Daddy and Munchkin Blog
Our National Trust Top Four

While we only started our membership during the Covid-19 pandemic, we have managed to visit a good handful of National Trust properties. While Oxburgh Hall and the Dunstable downs and a few others didn’t quite make the list, here are our top four of the National Trust properties so far. (This post will get updated over time as we visit more locations).

4. Clumber Park, Worksop

Clumber park is a huge expanse of woodland and park land situated off the A1, south of Worksop. It has many a peaceful walk surrounded completely by nature, letting you feel totally disconnected. This is the property we first saw Munchkin’s love for nature grow. His little nine-month old eyes lit up when he first saw the trees towering above him and his love for nature hasn’t changed since.


3. Belton House, Grantham

Belton House is a one of the properties I visited as a child, and we have revisited many a time with Munchkin. It has a giant wooden park which, for a little one, stretches for miles, is the National Trusts biggest play area, and is topped off with a woodland train to give you a swift ride through the trees. Belton House hosts fantastic Christmas light displays (which we will certainly be visiting this winter) and has a fantastic property (which you can visit again now).


2. Anglesey Abbey, Cambridge

Just pipped by Cliveden for the top spot, Anglesey Abbey was the first property to fuel my passion for visiting National Trust properties. Set in 114 acres, north-east of Cambridge, Anglesey abbey features a fantastic woodland park (which is sadly currently closed due to Covid-19) and fabulous seasonal gardens which surprise us on every visit. We love a stroll or toddler-run up and down the tree -lined grass walkways and an amble alongside the river which leads up to a working water mill.


1. Cliveden, Maidenhead

Set on a stretch of the Thames, north-west of London, this property has miles and miles of woodland and riverbank to wonder. It boasts a fantastic property (albeit one we’ve only seen from the outside as we visited during Covid times, during our October getaway). There’s a fantastic wooden storybook themed play area, a wooden play trail, options for boating trips and absolutely stunning gardens.

We learned a lesson at this one which we found out the hard way. If you walk the many miles up to the southern car park and then down the Thames, this may be a beautiful walk but there is a chance your toddler will get tired, go in the pushchair and fall asleep. But that’s fine right? Well not when the return up the hill is many many steep steps, which is a challenge with all the day’s bags, a pushchair and a toddler sleeping inside!

That said, it is such a fantastic and beautiful property. The view of the Thames is spectacular, and there’s plenty for the kids to do when not wondering through the woodland. That’s why its made the top spot.

National Trust Membership

As mentioned in the intro, we have a National Trust membership which grants us access to the houses and gardens, free parking (at most properties) and a handy dandy guidebook. For two adults its only £10/month and for a family of two adults plus children its only £10.50. To compare, a visit to Cliveden costs £15 per adult and £7.50 per child aged 5 – 17, with children under 5 go free, so membership was a no brainer for us.


Which is your favourite National Trust? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading,

national trust

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The Big Jump back to Normality

With the vaccination programme in full swing, and even with the slight disturbance from the new Covid-19 variants, things seem to be looking up and we are on the road to normality. With the situation improving, comes exciting times ahead, but with these exciting times I personally have an approach with a anxious sense of apprehension, as the return to normality comes with some big big changes and a big jump back to normality.

people at concert, return back to normality
Doesn’t this seem a world away?
Photo by Vishnu R Nair on Pexels.com

Let’s start with the positives though, writing this in the week of 26 June means my age (the big 30) are now eligible for the vaccine and I’m all booked for my two doses and ready and raring to go. By the end of August, I’ll be fully vaccinated and ready for normality, or at least my immune system will be…

Being vaccinated is great as I have a lot to look forward to. In August alone, we have a holiday to Center Parcs booked, one we have pushed back three times now. I’m going to a festival in London, the crystal maze experience, and to see Hamilton. Its going to be a mega month.

The last time we made it to Center Parcs with a tiny Munchkin.

And that is where, sitting at home and writing this where I have lived, worked and spent a lifetime on Netflix for the majority of the pandemic, I find it hard to see myself back out there, as exciting as those things are. It is such a big jump from this house to a festival environment or packed into a theatre.

This is nothing new though, and I’ve always explained this as my comfort zone having to adapt. When things change, like starting a new project at work, and I find it hard to immediately adjust and feel a little out of place. Give it a week or so and my ‘comfort zone’ expands and I relax and enjoy the new challenge. The trouble with coming out of lockdown though, is that my comfort zone has to expand a lot further than it ever has before. Time will tell really how easy that is.

