9 articles Tag London

Exploring London as a Family

Living where we do means that London is only about an hour away by train, which makes it really easy to get to for a day trip. However, London is so vast that it would be good to spend more than just one day at a time there. We’ve been a little bit London-phobic since the girls came along, not wanting to tackle the big city with changing bags and buggies, but both girls are probably big enough to need minimal luggage now and Burrito Baby has been stubbornly refusing to get in a buggy for about 18 months, so a weekend in London is definitely on the cards!

Urban Retreat Apartments offer short-stay, fully serviced apartments which would be the perfect base for a family wanting to explore London, because it would be like a home from home. You don’t have to worry about being crammed into one room with a tiny bathroom like you would be in some hotels, and you’ve got a full kitchen to allow you to make bottles or cater for small ones.

There are SO many places that I know the girls would love; the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum are firmly at the top of the list, but the National Gallery is somewhere I love as well and I think Sausage would get a huge kick out of seeing paintings by some of the world’s most famous artists in real life. Visiting London doesn’t have to be all about learning – I’ve still not been on the London Eye after all these years so that’s definitely something that I feel I need to tick off of the list!

I also know for a fact that both of my kids are desperate to visit the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in Harrods; if you haven’t heard if it, it’s basically a magical beauty salon where kids can go and be transformed into a Disney Prince or Princess. It’s not cheap, but it’s one of those ‘once in a lifetime’ experiences that I’d love them to have before they’re too old for the magic to have worn off! I’m pretty sure they’d also love browsing some of the huge stores like Harrods…and definitely Hamleys!

Where would you do if you had a whole weekend to spend in London? We’d love to hear your recommendations, especially places to eat and things to see which might not make the mainstream guidebooks. Leave me a comment below!

Why ‘Just Outside Of London’ Gives You More For Your Money

When tourists visit the UK, they are drawn to the centre of London. The bright lights of the West End, the iconic architecture of Buckingham Palace, and the spectacle of the London Eye are certainly alluring. However, accommodation right in the centre of things is never cheap, and it’s rarely as effortless as you might need. Those that are in the UK know that ‘just outside’ of these tourist hotspots can offer the holidaymaker a lot more of London than they thought.

The M25 is the outermost ring road for London. Within this motorway circle are the affluent suburbs commuters love to live in. They offer leafy environments, bigger houses, and less pollution. Move in a little closer, and you have the North Circular – London’s original ring road. This is busy and passes through a number of residential and key business centres that serve this area. So why are these parts of London ignored?

Thanks to Pexels for the pic

Perhaps some of the most convenient areas of London are the ones that are still served by London Underground and the Night Bus services. This means you can stay as late as you want at Piccadilly Circus or the West End comedy clubs. You’re still just a few minutes from your accommodation. You might be staying somewhere like the Dorsett Hotel Shepherds Bush or a nationwide hotel chain in Barking. East or West, you can be served well, without being stuck right in the middle. Best of all, these areas provide their own attractions and delights for the tourist.

If you are accommodated just outside of London, you are likely to enjoy plenty more choice of accommodation. This can include private rooms, apartments, bed and breakfast, and hotels. This might better suit your circumstances. You’re less likely to be penalised for taking your car and parking it at your hotel too! The congestion charges are due to change soon, so make sure you check what you will owe before you travel.

So what more can outer London offer? There are more parks, commons, and heaths to explore. Each will offer a better variety of view too. There are plenty of acclaimed theatres and arts houses to enjoy too. Places like Wimbledon are home to world class eateries, and Enfield offers a superb array of independent retail outlets. Each area is different, so why not try more than one?

How can you get in and out of London from the outer reaches? The underground system is one of the quickest and most efficient modes of transport. You pay for a travel card to last the day or the whole week. This can usually be used to cover your cost of travel on the buses and some overground trains too. Check which zones you need. You may be able to save some money.

If you really love spending time in London, don’t be afraid to explore what is just beyond the tourist hotspots. There is an endless amount of things to see and do, and every area has its own unique character too. What is your favourite area of London in spring?

Win Four Tickets to Rave-a-Roo at Ministry of Sound!

