Family First - Summer 2023

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LadBaby on life hacks, parenting and making people laugh FREE | SUMMER 2023 Building a happier, healthier family lifestyle VIVE LE FRANCE: familyfriendly holidays Summer kids’ fashion Become a garden explorer! Ride the waves Keeping dogs cool

Source of Calcium and Vitamin D for healthy bones*

*Calcium and Vitamin D are needed for normal growth and development of bone in children. A varied and balanced diet is important as part of a healthy lifestyle. Messfreegoodness Perfectforan on-the-gosnack

The sun is finally shining and we are counting down the days and weeks until the summer holidays begin. In this issue, we have lots of warm-weather-related articles to help you make the most out of the summer sun and keep yourselves and your kids safe. This includes key advice from the British Skin Foundation on sunscreen, how to keep dogs cool from Pets4Homes and a hand-picked selection of practical-yet-stylish clothes that will see your kids through from getting messy in the garden to playing in the park and a day at the beach. We also speak with Ollie Locke from the popular TV programme Made in Chelsea about the exciting news that he is expecting twins via a surrogate and the launch of his new children’s book that will bring a touch of magic to your bedtime story.

Wishing you all a happy summer, Georgina


Cover Photographer: Ben McConnachie, Crescent Creative

Executive Editor: Lee Gatland

Art Director: Richard Hejsak

Editor: Georgina Probert

Sales Team: 01959 543 650


184 Main Road, Biggin Hill, Westerham, Kent Tel: 01959 543659

Disclaimer: Family First is published bi-annually (twice per annum) by Seven Star Media Ltd. No part of Family First may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted to any form without permission. Views expressed in the magazine are not necessarily those of Seven Star Media Ltd, and are included to provide advice only. No content is a substitute for professional medical advice. During printing, images may be subject to a 15% variation. © Copyright of content belongs to individual contributors with the magazine copyright belonging to Seven Star Media Ltd. All rights reserved. Please either keep this magazine for future reference, pass it on for somebody else to read, or recycle it.

football, learning to surf and more!

This issue we’re speaking to... husband-andwife social media powerhouse Mark and Roxanne Hoyle of LadBaby We're doing... amazing outdoor experiments with TheDadLab 60 Welcome We're learning about... plants and minibeasts in our gardens with The Wildlife Trusts 128 26 We're going... on familyfriendly holidays to northern France and Wales 86 We're eating... fun food art recipes that kids will love 00 116 FAMILY FIRST M agazine 03 SUMMER 2023 - WELCOME M agazine 100 The wonders of Wales – Visit Pembrokeshire 106 We're all going on a summer holiday 108 What's on this summer SPORT 4 ALL 116 Ride the waves –Surfing England 120 A day to remember – Everton Football Club 124 Quiet Storm –Interview 126 Play on – We Are Girls in Sport GET COOKING 10 We love veggies! –Magic Breakfast 42 Farewell to fussy eating! – RECIPES 48 Make food fun –RECIPES 54 Rise and shine –RECIPES 26 FAMILY FEATURES 06 Give your baby the best start in life 14 Editor’s picks 20 Hard call to make 26 The King and Queen on LOLs – Interview with LadBaby 38 Spring cleaning hacks 56 Best kids' subscription boxes 60 Let's try some outdoor science – The DadLab 'Pests' be gone Pets4Homes Contents 86 76 Keeping dogs cool in summer – Pets4Homes 78 Take time for you 80 Double trouble –Interview with Ollie Locke 84 Here comes the sun 134 Summer style notes – FASHION 136 Put their best foot forward 140 The benefits of modern day boarding GREAT OUTDOORS 112 Everyone is welcome – Girlguiding 128 Become a garden explorer – The Wildlife Trusts 132 We love gardening TRAVEL 86 Vive le France! –Eurocamp 97 Explore Pembrokeshire 80 128 FAMILY FIRST - SUMMER 2023


Baby Brezza Bottle & Breast Milk Warmer


The only warmer on the market with two settings to safely warm breast milk or formula. Uniquely, the warmer uses steam to gently heat to the perfect temperature and unlike traditional warmers, won’t overheat and destroy the proteins in breast milk. (£84 from

Aer+ Buggy


An essential for on the go, the Joolz Aer+ cot variation features the world’s first foldable cot, ideal for newborn onwards. It’s made from 100% recycled fabrics, weighs just 6 kilos and the ability to fold (and unfold) in just one second, one handed. (£658 from

Freestyle Hands Free


Featuring Medela’s iconic researched-based technology, the Freestyle Hands Free in-bra pump adapts to fit each mum’s unique shape, whilst also producing more milk in less time. Simple to use and consisting of just three parts, it is a pump truly designed to support all women, whatever their daily routine may look like. (£299 from

Enrich Sustainable Nursing Bra


Made from a unique buttery soft bonded fabric, Bravado’s latest sustainable offering, the Enrich bra, features a feminine and flattering V-shaped neckline, perfect for everyday wear. ( £38 from

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New Mama Gift Set


This New Mama Gift Set is perfect for the fourth trimester through to those newborn days. Containing three herbal tea blends, specially designed and backed by science, each one supports new mamas with breastfeeding, sleep and relaxation. (£18 from

Flip 4-in-1 Nature & Nurture Convertible Carrier INFANTINO

Boasting four ways to carry, the Flip 4-in-1 Nature & Nurture Convertible Carrier supports in the newborn days with the facing-in positioning, as well as facing-out and back carrying as they grow to toddler years. Made from eco-friendly materials, it is ideal for those leading a greener lifestyle. ( £60 from

Postnatal Supplement Bundle


This Postnatal Supplement

Bundle from Purermama has got new mums' wellness covered. Including Postnatal Collagen, Omega Capsule, Probiotic Capsule and Essence Capsule, they combine the science of superfoods and the essential vitamins such as cholene to support cell repair and recovery after giving birth. (£85 from

Essentials Starter Pack


All the essentials to get ready for your new arrival. Bursting with award-winning hypoallergenic eco nappies, 99% water biodegradable wipes and fragrance-free sacks – the bundle offers gentle yet highly effective plant-based performance to be kind on delicate skin and the planet.

Venus Double Stroller with newborn cocoon ICKLE

Perfect for everyday adventures with two children, the Venus Prime Double Stroller comes with a Newborn Cocoon too, creating a protective lie-flat space for a newborn as well as an older sibling. With a super light chassis, it also includes Newborn Cocoon, 2 footwarmers and raincover. (£399 from



AMoses basket reinvented, the SnüzBaskit is bigger, stronger, and more breathable. The striking design, suitable from birth to six months, is made is responsibly sourced KinderFelt™; a stylish and soft to touch material that gives a contemporary look and is certified free from over 100 harmful substances. (£99.95 from M agazine 00 SUMMER 2023 - FAMILY FEATURE
06 08 05
10 07 09 FAMILY FIRST M agazine 07

Magic Breakfast nutritionist


Annah Herbert-Graham looks at the reasons why breakfast is so important for learning and suggests ideas for the best breakfast foods to kickstart the school day.

We know mornings are regularly described as busy and chaotic by families, yet we often hear that eating a healthy breakfast is vital to supporting our

demanding sports event; it’s no different for brain training. The body breaks down many of the foods we eat into glucose, which is absorbed into cells in order to produce the raw energy our bodies use for everyday mental tasks such as problem-solving, creating, calculating and recalling facts quickly.

If we consider the timing of breakfast and how the body works, it becomes clear why eating in the morning is so important. The word ‘breakfast’ comes from the historical practice of breaking an overnight fast by eating simple, nourishing foods first thing in the morning, before the day’s activities begin.

“Regular meals ensure energy levels don’t dip too low and cause unwanted effects”

Children and adolescents in particular have higher sleep demands due to their developing bodies, which rapidly decreases their overnight energy stores. So, for young people, breaking the overnight fast with energy-producing, nutrient-rich foods really is vital for kickstarting their day.

Children also metabolise glucose faster than adults, so ‘re-fuelling’ with regular meals ensures energy levels don’t dip too low and cause unwanted effects such as tiredness, low mood or attention problems.

“When you’re hungry you get like, stomach pains, moody and grumpy and stuff. And you don’t want that. And some people just start dozing off.” (Year 5, North West, Magic Breakfast partner school pupil)

What are the benefits of breakfast on skills?learning

Evidence shows that students who eat breakfast perform better in their learning environment than those who skip breakfast. A large-scale study by the University of Leeds demonstrated the positive link between regularly eating breakfast and improved academic performance in terms of school grades or test scores. The positive results were emphasised in pupils who were undernourished or from low socioeconomic households, highlighting the important role breakfast served at school can play in supporting the most vulnerable young people.

Breakfast foods to boost brainpower

An ideal breakfast will be balanced and varied; there is no ‘one size fits all’ and variety is important to ensure we consume a range of nutrients from different foods across the week. We can follow this simple equation when preparing a family-friendly breakfast:

Slow-release carbohydrates + protein + fruit/veg + hydration = a balanced, complete and nutritious breakfast

Slow-release carbohydrates include foods such as porridge oats, wholemeal bread

or low-sugar wholegrain cereals. They provide sustained energy and maintain blood sugar levels within a healthy range. Adding a protein food such as milk, yoghurt, eggs, beans or fish will help keep you to feeling fuller for longer and provide essential amino acids for brain cell growth and cognitive development.

are just some of the signs your body needs more water. It is especially important to rehydrate after a night’s sleep and a glass of water or milk alongside breakfast will support this.

How does eating breakfast support mental wellbeing?

One of the main physical factors affecting feelings of wellbeing is our blood glucose level. It is important to maintain the right level of glucose in our blood to achieve the positive effects of feeling calm, focused and alert. If glucose levels go too high or too low, it can make us feel tired, sluggish, dizzy, disoriented and less able to concentrate. These physical reactions can then affect our mood, increasing the risk of feeling anxious or irritable, further affecting our ability to concentrate. In order to maintain the perfect balance, we should aim to eat healthy, balanced meals at regular intervals throughout the day.

Aim to include at least one portion of fruit or vegetables at breakfast to boost fibre intake, which is well known to support digestive health, sustain energy levels and support the production of healthy gut bacteria.

The final piece in building a brainboosting breakfast is hydration. If our fluid levels drop, even slightly, we can start to feel the effects of dehydration. Headaches, fatigue, dizziness and poor concentration

“[Breakfast] helps you get like a positive start to the day, you have some energy in your body, it kind of fuels your mind.”

(Secondary pupil, Yorkshire & the Humber, Magic Breakfast partner school)

To learn more about the work of Magic Breakfast and the benefits of breakfast on young people’s health and wellbeing, head to FAMILY FIRST M agazine 11 SUMMER 2023 - GET COOKING
“Students who eat breakfast perform better in their learning environment than those who skip breakfast”
HIGH FIB NO FICIAL COL RS FLAV RS WAKE UP TO THE MAGIC OF Whole Grain Cereals ® Reg. Trademark of Société des Produits Nestlé S.A. SHREDDIES is a source of iron which contributes to normal energy-yielding metabolism. Multigrain CHEERIOS is a source of calcium which is needed for maintaining normal bones. SHREDDED WHEAT is low in saturated fat. Reducing intakes of saturated fat helps maintain normal blood cholesterol levels. SHREDDIES, Multigrain CHEERIOS and SHREDDED WHEAT are also high in fibre. It’s important to have a varied, balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. More info on

making breakfast Be er Everyday

At Nestl é® Cereals, we make A RANGE OF delicious BREAKFAST cereals!

Including Shreddies®, Cheerios® and Shredded Wheat®, giving everybody the option of a delicious and convenient breakfast choice.

We know families have different palates and preferences – that’s why we offer a wide range of breakfast cereals with different tastes, shapes and textures, for you and your family to enjoy.

Take Shreddies® Cereal for example, which comes in all kinds of scrumptious flavours such as Original, Frosted and Coco!

If Cheerios® little Os is your family’s preference instead, we have plenty of flavour choices within our much-loved Cheerios® range –including our delicious low-sugar variant Cheerios® Vanilla O’s. With 85% whole grain, tasty vanilla flavour and no artificial colours or flavours, Cheerios® Vanilla O’s is a great choice  for families who want to eat a low-sugar, tasty breakfast cereal!

Wwhile simultaneously increasing whole grain across a variety of products in our cereal portfolio, including much-loved family brands – all while ensuring no artificial colours or flavours.

We’ve also made it super easy for parents and guardians to spot which of our cereals have whole grain as the number one ingredient with our signature on-pack green banner . That way, you can be sure you’re purchasing a cereal that contains no less than 8g of whole grain per 30g serving!

wheat, which has been sown and grown on farms across Britain. Shredded Wheat®, can be part of a healthy and balanced breakfast that the whole family can enjoy together. Why not give it a try?




We love brands that care about the environment and Earthy Nail Polish ticks all of our boxes. Made in the UK, their natural nail polishes use a plant-based vegan formula that is also cruelty free. The brand has replaced its single-use plastic caps with sustainable bamboo and offers a Recycle Reuse Programme where empty bottles can be sent back. The spring/summer Earthy Tones Collection includes the perfect neutral shades for all skin tones (we have our eye on Flamingo Pink!). Earthy Tones Collection, £24.95 for a set of four, Earthy Nail Polish,

Snack attack


Our kids snack constantly and it can be a struggle to come up with healthy ideas. Scrapples (apple crisps) fit the bill as they are made from whole wonky fruit. With a choice of three flavours – Plain Apple, Mango and Strawberry – a pack counts as one of your child's five-a-day and they have no added sugar, salt, fat or oil, just whole fruit. Scrapples are school approved, so make the perfect addition to pack lunches. Scrapples Apple Crisps, from £19.49 for a box of 30, scrapples.



Agreat way to encourage your kids to have screen-free time and use their imagination... yes please. Narrated by Lucy creates engaging personalised audio stories for children aged three-to-seven years old. Simply send off your child's name and some key facts about them and Lucy creates a fun-filled story with your child at the centre of the action. Narrated by Lucy, audio stories, from £2; personalised audio stories, from £10,

14 FAMILY FIRST M agazine
Our hand-picked selection of family-friendly items we wouldn't be without this summer


Thoughtfully designed by the experts at Mini First Aid, both the Mini and Large First Aid Kits (115 first aid items) include everything a family needs for common accidents and ailments - all packed up in a handy case. The Mini First Aid Kits contain 74 first aid items which includes bandages, tweezers, wipes and will certainly give mums a peace of mind. Making it the perfect essential to take with you on your next adventure. Mini First Aid Kit, f£12.99; Large First Aid Kit, £26.99, Mini First Aid, minifirstaidshop.

Listen and learn


Create the Future is a fascinating podcast that launched earlier this year with the aim of getting more children to take up science as a route into engineering. From looking at how baking can teach us about engineering skills (did you know that Baked Alaska and space shuttle insulation have a lot in common?), to exploring the smallest cells and the most distant planets, the podcast breaks down barriers between so-called “creative” and “scientific” modes of thinking. Episodes of Create The Future are available across all podcast platforms, podcasts



Make the most of the summer holidays (and no school uniform for weeks!), with M&S's colourful range of summer clothing. From palm tree prints to pineapples, the latest collection is giving us serious holiday vibes. With matching outfit and co-ord options, kids can be comfy and stylish from top to toe this summer. M&S Collection, Butterfly Outfit, £12; Cotton Rich Shirt & T-Shirt Set, £16; Tropicool Top & Bottom Outfit, £20; Holiday T-Shirt, £9,

Amagnetic travel game for hours of fun! It's summertime, people are relaxing in the sun and kids are playing in the sand... but on a busy beach, it’s easy to get lost. Can you help the children find a path to their friends and beach toys without stepping on someone? Suitable from age six years plus, Puzzle Beach is a travel game with 48 challenges, from easy to expert. SmartGames Puzzle Beach, RRP: £9.99, Smart Toys and Games,



Authentic French Recipes since 1936

Steak & Chimmichurrii

Classic Hot Dogs


Pasquier is about happiness, relishing every moment and enjoying quality snacks with friends and family. Make this year one to remember with our clean recipe and tasty treats. Perfect for every occasion and on-the-go for extra convenience.


Pesto & Mozzarella

Chorizo Rocket Rolls

For more information, please visit our website:

Explore our unique recipes using our delicious Brioche Pasquier products that are Free from Preservatives, Artificial Colours & Artificial Flavours.

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HARD CALL TO MAKE, the mobile comparison and switching service, conducted a survey to find out how UK parents choose their child’s first smartphone and offers key advice on purchasing phones for children.

hen's best to give your child a smartphone? Do you wait until they’re in secondary school or until their friends all have one? Knowing when is best is difficult enough without even factoring in the cost associated with smartphone ownership.

A recent study by mobile experts has revealed the trends in how parents are purchasing their children’s first smartphone, how much they’re spending on them and the pressures that led them to purchase one.

Key findings

On average, parents stated that they spend £254 to purchase their child’s first smartphone. Parents aged 34 and under spent the most, paying on average £288 for the first handset, compared to £240 by parents aged 35-44.


Purchasing a second-hand phone or giving children a hand-me-down phone are popular methods of providing their children with a smartphone, with 38% of parents opting for either of these methods. However, purchasing a smartphone via a mobile phone network contract was the method of choice, with over one-third opting for this. Almost a quarter of parents went directly to the brand supplier to purchase a phone outright.

because their child’s friends had a smartphone. More than 27% bought a smartphone to keep their children busy/ entertained and more than a quarter (26%) of respondents purchased a phone for their child because they were using their parents' phones.

Just over a quarter of parents bought their child the smartphone model that they asked for. However, for 45% of parents, the first smartphone purchased for their children was the cheapest model that ticked their requirements. The requirement of Wi-Fi connectivity was the most essential feature for their children’s first smartphone, followed by the ability to make calls, then being able to send text messages, and then use data.

80% found parental controls to be an important feature in their children’s first smartphone.

When is the right time?

Despite the good intentions of parents when purchasing their child’s first smartphone, just over a quarter (26%) regret giving them one, with three in five worrying about their social media use. Children using their smartphones too much was a concern for over half of parents (54%), with the same percentage finding that their children reacted negatively when they took their smartphones away.

Catherine Hiley, Uswitch mobile expert, offers advice for parents purchasing a smartphone for their children. She says: “Choosing a phone contract for your child can feel like a bit of a minefield. First off, you’ll need to decide how much data your child is likely to use. This will help you find a deal that meets your needs.

Calls, texts and data all contribute to the ongoing monthly costs of smartphone ownership. For their child’s mobile phone usage, parents stated that, on average, they’d be happy to spend £14 per month. Older parents aren’t as willing to spend as much as younger parents, with those aged 55+ looking to spend £13p/m compared to £16p/m for those aged 34 and below.

How parents paid for their child’s smartphone usage varied, with 35% being signed up to a 12-, 24- or 36-month contract. Almost a third (32%) opted for a SIM-only plan, paying a monthly fee for a set amount of minutes, texts and data. The method of pay-as-you-go was slightly less popular, with 28% topping up their child’s phone as and when needed.

The study highlights that, on average, parents bought their children their first smartphone when they were nine years old. Being able to keep in touch was the most stated reason why (65%). But 30% had chosen to do so

“By purchasing a phone on contract, you can get a set amount of monthly calls, texts, and data. Alternatively, SIM-only deals offer calls, texts and data without the added cost of a handset, making them a much cheaper option, particularly if you have a second-hand phone you’re no longer using. Some SIM deals are available on a rolling monthly contract, so it’s a good option if you want flexibility. You could also consider a pay-as-you-go-deal that allows for more control. However, it may only be beneficial if you expect phone usage to be minimal, as frequent top-ups can become expensive.

“If you are in the market for your child’s first smartphone and want to keep costs down, consider purchasing a refurbished phone that’s unlocked. You can then get a SIMonly deal from as little as £3.95 a month. And if you sign up for a SIM deal with a 30-day rolling contract, you’ll be able to switch whenever you like.” , is a comparison and switching service. For more information, visit: sim_only_deals/ FAMILY FIRST M agazine 21 SUMMER 2023 - FAMILY FEATURE
“Despite the good intentions of parents when purchasing their child’s first smartphone, just over a quarter regret giving them one”

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26 FAMILY FIRST M agazine
“There was no one online who was like us, just a workingclass family documenting their journey”

QUEEN OF LOL's The King and


What is the hardest thing about being a parent?

