Blog : Little Lilypad Co

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The Little Lilypad is a lifestyle blog mostly written by a mum to two beautiful, cheeky and entertaining daughters. It is sometimes written by the Man on the Pad or by one of our baby bloggers. Occasionally we accept guest posts too. There is frequently talk of shoes and clothing (we love fashion and savvy shopping), chocolate (who doesn't love chocolate) education and swimming (we love this too). It is hopefully helpful, sometimes funny and always honest.

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  1. Despite my best efforts (or not as the case maybe), I don't feel like I have been particularly frugal lately. May was a really expensive month and with the 40 Things To Do in My 40th Year challenges, I know I need to save a little more this month. My plan is to write a post about it each week to make me more accountable, so here goes!

    Free Make Up!

    Make up is expensive, especially if you want the named brands. Emma Bradley very often shares links for free make up samples which are always welcomed, especially when recently my daughter got to try a (very small) sample of MAC lipstick. 

    I also subscribe to Martin Lewis's money saving email and he sent out a link for Max Factor make up last week. If you spent £14, you got a free gift which includes a primer, mascara, kohl pencil and lip gloss. Obviously if you don't need or use any of this stuff it isn't such a great deal but I was running out of lip gloss and primer so was ideal timing for me.

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    Costa Coffee Club

    We seem to spend a lot of time in Costa, whether it is waiting around for one of the girls to finish an after school club or going for a warm drink after swimming, I decided that getting a Costa Coffee Club card was the smart idea. It definitely has been because with my points I have had a few free hot chocolates lately ...... without even doing anything differently!

    Annual delivery pass savings

    I am sure I have probably mentioned this before but as I buy a lot of things online, having annual delivery passes totally makes sense. I use Amazon Prime (it has genuinely got me out of trouble with their next day delivery on more than one occasion) but the big one for me is Next. £20 a year means that you get free delivery every time you shop. So you only have to make 5 orders in the year to make this pay (my husband might say that I do this in one month but we won't mention that). For me it is having the freedom to order clothes / gifts / homeware and look at it at home, without the worry of not liking it and it costing me to order alternatives.I know it probably encourages me to shop more with Next online but I suppose it works for both me as the consumer and them as the brand. Win win!

    Laptop savings

    Buying in advance

    Buying online helps me to seek out the bargains but popping into local stores can also mean you find some great deals. My present cupboard is currently stocked right up and I have got gifts sorted for my daughters friends birthdays right up until the end of August. Finding deals makes me more organised and prepared (which I love) but also helps with the bank balance too!

    Not going out

    Later in the month I have some really exciting days out planned from Ladies Day at the Races and Afternoon Tea at the Ritz (squeal) so this weekend, I am staying put. I am not spending any money and going to eat out of the freezer. No takeaways, no taxis, no spending!

    Wish me luck!!

     

  2. It is half term here in the Midlands and we are lucky enough to have Drayton Manor Park on our doorstep. I used to go here as a child and now as a parent, have previously had fun days out at DMP. We even had our daughters christening reception in the Drayton Manor Hotel, so it is safe to say that we are a little fond of the theme park. 

    Drayton Manor Zoo 

    Once upon a time (and I do mean many many years ago) you could access the zoo without accessing the main theme park but my girls question what was the fun in that?? Fast forward to today, the Drayton Manor Zoo has projects aiming to conserve the biodiversity of the local area and a small proportion of the park entrance ticket, fundraising events and money placed in the wishing well, all go to contribute to the vital conservation work being carried out by their conservation partners.

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    The teens couldn't wait to get on the "thrill" rides whereas the little one was trying to stretch herself so she would be tall enough to join them but I think she will have to wait for another year (thank goodness). There are over 100 rides and attractions on the and not forgetting the famous "Thomasland" on the site in Tamworth, Staffordshire.

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    Even though she wasn't tall enough for the big rides, we still had lots of fun in Thomasland and despite my stomach churning over the rides that spin round and round, she thought it was hilarious. The runaway Troublesome Trucks was her favourite ride in Thomasland, although I was a fan of Cranky's Tower Drop, which I think is actually more exciting than Apocalypse.

