Share this page on

orange Status orange (Level 6/10)



Trusted by 22 members
See member statistics

Just had my little boy, so you won't see me around Ciao as much as usual for the next wee while :)

Reviews written

since 20/07/2016


VTech Baby Little Friendlies Sing Along Spinning Wheel 20/10/2017

VTech Baby Little Friendlies Sing Along Spinning Wheel

VTech Baby Little Friendlies Sing Along Spinning Wheel Vtech Little Friendlies Sing Along Spinning Wheel * Price: ranges from £12 to £18 * Manufacturer: Vtech * Batteries or additional parts required: Needs 2 x AAA batteries (included) * Available from: John Lewis, The Range, Studio, Wilko, Smythes, eBay, Amazon * Age range suitable: from 6 to 24 months * Current offers: I can’t find any special offers at the moment, but the best price I can currently find is £12 at John Lewis (although remember that if you buy it online from John Lewis you’ll have to factor in an additional delivery cost) As my son became able to sit up in a highchair, I started looking for a toy that would keep him entertained and occupied while we ate family meals at the table. I was keen to include him in meal times, but knew that just if I just plonked him in the highchair without anything to keep his hands busy, he soon get fed up and cry to be held. We went to a local Smythes toy shop and had a look at the toys made specifically to stick on to the tray of a highchair. There were a lot of similarly designed toys with moving parts, but we thought this one would appeal to our son as it also has flashing light and music. It was a bit more expensive than the options which weren’t battery operated, but a peaceful family meal time is definitely worth paying £12 so we thought we’d buy this one and cross our fingers! First impressions: packaging The Vtech Little Friendlies Sing Along Spinning Wheel toy comes in a blue carboard box with the toy displayed to ...

Do you see your garden as a haven, a labour of love or a chore to keep on top of? 15/03/2017

Problematic neighbours and my garden

Do you see your garden as a haven, a labour of love or a chore to keep on top of? Ciao Café: Current Issue Do you see your garden as a haven, a labour of love, or a chore to keep on top of? When we were looking to move into a slightly larger house or flat, when our daughter was a toddler, we were keen to choose a property which included its own private garden. Up until then, we had been living in flats which usually had a shared garden or drying green out the back, and found that only the ground floors tended to make use of the space. We had visions of using our own private garden for barbecues, and playing outside with our daughter. We ended up buying a ground floor flat with a small private back garden, but it needed a lot of work done on it as it was extremely overgrown and unloved. So it definitely felt like a lot of hard work from the start! There were so many weeds, and I was limited on what products I could use to combat them due to having a little toddler at home, and sometimes looking after my mum's dog. I ended up having to pull up and dig up hundreds of weeds. Frustratingly, they came back almost immediately! The problem was that the shared garden behind us wasn't well looked after, so the weeds from there (mostly dandelions) self seeded and settled in our garden as well. There was also a huge tree overhanging from their side, which put our garden in the shade and left piles of leaves. We don't have access to that garden so could only request that the neighbours look after it better. They haven't, to date, so unless someone green fingered ...

Lego Duplo 10615 My First Tractor 06/03/2017

Lego Duplo 10615 My First Tractor

Lego Duplo 10615 My First Tractor Lego Duplo 10615 My First Tractor Price: RRP £9.99 Available: Argos, Amazon, Smyths Toys, Tesco, Suitable: ages 18 months to 5 years old Offers: Argo currently have this set included in their “two for £15” offer My mum keeps some toys at her house, for when I visit with my daughter (age three). Amongst these toys are a few different sets of Lego Duplo, including the Lego Duplo 10615 My First Tractor. She bought this set for my daughter when she was about 18 months old, as a toy to keep her entertained when we went on holiday. She has played with this almost every time we’ve visited my mum for the past year and a half, so my mum definitely got her money’s worth from this little Duplo set! First Impressions: packaging The Lego Duplo My First Tractor set comes in a simple cardboard box (rather than a plastic storage box, like some other sets). The box clearly shows the bricks and other pieces included in the set, with the food blocks set up on the tractor. The branding and age suitability are also clearly shown. In my opinion, as with other Lego Duplo products, the packaging is appealing and well designed. On opening the box, the bricks were contained in a plastic bag, along with a little booklet of building instructions. So, there wasn’t too much excess packaging, which I was glad about. What’s in the set? This set contains 12 pieces, including: * People: two “junior farmers” who are one girl (red trousers, pink top, and little black bunchies in her hair); and one ...

