A review of Honey & Co. London 

Tucked into a tiny spot along Warren Street, blink and you’d almost miss Honey & Co. Part of a wider group of restaurants/shops (including Honey & Smoke and Honey and Spice), this little place has been on my brunch bucket list (yes, that’s actually a thing!). With my friend Shilpa visiting from Hong Kong and being a fellow foodie, it was the perfect time to check it out. Sarit Packer (co-founder) was previously the pastry chef for Ottolenghi and executive head chef at Nopi. Together with her husband, Itamar Srulovich (who has been cooking since the age of 5), they opened Honey & Co.
We arrived there at around 10am and although the restaurant is very small (tables and chairs packed closely together with very little elbow room), thankfully they had a table for us. For breakfast, you can opt to have the Mezze to share followed by your choice of eggs or just go directly with the eggs. Given we wanted to save some room for their incredible looking desserts (lined up along the front window), we opted for just the eggs. We ordered the Shakshuka and Green Shakshuka to share as well as some coffees.
The waitress (an enthusiastic ray of sunshine and smiles) brought our food over quite quickly. The Shakshuka could have done with slightly less oil but the combination of spicy tomatoes and eggs was divine. It was accompanied with a coriander zehung (condiment of sorts) which I found quite bitter (and I’m a huge coriander fan). The Green Shakshuka was accompanied with a goat’s yoghurt which complemented it perfectly. My only criticism was the consistency of the eggs. Although our waitress did say the eggs would be runny, when plated up, the Green Shakshuka was more thick soup than poached eggs. Their saving grace was the delicious blend of flavours.

Their coffee was so good, I had two, but not before we ordered some dessert. The best foodies will always do a quick Google before trying out a new restaurant so Shilpa knew exactly what she wanted: the famous “cheesecake”. I on the other hand ooh’d and aah’d at the window display before finally settling on the chocolate, hazelnut and cinnamon babka. We shared both and I can tell you, I’m so glad we decided not to go for the mezze, leaving enough room for the sweet goodness that was their dessert choices.

The cheesecake was a whipped cream cheese placed on a bed of shredded filo, topped with honey, nuts and blueberries. Babka is a sweet leavened bread made with a rich dough and while it is typically flavoured with raisins, the chocolate and hazelnut version hit my sweet spot without the cinnamon being too overbearing.

We ambled out into the sunshine at 12:30, thoroughly satisfied. I love a good brunch and in this case, the company and the food were both stellar.

Hampton Court Palace – The Magic Garden and The Maze 

I wasn’t kidding when I said I intended on seeing the best sights in (and around) London, making the most of my  3 day week. Last Friday was a beautiful day so we decided to head out to Hampton Court. We took the tube to Waterloo and then South West trains to Hampton Court via Surbiton. A quick walk from the Station and you step into grounds that would fit into a Phillipa Gregory novel easily. At first glance Hampton Court Palace is quite majestic. This beautiful Tudor Palace was built by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey. It was never meant to be a Royal Palace but when he left in 1529, King Henry took it over. In his efforts to impress people with his grandeur and wealth, he spent what would be millions now to expand it, employing Europe’s most gifted craftsmen and gardeners. It might be almost 500 years since it was built but Hampton Court Palace (unlike the outside of Buckingham Palace) is quite simply stunning.

Last year saw the opening of The Magic Garden on the grounds of Hampton Court Palace. I’d read quite about it but we didn’t have a chance to go. Friday was the ideal day. We didn’t go into the Palace…Let’s be honest, it would be lost on our 5/6 year olds so instead bought tickets for The Magic Garden and The Maze. If you don’t intend on going into the Palace and it’s quite a warm day, don’t queue up at the main ticket kiosk. Instead make your way to The Magic Garden and buy your tickets from there instead. 

It lives up to its name…the kids had a blast!

Almost two hours later we made our way to the maze. The kids were super excited by the maze and enjoyed navigating the many corridors. At one point we thought we’d found our way out but alas it was the middle of the maze.

Right outside the exit there’s a patch of grass for the adults to rest their weary legs and hidden in what appears to be a huge bush is one of the best trees to climb.

We finally ended our day walking through the rose garden and picking up some amazing real ice cream (made with clotted cream!!)

