Parks! Parks! Parks!

London has some wonderful parks. We’re lucky enough to have Victoria Park, the Olympic Park and Mile End park just a short walk away. I’m not going to write about them here but, as you probably already know, you can spend the whole day in each of these, especially the first two when it’s hot and the water parks are open.

These three local parks are fantastic, but that doesn’t stop me getting a bit bored of them and wanting a change of scene, every now and again. So here are a few other suggestions if you ever feel the same. After all, we need to prepare ourselves for a gorgeous Spring and wonderful Summer when we’re outdoors all day, every day… don’t we? Continue reading “Parks! Parks! Parks!”

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Not one but two ride on miniature railways

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The miniature railway at Bekonscot model village

Bust my buffers! The original Thomas the Tank Engine books are a less than a riveting read, aren’t they? I have a feeling they’ll nevertheless continue to be demanded nightly after not one, but two visits to ride on miniature railways recently, which only seem to fuel the Thomas obsession.

These two trips take you a little further afield if, like me, you live in East London. But perhaps you live closer or, again like me, can fit in these toddler-pleasing pit-stops en route to or from somewhere else. Alternatively, to find a miniature railway near you, click here. Continue reading “Not one but two ride on miniature railways”

Easter holiday activities in East London

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With our term-time toddler favourites closed for the Easter break, I’m looking forward to trying some of the many holiday activities that are on in the area.

Here’s half a dozen things I’d like to try. Any others you know about? Please comment and add to the list!

The Ragged School Museum, on the canal in Mile End park, is a hidden gem that is mainly aimed at school groups during term time, but puts on free family activities during the holidays. I came across their holiday session by chance last Summer and we spent ages playing in their big toddler room downstairs – lots of toys, homemade playdough and craft activities put on by lovely volunteers.

The Museum and Victorian classroom upstairs had more history-based creative fun for older children and families, including dressing-up and face painting which was accessible for younger ones too.

I’ll update when I’ve tried it, but it looks like the offer will be similar this time. Details: 10-5pm, on both Wednesdays and Thursdays in the holiday – 30th/31st March and 5th/6th April. Free entry. There’s a small cafe and the loo has a baby changer.

The Victorian Classroom

Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park is particularly beautiful at this time of year for a walk or a picnic… I think it’s the best place in London to see spring flowers.

If you have older children than me, you could also try an egg-themed foraging event on Wednesday 30th March, or pond-dipping and amphibian crafts on Wednesday 6th April, Continue reading “Easter holiday activities in East London”

Five places to eat that have a toy box

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My criteria for where to eat out or stop for a cuppa has undergone radical change since having a toddler. My interest in the quality of the food and drink has all but gone. All I want to know now is – ‘Is there a toy box?’

It happens every time. Any toy or sticker book I bring from home only ever offers about 5 minutes’ respite. But anything that’s already in the cafe/restaurant – however dirty and battered – is in comparison captivating.

Only toddlers know why.

Here are five places locally (to Bow, east London) that have a toy box and more – in fact they all have a toy corner. Find a seat next to it and, bliss, there’s a chance you might be able to sit and enjoy a cup of tea or even eat something without also having to entertain your toddler. Continue reading “Five places to eat that have a toy box”

The Cookie Jar playgroup

cropped-wp-14583320210521.jpg‘Play with LOTS of cars. Eat one biscuit,’ is Finn’s enthusiastic review of The Cookie Jar (he’d give it 5 stars if the biscuits were unlimited, but then I wouldn’t), a well-resourced parent and toddler playgroup at Bow Baptist Church.

I like The Cookie Jar too, for slightly different reasons. It’s definitely up there on my (new but growing) list of good places to take a toddler and a newborn… a safe, friendly space with lots to entertain Finn if I need to sit and breastfeed with only half an eye on him, and baby activities for when Little B is a bit older. What’s more,  there’s tea, coffee (caffeine is a major priority for me at the moment) and biscuits on hand for adults. It’s also the kind of place where someone will offer to bring you a cup of tea if you have your hands full.

Continue reading “The Cookie Jar playgroup”

A weekend in Margate

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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

Continue reading “A weekend in Margate”

Toddlers’ cinema

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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).

Continue reading “Toddlers’ cinema”