Vicky’s Post: Digital Mums – The Final Hurrah

It’s true what they say – time flies when you’re having fun!  I still can’t quite believe it has been 18 weeks since I started the Advanced course with Digital Mums.

I stumbled upon Digital Mums purely by chance after being made redundant in December 2014. I had been working in the Digital Out of Home advertising business for over 10 years, a long time. I felt I could do my role as a Digital Content Manager standing on my head. Scheduling content across 1000 digital screens? No problem. Project managing a digital advert campaign? With my eyes closed. The role had see me plan my wedding (it was a LONG engagement!), get married and become pregnant with my first child. I felt settled, comfortable. Then almost a year to the day I returned back to work from maternity leave – wham! Redundancy.

To say it came as a shock was an understatement, and right before Christmas too. Although there is never really a good time to lose your job! Panic set in. What can I do? What about Beatrice? She was used to Mummy working from home. Would we have to put her in full time childcare? How would we afford it? A trillion and one questions flooded my mind.

One day when faithfully updating my LinkedIn profile I happened to stumble across Digital Mums. Reading what they had to say was my hallelujah moment. With their advanced course I would be able to retrain as a freelance social media manager. The job description fitted my skill set perfectly. It was almost as if this course had been tailor made for me. What really swung it was the fact that during my training I would work alongside a real business. Putting the theory into practise and running their social media channels. No better way to learn really.

A phone call with one of Digital Mums’ co-founders Kathryn Tyler sealed the deal.  I applied for the course and found myself signed up to the Digital Mums March cohort.

The training is broken down into: lessons, assignments, peer group support sessions and interactive sessions with your business. All of the learning is done online and can be completed at your own pace. During the training you learn all the elements you need to become a Freelance Social Media Manager. From user personas and tone of voice to creating a campaign and developing a content strategy. It’s all there.

So since March I have been working with Anna at Babysitters of Kensington & Chelsea. I have to say working with Anna has been an absolute pleasure. From our first telephone meeting (which we have weekly as part of the advanced course) it was clear we were going to work well together. Throughout my training I have received Anna’s full support and encouragement. Running the #SummerTimeOut campaign has been a lot of fun. I have met and engaged with so many incredible people via Twitter and Facebook. It’s been an absolute joy and although I have found myself functioning on 4 hours of sleep on occasion from having a toddler and studying. I have loved every second of it.

Working with Anna has made me feel so valued and I can honestly say that I feel like one of the team.

As the course comes to an end, I can feel my Media Mama Mojo returning. I am so much more confident about launching myself in the big wide world of work as a Freelance Social Media professional. I am very excited about the future of flexible working and the opportunities it will bring to me and my family.

I am so grateful to Digital Mums for providing me with the tools to get my confidence back, but of course I couldn’t have done this without my business.  So a huge thanks to Anna and the team at Babysitters of Kensington & Chelsea for all their support and for believing in me.

If I ever need a babysitter next time I stay in West or South West London I know who’s number will be on speed dial…

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#SummerTimeOut Pick of the week – Food glorious food! (markets)

This is our last #SummerTimeOut pick of the week post and think I have saved the best to last. The food markets dotted around London are one of my favourite things about this city. What better way is there to catch up with a friend or spend some quality time alone then to potter along rows of stalls run by independent (and usually incredibly friendly) business owners selling delicious food and drink?

There are far too many to list in one post (quick shout out to Herne Hill Market which is also great) so here are a few of our favourites:

Borough Market

Image taken from the Borough Market blog

Image taken from the Borough Market blog

It is no coincidence that our second branch, Babysitters of Southwark (opening in September) is for families in South and South East London, including those in Bermondsey where Borough Market is! This has got to be the king of food markets. Whether you’re looking for cheese, paella, curry, vegetable juices, brownies the size of your head, pulled pork sandwiches or granola – they’ve got you covered. Go hungry because it’s an excellent place to have lunch before you pick up something sweet for the journey home. Borough Market is also circled by many wonderful cafes and restaurants including Monmouth Coffee and Elliot’s Cafe (in my opinion the best burger in London but they only debut on weekdays at lunchtime).

