Do you have a superhero?

Are you free on Wednesday or Thursday mornings, and are you somewhere near the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park? Do you have a small superhero (age 3-7) who needs a run about?

If so, you might be interested in the Our Parks Superhero Fitness session (it’s free). I’ve written about Our Parks ages and ages ago (here) but, briefly, there are a whole range of fitness classes on offer across several London boroughs. I’ve attended some myself locally and got a brilliant work out for free in the fresh air.

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Proof that robins are bravest

I’ve been reluctant to put up bird feeders in the past because of the presence in our household of an ageing but wiley cat who, after barely moving through winter, comes back to life in Spring at the sound of baby birds tweeting.

But then I saw these feeders that you attach directly to your window, removing any possibility of the cat being able to intercept any feathered visitors on route. With great excitement, my three-year-old and I attached it to the window, filled it with a bird banquet, and waited…

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Let there be light!

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Photo from last year’s festival

My toddler and I have loved looking at the twinkling Christmas lights in the local area and there was something a little sad when they all come down during the first week of January (“Why do the lights have to go, mum? I want it to be Christmas for nine years”). We miss them, so thank goodness for the Canary Wharf Winter Lights festival, which starts on Monday (16 January).

We went last year and it made for a nice evening adventure (although as it’s dark by 4pm you can visit late afternoon instead). This year, there are 30 art installations around Canary Wharf and, judging by the photos on the website and the leaflet, they look great!

I have a feeling that Angels of Freedom (which involves hunting for the five angels and becoming an angel yourself) is going to appeal to my little one. The Cathedral of Mirrors, which responds to people’s movements, also sounds like a crowd-pleaser.

The great thing about this event is that it appeals to people of all ages. We’ll be putting the baby in the sling so she can enjoy it too. And if we don’t manage all 30 exhibits on our first visit we’ll be back.

The festival runs from Monday 16-Friday 27 January 4-9pm. You can download a map here and plan your route. Oh and, best of all – after Christmas – it’s free.

Paddling and splashing!

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The paddling pool at West Ham Park.

At last… At long last… The chance to complain about being too hot, instead of it being too rainy or too cold or too something else. This weekend has been all about being outdoors in the park and the paddling pool (as well as doing battle with sun cream and hats and unwilling toddlers).

Here are two parks I’ve posted about before, but without previously having tried out their very fine paddling pools.

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Highbury Fields forever…

Phew – it was boiling this weekend and I think the hot sticky weather is set to stay for a little while longer.

If like me you spend a lot of time in Victoria Park, the Olympic Park and Mile End Park, you might find the post about parks I wrote a few weeks back useful. You’ll find six alternative suggestions of places to spend a sunny day – some even have paddling pools or other water-based play.

And here’s another option.

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Valentines Park

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Valentines Mansion (photo: valentines mansion.com)

If you fancy a change of scene, I can recommend Valentines Park, which includes Valentines Mansion and Gardens. I admit I’d never heard of it myself until it was recommended to me and we’ve been a couple of times recently.

I feel like I should have known about it already though – not least because it was the third placed London park in the People’s Choice Awards 2015 (our very own Vicky park has been the winner for the last two years).

It’s actually a huge park and two visits haven’t been enough to see the whole thing, but here are some highlights.

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Nine reasons to visit Hackney City Farm

Birdie, a substantial Gloucester Old Spot pig, has recently given birth to nine piglets. Count them – nine. When I saw her milk-filled teats trailing along the ground, I thought, ‘Now there’s an animal I can empathise with…’ We’re not frequent visitors to Hackney City Farm, but the new arrivals have given my toddler and I a new reason to call in. Maybe you want to say hello to this amazing family too?

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