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 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 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.

Posted in Picks of the week

Yogarise, Peckham

Yoga. A unique and ancient practice combining physical exercise and breathing techniques to tone the body and calm the mind. 

Enter Rosie and Holly, our crying offspring in tow, as we arrive 15 mins late (can you ever be on time for anything with a baby?) for our first taste of post-natal yoga at Yogarise at the Bussey Building, Peckham. 

Our first mistake? Going to the wrong studio. We ended up carting Holly’s pram – babe strapped in – up two flights of stairs to be told by a very kind lady that the class was in the other half of the building. Top tip no.1: go to the right Studio (2 – the entrance with the lift, obviously, though please note – it is very temperamental). Thankfully, the same very kind lady took pity on us sweating, stressed out mums and helped us cart the pram all the way to the correct studio. Crisis averted. 

When we finally arrived in the right place – more shit-show than serene – the staff were so helpful; quickly showing us where the changing rooms and toilets were and ushering us in to the class. 

With the yoga teacher (the wonderful Toni Osborne) in full flow we took up our matts, placing the babes on blankets and getting ourselves in to warrior one (or something like it). Top tip no.2: bring toys to occupy the wee ones while you attempt to tighten your pelvic floor and breathe in calm. 

I was obviously spending too much time focusing on said region and too little time on the wee man who toppled over and started howling, prompting me to scoop him up and out within about 15 mins of our already late arrival. 

I’ll be honest, I don’t think much yoga was practiced at this particular session – no sooner had I returned to the room than the wee man was in need of a feed. However I put that down to our chaotic arrival and the comedy of errors that proceeded. There were certainly other women there that seemed to be bending in to all the right positions while their babes played happily in front of them. 

And we enjoyed it, so much so that I have been attending the Monday morning class (11.30am) on a semi-regular basis ever since; managing to arrive on time, to the right studio and even managing a near full hour of blissful yoga at each session. 

A mum herself, Toni knows what you need and is happy to distract your babe should you need her to while you streeeeetch – and I ain’t one to complain about a helping hand sometimes! 

And it’s not just about the mamas. Well it mostly is, but I definitely feel like the babes gets something from it too. The wee man seems to love it; babbling away at me and the other babies in the room, playing with his toys and enjoying the weird and wonderful shapes created by the yoga practice around him – and sometimes joining in. 

Monday mornings have been transformed. An hour of gentle exercise; your mind and pelvic floor will thank you it. Ommmmmmm. 

[If like Holly you prefer to keep your yoga practice babe-free, Toni also offers private classes at her home-studio in Forest Hill. Holly booked herself in for a session and said she’d had the best night’s sleep since the tiny dictator was born – and we all need a bit more of that, eh?!] 

Yogarise in a nutshell:

Cost ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

It’s a tenner – less than a standard class and I’m yet to find a cheaper post-natal class

Accessibility ⭐️⭐️

The Bussey is an old building and, in my experience, the lift is almost always out of order – if you can, you’d be better off bringing a sling. 

Facilities ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

It a lovely relaxed studio and while there’s no baby changing table, it’s a yoga studio so they’re very relaxed about you changing the babe wherever you like! 

Feeding friendly ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Absolutely! Toni even sorted the bolsters for me so that I could lean back in complete comfort. 

General vibes ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A lovely, relaxing hour for you and your babe,  if you enjoy yoga this is perfect for you. 

Posted in Picks of the week

Glorious Greenwich

We recently went on a family trip to Greenwich. We both hadn’t been in years and we fancied “doing” another bit of London. Day trips aren’t as easy as they used to be, mainly because when you become a parent you instantly become a packhorse; you have five bags to carry when before you left the house with one. Ah, those were the days. Anyway, we drove there, found a central parking area (hurrah!) and off we trotted. 

First up was brunch: we were starving and now our third wheel (!) is weaning he was too. We went past the achingly cool exterior of the restaurant Greenwich Grind. We went on a Saturday and hadn’t booked so I didn’t think we had much of a chance of finding a table but low and behold they found us one, swiftly brought over a high chair and we weren’t crammed in like sardines. The food was brilliant, service equally so and it was nice to feel like we could still frequent the “trendy” places without being scrutinised for dampening the vibe. It was chaos with food all over the place- and the odd screech just for fun- but there were lots of other babies and we didn’t feel out of place. The staff weren’t at all phased either and they had brilliant baby changing facilities. 

Post brunch we went for a walk up to the Observatory and round the park which has amazing views across London and really is glorious in the sunshine. Note to the wise: keep your pram as light as possible as the quick way up is steep and was a work out in itself. 

Given we live in the UK it wasn’t long before the heavens opened and we were a little bit at a loss as to where to go. Cue the National Maritime Museum. I can’t say that I was chomping at the bit to go in but I was mainly concerned about keeping us all dry so in we went. I shouldn’t have been so quick to judge it. It’s a great museum- a big space with lots of things for little eyes to take in and super child friendly: parking spaces for buggies, a children zone, big baby changing areas. No complaints from me. One of the exhibitions even caught my eye. 

A big #MotherCulture thumbs up!

Where’s your favourite part of London to visit for a day out? Let us know in the comments below .

Cost ⭐⭐️⭐️

Brunch was reasonably priced, parking was £5 for 2 hours so not cheap but we understand that you can park on Charlton Way or Maze Hill for free at the weekends, the rest was free unless you want to enter a specific exhibition in the museum. 

Accessibility ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Easy to go with a sling or pram, just remember the quick way up to the observatory is steep but we still managed with a pram. 

Facilities ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

We found the facilities at Greenwich Grind and at the Maritime Museum were brilliant, couldn’t fault them. 

Feeding friendly ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Greenwich Grind and the Maritime Museum were busy but easy to feed there and of course in the park. 

General vibes ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

We had a lovely day out, we managed to have a delicious brunch with our friend and have an adult conversation, then a lovely walk followed by a surprisingly nice visit to the museum. We will be back!