Portobello Road

Taken from  'Shop Portobello'

Taken from ‘Shop Portobello’

If you’re not all that interested in food (in which case i’m not sure we have a lot in common) then Portobello Road will keep your foodie friends happy while you get lost amongst antiques, jewellery, leather bags, paintings, postcards, clothes, pocket watches and pretty much anything else you can think of. Portobello Road is a complete tourist hot spot and only crops up on Saturday’s (there are some food stalls open during the rest of the week though) so get there early to avoid the crowds. If your feet are aching after a long day of browsing then treat yourself to a red velvet cupcake from Hummingbird Bakery before curling up in a luxurious red velvet chair at the Electric Cinema.

Duke of York Square Market

Image from The Blimey Blog

Image from The Blimey Blog

If you’re looking for a much more serene version of Portobello Road, this little gem pops up on Duke of York Square (nestled into the King’s Road) every Saturday. One of my favourite things to do is to buy some sushi rolls from Aki Maki (in fact, I mentioned them in my interview with Sloane Square Magazine at the beginning of this year) followed by a coffee and a cannoli from Casa Cannoli to eat on the grass in front of the Saatchi Gallery (particularly nice when it’s not raining…but don’t count on this!). The Saatchi Gallery is free to enter and a wonderful place to wander around and work off those pistachio treats.

We’re only just getting in to August so with the rest of this month and September (my favourite month) still ahead, I hope you can all find some time for yourself and enjoy some #SummerTimeOut!

Thank you so much to Vicky for running such a fantastic campaign. The lucky winner of our #SummerTimeOut competition was Fiona Armstrong who has won a free BOKAC babysitting appointment – congratulations Fiona and thanks for entering!

#SummerTimeOut Pick of the week – Outdoor theatre and cinema

There is nothing like an evening at an outdoor cinema. It takes the already luxurious experience of watching a beautiful film on a huge screen with great sound and a comfy chair to a whole new level.

Pack the mother of all picnics (i.e. lots of wine and cheese), grab a rug and some blankets and you’re on your way to a very special night out!

London is full of outdoor cinema screenings as well as theatre performances and here is a rundown of some of my favourites:

Theatre: Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

I first visited this theatre on a school trip to see ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and have been totally enchanted ever since. Being outdoors brings a whole new element to the play and without the help of fancy lighting or microphones, the atmosphere feels very intimate. I have been to see ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and ‘Peter Pan’ recently and both were excellent. There are bars, bbq’s and picnic benches to grab a bite to eat before the play and I would definitely recommend doing so in order to take full advantage of the evening.

How beautiful is this! (taken from 'theatrebreaks.com' )

How beautiful is this! (taken from ‘theatrebreaks.com’ )

Cinema: Somerset House

Last year I booked tickets to see Annie Hall with a group of friends and.it.poured! The fact that I am still recommending this place, even though we were draining our humous before the film even started, says a lot. Bring a thick rug as sitting on the cobbled stones for more than an hour gets a bit sore! Somerset House is absolutely beautiful and the courtyard where the screenings take place feels very secluded, despite being smack bang in Central London. True Romance is showing on the 15th August and Roman Holiday on the 16th which would be my films of choice. Book soon because tickets sell out fast!

Ice cream available throughout the performance! (image taken from Somerset House website)

Ice cream available throughout the performance! (image taken from Somerset House website)

Pop-up Screens: Various locations

If you don’t want to trek to Central London, there are loads of pop-up screens across West and South-West London. Grab your partner, a group of friends or (if you’re feeling really generous), your children and give them a go!

Here are my picks for the films left to see this summer (can you tell I like a classic rom com?!)

  • Stand By Me: Ravenscourt Park, Hammersmith (14th August)
  • Dirty Dancing: Ravenscourt Park, Hammersmith (15h August)
  • Grease: Bishop’s Park, Fulham (6th September)
  • The Notebook: Ravenscourt Park, Hammersmith (18th September)
  • The Shawshank Redemption: Ravenscourt Park, Hammersmith (20th September)

#SummerTimeOut Pick of the Week (and it’s free!)

If I am feeling stressed, anxious, overloaded or an important decision needs to be made, I will instantly suggest a walk. There is no better way to clear my head and I find it so much easier talking to someone when you are walking side by side.

The beautiful serpentine lake has solved many of my problems!

The beautiful serpentine lake has solved many of my problems!