Littlelamb Washable Bamboo Breast Pads 03/03/2017

Littlelamb Washable Bamboo Breast Pads

Littlelamb Washable Bamboo Breast Pads Littlelamb Washable Bamboo Breast Pads Price: around £12 for 10 pads (5 pairs) Available: cloth nappy shop online, eBay, littlelamb website Suitable: for lactating women Offers: currently priced at £10.95 for 10 on the Cloth Nappy Shop (online) As I’m sitting here, heavily pregnant, and waiting for my new arrival, I’m remember the best and worst products I used when my daughter was a new-born baby, and writing the odd Ciao review when I can muster the energy! I found these Littlelamb washable breast pads a bit of a Godsend; they are so simple, but made a real positive difference, especially in those early days, so I thought I’d share my experience. I volunteer as a breastfeeding peer supporter, so am glad to see products like this included in Ciao and hope this review is informative for breastfeeding mums who need some product advice (as it can be hard to find reliable information). (Please note, Ciao is asking me to rate “pumping action” and "battery life", which this product is obviously not designed to do!) What are breast pads? If you’ve not spent a lot of time around a new-born baby and a breastfeeding mother, you might not have come across breast pads as a product before! They sit in the mother’s bra, in front of her nipple, and absorb any breastmilk which may leak out through the day (or night!). This protects her clothes and keeps them clean, so reduces the laundry pile, which will already be massive with a new baby in the house! There are plenty of brands ...

Visit as a tourist or live as a local: how do you like to spend your time abroad? 24/02/2017

Find the best local haunts, but enjoy it like a tourist!

Visit as a tourist or live as a local: how do you like to spend your time abroad? Ciao Café Current Debate Visit as a tourist or live as a local: how do you like to spend your time abroad? I have always enjoyed travelling and exploring new places, both within the UK and (often much) further afield, and have quite an adventurous spirit. I've been lucky to have travelled and gone on holiday to many different places, even as a little girl, as my parents also enjoyed going away. We would often go at strange times of year so flights were very cheap, then stay somewhere off the beaten track. The way I travel and go on holiday has changed significantly over the last few years as I’m now married with a little one (and currently heavily pregnant to boot), but I think, at least to some degree, we still have retained that adventurous spirit as a family. When on a regular holiday, of between a few days and a couple of weeks, we usually stay somewhere self-catering. This usually gives us a bit more space, independence and freedom to do what we want when we want. In fact, one of my first reviews for Ciao was about our summer holiday to Santander in northern Spain, where we stayed in an excellent Air BnB apartment. We have never stayed in an all-inclusive resort on a family holiday as I don’t think it would be a good fit with the kind of things we like to do, and I like to have the options to eat a wide variety of food when away, so wouldn’t want to be restricted to on-resort restaurants. I mostly like to be in a new culture, while people watching and eating local ...

Sylvanian Families Golden Labrador Baby 23/02/2017

Sylvanian Families Golden Labrador Puppy

Sylvanian Families Golden Labrador Baby Sylvanian Families Golden Labrador Baby Price: RRP £4.99 Available from: Toys r Us, Austins, Amazon Suitable: for ages three to ten years old Offers: none currently My daughter is three years old and really enjoys playing with Sylvanian Families. She has a few different families, and individual babies, including this Golden Labrador Puppy. I have already reviewed other Sylvanian Families products in my Ciao account, which you can find on my page. Packaging As with other Sylvanian Families sets, this Golden Labrador Puppy came in attractive, simple packaging, with a folded up leaflet catalogue underneath the figure. The puppy figure was attached to the packaging by little ties, so I didn’t have to use scissors to remove it. What does it look like? The Golden Labrador Puppy is a particularly cute Syvlanian, in my opinion! It has a creamy-yellow coloured fur, little flat ears, a tan coloured nose, and the classic black eyes. The set I purchased came with a small slide, whereas the one currently available seems to come with a crib and bottle. I have included a bottle in my photos which we got from another set, so you can see the style. The clothes are made of soft fabric, with a white lace trim around the collar. The puppy’s fur is soft and velvety, as you would expect from Sylvanians. Playing with it As I said, my daughter enjoys playing with Sylvanians – there are lots of ways to play with them, from setting up houses, shops or nurseries, to acting out every-day ...

