Wednesday, 31 March 2010

5 ways to enjoy the Easter Holidays with your family in London

There are lots of exciting things across London to keep the kids busy over the Easter holidays. Here are five ideas to start you off…

1. Join an Easter Egg Hunt
Various locations, Easter weekend.

There are hundreds of Easter Egg Hunts across the capital on Easter weekend, including hunts at London Zoo and at the lovely Battersea Children's Zoo where children can follow the clues to find eggs hiding amongst the animals. At the Imperial War Museum (free) there is a great chocolatey incentive for children to explore the museum, and if the weather is cooperating, Kenwood House makes for a picturesque setting for your Easter Egg Hunt. There is also a lovely Easter Egg Hunt at Kew Gardens on Easter Sunday (9:30 am – 12:30, or til the eggs run out) which promises to be a great day out for the whole family. We are particularly egg-cited (sorry!) by the Cheeky Chick Hunt at the London Eye and the chance to win one of 10 incredible prizes, including a Standard Entertainments Annual Family Pass for four worth £400. To avoid the queues, click here to buy discount tickets for the London Eye from AttractionTix.

2. Forget eggs – hunt for rats instead!
HMS Belfast, 2-18 April 2010. Normal admission fees apply, children under 16 go free.

If you’re looking for an unusual take on an Easter Egg Hunt, climb aboard the HMS Belfast. Rats, disguised as members of the ship’s crew, have snuck on board and hidden themselves around the ship. Can you find them all?

3. Enjoy a day out with the National Trust
Various locations, Easter weekend. Prices vary.

Cadburys is sponsoring Easter Egg Hunts and plenty of exciting family activities to celebrate Easter at some magnificent National Trust Houses across the UK. Participating properties around London include Fenton House (Hampstead) and Osterley Park (Isleworth); the main event near London is at Ham House (Richmond), featuring feature magical storytelling, a play area and fun games like “nest ball”. Visit http://www.eastereggtrail.com/ for more info.

4. Zoiks! Meet Scooby Doo at Planet Hollywood
Planet Hollywood, Saturday 3 April (12.30pm-4.30pm)

Sometimes you just have to indulge in a little cheesiness to appease your inner child…. and your real children of course. To celebrate the release of “Scooby-Doo! Abracadabra Doo” on DVD, kids eating at Planet Hollywood on London’s Haymarket can treat themselves to some Scooby Snacks and little games and goodies, and even meet Scooby himself in person dog.

5. Enjoy a host of family activities on the South Bank
South Bank, London SE1, throughout April.

The South Bank is one of our absolute favourite spots in London for kids of all ages. Besides just absorbing the vibrant atmosphere and seeing some of London’s most famous landmarks, you can find world class galleries with lovely craft activities for children as young as 3, dozens of family friendly places to eat, parent-and-toddler shows at the BFI, family films at the IMAX, and free performances at the Southbank centre. It’s all incredibly buggy friendly, and a changing table is never far away! For older children, we’d recommend at visit to BFI IMAX to see “How to Train your Dragon”, a fun and wacky 3D adventure from the studio behind Shrek. Our top pick for children of all ages is a chance to explore the Topolski Century exhibition on April 3rd and draw their favourite animal.

Looking for more inspiration?

As always, you can also find plenty of great days out on our website, as well as the perfect child friendly pub or restaurant for a lovely family lunch.

Got some other favourite family spots you want to tell other mums and dads about? Leave a comment below, or write a quick review on our site…

Compiled by Sam Sanchez & Janis Curry

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

LEGOLAND Windsor goes for a Guinness World Record with Swashbuckling Pirates

Shiver me timbers! A Guinness World Record attempt took place 20th March 2010 at LEGOLAND Windsor for the “Largest Gathering of Pirates”. Hundreds of swashbucklers, buccaneers and seafaring pirates descended on the park for its opening day to officially launch the fantastic new land - Pirates Landing.

The number one family attraction was a sea of pirates with kids, parents and grandparents wearing their finest pirate costumes. Record breakers were accompanied by fighting swords and talking parrots to “AAARRRR” their way into the famous record breaking books.

