The “London’s Most Toddler-Friendly Cafe Award” WINNER announced!!

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It’s been a long, hard-fought battle but I’m pleased to announce we have a winner. Thank you to everyone who voted, and for all the cafes for doing so much to promote the poll.

So, in third place it’s the. …

Tea House Theatre!

In second place. …

Eat Play Love!

And the winner is. …

The Dish and the Spoon!!

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Congratulations to Shona and the team. .. the LWAT trophy is on its way*! Here are some comments your voters made. ..

“Shona is great and they do dark fluid coffee!”

“Great food for parents and kids great staff and the play area is a bonus”

“We would be lost without it! Great coffee too”

So, congratulations to to The Dish and the Spoon! I look forward to visiting again soon for more carrot cake!

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* Provided I get to the Post Office** today

** Provided they have Post Offices in The Countryside

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CBeebies Premiere – 27/10/13

20131027_110745This morning was an exciting one. A boy and a girl left a cinema on Regent St giddy, giggling and excited after some close celebrity encounters. That was me and Nathan, but Reuben was pretty hyped too.

It was all so unexpected. I knew we were going to a screening of some new CBeebies shows, compered by SidBeebies but I didn’t expect Sid to be out mingling with us before it started. Neither did Roo, and he was a bit taken aback. I don’t think he quite knew what to say, but it did make him very happy…

20131027_104007But there was more! We also met Dr Ranj, of “Get Well Soon” fame (and Reuben was thrilled to learn that he knew the father of his BFF….we’ve been telling him this for ages, but he didn’t believe it until he heard it from the doctor himself). Mister Maker was wandering around, as were the child actors of the new shows we were there to see. There was a magician and a lady making balloon animals, and I smiled at someone I thought I knew, because she was smiling at Eva and saying how cute she was. It was only when I went to talk to her that I realised I didn’t know her – it was Luisa from “The Apprentice”.

On the way into the screening, Jean Adamson, author of the “Topsy and Tim” books, attempted not to step on any of the small children and when we sat down, there was an exuberant guy called Ray behind us, walking a toddler called Harry about. Some extensive googling leads me to believe this was Ray Quinn, of X Factor fame. There were probably other celebrities there, but I’m not too hot on “slebs” and wouldn’t have recognised them. But I did recognise Floella Benjamin.

Enough of the smug schmoozing talk! What were we actually there to see? Well, it was the premiere of two brand new Beebies shows, along with a new episode of “Tree Fu Tom”. Sid introduced the shows with a chorus of “If you’re happy and you know it” and then we saw a few previews of some upcoming shows. There are some exciting and puzzling new developments. Are you ready for this….?

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Let’s start off mildly – there’s a new character in “Old Jack’s Boat” – he seems to be a kind of rival sailor. So far, pretty innocuous. There’s a new music-based show called “Melody” and another one about starting school. “My Story” seems to have moved away from mainly-Scottish tales, with a scene of some pearly kings and queens doing the Lambeth Walk (We have lived just off Lambeth Walk for years now, and I have never yet met anyone doing this).

Slightly more intriguing – Kip the inventor seems to have built a time machine, as Andy is now going on some dinosaur adventures. Nathan was very excited about that, and Reuben was too.

But the big news? “Grandpa in my Pocket” has new grandchildren! Jason Mason is now a gangly teen, who has passed the magical mantle onto some other children (presumably his cousins) and the story centres around them now.  If you’re a “Grandpa” purist, this may upset you…

So, onto the main events and first up was “Katie Morag”. This won’t upset anyone – it’s a simple, lovely tale about a girl growing up on the (fictional) Isle of Struay in the Hebrides.  It’s about family, small island life and gentle comedy – nothing particularly ground-breaking, but very well done and well acted by the lead, Cherry Campbell. When interviewed by Sid, she said that her favourite bit of filming was “everything”, then told a joke about a “wee chimney”. She was a bit adorable.

Next was some Tree Fu Magic, which Sid demonstrated to us, along with Cherry and the other child actors. Sid may have regretted his choice of very tight jeans when demonstrating the “Big Ant” spell and….I’m not going to sugar coat it for you readers….there was a flash of CBeebies pant-age. Neon pink at that. Mothers throughout the audience are still trying to calm down.

