Friday, 15 March 2019

Treads School Shoes Worn for 12 Months REVIEW

Treads boys' school shoes a year on

In a few days Aaron will have had his Treads lace up boys' school shoes a full 12 months. We haven't had to call on the 12 months guarantee once - we've just watched them last a full calendar year. Aaron is in Year 4 and we've never previously known school shoes like them! As per the tag on the pic below ours arrived on 19th March 2018. Yes it meant that September 2018, the start of the academic year, he didn't have brand new school shoes - which felt odd - but it was a relief to have 1 less expense to worry about when he needed other things. Like ALL the trousers for his rapidly growing long legs.

Let's start by saying I purchased the Tokyo Treads they are/were £45 and that includes free delivery. Tokyo Boys Black Leather Lace Up School Shoe.


    •  12 Month Indestructible Guarantee*
    •  Free UK Delivery
    •  Free Returns
    •  30 Day Satisfaction Guarantee

So I will take you through our full year 
from 1st impressions 
right up to the current day.

First Impressions

I used to be a Senior Manager in footwear and we were designers, manufacturers, importers, distributors, wholesalers and eventually also retailers, so I have seen the whole life cycle of a "shoe" - actually given that I managed the Customer Services Team I have also seen the returns/warranty/guarantee/recall side too. Despite my extensive experience I was not disappointed when our shoes arrived. I liked the packaging, the literature and the quality/design of the shoe itself. Nothing had been left to chance despite this being a new business. My first impression of the leather was that it was very like a safety shoe - something we also sold. This immediately gave me faith in their claims of being "indestructible"

With the experience of the box opening being such a success as pictured below, I had that feeling one gets when opening an Apple product for the 1st time, a feeling of faith that this is a brand that knows its eggs - the touch and feel of product and packaging is superior and you breathe a sigh of relief that you're onto a good thing! If you've ever experienced perishable school shoes you'll know what a FIND this is!!! Seeing the sole broken down in the illustration below made me smile with nostalgia as before my previous employer I hadn't seen a brand do that, but then again before that job I'd never worked in footwear before so what do I know LOL.

As you will see in the pictures the shoes have some height to them and this most certainly gave Aaron a ...

Spring in His Step

I literally can't express to you enough how much Aaron liked the sense of height and bounce the thickness of this shoe sole gave him. The only way to truly get this across to you is to ask that you watch this Instagram video below:

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My Circus ๐Ÿคน‍♀️๐ŸŽก My monkey๐Ÿ’ Watch with the sound on ๐Ÿ“ฃ& it will all make sense. So Reception, Year 1 & Year 2 for school shoes we didn't really give any thought to "buy cheap buy twice"๐Ÿ˜ถ but 3 years in & finally the penny dropped๐Ÿ’ฐ. This year we paid the big bucks, but despite the price tag & my aim they'd last till July, the sole on the ball of Aaron's feet is about to give up the ghost๐Ÿ‘ป. Although it is the 1st time since age 4, the uppers are looking so good beyond Christmas. It was time to try an indestructible school shoe with a 12 month guarantee✔๐Ÿ’ฏ. We've certainly put Treads Shoes to the test☃️❄๐Ÿฅ…๐Ÿƒ‍♂️๐Ÿ•บ๐Ÿ‹️‍♂️ & we're both very thrilled so far๐Ÿ†. So much so, Aaron now doesn't want to wear the others out to be bin worthy & will only wear his new Treads. I was a Senior Manager in footwear import & distribution for 6 years so even with the extensive knowledge I have I can honestly say ๐Ÿ—ฃ I am thrilled with these shoes๐Ÿ‘ž๐Ÿ˜. The sheen is like you would see on safety footwear, but they too can withstand a lot of "big boy" wear & tear ๐Ÿ”ฉ๐Ÿ”ง. As a Mum I would definitely say these are BUILT FOR BOYS! ๐Ÿ’ช๐ŸŽฏ๐Ÿคน‍♂️๐Ÿคธ‍♀️ #NotAnAd #SchoolShoes #BoysShoes #Parenting #SchoolMum #SchoolMom #MumsOfInstagram #MotherhoodRising #MyCircus #MyCheekyMonkey #MyHappyCapture #LifeCloseUp #InstaVideo #InstaVideos #InstaMum #Vlogger #Youtuber #UKParentBlogger #ParentYouTuber #OutdoorsAndHappy #BoyMum #BoyMom #TreadsShoes @treadsofficial
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The thing I was instantly impressed with after the unboxing was that Aaron did not need to wear them in. No rubbing. No blisters. Simply comfortable immediately. I didn't think this would translate to activities but in the video above you can see how busy he got immediately, which actually brings me onto another point. Whenever there's good weather we're in the park everyday after school and not for short spells either - we're often known to be there 3 hours and Aaron does not change into trainers. Add to this we walk to and from school and the shoes have certainly been thoroughly put through their paces forgive the pun LOL!



