Encourage a love of reading!

Encourage a love of books and reading from an early age by regularly sharing books with your baby or toddler.

Mr Men A Rainy DayMr Men on a Farm

We’ve two copies of these wonderful new Mr Men stories to giveaway. To enter the competition all you have to do is to comment on our Facebook post why you love Mr Men books.

make time

Make time every day to read with your child. Children love to be read to and bed time is the ideal opportunity to wind down together. Switch off your phone, the TV or computer and find somewhere quiet without any distractions.

choose a book

Do ask your child (if they are old enough) to choose a book. Sharing books with your toddler has chosen shows you care what they think and they are more likely to engage with the book.

sit together

Find a comfy, cosy spot so that you can sit close together. Look at the book together. Encourage your child to hold the book or help turn the pages. Even babies that are too young to understand the story will be soothed and calmed by your voice when you share a book with them.

talk about it

Talk about the book together. Point at the pictures and encourage them to tell the story by looking at the pictures. This will help children understand relationships and helps develop language skills before they learn to read.

make it fun

Use funny voices and expressions to make your time together fun. It doesn’t matter how long you read together as long as you both enjoy it.

Top Spring 2016 fashion trends!

Spring is finally here and the sun is shining (well at least sometimes!) so it’s time to pack away your winter woollies and heavy boots and get your wardrobe ready for warmer weather.

To get you in the mood, here’s our round up of the latest style trends for Spring 2016.

Prints

Combine a bomber jacket – the “must-have” item this Spring/Summer – with a gorgeous summery print.

Image of a Zara print bomber jacket

Zara 59,95€

Dark Denim

Denim is a fashion staple but if you buy anything this spring opt for dark denim to update your look.

Image of a dark denim blouse from ASOS

ASOS 29,99€

Pastels

Pastels go vintage this spring. Choose antique cream, rose pink or the palest of blues. Look for extra textural interest with lace or chiffon.

Image of a pale blush blouse from Anthropologie

Anthropologie 113,00€

Modern Utility

Think sleek, modern and minimal for this spring season’s utility look. Earthy shades such as khaki are a must.

Image of a utility style jacket from M&S

M&S 56,95€

Brights

Go for a colour clash. Wear orange and red together and soften the look with neutrals in vanilla, salmon pink, denim or khaki. If you can’t face wearing bright hues all over then accessorize.

Image of Boden bright coloured sandals

Boden 159,00€

Top Spring 2016 fashion trends

Spring is finally here and the sun is shining (well at least sometimes!) so it’s time to pack away your winter woollies and heavy boots and get your wardrobe ready for warmer weather.

To get you in the mood, here’s our roundup of the latest style trends for Spring 2016.

Prints

Combine a bomber jacket – the “must-have” item this Spring/Summer – with a gorgeous summery print.

Image of a Zara print bomber jacket
Zara £49.99

Dark Denim

Denim is a fashion staple but if you buy anything this spring opt for dark denim to update your look.

Image of a dark denim blouse from ASOS
ASOS £26

Metallic

Add some drama to your wardrobe with metallics. There are plenty of sparkling, shiny skirts to be had but footwear is the easy way to add some luxe. Keep it flat and you will be bang on trend. 

Image of metallic trainers
Harvey Nichols £270

Pastels

Pastels go vintage this spring. Choose antique cream, rose pink or the palest of blues. Look for extra textural interest with lace or chiffon.

Image of a pale blush blouse from Anthropologie
Anthropologie £78

Modern Utility

Think sleek, modern and minimal for this spring season’s utility look. Earthy shades such as khaki are a must.

Image of a utility style jacket from M&S
M&S £45

Brights

Go for a colour clash. Wear orange and red together and soften the look with neutrals in vanilla, salmon pink, denim or khaki. If you can’t face wearing bright hues all over then accessorize.

Image of Boden bright coloured sandals
Boden £119

Outdoor fun with kids!

Half term is here for most of us. Hooray! The days are getting longer so it’s time to blow away the cobwebs and get back outside. Kids love being outdoors whatever the weather plus it’s great to get them away from the distractions of the digital world. So we asked Anna and Becky who set up Wild & Wonderful,  a company specialising in quality outdoor toys, games and activities, to give us some inspiration for outdoor fun this half term.

1. Build a Den!Den building (2)

What child doesn’t love building a den? In the garden, in the woods, at the park – what better adventure for a little one than constructing their own little space in the wild? Thanks to Storm Imogen, you won’t need to go far to find fallen branches and large sticks to use in your construction. You’ll just need to find one sturdy low branch, trunk or wall to act as the support, then get building. But be warned – a den will spark all kind of imaginative games, so be prepared to stay for some time!

