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There is so much that goes on in Marlow every day, that is for babies and young children - but sometimes finding these these groups can be a challenge!  So, I have detailed below a 'working document' (!) of what's on in and around Marlow from Monday to Friday - feel free to message me with anything I have missed off.  I've been to many of these groups myself when my girls were young, and they are great for meeting new people at the same stage as yourself!
Monday:
Tiddlywinks   Methodist Church Hall.   Drop in.  8.30-11.30
Liz Ferris 07799 854535

Crafty Cooks   99 Newfield Gardens.  10am & 11.15 am  Booking essential:  Anna Oliver 07789 408869    info@craftycooks.co.uk

Tumbling Toddlers   Booker Gym Club.  Drop in.  10.15-12midday
01494 471566     gym@hwjc.co.uk

Hartbeeps   Sea Cadets’ Hall, Wethered Rd.
                      9.30    Happy House – toddling to 4yrs
                      10.45  Baby Beeps – sitting to toddling
                      12.00  Baby Bells – birth to sitting
Booking essential: Kerraleigh Child 07866 656366      
                                 kerraleigh@hartbeeps.com
 
Perform Drama   All Saints’ Church Hall, The Causeway.
                                         4pm: 4-7yrs    5pm: 7-12yrs 
         Booking essential: 020 7255 9120    enquiries@perform.org.uk

Tuesday: 
Twins Club   Newfield Community Church, Foxes Piece School.
                       Drop in.  10.30 – 12 midday
 
Smarties Toddlers   St John’s Ambulance HQ.  Drop in. 9 – 12 midday.
Annie Flavell 01628 485397   07973 528886
 
Crafty Cooks   99, Newfield Gardens.  10, 11.15 & 1.30pm.  Booking essential:  Anna Oliver 07789 408869    info@craftycooks.co.uk
 
Marlow Bottom Toddler Group   Marlow Bottom Methodist Church Hall.
Drop in. 10 – 11.30
 
Tumbling Toddlers   Booker Gym Club.  Drop in. 10.15 – 12 midday.
01494 471566   gym@hwjc.co.uk
 
Creation Station   Marlow Youth Centre, Wycombe Rd.
 9.45: Little Explorers  15months to 4years  
11.15:  Baby Discoverers  6months to 15months
Booking essential: Charlotte Eames 07795 268063   thecreationstation.co.uk/charlotteeames
 
Youth Moves Minis  All Saints’ Church Hall, The Causeway.  1.45-2.30pm
Booking essential: Jane Douglass 01628 440109  janedouglass.co.uk
 
St. Peter’s Babies & Toddlers  Pugin Rooms, St. Peter’s Church.  1-3pm  Drop in.  Jennifer Boyle  07876 211103
 
Mighty Kickers  Court Garden Leisure Centre. 1.50pm. 3½ -5yrs
Booking essential:  Vicki 07477 648340
         
Wednesday:
River Life Coffee Morning & Toddler Group  Marlow Youth Centre. 
Drop in.  10.30-12midday.  Beryl  07778 177921
 
Teddies Music Group   Methodist Church Hall.  Drop in.  10am & 11am. 01628 671146     01628 639878
 
Jo Jingles Music  Marlow Bottom Methodist Church Hall. 
Drop in.   10am & 11am.     01494 814174
 
Perform Drama   Christ Church URC, Oxford Rd.  Booking essential.
4pm  5-6yrs    5pm 6-12yrs.    enquiries@perform.org.uk
 
Playball   All Saints’ Church Hall, The Causeway.  Booking essential.
1.15pm  2-3yrs.   2pm  3-4yrs.   Emma Hellewell  07736 405034
 
RCrazyPlay – soft play  Sea Cadets’ Hall, Wethered Rd.  Drop in.
1.30-4.30pm.   07836 640043
 
Bilinguasing    Pugin Rooms, St.Peter’s Church. 
9.30 am  toddlers & preschoolers.    10.30  babies & early toddlers.
Caireen   caireen@bilinguasing.com
 
Marlow School of Dance  Liston Hall. 
2pm  2-3yrs.    2.45  3-4yrs.   3.30  2-3yrs
Booking essential:  07968 983832
 
Water Babies  Court Garden Leisure Centre. 9.30-10am  4-18months.
Drop in.  01628 405200
 
Tumbling Toddlers  Booker Gym Club.  Drop in.  10.15-12midday
01494 471566     gym@hwjc.co.uk
 
