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Cloth Bottys!…

At the moment you can buy Bambino Miosolo nappies for just £7.99 from Aldi (fabulous when you consider that they can be twice that price!) and you have three designs to choose from…

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…we got two each of the ‘little birdy’ and the ‘up up & away’ patterns.

We haven’t started using cloth yet (much to my chagrin) as I’ve just not been in the right place in my head to deal with the extra work. Even now, we’ve only got these four (plus the prefolds I’ve talked about already) so we have a way to go before we’re totally weaned off ‘sposies.

These nappies are all-in-one so they have a waterproof cover that has intergral absorbant material (thick microfibre in this case) rather than separate inserts. The insert can be pulled out to make washing/drying easier, and the pocket it goes in can be boosted with extra inserts, should you need to.

At first glance, they look great…

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The velcro fasteners can be secured back on themselves (top picture) which is really useful to keep the nappies from getting stuck to each other when washing. The insert has a handy little loop (right) to make pulling it out easier (for washing purposes), and it also has a little ‘glove’ pocket at the end (bottom left), to help push it back into place once they’re clean and dried.

Nappy Prep…

Cloth nappies need to be prepared before you can use them.

All nappies should be washed at least once to get rid of any manufacturing dirt/chemicals before use. Natural fibre cloth (like cotton and bamboo) has natural oils that will repel water (and, therefore, pee and poop) so they need to be washed on a hot wash two or three times to get rid of the oils and improve their absorbency.

Miosolos are completely synthetic so I put them through a 40 degree wash with a bit of Ecover laundry liquid, followed by a rinse to get rid of any leftover detergent. In the future (when they’re dirty) I’ll rinse them first to get rid of excess pee/poop, then put them through a 60 degree wash. I’ll probably follow with a rinse then too.

Note…you must wash natural and synthetic nappies separately until you have stripped the oils from the natural cloth so that the synthetic fabrics don’t take-up the oils as they are released.

I dried them on a radiator rack (so they weren’t directly touching the heat) and they were dry by the morning, but you can put them in the tumble-drier on a cool cycle if you want to.

Ready to go…almost…

So! The nappies are washed and ready to be used, but I don’t have any liners for them. Liners not only wick the wetness away from baby’s skin (which the fleecy material of the pocket also does) but they also make it a lot easier to deal with poop…

With liners, I’ll be able to throw (disposable liner) or wash (reusable liner) most of the poop away.

Without liners, I’ll have a pail full of lots of VERY poopy nappies. There will be staining. The bucket will smell a hundred times worse. I will be putting a LOT of poop through the washing machine.

At the moment I don’t know what direction to take with liners. Disposable ones seem easiest as they just go out of the nappy and either down the loo or into a nappy bag and into the bin. Reuseable ones mean less waste of course, and I kind of feel that if I’m going to be washing nappies and wipes (we use reusable wipes already) then I might as well be washing liners too…but I’m not sure I want to be rinsing poopy liners out.

I already have a big sheet of fleece (a cheap Ikea blanket…far FAR cheaper than buying the equivalent amount of fleece fabric) to make more wipes out of, so I may as well make nappy liners at the same time. It’d make more sense to do that than buy liners.

…I’m also waiting for a lidded bucket to arrive. I searched online for a “nappy bucket” and found several options, the cheapest being about £7. I searched again for a “lidded bucket” and found this white one for £4.99 (with free delivery) that I can decorate with Sharpies, should I so desire.

We’ve only got the four at the moment, and I’m loathe to buy any more until I know how they work for us, but we should be able to do the best part of a day in cloth once the bucket arrives.

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2016 in Baby, Life, Parenting, Plans, Reviews

 

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Bounty Newborn Pack…

When you’ve given birth to your lovely baby, and you’re spending your time getting to know them on the postnatal ward, the Bounty reps come around bearing gift-packs and cameras. We turned down the offer of photographs (feeling like we were going to be trapped into spending lots of money, and not wanting Bounty to have possession of any pictures of our son), but were happy to accept the pack.