If you’re thinking of visiting this summer, The Magic Garden is open until October. Remember to take sun cream, a spare change of clothes (there are fountains and a mini lake, as S describes it, in the sandpit) and lots of snacks (the cafés there are limited).

Don’t forget to take a picture under this beautiful arch on your way out.

It cost us £9.20 each return from Waterloo to Hampton Court on Southwest trains. If you to manage get a direct train it’s approx. 35 minutes (we had to stop at Surbiton both ways). Hampton Court Palace is very family friendly and makes for a great day out. It’s got our stamp of approval.

Summer 2017 Bucket List 

The great British Summer…There’s absolutely no guarantee of hot weather but you can always have a good time. From this week going forward I’ll be working 3 days a week (rather than 5) and I intend on making the most of August, exploring  many of the wonderful sights/attractions the UK has to offer. Here’s my bucket list for Summer 2017:

Mayfield Lavender Fields – If you’re on Instagram you can’t escape these gorgeous lavender fields. They are Insta perfect and something I definitely want to see. A little over an hour from London, in Surrey, it’s pretty easy to get to.

Hampton Court Palace – The Magic Garden looks amazing and super child friendly.

Parkside Fruit Picking – I feel like S is finally old enough to appreciate and enjoy fruit picking. My cousins have been doing it for years and now he can join them 🙂

Warwick Castle – Which child wouldn’t like to dress up as a knight and feel like part of a castle? S has the costume and Warwick has the castle. And during the summer, kids can watch Horrible Histories live on stage in the truly unique Wicked Warwick Show!

Go Ape (Alexandre Palace) – Go Apes newest venue at Ally Pally now has Tree Tops Junior. S is a bit of a monkey and I think he’d absolutely love walking high up and ziplining through trees.

Snozoneuk – While our summers aren’t always hot, our winters aren’t extreme either which means S hasn’t seen proper snow yet. At Snozone, you can feel like you’re in The Alps while only being an hour up the M1 from London.

Camber Sands – Back in May we visited Brighton Beach and while that was cool, a sandy beach will always beat a pebble beach. Fingers crossed we have one more heat wave before school starts in September and we will be down at Camber Sands in a jiffy.

Emirates Cable Cars – For the gorgeous views of London and the thrill of riding high up suspended in the air.

Of course this is a limited list…London and the surrounding counties have to much to offer. I’d love to hear what adventures you’re having this summer…

London in the Springtime 

You know Spring has arrived when the gorgeous Cherry Blossoms come out and boy have they arrived!!

We’re so lucky to live in an area surrounded by cherry blossom trees so we get to watch them bloom on our daily walk to the bus stop.

So with the Easter Holidays upon us, schools out and the skies are blue, here is my list of the best London (and the surrounding areas) have to offer this Spring!

1. Duck Tours – have a look on Groupon before you go to their website, they very often have deals on there. Make sure you read the terms and conditions!

2. The Big Bus Tour – See all the best sights of London over one or two days. I personally love a Bus Tour, especially if you’re only in the city a few days and want to make the most of your time.

3. Battersea Park Children’s Zoo – We haven’t been yet but it’s on my list of places of visit this summer. We are however members of London Zoo and S loves it.

4. Southbank – My favourite part of London! The Art of Brick: DC Super Heroes opened on the 1st of March. We went to the original Art of Brick and was amazed by it so this is definitely on our list for when we’re back in 2 weeks time.

5. The Tate Modern is running a “live exhibition“, something I think both adults and children alike will be fascinated by. Don’t forget to take a spare change of clothes, just in case your kids refuse to come out! 😉

If you don’t mind venturing out then I highly recommend Belmont Farm, Bekonscot Model Village, Windsor Castle and Legoland

If the weather turns (let’s be realistic, it’s London) then there’s Sea Life and the London Aquarium, The National History Museum, The Transport Museum or the good ol’ cinema. VUE usually run Kids mornings over the holidays where movies are £2.50 a ticket (kids and adults alike).

And of course if the beautiful weather sticks around, there are always the gorgeous London Parks – Regents Park, Hyde Park, Hampstead Heath and Richmond Park are my favourites. Email education@royalparksfoundation.org to find out more about what’s going on in the parks over the next few weeks.

