Friday, 28 December 2012

Lambeth - What's on for the family - December 29th-30th 2012

It's a bit of a slow weekend as many people remain on holiday and places stay shut.

However, visit my blog post of things to do over the Christmas period for some ideas.

SATURDAY (29th December)

Head to the Victoria and Albert Museum to catch a performance of the Nutcracker Ballet. Or pop in for family fun at the Imagination Station. The number 345 bus will take you to South Kensington; alternatively take the train or tube to Victoria and catch the District Line.

If you don't fancy the V & A, then head to the Natural History Museum which has lots of family activities. An investigation of teeth and dinosaur diets sounds interesting!

Take a stroll through the Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park: the market and Santa land is free! Buses 2, 36 and 137 will take you there.

SUNDAY (30th December)


Pop to the Museum of London to learn about London Bones. The museum is in the Barbican which can be reached by tube or bus (133 and 35) to Liverpool Street and a ten minute walk.

If the rain stops and you fancy a family walk, then we recommend you check out the Capital Ring Walk. Section 4 is a pleasant walk between Crystal Palace and Streatham. Check out the website to download a map and directions which include facts about the area.

The buses 3, 417, 249, 432 and 322 take you into the Crystal Palace area. The walk starts at Crystal Palace Train Station.

Hope you manage to stay entertained! Have a happy new year!

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Ten things to do during the Christmas holidays 2012

Well, I'm sure the kids are still playing with their new toys  (and packaging) but if they are getting restless, here are a few suggestions:

1. Take a walk along the River Thames! The weather isn't as cold as it has been - Start at Lambeth Bridge (bus 3 will take you there) and finish at Blackfriars Bridge. (Bus 45 will take you home)

2. Get a little bit cultured! Visit the British Museum which is located at  Great Russell Street, WC1B 3DG. The number 59 bus will take you there. For those kids over 7, there is a chance to make your own secret code. For those with buggy babies or older children, take a free tour.

3. Have a swim at one of Lambeth's pools. Visit the Brixton Rec or Clapham Leisure Centre.

Swimming is hard work!

 4. Now is the time to see the Christmas lights! See them before the 5th of January!

5. Hop on the 118 bus through Streatham and Mitcham to visit Morden Park Hall! Free guided history tours at the weekend.

6. View some art! Head out to the Tate Modern! Catch the 59 or 45 bus.

Boo-boo becomes an art instillation!

7. Learn a bit of local history with a trip to the Museum of London. Visit Mr Scrooge and tell him of your Christmas complains. To get there catch 133 to Liverpool Street and walk there or catch the underground to Barbican.

8.  The animals need to be fed even over the Christmas holiday! So go take a gander at the creatures  of Vauxhall City Farm. To get to Vauxhall, catch the 88, 36 , 2 or 196 bus.

9. Jump around at Soft Play! There's lots of choice- Bertie and Boo Adventure Island in Balham, Brixton Recreation Centre's massive structure and Peckham Pulse.

10.  Hop up to the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill on the P4 bus to check out their collections including the aquarium.

Have fun!

Friday, 21 December 2012

Lambeth - What's on for the family - December 22nd-23rd 2012

I imagine many parents will be trying to sort out some last bits of shopping and making sure everything is grand for Christmas day.

So here's some things to keep the children busy:

SATURDAY (22nd December)

Need to do some shopping still for christmas goods? Here's a list of local shops selling toys. Take the kids along!


Morleys is located at 472-488 Brixton Road, SW9 8EH opposite the Underground and opens from 9:30am to 8 on Saturday, 10:30 to 5:30 on Sunday and 9am to 6pm on Christmas Eve

Diverse is located at 65 Atlantic Road, Brixton, SW9 8PU.  Their opening times are 11.00am to 6.30pm Monday to Saturday and 12.00pm to 5.00 on Sundays.

20 Storey is situated at 2A Market Row, Brixton, SW9 8LD and is open from 10:30am.

Buses through Brixton include P4, P5, 188, 196, 59, 159, 3, 133, 333, 45, 345, and 37. Alternatively you can catch the tube or the overground into the area.


Under the Greenwood Tree shop is located at 11 The Polygon, SW4 0JG and opens from10:00am to 6 on Saturday, 11:00 to 5:00 on Sunday and 9am to 4pm on Christmas Eve 

The area is served by Clapham Common tube stations and buses 37, 345, 322, 35 and 88.

Herne Hill

Tales on Moonlane is located at 25 Half Moon Lane, SE24 9JU and is open Saturday 9am to 6pm and Sunday 10:30am to 4:30pm.

Just Williams has two shops, one at 18 Half Moon Lane, Herne Hill, SE24 9HU and one at
8b Balham Hill, Balham, SW12 9EA. Both are open from Saturday 9:30am to 6pm and Sunday 10:30am to 4:30pm.

There is a farmers market at Streatham Vale this weekend from 10am to 2pm and it includes kids activities. It's located at Granton Primary School, Granton Rd, SW16 5AN, Buses 60 and 118 will take you nearest the school.

Alternatively pop up to the Southbank and head toward the London Eye to check out the Christmas Market which has 80 chalets of goodies to see!

To get to the London Eye, catch the 159, 77 and 12 or take the tube to Waterloo.

Perhaps take this evening to go and look at the Christmas lights. See our guide here.

SUNDAY (23rd December)

Need to get stuff done in the home? Then pop to the library and get out a few DVDs for the kids. Films usually cost a £1. Current offer at Brixton library is get 2 out for the price of 3!

You can find a map of Lambeth libraries here.

Another option is to take them swimming. Check out our list of reviews here. I should also mention that there are some reviews of local soft play facilities. I expect these places will be very busy!

