Posted in Picks of the week

Punk Me Up Ceramics

MotherCulture has been on up and running for eight weeks and it’s got me thinking about when the wee man was the same age.

There were piles of washing everywhere, Harry Belafonte’s Banana Boat song on repeat (eight months later, it still has a weirdly calming effect on the wee man) and he seemed to be permanently attached to my boobs. 

I wasn’t venturing out much and certainly no further than my own postcode. But on one particularly blustery autumn day some NCT friends and I decided to visit Punk Me Up, a ceramics cafe on the corner of Peckham Rye Park, to get clay imprints of our babies hands and feet. 

Now, the first thing to say is that with prices starting at £60, this ain’t no cheap keepsake. When I looked at the website I must admit I thought twice about it. However, still drunk on love hormones, I decided to throw caution to the wind and go for it nonetheless. My goodness I’m glad I did.

The ladies at Punk Me Up are lovely, and had a table set up for us in the back studio of the shop (incidentally, a space where they also host a range of classes, including Monkey Music; check out their website and Instagram for more info).

There were four of us in the group, and Toni – the owner – took time to discuss with us individually the different options we could go for including paint colours, finishes etc. There are other options too; some in the group got little hand-prints on Christmas baubles (a lovely present idea for doting grandparents!) It was fun! At eight weeks, the babies were a little non-plussed as we moulded their feet and hands in to wet clay but the results were fabulous and after surviving the first – often brutal – eight weeks of motherhood, it definitely felt like a treat we all deserved.

For older kids, the main café offers a treasure trove of ceramics for creative young  minds to get busy on. Prices start at £8 for the ceramics and £3.50 for a child over £2.  I’ve been with my nine-year-old god-daughter and her big sister, who absolutely loved it; choosing their ceramics (one did a cup and saucer, the other a bowl), paint-colours and working out their designs … it was a lovely way to while away a couple of hours over coffee and cake.

Cost ⭐️⭐️⭐️

It’s not the cheapest but then neither are the results, plus you get to take home one-of-a-kind ceramics made by your little creative geniuses. Worth every penny.

Accessibility ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

There’s a pram-park outside so you don’t have to negotiate the steep step at the front.

Facilities ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Good baby changing facilities, high-chairs etc.

Feeding friendly ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This is a family focussed café, making it a comfortable place to feed.

General vibes ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A SE London family favourite!

Posted in day out, museum, Picks of the week

Horniman Museum & Gardens, Forest Hill

The Horniman has been open since the Victorian times when a Frederick John Horniman opened his house of weird and wonderful objects to visitors. The collection has since grown and now the Horniman has various collections, exhibitions, an animal walk, a butterfly house and its very own aquarium. Not to mention it’s extensive gardens, with a playground for children and an amazing view over the city.

We’ve been numerous times now and each time has been a huge hit with the tiny dictator so I wanted to outline the best bits for us in the hope it will help you when planning your trip. This breaks a little from our normal format of posts but hope it helps!

  • Aquarium (on the LG) floor is brilliant for kids and babies alike, it’s small but has plenty of amazing things for little eyes to feast on and they have little steps so that little people can stand on them and see all the activity. You have to pay separately for this if you are not a member but at £4.50 for an adult & £2.50 for kids aged 3-16 it’s worth it.
  • Butterfly Garden (located at the top of the gardens behind the animal walk) is definitely worth a visit and is yet again a feat for tiny eyes. Again you have to pay separately for this and remember to book in advance or as soon as you get to reception in the museum as there are timed entrances and it is popular. Also important to note that it has slightly different closing hours and during the winter closes at 3.30pm rather than 4.30pm. Adult entry £6 and child entry is £6.
  • Animal walk is at the top of the gardens so go past the museum itself and carry on up the pathway and you will see it diagonally to the right. This is free and a fun walk through enclosures including some gorgeous alpacas.
  • Café with highchairs and a great range of food, you can sit out or in.
  • Check in advance for what’s on on the day. We went on a Wednesday once and were immediately directed to a free storytelling session in the Hands on Base (a room where you can hold all the real objects). Wednesdays are Wonderful Wednesdays during the summer (still worth checking) and there are various free family activities on.
  • We have been to the Brick Wonders Exhibition. We loved it and visually the baby liked it, but he loved the play area more and I would say this is more for 2+ years, especially as it’s a paid for exhibition.
  • The free exhibitions are brilliant and have interactive elements so do make time for them. Don’t miss out on the infamous huge walrus taxidermy which even has its own Twitter account.
  • Horniman hold Busy Bee sessions for children under 5s which includes storytelling and singing. From 10 September that will be every Tuesday and costs £2.50. Definitely worth trying to coincide with this as much cheaper than any Hoop class we’ve found.

