The big presents are often the easiest to buy because our kiddos make it very clear exactly what they want in their (lengthy) letters to Santa. But it’s the great little stocking filler that can be trickier to track down. Here are 10 that we think most kids would love to find on Christmas morning.
Black Friday deals or not, here at City Kids we love supporting the small businesses that create and sell amazing toys, clothes and products for children. The kind of stores where you find that beautiful handmade teddy or unusual little outfit.
These shops and businesses are run by people who love curating a truly interesting and inspiring selection of brands – often from around the world. So, here are ten independent stores that we think you’ll love and where you’re sure to discover the most perfect presents for little ones.
Cottage Toys and Interiors is online boutique online store run by mum of two Jessica, mother of two. We love the stylish selection of high-quality toys and accessories for children and babies. Think gorgeous wooden play dolls houses and train sets alongside adorable baby goodies. There is also room décor, nursery furniture and lighting.
ALL by MAMA is a fantastic marketplace selling gifts that are made by mothers. They offer a platform to small business from all over the UK. It all began just a few years ago as a place for talented Mamas with families to sell their products, with 40 sellers joining the launch.
Now it is a community of 350, featuring over 4,000 products – everything from personalised jewellery to teapots. The baby and children’s sections are a great source of present inspiration where you’ll find toys, books clothing and crafts. The type of website where you can get all your Christmas shopping sorted with just a few clicks.
Award winning creative children’s store Olive Loves Alfie was founded in London in 2006 by mum Ashlyn Gibson and has grown to be a go-to for those looking for sustainable, ethical and beautifully designed products. As well as opening a London store in Stoke Newington, Ashlyn has designed her own range of ethical children’s wear and stocks brands such as Mini Rodini and Veja. Pop into the shop or check out the lovely selection of books, toys and clothing online.
KidPix was launched in May 2018 by two friends Katya and Sian who met while studying together at the University of Oxford. Today the platform connects customers and independent designers and allows for a range style preferences, sizes (ages 0-14 years) and budgets.
The pair have a great eye and mix brands such as Lola and Blake and their bright prints with the more traditional looks of Beatrice and Bea – meaning there is something to suite all tastes. Plus, they offer a personal shopping service if you want some extra help choosing.
Discerning parents already know about the plastic free appeal of Cotton Twist’s craft kits. What started as a campaign to reinvent the tat in party bags has now become an emporium of tasteful, creative crafting for kids. From personalised keepsake boxes to craft kits with eco warrior credentials, you’re bound to find something to keep the kids amused, and perhaps a little educated, this Christmas.
Each of the hats made by Little Hotdog Watson are unique, produced ethically, and most importantly, can be chucked into the washing machine! For your peace of mind they’re also lined to be super warm, have reflective detailing for those dark days, and are water resistant. Different colour ways, patterns and styles are all available from this hat expert!
If you’re trying your best to go green this Christmas then look no further than this amazing site. Founded by Mims’ mission to be more mindful and conscious in shopping for her daughter, the site now offers products from a range of ethically driven small businesses.
We’ve been lucky to work with Jo Pratt since the very early days of City Kids Magazine. Here we have an exclusive, yet to be published recipe, straight from the test kitchen.
BAKED PEA AND PANEER SAMOSAS
I’m a huge fan of making family friendly recipes from simple to source ingredients, often using ones that are already sitting in my fridge or cupboard. These crunchy baked filo pastry parcels are a perfect example. Strips of pastry are filled with a mildly spiced vegetable and cheese filling. I have used paneer, a classic Indian cheese, but cottage cheese, feta or even halloumi would work equally as well.
It’s not just the cheese you can be flexible with, as you can increase the spice by swapping the korma paste for a hotter spice such as tikka masala or rogan josh. Once cooked, the samosas can be served hot or cold, as a snack, starter, lunch with mango chutney and raita, or as an accompaniment to a curry feast.
sunflower or rapeseed oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, grated
2 cloves garlic, crushed or grated
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 tbsp korma paste
1 tsp tomato puree
200g paneer cheese, finely diced
2 tbsp desiccated coconut
175g frozen peas, defrosted
4 sheets filo pastry
1-2 tsp nigella seeds and or sesame seeds
Heat 2 tbsp oil in a frying pan. Add the onion, carrot, garlic and ginger, and sauté for about 10 minutes until the onion is beautifully soft.
Stir in the korma paste, tomato puree, paneer, coconut, peas, 1 tbsp water and a pinch of salt. Cook for about 5 minutes stirring frequently until the filling has all cooked together nicely. Check for seasoning and add more salt if you feel it needs it.
Remove the pan from the heat and cool slightly.
Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.
Cut each piece of the filo pastry into 4 strips. Working on 4 strips at a time, brush each one lightly with oil. To prevent the remaining pastry from drying out, keep covered with a damp towel.
Spoon a heaped tablespoon of the filling onto the bottom corner of each lightly oiled pastry strip. Fold over diagonally to create a triangle over the filling. Continue to fold/roll the pastry around the filling, keeping the triangle shape, securing in the filling.
For more of Jo’s brilliant recipes, or to buy The Flexible Vegetarian head to jo-pratt.com
Oh how we love a Christmas Jumper here at City Kids. From Fair Isle to sparkly, there is a great selection of festive knits for kids this season.
And there are so many opportunites to wear them, but none better than Save the Children’s Christmas Jumper Day on Friday 13 December. Sign up your work, school or friends and get a free fundraising pack. Then donate £2 (or £1 if you’re at school) and that money will help children all around the world. Raising money for a fantastic cause and getting to wear a super-fun festive outfit – what’s not to love?
So here’s our top 10 picks from the high street to keep your kiddos look cool this yule.
Taking the kids to see Father Christmas is a real Christmas highlight. There are still tickets available to meet Santa and we’ve rounded up the best grottos and places to meet the big man himself.
Santa Land in Hyde Park
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is a Christmas extravaganza. In the heart of the Capital, you’ll find fairground rides, the largest open-air ice rink in the UK, a Christmas market and exciting new attractions such as the world’s tallest transportable observation wheel. And of course, there is Santa Land where you can meet the man of the moment.
The grotto will be open from 10am to 6pm and is free. Santa will have a gift for all children who’ve been good but be aware that you can’t book a visit to the grotto as it’s run on a first-come first-served basis, so make sure to factor in some potential waiting time. There is certainly plenty to make your visit a great day out.
Father Christmas once again returns to his secret London headquarters at the Royal Albert Hall. In this theatrical walk-around event, children will encounter a range of magical North Pole characters in various spaces of the Hall on their way to meet Father Christmas himself.
During this fun and festive experience, they’ll discover the stories and characters of Christmas’ past through engaging puppetry and live music and will even gain some secret elf knowledge with the chance to make and bring home their very own stuffed toy.
The experience in this iconic London landmark will last roughly one hour and is most suitable for children aged three and up, but all are welcome. Those of all ages will love this special event.
For the quintessential festive outing into London to see the Christmas lights and meet Santa, head to the Christmas Festival in Leicester Square and it’s amazing grotto.
The man himself hosts an audience with small groups of children and parents (up to 20 people at a time), reading a Christmas story, before meeting them all individually and handing over a little gift to take home. The ideal place to pop into if you are in city centre for the day.
A Victorian Grotto at Museum of London and Museum of London Docklands
For a taste of Christmas past head along to the Museum of London to see Sant as he was over 100 years ago.
Part of the museum is transformed into a Victorian walk, with Santa waiting at the end. He’s once again taking up residence at both museums, to a soundtrack of Victorian carols and against a backdrop of festive decorations. A gift is included in ticket price and children will love this nostalgic step back in time.