That said I cannot wait to see people again properly. My best mates have a new little baby that really needs a cuddle (or maybe it’s me that needs a baby snuggle?) and it will be wonderful to have lunchtime walks with my work ‘twinny’ again. It’s just such a big change.

How do you feel about returning to normal? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading,

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Ways for Dads to bond with a Newborn

From the moment you enter the maternity ward, your world flips upside down. You used to be the decider of your sleep schedule and knew roughly what time of day it was by how you felt. Suddenly, as you appear from that sauna hot room of first cries, sweat and tears, everything has changed. Your now a Dad and so here’s some tips to help bond with that little ball of cuteness.

Rewind! Bonding starts with the bump

I got a little ahead of myself there. Bonding actually starts way before you even think about packing your hospital bag. From six months of ‘cooking’ inside Mummy’s belly, your little one can begin to learn. I’ll admit its weird at first, but then this is the time to introduce yourself, so they know who you are from day one. Oh and so they are used to your terrible singing voice from the onset!

Hello, little one

From day one there are many things you can do to build your bond, many of which are super simple.

Be present

No little one is going to bond with someone who isn’t there. Make sure you’re at home and engaged with the new arrival. Cancel some pub trips, sport or xbox time, get on the sofa, and have a snuggle. Share the feeds, where possible and get up during the night, and share the feeds and nappy changes. Sit by the bath and help at bath time. Read a book at bedtime. Just be there.

Do things babies enjoy

It may seem obvious. But engage with the new baby by doing the things babies enjoy. Pull faces, smile, sing, rock, snuggle, and be the general goof you know you are. You’ll be rewarded by looks of joy, later smiles and then giggles.

Display affection with kisses and cuddles and have some skin to skin time. It works just as well for Dad just as much as Mum.

Have some one on one time

This has a double benefit. It gives Mum some time for some ‘me’ time and gives you time with your new child alone. Go for a walk, and get the satisfaction of all the smiles you get from passers-by. Or go one further, take your baby to ‘Rhyme time’ or ‘Messy play’ or ‘Baby massage’.

If you really want to go to town, and your other half doesn’t mind returning to work early, do we me and my Wifey did, and share parental leave. My wife Natalie took the first six months, and I took the latter. This meant I had 8 hours on one on one with Munchkin every week day and boy, did we have fun. You can read about SPL (shared parental leave) in this post.

And that’s as simple

Thanks for reading, do you have any other tips?

And if you are a new Dad, have a read of ‘Five tips for a New Dad‘ which echoes similar sentiments to this post with other tips for new Dads.

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Splosh Review

It’s time for ‘another way to reduce plastic product review from me with a Splosh Review.

I have already swapped out my general cleaner/ window cleaner/ toy cleaner/ floor cleaner for Koh (which you can find the review here), and my dishwasher tab and washing tab provider for Smol (this review still needs writing!).

These changes still left the problem of buying soap bottles, washing up liquid and toilet cleaner. Whilst these are all fully recyclable by combining general curbside recycling and Terracycle, I thought there could be a better alternative, and for that I turned to Splosh.

Splosh seem to have solved the plastic problem in a different way. Rather than producing and supplying endless plastic bottles they send you one (or as many as you need, like soap and toilet cleaner as you may want one per bathroom). That one bottle lasts and with that, you’ve saved 95% of plastic waste. They do hand soap, washing up liquid, laundry detergent, surface cleaner…. and more.

But you want to save 100% plastic?

Well you can. You can then get refills to resupply the original bottles. These refills are concentrated, so supply a number of refills before they are empty. You can then, save up the refill pouches and send them back for free. Simple, and then its 100% plastic free with an endless reuse and recycle system. The fact the refills are concentrated too also saves on the environmental costs related to shipping, so that’s another win, oh and they fit through the letterbox!


For this review we tried the grapefruit washing up liquid, rose and lotus blossom and blackberry soap and mint and eucalyptus toilet cleaner.

Both the soaps are foaming and moisturising leaving your hands feeling fresh, the toilet cleaner smells lovely and fresh and the washing up liquid is tough and smells summery and fresh. Overall, in terms of scent and effectiveness, the Splosh products work exactly as the standard alternatives (like Fairy washing up liquid, and Carex soap).

But Isn’t refilling a pain?

It’s simple. For the soap, just fill to the line on each bottle with hot water, top up to the neck with the refill solution and shake. in this example, one refill refills the soap bottle 6 times, although others are simply refill and use.

It must be expensive then?

