3 weeks of Easter break in and around London

3 Weeks of holidays for Easter, just few weeks after a 1 week ‘half-term’ break and just a few weeks before our next 1 week ‘half-term’ break.  You’ve got to love the UK for all the holidays and breaks – lends to a great balanced family life…  BUT also leads to huge breaks in routines for my boys who LOVE nursery and their nursery friends.

So, to minimise boredom, destruction, and madness on the double, these are the things we did to keep ourselves either out of trouble, and in some cases, ‘in trouble’!  I also tried to follow the one-day-out, one-day-in rule so as not to exhaust them (and me!).

1.  Cheti Chand.  The break started off with our (Sindhi) ‘new-year’ festival, cheti chand, at our local temple.  The boys enjoyed trying some our traditional food, watching a religious procession, bherano, that marks this particular occasion, getting their faces painted and listening to 2 slightly older boys with their teacher play the flute while messing around with one of their little girl friends. Y still asks to go back to the temple to get his ‘face painted’!.

2.  Play dates with bum chums.  We then had a series of play dates with their baby group & Sunday school friends either at a home, park or an indoor soft play area.

Body Art
Body Art
Body Art
Body Art

3.  Body Painting.  Y was slightly under the weather one day in the first week, so the boys decided to practice ‘body art’ with their felt pens all over their hands, legs, feet & nails.  Rather proud of themselves saying, ‘mama, look, I’m an artist’.  ‘Mama, can you draw me a tattoo like the one you have’.  Great!  I’m such a positive influence on the boys.  I’m afraid of what they will ask for next!

4. Books & Puzzles.  I opened a new box set of books and they have been enjoying being read to in the mornings, or doing puzzles with me.  Since they recently had a birthday and I have hidden all the gifts, it was an opportunity for me to have them open a couple of them every few days.

5.  Baking.  A wanted to make a ‘banana cake’.  So I hid a couple of bananas till they were really ripe and ready, and we set baking one morning making a wholemeal banana nut bread.  The experience was fun as they enjoyed mashing, mixing and blending, and then singing ‘pat a cake, pat a cake……put it in the oven for baby and me’ while I put the tin loaf in the oven to bake!

Beautiful Flamingos
Beautiful Flamingos

6. Easter Egg Hunt.  All this leading up to the ‘big’ day… Easter Sunday – for an Easter Egg Hunt. We planned this with another family whose son is the same age as Y & A.  We went to the very well advertised EEH at the Kensington Roof Gardens.  As this was free, you can imagine the queues and the number of families that showed up.  As soon as the doors to the gardens opened, you could see the ‘chocolate eggs’ disappearing fast before our little ones could get to them.  It was quite fun though and then came the Easter Bunny dancing and posing for photos with the children.  The KRG is a must visit this summer for a drink or two.  We were pleasantly surprised to see beautiful flamingos floating around.

7. Family Time.  Some family time with my uncles, aunts and cousins who throughly indulge in Y & A with tons of attention and affection.

White Tiger
White Tiger

8.  Paradise Wildlife Park.  My aunt whom they refer to as ‘nani’ (maternal grandmother) treated us to a lovely day at Paradise Wildlife Park.  It was a stunning day out and I have to admit feeling more like a child than the boys that day.  I was so thrilled to see a white tiger, the zebras, the variety of tiny tamarins and species of the ape and monkey families, a snow leoopard, cheetah, red panda…. etc.  The boys were distracted by the rides which I thought was a shame to have situated outside the wild life area but they too were quite impressed with the animals.

9. Four Seasons Hampshire.  The 4 of us then went to the Four Seasons in Hampshire for a 4-day weekend.  This was much desired by hubby and me as it was the perfect blend of retreat and entertaining the boys.  Okay – so this is a real treat – a fair bit of indulgence but it had to be done, at least once.  This particular property of the Four Seasons is very, very child friendly.   The perks in short:

Kids Menu - Four Seasons
Kids Menu – Four Seasons
Pony on site
Pony on site

Kids Club:  bright, spacious, has a variety of activities for toddlers up to  ages 7/8 with 2 lovely playgrounds just outside.  Ages 3+ can be dropped off in the hands of lovely Sitters.  (who can also baby sit in your room at night).  The kids club is included in the price.

Baby-Sitters:  Qualified, experienced, and warm.

Kids Menu:  Amazing variety of fresh food.  Free for age 5 and under.

Kids Breakfast & Lunch Buffet:  Also free for the above age group.