Santa’s Victorian Grotto at Museum of London, £10 per child, 29 November-23 December 2019.
If you’re prepared to venture just outside London to find Santa and his elves, your journey will definitely be reward with a truly fantastic festive day out. Lapland UK in Whitmoor forest just outside Ascot takes little ones of an exciting journey to meet Father Christmas.
Along the way they will come across Mrs Claus, make toys in the workshop and decorate cookies as the elves guide them through the snowy forest.
This 4-hour immersive experience has been beautifully designed with fantastic attention to detail. It truly does feel like you’ve been transported to the north pole – complete with fake snow. There is a chance to meet husky and reindeer as well as try out ice skating and even send your letter to Santa at the special polar post office.
With a restaurant and shop onsite, Lapland UK is a truly lovely place to spend the day and, while it might be on the expensive side, you’ll definitely feel like it’s worth it for such a magical experience.
laplanduk.co.uk, prices start from £59pp and vary depending on the time and date of your visit. From 16th November to 24th December.
We still have a quite a few weeks to get all our Christmas shopping done (thankfully!), but considerably less time to to get the advent calendars sorted. Whether you prefer old-school paper ones, chocolate treats or toy filled boxes, or even those you fill yourself, advent calendars are loved by all kids. Here are some of our favourites.
Our latest round-up of super-cool things for kiddos
Kids love scooters don’t they? Whether it’s the journey to school or a trip to the park, they just love whizzing around of them. And now the clever people at Micro Scooters have made them even more fun but adding a personalisation option. Now you can pop your little ones’ name on the base of the scooter along with a range of patterns and colours. This is available on all their models, including the Cruiser, the Sprite and the Speed. Prices start from £129.95. We think it’s a genius idea because it makes it so much easier to spot your own at the school gates!
London’s most sought-after children’s entertainers, Sharky and George are now to be found at the fabulous Beaverbrook hotel. The team are organising the Adventure Club at the five-star property which is just off the M25 at Leatherhead in leafy Surrey.
As well as fun activities such as missions, pranks, adventures and projects in and around the Estate grounds, youngsters can also enjoy the amazing play area and fantastic tree house. And at Beaverbrook they think of everything so if the weather takes a turn for the worst, there are lots of indoor activities available too, including board games, an air hockey table, arts and crafts and movies.
This amazing hotel is equally fantastic for adults – think stunning rooms, dreamy spa and delicious food. So, if you are looking for the perfect place for a weekend away that is within easy reach of London and will tick the boxes for all the family, look no further than Beaverbrook.
Winter can be a tricky time to get kiddos out and about as the temperature falls but here at City Kids, we are always keen to avoid screens whenever possible and get youngsters out in the fresh air. So we love the idea of Treasure Trails which allow children (with the help of mum and dad) to follow a self-guided Treasure Trail through their local streets in the villages, towns and cities around the UK., cracking clues along the route to unlock incredible stories from the past and solve a mystery at the end.
The trail will on average be a couple of miles, but kids probably won’t even notice how far they’ve travelled as they’ll be so caught up in the fun of the adventure.
Visit treasuretrails.co.uk to find out more and to download one of more than 1,200 Trails across the UK.
Our Editor, Victoria Evans, took her two kids to experience Asian food at Yuu Kitchen followed by the deep freeze at Icebar in Mayfair
You Kitchen at Icebar is the brainchild of two of the founders of Icebar with the canny employment of head chef Jon de Villa from Nobu Mayfair. The combination makes for supremely tasty food in dramatic surroundings adorned by the artwork of Lunatic.
If you’re a fan of bao buns you won’t be disappointed. And for kids this was heaven.
7up braised pork belly got the thumbs up; wagyu, soy and buttermilk crispy chicken baos were also good. Going Asian means the standard order of edamame, but we also chose the baby back ribs, chicken wings and spicy tuna tostada. Two kids (13 and 10) made the most of what was on offer and the kitchen was happy to remove all sauces from orders for the fussy, trying-to-be-adventurous 10 year-old.
Topping off a savoury selection with a sweet bao bun filled with ice cream is always going to be a winner with kids; mid-life waistlines not so much.
The decor is achingly cool thanks to the stripped back benches, bar area and exposed brick, as well as that artwork by Lunatic. Manga lovers will be delighted but if you’re the wrong side of forty you might find the lighting a touch too moody.
A visit to Yuu isn’t complete without a trip to the Icebar, and guess what?
It’s cold. Very cold. Not surprising that you are put (quite literally) into a cloak before heading into the deep freeze. Fantastic sculptures and a shot of something warming (or non-alcoholic if you prefer) are the order of the day. The kids enjoyed it, but even they were feeling the cold after about 15 minutes. We did stay long enough for a photo though!
New research shows most parents like to eat healthy meals as a family, but only 40% manage it. Charlotte Stirling-Reed gives us her top tips to make mealtimes easier.
Feeding kids isn’t always is easy is it? For so many reasons it can be a minefield. Finding healthy meals that children actually want to eat is often very tricky. Getting your toddler to swallow a piece of broccoli must surely be one of life’s simplest but greatest pleasures!
Add to the struggle of getting youngsters to eat well with the constant juggle of our busy lives and you have a recipe for a challenge. It’s hard to managed a family’s schedule and still try find time to prepare and cook nutritious suppers for all the family to enjoy together.
Of course, in an ideal world every family would love to sit down around the table to eat a homemade meal, but for many that’s a logistical impossibility as parents try to balance out their working lives and with kids’ – often equally hectic – school timetables. It can feel like you need a family spreadsheet just to get everyone together for dinner.
Indeed a recent survey of 2,000 parents of children under 14 by Scandinavian nursery brand, Stokke, found that while 86% of parents believe it’s important to eat dinner as a family, just two in five (41%) say they eat together every night. Stokke are behind the iconic Tripp Trapp highchair that has sold more than 10 million worldwide since its launch in 1972. Central to to principle of the design is that children should join their parents at the table.
So how can we make it a bit easier to eat together as a family?
Charlotte Stirling-Reed BSc, MSc, RNutr., a specialist in baby and children nutrition for Stokke, has given us her top 10 expert tips on how to enjoy a healthy and happy mealtime.
Eat together, whenever possible
Make the most of family time around the table and try to sit together to eat whenever possible. Even if it’s just you and your baby or child – you being a part of their mealtime can make such a difference to their experience and even how much they enjoy it.
Get kids involved
I love the idea of bringing baby into the mealtime and right up to the table as early as possible. Get them involved in food by surrounding them by everyone else tucking into a delicious meal. Children learn the skills of eating, social skills and even WHAT foods they enjoy by first copying others. For older children, get them involved in prepping, shopping or even choosing what’s on the table at dinner times.
Eat similar foods, regularly
Rather than serving separate meals for everyone in the family, try and have one option that everyone tucks into. Even if you’re offering similar options such as gluten free pasta, dairy free cheese etc, it’s good for your little ones to see you eating similar foods (including all those veggies) to encourage them to eat a wide variety themselves.
Establish a routine
Having a routine around when meals are served can help get little ones ready for food, especially for infants, who tend to like set routines. Establishing a “pre eating” routine can also help to get children involved and get them excited about mealtimes too. It might be clearing away toys, laying the table, playing some music or starting with a little game, which helps to set the tone for the rest of the meal & get everyone talking and excited for what’s to come.
Try and make it distraction free
Distractions such as toys, TV or phones can take away from the concept of food and meals being important. They also distract from what can be a really vital social occasion for a family too. However, if we want little ones to grow up to love their food, we need to show them that the delicious, varied foods you put in front of them each day are worth their attention and time. So, try clearing away, switching off distractions and just focusing on you, them and that delicious bowl of food!
