot of essentials to consider when you're anticipating the arrival of a little one but generally most of us start with the most important things; cots, pushchairs and of course car seats.
 Most hospitals require that your baby is in their car seat when you are discharged from the labour ward, for us it was certainly one of the first things on our list; what we didn't realise was that not all car seats are the same. Obviously there's an abundance of brands and styles, but we honestly believed that because all car seats were tested to the same standard they were equally safe and, apparently, we aren't alone. Of course any car seat is safer than none at all, but there can be a big difference in the level of safety. We did research the car seats we bought for our children but we found much more information on ease of use, comfort and being able to use it with pushchair adaptors than its level of safety.

A few weeks ago Joe and I were invited by the Besafe team to come along to the Harrogate Nursery Fair to learn more about choosing the best car seat and some of the differences in safety.
Besafe are a Scandinavian company who have been at the forefront of improving child car seat safety for many years.
They have a history of promoting extended rear facing seats which are common practice in Scandinavia. We had never heard that toddlers and indeed older children could rear face and were very surprised to hear just how much safer they are seated this way (up to 500% Safer!)
We also met with specialist car seat experts and bloggers, Therese from ERFMission and Margaret from Rearfacingtoddlers, who shared some of their invaluable knowledge with us and debunked a lot of our theories about sitting older children backwards!
They both not only have extensive knowledge on car seat safety but are extremely passionate about making sure parents are informed enough to make the best choices for their children.
It struck both myself and Joe that despite there being so much information out there, choosing a car seat is just so confusing! We've also found that despite doing our research like most parents before they buy child related products, there are a lot of things about car seats that just aren't common knowledge or widely publicised, which is concerning considering they are something almost every parent uses at some point.

We suddenly found ourselves with lots of questions and luckily we were with the right people to give us some answers...

"Aren't all car seats tested to the same standard? Surely they are all just as safe?"

All car seats sold in Europe must fall within the legal requirements ( known as ECE R44/04) but because they must only meet the minimum it leaves a lot of scope for just how safe a car seat they are.
Many retailers and parents have felt for a while that the current regulations just aren't rigorous or realistic enough as they don't take into account the effects of higher impact car collisions or impact from the side, which occurs in a large majority of accidents.
As well as the standard European test some car seat retailers voluntarily put their chairs through more strenuous testing to show how well they stand up against others on the market. The Swedish Plus test and ADAC (a German motoring company) are two of the most well recognised testers in the industry and both are known for being difficult to pass. We'd never heard of these tests until we met with the Besafe team. It really was an eye opener to see the differences on the seats up close!
Choosing car seats that have scored well on the ADAC or Swedish Plus tests means your child has significantly less chance of injury in the event of a collision. These tests are designed to take into account factors such as higher speed front, rear and side impact as well as things like the effect on neck load.
The newer regulation E129 or I-size has been introduced and will gradually become the only standard in the next few years but it only applies to ISO Fix car seats. Amongst other changes this regulation will require children to sit rear facing for longer, up until 15 months and see all car seats have side impact protection as standard. Car seat suitability will also rely on height rather than weight. These changes are very much being welcomed by car seat specialists and parents alike!

"What is extended rear facing? Why should my child sit this way?"

ERF or extended rear facing simply means going past the minimum age for a child to do so.
Speaking with specialists in car seat safety, Therese and Margaret, what surprised us most was that toddlers and even older children could be rear facing; not only that but they are 5 times safer this way.  They told us that although this is common practise in other countries as the safest option, here in the UK it is something so many parents are not aware of. Certainly it hasn't been included in any information I've been given after having two children nor something that has been presented as an option when we looked at car seats.
 Simply put, it is a fact that rear facing is the safest way for a child to travel and the longer they can sit this way, the better. The most important fact is that it dramatically cuts the risk of stress on the child's neck in the event of a collision.
There is more detailed information and some really interesting facts on Margaret's website here.

"What else do we need to know about car seat safety?"

