31 October 2018

What happened in our lives in October 2018

Every month I write these posts, and every months I have to try rack my brain into what we have actually done. It is so difficult to remember at first, but there always ends up being quite a lot. Now that I have kids I quite often stop to think what did I actually do with my time before having the little buggers. What did I actually do? Lie in bed all morning probably! 

Anyway, as always, another busy month in a family of four.

family in front of cutty sark

family in front of cutty sark

I have loved:
  • Seeing a new place in London - we visited Cutty Sark, the historical ship in Greenwich, and loved it. 
  • Seeing how much my older daughter loves her new experiences - a dance/theatre workshop, swimming school and biking.
  • Seeing how my younger daughter is so quick to grow and develop. We are looking to wean her soon, as she is now 5 months...
  • Jamie Oliver's 5 Ingredients cookbook. I don't love cooking, but I do love these recipes as they are uncomplicated and delicious, with minimal prepping. 
  • Baking Scandinavian buns and a roulade. Both were excellent. 
  • Starting to think Christmas. OK, Halloween parties and prep have been fun, and I have loved them too, but this year I want to go full out for Christmas.
  • Trying to find myself a new computer on Currys

family in front of cutty sark

Aili has loved:
  • Getting a big girl bike, with NO stabilisers!
  • Attending a Lion King theatre/dance workshop, doing the show and henceforth singing the Lion King songs every day. From morning to evening. 
  • Baby Shark song. 'Nuff said. 
  • Her swim school and getting comfortable in water. 
  • Going to Finnish Saturday school, and starting to really learn Finnish much better now.
  • Going to a Halloween party and playing with her second cousins. 
  • Planning her with costume for Halloween. I am planning on dressing her baby sister as the witches little cat...
  • Writing, and more writing. We have lots of great little notes from her, little stories and so on. 
  • Her little sister. She comes in our room early (too early) every morning to make a general racket with loud songs and reading of books, and of course telling her sister how cute she is. 

family on the deck of cutty sark

family on the deck of cutty sark

Aija has loved:
  • Her big sister. Her face just lights up when she sees her big sister. And she finds her big sisters PJ Masks dance hilarious. 
  • Gnawing at everything with her new bottom tooth.
  • Learning to crawl. Finally, near the end of the month, she has learned to crawl and now shuffles quite competently albeit slowly anywhere she wants. Usually towards some sort of a computer lead or mummy's hand bags to gnaw. 
  • Learning to sit. She loves moving around and plonking on her butt for a rest.
  • Looking at you with a perplexed look on her face, mouth open whenever you speak to her.  

Hubby has loved:  
  • Seeing the Lion King show.
  • Teaching our girl how to ride a bike. 
  • Seeing our baby girl learn so many new things all of a sudden. 
  • Visiting Greenwich, Cutty Sark and the Byron Burgers afterwards.
  • Having a parent-teacher meeting, and hearing how our little one is doing very well.  
  • When we all leave the house so he can concentrate on work ha ha. 

family on the deck of cutty sark

family on the deck of cutty sark

So that's been it. The pictures were from our trip to Cutty Sark. Other than that we have just been busy living the life of a family with young kids. There is always so much things happening, school visits to do, kiddy activities, and just general tidying there is not a moment that gets boring. 

How was your October?

You might also like: What happened in our lives in September 2018

22 October 2018

What the Cutty Sark is really like with kids

I've long loved Greenwich - it is one of those destinations I always recommend to London visitors. This time we we're invited by Royal Museums Greenwich to visit Cutty Sark, the big historic sailing ship right on the riverfront in Greenwich. It is one of those sights you can't miss when you are wandering about the area, and a gorgeous sight at that. I've long wanted to see the ship myself too so was glad to take my family along to review the Cutty Sark experience - this is what we thought of Cutty Sark!  

