Independent Lincoln makes buying small easy

Lincoln has developed in recent years to become a shopping destination with a wide range of retailers including many that welcome younger visitors through their doors.

Start in the St Mark’s Shopping Centre and you’ll find big brand names such as Mothercare, Mamas and Papas, Toys R Us, The Entertainer and Debenhams.  Move into the centre of the city and you’ll find an area starting to show the benefits of its ongoing rejuvenation.

But it’s when you take steps towards and up Steep Hill to the top end of Lincoln that you’ll be rewarded with a selection of independent shop frontages that are unique to the city.

As today is Small Business Saturday – “a grassroots, non-commercial campaign, which highlights small business success and encourages consumers to ‘shop local’ and support small business in their communities” – The Mini Malpi asked a couple of those stores what they’d pick from their ranges as Christmas presents for little ones this year…

 

Bo Peep Boutique (Bailgate, Lincoln) 

A family run business, Bo Peep Boutique stocks children’s clothing, lifestyle products and traditional toys that describes its ranges as “one of a kind, quirky, different, funky and fun”. Here are just some of Emma’s favourites.LottieDoll

“We love Lottie Dolls (recommended age 3+) because they are aspirational and based on a child’s proportions rather than a grownup. £18.99.

Janod“Janod Storyboxes are one of our favourite new products. These boxes are designed for imaginative play including knights, firefighters and fairytales. £9.99

Tigger“The Orange Tree Winnie The Pooh range is suitable from 12 months plus. The new range of wooden toys just launched includes pull-alongs, trains and pushups.  Lovely and traditional, starting from £4.99.

JellyCatAquaBunny“Jellycat, designed in the UK, are the softest soft toy range on the market.  We stock a wide range including books, comforters and toys from £8 upwards.”

 

With Love From Lincolnshire (Burton Road, Lincoln)

With Love From Lincolnshire is definitely the perfect place to visit on Small Business Saturday as where “every item has been lovingly handmade by local craftspeople” “you will find over 70 small local business under one roof”.  Like most small independent stores, Pirjo Holtta doesn’t stock anything she doesn’t love herself but here she picks out some highlights for us.

Cardigans“The most beautiful cardigans are crocheted by Justine.  These cardigans come in all the colours of the rainbow and in sizes: 0-3m £6, 3-6m £6, 6-12m £7, 1-2yrs £8, 3-4yrs £10, 5-6yrs £12, 7-8 £14.  By buying one of these cardigans you don’t only support one small local business but three!  The Stylecraft Special DK yarn is from Number Four (also Burton Road, Lincoln), Justine (Just Handmade) has crocheted the cardigans and you can buy them from With Love From Lincolnshire.

“Nothing keeps a little one warm like a lovingly handmade blanket or a quilt and we stock a range, including some with matching bunting, by crafters Val, Nicole (Little Sew It All) and Justine.  And we’ve also got lots of hats and mittens for little ones full of character!

Octocape“Jacqui’s octocapes are her best selling items!  With no fiddly buttons you just put it over your child’s head and it will keep their neck and chest warm without bulkiness. Great to wear in a car seat too! £5.50.

“Reversible dresses for little ones must be one of the best inventions ever!  Accidents happen and no-one needs to know if you’re wearing one of these – just quickly turn it round!  These are easy to put on and take off with snappers on the back or on the shoulders.  This is also a great time to buy a pinafore dress. Add layers underneath and cardi on top, start reducing layers towards spring and wear on its own in the summer!  £9 each or 2 for £15 by Rachel Pugh and from £7 in sizes 0-4 by Pauline.

GrowMePants“These Grow-With-Me-Pants have been designed and made by Karen Booth Designs with folded hems and waistband for your little one and are made with a pre-washed cotton and lycra jersey fabric for minimal shrinkage and added bounce back comfort.  No digging in elastic!  They are £7.99 a pair in sizes from newborn to toddler.”

 

Lindum Books (Bailgate, Lincoln)

Looking for a book?  Independent book store Lindum Books gave us their recommendations here: Seasonal stories make perfect presents.