2. Geocaching

If you haven’t heard of geocaching, it’s basically a real-world treasure hunt where you search for a hidden container using GPS co-ordinates. There are now over 2 million geocaches all over the world, so there will undoubtedly be at least one near you. These treasures could be hidden anywhere – in a forest, at a local park, at the beach, by the side of the road, or even under water. There’s no telling what might be inside! For more information visit to www.geocaching.com

3. Nature TrailNature Trail3

Turn any woodland walk into an adventure with your very own nature trail. There’s plenty of wildlife around at this time of year to excite little ones. You might be lucky enough to come across a blanket of snowdrops or early daffodils, or try turning over a large stone or log to find spiders, woodlice and worms scuttling and slithering away. Send kids on a mission to collect as many different shaped leaves as they can. Or Wild & Wonderful have a fantastic Nature Bingo game (£18.99) to add an extra competitive edge.

4. Spring Picnic DSC_0315

Who says picnics are just for summer? As long as everyone is wrapped up warm and prepared for changes in the weather, a picnic is a fun thing to do any time of year. So fill up a Thermos, pack some hearty grub and set off on an adventure to find the perfect picnic spot.

5. Beach Art

If you’re taking a trip to the beach, how about creating your very own piece of beach art? Little ones will love hunting for pebbles, shells, seaweed and driftwood, then working together to design something wonderful. Create your own sea creature, a funny face or a super-size pattern in the sand – but whatever you make, don’t forget to take a snap of your proud little artists and their masterpiece.

6. Bird-Spotting

At this time of year, our feathery friends will be really starting to find their voices again. Which means you can make a fun game of finding and identifying them. Listen out for robins, tits, finches, blackbirds, thrushes and pigeons, then grab some binoculars and get spotting. It will be a sensory delight for all children and they’ll love the quest to be the first to find the source of the song.

Top fitness trends for 2016

With the new year well under way, what better reason to start shaping up for summer. So we asked Matt Roberts www.mattroberts.co.uk, personal trainer to the stars (and the UK’s Prime Minister!) for his view on the top fitness trends for 2016. We hope you’re inspired!

OnlineImage of Matt Roberts training

“Working from home, lacking time, wanting personal input, and a desire to work with the best practitioners, plus amazing developments in interactive technology will make online, live and on-demand training big in 2016,” predicts Matt. You can tune in to the leading trainers, instructors, nutritionists, yoga and pilates teachers live and on-demand programmes to take part in sessions that would otherwise be out of geographical or financial capabilities. Online training looks set to become more interactive with Q&As, live feedback and access to the top trainers and their celebrity guests are about to make your workouts a whole lot more interesting and effective. To train with the Prime Minister’s trainer Matt Roberts and some of the biggest health and fitness experts in the world from your own home try Body.Network.

Wearables

Devices to wear on your wrist, chest and head or even built into golf clubs, tennis rackets, bicycles and footballs to track all sorts of sports data is a sector that has been gradually growing over the past five years. Even mobile phones have multiple sensors that collect data whether you asked for it or not. “The difference now is that there are great apps that are delivering the information back in a clear, acceptable and simple enough way to make it interesting and useful,” says Matt, who predicts very soon that we will be wearing clothes very soon that contain sensors and devices. “This sector makes us one step closer to some of the most incredible ability to allow everyone to have bespoke training at the touch of a button.”

High Intensity Interval TrainingImage of HIT on body network

High-intensity interval training typically involves short bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by a short period of rest or recovery and usually  takes less than 30 minutes to perform (although it is not uncommon for these programs to be much longer in duration). “It has stayed popular because those people who are into their training like its hard, high intensity, barrier pushing appeal, whilst for those who are less exercise inclined it offers a solution that doesn’t eat up too much time but does produce good results,” says Matt.

Body Weight

People have been using their own body weight for centuries as a form of resistance training, however, it did not appear as a trend before 2013 because it only became popular in gyms around the world during the last couple of years. “Strength Training” has become more popular generally, but specifically “dynamic training” such as circuit style training, suspension training and sports specific work have stayed high and hot on the list, says Matt. “People want to get strong but not big, and have a usefulness to their strength rather than just bulk for the sake of it.”

YogaImage of body network yoga

Yoga is expected to remain a significant trend in 2016 and now comes in numerous forms, including Power Yoga, Yogalates, and Bikram Yoga (done in hot and humid environments). “Yoga has become a perennial player in the trend lists and its massive range of different styles, alongside its continuous results in participants means that it is staying in the top list and going nowhere,” says Matt.

Strength Training

“It’s cool to be strong and to be fit, and this proves that the cool factor is not a fad as it has lasted for a number of years now,” says Matt. Strength training is now being used in training with children, the elderly and other groups who have been opened up to the broad benefits it gives. Bodyweight training, personal training and HIT all crossover into this category.