Take the pressure off and leave out the rules
That said, making mealtimes too pressured and setting mealtime rules such as clearing the plate, eating veggies first, sitting down until everyone has finished, can end up making mealtimes pressured and less enjoyable for kiddies. Stick to rules that you think are 100% necessary and avoid too much pressure for children to “eat up” a specific part, or all of their meal. It’s good to keep mealtimes light and enjoyable to help children WANT to be a part of them.
Give kids some choice
Offering choices between A and B can give your little ones some autonomy when it comes to food choices. It’s a form of covert parenting that allows you to still have the ultimate control of what’s offered, but it gives them some independence and allows them to feel like you’re also valuing their opinions too. This can also help with fussy eaters. An example might be “do you want that with potato or pasta today?” “Do you want peas or carrots on the side?”
Try sharing platters
I love the Mediterranean style of sharing platters for mealtimes too, offering an array of foods, and allowing everyone to help themselves to whatever parts of the meal they want. This might not always work, but if you allow them to have their independence whilst also role modelling and showing how you, yourself, have a wide variety on your own plate, they are likely to pick up some tips and eating habit just from watching you!
Vary what’s on offer
One of the biggest reasons I see for children going off food is boredom. It’s SO easy to get somewhat stuck offering the same foods each week, but by offering a really wide variety, not only are you exposing your children to a variety of tastes and flavours and nutrients, you’re also preventing them getting fed up with the same meals over and over again. I am totally aware this one is easier said than done, but try making some bulk meals at the weekend and then tapping into them where possible during the week. Menu plans can really work for some families too.
Make it fun
Just try to relax, stay calm and make those mealtimes enjoyable for everyone. Once you step back, take away some of the rules and start enjoying the social time with your little ones, it’ll become so much easier to make the occasion fun and enjoyable for everyone else too. Try using colourful napkins, tablecloths or even a beautiful bowl of fruits and veggies to keep it vibrant or play some calming music in the background to set the scene. What works will differ from family to family, so have a play with some ideas that make you and yours happy, and see what works!
Putney-based Falcons School for Girls has unveiled its latest investment – a new state of the art technology suite.
Thanks to the newly opened, and aptly named, ‘Creation Station’, pupils in Years 1 to 6 will now benefit from being able to hone their IT and Music Technology skills, allowing their practical and creative learning to blossom as they access the latest Apple Macs, all equipped with advanced software.
Headmistress at Falcons School for Girls, Sara Williams-Ryan said: “The pupils have loved experimenting with the new Music Technology software and are extremely excited to try lots of different ICT skills! The ‘Creation Station’ complements the use of iPads and laptops in their other subjects.
“We are keen to ensure that our pupils have access to the very latest technology, to support our belief that children will flourish if we engage and challenge learners at every opportunity”.
The new area compliments the multiple specialist spaces for the teaching of the more creative and scientific subjects including; a well-equipped Science laboratory, a spacious and inspiring Art room, a Drama studio complete with a plethora of props and staging and a stimulating Music room.
Falcons Girls strives to strengthen and enhance the pupils’ learning pathways through carefully planned lessons and activities, supported by a rich co-curricular programme. The school also works closely with parents and guides them through entry to senior school, helping to prepare each pupil for entry into the senior school which best meets their learning needs and future development.
For more information on Falcons School for Girls, or to register for an Open Day, call Harriet Stokes, Admissions on Tel: 0208 992 5189 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Pottery Barn Kids UK have just launched their new autumn collection. Renowned for its furniture and accessories for children’s bedrooms and play rooms, this American company has taken the UK by storm. From desks, beds and storage to lighting, rugs and cushions, Pottery Barn is a one-stop-shop for all your kiddie decorating.
We can’t get enough of the beautiful bedding and stunning quilts. They have designs that cater for little ones who still want dinosaurs and princesses in their rooms, right through to more sophisticated, preppy looks for teens. The quality is top notch and every product is extensively tested to make sure it is perfect.
Or if you have a really tiny one check out Pottery Barn Baby. Think dream nursery and you’ll have an idea of what the brand has in store for their youngest customers.
Pottery Barn have plans to expand in the UK and open more stores, but for now you can find a selection of their range in John Lewis or online at potterybarnkids.co.uk.
The Little Writing Company
The kids are now all back in the classroom and homework is starting to appear in school bags most evening. While some will be gliding through their work easily, others may need a little bit of assistance.
If you’d like to help your little one with their learning, then check out the Little Writing Company. Launched by teacher Jo Britland in 2017, the company produces beautiful stationery and literacy workbooks for children. All are carefully designed by teachers to help parents improve their child’s handwriting as well as their overall learning.
They are perfect for primary school aged children but by no means exclusively for this age group. Lots of older and younger children use them too. Plus they have lots of free worksheets and tips on their blog . Well worth a visit if you’d like to find some really helpful and inspiring advice.
We particularly like the story writing activity notebooks that encourage children to be imaginative and really stretch their use of the English language through writing.
Here at City Kids we are huge fans of Scamp and Dude. We love their super cool kidswear and fun prints. So, we were thrilled to see the launch of Superga x Scamp & Dude, a range of trainers featuring their iconic Leopard and Lightning Bolt print.
The collection includes the 2750 Cotu Classic trainer, both lace up and with Velcro. 100% cotton, they come in neon coral with Scamp & Dude branding on the heel and an embroidered ‘Superpower Button’. Prices start from £33 for the littlest feet. The perfect trainers for Autumn.
Here’s our pick of our favourite cool things for kids this week
The Magic of Marvel
Marvel Universe Live tour 2019 will arrive at the O2 from 26th September until 6thOctober. This all new show unites Spider-Man, the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy and Doctor Strange in a race against time to recover the Wand of Watoomb. A must for all Marvel fans who want to see their favourite characters performing some amazing stunts in true action hero style. Visit marveluniverselive.com to book.
Footwear brand GEOX have developed a new capsule collection as part of their partnership with one of the world’s leading conservation organisations WWF.
This unique collection of footwear for both babies and children, which includes graphics inspired by endangered animal spices, such as the giant panda and the polar bear. For every pair of shoes purchased, 2€ or equivalent in local currency will be donated to the WWF to support their efforts in safeguarding the natural world.
Geox is one of our go-to brands for kid’s shoes – especially their super cosy leather high-tops in winter – so we are thrilled to see that the company has substance as well as style.
The benefits of reading at every stage of a child’s development are well documented and of course there is the simple joy of getting lost in a good story. In their new book How to Raise a Reader Pamela Paul and Maria Russo, editors of The New York Times Book Reviewhave created an indispensable guide to welcoming children—from babies to teens—to a lifelong love of reading. It will undoubtedly help all parents to encourage their kids to pick up a book.
All parents are constantly on the lookout for healthy eating options that their kids will actually enjoy. We suggest you check out the Great British Porridge Company for a great breakfast choice. All 100% natural, with no added sugar, their instant porridges are made with wholegrain oats and with no artificial colours or preservatives, making them full of protein, calcium for growing bones. Also, worth noting they are vegan, dairy and gluten-free
Ideally for filling kids up and give them the energy to get through the morning at school without the need to reach for unhealthy snacks. There are three flavours to choose from: Red Berry & Pumpkin Seed, Blueberry & Banana and Strawberry & Peanut Butter. Add some more fruit or a spoonful of honey to make them a little sweeter.
