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Britmums Book Club: Clare Balding: My Animals and Other Family Review

Clare Balding

My Animals and Other Family

This is a heartwarming book. If you’ve ever had a pet, you will know how important they are to you in your life. Clare writes about her life, mentioning the pets that she has had along the way. It is fair to say her life is filled with animals, and many funny acedotes and major events involved them. Her Dad being a top racehorse trainer, she mingles and mixes with the racing elite, completely oblivious to any relevance or importance people may have. She even used to meet the Queen and ride a pony given to her by the Queen!

I am have enjoyed this book. I love reading anecdotes and tales of other peoples lives. It is much more entertaining than reading about a persons life from A -Z – this way, the interesting and unusual spring out form the page, important moments are highlighted – the boring bits (like anyones life) are skipped – and that is fine by me. You find out a lot about Clare and her family thorugh her tales – she doesn’t need to spell it out for you.

It reminds me of my childhood – I started thinking what tales would I mention in such a book? Clare has such a wealth of tales, some funny, some sad, and her experiences are something we can all relate to, albeit in slightly different surroundings. When I was younger, I used to feel that my pet dog, Tansey, was the only friend I had, and I would talk to her about everything. I can see from this book that Clare also felt this way. It is amaxing how animals can support you, protect you, and be there for you like no-on else can.

I have never really understood horse racing, but always enjoyed the Grand National, and whilst the book is very much concentrated on a lot of horsey things, and horse racing, it was easy enough to pick up and understand. In fact I found it all very interesting.

It was a delight to read, and I was almost sad when the book finishes, as Clare is at University. The Epilogue covers briefly what happens next, but in a way I’d love to read another book about Clare’s career at the BBC especially. I don’t know how she would do that in the same style though.

I would thoroughly recommend this book, it was a really good read.

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Out and About with a Baby Series – 1. Finding The Perfect Buggy

Now that Bubs is almost 4 months old, I am starting to venture out a bit more. This has meant I have had to start thinking about what I am doing, where I am going, and what I will need whilst I am out of the house. So far, I think I have done OK, and there hasn’t been a major hiccup. I thought I would share with you what I take with me Out and About, just in case you are wondering what on earth you need to get out of the door.

Finding The Perfect Buggy

First in this series, I thought I would tell you about prams/buggy’s. I will highlight some tips and advice about finding a buggy, and I will review the buggy I bought in case you are interested! Please note that this is my own review of the buggy, I bought it myself, and this review is no way affiliated with Baby Jogger (although I may let them know I have reviewed their buggy!). All views are my own and my honest opinion.

What Do You Want From Your Buggy?

When thinking about a buggy, I think you may want to consider these points:

  • Are you going to need to put it in a car? If so, will it fit in the boot?
  • Does the buggy collapse down easily?
  • Is there a big enough carry basket on there? Can you put all your things easily in/on the pram/buggy?
  • Where are you taking the buggy? Will you need something that can go off-road, for example? (3-wheelers for example are supposedly better off-road)
  • Do you want your baby to use a carrycot with the pram initially?
  • Do you want to be able to put your car seat onto the pram? If so, make sure your make of car seat matches the adaptors for the pram/buggy
  • Do you want a forward facing, or a Mum-facing pram? Some interchange between the two
  • Will the pram last through the baby’s first few years? Will it grow with the baby?
  • Weather protection: Rain cover and Parasol – are these included?
  • Can the pram be steered easily with one hand? (believe me you will have to do this one day!)
  • Check the suspension – will the baby have a bumpy ride?
  • Is it easy to assemble, reassemble?
  • Who will be using the buggy/pram? Will they be able to use it easily?
  • Does it have an adjustable handle for height differences?
  • Are the covers of the pram washable?
  • Is the brake easy to use?
  • Does the pram turn easily? Can you get in and out of doorways without much hassle?
  • What is the buggy like up and down steps and curbs?
  • Does the buggy have a safety harness which meets all legal criteria?

The Buggy I Bought (My Own Review)

Baby Jogger Mini GT

Baby Jogger Mini GT

Now, the buggy we bought is a Baby Jogger Mini City GT. When we bought it, it was Number 1 on the Which best buy list (We bought it in November 2012). The Baby Jogger is suitable from birth, as the back can be lowered to a flat position. The buggy is forward facing, which is a little disappointment for me, but there are 2 windows on the massive canopy which means I can peep at Bubs whilst she is in the buggy. We bought the car seat adapters (which are an additional cost – I think they are about £20) and so for the first few weeks it was great as I could put Bubs in the car seat, or straight out of the car, and onto the buggy, and she is forward facing in the car seat, so it is not a bad compromise especially in the first few weeks when you are wanting to check your baby is alright all the time!

I really like this buggy, although to start with I thought it was far too big and I was terrible at steering it. However, I think it is FAB now I have got the hang of it and I have stopped running over small children and cats. It is very easy to steer, and even easy to steer one-handed, the brake is on the right hand side, which flips up to put brake on and flip down to take off, which is very handy and means I am not fiddling about with your feet. As I have said above, the canopy/hood on this buggy is big: is can be extended two times, and when fully extended it practically covers the whole baby meaning shade in sun and protection from wind and rain. At the back, there is a mesh backing which allows air into the buggy to cool, and this has its own cover for when it is raining, and a neat little pocket is on there as well.

Shaded by the sun and having a nap

Shaded by the sun and having a nap

The basket underneath is big, and can carry 2 full shopping bags as well as coats. It can be a little tricky getting them in there, however, put with a little knack and experience, you can squeeze quite a lot under there.

The steering handle is adjustable, which is good for me and Dan as we are different heights. My only minor gripe is that there is nowhere to hang your changing bag/handbag from which would be good (there is a notice not to hang anything on the handle, and I have done this before OK, but I do think there is a risk of toppling over if you have a really heavy bag on there so best not).

To fold the baby jogger, you just pull the handle in the middle of the seat – this can be done one-handed which is very handy. it is not too heavy, and I can pick it up and put in the boot with little effort. I have a Nissan Micra and the buggy fits in the boot without having to take the wheels off, but yes, the wheels click on/off very simply if you needed to do this.

There is plenty of space for Bubs in the buggy, and she seems to like being in it. She can fall asleep very easily in there, and she likes playing with her toys in there as we go out and about. I have also purchased the baby jogger foot muff and this will be great in the future when it is colder and when bubs is a bit bigger.

The buggy is very versatile, like I say it feels a bit big to start with, and then the back is put down flat it does stick out at the back and so looks a lot bigger. As Bubs grows with the buggy, and we can raise the back, this will make it a bit easier.

I really like this buggy, and I think it is very good value for money (about £300). It should last a few years at least. Although I had really wanted a proper pram, this was the much more economic and rational choice, and now I have got used to using a buggy, I love it!

Searching for the Perfect Buggy/Pram

  • There are lots of buggy reviews online so I recommend searching for the buggy of your choice and having a look at what others say. YouTube is great to watch videos of buggys in action. I also found Which? a very good source of information.
  • If you find a cheaper price online, make sure you go into a store (any one that sells your pram/buggy) and make sure you have a good look at it; and then order online when you get home!
  • Watch out for any added extras. Although I love my buggy, I had to buy the car seat adapters and rain cover as extra.
  • Look in local NCT Sales, or Baby Sales, the buggy of your dreams may be there and at half the price!

I hope that you have found this useful. I certainly did not have a clue about buggy’s and prams when I was pregnant. If you have any other tips or advice about finding the perfect buggy/pram then let me know!