5 articles Tag back to school

Back to School with Smiggle (review)

I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid if there was one thing which could make me feel better about going back to school it was new stationery, so when Smiggle got in touch and asked if we’d like some goodies for Sausage to make the back to school transition a bit nicer, of course I agreed! Her bundle arrived today to MUCH excitement. We were sent the following:

smiggle-glitter-markers

Smiggle Glitter Markers – £10

milk-shake-carton-scented-pencil-caseSmiggle Milkshake Carton Scented Pencil Case – £11.50

neon-watchSmiggle Neon Watch – £13.50

smiggle colour change pencilsSmiggle Scented Colour-Change Pencils – £1.50 each (£6)

smiggle scented lipstick eraserSmiggle Scented Glitter Lipstick Eraser – £2

I’m not going to lie; the levels of stationery-related hysteria were at an all time high last night. Sausage spent about an hour testing out her new gear, drawing with her pencils and colouring in with her pens. I swear, she even made deliberate mistakes just so that she could use her eraser. She was sad that her class has a no-pencil case rule so she couldn’t take them in to school with her but she wore her watch and proudly showed off the touch-activated face to anyone within earshot.

From a parental point of view, all of the stuff she was sent was really high quality (and the pencil case smelled good enough to eat!). It’s probably a little more than we’d usually spend on stationery items but the unique designs means that they felt quite special compared to ‘normal’ pens and pencils. I think they’d probably make really nice gifts for kids of Sausage’s age, especially the watch which comes in various different colours. Smiggle vouchers would probably also go down really well as just the name “Smiggle” seems to instil excitement in kids (and me, if I’m being really honest; I’m a sucker for stationary).

Without wishing to use the “C” word too much, I think a lot of the smaller items like pencils and rubbers would make really nice stocking fillers at Christmas, and I believe Smiggle also does an advent calendar which I just know Sausage is going to want.

All in all we were really pleased with Sausage’s Smiggle goodies and I know we’ll be heading to the Smiggle store, next time we’re in Lakeside. Thanks to Smiggle for our stationary stash.

Back to School with Clarks Shoes

A few weeks ago, Clarks asked us if we’d like to go along to our nearest store and have Sausage properly measured for her next pair of school shoes, so armed with our £40 voucher we went along to the Southend branch this week to get started with our back to school preparations.

When we got to the store, I was eternally grateful that we’d arranged an appointment – the upper floor where the kids shoes are housed resembled a soft play centre on a rainy day rather than a shoe shop! The assistants were run off of their feet and it whole place had the electric atmosphere that you get when 2 dozen hyperactive children are verging on shopping-induced revolt!

Thankfully, we found a corner to sit in and we didn’t have to wait long for an assistant to come and measure Sausage’s feet. I was impressed with how thorough the measuring process was, having never been to a Clarks before and was pleased to note that they check width as well as length, which I think is really important for feet which are still growing.

Clarks Feet Measuring

Once the lady determined what size Sausage would need (10G, just in case you wondered!), she presented us with boxes of shoes that came in the right size, which was really helpful as it saved Sausage from getting her heart set on something, only to be told that she couldn’t have them.

Eventually, Sausage chose a black patent leather pair, with a velcro strap which would make it easier for her to get them on and off when getting changed for P.E. and swimming. The fitting didn’t end at the measuring though, as the Clarks assistant then put the shoes on Sausage, checked how much space her toes had, checked for space at the heel and even checked to see that the shoe wasn’t too tight on the top of Sausage’s foot. I must say, it was the most thorough shoe fitting I’ve ever seen, and the woman had no idea that we were there for a review, so it’s not like she rolled out any special treatment for us.

Clarks School Shoes

The shoes themselves seem to be very good quality. The sole is thick and sturdy, the strap looks very well attached and the attention to detail on the upper and inner is very pretty – they even have fairies printed on the inside, which Sausage immediately fell in love with! These shoes were £34, which I thought was reasonable for a pair of good-quality shoes.

Clarks Shoes Attention to Detail

Most importantly, Sausage is very comfortable in her new shoes and I think they’re going to last her very well over the coming school year. Thank you, to Clarks, for having us along to pick out some shoes – Sausage is a very happy girl!

Top of the Class – Mum’s the Word Recommends…George

Up today we have George, the clothing brand from Asda.

They hit the target in terms of colour, giving us both gold and brown, so here’s what we got:

1. Leather School Shoes (price unknown)

2. Yellow School Scallop Polo Shirt (2pk) – £3

3. Brown Box Pleat Skirt – from £3.50

4. Feel Fresh Ankle Socks (7pk) – £4

The shoes don’t seem to be on the George website anymore, so I can’t comment in terms of value as I don’t know what they cost but Sausage has been wearing them for about two weeks now and they haven’t rubbed her feet at all, and they don’t have any scuffs. There’s a padded bit at the back which is presumably to reduce discomfort from rubbing, the insoles feel almost squishy like memory foam, and Sausage says they’re really comfy. There are other shoes on the site which look almost identical but with a different pattern on the front.

The polo shirt doesn’t feel like it’s made of quite as thick material as the ones from Tesco, but I do like the scalloped collar for little girls, it’s a nice touch that looks pretty and feminine.

The skirt washes up nicely and is a good length while the box pleats allow for full range of movement, so she’ll still be able to charge around whilst wearing it. It washes up nicely and has a Teflon coating to reduce stains, so I suspect it’ll last quite well too.