So if you are looking for things to do at home, check out the Spit-Spot website. One of my favourite suggestions from their site is painting with condensed milk - I'm going to have to give that a go!

Hope you get everything done this weekend and have a wonderful Christmas day!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

What not to do when 40 weeks pregnant!

Let's go back in time to Feb 2012. It was week 38 of my pregnancy and there was not any real sign of the baby arriving. I was just on maternity leave, feet up relaxing and glad to be away from work. An email was sent to residents in our block asking if anyone's flat was available for filming for half a day in the following weeks.

So I sent an email saying that I was happy to let the crew in and out of the building but didn't want to let my flat be used for filming due to the fact I could have my baby at any second.

Another email came around and it seemed my name had been put forward. The location manager came to look at my flat and liked the fact it was on the ground floor. So it looked like it was on. A half day of filming in the flat...

.....except when he talked to me it had now moved to two days which I thought was do able. Not a problem. The rest of the TV people came to peruse the flat and make notes about the shots. Seems like instead of using one room, they were planning to use them all.... hmmmm.

But they had been very clear to me that they would pack up the rooms, set them up for filming, unpack and put everything back into place!

So that was fine. The location manager agreed to put us into a hotel for the night. So all was looking good - a night out from the house and we would make some money.

The Friday before the week of the shot, I got a phone call. They told me their new plan. I would leave the house on Monday, they would empty the furniture on that day, Tuesday, set it up, Wednesday film, Thursday, undress the flat, Friday, I'm back in!!!

 I phoned up the location manager and said, I couldn't do it if it was going to take that long. My baby was due on the Sunday so I didn't want to be out of the house for the week after!

So he suggested we could be back in on the Thursday and we could stay in a local hotel for the rest of the time with money thrown in for food. There was a bit of fussing about it but when I thought about it, I'd have all my hospital stuff packed, my other half with me and I'd be in a nice warm hotel room. If I  did start going into labour. it would take a good day or more so we'd either be in a hospital or a warm hotel room.

So that's what we did. Monday, 40 +1 we left the house for a hotel in Battersea and spent three nights there. We watched crap on the telly and I got to photograph 3 murals for another project I work on.

When we got back , they were just finishing putting my belongings in place. A little bit of adjusting and you would never have guessed that the whole flat contents had disappeared out of the place for the day.

 I gave birth a week later.

The TV programme that was filmed has been aired last week and it's interesting to see the shots they did. This flat makes a great set!

They used my curtains!!

Sometimes strange features in the flat are useful.

The fireplace is a TV star!

Monday, 17 December 2012

Keeping It Local Part 2: The Elusive Products.

It's been another week of shopping local and a real mix of the good and the bad. Let's take a look at what that was.

As mentioned previously, certain items were hard to find. So have I found them? The answer is no.
I had managed to get some bargain price nappies at a local store but repeating that was unlikely as shops tend to hold the small packs at a higher price. 

I hadn't located baby food and this week the problem is still there. Small retailer only tend to hold a couple of pots.So I thought maybe I should just buy a bulk order online direct from the supplier (not local but avoiding the high street). Unfortunately the cheaper brand I use have just moved their shop to Amazon. And I don't really want to be supporting them!

I continued looking for an online alternative but could only find the items at a higher cost price. Going local and keeping away from the chain stores shouldn't be a luxury experience! Still puzzling about how I could get around this, I decided I'll cheat, I'll go high street but from a retailer I like - Waitrose.

So out on my adventures, I decided to pop into the Waitrose at Clapham Junction (not really local). Did they have the baby food I want? Hell no!!! So have I bought any baby food? Apart from the random odd jar, no.

Sausages I like (chipolatas) are still elusive.  And I haven't found a bread I'm happy with. There is the option of the farmers market. I do get some bits and pieces from them but I am sometimes paying the higher end of prices.

I haven't found Bisto caramelised onion gravy, risotto rice at a non-deli price and Ready-brek or bagels. None of these items are particularly unusual but maybe for the small retailers they are a risk investment.

I noticed that many of the little shops sell the same products so if I'm looking for a certain spice, I can probably get it in at least ten local shops. I can understand why they wouldn't get in items which aren't bought by their usual clientele. To get new purchasers to come through the door, big businesses have to do huge advertising campaigns. It would be hard for a little store to tell customers that they provide a new service.

Another problem for me exploring these little shops is I have a pushchair and many of these spaces are not buggy friendly so I look at what I can see from the outside, make a presumption about the shops contents and either visit or not.

On a better note, I've been using my Brixton pounds. They have been great to use for gifts and food so visits to 20 Storey and Morleys have helped sort out my Christmas presents. I'm not sure how many people know you can use your note in Morleys as the staff had to check with supervisors both times that I went shopping which suggest the use of the Brixton pound doesn't happen to often (or I got christmas temps both times).

I also had food in the village using both my paper notes and pay by text. I haven't tried getting my more regular shopping with the pounds and I can't see a hairdressers I would use which takes the notes...any suggestions welcome. 

So there we are. The frustrations remain the same. Next time, I'll talk a bit more about pricing.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Lambeth - What's on for the family - December 15th-16th 2012

Oh my! December is going past too quickly. Is your tree up? Have you sorted out the Christmas food? Are all the pressies bought?

Not sure I can say yes to any of those. Anyway, lets crack on with what's on this weekend!

SATURDAY (15th December)

Tis the season to hold fetes so first up is a Christmas Bazaar at the Coin Street Neighborhood Centre (108 Stamford Street, SE1) from 12pm to 3pm. There will be craft stalls, festive singing and Father Christmas will be there. It's £2 in advance for kids and £3 on the door (adults go free). Tickets include a gift from Santa. Money raised will go to new outdoor play equipment!

