I really don’t like coffee at all, unless it’s heavily flavoured and full of milk. So it’s not really coffee anymore at all but just a sugary and milky latte. I do love a good catch up in a coffee shop though, usually with a good friend or cousin. Talking at high speed about all sorts is very therapeutic and coffee shops across the nation must act as a very helpful outlet for a lot of venting.

I find myself chucking the not too much sugar vow straight out the window in December. It’s the fault of those novelty Christmas hot chocolates. I usually want to work my way through every single one, just to try the new flavours. I’m still trying to pluck up the courage to try the salted caramel one. Mixing salt into a mmilk drink just feels so wrong. But I need to still try. The problem these days is that cutting down on sugar through the year has meant I find it all really sweet. I still power through though, like a dedicated hot chocolate trooper. I must try them all, including the Black Forest hot chocolate I tried this week. Until I eventually get to the end where I throw in the sugary towel and feel a tiny bit sick.

I then resort back to ordering a good old pot of tea and some cake, usually of the carrot variety, and you’ll find me trying to get my coffee mate to eat more than half the cake, because I’m trying to be good. Throw in Christmas novelty biscuits, Christmas savoury snacks, Christmas tins of chocolate, and December suddenly becomes really hard, doesn’t it?

Christmas hot chocolate

Photalife

I always really wanted something like the City Tour by Baby Jogger when I was pregnant with Baby E. The one hand fold was just so appealing and they always look like such nicely designed buggies don’t they? But I already had a pristine looking Quinny that I’d bought 5 years ago. It had hardly been used and was in almost perfect condition so, in the end, my head won over my desire for a new stroller and I parked the new buggy dreams. I have to say I was delighted when we got sent the City Tour by Baby Jogger to review.

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First impressions
It is a very stylish piece of baby strolling kit. I thought I would persuade the husband to assemble it for me when it arrive and he did it within a couple of minutes. Mainly as there’s no assembly whatsoever. You pop the wheels on and that’s about it! We have the onyx one which is perfect for us but you can also get it in a Juniper (close to teal) and a lovely violet. I think one of the things that defines Baby Jogger is the way the seat goes all the way from top to toe. So they have a good head rest as well as a good foot rest. That’s not always available in all strollers and this is one the first things that struck me; that he’s going to be quite comfortable in it.

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The City Tour – Our favourite features

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The straps


Baby E pretty much wanted to try it out straight away and climbed into it to acquaint himself. Then he sat as if he was in his favourite armchair and watched Bing on CBeebies whilst I took some photos of all the little features. The five point harness is such an excellent thing for little wrigglers, especially my wriggler. Our current stroller has a five point harness too but he always manages to loosen it up just by leaning forward. The City Tour has good quality and sturdy straps that stay in place (thankfully!!), so we’re not forever adjusting the straps back again to keep him snug and secure.

City tour by Baby Jogger

City tour by Baby Jogger

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The recline and the hood


My other favourite bit was the reclining back. There is a toggle on the back which lets you adjust the height easily. You can alter the recline quite quickly, and it doesn’t suddenly plummet, so your baby won’t get a shock. It’s a great thing to see your baby leaning against what looks like a nice padded frame as you know he can snooze in it very happily. It also means we can do long walks and days out and he can nap on the go.

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The hood is another really good and practical feature. Its a four panel, large, SPF 50+ extendable hood that has a peep window at the top and extends out in a similar fashion to a robust slinky. It can be retracted all the way back too when you’re not using it, or when you need to collapse it back down.

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The two point collapse


Putting the stroller up and collapsing the stroller back down again is easy once you know how. You do need to take a few minutes to just familiarise yourself but there are clear instructions on the buggy and you probably need one or two practice runs and you’re away. You pretty much press the button on the top your handlebar, fold it over, press the red release button, which is just under the seat, and then pull the correct handle in the seat. This will fold the stroller up umbrella style. It took me a few attempts but I can now do it! Baby E is now getting too heavy for the baby carrier on school runs so this stroller has come at the perfect time for my poor back.

You can store the whole thing in a Baby jogger rucksack style bag and its great to carry on your back. Personally, this is not something I think I’ll ever do it, as mine lives in the boot of my car, but its a great way to carry it if you ever need to.

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Its light and you can take it on a flight!


As I’m 5 foot nothing in height I love anything that’s compact and anything that’s light. The City tour is Baby Joggers lightest and most compact stroller yet at 14lbs. My Quinny takes a bit of effort to dismantle and then pack into the car boot of my Volkswagen golf. The city tour folds down so neatly in comparison and it doesn’t feel like you’re wrestling it into a small space.

