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.

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We were invited along for the purpose of this review.

Categories
Activity Ideas Parenthood Travel

Bucket List: Into the Wild Summer Festival

So, this was an item I had added to the bucket list and then immediately regretted! I didn’t know how on earth I was going to manage two under 5s by myself for a whole weekend of camping. I didn’t even have any camping gear, so it was a quick stop at Decathlon for the basics (honestly, BASICs). I got a 3 person pop-up tent, an inflatable mattress, 3 sleeping bags, a lamp to hang inside the tent, some (not) glow in the dark tent pegs and a couple of blankets.


The day arrived and I was really having some doubts about the feasibility of it all, I wasn’t bringing any food and just hoping there would be enough food options to cater to our tastes, I barely packed enough clothes and was wondering if it would be too late to change my mind, but we got there and in no time at all set up camp. Everybody was so friendly and helpful, the boys enjoyed taking turns to hammer the pegs into the ground and put out their sleeping bags before we explored what the festival had to offer.


There was a programme of workshops and various activities, I didn’t get the chance to do any of them as busy shepherding the boys, but they enjoyed a few fairground type rides that were free for the first day (swings and trampolines), there was a circus tent with dressing up, face painters (the face paint looked awesome with their coloured hair) and an arts and crafts tent where they made some wings. Plenty of music to enjoy throughout the day and communal fires to sit around. Most of the food was vegan, which again wasn’t an issue for us but the boys do snack a lot and it ended up being quite expensive by the end of the day feeding their grazing habits.


The main attraction for me was that it was a drink and drug free event, which meant there was something quite pleasant and relaxing about drinking chai, listening to Nick Mulvey and dancing/singing along with a sleeping B in the sling. There was no real need to feel cautious about walking back to our tent in the dark which made for a very safe and enjoyable environment for me and the children. Children were very much welcome to be children and W made hordes of friends that ran around in little feral packs, whooping and hollering with items of clothing missing and face paint streaked faces.


A typical day for us involved waking up rather early, mad dash to the toilets before getting ready for the day (minus shower as these were out of order!). We filled up our water bottles and then walked through the ‘village’ through to the main site for a bowl of porridge in the Into the Wild cafe tent. A short kids yoga session or dance meditation to start the day right followed be a short walk to see what activity the boys wanted to do, ranging from chalk carving at the tinker station to making mandalas or upcycling. A quick snack and they were free to roam the play equipment; there was a pirate ship, sand pit, parachute and climbing frame, building up an appetite for lunch.


The temperature really rose in the afternoon so we would out the blankets out and have a little nap or go to the cafe tent for the storytelling sessions. Another chance to play or draw before dinner and then a chance to chill out in the main tent listening to an aural delights that were on offer for that evening. Overall it was a very relaxed affair, the children had a blast and I would definitely consider going back again, perhaps a little more prepared!


I paid £80 for my adult ticket which included parking, camping pitch and all workshops, the boys were free as under 5 so I’m not entirely sure how much a child ticket would have cost but that information wouldn’t be hard to find. There were a few issues with water and the sawdust toilets were fine for me but took a bit of getting use to for the boys as their favourite part of going to the toilet is flushing it!


I found out afterwards that Tom Hardy had also been at the festival and I’d missed my chance for a photo!

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
Parenthood

Foodie Friday: Busaba Eathai

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I was first introduced to Busaba Eathai during my teen years when it was just a restaurant on Wardour Street, it is now a recognisable chain of several restaurants throughout London and I was recently able to introduce the Little Londoners to the Shepherds Bush restaurant.

We arrived at around 11.40am, although 20 minutes before the kitchen opened we were invited to find a table until they were able to take our order (which is rare) and immediately offered a highchair if required.  For only £5.90 the children’s menu offered a snack, main and drink. The options are a refreshing change to the usual fare seen on children’s menus yet still suitable for an immature palette.

Both boys opted for pick-up veggies to start with, followed by satay chicken, broccoli and sweet potato fries (these could have been switched out and replaced with either Jasmine rice or egg noodles). They demolished everything put in front of them and seemed to enjoy the meal as a whole, which brings me to…

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

W (4) said: “This is delicious, it was yummy in my head and ate it all up! I want to come back here again.”

B (2) said: “I like chicken and chips, I want more for dinner.”

What do I think?

I have always enjoyed going to Busaba Eathai, I was highly impressed with the children’s menu and what they offer in terms of affordability. I would definitely take the Little Londoners back again. They were accommodating, attentive and timely, all the things required for an enjoyable meal out with children .

