Joanne

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Super cute little babies toy review

Ad- This is a collaborative post however, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Super cute little babies are just what our planet need right now with their very own special message to their fans…

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Raving about The Rocketbook

A reusable and sustainable note book

Ad- This is a collaborative post with RocketBook however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Disclosure- This post was written by my partner.

For the last 15 years I have worked within the environmental sector, working with organisations to help them manage and reduce their resource consumption. Often this included organisations considering the amount of paper they used, putting in actions and changes to systems to help reduce paper waste.

Over time, my role changed and adapted, and I moved into a consultancy role where I travel to different organisations to conduct reviews of their buildings and help them to identify opportunities to make improvements to reduce the amount of energy they use. This helps the organisation reduce their carbon footprint and energy costs.

When I attend the organisations building, I need to make a series of notes which are then copied across into an electronic document and saved within their files and because the notes are stored electronically, the paper notes are destroyed once completed. As such, I get through around 3-4 notebooks every year.

That was until a colleague asked me if I had ever heard of a Rocketbook. I was always aware of the concept but had not specifically heard of these books, so I did some research, and the concept is exactly what I was looking for, a notebook that I could reuse, but more importantly, one that would transfer my notes into an electronic file so I could quickly and easily store a digital copy.

I had already tried taking digital products, using my phone or a small tablet, where I could type my notes straight into an electronic file or use voice transcribing, but found them awkward on site, and in the end they ended up making the entire process longer. Nothing seemed to work better than a notebook with quick hand.

Rocketbook offers a range of different books and I went for the fusion A5 Executive notebook as I need a smaller notebook while I am walking round. The booklet has a series of templates including, a to-do list, a weekly calendar, monthly calendar, planning and idea template, dot matrix, and lined paper. Each page has a QR code in the bottom corner that allows the page to be scanned into a digital document.

How the Rocketbook works

You need to download the Rocketbook App and sign up to the system. This is your main email address and general details. The app takes you through the basics in terms of how to set it up, and there are ‘How to’ videos on the Rocketbook website should you wish to look at any other information. Essentially, you can link a range of different destinations, Google Drive, Dropbox, Trello, general emails, etc. 

There are a series of icons within the app which are also located on the bottom of each page. Each icon can be linked to a different destination, so in the A5 booklet, you can setup up to seven destinations, although I believe other book types may offer more, linked to each icon.

To speed up the scan destination, simply circle the icon at the bottom of the page linked to the required destination and it will automatically send the scanned pages to that location. You need to ensure that you circle all the pages within the appropriate scan.

It is worth playing around with this for a while to get the hang of how it works but the process is very quick and simple. One point I think is worth noting, as I discovered it by accident – and a lot of frustration – is that if you write over the icons, even the loop of a ‘Y’ or ‘J’, the scan will consider this a circled icon and send that page to the relevant destination. This was annoying as the marked icon was different to the location I wanted, and it kept splitting the scan up.

Real world use

The book works as expected and is a good replacement for any notebook. The use of the scan and digitalisation of the notes is so useful and saves me a lot of time not having to re-write the notes into an electronic document. The linking of the icons has helped with this, and you can also use Smart Headings, so the files are already named as you want them.

That side of things is great, but there are a couple of snags that are not deal breakers, but certainly need to be considered.

The pen takes 15 seconds to dry (roughly), so if you are scribbling notes in a meeting and need to quickly turn the page, you do have to wait, or you will smudge the last part of your notes. Is no worse than working with a fountain pen, or similar, but can be annoying when you forget.

The pen is not waterproof (at least for the Fusion book) as this is how you clean the page. As a consultant, whilst on site, I need to look around the external elements of the building whilst making notes. In the UK where the weather is not always sunny, this can be problematic, so an element of care is needed, as the page will smudge heavily and even lose part of the notes – as a note, do not wipe your page if it gets wet, as that will destroy everything.

When you scan your page, you have two options; to either scan a picture of the page or transcribe the page into a digital notebook page. The transcribing does work, but it does depend on how neat your handwriting is. My quick hand is not the clearest at the best of times so the transcribe, while it does pick up a good portion of the writing, does require some editing for it to make complete sense.

You have to use their special pens in order to use the book. So far, I have not yet run out of ink, but they are not necessarily the cheapest pens to replace, also should you run out and not have a replacement to hand, then you cannot use the book. I do therefore recommend that you purchase in a handful of pens and replace them every time you start using the last of your pens.

