REVIEW: Jamie’s Italian, Cardiff

On a cold Monday night in February it was a delight to go to Jamie’s Italian in Cardiff City centre to catch up with friends and celebrate a birthday….

In terms of location, it couldn’t be much handier, bang smack in the centre of Cardiff and attached to the St David’s 2 shopping/food complex.

As it was dark, I didn’t manage to get any decent photos of the interior to share with you, but it’s big, airy, modern yet full of Italian-style details eg rustic crockery. It was busy and bustling, but felt relaxing and intimate at the same time…

So what did we eat? The three of us of all chose the same starter… Crab and avocado bruschetta (£6.70) which looked amazing and tasted even better! We agreed it was like a flavour explosion with yoghurt, chilli and fennel all complimenting the crab and avocado…. Really delicious and a perfect starter!


crab and avocado bruschetta at jamies italian
crab and avocado bruschetta at jamies italian
Then it was time for the main course, I chose the ‘famous prawn linguine’ (£13.50) and again this was delicious, great egg pasta (made daily on the premises) and lovely flavours of prawn, garlic, chilli, tomato, saffron, fennel and lemony rocket… None of which overpowered each other, it was actually very soothing (comfort food!) Yum!


prawn linguine at jamies
prawn linguine at jamies
My friends had the classic tagliatelle bolognese (£10.95) and something I’d not heard of before but an Italian favourite ‘Turkey milanese’ (£13.50) which is basically breadcrumbed Turkey with an egg on top! All the mains were enjoyed and devoured… I should have got a photo of the empty plates! 

Only negative we could really think of is that the Turkey would have been even better with some potatoes on the side, same reason I plumped for the pasta instead of a Seabass special they had on the board… Can’t eat meat/fish without carbs ;)! They do have fries and garlic bread on the sides menu but I’m surprised they don’t do some kind of crushed potatoes or something?


tagliatalle bolognese at jamies italian
tagliatalle bolognese at jamies italian
turkey milanese at jamies italian
turkey milanese at jamies italian

Now for the dessert course. At this stage one friend ducked out and had a hot chocolate – she told me tell it you was lovely! But the two pregnant ladies carried on 😉 I had the Amalfi lemon meringue cheesecake (£5.45) and it was so good! It was a decent portion but felt nice and light (guessing that’s due to the mascarpone) and it was so good I even ate most of the blackcurrants which I don’t normally like!


lemon meringue cheesecake at jamies italian
lemon meringue cheesecake at jamies italian
  I also had a lovely mint tea to wash it down with. My friend ordered the apple and blackberry pavlova (£5.45) and loved it, I wish I’d tried it as I’d been close to ordering it myself… I’ll have to have it next time… Looks amazing too!
apple and blackberry pavlova at jamies
apple and blackberry pavlova at jamies

So great location and interior, great food and now I have to mention our waiter Nedim. He’s been working there for 5 years which I thought was a good sign and reflects his passion for the food and brand. He told me how he’d lived in Italy for 6 years before moving to Wales and so that explains why he had a good knowledge on Italian food (I never knew fennel was good for digestion!). He was friendly, efficient and knowledgable, thanks for a lovely evening Nedim!
Thank you Jamie’s for a lovely night… Smiles all round and hopefully see you again soon!  

Small print: I was invited to review Jamie’s Italian in Cardiff, and was given vouchers towards the cost of the meal but we paid for the rest ourselves, and opinions are my own! 


REVIEW: Chicco 123 activity centre – baby walker to ride-on*

Baby W was very excited when this big box arrived….


The Chicco 123 is basically a 3-in-1:

  1. A baby walker for babies aged 6 months old up
  2. A push-along ‘first steps’ for roughly 9 months up
  3. A ride-on for toddlers aged 18 months and older

As W was 14 months old when it arrived, we skipped the first step as he would be too big for it – and tried out the ‘first steps’ bit….

Chicco 123 first steps mode
Chicco 123 first steps mode

He went straight for the phone on the activity centre as you can see above and below… he wouldn’t let it go 😉

He quite enjoyed toddling around with the ‘baby steps’ version but because he was already walking confidently by the time we got it, he didn’t really ‘need’ it as a push-along. It would have come in really handy when he really was taking his first steps as I can imagine it’s great for their confidence… feels very sturdy and good to control, not too fast or anything!