 

If you are challenging yourself to the sheer walk up the hill (or taking the bus and walking down) then you might also want to pop in to Annual (Grantham Street, Lincoln), that has a passion for unique design and an exploration into making the world for children stimulating and fun, and Object and Line (Bailgate, Lincoln) that searches out small to medium companies worldwide that have high design values.

Are you buying small this year?  Recommend a local business from near you in the comments below and make someone’s day!

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Escape into literary winter wonderlands

Whether as part of an advent calendar, included in a Christmas Eve box, a stocking filler or a main present, there’s no doubt that books make great Christmas presents – they even make the cut in the “four gift rule” of want, need, wear and read – so no wonder there are so many great titles to choose from.  Here Deborah Holland of Waterstones, Lincoln picks out a few of her favourites with a wintery theme to look out for if you’re buying for mini ones this year.

polarbearexplorersThe Polar Bear Explorers’ Club – Alex Bell (Faber & Faber, PB, £6.99)
This book is a brilliant fantastical adventure story with a stunning cover and illustrations by Tomislav Tomic.  On this expedition to the Icelands join Stella, Beanie, Ethan and Shay for a thrilling tale with snow pirates, carnivorous cabbages, unicorns, wolves and pygmy T-Rex to name a few!  This is Alex Bell’s first book for younger readers as she usually writes for young adults.  I’m very excited about what will come next.  If you were looking for that extra stocking filler for your own bookworm then this is a must.  Perfect for any child aged 9 years old onwards.  Chosen as November’s Book of the Month at Waterstones it’s not hard to see why.

invisiblechildThe Invisible Child & The Fir Tree – Tove Jansson (Sort of Books, HB, £4.99)
This book is available exclusively through Waterstones, Oxfam and the Moomin shop.  Two short stories in a beautiful hardback with gorgeous illustrations.  The Invisible Child is about someone finding their voice with the help of a simple Moomin recipe.  The Fir Tree is perfect for this time of year showing the Moomins unselfish take on Christmas.  My children love these stories and I love their message of respect and tolerance.  Perfect for ages 6 to 106 years old.  Aside from being a huge Moomin fan – 100% of the sale of this book will go to Oxfam’s projects empowering women and girls around the world.  A perfect gift.

WalkingWinterWonderlandWalking in a Winter Wonderland – Tim Hopgood (Oxford University Press, PB with CD, £8.99)
Tim Hopgood’s illustrations are amazing in this stylish picture book of Felix Bernard and Richard B. Smith’s song Winter Wonderland.  Stunning pictures of wildlife to spot on each page and everything blanketed in snow.  A brilliant book to read to your young one over the festive season and an added bonus CD of Peggy Lee singing the song!  Festive spirit, nostalgia and a sing song too.  I dare it not to get you and your little one in the mood for Christmas.

ADotintheSnowA Dot in the Snow – Corrinne Averiss (Oxford University Press, PB, £6.99)
I read this out at a story time recently and though very simply told it really engage the young ones of 3 years onwards and is beautifully illustrated by a new talent – Fiona Woodcock.  Her sparkly snow is a particular winner in our household!  This is a tale of a polar bear cub, Miki and a girl who get separated from their mothers.  Miki sees a red dot in the snow and slowly gets bigger until Dot reveal herself a human girl.  This is a lovely story of friendship, a changing polar landscape and a heart-warming story to end a wintery day.

Need more suggestions?  See what Gill Hart from Lindum Books recommends here: Seasonal stories make perfect presents.

For more recommendations from the Lincoln bookseller pop into their store in High Street, Lincoln. 

Santa’s Workshop has an extra touch of magic this year

The Lincolnshire Food and Gift Fair 2017

SW1

If Christmas itself and the chance to catch a glimpse the man in red aren’t magical enough for your children then the Lincolnshire Showground has arranged for an extra spellbinding attraction at the Santa’s Workshop at Lincolnshire Food and Gift this year.

