Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Santa's Grottoes in London: Reindeer Food

Nothing says Christmas like a visit to Santa's Grotto. 
It's always so sweet to see the excitement on the children's faces 
as they are about to meet their gift bearing hero. 

We recently visited the Santa's Grotto 
at Eddie Catz in Wimbledon 
and we are happy to report from the Big Guy HQs. 

A Mum in London

Making Reindeer Food at Santa's Grotto 
in Eddie Catz Wimbledon 

The Grotto at Eddie Catz has a traditional feel.  
Before meeting Father Christmas, 
the children are welcomed by the Elves into Santa's workshop. 

There, they are asked to write their letter to him 
and then prepare some magical reindeer food 
which they can take home with clear instructions 
to sprinkle it in the garden on Christmas Eve. 

This cute activity, which is taken very seriously by the children, 
helps set the mood and prepare them for meeting the Big Guy. 

A kind Santa then greets the children with cute gifts 
{a plush toy for older children, a Christmas bib for babies} 
and a photograph is taken which is included in the price. 

In a nutshell: a cute Grotto with a personal touch, 
ideal for toddlers and babies. 
Plus, after the visit, the kids are welcome
to use the soft play facilities for 2 hours. 

Santa's Grotto at Eddie Catz Wimbledon, SW19 2LP, from £15

Disclosure: Complimentary visit.
All views and wording my own.

Santa's Grottoes in London: Adventurous Rides in 4D

Nothing says Christmas like a visit to Santa's Grotto. 
It's always so sweet to see the excitement on the children's faces 
as they are about to meet their gift bearing hero. 

We recently visited the Santa's Grotto 
at Westfield Stratford City 
and we are happy to report from the Big Guy HQs. 

A Mum in London

An Adventurous Journey at the DreamWorks Grotto 
in Westfield Stratford City

The DreamWorks Grotto in Westfield Stratford City  
takes the whole Grotto visit to another level {literally}. 
You see, the experience is a very high tech one. 

When booking online, we were asked to write our letter to Santa 
and to provide a family picture for our boarding pass. 
On the day, we were greeted by iPad holding elves 
who printed out pass and led us to a big alpine lodge. 

Inside, more elves happily helped us pass our sleigh driver's licence, 
go on an adventurous 4D sleigh ride with Shrek,  
and make some {digital} gingerbread cookies
before meeting the Big guy himself. 

Both children received a gift which was unwrapped 
{it would add to the experience if gifts were wrapped, I think} 
and we had a family picture taken 
{which is paid separately}.  

In a nutshell: The key word is 'adventure'.  
From a 4D sleigh ride to exciting games, 
this Grotto is perfect for older children. 

DreamWorks Grotto at Westfield Stratford City, E20 1EJ, from £8 per person off peak

Disclosure: Complimentary visits.
All views and wording my own.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Object of Design: Why we Love the Dyson V6

When design works, 
everyday boring objects like vacuum cleaners 
 have the power to transform a mundane task into a pleasant activity. 

This is surely what happened 
when the cordless Dyson V6 Total Clean came into our lives

Before, we would kind of argue 
about whose turn it was to vacuum clean. 
Now, much to my surprise, everyone's become a vacuuming fan; 
even the four-year-old. 

A Mum in London

It gets rid of spider webs on the ceiling easily

In a house with staircases, carrying around and plugging/unplugging 
a heavy vacuum cleaner is not the most practical thing. 

The Dyson V6 is so light and easy to carry around,  
we clean the house much quicker and with half the effort. 
Plus being cordless, there's no need to worry 
about the cord not being long enough.

We don't hide it in the broom closet 

The Dyson V6 is so pretty, it certainly doesn't look like a vacuum cleaner.
We have ours in a corner of the kitchen readily available, 
and it has received many compliments from friends and family. 

The V6 comes with four different heads 
and converts into a handheld device with a few clicks .  
My favourite is the powerful mini motorised head that removes ground-in dirt 
{I use it to clean the children's mattresses, the buggy and the car seats}.

A Mum in London

It cleans the worst kids' mess 

With a motor that spins at up to 110,000 rpm, nothing stands in its way. 
We put it to the {kids} test: from mashed cereal on the carpet 
to sticky Play Doh bits on the kitchen's stone flooring, 
the V6 sucked everything up. 

Plus, being very quiet, it's the only vacuum 
that doesn't scare my baby to tears. 

It makes cleaning fun & it's fun to clean

Firstly, the air that comes out of it is cleaner than the one that comes in. 
Secondly, you can empty its bin with just one click. 
Thirdly, all its components can be easily removed and cleaned. 

