run out of womb

... learning how to be a mum from scratch

Thursday, 26 December 2019

Review: Dinotropolis, Bluewater




The prospect of soft play normally gives me sweaty palms. Especially on the weekend. Hot, sweaty, packed, scream-filled. No thanks. But we've just visited the brand-new Dinotropolis centre in Bluewater - it's soft play, but with a twist. It's actually really good.

What is it? A massive dinosaur-themed adventure playground, with a decent-sized area for tots (ball pond, two slides, squashy things to hurl around) and a huge expanse of twisty slides, climbing areas, soft ball-shooting machines to control, massive spacehopper-style balls to jump around - all surrounded by huge, animatronic T-rexes and more, who moved their heads, twisted around, and generally delighted kids, and, er scared my toddler!

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Sunday, 17 November 2019

Family-friendly brunch in Kensington, London

Remember what brunch was like in the pre-kids days? Leisurely, long; there'd be newspapers, steaming-hot coffee, endless courses... Relaxing... And a not-to-be-repeated for 18 years memory?!

Because even the best-behaved kids won’t sit for *that* long - and you can't even leisurely stroll around the buffet table when you've got people hanging onto your legs, begging to have yet another chocolate croissant...

Or that's what we thought, until we hit up a new family-friendly brunch at the NH Hotel in Kensington this weekend.

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Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Ten NW London Places to Take Your Kids .. That You'll Actually Enjoy Too

Soft play is the worst place to be a parent. They're stuffy, stinky, germy holes with no daylight, crappy food and worse coffee. There's only one bearable one (Ally Pally's Little Dinos, where at least you can get a great juice and it's small enough not to lose sight of the offspring you like enough to have bought to soft play). 


But as I jumped reeeally high on a trampoline yesterday whilst watching my kids racing around beaming next to me, inspo struck. Here are ten places to visit in or near NW (ish) London that aren't just about the babes - you AND your kids will enjoy them all. (And if not, tell me where's better. More days out that aren't soft play are always appreciated.)
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Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Learning to swim with Swimming Nature

I'm not the kind of parent who's always carting kids to after-school classes. Tiny man does a whole lot of activities at nursery; afterwards, he's happy playing at home or out on an adventure with me and his brother. I don't think a packed timetable is a good way to grow up. But there's one class I do think is worth the effort and investment: swimming. 

It's not only a life-saving skill, it's fun exercise, it's hours of pool-play on holiday, it's an amazing feeling to love the water. Swimming lessons are a ticket to a love of one of the best activities there is - and one you can do solo, at any age, and for as long as you like.

But when I think back to my swimming lessons as a kid, I think, ugh. I only got in the pool due to the promise of Pom-Bears afterwards. Lessons meant hanging to the side by your fingertips, waiting your turn to splash around and be told what to do by a teacher on dry land. 

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Friday, 30 August 2019

Paw Patrol Afternoon Tea at Family-Friendly Park Plaza Westminster Bridge

How do you make afternoon tea - officially the best meal of the day, given it covers cakes, biscuits, scones, more cakes, more biscuits - even better for kids? Sprinkle a bit of Paw Patrol on top of the biscuits and cakes, stir in a massive playroom packed with every Paw Patrol toy you can imagine and the Ryder-starring programme itself on a loop on a projector... And sit back and watch your tots have the time of their life!

We took the Tube to Park Plaza Westminster Bridge last week and immediately realised how family-friendly the hotel is, with posters about the kids disco that evening, the (supervised) Paw Patrol playroom available to all guests as well as afternoon tea-gobblers, amazing art installations that double up as play places for kids (like these amazing swinging face chairs) and views of Big Ben, the Thames and the Houses of Parliament. 



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Thursday, 4 July 2019

Peppa Pig World at Paultons Park: the best family theme park

“It’s the REAL PEPPA PIG!” the beam on my toddler’s face as he squealed with joy at the enormous cuddly Peppa handing out high-fives and cuddles made our 730am trafficky drive out of London to Paultons Park worth it. It’s the theme park that hosts Peppa Pig World - a paean to the pre-schooler’s porcine favourite - and our two- and four-year-olds had the “best day ever!” (I quote.) So did we. Here’s why we rate it:

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Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Review: Picnic hampers from Carluccio's

Before I became a parent I loved the occasional summer picnic: a lovingly-prepared smorgasbord of cheese and crudites and cakes and olives and... 
Then parenthood meant making picnics A LOT. Most days out involve some kind of outside lunch prep: slices of bread rapidly whacked together to form a sandwich; a bag of Babybels. Fruit that's likely to squash and/or explode en-route. A pack of crisps, if they're lucky. Shoved in a bag with a bottle of water.
The picnic has never been so unglam. And it takes a surprisingly long time to put together every time too! All the wrapping, veg chopping, fridge-ransacking.. 

