Tag

Days Out

My spotlight series focuses on different areas of London and this week I would like to introduce you to Pitshanger Lane, Ealing. I find it amazing that lots of people I have met who have lived in Ealing for a while have never ventured to this part of Ealing! Pitshanger Lane has a village atmosphere that I don’t think you will find anywhere in Ealing. Previously crowned the winner of The Great British High Street in 2015. There is no shortage of local independent businesses all along the Lane and there really is a community spirit too! So let me take you on a little tour and I will point out a few of my favourite places. I hope this will encourage you to go and visit this lovely part of Ealing! If you would like to get there by bus then you catch either the E2 or E9 from Ealing Broadway.

Where to Shop

If you love to shop then you have come to the right place! Pitshanger Lane has an abundance of independent shops and boutiques to suit every taste. My particular favourites are:

Frank & Salvi

64 Pitshanger Lane, W5 1QX

Ladies clothing and accessories boutique. Selling a gorgeous range of smart and casual pieces that you are unlikely to see anyone else wearing! From mainly British and European designers. Owned and run by the lovely Francesca.

The Pitshanger Book Shop  

141 Pitshanger Lane, W5 1RH

I love a good book shop and the fact that The Pitshanger Book Shop is independent makes it even more attractive to me, as I love to support local businesses. There is an excellent choice of fiction and non-fiction. Plus a wonderful selection of children’s books, toys and art/craft materials and activities. So if you are ever stuck for a child’s birthday present this is definitely the place to go! They also stock greeting cards and gift wrap too.

The shop supports local schools and also holds events for authors to read their own work, so do check out their website for upcoming events.

Mooch

120 Pitshanger Lane, W5 1QP

Mooch has two shops in Ealing, the other one situated on Northfields Avenue. This independent gift shop sells a fabulous range of jewellery, local prints, clothing and some lovely little finds that you will be hard pushed to find anywhere else! A really great range of children and baby gifts, toys , accessories and clothes too! The shop is a real treasure trove and I absolutely love having a browse.

Where to Eat & Drink

There are numerous restaurants, cafes and takeaways on Pitshanger Lane. I am currently working my way through them all! Anyone who knows me, will be aware that one of my favourite pastimes is sipping a cappuccino in a well placed coffee shop!

Cinnamon On The Lane

90 Pitshanger Lane

W5 1AX

The cupcakes you see in the picture above are adorned with jelly sweets and are famous in these parts! Local children always ask for them. My Daughter included! This coffee shop is very child friendly and there is plenty of room for buggies. The owner herself even commented that many Mum’s come here because they know it is a relaxed place and won’t feel self-conscious breast feeding.

The other bonus is the secret garden out the back!

Harrison’s Delicatessen and Vintners

60 Pitshanger Lane, W5 1QY

If you are looking for a great selection of cheese, wine and other delicious deli treats then you must try Harrison’s. They have tables out the front if you would like to relax with a glass of wine and perhaps a charcuterie platter! The shop was opened in 2010 by Belinda Harrison and has become a firm favourite with locals and visitors to the area.

 Pitshanger Lane for Children

This is my favourite part of course, as I love to talk about anything to do with kids! There is plenty going on for children on The Lane, so here are my top picks!

Capelli Belli 

38 Pitshanger Lane, W5 1QY

Innovation Dance Studio and Boutique

96 Pitshanger Lane, W5 1QX

Innovation Dance Studio teaches RAD Ballet syllabus, ISTD Modern and Tap and UDO Street Dance. they also offer open classes for children, which include street dance classes for 4 years and upwards, jazz/musical theatre classes, and baby classes for 9+ months. They also offer adult classes too. Next to the studio there is a boutique shop selling dance wear and other children’s fashion.

Explore Learning 

113-115 Pitshanger Lane, W5 1RH

Explore Learning provides private Maths and English tuition to children. Their programmes are tailored to each child’s need with expert tutors. They offer preparation with SATs and the 11 Plus. I popped in to have a chat with the teachers and found them to be very friendly and approachable. They offer a free trial, so I have booked my Daughter in to find out more for myself.

Other things going on in and around Pitshanger Lane

On Saturday 10th June St Barnabas Church is hosting Jazz on The Lane. At 10:30am there will be a lively Jazz Mass to celebrate the festival of St Barnabas. Then in the afternoon from 1-6pm there will be Jazz in the Garden. The Headlining act will be Rum Buffalo and a line up of other local bands. It’s free admission and suitable for families.

Party in the Park return on Sunday 1st July in Pitshanger Park. It promises to be another wonderful family day out. Many local business have stalls and there is real community vibe. Last year there were fairground rides, a dance show and food stalls too!