Find them in Sainsbury’s, Wholefoods Market, Harvey Nichols, Selfridges and selected retailers nationwide, RRP £3.99 for 385g bag. For more info visit www.thegreatbritishporridgeco.co.uk
Maggie & Rose are opening the doors to their latest London member’s club for families this October. Located on Islington Square, it is the chain’s third club in the Capital, following on from Kensington and Chiswick, and is set to be just a popular.
The 1200ft space is spread over two floors and will offer North London parents a great place to hang out and socialise with their little ones as facilities include a large soft play area, outdoor play spaces and a Big Kids’ Den for older children. All are designed to be both fun and educational, with really inspiring interiors, super-cool interiors.
There will also be a members’ brasserie boasting fresh food made daily on-site and a members’ lounge and snug cinema, with the emphasis being on families spending time together.
Well known for their amazing classes and clubs, Maggie and Rose Islington will have a packed timetable of creative and fun sessions for kids to enjoy with their parents (or carer) and on their own too – from art and music to dance, cooking and even gardening. And if that’s not enough you can host your little one’s birthday party at Maggie and Rose club too where the team will help you plan the perfect event.
An on-site nursery will offer parents in the area part-time or full-time sole charge care and those children enrolled at the nursery also benefit from the use of all Maggie and Rose clubs’ facilities while they are there. Experienced staff will guide children aged from three months through a carefully thought out curriculum.
We have written before about how much we love private members clubs for families because they offer a great place to hang out with your kids in a relaxed environment where you can meet other like-minded parents while the little ones play. And Maggie and Rose do it so well – the decor is stylish, but also comfortable (and wipe clean), the food is delicious and the fantastic classes are really loved by kids.
It’s not cheap – membership starts from £180 per month plus a joining fee, but you really do get what you pay for which is why Maggie and Rose clubs have been so successful.
With all this in mind, expect demand for membership to be high – we hear they are already being flooded with enquiries. Get in touch to book a visit and see Maggie and Rose club for yourself, but don’t’ put it off or you’ll find yourself on the waiting list!
Even though we’re seeking out the last drops of summer it’s time to start looking at the autumn wardrobe and N21’s pop-up at Harrods will do nicely.
We’ve been blown away by the images from this collection and you will be too. The fashion brand, created and directed by Alessandro Dell’ Acqua is now available at Harrods. Signature tie-dye that Alessandro featured in his SS19 women’s collection is present here, as well as maxi logo sweatshirts and oversized bows.
Not only are there super stylish pieces for girls and boys, there are also some Mini Me items to double up with your sons or daughters.
For boys, expect prints capturing a fanciful image of the ‘American Dream’, using a strong, graphic statement on sweatshirts, cotton shirts and tracksuits. A stars & stripes theme characterises the check jackets with soft sheepskin detailing, as well as the tartan plaid shirts with logo embroidered, while a 1950s feel is featured in the maxi checkboard knits.
The collection for girls includes chic, modern pieces with fun at the heart of it. Rock’n’roll vibes are clear thanks to red & black leopard prints on maxi hoodies, retro sport tracksuits and bombers. Pop accents can be found on the black-on-pink star prints that add a graphic touch to piping-embellished shirts, smart pleated skirts which are paired with sweet ruche-trimmed stripe blouses and poplin polo dresses with stylish, yet simple yokes.
The range is suitable for girls and boys aged 4-14.
Head to Harrods for the N21 pop up which will remain open until early October.
We love September and the excitement of that ‘back to school’ feeling. Summer is fantastic, but as the holidays reach an end we love looking forward to the new term and Autumn.
But with the new school year comes the need to sort our uniforms, pencil cases, sports kit and a million other things. So here’s our Back To School Guide with a few great stores and websites to help you get your little ones ready for the first day of term. Let’s make the transition back to routine all a bit easier.
Get their name on it
There is something nice about getting all the shiny new uniform ready for the new school year. What is less enjoyable is making sure everything from blazers to socks is labelled with your little one’s name.
Take the hassle out of the process with Wonder Label. They make personalised stick-on name labels designed to be extra resistant. Their labels are washable and heat resistant making them suitable for washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, microwaves. Thiss makes them perfect for everything from sports kit and shoes to water bottles and lunch boxed.
Sticking with the labelling theme, check out gettingpersonal.co.uk for a great range of back to school kit you can personalise.
From schoolbags and pencil cases to notebooks, pens and lunch boxes, you’ll find everything kiddos need for their school day and you can have their name printed on all of it. Making it much less likely to vanish in lost property.
The site has tons of great designs that are perfect for boys and girls of all ages.
Packed lunches can be tricky. Trying to find tasty healthy snacks isn’t easy. So, we love the delicious, but also healthy snack, from Muchachos.
Their nutritionists have created a selection of yummy treats, each one inspired by flavours from around the world and all are made with natural flavours, no added sugar or salt.
Each box has a combination of 5 snacks that are ideal for lunchboxes or after-school hunger pangs including crispy pitta bread dipped in creamy tzatziki and paella inspired rice cakes. Simply order as many boxes as you think your hungry little people will need. And maybe have a nibble yourself – they are seriously tasty.
During the first week of term, you will get precisely 387 letters home from school all containing ‘vitally important’ information about games kit/clubs/homework. Some will find their way to the ‘pile of doom’ in the corner of the kitchen (we all have that every growing stack of post don’t we?!). Others (usually the genuinely necessary ones) will somehow end up in the recycling.
Well not any more we say. It’s time for a bit of new term organisation. Be it a box file, a plastic folder or a storage tray, we all need a designated place to keep the school correspondence – add certificates and party invitations to the letters over the course of the year too. So, when it comes to that form you need to fill in for the school trip, you’ll know exactly where to find it.
We take a look at the best family holiday destinations, starting with Ibiza
Summer holidays seem to be the main topic of conversation at the moment don’t they? Where you are going, when, and for how long. Closely followed by the all-important ‘what’s it like for the kids’ ’cause let’s face it, if the kids aren’t well catered for then mum and dad aren’t going to be having that much fun either.
So, we have decided to put together some features about some of our favourite family holiday destinations. Even if you are booked up for this year, this may give you some ideas for next.
First up is Ibiza where our editor Morag Turner heads off to every summer with her husband and three sons.
What makes Ibiza so special?
This island off the coast of Spain has become one of the most popular family holiday destinations in the Med. And for good reason. The laidback vibe and child-friendly atmosphere makes it an ideal place to go to with kids of any age. Yes, it’s famous for its clubs and nightlife, but these days you’ll find just as many families chilling out on the beach as ravers heading for the party scene. Ibiza’s natural beauty combined with great hotels, restaurants and endless activities make it the perfect place to everyone from babies to teenagers.
Ibiza has 80 stunning beaches. From secluded coves to long sandy stretches, they are picture perfect. Simply rock up a and pop your towel on the sand or rent a sun lounger for the day for around €10 to €15.
A firm family favourite is Cala Vadella in the South West which sits on a charming little bay with a very gradual incline into the sea – ideal for younger children. There are a number of great places for lunch right on the beach such as the Maya Beach Club, or simply nip into the village supermarket to grab some sandwiches for the kids to eat on the lounger.
Just a few minutes around the corner is Cala d’Hort, a dreamy little beach with views of Es Vedra, a rock just off the shore that reaches out of the sea and is said to have mystical powers. The restaurant on the beach, El Carmen, does a cracking paella but book a table as soon as you arrive at the beach because it’s a favourite with locals too.