Please note, this post is in collaboration with Royal Museums Greenwich.

cutty sark in london

family picture

touching the hull

under the big ship cutty sark

touching cutty sark

Cutty Sark is a historic sailing ship built in 1869 - it was one of the fastest at the time, reaching speeds of about 20 miles an hour. It was used as a cargo ship for a while, first for tea from China, then for wool from Australia, until steam boats took over. Then, after 3 decades of use as a training ship, it was finally retired on a dry dock in Greenwich in 1950s. 

I loved that there was so much to learn about ship building and you could see it all with your own eyes. Some of the things we learned were that the skeleton of the ship was made out of steel. Even if it was more expensive than wood, it's less bulky, so you could fit more cargo in. And they did - some of the loads were more than £1m in today's money! You could even touch the copper hull when walking underneath the ship. I actually thought the copper was just a decorative touch, but no - it was installed to stop barnacles and others from attaching to the wood. 

There was so much for kids to learn about and try. Down below the decks there were different interactive things to touch and play with, such as a wooden play ship, a steering wheel with mechanics on show, moving seats to demonstrate what being at sea might feel like, demonstrations of cargo and so on and so on. On the decks, you could visit the living quarters of both the officers and the ordinary seamen. You could see the kitchen, carpenter's work station, the toilets and even try one of the beds if you fancy being a sailor, and much more. There were talks by Cutty Sark characters we managed to catch a bit of, and during half term also story-telling for kids. 

cutty sark shadows

cutty sark figureheads collection


chocolate cake

cutty sark hull and shadows

child and boxes

My daughter loved interacting with the exhibitions, trying the sailor beds, and pretending to be a pirate. I especially loved walking underneath the ship. It was beautiful, and you could appreciate the ship from a very unique angle, and like I mentioned, touch it too. It was also fun running around the deck, imagining what life must have been on the ship, and certainly gave my daughter much to think about. 

Other big plus from me was that nearly everything at Cutty Sark was accessible - probably about 95%. We brought a buggy with us, and could use a lift to reach all areas, except one part of the top deck. There we did the traditional parental tag teaming, so we could both see what was going on while our baby slept in her pram. I thought it was great for visitors with mobility issues as well, as you could see much of the exhibitions from the accessible deck areas, although some indoor areas (like the officer's living areas) were not possible to enter if you have difficulty mobilising.

I really think it was such a fantastic place to visit with the kids, there was lots for them to do. My 5 year old daughter said: "I loved touching the ship, being in the ship, and being on the ship. ... It was really good, I loved it". Big thumbs up from us! 

ship mast

mum and kid on cutty sark deck

cutty sark views

life boats on cutty sark

ship kitchen

officers area cutty sark

family on cutty sark

Top tips for Cutty Sark:
  • You can book tickets to Cutty Sark on their website, or walk up on the day. You can also get combined tickets with Royal Observatory.
  • Nearest DLR station is Cutty Sark - go figure ha ha! DLR is quite easy to take, and you get good views too via Canary Wharf. 
  • The other great way to get to Greenwich is to take a boat to Greenwich Pier, which is right in front of the Cutty Sark. My favourite route is from Westminster to Greenwich Pier, so you get to see all the sights on the way. 
  • Check out their events - especially around school holiday times. During half term there is story-telling for kids. There are quite a few other events after half term too. We also saw Cutty Sark characters telling stories of the ship's past which was good fun. 
  • You can take a buggy - it is nearly all accessible with the help of lifts! This is also fantastic if you have any mobility issues. Alternatively, you can leave the buggy downstairs in a buggy park and have your kid walk around. 
  • You can get a trail map for kids (great for kids of reading age), or ask for a backpack with toys and stories (possible good for the younger guests). 
  • The experience takes about one to two and a half hours. We took our time and sat down for quick drinks, so we were there well over two hours. 
  • You can have an afternoon tea, if you book 3 days ahead - looks like a lovely experience! For food, there is a small cafe at Cutty Sark, and if you want a bigger meal, right outside on the riverfront there are a few family friendly restaurants. We visited Byron Burgers on the day. 
  • Have a chat with the attendants - they are very knowledgeable and helpful. We had some great chats with them and learned a lot about the ship's past! 
  • Fab for a rainy day visit as well - it will just add to the feeling of being at sea! And there are plenty of indoor areas to shelter in. 