Thursday:
Little Stars Toddlers  Liston Hall.  Drop in.  9.30-11.30
Sarah Cassells   01628 485798    07950 365643
 
Teeny Saints  All Saints’ Church.  Drop in. 10-11.30am
Anna Clarke  07492 788704
 
Mums & Tots coffee morning  Newfield Community Church, Foxes Piece School.  Drop in.  10.15-11.45am
 
Water Babies   Court Garden Leisure Centre.   11-11.30   4-18months
11.30-12midday  18months-3yrs.  Drop in. 01628 405200
 
Hartbeeps   Pugin Rooms, St.Peter’s Church.  3.30pm toddlers to 4yrs.
Booking essential: kerraleigh@hartbeeps.com  07866 656366
 
Perform Drama   All Saints’ Church Hall, The Causeway.   4pm & 5pm 
Booking essential:  020 72559120     enquiries@perform.org.uk 
 
NCT Bumps & Babes   Norden Farm, Maidenhead.   Drop in. 10.30-12
maidenheadandmarlow@nct.org.uk
 
Baby College   Marlow Youth Centre.   Booking essential.
9.30am 12 to 24 months.    10.30am  birth to 12 months
Vicky Jones  07720 441672    babycollege.co.uk
 
Phoenix Yoga (postnatal, mummy&baby)  Pugin Rooms, St.Peter’s Church Hall.  11.15-12.15      Jennie 07954 578439
 
Artspiration  Sandygate School.  4.30pm.  artspirationinfo@gmail.com
 
Tumbling Toddlers  Booker Gym Club.  Drop in. 10.15-12midday. 
01494 471566    gym@hwjc.co.uk
 
Friday:
Baby Sensory  Liston Hall. 
10am  6-13 months.     11.30 birth to 6months.    1pm  birth to 6months Booking essential: Helen Barrett  07899 790405
 
Tumble Tots  Marlow Youth Centre.  9.30am 2-3yrs.   10.30 walking-2yrs
11.30 6months-walking.   1.10pm 3-4yrs.    Booking essential:
Kassie Knight  07789 884679     tumbletots.com/marlow
 
Buggy Fit  Higginson Park  9.30am. Veronica Murphy 07796 260799
 
Crafty Cooks  99, Newfield Gardens.  10am,  11.15am  &  1.30pm.
Booking essential:  01628 476670   07789 408869
 
Bounce & Rhyme  Marlow Library  10.30 toddlers  11.15 babies
 
Hartbeeps  Pugin Rooms, St.Peter’s Church Hall.  9.30am toddlers to 4yrs
10.45  sitting to toddlers.  Booking essential: Kerraleigh 07866 656366 
 
DiddyDisco  Sea Cadets’ Hall, Wethered Rd.  9.30 & 10.30.  Drop in.
diddydisco.co.uk
 
RKrazyPlay soft play  Sea Cadets Hall, Wethered Rd.   1.30-4.30pm. 
Drop in.  07836 640043
 
Little Kickers  Court Gardens Leisure Centre.  10am  18months-2yrs.
11am  2-3 ½ yrs   Booking essential: Vicki 07477 648340
 
Creation Station  Christ Church URC, Oxford Rd.  1.45 – 4.45pm  1– 9 yrs
Drop in.  Charlotte Eames  thecreationstation.co.uk
 
Weekends:
Rugbytots  Court Garden Leisure Centre.  
Saturday   8.45 & 11am  2-3 ½ yrs.   9.20 & 11.30am 3 ½ -5yrs. 
Sunday  8.45 & 11am   2-3 ½ yrs
Booking essential:  03453 130447
 
Little Kickers   Sir William Borlase Grammar School, West Street.
Saturday 9.10am. 3 ½ - 5yrs.     10.05am 2 – 3 ½ yrs
Booking essential:  Vicki  07477 648340
 
Messy Church   Christ Church URC, Oxford Rd. 
Second Saturday of every month.  3.30 – 5pm
 
Useful Contacts:
Marlow Children’s Centres –  2 sites -
 Sandygate School & Foxes Piece School
marlowcc@actionforchildren.org.uk  01628 472121
 
Buckinghamshire Family Information Service
www.bucksfamilyinfo.org.uk
 
www.marlowmums.com
 
Marlow Parents.     Email the moderator – ali.leibowitz@talk21.com - & ask to join the group. 
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Why Printing Your Pictures Is So Important
I’ll bet you have used your phone to take a picture of your family this week?  You might have used your phone camera today, you maybe even use your camera every day.  It has never been easier to take photographs – we all carry a camera in our telephone.  And yet our children have fewer and fewer physical prints to hold and look at.

