Friends of London With a Toddler

mmi2        buy stuff         buy stuff

 Introducing our  Friends of London With a Toddler -parent-led businesses that are run by particularly nice people.

LWAT is ecstatic to be working with such lovely companies and heartily endorse all of them.

* Friends of LWAT are paid ads from businesses LWAT has a personal relationship with. Friends of LWAT ad space is not available to advertisers that we do not know.

 

Posted in What I suppose you'd call "tips"....? | Tagged | 1 Comment

A Break-Up Letter

2014-07-26 17.44.17

I hesitated for a long time about whether to make this public or not. After all, it’s no way to treat someone you’ve been with since the late 90s. But when that someone screws you over too many times, it’s  time to let it all out. If nothing else, maybe I can help others who are in the same position. So, I’m putting it on Twitter. I can only hope the message gets through. Here goes…

Dear Yahoo!

We’re breaking up. Don’t act so surprised – this has been coming for a long time. After all, I’ve been seeing Gmail behind your back for six months now and we want to move in together. That means it’s over between you and me. I mean, I’ll visit from time to time but it can never be exclusive like it used to be.

We’ve just been going in such different directions. I’ve been going in the direction of wanting to be able to reply to e-mails on my phone – you’ve been going in the direction of putting ads at the top of my inbox that look tantalisingly like unread e-mails. Every time I log on and count aloud to 30 while my inbox loads, I get the brief thrill of thinking that someone out there wants to talk to me, wants to connect with me. But as Morrissey says, it’s another false alarm, usually sponsored by Trivago. If I’d been wanting an excuse to leave, you gave me one.

But really, your neediness and insecurity has been laying the foundations for years now – the articles on Yahoo! “News” designed to undermine my faith in Facebook only undermined my faith in you. You need to work on your self-esteem issues. If you just loved yourself just a little bit more, you wouldn’t need to imitate Gmail – you can be your own person! That’s part of the reason  I’m moving on – why be with a pale imitation of Gmail when you can be with the real thing? Who would choose Gareth Malone over David Tennant? Except Gareth Malone’s wife maybe.

Sorry, I got really distracted there by thinking about David Tennant. What was I saying? I guess it’s that I can’t stay with you out of nostalgia much longer. I sometimes long for the cutesy interface of the 90s but I’m not a teenager anymore. I need an e-mail account that actually lets me send and receive e-mails and that seems way out of your remit. My friends have mocked me for being with such a relic and I’ve defended you all these years but no more. And it really has been a long time. My boyfriend and I set up our first joint account in 1998, because it never occured to us that we would one day need to e-mail each other. These were frontier times, you have to understand. We were roasting buffalo over the fire as we sat in that IT suite, playing with a Teletubby doll and sending our friends Radiohead guitar tabs. Back in those days, you had quite a harsh mail storage limit so we eventually opened a new account because that was easier than going back through the inbox and actually deleting stuff. Those guitar tabs were some huge attachments.

One by one, my friends drifted away from you but I stayed loyal. I clicked “no” to downloading Yahoo! Mail Beta more times than I can count, and at all times resisted having an account that looked like outlook. That, to me, is a little too much like mixing work and pleasure. An Outlook-like Yahoo! account is like the mullet of e-mail. It doesn’t know whether it’s arranging board meetings or wild parties. And so began the Jekyll and Hyde years, where my inbox would flip between classic and beta with gay abandon. But did you ever ask me whether I wanted to be abandoned so gaily? It was always like a special treat when I logged in to see my classic inbox but these treats became rarer. Like visits from an old friend, I enjoyed them when they happened but accepted that they were dwindling. Eventually, it settled down into the Gmail-parody I see today, with my messages grouped into conversations. Do I want my messages in conversations which blur the lines between talking about someone and talking to them? That’s a big risk for a loose-tongued loose cannon like me.

Then came the phone thing. I said no, I didn’t want to download your app. Nathan had it and it was rubbish so I wasn’t prepared to waste any of my precious phone storage-space on it, just to be told every 5 seconds that Dominos had another alluring pizza offer for me. Or, alternatively, to never be told that I had any e-mails. Ever. So, I carried on using it on the Internet app on my phone, till that stopped working and then used it on the Chrome app for a few more months, limping on until the day came where I could neither receive new e-mails nor send them. At that point, even you have to admit that an e-mail account isn’t serving its purpose.

So, this is it. I’m putting an auto-responder on, linking to this blog post. We’re over. It’s not me, it’s you.

