A guest review by Thomas Sheppard.
As a family, we love cycling. There are some great rides locally for the family, and our girls age 7 and 4 both like to get out on their bikes.
One problem. The 4 year old isn’t quite there yet with riding on two wheels!
Having done some research, we bought one of these. It’s a Trail-Gator Towbar, and it’s designed to attach to the back of an adult bike, then connect to the front of a smaller bike (16-20 inch wheel diameter), holding it in place. And despite a couple of reservations, it works brilliantly, and has meant we can get out and do some longer rides all together.
On receiving the package, I approached the task with all the skills I have developed through years of putting together IKEA furniture – i.e. the ability to follow very simple instructions (mostly) correctly. Unfortunately, the Trail-Gator was a match for these skills! Installation was not in itself difficult, just fiddly, and somewhat frustrating. It took around an hour, and involved a couple of step-back-and-take-a-deep-breath moments.
Once the fittings were in place on both of our bikes, however, the Trail-Gator is a breeze to use. To fit it for a ride, you slide in the end on the adult bike, tighten the easy release screw, then do the same on the child’s bike. The final job is to fit the clip that prevents them steering their front wheel. The front wheel of the child’s bike is raised slightly off the ground, but they can still pedal as normal. All very simple, and easily achieved in less than 3 minutes.
At this point, you simply both hop on and ride away!
The device feels very secure, and it hasn’t given us even a hint of looseness or uncertainty – obviously very important when you are towing the budding Lizzie Deignan on the back!
It’s great for your child getting used to balancing, although you do need to make sure they don’t deliberately lean or wobble it too much as it makes it harder work for the person on the front.
Overall we have found the Trail-Gator to be a lot of fun to pedal around with, enabling us to get out for longer rides as a family. I would definitely recommend it for 3-6 year olds who are still learning to ride confidently on their own.
Let’s get one thing out of the way. The Roccbox is not cheap. At £500 it is a significant investment, and if you are not a massive fan of pizza, clearly not worth it.
I am a massive fan of pizza.
Before buying the Roccbox, we had often made homemade pizza, usually cooking it on a Pizza Stone with the oven set to maximum. This led to pizzas that were OK, but no better. The base was never crisp the whole way to the end, at least not without burning the crust. The issue is heat – to get a really great, bubbly crust, the pizza needs to be cooked at very hot temperatures. Our oven will only hit around 280c, and the large area is not efficient for cooking pizza.
So for the past few months, I’ve been thinking about an alternative.
This search led me to this brilliant video guide, from Serious Eats. The guide was pretty clear that the Uuni 3 and the Roccbox were the best options over here in the UK. Having had a good look online, it seemed that the Roccbox – whilst more expensive – was probably the best option.
When it arrived, the oven came with everything needed to get going, including a pizza peel. I just needed to plug it into a gas cylinder (it does also work with wood), and get started!
Having made some dough from a recipe on the Roccbox website, I waited – rather impatiently – for it to get up to the right heat. After about 20 minutes, the temperature gauge showed 450c (!), and it was ready to go.
Using the peel, I put the first pizza in, and waited. Not long mind you, beacause after around 30 seconds, the pizza was puffing up on the side closest to the flame. Taking it out and rotating the pizza was really simple, and another 30 seconds or so was all it took for the process to be complete.
The real test – how did it taste? Amazing! The crust was puffy, the base was crisp, and the toppings perfectly cooked. The girls both liked the results too, meaning that it will be seeing a lot of use!
The only downside is that the actual pizza cooking part is really not an activity to share with your little chefs – the intense heat means that a misplaced hand when putting the pizza in could lead to a burn. I am confident letting the children use a knife or the hob in a well supervised kitchen, but felt that the Roccbox was just bit too tricky. However, they have so far enjoyed the very important chef duties of making the dough, the pizza sauce and adding toppings to their own pizzas. (A great way for you to sneak in some new flavours for them to try!)
Overall, I highly recommend the Roccbox – great pizza, quicker and fresher than a takeaway! It’s even portable enough that you can pop it in an Ikea bag and take it to the park, the beach or a friend’s house.