Right, on 3,2,1… [Both answer at the same time]: Sleep!

Roxanne: It's cliché, I know. But that first year with a new baby is the hardest, especially with sleep deprivation. Then you eventually get used to it. It doesn't get any easier, but I think you just adapt.

It all started with a six-minute video about a toolbox that was cheaper to buy than a kid's lunchbox. The hilarious video made by dad Mark resonated with so many people around the world that it launched the LadBaby blog into the spotlight, with millions of views on Facebook in just a few days. Now, six years later, Mark Hoyle and his wife Roxanne have become a social-media powerhouse, with 13 million followers across the LadBaby YouTube and social channels where they share parenting life hacks, budget-saving tips and practical jokes, as well as documenting their life with their two boys Phoenix (7) and Kobe (5).

Mark: I would also say the worry that comes with being a parent. Are you doing the right thing? Are you a good parent? The guilt! When you become a parent, that's a hard thing to go through.

Rox: I agree. Those early years are just spent worrying about everything. Why aren’t they sleeping? Are they sleeping too much? Are they eating enough? Should they be on solids? Should they still be on a bottle? You love your baby so much and just want them to be ok.

With five No.1 Christmas singles raising more than £1.3 million for charity and three best-selling children's books under their belts, the husband-and-wife team have just launched a new podcast called Live, Laugh, Love. We catch up with the couple to find out about their parenting highs and lows, why supporting the Trussell Trust is so important to them and the inspiration behind the latest book in the Greg the Sausage Roll series.

“One of the things we always say to the boys is: teamwork is the dreamwork" SUMMER 2023 - FAMILY FEATURE
Georgina Probert has a frank and (very) funny chat with Mark and Roxanne Hoyle, aka the social-media sensation that's LadBaby and LadBabyMum.
FAMILY FIRS T M agazine 27

And what’s the best thing about being parents?

Mark: All that worry and stress is forgotten when you see them do something for the first time. When they take their first step, their first smile or their first word. It’s the same even now our kids are a little bit older. Phoenix came home from school the other day and he got Man of the Match at football. Suddenly all the worries are forgotten because that's such a lovely moment and he wants to share it with you.

Have you found parenting easier as the boys have grown up?

Rox: I wouldn't say it's easier. Different phases bring different challenges.

Mark: We definitely get more sleep than we used to! I think every parent reaches

that great point when you can leave a room for a moment to go to the loo or grab something from the car and you don’t have to worry that they have trashed the house.

Rox: When they're younger, you worry about them hurting themselves physically. As they get older, you worry more about them mentally. Are they okay at school? Are they being bullied? Are they kind to others? That's the shift for me.

Having been through it yourselves, what advice would


Mark: It's one of the hardest things you'll go through as a couple. Going from having a social life, having independence and freedom – all that changes when you have kids.

Rox: The advice I give to people is no matter whether you're going out to work or staying at home with the kids, you've got to be a team and not give each other a hard time. Both roles can be hard, so you’ve got to be kind to each other.

Mark: One of the things we always say to the boys is: teamwork is the dreamwork.


Mark: I think probably to enjoy the moment. Because it's so so hard to enjoy the moment when you're living through something. Even with the kids, I look back at two years ago and I can't believe they were that little and they're so big now (and they're not even that big now!).

Rox: I had this moment a few weeks ago: I used to really get worried about changing the children in changing rooms because they used to scream and cry or make loads of noise. They hated having their nappies changed. Now they're at school, I obviously don't go into baby changing rooms anymore. But I walked past one, saw a mum in there and I could hear the screaming and it made me strangely look back on those times fondly. At the time, I hated it!

you give to parents who are trying to navigate going back to work and bringing up a young
Your lives have changed so much in the past six years, if you could go back in time, what advice would you give to SUMMER 2023 - FAMILY FEATURE FAMILY FIRST M agazine 29
“All that worry and stress is forgotten when you see them do something for the first time”

What inspired you to create LadBaby?

Mark: As well as filming my journey into becoming a dad, at that point there were no other blokes in my life who were going through the same experiences that I was. I was the first one in my friendship group to become a dad and I didn't know what was expected. So I thought, I'll start this blog and I'll try to make some friends going through a similar life experience to me. It genuinely was about just making a few mates online.

Rox: There was no one online who was like us, just a working-class family documenting their journey.

What has been your favourite life hack?

Mark: I think my favourite will always be the toolbox lunchbox. It was the first video we did on LadBaby. We put it on Facebook and it got 1 million views in 12 hours! All I did was put my little boy’s packed lunch into a toolbox because toolboxes were cheaper to buy than lunchboxes for somebody on a budget. And people loved it.

Do you think the life hacks resonate with people more so now that there’s a cost of living crisis?

Mark: I hope that the hacks help people on a budget. They were genuinely done because we were struggling, but we've always tried to do hack videos that are quite light and quite funny because I think that helps people in a different way as well. At the start of the pandemic, we were doing videos to make people laugh because we knew everyone was going through such a hard time. Remember that mad point when no one could get hold of toilet roll? I made videos about where you could get toilet roll from alternative places, like asking for extra napkins when you get fast food or getting the blue roll when filling up the car with petrol. And when there was a national shortage of pasta, I did a video telling everyone that you could go to Ann Summers to get penis-shaped pasta, which then sold out! Apparently, they sold more pasta in that week than they had done for years previously.

“I called the podcast Live, Laugh, Love after one of those signs that all mums have on their wall and just wound Mark up with that” 30 FAMILY FIRST M agazine FAMILY FEATURE - SUMMER 2023

Put them in

the freezer


Why did you decide to focus on food banks when giving to charity?

Mark: One of the things that me and Rox wanted to do very early on with LadBaby was to try and give back wherever we could. And food banks were something that felt very close to our hearts.

Rox: My mum volunteered at food banks. And the reason why we decided to support them was she basically came home from volunteering one day and said to me: “Gosh, there are so many families coming into food banks.” I was quite shocked. I thought food banks were for homeless people. So we decided to donate all of the money from the charity songs to food banks. Food banks shouldn't need to exist in this country. But unfortunately, they do.

Have you enjoyed making the podcast so far? And what has been the reaction from your followers?

Rox: I mean, it's blown us away really. We really enjoy doing it. It's something different for us and a real challenge. Mark wanted me to do the podcast for two years, but we never really had the time. While we share videos online, I think it's been nice for people to be able to learn more about our life and our experiences. It is just nice to have a chat about what has happened that week!

Rox, you got to name the podcast. Can you explain why you chose Live, Laugh, Love?

Rox: I named it just to annoy Mark! I called the podcast Live, Laugh, Love after one of those signs that all mums have on their wall and just wound him up with that. So that made my life and then making the theme tune was a life-long goal of mine to create a song that Mark gets annoyed by [quite a lot of laughter at this point].

Do you think that a big part of your success has been that you tell it like it is and be yourselves?

Rox: So many people come up to us in the street and say: “You’re just like me and my partner”. The thing is with me and Mark is I don't think I've got the energy to be someone else! I mean, can't filter anything. I'm terrible.

Mark: We just try and have fun. And I think what's funny is we've been together for 13 years. But LadBaby has only been around six years. 34 FAMILY FIRST M agazine FAMILY FEATURE - SUMMER 2023
“One of the things that me and Rox wanted to do very early on with LadBaby was to try and give back wherever we could”

We were doing all this way before we started LadBaby. I used to wind Rox up from the very beginning of our relationship. I once bought a giant plastic fly from Asda that I would hide under plates or bowls to make her jump. I used to film videos, just for myself, and then play them back to Rox because it made me laugh.

Rox: Life is so serious and hard sometimes. And me and Mark have always just laughed our way through it together. We were lucky we found each other. And I think it's really lovely that people relate to us. I'm very proud and I'm grateful for everyone who's watched us.

What has been your proudest achievement over the last six years?

Mark: It has been an incredible journey. For me, growing up with dyslexia, I was told I wouldn't be very good at English or any form of academic job. I was told I was rubbish, to be honest. So, going through school was very hard for me. Coming through the other side and having two children's books that are number-one best-sellers, has blown my mind – that's an achievement.

Rox: We are so happy that children love our books and they appeal to so many different people, such as children with autism and dyslexia. I think it's really important because it has given other children hope who do have dyslexia and can see that no matter what you do in life, you can go forward and achieve amazing things.

Mark: And we are so proud of what we've been able to do with the Christmas songs, it is far beyond anything we could ever imagined. We released the first song originally just to try and make people smile and raise a bit of money for a charity we believed in. The fact that we've been able to get a nation behind this five times and support something so important is amazing. Becoming ambassadors for the Trussell Trust was such an emotional day. We're going to always continue to strive hard and work hard to help them wherever we can.

Greg The Sausage Roll: Wish You Were Here is coming out soon. What was your inspiration for this book?

Mark: Rox and I always wanted to do a Christmas book. We both love Christmas, hence why we have released five Christmas songs! So the first book was always going to be about Christmas. And the reason Greg is now going on holiday is because that's what the kids wanted Greg to do.

Rox: We were at Mark's old school for World Book Day and we asked the kids, where do you want Greg to go next? All of them said he needs to go on holiday!

Mark: It was so sweet. They all wanted him to go to the beach and to go swimming. Kids are always so excited about the summer holidays. So we sat down with our boys and asked them what are their favourite things to do on holiday. Phoenix said crazy golf and Kobe said eating ice cream. So we've basically written a book that the kids have asked for.

What's next for LadBaby?

Mark: You know what, we just throw ourselves into any opportunity that comes up. And genuinely, half the things we've done have been where people have messaged us and said: “Hey, you guys should write a song about sausage rolls.” And we've just done it. I think it's about being positive and having fun. Can we make people laugh? Can we be silly doing it? And can it make a difference to people's lives? If the answer is yes then no matter what that is, we'll throw ourselves into it. FAMILY FIRST M agazine 35 SUMMER 2023 - FAMILY FEATURE
Greg the Sausage Roll: Wish You Were Here by Mark and Roxanne Hoyle, illustrated by Gareth Conway, is published by Puffin in hardback and available from 22nd June. Pre-order a copy here: authors/242162/mark-hoyle The LadBaby – Live, Laugh, Love podcast is available on Global Player and all major podcast platforms every week. GREG THE SAUSAGE ROLL


Cleaning household taps

Whether sitting unused for weeks, ageing pipes in the home or simply through poor fitting, taps can become dirty very quickly. Because most household taps are metal, corrosion through extended usage can occur. When cleaning your tap, use warm soapy water and a soft microfibre cloth. Resist the temptation to use a scouring pad, as this will only rub off more metal and potentially cause your tap to rust. Gently wash the grime from the tap using the soft cloth, run the tap and you should notice results within seconds.

Cleaning oven

Cleaning the oven is a task that many of us struggle to do successfully. Finding leftover food, burnt waste and grime means cleaning the oven is something we see as hard work. However, it doesn’t need to be as difficult as you think. If you don’t have your typical oven cleaner to hand, try using your vacuum! This will get rid of any leftover charcoaled bits and crumbs before scrubbing the dirt away. Cleaning the racks in the bath will allow you more space than awkwardly in the sink, however be sure to use a bathtub hair catcher as otherwise large chunks of grime can clog up your drains.

Cleaning grout

As one of the most used – and welltrodden – parts of a home, carpets need to be vacuumed once a week to keep them clean. Ideally, you should also use cleaning sprays on carpets each week. Every three months, you should then think about hiring a carpet-cleaning machine to avoid soaking and damaging the carpet. Don't be afraid to vacuum more often than once a week though; pet owners especially should consider vacuuming more frequently. Our furry friends bring in germs and bacteria from the outside, so consider upping your vacuuming amount.

Cleaning drains

Drains are particularly difficult to clean due to the fact we cannot see what is lurking within. This often leads to them smelling and getting blocked. For a quick drain clean, put a dishwasher tablet over the top of the plug and run boiling water so it dissolves. This should unblock some of the grime and leave it smelling fresh. However, this only works for very small buildups. Try using a store-bought drain unblocker to be rid of any excess grime and get into the rhythm of using the unblocker regularly to avoid future drain issues.

Grout grime is a common tile cleaning issue that leaves many of us stumped when it comes to cleaning. Videos on TikTok have shown us that by using a homemade cleaning solution and a brush, it can come out in seconds. By using baking soda, vinegar, and a small grout brush, you can remove grout grime very quickly.

“If you don't have your typical oven cleaner to hand, try using your vacuum! This will get rid of any leftover crumbs”
From a risk-free way of cleaning drains without using bleach to the best ways to avoid metal scratches when cleaning your taps, Ivan Ivanov of End of Tenancy London provides some handy tips on how to stay ahead with cleaning.
38 FAMILY FIRST M agazine

Simply brush baking soda on the grout itself and make sure it is completely covered. Then spray over the vinegar, brush away and the chemical reaction from the vinegar and baking soda has done the work for you.

Cleaning your air fryer

With household bills increasing by 96% since the winter of 2021, the air fryer kitchen appliance has taken the nation by storm, all thanks to a lower permeal cooking cost. Cooking in the air fryer is simple, but cleaning its many corners and levels can prove challenging to some. Firstly, clean the air fryer after every use. This is important, as grime and wasted food can become baked onto the tray, becoming more and more stuck on over time. Using a soft sponge and some standard household soap, remove the tray from the air fryer (once cooled) and use your finger to gently scrub all available areas. If your finger is too large, or the mess is a bit too stuck on, use an old toothbrush instead! Whatever works best for you, provided you’re cleaning effectively but not pushing so hard as to remove any of the heat-proof coating on the inside of the air fryer tray.

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to fussy eating!

Many will grow out of this phase, but a minority become lifelong fussy eaters. Food likes and dislikes established in childhood can persist into adulthood and, therefore, encouraging children to develop a better relationship with food from an early age will stand them in good stead for adulthood.

Fussy or picky eating is incredibly common in young children. They may lose interest in foods that they once enjoyed, reject anything new or unfamiliar or point-blank refuse to eat certain types of food, most commonly fruits and vegetables.

Recent research commissioned by non-profit Teach Your Monster found that nearly 80% of parents said that they struggle to get their child to eat healthily. For parents of fussy eaters, mealtimes can be particularly challenging and it can feel like a never-ending battle. Two-thirds of parents said that they frequently argue with their child at mealtimes and have to negotiate how much their child will eat. Many found their child’s rejection of homecooked food upsetting.

Handy tip

Build awareness through a ‘guess the name’ activity with real fruit and veg, toy fruit and veg or even with pictures

Dr Lucy Cooke, research psychologist specialising in children’s eating behaviour, explains how a sensory approach to exploring food can benefit children –especially fussy eaters.
“With food prices soaring, reducing waste is a priority for parents”

A quarter admitted that they had given up trying to get their child to try anything new and almost half said they feel like they have wasted food. With food prices soaring, reducing waste is a priority for parents, potentially saving money off the weekly shop.

parent (and now a grandparent), tells me that these concerns and difficulties are common and widespread. It also tells me that there are techniques that can help to make food less of a battle and more of a pleasure.

The sensory experience of food

While parents are extremely keen for their children to be more adventurous and eat a wide variety of meals, the vast majority said they ended up cooking the same meals over and over, with many reporting that their child would turn their nose up at anything new.

Food stimulates the senses and eating is a deeply-rooted sensory experience involving all five senses – sight, sound, touch, smell and taste – all of which contribute to the development of children’s food likes and dislikes. For this reason, offering as much exposure as possible to new and disliked foods via the five senses is highly beneficial. It is important to do this without placing pressure on your child to actually eat the food in the first instance. If you face an element of resistance, remember not to force your child to do any of these activities, but revisit them another time and gradually their willingness to try will increase.

Sensory experience of food: what do I need?

A selection of fruit and vegetables (fresh, tinned, dried, frozen or jarred) Chopping board Knife

Plastic bowls, cups or plates

Half of the parents surveyed felt embarrassed by their child’s diet. Today, processed food is heavily advertised and is relatively cheap and widely available. No wonder so many children exist on a ‘beige’ diet heavy on bland refined carbohydrates and light on fresh fruits and vegetables.

Parents can feel as if everyone else’s children are chomping their way through piles of fruit and vegetables, while theirs will only eat chicken nuggets and potato waffles! My experience as a research psychologist studying children’s eating behaviour for many years, and that of being a

“Avoid excess pressure on children to eat everything on their plate”

Here are some fun sensory activities for children and parents to do together. Join in and share the experience. By engaging all of a child’s senses around food, you will make exploring food enjoyable and exciting.


How a food is presented can influence acceptance of that food. Choose a few fruits and vegetables and present them on a plate in different ways. For instance: whole, sliced, mashed or diced. Talk about the different shapes, colours and patterns and how these aspects change according to preparation method. Talk about the difference in appearance between the inside and outside of a fruit or vegetable.

Some children may not recognise some fruits or vegetables in their uncooked, natural state and many types may be completely new to them. Build awareness through a ‘guess the name’ activity with real fruit and veg, toy fruit and veg or even with pictures!


Fruits and vegetables make sounds when they are chopped or eaten. Encourage children to listen to fruit and vegetables! Bite a pear and then a banana. Ask questions about what they hear. Which one is noisier? What type of sound do they make? Is it a loud, crunchy sound or a soft, sticky sound?

Listen to the sounds food makes when being prepared or cooked –the sound of a carrot being chopped or the sizzle of the roast potatoes as they go into the pan, for example. Ask your child what the sound reminds them of. Is it a nice sound? Is it loud or soft?


The smell of food plays a strong role in the way it tastes, so exploring smells is a useful and stress-free way of discovering new foods

Blindfold your child and give them two fruits or vegetables with contrasting odours to smell. Can they describe the difference between the two aromas? How strong are the smells? Are they spicy or fruity?


Scratch the skin of an orange and see how much fragrance is emitted even without cutting into it. Do they like the smell?


Children assess the texture of food either by touching it with their hands or placing it in their mouth – be prepared for some mess!

Select a small variety of fruits or vegetables with different external textures, such as a potato, a raspberry, a kiwi or some cauliflower. Ask your child whether they think it feels tickly, bubbly, mushy, firm? Are there ridges? Which feels heaviest?

Place some fruit or vegetables under a cloth and ask your child to feel them without looking. Ask your child to describe what they can feel. Can they identify what it is?

Food stimulates the senses and eating is a deeply-rooted sensory experience involving all five senses – sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste


Now, most important of all is the taste. Encourage kids to taste the food, but if that is too much, ask them just to lick it.

Find some fruit and/or veg that fall into different taste categories: bitter, salt, sour, sweet or the savoury umami taste. Ask your child to taste each one and describe the flavour. Does it remind them of anything else?

Offer both raw and cooked versions of the same food, e.g carrot. Do they taste different? Do they prefer the taste of a carrot raw and straight from the fridge or do they prefer it warm and cooked?

Sensory-based resources

There are some useful free resources available to support families with fussy eaters. These focus on the sort of sensory food exploration described above.

The recently launched free game, Teach Your Monster: Adventurous Eating (www., aims to help turn fussy eaters into adventurous eaters. Created for three-to-six-year-olds by non-profit organisation Teach Your Monster, the game exposes children to a rainbow of

more than 40 fruit and vegetables in a fun, tactile and engaging way using all five senses. In the game, children customise their own monster and take it on a sensory journey to explore fruits and vegetables, collecting rewards along the way.

This approach makes trying a broader range of fruit and vegetables seem a little less scary and a lot more exciting for children. Anecdotal reports suggest that some children go on to ask to try the vegetables that their monster has tasted.

they are more likely to follow suit.

