Posted in gallery

Diane Arbus at Hayward Gallery, Southbank

Back on the May bank holiday we had and a lovely family visit to the Hayward Gallery on London’s Southbank for the last day of the wonderful Diane Arbus “In the beginning” exhibition. 

I was intrigued to see her work as she has one of those names I’ve heard a thousand times but yet wasn’t very familiar with her photography. So took the lads for an afternoon on the Southbank (gone are the days of Bank Holiday’s spent in pub beer gardens – right?)

With our Art Fund pass (highly recommend; very much worth the investment for those of us counting pennies on mat leave) tickets were a reasonable £7 each – the same as two cups of tea in their cafe (where, incidentally, there is a lovely long sofa, perfect for breastfeeding). 

Decided to take the wee man in his sling – definitely easier for negotiating the warren that is the Southbank Centre, which brings new meaning to the term brutalism for any mum’s with prams! (Though, I was told by a v helpful security guard that step-free access was available via the Royal Festival Hall and car park). 

Staff at the gallery were super-friendly and helpful; as soon as we stepped into the exhibition someone approached to show us where the lift was (Diane Arbus was on the top floor) – a thoughtful gesture – though took the stairs as got to squeeze in some exercise where I can! 

Not sure if the wee man had unusually discerning taste for 6 months or if he was simply enjoying the smiles of his fellow Arbus fans but as soon as we started making our way round, he started squealing like a stuck pig. I veered between feeling waves of love and waves of embarrassment; dashing in and out of the space depending on which emotion was taking over. Eventually the big man pointed out that no-one cared and in fact, some were actually enjoying his exuberance. 

Maybe it is fitting that we felt so comfortable and welcome viewing an exhibition by a celebrated photographer whose pictures beautifully capture ordinary people going about their day-to-day lives; but I don’t always feel like that with the wee one in tow. The only downside to the experience was that the baby-changing facilities were a little hard to find (they are in the far toilet next to the cloakroom on the ground floor) with signs demonstrating inclusivity – great) – but no clear sign for which loo offers a changing table – not great if you’re handling a small, wriggling baby with a stinky nappy. 

Hayward in a nutshell

Cost ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Obviously it depends on the exhibition you’re going to see, but £7 with an Art Pass seems reasonable

Accessibility ⭐️⭐️
Bring a sling if you can – the Southbank is a warren. Lifts are accessible via Royal Festival Hall and the car park, apparently.  

Facilities ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Baby changing is available on the ground floor (far toilet) but could do with being sign-posted

Feeding friendly ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Grab the sofa and your golden. 

General vibes ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Loved it, a great afternoon out with both the big and wee lads with lovely gallery-goers and staff.

Posted in exercise, outdoors

Brockwell Lido

Making a splash with a MotherCulture ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Summer isn’t summer in London without a visit to a Lido. Having always liked to swim in warm water I was a reluctant Lido visitor but my husband loves it and over the years, I’ve learned to too. I was six months pregnant in the heat of summer last year, which was pretty unpleasant and so Brockwell Lido was the go to place for my whale-like body. No doubt the ripples could be felt for days after I had taken a dip!

We went this past weekend on what was the hottest day of this “summer” (!) to date. Now anyone who goes regularly knows that as soon as the sun comes out, half of London has the same idea to go so getting there early is a must.  We decided to coincide with the morning nap so as we queued, baby slept. Note the queue was long at 8.45am and we actually queued for 40 minutes. For coffee aficionados, the cafe doesn’t open until 9am so if you need coffee to fuel the queuing, always good to remember. When we finally got in, we discovered that there was only one card machine and if you had cash there was a much shorter queue. So tips #1 and #2: go early and bring cash. Entrance is £6 per adult and free for babies and free if you have membership to the Fusion Gym/Swim at Brockwell.

We found a shady patch on the decking to the right of the pool. It seemed to be the family corner and loads of people had the same idea so if you go any later, I would take some kind of sun shade with you just in case.

Despite the sun the pool was still pretty chilly and it took me a while to pluck up the courage to go in. My husband and I tag teamed it so that while one of us swam, the other was concentrating on entertaining the tiny dictator. We brought a play mat and toys and he was happy the whole time we were there, especially given there was so much people watching to do. Given the temperature of the water, we decided not to take him in the water as I only brought trunks and neither of us were ready to deal with a meltdown. Tip #3: bring warm swimwear for babies.

After our swim, we went for brunch at the Lido cafe. It’s not always easy to get a table there and you can’t book in advance but we got lucky. It’s busy so don’t expect the quickest service but the staff bent over backwards to help us and to give us a suitable breakfast for the little one. Like every hipster these days he had avocado and sourdough and loved it. They have high chairs and there are baby changing facilities in the main pool building.

All in all we had the best morning, managing to both get some exercise in and a bit of sun without upsetting any routine. I had been slightly dreading it thinking that the Lido wasn’t the most baby friendly place but we loved it and next to us there was a lovely lady who was there with her 6 week old baby: inspiration for everyone!

In a nutshell

Cost – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Not too expensive given the Lido can be a whole day acitivity.

Accessibility – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Easy access – pram or sling.

Facilities – ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Baby changing facilities easy to find, nothing glamorous and as with public pools can be a little dirty but fine on the whole.