Even when there isn’t something on my mind, a walk is a wonderful way to spend a morning or afternoon, especially when there is a treat in store at the end of it. One of my favourite places to walk is through Kensington Gardens to Hyde Park, across the bridge to the Serpentine, around the pond (a quick pit stop at the end for an ice cream) and back again. In the sunshine, you’re surrounded by families picnic’ing, couples sunbathing in the long grass, teenagers messing about on the pedalos and masses of dogs running around having the best day ever.

In the winter, the lack of activity makes it peaceful and the fresh air really blows the cobwebs away (but let’s not think about winter just yet)..

The view from the bridge in Hyde Park

The view from the bridge in Hyde Park

If you’re looking for a longer walk, I highly recommend the route from Hammersmith to Richmond. You can follow The Thames Path which hugs the river through Barnes, Putney, North Sheen and Richmond and there are parts where you can barely believe you’re still so close to the city.

When you get to Richmond, walk the extra 25minutes on to Petersham Nurseries and the full trip will take around 2 hours. If that sounds a bit much, you could always start at Barnes Station (roughly half way).

Image from

Image from GQ magazine

Petersham Nurseries will probably be familiar to many of you but if you haven’t heard of it or haven’t been before, GO! There is a beautiful teahouse selling delicious cakes, tea and coffee (well deserved after the walk). If it’s a really special occasion, book in to the Michelin starred cafe which is more than worth every penny. The food is delicious and the setting makes for a truly special meal.

Image from 'Great Cake Places' (so they would know!)

Image from ‘Great Cake Places’ (so they would know!)

Now i’d love to say I would then set off on the walk back to Hammersmith but let’s not be too virtuous, especially when the District Line from Richmond will have you back to High Street Kensington in under 40 minutes. Blissful day!

#SummerTimeOut Pick of the week – The pub!

Hurrah, the sun has made an appearance! I don’t mean to panic you, but as we can’t be sure how long it will stick around for, I’m going to start planning some al fresco drinks and meals asap!

Living in West or South West London means being spoilt for choice when it comes to pubs with beautiful outdoor spaces. Below are some of my favourite spots for a glass of Pimms over the weekend or a cheeky mid-week burger:

The Devonshire Arms (Kensington)

Image from 'Fancy A Pint'

Image from ‘Fancy A Pint’

Since it’s slightly away from the madness of High Street Kensington, you might describe this place as a hidden gem if it weren’t for the pretty substantial beer garden at the front which entices passers-by. Monday’s are ‘beer and burger’ night (£10 for a pint and a burger) and the inside is cool and airy (they recently redecorated) in case you can’t nab a table outside. Find out more here or visit 37 Marloes Rd, London W8 6LA (between High Street Kensington or Earl’s Court tube stations)

The Windsor Castle (Notting Hill)

Image from 'Londontown' (looks much better in real life)

Image from ‘Londontown’ (looks much better in real life)

This pub has the seasonal X-Factor in that it is popular all year round. In Winter, the low doorways, cosy nooks and rustic furniture make the place feel snug and cosy. In Summer however, the garden is where it’s at. A gigantic (by Central London standards) area at the back complete with its own bar (sometimes). The food is also very good and it’s a favourite with the locals of Notting Hill. Find out more here or visit 114 Campden Hill Road, London, W8 7AR (between High Street Kensington and Notting Hill Gate tube stations).

The Queen Adelaide (Putney)

Take from The Queen Adelaide website

Take from The Queen Adelaide website

I rarely make the trip to Putney but when I do, it’s usually to come to The Queen Adelaide. This place really sings in Summer thanks to their humongous garden and fantastic Sunday roasts. Book a table and get there at the beginning of lunchtime because I have been known to wait over an hour for my food. However, the crisp white wine and Bloody Mary’s more than help to pass the time! Find out more here or visit 35 Putney Bridge Road, London, SW18 1NP (between East Putney tube or Wandsworth Town station).

I know everyone will have their personal favourites when it comes to the Great British past time of whiling away the afternoon in a pub so I’d love to know where your hot spots are?

#SummerTimeOut Pick of the week

I’m writing this on a grey, drizzly, muggy morning – you’ve got to love London in July!