Compared to leading hand soap providers, this does clock a little higher at 8p per 100 ml more. However, if you subscribe you save 10% and with big refills you can save even more. As the website says, ‘With each refill, you get that flicker of satisfaction you’re doing something good for the planet’ which makes up for the tiny price increase.

Overall, its a keeper for me and I thoroughly recommend it.

The ratings

If you’re interested in Splosh, I have a referral code you can use below.

Referral code: IPQMARYYX6

Daddy reviewed, Munchkin approved.

Thanks for reading,

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Munchkin’s (/mostly Daddy’s) Favourite Six toddler products at 2 years old

It was at just 7 months old I wrote the last favourite eight products. 16 months later his tastes, or rather ours, have changed. Here are our top six toddler products.

6. A Tuff Tray

This is essential if you want to contain that messy play from the rest of the house and gives Munchkin a clear indication something fun is coming his way. Its useful for all messy play and sensory fun inside and outside the house. Useful, as once we didn’t use it for lentil play and It’s safe to say we found lentils for months after.

5. Trains and Cars!

Oh, Munchkin, you had to get that one in didn’t you. But after all, trains and cars do fill a lot of our free play time. If you’ve got a Hey Dougee fan we recommend their train set. It’s fully wooden, well designed and features all the great Hey Duggee characters. Woof woof.

4. Garden activites

Beyond running and being chased, chalk drawing on the slabs and splashing in the paddling pool, we have an Easel and sandpit from plum play, which I can’t recommend more. Future plans include a mud kitchen for the summer too.

3. His Q-play Trike

It’s nice to start giving them new experiences early when it comes to modes of transport and hence we got Munchkin a trike early on. It was probably a year ago, and he still cant reach the pedals! But it now can start to show him steering, so when those little legs are long enough, hes already got half the skill set. We have a full review of the trike we have here.

2. A good, in our case Cosatto, car seat

Now it doesn’t need to be Cosatto, although we love them for their bright and fun patterns in a world of dull grey and black car seats. But the seat we have, with all its latest safety and security features gives us peace of mind on all journeys (not that we have been making many lately!)

Great for naps too

1. The Mutable

Most importantly, our daily go to activity table, the Mutable. This little bit of perfect Italian design, incorporates many activities in one. From chalk and white board to puzzle base to lego and duplo board. It has a handy stowaway for the boards, and a incorporated storage bag. It wins for Munchkin, and for Mummy and Daddy. Read my full review here.

Thanks for reading,

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Stay Happy Working from Home in Lockdown

I returned from furlough to support other departments in July. Then recently my role changed to computer based and naturally, it was right to work from home. So I packed a PC and got my little home office sorted. But, seeing those four walls and no people could drive anyone crazy. Here’s my seven simple little tips to staying sane working from home in lockdown 2.0.

1. Keep Connected

A lot of workplaces use instant messaging services such as Teams or Slack these days and if not, there’s always good old email. Have those little check ups and conversations you’d normally have in person, online. Get on a video call for a ‘social lunch break’ or catch up over lunch on a online game such as the ever increasingly popular ‘Among us’.

2. Keep a routine

Maybe its not the same routine, but a new routine to give yourself time away from the screen. Either way, find a routine and stick to it. I keep mine as close to normal hours as possible, as I take a real pleasure in the usual 5pm sign off. Also, take breaks from the screen as you would at work. It’s important to look after yourself in the same way as at work.

3. Treat yourself

Reward yourself with whatever makes you tick, whether that be that slice of cake or healthy snack, time to do something fun, or just to get out of the house and go for a wonder. Treat that brain with things that make it happy and it’ll look after you.

4. Celebrate the small things

Friday at home time for example…

5. Appreciate the little things

When is the last time in the office that you got to pick the radio station or take the DJ spot and mix the Spotify playlist, chose the optimum working temperature, or got to show up in your undies or in winter socks and robe (like me)? My point is to appreciate the little things and wins of not sharing your workspace with others, as much as you miss their adorable little colleague faces.

6. Set up the right space

Probably should be number one but hey. Set up your working from home space so it doesn’t interfere with your space to relax. Chose a corner of a room you don’t typically use, or another room entirely. This way you can prevent any negative work feelings encroaching your personal happy space.

7. Let the radio keep you company

It could sound silly at first, but after several days not hearing another human speak during work hours, the radio can be a welcome change. So tune in to your favourite show, and let them help keep you happy.

Happy working from home!

Do you have any other tips? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading,

Five tips for a New Dad

You are excited, but apprehensive. You make the most of those final full nights rest before being flung into a world of changing nappies, sleepless nights but magical moments. Everything changes, so here are my five tips for a new parent, from my experience.

