A first UK Scott Dunn Explorers Kids club has arrived at Gleneagles, home to an 850-acre playground set in teh rolling Ochil Hills. Launching on 1st August, the action-packed programme will offer wee ones from 4 months up to those in their mid-teens a brilliant range of activities and country pursuits in the great outdoors – the ultimate active summer staycation for all the family.
Deep in the Hampshire countryside, you’ll find a green oasis of luxuriously appointed safari tents. It’s a safe wonderland for kids to explore, with eggs to collect daily and farm tours by the owners. Plus you can feast on homegrown produce cooked on your BBQ each day.
Not far from Cornwall Airport Newquay, the culinary delights of Padstow and and the botanic wonders of the Eden Project, these timelessly stylish boutique-barns have a contemporary and globally luxurious sophistication, blending architectural design and new interiors styling. Perfect for a mini-break or extended holiday.
You’ll have to get in quick to bag some nights away at one of The Pig’s gorgeous hotels. An eighth luxuriously appointed residence opens at the end of July with The Pig at Harlyn Bay near Padstow. July is almost fully booked and August is getting busy!
If space and tranquillity are what you’re after, Coworth Park’s reopening will be music to your ears. Stunning interiors, delicious food and even polo lessons on the menu. And for kids, there’s a whole house with seven rooms dedicated to younger family members plus a den for teens.
The planet is in crisis. If you want to make a difference, getting involved in Plastic Free July could kick start your eco-credentials.
Plastic Free July is a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution – so we can have cleaner streets, oceans, and beautiful communities. The Plastic Free July campaign also provides resources and ideas to help you (and millions of others around the world) reduce single-use plastic waste every day at home, work, school, and even at your local café.
The easiest place to start is to make swaps for more environmentally friendly products.
Take a reusable cup to your local coffee house.
Buy plastic-free toothbrushes. Bamboo brushes are widely available now, but be wary if they still have plastic bristles. You’ll have to cut these off before recycling them. Also, look for a toothpaste that doesn’t have plastic balls in the paste and many health food shops will have plastic-free packaging options.
Sanitary items can now be plastic-free too. Amongst them Thinx makes washable underwear, Moon Cup is an alternative to sanitary towels and tampons and Eco Femme provides fabric towels.
Swap liquid soap in plastic bottles for bars of soap.
Try making your own beauty products to reduce the number of plastic containers you end up with in the bathroom. There are numerous online recipes and tutorials for soap, shampoo, shower gel, toothpaste, scrubs and lotions. Using simple, inexpensive ingredients, these products are better for the planet and reduce your use of plastic too.
Celebrate birthdays without plastic tat. Popular decorations that can be reused time and time again, include bunting, tassels, tissue pom poms, lanterns, fresh flowers, and more. And party bags no longer have to be filled with rubbish.
Stop using plastic wrap for food. Beeswax cloths from companies like The Beeswax Wrap Co are a great reusable alternative.
Teabags. Did you know that some contain plastic?! Ditch them and buy leaf tea and a teapot instead.
For more ideas on how to make a change head to our article about Going Green.
The strangest summer term is drawing to a close. We’ve all learned a lot about teaching children this term so now’s the time to give thanks with our teacher gift ideas.
Lockdown has strengthened our respect for our kids’ teachers. FACT. One key learning for us all over lockdown was that they really are super. From quickly adapting to digital classrooms, hours of marking all those assignments and remaining flexible at a time of uncertainty and helping to put their students (and parents) at ease. We owe a lot to our teachers for doing all they can to give our kids the best possible experience of learning from home. So here’s the City Kids roundup of teacher gift ideas which you could also access to give yourself a pat on the back!
A gift that’ll brighten up any teacher’s desk. We love that these Papier notebooks can be personalised PLUS Papier is donating 50% of profits to AKT, the brilliant charity dedicated to providing safe homes and better futures for LGBTQ+ young people.
Wean in 15 by Joe Wicks contains 100 recipes to take your child from milk to solids and beyond, including this recipe for Caribbean Spiced Chicken and Squash Curry.
When we spoke to Joe Wicks about Wean in 15 he told us his favourite recipe was Caribbean Spiced Chicken and Squash Curry. So here’s the recipe for you!
This is the tastiest curry in the whole book. Remember your baby’s appetite can vary day-to-day, so don’t be upset if they don’t eat all the food you offer them.