Despite the post-Wimbledon gloom, I’ve got high hopes for sunshine next week so this is a good time to take stock of the places I want to make a trip to this Summer. I’m starting with one of my favourite spots in London and somewhat of a hidden gem – Holland Park.

Nicknamed ‘the back garden’ for many of the pedigree pooches of Kensington and Notting Hill, Holland Park is an excellent place to escape the hustle and bustle of West London and enjoy some #SummerTimeOut.

Image from 'What's On In London'

Image from ‘What’s On In London’

Although many local families will already be familiar with the park due to the playgrounds and mountain of kid’s activities which take place there, it also has lots on offer for mums and dads looking to relax.

A must see are the beautiful Kyoto Gardens, arguably one of the most tranquil spots in London.

If you’re feeling fancy, book tickets to the opera and treat yourself to dinner at the Belvedere Restaurant.

The beautiful Belvedere Restaurant, smack bang in the middle of the park

The Ice House Gallery, which is tucked away behind the cafe (also a lovely spot for a cup of tea and/or an ice cream) is a tiny art gallery which changes hands every few months and is always worth a look.

Otherwise, Holland Park can’t be beaten when I’m in the mood for a quiet stroll. It’s small enough to be able to walk around in about 40 minutes, with lots of sheltered walkways which make it feel incredibly peaceful. The benches scattered throughout are all dedicated to loved ones and you really get a sense of how important Holland Park is and has been to so many local people and families throughout the years.

So block out a couple of hours for yourself, bring a book or a newspaper or simply lose yourself in thought. You’ll love it.

p.s If the rain holds up, you can always follow them on Twitter: @HollandPark_LDN

Perfect #SummerTimeOut treat! Jodie Ellis stars in Shakespeare’s As You Like It

One of our babysitters, Jodie will soon be starring in Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’.

Jodie says: “I’m going to be playing Rosalind, the lead character and Shakespeare’s most formidable heroine. As You Like It is one of Shakespeare’s only plays to be dominated by a female so is a must see for anyone who has an interest in feminism or gender representation in theatre. The play is of course a comedy and will be a really fun and laid back event to enjoy, especially when you can bring your own picnic and drinks and sit in the sunshine!”

Sounds heavenly! and we think would be the perfect opportunity for some #SummerTimeOut

as-you-like-it-banner-200-height-low-res

Further information: Following previous sell-out productions of Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Mayhem Theatre Company are thrilled to return to Cannizaro Park in Wimbledon and Nonsuch Park in Cheam with their annual summer Shakespeare, and are excited to be adding a new third venue this year, the grounds of St Philomena’s School in Carshalton.

Mayhem’s Shakespeare in the Park has proved very popular in previous years with a high demand for tickets and limited space available at the outdoor venues. As performances sold out in advance last year the Company are urging people to book their tickets early to avoid disappointment.

Please bring your own seating or rugs. Picnics are welcome. We will only cancel a performance if absolutely necessary due to adverse weather conditions. In this instance, if possible, tickets for an alternative performance will be offered. We will not, however, be able to provide monetary refunds.

Dates

  • Sat 11 July 2015 7.45pm – St Philomena’s School Grounds, Carshalton
  • Tues 14 & Weds 15 July 7.45pm – Nonsuch Park, Cheam (dog free area)
  • Thurs 16, Fri 17 & Sat 18 July, 7.45pm – Cannizaro Park, Wimbledon (Italian Garden)

Tickets: £13/£10 (Concessions / MMTC members)

Box Office: www.ticketsource.co.uk/mmtc & 07939 144610

#SummerTimeOut

School’s out for summer (well almost!) Our kids are lucky enough to have an entire summer of fun and frolics ahead of them. Summer camps, days at the beach, ice cream treats, trips to the museum or to the park – the list is endless.

What about the wonderful Mummies & Daddies of West and South West London?  We at Babysitters of Kensington & Chelsea believe you deserve some #SummerTimeOut of your very own.

What would you do or where would you go if you had 4 hours of childfree time this summer?  We would love to know about your favourite places to eat, drink, and relax in your local area.

As a thank you for sharing your #SummerTimeOut secrets with us, we will be running an exclusive competition across our Facebook and Twitter channels. You could win a 4 hour babysitting appointment with one of our registered babysitters to live out your dream #SummerTimeOut date.