Parents can feel tense and anxious when children don’t eat their dinner, but try to avoid showing it. If your child refuses to eat a particular food, accept their decision and offer it again another time. Play a ‘tasting game’ with your child outside of mealtimes. Offer a very small amount of the rejected food every day and reward tasting with a small non-food treat such as a sticker. It can take children between 10-14 tries before they accept a food, but research has repeatedly shown that this technique is highly effective. There are other opportunities outside of mealtimes to get your child more engaged with what they eat. Involve them in choosing what food to have for dinner via a trip to the supermarket or invite them to help out with the dinner preparation or cooking. This helps build knowledge, awareness and understanding of food and nutrition, as well as building essential life skills. It’s also an enjoyable way to expose children to new foods, which in turn may increase their willingness to try them. Again, these activities can be easily tailored to their age and ability. For instance, your child could make a salad for dinner, mix all the ingredients together for a fruit salad or mash the potatoes.

The more familiar a food is to a child, the greater the chance of them eating it. Tasting new foods can make some children extremely anxious and so taking a gentle exploratory approach to unfamiliar foods using all five senses is a great way of increasing a child’s confidence and willingness to actually taste them. Try to bring these techniques to the table, adapting some of the ideas above or creating your own.

Meanwhile, TastEd (www.tasteeducation. com), a charity that aims to revolutionise the way food education is delivered, provides resources for schools as well as parents. There is a range of simple but stimulating sensory-based activities, lessons and videos for parents to use at home to help their child explore food. These exploratory games are tailored according to a child’s age and are perfect for parents to join in too.

Making mealtimes happier

Mealtimes are an important part of the day. Try to keep them as calm and relaxed as you can. Avoid excess pressure on children to eat everything on their plate, as this can make the situation worse for both parents and children. Make dinner time a fun, social affair. Invite friends and family around to eat together as often as possible and talk about what you are eating, as well as catching up on the day’s events. Be a good role model and try to eat a variety of healthy foods yourself. Say how much you like those foods. Children often mimic the behaviour of parents and significant others, and if they see you enjoying a certain type of food,

Focusing on the enjoyment and excitement of food rather than its nutritional benefits is likely to be far more effective in developing a generation of adventurous eaters.

Top mealtime tips:

Get children involved in dinner prep or cooking

Try to keep the atmosphere calm Eat together where possible

Make it a fun, sociable experience

Avoid showing your own food dislikes

Encourage the use of all five senses at the table

Dr Lucy Cooke is a research psychologist specialising in children’s eating behaviour and expert advisor on the non-profit children’s online game Teach Your Monster: Adventurous Eating ( SUMMER 2023 - GET COOKING
“There are techniques that can help to make food less of a battle and more of a pleasure”
FAMILY FIRST M agazine 45

Stir up a world of


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Strawberry Yoghurt Pops

Serves: 6

Chill time: 3hr+

Prep time: 8 minutes

You will also need: An ice lolly mould + sticks


4 tsp Nesquik Strawberry Milkshake Powder

400ml semi skimmed milk

120g plain fat free Greek yoghurt

6 strawberries, quartered



Take 4 level tsp (18g) of Nesquik® and 400ml of cold semi-skimmed milk. Create a paste with some of the milk before adding the remaining milk and giving it a stir.



Add the yoghurt to the Strawberry Nesquik milk and mix until everything is combined.

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CEO of Munchy Play, Sophia Procter, shares two super-easy recipes that you can create with your kids – and that taste as good as they look.

Scouse childfriendly pies

This year belongs to Liverpool, especially as it is host to the Eurovision Song Contest. Paying tribute to this great city, here’s a spin on a classic – with a child-friendly twist. We took inspiration for this recipe from many hacks we’ve seen on Instagram, including @ squashedpickle. ‘Scouse’ is a kind of stew native to Liverpool, which uses chunks of meat, carrots, onion and potato. It was popular in the 19th century with local sailors who enjoyed it on their travels. Our cheat version is super easy to make.


1 x ready-made roll-out puff pastry

1 x chunky thick beef and onion soup

1 x small onion

1 x carrot


1. Grease a muffin tray

2. Cut circles from the pastry and line the tray

3. Add a dollop of thick chunky soup to each pie, along with finely chopped carrot and onion

4. Top with another layer of pastry, slicing it at the top (you can always use mashed potato if preferred)

5. Glaze with milk

6. Pop in the oven for 10 minutes, or until golden

7. Allow to cool down and serve


'Scouse' is a kind of stew native to Liverpool, which uses chunks of meat, carrots, onion and potato


food fun

Ladybird snacks

Jump on board the food art trend and bring fun to meals with this cute ladybird snack. It’s quick to rustle up and perfect as a post-nursery pick-me-up.


2 x Mini Babybel cheese

Chocolate drops

Black olives


Optional – coriander or leaves


1. Using your child’s favourite plate, place some coriander or leaves for decoration

2. Get your Mini Babybel cheese and slice out a triangle, avoiding the string pull

3. Cut a pitted black olive in half and use it for the head. You just need the smallest amount of cheese to make balls for the eyes

4. Use the chocolate drops for spots on the back. Mix it up and have some fun

5. Finally, cut triangles into a carrot baton for a fun effect and serve with salad, crudites or wholemeal toast!


Olives are a great source of gut-friendly fibre and healthy fats SUMMER 2023 - GET COOKING
Designed by mum Sophia Procter to get kids excited about mealtimes, Munchy Play Track Plates are available at
FAMILY FIRST M agazine 49
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Cheese soda bread

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50g strong wholemeal bread flour (or use all strong white wheat bread flour)

7g/1.5 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

5g/1 teaspoon salt

50g grated cheese

250ml buttermilk (or use a half and half mixture of milk and plain yoghurt)


1. Preheat the oven to 220C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

2. Weigh out the flours, bicarbonate of soda, salt and grated cheese into a large bowl.

3. Add in the buttermilk and stir together to form a dough.

4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it into a ball.

5. Coat the ball of dough in flour and place it onto the lined baking tray. Cut a deep cross into the ball of dough.

6. Bake the dough for 20-25 minutes. Check that the bread is baked all the way through. The bread should be a deep golden brown colour all over and sound hollow when tapped underneath.

7. Cool the bread, then slice and enjoy. 54 FAMILY FIRST M agazine GET COOKING - SUMMER 2022
Rhiannon, owner of The Epsom Bakehouse, shares two quick, easy and delicious bread recipes that you can make at home with the help of your kids.

Let’s ba ke!

4. Press out each piece flat, about 0.5cm thick. Coat each side of the flatbread with olive oil.

5. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat. Fry each flatbread for a minute or two on each side.

6. Cook each flatbread until dark brown spots appear on each side and the bread is cooked through.

Top tip

7. Enjoy the flatbreads warm with your meal or with just a little melted butter. Yum!

Twoingredient flatbreads

Rhiannon is the owner of The Epsom Bakehouse (theepsombakehouse., which is based in Surrey. You can join her and learn to bake your own delicious fresh bread at home on one of her relaxed, live online classes. Bake along from the comfort of your kitchen, with plenty of time to ask questions and learn new bread baking tips and recipes. You’ll soon be baking your own bread at home.


100g self-raising wheat flour (or use plain flour plus 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda)

100g plain yoghurt

Olive oil or butter, for frying


1. Weigh out the flour and yoghurt into a bowl.

2. Mix the ingredients together to form a dough.

3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and cut into four or five equal pieces.

These really only need two ingredients, are ready in minutes and are supertasty as well.
Flatbread makes an excellent sandwich because it’s hardy and can hold a lot

subscription boxes Best kids'

From fun crafts to cool gifts and awesome activities, subscription boxes are a great way to entertain the kids and get them excited about what is going to arrive in the post each month. We review four of the best subscription boxes for children of all ages.

Girls & Goals


If you have a daughter, niece or granddaughter who loves football, the monthly Girls & Goals subscription box will be a dream come true. Each box is filled with football-related gifts, goodies, useful kit, tips and tricks. Girls & Goals was set up by mum and daughter, Lowri and Malenna, who discovered a love of football when Malenna started playing for a local girls team. Football gave her a sense of community and they want every girl across the UK to have that same opportunity. Tester Imogen (7) was particularly thrilled with her white and black fluffy football hair clip, football necklace and football photo frame.

ZaZa's Storybox


ZaZa's Storybox is a monthly subscription for babies and toddlers that's designed to get families reading together and encourage a love of books from those early formative years. Each Storybox contains a beautifully curated collection of books and toys. Tester Florence (2) loved the touchy-feely board books and rhyme mitts, which her older sister put on and sang the Finger Family song to her. ZaZa’s Storybox also offers a range of one-off Story Sacks for babies, toddlers and primary school children, ranging from £10-£35. The story sacks allow imaginations to flourish, develop story-telling skills and provide opportunities for open-ended play.


It's Our Planet Too


The monthly tool kits from It's Our Planet Too are full of activities designed to connect children with the planet. What we love about these boxes is that they are 100% sustainable and plastic free. Plus the brand is a social enterprise that gives 50% of its profits back to good causes. Our girls requested the Terrific Tigers Eco Activity Kit. They loved making the tiger door hanger and learning more about where tigers live. The Eco Activity Kits are available to buy as a single purchase and there's at least four hours of activities in each box. We like that you can try one out before committing to a subscription.

Little Crafters Boxes


Lincolnshire-based company Little Crafters Boxes have created ecofriendly STEM craft kits for school-aged children. Founder Radha Borthayre is on a mission to make STEM accessible to all children and she is passionate about learning through play. Each month has a different learning theme that has been thought up by children in the Little Crafters Community. Past themes have included ‘Extraordinary Egyptians’, ‘Wondrous Weather’ and ‘The Victorians and their Inventions’. We received the ‘Remarkable Rainforests’ box and the girls loved creating their own edible terrarium, making and wearing the tribal headpiece (which was very easy to do, but lots of fun) and colouring in the colour change chameleon.



SCIENCE outdoor

With the warm weather nearly upon us, it’s the perfect time to encourage your children to explore and enjoy the great outdoors. Sergei Urban, father of two and creator of TheDadLab, an internet resource packed full of exciting science experiments, has shared with us some of his favourite activities for making outside learning fun.

60 FAMILY FIRST M agazine

The best thing about TheDadLab’s experiments is that they use everyday objects that you already have at home. With no special equipment required, everyone can have a go. From growing your own mould, to flying the best paper aeroplane, there’s plenty here to keep children –and grown-ups – entertained in the sunshine.


Now you’re going to get your hands dirty again. Start by touching one of the things you have labelled, like a family pet.


Now, find the right slice of break and press your hands and fingers gently all over it. Don’t squash or break the bread, it needs to stay soft and spongy.


where they can rest for 3 weeks, such as in a cupboard. Why don’t you try and guess which bread will be the mouldiest?


Three weeks later you can have a look at your bread. There’s no need to take it out of the bag as you can see through it, but if you do take it out, wear gloves and do it in an open area so that you don’t breathe in the mould spores.


We all know that we should wash our hands throughout the day, but does anyone really know how much dirt and bacteria get washed away? This experiment will show you just what is growing on your mucky hands and encourage children to take more care about their personal hygiene.

What you need:

Six slices of white bread

Six sealable plastic bags

Post it notes and pens

Soap Dirty things to touch!

Step by step: STEP 1

Wash your hands well before starting or wear a clean pair of plastic gloves. You don’t want to spoil the experiment by spreading bacteria in the wrong places. Get your bags and bread ready. Label your post it notes and put them in the bags – you can use Sergei’s suggestions or pick your own. Put the untouched slice in the bag and seal it up.

Put the bread slice into the bag with the right label – in this case, it’s the bag labelled pets – and seal it shut.


Repeat with the rest of the slices. Make sure they’re all in the right bags with the right labels. Leave them somewhere


Bacteria, virus and fungi are tiny, microscopic organisms that live all over our world. We can’t see them, but we can see the things that they do. Some of these microbes can make us sick if they get inside our bodies because they grow and spread, just like the mould on the bread.

When you touched the bread, some of the microbes on your hands went onto the bread instead. They used the bread as food to make them grow and reproduce. The more microbes you left on the bread, the more mould grew. The different colours of mould are from different types of microbes. Hopefully, this experiment will show you that washing your hands gets rid of a lot of microbes and is the best way to stop germs getting into your body.

FAMILY FIRST M agazine 61

Fun fact

Science helps children develop key life skills, including an ability to communicate, remain organised and focused, and even form their own opinions based on observation

62 FAMILY FIRST M agazine
- SUMMER 2023


We love it when the sun comes out because it means it’s going to be warm outside. The sun gives us light, but it also gives us heat. In this experiment, we’re going to use that heat, and a little bit of science know-how, to pop some balloons… but how can you pop one balloon inside another without popping the outside balloon too? It’s not magic, it’s all to do with the colours you choose and how well they reflect or absorb the heat from the sun.

What you need:

A black balloon and a clear balloon

A balloon pump or a good pair of lungs

A magnifying glass

A black marker pen

A sunny day

Step by step: STEP 1

Insert your black balloon inside your clear balloon. Pump up the black balloon and tie off the end, then pump a little more air into the clear balloon and tie of its end too.


Wait for the pop!


Use your black marker to colour in a section of the clear balloon. It didn’t pop before, will this make a difference? Use the magnifying glass to focus the sun onto this spot and see what happens.


Take your balloon outside and find a space where you have direct sunlight. Hold your magnifying glass between the sun and the balloons.


Darker colours absorb heat, but lighter colours reflect it. This is why you should wear white in hot countries to stay cool and also why the pavement always feels really hot when the sun has been shining on it. The magnifying glass is shaped so that it focuses the sun’s rays onto one spot, meaning both heat and light becomes more concentrated, therefore hotter and brighter.

When this hot, bright beam hits the clear balloon, it isn’t absorbed by the rubber because it’s a light colour. It passes straight through and hits the black balloon instead. The heat gives the particles in the rubber material a lot of energy and they can now break the bonds that hold them together in the balloon shape. No bonds mean no shape, so when the black balloon absorbs all of the heat and light, the rubber gets too hot and it bursts!



Everyone has had a go at making paper planes, but it’s not always that easy to get them to fly properly, especially for little people. But with this easy-to-use launcher, everyone can watch their paper planes fly smoothly. Why not try some different designs and see which go the furthest?

What you need:

A sheet of A4 paper for the launcher

A large rubber band

A stapler and staples

More A4 sheets for the paper planes

Step by step: STEP 1

Fold your best paper aeroplane. Sergei recommends folding the paper in half lengthways then opening it back out. Fold down each top corner to meet the middle fold, then fold this whole section down. Fold over the top corners again to make a point and fold the plane in half along the middle fold. Fold down a wing on each side and you’re all set!


Now you need to make the launcher. Take another piece of A4 paper and fold it in half lengthways. Fold the sides back on themselves so you end up with a W-shaped fold.


Staple your rubber band to one end of the launcher. It should be fastened just above the central fold.


Slowly open the launcher so that the rubber band pings up. It will hit the back of the plane and propel it forward.


Enjoy watching your paper plane fly!



Pull your rubber band all the way around the outside of your paper launcher. Insert your plane into the middle, between the two folds of paper. The stapled end should be away from you, on the side where the plane sits.

Rubber bands are special because they can change shape. This is because their molecules are elastic, meaning the bonds between them can stretch without breaking. Materials that are elastic always want to return to their original shape, which is why rubber bands snap when you let go of them. When the rubber band hits the paper plane, it gives it a big push forward. This is known as thrust, and it’s the force which makes the plane move. The plane stays up because the air pushes against the underside of the wings as it moves.

If you have enjoyed these experiments, don’t forget to check out the rest of the resources from TheDadLab ( on YouTube ( There are loads of different things to try, all with a science and technology theme. Perfect for sunny days, rainy days and all the days in between.




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curious minds

As parents and educators, we are faced with the responsibility of preparing children to thrive in their future lives. The primary years are a time of rapid development for children, where they begin to think about themselves and the world around them in more complex ways. It is during these years of important developmental change that we have the best opportunity to help children gain critical life skills. Current trends for lifestyle and technology signify that the world is changing at an unprecedented rate. We have already seen the rise of careers that didn’t exist 10 years ago. This begs us to consider, HOW can we possibly prepare children to exist in a world we can’t foresee?

By empowering children to be lifelong learners with transferable skills, they will be able to continue

to adapt to their changing world. Research shows this can best be achieved through open-ended experiences and resources. Open-ended materials mean there is no right or wrong way to play, and children are encouraged to be independent, make decisions and express themselves creatively.

Connetix are the perfect example of an open-ended toy that supports childhood development. They are high-quality, uniquely bevelled magnetic tiles that can adapt to different interests and abilities, allowing children to construct in both 2D and 3D. Founded in 2019 through the combined expertise of Brea and Dave, parents and family friends with backgrounds as an accomplished, Masters certified teacher and a skilled mechanical designer, Connetix bring together STEAM learning and play through

Connetix Tiles looks at how we can encourage children to become confident, creative and resilient learners through open-ended play. 68 FAMILY FIRST M agazine

an open-ended toy that can be enjoyed by children throughout their schooling and beyond. Connetix not only help develop a child’s imagination and creativity, they also grow with the child as their play and learning evolves. For example, a younger child may initially explore the simple colour, shapes and magnetic features of Connetix, then as their experience and knowledge progresses, they begin building 3D shapes and eventually complex structures.

So, let’s consider how Connetix encourage our young people to gain skills and competencies that are imperative for their future lives.

Creativity and imagination

Fostering creativity in children is important for preparing them to be global citizens of a rapidly evolving world. It is integral to encouraging resilience, the ability to focus and act intentionally, as well as allowing children to express themselves and work through different feelings and emotions.

experimenting with cause and effect and gravity by building and destroying tall structures.

Connetix Tiles also provide enriching possibilities to learn about colour, light and translucency - simply place some Connetix on a light-table or by a window and discover the beautiful reflections and refractions created!

In shared play experiences, children are motivated to work on their perseverance and resilience simply by focusing on a task and building together (especially after their creations come tumbling down!) At the same time, children are exploring speech by listening to their peers and adults taking in speech sounds, discovering new vocabulary and appropriate ways to communicate.

Independent play is a vital experience for children and is just as important as participating in shared play. Children who engage in independent play gain perseverance, problem-solving, patience and resilience skills, while enjoying time for peaceful reflection and mindfulness. Access to resources like Connetix allow children in independent play to extend the boundaries of their imagination, engage in deep, uninterrupted thoughts and improve attention span and memory.

Open-ended play with Connetix can encourage imagination and creativity. Connetix magnetic tiles can be used to create limitless structures suited to a range of learning abilities and interests. From simple towers to complex ball runs or artistic creations, imaginations are free to soar with Connetix play!

STEAM Learning

STEAM is an approach to learning that integrates the areas of science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics. Simply by playing with Connetix Tiles, children explore a wide range of STEAM disciplines and skills, often in an integrated way which encourages deeper engagement of these key learning areas.

Connetix play draws upon planning, problem solving and engineering skills, as children navigate designing their very own structures and working out the most effective way to achieve their building ideas. During this play, children will inevitably encounter and explore a range of STEAM concepts and skills - from exploring magnetic force as they try to connect tiles together (i.e two south poles repel each other), to weight and measurement as they investigate creating stable structures, along with

The STEAM learning doesn’t end there! Watch as children explore the numerous opportunities for incidental and intentional mathematical fun including counting, 1:1 correspondence and computation, as well as exploring patterns, symmetry and shapes.

By being able to engage in STEAM learning in hands on child-led Connetix play, children are encouraged to develop skills and knowledge that are not only important for all stages of their learning and everyday lives but are also increasingly in demand in our rapidly changing world.

Social and emotional learning

The development of social-emotional learning in childhood will assist children to confront challenges, not only in these early years but as they develop into young adults and beyond. It encompasses a wide range of skills such as perseverance, resilience, self-esteem and decision-making. These skills can be discovered and harnessed through independent play or in a collaborative environment.

Connetix is a wonderful resource to explore alongside family and friends, it provides opportunities for relationship building and teamwork, whilst simultaneously encouraging development of language skills, concentration and self-esteem.

These are all skills that are not only important to a child’s interpersonal development but will also shape how they experience life. Particularly as they grow older and are faced with greater responsibilities and decision making. It can assist in managing stress, deciding goals and future planning.

