Category Archives: London

Tall ships!!

No need to travel far this past weekend, as our adventures were right on our doorstep! We went to the Tall Ships Festival in Greenwich on Sunday, taking in the amazing masted ships and also visiting on board the beautiful Cutty Sark.
We took two strollers and public transport on Sunday. It seemed like a good idea because I know Maritime Greenwich is a pain for parking and there is a DLR stop right there. And while it worked getting there, it was a major fail on the return, especially with strollers. There is a set of escalators that were for those passengers arriving in Greenwich and stairs and a lift for those leaving. Unfortunately, the lift is ridiculously small and the queue was massive so we decided to jump on a bus to head to North Greenwich where the O2 is and take the tube from there. So a trip that took about 25 minutes one way took over an hour on the return. And with a very tired Little Man, it wasn’t the best. But we’ve learned over the last two and a half years to carry distractions. Lately, it’s been sticker books and little vehicles like one of these or this. And of course one of his many friends
These distractions are also great to pull out at lunch. It’s amazing how long we can play with a sticker book with Little Man before he gets bored. And yes, we have resorted to a quick movie/show on the iPhone at times too. There are some times, we have learned, where the only way to keep him from having a massive meltdown is by distraction on the screen. Fortunately, he’s not obsessed by it and after about 15/20 minutes, we have a bit of a reset by him.
All in all, it was a fun day but I think lesson learned by the public transportation. Next time, we’ll drive.

The Maritime Greenwich area, even on a regular day (and not during the tall ship festival), is a great place for kids. I’ll write about it more in another post.

Here is a shot of one of the fall ships in the final parade heading out to sea and onto their next adventure. What a beautiful site!!


It’s been a while…

It’s been just over five months since I’ve been on a plane (and since I’ve written something on here…). I can’t leave the country because the United Kingdom Borders Agency has my passport. I haven’t done anything wrong, I’m just in the midst of applying for my Indefinite Leave to Remain, UK’s version of being a permanent resident. A few people have pointed me to the David Sedaris article in the New Yorker from April about when he lost his passport with his ILR stamp in it. And yes, it is precious to get and a pain if you lose it.
So that means I’m not getting on a plane any time soon. It’s been ok, though, because I’m deep into my next stage in life – the Working Mom stage. So the last five and a half months have been more involved with settling back into work (with a promotion!) and Little Man into nursery and still making time for my family and friends too.
I am loving my new job, my husband is amazing, Little Man is a happy and blossoming little boy and summer has now come and gone here in London.
But seriously, back to the name of this blog. We can’t join my husband any time soon, and it’s annoying because he’s been to Tokyo, Singapore, back to the US, Malaysia, Dubai, India…places I’d love to take Little Man to…and some places I’d love to see too!
I’m not sure how many people actually read this, but thank you to all of you who do. It’s not going away, but it won’t have lots of far flung distance travel experiences in it for a while. At least, until I get my passport…but we’ve taken some day trips and also road trips around the island of England, Scotland and Wales. So I’ll hopefully be able to provide some tips and tricks for travelling with a now-18-month old in a car for more than an hour.
And if any of you have some great tips, please send them my way. We thought Little Man loved his new car seat and while he likes it better than his bucket, he still has a shout if the stars aren’t aligned perfectly. And 14/15/16/17/18-month-old lungs are louder than his 6-month or even 12-month old ones. Maybe it’s because they’re facing forward now…
So hopefully I’ll be back soon with some great road trips for you. But in the meantime, I’d love to hear how you entertain/distract your little toddlers while driving long distances (and they don’t want to sleep).

We are back…

…and lots to catch up on. Coming up, I plan to write up recaps on:
Houston – Gymboree, the zoo, the Children’s Museum and the aquarium
San Antonio – the river walk, the Children’s Museum and the zoo (and Brackenridge Park)
Miami – the Seaquarium and the beach!
Until them, I’m working on getting a very awake one year old to sleep…dealing with jet lag is probably another post in and of itself.
Here’s a pic of Little Man enjoying his first shovel and bucket!


Canary Wharf fun

For those of you looking for something fun to do this weekend in London, head out to Canary Wharf for the (London Ice Festival. It’s got some great ice sculptures, a snow area for kids plus lots of great food and dessert vendors all the way in the back (head there instead of the food truck you see immediately for hot chocolate and treats).
While you’re there, if you want to hang out inside, go visit the (free) Museum of the Docklands. If you have little ones, there is a great cafe and soft play area.

