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Warning – this is long.

I managed to get tickets via Hippychick which was rather nice – they offered them on Facebook – in fact, lots of companies attending offered tickets, should you wish to go but not to fork out the £12 or so it costs… so that was good. Add to that H gets in free, as do all under 16’s, so I dragged along Rachel with me, having sold her on the easy journey to Olympia. THEN I realised it was Earls Court, but still do-able, as we have the luxury of lifts at Clapham Junction, and the Overground from there. Piece of cake! Except the Overground wasn’t running… so instead it was a rush for the bus, three buggies so we folded ours up, so H had an adventure sitting on her big girl chair, and we made it in one piece.

Ah, Earls Court. I hadn’t been in there since I saw Oasis well over fifteen years ago, if not longer. It’s weird seeing it in a non-gig setting too. Oh my, and considering it was a Baby Show, there was one small disabled lift to get you onto the main area, I wasn’t impressed – though fortunately the queue wasn’t too long – H was a bit disturbed that mummy wasn’t in the lift, as there wasn’t room for all four of us.

I found going to The Baby Show as a mum was a much different experience to going as a parent to be; see, back then I thought I needed everything, and so much more.. but actually, most of the things I bought were just additional things… not necessities. So it was nice to go back and see how companies are progressing. First things first though, we needed to sit and eat. Fortunately they had a cafe where I could get a sandwich and a drink for under a fiver – I was seriously impressed. Jesse, Rachel’s boy needed feeding, so we headed to one of the many areas, which was perfect seating-wise, but there was nowhere to warm his food – so we had to head to the main area, heat it up, where we then realised there wasn’t suitable seating for him to eat – so we had to go back to the first place – where fortunately nobody had taken our chairs.

I took this opportunity to have a quick wander around and see if I could find some of the stalls of people I’d met, or people I’d been in touch with via Facebook. The first stand we found was My Carry Potty. I’ve been intrigued about this, as H is well into the potty stage, and I wondered how much we’d use one for. Seeing it, it’s a really good sturdy potty and makes complete sense now – and we got to see the accompanying book, which H was instantly drawn to as the main characters are Hollie and George (same name as her cousin). We left buying anything, as I like to scoot around first and see what’s around before splashing out cash. Plus I’d made sure I only had £5 or so in cash on me so I didn’t impulse buy! The My Carry Potty is exactly what it says – a potty your child can carry. It’s watertight too, so if your little one does what they need to, it wont leak when it’s shut, so it’s ideal for being out and about. I really liked it, and the colours too – though I thought maybe we’d benefit more from a seat that attaches to the toilet. On chatting to Amanda, it’s on the cards – when she gets the time! We ended up buying the book, which H keeps asking us to read every time she sees it.

We found the BundleBean stand – and it really stood out with all the pinks and blues that you’d expect at a baby show – lovely and obvious, and it looked busy too. I persuaded Rachel to buy one, it was an excellent deal at £20 – and matched Jesse’s buggy really well too! H was proud all afternoon with her Bundle Bean sticker – every time we were near the stand she pointed out “that’s MINE!”. I love my Bundle Bean – my review of it is up at The Baby Website.

Fudgy Bear was our next stop – we were already aware of Fudgy as some goody kits were sent out a couple of months ago, and we were lucky – so H was excited when she realised – although we missed the life sized Fudgy (aww!) – loads of books though, but we skipped on the teddy as H has too many toys these days… she also has lots of books, but I need to feed my addiction so bought a numbers one for her to help get her counting skills better tuned (she can count, she just doesn’t stop!).

Spotted that Mummy Mitts had a stand which I was pleased about – we’d bought a pair last year, but were finding them a bit small this year, so I wanted to check what age they were recommended up to. Fortunately I caught up with them later, and the mitts have had a redesign – the reason we’re struggling is the thumb area, and these new mitts are so much better – so I got another pair. Mummy Mitts are a great idea, the mittens just have clips which you can clip to your child’s jacket – well, they’re the Bubby Mitts, the mummy ones are even better, as they clip to your buggy. H wore hers yesterday when we were out and about, they stayed on, and her hands stayed warm. Considering last Wednesday when we were in Sutton she spent most of the time taking her wellies and socks off while in the buggy, I’d call this a HUGE result! (now if only the lovely Mummy Mitts ladies could get me a solution for that….)

