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EVENT | Celebrating 80 years of iCandy.

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A few months ago I was contacted by iCandy; it was all a little bit secret. I was intrigued, excited. Then a few weeks ago I received the most wonderfully presented envelope, in the post, that I’d seen in a long time! Inside was even better, an invitation to the  iCandy 80th Anniversary event on Tuesday 10th September, at superb events venue, One Marylebone, London.

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I was thrilled to be invited and of course made that RSVP shortly after.

Looking forward to the event, I made my journey into London early so that I could meet my OH and he could then take Mr Eli for some lovely food and then home for bed. I arrived at One Marylebone just a little after 6:30pm, where I was greeted with the warm welcome of event staff, a red carpet and a truly eye-catching iCandy facade, laden with vibrantly coloured parasols!

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Upon ticking my name off the guest list, I was ushered upstairs; where I was promptly handed a glass of Moët & Chandon and walked around the show space that displayed all the beautiful iCandy designs to date.

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I paid particular attention to the newest model, the Apple2Pear, as I hadn’t yet seen it in real life. I was astonished at the versatility and function of the design. Coming in 7 different colours, I am drawn to the Chilli and Raspberry Blue colourways. This is definitely the perfect travel system for when your family grows.

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So as the drinks flowed and the very tasty canapés were devoured, the time had come to head downstairs for the show to really begin! I was shown to a magical room filled with all things ‘woodland’, including a huge tree.

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I was seated on front row, or FROW as you fashionista’s will refer to it these days 😉 Once everyone was seated we were treated to the most amazing sounds of Whinnie Williams – voice like an actual angel!

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Other familiar faces to FROW were Imogen Thomas, Grace Woodward, Jasmine Guinness and Jodie Kidd. We were then introduced to iCandy‘s Managing Director Martin Boyle and joint CEO’s the Appel Brother’s themselves. It was incredible listening to men with such passion for their work – and their teams. I was in literal tears during the speeches. A new partnership between iCandy and The Lullaby Trust was also formally announced; and a cheque of £5,000 was given to the trusts’ CEO, Francine Beats. iCandy have teamed up with ex-Mulberry designer, Janet Collin, who has created a special new changing bag; the Emilia bag. £10 from the sale of each bag, will be given to The Lullaby Trust.

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Following the speeches was a fashion show, previewing the 2014 collection. New flavour packs in bright colours, upgraded designs (including a black chassis) and fashion-conscious handbags.

The highlight for me was the big reveal of the forthcoming new model to the iCandy family, The iCandy Raspberry. Of which, I was in actual awe – both during the catwalk show and post-show, where I stood for a good 30 minutes watching the hands-on demonstration, showing us all the multitude of ways the pushchair can be flipped and changed around, as well as folded up. The iCandy Raspberry is a stunning piece of innovative design, in form and function. The design is very, very neat, lightweight and stylish. The iCandy Raspberry is suitable from birth, but does not have a carrycot! Brilliant! There is however a very snuggly newborn “Pod” that will keep your brand new arrival warm, cosy and most importantly, secure. This pushchair has been designed for the city-dweller, someone who needs a pram that is adept in crowds and along city streets, lightweight to get up stairs and on public transport, but it’s also pretty darn cool too! The best-looking pram I’ve EVER seen – and we’ve seen A LOT of prams! This design can lay completely flat, but also reclines for older children; it’s also forward and parent-facing. Bonus. I also want to mention that I was shocked at how small the Raspberry was when folded, it’s tiny. We currently have an iCandy Strawberry and although it folds down well, we do struggle to get it in and out of the car – and it does take up pretty much the entire boot of our VW Polo. The Raspberry would give you back your boot, if you’re in the same situation!

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I also loved the large shopping basket on the iCandy Raspberry, which features a ‘glove compartment’ as I fondly like to call it. The hard case could house your raincover, keys, phone etc, great for keeping your valuables out of sight. The iCandy Raspberry will come in around 7 new colour flavour packs, names to be confirmed. But the colours that were displayed were just stunning. I want them ALL! I love that you can swap and change the colours around – so versatile.

