1 Skylanders Trap Team to review.
1 very excited boy.
More coming soon! We will give a joint mummy-son review for this one!
1 Skylanders Trap Team to review.
1 very excited boy.
More coming soon! We will give a joint mummy-son review for this one!
If you fancy exposing your children to ballet in a street-cred and accessible way, then Ballet Revolución may be for you.
The show, at Sadler's Wells Peacock Theatre, fuses contemporary dance, ballet and hip-hop from a company of Cuban dancers and live musicians. It includes tracks from Bruno Mars, Usher, Beyoncé, Prince, and Rihanna, among others, and the choreography is influenced by Cuban, African and Spanish dance.
Guidelines say minimum age is five. We're taking Chiswick Boy, six, to see it and we will let to know how we get on…
Tuesday 7 – Saturday 25 October 2014
Performances at 7.30pm, Sat & Sun matinees at 2.30pm
Tickets: £15 – £45
Ticket Office: 0844 412 4322 or www.sadlerswells.com
It's Friday – the day I don't work outside the home – and my indulgent weekly coffee shop visit.
Today I'm in Gail's on Chiswick High Rd. My rules for a good coffee shop are strict but simple – has to have great coffee, have a good vibe, get served quickly by friendly people, and needs to have easily accessed wifi.
I'm currently munching through a gorgeous maple glazed pecan scone, and there's a serious delay on my coffee which is the only gripe so far.
However, the coffee's now arrived and I'm going to settle down to a bit of blogging.
Christmas is coming
For some reason I've got really stressed about Christmas this week – even though I should be concentrating on Halloween, especially with all the lovely pumpkins on display here in the coffee shop.
I've become addicted to Mumsnet's Christmas forums and hearing about all this super organised people who have already done their christmas shopping is putting the christmas shakes into me.
A sprinkling of magic
If you read my blog regularly you'll know how obsessed I am about Christmas. For me it's all about family and coming together, with a big sprinkle of 'I believe in magic' fairy dust. This year I've managed, through a feat of organisation which still impresses myself, got tickets to see the grotto at Harrods.
Christmas isn't about big presents for us – although of course stockings and the thrill of tracking down perfect gifts is an enjoyable part of it. I may be sentimental but it's about that indefinable spirit of Christmas.
One of our favourite bits is packing up the shoeboxes with gifts through Operation Christmas Child. We've done this for about 10 years, ,but now that Chiswick Boy is six he can really appreciate what we're doing, and have that connection with the people we're choosing gifts for.
So back to the coffee…
I'm feeling a bit more like I can conquer the day after sitting here. Listening to people chatting near me, seeing a gorgeous toddler gaze transfixed out of the window, and seeing other people deep in thought tapping away on Macbooks… all these help me feel a bit more connected to the world out there, and shake off my working week until Monday.
Next step is to head into Three and try and sort out a phone for my iphone which was lost/probably stolen a few weeks ago. Been putting it off because it's so complicated to get a phone these days, with all the bewildering array of offers.
Luckily, getting a coffee is much easier. Thanks Gail's, and here's my scores:
There's little more satisfying as a parent than sitting next to your child and hearing them squeal 'wow! this is the most awesome thing ever.'
That's exactly what happened to us last Friday when we were invited by the Japanese Siro-A to watch their Leicester Square Theatre show. You may have seen the posters if you go up the escalators in the Tube – but you won't have learnt much about what the show is about.
This is why I'm delighted to write this review of the show – as I would never have taken my family to see it otherwise – and would have missed out on an amazing experience.
Dance meets technology
It's pretty hard to describe the show – my best shot is that it's a fusion of dance and technology, used to hilarious, energetic and family-friendly effect.
Picture this: 1 dancer in a white costume stands in front of three white sheets. He's filmed doing this and this filmed figure is superimposed onto two of the sheets – so we have one real dancer and two film versions.
Then the real dancer begins to weave in and out of holes in the sheets, appearing and disappearing. So do the film versions. So that it's a constant, pleasantly bewildering sequence of dancers (real and film) moving in and out of (real and film) holes in sheets.
Or picture this: Before the show, the dancers take photographs of willing audience members in different poses. As part of the show they project all these different poses onto different surfaces on the stage – all to catchily pounding dance music.
Or finally, picture this: A dancer acts out famous scenes from a range of films, interacting only with a blank sheet and superimposed words that are on them ('cliff', 'girl', 'truck' etc).
Perfect, captivating family, kid and grown-up entertainment
At around an hour long this is the perfect length for a family show. And it felt longer – in a good way!
I was really surprised there weren't more kids in the audience – which was otherwise a wide mix of people, including what is obviously a cult Japanese following.
