Latest from CK



How did you come up with the idea for Bubble?

There were two things which gave me the idea and motivation to launch bubble. Firstly, I had kids of my own and quick realised that childcare is such a massive struggle – a daily struggle – for so many parents. Secondly, when I looked at how we and other parents were trying to find our childcare, much more often then not our decisions were being driven by recommendation and word of mouth. Trust is obviously the most important thing when it comes to who we let look after our kids and more so then anything else we want to know who are friends are using and who they really rate. We figured that is information that an app could bring to a parent’s fingertips, and we set off to build it with bubble.

How does it work?

bubble gives parents total control to find the perfect sitter for them and their kids. The app makes it easy to select when you need someone and quickly see the sitter’s around you who want to help you out. Every sitter passes an ID and Background check before being allowed onto the app and our USP is that the app will show you how you know the sitter via mutual friends. For example, you can see the other parents at your kids’ school and the sitters they know and use. You can also read the sitter’s reviews from other local parents, and even use the app to chat with those parents for more information. When you come across someone you like, you can use the app to book them as well as pay them cashlessly at the end which our customers really love. The app has a review system which helps ensure that the sitters giving the best service are the ones that get the most work.

Which areas of London are covered by the app?

We’ve got full coverage across London now and on average it takes just 43 seconds for a parent to receive an application from a sitter after posting their job. Parents are using bubble to book sitters in as little notice as 30 minutes. The thing they love most about the app is that ultimately they are always in control of the sitter they pick. And we see how parents use the app in many different ways, doing what they need to do to get comfortable with a sitter.

What’s been the biggest lesson learned running Bubble?

Doing a startup with three young kids at home (I’ve got three under 5) is especially difficult but at the same time I love how despite having never worked harder, I’ve also never spent more time with my kids. There’s a lot being written at the moment about helping parents work flexibly, and the importance of enabling us to better juggle work and family life. My experience has shown me how spending time with your family and being incredibly dedicated to your work are not mutually exclusive.

What’s your proudest moment?

There’s no doubt that starting a business is a rollercoaster, the only certainty you have is that things will go wrong. So celebrating the wins and having what can at times be gruelling days punctured with moments of pride is so important. Every time we get some glowing feedback from a customer we’ve helped is a huge boost to me and the team. We’ve got amazing feedback on our trustpilot page and seeing new comments come in from parents thanking bubble for helping them is honestly a huge source of pride for us. Childcare is a really sensitive subject and it’s not an easy product to ‘sell’ – particularly when you’re doing things in a novel way as we are. So great customer feedback is something we hugely value – it’s what drives us on to keep doing more.

What’s your top tip for date night in London?

I’ll be honest I’m pretty useless with this kind of thing! My wife and I are big foodies so when we go out, 99% of the time, good food is on the agenda. There are so many great places in London now we’re spoilt for choice. Caravan in Kings Cross is a favourite right now.

Where’s your favourite place to go in London with the children?

We’re typical North Londoners so we always like to take the kids to the Heath or Highgate Wood whenever the weather allows. When it doesn’t, the Wonderlab in the Science Museum is a great bet, though I always leave it pretty shattered.

Last book you read?

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. It’s definitely not one to take in with the kids screaming around you but if you do ever get a quiet moment, it’s just brilliant.

Tell us one thing that people don’t know about you.

My first job was commentating on European Football for UEFA – for a football anorak it was a dream. How I quite ended up running a babysitting app still bemuses me sometimes.

What would you take to a desert island?

My wife, kids and a bubble babysitter.

Signature dish?

I love to cook and find it a huge stress reliever. Nowadays though most of my time in the kitchen is spent making Cheese Toasties so I’ll go with that.

Describe yourself in three words.

Pretty tired dad.




Inspired by the 1980s, the SS18 collection by piupiuchick is a nostalgia trip back to long summer days, spent with friends in the holidays.

Also stocked at Scandi Mini, 69 Blythe Rd, W14 0HP








Blogger, vlogger, social media queen, director, entrepreneur and now, published author (we’re out of breath!) Who is Vicki Psarias? Victoria Evans finds out.

Three words to describe yourself.

Warm, talkative, generous.

What are your social media house rules?

Nothing digital at the table and the kids have set times when they can use the computer. YouTube is weekends only. I’m not addicted to my phone anymore either and most of our evenings are tech-free unless I’m on a deadline. I tend to write during the day now that my book Mumboss is out. I wrote that between 10pm and 3am last year!

Lots of people blog so they can get their hands on free stuff. What was your motivation? I started in 2010 to rediscover my voice after a traumatic birth. Blogging as a career in the UK was unheard of then. After four weeks, I was offered my first commission and my business grew organically from there. Now I work with global brands while sharing all that I know to help mobilise and inspire other mums and dads to work exibly and remotely thanks to the democratic internet.

Why do you think your profile has grown in the way it has?

My readers tell me they feel I’m their friend: their honest, loving friend who tells it like it is and gives them the advice they need to hear. I’ll take that.

How do you deal with negativity on social media?

I’m pretty good at brushing off the trolls now that I’m seven years in. I think having a cool-headed and caring husband, Peter; and manager Jack Freud helps hugely. I never feel sad for long.

Top tips for someone wanting to blog as a career?

Buy my book Mumboss of course: I share all that I know within that from how to start a blog, finding your voice and confidence and knowing your worth. Quick tips are: let your passions lead you, write what you know and be consistent.

What was the motivation for Mumboss?
I wanted a long-form piece that you could follow, or dip into, which houses all that I’ve learnt in the seven years blogging and vlogging.

Last book you read?

Purpose-Find Your Truth and Embrace Your Calling by my pal Jessica Huie MBE. It is brilliantly life-affirming and inspirational.

What’s your top tip for date night in London?

We do date days, to be honest. It’s easier to get a babysitter and there are no hangovers. The Royal Garden Hotel for vegan afternoon tea, followed by a walk in the adjacent Kensington Gardens, would be the best day date possible. I adore being their resident blogger. It’s my second-home and it’s so tranquil there.

Where’s your favourite place to go in London with the children?

Anywhere in Kensington or Notting Hill. I used to live on Westbourne Grove and did so when I met my husband Peter so we have lots of happy memories there. We love revisiting with the kids be it eating out, heading to the park or visiting a local museum.

Tell us one thing that people don’t know about you.

I can bark like a dog. Crazy but true. Discovered that as a child. Dogs bark back at me but I’ve not a clue what they’re on about!!!

What would you take to a desert island?

My kids and husband. Then vegan chocolate.

Signature dish?

I turned plant-based several months ago and my go-to is a mild chickpea curry the whole family loves.

What’s been your proudest moment?

The birth of my kids and my wedding day. Then, seeing my parents’ faces on publication day. Their pride and joy is etched in my mind’s eye forever.

What’s next on the list of things to do?

Mumboss: The Movie is the grand plan, Stan. A talk show too please and moving to LA in five years’ time, perhaps. Oh, and the big dream is another baby, but I need to work on my non-broody husband for that one (it might take a while). I have a lot I want to do to be honest…

Author/ Blogger/ Vlogger/ Filmmaker/ TV Director & Founder of Honest Mum®



The Goat Chelsea has a different approach to a relaxing Sunday pub lunch. Friend of City Kids, The Ealing Mummy, went to investigate.

The Goat Chelsea is a great place to go for a relaxed Sunday Lunch. Not only do they offer a lovely contemporary Italian inspired menu, but they have entertainment for the kids at their Kids Club Sunday from 12-3pm. So, you might actually be able to enjoy your meal without the usual interruptions that you would normally expect with kids! There is no extra charge for the entertainment, but I suggest that you book a table to avoid disappointment, as it is very popular.

The entertainer is based in a private dinning room on the lower ground floor of the restaurant, which is great because that way you don’t feel as if your child is disturbing other diners who may not have children. On this particular Sunday my Daughter was entertained by Froggle Parties Professionals. The friendly man was dressed as Train Conductor and performed an array of magic tricks and jokes. She enjoyed it so much we had to convince her to come back upstairs and have her lunch! She also left with some party bag gifts and a candy cane that the entertainer modeled from balloons especially for her!

