Posts Tagged ‘Treats for teenies’

Mine are going ape!

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

We're all going a little bananas this far into the summer holiday

It’s been such an amazing summer, weather-wise, we didn’t know what to do with ourselves once it started to rain.

So we headed to Gambado, the indoor play centre. Noisy, busy,  but we got there at opening time and almost survived until lunchtime. And where, in time-honoured play-with-the-box-not-the-toy fashion, the boys spent most of their time peering out of a Weetabix hoarding.

Can’t pretend it didn’t suit them.


Coolest Bugaboo EVER auction

Saturday, August 9th, 2014

Have you seen the Cameleon³ Blondie edition pushchairs? Sooo cool, in an iconic Andy Warhol print of Debbie Harry.

Three are being auctioned on eBay (find our more here) with 100% of proceeds going to Kids Company, to help their work supporting vulnerable inner-city children.

The auction will take place over three weeks, starting on Monday 11 August. One pushchair is up for grabs each week:

The first pushchair:                    11th – 15th August

The second pushchair:             18th – 22nd August

The third pushchair:                  25th – 29th August

Head to for your chance to help Kids Company.

Imperial War Museum

Friday, August 1st, 2014

We are huge fans of the Imperial War Museum

Permanent exhibitions here are free to visit, and it’s a family friendly museum that genuinely has a lot to offer parents and children. It recently re-opened after a £40million re-vamp, and as regular visitors we were counting down the days. There is just so much to see there, whether you simply want to marvel at powerful machines, read up on poignant first-hand accounts from soldiers, or try on child-sized uniforms.

The new Norman Foster-designed atrium is impressive (or ‘awesome’, according to one of my sons). It’s four storeys of heavy metal depicting war in all its power – you’ll see missiles, jets, and even a boat bravely chugging towards Dunkirk.

In this centenary year, we were especially keen on visiting the WW1 Galleries. I wanted to spend longer reading, but the children were keen to get back to the tanks downstairs. Sadly, the trench recreations have been scaled back. One of our favourite places to visit, you really got a sense of the hell of trench warfare through the grim smells and realistic sound effects. Less terrifying now, and prettier on the eye, we miss the smellier, darker version.

There are free daily activities throughout the summer until 3 September. Plus a Peyton & Byrne café serving excellent coffee and cakes.


Imperial War Museum
Lambeth Rd, SE1 6HZ
Tel: 020 7416 5320

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.


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.

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.


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.

50 Things Before You’re 11 3/4s

Saturday, May 24th, 2014

It’s going to be a busy summer…

I’ve just taken a look at The National Trust’s 50 Things to do before you’re 11 & 3/4s. Lots of inspiration to get muddy, closer to nature, and generally get out and about in our glorious great outdoors. The website lists loads of sensible, fun things to do, and most of them easy to achieve: go on a really long bike ride, climb a tree and build a den. Most can be done in London, including visiting a farm and playing with conkers.

Here’s the full list - how many has your family ticked off?