Magformers, a review 

We live in a world of gadgets and gizmos and children are learning through devices more and more. While S has a couple of games and Netflix on his Ipad, he also has apps to help him with phonics and reading. Most schools (both state and private) now have digital screens that the teachers use to help the children learn. While some still try and fight it, it’s the way the world is going. However, I do believe that screen time should be limited and that sometimes children need to slow down and engage their minds fully rather than have a computer helping them.
At the age of 4, play is still a big part of learning and encourages children to develop their imagination. As a parent though, I am conscious of S’s ever growing toy collection and try my best to now only buy him things that will aid in his development. As with most children, he doesn’t always like this very much! But in comes Magformers. We recently received a box of Magformers for S to trial.

He was thrilled to be receiving something he’d never seen before. We got quite a small set, 16 pieces (2 of which were base wheels) to create different types of cars. We sat down before bedtime one evening and attempted to make some of the many combinations displayed on the cards (that come with it). S did struggle initially to picture how the square and triangle shapes fit together but after doing a few with him, he started to get the hang of it and created a few of his own automobiles.

What I like about Magformers is that it encourages a child to think creatively and to find new ways to shape the magnets to build various things. The magnets are pretty strong and are able to hold their positions. The colours are bright and are gender neutral. The options to build are endless.

Magformers are not cheap. A bigger box of approx. 90 pieces costs in the region of £65. I do believe however that this is something that will grow with your child. As they get older and their imaginations get wider, their ability to create new things will expand. I’m buying my nephews a set for their birthday and I think it’ll make a great Christmas present for S.

Storks, a review 

A couple of weeks ago we were invited to a media screening of the upcoming (now released) Storks. The email said there would be fun in the foyer (Cineworld Leicester Square) for the kids from 10am and the movie would start at 11am. They did not disappoint. There was a crafts table, 3D picture opportunities, balloon makers, face painters, dressed up characters AND tea, coffee, pastries and biscuits galore. It was sugar heaven (hell?) for the under 5s.


Storks, written and co-directed by Nicholas Stoller is Warner’s second animated movie. Given that they are competing against the likes of Disney, Pixar & Dreamworks, they did a great job. Storks is funny, imaginative and warm and was cleary written for adults as much as for kids with lots of laugh out loud moments for the grown-ups in the room.
Storks is about a little boy Nate (only child to incredibly busy parents) who dreams of having a ninja skilled baby brother. He writes a letter to the stork factory (because until recently, it’s been storks that deliver babies) and goes about setting up his house for the arrival of his baby brother. Meantime in the Stork factory (which is now an Amazon-like dispatch factory,, Junior is on the verge of being promoted to boss, as long as he fires Tulip (a human orphan who has lived in the factory and been raised by the storks). Junior being the nice guy that he is can’t bring himself to do it so instead banishes her to the mail room where the now obsolete baby machine is gathering dust. The letter comes in while she is in there and in her excitement she reactivates the machine. Junior tries to stop it but a gorgeous baby girl arrives before he can. What follows next is the journey Junior, Tulip and the baby make to get the baby to its rightful family, without getting too attached of course.
The animation and imagination is amazing (think pack of wolves joining together to form a bridge/submarine and many other things). The movie is as funny as it is heart-warming. I wasn’t sure how long S would last (he’d been awake since 4:45 that morning!) but it held his attention. He now spots the stork ads everywhere and tells everyone about it.
I definitely recommend taking your kids to see Storks this half term, they’ll enjoy it and so will you 🙂

Siam Water Park, Tenerife 

As soon as my cousin said she’d chosen Tenerife as her wedding location, I started looking into things to do there with kids. Given that it’s a 4 hour flight away, we’d decided to make a holiday out of it by staying for an extra few days after her wedding.

It wasn’t long before I came across Siam Water Park. Those who know me or have read my other posts know how much I love water parks!! I’m literally like a child in a candy store. When relating my plans to my family I made it clear that I didn’t care if we didn’t do anything else in Tenerife but we *had* to go to Siam Water Park (voted world’s best water park a number of times).