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If I’m honest, after the last two packs I’ve received (Bounty Mum-to-Be and Emma’s Diary Bump-to-Baby) I didn’t hold out much hope for the Bounty Newborn Pack, but I was really pleasantly surprised…

The first thing you notice is the free STUFF, because it’s bigger and more interesting than the small forest of literature that’s included…

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The best thing in the pack was a baby towel (top left) that is beautifully soft and comes with a sample of Persil Non Bio liquid and Comfort softener as well as money off vouchers for the same (the two brands we already use! Huzzah!)

Next best things were sample nappies and wipes from Aldi and Asda (I used the Asda wipes before I had chance to take the picture. Whoops). Asda only give you two of their ‘Little Angels’ nappies, and I think the pack had 10 wipes in it. Aldi are FAR more generous with 24 Mamia wipes (now in our nappy bag for emergencies) and 4 sample nappies. Fabulous!

We have since used the rest of these nappy samples up (more about our nappy experiences soon…) and can safely say that both Little Angels and Mamia nappies are very good quality and very good value if you then go on to buy them. The wipes are brilliant too, and we’ve used them on George’s bum and face with no adverse reactions (unlike Huggies aloe vera wipes which gave him sore skin. Bad Huggies!)

There was also a Tena Lights sample (and money off voucher) in the pack, another mini pot of Sudocrem, and a sample of Baby D Drops. All in all, a cornucopia of freebies!…and useful ones at that!

So…that’s all the interesting ‘STUFF’…now onto the forest of paper that was included in the pack. I was prepared for it to all be selling me something or just generally useless, but again I was pleasantly surprised…

  • Child Benefit Form…VERY useful! Unfortunately I didn’t know it was in there until a week or so ago (despite it being printed on the pack itself) so I didn’t have it with me when we registered George (you can apparently hand your filled in form to the Registrar)
  • 2 x Lansinoh Breast Milk Freezer Bags…also VERY useful. I hadn’t even thought about buying these so when I needed to freeze some of my expressed milk I had two in reserve! Awesome stuff!
  • Hotel Chocolat Tasting Club voucher…to get a £22.95 selection for £6.95. I love these chocolates! USEFUL!
  • Obligatory “Ocado 20% off” voucher…when you spend over £80 of course…not at all useful.
  • Pixifoto voucher sheet…for free photography sessions as your baby grows. Pretty useful if you like that sort of thing.
  • “Gift Certificates”…these look like great offers on the face of it BUT they’re all American sites so you have to pay almost £10 in postage for each purchase. It’s not bad if they were things you wanted anyway…you can get:
  • You and Your Newborn Bounty Book…I haven’t even looked through this but I’m fairly sure it’s another book of advertisements. It could be useful. Maybe.
  • Your Guide to Contraception After You’ve Had a Baby…leaflet. Useful!
  • Meningitis Awareness…mini leaflet. Also useful!
  • Coping With Wind and Infant Colic…leaflet (it’s basically an informative advert for Infacol)…very useful as George has suffered with bad wind (possibly colic)
  • Junior ISAs…leaflet. Might be useful.
  • D Drops Voucher…and leaflet. Useful for finding out what they’re about (and buying more).
  • Bounty Parenting Club Form…of course. I’m sure this will be useful if they want to give me more free things.

So there you have it! It was stuffed with STUFF and THINGS and a lot of it was useful (or could be seen as being useful)…all in all I’m pretty impressed!

Thanks Bounty 🙂

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2015 in Baby, Life, Lists, Parenting

 

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More Cloth Bottyness…

After posting about wanting to use cloth nappies a few days ago I actually bit the bullet and made a nappy purchase…

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Aldi have had these in for a while so I’ve wanted to get them every time we’ve gone in (three or four times a week) but I really wasn’t sure about them. Then I read on a Facebook group that they’d been reduced, so I made it my mission to grab a pack when we next went in.

They weren’t as cheap as I was expecting (some stores have them for £7.99 apparently) but considering that Bambino Mio sell the covers alone for £7.99 (and the four inserts for £14.99) I thought that it was an excellent saving. Plus…I LOVE the foxy/toadstooly design…

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In the pack you get two “water resistant” covers (the other is plain white) and four absorbent inners, along with 50 disposable liners.

These are prefold nappies (you fold up a large piece of absorbent cotton and pop it inside the cover before velcroing it up) and they seem quite easy to use…

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…the cotton inner has soft seams to help you fold it correctly and the cover has a pockety bit at the front to help keep the innr in pace. It does seem a bit bulky so I’m reserving judgement until I can actually use it on our boy.

