Thursday 31 December 2015

Juliette's getting ready to hit the ski slopes (Vertbaudet review)

When Vertbaudet got in touch and asked if we'd like to review something from their winter range, I mentioned that Juliette had a school skiing trip coming up and that it would be fantastic if they could send me an item that she could use for that. We were over the moon when a huge package arrived containing a whole skiing outfit to keep her dry and warm, but also looking fabulous, when she's falling over in the snow !

The first thing she tried on (and has barely taken off since) is this wonderfully soft and warm purple fleece. Juliette was already totally in love with it on the fluffy plush side, then she realised it's reversible and also has a funky pink side covered with purple stars. Two for the price of one and less space taken up in the suitcase ! 

On top of this, she pulled the salopettes which offer lots of padding and waterproof protection for the inevitable falls. Juliette loves the elasticated braces but they can be removed if you prefer. They are the perfect fit because they have an elasticated waistband along with a zip and press-stud fastening. Other cool features include the numerous handy pockets and adjustable hems.

The matching ski parka is wonderfully warm and is also waterproof coated. It has lots of handy features to make getting youngsters bundled up a little easier - touch 'n' close tab cuffs and sleeve edges with thumb holes, an elasticated snow skirt with press-studs at the hem and sleeve loops for attaching the clips on any Vertbaudet gloves or mittens. All things that I'm sure her teachers will appreciate when they have about thirty children to get dressed with the right number of gloves before heading to the slopes !

The hood looks huge in this photo but it was Juliette demonstrating that she'd have enough room to put it over her ski helmet ! The faux fur trim can be removed and reattached with press studs. The gloves are also great, offering lots of padding for warmth and protection while not hindering dexterity, as you can see in the photo, where Juliette is munching on a custard cream !

I think receiving all this skiwear has suddenly made it seem more real for Juliette so she's getting quite excited now. (Although her face has more to do with a custard cream that has just disappeared into her mouth than a look of excitement !) I'm excited about the number of things I can tick off the list of things to buy too !

Here's what we received and the great news is, it's all in the sale at the moment so there are some bargains to be had :

Ski Salopettes, £29 (currently 50% off - £14.50)
Reversible Fleece, £19 (currently 25% off - £14.25)
Ski Parka, £44 (currently 20% off - £35.20)
Ski Gloves, £15

Disclosure : We received the products in order to write an honest review.

Madhouse diaries : Some rather squelchy geocaching !

As we had a quiet morning while visiting my parents, I decided to add a few geocaches to my year's tally. I was delighted to discover that there's one in view of their house so that was where we started.

The next one made me laugh because it was supposed to be a series about non-native trees and had a blurb about the Scot's Pine on its writeup. We found Pine Avenue which is where it was located but the pine tree is long gone !

We were initiating Auntie Em into the delights (and squelchiness !) of geocaching too.

I was shocked by the amount of flytipping down the country lanes ... we even spotted a toilet !

We decided these trees looked like they were kissing or having a cuddle !

Looking for a large geocache, we decided that this was a likely hiding place, but Sophie's not looking too keen because there was a spider's web in the way.

I used my camera flash to have a sneaky peek - aha, I see you !

This cache was designed as a lucky dip so it was full of ripped up paper to dig through for the little surprises.

We had a good sort through and found all these goodies so we decided to have a clearout in our swaps bag. We took the whole lot (except the cable) ...

... and left all these new toys behind, as well as a travel bug and some smaller toys.

Time to stuff it all back into the sweetie jar cache !

One last photo before putting it back in its hidey hole.

Now this part of the wood was slightly muddy but I knew that the second part of the cache, a couple of hundred metres away, was down a much muddier path.

I left the girls at the top of the hill and squelched and skidded my way down to the lower path which was a tunnel of trees and foliage.

There was a fallen tree that had continued to grow and looked like a waterfall of branches.

And a huge tree trunk with these strange growths all the way up that looked like stepping stones or fairy ledges !

It started to rain so I gave up after a very quick and fruitless search and headed back to the girls. As the way up had been very skiddy, I decided to head down the other side, but I wasn't counting on the sucky mud trying to remove my shoe. It gave us the biggest laugh of the day though !

I decided to get the girls to pose by this "danger of death" sign on the way home because it made me laugh !

Life Unexpected

Wednesday 30 December 2015

The Christmas Pawsome box (review)

Vicky and Didou, the Madhouse pooches, decided (oh ok, I decided on their behalf !) to give their fabulously festive Christmas Pawsome box to Dieser and Brodie, the Madhouse grandparents' doggies, as we were visiting over Christmas.

Brodie instantly came to investigate !

He was immediately intrigued by the ball on a rope.

Pierre thought this was great news ...

... and a long game of tug-of-war ensued !

Until Brodie went back to the box and picked up the squeaky Santa plastic toy to play with instead. He had great fun chewing it, squeaking it, throwing it around then fetching it when Pierre threw it to him. It was so much fun, Pierre abandoned his own Christmas toys in favour of the doggie ones ! In fact, we all decided that the soft toy squeaky owl in a funky festive Fair Isle jumper was far too cute to be chewed to bits and slobbered on by the dogs so Pierre has adopted him for himself ! The toys got a great reception but, after several days of enthusiastic playing, they both did show signs of wear and tear - the ball on a rope had started to fray and the poor old squeaky Santa had a hole chewed in its hat !

