Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Toddler Takeover | Great North Museum

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A friend of mine messaged me recently saying she had booked tickets for the Toddler Takeover at the Great North Museum and asked if I'd like to go too. I had never heard of it before, but with Zoe's recent Museum obsession; fuelled by the Night at the Museum movies, it sounded like a perfect way to spend a Friday morning.

The event itself is free but divided into hour long sessions, so you have to prebook to get a place (and it is pretty popular so book fast!). When I first read the itinerary I didn't think we would spend the full hour, as keeping a toddler engaged for an hour is a tough task! However, the hour flew by and she didn't want to leave!

I had really hammed up the fact that the museum staff needed her help, as I was worried beforehand that she would be bored or not be engaged by it. But I shouldn't have worried as I literally had to drag her from the place to cries of "But mummy, they neeeeeeed my help!" and the promise of a Happy Meal.

There were 10 different stations to chose from, each showing a different museum job that they wanted the toddlers help with. From researching to packing up artefacts, from feeding their toy snake (and seeing live ones) to transporting the animal exhibits. Each activity was fun and engaging but also taught the little ones about what they do in the museum and why.

Zoe's favourites were the packing up artefacts, the transporting (basically pushing a cart around at speed!) and the live snake.

There was a little bubble tent where they had soft toys and you had to sort them into land, air and sea animals. Although Zoe just took them out of the box one by one for a nice big cuddle.

There were a wide range of ages from 1-4 and I would say there was activities for all of them! The museum have done a great job in pitching the activities at the different abilities and the staff were so helpful and friendly. I would highly recommend the toddler take over event to parents of pre schoolers in the North East.

Looking at their website they offer a few different type of events for under 5s, so I will be keeping my eyes peeled for the next one for sure!

Of course no trip to the museum is complete without a trip via the gift shop, we managed to get out without buying anything this time by some miracle!

I am always on the look out for things to do with Zoe, so if you know of anything, please let me know.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Meal Plan Like a Boss - 20 November

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Another OK week last week, but with Christmas fast approaching the need to be extra frugal is weighing heavy, I have actually been fairly organised this year and most of the presents have been bought and stashed away. Although December always feels like such a long old month, so frugality is the word of the week.

I am a little obsessed with Christmas food planning at the moment, I'd love to hear any Christmas food traditions that you have, or alternative menu ideas.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Our Perfect Little Wedding Day.

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My official photos are back and I have finally stopped crying (with happiness obvs) long enough to share a little more about our perfect little wedding day with the world. I did share an initial post on how we planned our Wedding on a tiny budget, but now I want to just share how the day itself wend down and all of these beautiful photos... LOOK AT THEM!
Firstly of course I have to do a GREAT BIG SHOUT OUT to our fantastic photographer Hannah from Lifeline Photography, please go check out her website and give her some love as she is just amazing. She fit in so beautifully with our laid back day and knew exactly the type of shots we wanted. If you are looking for a slightly quirky and bloody talented wedding photographer, pop her at the top of your list, OK?


Tuesday, 14 November 2017

What I'm really thinking; The Mother of a Ginger Child.

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I recently read this article in the Guardian and I had so many thoughts and responses I decided to write my own account of what I am really thinking, as a ginger mother of a ginger child.
I struggle to remember Zoe's birth very clearly in a bit of a blur of gas and air and pain, but I vividly remember when she was born, firstly asking "Is this her?" as they plonked her on my chest. She was so tiny and I'd been told over and over what a chunky giant baby I was going to have, so I almost didn't believe this tiny little thing could be my baby, despite literally watching her come out (sorry for that visual).
The second question I asked Paul was "Is she ginger?". I remember the midwife saying something about all babies looking ginger due to blood and stuff, as if she was trying to comfort me in the fact she might not really be ginger. The reality was that I really really wanted her to be ginger; like me.
It makes me incredibly sad to think that so many people are possibly disappointed when recessive ginger genes appear in their children, as if this pesky gene is a passport to a lifetime of bullying and should be something to hate.



