Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Electric Cinema, Notting Hill

When I was in the dizzy blooms of pregnancy, this was where I imagined I'd be going every week once the bub arrived: the Electric Cinema in Notting Hill. Huge comfortable armchairs and sofas, softly lit table lamps, delicious food - the Electric's Tuesday morning "Screaming" was going to be my home from home for the next year. It'll be great I thought. I'll get to see every new release while my softly snoring babe snoozed in my lap.

That was the plan.

The Electric Diner
Now look. I'm not saying my experience was typical. In fact, I know it wasn't typical. Because out of the 100 or so babies in that theatre, mine was the only one who screamed through the whole thing. The. Whole. Thing. I spent most the film pacing at the back trying to calm him down. At the end I had to leave to change a nappy and missed the end of the film. Yup.

I went ages ago, and this post is just appearing now because I always thought I'd go back. I didn't. But really, you should go. It's an ace place. But try to time it for when Cosmo isn't there.

And if you go, check out the attached Electric Diner before the screening (you access the cinema - right by the screen - through a very cool secret door by the toilets). We had a scrumptious breakfast and while it's not the most buggy-friendly restaurant,  the staff made us feel incredibly welcome. If we don't make it back to the cinema, we might just come back here and eat another plate of waffles...

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Pure Package

OK, maybe putting a photo of the delectable Hugh Jackman under a post entitled ‘Pure Package’ might have caused you a raised eyebrow…  but bear with me. This blog isn’t about to take a lurid turn (more’s the pity). Oh no. Mr Jackson’s noble noggin is providing a relevant, wholesome visual aid to next London tip for incompetent mothers, i.e. "Pure Package", a gourmet food delivery service.

Pure Package delivers specialist menus to a variety of clients around London (including the de-loverly Hugh Jackman) catering for a variety of diets including that of the post-natal mother. 

I’ve mentioned before I wasn’t in a great way when I came out of hospital. That’s an understatement. I only remember eating two pieces of polystyrene toast and half a plate of air-line style pasta during my three-day stay. Every time food was brought to me, I was supposed to be feeding. And due to complications, feeding took forever. And due to health and safety my uneaten food was swiftly removed after a certain length of time. No wonder I started hallucinating. 

But once home, one of the biggest factors in my recovery was the delicious food parcels that arrived in a cooler bag on the doorstep in the middle of the night. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and fruit. Each meal nutritionally designed to meet the needs of a breastfeeding mother, and very, very  tasty. I truly believe that my recovery, both physically and mentally, was due in a large part to these food parcels. Even when I didn't feel like eating, a beautiful dish turned up on my doorstep and I forced myself to eat it. Within 24 hours I no longer had to force myself. (They even provide disposable cutlery and napkins so you don't have to do any washing up).

Pure Package, as you can imagine, is not cheap. After all, you're having all the meals prepared and delivered to your house. However, I'd say it was exceptional value. In one way that's easy for me to say as I didn't pay for it - it was paid for (a whole SIX WEEKS worth) by my wonderful twinster Elizabeth. However, I would definitely use my own dosh to use their service again - maybe not for six weeks but certainly for the first few days out of hospital. They're a great company: flexible, considerate and in my case, worth every penny. And I thank my lucky stars I live in central London where services like this can make all the difference to an incompetent mother...

Sunday, 4 August 2013

British Museum, Bloomsbury

Who doesn't love the British Museum? I visited numerous times pre-motherhood, and couldn't wait to take Cosmo - especially as my spies had informed me it had great facilities for babies...

Well, after a rather hellish bus journey, we arrived to a rather hellish museum. I'd forgotten just how popular the British Museum is. Crowded, noisy. And my attempt to garner information about the family-friendly activities from the "Information" stand didn't amount to much. All I can say is that the staff here could learn a thing or two from the V&A. No smiles and cheer here, no, far too busy for that thank you.

The British Musuem may indeed have good (not great) facilities for babies - private nursing room, nappy vending machine etc - but what's the point if you can't find them? I asked four members of staff where the nursing room before I was eventually pointed in the right direction. At the same time, I was also informed  couldn't use it as it was the wrong day - or the wrong time - couldn't really get which. Yep, that's right. Apparently, you may only nurse in private during certain hours. They did, however, permit me to take a picture of it. Whoopie. Here it is:

What is it about nursing rooms and bare walls? Will somebody put up a poster or something?

Ho-hum. So unable to use the nursing room, I was advised to visit the lower ground floor to feed Cosmo in peace and quiet. On first glance, this seemed like an ideal place, but as soon as we got comfortable, a rather stern member of staff began herding people up as a private conference was beginning. We finished up quickly.

I'm not saying the British Museum isn't baby-friendly, but for an incompetent mother it's not a great day out. On paper, it looks great. In reality I won't be back for a while.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013


Who’m I kidding? Swimming really shouldn’t feature in any blog incompetent mothers. Getting a wriggling baby dressed and changed is difficult enough in your own home - on a wet, slippery, verruca-seasoned floor while sharing a single changing mat with three other frantic mothers, it’s enough to give you another mental breakdown (I assume as an incompetent mother you’ve already had a least one…)

But for some reason I can’t recall, I was determined to take Cosmo swimming – so from four months old, that’s what I did. I’d heard good things about Waterbabies. They cost more than some but I took that to mean Cosmo was less likely to drown. No truly. That’s how my mind works.