Talking of mothers calming down, there may be some disappointment when the new “Tree Fu Tom” series airs, as the luscious tones of David Tennant have been replaced. I imagine he’s busy doing Shakespeare or something and it doesn’t detract too much from the all-new Tree Fu, which is as pacey and action-packed as ever. The replacement does a good DT impression, but real Tennant obsessives connoisseurs may notice the difference.

And so it was time for “Topsy and Tim”. I used to enjoy the books when I was a kid, and Roo enjoys them now though for the grown-ups reading them aloud, they can seem a little repetitive. The point of the books is to explore the everyday things that 5-year-olds do, and the TV series captures that pretty faithfully. The episode we saw concerned the twins making cardboard copies of themselves and arguing with Mummy over bunk beds. There was some foreshadowing, setting up future episodes that Nathan and I recognise from the books (“Topsy and Tim Move House”, “Topsy and Tim and the New Baby”). It was well done, and fans of the books will love it, but there’s no getting round the fact that these are not the most exciting stories you will ever watch. But hey, we have “Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures” for that….

On the way out, we bumped into Mister Maker, annoyed him by calling him Mister Liker-Biker and Roo’s day was complete. And we have some very interesting autumn viewing to look forward to…

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A Wee Bit of Clarification

Sorry, I tend to be a bit oblique at times….Just to clarify, to vote for your favourite toddler-friendly cafe, you must click on the poll. “Like”s, comments etc are all lovely and welcome, but they won’t be counted as votes. Only clicks on the polldaddy poll at the bottom of the nominees post. Hope that helps 🙂

So get voting! Votes close on 31st Oct!

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Romance Tips for Teens

kathan love 1As Nathan and I are celebrating 16 years together this week, I thought I’d pass on a few nuggets of wisdom to any other people who may be contemplating starting one of those teenage relationships. It’s what the older generation are meant to do, right? But before we get onto those vital tips, here’s the link to of the toddler-friendly cafe poll:

So, onto my top 10 tips for teen romance…

1) For girls: Isn’t it awkward when you first have to tell your parents that you have a new boyfriend? Why not skip out this awkward stage by having your first kiss in front of your mother? If you haven’t so much as had a conversation with the guy, even better!

2) For guys: Asking a girl’s name twice is a bit embarrassing, especially after you’ve snogged them. Nowadays, you have these mobile devices – why not write it down for future reference?

3) For girls: Don’t you worry about how your parents might embarrass you the first time you bring a guy home? Well, let him see your father drunkenly dancing at a teen party before you get together. It gets all that embarrassment out of the way quick!

4) For guys: If you kiss the little sister of someone who is much bigger and tougher than you, you have two options. A) Get beaten up B) Marry her. Your choice. But beware, you never know when that beating’s coming. A few decades and kids down the line, it might still happen…

5) For girls: Don’t write off the guy who’s spinning in a circle doing a “dizzy dance”. He may be sweaty and drunk, but he’s got a cool blur t-shirt. That could be the father of your children.

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6) For guys: If possible, make sure that the girl you kiss at a party was in the same nativity play as you when you were kids. That’ll provide hours of entertainment later on.

7) For girls: If your mother starts asking awkward questions about that guy she just saw you kissing, get your friend to vomit all over her car. That’ll distract her.

8) For guys: Do you get nervous before approaching a girl that you like? Wait till everyone rushes outside, and then hoover up all their abandoned pints on the bar. That’ll give you some courage.

9) For girls: Another great tactic for avoiding attention when flirting with a guy is to get a lynch mob of people to strip your brother naked outside. Beware – you may end up arguing with your brother’s best friend because he won’t give him his trousers back.

10) For guys: When it comes to magical first date venues, nothing screams romance like Basingstoke. That’s why they call it the “Medium-sized town of Love”.

There you go – a definitive guide to finding the guy or girl of your dreams when you’re a hapless teenager. You can thank me all you like, but I will be taking a small commission for every marriage these amazing tips produce. That’s amore.

kathan love 2

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Nominees for “London’s Most Toddler-Friendly Cafe” Award!

