It’s lovely to receive a message saying ”we really like your blog”.
It’s fab when accompanied by an offer to review products we’ve not come across but know we’ll love as soon as we start browsing the on-line catalogue.
And it’s delightful when the products are toys; beautiful fair trade toys made using traditional handmade techniques. The Traidcraft shop is the perfect place to start for birthday gifts or a little pre-Chirstmas ideas collecting.
We chose a finger puppet set as E is really loving role play at the moment. The finger puppets are beautifully made with padded faces so they’re very much like individual toys in their own right. They’re large on E’s tiny fingers so he favours us wearing them, or most especially Grandad! What he loves most is the boat bag they come in, he’ll happily play for ages putting small objects into it, closing the velcro, opening the velcro, taking things out, putting things in… in that satisfying way only a toddler can. With so many children’s toys relying on lights and sounds to make them interesting it’s so lovely to see such a simple toy like this creating so much pleasure and interactive play. Very handy and space-saving for car journeys too.
We also received a stainless steel panda cup and bowl set – a great option for real-life and make believe breakfasts. If I drank as much tea as E pretends to make for me I’d slosh when I walk and his own china tea cup lost it’s handle when it was dropped recently. This hand painted bowl and cup have received nothing but compliments since we’ve been using them, particularly the bowl which is every day for one snack or another. (the cup is small as you can see but as E’s not a big drinker at breakfast time he looks so proud when he holds it up and says ”Mum I drank it all”.
This is a lovely set for children and after lots of use there’s no sign of the enamel paint wearing (and yes it has been dropped a few times but no harm done). The only down side to a toddler adopting such a lovely panda bowl is that no other tableware will do so if giving it as a gift be sure to warn the parents to never lose sight of it at any time!
We were really impressed with the quality of these Traidcraft products and the range of toys and gifts for children available in the their on-line shop. Browsing the website for gift ideas couldn’t be easier with ready made suggestions for him and her. For those of you who like to get a head start on Christmas shopping there is something for everyone and delivery is free on orders over £50.
Traidcraft is the UK’s leading fair trade organisation. Their mission is to fight poverty through trade, practising and promoting approaches to trade that help poor people in developing countries transform their lives.
Disclosure: I was sent these toys to sample. I was not required to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own.
A friends’ garden, a foragers delight, strewn with walnuts from next doors’ tree.
I find fresh walnuts to be less bitter, softer and have a slightly different taste to shop bought walnuts. Perhaps that’s because I’m cracking and eating them as I go rather than taking the time to cure, crack, soak and store my single carrier bag full of walnuts.
I’d like to say I did something amazing with them but dropping a handful of walnuts into my muesli has been the extent of my creativity!
Since receiving a pair of Baby Bogs from Bear-Foot as our introduction to barefoot shoes E’s worn nothing else ”I love my bog boots Mummy”. Ask him what he likes about them and he might say they’re blue, they have monkeys on them, they’re comfy or he can put them on by himself (all very important factors when you’re two years old). I suspect it’s simply because they have a name and every day sounds like an adventure with a call of ‘‘find your Bogs, it’s time to go”.
E’s first outing in his boots was to a local hotel to meet Nana and Grandad for Sunday lunch. Smart enough for dining out and as cosy as a pair of slippers with their plush Neo-Tech™ insulation lining E quietly played under the table with his cars as we waited for our food. We thought our post lunch stroll in the gardens would be a tame start for Es waterproof boots but were pleased to find the torrential rain of the day before had left the grass suitably soggy.
We couldn’t have foreseen that kicking about in a pile of innocent looking grass cuttings would result in a composty christening of his boots – thankfully Grandad was close enough to catch E before he catapulted face first into the middle of it! Talk about putting his boots through their paces! Two minutes later, cleaned with just a baby wipe, E’s boots merely looked a slightly darker shade of blue and once sponged at home virtually like new again. What a winning combination – 100% waterproof and machine washable for freshening up after really epic adventures.
It’s lovely letting E dash about in his Bogs without worrying whether he’ll trip and fall over (it has been known in conventional plastic wellies which lack the grip and flexibility of the Bogs). E seems to be all the more agile as he walks a tightrope or scrambles like a mountain goat at the playground and I suspect the natural vulcanized rubber sole is just half of the story.
The other half of the story is that barefoot shoes are designed with feeling the ground beneath your feet in mind and with plenty of wriggle room around the toes. When I contacted Phil at Bear-foot about E’s squashed toes he explained
”toddlers keep their heads up more when they are walking barefoot. The feedback they get from the ground means there is less need to look down, which is what puts them off balance and causes them to fall down. Walking barefoot develops the muscles and ligaments of the foot and increases the strength of the foot’s arch therefore, improving awareness of where they are in relation to the space around them and contributes to good posture”.