I can’t pretend the preparation was easy. Battling tears, squeezing into ill-fitting swimsuits and trying not to have any ‘accidents’ in the water has become a regularly feature our Wednesday afternoons – and that was just me. For Cosmo it was even worse. Twice I’ve got into such a panic that I’ve taken scissors to edit his wet clothes rather than attempt to change him. His howls, before and after swimming can be heard on the west side of the Tamar when the wind is in the right direction…

Cosmo, from birth hated – and I mean HATED – water. When I took him to Cornwall for Christmas, my parents almost called Social Services after hearing Cosmo’s screams when we tried to bathe him. But curiously, from the very first lesson, Cosmo loved swimming. And loved the instructor.

So although I can’t pretend an incompetent mother will find swimming easy, I’d still say to give it a go. The only thing you might lose is your hearing… and a sock… and a swimming nappy… and a dummy… and your back-up dummy…and your sanity... etc, etc.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Tate Modern, Southbank

Sorry for the lack of posts just recently - it's mainly due to laziness but also partly due my wonderful identical twin have wonderful identical twins!! Hurray! The new family of four live close to Tower Bridge, and while I know the Southbank pretty well, I'm putting on my 'incompetent mother' hat and having a nose into what's available for incompetent mothers round their neck of the woods. First up: Tate Modern. 

I'd heard good things about Tate Modern, but I'll confess my first couple of trips as a mother were a little disappointing. As it's always so crowded, it's pretty difficult to find a quiet spot to feed a baby - and after asking numerous members of staff for the best place I was none the wiser. What a change from places like the V&A and the Natural History Museum.... However, I did find a lovely huge room on the ground floor where I was able to feed Cosmo in peace. (This was late in the day - I have a feeling it was heaving with hundreds of school children earlier in the day...)

The second disappointment was the changing facilities. Firstly, there's a single changing room on the ground floor with a single changing wall mount. On two separate visits I found it locked... and was told I had to ask for the key at the cloakroom. On my second visit, the room was open but there was a queue of exasperated mothers waiting to change their exasperated babies. (There is also a nursing chair inside, but who would feed their baby there when there's so few changing facilities?) My spies informed me there were changing facilities in the men's toilets, but none in the women's or disabled.

Ho hum. On a positive note, we did see some great art and Cosmo enjoyed this visit more than any other place he's been to. Maybe it was the big white walls or crowds of people, or maybe it was just his good mood - but he didn't stop smiling. Despite the lack of facilities, we'll definitely be returning, but not sure what we'll do when Cosmo and his little cousins all want changing at once...

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Harrods, Knightsbridge

Cosmo upset that I'm taking photos rather than feeding him
According to Harrods website, the store doesn't admit customers "wearing athletic singlets; cycling shorts; flip flops or thong sandals; with a bare midriff or bare feet; or wearing dirty or unkempt clothing". While I'm not up for a bare midriff yet (who'm I kidding? I've never been up for a bare midriff...) I'm pretty sure my vomit-stained yoga pants and hair-so-unwashed-its-matting falls into both the "dirty" and "unkempt" category, (to say nothing of Cosmo's poo-stained attire - my friend calls them 'poonami's when it reaches the neckline...)

Security, however, turned a benevolent blind eye to the dress code and instead of booting us out helpfully opened the door and pointed us the direction of the very well-hidden feeding and changing rooms on the fourth floor.  Complete with Ollie Ella nursing chair (yours for a bargain £1000) and Red Castle changing mats (a snitch at £45), these rooms really are the plushest in London, and a delightful escape from the madding crowds of Knightsbridge.  Just go into one of the two individual rooms (roomy enough for your buggy), shut the door and sink into the plushest nursing chair you'll find. For someone who hates shopping, it's very tempting just to snuggle up and fall asleep.

Infinity mirrors
Big toilet, little toilet!
The staff, as you might expect, are delightfully welcoming of children and made a huge fuss over Cosmo (who wouldn't?) and the temporary Disney Cafe situated in the children's department offers a step-free, buggy-friendly place to grab a cup of tea and a Mickey-Mouse-shaped sandwich.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Science Museum, South Kensington

Science was never my strongest subject but a visit to the Science Museum has left me inspired.  Any museum which has the tenacity to exhibit a mummified cat, ancient condoms, a rocket launcher and a 1950s tractor under the banner of "Science" deserves a visit...

Somewhat less inspiring however, is the "Family Room" situated in the basement. A thumbs up for providing a nappy vending machine, but a thumbs down for the old-school stylee decor including blocked toilet and plastic chairs. If you want a quiet, relaxed spot for feeding you won't find it here. Best head to a remote spot of the museum (such as 'Agriculture') or even better, head to the nursing room at the Natural History Museum next door.

However, if you really want privacy, ask a member of staff. They have a room available for breastfeeding or indeed praying. (I frequently do both at the same time; especially when I have a blocked duct...) These 'private rooms' are an interesting concept. The V&A offers to open up a private room for feeding, likewise Kensington Palace. While it's a lovely gesture, how many mothers would think of asking...?

Cosmo trying not to cry at the sad facilities
A blue chair and a red chair.