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Ealing Life

I wish that there had been such a thing as Mush when I had my Daughter in 2012. Let me take you back just five years ago, of course we had Facebook, all the usual NCT meet ups and playgroups that were an opportunity to make new Mum friends, but there certainly wasn’t an app quite like Mush.

Take a look at this photo below. What comes to your mind when you see this image? Happy first time Mum? Friendly, sociable Mum who has lots of friends? Well, no that wasn’t actually the case.

In reality when I first had my Daughter I didn’t actually know any other Mums in the Ealing area. I felt isolated and lonely. You see before I was a Mum my life did not revolve around my local neighbourhood at all. I worked in another part of London and commuted on a daily basis, so actually my network of friends were spread out all over London.

When I became a Mum it was definitely a shock to my system. I realised it was not feasible to be meeting up with friends on the other side of London with a young baby. What I really needed was a local support network of like minded Mums. Some people might say well surely that is easy you just turn up at your local baby group and connect with another Mum over coffee and cake? Well actually it wasn’t that simple if I am honest.

Sometimes when I went to baby groups or classes the Mums who were already there had their own little clique and weren’t really that interested in me. Or on other occasions my Daughter was either crying or when she was a bit older was all over the place, I felt like I couldn’t take my eyes off her. It was hard to concentrate and actually hold a decent conversation with another Mum.

In the end I was lucky and met my perfect Mum friend in a random meeting in a Marks & Spencer Cafe and that was the solution to my situation. However not everyone can find friends that way. According to a recent poll conducted by ChannelMum.com 90% of Mums feel lonely.

This is where Mush comes in. It is a free app that you can download from the App Store or Google Play. From the comfort of your sofa you can search for a local Mum who has a similar age child to you or even a Mum who is pregnant. You can send them a message and arrange to meet up and you will also find Mush-ups where groups of Mums might meet up at a local coffee shop or child friendly venue.

The app has a great facility where other Mums can write a review about child friendly venues from cafes, playgroups and shops. That way you can find out where other Mush Mums like to hang out and what top tips they have. You will also find Mush Guides which provide entertaining reading on a wide variety of topics.

I’m currently in the process of organising an event for local Mush Mums to get together in Ealing. So keep your eyes peeled for details on social media and over on the Mush app

Disclaimer – I am currently a Mush Mum Ambassador and I am championing the app in my local area of Ealing, West London.

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Saturday evening is usually our family night out where we like to enjoy a meal together, so we are always looking for somewhere new to try. So when Bob’s Cafe opened in Ealing we couldn’t wait to try out their menu!

One of the most important factors for us is that any resturant we go to has to be child friendly and Bob’s definitely is. It is an all day bistro serving a variety of food in an American/French style. On arrival my Daughter was given a colouring sheet and crayons and the staff made an effort to speak to all of us and made us feel very welcome. They offer a menu specially designed for children and my Daughter was very pleased with her beef burger served with veggies and fries priced at £4.95 I thought that was good value.

The atmosphere was lively and perfect for a casual Saturday evening meal. We loved the fact the front doors were wide open and were lucky the evening was warm and sunny. We almost felt like we were dining al fresco on the continent! We decided on an appetiser to share and were impressed with the tasty crunch tiger prawns (£5.95).

Our main courses arrived swiftly afterwards and we all really enjoyed what we ordered. I couldn’t resist the buttermilk chicken kiev schnitzel (£12.95) and my husband enjoyed a tasty salmon, black sesame and sushi rice salad (£12.95).

To finish my Daughter tucked into the simply delicious churros served with chocolate dipping sauce (£2.95). The portion was perfect for a child, plus I have to admit I did try one! Both myself and my Husband had a coffee to finish the meal off and I have to say it was excellent! Served hot and strong just how I like it!

We had a lovely family evening at Bob’s Cafe, Ealing. I would highly recommend it for a relaxed family meal out, plus I could see there were highchairs available for younger children and I also noticed there were good clean baby changing facilitates too, this is something that I know when my Daughter was younger was really important to me.

Bob’s Cafe is at 31 Haven Green, Ealing, W5 2NX, just a short walk from Ealing Broadway train station. They also have branches in Queen’s Park and Muswell Hill.

Don’t forget to follow them on social media too!

Twitter @bobscafes

Facebook @bobscafes

Instagram @bobscafes

Disclosure: I was given a complimentory voucher by the cafe which covered payment for part of my meal. The above is an honest review of my experience and reflects my own opinions.

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What do you do on a rainy day? Go to a soft play venue of course! I’m sure many parents out there are all too familiar with hours spent watching their little ones climb, tumble and go up and down slides for hours on end! So here is my handy guide to all my favourite venues near to Ealing.

