5 Fun Things Happening In London This Summer

Hahahopscotch

School’s out for summer! (OK, if you live north of the border, it’s been out for quite a while now…) But it’s time to plan some fun, get out there and enjoy this gorgeous sunny weather we’re getting. There are LOADS of cool things happening in London this summer. It’s a time of year when I feel so lucky we live here. But whether you’re a local or you’re planning a trip to the capital this summer, here are my top five things you should do…

1. Hahahopscotch

What do you get if you cross unusual cocktails with locally grown herbs and flowers… with green-fingered fun for kids? Hahahopscotch at the Brunel Museum! This awesome-sounding event happens on the last Sunday of the month and while the kids get stuck into some soil and play traditional games like tug-of-war, you can get stuck into some infused cocktails.

Brunel Museum, Railway Avenue, SE16

27th July, 31st Aug, 28th September 2014

£4.50 per child

2. The Elephantom

This show is by the team behind Warhorse and it looks fantastic. It tells the story of a young girl who has a phantom elephant in her house, and it causes all sorts of trouble…

New London Theatre, Drury Lane WC2B

Until September 6th 2014

Tickets start from £13

Camden beach

3. Camden Beach

Hang on, back up  - what? Yep, Camden has got its very own beach – on the roof of the Roundhouse. There are deckchairs, bars, food stalls, beach huts and a swimming pool. Kids are welcome, but after 5pm it might be a bit ‘lively’ for families.

The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm Road, NW1

July 26th – Aug 23rd 2014

Entry: Free Continue reading

Bluestone National Park Review: We Loved It!

Bluestone Wales review

If you’re looking for a fun, relaxed UK family break, Bluestone National Park in Wales should be right up there on your list. Set in the Pembrokeshire countryside, Bluestone is a huge resort with eco-friendly wooden lodges surrounding a small ‘village’ area with shops, places to eat, spa and a play area. A short walk away is a huge activity centre and a leisure centre style swimming pool. We recently spent four nights there and we loved every minute.

Why it’s amazing, in a nutshell

Bluestone National Park offers something for families with kids of all ages – so whatever stage your family is at, there’s loads to do. For younger kids (like our three-year-old) there’s the outdoor play area, soft play zones in the Adventure Centre and activities like messy play and puppet making. For older kids, there’s archery, climbing walls, a tree-top obstacle course and a 40ft zip wire and kayaking. For all ages, there’s the swimming pool with flumes and a fun toddler area. It’s beautiful to walk around, with wild flowers and forest paths and there’s a big selection of eating places. Oh and it has a fab spa to relax in too.

arriving-bluestone-wales

What’s the accommodation like?

The lodges are all modern and clean – our Caldey Lodge was semi-detached (with an adjoining door which would be handy if you knew the family next door) and had an open plan kitchen/living/dining area with patio doors that opened out onto a paved and grassy area with a wooden picnic table. We had a bathroom (with bath, although not all lodges have them, so if you have a baby or toddler to bathe, be sure to ask for a bathroom) and two bedrooms. It was the perfect base for our holiday – lots of room to do jigsaws and play, comfy leather sofas to snuggle on watching CBeebies before bed, and a great space for cooking and eating. The decor is all a bit beige and safe, but suited the wooden eco lodges. Continue reading

Work.Life.Mum: Mr & Mrs Smith’s Juliet Kinsman

Juliet Kinsman, Smith Hotels

Juliet Kinsman is Editor-in-Chief of Mr and Mrs Smith – the travel company which handpicks the most stylish places to stay, around the world. As well as being an expert in luxury travel, Juliet is Mum to six-year-old Kitty and lives in North West London with her partner. The recently-launched Smith & Family is the go-to place for perfect family hotels, with a child-friendly attitude and grown-up features alike.

Which, for someone who is as posh-hotel-obsessed as I am, is the most exciting thing ever. Being the typical Mr & Mrs Smith customer during my 20s (tripping off to Babington House of a weekend or arranging my hen do at Calcot Manor) I now can’t wait to try out the hotels recommended by Smith & Family.

In the first of a new series of Work.Life.Mum interviews with inspiring women, I caught up with Juliet for a chat about her own travels, how she balances work and life and (naturally) to get some travel tips from her…

Juliet Kinsman and daughter Kitty

Continue reading

50 Things To Do In London Before You’re 5

50 fun things to do with an under 5 in London

London is awash with places to take the kiddos – whether it’s raining and you need to entertain them undercover or it’s a glorious sunny day and you can take advantage of the city’s outdoor spaces, there’s plenty of choice of things to do with a toddler in London. And when you’re under 5, there’s SO MUCH FUN to be had. Some of it costs money, some of it is free. Here are my favourite 50 things to do with young kids in London… how many have you ticked off so far? *points finger* things to do with a baby in London

