Luxury Family Holidays Handpicked for Parents


Tom Laing is a freelance travel writer currently based in Santiago, Chile. He grew up in Sussex, spending his summers jumping in freezing rivers in the Scottish Highlands and trying to light fires in the drizzle. A self-confessed travelaholic who has visited close to 80 countries (and counting), he now focuses on passing on his wanderlust to his 18 month old son, Joshua. He writes about his recent trip to the the Shangri-La Le Touessrok Resort & Spa in Mauritius and why it mustn’t be missed when planning family holidays.

Tom Laing and Joshua

It’s hard not to be wowed by the arrival at the Shangri-La Le Touessrok Resort & Spa in Mauritius. A long driveway winds through palm trees before opening out to reveal the cobalt ocean beyond the onsite helipad. Pulling up at the entrance, a beaming porter hands you a damp towel to scrub off the journey before escorting you along a walkway over a fish-filled pool, which sweeps you into the cool, airy lobby.

Unfortunately my entrance wasn’t quite this smooth, disrupted somewhat as we crossed the pool. Our 18 month old son Joshua, still holding the plastic spade that he’d carried with him from the UK, picked his moment and lobbed it at a passing carp. The spade ricocheted off the floor and disappeared under the walkway, agonisingly out of my reach even whilst sprawled sheepishly on my tummy, arm reaching into the slimy depths below whilst Josh peered over the edge above me, chattering excitedly at the fish. The damp-towel porter got a bit damper in the retrieval, handing the spade back to Josh with an extravagant bow before departing to change his trousers.

Shangri-La Le Touessrok Resort & Spa in Mauritius waterway

We make a beeline for Le Touessrok’s main beach, a stretch of white powdery sand facing a little island and a sheltered lagoon of clear blue water. A waiter patrols the beach on a Segway, delivering fruit and cocktails to scattered sunbathers. The flight seems an age away as we stretch out on towels, Josh industriously shifting sand between buckets as the waves lap at his feet. Just above the beach, the main pool is as warm as a bath and one end is just as shallow – ideal for little ones to splash around in whilst Mum and Dad sprawl in the sun. The other pool, over at the Frangipanni wing, is adults-only for those looking for a more sedate experience. 

The hotel has a children’s centre known as the T-Club, which puts on children’s activities every day if they want a change from the bucket and spade; line them up for a table tennis competition or let them loose on the climbing frame. There are even giant tortoises to hunt in the garden.

Shangri-La Le Touessrok Resort & Spa in Mauritius beach

Children’s meals can be organised for lunch and supper – T-Club staff accompany the children to the main restaurant leaving Mum and Dad to sample the smarter options elsewhere. Try Saffron, an Indian restaurant that serves up Southern Indian dishes such as tandoori salmon or Mauritian classics (there’s a strong Indian influence on the island) such as chicken and prawn curry, or Kushi, a Japanese restaurant with its own sushi chef.

Shangri-La Le Touessrok Resort & Spa in Mauritius pool

We wander in to the T-Club late our first evening, disorientated after the flight and looking for some pasta and cheese sauce for Josh. Supper duly delivered, we stick around, trading jokes with the older kids whilst Josh throws penne on the floor. There’s nothing to make you feel old like being asked to tell a joke to a 6 year old and receiving a withering “I’ve heard that one before” when you deliver your killer punchline.

 Shangri-La Le Touessrok Resort & Spa in Mauritius pool and beach

“What do you call a round apple?” our new friend Milly asks, launching into a joke of her own. “A face!”

I confess I didn’t get it, and Milly must have seen it in my expression.

“Because a face is round, like an apple!” Milly explains, knowingly. Perhaps you had to be there, I mumble in response.

The next morning, my wife and I go in search of the spa – we might as well take advantage of the babysitting on offer, after all. The 90 minute couples’ massage draws our attention, so Josh is safely deposited, making the most of the special rate on the 4-hour block so as not to rush that blissful post-spa feeling. If weary parents start wondering why they brought the terrors on holiday in the first place, there’s even an 8-hour option.

