Luxury Family Holidays Handpicked for Parents

Monthly Archives: May 2015

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 .

Melissa and Jasmine Hemsley are the Golden girls of healthy cooking. Between blogging for, writing their second book (The Art of Eating Well is out now and Good and Simple will be out next March), and appearing on magazine covers and television screens regularly, they are seriously busy women. But we are delighted that they have taken some time out of their very, very busy schedules to share three recipes with All are designed to make you feel your best, they are great options on holiday this summer for parents and little ones alike, and your children will love making them with you. And if they leave us looking half as good as either sister, we’ll make them daily for life. Thank you Melissa and Jasmine.

Melissa and Jasmine Hemsley

Blueberry, Lime and Lavender Cocktails
“A refreshing refined sugar-free cocktail that’s perfect for a summer’s day. It is a family favorite and the subtle flavour of lavender is absolutely irresistible.”
Blueberry Lime and Lavender cocktails by Hemsley and Hemsley


150 g fresh blueberries

6 tbsp raw honey (or more to taste)

1½ tsp dried lavender

500 ml coconut water

125 ml lime juice

250 ml vodka


1. Wash the blueberries thoroughly. Pulse them with the honey and lavender in a food processor or blender with 250 ml of water to make a lavender-infused syrup.

2. Strain the syrup into a jug using a fine sieve or a piece of cheesecloth, making sure you squeeze all the goodness from the blueberry-lavender pulp. Add the coconut water, lime and vodka and stir thoroughly.

3. When ready to serve, add the frozen blueberries.


150 g frozen blueberries

Use frozen blueberries as ice cubes and let them bob around in this pretty cocktail. Freeze them in a single layer on a baking tray.

Lamb Meatballs with Cauliflower Tabbouleh
“We’ve given this Middle-Eastern classic a Hemsley twist by making it grain-free and swapping bulgur wheat for cauliflower. To make your meat go further you can add grated carrot, shredded celery, cooked pulses and even the carrot pulp from your juicer.”
Lamb Meatballs with Cauliflower Tabbouleh by Hemsley and Hemsley


500 g minced lamb or beef (don’t go for lean mince)

1 egg

1 small onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, diced

1 tsp sea salt

½ tsp black pepper

A large pinch of ground cumin and a large pinch of ground cinnamon

1 tbsp ghee, for frying a pinch of ground chilli or a little fresh chilli (optional)


2 cauliflowers

1 tbsp ghee or butter

2 red onions or 2 bunches of spring onions, finely chopped

4 large tomatoes, diced

3 large handfuls of fresh parsley, finely chopped

A large handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped juice of 1 lemon

6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper


Chopped radishes, nuts or seeds (such as almonds, pistachios or sunflower seeds), to garnish


1. First make the tabbouleh. Remove the caulifower leaves and the tough end of the stalk. Grate the cauliflower into rice-sized pieces using the slicing attachment of a food processor or the coarse side of a hand-held grater.

2. Steam the grated cauliflower in a saucepan, lid on, with a couple of tablespoons of water and the ghee or butter. Over a medium heat, it should take roughly 4−6 minutes for the cauliflower to cook (not too soft!). Check there is enough water at the bottom of the pan so that the cauliflower doesn’t burn. Drain any excess water and tip the steamed cauliflower into a large serving bowl.

3. While the cauliflower cools, chop up the rest of the tabbouleh ingredients, then combine everything together. Taste for seasoning.

4. In a large bowl, combine all the meatball ingredients, except the ghee, and mix well.

5. In a wide saucepan over a medium heat, add a little ghee and fry a small piece of the meatball mixture and taste to check for seasoning. Adjust the remaining mixture as necessary.

6. Wet your hands and shape the mince mixture into balls. We use roughly 1½ teaspoons of the mixture per meatball to make about 20 balls, but make them any size you like. Just remember, the larger they are, the longer they’ll take to cook.

