I love a challenge, it keeps life interesting and gives you something to aim for. Luckily I’m not too competitive so if I don’t succeed then it’s all down to experience with very few tears and minimum sulks.  So how does that  fit into a review of the latest Mercedes C-class saloon you ask?

My challenge was to see how it fared as a family car.


Now as challenges go, this was pretty luxurious; a high-end, top of the range car with all the mod cons a gadget loving mum could wish for. Pretty lush as challenges go, I totes admit. My only worry was the abundance of older gentlemen I’d seen driving around my Devon roads, it’s retirement central down here, which has a big baring on my observation so I did have a niggling doubt it wouldn’t suit our needs completely.

So there lay my challenge…. would a Mercedes C-Class Saloon suit a mum, teenager, tween and toddler.  We cover the whole age range right now so this was going to be a thorough test!

First Impressions

Ok, this is serious eye candy. End of. The front styling catches your eye straight away, it’s a long car but don’t for one minute let that put you off. (Keep reading and you’ll find out why.) There’s no mistaking the Mercedes quality as soon as you see it. Stepping in side, you’re greeted by a cockpit feel as you sink into the leather seats. My toddler was straight in the back, having a gander, the door depth meant no problems asserting his independence a making his own way into his seat. Time saver and toddler tantrum diverter all in one manageable lump!

Would I recommend the Mercedes C-Class as a family car? I tested it out over a long weekend with a toddler, tween and teenage. Find out how I got on.

Gadgets Galore!

First off was to get my seating position right. At 5’3″ I needed to notch the seat up and forward quite a bit. The controls are on the door and really easy to get the hang of, as well as those I’ve just mentioned, you can also adjust the depth of the seat which I could pull it back so it rested at the back of my knees supporting my thighs and still giving me plenty of room to move my lower legs. Next was to adjust the steering wheel height so I could see over the dash without it obstructing my view. Then we were good to go! Nearly.

Would I recommend the Mercedes C-Class as a family car? I tested it out over a long weekend with a toddler, tween and teenage. Find out how I got on.

There’s a central touchpad which controls the tablet style screen which sits in the centre dash and gives everything you need at the click of a button; radio, telephone, navigation and car settings such a colour and brightness of the ambient lighting. (I chose a cool blue which radiated from a lighting strip on the door to light up the door controls without being a distraction which was sooooooo chillaxing while driving in the dark.)

So with the toddler strapped into to his seat via the isofix settings, teenager commanding front seat position, tween reluctantly sitting in the back, Radio 1 selected, I’m cool like that <cough, cough>  directions set and temperature adjusted it was ready to drive.

The Drive

You select your (automatic) automatic gears  from a stick (is that the correct term?) just behind the steering wheel. A simple up for reverse and down to drive then push the button in the park. Theres no hand break so it’s foot on the accelerator and go.

Smooth was the word for the journey, smooth with bells on!

You can barely feel the gear changes and it gets up to speed in no time. We started in comfort mode but as we hit the twisty Devon lanes it was time to test it out in sport mode. The suspension dropped slightly and my god did it handle the corners superbly. I’ve never driven anything which felt so in control of the road. Barely touching the accelerator, every turn and brake gave the most comfortable car ride I have ever had. The toddler dropped off without so much as a murmur and the leg room was ample for my leggy 12-year-old.

Would I recommend the Mercedes C-Class as a family car? I tested it out over a long weekend with a toddler, tween and teenage. Find out how I got on.
Now anyone who’s had the pleasure of driving the narrow lanes going out of Beer and Branscombe in East Devon will understand my apprehension of taking a sparkly new, larger car on a jolly down roads where you often have to stop and reserve into a dug out pull ins. But I needed to see how this car would handle every situation I might find myself in, and this is where the reversing camera came into it’s own.

Would I recommend the Mercedes C-Class as a family car? I tested it out over a long weekend with a toddler, tween and teenage. Find out how I got on.
With guide lines helping you adjust your turn and giving you a much better view of what’s behind you than looking over your shoulder could ever do, I had no problem reversing to let traffic through. The same went for parking. Nothing phased me and that was where the real joy of having a large family car didn’t compromise on the possible difficulty you’d face in everyday situations.

And as a Family car?

I like to avoid any cries of I haven’t got any room, any whinging really, but the leg room thing is a concern, and the leg room in the back seats and passenger seat of the Mercedes C-Class was spot on. Comfort was at a premium with temperature adjustments for each passenger and scuff marks from the toddler’s feet on the back of the front seats immediately wipeable thanks the hard plastic back.