I know he’s a little bit young for it but I wanted to try out the ‘ride on’ part so we put that together….

Chicco 123 ride-on
Chicco 123 ride-on

…and he LOVED it! It’s a little bit big for him so I had to push him along but he really enjoyed it and was bouncing up and down for more!

On his tip-toes – a bit big for him

I think it’s great that all 3 parts have the activity centre as the main element – he loved this…


….as well as his favourite element – the phone, it also has a mirror, a panda button and ladybird switch – I think it looks really cute

Chicco 123 activity centre
Chicco 123 activity centre

Now this activity centre also has sounds, but we haven’t experienced them yet as you need a screwdriver to put the batteries in and I have no idea where our screwdriver is! I’m always puzzled why brands insist on this screwdriver thing, they should make products as easy as possible for new parents!

Overall toddler W loved this… I think as he gets older we will get lots of use out of the ride-on, and I think we can officially call the phone ‘his first mobile phone’! Here’s some pros and cons I thought of if you’re thinking of buying it….


  • Great value for money – you should be able to buy it for £69.99 which I think is great considering you get 3 different uses out of it from a little baby to a big toddler!
  • In our case, if I’d got this sooner – I might have been able to do without the jumperoo we bought, and the vtech baby walker – saves you having to buy lots of different things!
  • Looks good, bright colours etc
  • Relatively easy to put together – things just slot together easily (it took me a while but I’m just rubbish at instructions!)
  • Feels safe and sturdy – not flimsy at all
  • Easy to clean as it’s all plastic
  • Height adjustable
  • A really cute function which we haven’t done yet, but we will – you can get a customisable sticker with your child’s name on it to stick on to the front – I think this is  a really cute touch!


  • The biggest negative for me is the size – the baby walker might have been ok in our living room but there’s no way we could put the push-along/ride-on in the house – W would be going round in circles and banging into stuff lots! It’s perfect for us as a garden toy, but our house is just too small for using it indoors – so worth checking the measurements (if you have a big house you don’t need to worry!)
  • Because of it’s size and sturdy nature, it’s quite bulky to put away too – you could take it apart easily but the main frame needs a bit of space even if it’s flat against a wall- ours lives in the shed!
  • Only other slight negative is needing a screwdriver to get the sounds working!

For me, the pros outweigh the cons – it’s really good value for money when you compare it against buying things like jumperoos and walkers separately…. for more information, Chicco have a lovely webpage that describes it better than I did – like the height, security and customisation features!

If you enjoyed reading this, check out more of my reviews here – everything from breastfeeding equipment that I bought to spa treatments…

*Disclaimer: Chicco kindly sent me this 123 to review, but opinions are my own

REVIEW: Novotel Birmingham airport (stay and park and fly)

We stayed here a couple of weeks ago before going away with 13 month old baby W for the first time- so the logistics were very different to our usual holiday arrangements.

I’d usually look for the cheapest hotel/parking airport deal, and end up in a random car park miles from the airport but now for us it’s all about convenience and ease…. and this is why this Novotel must be the closest hotel to an airport ever – you literally cross a road to get to the terminal – awesome!

Here’s a  quick summary:

Check-in process – I’d had an email before arrival asking if I wanted to check-in before arriving, I did this so when we got there we were just handed the key without any forms to fill in – lovely!

Parking logistics etc – as we’d bought the parking package, we were able to pull up right outside the hotel for 15 minutes, unload all of our luggage before moving the car to car park 5 in the airport and then we were able to walk back to the hotel – just a 5-1o minute walk but shuttle buses are also available. When we arrived back from our holiday when we left the car park, we just had to give the Novotel booking reference and they opened the barrier for us and off we went – very straightforward!

Rooms – the photos on their website are very accurate – clean, simple, modern rooms – comfy bed, fridge, TV, kettle etc. We requested a cot and had one, lovely bathroom – all in all, very good! Bearing in mind it’s so close to the airport, we couldn’t hear any aeroplanes – the soundproofing is excellent, as are the blinds – nice and dark!