Ikea Ordning Cutlery Stand 17/02/2017

Ikea Ordning Cutlery Stand

Ikea Ordning Cutlery Stand Ikea Ordning Cutlery Stand Price: £1.50 Available from: Ikea (available both online and in-store), and can sometimes be found on Suitable for: a cutlery draining stand for domestic use Offers: none currently (but I’d say it’s already pretty low cost at £1.50!) When we moved into our current flat, I purchased a plate drainer made of metal, to place on the draining board beside the sink. The kitchen sink and draining board are made of stainless steel and have a sleek look to them, so I thought that metal products would look best in the kitchen, and compliment them. I also wanted a metal cutlery stand to use alongside the plate drainer. I had owned plastic cutlery stands and plate drainers before, but found that they quickly got grimy along the bottom and became stained, so looked unhygienic and grubby . I thought a metal cutlery stand would likely be cleaner and would stay looking new for longer than a plastic version. I looked at some options for a cutlerly drainer online, mostly on Amazon, Argos and John Lewis, and some were surprisingly expensive. By chance, the Ordning cutlery stand then caught my eye when we went to Ikea one day to purchase something else. It’s low price certainly appealed, as well as its simple design, so I popped it in the trolley! What does it look like? The Ikea Ordning cutlery stand is a 13.5cm tall metal cylinder, measuring 12cm in diameter. It has medium sized punched draining holes in the bottom of the stand, and a design of ...

Valentine's Day: Do you love it or hate it? 15/02/2017

Just a card is enough for me

Valentine's Day: Do you love it or hate it? Ciao Café Valentine's Day: Do you love it or hate it? Unlike Marmite and Brexit, I think many people fall into the neutral or "meh" category when it comes to Valentine's Day. I don't think this is such a polarising issue. Like lots of people, I don't love nor hate the 14th of February. I think that my ambivalence made me less quick off the mark to write about this fortnight's Ciao Café topic! I like to get a card on Valentine's Day, but don't expect anything more than that. I don't mind if it's a fancy card, homemade, or cutesy. The most important thing for me is to have a meaningful message written inside my Valentine's Day card - that's enough for me. I think it's just as well that I'm not fussed about getting gifts on Valentine's Day as the traditional presents wouldn't be a great fit for me - I'm not a big fan of cut flowers as I prefer (living) plants; I can't use any fancy bubble baths or most make up due to my sensitive skin; I'm pregnant so I can't currently enjoy a glass of something bubbly (beyond soda water!) ; and I rarely wear jewellery as my daughter pulls at it so I worry it will break! I must admit that I wouldn't turn my nose up at a nice box of chocolates, though. This year, I received a simple card in with a lovely message inside from my husband. I was also given a little present from my daughter as they had made heart shaped clay decorations at her play group. It has a colorful paint fingerprint on it, and a hole at the top so I can thread a ...