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    After the excitement of Crankys Tower Drop we were then in search of adrenalin fuelled rides and we finished our day on the Accelerator. It is a ride that has a minimum height of 1m, so we could all go on together and we were lucky enough to have no queue to wait in. (We are told that this is a particularly popular ride and worth queuing for). Needless to say we all LOVED it and if the park hadn't been closing, I suspect we may have gone on again and again! One thing to note is that while we were waiting for the ride to start, one girl put her foot out of the car and lost her shoe. She was consequently taken off the ride as you can't ride without appropriate footwear, so ALWAYS read and take heed of the safety notices!! 

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    Despite the rain, we had a BRILLIANT day at Drayton Manor Park and here are our top 5 reasons why you should consider going to a theme park in the rain.

    1. More rain means less people. Less people means less queuing. Less queues means more times on the rides and attractions and very happy children.

    2. Children don't actually care whether it is raining. In fact stick on some wellies and they LOVE jumping in the puddles to add to the fun.

    3. It actually costs less money!! If you think that when it is warm and sunny, you need to frequently keep hydrated and there are definitely more requests for ice creams and cooling drinks. We took a drink each in our bag but only stopped once for hot chocolates to shelter from the rain at one point. 

    4. You find yourselves exploring inside attractions more readily than you would when the sun is out. We definitely went to more indoor attractions that we would otherwise might have walked past.

    5. Rainy Day Guarantee - Drayton Manor won’t let the dreary weather put a dampener on your visit to Drayton Manor Park as we offer a rainy day guarantee for all their guests. So if you visit Drayton Manor Park from 28th March – 3rd June 2018 and experience continuous rain for 2 or more hours between 10am – 5pm, their Rainy Day Guarantee will mean that you can return to the park free of charge either within June or September 2018. 

    Remember that it always pays to book tickets in advance as adult tickets are £39 on the day, with children aged 4-11 being £29. A family of four can book in advance for just £80, so definitely worth planning your visit! There are always half term and summer offers too, so don't forget to check out their website to get the best deal.

    Now go and enjoy! 

  3. Conquering my fear of heights has never been a priority. You know with the whole heights and being scared bit. Not something I have ever really pushed myself to do but I set myself a list of things to do, some indulgent and some disgusting (eating Oysters is one) but conquering my fear of heights was number 17 on my list of 40 things to do in my 40th year  Go Ape was the ideal choice for a family day out and a chance to tick something else off my list.

    What Go Ape say about their Wyre Forest course "One of the largest semi-natural woodlands in the UK, Wyre Forest is a haven for wild animals and even wilder adventures. Reaching new heights atop our giant Douglas Firs, you’ll climb, swing and zip your way through the tree tops. Go on a journey through the trees with Tree Top Adventure, 14 metres above the forest floor! Who'll be the surprise Tarzan in your group of mates? Add our Tree Top Junior course to your day out with the kids and you won't be disappointed - hero mum and dads step this way"

    "Hero Mum and Dad" ......... gulp, no pressure then! 

    Go Ape _ Junior

    We went as a family and my husband "kindly" offered to go on the Junior Tree Top course with the 6 year old. The minimum height for this course is 1m but they have to be supervised by an adult. It is no surprise that the safety briefing is thorough (lets be honest, you are dangling through the trees, everyone needs to go through the safety briefing no matter how old you are). It is £18 per person for the Junior Tree Top course which is great value if you compare how much you can spend trying to get an adrenalin rush at a fun fair in the same amount of time. I was so proud that she gave it a go, especially when she isn't always the bravest of characters. The zip wire was a bit intimidating but she did it and was so proud of herself and the certificate she got at the end!

    So if the 6 year old could do it, then surely I could?

    Go Ape - training

    The first "tester" cable didn't look too daunting and helped to get the rhythm of which order to take your clips on and off the wires, so I was feeling pretty confident by the time we started on the main course. They anticipate it will take you about 2 hours to get round the course, so I took a deep breath and climbed (what felt like the wobbliest) ladders to the first platform. Once I was up there the adrenalin kicked in and I was ready to go. 

    Somehow I was the designated adult for two teens (despite them being more confident than me) but I also think that being responsible for their safety actually took my mind off being up to 14 metres in the air.

