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Christmas London

‘Eventcrashers’ aka Good Sh*t Happens

It’s no secret amongst our closest friends that my sisters and I have always managed to find ourselves rubbing shoulders with celebs and VIPs. An after-party in Tape, London or enjoying a VIP table in Ibiza. We’ve been there and we’ve done it, usually a combination of timing, luck and connections, but now it’s time to pass the baton.

At 4 and 3, W and B (respectively) are unable to appreciate the momentous occasion that befell them on Thursday 30th November 2017, but they will one day and I doubt it will be their last. As we headed to the Mount St Christmas Light Switch On ft. Tracey Emin, to enjoy some mulled wine, mince pies and roasted chestnuts in front of The Connaught Hotel, none of us could have anticipated what happened next. As we joined the line for hot chocolate outside the Christian Louboutin store, my sister and I decided we would head to Selfridges to grab something to eat from the Food Hall before heading home.

Mount St. Christmas Tree

As we left, we noticed a waiter with a tray of champagne walk by. Following him we happened upon what we assumed was some sort of ‘Lates’ event for the run up to Christmas, after acquiring a glass each and promising the children we would head home once we finished our (continually topped up) drinks, we took a chance to admire the little stalls on display. Mince pies surrounded handbags on display, a glittery Jimmy Choo stall handing out cakepops to the children, amazing DJs and drag queens singing Christmas songs, tattoo transfers and a free braid bar; both of which the boys took full advantage of. We couldn’t believe what we had stumbled upon, people came up to us to compliment the children (the only ones there that we could see), we recognised a few faces and even spotted Edward Enninful (editor of British Vogue) with entourage in tow.

Jimmy Choo 'IWANTCHOO' cake pops

It was only when we overheard event staff asking guests to show their wristbands in exchange for a champagne top up that we realised we hadn’t stumbled upon a free event at all. In fact, we were gatecrashing the British Vogue event to celebrate the opening of the new Accessories Hall in Selfridges. By that point we had taken advantage of everything they had to offer, made our excuses and left, returning back home around 10pm on a school night.

The children arrived to school/nursery, exhausted, with tattoos and braided hair. Telling tales of eating roasted chestnuts courtesy of The Connaught and gate crashing British Vogue events with sparkling Jimmy Choo cakepops. I’m not entirely sure many people believe us, but it was a night to remember and who says no to free champagne on a school night?

Champagne School Nights

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Categories
London Parenthood

Event Edit: Big Fish Little Fish Hackney – Drum n Bass

The concept of a family-friendly rave has intrigued me for quite a while, the Little Londoners were ecstatic at the idea of ‘going out’ with me rather than the usual, yet rare, babysitter (read: abandonment) scenario.

That’s where Big Fish Little Fish come in, their events promise top DJs and licensed bars for the ‘Big Fish’, as well as craft areas, play areas and face-painting and more for the ‘Little Fish’. I was excited, the boys were excited and there was an ‘optional’ fancy dress theme of togas, which of course I made them wear!

Upon arrival the Little Londoners were given a free glow stick each, to add to the assorted collection already adorning their wrists. We navigated past the buggy park to the front door, they had warned of a security check but as I no longer need to carry a changing bag we had a friendly face ushering us through to the rave room.

Our first mission was to wake up a little as they had both fallen asleep on our way to the event, so we headed over to the craft area run by Captain Cookie Crafts. There was a mural and a container of felt tips that W (4) happily took advantage of. There was also a craft table with some sort of headdress craft for children to make with a few examples dotted around. It was pretty busy so we steered clear, the play dough table was even more packed and the play area itself seem to trigger a few soft play flashbacks for B (3) as he clung to my leg whimpering. We avoided that area for the rest of our time until the end when W saw the opportunity to make his own ‘pirate’ headdress (I think they were meant to be Egyptian but didn’t have the heart to dampen his spirit).

Face painting was next on the agenda, this was provided by PHACEbyPhilly. W opted for a dragon and B opted for a crocodile. She was super fast and effective, I thought the face painting the boys had done at Into the Wild was brilliant, but this was on a whole other level!

After a few marshmallow pops and a couple bags of popcorn, washed down with apple juice we were ready to hit the dance floor. W happily showed off his best moves, and even tried out some questionable break dancing, that I had to put an end to due to the number of little walkers on the dance floor. DJ SS was headlining and played some pretty decent tunes that even I (not really a drum n bass fan) could get into. They managed to top the event off with some pretty cool light effects, bubble machines and glitter cannon!