Hasbro In the Night Garden Ninky Nonk Train Set 14/02/2017

Hasbro In the Night Garden Ninky Nonk Train Set

Hasbro In the Night Garden Ninky Nonk Train Set Hasbro In the Night Garden Ninky Nonk Train Set Price: £10.99 Available from: Argos (currently not in stock on or Tesco Direct) Suitable for: advised for ages 3 and over (although I think this is a little old, personally) Offers: included in the 2 for £15 deal at Argos When my daughter was around a year old, she loved ‘In the Night Garden’ on CBeebies, especially the Upsy Daisy character. At our local play group, we had a toy swap, where we brought toys our children had grown tired of and swapped them with other parents. I found this little Ninky Nonk train and took that home for my daughter to play with. She’s over three years old now, and has long outgrown In the Night Garden, so the time as come to pass this toy on to someone else. What does it look like? The Hasbro Ninky Nonk train has five carts, but it comes in three parts as two of the smaller carts are attached to the bigger ones. If they watch In the Night Garden, your child will no doubt recognise the carts as the ones which Upsy Daisy, Iggle Piggle, the Tombliboos, Makka Pakka and the Pontipines travel in around the garden. The colours and patterns are bright and vibrant, and the whole toy is made from moulded plastic. The parts that clip together are quite small, with a simple hole and clip mechanism. The train has small wheels, so can be pulled along. Playing with it My daughter played with this toy much less than I had expected. She liked the train, but found the clips hard to manage on ... 11/02/2017 for digital photo prints and presents Digital Photo Services and Products Prices: single prints from 5p Services: digital photograph developing, and personalised photographic items Website: Offers: Photobox has regular short-term offers (“flash sales” and special event sales and so on), so sign up to their newsletter to make sure you get the best deal! I have used different services to develop photos, both in-person and online (but mostly online these days). I’ve also used services to produce personalised items using photographs. Photobox offers a range of photographic services, and over the past few years I have used quite a few of them, and have been pleased with the process and end results. What services does Photobox provide? Photobox has quite a diverse range of services and products available, and they seem to be thinking of more items which can be personalised every time I go on the website! Currently, they offer: * Developing digital photos (in a range of sizes and styles, including frames, if desired) * Canvases and posters of photos * Personalised calendars * Greetings cards * Personalised gift items, such as mugs, cushions, keyrings, jigsaw puzzles, and tablet and smart phone cases * Personalised photobooks To date from Photobox, I have purchased: an A4 calendar, an A3 calendar, a personalised photo mug, a personalised photobook, and printed photographs of different sizes. So, while I haven’t purchased all of the range available, I have been pleased with ...

Sylvanian Families - Hamster Family 10/02/2017

Sylvanian Families - Hamster Family

Sylvanian Families - Hamster Family Sylvanian Families Hamster Family Price: RRP £16.99 Available from:, Smyths Toys, The Baby Farm (online shop), and other international online sellers Suitable: recommended for ages three and over Offers: none currently (although as is seems that this set has recently been updated, it might be worth checking if the surplus older sets are being sold off at a lower price) I bought the Sylvanian Families Hamster family second hand from a local online settling site, so the version that I own is not the most updated version. I can see that the design has changed a little, but the general look and feel of the Hamster family remains the same. This was the first Sylvanian Families set I bought for my daughter, and I purposely bought a cheaper, second hand, set in case she didn’t like them, as Sylvanians are quite expensive new off the shelf. Since buying this Hamster family set, my daughter has grown to really enjoy Sylvanians – the animal characters, furniture, accessories, and the Cedar Terrace house. I have already reviewed some of these other Sylvanians toys on Ciao, and you can find them on my page. . Packaging As I bought this Hamster family set second hand, mine came without packaging, but I can see online that this set has the usual attractive packaging I’d expect from Sylvanians. The packaging for families tends to be a box with a clear plastic front, so the figures can easily be seen inside. There is usually a countryside scene printed on to the ...

Philips AVENT digital dual purpose bath and room thermometer 09/02/2017

Philips AVENT digital dual purpose bath and room themometer

Philips AVENT digital dual purpose bath and room thermometer Philips AVENT digital dual purpose bath and room thermometer Price: from £9.99 to £17.99 (seems to fluctuate) Available from:, Toys r Us, Argos, direct from the Phillips Shop online Suitable: for domestic use in the room and the bath Offers: the best price I can find is £10.99 for the pink version (on Amazon) I purchased this dual purpose Philips bath and room thermometer when my daughter was a baby. At the time, we lived in a tenement flat in a very old, draughty building, and I was concerned that the bedroom was often too cold for a new born baby. It appealed to me that the thermometer is dual purpose, so can also be used to measure the temperature of bath water, and I liked the simple design as well. The price seemed reasonable, especially when I compared it with single-function room thermometers. What should I look for on the self? – The packaging I remember that this thermometer came in basic packaging – this was a clear plastic cube-shaped case, with a small information leaflet folded up underneath. The bath and room thermometer was clearly visible when displayed within the packaging. In my opinion, the packaging wasn’t excessive, which is a bug bear of mine. Unfortunately, none of the packaging could be recycled. What does it look like? The Philips AVENT digital dual purpose bath and room thermometer is designed to look a bit like a simple flower, with five round petals, a centre and a stumpy stalk. There are two colour versions of the ...