Shangri-La Le Touessrok Resort & Spa in Mauritius beachfront 

Alternatively, you can take them along with you and make the most of the children’s spa menu – how about a family body painting session to introduce the little nippers to the joys of holistic wellness? Inspired by body painting traditions of the rainforest and involving a body scrub, mud painting and a soothing body balm massage to finish, it’ll be sure to raise expectations for all future family holidays. 

After a couple of days spent digging up the various beaches, we venture further afield, catching a boat from the hotel’s jetty to the hotel’s private island of Ilot Mangénie just off the coast. Ringed by soft white sand, we spend an afternoon exploring this forested islet before tucking into some lobster and shellfish under the trees.

Our next stop is Trou aux Biches, on Mauritius’ North West tip. The beach villas stretch along the length of the hotel’s long coastline, each with its own private plunge pool. They’re well equipped for youngsters – we find a cot pre-made in the spacious room, and a baby bath and children’s loo seat and potty ready in the bathroom, whilst a highchair can be delivered by room service.

Shangri-La Le Touessrok Resort & Spa in Mauritius palm trees 

Across the hotel, other swimming pools and gardens offer plenty of little areas for Josh to chase birds and hunt lizards in the shade. The beach, of course, is only metres away – ideal for toddler tumbles although as I discovered the soft fine sand is structurally unsound from a sandcastle-building perspective. Josh seems unperturbed, more inclined to collect pieces of coral from the water’s edge whilst I work on my Caernarfon replica undisturbed.

Behind the beach, a palm-thronged promenade winds its way through the trees in front of the villas. A golf buggy laden with drinks and snacks patrols up and down, stocking up thirsty sunbathers with refreshments and met, on each lap, by an excited “Ice cream!” by Josh.

Having developed a taste for it at the Shangri-La, we go to check out the Bob Marlin kids’ club, planning another pampering in the spa sans-child. A big paddling pool and playground quickly catch Josh’s eye, and various activities, ranging from collage-making and face-painting to cooking classes and treasure hunts promise to keep the little ones distracted for hours.

The place really comes into its own after dark. Thousands of lights illuminate the walkways and line the pools, connecting the clusters of villas to the hotel’s 6 restaurants and bars. With Josh safely tucked up in bed, we venture out one evening to the Thai restaurant Blue Ginger for a civilised supper of pad thai and prawn skewers – meals with Josh invariably descend into a food fight or hunger strike, depending on his mood. The meal is interspersed with quick dashes towards our room as the range of our brand new baby monitor doesn’t quite reach our table. Heaven’s knows what our fellow diners think, seeing us sporadically leave the restaurant only to pause halfway across the lawn, peering at a screen and nodding to ourselves with satisfaction before returning to the table. Still, it’s a small price to pay to enjoy a glass of wine without fear of small hands hurling it across the room.

Shangri-La Le Touessrok Resort & Spa in Mauritius Tom, Abbie and Joshua

Our final stop takes us back to the East coast, just up the shoreline from Le Touessrok to the Lux* Belle Mare. Boasting the largest pool in Mauritius, a grand sweep of water overlooked by the main restaurant and bar on one side and sun-loungers on the other, the Belle Mare is one of three Lux* properties on the island.

By this stage Josh is an expert, heading directly for the pool and not breaking a stride as he calls for his buckets over his shoulder. Mummy and Daddy follow obediently with towels, hats, and suncream, and all the other paraphernalia that accompany a little person on holiday.

The next morning they lay on a special breakfast on the beach. The tide slowly crawls up the sand towards our feet as we eat fresh fruit, and eggs and bacon under the cover of a big umbrella, the warm breeze hinting at another hot day to come. Josh slurps on mango juice and tucks into a huge plate of watermelon, whilst waiters fuss around bringing him crayons and paper, and an extra bucket and spade. After a week in Mauritius, he’s certainly made himself at home.