Hope that helps and please do tag us in any photos from your visit.

Cost ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Cost varies depending on what you want to visit. There’s plenty on to do for free (exhibitions, gardens, animal walk, free drop in activities) but we have put some costs in above and for both the butterfly house and aquarium maximum cost is £15 for an adult.

Accessibility ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Easy with pram or sling, and there is a buggy parking area on the LG floor of the museum.

Facilities ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
All the facilities you need are on the LG floor of the museum, there is baby changing in both male and female toilets (hurrah!) and a special designated feeding area (see below).

Feeding friendly ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Special designated feeding area if you want privacy on the LG floor but you can feed anywhere in the museum/gardens.

General vibes ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
As everyone told me, this is a South London gem. Brilliant fun for all the family and so family friendly.

Posted in day out, Days out, Picks of the week

MotherCulture Picks of the Week

The Great Fete, Alexandra Palace:

On Saturday 17th August, the Great Fete takes place with the same line up for food at StrEATLife (think craft beer and yummy food trucks) but with music, cinema screenings (including Peppa Pig!), ice skating, a silent disco, a playzone for under 5’s and so much more this will be a great day out for all the family. Starts at midday until 10pm and free entry it’s definitely worth a visit. Recommended to go by public transport but there is also parking on site.

Floating Market, Paddington Central:

From tomorrow until Sunday, barges along the Grand Union Canal open up their door to local vendors and there will be stalls selling food and various handmade items (candles, bags etc). There will also be live music to serenade you as you potter around. Why not make a day of it and walk to the Wallace Collection after? Free admission to the permanent collection and there is currently a Manolo Blahnik exhibition for all you fashionistas which is also free.

Urban Makers x Old Spitalfieds Market, Spitalfields

Championing Indie creatives, Urban Makers are in Spitalfields Market this Saturday from 10am to 6pm. Have a sneak peek on Instagram @urbanmakers_uk at all the beautiful things their vendors are selling! Why not combine with one of the many restaurants in Spitalfields (can you tell we like food?!)…

Beyond Retro Garage Sale, Peckham

For any vintage lovers out there we wanted to give this a mention. It’s being held in the Bussey Building from tomorrow until Sunday with new clothes added each day. Open from 10am – 6pm. Perfect mixed with a picnic lunch in Peckham Rye Park and if you have little ones who need to thrash around, the children’s playground in Peckham Rye is ace. If you fancy lunch out too, we love Pedler, Cafe G, Petitou & Andersons which are all close by (plus baby friendly, of course!)

Posted in Picks of the week

Apple Tree Children’s Café and Herne Hill

We’ve noticed of late that soft play has been getting a bit of a bad rep.  Now don’t get us wrong, we aren’t so keen on the distinct smell of sweat, the loud colours, loud noise or even the abundance of mini dictators running around like maniacs either. However, our babies are just about to turn ten months and it’s been a game changer. Long gone are the days where they would sit still playing with their toys; instead we spend our days constantly trying to keep them alive. Plugs in mouths, fingers in sockets, lamps used as aids to stand, the sofa treated as if it’s Everest to climb…you name it and it’s a hazard. Soft play has therefore been our saving grace and saves our home from complete devastation.

Now we haven’t been to the huge, over-populated ones but we have found a little gem in the Apple Tree Children’s Cafe. It has a small soft play area with a ball pit and enough space that children can thrash around in but also it’s small enough that we know our little ones won’t get trampled in an adrenalin-enthused stampede. There are also mini kitchens for the children to play with, a shop, till and a reading area. Importantly, it isn’t just aimed at the kids. There’s a lovely cafe for parents to have that much needed coffee or even a cake fix if you are in need.

They have a menu tailored to kids of all ages from weaning onwards and the staff are extremely lovely and helpful.  My mini dictator demolished a weaning platter and left various bits on the floor (we love the drop the food game at the moment!) and the staff were so relaxed about it and stopped us from trying to salvage the floor ourselves.

It’s located in Herne Hill and is a three minute walk from the station (overground). It overlooks the beautiful Brockwell Park and is in the hub of Herne Hill so why not make a morning or afternoon of it?  Have a walk too in the park and there’s plenty of choice for food.  Our favourites are: Cafe Provençal, the Half Moon Pub and if you walk just 5 minutes down the road, the Lido Cafe (see previous post for details).  All are baby friendly and have changing facilities and high chairs.