They offer a great children’s menu which definitely suited my little one’s taste buds. She decided on the chicken goujons coated in panko breadcrumbs with broccoli and fries and to finish with chocolate brownies and gelato.

I was impressed with the overall menu and decided to go with the truffled macaroni and cheese to start with. I went for a Devon crab salad for my main. I finished with a delicious sticky toffee pudding and vanilla gelato. I also sampled one of their cocktails which was inspired by the Chelsea Flower show, it was fantastic in both taste and presentation.

I would thoroughly recommend The Goat to families. I also noticed they have highchairs available and baby changing facilities too. It’s the perfect place to go if you want a leisurely lunch with the kids. The staff made us feel very welcome and could not do enough for us.

You can read more musings from The Ealing Mummy over on her blog:


Tully Review – funny, uncomfortable, but a must-see



If there’s one woman in Hollywood that I always want to side with it’s Charlize Theron. She’s clever, beautiful, been through tough times, and is not scared to show a make-up-free face on screen. And as Marlo in Tully, she spends most of the film make-up-free, and looking, well, how we all feel most of the time. Dishevelled, flabby, exhausted, stressed, anxious, pulled in too many directions.


Anyone who’s raised or is raising children knows there are highs and lows, but translating this into tv and film has often produced clichéd scenes, jokes and scripts. Not here. Writer Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman have made a funny film which is, at times, a dark and uncomfortable watch. Theron has perfected the Mum Moodswingometer which is rarely pointing to the well-balanced middle: serene patience to passive aggressive and worse in 60 seconds is totally achievable if you’re a mother to two small children and a newborn.

At what seems like the height of her panic, Marlo calls the night nanny recommended by her brother, and we’re introduced to Tully played by Mackenzie Davis. She’s everything that Marlo isn’t: young, pert, positive, energetic – perhaps everything that Marlo used to be before children. And Davis is pretty mesmerising on screen.


Mackenzie Davis stars as Tully in Jason Reitman’s TULLY, a Focus Features release.

Tully isn’t simply about struggling to be a mum. It’s more complicated than that. It’s about being a wife, a woman, a worker and acceptance. Go see. With tissues.

Thanks to Hustle & Fox and Universal for arranging a great screening at The Soho Hotel.



Baby-faced Genius – Who does your baby look like and why? Some science (and anecdotal evidence) from our ante-natal guru.

Words: Beverley Turner

One of the great joys of running ante-natal classes (I hate that word – you are adults who have had sex – classrooms are for kids) is meeting the babies who we started to know as bumps. Myself and the midwife spend eight weeks laughing, listening and learning with couples who are about to become parents. Then – as if by magic – we’re all back in the pub together with tiny, curled up, pink-faced babies. And everyone looks just like their dad in a baby-gro.

It never fails to amaze me how much babies resemble their fathers. Sometimes, it momentarily slips my mind which baby belongs to which dad. But then I look at the cherub in a pink frilly dress and think, “Ah yes, you’re the one who always orders a pint of pale ale and works in IT … that’s right, Mike.”

Mother nature very cleverly makes sure that dads stick around to do the Sainsbury’s run by carving out newborns in their image. It makes perfect sense. We mums are inclined towards keeping our babies close, feeding them, snuggling them and marvelling at the colour of their poo. Dads may need to work a little harder to feel that bond – but if they look down and see themselves reflected back … well, their hearts melt; they’re soon picturing those chubby cheeks in a Chelsea scarf, which is enough to make them stay.

Although I’d like to claim 100% certainty on this phenomenon, scientific studies don’t actually back my theory. A body of research conducted over decades and published in the journal ‘Evolution and Human Behaviour’, has delivered conflicting results: some studies found that newborns more closely resembled their mums than their dads; other studies found newborns to be matched with

both parents equally well. My personal favourite was the most recent study which found that, although babies more closely resembled their mother for the first three days, the mums themselves remarked on how much they looked like dads. The author of the study concluded that this was an “evolved or conditioned response to assure fathers of their paternity.” I’d also ask (with a mischievous glint in my eye) how many mums down the generations have cooed, “Oh darling! He looks soooo like you!” with a quiet sigh of relief.

Of course, this paternal-bias has also caused some mums to grimace at a large nose or flappy ears and say, “She gets that from your side of the family.” Fast forward two years and the toddler sulks can be weaponised by a tired dad: “She’s just like you when you don’t get your own way!” To the harassed mum, the teenager slamming the door becomes: “A mini-you! He’s learnt that from you!” And, just in case she hasn’t played the genetics card quite hard enough, “Remember the time your brother stormed off at Christmas lunch? That boy is just the same!”

Mud-slinging from the branches of the family tree is a tried and tested means of surviving parenting. We all do it. We shouldn’t. But, we do. It’s oddly satisfying. In essence, it’s an attempt to be a good parent whilst getting yourself off the hook – if Olivia can’t sit still, it’s easy to blame your restless mother-in-law. And if an inability to kick a football is a family trait from your husband’s side, little Jago may never make the A Team, regardless of how much you spend on lessons. It’s not our fault.

And there may be some truth in that. A recently published book, ‘Do Parents matter?’, tried to answer that provocative question. The author, Judith Harris wanted to establish whether a child’s behaviour was “learned from their parents,” taught by their social group or could be attributed to “the genes they inherited.” She concluded: “Studies using the proper controls consistently favour the latter explanation. In fact, personality resemblances between biological relatives are due almost entirely to heredity, rather than environment.” She cites the fact that adopted children “don’t resemble their adoptive parents in personality.” Harris claims not be particularly interested in genetic effects, but the point is that they have to be considered. Unless we know what the child brings to the environment, we can’t figure out what effect the environment has on the child.”

She travelled the world examining many different cultures and parenting styles, concluding that “parenting didn’t have to be such a difficult, anxiety-producing job, that there are many different ways to rear a child, and no convincing evidence that one way produces better results than another.”

So, the moral of the story is that we, as parents, just need to do what we can. I sometimes think the best we can hope for is a well-timed “please” or “thank you” – everything else is genetically pre-determined. We’re all just winging it, moulding our kids as best we can with the product we grew. But genes will always play a part – so pick those daddies carefully, and be honest – we may not be quite perfect ourselves.

Beverley Turner is author of The Happy Birth Book and hosts a show on LBC at 6pm on Saturdays. She also runs The Happy Birth Club in Chiswick.


Want more sleep? The World Sleep Society is at hand with some ideas on how to get more sleep, for you and your children!

How many times have you quietly competed with anyone about how little sleep you’ve had. You must be the most hard done by, you must be the most tired, no one could have possibly had as little sleep as you.
Well, as parents, we all know that sleep is the holy grail and that we NEVER get enough of the stuff. And the best way to get more sleep is to get the nippers to sleep like babies. Ahem.


Ages Birth to 12 Years
Sleep is one of the most important contributors to your child’s physical and mental health. Good sleep habits, sleep hygiene, or “sleep health” are alternative terms often used to describe sleep promoting practices. The explanation as to why healthy sleep practices promote sleep is likely to be, at least in part, that they work by improving the regulation of sleep, either by reinforcing the body’s natural circadian rhythms (ie, timing of light and darkness), or by increasing the drive to sleep. Other sleep practices help us to associate certain activities (like a bedtime routine) and environments (ie, the bedroom) with sleep. Healthy sleep behaviours also promote sleep by reducing factors in the environment which are stimulating (like caffeine) and increasing relaxation, making it easier to fall and stay asleep.

Finally, good sleep practices include providing an adequate opportunity for sleep based on age and individual sleep needs and an environment that is conducive to good sleep quality and safety.

