I seem to alternate with being very organised or being an utter procrastinator. And that goes with every aspect of my life. Annoyingly, this Christmas, I’ve been a procrastinator. I actually started looking at Christmas events and activities in early November but just couldn’t decide on anything. I still haven’t even booked a Santa’s Grotto. Eek! The thing about London, though, is that you have to book things well in advance. If you don’t, you may end up at home watching Netflix all winter (not the worst thing in the world, but boring after a while). In case any of you are like me this year, and are based in/near London, here are some fun Christmas activities that haven’t already sold out.
One of the joys of London is the never-ending choice of restaurants and cafes. There is always a cool new place to eat at. And if you like Japanese food, then you have to try Ichiba. Opened in June 2018, Ichiba is the largest Japanese foodhall in Europe. And as it is located in Westfield shopping centre, in Shepherd’s Bush, you will be able to make a day out of it. Shopping and yummy food – what a wonderful combination.
My daughter and I adore Japanese food. My son is six and I have been trying to cultivate his love of new flavours. There was a tough time in our lives where for three months he only ate toast. Dark times, people, dark times. And while Dubz won’t touch sushi, I am trying to show him that there is more than that when it comes to Japanese cuisine.
I don’t normally think about Christmas until after Thanksgiving (the fourth Thursday of November). But this year, I’m feeling festive a bit early. And I think it’s because my family and I spent the day in Leicester Square on Saturday. My daughter was at a sleepover, so Husband and I took Dubz for a fun-filled Christmassy day in central London.
We rarely get alone time with Dubz, so we were really excited about having a day with him in Leicester Square. Sadly, Dubz did not get the memo and thought it would be the perfect day to be grumpy. We spent half an hour arguing that he would be cold if he wore shorts and no coat on our outing. We then gave up, and when he went outside he realised he needed more clothing. This made us miss our train into Waterloo. At this point, we decided to start again and hope for a happier day.
Last term, in Year One, Dubz learned about space. And he loved every moment. Every day he talked to me about planets and stars and Neil Armstrong. So when we decided to visit Center Parcs in the beginning of August, we chose the Sherwood Forest location so that we could stop in Leicester to visit the National Space Centre. And we were not disappointed.
We visited the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida about six years ago. We really enjoyed it and found to be quite impressive. But our daughter found it to be a bit boring. The National Space Centre is definitely not boring. It seems to have been designed to enthuse children about our solar system and the steps we have made to explore it.
Living in London, we are surrounded by so many cool places to visit. And Spitalfields Market is one of those cool venues. It is a unique and vibrant hub of activity where you’ll find art, music, fashion and more. And this September, there is definitely more. There is a new photography exhibit, FACES of Spitalfields, from photographer Manos Fotiou.
Launching on 20th September, the FACES of Spitalfields exhibit can be viewed as you walk around the market enjoying the various stalls, shops and restaurants. The photos are of the traders, porters, management and security with each photo having a lovely bio so that you can get a better feel for the people who work at Spitalfields.
It’s a true sign of summer when my family and I head to Mayfield Lavender Farm. It provides a lovely backdrop for informal family photos. And of course the smell is unreal. But we almost did not go this year. But two weeks ago, on a Saturday morning, the power on our road went out. So we decided that a trip to the lavender farm and brunch at a cafe would ease the pain of not having any electricity.
And ease the pain it did. Mayfield Lavender is a 25 minute drive away, so we were able to enjoy some air-conditioning. At the lavender farm, we only spent 10 minutes taking photos, and then went to brunch at Fego in Banstead. We came home at 1pm hoping for electricity, but annoyingly it did not return til after 6.30pm. Still, at least we had a lovely morning, and some sweet photos to remember the day.
It can be so tough going on dates when you have young children. Besides getting a babysitter, you have to deal with the fatigue that comes with the evening. So sometimes Husband takes the day off and we have a day date. And this is what we did this week. After a lazy morning, we went to see the Han Solo film and then went to Cau to try out their new summertime menu.
We’re very lucky to have a huge array of wonderful restaurants in Kingston, and Cau is especially nice as it’s right on the river. As it was a sunny day, we sat outside, and of course we drank cocktails. One of my favourite cocktails ever is the Passionfruit Mojito, which they happen to serve at Cau. It is so delicious and refreshing that I can never just have one. Thankfully we ate lots of yummy food, so I wasn’t stumbling home.
My family and I have been to many dinosaur experiences. Many. And although Dubz isn’t obsessed with dinosaurs anymore, he still adores them. And to be honest, the rest of the family quite like them. I mean, what’s not to like?! Cool creatures that we’d normally be afraid of but are extinct so we can be fascinated without fear. And one of the newest attractions in London showcasing them is Dinosaurs in the Wild.
When we first arrived at the giant warehouse that housed Dinosaurs in the Wild, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I thought it was going to be an exhibit of animatronic dinosaurs. But I was wrong. I don’t want to give too much away (the element of surprise helps to make this such a cool experience).
My family and I were invited to Kidzania this Easter. And since Moozles and I love it, we decided to take Husband and Dubz along. And right now, in honour of WrestleMania34, there are some WWE-related activities in addition to all the regular fun stuff. So we knew Dubz would enjoy himself.
Located at Westfield in Shepherd’s Bush, Kidzania is a city (all indoors) made for children. Before arriving, you queue as if you’re at the airport. Children are given 50 Kidzos each, which they can use to spend on fun activities or save and earn more money through jobs. It’s probably one of the few times your child will want to work. Dubz started off as a policeman while Moozles worked at the library and then a hotel. Then she became a surgeon while he went to work at the Cadbury chocolate factory.
My son is in Year One, and this term they are learning about space. Dubz is constantly talking about the Milky Way galaxy, so we thought a family trip to the planetarium was in order. It turns out that London’s only planetarium is located in Greenwich (south east London). We decided to combine our visit with the National Maritime Museum, as well as sneak in a boat ride and lunch. And what a fun day it was.
If like us, you live in south west London, you may know that it’s a bit of a pain to go from west to east London. But sometimes you have to bite the bullet, especially when there’s a cool attraction that you don’t want to miss. So, after we arrived at Waterloo, we decided to take the Jubilee line to Canary Wharf, and then hop onto the DLR to Greenwich. While the latter offers lovely views to Greenwich – this ended up taking 45 minutes. It would have taken half the time if we had just taken two trains from Waterloo East. But sometimes it’s nice to take the scenic route.