Our last evening we book a babysitter for an uninterrupted supper at the Indian restaurant Amari by Vineet, run by Michelin star chef Vineet Bhatia. We start with the chicken tikka trilogy – 3 different flavours of chicken tikka, one coated in malai-pine nuts, another marinated in chili-lime and the third covered in black spices, followed by lobster with a macadamia chili crust and a lentil sauce; absolutely delicious.

Exhausted by a day paddling in the sea, and not much of a curry fan at 18 months, Josh is bathed and sleeping long before our supper time. The babysitter arrives once he’s already down, so we leave her to sit in a dark room for 3 hours whilst we pop out.

Mauritius is made for family holidays, and it seems a shame to tear Josh away from the beach to head home. The only downside is that he seems to have grown a little too accustomed to the service – I haven’t delivered the watermelon he just ordered and he appears to be calling for the manager. 

Fact Box:

Susie Freeman Travel offers the following packages:

Seven nights half board in a Deluxe Ocean View Room at Shangri-La Le Touessrok Mauritius from £1500 per person including return flights in economy and return private car transfers.

Seven nights half board in a Junior Suite at Trou aux Biches Beachcomber Resort and Spa from £1825 per person including return flights in economy and return private car transfers.

Seven nights half board in a Junior Suite at Lux* Belle Mare from £1500 per person including return flights in economy and return private car transfers.

Tel: 01488 668821

The half-term holidays are heaven in this house. Everyone is shattered, overworked and the kids are usually snotty (let’s be honest) with the ever-changing outdoor temperatures. Lola sleeps late and I revel in not doing the school run. But if we aren’t jetting off it’s lovely to inject a little culture amidst the sleepy, sofa-filled afternoons and blustery beach walks we all so love. And this half term that’s easier than ever. Best of England, which launched with the aim of providing a carefully curated portfolio of independent businesses throughout the country (think pubs, restaurants, vineyards, places to stay, antique treasure troves and family days out), have come up with their top English favourite family-friendly museums, which we thought we’d share in case you need a little inspiration……

The Jerwood Gallery, Hastings

Jerwood Gallery Hastings

The Jerwood Gallery is a modern building located in the utterly charming and historic old town of Hastings. Home to the Jerwood Collection of modern British art, the gallery is fabulous for art fanatics, but it is also suitable for less experienced visitors and families visiting with younger children. There’s even a children’s trail to help you explore the gallery, its collection and exhibitions so they won’t feel they’re being dragged around a grown up exhibition and are much more likely to get involved with what they’re seeing.

The Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne

The Towner Art Gallery Eastbourne

The Towner Art Gallery is an award winning contemporary art gallery and museum in Eastbourne. Every summer, they present a major exhibition, with recent shows including Eric Ravilios, John Piper and Peggy Angus. Open since 1923, The Towner collection now numbers over 4,000 art objects including oil paintings, watercolours, works on paper, etchings, prints, sculpture, wood cuts and ceramic objects and is one of the most significant public art collections in the South East. The museum is very welcoming to kids and families with regular activities and workshops to keep the little ones busy. There is a cafe on the top floor with views over Eastbourne and entry is free. (Note the gallery is closed on Mondays).
Pallant House Gallery, Chichester

 Pallant House Gallery, Chichester

Pallant House Gallery is located in the historic town of Chichester, tucked away behind East and South street. It may not have the reputation of The Tate but this gallery holds one of the most significant collections of Modern British Art in the country. Aside from its exhibition programme, it also offers an array of talks, workshops for both children and adults, tours, a specialist on-site bookshop and an on-site restaurant with courtyard garden.

The Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft, Ditchling

The Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft, Ditchling

Situated in the attractive town of Ditchling, The Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft is an unmissable stop for those on the art trail in Sussex. The Museum has a fantastic collection of local artwork and artifacts that focus on showcasing Ditchling’s finest artist’s work. In 2012 the buildings were part of a massive renovation project and have been beautifully finished. The Museum also has a large open café and shop, serving delicious locally sourced cakes and drinks. As well as exhibitions and galleries the Museum also hold a variety of workshops and events including regular art clubs for young people.

