River Café

The River Café hardly needs an introduction. This well-known restaurant is both a celebrity hang-out and a favourite brunch locale for London families.  The prices are high, but the food is so good it’s worth it.  I once read somewhere that the best Italian food in Europe can be found at the River Café — meaning even better than Italy itself. I’m sure that made the Italians angry… and perhaps it was a generous compliment, but the food is really that good.  The restaurant is located on the Thames and has a grassy courtyard separating it from the river. On a sunny day you can sit outside and let your kids run around while you finish your meal.  Otherwise, they have paper and crayons to keep your kids entertained inside.  Perfect for family brunch on the weekend. Just make sure to book well in advance.

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French bread in LondonBattersea ParkRossopomodoro Pizza

Rossopomodoro Pizza

Sometimes you just feel like eating pizza. So easy, so tasty, so casual… and kids always love it! Rossopomodoro is a Naples-based pizza chain with three locations in London (Chelsea, Covent Garden and Notting Hill). All their ingredients come from the Napolitan region of Campania — even the water used in their pizza dough is rumoured to come from Naples! Pretty impressive for a Pizza chain. They also have highchairs and welcome children — they’re Italian after all.

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Kew GardensCarluccio’sCaramel Baby

Kew Gardens

DSC_0096When the girls asked me to write for Babyccino one of my first ideas for a post was Kew Gardens. We got to know the Royal Botanical Gardens when we moved down South and immediately became members. We now go every couple of weeks and still love it just as much — it is such a great place for kids.

Apart from being a huge space to run around with fascinating trees, flowers and plants, there is also a dedicated indoor children’s area called Climbers and Creepers. All the zones have an educational element relating to plants and their habitat and have been so cleverly thought out to cater for a really wide age group (quoted as age 3 – 9 but there are great touchy-feely bits too which are good for babies).

On the other side of the gardens is the Treetop walkway (designed by the architects of The London Eye) which is 18 metres up in the air and 200 metres around — giving you an opportunity to see the tops of the trees and those who inhabit them. At ground level there is a tunnel with an exhibit giving insight to what happens under the trees (good for any bug and creepy-crawly enthusiasts!). (more…)

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OttolenghiCarluccio’sHearts will Melt…

Battersea Park

Recumbent Bikes BatterseaWeekends are always for adventures and when we stumbled from our cosy little burrow last summer into Battersea Park we hit upon treasure. The Park is situated just south of the river between the Albert and the Chelsea Bridge. We drove and parked up at one of the many car-parks around the park. We got all of our paraphernalia out of the car: buggy, 2 children, nappy-bag … (you know the drill) and hoped that the trip was worthwhile. We were aiming for the children’s zoo that we had heard about, but before even getting there we saw a boy driving around the park lanes in a cross between a bike and a go-kart. Then we saw 5 or 6 more children come flashing past in similar vehicles — there was no way that coincidence could have situated 6 recumbent bike owners on this one park path? It turns out Battersea Park is one of only two parks in London (Dulwich being the other) where London Recumbents hires bikes, trikes, tandems and various other bike-like contraptions (hiring starts at Easter and goes through until the end of Summer). It looks like so much fun, and in fact Time Out called it “the best family biking this side of Amsterdam” — it must be good, hey Esther? (more…)

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Bushy ParkBobo KidsCaramel Baby

Bushy Park

Bushy Park is the second largest of the Royal Parks. The park and in particular the grand promenade ‘Chestnut Avenue’ that runs through the centre of it, were designed by Sir Christopher Wren (of St. Paul’s Cathedral fame) as the entrance to Hampton Court Palace (more on the palace soon).

The park is also a deer Park but has a more formal-grounds feeling to it than its neighbour Richmond Park. We love the new Pheasantry Welcome Centre, pictured, (which opened last summer) and has a great café backing onto the Woodlands Gardens (which is a section of the park closed off to dogs but great for small children, with a large duck pond and plenty of tree-stumps to climb). Another top-spot is by the car-park near The Diana Fountain, where there is a model boat pond with some very impressive boats to go and watch terrorising the ducks. (more…)

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The Polka TheatreHope for your feet…Kew Gardens

The Polka Theatre

Did I ever tell you I wanted to be an actress when I was a kid? I know, I know, it isn’t such a strange ambition but I was pretty serious and headed off to stage school when I was 11 to learn my craft. Somewhere along the way stage-fright took over and I decided a life on the stage wasn’t for me. I’m sure my kids (like me) will be big fans of the big screen but I want them to also inherit my love of stage performances too — that’s why I love the Polka Theatre in Wimbledon– a theatre which specialises in children’s productions and caters for a wide age-range (starting as young as 6 months).