To get there, catch the 59 to Waterloo. Get off by the Imax. Stamford Street is off the roundabout.

Staying festive, do you want to sing some carols? Then head to the Brockwell Lido for a Singalong Carol Concert. Tickets are £3 for adults, £1 for 6-16 year olds and under 5s go free! It starts at 4:30 and finishes at 6pm.

Brockwell Lido is situated off Dulwich Road on the edge of Brockwell Park. Catch buses 3, 196 and 37.

Less Christmas, more winter? Then visit the Oasis Nature Garden's Winter Celebration from 11am to 3pm. Buy pressies, drink spiced apple juice and go on a treasure hunt!

The Oasis Nature Garden is located at Larkhall Lane, SW4 6SP. To get there, head for Stockwell. Bus 196 and P5 takes you past Larkhall Lane.

Just want to spend sometime catching up with Santa? Then hop on board the First Capital Connect Santa Special Train. Father Christmas and his elves will be travelling from Bedford to Brighton. Gifts and entertainment for the children! The southbound train calls at Blackfriars at 11.20am and London Bridge at 11.27am. Northbound, the train is scheduled to stop at London Bridge at 1.45pm and Blackfriars at 1.54pm.

To get to London Bridge station hop on the 133 or 35. To get to Blackfriars, catch the 45.

Staying by the river, head to the Southbank Centre and at 2pm, catch power-wheelchair dance troupe Rhinestone Rollers do a free performance in the Clore Ballroom. The 59 to Waterloo will take you there.

Follow the river around to Lambeth Bridge and pop into the Garden Museum for a free family event  making a snow globe. Join the morning session between 11am to 12:30pm or the afternoon session of 1:30pm to 3pm.

The nearest buses past the museum is the 3 and 344.

 SUNDAY (16th December)

Well, that was a busy Saturday so I have just a couple of things for you today.

Pop down the road to Balham which has a free ice skating rink this weekend. Located on Bedford Hill, next to Sainsbury it's open from 11am to 6pm.

Balham is served by buses 249, 315, 355 and 155. It can also be reached by the underground and the overground! 

Alternatively, take a visit to Market Row in Brixton as Seven and Casa Morita are fundraising by offering hot chocolate, mulled wine, churos and children's activities.

Buses through Brixton include P4, P5, 188, 196, 59, 159, 3, 133, 333, 45, 345, and 37. Alternatively you can catch the tube or the overground into the area. 

Don't get too cold! Have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Five Brixton Film Shorts

Tis the season to be jolly....

so I thought I'd do a list of 5 film shorts (fact or fiction) about Brixton.

1. This short is created by Stockwell School and Digital Works and is about Brixton Market:

Stall Stories- a History of Brixton Market

2.A piece about the famous Stockwell Skate Park.

Fly Like a Bird

3. Brixton has the kind of landscape that's screaming to be animated so here it is:

 Robots of Brixton

 4. Back to the market, and here's a nice little short celebrating the people who work in the smallest shops in Brixton

Niche in the market - a short film about small shops 

5. And finally Brixton has the most remaining murals created in the 1980s in the whole of London. This film talks to the artists and locals as they reflect on these pieces:

If Walls Could Speak - Brixton Murals

And as it's Christmas, I'll throw in this animation story by my sister about the threat of Nuclear War in the 1980s (featuring Brixton's famous Nuclear Dawn Mural!). Click the link!

Not the End of the World

Happy Watching!

Monday, 10 December 2012

Keeping it Local: Part 1.Where can I find the things that I need?

I've decided that for the month of December, I'm going to try and shop locally and not from high street chains. So no Tescos, Boots, Superdrug, Sainsburys, et al. I want to try and give my money back to my community and certainly not support the businesses who are willing to keep adding more supermarkets where they aren't wanted - yes Tesco, I'm talking to you!

So how's it been going? It's harder than I expected. There is no 'one hit' shopping experience. I suddenly have to develop a strategy of where to go for what items.And even when I'm finding them, I'm not always checking how much more I'm spending so I don't know how much extra going local is costing me!

One area I've had problems with is baby food and nappies. You get great deals with the high street chains so it's hard to find somewhere to get the choice and price. We have two chemists in central Brixton which aren't big chains. They don't have much baby stuff because Brixton has Boots, Superdrug, Mothercare and Tescos to supply that product at bargain prices. It would be hard for the little shops to compete and so they don't.

However, the price of the nappies from a local store were cheaper than from the high street though their turnover of these stock items in the local store must be slow as Pampers don't make nappies in these pack sizes anymore. I think that might have been a one off pot luck situation. I'll keep you posted.

And before anyone suggests the alternatives of reusable nappies and making my own food or baby led weaning, they have been considered. I don't have a washing machine so it begins to make reusables costly and time consuming. I do make my own baby food most of the time - the jars are for convenience!

Another problem had been finding an ordinary loaf of bread. Now bread isn't cheap anymore so I don't want to try all the different local packaged bread in the hope that I find something I like especially as I'm the only one eating it. I've had a pop at the posh bread from Wild Caper which was different but really a treat. I also eat lots of the pitta bread from Nour Cash and Carry. But what I'm looking is for is a bloomer - I can't go to Greggs as that is a chain so any suggestions are welcome.

And my last problem has been finding sausages. I use to be a veggie and am now a picky meat eater. I'm not that keen on the look of some of the meat I see in the market so asking another local they suggested Dombeys in Market Row which at the time I needed sausages didn't have any! So any other butchers in Brixton to recommend?