The De La Warr Pavillion, Bexhill

The De La Warr Pavillion, Bexhill

The De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea has become a modernist icon on the South Coast and provides a fantastic program of contemporary arts, renowned musicians and learning activities. The building was the result of an architectural competition held in 1934 and, as well as browsing through the art work or watching live music, you can enjoy some delicious food in the Café Bar, which overlooks the beautiful coastline. A large veranda is gorgeous on summery days and, as family days out go, this is a fabulous option.

Culinary Backstreets got its start in 2009 as the blog Istanbul Eats, founded by Ansel Mullins and Yigal Schleifer. Taking on its present form in 2012, it has expanded beyond Istanbul and into several other cities worldwide. In Istanbul and elsewhere, the goal is always the same: to introduce travelers and locals to a city’s best unknown traditional eateries and to celebrate the food makers keeping these places alive. Yigal Schleifer is Culinary Backstreet’s Editor-in-chief and chats to about this fantastic, family-friendly business.

Culinary Backstreets Kostas

So what exactly is Culinary Backstreets’ Eatinerary?

The Eatinerary is a food-focused custom travel itinerary that we developed after realizing two important things: firstly, finding great local and authentic places to eat and avoiding tourist traps is one of the most stressful parts of travel and, secondly, more and more people now are structuring their travel days around where they eat, making the search for those great food spots all the more important (and, again, stressful). So, we decided to make it easier for travelers by crafting for them an itinerary that guides them to all those vacation-defining, special places that they might not have found on their own. The final product is a PDF document that can be either printed out or used on a mobile device that serves as an indispensible travel companion.

How does is work?

The Eatinerary is created using a client’s taste and Culinary Backstreets’ on-the-ground expertise. To get started, someone goes to our site and fills out the online Eatinerary survey, which asks them a series of questions that gives us a good sense of how and what they like to eat and what particular cravings they may have. We then send that survey to one of our local correspondents who gets to work on creating the guide. Depending on the profile, we’ll send you to the best backstreet dive bar, the busiest lunchtime joint or a romantic place to impress your beloved. We’ll also advise you on eating with kids, the best options for vegetarians or what to avoid if you’re on a particular diet. And, whether it’s someone’s first or fiftieth time in a particular city, we’ll be sure to send them only to the spots that we’ve tried and tested ourselves.

Culinary Backstreets steamed buns

How can travelling families use the Eatinerary?

This service is really ideal for families, who have an even harder time when it comes to finding those perfect places to eat while travelling. As we all know, travelling with kids can often limit our options for what to do and where to go to eat, but we don’t think family travel should mean the end of eating really well. With our Eatinerary, for example, we’ve directed families to the best local spots in Barcelona that also serve dinner before bedtime, exceptional kebab joints in Istanbul that just happen to have kid-friendly museums nearby and to friendly Shanghai noodle houses where the staff will happily listen to your request to hold the spicy chili oil. Of course, with the Eatinerary we can also send a family to a city’s best traditional ice cream spots or its top chocolate makers, places that will leave the kids giddy with delight. We see our job as making sure our clients – and that includes the little ones – have the gastronomic holiday of a lifetime.

Culinary Backstreets child eating

Can you tell us a bit more about what else Culinary Backstreets offers?

The global guide to local eats, Culinary Backstreets covers the authentic food scene and offers small group culinary walks in several cities around the world. We got our start in 2009 as Istanbul Eats, a blog devoted to exploring Istanbul’s best local eateries, and soon after started offering food walks that took visitors off the typical tourist map and into neighborhoods and little restaurants they typically wouldn’t have gone to. In 2012, we expanded beyond Turkey, bringing our model of telling the story of a city through its food and the people who make it, to several other locations worldwide. Today, we are working in nine different cities and offer several different walks in each place we work in. Along with our reviews, walks and Eatineraries, we also help people explore our cities with guidebooks and an app that we’ve developed.

Where are you currently offering your Eatinerary service?

