THE TOY STORE, Oxford Street, London

When anyone speaks about coming to London with kids, one place that is always on the list of places to visit is Hamleys. And it is amazing! But there’s a new place in town folks and this place had me walking around like a child in a candy toy store, mouth slightly agape!

A few months ago I noticed that Dorothy Perkins at Bond Street tube station was shutting down but I had no idea what was replacing it. Until last Friday that is. I got off at Bond Street to run some errands and quite literally, could not miss this!!

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Amazing isn’t it?! It had every toy I could think of. Ben & Holly and Paw Patrol toys aren’t one’s you see just anywhere. I’m not sure when exactly The Toy Store opened but the perfectionist in me absolutely loved their displays. These pictures don’t even do it justice!

There were a members of staff dressed in various characters and a magician performing magic tricks. As you can see from the pictures, it was very quiet! I’m hoping that’s just what you get for a Friday morning and they’ll be bustling with business in no time.

Part of me cannot wait to take S while another part of me thinks I best keep him away as long as possible!!

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Things to do in London at Christmas Time

I was recently asked for some advice on things to do in London over Christmas for a couple and their 10’ish year old son. So here’s my list of the best things to do if you’re visiting London during Christmas.

1. Shopping – If you’re staying in town, you’ll have Oxford Street and Regents Street but if it’s too cold (they are coming from Hong Kong) then I’d suggest you head to Westfield. It’s not far, a few stops on the Central Line to Shepards Bush (from Bond Street) and you’re there. It’s a huge mall with all the high street outlets as well as high end fashion stores. Another shopping haven is Bicester Village. It’s in Oxford (there’s a direct bus from Marble Arch) and it takes alittle over an hour. It’s a designer shopping outlet (open air). You can get some pretty good deals there.
2. The lights on Oxford Street and Regents are usually amazing. Debenhams has undergone a total makeover and will be opening in November so I think their lights will be pretty spectacular. The windows in Selfridges (Oxford Street), Harvey Nicks and Harrods (Knightsbridge) are usually really good. You have to see Harrods at night, it’s lit up (all year round) and looks like a Golden Palace. Selfridges also have a huge Christmas shop in the basement.
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3. The great outdoors – Hyde Park have a winter wonderland. I’ve never been but have heard it is AMAZING so looking forward to getting back to London and heading there. They have an ice rink at Somerset House which is at Aldwych (you can catch the No. 13 bus from Baker Street going South). Diagonally across the road from there you can go up to Covent Garden and they turn the whole piazza into a Winter Haven with a 60ft tall tree!!
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4. Touritsy things to do – There’s Madame Tussauds, the Dungeons, the houses of parliament and the Tower of London (their son likes history). You can do the big red bus tour which also includes a river cruise. The commentary on that is really good and you learn so much about the city in such a short time. I’m just not sure how comfortable it’ll be riding on an open top bus in December though! There’s the London Eye which includes a 4D show at the end which is good. The Eye ride itself is okay. It takes 26 minutes to go around. Worth it if it’s a good day. The Harry Potter tour which is located at Watford is worth it for fans of the infamous Wizard. The British Museum (Tottenham Court Road), the National History Museum, the V&A (South Kensington), the Transport Museum (Covent Garden): they are all free to visit and well worth it.
5. Stuff for Kids – I only have one word…Hamleys! On Regents Street, it’s a must see for any child visiting London.
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6. The West End – Plays and Musicals: Although I’ve never seen a show on Broadway, people say the West End is a lot better. Maybe I’m biased Winking face I’ve heard the Book of Mormons is really good and 1 Man 2 Guvnors is very very funny. I intend on seeing both when I am back. I saw Wicked last year which was amazing. Mamma Mia (great to sing along to), The Lion King (the story was okay but worth watching it just for the sets and to see how they create the animals, etc), Phantom of the Opera (pretty dark but one of my favourites). My Fair Lady, Legally Blonde, Sister Act – they were all good. Ghost has been out for a couple of years now and I heard that is good too (it’s on my list!). If you like history then you may enjoy Les Miserables (based on the French revolution). Again I’ve heard fantastic reviews from some people and not so great reviews from others. There is a box office on Argyll Street (Opposite Niketown at Oxford Circus, beside Warehouse, the women’s clothing store). It’s called Stargreen Box Office. You can get great deals on theatre tickets there. I’d suggest you call them on the day, ask them for tickets for the same day and collect before the show. Good tickets for the top shows can be around £40+. Matinee shows are usually more reasonable and most theatres have matinee shows on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
7. Afternoon Tea – You’re in London, darling, how can you not have Afternoon Tea?! Personally I love good ol’ fashioned Richoux on St. Johns Wood High Street (they have other branches as well) but for a little something extra special, I’ve heard great things about Afternoon Tea at The Ritz and The Wolseley.
More than anything, being in London at Christmas is magical. It can be really cold but if you wrap up you won’t feel it so much. There’s heating on in all the stores and anywhere indoors so it’s only really while you’re outdoors that you’ll feel it. All the shops play Christmas songs, everyone’s in a really good mood as they shop and get ready for Christmas. I’m sure you’ll have a lovely time!
Let me know if there’s anything I’m missing!
The List

Christmas is coming…

Christmas is coming!!!!

If you’re from the UK and more specifically from London, there are usually 3 signs that Christmas is coming.

1. Red cups at Starbucks

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2. The coca cola advert

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3. The Oxford Street lights

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And all three are here (or there) which makes me very excited. I’m probably not as excited as I could be since I’m in Lagos and it’s 28 degrees everyday and S is walking around in shorts, a t-shirt and sandals but from next week, we’ll be back in freezing cold London, feeling very festive indeed.

People have often asked me what is it that I love about London at Christmas. My answer…it is pure magic! Close your eyes and picture this with me. You’re walking down Oxford Street, sipping an eggnog latte (insert your drink of choice here) in a red cup, there’s a guy roasting chesnuts on the side of the road and as you cross the street you get a waft of it. The Selfridges shop window is beautiful…you can see Debenhams down the road all lit up in red (this is from 8 years ago, the last time I spent Christmas in London – Debenhams revamped themselves this year). Christmas Carols are playing in all the shops and everyone’s freezing but smiling as they pick out Christmas presents for their friends and family. You walk into any store and hot air blows in your face, a cosy feeling compared to the damp cold outside.

I could go on but you get the picture 🙂 I’m sure there are people who could tell me about the crowds, the rowdiness, the shoving and the pushing at Christmas time. But as you know I’m a glass half full kind of person so I choose to see the best at Christmas.

To start getting into the spirit of Christmas while I’m still here in Lagos, I’ve ordered Christmas sweaters for S and I online, ordered some of his presents and a personalised stocking, watched all the christmas ads (my favourites are the Coca Cola one, the Marks & Spencer one and the TK Maxx one) and I’m reading “Coming Home for Christmas” by Jenny Hale.

I can’t wait to spend time with family, drink lots of mulled wine, devour my aunt’s amazing Christmas lunch, open too many presents (hint! hint!) and laugh…ALOT!!

Are you as #christmasobsessed as I am?