I've found this lovely film short about one of the local butchers though I won't be eating any of these items soon. 

Another part of keeping it local is using the Brixton Pound. You can pick them up in the menswear department of Morleys. I exchanged some already and used the money in the toy department of the store. I will report back on my Brixton Pound shopping in my next instalment.
Brixton Pounds (Photo:This ain't Rock'n'Roll)

We are staying local folks but it's hard work!

Friday, 7 December 2012

Lambeth - What's on for the family - December 8th-9th 2012

First week of December has already gone past. Have you done your Christmas shopping yet? I think I've sorted all the pressies out! So what's on for the weekend?

SATURDAY (8th December)

Dads, want to give mum a break? Then take the kids to child-friendly pub Manor Arms for Punch and Judy Brunch. Doors open at 10am, show starts at 11am.

Manor Arms is located at 13 Mitcham Lane, SW16, 6LQ.You can catch the 333, 201 and 57 to the pub. It is also served by Streatham overground station.

And while dad is at Manor Arms, mum can pop out to the Railway on Greyhound Lane and check out their Christmas Craft and Farmers Market from 12 to 6pm. Free Santa's grotto from 2til 3:30pm so get dad to bring the kids over for that time!

To get to the Railway, catch buses 109,118, 250 and 50. Currently the road is closed so get off on Streatham High Street.

Want to do something together as a family than head to Vauxhall City Farm Open Day. meet the animals, watch some demonstrations, visit Santa and have some mulled wine! Events run from 11am to 4pm.

The farm is located at 165 Tyers Street, SE11 5HS and can be reached by buses 2, 88 and 196. The area is also served by the Overground and Underground.

Or head over to Clapham and visit the Christmas Fun day at Under the Greenwood Tree shop. Events include storytime, writing a letter to Santa and face painting and run from 11am to 4:30pm. Some events need to be booked so call them on 020 7627 4557.

The shop is located at 11 The Polygon, SW4 0JG. The area is served by Clapham Common tube stations and buses 37, 345, 322, 35 and 88.

And finally pop to Brixton market for the  monthly Brixton Market Heritage Walk led by the Brixton Society. This is a good walk for parents with buggy babies. 
Ready for a walk around Brixton
The tour starts at 2:30pm - meet at the corner of Beehive Place and Brixton Station Road. It cost £3 each and includes a free booklet.

Buses through Brixton include P4, P5, 188, 196, 59, 159, 3, 133, 333, 45, 345, and 37. Alternatively you can catch the tube or the overground into the area.

While you're in the area, pop into the Crafty Fox market at the Dogstar, Coldharbour Lane, SW9. Open from 11am til 5pm Saturday and Sunday!

SUNDAY (9th December)

Staying Lambeth local? Then head up the hill in Brockwell Park to the Brockwell Greenhouses to build yourself some Christmas Decorations with a Difference. The workshop is from 10:30 to 12:30 and a donation of £5 is welcome.

And whilst in Herne Hill, take a look at their Sunday City and Country Farmers Market from10am to 4 pm - foods and crafts. Buses into the area include 3, 196, 322, 68 and 37.

 Happy to hop on a bus, then head to the Southbank for a Chocolate Festival. A chance to let the children nibble lots of chocolate. It runs on Sunday from 12pm to 6pm. Also check out the Christmas Market while you are down there. Travel here on the 59 or catch the Underground to Waterloo.

And finally, travel a little further to the Horniman Museum's Christmas Fayre! Do some more xmas shopping, lets the kids do some activities and listen to a choir sing carols. Head out on the P4 bus to Forest Hill.

 Happy weekend everyone!!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Christmas lights in London 2012

As a child, one of our Christmas treats was to go to the West End in the evening, see the Christmas lights and check out the shop windows. It was a magical experience and even now thinking about it gives me a warm glow.

So here's a list of some places to visit:

Regents Street and Oxford Street are always the main roads everyone heads to for the Xmas lights. They are easy to get to from Lambeth by taking buses 3 or 159 which cover both roads to some extent and the 137 which swings in from Marble Arch. Shop windows to check out will be Selfridges on Oxford Street and Hamleys and Liberty on Regent Street

As you head up towards Oxford Circus, take a detour to Carnaby Street. It's quite a good place to shop if you are looking for something different. Check out Kingly Court for lots of little retailers. A Baby on board blog has reviewed these lights already!

When you are on Regent Street, take a wander down Bond Street to view their display of christmas decorations. Whilst you are there, take a look at the shop windows as many will have some special seasonal display.
 Another place off Bond Street is South Molton Street. It is spruced up to the Christmas nines with great illuminations. Check it out and then after this I'd recommend, heading back to Bond Street and coming out on Piccadilly.

Now to check out one of my favourite stores, Fortumn and Mason - always amazing windows and if it's still open, go and visit the sweets section and the foods downstairs. Lovely!

I've also heard that another great visual treat is Hyde Park Winter Wonderland -the market and Santa land is free and a stroll at dusk or early evening is essential. You can  pop in to see Father Christmas too-that's free as well.(I'm going to ask him for a house cleaner, a flatter stomach and a better tolerence to alcohol).

Nearest buggy friendly underground exit is Green Park. Buses into the area are 2, 159, 148, 436 and 137.

Another area for lights and windows is Knightsbridge. Harrods and Harvey Nichols always have fantastic windows - these visuals really stir the imagination.

To get there, you can catch 137 from Streatham. The area is also served by the underground.

So go take a look and find some Christmas magic!! and Boo-boo have only seen the Brixton Christmas Windmill!

Boo-boo slept though all the excitement!