The Magical World of Fingley, a series of five children’s novels, will be bringing two of its pixies, Astoria and Nixie, to the event taking place on December 2nd and 3rd and they’ll be helping younger visitors to enjoy colouring, crafts, reading, writing, storytelling and treasure hunts.

There will also be a range of Christmas crafts for children to have a go at and Super Chefs will be helping them decorate their own festively-shaped pizzas.

Lincolnshire Showground CEO Jayne Southall says “Christmas is all about family and we’re keen to ensure that the Fair celebrates everything that is great about Lincolnshire by offering something for everyone.  Children love the magic of Christmas and we are delighted to run the Santa’s Workshop for a second year following its popularity last year, and to welcome The Magical World of Fingley.”

The fair is open from 9am to 4pm on the Saturday and Sunday.  Tickets are £5 in advance, £6 on the door, accompanied under 16s and parking are free.

Find out more on the Lincolnshire Showground’s website.

Heigh-Ho Ho Ho, it’s off to the grotto we go

Christmas 2017

Santa 2017If my blog stats are accurate then many of you are a lot more organised than me (although I probably didn’t need numbers compiling to tell me that).

Last year’s Looking to find the man in red?, a list of where the bearded one and his helpers were appearing in and near Lincolnshire, has been steadily gaining views again since early this October.  Despite my usual “not until at least after Halloween” ruling I had considered doing my usual Father Christmas visit round-up earlier this year.  My post Putting the heart into Halloween might explain why I never managed to but, as I’ve also seen certain venues are already selling out, I thought I better get on with it now.  You never know, it might make me get on with booking our visit too, after all it’s not that long until he has to return to the North Pole to see to his global duties.

As always, live events can be subject to last minute changes and selling out so be sure to check booking details before you travel and certainly before promising anything to excitable mini ones! 

And, if you know of one we’ve missed, then please email hello@theminimalpi.co.uk with the link and I’ll be happy to add it.

Ark Wildlife Park, Stickney
Various dates between December 2nd and Christmas Eve
www.arkwildlifepark.co.uk

Baytree Garden Centre, Weston, Spalding
Various date between November 4th and Christmas Eve
www.baytree-gardencentre.com

Belton House, near Grantham
Various December dates
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/belton-house/

Boston Pescod Square
Various December dates
Facebook event

Brigg Garden Centre
Various dates in November and December
www.britishgardencentres.com

Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway
Various December dates
www.cclr.co.uk

Doddington Hall, near Lincoln
SOLD OUT (waiting list available)
www.doddingtonhall.com

Downtown Boston
December 2nd and 3rd
www.oldrids.co.uk

Downtown Grantham Garden Centre
Various November and December dates
www.oldrids.co.uk

Downtown Grantham Superstore
Supper with Santa – Various November and December dates
www.oldrids.co.uk

Dunholme Community Christmas Fayre, St Chad’s Primary School
November 24th
www.dunholme.org.uk

Elsham Hall
SOLD OUT (December 1st, 3rd, 15th, 17th)
Facebook page

Fillingham Trees, near Gainsborough
December 7th, 8th, 14th and 15th
www.fillingham-trees.co.uk

Hildreds Shopping Centre, Skegness
Various December dates
www.hildredsshoppingcentre.co.uk

Holbeach St Nicholas Community Fayre
December 2nd and 3rd
www.allsaintsholbeach.org.uk/st-nicholas-fayre/

Hykeham Lions
Various December dates
Facebook page

Johnsons Garden Centre, Boston
Various November and December dates
www.johnsonsofboston.co.uk

Kelham Hall, near Newark
November 25th and 26th
www.KelhamChristmas.co.uk

Kirton in Lindsey Fair Gardens
Various November and December dates
www.fairgardens.co.uk

Lincoln area – Lincolnshire Firefighters Escort Santa’s Sleigh
December 15th-19th
Facebook post

Lincoln Castle
Various December dates
www.lincolncastle.com

Lincoln Santa Fun Run & Walk 2017
(No grotto but hundreds of Santas!)
December 17th
www.lincolnsantafunrun.co.uk