Of the amazing effort, Guinness World Record spokesperson Amarilis Espinoza said; “It was a fantastic day at LEGOLAND Windsor – everyone who participated made such an effort with their pirate costumes. LEGOLAND Windsor was a sea of pirate hats, parrots, patches and peg legs.”

Sally Reynolds, Sales and Marketing Director at LEGOLAND Windsor said: “We wanted to do something extra special to launch Pirates Landing  and what better way than to bring together hundreds of LEGOLAND Windsor fans dressed up as pirates and attempt to set a new World Record.” 

Pirates Landing is a brand new attraction opening at LEGOLAND Windsor, marking the park's 15th season. Children can learn swashbuckling and seafaring skills at the Pirates Training Camp, then climb aboard the new Jolly Rocker swinging pirate ship - a huge unique LEGO Galleon - that swings to 18 metres high for the ride of their life.   For more information about LEGOLAND Windsor go to  www.legoland.co.uk/pirates or check out Legoland Windsor on ReallyKidFriendly.com to find out more about their excellent facilities for families with babies and young children.


Legoland Windsor was rated 4.5 stars (out of 5) by mums and dads. Click here to find out why!

Monday, 15 March 2010

The new Florence Nightingale Museum Opens May 12, 2010

Discover the real story of the Lady with the Lamp 

Play nurses and doctors in the brand new Florence Nightingale Museum which opens on May 12, the birth date of the Lady of the Lamp, following a £1.4million development. Located in London’s popular family destination, South Bank, the new museum tells the real story of the woman behind the legend as well as the Victorian world in which she lived.

The new Museum marks the centenary of Florence’s death with an engaging and memorable experience. Visitors travel through three pavilions which explore the famous nurse’s Victorian childhood, her time at the Crimean War and her later years as an ardent campaigner for health reform. Highlights from the collection include the writing slate she used as a child; her pet little owl Athena who travelled everywhere in her pocket; and the medicine chest she took to the battlefield. The museum also celebrates the nursing profession and explains how Florence impacted modern-day practices.

Children of all ages will love the vivid storytelling and the chance to engage all the senses:
  • Open up Florence’s trunk to discover a replica hospital sash, a bedpan, a roll of bandages and even a stump pillow used by amputees.
  • Learn how to wash your hands properly, just like a real trainee nurse.
  • Florence was a formidable campaigner. Write her a letter about an issue which means a lot to you.
  • Little ones, aged 3 to 7, can have a go at the i-spy trail or peek into the child height viewers to see cartoons.
  • 7 to 11 year olds can wear a pair of stethoscopes to enjoy the audio tour which has been especially created for this age group, whilst teenagers can listen to the adult version.
  • See the Crimean War through the eyes of six different characters, including Tolstoy. Explore photographs, sounds, maps and stories with this fun touchscreen exhibit.
  • The Museum also offers a creative programme of free arts activities. This summer’s fun is themed ‘Inventive Victorians’ and will include everything from pinhole photography to paper making.

Opening hours: Daily, 10am – 5pm FROM MAY 12TH
Address: Florence Nightingale Museum, 2 Lambeth Palace Road London SE1 7EW


Admission Prices: adult £5.80, child (under 15)/concs £4.80, family £16 (2 adults and up to 5 kids), groups of 15+ receive 10% discount if booked in advance.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Clare Byam-Cook’s Top 5 Tips on Successfully Feeding the Baby in Public

The baby is crying. You look around anxiously for somewhere to sit down and feed him. Shunning the bench at the bus stop (but don’t tell me you haven’t done it at least once!), you dash into the closest cafĂ©, order some random drink you don’t really want, hike up your top, fiddle one-handed with your new nursing bra, and try desperately to remember everything they told you about correct positioning. Yay! Got it on the first try! you think to yourself. Except with all the commotion and anxiety your milk flow just stops dead, the baby is getting frustrated, and is now flailing around yelling and attracting quite a bit of attention.

To the crumpled used breastpad which has somehow unstuck itself from your bra and is now lying stuck to the floor.

To the not-so-little roll of extra skin on your post-baby tummy.

To parts of your body you normally keep artfully clothed until the third date.

Sound familiar?