Rave-a-Roo Ministry of Sound LondonI must admit, when it comes to kids events I’m definitely not your average ‘bunting and cake stands’ kinda Mum and I love to do things with the girls which are just a little bit different. That’s why, when I heard about Rave-a-Roo, I was very excited. Without even reading too much about the event, I came to the conclusion that ANY family event which is held at Ministry of Sound in London is probably ridiculously cool, and after reading more I definitely wasn’t wrong!

Here’s what the guys at Rave-a-Roo had to say about the events:

Rave-A-Roonies are in for a real treat, as the biggest and best family rave fest returns with a host of new dates! Taking place at London’s iconic Ministry of Sound club on Saturday 1st October and Saturday 15th October, Rave-A-Roo is back with an even more jam-packed line-up of family festival fun.

With live stage performances, madcap hosts and DJs including DJ Cuddles and Mr Ben, Rave-A-Roo focuses on the whole family partying and playing together. The incredible Jungle Jane and Tiger Tim (renowned comedy duo Kat and Matt) will also be performing their brand new hilarious show that’s not to be missed!There is also the chance for mini-clubbers and adults to take on the dance floor with resident artists Go! Go! Go! (Electro set) as seen on Nick Jr.

 The event is broken into three zones targeted at families with children up to the age of 12. Energy levels are set high in the Main Room with live music and entertainment, spectacular lights, Disco Ball Games, and an impressive confetti mayhem finale to top it all off.For mini guests who need a little time out from partying, the Glow Chill Room is the place to be! With neon crafts and a UV glitter tattoo station, this space provides the perfect environment to relax and take time out. Children under-three can also join the party in The Funky Softplay Room, featuring soft play, a mini ball pool, air jugglers and café del mar style music.

Jenny Kane, event co-founder said: “Since the first event back in February, Rave-A-Roo has gone from strength to strength and we’re delighted to be adding a host of new dates to the calendar.

“Rave-A-Roo gives kids and families the chance to let loose, be themselves and party together. From babes in arms to grandparents, the whole family is invited to Rave-A-Roo which is for everyone and all ages.”

With a fully licensed bar (and tea, coffee and snacks), spotless surroundings, a convenient onsite buggy park, baby changing with handy supplies, professional security and staff, carefully monitored sound levels and beautifully lit rooms, Rave-A-Roo offers a unique and safe environment for families. 

Sessions are 12pm to 2pm and 3pm to 5pm.

I absolutely love the sound of this – Husband and I spent a LOT of time in clubs in our youths and I definitely miss it at times so having the chance to convert that into something which is family friendly and can be enjoyed with the girls sounds like a stroke of pure genius to me. Now, here’s the good bit: I’ve got four tickets (two adult tickets and two kids tickets) to give away to the event on Saturday 15th October. All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is complete the Rafflecopter widget below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck! We can’t wait to pick a winner!

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Planning A Family Day Out In London: Everything That You Need To Know

For a day out of family fun, London is the perfect place. This multicultural, capital city, has everything that you and your family could want, and more. The great thing about spending time in London is that no matter what you and your family are into, there’s sure to be an activity that you will love. To help you plan the most amazing day out, I’ve put together this insightful and useful guide to exploring London with the kids in tow.

Photo source

Let’s talk transport

The first thing that you need to establish is how you’ll get to the city and how you’ll get around once you’re there. This will most probably depend on where you’re coming from. For instance, if you’re coming from one of London’s suburbs, the easiest option is most probably to take the tube into the city. If, however, you’re coming from a little further afield, it may be easier to drive. You can then park up somewhere and either walk, take the bus or use the tube to get around. Westfield shopping centre in London has free parking, so could be a good place to leave your car for the day.

Where to drink and dine

While you’re in London, the chances are that you’re going to need to find places to stop off for a coffee and a snack or a spot of lunch or dinner. The good news is that like most cities, London has plenty of family-friendly places to drink and dine. From chain restaurants like Jamie’s Italian, to places like Brick Lane Brasserie Restaurant, you have lots of choice. To find out how good a restaurant is, check out its reviews on TripAdvisor.

What are the best sights and attractions?

For history lovers, The Natural History Museum makes a fantastic family day out. Packed full of fossils, bones, and interesting insects and animals, this is the perfect place for the kids to explore. Best of all, it’s free of charge to visit – so if you’re on a budget, this is a great option. The Tower of London is also a great thing to see if you’re a family of history lovers, as it’s one of the UK’s most iconic historical landmarks. Or, could a fun and exhilarating day out at the London Dungeons be a good option?

