London

Yo Sushi Leamington Spa

We visit my in-laws in Leamington Spa quite regularly. And we were lucky to be there last week for the opening of the new Yo! Sushi. Yo! Sushi is my daughter’s favourite restaurant. Moozles loves sushi and especially loves seeing the food come by on the conveyor belt. Her favourite sushi is the Yo! Roll (raw salmon and avocado surrounded by rice and smelt roe).

Now you might be thinking, ‘Who cares? I don’t like raw fish.’ Well, you don’t need to eat raw fish at Yo! Sushi. In fact, you don’t need to eat any fish at all. Just ask Husband (the man does not like fish, not even fish fingers!!!!). Yo! Sushi offer warm dishes such as chicken, beef, fried rice and noodles. There are even vegetarian options. Husband especially enjoyed the Beef Tataki (basically rare beef). I wish I had taken photos of the food, but everything was so yummy that nothing lasted very long.

I had brought snacks for my two-year old, Dubz. He had never tried sushi before and I thought he might share some of his father’s silly tastes. Seeing my son wolf down raw tuna and salmon — oh how it made my heart soar. Moozles better be prepared. We might have to start bringing her brother along on our sushi dates.

If you live in/nearby Leamington Spa, pop on over to Yo! Sushi for yumminess. They’re located on Livery Street. The food is delicious and the service is fantastic. And don’t worry if you have children, they have high chairs and a menu noting items that children might like.

I nabbed our free meals at Yo Sushi through a Facebook offer for Leamington customers. I wrote the post out of my own desire to let people know that Yo! Sushi rocks!
Vue Cinema

Thrifty Thursday – Kids AM at Vue Cinemas

What a treat my daughter and I had this past Saturday. The Vue Cinema at Piccadilly Circus had a little Princess Do. They treated some bloggers from the newly formed MyFamilyClub Bloggers Network to a screening of ‘Barbie: The Pearl Princess’. There were yummy cake pops (um, we might have had three), popcorn, fruit shoots and each child got a good quality wand and tiara (I’ve had enough of cheap and tatty tiaras). There was also one lady doing face painting and another doing temporary tattoos and balloon animals.

Moozles, who is almost six years old, said we were so lucky. And afterwards, when I took her out for lunch, she said that the people in the restaurant must feel ashamed that they didn’t have on princess dresses or have their faces painted. I didn’t want to disagree with her.

I had never heard of the Vue Cinemas’ KIDS AM screenings before Saturday. I didn’t realise that Vue showed kids films on Saturday and Sunday mornings (and school holiday mornings) for only £1.75. What a bargain. Moozles loves going to the cinema. But we only take her every few months as it can be so expensive. We will definitely be going again. I see that the ‘Moshi Monster’ movie is out soon. She will love that. Hopefully Moozles isn’t disappointed in the lack of cake pops and face painting on offer.
On a side note, I have watched a few Barbie movies with Moozles, and normally they are a bit boring. ‘Barbie: The Pearl Princess’ was actually good and I may or may not have shed a few tears at the end.This event was free, but the opinions expressed are completely my own.
kingston london

Moonwalk London

Four months ago, one of my mummy friends emailed me to ask if I’d like to join her on the Moonwalk London. She suggested that we walk 26 miles in the middle of the night, in our bras. I don’t know if I was more horrified at the prospect of wearing a bra in public, or walking 26 consecutive miles. Before I could reply back (telling her that she had probably emailed the wrong friend), she emailed to say that perhaps we could do the half marathon instead. Upon reflection, and after looking at the Moonwalk website, I hesitantly agreed.

If you’re not familiar with Moonwalk London, it is a nightime walk to raise money for breast cancer. Wearing the bras is a way to show solidarity as well as to raise awareness and to just have some fun. Walk the Walk organise the Moonwalk challenges (in the UK and abroad) and this year was the 20th anniversary of Moonwalk London.

Regular readers will know that I enjoy a weekly walk. But that meant walking for about an hour, maybe totalling three miles. I found my walks in Richmond Park to be more of a mental health break rather than proper exercise. But training for the Moonwalk gave me purpose. It gave me a goal. Each week I began to add extra miles. The week before the walk, I managed 12 miles in 4 1/2 hours. I felt confident, for the first time, that I could finish the Moonwalk.

Then it was time to decorate the bra. This was nerve-wracking as I don’t consider myself to be very creative. Moonwalk send an entry pack to all participants that includes a push-up bra. Regular readers will know that I don’t wear bras on a daily basis and I certainly don’t wear underwired bras. So I grabbed an old bra and used fringing to jazz it up. Thankfully my friend has a glue gun. On a side note: glue guns are fun and I now want to decorate all my clothing. But I digress.