The only tears we had were from me trying to get self-conscious/Velcro ‘baby’ B to detach from my leg and join W in dancing. We also had tears and screaming when it was time to go home, but that’s always a sign of a good time and we can’t wait for the NYE event, which has already sold out!

I’d definitely recommend going to BFLF event near you if you have the chance, but make sure you bring your partner, or if you’re a single parent like me, a friend, it would have been nice to have let W happily space out on the dance floor while also allowing B some ‘quiet’ time in the play area.

***

We were invited along for the purpose of this review.

Categories
London

The Little Londoners, The Mondrian and The Lorax

The Mondrian is one of my favourite hotels to stay at when I need a sneaky treat or two. So I jumped at the chance to take advantage of their dinner, bed, breakfast and tickets to see The Lorax offer! 
Anybody knows me that I’m not happy unless I’m spinning as many as (too full) plates as possible, so of course I decided to turn it into an ‘adventure weekend’ and follow the evening with a day out at Alton Towers (hahaha – post to follow).

The contact between myself and the hotel was superb as always, they offered me different dinner service times. Living less than 15mins away from the hotel via public transport, I opted for a 5pm reservation, giving us a 2 hour window to do school pick up, check in and have a quick shower/change before dinner. So imagine my ‘surprise’ when at 4.30pm, W was still in his school uniform, B was screaming his head off, I was sweaty and sore (thanks to the car accident the day before) and we were just starting our 15min journey to the hotel.


Thankfully, check in was a breeze as always and the receptionist welcomed me back (although this time I was accompanied with two small beings so by the time our visit was over, I wasn’t entirely sure if we would be welcome back again!). The hotel decor doesn’t exactly scream ‘family friendly’ but the boys were full of awe in the lift lobby, let alone stepping through our suite door. A quick exploration and toilet trip later, we made our way down to the Terrace Restaurant, with its low level lighting and suitably atmospheric music, the staff were very welcoming to the boys, asked them questions directly, patient for the answers which quite frankly is rare, anywhere. W chose the braised beef and B the chicken breast from the children’s menu. I chose from the 2 course set menu but got extras such as a cocktail (for me) and dessert for all of us, after W brazenly asked the waiter for a dessert menu!
The Old Vic was a short walk from the hotel, and we were treated to an amazing and thoroughly engaging performance with outstanding use of puppetry to portray The Lorax, it’s a pity it was only showing for a limited time as I would highly recommend the show to anybody I know, adults and children alike.


Breakfast was a lovely buffet in the same restaurant we had dined in the evening prior, however now I had to endure with two extremely well rested children, shouting out orders for pancakes and waffles. A speedy check out later (after nabbing some of the toiletries from the bathroom), and we were on a train heading to Alton Towers.

Categories
London

London Underground 

I recently shared a photograph of my children on the tube after a unpleasant experience which prompted me to ask the question “Was I wrong to ask for a seat for my children?”.

I received a mix of responses, a few inferring neglectful parenting and assuming that I am somebody with an attitude problem raising self entitled, disrespectful children, too occupied with my own ‘first world problem’. Amongst some of the more hateful and judgemental comments I was able to find a few balanced ones, and I am sharing some of these below, after receiving consent for sharing their comments with first names only.

Toni shared her experience of asking for a seat when pregnant. “When I was 7 months pregnant, I was standing on a packed tube. I wouldn’t normally ask for a seat, but it was hot and stuffy and I felt really faint. I asked a guy if he would mind, and he got irate and told me that people ‘in my condition’ should not even be on the tube in peak hour as others are trying to get to actual work! (Which is where I was going to, too).”

Jason shared his experience as somebody who always gives up his seat to those in need but has sometimes unintentionally offended others. “You are completely right to expect that someone would offer a young child their seat, there should have been loads of offers of a seat. Unfortunately the underground brings out the worst in people. I always offer up my seat to kids, elderly passengers, expectant mothers and anyone who looks like they need the seat more than me. I have offered my seat to other people on a few occasions and been dismissed rather rudely for reasons unknown, like I have caused offense somehow. It is also perfectly acceptable to ask for someone to give up their seat.”

Kate addressed those against giving children a seat. “I’m so disappointed by the amount of selfish and unkind comments on this thread. How did we get to a point that it’s ok to be so dismissive of small children? If they had hurt themselves, would those of you saying you wouldn’t give up your seat to them feel in anyway guilty? I guess not.”