Monday, 13 November 2017

Meal Plan Like a Boss - 13th November

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We definitely had a slightly better week last week, much less shop bought and more homemade. I still think we could do better though, especially with my work lunches. If we don't have leftovers from the night before, I tend to end up buying a sandwich and it all adds up.
So my pledge this week is to be prepared, have my breakfast and lunch sorted each day. I'd love to hear the sorts of things you make for lunches at work? Hit me up!


Monday, 6 November 2017

Meal Plan Like a Boss - 6 November

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Last week was not good, not good at all... Far too much takeaway, far too little meal planning. The irony that I posted my 'How to Meal Plan Like a Boss in 5 Easy Steps' last week while chomping away on my second take away of the week. I need to sort my life out.
I am in a serious life funk at the moment, I am busy and stressed with work, which means I am tired and grumpy by the time I get home and get the toddler to bed. So this week we are determined and focussing on quick and easy meals.
Wish me luck!


Wednesday, 1 November 2017

How to Meal Plan Like a Boss in 5 Easy Steps (Free Printable)

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meal plan printable and avocado lunch
I have been posting fairly regularly on here about meal planning for the last couple of years. It is something I feel is really essential to not only cutting costs, but also keeping food waste to a minimum. On weeks where I don't meal plan I really notice a sharp increase in the number of top up trips to the supermarket, and also the amount we throw away. So for those of you new to the meal planning world or who are noticing your food bills creep upwards, I thought I would share some of my top tips so you too can MEAL PLAN LIKE A BOSS.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Meal Plan Like a Boss - 23 October

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Its been A WHILE since I had a coherent meal plan. The husband went away for two full weeks (three weekends) and I thought it would be a great opportunity to eat what I like, lots of veggies and slightly more adventurous foods... In reality I was cooking for one so ended up with toast or cereal a lot.
Does anyone really bother when its only themselves to feed?
Anyway, he is back, back to normality, so here goes with this weeks meal plan. I should also mention
I am trying my hardest to not spend money on coffee/food at work, so taking stuff from home.


Sunday, 22 October 2017

Autumn in Full Effect.

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Hands down, Autumn is my favourite time of year visually. Especially early autumn when its still warm enough to run around with bare legs and cardigans but the leaves are turning and the colours are just incredible. We recently took a trip to Rising Sun Country Park for some fresh air and horse spotting, we grabbed our best friends and threw leaves, made dens, climbed trees and had the most wonderful day. The light was just perfect and I couldn't resist snapping some beautiful photos of my beautiful girl - who lets face it, is autumn personified with those auburn curls.


Friday, 29 September 2017

How We Planned our Perfect Wedding (on a really really tight budget)

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How We Planned our Perfect Wedding (on a really really tight budget) from Nelly's Cupcakes
I decided to publish this post before my official pictures came back, as I wanted to do it while it was all fresh in my mind, so these pictures are pinched from friends and family. I'll share a second post once I get the fancy photos.
Weddings are BIG business, its a well known fact that if you tell a business you are getting married they tend to double the price of whatever it was you were planning to buy. I know that sounds super cynical and I know not all businesses do this, but I experienced it a fair few times first hand.
When we got engaged we were really overwhelmed by all of the wedding websites and blogs quoting thousands and acting like that was cheap. I lost count of the number of blog posts I read claiming their £7k wedding was cheap/a bargain. I felt like we might never actually get married. We had little savings and it all felt a bit disheartening. We were very fortunate that a wonderful family member gifted us £500 which helped us get the ball rolling and we embarked upon trying to make our perfect day, on a shoestring budget.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Life Lately - September 2017

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Life has been a little hectic lately, I mean when is life with a toddler not hectic? But this past few months has been just a little bit extra. The main source of the stress has of course been my recent nuptials. I mean we purposefully went for small and fun to try and avoid any sort of bridezilla moments and for the most part we managed to keep things together, but my brain has been pretty occupied with a lot of 'But what if no one comes?!' or 'What if it all looks a bit shit?!' and its left little room for much else.
So now its all done and dusted and I am fully fledged Sadie (funny girl reference alert), I thought I would once again peek into the blogosphere and see what's been occurring.
So here is a little glimpse at my life lately and what to expect coming up on my little corner of the web.