Other things that we didn't realise were that not all car seats fit all cars and that the majority of injuries sustained by children are due to factors like poorly fitted car seats, using the wrong size seat for the child and improper use of the restraints.
Like us, most parents buy and fit the car seat themselves without realising they might not even fit their model of car; It was easy for us to pick up a car seat from a store but we had no idea that it might not even be compatible. Using ISOFix greatly reduces the risk of incorrect fitting thanks to the colour indicators on the base which go from red to green when properly installed.
Making sure the car seat is the size for your child is very important; follow the manufacturers instructions and if in doubt, get it checked by an approved fitting centre.

 Like so many parents I thought a lot more about pushchairs than car seats,
again it was largely down to my belief that they were all the same!
I was ready to spend a lot on a lovely pushchair but didn't think it necessary for a car seats.
Despite having had two children I can never remember much info in the Bounty packs or hearing any of the things, in the wider media, that I've now learnt.
I feel like this is something that really needs to change; we should be much more aware of the potential risks involved through ill fitted and cheaply made car seats. A child has little chance of escaping unscathed in a collision if they are not seated safely.

Therese has a brilliant post about choosing a car seat here which I highly recommend; it has a great list of things to consider before you splash out.

This is not about judging parents who buy cheaper car seats - price was certainly a big factor for us - or the decisions they make about whether to rear face or not, but the fact is that there just isn't clear enough information out there for parents to help them make an informed decision about the car seats they choose for their children.
In my opinion, travelling in a car is a risk full stop, so as parents it is our decision as to how we minimise the harm to our child in the event of a collision. Researching it myself, I found it really hard to find out just how safe a car seat is. Some of the popular brands, including ones we have used, despite passing the minimum legal requirements actually scored very poorly on the ADAC and Swedish Plus tests which is certainly something to consider.

It can be really confusing trying to sift through all the different sources of information- we definitely found a lot to process, but there are some great websites to help you make the best choice for your family

Over the next few weeks we're going to be testing our some of the new Besafe car seats, looking at the main safety differences and trying out rear facing with little E ourselves, pop back soon to see how we got on...
Stay Safe!

NB Post part of an ongoing collaboration with Besafe. All opinions are our own. Information on in-car safety and car seats has been sourced by us through a number of resources and links have been provided where possible. All information is what we believe to be true however it should not be substituted for the advice of an expert opinion or professional car safety specialist.


Monday, 23 April 2018

The Greatest Show! {Ft. Paulos Circus}

There has been a lot of talk over the last few months about the new movie, "The Greatest Showman".
Most people I know who have seen it have been back to the cinema more than once, so I was a little intrigued to find out whether it stood up to all the hype. Well a couple of weeks ago I finally got around to seeing it and actually loved it!
The soundtrack has been on repeat pretty much since then... much to Joe and TJ's annoyance as it's not really their kind of thing (I've heard them both singing along though so they're close to breaking..!) As you can imagine then I was a little excited when Paulo's Circus invited us to come along to one of their York shows at the weekend.
I have only been to the circus once and I almost have no recollection of it as I was quite young.
The Darnell's family circus has been going since 1816 and they have performed for thousands throughout their history all over the country. While their original acts involved animals, they decided a while ago to not use them anymore in their performances.
I was really looking forward to experiencing the circus with the boys as we've never been together.
I think the industry has certainly taken a hit in modern times. It's not something that springs to mind when you're thinking of ideas to do with the kids, which is a shame for the families who have been entertaining for most of their life and have some amazing talents to share.
There's such a big difference seeing live entertainment; the whole experience is so memorable and exciting as a child;
The lights, sounds, smells and anticipation are things that you really remember!
 We set off for York where Paulo's are currently doing shows until the 13th of May. Seeing the big top was so exciting and the boys were itching to get inside. We were advised to get there ahead of time, and thankfully we did as a large queue soon formed. We sat quite close to the front but there looked like a pretty good view from all around the tent; it was much bigger inside than it looked and was lit up with streams of carnival lights.


