Sing Along with Harriette

Not a wonderful photo, but here she is listening to the banjo.

Having been to a good few baby and toddler music sessions, I can say, without doubt, that this was the absolute best.

When I arrived and saw the number of parents and babies in the church hall on Exmouth Market, I knew that this was probably going to be good. There were so many chairs laid out that it was a little like a concert (a really, really fun one), but there was also lots of room at the front for little ones to dance and play, or sit on cushions.

Harriette seems to have endless energy. She and her band pen the songs, and each one was accompanied by guitar, banjo and even kazoo! From the website, it looks like different members of the band contribute with other instruments, too. The focus is very much on joining in, and not bothering too much about the audience staying in tune or making a mistake, which was right up my street ūüėČ I wouldn’t want to spoil any surprises, but there really is plenty to keep babies, toddlers and adults entertained and participating!

The bab was a bit overtired, so unfortunately we had to leave halfway through, just as they were getting the parachute out, but we’ll certainly be there again next week.

What a find! A real gem of a group.

  • Website: www.singalongsongs.co.uk
  • Location: The Church Hall (you really can’t miss it), 24 Exmouth Market, EC1R 4QE
  • Opening times: Wednesdays 10-11 and 11-12, and Thursdays 11-12. Check their timetable for holiday closures.
  • Getting there: The 19, 38, 341 and the 153 stop a short distance away – alight at Finsbury Town Hall. Alternatively, it’s a ten minute walk from Angel or a thirty minute walk from Highbury.
  • Cost: free, but a suggested donation of ¬£5 helps to keep it free for those who need it.

A short hop from Islington: Coram’s Fields

IMG_6739Approximately 40 minute’s walk from Highbury, or a short journey away on the 38, 19 or 341, is Coram’s Fields. If you have read the novel Coram Boy, the name will be familiar due to the Foundling Hospital that was set up on the site in 1741. There is now a museum dedicated to the hospital.

However, the main event for Islington mamas and papas is the fields themselves. Adults are only allowed through the gate if accompanied by a child, and once inside, you will find‚Ķ (take a breath)… sandpits, paddling pools, climbing frames, swings, adventure playground, aerial swing, sports pitches, small farm, a cafe, beautiful old historic colonnade buildings‚Ķ and all part of an expansive grassy park, sheltered from the sun by convenient plane trees.¬†There is even a Children’s Centre! The park is a real find – a safe, fun place to play, entirely dedicated to children.

The Brunswick Shopping Centre is just next door. Here is the bab looking after the purchases!
The Brunswick Shopping Centre is just next door. Here is the bab looking after the purchases!
  • Website:¬†www.coramsfields.org
  • Location: Between Russell Square and Gray’s Inn Road – the entrance is on Guilford Street,¬†WC1N 1DR
  • Getting there: 40 minutes walk (mostly downhill) from Highbury tube; or catch the 38, 19 or 341 from Angel. The nearest tube station is Russell Square.
  • Cost: free!
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Tiny Tempo

IMG_2037_2We popped along to a Tiny Tempo session at That Place on the Corner, as we had heard that the class is good fun.

We weren’t disappointed. ¬†Lots of songs and dances to get the babies going, with old favourites alongside some I had never heard (just how many verses of Row, Row, Row Your Boat are there? Who knew?!), and all accompanied on a ukelele for good measure. ¬†At first, however, I did find myself drawing comparisons to Baby Bounce at the library, which is free, but towards the end out came the instruments, scarves and bubbles, which of course added to the general fun. There was a teaching element with a focus on rhythm and¬†dynamics, and a gentle sensory experience with the scarves.

The regulars at the session that we attended (Friday, 2.15) seemed to range from about 3 months to 18 months, but see the class schedule here for suggestions for other age ranges.

  • Website:¬†www.tinytempo.com
  • Cost: ¬£6 (¬£8 at The Boiler House, N16)
  • Getting there: the classes run at Full of Beans, Clissold House, Nancy’s Pantry, That Place on the Corner, ¬†The Russet (Hackney), The Royal Inn (Victoria Park), The Boiler House (Stoke Newington) and The Hornbeam Cafe (Walthamstow), so there is likely to be one near you!

Baby Dam

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Last month, Baby Dam ran a photo competition to win one of their products, and we were lucky enough to win.

The Baby Dam¬†such a great concept, and I have since been raving about it to all of my friends with littlies. Essentially, it is a plastic ‘wall’ with rubber surround that sections off a small part of your bath. We have found two big advantages to this: we¬†use far less water these days; and the bab can grab her toys without them disappearing off to the other end of the bathtub! As you can see from the photo, she is pretty happy about this.

The Dam is easy to install or¬†remove in 3 seconds flat, and so far has been very reliable. Our bath has a shower guard around the taps, so we dam off the top end instead, and fill it using the shower head. It lies flat when not in use, so could even be put in the bottom of a suitcase if you really can’t live without it on holiday.

I was so excited to actually win a real live competition, and even more pleased that the prize is so useful!

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That Place on the Corner

Colourful, child friendly decor!

The best things always happen when you least expect it. A pal and I were touring Islington looking for a particular baby class that turned out to be cancelled anyway, so on the spur of the moment, off we popped to That Place on the Corner instead.

This venue and coffee shop is, unsurprisingly, on the corner of Newington Green. It’s been there for years, but has been taken over by newer management, and is now less of a cafe and more of a friendly party and class venue.

Bright and colourful (if a tiny bit tired in places), you can get a decent coffee and piece of homemade cake, and an Ella’s Kitchen pouch, while you wait for a range of classes from Tiny Tempo to Baby Ballet. There are plenty of toys to play with and lots of space to run about, let alone stash your buggy! Changing and high chair facilities are good, too, and I was particularly impressed by the gate between the kids and the front door – a really great idea when next to a busy road.

  • Location: That Place on the Corner, 1-3 Green Lanes, Newington Green, N16 9BS;
  • Getting there: the 236, 73, 341 and 467 all go past, or it is a ten minute walk from Canonbury overground or High&I;
  • Website: www.thatplaceonthecorner.co.uk