Also in the box were some swiftly devoured foodie treats - some Trixie Premio Christmas Filets, some Choc Orange Minis and some beautiful (and apparently equally tasty) doggie Christmas Puddings.

There was also a Biogance Protein Plus shampoo which is enriched with wheatproteins for a triple detangling, protective and fortifying action. It smells really nice and it will be great for making Didou and Vicky's fur nice and soft and, hopefully, tangle-free.

Contents of the box vary depending on the size and breed of your dog so have a look at the website to see the full range of products that went out in previous boxes. You can also have a look at our reviews of some of the previous Pawsome boxes here, here and here. As well as Pawsome boxes for dogs, there are Purrfect boxes for cats, so your feline friends don't feel left out.

A monthly subscription costs £19.90, six-monthly works out at £17.90 per month and yearly is the equivalent of £15.90 per month, including delivery. If you love to pamper your pet pooch and you like receiving surprises through the post, this is a great scheme to sign up to.

for more information :

Disclosure : We received a box in order to write an honest review.

Geocaching Diaries : Bon Voyage Froggie Travel Bug !

One of the most exciting parts of geocaching is discovering a travelbug - a little keyring-type object with a code that allows you to track where it's been and where it will continue to go after you've helped it on its way.

We found this cute little frog travelbug called KROAA at Armbouts-Cappel Lake near Dunkirk in France a few weeks ago.

According to his tracking page, as he's a frog, he likes to be close to water and swampy areas.

So it's quite apt that both the day when we picked him up and also dropped him off were decidedly damp !

I went to look up his itinerary so far and he's actually a fairly recent travelbug, having only been released a few months ago in September 2015. He started out in Poitou-Charentes in France but within a week, was travelling 640km (400 miles) to Belgium, before crossing back over the border into Northern France where I found him.

We brought him over to England with us and released him in Hastings this week, in a suitably swampy wood.

He's currently hiding in this hollow tree and I can't wait to see where he'll end up next. 

I love the fact that you see across to my childhood stomping ground - both my parents' house and secondary school - from where we dropped him off.

Happy (or hoppy?!) travels, little froggie ! Have you had any geocaching adventures or found any travel bugs lately?

Tuesday 29 December 2015

Making the most of our Christmas money - when second hand is a first class idea !

Did you or the kids get any Christmas money that you are now looking to spend? Have you already got it earmarked for something that you've been hankering after for ages or are you going to see what catches your eye in the sales? 

Cash Generator challenged us to see if we could find ourselves a second hand gift with £20 so I headed off for a look. They have a shop in Hastings but you can also browse all their stores nationwide online and have your purchases delivered. The Madhouse kids had been going on about buying ET on DVD so I was delighted to spot one in the shop for a bargaintastic £1.50 - just as cheap as online auction sites but without the postage costs !

I also found these two which will be good for when I fancy something a bit silly and brainless to make me laugh - Celebrity Juice was also £1.50.

Outnumbered was £3.50 but it's a 3-disc boxset so is still great value.

It's not all DVDs though - I also spotted a preowned handheld GPS for £27.99 which would be a great way to start geocaching, if my posts have convinced you ! (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, check out my geocaching posts here.)

Some things, such as toys or beauty products, are brand new in the box so it's definitely worth having a look if you like to grab a bargain. I was amazed at how much we could get with a relatively small amount of money, so it's a great way of helping the kids make their Christmas money go a bit further.

Disclosure : We received some spending money to take part in the Second Hand Gift Challenge.

Madhouse Diaries: An Enchanting Christmas Eve Walk

There are two things I've always wanted to do on Christmas Eve with the kids - the first is going to a nativity play in a church with real live animals (there used to be one locally but I think they stopped doing it) and the second is a twilight walk around some of the houses in and around Hastings whose owners totally cover their houses and gardens with Christmas light displays. This year it was cold but dry so we went to investigate.

This house is the only one in the street to be decorated and there are crowds of people coming to see it and leave money in the charity collection box.

Look in the bedroom window - there is even a Santa projected in the window who suddenly appears to squeals of delight from the children.

Our next stop was the nearby village of Westfield where every single house and garden is festooned with spectacular twinkling lights and displays.

There were even bigger crowds of people here, along with people with charity collecting tins.

I don't think we've ever seen so many lights on one house before !

I hate to imagine what their electricity bills will be like in January though !

 There are displays on houses and in gardens ...

... and even a caravan ! 

I'm not sure if this was a game of football or snowball !

This house invited you to walk down the garden path to take in everything on display ... and there was a lot !

There was even a train that moved around on a track.

You can see the crowds of peope queueing up to walk down the path.

There was also a very impressive Christmas tree.

And Pierre was delighted to finish off with an illuminated Minion !

It was a fabulous way to kick off Christmas Eve, before coming back to more Christmas Eve magic with a phone call from Santa and watching his progress on the NORAD Santa tracker.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Linking up with Out & About at Chez Maximka and Dragons & Fairydust

Life Unexpected
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