Thursday, 23 July 2015

An essential FREE tool for all parents - the British Red Cross Baby and Child First Aid app #rappedup

As a mother of 7 I am very used to people asking me parenting questions although since each child is different I am still learning new strategies even with my youngest child.

Often I am asked school-related questions simply because I have trudged up the path of our local primary school for more years than most (17 years so far, 5 more to go) whilst at other times I am asked parenting or medical questions presumably since I have seen most rashes and experienced a good range of first aid emergencies over the years.

I have described before how having 7 children seems to entitle me to a season ticket to the Accident and Emergency department and if you want to know where the best hospital cafe is located or where to park I am definitely your woman.

I have used the non-emergency 111 number before now too including one memorable occasion when my son ate a red hot chilli pepper. Yes, this IS the same son who ate dishwasher powder, played with Yew tree berries like sweeties and sucked up blue toilet water through a flannel.

The chilli incident happened when he was about 8. I had been given a chilli plant by one of the parents at the school where I worked as a teaching assistant. I placed it carefully out of reach (or so I thought) but my little monkey climbed and picked the tiny chilli and took a bite.

Blood curdling screams filled the house and as he held his open mouth under a running cold water tap I rang 111 to ask advice. The lovely chap who answered was professional and calm right up until one question where he snorted with laughter before apologising then asking - "is the child floppy or unresponsive?"

Since we had been having to shout at each other over the screams we both knew this was a superfluous question but they have a script and must stick to it!

In case you are wondering, adding cold water was the WRONG thing to do -soap and olive oil was prescribed to stop the burning and protect the mucous membranes from drying out. After ten years of avoiding anything with chilli in my son has now dared to eat food containing the ingredient in more normal doses.

Handy as 111 is I wish I had the convenience of a First Aid app like one created by the British Red Cross - essential for every parent I believe, especially those heading off on holiday.

For some reason we often seem to end up having accidents on holiday including the time the child pictured above fell 4 inches off the bottom step of the stairs in our holiday cottage and broke his leg! That was Portsmouth's hospital added to our list of "hospitals we have visited."

The British Red Cross Baby and Child First Aid app is being promoted with hilarious YouTube videos including this one, the first in the series, which features some very cute rapping kids and babies with some handy advice about potential poisoning accidents.

Isn't that a fabulously fun way to get the message across?

Packed with useful videos, easy to follow advice and a test section – it’s absolutely free and simple to download onto your iPhoneiPad or Android device.

The app features a handy device enabling parents to record their child’s medication needs along with the following features:


Simple, easy-to-understand advice and frequently asked questions on 17 first aid scenarios. Videos, step-by-step instructions and animations make it fun and easy to pick up.


Get expert tips on how to prepare for some of the most common emergency situations, from accidents in the garden to a fire at home. Sections include a list of tips and handy checklist.


Act fast when things go wrong. This instantly accessible, step-by-step section gives you the key information to know what to do in emergency first aid situations.


Find out how much you’ve learned in our test section, which provides a useful opportunity to check that you’ve picked up all the necessary skills. 


Find out more about the life-saving work of the British Red Cross – including volunteering opportunities, latest news and how to sign up for a first aid course. 

It's very comforting to know that I can refer immediately to the app to help make a decision about next steps after an incident. With poisoning for instance do you give water, or milk, or nothing? The app will help ensure you don't do the wrong thing before trained medics can help.
Well done British Red Cross - a fabulous FREE tool for parents and grandparents or anyone who cares for babies and children.
You can find out more and download the app HERE.

I am happy to support the British Red Cross #rappedup campaign and have received NO payment or incentive to publish this post. 

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Camping in the Forest-our perfect weekend & camping tips

Perfect is a strong word but bear in mind since previous holidays we have attempted often seem to involve some form of medical, financial or weather-related disaster I feel justified in using it on this occasion.

I had hoped for a idyllic few days under canvas while the children played outdoors, we could enjoy al fresco meals, traditional holiday activities like crabbing and beach combing and cosy evenings with my family.

I booked 2 nights at Ashurst Campsite through Camping in the Forest's clever site-finding app - a genius idea which came out of a collaboration between the Camping and Caravanning Club and the Forestry Commission.

I dreamed of a relaxing break while expecting a stressful blend of bored kids clamouring for electricity and constant work keeping our family of 7 comfortable, fed and happy.

And while I did spend quite a bit of time preparing meals using one gas ring and a mini BBQ it was FUN! I even managed to stick to my current low carb eating plan cooking bacon and mushrooms for breakfast. The smell was so wonderful even a visiting pony was spotted licking his lips.

camping and BBQ in New Forest

The children played rounders and ball games, climbed trees, admired the wild New Forest ponies who meandered round the site looking for food (we hid ours in the car!) and even enjoyed helping to set up camp, fetching water, arranging their "bedrooms" and even washing up in the spotlessly clean washing up area in the toilet/shower/laundry block.

(As an aside that block was gorgeously warm and clean and I didn't see a single creepy crawly in there! )

camping in New Forest and wild ponies

I had a wonderful deja vu moment walking across to the block with our washing up with my younger daughter who is the spitting image of me at her age. It took me right back to when I went camping with my parents and I used to wash up with my mum. Sounds silly but I was so pleased to be able to share the camping experience of my youth with my own children.

We enjoyed a tasty BBQ, a sunny picnic, went crabbing and met up with my eldest son who lives about 30 minutes from Ashurst. We visited beautiful Beaulieu and admired the pier with train and ferry at Hythe (definitely going back there for a ferry ride) and the sight of wild ponies and cows in the New Forest was endlessly exciting!

crabbing on UK coast at Hayling island

Only a few gripes - some people don't seem to get camping etiquette. We were woken by inconsiderate people from different tents partying after the 10.30pm "quiet time" cutoff. One couple had a loud chat at 4am! You expect early mornings but children squealing at 6am with no-one seeming to be in control was a bit much too.

I was impressed to see the site had a phone charging facility and the laundry room looked fabulous but I was disappointed to discover there was no ice-block exchange service which I thought was pretty much standard at anything but the most primitive sites. That meant keeping food cool on a hot weekend was impossible even in our cool bags, and we ended up throwing food away which was frustrating on our tight budget.
camping at Ashurst in New Forest

We were lucky with the weather with only a short period of rain while we were still snuggled in our sleeping bags and the experience has boosted my enthusiasm for camping and we would love to go again soon.

Our top tip for newby campers - many "budget"stores like B&M, Wilkinson and even Poundland now stock camping equipment like kettles, cookware, picnic sets, sleeping bags, blow up beds, fold-up chairs and even gas stoves providing great value for money especially if you are only planning to be a weekend camper.

Specialist camping stores are fabulous if you plan a longer trip or if you really don't know what you might need as they will have experts on hand to help you build your kit.

Have a practice session putting up a new tent and try to arrive at your site well before dusk. Don't spend a fortune on your first tent. Buy budget or borrow until you know what you want out of your tent.

We like a built-in ground sheet and a decent sized living area with lots of windows letting in light on drizzly days. Others must have an awning while others like a simple no-frills design which goes up and down quickly. Bear in ind many sites now either don't accept "jumbo" tents or charge a premium fee for them.

We got serious tent-envy walking round the campsite but with tents sometimes costing many hundreds of pounds it's sensible to consider just how often you might actually go camping before buying a tent and kit which costs as much as a short break in Spain!

Disclaimer: We enjoyed two nights free at Ashurst Campsite in the New Forest from Camping In The Forest (@Camping_CITF) for the purposes of this honest review. Views and opinions are my own.