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There are so many activity classes for babies and toddlers available locally in Ealing, so as a Mum it can be overwhelming at times to decided which one to go for. One of the aims of my blog is to provide honest and useful reviews to help parents decide where they should take their children. This week I was thrilled to be asked along to a Monkey Music class. I was able to find out more about how music can benefit a young child’s development.

I met up with Helly Summerly, who is the Principal Teacher for the Ealing and Acton area. I was able to see for myself what went on in a Monkey Music class. On the day I visited at Ealing Green Church, I watched the Rock ‘N’ Roll class which is aimed at babies from 3 months up to 12 months.

The venue is perfect for this sort of class. The church has plenty of space for buggies and baby changing facilities. Plus the acoustics of the building made Helly’s voice sound even more beautiful! The special thing for me about Monkey Music is that not only are some of the songs original, but the teacher is singing along with the music and interacting with the children.

What really struck me was that Helly the Teacher made sure that every child was included and made a special effort to get them to engage with her. There were so many smiling happy faces both from the babies and the parents. I notice that the children naturally crawled towards Helly and I think that says a lot.

I loved the way Helly used puppets and bubbles to interact with the children and even brought in elements of the seasons. She was teaching the children about Autumn using paper leaves and a squirrel puppet. You could see the children absolutely loved it!

One of my favourite parts of the session was at the very end when Helly sang a goodbye song, it was lovely to see the children relaxing and calming down with their parents.

I can not recommend Monkey Music enough! I watched both children and parents really submerge themselves in to the world of music. I just wish Monkey Music had been around when my Daughter was this age!

Helly, could you tell me a bit about the background to Monkey Music?

The Monkey Music curriculum was written by Guildhall School of Music & Drama graduate Angie Coates, now Monkey Music’s Managing Director. Classes first opened in London in 1993 and Monkey Music’s popularity led to the company being franchised in 1998. More than 50 franchises currently operate in nearly 300 locations across the UK.

Specialist teachers are carefully chosen for their natural ability to communicate with and entertain young children and their carers, gently encouraging social and musical skills within a fun, stimulating and friendly environment.

How does music taught in groups benefit young children?

Early exposure to singing, listening to and playing music can sharpen up a whole range of educational skills. Language and numerical skills flourish through action songs and rhymes; fine motor skills are refined through playing hand held percussion instruments, while an awareness of space and one another is developed through movement. The children’s confidence and self-esteem grows rapidly as their involvement in the group increases.

What classes are available and what age groups are they suitable for?

Rock’n’Roll – from 3 months

Designed specifically for Mums, Dads and very young babies to share together.

During each class the babies and adults are engaged through gentle songs, fascinating sounds and absorbing activities.

Heigh-Ho – from 12 months

Young toddlers love being up on their feet so lots of dancing and moving encourages the children to explore the space around them and express the music they hear.

The children thrive on the ‘steady beat’ and are very enthusiastic young members of the Monkey Music band. Themed classes and bold colourful props captivate the children and encourage everyone to get involved.

Jiggety-Jig – 2 & 3 years

By this stage, children can really express the joy that music brings them. They sing, dance, play, move, tell stories, speak, and listen to music together.

Monkey Music teachers make sure that the children develop their sense of rhythm whilst playing in time to Monkey Music songs and games. Hoops, parachute games and circle dances are always popular Jiggety-Jig activities.

Ding-Dong – 3 & 4 years

Up until now the children have been listening and responding to music they hear. Now that their ears have been ‘finely tuned’ Monkey Music teaches them what music means when they see it written down.

Reading simple traditional musical notation comes easily to Monkey Music children as it is integrated into the final part of our interactive curriculum.

Helly can you tell me more about yourself and why you became involved with Monkey Music?

I first discovered Monkey Music when I was looking for music classes to take my own baby daughter to whilst I was on maternity leave. As a musician myself, I was keen to find something that incorporated key musical elements whilst also being enjoyable for my daughter. We went to our first Monkey Music class when she was just a few months old, and I was immediately impressed by the musical content of the classes we attended. And seeing the delight on my daughter’s face each week when we she recognised her favourite Monkey songs quickly made it the highlight of our week!

When the opportunity arose for me to take on my own Monkey Music franchise in Ealing and Acton, I realised I had found the perfect way to combine my passion for music and singing, with my love of babies and interest in the important role that music can play in child development. And it meant I could return to Ealing, where I had spent many happy years, to teach!

I am a trained classical singer, having studied at Oxford University where I held a choral scholarship. I have performed as a soloist with many of London’s leading chamber choirs, and feature on over 20 commercial recordings. I have performed on Radio 3 on several occasions and continue to give regular live performances (when I’m not busy teaching Monkey Music or being a Mum!) Before I had my daughter, I also pursued an International career in Marketing and Innovation, and was on the board of directors of a luxury toiletries company.

When and where are the classes?

Classes take place on Mondays at The Grange Pub and Dining Room, on Tuesdays at Ealing Green Church and on Wednesdays at St Paul’s, Playschool Hall.

The current term will end on the 15th December 2017. Helly is taking bookings now for the next term, which will start on the 8th January 2018. However, you are welcome to join part way through the term if you wish. Your first class is free and is a great way to find out if the class suits you and your child. Go to the Monkey Music Website for more information and timetables.

How can I book?