I hope you enjoyed reading about this lovely part of Ealing. Maybe it has inspired you to go and have a look at all The Lane has to offer ? Do let me know which are your favourite businesses and shops on Pitshanger Lane?

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What can you do with the kids on a cold Sunday afternoon? Go and take advantage of some of the great Children’s Theatre currently running at Watermans Arts Centre in Brentford. Last weekend we went to see Jay Foreman’s Disgusting Songs for Revolting Children. I really wasn’t sure what to expect from this performance, as I haven’t seen any children’s comedy before. However I was pleasantly surprised!

I didn’t expect to actually find it that funny, but I was laughing along with my Daughter and laughing even louder at some jokes that maybe she didn’t get. My Daughter is almost 6 years old so I would say it is suitable from 5 years and up depending on the child of course.

Jay Foreman has performed four sell out shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and by all accounts he has a real talent for entertaining children and adults alike! Some critics have even compared him to the comic genius that was Spike Milligan and I would definitely agree with that. we both found his show absolutely hallarious!

What I particularly enjoyed about his show was the way he engaged with the audience. My Daughter found it particularly funny that Jay asked the audience to replace a round of applause with a loud raspberry!

He mixes rhymes and songs with strange noises, we really liked the following songs: My car runs on caterpillar sick which gives a nod to being more environmentally friendly. Grandma which talks about trying to get you to eat unbranded expired food! Then there is The Sooty Show which really took me back to my childhood!

Since we have been going to the theatre on a more regular basis. I can really see the benefits to all of us as a family. Not only does it give you the opportunity to do something together, but it also means that you and your child are introduced to new topics for discussion.

I actually hadn’t laughed as much as I did last weekend in ages! We both left the theatre in an upbeat mood proving laughter really is the best therapy, especially on a cold dark afternoon!

Watermans have lots more Children’s Theatre and activities coming up over the Easter holidays. So head over to their website and check out their Children’s Family Theatre Spring Brochure for all the listings. If you can book soon, as these performances tend to get booked up well in advance.

All views are my own and are an honest reflection of the show I saw. I was given complimentary ticket in return for a review.

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My family and I have been going to Winter Wonderland every year since it first opened in 2007. Over the years it has become a place that we always visit, as the build up to Christmas begins. It started off 10 years ago as an ice rink in Hyde Park with a selection of Christmas markets. It has grown over the years to become a destination to visit and I know many families who have made their visit part of their holiday traditions.

Winter Wonderland is open every day (expect Christmas Day) from 10am to 10pm until the 1st January 2018. Admission is free and is a short walk from the following underground stations: Green Park (this has step free access useful to know if you have a pushchair), Paddington, Victoria, Hyde Park Corner and Knightsbridge. I usually avoid getting off at Marble Arch as this can be a very busy station.

This year there is so much more to do! It is definitely worth picking up one of the free maps available, as the site it’s self is now a lot bigger. Or alternately why not get familiar with what is available before you go via the website, that way you can plan which attractions you really want to visit. The Winter Wonderland website also has a handy feature where they have suggestions for various days and evenings out. Perfect if you are going with children or alternatively for a romantic date night!

There are so many amazing rides to try out. Remember you will need to purchase tokens which are available to buy from the various token booths on site. Make sure you use up all the ones you have brought, as they are only valid on the day of purchase. Each token costs £1.00, so to give you an idea of the cost children’s rides start at £2.00, with other rides starting at £3.00. With some of the children’s rides you will need to accompany your child, so do factor in that too.

There are a number of pre-bookable attractions including: The Ice Rink, The Magical Ice Kingdom, Cinderella On Ice, Bar Hütte, Zippos Christmas Circus, Cirque Beserk, Bar Ice and the Sooty Show. It is worth booking these shows as soon as you can, that way you can get the times and dates you want. My top tip would be make sure you allow extra time to get to the right part of The Winter Wonderland. As if you are attending a show, it will depend on which entrance you enter at, as it can be fair walk with little ones in tow!

This year we went to the Sooty Christmas Show and I am not sure who enjoyed it more? Myself or my Daughter! I think it goes back to the fact that when I was a child Sooty and Sweep were very popular and I remember going to see them (yes I am a child of the 1970’s!), so at that time Matthew Corbett was the puppeteer. The show this time hosted by Richard Cadell. It was very much the simple slap stick humour that I remember from my childhood. There was plenty of water pistol action and silly jokes. My Daughter couldn’t stop laughing and neither could I!

I would throughly recommend this show to families with children from toddlers up to around 6 years old. The show lasts approximately 45 minutes, so a really good length of time for children of this age group. An adult ticket is priced at £8.50 and a child ticket is £5.00. Children of 2 and under if they are not taking up a seat will not need a ticket.