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After the demonstration I headed over to the cupcake table, passing the very lovely ’80’ cake and took 2 cupcakes home. One for me with a midnight cup of tea and one for OH, who’d had a tough evening with Mr Eli. We both really appreciated those delicious cup cakes, believe me! I also thoroughly enjoyed my lovely iCandy goodie bag filled with lots of lovely catalogues, magazine, leather-bound note book, mug, pen and yummy chocolates!

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What an absolutely amazing evening was had by all. I just want to say a BIG THANK YOU to iCandy for inviting me to the event. It was wonderful to meet the brains behind the brand and to experience the passion of everyone involved.

MM.

 

PS – Apologies for the rubbish quality of some of the photos. The show was very quick-paced and the lighting changed frequently. Plus, to be fair, I need a new phone!

 

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REVIEW: Center Parcs, Sherwood Forest.

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Location: Center Parcs, Sherwood Forest.

Length of stay: Monday-Friday, May 2013.

Lodge: New Executive Lodge, 653 (Cedar).

Number of people: 6 Adults, 2 Children, 2 Infants.

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Back in May we went on our first family holiday to Center Parcs, Sherwood Forest. There was a total of 10 of us going so stayed in one of the New Executive Lodge’s, 653 in Cedar to be precise. We were overwhelmed by just how cool the lodge was when we pulled up outside it! My OH’s family have been visiting several Center Parc’s locations since OH was VERY young. But they all confirmed that this was “the very best lodge we’ve ever stayed in!” as soon as we were through the door.

Once inside the door there is space for coats and shoes; plus space for 2 (large) prams to fit in nicely. There was also a huge broom cupboard to house all our suitcases and umbrellas, plus additional bedding, hoover, dustpan and brush, iron, ironing board etc.  There was a dining table to seat 8 plus we had 2 high chairs brought to the lodge in advance. The highchairs were the same as the ones we found right across Center Parcs in the restaurants and places. This meant we didn’t have to figure out how to use a new highchair every time we went somewhere new, but it also meant that Eli knew it was dinner time as he recognised the highchair. This really helped with consistency. The highchairs are all easy clean, but the tray cannot be removed, or even moved closer to your little one. So there was quite a lot of space between Eli and his tray. He managed ok though. We had maid service who replenished bedding and towels and cleaned the lodge daily.

SO! A little look around Lodge 653…

There were 2 double bedrooms and 2 twin bedrooms. We were brought 2 good size cots for the baba’s too. Albeit, we had been told by friends to take our own cot bedding as this is not provided.

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Bedroom’s were very nice sizes, lots of space for a cot. Not a lot of hangers in the wardrobe though! But we made-do. Would have to mention here that the bedding was atrociously LOUD! Never ever tried sleeping in anything like it! The bed was really comfy but the duvet sounded like crisp packets, every time you BREATHED! Huge let down as it looked wonderful! After the first night we ended up taking taking the sheets off the duvet and slept in those instead. Would recommend taking your own sheets/blankets.

Each bedroom has it’s own en-suite, which is absolutely perfect when sharing with so many people! We had an amazing shower in ours. Upstairs, there were also two balconies off the bedrooms, complete with bistro set, overlooking the woodland. The living room was just lovely, huge ‘L’ shaped sofa, that I fell asleep on every night. It was just so comfy! We also had an open fire, which marked my first experience with a real indoor fire! OH led the log-burning ceremony every night. We weren’t blessed with good weather for the duration of our stay (in true British fashion!) so the wood burner was well-used! The kitchen was really spacious, with ton’s of cupboards and two fridges, an oven, hob, microwave and even a dishwasher! You are provided with a tiny amount of washing liquid, so best to take your own too. There was also a really nice breakfast bar, that the kids loved sitting at!