Makes 1 adult and 2 child portions
1 ½ tbsp Caribbean curry powder or normal curry powder 4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces 1 tbsp coconut oil 1 onion, finely chopped Sprig of thyme 1 bay leaf 1 clove garlic, minced 1 tsp minced ginger ½ tsp allspice powder 4 plum tomatoes, roughly chopped 1 x 400ml tin of coconut milk 400g frozen cubed butternut squash Juice ½ lime 6 spring onions, roughly chopped Small bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
Sprinkle half the curry powder over the chicken, mix well and put to one side.
Melt the coconut oil in a large saucepan or casserole dish over a medium heat. Add the onion, thyme and bay leaf and fry for 2 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the garlic and ginger and continue cooking for a further minute.
Sprinkle in the remaining curry powder and the allspice and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add in the chicken and cook for a couple of minutes to seal. Add in the tomatoes and continue cooking until they start to break down.
Add the coconut milk and squash to the pan and continue cooking for 8-10 minutes or until the squash is cooked through. Stir in the lime juice, spring onions and coriander. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes to allow the flavours to meld together. Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs before serving. Serve with Rice.
The death of George Floyd has sparked many questions from children and all of us. City Kids spoke to children’s author, Mark Lemon, who says conversations about race must continue.
My name is Mark Lemon. I live in Bristol with my wife Simone (personal stylist) and our two children, Otis (9yrs) & Thea (5yrs). I’ve been thinking about how I can contribute to the tragic and senseless murder of, George Floyd – it stopped me in my tracks, and has made me re-evaluate how I view my children’s future in this world.
In 2015, I made the important decision to write stories for my mixed-race children, Otis & Thea. Disillusioned with the lack of diversity in children’s books, I decided to create a series of storybooks with non-white characters.
I wanted to create children’s books with characters that looked like my own children. My first book Otis Lemon & The Spectacular Submarine was awarded the Platinum Junior Design Award 2016 in the Children’s Book of the Year category. I wanted BAME children to feel represented in the mainstream bookstores.
Only a very small percentage of British children’s books feature a main character who is black or minority ethnic. In a research project that was the first of its kind, and funded by Arts Council England, the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) asked UK publishers to submit books featuring BAME characters in 2017. Of the 9,115 children’s books published that year, researchers found that only 391 – 4% – featured BAME characters. Just 1% had a BAME main character, and a quarter of the books submitted only featured diversity in their background casts. This compares to the 32.1% of schoolchildren of minority ethnic origins in England identified by the Department of Education in 2016.
Racism comes in many forms, and to still see such a lack of representation in the publishing industry is wrong on so many levels. I was speaking with Otis yesterday about George Floyd and why he died – it’s incredible how children think and their viewpoint of the world – and he was asking me why the police knelt on George Floyd for 9 minutes, and why they didn’t just talk to him about it. As we talked the news came on, and we continued the conversation over breakfast. And this is what we must do to continue the conversation as parents or guardians. Continuing to have these conversations at home is where education starts for all of us. Schools must get better, but as parents, we are obligated to teach our children, and ourselves, at the same time.
I understand that I must do better to educate myself, my children, and my friends & family. I want my children to grow up in a world where they feel equal to their peers. But, the Black Lives Matter movement has taught me that there is still a long way to go before this happens. Businesses and organisations must change at the root and introduce an equal playing field, and we must ensure that diversity is represented across all elements of our lives.
This conversation isn’t just for one day, a week, or more, but it should be a continuous conversation to educate ourselves behind the squares of our social media. I understand that I will never understand. However, I stand. I stand for my children, my wife and my friends of colour across the world.
For some, the summer has come to soon to dismiss concerns about Covid-19 so a UK staycation is on the cards. For others, a trip abroad on a family summer holiday is an annual event not to be missed. European resorts are open so we thought we’d take a look at what’s on offer if you want to book a last-minute family summer holiday. ALWAYS check health guidelines and quarantine of the country you are going to and returning to.
A true gem waiting for you in Corfu this summer is Villa 1870, a historical five-bedroom, three-bathroom residence offering a private hideaway just 3km from Corfu Old Town. Sleeping up to 16 guests, Villa 1870 is ideal for families wanting a reunion trip following lockdown, whilst still enjoying privacy and isolation. On the property, you’ll find a heated outdoor seawater pool and games room as well as a private in-house chef (yes please!), daily housekeeping, access to their own chauffeur-driven mini-van, and local, insider knowledge from the owners. Corfu Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers plenty of sightseeing even during the cooler months, so guests can spend their days discovering Venetian architecture, exploring quiet cobbled squares, and even joining the Corfiots swimming in the sea! Nightly rates between €800 – €1,400, depending on the season. Rate includes accommodation, daily housekeeping, private mini-van airport transfers and to/from Corfu Town, baby equipment, laundry facilities and in-house private chef. Guests only pay for the ingredients of meals, not for the Chef service. For more information, please visit www.villa1870corfu.com.