Head further up the west coast to discover Cala Bassa, an amazing long sandy beach that is also home to one of the island’s best beach clubs, CBbC
You’ll find cool shops, a restaurant and bar and sun beds with waiter service. Just a few steps further along the sand you can hire jet skis and arrange other water sports. Cala Bassa has something for everyone to enjoy. This is the kind of place where you arrive in the morning and leave after sunset already planning your next visit.
Talking of sunsets, another spot on the West coast that is famous for its glorious evening vistas is Sunset Ashram on Cala Conta. It’s one of the island’s most popular restaurants. During the day the beach is packed with locals who love the crystal clear water and snorkelling. Then by evening the restaurant takes on a cool, hippy vibe as the sun goes down with chill-out tunes and great cocktails. A very cool spot to hang out until the day draws in and the kids get tired.
If the hippy scene is your thing – and even if you don’t think it is, when you’re in Ibiza you’ll suddenly love embracing it – then head to the north of the island to Benirrás beach. Every Sunday evening this sheltered bay is home to musicians who come to ‘drum down the sunset’.
This iconic hippie ritual has become a real tourist attraction but yet still feels very upspoit and relaxed. Even if the music doesn’t appeal, the beach is a gorgeous place to while away the hours and don’t forget to pop into the Elements restaurant which has a fantastic menu and is super kid friendly.
Where to Stay
There are so many different accommodation options in Ibiza that are great for families, with something to suit every budget and taste. From traditional to minimalist, you’ll find it all on the White Isle.
For those want peace and privacy a villa is the ideal option. There are thousands of them scattered all over the area. Unlike France and Greece, not that many have gated pools, so you’ll have to do a bit of research to find one of those. Rental companies such as Unique Ibiza Villas and Ibiza Rural Villas are a great place to start. Or check out Air BnB where you’ll find a huge selection of villas and apartments.
If you would prefer a hotel or bed and breakfast, again there are lots to choose from. Thompsons, Thomas Cook and Jet2holidays all offer packages to family friendly resorts.
Fun for all the Family
If the beach isn’t enough to amuse your gang then there are tons of other activities to get up to.
Kids love a waterpark and there are a couple of good ones to choose from. Aguamar (next to Space nightclub), in Playa d’en Bossa, has plenty of parking, a range of different slides and pools (including paddling pools for smaller kids), picnic areas, a decent restaurant and a play park.
For kids and adults who can swim, Ocean Mania Waterpark in San Antonio is great fun, and is essentially an inflatable playground in the sea. The park is a bit like an assault course, and the inflatable circuit has rope swings, trampolines, balancing beams and slides.
For a really fun day out head to In S’Argamassa, between Santa Eulalia and Es Canar in the east of the island, where the Acrobosc Adventure Park has an exciting set-up in the pine trees involving ziplines, trampolines, slides, nets, ladders, climbing walls, tightropes and rope bridges. There are three circuits of graded difficulty to suit children from three years old up to teenagers – although adults can join in the fun too. Everyone is kitted out with harnesses and tuition is provided before letting them loose.
If you fancy trying out horse-riding, then Active Ibiza offer amazing sessions that cater for complete beginners right through to more experienced riders. The kids’ package has basic tuition provided in the paddock before a gentle trek on small horses, with a maximum of four children in the group. The route through the interior of the island leads through fields and farmland. A great thing to do if you fancy a break from the beach.
One of the nicest ways to see Ibiza is from the sea. Often you will find small dinghies available to hire along with paddle boards from the water sports companies found on most of the larger beaches. There are also lots of companies that offer boat trips, charters or let you to hire your own small boat for the day. Star Boats Ibiza have great little six person boats that you can hire without a licence just to stay close to shore and potter in an out of the coves. It costs €180 for the morning which isn’t cheap, but is a lot less expensive than chartering a larger boat and is such great fun.
However, if you do fancy hopping aboard a speedboat or yacht, get in touch with the likes of Charteralia or Smart Charter Ibiza who will sort you out with skipper and take you on a fantastic tour of the island and beyond.
Pop over to Formentera
Ibiza’s little sister island Formentera is definitely worth at least a day trip. It’s small, unspoilt and has stunning beaches with great restaurants. A really fun day out. There are lots of different ways to reach it by boat but for a simple, inexpensive day trip try Aqua Bus Ferry Boats who do regular trips back and forth from a few ports on Ibiza and as well as various excursions. When you are there head to Besso Beach Club for great people watching and wonderful food.
Visit the Old Town
No trip to the White Isle is complete without a trip to the beautiful Old town with its narrow cobbled streets lined with wonderful little restaurants and boutiques. Head there early evening if you are taking the kids and enjoy a lovely stroll around the marina and the old city walls before it gets busy later on.
Ibiza is shopping heaven and the markets are the best place to pick up some unusual holiday buys. Think floaty kaftans, beach bags and beaded bracelets as well as artisan homewares.
There are markets on most days all over the island but one of the best is Las Dalias hippy market in San Carlos. It’s home to around 200 stalls where you can find crafts from all over the globe, clothes and antiques. It’s open every Saturday and weekday evenings during the summer.
Another shopping experience that’s a real must-see is Sluiz in Santa Gertrudis, a picturesque little village in the centre of the island.
This store is an eclectic treasure trove of homeware and fashion that has become a real destination for those looking to take back something special from their holiday. Definitely check it out.
Check out these website for more general information on Ibiza as well as villa rentals.
To celebrate the launch of a new vegan menu for kids, wagamama unveils the top 30 vegan foods to try before you’re 12
To mark the launch of its brand-new vegan children’s menu, wagamama is inspiring little noodlers nationwide by revealing the top 30 plant-based foods to try before they’re 12. The carefully curated list aims to encourage kids to be more playful with their palettes with a selection of fun flavours, crisp and crunchy textures.
Working with Specialist Paediatric Dietitian Bahee Van de Bor, wagamama has devised a colourful combination of exciting foods and flavours to encourage children to go outside their cuisine comfort zone. The vegan list was carefully selected based on natural, unprocessed foods, with a focus on ingredients that are nutritionally beneficial for children on a plant-based diet.
The new children’s menu also includes the tofu challenge, where kids are encouraged to try a piece of tofu in vegetable broth for free at all restaurants across the UK.