Lincolnshire Showground Food and Gift Fair
(No grotto but Santa will be visiting on his sleigh)
December 2nd and 3rd
www.lincolnshireshowground.co.uk

Lincolnshire Wildlife Park, Friskney
Various December dates
www.lincswildlife.com

Lincolnshire Wolds Railway
December 9th, 10th, 16th and 17th
www.lincolnshirewoldsrailway.co.uk

Lincoln, Wacky Warehouse, Newark Road
Breakfast with Santa, December 9th, 17th, 23rd
Facebook event

Lincoln, Windmill Farm, off Whisby Road
Breakfast with Santa, December 23rd
Facebook event

LMS Country Store Christmas Market, Wellingore
December 2nd
LMS Facebook

Normanby Hall, near Scunthorpe
Various December dates
www.normanbyhall.co.uk

North Hykeham Fun Farm
Come dine with Santa – December 13th
Facebook event

North Scarle Miniature Railway
December 10th and 17th
www.lincolnmes.co.uk

Oldrids, Boston
Tea with Santa – December 14th
www.oldrids.co.uk

Oldrids, Gainsborough
November 25th and 26th
www.oldrids.co.uk

Oldrids, Scunthorpe
December 16th and 17th
www.oldrids.co.uk

Oliver Boat Trips, Brayford, Lincoln
Various November and December dates
www.facebook.com/oliverboattrips/

The Pink Pig Farm, near Scunthorpe
Various December dates
www.pinkpigfarm.co.uk

Rand Farm Park, near Wragby
Various November and December dates
www.randfarmpark.com

Reepham School Christmas Fair
December 2nd
Visit Facebook event

The Ritz, Lincoln 
Breakfast with Santa – December 19th-21st
Facebook event

Rufford Abbey Country Park
Various dates between November 18th and December 23rd
Facebook event

Scunthorpe Christmas Lights Switch On
November 25th
Facebook event

Sherwood Forest
Santa Paws Dog Grotto
December 9th and 10th
Facebook event

Springfields, Spalding
Various November and December dates
www.springfieldsshopping.co.uk

Sundown Adventureland, Rampton, near Retford
Various November and December dates
www.sundownadventureland.co.uk

Tattershall Farm Park
December 2nd and 3rd
Facebook event

Waterside Shopping Centre, Lincoln
December 1st-24th
www.watersideshopping.com

White Post Farm, Farnsfield
From November 25th
www.whitepostfarm.co.uk

The Winter Express
December 20
The Poacher Community Rail Partnership will be taking the train from Nottingham to the North Pole (Boston) to watch the Polar Express in 3D.  On the train there will be activities, treats and on the way home a very special guest.  Booking essential.
www.lincolnshire.gov.uk

Seasonal stories make perfect presents

Whether as part of an advent calendar, included in a Christmas Eve box, a stocking filler or a main present, there’s no doubt that books make great Christmas presents – they even make the cut in the “four gift rule” of want, need, wear and read – so no wonder there are so many great titles to choose from.  Here Gill Hart of Lindum Books picks out a few of her favourites with a seasonal theme to look out for if you’re buying for mini ones this year.

SnowSamUsherSnow – Sam Usher (Templar Publishing, HB, £5.99)
A charming little book all a-sparkle with snow!  The ground is covered in snow and one little boy can’t WAIT to get outside and play.  But his grandad is taking SO LONG to get ready.  When they finally leave the house, they have a very surprising adventure!  A beautiful mini hardback gift edition of Sam Usher’s bestseller.