After 12 weeks of training, last Saturday was the big night. We headed to Clapham Common, to Moonwalk City. There were entertainers, bands, face tattoos, shoulder massages and men wearing skimpy outfits. We had some dinner, enjoyed the sights and did a warm-up.

As we had stated that we could do the walk in 4-5 hours, we were placed in the blue group. I now realise that we should have said that it would take us longer (as it did), then we would have been placed in an earlier group. The blue group was second to last in leaving. This meant that we didn’t begin the walk until 11.42pm. As we had arrived at 9pm, we were feeling quite impatient to begin. But then we did.

And apart from a couple of bottlenecks, the walk went smoothly. We were drinking little and often, and did not need the toilet during the walk. This made the walk a bit quicker for us. I have heard that the people who stopped for the toilets at St. Paul’s ended up queuing for an hour. Eek. Anyway, I was surprised that I didn’t feel sleepy during the walk, but I think the Starbursts I was popping every hour helped.

We finished the Half Moon at 5.25am. My feet were hurting a bit, but I was feeling very happy and proud. We grabbed a taxi and I was home for 6am. After a shower and a peanut butter sandwich (I know, I am so American), it was time to get some sleep. It took a couple of days to recover from the all-nighter and all that walking, but it was worth it. Not only do I feel fitter than 12 weeks ago, but I have raised money for breast cancer research. Moonwalk London has been such a wonderful experience, and I plan to keep on walking (but with a shirt on).…

Hot day in London

Oh The British Heatwave

Growing up in Northern California, I was used to plenty of sunshine. But people are not so lucky in the UK. And when the weather gets hot, they go a little crazy. And by ‘a bit crazy’, I mean the lose their minds and go CRAY-ZEE. And Brits keep talking about the sun having its hat on, whatever that means.

I have previously written about some eccentricities of Brits as well offering some American-British translation, but I thought I’d focus a post on the heatwave (happening this week). If you are new to the UK, please be warned. And if you have been living in the UK for many years, as I have, you may even begin to start acting a bit heat-crazy yourself.

1. British people start stripping off. From very large men in too-small shorts walking down the road, to my kids refusing to wear clothes at home. You would think it was 40C, but it’s only 27C.

2. All meals are eaten outside. In the garden, the BBQ becomes king. Or else you have a picnic on any patch of grass you can find.

3. It’s an excuse for drinking even more alcohol than usual, preferably outside. And Brits love drinking booze in tins.

4. Gardens are turned into waterparks. Health and safety be damned.

5. All meals consist of sausages and ice cream.

6. British people will drive hours to the nearest beach. Who cares if the sand is covered in pebbles and the ocean is too cold to swim in. They’re going to the beach, dammit.

 …

kingston london

Guide to Kingston (London)

Located on the edge of London and Surrey, Kingston-upon-Thames is a lovely place to live. It is also a lovely place to visit. And if you live nearby, why not give central London a miss and visit one of the many fun attractions?

Kingston Town Centre – There is loads to do in Kington. There are restaurants, shops, soft plays (Jellybugs is our favourite), and there’s also a nice bowling alley in the Rotunda. The Kingston Museum is educational and fun.  Kingston also has a cool exhibit of falling down red phone boxes. Great for your Instagram. There are also special (free) activities for children on Thursdays during school holidays (Thumbs Up It’s Thursday), including arts and crafts sessions at the Bentalls Centre, The Rotunda as well as the Eden Centre and Cass Arts.

Boat Rides – You can take a boat along the Thames, courtesy of Turks. Turks offers free rides to children on Thursday mornings from Kingston to Hampton Court Palace. When we went, we had a wander in the garden next to Hampton Court, and then had lunch in their cafe. But you could pay for entry to Hampton Court Palace and make it a full day. Or you could let the children run around the new Magic Garden, which looks pretty cool. It is a one hour and 15-minute round trip ride from Kingston to Hampton. The boat ride was long enough to be scenic and enjoyable without being long and boring (which can be an issue with small children).

Cheap Movies – There is an Odeon cinema at the Rotunda. On weekends and school holidays, there are special ‘kids’ screenings for £2.50 each. There is no booking fee if you book online. Perfect for a rainy day.

Richmond Park – Even though it is called Richmond Park, it can be accessed through Richmond, Kingston, East Sheen and Roehampton. It is a great day out, especially if you don’t want to spend any money. Bring a picnic or else come after breakfast (the park is much busier in the afternoon so we tend to visit in the morning). There is a small playground near Kingston Gate, perfect for toddlers. There is a bigger playground, with sandpits, next to Petersham Gate. We drive up to Pembroke Lodge for the views and for afternoon tea. Isabella Plantation is perfect for letting the kids run around while exploring exotic plants and flowers.