We are also in love with the enchanting Tales on Moon Lane, the sweetest children’s book shop.  They do storytelling every Thursday morning at 9.30am for free during term time.  We can’t help but buy a book each time we go and this time we bought “In the swamp by the light of the moon” by Frann Preston-Gannon. At one point the book says, “My friend…your song’s unique and important like all of the rest.  Even small voices count, so let’s hear yours – only you sing your song best”.  Amen to that.

⚠️ On Saturdays Apple Tree closes at midday and does not serve food on the menu but has a small selection of food pouches, pastries and cakes. On Sundays it is closed.

Cost ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Per Play at Apple Tree Cafe is free for 0-6 months, £3 for 6-12 months and £5 for 1 years – 5 years. They also offer a ten visit pass for £42 online for 1 years – 5 years.

Accessibility ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Easy with pram or sling, all on the same floor.

Facilities ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Baby changing facilities are available in all the cafes we have mentioned and there is buggy parking at Apple Tree.

Feeding friendly ⭐⭐⭐

Easy to feed in the cafes at the tables but don’t expect a sofa/armchair!

General vibes ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Apple Tree Children’s Café makes soft play bearable, we would go even so far as to say enjoyable. Herne Hill, though it only has a small hub has so much going for it: make a day of it and you won’t regret it!

Posted in Picks of the week

Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life – Tate Modern

In the last few weeks, Instagram seems to have been flooded with pictures of the Olafur Eliasson exhibition. That and pictures of that spotty Zara dress.  Having already been a marketing victim and bought the dress (!), it was time for a trip to the Tate Modern.

So last weekend I managed to drag my husband, the baby and my brother along too. It didn’t disappoint.  Nor did the Tate Modern itself which proved to be so baby friendly that I think I might be able to persuade my husband to go back again #winwin.

You can buy tickets when you get there but given it’s popularity, top tip #1 buy them in advance and pick a time slot that suits you and baby.  We went post morning nap and before lunch when he’s usually at his most amenable 😂. Top tip #2: go to the right part of the Tate Modern- the Blatnavik Building.   We went to Level 2 of the Boiler House, only to realise we had ventured to the wrong part of the building. By the time we finally got there, there was no queue and we went straight in. I always get a little anxious going in to an exhibition as you never know how the tiny dictator is going to behave but I immediately felt relaxed as there were lots of families with babies.  The exhibition itself was in a large space and so it’s easy to navigate with a buggy.

It was a brilliant, immersive exhibition not just for adults but for children and babies too. It was like a baby sensory class on steroids.  From moss walls, a fog room, a spiral view tunnel, rain, thunder…the exhibition invites you to experience nature and the powerful forces that govern it.  The intention is not for you to just be a spectator but for you to consider your place in the planet too, and indeed the negative role mankind are having on nature. The only part of the exhibition we avoided was the fog room, mainly because we didn’t want the babby to feel at all claustrophobic. The staff member at the entrance to this part of the exhibition was very helpful and showed us how we could navigate round it.  We did go through individually and saw lots of children happily going through it; we just didn’t want to risk it. The rest of the exhibition the baby was honestly enthralled, at one point continuously craning his neck back to look at the mirror on the ceiling.  He also loved the room of colourful shadows and was crawling along the floor whilst other children were dancing around taking in their reflections.  Top tip #3: in case of any meltdowns or any older children getting bored and wanting something more hands on, there is a brilliant interactive table at the end of the exhibit with 3D structures to play with.

We followed the exhibition with a trip to Gail’s Bakery which is located just behind the Tate Modern.  With highchairs, baby changing facilities, helpful staff and a good selection of food that can be adapted for weaning it was a big hit. All in all a brilliant family day out.

Have you been yet?  How did you find it?  Share your stories below!

Cost ⭐⭐

Expensive, unless you invest in an Art Pass – £18 per adult but £9 with an Art Pass. Children under X go free.

Accessibility ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Easy to navigate the museum with pram or sling, there’s a lift that takes you up to the exhibition floor.

Facilities ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Baby changing facilities are available and there is a cloakroom with buggy parking should you need it.

Feeding friendly ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Don’t expect comfy seats but there are places to sit and feed as you go around and the cafe has highchairs (although we popped to Gail’s Bakery which was brilliant).

General vibes ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Such a sensory treat for all the family, we had the best morning and we will be back for sure. Very family friendly and no air of art snobbiness about it. A huge thumbs up from us!

