A TO Z | London

C is for . . . Canal Museum, Canal Walks and Camley Street Natural Park

By on April 3, 2017

Continuing on with the A to Z of family friendly activities in London we have the letter C.

It was my turn to choose the activities again, and I love a small niche museum, so the London Canal Museum was a perfect start! The canal museum is a short walk from King’s Cross station which is wonderfully accessible so perfect for the day out. The museum itself is quite small, set across 2 floors with lifts to each section of the museum as well as toilets on both floors including an accessible toilet and baby change. There is also a small bit of outside space that is accessible through the back of the museum. The Canal Museum does what it says on the tin – it charts the history of the canals across Britain with a focus on London canals. It also looks at different types of canal boats, how locks work and the use of horses in canal work. The building used to house an ice warehouse so there is a deep ice storage well and an exhibition about Carlo Gatti the ice cream maker that used the ice. Unfortunately, the museum was lacking an ice cream parlour, shame! For those of you with kids a bit older than Henry, there is a small activity nook with books and crafts and a couple of small interactive exhibits and a canal boat to explore.

Before we had Henry, Alex (the husband) and I used to go on a lot of guided London walks. I’m not from London so any exploring to be done is very exciting for me. We like a good self-led walk using a book, so I found a book of guided walks of London’s waterways in the library that was perfect. (Incidentally, I have been using the library since Henry was born, I’m starting to fall in love with local libraries!) The book had a walk that started at King’s Cross which went past the museum and then continued on along the canal. The canal route was accessible and in the sunny weather was perfect for a stroll to get Henry to sleep, just a shame he decided it wasn’t! We made it to Granary Square and the tiered seating by the canal. This was a good place to sit and feed Henry but our walk was slightly scuppered because at the moment there are some works going on so you can’t continue further along the canal.

We took this as a sign and stopped for lunch. There are lots of restaurants around Granary Square but they were all very busy and not great for pushchairs. There is however a giant Waitrose – so a supermarket picnic and a free coffee it was. Lots of places to sit in the sunshine as Henry finally had a nap.

After lunch we walked around the corner to Camley Street Natural Park. A small oasis of nature next to the railway line. It has a short part-accessible walkway around the park which contains a pond, wildflower meadow and lots of insect habitats. There are also lots of activities for the little ones. There is a short trail with clues, a mini beat hunting area and you can also go pond dipping. The path is wood chipped so quite bumpy for the pushchair but Henry slept through it so it can’t be that bad. There is a toilet there as well but no baby change facilities. It’s great and amazing to step into this area of nature so close to King’s Cross.

It started to rain just as we finished walking around so we decided to run inside to the British Library (which has some wonderful Quentin Blake illustrations), but that doesn’t begin with C, so I can’t talk about it!

 

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A TO Z

B is for . . . Brick Lane, Bagels and Black Cultural Archives 

By on March 27, 2017

Continuing on with the A to Z of family friendly activities in London we have the letter B.

It was the husband’s turn to pick the activities for the letter B and he didn’t disappoint. It was an absolutely beautiful day in London and he’d found a downloadable walking tour of East London. It started from Liverpool street station which is accessible so we were all good taking the pushchair. The tour was from Queen Marys University and includes a map and sections to listen to at several stops. We didn’t do the complete tour, we ended at Brick Lane as the full tour would have taken too long for us and Henry. The sections we did listen to were interesting, the area has a lot of history that I didn’t know about from Jewish soup kitchens to silk trading Huguenots.

Once we’d arrived at Brick Lane we stopped for lunch and by lunch I mean Brick Lane’s world famous salt beef bagels from Beigel Bake. They are amazing, get them with pickles and mustard for the full taste sensation. We also stopped in for a couple of rainbow bagels at the bakery next door because I love a good food trend.

We stopped for lunch in Allen Gardens, just off of Brick Lane, an expanse of green open field which has a play park to entertain children that are bigger than Henry! It’s also home to Spitalfields City Farm. We ate lunch while basking in the sunshine and Henry napped. I could quite easily have fed Henry in the park and we could have done a nappy change there too as we have a waterproof mat but we decided to find somewhere for a coffee instead for a less alfresco experience.

There are loads of coffee shops around mostly in and around Spitalfields Market. If you don’t fancy a bagel there are many family friendly restaurants to be found there too.

