A weekend in Margate

My toddler enjoyed pottering on the beach. We could have stayed there all day if the weather had been warmer.

Since having a baby, I have become one of the least adventurous people in the world. I blame it on a nightmarish holiday early on in my daughter’s life when I considered bolting every single day. The train station called out to me insistently – I was desperate to get home even if it meant leaving my baby and other half behind.

That long, tortuous week put me off traveling entirely. It taught me there’s no holiday from being a mum – and, for me anyway, it’s a whole lot easier to entertain your kid at home where there are so many things to do and so many places to go.

So having JUST BEEN AWAY FOR THE WEEKEND, I thought I should at least write a post about it – because it was actually totally bearable. I even caught myself enjoying a few moments.

We went to Margate because it met my strict criteria of:

  • Being close
  • Being by the sea
  • Having toddler-friendly things to do

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Toddlers’ cinema

E.T. – the best film ever. Or so I thought at the time

I vividly remember my first proper trip to the cinema. I went to see E.T. at the Odeon with my big brothers on – I think – Boxing Day, 1982 (I realise I am giving my age away there). They then bought me an E.T. mask from Woolworths, which I wore for most of the following year.

Thankfully, I haven’t seen E.T. since, so the spell it had over me is unbroken (someone told me it was really boring if you watch it as an adult, but I refuse to believe it).

I loved my first experience of cinema and I still love it now – even though I hardly ever go (sob!). I can’t remember the last time I sat stuffing my face with popcorn. We didn’t even manage baby cinema for reasons that are lost in the sleep deprived haze of early motherhood.

I can’t wait for my toddler to be able to sit down long enough to watch a whole film, but I don’t think it’ll be for a while yet. About 30 minutes is her limit – even when I made it very clear that Mummy wanted to watch Paddington.

Just before Christmas, we had our first cinema trip together, though.We went to see ‘The Snowman’ at the Stratford Picturehouse, which was showing as part of Toddler Time. Quite a few Picturehouses have a Toddler Time – a showing that’s exclusively for pre-school children (and their parents).

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Looking forward to Spring

Magnolia in bloom. Photo from Kew

I love Spring and, despite the recent dismal weather, there are signs it’s only just round the corner. The daffodils are out, the magnolia is in bloom, there are crocuses pushing their way through the grass…

… If only it wasn’t so bloomin’ freezin’.

To cheer myself up, I’ve been putting together a list of places to go with my toddler as soon as the glorious Spring of my imagination starts (and is quickly followed by a sweltering Summer).

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Handa’s Hen


Handa’s Hen (photo from Half Moon Theatre site)

I’m excited!” (Not me, my toddler). This outburst, accompanied by jumping up and down, occurred this afternoon as we went down the steps at Limehouse DLR station. She knew we were heading for the Half Moon theatre. And, actually, maybe I was excited too. I’m really pleased about her enthusiasm for going to theatre and I hope it lasts.

Our first trip was shortly after her second birthday, and we’ve been maybe four or five times in total. This afternoon, it was Handa’s Hen, a Little Angel theatre production that’s touring the country and will be at Stratford Circus in 17-19 March 2016 (get tickets!), then at the Little Angel theatre for a longer run.

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Paradise Wildlife Park

You get a really good view of the animals at Paradise Wildlife Park

Seeing wild animals in captivity isn’t to everyone’s taste, but there’s no doubt kids love having the chance to get close to the incredible creatures they see in their storybooks. Every morning, my toddler asks to see cheetahs and snow leopards on my phone. I’m pretty sure her interest was sparked by a visit to Paradise Wildlife Park.

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The Way Back Home: brilliant inspiration for imaginative play

The Way Back Home
The Way Back Home (pic from Foyles)

This has been one of Finn’s favourites ever since he was given it for a Christmas present. But I particularly wanted to write about The Way Back Home by Oliver Jeffers, because of the amount of imaginative play it has inspired.

Maybe it’s the simple but compelling story, or the simple but compelling illustrations, or the fact that it features a plane, a spaceship, the moon AND monsters… but something about it has really stuck in Finn’s head just at the age when he’s starting to make up stories as part of his play, and he is constantly recreating (or asking us to recreate) parts of The Way Back Home. Continue reading “The Way Back Home: brilliant inspiration for imaginative play”

Toddler Time on the Cutty Sark

Cutty Sark
The Cutty Sark (Cutty Sark museum pic)

Wednesdays at 10 – 11.30 am during term time is ‘Toddler Time’ on board the Cutty Sark. Finn (2) and I visited recently with a friend and her 1-year-old and enjoyed a lovely, child-centred story and play session led by two facilitators, followed by as long as we liked to explore the ship – all for £5 for the adult, free for the toddlers. Continue reading “Toddler Time on the Cutty Sark”