Ferry Fun to Jersey! By Suzanne and Dave aged 40 something, George age 7 and Ruby age 4.

Need some inspiration with the Summer Hols upon us? Jersey is amazing and the ferry trip was so much fun – really felt like the start of the holiday rather than a journey to be endured! Highly recommended!

Everyone was very excited about our mini-trip gbphoto-2to Jersey although life had been so busy in the run up I suddenly realised the night before I hadn’t really had time to prepare or plan.  I needn’t have worried.  Packing was a breeze, not having to worry about a number of bags and weights and sizes we just chucked everything in the car!  The journey to Poole was pretty smooth although roadworks delayed us meaning we were later arriving than the ‘1 hour in advance’ advised. I started to get a bit panicky, remembering stressful airport check-ins, security delays, queues etc but again I needn’t have worried. We were met by a series of charming, professional Condor staff and before we knew it were comfortably on board, drinking coffee, as the ferry glided off.

We didn’t sit still for long however, such was the excitement of being on-board. We spent the next hour+ exploring the decks, enjoying the views, waving at other boats and taking in the sea air. The kids loved it! Then there was lunch, a wee bit of mooching in the shops and then the kids settled in the fab little cushioned area to watch a film and relax after all their fun.

jerphotoBefore we knew it we had arrived!  We embarked, swiftly and efficiently once again and in less than 10 minutes we had arrived at the hotel. No waiting for luggage, no delays, no long tiresome walks through airports without the buggy. We felt refreshed and energised after the journey which was a welcome change from the stress and weariness flying with small children can sometimes bring.

The hotel initially worried me as we piled in with 2 excited kids, various Toy Story characters and a football – it was so beautiful and tranquil – but we couldn’t have been given a warmer welcome. The Cristina is positioned in an enviable location with a 180 degree vista of the sea and breath-taking views. The staff were so kind – nothing was too much trouble and the food was amazing. My children are still talking about the breakfast!  There was a great terrace – a real sun trap with amazing views – perfect for early evening drinks and the bar even had a toy box and mini library! There was a modest but perfectly adequate outdoor pool and sun bed area. The pool was cold but the weather had been so poor we were not surprised and the kids had their wet suits and so they were happy!

jersP1020451jersP1020458The room was well appointed – quite ‘cosy’ for the 4 of us with a small bathroom but fine just for 2 nights. There was a small balcony area with chairs and again, stunning views. It was a short walk through the hotel gardens to the most amazing park (Coronation Park where we could have spent all day!) and the fabulous beaches abundant with shells and driftwood and so much space……..and the sun shone and shone!

We also enjoyed a fabulous day to the aMaizin Maze and Adventure Park as part of our visit. This offers an incredibly well designed and managed family day out with activities ranging from Petting Zoo to Go-Carts to water bomb wars!  Although we were there on Bank Holiday weekend, there was no over-crowding or long queues, the food was excellent and sensibly priced and the staff friendly, attentive and committed (very different to similar places we have visited elsewhere!)  I would suggest that as long as you have dry weather this is a ‘must visit’ for families to Jersey. We were there for nearly 7 hours and didn’t run out of things to do and the kids are still taking about it!

Jersey is a wonderful place for families. There’s so much to do but it’s small enough to feel very accessible and of course the wonderful thing about travelling by ferry is having your own car to explore with. The scenery is beautiful, quite rural and felt like a wonderful combination of France and Devon and the warmer climate makes such a difference.

The Ferry back was an evening crossing where the ‘film room’ came into its own more than on our way out but that was fine. We had a very enjoyable trip once again, a nice meal and even got back ahead of schedule!

Our trip to Jersey has been one our most favourite family breaks ever – yes we were blessed with the weather but with so much to do and such a lovely ‘feel’ to the Island we will definitely be back!

Stephanie Cracknell – Improving your child’s chances of success in Maths by making it FUN!