Sign Out

katese5

 

Posted in Rants | Tagged | 4 Comments

Kate and Mim-Mim – Coming to CBeebies Soon!

photo 1

I love exciting packages. This one was waiting for us in a sorting office in Chingford so had to be extra exciting to justify the trip up there after school. But it was! Huge and purple and shiny it contained not only a preview disc of new Beebies show “Kate & Mim-Mim”, but also a large pair of purple rabbit ears and a box of nerds. Nerds were my absolute favourite sweet when I was younger and I haven’t had them in a long, long time so I was overjoyed to see them. And even more overjoyed when Reuben said he didn’t want any.

photo 3

Please do excuse the look of the very sweaty children in these shots. It was a bit of a hot day today and we’d been rushing about. Just be glad I didn’t post a selfie. Towards the end, i’ll show you the photo of Eva in the rabbit ears and Reuben “looking cool”. But you’ll have to wait for that.

Why? Because we have business to discuss. And that business is the important one of a new Beebies show. When I first heard about “Kate & Mim-Mim”, I was overjoyed that someone had finally made a kids’ TV show about my life, and that of my friend Mim. I was slightly disappointed to realise it was named after the creators’ daughter, but there’s a slight resemblance, no? Here’s the new Kate:

KMM-NATPE-poster-A1

©2013 KMM Productions Inc., A Nerd Corps Company

And here’s me at 5:

10498690_10152135060870989_5790558301940193701_o

(Mim insists that she looks nothing like a giant purple rabbit, just so we’re clear)

As you can tell, it’s a technicolour, vividly realised world, designed to look as if it’s been sculpted by a child. Every episode starts with 5-year-old Kate playing with her toy rabbit Mim-Mim, who then comes alive and takes her to a magical world called Mimiloo. There they have lots of amazing adventures – the episode we saw involved a car race, which Reuben liked because “it is fast, like I am” (nb he is never fast when it comes to putting his shoes on or leaving the house) There’s a cast of supporting characters too, from the tiny Lily to gardener Gobble.  There are certainly similarities to other shows – a bit of “Everything’s Rosie”, a bit of “Tree Fu Tom” but it stands up on its own as an entertaining and exciting world. The kids wanted to watch more episodes after the first one had finished and when I said we didn’t have any, they chose to watch the same episode again. A few days later, Roo left this message on the fridge:

 

2014-07-18 18.48.43paint

I think he’s a fan! Kate & Mim-Mim is coming to CBeebies on Monday 4th August at 5:30pm, starting with “Rip Roaring Race”. Make sure you watch it!

Posted in Reviewing the Situation | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Summer Holidays 2014

2014-07-23 15.04.41paint

It’s finally happened – School have said that they don’t want to teach Reuben anymore. At least not until he starts Year 1 in September. If you have a similarly set-loose child, you may be wondering how to fill those weeks. Well, wonder no more…. we have some summer highlights for you. For a waaaaaay more comprehensive list, have a look at fellow Walthamstowian Museum Mum’s blog and activity calendar.

Talking of Walthamstow, I’m very sad to be missing the Walthamstow Garden Party on Saturday 26th July because we’re going to Scotland. There’s a feast of music and entertainment going on, from the ukuleles of the Walthamstow Acoustic Massive to the ukuleles of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. Obviously, I’m not singing with WAM this time but I will be at the Stow Festival in September. Bring a ukulele. Apparently you can’t enter E17 without one.

Back in the old ‘hood meanwhile, there’s the Southbank Festival of Love. The beach is back, the fountains are back and the giant purple cow is back too, which is always a hit with toddlers, regardless of what’s happening inside. I also hear rumours of an edible bus stop and a slide but that might just be a cunningly constructed ruse to lure us back to South London. On a South London tip, there’s some free art workshops on at the Horniman, as well as huge grounds to run around in (bring a change of clothes if it’s muddy. And shoes.)

There’s also a smattering of events at some of our favourite toddler-friendly cafes this summer. The Dish is currently having a refit but they have a lovely new gazebo outside where you can sit and enjoy a coffee and a people-watch (and Dulwich is just the best for people watching). Then there’s a new cafe, down near Wimbledon, which is running art sessions over the holidays. It’s called CraftedLondon and we haven’t been yet, but will report back soon! The Rabbit Hole has its new menu now – put together by a Michelin chef, not a Mexican one – and is running messy play sessions over the summer, as well as pamper sessions for stressed-out parents. They are also running some special events, which I’ll let Nicci explain:

“We have a Workshop Fun Day on Saturday 23rd August all day  to see what local suppliers get up to usually behind the scenes in their workshops! Then on Saturday 30th August there is a workshop, led by an expert, for anyone over 10 years old to learn to crochet an accessory of their choice whether it be a headband, flower or earing. All materials will be provided. Class is from 11am til 1pm with juice and biscuits included for only £9. Lastly in September there is a ‘back to school disco’ for the under three’s.. where parents will be able to make requests for their little ones favorite tracks and their will be a photographer on site to capture and give photographs straight away to parents from a booth. Entry is £3 per person.” See the Rabbit Hole’s Facebook page for more details.

Don’t forget, there’s also LolliBop on at Hatfield House, with an exciting array of CBeebies stars and also Justin. And if you’re heading to Camp Bestival, be sure to say hello to our friends at Big Fish Little Fish! 