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We had a great patio with dining set and BBQ – we also had regular visits from the local wildlife too! We were lucky enough to have a Lodge with not only it’s own Games Room (PERFECT for the kids and Grandad!) that had a Pool table, huge TV with PS3 and a ton of board games; but we also had our own Sauna! Bliss!

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Eli is such a water baby it’s untrue – he LOVES his swimming. The Sub-Tropical Paradise was amazing. Loads of slides and play areas for children of all ages! We’ve never seen Eli happier than when he was splashing about in the baby pool. He absolutely loved it! OH and I also frequented the Rapids and new water slide. We had a particularly wonderful moment, when we were all in the outdoor pool and it began raining so so ferociously. The water in the outdoor pool was steaming hot and the rain droplets were ice cold. Very memorable and VERY refreshing! This may also have contributed to the Post-CP cold we all had! oops….

I’d also point out that you cannot take a pram or buggy into the swimming area. Eli will only sleep in his pram so this was a huge downside for us, plus our iCandy Strawberry was not cheap! We did however purchase a padlock and locked our pram in the outdoor buggy park. We purchased the padlock for £3 at the Bike Hire shed. I keep the padlock in Eli’s changing bag now, incase we’re ever faced with a similar situation anywhere else. There are ‘cots’ (more like play pens!) for your children but we struggled to get Eli to sleep in one. Could have been that it was so warm and noisy in the Dome too.

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The food was great at every restaurant we visited. The staff at all restaurants really went out of their way to accomodate us, it was an absolute pleasure to eat out! I can really recommend the French Onion soup from Cafe Rouge – I had it twice, it was so good! Equally, their English Breakfast went down a storm as we prepared for the big drive home on our last day. The ribs at Huck’s American Diner were melt in the mouth, just so tasty. I’d also recommend the Indian take away. BEST Indian take away I think we’ve ever had. Very low-cost too!

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Mid-week, OH and I indulged on our first night out since welllllll before Eli arrived. We had a few drinks at the Lodge and then went onto Strada. The manager even brought over a glass of Prosecco as it was almost my birthday! Such a lovely touch. Our table overlooked the Dome, which was just incredible by night with all the trees and tropical plants lit up in the dark. We then went onto Cafe Rouge for a glass of red outside, under a heater. It was so so lovely to catch up with OH and have a proper date night. It was long overdue. We then went for a few cocktails and to the ‘adult disco’. We thoroughly enjoyed dancing to the horrendously cheesy (mostly 90s) music, it was great fun!

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We all had an amazing time at Center Parcs, Sherwood Forest and would go back in a heartbeat. There is a TON of stuff to do, especially if you have a family. There’s also a spa, if you’re in the mood for some R & R. Center Parcs is great if you’re thinking about planning a family break, I seriously cannot recommend it enough!

I have just noted a few things that might come in handy if you’re going to visit a Center Parcs soon…

– Take your own food and drink. The Parc Market is a little bit more expensive than your usual supermarket. You can easily add £1-£2 on the price of what you would pay at home. But, of course, the Parc Market is great if you do forget something – it’s VERY well stocked.

– Take washing up liquid, especially if you’re still washing umpteen bottles like us!

– Take your own cot bedding.

– Likewise, take your own bedding if you don’t want to be disturbed by the crispy sheets provided!

– Be prepared to leave your pram/buggy outside in the Buggy Park. If you have an expensive pram, take a padlock with you so you’re not worrying the entire time about leaving it!

– Would really recommend the Dine In service. The Indian take away was just amazing. SO authentic, so tasty. Very affordable.

– Aside from the take away service, you must book all restaurants and any other activities you’d like to do on your trip. You also need to hand over a £5 deposit, per person, for every single restaurant reservation. This came out quite costly when we booked all our meals all at the same time. The deposit is deducted from your meal however, Bare this in mind if you want to dine out or partake in any activities. At Sherwood Forest, you make your reservations at the desk by the Bowling alley.

