Monday, October 29, 2012

Road Test :: Steelcraft Strider Compact

*Disclaimer: Steelcraft kindly offered us the Strider Compact Pram as a travel pram when they became aware of our family trip overseas to Asia. There was no money exchanged & these honest thoughts are my very own. *

A family holiday overseas is like a wedding. It takes months of planning and when you least expect it, it rolls around and then you’re back home, stuck in the laundry washing tacky $5 souvenir T-shirts. Although l wouldn’t be washing T-Shirts after a wedding, instead l would be getting my gown dry-cleaned. Well you get the general gist!  

I’m rambling already aren’t l? I miss my pool bar.

But enough daydreaming about the pool bar, I’m here to share with you our adventures we had in Hong Kong and Vietnam. 

We weren’t alone in our travels, there was Mr Bambini, Mr 2, Mr 4, Gramps, Granny, yours truly and the Steelcraft Strider Compact. Yes the pram gets a mention as the 7th family member, but only because l spent so much time fussing over it like a small child, hauling it in and out of planes, trains and automobiles, making sure it was safe and sound.

{Mr 2 at Hoi An Market}

In a word – it’s not a travel pram. 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fabulous pram for parents who like to go to the park, the supermarket or even on a short day trip. But for lugging around busy airports, hotels, tour buses and train stations it’s not the best thing to have around.

First here are some basics. This pram suits all stages of a child’s growth and development. Optional accessories include a Bassinet, InfantCarrier and a Second seat. We only used the one seat as Mr 4 likes to walk and we only needed the pram for Mr 2 for the big walks. 

The pram actually clips apart in two pieces. There is the sturdy frame that folds down, then the stroller seat is easily released from the frame, thus making two. The pram will not fold down while the stroller seat is still attached. It must be removed. Let me go through the PROS and CONS of our overall experience with the Steelcraft Strider Compact.

{Mr 4 at Hong Kong Disney Land}

PRO:: The stroller seat can face both ways – front and back. Your child can either choose to sleep facing in or face out. Mr 2 mainly faced out, he loves watching the world go by when he is having some down time while on the move.

CON:: That stroller seat was my new BFF. It couldn’t be checked under the plane and was included in my carry on because it wasn’t attached to the pram. So along with the nappy bag, my handbag, the kids backpack l now had one more thing to carry, as well as watch the kids. Although it was fun to use the stroller seat to poke the children with if they weren’t moving fast enough to get to their seat on the plane.

CON:: The stroller frame and the accessory bag had to be placed in giant plastic bags when checked as luggage. This took up extra time with a feeling of the unknown, will we see you at the other end dear pram? Again with the fussing.

PRO :: The stroller seat did fit in the above overhead locker. Yippee!

{Over Head Locker :: Flight from Ho Chi Minh}

PRO :: Loved that the wheels can easily clip off when you need to put it into a small Hong Kong taxi 

CON :: Hated that we had to put one piece of the pram in one taxi and another piece in granny’s taxi. I don’t know if the word compact immediately came to mind in this situation.

PRO :: The pram is FANTASTIC for sleepy children. We loved that the seat has THREE backrest adjustments with pillow and full leg support. The kids really slept soundly while we were out and about.

{Mr 2 having a Catnap!}

CON:: Hated that while Mr 2 was asleep l couldn’t get the pram onto a Hong Kong Peak Tram because it was too big to fit into the carriage. I had to wait at the bottom while everyone went to the view point to take in the Hong Kong scenery. And just a word – there are A LOT of stairs in Hong Kong. A lot…..

PRO :: We loved that the Steelcraft had a sturdy frame. We especially loved it more when Mr 2 got T-Boned by a crazy Vietnamese Cyclist. The frame took a really good beating and didn’t bend or bow. No one was injured. Maybe my pride more than anything, l was the one driving the pram. 

CON :: In Hong Kong they don’t allow prams on the escalators, therefore we had to seek out every lift in town just to get around. If we had a smaller pram we may have been cheeky and risked the escalator.

PRO :: We loved the accessory bag storage system which sat under the pram. We stashed all our sunscreen, bug spray, water and shopping with ease. See picture below. 

{Ready for the day - nappy bag all packed}

CON:: Who ever invented the buckle up system on this pram needs a good talking too! There are 4 separate harness straps with buckles that have to be placed into one giant buckle. This is NOT an ideal system when trying to restrain a back arching, tantrum throwing 2 year old.

CON :: The Steelcraft Strider is not good for using around the streets of Vietnam. The footpaths are non-existent or jammed with bikes or junk, and the option of walking on the road is just too dangerous. A much smaller and lighter pram would have been better to use. But that’s just in my opinion.

PRO :: The pram is the perfect height for wheeling up to tables in restaurants. We hardly asked for a high chair as the pram doubled as one. Yay!

{Walking on the road in Hoi An - footpath not wide enough for us!}

In a nutshell it was hard work lugging around such a large pram. 