It does state this within the pack, but do not leave writing in the book for a long period of time. It is hard to describe, but having left writing on the page for around 4 weeks I still noticed almost a ghostly image of the writing before when I finally cleaned the page. It was nothing serious as once I wrote over it with something else you couldn’t see it, but I imagine that with time it would get worse (not something that I want to test however).

Overall

I really enjoy using this book. While there are some things that need a little more consideration that you would otherwise not necessarily concern yourself with using a standard pen and notebook, to reduce the use of paper and to scan and send pages digitally, quickly and easily, the Rocketbook is fantastic.

They are more expensive than traditional notebooks, at a cost of £35 plus the cost of the replacement pens, but I don’t need to buy another notebook again, which on average was costing me about £16 a year, so within two years I have made my money back and it saves me around 1-2 hours of transcribing weekly, which alone more than pays for itself. Plus, it helps to reduce my paper waste and means I can be more sustainable in my activities.

Read about my English GCSE course here.

LIFERYDER – FANTASTIC ALL TERRAIN SCOOTER REVIEW

Ad- This is a collaborative post with LIFERYDER however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Both my girls have had scooters since the moment they were old enough and safe enough to have one but we were always limited to using them on smooth, tarred paths because the skinny wheels are not great on anything else.

LIFERYDER is a family brand who have created a solid, versatile scooter, designed in the UK for kids age 5 to 15 years old . Everything about this scooter is eco-friendly from every part being replaceable down to the fully recyclable packaging. The wheels are made from recycled rubber so you will be purchasing a superb all terrain scooter with a lower impact our planet.

LIFERYDER VS Regular scooters

  • Regular scooters are narrow meaning the footplate is quite tapered, the foot plate on the LIFERYDER is broader meaning more space to put your feet when scooting.
  • Regular scooters are mostly made from metal meaning they have a tendency to rust quickly. I have had to replace a couple of scooters for my kids because of the amount of rust that would disperse from being left outside a handful of times.
  • The wheels on the LIFEFRYDER are bigger, thicker and better than the small solid wheels you get on a regular scooter which means you get an all around better experience with the LIFERYDER.
  • A regular metal scooter can really hurt your shin when the base of it swings round. We have all been there, we have all carried our kids scooters home and been walloped in the shin. It hurts! The LIFERYDER does not fully swing round.
  • The LIFERYDER scooter is sturdy, it’s solid, and while it is heavier than your basic scooter it has been designed to a more superior specification and is made to last.
  • You can change how your LIFERYDER scooter looks by buying new graphics unlike regular scooters where you are restricted to one design.

Unboxing and building your new LIFERYDER scooter.

Your LIFERYDER scooter will be delivered in a square box and when you open it you will see how much care and attention has gone into the designing the packaging ensuring each part has a cut out to fit the part in perfectly making sure nothing gets damaged.

It took David over two hours to build the first scooter and stick on the graphics. The second scooter he did a little bit quicker once he knew what he was doing. The longest part was sticking the decals on as there are a lot to do but is worth it when it’s finished.

The assembly

A great feature and selling point to buying a LIFERYDER scooter is that you can buy additional graphic stickers to suit your child as they get older or if they just want something different guaranteeing to keep it looking ‘cool’ and ‘stylish’.

The next job was to adjust the handle bars to suit each girls height and then we are ready…

Emily’s mermaid graphics

You can buy extra accessories from the website like the personalised plate you see in the photo below.

Our adventures

As you can imagine the girls were raring to get out on their new scooters and went out within minutes of David finishing building them. The platforms are a little shorter and wider than regular scooters so it took a few minutes for them to adjust, but once they got the hang of it they were up and down the street with no problems.

They didn’t believe me that they would work on grass so we took them to a local field where we live with a little hill to test them out. The first thing Lydia said to me was how comfortable it felt to ride and Emily loved how sturdy it is, they had so much fun scooting down the grassy hill and across the fields.

Somethings to consider

The only real complaint about the scooters is that while they can be taken down for easier storage, this does require the loosening and tightening of bolts and adjusting the platform. Unlike regular scooters where this can be done quickly with a simple catch, it is not something that is easily done with the LIFERYDER and is probably best when being stored for long periods of time. They are bulkier than standard scooters so this limitation does impact ease of storage.