1. Make sure your child gets enough sleep by setting an age-appropriate bedtime (preferably before 9:00 pm or 21:00 hours) and waketime*.
2. Keep a consistent bedtime and waketime on weekdays and weekends.
3. Establish a consistent bedtime routine and recommend wearing comfortable clothes in bed, including strong absorbing diapers for infants.
4. Encourage your child to fall asleep independently.
5. Avoid bright lights at bedtime and during the night and increase light exposure in the morning.
6. Keep all electronics, including televisions, computers, and cell phones, out of the bedroom and limit use of electronics before bedtime.
7. Maintain a regular daily schedule, including consistent mealtimes.
8. Have an age-appropriate nap schedule.
9. Ensure plenty of exercise and time spent outdoors during the day.
10. Eliminate foods and beverages containing caffeine, including many sodas, coffee, and tea.

AGE                       SLEEP NEED
3-12 months —-   14 to15 hours
1-3 years —-        12 to14 hours
3-5 years —-        11 to 13 hours
6-12 years —-      10 to 11 hours
12-18 years —-    8.5 to 9.5 hours

In addition to clinical sleep problems, poor sleep habits can cause poor quality sleep in adults. To help improve overall sleep and wellness, World Sleep Society has created the 10 Commandments of Sleep Hygiene for Adults:

1. Establish a regular bedtime and waking time.

2. If you are in the habit of taking siestas, do not exceed 45 minutes of daytime sleep.

3. Avoid excessive alcohol ingestion 4 hours before bedtime, and do not smoke.

4. Avoid caffeine 6 hours before bedtime. This includes coffee, tea and many sodas, as well as chocolate.

5. Avoid heavy, spicy, or sugary foods 4 hours before bedtime. A light snack before bed is acceptable.

6. Exercise regularly, but not right before bed.

7. Use comfortable, inviting bedding.

8. Find a comfortable sleep temperature setting and keep the room well ventilated.

9. Block out all distracting noise and eliminate as much light as possible.

10. Reserve your bed for sleep and sex, avoiding its use for work or general recreation.





Look out, It's a Dragon
by Jonny Lambert (Little Tiger)
Saffi the dragon doesn’t want to capture princesses or crush castles, all she wants to do is make friends in pastures new. So far, so lovely. But, as she quickly discovers, it’s not quite as easy convincing the other animals that she’s not trouble. Jonny Lambert’s gorgeous illustrations really bring this story of acceptance to life.

by Jon Roberts, illustrated by Hannah Rounding (Graffeg)
Kya, in many ways, is just like your average four-year-old. She likes ice cream, jumping, being cheeky and isn’t so keen on vegetables. However, she is autistic, and you will discover the ways in which she is different. You can almost feel Kya’s energy through the illustrations alone. This gentle book guides the reader into how Kya understands the world as written by her dad.


by Ying Chang Compestine, illustrated by David Roberts (Abrams)
A clever re-working of the Hans Christian Anderson classic, focused on Ma Ding, a nine-year-old boy, who becomes the Emperor of China. Realising he is being tricked by dishonest ministers, he decides to play a trick of his own. Beautifully illustrated by David Roberts (of Rosie Revere, Engineer fame), it weaves Chinese tradition with a message of kindness.

by Harry Heape, illustrated by Rebecca Bagley (Faber & Faber)
In this very funny debut, heroine Pippin lives in Funsprings, where she spends an enormous amount of time with her granny. All sounds pretty ordinary, until you find out that Pippin can speak to animals and her granny used to be a crime fighter. When mysterious goings on begin to happen in the town, can the pair use their skills to solve the mystery?


by Vashti Hardy (Scholastic)
Adventure awaits in this cracking book by Vashti Hardy. The twins, Arthur and Maddie, are on the trail of their father, a famous explorer, who, they’d been told, had died on the way to the South Polaris. The intrepid duo join a new crew, led by Captain Harriet Culpepper, as part of a race to the South Polaris. Can they cut it on the ship, and will they find the truth about their father?

by Jason Reynolds illustrated by Chris Priestley (Faber & Faber)
Written entirely in verse, and spanning the time frame of just one minute, this book follows the story of Will, who is seeking to avenge his brother’s murder. He must follow The Rules: No Crying, No Stitching and Get revenge. As he takes the lift, he is joined by a host of people from the past who make him think about the task ahead. Gripping and darkly illustrated, it is a stunning future classic.


Advice from those who have just emerged on the other side


If you’ve decided to go private for secondary school, by the time your child reaches Year 5 you’ll be contemplating the start line of the 11+ marathon. Having just been through the process myself, I decided that those Year 5 parents, as well as those closing in on application deadlines in November, might want to hear what it was REALLY like, straight from the horse’s mouth. I’ve spoken to parents to gather their perspective on the process, and how they think it could be improved, in addition to bleeding them dry of proper, useful advice and the lowdown on some of London’s most sought-after educational establishments. I think it’s worth noting that the parents I spoke to have children in a range of schools: Putney High, Harrodian, Latymer Upper, Francis Holland, Arts Ed, Ibstock Place and Kew House. So, you will be getting a decent overview.

General feedback from the parents I spoke to was that the process is ‘pretty awful’, ‘tough on parents and children’, ‘frustrating’ and ‘a bit like childbirth – you eventually forget the worst bits!’ One parent told me that their new head teacher recently congratulated the parents and pupils for having made it through the 11+ process in West London, begging the question of whether it is better dealt with out of town (more on that in our Schools Out piece, p29).
One thing is certain, it’s a competitive business and applying for only one school would be foolhardy. Spreading your bets and applying for eight schools is equally daft. It just adds stress and is exhausting for your child (and really, are there eight schools you really love?). Be grown up and make some decisions! The schools don’t exactly discourage applications; as one parent put it, ‘they can make serious money from the registrations, so they’re not going to turn people away!’ Emmanuel School in Clapham is the only one we know of that caps applications each year. Beware, the cut-off is getting earlier and earlier. Blink, and you’ll miss it. And don’t rely on other parents to let you know – its every man and woman for themselves in this game.
Part of the process involves creating a shortlist. Be prepared for some schools to host open evenings that are like ‘bun-fights’, where numbers aren’t controlled, resulting in some parents not being able to get a good feel for the school. Others are ticketed, so you need to book well in advance or you won’t get a look-in. Try to get to as many open days and evenings as you can, even though it becomes a drag in the final stages. It will give you the opportunity to form a better opinion about what is important to you: single-sex, city, out of town, sporty, musical, all-rounder, religious.
Once the choices are made, be prepared for the interview. Some schools only interview candidates that reach a certain exam standard, but most will interview all pupils who apply, sometimes before the exam. Recent questions included:

  • Tell me how a Fitbit works?
  • Describe this object – to this day, I still dont know what it was my daughter was asked to describe.
  • What is time?
  • Rank the schools you have applied to in order from favourite to least favourite (yes, really, a child was asked to do this).
  • What was the greatest invention of the 20th century?
  • Who do you think should be on the new £10 note and why?
  • If you could be anyone for 24 hours, who would you choose & what would you do?

So, now you’ve prepped the questions, you’re ready, right? Wrong. You’ve got the environment to contend with. Some schools rip your loved ones from you at some distance from the exam centre, others provide a welcoming talk, tea and biscuits while you wait. Some interviews are one-on-one with senior management, others are in groups (when, inevitably, one over-confident chatterbox talks over everyone else), and often there will be many interviews taking place in one room at the same time. And then there’s the speed-dating type of interview. Oh yes, not just something for adults. The most important tip here is for you to give your child the confidence they need to be themselves. We have to trust that these schools know what they’re looking for and which child will fit in.

This is a difficult one. Some of the best schools in the country happen to be within a two-mile radius of West London, so it naturally follows that it’s competitive. We all go into this with our eyes open – it’s a selective approach to education, so how is it best to select? Kew House is regarded very positively by local parents as it puts a lot of emphasis on the interview with the headmaster (who, by the way, puts nervous children at ease in seconds). The interviews are also all finished by the end of the Autumn term, meaning it’s one less thing to worry about in January.
A parent I spoke to suggested that there should be a limit to the number of schools that parents apply to. She said: ‘I think this would mean people categorised their choices better – the more academic kids would apply for the more academic schools, with maybe one fall-back, the less academic kids would apply for the middle/lower ranked (academia-wise) schools, with maybe one hopeful. This would stop the more academic kids being offered loads of places in schools they are unlikely to accept, therefore stopping so many kids having to go through the wait-listing process. It would also make the numbers applying to the schools more realistic.’ Another idea was to put co-ed schools together, like the North London Girls’ School Consortium. So, ‘one maths and English paper is taken by each child, and these papers are considered by all schools. The mixed schools, such as Ibstock, Harrodian, Kew, Radnor House & St Benedicts, could form a West London Consortium. If they want to do their own verbal/non-verbal tests, then they can, but the main exams would be cut down considerably.’