So here it is, the shortlist that some of you have been waiting for… Voting starts NOW! Winner will be announced on Nov 1st. In no particular order, the nominees are…

Beanies, CroydonIMG-20121031-01606

Nearest Station: East Croydon (National Rail)

Special Features: Play Floor, Pic n Mix toddler food

What LWAT says: “A nice place to spend a lunchtime and an afternoons”

cafe badge nominee

Tea House Theatre, Vauxhall

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Nearest Station: Vauxhall (Victoria Line and National Rail)

Special Features: Child-friendly film nights, toy chest

What LWAT says: “It’s welcoming to toddlers, the cakes are exciting, the decor is kooky and the people are friendly”

cafe badge nominee

Eat, Play, Love, Battersea

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Nearest Station: Battersea Park (National Rail)

Special Features: Play area, Spotty family toilets

What LWAT  says: “A great place to hang out with kids”

cafe badge nominee

Arts and Crusts, Walthamstow

2013-09-28 13.49.01Nearest Station: Walthamstow Central (Victoria Line and National Rail)

Special Features: Sand table, E17-shaped buzzer game

What LWAT readers say: ” It is lovely, with great coffee/cake/bread etc. the owners have small children themselves so there are plenty of toys and a very child friendly atmosphere. It’s a great place to keep up with what’s on in the area and the local news and issues”

cafe badge nominee

Gooseberry Bush Cafe, South Wimbledon

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Nearest Station: South Wimbledon (Northern Line)

Special Features: Baby classes, toys and crafts for sale

What LWAT says: “A very pleasant place for a cuppa with a friend and a happy baby”

cafe badge nominee

The Dish and the Spoon, Nunhead

2013-09-20 11.49.22Nearest Station: Peckham Rye (Overground and National Rail)

Special Features: Music Sessions, play area

What LWAT readers say: “We have been regulars there since it opened & love it, the staff are so accommodating and have made a child-friendly haven in what used to feel a long way from anywhere :-)”

cafe badge nominee

That Place on the Corner, Stoke Newington

IMG-20120830-01052Nearest Station: Canonbury (Overground)

Special Features: Singing groups, dressing up area

What LWAT says: “It is entirely designed with children in mind – dressing up, toys, stacks of highchairs and -of course- a kids menu”

cafe badge nominee

Dulwich Park Cafe, Dulwich

2013-09-27 12.06.38Nearest Station: West Dulwich (National Rail)

Special Features: Play area, outside seating near playground

What LWAT readers say: “Super yummy food, a corner of toys for kids and a kids menu.”

cafe badge nominee

Living Waters Satisfy, Crystal Palace

IMG-20120417-00025Nearest Station: Crystal Palace (Overground and National Rail)

Special Features: Toy corner, Ice cream counter

What LWAT readers say: “Living waters is the only cafe I have been to where I know I don’t need to worry about my kids being…. well kids! There are toys and books for them to play with, a choice of tables and chairs or sofas, a kid friendly menu and understanding staff, and no-one batting an eyelid if they decide to go for a wander, have a tantrum or make friends with the kids on the other side of the cafe”

Pistachios in the Park, Greenwich

2013-10-05 11.16.56Nearest Station: Westcombe Park (National Rail)

Special Features: Large outdoor area, toys and crafts for sale

What LWAT readers say: “The food is homemade and comes in generous portions, the drinks are good and the service is charmingly disorganised. But they clearly like kids, and it’s the little things like adding marshmallows to my son’s hot chocolate and offering a glass of water for the toddler, that make the difference when you’re eating out with kids”

cafe badge nominee

Deli Nene, Beckenham

2013-10-05 11.16.56Nearest Station: Beckenham Junction (National Rail/Tram)

Special Features: Massive play area, singing groups

What LWAT readers say: “This place is lovely… a great play area for children, with books, toys, a tent etc etc. My three love it – so it appeals to children from 10 months to school age. Nice food too and a cheap children’s menu. Combine it with a trip to Kelsey Park for an afternoon out – and make the trip to zone 4 worth while!”

cafe badge nominee

So, voting starts now! Fill in the form below to vote for your favourite. Voting will close on Oct 31st and the winner announced on Nov 1st.

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Little Dinosaurs – 23/10/13

20131023_130252Yesterday was a busy day. A 6-tube, 3-bus, uphill-downhill kind of day. And our first destination was Little Dinosaurs at Alexandra Palace. We caught the Victoria Line as far as Finsbury Park and made a very easy change onto the Piccadilly Line, then I thought I’d take a photo to commemorate the moment.

