Category: Little Reviews

The Perfect Summer Beach Wear for Kids

While admittedly summers here in the UK can be a bit of hit-and-miss, there are days when it can really be warm too.  A few weeks ago, I remember walking doing the school run in the afternoon and chatting to one of the mums in T’s school.  We both  remarked on how lovely the good weather was and she said “I heard it’s going to be even hotter over the weekend.  Temperatures will be even higher than Ibiza!”   I don’t remember though if what she said really happened, but yes, like she said temperatures here can also rival the high temperatures in warmer countries.  Not always, but it has been known to happen 😉

As parents, apart from ensuring our children use the proper sun-cream, it’s also important to make sure that they are also wearing the right kind of kids swimming costumes.

This sun jacket from Platypus Australia Girls with UPF50+ is perfect for little girls who loves to play under the sun like little T.  I think it’s better to use on the beach instead of a regular hoodie or one of those towelling cover-ups because of the material which gives extra protection from the sun.

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And then there’s the matching Platypus Australia Girls UPF50+ Kaleidoscope Lycra Boardie.  I think it’s the cutest little shorts, perfect for playing in the sun and sand.

platypus_beachwear

What we love about the whole outfit:

  • As mentioned, it’s great to use when the sun is at its peak.  Perfect for those days when it’s really hot.  It boasts of a UPF50+ protection.  What more can a parent ask for?
  • I love that because of its material, it dries up easily.  If your little one is like T who loves playing in the sand and sun no matter the weather, this sun jacket is a must.
  • Little T and I also love the fun design.  It’s not too girly and it’s not in pink.  I find it really annoying when shopping for swim wear for T and all you get are swimsuits in pink.
  • The shorts is also perfect and like the jacket, also dries easily.
  • Love that they can wear their swimsuit underneath.

What we dislike about it:

  • My only negative comment about both the sun jacket and shorts is that they are a bit pricey than your regular swimwear.  The sun jacket is priced at £24.95 and the shorts is £20.45.  But then again, for me, it’s okay to pay more especially when the product is good and durable, don’t you think?

Now here’s to hoping that the weather will be better than the day T took her sun jacket and shorts for a test run.  One thing I can add though is that, the sun jacket also kept little T warm that day.

Would you be willing to pay for swimwear that costs a little bit more than the rest?

Do share.

* House of Fraser kindly sent the said products to us for the purpose of this review, however all photos and opinions are by yours truly.

Staying Safe in the Sun with Mustela

While admittedly, the sun hasn’t been out much lately, we did have a good one yesterday.  What to do when the sun is out?  No, this time we didn’t head off to the beach.  We went to the garden centre to buy some pots instead, since some plants of ours urgently needed re-planting.

The sun was out in full glory after lunch, so little T and I decided to do the re-planting in the garden to catch some vitamin D.  Now we all know that catching the sun isn’t safe to do without being protected from its UV rays, but being a mum, I was prepared.

I’ve been shopping around for new sun protection for T and haven’t seen one that I liked, or at least T would like.  We’ve been using a certain product for some time now, while it did protect T, we both hated the smell and the thickness of the cream.  Lathering T with it was always a struggle, because she would always whinge and complain about the smell and the feel of it on her skin.

When I told her that we had to put sun-cream on her face, she began to whinge, I said we were going to use a different product and that it won’t smell like the old one.  She didn’t seem convinced, so I put some of the very high protection sun face lotion on her palm so she could have a little smell before putting it on her face…

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And she was convinced!  It didn’t have a funny smell and certainly wasn’t as creamy and thick as the old product we used.  She was a happy little girl and even put the cream on her face on her own.

What We like about Mustela’s Sun Protection Products:

1. Little T has mild eczema.  While it hasn’t reappeared lately, I’m always careful with the kind of products to use on her skin.  That’s one of the reasons why I like Mustela, they only use natural ingredients on their products.  Perfect for kids who have sensitive skin like T.

2.  I like that they have a separate sun face lotion for kids.  It’s handy to put in your bag or even pocket when out and about.  In the summer, you can use this daily on their faces, especially when out and about.

3.  I love that it doesn’t have that icky smell.  It’s really a turn-off and a lot of the sun-creams have it which my daughter hates and I don’t blame her since I don’t like it either.