Literally the only quality concern I have is regarding the laces, so not actually the shoes themselves. They perished as pictured within a matter of weeks. I put this down to teething problems what with the product/brand being new.

What actually happened was the thickness and sheeny texture of them prevents them being tied really tight which meant that not only did they come undone, but then when Aaron then tripped on them the bottom snapped off and it looked rather unsightly for new shoes as photographed. 

Now I can't compare this to his previous 6 pairs of Next school shoes (yep reception, year 1 and year 2 we had to get 2 pairs of school shoes per school year September and January each year) and 1 pair of Clarks' school shoes in September of year 3 before we discovered Treads in the March of 2018 as all of those were velcro fastening. It really is true what they say though about buy cheap buy twice and his Next shoe shoes were considerably cheaper than Clarks. I think Treads are unquestionably affordable for what you get in return.

What I do know is that Treads did send me out new laces in the post, in fact I got a pair via Royal Mail and a pair via courier as 2 staff members acted upon my request, which was lucky as we did by the time the year was up get to the 3rd pair. Now interestingly enough, if you read the guarantee above, you'll see laces are not covered so it was a gesture of goodwill that they sent them on to me and didn't ask me to cover postage which now I see it's not covered I am grateful for. It's these little touches that foster brand loyalty and encourages me to write this review without question.

The only other concern is the orange removable insole once the shoes are a few months old keeps moving to the point where when we'd collect Aaron it would be protruding outside his shoe and have to be re-positioned every morning. It's only now as I type this and see the literature once again that I realise what with it being a removable insole we could just you know..... remove it LOL. I guess as parents we liked him having that extra layer of comfort underfoot. Overall it's a big thumbs up from us as there's nothing Aaron can't do in these shoes.

What Do They Look Like a Year On?

I know the majority of the reviews online are unboxing style reviews from bloggers who've not long had the Treads, so I know that means you'll be wanting to know what ours look like a year on. Now bearing in mind, I don't have a little Johnny who hops into a car on the drive every morning. Aaron mostly (apart from the rare days Daddy's rota allows) walks to and from school often walking  upwards of 10 miles a week. He is also heavy on shoes in the sense that he is an extremely active boy who is never still and as I've said above wears them in the park after school. I think the shoes look great all things considered and you have to also consider they've survived a year March 2018 to March 2019 I am not talking about an academic year here September to July. For 3 years our Next school shoes would last September to January and then January to July. It was only in year 3 when we got Clarks did they last till March but we paid extra for that fact and they didn't look as good after 6.5 months as these treads do after 12 months.

I'd say the scuffing and cracking of the toe area below says more about Aaron climbing up walls than it does about the Treads shoes themselves. The protective coating on the toe area does withstand a LOT of wear and tear - I think it just met its match in Aaron. But like I say  below they've only VERY recently got in THIS state. Read more about the Treads returns policy here.

So this is the Treads front on so that you can see that the protective covering started to crack on the front - I must stress this has only happened very recently.

This is the rear of the Treads to show how very little the heel area has worn down a testimony to the robustness of the materials used in the makeup of the sole. This is all to do with the quality of the rubber and how it withstands abrasion.