Maths has been in the news a lot recently. Just on the BBC website, there are stories on schools and universities dumbing down maths, Carol Voderman reporting on how to improve maths teaching in schools and last month a report saying ‘sums tables not needed for maths success in primary schools’:

At Mathemagical parent and toddler classes we want to give children the best possible start in what is perceived as one of the most difficult subjects at school. The first thing that children learn is that maths is fun! We want our children to go to school knowing and believing that maths is just as fun and exciting as music and singing, dance, drama, gymnastics, arts and crafts. They are exposed to a superb range of mathematical toys, resources and games. One minute they’re wearing frog masks and singing ‘5 little speckled frogs’ jumping into the pond, the next they’re running from one side of the hall to other counting out loud as they run. They work in small teams on the floor to solve a puzzle together then jump up and run around together sorting different sized balls into hoops. There’s 20 minutes of free-play where children choose which mathematical toys they want to play with and finally finish with our ‘count-down’ by pretending to be rockets and running madly around the room (and that’s just one lesson)! Each half-term covers a different theme: Sorting and Ordering, 2-D Shapes, Measures, Addition, 3-D shapes and Subtraction and in every lesson not only do we practise out counting, but we teach children what those numbers actually mean.

We’re really excited to be at the Brighton Baby Expo for the first time. Come and visit us at stand 241.

Watch out short video and get more information at www.mathemagical.co.uk


RIP Guy Lewis – father to 3, husband to Hanna and Gymboree Brighton Owner and Manager……

Yesterday I had the privilege to join many others to say goodbye to Guy after his tragic and unexpected death earlier this year.

It was a beautiful, emotional service with some very moving tributes and music choices including ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ at the end, which at least made us smile – so very Guy. We were reminded in the service of many things about Guy not least his kindness, his unbounding energy and commitment to everything he did, his love and passion for his family and his continued drive to ‘seize the day’.

Guy and Gymboree at BabyExpo

This morning, like many I expect, I have woken feeling sad and a little numb having witnessed at 1st hand the pain of the parents who have lost their son and the wife and mother whose 3 tiny, beautiful children will grow up without their lovely dad. I can only imagine how they are coping.

I first met Guy about 7 years ago – I was new to the area, a very new mum and a bit of a disaster really. Motherhood had not panned out quite as I had planned – I seemed to spend my days as a sleep deprived zombie, often covered in sick, I was incredibly lonely and felt a failure on all counts. Then I signed up to Gymboree and suddenly I could start to see some light. Guy would greet you with a massive smile or a hug, little ones were enchanted by him and when we first met I couldn’t believe he didn’t yet have children of his own such was his rapport with the whole class. As with many kids’ activities, I met other mums and made friends, we had a purpose to our day (even if it did take 2 hours to get out of the house) and George loved the classes – he came home stimulated yet sleepy (yay) and he loved meeting the other babies and toddlers. Guy’s warmth radiated and the classes were an oasis and we grew alongside Gymboree.

Gymboree at BabyExpo

Yesterday there was a mention of the thousands of parents who had come into contact with Guy over the 8+ years he ran Gymboree and I hope he knew how important he was. I now know many mums felt the same as me in those early stages of baby and toddlerhood and such classes DO become a lifeline.

BabyExpo is hosting the What’s On 4 Junior awards with Konfidence this year – these awards reward and celebrate the very best activity providers and as always I am so moved by some of the testimonials from nominating parents paying tribute to those class leaders who made such a difference to their and their child’s lives and development.

So, if your lives were enhanced by a fabulous activity, community volunteer, party entertainer or class do make sure you nominate them in the What’s On 4 Junior Awards – just click here – there’s a category for everyone from ‘Best pre/post natal’ to ‘Best after school club’ and you could win 2 tickets to join us at BabyExpo for the champagne awards on June 30.

There’s just a month until nominations close so seize the day and do it now ;-)

Guy on the main stage at BabyExpo with Lucy Piper, Jo Tantum and Phil Gallagher from Cbeebies Mister Maker

I am delighted that Guy’s legacy will live on in Brighton with Gymboree continuing to run under the care of widow Hanna and class leader Bobby and you can see them at BabyExpo on June 30 alongside further Headline Sponsors Sing & Sign, Water Babies and Busy Bees. Guy will be there too in his own way I am sure.

