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Reviews Spotlight

SmartMats : Keeping Kids Mealtimes Fun and Interactive

Let’s not judge the family next door who are letting their children play with their iPads during mealtimes. But oh, the family next to them are really engaging with their children.  Aren’t they good parents. Oh look at that family, that kid can’t sit still however his parents are trying his hardest to amuse him… and so on. Oh that family is dreadful letting their kids run around the aeroplane (so us…)

We can all identify with each situation and if there was a solution to having calm happy kids in a restaurant or aeroplane – we would all know about it.  Until now, when there is an answer!

I recently came across the genius idea of SmartMats – quite simply, educational and interactive paper placemats.  Nathalie, the founder of SmartMats is here to tell more…

What are SmartMats?

Brightly coloured paper placemats which redefine kids dining experiences. SmartMats engage with kids through interactive and dynamic subject matter. Parents are kept happy too with the educational content of the mats.


We are also a socially aware company. Social responsibility is very important to us. We give 10% of our profits to the NSPCC and only use 100% recycled paper.

Why did you set up SmartMats?

As a mother of three young children I saw and studied the considerable physical, mental and emotional benefits of regular family mealtimes. With this often came the challenge to create a positive experience away from technology. SmartMats enable children to interact with each other and their parents through the use of a fun, unique, educational tool. Creating fulfilling family mealtimes and expanding children’s knowledge.


Who are SmartMats designed for?

SmartMats are aimed at children between the ages 2 and 12. They are divided by age group, 2-4, 5-7 and 8+. However, each mat has a drawing and colouring section which can be enjoyed by all ages.


SmartMats can be used at home, in restaurants, hotels, airplanes. These mats are filled with games and activities to keep kids busy, happy, and off screens!


We used them after swimming and they were particularly useful for our mixed age group.


How Can We Buy SmartMats?

SmartMats can be purchased directly from the website  and are also sold on The Event List 


If you are looking something to keep the kids entertained whilst also mentally stimulated  – get a pack of these for the summer!!


Natalie’s Favourites

Shop : Hours are spent at Daunt Books in Marylebone High Street. The kids love sitting in the corner of the shop on the little chair and trying out various books before buying.

Website : I spend much too much time browsing Net a Porter as well as Trip Advisor.

Restaurant : River Café on the river in Hammersmith for special occasions. I also love The Fromagerie in Marylebone for a quiet breakfast away from the craziness of London life. The kids love the pizzas at a small pizzeria Olivetti.

Hotel : As a family we have spent many, many happy times and adventures in the treehouses in Chewton Glen. Situated in the New Forest in Hampshire. Being outdoors and hiking in the beautiful, lush countryside and having picnics on the nearby beach is perfect.

Holiday Destination : Each time I visit Venice I am amazed by its rich history, beautiful architecture and the wonderful Italian culture. Above all walking between the canals and exploring secret passages is so much fun.

Parenting Tip : What you do has a far greater impact than what you say. It is important to lead by example through actions, not just words.

Places Reviews Travel

Black Pig Retreats : Luxury Safari Tents, Dorset

We have just returned home with our hearts full and a renewed love of camping. We stayed at Black Pig Retreats in Motcombe, Dorset (near Shaftsbury) this weekend and didn’t want to leave.  We arrived on Friday evening and were welcomed by the very calm and kind Carolyn who immediately asked if the kids wanted to go in the boot of her ‘buggy’. That won them over and within two minutes they were off with her. I like this place!!


We followed them down the dirt track and then up the hill we were presented with out accommodation for the weekend. Wow was the first thing I exclaimed – and that was without even seeing inside.

Safari Tent

The tent had an eat in kitchen living room, 3 bedrooms (to sleep 6), flushable loo, hot shower a lovely terrace.


The whoops of joy as the kids explored their surroundings. They were particularly enamoured with the tree house style bedroom painted in Greek blue with rich mustard curtains to keep out the light and make it true camp style.


The kitchen was spotless and very well equipped – I didn’t need my trusty plunger as there was a stylish and sturdy Le Creuset one that was far superior to mine.  There was some milk, break and biscuits too to keep hunger at bay for when we arrived. They really had thought of everything.


I couldn’t believe how high spec our bedroom was, 6 pillows and a goose down duvet!!! This is one place that you can leave your pillow at home!