We also went to Zippos Christmas Circus, which was an excellent family experience. Incorporating all the fun of the circus, from comedy with clown like characters to acts that perform acrobatics to escapism. Again a really managable length for young children the show lasted approximately 45 minutes. Ticket prices vary according to if it is peak or off peak times.

My Daughter particularly loved the dancing snow bears, courtesy of Britain’s Got Talent finalist Vadik and the Bears.

You will be spoilt for choice when it comes to eating and drinking at the Winter Wonderland. There are so many options to choose from including plenty of indoor areas for when it get’s chilly. I particularly loved the atmosphere in the Bavarian village. You just can’t go wrong with a hotdog and a mulled wine to get you in the festive spirit!

We are planning another visit in-between Christmas and New Year, as there are still lots more things we would like to experience!

I received complimentary tickets to the shows and some rides in return for a review. All opinions are my own and are a honest reflection of my recent visit.

 

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If there is one activity that my Daughter is always asking to do it is trampolining! We have a trampoline in our garden and it gets a lot of use, but she seems to enjoy this activity even more when we visit a trampoline park. There is a new venue to try out and it is only a short journey from Ealing. So we put on our jumping socks this Half Term and decided to go and try Flip Out.

Situated at Staples Corner Retail Park there is plenty of free parking right outside the venue. I would recommend booking online as this way you can ensure you are booked for the most convienent time for you, plus it is at this point you can sign the waiver form online which saves you time at the venue. However you can just turn up on the day, but do bear in mind that sessions start on the hour.

The park has a variety of different sessions to suit age range and ability. For example they offer sessions for children under the age of 5 called Mini Flippers, this is where toddlers and parents can bounce together learning new skills and gaining confidence on the trampolines. For older children they offer a class called Little Ninjas. Then for anyone over the age of 15 there is Flip Fit a great way to burn calories. On the day we attended it was a standard free jumping session, which is priced at £12.50 per person.

We loved Flip Out because it had some different features to some of the other trampoline parks we have been to. Of course there were absolutely loads of different trampolines to bounce on, plus bars to balance on with soft foam to fall in. For older children/adults there is the stunt box area and wall runners.

We also couldn’t get enough of the laser maze challenge, which is included in the price and you really do feel like you are staring in Mission Impossible dodging the laser beams! After all this adventure we enjoyed a drink and snack in the cafe. It is also worth pointing out there is free Wifi, baby changing facilities and the lockers are also complimentary.

While we were there we also looked at the party rooms. They have two rooms one has an underwater theme and the other one is woodland themed, so could be a great option for a birthday party next year.

We really enjoyed our morning at Flip Out and are looking forward to our next visit very soon!

You can follow Flip Out on social media to stay up to date with their latest offers
Facebook @flipoutbrentcross
Twitter @flipoutbrebtcross
Instagram @flipoutbrentcross

Disclaimer
We received free entry to Flip Out in return for a review. Everything you read is an honest reflection of our visit and all opinions are my own.

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What do you do on a rainy day in London? Well, visit one of the many wonderful Museums of course! We are so lucky to live so near to all that London has to offer children and one of my personal favourites is The London Transport Museum. It is situated just a short walk from Covent Garden Tube station. It is great value for two reasons, firstly children go free and the adult ticket entitles you to come back for free as many times as you like for the next twelve months.

The Museum is an excellent choice for children aged two years and up, because there is so much for them to do and is really interactive. Along with all the wonderful vintage vehicles (many of which you can actually get into) I particularly liked the All Abroad Family Play Zone. Your child can really get involved from actually driving a simulated tube train, to helping out in the lost property office and even repairing a train as you can see my Daughter really got into her roles below!

Another part of the museum I thought was great is that they have a large wooden train track and London related landmarks models available for children to sit down on the floor and play. My little one really enjoyed this and could have happily sat there for hours. The museum puts on special activities during school holiday, so be sure to check out the website for that.

After our visit to the Museum we were looking for somewhere family friendly to have a spot of lunch, when we stumbled across The Wildwood Restaurant. I would really recommend it as it was really set up for children. A good children’s menu, child sized cutlery and cups. Plus they provided colouring/puzzle sheets and pencils. The staff were very friendly and welcoming. They genuinely seemed to enjoying interacting with us. All of these little touches make for a relaxing meal, as it can be stressful sometimes taking your child out in a central London restaurant. Wildwood is somewhere I would return to and look  out for other branches elsewhere in the country.

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One of our highlights this Bank Holiday weekend was a trip to KidZania at Westfield Shopping Centre, White City, London I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I have to say the experience totally exceeded my expectations.