Happy  Spring! 🌸🌸🌸

London Duck Tours

Back in February we visited Windsor Castle and S spotted a yellow “Duck”. The same ducks that were used during WWII have been restored and much like the amphibious creatures, they drive on land and sail in water.

Ever since, he’s been saying he wants to go on one and I promised we would when the weather got warmer. And that’s exactly what we did yesterday with my friend R and her gorgeous girl N (who S loves). It was a beautiful summers day and we met at our favourite spot in London….Southbank. We also ended up lunching at one of our favourite child friendly spots, Giraffe.

I’d booked our tour for 2:15pm and they’d asked us to get there about 15-20 minutes early to check in. We promptly arrived there at 2 but our duck didn’t arrive until 2:30. I understand there may be delays on the road, etc but these things should be factored in. Waiting half an hour in the heat with a restless 4 year old will give anyone’s patience levels a battering.

We finally set off on “Beatrice” at 2:35 and thankfully it was much cooler on the duck than it was standing on the street. Our tour guide who was Australian was absolutely brilliant and did a great job of keeping us entertained. 

We quacked at other ducks, took in all the sights and learnt a few new things about London. For example, did you know there are 42 capsules on the London Eye, to represent the 42 Boroughs of London? I didn’t! And because they thought people wouldn’t want to go on capsule 13, they are numbered 1-12 an 14-43. Fun fact! Here’s another one…all the Ducks are named after Shakespearen  characters. Except Elizabeth! They wanted to name her Ophelia except that character died by drowning. Not a good omen. She was restored during the Queen’s Jubilee year and so they named her after Her Majesty.

S absolutely loved it (apart from taking a 15 minute power nap because he was so tired!) Bless!

I enjoyed the tour because unlike the London bus tour, it’s short and sweet (the whole thing took about 75-80 minutes). However, you do pay for the novelty. Adult tickets were £26 and   child tickets are £18. I’m pretty sure the bus company are similarly priced except you get a lot more thrown in and your tickets are valid for 24 hours so you can see the sights over 2 days. The Duck Tour company are in the process of restoring some of their ducks so unfortunately we had to move from Beatrice to Elizabeth for the river part of our tour.

Of course 4 is on the young side to really learn anything on a tour like this but seeing the joy on S’s face made it worth it and I learned a few things about this glorious city myself. Win win!

You can book your tickets here. Another fabulous London day out!

London Zoo & Zoological Society 

London Zoo and it’s iconic birdcage is quite the landmark of this city. You can see it from the top of Primrose Hill and most people will recognise it, even if they’ve never been there. We’re lucky enough to have The London Zoo on our doorstep.

When we first moved back here, I bought their membership for myself. S was still free (under 3) and it was a great thing to have. During term time members can park in their car park for free so very often it was something we did after nursery or on Sunday mornings.

Fast forward 2 years and I decided to get their annual membership again. This time for one adult and one child. While you hear of many Zoo’s that don’t treat their animals well, one thing I love about ZSL is all that they do for their animals. You can feel the love the Zoo Keepers have for the animals they look after. 

And every time I visit there, I learn something new. I also love that from such a young age, S is absorbing it all as well. 

More recently, ZSL embarked on protecting Sumatran Tigers and back in June, two tiger cubs were more at the Zoo. They are adorable!

All the funds raised by ZSL go back into the Zoo. They recently revamped their lion enclosure and it is amazing! You really feel like you’re in India. They designed it to give Zoo goers a very realistic take on the lion’s  original environment. Being of Indian origin myself, I can tell you they got it down to a tee. I have to admit I was surprised they haven’t got any backlash for having various idols dotted around the enclosure but personally I feel it all adds to the charm.

At every opportunity around the Zoo they provide information for learning as well as information that let’s you know more about their animals. At all feels very personal.

The gorilla loves to put on a show and you can get quite up close and personal with their jiraffes during feed times. 

If you plan your day right, you can feed the meerkats yourself and watch the penguins being fed. If it’s a hot summers day, don’t forget the sprinklers at the back, kids love running through them. They also have a lovely little playground, a carousel and in the summer, a bouncy castle.