​When I was a child I used to love looking through my parents old photo albums.  Mostly there was writing on the back with names I didn’t recognise and dates from long before I was born.  There were very formal black and white photographs mounted on fancy card that were obviously taken in Victorian photography studios – solemn family faces and soldiers in uniform.  I could spend ages looking at these photographs and chatting about the people, places and times they pictured.
Imagine if those precious memories were instead sitting on something that needed a machine to let me see them.  A machine that was around in the 40’s or even the 70’s.... So have a think about where you store your own family photographs.  Are they on your mobile phone?  A hard drive?  CD’s?  Mini discs? (remember those!?) Floppy discs?  You get my point – technology is changing so rapidly that it can be difficult to keep up.  The must-have storage of today is archived in favour of something new every few years.

The only way you can be sure to preserve your picture memories for your children and grandchildren is to print them.

Your Mobile Phone Pictures
For most of us, our mobile phones are where the majority of our ‘snaps’ are kept.  The everyday images of holidays, days out, toothy grins, first foods, and silly selfies.  These are the images your children will cherish when they grow up – you must print them!  And you have loads of options for printing from your mobile phone.
 
Your Professional Pictures
As well as the everyday snaps, most families choose a professional photographer like me to capture more important milestones.  New additions to your family, birthdays, a new pet, or the annual family portrait all involve a professional portrait photographer who can capture you all in a perfect setting, looking your best.  The portraits I produce in Marlow at my home studio set up, or when we go out on location, are your own personal works of art and are designed to be displayed.  There’s lots of evidence to show that it boosts self-esteem, confidence and contentment when your portraits are displayed in your home.
I offer clients print packages as well as wall art, and although I do sell USB’s which hold the digital copies of your images, I would always recommend purchasing wall art products from me as I use a professional lab so I can guarantee the quality.  You don’t want to invest in beautiful portraits only to have them printed poorly. ​ I have examples on my website, but I am always happy to quote for bespoke options as well.
​Time for new family portraits?  Click here to browse my portrait photography services
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Now that the craziness of Christmas is over, you will probably be starting to think about 2019, and all that it will hold for you.  Lots of people love to have a New Year Resolution list - I did this last year and it's amazing how having that sense of purpose at the start of the year can drive you to achieve great things!  
In January 2018 I put my mind (and body) on a path of fitness and as a result I managed to do the London Winter Run (10K), Marlow 5, Tough Mudder, Little Welly (great fun with kids), Marlow 7 and my ultimate goal - Royal Parks Half Marathon!  It was such an amazing achievement, encouraged by my friends Mel and Vicki - who, without them, I wouldn't have achieved what I did (or even signed up for it - they have a lot to answer for!!).  We ran for a charity called Coppa Feel which is a breast cancer awareness charity and we managed to smash our targets - amazing!  You can achieve so much when you put your mind to something - who knows what 2019 will bring but I'm already planning some exciting challenges!
So what will be your resolutions for this year?  One of mine is to photograph my own family more - I spend a lot of time photographing other families but neglect to photograph my own family as much as I would like!  I started this in December by taking my parents to a lovely location in Marlow and we had a lot of fun - and now I have some precious memories of them that I can treasure forever! 
Maybe having a photo shoot with your family could be one of your New Years resolutions, and as an incentive I am launching my Spring Mini Family Photo Shoots in Marlow!  These sessions are classed as 'mini sessions' as they are just 30 minutes long and you get five high resolution digital images with matching 10x8 prints - for just £149.  These will take place in the Easter holidays, and I am only releasing a certain number of these mini shoots - so once they're gone, they're gone!  
If you would like to book a 'mini session' please click on the following contact button.
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I'm delighted to have First Aid trainer Claire Street from Marlow's Child Matters guest blog for me this month!  I was thinking about the coming festive season, and how there are things that we as parents should be aware of and should think about during the festivities in terms of keeping our little ones safe.  Claire has kindly written the following information to guide us safely through the season:
Tis the season to be jolly! Very jolly in fact. We all like to let our hair down at Christmas but with all that merry making it’s easy to forget that Christmas comes with it’s own festive hazards and children are especially vulnerable – over excited about presents and Santa! According to RoSPA more than 6,000 people end up in hospital on Christmas day. Don’t let that be your or your family and read our 10 tips to keep your little ones safe.  ​

Tip 1 – Don’t buy poisonous berries
Did you know that mistletoe is poisonous as its berries contain toxic proteins that slow the heart rate and can cause hallucinations? The orange berries of the Christmas cherry can cause stomach pains too so keep them away from your little ones. You don’t want to be dealing with diarrhoea on Christmas day!