The photography from our next summer holiday destination is enough to get you to book your flight. Sani Resort is open from July and with it their 1,000 acre ecological reserve with 7km of unspoiled and private sandy beaches leading to the ocean, spacious rooms and suites with private terraces, gardens and pools. From beach yoga, windsurfing and paddleboarding, to more educational activities such as beekeeping and bird watching in the Sani Wetlands, there’s something for every family at Sani Resort. Prices at Porto Sani in a Suite with Terrace or Balcony start from €180 per night, on a half-board basis. For more information, visitwww.saniresort.gr
Spread across 22 acres of landscaped gardens, the luxury all-inclusive Ikos Olivia offers a range of outdoor activities to suit the whole family during their summer holiday. There are complimentary clubs for kids and teens aged 4 – 17, operated according to strict British OFSTED standards. Heros Crèche with professional childcare crèche services for children up to the age of 4 is also available at an extra cost. After a day filled with activities, families can enjoy Michelin starred cuisine. The resort’s spacious Deluxe Collection suites and bungalows (above) offer the ultimate privacy for families, including one- and two-bedroom suites. Ikos Olivia will reopen on 1st July with enhanced health & safety measures as part of Ikos Resort’s new Infinite Care Protocol: https://ikosresorts.com/the-ikos-world-of-safety-freedom
Located off the western coast of France, the Ile de Ré couldn’t feel further from our current surroundings in the UK. With its picturesque villages, whitewashed streets, long stretches of sandy beaches and cycle paths winding through cornfields and vineyards, the Ile de Ré is a picture-perfect destination for a post-lockdown getaway with the family. Stay at the idyllic Villa Clarisse, nestled down a quiet cobbled street off Saint-Martin-de-Ré’s harbour, and enjoy a laid-back retreat where the staff are on hand to arrange picnics, bicycle hire and day trips. There’s a lovely outdoor heated pool and sandpit in the walled garden – the property has a relaxed feel which is great for families after months in lockdown together. The summer months see Parisian families flock there too! Nightly rates at Villa Clarisse start from €290 per night in a Premium Room (room-only). For further information and reservations, please visit www.villa-clarisse.com or call +33 546 684 300.
Following its annual closure and full redevelopment, the five-star HotelCrillon le Brave is set to re-open its doors to guests on 2nd July. Nestled within a village eponymous of the Vaucluse region, the hotel offers families the chance to explore the picture-perfect Provençal countryside and quaint, historical nearby towns. Children can visit old Roman castles while parents enjoy a glass of rose from the neighbouring vineyards. Crillon Le Brave is a gateway of adventure where children will discover hidden doorways along the garden walls and can cool down in the hotel pool when the excitement of running around has tired them out. This timeless hideaway combines chic design, complete privacy and attentive but discreet service, offering the ultimate French getaway for families to enjoy a quieter pace of life. Nightly rates at Hotel Crillon Le Brave start from 350 Euros on a bed & breakfast basis. For reservations and information visitwww.crillonlebrave.com.
Image: Antonio Furigno
A winter favourite of City Kids, Courmayeur Mont Blanc, is also a summer playground. It’s situated on the Italian side of Mont Blanc with car-free cobbled streets, family-run hotels, charming atmosphere, short transfer times and the superb offering of hiking, biking and fresh air. Food is gourmet standard, and hands up if your child doesn’t like pizza or pasta. No, we thought not. Head to the Skyway for a unique view of Mont Blanc and the valley below or try white water rafting, ice skating, indoor climbing, tennis, table tennis, golf and 5-a-side football. For more information on Courmayeur Mont Blanc visit:https://www.courmayeurmontblanc.it/en. Images:Courmayeur Mont Blanc.
Villa Le Fauci is a traditional and historic 19th-century Tuscan farmhouse located between coastal Livorno and fashionable Florence. It’s quiet and secluded and ideal for families looking to escape the crowds. Surrounded by flora and fauna, it is perfect for exploring with the kids, and families may even spot some of the wildlife that is common in the area, such as wild boar, foxes and deer. It has plenty of outside space, a full-size pool and a thoughtful mini pool for little ones. A converted roof terrace with 360° panoramic views of the hilly landscape, is a great place for parents to end the day with a glass of wine in hand. The villa sleeps eleven guests in four bedrooms. Rates from £3,858 for a seven-night stay. To book, visit www.oliverstravels.com or call 0800 133 7999.