Where play and learning connect

Connetix Tiles allow children to use their imagination and creativity to play and build. They encourage the use and development of vital skills at a stage when the trajectory of their learning journey can be positively affected to benefit them for the lives ahead –all through PLAY!

Through appreciating current world trends, considering early-childhood development, and by choosing open-ended resources, such as Connetix Tiles, we can help children develop key skills to equip them for the challenges of the future.

For more information on Connetix Tiles or to enquire about an education discount, please contact or head to FAMILY FIRST M agazine 69 SUMMER 2023 - ADVERTORIAL
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During spring and summer, we may find ourselves going on longer walks with our dogs to soak up the sunshine we have missed for so long. As lovely as this sounds, when we set off on our long dog walks, we should be aware of the pests that lie waiting for our pups amongst the grass and shrubbery.

The main way fleas, in particular, and sometimes ticks, latch onto our furry friends is through contact with other furry mammals. Socialising is a vitally important part of a canine’s life and contact with other animals isn’t something we can, or should, prevent. There are, however, other ways to protect our lovable pooches from these pesky parasites.


Fleas are small insects that measure about 2-4mm in length and are often tricky to spot. Fleas don’t just thrive in long grasses and on other furry creatures, they also can also live for a reasonably long time without a host, meaning that they can even infest your home.


72 FAMILY FI RST M agazine
The main way fleas, in particular, and sometimes ticks, latch onto our furry friends is through contact with other furry mammals
An important part of caring for your pet dog is making sure they are fit, healthy and free from parasites like fleas and ticks. The experts at Pets4Homes offer advice on how to prevent your dog(s) from catching any pests.


To protect your own dogs, you must make them as unappealing as possible for these pesky parasites. To do this, you should talk to your vet about the many flea prevention choices, choose a product that works for you and keep using it. If used on a regular basis, flea collars, shampoos, sprays, tablets or spot-on treatments, applied to the back of the neck, will keep the pests at bay. Never miss dosages and always follow the instructions that come with the preventatives that your vet prescribes.


Fleas can be difficult to spot, as they make it their mission to latch from one furry mammal to the next. In order to catch a glimpse of these critters, it is often easier to spot the flea’s faeces rather than the critter itself. If you find black spots (‘flea dirt’) on your dog’s skin you may be looking at a sign of an infestation. To check this, you should brush the spots onto a clean piece of kitchen roll and add a drop of water. The spots will turn red if they are flea dirt due to the blood present in them. Fleas can also latch onto humans too, and so if you see insect bites on your ankles, it could be a sign of fleas making their way into your house.


While prevention is always better than a cure when it comes to fleas, if you do spot a flea infestation on your furry pal, there are treatment options available. Generally, the best advice on which treatment options to use is given by your vet, but it should be highlighted that not all flea treatments act the same way: some are spot-on treatments, some are shampoos and some are tablets. It is also important to remember that treatments bought over the counter in pet shops or supermarkets are often less effective than those prescribed by the vet, so make sure to check with a professional which treatment is best for your pet, especially if you are unsure of which to choose. You should also make sure to hoover any carpets and wash any soft furnishing around your dog every day during treatment, to make sure that fleas cannot survive elsewhere and hop back onto your pooch.


Unlike fleas, ticks are much larger and easier to spot, but are still rather unpleasant little parasites. Ticks can harm your dog’s health in addition to being a fairly macabre idea. For example, if the body of the tick breaks off while the head stays stuck in your dog’s skin, this can cause infections. Ticks can also transfer diseases like Lyme disease.


Prevention techniques against ticks are much the same as that of fleas and so the advice given above still rings true for these slightly larger pests. Tick prevention may be aided by keeping your dog on a lead and keeping to places with short grass, but these measures are not foolproof and should be used in combination with other, more reliable options! Preventatives range in their effectiveness whether shop-bought or prescribed by the vet. Collars which contain a variety of drugs or simply a repellent or bought from a pet store, spot-on treatments are similar, but are spread onto the skin directly. For those pups that bathe regularly, tablets may be the best preventative measure. Make sure to consult a vet if you are unsure which option is best for your dog.


Even though ticks are easier to spot compared to fleas, they can often be mistaken as the dog’s body parts or hidden by a long or dark coat. A tick on your pet’s skin will generally resemble a small rounded pebble, as once a tick has attached itself to your pet, you will not be able to see their legs or the probe they use to pierce the skin.

Removing ticks

Once you’ve spotted the culprit you must act quickly, but resist the urge to remove it without using the correct equipment and researching how to remove it safely; if not done correctly you can cause the tick to vomit into the wound and potentially allow tick-borne diseases to enter your dog’s system. The best way to remove them is using a specialist tool such as a tick fork or tick twister. You must insert the tick fork under the tick and dislodge it with a twisting motion rather than a straight pull. To ensure that it doesn’t bother your pooch again, dispose of it securely by flushing it down the toilet.

Pets4Homes ( is the UK’s largest online pet marketplace, relied upon by up to 7 million people monthly, and helps rehome over 2,500 animals each day. Founded in 2005 and acquired by Pet Media Group in August 2019, Pets4Homes prioritises responsible practices and works to ensure trust, safety, and convenience for buyers and sellers. Through its focus on safeguarding animal welfare (and ensuring a safe and efficient process for buyers and sellers), Pets4Homes has earned a rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot (with nearly 9,000 reviews and counting!).

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cool down. This is why you should never leave a dog alone in a hot car, and if you are in the car with your dog, make sure to use reflectors in adjacent windows so that they can keep cool. Flat-faced breeds, such as pugs or French bulldogs, are particularly vulnerable to heatstroke, so it is important to keep these breeds out of the sun, keep them hydrated and offer them plenty of rest time on walks.

Watching out for the signs of heatstroke can help you to find medical attention for your dog as soon as possible when they need it. Common signs of heat stroke, which are especially important to notice in hot weather, include:

Panting excessively Gasping for air, which often includes tilting the head back

Summer time provides the opportunity to enjoy a lot more outdoors time with the family pet for dog owners, which makes it a fun season for kids and canines alike. However, when out and about with your dog in the summer months, it is important to keep an eye on their temperature to make sure they are not feeling under the weather.

Dogs do not sweat like humans do and panting can only help them to lose so much heat. This makes dogs more susceptible to weather-related conditions like heatstroke. The warm weather can also just be generally uncomfortable for dogs, so owners should know the signs that their pooch is overheating and be aware of a few methods that can help to cool them down.

When to walk your dog

One easy step you can take to make sure your dog stays as comfortable as possible during summer is to choose the times of day you go for walks carefully. Walking in the middle of the day puts dogs at risk of overheating, and on hotter days the pavement may scald their paws, which have roughly the same sensitivity as a human thumb. Instead, try to go for walks early in the morning and later in the evening, so that the temperature is more manageable for your four-legged friend. If you are out walking with your dog on a warm day, make sure to give them the chance to rest in the shade often if they want to and bring along a portable water bowl so that they can stay hydrated along the way.


Heatstroke can be very dangerous for dogs and overheating can even be fatal if they are not able to

The tongue, ears or gums turning bright red Weakness when walking Dizziness Confusion Thickened saliva Diarrhoea Vomiting

How to cool off

There are a number of different ways that owners can help dogs cool off. Some of them are very similar to the techniques that humans use! Setting up a paddling pool allows dogs to go for a dip to cool down, while also offering the chance to have fun splashing about in the sun. You can also create lollipops for dogs by freezing a weak gravy mix, which will help them to beat the heat while whetting their appetite. You can also use specialist products, such as cooling mats and cooling jackets, which are designed to direct heat away from dogs’ bodies. If you don’t have any of these, then a cool, damp towel can make a good homemade alternative.

Pets4Homes (pets4homes. is the UK’s largest online pet marketplace, relied upon by up to 7 million people monthly, and helps rehome over 2,500 animals each day. Founded in 2005 and acquired by Pet Media Group in August 2019, Pets4Homes prioritises responsible practices and works to ensure trust, safety, and convenience for buyers and sellers. Through its focus on safeguarding animal welfare (and ensuring a safe and efficient process for buyers and sellers), Pets4Homes has earned a rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot (with nearly 9,000 reviews and counting!).

76 FAMILY FIRST M agazine
While we may enjoy the hot summer sun, it can be a very different story for our pet dogs. The experts at Pets4Homes (pets4homes., the UK’s largest pet rehoming site, offer advice on how to keep our canine companions cool and comfortable this summer.


ever leave a dog alone in a hot car, and if you are in the car with your dog, make sure to use reflectors in adjacent windows so that they can keep cool


Take time for you

online session.

In the morning, 30 minutes of yoga can increase blood flow and gently warm up muscles, easing any aches and helping your body feel awakened and prepared for the day ahead.

When the day is done, the meditative nature of some poses and exercises can also help prepare your mind and body for sleep. Focus on sitting or lying down poses, as well as slow breathing exercises. Dim the lights and put on your pyjamas, so you can slip straight into bed afterwards.

Walking or jogging

There’s a tendency to see self-care as more of a buzzword than an effective way to improve your wellbeing. But its benefits shouldn’t be underestimated. Self-care can reduce stress, help you sleep better, improve your coping skills and lift your mood.

By its nature, self-care is broad and can look different for everyone. For example, the repetitive motions of knitting can be as relaxing for some as it is frustrating for others. Nevertheless, at its core, self-care is about showing care for both your body and your brain, which helps to regulate your nervous system. But what nearly everyone can relate to is that one of the most difficult things is finding the time in the day to do it.

Before beginning, it’s worth mentioning that these steps are designed to help, but should not be used in place of seeing a healthcare professional. If you are struggling, please seek help.


Yoga at home

While scientific research into the benefits of yoga is ongoing, it’s clear that this centuries-old practice can improve your physical and mental health. This makes it a perfect addition to your self-care routine, especially if you stay at home and follow an


Weather permitting, taking a stroll or jogging around the block before or after work is a great way to grab 30 minutes of self-care in your day. Exposure to sunlight helps to stimulate the production of serotonin, one of the four ‘happy’ chemicals that can help to lift your mood and help you feel energised.

Walking also increases blood flow and blood

Being a parent is hard work and making time for ourselves can often be tricky. Richard Holmes, director of wellbeing at private medical cover provider Westfield Health, suggests six self-care activities you can do in 30 minutes or less. 78 FAMILY FIRST M agazine FAMILY FEATURE - SUMMER 2023
Didknow?you 30 minutes of yoga can increase blood flow and gently warm up muscles

circulation, which, like other forms of physical exercise, releases endorphins – another one of the brain’s happy chemicals. Over time, a brief but brisk walk in the morning can build your endurance and help you to feel more alert and ready for the day. After work, a walk can also help to disconnect your mind from the day and prepare you for relaxing in the evening.

Make yourself a hot drink – and take time to enjoy it

It’s tempting to gulp down tea and coffee, but having a hot drink in your hand is a good opportunity just to sit and enjoy it. This idea is taken from the principles of hygge – the Danish concept of cosiness – which can also be seen as a form of self-care.

The hot drink itself can be soothing, while the quiet time can help you clear your mind and focus on the present. When doing this, it can be best to stick to low or caffeine-free drinks, especially in the evening. Caffeine is a well-known stimulant that increases activity in your nervous system. While this can help you feel more alert, it can also increase tension and anxiety and make it more difficult to fall asleep.

Writing in a journal

There are several ways to journal, from a straightforward diary to a fully illustrated bullet journal. Whatever method you choose, 30 minutes or less each day can help to reduce stress, provide relief from anxious thoughts, as well as help you process emotions. By putting your thoughts to paper (or a document on your computer), you are releasing pressure on your mind. At the beginning of your day, writing down your daily tasks can help to organise your thoughts. Alternatively, using your journal for writing down positive thoughts and affirmations can give you something positive to look back on throughout the day.


When you don’t have time to book in with a professional or a visit to the spa, self-

massage at home is a great thing to do in 30 minutes or less of self-care. It helps to relax your muscles and, in some cases, can provide relief from mild pain.

Tools are available to buy that can assist with massage, otherwise making small circles with your thumbs over areas that feel tense or sore is a good method. Focus on common areas that hold tension, including your neck, shoulders and lower back. Try giving yourself a foot rub and you might be surprised how tense they are. Or you could take a little more time than usual to moisturise – try giving yourself a home facial, concentrating on easing tension across your forehead, temples and jaw.

Make a healthy snack

Maintaining a balanced diet has a multitude of health benefits.

According to the NHS, this can include a stronger immune system, improved heart health, along with stronger teeth and bones.

Eating a balanced diet can help to make you feel more awake and alert for your day and provides the energy and nutrients you need to stay active. It can also help to regulate your mood by maintaining sugar levels in your body. For your 30 minutes of self-care, try making a healthy snack and take some time to truly savour the flavours and textures. You might even try making overnight oats to enjoy the next morning.

Finding time for self-care can be difficult, but the benefits are well worth the effort. This list has focused on things you can do by yourself, but it’s also a good idea to share them with others. Inviting a friend along for your walk or catching up over a cup of tea can also be beneficial to your mental health.

While this article has focused on things you can easily add to your day, you should also think about longer-term life changes. It could be that you begin to make changes to your diet, like lowering the amount of caffeine or you could find a new hobby to dive into. Try identifying the things that cause you stress and take steps to deal with them.

Sources what-hygge wellness-and-prevention/9-benefits-ofyoga#:~:text=According%20to%20the%20 National%20Institutes,weight%20loss%20and%20 quality%20sleep. FAMILY FIRST M agazine 79 SUMMER 2023 - FAMILY FEATURE
3 4 5 6
“We always dreamt of having two children... so to hear we had twins expected, we were ecstatic beyond compare”


Star of the popular Channel 4 TV show, Made in Chelsea, Ollie Locke chats with Georgina Probert about the trials of surrogacy and IVF, buying all the baby clothes and his new book that he hopes will bring a touch of magic to children’s bedtimes.

It has been a long and difficult journey for you and your husband Gareth becoming parents, how did it feel when you found out you are not only expecting, but twins?

This is our fourth round of IVF and so it has certainly been a difficult journey. We always dreamt of having two children and the thought of going through more rounds of IVF was terrifying, so to hear we had twins expected, we were ecstatic beyond compare.

Some parents are desperate to know the sex of their unborn baby/babies, while others like the surprise at the birth. Do you plan to find out the sex of the babies before they are born?

Myself and Gareth have very similar feelings about most things, which helps life no end. And luckily we

both shared the desire to know the sex of the babies as soon as we could! We need to paint the nursery and buy some wonderful toys. As soon as we could we found out and with the touch of some magic, very happily we found out we are having both a boy and a girl.

Have you started


baby clothes or will you wait until your surrogate is closer to her due date?

My husband’s job is running fashion companies, so the children already have more clothes than we do! They are going to look like they both walked off boats in the Hamptons! I feel that after some losses you have to take every day as a blessing and taking little bits of joy wherever you can keeps your mind away from negativity. For us, creating a wonderful wardrobe and buying beautiful pieces makes us feel that we are taking steps closer every day. This brings us daily little bits of happiness for what is to come. FAMILY FIRST M agazine 81 SUMMER 2023 - FAMILY FEATURE

What advice would you give to other same-sex couples who are thinking about starting a family and are looking into using a surrogate?

Speak to as many people as you can that have been through it and find out your options, at home and abroad. This does not need to cost lots of money. Anyone who has gone through this journey knows how hard it is and the community around IVF for samesex couples will always be on hand to help anyone out that needs help, guidance and, through my experience, a large glass of wine!

Is there anything that you wish you had been told before you both embarked on the journey to become parents?

How important is it to see the egg donor’s face. In the UK you are forbidden to see the

face of the egg donor, you purely choose through vital statistics and genetics. We have spent tens of thousands travelling around the world choosing egg donors by how we want our genetics to match and how we both felt would be the perfect specification for them to look like both of us, with no luck of a viable pregnancy. After having to choose a UK agency, we have now not seen what our egg donor looks like and never will, it’s a rule that NEEDS to be reviewed for basic equality. But for now, we have never felt luckier to have those babies nearly here, with or without knowing the biological mother’s face. With these current governmental laws that classify men having children as a “‘luxury”, we have been made to feel that beggars can’t be choosers. However, we have realised that our wish to have a child who is brought into a kind and loving family is more important than the battle presently.

Have you connected with other couples going through the same experience as you over the past three years? If yes, has that helped you both when times have been tough?

Our great friends Jake and Hannah Graf have been so supportive and we feel like we couldn’t have done this without them. They took us through all the steps and gave us the initial knowledge and continued guidance to find our way. Also, the support from the community online has been just invaluable. A community that stands by everyone, as individuals going through the same thing, all wishing each other the very best of ‘Baby Dust’ (you would often hear) without any other want but for us all to become parents.

Have you had support from your Made in Chelsea friends and cast members who are parents?

I have always been super lucky to have some wonderful friends around me both on the show and off. My best friend Binky Felstead has just given birth to her third child, so luckily she is a huge help and my darling friend Tabitha Willet has been just an instrumental source of help and kindness throughout it all.

Many people find writing

Have you found that writing the Henry Bogget series has helped you while you have been going through

“The children already have more clothes than we do!”
quality uncle time with Ollie's niece Alice Gareth (above) and Ollie (right) enjoying

the disappointment of failed IVF attempts and miscarriage?

The idea that one day I can read my own books to my own children is something quite magical and was always in the back of my mind when creating the character. As a child I wanted to find magic, I wanted adventures and spending summers in Cornwall it was full of both. I wanted to make a bedtime story that could inspire magic in children and parents alike sharing a magical story before they fall into their own dream world.

What inspired you to write about the hidden magic of London in the first instalment of The Faraway Adventures of Henry Bogget?

I imagine any story that grabbed my attention as a child was a faraway adventure, away from school, away from home and into the magical world somewhere, but always knowing you’ll end up safe at home. Peter Pan was always my favourite, every time I hear ‘second star to the right and straight on till morning’ I find it just enchantingly magical, a masterpiece of children’s fantasy literature.

Are you excited to read your books to your own children one day?

I have many wishes in life and many things to be proud of. This day will be my Magnum opus of pride, bringing adventures to my children without them knowing daddy wrote them – that for me is real magic!

The Faraway Adventures of Henry Bogget: Henry and The Great White Whale by Ollie Locke, RRP £7.99, ISBN: 9781803781266, published by Cranthorpe Millner, available from Waterstones ( F AMILY FIRST M agazine 83 SUM MER 2023 - FAMILY FEATURE



Dr Rachel Abbott,


When choosing sunscreen for your child, opt for a high factor SPF 50 with a 5-star UVA rating. It’s important not to solely rely on sunscreen and ensure that children are in the shade and covered with loose clothing and a legionnaire style hat, especially between 11am-3pm when the UV rays are strongest. Sunscreen is best avoided until they are over six months old. As sunscreen can be sweated or rubbed off, make sure you’re reapplying every hour or more – especially if your child has been playing in water.

Common Q&A’s

Q: What is the difference between adult and child sunscreens?

A: Generally, sunscreens that are marketed for children tend to be a high factor (SPF 50) and fragrance-free to reduce the number of potential allergens in the sunscreen.

Q: Should I put sunscreen on my baby?

A: Babies have very sensitive skin (both to the sun and potential allergens in sunscreen). Keeping them out of direct sunlight, particularly between 11am-3pm, keeping them in the shade and covered with a legionnaire style hat/ clothing/light blanket is best until they can move by themselves.

Q: How much sunscreen should I put on my child?

A: It depends on the size of the child and the extent of the areas being covered. The general

message is to use shade, hats and clothing. Sunscreen should be a last resort for areas that are difficult to cover e.g. face and hands – the more the better or realistically as much as the child will allow. This is because studies have shown that we don’t apply enough sunscreen and also that it is often rubbed and sweated off.

Q: Should I put once a day sunscreen on my child before school?

A: Unfortunately, sunscreen reduces in effectiveness over time and so applying it before school (around 8am) means that it is unlikely to be very effective around the middle of the day (12pm) when the UV index is highest. Either send sunscreen in with your child – because learning when and how to apply sunscreen is a useful life skill – or speak to your school about supplying sunscreen. There are several national school programmes that support sun safety at school.