– At this particular location, we found that the Family changing cubicles were very few, so had to wait quite a while for one to become available. They were hit-and-miss on size too. We struggled at times with Eli; the changing ‘area’ for babies is made from quite a hard, evasive material, almost like concrete, so not particularly comfortable or easy on the eye. This definitely upset Eli, he didn’t like the cold concrete or the look of it, I don’t think! The entire changing experience wasn’t great, the lockers by the Family changing were miles away from the showers and were also quite far from the pool entrance. The changing area is a MAZE.

MM.

I was not endorsed for this review in any way. All opinions are my own.

 

 

 

 

 

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Surprises from my best friends!

Table at Babylon restaurant, Kensington Roof Gardens.

On Saturday of last week (9th June), I was whisked off to Kensington for lunch with my best friends at Babylon, Kensington Roof Gardens. The restaurant and garden’s were absolutely amazing… there were real-life flamingo’s in the gardens! On the ROOF, in Kensington! Crazy!

When I arrived at the restaurant I called my friends and they came and met me at the reception and lead me to our table. They’d decked the table out with ‘Baby Shower’ banners and presents! What a lovely surprise!

I thought I’d share the lovely gifts that they got us 😀

Scrummy cupcakes from Whole Foods.
Scrummy cupcakes from Whole Foods.

 

We're massive fans of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar", so this amazing box has taken pride of place in the nursery!

 

Lots of presents! Lots of essentials 🙂

 

Beautiful gifts from The Little White Company.

 

Absolutely adore this super-soft bunny rabbit and elephant rattle from The Little White Company!

MM.

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Christmas Party Woes!

It’s that time of year when there are LOTS of invitations to festive drinks and meals. I’ve had TWO important ‘festive drinks’ and a ‘festive meal’ with external companies through work this week… AND I’ve just got back from my office Christmas Party.

I’ve documented my previous struggles with excuses for not drinking in the below blog posts:

TTC: Excuses for not drinking!
TTC: Excuses for not drinking, PART DEUX.

It’s been a struggle again, but because of my recent trips to the hospital I have just been saying that I’m on strict orders not to drink until my “blood test results come back”. I’m pretty certain that people are not convinced – but I have had quite a lot of sympathy! 🙂

So at tonight’s office Christmas party there was the usual free-flowing booze from the onset. I’m usually the one guzzling the freebie’s and dancing the night away… but things are obviously quite different this year! Upon arrival there were ready-made cocktails, with jugs of the same cocktails ready for people who wanted a refill. I obviously couldn’t drink them so politely asked the barmaid for a ‘soft drink’. To my dismay she REFUSED and said that it was the ready made cocktails for the first hour and ‘custom drinks’ could be prepared thereafter. So I said, “I don’t wish to drink a customised drink, I’d just like a lemonade or a tonic water please?”. I actually could not understand!! To my further dismay, she pulled over her manager, who reiterated to me that there were no additional drinks until after 8pm….and that I could have a glass of water if I was “desperate”. Seriously, how rude?!! Nevermind being pregnant – I could be allergic to alcohol, or alcohol may even be against my religion! (Neither of these are true, but they don’t know that!). Has anyone else had trouble with mardy waiting staff?!

Despite being post-8pm I still struggled throughout the evening to obtain non-alcoholic drinks. The music was so loud that most bar staff thought I was asking for Vodka and Lemonade when I was simply asking for ‘JUST LEMONADE PLEASE!’. By 10pm I was absolutely exhausted and frankly, sick of the people behind the bar so left ready for home! Several colleagues did question whether I was pregnant… Most of whom were pretty much beyond drunk and wouldn’t have remembered my answer the next day anyway. But I did shrug all awkward questions off with “Maybe next year”.

Because of the amount of appointments and phone calls I’ve been making during working hours (and the CONSTANT not drinking anxiety!), I feel that the time has come to tell my boss what is really happening. I’m kind of looking forward to finally getting it off my chest – albeit, I know it’s still really early doors. I’d just hate to have people thinking I’m taking advantage…

Wish me luck!

MM.