Day one for me

1. Share the Responsibility.

This is 2021, and parenting isn’t the Mum’s job, so its time to share everything. Share the piles of baby washing, the feeding (if you can), the bath times and the bum changes. Chances are you are both equally knackered, so make it the best for you both.

Oh that note, don’t sleep through the night feeds (as hard as that can be). I would always wake, and ask if there was anything I could do or if Natalie wanted some company. This meant I’d usually do the bum change, then pass to Natalie for a feed.

2. Remain in the moment

I started blogging and my Instagram during time off with our Munchkin, but this is where time begins to fly. So pull yourself away from your devices and have some quality time with your little one. You can read about my realisation of this in ‘Living in the Present‘.

3. It can be overwhelming. Take some ‘me’ time.

This could sound like the opposite of points 1 & 2, but its also important to have some time to yourself. Make time for whatever helps you unwind, as all that play and baby books could send you a tad crazy. So make a deal with your partner to give an hour to them, and half one yourself.

4. Split all the jobs and always offer to help

Similar to point one, split all the other jobs. Take a 50:50 approach and see how it helps. My wifey and I split everything, from the cleaning, to the washing to the garden. As a result, there’s never a disagreement and with a little baby around, that’s more important than ever.

5. Make time for your partner

It’s easy to spend all your time on your little one and forget about each other. It may seem silly, but it can be good to schedule in a ‘date night’ or trip away (when permitted) while the Grandparents get some baby time. We had a spa night away in Munchkin’s first year. It was great to have some chill time and some ‘us’ time.

Do you have any other tips for new dads? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading,

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Other Ways to Reduce Your Environmental Impact at Home

I have focused my environmental posts on the reduction of single use plastic as this the issue I’m most passionate about. (If you want to catch up, all the posts about reducing plastic are below). However, there are many other changes you can make to reduce your environmental impact. Here’s some other switches we have made, which may inspire you to change.

1. Chose Renewable or Carbon neutral Energy.

This is simple. When you look to change your energy supplier each year (which is good to save some pounds too), also look for green energy companies. We switched to Bulb last year with 100% renewable energy and carbon neutral gas.

2. Reduce the amount of energy you use. Use less energy led bulbs, power saving modes

Using less energy doesn’t always seem simple but there are a few easy things to switch. Next time your light bulbs need changing, get longer life, lower energy LED alternatives. Really need your games console on ‘always on’ or your TV on standby? Look at smart plugs, which can turn it all off completely or activate power saving or Eco modes.

3. Compost your waste

If you have a spare corner in the garden, consider home composting and if not, consider getting a ‘brown’ bin subscription, Food waste can be easily composted, producing nutritious compost to help grow food for next year. (I’ve got half this sorted, composting for years but still need to build a planter to grow food, thats one for this year!)

4. Save heat with insulation

We recently got our loft boarded, which meant checking their was sufficient insulation. This keeps our carbon neutral heat where we need it.

5. Consider reducing your emissions

If you can, walk or cycle instead of driving. When you change your car, consider hybrid, plug in hybrid or electric options. I’ve recently gone to Hybrid with my latest upgrade.

6. Recycle recycle recycle

Recycle what you can. Terracycle what you think you can’t. Reduce buying the things you can’t recycle where you can and consider buying second hand. You can find out about Terracyle here.

Thanks for reading,

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10 things I’ve Lately Learnt as a parent.

Last time I wrote one of these posts things were different (find it here). We were allowed out of the house for non essential reasons, Munchkin was a tiny 8 month old, and our biggest fears were feeding Munchkin the right things. So at two years old, here’s the latest things we have learnt.

1. Even as they sleep through the night the tiredness continues

You fool yourself that tiredness will improve as they master sleeping through the night. But no, the days become more demanding, and as a result you are equally sleepy.

2. They grow up too fast

It’s a line you’ve heard before and its true. One minute they stay still, the next they are running from room to room. One minute they giggle and ‘ga ga’ and the next they sing full lullabys and demand what they want, when they want it. Time flies when you are a parent.

3. Parenting (at this age) improves lockdown

I think we are lucky we have Munchkin in lockdown. We haven’t lost our minds with boredom or completed Netflix. Entertaining him keeps us entertained and consequently improves our lockdown.

4. They copy every thing you do

This thought always takes me back to that old smoking advert showing toddlers smoking crayons as they copy their parents. But its apparent daily how munchkin picks up little mannerisms or turn of phrase. Often surprisingly quickly.

