A short hop from Islington: Spitalfields City Farm

I really don’t know how we haven’t been here before, but this weekend we discovered this fantastic city farm. What a find.

From the moment you walk in, through a passageway lined with flowers and shrubs and butterflies and bees, to the gazebos for picnicking families, to the animals themselves, this place is well thought out, and the animals clearly come first. Welfare seems to be a high priority.

Turn left, past the bees, to find paddocks with pigs, goats, cows and adorable donkeys; or turn left into a cobbled farmyard with chicken coops, sheep and Guinea pigs (and a very patient cat who was chased around the yard!).

Entry is free, although donations are welcomed. There is a kiosk to buy food and drinks.

Check the website for events, including the annual goat race.

Website: http://www.spitalfieldscityfarm.org

Getting there: overland from Highbury to Shoreditch High Street (lifts for buggy access).


Tick Tock Music

Tick Tock is an Islington institution that has now been running for twenty years.

More than just nursery rhymes and instruments, Tick Tock is a real interactive performance session with original songs and opportunities for babies, toddlers and adults to sing and dance along. The ladies who run it are truly passionate and have real showmanship (show-womanship?!!) and you really can’t help but join in with a smile! After the group, there is an opportunity for adults to have a cup of tea, and toddlers to have some juice or water in a sippy cup.

Geri, the inspiration behind the group, has just retired, leaving Tick Tock in the capable hands of Shelley and Shireena, who really bring the sessions to life. They accept new recruits on to pre-booked taster sessions, where you then have the option to sign up for the term – but they are very popular, so get in there quickly! This is a real community gem.

Website: www.ticktockmusic.co.uk

Locations: St Stephen’s, Canonbury Road and St Mary’s Neighbourhood Centre on Upper Street.

Cost: £10 membership fee, and £7.50 per session.

Leshy Lamb Children’s Clothing

We are big fans of independent baby clothes businesses, and recently discovered Leshy Lamb online – a real find!

Emma currently sells her gear through her Etsy shop, but also has a strong Facebook and Instagram presence (@leshylamb). It’s really worth following her for up to the minute news on new designs, offers and competitions.

Here’s the bab modelling two gorgeous pairs of leggings (please note: flamingo legging pics on their way soon!). I have to say, the rabbits are my absolute favourites – simply adorable. But what really impressed us was the snood. We have bought snood style dribble bibs in the past, and they have always been far too big and gaped around her neck, but the Leshy Lamb snoods are ingeniously made with poppers, so they really do catch the dribble, whilst looking uber cool. 

 We’ll certainly be buying more!

* Leshy Lamb Etsy store 

* Instagram: @leshylamb

* Facebook: Leshy Lamb Children’s Clothing 

Anna Morawska Photography 

Anna is an Islington parent who runs a wonderful newborn and baby photography business from her beautiful, light-filled home on Richmond Avenue. 

I took the baby for a session just before she began to crawl, so she was stationary for long enough to take some photos! Anna makes you and your family feel at ease from the moment you arrive – one of the joys of her studio being in the home. It is lovely and warm for little ones, and the props are all cosy, comfortable and designed with the babies in mind. Being a parent herself, she knew how to get the bab smiling and laughing and made sure that I had time to feed and cuddle her when she had had enough of being the model.

The photos are just gorgeous, and I’m so pleased that we had them done. I can highly recommend Anna – just make sure that you book well in advance (as in, before you give birth if you are planning on newborn pics…!)


Bemerton Children’s Centre: Messy Stay and Play

This Stay and Play is great fun, with water and sand play, paint, jelly bath, dinosaurs, insects, ride along toys, all outside under the all-weather canopy. Opportunities for safe outdoor play like this in London are few and far between, but Bemerton manage it extremely well – they also have a Big Outdoor Stay and Play in Barnard Park. 

The families and staff were all very friendly and encouraged play. Smaller babies were able to use the softer area inside, and there was also a play kitchen, colouring area and  book area for children who wanted a less ‘messy’ time!

As the children’s centres go, this one was very clean and safe, with two locked doors between the playroom and the road. I was impressed. 

Jumping Jacks Soft Play

Jumping Jacks is a soft play activity session designed exclusively for babies and toddlers up to 3 years old, so everybody can play safely without worrying about being trampled by a ‘big kid’!

With ball pools, ride along toys, foam shapes, rocking horses, slides and downhill ‘car tracks’ to name a few, there is plenty to keep your little one entertained, and tea and biscuits for the big people.

After the next session on the 26th June, they will be taking a break until September, so now is the time to go along!

  • Cost: £5, and £3 for a sibling.
  • Where: St James Hall, Prebend Street – it can be tricky to find, but the entrance is on the corner of Prebend Street and Packington Street.
  • How to get there: any bus that goes down Essex Road or Canonbury Road will get you closest. There is pay and display parking on Prebend Street, outside the small parade of shops between the hall and the church.
  • Website: http://www.jumpingjacksn1.co.uk
  • Twitter: @jumpingjacksn1

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 😉 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.