You can book via the website or you can contact Helly directly (see details below). Or alternatively you can book your first free class via the Hoop App.

Don’t forget to follow Monkey Music on social media and keep up to date with the latest classes and news!

Facebook: @MonkeyMusicEalingAndActon or for the nationwide page @monkeymusic

Twitter: @MonkeyMusicNews

Instagram: @monkeymusicuk

Helly Summerly can be contacted:

Email: helly.summerly@monkeymusic.co.uk

Tel: 020 3715 2634

Monkey and related products such as Cd’s, books and t-shirts are available to purchase so you continue the fun at home!

This is a collaborative post.

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Limeyard Resturant is situated in the food quarter of The Ealing Broadway Centre, so it is perfectly placed as a stop off after a busy afternoon’s shopping or for a weekend family meal. The relaxed dinning style means it is a great option when eating out with children. So let yourself be transported into an all day American Kitchen and soak up the Californian lifestyle for a while! Sunglasses are optional of course!

We visited early evening on a Saturday and were welcomed by the friendly staff. This meant that we could also take advantage of the Happy Hour promotion (which currently runs daily between 5-7pm). So you can  buy one and get one free on selected cocktails! So I had the Frosé cocktail which is Rosé Wine, vodka, watermelon, strawberry and syrup, while my Hubby had a Mojito!

Limeyard offer a children’s menu. For £6.50 your child will be able to enjoy a two course meal and a drink, which I think is excellent value for money. They also provide an activities and colouring sheet to keep your little ones busy. There were stickers and even a lovely multi-coloured crayon, this went down really well!

I also want to point out that I noticed there was plenty of space for buggies and high chairs were available. The main toilets are upstairs, however baby changing facilities are on the ground floor level.

My Daughter went for the Buttermilk Chicken Fried Nuggets, which came with a healthy side of salad and corn on the cob. She really enjoyed her meal and actually said the nuggets were one of the most tasty she has had! For dessert she decided to choose the Brownie Sundae which wasn’t in the bowl for very long!

For my main meal I couldn’t resist the Limeyard BBQ board this consisted of: coca cola glazed ribs, BBQ mission street wings served with buttermilk onion wings, spicy house slaw and grilled corn. It was a very generous portion, the meat was good quality and overall I think this was one of my favourite main courses that I have had at Limeyard.

There was an excellent range of deserts and I decided upon the slow baked lemon and vanilla cheesecake, which came with a toasted coconut and blueberry compote. It was absolutely delicious I wasn’t disappointed!

I would definitely recommend Limeyard for a family meal. I found the staff to be attentive and very friendly towards us and our Daughter. I think if you are looking for a relaxed restaurant that serves good quality food then you should give it a try! They also serve breakfast too, so we will be giving that a try soon.

Don’t forget to follow Limeyard on social media to stay up to date with all their latest offers.

Twitter @Limeyard

Facebook @LimeyardEaling

Instagram @limeyarduk

 

Disclosure: I was given a complimentory voucher by the restaurant for our meals. The above is an honest review of my experience and reflects my own opinions.

 

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This week, I would like to introduce you to another Ealing Mum who has developed her own business and brand. Glenda Shawley runs a successful company called the Training Pack, where she provides training and consultancy to help other businesses grow. She has also written an insightful book Founded After Forty. The book gives plenty of help and guidance for a new business start up. This strikes a chord with me, as I am over forty! I believe now is the perfect time for me to start my own business!

Glenda strongly believes in the power of networking and is group leader for the Chiswick and Fulham branches of Fabulous Women and Marvellous Men. She also has been supporting Mums who want to re-train in social media marketing (which is something I am passionate about) and recently has been working with a Digital Mums trainee.

What is the one piece of advice you would give to another Mum who wanted to start her own business? 

Find something that you are both good at and enjoy. That other people will be prepared to pay sensible money for, because it won’t be easy juggling everything.  You’ll need the motivation that comes from happy customers served by a fulfilled business owner.

Which business women do you admire and why? 

Bryony Thomas of Watertight Marketing. She has developed a methodology, written a book and built a business around a marketing methodology that is logical and grounded. Plus she walks the talk.

Where do you see your business going in the next 5 years? 

I want to be known as a chief encourager for people starting and growing a business after the age of 40. I’ll be offering training and consultancy online and offline with a range of options from short online training modules through to a residential business inspiration ‘retreat’.

 

 

Why did you decided to become involved with Digital Mums? 

My brand is all about helping people to run a business on their terms so this fit perfectly. One of my objectives this year was to delegate more and I’ve been struggling to work out what I can delegate. So working with a Digital Mum was a perfect project for me to experiment with whilst also helping someone else out.

How long will you be working with your Digital Mum? 

The programme is about 6 months but we have the option to make it a commercial deal after the programme.

Is she working on your brand The Training Pack or also Fabulous Women too? 

My Digital Mum is working on raising awareness of the Training Pack brand, another Digital Mum is doing the same for Fabulous Women. Both our Mums are in the same peer group,so that they can support each other and benefit from the overlap in the two businesses.

You can follow Glenda on her various on her various social media platforms:

Twitter @Glenda_S

Facebook @TheTrainingPack

Instagram @glendashawley

 

If you or someone you know would like to be featured on my series #MumsWhoWorkIt then please do contact me via my email: hello@theealingmummy.com

 

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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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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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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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