I’ve been to Wild Wadi and The Atlantis water park in Dubai and so my expectations were high. Siam did not disappoint! We were staying up in the North (Siam is in the South) and there were 14 of us going so by the time we all got into gear, we only got there around midday.

If you’re only going to spend one day there, I’d definitely recommend getting a fast pass. It’s only an extra £6-£8 but it allows you to skip all the queues. It’s limited to one queue skip on each ride plus a couple of extras. We didn’t get it because we found out too late but I would definitely get it next time (yes, I loved it so much, there has to be a next time). We waited approx. 30 minutes for each ride. Given that it was August and the peak of the summer, I didn’t think that was too bad. I’ve waited longer for rides at Alton Towers. 

The size of Siam Park is a little deceiving. While it doesn’t appear that big, it’s massive and there was a whole section we missed out on. When you first walk in you’re greeted by some seals. It was like a scene out of Finding Dory. There were two sitting up on the rock and when a third one tried to clamber on, he was literally chucked off!

There were two huge areas for children only. One with just slides and another with a whole water park section.

And of course lots of awesome rides for adults! Most of the height restrictions were 1.2m so S just fell short but my amazing parents stepped in and took him on the lazy river, a few fun slides and to a massive beach like area where they had waves every 15 minutes. Apparently it was amazing. We all headed back there at 5:45 but the waves end at 5pm so I missed it.

While many of the rides are similar to ones you’d find in other water parks, there are lots of added extras. I went on one that felt like a rave. As you’re swirling around a toilet bowl shaped slide there were disco lights and music. It was quite an experience!

I had to leave my phone in my bag so I don’t have a lot of pictures but I highly recommend Siam Water Park if you’re in Tenerife. Try and get there when it opens to make the most of your day and buy the fast pass, you won’t regret it!

Working it out 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve battled with my weight. In my 20s I finally decided that I would make peace with my weight and accept myself the way I was. I used to go to the gym regularly but I knew food was my problem. My whole family are foodies…and not just my immediate family but my extended family as well. 4 years ago however, right after I had S, I started putting on a lot of weight. I was comfort eating and truth be told, I was comfort drinking too. A glass (or three!) of wine at the end of almost every day, once S was asleep, numbed all feelings and emotions I was going through. By the time I moved back to London in June 2013, I was at my heaviest. 

Let’s just say life took its toll and it took me over 2 years to bounce back and start doing something about it. I don’t know what shifted but something in December of last year did and from the 1st of January 2016 I felt like a new person. And thats when the change began. Many people have asked me recently how I managed to lose weight or what skin care I’m using. It’s really no secret and I’m happy to share….

1. The desire to change needs to come from within. No one can make you lose weight or be happy unless you want to. We all have different motivators. Dig deep and figure out what your motivator is. It could be seeing someone you love fall ill or your own health declining. It could be to get the attention of someone you like (listen, no judgement here!) Whatever it is, use it. Use it to inspire yourself and drive yourself to be the best version of you.

2. Download “My fitness pal” – I honestly believe this app changed my life. It made me so conscious of everything I put in my mouth. It’s a free app where you enter all your daily calories. It’s really easy to use and in the UK, most supermarket/restaurant items are on the apps database. Most actions take only 21 days to become a habit…this one probably only takes 2 weeks. Before you know it, entering your meals becomes a habit. And the best thing about the app (and weight loss) is NO deprivation. As I mentioned before, I’m a foodie and partial to a glass of wine. I wanted to be able to lose the weight without a) starving myself b) depriving myself of some Galaxy Smooth Milk Chocolate (YUM!) c) giving up alcohol – with this app it’s totally doable. I can’t recommend it enough.

3. Go easy on yourself…but be honest! If you lie, you’re only lying to yourself. We all have bad days, days we scoff chocolate or chips…nights we go out and have one too many. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking “Well I’ve buggered that up so I may as well eat what I want…” NO!! Take each day as a new day. Just because you fell off the wagon for one day, that doesn’t mean you can’t get right back on it! And celebrate your losses…and the weeks you don’t lose any weight, celebrate that week as well. And even when self doubt creeps in, speak to yourself as you would a friend…be kind to yourself…be kind to your body…remember, tomorrow is another day.

