Thanks to the lovely guys at Medela, myself and Jo have been able to road test two of their leading breast pumps. We both have completely different needs when it comes to pumping, so the team at Medela used their expert knowledge to choose which pumps would be the most appropriate for each of us. For me, they chose the Swing Maxi Flex.
If you follow us on social media you may know that I (Victoria) have recently given birth to twin girls. As you can imagine, I don’t have a lot of time on my hands, as said hands are usually full of babies. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feed them, but I did know that I wanted them to have as much of my breast milk as possible, even if only for a few weeks. So when Medela got in touch and kindly gifted me the Swing Maxi Flex, I was really pleased as I’d heard such great things about Medela pumps from other mums.
The Maxi Flex is a double electric breast pump with 2-Phase Expression technology, which means it mimics a babies rhythmic sucking to make the whole experience more pleasant, which I can confirm it really does! Pumping shouldn’t hurt at all (if it does, please speak to your midwife) but this pump is certainly more comfortable than the pump I bought for my first baby. I gave up pumping after two weeks with that, but I’m still using this one three months on!
Pros and Cons
Double the pump = less time expressing. Time is very precious when you have a newborn (or two!!)
It comes with minimal parts so is easy to sterilise
Very easy to use
Comfortable when you get the hang of it
Having a double pump means you do have to use both hands. Although, Medela have thought of this and sell an Expression Bustier which you can pop the pump into, which makes the pump hands free.
It is a bit noisy, but to be honest I’ve not heard a pump that isn’t!
If there is anything we haven’t covered (Jo’s review of the Swing Flex is coming soon), please do get in touch as we are both more than happy to answer any questions about these two pumps or pumping in general. Also don’t forget to come and find us and our Medela Highlight over on Instagram.com/sheandhem
One of our go-to places is Bath Soft Cheese Farm Cafe and, honestly , you will find us there at least once a week! It’s a wonderful cafe, with delicious food on offer, but which happens to have the added bonus of being a total dream for small children! There are various seating areas on offer but the one directly above the cafe itself is very much geared up for kids. There are lots of toys to play with and a viewing area so you can watch the cheese being made. Poppy adores playing cafe there! If it’s full, or if you want somewhere quieter, there’s also the option to walk just behind the main cafe to a separate seating area in the old dairy, which also has some toys, and a view of the cows! If that wasn’t enough, they’ve just opened up a new extension area that looks very nice indeed! It’s great on a wet day as a place to take cover (with the option of puddle splashing after) but in the warmer weather there is a great outside seating area with a playground (and chickens 🐓 ) plus you are next to some lovely walks! It really does tick all the toddler boxes. They also have a little shop selling local produce and a milk machine, which we have now started to use. For £1 a litre you can get their wonderful fresh milk dispensed in to your glass bottle
Hey! It’s been a bit quiet around here of late but if you follow us on Instagram you will know we are still very much alive and kicking. The content may have changed a bit (*cough* kids *cough*) but there are still colourful dresses to be found, we promise.
Anyway, as we get a lot of messages asking for recommendations for places to take kids in Bristol, we thought we would start #sheandhembristolkids as a way to keep all our favourite places together and easily accessible! We want to feature everything from cafes to playgroups to parks and will include Bristol and the surrounding area. We know that not everyone is on Instagram so we thought people might find it useful if we popped them on here too…….
