Little Tikes are brilliant.
I'm going to start off by saying that I want to make it perfectly clear that the few problems we had installing one of their swings were absolutely nothing to do with them.
Well, they were, but they weren't to blame in a bad way.
It's a bit like saying that you're really irritated by the fact that you can't run more than a 5 minute mile anymore when you're about to celebrate your 127th birthday.
Understand? No? Let me start at the beginning.
Harry, my 4 year old, loves swings.
He loves the look of them, he loves playgrounds they are in, he loves the feel of them and most of all he loves the essence they have; that of swinginess.
Caitlin is the same, only probably more so.
The only way I'd imagine you could make her like swings more is if you said that at night, when everyone was in bed, they turned into chocolate and all the dolls of the world travelled from miles around to have a swing in them.
That would make it perfect as far as she's concerned.
Tom, my 7 year old, quite likes them, and would probably like them a lot more if so much of his brain wasn't given over to questions about which Skylander would stand victorious in a duel on top of the Empire State Building.
Such wonderings take up a lot of his time so we'll leave him out of this.
It started when we found ourselves standing in the front garden of our new-ish house contemplating what to do with all the space when it suddenly became clear.
It was Harry's birthday soon and we would flatten the front, dig up that Magnolia and give it to Jen and implant a lovely, swingy swing.
We had a search on the web, and pretty much immediately decided that Little Tikes held our best interests at heart and set about measuring, searching, and generally, you know, investigating swings.
We came to the conclusion that the Little Tikes Milano Single Swing was the best option for us.
It looked fantastic, the girl in the picture seemed to be happy and we knew, from past acquaintance, that Little Tikes could be relied upon to deliver a safe, durable and well-made piece of equipment.
Nothing could go wrong.
After only a little research we managed to find a few suppliers who sold the swing at just over £100.
There were cheaper ones out there but we wanted wood and we wanted sturdy.
Harry is as wiry as a terrier and comes in at just over the average weight of a tangerine but Caitlin is another matter.
She's lost weight recently as a growth spurt has kicked in but at other times, usually when in my arms, I still wonder whether she might not actually be twins and we just haven't spotted it yet.
Also, Tom is one of those 'big for his age' lads and he might, theoretically, one day, want to do something other than just shout at me because I insist on calling Gill Grunt by the unforgiveable name of Gillian (this is all Skylander talk if it means nothing to you).
The Little Tikes Milano Swing Set is suitable for ages 3 to 8 and carries up to 45 Kg, which is a huge 7 stone. Perfect!
I spent an entire weekend flattening, weeding, de-stoning, rolling, raking, covering, stapling, barking the front of our house only to notice, at a relatively late stage, that the Milano had a base of 2270mm by 1490 mm.
This was our problem as this was (only just, but it was) slightly larger than the space we had out front.
Although this was initially slightly vexing I'll take some time to explain why this was in fact quite a good thing.
There are swings with a smaller base, where the vertical props are closer together, all of which means that they would presumably fit into our front space. (Have you noticed how my 'front garden' has turned into my 'front space'?).
But - and it is a big but, as all the best ones are - the larger the base and the more stable the swing.
Narrower swings can have a tendency to wobble, especially if the props are not wooden.
The Little Tikes Milano Swing is, as I have said, solid and you get the feeling that you could push your kid pretty much over the bar before the structure even started to show a flicker of emotion.
If this isn't enough, the set comes with an Anchor Kit that you can set into concrete to make the whole thing damn near immoveable.
So, where is it? In the back garden taking up pretty much all of our rather preposterously named 'lawn'.
Not far from our Little Tikes Log Cabin , in fact!
We've not put the anchors in yet as we are in the process of deciding what we're going to do in regards to 'moving things around' which is my partner's euphemistic phrase for me spending the next four weekends re-designing our entire back garden.
We could, I suppose, get rid of the swing.
The problem with this is that Harry and Caitlin have already seen it and already used it and already love, love, love it.
When we started thinking about this we thought we wanted a swing that would not take up much space and that would not look too conspicuous.
The problems with that sort of swing is that it would also probably need to be flimsy and thin and made of metal.
We didn't want that, we wanted something nice looking, safe as houses and which would grant us years and years of durable fun.
The Little Tikes Milano Single Swing fits all those criteria and then some, offering warranties on both the wood and the bolts and brackets which hold it all together.
It's a fantastic swing and I'm confident it'll be a feature in our garden for a long, long time to come.
And besides, trust me, the front 'space' looks much tidier without that magnolia bush!
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