Bar/restaurant – they have both a bar serving food, and a restaurant. The bar area is lovely – again, modern, spacious, comfortable with TV’s and newspapers there too. As we were having an early dinner, we chose to eat in the bar and the food was ok – nothing special – I had a curry which was tasty but a bit watery. I’m sure the restaurant quality would be a bit better but also as you’re just a minute away from the airport you could stroll over to eat in All bar one or Frankie & Benny’s there.

The only photo I have of Novotel Birmingham airport- baby W tottering around the bar area - he had just started walking!
The only photo I have of Novotel Birmingham airport- baby W tottering around the bar area – he had just started walking!

Other facilities – the other thing I wanted to mention as we were travelling with a little one, is that tucked away around the corner from reception, they have a little play area! There’s a table with interactive games built in, a toy chest and book corner – I thought this was a really nice idea, and lovely touch – not sure if I’ve ever noticed anything like this in a hotel before (not that we’ve stayed in many with Baby W)

Location – as already said, it’s a 1 minute walk from the airport hotel – I don’t think you could get any closer to an airport!

Value for money – I think our package cost about £150 – I think a room only is about £60-£70. Having paid for numerous airport hotels, and parking deals – often separately, I think this deal represents good value for money – overall it’s a really lovely hotel and the location of both the hotel and the car park being on the airport makes life so much easier.

So thank you Novotel for a very family-friendly, good quality and value stay – we will be back!! (PS Readers – sorry for the lack of photos, writing this review was a bit of an after-thought!)

Small print – please note I wasn’t asked to write this review, and certainly didn’t get a free stay – just wanted to share our experience with you!

REVIEW: Cow and Gate’s 5-step weaning plan

I was delighted to be asked to be an ambassador for Cow and Gate’s ‘5 step weaning plan’ and even more chuffed when our box of goodies arrived to go with it!

Cow & Gate goodies!
Cow & Gate goodies!

The ‘5 step weaning plan’ is pretty self-explanatory – it’s a website that helps you wean your baby onto food in 5 easy steps!

  1. Step 1 – first spoonfuls (e.g. baby rice, banana puree)
  2. Step 2 – Introducing breakfast (e.g. porridge)
  3. Step 3 – Introducing variety (e.g. fruit/veg)
  4. Step 4 – Meat/fish/alternatives
  5. Step 5 – Establishing 3 meals a day
5 step weaning plan
5 step weaning plan

I used this on my smartphone and I was very impressed with how good the website looks, and how easy it is – you register with an email address and password and you’re good to go – working through the 5 steps with lots of useful tips and recipes along the way.

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My favourite bit has to be the ‘eaticons’ – cartoon faces you use to rate food to remind you whether your baby liked or disliked something – so cute!!

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If you’ve been following my blog you’ll know that we’ve already started weaning and that we’re trying the baby-led method which involves giving baby W finger food from day 1 e.g. a piece of banana instead of pureed banana. The ‘5 step weaning plan’ is mostly about purees, but I think you can use it like I do and just use ‘proper’ food instead of purees if that’s what you’re doing?

We also mixed up the steps a bit, so we did steps 1 and 3 together (first tastes/variety), then step 2 (breakfast) then step 5 (3 meals a day) and we still haven’t started step 4 yet (meat/fish although we have given him egg as a protein alternative!)

So however you intend to wean, I think you can use this plan as a really useful guide but personally I wouldn’t stress if you go ‘off-plan’! Use it as a guide not as a rule book 🙂  As well as useful tips and recipes, Cow and Gate also email you money-off vouchers for their baby food so it’s definitely worth signing up – register here 🙂

So overall pros and cons…


  • Really easy to use
  • Perfect starting point for weaning
  • Mobile-friendly, lovely-looking website
  • Lots of tips and recipes – you can either make the food from fresh or buy it in jars!
  • Money-off vouchers


  • Not a con as such, but as I said I tweaked it slightly to suit us – the 5 steps might not suit everyone but Cow & Gate don’t say anywhere that you MUST stick to it rigidly!