2014-07-10 10.09.57paint

Of course, if this all seems too much effort, there’s always a local park to go to. I’ve been to a few over the course of this blog  – the Google map might be a good place to start, along with the (somewhat outdated) sandpits and paddling pools map.


View London With A Toddler in a larger map

So, enjoy it. We’ll be launching our own little summer project once we’re back from Scotland….keep an eye out for it. In the meantime, if you have any other summer highlights you think we should include here, comment below or on the Facebook page. See you in a week or so…

Posted in Facts! And facts are important! | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Tribute to Bang

197053_5522395925_8063_n

This week the LWAT family lost someone special.  He was Nathan’s Dad,  my Daddy Milner,  Reuben and Eva’s Bang.  He was a man of random facts and even more random jokes.  A man who loved gadgets and had a sure touch with DIY (something that genetics failed to pass down to Nathan). He had an eye for a picture and most of my favourite photos of the kids are ones that he took,  not counting the one where a baby Reuben looked like William Hague.  He always had a cheery greeting,  a solution to every problem,  a ridiculous story for his grandchildren and a new toy to show us,  whether that was his telescope, his iPhone or a funny bottle opener.
It would be a disservice to the truth to pretend he wasn’t a silly man but that’s one of the many things we loved about him and he was good company for my equally silly father.
We’ll miss him tremendously.

 

IMG-20130907-00370

IMG-20130907-00369

10320505_10152359217715490_7863791065052931432_n

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

London Fields and Hackney City Farm

2014-07-04 13.08.36PAINT

I’m writing this after a weekend of torrential downpours and intermittent drizzle, (though apparently quite localised because we got some funny looks turning up to church in wellies and coats). If you too have experienced the July showers you may be struggling to remember that 48 hours ago we were in the grip of glorious summer and on Friday Eva and I were heading to that most summery of destinations – Hackney. We were there to see our friend Bob and her baby Boby but first there was the important matter of naming all the colours on the fence of the playground:

2014-07-04 09.27.09

“Yeyyow, Wed, Boo, Geen!” said Eva. Once or twice. It’s a long, long fence they have there in London Fields, and a surprisingly big playground. We haven’t had a good play there since Roo was a 2-year-old and East London was being overrun by the EDL. Now, the 2-year-old was Eva and the EDL have largely fallen out of fashion with fascists in favour of Farage. So, it was time to revisit:

2014-07-04 09.27.58There were a couple of slides, which Eva climbed up onto and then decided were “too big” to go down. There was a natural play area:

2014-07-04 09.28.06

And the slide that you can watch the trains from – a bonus for any toddler.

2014-07-04 09.33.14

But it was time to go and show Boby some animals, so we walked through the park, avoiding the super-fast cyclists on the way and passed another play area:

2014-07-04 10.37.58PAINT

We didn’t stop and play because we were headed for Hackney City Farm, at the other end of Broadway Market.  I’d promised Eva some animals and she would get some. And Boby too, although she’s a little young to know all the words to “Old McDonald”.

We’ve been to a few city farms and are always keen to visit new ones. This was more the size of Vauxhall than Newham but still had donkeys, sheep and chickens in it, as well as some very large pigs, who were enjoying the sunshine and a roll around in the mud.

2014-07-04 11.06.15PAINT

Eva enjoyed pointing at the sheep and saying “baa” to them but was sad that the donkeys didn’t come close enough to stroke (or maybe I was sad…I don’t remember). She liked the “chicken babies” in the small animals shed and thought the guinea pigs were hilarious for some reason. It wasn’t huge, so you couldn’t spend very long there but it was nice to let our city girls get in touch with nature. Although farm-bred Bob said “it’s not a proper farm cause it’s got no cows.” So now you know…

2014-07-04 11.04.07PAINT

We’d planned to eat at the cafe, which was nice and roomy, but the mains looked to be around a tenner, which was a bit more than I wanted to spend. So we headed back up Broadway Market and found a lovely little cafe which made fresh smoothies and played the Wonder Stuff. They happily rustled up beans on toast for Eva and welcomed Boby, although there wasn’t a baby change for her (you forget just how often these babies need changing). I think it was called Caffe Villa D’avaeria but I might be wrong. Anyway, it was relatively cheap and very friendly and did some good sandwiches and salads.

Then onto the last Hackney-shaped treat of the day – back to London Fields for a paddle. The queue to the Lido itself was huge, so I’m glad we weren’t going there but we stopped off for a coffee at “Hoxton Beach”. Me and Bob had probably notched up around 8 hours’ sleep between us the night before, so we needed it. Besides, if I’m trying to gain some Hackney-hipster cred, supping a cappuccino in the paddling pool is the way to do it, right? Sadly I can’t quite pull off the bikinis that the other hipster mums were sporting, which would lead to some soggy dress issues later. But I’m skipping ahead.