Danni shared why she would have previously never considered giving a child a seat on public transport, “I always automatically give up my seat for someone elderly or disabled but to be honest, it’s never occurred to me to give up my seat for a child. I think maybe it just doesn’t occur to people that children would also need a seat. Not out of ignorance or being horrible, but maybe because they’re young and fit. This post has given me a different perspective for the future.”

This small selection of comments showed that when it come to etiquette on public transport there is mixed understanding as to what constitutes a need for a seat, other comments on the post highlighted an opinion related to a right to a seat based on being a paying commuter or not. You can find the original post on my Facebook page. Feel free to contribute to the conversation there, as well as comment on here.

Do we have a problem when it comes to etiquette on our public transport system?

Categories
London

Foodie Friday: Rabot 1745

Chocolate lovers rejoice! Rabot 1745 has been on my radar for a number of years now, but I have never had the chance to sample the delights they have on offer. If you’re not familiar with Rabot 1745, it’s Hotel Chocolat’s restaurant that serves cacao-inspired cuisine in the midst of London’s Borough Market. In other words, a chocolate lovers’ dream.

They do not have a children’s menu so I chose a few dishes for us to share amongst ourselves. We started off with the sourdough with cacao three ways. I then opted for the Seared Sea Bass for myself, sharing a small portion of it with the boys and chose the Mac + cheese for them to share, as well as a small avocado salad between us all. They demolished everything put in front of them and seemed to enjoy the meal as a whole, which brings me to…

What did the Little Londoners think and would they go back again?

W (4) said: “It was yum, can I have dessert?”

B (2) said: “CHOCOLATE-Y”

What do I think?

Even though they don’t have a children’s menu, they were very good at accommodating us. The boys enjoyed being able to look out over Borough Market and were luckily well behaved enough for a place that doesn’t really cater to young families. I would definitely take them back to try some of the other dishes on offer, if you don’t feel your children would be suited to the restaurant upstairs there is a bustling cafe/shop at ground level.

Categories
London

The Attack in London

I was woken up at 3.15am by pinging Facebook requests to mark myself safe after ‘The Attack in London’ and vibrating messages asking if I was alive and well.

The recent spate of attacks, from the tragedy of Westminster and the horror of Manchester to the devastation of the Ramadan attacks in Baghdad were of little consequence to me. Usually, I furtively check updates as the news unfolds, shielding the boys from a part of world that I wanted to protect them from, but ignorance isn’t always bliss.

If you follow our IG @littlelondoners you would have seen that we had been in Borough Market, just hours before the attack we had lunch at Rabot 1745, for this months food edit, we wandered the stalls, talking with stakeholders and taking advantage of the samples on offer. Only for somewhere that isn’t just a part of London, but my London. The London that I have created for my boys, that I promote at every opportunity, for my bubble to be burst a few hours later by a senseless and heinous act. As I read theaccount of what had happened, I realised that I couldn’t protect the boys forever and in these uncertain times, the best thing I can do as their parent is to prepare them for the uncomfortable truth, that it could have been us.

As I worries over how I was going to break the news to my sensitive and innocent boys, who lives in a world where the worst thing imaginable was to not be invited to a birthday party. I was reminded of the well-known Fred Rogers’ excerpt:

There was something else my mother did that I’ve always remembered: “Always look for the helpers,” she’d tell me. “There’s always someone who is trying to help.” I did, and I came to see that the world is full of doctors and nurses, police and firemen, volunteers, neighbors and friends who are ready to jump in to help when things go wrong.

With that in mind, I sat with them both in the morning and we looked at the photos I had taken of them the day before. I asked them what they had liked, what they had enjoyed about their day and then I gently broke the news. They are only 4 and 2, so avoiding too many details I explained that a very unhappy person had hurt a lot of people where we had been that day, some of them had died (they are familiar with this concept after my mother lost her battle with cancer last summer) but most of them where in hospital getting better. We talked about the different type of people that help us; police officers, paramedics and firefighters. Although initially concerned, I was able to reassure them that if anything bad happened there would always be somebody around to help, they should always look for somebody they recognise as being a ‘helper’.

It was not as difficult a conversation as I had anticipated, I know that I will probably and unfortunately  need to have similar and more detailed conversations in the years to come, but I am grateful that I could shift the focus from the bad to the good. To persevere their innocence and the magic of London as seen through a child’s eyes, I would not have been able to do so without our ‘helpers’, the emergency services responders, the volunteers opening their homes to those displaced by the attack, without them I wouldn’t be able to have had a positive and reassuring conversation with them, for that I am glad.