Some improvements I would love to see Cow and Gate make are:

  • the ability to add your own recipes and foods that you’ve tried e.g. baby W loves rice cakes so it would be great to be able to add that as a reminder – it’s easy to forget what you’ve tried!
  • wouldn’t it be great to turn this into a bit of a community where parents can share their baby’s likes/dislikes and share recipes etc? Now that we’ve started weaning, I notice there’s quite a lot of banter on Twitter about foods to try etc – so I think this website could be a really interactive community for weaning parents

Since our first weaning update, we’ve moved to step 5 (3 meals a day), which I’ll blog about this week including reviewing some of the food that Cow & Gate sent us!

Disclaimer: I wasn’t paid to write this review but I was sent a box of goodies (weaning equipment, food and cuddly cow!) before trying it out

We're going on an adventure

REVIEW: Breastvest (breastfeeding top) including a give-away!

When baby W was born and I started breastfeeding I remember looking into what to wear – should I buy a cape/poncho thing? some special ‘nursing’ tops and dresses? A lot of people recommended the double top method – wearing a vest that you could pull down, while a top over it keeps you covered.

In the end I didn’t buy anything – we had a hot summer, I lived in baggy T-shirts and I quickly became comfortable feeding him out and about, showing my bare belly (and probably more!) in the process.

Fast forward to Autumn and what a great time to review the Breastvest – I’d not come across it before but it’s a vest that basically is missing the top bit where your bra is – it scoops down below your bra, so that when it’s feeding time you don’t have to faff about with pulling your vest up or down. As I said, perfect timing as it’s starting to get a bit nippy so it’s handy to wear this underneath tops that I’d normally wear this time of year, to keep my belly warm!

The breastvest
The breastvest

I can confirm it’s a great bit of kit – works like a treat, I’ve tried it under a few different tops – tight tops and looser-fitting blouses and it looks great and seamless – although might look a bit odd if you wear it with a sheer top haha! The fabric is of good, soft quality and I can imagine it will last quite a while unlike the regular vest tops you might be pulling into all sorts of shapes underneath your clothes!

I know lots of mums feel self-conscious breastfeeding out and about, in part because of their post-baby belly and this could really help with that and hopefully give those mums a bit of much-needed confidence 🙂

It has adjustable straps which is great – I’m short and it’s a lovely length on me, just skimming my bum which I love, I love longer tops!

I honestly can’t think of a negative for this review – they start at £10 (limited edition colours, £15 for black/white) which I think is quite good value, but obviously if you wear it a lot you’ll want to wash it regularly – daily if it gets covered in breast milk! So perhaps the only con is that it could add up if you want to buy a few (although they do sell 2 for £25).

You can buy the Breastvest in a range of sizes and colours (black or white, but they do some limited edition other colours!) at their website but they have also kindly offered me one to give away… all you need to do is enter through Rafflecopter below where it will ask you to leave a comment about other useful breastfeeding items. The winner will be picked at random on November 5th. Only open to UK residents.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I was sent a Breastvest to review. I didn’t receive any additional payment. All views and opinions are my own.

Top 5 apps for new parents

Here are some smartphone apps I’ve found useful over the last few months (as a new mum!) that I hope you will too….

  1. Baby Connect – an app that you can track everything from feeds and nappy changes to milestones and medical information on

You might remember that I first mentioned this app in my breastfeeding story – I found it really handy to track when the last feed was, which side etc. Over time it was crazy to see the overall time feeding go down from about 6 hours a day to a more manageable 2-3! It was also handy to check in the morning how many times during the night I’d been up – however tired I was, I always managed to use the app!

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Now that baby W’s feeds and naps are far more regular, I don’t really use the app any more but like I said I did find it really useful in those first couple of months. It’s an expensive app (£3.99 I think) but it has lots of other features that I didn’t end up using like tracking their weight/height, photos and milestones, oh and nappy changes (I forgot, I did track nappy changes at a time when we seemed to be doing it every 5 minutes!), and you can use it for more than one baby/child.

2. Wonder weeks – keeps track of your baby’s development leaps

This was recommended to me by a friend and I’m so glad. Every time baby W is grouchier than usual, I check the app and I can see he’s in a ‘developmental leap’ and that explains why his mood is slightly different – he’s learning new things and taking in lots of information! I’m not sure how widely these leaps are used e.g. by health professionals – I’d not heard of them before this app – I guess you can think of them as a type of ‘growth spurt’?

