7 things we did last weekend: enjoying life with kids in London
In which we finally emerge from our Winter hibernation and hit London…
If you read Julia Cameron's creativity books (and you should – she's a creative genius and her books have had a profound effect on my life) you'll see that she talks about 'filling the well'.
It's the premise that you can't create or really live life unless you fill it with experiences to draw from.
I was reminded of this last weekend. We've been hibernating since we came back from our holidays in LA in January. And sitting under crochet blankets and duvets, enjoying Netflix matinees and maybe venturing to feed the ducks has suited us just fine.
Then last weekend we ended up with a full itinerary as, through my blog, I'd been invited on a few lovely things to do with Chiswick Boy.
I'd been working all week, but don't work Fridays (I do condensed hours – a full working week in four days). So I was really excited to catch the tail end of half term and actually spend some time doing what is meant to be my main role in life, mothering.
Getting back our London mojo
Maybe it's because there was a hint of Spring in the London air.
Maybe it's because weeks and weeks of hibernating had given us a bit of our London mojo back.
Or maybe it's just because getting out and about in London is what we're meant to be doing. But time seemed to slow down, and the three days of the weekend seemed to last a week. Just like when you're on holiday.
First on the itinerary was Rave-a-Roo, in the Ministry of Sound! I know, it's a good few years since I've been clubbing at the Ministry of Sound I can tell you. It's definitely a thing from the years BC (Before Children). Although that might change with these new parent-child clubbing events!
I was invited along with a blogger pass and will no doubt do a fuller review soon. We had a really good time, and it was worth the trek to South East London!
It was really interesting to see reams of parents dressed up in their clubbing gerar – some really cute mother and daughter rainbow tutu ensembles with day glo leg warmers. Here's where all the London parents who used to be clubbers with disposable income but now have children and nappy bags are! They should give free tickets to new mothers still reeling from the shock of the transition to motherhood!
Most of all, it was undeniably cute to see Chiswick Boy dancing to 70s funky disco. My heart did that triple somersault thing, where your chest feels like it's going to burst and you don't know whether you want to smile or cry.
I had my friend with me too (an ex really but we've remained really close friends) and being a bit of a clubber himself, he was blown over – 'this is brilliant, what a great idea. What a lot of effort they've gone to.' Although it did also stray into the comments of: 'Oooh and look at all these yummy mummies. What a great place to come to pick up if you're a single dad…'
Hmmm. I don't quite think that's the point!
Pizza and wool
Afterwards we strolled to Lower Marsh street for something to eat.
I found a wool shop I've never seen before. I knit London: shop and sanctuary for knitters.
All crocheters and knitters know that unwritten rule: no matter how big your wool stash is, you can never pass a wool shop without going in and adding to your yarn clutter!
A girl with pink hair was knitting on a sofa with a customer. I ended up with some pink, orange and yellow skeins of wool.
'Couldn't you have got some colours that matched?' my friend mumbled to me as we left. I was bemused. I thought they did!
Starving by this point we stumbled into Ecco, the pizza joint. For years I went to the Ecco near Goodge Street on Saturday mornings, to read the papers, drink coffee and eat croissants.
I know it's a chain but I've always found their pizzas, hand made to order, top notch and cheap.
Air fix models
Still meandering through Lower Marsh (don't you love a London meandering day) we found a model shop and ended up buying Chiswick Boy his first ever Airfix model.
We have a no toy gun rule in our house. So please don't ask me why I bought Chiswick Boy a model of a tank! I have no idea.
I did know that Chiswick Daddy would be salivating over it when I got home. He grew up on all that little metal figures and modelling stuff. And his eyes lit up like gems when we showed it to him.
It was really cute to see them working away at it on the carpet, like generations of fathers and sons have done before them.
The model-buying experience was only marred by tears at the counter. I reached over and paid with my card, while Chiswick Boy got upset because he'd wanted to pay with his own money. He was so sad and disappointed and my heart broke.
Why do our hearts shatter so easily with children? What are we going to do when they leave home, stay in their room for days on end, slam their doors and shout that they hate us?