This is the Treads side on so that you can see the laces really are the weakest link with this otherwise superior product. 

Simply the other side.

The soles of the Treads. Yes there are some bald patches but they've walked hundreds of miles and there are no holes which we've often had in school shoes before discovering Treads.

What is also amazing... the inner heel fabric lining that surrounds your Achilles heel below your ankle is intact and you'll know as parents how quick this often is to wear through. No.... it is still intact after what is days away from 12 months. Yes he didn't wear them for the 6 weeks' school Summer holidays but other than that and regular school holidays it's 12 months wear and tear.


What Tread says about the Tokyo school shoe that we purchased

About the Tokyo Boys Black Leather Lace-up School Shoe

Designed and built for active boys. Hand crafted using the finest of components; an additional protection on the toe offers additional durability, and the soft padded ankle gives all day comfort support. Made with Permair leather that is soft enough to allow easy flexible movement, offering unrivalled comfort and engineered to cope with the rigours of the school yard. The sole is tough and strong but also flexible and lightweight. Teamed with durable ‘dual fit’ technology and subtle stitching finishes off the look.

“Strobel construction”

Treads are constructed using a “strobel” technique where the upper is placed into a mould and the sole is then injected around it creating one unit without the need for any gluing. This not only creates a really strong bond but offers additional flexibility, perfect for active kids.

12 Month Indestructible Guarantee*

Our 12 month indestructible guarantee is an expression of our confidence in the material and workmanship of our shoes. If the shoe you buy falls short of these high standards, you may return it to us within 12 months from the day of purchase. (see returns & exchanges for further information).
Don't forget Treads now make school shoes for girls too.

This corporate video will explain a lot of the features and benefits.


Full Disclosure: I purchased my Treads shoes, they were not sent to me to review - I did however receive compensation for the below tweet (my Instagram video was just for fun and was not an ad or directed/paid for by the brand in any way):

Friday, 1 February 2019

Keeping Calm Over the Holidays

Hands holding Heart decoration alongside Santa hat

The holidays are an exciting time, full of wonder and magic, Christmas songs and yuletide spirit. It’s also a time that plenty of people experience stress, whether it’s about money, people, workload or simply how you are planning to get everyone around the dinner table. It can quickly sour the Christmas spirit and put plenty of parents off enjoying this special holiday. Especially when so much effort goes into it and after one day, it’s all over, with what seems like a mountain of rubbish as the only thing left over.

If you are someone that feels your blood-pressure rising, as I regularly do, at simply the mention of Christmas time, consider these tips for keeping calm over the festive holidays.

Avoid the Christmas Crush

Shopping at Christmas time is one of the hardest ways to spend your day, not only are the crowds densely packed in the hope of a festive bargain but lots of people tend to lose their heads while out over the season. Between pushing and shoving and shoppers treating unsuspecting retail workers with a terrible lack of respect, it can put you off ever stepping out of your house in the month of December.

If you enjoy the shopping experience, don’t trust the post or simply need to get out of the house to get the essentials sorted, Google has put together a fantastic tool that lets you see when a specific shop, shopping centre or supermarket is at it’s most busy. If you aren’t able to check the tool, early weekday mornings are always a safe bet before the lunchtime rush or if you are lucky enough to have a 24-hour supermarket or shopping mall near you, very early morning, between 1am – 5am is usually desolate of shoppers. Meaning you can avoid the lines and shop carefree to your hearts content. 

Travel Early or Late After Christmas

If you’ve ever tried to get around anywhere on Christmas Eve or Boxing Day or on the day before or after any special event, you know that travel can be more hassle than it’s worth. Rather than plan to travel on the days either side of Christmas, try to plan your travel further in advance and avoid weekends where possible as these will always be busy, whether using rail, road or air. If you plan and book your travel in advance, you may also be able to save money on your travel tickets by getting advance tickets, this can be a considerable difference and give you a little more to spend in the shops on someone special. 

Your time has value, so avoid getting stuck in the rush hour traffic queues and last-minute cancelled trains and spend less time travelling and more time relaxing this Christmas time.