7. Heat up a little more ghee and, over a medium-high heat, fry the meatballs in a few batches until lightly browned on all sides and cooked through – this should take about 6–7 minutes. You can always brown the meatballs in advance and finish them off in the oven later if you’re having people round.

Pea and Mint Lollies With Chocolate
(Makes 900ml of ice cream).
“This wholefood, delicious dessert is a hit with children and parents, alike. Sweet, creamy and satisfying, you’d never guess they were packed full of vitamin-rich peas.”
Pea and mint lollies with chocolate by Hemsley and Hemsley


350 g frozen petits pois

1 tin of full-fat coconut milk

150 g full-fat probiotic

Natural yoghurt

4 tbsp raw runny honey

1 tsp peppermint

Extract or 50 g fresh mint leaves and a little peppermint extract, too

A pinch of sea salt

A handful of cacao nibs )optional)


50 g cacao powder

80 g raw runny honey

1 tbsp coconut oil


1. To make the pea and mint ice cream base, blend all the ingredients except for the cacao nibs together until very smooth.

2. To make the chocolate sauce, measure out all the ingredients into a jug or small bowl and stir together, along with 9 tbsp hot water.

3. To make the ice cream, place the pea and mint base into an ice cream maker and, following the manufacturer’s instructions, churn until you have ice cream. When it is ready, scoop the ice cream into bowls and sprinkle with cacao nibs and drizzle with chocolate sauce to serve. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, pour the pea and mint mixture into ice cube moulds and freeze. Pulse the frozen cubes in a food processor for a soft serve ice cream.

4. To make 12 lollies, make up half the quantity of pea and mint base and add about 4 teaspoons into the bottom of tall shot glasses or lolly moulds and pop into the freezer. After 20 minutes or more, insert a lolly stick into the pea mixture and pour some of the chocolate sauce around it. Repeat with the pea and mint base and finish with the chocolate sauce, freezing for 10 minutes between layers. Freeze the finished lollies for a further 2 hours, then enjoy.

5. Alternatively, mix the half-quantity of pea and mint base for the lollies with the chocolate sauce and pour into shot glasses. Insert the lolly sticks and freeze for at least 2 hours before serving.

8. Serve the meatballs with the tabbouleh and your choice of toppings scattered over the top.

The Art of Eating Well by Melissa and Jasmine Hemsley is out now. (Ebury Press, £25)

Good and Simple is due for release on 3rd March 2016

The Hemsley Spiralizer is out now and available to purchase for £29.95. See for stockists.


Ok, so you all know how much we love a little Heidi Klein round these parts. And if you’re in London today or tomorrow, head to Selfridges for some personalised Heidi in your life.

Heidi Klein monogrammed espadrilles

We’re headed into summer and, let’s face it, an hour or two in Selfridges never hurt anyone. And from 12 – 8pm today and tomorrow (May 15th and 16th 2015), renowned fashion embroiderer Laura Lees is offering Selfridges shoppers the opportunity to have their initials embroidered in gold thread on either their Heidi Klein swimwear or accessories.

“We wanted to offer the Selfridge shopper something personal this summer.  Having your initials, or those of  your little girl, sewn onto a bikini or even espadrilles by expert Laura Lees is a luxurious touch we hope shoppers will enjoy. It’s great for gifting and our new girls collection,” says co-founder Penny Klein.

Heidi Klein model on boat

And if you’ve not checked out the new range of Heidi Klein swimwear for girls, this is a great excuse to do so. With gorgeous hues and pretty anchor designs across both one-piece swimsuits and bikinis, the collection also features rash vests and adorable knee length dresses. And for big girls, the cut of Heidi Klein’s swimwear is wonderfully forgiving, sexy and extremely comfortable. And, personally, we adore monogramming so this is our idea of a weekend well spent.

Heidi Klein blue dressHeidi Klein girl in pink swimwearLola poolside in Heidi Klein

To view the Heidi Klein girls’ range click here.