Pony riding:  Ages 4+ (we did not do this for obvious reasons).

On the way to the pool
On the way to the pool

Chicken Shed:  Just on the lawns.  Children can also take the freshly laid eggs to be cooked by the chef for breakfast.

Indoor Swimming:  You even get toddler sized robes and slippers to use!

And while you leave your children in the safety of the Kids Club… you can do just absolutely ANYTHING – like use the Spa, the Pool and Vitality Pool and the ‘Hot’ Rooms.  The grounds are large and beautiful and great for a good hike which we did one morning.

Fun Fair
Fun Fair

10.  Fun Fairs.  We had one just around the corner so we took the boys on the bus and now A can’t stop saying, ‘mama, let’s go to the fun fair on the bus’.

At the park
At the park

11. Parks.  We have been blessed with lots of sunny days and now even warmer ones.  We are also blessed with a variety of well-equipped parks around us.  It’s nice to go to a different one each time if you can.


As fun and beautiful as the 3 weeks have been… and now back to reality…

Do share your holiday experiences with us and any cool and fun activities you did with the kids this Easter.



Top 10 ways to spend Easter/Spring break in London with kids

There are some really fun and diverse activities in London to experience with children.  Not all are exclusive to Easter, but there are some Spring launches and then there are the ever greens.  See what catches yours or your child’s fancy.

1.  Easter Egg Hunts

Covent Garden Market
Covent Garden Market

2.  The London Transport Museum has just launched ‘All Aboard’ today, the museum’s new play zone.

 3.  Just being at Southbank.  There’s a market for food lovers on April 3rd-April 6th.

Shaun in the City
Shaun in the City

4. Shaun in the City Sculpture Hunt all over London.  March 28th – May 25th

5.  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory playing at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane

6.  Hotel Chocolate Tasting Experience on the London-Eye.

7.  The London Duck Tour.

8.  Giant Duck Hunt at the WWT London Wetland Centre March 28th – April 12th.

Giant Duck Hunt WWT London Wetland Centre
Giant Duck Hunt WWT London Wetland Centre

9.  Discover Children’s Story Centre, Stratford.  

10.  Sensational Butterflies Exhibition at The Natural History Museum.  April 2nd – September 13th.


Sensational Butterflies
Sensational Butterflies

Staycation with 2 energetic toddlers.

January 7.  Well into the first week of 2015, we are all settling back in to routine.  Boys at school and me chucked back in to work (while I was hoping for a week off for myself!).  Papa unfortunately worked through most of the holidays but now he can work in peace without me screaming out for help with the boys every now and then!

It was not half has crazy as I expected it to be with 2 little boys bounding with energy.  I came to realise also that they were not looking to be kept ‘busy’ and ‘entertained’ all the time.  They were definitely tired from their first term of every morning Nursery plus all the weekend activities, and they actually slept in an extra hour to an hour and half! Yay for us, the extra sleep was definitely welcomed after almost 3 years of being sleep deprived!

So, how did we survive our first ‘staycation’? (The last 2 Christmas’s and last summer we spent in Sunny California).

1.  A good friend hosted a Toddler Christmas Party at her house with Secret Santa, Musical Statues, Bubble Machines and Christmas Cookie Decorations. Y & A really enjoyed the experience as they were still grasping the concept of Christmas and Santa.christmas biscuits

2.  We baked cookies together!  The boys were fascinated watching my Kenwood mixer whisking eggs and butter, then they helped me put in the dry mix in to it and again watching the batter being made.  Obviously, scooping spoonfuls and placing them on the baking tray was fun, and then the anticipation of the finished product that they got to taste! (Yes, just taste.  We still limit their ‘sugar’ and ‘junk’ in take and we eat ‘pretend’ cakes!)

3.  Visiting one of the many Santa’s Grotto.  We went to Westfield, Shepherd’s Bush where they first watched a short movie on ‘munions’ and presents flying across the screen with each child attending’s photos on them.  (If you ask me my opinion, this film left much to be desired! but I’m not 2.5 years old).  Papa joined us for the Santa experience, then left the 3 of us on a lunch date.  I have to recommend ‘Fire and Stone’ as they are VERY child friendly.  A nice and yummy Children’s Menu with smoothies on the side, and great management and staff that stayed close to me when they say I was managing 2 boys!
santa grotto   fire and stone





4.  Another Christmas play date at another good friend’s home.  More play, more gifts, more treats!

5.  I hosted a Christmas party at home with just desserts and cocktails at the run up to main day.  The boys once again helped with some of the preparation in the kitchen with the Kitchen Aide!