The doors open wide enough to get a toddler or baby into a car seat without any difficulty and if attaching via an isofix in the front seat, the air bag is automatically disabled. The isofix connections allow you to use the outer and middle seats so there’s plenty of options for positioning. It really passed the toddler test on several levels/

What really surprised me though, was the size of the boot. I managed a weekly shop and a pushchair with ease and hand bags / changing bag sat on the floor by my toddlers feet. The boot shuts by the touch of a button on the inner edge and opens via the key so no getting your hands dirty too.

Been there, done that, got the smudge marks on my face.

Avoiding dirty hands is a bonus, believe me!

Would I recommend the Mercedes C-Class as a family car? I tested it out over a long weekend with a toddler, tween and teenage. Find out how I got on.
School picks up were a dream. With the boys having no hesitation at being seen in such a cool looking car, I was able to find and park in a spot at the busy school road thanks to the parking assist. The stereo is crystal clear too, so with a Spotify playlist set up on my iPhone, I linked it to the media settings using the touchpad and we were off. There’s also 2 usb changing points as well as the cigarette lighter style charging point so plenty of places to keep devices topped up on long journeys.

Volume and telephone answer and hang up buttons are on the steering wheel but you can also select the stereo volume from a dial in the centre. With everything to hand it meant all my attention was on the road. I didn’t find the information screen a distraction, incase you’re wondering, as you can change radio channels with your left hand on the touchpad at a position which doesn’t feel at all restrictive.

As an added extra, we were lucky to have the sun make an appearance during our weekend testing out the Mercedes so I opened  up the panoramic sunroof  and let the fresh air in. It’s probably the closest I’d like to get to a soft top while still appreciating all that nature has to offer while driving!

Is It Fuel Efficient?

This is a big car, so I naturally thought I’d pay the price in fuel. Wrong! The information panel records how much you’ve used and relays it in a graph style and as you drive the information panel shows how much you’re using. I cruised along at 50 – 60 mph on the A roads & 70 mph on the motorway with an average fuel consumption of 80 mpg. You do see if dive down to the 30 mpg mark when knocking the accelerator into touch to get up steep hills and over taking but generally it sat at the 80 mark.  As a money savvy mum those stats made me smile.

And the bad……

Ok, I’ll level with you. I wanted to find a fault to make this a full and honest review so I dug deep and found it. Yes it, Just 1. There’s no rear wiper. For the best part of 2o minutes on the second day I tried every control and consulted the car manual to find where the bloody thing was. The back window needed clearing of morning dew and despite the large side mirrors giving me a clear view of what was behind, (which I noticed drop down when in reverse so you can a good view of everything around, so cool!)  I still wanted that window cleared.

Then I flicked on the rear demister and hey presto, problem solved! So no, there’s no bad points. I lied.

The Mercedes C-Class In A Nutshell

I’ll go as far to say that this has been one of the most enjoyable cars I’ve ever driven. It’s comfortable for all passengers, the drive is unbelievably smooth, it corners like a dream and it’ll get you out of trouble taking over the odd tractor or cyclist. Once behind the wheel you don’t feel like you’re driving a big car and with all the seat adjustments you can comfortably  manage long journeys with ease.

It looks good, it feels good and I felt safe. So would I suggest it as a family car?

Does a bear……….

Would I recommend the Mercedes C-Class as a family car? I tested it out over a long weekend with a toddler, tween and teenage. Find out how I got on.

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how did you choose you baby's name?

I’m always intrigued as to how people choose their children’s names, I put a huge amount of thought in my choice of baby boy names (which I always found harder than girls. Not great when you’ve had to do it 3 times!) Having such a traditional name myself, I always fancied something a little different, something which had a meaning and one they wouldn’t share with other children.

When pregnant with my first son, Jordi, I envisioned a surfy, cool dude. A kind of laid back, carefree sort of boy. So chose a name inspired by an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and cemented by a football player. (It was nearly 17 years ago, age really did define my choices)   .  Coupled with a middle name poached from my dad, he had the choice of a more conventional one should he so wish. It couldn’t have been more fitting as the hair grew longer and skateboarding and surfing became his love. Almost as if I’d glanced into the future.

how did you choose you baby boys name?

Then second time round I kept coming back to one of my all time favourites. A family name already belonging to an American relative. Completely unusual to the unknowing ear but utterly apparent to anyone who knew my grandmother’s maiden name. It was going to be Kynan and nothing else, a tribute to my mum’s family and following a tradition to share names with our relies across the pond. Again, I gave him a slightly more known middle name, this time with a nod to my dad’s middle name. I’d lost my maiden name so I felt I needed to keep a little of my dad somewhere.

how did you choose you baby boy name?

