Mum with a view

A new view from a new mum in London
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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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

By on
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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