Little Lambeth Meetup : Monday December 10th 2012 and Friday January 25th 2013

Hey all!

Want to meet other local parents? Then come and eat cake and drink coffee with us at the Teahouse Theatre in Vauxhall! (Chosen especially because it very kiddy friendly!)


Monday 10th December 2012 - 11am
Friday 25th January 2013 -11am

The Tea House Theatre is located at:

139 Vauxhall Walk
Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens
SE11 5HL

To get there catch a 2, 88 or 196. The area is also served by the overground and underground.

Other things to do in the area, include visit Vauxhall City Farm, pop over to the Tate Britain and browse more cake at the Vauxhall Park Cafe.

Monday, 3 December 2012

A visit to Hampstead Heath (or What I did at the weekend)

When I start thinking about traveling from my area, Brixton, I think about the places that are easy to get to and not the ones that will take an hour or more with lots of changes on the underground and buses. So I had written off  the idea of popping to Hampstead Heath for the weekend.

How wrong was I? Using the Thameslink, it's pretty easy to get there. In fact the journey between  Herne Hill and West Hampstead station is 30 minutes- yes you heard me correctly - 30 mins!! North London here I come!!!

So lets start at the beginning, the other Sunday we decided to enjoy the changing shades of leaves in one of London's top tree hot spots, Hampstead Heath. From Brixton we walked to Herne Hill as this is the Station with a lift that takes us swiftly north of the river. On our travels we took the opportunity to peruse the new Herne Hill market -it's a goody - lots of foods and crafts, well worth a visit. Boo-boo even met a dinosaur (and was pretty unimpressed).

The dinosaur was terrified of Princess Boo-boo of Brixton.

After having a nose, we headed off to the station, up the lifts and waited for the next Thameslink train. Now this train isn't the best for buggies - the aisles aren't wide enough for you to push the buggy through so you need to find a seat where you got on. The back carriage tends to have seats along the side rather than facing forwards or backwards which does leave room for the buggy.

So quickly we travelled through London zipping through the south, the city and then into the north. We decided for the West Hampstead stop as the station has a lift and a bus would take us to the Heath. However, I didn't read my bus map properly and we ended up at the bottom of the Heath with a big hill ahead of us. But the sun was shining so with determination we trundled up the hill, stopping at the top to take in the breathtaking view of London although this wasn't really a moment for quiet contemplation as there was about a hundred people up there all doing the same thing.

Golden leaves
 On we ambled through the red, brown orange and gold leaves laid on the path to lead us to warmer pastures of cakes and hot coffees. Yes, we were heading to Hampstead via the trees and plants, listed buildings, little cottages and old churchyard.

Autumn Reflection

Upon arrival we had a look at the shops - the place was heaving and the tea shops were full! However a poor consolation was the fact that the place with the best looking cakes wasn't buggy friendly anyway. We need a babysitter too visit that cake shop or just wait til the child grows up!

Boo-boo enjoys the art
After a hot beverage and a sugary snack we found an art exhibition located in a local church. So we had a wander, took some photos and generally enjoyed what felt like a grown up experience. Then slowly we pottered back to West Hampstead Station as the sun set on our little adventure. All in all, it was a lovely day - great views, sugary snacks and a swift and pleasant journey across into the North of London.

The Thameslink (First Capital Connect) train from Herne Hill to West Hampstead cost £1.80 each way with pay as you go Oyster card. The journey takes 30 minutes.

From West Hampstead take the C11 to Gospel Oak where you will get off at the bottom of the Heath - there is a cafe and toilets near by.

Go visit!

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Lambeth - What's on for the family - December 1st-2nd 2012

Woo hoo! December is here! Time to decorate trees, eat mince pies, visit Santa, sup mulled wine and sing along to bad Xmas tracks and glorious Christmas carols

SATURDAY (1st December)

Pinch punch, first day of the month and no returns!!

Kids don't mind the cold? Then pack them off to Saturday Morning Nature Explorers at the Brockwell Park Greenhouses. Aimed at 7 to 12 yr olds, it starts at 10am and costs £2 a child.

The Brockwell Park Greenhouses are located not far from the cafe on the top of the hill in Brockwell Park. Buses to the main park entrance at Herne Hill include  3, 196, 322, 68 and 37. You can also catch the overground to Herne Hill.

Looking for pressies? Like a bit of craft? Then head to Battersea Arts Centre, Lavender Hill, SW11 for the We Make London Christmas Fair. Parents with small children can drop them off to the Bees Knees creche and get on with their shopping!

To get to Lavender Hill, catch the 345 or 77.

Rush back from shopping and head up to West Norwood for A Festive Event of Christmas carols, children's activities and hot food and drink. The evening is located at St Lukes (that's the great big church) and runs from 4pm to 8pm.

To get to West Norwood, you can catch buses 2, 68, 315 432 and 322.  The area is also served by the overground at West Norwood Station.

SUNDAY (2nd December)

Didn't get up to West Norwood yesterday? Head up today for the West Norwood Feast which has lots of Christmassy events for the family (see link here!) Looks like lots of fun. The day starts at 10am and finishes at 4pm.

Buses and trains as mention before.

Are you closer to North Lambeth? Fancy popping to Morley Winter fair. It runs from 11:30am to 3:30pm, has family activities and free face painting!

Morley College is located at 61 Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 and can be reached by buses 159 and 59 or Lambeth North tube station.

Tired of Christmas already? Then celebrate the Pagan Roman Festival of Saturnalia at Guildhall Art Gallery today from 12pm to 4pm. There will be lantern making, shrine offering and handling Roman objects. 