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Either way, the app has been bang on so far, and gives lots of info about the leap and what to expect afterwards…. it will be interesting to see if it carries on being so useful as I can see that the start windows (based on baby’s age, by week) become a bit wider so might get harder to tell if he’s in a leap or whether there’s something else happening?

At the moment we’re in leap 5 aka ‘the world of relationships’ where he’s learning about relationships and distances with people and objects… very interesting!

3. 23 snaps and Tinybeans – photo sharing apps

As you know, I don’t post photos of baby W on the blog. I almost kept him off Facebook too but relented in the end and add a few every month or so…. as much as I’d love to show him off, I didn’t want to spam Facebook friends with daily photos of him whereas close friends and family want to see as many photos as possible!

Screenshot from 23 snaps (sorry no baby photos!)
Screenshot from 23 snaps (sorry no baby photos!)

That’s where these apps come in – they’re private social media networks. Upload your photos, and send invites to people who you want to have access to them. All very safe, very easy to use and manage, and ends up being a great online, timelined record of baby’s photos, and status updates! I’ve mostly been using 23 snaps, which I love, and now have just started using Tinybeans too as I won a photobook with them (via Jenna at Tiny footsteps’ review and giveaway :).

Hopefully using these has kept Facebook friends happy at not being spammed… and I know many family members have really appreciated the 23 snaps updates as they’re not on Facebook.

4. Free prints – photo printing app

So you’ve sorted out your online photos, but what about printing them off? I think it’s nice to have an actual copy of photos plus I’d lose all of baby W’s photos if I lost my iPhone so I’ve been using Freeprints to print them off.


There’s no catch – it’s a great deal, you get 45 free prints a month and just pay the postage which is £3.99. For more than 45 prints, you pay £0.09p per print. I’m on my third month and can assure you that the quality is as good as the value! Also, I made a mistake on my first order but Michael from their customer service team sorted it out for me very quickly – great service!

The only downside I’ve found is if you’re uploading a lot of photos, it can take a while but I think that’s probably the same as most other photo printing app

5. Moonpig – greeting card app

This is only relevant if you’re like me and like sending actual birthday cards in the post and not just writing on people’s Facebook walls 😉 This app is great – it’s really easy to use, to upload photos and edit text using one of their templates – within just a couple of minutes you’ve created a personalised card and posted it to the recipient!

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Including postage, cards cost £3.60 which I think is pretty good – a decent card can cost as much as that these days! Saves you leaving the house to ever buy birthday cards again, and these ones are better anyway as your friends and family will be delighted to see your little munchkin on the card!  I’ve used it at least 10 times now – 3 father’s day cards, a wedding and lots of birthdays – I’ve now gone down the prepay route which gives me £5 free credit on a £20 spend!

The only downside I’ve found on this app is that you can only order 1 card at a time – so on father’s day I had to do 3 separate transactions – still only took minutes though 🙂

So there we have it – some of my favourite apps from my early parenting days! What do you think of this bunch? Do you know of any alternatives? What have been your essential apps (apart from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!!)? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below….


Brilliant blog posts on

REVIEW: Bumbo vs Mamas and Papas Snug

The battle of the baby chairs….

Review of the Bumbo vs the Snug
Review of the Bumbo vs the Snug

The Bumbo

This seems to be a must-have baby product. I’d heard about it when I was pregnant and I’ve got to be honest, I didn’t really like the look of it (I always thought it looked a bit too much like a potty for some reason!) but I was aware that I should buy some sort of chair for baby W as he was getting to the age where he could sit up.

The Bumbo
The Bumbo (and our sofa in the background!)

Then one week, they had one at the mother and baby group we go to and I plonked him in it. Instantly, I realised why it was such a must-have item – my little 4month old baby looked so cute and grown-up!

The next day I went to Asda to buy one and my excitement quickly disappeared when I got it home. I liked the way he was positioned in it – hard to explain but baby’s bum is quite low down in it, seems like a nice comfy position. The big downside is I realised that his chunky legs were already quite snug and didn’t allow much (any) room to grow.