Topsy Turvy World – Brentcross

Topsy Turvy World, has been our go to favourite soft play venue for a while now. The reason being that it is not too big and over whelming like some venues can be. Also as it is within the Brentcross Shopping Centre you can park all day for free! So we often make a day of it. Maybe visit the soft play in the morning and then do some shopping in Brentcross and then it’s on to have lunch in one of the many restaurants.

Topsy Turvy World has different zones for a variety of age groups. Ranging from a specially designated area for babies/toddlers, to a play zone for pre-schoolers and then the big play frame for children up to 12 years.

 

Bramleys Big Adventure – Ladbroke Grove

Bramleys Big Adventure is located just under the Westway Flyover and is a short drive from Ealing. Parking is easy as you can use the pay and display car park at the Westway Sports Centre.

There is a separate babies and under 5’s play area, plus all the usual play frames, slides and ball pools.

Eddie Catz – Putney 

Eddie Catz on Putney High Street is another place we would recommend. It has a designated area for under 3’s and a larger play frame for children up to the age of 8 years.

It has a slightly different variation in the fact that they offer access to interactive games (which are included in the price) from air hockey to table football. They also have a dressing up and reading zone.

For parents there are free newspapers, magazine and Wifi available. Parking is not available on site, so you would need to park in the local shopping centre which is near by.

Heathrow Play Gym – Feltham

Heathrow Play Gym is not your usual soft play venue, as it is actually a fully functioning gymnastics club, which when not in use it runs as a play gym. It is suitable for toddlers up to the age of 7 years. Just bear in mind that each play session starts and ends on the hour, so if you turn up half way through a session you might be asked to wait. Also at busy times it is advisable to get there early as there is a limit to how many children they can have in the play gym at one time. There is also free parking on site.

We like it as it is somewhere a bit different and has many features that you won’t find in other venues such as trampolines, balance bars and a sensory area which is designed for interactive learning and relaxation. Plus our Daughter loves to watch the planes fly over in the car park, the aircraft are just landing and taking off so you won’t get a better view anywhere else!

Snakes and Ladders – Brentford

Snakes And Ladders is the nearest to Ealing, so is always on my back up list for a rainy day. It has plenty of free parking at the Wyevale Garden Centre and then it is about a 10 minute walk up to the venue.

We love the imaginary play zone, where you child can pretend to work in a shop, hospital or drive a bus. There is a designated under 5 play zone and also a recently opened outdoor area if the weather is good enough. My Daughter loves the wooden pirate ship and sand area.

 

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Some people might think that we have too many charity shops around Ealing, however they provide so many key functions within the local community. Not only are they giving a source of income to many worthwhile causes but they are also offering some people unpaid or paid work and of course encouraging us a society to re-use our clothes, shoes, books and numerous other items.

I love having a rummage through the rails as you never know what you might find, plus I always like to support our local shops and regularly donate toys and clothes that my Daughter has grown out of.

Here are my top tips for bagging a bargain at the charity shop.

  • Make a trip to your favourite shop on a regular basis. Be persistant the more you drop in the more likely your will find a real gem! Try to go at different times too as the staff might have just put some items out.
  • You really do need to invest some time if you are looking for that great find. So do have a good look through all the rails and dig a bit deeper.
  • Make sure you inspect your items carefully for damage, as your great buy may not be such a bargain if it has marks or stains. However most shops do have a returns policy.
  • Consider making a trip out to another nearby well healed area to visit a few charity shops. Ok the prices might be a bit higher but you will find higher quality labels. Our top places to go are: Barnes, Fulham, Notting Hill and Richmond.
  • Take a look at the fabric even if you don’t reconise the label if you spot something that is pure cashmere or silk it might be worth the buy.

 