Review and top tips for visiting Cutty Sark with kids. A historic ship in Greenwich London, and a great place for kids to experience and learn about.

Have you been to Greenwich? What would you recommend there?

17 October 2018

How to make weaning easy and fun: The HiPP way

I can not believe it is nearly time to start weaning my little baby in a couple of months. This time, we are doing it the HiPP way, with the help of the fantastic weaning hamper we were sent. Here are some of my top tips on making weaning easy and fun, that is, feeling HiPP! It's all about feeling confident in yourself and not stressing about it, just have fun with experiencing new things with your baby.  If you want to join the fun, you can win a similar weaning hamper too, just check the end of the post.

Please note, this post is sponsored by HiPP Organic.

baby gnawing on toy

Last time I weaned was five years ago, yikes, it's been a long time. Back then we bought a lot of HiPP Organic as I loved their environmental and organic ethos. I loved there were no added preservatives or colours, it was just pure food, something I might make in my kitchen, except of course a lot quicker and more convenient as I could just pick it up in the supermarket. This time, we are going right back to feeling HiPP and confident again!

Our weaning journey is due to start soon. In preparation I have checked the latest weaning advice, and will also use some of the experience I had with my first child to make the process as easy and fun as possible. HiPP Organic has written a handy guide for these signs I will be keeping my eye out for. Some of the signs include being able to sit unaided and being able to coordinate eye-hand-mouth movement well - and once I feel confident these happen, will try some foods on her then.

hipp weaning products

How to make it fun: 
  • Start with savoury vegetables. Babies are accustomed to sweet things (their milk is super sweet!) so their taste buds are in for an early and interesting surprise. HiPP Organic has many savoury jars suitable for early tasting - I'm liking the sound of the Tasty Vegetable Risotto for example.  
  • Remember to charge your camera and capture those great first expressions after tasting their first savoury foods - it is bound to be fantastic!
  • Try to relax and feel confident about the weaning journey. Most of their diet is still going to be milk so focus on offering different taste sensations rather than quantity. If they refuse their food, again, breathe deeply and just try the next day again. Have fun exploring new things together. 
  • Where possible, let them try to hold the spoon too, at least for a bit. Dip them in purees, and let them taste it themselves. It's messy but never mind - it is a fun learning experience for them.
  • Offer babies some finger foods - small pieces of soft banana or a well-cooked broccoli works well. With my first daughter we started off with rice cakes as they are easy to hold and dissolve in mouth. 
  • Baby rice is easy on their tummies, and you can mix it with their usual milk, making it a very familiar taste for babies. 

baby gnawing on a spoon

baby and weaning products

How to make it easy:
  • There are so many different varieties and combinations of flavours available from HiPP Organic - pick up a few, and mix and match them! I found it so easy to pick up a few pouches and jars. Sometimes I would offer a single flavour and sometimes mixed. 
  • Once you start them off with simple purees, start increasing a mix of flavours. I found it quite good fun to make some simple purees myself, and then pick up from the supermarket the more complex, or the ones that I could not bother to faff with! I might make something like an avocado mash myself, and then pick up a HiPP Organic jar of a more interesting recipe, such as Tasty Vegetable Risotto or My First Sunday Dinner.  
  • In the interest of making it easier for you and your baby in the future, start them on lumpier textures as soon as they are used to purees. You don't want them to be too accustomed to silky smooth textures (like it turned out with our very picky first-born...). 
  • In a rush to go out somewhere fun? Pick up a jar to take with you, or even pick it up on the way. You can spoon out what you need, and save the rest for later. Glass jars are also recyclable.  