Move Your Family Christmas

While traditionally Christmas is celebrated on the 25th December, it is up to your family when to gather around, share stories of the year and exchange gifts with each other. If work schedules are not lining up or you know you can’t face the last-minute travel or stressed guests, consider holding your family Christmas on another day between 25th until the 1st January or even before 25th December! The freedom of celebrating a holiday is completely up to you and everyone deserves to enjoy the holiday so consider holding your Christmas day later on and beat the traffic, Christmas crowds and usual stress that goes with the holiday.

Give Back This Christmas

Feeling the stress already? Want to make yourself feel better? Why not use the giving part of Christmas to give something back? Whether it’s to your community or a specific charity, it’s been proven that generosity, volunteering and showing kindness to each other can make us feel happier. Not only our own good moods, we also have the fantastic benefit of showing someone kindness that may have had a hard year and making their Christmas a joyful time. 

Christmas is only one day and while the season is an exciting one, there’s no need to stress year after year over the “perfect Christmas”. Instead, focus on getting together with those you care about, supporting people in need and reaching to others in your community that might not have any one else. You’ll find that your stress levels reduce when you aren’t focused on getting everything “just right” and just place attention on enjoying yourself.

Christmas doesn't have to look like this:
Collaborative post

Monday, 10 December 2018

Spectacle of Light Sudeley Castle 2018 REVIEW

Where What When?

We were invited to Sudeley Castle & Gardens Spectacle of Light situated on the outskirts of Winchcombe in the Cotswolds, between Cheltenham and Broadway - an hour's drive for us from our house in Bristol. Winchcombe is so very pretty this is a Cotswolds' town that hasn't held back on tasteful exquisite Christmas lights displayed beautifully on both commercial high street properties and residential homes alike. So leave for Sudeley Castle in good time (we arrived 20 minutes early) so that you can drive through this village slowly to fully appreciate it. What a lovely build up to the main "spectacle" itself.

We attended on the launch night Saturday 8th December for the 7pm session. I've not been to anything like this before so based my expectations on the YouTube videos I quickly watched. The night of course way surpassed our expectations, as this is a spectacle after all and spectacular things have to be seen with one's own eyes in real life, to be truly believed.

Night Photography

The only problem with magnificent sights is trying to capture what you see with your eyes to match what you see on screen when you take a photograph in limited natural light, night sky conditions.  My Sony Cybershot soon made it known to me that it couldn't cope with the night sky along with the glare of the decorative lights, so I resorted to using my Samsung Galaxy S6 phone camera. I did then capture a couple of pics I was happy with. I will say though that my friend Aleks outdid herself with her photography on the night so the majority of the pics here are hers - I'll let you know when they're not. My favourite postcard style pic of hers is this first one as I love the contrast of the foreground and the background. However when you're a parent of course favourite pics are reserved for the ones that capture magical moments with your kids in so these feature too.

What's a Bouquet?

I think the very first thing we came to on the trail after leaving real life Alice and her little pop up shop, was a wishing tree. You write a wish on a piece of paper which has glass on the back and then knot it on a tree. They all jingle against each other in the wind like wind chimes. I didn't capture a picture here. Whilst I was feeling quite moved by this and found it incredibly touching, Aaron being an 8 year old boy decided to CLIMB THE TREE> yes I moved swiftly on before we were thrown out by security. In some ways I am glad it happened as the speaking to I then gave him, set the tone, and meant his behaviour was better for the remainder of our visit. We only had to speak to them twice *face palms* about staying within the ropes that lay out the official pathway of the trail. Okay I digress....

Back to what is a bouquet which is the question I asked Aleks on the night..... despite being a blogger since 2008 I've never owned a DSLR so was clueless till now. Now I am at a computer and can research, it turns out it is actually what is a BOKEH? Well all I know is that after the Wishing Tree and before the White Rabbit there is a lit up tree with balls that rotate in colour and then go to darkness before the cycle goes on again. Aleks positioned tripod and kids and it seemed everytime a pic was taken it was at the point where the illumination momentarily darkened but somehow she caught this BOKEH magic below.