Eatineraries are available in every city that Culinary Backstreets works in, which currently include Athens, Barcelona, Istanbul, Lisbon, Mexico City, Rio, Shanghai, Tbilisi and Tokyo. But, we are always in the process of adding more cities to our roster, so stay tuned!

We spend a lot of time hauling little ones around with us, determined not to make leisure pursuits 100% ‘kid-friendly’ and lose all pre-kid identity. But, sometimes, the most relaxing thing to do is to just give over and head somewhere that caters for your family’s every need. Cue New Park Manor in the New Forest.
New Park Manor exterior
The phrases ‘family friendly’ and ‘luxury hotel’ aren’t instantly harmonious in my mind. It’s hard to appreciate the finer things in life when your (or, worst still, someone else’s) toddler is having a melt down or singing Frozen songs at maximum volume. However, once my mindset about luxury hotels (serene, chic, boozy, romantic) had readjusted, (welcoming, enthusiastic, helpful, homely) I realised that New Park Manor offered something pretty special – time away as a family, where everyone gets a proper break.
New Park Manor spa
On a recent road trip to the West Country we stopped off at New Park Manor in the New Forest – the closest property to London, nestled in the heart of one of the UK’s most family-friendly national parks. Just two hours from our front door, we drove up to an unassuming 17th century manor house surrounded by polo fields with pretty gardens and a hefty but complimentary modern extension. After a whirlwind tour we realised killing time at New Park Manor wouldn’t be a problem – several dining rooms, a snug, playroom, cinema room, creche, spa, outdoor pool, indoor pool, chicken coup, mini football pitch, trampoline and tipi were all at our fingertips.
New Park Manor pool
Our family suite was tucked away in the attic of the old house, where two cosy bedrooms and a huge bathroom were well kitted out for a weekend away. Travel cots, a baby monitor, creche details and even milk delivery and a cleaning schedule were all in place – reducing faff considerably. More time for lunch and exploring the hotel…
With so many kids on site, lunch at New Park Manor was a little more lively than anticipated. Tables were set up for kids as much as they were for adults with high chairs, plastic cutlery and huge plates of spaghetti bolognese in view at every turn. It wasn’t until the evening that I realised that dining at New Park Manor is a tale of two halves. At lunch and tea kids rule the show (between 4.30 and 6pm the hotel lay on a very convenient kids tea); after 7pm it’s all about the grown ups – seriously fine food, wine and candlelight with not a beaker in sight.
New Park Manor kids
The activities on offer at New Park Manor far outstripped our 24 hour visit, although our toddler did his best to tick them off – football, horses, tipi, chickens, trampoline, making ice cream sundaes, cartoons, painting and swimming; (that’s about a month’s worth of activities in the space of four hours). During this time, my husband and I managed to sneak away from the creche for full body massages and a wallow in the outdoor Jacuzzi – a magical spot overlooking the fog-filled forest.
If you can drag yourself away from the hotel (2 hours a day of complimentary creche time make it hard to do so), the New Forest is a haven of family-friendly fun. Gentle cycling paths and walking routes weave across wild heathlands filled with roaming deer and horses. Activities on the doorstep of the hotel also provide year-round entertainment, including numerous wildlife parks and the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu. For simple pleasures, Brockenhurst is home to wonderfully old-fashioned tea rooms and sweet shops. For seaside fun head to the pretty harbour town of Lymington for fish and chips and boutique shops and to the huge beach at Milford on Sea for big waves and Solent views.
To book this hotel click here.
For other UK family-friendly hotels click here.

Sian Gwilliam launched the fantastic website Creative Bus Stop to share her passion for the incredible cultural, creative and educational activities that are available in London and around the UK. She gave us some fantastic ideas for London fun last summer and she’s back with us again to chat what to do and where to go this half term and upcoming summer holiday.