It's a fun journey to take with your little one, and just reminds you how quickly they grow. Soon they will be joining you at the dinner table and sharing the same meals, and you'll learn their likes and dislikes.

baby looking at weaning products

Our weaning hamper includes a variety of sweet and savoury jars of various textures, a few pouches, baby rice and cereal, setting us well up for the start of the weaning journey. Another fun thing is also that you can Feel HiPP in the bath now too - with the HiPP bath products. We loved that they were free-from allergens and ultra sensitive - just what you would want with your baby.

hipp bath products

What are your top tips for weaning your baby?
Top tips on how to make weaning simple, easy and fun, from a busy mum of two. Includes ideas for first foods.

Enter below for a chance to win a similar HiPP weaning kit (contents may vary) - UK entries and over 18 only. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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11 October 2018

One of the best kept secrets of North London - Forty Hall Estate

One of our favourite places in North London is the Forty Hall Estate. It is a great place for simple family fun, usually free or quite inexpensive, and combines beautiful surroundings, a farm and a bit of history. What's not to like? And because I like it so much I wanted to share it with you guys too - it is definitely worth a visit if you happen to be in North London.

girl with lion statues

red brick wall

picnic under a tree

table arrangement

stained glass windows

old bed

Forty Hall is a Grade 1 listed Jacobian Manor House, in Enfield. It was also the location for Elsyng Palace, a Tudor palace used by Henry VIII as a hunting lodge, although this palace was demolished long time ago and only archaeological digs remain. As we live at an easy distance away we have been to Forty Hall loads of times, and this post includes a collection of photos from a few different visits. We've been there for a sunset picnic, then we went to an Apple Festival, and a lambing event, and just to walk around the woods, and many more times.

So why do we like Forty Hall so much?

mum and pram

red brick wall

sheep on farm

girl feeding a lamb

girl laughing next to a lamb

goats at a farm

dad and toddler watching a goat

There is a working farm open in the summer (£2 for adults, kids go free), and they occasionally have special events at the farm too, like lambing in spring or apple festival in autumn. You can buy farm produce from their shop (open Fri to Sun), and we have bought organic veg, free range pork sausages and even wine, all made at the farm, right here in North London. Talk about eating locally!

The grounds are gorgeous. You can have long or short walks around the estate, and go for forest walks too. We have been to the grounds for a picnic numerous times and there is a cafe too is you don't want to lug stuff with you. It is quite common to see people picnicking during summer days, and that's what we usually do. There are ducks and geese to feed too (they prefer thawed frozen peas and lettuce).

The museum is an interesting place to wonder through. Many of the rooms have been set up as if in the old days, and you can learn about the life back then. For kids there are a couple of areas where they can dress up and play with toys, and my 5 year old loved it.

There are some special events too, which are great - Halloween, Christmas, Easter and all generally have their own special events. There are farmer's markets and handmade gifts markets. Sometimes there are different work shops for crafts and even concerts and plays. So lots of things going on!

scones and jam

mum and baby eating scones

forty hall after sunset

Must-visit North London gem for families! Forty Hall Estate is a great family oriented manor house in North London, with a farm, museum and outdoor walks. This post explains why we like it so much and what is there to do for families!

Top tips for Forty Hall:

  • Easy to get to by car (from M25 / A10). It is possible to get there by public transport too, although it requires a 10 minute bus ride (191) from Enfield Town Station.
  • Parking is free! 
  • Generally a fairly cheap day out, and can be made even cheaper by bringing a picnic. 
  • There is a cafe, a farm shop and a gift shop if you need anything. 
  • Only the bottom floor of the museum is accessible with wheelchairs / prams. 
  • Museum is free! And best suitable from school ages upwards as kids get more interested in displays. There are some toys for kids to play with too. 
  • Check the events before you go - big events may make parking a bit more difficult, but on the positive side, they add fun to the day!

Have you been to Forty Hall? Do you have any other recommendations for North London?

You might also like: Rainy day fun in London: V&A Museum of Childhood and Our sunset picnic at Forty Hall

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