It was too much to expect so early on in the trail that our boys who could sense an adventure was ahead, would actually pose and stand still for this picture opportunity.

Bokeh for Boys

As if we'd leave them out :-)

Follow the White Rabbit along the new illuminated trail!

There is an Alice in Wonderland theme this year which works really well and literally transported our kids to another world so much so that Aaron made me put the DVD on the minute we got home, so it was a very late night for us but he was still up by 9 am Sunday with Lottie serving as an alarm clock for us all. 

Sudeley Castle themselves say "a wonderful experience for all ages" and that literally couldn't be more accurate. My son at 8 years of age going on 10, along with his very like minded friend loved it as much or more than their two Sisters aged 2 and 4 (who will be 3 and 5 in January). All 4 are very outdoorsie kids so this was a real treat for them. We were blessed that apart from a few sprinkles the rain largely held off and it was quite mild too so I didn't feel the need for gloves scarves and hat at any point despite us being there for over 2 hours.

Early on in the trail there is a bit where Alice is talking to the cat, and it's an illuminated projected slideshow that changes the cat in the tree from having a cheshire smile and only a smile to being a normal curled up cat. You can hear Alice's voice and this mesmerised the kids for quite some time. This is quite true to the story, so well done Sudeley Castle and Spectacle of Light:

The Cheshire Cat appears in a tree, directing her to the March Hare's house. He disappears but his grin remains behind to float on its own in the air prompting Alice to remark that she has often seen a cat without a grin but never a grin without a cat. Source: Alice in Wonderland Wikipedia

The kids being engaged means there's plenty of time for adults to take photos and it also means they don't run too far ahead with me worrying they will get lost. They were never more than 10 or 20 metres ahead as they'd always stopped to look at something fascinating up ahead. It also helped that all 4 of them had a light toy each as they quite often got busy with these. I must say I have bought many of these type toys over the years but these were superior quality to anything I've had in the past so I didn't at all resent spending the fiver. Daddy was very impressed too with the quality and commented unprompted.

Neither of our girls had buggies with them but the whole route is buggy friendly and there were just a couple of times throughout with a few steps. There are also circa 15 staff members scattered throughout to answer any questions you may have. They are non intrusive (no tacky high vis here) and just steer you on your way only when needed.

The white rabbit and clocks below are very early on in the trail to set the theme firmly in your mind and even before that there is a cabin with a real human Alice in Wonderland herself selling illuminated light toys. This is simply because you may not enter the shop as you enter the trail. We'd already bought ours in the shop for 5GBP each though as I had to pop in to confirm that I was on the guest list. Alice in Wonderland who is positioned just after the entrance let us into the cabin just behind her to get photos with King Henry the VIII. My photos aren't great but we did have fun there.

If you're anything like me, the minute you hear the Salvation Army playing Christmas music you feel very festive. They were positioned at the very start of the trail and opened our hearts for what was to come.

When you see Alice and Humpty Dumpty below, in front of you, know that you are very near the refreshments. There is a stall on this terrace selling hot drinks and donuts. This is where we grabbed hot chocolates for 3GBP each.

The Moon

Shortly after seeing the White Rabbit and clocks there is a semi circle on the water, which when the reflection is added, looks like a full moon. This had to be my favourite picture on Instagram when I was browsing the Spectacle of Light hashtag. Trying to actually capture it on camera though is another thing but Aleks olczia1 on Instagram managed it in style:


Can someone assist? What are these flowers below? I know they are lights but what flower are they based on? I was fixated by them and took many a picture of them, from both sides (you see them twice in the trail and the second rear view is superior). Once again it is a photo from Aleks which translates the magic to screen. I think she once again set up the tripod for this shot and I know that she had more than 1 lens with her. 


3 minute Light Show with Music and Water

When we arrived at the location of the 3 minute musical light show, the girls shared some chocolate coins, which was very sweet. I videoed the whole of this but haven't had chance to edit ANY of my footage yet but did share some on Instagram stories at the time. This is a very magical part of the trail and is a surprise as it is not mentioned on the website or on any of the literature. It's truly magical.