1. Go Green at the Plantastic exhibition at The Horniman Museum

It’s the world famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show in May, and for those in the know, Dan Pearson who won ‘Best Show Garden’ for his stunning Chatsworth Garden started his career in gardening when he was 5 years old, helping his Dad dig a pond. So let’s take inspiration from him, and visit the Plantastic exhibition at The Horniman Museum in Forest Hill. From May 2015, Plantastic will be accompanied by specially designed and themed outdoor displays including a mass planting of sunflowers, a floral picture of the ‘anatomy’ of a flower, and a border themed around plants that attract pollinating insects.   Between 11-2.45pm daily in half term, join in the free craft Family Art Fun sessions too. A family ticket for the exhibition costs £16.50, so take a picnic and make a day of it.

2.  Join Alice and her Queen of Hearts in a Bethnal Green Wonderland 

In celebration of 150 years of this enchanting book, there are a range of Alice in Wonderland events happening around town this Spring. You can choose from free drop in daily events at our favourite museum The Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, such as Storytelling at 10,30.11,15 and 12pm, or Mad Hatter’s Hat Making 10.30, 11.45, 14.00, 15.15 or join artist Miriam Baez to create a bonkers hat inspired by wonderful images and imaginings from Alice’s world£5 (with parent or carer / Sign up on the day / For ages 5-12. Not forgetting the Playing Card Print Workshop at 11.15, 12.30, 14.30, 15.45.The Alice Look will run from May 2 – November 1 2015 at London’s V&A Museum of Childhood.

Alice in Wonderland

There is also the show ‘Adventures in Wonderland’ in the Waterloo Vaults SE1 7NN (runs until August) for ages 5-11 . Les Petits invites the audience to find Alice and Wander through Wonderland in a fun-filled, interactive adventure for all the family.Cost: Adults £18.50, Children £12.50. If you’re still hungry for tea and cake after that lot, look out for the family opera Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in Holland Park from 16th July – 1st August and then Damon Albarn’s musical for the National Theatre, in Manchester 29th – 12 July which moves to London from 27th November 2015.

3. Put the Spark back into Electricity at the Royal Institution

Join Marty Jopson at the RI’s half term family event Zap, crackle and pop! Marty is the BBC One Show’s resident scientist and during the show he takes a journey through the story of electricity . From the Ancient Greeks through to Faraday’s genius, the show aims to put the spark back into electricity. A show chock full of demonstrations and a plucked chicken. Expect an electrifying performance in this family-friendly show. Thursday 18 June, (18:00 –19:15) Booking essential : Prices; Standard £12/ Concession £8/ Associate Members £6.

4. All Aboard the Cutty Sark Museum

As far as days out in London go, heading to Greenwich has to be high on the list. It’s easy to get to by public transport (Jubilee line, boat or DLR) there’s the food market which is real tasty, and then you can choose from the Cutty Sark, Royal Observatory, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich Theatre, The Queens House, or just grab an ice-cream in Greenwich Park.

To get you started why not start at the Cutty Sark. You can choose from free half-term events, and join them on a voyage of discovery on Cutty the world’s last surviving tea clipper. If you love hands-on activities, come and design your own weather mobile to take home or create a colourful fish on a dish. Under-5s go free to Cutty Sark and parts of the Royal Observatory. Entry to the National Maritime Museum and Queen’s House is free.

The Cutty Sark

This Bank Holiday weekend only you can join The Big Swing Dance On the Gardens & Vintage Market in Cutty Sark Gardens. It runs from May 23rd-25th from 11am – 6pm every day. Featuring swing dance lessons conducted by The London Swing Dance Society and The Shag Pile dance team. (Shag Pile Lessons from Sat 23rd 12-2.30pm/Sun 24th 12-5pm/Mon 25th 12-2pm) who will be bringing their exuberance and passion for all things swing to the gardens with a heavy emphasis on fun and good times to get everyone going! If you’re a pizza lover, you can’t go wrong with a visit to our favourite double decker pizza bus The Crust ConductorThey serve bespoke wood fire pizza, which really are made with cheesy love. If you want an extra helping of mushrooms, just mention the Creative Bus Stop, and ask for Jonny (the boss) and you will get treated like pizza royalty.

