Bentall Centre Father’s Day

On the banks of the Thames and just 12 miles from Central London, Kingston Upon Thames is a vibrant market town and one of the liveliest London boroughs.  Ever since I moved here in 2009 I’ve become familiar with a huge array of shops both independent and high street brands as well as a fantastic riverside dining scene.  Kingston has something for everyone.

The month of June heralds Father’s day which this year is Sunday 18th June. The idea originated in the USA and has been officially celebrated there on the third Sunday in June since 1966.   After a huge struggle with infertility I became a mother and my husband became a father in March 2014. I adore the bond he has with Jay and enjoy treating him to show how much he means to the both of us.

The lovely team at Carousel PA gave me an opportunity to head to one of my favourite shopping centres The Bentall Centre to choose a gift for Father’s day so I knew I was going to be spoilt for choice.  This was the first centre in the UK to adopt a no smoking policy throughout and has been the foremost shopping destination in Kingston for the past 25 years.  Getting to The Bentall Centre is hassle-free. It’s well connected to train lines, bus routes and major roads.  My eyes are always drawn to the beautiful atrium ceiling which is higher than the nave of Westminster Abbey or the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral.  There are over 80 stores and  over 1000 brands with more set to join over the coming months. Click here for a list of all the stores.

It’s fair to say I choose a lot of what Mark wears, he prefers to get my approval!  Therefore after having a thorough browse of the shops I opted for a jersey polo shirt embroidered with the signature Ramskull on the chest from All Saints within the Bentalls Fenwick Store. This item retails at £55.00 and I really liked its simple but classic design. Just hope he enjoys wearing it! If you’re looking for a gift I definitely recommend this shopping centre, I’ve lost count the number of times I have visited!

I completely forgot to purchase a card as I got carried away walking from shop to shop but will be back I’m sure very soon.

The Bentall Centre

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*In collaboration with Carousel PA

Fisher Price Switch & Fix Bob*

Whenever I hear of Bob the Builder I can’t help but think of the English actor Neil Morrissey (I’m currently watching the gripping BBC Drama series Line of Duty).  Neil voiced the character Bob in the popular children’s programme which emphasised conflict resolution, co-operation, socialisation and various learning skills. Bob’s catchphrase “Can we fix it?” with the response “Yes we can!” is still very popular as I hear Jay often blurt it out when I usually break something .

Since a revamp by Mattel in 2014 the setting and appearance of the characters has changed from what I remember. I’m all for encouraging solving problems with a positive attitude and Jay was kindly sent the latest toy from the Fisher-Price Bob the Builder toy range ‘Switch and Fix Bob’ which came with LR44 batteries and suitable for ages 3+.
He particularly likes activating lights and phrases by pressing the helmet which comes with an adjustable welding mask. Recently Jay has really been into construction play and moves Bob to various rooms in the house carrying out his imaginative repair tasks, hopefully he will be really good at DIY one day.
I’d say the tool bits are probably his favourite that come with the rotating tool belt (Jackhammer, Saw and Auger). Although he is able to detach the tool bits he has a bit of difficulty putting them back on the belt sometimes. Must admit I do too with my long nails.  The ‘Switch and Fix Bob’  is available at Argos for £19.99 for the little builders in your home.

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mifold- the Grab-and-Go Booster

I’ve always been a bit baffled when it comes to the world of child seats, sometimes having too much choice can certainly hinder the decision making process. I remember buying my first baby car seat after a long chat with a lady in a department store I left feeling brain frazzled. It’s just a seat yet it’s more than that of course a lot of factors to consider and as a parent to a three year old I am trying to keep up with the ever changing laws on car seats. Recently I got contacted about reviewing the mifold. The first thing I should point out is that this is seat isn’t one that Jay is going to be able to use until he’s 4 years of age but I have heard good things about the product and was curious to find out more.

mifold Grab-and-Go booster seat is a Group 2/3 Universal child restraint system used by children from the weight of 15kg. It is more than 10x smaller than a regular child’s car booster seat and has been crash tested successfully in certified facilities around the world. It’s just as safe as regular booster seats and meets the highest legal standards for child restraint systems and is approved by the European regulation R44.4  suitable for children from the age of 4 all the way up to 12 years. UK law requires that all children must use the correct child seat until they are 12 years old or 135 cm in height (which ever comes first).  

