Category Archives: Playtime

Join the #BigLittleTentFest15 this Bank Holiday

This August Bank Holiday The Caravan Club  – teaming up with explorer Simon Reeve – will be encouraging parents to stage their own mini festival by camping out in the garden. From a recent survey, The Caravan Club highlight the fact that kids today play indoor much more than previous generations – but also that over 75 per cent of the parents surveyed stated that the main reason for their kids staying indoors is that they (the parents) aren’t able to head outside with them.

The Big Little Tent Festival takes place on the night of the 30thAugust and aims to bring families together by encouraging them to camp out together, become Woodland Trust Nature Detectives, cook together over a campfire (or barbecue) and spend time enjoying each other’s company.  Away from the modern day distractions of tablets, televisions and video games, but with the conveniences of home all close at hand.

Those signing up to the festival experience at www.caravanclub.co.uk/BLTF are able to register for a free Festival Pack that includes wristbands, bunting and activity packs, and enter a prize draw to win a European family camping holiday with The Caravan Club.  Recipes and music festival playlists are also available to download on the website.

Editor’s tip: if you’re planning to toast marshmallows, check out the delicious gourmet range from Cloud Nine.

Love mud? Check out the Fruit Shoot Mini Mudder this Summer

As a Fruit Shoot Mini Mudder, I pledge that:

  • Mini Mudders like getting muddy.
  • Mini Mudders are tough and strong.
  • Mini Mudders always work together.
  • Mini Mudders do not whine. Babies whine.
  • Mini Mudders are up for adventure.
  • Mini Mudders can do anything.

Teaming up with the Tough Mudder guys, Fruit Shoot have created the Mini Mudder obstacle course and it is coming to slimy field near you

Far from jumping Peppa Pig style in the odd puddle, your 6-12 year old kids will find themselves taking on the Tunnel or Terror, a laser maze and Mount Mud.

For more info or to sign up go to www.fruitshoot.com/minimudder

#DadDiary: Scooting for Boys with @microscooters

One of our Dad Reviewers writes about his experience with a range of Microscooters

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#DadDiary: My eldest son is three and we got him a Microscooter back at 18 months when we were in France over Xmas. I spent many a freezing day pulling him up and down ‘les rues’ and ‘dans la foret’ – he was a bit too little and had no patience for it. Then I (‘like a fool’, says my missus) left it outside of our previous flat and it was stolen…

So I was really chuffed at the chance to review not just another Mini microscooter for my eldest son, but also one of the new Mini2Go with my youngest son (who makes up for in energy and enthusiasm what he currently lacks in hair!) – AND – a Flex Air one myself (reliving my boyhood dream).

I’m one of those Dads who is passionate about engineering and the first thing that struck me  about the kids’ scooters is how smoothly they glide. In fact, when (at first) you need to give the lads a push or a pull to get them going, unlike with the cheaper scooters out there which lack any sort of energy efficiency, these are lightweight, have a fluid movement and little resistance; the net result is easy on my back (which already doubles up as a pony most days!)

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Like I said, my eldest really didn’t have any interest the last time we tried to get him scooting. But this time – and with a striking bright orange set of wheels – he couldn’t wait to get himself down the street. Steering wasn’t his forte straight away, so my missus sensibly suggested that we get him a helmet. He also LOVED the fact that the scooter comes with a set of stickers – so immediately covered not only the chassis but also the wheels, himself – and the dog – with them.

My youngest is the sporty one, and tenacious with it. The Mini2Go comes with a removable seat that is robust enough to sit on but doesn’t hinder the movement of the scooting (or in his case, bum shuffling!) at all. It’s a bit like a ‘go faster’ Trunki. It also came with a cuddly monkey that won my son’s heart straight away – it’s almost like Microscooters had met him before they designed this model!

And as for mine, well – I must confess that I do work in the Shoreditch area of East London and have something of a loathing for the bearded, bespectacled hipsters you see accessorizing with ‘grown up’ scooters. But you never see them actually scoot anywhere – they just park them up outside groovy coffee shops.

Now, personally I fancy myself as a bit of a skateboarding legend (in my head) and love the fact that this adult scooter has the look and feel of a skateboard deck and has a reasonable turn of speed to it. The whole thing folds down into something you could either carry or chuck in the back of the car (I’ll admit, it took me a bit of head-scratching to get it unfolded the first time but that’s because it is actually SO simple that a man-brain tends to over think the mechanism! My missus just went ‘oh, does it work like this?’ and the chassis unfolded like a dream…)

Day one I thought I’d have a little try ’round the garden and find my feet a bit. Not likely as straight away the boys were wanting a race… And then another race… By that evening we were whizzing down the street high-five-ing each other.

Later that night I fancied a beer and scooted myself up to the off-licence. It’s a bit of a dilemma actually; do you take the scooter into the shop, leave it outside…? But the guy behind the counter thought it was awesome and so I brought it in, he had a little go… we did the male bonding thing. On the ride back I thought I’d chance a cheeky ollie, but then spied a couple of teenagers riding their scooters completely hands-free… So I left the showing off to them!