AND its small enough for the overheard compartment on flight! Whilst we haven’t had chance to test this out on a flight just yet, I LOVE this fact, as it means we won’t be waiting about on our next holiday looking for our stroller on a separate conveyor belt to the rest of our luggage, which is what happens, more often than not. I saw a couple recently on our Abu Dhabi holiday with their Baby Zen Yoyo and they look similar in structure, and it fit into the overhead quite nicely so I have high hopes for our next trip.

Just a word of caution…the airline will only let you take it on IF their policies allow it. We went to Turkey early on this year and that particular airline still didn’t allow them on board. I’m hoping all airlines will be ok with compact strollers by early next year…which is when we hope to escape abroad again!


The maneuverability


There is something about me that loves 3 wheeled strollers. I’m not sure why, but I think it makes them look like they are very streamlined. I’m slightly hesitant when I see a 4 wheeled one but then I realised something in testing the City Tour. It’s not the number of wheels. It’s the high powered maneuverability that I love. The pushing about one handed whilst you’re on the phone. The changing direction in a nano second because you’re in a rush and having your stroller keep up with you. The smooth turning of corners without any kind of jarring. That’s what I love about a good quality stroller and the City Tour has them all. You can lock the wheels to roll straight if you need to and then unlock just easily at the base of the wheels.

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the City Tour by Baby Jogger – Overall

City Tour

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I can’t wait to take this on our next road trip and holiday abroad. It’s such a comfortable stroller and I will no longer have to support Baby E’s head once he falls asleep by popping his blanket under his chin. Its a brilliant space saver in the car too which means the Quinny will now go into storage whilst this becomes our main buggy for all trips. As it lasts from 6 months to 3 years I can see how this would be worth the price if you buy it early enough. It’s been designed to a really high standard and its something that’s already serving me well on school runs. I’m not quite sure how it might fare on sand or snow…but time (and our many photos of our trips) will tell!

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We were sent the City Tour by Baby Jogger to review. All views are our own.

We're going on an adventure

If I had a pound for every time someone asked me if Abu Dhabi was family friendly, I’d have about £7 now. It’s somewhere we’ve popped into once before as one of my oldest friends lives there (she’s not “old” old, we’ve been friends since we were about 4 years old). And since we’ve been to Dubai about 6 times we decided, with the added bonus of the flight tickets being cheaper, we would check out Abu Dhabi.

It really is very family friendly and there’s a lot to do there for both kids and adults. It’s the capital of the UAE and it reminded me of a calmer kind of Dubai; a bit more residential, but still a lot to keep you entertained for a good few days.

These are just some of the things we did and a couple of things we didn’t do that we definitely would want to next time…

Playing on the hotel beaches
They have some fabulous beaches there, both public and private and we spent a lot of time on our hotel one. Everywhere has a light sandy and huge stretches to play on and we built sand castles most days. The heat in November (when we went) reached about 31 degrees and can still get really hot around midday so you definitely need suncream. I believe it can reach up to 50 in the summer which is the same as Dubai and that would be way too hot for me, but some people would adore it! We loved just lounging about and the baby even tried to eat it on occasion. I’m pretty sure he didn’t like it but that didn’t seem to stop him trying every so often. The sea was nice and warm and super salty so the 5 year old was thrilled at finding he floated a bit more easily. I think it built his confidence in the water a bit more but, for now, he still has his arm bands glued on.

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Fairmont beaches 2

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Going to Ferrari world
This was my biggest surprise of our trip. I was fully expecting a place with a lot of cars to admire and then a handful of rides that wouldn’t be kid friendly. We didn’t really do much research but knew that we wanted to see it. It’s Ferrari, so you have to don’t you? I was really pleasantly surprised to find it’s REALLY kid friendly. They have so many soft play areas and kid friendly rides and we ended up spending the best part of the day there. I think it would be ideal for 8 and above but we managed to go on a lot. Next time we do need to book some things in advance though to get the most out of it. It is what I call “theme park pricey” but you can find lots of deals online to save some money and hopefully the tips I’ve put in my Ferrari world post might help someone. They really are beautiful cars and you have to admire them close up. You can read all about our trip here.

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Visiting the Corniche
The cornice is a huge stretch across the western front and has been awarded the blue flag status which is the internationally renowned eco-label for beaches. They have a huge sandy beach and it’s a brilliant place to just play, or cycle across their cycle paths or have a go on their outdoor go karts. It’s overlooked by their business and financial hub and there’s a lot of skyscrapers to admire if you like architecture. We had a fun evening of go-karts there. The other half was coming down with the bug that the kids had caught and the poor guy spent a lot of time looking queasy and sitting quietly. I didn’t know it at the time but I would get it about 3 hours after that and we, very very luckily, would end up changing our flight to a day later.