I like the fact that from the moment I took it out of the box the seat felt very lightweight and I can see how portable and practical it is especially if you have a smaller car. It’s great for taxi rides, car rentals 3 in  row seating. While a regular Booster lifts a child to be in the position of an adult the mifold system does the opposite and holds the seatbelt down.

Although it does look really small I can see it is durable with a hard outer case and the cushion seat with supportive dense foam making it easy to clean as we know children can be messy!

The instructions seemed easy to follow, select a width setting depending on the size of the child and then place the seat against the seat back of the car. The seat belt is then fed through the guides and fastened and a mifold shoulder clip is attached to the seat belt. mifold is available in the UK from John Lewis and other selected retailers for £49.95.

John Sumroy is the inventor of this portable cat seat, you can read an interview here and his vision is to ensure that a child can always be safe no matter whose car they are in. This is particularly useful when hiring a car or where you need to travel by taxi. We will definitely be using this next year I still can’t quite believe its smaller than an iPad!

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*The product was provided to me for this review. As always, all my reviews are 100% honest and all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Fisher Price Thomas & Friends TrackMaster Demolition at the Docks*

I have yet to come across a toddler that has never heard of Thomas the Tank Engine, I certainly remember watching the series in the early 90s and since then of course kids tv programmes have gone all fancy with their special effects. W. Awdry created the original toy model of Thomas the Tank Engine, which inspired the character, soon after the first book of stories was complete.

I think Jay was probably 12 months old when we first bought anything from the Thomas & Friends toy franchise but to this day he is fascinated with vehicles, cars, planes, rockets and of course trains. I’ve said many times that our house looks very much like Hamley’s toy store but it was nice to be sent the latest product from the Fisher Price Thomas & Friends suitable for toddlers ages 3+, retailing at £24.99 and is available here.

I was intrigued by the title of the product and when we opened the box we found the following features.  The set contains Cranky the Crane and the idea is that the motorised Thomas train goes around the track, passing the swinging  cargo on Cranky’s hook which can knock into the warehouse demolishing the building. Thomas can then race through the wreckage.

I have to say that although all the items are of good quality I was perhaps expecting a few more features to engage more interest.  Saying that Jay has been playing with the set and likes watching Thomas go around the track. I think if there was a few more buildings perhaps that could be added this would be much more appealing but then additional train sets and track packs are sold separately.

The ITV television series which premiered in 1984, Thomas the Tank Engine has since become the face of a franchise of toys, television programmes, books, and more. Not just a train, but a friend, Thomas is a special train that children love and remember for a lifetime.

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Tragic events happen everyday to good people all over the World.  A few weeks ago I watched the heartbreaking interview with Lucy Alexander on ‘This Morning’ on ITV whose son Felix sadly took his own life after years of being bullied and teased because he was not allowed to play a violent video game Call of Duty.  The World has changed so much and so quickly since my teenage school years. I genuinely feel grateful that I grew up without social media. It can bring people together and yet can cause irrevocable damage.  My school years were thankfully good and although I have experienced some bullying in my earlier years I would go to school not in fear.  Bullying then I felt was left at the school gates. Now of course it can follow young people day and night due to phones and other electronic devices. I watched this interview while young Jay sat next to me playing with his toy train set. That pure innocence will one day be gone he will be aware of the awful things that go on and will I be able to protect him. I watched the interview with a heavy heart and can’t help but worry about what my son will face as he enters his school years. I know I am not alone in thinking this.  This mother has lost her son in awful circumstances and it’s shattered their lives while the bullies go on with theirs. I admire her for the courage she shows in raising awareness.

Young people see lots of things online but are too young  to have the maturity to deal with events.  I think I was 32 when I started using Facebook and  my teenage years were about going to school, hanging out with friends sometimes heading into town going shopping , cinema and basically having a laugh. I was 18 when I first bought my own mobile brick like Nokia phone capable of holding  some text messages which you had to keep deleting to make room for more and two games I think.

As a vlogger I have see vile comments made by online trolls, it’s sad to think there are people who do this not really thinking about the consequenes of their words. There is that saying sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me… but the reality is that words can kill. If you are a parent I urge you to read this open letter.  I also think schools should be showing this interview to pupils.