Tip 2 – Be aware of faulty fairy lights
Around 350 people a year are hurt by Christmas tree lights, according to RoSPA. Injuries include people falling while they’re putting them up, children swallowing the bulbs, and people getting electric shocks and burns from faulty lights.

The advice is to always to test your lights and don’t overload sockets. Don’t leave young children near your Christmas tree lights unsupervised and look for the safety marks eg. BS Kitemark when buying new lights. It goes without say to never insert or remove bulbs when they are switched on.

Take a look at this video on how quickly faulty lights can turn into a fire: 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=58&v=hMtjGfr0tYs

Tip 3 – Keep ‘delicious’ decorations away from children

​Every year there seems to be more Christmas novelty decorations on sale from musical Santa hats to dancing reindeers. These are not toys, even if they resemble them, so don’t have to comply with toy safety regulations.

To young children small glass baubles can look simply delicious and tempting to put in their mouths, while those light up decorations often contain deadly button batteries. Look out for small items that could choke a young child, including parts that have fallen off toys or from Christmas trees. Keep decorations and cards away from fires and other heat sources such as light fittings.
Take a look at the REER or BABYDAN choke tester_  – it mimicks a child’s airway and allows parents to trial objects so they know which sizes to avoid giving their child.
Tip 4 - Button battery beware!
The light-up fidget spinners, musical or light up decorations and fake tea lights often contain button batteries. If a button battery is swallowed and gets stuck in the throat or gullet, the electrical charge from a button battery creates caustic soda inside the body. This can burn a hole through the throat and can lead to serious internal bleeding and death.  Keep them away from children! 

What to do if your child swallows a button battery:
Get help fast! Don’t let them eat or drink and definitely don’t try to make them sick. Just keep calm and take them to hospital straight away, even if one gets stuck up their nose or in their ear. Don’t be afraid to call an ambulance, it could save their life. Dial 999, not 111. The sooner the batter can be removed, the less chance of permanent damage as lithium batteries can cause damage within 2 hours of being consumed.​​
Tip 5 – Dash to unwrap? – Just take it slow
Children can’t wait to get to the next gift and end up falling over presents in a desperate attempt to locate their own so take it show and enjoy the moment. Buy children's gifts for the correct age group, from reputable retailers, and ensure they comply with safety standards. Read RoSPA’s toy safety pages for more info.  
Tip 6 – Stay out of the kitchen
Christmas dinner is probably the biggest meal most families cook all year and needs careful planning to avoid injuries. Hot fat, boiling water and sharp knives make the kitchen one of the most dangerous places so try to keep little ones out of the kitchen.​

Tip 7 – Give visitors the gift of safety
Grandparents and relatives can unknowingly leave medicines in places where children can find them, such as handbags or counted out on bedside cabinets. How would they feel if they’d accidently caused the most common accidental poisoning in children, with everyday painkillers a frequent culprit. And hearing aids contain button batteries so they definitely need to be out of reach from kids. Help them to keep your children safe by giving them a safe plastic container like ‘Kiddylock’ (http://www.dreambaby.co.uk/kiddy-lock-cool-guard-child-safe-container.html) to pop everything in and keep high out of reach or in a locked cupboard.

Tip 8 – Get the kids first aid trained in DRAB!
Seasonal hazards are even easier to avoid if children themselves are first aid trained. Young children from as little as four years old are very capable of reacting quickly to save a life and get help. BUT, only if they have the confidence and knowledge to do so. And it isn’t just about helping others, little ones can learn how to stay safe themselves.
So what should children know? The most important lesson for any age child to learn is simply when and how to shout for help if someone has an accident or is very poorly.