4.  It’s not as thick and creamy as our old sun-cream, which like I mentioned T absolutely hated with the old product we used.

5.  It has 50+ SPF.

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Do we dislike anything about their products?

Not really.  I’ll be honest though, it still has a smell, but it isn’t a strong one and T who is very sensitive to smells, didn’t seem to mind it at all.  And if you know my daughter, that says a lot!  I’m even thinking of also using the sun face protection lotion myself!

Mustela are experts in the skin care sector, they specialise in products for babies, children and pregnant women as well.  Do check them out.

What about you?

What’s your favourite suncream?

Do share.

*PR samples but all views and photos are by Little Steps.

Tab Cat, Safe & Found: A Review

If you’ve been following my little blog for some time now, you will know how our cat Boots used to go astray, at one point, she was gone for over a year.  We thought we’ve lost her.  We went from worry, to actually accepting that maybe it was meant to be, and wished her well.  Of course all the while she was living with that crazy cat woman, but then my husband found her, we moved away and as they say, the rest is history.

Does your cat like to stray just like Boots?  If you’re a cat owner like us, worry no more – Tab Cat might just be the answer for you.

What is Tab Cat?

It is a pet locator.  The pack comes with two Homing Tags and a locator handset.  It’s very easy to use.  All you need to do is activate the handset battery, register the tags you’re going to use on your pets, stick it in splash proof case and attach it to your pet’s collar.  Then it’s ready to use.

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The pack comes with the locater, two homing tags, with two splash proof cases.  If you have more than two cats, you can order additional homing tags for them.

How far can you track your pet?

The range is impressive too and can reach up to 122m/400 feet (if the cat is on a tree).  But of course it will be less if you’re trying to locate them through doors or walls.  Just keep walking and searching till it picks up its signal again.

The Test

We tried it on Boots.  But the thing with our cat, ever since we moved, we’ve never had a problem with her.  She comes and goes as she pleases, and always comes back.  As mentioned on some previous posts, she seems to prefer to be indoors too, than the outdoors.  Ever since we moved, she’s a changed cat.

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But T and I were still curious, so we put the Tab Cat homing tag on her, even though she was just taking a nap on the chair by the window.  We went out and pretended we were looking for her in the garden.  And of course, T was in her Belle costume, after all, that’s what you do on weekends right?  Wear ballgowns and go traipsing in your garden, pretending to be in search of your cat.

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It made a few beeps, especially when T pointed it to a direction.

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I told T to walk back towards the house.

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The beeps became more frequent as we walked towards the house…

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And as T stood outside the window, pointing to where Boots was lazily napping on the armchair, the beeps and the green light were out, signalling we were indeed very close.

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 And then it went crazy, the beeps were louder and the green light was in full blast.  Little T said, “There you are Boots!  We found you!”.

Boots gave us a “You humans are weird.  You knew I was here all the while” look.  Yawned, and went back to sleep.

I drafted this post in the afternoon, by evening, when Boots went out for the night, before going to bed, my husband and I decided to try it out.  I pressed her assigned tag on the locator, it beeped, and then the green light came on, I called out to Boots, since I knew she was nearby and true enough, I heard her little bell and she came back in the house with us.  I’m really pleased it works.

We’ve put the other tag on Doc, since he’s the one who likes to go out and go galavanting through the fields and annoy the cows.  Let’s see what happens …

Would you be interested in using a cat-tracker or have you tried this before?

Do share.

*PR sample.   All photos and words by Little Steps.
ANIMALTALES

Exciting News: We are a Weymouth Adventure Park Ambassador!

Well, fun news for Little Steps that is, especially for T.

I can’t wait till summer is here, because of the house move, we haven’t managed to plan a summer holiday, whether abroad or just in Blightey.  We haven’t even had the chance to crunch our numbers yet and there are still new things to be bought like a new table and chairs for the conservatory, somehow a holiday abroad seems a bit too much for us right now.  I’m fine with that though, especially since we ahem I repeat have been chosen to be a Weymouth Adventure Park Ambassador, suddenly the summer spent here doesn’t seem like such a bad idea after all.  I foresee lots of road trips to Weymouth come the summer months.