Here is Lucy Alexander’s letter to bullies, parents and schools in full:

On April 27 2016 our beautiful 17-year-old son took his own life. He decided to do this because he could not see any way to be happy. His confidence and self esteem had been eroded over a long period of time by the bullying behaviour he experienced in secondary education. It began with unkindness and social isolation and over the years with the advent of social media it became cruel and overwhelming. People who had never even met Felix were abusing him over social media and he found that he was unable to make and keep friends as it was difficult to befriend the most “hated” boy in the school.
His schoolwork suffered and he found school a daily struggle. He changed schools for 6th form, something he would not contemplate before, as even though he was miserable he was also terrified of the unknown and was sure that because he felt he was so worthless, another school would make no difference.  He did make friends at his new school and the teaching staff found him to be bright, kind and caring.  He was however so badly damaged by the abuse, isolation and unkindness he had experienced that he was unable to see just how many people truly cared for him.
I write this letter not for sympathy, but because there are so many more children like Felix who are struggling and we need to wake up to the cruel world we are living in.  I am appealing to children to be kind ALWAYS and never stand by and leave bullying unreported.  Be that one person prepared to stand up to unkindness. You will never regret being a good friend.  I have been told that “everyone says things they don’t mean on social media”.
Unkindness is dismissed as “banter” and because they cannot see the effect of their words they do not believe there is one.
A quote I saw on Facebook recently resonated with me and I think is worth thinking about before posting anything on social media. Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?  Our children need to understand that actions have consequences and that people are wounded, sometimes fatally by these so called “keyboard warriors”.  Not all children participate in online abuse, but they may be guilty of enabling others to do it.  They do this by not reporting it, by not supporting or befriending the child being abused, which just validates the bully’s behaviour.  I appeal to teachers to look out for signs that children are struggling. Poor grades or poor behaviour may signal a child crying out for help.  Listen to parents who may report problems and monitor their social interactions.  Are they sitting alone at break time or lunchtime? Are they particularly quiet or are they perhaps too loud?  I do not expect teachers to be psychologists but they have a unique overview of children’s lives and they are able to recognise a difficulty early and help signpost towards help.
Education is a vital part of change. Children need to be shown from a very early age the necessity of kindness to each other.  Incorporate these valuable lessons into the PSHE programme early in a child’s school life.
They all have smart phones at a very young age and it is vital that they are guided on how to use them responsibly and kindly.  Finally I appeal to parents. Please take an interest in what your children do online. Find out what social media platforms they are using and be sure that their use is appropriate and kind.  We don’t like to think that OUR children could be responsible for being cruel to another child, but I have been shocked by the “nice” kids who were responsible in part for Felix’s anguish.  Even if they only say something horrible once, that will not be the only person who will have said something that week.  Group chats can be a particular problem and they can disintegrate into hate fests very easily.
It is too simplistic to say “Why don’t you just block them? You don’t have to read it!” This is the way young people communicate now and many are actually are losing the ability to communicate effectively face to face.  On several occasions we removed all form of social media from Felix as it was causing so much distress, but that just isolated him further and he felt that it was a punishment and not a protection.  Look at your children’s Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Googlechat and Facebook. Help them understand that if they are writing or posting something that they would not want you to read then they should not be doing it. Help them self-edit before they post. What are they watching online in their bedrooms? Children are witnessing a warped form of reality as violence and pornography are being “normalised” by their ease of access. We have a collective responsibility to prevent other young lives being lost to unkindness and bullying.
You may see that I have repeatedly used one word in this letter and I make no apology for this.
The word is kindness. I said this at our son’s funeral. Please be kind always, for you never know what is in someone’s heart or mind.
Our lives have been irrevocably damaged by the loss of our wonderful son; please don’t let it happen to any other family.

Family charity BullyingUK has given advice on how children and young people can help if they see someone being bullied.

  • Tell a teacher
  • Go with the person being bullied and back up what they say to the teacher
  • Tell the person being bullied that you will help them to tell their parents
  • Tell your parents what has happening and ask them to have a quiet word with your head of year
  • Agree with your friends that you will all make it clear to the person doing the bullying that you do not like what they are doing
  • Keep a diary of what you see going on so that you can give a teacher a reliable account of what has been happening
I am going to finish this post with a quote from my favourite author. The one attribute that I look for in friends.

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