I was delighted to be asked to review the Kids’ Table – a new initiative at Proud Country House at Stanmer Park.

I have two kids who are 8 and 5. We love going to Stanmer Park at the weekends, getting out of town and romping around in fields, trees and mud. Sometimes we are there over lunch time and for a bit of a treat, we stop off at Proud Country House for a meal.

Proud Country House has teamed up with the Kid’s Table (https://www.thekidstable.co.uk/), an initiative which started recently in London, and has come to Brighton for the first time. The Kids’ Table offers a pop-up kids’ corner service for pubs and restaurants, to keep the children entertained while mums and dads can relax and enjoy a brunch or lunch. Children aged 3-10 can be accommodated.

Proud Country House offers deluxe surroundings, making this a great location for an adults only meal and a bit of relaxation time. The magic of this initiative is the price – only £5 per child for two hours of child entertainment and a kids’ buffet. Parents must stay on site.

We booked our slot online (11.30am for civilised brunch/early lunch) and we were warmly welcomed on arrival. We took our kids upstairs in the country house to a dedicated room, with a magical table set out with all kinds of crafts, small world toys and lego. The kids were immediately enchanted with this opportunity for play, and made to feel comfortable by the specialist playworker, Riz.

My husband and I went downstairs and ordered from the delicious looking menu and enjoyed uninterrupted time catching up with each other and staring at the beautiful view out of the window. The food was a real treat and the service was both attentive but unobtrusive. The two hours went by too quickly – although I did pop up to see the children in the middle of the meal – they were happy and content. At the end of lunch it took us 15 minutes to persuade our 5 year old that he really had to leave, he was having such a nice time with all the craft. The kids had eaten their fill of sandwiches and fruit, as well as drinking apple juice and water.

I can’t recommend this service highly enough! We have already recommended it to other families and will be back soon for another adult meal, this time we hope to share it with a group of friends.

Do go and check it out for yourselves.

This review was in conjunction with The Kids Table. Our guests were giving their meal and places at The Kids Table in exchange for an honest review.

It’s something we say when we become mothers. My children are the most important people in my life. My children are my life. My children mean the world to me. It’s something that is implied in all the things that we do for them- every night feed and nappy change and home cooked meal. It’s something we are told we must feel. It’s the way all mothers feel. If there are only three slices of cake you let the kids have it and go without. It’s a mother’s duty to sacrifice for her children, because they’re the most important people in her life.

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It is my second pregnancy so this time around I am feeling things a little earlier that normal. It has been an odd pregnancy second time around. So different from my first pregnancy. I have also forgotten a lot this time around too so here are a few things I am starting to remember/experience again.

Wondering what to get your toddler this year? Here are five of our favourites.
1. Tomy AquaDraw
Allows little ones to draw to their hearts’ content without making any mess. It’s pretty simple: you use a water filled pen to draw on white fabric with a blue backing. The blue backing only shows through when it’s wet. We particularly like the travel version since it’s small enough to fit in a changing bag. If my daughter needs to sit at the dining table for extended periods (such as Christmas Lunch) this keeps her amused.

Travel AquaDraw demonstrated by Caitlin

Travel AquaDraw demonstrated by Caitlin

2. Kitchen Sets
These are a hit with both girls and boys. There’s so much on the market, you can spend as little or as much as you like. Mini kitchen sets start at around £10 for a Chad Valley Electronic Mini Kitchen and go up to £200+, if you’re prepared to pay that much. The ELC Little Cooks Kitchen, which retails at £70, is a very popular option.
3. Leap Frog My Own Leaptop
A first computer for real tinies; retailing at around £20, it’s aimed at children over 2 and teaches the alphabet, vocabulary and computer literacy through games, music and pretend emails. It comes in a green and a pink option. I opted for the green option since the pink one is so pink.

My Own Leaptop

My Own Leaptop

4. PlayMobil
I remember this from my own childhood and it’s great to see it’s still going strong. The PlayMobil 123 range is aimed at age 18 months+ and includes a selection of vehicles, animal related scenes and a fire station. My 2 year old niece had fun with the zoo set last year; this retails at around £25.

5. Kurio Tablets
For those who have outgrown the Leaptop, the Kurio Tablet is a popular option. Kurio make a range of tablets which are billed as the “ultimate Android device for families”. The Kurio 7s offers full parental controls, kid-safe web surfing and 60+ pre-loaded apps, including games, educational content and e-books. This normally retails for around £140 but can be found for as little as £74.99 if you shop around.

Kurio tablet demonstrated by Fizz

Kurio tablet demonstrated by Fizz

Simone grew up in the Worthing area and currently lives in Angmering with her husband and young daughter. She blogs about what they’ve been doing at http://angmeringmummy.blogspot.co.uk/.

Does your toddler love your iPad as much as you do? Liz’s daughter Eva certainly does! Here she shares some of her favourite toddler friendly apps…

Having first played on a friend’s iPad in May 2010 I decided I had to have one! I saved up for a year and bought my own in July 2011. I was excited about the possibilities of entertaining my 20 month old daughter, Eva, on journeys and in waiting rooms, and started looking about for apps for under 2s which were simple and fun that she could interact with.