What awaits us in Weymouth Sea Life Adventure Park?  Loads apparently!  And since we’ve never been there we are, as T would say “Oh my God, we are so excited!”  (You have to say this in a little girl’s high-pitched voice).

We originally planned to go this week for T’s half-term break, as mentioned already, the husband is just way too busy to be able to plan a family outing, even if it’s just a day’s break.  Never mind, summer is definitely just around the corner and his load will dwindle away for the summer break.

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What to See and Do at the Weymouth Sea-Life Adventure Park

Creatures

They have over 1000 different kinds of marine creatures, from Black Tipped Sharks, crocodiles, turtles, octopus, otters, penguins, just to name a few.  Imagine that, we can actually spend just the whole day going from one animal to another.  How cool is that?

Jurassic Skyline

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I may be afraid of heights but I might just be able to conquer my fear.  I love the the idea of towering over the magnificent Jurassic landscape, not to mention a glimpse of the English channel from way up there, especially since it’s supposed to be taller than the Tower of London or the Taj Mahal.

Harbourside

This is the oldest attraction at the adventure park and houses native species to the UK including the endangered Undulate Ray and the non-threatening Blonde Ray.  I don’t know about you, every time I think of a ray, what comes to mind is that famous Australian Crocodile hunter who was killed by a sting-ray.  Remind me not to mention this to T, when we’re at the Harbourside looking at rays.

Pirate Adventure Mini Golf

For some families a holiday or break isn’t complete without a game of min-golf.  Not for us though, although to be fair, I think once little T sees how fun the Pirate Swashbuckle Mini Golf looks like, she might want to have a go.

Can’t wait to share all the fun with you guys when we visit the Weymouth Sea Life Adventure Park!  And it won’t just be once 😉

What about you?

Have you visited before?

We are so excited to go!

Any exciting plans for the summer?

Do share.

*All photos taken from the Weymouth Sea Life Adventure Park website.

Caprera: A Food Lover’s Delight

I love the idea of helping out small start-up businesses, independent producers, rather than the big names in the food industry or any industry for that matter.  I can imagine how difficult it is to start a business especially when the market is saturated with big names, household names one has grown up with and naturally continue to support or consume.  It is understandable why some people like to stay safe and stick with brands they know and have tried and tested all through out the years.  The problem with sticking to the same kind of food or brand is that one gets bored with it.  You know what you’re getting even before you taste it.  Life gets a bit too boring and sometimes our palette craves for something different. And for those who like to try something different, this one may just be for you.

Caprera is a small company that aims to deliver artisan hand-made products to your door.  They have a variety of products from cold meat, locally produced cheese, healthy and organic snacks, confectionary, beverage, and even jam, honey and other preserves.

What makes them different from the rest of the supermarket brands?

They care about food and their costumers.  They believe that “food is so much more than just fuel, it’s an experience”.  

Caprera also offers a whole range of gift suggestions for that special someone or occasion.  They have a range of different hampers from the Best of the British, to BBQ essentials (perfect for the coming summer), or even just a simple birthday hamper.

It’s nice to indulge in something different isn’t it?

What about you?

Would you be willing to try something different, or do you like sticking to something you know and have tried already?

Do share.

*This is a collaborated post.

Can’t Say No to Cake

While I don’t have a sweet tooth, I can never say no to cake.

When someone offers you cake, you say, “Yes please” and “Thank you”.

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This would actually make a lovely Father’s Day present.

It was my husband’s birthday last Saturday.  When Baker Days asked if we’d like a sample of their cake, we of course, said, “yes please”.  In case you didn’t know, it’s part of “Life’s Rules to Happiness: Thou shall not say no to cake, ever.”

I wasn’t expecting the cake to arrive on his birthday though, especially since I sent our details late Thursday night.  Had I known I would’ve had the cake personalised more, after all, that’s what Baker Days cake are all about, personalised cakes you can design anyway you want it.

The letter box cake (as seen in the photos) is their latest addition to their designs.  I think the idea is, it’s small enough to fit through your post-box, and it is.  I know this because I tried to fit it through our letter-box.  Our postie rang our doorbell though, he didn’t want to slide it through, probably worried that it was going to ruin whatever it was inside the box.