For kids who love science, there’s no better place to take them than to the London Science Museum. Packed full of unique and interesting exhibits, the London Science Museum is the perfect place for kids of all ages. Especially, those that are science mad.

For kids, bus tours can be a little boring, but not the London Duck Tour. This one of a kind tour around London takes place both on land and in the River Thames in a bright yellow, amphibious vehicle. This is a fantastic way to see the city that’s fun, child-friendly, and unique.

London has a lot to offer visitors of all ages but is especially good for families. With so much to see and do, plenty of places to eat and drink, and an exciting atmosphere, this is the perfect place for a family day out with a difference.

 

The UK’s Most Expensive Neighbourhoods

Living in the South East of England can be an expensive business; our proximity to London means that house prices and rents are still very high and that expensive perimeter around the capital is only increasing with improved high-speed travel. In the area we previously lived, we saw house prices steadily creeping up to the point that, when it came to moving house, we decided that enough was enough and moved to a less expensive area.

Property Rescue has created an infographic, showing the top ten most expensive places to live in the UK and I was COMPLETELY unsurprised to see that 90% of them are in London! Here’s the full list:

According to their research:

“The East of England continually sees the biggest growths in house prices with homes worth 8.4 per cent more than last year, seeing the average price of the likes of Chelsea, Notting Hill, and West Brompton comfortably sit above £1million.

London property averages at almost £500,000 but sitting top of the list is Kensington, where residences are worth an average £1.74million. Such is its regard, the area includes a street which is home to the ambassadors of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Finland just to name a few.

Located in the west of London, surrounded by other affluent areas including Notting Hill, Knightsbridge, and Chelsea, the area includes a wealth of London’s premiere hotspots including the Natural History Museum, the Royal College of Art, and the Royal Albert Hall and Kensington Palace.

The list is entirely made up of London locations, with neighbourhoods in Kent and Hertfordshire missing out, whilst the quiet commuter town of Virginia Water, Surrey is the only area outside London which makes the list.”

The saddest part about the list is that so many of the areas which have now been gentrified were once areas which were homes to average working people, people who would have absolutely no hope of living there ever again. It reminds me of the episode of Only Fools and Horses where Uncle Albert tries to go back to Tobacco Road where he grew up and finds it full of million-pound Docklands apartments and penthouses.

Do you live in an area which has become unaffordable over the years? Do you think it’s a good thing when older areas are regenerated or are you, like me, sad that working class people are being driven out of their home towns? Leave me a comment below as I’d love to hear what you think about it all.

Britax Sponsors the Bliss Buggy Push

900_nsrqc1308845756As you probably know, the Mum’s the Word family were chosen as ambassadors for Britax and are huge fans of their products. Our Affinity has been all over the country with us, transporting Burrito Baby around London Zoo, Tropical Wings, Bluewater and Lakeside shopping centres (frequently!), Drusillas Park and Hello Kitty Land, as well as many other places and numerous walks up and down Southend seafront! I adore the Affinity for so many reasons, not least of all how comfy BB looks when she’s in it, but also for the easy handling and soft suspension. It’s a great buggy and the perfect partner for the Bliss Buggy Push, a 5km family walk which aims to raise money for the special care baby charity.

LOVING the sunshine today, but v.grateful for the canopy on June's @BritaxUK Affinity!

A photo posted by Mum's the Word (@mumstheword84) on

Here’s the blurb:

This is the third year that Britax will sponsor the charity initiative, and following the success of last year’s 40 events, organisers say the 2015 fundraiser has the potential to be the biggest one yet.

Bliss is once again encouraging people across the country to organise a Buggy Push at a park near them to raise money to help premature and sick babies as well as their families. One in every nine babies is born premature or sick – that is around 80,000 babies every year.

Partnering with Miffy, the iconic children’s character, the headline London Buggy Push is taking place on 13 June to celebrate Miffy’s 60th birthday. Alongside sponsorship of the event, Britax will also be offering families the chance to win one of its stylish and award winning Britax Affinity pushchairs.  The three highest fundraisers who take part in the main events at either London, Manchester, Leeds and Edinburgh will be able to select a light-weight Affinity in their preferred choice of colour and take home the matching Cosytoes and Changing Bag – the perfect prize for any mums on the go looking to make a fashion statement.