2014-07-04 13.10.29PAINT

I was mostly relieved that the paddling pool was open. A post on a local parenting group the day before had suggested it was “closed at the moment” but a quick look at the sign revealed that it was closed on Mondays and Thursdays, so clearly the person involved had just picked an unlucky day. It was very much open, even if the cattle-grid just inside the gates was not conducive to pushing a buggy across. It helped to go at a kind of diagonal, but mainly it was just a matter of getting stuck and having the hipster mums laugh at you.It’s the price you pay for a paddle.

2014-07-04 13.07.05

And what a nice paddle. I love a bit of water play on a hot day, and Eva was very pleased to put on her flowery wetsuit and “wower hat” to do a bit of “splish splash”. A word of warning though – the depth of the pool changes quite dramatically and you can’t tell from the surface. It was around my ankles at one corner and up to my knees at the other corner. This was a problem in a few ways – firstly that I got my dress wet and secondly that Eva broke free from my grip when it was at her knee height and wandered off to the deeper part. I followed her but before I could grab her again she slipped over and couldn’t get her head back above water. Luckily, I was there to scoop her out and she didn’t seem too bothered (she was mostly concerned about her hat being wet) but if I’d been sitting on the side assuming it was all the same depth, there might have been trouble. And yes, I’m well versed on secondary drowning, so I kept a close eye on here for the rest of the day just in case. It’s been 48 hours and she seems OK…

Don’t let thoughts of drowning ruin what was a perfectly lovely afternoon – it’s just good to remember that paddling pools can get deeper without warning. Eva recovered very quickly from her unexpected dip and was keen to get back in and carry on playing.  Boby also dipped her baby toes in but looked fairly unimpressed. Just as unimpressed as Eva was when I made her get changed to go and pick up Reuben from school. I’m glad we got to enjoy some sunshine before the rain kicked in cause that might just be our lot for the summer…

2014-07-04 09.28.10

Posted in Token attempts at fresh air (parks) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Octowinner Announced!

Octonauts image

It was a grey and cloudy afternoon under the ocean in a school playground when LWAT visited random.org. Octonauts to the launch bay…we have a winner!

Before we announce it, a quick word from our sponsor, Mr K. Kitten:

“Ahoy, LWAT readers! Make sure you come and see us at Octonauts live! Unless you get totally distracted by some kind of sea-creature related emergency, which you’ve decided to go off and solve all by yourself while your colleagues are still sitting around talking. That’s the pirate way. Although the pirate way seems to involve getting rescued a lot by those same colleagues because you’ve done something reckless. Yeow!”

Thanks Kwazii, and now for the winner. It’s….

Lesley Shrosbee! Congratulations Lesley!!

 

Posted in Facts! And facts are important! | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Friday I’m In…formative

2014-06-30 17.38.21

Hello lovely readers and a quick post to let you know about some things. User-ful things, as Reuben would say.

Firstly, there’s only a few more hours left to enter the Octonauts Live! giveaway…I’m really excited about the whole thing and hope you will be too. One family ticket to be won for anywhere in country…as long as the show’s going there, of course. If you live in Giggleswick you might be out of luck.

I’ll draw the winner tomorrow, using the ever user-ful random.org, but not sure when because I’ll busy launching the…London With a Toddler Roadshow! You heard that right – this blog is going on the road. It’s a fairly short road, or series of roads, and it’s mainly just the road we live on but still I’m sure there will be crazy tourbus antics (mental note: get a tourbus). It starts tomorrow, at Roo’s school fete and then next week we’re at Highams Park Day. The stall consists of a largely untested play map of London,  partially made by my uncraft-y hands out of toothpaste and stuff. No, really. The map looks rough around the edges but it sure smells fresh. Here’s the work in progress:

2014-06-22 16.19.30

And here’s the almost finished product:

2014-07-04 15.48.38

Come down to Highams Park Day at Vincent Green on Saturday 12th July to have a play and help us rebuild London from the concrete up. With lots of sandpits.

Finally, let’s think ahead a bit. To September, when the summer holidays will be over and Reuben will be safely despatched to Year 1 (I feel both happy and terrified by that). On 13th September, TWO exciting things are happening – one in our old ‘hood, one in our new.

Kennington first and it’s a family fun day at the Oval. If you’ve ever wanted to stride across that hallowed green, this is a good chance to do it and have some fun too. It’s free entry and they’re raising money for St Thomas’ Hospital, where both my kids were born. Look, here’s Reuben at a day old:

5143_1097081502454_996172_n

I look both young and very tired. I’m now old and very tired. Anyway, it’s a great cause (Tommy’s includes the Evelina Children’s Hospital, where Roo’s BFF was hanging out at the same time as that photo was taken) and you should support it.

On the same day is the 3rd ever Stow Festival up in Walthamstow Town Square (outside the Mall). We went there in 2012 and this year I’ll be singing in it, with the Walthamstow Acoustic Massive Choir. Both exciting and very scary. Come and watch!