20131023_095818We don’t take the Piccadilly Line very often and I may have once slagged it off as being entirely pointless and just being like the Victoria Line but slower, and for going to a whole bunch of places no-one would ever want to go to. ..but it came in useful for getting to   Wood Green, so I take it all back. Besides, I like that Piccadilly Line over ground picture they have and it’s also reallllly useful if you’ve got Suede’s “Europe is our playground” stuck in your head and you’re wondering just how far it is from Heathrow to Hounslow.  Answer – not far. But depends whether you’re going from Hounslow West, East or Central. . and also which terminal at Heathrow you need. Be more specific, Brett!

I digress.  But I didn’t digress yesterday, and we completed our step free route by gliding up the escalator at wood Green and hopping onto the surprisingly regular W3 to go up the hill to Ally Pally. The park there is huge and the correct stop for Little Dinosaurs is about the 4th one after Alexandra Palace station. But I couldn’t resist jumping off a couple of stops early and taking some pictures of the view over London.

20131023_102050Then we dawdled a bit, taking autumnal photos of Eva as I tried to figure out how there could be a soft play in the middle of what looked like a forest.

20131023_102846But there it was – Little Dinosaurs! As you may have gathered, it is a dinosaur-themed soft play, in the depths of Alexandra Palace Park. It has the usual array of passive aggressive soft play warning notices, from the sign telling you to leave other people’s belongings alone on the front gate, to the multiple posters dotted about once you get in there. I think we abided by most of the rules, but I can’t say for sure.

20131023_105613Talking of rules, I was up there to scope out a potential entry for the Toddler-Friendly Cafe Awards but it’s pretty obvious that this isn’t a cafe – it’s a soft play with a cafe in it. If I included this one, I’d be opening a whole can of jelly worms so sadly, it doesn’t count. But happily, it is a cool place to hang out for a few hours (1 and a half, to be exact…or 2 if you buy food. See, I did read the notices!)

We were there with Eva’s birthday-buddy T and my friend T’sMum. Eva and T mostly got on well – just look how happily they’re playing together here:

20131023_123920Although that was shortly before Eva tried to bite a chunk out of T’s face. I think T’s Dad may well beat me up at church next week. Still, T didn’t hold a grudge and they bravely explored the Big Frame together:

20131023_123812as well as hurling soft play lego bricks (satisfyingly stackable) at each other in the toddler area (3-18months only – again, I read the sign).

The dino theme made me think that Roo would enjoy it here and he would probably insist on wearing dinosaur-themed clothes, as I saw many small boys doing. Weirdly, there were also a lot of mums in animal print, a la The Flintstones. They were clearly embracing the theme.

20131023_104017To stop Eva eating any more small children, I thought it might be wise to get some lunch. I ordered a jacket potato for me and a kids’ pasta for her, but regretted it as my potato was so huge that we could have just shared that. Especially as she snubbed her pasta once the potato arrived, and just ate mine. She also insisted on getting a highchair and sitting in it before realising it was far too high for the child-size tables. So, eventually she relented and agreed to sit on a tiny-person-sized chair. And no, she’s not suddenly using words to issue all these commands, but her emphatic pointing is pretty clear.

20131023_105608Our allotted 2 hours were pretty much up, so we had a quick romp around the outside area, which had a sandpit, 2 Wendy Houses and a rather nice leafy tunnel:

20131023_130507Apparently in summer they also put a bouncy castle out there. This being not summer, the ground was a little muddy and Eva could have done with her wellies. But she was getting tired anyway, so we put the two of them into their buggies and went for a wander to get them to sleep.

20131023_130210I didn’t have much time, because the school run was threatening, but I could have spent ages wandering around the park. There’s some kind of misconception about me that I can’t stand nature. It’s not true! I just like it in small, carefully controlled doses near reliable public transport. I mean, look at this gorgeous lake:

20131023_134802It’s lovely, and it’s got a cafe next door and other signs of civilisation and it’s on a bus route. That’s as much nature as anyone needs.

20131023_134852Look! Wildlife and everything!

Alexandra Palace itself was also lovely, with high ceilings and tropical plants inside. We couldn’t go far because there was an event on, but I did sneak a few photos. And I’m particularly proud of the first one, which Nathan said was “so good it could be a stock image”. High praise indeed.

20131023_133705 20131023_133701But the afternoon was drawing in, so we jumped on that W3 bus again, then a couple of tubes, walked a mile and got to Roo’s school just before pick-up. What would any sensible mother do next, after such a busy day? Well, forget that – we decided to go into Central London instead.