5. Take a Graffiti Tour

We really can’t get enough of the infectious graffiti art that keeps popping up all over town, especially around Camden, Shoreditch and the famous Southbank Skatepark. If you want to be down with the kids, you should book on a Camden Street Art Tour. They run all year long, and this half term they are running on Bank Holiday Monday (Am & PM), Thursday morning, Friday (AM & PM), Saturday morning and Sunday AM & PM). The amazing thing about these tours, is that each one is timeless, as due to the nature of street art, the art keeps reinventing itself. Remember the first rule of Street Art : ‘It’s not meant to last forever’. (£15 per ticket, suitable for all ages). EXCLUSIVE TO KODOMO AND CREATIVE BUS STOP READERS –  ENTER SAVE20 ON CHECK OUT AND GET 20% OFF YOUR TICKET.

Southbank skatepark graffitiCamden graffitiCamden bus stop girls

6. The Southbank Loves You!

As hard as I try, it’s almost impossible not to share the love from the constantly changing line up of events that our Southbank Centre puts on for us all.  I recommend you arrive by foot (and scooter for the tiny tired legs) and either plant yourself near the Southbank Centre which is full of free tap water at the bar, and clean loos for the kids.  You can eat at one of the many chains (Wagamama, Eat, Giraffe, Canteen or Yo Sushi) but the queues are often long. To avoid the queues and a hefty bill, we always pack a few bagels and water for the kids, and venture to the food stalls at the Southbank Centre Market situated behind the Southbank Centre (Waterloo Station side). It is the most adventurous way to eat.

Southbank kidsSouthbank artSouthbank artSouthbank art


As it would be shy of me not to tell, here is the round up of Summer events you will find at your finger tips around the Bank of the South. Family Shows from critically-acclaimed theatre pop-up, Roundabout by Paines Plough, between the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Waterloo Bridge. Free events such as social dances, talks, workshops, and daily artistic activities. The iconic upside-down purple cow, the Udderbelly Festival (until 19 July) showing comedy, circus and family shows including the return of the popular show Bromance (24 June – 19 July). And (deep breath) London Wonderground(until 27 September) the festival renowned for showcasing the best circus and cabaret from across the world in a magnificent 1920s Spiegeltent. A major exhibition Carsten Höller: Decision, which will present a wide range of the artist’s work, including sculptures, installations and videos, which explore perception and decision making. The Poetry International Festival (23 – 26 July), the biennial festival co-founded by Ted Hughes in 1967. Meltdown (17 – 30 August), whose director this year is the multi-award-winning musician David Byrne, known for his eclectic collaborations and as a co-founder of the seminal new-wave band Talking Heads.


Bleeker St. Burger, recently rated the top 10 street food stalls in London, ) serving burgers, American Craft beer and milk-shakes, the return of SNOG frozen yoghurt sold from a restored pink 1967 Routemaster bus, Look Mum No Hands! serving coffee, fresh food and British Craft beer, and Bloody Oyster, serving oysters, Bloody Marys and cocktails from the top of a double-decker bus (situated between the Royal Festival Hall and Festival Village).


You can’t really make a visit to London without getting your t-shirt very wet (towel essential trust me) and running through the popular fountain right outside the Queen Elizabeth Hall Jeppe Hein’s Appearing Rooms. Take a walk up the curly staircase to the Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden, or bring your bucket and spade to the urban beach beside the river, it’s an institution, and all the kids just adore it.

Southbank kids

7.  Get Dirty Down at Fulham Palace

Have you ever been to Fulham Palace, you know the one which from around 700, (when the site was acquired by Bishop Waldhere), it served as a Bishop’s residence for over 12 centuries? I know you also knew that since Tudor times, the Palace was the Bishop of London’s country home, providing the Bishop and his family with a healthy rural retreat in summer months.

Well these days they not only look after the odd Bishop passing through West London, they also host lots of family events. On Bank holiday Monday (25 May between 1-4pm) you can join the Young Archaelogists Club (YAC) for a free drop in event (Ages 8+). Get your hands dirty and join the enthusiastic archaeologist volunteers on the Main Lawn for a hands-on session, introducing you to the world beneath your feet. There is also the Fulham Palace Fun Day, which is a free event on Wednesday 27 May, (10am-12pm and 1pm-3p). It will be a day of family fun including crafts, storytelling and dressing up! In partnership with H&F ALSS.