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The Sheikh Zayed mosque
This mosque is such a brilliant piece of architecture. It is a stunning place to visit to admire all the symmetry, the beautiful Swarovski chandeliers, the intricate detail and just the sheer size of it all. I would highly recommend going at least twice, once in the day time to see the white marble in daytime and once at night when it’s all lit up. You can see my nighttime photos of it all here. Entry is free and you do need to cover up but they will give you a gown to wear if you don’t have anything with you. Everywhere seems to love kids there and here is no different. The little ones can have a good run about the courtyards whilst you admire it all.

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Brunch
I had never heard of how big brunches were in Abu Dhabi, or indeed anywhere in the Middle East, but they are really impressive. Like a super sized British brunch (and more), they are held every Friday across a lot of hotels and have everything from classical brunch food to more extravagant lobster, Italian food, Indian food, amazing desserts and a lot of cuisines in between. You can make the mistake of having breakfast beforehand not knowing just how big these brunches are but they are worth the experience at least once as they go on for hours and are very delicious. We had the one at the Fairmont hotel in Abu Dhabi and we loved it. You can see all those photos here.

The Yas Mall
We spent a lot of time in this Mall. It’s huge and there’s so much to do with kids! We loved eating at Rogos, where all your food comes down on loop the loop mini rollercoasters and then spent time wandering about the place. Everywhere seems to have play areas and, at one point, we stumbled into a huge toy shop that had a life size Optimus Prime on one side and a humongous Barbie castle on the other. We had to drag the boys out of there eventually.

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There were a couple of things we didn’t do that I definitely would like to go back for one day. Yas waterworld is a huge water park targeted at all ages and has around 45 water slides. It looks huge as you drive past it and people do rave about it. We decided to give it a miss as the boys had only just recovered from their bug but would love to if we ever went back. And the last place we definitely need to go next time in the Emirates palace. Oh and there’s the Grand prix too. I’m not too sure if that’s kid friendly but I do want to see that at least once.

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It’s a place I’d highly recommend to families as well as couples or groups of friends. There’s enough to keep you entertained for a good few days and you can easily pop to Dubai too in about an hour in a car if you prefer a much more jam packed holiday. I loved the relaxed feeling Abu Dhabi offers and I think we’d definitely go back …maybe next year!

Extraordinary Chaos
Wander Mum

Family friendly things to do in Abu Dhabi

I really love this time of year. I don’t particularly like the weather or the darkness and am much more a sun lover, but I do love the epic wind down that happens from about now. Christmas songs and movies start coming on, houses go crazy with xmas twinkly lights, work start talking about things that must be done “after Xmas” and schools pack the weeks with fun activities. It’s such a brilliant time to just stop, relax and watch mostly everything on TV. It’s also the time of year I promise to organise my blog a bit more. Some bits get done and some bits don’t and I usually just end up reading some of my old posts and laughing to myself.

I do get a very weird urge to declutter everything in our house during this time. We do a huge clean up of toys, food in the cupboard and clothes and then everything goes either in storage, to charity or into recycling. It’s a fantastic time of year to donate to refuges, shelters and charities that collect toys. Our social worker friend regularly reminds us that this is one of their peak times and they are always in desperate need of things to help people so I think it’s now ingrained into our heads to do it.

And of course, it’s the season of colds and all sorts of kiddie germs. There is a whole round of chicken pox going round our area and we’ve been watching the boys like hawks. Apparently you can get them more than once, which is nice. So far, Baby E has just an annoying cold and he thinks he has mastered wiping his nose. At the moment that action consists of sometimes using the tissue correctly, sometimes trying to eat it, and sometimes blowing a raspberry against it to emulate blowing his nose.

Wintery days baby

Photalife

Our littlest man turned 14 months a couple of days ago and he’s reaching a few lovely milestones. He’s finally plucked up the courage to let go of the furniture and take a good few unaided steps. He took his very first steps all by himself a good month or so ago but he then decided not to excite his parents too much and refused to do it again no matter how much encouragement we gave him. It was kind of a blessing on the 8 hour flight to and from Abu Dhabi as it meant he wasn’t too bothered about toddling about and preferred to just stand and climb wherever he was placed.

It was about a week after we were back he suddenly just let go and has been confidently toddling about. He’s still crawling a lot more as it’s faster for him but we get treated to more and more steps as the hours go by. I wonder if he’ll be a full blown toddler this time next month.

He’s also started calling everyone “Baaa!” And he says it quite a lot so sounds like a cute little lamb all day long as he tries to communicate whatever he wants through that one word. He was saying “Daaa” at one point but he now prefers his new word for everything.

He often gets mistaken for a girl and I think it’s because of his curly thick hair which we keep promising to cut. We always back out though because we don’t want him to look any older. We definitely should do it though. At some point!