Tight squeeze in the Bumbo
Tight squeeze in the Bumbo

I thought I should take it back to Asda as basically it wasn’t going to last very long at all for us! But also, the tray that came with it didn’t seem to slot together – I didn’t want to force it and break it so I thought it was just a duff one but looking at some online reviews since then, it seems to be a common problem. For £40 you expect a bit more!

The Mamas and Papas snug

I’d not come across this until I asked on Twitter about alternatives to the Bumbo and a few people mentioned the Snug. It was on sale for £30 (normally £37) in the recent Asda baby event so I thought I’d give it a whirl.

the Mamas and Papas Snug
the Mamas and Papas Snug

I’m much happier with it – baby W has room to grow into it. (And then the coloured bit comes out so you kinda get 2 chairs for the price of 1, although I suspect as they get older the less they want to sit in it and stay still!)

A bit more room with the Snug
A bit more room with the Snug

Personally, I think it looks a bit more attractive than the Bumbo and to me, it feels like a higher quality product due to the materials used and the finish. The tray slots together easily, I’m looking forward to using it for weaning shortly!

Overall result

In my humble opinion, the Bumbo is an overpriced gimmick – I can’t imagine any baby would be able to use it for more than a month max (they can’t use it too early – you need to wait until they can support themselves etc). The Snug on the other hand, for £10 less, can hopefully be used for a good many months.

I know there are some complaints that babies can fall out of the Snug, whereas the Bumbo comes with a fitted harness thing… but neither recommend leaving your baby unattended so if he does wriggle out of the Snug I plan to be there to catch him!

At the moment, I’m just sitting W in there for 5-10 mins a day (he gets bored of anything after that amount of time) with his favourite toys on the tray and already a week in I can see how it’s helping his development as he’s started moving his neck around to see what’s to the side of him. I’m looking forward to seeing him eating his first meal in it 🙂

Was this useful? If so, I’d love it if you shared it with your mummy/daddy friends on Facebook or Twitter, thanks!

If you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy my guide on the top 9 things to do with outgrown baby clothes, or my epic guide to travelling abroad with a baby/toddler!

Small print: I wasn’t asked to review or write about either product, I paid for them myself and just wanted to share my thoughts with you

REVIEW: Visual Contour medi spa at David Lloyd, Cardiff

I love a bargain, and I love spa treatments – so I snapped up a Living Social deal which was £50 for 2 people to have a facial, neck, back and shoulder massage, a manicure and access to the David Lloyd facilities in Cardiff. My sister and I used the voucher last weekend and here’s my thoughts….

Welcome and ambience

I wish I’d taken photos but the spa doesn’t look particularly inviting, it’s cramped (they’re moving to a bigger space) and busy… the receptionist must have new because she didn’t seem particularly friendly or to know what was going on! A friendly therapist got us to fill in the usual forms and off we went into the rooms which are decorated in quite a ‘bling’ way – lots of zebra print, Marilyn Monroe posters etc…

Massage and facial

These were both lovely! The deal said the facial was an hour long, but actually it was an hour for both (i.e. half hour each). The therapist asked whether I had any problem areas before the back massage (I told her I had knots at the top which were found in a massage earlier on in the week) and she worked well on those and found new knots in places I’d never felt them before! The facial was also lovely but she didn’t ask anything about my skin type beforehand which I found unusual. It was the usual cleanse, scrub and then she left me with a mask on, and an eye mask – very relaxing! My sister said she nearly fell asleep during her treatments, she was so relaxed! Both of us agreed our skin felt great afterwards 🙂


The deal specified that they used Neal’s Yard Remedies’ products and I was looking forward to having these tested on me as I’ve only used their hand cream and plain massage oils. I’m 99% sure that they didn’t actually use Neal’s yard stuff, the facial products all smelt quite fruity e.g. an apricot scrub, whereas I’d expect Neal’s yard stuff to smell more natural as they use essential oils etc. To be fair, I didn’t ask what they use, but unusually for a spa who might want to sell their wares, they didn’t tell me either….