I was very tempted to buy two packs, but there weren’t any other designs to choose from and I’m not sure I want to spend another £11 on something that might not even work for us. They did have quite a few left though so I’m going to keep an eye out and maybe grab another pack if they do go down to £7.99…

…I do REALLY like that foxy design…

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2015 in Baby, Life, Parenting, Plans

 

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That Really Grinds My Gears – Part 3…

The first and second parts of this story were bad enough, you’d think, but before too long the tale of woe was to become a trilogy.

A few days after we arrived home, a letter dropped onto the doormat…

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This is actually the second letter they’d sent me but they amount to the same thing…

We were being charged £70 for ‘parking’ for 117 minutes when the limit was 90. That’s approximately £2.60 per minute.

At first I panicked and tried to call the *expletives* at ParkingEye (I knew it was an automated phone line, but as I said, I panicked) and then I fired off an online appeal without thinking to do a Google search on the best way to respond.

After checking the box that named me as driver and registered keeper I told them that we’d tried to leave after being in the car park for 45 minutes, but that the gear stick had snapped off, forcing us to park back up and call for assistance. I said that I hadn’t known there was a time limit on parking, but that even if I had, I probably would have been too stressed out to give it a second thought. I also told them that if I’d have been concious to the fact we were outstaying our welcome I would have thought the presence of an RAC van would have alerted them to the fact that we weren’t parked, but BROKEN DOWN and that surely their CCTV cameras could back this up. I pressed send, read the message that told me they would only reply in writing after AT LEAST ten working days, and (wrongly) assumed that they would honour my appeal.

I had not seen the original letter until a good few days after it had arrived as it had gotten shoved amongst other mail, so eventually I received a second, more threatening letter (pictured above). This one told me that if I hadn’t responded by August 15th (just 14 days after they sent out the first letter) then the charge would go up. It was incredibly intimidating but I decided not to react and waited for a reply to my appeal. It was a good week or so until I eventually got another letter which informed me that I had 14 days to produce an RAC reference number to prove I wasn’t a great big liar…

I was angry,

Okay, so I had told them I could get a reference number to support my appeal if they needed it, but why should I have to? They (or Aldi) were more than certain to have CCTV trained on the car park, and the RAC van would have been picked up by the registration recognition cameras on the way out, with me clearly in pursuit. Besides all that, how dare they impose another deadline on me when they are so free and easy with their own response time?

Once I’d had a search around online at some advice forums I realised that I hadn’t been hard enough in my initial approach…

  • I’d told them that I hadn’t known there was a parking limit, but I should have said I saw no signs about parking limits or charges and therefore had entered into no contract when I had parked.
  • I should have said that their charge of £70 for 40 extra minutes of parking was disproportionately high and failed to represent any loss that might have been incurred by the land owner.
  • I could also have pointed out to them that their parking charge notice was not a penalty charge notice and, as such, was unenforceable by law.
  • I should also not have admitted to being the driver. I couldn’t lie and say it wasn’t me, but they can only claim to have a contract with the driver and I had no legal obligation to tell them who was driving.

Lots of the forums advised ignoring the letters altogether because ParkingEye wouldn’t take it as far as court, but this was advice from early 2012. At this point PE were likely to reject any appeal (no matter how supportive the grounds were), yet those who ignored their demands completely were eventually left alone. In September 2012 a body called POPLA (Parking On Private Land Appeals) was set up to appeal against the unfair appeals, but you can’t get their support without first appealing to the Private Parking Company (PPC) who are charging you.

…And then in 2013 ParkingEye began issuing court claims to those who were following the advice of the forums. A member of the Parking Management Team from Aldi said that this was because people were, en masse, refusing to answer their mail. Presumably revenue was down and so they had to start backing up their threats.

Current advice in the forums is to appeal very clearly, stating lack of contract, excessive and unenforceable charges, and that no losses have been incurred by the land owner.

If such an appeal were to be rejected (and it most likely would be) then the forums advise that you request a POPLA code from ParkingEye (or similar) so that you can take the appeal further. Most people agreed that PE would drop it at that point, being unlikely to want to pay the £37 fee that POPLA would charge them.

