Posts Tagged ‘Treats for mum’

Aliens Love Underpants – LIVE!

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Our family loves Aliens Love Underpants.

As a book, it does everything an under-five loves. It’s colourful, it’s written in catchy rhyme, and it’s about pants. Oh yes, we laugh our pants off every time.

As a play, I was intrigued to see how it would work. After all, there’s not much plot. Aliens swoop down and steal pants from washing lines, so that they can admire them and play games with them. Underpant trampolines and long john slides – magic stuff.

The on-stage version is all-singing and all-dancing. Aliens appear in a young boy’s bedroom, and the lucky young man then gets a trip to the alien’s planet. He visits their underpants museum, where Kylie’s hot pants are the top attraction, then swoops back down to earth. No-one believes his trip, but ain’t that always the way when it comes to alien abductions?

The cast is tuneful, the songs catchy (I’m still singing Aliens love underpants, I bet you never knew…) and the puppet aliens cute and cuddly. There are loud noises, colourful scenery, and a space ship to admire. The entire show takes about 50 minutes, and there’s lots of audience interaction. Children get to yell out their favourite style of underpants, and help choose the name of the show. What’s that you say? Donkeys love underpants?!

My nearly-four-year-old loved the show. Judging by the noise his fellow theatre-goers made, so did they.

It’s noisy, colourful, catchy and fun and a great first theatrical experience. Oh, and the ‘tippy-up’ seats at the theatre went down well too.

Leicester Square Theatre
Until 31 August 2014
Box Office: 08448 733433
Or book online at
Tickets from £15

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.

UPCOMING FILMS

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
refuel@sohohotel.com
www.sohohotel.com

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.

Tots to Travel happy, safe holidays

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

Wendy Shand, founder of Tots to Travel, with two of her children

Wendy Shand, founder of award-winning family holiday company Tots to Travel, launched her company after her son Barnaby fell into an unfenced swimming pool while on holiday. She realised there was a huge gap in the market for safe and comfortable holiday houses, and hasn’t looked back. We caught up with Wendy and asked her views on holidays, travel products, and life in general.
Q How much time do you spend on the road (and in the air!) every year?
Outside of family holidays I do some travelling but not an enormous amount.  I’ll spend 6 weeks in France this year, a week in Cyprus and then probably one other trip.
My husband Rob does the bulk of overseas travels.  He’ll do at least 10 trips this year meeting villa owners and viewing some staggeringly beautiful properties.

Wish you were here...? Villa Eros, Cyprus, hand-selected from all the villas available at the Aphrodite Hills resort

Q Do you get a lot of queries at the school gate? It must be hard to always get asked about your own favourite villa!
LOL! There are worse things in life!  I have so many favourites, like the ultra-lux villa in Cyprus with with a bedroom looking up through the swimming pool and amazing clifftop views. However, choosing the right villa for another family is such a personal thing and it really needs a conversation to understand what each person wants, how old their children are, and so on.  Once I have that information then I’m able to make some great, bespoke suggestions.

Q Is there a need for dedicated holidays to suit ‘tweens’ and teens?
This is certainly a very distinct stage in a family’s evolution complete with its own challenges.  However there are lots of travel companies that are doing a pretty good job in this respect with lots of activities from sailing to camel riding to safaris being on offer.
From a parent’s perspective this stage is less stressful as older children so it’s less about getting the accommodation safe and organised and more about how you keep every member of the family well entertained!

Q Are you a pool or a beach person?
Both!  If we’re lounging around then I love a pool with a view of the beach but I grew up in the Middle East where I learnt to sail, windsurfing and water ski.  This is where I am at my happiest so if any of these activities are available then I am much more like to be on the water rather than sitting beside it.

Q Top tip when dealing with different ages of children? Ie. those who are still capable of toddling into swimming pools, and those who are keen on some sight-seeing, or spending time on a beach without needing a nappy changed
The beach and a pool are great places for families with children of different ages as almost all children love the water. I have diving toys for my older children and will happily score dives, handstands and synchronised swimming from the top step whilst playing with our toddler who is likely to have containers or floating toys to play with.
None of my kids are particularly keen on sightseeing so apart from the odd castle or canoe trip so we tend to stay relatively close to our villa.  It’s a pretty selfless stage of life and I reckon that there will be plenty of time for sightseeing once the children are older.

Q Your most successful ever family holiday
We stayed in a beautiful villa in Mallorca with amazing views over the Bay of Formentor.  I think it worked really well because as adults we loved the architect designed villa and the location whilst the kids loved the pool and the nearby beach which had big rocks for jumping off.  The kids were in heaven!
We could also walk to a really funky beach bar for family cocktails before bed so it had a relaxed vibe.  I have lovely memories from that holiday.

Q If you weren’t running Tots to Travel, what would you be doing?
Great question!  I used to be a reception teacher but can’t see myself going back to that and neither can I see myself being an employee again.  Undoubtedly I would be involved in growing a business, I see opportunity all around and the creativity and vision of being involved in projects like this is what fires me up.  Quite what that would be I’m not sure!

 

Kids free – half term at The Shard

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

London is out there. Somewhere. A drizzly outlook at The View from The Shard

I’ve got vertigo. Not surprising, 800 feet up, with London’s rooftops like a model village below. But it’s not the views. It’s the prices.