Looking forward don’t forget the annual Edwardian Garden Party on Sunday 21 June (1pm-4pm). The Bishops of London were well known for holding garden parties at Fulham Palace. Help them celebrate this tradition and come along for a day of family fun around the gardens. Take a turn on the swing boats, have your face painted, dance along to ragtime music and take part in some garden games and craft activities.

8. Join the Wild Network and Be A Wild Thing 

Project Wild Thing and The Wild Network is a people powered movement. The mission is simple to ‘reconnect kids with nature’.

It was born from the concern of a Dad called David Bond who became worried that his own kids’ waking hours are dominated by a cacophony of marketing, and a screen dependence threatening to turn them into glassy-eyed zombies. He was so worried he decided to create a campaign ‘Project Wild Thing’ and appointed himself Marketing Director for Nature. Like any self-respecting salesman, he enlisted the help of a number of bemused professionals, and began selling Nature to British families.

The film charts his humorous journey unearths some painful truths about modern family life. His product is free, plentiful and has proven benefits – but is Nature past its sell-by date? Watch the film, arrange a screening or even request a date for a Q&A with one of the Wild Thing team, who knows you could start a revolution in your own backyard, and all it would take is a launch party with a picnic in your local park.

Their website and App’s (for iOS/Andriod) give you hundreds of ideas of ways to have fun with nature. Or, you can download a free voucher on their site which promises that you spend time playing outside together (cute idea to put in a birthday card).

9.  Kiss A Hedgehoge in Hyde Park

This half term (and on other dates during the year) the award winning building that is the Isis Education Centre, bang in the middle of Hyde Park (to the north of the Serpentine) are hosting twoFREE Discovery Days dedicated to our much loved ‘Hedgehog Heroes‘. You can drop in any time between 11am and 3pm (on 27 & 28 May 2015) for a day of hedgehog themed activities including: Crafting a hedgehog from a paper plate, Paint or colour your own hedgehog picture, Learn to use radio tracking equipment (over 8s only), Help create a huge handprint hedgehog, Follow the Discovery Trail, to uncover prickly facts, Make a clay hedgehog and its very own habitat (for a suggested £2 donation) and finally learn and discover what you can do to help hedgehogs in your garden.

They also have an education day ‘Nature Explorers: Hedges & Hedgerows’ on Tuesday 26 May 2015: 10am – 3pm which is suitable for 8 to 11 year olds (15). Drop off at the Isis Education Centre for a fun filled (and educational!) day of outdoor games and activities this half term. Booking essential.

10. Theatre Tours and Puppet Theatre for your Little Angels

Please tell me you have been to The Little Angel Theatre in Islington? Not to be confused with the famous Little Angel pub in Henley On Thames! This Theatre is an institution in every way. Let me share a little of it’s history. In 1961 a troupe of enthusiastic puppeteers under the leadership of South African master, John Wright (Edgar Wright the film directors Dad), found a derelict temperance hall in Islington and transformed it into a magical little theatre, specially designed for children and for the presentation of marionette shows. It opened on Saturday 24th November 1961.

The Paper Dolls

Today it hosts the most charming and well performed productions, as well as puppetry courses for kids and adults, and the cutest local summer parties right outside the theatre. Running until 28-June is The Paper Dolls. It is a show adapted from the acclaimed book by Children’s Laureate Julia Donaldson. The magical tale is brought to life through puppetry and music in this new co-production between Little Angel Theatre and Polka Theatre. Suitable for age 3 to 7. Though worth noting is that they hold baby friendly shows, for babes under 3 (mostly Thursday 10.30, Saturday 11am and Sunday 11am check diary). Call box office for more info. £12 / £10 children and concessions £1.80 booking fee applies to all card transactions. Friday Fives: all tickets £5 for shows at 5pm on Friday .