There was so much space, we were able to have friends over for drinks and a BBQ. The kids were in heaven meandering through the brooking exploring all the sights to see on the trail – especially the ‘Lion’.

Sweet Peas

The next morning the children were whisked away to feed the animals on the farm. Carolyn has a real way with children and felt immediately comfortable with her.


The highlight was feeding the real black pigs and of course the horses!

Horse Feeding

I highly recommend you visit. It is super comfortable and so peaceful and beautiful – I feel really well rested and refreshed and will definitely be heading back. It would perfect with the family or even a midweek break with a couple of friends as they have a studio for Pilates & Yoga too.


To book, call Carolyn on 01747 590 678 or email

Beauty Reviews Spotlight

Oskia London : Improve Your Skin With These Products

There is a first for everything, and I had a first this weekend that I never expected to happen – ever. Growing up, I had severe acne. From the ages of 15-17 it was horrific – I was actually pleased I was at an all girls boarding school (!) so I didn’t have to face the ‘real world’. After failing with many different medications both internally and tropically – I hit the hard stuff and was prescribed Roaccutane – twice. For those that know this drug, it is not for the fainthearted and is really the last resort. Now I have grown out of it (thank fully although I lie awake at night praying that none of my children have my ‘gene’) and when I apply my tinted moisturiser I still so pleased I don’t have to trowel it on my skin and camouflage my face with industrial cover up.

So, this weekend when someone commented that I had ‘lovely’ skin, I really was taken a back and was very British about it ‘oh no i don’t, it’s so dry, I have pock marks etc’ as I genuinely don’t think I have good skin.

But actually, when I think about and look up close, I do have pretty good skin. It is smooth, well nourished and looks well cared for.

This is only a relatively recent thing in the last few years, since I have jumped not he bandwagon of using serums and acids and what not.

And then after a chance meeting with one of Alex’s old friends in the pub, who introduced me to his brand OSKIA, after trying it, it improved even more. I love all their products for dehydrated skin


Rather than wax lyrical about how incredible this brand is, I will recall a text that my friend sent me, after she used my OSKIA.

“Wow, I love that OSKIA oil and moisturiser, my skin feels and looks amazing – thanks for the tip!”

You are welcome my friend.

And today, not only do we have an interview with the founders but they are also offering a generous 25% off with londonmummy18 if you buy through their website

What made you start OSKIA Georgie?

After trying my fathers MSM supplement (a bio available form of sulphur that he was introducing to the market to repair horse joints) my complexion glowed – no eczema or acne – and  my nails were so strong.

I started researching the effects of tropical nutrients on the skin and OSKIA launched in 2009 as the first nutritional skincare brand that focuses on bio-available nutrients.

Since then we have won over 100 awards, opened our own lab and factory in the rolling hills of Wales in Monmouth, where I come from. My amazing husband, George Gordon, runs the business with me, which luckily works very well, and we split our time between our London HQ on Sloane Street, and our factory in Wales.



I have seen OSKIA in many of the high end department stores. Who else stocks OSKIA?

We are really lucky in that we work with the best of the best and have never approached any retailer ourselves. In the UK, you can find us in stores such as SpaceNK, Selfridges, Net a Porter, and hotel spas like the famous Cliveden & Chewton Glen (both of which I have just formulated their own brand spa products for them) but we also love the independent stores and spas like Mortar & Milk and the very cool Pig Hotels.

Of the products I tried, I think your Renaissance 360 made the biggest difference to the condition of my skin.

rennaissance 360

What are your best-selling products?

Probably our Renaissance Cleansing Gel, which is a lovely pink enzyme cleanser and the first gel-to-oil on the market when it launched.

However, our Restoration Oil is also very popular as is the Renaissance Mask which is amazing before or after an event….

Renaissance Mask


Do you have celebrity endorsements?

Lots, but I’m afraid we don’t spill the beans. It drives my PR mad but I very strongly believe that skincare is private and brands shouldn’t divulge. We have a very ‘British’ approach to this, which is probably the reason why we have a very loyal celebrity base. I have a growing pile of thank you letters from the most amazing people – I am very lucky! What I can tell you though is that we also work with the British movie industry- Bridget Jones, Tomb Raider, Danish Girl, Le Mis, Star Wars. You might have spotted our products in Bridget Jones’s Baby – I nearly fell of my seat when they popped up.

What’s next for OSKIA?

