Valentines Mansion

Cooking pretend food in the Valentines kitchens.

Valentines Mansion is open today for Open House weekend, but it’s also open every Tuesday and Sunday from 11am-3pm (check here for updated opening times).

And it’s free.

I mention it because it’s definitely one of the best equipped old-house-type places I’ve ever been to for young children, making it a good option for a rainy Sunday. And surely we are going to have some of those this Autumn… Continue reading “Valentines Mansion”


New swimming pool!

My toddler is (nearly) swimming like a fish

One of the best things that’s happened this year is seeing my two-year-old change from someone who didn’t seem to care for swimming to someone who loves it, and is confident in the water. Weirdly, the process began when we stopped going to swimming lessons, and started to swim regularly with her friends. She went from clinging onto mummy to leaping into the water, laughing and smiling.

We usually swim at the London Aquatics Centre, but in the post-Olympics glow, a couple of times we’ve found sessions to be full at weekends when we’ve come to book.

It was a blessing in disguise because it got us to try the new Poplar baths, which recently reopened after being closed for more than 30 years.

It’s been completely refurbished. Everything is clean and new, and it’s great for toddlers.

Continue reading “New swimming pool!”

Free Sing-and-Sign tasters this week (and more ways to learn baby signing)

Just a quick post to let you know about free Sing-and-Sign baby sign language taster sessions that are happening in various East London locations over the next week, including tomorrow in the Isle of Dogs and next Thursday in Dalston. Click here and select ‘special events/tasters’ from the drop-down menu. You have to book but the sessions are free.

I found baby signing amazingly useful with my older child (see here for my experience of baby signing) and we did a term of Sing and Sign, which was really fun to go to with a baby, with songs that helped to learn the signs while entertaining everyone.

However, Sing & Sign isn’t free (though the tasters are) and if you want to do baby signing you definitely don’t have to do a paid class. Here are some other ideas if a class isn’t for you – or if you want to mix and match:

Continue reading “Free Sing-and-Sign tasters this week (and more ways to learn baby signing)”

Places to enjoy Autumn in East London

Autumn colour in West Ham Park

It’s happened again! September is upon us, which for me always means anxiety dreams about arriving at school late and teaching a class I haven’t prepared for (even this year, when I’m full time with a baby and toddler, no school uniforms in sight).

But acers in the local parks are turning incredible sweet-shop neon, conkers are fattening up and the plane trees are clogging the pavements with super-crunchy fallen leaves. Return to school aside, I love Autumn and I think it’s one of the best times to get outdoors in London.

I know there are lots of obvious ways to enjoy Autumn, including many amazing parks (see Aline’s round up of parks within striking distance of East London). But here are a few more I’m excited about: Continue reading “Places to enjoy Autumn in East London”

Disney classics? Yes, please.


A few weeks ago, my toddler and I sat through our first full length film at the cinema (Finding Dorey). We were supposed to be sharing the popcorn, but mummy wasn’t really allowed any. That small gripe aside it was really nice to know we could see a film together, especially with the prospect of (boo) the long sunny days eventually leaving us.

So I was really excited to see that Stratford Picturehouse has a season called ‘Vintage Sundays’ and, for the next five weeks, they’re showing a Disney classic at 3.45pm.

Continue reading “Disney classics? Yes, please.”

Life’s an urban beach.

‘Britain’s Copacabana’

Despite some extravagant claims on its website (‘Here comes the sun’ and ‘Britain’s Copacabana’), Beach East really is quite like going to the beach at a normal UK seaside resort: some sand, some pricey fairground rides and unreliable weather. And it has the added advantage of a really big paddling pool.

So, could be worth a trip if your toddler is into sand and paddling! Continue reading “Life’s an urban beach.”

Ted in Space at the Planetarium

Ted in Space (image from Planetarium website)

Our first trip to the Planetarium was a lot of fun and pretty much perfect for a toddler-plus-baby audience (unlike our badly planned Astronomy Centre trip a few months ago).

We went to see Space Safari, a half hour show aimed at under-7s. This show has been on since 2013, so maybe you’ve already seen it. If you haven’t, it’s a good rainy day out for small space enthusiasts.

Without giving too many spoilers, the show features beautiful, glowing images of the solar system, with a weird floating teddy bear that looks like it was drawn in a 90s computer programme. There’s a simple story about searching for Ted’s friend and songs (sung sweetly but often incomprehensibly by schoolchildren). The balance of hard space facts and where’s-the-bear? worked well for the child audience.

The show has live narration by an astronomer who was really good at meeting the needs of toddlers on our visit – for example, starting by getting everyone used to the immersive experience of being under a dome-shaped screen by giving a light show one colour at a time, gently getting the audience used to it being ‘really dark’… His language was simple and he asked a few audience-participation questions. He was also available to answer individual questions after the show. Continue reading “Ted in Space at the Planetarium”