An early start on Portobello Road.
Well we Love heading down to London on the train especially with the kids. We try and arrange lots of fun outings and visits to places that will equally be fun for us as parents, and fun for the children. I honestly believe that adult and child fun can be combined, and your children will grow to appreciate many things as they become teenagers then young adults.
We've always had this approach with the kids we're not afraid to take them into a nice quiet coffee shop or restaurant, an antiques shop where they potentially could knock a few things over! or a museum where they may consider they might be bored out of their brains. I guess it all comes down to a little bit of compromise and actually as the years go by they seem happy to go with the flow a little, and thats great.
I remember visiting a beautiful antique shop down in Dorset, and the children two of them at that time, being very little wanted to touch things as children do. We made them sit in a nice little free space in the shop and the owner of the shop gave them a little stack of old children's books to browse. That kind shopkeeper restored my faith in these places and it should yours to. We were able to happily look around and we bought stacks of old linens and tray cloths, doilies and such like as a result.
So in saying all that I hope this blog post today will help you to adopt this attitude that children can enjoy all the finer things of life, as well as the parks and other activities aimed more at the kids.
We Got our kids up super early because we had booked the 7.15am train to London. I know that sounds crazy but with a little planning it can be done. Getting three kids out the door is a tough job so my tips for a smooth run go like this.....
1. Everyone including parents have their outfit out ready to get dressed into straight away as soon as they we wake.
2. The breakfast table is set the night before so that kids can just quickly sort themselves out with eating. I also pack some fruit for the train journey the night before.
3. If you plan to pack a lunch then do it the night before, its just far to rushed to do it that morning. Make sure everyone has coats out, shoes, scarves, gloves all the bits we might need bags packed activities for the train such as a book notebook etc..
5. Check Camera for batteries the night before and have spare no point wasting time on your trip trying to find some. And make sure phones are fully charged.
You might think these tips are basic common sense but believe me common sense can seem like a distant thought when you've got three children, and the chaos of busy family life can override everything. If I didn't adopt this plan we would probably miss the train!
Our plan was to head to Portobello Road, where on a Saturday it hosts the most fantastic vintage and antique markets.
Because we were there so early we felt like we were getting first pickings at the vintage clothing stalls, it felt like the rest of this Notting hill neighbourhood could have been asleep apart from these faithful stall holders. "We are so early" I said to one stall holder as I browsed her collection of 70's dresses as she continued to set up her stall "No Darling I'm Late" she said.
This dress takes me back to my childhood of home made dresses in the 70's and early 80's.
Thats me just trying to see the price tag, believe me if you visit this place you better have some cash ready to spend.
There is such a range of print and design here for the textile or Fashion enthusiast it's brilliant.
Naomi Picked out this scarf design along with quite a few other designs that we bought, we'll blog about those soon. Glad to see she has an eye for a great find.
There is such an awesome vibe amongst the stalls of food, coffees brewing, vintage clothes, and different styles of music playing from the Vinyl Record stalls, along these streets. There's a real contrast in the neighbourhood of graffiti walls and old cafe's, Habedashery's, boutiques and fine gift shops.
Then you stumble upon the most elegant colourful streets that this area is famous for. It really is a feast for your eyes, we had so much fun wandering about taking it all in.
There are souvenir stalls but thankfully not too many just enough to keep my kids happy.
And there are flower stalls everywhere.
There are also plenty of Fruit sellers shouting out their deals across the busy hustle and bustle of the street just like any other British market.
You can imagine popping out from your lovely pink, yellow or blue house to get everything you need for the Saturday breakfast. from bread, fruit, meat, olives, coffee its all here.
The boys loved this army surplus stall especially the Camouflage bags.
Hundreds of old letter press stamps
And no surprises here, this stall also attracted our boys although things were a little out of their pocket money range sadly.
Of course there are hundreds of stalls selling china, pottery and ceramics. I'm not sure how we managed to come away with out a china purchase? but we did.
This lovely Antiques shop will look familiar to you if you are a fan of the recent Paddington bear movie. It's were Paddington takes his hat to be inspected by the dealer, and then of course heads out on a chase after the wallet thief, one of my kids favourite scenes. We had to weave our way through here and what an Aladin's cave it was, just full to the brim with stuff. We went in one entrance and out another. It would have been impossible to turn back on ourselves in any kind of assemblance without turning the shop upside down with our kids, and asking people to step aside so we could come back out. It was a relief to not go out the way we came in.
The kids loved these metal signs and number plates, especially the super hero ones.
More examples of wonderful coloured buildings above the antique arcades and that blue sky really brightened the day, despite the cold.
We eventually wandered away from Portobello road and headed to Hyde park grabbing a coffee along the way. It was so pleasant to walk by all these lovely houses. I love this house with the pink door, and surprised to see beautiful Pink blossom in full bloom at the end of January.
The children were then able to enjoy a bit of freedom to run around away from the crowds.
We snuggled up in the park on a bench in front of this pond to eat the lunch we brought with us, some of which was also thrown to the birds and ducks. It seemed like we walked for miles, we had plans for the afternoon but not before we popped by to see the queen.
Anyone who knows London will know we really did walk a fair way our poor children's legs no wonder they were exhausted the next day. From Portobello Road all the way to Buckingham Palace, thats some distance. Shame she never invited us in for a cup of tea!
Maybe she'll invite us in next time.
Our three lovelies peering through the tall fence.
After all that walking we rewarded ourselves with a ride in a black cab to our next destination. These legs certainly needed the rest and it was worth every penny of the cab fare.
Watch this space to see what else we got up to and what inspired us on our London trip.
I hope this will give you some inspiration to get to some vintage markets in your local area or visit a local city or London in the coming weeks.
Catch up soon