To begin with I had thought if I got a 3G enabled iPad I could stream cbeebies for her or look at videos on YouTube but friends assured me that 3G was generally not good enough to allow streaming, especially with patchy coverage on trains. So I went for a Wifi-only iPad and downloaded some games for Eva to play with.

We have done some proper road tests with long train journeys to and from the south of France via Paris and the Eurostar, and 4 hour train journeys to and from Suffolk, one of which included a rail replacement bus (horror of horrors). Eva was 19 or 20 months at each of these journeys. Below I describe my top 8 apps and then describe a couple that I downloaded but deleted because we didn’t get on with them.

1) In the Night Garden (£0.69). This cbeebies program is much beloved by many of our little ones. After I’d shown Eva Iggle Piggle several times on YouTube and iPlayer at home on my iPad, she started asking for “Piggle” every time she saw the damn thing. So I downloaded the ItNG app, which is very good. You can watch and listen to each character do their dance, then you can play hide and seek games and help Makka Pakka wash everyone’s face. Plenty to keep a one and a half year old entertained. Highly recommended.

2) Baby Touch Peekaboo (£1.99). This is a Ladybird app, which is excellent for little ones (1 to 2 year olds). It has 4 choices, Farm, Sea, Animals and Vehicles. Once you’ve chosen one, you get a series of very simple block colour images which move on the screen and wait for little fingers to press the screen before going onto the next one. For example, a barn appears, and a voice says “who’s there?” When you touch the screen, the doors open revealing a chicken and the voice says “peekaboo chicken!” After another touch on the screen, the chicken lays an egg. The words are also written on the screen so you can have the sound off and read it to your child. It’s such a simple and pleasant format that little ones are sure to grasp it.

3) Old Macdonald had a farm (£0.69). Old Macdonald is one of Eva’s favourite songs and I was delighted to find a decent app that plays the song and is interactive. The animal pictures are very cartoonish, and Old Macdonald says a very American “howdy!” when you press on him for some reason, but the song is sung with an English accent and you can touch each animal to hear their noise. This is definitely one of Eva’s favourites.

4) Pocket Pond. (Free) A free app, which has Eva entranced, this is basically a virtual pond with fish swimming in it, and you can drop in extra fish, water lilies and dragonflies. The genius is that when you touch the screen, the water sploshes and the fish all swim away because you’ve disturbed them.

5) Baby Aquarium Colours. (£0.69) This is still a little beyond Eva’s grasp but she keeps asking for “fish” so I guess she likes it. In the deep blue sea, a fish comes to the front of the screen and swims around. When you touch it, it announces the fish’s colour and the colour word appears. A second touch, and a new fish appears in a different colour. The background graphics and the colourful fish keep Eva entertained for a while, she particularly likes the bubbles and the jellyfish.

6) Peekaboo Pets (£1.49). If your child loves looking at animals and hearing animal noises, this is a great app. Pop up boxes appear much like the standard pop-up toys with different buttons, out of which pop animals etc. You have to touch the button and up out of the box pops an animal which makes its relevant noise. If you touch the animal it squeaks/miaows/woofs/roars again, and you can close the lid to make it disappear (“bye bye” says Eva). Touch the sideways arrow and a new box with a new animal appears. Hours of fun.

And finally two apps I’m pleased with but Eva’s not quite old enough for:

7) My first yoga (£0.69). Eva has started being interested in the “yogo” part of Waybuloo so I thought it could be fun to try yoga poses together. Strength building is really important for her as she’s been late to walk due to hypermobility in her joints. “My first yoga” is actually an iPhone app but it works OK on iPad. It shows a picture of an animal and then describes how to do the animal pose. The American accent of the voice is a bit annoying but I think it will be fun to try these yoga poses together.

8) The Cat in the Hat (currently £1.49, usually £2.49). My favourite book when I was little, this app provides all the text and pictures from the original book, in an interactive format. You can read it to your child, or it will read itself aloud. There are other sound effects, and you can touch objects, and the name of the object is spoken aloud. Once Eva is older I hope to download more Dr Seuss classics.

Apps I downloaded and then deleted:

1) Talking Tom Cat – Too annoying for words, a cartoon cat which does a very limited range of things when you tap the screen. Eva liked the fact he repeats back what you say in a high pitched voice but I couldn’t hack it for longer than 5 minutes.

2) “Baby” – a free app with a couple of games, which is very limited unless you spend money on extra items to go in the games. About 2 minutes worth of interest without spending the extra money, and probably not much more even if you did buy accessories.

3) I hear Ewe – Oooh, I didn’t like this one. A big choice of animals and vehicles, all cartoon drawings which don’t even look much like the real thing. You tap on one and an irritating voice says “the noise a [mouse] makes is [squeak]” And that’s it. Delete Delete Delete.

4) Balloons: Tap and Learn – I thought Eva might like this as she’s totally into balloons but it’s too advanced for her, it requires you to pop all the balloons of one colour out of a possible 20 balloons. She might get into it when she’s older, but to be honest, it’s quite dull, so I’m not sure I want to encourage her.

5) Frogs vs Storks, Cut the Rope, Super Snake, and Racing Penguin – all games which looked really simple in the description but actually require more dexterity and faster reaction times (and simply a bit more brain) than a small toddler possesses.

Does your tech-savvy tot have a favourite app? Or do you have one to add to Liz’s delete list?! Share the details in the comments!