Q: Which sunscreens are best for children with sensitive skin conditions such as eczema?

A: Sunscreen with a short ingredient list, fragrance-free or described as ‘hypoallergenic’ would be a good place to start. No one sunscreen will be suitable for everybody and so you might want to consider testing any new sunscreen on a small patch of skin first; for example, on the inner elbow before using it on the face.

For more information on sun safety, visit the British Skin Foundation website:

“Make sure you’re reapplying sunscreen every hour or more” FAMILY FIRST M agazine 85 SUMMER 2023 - FAMILY FEATURE
While we all love a bit of sunshine, it is important to keep our skin protected from its UV rays.
and British Skin Foundation spokesperson, explains how we can help keep our children safe in the sun this summer.

VIVELe France

Georgina Probert, her husband and two daughters, Imogen (7) and Florence (3), spent a week of sun, (and showers), sea and adventure at the Eurocamp holiday parc in Brittany, northern France. 86 FAMILY FIRST M agazine TRAVEL - SUMMER 2023 Fort National , St Malo © Boris Stroujko

We have always loved the idea of travelling around Europe in the car with a tent in the boot, driving from campsite to campsite. But when you have young children, the reality of being nomads and staying in a tent can be tough – from midnight trips to the toilet block to (very) early morning wake-ups when the sun rises.

While our daughters love holidays that feel like we are on an adventure, myself and my husband want some of those little luxuries that we take for granted at home. Namely a proper bed, an indoor toilet, a coffee machine and a fridge stocked with child-friendly snacks (and Continental beers!). When we were given the chance to stay in a Eurocamp Azure self-catering holiday home, we jumped at the chance to combine the camping vibes that the kids love with more comfortable surroundings.

The Domaine des Ormes holiday parc in Dol-de-Bretagne, Brittany, is set in 400 acres of wooded parkland. It is made up of different types of accommodation, from tree-top houses and safari tents to camping pitches and wooden yurts. Eurocamp offers a choice of holiday homes, lodges, bungalows and tents. Our accommodation was compact, but had everything we needed for the week. The Azure holiday home has three bedrooms (one master with a queen-size bed and two smaller rooms each with two single beds), so it comfortably sleeps up to six people. We know many families who have more than two kids and often struggle to find suitable accommodation that houses everyone all together. These holiday homes are ideal for families with up to four children or those who want to bring the grandparents

along. One thing to note is that the master bedroom was very tight – the lovely large bed took up most of the room – and so you wouldn't be able to fit a travel cot next to the bed.

The holiday home is well-equipped and has been designed with families in mind. For us, the full blackout blinds on each of the bedroom windows meant that getting the kids to sleep each night was an absolute doddle. The kitchen had everything we needed for self-catering, including a gas hob, oven, fridge-freezer, microwave, kettle and even a Nespresso machine. The only thing missing was a toaster (our kids love toast!), but the oven did have a grill.

Each Azure holiday home has its own enclosed and gated balcony area, which means you can let little ones play out there without having to worry that they will run off. There's the option to eat indoors or out, with two dining tables and also a sofa-style seating area outside, plus two sun loungers on the grassy area in front of the holiday home.

Each Azure holiday home has its own enclosed and gated balcony area, so you can let little ones play out there without having to worry that they will run off
(left) and pony riding Imogen enjoying rock climbing

Our yummy filled crêpes are the perfect snack for your little ones to refuel after school, a sport activity, or to enjoy as a little treat! Conveniently individually wrapped, you can take them anywhere for your kids to enjoy with no crumbs or mess. And guess what? We don’t use any artificial colours, flavours or preservatives in our crêpes!

crêpes in a 6-pack at Co-op and an 8-pack at Morrisons, Tesco, and via Ocado. Follow us on: WhaooCrepes Whaoo! UK
Purchase our
snacking! ® ®
Let’s put the fun back into

The balcony has a large awning that provides shade when it's sunny and also protects from wet weather. We definitely experienced April showers during our visit and were able to hang out washing on the balcony come rain or shine. The kids enjoyed sitting outside under a blanket watching the rain. Another nice touch was that a gas or charcoal BBQ is provided free of charge and there's space to park one car next to your holiday home, which helps a lot when you are loading and unloading your suitcases and kids.

Accessible areas

For families who have members in a wheelchair, Domaine des Ormes has many facilities that are wheelchair friendly, including the reception area, swimming pool, restaurant, bar, sanitation blocks (as well as disabled toilets) and the SPAR shop. The paths are wide and most are hardstanding, with a few dirt tracks that could easily be used by a wheelchair.

Things to do on-site

Domaine des Ormes has fantastic facilities and so many activities that you could spend a whole week here without leaving the parc.

From tree-climbing and zip wires to archery and pony rides, there really is something for everyone. A lot of the activities are for age seven upwards and, while there are crafts for all ages, a bouncy castle and a great playground for toddlers, not many of the paid-for adventure activities are suitable for under 5s.

The adventure activities were a dream come true for Imogen, who loves anything to do with climbing. She mastered the beginner's tree-top course in record time and went on to do the more challenging children's assault courses that are much higher up and have zip wires and more

complicated obstacles. The highest courses are for children aged 8 upwards and they do have minimum height requirements for safety reasons. Imogen will have to wait until next year to master them all. She also enjoyed a climbing lesson on the outdoor climbing wall that had a mix of different climbs to tackle, of varying difficulty. This was great as the instructor was on hand to offer advice and guidance, and to make sure that everyone understood how to keep themselves safe. As parents, we were very impressed with the safety briefings and checks before each activity.

After several attempts to get out on the lake on a pedalo, the rain finally relented and we grabbed some life jackets and hit the water. The kids found it great fun to be ferried around by their parents and we even let them have a go at steering the boat. But true to form, it started to rain cats and dogs while we were in the middle of the lake, so we all got soaked and made our way back to shore.

If you visit in the summer then something we didn't get to do but would have loved to try was hiring bikes and exploring the local area. There are more than 200 bikes to hire on site, including parent and child tandems, which looked like brilliant fun, baby-carrier bikes and electric bikes.

There are also tennis courts, table tennis tables, a football pitch, a basketball pitch, a volleyball net and a boules pitch.

For the golf fanatics in the family, the parc has its own 18-hole course and clubhouse, as well as a fun Alice-in-Wonderlandthemed mini-golf area. Our eldest loved trying to get the balls into the weird and wonderful-shaped holes and obstacles, but it was a touch too tricky for our three-yearold and she gave up two holes in.

For our family, one of the best parts of the holiday was the huge Dome indoor swimming pool. In the words of our seven-year-old: “It was epic”. Even as an adult, I have to say that it is the best swimming pool I have ever been to! There are a couple of super-warm and shallow toddler pools, waterslides galore for bigger kids (and adults!) and a very long and winding lazy river with a rope swing, various jacuzzi areas, water jets and sprays. The kids absolutely loved the pools and we swam almost every day. The resort also has outdoor pools, but as we visited in April these were not yet open.

In the summer holidays, the resort runs a daily kids club, with activities for different age groups: 0-4 years, 4-6 years, 6-9 years, 9-12 years and 13-17 years. They are run by specially-trained English-speaking kids reps and offer a fun and jam-packed schedule of activities six days per week.

the Eurocamp holiday resort mastering the rock climbing wall at exploring the play areas and
The kids enjoyed the pedalos,

Domaine des Ormes has a SPAR shop that bakes fresh bread and croissants every morning. In fact, the bakery was so popular there would be a long queue out the door first thing. We ate twice at the on-site pizzeria Chez Madeline, which had a great range of pizza options, as well as a good-value kids' menu. There is also an English-style bar with evening entertainment and a games room with a pinball machine, various video games, table football and table air hockey. On this holiday we learned that I am terrible at air hockey and my husband is super-competitive at this game! What was missing was a more casual cafe that's open in the daytime serving breakfast, hot drinks and light lunches.

St Malo


About a 30-minute drive from the parc is the stunning coastal town of St Malo. We spent a day exploring the busy port, historic city walls and miles of sandy beach. While the highlight for the kids was finding a small shark that had been caught in a large rock pool at low tide, the adults were impressed by the beautiful vistas of the port and town, the latter of which is encased in high stone walls making it look like a medieval castle akin to something out of Game of Thrones. Inside the walls is a busy and bustling tourist town with many creperies and restaurants, ice cream stands, quirky gift and homeware shops, as well as big-brand stores. You could easily spend a whole weekend here browsing the shops, relaxing on the sandy beaches and exploring the Fort, city battlements and nearby islands. With so many restaurants to choose from, we were spoiled for choice and found a small bistro off the beaten track serving crepes, locally caught fish and moules marinere. None of the staff could speak English, so this gave us a chance to dust off the GCSE French and immerse ourselves in the St Malo atmosphere. Stunning architecture and (literally) glittering sandy beaches make St Malo a mustsee destination on a trip to Brittany.

Saint Malo was born in Alet, one century B.C. The Gallo-Roman port made way for a city founded on an island back in the 12th century 90 FAMILY FIRS T M agazine TRAVEL - SUMMER 2023

While we didn't have time to visit, it is worth stopping in at the Grand Aquarium de St Malo, which is on the way back from St Malo to Domaine des Ormes. It is home to more than 600 species of fish and sea creatures, and aims to raise awareness of the importance of the marine environment and its ecosystem.

Mont St Michel

I visited Mont St Michel as a young child with my family back in the nineties. The main thing I remember is the treacherous journey across the causeway and it being very slippery! Since 2012, a huge bridge has been installed and we used the (very easy but quite pricey) park and ride bus to take us to the island. The buses are free, only take about five minutes and are very regular.

Mont St Michel is absolutely stunning island set just off the French coast. Inside it is a maze of cobbled streets, gift shops and cafes. You can pay to take a tour of the Abbey, which sits atop the mount. Our kids were quite happy exploring the town and finding new alleyways and steps taking us to different sights and viewpoints, so we didn't venture inside the Abbey. With the April showers in full flow, we flitted from shops to a quick pitstop at a cafe for lunch (ham and cheese baguettes all round) to exploring outdoors. The kids loved splashing in the puddles, while we admired

the far-reaching views.

During a dry spell, we decided to head onto the beach as the tide was out. This meant we could walk around the edge of the island, looking at the city walls and battlements, to meet the sea. The combination of shallow water and sludgy clay sand was a disaster waiting to happen for our adventurous kids. Our day out ended rather abruptly, when Imogen went too far into the water and got her wellies stuck in the sand. When my husband tried to pull her out, she fell backwards into the sea fully clothed. Then the heavy rain started and we took that as a sign to head back to the bus.

Final word

We have always taken the view that if the kids are entertained and happy then the

adults can relax. And that is exactly what staying at Domaine des Ormes did for us. We waved bon voyage to the parc with two relaxed parents and two very tired children who had made lots of happy memories.

Good to know

Eurocamp Domaine des Ormes opening dates: 6 April - 4 November 2023

Nearest Airport: Dinard (DNR) – 43km

Parc Size: Large - 700 Pitches

Nearest port: St Malo – 27km

Nearest beach: Cancale, St Coulomb, St Malo – 25km

Nearest town: Dol de Bretagne – 7km

Getting to Domaine des Ormes

There are several different ways to travel to Domaine des Ormes – by boat, train or plane. We took a P&O ferry from Dover to Calais and then drove the five or so hours along the northern French coast. Our kids loved going on the ferry and, while the journey was longer than the Eurotunnel (our usual choice for driving to Europe), it was lots of fun for them to walk around the boat and look out of the windows. While you could make this trip by public transport and taxi, we recommend having a car for this holiday.

For more information on Domaine des Ormes and Eurocamp's other European sites, visit:



You wake up at three thirty AM and begin your schlep to the nearest major (which basically means hard to get to) airport. You arrive at check-in where your bags barely pass the weigh-in, but only after you take out some clothes.

Now wearing two extra coats, you sweat your way along the security queue, flight time drawing nearer by the minute. You stuff tiny little toiletries into tiny little plastic packets and remove electrical items. You take your belt off, earrings off, shoes off and somehow you still beep. You sweat a bit more before the security lady confesses ‘Don’t worry, love. It hasn’t been working all day’.

Next, you reach the fast food circus of the airport concourse and scan the boards. The 0540 flight to Paris is delayed. You breathe a giant sigh of relief. And frustration. It’s still so early in the morning, you’re not sure what to feel.

Four overpriced meals, two burnt coffees and a spilt soft drink later, they call your gate number. You join the human assembly line down miles of travelator before reaching the gate. You wait at the gate. You wait some more. You start charging things. Bing bong! Announcement. ‘Please will all the important people make their way onto the plane’. Before you get to go on however, you’re told your hand luggage has to go in the hold.

Once aboard, you park the kids at the front of the plane before finding your seat at the very back. You try your best to fold your knees and elbows into some kind of comfortable configuration while your neighbour takes his seat. He’s a larger than life character who jokes about how ‘cosy’ it is. Once takeoff is announced, this friendly exchange turns into a silent pass-agg battle over the armrest.

After two-ish hours of stale dry air, you start to nod off. That’s when you land with a thump, waking you right back up. The hard bit is over, right? Wrong. You watch as your fellow passengers collect their luggage and set off. You ask a staff member where your bags are. Your French is rusty but you understand enough to know your luggage is still in the UK.

You try not to lose your marbles over your lost luggage as you move onto the next holiday obstacle; the car hire cowboys. Then, finally, you pull out into full swing Paris traffic, wondering if you’ll ever get to your hotel, or if any of this was worth it.

Or you don’t.

What if instead, you go a different way?

You book your family on as a family, not individuals. You don’t worry about choosing seats, because you don’t need to. You pick a time that suits you but you’re not too bothered because you know you can catch a later ship if you want (or an earlier one if you’re that kind of family). And you don’t worry about the shape or size of your luggage, because if it fits in your car, then it’s good to go. Yes darling, you can bring your teddy.

On the day of, you wake up at a nice reasonable hour, make your way down to Dover. You drive to the water’s edge and the kids crane their necks to get a good look at her through the windscreen. They’re positively humming with excitement as you roll up onto the drawbridge and into the ship. You hop out of the car and the holiday begins as soon as you head up on deck.

The eldest blows aliens’ heads off in the video games arcade (bless him) while the youngest spends time with her own tribe doing what kids do. Your other half dozes off sprawled out across the sofa next to the window, giving you time to do ‘you’. You do a spot of duty-free shopping before heading out to catch a nice base-coat up on deck.

You enjoy a coffee and some fresh pastries, looking out onto the waves thinking how funny it is that you’re having a continental breakfast while sailing to the continent. You wish this trip could take days, not hours.

But in no time at all, you look up from your book to see France on the horizon. You round up the posse, grab your stuff and head back down to the car deck. You hop in, pop off the handbrake, and then just as easily as pulling out of your drive, you roll off into your adventure.

Explore Pembrokeshire's coast with a family-friendly cottage stay

Home to Britain’s only Coastal National Park, Pembrokeshire is peppered with beautiful beaches, outdoor adventures and castles galore. Far less crowded – and cheaper – than England’s south coast, it’s ripe for exploring in summer. Family owned Coastal Cottages of Pembrokeshire ( knowns only too well the best family finds, which is why we’ve asked them for their top choices.


A trip to Skomer island (recently featured in David Attenborough’s Wild Isles on BBC1) to see the puffins is a must for nature-loving families. Stay nearby at Drovers Cottage, Nr St Brides, one of five former farm labourers’ cottages. Surrounded by open countryside, it’s minutes from Little Haven (including a couple of great pubs and headland walk). The windsurfing centre at Dale and St Brides beach are nearby too. Onsite, the two-bedroom cottage shares a games room with table tennis and pool table, a children's play area and hot tub with the other cottages in the small cluster of properties. A week’s holiday in late August costs from £917 based on four sharing.

Drovers Cottage Monterey Cottage
Monterey Cottage


If kings, queens and knightly intrigue are high on the agenda, then a family holiday to Pembroke is ideal. Within walking distance of Pembroke Castle, 90 Main Street is a 200-year-old cottage and the perfect base to explore the town and castle (the birthplace of the Tudor King Henry VII), as well as beaches and the coastal path. Folly Farm Zoo, Manor House Zoo, Heatherton Country Sports Park, Oakwood Theme Park and Pembrokeshire’s Wakeboard and Aqua Park are close too. Sleeping four, a week’s summer stay from £803.

visit to Bug Farm. This farm, nature reserve and visitor centre are a haven for all things ‘bug’, including Grub Kitchen, the UK’s first full-time edible insect restaurant (a non-insect menu is also available). A seven-night stay for up to six arriving late August from £1,302.



Sleeping eight, so large enough for two families, Monterey Cottage is a spacious holiday home. With a hot tub for added luxury, the detached property sits above Tenby North Beach with views over Tenby Harbour, Caldey Island and the whole of Carmarthen Bay. The medieval walled town, with its pretty painted houses, quaint cobbled streets, harbour and four sandy beaches, is a short walk downhill. Crabbing off the harbour wall, a boat trip to Caldey Island (home to the Cistercian monks) and walks from the door along the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path to Saundersfoot, make for glorious summer activities. And with so much on tap – including a train station – Tenby is the ideal location for a car-free break. A seven-night stay for up to eight during peak summer costs £3,990.

For more information on Coastal Cottages of Pembrokeshire, phone 01437 765765 or visit:



A real home-from-home within the tiny city of St Davids, Gwyndy Bach couldn’t be better placed. It’s enclosed garden is next to a playground while the shops and cafes, a lively arts scene and cathedral are within walking distance. Nearby, there are four sandy beaches, with Caerfai less than a mile walk away and Whitesands– popular with children and surfers alike – five minutes by car. For nature-lovers, a boat trip to spot seals and birds on Ramsey Island is a must; so too a

90 Main Street Gwyndy Bach Gwyndy Bach Monterey Cottage Monterey Cottage

Get away to beating your big brother.

Get away to dad jokes. To forgetting the punchline. To laughing uncontrollably. To lots of sibling silliness. Get away to playing until you’re called in for dinner. To setting your own bedtime.

Get away to it all.

Holidays and short breaks that let you come and go when you want with any day arrivals. Book direct at

The wondersof Wales

Travel writer Felicity

Cousins spent the weekend in Pembrokeshire with her family exploring the sights and sounds of harbour town Milford Haven.


“Look at that dragon!” our youngest son squealed, wriggling in his seat to get a better view. For a four-year-old, seeing the huge steel red dragon perched above the M4, just a few moments after we had crossed the impressive

Severn Bridge into Wales, was almost too much. My husband and I, and our three boys (Gabriel 9, Rafferty 7 and Bodhi 4) were heading for a weekend away to Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire. We were apprehensive about the five-hour drive (six with the obligatory stops for the loo and coffee) but once in Wales, looking out of the window was enough to keep them happy. With the dragon behind us, the landscape gradually changed to steep rocky hills and clear pastel views. The rain fogged our view as the road rose and dipped along the coast, passing the industrial stacks of Port Talbot, but as we descended into Milford Haven the sun broke through and we were treated to the sight of the flint blue sea, hugged by the harbour, the oil and gas refineries across the bay, a striking contrast to the sleek yachts bobbing in the Marina.

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"We took a stroll along Milford Waterfront before dinner. The development 'where the land meets the sea' is built with Milford Haven's history in mind"

The Ty Hotel Milford Waterfront ( destinations/milford-waterfront/), which opened last April in partnership with the Port of Milford Haven and Milford Waterfront, had the neat glamour of a new hotel and the busy confidence of one that has settled easily into the swing of things. We used our room key cards to access the lift and the kids got rid of their pent-up energy by running joyfully between our two rooms (we had a doubleaspect corner bedroom, the triangular balcony easing out over the water like the bow of a ship), and a twin room next door. The design was such that we could close the corridor off so it became a mini apartment, which was ideal for our family.

In the rooms, the children found activity packs containing binoculars, a compass, a wind-up torch and a whistle (which we soon made disappear!) and plenty of crayons and colouring-in sheets. It was the perfect arrival, unpacking with the late afternoon sun throwing its golden hue across the contemporary rooms.