Friday, 13 April 2018

Planning An Escape - Ft. Host Unusual

After what feels like a never ending Winter, Spring finally seems to be on it's way;
 As well as the arctic weather, the last few months have been made particularly difficult with the kids coming down with all kinds of bugs as well as us battling a few ourselves. Christmas was put into perspective after a whole month of poorlyness, we were just grateful to be able to eat our dinner together on Christmas day! 
The new year brought some of the coldest days I can remember and of course the "Beast from the East". To say I've been wishing for sunshine for a while is an understatement; having said that, facing such freezing temperatures over the last few months has made me appreciate even the smallest amount of sun and even these last few chilly spring days almost feel summery! This long Easter holiday has been very much needed by all of us, and we're spending the days getting up later, having a few more PJ days and trying to nourish ourselves a bit better. Having no plans and no-where to be feels like such a luxury and hopefully by the time school rolls back round again next week we'll all feel a bit more energised about getting back into a routine. 
One of the biggest changes for us since TJ started school has been having to be much more intentional about spending time together as a family. Obviously we're together most evenings but random days out and nights away aren't something we can just decide to do anymore. It's definitely got me thinking much more about planning our some trips away this year and cramming as many adventures in as we can to our free time; with the weather finally looking up I'm pretty excited about organising some little holidays! We are very much an outdoors family and love getting out into the fresh air; we tend to head off into the Dales or towards the seaside on our free days together and take mini breaks through the year rather than long holidays. Luckily our oldest loves exploring old places as much as we do and we often take long drives out searching for hidden villages and towns we've never visited. We have dreams off being able to holiday abroad one day but we just love exploring the UK, so for now it keeps us happy.

I love the idea of staying in places that are different, and I've been following a brilliant site called Host Unusual which lists fantastic and unusual places to stay all around the UK as well as abroad; Every time a place pops up on my Facebook feed I've been saving them to have a look at! I thought I'd share some of my favourites that I think look perfect for some mini holidays over the coming months. At the moment I'm looking at places around Yorkshire but will be looking further afield for the Summer holidays when we'll have much more free time. 

Oh my days, who wouldn't want to stay in their very own Hobbit hole?! This place looks absolutely magical and I think the boys would love it. I've heard Saltburn is lovely and this is just a few miles from Whitby which is somewhere we've been planning to visit for a while, as I think TJ would love exploring the Castle. There's plenty to do and the site is set in six acres of countryside- perfect for getting some energy out of the little guys!

We all love the seaside, but especially Filey with its sprawling bays and picturesque little town. I love the idea of staying in a beach hut and these look so light and spacious! I love the idea of cuddling up in front of the stove after a long walk along the seafront and these have brilliant facilities on site including pools, steam room and sauna which I think is safe to say something we'd all appreciate!

Ooh I can just imagine settling down for the evening in one of these beautiful tents, surrounded by woodland, toasting marshmallows and telling stories with the boys! I love the idea of Glamping and these look absolutely beautiful inside with so much attention to detail. I can imagine making such lovely memories here.

Spacious log cabins surrounded by scenic woodland views, outdoor hot tubs, child friendly activities, peaceful surroundings and plenty of space for the kids to run free- perfection! 
This seems like the ideal getaway to just spend time together as a family and relax. 

I am a little bit in love with old trains so this one is a bit more for me than anyone else; I'm already having visions of cream teas in a carriage looking out over the Dales! I think it would be a real story to tell, staying on a train for your holiday; they look so beautifully refurbished inside and are in a perfect setting. 

I think the boys would love it here. Scarborough is one of our favourite places for a getaway and this wild west inspired site looks like such a fun place to stay! Plenty of space and things for the kids to do, and the choice of luxury cabins with hot tubs, cute little teepees or wagons to stay in.

Another vote for Saltburn but this looks like the perfect place to enjoy some relaxing time together; family meals and the chance to take in the beautiful sea views. The whole bungalow looks so light and airy, with lots of cosy nooks for reading or just having some quiet time together. The decor is just gorgeous too!

This lovely campsite has a range of really unusual places to stay from hobbit holes to safari tents; there are also lots of activities for all ages. It looks like a fab place for some outdoor adventures and is situated between Bedale and Ripon which are gorgeous little towns full of history.

Well these are a few family getaways I've got my eye on for the next few months, are you planning any mini breaks with your little lovelies? Would love to hear any suggestions!

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