We have some really lovely new launches this summer which I’m very excited about – they slightly bring out the inner girl. We’ve also just launched in the US with Barney’s, so this will take quite a lot of focus for this next year.

Georgie’s Favourites

Restaurant : The Dairy, Clapham Old Town. I can only really describe it as British seasonal tapas – and absolutely amazing.

Hotel : Any of the Firmdale hotels. Currently, I’m loving The Crosby Street Hotel in New York. I think Kit Kemp is a genius designer.

Shop : I recently discovered By Drew in Soho New York. I walked in and screeched that I would like to buy everything – the clothes, the carpets, the chairs, everything. I would like to live in it. Like most mothers I spend far too much time in Peter Jones.

Website : Tricky one as I don’t spend much time browsing websites. I do love antiques though and love That makes me sound really boring though doesn’t it!!

Holiday destination : Tulum, 20 years ago. It is still amazing though. I love bare foot chic and really don’t like the big flash hotels. I’d be very happy in a rustic cabanas with no air conditioning. Tulum is heaven.

Parenting tip :

Oh my goodness where do I start. I have 3 children, ranging from 18 months to 7, and I worked the day before Arthur, 7, was born. I think being a mother is really hard work and absolutely exhausting. Juggling work and family is harder still and I always feel guilty – either I’m not working hard enough or I’m not with my children. However, I strongly believe there is no right work/life balance and if anyone says they do they are fibbing. Instagram really doesn’t help which is why I’ve kept off it until now (I now do post!).  We are all doing a brilliant job! So my biggest tip is to do something everyday just for yourself, whether it is a walk, reading the papers in a cafe, spending 30 mins in a gallery, or having a quiet bath (that last one never works – children can sniff out a ‘family bath’ in no time and suddenly there are an extra 3 bodies in the bath.)

Do make the most of this incredible offer. The website is really easy to navigate and remember –  you are worth it – you only have one skin!


25% off all full size products.

Code londonmummy18.

T&C only.

Exclusive offer.

Can not be used in conjunction with any other offer.

Food Reviews

How To Make The Most of a Night Away

Pink ticket, blue ticket – whatever type of ticket it is called – being ‘allowed’ a night away, without the kids, for no reason in particular other than for desperate need to speak to each other during the daylight uninterrupted (I don’t know about you but i’m knackered in the evening and I turn in to an incommunicative zombie – much to my husbands delight) is a MEGA treat.

London, country, gastropub, airbnb, room above pub, country hotel, boutique hotel or even stay at home (and kids go to Granny and Grandpa’s)….

How Do You Choose? 

With the amount of choice nowadays, it is hard to decide what you fancy – as we don’t have time to think about anything other getting through the next set of jobs – how are we meant to make a sensible informed deciton about out own needs? (Please read tongue in cheek – I am not quite that desperate!)

All I knew is that I wanted to chill and not rush around like a deranged chicken trying to tick off as many sights and shops as I possibly could – just because I wasn’t with a box of frogs aka kids.

We needed to relax, read the papers, catch up on all the Style magazines my mother saves for me, watch something other than Officially Amazing Goes Bonkers (ok, it is pretty good – a firm family favourite but not every time we turn the TV on) and to sleep.


With only 1 night… 

  • You don’t want to spend hours in the car
  • You want it to be quiet
  • You don’t need loads of facilities as you are knackered
  • You need it it be spacious as you aren’t going to move from it
  • You need it to be comfortable for the above reason
  • There needs to be good food (obviously!)

So, we came to the very sensible conclusion of  The Stafford

A quintessential old English hotel in the heart of Mayfair. 


The Stafford


It ticked all of those boxes and one of the most impressive aspects was the service. Wow, nothing was too much trouble, every whim was waited on (not because this was a review – oh no I wish!) and all the staff were very humble, polite and charming.




We checked in, did a circuit of the hotel – didn’t take long as it isn’t vast and then headed to our room.

The ambience was cosy without being too chintzy.


It felt rather Italien actually – must have been the marble bathrooms.


As there isn’t a spa, I booked in a massage with Blow  Whether you want a treatment, nails done, hair blow dried they can come to your hotel room and do it there and then.

My 60 minute deep tissue massage (and it was deep!) was £60 which is much less than usual London prices. 

Then for some champagne and a trip to The American Bar. I had been here before but never realised that it was attached to The Stafford.

Possibly one of my favourite bars in London. Off the beaten track, discreet, cosy and awesome decorations.