Then for the manicure….. a different therapist, she was young, lovely and chatty BUT she had short, unpainted (fine so far)…… dirty nails! I’m a scruffbag myself so not really one to judge but I’m a bit squeamish about dirty nails, gross!! That aside, I chose the colour and she went to get all my long nails to the same length (they’re all over the place!!) and she couldn’t find any nail clippers!! So I had the rest of the manicure (cuticles done, nails filed and painted) and left with a lovely colour, just a bit odd that they didn’t have any clippers 🙂

Manicured nails @ Visual Contour
Manicured nails @ Visual Contour

David Lloyd facilities

As part of the deal we were able to use the facilities and I was pretty impressed – the Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room were all good… but the best bit is they have an outdoor pool surrounded by loungers… the sun was shining so we sat out there for a bit and it felt like being on holiday 🙂 (As always, wish I’d taken a photo – taking photos for this blog is always an after-thought!) We had lunch there and it was really tasty – I had Moroccan lamb meatballs and sis had some Caribbean chicken thing, both were great! The rest of the facilities looked good – tennis courts, big gym etc and it definitely attracts a certain type of clientele which is what you’d expect when you apparently pay upwards of £75 to be a member!

Overall result I’d happily love to use that outdoor pool again! Although the treatments all had good results, I’m not sure I’d be bothered about using Visual Contour again – for the same price I think there are better and friendlier places in Cardiff.

Have you tried any Groupon/Living Social deals and had a good/bad experience?

Thanks for calling by! Stay in touch by following me on Twitter or Bloglovin

Small print: I wasn’t asked to review/write about this – I paid for it myself and just wanted to share my experience with you

REVIEW: Clarins Mum-to-be spa treatment

When I left work to start maternity leave, one of the lovely gifts I was given by my colleagues was a ‘mum-to-be treatment’ at  Clarins in Debenhams, Cardiff. It’s a busy place (and I had to change my appointment a couple of times) so I only had this last week – obviously I’m not a mum-to-be anymore but they said it would still be good for new mums… and wasn’t it just!

The Consultation

I arrived early and met my therapist Jenna, she went through a good consultation e.g. where I needed focus (e.g. lower back pain instead of water retention which is no longer an issue), how I like my massages (firm!) and what skin-type I have (it’s been a bit claggy since having baby W – I think it’s all the breastfeeding hormones!). We seemed to build a rapport early on, and I think she’d put anyone at ease – she was lovely!

Lovely gift - Clarins mother-to-be treatment
Lovely gift – Clarins mother-to-be treatment

The Treatment

The treatment started with a back massage – despite me saying that my lower back needed the most attention, she found lots of knots in my upper back and tried her best to get them out (I think I need a few more sessions!!).

Then on to the longest part of the treatment – a facial – including cleanse, scrub etc and then ending with a face mask. She tried to use products that I didn’t already have, but even the ones I do have always feels better when they’re applied with a bit of care by someone else!

While the mask was on, she gave me an arm, hand, leg and foot massage which was lovely and if I had have been heavily pregnant the leg rub would have gone down a treat!

The Result

I felt relaxed and glowing afterwards, and I could feel and smell those lovely products on me all day (glad I had it done in the morning!). I’d highly recommend this place – it’s a little oasis in the city centre, and I’d defo see Jenna again.

The treatment costs £49 and says it lasts 1hr 15mins. In total (with the pre- and post- consultation) I was in there for nearly 2 hours which is great value for money! Jenna went through the products and special offers with me but it never felt like a hard sell, she gave me the list to take away.

Clarins vs Decleor mother-to-be treatments  

You might recall that I had a Decleor mum-to-be treatment in Center Parcs – both are similarly priced, both feature a facial and massage with their range of top end products, both were great in terms of the therapists and rooms….. but Decleor’s treatment included a mask for your bump which was a really cute touch and felt lovely! Clarins, take note 🙂

Either way, a lovely treat for a mum-to-be or new mum. Did you have any spa treatments when you were pregnant or as a new mum?

Small print: I wasn’t asked to review or write this, I just wanted to share my experience with you!

REVIEW: Medela Swing Electric Breast Pump

When I was pregnant I remember researching breast pumps and wondering if I would end up using one, if I would end up breastfeeding etc.

During my research, one pump came into online conversation time and time again, which was the Medela swing. Everywhere from Facebook groups to forums hail this as la crème de la crème of breast pumps so I couldn’t wait to try it!