That’s the news for today. Watch out tomorrow for the Octo-winner and an exciting post about some pigs in Hackney.

 

Posted in Facts! And facts are important! | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

The Gruffalo’s Birthday – 28/06/14

2014-06-28 10.57.48

As you probably know, we often have days out which sound great in my mind but turn out a bit rubbish…it’s the parenting way. Children throw tantrums, babies have messy accidents and everyone is kinda relieved when we get back home. But every now and then, you have a day which sounds a bit lame and turns out much better than expected. I’m pleased to report that yesterday was one of those days.

It was all a last-minute plan, following hot on the heels of a cancelled BBQ. Axel Scheffler – of Pip and the ZogTiddffalo fame – was doing a signing in the new Foyles flagship (next door to the old one) and I would take Roo. Just Roo, for a whole load of reasons but the main one being that I didn’t think it would be very rewarding for Eva. In my experience, signings tend to involve long queues and a 10-second audience with the author or artist in question before being booted out onto the street. Not the best toddler activity. So, she stayed home with Nathan and me and Roo picked a very long route around Soho in an attempt to get from TCR tube to Charing Cross Rd (damn you Crossrail!)

2014-06-28 10.29.56

And guess what? The signing wasn’t like that at all. Yes, we had to queue for a bit, because Mr Scheffler is a popular chap, but not for too long and when we got to the front, he took the time to draw Reuben a bespoke dragon picture. As requested by Roo, the dragon is reading a book about dragons:

2014-06-28 12.19.15

So, that was nice but the real bonus of the day was getting invited to the Gruffalo’s birthday party on the 6th floor afterwards, which I’d thought was sold out. We happily accepted and spent a bit of time wandering around the new store while the Gruffalo got himself ready. In the music department, we found a tiny section of a piano (muted), which shows you how it works:

2014-06-28 10.54.51paint

And in the cafe on the 5th floor, we found not only the toilets but also a big shiny thing:

2014-06-28 10.35.02paint

Then it was time to go to the party and up there we got another unexpected bonus- two Kennington families that I hadn’t seen since we left. It was turning into that kind of day, or maybe some kind of surreal dream. So I had some people to gossip with, while Reuben practised playing Musical Statues. The Gruffalo was held up in traffic, according the exuberant party hostess. So, the kids practising dancing and freezing and getting more and more hyped up until finally…he appeared. And he was rubbish at Musical Statues, which Reuben is still giggling about today. It was lots of fun, and dancing with the Gruffalo was definitely the highlight of Roo’s day.

2014-06-28 11.25.05The Gruffalo also enjoyed a slice of his birthday cake (he’s 15 you know…):

2014-06-28 11.32.42

And there was a photo opportunity, which I totally screwed up. Look at this effort. I mean, just look at it:

2014-06-28 11.35.58

Still, Roo got to hug the Gruffalo and also got his free goody bag, with activity book and balloon. See what I mean about unexpected bonuses? I probably should have taken Eva after all…

2014-06-28 12.19.23

Posted in Creating precious childhood memories or something (days out), Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

I’m Bored

2014-06-04 17.25.05

 

That won’t surprise anyone who knows me. After all, I get bored easily. But I’m bored of something specific right now – and that’s tabloid articles about breastfeeding. The latest effort comes – unsurprisingly  – from the Daily Mail, about a mother who was asked to move tables in a restaurant while she was breastfeeding because a party of schoolkids were coming in. The reactions were fairly predictable – outrage on breastfeeding groups, bile on the DM website – but everyone seemed a little lacklustre. Even the fiercest boob-haters on the DM were expressing boredom more than venom. I always fear for my soul when I start agreeing with Daily Mail readers but “Oh no, not another one” was the first thought in my head as well as theirs. For slightly different reasons, I imagine.

This did seem like a bit of a non-story. In the article, there’s no hint that the staff were rude or aggressive. Their crime was simply to offer her a table in the corner, near the toilets. Not in the toilets, just to the side, away from the 130 schoolchildren about to rampage through. Let’s break this down for a second.

Anyone here have a schoolchild? Do they generally carry about with them an air of serenity? No? How do you think 130 of them would be when they’re all overexcited cause they’re out on a school trip? Peaceful and calming? At the risk of sounding sexist, whenever I’ve seen a schoolgirl and a baby in the same room, one of them has wanted to carry the other one off and play with all its teeny tiny toesies. You can work out which one’s which. None of it sounds conducive to a peaceful feed and if it had been me, a quiet corner to feed in would have been welcome.

I guess that’s why I’m bored of breastfeeding stories in the news. They whip non-stories into hysteria and rally up both sides of the breastfeeding “debate” while the Web Manager sits back and happily counts the clicks and the ad money. In the crudest possible terms – and this really is quite crude for me – tits mean hits for a tabloid and it doesn’t matter what format they come in, whether it’s page 3 or the hint of a nipple in a nursing top. It sells papers and sends website stats through the roof. I’m as guilty as anyone of clicking onto these “stories”.

