Kids Mood

Christmas at home

Christmas Lights - Regent Street
Photo by Gerry Balding

Last year we didn’t get to spend Christmas in London.

We had a wonderful time in Panama, visiting family and friends, exploring the islands and the city — we made some truly beautiful memories. But the fact that I was missing the wintery London Christmas made me, nonetheless, a little bit blue.

This year, we are staying home and I’m loving it. I’ve been doing the final gift and food shopping these last few days, worrying about whether I’m forgetting something (as if we’re preparing for some kind of apocalypse).

We’ve got the leg of lamb, potatoes and vegetables, the Swedish food from IKEA, and all the ingredients necessary to make some Portuguese Christmas treats. Rafael’s older brothers are coming over and they will all get to decorate the tree and spend loads of time together. And we might even go into town during Boxing Day!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Food Going out Kids

East Village

Rafael running around E20
Photo by me

Typical weekend conversation in my house: “What shall we do today?” “Don’t know.” “E20?” “Sure.”

The site of the 2012 London Olympics has everything we need to hang out with Rafael: cheap parking (or more expensive parking if we feel like charging our electric car), nice coffee places, large enough areas that are safe for a toddler to scoot and run around, green spaces, ducks, a playground, it’s not too far from home, Westfield Stratford shopping centre for some more hardcore shopping, the Sunday market, a bike shop, a kids shop, nice restaurants. I could go on.

We usually try to think of something different to do, somewhere else to go, but the fact of the matter is that E20 is becoming one of the best places to spend a few hours with my family. And we keep coming back.



Nicklas and Rafael in Islington
Nicklas and Rafael in Islington

Or Wild Strawberries. That’s the name of the Swedish Saturday school that Rafael attends every week with other Swedish kids and parents. I love that we can find this kind of activity in London — not so easy to find a Portuguese one though…

The sessions are in Islington, so they’re a great excuse to leave the house and have a day out in town. As the Swedish speaking parent, Nicklas is the one that takes him and stays with him for the duration of the ‘lessons’, but I’m more than happy to stroll up and down Upper Street while I wait for them.

Kids Travel

Our ‘new’ cargo bike

Our new cargo bike
Photo by me

It now feels like we’ve had it forever, but it was only two or three weeks ago that I decided to search on Gumtree for second-hand cargo bikes. I did find one, so Nicklas, Rafael and I went to check it out all the way down in Clapham the following day. We bought it, Nicklas brought it home the day after, and now we have a cargo bike.

It’s probably not the best time of year to fully enjoy it, but Nicklas and Rafael have been out in it almost every day. Rafael seems to enjoy it just as much as he does the normal bike — we’ve got a little comfy baby seat for him. He can be warm and cosy with blankets, and we can carry as many bags as we need to as well — even the stroller. Last week my mum, Rafael and I all sat on the wooden seats and Nicklas took us to dinner here in Leyton! (It’s not really the comfiest of seats though.)

We’ve ordered a rain tent so that Rafael can be even warmer and cosier, despite the weather outside.

Going out Kids Sports

London Aquatics Centre

London Aquatics Centre
Photo by Forgemind ArchiMedia

Whenever we have time (and aren’t too lazy), Nicklas and I like to take Rafael to have a little swim in the London Aquatics Centre. The facilities are excellent for families, with family changing rooms, dedicated space to park the buggy and training pool.

If the weather outside is kind, there are few places in London as nice to walk around with children as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Or you can have a cheeky Mexican lunch at Wahaca, or Italian at Jamie’s, in Westfield.

Kids Travel

Bikes and babies

Rafael and Nicklas on the bike
Photo by me

My son is now over 9 months old, even by his corrected age, so naturally my husband was itching to take him out on his bike. The first bike seat we tried didn’t work out: he seems to fall asleep the minute they start riding and the seat didn’t have a headrest, so now we’ve purchased a more nap-appropriate seat (pictured).

He’ll be starting nursery at the end of August and the journey there will most likely be on his dad’s bike, both ways, so I might as well get used to them being on the road, with all the trucks, buses, cars, angry drivers.

I find this pretty scary.

Food Going out Kids


Nicklas and Rafael at 46b
Photo by me

My son was born 6 weeks early, a little on the small side, and not very keen on eating, so he spent 18 very long days in hospital before coming home.

Days are weird when you’re visiting your baby in neonatal care: time flies, but it’s also slow. There are moments when everything happens at once: hold, feed, clean. Then there are hours where you can’t do anything because he’s sleeping or the doctors are doing rounds. For our own health, during those hours we needed to catch a breath of fresh air. I still couldn’t move much, and 46b was right around the corner, so we started going there, and soon got addicted to the delicious brownies.

And we’ve pretty much been going there ever since, as often as we can. We like the Chatsworth Road area: we’re lucky that the hospital Rafael was born in was placed within such a nice setting, and it’s easy enough to catch the W15 bus from Leyton that drops us almost literally in front of the café.

Food Kids

Fortnum & Mason

Lunch at Fortnum & Mason
Photo by me

This year’s Portugal Day was last Wednesday. I confess I had forgotten about it until my mum sent me an email reminder, but I had already planned to go into town with my son and had been eyeing Fortnum & Mason’s website trying to figure out where to eat. It’s not as straightforward as it once was to eat these days: highchairs are useful and so is knowing you won’t be disturbing the other patrons (at least not too much).

Anyway, we arrived at Green Park at 10am, just when the stores were opening, so I went in to check the place out, see if I could spot highchairs and any accessibility issues, and maybe ask if I needed a reservation. The member of staff I spoke to was very polite and helpful and told me someone would help me with the buggy up the small staircase once I’d come back for lunch.

And so they did. Rafael and I had a very nice lunch in The Gallery. I had a glass of the Portuguese vinho verde to celebrate (about 4 times more expensive than an entire bottle in Portugal, but hey…). We had plenty of space for the buggy and the high chair, the room was bright and not busy (between 11.30am and 12.15pm), and the staff was polite and efficient.

It’s not super easy to find a nice lunch spot where you’ll have top service, a nice setting and where a little baby will not be a bother. We’d like to return at some point with Nicklas.

Kids Travel


Photo by esther wieringa

Yesterday I wanted to go into town with my son, but, as many times before, the thought of having to ask for help to carry his buggy up and down countless stairs in the Tube put a cloud over my plans.

We could have taken a bus, but that would nearly triple our travel time. So I had a look on Transport for London to see if there was a way of getting to Piccadilly, avoiding stairs (escalators were fine) and not spending 3 hours travelling. I found their Avoiding stairs Tube guide PDF (PDF), which, albeit cumbersome to decipher, was very helpful in letting me figure out a way:

  1. Bus up to Walthamstow Central from Leyton
  2. Tube down Victoria line to Green Park
  3. Walk around, eat, shop
  4. Return from Warren Street to Walthamstow Central again
  5. Walk back home (about 30 mins walking), as buses start to get busy by mid-afternoon

This has happened so many times: I get excited about going for a walk about town with my baby and then think of the stairs. Often I just go anyway and count on the helpfulness of strangers, but I don’t like it: I want to be able to manage by myself.

Over the last few months I’ve found places we can go without much trouble (read: lots of stairs) but somehow I feel it should be easier.