4. Find some inspiration. Unlike your motivator which is your reason for wanting to be a better you, your inspiration is something that keeps you going. When I first started going to the gym, I used to listen to Brooke Castillo’s podcast. They were and still are, amazing! Every episode provided me with a huge amount of inspiration. Till date, if I’m having a bad day/week, I’ll listen to a few episodes and I feel uplifted. Funnily enough Brooke talks a lot about weight loss but I don’t actually feel like her methods would work for me. Everything else she says though just blows me away!

5. Be conscious and present, especially when exercising. To me this means my phone and the gym don’t meet. When I’m at the gym, I’m fully at the gym, my phone stays in the locker. I do watch TV, it makes the time go by quicker but I’m not really distracted by it if that makes sense. 

6. Invest in a little me time and make a change. This could be getting your hair cut differently, changing the colour, adding a fringe, etc. A new change (you like) only adds to your confidence.

7. Visualise! Think about where you want to be and talk about it. Find a friend, a parent, a sibling…Someone you can freely talk to about your goals. Make sure this person is encouraging and inspires you to keep going.

8. Last but not least, remember, it’s not about the weight. I’m not about to say it’s what’s on the inside that counts because while that’s true, the outside does play a role in how we feel on the inside. Unfortunately we, especially women, judge ourselves quite harshly AND often equate how amazing we are with how we look. A big part of this year has been to gain back my confidence and while working on the outside has most definitely helped with that, working on the inside has been equally important as well.

I turn 33 tomorrow and I have to say, I’ve never felt better!! Working on yourself…physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally is not easy…but it’s totally worth it!!

Now (2016).                    Then (2013). 

Back to school with the O2 centre 

There’s no doubt that all the mums I know absolutely love their children to bits…however by the first week of September, every mum I know is ready for their child to go back to school. S had 2 months off for the summer and although he did a few days at camp, we went to Butlins, he had lots of playdates and we went to Tenerife, by the end of August I was counting down the days for school to start and ready for some me time.

With the long summer days and my hair being battered by both the sun and chlorine, I was desperate for a hair cut. I’d seen Live True London everytime I drove by the O2 centre but had never been. I was booked in for a hair cut at 9am on a Saturday morning. S had back to back birthday parties that Saturday and I needed a little pampering before I faced 20+ children high on sugar! Seraphine was my stylist. We went through what I wanted and then she took me over for a wash. I love the rustic feel of Live True London with their exposed pipes and yet they’ve accentuated it beautifully with gorgeous mirrors at each station.

My hair felt light and bouncy as I walked out. Unfortunately the blow dry didn’t last too long, the curls fell out quite quickly but I’ve had at least 4 people ask where I got my hair cut since!

As many of you know, I’m going back to work next week and even with phones and digital organisers, I’m a fan of good ol’ fashioned paper. So post hair cut I wandered into Tiger to see if I could get myself some back to work bits.

Tiger had a vast range of stationary to suit everyone’s needs. Funky highlighters, cool erasers and note books galore. I wasn’t a huge fan of the humour on some of their notebooks but I picked up some post it notes and a map of the world for S. We travel quite frequently and he takes a real interest in where we’re going and the different continents/countries.

I then popped into a stationary lovers dream store…paperchase where I found a gorgeous ethereal like list/note book.

For those who know me, you’d know how much I love London so when I came across Paperchase’s London themed section, I was spoilt for choice. I finally settled on a notebook of the skyline and a fluffy pen with a red bus at the top (who can resist a fluffy pen?! It’ll brighten up those upcoming winter months). 

Lastly, I saw a mug I had to have. I love mugs and I think starting your day as you mean it to go on is a positive way to start. You can’t see it all but it says “Today will be amazing.”