Many thanks to our guest blogger – local mum Vicki Stevens – who has written us an honest review of our box of My Expert Midwife goodies. Read on to find out more!
Having a three week old baby I was asked to review the my expert midwife product range. It was lovely to feel spoilt at a time when everything else revolved around this new little person. When the products arrived they were presented in a lovely fabric bag which made it even more exciting. Inside the bag I found No Harm Nipple Balm, Spritz for Bits, Peri Prep Your Bits and Fantastic Skin Elastic. I think the names are really original but it did lead to an ‘interesting’ conversation with my sister-in-law who saw Spritz for Bits in the bathroom!
Recently giving birth meant unfortunately my bits certainly did need spritzing and a bit of TLC! The spray is a great idea and is very refreshing. It contains lavender, tea tree and witch hazel and is a great alternative to balancing in an awkward fashion to use water. I did find though that my bits were too sensitive and at times it was almost stingy. The bottle does say to expect a tingling sensation to show it’s working though and you can apply it to your pad instead. I actually found the best use for the spray was to spray on my swollen feet and ankles.
Any breastfeeding Mum will tell you that a lanolin based ointment is essential to get through those first few weeks when you and your baby are trying to get to know each other and get that milk supply going. I felt apprehensive about switching from the leading brand as quite frankly we hadn’t quite reached comfortable on our breastfeeding journey. I needn’t have worried No Harm Nipple Balm actually massively helped. It has a much softer consistency than it’s competitors which I assume is due to the coconut oil it contains. Unlike its rival it doesn’t need warming up first and, best of all, when I accidentally got it on my clothes it didn’t stain them. I was really impressed with No Harm Nipple Balm and would definitely recommend it to friends.
Fantastic Skin Elastic contains a combination of Vitamin E, grapefruit oil and argan oil. It does feel very oily in consistency and when it first arrived I was worried it would just sit on my skin and I’d be left more oily than a kipper. What I actually found was that it sinks into the skin really well and leaves it feeling really smooth. It smells lovely in a subtle way, whilst I was pregnant and just after I found a lot of smells overpowering but this was just right. Unfortunately it’s not got rid of my stretch marks but being fair I think that would take a miracle!
Peri Prep Your Bits is the only product I haven’t personally used. I wish I’d had it whilst I was pregnant so that I could have used it for perineal massage. I fully intended to do this but was put off by the concept of using vegetable oil as the web advised (I felt like the oil in the kitchen cupboard was winking at me when I went in for a snack!) The oil contains avocado, grapeseed and sweet almond oil and again smells lovely. I think having a dedicated product would have made me much more likely to do perineal massage and their website helpfully shows you how to do it.
Pregnancy and childbirth make some massive changes to your body and it seems My Expert Midwife have come up with some really useful products to as they put it,”help you feel like you again.” The products are slightly pricy but I would certainly recommend them to my friends.
My kids love getting messy in the kitchen, and the usual recipe requests are for buns or biscuits. However, as it’s the Easter holidays I thought we would try something a bit more seasonal and make our own Easter eggs. Luckily I spotted these Melt & Make kits from Choc on Choc and we didn’t have to pretend to suddenly be master chocolatiers! We have had a lolly making kit from Choc on Choc before, so I knew that the chocolate is tasty and the kits work.
Each kit contains plastic moulds for the chocolate, milk chocolate buttons for melting, sweets for decoration, and even a paper chef’s hat. The kit is aimed at children age 6 years and older, and obviously needs a bit of adult supervision when dealing with hot melted chocolate – not least to make sure some of it ends up in the egg moulds, rather than just straight in the tummy! A bit of patience is also required to keep adding layers of chocolate, then chilling for a few minutes in between, but this lamination is worth it to give the finished eggs a satisfying snap.
We had a good time making these eggs together over the course of an afternoon and were pleased with the finished eggs – although they didn’t last long enough to be decorated with the sweets! The moulds can be washed and re-used and there is a discount code included so you can re-order extra chocolate buttons. At £12 I think this is a good value creative activity for kids and big kids too.
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