Feeding a new baby while you’re out and about can be tricky at the best of times, and for women who breastfeed, it can be incredibly stressful. That’s not to say that bottle feeding is much easier, it just that most of us aren’t (yet) comfortable with exposing our breasts to random strangers without alcohol being involved.

I had chat with Clare Byam-Cook at the recent Baby Show and asked her what new mums can do to make breastfeeding in public a more positive and private experience, and to feel confident feeding the baby (with breast or bottle) anywhere, and here’s what she had to say:

Clare Byam-Cook’s Top 5 Tips on Successfully Feeding the Baby in Public

1. If you’re breastfeeding, practice in front of the mirror at home first. You’ll quickly see how various positions, a muslin draped over the shoulder, or even just a different style of top can make all the difference. Work out an arrangement that allows you to breastfeed discreetly and comfortably, even while sitting on a hard-backed chair like you might find in a restaurant, and practice until you’re confident.

2. Choose a calm place without too many distractions or sudden noises that may distract the baby from his or her feed.

3. Find a comfortable seat in the corner, out of the way, and where your belongings will be secure while your attention is elsewhere. Make sure the baby will be as comfortable as possible as well.


4. Have a contingency plan. If you’re breastfeeding, bring a bottle just in case it goes disastrously wrong. If you’re bottle-feeding, bring a spare bottle.

5. Time your outings so that you can feed that baby at home or where you and the baby will feel most comfortable. This is easier if you have a routine in place, but even if you don’t, you can feed the baby at home and then go out immediately afterwards.

There you have it. If you’ve got any other tips to pass on to new mums, please post them below! Oh yes, and please do have a read about my experience of breastfeeding in public, our list of breastfeeding-friendly places, and remember to add your favourites to our site.

Clare Byam-Cook has over 20 years of experience as a breastfeeding specialist, and is the author of “What to expect when you’re breastfeeding… and what if you can’t”.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Top 5 Mothers Day Outings

1. Join Magic Carpet Storytelling at the National Gallery and learn some magic tricks over lunch at Smollensky's on the Strand
The National Gallery has free hands-on art workshops for 5-11 yr olds and free storytelling events for children under 5 every Sunday. Afterwards, stroll down to Smollenskys on the Strand for a fantastic Mother's Day lunch. They have a special under-7s menu, some very inventive non-alcoholic children's cocktails, and usually plenty of entertainment for the kids.

2. Escape urban stresses at baby-friendly RHS Garden Wisley
RHS Garden Wisley is a beautiful garden with lots of space to run around, glasshouses, an indoor soft play area and interactive exhibits for the children, and has excellent babycare facilities. The main cafe has a nice discreet area perfect for feeding the baby.

3. Let Mum choose her own present at Westfield
Westfield is possibly the most family friendly shopping experience ever, and has over a dozen family friendly restaurants on site. Why not let mum wander about and choose her own present while the kids have their faces painted or drive around the shops in their little kiddy cars, then meet up for a relaxing lunch?

4. Walk through Richmond Park and stop for lunch in lovely St Margaret's
Richmond Park at almost 1000 hectares (2500 acres), is the largest Royal Park in London and is home to around 650 free roaming deer.There are plenty of places to stop for a bite to eat, or you can head over to the lovely St Margaret's for a very nice meal. 

5. Enjoy family make-and-do activities at the Tate Modern and lunch at Giraffe South Bank
The Tate Modern has a dedicated family friendly zone, children's multimedia guides to the galleries, family activity trails, and on the weekend there are arts and crafts activities for children aged 3 and up. Kids eat free at the fantastic child friendly restaurant on site. You can also walk along the South Bank and stop for lunch at Giraffe or give mum an hour off to read a magazine with good coffee in those luxurious oversized armchairs at the BFI.

What have you got planned for Mother's Day? Please add your ideas below!

Emporium's Glorious 1st Birthday

Join Lucinda and Helen in celebrating Emporium's first birthday this weekend! Bring all the family and come and enjoy a truly British knees up. There will be Morris Dancers, old time music, a magician, jam tasting, book fair in aid of North London Hospice, and sewing demonstrations, all served up with gorgeous homemade cakes...

Where: Emporium Tea Rooms, North London
When: Saturday 13th March, 2-4pm

Friday, 5 March 2010

Annabel Karmel’s favourite child friendly restaurant is...