Toddler feet are triangular shaped with a gap between the big toe and second toe – the result of the natural tendency of the feet to splay when unhindered by poor shoe design. Shoes that do not allow enough wriggle room at the toe end not only change the shape of the foot, potentially causing problems in later life, but also effect movement and stability.
”The big toe is essential for balance and for our forward movement. And by forward motion, we are talking interaction in the proper [kinetic] function of ankles, knees, hips and lower back (and beyond)…So for our children the big toe and it’s natural development is a big deal. The perfect shoe allows the foot to behave exactly as it would if bare”.
Phil has written some really insightful articles for the Bear-Foot website about the benefits beyond the cool of choosing barefoot shoes for children, what happens inside your child’s shoe when there’s not enough room, how to measure your child’s feet, and what criteria to look for with whatever shoes you buy. Phil is an absolute barefoot enthusiast in the very best kind of way which makes the customer service he provides absolutely unbeatable. He says ”quite simply, we are passionate about foot health and development – for our own children and yours too”.
There are currently 6 styles of Baby Bogs in stock at Bear-Foot plus a wide range of shoes for boys and girls. Priced at £35 Baby Bogs can seem expensive compared to Supermarket wellies but as E wears them every day they’re great value for the added comfort and grip they provide and being ready for any adventure, puddles or not. It’s a good job I don’t have a girl as well or these flower stripe Baby Bogs would accidentally be falling into my shopping cart right now!
Disclosure: I was sent the Baby Bogs to sample. I was not required to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own.
City life has many benefits – one of the greatest is having a cathedral on your doorstep. For the last month Gloucester Cathedral has been hosting one of the largest free exhibitions of contemporary sculpture in the UK. Crucible 2 features 100 pieces, created by 61 artists, placed in and around the medieval building. The first Crucible exhibition in 2010, heralded as ”the sculpture exhibitions of the decade”, attracted 130,000 visitors and was everything it claimed to be.
The current Crucible 2 exhibition is simply breathtaking in its scope and for bringing art to life in a tangible way. Where else are you allowed to touch the sculpture and encouraged to let children interact with it in their own unique way (which generally means, without exception, climbing up onto the back of a tortoise, tiger and hippo).
I discover something new each time I go with the pace and direction set by a meandering toddler and I’ve yet to find all 100 exhibits!
Crucible 2 is open until 30th October and if you’ve not visited yet it is a fabulous way to spend a day. It’s heartening to see coach loads of visitors arrive just to see this wonderful exhibition. If you need any more persuading click here for a 2 minute feature on BBC Points West to show you what you could be missing.
© Tiger and Hippo images reproduced from Crucible 2 Facebook page: Siberian Tiger by Rembrandt Bugatti photographed by Steve Russell, courtesy of Gallery Pangolin. Unless by Kenneth Robertson photographed by Crucible 2 team.
I’ve learnt a lot about feet in the last couple of weeks! Namely about childrens toes and how they differ from ours. This latest fact finding was prompted by G noticing that E’s 4th toe on each foot was looking a bit turned in. We came to the sad conclusion that E’s growing feet were not entirely happy inside his correctly sized, but narrow toed shoes. You’d think E might have complained but no toddler toes don’t feel pain in the same way that our stiff bones do. Their toes are so malleable they simply squash into their new position and get on with running and jumping as if nothing had happened. You can imagine how horrified we felt when that penny dropped! Thankfully the squishiness of toddler toes mean they’re easily corrected with lots of barefoot play and buying better suited, wide toed footwear.
And so began my researching into barefoot shoes. I recalled reading an article some years ago when Vibram five finger barefoot shoes exploded onto the market. They seemed a bit odd to me and I wondered how such a thin sole could be protective and durable over rough terrain in typical British rainy weather. According to reviewers it seems 3mm puncture resistant soles wear pretty well while providing good flexibility for hardworking feet. Barefoot shoes for children more specifically are designed with wide toddler toes in mind and make a lot of sense in terms of good footcare for kids. So does giving E the freedom to run and climb and kick about with suitably protected toes so I wanted to see for myself just how they compared to conventional shoes. I fired off a couple of emails to suppliers of Barefoot shoes and was delighted to receive two immediate replies back – both from small family run businesses set up by parents precisely because they care so much about children’s feet.
So this week, with the help of our friend J, a Clarks shoe fitter, we’re trialling a pair of boots from Bear-foot shoes and a couple of pairs of shoes from Happy Little Soles to review and providing some insights into the benefits of barefoot shoes. Excited? Just a bit ….