Travelling underground…

Tips for travelling on any metro/underground system with a little one (in no particular order):
– Find the handicap areas to board the train as they tend to be step-free
– If you can use a sling and avoid a stroller, do
– Find when peak times are. Try not to travel during them
– If you have to travel during peak times, be polite and courteous
– When the trains are busy, it helps having things to entertain your little one with, be it food, a pacifier or toys. Avoid the obnoxiously noisy toys if you’re going to be on the train for a while and it’s busy…actually, this helps when trains aren’t busy too…but then again, bored and frustrated babies aren’t always fun so whatever works is best
– When using the escalators and there are a lot of people, go to the back of the line to take the escalator up. That way, you can be a bit slower and not disrupt those commuters who are so keen to get home without many interruptions
– Be nice, courteous and don’t forget to smile. Happy mummy/daddy helps for a happy baby which helps contribute to happy commuters
– Head for the lifts, where possible. The voices, though, on some can be really loud and may either wake little one or startle them, so escalators might be better
– Don’t forget to hold on
– It’s OK to ask someone to vacate a seat so you (and your little one) can sit down. There are designated seats for that reason
– Be prepared for your stop in advance so you’re not rushing to get off
– If you take the stroller, don’t forget to put the brake on
– When little one is on your lap and the stroller is next to you, don’t forget that the bags hanging on the handles add weight and there is a higher potential for the stroller to tip when the train stops short…
– Walk instead

What tips do you have for underground travel?

London 2012

If you didn’t pay any attention to current events this summer you probably missed two major events that happened in the UK this year: the Queen’s Jubilee and the summer of sport, otherwise known as the Olympics and Paralympics – London 2012.
We, as most others living in the UK, applied for the ticket lottery back in April 2011. I remember franticly applying as we were packing for a two week holiday to Egypt (ah…sun…beach…heat…sea…and a few pyramids) and hoping we got a couple of tickets to some events. We actually ended up being some of the very lucky ones and not only got a couple of tickets, but tickets to six events during the two week period of the Olympics. One thing, though, was we got two for each event, as Little Man was just a thought in our mind then. We got the exciting news that we got tickets in May and then we knew we just needed to wait the year and some to go. Between us getting the tickets and the summer of 2012, the news broke from LOCOG that every body (yes, individual body) needed a ticket. That meant one for Little Man too. Apparently, the issue was due to capacity requirements. Surprisingly, it wasn’t even a Health and Safety issue. What we needed to do was to get a ticket for our then unborn baby and we’d be all good. Not just any ticket to let him into the venue, but a ticket in the same class as our ticket as he had to go through the same entry way as us. But there was a catch. Everything was sold out. Completely and utterly sold out.
Around the same time, a few lobbying groups highlighted this issue to LOCOG and the media – how were they to discriminate against women and their babes in arms when the ticket we were required for our infant was going to be empty (as our babies were still too young to sit on their own)? Better yet, how could we be expected to tell the future in April 2011 that we’d have a four month old in our lives? I know some are probably thinking why would we want to bring our little baby if he wasn’t going to remember anything and if he could potentially affect the event for others around us. We wanted to bring Little Man because we didn’t want to spend all that time away from him, plus I was still breastfeeding and hadn’t introduced the bottle to him with success and we also just wanted him there with us.
Fast forward to the summer right before the Olympics started when they made the decision that babes in arms will be allowed in without a ticket. Score.
So off we went! We went to: diving, handball, boxing and weightlifting at the Olympics and athletics at the Paralympics. We took Little Man to everything and we had a blast. Everyone in the village was wonderful, the crowds were awesome and the spirit of sport was infectious.

Go Team GB!

The biggest piece of advice? Bring ear defenders for your little one. We had them and were so thankful we did as the crowds were LOUD. There were several other babies we saw without them and when there was a noisy bit, the babies were plain uncomfortable and unhappy. Not Little Man – he was unaware when the big cheers came and went and even managed to have some really good naps during the events. The ear defenders we got were a headband style – from Earmuffs for Kids – and he didn’t even notice them. There are some that are more of an earmuff style, but some professionals say that those put too much pressure on a baby’s the skull too much. We’ve got friends who have those and their little one doesn’t had any issues with them, even at an all-weekend festival. Honestly, I think it’s a personal preference.
We also had a backpack, our stroller, our baby carrier (Beco Gemini), big muslin for feeding, all the nappy changing paraphernalia we needed and some extra water bottles for us (there were loads of fountains to fill up your bottles). Each venue had stroller parking so we would drop off the stroller and put everything else in the backpack and tote Little Man in the sling to our seats. We didn’t bring the stroller to the first event at the Excel Centre, which worked too, but we decided to give our backs a rest in the Olympic Park which is why we brought his stroller.
Also, don’t expect to be able to fully focus on everything. With a little one, you’ll need to make sure he/she’s entertained as well as catching the events. If Little Man needed changing, you couldn’t always wait until the next point…as we couldn’t one time with a massive blow-out nappy that almost required me dunking him in the sink. Almost…
I thoroughly enjoyed the Olympics and Paralympics and am so happy we took Little Man with us. We’ve used his ear defenders whenever we thought it would be loud and noisy and they’ve been brilliant. We get lots of comments on what a happy baby we have even in the loudest of situations and we look forward to taking him to even more with them.