So I'm really pleased to be able to recommend this show as family entertainment. Take your kids. They will thank you. It's a really informal, hypnotic and often funny experience – with loud enough music so that when your child screams 'it's so amazing', nobody tuts!
Venue: Leicester Sq Theatre (next to the prince charles cinema, just off leicester sq)
Dates: Showing now up to 11 January 2015.
Prices: £15 child, £20 adult, £50 family
I'm continuing my series of Chiswick coffee shop reviews, by sitting in Le Pain Quotdien with a bowl of coffee and a brioche bun. Purely in the interests of research, you understand. :-)
It's one of those amazing Autumnal sunny days in Chiswick today. I'm sat just inside the doorways which are pulled open, to create an open plan space between the main cafe and the front courtyard area.
Price and peace
It's a little pricey – the brioche bun itself is £2.60, so I'm going to be making the most of it and tap away at my ipad for a good hour or so. For me, one key part of judging a cafe is how long they leave you to sit before politely pestering you to buy another drink. (Note – 30 minutes later, still here and not pestered yet!)
I should say that the waitress has seemed lovely so far and I can't imagine her pestering anyone!
There's an exceptionally lovely buzz in here. It seems extremely continental. The kind of place I love to frequent when I visit Paris, my spiritual home. Of course this is a French cafe, so I wonder if that has somehow permeated the atmosphere?
I'm slightly distracted by the guy at the table next to me who has the most gorgeous looking platter of meats, sun dried tomatoes and olives on a wooden block. Please someone, take me for a plate of this at le pain quotdien one day!
Chalet School chic
Do you know another thing this cafe reminds me of? Are you familiar with the Chalet School books? I devoured these in my school days and still read one from time to time. The coffee here comes in bowls – and in the Chalet School they were always drinking milky coffee out of bowls and dipping milk rolls into them. In celebration of that, I've just been dipping my brioche into my bowl of coffee.
I feel utterly blessed to be able to sit here, with the sun casting gorgeous pools of golden light on the comfortingly worn slabs outside. And the equally warm chatter surrounding me. My son is safely ensconced in school, and I have a well-deserved Friday to spend like this. I do feel a bit guilty for indulging in this Friday coffee shop ritual. So please tell me if you enjoy these reviews – it will make it all seem worth while and will make me feel less guilty!
(Or are mothers destined to feel guilty whatever we do?!)
Le Pain Quotdien, Chiswick High Road:
The damage: Cappuccino (£2.50) Brioche Bun (£2.60)
Beware: Cappuccino only has one shot as standard. So you'll need to ask for an extra shot.
Wifi: Yes – and no password required. Top marks for this civilised approach!
Plugs for low-battery: Not visible.
Coffee rating – taste: 2.5/5
Coffee rating – size: 4/5
Coffee rating – presentation: 4/5 Great bowls – but as no choc on top would have liked a choc or biscuit on the side.
Coffee rating – crema (that lovely foamy sludge you get on top that makes a coffee a coffee): 3/5
Bun tastiness: 3/5 Very plain, but you do get a fab selection of proper jams in big pots to go with it which has bumped up the taste rating. And is a brilliant touch.
Reading matter: 0/5 no papers
Staff friendliness: 4/5 impressively quick and attentive service.
The regular feature highlighting the folks that make Chiswick tick. From stay at home parents, to businesses – we all help make Chiswick such a lovely place to live.
This time we hear from Matt, director of local firm Whitehall Construction. Find out why Chiswick House rambles, rugby and renovations help make up his Chiswick life!
How long have you been in Chiswick? 6 years
Favourite place to unwind in Chiswick? The Bollo on Bollo Lane
What's your local tip? For a lovely Sunday morning breakfast visit Kitchen & Pantry, Chiswick High Road
And your hidden gem? It has to be Chiswick House Gardens, great for a dog walk as well.
Vacation or staycation? Interesting, we love Cornwall but due to drive tend to stay so would have to be a Vacation
If you weren't in Chiswick where would you be? In West Berkshire in the country side.
Tell us about Whitehall Construction, in a nutshell….Whitehall Construction is a West London building company that specialises in New Build, Renovations, Extensions, Lofts and Basements.
Apart from you business what other hats do you wear? Love throwing that egg shaped ball around, Rugby…
What's on your bedside table? Always the dog collar for my Jack Russell and TV remotes. I cannot read in bed as just fall asleep.
Is there a book in your bag? No book I am afraid but plenty of house drawings as always reviewing them.
Is your glass half full or half empty? Half Full, I always look positive to the future as it me who is driving it.