As adults we are more likely to know when someone is choking, struggling to breathe or unconscious. Even if we’ve never witnessed it ourselves, we’ve certainly watched TV dramas. But for children it’s going to be a complete surprise and something they’ve never ever seen before. So knowing how to stay calm, find out if a person is ok and how to call 999 is essential. And that’s where DRAB comes in. Tattooing these simple emergency action steps onto the big minds of little one’s could save someone’s life!
DRAB
  • Danger – learning to how keep themselves out of danger as a priority.
  • Response – checking to see if their friend is able to talk or move by tapping their collarbone and asking them if they are ok.
  • Airway – checking to see if their friend or parent has any object blocking their mouth that can be easily removed. If they are choking they can learn how to give back slaps and abdominal thrusts to remove the object.
  • Breathing – knowing how to listen and feel for breathing. If the person is breathing they can put them into the recovery position.
And from nine years up, as children become more independent, they can learn how to give CPR chest compressions if a person is not breathing, treat minor burns, bleeds and even use an epi-pen if their friend has an allergic reaction.
Tip 9 – Put up an ‘Emergency Contact Sheet’
As parents we can help by leaving an ‘Emergency Contact Sheet’ visible in the house for all guests to see. Children can see what number they need to call, know how to dial 999 if mummy is poorly, mummy and daddy’s phone number and their own home address to tell the emergency services.
<Click here> to download your own one.
Tip 10 – Teach children the importance of keeping themselves safe
If your child is out and about and has an accident themselves, memorising their own address and telephone number is a sure way to get help faster. As parents you may be able to give lifesaving information on your child’s medical condition such as epilepsy and allergies. And it goes without saying that children should be aware of their own medical conditions themselves.

So give your little ones the knowledge to stay safe this season and book them on a Junior Child Matters First Aid training course for 2019, taught by paediatric nurses.
​Visit www.child-matters.co.uk or email contact@childmatters.info for course dates near you or we can run a group session in your own home or school.

Info Sources:
Child Matters
Stats from Home Accident Surveillance System, 2002 & 2011/12 Fire Statistics Great Britain from the Department for Communities and Local Government.
buttonbatterysafety.com
Child accident prevention trust
RoSPA
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If you have no idea what to get your friend or family member for Christmas then look no further!  A Gift Voucher is a gift that keeps on giving, as you a providing them with a memory captured forever - whether this is for a newborn photo shoot, a sitter session (when the baby can sit unaided) or heading outside for a seasonal photo shoot - all will capture beautiful images that they can enjoy for years to come!

​The options available are detailed below, but if you want to discuss anything with me then please just click on the contact section of this website and get in touch!

Option 1 - £99 Newborn session fee/ £59 Lifestyle session fee
This pays for the session fee only for either a Newborn photo shoot or a Lifestyle photo shoot.  Then the client redeeming the voucher can choose one of three Collections, which vary in price from £299 to £499.

Option 2 - £199 Mini photo shoot
The Mini sessions can be used for either a Newborn or Lifestyle session (the Lifestyle Sessions are studio photo shoots for children, or outdoor sessions for children and their immediate family) and last for 30 minutes and include 5 digital images.

Option 3 - £249 expressions photo shoot
This is a 30 minute session suitable for young children to capture their expressions and personality.  As part of the package you get 16 square images in a mounted frame - great to mark a birthday.

Option 4 - £349 Fully paid photo shoot
This is for a full photo shoot for either a newborn or lifestyle shoot and includes the photo shoot, plus ten digital images plus matching 10x8 prints.

There are a limited number of Gift Vouchers being released so if you would like to order one please get in contact today by clicking on the following link: Contact

Please note - Gift vouchers must be redeemed within 6 months of 1st January 2019.  Vouchers cannot be returned for any monetary value.  We are not responsible if a Gift Voucher is lost, stolen, destroyed or used without permission and no replacement will be provided in these circumstances.  The Gift voucher is non-transferrable.  Kate McNeil Photography standard T&C’s still apply.
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I am so excited to be launching my new 'Kid's Christmas Jammie Sessions' from the 1st October!  These are classed as 'mini' shoots as they only take around 30 minutes - the set up is all ready for when you arrive and all you need to do is bring your little one in their new Christmas PJ's! 
After the photo shoot I will edit ten of the images and send these to you in a password protected online gallery.  As part of the package you can choose three images for digital download - one of these can be chosen to be professionally printed in a 10x8 print, a great present for Granny!  You are then entitled to print your three digital images as many times as you like, or use them for Christmas cards!
The cost of the mini shoot is £75 - this includes the 30 minute session, three digital downloads (plus print release) and one 10x8 print.  If you would like to purchase additional digital images the cost is £10 per image.   