Sudocrem netdoctor Antiseptic Healing Cream 08/02/2017

Sudocrem Netdoctor Antiseptic Healing Cream

Sudocrem netdoctor Antiseptic Healing Cream Sudocrem Netdoctor Antiseptic Healing Cream Price: RRP £4 for a 250g tub Available from: most supermarkets and chemists Suitable for: nappy rash and other skin complaints (please see below) Offers: none currently When I was pregnant with my daughter, I received lots of free samples through my Bounty and Emma’s Diary packs. The samples included things like herbal tea bags, nappies, and nappy rash cream. In total, I received two or three little tubs and one large tub of Sudocrem. I had used it previously, in a professional capacity, so tried it as a nappy rash barrier cream for my baby, but we didn’t get on well with it. Appearance I think that Sudocrem must be the most instantly recognisable nappy cream on the shelf! Sudocrem comes in a grey tub with a white a red label. There’s a little tag to pull off, round the side of the lid, which then opens to show the cream inside. Its packaging isn’t very attractive, to my eye, but they maybe don’t want to change it as it’s so well-known as it is. The cream is white and thick in texture. What can it be used for? Sudocrem states it is an antiseptic healing cream and can be used for: nappy rash, chilblains, surface wounds, sunburn, minor burns, bed sores, eczema, and acne. I had previous used Sudocrem in a professional capacity, when I worked as a support worker with young people with additional support needs. Some of our service users had very limited mobility, and so needed their skin cared for in special ways to avoid bed ...

Mamia New-Born 07/02/2017

Mamia New-Born Nappies (Aldi)

Mamia New-Born Mamia New-Born Nappies Price: £1.15 for 24 nappies (4.8p per nappy) Available from: exclusive to Aldi Suitable for: newborn, size 1 Offers: keep an eye out for regular ‘Baby Events’ at Aldi for price reductions As I am currently preparing for the arrival of my baby, I have bought some baby toiletries, including nappies. I remember being impressed with Aldi’s new-born nappies with my daughter, and was happy to find that they are still very reasonably priced. I also liked that they are dermatologically tested and hypoallergenic as both me and my daughter have very sensitive skin which is prone to eczema, so there’s a good chance this baby will be the same. What do I look for on the shelf? - Packaging Mamia New-Born nappies come in a plastic packet with a yellow background and an image of a mum cradling a sleeping new-born baby. The size and Aldi branding are clearly displayed on the front. The design is similar to other Aldi nappies, but different from their pull-ups. What do the nappies look and feel like? These nappies look pretty standard (if tiny!), and in terms of their look, they’re very comparable to competitors, and the most popular and expensive brands. The nappies are white, soft to touch, and have a light-coloured design of animal characters on them. The sides have stretchy panels to make it easier to fit them to your new-born baby. I'd say these Aldi Mamia nappies are soft, but probably not quite as soft as the most expensive brands of new-born nappies I ...

Neutradol Gel Odour Destroyer Super Fresh 06/02/2017

Neutradol Gel Odour Destroyer Super Fresh

Neutradol Gel Odour Destroyer Super Fresh Neutradol Gel Odour Destroyer Super Fresh Price: from 89p to £1.75 Available from: Wilko, B&M,, Sainsbury’s, Semichem, Pound Land and other bargain or pound shops Suitable for: room deodoriser for domestic use Offers: The best deal I can find is a 89p price tag at B&M I don’t particularly like the smell from most deodorising room sprays as I find they often mask odours rather than neutralise them. When pregnant (as I am at the moment), I get an enhanced sense of smell, and I have been finding that usual room sprays are making me gag as the perfume was so strong. I saw Neutradol Gel Odour Destroyer Super Fresh on the shelf in our local Semichem shop, and thought it was worth a try. I had never heard of this product before, so I don't know if it doesn't have a big television advertising campaign, or if I've just never paid attention to it before. It appealed to me that, on the packaging, it claims to neutralise odours rather than cover them up, and that it should last for 90 days - this seemed like a pretty good bargain for just £1. What do I look for on the shelf? This Neutradol Gel Odour Destroyer product comes in a small box made of thin cardboard, about the size of a lightbulb box, with a green background and a picture of the product on the front, plus the usual branding on the side. I don't think the design is particularly eye catching, myself. The packaging wasn't excessive and I was able to recycle the cardboard box (so didn't feel I was contributing ...
See more reviews Back to top