  • Get a tutor.
  • Don’t get a tutor. The debate will go on.
  • Get a folder & get organised! Buy stamps and envelopes now. Few of the schools use online applications. You’ll need photocopies of your child’s passport & passport-sized photos of him/her. The admin around applying and each exam day (whether your child needs to wear a certain sticker, take a card with them, etc) is surprisingly full-on, but you need to be calm and in-control so they don’t feel your stress as well!
  • Focus on your child and what they need from a secondary school, not what others think or which are the most popular schools of the moment.
  • Some people go completely bonkers through the process … ignore them.
  • When you look around a school, try and look for the reason you might not want your child to go there – these schools are all excellent!
  • Try to get to as many open days and evenings as you can, even though it becomes a drag in the final stages. You will form a better opinion about what is important to you: single-sex, distance from home, journey to school, sporty, musical, all-rounder, religious.
  • Many schools host more than one open day at different times of year. When trying to narrow things down, going to a second open day is a good way to help finalise a view. You may well see a school in a very different light the second time around, especially if you only saw it once, right at the beginning of the process.
  • Believe in your own judgement regarding your child’s potential, and be realistic about where they will get in. There’s no point putting them through the stress of a highly academic school just because you really want them to go there, when the reality is that they will probably achieve more in the long term if they went to a school that was more academically appropriate for them.
  • Listen to your child – having gone through this process twice now, both my children have been very clear about which school is their favourite, even if it may not have been my first choice. They are the ones who have to spend the next five to seven years at that school, so it’s better they make the decision with you, rather than you deciding for them.
  • Don’t cross-examine your child after each exam. Chances are, they will have made some classic errors and it’s very difficult to pretend not to care! Best not to know.
  • Be prepared for rejection. Getting offers from all their schools is for the very few. Knowing how to be positive is an important skill here.
  • If you’re on a wait-list, call the school immediately and express your 100% desire to be part of their intake in the Autumn. One headmaster joked that this is the time to send flowers and chocolates to the registrar concerned. Joking aside, begging letters, expensive gifts and stalking have been known.
  • Alternatively, take the view that if the school doesn’t want your child, you don’t want them to go there!
  • Relax, do not stress. It does work itself out in the end. Easier said than done. Take it from one who knows!

With thanks to Cherry Wood, Claire Rimmer, Sharon Hart, Maria Viader, David Ewen and Sarah Norman-Taylor.


By Jo Pratt

Whether you’re a full time vegetarian, or simply cutting down on the meat you and your family eat, you might find it a challenge to find recipes the whole family will enjoy eating. Well, worry not as this burger recipe will more than please meat-eaters and veggies alike. Quite often, a veggie burger is thought of as a boring, flavourless, wholesome substitute to an indulgent meaty beef burger. I’m pleased to say that this recipe is far from flavourless, and certainly shouldn’t be considered a boring substitute to a meat version. The burger has a fabulous meaty texture and holds up really well when adding numerous toppings before being sandwiched into a soft burger bun. I’ve chosen to do melting smoked cheese, sticky sweet onions, spiced mayo, gherkins and lettuce. However, just a good squirt of tomato ketchup can be just as satisfying for some. For the ultimate experience, serve your delicious veggie burgers with some homemade sweet potato fries and a crunchy coleslaw. You could also create your own American style diner and have a selection of milkshakes on the go as well.


VEGGIEBURGERS with onion marmalade and harissa

TAKES 1 hour + 1 hour chilling
TO SERVE 4 brioche buns, split in half
100g/3 1⁄2 oz sliced smoked cheddar cheese 6 tbsp mayonnaise
1-2 tsp harissa paste
baby gem lettuce leaves
sliced gherkins


olive oil
250–300g/9–10 1⁄2 oz flat or portabella mushrooms, cut into approx. 1cm/1⁄2 inch pieces
1 large (approx. 400g/14 oz) aubergine (eggplant), cut into approx. 1cm /1⁄2 inch pieces
6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
3 tbsp brown sauce (such as HP or Daddies) 175g/6 oz fresh breadcrumbs
1 egg
1 1⁄2 tsp mixed dried herbs
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


25g/10 oz butter
3 red onions, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed 60ml/2 oz balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp soft dark brown sugar

To make the marmalade, melt the butter in a large saucepan.
Add the sliced onions and garlic, and season well. Gently cook over a low–medium heat until the onions are deep golden and caramelised, around 20 minutes. Increase the heat and add the balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan. Add the sugar and cook for a further 5 minutes, then season again. Cool to room temperature.

To make the burgers, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the mushrooms over a high heat until coloured and any moisture has cooked away. Tip into a bowl to cool. Return the pan to the heat. Heat a further 2 tablespoons of oil and fry the aubergine until golden and tender, tossing around in the pan, to prevent it from burning. Remove from the heat and also leave to cool.

Put the cooled mushrooms and aubergine into a food processor along with the garlic, brown sauce, breadcrumbs, egg and herbs. Season with salt and pepper and blend until the mixture is thoroughly mixed. Using wet hands, firmly shape into four thick burgers and put on a parchment-lined tray or plate. Chill in the fridge for 1 hour.

Heat a glug of olive oil in a frying pan. Fry the burgers over a medium–high heat for around 4 minutes each side until cooked.

Heat the grill to medium–high. Halve the brioche buns and lightly toast the cut sides. At the same time, top the burgers with slices of cheese and sit under the grill until melted. Mix the mayonnaise and harissa together. Spread some onto the bottom halves of the buns, then lay on some lettuce and a spoon of onion marmalade. Sit the burger on top, add sliced gherkins and nally a dollop of harissa mayonnaise. Lightly press down with the bun lid.

Flexible For a more traditional meat burger, sauté 1 chopped onion and 2 cloves of garlic in 25g/1oz butter. Leave to cool then mix with 600g/1lb 5oz good-quality minced steak, 6 rashers of finely diced smoked streaky bacon, 1 beaten egg, 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard and plenty of salt and pepper. Shape into four burgers and chill for 30 minutes. Fry in a trickle of olive oil for 3–4 minutes each side (medium) before finishing with the cheese on top under the grill.


TAKES 15 minutes

1 red-skinned apple, such as Braeburn or Pink Lady
1 tbsp lemon juice
1⁄2 fennel
1⁄4 red cabbage
125g/4 1⁄2 oz crème fraiche
50g/ 2 oz natural (plain) yoghurt
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp cider vinegar
1 tsp celery salt
Flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


TAKES 40-45 minutes

4 medium–large sweet potatoes
1 1⁄2 tbsp fine polenta 1⁄2 tsp paprika
olive oil
flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Remove the core from the apple and cut the apple into matchstick size pieces. Put into a large bowl and toss in the lemon juice. Very finely slice or shred the fennel, cabbage, radishes and shallots either using a very sharp knife and steady hand, a mandolin or a slicer blade on a food processor. Add to the apple and toss everything together.

Mix together the crème fraiche, yoghurt, Dijon mustard, cider vinegar and celery salt. Season with a good twist of pepper and mix thoroughly into the vegetables. Season to taste. Chill in the fridge for about 1 hour for the dressing to absorb into the vegetables a little, and for all of the flavours to combine.

Heat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas 7.

Peel the potatoes and cut into long 1cm / 1⁄2 inch chip shapes. Wash well in cold water and pat dry. Tip onto a baking tray. Scatter over the polenta, paprika, pinch of salt, pepper and a decent drizzle of olive oil (enough to lightly coat the potatoes). Toss together and bake in the oven for 30–40 minutes, turning a few times throughout, until golden and crispy.

The Flexible Vegetarian

by Jo Pratt,
£20 (Frances Lincoln)



Sharky and George guide us on the best things to do with kids in our fair city’s green spaces.