This shoot is suitable for babies who can sit unaided - if you have a baby who is not able to sit unaided please contact me to discuss the options available.
​Christmas Mini - Terms and Conditions:
~ Up to two children per mini session.
~ Session fee is required to be paid at the time of booking to secure your time slot.
~ Sessions will be Mon-Fri during the day, unless agreed at the time of booking.
~ The session will be at Kate McNeil Photography's home location, 95 The Ridgeway. SL7 3LH
~ The sessions will be available from the 1st October 2018 to 16th November 2018, limited slots available on a first come, first served basis.
~ The ten edited images are subject to the willingness of the child, if the child does not want to cooperate I am unable to offer refunds or re-shoots.
~ Turnaround for the digital images is no longer than 2 weeks.
Visit www.facebook.com/katemcneilphotography to see my recent photo shoots
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I've now done a fair few trips with my two girls, both in the UK and abroad and I have to admit there are pro's and con's to all of the different types we have tried!  From all inclusive hotels, a Mark Warner (child care provided!) holiday, through to self catering apartments in the UK and abroad and also villa's - they all have their equal share of advantages and disadvantages.  I think what I'm trying to say is that travelling with babies/kids is never going to be completely stress free and there will always be things that could make a holiday more relaxing and easier!
In terms of what to take, I have googled countless times to give me ideas and now have excel spreadsheets for all the different holidays, but each time I go back to them the kids have grown up a bit more and so the list has changed (again!).  But there are some things which I've listed below which I think are useful to have, some more age specific than others, but food for thought for you anyway.  And for those of you who can travel outside of the school holidays, I'd say do it now before you get tied into half terms and summer holidays, where the prices jump up dramatically!!!
1. First Aid Kit
This is an obvious one for the list but I thought I should put this as my number 1 as we have always needed something on holiday, whether it's just a plaster or the full works!  Marlow First Aid trainer Claire Street can provide you with these and she has even written a blog about keeping the kids safe on holiday - take a look here
3. Sun suits
These are quite literally one of the best inventions!  My kids wear these for all of our beach holidays and they never burn and generally come back home the same colour as they left!  They provide sun protection, usually to factor 40 or 50 and they range from short sleeveless suits, to full body cover plus hats.  They really work well and are for babies all the way through to age 9 I believe.  Jojo Maman Bebe sell lovely ones, along with John Lewis.
2. Simply For Flying Log Books
These are great fun and are a lovely way to document all of the places your little one has travelled to since they were born!  The details of the fight are entered and then you can take them to the pilots who write comments in the books - my kids love them and I'd highly recommend them!  Link for these are here
4. Gro Black Out Blind
Staying anywhere other than at home you never know until you get somewhere what the curtains are going to be like (not something you really ask when booking your holiday!!!)!  However, from past experience staying in a room with nothing more than voile curtains at the windows can mean a very early start for little one's.  We take our Gro Blind's to each destination we've gone to and they have been, at times, essential!
5. Trunki Boostapack
We only came across these this summer, as we were hiring a car and were looking for other options which would mean not taking the girls huge car seats with us on the plane.  These Boostpacks are a great idea as they double up as a rucksack and then with a push of a couple of buttons transform into a booster seat!  When they are being used as a rucksack they are a little heavy (but that may be due to the amount of stuff our girls packed!!) but they were much easier than carrying two big car seats through the terminals!
6. Ella pouches
These pouches are great for weaning babies and also older toddlers too - as meals but also as fruit snacks.  We took loads of these on one of our first trips abroad (as first time/new parents) with a weaning baby as we weren't sure what would be on offer at the hotel (and how suitable it may or may not be) and they were really handy to have.  
7. Toys!
I think the key here is to keep it simple and take toys that could have multi uses, some ideas:
Stacking cups - great in the pools, bath and on the beach to make sandcastles
Folkmanis Squigz  - these are brilliant rubber toys that stick together and are so much fun, can be used as entertainment on the plane or in the bath/pool.
Lottie Dolls - plastic dolls that can be used in the pools and on the beach.  If you're not a Barbie fan these dolls are just gorgeous as they are just little girls (in terms of their features) but with big ideas, so you can get fossil hunter Lottie, astro adventurer Lottie, boarder Lottie, brownie Lottie and the list goes on.  
Pass the Pig - Probably more suitable for thoses age 3-4+ but we played this all week on holiday this summer!! Small to travel with and very simple.
Stickers - for little one's these are a must - my daughter covered all her arms and legs in stickers on one flight but she was so happy and kept amused I let her be!  There are loads of great sticker and activity books on the market.
Some other ideas that you have recommended to me:
1. Babyzen Yoyo Pushchair - this pushchair collapses small enough to be taken on the flight as hand luggage - amazing!!
2. Travel wash and Vanish bar of soap
3. Mosquito repellent and antihistamines 