The art gallery is located at Guildhall Yard (off Gresham Street), EC2V. Catch 133 to Bank and walk from there.
Boo-boo is well excited about all the things she can visit this week!
Well, that is a Christmas taster weekend! Have a good one!

Monday, 26 November 2012

Singing for the reluctant mother - A review of Tippee Toes

Having a baby is all about getting over hurdles and one of mine was singing baby songs in public. I just could not envision myself at a mother and baby group singing about stars and bobbins.

However, seeing the Boy’s glee as his father and I sang to him (largely, for some reason Kenny Rogers’ ‘The Gambler’), I realised that not going to such groups probably meant I was denying him something he would love.

So I bit the bullet and reluctantly went to a Tippee Toes class at The Dish and Spoon cafe in Nunhead.

And actually, it was fun. The class started with a welcome song aimed at each baby in the group and the Boy seemed astonished and thrilled as everyone sang his name to him. A variety of baby songs were sung, with movements and props, including the monkey who comes round for a hug, and maracas, which went straight in the mouth, of course. And Boy was open-mouthed and wide-eyed with excitement and pleasure all the way through. The leader of the class was welcoming, enthusiastic but not overbearing and it was clear that older baby-regulars adored her.

It was lovely for me too. I was initially cynical about how much babies gain from their mothers sitting around singing and jiggling them about but actually, I think there is a lot to gain, and not only for the babies. Singing songs that you remember from when you were small yourself gives you a sort of connection to your past and to your own mother, and, I felt at least, it also made me feel more secure in my own position as a mother. There is something reassuring in the idea that you are repeating the words and songs and actions that countless other mothers have before you. Somehow it gave me the sense that I was part of a longer tradition, and that was a good enough feeling to over-ride my default sense of embarrassment.

Tippee Toes runs classes around South East London. Check for locations on:

The class I attended was at the Dish and the Spoon in Nunhead:

Transport: 484, 363, and 343.


Want to know more about
singing sessions in the Lambeth area and beyond? Read the following:

Friday, 23 November 2012

Lambeth - What's on for the family - November 24th-25th 2012

Wow - end of the month already. Where has the time gone? Baby Boo-boo has just turned 9 months and I'm back to work in Jan! So lets get on and enjoy ourselves! What can we do this weekend?

SATURDAY (24th November)

In case you haven't noticed, Christmas is just around the corner and as a warm up, Brixton market has their Christmas Experience Market on Saturday from 10 am to 5pm on Station Road. This includes a big tree that needs decorating so bring the kids down with some decorations and lend a hand!

Buses through Brixton include P4, P5, 188, 196, 59, 159, 3, 133, 333, 45, 345, and 37. Alternatively you can catch the tube or the overground into the area. 

A free walks for parents with buggy babies? Yes please if it doesn't get too cold. Check out a free history walk about Great Statesmen and Women. Meet at Westminster tube at 11:30am. Visit the website to book your place!

Buses to Westminster are the 88, 159 and 3.

All this walking makes Boo-boo tired!
Want a chance to explore  the city? Then have a go at the Natural History Museum Treasure Hunt running on Saturday and Sunday. Visit up to twelve location where kids have to take a rubbing of a raised drawing which relates to a treasure at the new gallery at the museum. Each rubbing is an entry for a competition! The hunt is on between 10am to 4pm. Check out their website for instructions!

And a final reminder, it's the last week of the Charles Dickens' Exhibition at Southwark's little Cumming Museum, located on Walworth Road. The museum is open between 10am til 5pm.

To get to the museum, you can catch a 35 or 45 along the Walworth Road or go to Elephant and Castle on the 133, 155 or 415 and it's a short walk from there.

SUNDAY (25th November)

Are the family willing to brave the cold, then Sunday is Junior Dig the Park up at the Greenhouses at Brockwell Park. Help plant 60 tree in the park. The event runs between 10:30am to 12:30pm for ages 5 and older. Get out the thermals, hats, gloves, scarves and warm coats!

And then visit the Herne Hill Market afterwards for some well earned food - it stays open to 4pm. I can recommend the hot apple juice with ginger!

Buses into the area include 3, 196, 322, 68 and 37.

And finally, looking for a space indoors to explore? Then head to the Tate Britain in Pimlico (just across the river from Vauxhall!). Every weekend they run Liminal, an interactive experience with sculpture for families running between 11am to 3pm. Ask at the Information desk when you get there.

Buses to Pimlico include the 185, 436, 36, 2 and 88.

Good luck anyone who has a go at the treasure hunt! And happy weekending to the rest of you!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Soft Play in Clapham At Toddler's World

Yes, it's my next visit to Soft Play. How will Boo-boo and I have fared on this outing?

This soft play is the type that can be dismantled and put away so we were here for one of the many sessions they run during the week.  This activity is held at the very very clean and sparkly new Clapham Leisure Centre in their large sports hall. Half of it had been cordoned off and the other half filled with soft play blocks and shapes, an inflatable bouncy castle and a toddlers climbing frame all set upon soft mats so no nasty falls for the little ones!

So when we arrived there were two other children there... a little quiet for a miserable grey Monday afternoon. I presumed everyone stayed at home. Anyway, we got to it, shoes off for me, coat off for baby and headed straight into the fun! Boo-boo always looks rather baffled by it all - she isn't quite sure how to react to it but eventually she started to get excited by all the shapes and things to clamber over. At 8 and a half month and a furious sniper crawler, she is keen to roam but somehow this wasn't quite inspiring her but did suit the babies and toddlers who were able to walk and understood what to do to get the fun out of the soft play.