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I chose the “Officially the best dad in the world”cake.  I thought it was going to be a nice little present for T’s dad after his birthday.  Imagine my surprised when it arrived on the day itself.

What we liked about the cake:

1. I like the idea that it fits through the letter box.

2.  Impressively fast delivery.

3.  The vanilla sponge cake with buttercream was delicious.

4.  Even though we didn’t use this feature, I like the fact that you can personalise it, whether it’s your own design or a particular photo you want to use.

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What we didn’t like about the cake:

1.  I think it’s a little bit too pricey for the size of the cake.  Would I order it myself?  Probably not. The letterbox gift cake as seen above costs £14.99.  It comes with two party balloons and two birthday candles which was a nice touch, I still think it’s too much though.

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And as you can see, T can never say no to cake either.

Can you?

You can also follow Baker  Days on FB and twitter.

Note: We were sent the cake for the purpose of this review, but opinions and words are by yours truly.

Five Living Room Ideas: Dream a little Dream with Me

I’ve mentioned in the past how I can spend many hours going through my stack of interior design books and magazines just dreaming about the perfect room.  Be it the dining room, living room, kitchen, bedrooms, bathrooms or any part of the house.  I find it really therapeutic to look at lovely photos of beautiful rooms and finding inspiration in each and every one of them.  Yes, this is also on my list of small joys that make me really happy.

Come and indulge and dream a little dream with me:

I like white.  Yes, I know some of you may find this boring, too clinical and lacking of warmth.  But I love it. I like the clean and sleek look of everything white.  Of course the reality is, especially when you have a small child, a dog and a cat, chances are your white walls will be streaked with paint, crayon stains, play doh, paw prints, and even the remnants of your child’s dinner.  If you’re a parent of a small child, you’ll know what I mean.

But since we’re in the land of make believe, where parents with young kids and pets can actually have lovely white walls and furniture without the harsh reality of dirt and stains, let us indulge more in that fantasy.

Scandinavian style living room by 4ma projekt

I love the open-space of this living room with the white floors, white coffee table and white dining table and also the lovely black and white prints on the wall.

Before having little T, we actually bought a white fabric couch from Ikea but one that you could change the covers.  And we also bought a light brown slipcover to interchange with the white ones.   I like to use the white covers in the summer when it’s easy to wash and dry in the sun.  It isn’t actually that difficult to have white furniture/soft furnishings even if you have children and pets.  You just have to be prepared for stains and the reality of having to keep washing them.

Bloominville Storage Unit : Scandinavian style living room by House Envy

I adore the way they used these inspiring typography frames as a feature wall.  I also liked the  dash of black and grey soft furnishings strewn here and there.

Für Leseratten : Scandinavian style living room by Elfa Deutschland GmbH

These book shelves are to die for. I’m in love with the way it frames the door and opens in to the dining room.  If you’ve been following my blog for some time now, you will know that we have hundreds of books, but they are all packed now ready to be moved to the new house.

One of the reasons why I love white walls, floors and furniture is that you can go wild with colours on accessories, like a bright coloured couch, or pendant light.  You can splash colours all around you without worrying that your room will look too dark.  The white walls and floors will always make your room fresh and bright.

Sala Comum—zona de estar : Mediterranean style living room by maria inês home style

Or if white is just to blasé for your taste, perhaps adding a coloured featured wall like they did in the above photo will do for you.

Living Spaces : Scandinavian style living room by ERC

If you prefer more colour, this soothing shades of pastel might also be your thing.  I love the light pink feature wall and baby blue wall and couch too.

What about you?  Which of these ideas appeal to you? Or do you prefer brightly coloured painted walls or patterned wallpaper?  Do share.

*In collaboration with Homify, however, all words and opinions are by yours truly.

Get The World Ready: A Dettol Campaign for Mums

My daughter is five years-old, she’ll be six in August and yet I can still remember what it was like being pregnant with her, especially the last couple of weeks before giving birth.  I was a first time mum and was:

Excited

I couldn’t wait to hold her in my arms.  To see her face, to cuddle and kiss her.  I wondered: Will she look like me?  Will she look like my husband?

Impatient

The nine months felt like forever, especially the last few weeks, it went on and on.  I couldn’t wait any longer!  I wanted to give birth to her now!  Please let it happen now!