I hope you have found this useful - feel free to add any more ideas into the comments box below, as I'm sure we can all help each other with good ideas to help our trips go as smoothly as possible!  Happy Holidays!
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It's nearly the summer holidays!  With the kids feeling so incredibly tired and not to mention hot and restless in this heat, we are now feeling that we are ready for the end of school and the summer holidays - whatever that entails! 
I've been thinking about the holidays and how many parents have mixed emotions going into the 6 weeks of needing to entertain your child/children and how, in this area there is such a wealth of activities on offer - but also, how Pinterest has been amazing for giving me some unique ideas.  I've now done a few summer holidays with my girls and so I thought I'd pass on my ideas and recent excursions with my 4 year old to give you some inspiration!
1.  Beaconscot, Beaconsfield
Today (Thursday), I visited Beaconscot with my daughter and my friend with her 4 year old and 4 month old, picnic in hand and ready to enjoy the day!  I have to say that it did not disappoint!  We were able to park (for free) opposite the entrance, arriving at 11.30am there were no queues and we were able to go straight in.  The size of Beaconscot is ideal for toddlers, it's flat and has a little path to follow in order that you can see all the areas.  They have recently added to the buildings and there is now the Hoover building, a Butcher, Baker and Candle Stick Maker, a church with a little Christening service taking place and other miniature shops.  There's a lovely simple play area and picnic area, which is all beautifully maintained and the detail of care is really noticeable, a great day out!

​2. Greys Court, Henley
We also visited Greys Court this week, which as a National Trust member was free, and although my Satnav took me to completely the wrong place, once we got our bearings it was a lovely trip out.  We took a picnic once again and headed straight to the play area, which is near the track and next to the house.  My daughter played with her friends in this woodland play area, climbing on the large climbing frame and slide, and spending ages making camps out of twigs and branches!  After the picnic we had a look around the little shop, which has some beautiful pieces, along with a great book which I'm planning on buying called '101 Things For Kids To Do Outside' by Dawn Isaac 
Even just flicking through this book I saw some lovely simple ideas, such as making a flower bracelet by getting a gaffa tape strip and sticking flowers to it, making patterns on the grass with a card board stencil, some flour and a sieve, flower pressing and so much more.  I love these quirky books you get in National Trust shops, a great little find!
3. Baking cakes and selling them to neighbours
Baking can be one of those things which you start with all good intentions and then then flour puffs in the air, the egg falls on the floor and you're missing an ingredient - but maybe that's just me!  I think that family baking time can be so much fun, it just takes some organising, sometimes just weighing out the ingredients beforehand and then kids the add it to the bowl and mix can make it all a bit less stressful - at the end of the day, all they want to do is lick the bowl!!  A friend of mine recently did this with her daughters and then set up a mini cake sale in their front garden, which looked like so much fun and is on our list of things to do!

4. Odds Farm 
Of course!  We used to have an annual pass to Odds Farm when my eldest daughter was under 2 and it was just brilliant!  We would go up to the Farm every week sometimes just for an hour in the afternoon, or take a picnic and spend the whole day up there, we definitely got our moneys worth!!  The lovely thing with Odds Farm is that it is constantly improving and the profits are obviously being reinvested in the Farm and it just gets better every year.  Although it does get busy in the holidays it is worth a visit. 

5. Fruit picking at Copas Farm, Cookham
A few weeks ago I helped at my daughters Rainbow's group and we went to Copas Farm in Cookham to pick some seasonal fruit.  We were all given a plastic container and shown to the enormous strawberry field and told to help ourselves!  It was so enjoyable just walking up and down the rows and rows of strawberries - and eating a really ripe strawberry warmed in the hot sun was just amazing!  We also went to the cherry trees and also saw the huge rhubarb as well.  This would be such a fun trip out for kids (and adults) any age!  There is a big barn by the farm shop where you can get out of the sun and have a cool drink and enjoy the views, it really is fabulous!