So we soldiered on, smiling at other children whilst Boo-boo either attempted to wave at them or suck the soft play item. We did have a sit in the bouncy castle and I got chatting to another mum who told me it can get really busy. I can imagine that and it not being much fun for the very little ones. Then the daughter got restless and it was time for us to say farewell.

Overall I found it a little underwhelming and didn't look as much fun as the one at the Rec. It was cleaner and everything brand spanking new. But they did have a man on guard to check your ticket and just keep an eye on what was going on. However it wasn't too comfortable for parents if you wanted or needed to sit down with your child.

Toddlers World is located in the Sports Hall at Clapham Leisure Centre, 141 Clapham Manor Street SW4 6DB. The sessions for the week are on everyday at 1:30pm to 3pm and extra sessions on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at 9:30am to 11am.

Entrance is £2.70 per child. For any other information, contact the centre on tel: 020 7627 7900

Buses past the leisure centre are the  88, 50, 155, 322 and 345.



 Want to know more about soft play facilities in the Lambeth area and beyond? Read the following:

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Bach to Baby - a Classical Music Experience for Parents and Babies

It came up in a discussion recently that most of the events for babies either benefit the child or the parent but rarely both. Bach to baby offers something which both baby and mum or dad can enjoy - a session of classical music.

Each month Bach to Baby creates a theme for it's choice of music. It then plays at different venues around the capital. Parents attend with their children. Adults cost £10 and kids are free. The children can make all the funny sounds and noises they like, wander around freely (though not straying into the path of the musicians) and enjoy the music. Adults get to also enjoy the music whilst knowing their child isn't having to remain silent (which we know under a certain age is pretty impossible!)

They have recently started holding a Bach to Baby event in Pimlico. I went to check it out. The venue for the concert is a gorgeous old Victorian church. Coffee and tea are available at a price. Buggies are parked in an area of the church. Then you just pick a pew, sit back and enjoy the music. After an introduction to the musician and some information about the musical theme of the month, Miaomiao Yu, who set up this wonderful event, explained some of the background to each piece of music before it began. I sure many mums enjoyed hearing about something which stimulates the minds and isn't baby related.

The concert almost felt like it wasn't long enough. I forgot how much I loved listening to live classical music. The baby loved it and banged along to the songs before sleeping though a bit of Gershwin and a rousing version of America!

Bach to baby is held at different venues across the London. One concert is at Clapham and two others are nearby at Dulwich and Pimlico. Concerts are an hour long including nursery rhymes at the end. The concerts usually start at 10:30am. For more information about these concerts, visit the Bach to Baby website.

I recommend everyone do this at least once during their maternity leave!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Lambeth - What's on for the family - November 17th-18th 2012

We are now heading into the Christmas Season. Mid-November marks the point where we might have to actually start thinking about turkey, Christmas crackers and presents for the family. But lets put that off for the moment. So what can we do this weekend?

SATURDAY (17th November)

First up, a parents and buggy event - yes it's a free guided walk (called the CoolTan Arts' Largactyl Shuffle). Their walk is designed to encourage mental and physical wellbeing, through art, exercise, humour and history. This month''s theme is William Blake. The walk starts at 12pm at the Tate Modern and the walk leaders will be wearing high-viz vests. Contact them on the day 07985 658443 if you can't find them.

If you get up to the Tate modern earlier, you can always pop into their Under Fives Zone - a chance for the really little kids to explore art. Saturday opening for the Tate is 10am to 10pm.

Boo-boo becomes an art piece at the Tate!
To get to the Tate Modern on bus, the 45 which passes through Brixton stops at Blackfriars Bridge Road. Alternatively, there is always the tube to Southwark.

Whilst on my preambulations, I was handed a leaflet for the Young Socialists Autumn Fayre. Asides, from bric-a-brac, tombola and raffles, it includes the essentials for kids - a bouncy castle and face painting! The event is at Lambeth College, Brixton Centre at 56 Brixton Hill, SW2 1QS and starts at 12pm!

Buses through Brixton include P4, P5, 188, 196, 59, 159, 3, 133, 333, 45, 345, and 37. Alternatively you can catch the tube or the overground into the area.

Looking for nearly new kids items and christmas crafts? Then visit the Table Sale held  at St Margaret's Church, Barcombe Avenue, SW2 between 2.30-4.30pm. Organised by local Mums to sell their great quality stuff to other local parents. Let the kids root around for some new toys at bargain prices!

Buses to Streatham Hill include 159, 133, 137, 109, 118 and 59.

Fancy a self led Saturday stroll? Then we recommend you check out the Capital Ring Walk - A route going through the greenery of London. Section 4 is a pleasant walk between Crystal Palace and Streatham. Check out the website to download a map and directions which include facts about the area.

The buses 3, 417, 249, 432 and 322 take you into the Crystal Palace area. The walk starts at Crystal Palace Train Station.

SUNDAY  (18th November)

If the sun is shining, take an opportunity to learn a bit about the plants on Brockwell Park and have a bit of a forage. The Brockwell Park Community Greenhouses are running a Family Foraging Walk from 2pm at the greenhouses. There is a suggested donation of £2.50 per child. Contact Beth on 07427 685714.

Brockwell park  can be reached by bus route 2, 3, 68, 37 and 196 as well as the overground at Herne Hill.

Happy to go a little further afield, then pop up to the London Eye to visit the Christmas Market which will be on from this weekend to Christmas Eve. Opening times are 10am to 10pm. This German style market has over 80 chalets selling gifts and food with two designed especially with children in mind. There will be a free choir performance at 1:30pm and 7:00pm to put you in the Christmas Spirit,

To get to the London Eye, catch the 159, 77 and 12 or take the tube to Waterloo.