A trip up Europe’s highest building seemed an ideal half-term outing. An easy way to get a sense of London’s geography, and a truly memorable experience. I looked into prices and nearly got vertigo.

£29.95 per adult
£23.95 per child (4-15)

Quite a lot? I thought so, for a half-hour outing. Well, 40 minutes if you include the 10-minute wait in the street below, in the pouring rain.

You can book in advance, as we did. Prices then go down to £24.95 per adult, and £18.95 per child. Unfortunately, you then risk getting grim weather and poor visibility, as we did. And it’s worth visiting this half term (26 May to 1 June), when kids (up to two per paying adult) go free.

The 'real time' telescope highlights the main sights. It's a film, so doesn't rely on the weather for good visibility

We still saw most of the main sights, including the Tower of London, the ‘Gherkin’, and Tower Bridge. Whizzing from the ground to floor 33 (you then change lifts) takes an amazing, literally ear-popping, 28 seconds. Watching the lift screen count up the numbers excitingly speedily is fun. But we didn’t get those gorgeous views for miles in every direction.

So the verdict? Worth it, even in the rain. But I don’t think I’d pay nearly £150 for my family of six to visit.

Exclusive Baby Event at The Hurlingham

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

Your invitation to an exclusive event at The Hurlingham Club, 20 May

Exclusive, exciting, and packed with invaluable information for any new or about-to-get-there mum, Bump to Baby is nearly with us.

angels & urchins are very happy partners of the event, and you can find out more, below. Hope to see you there!

The best view in London?

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

Wow.

The view from the London Eye is amazing. If you’re brave enough climb the O2 Arena, then you’ll already have seen London spread out beneath you.

But what you see from the Shard is something else. From the viewing platform at the top, London is spread beneath you like a map. Tower Bridge and The Tower of London look like dinky exhibits in a model village. Canary Wharf is three miles away as the crow flies, but it looks close enough to reach out and touch. And it’s all so silent, as though you’re in an aeroplane.

Soaring views from Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard, London

The Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard, London has just opened. Here’s a picture (taken on my camera phone’s maximum zoom) from the lobby on the 35th floor. Seriously impressive, and I recommend booking in for a cup of coffee and a glass of cola with the children to enjoy it in comfort. Or indulging in afternoon tea. At £15 a head, it’s one of the headiest bargains in the entire city.

 

FUNharmonics Sunday 11 May

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Roald Dahl-inspired musical fun on 11 May, Royal Festival Hall, London

FUNharmonics – Noses

No, that isn’t a typo

‘Noses’ is a concert with activities for all the family, happening at the ROYAL FESTIVAL HALL, LONDON

The actual concert starts at midday (so plenty of time to enjoy a leisurely brunch, and even a lie-in if it’s your turn that Sunday), and there are free activities to enjoy from 10am.

Here’s what you’ll enjoy – Roald Dahl’s The Ant-Eater, a musical feast by Benjamin Wallfisch.

Stuart Stratford is the conductor

London Philharmonic Orchestra provides the dazzling music

It’s the second of three concerts inspired by Roald Dahl’s Dirty Beasts poems we meet dreadfully spoiled hero, Roy, and his very hungry pet ant-eater, inspired by Dahl’s tale of The Ant-Eater. We then go on to meet the whole zoo in a fantastic selection of pieces celebrating our animal friends, from Rossini’s The Thieving Magpie to John Williams’s Hedwig’s Theme from Harry Potter.Presented by CBeebies’ Chris Jarvisand featuring 80 of the country’s finest musicians, FUNharmonics concerts are the perfect introduction to the extraordinary drama and colour of orchestral music.

Come and join the party!

Throughout the day there are free musical events around the building offering a fun and interactive way-in to the concert.10.00am–2.00pm: Have a go at an orchestral instrument of your choice under expert instruction; join our music-making workshops on The Clore Ballroom, and explore Southbank Centre with our free activity sheet.1.15pm: The music continues in The Clore Ballroom – a guest ensemble of young musicians entertain with a selection of great tunes.

Tickets start from £10 – find out more HERE

Royal Opera House Family Sundays

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Royal Ballet dancer David Pickering leads a dance workshop at Family Sundays ©ROH/Sim Canetty-Clarke

London families don’t know just how lucky they are!

Acres of parks to play in, some of the world’s best museums to visit for free, child-friendly restaurants and more shops than you could browse in a year. I challenge anyone to find a city that’s more family-friendly, anywhere in the world.

Take the Royal Opera House. On the last Sunday of every month (excluding December) families get the chance to discover more about opera and ballet in a fun-packed day. There are masses of exciting and creative activities available, led by dancers and musicians, and might include:- The opportunity to join in fun, interactive singing or dance activities.
- Informal performances from Royal Ballet dancers, Jette Parker Young Artists and Musicians
- Live make-up or stage combat demonstrations.
- Costume dressing up area.
- Design activities led by a professional set designer.
- Backstage Tours (available with Event + Tour tickets only)

These activities run throughout the day from 12 – 4pm. Last entry is 3pm. A number of tickets are available to buy on the day.
Tickets are £5 for adults and £3 for children.

Activities are suitable for children aged six and over, and all children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

Find out more here - and see you there this Sunday.