5 Fun Things Happening In London This Summer


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

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Protecting Our Children From Sadness


It’s funny the things you get emotional about, as a parent. I’ve been watching friends (and other bloggers) post updates on Facebook about their child leaving nursery, or finishing reception year, and the emotions they’re feeling.

Some of them are happy, some of them are relieved it’s the summer holidays, some of them seem sad… all of them mention having a little cry.

It’s something that I haven’t experienced yet – my daughter is three and has another year of pre-school before ‘big school’ – but this morning, I found myself feeling emotional as I dropped her off for the day. For a few months now, we’ve been preparing her for the fact that, come September, lots of her pre-school friends will be going to school. We’ve talked about it a lot, and chatted about what school might be like, and which school she might go to a year later.

She seems totally cool with it all. Last night, she came home from pre-school with a red love heart that had her name and a friend’s name on it. “What’s this, honey?” I asked her. “Oh, it was her last day at pre-school today,” she replied, “and she gave me this.”

My eyes welled up with tears. But I smiled and said “That’s so kind of her!”

Then, this morning, there was a thank you card left by my daughter’s peg – a mum thanking us for a birthday present. At the end, it said ‘hope you stay in touch’ and it set me off again. I feel incredibly sad that so many children that my daughter has become close to – kids she has played with, day in day out, for a few years, will be heading out of her life. And I hadn’t prepared myself – or my daughter – for it happening now. In July. I thought it would happen in September, but of course any parents with an older school age child will likely take the younger sibling out of pre-school now, won’t they? So it’s taken me by surprise, this week.

Again, she seems totally cool with it all. Which is great. But it’s making me reflect on life and how sad it is when people come and go, and you miss them. I want to protect my daughter from that sadness – and I want to protect her from any sadness. I’m worried about any future fall outs with friends, her feeling hurt when friends ‘leave her out’ and I’m worried about her being bullied.

Of course, it’s natural to want to protect your child from hurt, and I know that she has to experience it, because it’s a part of life. She has to learn how to cope with feeling sad. But it makes me feel so sad…


On Flexible Working And Equality

will we ever be equal

“A truly equal world would be one where women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes,” says Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and author of Lean In. But with flexible working often seen as being acceptable for mums but not dads (how many dads do you know who look after the kids two days a week?) it’s fair to say we’re still a long way off Sheryl’s dream. Which is kinda depressing.

But (and it’s a big but) we’re starting to move towards it. It’s definitely becoming more acceptable for dads to work flexibly and on June 30th, the government introduced a change in law which allows anyone to request flexible working (Peninsula Financial Services have written a white paper on this, if you’re looking for details on it). So for the first time, employees without children or caring responsibilities can ask to work in a way that suits them. The rules are also being relaxed on the process that companies have to follow, making it easier for them too. Which, in theory, should mean that more people ask to work flexibly.

It’s a brilliant step forward and I’ve got high hopes that if more non-parents request flexible working, it’ll remove the stigma attached to it. And however you look at it, there is a stigma attached. Back before I had my daughter, I’m ashamed to say that I was that person doing a secret eye-roll when a colleague had to leave at 5pm to pick up their child from nursery. Ignorant? Yes. Happening in workplaces all over the country? Absolutely.

Never mind the fact that generally speaking, parents who work flexibly are paid accordingly and actually probably work harder than some of their colleagues, to ensure there’s no room for criticism of their performance or effort.

And actually, it’s in an employer’s interest to help employees achieve a work/life balance. They’ll have employees who are indebted to the organisation and who are really thinking about productivity. It’s a win/win situation.

Next year, there’s also going to be a change to paternity leave – dads can currently take up to 26 weeks of additional paternity leave before their baby turns one and once their partner has gone back to work. And there are plans to introduce shared parental leave in 2015 which will allow dads to take leave at the same time as their partner and at any time after the birth. Which is GREAT NEWS.

If we have another child, I will be well up for sharing some of my maternity leave with Mr P. I get that breastfeeding means that for most mums, it makes sense for them to be the one who is at home with their baby. But I stopped breastfeeding when my daughter was six months old and so after that, it didn’t matter who was looking after her – me or her dad. I think sharing some of the leave would have helped my PND and actually, it’s just fairer. As a couple, we do things in a pretty equal way, so why should caring for a young baby be any different?

What do you think? Do you imagine more people will request flexible working now? And will you be pleased to see parental leave come into force next year?

• This is a commissioned post


Retro Wrist Candy

A recent conversation with friends on Facebook led us to reminisce about the fashion from our childhoods. We pretty much all wore shell suits, bum bags, t-shirts with Kylie Minogue on them, and we thought it was a real treat if our mums bought us something from the market (the market had SUCH COOL stuff!)

The other must-have item back then (I’m talking circa 1990 here) was a Pop Swatch. Any Swatch watch was cool but the Pop Swatch was extra lust-worthy…

Pop swatch love!

It had a fabric strap, was always bright jazzy colours (yep, I just said ‘jazzy’) and the BEST BIT: the watch face popped right out! And you could even take the plastic clip off the strap and attach it to your t-shirt. Although I never actually did this.

In the days when my biggest aspiration was to be just like Six from TV Show Blossom, the Pop Swatch was everything to me. I was so happy to get one for my birthday one year….

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Pink Nike Air

It’s six weeks since I blogged about being Too Fat For Zara and guess what… I’m still too fat for Zara.

BUT…. I’m really proud of the little changes I’ve made to my lifestyle in that time. I’ve basically stopped eating my way through the day. I probably ate chocolate every day back then (I say that, like it’s years ago…) and my food choices were determined by which item looked the yummiest, which meant that anything carb-loaded, cheese-loaded and salt-loaded went in my gob. In the evenings, our idea of cooking was putting a pizza in the oven. We ate so much processed food, it’s not even funny. Never mind five a day, I’m not sure I was getting five a week.

It’s easy to get into a vicious circle of ‘well I’m overweight so I may as well eat ALL the burgers’, isn’t it?

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a fan of diets. I spent far too much of my 20s on Weight Watchers diets and feeling miserable at the weekly weigh-in when I’d only dropped half a pound despite having struggled through the week, counting points and eating those (gross) microwave meals they sell. When I look back at photos of me, at that time, I look slim! Why was I beating myself up about my weight?

Thankfully, at around 28, I realised diets are pointless and a negative cycle to get into. It’s all about adopting a healthy lifestyle, right? Which is all well and good, if you actually do adopt a healthy lifestyle. Which for the last few years, I haven’t.

Last year, when friends and colleagues were banging on about the 5:2 diet, I rolled my eyes and stuffed another cupcake in my mouth. And another. But really, was what they were doing any worse than what I was doing? Probably not….

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