H was walking around quite a bit, which was nice – and we stumbled upon the Ella’s Kitchen stand, which had a fabulous soft play area, complete with soft play watering cans. If you signed up to be a friend of theirs you got some free samples – so we got some cookies and a smoothie. H was never fed mush, but our lady recommended we stuck the smoothie in the freezer and then cut open the bottom – voila, a tasty fruity ice pop. I’m liking this… might not let H have it…

Hippychick had loads of things – I wanted to get H a pair of Mocc-Ons (as we had a lot of success with Sock-Ons), but they only go up to 24 months. Fortunately the man in charge there said they’d put in a request for larger sizes, so all being well there’ll be something happening next year at some time.

There were so many freebies to be had. Our buggies were laden down with bags of goodness. My favourite was the Dettol stand, which for some reason I managed to get 6 mini bottles of surface cleaner, plus two packets of wipes – plus they had a competition to win a cleaner for six months. Oh SIGH. I wish… forgot to find out when the winner is drawn…

Baby London/Baby Surrey had some lovely goody bags too – I’m already a Baby Surrey subscriber, so I’ve got a London one to look through now, and I’m hoping there’ll be some good suggestions of places to go and things to do in the centre. I’ve felt quite limited up to now, though going to London Aquarium (review here) was remarkably easy with a buggy.

Prima Baby and Pregnancy Magazine were offering one issue for £2 plus a goody bag – which had loads of snacky things in it – I was pleased, we got two lots of Plum Breadsticks with Pecorino which H loves! The magazine probably isn’t a huge amount of use to me right now though… if anyone would like it, leave me a comment!

vTech had a play area which was a welcome break from dragging H around stands – she was getting bored, so anything which appealed for her was a good thing – there was a car mid-way through the show which she kept demanding to get into… so she had a good play on a train which had letters which clicked onto the side – I wish there’d been more stands like this though!

So you’re wandering around Earls Court, a bit thirsty and like a mirage in the desert the Eisberg Alcohol Free Wine stand appeared – so we sampled two of their whites, and ooh they were lovely.

The Baby Changing facilities were top notch – free Pampers nappies, and some water based wipes were yours for nothing – so you could change your little one without any trouble. Somehow I ended up at a changing mat with the same mobile H used to have – the Fisher-Price Rainforest one, so she entertained herself pushing all the buttons while I did what I had to…

Sing & Sign had a stand, and there she was, Sasha the lady who started it all who does both DVD’s – the ones H constantly asks to watch. So H ended up slightly gobsmacked it was “SINGANDSIGNLADY” (as she shouted in the car on the way home excitedly) but got to talk to her, while I went on about how good they were for H, and how she still enjoys the songs, even though there’s no shutting her up these days!

There was a Sudocrem/Infacol stand – they were doing a good deal, so I got some nappy bag sized (not the really little one) Sudocrem for £1 as well as a piece of birthday cake which was YUM (H said “I don’t want any cake” – I’m still not sure if this is the toddler “I want it really but I’m going to tell you the opposite” thing she’s doing at the moment).

Annoyingly, the Palmers Cocoa Butter and Ecover stands had some really good deals, but were cash-only – and I couldn’t get to a cashpoint in time – probably a good thing as by the time we’d finished the buggy was properly weighed down! (but a shame – the Palmers stand have some nipple cream – much as I love my Lansinoh, I’d love to smell of Cocoa Butter when I need it)

Finally I got to the LightsOutBlinds stand – another product I was intrigued about. I like how it’s one suction pad per blind (rather than several with the one we currently have), and having seen them I may well take up their post Baby Show offer which is a really good discount. Having seen them, I think they’d fit H’s windows, but with one on top of the other – the biggest bonus being we could open her window so much easier than we currently can.

With that H started flagging, stands started shutting shop and we dashed for the tube. After the pain of a journey up we decided Earls Court to Wimbledon, then tram home would be the best way, which didn’t allow for none of the lifts to be working at Wimbledon. Fortunately one passenger helped me with the buggy which was overloaded with bags, so it wasn’t even like I could take H out and carry her with one hand (oh why didn’t I buy some Hamster Pannier Buggy Bags? They didn’t attend, alas..) I did see that Cheeky Rascals had some of the Buggy weights you attach to the front of your buggy – which I really wish I’d bought. I was worried about how much it would weigh us down, but actually, two bags of shopping today, and a trip to the park, and I regretted not getting them. Next time… it’s the Brighton Baby Show in a couple of weeks – fortunately right before payday so I wont impulse buy there either!