Cabot Circus Feeding Room
We really wanted to feature the amazing family room at Cabot Circus as we had a feeling a lot of people didn’t know it existed. Turns out, we were right! Here’s what we wrote about it on the ‘gram…
The Cabot Circus Family Room is such a well thought out space and the perfect place to escape to for a feed or change. It’s located at the end of the corridor where the toilets are and you have to press a button on the wall to access it. It’s a sliding door so no crashing the pram into anything as you enter. Inside you’ll find a very clean area that has, we kid you not, the relaxing sound of bird song being pumped into it. You are suddenly transported a million miles away from the Zara sale! Anyone with little ones is welcome to use the space. There’s a toilet for the big ones and a changing area for the little ones, with a little vending machine containing the essentials you might have run out of. There are private feeding areas that have a comfy chair, a little table and a plug socket (see, well thought out). There’s also WiFi 😉 There’s a little kitchen area that has a microwave plus one of those genius taps that does instant boiled water. Perfect for bottles! There’s also a nice corner area full of books and seating for older kids. It’s great if you’ve got an older one who has to sit around whilst you feed a baby. You can sit comfortably and feed/change whilst the older one has a safe space to play. Speaking of safe, there are also little alarm systems dotted around the space that you can use should, for some reason, you not feel comfortable. The last time we visited, a security guard also popped in to make sure everyone was happy.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, also known as #merrybristmas. We are, once again, very fortunate indeed to partake in this brilliant annual campaign by Visit Bristol, which aims to promote the festive offerings in our fair city. Over the past couple of weeks we have been all over the place, throwing the girls into the festive season head first, to see where’s good to go with little ones this December.
Santa Steam Special at Avon Valley Railway
First up, it’s Santa on a Steam Train! What on earth could be better?! We wrapped up warm and headed to Avon Valley Railway in Bitton for a delightful trip in one of their beautiful vintage carriages. The atmosphere on the platform was lovely, with the Christmas tunes blaring out, tinsel agogo and even some little donkeys wearing festive attire. The dream.
We were treated to an hour long trip during which Santa came to visit us in our carriage. He was great with the kids and thankfully wasn’t phased when Poppy requested a helicopter for Christmas! I’m not sure how that’s going to fit down the chimney. There was also an opportunity to get off the train and have a photo with Santa but we decided it was a little too cold for Hattie – next year!
It’s not the cheapest of options when it comes to meeting Santa (although some dates are cheaper than others) but it was a real family experience and perfect for the train enthusiastic toddler! You’ll need to be quick if you want to book tickets as they are selling out fast. Book here!
Santa’s Grotto at Bristol Zoo
We always love a trip to Bristol Zoo so we were keen to take the girls to try out their Grotto experience. This is the first year they’ve really been able to partake in this sort of thing and it was a joy to see how excited they were by it all. We were greeted by some very cheerful Elves who invited us to do some festive arts & crafts, followed by writing and posting off our letters to Santa. The rooms were decorated beautifully and really added to the magic.
We were then led through to meet the main man himself who was so lovely and really engaged with the girls, asking them lots of questions and having a real giggle. The presents were great too, a cuddly lemur for P and a cuddly penguin for A. Perfectly on theme and meant we could go find the corresponding animals after! We also liked, as the eco-conscious Santa explained, that the presents were wrapped using brown paper as it can be recycled after. Good work, Bristol Zoo!
You can book your own Grotto experience here! All money raised from the Santa’s Grotto events will contribute to BCWEZSL’s charitable objectives and it’s running until December 23rd.
Winter Wonderland at Wookey Hole
Uhoh, Rudolph has taken a wrong turn and ended up down in the caves at Wookey Hole! Time to grab your glow sticks and go on a Christmas trip that’s a little different.
We loved exploring the caves and encountering touches of Christmas at every turn was pretty darn cool. There was even a chance to dance to some Christmas music in one of the chambers! We were slightly apprehensive about taking a toddler and newborn on a 45 minute tour in the dark but they both loved it (well Poppy did, Hattie slept through the whole thing – win). It’s worth noting that the caves, unsuprisingly aren’t buggy friendly so you will need a sling, and if you want to buy a glow stick you will need £2 in cash.
If you visit on the weekend, there’s also a Christmas circus show, 4D cinema experience and the opportunity to visit their own Santa’s Grotto. If, like us, you visit in the week there’s still plenty to see and do! Poppy loved the soft play, animatronic dinosaurs and the vintage penny arcades.
Christmas at Noah’s Ark is a very green affair, with all their decorations made from recycled materials, the lights are eco-friendly and there’s even a Christmas scene created from unwanted items. What a wonderful way to spread Christmas cheer.
