Summer in the City

We asked one of our much loved Creatives Lauren to fill us in on her favourite parks in London to take the Bea & Co little’uns to …

So London, since we’ve been so lucky with the weather this Summer, here are my top five ‘HOT’ Spots for outings to help you lap up the sun in and around Central London (Children Optional 😉 )

Obviously St James’ Park and Green Park alike are super awesome in this weather, but I think my suggestions below might be a little less populated and a bit different for a sunny afternoon in town.

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In no particular order we have:

Corams Fields

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This grassy playground is one of my absolute favourites for a central London playdate! The entire area is gated and admission is allowed only for adults accompanying children, which is fab! 

A 15 minute walk from Kings Cross and just a few minutes from Russel Square and Holborn so access is great.

There are play-pits and climbing frames galore AND toilet facilities- WIN!

So, take a ball and let the little ones run around and climb free, safe in the knowledge that they are in totally enclosed space.

Granary Square

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Tucked in a pocket of Kings cross, this area is one of my favourite hangouts. 

During the summer deck chairs and giant screens are set up for screening of all manner of sports events.

I love to take children along (equipped with swim gear) to cool off in the fountains which squirt randomly from the ground. It’s a gorgeous walk along the canal to spot ducks and boats after some water play too. 

Caravan coffee supplies delightful treats and great coffee too so adults can sit and sip whilst kiddies play! Endless fun!! 

Lincoln’s Inn Fields

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I love Lincoln’s Inn fields for a sunny summer picnic. Just 2 minutes from Holborn station, the fields are set off the main road so this is a fabulous traffic free zone right in the heart of Central London! 

I like to pick up some snacks and strawberries from Sainsbury’s at Holborn, take my picnic blanket and set up camp, make daisy chains and play for the afternoon! 

If it’s your prerogative, the tennis courts are free to use too!

(TIGER have some wonderful, cost friendly outdoor toys and games that can be picked up for £5-£10! My out of town families, understandably, don’t always have a supply of toys with them so I’ve gotten myself a little selection that I can wheel around) 

Tower Hill Gardens

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I have found that this spot at Tower Hill is just a gorgeous sun trap with a fantastic view! There are hours of fun to be had spotting boats and watching Tower bridge unfold to reveal its magic gateway for boats!  There is a great little playground with cafes and shops nearby to pick up a picnic.

If you choose this hotspot for a sunny afternoon it would be a shame not to try out some of the other awesome activities that this area boasts too! With St Katherine Docks and Tower Pier so close, a boat trip is always a winner for me, just tap your oyster and hop on! 

Nearest stations Tower Hill or London Bridge.

Imperial War Museum

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Anyone who knows me as a Creative will know I think that the IWM can do no wrong!

Its great in rain or shine! The museum is full of fascinating things to see for all ages, I find that even with little concept of the subject matter the exhibitions are super entertaining, so really age friendly! 

The gardens surrounding the museum are particularly awesome at this time of year! Gorgeous grassy patches with flowers and trees, so plenty of shade. Having the museum to hand is excellent for a little light relief from the blazing sunshine and some glorious air conditioning! There also, are not many parks that you can reside in with a toilet in such close proximity! Here you can just pop in to use the loo or grab yourself a lovely iced latte to sip while the kiddies play out on the grass or climbing frames!

Another gem close to the IWM is the Oasis kids club which runs on a Monday and Friday morning at the moment. Entry is free or a small donation and a stay and play in a little hut behind the museum! So, if the children you’re with are a little young to look at the cars and planes in the museum, this is a great alternative with all of the same benefits in location!

Nearest Stations Lambeth North, Elephant and Castle or Waterloo.

Lauren x

#powerparent Lucy Hind

Meet the fabulous Lucy! One of the busiest Mummys we know travelling all over the country with cutie pie Davey in tow (he shall always be known as Baby Davey to us here at Bea & Co!) We caught up with her a few months ago when she was in London to see just how she does it!! X

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Describe your Family and your home environment

We live in Yorkshire, in a lovely village called Holmfirth. I live with my husband, Alan and 2.5 year old son Davey. I work a great deal in London and would not be able to do so without Bea & Co. 