Last but not least I popped in to Sainsburys to get some back to school bits for S. Unfortunately I’d left it too late and they didn’t have what I needed in his size. Nevertheless Sainsburys is our weekly shop supermarket and I’m always finding bits and peices S loves…especially their Avengers stuff (and their Captain America’s shield lunch bag).

The O2 centre is a great one stop shop for mums and kids alike. It’s got a Vue cinema, restaurants, a huge Waterstones book store, cafés, Tiger, Paperchase and lots of other quirky stores.

Disclaimer : I was invited by the O2 for a cut and blow dry and to pick out a few bits and peices for back to work / school. All thoughts and opinions are honest and my own.

From SAHM to Working Mum

I’ve always defended stay at home mums. I have been one for a long time and although I have been working for the last year, I was working from home and choosing my own hours so really, I didn’t feel like a working mum. I was still at every community time at school, at every school event and regularly had coffee with other fellow “school mums”. But all that is about to change. After 5 years I am going back to a 9am – 5:30pm job. I didn’t realise it was possible to feel so excited yet so anxious at the same time. To feel like everything was coming together and falling apart at the same time.

I haven’t even started working yet but the guilt is slowly creeping in. Am I doing the right thing? Will S be okay without me? Does he still need me? How will he feel if I’m not there to watch him perform (read: stand on stage and pick his nose) at community time? How will he feel when he comes rushing out of the school doors and not have me there to pick him up? S has had my undivided attention for 4 and half years and all that is about to change. And my biggest worry is how he’s going to cope and feel. Although judging by the way he was acting today I think I should be more worried about how I’m going to cope because he’ll probably be just fine.

Many people have said to me that he’ll be fine and that it’s a good thing. That by working I am showing him good work ethic, etc. So yes while I’ll be doing it for him, I’m really doing it for me. Because I need it, because I want it. I absolutely love being a mum but I miss being Natasha too. And let’s be honest, when you’re a single parent and the centre of your child’s world, it’s very easy to forget who you are. To put your desires, dreams and goals on the back burner.

September is my birthday month, the start of the school year and a time for new beginnings. I’m about to start a new role I know I’ll enjoy which will also mean compromising on another role I’ve loved for the last few years. I guess my biggest fear is my own judgement. We’re so conditioned to believe our kids need us and that only we can do the best job raising them. One of my challenges is going to be getting past that mindset knowing he’ll be everything he’s meant to be whether I stay at home with him or go out to work.

As a mum I think I’ll always have the question looming over my head: Am I doing the right thing?

Wish me luck!

Michael McIntyre’s Big Show 

I don’t know how I heard about it but I started getting emails from The Applause Store. I’m a huge comedy fan so back in June I signed up for tickets for Michael McIntyre’s Big Show. I even tweeted asking when I’d hear back and about a month ago I got an email saying I’d got two tickets. Given that it’s a raffle draw, I was thrilled when I got the email! My friend Louise is in town from Istanbul and I knew she’d love this sort of thing so I invited her to come with me.

I’m on my way home from the show and amazing is the only word to describe it. As I mentioned, I love comedy and of course Michael McIntyre was brilliant. But it was all the extras that made it hilarious. He took Alexander Armstrong’s (presenter on Pointless) phone and sent a random rude text out. He had 12 year old Brooke come out as a secret star and do an amazing rendition of Whitney Houston. He had Ross Howard the comedian (amazing) and to end the show it was none other than Rick Astley (blast from the past!). 

They even had an old lady play “soap or nope”, only to meet her life long pen pal from Australia (they’ve been pen pal for 71 years!!!) I mean if that doesn’t bring you to tears, I don’t know what will!!?!

This is just one more reason why I love London. So if you fancy being in the audience at an amazing London show, head over to the applause store. You won’t always get tickets (I applied to my favourite Britain’s got talent and didn’t get it) but I got this and it made for a great night out!

Oh and the best bit? During the interval we were asked if we’d like to come up front and we moved from the Royal Circle (Row K) to the very first row in the theatre. Talk about up close and personal….score!! 🙂

London Duck Tours

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

London Zoo & Zoological Society 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The scarecrows wedding, London 

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

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

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

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

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