We took a stroll along Milford Waterfront before dinner. The development, “where the land meets the sea”, is built with Milford Haven’s history in mind and the walkway is lined with

shops, which used to be the fish markets on the dock.

First up is Scott’s Sweet shop, which unfortunately for the boys had just closed, but the windows displayed colourful jars and retro packets of traditional sweets. We passed the Cheesy Cow cafe (which does lunch buffet boxes), the surf shop Salt on the Strand (which had something for everyone including cosy kid’s hoodies), and a beautiful chocolate boutique Dilly’s Chocolate.

Towards the end of the marina I spied BooBaloo Boutique selling pretty floaty dresses, but the kids had already seen Sugar Loaf deli and bakery and soon they were tearing back along the walkway, doughnuts in hand.

Dinner was at the hotel restaurant, dulse. The restaurant gets its name from a dark red edible seaweed, which grows along the Pembrokeshire Coast, and it serves up modern cuisine, overlooking the water. We opted for an early sitting and the food was delivered with speed, which we all appreciated as the boys were ready for a feast! They enjoyed colouring in while they ate their mozzarella sticks and carrot and cucumber strips, while we indulged in chilli squid and pork belly starters. The younger two opted for pizza mains, but Gabriel chose fish and chips and declared it as “the best ever” – but then the pudding arrived – waffles with Maple syrup and ice cream “even better than the best ever”. Our mains were a delicious rump of lamb and pan-fried cod – perfect for being in Wales and by the sea! FAMILY FIRST M agazine 101 SUMMEr 2023 - TRAVEL
Gabriel and Rafferty with kayak instructor Chris


The next morning, true to form, the three boys were bouncing off the walls by 6am. Luckily the hotel served breakfast from 6.30am – a massive positive for anyone with early risers! We joined the keen ramblers who were eager to start on their coastal walks. The hotel is an ideal choice as a base to explore the Pembrokeshire coast and you can walk right from the door and be on the coastal path within minutes.

After filling up on the fresh pastries and hot breakfast buffet, we made a quick visit to buy a toilet seat for Bodhi (he refused to use the normal adult seat). Just five minutes walk from the hotel is the handy Havens Head Retail Park where we found a Tesco, Boots and the toilet seat in Home Bargains (we stocked up on sticker books and puzzles for the journey home too).

As the seagulls called overhead we knocked on the Milford Haven Museum (www. door opposite the hotel. We were half an hour early without realising it (the museum opens at 10.30am) but George Springer, curator and collections manager, and his wife Lynn were wonderfully welcoming, inviting us into the small museum shop while George opened up the rest of the museum rooms.

The museum is housed in the old Customs

House dating back to 1897 and is a great introduction to the history and character of Milford Haven, which was founded in 1790 by Sir William Hamilton. The town was originally supposed to be a whaling centre, but while it played its part in the whaling industry it also thrived as a ship-building and repair dock for the Royal Navy (Napoleon visited in 1802 and there’s a hotel named after him). Milford morphed once again and was a thriving fishing port until the late 1950s when the deep harbour attracted the larger tankers and the energy industry arrived. The energy sector is a massive part of Milford Haven’s life today, with many local people working at the plants.

The two older boys were absorbed with the displays in the museum and although we didn’t quite complete the activity book, you could easily spend an hour or more exploring the

town’s past. Gabriel (9) was delighted with the model ships and the section on Milford Haven during the war – it became an allied base for American soldiers – and he was fascinated by the oil refinery and natural gas section on the second floor. Rafferty (7) enjoyed doing brass rubbings of types of fish, but Bodhi (4) was happy terrorising a stuffed cat, so Lynn let him play with some of the toys in the shop (she said she thoroughly enjoyed it too!).

We bought some souvenirs and headed back to the waterfront to find some lunch. We chose some freshly made rolls from Sugar Loaf and then headed out to the Waterfront Gallery.

We have kids who delight in art so it was exciting to explore this small airy gallery, housed in one of the buildings that serviced the Nantucket Whaling Ships. The Waterfront Gallery ( features sculptures, papier mache creations, traditional and contemporary paintings from regular exhibitors, as well as hosting an annual international competition ‘Wales Contemporary’ with art inspired by Wales.

We had planned on a walk around the dock, but the weather had other ideas so we shot across the road to Phoenix Bowl and Pirate Pete’s Adventure Play ( phoenixbowl. Bowling was great fun for us all and Bodhi enjoyed throwing the balls down the wire rack, which helped him to direct the ball. Pirate Pete’s soft play was the perfect activity for the kids as the rain poured outside. It was busy with local families doing the same.

Later, we drove through the narrow winding lanes to find the sea at Sandy Haven. The beach here is walkable from Milford Haven along the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path, but it’s around five miles (or eight miles circular) so more suited to older children. There are car parking spaces above the beach and then a cliff walk down, but note the beach is only accessible at low tide. You can see Stack Rock Fort, a circular Victorian fort in the sea. We continued our drive across the estuary and dipped down through a dense woodland tangled with lime-green vines and unfurled ferns, dripping with fresh dewy droplets. “It’s like a rainforest,” Gabriel said, smiling. There was a sense of deep quiet here, with nature creeping across the tiny coastal lanes.

“With the dragon behind us, the landscape gradually changed to steep rocky hills and clear pastel views”

That evening the children were buzzing from their adventures and we headed out along the waterfront to the Harbourmaster ( for dinner. We opted for an early sitting and the venue was lively, as we ate, with groups of friends enjoying their Saturday dinner before heading out. We all polished off the enormous burgers and the kids were delighted by the curly fries and huge ice cream and brownies to finish. Afterwards, we walked around the top of the dock the reflection of the lights dancing in the water.


We were woken by the sound of the children laughing and I found them with their binoculars glued to their faces “spying” on the fishermen across the harbour. A fishing boat had just returned with its catch, breaking the still water of the inlet as it chugged alongside the dock to unload its hoard. One of the fishermen suddenly did a spontaneous cartwheel down the dock, his yellow trousers flashing brightly like a Catherine Wheel along the waterfront, much to the children’s delight.

We filled up on the hotel’s delicious breakfast and changed into our swimming gear for our kayaking adventure. This had been the focus of the trip for Gabriel and Rafferty who both love being in the water (although my husband and I hoped we wouldn’t end up in the sea!). We headed to Milford Beach Activity Centre ( on Mackerel Quay, which is run by locals Chris, Mike and Sam.

The three men have returned to their roots to develop a community-focused activity centre. Chris and Mike greeted us with huge smiles despite the early Sunday hour – 9am was the perfect time to begin as it was a high spring tide and easier to launch off the slipway. We pulled on the wetsuits and buoyancy aids before heading to the water. I sat at the back, with Bodhi in the middle and Gabriel at the front, while my husband and Rafferty took another kayak. Mike pushed us all off and we whooshed into the water for Chris to show us some simple paddling techniques. We’ve all kayaked before, so we took a relaxed paddle to a headland. It was peaceful on the water, feeling the swell beneath us, the refinery chimneys on the left, the open sea ahead and gulls swooping above us.

Chris works with the local community to get kids out on the water and to build confidence. He explains it was only travelling around with the army he realised what a beautiful part of the world he was from, and came back home to raise his family. The three friends have big plans for the future

and seeing how much our boys enjoyed themselves, it’s going to be a huge success.

“That was the best,” Gabriel declared on the way back to the hotel. “More than the best, I wish we could have explored further!” said Rafferty. Chris and the team can take families or individuals on longer guided tours by paddleboard or kayak. More adventures await.

Before we headed home we went in search of some sea glass on Milford Beach. The retreating tide had revealed the red sandstone stones and rich earthy sand where local jewellers search for pieces for their craft. We spent half an hour with our heads down looking for the best shapes and colours of sea glass smoothed by the waves. We collected handfuls of creamy white glass, greens and the occasional orange and brown and showed each other our favourite pieces.

And then it was time to head home. We packed in a lot in our short stay, but we plan to return if not just to enjoy more food on the waterfront – I had my eye on Martha’s Vineyard and Foam – and discover more of this place, where the land meets the sea.

Felicity Cousins ( is an award-winning journalist writing about travel, health and sustainability for both consumer and trade publications.

Other activities nearby

Explore the coast – West of Milford Haven, the Pembrokeshire coast is wild and rugged. Places to visit include Dale and Marloes (these are just a little further than Sandy Haven, across the estuary). It is possible to park at Dale and walk straight onto the Pembrokeshire Coast Path with options including a seven-mile circuit out to St Ann’s Head.

The Torch Theatre Gallery – a short stroll beyond the entrance to the Waterfront, the Torch Theatre is a hugely popular local arts space with a cinema, gallery and cafe, bringing the community together.

Visit Neyland – A short drive from Milford Haven is Neyland, a small town that was once the terminus of a railway constructed by Brunel. Now there’s a smart marina to visit and you can walk along the old railway line, which is now a popular cycleway. visitpembrokeshire. com/explore-pembrokeshire/towns-andvillages/neyland

Visit Pembroke – 20 minutes east leads to Pembroke, crossing the impressive Cleddau Bridge. Pembroke is steeped in history and its castle was the birthplace of Henry Tudor. SUMMER 2023 - TRAVEL FAMILY FIRST M agazine 103

The perfect family getaway this summer

‘Magical - the perfect way to detox from our day to day, rewild our senses, refresh our minds, and rekindle true quality family time. The children are already asking when we’ll be back!’

With animals around each corner, you’ll discover new best friends as you stroke lambs, calves, dogs, pigs or even Alpaca’s. You’ll watch in wonder as your children unwind and settle into a new, slower pace of life with ease. This is a place without phones, without interruptions, without electricity (don’t worry parents, there’s charging points in our honesty shops!).

This is the start of a summer short break the Feather Down Farms way, where nature meets comfort and the great outdoors becomes the ultimate playground at any of our 29 smallscale farms. Nestled in acres of farm land, miles of coastlines, national parks and quality British countryside, you’ll discover a place of imagination, creativity, and fun.

One of the delights of staying on a working farm is taking part in the farm tour, hosted by the farmers themselves. Watch cows being milked, get a firsthand look at how a farm works, and let your kiddos get their hands dirty and embrace nature like never before. Learning more about life on the farm will engage their interest and fuel their curiosity, absorbing facts without effort and creating new experiences for you


Your home from home is a spacious canvas hideaway, sleeping up to six people, with plenty of space for the entire family! Furnished with snug, heavenly beds, the cupboard bed will be a special treat for your children, the perfect bed, den, playspace and more! You’ll enjoy a fully-equipped kitchen to prepare tasty, nutritious meals as well as a private shower, this is where luxury and comfort meets nature unfiltered. Whichever of our 29 farms you choose to stay at, you’ll experience our honesty shops - full of local produce, yummy treats and glamping essentials to make your stay as easy as can be. And to further enhance your stay, most farms offer additional activities such as hot tubs, pony grooming/riding, fishing and animal experiences, and you can even bring your dog to many locations!

You’ll find a farm within 2-3 hours from home, ensuring your holiday gets off to a great stay without a long journey. We all know children can be restless when travelling somewhere new, with chimes of ‘are we there yet’ ringing in your ears being a distant memory. One thing that’s for sure is that on the way home, the only thing they’ll be asking is ‘when can we stay again?’.

A unique off-grid experience
perfect adventure for children Quality family time Enjoy glamping in some of nature’s finest spots 29 farms across the UK
Stay at a Feather Down farm this year and you’ll receive a £25 voucher to spend in our honesty shops, with tasty, local food, treats and ingredients to enjoy on your farm stay. Use code familyfirst23 when booking to claim your voucher for your 2023 stay!


HOLIDAY summer

Ready to plan your summer holiday, but don’t know where to start? Vintage Travel offers help and advice on planning a family getaway.

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Planning a holiday can often feel like just another chore to be crossed off that neverending family to-do list. The overwhelming variables – home or abroad? Beach, city, rural? Fly or not to fly? Villa, hotel or campsite? Holiday with friends and family or not? And that’s even before everyone’s personal opinions and the budget has been factored in. So where to start?

Get some help

Rather than go it alone, you may find you save yourself some time by having a quick chat with a travel professional who can do much of the leg work for you. Many travel companies use live chat services, making it easier for customers to get in touch. Smaller and specialist companies like Vintage are also happy to talk through ideas over the telephone, helping to hone the options more readily and work within your budget.

Think out of the box

Instead of sticking to the usual resorts and destinations, go off track, as they’re often more authentic and better value. Always head to Spain? Why not try Galicia on the northern coast, which is full of fascinating cities to explore, wonderful beaches, wine and seafood. Rather than the Algarve, head to Northern Portugal, which makes for a fabulous summer break. Or how about hitting Europe’s ski slopes, but explore them in the sunshine.

Group benefits

Holidaying with friends and family is another consideration, particularly if you’re self-catering. Not only can you share the cooking, but the kids can be kept entertained with friends of a similar age – meaning a more relaxing time for the parents. Plus, while larger properties may look expensive, once split between two or three families, they offer great value. And if grandparents are in tow, then there’s the odd night of babysitting thrown in too.

Book early

While it may be tempting to wait for last-minute bargains, booking early often has more benefits. It means you can enjoy free child places, low deposits, lots of accommodation choice, grab those cheaper flight prices and guarantee the best car hire deals. The last week of the school holidays is often a slightly cheaper option too. And, if you’re not constrained by the school holidays, make the most of the shoulder season months as the prices are sometimes half the cost of the summer peak.

Think carefully about all-inclusive

If you want all expenses paid up-front to effectively budget for your family holiday, then booking an all-inclusive holiday may seem like a good option. However, it does have its constraints as it may mean you explore less.

Cambridgeshire’s Vintage Travel – a specialist in villas with pools across the Mediterranean – has been in the holiday business for more than 30 years. With 50% of their bookings from repeat customers and a recent a platinum trusted service award from Feefo for their customer service, they’re clearly doing something right. For more information on Vintage Travel, visit: or tel: 01954 261 431.

Money-saving holiday tips

Nick Drewe, discount expert at WeThrift ( com), shares his top tips on saving money on your family holiday this summer.

Book activities in advance

Travelling with children means keeping them entertained day and night – to do this you may want to visit some of the different tourist attractions the location has to offer. Booking online saves you time and money. There are often deals available for major attractions when booking in advance or through special promotions. If you plan to visit more than one attraction during your holiday, a group pass that gains you access to multiple attractions may also be

a worthwhile investment. Not only can this save you money, but you may actually be able to get a few attractions for the price of one, depending on where you book.

Get the best price online

Download the Chrome extension ‘CheaperThere’. When booking online through comparison sites, click on the extension, this will find you the best price for the flight or hotel.

Beat dynamic pricing strategies by going incognito

Many flight and accommodation booking sites will utilise dynamic pricing strategies, which is where they will increase the price of flights or accommodation if you are regularly browsing them online. By switching your browser to incognito mode or by clearing your cache, you can beat dynamic pricing and bag a cheaper deal when booking online. Use Google Flights for cheap holiday inspiration. Click ‘Explore Destinations’ and it will suggest when and where the most affordable flights are from your chosen destination.



Head to Shropshire for a Festival

Midlands-based families have plenty of festival-going options this year. More than just music, Camp Bestival Shropshire ( will be welcoming Primal Scream, Rudimental and synth-pop singalong legends The Human League at the festival’s Weston Park venue, from 17-20 August 2023. Day tickets from £70 for adults and £25 children. While for a more laid-back vibe, the Shrewsbury Folk Festival ( will see the likes of Billy Bragg join globally celebrated folk bands at this very familyfriendly festival. Offering plenty of activities and events, a craft fair, dance displays and workshops for everyone, and brilliant sessions both organised and impromptu. Tickets from £43 per adult and £12.36 per child. Onsite camping is also available.

Get Bowled Over at The Hundred Cricket Competition

Cricket lovers are in for a summer of fun as eight key cricketing cities around the

country host The Hundred, a new 100-ball cricket competition. Family friendly, The Hundred will see some of the country’s top cricketing stars compete, with plenty of hands-on cricket fun, live music, food and drinks to keep the crowd entertained. Tickets from £10 for adults and £5 per child (5-15yrs). For more information and to book the venues (Southampton, Cardiff, Birmingham, Nottingham, Manchester, Headingly in Leeds and Lord’s, plus The Kia Oval in London) visit:

Take in some free evening fireworks and street theatre on East Norfolk beaches

Families heading to the East Norfolk resorts of Great Yarmouth and Hemsby this summer can enjoy some fabulous free fireworks and street performance displays. Great Yarmouth’s beach-front Golden Mile will host free family activities every Wednesday evening throughout the school summer holidays, with animated performances at 5pm then again at 9pm ahead of a free firework. While a nearby seaside resort of Hemsby will host a similar firework

and entertainment programme every Tuesday evening. For more information:

Join the party to kickstart the 2023 Ocean Globe Race in Southampton

From the Mayflower to the Titanic, the Blue Riband liners to the Whitbread Round the World races – Southampton is synonymous with the start of some of history’s most famous sea voyages. This summer, to mark the 50th anniversary of the celebrated Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race, the maritime city will host the latest sailing challenge – The Ocean Globe Race or OGR (oceangloberace. com). While the main event doesn’t start until 10th September, the race village will open at Southampton’s Ocean Village Marina on 26 August 2023, with the opportunity for visitors to see the 15 yachts competing in the 30,000-mile race ahead of their departure and learn more about the historic competition. This retro race (no GPS, computers or satellites, just traditional sextons to be used to navigate) will race around the world via the three great capes - Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, Australia’s Cape Leeuwin, and South America’s notorious Cape Horn - and stop in Cape Town, Auckland and Punta del Este enroute back to Southampton.

We highlight some fun and family-friendly events and days out this summer across the country.

Family Fun Just Got a Whole Lot Easier with WonderFold Stroller Wagons!

Fun festivals, beautiful beach-days, wilderness walks. Nothing beats family adventures. But with luggage, pushchairs and snacks galore, getting out and about with your little ones can be easier said than done!

BRAND NEW to the UK the WonderFold stroller wagons are set to transform family trips in every way. Already a household name in the U.S, and used by the likes of Kylie Jenner and Chrissy Teigen, as well as Kim and Khloe Kardashian, WonderFold Wagons are taking family outings to the next level. Fully safety certified and available in a variety of models and sizes (holding one to four children, plus bags and accessories!) all removeable seats feature a fivepoint safety harness. WonderFold wagons are packed full of interesting and practical features, including a canopy to protect from the sun with UV protection, plus handy pockets, lots of storage room and kid-friendly zip hatch exit doors, leaving children safe, secure and happy. They have a weight capacity of up to 21-stones and their special all-terrain

wheels makes them super easy to navigate through different surfaces with ease, from gravel pathways and muddy paths to beach sand and parklands.

What’s so Wonderful about the Wonderfold?

Wonderful because… they’re easy to fold and unfold mechanism means it can come on all your adventures.

Wonderful because… they’ve got room for multiple children, luggage and medical equipment.

Wonderful because… they’ve got in-built safety harnesses so they’re safe and suitable for children from six months old. Find out more at

110 FAMILY FIRST M agazine



Wsays sending her to Rainbows proved to be one of the best decisions she has ever made. “Mummy, how do I make friends?” It still brings tears to Rachael’s eyes to remember the words her daughter would often sign to her.

Unable to speak until the age of six, Freya-Rose could only gurgle, which left many other children avoiding her. Freya-Rose was kept in the reception class at school while her peers progressed two years ahead and Rachael, 40, was anxious to help her lonely little girl.

“It still makes me feel emotional to remember what life was like for Freya-Rose,” says Rachael, a stay-at-home mum from Maltby, South Yorkshire. “She’s such a friendly child, but kids steered clear of her whenever she approached them at the park. When

she was at school most children either ignored her or tried to baby her, both of which upset her. Freya-Rose wasn’t even allowed to attend after-school clubs because her school said she needed a carer to accompany her, which they couldn’t afford to fund. There were some lovely parents who included her in activities out of school, but overall she was a very lonely little girl.”