My problem would have been that as I broke down (which classes as mitigating circumstances) POPLA weren’t guaranteed to back my appeal, but that doesn’t matter so much…

Although ParkingEye would have had to back off if POPLA supported my appeal, I wouldn’t have to pay up if they didn’t. PE would have to take me to court to get any money out of me, and any judge in their right mind would have laughed them out of the room. How could I have moved off their land with this going on…

Something is clearly wrong here...

Something is clearly wrong here…

I wouldn’t have thought of looking online for advice on my own though…it was actually after few phone calls to Aldi that left me utterly furious when I decided to seek support.

After the second (well, third if you consider their second demand) letter from ParkingEye I called the RAC for a reference, and then I called Aldi customer services to complain about PE and make the supermarket aware of how threatening and pushy their PPC was being.

I made it very clear that I wasn’t trying to appeal the charge, but the operator still tried to get me to call back on a different number, as the Parking Management team were ‘who I should be talking to’. I got a bit miffed at her buck-passing attitude and told her again that I was calling to complain and that I had thought Customer Services would be concerned by my distress. At this point she stopped being snotty with me and agreed that I had every right to be frustrated. She also chose to tell me that she gets lots of people calling with my very complaint. Interesting. The rest of the conversation was fairly pleasant and cathartic, and I ended the call feeling confident that my complaint would be handled as such…a simple complaint about the aggressive attitude of a company that didn’t even have people you could call and speak to. Once again, I was wrong to assume.

I got a voice mail message from a girl called Laura a few days later and I called called her back expecting to get through to a CS operative, but no. Laura (who finishes work at 4.30pm, making it impossible to speak to her outside of my own work hours) is one of the delightful (read: rude and confrontational) members of the Aldi Parking Management team. Rather than talk about my complaint, she wanted to interrupt me, belittle me, and say things like ‘it is your responsibility as a driver to blah blah blah…’. As if this wasn’t bad enough, she shouted at me and called me ‘totally unfair’ for saying that I understood Aldi get numerous complaints about ParkingEye. I pointed out to her that it was one of her team that had fed me that particular piece of information, and that she could probably listen to a recording of the conversation if she wanted hard evidence.

I felt it prudent to tell Laura that it is rude to interrupt people, imply that they are stupid and then call them liars, and that she was doing very little to improve my opinion of Aldi as a company. I then took advantage of her kind silence to remind her that I had called to complain about the disgusting vultures that they employ to police their car parks, and to make her aware that I would prefer to speak to those vultures over her any day. I asked her to stop harassing me while I was at work and kindly never call me back again.

Laura is not a very nice person and I can only assume that she is on some kind of commission from the parking charges. She did nothing to try and help me and wasn’t in the least bit bothered that I was upset, seemingly more interested in intimidating me further.

It’s disgusting enough that Aldi should employ companies like ParkingEye, so imagine how I feel now I know they also employ people like Laura. Don’t even get me started on the fact they allow her to speak to the public.

So…what happened next?

Well, to cut a long (rambling) story short, a few days after I’d given Laura the sharp edge of my tongue (a week or so after I had placed my second appeal), I received an EMAIL from ParkingEye to tell me that the charge had been dismissed. I did an awful lot of shouting at Laura, so I can’t imagine she was feeling overly generous at the end of our conversation, but I do have to wonder if she didn’t have a hand in getting the charge dropped…

As I said already, when you appeal online, ParkingEye state very clearly that they will only respond in writing and that you shouldn’t expect to hear from them until at least ten working days have elapsed. If they had been responding to my second online appeal then surely it would have been by letter? I guess I will never know, but it is terribly tempting to respond to their email or call Laura back for another cosy chat. I just want to thank them for dropping their totally unenforceable charge, of which they would never have seen a penny…

If you happen to be stung with any kind of parking charge, please please please don’t pay it! These charges are completely ridiculous and can always be fought. No car parking space is worth £70 for 40 minutes! You could over park for HOURS and it would cost the land owner nothing. They have no right to charge you.

For more advice, go to…

http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/

or…

http://www.legalbeagles.info/forums/

and start your own thread about your own parking charge problem. Both sites give excellent advice and can show you where to look to compose the best appeal.

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2013 in Random

 

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