If you’re in need of a health MOT but the family deserve a holiday too why not combine the two at this spa hotel which also happens to be a superb beach resort in The Algarve. With a new 7 night Family Wellness Package,Vilalara Longevity Thalassa & Medical Spa is the ultimate family-friendly wellness destination. Families can enjoy a variety of activities together including yoga, fitness and healthy cooking sessions. It has one of the best Thalassotherapy Centres in the world set within 11 hectares of land with five outdoor pools of fresh or seawater, four tennis courts and two excellent restaurants providing quality healthy cuisine. There’s also a superb Kids Club and a range of options for kids to stay healthy and active alongside their parents.
Vilalara Longevity Thalassa & Medical Spa (longevityvilalara.com, email@example.com, +351 967 108 244) offers the 7-night Family Wellness Package from €2,347 / £2,028 based on two adults and one child staying in a Junior Suite Garden View and from €3,422 / £2,957 for a family of two adults and two children.
Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean on the Vale Covo cliffside, the family-friendly five-star Tivoli Carvoeiro Algarve Resort offers coastal bliss for all the family just a 10-minute walk from the small fishing village of Carvoeiro. As well as the iconic circular swimming pool and rooftop bar, the spacious hotel also offers three restaurants, a Tivoli Spa and easy access to outdoor a multitude of fun, family activities, like the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, that make the most of the beautiful location. Nightly rates at Tivoli Carvoeiro Algarve Resort start from 220 EUR.
With a spectacular setting in the rolling hills of Andalusia overlooking Spain’s southern coastline, the independently-owned Finca Cortesin is the epitome of refined, yet relaxed Mediterranean living. The resort comprises an award-winning 67-suite hotel; one of the best championship golf courses in the world; an outstanding spa and sports facilities; some of the best Japanese raw cuisine outside of Japan; exclusive shopping area and a Beach Club, in addition to stunning five-bedroom villas that are perfect for families. The villas are located at the heart of Finca Cortesin, offering the utmost privacy from the main resort and offer unsurpassed views of the Sierra Bermeja mountain range, the golf course and the Mediterranean Sea. These all en-suite residences have been built on spacious individual plots of up to 2,200m2 – perfect for multi-generational families or groups of friends seeking more space. Nightly rates in the 5-bedroom Green 10 villas start from €3,467 (currently approx. £3,057). www.fincacortesin.com
Hillside Beach Club in Fethiye, Turkey, is a luxury hideaway perfect for family summer holidays. It has extensive outdoor space, including three stunning beaches and a beautiful private bay. Children and adults looking for activities and adventure are spoilt for choice, with water sports galore and activities from robot building to football competitions and DJ masterclasses. Hike through history and explore nearby ancient historical sites including the deserted village of Kayakoy, or take to the water and explore the coast on a sunset boat tour discovering 12 magical islands speckled across the Turkish coastline. Nightly rates start from £250 based from on two people sharing a standard room on a full board plus* basis.
Sun’s out, guns out, but more importantly, it’s time for the best family takeaway picnics! Luckily, one of our fave contributors, Tiny Table, has put together a fantastic list of ready-made picnics for families to enjoy.