My overall opinion

Overall, the scooters are great and the girls are exceptionally happy with their new scooters. The chunky wheels make the ride more comfortable, and the girls no longer have to moan about getting off and walking their scooters across a field on the way to school.

The designs we chose are great and the girls love them. The mermaid is perfect for Emily whilst the lovely purple and pink butterflies are girly but older, each matching the girls’ ages almost perfectly.

Our beautiful, low maintenance artificial grass from Easi grass

Disclosure- I paid for our Easi grass service. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

My personal preference when it comes to having real grass or artificial grass will always be artificial grass. My reasoning behind this has come from living in two new build houses where there has been fresh turf laid down for us to maintain and both times we have failed to do so leaving the grass patchy, uneven and dead which was not aesthetically pleasing or safe for Leo.

In our old house, David laid the artificial grass to save some money, it didn’t look that bad and had only taken him a day to complete. The garden was a lot smaller than the garden we have now, It was not perfect bur certainly looked a lot better than what it did. It wasn’t long before weeds started to sprout up through the sharp sand and membrane and poke out of top of the grass and in the summer the grass would get very hot to the point we could not stand on it bare foot, let alone let the kids on it to play.

When we moved to the house we are in now the grass looked beautiful. It had just been laid and all we needed to do was to stay off it and keep it watered which in the grand scheme of things sounds easy enough, right? Wrong. Yes, we could have tried harder with it but we were busy looking after the kids and with David being at work and me being at home looking after two girls under two, the last thing I wanted to do was to set up the hose in the kitchen and run it through to the garden everyday to water the grass.

Over the years, we welcomed our two beautiful dogs and began to transform the garden. The grass came up to our French doors and I was getting frustrated by mud getting traipsed into our house, my hay fever getting aggravated every time David mowed the lawn and not having a solid, flat surface for BBQ’s and garden furniture. We hired somebody to come and extend our patio and construct a 3ft picket fence with a gate so that we can stop the dogs from pooping and weeing on the grass. By this point the grass was already destroyed with giant pot holes from the dogs making it unsafe for all three of my children especially, Leo who struggles to walk on uneven surfaces. It was at this point I told David that I wanted artificial grass again.

I received a number of individual quotes before deciding to go with a company called Easigrass Cambridgeshire & East Anglia. We had to wait a few weeks for our consultation because of how busy they were but it was worth it. Nick came round, measured up and brought some samples for me to look at. I decided that I wanted to for the luxury premium brand ‘Mayfair’ purely because it was ‘luxury’ and felt the nicest on my feet but looked the most realistic. Nick sent me the quote within 24 hours which included everything. The grass, the labour, the skip, the machines. Everything.

I paid the £100 deposit to secure my date and Nick sent me through lots of information and pages upon pages of customer reviews to read through. Just by talking with Nick I got a good feeling and trusted he would give me a beautiful garden. I was right.

Our Easi grass installation date was in August 2021. A few days prior I had received a message to say that two workmen would arrive at 7.30am, which they did and got straight to work. It was a really hot day so I had made sure I had brought plenty of drinks for them. The grass was completed by 3pm.

This is what our garden looked like before.

You can see how uneven and unsafe it was and we really struggled to get Leo’s mobility trike out of the summer house. Our house is built on old sewage works so the men really had to work hard and dig deep through tough clay to get the depth they needed.

I can’t remember exactly what they did but what I do know is when David did ours previously he only did one layer of sharp sand and one layer of membrane where as Easi grass do this multiple times and use a machine to tightly compress and level the surface between each layer.

There was only one problem we experienced regarding our installation and this was because of the size of our garden we could either pay a bit extra and have a complete piece OR have a join which would take the grass up to the white arch to the left of these photo’s. I decided to have the join but one of the men who installed the grass had not realised and it wasn’t until they had left I noticed that it didn’t look quite right. Once I had worked out why it didn’t look right, I immediately contacted Nick and sent him photo’s and he came out to see it.

It turned out that the piece of grass that was missing to take the edge up to the arch was in the van all along but hadn’t been installed due to a misunderstanding, so he organised for his guys to come back the very next day to rectify it. True to his word, they arrived on time and sorted it out.

The grass needs to be left to settle for 24-48 hours before they come back to finish bonding the edges.

Nearly a year on…

In a few months it would be a year since having our Easi grass and it still looks as good as the day we had it done. I also wanted to mention that we have an 8ft trampoline on our grass that is used everyday by my kids and their friends and the base remains the same with no changes. I tend to move the trampoline slightly every other day so that the trampoline is not constantly putting pressure in the same spot. The grass pops back up within 10-15 minutes without me having to do anything.