Diagnosed with a range of conditions including autism, a moderate learning disability and a speech sound disorder that left her unable to form recognisable words, Freya-Rose, now eight, could only communicate through Makaton, the sign and symbol language made famous by CBeebies star Justin Fletcher and his Mr Tumble character. “Freya-Rose knew what she wanted to say, but for some reason she couldn’t form the words, so she just made sounds. She felt like didn’t fit in anywhere

We meet two amazing children who have found friendship, fulfilment and purpose by taking part in Girlguiding’s Rainbows

Fun fact

and got so upset.” When Rachael hit upon the idea to try their nearest Rainbows unit, which was in Bramley near Rotherham, the stakes were high as she was anxious to protect her daughter from further rejection.

“I’d lived for Brownies and Guides when I was younger, so I was really keen for her to go, but I was nervous because I wasn’t sure if they would be able to accommodate her needs,” remembers Rachael.

through the door. They welcomed her with open arms and followed her lead from the start. Nobody minded that she needed a little bit of extra help to complete the tasks. She had the biggest smile on her face at the end of the session. She was so proud when she left clutching the crafts she had made just the same as everybody else. Each week she gained confidence and the first time she signed ‘they’re my friends’ when we talked about Rainbows was incredible.”

Following years of intensive speech and language therapy, Freya-Rose – who is now a Brownie – has been able to speak mostly in sentences for the past two years. She still uses Makaton a lot if she’s struggling with a word or in a new situation where she feels too nervous to speak.

After leaving mainstream education, she has attended a special school in Rotherham for the past year and is continuing to flourish. Spending two nights away from home on her first Brownie camp last summer was a huge milestone that Rachael could never have imagined Freya-Rose would be able to complete previously.

Freya-Rose completed all 18 of the Brownie interest badges within six months of joining and counts down the days to the Wednesday night meetings each week.

“Freya-Rose is loving life now,’ adds Rachael. “The change in her has been incredible and Girlguiding has played a huge part in that. It’s great value for money anyway, but the fact that she feels like she belongs there is priceless.”

Girlguiding’s youngest section, Rainbows is aimed at girls aged four to seven, with members enjoying fun activities, building skills and earning badges – and importantly making friends. After giving the leaders a crash course in Makaton, Rachael was reassured by them that Freya-Rose was in safe hands when she went along to the unit soon after her fifth birthday. Luckily the gamble paid off with the proud mum declaring that it was one of the best decisions she has ever made.

“Without a doubt, sending Freya-Rose to Rainbows changed her life for the better. She thrived there from the first day she walked

“She had the biggest smile on her face at the end of the session”
Girlguiding is the UK’s largest youth organisation dedicated completely to girls, with around 370,000 members


Aten-year-old Guide who has autism has launched a campaign to educate other children about neurodiversity. Abbie, from Earley near Reading, is raising awareness of neurodiversity because she feels many don’t understand what it is or how it affects people. She was inspired to make a difference and get her voice heard in a bid to earn her ‘Campaigning’ badge at Guides. Neurodiversity is a term used to describe a range of neurological differences including autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD and Tourette’s. “I wanted to earn my Campaigning badge at Guides because it’s really important to me to teach people about neurodiversity,” says Abbie, who is a member of 1st Shinfield Guides. “It’s something that people don’t really talk about. A lot of people who have these conditions struggle and it’s not easy for them. Some people think I’m weird, but I know it’s ok to be different. It would be really boring if everyone was the same.”

Diagnosed with autism when she was six, Abbie is classed as highfunctioning. “Autism means your brain is wired differently,” she explains. “Some children with the condition can’t even talk, so I

want to use my voice on their behalf to explain more about it.”

The Campaigning badge encourages Guides – the section of Girlguiding for girls aged 10 to 14-years-old – to try and get their voices heard by people in power, and make change happen. While Abbie delivered a presentation to her fellow pupils at her primary school in Earley to earn her badge, she didn’t feel confident enough to stand up in assembly. So instead she has recorded a video presentation for them to watch instead. You can view the presentation on YouTube ( watch?v=3iCn5kf8sTU).

Within her presentation, Abbie shares advice on how to help children with autism. Her tips include being patient, inviting them to join in games and offering a friendly smile. Abbie’s mum Andrea Pollard says: “Abbie’s Guide unit have been very welcoming and treated her just like anyone else. She loves trying the activities and has made new friends there.

“Working towards her Campaigning badge has really empowered Abbie to say it’s ok to be different. It’s given her the ability to speak more openly instead of her masking ‘normal’ behaviour, which can be incredibly exhausting. I am super proud of her as she is making a huge impact on our local community. Earning badges at Guides gives Abbie an enormous sense of achievement.”

‘Campaigning’ is one of nearly 70 badges that girls can work towards at Guides, with other examples including ‘Upcycling’, ‘Geocaching’ and ‘Human Rights’.

Girlguiding ( is the UK’s largest youth organisation dedicated completely to girls, with around 370,000 members. Girls can do anything. Guiding helps them know that, whether they're four or 18 or in between. All girls have a home at Girlguiding – whoever they are and wherever they are. Girlguiding helps them think big and be bold in a space where they can be themselves, get creative, explore and have fun.

“It would be really boring if everyone was the same”

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s an island nation, our coasts are to be explored and the ocean to embrace. Surfing is a great sport because it uses most muscles in your body and offers a completely mindful experience. When you’re in the ocean battling the waves, there’s no time to think about anything else but picking your wave and having a go at walking on water.

How do I get involved?

We asked one of Team England’s coaches some top tips on getting started: 1

Book a lesson with an accredited surf school – taking a lesson and receiving some coaching to get started will save you hours of frustration. Learn the basics from an expert to make sure you are standing and wave riding as quickly as possible. You can book surf lessons with accredited surf schools in England at and all providers offer full equipment.


Big is beautiful – it’s actually easiest to ride a big surfboard, so start off with a large foam board (again, your coach will make sure you get the right size for your height). As you progress, you’ll be able to try shorter boards. 3

Wetsuits are key – ok, so you look a bit like a seal, but a wetsuit is essential kit if you are going to be in the water for at least an hour. Even in the height of summer, the ocean in the UK is chilly. Think of a wetsuit as a neoprene rubber onesie and remember, the zip usually goes at the back! 4

Be safe – never surf alone and always follow the lifeguard’s advice. Surf coaches are also beach lifeguard qualified.

If you and your family are planning on going to the beach this summer, why not give surfing a try. It is not as hard as it looks and it’s heaps of fun. Surfing England explains how to get going and ride your first wave. A
116 FAMILY FIRST M agazine
“When you’re in the ocean battling the waves, there’s no time to think about anything else but picking your wave”

Safety first

When you are at the beach, look for the lifeguards; they are on duty 10am-6pm, seven days a week. The seasons they operate vary depending on the beach and you can find out more at Lifeguards are extremely fit and have to pass swim and running tests, as well as undergo regular first aid training. They’ll keep you safe.

Learn the flags and make sure you’re in the right area. If you have any questions, ask the lifeguard on duty.

Red flag = DANGER. Do not go out when the red flag is flying. Black and white chequered flags = For surfing go between these flags. Also, in this area are stand up paddleboards, kayaks and other non-powered craft.

Red and yellow flags = The safest place for swimming, bodyboarding and using inflatables.

Orange windsock = Noticed it’s a bit windy? There are often sea breezes at the coast and they can be safe, it all depends on how strong the wind is and the direction. An offshore wind means the wind is blowing out to sea and there is a risk of being blown far from shore. If you see an orange windsock flying, don’t take inflatables out.

Get surf fit

Surfing uses all muscles in your body, it’s a fantastic form of exercise for getting fit and strong, while also being lots of fun. Many surfers do not live next to the sea for much of the year, so staying surf fit while not surfing is a key part of a surfer’s routine. Ahead of starting your surfing journey, you can do some simple exercises to get you prepped for the sea:

Swim front crawl regularly – it’s important to be a good swimmer to be safe in the sea. Swimming is the closest thing to paddling a surfboard, so get that pool time in.

Push-up – a great exercise to build upper body strength for pop-ups.

Squats – bodyweight squats do wonders for developing leg strength and stability.

Pop-up – bringing the muscles together for an all-body workout that simulates ‘popping up’ on a surfboard. Lie on the floor/grass if you’re outside (make sure you’ve got bare feet to avoid slipping), move your arms in a paddling motion (like front crawl), then bring your hands beside your rips bending your arms, push up, and jump to bring your legs beneath you. Bend your knees to lower a little before standing up straight again. Put your hands back on the floor, jumping back to a plank and lowering down to the floor before repeating.

You’re good to go. Get fit and start your surfing journey safely. Most importantly, have FUN. Stay stoked, throw some shakas, and see you in the water!

Surfing England ( is the National Governing Body for the sport of surfing in England, covering all forms of the sport from bodyboarding to stand up paddleboard surfing. It has accredited surf schools and affiliated surf clubs all over England. Surfing England looks after surfing from beginners at grassroots entry-level through to the elite surfers competing for Team England.

Fun facts about surfing

Surfing also takes place in artificial wave pools; the first one in England opened in Bristol in 2019. It is a magnificent teardrop-shaped pool that generates all different size waves for beginners to advanced surfers. Surfing is inclusive of all ages and abilities. The equipment can be adapted as required to be accessible – this means an amputee can surf or a person in a wheelchair, or with a visual impairment.

Surf lingo – surfers are often ‘stoked’, which means excited, amazing. For example: “I’m so stoked with that wave I just rode”. Throw a shaka – a shaka is a hand gesture that means stoked. When something is all good, you can throw a shaka at your coach. Curl your middle three fingers and extend your thumb and little finger.




Make a splash by entering our fantastic prize draw!

You could win a year of swimming lessons worth £350 for your child with Better Swim School.

We’ve got two grand prizes to give away, and we’ll even throw in a year’s supply of Matey products! Five lucky runners-up will also win a year’s supply of bubbly fun with the Matey Crew.

How to enter

Scan the QR code below Follow @matey_adventures on Instagram

Tag a friend or parent who’d like to join in the Matey fun

help children have fun and feel safe in the water

Available 16th June – 30th Sept 2023. Participants must be aged 18+. UK & ROI residents only. 2 Grand Prize winners, 5 Runners Up. Grand Prize includes one weekly swim lesson at participating Better Swim Schools (transportation not included), up to a maximum of 50 lessons within 12 months. Swim lessons to be booked with Better Swim School within 3 months of prize being awarded. Attendance at Better Swim School shall be governed by Better’s T&Cs, seen here and Elida Beauty shall have no liability. For Grand Prize and Runner Up Prize, up to 12 bottles of Matey Bubble Bath available per prize (one per month). Promoter: Elida Beauty Limited. See full terms for details
Matey Bubble Bath is formulated to be gentle on your little ones’ delicate skin. It’s dermatologically tested and contains mild & moisturising ingredients to help nourish and protect during their bath-time adventures. Did you know? ALL


Teenage photographer, Dylan Lombard, who shares a rare syndrome with just 15 people in the world was overjoyed to spend a day snapping Everton Football Club’s win over Arsenal earlier this year.

Dylan (right) with Everton FC, photographer Tony McArdle

Dylan Lombard from Glasgow was a special guest of Everton Football Club (FC) in February after his football-loving dad, Roy, contacted staff to ask if his son could visit Goodison Park as part of their nationwide quest to visit and photograph stadia.

The 19-year-old was welcomed to Everton FC’s Goodison Park stadium by the Fan Engagement team and was given the opportunity to shadow club photographer Tony McArdle.

Dylan worked alongside Tony to capture a Premier League matchday at the stadium, which included everything from player arrivals, meeting legends, the match itself and the celebrations as new manager Sean Dyche secured his first win against Premier League leaders Arsenal.

but develops around internal organs instead, leading to less muscle mass and mobility issues.

“It doesn’t inhibit his life in any way though and he still gets involved in anything he can. He is really into street photography and that’s where his talent lies. He just used to take himself off for walks in the local area as his way of decompressing and dealing with things.

“He’d show us these pictures, which were incredible and it became a way for Dylan to show us how he sees the world, in many ways. It all grew from there and now he goes to college to study photography. One of our shared passions is football and we are on a long-term mission to get to all of the major grounds in the UK and beyond.”

And Dylan, who was diagnosed as deaf aged three, is autistic and has an exceptionally rare syndrome known as MDP – mandibular dysplasia with deafness and progeroid features – capped his memorable day by meeting Everton’s players following the game.

Roy, Dylan’s dad, explains: “My son has a lot of additional needs. He is autistic and has an exceptionally rare syndrome, which only 15 people in the world have. Essentially, MDP means that fatty tissue doesn’t develop under the skin,

Roy, who recalls the great Everton teams of yesteryear under Howard Kendall, added: “I was really, really keen to go to Goodison. The teams of the 1980s were giants in my eyes, so I always wanted to visit the stadium at some point and with the new stadium being built, I wanted to get there before it’s gone forever. We had an amazing day.”

Dylan was able to photograph all the key events, including James Tarkowski’s crucial header that raised the roof at Goodison. And the duo’s memorable day didn’t end there, with the chance for some special snaps with members of the first team squad.

“The day just kept getting better and better,” explained Roy. “The Fan Engagement team told us to hang around after the game and before we knew it, we were meeting the players. It was just such a day to remember. Of all the grounds we’ve been round, I can say hand on heart that’s the most electric atmosphere we have experienced. There were so many elements that came together on the day and what the folk at Everton did for us was way beyond the atmosphere and the occasion. We can’t thank them enough!”

For more information on Everton FC, visit: FAMILY FIRST M agazine 121
“The day just kept getting better and better”





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Having been a teaching assistant at a secondary school in central Manchester for more than 10 years, Kimberly Whittam has a wealth of experience in dealing with all kinds of children, from the confident to the painfully shy. Her debut novel, Quiet Storm, was written to embolden children who lack confidence and struggle to overcome shyness.

When asked what inspired her to write the book, she says: “There’s a lot of shy students that I work with, who really want to join in with the school activities, but they’re just too afraid to do so. I wanted to write a character where we can see what happens on the other side of pushing through insecurities. And also to write a story where the quiet kid gets to be the main character, which is not always the case.”

Quiet Storm’s main character is a girl called Storm who is surrounded by a high-achieving, loud and proud family. But Storm is quiet and struggled to make friends at her new school. Until one day, she breaks the record for the fastest Year 7 sprinter in the history of the Academy and she’s recruited to represent her school in Manchester’s

highly anticipated athletic championships. The story follows her journey from wallflower to being thrust into the spotlight.

“I wrote Quiet Storm for children who struggle with shyness; children who don’t speak up, no matter how much they want to. It’s also a celebration of the chaotic yet joyous tribulations that occur every day in classrooms across the country and I’m looking forward to giving quieter children a starring role when they are often left out or reduced to the sidelines.”

Weaving sport into the story was important for Kimberly, who has witnessed how sport can benefit children of all ages. “Being part of a sports

Author and teaching assistant, Kimberly Whittam explains how it was working with children that inspired her to write her first novel for children who struggle with shyness and finding confidence in who they are, with a timely message about the power of sport for girls.
“I wanted to write a character where we can see what happens on the other side of pushing through insecurities”

team teaches life skills, builds confidence and helps kids to develop a community of friends. It’s just an all-round positive way to organically develop skills.”

“I hope that children who read the book will see how Storm dealt with her experiences and that they’ll feel confident to speak up for themselves. Storm is quiet and throughout the story, she finds her voice.”


As well as building confidence and finding your feet, the book is also about the transition to secondary school, “which I think is really important.” Often, starting secondary school opens up a huge range of sports and activities. “At secondary school, kids get to try loads of different sports during PE lessons. Before parents sign their kids up for sporting activities outside of school, they have a chance in school to try them out first and find out what they love.”

Quiet Storm teaches children that you don’t have to be the loudest person in the room to shine; everyone deserves to take up space, no matter how quiet their voice is.

Kimberly drew on her own experiences as a teenager when creating Storm’s character. While at primary school she was heavily involved in sports, but when she got to secondary school things changed. “In the story, Storm is talented, but she doesn’t want to do it because her friends don’t want to do it. I think that’s what happened to me as well. If my friends weren’t interested in something, then I wouldn’t do it on my own,” she adds.

And how did Kimberly go from being a teaching assistant to having a novel published?

At the start of lockdown, she attended a creative writing workshop and began the bare bones of her book. “It was surreal how it happened,” she explains. “I loved the workshop and started writing the first chapter. I sent it to an agent and went from there.”

While the prospect of writing a book seems daunting for most of us, Kimberly was lucky that she had personal experience to draw from.“It was easy to write because the story is real. It’s based on experiences that I’ve had in my classroom and it’s something that I’m passionate about. I’m writing book two at the moment, which is not as easy!”

Quiet Storm by Kimberly Whittam is aimed at children aged 10 plus, RRP £7.99, ISBN 9781803708065. Kimberly has a degree in English with Linguistics and a Masters degree in Inclusive Education and Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. She currently works in secondary education and is passionate about giving young people in Manchester space on the bookshelf.

“Being part of a sports team teaches life skills, builds confidence and helps kids to develop a community of friends” SUMMER 2023 - SPORT4ALL FAMILY FIRST M agazine 125
Quiet Storm’s main character is a girl called Storm who is surrounded by a high-achieving, loud and proud family


As a parent and in a different stage of life, it might be hard to remember starting your period … and if you’re a dad reading this, you perhaps find it hard to relate at all. Starting to menstruate can be a difficult time and what’s alarming is that the age when periods start is dropping. You may associate this time of life with secondary school, but increasingly, girls as young as nine are starting their periods.

The other shocking stat is that periods are the number one barrier to girls being active, according to UK-based sports charity the Youth Sports Trust. Periods can cause debilitating cramps that make us not want to be active or physically unable to be active. Even if you have overcome the cramps, there is the fear of leaking or being ‘caught short’ without any period products to hand. When girls first start periods, they can be unpredictable: their timing can be irregular and the flow too, some days heavier than others, for example. This can go on for a while, years in fact, and so the chances of being unprepared while away from home, are high.

That is why the team at We Are Girls in Sport launched ‘Play On’, the campaign for free period wear in sports clubs and venues. Period wear should be like toilet paper. It’s essential for 50% of the population at some point in their lives. We don’t go into public toilets expecting to pay for or request loo roll and we shouldn’t have to pay for period products, ask at the club café or indeed, go without.

We are big fans of the drive towards changing the colour of sportswear away from white. The England football team have switched from white shorts to blue and this year at Wimbledon we may see the strict whiteclothing only rule broken after the LTA (Lawn Tennis Association) woke up to the issue.

However, as anyone who has experienced it will know, if you leak, you leak, regardless of the colour of your shorts and it’s an

unpleasant feeling. Yes, non-white shorts may disguise what a girl is going through, but she’s still feeling it and it’s putting her off her game. And it could be a gamechanger: we know that some girls pause being active when they have their period and sadly, some fall out of the habit of coming ever again. Those girls lose out on all the benefits of exercise and sport has lost a team member, a competitor, a leader and a potential star of the future.

The shorts are dealing with the outcome without tackling the cause. We think it’s more important that girls can deal with their period so that they can just play on. Our survey tells us that girls feel more relaxed when they know there are pads and tampons available at no cost and, crucially, without having to ask, and that means that they will train and compete better too.

Our campaign has seen changes happening at grassroot level, with sports clubs providing free period wear in the women’s toilets and changing rooms, and elite level too (although that’s still TBA!).

If you would like to break down this barrier for girls, head to the We Are Girls in Sport website, click on Play On and have a look at the resources available. Game on. Tampon. Play on.

We Are Girls in Sport (wearegirlsinsport. com) is a global movement for showcasing girls in sport while helping them find a sport they enjoy and want to pursue.

Periods are a normal and natural event for most women and girls, but they shouldn’t get in the way of being able to play sports or keep active. Caroline Kings, co-founder of We Are Girls in Sport, explains why it is campaigning for free period wear to be available in all sports clubs and venues.
The Perfect IntroDUC tion to Swimming Find your nearest class at Our Baby & Pre-school swimming programme teaches independent swimming from birth, helping children to be happy and safe in the water whilst having lots of fun!


A GARDEN explorer

If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, you might not need to go far to discover some wonderful wildlife, says Tom Hibbert from The Wildlife Trusts.