    Go Ape

    There are parts of the course that give you an easy or more difficult route and whilst I could have chosen the easy route, I figured that I may aswell embrace the whole experience, which included a tarzan swing and crawling on my hands and knees through hanging (aka wobbling) barrels. not to mention 3 zip wires.

    Overall we had a total blast, it is not a walk in the park ...... think more like a challenge in the forest but that is the whole point. It costs £33 for adults which is actually cheaper than most theme parks and way more engaging. You need to be fairly fit and healthy to take on the challenge but you need more determination than deltoids, although I have to admit my body ached the day after our visit. 

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    Here are my top tips for your High Wire Adventure:

    • Wear comfortable clothes ..... those harneses are tight!
    • But don't worry what you look like ...... everyone else looks exactly the same!
    • I managed to get some rope burns on my lower arms (probably from trying to cheat some of the course, but I digress) long sleeves may be useful
    • Make sure you have change for the carpark. Wyre Forest charge £3 for parking
    • Remember that you are attached and ENJOY!

    Go Ape - I did it!

    We were given the chance to go as a family to Go Ape Wyre Forest but there are a staggering 33 locations to choose from all across the country from Aberdeen all the way down to Devon. Now I have conquered the Wyre Forest challenge, I may set my sights on one of the other locations. 

    Consider conquering my fear of heights well and truly crossed off the list. Thank you Go Ape!!

  4. My husband loves his car and as he was a biker for many years, he was never going to be the one with the "family car", so while I like a nice car, it has to work for the family too.

    Automotive technology has evolved rapidly over the years and made our rides safer and more comfortable. The best thing is that you don’t have to buy a modern car to take advantage of the innovative technologies. There are a number of car gadgets in the market today that you can install on any car regardless of the age, make and model. 

    Here are some of the best gadgets to upgrade your old family car:

    1. Heads-up display

    Head-up display, also known as HUD, reduces driver distraction by displaying important information directly in the driver's line of sight. It displays a variety of information including your car’s current speed, speed limit, turn-by-turn navigation, traffic alerts and estimated time of arrival among others.

    This gadget connects wirelessly with a compatible Bluetooth-enabled smartphone. It works by receiving information from your smartphone and projecting it onto a reflective film on your windshield or an attached reflector lens.

    Most HUDs are compatible with vehicles manufactured within the last decade. Therefore, you are sure to find one that works with your old family car.

    2. Seat heaters and massagers

    These gadgets are designed to keep you and your passengers warm and comfortable during a ride. They can be installed on virtually any vehicle and any seat including the driver, passenger, and rear seats.

    Some of the best seat heater and massager kits you may want to try out include the Comfitech car seat massager and 3D Shiatsu seat massage cushion.

    3. Bluetooth stereos

    A Bluetooth stereo allows you to connect your smartphone to your vehicle via Bluetooth. This way you can stream your favourite music from your smartphone. Some Bluetooth stereos have a built-in microphone that allows you to make hands-free calls. (this is a particular favourite of mine, so I can talk freely AND safely).

    If you’re looking to go on a road trip and want your family to stay entertained but don’t want to install a Bluetooth stereo on your car, leasing a car can be a great option. There are several car leasing companies in the UK like Intelligent Car Leasing that have modern cars with Bluetooth stereos.

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    4. Parking sensors 

    Installing parking sensors to your old car is a great way to ease parking pains. These gadgets use either electromagnetic or ultrasonic sensors to detect obstacles while parking. Additionally, they send clear audio warning alerts when an obstacle is detected.

    Parking sensors can be installed on a licence plate frame or into holes drilled into the bumper of your car. Be sure to purchase a parking sensor that’s compatible with your car.

    5. Rearview camera

    A rearview camera is a simple yet important safety feature. It gives you a clear view of everything that’s behind you which helps to reduce rear blind spots accidents. Statistics show that rear blind spots cause about 300 deaths and 18,000 injuries every year in the United States. A study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that back up cameras help to reduce blind spots by about 90%.

    Most rearview cameras are easy to set up and are compatible with old vehicles. Be sure to purchase a camera that is waterproof and has night vision.

    So those are our top tips, would there be anything else you would add?