– Brilliant boating for babies
No need to rock the boat. Give your water baby a sea-faring experience, and be back in time for tea.
At 50 minutes one-way, the London Waterbus Company’s journeys on Regent’s Canal provide a perfect taster for the tot. (We’d like to say it’s about as long as her concentration span, but that would be pushing the boat out). Importantly, it’s not so long that you’ll be left at sea.
Trips are on traditional narrow canal boats. They’re slow and stable, but it’s still very exciting if you haven’t yet developed a taste for white water rafting.
You’ll enjoy the green and leafy fringes of Regents’ Park, spot the hyena’s on the perimeter of the Zoo (if you want to make a day of it, you can even get off at the Zoo), and end your trip at one of the cafes in Little Venice or at one of the stalls in Camden Lock. Whatever floats your boat.
What Mini says:
White water rafting … what a tongue twister!
In Summer, barges leave Little Venice and Camden Lock hourly – check the timetable for details. One way costs £6.50 for adults and £5 for children aged 3 – 16. (Under 3’s travel for free.) Return trips are available, and you can make a stopover and go back later. You can also include a visit to the London Zoo. There is no parking at either end so you can combine this with another mode of public transport and make that the theme of the day. You’ll also need to take a small, folding pram.
– Family fun at the Royal Botanical Gardens
Jump the queues this bank holiday weekend by lining up for an early start at Kew Gardens.
Celebrate the Royal Botanic Gardens 250th birthday with a feast of fun, family-friendly festivities. Try seed weaving at Seed Walk. Meandering through the grounds on the self-guided Plant Spy Thinking Walk. Or get creative at the Climbers and Creepers Centre, making tool kits, collecting bags, nature notebooks and treasure boxes – all absolute must-haves for the most ardent adventurer.
Kew (a World Heritage site) is great for tots of any age – dinky dots enjoy the fresh air … and may doze off leaving their parents to enjoy a couple of hours (minutes?) together. For those keen on displaying their mobility, what better than 300-odd acres to drag a grown-up through? And for the budding aviator, there are all the Heathrow-bound planes to admire.
For those who like their adventure a little more mellow, marvel at giant water lilies or carnivorous plants before munching on a picnic. Take your cue from the very chic, and head to somewhere fab beforehand to pick up your picnic. The strong could brave the café queues …
What Mini says:
Sounds right on cue.
The Gardens are open from 9.30am to 6.30pm and 7:30 pm on weekends. Tickets cost £13 for adults with tots going free. Information on planning your visit is available online.
– Story Times in East and South London
It was a dark and stormy night …
No matter what your opening line (or your first word for that matter), it all ends happily ever after with Mini-et-Moi.com’s comprehensive listing of rhyme times, baby bounce and story hour at every library and bookshop across the Capital (Greater London, that is). We’ve just added South and East London.
To cut a long story short, search by day of the week or postcode to find your local session. It’s so easy it could be a fairy tale.
What Moi says:
Cue the knight on a white horse …
– London’s Story Times for Little Ones
It’s the same old story – what to do with junior on a cold and frosty morning. Something that will stimulate her senses and let her expend a little of that surplus energy. But not at the expense of your new furniture.
What about a good read? And no, we don’t, mean on said new furniture (although if you are planning on staying in, click here for a list of all the books we’ve reviewed on Mini-et-Moi).
Read on! We’ve listed every story time at every library and book shop in North and West London. It’s a long story. And you can search by day of the week or by postcode, making finding the closest and most convenient gathering as simple as ABC.
Sure, the fiction may be a little less White Tiger and a little more The Tiger who Came to Tea. But the storyline is as riveting and the writing superb. And it will have junior and all the other little literature lovers enraptured.
And if it doesn’t? Well there’s always every book on the library shelves to page through – or that single gross-looking toy to wrestle over. But that’s another story.