And finally, want to travel even further? Than head to the Victoria and Albert (V &A) Museum. As the days get colder, this is a day out with lots to see and do and it's indoors!. The V & A offers  family packs for children to help navigate and enjoy the collections, including a pack for the under-fives. Pick these up at the main entrance.

The V& A museum is located in South Kensington which can be reached by the underground or bus 345.

Have a wonderful weekend! May it be full of smiles!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Soft play in Balham at Bertie and Boo Adventure Island

I have decided to venture further afield and see what is out there for the little one. I enjoy the bus journey, getting out of the house and seeing new things. This time the destination is Balham! A trip to visit Bertie and Boo Adventure Island.

It's easy to find as it is on the main road through Balham. As you approach you get a sense of it's popularity as mums and buggies storm pass you. Upon entering you are greeted by a sea of pushchairs, and lots of mums with toddlers all bouncing around the place. It's a little bit crazy!

Children under 18 months old get in for free however this means they get to play in a very small baby space outside the main soft play area (I understand they plan to expand this space). There was some soft mats and balls, shapes and a machine which blew air and kept the balls floating which amused the babies. However this little space wasn't a haven of peace for the babies as the toddlers would finish a play session, run into the baby section and go crazy!! It was like a baby mosh pit!

So I didn't stay long. The bigger space looks great. It has timed hourly session for £2.50 and all day tickets for £3.90 all day (just makes me tired thinking about it). They also do weekly events such as drama club and magical story of the week - these cost extra and include use of the soft play facilities. More information can be found on their website. If Balham is local to you (yes I'm talking to the Streatham/Clapham parents) then it's definitely worth a visit. I look forward to going back when my daughter is a bit older!

Bertie and Boo Adventure Island is located at 205-207 Balham High Road, SW17 7BQ. Opening times for soft play are:

Mon to Fri:         9:00am to 5:30pm
Sat:                     12:00pm to 4:00pm
Sun:                    9:00am to 12:00pm.

And while we were in the area we decided to visit the Bertie and Boo Coffee shop which is near Waitrose.
Boo-boo wants to know where her cake is!

This is a great spot to take a break with the kids, high chairs available, good baby friendly toilets, cakes for mums and food for the little ones. Really worth a visit if you are in the area!

The coffee shop is located at 162 Balham High Road, Balham, SW12 9BW. Opening times are

Mon:7:30 am - 6:00 pm
Tue - Fri:  7:30 am - 7:00 pm
Sat - Sun:    8:00am  - 3:00pm

Balham is served by buses 249, 315, 355 and 155. It can also be reached by the underground and the overground!


Want to know more about soft play facilities in the Lambeth area and beyond? Read the following:

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Lambeth - What's on for the family - November 10th-11th 2012

Well, Christmas is well on the way. Halloween and Bonfire night have been and gone! So what's on for families this weekend?

SATURDAY (10th November) 

For parents with babies in buggies, this Saturday is the  monthly Brixton Market Heritage Walk led by the Brixton Society. Learn about the amazing history of the area. The tour starts at 2:30pm - meet at the corner of Beehive Place and Brixton Station Road. It cost £3 each and includes a free booklet.
Ready for a walk around Brixton

Buses through Brixton include P4, P5, 188, 196, 59, 159, 3, 133, 333, 45, 345, and 37. Alternatively you can catch the tube or the overground into the area.

If you have older kids and you can spare a few quid, then join your children up to the Kids Club at the Ritzy or Clapham picture house. Membership is £4. Films are on at 10:30 am in Brixton and 11:45am in Clapham. Kids and accompanying adult's entry is £1 each.

Travel through Brixton already mentioned. Buses through Clapham include the 35, 37, 322, 88, 155 and 345. Clapham Common is the nearest Tube station to the cinema.

If your little one is too young for these film clubs, then pop to your local library and check out the children’s movies on DVD. It’s £1 a film to rent for 3 days. And to make it more of a cinematic experience, cook up some popcorn and serve a juice drink with a straw!!

Happy to travel outside of the area? This Saturday, see the amazing Lord Mayor's Show, a three mile long procession through the City of London. The event starts at 11am and carries on to 2pm.

Suggestions for getting there are Thameslink trains from Herne Hill to get off at Blackfriars or  Farringdon. Or catch the tube to Bank.

Want something to exercise the brain cells? Then head out to the Festival of Geology.  Activities include handling extraordinary rocks, minerals and fossils, having a go at gem panning and casting a fossil. Events run between 10:30am to 4:30pm at UCL Main (Wilkins) Building, Gower Street, WC1E 6BT. The 59 bus will take you into the area.

 SUNDAY (11th November)

Looking for something on Sunday, then head to the Cartoon Museum to learn about 75 years of the Dandy comic. It costs £5.50 for adults but children go free. Catch the 59 bus up to Holborn to visit the museum on 35 Little Russell St, London WC1A 2HH. Sunday opening is noon to 5:30pm.

Want something to do closer to home? Then can I suggest a pleasant walk in Brockwell Park with a visit to the Community Greenhouses (open 12pm-4pm). Follow that with a slice of cake and a  hot drink at the cafe on the top of the hill or head to the Florence for a plate of chips (and a pint for mum and dad).

And whilst in Herne Hill, take a look at their Sunday Market 10am to 4 pm - foods and crafts. Buses into the area include 3, 196, 322, 68 and 37.

Ongoing events local to Lambeth  are the Charles Dickens Exhibition at the Cuming Museum or the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre in East Dulwich . More details in this October post!

Boo-boo was disappointed that there were no flashing lights.

 Head out, have fun and may your weekend be happy and good!