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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London

London Travel Tips

By on March 20, 2017

I can’t really write a blog about travelling in London with a baby without writing about how difficult it can be to get around London and how I make it a bit easier for myself. The husband and I don’t have a car so it’s public transport all the way but we live in zone 2 next to a lot of public transport so we’ve never really found it a problem. But public transport does bring with it it’s own set of problems which I’m about to do a little bit of ranting about. I’ve only been doing this for 6 months (when did my baby grow to 6 months old!) but I already have a few things I just couldn’t do without:

1) Lets talk pushchairs . . .

The husband and I had a few things we needed to think about when it came to pushchairs. To start with I’m 5″6 and he’s 6″5 and we need a pushchair we can both use. We live in a 2 bed 4th floor flat, we have a lift so no problem there but it’s by no means palatial so something that folds easily was a must. The biggest consideration was it’s ability to negotiate public transport.

We went with the UPPAbaby Cruz in the end thanks to a lot of test drives in John Lewis! It’s light, folds easily, has a huge basket storage area and fits well on nearly every London bus. The only bus I can’t get it down the isle of without a struggle is a single decker so it’s a getting on by the back door job for those. It’s been doing a very good job and with an added cosy toes has been perfect for winter in London.

2) When London transport just can’t take a pushchair it’s time to use a carrier

Sometimes the place you’re going in London just isn’t pushchair compatible, it happens more than I wish it did.

We’ve had a few carriers that we’ve tried out by borrowing from friends and family but we’ve used only 2 for Henry. When he was first born we used a stretchy wrap that kept him very close and cosy. Once we’d learnt how to properly use it by going to the South London Sling Library (amazing place, thoroughly recommend) it became a life saver both in and out of the house.

Now he’s a lot bigger the wrap is no good so we’ve moved on to a LILLEbaby carrier this time using the Tooting Sling Meet as a helpful source of information. The LILLEbaby is good because both my husband and I can use it with very little alteration and it provides good back support for carrying our chunky baby.

3) Get to know how inaccessible London is

London Underground is not a friend to anyone that can’t use stairs. I find it very frustrating, I can’t imagine what it’s like navigating London if you use a wheelchair or have mobility issues. However TFL does provide a series of maps to help you get to know what routes and stations you may be able to navigate. There is a specific downloadable map for pushchair users. I downloaded it to my phone and check it whenever we’re going somewhere new to decide if it’s a pushchair or carrier kind of day.

4) You’re going to need some escalator skills

As a bit of a proviso for number 3 if you use a pushchair you’ll have to learn how to use an escalator with a pushchair. It takes a bit of confidence and it’s quite scary the first time, don’t test yourself at Angel!

5) It rains, you’ll need protection

It rains in London, quite a bit, especially when you look at the weather and it says its going to be sunny all day. You can’t push a pushchair and carry an umbrella, at least not easily. A good waterproof coat with a hood is worth the investment.

6) A backpack is easier than a shoulder strap

I only say this because using a carrier and a shoulder strap changing bag is difficult. We have a backpack that can also easily hang on the pushchair handle and I know that I’ll be balanced if I have to use the carrier for a day out by myself as well.

7) The floor in London does not have a 5 second rule

We’ve invested in about 3 toys that have hoops or clips so that they can be connected to the pushchair or on the carrier without them falling on the floor. I certainly wouldn’t want to put anything in my mouth that had been on the floor of a tube train.

So those are a few of my travel essentials. I take a lot more stuff than that with me. The photo below is how we used the pushchair to carry most of our luggage on a trip to my mums in Lincolnshire recently so believe me I also know how to take way more than the essentials!

Do you have any essentials for London travel with babies?

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