Don’t live this side of the river? Don’t fret. As you read this our mums and tots are pounding the pavements of those other parts London and next week we’ll bring you an equally comprehensive listing for all of South and East London. End of Story.
What Mini says:
I can read her like book!
– Fun for all at the Leisure Centre (NW3)
Feel like you’re climbing the walls? With a thunderous child, serious cabin-fever and the looming threat of those extra Christmas pounds on your newly-recovered derriere, you need a day at leisure.
On a dark and stormy day, what better way to meet Mini’s multitude of demands (or your own) than a visit to the sensational Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre.
Re-launched in 2006, it offers a wide range of activities in stylish and serene surroundings: Let Mini romp in the soft play and baby jungle. Take her for a dip in the tots’ swimming pool. Or browse around the children’s library …
If you need some “Moi time”, take advantage of the lovely crèche while you enjoy the gym, pool or women-only work-out sessions. For those considering a return to the concrete jungle, test your muscle on the climbing wall. It’ll have you scaling new heights.
Afterwards, unwind at your leisure in one of the sumptuous cafes (yes, plural! And not a single hole in the wall.).
What Mini says:
Why ‘a fly on the wall’? You should only know what babies observe…
Go on! Take a stroll (or tube, bus, or even drive) to the crème de la crème of leisure centres. With a weekly farmers’ market round the corner, you’ll even be able to sort out supper on your way home.
Thanks to the lovely Moi, Eliza Maree, and her gorgeous mini, Pandora for testing and submitting Off the Wall.
– Cafe and Arts Centre for Smart Tots (NW10)
Although she’d never admit it publicly – except of course to my daddy, grandparents and well, almost everyone stopping to coo over my good looks – deep down my mummy knows that I’m brilliant.
She’s a bright spark too, my mummy. It was her cleverness that led us to Brilliant Kids Cafe and Art Centre in Kensal Rise.
Serving wholesome, hearty and healthy meals with lots of choices for me and mummy, the cafe offers a relaxed environment for mummy to catch up while I assert my intellectual prowess over my friends. There is plenty of space for us and bags of toys too. (And for those glorious days when the sun lights up a brilliant blue sky, there are outdoor tables in the garden.)
After lunch, another facet of my brilliance shines brightly in the wonderful classes. I love the Picasso class, which is perfect for a Master like me. (Or the collage class which brings out my inner Matisse.)
This is the place to go to assert that you’re the smartest kid on the block. Just make sure it’s not my block.
What Moi says:
I’m all about building a healthy sense of self esteem.
Brilliant Kids Cafe & Arts Centre is at 7 – 8 Station Terrace, Kensal Rise, London, NW10 5RT (Tel. 020 8964 4120 ). It’s open Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm and on Saturday from 9am to 5pm.
– The Best Family-Fun this Season
For a hot ticket in these cold climes, make sure you log onto Mini-et-Moi’s newest directories for some festive family fun ahead of the holiday crowds:
Skating on (Thin) Ice – Chilly Fun
Fancy yourself as an undiscovered star waiting to be spotted? For a little razzle dazzle fun – without the stress of the lights, camera, action – it’s time to get those skates on! And head to your nearest ice rink for some family fun and – with a list of gorgeous locations to choose from – a little London-loving. Use our map to help you decide where and when.
With no minimum age limit to enter most ice rinks, this is chilly fun en famille. And with your little ice queen suddenly knowing her mind oh so well, that means that none of you will be skating on thin ice. *Phew!*
Oh Yes It Is! – Silly Fun
You don’t have to be Cinders’ fairy godmother to wave a magic wand. We’ve done it for you! Simply click and you’ll be whisked away to our most comprehensive listing of this season’s panto.
Choose well and your diminutive Prince Charming will be shouting with the best of ‘em. (Well at least this is one place where the increasingly familiar (in your home) ‘yes it is! ‘no it isn’t’ routine is still fun.)
Be sure to book early.
Fun with the family – now that’s the ticket.
What Mini says: