It’s time to check out our latest Friday Five – a handpicked selection of the best things to do with kids this weekend in London.
KEW SCIENCE FESTIVAL
Get your lab coat and goggles at the ready, it’s time to experiment. Fun for all the family, there will be workshops, behind the scenes tours, hands on experiments, shows and a bunch of Kew’s scientists to explain how they are protecting rare plants and fungi. All weekend kew.org
FESTIVAL OF PLAY
Museum of Childhood
It’s all about celebrating play at this free weekend festival. Suitable for all ages, there will be plenty of games, workshops and activities including making robot sculptures, baby sensory play and how to make a video game. All weekend vam.ac.uk
LAMBETH COUNTRY SHOW
Head on over to Brixton for this family friendly event where you can get to meet animals from Vauxhall City Farm, browse stalls, listen to a bit of live music, do some arts and crafts, get some yummy grub plus loads more, there is something for everyone! All weekend lambethcountryshow.co.uk
APOLLO 11 FAMILY FESTIVAL
Get dressed as an astronaut, find out what happened to all the Moon rocks, discover how your body changes in space and see a special screening of the Clangers at this festival which marks the 50th anniversary of NASA’s Apollo Moon landing. All weekend sciencemuseum.org.uk
OVER THE MOON: OPERA FOR BABIES
As part of the Canary Wharf Summer Family Festival, Over the Moon is a free interactive, operatic adventure for babies. A calm, playful and relaxing first opera experience for the small ones and their grown ups. Sunday canarywharf.com
Boden will launch a Harry Potter inspired collection for Mini Boden next month. City Kids has a sneak peek at what’s in store
As you might expect from Boden, this range is classy and isn’t simply a case of lifting the Gryffindor crest or repurposing a series of cloaks for fancy dress. Designed entirely in-house by the Mini Boden design team you can expect bespoke prints, unique embroidery, colour change sequins, fluttering appliqué and 3D detailing on tops, capes, trousers and dresses.
There will be 81 pieces running from newborn to age 16 so that all children can wear the magic. Keep your eyes peeled for ‘House Bretons’, rugby shirts and a ‘Hegwig Cardigan’. A second collection will launch on 7th October 2019.
Mini Boden has invited customers to follow the magic by registering their interest online to be the first to know when the collection drops on Monday 5th August 2019. We hope their I.T. department is ready!
The school holidays are just around the corner which means we will all have kids to keep entertained 24/7. But don’t let the thought of endless ‘what are we doing now mummy’ questions send you into a panic. We’ve got your back and will be sharing lots of ways to keep you children boredom-free (and your sanity intact) this summer.
First up check out the fantastic My Busy Bots. Founded by two mums, this clever company create award-winning ‘busy bags’ containing fun, educational activities that will encourage learning through play. These bags engage your little ones and keep them having fun, learning and occupied – very important when you have weeks of school holidays to fill.
Colourful and fun, they are an excellent resource and can be used either at home or on the go – they’re perfect for keeping children happy and absorbed while you’re in a restaurant, airport or travelling.
Each includes an activity with all the relevant materials required and an information card. Suitable for children aged 18 months – 8 years old with an age indication on each bag.
We will definitely be pulling a few of these out of our hand luggage this summer.
All the mummy’s out there who enjoy designing and decorating their children’s bedrooms as much as any other room in the house will fall in love with Hibou Home instantly.
This amazing interiors brand has everything you need to create the dream bedroom or playroom for your little ones. We can’t get enough of the linen canopies that can either drape over a bed or in a corner with cushions inside to create a cosy little den. Their range of fabric and wallpaper feature the most beautiful designs and illustrations – all very tasteful with Scandi influences.
Hibou Home is a real one-stop-shop, packed with inspiration for a nursery or older children’s rooms, . Their experts are also happy to give you decorating advice so if you are planning a room revamp then definitely pay them a visit online.
When they aren’t running around barefoot on the beach this summer, our children will be wearing Cienta canvas pumps.
These classic children’s plimsols are stylish and practical in equal measure. Adorably cute, but also wonderfully practical, they come in a range of colours for boys and girls aged 12 months to 12 year.
A Spanish classic, these shoes are now worn all over the world and made from all-natural materials. We love that they go in the washing machine and even hold a little surprise – a natural fragrance is injected into rubber during production and the soles smell of berries! So cute.
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
Our weekly round up of super-cool things for your little ones to enjoy
Toy Story 4
The wait is nearly over. Woody, Buzz and Slinky are about to hit our screens again in a matter of days. Toy Story 4 had its London premier this weekend and we are just a little bit excited.
We all thought that the Sheriff and his friends escaping the clutches of evil Lots-o’ and finding a lovely new home with Bonnie was the end of the road for Toy Story right? Well we were wrong. The fourth film in this much-loved Disney series hits UK screens on June 21.
Expect all the gang back together again and heading off on an exciting road trip where they discover just how big the world can be for toys. This summer’s must-see kids’ movie is set to be every bit as good as the previous three so get that date in your diary and pre-book tickets ASAP – they are bound to be in high demand!
Nothing beats classic, well-made toys. The kind you can keep forever and every child that ever comes to your home will be drawn to.
From dolls houses and car garages to play kitchens and doctor’s kits, Le Toy Van make some of the best toys around that will really fire up little one’s imagination.
If you, like us, are fed up of TV and screens, then switch off the gadgets and opt for one of their amazing playsets instead.
They encourage role play and creativity and are all educational in their own way – how we love a pretend cup of tea or a trip to an imaginary market.
Le Toy Van have been making wooden toys, designed in Great Britain with a touch of French je ne sais quoi, since 1995. They are all ethically made from sustainable tactile materials that are also really durable.
So next time you are on the lookout for a fab birthday present for your own kids or their little friends, make sure you check out this brand because there really is the perfect toy for everyone in their lovely range.
Whether the sun is shining or not, kids love an ice lolly. But, unless you make your own (fun but a bit of a faff), most ice lollies are packed with sugar. Yummy, but not great for little teeth.
So we were delighted to hear that independent ice-cream brand Jude’s has launched a range made with fruit and vegetables. The Fruit & Veg Rockets are made with naturally sourced ingredients and no refined sugar.
A much healthier option, they contain just 32 calories and less than 10% sugar, making them the lowest sugar content frozen treat on the market, according to the brand.
The treats are available in Sainsbury’s and cost £3.59 for a pack of six. Or visit Judes.co.uk to find other stockists.
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.