And then like all new mums, I was Scared:

Will I know what to do?  Will I be able to cope without any help from my family who lives so far away from me? Am I ready to be a mother?  Do we have everything we need?  Have we cleaned our whole house from top to bottom?  Is it clean enough?  Will it ever be clean enough?  I wouldn’t want her to catch germs.

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And then it happened.  I finally gave birth to her, she was out.  I remember looking at her in awe and wondering “Did she really come from me?  What now?”  I felt this over-powering abundance of love all over me.  This is my baby.  I love her.  I love every bit of her, every fibre of her being.  But the fear was still there. In the hospital though, we had help from all the lovely midwives, patient enough to answer all my questions “Why isn’t she latching?  Doesn’t she want me?  Why is she doing that? Is it normal? Why is she making that sound?  Is she supposed to sleep that much?”

Taking Our Baby Home

Once in the safety of our own house, I remember sensing Fear also settle in along with my new baby.  It also made itself at home, poured itself its own cup of tea, settled itself on the couch with me, stared at me while I tried to figure out what to do with this tiny, helpless baby who relied on me and my husband for everything.

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Then life happened.   Days turned into weeks, the weeks into months, the months into years and she’s a little girl now.  Fear still lives with us.  I still have daily conversations with Fear:

Am I doing everything right for my little girl? Am I making the right decisions for her?  What if I make mistakes?  Will I end up ruining her life?  Will she blame me and hate me for all the choices I made for her?

Five years down the line, I’ve learned to co-exist with Fear.  I know when to hush it, and also know when to trust my instincts which is far stronger and wiser than Fear.

In support of all new mums or mums-to-be, Dettol has come up with a campaign “Get the World Ready”.  They invite everyone to listen to stories from real mums, who share the same fears as me, you, them, us.  Yes, the good news is we are not alone, as mothers, as parents, we all share the same daily fears and Dettol is there to help us along the way, regardless of whether you are a new mum, or expecting your third child.

Do you remember what it was like to bring your first child back home with you?

Did you have any fears?  How did you cope with them?

Do share.

*This is a collaborated post, however words and photos are by yours truly.

An Invitation to a Good Night’s Sleep

Are you a sleep deprived parent?  I am.

Even though my little one is not so little anymore. T is five.  We co-slept with her when she was a baby.  And just before her second birthday, she moved into her new bedroom.  We made her room beautiful.  Decorated it with a feature wallpaper from Cath Kidston, her cot, was turned into a proper bed for a toddler.  When she first saw it, she squealed in delight, especially when she discovered that her cot-bed could be used as a trampoline.  Did she sleep on it? I’ll save that for another post.

Fast forward to the present.  She’s now five.  Is she sleeping on her bed?  Yes.  Does she sleep alone in her room?  Err… Depends on what day it is.

Hello.  My name is Dean and I am a sleep-deprived parent.

It’s easy to recognise my fellow sleep-deprived parents at the school-gate or school-runs.  We look like zombies. No, we don’t look like characters straight from ‘Shaun of the Dead’ movie.  Although we could easily pass off as a dead-person walking, as we drag our bodies heavily across the school grounds, wearing our spaced-out expressions on our faces. We mumble incoherently or with monosyllabic answers to “How are yous” from annoyingly cheerful parents who smile and greet us.  In our heads, we’re shoving them violently on the side and growling “Go to hell!” under our breaths.

Thank goodness, I don’t do the morning run, otherwise, I’d be known as “T’s crazy mother”.

In honour of the sleep-deprived parent, Yorkshire Linen recently launched a campaign called “The Patch up with your sleep revolution”.  It invites parents to share their tips on how to get that much sought-after holy grail of a goodnight’s sleep.

I’ll be honest with you, I don’t really have much tips to share.  If I did, I wouldn’t be sleep-deprived now would I?

One thing is certain though, I know what makes me happy.

I love beddings, clean, crisp, newly laundered bedding.  I may not sleep on it the whole night, but knowing that it is there, just waiting for me, fills me with absolute bliss.