LUXE LUNCHES: PIQUE Born out of Battersea, Pique’s luxury handmade picnics are vast in choice and ideal for families looking to really roll out the red picnic blanket. Birthday Breakfast hampers come complete with brunch essentials: banana and dark chocolate loaf with birthday candles, party hats, flowers and bubbles (for the big kids!). The natty named Leonardo de Veggie box is packed with veggie delights and the full monty is called The Pique-Nique. Chorizo, apricot and thyme sausage rolls, Lemony hummus and crudités, charcuterie, brie, pickles & chutney, orzo pasta salad, baguettes, brownies and more. Order with 48 hours notice and their picnic boxes will arrive to your door with disposable, compostable and plastic-free packaging. ORDER HERE
THE DELI DELIGHT: MELROSE AND MORGAN Melrose And Morgan are always our first stop for deli delights in Primrose Hill and Hampstead Village. From the Park to the Heath, their summer picnic hampers scale up from two to six, making them the perfect for family feasts in the sun. The Meadow is ideal for a family of four and packed with divine delights – salad, veggie or meat scotch eggs, cheddar cheese, hummus and spelt crackers, truffle crisps, broad beans, olives, feta stuffed peppers, cherry tomatoes, a punnet of strawberries and sinfully gooey chocolate brownies. ORDER HERE
FULL ON FAMILY FEASTING: JIMMY’S POP UP We waxed lyrical about their BBQ hampers and Jimmy’s Pop Up new picnic box is equally as impressive. Serving up to four, this hamper is just the ticket if you’re looking for a really special family alfresco feast. The best of British picnic fare, artisan cheese and meats sit nestled next to giant sausage rolls, handmade pork pies, homemade chutney, pickles, smoked salmon and for pud – strawberries and cream. Grown-ups can toast all their hard work during lockdown with a bottle of red, white or rose. Get ordering as Jimmy’s picnic box is set to be a popular one! ORDER HERE
SUNDAY LUNCH: THE EMPRESS East London gastropub The Empress is keeping to tradition despite recent events. Their takeaway Sunday roasts are pretty special and ideal for weekend picnicking. Their classic Empress Sunday Roast comes served with Yorkshire pudding, braised red cabbage, roast carrots & parsnips, spring greens & roast potatoes. So what will it be roast beef, pork belly or a vegan beetroot and nut roast? If you can squeeze room in for pudding there’s an unctuous sticky toffee pud and apricot Bakewell tart, both served with clotted cream. Order in advance to avoid disappointment! ORDER HERE
PIES, PASTRIES & PICNICS: POPHAMS We’re partial to their pastries, so when Pophams announced their picnic kits we jumped for joy…and in the nick of time for National Picnic Week. The ideal day-date treat for if you’ve snatched a few hours away from the kids whilst they’re at school, Pophams hamper is overflowing with deliciousness – root vegetables pithivier, olives, build your own porchetta focaccia sarnie, herby Isle of Wight Tomato salad, PB & J bread pudding sando, Pophams Eccles cakes with Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire cheese and more. A lush lunch in the sunshine if we ever did see! Nip over to pophamsbakery.com to order your picnic ORDER HERE
VEGAN PICNIC PICK: PETERSHAM NURSERIES Located in an area of outstanding natural beauty only moments away from the River Thames and on the doorstep of Richmond Park, Petersham Nurseries are serving up one heavenly park-ready vegan picnic. Priced at £40 for two (double for a family of four) the dishes are as mouthwatering as their restaurant fare. Vivid green pea hummus, farro and pesto salad, mushroom, chard and onion filo start, a moreish focaccia and English strawberries with mint sugar and Amalfi lemon. Orders for collection from Petersham Nurseries Richmond, Thursday – Sunday from 11.30am to 4.30pm. Order by 4pm for next day collection. ORDER HERE
MUMS THAT BRUNCH: THE FARMER’S MISTRESS If you’re bringing up your brood in South London, you’ll be familiar with The Farmer’s Mistress and their brilliant brunches. Their brand new Farmer’s Mistress Picnic box is not only environmentally friendly in a biodegradable box but is perfect for mums lunch dates on Clapham Common. With mini brioche aplenty tuck into non-Dairy cream cheese, balsamic onion, roasted pepper, wild garlic pesto, prawn, crème fraiche, avo, baby gem and chicken, smoked bacon. and sun-dried tomato. Caramelised apple & apricot sausage roll, date ketchup, scotch eggs and mustard mayo and wholewheat fusilli pesto pasta salad. Sweet endings? The salted caramel fudge brownie & millionaire shortbread bites are EPIC! ORDER HERE
MEAT FEAST: FIELD & FLOWER Award-winning online butcher Field & Flower have been keeping the country fed on the finest meat, poultry and fish during lockdown with their amazing array of delivery boxes. As part of their BBQ box range, their Summer Picnic BBQ box comes primed with thick-cut ham, artisan scotch eggs and British charcuterie alongside a hefty hunk of Barber’s Haystack Cheddar Cheese and pickles galore. With 32 whopping servings, this box will generously feed 3-4 people at least and comes in under £50. A top picnic pic for hungry families. ORDER HERE
ICE CREAM DREAM: CHIN CHIN LABS Kids picnics at home call for one thing – ice cream! Those clever chaps at Chin Chin Labs have gone all out this summer with their brand new Ice Cream in the Post! Using liquid nitrogen means their ice cream stays colder for longer so they can post freshly churned & hand-packed nitro ice cream straight from Chin Chin’s Soho kitchen to your front door! Each ice cream box includes one tub of Burnt Butter Caramel, one tub of Tonka Bean and one tub of Strawberry Milk ice cream. Please note that only grown-ups can handle the unpacking due to the dry ice in the box. ORDER HERE
ALFRESCO AFTERNOON TEA: HAM YARD HOTEL Firmdale Hotel’s Ham Yard Hotel may still be closed but they’ve kept their kitchen open to bring us one sweet treat – afternoon tea boxes. With delivery to most postcodes across London, Ham Yard Hotel have boxed up their favourite treats including delicious finger sandwiches, sumptuous savouries like tomato arancini and sausage rolls, scones with clotted cream and preserves and our mouth-watering cakes, including lemon drizzle and raspberry Bakewell tart. Place your order prior to midday on Thursday for a choice of Friday, Saturday or Sunday delivery. ORDER HERE
Protests supporting the Black Lives Matter campaign have taken place worldwide and families have been getting involved too. We asked one parent to give an account of her experience of organising a family friendly protest.