  • This is my pick of the best charity shops in Ealing
  • Fara Ealing Kids  at 18 The Green, W5 5DA. This great little shop stocks everything from clothes, maternity wear, books, toys and buggies. Why buy brand new? When you can pick up a top quality bargain here! Plus the shop is open 7 days a week.
  • Mary’s Living and Giving Shop – Save The Children at 2 The Green, W5 2DA. Now one of my friends once walked past this shop and because the clothes looked so top quality she actually thought it was a boutique shop and not a charity shop! So this well presented shop is the place to go if you are looking for a higher end label. I have recently spotted outfits by: Hobbs, Whistles, LK Bennett, Reiss, Phase Eight and even some higher end designer labels. Their lovely window displays always catches my eye as I walk past and it seems that the staff there are a dab hand at creating a complete outfit including shoes and handbag to match.
  • Oxfam Bookshop  at 1 The Green, W5 5DA and you will also find just further down the road Oxfam Music & Audio. Both these shop are great for browsing and you will find some rare and collectables items too. Both shops stock children’s items and I have found some great used books and DVD’s at less than half the price you would pay new.
  • British Heart Foundation at 59 The Broadway, W13 9PB this is a great all round charity shop and I have noticed that occasionally there have been some really lovely ceramics and homeware items here. If you are looking for this type of thing the ones to go for are: Denby, Spode, Royal Doulton and Royal Worcester. I once found some lovely Beatrice Potter children’s china here too. So don’t be put off by the sometimes funny fusty smells of charity shops! Take a look and who knows what hidden treasure you might find?
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I would like to introduce to you to what we think is a real up and coming area of Ealing and that is St Mary’s Road. Over the past year I have noticed more and more local businesses springing up. Some people even call it “St Mary’s Village” and rightly so because I think it really does have that village atmosphere and community spirit to it. So here is my spotlight guide to where to go in this beautiful little part of Ealing.

Looking for your coffee fix?

Well you have a couple of choices here, my favourites are:

The originally named Moon and Maybe has a gorgeous styled interior, friendly helpful staff and best of all a little secret garden at the back. All we need now is the weather to enjoy this beautiful little spot! The coffee served here was spot on and I really enjoyed the toasted panini they serve up here. I must say we didn’t see any children while we were in there, but I see no reason why this venue would not be child friendly.

My next coffee top spot would be Munsons, this has been an Ealing coffee institution for some time now. Excellent coffee, cakes and pastries, plus for the up coming Spring/Summer months it is a great place to sit outside the front and watch the world go by.

On the look out for original gifts?

Well, look no further perhaps you have walked past this place on your way to South Ealing Tube and wondered what this shop is? Made In Venezuela is a boutique shop selling various crafts, arts and clothing all made in Venezuela. I really like the ethos of this shop as the owners are supporting locally people in this third world country, which means that if you buy from this shop you are supporting local people.

 

Looking for a tasty meal?

The Walpole established in 2001 and said to be Marco Pierre White’s favourite restaurant. It might be open only on Fridays and Saturday nights for Dinner, but is well worth the wait!

Looking for some tasty French food?

Here you can find a little bit of France right here in Ealing! The French Gourmet store opened it’s doors late last year and continues to supply the residents of Ealing with all the best produce direct from France.

Lastly are you looking for a Vegan meal?

Newly open Vegan HQ will have your taste buds watering. With everything Vegan all under one roof, plus they are child and dog friendly too! You will find them serving up fast food, coffee and even sell a selction of groceries also. We are told it is the first organic vegan coffee shop in West London.

You can follow Vegan HQ on Intagram @veganhquk

I hope you enjoyed my little tour around South Ealing’s St Mary’s Road. Look out for another spotlight feature soon!

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So Jane, what did you do before you took over the business? 

My journey begun like so many other mothers I was juggling lots of different ventures. When my children were younger I started out with the Body Shop selling products via home parties. I have always had a creative side and started making jewellery from home which developed into selling at craft fairs. I also gained a regular income from piano teaching. This enable me to be flexible and work around my children.

How did you become involved with All Original?

I was involved from the start when Catherine the previous owner set up the business. I actually came up with the name four years ago. I initially rented a shelf to sell my jewellery and always enjoyed the creative design aspect of working in the shop, such as putting together the window displays. I could see the potential of the business and was given first refusal to buy it.

What changes have you made since taking over the business?

Since becoming the owner I have given the shop a re-fresh. Moving the counter to give a more open environment, improving the lighting with LED’s to focus on the displays, new shelving, plus creating a very visual written interpretation of what the shop’s ethos is. I have also introduced ten new designers.

What have you kept the same?

The focus is still very much on finding original products that are UK based, handmade and on a small scale. I always wanted to support individuals who are creating artisan products from their own homes. I want the products to have a story behind them, something unique that you are not going to see everywhere.

Why do you think businesses like All Original are so important?

It is hugely important it is what the people of Ealing want. Rumbles gift shop closed down and went online on the 14th February 2017, which is a big loss to the community. Shopping locally keeps our high streets unique.

What makes you proud about your business?

It is the unique talent that we have found, and that we are supporting artisan designers and building our business upon it.

What are your hopes and dreams for the future?

I want All Original to be the destination in Ealing to find the perfect gift. And to keep sourcing new talent. Maybe another All Original opening somewhere else, watch this space!

All Original can be found at: 20 The Green, Ealing, W5 5DA. Open 10:00-18:00 daily and Sundays 11:00-16:00

Follow All Original on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram @alloriginal2017

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