And they really aren’t stories. Indulge me with a comparison for a minute. Imagine you were in a restaurant and your baby’s nappy needs changing. So, you go to the loos to be told by a member of staff  “Sorry, we’re about to close these loos for cleaning – could you use the ones on the other side of the restaurant?”. It would be mildly inconvenient and at worst annoying but you know what it wouldn’t be? News.  Why? Because nappy changing has slipped into the national consciousness as something so perfectly normal that no-one is interested in it. Some are disgusted by seeing it in public. Some are relieved they don’t have to do it themselves. But it doesn’t make headlines.

That’s why I don’t believe breastfeeding has a place in the news headlines. In the media – yes. Let’s see more breastfed babies in children’s books (a rare bit of kudos to “Topsy and Tim” on that one). Let’s see breastfeeding storylines in the soaps because aren’t they meant to mirror real life? You have no idea how much I’m smirking as I wrote that last bit, but point is there should be storylines about tongue tie and trouble latching on and all those unglamorous breastfeeding struggles. There’s a place for breastfeeding in the glossy magazines – a nice feeding shot in the latest “Harry and Jodie welcome little HRH Ferrari Charles Edward Gucci to the Royal Family, albeit illegitimately” photo shoot.  Or a Grazia feature on fashionable nursing tops (Good luck with that one!) There should be babies feeding in the crowds at Wimbledon and at the Olympics and Ascot and all those places were babies do, presumably, get fed but it’s never shown on TV. There are so many places where breastfeeding could be presented in a positive and normal light, which these sensationalist stories and nurse-ins just don’t.

At its most extreme, media hysteria can lead to situations like the one blogged about on tobyandroo.com this week, which I was in the middle of debating when the DM article was posted. In that post, a store manager was being confronted by a breastfeeding mother who wanted to feed on the shop floor rather than the feeding room and was angry that there was no designated area in public. It’s divided breastfeeding advocates and is fodder for Daily Mail readers but at its heart this story isn’t about breastfeeding – it’s about one woman wanting to be an arse and using lactation as the tool to do that.

Of course it’s terrible that people are still getting asked to leave cafes for breastfeeding. But the genuine injustices are becoming lost in a sea of perceived offences. I remember an incident on Mumsnet where a cafe was reported to have abused a breastfeeding mother. It was named and shamed, with the local mothers organising a boycott until….the cafe owner appeared on the thread, flustered and confused. She was a breastfeeding mother herself, had been there at the time of the “incident” and knew nothing about it. It suddenly seemed that the story may not have been entirely truthful. Mumsnet HQ took it offline and recorded an open verdict, but there was almost certainly some damage done to that lady’s business. I’m a big supporter of small businesses, especially toddler-friendly cafes, and a social media outcry can destroy them in a matter of hours. On a local parenting board recently, another small cafe was denounced as being non child-friendly and I was pretty prepared to give it the benefit of the doubt but the anecdotes kept pouring in, from unrelated people who had all had bad experiences at the same place. Was it true? Yes, probably – I didn’t get the best vibe when I almost went there with Tammy and our assorted small children. But it just shows how quickly a group of customers can strike a cafe off their list of places to go. What the Daily Mail never reports back on is the state of a business after it’s run its expose.

Yes, if you’ve been treated badly for any reason, you should complain. I complained to a supermarket yesterday about a misleading price point and I’m confident that some vouchers or maybe some sandwiches will be falling through my letterbox soon. If you’re breastfeeding in a chain store or restaurant, and they upset you in some way, your first call should be to Head Office, not the Daily Mail. See if you can get invited in to re-educate their Store Managers on the Equality Act. If it’s a small business, go straight to the owner (you can find the details on Companies House). Any decent small business owner will be happy to make it up to you in some way and promise change for the future. Those that don’t are probably worthy of a boycott, but those would be the exceptions rather than the norm. Change is more likely to come from co-operation rather than media confrontation.

To put it simply, here’s what I believe:

1) Normalising breastfeeding should be the end goal.

2) Breastfeeding in the news does not normalise it – it sensationalises it

3) Getting the Daily Mail involved in any situation doesn’t tend to help. They supported Hitler – and look how things turned out for him.