American Bar

After the friendly bar men ploughed us with Expresso Martini’s (leftover from orders – for some reason he liked us!) we headed to the acclaimed The Game Bird for supper.

I have heard great things about this restaurant from one of my ‘foodies’ friends, so I was expecting good things.

It didn’t disappoint. In fact, nothing was a miss.

The philosophy at The Game Bird is simple – dedicated to following the seasons and supporting local artisans including award-winning family owned farms, we have created a ‘theatre of the senses’ menu based on uncomplicated excellence: local, seasonal produce sits alongside time honoured British classic.

The Game Bird

After sleeping for 11 hours, yes 11 hours, we rolled down to breakfast that we now considered brunch and it was WOW!


I won’t wax lyrical about the food as 1) it’s piggy and 2) I am not a restaurant critic but if I heard anyone criticise it, it would put me off them, not the restaurant!

Anyway, I highly recommend you hop foot it there, even if it is just for afternoon tea or a drink at the American Bar.

Ideal For

  • Central cosy one stop shop night away
  • Take international friends for a quintessential afternoon tea
  • A sociable family dinner at The Game Bird
  • Warm up drinks with friends at The American Bar

The Stafford, St James Street, SW1A 1NJ

Family Life Reviews

Hello Fresh : How To Please Everyone at Meal Times

Every family has a picky eater. Some families have a lot. Who has time to cater for everyone’s likes and dislikes. I certainly don’t! As our kids get older, we are eating altogether as a family more.   I don’t fancy cooking two separate types of meals to please all palettes (I would rather eat nursery food than do that – hmmm yummy actually, I love the odd fish finger!) However, I don’t want to bow down to the kids all the time. There is a middle ground and I have found a way to meet it.

So, what’s the answer? 

We tried Hello Fresh Family Boxes for a month. 1 box a week with 4 bags of recipe’s ready to construct.

I can’t tell you how easy this made my life.

Pick a recipe card from the box, find the accompanying brown paper bag of ingredients, chop a few veg, cook and voila – a meal for the whole family.

Recipe Card

How Does The Food Arrive? 

I was most impressed by the presentation of the food – each box arrived with its own recyclable freezer bag for the cold food and the dry food was compartmentalised into brown paper bags, with a colour coded sticker so you could easily find which food went with which recipe!

Hello Fresh Box


What Does It Include? 

You can choose how many meals you would like each week.

Each meal includes a generous amount of meat, fresh vegetables, a carb (not just your usual tattoos) and seasoning ingredients.

It was evident from the quality of the food, that each ingredient is carefully selected from high quality, often local, producers.

Top notch ingredients!

Local Ingredients


Turn It Into a Cooking Lesson! 

Not only is it an easy way to cook with your little ones as you you don’t have to think too much but they still believe they are the reason such a feast has been created, as they are cooking it – they are more likely to eat it!

On the recipe cards, they do include add ons that you can include or not (i.e. sweet chilli’s) so we left a lot out to get them used to the more sophisticated flavours before we blew their mind with chilli!

Who is it perfect for? 

A busy family, who don’t have time to think about creating new meals but are open experimenting.

So, if you are too busy to prioritise cooking for the family and want a constructive  cost affective way (no waste) to eat together without having to think too much – you have to try a box!!

It has given me so many ideas – it is like going on a cooking course in your own home, and you are the teacher! 

Hello Fresh are currently doing a 50% introduction offer with GET COOKING at checkout and includes free delivery.

No Brainer!!

Right, I am off to salivate over this weeks Family Menu Sausage Pie and Pan Fried Gnocci!

This post was written in collaboration with Hello Fresh, however all opinions are my own. 

Reviews Services

Quiqup : Shop, Pick Up & Drop Whatever You Need

When it comes to new technology, I am slightly adverse to trying anything new as I am aware that it may become another thing to distract me from my day job (being a ‘good’ Mummy).  However, Quiqup will actually help you to be a more productive and subsequently happier Mum, as it will free up more time for the enjoyable things in life.

The beauty of Quiqup is that once you have downloaded it on your phone (IOS and Android) and entered your details there is no subscription – you only pay when you need it.

Not only is it perfect for a busy mum who can’t just nip to the local florist for the dinner parties flowers in 4 hours time or has no time for a ‘proper’ cafe in the local cafe, get it delivered to you!

These are all the different options.


