Back to school!

The back to school feeling is here!  For some readers you might be thinking ‘where has the time gone?’ and for others you may be thinking ‘thank goodness for that’!

Either way, from researching the costs involved with sending your little ones back to school it sounds like it could be a painful experience on your pocket!

With Little O not being at school yet (I have this all to come next year!) I had to ask around first hand to find out what are the true costs involved from friends and other little pickles followers.  It seems that a new school uniform for Infant/Primary school can cost anywhere between £90-£180 with new shoes being the biggest expenses and we all know that Clarks shoes aren’t cheap!

Then cost in the factor of possibly buying a Summer uniform later in the year, school trips and maybe even school lunches the cost just gets bigger and bigger.

Our much loved supermarkets are there to help a little if you need to stick to a tight budget.  Tesco’s and Sainsburys popped up when asking where you buy your school uniforms from and Tesco’s even have an embroidery service so you can order your little ones school jumper with the correct logo – providing your school is registered!

So our blog isn’t all doom and gloom we have a few tips on trying to manage to cost!

  • · Do your home work and get organised.  As soon as you receive the dreaded list from school start researching where you can buy your uniform at the best price.  A status to your friends on Facebook is a great start!
  • Keep your eyes peeled for nearly new uniforms at our markets! Many schools also hold small second hand sales from their lost property box or from uniforms that have been donated to them when the kids have grown out of it.
  • Make sure you label EVERYTHING, you don’t want your items ending up in the lost property box, doesn’t matter what it is, if they take it to school they can lose it.  You’ll get brownie points from the teachers too!
  • ·If your school isn’t registered with an online embroidery service (like Tesco’s) then be the one to get them registered and you’ll have lots of new best friends to thank you!
  • ·Speaking of online, check to see if Quidco are offering any cash back before ordering off any online sites.
  • ·Try and include the bulk of school expenses in your monthly budget and put aside a little each to prepare you for the ‘Back to School Season’.  Of course this is easier said than done, as sometimes there is just nothing left in the bank account TO put away.  Which leads me on to the last tip!
  • ·Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t afford it all!  We all want the best of our little ones, the best shoes, the branded PE kits and all the things your little ones say ‘they must have’ but be realistic and if you really are struggling then speak to your school as there are grants out there.

Good luck and here’s to great school year!  If you have any tips on surviving the school expenses then we’d love to hear from you.  Just pop a comment below!

Written by Selina Shrimpton, Little Pickles Markets and Baby Show Organiser

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To stay or not to stay?

If you’re not going away where this summer break, or at any point this year then try and look at what you have around you and turn it into a ‘Staycation’!

Last May we took Little O on his first ever holiday and jetted off to Majorca.  We timed it so it was 1 month before his 2nd birthday meaning we didn’t have to pay for him!  We had such a great time that we said we would try out best to scrimp and save every penny so we could go again this year but it’s just too expensive!  All though there are always deals out there, a 7 night stay at the same 3* hotel, half board, during term-time for the 3 of us was working out around £1100!!! and that, sadly is just not going to happen…unless we win the lottery in the next few weeks!

So we accepted the fact that we couldn’t afford to go anywhere this year at all (it’s been a year of ouchies on the pocket so far) and spent the 10 days Daddy had off from work at home in July.

Days out in the this country can end up costing you a small fortune so we set ourselves a budget of £120 spending money and here’s a few of the things we got up too!

  • We hit Paultons Parks a few times!  We live just 10 minutes from there and have a Season Ticket so although it wasn’t a brand new day out for us as it was still something which made Little O happy – making Mummy and Daddy happy!
  • LEGOLAND was another awesome day out and we used our Tesco Clubcard Reward Vouchers meaning all we paid for was fuel for the journey, a few ice creams and we had dinner at the park meaning we could stay literally until the park shut at 7pm!
  • Swimming!  And it was great that Daddy got to come as we normally go in the week just myself and Little O when it’s quieter.
  • A FREE Toddler Sense taster session was a great morning out.
  • The beach!
  • Oh a few meals out 😉


Pro’s and con’s to a ‘Staycation’

Pro’s first!

  • Money saver! £120 holiday at home ‘V’ a £1100 holiday aboard
  • No packing!
  • Making the most of what you have around you.  There are plenty of great days out in Britain if you just spend a little time looking and asking around.


  • Our summer weather can be a little unpredictable although we were lucky enough to have our Staycation during the heat wave!
  • Staying at home can mean you still get bogged down by the chores around the house if you’re not careful.
  • For us, there is nothing like the excitement of being at the airport, stepping off the plane in another country and totally forgetting about what you left behind for a week

If you’re having a Staycation this summer then we’d love to hear what you’re getting up to!  Or if you’ve spent too much already this year and you need to put some pennies back in your pocket then book a table at any of our Autumn/Winter markets!

Written by Selina Shrimpton, Little Pickles Market and Baby Show Organiser

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The early days

Riding on the royal wave since the birth of Baby CambridgeKatie Martin from BBC Radio Solent asked myself and a couple of other local mummy’s if we would like to come on air to chat about our experience of having a new baby in the first few weeks.  I didn’t waste any time in accepting as it’s not everyday you get to go on the radio and I’m not shy about sharing my experience.

Our little boy, Oliver is now 3 years old so to cast my mind back to the early days (which feels like much more than 3 years ago) I’ve been looking through photos, his baby cards and had a read of his birth story which I wrote for our local NCT branch, all of which helped to jog memories!

I did feel a little sad that looking back on those early days the main thing that sprung to mind was having the horrible ‘Baby Blues’.  I often received messages from friends saying ‘enjoy this special time’ and at the time I thought there was something wrong with me as I wasn’t finding it enjoyable or special at all.  I knew it was normal to have the ‘Baby Blues’, but they really did out stay their welcome and at the time I thought they would never end.  I’m pleased to report that 3 years on I’m no longer crying everyday (in fact they stopped after about 3 weeks or so) and when I get round to having ‘number 2’ I now know there is light at the end of the tunnel.