Ho Ho Ho

George and Ruby and the Notcutts lights!

Very Merry Christmas from all at What’s On 4 and BabyExpo.

There’s no question, I love this time of year. As soon as the leaves start to turn and the evenings draw in I am itching to get at the tinsel and make sure the Turkey’s on order. Suddenly it’s upon us however, faster than you can say jingle and all the sentimental notions go by the wayside as, with the opening of each advent window, the pressure mounts, especially on mums.

I don’t know about you but the older the children get, the more mad the season becomes. Time seems to be at its most limited this time of year as we are all pulled from pillar to post – it’s all enjoyable, don’t get me wrong – school fairs with donkeys and ice rinks, beautiful carol services, drinks with good friends, parties, pantos but it’s manic. This year after a roller-coaster few months I actually can’t wait until the BIG day when we can I hope breathe a sigh of relief and just sit back and enjoy. To that end I told our extended family early on they could either host, feed and water us all or we’d stay home alone enjoying what we wanted to eat, possibly even in front of the telly all day in our PJ’s! And either option is wonderful.

Saturday we have 1 x diddi-dance party, 1 x nursery Xmas Fair, 2 x santa visits, 1 x tennis Christmas party, ‘Festive Fun’ at our local library, no doubt some final hectic trawling of the shops and 2 grown up parties and there’s at least 2 times when I am supposed to be in 2 different places at exactly the same time …….you know the drill I’m sure…..

‘All I want for Christmas’ is a rest therefore, a break for everyone from the fun and frenetic build-up and some quality time with my little family while they are small enough still to adore the magic of it all. As with most homes the Christmas tree is our focus and I know our happiest times will be curled up in the warm by the tree, opening presents, watching TV and probably eating far too much chocolate. Ruby was entranced by the tree this year with the fabulous lights from Notcutts and George is enjoying very much being in charge of all the different settings – from static to strobe – depending on our mood!  Check out all their lovely Christmas stuff here – http://www.notcutts.co.uk/Christmas/S/C – (we especially like the look of the snowflake projector!)

Have a lovely cosy, restful Christmas and a fabulous, sparkly new year…….

With tons of love,

Suzanne & team xxx

Our wonderful Headline Sponsors & Supporters

We are delighted to be welcoming Gymboree, Sing & Sign and Busy Bees as our headliners this year! BabyExpo will also be supported once again by The National Childbirth Trust and Humphrey’s Corner! Mums, dads, little ones, parents to be, friends, families and baby planners will all be heading to Brighton June 30 – will you be joining them?

Gymboree - With over 550 locations in 30 countries, Gymboree Play and Music are the Global leaders and experts in early childhood development. We know children. We know what works, what engages, and what is appropriate for the many different developmental stages between birth and age 5. Gymboree has published its own best-selling books on “learning through play” and develops its class curriculum with the involvement and input of experts from around the world.

Gymboree’s commitment to quality is unsurpassed and every day thousands of parents and carers across the UK choose Gymboree because they want the best for themselves and their children. Gymboree classes utilise a unique and impressive combination of music, movement, props, imaginary play and custom-designed and patented apparatus, all to create a fun and magical world where children learn, thrive and most importantly have fun.

Gymboree Play and Music Brighton, Winner of ‘What’s on 4 Little Ones’ “Best National Pre-Schooler Development Activity” 2012, 2011, 2009 and “Best Children’s Party Entertainer” 2012 – will they win again? With the 2013 What’s On 4 Junior awards taking place at BabyExpo this year they’ll be in the perfect position to find out!

Call us on 01273 772900 or visit www.gymboree-uk.com

Sing & Sign

Have you heard of baby signing? It’s a wonderful way to help your baby communicate and more importantly, encourage speech. Sing and Sign teaches baby signing through music and rhyme … so it’s easy to pick up, and good fun too!