We visited on a very quiet day and the girls had an absolutely fabulous time running riot in their ginormous soft play and play barn. If you haven’t been, it’s fantastic and I think the parents had just as much fun as the kids!
We also really enjoyed strolling round meeting the animals, with the elephants and giraffes proving the most popular with the toddlers. They were amazed!
If you fancy visiting Noah’s Ark this festive season, they are allowing visitors to feed the Reindeer for free on Saturdays at 3pm. Check out the website for more details and to see their other Christmas events.
So, those are our highlights for this year but there’s so much on offer in Bristol this Christmas! Let us know your highlights in the comments as it’s only the beginning of December and we’ve already set the bar pretty high for the girls!
We were kindly gifted entry to all the above attractions as part of a campaign with Visit Bristol but all words and opinions are our own.
We’ve been road testing some of Sugarhill Brighton‘s Autumn Winter 2019 collection and boy, don’t we look happy about it!
Jo was on the lookout for something breastfeeding friendly, so she opted for this fab skirt and jumper combo. Bonus points to the Quinn Striped Quilted Skirt* for its rather flattering elasticated waist band, she will get a lot of wear out of this over the upcoming festive period to allow for maximum roast potato consumption. Yum. Sugarhill Brighton jumpers are always really fun, great designs. Jo recommends sizing up if you like them to be a bit on the looser side. She’s wearing the Velma Spell It Out Rainbow Jumper*.
It is no secret that I (Victoria) pretty much just live in dungarees now, so I just had to give the Martina Corduroy Dungarees* a go! I found them even more comfortable than my go-to cotton versions. These will be a staple in my wardrobe until it’s time to get my super pale legs out once again (who knows when that will be!). I’ve been looking for some Autumnal colours to compliment my current wardrobe, so I layered up with Suagrhill’s Mimi Heart Polka Dot Tee* and the Paulie Bold Coloured Pumpkin Cardigan*.
We both accessorised with boots that we were very kindly gifted by Duo in Bath.
All items kindly gifted from Sugarhill Brighton but words and opinions are our own!
In 2014 The Guardian stated ‘Dungarees are not something you’re going to wear every day‘. HOW WRONG THEY WERE! I (Victoria) am a long time dungarees fan (evidence) (more evidence). I feel so comfortable in them, much more so than jeans. They are my happy place and if I didn’t think people would call me odd, I would wear them everyday. I know that Jo loves them too and we’ve often unintentionally (and intentionally – here) worn them at the same time. See, we genuinely love them, so on this occasion, sorry Guardian, but you’ve got it wrong.
My pair of choice at the moment are these Bleecker Indigo Stretch Denim Dugarees* from She and Hem go to gals, Joanie Clothing. On first wear, I felt like I’d stepped back in time to the 1970’s thanks to their retro fit and wide leg. Groovy. Although I do find dungarees quite flattering for my body shape anyway, I have to say I think these looked particularly good due to the hint of stretch around the waist. I am SO here for that.
The Breton Strip Knit
I couldn’t resist getting my hands on the Brittany Breton Stripe Jumper in black. I’ll admit, I do have a few similar stripy jumpers, but I get so much wear out of them thanks to their versatility. The style and colours of this jumper go with almost anything, which I think is the reason why I find myself leaning away from ordering the more novelty jumpers that I used to be all over. Maybe I’m finally growing up.
The Denim Dress
Doesn’t Jo look blooming marvellous in the this Berlin Belted Denim Shirt Dress*, also from Joanie? In an ingenious move, she swapped up the retro buckle belt for a cute thin red one to break up the denim and styled it with her trusty pink Vans*. She’s 100% a style icon for any pregnant ladies out there. If you are a Mama to be, Jo has featured lots of great looks on our Instagram too. This denim dress will never go out of style, so I’ll expect she’ll be wearing it for many months to come thanks to it’s button down top – perfect for breastfeeding her new arrival.