wagamama top 30 things to try before you’re 12
1. Tofu – For protection against heart disease and also help reduce bone loss
2. Edamame– Useful snack for kids as an additional way to sneak in protein into children’s diets
3. Sesame seeds– Contribute iron and zinc but also a range of vitamins and minerals
4. Peanuts– Rich in antioxidants and a good source of zinc
5. Guava – High in Vitamin C which is an immune booster and protects from infection, such as the regular coughs and colds
6. Banana– The prebiotic fibre in bananas help the growth of friendly “good” bacteria in the gut to help maintain a healthy digestive system
7. Broccoli – At least 50% of calcium present in broccoli is absorbed by the body. A nutritious vegetable with multiple vitamins
8. Spinach – High in iron, which is important for transporting oxygen around the body
9. Sweet potato – Rich in beta-carotene, a vitamin important for immunity and vision
10. Red split lentils– Rich in iron and a great source of fibre
11. All beans: chickpeas, butter beans, haricot, adzuki– Excellent source of plant protein and carbohydrate with soluble fibre – supporting a healthy central nervous system and children’s learning capacity
12. Soba Noodles – High in fibre and also higher in protein compared to standard wheat based noodles
13. Beets – Nitrates in beets are thought to help promote cognitive function
14. Carrots – Rich in vitamin A, fat-soluble vitamin that children require for vision, immunity as well as normal growth and development
15. Amaranth – High protein grain that is complete with all essential amino acids and antioxidants
16. Oats – Contains beta-glucan fibre which helps prevent constipation
17. Blueberries – Overall beneficial for heart health, brain function, low in calories and anti-inflammatory properties
18. Mango – High vitamin A content making it a great food source for immunity, healthy hair and skin
19. Walnuts – Perfect ratio of the essential omega-3 fats to help the body make DHA that has an important role in brain development
20. Almonds– One of the best sources of vitamin E foods (23.9mg/100g) but is also rich in iron
21. Apple – Most of the fibre and antioxidants are on the skin, so encourage kids to eat with the skin left on
22. Passion fruit– Vitamin A is important for immunity, vision and healthy skin
23. Mushrooms– An affordable source of selenium with a “meaty” texture
24. Bell peppers– The vitamin C in bell peppers also helps the absorption of iron from plant foods
25. Artichoke– An excellent source of fibre that help feed the healthy bacteria in the gut
26. Kale– The calcium in kale is highly bioavailable with at least 50-60% is absorbed
27. Butternut squash – A nutritious food for kids that is high in both vitamin A and is a source of vitamin E and potassium
28. Aubergine– especially rich in anthocyanins, a type of pigment with antioxidant properties that’s responsible for their vibrant colour
29. Rapeseed oil– Rich in poly and mono fats, it is also a source of parent omega-3 fats which the body can convert to a small extent to DHA (DHA has a role in the normal development of the brain and eyes)
30. Calcium fortified plant drink– Children following a plant-based diet require a reliable source of calcium such as soy or oat-based calcium enriched drink
Here at City Kids we love Matt Coyne’s hilarious book Man vs Toddler. It hits all the rights notes and will have parents everywhere in nodding recognition of the highs and lows of family life.
So in honour of Father’s Day, we asked Matt to choose an extract from the book to give us readers some idea of what it’s like to be a dad.
Here’s a weird thing: when you’re a man on your own, some people assume that you can’t possibly be in charge of a baby or toddler. Twice now someone’s had a go at me for parking in parent/child spaces when I’ve actually got Charlie in the back seat. They see a man pull in and assume that I am just another childless dickhead taking advantage of the space.
I was in Asda car park just last month when, upon arrival, a woman knocked on my window before I could even turn the engine off.
‘Excuse me! You know these spaces are for people with children?’ she demanded.
I literally had to point my thumb in to the back of the car and say: ‘What’s that? A fucking cat?’
WHAT IS A DAD?
It is odd that in 2019 so many people struggle to comprehend the idea of dads being in sole charge of their own kids.
As a man who often has Charlie on my own I come across this attitude all the time. It’s usually not malicious, just ingrained. And so I might be asked things like: ‘Ooh, is it daddy and son day today?’ or ‘Ah, bless, are you giving mummy a break?’ These questions are normally asked with a patronising nod – as though I am being humoured – like I’m the local fuckwit taking his pet brick for a walk.
When Charlie was very little, I was even asked a couple of times if I was ‘being mummy for the day’. To which I was tempted to respond, ‘Yes, apologies for the damp circles on my Def Leppard T-shirt, I’m currently lactating.’
This last example I find one of the strangest. It speaks volumes that there are people, in this very century, who would describe a man parenting as ‘being mummy for the day’. As though dads are not really parents but temporarily assuming the role and just putting on a costume like Mrs Doubtfire.
One thing is certain, Lyns would never be asked the same questions: ‘Is it mummy and son day today?’ or ‘Aww, bless, are you giving daddy a break?’ It just wouldn’t happen. There is a sense that this is the correct order of things.
Another variation on these questions I’m asked is: “So, where’s mummy today?’ This seems like a pretty innocent enquiry. But again, I doubt Lyns would ever be asked the same thing, just because she is out with Charlie alone. In truth, the subtext to this is obvious: ‘Where’s the real parent today numbnuts?’
I remember that the first time I was asked this particular question was by a cashier in Home Bargains and it confused me completely. When she casually inquired Where’s mum today?’ I genuinely thought she must know my own mother and was actually asking about her. It’s no wonder she looked so confused when I answered that she was at home and that she’d just phoned me to say that her arthritis was acting up, the neighbours were still acting suspicious and she couldn’t find her teeth.
(It is only in hindsight that I understand her horror. Particularly, when from her point of view I went on to mention that we’d just celebrated my wife’s seventieth.)
Interestingly, Lyndsay is also asked questions that I would never hear if the positions were reversed. So if she is out alone and without Charlie she will often be asked: ‘Is dad/Matt babysitting today?’
Okay, I object to being called a ‘babysitter’ for a few reasons. Not least because I’m a forty-odd-year-old man and not a fifteen-year-old girl with braces, twirling her hair and covering her school books with pictures of Zayn from One Direction because he’s super dreamy (although, in fairness, he is super dreamy).
But my main problem with being called a babysitter is that it is to be considered something less than a parent. When I have Charlie I have exactly the same responsibilities that Lyndsay does. Important stuff like feeding him, watering him, changing him, making sure he doesn’t jump off a motorway bridge chasing a fucking bee, that sort of thing. And yet whereas Lyndsay is parenting, I can be described as ‘babysitting’.
And these are not my only objections. I also object because, and forgive me if I’m wrong, but one of the defining characteristics of a ‘babysitter’ is that they get paid. I do not get paid for looking after Charlie. Fair enough, I could write something touching here about how every moment with Charlie is priceless and I am paid in the glowing love of my child. But, yesterday I was’ paid’ by being shat on in Debenhams and by Charlie pouring his Ribena down the arse of my jeans as I was trying to retrieve a plastic stegosaurus from under the settee.
And this is the point: it’s hard this dad-babysitting lark, almost as hard as parenting. In fact, it is as hard as parenting because guess what? When I’m being shat on in Debenhams or lying on the floor having pissing Ribena poured down my arse-crack…it’s exactly the same fucking thing.
For me, a father is not a babysitter any more than a mother is. And there is a growing movement, that includes mums and dads, who agree that it is impossible to ‘babysit’ your own children. I’m not particularly militant about this sort of thing but they’ve got a point. Their slogan is ‘Dads don’t babysit, they parent’ and this is not just semantics. There is a problem with reducing a father to the role of babysitter and it’s not just that it might hurt a dad’s feelings (we can handle that shit, we’re men and into car engines and stuff…grr).
The real problem is that it suggests that a dad’s role is something lesser. That it is a novelty for a dad to look after his own kid. It is something outside the natural order. And those who suffer most from this attitude? Mums. It reinforces the idea that dads are a backup plan rather than 50/50 partners in parenting, the secondary alternative for when mums, like Lyns, want to go off and do something really selfish like be ill or work. Dads are the spare.
Well, Lyndsay isn’t selfish. I’m not the spare. And I don’t babysit.
In an ideal world we would all have the time to rustle up wonderful nutritious meals for our little ones from scratch. But we would also have a house that cleans itself and teleporter to help out with the school run.
But yet despite not always have the opportunity to cook the perfect meals for our kids, we certainly don’t want to compromise by opting for processed food that really isn’t that healthy.
It’s for this reason that the founders of Little Tummy decided to create exactly the kind of grub that mums want to feed their babies.
Developed by a paediatrician Dr Sophie Niedermaier-Patramani, the food is cold pressured to ensure freshness, delivered direct to your door nationwide and is no more expensive than preparing it at home.
Unlike super-processed alternatives, which dominate the market, none of the meals they make are ever heat-treated. What does this mean for your little one? It allows the meals to retain essential vitamins, textures and flavours from the fresh ingredients.
