Sticky Fingers Restaurant, Kensington

Yesterday we headed to Kensington to have lunch at Sticky Fingers which is an American style diner.

As we visited on a Sunday parking was free and we pretty much parked across the road which was handy! (A big tip of ours is to plan trips to London on a Sunday if you’re driving as not only is it free but it’s so easy to find street parking!).

The food here was absolutely delicious! We had a feast of mac n cheese (of course), buffalo wings, a chicken burger and fries and a steak that Dominic described as heavenly. All was topped off by a signature Sticky Fingers freakshake!

Best of all, this place is totally child friendly. As soon as we arrived Ita was given a colouring sheet and crayons to keep her occupied. Marco, our waiter, was so attentive and kept asking Ita if she was happy! It’s such a relief when a restaurant is so inviting when it comes to children.

Although there was rockerbilly music playing, we couldn’t help but notice all The Rolling Stones memorabilia. The restaurant is actually Bill Wymans (he was the bass guitarist until 1993!).

So if you love The Rolling Stones, this place is a little gem.

The restaurant is next door to Holland Gardens – handy to walk off the American size calories after 😅 There is an amazing play area there and of course the beautiful Japanese Gardens which are absolutely worth visiting.

Aliens Love Underpants at the Troubadour Theatre, White City

Yesterday we headed to White City to see the new show on at The Troubadour – Aliens Love Underpants! It was brilliant!!

We weren’t too sure what to expect since this was one of the very few books that we hadn’t read. However it honestly made no difference! The show was completely interactive with the actors continuing their narrative whilst searching for Underpants amongst us, the viewers!

We especially loved the songs which are now thoroughly stuck in our heads. The puppets are beautiful and the show itself is really well thought out.

This show is part of Kids Week and therefore you get a child’s ticket for free with every paying adult. Tickets start from £17.50. This show is running until 1 September. (Link below).

https://officiallondontheatre.com/show/aliens-love-underpants-111409493/?fromSale=KW&month=08%2F19

Heads up though, there are smoke and lighting effects which may not be suitable for all children. Although this is recommended for 3-8 year olds, those under 18 months are free as lap sitters.

We parked in West Fields so we could enjoy lunch there beforehand. It’s very close to the Troubadour! If you sign up to Smart Parking you can park there for the entire day for £7.50 which is a reduced rate. (Link below).

https://uk.westfield.com/london/centre-info/smart-parking

Dinosaur World Live at The Troubadour, Wembley Park

Today, we had the best dinosaur adventure EVER!

We were fortunate to be invited to see Dinosaur World Live at the Troubadour Theatre in Wembley and frankly it was AMAZING!!

The show is so cleverly put together and is presented/narrated by Miranda, an explorer who has grown up with Dinosaurs.

“Miranda” was so lively and I loved that she spoke directly to the crowd. It’s a really interactive way to learn about dinosaurs.

I was so worried that Ita would be terrified of the dinosaurs as the sounds and aesthetics are quite scary! Within 2 minutes she was putting her hand up to go on stage with the biggest of dinos!

The show is aimed at 3 years + and I think this is simply dependent on whether you think your child would be afraid or not. I was hesitant but I’m so glad that we went as Ita really enjoyed it! (As did I!)

It runs for only 50 minutes which is perfect for smaller children but we enjoyed it so much that we really wished it was a bit longer! There is also a meet and greet with the dinosaurs after – perfect photo ops!

One issue we found was the parking! Wembley will forever be the most expensive place to park I think! We parked in the “yellow” car park which is very close to the theatre but as there was an event on at the Arena, it cost us a hefty £20! On non-event days parking should only be £1 an hour. Plan your visit on a day when nothing else is going on!

This show is part of the offer on London Kids Week (where a child goes free throughout August with a paying adult). If you are only going to see one show this summer, let this be it!

There is also an offer on Groupon if you’re simply an adult who wants to see it too!

https://www.groupon.co.uk/deals/gl-dinosaur-world-live-4?keyw=dinosaur%20world%20live&crea=361261633611&netw=g&adpos=1t1&utm_campaign=UK_MB_SEA_GGL_TXT_TTT_SR_CBP_CH1_NBR_k*dinosaur%20world%20live_m*p_c*361261633611_d*UK-RTC-Root-London_g*RTC-gl-dinosaur-world-live-4-PHRASE_s*264_t*kwd-399219268980&utm_source=Google&utm_medium=cpc&loc_physical_ms=1006897&loc_interest_ms=9045964&template=ETA_DKI_7&gclid=Cj0KCQjws7TqBRDgARIsAAHLHP5NUD7tmkUT6GvXabnQT2q4yIlC8anS67SYrela4jX33FxAAxvETlEaAoc5EALw_wcB

The Very Hungry Caterpillar at Troubadour, White City

Today we were invited to see The Very Hungry Caterpillar Live at the new Troubadour Theatre in White City 🐛 🍎 🍉 🧁 .