Where do you work?

I am a Freelance Movement Director and Choreographer. Recently on Girl from the North Country and Sting’s The Last Ship. 

What did you want to be when you grew up?

A dancer 

Describe your typical working day 

If we are working in London, Davey usually wakes around 5:30/6am and I try get him to come and cuddle in bed with me for as long as possible! That usually works for about 3 minutes and we get up and go downstairs. I make coffee and he watches Cbeebies. We have breakfast and I prepare his packed snacks/lunch/dinner and we get ready. He’s such a great kid and is so used to travelling with me that he usually lets me shower and get ready while he plays. Then I try have a bit of play time with him before our Bea & Co nanny arrives. We usually only have a small selection of toys and books with us in whichever flat we are in, but we make do. 

It’s such a relief knowing that our nanny will come to us wherever we are, if it’s just a day trip or we have checked out of our hotel, they will meet us at the theatre (or often the train station and help carry our bags!) and take Davey off on an adventure. If I’m in tech they come and hang out in hotels or apartments and do bath and bedtime. We’d be lost without the flexibility. 

Davey used to really battle when I left, but now he just says ‘bye Mummy’ and happily sends me on my way! I try to find a flat close to where we are rehearsing so that I can get there quickly. 

Not all jobs help with accommodation so often we move around quite a bit to try to keep costs down. It’s not easy, but we have a streamlined system now and he is so good at going to sleep in new rooms. It’s more difficult in summer when it can be very hot and very light. I recall many hot evenings whilst I tried to stick tin foil over windows to black out his bedroom. 

At home, we have a similar routine, but it also involves walking the dog and fetching the eggs from the chickens. 

Favourite family trip, hangout or activity in London?

We love the Southbank, the sandpit in the summer and all the lovely activities. 

Princess Diana memorial park is another favourite of Davey’s. Davey has visited so many exciting places with his Bea & Co team, sadly I’m in rehearsals mostly so don’t get to join them! But I love how much effort they all go to to ensure he has an adventurous and varied time in London. 

Best piece of parenting advice you ever received, or would pass on to others?

This too shall pass. 

Favourite way to unwind, escape or reset from work and home life?:

As much as I adore London, we love living up North. We have chickens and an allotment and my favourite thing to do is just hang out in the garden with the boys. Davey loves to dig and cuddle the chickens and we love being in the quiet fresh air. 

What do you most hope your children will have learnt/ will learn from you?

I hope I am giving him an exciting and varied life, it’s not easy and I am often filled with guilt at the changeable nature of our lifestyle; but I am always heartened by how adaptable he is. I hope he sees how passionate both his parents are about what they do and follows his own path into something he loves. 

What are you reading at the moment?

Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. 

What did you last see at the theatre?

The Ferryman

Favourite film?

Our guilty pleasure is we love marvel superhero films like Ironman. 

Favourite restaurant?

Yorkshire: Manjit’s kitchen in Leeds market

London: we are veggie so we love Wagamamas as they have an amazing vegan selection and are brilliant with kids. I also love Banana Tree. 

Who is your inspiration?

Personally: other working mums in our bonkers industry who find a way to make it work, who have shared their stories with me when I was low, and those who have held and cuddled my son in rehearsals when I needed to work. So many, but especially Stephanie Street and  Tamara Harvey. 

Professionally: Directors and producers who understand, who ask, who support. They get the best work from me. Working with Conor McPherson and The Old Vic on Girl from the North Country was one of the best most rewarding experiences of my career. He has a daughter himself and he was so understanding and caring and The Old Vic is a brilliant building to work for.

What’s the one thing you can’t live without?

A good, light travel cot. He’s grown out of it now but we had both a Phil and Ted’s and a Baby Bjorn. Couldn’t have managed without it. Quick to put up and light to carry around. 