Monday, 7 August 2017

Meal Plan Like a Boss - 7 August

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WE SURVIVED! Two weeks of no childminder. We did succumb to take away once, and I did have toast for dinner one night, but we survived! This week we are sort of back to normal, Zoe is back to the childminder but Paul is away Monday-Thursday being a super important big shot with work, so I am fending for myself.

On one hand I am anticipating feeling a bit lonely and sleeping with the TV on (tell me I am not the only adult who gets a bit creeped out being home alone?!) but on the other hand I am excited to plan meals just for me! I feel a bit overwhelmed by choice, as nothing is off limits!

Monday:

Breakfast: Porridge with banana and honey
Lunch: naked noodles with seeded toast and avocado
Dinner: Leftover roast chicken pad thai.

Tuesday:

Breakfast: Porridge with blueberries and honey
Lunch: Leftover pad thai
Dinner: Roasted broccoli fritata with haloumi

Wednesday:

Breakfast: Porridge with banana and honey
Lunch: Red pepper and tomato soup.
Dinner: Pineapple and olive pizza.

Thursday:

Breakfast: Porridge with blueberries and honey
Lunch: Red pepper and tomato soup
Dinner: I am out with friends for Newcastle Restaurant Week, we haven't decided where yet as we are indecisive.

Friday:

Breakfast: Cereal, toast and coffee
Lunch: We are planning to be out and about during the day, so we'll grab something on the go.
Dinner: Pesto pasta with bacon and garlic bread.

What is everyone else eating this week? Don't forget you can grab my free PRINTABLE MEAL PLANNER over on last week's Meal Plan Like a Boss post.

What's on your meal plan this week?

Sunday, 6 August 2017

World Breastfeeding Week - Demand more from your nursing bra.

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It's World Breastfeeding Week (1-7 August), and I realised I have never really discussed my own experiences of breastfeeding on this blog. Mostly that was purposeful, as it is such an emotive topic, I didn't feel 100% comfortable sharing my own experiences as my decision to combi-feed can sometimes be met with negativity online. However, I did manage to breastfeed Zoe for 12 months and I am incredibly proud of that fact.

One thing I absolutely hated about breastfeeding was frumpy nursing bras. I searched high and low for a decent nursing bra, which not only fitted my ample milk filled boobs, but also looked nice. I mean it is hard enough to maintain your sense of self in new motherhood. I struggled to find high street retailers who stocked my size in store, and I was a bit daunted by shopping online, in case they didn't fit. So I ended up venturing to M&S, where it took me so long to find the measly two styles they had in store, which were hidden on the bottom row under the post-surgery bras - nothing saying 'normalize breastfeeding' like crawling on your hands and knees in marks and spencer to find a nursing bra.

The two I bought were beige and navy with twee polka dots and a bow on the front. They didn't really fit well, but they had the little clippies and I made do. They provided no support, and I felt frumpy in them, but I didn't realise there was any other choice out there.

So, I wanted to take this opportunity to share a shop which specialises in edgy, modern design which is functional but also a little bit (dare I say) sexy! I certainly wish I knew of them back when I was feeding.

The Lucky Muthah Nursing Bra design is a nursing bra like no other! After having her daughter in 2015 Carly Foster became disheartened with the lack of edgy and modern nursing bras available. She craved to have a nursing bra that was functional, a bit sexy, not beige, and basically something she didn't mind people getting an eye-full of when her darling daughter pulled at her top to demand more 'Boo Boos!' in the middle of the coffee shop. (we've all been there right?)

On-trend prints, modern cage-detailing, natural shaping and lift (yes, even for those with larger busts). What also makes their Nursing Bra unique is the 'Y' strap detail. This not only aids support (which we all know our milk-filled boobs need as much of as possible), but is also a fashion detail that can be incorporated with your outfits and can turn any outfit from 'Frumpy Mum' to 'Lucky Muthah'!