The show is of course based on the famous book by Eric Carle, which sees a very greedy caterpillar eat and eat before turning into a beautiful butterfly. This is one of Ita’s favourite books and I’m so glad that the live stage version didn’t deviate far from the original story! There was actually 3 short shows beforehand, all telling various tales and encouraging children to get involved. The show was narrated beautifully by 3 actors who also handled all the puppets.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar is showing at the Troubadour until 1 September and is also per of London Week – where a child goes free with a paying adult. It is recommended for ages 1+.

Up to 18 months can enter as babes in arms.

I would say this is perfect for very small children!

A little tip I want to share is that parking around White City is mostly permit only and this theatre does not have its own parking. However, if you register with Smart Parking then you can park at Westfields (which is very very close by!) and pay a maximum of approx £6 for the entire day!

Link below.

https://uk.westfield.com/london/centre-info/smart-parking

Dior Afternoon Tea at The Berkeley

Yesterday we visited The Berkeley Hotel to enjoy their themed afternoon tea – Pret-A-Portea also known as Dior Afternoon Tea.

The Berkeley is described as a 5 star luxury hotel in the heart of Knightsbridge. A night here will set you back a crazy £570! (I know, madness right?). However, it is also home to one of the best afternoon teas we have ever had!

Inspired by the most iconic creations by Christian Dior, the most well known pieces have been transformed into biscuits, bakes and fancies.

The attention to detail is non comparable – each treat was just like the professional photographs we had seen when booking (something I tend to complain about!).

The tea is priced at £60pp or £70pp with champagne. This is very reasonable for London teas and I would say is really worth the expense. We paid for two as the staff here were kind enough to make Ita her own plate of ham sandwiches. As she doesn’t really eat sweet foods she was quite happy to have a little taste of our cakes. “Sharing is caring” as she says! Also of note is that we were not charged for Ita’s sandwiches. This gratitude goes so far with us. It really isn’t of much cost to hotels such as this but it is a clear indication of how well children are received.

The staff at The Berkeley were so warm and inviting. At least 3 members, including our waiter, made time to talk to Ita. She was given a colouring in book and pencils to keep her occupied too!! We have never had a real problem bringing Ita to nice places but this occasion really stood out for all the right reasons. When children are made to feel welcome, adults relax and enjoy the experience more!

Link to the reservations page is below.

https://www.the-berkeley.co.uk/restaurants-bars/afternoon-tea/

Zog Live by Freckle Productions

Today we were fortunate enough to be invited to see the press show of Zog, at Cadogan Hall in London. The show is of course based on the famous Julia Donaldson book and is one of our favourites.

Freckles Productions and Rose Theatre Kingston have done such an amazing job of bringing this show to life! We have seen a few shows previously by Freckles Productions and would describe them as very quirky! They do tend to deviate away from the original story but at the same time, manage to keep the essence of the tale.

The lively dancing along with the aesthetics of the colourful puppets looks amazing but the singing is equally as incredible! Ita was absolutely transfixed.

The show is an hour long – perfect for a 3 year old. I would say this show is most suitable for 2-7 year olds and also the seating is spacious and comfortable too. (If you have “babes on laps” then you’ll understand why that’s good to know!!).

The show felt quite different from the book in that we felt it focused on Princess Pearl more than Zog. Although in all honestly I don’t think Ita noticed that!

Afterwards Ita got to meet the casts and puppets which she is still talking about almost 8 hours later!

This show is also part of London Theatres Kids Week which we have mentioned before.

That means that kids go free with every paying adult! Tickets to this show start at £18 so you can get a really good deal.

Zog is running up until 25 August 2019 and there are 2 shows per day during the week and 3 shows per day at the weekend.

I’ve popped the link below to purchase tickets with the offer mentioned!

Just so you know, those under 18 months are also FREE to this show.

https://officiallondontheatre.com/show/zog-tickets-111416185/?fromSale=KW&month=08%2F19

Pixie Manor at Ruxley Manor Garden Centre

Today we travelled to Sidcup in Kent to finally meet the fairies and pixies of Pixie Manor. This has been something we have wanted to do for a few summers now so Ita was very excited! As per usual, she dressed for the occasion too!

We arrived an Pixie Manor for our 11am booking slot and Ita was given a pixie passport to mark off and collect stamps during her experience.