  1. London Zoo is an awesome day out. Under 3s get in for free and for kids older than that, it’s £17.50 a ticket. So not the cheapest day out, but you can make a proper day of it, take a packed lunch to save money there and enjoy seeing the lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Afterwards, walk through Regent’s Park – it’s huge and beautiful.
  2. The Southbank Centre on the, er, Southbank of the Thames (near Waterloo) has loads of family events and shows on from storytelling for under 5s to dance and music events. Check their listings and book to see something fun. There are plenty of family friendly restaurants nearby from Wagamama to Giraffe.
  3. Frozen Sing-a-long at Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square. Yes, you heard me right. This independent cinema in central London is doing matinee screenings and fancy dress is essential. *warbles Let It Go*
  4. Get on a red double decker bus and ride past the sights (The No11 bus from Liverpool Street drives past loads of famous landmarks like St Paul’s Cathedral, Big Ben and Nelson’s Column for less cost than a tourist bus ticket.)
  5. The Discover Centre is one of my personal favourites in London. A five minute walk from Stratford station (and Westfield) it has indoor play areas, storytelling rooms (pre-book tickets when you arrive) and craft sessions. It’s always been raining when we’ve visited, but the outdoor play area looks awesome too.
  6. Centre For Wildlife Gardening in Peckham has a great nature trail and runs kids’ gardening sessions where they can learn about the natural world. In the middle of town. Cool.
  7. Make pirate biscuits or monster cupcakes at baking classes for tots run in East London by BKD. Adelle, who runs the classes, is brilliant with kids (she has a two-year-old herself who helped out at the class we went to.)
  8. Watch classical music aimed at 3-8 year olds and do music related activities and crafts at Crash, Bang, Wallop at Cadogan Hall, Chelsea.
  9. The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park looks fantastic and is on our To-Do list. There’s the Tumbling Bay Playground and fun activities like kids’ Zumba classes.
  10. Hire a pedalo in Regent’s Park (be ready to do most of the pedalling!)
  11. There are a few farms in London – Hackney City Farm is a great one. As well as the usual animals, they offer pottery painting sessions and mosaic making. Don’t leave without buying some fresh eggs!
  12. See a puppet show at the Little Angel Theatre, Islington.
  13. The Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens is a joy. You can only enter if you’ve got a child (they have security on the gate) and once you’re in, there are lots of places to explore, play areas and a giant pirate ship to climb over.
  14. Ice skating doesn’t have to be a festive activity – head to Alexandra Palace in north London and have a family skating session all year round.
  15. Paint a plate at Biscuit Ceramic Cafe in Greenwich.
  16. We haven’t been to Coram’s Fields but it’s up there on my ‘must do’ list. Seven acres in the middle of London, it has a farm and play areas galore.
  17. The Southbank doesn’t just have a Centre, it also has cool stuff like a carousel, entertainers making giant bubbles and in summer months, there are water fountains to run through. Hours. Of. Fun.
  18. Buy some seriously amazing ice cream at Scoop in Covent Garden.
  19. Museums aren’t always my first choice for family fun (too many memories of boring school trips) but the Science Museum is something else. Check out the Garden Gallery where under 5s can play with sound, light, contraction and water (take a change of clothes – they might get wet!)
  20. The Unicorn Theatre near London Bridge regularly has kids’ shows on but it also has the Up Club every Saturday between 12pm and 1.30pm, where kids can do activities like rocket building and cake decorating. No need to book.
  21. Another museum I’d recommend – the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden is great for any bus-obsessed child (that’s all of them at some point, right?) and you can visit Shake Shack afterwards for a cheeky burger.
  22. Feed the ducks in St James’ Park. Quack.
  23. If you fancy a boogie, Big Fish Little Fish family raves are fantastic and happen all over the capital, from Hackney to Crouch End to Balham (my favourite venue). Proper DJs play music you’ll love and remember from your youth, while the kids bop away with glow sticks, munch on healthy snacks and make stuff in the craft room.
  24. For a visit to an aquarium that won’t break the bank (*looks at London Aquarium’s ticket prices and faints*) then the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill is brilliant. Small, but perfectly formed, the aquarium is downstairs from lots of cool exhibitions and a great cafe (eat early if you want to find a free table or high chair). The grounds are fun to explore too, with giant musical instruments and space to RUN.
  25. Wimbledon’s Polka Theatre is a theatre that just shows performances for kids, but they also have a drop-in play area and cafe which you can visit at any time.
  26. Take a boat to Greenwich and see the Cutty Sark. Big boat! Ooh. They regularly have family fun sessions where you can make captain’s hats and the like.