The Polka is celebrating its 30th birthday this year and it is no surprise that it is still going so strong. They have a consistent high-standard of performances aimed at children and often have high-profile directors and actors involved. They also have a very good programme of stage-related workshops for slightly older children during school holidays. (more…)

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Caramel BabyBattersea ParkFrench bread in London

Richmond Park

DSC_0018Richmond Park is the largest royal park in London, covering 2,500 acres of land and has been a Royal Park since Edward I (1272 – 1307). There are around 650 deer that roam free and stand elegantly among the ferns, blending in to the landscape, which is why it is sometimes known as ‘The Deer Park’. We’re very lucky, as we live a stone’s throw away from the park and go almost daily. So I have some favourite places to mention…

We often park up at Pembroke Lodge* (a lovely canteen/tea-room which used to be the residence of our Prime Minister, Lord John Russell in 1847), and from there walk north to King Henry VIII’s mound, where on a clear day you can see 12 miles to St. Paul’s Cathedral! Or we head east across the road to the ponds. *Note: Pembroke Lodge tends to bring out freshly made (warm!) scones at around 3pm daily, served with cream and jam. There is nothing nicer than a sweet-treat after a bout of fresh air, I find. (more…)

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Bobo KidsFrench bread in LondonRossopomodoro Pizza

No tantrums here…

Tantrum hair salonMy experience with kiddie hair salons has always been the same: the place looks cool, my kids love it and sit still and happy in their seat, BUT they still manage to walk out with a less-than-stellar haircut. Too much glitz, not enough guts.

Thankfully, this is NOT the case at the new children’s hair salon, Tantrum, on the King’s Road, where I took my youngest son for his first real haircut last week. (I’ve been dreading the risk of cutting off his baby curls, so I was delaying the inevitable!)

He got a great cut, and we both left happy… curls in tact! (more…)

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River CaféNatural History MuseumKew Gardens

Bobo Kids

Bobo Kids exterior

Whether you’re starting from scratch with your baby’s nursery, or you just want to spruce up your kids’ bedroom or playroom with a few new accessories, Bobo Kids is the place. This darling little shop in London’s Chelsea Green neighborhood stocks an eclectic mix of modern, vintage and designer products for kids and babies.  Think contemporary European furniture, original art, wall stickers and vintage posters,  beautiful bed linens and cushions, etc.  Or how about the less obvious… a floor-to-ceiling canvas of a London phone booth, beautiful Petit Pan hanging fish lanterns, vintage kid’s desks and chairs, lovely wallpapers, etc.  It is truly an inspiring collection of interior design pieces.

They also have a small (but tasteful) selection of children’s clothes, shoes and toys. And, if it’s all too much to choose from, they offer an interior design service which will help you meet any design project or challenge. Makes me want to start from scratch all over again… (more…)

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Rossopomodoro PizzaCaramel BabyThe Polka Theatre

Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum

It is a marvel of a museum, a truly beautiful building with extraordinary exhibits. The Natural History Museum here in London first opened its doors in 1881, and his home to some of the most fascinating and rare objects (like the heaviest woolly mammoth tusks ever found and a skeleton of an extinct sea cow)! It is definitely one of my favorite museums in London, especially for kids.

There’s a life-sized model of a blue whale suspended from the ceiling of the large mammal exhibit and a roaring animatronic T-rex in the dinosaur exhibit. There’s also a ‘blue zone‘ of under water life, a ‘green zone‘ about the earth’s ecology, and a ‘red zone‘ about volcanoes and earthquakes. Like most museums in London, all the galleries are free to enter, except temporary exhibits. The website is very helpful, and even includes a parents’ survivial guide for tips on taking children. And the museum’s cafe is actually quite good and very kid-friendly. (more…)

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French bread in London

Poiland BreadWhen most people think of French bread, they probably think of a long, white crispy baguette — the kind you find in almost every market in France. But actually, traditional French bread is not the slender, crispy type, but rather round, dark, sourdough loaves; it wasn’t until after World War II that Parisiennes started to prefer the white bread, in opposition to the dark flour loaves they had to eat during the war.

Pierre Poilâne opened his first bread shop in Paris in 1932 selling the traditional French sourdough loaves. He baked his bread using stone-ground flour, sea salt from Guérande, and a wood-fired oven. And despite the overall trend toward white baguettes, Poilâne flourished. Today, there are two bread shops in Paris and one in London, and the bread is supplied to retailers and restaurants across Europe. (You can read the whole history here.) (more…)

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The Polka TheatreHope for your feet…River Café

Caramel Baby

Caramel Baby & Child is a lovely kids’ clothing brand that started with one small shop in South Kensington but has expanded now to 4 shops across London, a concession in Selfridges and a shop in Harrods. There is also now a shop in Japan, and one in Florence. It is, without a doubt, my most favorite English clothing brand. The clothes are beautiful without trying too hard — they aren’t too fancy or flashy, and they use such lovely colours and fabrics. They also have a fun selection of little toys and accessories, including the most darling shoes. The shops are beautiful and well worth a visit, especially the Sloane Square shop and the Notting Hill shop. (more…)

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Daylesford OrganicBroraKew Gardens

Hope for your feet…

Emma Hope Sneakers

The most comfortable sneakers I’ve ever worn? Not to mention — the coolest?? Emma Hope‘s by a long shot!! Emma Hope is one of the UK’s most prominent footwear designers.  Her range of shoes includes sneakers, boots, sandals, flats, pumps and platforms. They are designed to compliment all areas of your life from casual and business wear to evening wear and wedding shoes! And there’s even a men’s range (which my husband is way too familiar with)!

All her shoes are beautiful, well-made (in Italy), and unique. It’s worth a visit to one of her 3 London shops just to see the designs! But you can also shop or check for stockists from the new online shop. I promise — they are the best!

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Natural History MuseumPetersham NurseriesCaramel Baby