To remedy the situation I took Chiswick Boy into the Foyles at Waterloo station, and pointed out that if he'd spent money on the model he wouldn't have had money to spend in here.
He found a new Barry Loser book and was happy going to the counter and buying it for himself. Of course he'd read a third of it in the shop. Reading us out of house and home 🙂 (Yes, I know that's what libraries are for!)
Swimming with sharks
I told you this was a busy weekend, right?!
On Saturday we took Chiswick Boy and his best friend to the Aquarium (or SeaLife London as it's properly known). Again, these were free tix for the purposes of a review and I will be doing a proper write up soon.
The thing I'll say is that you need to know how to handle SeaLife. Yes it's crowded, yes it's expensive, yes it's tiring. So you need to be prepared.
And all these things are offset by the joy and knowledge that children get from going round. Plus I have some great tips for making the most of your visit, which I'll share when I do my proper write up.
I was amazed at how inspired Chiswick Boy was by the different fish. And frankly I was amazed at how many fish he could identify.
'I think that's a sea worm,' I said authoritatively, looking into the tank.
'No mummy, it's actually a pike fish,' Chiswick Boy replied. 'Oooh daddy – look at these… ' and he was off.
(I'm putting some of this knowledge down to the hours he used to spend watching Octonauts haha)
The absolute best bit of the day was watching the sharks being fed. We know they would be fed at 2pm, and as that time neared you could sense the anticipation in the sharks – as they got gradually more active. The suspense was palpable.
Isn't that amazing? They must have an incredible built in body clock. (I'm waiting for a shark expert to correct me here!)
Just watching the sharks swim around their tank was immensely relaxing – there's a bench you can sit on and stare right into the tank, and we must have been there for over 40 minutes, just watching.
And do you want to know a nice bonus story?
5 nights later we were playing one of our favourite board games, Alpha Animals, where you have to go round the board alphabetically, naming different sorts of animals and landing on question spaces.
Chiswick Boy got the question 'what do sea turtles eat?'
'Ah, now you saw a video about this at the aquarium,' I said. 'Do you remember?'
'Oh yes!' Chiswick Boy said. 'Jellyfish!”
Education in action!
Going out and about is great, but we all know how important is to have some fun down time playing at home.
On Sunday morning I had great fun hanging out with Chiswick Boy in his room and doing a school for all his action figures and lego mini figures.
Believe it or not that jumbled mess of lego in the photo above is NOT random. It is a curated display and Chiswick Boy can notice if one of those bits of lego moves a milimetre or is knocked off while trying to tidy up. Kids don't like change, and Chiswick Boy can't bear anything in his room to be moved.
It reminds me of all the hours and hours I used to spend playing in my room with my Sindy house and Barbie dolls. (To be honest I've quite got my eye on one of the new curvy Barbie dolls – my birthday is in September hint hint.)
Shopping and climbing
We headed out in the afternoon to the Cruise Show at Olympia. I've been a bit obsessed by the idea of cruises since Chiswick Boy and I were kindly invited on the Norwegian Escape back in October half term.
The Cruise Show wasn't really geared towards kids though – lots of people were booking cruises and it was really busy. And with a group of adults it would have been great. But the boy was restless so we headed up to Kensington High St for some shopping.
Chiswick Boy is an amazing person to shop with! So much more patient than Chiswick Daddy. We went into the M&S changing rooms with some work dresses and cardigans (you can never have too many cardies) and I actually ended up with a lovely dress and three cardigans (ahem. You can never have too many cardies). Plus the obligatory three pack of 60 denier tights. Whoop whoop – life in the fast lane!
We had a wander around H&M too, and the pic above was taken in their kids section. My only recommendation would be that they should put this kiddie entertainment centre in the adults section! So that mums can browse while the kids (with supervising dads of course) sit down content watching The Kroods.
When you're in the kids section, you need your kids with you so you can pick something they like / that fits!
PS I've mentioned it above, but just to be crystal clear – I was given free blogger tix for Rave-A-Roo, Seaworld and the Cruise Show. All the rambling thoughts are my own, I promise!