Mad Hatter: "Have you seen Alice?"

So just after we watched the light display, a staff member very politely approached us to let us know we were only a third of the way round. We then knew we needed to pick up the pace as the website says you can do it in 60-75 minutes and it took us over 2 hours in total. The Mad Hatter was clearly sent back to catch us, but Moa Myerson is SUCH a good actress that she did so IN CHARACTER and such are the confidence levels of our 4 children they responded as such and what unfolded would have made a stage play of its very own. I haven't laughed so much in a long time and the Mad Hatter did justice to the nonsense of the literary talk in the story itself. "That way is nowhere and that way is everywhere" oh it got so very confusing. And EVERYBODY wanted to be Alice. I shared it all in Instagram stories at the time but they've since expired.

“Cat: Where are you going?
Alice: Which way should I go?
Cat: That depends on where you are going.
Alice: I don’t know.
Cat: Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

A picture I actually took myself - NewMumOnline

I ACTUALLY took this one with my phone and what with the castle in the background and the spotlight ON The Mad Hatter I am very proud of it - it's on Instagram naturally. Well done Samsung Galaxy S6 phone camera.
 We've sent this one to Moa herself. Well done Aleks she loves this photo:

This is only a pic taken on my phone but had to include it as I love the way Sophie is looking over
 Back to stunning pics from Aleks:

Instagram Worthy

Every venue/event worth its salt has a selfie opportunity available and this is the Spectacle of Light Sudeley Castle one. Getting 4 kids on there was no mean feat and probably isn't allowed. I only took this on my phone so it won't win any photo awards but this pic below and the one I took of the Mad Hatter in the spotlight are my two winners that I will hold onto from the night whilst also enjoying the breath taking memories Aleks has captured for our photo albums. When the memories fade the photos won't. But that aside I don't think the kids will be forgetting this night out anytime soon and the Mad Hatter was certainly a huge highlight. All 4 of the kids just ADORED her. 

Although Aleks didn't take this heart selfie pic below, she totally stage managed getting the kids up there. First of all the boys wouldn't make room for the girls. Then we worked around their feet and then the girls decided they weren't sharing the limited space. It was funny rather than frustrating and this photo is one of my favourites despite its poor quality in terms of sharpness etc....

I'll sign off now but leave you with some more picture postcards below from Aleks.

Our entrance was covered free of charge as we were invited to review the Spectacle of Light. I was gifted the experience in return for social shares but decided it was too good not to blog about and such did we love it I have already done 2 Instagram posts and will do more. I have not at all been told what to say and this whole gushing about how good it was is totally my idea and all my own words except where quotes are clear. Official Spectacle of Light information below, but go to their website for the freshest most up to date info: 

8-9 December, 13-23 December, 27-30 December 2018
Each evening the Spectacle is a continuous experience with five entry time slots from 5:00pm onwards. This is designed to ensure that everyone is able to enjoy the Spectacle in the best possible light.
When you book you can decide your time of entry subject to availability. It should be stressed that you must be at the entrance at the chosen time as tickets are only valid for that time and are not transferable.
A typical walk will take approximately 60 -75 minutes, although if you wish to stay longer you are very welcome.

Advance Tickets*

On The Day Tickets**

Adult 16+ £15.75Adult 16+ £17.50
Child 3-15 £9.90Child 3-15 £11.00
Family 2+2 £44.55Family 2+2 £49.50
Under 3’s FreeUnder 3’s Free
Disability Carer FreeDisability Carer Free

*10% Discounted Advance Tickets are only bookable online, by phone or in person through the Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham.
**Full Price ‘On the Day’ Tickets are only bookable in person from Sudeley Castle Visitor Centre from 4.00pm on the day.



Advance Tickets are available to buy online now, by phone on 01242 705555 or in person at the Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham.
Sudeley Members receive a 30% discount with the appropriate code.
ON THE DAY tickets will be available for shows currently listed as Sold Out