Medela Swing in its packaging
Medela Swing in its packaging

When it arrived even the packaging lived up to its expectations, I love the Medela branding and colours etc. To me it shouts quality and oozes a bit of class! I know I’m already starting to annoy you, but even the instructions were amazing… Why don’t more brands use photos/diagrams, colours and a decent sized font in their instructions?!

Great instruction manual with the Medela swing!
Great instruction manual with the Medela swing!

Anyway I digress, let’s get back to the main event…

How it works/how I use it

The pump comes in a few parts – 4 pieces make up the pump/bottle then you have 2 leads plus the main unit….

Medela Swing parts
Medela Swing parts

It’s easy to put together, helped by clear instructions…. the bottle has a valve system inside it…

Medela swing pump - nearly ready-to-go!
Medela swing pump – nearly ready-to-go!

You need to make sure you wash and sterilise the parts before you put it together as per the instructions. Once you’ve set it up, plug it in and hit the power button 🙂

As with using a manual pump, I didn’t really know what to expect in terms of how it would feel but it felt fine – painless and comfortable! It has a ‘2-phase’ method so it starts pumping as if a baby was suckling, then kicks into the expression mode 2 minutes later – but if your milk/let-down starts flowing within that 2 minutes, you press a button to go into expressing mode early. It has + and – buttons to increase/decrease the vacuum effect – I tend to use the + button to encourage the milk a bit when I’m struggling… and conversely I’ve used it when the milk is flowing well and can go quicker!

Result? In a good session when I have lots of milk in, I can easily express about 400ml of milk. While it’s not hands-free, you only need one hand to operate it so you can be reading/scrolling through the internet/ reading a magazine etc while you use it – essentially it does all the hard work for you!


Result! Pumped milk in the medela swing!
Result! Pumped milk in the medela swing!

A couple of times I’ve looked down and realised my nipple is no longer moving so it’s stopped working – it usually means a bit of my clothing has got in the way which stops the ‘vacuum’ effect from working. Once I realised I hadn’t plugged the cable in – doh!


Easy-to-use, light equipment, comfortable and very effective in expressing milk in an effortless way (especially compared to a manual pump!)

You can use it with batteries, and the main unit has a clip on it – so you could walk around the house doing it etc (you’d just need to keep your hand on the ‘breastshield’ (the funnel-looking bit!) as you do if you’re sat down i.e. it’s not hands-free!)


Probably just me being an idiot but I couldn’t get the UK adaptor bit to fit, so I’m using it with an adaptor plug instead!

If the bottle tilts a bit too much I have had a little bit of leakage – I think this is down to me not closing it tight enough rather than being a design fault but thought I’d mention it so you make sure yours is always closed tight, and always use the stand it comes with when you’re placing it down on a surface!

Other bits

Medela swing bag and accessories
Medela swing bag and accessories

The set also comes with a handy drawstring bag for when you’re out and about (I’ve not taken it out so not used this yet, but you can see from the photo that it’s a decent size – more than enough room for the main unit and all the accessories!)

As I said, you can use it with batteries so in theory is transportable but I’m not sure how discreet it is – I wouldn’t say it’s loud but I wouldn’t say it’s really quiet either – I wonder how mums get on with it when they’re pumping in work etc?

The set also comes with a Medela Calma teat to use as with the bottle. I’ve not used this as we’d got baby used to the Tommee Tippee bottles and I don’t want to confuse him, but I’ve heard good things about the Calma as it’s supposed to mimic the way a baby breastfeeds.

Overall result

I love the Medela swing – I now use it daily so it’s become an essential part of our routine and so much easier than using a manual pump. Even when I had a cold and my milk dried up a little, I managed to express a little using the Swing – although I have no idea how effective it is, if you have problems breastfeeding – hopefully it can help!

The Medela swing retails at around £130 and I don’t think it’s discounted often (or ever!) – this is likely to be a big chunk of your baby budget, but if you’re exclusively breastfeeding then it’s the money saved from not buying formula milk! You can buy it in places like Mothercare and Boots so maybe you could ask family and friends for vouchers towards it 🙂 Also, I think some of these retailers (and NCT) have rental options.

I hope you found this useful, have you tried the Medela swing or any other electric pumps? How did you get on?

Disclaimer: I was given this product in exchange for a review, but views and opinions are my own!