But my absolute favourite thing in the V6 is its clear bin.  
By watching all the nasty stuff it sucked up, 
I can't help but feel a sense of accomplishment.  

In a nutshell: functional design that looks good. 
A vacuum cleaner that makes cleaning fun. 

Dyson V6 Total Clean, currently £279 (was £430), available at Currys & Dyson

Disclosure: Gifted sample for the purposes of this review.
All views and wording my own.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Family Life in South West London

Which is the best place in London for families? 
This is a question I get asked a lot. 

While I'd say most of London is child-friendly, 
one part of the capital is predominantly a family affair

With a whole area south of the river Thames 
being dubbed 'Nappy Valley', 
there are some good reasons 
South West London is family territory.

A Mum in London

The Parks 
Some of London's finest parks can be found in South West London. 
In autumn take the children for deer spotting in Richmond Park
in winter go to Battersea Park's big slides,  
and in summer go splashing at Wimbledon Park's paddling pool 
or at the urban beach in Fulham's Bishop's Park

One thing is sure: in SW London you are spoilt for choice 
when it comes to having fun with the little ones. 

The Transport Links
Central London is easily accessible from South West London. 

The old, reliable District Line takes you directly 
to London's most central and child-friendly locations. 

Alight at South Kensington station for tons of knowledge 
at the Science and Natural History Museums, 
get off at Westminster to see Big Ben, the London Eye, 
and the sharks at the London Aquarium
or stop at Bayswater for heaps of fun at the Diana Memorial Playground.

A Mum in London

The Schools 
South West London boroughs are known for their good state schools. 
In fact, the borough of Wandsworth is one of the top five 
best performing local authorities in the country. 

Before planning a move and looking up for properties, 
the outstanding schools' catchment area. 

The Family Life 
There are plenty of family friendly shops and restaurants 
in this part of London, 
perfect for a day out with the children. 

Our favourite ones are the independent coffee shops in Parsons Green, 
the cute boutiques in Wimbledon village, 
and the family friendly restaurants in Fulham. 

Disclosure: Sponsored Post.
All views and wording my own.

Monday, 16 November 2015

An Eddie Catz Party Review

Organising a four-year-old's birthday party 
can almost feel like organising a wedding.

Minus the dress. Plus the mess. 

Sending the invites, handling RSVPs,
making food arrangements for children and adults,
finding a children's entertainer/face painter,
buying plastic bric-à-brac for the party bags,
making a cake, and the list goes on.

In brief, making sure everyone has fun and enough cake.
Which, of course, is easier said than done. 

A Mum in London

This is why we opted to let specialists handle all those details 
and have the four-year-old's birthday party at Eddie Catz Wimbledon

Booking a party there couldn't be any easier: 
everything can be done online. 
After choosing a suitable date and time slot, 
I had the option to pick a theme, add a birthday cake, 
choose food and refreshments for adults, 
and order party extras like balloons. 

I appreciated that at the time of the booking 
I only had to pay for a minimum of 10 guests; 
the final amount would be paid four days before the party 
when I would have the final number of guests. 

This allows for flexibility with the RSVPs 
and limits the number of no-shows. 

A Mum in London

On the day of the party, 
we simply had to show up with the cake and welcome our guests. 

Our party hosts {they were absolutely brilliant} took care of the rest: 
sorting out refreshments and special dietary requirements, 
serving yummy party food 
{the children had pizzas, chicken nuggets and chips, 
carrots, baby tomatoes and grapes}, 
and making sure the children had fun 
by dancing and interacting with them. 

The highlight of course was the visit of Eddie Catz himself, 
which sent the kids crazy and running to hug the big cat. 

A Mum in London

After running some more in the big soft play area, 
it was finally time for blowing the candles 
and handing over the party bags 
to 22 very excited {and exhausted} children. 

The party was a big success with parents and children alike, 
and the little ones had heaps of fun. 

The two hour duration is more than enough 
for the children to play and enjoy the facilities 
and for parents to have a chat 
and then go home with an exhausted child 
who is guarantee to nap all the excitement off.

In short, what we call a win-win situation!

In a nutshell: a stress-free way to host a child's birthday party 
while making sure everyone has fun. 

Eddie Catz party, from £13.50 per child, suitable for children up to age 10.

Discosure: Discount received. 
All views and wording my own. 
Many thanks to Eddie Catz Wimbledon for a fantastic party. 
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