Nowadays for train trips: The iPad and his headphones 

What’s in your handbag?

Wet. Wipes. Wet. Wipes. Wet. Wipes. 

Sticker books 

A spare battery charger for my iPhone. 

Favourite place to travel to?

Home to South Africa. Although we don’t get to go so much anymore.

Morning Bird or Night Owl?

Morning Bird

#powerparent Kate Slesinger

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I’m delighted to introduce you to another of our wonderful Mummys. Kate inspires all of us  here at Bea & Co. She has a hugely busy work life, yet family is always at the heart of everything she does, and I’m honoured that she has shared with us a snippet of her life x

Describe your Family

We are a family of five with three daughters, one of 12 and twins of 8.  We have a Norwegian sheepdog called Pepper who looks a little like a husky. We live in Barnes in a ‘country in the city’ setting close to the River:  the girls have lots of space to run around, play and have friends round, lots of them.  It’s as close as it gets to the sort of carefree childhood I had growing up in Richmond.

Where do you work?

I’m Publishing Director of Tatler and Vanity Fair magazines at Condé Nast Britain, where I have worked for the past 23 years.  I run a team of 30 and am responsible for a £10 million business, which carries considerable responsibility, but which also has some great upsides.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

An actress! – like my mother.  All my family were in the theatre:  Mum was an actress, often on TV and stage in the ‘70s and ‘80s, while my Dad was an agent.  My grandfather was a Hollywood actor who started in silent movies…  I wanted to follow in their footsteps.

Describe your typical working day

Living in Barnes means that we all need to be up with the lark in order to beat the traffic for the school run and our commute into work.  I wake up before everyone else, at 6:15am and usually head out at 6:45am to be at the gym in Marylebone for my 7:30am boxing class.  On the three days a week I manage to go boxing, my husband Tim takes the twins to school.  Our eldest daughter walks or cycles to her school in Hammersmith.

Part of my job involves a lot of entertaining, so I’m very often out to breakfast straight from the gym:  favourite haunts are The Good Life Eatery and Farm Girl if I can persuade my breakfast date to eat healthy; Sotheby’s Cafe or Claridge’s if not!  On the days I get to do my own thing for breakfast, I tend to take it with me from home and eat it at work.  I adore cooking and have a brilliant recipe for paleo quinoa granola which I make up every Sunday for the coming week.  I generally have that with a homemade quark and lemon-zest mousse, some stewed fruit, a dollop of honey and a lug of flaxseed oil.

I tend to arrive at work early, between 8:30 and 9am.  The first thing I do after switching on my desktop computer is to fetch a golden milk from one of our local cafes close to Vogue House.  When I first worked there, cappuccinos were a rarity:  now the neighbourhood is awash in choices for morning warmers…

Lunch is either feast – a business arrangement with clients in one of our wonderful Mayfair haunts such as Cecconi’s, The Wolseley or Nopi – or relative famine.  I have a total aversion to food waste, so take in leftovers or soups made from leftovers, in a selection of tupperware from home…

Mid-afternoon I start to think about whether I’m on duty to pick up our eldest child, who often stays late at school for one club or another, and what’s on that evening.  Work events happen at 6pm, often several nights a week in the fashion seasons:  a chic cocktail party held by a client to launch the chicest of fragrances, watches, hotels or whatever – and, as the boss, I’m expected to be there.  I’ll go along, have a (non-alcoholic) drink, make sure I speak to the key people, and then dash off home, to be there for 7:30pm bedtime.

Tim and I try to eat light in the evenings and he doesn’t drink, so a glass of wine is a treat I permit myself only when the occasion demands it.  If we’re home just the two of us, it’s a bowl of soup, an episode of whatever box-set we’re watching, and bed by 10:30pm.