Thank so much to Joanie for hooking us up with these key items for our transitional wardrobe, to see us into Autumn. Keep your eyes peeled over on our Instagram for possibly THE best dinosaur dress ever that Jo will be styling up soon and a pair of fantastic Kareema Classic dungarees in PINK! See, we told you we just can’t get enough!
Items kindly gifted from Joanie Clothing but all words and opinions are our own
Yes chaps, it’s that time again. After the success of #MerryBristmas, thanks to the lovely team at Visit Bristol, we have been able to visit a ton of local family attractions over the last few weeks as part of their #SummerInBristol campaign. If you follow us on Instagram, you will know exactly what we are talking about as we’ve certainly squeezed A LOT in this time around. It seriously is our idea of heaven. We just love keeping the girls busy! Here are our top Summer picks but check out our Instagram story highlight here to find an extended version of what we’ve been up to…
Avon Valley Country Park
We both love Avon Valley Adventure Park because it has so much to offer, including animals, several parks and the most amazing soft play. It even has it’s own miniature railway! This year they are celebrating their 30th birthday, so they have lots of excellent special events coming up so it’s worth checking out their website. They are also offering a special ‘Summer Pass’ which gives you unlimited access until the 1st of September for £30pp. See you there?
Avon Valley Railway
Just down the road from the adventure park is the rather charming Avon Valley Railway, which was such a big hit with our two train obsessed toddlers. They loved riding and waving to the steam trains on Bitton station, pretending they were Thomas the Tank, of course! Top Tip, if you’re flexible with dates, you can save over 50% on tickets over at Groupon right now. They are valid for use on August 7, 11, 14, 18, 21 & 28 September 8, 11, 25 & 29 October 13 & 20
Bristol Zoo Gardens is always a fabulous place to hang out but it really comes into its own in the Summer months. There a plenty of animals, naturally, but the gardens themselves are absolutely stunning! It also has a good amount of stuff inside to either hide from the heat or the rain (who knows, eh?) and if you take some swimming gear, the splash water-play area will keep any little ones entertained for hours.
The Zoo kindly gifted both girls an animal adoption pack and they are so cute! Each pack came with a certificate, cuddly toy of the animal and two adult ticket admissions. It’s really sparked an interest in those animals for both girls and would make a lovely gift.
On a budget? Lots of the museums and galleries have got great summer activities on offer. M Shed is always a hit with our two and Bristol Museum has a good little play area. Our pick of the bunch though is the ‘Fluffy Library’ at Arnolfini which will be there until the 11th of August. Created by artist Antigoni Tsagkaropoulou, it’s an absolutely wonderful space filled with a giant soft creature, with a fantastic collection of inclusive children’s books dotted around for you to sit and share. They are running a drop-in workshop on July 28th for 5-11 year olds.
We were also lucky enough to sample some of Bristol’s delicious foodie offerings. We stuffed ourselves to the brim with a meal and cocktail, kindly gifted by ZaZa Bazaar, who rather surprisingly have possibly the best floor tiles in Bristol. Just look at those beauties! It’s the perfect place for picky kids and if anyone throws a tantrum, you can hide behind the chocolate fountain.
Even after all that food, we still had room for an impromptu date at our favourite gelato place in Bristol (and boy are there so many now!), Swoon Gelato. Yum!
We were recently invited by Bedminster BID to come and spend some quality shopping time in good ol’ Bemmie as part of their #Head2Toe challenge, which celebrates all things thrifty. As a couple of potential future Bargain Hunt contestants, we are always very happy to rummage for hidden treasures which is fortunate as Bedminster is a haven of quirky second hand shops, cool vintage shops, and of course, your humble charity shops. We jumped at the chance to spend some time in an area of Bristol that we don’t often get to explore, especially when set the challenge of pulling together an outfit each.
We waved farewell to our toddlers at Windmill City Farm (we didn’t leave them to their own devices, the Dads were there too) and set off with our money bags to North St, West St and East St.