AllTheWayHomeDebiGloriAll the Way Home – Debi Gliori (Bloomsbury, HB, £12.99)
Daddy Penguin has to look after the egg while Mummy is finding fish.  But he wanders away from the Dad Huddle and he and the egg are whisked up into the air by a gust of wind, landing in the Arctic.  Brave Daddy must find out where he is and how to get home.  But the Arctic creatures aren’t that friendly and he stumbles along in the cold, lost, until he bumps into a reindeer, who takes them to breakfast with the Special Air Navigation Transport Authority.  Can brave Daddy Penguin and his new little one get all the way home before Mummy returns?  If only penguins could fly…

SnowAngelLaurenStJohnThe Snow Angel – Lauren St John (Head of Zeus, HB, £10.99)
Lauren St John’s stunning Christmas classic is about forgotten children, the power of nature to heal us and a girl who will climb mountains in search of a place to call home.  Growing up in vibrant, crowded Nairobi, Makena has only one dream: to climb Mount Kenya like her hero, her mountain guide father.  But when her beautiful world is shattered, she finds that in the city’s dark places there are a thousand ways to fall, each more deadly than any crevasse.  In a world of strangers, does she dare trust Snow, whose ballet dreams are haunted by a past she’s still running from?  And is the sparkling fox friend or foe?  After a fresh start in the Scottish Highlands turns bad, Makena flees to the mountains.  But will they betray her or be the making of her?

FatherChristmasAndMeFather Christmas and Me – Matt Haig (Canongate, HB, £12.99)
It isn’t always easy, growing up as a human in Elfhelm, even if your adoptive parents are the newly married Father Christmas and Mary Christmas.  For one thing, Elf School can be annoying when you have to sing Christmas songs everyday – even in July – and when you fail all your toy-making tests.  Also it can get very, very cold.  But when the jealous Easter Bunny and his rabbit army launch an attack to stop Christmas, it’s up to Amelia, her new family and the elves to keep Christmas alive.  Before it’s too late…

OneChristmasWishOne Christmas Wish – Katherine Rundell (Bloomsbury, HB, £14.99)
It’s Christmas Eve and Theo – left at home with a babysitter – sees an odd-looking star out of his window and decides to make a wish.  He wishes that he had some friends to keep him company.  Moments later the Christmas decorations begin to disentangle themselves from the tree behind him, ready to wreak a little havoc.  Written with generous helpings of warmth and humour, this is a story about treasuring the people and values that really matter at this time of year from master storyteller and bestselling children’s author Katherine Rundell.  Emily Sutton’s breathtaking illustrations perfectly capture the magic of Christmas in stunning detail.

For more recommendations from the Lincoln bookseller call 01522 262374 or pop into their store in Bailgate, Lincoln.

F is for Faith (…and fuchsia)

IMG_9579Every mother knows that her own children are gorgeous but it’s always nice to hear it confirmed by other people too.

And it was lovely to hear that a photo I shared of Faith on @TheMiniMalpi Twitter account caught the attention of the artist behind Bertie Bear Button Art and Crafts.

Designing and hand making personalised artwork with buttons, Sarah from Kirton Lindsey in North Lincolnshire, offered to send Faith her own individually designed initial art frame and, as you can see, she was very pleased with the finished piece.

The idea appealed to me for several reasons – I love words and letters, button is a term of endearment I often use for all three of my minis and it’s always lovely to have something personalised and individual appropriate to your unique child.

And the frame lived up to those expectations too.  The natural wooden frame can be freestanding or hung on a wall and came very securely padded in a mailing box surviving two deliveries in our case as a neighbour was kind enough to receive it for us when we missed the postman.

The mix of buttons sizes, shapes and shades is lovely and I like the 3D dimension to the nature of the craft.  I think most parents would love the heart button but, as Faith is currently waiting for a heart operation, it has extra significance to us and I like its prominent placing.  There is a bow button, flowers and the butterfly would definitely currently be a winner with Faith’s older sister.

IMG_9587

The frames currently come in either pink or blue.  I’m quite a fan of using other colours too and Sarah says this is something she’d consider in the future although it’s understandable why those two colours are the mainstays in her button stash.  Plus when I was trying to think of a colour that begins with f as well I just came up with fuchsia anyway!

I’m sure it will make a lovely feature to her bedroom wall for years to come.