Secret talent? Not sure, good question, always being positive no matter the situation. Not sure if that's a talent or just me being positive the whole time…
Matt Hedger, Director, Whitehall Construction
Want to be featured on my blog? Whether you're a local business or a groovy stay at home mother, Email me at chiswickyahoo.co.uk
Friday is my coffee time. I drink coffee the rest of the week too – a lovely strong cafetiere brew, brought to me in bed (I know!) with an indulgent splodge of whippy cream on top.
But on Fridays, my precious day when I don't go to the office, I go straight from the school run to Chiswick High Rd, and allow myself the guilty pleasure of catching up on my blog posts while sitting in a cafe.
I've always loved going to cafes. Even when I was growing up in the Midlands, where 'going for coffee' wasn't really a thing in the 80s.
My mum, who travelled waywardly round Europe in her 20s and was a bit more continental in outlook, got the whole 'going for coffee' thing.
Saturdays were the chance to wander 'down town' and dive into a cafe. Coffee then was essentially a splash of instant, with a lot of boiling water and that strange froth that came out of coffee machines back then in the 80s. Not unpleasant I have to say – not like the rubbish that passes for coffee in cheap cafes these days.
When I inherited my mum's itchy feet and did my own wayward travelling around Europe in my 20s, going for coffee took on a different form. It was a relatively cheap way of finding somewhere warm and snug to spend a few hours, with a book and a journal to hand. (No twitter or blogging then! Contact came via poste restante, picked up from the main post office and whatever big city I'd just landed in.)
At university there was the late night caffeine overdosing that was done once a week to help combat the weekly 'essay crisis'. Writing and drinking filter coffee until the very early hours, watching healthy Oxford rowers run down the meadow for their 6am row, while I was just getting into bed for a three hour sleep before my tutorial.
After university, in those dead months living in a bedsit in Muswell Hill, as yet unemployed and very very broke, coffee drinking again became a treat. A coffee was lingered over, as I spent hours listlessly flicking through the Media Guardian for jobs.
In the golden years – those years when finally I had a consistent salary, and no ties unless you count a live in boyfriend – coffee drinking became a regular indulgent pastime. Saturday mornings meant strolling from Camden to Charlotte Street and Eco, where we'd start off with croissants and mochas – and stay there reading the papers and buying more coffees until it was time to buy one of their pizzas.
When I had my son, and was at the stage where I felt confident enough to roll him into town, balancing the plethora of bags and accessories that you think you need just to get a baby from A to B and back again.. then I would visit coffee shops every day. There were my lifeline. People would coo over my baby and if he fell asleep I would have a couple of hours to pore over newspapers, and get a pang of homesickness every time I saw London mentioned, or saw a picture of Big Ben. (Because for my son's first years I decamped to Yorkshire).
Now that I'm back at full time work and my son is in school, indulgent coffee time is rare. But these Fridays are my precious moments. I felt guilty at first – spending a fiver on a coffee and a bun when I could be spending it on socks for my son or saving towards holiday spend.
But coffee shops are about more than the coffee and the bun aren't they? Sitting here, in Tamp Coffee (a coffee shop I only noticed for the first time today), there's a buzz in the air, a palpable energy that murmurs 'you're here, you're in London, you're alive'. Groups of friends are chatting, a couple of stray birds like me are sat twiddling with phones or on ipads….there's some lovely music, stacattoed with the comforting clatter of crockery and the gentle hiss of steam.
I've decided that I'll put my Friday coffee jaunts to good use, and from now on will be blogging my review of each cafe I visit.
So here's Tamp Coffee, Devonshire Road:
The damage: Cappuccino (£2.60) Pain au raisin (£2.40)
Beware: 20p charge if less than £5 on a card payment
Plugs for low-battery: Yes
Coffee rating – taste: 5/5
Coffee rating – size: 2.5/5 (Small cups)
Coffee rating – presentation: 5/5 Lovely heart, and lovely brown cups
Coffee rating – crema (that lovely foamy sludge you get on top that makes a coffee a coffee): 5/5
Bun tastiness: 5/5 (nicest pain au raisin I've had – very gooey)
Reading matter: 3/5 nice local free rags, plus a couple of papers.
Staff friendliness: 4/5 (nice and pleasant)
It is a bit bonkers to write up last weekend, when we're about to hit the next one. But I'm sitting in my garden, and it's one of those gorgeous late September golden sunny days. So I'm feeling that I need to capture here as many happy Chiswick times as possible.
It's my way of trying to remember that it's the small moments that make up a family life, rather than the big earth-shattering events. It's good discipline for me to remember this – I feel so angsty sometimes, worrying about the big picture (what should I do with my life? No, really do with my life. Should we move back ooop North. Should we travel the world on a family gap year, or two, or several). That I need to remember to slow down and
plant smell the roses.