10 year warranty on the Easi Grass and 5 years on the bases.

All in all, we had a really pleasant experience with Easi grass and would recommend them to anyone who is looking for artificial grass. If you are in the Peterborough, Cambridgeshire area please contact Nick on 07850 327218 and tell him I sent you.

Visit Great Yarmouth – Sea Life centre

Disclosure– We received gifted tickets in return for a review however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Another attraction we visited whilst we were on our mini holiday at Great Yarmouth was the Sea Life centre which is also located along the sea front not far up from the Merrivale model village.

Whilst visiting Great Yarmouth with my family, my main focus was on accessibility as my son has limited mobility and is a wheelchair user. I think taking some time to properly plan your trip reduces a substantial amount of stress and worry when there is an adult or young person in your party who has mobility issues. There is nothing worse than getting to an attraction and finding out that there not accessible.

Like many attractions, Sea Life offers a free carer policy which allows admission for a carer to go free with a full paying ticket upon proof. This could be a PIP or DLA award letter, blue badge, letter from a professional body or a letter from a certified NHS professional dated within the last two years.

Our experience

It has been many, many years since visiting an aquarium and the last time we came the children were all very small and even though they enjoyed seeing all the different sea life they were disinterested by the fact screens. It was really nice to go back with them being much older and now more interested in learning more about the the different sea life as well as seeing them.

Visiting a Sea Life centre as an adult with older kids too is an all round different experience as we now also had the time to read the information screens with them and learn without having to hurry off to the next tank.

I think the green screen photo is a thing now with attractions as the Sea Life had one upon entering. I wore a green dress that day so I blended in beautifully in every background. It didn’t stop us spending £10 on a fridge magnet, thanks Lyds!

At reception the kids were given little activity packs that consisted of a:

  • Pencil
  • Magnifying glass
  • Creature identification guide
  • Peppa Pig- Activity trail
  • Fish for facts quiz

Lydia really enjoyed going through the facts quiz, especially as you can receive a prize at the end when you have handed it in at the gift shop. It really helped to keep the kids engaged by making them read the screens to get the answers and they loved going through it.

We spent around two hours taking our time looking around the different zones of the aquarium. My personal favourite would have to be the jelly fish. Emily was fascinated with the sea turtle, it was humungous despite only being a teenager, I never realised just how big they can get.

The rock pool was a big hit although Emily was a bit unsure about touching a starfish until I had touched it first. The water was freezing and it didn’t feel like I thought it would. I thought it would feel smooth and bit spongey but it was hard, bumpy and rough, I also don’t like cold water and couldn’t tolerate my hand being in there for more than a few seconds so It was a quick in/out for me. You are required to wash your hands before and after touching the starfish. I also noticed sinks in some of the areas for you to wash your hands as your going round to reduce bacteria spread.

One thing I did enjoy, was watching the children playing in the tunnels and being able to look at the fish more intimately through the ‘submarine’ windows and the big overhead fish tank that you walk through where sharks are swimming above your head and you can see everything.

The fact screens were great and going around we learned how to do sign the name of the fish using British sign language. There are interactive boards, and flip boards to play with and underwater telescopes so that the kids can look as if they are in the water at the fish.

Overall we had a lovely morning and learnt so much.

Read more of my Great Yarmouth attraction reviews here.

Accessibility

I found the attraction to be very accessible for wheelchair users with the walkways being wide, level and flat. The only part that was not accessible is the penguin platform where there is a few steps to go up and see an overview of the penguins within their enclosure. You can still see the enclosure from below but you do get an overall better view if you go up top, it also depends on what the penguins are doing at the time.

Toilets

This attraction does have toilets which are located next to the café and gift shop.

The Café and the toilets

Parking

Whilst we were at Great Yarmouth we parked in St Nicholas car park which is opposite the sea front attractions. It is a long stay carpark as we were visiting the sea front pretty much all day so that it why we decided to park here.

£6.00 for up to 4 hours
£9.30 for over 4 hours

Try find another working pay machine if one is not working, It will suggest you pay using there app but this adds an additional charge of 20p (It’s not much but it’s a bit cheeky if you have to do this because of there faulty machine).

We parked in the disabled bay however, we did discover on the second day that blue badge holders can park on the sea front for free for however long they needed.