It was great to hear the experiences from the other 2 mummy’s who went on the show.  1 who was single parent and the other who had twins boys!  This was the second time I’d been on the Katie Martin Show and both times I’ve taken Oliver (who sat and played with the lovely Producer, Rose) and when leaving he said “I had a lovely time at the radio station”- so sweet!  Any downs I’ve been through since becoming a mummy have been absolutely worth it because I love him to bits and wouldn’t change a thing.

If you’re happy to share how you felt in the first few weeks after having a baby then feel free to comment below as I’m sure it will help others who are going through the same thing!

Written by Selina Shrimpton, Little Pickles Market and Baby Show Organiser

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A Toddler Sense Adventure

I was extremely excited to hear that Toddler Sense (the Baby Sensory next step) was coming to Southampton recently and jumped at the chance to go to a free taster session.
I took Little O to Baby Sensory in his first year and struggled to find class that matched in terms of just how fantastic it is, so I had high expectations when Toddler Sense came to town.
The session last for 50 minutes and starts by letting the tots explore the Adventure Play Area which quite frankly looks like toddler heaven.  Little O enjoyed playing in a huge ball pool, a mini bouncy castle, crawling through tunnels, climbing up steps and sliding down the other side to name just a few!
Charlene (the Class Leader) then gave the tots a 5 minute warning that we would soon be tidying up and moving on to some exciting activates.  And would you believe, that with a little team work from everyone, this huge play area was cleared within minutes.
We then moved on to the activities starting with a very sweet opening song called ‘How do you do’? where the tots and parents all join.  Charlene told the tots that she had taken a call from Bob the Builder who needed help with building and fixing things and out came colourful bowls of Duplo and a mini tool kit for them each.  Well we have Duplo at home but I’ve never seen Little O move so quickly to dig in and start using his imagination.
Next we moved on to taking a ride on the night train!  Chairs lined up in rows were laid out and we were all given maracas’ to shake, a flag to wave, a torch to see in the dark and of course, our own ticket.  This was no ordinary night train as we chugged through thousands of bubble and enjoyed laser lights on the celling.
We finished with a colourful finale which involved waving chiffon scarves and ribbons to the music, watching petals and balloons float to the floor from above and to a toddlers delight – MORE BUBBLES!
The upbeat ‘Say Goodbye’ action song was the perfect way to finish off a fantastic session, in fact all the music was very impressive with that all important feel good factor.
Needless to say we had a one well entertained and happy little boy at the end of it!
3 reasons why we will definitely be going back
  • ALL the equipment is brand new and clean.  Although there is a  lots of climbing equipment Toddler Sense have got the safety aspects covered with plenty of mats to soften any tumbles.
  • Each week brings a new exciting theme.  Toddler Sense has a 2 year programme meaning we won’t see the same thing twice.  Coming in the August Specials is a Hawaiian Beach Party and a Summer Extravaganza!
  • Charlene is a great with the tots.  Friendly with lots of encouragement and praise which is a big thumbs up from me!

As we know from running our Little Pickles Markets, starting up any new business is hard work and personal recommendations and word of mouth is a really huge part of getting going.  So Charlene, Little Pickles Market wish your new Toddler Sense Southampton franchise all the best of luck!  You’ve already won me over!

To find your local Toddler Sense class visit:

6945380Written by Selina Shrimpton – Hampshire and Dorset Market and Baby Show Organiser

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It’s time to party!

Organising your own little pickle’s birthday party should be stress free and lots of fun – I mean, let’s face it, it’s a PARTY!  But we all know it doesn’t always work out that way and they can end up becoming rather expensive.

For example, I’ve been to many first birthday parties which look a little like a wedding reception for a 1 year old!  Paid entertainment, bouncy castle, helium balloons everywhere and even a tiered birthday cake!  Don’t get me wrong they’ve looked lovely but must have cost hundreds!

For our son’s 1st and 2nd birthday parties we’ve hired a hall and paid for entertainment, given the little pickles lunch and sent them off again, all within the space of 2 hours (to keep the hall hire cost down)!  With Little O being a summer baby we wanted to take a chance and have a Garden Party for his 3rd birthday and although we don’t have a garden ourselves the in-laws have a BEAUTIFUL garden, with lots of space, a climbing frame, sand  pit, paddling pool and space for a bouncy castle!

With no hall hire to pay for our only expenses were the bouncy castle (£65 for the whole day from Bozo’s), lunch and some outdoor decorations which I got from ebay and will be using at some of our markets!


We all know our summer weather can be a little unpredictable so I wanted some back-up parties games to use if we needed to stay inside and this is where I called upon help from other local mummys and they had some fab ideas I just wanted to share!

  • Old MacDonald had a Farm – asking the children to choose an animal each time
  • Musical Animals – like musical statues but hold up a picture of an animal when the music stops and the children must act/make noises like the animal
  • Treasure hunt looking for their party bags at the end
  • Sleeping Lions
  • Limbo!  Yes, the limbo! – just hold a broomstick or garden cane and ask them to wiggle underneath making a funny face, or holding their ears, wiggling their fingers out stretched, just get lower and lower!

As luck would have it the weather was beautiful and the only games played were pass the parcel and the good old Hokey Cokey!

It was a truly amazing party and we would love to hear your party suggestions so please comment below!

* With thanks to Helen Dicks from Baby Sensory and Caroline Payne from Jumping Jacks Parties & Maraca Jacks Music Workshops for some of the party ideas!

Written by Selina Shrimpton, Little Pickles Market and Baby Show Dorset Organiser

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