© Emma Bradshaw Red clover © Vaughn Matthews

There are lots of gardens in the UK. In fact, if you joined them all together they would cover more land than all of the National Nature Reserves combined! This makes gardens really important for wildlife. If we create space for wild creatures – with grassy lawns, wildflowers, ponds, trees and other useful features – we can make our own little nature reserves. Even a small wild patch in the corner can make a huge difference for our local wildlife.

Having a slightly wilder garden brings lots of benefits to us, too. It’s especially exciting for animal-loving adventurers – whether they’re young or just young at heart. You can enjoy craft activities like building hedgehog homes, bird boxes or minibeast mansions. Or you can head off on a stay-at-home safari and search for some of the special species that have moved in. Let’s look at a couple of activities that are perfect for young explorers.

Survey like a scientist

There’s more to grass than meets the eye, especially when we let it grow a little longer. To many insects, an unmown lawn is a jungle. There could be caterpillars grazing on grass stems or beetles prowling in search of prey. Even short grass can come alive with beautiful wildflowers. Why not act like a scientist and study the wildlife in your garden?

Here’s an easy way to survey any grassy patch. You just need four pegs or sticks (anything you can push into the ground will do), a ruler or tape measure and some string or wool. Pick a random spot on a grassy part of your garden. Use your pegs and a ruler to mark out the corners of a square that’s 50cm on each side. Wrap your string around the outside of the pegs to finish your square. Now you need to study the area inside your square. Try to identify and write down the names of all the plants, insects and other wildlife you can spot.

You can repeat your survey in different parts of the garden or at different times of day, to see if you find different wildlife. If you do this survey a few times throughout the year, you can see how your garden visitors change over spring, summer, autumn, and winter!

“Having a slightly wilder garden brings lots of benefits to us, too. It’s especially exciting for animalloving adventurers”
moth © Tom Hibbert Light emerald

Here are a few plants

and minibeasts to look out



on your survey

This pretty white flower pops up even in really short lawns. Look for a ring of thin white petals surrounding a sunny yellow centre. It’s popular with lots of insects, like hoverflies and bumblebees.


This is another familiar flower on our lawns. The bright yellow flower balances on a long stalk, with leaves sticking out from the bottom. It’s also a popular pollen source for bees. Eventually the flower turns into a fluffy white globe of seeds –sometimes known as a dandelion clock, which you can blow across your garden.

Red or white clover

Clovers are famous for their leaves. They are usually in clusters of three, but it’s considered good luck to find a four-leaved clover. The flowers are quite round and are red or white, depending on the species. Both red and white clovers are a

favourite of bees and butterflies. Watch them for a while and see who visits.

Tawny mining bee

Did you know many bees nest underground? Look for a little pile of soil with a hole on top, like a tiny volcano. This could be the home of a tawny mining bee. The bee itself is small and very fuzzy. It’s black with thick, foxy orange hair on its back. It lays its eggs in underground burrows and seals them up to keep them safe.

Common field grasshopper

Look out for a little insect springing through the grass. It could be a field grasshopper. Their long back legs give them a powerful jump that would make any superhero jealous. They’re found in short grass that gets lots of sun. Grasshoppers are tricky to identify, but this one has a hairy belly.

Of course, not all lawns are equal. A super short lawn, mown regularly, can be useful for birds that like to pull up worms. But it’s likely to have fewer flowers and minibeasts than a lawn that’s left to grow a little longer. To make your survey more exciting, try to vary the way you cut the grass. You could keep some areas short for playing on or sunbathing, but let other parts grow taller. A mix of grass heights can really bring your lawn to life! We’ve got lots of tips to help in our free Wild About Gardens booklet (

White clover © Philip Precey
Field grasshoppers' long back legs give them a powerful jump that would make any superhero jealous
Dandelion © Richard Burkmar Daisy © Chris Lawrence Field grasshopper © Philip Precey Tawny mining bee © Philip Precey

Moth mysteries

If you have any flowers in your garden, there’s a good chance you’ve seen a butterfly dancing by on a sunny day in spring or summer. But have you ever seen a moth visiting your garden? There are far more moths in the UK than there are butterflies – around 2,500 different species of them!

There are tiny moths that are smaller than your little fingernail and giant moths that could almost cover your whole palm. Some are brown or grey, but others are gloriously multi-coloured. There are pink moths, yellow moths, green moths and even moths that shimmer like brass or gold. There are moths with stripes, spots, speckles and all kinds of fantastic patterns.


moths you could find:

Large yellow underwing

This large moth looks quite plain and brown until it opens its wings, revealing a bright flash of yellow! It loves grassy areas and can be found flying between June and October. This is often one of the most common moths that comes to lights in gardens. Some people can see hundreds in a single night.

Elephant hawk-moth

This is another large moth, though it’s not as common as the large yellow underwing. It has a chunky pink and olive body with matching wings. It flies between May and August in gardens, parks and other grassy places. Elephant hawk-moth caterpillars look like an elephant’s trunk and can sometimes be found feeding on willowherbs.

Mother of pearl

This moth can look a bit drab at first, but when the light hits it right, its wings shimmer beautifully. It flies from June to October, appearing around dusk and often coming to lights. It likes to hang out in nettle patches. Sometimes if you walk past nettles in the day you might disturb one into taking flight.


However, because lots of moths only come out at night, we don’t get to see them very often. Sometimes you get lucky and find one resting on a plant, a fence or a wall – especially close to an outside light – but imagine how many amazing moths you might be missing in your garden. Fortunately, there’s a way to find out. We can survey for moths using light. Some moths are attracted to bright lights – they can’t help but fly towards them. Scientists still aren’t sure exactly why they do this! If we shine a bright light at night, we can attract moths and discover which species are visiting our gardens. Moth experts do this all through the year to count moths and monitor their numbers, so we can work out if our moths are in trouble.

Experts use special moth traps with really bright bulbs, but you can have a go yourself with just a torch and a white bedsheet. All you have to do is hang the white sheet on a washing line or fence, turn off any nearby lights and shine your brightest torch at it. Now you just need to wait patiently to see if any moths arrive. It’s best not to try and attract moths every night, so they have plenty of time to take care of all their moth business – like feeding on flowers and finding a mate.

This moth shares its name with a butterfly and is just as bright. Its vibrant yellow wings have brown markings along the edge. It flies between April and October and can be found in gardens, as well as woodlands and hedgerows. It’s attracted to light, but can also be seen flying around at dusk before it gets dark.

Light emerald

This pretty, pale-green moth has a long white line that runs across all four of its wings. It can be seen between May and September, or sometimes even October. Its caterpillars feed on trees, so it likes woody places, but often visits gardens and is attracted to lights. It spends the day hiding under leaves on trees and bushes.

If you don’t have a garden or you want to experience even more moths, look out for moththemed events at local nature reserves. The Wildlife Trusts and other groups sometimes run moth evenings, where they attract lots of moths to show people. It’s a great way to get a peek into the mysterious world of moths.

You can search for Wildlife Trust events near you at

are a few of the
Elephant hawk-moth © Tom Marshall
“If you have any flowers in your garden, there’s a good chance you’ve seen a butterfly dancing by on a sunny day in spring or summer”
Large yellow underwing © Tom Hibbert Elephant hawk-moth © Tom Hibbert Mother of pearl © Frank Porch Brimstone moth © Vaughn Matthews
FAMILY FIRST M agazine 131
Light emerald © Tom Hibbert



Getting children involved in gardening tasks teaches them about responsibility and patience, while encouraging them to spend time outdoors and connect with nature. Gardening can also help children to learn how to plan and organise their time effectively, as well as develop their sensory skills.

By getting their hands dirty in the garden, children can learn where food comes from and gain first-hand experience growing their favourite fruits and vegetables. Chris Bonnett, founder of ( says:

“Gardening is an incredibly enriching activity for children, as it provides them with an opportunity to learn about nature and the environment, while also building a variety of vital skills.

132 FAMILY FIRST M agazine
“Parents should encourage their kids not to see gardening as a chore”
Gardening is a fun, simple and satisfying hobby to enjoy with your children. The experts at GardeningExpress. have suggested six small and manageable gardening tasks that children can take on themselves.

“Parents should encourage their kids not to see gardening as a chore, but rather a fun and exciting hobby they can enjoy while getting some fresh air. This is especially important in an age where many children are spending more and more time indoors, glued to screens. Carrying out some mini projects together in the garden is a great way to get children excited about gardening.”

1 Grow food they like to eat

Choosing produce that children enjoy eating will make them more excited to put care and effort into growing them. Involving children in the growing process can develop a greater appreciation for healthy foods, especially for children who are picky about eating fruit and vegetables. They can enjoy the fruits of their own labour by eating a meal made from produce they grew themselves.


DIY garden crafts

Carrying out DIY projects in the garden will make it look more fun and will encourage kids to spend more time outdoors. There are plenty of different crafts that children can try out that will also let them express their creativity. Fun projects include making your own garden markers and painting rocks and planters for decorations.

3 Grow microgreens

Microgreens are easy to grow and require very little space, so they can also be grown in small containers indoors. They are harvested just a few weeks after germination, so kids can see fast results. Seeing their hard work pay off quickly can make them feel more motivated to take on more advanced tasks in the garden.


Grow flowers

Create a beautiful flower bed with the kids and let them grow bright and colourful flowers that they can admire and pick once the first blooms appear. It’s best to go for easy and quick-to-grow flowers that will keep them engaged in the growing process. For example, sunflowers are a great option because of their growth rate and the wow factor they provide as they grow taller and taller.


Make a bug hotel

Making a bug hotel is a fun activity that encourages children to use their imagination and creativity. They can use different materials like cardboard, wood, dried leaves and dead grass to make the hotel. Children can also learn to take responsibility for the environment as they create a safe place for bugs to live.


Create a mini garden

The kids can create a mini garden with any materials they can find in the garden and nature. All you need is a container, which can be anything from a pot or bucket to an ice cream tub or an old washing-up bowl. Fill the container with soil and decorate it with different materials that can be found outside, such as twigs, gravel, rocks and small plants to make it look like a miniature garden. FAMILY FIRST M agazine 133

COOL SUN HATS The choice is yours…



Colour-change sandals, recycled swimwear and the coolest sun hats are among our favourite wardrobe updates this summer. By kid’s fashion stylist and founder of @thelittlestylist Charlotte Kewley.

Splash time

Liewood’s swimwear collection is top of our wish list. It features the coolest prints on board shorts (with practical pockets – not just for the pool, they’ll wear them all day), rash vests, swimsuits with or without sleeves, all-inones and basically everything you need for the kids this summer. It’s all made from recycled materials with UPF 40+ and has been tested and passed for not fading in chlorinated water.


Bobux’s new Hinterland collection of timeless, hard-wearing sandals and summer shoes in rustic colours are made for adventures. In the brand’s words ‘for stomping through grass and kicking up dust’. And with Bobux you know you’re getting a quality, comfortable shoe that children will never moan about wearing or rubbing. Sold.

£30 reversible hat, Liewood, Striped floppy
6, from £17 Red bucket hat, Boden, Bobux,, £56 Driftwood caramel sandal, Liewood, swim tee, £32, Board shorts, £30; Bobux,, £56 Roam forest sandal,, £9.99 Straw hat, H&M,, £15 Trucker cap,, £44.95 littleadventureshop. Patagonia at Grey sun hat,

from £34 Boden,, Strawberry dress,

Tomato sweatshirt, £35; shorts, £30, Organic Zoo,

Cherry dress, Next,, from £10

We’re going bananas over the latest trend for fruit print everything. Bringing joy to small wardrobes whatever the weather. Organic Zoo’s tomato print sweatshirt and shorts combo are one of the most practical, effortless, easy looks for unpredictable summer days layered with a light tee. And these dresses, did someone say party?

Toastie takes over summer

AToastie coat is one of the most coveted winter essentials, but now the brand has set its sights on summer. It has introduced a new UV swim collection in bright pastel shades (chosen intentionally to enable parents to easily spot children on busy beaches) and cleverly designed to be comfortable, but also allow a little room to grow. The sun-safe, soft fabric is made from recycled plastics.

Swimwear from £24;

Light layers

We’ve long been fans of Turtledove’s affordable organic clothing, which you can now also buy from Tu at Sainsbury’s! The new summer Homegrown collection is inspired by nature and the light cotton unisex leggings, tees, dresses and dungarees are the perfect light layers for a staycation.

Super sandals

Brand new from children’s outerwear brand Grass + Air are these super cool colourchanging sandals. They can be worn in the water (or rain) to change colour, but the rubber sole also offers great foot support making them suitable for all-terrain adventures.


Grass + Air,, £18 FAMILY FIRST M agazine 135 SUMMER 2023 - FAMILY FEATURE
Leggings, £14, sweatshirt, £24, shorts, £18, Turtledove,

Put their best foot forward

Practical, stylish and comfortable footwear that’s designed to support growing children’s feet.

- SUMMER 2023



Why walk when you can roll?

Heelys are a two-in-one wheely shoe with removable wheels, so you can wear them as 'normal' trainers or clip on the wheels. New for 2023, we tested out the Reserve Ex trainer in Pink/Bisque. These Hi Tops have low-profile wheels and a rubber sole with an abrasion-resistant brake pad. The pink tye-dye design was a big hit with tester Imogen (7) and her only issue was that they were a bit difficult to put on at first – but we find that an issue with most Hi Tops. She got the hang of using the Heelys very quickly and was confident rolling away. Her balance and coordination has definitely improved since using these shoes.


All kids love the satisfaction of being able to put on their shoes themselves. But for some children, this can be difficult and frustrating. Step in Friendly Shoes, which are designed by an occupational therapist. The specially designed footwear helps children who struggle to do up laces, as well as those who wear orthotics and AFOs. The unique zip design opens up the shoe really wide and makes them supereasy to put on and take off. Tester Imogen (7) tried the Adventure Cherry Blossom (above) and was a big fan of the “cool zip” design. We found the trainers hardwearing and they stood up to walks in the woods, tree climbing and outdoor gymnastics.

from £49.99, (pictured Dual Up X2 in Black Rainbow) Friendly Shoes, from £42.99, Levison Trainer in Berry, £35, BGreater Shoes


Designed by a mum who struggled to find affordale widefit shoes for her son, Stomperz Shoes are available in infant sizes 6-9 and go up to wide (G) and extra wide (H) widths. Our tester Charlie, age 3, loved the bright red colour and found the shoes really easy to put on and take off himself thanks to the extra-long velcro straps. His mum Stephanie was impressed with the quality and the reinforced toe caps. Stomperz canvas trainers come in unisex colours: red and grey. “I wish we had found these when my daughter was little, as both my kids have had particularly wide feet as toddlers and we had a nightmare finding wide-fit shoes that didn’t break the bank,” added Stephanie.


We have found our perfect holiday footwear! There is nothing worse than kids burning their feet on hot surfaces or sand while at the pool or beach. Slipfree shoes are soft, flexible and can be worn while swimming. They are rated Sun Safe UPF 50+, non-slip and are made from a quick drying fabric. Plus they come in a huge range of fun prints and colours – with matching swimwear too! Our testers Florence (3) and Imogen (7) have worn them at soft play, swimming pools, the beach and in the garden. They are easy to put on, even for a three-year-old and they are almost completely flat, so take up very little space in your suitacase or swimming bag.

from £46, Zig+Star sandals,



Podiatrist approved, unisex prints, room to grow and a child-friendly design.. yes please. Zig+Star’s sandals offer excellent value for money as they can grow with your child’s feet. Tester Imogen (7) chose the funky Rae Cross-Strap sandal in Khaki Camo Animal and she was thrilled with them. What’s great about these sandals is the three adjustable straps, which give a secure fit, while the high-quality leather meant no rubbing or blisters. We have been looking for a sandal that can cope with running, climbing and a lot of movement – and these definitely fit the bill. The padded insole means they are comfortable to wear all day and Imogen loved the pattern on

from £15.95, Slipfree shoes,

138 FAMILY FIRST M agazine FAMILY FEATURE - SUMMER 2023 including shipping, Canvas Trainers
£29.99 Stomperz Shoes

Help them thrive!

During their early years it is important for infants and children to get enough vitamins and minerals to help them grow and thrive.

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The benefits of modern day boarding

The old-fashioned depiction of boarding school was children being packed off to a stuffy old school, with extra homework as their evening entertainment. But how times have changed! Modern boarding schools provide a home-from-home environment with loads of fun activities, excellent facilities and the chance to make lifelong friendships.

Stress-free after-school activities

Children with a wide range of interests, sports and hobbies spend most of their time being driven to clubs, often grabbing a quick snack in the car before the next activity. Parents and guardians often become taxi cabs, navigating busy traffic to tight schedules, where a club may need to be sacrificed as there just aren’t enough hours in the day. The result is everyone is often tired and stressed.

Lisa Obi from St Peter's School in York says: “Boarders have their Houses nearby as bases for regular snack and drink breaks, go seamlessly and safely from clubs and practice, have time for dinner with their friends and to socialise before bed and a full night’s sleep. Families often tell us that this makes all the difference. Pupils can dedicate time to their pursuits and still have a rested day.”

St Peter’s School, York

St Peter’s School ( has a lively boarding community with a good mix of local pupils, boarders who live an hour or more away, as well as pupils from across the UK and all over the world. They deliberately maintain a good balance so that pupils have a chance to mix with young people they may not otherwise have met. The result is lifelong friendships.

Fettes College, Edinburgh

At Fettes College ( the day does not end at 4pm, as wrap-around care is provided for all students, making the day full and rewarding. The boarding Houses at Fettes are central and make whole school events like House singing and the Mile Run, competitive in a fun way. Weekends for boarders are full and vibrant too with day

students choosing to stay on for these activities. Lifelong friendships are made, trust is fostered, and loyalty forged.

One student says: “I look back on the sense of community and togetherness that the House system fostered in each of us and appreciate how lucky we were to grow up in such a fun and thriving environment.”

The weekend is time to unwind and includes trips such as kayaking or going to watch the international rugby at Murrayfield. The students thrive in sport, as well as academics, and the school provides a healthy balance between work and play. Then, of course, there are the popular ceilidhs, discos and pizza nights.

Box Hill School in Dorking

Box Hill School ( offers a unique home-from-home experience as students are welcomed into a supportive, nurturing community that echoes the atmosphere of a large, happy family.

Weekly boarding students can enjoy everything that full boarding has to offer; the home-from-home environment, care and supervision of qualified House Parents, access to the many co-curricular opportunities on offer at the school as well as supervised study.

There is also the options of flexiboarding, which is a good opportunity if you want to experience what boarding is like and whether it suits your family. Their House Parent staff are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week so you can feel confident that your child is supported and in safe hands.

Why sleep over at school? We speak to three boarding schools across the UK to find out more about the social and emotional benefits of sending your children to boarding school.

Box Hill School is a founding member of Round Square: an international network of like-minded schools, offering your child:

• GCSE, A Level, International Baccalaureate Diploma

• Strong academic results

• Fantastic pastoral support

Scholarship options available FAMILY FIRST M agazine 141 SUMMER 2023 - FAMILY FIRST • 1000iu per tablet • Suitable for vegetarians • Chewable – so easy to take • Yeast, Wheat, Gluten, Dairy and Sugar Free • Sweetened with Xylitol
teeth and gums BioLife is available from our online shop. Tel: 01932 221354 Vitamin D3 Probably the most important Vitamin to take London Road, Mickleham, Surrey @boxhillschool
– protects


Check out our latest supplements for summer 2023, featuring toys and games for the kids, places to visit around the UK FAMILY FIRST 142 FAMILY FIRST M agazine

Want to know what’s hot in the world of toys, games and kids’ entertainment this year… read on! Our popular Play supplement is jam-packed with amazing new products your kids will love, fun ideas for indoor and outdoor play, key advice from industry experts, as well as competitions, colouring and activities.


Thinking about booking a staycation this year? From exploring the nation's wild and wonderful forests to our favourite haunts in the South East of England, plus fun things to do in Portsmouth, Devon and the New Forest, we have got a destination and itinerary to suit every taste and budget.


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