I’ve been so wrapped up in preparations for Pickle’s upcoming first birthday, that it almost slipped my mind that it’s also Father’s Day soon (Sunday 18th June, if you need a quick reminder – it’s always the third Sunday in June). Since I’ve become a parent, I really appreciate the significance of both Mother’s and Father’s Day. Obviously, I’ve always been super thankful and proud of both of my parents and these days are a good excuse to show them a bit more love and treat them to a nice family experience, but now these holidays (can you call them holidays?) just take on a whole new level of meaning. I get why it’s so important. This year will be the first that LPD isn’t able to celebrate with his own Dad, so even more than his first Father’s Day last year, I really want this year to be as lovely as it can be for him. He deserves lots of treats.

Happy Father's Day with TJ Hughes

With maternity pay long since finished and a bank account that is no longer being replenished by a healthy monthly income, I was worried that it would be perhaps a bit weird to buy LPD his present with our joint account money (that he mainly pays into…) but thankfully, TJ Hughes came to the rescue and offered us the chance to test out some of their Gifts for Men ideas.

I confess: I’m actually really rubbish at buying gifts for LPD. He once remarked that I only ever buy him things that benefit myself too, like days out or DVDs. Which is kind of true but only because I value the memories from experiences more than material things. It’s definitely something I’m trying to combat now that he’s mentioned it, in order to try and reverse his opinion that I’m a selfish present buyer. I’m not sure it’s working yet… especially because I picked him a present from TJ Hughes that we’ll both enjoy: a Wireless Outdoor Speaker.

Akai Wireless Outdoor Speaker

With the weather (FINALLY) picking up, and our first proper family camping trip on the horizon, I thought this would be a very apt present! We love having music on in our house – there’s not a day goes by that I don’t pop a Spotify playlist on and with this outdoor speaker, we can now also enjoy music in the garden and whilst we’re out and about.

Akai Wireless Outdoor Speaker TJ Hughes Gift Idea

Costing only £19.99, I was a bit skeptical about what the sound quality would be like but actually, it’s pretty good! Not quite the same depth of quality as you’d get from a proper stereo but definitely better than cranking up the volume on your iPhone. It’s super easy to set up and can play music via Bluetooth or via an AUX cable/SD card. It recharges using a USB cable, but be warned: it doesn’t come with a mains plug. Luckily, we have a USB mains plug charger thing from Ikea which makes it easy to connect but otherwise, I’d have had to connect it to my laptop to charge which feels like a bit of a faff.

TJ Hughes Gifts for Men

I absolutely adore this photo… you see that look of adoration of LPD’s face? That’s because he’s looking up at Pickle. And that pure look alone is why he deserves to have the most wonderful of Father’s Days. Selfishly, I’m quite looking forward to enjoying a morning cup of tea outside our tent in the future, with some relaxing music in the background.

Paul Smith Essentials 100ml Eau De Toilette

His next gift from TJ Hughes was a Paul Smith fragrance. Now, surely I can’t be blamed of being selfish on this one? I won’t be using this particular gift (although, I suppose I get the benefit of smelling it?). For years, I’ve been buying LPD the same fragrance (Avon Wilderness, in case you’re interested – no expense spared) and so it’s about time to switch things up a little bit. I wouldn’t usually order a fragrance online without being able to smell it first, and I did find it quite difficult to choose between the scents on offer, so I did what you should never do and judged the books by their covers: going for the bottle I liked the look of the most! It’s quite a simple bottle shape, but I thought the line of colour at the bottom made it look quite classy.

Close up of Paul Smith Essential

TJ Hughes Paul Smith Essential

Thankfully, it’s quite a nice scent! I’d say it’s quite heavy so more suited to evening than daywear, although that hasn’t put LPD off using a surprising amount (!) before heading to work. You can’t really go wrong with buying smellies as a present though, can you? It always feels like a treat and especially for parents of babies – there’s always an unsavoury baby smell to cover up!