6.  Oh! and I did the unthinkable!  yes, I plopped them in front of the Tele every morning for 20 mins! Like sugar, I’m not a fan of television either, but this one – if you need it, you’ve got to use it.  And that’s why it’s known as the BEST baby sitter!

7.  And now it’s Christmas Day!!! PRESENTS!! WOW!! SO MANY!!  Y & A were soooooooooo overwhelmed and excited with all their gifts (half of which I had to swiftly put away before they were ingrained in their memory), that once we got to my cousins’ Christmas Lunch, the boys wanted to turn back home and play with their ‘new toys’.  Well, this kept us busy for a good 4 – 5 days with a few outings here and there.

8.  We took them to watch Gruffalo’s Child at the Arts Depot in Finchley.  I purchased front row seats as it was their first theatre experience and I wanted to maximise on their attention span by placing them right in front of the stage.  It worked!! I read the book to them as a refresher in the morning and so they were quite enthralled by seeing it all in live action.  They still talk about it and do funny things and say, ‘the Grufallo did that’ and ‘the Grufallo’s Child did that’.

9.  Letting them run wild at home!  Down to their underwear and vests and letting them be as silly as they wanted to be.  No agendas. No where to go.  Just monkey around!  Many times they were in their 1st Halloween Costumes – I had a little cub and a baby elephant running around the house!

10.  Santa Land at Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park.  We got there with an hour left of day light so they experienced it by day and night.  A whole 1 1/2 of rides, crowds, music, sounds.  Too many rides to choose from and some they wanted to repeat!  Adrenalin high! All this excitement and madness followed by dinner at Maroush Gardens on Edgware Road.  Nothing like a good bowl of humus to settle them down!


11.  Soft play areas AND Play dates with older cousins!  Now that’s when I get to take them to a soft play area – this time Gambado in Watford – and get to enjoy a good cup of coffee with my cousin while my 12-year-old niece whisked the boys away for a good hour and a half!  This was probably one of their best outings with their Didi (older sister).  The key to enjoying a soft play area – having older siblings, cousins, older children of good friends to take the kids through the hoops, climbing the walls and sliding down poles and slides.

The 3 1/2 weeks I was apprehensive about turned out to be a lovely, bonding time with my sons and just doing fun things, day by day.  They say kids need a routine and I agree to a very large extent, but letting go sometimes also is loads more fun!

So, here we are, 2015…. let’s see what fun moments the boys bring in to my days!


In London for the holidays?

I was recently asked for some advice on things to do in London over Christmas for a couple and their 10’ish year old son. So here’s my list of the best things to do if you’re visiting London during Christmas.