We entered through the garden door and met with grandad in his potting shed! He explained to us that there have been all sorts of magical going ons. He told a story to the children and asked them if they wanted to search for the fairies who have been playing tricks. Of course, they all said yes! This was such a lovely and well thought out way to start the experience.

Off we all went through the magical door which led us into a floral forest where we met a pink fairy who was very eager to teach the children all about different kinds of fairies. Ita and the other children had to spot the fairies hidden in their little gardens and tick them off in their passport.

One thing I will say about this part, is it only works of parents realise they need to stay back! The children are encouraged to stick together as a little group and when overzealous parents were in the way, it means some of the children couldn’t see. If you are one of these parents, please bare in mind how this may feel for a small child who might not have the confidence to push their way in front of you!

Once they had all marked off their passports, they sang a special spell and entered into the dragons cave…

In the cave we met another lovely fairy and Lucky the elf. They explained that the dragon was sleeping but had left the children eggs to decorate with colourful gems.

The children sat down on their toadstools and used the sticky gems to decorate their gifts.

Although all the rooms were beautifully decorated, this one in particular looked unbelievable! The sleeping dragon at the end of the cave looked so enchanting and Ita told me she was worried about waking it!

Once the children had decorated their dragon eggs, they were whisked away to meet the Mother Fairy deep in the forest by the magical tree.

As we entered this part of the forest, the children were encouraged to sit on their log cushions. They were asked whether they wanted to learn how to be fairies or dragons and also learnt a magical spell. Mother Fairy was so impressed that they all received gifts from the enchanted tree!

I asked Ita what she thought and she said it was “so lovely where the fairies lived” and that she “didn’t really want to go home now”. Ita really enjoyed the experience and took part in everything. Usually she is a bit shy but she got stuck in which really is indicative of just how friendly the actors and actresses were.

Pixie Manor is a pop up experience within Ruxley Manor Garden Centre. Opened on 20 July, it runs through until 1 September. It is aimed at children aged 3-8 years and I would suggest this is spot on. A 2 year old may find it fun but I think would struggle with the passport activities and may be afraid of the dragon!

The experience is 45 minutes long although ours was 30 minutes. You can purchase tickets on the door but I’d suggest booking online as there is limited spaces per session. Sessions run every 15 minutes.

Children are £9.99 and adults are £1.99. This price includes a little goodie bag and certificate.

At the end of the experience you have your photo taken with Mother Fairy and you can purchase this. I’d ask to see the photos before leaving this room as once you’re out, you’re out!

The garden centre itself is huge and the restaurant is so spacious with lots of options. If you are travelling quite a bit for this experience then plan to have lunch here whilst the children play in the soft play area (free). There is one swing type ride which is £2 per child.

Click the link below to bring you directly to the Pixie Manor info including booking;

https://www.ruxley-manor.co.uk/events-attractions/pixie-manor/?utm_source=GarciaFT&utm_medium=Blog&utm_campaign=PixieManor19

Christmas in July

A few weeks ago I uploaded a story to Instagram, saying we had already planned much of our December activities. Well the response was quite overwhelming!! So many people did not realise that actually, now is the best time to get booking your events!

If you have followed us for a while now then it won’t be a surprise to you how much we LOVE Christmas! Our planning and booking pretty much starts and ends in July. So in response to asking people what we had planned, we have decided to blog our own “Christmas in July!”

I’ll start by explaining what we have already booked and then I’ll update the Christmas section as the season grows closer.

November;

Bicester Village Trip

We always kick off the Festive season by our annual trip to Bicester Village in Oxfordshire. The lights and decorations are beautiful and if you’re lucky you can pick up a bargain before the hustle and bustle of December. A trip to Bicester is always best planned as you will need a full day and a wallet full of money! Plan this one ahead.

Start Decorating!!

We also ALWAYS put our Christmas trees (yes, TREES) up at the end of November. Since it takes a full day to do, why wait until December?

We have one very big traditional tree in our living room, a Disney tree in Ita’s playroom, 2 mini gold and cream ones in our bedroom, and Ita’s pink themed tree in her bedroom. This year we will also be decorating Ita’s outside playhouse since we have an extra white tree!

You’ll start noticing decorations creeping into shops from around August but if you look online you’ll likely be able to pick them up at the reduced rate still! The prices usually hike up around September time in terms of online purchasing.

On top of decoration, I also wrap up about 10 of our favourite Christmas movies and pop them under the tree. Once or twice a week we do a festive movie night and will ask Ita to choose one of the wrapped DVDs. The reason this is under planning is because sometimes the best time to get Christmas stuff is at the most random times of the year. Having just checked Amazon, many of the typical favourites are only about £6!