Posted in Picks of the week

Beasts of London – Museum of London

A.A Milne apparently lamented that, “some people talk to animals. Not many people listen though. That’s the problem”.  Well, if he wasn’t very dead, Mr. Milne would have been delighted that someone @museumoflondon has taken his words to heart, creating #beastsoflondon; an immersive experience that gives voice to London’s animal kingdom and so tells the history of the Capital from their unique perspective.

It’s a clever idea, brilliantly executed.  What wasn’t so clever – it turns out – was bringing the wee man, currently going through a mighty fussy phase, to enjoy it too. Yes, the museum had helpfully suggested that this exhibit is best suited to kids aged 7+ but I naively imagined (and for £5 with an #artpass, who could blame me) that he might enjoy it anyway.  A fox voiced by #KateMoss, what’s not to love?!  But, as my dear pal pointed out, while this would have been fantastic for bigger kids (and it really is) it is possibly stimulation overload akin to taking acid for a baby.

The museum itself, is every parents dream, regardless of the age of their kids. Another brutalist maze but brilliantly sign-posted and easily accessible whether bringing pram or sling; with lifts everywhere.  Admittedly the exhibit is aimed at young families but I was nonetheless impressed that the museum had thought through the practicalities of parenthood by providing a pram park just outside the exhibit.

Listening to Brian Blessed bellowing about the origins of the plague got us in the mood for food and with the wee man due a feed we hot-footed it to the nearest cafe – #benugo in the Sackler Hall.  Wide plastic chairs are perfectly comfortable for breastfeeding and the space is well equipped for families.  High chairs are available and the cafe offers a decent supply of sugary cakes for exhausted parents and of course, babyccinos for busy toddlers .  The restaurant upstairs offers free kids meals with every adult order too.

All in all a good afternoon out in an excellent venue.  Yes, I might have judged the exhibit itself wrongly for the age of my wee man but sometimes you need to distract yourself during these fussy phases if only to keep yourself sane.  Next time, we’ll try the more mellow permanent collections though.

Cost ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

£5 for an adult with an Art Pass. Family tickets start at £20.

Accessibility ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Well sign-posted with lifts should you need them.

Facilities ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This place is very family-friendly; good changing facilities, pram-parks, babyccinos (and much-needed cake) and – restaurant where kids eating for free with every adult meal – what more could you want?

Feeding friendly ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A sofa never goes amiss but the chairs I fed on were comfortable and I felt perfectly happy feeding there.

General vibes ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A brilliant venue and an excellent exhibition which my mate and I loved … probably better for older kids though. 

Posted in day out, Days out, Picks of the week

MotherCulture Picks of the Week

We have done a round up of our favourite things on this week. Family friendly but something we think you will enjoy too! 👏🏻

Play KX, Kings Cross & Cubitts Sessions at Coal Drops Yard Family Sunday:

Play KX @playkx is open every Friday to Sunday from 11.15am to 4.30pm, although check their Instagram account before going to check it’s on. It’s a free play session open to kids of all ages. If the weather is good they meet at Lewis Cubitt Park. Think dressing up, props etc! Why not combine it with some delicious food at Kings Cross (@dishoom is our fave) and maybe even a cheeky glass of wine @chapeldown (who by the way have great baby facilities, we’ve tried them 😉) Also if you go on Sunday, make sure to time it with the Cubitts Family Sessions at 2.30pm in @coaldropsyard. Every Sunday over the summer there is live music/entertainment and the time slot at 2.30pm is specifically for families.

Happy Place Festival, Chiswick Gardens – tickets for Sunday 4th August are still available

@fearnecotton has a brilliant podcast #HappyPlace where she talks to different people about happiness and how you can keep finding happiness and combat stress in the fast paced world we live in today. She’s now taken that one step further by organising a festival that focuses on all things that can make you happy. The line up includes talks from Bryony Gordon to Russell Brand, to exercise classes with Sweaty Betty, meditation and mindfulness workshops, craft workshops and much more. Tickets aren’t cheap (£32.50 for adults, £15 children aged 5-16, children under 5 are free) but we think it sounds like a totally unique day out and if you have a willing partner who is prepared to give you a child free pass, we think this would make a brilliant “me” day!

Disco Loco Reggae, National Theatre, River Stage:

@discoloco are holding a free concert from 1.30pm – 3.45pm on Sunday 3rd August. What can you expect? Live music, dancing, hula hoops and lots more. Why not have a walk round southbank, have some food and then have a boogie?! Please do let us know if you go to any of these events and how you find them.