Words: Carey Johnstone
NW London Children’s Protest
Sitting in our flat, in a terrace on the edge of Kilburn, with our baby and our three year old, we were trying to figure out what to do. Like many people, we’d been staring at our phones, watching the Black Lives Matter protests in America, watching events escalate and spill over into the rest of the world, and our own lives. We were trying to work out how we could get to the protests that were happening in the middle of the city.
Protests and marches are a type of activism that I truly believe in and we have taken our toddler to various big protests since she was a baby. But in lockdown it was different. We didn’t feel like we could get to the protests safely, and once we were there we weren’t sure we would be able to keep ourselves and our children at a safe distance – small children and babies can’t wear masks. It felt wrong to go; it felt wrong to stay at home. Our friends Taio and Phoebe were in the same boat, with two kids the same age (one of whom is our eldest daughter’s best friend).
A throwaway WhatsApp suggestion by Phoebe on Wednesday night, to go to our local park together with our placards and hold our own family protest, grew by Thursday morning into the idea of organising a protest for children, families and whoever else wanted to come. We decided on the coming Saturday – three days away – and agreed that as long as we could get four families to attend then it would be a success.
Spreading the news
Taio volunteered to speak at the start of the protest, and my partner made us a flyer which gave the event a sudden sense of legitimacy. By that evening we were ready to send it out to friends and to post it on social media. We didn’t set up a specific page for the event, and had no names or contact details on the flyer – so once we’d posted it, we had no idea who or how many people would attend. We sent it to our nursery WhatsApp group; a couple of Instagram accounts (including @Citykidsmagazine!) with large followings; and we got some attention (mainly positive) on local mums Facebook groups. On Friday my two biggest fears were these: What if no-one comes? What if everyone comes?
On Saturday morning the weather was fairly grim. My fear of the protest turning into Woodstock and social distancing being impossible was allayed. It looked far more likely that our protest would be a small gaggle of friends meeting and marching through a rainy, empty park. Phoebe and Taio came round to ours, and we all walked to the park together – as always with toddlers, running a little late.
But as we walked through the park gates, 5 minutes before the protest was planned to begin, we could already see a crowd gathering. Some familiar faces, but mostly people we’d never seen before. More and more people arrived. Small and large families, old and young people, a group of teachers from the school where I work, black, white, mixed heritage. By the time Taio stood on a rock and called everyone to attention, there were around 250 people gathered (at a distance) holding placards and signs, wrapped up in raincoats or with umbrellas.
Communicating a message
Taio read from James Baldwin, and spoke about the specific fears black parents have for their children. He listed the statistics of the inequalities black people suffer in the UK’s justice system. He spoke about his experience of being black and a father, and his own fears. And then we marched. As we marched, social distancing meant that we formed a ring around the whole park, marching and chanting together. (Our daughter Joni announced she didn’t like all this shouting, and was worried we’d wake people who were sleeping!). Some teenagers walking through the park to buy Lucozade stopped and joined us, as did some people doing exercise. After the march, we knelt together for a minute’s silence.
What did the protest do? How did it feel? It felt powerful. It felt joyful. It felt good.
Two things really stood out. One, that very few people in that park knew who had organised it, or who was speaking, and it didn’t really matter at all. People came because they felt the same, because they really wanted to do something and, even though we’re in the middle of this awful, scary pandemic, they wanted to be together.