London has the best parks of any city in the world. FACT! There are over 1000 acres of park just between Regent’s, Hyde, Green and St. James’s Park but Battersea Park is the real gem. With Go Ape, Putt in the Park, pedalos, and an awesome zoo you definitely won’t be lacking for great things to do. Here are a few top tips for activities in any park this summer:

Bug Hunting – All you need is a jam jar, a little net, a magnifying glass, a log book and you are away. Have a look under rocks or fallen branches, under the bark of trees or in long grass and you are sure to come across lots of creepy crawlies. Gently put them in you jar or container and then count their legs, eyes and wings. Do a little drawing of them in your log book and then set them free!

Homemade Kite-Flying – You can buy kite kits online for about £2-3 which are fun and easy to put together but most importantly fly really well.

Water Pressure Rocket Launching – Rockit do the best kits for about £15 and there is so much you can do with them. You need your Rockit, a selection of bottles (check the cap fits onto the thread of each bottle), a bicycle pump and a water source. You can then experiment with different amounts of water in different size bottles to see how high you can go! We find that smaller bottles about half full of water tend to go the highest so bigger isn’t always better. 

If, on the off chance, you want your children to do all these things and a lot more from 10th-28th July, then it just so happens that Sharky and George is running its Adventure Club in Hyde Park between those dates! Each day will be jam-packed with fun, games and endless activities, including tug of war, mini olympics, rocket launching, science madness, pedalos, spy quests and of course, lots of water bombs. Adventure Club is suitable for children aged between 5-10 years old and tickets can be purchased here. They’d be crazy to miss out on the fun! 

We can also do something a bit more bespoke for you. For example, there was a bit of an issue last summer when the Queen’s birthday presents were stolen by a disgruntled security guard! The children were met by a special agent in a London Hotel looking for help to recover them. The only intelligence they had was a ticket with a number. It turned out it was a cloakroom ticket for the hotel and the children quickly recovered a locked metal briefcase and an envelope with a code. What followed was an undercover rendez-vous with an accomplice of the security guard outside Buckingham Palace (to coincide with the Changing of the Guard at 11am!), a meeting with another agent and a wild goose chase that took them around all the best London landmarks. It ended with a serious water-bombing of the mischievous security guard so that he would reveal the hiding place and a probable Knighthood from the queen!







As the real world gets ever more crazy, as politics and politicians break all the rules, as carefully curated Instagram feeds attack our families’ fragile sense of self-worth, as nature throws us earthquakes and erupting volcanoes, as SATs and 11+, GCSEs and A Levels take on an importance disproportionate to their worth, the need to seek solace from this exhausting, mostly man-made madness increases.

Guiding our children through this fog is not a job for the faint-hearted. Nor is it a job to be tackled alone. There are many influencers in our children’s lives, starting with us as parents. As our children grow, the field of influence widens. Siblings, other family members, teachers and peers all inform their decisions. These are real-life interactions, and many people within these groups are positive role models.

However, the trouble with families, as the adage goes, is that you can’t pick them. The negative role we are cast in when very young can stay with us for life: the difficult one, the whining one, the greedy one, the bossy one, the lazy one … while often coming from a place of deep love, these epithets can become self-fulfilling and, subsequently, toxic. Well-meaning family members and friends can enforce negative pre-conceptions and display limited patience or creativity (hands up, anyone?) as influencers.

Similarly, as parents, we take great care in choosing a school to fit the character of our child. However we have no choice in our child’s classmates or teachers. It is left to chance as to whether there will be a conflict or confluence of interests. Many is the primary school child who is lost in the middle of the class, seemingly invisible to the teacher, pin-balling between sets of friends, unable to find their tribe.

Online media, particularly social media, holds sway over our emotionally vulnerable pre-teen and teen offspring. To get a handle on the enormity of this, take 25-year-old YouTube vlogger Joe Sugg (younger brother of the even more successful Zoe, aka Zoella), who has over ten million registered viewers. His videos have had more than a billion views. That’s quite some influence. To put it into old-school perspective, the daily circulation figures of all the British broadsheet newspapers combined are far lower at just over 1.5 million. Or, how about Selena Gomez with her 107 million Instagram followers, or the not-sure-how-much-of-her-is-real selfie queen Kim Kardashian with 90.6 million followers?

One of the greatest triumphs of social media has been its means of giving everyone a voice. It has given increased empowerment to the women of the world in particular, and has helped launch businesses and careers alike, for which, three massive cheers. It is, however, all too often a one-way relationship (Gomez follows a mere 254 on Instagram, Kardashian an even more paltry 104), a super-edited falsity that encourages our children to judge their inside on others’ outside.

Carol Dweck, a psychology professor at Stanford University, and one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of motivation, talks of the importance of encouraging a growth mindset in children, as opposed to a fixed mindset where the child sees ability as something that is pre-set.

So, who should we turn to for help in nurturing this growth mindset? At the end of last year, I went to the funeral of someone we had known only briefly, but whose impact on our family’s lifehad been immense. Brian Appiah Obeng taught freerunning with the Foucan Freerunning Academy in Hammersmith. He was a real-life super hero. Tragically, in a cruel and unpredictable plot twist, he died unexpectedly from an asthma attack. He was a mammoth of a man in spirit, soul and stature, and he turned my child into someone who could move with freedom and ease. What I didn’t realise when I signed my son up was how much else he’d learn: how to have fun, gain confidence, see opportunity in everything, better learn how to make friends and have a laugh, all the while getting fitter and stronger in the company of someone with extraordinary patience and kindness.

As I walked home from the Tube, after his funeral, I realised that, sitting beside my sadness over his passing, there lay a small seed of optimism. It felt as though he had left his boundless zeal for life in the care of his friends and colleagues. I then looked at the other out-of-school activities my primary school-aged children and their friends were doing, and realised it was as much about the influence of the person leading the activity as the activity itself: inspirational people who are experts in their fields. They all have an extraordinary rapport with the kids, offering encouragement, regardless of ability and circumstance. In short, they gave so much more than itemised on the receipt.

Real-life influencers create a place where, for our child, the world is as it should be – where all the things they perceive as marking them negatively different melt into nothingness. It is a place where they are allowed, and encouraged, to be the best version of themselves. Where meeting their potential is purposeful. An influencer is someone who has your child’s back. It is someone who can encourage your child to flourish beyond the restrictions of school or home. An influencer can light a fire in a child’s belly, one that tells them to reach beyond the confines of (dis)ability, wealth, nationality, race, gender and any other restrictions that hold our children back. Influencers are always radiators, they never drain.

Brian was a man of many talents: photographer, actor, writer and freerunner. He posted his work on a site called Broken Jumps. A broken jump is a freerunning term for “an act that you’ve succeeded at that you’d never done before and likely was something that scared you before you did it”. This is what a good influencer will help your child achieve.

Such richly influential people are all around us. When discussing the wealth of activities on our doorstep with an out-of-towner, I was blithely told that such classes do, in fact, exist in the provinces. Maybe, but not as many within walking distance, and not necessarily with a diverse group of participants taught by some of the best in their field. This is where living in London is such a privilege.

Next time you are wondering what activity you should sign your child up for, whether it’s to buy you more time at work or to encourage some independence, consider what else they are going to learn. Choose wisely and go and break some jumps.


Kite Studios is an art studio just off the Askew Road, set up and run by Auriol Herford. It bills itself as a creative oasis for all. From toddlers to retirees, via exam portfolios for teens, Kite Studios is an all-inclusive place where Auriol’s experience with her own special needs son informs so much of her exceptional teaching. This has been a welcoming port in a storm for many a mother ship, regardless of their child’s ability.

Sébastien Foucan, president of Parkour UK, runs classes in Hammersmith. If you don’t get Sébastien himself (‘that guy from Casino Royale’), no matter: all the teachers are inspirational.

Trapeze, silks, hoop… this class in Hammersmith is as fun as its name suggests. Courage, strength and team work are required while egos can be left on the ground.  Paula and Diego, both from Colombia, are inspirational teachers and exceptional talents.