As well as initials, Sarah’s designs also include a family tree, ballerina, heart, the words home and love and an apple perfect for a teacher thank you present.  Find out more at Bertie Bear Button Art.

If you’d like a unique letter button frame made for your mini one or would like to buy any of her artworks as a gift then Sarah is offering The Mini Malpi readers 25% off their order.   Use the code THEMINIMALPI25 in her Etsy store at to claim your discount.  And we’d love to see your photos of your little one with their own art piece too so don’t forget to tweet us @TheMiniMalpi.

Sunday Sevens #2

#SundaySevens is a blog series started by Natalie from Threads and Bobbins.  Here’s my second entry into the series looking at a few of the little things that have happened in the mini ones’ lives this week…

  1. PuddleometerMaking a Splash

We found these wellie boots for Willow secondhand when she was attracted to the monkeys on the side and have only just noticed the rather fabulous puddleometer on the backs.

Stocking.jpg2. Christmas is coming

I’ve had several conversations with Luke about Christmas recently. Because, you know, it’s March, you’ve got to be prepared.  His main concern, prompted by finding this mini stocking, seems to be that Faith needs a stocking too which is really sweet so I’ll let him off.  But I’ll also make sure we do a better job of clearing every single last piece of Christmas paraphernalia away properly this year.

3. New reading material

WBD 3

We finally had time to spend our World Book Day tokens this week, popping into Lindum Books in the Bailgate in Lincoln quickly whilst on our way to a playdate.  Luke chose Peppa Loves World Book Day, Willow’s choice was Everyone Loves Underpants and we decided to get the Where’s Wally title too for daddy to share with Faith.

SarahDuckHotelWe were also given a copy of Sarah & Duck Stay at the Duck Hotel by one of Willow’s godmums.  After reading this several times in quick succession, Luke was so determined to visit the Duck Hotel himself he and Willow started packing their Trunkis in preparation.  Who wouldn’t want to stay in a hotel where there’s a slide directly connection your room to the swimming pool?

4. #BookEngland

I took part in a Twitter # hour hosted by Brit Mums and Visit England this week focusing on the literary holidays the country has to offer to staycationers.  #BookEngland was a delightful conversation with fellow reading enthusiasts and reminded me of places I’d already been pre-minis that I’d like to go back to with them, as well as suggesting new places to go.  Seven Stories in Newcastle, The World of Beatrix Potter, Swallows and Amazons locations were just a few.  Through the tweets I also discovered that Lincolnshire’s Belton House is hosting a Moondial exhibition this year in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the publication of Helen Cresswell’s novel.  And now, through a friend’s Facebook page, I’ve also discovered there’s The Story Museum in Oxford which looks fab and is another one to add to the list!

5. Viral interview

I don’t believe anyone can have failed to see the BBC interview where South Korea expert Professor Robert Kelly was upstaged by his family antics.  If you’ve been living under the proverbial rock this week then Google it – it’s hilarious and endearing.  But also make sure to check out some of their follow up interviews as they highlight what such a lovely family they seem to be in slightly less panicked circumstances.  Isn’t it nice that the chaos of ordinary family life has stolen the headlines at least for a few days?  And I’m sure a few of us know a lot more about the situation in Korea than we otherwise would have…

6. Road signs 

roundaboutLuke’s nursery asked us to take photos of road signs when we’re out and about as his group expressed an interest in what they mean whilst they were taking part in another activity.  This was two or three weeks ago.  We’re still taking photos of road signs now.  It’s nice that he’s taking his homework seriously but our March 2017 family photo albums are going to look a little weird…

7. The Mini Malpi blog on tour

MMovement

Many thanks to Sarah Hogan who is in the process of launching The Mummy’s Movement for featuring my blog Loving a designer label as a guest blog on her website.

“Being a busy Mum can be a bit isolating sometimes and we don’t want you to feel like that anymore.  Join The Mummy’s Movement” she writes on the Facebook group – and you’re all welcome to join too!

And don’t forget World Down’s Syndrome Day is on Tuesday!

 

SundaySevens