Side Street Style

Side Street Style

Side Street Style

A family lifestyle, interiors & travel blog


London City Break with Kids - The Highlights

family who travels

Every year we spend a few days in London as a family, it's my eldest's favourite city and we are lucky enough to live just over 2hrs away making weekend city breaks a great option when your looking for somewhere full of culture and heritage. Our first 2 nights we stayed in the amazing London Hilton on Park lane - do read my review about it as it's a perfect base for those travelling with kids to the capital.

The great thing about London is that you really are spoilt for choice when it comes to family friendly activities and we often try and see and do something new every time we visit and this weekend was no exception. We didn't know what to expect however as we travelled to London only a few days after the devastating Westminster Bridge attacks but we found the city as safe and welcoming as always.

Our first proper day in the city consisted of having the amazing opportunity to be one of the first people to watch the new Peppa Pig film Media Premier at Picturehouse Central, it was a really fantastic morning with Peppa crafts, biscuits and goodies and of course Peppa and George making an appearance. Both boys also really enjoyed the film despite the age difference (2 & 6), if your looking for something adventurous but also gentle this is the film for you. We also managed to swing by Liberty and take in all the colours of the flowers outside.


Russell Square

We then headed over to Russell Square for a little impromptu picnic in the sunshine before heading off the a Mothers Meeting with Clarks Shoes where we attempted to try and master the art of origami (and failing pretty badly at it) while also checking out the new range of shoes for spring summer. 

With the hotel being right next to Green Park is made sense to get up early one morning and walk over to Buckingham palace, my eldest was standing on the railings looking through to the palace and one of the armed police walked over, we thought he was going to ask him to get off the railings but instead offered for him to wear his policemen hat which of course made his day. 

Buckingham palace

cute toddler

After trying to spot the Queen we headed over to the worlds oldest toys store that is Hamleys. While there is a small Hamleys in Cardiff nothing quite compares to the London flagship store. A VIP tour had been organised for us by the wonderful people at London Hilton and we were immediately greeted by our tour guide who was a real life toy that had come alive to show us all that Hamleys had to offer. First was exploring the basement with a massive array of Star Wars memorabilia and toys and making our way right up to the top floor and ending the tour with our eldest going wild with the Pic-N-Mix.

Along the way we learnt a lot about the store and how it came to be as well as interesting facts on the oldest toys, rare Teddy bears and how many people pass through those doors each day. From start to finish both boys were so excited and completely engaged with the whole experience. You also end the tour with a goodie bag which includes a Hamleys Bear, ball, coloured pencil pack and a few other bits and bobs. It was really fascinating and an experience I recommend especially on rainy days.

Ralph Lauren store

While we hadn't planned to stay three nights as we were having so much fun we decided to book an extra night but this time on the other side of London in Camden, this gave us the chance to explore one of our favourite parts of London with the kids. In the morning we enjoyed a leisurely stroll along the Regents Canal, passed all the houseboats and eventually led us to the London Zoo. We had been to the Zoo a few years back when our eldest was much smaller and while I have mixed reservations about Zoo's in general I do feel that Londons Zoo invest a lot in the conservation of animals and it's clear the welfare of these animals is at their core beliefs.

Narrow boat

London Zoo

London Zoo

I find the one thing with London Zoo is that it's very big so allocate a whole day to see everything. We had around 4hrs here and only manage to see two thirds of the zoo. There are some really great places to eat and the sun was out and you can also hire buggies which is a great help as we generally don't take a buggy for our youngest when travelling but when you are somewhere where a lot of walking is required it's very useful having this available.

After 3 packed days we were pretty exhausted but happy after a wonderful time in this very busy but very family friendly city.


7 Tips On Throwing The Perfect Birthday Party

Kids birthday

If you’ve been to birthday parties before (of course you have!), regardless of age wether it be for you celebrating a milestone of for your children then you know they can either be rather boring or incredibly fun and memorable.

Hosting a boring birthday party is definitely the last thing you want to do and since we are heading half way into this year already and starting to think about my eldest sons birthday later this year I thought I would share seven tips on how to throw an entertaining and unforgettable birthday party.

1. First thing - The Guest List

Before you plan anything you need to have a rough idea of numbers because that will dictate what kind of location you will need, food etc. Also you will have a clearer picture of how big or small your gathering is going to be as well as making sure all you don't forget anyone.