I’ve mentioned this so many times in past posts before, how much I love beddings and soft-furnishings, how they are on the top of my list of “small joys”.  Suddenly the state of being sleep-deprived isn’t much of a big deal anymore.  Bring it on, sleepless nights!  Besides lacking sleep is like the “new normal” isn’t it?  At least in the land of parenthood, that is.  After all, Part of our job description as a parent: Must learn how to function with little sleep.  And you know what, I’m bloody good at it!

Do you have any tips on how to have a good night’s sleep?

Do share.

Disclosure:  This is a collaborated post.

Cuddle Fairy

Trespass Clothing Perfect for Country Living (A Review)

We are lucky to live in a beautiful part of England. The village where we live is nestled between hills, going down into the sea. We have an old harbour that dates back to 1584. Although we don’t have a beach, when it’s low-tide in the summer, there is enough sand for the little ones to play on.

We love living here, and as much as we can, when we’re not busy we spend it out doors and of course, in the country, it is very important to wear the right coat, especially down here in Cornwall where the weather can turn really rough.

I love coats. I have about six of them. I like wearing them, because they’re so convenient to use, especially when you’re a mother. You can do a mad dash out of your house to do the school run even if you’re wearing the tattiest top you own under your coat – no one will ever know except you.

The problem for me though, finding the right coat is a bit like the Goldilocks syndrome, but instead of being too hot or cold, mine would be too big or too small, I’m barely five foot inches you see. I can easily be dwarfed in a big coat and it would make me look smaller than I already am.

And if I order a smaller size, I’d be lucky to be able to zip the coat up, let alone wear a cardigan underneath it, especially since … let’s just say I haven’t lost much of my post-pregnancy weight.

Lucky for me, I’ve found a match made in heaven, the Trespass Everyday Women’s Waterproof jacket. It actually feels like it was tailor-made for me.

Why do I love it? Let me count the ways:

trespasscoatfront

1. I love that it has shape. As I’ve mentioned, I’ve lost mine five years ago, giving birth to T. It’s nice to have a coat that doesn’t engulf me and make me even look bigger than I already am.

trespassback

2. I love that it has style. Most waterproof jackets I’ve seen look sporty, which is fine. Although I don’t claim to be a stylish mum (I’m probably the most non-stylish mum you can find on the school run), but that doesn’t mean I’d say no to style. Having said that, I love the details of this coat. The zips on the pockets and the small belts on the side, which you can adjust depending on your size.

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3. It has a detachable hood. Admittedly, it’s nothing new. A lot of jackets have this feature. But I love the way it detaches and attaches with a zipper. For me, it makes it sturdier than buttons or clasps.

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4. The length is just right. Most coats are too long for me, again making me look shorter than I already am.

5. The arm length is also perfect. Most coats make me look arm-less, I must have it shortened, fold it or just awkwardly hike them up my arms.

6.  The fit is just right. I was wearing a bulky jumper underneath and it didn’t feel tight at all. I noticed some costumers commented on their website that sizing is a bit too small, but I guess that also depends on your build. When it comes to coats, a size 12 fits me and this is a medium, and it rather fits me well.

7.  And lastly, Trespass is a British brand. It’s nice to support my adoptive country’s own brand.

Dislikes:

1. I’m not a big fan of coats with a faux fur trim in the hood, but luckily the fur is detachable, so I’m losing that one.

2. I don’t like the way the zipper is zipped upwards rather than downwards. It’s easy to accidentally unzip it and maybe drop things.

2. The coat is only available in navy and khaki, even though I love both colours, it would be nice to have a variety of other colours to choose from.

I haven’t used it in the rain yet, so I don’t really know how waterproof it is.  But considering how much it has kept me warm in spite of the harsh Cornish wind, I have a feeling it will be as weatherproof as any coat can be.

performance

All in all, if I were to rate this coat, I’d give it a five-star rating. Like I mentioned it feels like it’s been tailor-made for me and its perfect for my lifestyle of country walks through the woods, on Rough Tor, jaunts on the beach, the school run or even just walking Doc on the headland.

trespass7_littlesteps

What about you?

What are your criteria when choosing a rain-coat?

Do you go for style, brand or practicality?

Disclaimer:  Trespass sent me the raincoat for the purpose of this review. However all words and opinions are mine.  All photos are owned by Little Steps and were taken by my husband.

Family Fever