Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Soho Hotel Summer Film Club

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Looking cool in anticipation of the inaugural Summer Film Club at London's Soho Hotel

There comes a time in the life of every holiday-bound parent when some grown-up enjoyment is essential.

A few minutes to sit and think, stare into space, and try and scramble the brain away from a mantra of cook/clean/arbitrate.

But where? And how? And can this be done while keeping the children happy at the same time? YES! Meet The Soho Hotel’s Summer Film Club!

Peace reigns at the Soho Hotel Summer Film Club

The Soho Hotel is in the gorgeous Firmdale Hotel. Not wanting to namedrop, ahem, but while staying/lunching/brunching in the various branches I’ve seen Gwyneth Paltrow, Christina Ricci, Scarlett Johansson and Robbie Coltrane.

The Summer Film Club is genius. A delicious buffet starts at 11.15, packed with teeny burgers, fish and chip cones, dips and fruit kebabs. There’s prosecco for grown-ups (I know! and you’re allowed to drink it while watching the film), Fruit Shoots and fruit juice for children. The film of the day starts at midday in a plush private screening room, with huge flippy-up seats (leather, which means you can easily wipe them down should your children be as sticky as mine). You even get a box of popcorn per seat. The screening room is air-conditioned, and as you’re surrounded by children everyone understands if you need to race a child out to the loo. Child 3, did you really need four Fruit Shoots?

Tickets cost £20 per person, which I think is a bargain given that a slap-up lunch is included.


19 July: Despicable Me 2
26 July: The Lego Movie 3D
2 August: Rio 2
9 August: Frozen 3D
16 August: How to Train Your Dragon 2 3D
23 August: Peter Pan
30 August: Muppets Most Wanted
6 September: Finding Nemo 3D
13 September: ET
20 September: Planes 2: Fire and Rescue

For bookings and more information, contact:
020 7559 3007

South Bank playground

Friday, July 11th, 2014

Wooden playground in the shadow of the London Eye

One of my favourite places in London is the South Bank.

When I first came to London, long before I had children, I’d wander here. Partly to be by the side of the Thames, with thousands of years of history floating past. Partly because it’s arguably the most vibrant, exciting place to hang out for free. You can take in buskers, views, art installations and the melting pot that is London, without spending any money.

Now that I’ve got children, I appreciate the virtues of a day out that doesn’t cost a fortune even more.

Enjoying the urban jungle

We hadn’t visited for a while, and hadn’t previously noticed a really cool, mainly wooden playground. It was full of challenging bits to scramble up and along, and it kept us busy for nearly an hour. Then it was on to the buskers. Our favourite was the ‘bubble man’ who created giant bubbles. Children followed him as though he were the Pied Piper, running and jumping to pop the bubbles.

Apart from the few coins that we gave various buskers, it was a free day. And we’ll head back to enjoy the urban beach, which returns this year as part of Festival of Love

Festival of Love Urban Beach Opening Times
Friday 6th June – Sunday 14th September
Monday: 12pm – 6pm
Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday: 10am – 6pm
Thursday, Friday: 10am – 8pm

Sit down on a BookBench

Sunday, July 6th, 2014

Dr Seuss' 'Things', painted by Sarah Jane Richards. Photograph: Chris O’Donovan for the National Literacy Trust

This has to be one of my favourite things happening in London this summer.

50 unique BookBench sculptures have been created and dotted around the capital, designed by local artists and famous names to celebrate London’s literary heritage and reading for enjoyment. There are four trails to explore, where you can discover green spaces and historic sites, while you look for the BookBenches. At the end of a literary summer, the BookBenches will be brought together in a final display on October 7 and auctioned off to raise money for the National Literacy Trust.So I’m planning a tour.

What’s not to like? It’s free fun, and you even get to sit down at the end of it!

One of my favourites - The Wind in the Willows, painted by Mik Richardson

Stop press!!
Visit the Sherlock Holmes BookBench on 19 July at 1pm for a unique opportunity to see a photo shoot of Sherlocks. The Sherlocks are taking part in a Guinness World Records attempt for the most number of people dressed as the iconic detective.

Sneak preview of dress of the season!

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Check out those festival-friendly florals and cutesy collar

Dress with a delightfully retro vibe at Little Bird by Jools Oliver

We think this is the dress of the season, as seen in a recent Little Bird by Jools Oliver at Mothercare preview. Gorgeous, and with a real feeling of nostalgia. VW Combi Van optional!

Kids cookery classes at Tozi

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Tozi Restaurant, Victoria, London. Pre-flour battle!

It’s a wonderful thing, learning a new skill. Especially when it’s your children learning the skill, while you watch on, sipping an espresso.

On a rainy half term day, I took my two older boys, aged 7 and 9, for a cookery lesson. All part of my ongoing mission to make them self-sufficient. The boys often help me cook at home, but it’s more a “stir the cake mix then lick the bowl” kind of cooking than anything that might produce a meal.

The Tozi restaurant is housed in the Park Plaza hotel in Victoria. It’s like a little slice of Milan, kitted out with pizza oven, dried hams hanging all over the place, and a giant kitchen dresser, just like mama’s. It’s also home to a full complement of Italian waiters and chefs straight out of central casting. Bello. 