ZSL obviously enjoy their work, they recently had a naked fundraising streak event to raise money for the tigers! You can read more about that here

If you’re visiting London or even if you live here, I totally recommend visiting and supporting the Zoological Society of London. You can read more about what they do here

The scarecrows wedding, London 

A couple of months ago my friend R asked if S and I would like to join her and her little girl to go and see The Scarecrows Wedding. To be honest I’d never heard of it but S loves going to the theatre to essentially watch books he’s read. We’ve previously been to see The tiger who came to tea, Peppa Pig and Ben and Holly. So I ordered the book and he’s read it quite a bit in the last month.

Leicester Square theatre isn’t huge and R had booked us tickets in the very first row so we got to watch the show up close and personal. The stage was quite “busy” with props but the show only had 3 actors. Although they do follow the story, they set the scene with a few songs. 10 minutes in and S asked me when the scarecrows were going to come out 😕 They were already on stage…
Once they got into the show, it was pretty entertaining. There were lots of songs (which obviously they don’t have in the book), Betty and Harry were played by 2 individuals but everyone else in the play was depicted by 1 actor. There were a lot of scenes where you had to use your imagination and I did wonder if it would go over the kids heads but I think I underestimated them. It was quite humorous (they involved the audience a couple of times) and I looked over to see S sniggering. Another time I looked over and he was bopping his head to one of the songs.

The whole show was only 55 minutes. S did get a little restless half way through but overall I think he and N enjoyed it. I do think it would have been nice if they had one other actor playing all the animals and left the original actor to just be the farmer and the narrator.

As far as plays go, it was pretty well done. The acting was great and their musical abilities were fantastic. As far as stories go (I realised this a bit late), I think it’s weird that a children’s book introduces smoking of cigars. But I’ve used it to my advantage and S now declares “mummy smoking is very bad!!” everytime he sees a no smoking sign or when we get to that part of the book. 

The Scarecrows Wedding is playing at The Leicester Square Theatre until the 4th of September so you still have lots of time to catch the show. 

Mae Deli by #EllaWoodward 

It seems that every where you turn these days, there stands Ella Woodward. I’ve read 4 different interviews in 4 different publications in as many weeks. She’s certainly taking over the the cooking world by storm. I also follow her on Instagram where I heard about Mae Deli, her new establishment in Seymour Place, London.

*Please excuse the photo bomber!

My friend Nida is a fan of her smoothies so we thought we’d go check out the deli. It’s a great location, just behind Oxford Street/Marble Arch. We got there around 10:15 and it was busy the whole time we were there.

Nida ordered the Rocky Road bar, porridge and gluten free bread with almond nut butter. I too decided on the gluten free bread with almond butter and got a couple of the Orange sesame truffles to go. Unfortunately they were out of power balls and it was only 10:30am.

We got the porridge while still at the till and they said the toast would be brought to us but 10 minutes later we couldn’t even see it being made. A few minutes later one of the stuff came to check on what we ordered and said the toast was on its way.

I was slightly disappointed to realise it was on Rye bread. I was expecting it to be on normal looking bread but without the gluten. I also made the error of thinking Rye was gluten free and so I didn’t bother to take it back to the till. The combination of Rye and Almond Butter was very heavy and quite dry. It kept sticking to the roof of my mouth and I don’t think the Rye was toasted.

The Rocky Road was quite tasty, as were the Orange sesame truffles I bought. Sweetened with dates and no refined sugar, it felt good eating a “real” treat.

I like the philosophy behind the deli even though I couldn’t possibly live up to them all!

There was also a fridge full of fresh juices.

We sat upstairs on the bar stools but there’s a quaint dimly lit cafe style area downstairs. 

I’d be intrigued to visit again for lunch but in terms of the breakfast, I can’t say it won me over! While I think it’s amazing what Ella has achieved at her age, I think there needs to be more focus at the deli. There were so many staff standing around but yet we got the wrong order and after quite a wait.

I would definitely pop in to get some of the Orange sesame truffles or The  Rocky Road again. Hopefully next time they’ll have the power balls.

Have you been to Mae Deli? What did you think? 