Work top tip, mantra or motto

I have so many…

‘Never feel you have to explain yourself to work colleagues’ was one that stood me in good stead on the way up the ladder; ‘Treat people as you would like to be treated yourself’ is one I apply universally at home as well as at work.  And last but not least, ‘Life is too short…’ – complete that sentence any way you like, as in ‘Life is too short to be a friend-pleaser/do things I don’t really want to do’, which is one I’ve wheeled out in several situations lately!

Favourite family trip, hangout or activity in London?

A bike ride with Pepper, all five of us, looping round Hammersmith and Barnes Bridges, which is around four miles.  We do this a couple of times at the weekend and on Sunday, we take in the Farmers’ Market just behind Dukes Meadows in Chiswick, which is a hidden gem.  There’s a stand there called ‘Breadren’ which does the most amazing turmeric lattes…

Best piece of parenting advice you ever received, or would pass on to others?

Set clear boundaries; don’t treat your children as your equal; all actions have consequences

Favourite way to unwind, escape or reset from work and home life?

We are fortunate enough to have a bolthole in the French Alps, which is our ‘special place’ away from it all.  We love skiing as a family (the children are exceptionally good at it and now ski competitively) and also enjoy going there in the summer to hike in the mountains.  We drive there (12 hours door-to-door) because Pepper comes too, and the drive itself is part of the unwinding process, an opportunity for us all to catch up, chat, laugh and get things off our chests .

What do you most hope your children will have learnt/ will learn from you?

To be themselves and be kind.

What are you reading at the moment?

Tina Brown’s ‘The Vanity Fair Diaries’:  a fascinating insight into the ‘80s and ‘90s heyday of glossy magazines in New York.  Especially of interest to me as it’s about the title I’m now running.

What did you last see at the theatre?

Matilda the Musical, with the children.

Favourite film?

La La Land

Favourite restaurant?

The River Cafe:  30 years old and still top of the tops.

Who is your inspiration?

My mother, the late Hilary Tindall

What’s the one thing you can’t live without?

My Vitamix blender:  I probably use it every day, whether to make soups, blend frozen bananas into healthy ice cream, make smoothies, nut butter and so much else besides…

What’s in your handbag?

Two purses – one for me and one for my company credit card, business receipts and so on. A stash of business cards in a Swarovski Union Jack card-holder.  Two or three lip-glosses.  Two pairs of sunglasses.  My iPhone.

Favourite place to travel to?

For me-time, Vivamayr Altaussee in Austria:  the perfect antidote to work overload.  You learn to chew and savour your food, which is one of the shortcomings of always being time-challenged.

For family-time: Paros in the Greek Islands.  We have discovered the perfect house to rent, with its own private strip of beach.  It’s paradise.

Morning Bird or Night Owl?

Morning Bird, 100%

 

Our Must Have Sneakers

Our Mums are constantly charging around, juggling a million and one things. We asked them for their tips on the shoes to get them from A to B (to Z).

The vote was unanimous….flat sneakers all the way!

We asked them to reveal their favourites and here they are:

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From top Left to bottom Right:

1) Golden Goose

A slightly higher price point but we have been ogling after these for ages….

2) Superga

Who can resist the little stars to brighten up your day

3) Converse

A fun take on the wardrobe staple classic white lo converse

4) M & S

Honestly check out their shoes at the moment they are bang on trend

5) Nike Internationalists

We swear by these! The problem is nothing will ever live up to them for comfort

6) Jigsaw

Half price in the sale and how can you resist a bit of velvet

7) Vans

No longer are vans just for the skater kids…

8) Stan-Smith

A classic for a reason!

Do let us know your favourite go to sneaker brands in the comments section below!

Bea & Co x

#powerparent Alissa Anderson

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Describe your Family
Our family relocated to Fulham from Alexandria, Virginia USA in August 2016 for my husband’s work. We discovered we had been selected for the position in May 2016 and needed to rent our house, rent a house in London somewhere, find schools, move/store property, move the car, find a new home for our elderly cat, have eldest daughter take the 11+ exams, etc. in less than three months’ time! While the girls handled everything like champions, the move away from home, the new home/school environment, and some intense bullying at my youngest’s new school made for a challenging first seven or eight months. We feel like we’ve just settled in and are trying to take advantage of everything the city has to offer, knowing our stay in London is finite. Most often, it feels like we’re juggling three or four too many balls and have everything held together with cellotape, but we’re in it together and are trying to remember that.