Each weekly subscription box contains either seven, 14 or 21 Little Tummy meals depending how many of them you want your baby to have per day – maybe just one if you are also cooking from scratch. Boxes start from £25 for a one-off of seven meals or £20 if you subscribe. Expect pureed meals like kale and apple, sweet potato, mango and red lentil and apple and millet. All are suitable from six months and are perfect for introducing your baby to food and new tastes.
If you are heading off to a wedding, christening or special occasion with your kids this summer then you’re probably on the hunt for something suitable for them to wear. We have found just the place. Rocco clothing has literally everything you could need to dress your youngsters for a smart event.
For boys there is a great selection of suits, from page boy outfits and tuxedos to linen and three pieces. Girls are spoilt for choice too with beautiful silky and toile dress in a gorgeous selection of colours. Babies are also covered from just three months with adorable outfits, including those perfect for their own Christening.
With shoes and accessories available too, Roco is a one-stop-shop that is well worth committing to memory for when a special initiation lands on the mat.
So the weather has not exactly been great of late but we are staying optimistic (and praying!) that it will improve by the time the summer holidays arrive and we will be able to send the kids outside to play in the garden or take them off to the park for the day.
So we love the new outdoor toys and play sets from Muddy Puddles. For example their ‘Original Den Kit’, £40, provides everything you need to build a den and includes a green haversack bag containing a camouflage tarpaulin, a waterproof groundsheet, a wooden mallet, a mug, a tube of face paint, a rope, 8 tent pegs, a ten peg bag and instructions. Perfect for little adventurers who want to live the ‘Swallows and Amazons’ dream.
While the ‘About Bugs’ kit includes a cloth net for catching an all manner of creepy crawlies, which can then be transferred to the magnified collection jar for a closer look. Using the beautifully illustrated cards, containing facts about over 100 bugs common to the UK and Europe, your mini beasts can be identified. Educational and fun at the same time.
There are lots more outdoor fun toys too so have a look at their website and stock up for that long hot summer of play outside that we are all desperate for!
London’s Westend is world renowned for some of the best theatre in the world. And it’s certainly not just for us grown-ups. There are so many hit shows for children and now you can snap up some free tickets for your little ones as booking for ‘KidsWeek’ theatre ticket booking open tomorrow at 10am.
This annual London theatre initiative run by Society of London Theatre (SOLT), runs every August with hit shows in the West End and beyond offering free tickets for children throughout the month. Tickets for performances throughout August will be released through the Official London Theatre website at 10am tomorrow and you definitely don’t want to miss out. Shows include the likes of Disney’s Aladdin, Matilda The Musical and The Gruffalo.
The scheme, founded to encourage more young people and families to experience the magic of live theatre, offers a free ticket to every child aged 16 or under accompanied by a full paying adult. Half price tickets can also be purchased for two additional children in the same group. There are no booking, postage or transaction fees.
KidsWeek is one of the biggest, longest-running audience development initiatives in the world, engaging around 1.6 million children and families since it began in 1998.
Alongside the performances, children are given the chance to get involved in free workshops and activities, with participating shows offering everything from choreography and magic workshops to cast Q&As and backstage tours. KidsWeek ticket holders can also take advantage of ‘Kids Go Free’ deals on dining and hotels.
It really is an amazing opportunity to experience all the fun of the Westend at a fraction of the cost.
We’ve visited, tasted and deliberated and now we have the winners of the City Kids School Food Awards 2019
When launching awards, one never really knows how they will be received. It seemed obvious to us that celebrating school food would be popular. After all, what’s the first question you ask your child when you collect them from school? The chorus of “What did you have for lunch today?” can be heard every afternoon up and down the country.
But while we know a lot about our children’s academic progress, school league tables, and reputation, we don’t know much about what’s going on in the dining room. By launching the School Food Awards, we wanted to shed some light on the school day which parents are never part of.
One of our aims was to celebrate the dedication of school catering teams who work tirelessly to provide healthy, nutritious meals on tight budgets. More importantly, we wanted to continue the discussion around healthy eating and healthy attitudes to food which we all hope to instil in our children from a young age. School has a huge part to play in this.
Taking in entries
And so, in the Autumn, we invited schools in London and the South East to enter three categories: Best Vegetarian Menu, Best School Menu and School Dinner Hero. The response surpassed our expectations and we whittled the entries down to a shortlist of schools to visit for lunch. Tough gig (let me tell you, three lunches in a day is actually quite difficult).
We’re indebted to the team of judges who munched their way through various menus and who asked many questions of the catering teams we met. Thank you to (l to r) Jo Pratt, Beverley Turner, Kathryn Bouldrey-Chourio and Lizzy King for joining the first City Kids School Food Awards.
On meeting with our finalists, we were all delighted to see how passionate they were about their school food provision, about making improvements where necessary, about catering for different diets and allergies and about their impact on the local environment. And all schools, crucially, were listening to their pupils’ feedback while also trying to push the boundaries of their developing taste buds. Our finalists were all strong, but our votes have been counted.
School Dinner Hero sponsored by As Nature Intended: Brian Turner at St James Preparatory School
Runner Up: Philippa Frederick and Maggie Watkins at Notting Hill & Ealing High School
Highly Commended: Mayuri Tokekar and Ria Rattan at The Holmwood School, Mike Waters at Fulham Prep, Suzanne Hemchaoui at Shiplake College
On the winner: Judges found Brian to be a “passionate, inspirational leader” of the kitchen, devising many different ways to engage the children with food.
Best Vegetarian Menu: St James Preparatory School
Runner-up: Notting Hill & Ealing High School
Highly Commended: Fulham Prep
On the winner: Judges were impressed by the “well-balanced and creative menu”, “the outstanding food quality and the low cost per head”.
Best School Menu Primary: Edgeborough School
Runner Up: Falcons Pre-Preparatory School
Highly Commended: Notting Hill & Ealing High School, Fulham Prep, St James Preparatory School
On the winner: Judges loved the variety of adventurous food on offer including moules marinières and prawn cocktail as well as the wonderful, sociable dining room.
Best School Menu Secondary: Lambrook School
Runner Up Secondary: Notting Hill & Ealing High School
Highly Commended: Heathfield School, St George’s Ascot
On the winner:Judges were wowed by the quality and selection of food on offer as well as the thought that went into every menu.
Thank you to all the schools that entered. We’ll be going again in September!
Summer is here at last and summer holidays are just a matter of weeks away. Whether you are heading for a villa in the Med, searching rock pools in Cornwall or setting up a paddling pool in the back garden – your kids are going to need the right kit. If you are on the lookout for some super stylish new swimwear for them, then check out these great brands that we love. You might even find a new cossie for yourself too.
M&S is continually upping its game in the kids wear department. Every season they deliver great designs at super prices. This summer they’ve got it spot on with their new sustainable swim range. From pretty pastels to vibrant prints they have your little ones’ beach wardrobe covered.
The collection is made using recycled plastic and transformed into a polyester fibre that is durable and strong. It’s actually quite amazing think the fabric was once plastic bottles. It’s super comfy and easy to clean.
The range has been endorsed by the British Skin Foundation with UPF 50+ sun protection. Pop in to a store or shop online.
If you’re after bold, bright and original then look no further than Beanie and Bear. Created by graphic designer and mum of two, Noya Bebawi, each product has in-built UPF 50+ protection.
As of 2019 their swimwear is being made Using SeaQual and EcoNyl recycled fabrics, making it as sustainable as it can be. And, thanks to its innovative construction, it’s twice as resistant to chlorine, suntan lotions and oils. Protecting the environment with no compromise on quality or style. Plus it’s all ethically made in in Portugal.