So, another tube and this time we had a tube picnic. By this time, I’d jettisoned the buggy and Eva was on my back, smushing crumbs into my hair.

20131023_153919(0)We were off to see some friends of ours who live near Regent’s Park. We shall call them Family Em_Phatic. They have a girl who’s Reuben’s age and two boys either side of Eva. Em_PhaticGirl chased imaginary dinosaurs with Reuben, while Eva raided the toy box and I enjoyed a cuppa with Em_PhaticMum. Getting the tube home in  rush hour was possibly not my greatest ever parenting decision, but leaving Mr Buggy at home may well have been. It was cosy enough with just the four of us (Me, Roo, Eva, Scooty). But we made it home intact and well-socialised, so I call this day a WIN!

VERDICT: Not a cafe, but a very fine soft play in a lovely location

More information here (official website)

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A Bit of Shameless Self-Promotion….

2013-10-17 08.10.53I thought I’d do a little round up of things I’m involved in, just on the off-chance you are really bored this afternoon and/or have discovered the 24-hr Peppa Pig channel and would do just about anything to DROWN THIS INCESSANT NOISE OUT.

If so, here’s three things you can do. Four, if you include looking at the cute and entirely arbitrary picture of Eva dressed as Tiptoe from “Tilly and Friends” at the top. Let me know which ones you decided to do and which ones were great and which ones only just took the edge off Suzy Sheep singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” for the fourth time today.

1) You can vote for me in the Avis A-List Blog Awards. Voting closes on 31st Oct, so any votes are much appreciated! You can read my entry post here

2) You can read my new-ish blog, based on old-ish events. It’s my life before kids, trying to vaguely shepherd about someone else’s kids every so often. There’s a lot of bribery and bodily fluids, and very soon I’m going to publish the story of When We Took Beth and Owen to Spain aka How Much Sugar Can Two Pre-Teens Really Eat? It’ll be fun.

3) You can “like” the Facebook page for Women Work Out – the people I do Mums and Buggies exercise with every week in the park. The website is coming soon, with copy written by me, but it’s worth having a look at the Facebook page if you’re in the South London area and like socialising and drinking coffee working out. I’ve met some great people through the class, including H’sMama, MagicalMumma and Zee’sMa, plus some others that don’t have blog names yet…

Has that helped? Or does Peppa still have the hiccups. Look, here’s another cute photo to cheer you up…

2013-10-12 13.57.36I have no idea what’s going on here. Answers on a postcard?

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Deli Nene, Beckenham – 19/10/13

20131019_123217Hello, all you cave-dwelling hermits! Yes, I’m addressing you, the people who just have crawled out of the cave for the first time since 1968 and have just discovered this thing we call The Internet. Because you are probably the only people I haven’t yet bored stupid with my quest to find London’s Most Toddler-Friendly Cafe. So, I hope you catch up with the cafes I’ve gone to so far, and the world in general…cause a lot has changed in the last 45 years. Did you know you can order pizza online now? And there are loads of videos of dogs falling into swimming pools. It’s amazing.

To those already up to speed – today, my quest took me to Beckenham. Neighbour of Bromley, often confused with Bexleyheath and place about which I knew very little. Now I know a little more. And one of the things I know is that it’s home to two places with similar names  – Deli Nene and Nene Restaurant. You may encounter similar difficulties if you visit Beckenhem. They are both on the High Street, but the High Street is a very long and twisty road. There is much potential for confusion. We eventually stumbled on Del Nene more by luck than Google Maps, and a quick glance at the play area at the back reassured me we had found the place that LWAT reader Helen had recommended.

20131019_123223It’s designed to accommodate kids. The play area is the size of a bedroom, and so lots of space to let off steam. There’s a kids menu with pasta, pizza and toasties and lots of highchairs. The cafe is organised into three sections – a small front bit with a counter, the middle bit with shelves full of child-friendly deli goods and a back room, with tables and the play area. That effectively means that all the parents go into the back room and let the childless folk enjoy their coffee in peace at the front. There’s a ramp down to the back room, for easy buggy access and, of course, baby changing facilities.

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Roo’s favourite thing was this play tent, into which he disappeared for a long time with some cuddly vegetables and a little girl called Evie. I have no idea what they were doing in there, but there were no tears so it must have been OK.