As the longest-running karate school in the area, these are the masters of strength, co-ordination and concentration. Adults learn alongside children and there’s a heavy side portion of respect and fun.

Ask your friends if anyone knows a reliable, inspirational sixth former who could sit and do homework/kick a ball with your child. They will be grateful for the money. Get the right influencer, and your child will flourish.


The importance of teaching students ‘international mindedness’

Diane Hren, Head of School at ACS Hillingdon International School

In an ever-changing world and increasingly global workplace, the importance of young people being internationally-minded and aware of global issues is more relevant than ever before. Living in such an interconnected world requires a generation of problem solvers and creative thinkers who can understand challenges from a range of cultural perspectives.

International schools are perfectly positioned to help students widen their horizons. A classroom with peers and teachers from all over the world offers students the unique opportunity to explore curriculum subjects from multiple viewpoints, challenging perceptions and broadening their understanding across complex subjects.

ACS Hillingdon International School, one of three ACS International Schools in the UK, has students enrolled from over 50 nationalities. For its 570 students, aged 4 to 18, being educated in this hugely diverse international community, combined with receiving an international education, develops a global mindset and helps forge that all important international mindedness and understanding.

An international education

Qualifications and learning programmes that extend beyond national boundaries have to be central to an international education. At ACS Hillingdon, we offer highly regarded, world-renowned, International and US programmes, including the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP), Advanced Placement (AP) courses, a US High School Diploma and an Honours programme.

Studying these globally recognised qualifications means our students are well prepared to go on to attend the university of their choice, in the UK or anywhere in the world. UK University admissions officers cited the IBDP as the best preparation for University, compared to A Levels, according to research conducted on behalf of ACS. Admissions officers believe that the IBDP develops essential aptitudes needed to thrive at university, such as independent inquiry, open-mindedness and self-management skills.

We believe that a well-rounded and balanced school life is key to developing confident and happy individuals. ACS Hillingdon has an exciting and dynamic mix of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, and we help each student realise his/her potential in everything they do.

Developing global citizens

In 2015, ACS Hillingdon became the first school in Europe to be awarded International Certification status from the Council of International Schools (CIS), recognising its provision of high quality international education.

An ACS International Schools alumni survey revealed that 78 per cent of respondents believed that attending an international school meant they had the confidence to live and work anywhere in the world and 84 per cent said they had greater tolerance and respect for other cultures.

 “Attending an international school broadened my horizons; it helped me realise that there were many things within my grasp beyond what I had previously considered.” –  ACS alumni.

Through an international education and exposure to a multicultural mix of students at an international school, students emerge from education as well-rounded, culturally aware individuals, who respect others and can think independently and critically. While many students are expatriates, it is local, UK families who are joining in ever-increasing numbers as awareness of the life-long benefits of an international education can give grows.

To find out more about how ACS Hillingdon can enrich your child’s education or to register for an Open Morning visit

Hillingdon Graduations 2016



William Morris Society, Kelmscott House, Hammersmith –
Get hands-on with printing! A workshop in two parts, for children age 6-12. In the first part, create your own design and use it to print a picture inspired by William Morris designs.
Then in the second part, make a card for someone you love using wooden printing blocks.

All materials are supplied and you will take home your Valentine’s card and design printed on paper.

Price: £5 per child
Book online or contact us at

Refreshments (squash & biscuits) provided.
Please note that children under 8 must be accompanied by an adult.
Venue: William Morris Society, Kelmscott House 26 Upper Mall, Hammersmith W6 9TA, Tel: 020 8741 3735





We are looking for someone to join the City Kids family to help grow our ever popular magazine.

You will be joining us at a very exciting time as we look to expand our online and print presence. You will be responsible for developing existing and new relationships in various sectors including fashion, lifestyle and education.

You will be required to work remotely on a freelance basis with occasional catch up meetings at City Kids HQ. The successful candidate will be someone who likes flexible working, is great at managing their time and who can offer 15-20 hours a week to the role.

Ideally you will have previous experience in sales, publishing and the family market, but the job will also suit someone who is self-motivated, persistent and who knows the parent and kids’ market in London inside out.

We are looking to recruit as soon as possible, so please send your CV to Victoria Evans at

Issue 9Issue-7

Issue 10



Emily Day

There aren’t many babies who haven’t enjoyed an Organix cereal bar, rice cake or packet of puffs. Now Organix is expanding into healthy snacks for older children, with the launch of its new range Punk’d. Emily Day, Food Development Manager at Organix, is responsible for creating the new range, so we asked her how she turned the idea into reality.

We’re full of ideas for new foods, it’s one of the really exciting things about my job. For years we’ve thought about how we can apply all we’ve learnt from making baby foods into cooking up ideas for food that mums and dads can give to their children as they grow up.

Our inspiration is parents. We want to create foods that parents want and need, so a big part of my job is talking to mums and dads. We believe it’s our responsibility as the food industry to help parents, by providing good healthy choices. We found mums are struggling to find healthy snacks for children as they get older, and they’re concerned about the junk in children’s food, and that’s what really convinced us to get into the kitchen and make Punk’d happen.

We decided to start with cereal bars, as it’s one of the biggest selling snacks for kids – and there’s lots of bars out there that are pretty full of junk. Developing it has been quite a speedy process, it’s taken about eight months – compared to an average food development timescale of between 18 months to two years.

Of course there were lots of food regulations we needed to meet, and we also have our own very strict standards we work to, we call it our No Junk Promise. It means we always use organic ingredients and no junk to ensure we produce the best food possible – for parents it’s a stamp of reassurance.

We only ever use a small number of ingredients in our foods, we won’t use any hidden cheap ingredients, no flavourings or colourings – “natural” or otherwise – no artificial sweeteners and no added salt. We like to make life difficult for ourselves! That means no compromises or short cuts. So a big part of my job is finding the ingredients that will work – making sure we can get enough of them, so that the food will be affordable – and of course trying them all to make sure they taste great!

We tried around 20 different kitchen recipes for the bars, before narrowing it down to get the right soft texture and developing the flavours, which we researched with mums. We’ve chosen two flavours – Cocoa & Orange Crash (my favourite!) and Strawberry & Vanilla Smash, and we already have a third flavour in the pipeline!
The result is a bar made with real recognisable ingredients, great taste and absolutely no junk! Of course there’s lots of rigorous testing to be done too before we get into producing them or get anywhere near the shops, including food safety, shelf life and nutrition.

Once my job’s done the marketing team work their magic, so they’ve wrapped Punk’d up in bold, bright and colourful packs, so it’s cool for kids to eat.

You’ll find Organix Punk’d bars at




In the Mood for Quick Family FoodWith summer upon us and temperatures rising (well…let’s hope so), our appetite changes somewhat and we tend to crave lighter foods such as fresh fruits, salads and healthier dishes. This is the ideal time to get creative, spend less time cooking and more time assembling simple dishes with fresh ingredients. Preparing a sharing plate like this this fig salad is such a simple and delicious way to celebrate wonderfully ripe figs, salty cured ham, full flavoured curd cheese and fragrant honey. This is the perfect recipe to serve any time of the day, whether it be for brunch, lunch or starter. And if you’re planning a trip out to pick your own strawberries or, like me, you automatically add them to your shopping list as soon as the British season starts, then why not serve them with this amazing cashew cream. It’s lower in saturated fat than dairy cream, high in calcium and zinc, which are great for your immune system and skin. This healthier twist to the classic British dessert of strawberries and cream will go down a treat with all the family. Enjoy and have a great summer!



Fig, serrano and curd cheese salad with honey dressing


• 12-16 figs, depending on their size
• 12-16 slices Serrano ham
• 200g sheep’s curd cheese, or ricotta if unavailable
• 2 sprigs fresh oregano
• 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• juice of ½ lemon
• 1 tbsp honey
(try a flavoured one such as thyme, lavender or orange blossom)
• salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/ Cut the figs in quarters and sit onto plates. Lay slices of ham in between the figs. Spoon the curd cheese into the middle.