Christmas Photos

Another thing we always do in November is have Ita’s Christmas photos taken. This is something we have done since her first Christmas and has become a little tradition of ours. Sessions are so limited and if you want to have cards made, as we usually do, then you need to secure your spot quickly! Photographers tend to start bookings around this time so do look around!

December;

Winter Wonderland

Typically we start December with a trip to Winter Wonderland but this year we will be heading to Disneyland Paris! We booked this back in December 2018. Booking ahead really does secure you the best deals.

However, that doesn’t mean we are forgoing Winter Wonderland altogether! That would be silly! We always go on a Sunday too as we find that parking around Hyde Park is easy to find and free on Sundays! Pencil a Sunday date into your calendar soon so you can plan around this.

Winter Wonderland remains free but is really rather expensive.

Festive Afternoon Tea at The Ritz

Without a doubt one of our traditional highlights is the festive afternoon tea at The Ritz, London.

Booking for this opens at the end of June and dates and times get booked up by August! I’m not kidding! The Ritz is beautiful on any day but it has a special makeover come Christmas. You can even book Christmas carols to be sung. How amazing? If you want to book this but find it’s already full then I’d recommend also checking out The Dorchester or The Savoy.

https://www.theritzlondon.com/christmas-at-the-ritz/pre-christmas-celebrations/christmas-afternoon-tea/

Lapland UK

Our first visit to Lapland UK was only last year but it was so magical that I spent the day in tears. The prices range depending on the dates available and whilst it is not “cheap” it is highly recommended!

The booking portal initially opened for Christmas 2019 back in January and has had a few separate sale periods since. It’s currently closed until Autumn. Sign up below for updates on the next sale period.

We tend to only allow Ita to see Santa once during December to encourage the magic and the Santa here looks brilliant. None of that god awful rubbish beard or those minging boot covers!

https://www.laplanduk.co.uk/booking-portal

Christmas Lights

Last year we visited London Zoo to see the beautiful light decorations whilst the animals were sleeping. We only booked this because Kew was sold out by August!!

This year we have already booked Christmas at Kew. Many dates are already sold out so take a look at what is available. If it doesn’t fit then check out London Zoos version.

https://www.kew.org/kew-gardens/whats-on/christmas

Festive Luna Cinema

What is Christmas without festive films?! Last year we headed to Kensington to watch Elf. We drank hot mulled wine whilst Ita sipped got chocolate and it was perfect.

Although we use the Luna company, there are various similar ones around the UK such as The Backyard Cinema. It’s relatively cheap but it’s such a cute experience.

Tickets have not gone on sale yet but as soon as the summer viewings are done, they will be!

See a Christmas show at the theatre

We tend to book one theatre trip during December. Last year we saw Stick Man and the year before we saw The Gruffalo’s Child. We haven’t actually booked a show yet for 2019 but I’m under no illusions that we will. They too have become part of our little traditions so fingers crossed we find one!

A visit from an Elf

Last year we booked a very special visitor to pop in and wish Ita a Merry Christmas Eve. I can’t tell you how hard it is to find a company down South that do Elf visits. Many are northern based.

We booked via Next Steps Entertainment and chose the reindeer package. This consisted of;

20 minute visit from an Elf

Christmas bag filled with goodies

A present and card from Santa

A special toy elf

Seeing Ita’s face light up in disbelief was priceless especially because the suspense of Christmas had finally peaked. We will absolutely be doing this again this year!

https://thenextstepentertainment.co.uk/index.php/christmas-elf-visits/

Disney on Ice

We went to see Disney on Ice last Boxing Day and will again we seeing the show this year too. Tickets are still on sale currently.

https://www.disneyonice.com/gb/en-gb/shows

Christmas Grottos

Ita will be seeing Santa at Lapland UK and possible at Disneyland – we’re still undecided about that at the moment! So this year, as like last year, we won’t need to book a grotto.

However many grottos go on sale in August.

The best place in London to see Santa is of course at Harrods but Hamleys and Winter Wonderland look equally as authentic (I say that knowing full well it can’t be that authentic but you know why I mean!).

Polar Express

This is basically what we have booked so far however we are awaiting more information on a Polar Express style train ride based in Essex.

https://www.eorailway.co.uk/events/santa-specials/

Hope this was useful!

Summer Fun Check List

With the summer holidays well underway, we have put together some fun activities to do with Ita, including FREE ones! And since there is so much to do I thought I would share it!

Local splash park – FREE 

Theatre show – Prices vary but take advantage of local offers including ‘Kids Week’ (see below)

https://officiallondontheatre.com/kids-week/

‘Disney in the Westend’ – FREE popup from 23 July – 1 Sept. Interactive Disney workshops for children.