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Eva’s favourite bit was a cuddly Macca Pacca and an Ernie that played electric guitar:

20131019_134915Service was very quick, and our toasties and smoothies were tasty. So tasty that Eva nabbed my toasty off me and downed my smoothie too (she was meant to be sharing with Reuben but these things never quite work out). The kids both appreciated their pastas, though the portions were big enough that I could have split one between the two of them.

20131019_133138So, they played a bit, ate lunch, played a bit more, came back for cake, played some more. We nabbed the table right next to the play area so could just sit there and watch them. And eat apple pie and honey layer cake:

20131019_132858Cause it’s a cafe you can’t really stay there all afternoon – they really need to keep tables turning over and it really filled up around 1:30 when it started raining outside. We’d spotted people in costume giving out balloons as part of the Beckenham Heritage Trail, and when we got back to the car we discovered that it was all part of a bigger festival thing.

There was a ferris wheel, a carousel and someone called Dave doing cowboy tricks on a real horse:

20131019_140557At one point, they asked for volunteers to help with the “shooting”. Reuben stuck his hand up very high, but we were relieved when the compère deemed him a  bit too small to take part. The demonstration involved small children holding up balloons on metal stakes and staying very still while Dave the Cowboy rode round and shot the balloons. I can’t imagine Reuben staying still long enough to have a balloon shot off a pole and it’s highly likely he would have been trampled by an agitated horse.

We compensated him by letting him have a go on the mini carousel thing:

20131019_142109while I watched a girl band on the stage who reminded me a lot of The Pippettes. The announcer heavily implied that they were actually The Andrews Sisters but I’m pretty sure they’re a bit young to be the real Andrews Sisters…

20131019_142128Or maybe they’re just well preserved, a la Stephanie in LazyTown?

On the way home, SatNav took us a creative and imaginative route that bore no resemblance to the way we’d come, but it did mean I got to see these lovely autumn-y trees in Dulwich Village:

20131019_144948Autumn leaves always remind me of the day we got married, which was 11 years ago today, by some crazy co-incidence. How better to celebrate your anniversary than a trip to Beckenham, hey?

VERDICT: It’s says it’s child-friendly and I’m not going to argue. A great place for lunch or a snack with toddlers.

More details here (official website)

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Glass Mill Leisure Centre – 16/10/13

2013-10-16 10.14.40Sorry there hasn’t been a lot of action on the blog lately. Vomiting bug stopped play. Last week was meant to be spent visiting toddler-friendly cafes and eating cake, but it’s hard to do that with your head in an old salad bowl. So there are still a few more places to go to before I announce the shortlist for the London’s Most Toddler-Friendly Cafe Award. But fret not, you’ll know when voting is open…

What we have done – once we were all done with the quarantine – is to visit a new swimming pool in Lewisham called the Glass Mill Leisure Centre. From the outside, it looks a bit like Elmer (see above) and inside, it’s huge and spacious and looks like a conference centre. Specifically the conference centre that Nathan works for:

2013-10-16 10.15.39Light, space, silver sofas etc… There was also a branch of the Rhubarb and Custard cafe there, which I think is the same as the new Deptford leisure centre. It looked nice but we didn’t visit because we’re on a bit of a money-saving tip and thought we could find somewhere cheaper…but more on that later.

We were there with the new Lee-dwellers Ruth and Daniel (Daniel being the younger brother of Roo’s friend Luke) and we were going for a swim, Hooray! Ruth and I used to take Luke and Roo when they were toddler age, so it was just like old times. But old times in a very new place.

For this was a seriously shiny place. So shiny we got told off for (potentially) trailing grass over the foyer with our buggies. Serious indeed. And the signs were all minimal, stylized symbols. I’m a bit over pictures without any words on them, given that I’m a few months into a rocky relationship with gmail and I still don’t know what half the buttons do. And now Yahoo! mail has decided to follow suit….but these are my issues and I’ll shush about them now. Point is, you need to do some lateral thinking to work out that a picture of two big people and two small ones indicates a family changing room. But, it does look stylish.

A few minor gripes – the showers had nowhere to hang your towel up, and the things to lock buggies up with were mainly broken. Also, the main pool was a bit cold for the toddlers but I guess we should have gone when the teaching pool was open to the public (there’s a Parent and Toddler swim at 12). Daniel was fine and happy, but Eva had just been woken up from a nap and so was a bit grouchy about being doused in lukewarm water. Other than that, it was impressive – they had what looked like a wheelchair lift into the swimming pool, and competition lanes. And it was all so very nice and new and clean! With huge lockers and warm changing rooms.