  27. Wander along the Regent’s Canal Path and look at the canal boats on the water. Or better still, go on a water bus barge that will take you from Little Venice to Camden.
  28. Go to Buckingham Palace at 11.30am and watch the Changing Of The Guard. Go at another time of the day and stand outside, counting the windows. Bonus points if you see Queenie waving from one of them!
  29. The treetop walk at Kew Gardens is supposed to be pretty cool and if your kiddo’s a bit scared of heights, there are indoor and outdoor play areas to keep them happy. (The Orangery Restaurant serves Peyton and Byrne food so you’ll be kept happy too…)
  30. Making puppets and designing t-shirts are just two of the things on offer at the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green. Sounds like a great day out, to me.
  31. One of our favourite things to do, on a weekend is visit Brockwell Park in Herne Hill. They have a kick-ass play area with loads of slides, swings, sand pits, a zip wire, climbing frames, cubby holes and more. There’s also a lido and posh cafe which serves the best boiled egg and soldiers.
  32. Have a mid afternoon wine while your little one plays in the garden of The Paxton pub in Gipsy Hill. They have a fab child-friendly menu too.
  33. Watch street performers in Trafalgar Square, then mooch up to Covent Garden to watch some more. Take coppers for your little one to throw in their hat.
  34. For a brilliant Sunday afternoon family show, hit The Albany in Deptford. Dance shows, puppetry – it’s all going on. Sign up to their mailing list for advance notice of what’s on.
  35. The London Eye is a winner for family fun in my book – mainly because it’s a cool thing to do for grown ups too. Book ahead to save yourself 10% and  tickets are free for under 4s.
  36. Try Toddler Time at The Ritzy Cinema, Brixton – special half hour screenings of things, like Peppa Pig or Timmy Time, that cost just £3 per child (grown ups free).
  37. Once a month, the Royal Academy of Arts do a free family activity afternoon, where you can do things like getting green fingered with plants or creating your own story book. Afterwards, stroll along to Piccadilly Circus to look at the big TV screens (and if you are that way inclined, head to the Trocadero).
  38. If you’re visiting the Museum Of London get a free Explorer Bag when you arrive – it’s packed with fun activities that’ll help you and your under 5 explore the exhibitions. Great idea.
  39. Watch the skateboarders on the South Bank. My tot could do this for hours…
  40. Go for a ride on THE TRAIN WITH NO DRIVER (aka the DLR). Ride out to Greenwich or Stratford and back.
  41. Got a dinosaur fan in the family? They’ll love the giant dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum. You can watch the butterflies in the butterfly house too - you might even see one emerge from a chrysalis!
  42. Dinosaur fans should also make their way to Crystal Palace Park where they can climb on them in the play area and see large sculptures poking out from the trees.
  43. I’m 35 and even I love the lights and fountains at Granary Square near King’s Cross. They’re fun for kids to run through, and they can also swing in the giant birdcage. Don’t miss the street food stalls for a quick bite (the burgers and ice lollies look amazing).
  44. Check out a craft or storytelling session at the Geffrye Museum, Shoreditch.
  45. Get a bird’s eye view of the city by going up 72 floors to the Viewing Platform of The Shard. Check their website for any deals on kids – they often do ‘kids go free’ deals during the holidays.
  46. Battersea Children’s Zoo is well worth a visit. As well as the animals they have a fantastic play area and a nice cafe.
  47. Strut your stuff to the sounds of child-friendly reggae, folk and pop tunes at Toddler Jam at Stratford Circus – £3 for a child and parent/carer.
  48. Camley Street Natural Park is a bit of a secret in London –  many people don’t even realise it’s there, nestled near King’s Cross, but it’s a lovely green space run by the London Wildlife Trust.
  49. If you have £100 burning a hole in your purse, head to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in Harrods where your little one can have a royal Disney experience to rival no other – dressing up, having their hair done, face painted and generally treated like a princess.
  50. Go for a boogie at Monksi Mouse’s Baby Disco Dance Hall on the Southbank – it happens every Sunday and costs £8.

Where are your favourite places to go with kids in London?

If you loved this blog post, check out 30 Things To Do Before You’re 3 and 40 Books To Read Before You’re 4!

 

The Dos And Don’ts Of Peppa Pig World

Unless you’ve hidden your TV remote control from sight, the chances are, if you’ve got a pre-school child, you’ll be well aware of Peppa Pig. And one of the biggest treats you can give a small kiddo is taking them to Peppa Pig World near Southampton. We took our (then) two year old last year and she had the MOST FUN EVER. And unlike a lot of theme parks aimed at very young children, it wasn’t too painful for us grown ups either. I even had a stinking wine-head on me that day, and I still coped admirably (I know – I deserve a medal, right?).

If you’re thinking of taking a trip to Peppa Pig World this summer, there are some Dos and Don’ts to help you make the most of your visit…

Dos and Don'ts of Peppa Pig World Continue reading