Dear Mummy, I’d like to introduce you to my friend ‘Spike’. He’s a Lazy Lizard. A beautiful handmade soft toy.
We’ve been on an adventure for some time now. He’s been with me taking my first steps through the bluebell woods of Micheldever in the Spring, jetting away on holidays to Gibraltar in the summer and getting his groove on at the Just So Festival, in fact we’ve been inseparable since we first met.
So where did he come from? A local company called Lazy Lizards based in Winchester, Hampshire.
However he was born the other side of the world in the fair-trade ‘Barefoot’ workshops in Sri Lanka. Which have been producing toys and textiles like him for over 40 years. Giving local women in rural communities the opportunity to create and make handmade items for a fair wage and training.
‘Barefoot’ was the brainchild of entrepreneur, Barbara Sansoni.
Sansoni textiles are inspired by the exotic land of Sri Lanka, much different to dreary England. That’s why they are so bright. They use Cibacron F/FN Swiss dyes which make their colourful yarns and fabrics.
All Barefoot products are made from cotton, silk or wool yarn. The dyes are safe and where stuffing is used, it comprises of kapok pulp. All fibres are natural and, therefore, biodegradable.
Barefoot products meet the standards required by EU and UK legislation and are safe for all ages from newborns upwards. That’s reassuring. They are also washable, which makes my mummy happy. Everything is produced in the villages and nothing is mass-produced. No child labour is used.
There are no factories and no production lines. This makes me happy, to think that my friend ‘Spike’ was born from someone else’s imagination and hand. He has an ethnicity, and a connection to this far away place, which one day I would hope to travel to.
Each toy has a unique personality and no two are the same. This is why Spike and I get on so well, as he’s slightly bonkers just like me.
Lazy Lizards in Winchester was established by Jules. She found Barefoot on her travels and wanted to share them with the world. Jules has been creating and trading in Barefoot products for some time and we’re glad we visited her site. I’m not the only one who has fallen in love with this quirky toy.
Jules has friends of her own too, Lemon and Lime – the frilled-neck lizard twins and Funky Unk – the bright red thorny devil. You can follow the adventures of Lazy Lizards on Twitter and Facebook.
I love my Lazy Lizard’s quirkiness and colours, the fact that he was handmade by talented people on the other side of the world. Spike is better travelled than me! Whenever we go on our adventures people always comment on how unusual he is.
He has been made so well, that when I pull at his legs and explore his quirky shapes and feet, he doesn’t look worn or tired.
He may not be the softest of creatures, but this adds to the appeal. His texture is almost natural and adds to the sensory experience of playing with a toy that isn’t the bog standard soft plush cuddly toy. This is what makes him stand out from the rest in my toy box and why I always reach for him first.
I hope to carry on with my adventures with Spike and you may see him crop up from time to time on my blog. He’s definitely one of the most colourful characters I’ve ever met on my travels so far!
There are so many of his friends looking for homes here in the UK, why don’t you see if you can give one of them a home this Christmas?
Mottisfont comes up smelling of Roses again!
Every year Mottisfont host an internationally renowned heritage collection of 19th century roses which draws crowds in from far and wide. They flower just once a year in June so I made sure mummy booked some time in the calendar for us to see this unrivalled show.
Acclaimed horticulturist Graham Stuart Thomas designed and planted the rose garden and brought his unique collection of shrub roses to Mottisfont in 1972. The walled garden is one of only 6 in the world to be in the Rose Garden Hall of Fame. Woweee mummy I feel privileged to see it!
This is the second time we’ve visited the walled garden at Mottisfont when the roses have been at full bloom. My mummy took me last year when I was 4 months old, but I was really too young to see them in their full glory, I did enjoy smelling them though. Last year we posed by the glorious Kathleen Harrop roses in the Frameyard, where she grows on wall.
So this year we return to the National Trust’s Mottisfont Estate, just outside Romsey in Hampshire. We’ve timed it just right, as Mottisfont’s collection of old-fashioned roses fill the Walled Garden with a beautiful color and scent. Our favourites are the ‘Yellow Pilgrims’ which greet you in the entrance to the gardens and the deep crimson ‘Ards Rover’ blooms.
I can walk now so I follow my mummy around smelling the roses and lightly touching them, their soft velvet petals in my tiny hands. They look spectacular against the bright blue sky and the garden is full of different colours. We pick up a roses trail book which lists the top ten old-fashioned roses which Mottisfont grow.
‘Mme Alfred Carriere’ roses climb over the walls and the arches and are a beautiful pale pink rose, they were a Victorian favourite. We see them everywhere in the walled garden at Mottisfont. Roses aren’t the only blooms showing off in the gardens, there are also beautiful irises and shrubs which act as a backdrop to the display. We meet a friendly gardener who stops and chats to us for a little while. It’s very relaxed in the gardens and there is a gentle hum of people chatting, just like the humming of bees which collect pollen from the flowers. The roses will be in bloom until the end of this month and Mottisfont have extended their opening hours on some of the evenings, so make sure you visit after work or at the weekend to take in this stunning display.
Thanks Mottisfont! From your youngest fan. Bella x
Little Tikes Stacking Rings
Tuesday, May 06, 2014
Dear Mummy, a recent shopping trip to ASDA ended up with you buying me a little stacking ring toy. How is it that when you go to do a food shop you always end up buying toys?! Does anyone else have mummies like this with the same food shopping problem? So this week I will review this cool toy. We had seen this little set of rings at one of the soft play centres we visit (Bouncing Tots in Chineham ) and I loved chewing on the rings. Mummy thought it was a good idea that I had one of my own, as I nearly took it home with me last time. For £3.50 it was a bargain! We all know the value of play and how important it is for us little ones to explore through touch and senses. I was very grateful when mummy returned from shopping with this treat and eagerly put it into my mouth with drool dripping everywhere.
This stacking ring toy is from Little Tikes, a leading children’s toy manufacturer. They have built their reputation around creating quality toys which are safe, durable and are regularly tested for any harmful substances.
They’ve been established since 1970 in the US and are most recognised for their worldwide best sellers, the Turtle Sandbox and the Cozy Coupe Car. Their toys do not contain BPA, latex, harmful PVC and Phthalates. They make the majority of their toys in the US and adhere to strict guidelines.
A fun little history of Little Tikes can be found here 🙂
The stacking rings which I have are on the lower end of the scale of toys that Little Tikes produce. Cheap and cheerful, it’s bright and colourful, made out of baby safe toxic free plastic with little patterns moulded onto it.
Each ring has a different texture which is great as a sensory toy and helps with tactile senses. The rings are a perfect size for me to hold and grip with my little fingers. It’s so lightweight that I can lift it myself and move it around the room. It’s also very good for developing my dexterity and fine motor skills.
They remind me of giant plastic donuts and are yummy and juicy, perfect for sticking in my gob 🙂 they are definitely helping with my teething!
A lovely little gift, ideal for a kids party and to keep little ones entertained. I haven’t yet mastered the art of stacking in the correct order yet, but I’m sure with a lot of practice and watching mummy do it I can emulated and figure it out.