Head to Ruxley Manor to see the fairies and the pixies come to life – Children £9.99 / adults £1.99

https://www.ruxley-manor.co.uk/events-attractions/pixie-manor/?utm_source=GarciaFT&utm_medium=Blog&utm_campaign=PixieManor19

Children aged 7-14 can take part in one-hour open water ‘Swim Safe’ sessions running in 36 open water locations in England and Wales throughout the summer – FREE

The programme, run by ASA-qualified swimming teachers, will include up to 30-minutes of open water swimming, along with advice on water safety from qualified lifeguards. For the full details, see Swim Safe.

https://swimsafe.org.uk/book-your-session

Visit your local zoo – prices will vary but look for local deals!

Visit the Imperial War Museum, London – FREE

Take a trip to the beach – FREE

Or take a trip to a fake beach! ‘The Beach at Brent Cross & Bluewater’ – entry is 3 quid for adults and kids over 3 years.

At Bella Italia, children can get a Piccolo or Grande meal for £1 when bought alongside a full-price adult main until noon on Sunday 18 August. (Sign up with your email address to get your coupon code).

https://www.bellaitalia.co.uk/offers/kids-eat-for-1?campaignId=108984

Cinema date – during the holiday’s kids club runs throughout and tickets are only £2.50 each at Cineworld!

Be in the audience – head to applause store for free audience tickets (includes Love Island and X Factor) – FREE

https://www.applausestore.com/home

Pets at Home runs workshops for children aged 5-11 during the school holidays. The sessions teach how to interact with animals such as guinea pigs and hamsters. Your children will get a certificate or sticker once they’ve completed the workshop too – FREE

https://community.petsathome.com/events/child-workshop/?_ga=2.219613593.1240132417.1563972193-368053439.1563972193

Check out Disney Store events – Make your own lion mane on Thursday 25 July, make your own Forky Sat 27 July times: 11am to 12pm & 2pm to 3pm, take part in the Spider Man training Academy Spider-Man Training Academy on Tues 6 & Thurs 8 August from 2pm – 4pm – FREE

https://www.shopdisney.co.uk/events-and-activities

Visit the home of Winnie the Pooh – 100 Aker Wood at Aldenham Country Par. You also get to meet Pooh bear daily at 2pm – FREE

Visit a lavender farm – Hitchin Lavender adults £6 and children from 5 years are £3, but those U5 are FREE

Make your own slime at all Hobby Craft stores every Saturday throughout August. (runs in 30 minute slots) – FREE but you must book online.

Make a sun catcher at all Hobby Craft stores on Monday 5th, Wednesday 7th, Friday 9th August – FREE but you must book online.

Paint your own ceramic at all Hobby Craft stores on Monday 12th, Wednesday 14th, Friday 16th August– FREE but you must book online.

Where is Peter Rabbit? At Royal Theatre Haymarket, London

We were lucky enough to be invited to attend the press showing of Where is Peter Rabbit? at the very beautiful Royal Theatre Haymarket and it did not disappoint!

Where is Peter Rabbit? Is back this summer running from 20 July until 1 September. This is one of the shows that, thanks to Official London Theatre, kids can see for free this August (with a paying adult).

https://www.lovetheatre.com/tickets/5683/Where-is-Peter-RabbitT?gclsrc=aw.ds&&gclid=CjwKCAjw4NrpBRBsEiwAUcLcDKczlxPx5jItTiYI6qZJ-x5PuHR8aPsLvXh08Hf-LuVsH2YwxJQdWxoCuYoQAvD_BwE

Ita was completely engaged watching her favourites on stage and I couldn’t help but laugh when she started shouting “GET IN JAIL! GET IN THE BIN!” at Mr McGregor!

The songs have been so well written and the puppets are undeniably beautiful. The running time is about an hour which is perfect for smaller children. Although this show is suggested for 3-16 year olds, I would say it’s probably more suited to 3-8/9 years.

For those who missed my stories back in June, Kids Week is where for the whole of August, a child aged 16 or under can go to any participating show for free where tickets are available as long as they’re accompanied by a full paying adult. Adults can also buy up to two extra children’s tickets at half price and there are no booking fees. This really does make visiting the theatre accessible, especially to families with multiple children. (Take advantage!!).

https://www.peterrabbitlive.com/?gclid=CjwKCAjw4NrpBRBsEiwAUcLcDJ_WalMVh0nRdcNol1H3osfaDNcpi_4UayPpOwQBB934Xwtj_Z1KbxoC7kIQAvD_BwE