6. Marlow Library
We are very lucky in Marlow to have such an active library - there are always things going on there from a story time, to bounce and rhyme through to knitting clubs and more!  This summer, as with every summer, they put on a reading challenge - this is for children age 4 upwards, but obviously it's always encouraged for parents to read with their children from when they are babies.  Click on the Marlow Library link above which will direct you to the details, but it's a fun one to do and will encourage all the little readers.
7. Cliveden, Taplow
​Cliveden has been our go to place in all seasons and it never disappoints!  It is beautiful from January through to December and there are always different themed events on.  This summer they are doing a 'Summer of Colour' and the kids get to take a little gift home - great after a walk, play & picnic!
​8. A boat trip from Marlow to Henley
We haven't done the boat trip yet, although I've lived in Marlow for more than 25 years (woops!) but this looks like lots of fun!  Once you get to Henley there is the River and Rowing Museum which has a really sweet Wind in the Willows exhibition, and upstairs there is a little home area for the kids to play in.  We've been a few times and the kids have always enjoyed it and they usually have different themed events going on throughout the year.​
​9. Pottery painting at The Perch, Marlow
Having held my daughters birthday party here in April, I can vouch for this place and how fun pottery painting actually is!  We did this for the first time when visiting St Ives at a quirky little cafe called 54 Lemons  and so were were delighted to find that we had our very own version of this in Marlow!  The Perch is well set up for kids with some simple things on the menu (beans on toast) plus nice little extras for them to do such as decorating a gingerbread man, reading some books at the back of the shop or colouring.  The pottery painting is lots of fun and the kids get completely absorbed in their activity - and they loved picking up their finished product once it had been fired and was all shiny!  We now have quite a collection!
10. Theatre trip - 'We're Going On A Bear Hunt', Lyric Theatre
Theatre trips can be such a lot of fun and we have some great local venues such as the Wycombe Swan and Norden Farm in Maidenhead.  If you're brave enough to go further afield there is a new show happening at the Lyric Theatre called 'We're Going On A Bear Hunt' which looks ideal for a first taste of the theatre experience and is only 55 minutes long.  

I hope this list gives you some ideas and inspiration - at the end of the day I would say to keep it simple - picnics and parks are always a winner, and my girls are always so happy with a bowl of water and cups and bowls - or a large box they can colour and create into whatever invention they wish!  I hope you all have a great time, whatever you end up doing!
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This past week I have had the privilege of attending a week long residential in Uppermore Barn in the beautiful Derbyshire countryside.  As a newborn photographer I feel it is my duty to ensure that I am up to date in my training and so this was a great opportunity to refresh my skills in many areas including lighting, editing, business & marketing, posing, wrapping and safety.  We had a number of photo shoots with both newborns and some young children, all of which were amazingly well behaved, even with 13 photographers all snapping around them!
The course was run by my long standing mentor, Claire Elliott who is a panel judge for the Guild of Photographers, but also runs her own successful newborn and children's photography business, along with an international lighting specialist and Guild of Photographers panel judge, Andrew Appleton, wedding and business specialist Julie Oswin, and award winning photographer Ozzie Malik - we were like sponges learning from these highly skilled people!
Models were brought in and we would discuss the styling, the lighting and posing was done by Claire and then we had the chance to photograph the babies and children and apply our new editing processes afterwards.  This was a fantastic experience to continue in  my development, as photography is one of those trades were you are always learning and improving - so it never gets boring!  I have photographed nearly 100 newborns now and I still feel I change and improve with every photo shoot!
These little girls were so beautiful and a delight to photograph!
As part of the course we also did 5 hours of Continued Professional Development in First Aid and was tailored to photographers.  First Aid is such an important thing for us all to do, and I can recommend two great training providers in Marlow - Child Matters and Mini First Aid.
Lighting was also a large area of learning with Andrew and this was for studio lighting, but also on and off camera flash for outdoor photo shoots, so a real array of different types of lighting, and as you can see, we created some quite different looks!
Along with learning from the trainers, it was also a great experience to learn from fellow photographers, all at different stages in our careers with varying amounts of experience.  These types of residential's are great for people like me, who are self employed and don't have a team of people to work with and so we literally spoke, breathed and slept (although not much sleep was had!) photography - brilliant fun!
Overall this was a great week away and I have learnt a lot and can't wait to put these new skills into practice!
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