So last Friday was a special day in a selfish way as it was my birthday! I was very spoilt – home made drawings from Chiswick Boy, gooey card from Chiswick Man, and lots of lovely packages, with the little treats (paperbacks, shiny new notepads begging to be filled with notes) that we don't buy ourselves enough of.
My mum was also down for the weekend. Now I need to tell you here how hideously spoilt and loved I am – because every year my mum has given me one present for every year of my life. This was cute when I was 16, but now is outrageously epic now that I'm older than 16.
There's so much wrapping paper knocking about after family birthdays that it looks like Christmas morning. And I never wane of the thrill of opening a package.
I took mum to lunch at Cote Brasserie. We'd dilly dallied and by the time we got there were in one of those famished states. “Please, please,” I begged the waiter dramatically – “Bring us a bowl of olives before we order or we'll pass out.” He smiled with good humour and the olives appeared pronto.
The acoustics in Cote are clattering – and it was chocablock full, so there was lots of noise from the other tables. But that's part of the fun of eating out isn't it? Somebody was having a 70th birthday there and that's always lovely to see a big multi-generation family out for lunch.
I love going to lunch. It's a much nicer experience than going out for dinner – much less formal, and I feel you can take so much longer over your food. I had an entire roasted camembert for my main, and a flatbread with anchovies etc on for my starter.
Mum had the eggs benedict for a starter and the steak for main.
In the evening it was the 'making a cake' – Chiswick Man, Chiswick Boy and a school friend all in the kitchen, with the sounds of Chiswick Man just about holding it together. I think there was a lot of spoon licking and dropping going on, and every so often a sheepish looking boy would come out, having been banished to the bathroom to wash their hands again.
The cake was gorgeous. We played silly musical statues, and it was lovely.
Then I'd meant to go to the Kidsorted event on the Saturday but we all felt coldy :-( so ended up mooching about the house all Saturday feeling under the weather.
But Chiswick Man fired up the BBQ in the evening and we had one of those splendid September evenings I spoke about at the beginning. September has the added advantage of getting dark a bit earlier – so we could light the nightlights and chat by candle light, with the heady scent of flowers. And the roar of traffic from the road outside. That's the glorious mix of London for you.
What's on the cards for you this weekend? I'm looking forward to the Devonshire Road Street Party. And I'm hoping to pop in to the Chiswick Book Festival. Have a good one :-)
PS This weekend of course we'll still be praying and hoping that Alice is found safe and well. #findalice
So when I got sent a bag of Hartleys Jelly pots to review, I thought:
“That's nice enough. I'm sure Chiswick Boy will love them. Not that I'd ever buy jelly in a pot of course – have to make it up yourself don't you. At parties.”
Then I had one. Just to be sociable you understand.
And blimey – these were the tastiest, fruitiest, juiciest jellies I've ever tasted. They were simply delicious. They contain zero sugar too – which I've never bought in packets as I always thought it meant zero taste. Plus zero fat and none of those nasty artificial colours and flavourings.
You know what else? In my high and mighty, sniffy 'I'd never buy jelly in pots' attitude I'd forgotten the things about making real jelly:
1. The tears
2. The fact it's never set in time for the party
3. That my bunny jelly never looks like a bunny when I've walloped it onto the plate.
4. That you need to plan the thing a day in advance.
So I'm a convert… Plus I've seen that in some places they're on a half price offer – I saw them at Morrison's today for example at 25p until 21 Sep. I'll have a look at Waitrose tomorrow and see what price they are there.
Whether you're feeling pound rich, or feeling broke – here's my round up of what to do in Chiswick-ish in September. This is a hand picked selection – with the stuff that I genuinely want to go to myself. Living in london the choice can be bewildering so this has been cherry picked by me to make your life easier. :-)
This is my first monthly round up so I've gone for speed / short & sweet!! (I'm conscious that we are almost a week in already). More coming next month!
Worth getting a babysitter for
Sat 6 Sep, 6:45pm Kew the Movies – Top Gun
Free and fabulous
Sat 6 Sep from 10am, Back to School event with KIDsorted – sample free kids classes
Piccolo Play Centre, Duke Road, Chiswick, W4 2JR
Devonshire Road Street Party
Sat 13 Sep, from 11am
Sun 28 Sep, 11.00am – 4.15pm, Chiswick House Dog Show 2014
Chiswick House Gardens
Raid the piggy bank
Thurs 11 Sep- Mon 14, Chiswick Book Festival
Sat 13 Sep, 11am BOOKING ESSENTIAL (in my experience!), Earth to Echo at Watermans
Thurs 18 Sep, 1-4pm:Back to work event – from West London Mum and London Mothers
Crown and Anchor, Chiswick
Fri 19-21 Sep, River Weekender, Watermans
From 23 Sep, Lady Windermere's Fan, Tabard Theatre