The Natural History Museum, London 

We woke up this morning and after a bit of lazing around, came down for breakfast and watched Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures. S sat totally enraptured and kept talking about the T-Rex. So in the spur of the moment I asked him if he’d like to see some dinosaurs and off to The National History Museum we went.

I feel so blessed to live in a city that offers so much…for me and my child. Although S is still young, we’ve travelled quite a bit and done a lot of touristy things in and around London. He may not remember it all but it definitely tickles his curiosity.

We drove through Hyde Park and straight down Museum Road where we were lucky to get a spot on a yellow line right beside the museum.

The first thing you notice is just how beautiful the building is and I know my boy will be a little culture vulture when he turned to me and said “That’s a beautiful building mama”. Yes S, it really is!

Like most museums in London, The National History Museum is free to enter although they do ask you to donate what you can. Given how amazing it is, I think the suggested £5 is well worth it.

As soon as you enter you’re greeted by an enormous dinosaur skeleton. The sheer size of it in what is an architectural dream is something to see.

We walked through the museum looking for the other dinosaurs and took a detour through the the area covering the human body. Although I didn’t get a chance to read it all, the information they provided on the human body was mind blowing. There is a lot to learn about how we develop as well as our perceptions and thoughts. When S is older, he would most definitely benefit from coming back, it’s a great learning resource.

We finally found the dinosaurs and the peice de la resistance, The T-Rex!!

They have done *such* an amazing job with this, I did wander for a split second if it was real 😉 S of course totally thought it was and spent a good 10 minutes just taking it all in. I didn’t take a video because it was too dark but the dinosaur moves, opens his mouth, stamps his feet and gazes into your eyes like he’s trying to befriend you.

Following on from the T-Rex we saw some smaller dinosaurs outside who also looked pretty life like although not quite as amazing as their older counterpart. They too moved and gazed!

We ended our visit in the museum shop, as you do, where S got a mini T-Rex that opens and shuts his mouth with the press of a button.

We were only there for an hour but given S’s attention span and age, it was more than enough. I have a feeling we’ll be going back often just to visit Mr. T-Rex!

The museum is really easy to get to by public transport as well and is in the same vicinity as the science museum (which is on our list of places to visit).

Southbank over half term (Feb 2016)

As much as we love to travel, we decided to stay put in London this half term. However, I am on a mission to make the most of the week off. With S being in full time school now, we don’t get a lot of time to do much else. His days are quite long and we save the weekends for some much needed chill out time.

A few weeks ago my friend Ritu and I decided we’d meet with the kids at Westfield but given the nice weather (no rain!) we decided to take them down to Southbank instead. We met at Waterloo Station at midday and walked on over.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before how much I love Southbank. It’s my favourite part of London. We walked passed an amazing array of street food on our way to the Southbank Centre but we’d already decided we’d take S and N to Giraffe for lunch.

The Southbank Centre are running a week of kids activities (The Imagine Children’s Festival) and lots of parents were making the most of the sunny weather.

Lunch at Giraffe was good as usual. We had to wait about 20 minutes for a table but given that we just showed up there, that wasn’t too bad. As we sat outside a waitress came to ask if we wanted anything to eat or drink while we waited so got some cappuccino’s for ourselves and chips for the kids. Once seated the waitress serving us was delightful. She made the kid’s day by giving them lots of coloured plastic giraffes.

After lunch we walked along the river, went on a carousel ride, popped into the playground, watched a magician and finally ended up in the Southbank Centre.

Although we didn’t explore the whole space, there were lots of children with their faces painted and as we were leaving, I glanced downstairs and spotted this awesome floor black board (wish I’d seen it earlier).

We stayed thinking there was a showing of Matilda 20 minutes later but instead we ended up watching a short 20 minute Nigerian Cartoon. I spent much of my life in Nigeria and even I struggled to understand it all.

Glancing at the timetable of events as we were leaving, I spotted a few things I think S might enjoy so we may pop back down there later in the week.

The other thing I spotted under the Hungerford bridge near the Southbank Centre was a small rollerskating tent named bump roller disco. S was totally fascinated by it and they had some 3 wheeler supports for less skilled skaters. I’m sure he’d manage it with one of those supports.

For a fun, activity filled afternoon with your kids this week, head on down to Southbank, you won’t be sorry!

Family Fever