Our civilised little baby wants to eat all his food with a fork, which is in complete contrast to his 5 year old brother who prefers his hands for everything. The only problem is the times he stabs his sibling with it but he’s slowly learning the word “No”. It’s often used by us whenever he tries to scale the coffee table to shake the TV; one of his most favourite hobbies (besides smacking his elder brother a lot!).

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When we checked into our hotel the hotel ran through all their facilities and mentioned “Brunch at the Fairmont” was held on Fridays. I didn’t think too much of it as I was too busy concentrating on when breakfast would be served, but I did make a mental note to find out more about it.

As holidays go, time ran away with us whilst we were having fun and it was soon Friday, the first weekend day of the UAE weekend and Brunch at the Fairmont day. When I saw them starting to set up food stations in, not only all their hotel restaurants, but across all the connecting hallways, I suddenly tried to get a reservation. It was fully booked out. Arghh!! But the hotel said they’d let us know if a table came up and, very luckily, we managed to get a table.

It really wasn’t like our UK brunch. It was huge. Really really huge! And just by chance, we happened to be staying at the hotel that was rated number 1 for brunches in Abu Dhabi. Food heaven! I think what makes this one stand out is how their 4 restaurants plus the entire lower ground floor is turned into a foodie heaven for half the day and you can wander about through all of them sampling everything for hours. You really do have to pace yourself and I’d made the mistake of having a hearty breakfast in the morning. Still, I made a valiant attempt to get around it all and soldiered on for a couple of hours like a food hero. It really is something to experience at least once, if you happen to find yourself in Abu Dhabi and it looks like it’s a huge highlight of their weekend. It goes on till mid afternoon so it really is like a food event more than just a brunch. I think I remember everything from seafood to salads to Indian food to carvery to lobster to Italian to cakes to chocolate shawarmas. Some of you might have noticed all my dessert photos on Instagram. A few of those were especially for kids! I was a bit envious of all their amazing cupcakes, so nicely decorated. I’m not sure I’ll ever look at brunches in the same way again, but here are some of our photos from that very nice foodie adventure….

Brunch at the Fairmont

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Brunch at the Fairmont

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Brunch at Fairmont

Brunch at the Fairmont

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Brunch at the Fairmont

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Brunch at the Fairmont

Brunch at the Fairmont

Amazing cupcakes

Chocolates shawarma

Amazing cakes

Chocolate gallery

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Amazing Oreo cupcakes

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

I was somewhat dreading flying with a one year old this time. It’s why I kept suggesting Spain as the perfect destination for our half term break. The Other Half convinced me that 31 degrees of warm and sunny weather in Abu Dhabi would be worth the 7.5 hours on a flight and when he eventually said he’d look after the baby for the WHOLE journey, I thought it would be a good idea too. I’m not evil enough to make him actually do that, and he knows it too, but it was the nice little con I needed to convince myself that all would be ok and our sometimes loud baby would be completely non-annoying to other humans seated in economy class.

Our grand plan was to keep him awake and very active at the airport as soon as we’d checked in and it meant letting him crawl about and explore wherever he wanted. We had good intentions to change him from his jail bird babygrow into proper clothes but then figured there might be more crawling on the plane, so why not keep him in his stripy suit until we were almost ready to get off

The flight there was surprisingly good. He had a good 3 hour nap perfectly timed around when lunch was served and we all managed to get a good snooze in too. He then spent the remainder of the time “chatting” to the passengers behind us, makings “calls” on the inflight entertainment system remote control and looking out the window. We all heaved a huge sigh of relief as we got off the flight and felt a lot more assured about our flight back.

Flying with a one year old on the way back was a tiny bit different. We were unfortunately seated near a man who seemingly hated babies. He glanced over at us anytime he thought the baby was being too loud, stared for a bit, and then shook his head in frustration and sighed loudly. Baby E obviously didn’t realise what was going on, obviously, but we administered his dummy a lot more than usual just to keep him silent. Two hours in and I was starting to get a bit stressed out with shakey head man who would look up like an annoyed meerkat at every baby squeak, until the Other Half, who has a far more scornful scowl than me managed to get shakey head man to stop his huffing and puffing. I eventually realised that shakey head man was getting annoyed at other passengers around him too anytime they were slightly too loud or fidgety. To him, all these fellow passengers were ruining his back to back movie time. As luck would have it, the man in front of him called a flight attendant over to recline his stubborn seat back. Both he and the flight attendant put more than a bit of welly into forcing the seat back, as shakey head man looked on horrified. It did eventually recline to the whatever the man in front of him desired and shakey head man spent the rest of the flight outraged. I predictably thought of various perfect responses to his passive aggression about a day later and wished I had gone over to him to stop him getting a potential repetitive strain injury in his neck. It doesn’t put me off flying with kids but it’s made me realise that I look forward to the impending family / adult only areas on flights so that we can all be happy in our noisy / quiet areas.

Flying with a one year old

Photalife