John Crane Press Day

I was invited to a press day at John Crane Toys to have a nose around their swanky new premises and also to look at some of their beautiful toys.

Jake wasn’t allowed to come (and on walking in I could see why – LOTS of temptation to play with!), so Zack and I took a field trip to Northampton.

When I walked in I was taken aback with all the gorgeous wooden toys. It’s not very often you get to see the traditional toys, but the showroom was full of them.

The frst thing I was drawn to was this Fire Station.  Jake’s Granddad was a fireman for many years, so we are automatically drawn to Fire Engines etc.

Key Features:

  • Durable wooden material
  • Bright coloured wooden furniture
  • Opens up to allow more creative play
  • Fireman’s pole and ramp included
  • Double door opens for fire engine to enter

Fire Station and Accessories – Pintoy

The set includes:

  • 1 Fire Station
  • 4 Lockers
  • 1 Control Console
  • 1 Swivel Chair
  • Satellite Dish
  • 1 Bunk Bed
  • 1 Round Table
  • 2 Chairs
  • 1 Shelf Unit

So of course, if I like the Fire Station, I would also want the Fire Engine that goes with it.

Key Features:

  • Brightly coloured  and safe
  • Durable wooden material and rope
  • Extendable and detachable ladder
  • Detachable lids encourages creative play
  • Tremendous detailing

Fire Engine – Pintoy

It also comes with:

  • 2 Ladders
  • 1 Fire Hoses with Nozzle
  • 2 Connecting Hoses

And then obviously the Firemen to go with it!

Key Features:

  • Durable wooden material
  • Incredible detailing
  • Moveable characters
  • Holes in hands to attach extras

Fire-fighters and Accessories – Pintoy

Also Included:

  • 1 Captin
  • 1 Fire Extinguisher
  • 3 Fire Fighter
  • 2 Axes
  • 2 Walkie Talkies
  • 1 Breathing Apparatus
  • 1 Megaphone

There was a train set which was lovely. You could make your own little town out of it. It comes in a 50 piece set, or you can buy the 100 piece set. The Key Features of the 100 piece set:

  • Durable wooden material
  • Multi configuration set
  • Interlocking track pieces plus train, carriages, buildings, bridges, trees and people
  • Compatible with other popular wooden train sets

Wooden Train Set – Tidlo

This product comes in a sturdy box with the following items:

  • Two trains
  • Six trailers
  • 42 track pieces
  • 12 trees/bushes
  • 18 buildings/roofs
  • Ten track accessories such as traffic lights
  • Ten people/animals

I loved these bags. Ideal for when younger ones start nursery/school as they are quite unusual so they know it’s theirs. It is also wipe-clean with a draw string fastener.

Kitbag – Lilliputiens

It was a lovely day, and a chance to meet some other lovely ladies: Clare from Emmys Mummy, who is blooming with pregnancy! Laura from The Life and Times of the Working Mum, who went back to work last week after maternity leave, and Leta from Attachment Mummy who had her gorgeous baby girl with her. It was lovely to meet you all, and thank you to John Crane for inviting us!


Starting Your Own Herman

I posted yesterday about starting a Herman Friendship Cake. If you haven’t been given one yet, and you are too impatient to wait to be given one, you can start your own very easily. You don’t need many ingredients and it is really simple to do.


  • 1 cup/5oz plain flour
  • 1 cup/8oz castor sugar
  • 1 1/2 packet of active dry yeast
  • 10 fl oz/Half a pint of warm milk
  • 2 fl oz/60ml of warm water
What to do
  1. Dissolve the yeast in warm water for 10 minutes then stir.
  2. Sift the flour and place in a bowl. Add the sugar.
  3. Add the yeast mixture into the flour and sugar and stir.
  4. Slowly stir in the warm milk.
  5. Cover the bowl with a cloth/teatowel
  6. Leave in a cool dry place for 24 hours
  7. Now proceed from day one of the 10 day cycle

Why don’t you give it a go?

My Friend, Herman

I have a new friend. His name is Herman.

Herman is a sourdough cake recipe which is centuries old. The idea is that you start it off, add sugar flour and milk every few days, then split in into four, give three away and keep one for yourself which you then make into a cake.

You are given a starter mix, which is a substitute for baking yeast. You don’t have to make a cake out of it, you can make bread instead if you wish. There are lots of recipes that you can find on the internet to choose from.

My friend very kindly gave me a Herman starter mix, but I never managed to get many bubbles from it, and then on the day that I was supposed to add ingredients and split it, I was in hospital with Zack. So, I started again and made my own from scratch.