I hated checking it in at the airport as it was too big to take through to the boarding gate. It was also hard work getting it into taxi’s and buses and it was just another thing to juggle along with two very excited children. 

It’s not the pram’s fault, it’s just that it’s not suitable for this location. On the flip side it was GREAT for the kids to sleep in and for storing their bits and pieces. 

I won’t take this travelling again but l will use it to walk up to the shops and maybe pop into a café, although like l said, the frame is rather large and not suitable for small spaces.

{Take me home...}

 **We never used the arm bar, rain cover, mesh sun shield or boot cover – it was just more stuff to carry in my mind. I’m sure these extras will come in handy when we are just cruising around our neighbourhood.**

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Spotted! Uber Cool Highchair

This Highchair looks pretty slick to me.
Just add baby + soggy weetbix = fun mess for mum!

Get all the COOL deets HERE

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Spotted! :: Cute Dinner Plates

I'm such a big kid - l would totally LOVE eating off these plates too.

You can BUY them HERE

Monday, October 8, 2012

Let's Play! Cafes with Cool Play Areas

It's 10am.
You need coffee.

The kids need to get out of the house.

And you need some inspiration on where to take the youngins.

Here are our Top 4 cafes to visit that have excellent play areas for the kids.

North Folk
Head to Maxxii Moo :: Unleash the kids into the mini kitchen play area and let them cook you brunch! 
South of the River
Skip your way over to Cowderoy’s Dairy :: One word - PLAYGROUND – they have one next door – need l say more.
West Side
Get on that West Gate Bridge to Leroy’s :: On offer is a good little play area for the kids, complete with sandpit. So the wait in traffic is totally worth it.
East Peeps
Look no further than Fordham’s Milkbar. :: Bake treats are sure to add pounds to your waist line but who cares, the kids will love the milkshakes, mini cupcakes and of course the train playground.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Family Day Trip :: Ballarat

Readers of this blog know that I’m originally a Ballarat girl. Most of my teenage days were spent munching on chips and gravy at Central Square and hanging out at Lake Wendouree talking about boys, as you do.

Being Melbourne based now l usually jump at the chance to head back home, and recently l was invited to a preview of Ballarat in Bloom which was held by Ballarat Regional Tourism. Basically, Ballarat in Bloom will be a festival celebrating the vintage side of Ballarat. The festival will showcase everything from local food, fashion, art and blooms which is planned for the months of October and November.

We experienced a stunning gourmet lunch at The Botanical Gardens and a guided tour of the Capturing Flora exhibition currently on show at the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery. And while this was all lovely, for a mum without her kids, l got to thinking how Ballarat in Bloom would be appealing for families. And here is what l came up with.

Capturing Flora :: 300 Years of Australian Botanical Art
This exhibition is perfect for the art loving mums with a baby bub. If you want to get out of the house to check some local botanical art history then this exhibition is for you. The Gallery has changing facilities on site with a cute café next door serving tasty eats and treats to re-fuel.

Spring Fest Market (my personal favourite!)
We’ve been going to Spring Fest for many years now with the bubbas. Set on Lake Wendouree foreshore the Spring Fest market has over 350 stalls to visit. From food, fashion, kids clothing, baked treats, ice-cream, face-painting, vintage cars, carnival fares and more. A must visit in my book. Pack the pram along with your best walking shoes. There are toilets available all around the lake with FREE parking on site, plus loads of fun things for the kids to experience and look at.

Ballarat Botanical Gardens
A visit the Botanical Gardens with the Kids is a must. The gardens host a variety of fun activities for the wee ones like the BotaniKids Playgroup and the Great Big Garden Play Day.

The BotaniKids playgroup program welcomes families with open arms, aimed at children between 0 and 4 years of age, they meet up at the Robert Clark Centre in November for music, craft and fun. BYO Kids Snacks. See HERE for dates and times.

The Great Big Garden Play Day celebrates international children’s day in style. With a range of fun activities on offer for the kids, from bug hunting, water fun, dress up’s, treasure hunts, giant spiders and nature story time, there is sure to be an activity your little one will LOVE.  The Great Big Garden Play Day is on the 24th October. See HERE for a full list of more BotaniKids activities.

Kid Friendly Eats
How could we not mention some of our favourite spots to get some good country style family eats. Whether it’s lunch, dinner or morning tea these places will re-fuel your tiny tourists in no time.

The most important thing to pack when planning a day trip is your sense of adventure. The folk are friendly and the weather can be slightly cool, so pack an extra jumper, just in case. To me its home and Ballarat sure is fun for families.

For more information on other events during Ballarat in Bloom see HERE.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Spotted! :: Train Set Table Top

This Train Set table top puts a whole new meaning to ‘playing with your food.’ Check it out!


The Bambini bubbas would LOVE one of these in our kitchen.

Purchase details HERE


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