2/ To make the dressing, strip the leaves off the oregano stalks and roughly chop. Place half in a bowl and mix with the olive oil, lemon juice, honey, and season with salt and pepper.

3/ Drizzle the dressing over the top of the salad, scatter over the remaining oregano and serve.


Padron peppers


These are traditionally Spanish, though widely available everywhere now, particularly during the summer months. The thing I love about these little green peppers is that, every so often, you come across a fiery one, making it like a game of Russian Roulette when you eat them. Cook as a tasty pre-dinner nibble or part of a tapas selection.

• 2 tbsp olive oil
• 1 bag of Padron peppers
• sea salt

1/ Heat a frying pan or wok over a medium heat. Add the oil.

2/ Add the peppers and fry over a medium heat for about 4-5 minutes, tossing and shaking the pan every once in a while, until you see the skin of the peppers blister and they appear to be shrinking.

3/ Sprinkle fairly generously with sea salt and serve hot. Grab them by the stalk, take a bite and see if you’ve a feisty one or not. Either way, they are simply delicious.



Strawberries with vanilla cashew cream

PREPARATION TIME 5 minutes + 2 hours soaking

• 400g / 14oz ripe strawberries
• freshly ground black pepper
• a few basil leaves, finely shredded (optional)
• juice of ½ lime
• ice cubes, to serve (optional)

For the vanilla cashew cream
• 150g / 5.oz / ¼ cups cashew nuts
• seeds from 1 vanilla pod/bean
• 2 tbsp maple syrup
1/ To make the cashew cream, put the cashews in a bowl and cover with water.Leave to soak for about 2 hours to soften.

2/ Drain the softened cashews and put them in a food processor with 125ml / 4fl oz/ ½ cup cold water. Blend until completely smooth, adding up to 125ml / 4fl oz / ½ cup more water, as necessary, until it is smooth and creamy, and you have a cream as thick or loose as you like. Add the vanilla seeds and maple syrup and briefly blitz to combine.

3/ Prepare the strawberries as you like, whether you want to serve them whole or cut up. Add a twist of pepper and scatter over the basil, if using. Serve with the vanilla cashew cream.


Richer education

If your child is curious about science, or in fact, if they find their school classes a touch dull, then why not seek out a place where they can get involved in real life experiments. Every Saturday, Richer Education runs workshops in science, robotics and civil engineering, taking their learning to the next level.

Courses take place at Imperial College and each workshop is designed to inspire and motivate primary aged children into learning about science in a hands-on, practical way. A typical science workshop might be anything from dissecting a real heart, turning wine into water, to literally holding fire in their hands. In robotics, children can learn to write code, build a robot with robotic arms, that can grasp objects and how to synchronize multiple robots to make them dance. In Civil Engineering, children learn to find solutions to real life engineering challenges, in a child friendly way.

Science Saturday workshops are 9.30 – 11.30, whilst Robotic Saturday workshops run from 12-2pm, and Civil Engineering classes are at 2-4pm. All classes take place at Imperial College.

For more information go to



Eight year old Max realised his dream of becoming an estate agent, as he officially opened Hamptons International’s latest branch at KidZania London.

He was invited to open the branch and became its first ‘Junior Estate Agent’ after sending the company a letter asking what qualifications and skills he needed to enter the profession saying “I really want to do this job when I grow up”.

He was invited to cut the red tape alongside KidZania London’s mayor, and went on to make his first sale within the concession.

KidZania London is the UK’s first educational entertainment experience which aims to offer real-life work experiences for 4-14 year olds. You have to see it to believe it. Hamptons International is just one of several global brands including British Airways, Renault, H&M and Cadbury’s which gives children an insight into how their industry works.

hamptonsbranch Hamptons International Opens Branch at KidZania London (8) 150116



Words: Victoria Evans | Reviewers: Isabel & Lucas Evans

As my husband reminded me on the way to Berkshire, you really can’t afford to get it wrong with kids and Christmas. The stakes are high for Lapland UK, but all bets are off. This is, hands down, the best Christmas experience the kids have ever had.

In true Evans style we were late following a minor detour to The Royal Berkshire Golf Club…no matter. The friendly elf on reception immediately set the tone for the afternoon’s experience – full immersion in Elf–talk, magic and imagination. The kids, now armed with their own Elf Passports, were excited even before we were ushered to the cosy, warm yurt-style tent, complete with sparkling fairy lights, a leafy canopy and elf performance. We learned how to perfect an elf wave before the door to The Enchanted Forest was opened. A world of white, snow encrusted pines was revealed, and the excitement ramped up a gear.

Our elf guide was taking us to the toy factory where the kids learned how important it was to help Father Christmas this year as the Good List is very long. They made a wooden horse and a soft, plush Rudolf (both of which are available to buy at The Emporium later) before the next adventure to meet Mother Christmas in her kitchen for a spot of cookie decorating.

other celf houseelf village sign

It turns out Father Christmas is a gingerbread addict, so Mother Christmas warned the kids to keep their gingerbread houses safe. Elves, being very hospitable folk, also made sure the grown-ups were kept fully charged with a cookie. Nice touch.

The next trail took us to The Elf Village where the kids were free to ice skate, meet huskies, have a reasonably nutritious meal and then go wild in the toy and sweet shops. I’m always a bit bah humbug when it comes to merchandising at large kids’ venues, but The Emporium was at least tasteful with a variety of gifts at a variety of prices. It also didn’t feel too busy which makes a change from the usual Christmas crush.

Then it was time to meet the big man himself. While the rest of the afternoon had been shared with a group of around 50 adults and kids, this was a moment just for us. After checking in and a quick run-through of the personalised information we’d sent a couple of weeks earlier, two elves escorted us to Father Christmas’ wooden cabin, where we could hear him sleeping.

When you have a nine-year-old constantly being told by her friends that Santa doesn’t exist, a trip to Lapland UK could seem pointless. But…let me tell you, the look on both my kids’ faces when they met him was an image I will remember for the rest of my life. The kids hung on his every word and they were both gobsmacked to be sat in the same room as him – how did he know the name of my daughter’s best friend and that she’s just mastered long division? How did he know that my son’s best friend is his daddy or that his favourite iPad game is Terraria?

Of course, Father Christmas wasn’t going to be able to pull Lego Star Wars or cameras from his sack, but it wasn’t filled with naff plastic toys from Poundland either. With a new husky soft toy in hand, the kids emerged, totally wowed by what had just happened. All that was left was to purchase our family photo (this will be the only moment we all believe at the same time) before heading off into the night, full of excitement for the month ahead.

We took a six and nine year old who still believe, but I’d stick my neck out that even non-believers would leave Lapland UK with an inkling that Father Christmas exists.

A word from our reviewers…

“It’s the best place ever! I loved it! I didn’t want to leave! It’s soooo magical, we actually saw Santa’s sleigh and reindeer. We built toys with elves and made a gingerbread house with Mother Christmas. I LOVED meeting Father Christmas, he gave us a cuddly toy. He also showed me that I was on the good list!” Isabel, 9.

“I ice-skated and two elves could turn around! I saw Santa and he gave me a free present. He was really wonderful. I went to Pixie Mixie the Elf’s sweet shop. It was really yummy!” Lucas, 6.





West London born and bred, he has come a long way since his dysfunctional school days. discovered by Jamie Oliver at Fifteen, he now presents the BBC’s Junior Bake Off and will be appearing at The Cake and Bake Show in October.

Aaron Craze

I wasn’t very good at school. I was talking to my daughters who love school and they asked what my last day was like, but I don’t think I even turned up! Because I have dyslexia, I couldn’t get on at school, they thought that I was being disruptive. I had a good time with my friends but academically I couldn’t do it.

It changes you, you become more responsible, more punctual because you have to be on time and you have responsibility in the kitchen. You have to clean up as a person and become organised. It gave me a career where you can work anywhere in the world.

He has a lot of energy, he’s honest, and there’s never been a scandal with him. He’s a good guy, a hard worker and he cares about people and issues so he puts everything into it. He’s a person to look up to and a good role model.