After the swim we were all hungry and went off in search of a cheap and empty place to eat. Which is how we wound up in Wimpy.

2013-10-16 11.54.09Now, along with most of the country, I haven’t set foot in a Wimpy since the 80s, before they were all closed and turned into Burger Kings. It’s bizarre. The food is the same kind of standard as McDonalds, but it’s waitress service and it comes on a plate, with a knife and fork.  And it actually was no cheaper than eating at “Rhubard and Custard”, because the prices on the window aren’t the same as the eat-in prices (presumably to cover the overheads on crockery and serving staff). Still, it was tasty enough and we got quick service and room to park the buggies because no-one else was in there. Plus, you can giggle at the dishes, which were named back in the 50s, apparently by some schoolchildren (see the sausage known as “The Big Bender”).

So, what else is there to do in Lewisham in the rain? Well, the library has a kids’ session some days but not the one we were there (and the lift to the children’s department was out of order). We ended up cruising the 99p shops, where I found some lovely owl-print wrapping paper to make some wall art for Eva’s room, and going to the Lewisham Centre for a runaround in a convenient big empty space. She enjoyed that – definitely more than she enjoyed the long trip home on the 436. Predictably, she fell asleep on our front doorstep. Toddlers, hey?

VERDICT: A nice new swimming pool, worth checking out

More details here (official website)

 

 

 

Posted in Token attempts at exercise (leisure centres) | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Tree Fu Tom Magazine – A Review

2013-10-10 13.02.12

I like surprises. Most of the time anyway. Not the kind of “bath surprises” Eva likes to leave for her brother but nice surprises, yes. And this was the nice kind of surprise. My mind has been a bit…busy of late, so I’d forgotten that a lovely PR lady was sending me some Tree Fu Tom things to review, including the newly-launched Tree Fu Tom magazine. It came while Roo was at school, and once I picked him up I told him that we had something exciting at home.  I told him he’d have to test something to see whether he liked it and decide whether other children would like it too.

Turns out he’s not the most discerning. “I like everything!” he said, before launching into a list of things he liked, including rain, lamposts, roads, pavements, dogs, cats and clouds. So if I tell you that he liked the magazine, it doesn’t seem like high praise. But he did REALLY like it. And he also liked the DVD with free Tom figurine (pictured here with Eva, presumably not actually suitable for under 3s)

2013-10-10 16.26.11So, what was in the magazine? Well, there was some counting – Reuben specifically asked “to do some maths” and wasn’t disappointed. Unlike me, when he told me he liked maths more than he liked writing. That’s a win for Daddy.

2013-10-10 16.23.07But I wasn’t disappointed with how beautifully and carefully he did the musha-themed sticker pages (part of the “Maths Adventure”). Lots of it was fairly straightforward counting, which is a bit basic for him a few weeks into Reception. But with stickers that you could stick over the ladybirds, there was the opportunity to do some adding and subtracting  in the “how many ladybirds are hidden and how many can you still see?” vein. So, his maths-desires were satisfied.

2013-10-10 16.11.47With such an active show, you’d expect some physical activities in the magazine too – and it had those. There were two spells, and quite some nose-touching and pose-making. Excuse the sight of Eva’s lunch in the background of these photos –  she’d been eating the same bite of  sandwich all afternoon. Houston, we have a toddler.

2013-10-10 16.11.24There were also three free gifts with the magazine – another Tom, a bug toy and some crayons. The toys came in useful for the Ranch Race game, even if Reuben didn’t quite get the rules and Eva kept stealing the pieces. There are also two stories, one with stickers, and you can make your own holopax as well as learning about ladybirds, colouring in and factfiles. It’s impressively low on filler and there’s some good educational content in there. Reuben really concentrated when drawing over the lines and doing the stickers:

2013-10-10 16.13.23He spent at least half an hour concentrating and we haven’t got through half the activities yet. That seems like pretty good value for money. We also watched one episode of the DVD and did some of the colouring in the colouring pack, before lining the crayons up in rainbow order:

2013-10-10 18.03.24And we still have the book to read! It was a parcel that contained literally hours of entertainment. Thanks for that! And thanks for helping me today in Treetopolis….

Posted in Facts! And facts are important! | Tagged , | 8 Comments