Author Archives: Californian Mum in London

About Californian Mum in London

Hey! I'm a California gal who moved to London in 2002 to be with my British bloke. Come read about my adventures living in London, being a Stay-At-Home-Mum, coping with a tea and cake addiction and trying to assimilate into British life. Don't know where I belong, but can't imagine living anywhere else.

Husband has been desperate to visit Portsmouth Historic Dockyard for ages. I wasn't really sure if Moozles and Dubz would enjoy a day looking at old boats, so I had been putting it off. But I thought that this summer would be the right time to have go for a visit. Dubz is now five and Moozles is nine, both at an age where they enjoy learning and don't throw that many tantrums. So a couple of weeks ago, we drove down to Portsmouth.

When I hear 'dockyard', I think of water and boats, but the thoughts aren't very exciting. I have to say that the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard was more than I was expecting. Before you arrive into the dockyard, you see the HMS Warrier 1860 looking quite grand on the water. When you enter the docks, you can choose what you want to do first. We went to the HMS Victory as we thought it would be less busy in the morning. Husband has quite a few memories of visiting the dockyard as a child and was keen to see the Victory again. So we climbed aboard and explored the ship.

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There's something about August. It's technically still summer but thoughts have turned to autumn. And that means that I've started updating our autumn/winter wardrobes. And like most mums, I make the kids' clothes the priority. Besides our favourite places, I love trying out new shops. Preferably online, as that is where I do most of my shopping. So when Angel & Rocket got in touch, I couldn't wait to see their clothes in real life.

Moozles wears a lot of casual clothes. While her brother prefers shirts and bowties, she likes baggy dresses and shorts. But I knew she would love the Imogen Tweed Blazer and the coordinating Linzi Tweed Shorts and Tights. It is smart, but not fussy or frilly. The blazer is cut extremely well, and the shorts have a waistband making it perfect for those with smaller waists. While the blazer and shorts look great together, they would also look lovely separately.

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Last week was my 42nd birthday. And while it is not traditionally thought of as a significant birthday - I think all birthdays are special. So we packed the kids off to their grandparents for a few days, and Husband and I enjoyed the sites and restaurants of London. Regular readers may remember that we spent my birthday in York last year. We had so much fun, but this year we thought we'd enjoy the capital city.

On Friday, my actual birthday, Husband booked us a table at Bob Bob Ricard. It is a Russian restaurant, elegantly decorated. Rather than normal tables, they have booths, and each booth comes with a 'Press for Champagne' button. As you can imagine, it is a popular place for Champagne-lovers. As the restaurant is quite over-the-top, I wanted some dramatic make-up. One of my nieces works at Laura Mercier at the Bentall Centre in Kingston and she booked me in for a makeover.

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We are more than halfway through the summer holidays. And while I find the first two weeks always goes smoothly, the third week gets a bit tense. And if the weather is rainy, it seems to make things worse. We're all getting a bit sick of one another, and I can't seem to get anything done. So on a day of craziness and non-stop fighting, I  booked Moozles and Dubz onto Fit For Sport.

First of all, let me be clear. My nine-year old daughter does not like holiday camps. Or actually, she doesn't like the thought of them. Moozles would rather spend the day lazing about in bed reading books or watching Netflix on the iPad. But my five year old son needs constant exercise. And truhtfully, so does my daughter, though she doesn't realise it. In fact, I think most children are happier when they've spent a lot of time walking, running and climbing around.

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I had always said that Moozles could get her ears pierced when she turned 11. It is quite an arbitrary number, but it seemed to be a popular ear-piercing age for many British children. In the past year, Moozles has been asking to get her ears pierced. And personally, I think that kids can get their ears pierced as soon as they are able to take care of them themselves. So I told her that she could get her ears pierced this summer.

I expected Moozles to get scared and change her mind, but she had her mind set on getting earrings. So on Friday, after their last swimming class of the summer, I took the kids to Claire's in Kingston-upon-Thames. Moozles picked out which earrings she wanted, and she squeezed the life out of my hand. And in under 30 seconds, she had pierced ears. Moozles is now cleaning and turning her earrings three times a day. And they should be healed in three weeks, just in time for school. It feels like quite a milestone, for her and for me. My little girl is growing up.

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Dining in London is equally difficult and easy. On one hand, you have a huge array of restaurants to choose from. On the other hand, there are a huge array of restaurants to choose from. The choice can be overwhelming. There are a few websites and apps out there that help find restaurants in London, but I've recently come across a new app with a twist. I recently booked a meal, and paid with it using Cake.

Let me be clear. I didn't bake a cake and use it to pay for my meal. Obviously that would be amazing. What I did was to download the Cake app onto my smartphone and use it when I was meeting up with a girlfriend a few weeks ago. Now booking a restaurant isn't tough, but Cake offers more than that.

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We don't go to many shows as a family. I either go with my 9-year old daughter or my husband. My son is quite fidgety and cannot sit for more than an hour. I can't tell you how many shows we've endured with me silently screaming at him to stop kicking the seat in front. So when we were invited to view The Wind in the Willows at Kew Gardens, I was excited to see a show with no proper seats.

Once you arrive at Kew Gardens (Victoria Gate), there is a 10-minute walk to the beginning of the show. We spread out our picnic blanket, and waited for the first part of the show. Husband is not a fan of sitting on the ground, so he sat at the back on a camping chair we had brought. I let the kids eat half of their sandwiches, because it is obviously very tough not to start eating lunch at 10.30am.

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Nothing kicks off a splendiferous summer like a trip to the Roald Dahl museum followed by afternoon tea with Mr Kipling. I was pretty excited to visit the museum, but then to get to eat my body weight in cakes?! It was like a dream come true. First, I must clarify that I was not being forced to eat lots of cakes. I just love Mr Kipling (especially the Viennese Whirls and Bakewell Tarts).

The Roald Dahl Museum is both educational and fun. I really enjoyed learning about Roald Dahl (Moozles had read a biography about him so was an expert, she informed me). But she loved learning how tall the various characters were, and that she was the same height as Danny. We really enjoyed seeing Roald Dahl's armchair and the place he created all of his stories. The museum has loads of interactive bits, which made it interesting for my nine year old and my five year old. There was also story-telling, dressing up and crafts. Dubz and Moozles loved the paper flowers we made.

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If you're on Instagram, you've probably seen hundreds of posts from lavender farms all across the country. June, July and early August are the best times to visit. Take some family photos or capture your outfits in a beautiful environment. And if you live in south London, Mayfield is the nearest lavender farm.

We first visited Mayfield Lavender Farm four years ago, after Moozles finished her first year of school. I was looking back at the photos from this first visit because we had our third visit today. And how my little ones have changed. They really aren't so little anymore. My two were running around, trying to stay away from bees. At one point, they were both adamant they had been stung by the bees. They hadn't. But it can be quite daunting for children to see so many bees in one place. There are loads of bees, but they mostly keep to the lavender.

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And that's a wrap on another year of school. Moozles has finished Year Four, and Dubz has finished Reception. I can't believe my little baby has finished his first year of school. He has changed so much this year. But then, there is so much change that happens in these early years. Besides all the learning, there is so much confidence that comes from attending school. Dubz has been meeting new people, trying new things, eating new food. It has been a wonderful year for him. We can't wait for Year One!

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