5. If they like to climb, every household object is a climbing frame

We’ve got a climber in Munchkin. Every time he’s quiet he’s either mounting a dining chair or jumping on the sofa. The world is his playground, which means we need eyes in the back of our heads.

6. Nursery is amazing for development, albeit blooming expensive

We can’t fault our decision to use nursery, although it costs a bomb. He learns something everyday, grows in confidence and it gives him the opportunity to see and bond with others his age (especially important right now!)

7. You will eventually get bored of certain programmes

Don’t worry Dugee, there’s always room for you, but move over Teletubbies and In the Night Garden, if I never see a Ninky Nonk or Tubby custard again it will be too soon.

8. The last stage always seems easier

When they progress through the developmental stages, you are always eager for the next stage. But when they come, you always miss the ease of the last. The important note here is to live in the moment, moving on from the past and not looking into the future. Just enjoy the here and now.

9. You shouldn’t feel offended when they don’t choose you

As they find their voice, they start to make choices, and this includes which parent should do what. Munchkin went through a 100% Mummy phase, to a 100% Daddy phase and now its mostly 50:50 again. It is believed that when your child begins to choose, its because they feel safe and secure, so it should never offend as saddening as it may be.

10. There is no parenting manual

This needs no explanation. All our children are different and therefore there’s no manual or rule book that dictates when things should happen. If there was, Munchkin would have been late for all the gross motor targets. But now hes running about like an Olympic runner so all is good.

learnt as a parent

Thanks for reading,

If you want to see what we learnt at Eight months, check it out here.

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Start 2021 by Preventing Plastic Pollution.

While there’s enough going on right now, and the headlines focus on other issues, plastic is still a problem for our planet.

Here’s some new tips to reduce or remove plastic from your everyday. We have made these switches alongside those previously covered:

All opinions are my own, and where I profit this is highlighted.

1. Choose plastic free dishwasher and washing tablets

For all your dishwasher and laundry (bio and non-bio) needs there is one supplier who stands out for us, Smol. We have been using them for a few months now and can honestly say there no reason not to switch. They are cheaper than leading alternatives and equally effective, with fully cardboard packaging but still with child safe locks, delivered to your door and with a free trial.

Check out Smol at smolproducts.com

2. Clean and protect your entire house, and reduce your plastic foodprint

There a full review of Koh here. But, put simply, they provide cleaning cloths and solutions with reusable bottles and washable cloths. The solution works on your oven, but is safe on your kids toys. More recently, they have a developed a solution which repels bacteria for 7 days from application – clever stuff and plastic reduced!

Visit koh.com

3. Buy from responsible retailers.

I’m not saying this is always easy to find out, but if you look around you can. For example, we have recently got some lovely dried flower displays from our good friend SunSoakedFlorals who uses 100% plastic free packaging.

beautiful dried flower wreaths and displays – zero plastic

Similarly, if you need a new board game, big potato board games have removed all plastic from their packaging. If you are interested I can also give you 22% off*. Contact me on Instagram or by email for a code.

*I earn commission on sales at big potato board games, but own enough of them to prove my thoughts are genuine.

4. Use biodegradable nappies when the reusable ones are in the wash

image from https://kitandkin.com/

While reusable nappies are brilliant during the day for us, they struggled at night, and there was always the wash days which needed disposables. Biodegradable disposables may expensive, but when using them at the rate we do, when balancing with reusables, its unnoticeable. For biodegrable nappies we use kit and kin. But other good brands exist such as Naty, Beaming Baby and more. We chose kit and kin for their cute designs.

Visit Kit and Kin at kitandkin.com

5. Choose plastic free deodorant

I switched to natural, plastic free deodorant by AKT over six months ago and It’s one of the best things I have done. It smells great, makes me sweat less, contains no carcinogens like antiperspirant and is developed by west end performers (and I love a musical).

Image from aktlondon.com/

Smell better and save plastic at aktlondon.com

6. Protect your gadgets with biodegradable cases

Here’s another great one I discovered recently. If, like me, you like to upgrade your devices, you also tend to buy a new case to protect it. And what happens with that case when you recycle your device? Here’s where Pelacase come in, they make durable, but compostable phone and airpod cases and watch bands. I’ve used one for two months, and noticed no difference to my usual plastic housing. So next time you upgrade your phone, upgrade your case too.

Use code WM to save at uk.pelacase.com*

*I earn commission as a wavemaker at pelacase but my opinion would be the same regardless.

Do you have any more plastic free swaps? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading,

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