And two, that despite our surprise at the number of people who came, we were only 250 people, in a park, in a corner of northwest London. The government and the media wouldn’t even know that we’d been there. But we all knew. All the people in that park – and their children – could see that others living around them, felt the same way, supported each other, and are fed up with the way that black people are treated. Black Lives Matter.
In part two of our interview with Joe Wicks, he tells us about his inspiration and how he’s taken to parenting.
Thirty minutes on the phone with Joe Wicks flies by. What you get is what you see. He is how you’d expect him to be: friendly, talkative, genuine and interested in what you want to ask. There is no edge. And he seems at his most content when he’s talking about his family, whether that be his parents, babies or wife, Rosie. And during lockdown, there’s no other place he’d rather have been holed up.
“Apart from not being able to go for dinner or to the cinema and see our family and friends it hasn’t changed much in the sense that we’re always at home together, you know I do my YouTube videos and my content, recipes and stuff here so we kind of always live in each other’s pockets, even from the start, before we had kids. We’re our happiest when we’re together, we want to be together, so it hasn’t been too difficult. I’ve actually spent more time with them than ever while being busy. It’s been quite intense but in a positive way. I think we’ve had a nice time, I don’t think it’s been negative for us as a family.
Marley’s almost six months old now, but could you share the recent scare you had with him? For the first couple of months he was so needy, he didn’t want to be left alone and we didn’t know if he had reflux or colic. But then it got to the point where we realised he could never make eye contact with you. He would look to the right or to the left of you, never at you. It was this thing called delayed visual maturity and so he was always crying, you couldn’t put him down, he was blind as a bat basically. He was in a black room all on his own, he didn’t know where we were. One day, it was like the light went on and he could see and he’s become a different kid – it’s changed his personality. He’s more relaxed, he’s got this wonderful energy and he just smiles and he just wants to be looked at and smiled at, he loves it so much. I fully accepted that he could have been blind, 100%, I said we’re going to love him the same, it’s not going to change our world, we’re going to look after him and be there for him and as it turned out he was fine and we didn’t need to deal with that. It was definitely scary and upsetting.
Indie’s a good big sister? She loves him. She was really jealous of me being with him but now she’s cool. She understands he’s there and she knows he’s her little brother. I look round and she gives him his dummy and kisses him on the head and she wants to hold his hand. It’s an amazing thing to see, I love how nurturing she is. She’s very maternal and she looks after him like he’s her baby it’s so cute.
Indie’s often seen with you training, what activities does she enjoy? Indie goes to The Little Gym and she did go to Gymboree but that’s now closed but she loves all those activities and I’d love to take her to ballet and horse riding. I’d like her to try everything, have a go at karate, at skateboarding to see what she loves really and try to encourage her to be creative and active and whatever she finds her love for I’ll obviously encourage.
Image from @thebodycoach
Are you a strict dad? Do you deal with tantrums well? I try to be really patient with her, so we don’t shout and swear we try to be really calm around her. She’s challenging, she’s tough, we do have our moments. I think I’m a bit of a softie when it comes to it. She always wants fruit so she comes up to me and says “ a strawbee, as strawbee” and I can’t help but just give her one – I love seeing her little face light up and getting a kiss and a cuddle when I give her a strawberry. But I definitely need to stop as she knows I’m a bit of a softie, I’m a bit of a pushover. I just can’t say no, I just love her so much.
You’ve been through tough times and shown resilience when your business was getting off the ground. But you had the confidence and resilience to carry on. What’s the most important life skill you’d like to pass on to your kids? I think being kind and positive are amazing traits to have. When you’re considerate of other people, whether at school or at work, whether you’re in hospital, how you treat the people who look after you and are around you, that’ll be the most important thing I can teach Indie: kindness to everyone, either that’s being polite and sharing with kids in nursery or wanting to just be friendly and welcome new kids to the class. I really hope that those are the things that she picks up from me and Rosie. I think me and Rosie are quite similar in that way, we’re not judgemental, we’re quite open to people and her personality is quite open.
And who has shaped that open nature of yours? My mum definitely. She had quite a strict upbringing. She left school when she was young, got kicked out when she was 15, so how she raised me and my brothers to be who we are I really don’t know. My dad was in and out of rehab, he was a heavy drug addict and he wasn’t there, he wasn’t a role model. But my mum was. We always knew rules, we always understood what was right and wrong and we always respected her. She taught me how to look after my room, how to respect my clothes and my house and that means soemthing. When I look back now I realise that we had our difficult times during the teenage years, we obviously banged heads and stuff but she wanted the best for us and without doubt, she taught me to be loving and caring and she shaped the person I am, no doubt in my mind. But later on in my adult life, my dad is obviously a good role model and he’s there for me as well.