If I hadn’t got into cooking I wouldn’t be doing tv. I have two different lives, and I’ve been around the world – I’m pretty lucky. I’m flying to the Philippines shortly to film The Amazing Food Challenge for the Asian Food Channel. It’s like Masterchef but with lots of adventure.

I have children so it’s easy for me. Kids have good imaginations and they always have something to say. When I was a kid no one
really did baking with us but now they just know what they’re doing. They’ve got their own recipes – it’s really impressive.

We like to go for a bike ride by the river from Putney to Barnes or we’ll spend time with my sister and their cousin with a take away and movies. I’m away so much that I like just spending time with them and catching up.

I’d invite UB40, Bob Marley, Ricky Gervais, Chris Martin and probably Jennifer Lawrence. We’d eat a roast leg of lamb.

I love to grab some Ochi at Shepherd’s bush with my daughters. If I was looking for a restaurant, I like Italian, so I’d go to La Famiglia in Chelsea.

I’m doing an interactive class, where I’m making Portuguese tarts; on the Live Stage I’ll be making a lemon curd tart; and I’m also doing a Masterclass for Cannoli and Chocolate Marquise.

Aaron has kindly shared one of his recipes with us. A cauliflower creme brulee probably wouldn’t be top of my list but got to be worth a go!

Aaron’s Cauliflower Crème Brûlée recipe

And if you would like to see Aaron and a host of cooking personalities at The Cake & Bake Show next month, follow this link to our giveaway.


by Professor Rebecca Earley

Part 1: Why Go Green?

We all love to look good, and we want our kids to be well dressed, but whilst the price of fashion can often be a bargain for our wallets the cost to the planet is far from cheap. However, research shows that even the greenest of green people find it tough to economically clothe themselves and their families in a totally ethical way. I’m not here to slap your wrists for occasionally buying baskets of fast fashion. Rather this is a guide to help us all shop a little greener, buy with a conscience and discover the high street or online good guys.

I contacted some old friends and asked these eco activist mums how they clothed their kids and these are the ideas they shared.


The eco kids wear story is currently mostly about looking for 100% certified organic cotton and fair trade made, but there are a few other things to think about.

Good quality fabrics and strong stitching – So many ecomums say that when buying new it’s worth buying from brands like Boden, as they stand the test of time. Look for organic cotton, and the new cellulosics like tencel and lyocell. Try to buy monomaterial clothes – all made from the same fibre rather than a mix of fibre types (e.g. cotton with polyester), for easier recycling at end of life.

Colours and material finishes – no patent leather shoes or fluorescent colours, which are very toxic! Darker colours mean more dyestuff has been used and that’s not good for the environment. Go for prints – they hide the dirt and stains and don’t have to be washed so often.

Multifunctional garments – trouser legs that zip off, garments that can be worn inside out.

Sewing – look for good hem allowances on clothes so they can be altered, and items that come with spare buttons and repair patches.


Many brands are now signing up to be greener producers of kids’ clothes – to varying degrees. Right now there are a few that are doing just that little bit more, so it might be worth rewarding them with your custom.

Cheap to Mid Range

In Sweden H&M has long been considered a very good choice for babywear. They were amongst the first to use organic cotton and non-toxic dyes in their ranges, and have recently won awards for their ‘Conscious Commitments’. Look for the green labels in store that show items are part of the Conscious Collection range – I think their recycled polyester stuff is particularly good.

In the UK it’s M&S that comes out top in my poll. Their Plan A work is considered world leading, and the company is dedicated to making a holistic swathe of improvements across their product ranges. (You might feel a bit bored by the design from time to time – but I have inside knowledge that a new designer there is shaking it up a bit, so keep an eye out for the new range!)

Next is another ‘good guy’ – I visited one of their factories in China last year and was really impressed with the conditions and quality (and food – I had lunch in their workers canteen!). Finally, I am currently avoiding the brands that haven’t signed up to the Bangladesh Safety Accord like Gap (who have implemented their own system of standards). More than 170 brands have signed so there are plenty to choose from, including Debenhams, Fat Face and Mothercare.

Mid to High End

Head to Zone 1. Peter Jones or John Lewis – I love their democratic staff policy, who doesn’t? – are increasingly investing in sustainable fashion, so I always head first for People Tree and Polarn O. Pyret. If you want something more upmarket, then Stella McCartney has been working for a long time on the fabrics for her kids line – the organic cotton jersey and wovens are gorgeous, and her packaging is all recycled and recyclable – it all counts!

I would consider the most special upmarket clothes to be bespoke and made especially for you, and for this I recommend Sasti in Portobello. Rosie makes to order, and has the most edgy and fun designs. I really believe UK handmade, in second hand vintage fabrics, is worth saving up for, and may give you a richness of user experience you don’t get with the regular brands.


By far the biggest selection of green kids clothes can be found on the internet. The small labels are generally able to have greater control over their supply chains – working with smaller producers who offer better conditions to workers for instance. You may pay a bit more here, but consider it an investment. The more small green companies there are, the more the big companies will feel the competition and adopt better practices to try to attract the green pound. These small lines mostly focus on fabrics like organic cotton and fair labour conditions – not unlike the high street brands – but they also produce smaller runs of quirky, unusual designs, and you will be supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses as well.

Our cover features clothes made by Swedish brand Mini Rodini, available in Selfridges and online, which holds sustainability, the environment and fair labour at the heart of its core values ( The Fableists is an uber-cool brand, which is chemical and sweatshop labour free – they use 100% organic cotton and their factories are either Fair Wear or Fair Trade. They set up the label to ‘stop the cycle of kids making clothes for other kids’, as they put it ( Frugi clothes are really fun, well made, and designed to last a long time ( A Chelsea textile graduate set up Little Green Radicals and as you would expect the fabrics are gorgeous. They even sell real nappies, and are working with Ecotricity, a green energy provider ( Eternal Creation has a great transparent ethical story – made in the Indian Himalayas – and beautiful clothes to boot, especially their animal print shirts ( For school uniform Eco Outfitters are trying really hard to offer a range of well-priced basics ( Ask your school if they have heard of them.


When you are planning a shopping trip take an hour to double-check what you already have. My ecomums all work a system of hand me downs – and the more organised they were about this, the better it was for the planet. So developing a five-bag system is the key first step:

1. Best Friend Bag.

In here put the nicest hand me downs. If you have a friend who gives you stuff, have a look at what they have given you recently. There is often a bigger anorak or pair of wellies lurking that I had forgotten about – and I end up being able to cross that item off the list.

2. Shwopping Bag.

When you have given away the best stuff to a friend, save a bag for the shwopp! TK Maxx and Cancer Research UK have led the way, running their joint clothing collection campaign since 2004. Give Up Clothes for Good has raised £17.6 million, with £13.1 million funding ground-breaking research into childhood cancers. M&S has recently teamed up with Oxfam, aiming to reduce the volume of clothes thrown into landfill and its environmental impact while supporting Oxfam’s many campaigns.

3. School Fair Bag. Especially good for uniforms, and great for passing on toys and books.

4. Charity Bag.

Avoid chucking any clothes in the bin – no matter how stained and tatty they are your local charity shop can benefit from your donation. Clothes that are not fit for wearing will be sold on to industry as ‘wiping rags’ or to be made into shoddy (a kind of industrial felt material). Bundle shoes together with an elastic band (essential tip!)

5. Mending/Making Bag.

If you or your kids love craft, this bag can be used for projects (old tights for stuffed toys especially good), and mending other clothes with nice fabric patches.

SOME OTHER ORGANIC AND FAIR TRADE BRANDS worth looking at include: Maxomorra (, Slugs & Snails especially for boys tights (, Smafolk (, Toby Tiger (, Sgt.Smith (, Ava & Luc (, and Pigeon (


Chiswick-based mum of two Rebecca Earley is Professor of Sustainable Textiles and Fashion at the University of the Arts London, and Director of the Textile Futures Research Centre. She trained in fashion at Central Saint Martin’s and has taught textile designers at Chelsea College of Arts for nearly twenty years. She currently advises design teams in fashion companies in Sweden, Denmark, USA and the UK about how to design lower impact, longer lasting clothing.