Amy Voller, Brand Director EMEA from Britax comments, “As a brand devoted to helping families find their freedom, we are delighted to once again be working with Bliss. Through this partnership we can not only encourage parents to get out and about with their little ones, we can also raise awareness for a fantastic cause that is very close to our hearts. We are behind every single family that choses to take part – best of luck!”

If you’d like to organise your own Bliss Buggy Push or find an event near you, take a look at the Bliss page. To find out more about the Britax Affinity or the rest of their range, click on the link to head over there.

Best Libraries in the UK

There are few pleasures as great as losing yourself in a good book, especially during the winter months. The ebook revolution has meant it’s easier than ever to enjoy books on the go, but spare a thought for Britain’s historic libraries. With many of our country’s finest reading rooms under threat, it’s time to appreciate anew those beautiful buildings where you can while away the afternoon curled up with a good (borrowed) book.

Central Library, Edinburgh

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Edinburgh’s Central Library is an oasis of calm in the middle of a bustling city. It’s slightly more relaxed than the huge National Library across the road, and has an excellent selection of books, from new releases and graphic novels to a section dedicated to the history of Scotland’s capital city. There are plenty of nooks and crannies, perfect for grabbing a bit of peace, and the gothic architecture will leave you feeling like you’re starring in a 1940’s film. Cycle there in one of these gorgeous day dresses with a satchel on your shoulder for a truly picture-perfect afternoon!

The British Library, London

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London has more than its fair share of excellent libraries, but true book enthusiasts can’t look past the majestic British Library. Boasting over 150 million items, with 3 million new pieces added each year, you’re sure to find a book to inspire you. The library also has exhibition galleries, which show off legendary collectors’ items like the Lindisfarne Gospels, original Beatles manuscripts, and the world’s oldest printed book, the Diamond Sutra. This season’s major exhibition is entitled Georgians Revealed and looks to be as fascinating as we’ve come to expect – don’t miss it!

The Library of Birmingham, Birmingham

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The new library on the block opened in September 2013. While a visit to Birmingham usually involves several hours in the Bullring enjoying retail therapy and large quantities of fast food, it’s well worth making a detour to visit this unique building. The architecture is certainly striking, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts. The interior space is modern, bright and vibrant, with a café and plenty of places to sit and read. Their selection includes one of the best collections of works by Shakespeare, and an exhibition of children’s books and games dating back to the 16th century.

Post provided by guest author, Kira.

How To Be British

I saw a newspaper headline yesterday and annoyingly enough, I can’t bloody well find it now. The general jist of it though was that a new study has shown that something like 75% of British people want immigration to be halted, especially Eastern Europeans (if anyone has the link, please hit me up with it in the comments). Now, to be fair, tabloids should generally be taken with a pinch of salt, so I’m not going to start doing an Uncle Albert-style intake of air, but I am surprised that it’s at 75%. I’m not sure about the demographics of the survey participants either, which is a factor.

However, in the spirit of giving, I thought I’d give any Eastern Europeans, or indeed any immigrants, some tips on how to truly integrate themselves into the British way of life and avoid the (blatantly middle-class) glare of disapprovers. Here’s the Mum’s the Word guide on How to Be British.

Be Shit At Your Job

This particularly applies if you’re a manual labourer, though far be it from me to stereotype. If you do, however, do something manual and want to appear truly British in doing so, this is what you need to do. When asked for a quote, make sure you make the job sound akin to single-handedly building a replica of the Great Pyramid. Suck air over your teeth a lot, make lots of hmmm-ing sounds. When you do eventually get around to giving a quote, make sure it’s 4 times higher than you’d normally charge for it. Tell the client that it’s going to take at week and then drag it on for over three months. When actually performing the task, be as conspicuous as possible so as to disrupt the person’s life and spend a large portion of the day making rasping noises with your throat to hint that you want another cup of tea.