2. Pick A Fun Theme

The theme can make or break any party because it can help decide whether the party will feel fun or a bit of a non-starter. While it’s up to the birthday person to decide the theme some of the best are ones that are colorful, uplifting, and appeal to a general crowd. Examples here would include a beach party, a Mexican fiesta, a dance party for adults and pirate parties, pool parties and character parties are perfect for kids.

3. Don’t Procrastinate With Your Invites

As a general rule of thumb, send out your invites a minimum of three weeks before the party is to begin. People have lives and they need to figure out how they can fit the party into their schedules, so you’ll always be more successful in bringing more people over if you send out those invites well in advance.

party cakes

4. Write Out The Supplies You Need

Before you head out to buy all the supplies you need for the party, make a list of what you need first. Not only will this mean you have a clear idea of what you need but also give a realistic view of the budget and how much you need to spend. Supplies will include things like tables, food and drinks, presents, coolers, tablecloths, plates, eating utensils, music, games, sports equipment, and whatever else you need/

5. Don’t Go Overboard With The Food

Don’t feel obligated to make a long and convoluted menu for the party. Keep things simple by sticking with a couple of food items and beverages. Examples of crowd pleasing foods could include pizza, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, spaghetti, or lasagna.

6. Tidy Up Your House, Garden or location

If the party is going to be held at your home, you want to make sure that the inside of your house and the outside garden space have been cleaned and tidied up before the guests arrive. Ideally, complete this process one to two days before the actual party date.

7. Have Fun

Last but certainly not least, don’t forget to have fun. This is what we throw parties for in the first place, right? Make sure that you have everything thoroughly planned out in terms of the games and activities you’ll play and when you’ll be eating food and cake to ensure that everything goes smoothly and results in the most fun for everybody. 

retro camera

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Summer the perfect time to go green in the home

healthy living

Summer is nearly here, and that means everyone will be out and about enjoying the beautiful weather.  It's also the perfect time to take advantage of the warmer weather and ease those utility bills, turn off the heating and enjoy all the positives that come with this time of the year. So what can you do to be more energy efficient this summer and cut down on what you pay your energy company?

Ditch your tumble dryer

If you have a garden or small outdoor space Summer is the perfect time to challenge yourself to a minimum of 3 months tumble dryer-free time and really start using your clothing line and let your clothes dry naturally. Not only is this a fantastic and easy way to save money but also it's better for your clothes.

Opt for LED Lighting

Changing out your existing bulbs for LED bulbs isn’t something that can help you reduce your energy usage just in summer. It’s a great year-round idea. LED bulbs work at a lower wattage than their incandescent counterparts and can use 75% less energy. Another benefit of LED bulbs is the fact that they last up to 50 times longer than regular bulbs, so you’ll spend less time switching out as well. 

simple interiors

Embrace natural light

What is even better than just changing your bulbs for LED lights is keeping your lights off whenever possible. The days of summer are long, so try to avoid the temptation to turn on unnecessary lights when there’s still plenty of natural light, so open those curtains and blinds and let the light in. Not only does using lights use energy, but it can also make your home hotter.

Cook Outside

Nothing quite says summer like cooking outside on your grill or bbq. If you can spend more of your summer evenings preparing meals outside, you can not only enjoy the weather and some family time, but you can also save quite a bit of energy. You could also opt for cooking on a small gas camping stove which is portable as well if you wanted to opt for a night at the beach, just be adhere to the correct safety procedures when cooking outdoors. 

al fresco

Eat local produce

This one doesn't necessarily save on utilities but summer is a time when local produce is at it's best so supporting small co-ops, farms and producers is a great way to give back but also cut down your carbon footprint.

Invest in New Window Coverings

The hot afternoon sun beating down into your home on summer afternoons can raise the temperature significantly and just like a cold home a hot and stuffy one is not ideal either. A good way to avoid this and make your home generally feel more comfortable is to ensure you have some high-quality window coverings, such as window blinds or shades. Lowering them before afternoon sun is at its worst can help retain your home’s cool air and keep you from sweltering.

In addition to window coverings, you might also consider purchasing awnings or overhangs that you can install on your south-facing windows during the summer. You’ll give yourself some extra shade, and in the winter when you need that heat you can take them down.

Simple tips like the ones above can help you avoid the sticker shock that comes with receiving those summertime energy bills this year.

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