Pasta ingredients ready to mix

The boys donned aprons, and sat round a communal table with five other children. The pasta ingredients were already weighed out; all the boys had to do was mix the eggs into the flour.

Easier said than done! It took them ages, but they loved the feel of the gunky pasta dough all over their hands.

The pasta dough starting to take shape

Once the dough was deemed suitably mixed – the chef in charge kept an eye, and helped out when necessary – it was time for the rolling out process. The dough was fed through electric pasta rollers until it was thin enough to be worked with.

The pasta sheets are ready to be cut and filled

Once rolled, it was time to cut and fill. This bit the boys did find tricky. All the slicing and crimping really challenged their fine motor skills, and our pasta at the end of it didn’t look quite like anything I’ve ever seen in a restaurant! The filling was a seasoned ricotta mix that had already been made by the Tozi chefs.

Filled pasta ready to meet its maker

Class over, we headed home for tea. No prizes for guessing what we ate, in our case with a chunky tomato sauce and lots of parmesan.

TOZI Kids’ Cookery Classes
When? On selected school holiday dates, from 3.30pm – 5 pm
Cost £10
Where? Tozi, 8 Gillingham Street, LONDON, SW1V 1HJ
Style of food Venetian-Italian cicchetti (small-plates) concept and contemporary Italian cocktail bar

Bounce off the walls!

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

The weather, as those brave souls battling it out at Wimbledon, will attest is


Nearly school holidays, though. Which will probably mean rain, rain, rain.

Apparently indoor trampoline parks are all the rage in the US, and the concept has spread to Australia, Amsterdam and Singapore. Get fit, have fun, and enjoy being up, up and away in the great indoors where it doesn’t matter if the sun either doesn’t shine, or shines too much.

The UK’s first indoor trampoline park has recently opened near Watchmoor Park, Camberley, in a 27,000 square foot warehouse. Action includes dodge ball, giant foam pits, and angled trampolines that let you bounce off the walls.

Such a great idea, and fingers crossed Gravity Force catches on and other branches start springing up all over the country.


We’re coming home…

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

So, football(ers) are coming home...?

Another World Cup, another sobbing husband and sad clutch of children. It would be enough to make me give up football all together (if I watched it more than a couple of times every four years, that is).

I know it’s not entirely over. The gleam on the Jules Rimet (had to Google how to spell that) trophy can still be glimpsed dimly in the far, far distance. But it looks distinctly as though our boys in white are back home for an early bath.

Which is why Private Eye made me chuckle.

Contemporary Garden Fair

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

How refreshing - an insider garden fair that isn't just for the Chelsea brigade

What a delightful idea.

A garden fair that showcases products and ideas that are realistic and cool. And might just appeal to gardeners who, like me, don’t necessarily know their fritillary from their fuchsia.

Grow London – Contemporary Garden Fair takes place 20-22 June 2014. It describes itself as ‘A one-stop hub of gardening excellence’, and it’s located on Hampstead Heath.

You’ll find stylish flowerpots (no, I didn’t know they existed either), free garden workshops, endless tools and gadgets to buy, and four feature gardens. Plus lots of opportunities to get your hands dirty and up close to lots of gorgeous plants. There’s a Laithwaite champagne bar, Kitchen Garden Cafe, and plant creche where you can dump the plants, pots and tools you’ve bought.

Get some green-fingered advice for children from horticultural advisor to Cbeebies Mr Bloom's Nursery,

For children, there are lots of free activities on Saturday 21 June and Sunday 22 June, all led by Dawn Isaacs, horticultural advisor to Cbeebies Mr Bloom’s Nursery.

Kids’ Schedule:
11-11.45am, 12.15-1pm, 2-2.45pm, 3-3.45pm
Dawn’s hands-on workshops for children will include sowing, making and crafting things for the garden.


The value of Dad?

Monday, June 9th, 2014

Tooth Fairy alarm

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

Does anyone else struggle to remember to act as the Tooth Fairy? I don’t mean going as far as my friend S who dresses up in a tutu just in case one of her darlings wakes in the night while the coin is replacing the tooth. I mean simply forgetting all about it.

My three oldest’s teeth are popping out like popcorn (it’s their ages, I hasten to add, I don’t feed them toffee sandwiches every night). We go through the ‘Oohs’, the ‘Aahs – it’s a double-rooter!’ and wrap the surprisingly tiny teeth tenderly in tissue paper. At bedtime the tissued-teeth are popped under the pillow, and in the morning the children wake to contented sighs of ‘Yay! cash!’.

Except they don’t. Because we always forget.

I then run upstairs with a coin in my hand saying they ‘just didn’t look hard enough’. And the gap-toothed child points out that they did, so much so that the tooth was still there when they checked earlier that morning.

As even my nine-year-old still believes in the Tooth Fairy, I feel I’m ruining the magic. Usually because I’m watching the latest installment of Fargo, or staring into the bottom of a glass of Pinot.

Any tips?