After lunch and a spot of sunbathing we headed home to Brixton for a short visit to the Black Cultural Archives. The exhibition Rights of Passage used objects from the collection to form a narrative about resistance from the 1900’s to modern day. It was a small exhibition but they don’t have a lot of space. There is a cafe which has a nice outdoor space at the archive, unfortunately, the lift was broken so we could only explore the ground floor on this visit.

It was a lovely day out, I arrived home well fed and happy.

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A TO Z

A is for . . . Art, American and All Aboard

By on March 12, 2017

The A to Z of family friendly activities in London starting with the letter A.

It was my turn to come up with the first day, which seemed fair as this whole escapade was my idea.

We started with an ART gallery. We went to the Now Gallery which is a small gallery next to the O2 Arena in North Greenwich. To start with it was easy to get to because North Greenwich station is accessible so we could bring the pushchair, always a plus because Henry is not a little baby so although the carrier is an option, having a pushchair is preferable. Although don’t get me started on how inaccessible London Underground is.

The Now gallery has an exhibition called the Iris by Rebecca Louise Law. It’s an art piece of 10,000 Iris’s suspended from the ceiling using copper wire. We visited about a week after it was installed so the flowers had died but had still retained their colour and their impact. We laid on cushions on the floor and looked up. Henry seemed to enjoy the flowers and laying on the cushions with his dad part. I have never actually heard of the Now Gallery, I must confess I only knew it existed because there was a morning of weather forecasts from there on BBC Breakfast. I was a little disappointed that there was only one piece of art displayed although it was a very striking artwork.

Cushion time with Daddy
The view from the floor in the Now Gallery

After the gallery, we went for a little stroll and then headed into the O2 for lunch. We decided on an AMERICAN themed lunch and headed to 5 guys for burgers and fries. I really like the burgers they do at 5 guys but the main perk of this place for me is the drinks machine. I’m breastfeeding Henry and currently not drinking any caffeinated drinks because of that. I know that the caffeine probably won’t affect Henry but as I can avoid caffeinated drink I do. But anyway back to the point, the drink machines at 5 guys have like 20 or more decaf options! I went with decaf cherry diet coke, it’s my favourite.

I love me some burgers and fries

After lunch, a feed and nappy change for Henry we decided that we need to add some more ART, as it was such a nice day we decided to take the boat down the Thames to Tate Modern. So we went ALL ABOARD the Thames Clipper, yeah I know it’s getting a bit tenuous now.

We saw 2 exhibitions as Tate Modern as well as sitting in the turbine hall and taking in the new immersive art experience there. The exhibitions we saw were Robert Rauschenberg and Wolfgang Tillmans. Robert Rauschenberg is an AMERICAN artist and the exhibition included a large selection of his work including prints, sculpture and a great piece of art which involved bubbling clay which mesmerised Henry. Wolfgang Tillmans is a photographer, the exhibition of his work was arranged thematically rather than in a timeline which is more common for exhibitions. His work includes a focus on photography techniques so there were rooms dedicated to the process of photography as well as the advancement in photography during his career. I preferred Tillmans as did my husband, Henry I think preferred the colours and sounds of Rauschenberg.

After another change for Henry, lots of baby change facilities available although I think I found the worst one next to a hand dryer which scared Henry, whoops. I then fed Henry whilst taking in the immersive art in the Turbine Hall by Philippe Parreno. It’s a series of changing sounds, lights and images which fill the entire turbine hall.

That was the end of our first alphabetically themed date, all in all, A success. Very excited for the next date organised by my husband.

Have you got any favourite A locations in London for family activities?

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A TO Z

A to Z of Family London

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Henry at tower bridge

Since we had our son my husband and I found that we weren’t getting out of the house to enjoy London like we used to. We used to spend at least one day of every weekend going to a gallery or exhibition or at least finding a fun new place to eat. Henry came along and we started either spending all weekend at home or at least very close to home.

We wanted to change that and that’s where the A to Z of family (read baby) London comes in. We kind of stole an idea from a mum friend of mine but gave it our Hazell family twist. Here are the rules:

  • We alternate between myself and my husband as to whom the responsibility for the letter falls to.
  • The date must be family friendly i.e. Not too far, baby change facilities, actually lets babies in!
  • It can be somewhere we’ve been before but we must do something different there. So we could go back to the British Museum but there must be a new exhibition for instance.
  • There has to be somewhere for lunch there too, I’m still breastfeeding so food is very important to me.

So this blog will be a chronicle of the Hazell family adventures as well as some other ideas we come up with on the way.

I hope you enjoy joining us on our adventures and that we inspire some of your own.

 

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