Just to end by saying, there are positive stories out there – the Canadian barista who told off a customer for tutting at a breastfeeder and then gave a breastfeeder a free drink. It’s nice to hear these kind of stories, but they still put the fear into any breastfeeding mother that she might get tutted at. Wouldn’t it be nice to get to a point where that just didn’t happen? Rather, we seem to be headed towards a culture where waiters and shop assistants are scared to even approach a breastfeeding woman for fear of somehow breaking the law. I’d imagine that the Canadian mother was grateful for the free coffee but it wouldn’t surprise me if she’d snapped at him  – “What are you doing offering me something with caffeine in? Don’t you know that’ll go straight through my milk and keep my baby up all night? And is that dairy in that? Don’t you know I’m lactose intolerant?” And then the Canadian version of the Daily Mail would swoop in with a headline about “Barista Attempts to Poison Breastfeeding Mother”…which would complement today’s headline (“Restaurant Suggests Better Table for Breastfeeding Mother”) quite nicely.

Let’s not go that way. It would be rubbish. Let’s instead sign up to a pledge of not being an arse. Not harassing breastfeeding mothers if you’re a manager. Not harassing  managers if you’re a breastfeeding mother. It’s the kind of pledge that’s seen me through both retail management and breastfeeding without ever once having to perfect my “sadface” for the DM camera crews. Is it really so hard?

Posted in Rants | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Competition Time! Sound the Octoalert!

Octonauts image

Oh yes oh yes oh yes…It’s a very exciting competition coming right atcha. Fancy winning a family ticket to Octonauts Live? Of course you do! And I have one to give away. Enter by filling in the form below anytime before midnight on Friday 4th July and I will draw one lucky winner on Saturday 5th.  It can be used at any of the venues around the country (list below) so for once I’m not discriminating against the outer-dwellers.

So, enter now! Form is below! But first a little info about what the show entails:

“In Octonauts and the Deep Sea Volcano Adventure the entire crew of the Octonauts, led by intrepid explorer Captain Barnacles, Lieutenant Kwazii and Medic Peso, embark on an exciting new underwater quest and visit amazing underwater worlds full of adventure, with surprises around every corner. This action-packed interactive show features new music (from BAFTA-award winning composer Mani Svavarsson) and all the Octonauts live on stage for the very first time”

Wanna go? Fill in this form (tour dates are below the form. Oh yes, it’s info overload in this post…)

Tour dates:

THURS 16  – SUN 19 OCTOBER ORCHARD THEATRE, DARTFORD

Thurs 16 at 4 pm www.orchardtheatre.co.uk

Fri 17 at 1 & 4 pm

Sat 18 at 10 am, 1 & 4 pm

Sun 19 at 10 & 1 pm

 

TUES 21 WED 22 OCTOBER PRINCES HALL, ALDERSHOT

Tues 21 & Wed 22 at 1 & 4 pm www.princeshall.com

 

SAT 25 SUN 26 OCTOBER WYCOMBE SWAN, HIGH WYCOMBE

Sat 25 & Sun 26 at 10 am, 1 & 4 pm www.wycombeswan.co.uk

 

WED 29 THURS 30 OCTOBER FAIRFIELD HALLS, CROYDON

Wed 29 & Thurs 30 at 10 am, 1 & 4 pm www.fairfield.co.uk

 

SAT 1 SUN 2 NOVEMBER NEW THEATRE, CARDIFF

Sat 1 & Sun 2 at 10 am, 1 & 4 pm www.newtheatrecardiff.co.uk

 

WED 5 THURS 6 NOVEMBER G LIVE, GUILDFORD

Wed 5 & Thurs 6 at 1 & 4 pm www.glive.co.uk

 

SAT 8 SUN 9 NOVEMBER ALEXANDRA THEATRE, BIRMINGHAM

Sat 8 & Sun 9 at 10 am, 1 & 4 pm www.atgtickets.com

 

WED 12 THURS 13 NOVEMBER GRAND OPERA HOUSE, YORK

Wed 12 & Thurs 13 at 1 & 4 pm www.atgtickets.com

 

SAT 15 SUN 16 NOVEMBER CORN EXCHANGE, CAMBRIDGE

Sat 15 at 4 pm www.cornex.co.uk

Sun 16 at 10 am, 1 & 4 pm

 

WED 19 THURS 20 NOVEMBER ST GEORGES HALL, BRADFORD

Wed 19 & Thurs 20 at 1 & 4 pm www.bradfordtheatres.co.uk

 

SAT 22 SUN 23 NOVEMBER GROVE THEATRE, DUNSTABLE

Sat 22 at 1 & 4 pm www.grovetheatre.co.uk

Sun 22 at 10 am & 1 pm

 

2015 TOUR DATES

 

SAT 24 SUN 25 JAN BECK THEATRE, HAYES

Sat 24 at 1 & 4 pm www.becktheatre.org.uk

Sun 25 at 10 am & 1 pm

 

WED 28 – THURS 29 JANUARY VICTORIA THEATRE, HALIFAX

Wed 28 & Thurs 29 at 1 & 4 pm www.victoriatheatre.co.uk

 

SAT 31 JAN SUN 1 FEB HULL NEW THEATRE

Sat 31 & Sun 1 at 10 am, 1 & 4 pm www.hullcc.gov.uk/hullnewtheatre

 