To celebrate both World Breastfeeding Week and one year of selling their amazing bras, Lucky Muthas will be having a month long sale (25% off!) on ALL nursing bras, and bringing back a few Limited Edition favourites that had previously sold out.

There is also an Instagram competition to win your own Lucky Mutha Nursing Bra by sharing your own Breastfeeding story/brelfie/experience using the #DemandMoreFromYourNursingBra hashtag.

The aim of the campaign is to get Mamas talking about breastfeeding. The good and the bad. Our lows and our highs. Let’s be real! Let’s talk about how itchy breast pads are, and how scary it can be when you first breastfeed in public. How you’ve been wearing the same grey ‘sleep bra’ for months because it’s impossible to find a decent fitting nursing bra on the high-street! To discuss how impractical and dated high-street nursing bras can be. To empower breastfeeding mothers to share a brelfie (breastfeeding selfie) and talk about how we want to demand more from our usual boring nursing bra. Being a new Mama and hardly having time for a shower is tough enough, without feeling like your tender, leaky bosom aren’t being supported enough. Let’s share how proud and Lucky we are to be able to breastfeed and empower other Mamas to do the same!

To take part in the campaign, or to just help spread the word and help get the conversation surrounding nursing bras flowing, you just need to post your picture on instagram and use the tag #demandmorefromyournursingbra.

So please get involved and start demanding more from your nursing bra.

(This is not a sponsored post, I am just really quite passionate about this and wanted to share this great shop/campaign)

Friday, 4 August 2017

Family Fun - Pick Your Own Farm.

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We recently packed up the car and took a little weekend road trip down to Suffolk to visit family, so I thought I would share some of our adventures from our trip. Our original plan was to leave around bedtime on Thursday night so that Zoe would sleep for most of the 5-6 hour journey. It seemed like such a great idea which had totally worked the last time we travelled (when she was much younger and winter) however, it didn't work nearly as well as this time. We didn't factor in that it was the middle of July so BRIGHT sunshine until nearly 10pm at night, also she is now potty trained so despite putting a pull up on her (she still wears one at night) she was awake so still insisted on stopping to wee.

So despite our great plans and best intentions, we listened to non stop Disney songs and stopped at most of the service stations on the A1, arriving at nearly 11pm, BUT my little trooper was great and after a quick hello and milk pit stop, went straight off to bed.

One downside of being away from home, and also co-sleeping with a toddler, I was rudely awoken at 5am every morning while we were away. Thank HEAVENS for the Kindle Fire which bought me at least 40 minutes of dozing time each morning. Although note to self, take your coffee machine with you next time, the countryside might be beautiful and peaceful and green, but there are no coffee shops anywhere, not one.

On day two we took a trip to a nearby Alder Carr Farm to pick some raspberries (sadly we were a bit too late for strawberries). It's something I have wanted to do with Zoe for a while, but not having a car makes it a bit more difficult to visit farms, another minus in the countryside column is the lack of public transport (city girl fo lyf!)

Alder Carr Farm is lovely, it has a wonderful farm shop filled with delicious produce and locally sourced ingredients and a great little cafe with the most wonderful cake selection. There is not much else for children to do, but Zoe really enjoyed picking (and eating) the raspberries, spotting the juiciest ones hidden out of sight.

We ended up with two HUGE punnets of raspberries and a slightly sticky toddler, but we had lots of fun. Sadly we had to pack up and travel home the following day so didn't get a chance to make anything with the raspberries, but I am reliably informed they were turned into jam and cake after we left.

I really enjoyed snapping these pictures and getting to grips with my new camera lens (50mm is EVERYTHING guys) so I am just going to leave these pictures here... I hope you love them as much as I do.

Stay tuned for more adventures from the countryside!

I've already had messages so just editing to add that Zoe's skirt is from Tu at Sainsburys and her hat is M&S.

Babyfoote

Monday, 31 July 2017

Meal Plan Like a Boss - 31st July

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We are now on week 2 of our childminders holiday, so I am off back to work, and Paul is taking the week off with Zoe. So this week's meal plan will be a bit disjointed, with planning for all three of us eating at different times/places.