Claim To Know A Gangster

This one particularly applies if you’re living in the South East, but no self-respecting true Brit can resist dropping in a reference here and there to how their Grandad was bezzy mates with Ronnie and Reggie, or how Pate Tate was like an Uncle to them when they were growing up. No-one is truly British without a story about the Krays, in fact I think they’re thinking of making it part of the citizenship requirements. Adopting phrases like “It’s not a bit of me” or cockney rhyming slang will also help greatly here.

Put Up With Shit Service

There is nothing more quintessentially British than allowing someone you’re paying to treat you like shit. Stroppy waiters, dodgy shop staff and customer service agents who don’t know the meaning of the term. And don’t forget, the worse they treat you, the more you bend over and take it like a good little Brit. Make sure you still leave a tip, even if you’re certain that was a bogey floating in your soup.

Insist That The Majority of Your Food is Tasteless Sludge

If food isn’t in pie form, it’s foreign muck. If you holiday abroad, make sure there’s a pie and mash shop/chip shop/greasy spoon at the resort, otherwise you’ll starve. Declare garlic to be disgusting and any meat that’s not roast beef to be pointless.

Dress Appallingly

This.

Pearly Knobbers

Pearly Knobbers

 

(Disclaimer: Please be aware that this post is entirely tongue-in-cheek. I’m proud to British and all that jazz, this is just a response to more tabloid fuck-wittery)

 

Cybher – The Mum’s the Word Run Down Pt. 1

“Muuuummy, come and fiiiiind meeee”

That’s how I was woken up on Saturday morning, and thank goodness for Sausage because my alarm on my iPhone failed to go off for some unknown reason, which meant that my planned 6am rising became a 7.20am rising…and my train was due at 7.58am. Somehow (and it must’ve been magic or a fold in the space-time continuum) I managed to shower, wash, dry and straighten my hair, get dressed and to the station in a cab in time to get the right train! Actually, sod magic, I deserve some credit here; the reason it was so easy to get ready is that I was organised to the nth degree and had my bag packed, clothes laid out and shoes by the front door. I threw my make-up into my handbag and did it on the train.

The train journey was uneventful (except when “I Don’t Smoke The Reefer” came on my iPod and made me laugh out loud, like a mad woman, in a packed carriage) and I watched Twitter and Facebook as the excitement built amongst the blogging community. Because Sian had the genius idea to hold Cybher so centrally, I only had two tube changes and my travel was super easy. Once I got out of Charing Cross station, it was just a short walk to the venue and I didn’t get lost once, quite an achievement for me in London!

The venue was beautiful, a mixture of old-fashioned glamour and modern clean lines, it oozed class. We queued to get in and lots of bloggers were moving up and down the line, recognising each other from their pictures online. Once we checked in, we got to choose our very own Cybher branded leather satchel, which is probably the best free gift I’ve ever got at an event. The bags are so well made and utterly gorgeous.

The main ballroom is where the action began with the intro from Sian and then the panel discussion, which was informative and totally relevant to what’s going on. I saw a few tweets about people’s opinions of one of the panel speakers, who made it clear that blogging was a business and that it didn’t matter what the blog was about, as long as it was commercial. I think it highlighted the division in the blogging world, about what people want and expect from their blogs and really made me think about Mum’s the Word and where I want to take it.

The next talk was from Zoe Margolis, who is my new hero. I’m sure you’ve read about all of this on other blogs, but I found her really inspiring. The thing that struck me about her was that, even this many years after what happened to her at the hands of the press, you could still see a genuine sadness and vulnerability, however you could tell that she’s extremely strong and has real character, the combination of which makes for a very interesting and urbane person. I’d love to go to the pub with her and just have a chat, you know?!

We stuck around in the ballroom to hear Spark and Fuse with Di Coke talking about the laws and rules surrounding competitions and not only was the material (which had the potential to be quite dull and legislation-heavy) delivered brilliantly and I found every scrap of information useful in this session, I’m really glad I went.

During the next session, I attended Phillipa Davies’ talk ‘Blog to Book in 30 Days with WordPress’, which was great but not what I thought it would be. Phillipa was so charismatic and natural, I could have listened to he for hours and her anecdotal style was very comfortable to watch.

I have to say, I heard several people say that the sessions were not very clearly titled. Two people I spoke to ended up in the Digital Diaries session, which happened to revolve around having kids, though neither of them have children. I wonder how many other people ended up in sessions that were unsuitable, because of lack of clarity?

To be continued….