To view the entire Heidi Klein range click here.

To read our interview with Heidi Klein about the launch of the girls’ range click here.

Heidi Klein with her daughter Madeleine

So, having just returned from Los Angeles – a city I never expected to be half as family-friendly as it is – I stand firmly corrected. I flew to LAX in late March with Lola and, honestly, wasn’t sure what to expect. I had been to LA before with her when she was a tiny baby but, returning with her as a toddler, I wasn’t wholly convinced a sprawling Californian metropolis, infamous for bad traffic and even worse air quality, was really the finest choice of destinations for the Easter holidays. But we had a bawl. Los Angeleans are lovely, children are thought of at every single turn and the luxury family hotels tick absolutely every single teeny tiny box. Lola announced at one point, “Mummy, I love America” and, considering the fabulous places we stayed, I can’t blame her. Herewith, our best family hotels in Los Angeles.

The Langham Huntington, Pasadena

Located in the stunning and very picturesque area of Pasadena, The Langham Huntington is a perfect, very luxurious family-friendly hotel. A far cry from the tattoo parlours and edgy bars of West Hollywood, the area is defined by large, sweeping avenues, enormous and very beautiful homes, lovely local eateries and excellent shopping. The Langham Huntington is a sensational property and, though it is close to downtown Los Angeles, it feels a million miles from the heaving traffic and buzz of the city. Set against the San Gabriel mountains, there are no less than 23 lush garden acres to explore and a fantastic swimming pool that serves as the real heartbeat of the hotel. An array of wonderful activities for children interject every major holiday throughout the year (such as the hotel’s infamous Easter egg hunt followed by brunch) but, no matter what time of year you arrive, children are welcomed with open arms and a gorgeous backpack of goodies, to boot.

The Langham Pasadena exteriorThe Langham Pasadena poolLangham LA 2

To book this hotel click here.

The Peninsula, Beverly Hills

The Peninsula Beverly Hills is one of those hotels that leaves you wondering what on earth you ever did to deserve such a spoiling stay. From the moment you walk into to the lobby – adjacent to the hotel’s sitting room where delightful tea is served every day – you’ll be blown away by the immaculate level of service, to-die-for interiors and gorgeous, luxurious touches. The concierge is one of the best we have ever encountered with a knowledge of the area that must be unrivalled. The food is memorably good and the swimming pool, with its near panoramic views of the city, takes you far and away from the hustle and Beverly Hills bustle below. Just a few blocks from Rodeo Drive, this is a great choice if some retail therapy is on the agenda.

The Peninsula Beverly Hills pool cabanasThe Peninsula Beverly Hills pink suiteThe Peninsula Beverly Hills pink bedroom


To book this hotel click here.

The Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills

The Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills is one of those rare hotels that manages to combine old school Hollywood glamour with all the trappings of a modern day, contemporary, and very luxurious hotel. An iconic property in the heart of the much sought after Beverly Hills area, the Four Seasons is a large but very welcoming family-friendly hotel that is an ideal spot no matter how large or small your family. The bedrooms are huge, especially if you book into a suite, so there is room for everyone and many have (well secured) balconies that offer sweeping views across the Los Angeles cityscape. The outdoor pool is a gorgeous area that you’ll naturally all gravitate towards. The pool is spacious, (you’ll find sunscreen ready and waiting so don’t worry if you forget your own) and it is nicely nestled next to the gorgeous Cabana restaurant (where you’ll enjoy breakfast each morning) and the infamous spa. Whatever you need, the hotel’s knowledgable concierge will gladly help and the hotel, like all respectable LA properties, offers a valet service for cars so you can rock up, hand over the keys, and relax. Oh, and the flowers must be seen to be believed……

The Four Seasons Beverly Hills bedThe Four Seasons Beverly Hills poolThe Four Seasons Beverly Hills lobby


To book this hotel click here.

Or, for more luxury family hotels in Los Angeles, click here.