The socks are for size 9-12 and Sausage is a size 9 but they come up on the larger end of the scale, they bunched up around Sausage’s heel, so the 6-8.5 may have fitted better but they’re okay quality and the whole ‘feel fresh’ thing intrigues me, I’m guessing it’s something to do with not getting stinky feet, but I can’t find an explanation on the website. They also have a scalloped edge, which is pretty.

All in all, the George uniform is really nice; the polos don’t feel quite as good as the Tesco ones but the skirt feels thicker and more durable (although twice the price, but still only £3.50). The shoes are leather, which is impressive as most of the pairs on the site are below £15, and I reckon they’ll last well but only time and many hours kicking around the playground will tell!

All in all, we give George an A – narrowly missing the A* for the slightly flimsy polo but being held up by the quality and value of the other items!

Top of the Class – Mum’s the Word Recommends…Tesco Clothing

The school that Sausage will be attending is a bit of an awkward one, the colours are ‘gold and brown’ (I’m sure that was ‘yellow’, last time I looked?!) and I’ve noticed already that acquiring the correct items for her has been an issue. Yellow doesn’t seem to be too difficult to get hold of, but brown seems to be far less popular. I’m surprised that retailers don’t make a point of finding out what colours the schools in the area wear and make a point of stocking them.

Anyway, today’s Back to School review comes courtesy of Tesco Clothing.

Here’s what we got:

1. F&F Fresh Feel knee-high socks (5pk) – £4

2. F&F 100% cotton v-neck t-shirt (2pk) – £2

3. F&F Basics grey skirt – £1.75

4. Back to School Summer Dress with coordinating hair band – £4 (or 2 for £7)

5. F&F 100& cotton pique polo shirt (2pk) – £2

6 – F&F School girls stripe swimsuit – £4

One thing that struck me about the range available from Tesco is that it seems to cater for every budget. There are more expensive skirts available, but the one I picked out for £1.75 is shockingly cheap and still seems to be good quality. It washed and ironed up very nicely and quite honestly, with the amount of paint, chalk, mud and goodness knows what else Sausage will be smothering herself in at school, I’d be tempted to buy her one for every day of the week! (Although official colours are brown and gold, grey and black are accepted too)

The cotton t-shirts will be for P.E. and at £1 each, you really can’t argue with the price. The material feels really soft and is surprisingly good quality for the price, it’s not thin or flimsy at all. I love the fact that the socks come in a pack of five, giving us one pair for every day of the week and the swimming costume, which Sausage has already swum in, is comfy, covers well and washes up nicely without bobbling like some cheap cozzies.

The summer dresses are a particular favourite. I noticed when browsing the shops that some of the summer dresses around are made of pitifully thin material which would be see-through if wearing patterned undies, but the Tesco Clothing ones are thick enough so as not to be, whilst still being the sort of fabric which will keep her cool. They also come with a matching hair bobble, which is a touch that both Sausage and I love. They’re in a deal at 2 for £7 at the moment, which seems great value to me. The polo shirts are also great value and quality, which seems to be a running theme with all of the items we received.

Tesco also offer an embroidery service, which is not something we’ve used as we’ve not bought Sausage’s cardigans or fleeces yet, but it’s definitely something we’re considering, as it adds a nice touch to uniform.

All in all, Tesco Clothing and F&F offer brilliant prices, great quality and a nice range of colours and options, all of which you can check out here.

Mum’s the Word gives Tesco Clothing an A – narrowly missing out on the A* mark by not offering anything brown!

Top of the Class – Mum’s the Word Recommends…Ryman Stationary

As some of you may know, Sausage starts school next month, which means lots of uniform, stationary, bag, shoe and PE kit buying but as we’re new to this, we had no idea where to start. It occurred to me that if we’re feeling a little unsure then the chances are, other first-timers will be too so here at Casa Crammond, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to review and recommend all of the essential back to school kit you’ll need.

First up: Ryman Stationary

One thing you need to know about me is that I love stationary. Probably to an unhealthy degree. But I don’t care, I just adore pens, paper, maths sets…there’s so much promise in an empty notebook and I get giddy at the lovely things on offer in a stationers. Sausage is just like her Mummy in this respect and she’s been seriously looking forward to getting her new pencil case, so when Ryman Stationary sent us a £25 voucher, we were both really excited!

We spent £22.81 and this is what it got:

1. Europa Pink Wallet File – £1.29

2. Pentel R50 Handwriting Pen – £2.29

3. Stabilo Fluorescent Pencils (4pk) – £1.99

4. Ryman A4 100 Sheet Lined Refill Pad – £1.59

5. Crayola Metallic Markers (5pk) – £4.49

6. Pilot V5 Hi-Tec Fine Point Pen in Pink – £2.69

7. Maped Boogy Pencil Sharpeners (3pk) – £0.99

8. Helix Glitzy Folding Ruler – £1.29

9. UHU Glitter Glue (6pk) – £3.49

10. Cats and Hearts Pencil Case – £3.99

Obviously, not all of these items are completely essential to start school with, Sausage could probably get by simply by taking the pencil case containing the pencils, sharpeners and handwriting pen, but I told her she could use the voucher to get whatever she wanted and I think she chose well. The Crayola Metallic Markers were the most expensive item but as they’re branded, that’s no great surprise. Our receipt shows that three of the items we bought qualified for their 3 for 2 offer, though I’m not sure which ones, but we saved £1.29 over all.

I was really pleasantly surprised by how much Ryman Stationary offers, our local store looks quite small but has so much packed inside and they offer a really broad range of brands too. The 3 for 2 is on their Back to School items and you can see the full range here.

A great start to our Top of The Class series, Ryman Stationary gets an A* from Mum’s the Word!