After getting the bank this morning I realised my cards with my husband over in the city, so I simply booked ‘my own personal courier’ to go and collect them and bring them home.

Then I got slightly carried away with the ease and reasonable price of the service and ordered some donuts for pudding this evening!!


I don’t want to wax lyrical to anyone who has just had a baby or is about to have a baby or for those of you who are poorly – you need this now!!! A Mocha frappacino light with less ice? Yup, coming straight up quicker than you can get to the front door to receive it!



Basically the whole of London but could be coming to a county near you soon…



They can’t put a price on time, so they simply charge for distance travelled.

My Credit card being collected from St Pauls and back to Fulham was £11.50 and the donuts were £7.50. Not bad eh?

Click here is more detail on pricing but these are worth their weight in gold surely?




Still not sure whether it is for you? Take a look at the little video I put together of my experience using Quikup!


Have a lovely day!


This post is a collaboration with Quiqup, however all options are my own. 





Date Night : Island Grill Restaurant

Based in the heart of Bayswater on the edge of Hyde Park, Island Grill Restaurant is attached to the Lancaster London Hotel.


It is a cosmopolitan restaurant perfectly suited to those who are looking for good hearty London cuisine with a varied menu suited to both men and women.


With its mahogany interiors and low lighting, it is a great restaurant to escape the hustle and bustle of the tourist mecca of central London and if you get a window table a fun place to people watch.


It is famous for its cheese board and the steak was top notch. The winter salad also hit the spot.


There is a good kids menu too, so if you have them in tow it is family friendly that welcomes little ones.

Island Grill web


Ambience : 3 The low lighting and candles on the table make this a good evening venue. During the day it is down to personal preference, but I have never been too keen on mahogany tables and brown chairs, but if that’s your thing…

Service : 4 The waiters were so nice and attentive.

Value : 4 Considering it is a central London location, with the generous  portions all reasonably priced, it is good value for money.

Taste : 4 Perfect for those on the Atkins Diet – the Grill menu is superb, our steak was tender and tasty.  Lots of varied cuts to choose from.

Overall : 4 Despite no particular ‘novelty factor’ which we usually go for, it is a great central London restaurant, perfect as a pit stop before or after the theatre in particular.

Island Grill Restaurant


sign up-2

Activities Food Places

Mummy & Mini Tea, Urban Meadow Cafe

Last Sunday the kids had a fab time at the Princess Diana Memorial playground in Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park.  A little tip if you are heading there –  I didn’t realise you weren’t allowed in the playground without kids with you, so after letting the rest of them go on ahead (I was taking photos…) I was stumped when they wouldn’t let me in! Don’t make the same mistake…


Once we were reunited and the tummies started rumbling, we hopped across Bayswater Road (lots of pay and display parking btw) to Urban Meadow Cafe for a special family afternoon tea that they are currently offering, Mummy & Mini Tea.


Urban Meadow is a cafe/bistro attached to the Double Tree Hilton Hotel. The entrance is spacious and there are lots of outdoor tables as Urban Meadow attracts a lot of dog walkers and there are heaters and water bowl for your fury friend. Here is a little video.



We were greeted by friendly staff who showed us to our table and gave us the Mummy & Mini Tea menu. The interiors are slightly American Diner meets Daylesford!


We ordered 2 adult teas and 3 children’s. The food arrived quickly so there was little time to crack on with the craft packs that they gave the children – not that they minded when they saw the cupcakes! To our delight we were each given a small wicker basket with our tea in, including scones and clotted cream!


It was a tasty as it looks and everyone likes food served a novel way! What a lovely way to finish off the weekend.


Rating 0-5

Ambience : 3 It wasn’t very busy as it was their quietest time of day and they were clearing tables before the rush of dinner guests, so the atmosphere wasn’t electric.

Service : 4 At the beginning the service was a bit slow, but once the kids started kicking off and there were a few tuts from the other patrons, the service hotted up and we were served like kings!

Value : 4 All fed for £30. Not bad! There was so much food it doubled up as the kids tea.

Taste : 4 Soft & tasty sandwiches & large selection of specialist teas.

Overall : 4 It is a great place if you are in the area.  Next time you are in Hyde Park and fancy something to eat, don’t go to the cafe’s in the park #ripoff, head to Urban Meadow Cafe. It is a lovely family outing or also a great place to go with friends (or your dog) midweek. We will definitely visit again!