Feeding friendly – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Only issue is seating (there is none) and we always find it easier with back support 😂

General vibes – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Very family friendly, holiday like spirit.

Posted in event, theatre

Baby Broadway, West Norwood

Taking on board a Granny’s opinion, a MotherCulture ⭐️⭐️⭐️/ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

“We didn’t have that when you were a baby”, has become Granny’s favourite phrase since the wee man was born. Sometimes she’s referring to the ever-growing pile of baby accessories we have accumulated (she’s particularly enamoured by the shnuggle bath – “so simple, but so clever”), but more often than not she’s talking about the various baby events I take the wee man to. 

So when she came down from Scotland to visit her grandson (she claims she wants to see me too but she’s fooling no one), it seemed only right to treat her to the entertainment she had been deprived of when we were young. 

Holly had heard good things about Baby Broadway, so quicker than you can say “there’s no business like show business” – and despite fairly pricey £11.90 tickets (including booking fee on Hoop) – I booked the three of us, plus babes, to their event at the Old Fire Station in West Norwood. 

‘Organised’ was the first word that came to mind when we walked through the doors of this lovely old building. No sooner had we stepped over the threshold than a woman wearing a Baby Broadway name tag was ticking our names off a list and showing us to a room where prams were to be left. With everything on one floor, the baby changing facilities too, were very clearly sign-posted and we settled down for a quick feed before the doors opened. Granny was already impressed. 

We settled in the front row of the theatre (a novelty in itself, I’m more used to buying tickets for the west end in the Gods), leaving the floor space – kitted with play-mat and cushions – for more mobile toddlers. 

And it got off to a promising start; one of the two performers singing the house-keeping rules in a humorous and helpful tune.   But then it seemed to fall a little flat. Don’t get me wrong, the two performers were brilliant – great singing voices, giving it their all. It’s just that despite their best efforts, it never really seemed to take off. 

I’m no Broadway aficionado admittedly but I barely recognised any of the tunes and attempts at audience participation received a lukewarm response. I guess that’s to be expected when you’re singing to a bunch of sleep-deprived parents and their babbling babes. 

That being said, we all gave it some gusto for the Sound of Music’s “Do-Re-Mi” while “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” from my childhood favourite, Mary Poppins, had us all on our feet and babes on outstretched arms, soaring above our heads.
For another song – I think it was about a train – we all joined in something resembling a conga; Granny keeping a dignified distance. Bubbles and a puppet also made an appearance but though the singers specifically stated the show was “all about the music” we thought that a little more could have been done visually. 

The show came to an end with Take That’s “Relight My Fire” (a slightly odd choice we thought)  but at least all the parents seemed to enjoy the 90s throwback.
Once home, cup of tea and a slice of cake in hand, Granny observed how animated and stimulated the wee man has been by the whole experience; smiling and babbling away to us despite being long overdue a nap. And that, is surely the point, despite my reservations it was an undeniable hit with the little people it was aimed at – and you can’t argue with that. 

Cost ⭐️⭐

A️ccessibility ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Facilities ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Feeding friendly ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

General vibes ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Posted in cinema, day out

Luna Kids Cinema, Dulwich Park

A solid MotherCulture ⭐️⭐️⭐️ / ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

On an unusually hot day earlier this month,  Rosie and I took our boys – big and small – with picnics at the ready, to see the Dumbo remake at the Luna Kids Cinema event in Dulwich Park.

Obviously, with the boys still only being little and not equipped with the most discerning film tastes, this was less about enjoying the movie and more about the experience as a whole.

Now when we say it was hot, it was around 26 degrees and there were no obvious shady areas to sit. 

There were tents housing a “big kids bar” (£6.50 for a Prosecco – not cheap – but don’t mind if I do), a changing area (equipped with WaterWipes) and a storage area for bean bags (an additional £7, on top of the £13.50 admission) but none for families attempting to escape the heat – save for a unused pram park at the very back and a fair distance from the screen. 

Ever the masters of ingenuity, we had the idea of creating a shady area between the prams by strapping together our snoozeshades (a mum staple of both of ours). And voila, the boys had a shady area to sit in and we, well, we were left to turn to lobsters in the glorious heat. 

The security lady asked us more than once to move the prams to the side so as not to block anyone’s view. A perfectly reasonable request you might level, except we had already taken ourselves off to the side, with that very thought in mind while other families had parked themselves on view-blocking chairs, bang in front of the screen, seemingly undisturbed. With no one directly behind us anyway, she eventually let it go. 

Not that it really mattered anyway, the sun was so bright, we could barely see the screen and what with sorting lunchtime and play time for the boys, we didn’t catch much of the film. We noted though that families with older children were deeply engrossed, while we fannied about, stage left. 

Despite the lack of shade, the facilities were great. They even provided mini high chairs for babies – perfect for picnics – as well as microwaves for heating meals and milk, demonstrating impressive attention to detail. 

All in all, it was a fun afternoon (with Prosecco involved, how could it not be?) and we would definitely recommend this for families with older children (2+) but we would advise bringing all the relevant equipment to keep yourselves out of the sun if, for once, summer decides to make an appearance. 

Cost ⭐️⭐

A️ccessibility ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Facilities ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Feeding friendly ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

General vibes ⭐️⭐️