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.
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.
Every April I get new raincoats for the kids, and sometimes for Husband anid me. It rains so much in the UK that it’s essential to have light and waterproof rain gear. Unless you stay home every time it rains. But I don’t think that’s feasible. And it’s certainly a very boring way to live.
We all have Regatta winter coats (and love them), so we were eager to try out their lighter gear. The only issue is that since we received our jackets in April, there has been a record low of rain. And no rain means no need for a raincoat. We wore our jackets four or five times this spring, but only on the school run. So we were actually a bit relieved this weekend to get some rain and wear our new coats on an outing. So off to Kew Gardens we went (and ate our picnic as we walked around).
My family and I eat out at least once at the weekend. We just love restaurants. And we love trying out new places. The kids are now 10 and six, so we are no longer limited to pizzas and burgers. A couple of months ago, we tried out Maison Du Mezze in Kingston upon Thames. It’s a new-ish restaurant in the area and we were keen to expose the kids to Lebanese cuisine. And they loved it, which is always a relief when you try new food. So when Maison Du Mezze invited us to return a few weeks ago, we jumped at the chance.
Maison Du Mezze Kingston are offering an amazing deal this summer – kids eat free! For every main meal purchased, you get one free dish from the children’s menu. This is such a bargain, especially in the summer holidays when it feels like you are just throwing money around. But besides saving money, the food is utterly delicious.
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.
Last week I attended the NFL Flag Football Summer Bowl, presented by Subway®, in Chiswick. It was a great day watching kids play football and meeting some super cool NFL players. Growing up in the USA, I spent Friday nights attending high school football games and cheering for my team. Us Americans love our football, and now it’s in the UK. Hooray!
American football is the fastest growing sport in the UK. And not only are Brits watching the games, but they’ve started playing as well. Did you know that over 10,000 children in the UK have taken part in the NFL Flag programme presented by Subway®? And it’s not just boys. Flag is a mixed-gender sport, and it’s wonderful having a sport where boys and girls can play together.
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).