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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
Parenthood Travel

The Bucket List: Glamping at Cuckoo Down Farm, Devon

W will be starting school this year, I thought we could make the most of our time together before being beholden by term time for holidays and days out by writing out a bucket list of things he wants to do before starting school. The first item on our list was camping, in particular he wanted the experience of roasting marshmallows round a campfire. A quick Google search for glamping in Devon later, and I had booked us a last minute 4 night stay at Cuckoo Down Farm.

We arrived late afternoon to our gorgeous safari tent, Poppy. We were the only ones staying at the farm as it was term time but it meant that B and W were free to roam the glamping field without disturbing anybody. The card, wine and chocolate was a lovely welcoming touch. Our first night was definitely a learning curve as I discovered that I was inexperience in the art of wood burning stoves.

TOP TIP: Make sure you know how to use a wood burning stove or be prepared to ask for help, to avoid spending the first night snuggled together in PJs, jumpers, 3 pairs of socks and under plenty of blankets.

 We spent our first morning admiring the view from the barn; it held the fridges for each tent/yurt and shared freezers, showers (though we had our own hot shower and toilet at the back of our safari tent), washing machine and charging points for phones and lamps. I had finally got the wood burning stove working, which meant warm croissants for breakfast before exploring the 3 acres of woodland on the farm. W had brought his British Wildlife book on holiday with us in the hopes of finding some creepy crawlies, and B was convinced he had seen a flash of a rabbit in a blue coat (Peter Rabbit enthusiast!).

We had a lovely lunch at local pub, The Golden Lion Inn in Tipton St John. Everybody was incredibly friendly and helpful, the food was delicious and we were able to spend our afternoon walking along the nearby River Otter.

On Wednesday B and W had the opportunity to meet, brush and ride Ebony, the pony. We also met some newborn lambs, said hello to Honey, the goat and fed the chickens as well as collected some eggs for our dinner.

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I had packed a picnic lunch for us to take to Sidmouth, with plans to enjoy the Jurassic coastline and explore the pebbled beach pretending to be fossil hunters. However, it was so windy and unpleasant for us all, we resorted to seeking shelter in the car and returning to the farm to read books in front of the stove with warm milk and cookies. I also decided that tonight would be the night we had sausages around the campfire and toasted marshmallows much to their enjoyment!

Our last full day, I had considered the just under 2 hour drive to The Eden Project in Cornwall however after looking at the one the day prices and reading reviews online I settled on a linked site, The Lost Gardens of Heligan. We were graced with lovely sunny weather for what a magical day it turned out to be. Firm favourites were the Giant’s Head and Mud Maid sculptures within the 60acres of woodland. W also enjoyed crossing the Burmese Rope Bridge in the Jungle while I carried B across. It is recommended for over 5’s but I allowed W to cross anyway as it was a quiet term time day and he could take as much time as he needed to cross. We had lunch at one of the cafes where you could take your food outside and borrow one of the many picnic rugs available. We finished our day looking at the  calf, piglets, lambs and chicks in the barn, watching a lathe demonstration and exploring the gardens.

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Our last morning was spent enjoying warm croissants and porridge before the 4 hour drive home, we are all sad to go and it was an incredibly enjoyable experience for me, as I had had some reservations about taking them without another adult to help supervise/entertain. I would definitely consider glamping again in the future, but perhaps when they are old enough to help me with the wood burner!

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!

Categories
London Parenthood

The Fantastic World of Dr Seuss

Discover Children’s Story Centre currently has a Dr Seuss Exhibition and it’s as amazing as it sounds!

The exhibition experience and the storytelling session are included in the ticket price but you do need to book a space.


We spaced our day out by visiting the exhibition first, we were read the first few pages of The Cat in the Hat and then encouraged to explore the space. There were dressing up opportunities to be Thing 1 and Thing 2. A Truffula forest with various The Lorax books strewn around for group or individual reading. Games area from Oh! The Places You’ll Go! and complimentary worksheets. Our favourite book is Green Eggs and Ham, we weren’t let down with a tea set role play area and plenty of book copies to read.


After lunch from the cafe, we explored Story World which really helps capture a child’s imagination. Our day ended with the interactive Scrambled Eggs Super! storytelling session, we sang songs, hunted for various birds and their eggs and at the end had a dance to ‘How Do You Like Your Eggs In The Morning’ by Dean Martin, although aimed at 0-3 year olds this experience was thoroughly enjoy by the accompanying 4 year olds.


Highly recommended experience for all, The Fantastic World of Dr Seuss is on at Discover Children’s Story Centre until 3rd September 2017.