Monday:

Breakfast: Cereal for Zoe and Paul, I will have porridge at work.
Lunch: Zoe is deep in a jam sandwich addiction right now, so no doubt that will feature heavily this week for her. I usually buy a large pot of soup which lasts a couple of days lunches.
Dinner: Leftover roast chicken egg fried rice.

Tuesday:

Breakfast:Cereal for Zoe and Paul, I will have porridge at work.
Lunch: Paul is planning lots of day trips and picnics this week, so we have lots of picnic things like Babybel cheese, mini cheddars, veggie sticks, hummus etc... I'll be having the second half of the soup.
Dinner: Slow cooked beef stew

Wednesday:

Breakfast: Cereal for Zoe and Paul, I will have porridge at work.
Lunch: Leftover beef stew with bread and butter for all.
Dinner: Paul and Zoe are going to have a freezer tea (fish fingers) and I will make myself a jacket potato when I get home.

Thursday:

Breakfast: Cereal for Zoe and Paul, I will have porridge at work.
Lunch: Paul is taking Zoe on a playdate to the Discovery Museum, so packed lunches it'll be! I will probably turn to one of the naked noodle pots I have stashed at work.
Dinner: Bangers and mash with veg and gravy

Friday:

Breakfast: We are all off together today, so I think so treat Maple Syrup Pancakes might be in order.
Lunch: I'd love for us to go down to the coast as a family today, so will take a packed lunch and some pennies for ice cream.
Dinner: Pesto pasta with bacon and garlic bread.

What is everyone else eating this week? Don't forget you can grab my free PRINTABLE MEAL PLANNER over on last week's Meal Plan Like a Boss post.

What's on your meal plan this week?

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Fluffy Maple Pancakes - The perfect family breakfast.

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Pancakes are the ultimate treat breakfast in my house, reserved for birthdays and special occasions. I mean if it was up to me I'd make them all the damn time, I am fairly certain I could meal plan a full week based on pancakes alone. However, I am a firm believer that too much of a good thing can spoil it, plus I love how excited Zoe gets at the mention of pancakes.

I am usually a pretty traditional lemon and sugar type of gal on the crepe-style pancakes, however if there is maple syrup in the equation then it HAS to be fluffy American style pancakes. You need the thickness to soak up all that delicious syrup.

We were staying with my Auntie last weekend down in Suffolk, and she had been given some maple syrup by some Canadian friends, so I offered to make pancakes for everyone, with either bacon or strawberries. I didn't think Zoe would like the smoked bacon, which is why we had some strawberries, but honestly it was nice to start with the savoury bacon and end with the strawberry - sort of like breakfast dessert! Not that there were many strawberries left once Zoe had clocked them.

I don't have a dining table at home, so being away at a house with a dining room was a bit of a treat. I used to LOVE weekend breakfasts as a kid, we would lay out lots of cereal and toast and toppings, tea and coffee and juice. It felt like a real treat - parents reading the paper, and just time to chat and relax as a family. One day I would love to live somewhere with room for a dining table and recreate this moment with my family.

Its so funny the things you remember as a kid, I am sure my parents didn't think those breakfasts would stick in my mind so much. I do wonder which moments Zoe is going to remember as an adult.

So, to the recipe;

Recipe


this recipe served 3 adults and one toddler, made around 8 pancakes

Ingredients
280g Plain Flour
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
45g Caster Sugar
2.5 tablespoon (plus extra for serving) Maple Syrup
250ml milk (you can use any type of milk, I opted for semi-skimmed, but have made them with Almond and Hazelnut before)
2 Free Range Eggs
30g Butter, Melted
small amount for frying Oil or butter

Method
1. This is really just a chuck it all in a bowl and whisk kind of recipe, I tend to measure out all of the wet then add the dry to it, but honestly as long as you whisk all the lumps out, go wild.

2. You need a good non stick frying pan, warm up some oil or butter (your choice, coconut oil is nice) and ladle mixture into the pan, tip the pan a little to allow the mixture to spread. I find for the thicker pancakes, cooking at a lower temperature for longer works best. I have a gas hob at home, but found the electric at my aunties house MUCH better for this - low and slow.