So you can imagine how excited I was to check out Carluccio's brilliant picnic hampers - especially the kids' one..


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Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Foxhills: family-friendly hotel review

 
Thanks to this blog and to my day job (as a journalist at the Evening Standard, where I sometimes write travel pieces amongst other topics!), my family and I have been lucky enough to visit a lot of Britain's family-friendly hotels. We've loved the Four Seasons, Coworth Park, Calcot Manor amongst others.
But we're just back from a stay at a hotel we'd not previously heard around luxe parenting hotel chat - and it was incredible - and cost a lot less than the others on this list. So we really recommend you book a trip to Foxhills - here's why:

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Monday, 17 June 2019

Family car review: Peugeot 5008 SUV

 This is the least car-y car review you'll ever read. I don't know what a carburetor does (and spelling it wasn't easy either). I could more easily change a nappy whilst blindfolded, and handcuffed, than change a wheel. When the mechanic starts talking at the end of an MOT, I zone out at the gobbledygook and focus on hoping the final price isn't too high.

But this is a parent's car review of Peugeot's new SUV (aka Mum-Mobile) - from a mum with limited car knowledge, but with a ton of honest feedback after a week driving this seven-seater, ramming it with luggage, squeezing it into parking places to the backdrop of one screaming babe and one shouting toddler, driving it for hours on the motorway, fitting and unfitting it with car seats, and - spoiler alert - falling in love with this car. Here's why... 

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Saturday, 1 June 2019

In The Night Garden Live: a review

I have to confess I didn't have sky-high expectations before I sat in the velvet seats of the Hackney Empire to watch In The Night Garden Live. A kids' TV show (albeit one of the most popular on TV, and definitely one of tiniest man's favourites) would be jazzed up a little bit for the theatre, I reckoned, with those dum dum, dum dum dum dum duuuuum dum starting notes on repeat throughout. Nothing too exciting. My eldest's first theatre trip was to see The Tiger Who Came To Tea; I didn't have such high hopes for the plot of ITNG. 

But then the curtain lifted. The familiar tune played (and yes, it's been an ear-worm in my head ever since). And tiny man gasped. He really did. Then he waved wildly and squealed "IT'S IGGLE PIGGLE!!" (Noise doesn't matter, most of the rest of the tot audience were gasping too). 

Then there were beautiful, full-size puppets (with costumes made by the star behind the London 2012 opening and closing ceremony - seriously!) and excellent puppeteers, Avenue Q-style; there were dancing characters, plus there was a plot that had my four-year-old captivated, whilst my two-year-old just kept beaming. 

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Sunday, 27 January 2019

Winter Things to Do in London with Toddlers and Kids


Summers in London are great - endless places to go, city beaches and parks to play in, fruits to pick, playgrounds to explore. 

But Winter? It's trickier but there's still a lot of fun to have - I really hate soft play so always try to think of other places to fall back on. Here's a list of a load of great, often indoor London places to go when the weather's not all that warm...
They're all within an hour's travel from NW London, cos that's ROOW HQ and I'm not *that* adventurous. So, enough chat... Bookmark it, share it, but most of all visit them - and let me know what I've missed...
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Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Review: Family-friendly London hotel St Ermin's

A lot of luxury London hotels are so swish you feel worried about turning up with your tots: the marble, the priceless breakables, the silent lobbies with clip-clopping heels, the too-pricey restaurant when really one of the great things about going to hotel with kids is that they can tumble up to bed upstairs after a lovely dinner.... 

Luckily, we're just back from a stay at St Ermin's, a four-star hotel in Westminster, a toddler's scoot away from Big Ben, the Thames, St James' Park and the West End, where the kids couldn't have been more welcome, the food was really fantastic, and the stay was relaxing. 
Oh, and you're sleeping a few metres away from 350,000 bees, too, which was a real favourite with the kids... Read on to find out more about St Ermin's Hotel.
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