Image Maja Smend from Wean in 15
Do you worry about the world that your children will be growing up in? More so than ever. Especially around the environment and the impact on the oceans and the forests. Seeing plastic in the ocean breaks my heart and the animals and the wildlife getting squeezed out of their natural habitat, it’s depressing if you think about it. It’s hard to accept what’s going on and to realise as a human race we’re moving too quick and we’re destroying too many things. And now with everything that’s going on with equality and racism I want to make sure that I am being diverse in my life with Indie so she experiences that and so she doesn’t have any prejudices when she grows up.
You recently got into meditation. Does it help with the stresses and strains of running a business and parenting? I did Russell Brand’s podcast Under the Skin and he said just give it a go, I think it will really benefit you. I gave it a go every day for a couple of weeks and it really opened up my mind about leaving my phone and being present and having a little moment to breathe. I’d be lying if I said I do it every day but I do it maybe three or four times a week and on those days I do it, even if it’s ten minutes, it just centres me a bit, grounds me and gets me present cos I’m always on this conveyor belt of work, this hamster wheel that never stops turning. I really do enjoy it. I always said I’m too busy to do it, I’m mindful but I can’t be mindful, but you can. It’s like training. Some days you do a work out and it’s sh*t and other days you love it and feel really good and it’s the same thing with yoga and meditation, just good practice and bad practice.
Before we go, what would be your best advice for new parents? You have to go to bed when your kids go to bed, not every night cos that’s not going to happen. You’ve got to put them in bed, have your dinner early and then get straight in there with them, go to bed and if you can get that extra few hours sleep. If you stay up til half ten or eleven, and you’re getting woken up you can’t catch up so you have got to sacrifice sometimes you need to get to bed a bit earlier and you’re going to feel much better at the end of it.
June is normally a month awash with rainbows celebrating Pride Month, a time to commemorate, learn and recognise the positivity of the LGBTQ community. It’s also a chance for LGBTQ families to share their experiences with the wider world.
Of course, Covid-19 has put a stop to large gatherings, but there are other ways to acknowledge the contribution of LGBTQ communities as well as educate those who are not up to speed. Here are some ideas and resources for family and child-friendly things to do.
Although based in the States, The Trevor Project has a fantastic range of resources and support for young people. It provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services and lots of materials for young people everywhere who are curious, confused and scared. It also is an incredibly useful place to use if you’re an educator, business owner or parent – in fact anyone!
Mermaids began as a group of concerned parents sharing experiences and trying to find ways to keep children safe and happy. It’s grown into one of the UK’s leading LGBTQ+ charities, empowering thousands of people with its secure online communities, local community groups, helpline services, web resources, events and residential weekends.
While your kids may not be direct beneficiaries of this homelessness project, you may want to donate of help with the charity for your own self-development. The Outside Project of LGBTIQ+ colleagues, friends & activists work in the Homeless sector & have lived experience of homelessness & the unique, complex issues their community faces.
akt supports lgbtq+ young people aged 16-25 in the UK who are facing or experiencing homelessness or living in a hostile environment. It was originally formed in Manchester in 1989 by Cath Hall, an experienced foster carer, and founder member of Manchester Parents Group (MPG), who had become acutely aware of the rejection and ejection of young LGBT people from their family home and the homophobia they faced within school and society.
Sunny weather, restrictions loosening? Must be time for a picnic with friends. Here’s our guide to the best London parks for picnics
Primrose Hill 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.
Victoria Park 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.
London Fields Close to Broadway Market, if you can’t be bothered to pack the picnic, you can buy supplies here. The Olympic-sized lido is sadly not open yet, but it won’t be long!
Holland Park There’s plenty to do here if you need to keep the kids entertained with football, golf and netball posts. Plus the Kyoto garden may just be a hint of how Japan is looking during blossom season.
Richmond Park 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.
Wandsworth Park 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.
Brockwell Park When restrictions finally lift, you need to head here early 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 Take 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.
Kew Gardens Always a popular choice when the sun shines, it’s still possible to find a quiet spot for a sarnie.
Images courtesy: Primrose Hill: Royal Parks Holland Park: travellingdaveuk Brockwell Park Lido: Brockwell Park Lido