3. Repeat step two until all the mixture is gone, and serve with whatever toppings you like!

What toppings do you like on your pancakes? I am partial to warm caramelised banana or Nutella for sure. I am always looking for ideas though.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Meal Plan Like a Boss - 24th July

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This week I am off work (mostly) with Zoe, my Childminder takes two weeks holiday in the summer, so I am off this week and then Paul is off next week (the reality of working parents who never get to spend holidays together). Its actually really rare for me to cook a full week of toddler friendly food, so wish me luck!

It is also delightfully the last week of a very expensive month so frugal is the theme.

Monday:

I am at work for part of the day, so will need easy things that can be prepared ahead of time.

Breakfast: Cereal and fruit for Zoe, coffee and toast for me.
Lunch: Homemade leek and potato soup with bread
Dinner: Tuna pasta bake

Tuesday:

Breakfast: Cereal and fruit for Zoe, coffee and toast for me.
Lunch: Leftover pasta bake
Dinner: Salmon pad thai

Wednesday:

We are spending the day in York visiting friends so will be eating out, as we are being frugal I will pack lots of snacks and maybe some sandwiches for lunch. We will eat breakfast before we go.

Thursday:

Breakfast: Cereal and fruit for Zoe, coffee and toast for me.
Lunch: Pitta pineapple pizzas.
Dinner: Butter chicken with rice

Friday:

Breakfast: Cereal and fruit for Zoe, coffee and toast for me.
Lunch: Cheese toasties with carrot and cucumber fingers
Dinner: Mini roast chicken dinner.

What is everyone else eating this week? Don't forget you can grab my free PRINTABLE MEAL PLANNER over on last week's Meal Plan Like a Boss post.

What's on your meal plan this week?

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Blogger Pre-School Playdate @ Role Play in Hebburn

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Play dates and two year olds are a volatile combination.

I have this rose tinted idea of what I want a play date to be; sipping coffee and catching up with friend while our little darlings play nicely nearby. Being able to hold an adult conversation and hear all about your friends new job, or new house, or even just chat about last nights gripping BBC drama (The Replacement, anyone watch it?)

However, this is rarely the reality, you inevitably end up chasing your child around some warehouse style play place, which has a ridiculous number of possible escape routes or dangers. Or your child insists that you go down the slide with them every single time, or wants you to hang out in the ball pool and watch them jump in and out 24,000 times - "look mummy, I'm jumping".

Don't get me wrong I adore playing with my child, we often go to these places just the two of us, or to the park, but sometimes you really just want to catch up with friends and drink coffee that is still warm.

So, when the lovely Nyomi from Nomipalony organised a playdate for local bloggers with pre-school aged children, I was a bit skeptical. I mean, yeah, it would be lovely to get to know other local bloggers better, but is that even possible while chasing down a toddler? However, I was pleasantly surprised by Role Play in Hebburn, which was the venue chosen. I'd heard about a few different role play style places around the local area but never explored them.

Roleplay is total play date heaven. There is a cluster of cafe tables running down the middle of the room, with a series of stations around the outside, from a construction site, to a police station - a supermarket to a hairdressers. Each play session is 90 minutes long, and during that time I got to sit and drink a hot coffee, eat a sausage sandwich and chat to lots of lovely bloggers - all whilst Zoe played happily with other children, staying completely in view the entire time! She would pop up every few minutes for juice, or to show me something, or to have a dance to the disney hit playing in the background.

My only minor negative would be the quality of the coffee, you guys know me and my coffee snobbery though. The sausage sandwich however, was top notch.

We had a lovely time and Zoe slept most of the way home in the sling. We will be back soon for a visit.

It is £4 for a 90 minute session during term time, or £5 on weekends or holidays. The spaces are limited so its never super crowded, which is a bonus if you've ever been to a soft play during a rainy school holiday.

Check out their website for more info.

I visited Role Play back in March 2017, just was slightly delayed in posting this. I was given free entry but was not asked to do a review and all views are my own, obvs.

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