As vintage lovers, we headed straight to two favourites on North St, Rhubard Jumble and Patina Vintage (conveniently they are pretty much opposite each other). They are both such lovely shops and we spent a very long time admiring their wares and trying on all sorts of wonderful things. We even spotted some Able Mabel headbands in Rhubarb Jumble, a place where we both found success! Victoria left with with an exceptionally jazzy animal print shirt, whereas I found the perfect pink jumpsuit!
We then hit A LOT of charity shops which was excellent fun. We naturally got sidetracked by all the fun toys and books for the girls but we also had a lot of success in the clothes department too. We both hit the jackpot in St Peter’s Hospice where Victoria found the perfect pair of M&S trousers, to go with her funky shirt, for the princely sum of £5.99! I (Jo) was on a complete roll and managed to bag an entire second outfit for £5.98. The poppy print dress and red belt go perfectly together and yes I am aware how smug I look about it! I must say, as a pregnant lady, I find charity & vintage shopping especially rewarding. It’s really hard when most of your wardrobe doesn’t fit anymore but nobody wants to spend a fortune on clothes that they might not want to wear post baby!
So, what do you think? Did we do well with our outfits?
This post was written in collaboration with Bedminster BID, who kindly paid for our new outfits.
She and Hem and Emily and Fin go way back. We are super friends. We first featured them FIVE YEARS AGO in 2014 in a Double Thumbs Dresses post! Shortly after that we collaborated on our first style post together, Emily and Fin for the win. Anyway, enough reminiscing. Time for some old fashioned fan girl-ing. Emily and Fin’s New In section is absolutely knocking it out of the park at the moment. We honestly love it ALL, but here are our colouful favourites!
I (Victoria) am picking lemons wearing the Zoe Sunlounger Stripe Dress*. One of my favourite things about this dress is the incredible V-shaped back The buttons running all the way down is a really beautiful and unique touch. It also comes in several other patterns, such as the ‘Sunbleached Tencel‘. I’ve actually got one of these, and think it’s the epitome of laidback glam. Jo wears the Kate Sunset Plaid Shirt Dress* and this print is our outright favourite. Bright colours, fun pattern. Simple brilliance. However, if plaid isn’t your thing, you’re in luck. Like the Kate dress, the Zoe also comes in a few different patterns.
We can’t wait to see what Emily and Fin have got up their (immaculately designed) sleeves ready for next season that we can add to our ever growing collections. If you’d like to check out how we’ve styled several Emily and Fin dresses over the past five years, you can find all the archives here.
Sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty, and I was super naughty on Tuesday night, staying out way past my bedtime to see the multi award winning ‘Matilda The Musical’ at Bristol Hippodrome. What a maggot!
I was hooked from the opening birthday party number and was genuinely taken aback at how incredibly talented the kids were. A special mention must go to Sophie Woolhouse, who played the titular bookworm on the night I saw the show. She felt so perfect for the role, I was left wondering how the other three children who all take turns in playing Matilda could be anywhere near as glorious as she was. I also have to give a shout out to Matthew Caputo, who plays Matilda’s TV loving brother Michael. If you’ve seen the show you will know he doesn’t have a huge amount to say, but I think I laughed every time he piped up.
A teeny tiny criticism was that I did find the 1st half a little long, which was a shame as it meant that I was a tad uncomfortable watching one of the scenes that I’d been most excited about watching. However, the endlessly creative staging more than made up for it. I particularly enjoyed the use of the swings (seen above) during ‘When I Grow Up’. I may have had a little (not so little) lump in my throat as this point. Actually, at several point. I didn’t realise it would be so emotional!
If you’re not already swayed to rush out and see this, this should do the trick. Tim Minchin’s score is almost worth the cost of admission alone, his marvellous melodies adding genuine tenderness to the more emotional scenes. But fear not, jazz hand fans, there are plenty of uptempo numbers to bring house down, particularly the oh so clever songs like ‘School Song’ and ‘Revolting’. Fans of the book, you will not be disappointed. BOOK YOUR TICKETS NOW!
*I was kindly invited to see Matilda in exchange for an honest review. All views are my own.