So I guess the million dollar question is “do my boys like their unusual names?” after all, they’re stuck with them. And the answer is yes and no. Fact of the matter is, no matter how hard you think things through you can never guarantee to getting it right. Years of having to answer to various names as teachers struggled to remember them, then loving the fact that they were the only ones in the school with those names.

Which takes me right up to where I was some 2 or so years ago, right back to choosing baby names. Do I go traditional this time being older and wiser? Or should I stick with the unconventional? I’ve started something I shouldn’t really stop. But that’s the most difficult thing when you’re choosing names 2nd, 3rd or what ever time around. Really you’ve got to keep going, siblings will find any reason to throw a ‘why did you do this to me’ stick about. I did it once or twice as I yearned to be called something more way-out, forever envious of the Psyche who sat mysteriously with her mysterious and unspellable name at the end the table in my media studies lessons. While I, Alison, sat within poking distance of Nicola, Marie and Brian.

But then I thought, it just as name, and as long as he can spell it, I can say it and my family don’t scoff at it. I’ll just go with something I like. Something which makes me smile when I say it out loud, a name which doesn’t define him and leaves the book open to follow what ever route into the world he should take.

My bonkers, happy little Ronnie.

So tell me, how did you choose your children’s names? Was it a joint decision, names in a hat or did you name them after someone famous? I was named after Ali McGraw, apparently.

Not too bad a namesake I guess.

How did you choose your boy names? Does a name really matter or define who they'll be? read how I chose mine

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this is for those parents who are wondering how technology can be a positive influence in their child's life. Pokemon Go has got my kids off their playstation and out of their bedrooms, read more here;

Just for the record, I’m in camp ‘yay!’ for Pokemon-Go.

Well, when I say I, I mean us. As in my teenager sons and I, the collective. You see back in the day of huge TV’s and Nokia 3310’s, Pokemon was a simple TV programme with a really cute but kick-ass yellow bunny thing. Let’s call him Pikachu, because that was (is?) his name and along with Buffy The Vampire Slayer and other TV shows which names escape me, I vaguely remember it being part of our viewing pleasure.

So I’m not completely in the dark with this whole Pokemon Go craze.

I didn’t pay much attention at first, not thinking for a moment my skateboarding teen would be interested. But in between teenager mumbles early this summer, I was sure I was picking up the word Pokemon.

Nah, must’ve been wrong, I thought.

But then I heard it again, and again and again. 4 strapping 16 years olds huddled round their phones at the kitchen table mumbling the words Pokemon Go. Then within the blink of an eye skateboards were located, trainer positions enquired and “we’re going out’s” uttered and they were gone.

For hours.

I’m my day, going out for hours involved mischief, often sitting around in parks, there would probably be alcohol and cigarettes, and more mischief. We were bored so we rebelled. I know not all teenagers my age did it, but I did.  (That’s my excuse and I’ll stick by it.)

So in defence to the man who claims that his boy won’t be allowed out Pokemon Go hunting and to his comments that my boy should be kicking a ball in a field somewhere. This is for you;

Technology is here to stay, the golden age of days spent kicking a ball in a field is here to stay. But when your boy is the only boy kicking a ball in a field while his mates are out Pokemon Go -ing. Embracing technology, having fun, challenging each other, discussing their finds and getting out of their insular bedrooms out in the fresh air. Then maybe, just maybe it’s time to admit that it’s not so bad after all.

Parenting is about sharing your child’s passions, showing an interest in what excites them and creating conversations which you know they’ll want to be part of. That’s not always an easy task with teenagers and tweens so you have to adapt to their worlds if you don’t want to be left to limited conversations.

So what if it’s via a mobile phone, that’s the way the world is moving and if Pokemon Go is the reason my boys are getting their kicks, so be it.

That’s my defence statement as a mum to 2 Pokemon Go hunting boys, who now speak to each other about their finds, the media has done a pretty good job or sharing all the horror stories so I’m sharing mine. And who knows, maybe if my washing pile suddenly becomes manageable and the dinner cooks it’s self then maybe, just maybe. I’ll join them.

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Do you have a favourite family photo?

I thought I’d pop this into a little blog post as its created a lot of interest over on my Instagram account. Every year, my sister and her children come to stay for our village regatta week. It’s a strange old week as the same faces return year after year, almost a Ground Hog Day-esk feel.

We have so many photos taken during this week. They go as far back to when I was a baby and most are usually taken on the beach, the centre point for the regatta.

