It was a very early start as we had to catch the 7.15am train from Manchester - I wasn't alone either, Red Rose Mummy (Pippa) and My Mummy's Pennies (Jen) were on the same train with their children - all equally excited and suffering the lack of coffee!
When we arrived at the event we were well in time for the first session and got a chance to look around the brands first - Kinnerton was just inside the door and caught the attention of my son - even more so when they gave him a Star Wars light saber full of chocolate and one of their brand new light up advent calendars! Guaranteed nut free and made in the UK, Kinnerton have really raised their game recently and it shows in the products. Delicious.
The next brand we spoke to was Mini Nom Noms - I hadn't heard of them before, but they make ready meals which are more carefully thought out than your average ready meal, with fresh, good quality ingredients which are full of flavour, and niftily designed packaging which allows for each component of the ready meal to stay separate - so for example, rice, curry and nan each have their own section in the box, and can be served up neatly and more attractively.
They appreciate we all have different tastes and favourites, and were letting the children mix up their own Masala spice mix using the spices that they liked the smell of best.
Mini Nom Nom meals are available in child and adult ranges, my son loved the Chicken Tiny Tiffin and I tried the Veggie Tagine, which was really gorgeous and full of flavour, and not in any way a 'shelf filler' as vegetarian options often are.
Next was Home Sense - and guess the price of the reindeer! We didn't get it right sadly, but at £35 it's a fair price for such a huge Christmas decoration and my son said he'd be more than happy to carry it home on the train!
Crystal Ski Holidays might be the stuff of dreams for us at the moment, but I think every child there adored the snow room! Absolutely brilliant to play in, by the end of the day everyone had artificial snow in their hair!
There were some great speakers at the event. I've been blogging a while and know the basics, and therefore often find blogger events repeating information I've already seen or heard, but these were very different. We had two speakers from Fundamentally Children, Dr Amanda Gummer talked about play and learning through play together, and we had a really great talk about cyber safety and how to choose suitable apps. from The Good App. Guide. I really enjoyed these talks far more than I had anticipated.
We also saw Helen from Kiddycharts deliver a session on using Pinterest more effectively. The session was due to be delivered by her and my mate Anna from In The Playroom, but Anna's son developed Chicken Pox the day before! As I'd spent all week talking to her while she prepared the slides for the presentation I was pretty gutted she didn't get to co-deliver. I'm fairly poor at Pinterest, and it was full of useful hints - although I doubt I'll ever get as many followers as either Anna or Helen!
We missed the Halloween dress up competition because I was in a session, which was annoying as we'd carried a Joker costume all the way from Manchester, but my son wasn't too bothered. There was plenty to keep him occupied, including a great Halloween lantern craft session hosted by Lloyd Warbey from Disney Junior's Art Attack.
Towards the end of the day Perform UK delivered a lovely active games session which all the children really loved - and it gave us chance to sit down for 30 minutes calm!
The goodie bags were indeed good, and as my children are a bit big, I'll be giving away my Tractor Ted DVD's in November, but the La Roche I'm keeping...my treat...
We got back to Manchester Piccadilly station thankfully just ahead of the rugby crowds, and everyone was in bed for 10pm....an early night for me, but such a long day!
The event was hosted by Talk To Mums - who aim to help brands understand what real mums and families want from their products.