Posted in outdoors, tour

Bring your baby guided walks

Ever wondered which famous London market provided the backdrop for the magical Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter films? Did you know the inspiration for Charles Dickens’ memorable character, Miss Havisham, was allegedly a London iron-monger who went from dandy to grieving down-and-out after his fiancé died on the eve of their wedding? These are just some of  the fun facts you will learn on Lucy Madison’s fabulous Bring Your Baby “Dickensian Alleyways of the Old City” guided walk. 

Lucy, a former primary school teacher turned tour guide, started Bring Your Baby guided tours back in June; providing parents of under-2s with the perfect opportunity to swap pounding the local park for a brain-nourishing cultural adventure through some of the city’s most historic streets. 

Not only does Lucy entertain and inform with her encyclopaedic knowledge and quirky historical facts, she’s tailored her tour to meet your parenting needs; going at your pace and pausing for baby changing or feeding as needed. There’s even a scheduled coffee-break halfway through at a local pub. 

Lucy also has the patience of a saint so if your little angel happens to be the one screaming for a rice-cake, Lucy will happily tell you what you missed as you rummage in your tardis of a pram for said snack.

Dickens doesn’t do it for you? Lucy offers other tours including two inspired by nursery rhymes where you can learn about the origins of old favourites like Three Blind Mice and the Grand Old Duke of York, while immersing yourself in London’s rich history. She’s also doing weekend dates so working mums and dads don’t have to miss out! Check out the Hoop app for more information and dates through September and October. 

Cost ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

£12 per adult (kids are free) and a well worth every penny. 

Accessibility ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Pram or sling, there are no hard to navigate staircases. 

Facilities ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Numerous opportunities and quiet spots along the route to feed and change and a scheduled stop halfway.  

Feeding friendly ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Plenty of opportunity for babies on boob or bottle to be fed. 

General vibes ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A lovely way to while away a couple of hours while soaking in this brilliant city’s rich history. 

Posted in day out, Days out, outdoors

Children’s Garden, Kew Gardens

Our lovely friend @sciencemama has given us the review below as our first guest contributor. Please see link at the bottom to the full review on her blog, which is well worth a read.

“Can we go to the playground?” I have to admit that my heart sinks a bit when I hear this request. After three years of trying to maintain a convincingly enthusiastic “wheeeeee!” whilst pushing a swing for what feels like an eternity, I think I have hit park saturation point.

The new Children’s Garden at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew is the perfect antidote to playground boredom. This thoughtfully designed space is the size of 40 tennis courts, and is built amongst 100+ mature trees. It’s divided into four areas based on the elements: the fantastic Water Garden with paddling pool and pumps, tunnel slides and a hut village in the Earth Garden, trampolines and hammocks are scattered across the Air Garden and the Sun Garden is perfect for picnics. For older kids there’s an ambitious log scramble leading to a 5 metre tall tower.

Top tip: enthusiastic splashers may require a swim nappy and change of clothes! Sand and water toys would add even more fun for little people.

Cost ⭐️⭐️⭐️

It’s expensive. £16.50 for adults, £4.50 for kids ages 4-16 (under-4s go free). It’s best to book in advance to avoid missing out.

Accessibility ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Kew Gardens is fully accessible with a buggy.

Facilities ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The White Peaks building next door has food, ice cream and basic baby change facilities.

Feeding Friendly ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

No dedicated feeding area but there’s plenty of seating and quiet corners for privacy.

General vibes ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This is a very family friendly attraction and the booking system prevents overcrowding.

The Children’s Garden at Kew

Posted in cafe, day out, outdoors

Hackney City Farm

Our days are now narrated by poor impersonations of farmyard animals as we “oink, oink” and “baa, baa” to the wee man’s great amusement.  And so I was inspired to take a trip down memory lane and visit Hackney City Farm. A trip down memory lane because when I lived in east London, HCF used to be the backdrop to many a hungover gossip session – over eggs and bacon –  between me and my mates as we dissected the night before.

A near 10 years has passed since, but I’m pleased to report that the Farm still holds a special place in my heart and is, of course, great for kids big and small. Any visit has to start with a good breakfast and the food in the farm cafe is still top notch; predictably I had the sausage sandwich (I do eat other things, honest) and it did not disappoint. I was also delighted to find that they have upgraded the toilets from the tiny and always grubby outdoor loo to a new indoor WC, complete with baby changing unit.

We loved wandering round the farm too. Giant pigs, plucky hens, a rowdy cockerel, delightful donkeys and a few sheep to over enthusiastically point to and say “baa, baa” at repeatedly – what’s not to love?! The wee man loved staring at creatures he had only seen in Melissa & Doug form before and let’s be honest, what adult doesn’t love looking at an animal or two? My husband still marvels at the size of the pigs!

The farm shop is also worth a visit with delicious fruit and veg available and all packaging free – enabling you to do your grocery shopping without a guilty conscience.

All in all a lovely couple of hours, finished off with a quick mooch down Colombia Road … on the one day we decided to take the pram. Top tip? Bring the sling if you can. You can’t get very far through the glorious flower market with our monster Uppababy … though we did still enjoy browsing the shops and the man with his bike basket full of miniature dogs was a definite highlight. Only in east London, eh?!

Cost ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The farm itself is free and the restaurant prices are good – £4.95 for a sausage sandwich on granary bread. They also do children’s meals though the choice is limited

Accessibility ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The farm and cafe are both easily accessible with a pram but top tip; if you want to combine your visit with stroll down Colombia Road flower market – bring a sling

Facilities ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I mean, it’s a farm, so it’s never going to be glamorous but it does the trick.

Feeding friendly ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Absolutely. This place is full of families so you’re unlikely to feel self-conscious. Grab the sofa if you can!

General vibe ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A lovely afternoon out for big and little kids, alike.

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.