These are the instructions I was given with my cake:

Hello, my name is Herman.

I am a sourdough cake. I’m supposed to sit on your worktop for 10 days without a lid on.

You CANNOT put me in the fridge or I will die. If I stop bubbling, I am dead.


  1. You get Herman and put him in a large mixing bowl and cover loosely with a tea towel.
  2. Stir well
  3. Stir well
  4. Herman is hungry. Add 1 cup each of plain flour, sugar and milk. Stir well.
  5. Stir well
  6. Stir well
  7. Stir well
  8. Stir well
  9. Hungry again. Add the same as day 4 and stir well. Divide into 4 equal portions and give away to friends with a copy of these instructions. Keep the 4th one.
  10. Herman is very hungry. Stir well and add the following:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • half tsp (teaspoon) salt
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 2/3 (two thirds) cup of cooking oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 cooking apples cut into chunks
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 heaped tsp cinnamon
  • 2 heaped tsp baking powder

Mix everything together and put into a large greased baking tin. Sprinkle with a quarter of a cup of brown sugar and a quarter of a cup of melted butter. Bake for 45 minutes at 170-180C. When cold cut into finger pieces. Cake freezes well and is also delicious warm with cream or ice-cream.

This is the recipe for a traditional Herman, but you can search the internet for other recipe ideas, such as chocolate and honeycomb, or coffee and walnut.

Have you ever taken part in a Herman chain before? Would you?

I shall keep you updated on his progress!

Our Hospital Stay

Zack and I had a stay in hospital last week. It’s only now, almost a week later that I can talk/write about it without crying.

I took him for his 12 week immunisations on the Tuesday and went to the baby clinic while I was there to get him weighed. He’s been gaining weight slowly. I know that. Jake was the same. I just assumed he’d catch up in his own time. At 8 weeks, he was 9lb exactly. I expected him to be at least 10lbs at 12 weeks, especially considering how often he feeds.

He was 9lb 6oz. He’s dropped two lines on the centile chart (and below the 0.4th), so we had to see the GP. As soon as they said he had only put on 6oz, I knew the discussion of formula would be on the agenda. It’s not that I’m against formula. It’s that I wanted to breastfeed. I had no concerns previous to him being weighed. He’s smiley, he is alert, he sleeps through the night. There was nothing to make me worry.

The doctor sent us up to Birmingham Children’s Hospital. We ended up in A&E as that’s where the RMO’s were (Registered Medical Officer). We were taken to cubicle and Zack was asleep in his pushchair, so the RMO was talking to me, asking me questions about Zack, about me, about Jake, about my pregnancy. Then he woke up and needed a feed, so she left me to it for half an hour or so. Then a different doctor came round to see us and examined him. Said that she didn’t think there was anything wrong with his tummy or anything and that we should top him up with formula. I said that I didn’t really want to and that I wanted to fix breastfeeding first. So she admitted us and arranged to Zack to have a blood test, in which I cried more than he did and was reduced to a snotty mess. So much so that even the nurse took pity on me and wiped my nose as I had no hands free.

I’m a bit angry, because I feel like if I’d agreed to the formula, she would have just sent us home, but because I refused, we had to endure a horrible 24 hours in hospital. He looked so small in the huge cot in his room, and I had the delight of sleeping on a faux leather recliner for the night.

The doctors came round in the morning and again, had a poke and a prod. Then a dietician came in and spoke to me.

I have had to compromise. We have agreed that he has two 3oz feeds a day of a high calorie formula that promotes catch up growth, and that I breastfeed as well. I have been prescribed Domperidone to try and increase my milk supply. Zack has to be weighed every week and I am to call the dietician with his weights so we can plan the next course of action, which will hopefully at some point be to drop the formula altogether and go back to exclusive breastfeeding.

It’s taken me a long time to be OK with this. Not because I don’t want him to gain weight, not because I don’t want him to have formula, but because I feel like I’ve failed him.

One of the most natural things in the world is to breastfeed your baby, to nurture them, and I couldn’t do it alone. Whether it’s because of everything my body has been through over the last two and a half years, I don’t know, but I wanted to be able to do this so much and the fact that I couldn’t upsets me more than I can put into words.

I know he’s put weight on. I can see his cheeks are chubbier, and he feels heavier. I’ll know for sure tomorrow when I take him to be weighed. I hope it’s positive. I certainly don’t want another night in hospital with him any time soon.