Babies use all kinds of gestures as a natural part of learning to talk! For example they may point, clap their hands and wave. Now is a good time to help this blossoming communication, by introducing some extra gestures like milk, more, change nappy or tired, in fact any words your baby may enjoy. It’s easy to do and wonderfully rewarding. You will be amazed by what your baby is capable of telling you before being able to talk.

Sing and Sign is Britain’s best loved and longest running baby signing programme and was developed with the help of Speech and Language professionals to encourage your baby’s speech.

Sing and Sign offers a variety of ways to learn.  Our award winning classes run across the country, we also offer an online learning facility and DVDs and products to learn from at home.  Visit www.singandsign.co.uk so you and your baby can enjoy the wonderful benefits baby signing can offer!  Sing and Sign – The original British Baby Signing Programme – www.singandsign.co.uk

Busy Bees

Busy Bees has been offering quality childcare for 30 years and is the UK’s largest childcare provider with 214 nurseries across the UK.  Every member of staff strives to provide exceptional childcare which gives parents that vital peace of mind.  The safety, welfare and happiness of their children is at the core of everything they do and they provide safe, nurturing environments where their children’s social, physical and emotional needs can be met on an individual basis.  Their nurseries are designed to create stimulating and safe spaces to suit the needs of children from 3 months – 5 years*.

Airy, bright play rooms and innovative outdoor play areas are filled with up-to-date indoor and outdoor equipment and age-appropriate toys. Their in-house chefs provide delicious and nutritious home-cooked meals and their staff endeavour to make every meal or snack time a fun, social and special occasion for their children.  Busy Bees promotes the development of creativity, individuality and self-confidence. For further information please visit www.busybees.com

*please note that some Busy Bees nurseries offer a ‘before/after school club’ for school children up to the age of 12 and some are currently running a baby club where babies, along with their carers, can visit from birth. For more on Busy Bees see – www.busybees.com


our new BFs at two-d studios

We so enjoyed working with David and Dan at two-d studios at the ExpoMK. If you haven’t seen their great shots check out our facebook page here http://www.facebook.com/babyexpouk or see their gorgeous images taken at the show in the ‘Face of BabyExpo’ competition – some real models in the making here - vote for your fav now! To learn lots more about two-d visit their website – http://www.remembernow.co.uk/ or http://www.facebook.com/pages/Two-d-Studios-Ltd

‘Being such a young company, we at Two-d Studios were incredibly excited to have an event like BabyExpo brought to our area by the brilliant team at What’s On 4. It was an opportunity that we could not miss and enabled us to show the people of Milton Keynes and the surrounding areas that we were on their doorstep and our fresh take on family portrait photography.

The show ran brilliantly for us – we were busy from start to finish, having lots of fun taking pictures for 150+ families at no charge as well as roaming the event, capturing some of the engaging moments between attendees and exhibitors. We thoroughly look forward to the next event and hope to see everyone again – along with the new wave of arrivals to local families!’

Top tips – when photographing children, from new-borns, toddlers and even teenagers it is always our priority to capture their character. This may be a cheeky look they often pull or a natural smile while they laugh. The important factor for us is natural. Without this, images become forced and photo shoots become mundane and stale.

Our philosophy is that you are not there to be bored or forced into a pose so why don’t we all just relax and have fun? We’re more than happy to make fools of ourselves for your children so that you can get that natural smile that will live forever.

Here at two-studios we love taking pictures of growing families – from bumps to teenagers! Why not consider a family shoot for Christmas? They make great gifts and we are honouring our BabyExpoMK event promotion until Christmas! This includes a £40 full 90 minute studio session voucher and 8″x10″ free framed image for JUST £10!!!

Make sure you check out the finalists for the Face of BabyExpo competition.  To vote for your favourite and they could win a beautiful RIO 28″x28″ frame with a print or collection print from their free studio session with us!

See you soon & get voting!