Sunuva is a one-stop-shop for all things swim and beachwear. From three months up to teenage, their range is fantastic. Think everything from bikinis to kaftans for girls and trunks and UV T-shirts for boys. We love the fact that you can get co-ordinating costumes for all your kids as they have a siblings collection.
Or if you’d like in on the action, they pick something from their mother and daughter or father and son ranges for some ‘mini me’ styling. The prints are really original and stylish, plus there is a selection of sustainable rash vests made from recycled plastic bottles and fishing nets.
There’s a distinct feel of the great British seaside about Boden’s swimwear. The stripes and the bold colours make us think of sandcastle building and sitting on deck chairs eating ice cream. From tiny baby up, Boden have something for everyone with all the UV protection you need. We love their matching sun hats and flip flops.
And of course – never ones to miss out on a key trend – Boden have also embraced the ‘mini me’ look with matching swimsuits for mums and girls and trunks for dads and boys. In fact we are quite sure you could coordinate the whole family – if that’s your thing!
If it’s just boys you are buying for then Tom and Teddy is a great place to start. They have five different collections including ‘Jungle’, ‘Tropical’ and ‘Solids and Stripes’, all with trunks for little boys and big ones – the perfect place to find matching dad and son shorts.
With bright prints including of everything from palm trees to flamingos, you’ll easily be able to spot all your boys on the beach if they are wearing T&T kit.
Inspired by two young Mini Boden fans, the retailer has launched a competition to find slogans for new t-shirts supporting Mental Health issues.
When Willow and Rose recently made contact with Mini Boden, suggesting some empowering T-shirt slogans for kids, they probably thought there wouldn’t be much of a response. However, the popular retailer loved their words about what it means to be a child today, that they made the t-shirts a reality!
And to support UK Mental Health Awareness Week, Mini Boden has launched a compeitition to find more empowering slogans from their would-be Mini wordsmiths.
The winning entry will be printed onto Mini Boden tees, and launched during World Mental Health Awareness Week in October. A donation from the sale of each T-shirt will go to Boden’s charity partner, the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust. This amazing charity equips young people with the knowledge they need to look after their mental and emotional wellbeing. It focuses on helping young people recognise the importance of talking to and caring for one another.
For further details on the competition and the link to the competition form, please see below:
During Maternal Mental Health Week, Rhiane Kirkby speaks to two mothers who are offering wellbeing support
As a journalist, I’ve always hated the fact that in the world of public relations every week of the year has something attributed to it. Bug busting week, National Toast Week and even National Lost Sock Week are just some of the ‘stories’ to have graced my inbox of late. ‘Stories’ that I’m expected to cover, but don’t!
Before you shout me down – I know there are many worthy causes who gain much needed publicity this way and Maternal Mental Health Week, in my mind, is one of them. Until recently, talking about mental health issues in motherhood was taboo and admitting you were having problems – something to be ashamed of. But not anymore. Things are beginning to change and the stigma is slowly being broken down. “We’re getting better at asking for help and showing support and solidarity, but there’s still a lot of work to be done,” explains Happiness Coach, Olivia Horne.
Thankfully, two London mums are ready to get stuck right in. They’re both on a mission to help others who may, like them, suffer mental health challenges in parenthood. “I struggled with my emotional wellbeing through the early years of motherhood,” says Sara Campin “and again when juggling the dual burdens of work and home. I was far from the mum I wanted to be. I was constantly shouty and stressed out.” Sara learnt the art of self-care which, she says, has changed her life and made a huge difference to her children.
Sara wanted to give other mums instant access to the wellbeing tools she worked so hard to find and in March launched a not-for-profit app, Nourish. In her words it’s “a place where mums can access help, advice and lots of tlc. A growing library of practical wellbeing tools from leading experts in the field – including positive psychology, yoga, mantras, mindfulness, nutrition and much, much more.”
Anna Ceesay also wants to turn her negative experiences in parenthood into something positive. She recently launched Motherdom, a magazine which “showcases all the amazing work in the maternal mental health and wellbeing world and starts to build a village around women who might struggle to ask for help.” Anna continues, “I suffered from low mood and anxiety during my second pregnancy but I was terrified to tell anyone because I felt like a failure as a mum. It took me a few months, but I did eventually reach out. I was lucky to get professional help, but that’s not the case for everyone.”
Both Sara and Anna hope that by speaking openly about their experiences they can break down this stigma surrounding maternal mental health and help mums see that the picture perfect parenthood depicted on social media is as far from reality as you can get. They want to give all mums easy access to knowledge, self-care tools and support so they can get the help they need when they need it.
The Nourish app is currently available for iPhone (download here), with Android launching later this summer. thenourishapp.com @thenourishapp
Motherdom is available here (both in print and online): motherdom.co.ukas well as in selected WHSmith stores.
A sunny bank holiday weekend? Must be time for a picnic. Here’s our guide to the best London parks for picnics
One of our favourite London views is from the top of Primrose Hill, a whopping 63 metres above sea level. A special spot to watch the sun go down.
Over 86 hectares, this is one of London’s larges parks, as well as one of its oldest. Sadly the splash park isn’t open until May but you should be able to find a little piece of green for your rug.
Close to Broadway Market, if you can’t be bothered to pac the picnic, you can buy supplies here. The Olympic-sized lido might be worth a look in this weather too!
There’s plenty to do here if you need to keep the kids entertained with football, golf and netball. Plus the Kyoto garden may just be a hint of how Japan is looking during blossom season.
Ignoring the roads that criss-cross this huge expanse of land, you really could be miles from the city here. Don’t talk to the deer though, they can do serious harm.
A nice spot by the river, with a couple of pubs close by if the mood takes. Plus Putt in the Park which is fun for all ages and abilities.
If you get here early you’ll have time for a swim at Brockwell Lido and then a wonderful picnic in the park. Explorers will discover the 19th-century clock tower, a walled garden and some formal planting.
Thames Barrier Park
Who knew there was an accompanying park to this feat of engineering. It’s a whole day out too, including fountains, flower gardens, manicured lawns and a café.
St James’s Park
Give a nod to the new arrival, if she or he arrives this weekend, with a trip to one of London’s most royal of parks. Surrounded by royal residences and Horse Guards Parade, there’s also a fountain, lake and pelicans to amuse.
Always a popular choice when the sun shines, it’s still possible to find a quiet spot for a sarnie. Plus there’s the chance to see the Chihuly at Kew showcase.
Images courtesy: Primrose Hill: Royal Parks Holland Park: travellingdaveuk
Brockwell Park Lido: Brockwell Park Lido
London’s longest running junior football league is launching at new venues after Easter, with further new sites lined up for the Autumn. Rocks Lane Friday Night 5s is already a much loved and established Friday fixture in Chiswick and Barnes, described by parents ‘as a great way to end the week!’
The junior league recently launched at Hurlingham Park in Fulham and following its success, Rocks Lane will now run Friday Night 5s at Ravenscourt Park, Hammersmith from 27thApril and in Balham from September.
Create a team
Built on Friendship, Fair Play and Fun – Friday Night 5s junior 5-a-side leagues gives young players a unique opportunity to play competitive football with friends. Unlike school or club sports, Friday Night 5s is incredibly social and lets the children take charge: they create their own squad, pick a team name and can even design their own kit.
Fair play is at the heart of the league, with weekly awards given for effort, aiming to boost the confidence of players. In addition, each league can provide a Match Day Management service where a coach can give support to individual teams. After the matches teams can track their progress online – just like a real Premiership team!
Friday Night 5s is open to boys and girls in Years 1 -13. Places are limited so now’s the time to get a team together and reserve a place in next term’s league.