We arrived at ‘check in’ and it was just like we were about to board a flight at the airport. From the signs, to the costumes of the staff, it really did look like a real life airport. We were given a map and an excellent explanation of what KidZania was all about.

We were all fitted with wrist tags. These tags are used throughout the experience not only to track which of the experiences your child is involved in, but also if at anytime your child looses sight of you the device is able to tell you where they are. Also your child can not leave the premises without being with you, this is a brilliant safety feature. A child of over the age of eight years can be left at KidZania without an adult in attendance while you go about your shopping. You get a total of four hours there, it seems like a lot of time but in reality it went really fast and we didn’t mange to complete even half of the activities.

How does it work?

When you arrive your child is given 50 Kidzos (this is the currency used in KidZania), you can earn or buy more if you wish.

There are a total of 60 different establishments your child can get involved in. The thing to remember from the start is that you are not generally permitted in the room that the activities are going on in. You can watch from the sidelines or can look in from the large glass windows. It is really great that you are not in there distracting your child. You are getting a rare glimpse by seeing them being completely immersed in an activity and for my Daughter she was totally enjoying the moment and almost forgot we were there!

Each job or activity either has a cost to participate or your child is paid a salary when completed. I think this is teaching them a very valuable lesson that to do something fun you first have to work for your money.

Extra facilities:

  • Designated parents room that is only for over 18’s. Here you will find a cafe, that even serves alcohol, lots of comfortable sitting and even some aeroplane flat beds that you can relax on! Myself and my Husband made good use of them!
  • An area for children under the age of 4 years, so younger siblings can come in too.
  • There are various cafe and restaurants within KidZania, we had our lunch at GBK.
  • Your child can have their Birthday Party here and they have a designated party room,which when we were there was all set up for a party, there was even a throne for the party child! (I’m already eyeing this up for our next party).
  • Professional photographers around within the activities and can take pictures of your child that can be purchased on leaving. These are good to have as you can not take photographs in the activities room.

We did the Following Activities:

Fire and Rescue Department, Fire Fighter and Fire Inspector – This is great fun, costumes on and the children get into actual mini fire engine that drives them to a building on fire! They then use hoses with real water to put the fire out.

Mission Deli – Making Wraps. The children are shown how to make this product from scratch and you even receive your own pack of wraps to take home.

British Airway Aviation Training, Cabin Crew and Pilot – your child can dressed up in a Pilot costume and get to experience flying a plane, plus they can also learn about being Cabin Crew too.

Chocolate Factory, Chocolatiers – My little one could hardly wait to get to this experience. Children learn how chocolate is made.

Dance Club, Singer – My little singer performed ‘Shake It Off’ by Taylor Swift and won the Karaoke competition!

Beauty Salon, Stylist and Customer – Each child gets to use a dummy head to style hair, something like a Girls World from the 1980’s a toy that I always wanted!

Supermarket, Cashier and Customer – this reminded me of the Supermarket Sweep game that was once on TV. Each child got a list of groceries and zoomed around the shop with their own mini trolley looking for items.

Face Painting/Temporary Tattoos – by this time she was getting very tired but she managed to get a cute ladybird tattoo and a lovely cat face paint.

Citizen Passport (cost £5) – this involves getting stamps in your Passport and in turn you will end up with discounts and priority access to KidsZania in the future. For more information see B.kidzanian

My Top Tips

  • Get there early, otherwise the queue can be longer at check in.
  • Buy tickets online to be sure that you will get entry that day and use any potential discounts.
  • Remember your child has to be four years old to participate in most activities and it helps if they are confident enough to cope with going into a room on their own.
  • Take a good look at the map when you arrive or before on the website and work out which jobs your child is really interested in doing and head to them first, otherwise it can be a bit overwhelming. Remember some activities are height or age restricted.
  • Allow at least four hours for your trip, take my word for it you won’t want to leave any earlier!
  • Make sure your child does plenty of jobs that earn them money.

My overall opinion

I absolutely loved this place and so did my Daughter and Husband. By the end of the day I felt that we had a really fun-filled day out. The place was very clean and the staff could not be more helpful.

I saw some real enthusiasm from the staff this included the Town Crier who made an announcement involving us. There was flash mob style dancing from other staff and even the general music playing in the background was upbeat and added to the fun atmosphere. I will definitely planning another visit soon and my Daughter is already asking when we are going back!

Disclosure

I was lucky enough to receive tickets in return for my review. All opinions are my own and are an honest reflection of our visit in August 2016.

Keep in contact……

If you like my review then please do comment and if you have been to Kidzania let me know what your opinion was?

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