Categories
Activity Ideas London Parenthood

The Bucket List: Museum Challenge

As we continue to make our way through the list, we came to ‘The Museum Challenge’. Living in London we are fortunate enough to have three, free museums all within walking distance of each other, on our doorstep. Our challenge was to visit all three in one day!

First up was the Science Museum, we arrived before doors opened at 10am after a quick visit to our favourite exhibits we headed to the current exhibition ‘Robots’,  it was free for children aged 7 and under, which we soon came to realise meant it wasn’t entirely appropriate for them. Some of the exhibits scared the children, however they both enjoyed the interactive robots at the end. We then headed over to the Natural History Museum for the dinosaurs (of course!) after lunch.

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We finished our day in the V&A, I had forgotten that they offer family backpacks to compliment the collections, so a quick trip to the Learning Centre to pick up the Agent Animal backpack and we headed off to find the animals hiding in the Japan, China and South Asia galleries. Once we had found them, there was an audio button for each animal and fabric sensory jigsaw cubes to put together an image of each animal, which both boys enjoyed greatly. It was a long and tiring day, but challenge completed!

Categories
London Parenthood

The Bucket List: Robot Zoo

As we work our way through the bucket list, I realised that W had requested a museum outing. We visit museums on a regular basis, with the Science Museum and Natural History Museum being firm and regular favourites. I wanted this museum visit to be a little different from the norm, remembering my own visits to The Horniman Museum as a child, I thought I would introduce the boys to this extensive collection in south east London.

The Horniman Museum is free for it’s collections, unfortunately some of the galleries were closed until Spring 2018. We were able to see the large taxidermy collection and a new (since I last went) interactive section, which included a hive of bees which was incredibly exciting for them. We were also able to visit the music gallery which had a separate room to try out some of the instruments we had seen on display (picture young children let lose on the noisiest instruments possible, great for them, not so great for adults!).

The main purpose of our visit was of course The Robot Zoo (running until 29/10/17) a fabulous exhibition which showcased robotic animals such as a giant grasshopper, a detailed platypus and of course the giraffe featured on their advertising. They were able to explore the mechanics behind the construction of the robots as well as learn more about the biological aspects of each creature represented, such as a camouflage challenge to mimic the chameleon or a timed challenge to see how long they could hang like a bat for. Once the children had gotten over the initially uncertainty at these enormous robotic creatures, flashing lights and all, they were all running around squealing in excitement and one was even over heard declaring “This is awesome!”.

Even I enjoyed myself, playing arcade inspired games and with the current misery surrounding zoos in relation to animal welfare would quite happily see robotic zoos taking over if they were all as fun, interactive and informative as this little, unexpected exhibition was.

We are really enjoying making our way through W’s bucket list, and with a few more months to go, can’t wait to see what other adventures we have in store!

Categories
Activity Ideas Education London Parenthood

KidZania – every child’s dream

We went, we had fun and we’ll be going back! W turned the big 4 and I decided a trip to KidZania was in order to celebrate.

We went early to avoid the crowds, large groups of school children started arrive in  the afternoon which made it a bit more difficult to participate in activities.


Arrival was an airport set up complete with boarding passes and check in. We received electronic wristbands that linked us altogether in the unlikely event we got lost and to prevent the children leaving the premises unaccompanied, the wristband was also used to check in for  various activities and photos taken by the photographers to be purchased on exit. Over 4s are also given 50 Kidzos (KidZania currency) to start with which can be used to pay for activities or shop items. You earn more by doing ‘jobs, once you have 75 Kidzos you can open a bank account and receive a bank card which was the highlight for most of th children.

In total W managed 7 activities plus the RightzKeepers Residence we did for B to have some time as this was a regular scene during the day:


I bought a passport (£5) for W to get activities stamped off and he can collect hologram stickers from other KidZania locations worldwide.

My overal tips for KidZania are:

  • Bring another adult to be in charge of any Under 4s so they can do the activities suitable for their age while you keep an eye on the Over 4s
  • Do the most exciting activities first, the queues build up quickly and you are at risk of missing out
  • Don’t forget to factor lunch in, you can buy kids meals from food points or they can make their own burger at GBK for 20 Kidzos
  • Step back, adults aren’t allowed to queue up or join activities so you really need to let them feel in charge

We managed to have time before the end of our session for W to do the engineering & pit stop challenge activity, I was more than a little green to say the least!