Day two we had to go to the in-laws for lunch. It’s quite a long way and we took public transport (to avoid the Sunday drivers that make my blood boil). Normally eldest son will have a moan about the walk to the station at either end of this journey; I end up having him on my shoulders and then it’s Radox in the bath for me that night… But today I suggested we take his scooter on the train – and this went down pretty well. So well that by the time we were at the first station we needed to set down a few ground rules about no scooting on the platform, no scooting on the stairs, no scooting into commuters… You can just hoik the scooter up onto the luggage racks (adult ones too) and I fashioned myself a tow rope (from a bit of rope… creative eh?) thinking he might need a pull up the hill to the grandparents – but instead he scooted himself and chased me with ‘a lasso’ …

Tomorrow I’m dropping my car in to be serviced, so the plan is to take the scooter in the boot and then scoot home from the garage.

I’m a Scooter Boy now.

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(Follow more of this Dad-blogger’s adventures at Wild’s World…)

How to… Get your toddler cycling

If your tot is dragging his heels on the ground but clinging steadfastly to the four-wheeled comfort of the Bugaboo, you might be thinking it’s time to get them some independent wheels.

‘The balance bike is the better option than stabilisers’ say the experts at Evans. ‘Some balance bikes have a short rubber strap that connects the fork to the frame and keeps the handlebars facing forward. This is really useful as it means that steering is also taken out of the equation until your little cyclist is ready and the strap can be removed.The benefit is that balance bikes enable your young rider to learn to scoot along using their feet while getting to grips with the basics of balancing, free from other complications. Take a look at the Pinnacle Tineo for a good example of a balance bike.’

For very young children try the adorable Juno Early Rider Spherovelo: described as

SM Tip: don’t leave wooden frame balance bikes outdoors as they’ll rot in the rain, sounds obvious, I know, but easily done!

Slightly older toddler? Evans say ‘The first golden rule is to ensure that you buy a bike that fits your child properly. It also needs to be suitable for their abilities so try to avoid getting something that they will grow into. The danger of buying something too big for them is that until they get big enough, your child will be attempting to ride a bike that will be too heavy, difficult or dangerous for them to use.The second golden rule is to buy the best children’s bike you can. A good quality bike will last for many years, be light and manoeuvrable and made using decent parts that need don’t need constant attention. You want to get your child a bike they won’t want to stop riding.Children’s bike sizes are referenced by wheel size diameter. We can estimate a suggested wheel size for a child based on age, but it’s best to have them test ride a bike as obviously height will vary. In general, the main difference you find in a larger wheel size is in the longer distance between the saddle and the handlebar, coupled with a longer wheelbase. If the bike is too long, when the child turns the handlebar, you will see they are forced to stretch too far, reducing control.’

Now you have the wheels, how to get them motivated? Bikehub suggests either running alongside the little cyclist or using a stick to support the bike and thus save your back… They also suggest letting the child coast along and then let go – a method they call ‘scoot scoot weeeeee’. Bikehub’s Number One tip: Do. Not. Use. Stabilisers.

The best place to teach them, according to David Dansky from Cycle Training UK, is somewhere with lots of room. ‘Go for a wide, flat expanse of tarmac, rather than grass,’ he says. ‘You might be tempted to use grass because you’re afraid he’ll fall, but grass is much harder to ride on than tarmac…’

Editor’s tip: check out the range of Father and Baby cycle wear from Plain Lazy

Holiday Hotlist: The Stabilo Cappi

Felt tip pens might not be the top of the packing list, granted, but bear with us on this one.

You’re on a flight or a train, the kids have got a table (of sorts) and something to scribble on (ideally not the table) but how long does it take before one of them has dropped their pens, or the lids on the floor and suddenly you find yourself rooting around fellow passengers’ feet and banging your head on the backs of seats or the underside of aforementioned table.

So we’re loving the Stabilo Cappi pens – which come with a little string to attach all the lids to – which makes lost lids or roaming pens a thing of the past.

In a lovely rainbow of colours, this set of pens might double up as a snazzy holiday bracelet too… And Stabilo Cappis are washable (if the darlings decide to scribble on the hotel walls) and safe (if they’re mistaken for Orange Sparklers)

Lovely Little Things: The Bubabloon

Balloon, they break your heart. One minute they are bobbing along, bringing joy to a wide eyed little one – the next they’ve burst and you’ve got tears and a soggy bit of plastic to deal with.

Enter the Bubabloon – a brand new invention set to put the balloon world to rights – and consisting of a reusable fabric outer that transforms a regular balloon into a mighty, unpoppable force.

Available in lots of colour choices and easy to pop in your changing bag for a quick toy fix…

Playtime: The Capital Play Trampoline

If you have a big enough garden, we all know nothing beats a trampoline for tiring the kids out.

Capital Play have made trampoline owners’ lives a little easier, safer and more aesthetically pleasing by creating an In-Ground model, which is designed to be sunk into the lawn; not just preventing falls but apparently also providing a better quality bounce too.

(And we’d say it’s pretty good fun after a grown up dinner party too!)

Starting at £775 for an 8ft trampoline, the kit comes with the frame, mat, springs, safety pads and retaining wall – find out more at http://www.capitalplay.co.uk/