Stuck for Present Ideas?

If you’re stuck for present ideas, I’d recommend checking out the Gifts for Men section on the TJ Hughes website. There are things to suit all manner of budgets, covering tech-gadgets, clothing, fragrances, kitchen and novelty items, with added benefits of 10% off your first online order and the option for next day delivery if you leave it a bit late. There’s some Gold Plated Playing Cards that caught my eye for a cool present! I reckon my brother might like those, as he sometimes hosts poker nights with his friends… but he’s not a Dad yet so he’ll have to wait until his birthday.

Now to get my thinking cap for something that we can do on Father’s Day to make it a memorable one for LPD. With these gifts, I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for nice weather because a big family picnic might be just the ticket! I’m even tempted to create a Spotify playlist especially for the occasion that’s all Daddy-related. Are there many Dad songs out there? Let me know if you can think of any.

Disclaimer: TJ Hughes sent us these items in return for my honest review and to try out their Gifts for Men ideas. All opinions remain my own.

It seems we can’t get enough of a good thing, as after our successful trip to Cinema Bambino last week, we were back at mac Birmingham for Elmer by Riverside Performing Arts. As nervous as I was that Pickle was perhaps nearing the top end of the age bracket for Cinema Bambino, I had the opposite fears for Elmer as it was promoted as being for Aged 3+, and Pickle is not even 1 year old yet… but he’s been so enthralled by the other theatre productions that he’s seen that I thought it was worth the risk. And despite a couple of minutes when I genuinely thought ‘oh god, what have I done?’, I think he did enjoy himself!

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Ever since I’ve been taking part in Donna and Katie‘s #TheOrdinaryMoments link up, it’s really made me think about the little parts of every day that I want to capture better. It’s the little things that are so easily forgotten even though they’re often the most precious. And this week, I’m celebrating story time! We began to introduce a little bit more of a bedtime routine just before Christmas and now I really enjoy our nightly bedtime story.

I always sit Pickle in my lap to read, all freshly in his pyjamas, and I pull the duvet over our legs so we’re nice and cosy. Now that he’s a bit older, he loves to try and reach out and help turn the pages (or the whole book most often!) and he’s started to get very wise as to where the flaps and doors are in the books that have things to lift up and open. It ALWAYS makes me smile with pride when he tries to open the flaps – it’s amazing that his little brain has retained and remembered that’s where they are and what they do.

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After our super successful trip to see Oily Cart’s In a Pickle, I couldn’t wait to take Pickle to the theatre again. My first port of call was the mac Birmingham website, and it wasn’t long before I had bought tickets for LPD, Pickle and I to see Sponge by East Midlands dance company Turned On Its Head.

Sponge Turned On Its Head

Louise Gibbons performing in Sponge, an interactive dance show for young children from Turned On Its Head

If you’ve ever been to my house, you’ll know it’s pretty much constantly untidy and always in need of a good clean, so I was partly hoping that taking Pickle to a show entirely focused around sponges would begin to foster not only a love of culture but also cleaning! And by the way he was grabbing hold of the sponges in the show… I think I may be onto a winner.

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Pickle was only two days old when his Auntie Chub (an affectionate nickname, promise) came to visit him in the hospital and brought with her a very special little present: Clarence. This striped cheeky-looking teddy cow (often mistaken for a monkey) very quickly became Pickle’s favourite. He goes everywhere with us – the poor thing has probably been stuffed into my backpack and change bag more than any other item we own, so when the lovely people behind My Oldest Friend got in contact to offer us a way to preserve, cherish and honour Pickle’s oldest friend, I jumped at the chance!

Clarence the Cow my Oldest Friend

My Oldest Friend is a unique service that captures your child’s favourite toy in their very own photoshoot resulting in a framed print ready to hang in their nursery. I quite like the idea of Clarence looking over Pickle whilst he sleeps, a constant source of reassurance and comfort.

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