So with the arrival of my last baby in 2014, we started staging a photograph of the grandkids sat in deckchairs, during regatta week, as a momento for our mum & dad.

( It’s not actually the first time we’ve done this as the top photo shows)

But what I love more than anything, and aside from the obvious physical changes, are the personalities which shine through. From the innocent childhood years, the completely unaware what’s going on years to the grumpy, I-really-don’t-want-to-do-this years.

Last year my eldest was dying of embarrassment and desperate to get away, it was a phase of really breaking free from the family ties in search of some teenage independence while I clung on with sheer determination. A battle of wills as we both navigated unchartered waters.

While my pre teen, although not hormonal enough to warrant an excuse for defiance was simply exhausted this stroppy, after a week of full on days with his cousins, his best friends who he didn’t want to be apart from for a single minute.

And the wriggly toddler who I watched like a hawk, hoping he wouldn’t break free and face plant on the pebbles. A start contrast to the sleepy newborn propped in the chair without a care in the world in 2014!

This year tells a completely different story. One of a teenager slowly coming back to the nest, happy to spend a few more minutes in his families presence and (hopefully) appreciating that we’re actually not that bad after all. The three amigos, my pre teen and my nephews. Rejoicing at their long overdue reunion and sharing a (probably rude or silly) joke.

And my niece, smiling for the camera now fully aware of the drill and picking up on the feel good vibe as the giggles rein out. Then there’s my baby, no longer propped up, a little unsure (he did join in with the smiles eventually) still a little unsure and most definitely plotting his escape.

But above all, these makes me smile as quite simply, it’s a happy place for us all where year after year, amazing memories are made all in one simple family photo.

Every year we take my children and their cousins down to the beach for our yearly family photo, we put them in the same order, the same setting and at the same time of the year. read more here;

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secretes to travelling with toddlers

I recently completed a journey which I was secretly dreading. It was one of those trips which had to be done just to prove to yourself it could be done.  And once the initial maiden voyage was over, it would be plain sailing from forth with.

What made my nerves even more nonsense was that I’d done this journey many times before, the exception being I had children, older children but never a toddler. An adventurous, lively toddler who loves to explore and investigate everything, a toddler who I knew would be beyond excited at doing something new, a toddler who hated to be confined and rarely sat still for more than 5 minutes .

That was the cause of my concerns.

So the very fact that we completed our little journey, Toddler, Tween and yours truly, in a spectacular and stress free manner has compelled me to share how we managed 6 trains over  7 hours on our return trip from Devon to Oxford. And share some tips we picked up along the way for anyone else considering travelling with toddlers.

secretes to travelling with toddlers


The key to my success was in the planning. I knew that to guarantee that Toddler slept for some of our journey, I booked a train that should in theory give me an hour until his nap. This meant that he could get all excitement out of his system not long after boarding and then after a little snack, would settle down to sleep. failing that, the iPad is genius for quiet time. I’m careful never to overuse it as it looses it’s appeal and is only ever brought out at as a last resort.

As we were only staying away for a few days, we made do with a wheeled rucksack. This was our saviour when navigating the platforms or walking down train aisles and was soft enough to pack into the luggage holds. And packing was a crucial part in the planning. My BabyMule changing bag is an absolute game changer for travelling. slung over my shoulders, leaving my hands free and having everything stored in the different compartments makes grabbing snacks and nappy changes simples.

 

I also made sure I had plenty of snacks, dinners and drinks for distracting any efforts to continually want to toddle around, as toddlers do. I chose snacks which would take a while to eat and hopefully not make too much of mess of clothes or the train floor, thus eliminating any further stress.  Think raisins, Little Dish GoGo’s 

To make getting on and off the train safe, I carried my toddler in a baby sling. This meant I had my hands free to carry my baby bag and suitcase. And reins are a must for more mobile toddlers. I take mine even when I’ve got the buggy as it keeps him close by while I’m collapsing it.

Any experienced parent, who’s learnt from experience,  will know that you can’t really travel anywhere without a few extra items in your parenting ammo, one of these being a few first aid items and while my mini break was hardly crossing that Amazon, the basics still applied. Along with an emergency packet of stickers, a small pot of distraction bubbles and a favourite teddy.

Mothercare parenting expert, Liz Day, recommends that when travelling, keep your child’s teddy bear safely in your hand luggage or an easily accessible bag so they are within reach to soothe and calm your tot if there are any upsets during the journey.

So now I’ve got my plan for successful travelling with toddlers I’m hoping to be a little more adventurous with our days out and short breaks. Watch this space!

secretes to travelling with toddlers

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This is a collaborative post 

 

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