Elderflower Cordial

Elderflower in Hackney Marshes

London’s many elderflowers are in full, joyous bloom right now and the heady, musky-sweet smell fills the air in any wild or open space.

For once, this is a scent you really can bottle and maybe even save for winter, to remind you of these sunny days.

Elderflower (perhaps unlike blackberries!) is a child-friendly plant to forage: no thorns, and some of the blooms often grow at child height (though if your child is very small you you might want to give them a boost, to avoid dog-pee height!).

A pair of child-friendly scissors might be a helpful addition to your foraging bag, as the stems can be tough to snap for small hands. Continue reading “Elderflower Cordial”


Lee Valley Nature Reserve

20180519_13581839141753.jpgEvery time we cycle to Hackney Marshes we find something new (to us).

This time it was this gem of a nature reserve, hidden away across a footbridge from the Lee Valley Waterworks centre.

It’s an easy, traffic-free cycle along towpaths or through parks from neighbouring Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Newham. Here’s a map. It’s certainly hidden away, so following signs to Lee Valley Visitor Centre is probably the best way to find it… the bridge  into the reserve is just opposite the cafe.

Ceramic signs in the nature reserve

The nature reserve is beautifully designed to nurture wildlife and charm children at the same time. There are pretty ceramic brick signs hidden in the grass, showing children what they can search for nearby. Continue reading “Lee Valley Nature Reserve”

Where to share pre-loved clothes, toys and more

Earth Day is coming up on 22nd April and this year’s theme is reducing plastic pollution. Bringing up children seems to involve a LOT of stuff, much of it only used for a few short months and often made of plastic.

Daffodils in TH Cemetery Park

Happily, there are some simple solutions that can save money and the environment at the same time.

Are you looking to pass on what you don’t need any more to a good home, or to pick up things you do need at a more affordable price?

Beyond charity shops, here are some great places to get and/or give away baby clothes, furniture, toys and more in East London.

Happy Earth Day, everyone!

Continue reading “Where to share pre-loved clothes, toys and more”

Real Nappies & East London Sling Meet

Want to find out more about using slings and baby carriers, or ‘real’ (reusable) nappies, or both?
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Friday 9th March, Real Nappies at the East London Sling Meet, 9.30-12.30, The Cafe at St Paul’s, St Paul’s Churchyard, EC4M 8 London.

You can find out more about real nappies and other upcoming events here.

Here’s more info about the Sling Meet: Continue reading “Real Nappies & East London Sling Meet”

Make your own recycled crayons

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The weather is even colder than last time I posted, so if the winter sunshine isn’t enough to keep you outdoors, here’s another indoor art-materials activity.

If you’ve stubs and bits of broken wax crayon, here’s a super easy, exciting recycling project that toddlers can do most of themselves.

It’s also one of those transformations that creates something so delightful it seems much more than the sum of its parts. The homemade crayons would also make great gifts, if you could bear to part with them.

You need: Continue reading “Make your own recycled crayons”

Homemade Blackboard

Chalkboard paint

Here’s a fun project that instantly provides a new kids’ art area and hours (years!) of fun. The first post of a mini-series for these cold, damp days about arty indoors stuff.

If you’ve a patch of wall or cupboard door you don’t mind sacrificing, all you need is a tin of blackboard paint. Otherwise, you can make your own blackboard and put it up somewhere.

Chalk drawing is nice and communal, easily cleaned off surfaces and children with a plain damp cloth and is environmentally friendly (no disposable plastics, no paper waste). What’s not to like?

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Homemade MDF chalkboard attached to the end of a kitchen unit

You need: Continue reading “Homemade Blackboard”

Springfield Park and cafe

This is my new favourite destination for family cycle rides.

Springfield Park cafe

If you’re coming through the Olympic Park from Bow or Hackney Wick, you can carry on up to Springfield Park entirely off-road on lovely, flat paths.

Exit from the North of the Olympic Park and there’s a variety of routes, along the Lee navigation channel or beside the River Lee and across Hackney Marshes and Walthamstow Marshes.

The Marshes (which I’ve posted abput before) have big expanses of sky and a scruffily wild feel that feels like entering a new landscape, even though they’re crisscrossed with an urban veinage of busy waterways and giant pipes.

Which is quite a contrast to the feel cycling on the other side of the Olympic Park… Though my 3-year-old is convinced that the Greenway is a “country road” and that these are mountains. Continue reading “Springfield Park and cafe”