With two young children, I know all too well that there is often a huge disparity in the quality of the adult and kids meals when eating out at a restaurant or cafe. Even when you order identical meals, the children’s version is often served without any vegetables besides the thin day-old cucumber garnish, while the adult version comes with fresh vegetables or a crisp salad. To make matters worse, often the presentation is so bad and portion sizes so large and that the meal would be off-putting to anyone, let alone a fussy toddler.

I imagined that if the average mum finds children’s menus disappointing, then Annabel Karmel must be positively dismayed, so I set off to her stand at the Baby Show to find out what she looks for when eating out with the kids….

Annabel Karmel’s Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner is much loved by every mum I know, sitting dog-eared and puree-spattered in most of our kitchens. She now has an incredible array of family recipe books, covering everything from fussy eaters, finger foods and favourite family recipes to superfoods, baby purees and even some fabulous party planners. There is one common theme throughout: for Annabel Karmel, feeding children is all about cultivating a positive relationship with food.

In her books, she emphasizes the importance of good quality ingredients, taste, presentation, getting the kids involved in preparing the food, and understanding your child’s likes and dislikes.

Eating out is an extension of that – according to Annabel, you need to consider what will make the experience a positive one for your child. Toddlers really won’t want to spend more than a few minutes eating, so you’re better off somewhere with a bit of entertainment (even if it’s just colouring or face-painting) and where they are aren’t expected to sit at the table the entire time. She also looks for places with good quality food; the taste, freshness, and presentation matter to our little ones just as much (if not more) than they matter to us!

And, in case you’re wondering, Annabel Karmel’s favourite child friendly restaurant is Benihana. Her children love watching the cooks prepare fresh good quality food right at the table, and learning to eat with chopsticks.

What’s your favourite child friendly restaurant, and why?

PS - write a review (good or bad!) of any child friendly restaurant on reallykidfriendly.com & we'll pop your name in the draw to win a luxurious massage by Nicky Weston.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

UK’S FIRST JUNIOR CONSTRUCTION EXPERTS WANTED

LEGOLAND® DISCOVERY CENTRE SEEKS LOCAL CHILDREN TO GIVE NEW ATTRACTION STAMP OF APPROVAL

As the adult builders are hanging up their hard hats and the UK’s first LEGOLAND Discovery Centre is getting ready to open its doors to the public, a number of other building roles have been made available at the Centre...


Some of the most important include those on the Junior Construction Panel.


Alex Bidolak, the Master Model Builder at the Centre is looking for five children to help him with building LEGO models and to give their approval that the attraction is up to scratch.


As part of his unique role, Alex is tasked with creating new LEGO models and seasonal features at the Centre. The five lucky children will help him to decide what should be built and when, and will also be encouraged to have their say as to what other features might be added to the Centre.

Keen LEGO builders should apply online by submitting a photo and details of a LEGO model they have built with details as to why they think they have the talent to be chosen for the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Junior Construction Panel. Entrants will be judged by the 12 March 2010 so there is just over a week to get building!


Neil Crittenden, General Manager of the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre said: “Who better to advise and judge the Centre than the children who are going to be visiting and who are most knowledgeable about LEGO? We are hoping to find those who are most passionate about building and have a talent for creating new and innovative models.


“Everyone who enters the competition will get a free ticket for the Centre so all LEGO fans will be rewarded while the very best will receive an Unlimited Pass, granting them free visits to the Discovery Centre for a whole year, as well as the unique position on the Junior Construction Panel.”


Children up to the age of 16 are allowed to enter as long as they have asked their parents permission and the winners will need to be available to visit the centre w/c 15 March.


To enter, simply visit http://bit.ly/juniorlegobuilder


LEGOLAND Discovery Centre will open at Barton Square at the Trafford Centre on March 22nd 2010. It is a new and exciting concept aimed at children aged three - 12. The first of its kind in the UK, the Centre will also offer an exciting themed ride, a tour of a LEGO factory where children can help make their own LEGO brick. Plus there will be lots of opportunities to create their own models, race LEGO cars and areas for birthday parties. Tickets are available from just £6 at www.LEGOLANDDiscoveryCentre.co.uk. The new attraction will be open daily from 10am.