Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Here be Dragons

Around 5 1/2 years ago I was Christmas shopping with Boy #1. Barely 3 months old, he was the perfect companion; unable to complain about the trekking up and down the Kings Road looking for the perfect gift for my 90 year old grandmother who has everything, and ridiculously grateful every time we stopped for a tea break somewhere warm and suitable for either a nappy change (thankyou, Peter Jones, for your 3rd floor baby room), or a light snack.

At the time I was both breast and bottle feeding him, and when it was time for the latter I pulled in at a cafe, parked his buggy, dug out my (still luke-warm) bottle of sterilised water, ripped the top off a sachet of formula, and bob's your uncle, had an instant snack for a hungry 12 week old baby.

As I fed him and cuddled him close, I looked up to see a middle-aged lady picking her jaw up off the floor. She leaned over and asked, in a friendly but almost affronted tone of voice: "When did it get so easy?"

At the time I found this amusing but thought that this was probably something that would never happen to me. I mean, I had all the mod cons for my kids, right?

Well, I had them for then.

But now? Well, twice in one week I've thought to myself; that's not fair. Why didn't I have these when I needed for them my boys...?

Yep, it's review time. Look away now if you're not interested - although if you have babies or toddlers, I think you might be...

Example 1; Silver Cross

Last Sunday Silver Cross sponsored a get-together for some bloggers at a restaurant in central London. You might have picked up on it if you've checked in at the British Mummy Bloggers Ning recently.

Being an industrious little creep I had checked out the Silver Cross website beforehand - only for a moment, I swear - although aside from the Boden-esque visuals (which I quite liked) not a lot about their range of prams, buggies and high chairs had sunk in. The presentation on Sunday from their team, however, did. And as I sat and watched their light-weight Halo buggy collapse down into an easily carry-able kit and oohed over the tactile and yet machine-washable materials used to keep lucky little princes and princesses snug and warm on their travels, I did find myself asking why these 'mod cons' weren't available 5 1/2 years ago.

Things got even more surreal when the head of design at Silver Cross demonstrated the Doodle High Chair. I watched him detach the seat from the base to make a handy small person chair and play table (complete with storage basket, gosh what a good idea, can you tell the madness is taking hold yet?), and I actually found myself thinking ''Maybe it's not too late to do the whole thing again, after all...?'

Example 2; Little Dish

I hate to admit it, but I'm a bit precious about what my Boys eat. 'You're at home with them', the little voice in the back of my head reasons, 'why feed them crap when you can make them a healthy and nutritious meal yourself? And no cheating. From scratch.'

Now, bear with me. I have at least moved on from those mad Annabel-Karmel fuelled days of preparing home-made chicken stock (don't do it; your house will stink, you will stink, and the baby can't tell the difference between that and the perfectly acceptable no-salt Waitrose alternative, I promise), and pizza is regularly on our menu as are sausages and fish fingers, but I still can't bring myself to give them chicken nuggets.

So when a company called Little Dish got in touch to offer me some free 'home-made ready meals' for the Boys to try, I was a little sceptical. I had tried them with similar things before, you see, and whilst the meals were organic and healthy... frankly? They tasted like shxt. (No names, no pack drill, but Whole Foods? I thought you were better than that..). And I am a strong believer in the fact that just because they're children, that doesn't mean my boys should eat boring bland meals.

However, you live and learn, and I figured that if Little Dish were prepared give me a night off cooking for my little angels and to risk a bad review, why not?

Last night the Boys dined on Little Dish's Fish Pie and Cottage Pie. The pocket critics gave mixed reviews; Boy #1 was not keen. However, since he is not keen on most things, people at Little Dish, you can ignore that one. Boy #2 (the critic you want to impress) was delighted, and stuffed it all down muttering 'yum yum' and 'I'm going to be the winner' and 'this will make me big and stronger than Boy #1...' (or similar). And, never one to miss out on a good thing, I tried them too. My feedback? Do you sell the fish pie in adult size?

Having said that, I would say to potential consumers that the consistency of the meals - whilst immeasurably better than most other ready made product in jars and packs for children - is more suitable for younger children than my two. Nowadays they tend to eat what we eat, but if this range had been around when the Boys were first weaned and up to about 2 1/2 years, it would have saved me much angst and late night preparation of chicken stock and similar...

So where were you then, Little Fish? Huh????


  1. salt free chicken stock? I cant get that anyway here (in France). Even the organic shop down the road seems to believe that if you take out the MSG flavour enhancer you must replace it with 56 kilos of salt.

    I dont know if I dare look at the site of nifty new gadgets, does one have to have a second mortgage to buy the stuff???? the doodle high chair intrigues me (sounds liek the sort of thing i'd like for myself)

  2. Hi Screamish, next time you're over here check out the cooks ingredients stand in Waitrose - this stuff is liquid but not refrigerated and is great. I can see you now loading your car up with boxes of it and heading back over the channel (albeit with it heavily disguised as no doubt the French would not be impressed...)

    And on the Silver Cross stuff, actually (if you exclude the old fashioned perambulators etc), it's less expensive than I expected it to be. And you never know - if they're planning on launching in France they may want a local to try it out for free (and then, of course, blog about it!).

  3. Design has come on a long way for baby and toddler items in the last few years. I think it's partly because dads are more involved, so anything with a few gadgets is bound to sell well.

    Soon, you'll be able to bring up children without actually lifting a finger at all (or maybe not...)

  4. One thing I have to say though, is that most of the strollers/puchchairs are bloody enormous. When I had my little guy I had to trade my Volve estate in for a mini-van/people carrier to get all the equipment in the back!

  5. Iota, which leads me on to a key piece of advice for mums planning on purchasing a buggy / stroller. Under no circumstances TAKE YOUR HUSBAND WITH YOU! Or you will end up with an off-road monster suitable for climbing mountains when you live in Chelsea.
    I'm just saying...

    Aha, EPM, but behold, the Halo fits in the boot of an old-fashioned mini. It is indeed a saint amongst buggies... Although don't for a moment think you'll get the weekly shop in there at the same time.

  6. You can imagine how I feel with my first born now 16. And the gear bought for her was used for the next two as well, so there was no updating for me in the space of 5 years, despite progress made in baby gear technology. Those three-wheeled 'jogging' strollers weren't out then. I'm SURE I would have exercised more had I had one of those to push instead of the McLaren pram/stroller combo with the little wheels that went psycho if you hit any rough ground. I'm SURE!


Go on - you know you want to...