Where do you work
I work for a US defense contractor as a Program Analyst. I previously negotiated contracts for the company, but needed to move into a less time-sensitive role while living in London.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
With a degree in International Business, I had hoped to serve in an embassy. Sometimes adulting means you need to have a job for the sake of an income. It would be lovely to have a career that I’m passionate about, but I’ve chosen to earn a solid income with job security for the sake of being able to enjoy weekends and holidays with the family. I wish I were good at tap dancing like our favourite Bea & Co. star of 42nd Street!

Describe your typical working day
We’re vertical at 6:30 a.m. – our two daughters are in different schools quite far apart so the morning routine needs to begin early enough to be fully awake by the time school starts! Lately, breakfast has been a fruit smoothie with yoghurt. Deliciously Ella bars are handy for when we’re running late.

I’m fortunate enough to be able to work from home as I support a US company. It’s been terrific to have a job and the salary, but I work US east coast hours which tends to make cooking dinner a challenge.

Work top tip, mantra or motto
When angry or frustrated at work, write the email in a Word document, then never send it. It helps to write it down, but the working world is too small to burn bridges. John Oliver created a clever website called Scream into the Void where you type out all your anger and emotions into “the void” to get it out of your system, then it disappears into the void. Cathartic. http://screamintothevoid.com/

Favourite family trip, hangout or activity in London?
We do not do well sitting around the house. Downtime invariably equals sister-fights. We tend to always be out doing something – seeing a show, walking around a park, exploring a market. It does mean that our house is loaded with so much laundry that it’s formed its own worker’s union, though. Seeing a show with inexpensive last minute tickets is our favourite thing to do lately.

Our favourite trips so far have been to Amsterdam (http://www.houseboatrental.amsterdam/), Paris, Cyprus, Ireland, Munich for Christmas markets, Wales, and Somerset. We try to find something un-touristy in each city we visit. Among other things, we’ve done caving, people-powered roller coasters (https://www.zipworld.co.uk/adventure/detail/fforest-coaster), trapeze school, gorge hiking, horseback riding, parasailing and cooking classes. The kids have told us that if we make them go to one more castle, museum or palace, they’ll throw up (despite the fact that they live in Europe).

Best piece of parenting advice you ever received, or would pass on to others
“This too shall pass.” I wish I had had a sign in our daughters’ rooms when they were infants and little to remind me of that. It seemed like every day brought some new illness, bone break or other emergency. It may seem like the end of the world in the moment, but tomorrow is always a fresh start.

Favourite way to unwind, escape or reset from work and home life?
Call Bea & Co with an urgent S.O.S!

What do you most hope your children will have learnt/ will learn from you?
I hope our children will, above all other things, be good people. I don’t care if they aren’t concert pianists, brain surgeons or rocket scientists. I do care that they are ethical, kind and decent human beings.

What are you reading at the moment?
I’ve got a stack of books I’m hoping to read at some point. I just picked up Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan and N-W by Zadie Smith. They have great reviews and I’m looking forward to reading them. At the moment, though, they’re collecting dust on my nightstand. It’s tricky to find the time for something as “indulgent” as reading a book!

What did you last see at the theatre?
Alice’s Adventure Underground at Waterloo Vaults and Stomp. We try to see as many shows as we can to take full advantage of our experience here. We buy a programme from each show and have a terrific collection now for keepsakes. We’ve loved seeing our favourite people from Bea & Co. in shows and cheering them on.

What’s the one thing you can’t live without?
Burt’s Bees lip balm and paracetamol.

What’s in your handbag?
Everyone else’s stuff. Moms are one-part Sherpa.