1. Shopping – If you’re staying in town, you’ll have Oxford Street and Regents Street but if it’s too cold (they are coming from Hong Kong) then I’d suggest you head to Westfield. It’s not far, a few stops on the Central Line to Shepards Bush (from Bond Street) and you’re there. It’s a huge mall with all the high street outlets as well as high end fashion stores. Another shopping haven is Bicester Village. It’s in Oxford (there’s a direct bus from Marble Arch) and it takes alittle over an hour. It’s a designer shopping outlet (open air). You can get some pretty good deals there.
2. The lights on Oxford Street and Regents Street are usually amazing. Debenhams has undergone a total makeover and I think their lights are pretty spectacular. The windows in Selfridges (Oxford Street), Harvey Nicks and Harrods (Knightsbridge) are usually really good. You have to see Harrods at night, it’s lit up (all year round) and looks like a Golden Palace. Selfridges also have a huge Christmas shop in the basement.
3. The great outdoors – Hyde Park have a winter wonderland. I went a couple of weeks ago with my son and he really enjoyed it. They have an ice rink at Somerset House which is at Aldwych (you can catch the No. 13 bus from Baker Street going South). Diagonally across the road from there you can go up to Covent Garden and they turn the whole piazza into a Winter Haven with a 60ft tall tree!!
images (1)
4. Touritsy things to do – There’s Madame Tussauds, the Dungeons, the houses of parliament and the Tower of London (their son likes history). You can do the big red bus tour which also includes a river cruise. The commentary on that is really good and you learn so much about the city in such a short time. I’m just not sure how comfortable it’ll be riding on an open top bus in December though! There’s the London Eye which includes a 4D show at the end which is good. The Eye ride itself is okay. It takes 26 minutes to go around. Worth it if it’s a good day. The Harry Potter tour which is located at Watford is worth it for fans of the infamous Wizard. The British Museum (Tottenham Court Road), the National History Museum, the V&A (South Kensington), the Transport Museum (Covent Garden): they are all free to visit and well worth it.
5. Stuff for Kids – I only have one word…Hamleys! On Regents Street, it’s a must see for any child visiting London.
6. The West End – Plays and Musicals: Although I’ve never seen a show on Broadway, people say the West End is a lot better. Maybe I’m biased Winking face I’ve heard the Book of Mormons is really good and 1 Man 2 Guvnors is very very funny. I saw Wicked last year which was amazing. Mamma Mia (great to sing along to), The Lion King (the story was okay but worth watching it just for the sets and to see how they create the animals, etc), Phantom of the Opera (pretty dark but one of my favourites). My Fair Lady, Legally Blonde, Sister Act – they were all good. Ghost has been out for a couple of years now and I heard that is good too (it’s on my list!). If you like history then you may enjoy Les Miserables (based on the French revolution). Again I’ve heard fantastic reviews from some people and not so great reviews from others. There is a box office on Argyll Street (Opposite Niketown at Oxford Circus, beside Warehouse, the women’s clothing store). It’s called Stargreen Box Office. You can get great deals on theatre tickets there. I’d suggest you call them on the day, ask them for tickets for the same day and collect before the show. Good tickets for the top shows can be around £60+. Matinee shows are usually more reasonable and most theatres have matinee shows on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
7. Afternoon Tea – You’re in London, darling, how can you not have Afternoon Tea?! Personally I love good ol’ fashioned Richoux on St. Johns Wood High Street (they have other branches as well) but for a little something extra special, I’ve heard great things about Afternoon Tea at The Ritz and The Wolseley.
More than anything, being in London at Christmas is magical. It can be really cold but if you wrap up you won’t feel it so much. There’s heating on in all the stores and anywhere indoors so it’s only really while you’re outdoors that you’ll feel it. All the shops play Christmas songs, everyone’s in a really good mood as they shop and get ready for Christmas. I’m sure you’ll have a lovely time!
Let me know if there’s anything I’m missing!

Halloween Day Out

pumpkinHubby and I took the boys on the 31st of October to the Halloween Festival at Willows Farm, St Albans. This was our 3rd visit to the Farm in 6 months. First time for Easter Hunt and to see all the animals on the farm. The second time we spent more time around the animals, feeding them, and petting the rabbits and guinea pigs. We also spent more time on all the rides and the bouncy castles. On this trip we also showed the boys the potato fields and how to dig and pick potatoes.

This time we went to experience the Halloween Festival. The boys participated in various relays rolling pumpkins and bouncing on the space bouncers. We showed them the pumpkin patch then went on all the rides the they love.

We took a lunch break and found so many healthy options at the farm for children. Fresh fruit, sandwiches on multigrain bread, vegetables.

I have been very impressed with Willows Farm as there is so much for children of all ages to see and experience and each time we go back we have a brand new experience.

This is for now the boys’ favourite day out, before they discover Disney that is.

The Man Behind ‘The Art of the Brick’ – Nathan Sawaya

I took the boys to see the amazing pieces built of tiny LEGO pieces by Nathan Sawaya.  The Exhibition, titled ‘The Art of the Brick’ at the Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, was quite inspiring.

Along with the amazing creation of Sawaya and his philosophy and inspiration behind each piece, I was very inspired by his thinking and his quotes.  I would like to share some with you.


Nathan Sawaya:

1.  “Create what you SEE, Create what you FEEL, Create what you have NEVER SEEN.  JUST CREATE!

2.  “Swim against the current.  Follow your own path.  Find the courage WITHIN.

3.  “Art makes better humans, Art is necessary in understanding the world and Art makes people happy.  Undeniably, Art is NOT an option!

4.  “Fortunately, there are no rules in Art!”

5.  “My favourite subject is the human form.  A lot of my work suggests a figure in transition.  It represents metamorphosis I am experiencing in my own life.  My pieces grown out of my fears and accomplishments, as a lawyer and as an artist, as a boy and as a man.”

Marilyn Monroe by Nathan Sawaya
Marilyn Monroe by Nathan Sawaya

And then I woke up inspired this morning, and made this for the boys:

Untitled - Anupa
Untitled by Anupa