WED 4 THURS 5 FEBRUARY ASSEMBLY HALL, TUNBRIDGE WELLS

Wed 4 & Thurs 5 at 1 & 4 pm www.assemblyhalltheatre.co.uk

 

SAT 7 SUN 8 FEBRUARY FLORAL PAVILION, NEW BRIGHTON

Sat 7 & Sun 8 at 10 am, 1 & 4 pm www.floralpavilion.co.uk

 

WED 11 THURS 12 FEBRUARY CREWE LYCEUM

Wed 11 & Thurs 12 at 1 & 4 pm www.crewelyceum.co.uk

 

SAT 14 – SUN 15 FEBRUARY CONNAUGHT THEATRE, WORTHING

Sat 14 & Sun 15 at 1 & 4 pm www.worthingtheatres.co.uk

 

WED 18 THURS 19 FEBRUARY WATFORD COLOSSEUM

Wed 18 & Thurs 19 at 1 & 4 pm www.watfordcolosseum.co.uk

 

SAT 21 SUN 22 FEBRUARY CIVIC THEATRE, DARLINGTON

Sat 21 & Sun 22 at 10 am, 1 & 4 pm www.darlington.gov.uk/arts

 

WED 25 THURS 26 FEBRUARY THE HEXAGON, READING

Wed 11 & Thurs 12 at 1 & 4 pm www.plymouthpavilions.com

 

SAT 28 FEB SUN 1 MARCH RICHMOND THEATRE

Sat 28 & Sun 1 at 10 am, 1 & 4 pm www.atgtickets.com

 

WED 4 THURS 5 MARCH GORDON CRAIG THEATRE, STEVENAGE

Wed 4 & Thurs 5 at 1 & 4 pm www.gordon-craig.co.uk

 

SAT 7 SUN 8 MARCH MILTON KEYNES THEATRE

Sat 7 & Sun 8 at 10 am, 1 & 4 pm www.atgtickets.com

 

WED 11 THURS 12 MARCH PLYMOUTH PAVILIONS

Wed 11 & Thurs 12 at 1 & 4 pm www.plymouthpavilions.com

 

SAT 14 SUN 15 MARCH DE MONTFORT HALL, LEICESTER

Sat 14 & Sun 15 at 10 am, 1 & 4 pm www.demontforthall.co.uk

 

THURS 17 WED 18 MARCH SEVERN THEATRE, SHREWSBURY

Tues 17 & Wed 18 at 1 & 4 pm www.theatresevern.co.uk

 

SAT 21 SUN 22 MARCH MALVERN THEATRE

Sat 21 & Sun 22 at 10 am, 1 & 4 pm www.malvern-theatres.co.uk

 

WED 1 – THURS 2 APRIL EDEN COURT THEATRE, INVERNESS

Wed 1 & Thurs 2 at 1 & 4 pm www.eden-court.co.uk

 

SAT 4 – SUN 5 APRIL KINGS THEATRE, EDINBURGH

Sat 4 at 1 & 4 pm www.edtheatres.com

Sun 5 at 10 am & 1 pm

 

WED 8 – THURS 9 APRIL HIS MAJESTYS THEATRE, ABERDEEN

Wed 8 & Thurs 9 at 1 & 4 pm www.aberdeenperformingarts.com

 

SAT 11 – SUN 12 APRIL GALA THEATRE, DURHAM

Sat 11 at 1 & 4 pm www.galadurham.co.uk

Sun 12 at 10 am & 1 pm

 

WED 15 – THURS 16 APRIL GRAND THEATRE, WOLVERHAMPTON

Wed 15 at 4.30 pm www.grandtheatre.co.uk

Thurs 16 at 1 & 4.30 pm

 

SAT 18 – SUN 19 APRIL MAYFLOWER, SOUTHAMPTON

Sat 18 & Sun 19 at 10.30 am & 1.30 pm www.mayflowertheatre.org.uk

 

SAT 25 – SUN 26 APRIL BRISTOL HIPPODROME

Sat 25 at 1 & 4 pm www.atgtickets.com

Sun 26 at 10 am & 1 pm

 

WED 29 – THURS 30 APRIL GRAND THEATRE, SWANSEA

Wed 29 & Thurs 30 at 1 & 4 pm www.swanseagrand.co.uk

 

SAT 2 – SUN 3 MAY NEW WIMBLEDON THEATRE

Sat 2 at 1 & 4 pm www.atgtickets.com

Sun 3 at 10 am & 1 pm

 

WED 3 – THURS 4 JUNE THEATRE ROYAL BRIGHTON

Wed 3 & Thurs 4 at 1 & 4.30 pm www.atgtickets.com

 

WED 17 – THURS 18 JUNE HARROGATE THEATRE

Wed 17 & Thurs 18 at 1 & 4 pm www.harrogatetheatre.co.uk

Posted in Facts! And facts are important! | Tagged , , | 1 Comment