The Rose Theatre Kingston – We are great lovers of The Rose. But besides putting on fab family shows, they also offer acting classes and workshops (and there’s a cute cafe). This Easter break, they are showing The Witches from Tuesday, 29 March until Sunday, 10 April. The Witches is based on the Roald Dahl book of the same name, and looks to be magical. In addition to this, during Thumbs Up It’s Thursday, they are offering The Witches Magical Workshop. This free workshop, aimed at ages 7-11 will involve a mix of games and acting exercises.

And if you would like to take your family to see The Witches, then why not enter my giveaway??!! As the show is sure to be scary, it is advised that children should be seven and over, and come with brave adults. The giveaway finishes on the 1st April, so you will need to be around then to tell me which day you would like to attend (the family ticket is for two adults and two children).…

London

London Museum of Water & Steam

I know I am always going on about how lucky we are in London to have access to so many wonderful museums. But it’s true. I have lived here for 14 years and I don’t think I have been to half of the museums. Though to be fair, before we had children we spent most of our time at pubs/bars and fancy restaurants. But these days we are museum-regulars. We have our favourite places, but we also enjoy going to ‘new’ museums. A couple of weeks ago we visited the London Museum of Water & Steam for the first time.

First of all, Husband and Dubz love a steam train. So they were both excited to have a ride on the Waterworks Railway (which run every weekend). But first, we explored the inside of the museum. We learned the history of London’s water supply (which I promise is more interesting than it sounds). Moozles enjoyed the dioramas showing how houses changed over the years, and was shocked to find out how recent it has been for people to have showers and toilets inside their house. Both kids enjoyed some dressing up as a Victorian parlour maid and an engine driver, though looked miserable for the photos. Though they couldn’t hold back the smiles when Husband did his old-timey phone voice (which you will see on the vlog).

One unique feature of the London Museum of Water & Steam is that there are steam pumping engines. They run them at various times, and it is quite interesting to watch in action. Moozles’ favourite part of the museum was the splash zone in the courtyard. She and Dubz loved playing with the gears, pumps and levers. Moozles did not want to stop though, and kept playing while Dubz and I rode the steam train (a few times). If you watch the vlog below, you will see us riding along and Dubz candidly exclaimed how much fun he was having. He wanted to cuddle while we rode along, and it was just one of those lovely moments I will remember for a long time.

If you’re not familiar with the London Museum of Water & Steam, it is located in Brentford, London. It opens daily from 11am to 4pm. The parking lot can only accommodate 20 cars, so you might not be able to find a space if you arrive at around midday on the weekend. But as the museum is quite small, spaces will eventually become available. There is a lovely cafe in the front of the museum, which you can use whether or not you go into the museum. A family ticket for four costs £27.45, and children four and under can go for free. There are loads of special events, like the Cornish engines, pop-up opera and visits from Peppa Pig.…

garden

The Magic Garden at Hampton Court Palace

My family and I love an outing. And there is always extra excitement when we go somewhere for the first time. After a few months of hearing how lovely The Magic Garden is at Hampton Court Palace, we finally went for a visit a few weeks ago. First of all, I should probably explain what a magic garden is. It’s not really a garden, and there isn’t technically any magic. It’s not a proper playground, but it’s more than just some artificial grass.

The Magic Garden is a play area tucked in the splendour of Hampton Court Palace’s grounds. There is a big dragon for the children to climb on, a cute tree house to climb and sandpits for them to play in. Kids can climb, slide and roll around. Moozles and Dubz spent 90 minutes of non-stop activity. Their favourite bit was sliding down the grassy hills. They did this for ages, and even managed to get Husband and me in on the sliding fun. We only managed to drag Moozles and Dubz away with the promise of lunch in the cafe and a wander in The Maze.

The Magic Garden is open from spring/Easter until the 30 October. It is open Monday through Sunday, from 10am to 5.30pm. Entry is limited to 90-120 minutes, depending on how busy it is. We spent 90 minutes on our visit, and the kids were thoroughly exhausted (have a look at the vlog below to see more of our day). Tickets cost £7 per adult, £5 per child, with children under five going in for free (the ticket also gives you entry into The Maze, which we also loved).

There is limited parking on the grounds, but there is a bigger car park across the road. Hampton Court train station is only a couple of minutes walk from the Palace. And if you live in Kingston or Richmond, you could even take a boat there. We’re trying to plan another visit before The Magic Garden closes for the winter. It is such a fun day, for the children and the grown-ups.…

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