To enter all you need to do is ‘like’ our #SummerTimeOut competition posts on Facebook or ‘retweet’ our #SummerTimeOut competition posts on Twitter.

The competition will run from Monday 6th July until Sunday 2nd August 2015. So look out for regular #SummerTimeOut competition posts that will be running each day.  Full terms and conditions can be found here.

Enjoy!
Here’s to plenty of sunshine and #SummerTimeOut!

#SummerTimeOut competition: Terms & Conditions

Babysitters of Kensington & Chelsea  #SummerTimeOut competition

Terms & conditions

  1. How to Enter

1.1. To join in the competition entrants will need to ‘Like’ and/or ‘Comment’ on a #SummerTimeOut competition post on Babysitters of Kensington & Chelsea’s Facebook page.

1.2 Or ‘Retweet’ and/or ‘Quote Retweet’ a #SummerTimeOut competition post on Babysitters of Kensington & Chelsea’s Twitter page.

1.3 The winner will be selected in a prize draw where all entries will be entered and a winner selected at random.

  1. When to Enter and Who can Enter

2.1. The Competition opens on Monday 6th July and closes Sunday 2nd August 2015

2.2. Entrants can enter at any point between these dates

2.3. Entrants can interact and engage with the competition as many times as they wish, but will only be entered into the prize draw once.

2.4. The Competition is open to parents living in West or South West London, aged 21 or over, excluding employees and agents of Babysitters of Kensington & Chelsea and anyone professionally connected with the administration of the Competition.

  1. Prizes

3.1. The prize for winning the competition will be a 4 hour babysitting appointment (for up to 4 children) at the winner’s residence with one of Babysitters of Kensington & Chelsea’s registered Babysitters. 

3.2 The Prize is as stated and they cannot be sold or exchanged for cash, goods or services. Unless specifically agreed in writing by Babysitters of Kensington & Chelsea, the Prize is not transferable and must be taken by the winner in person.

3.3 The prize – the babysitting appointment will be held on a day/time that is mutually agreed by both parties.

  1. Data Protection and Publicity

4.1. You consent to your name, photograph and basic information about you being disclosed on Babysitters of Kensington & Chelsea’s digital channels or other media if you win any Prizes under the Competition.

4.2. Any personal data relating to participants will be used solely in accordance with current UK data protection legislation. By entering the Competition, you agree that Babysitters of Kensington & Chelsea may contact you in relation to the Competition

4.3. Competition winners will be contacted by Babysitters of Kensington & Chelsea. You must provide accurate contact details on notification.

4.4. Babysitters of Kensington & Chelsea reserve the right to use the voice, image, photograph, name and likeness of the winners for publicity and in advertising, marketing or promotional material without additional compensation or prior notice to the winners. In entering the Competition, all participants consent to such use of their voice, image, photograph, name and likeness.

  1. Competition Rules

5.1. The Competition will be run and Prizes will be awarded at Babysitters of Kensington & Chelsea’s sole discretion.

5.2 The Competition winner must reside in the West or South West London areas covered by Babysitters of Kensington & Chelsea.  

5.3 Babysitters of Kensington & Chelsea’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

5.4. We reserve the right to suspend or terminate your access to Babysitters of Kensington & Chelsea website and services, and to refuse entry into the Competition

5.4. We reserve the right to change the Competition rules and these Terms and Conditions from time to time. If we do so, we will always have the most up to date terms and conditions on the competition blog and in the case of a discrepancy between these terms and conditions and those on the competition blog post, the competition blog post terms and conditions will apply. Your continued use of the competition blog post will constitute your acceptance of the new rules and/or Terms and Conditions

5.5. All intellectual property rights in the images and materials on the Website, and used in the services provided by Babysitters of Kensington & Chelsea and no person may make any use of them without Babysitters of Kensington & Chelsea’s’ express permission.

5.6  Anyone found to use multiple accounts on Twitter to enter will be ineligible.

  1. Liability and Indemnities

6.1. Except in the case of death or personal injury arising from its negligence, or in respect of fraud, and so far as is permitted by law, Babysitters of Kensington & Chelsea and its associated companies and agents and distributors exclude responsibility and all liabilities, whether direct or indirect, arising from:

6.1.1. any postponement or cancellation of the Competition;

6.1.2. any changes to, supply of or use of the Prize; and

6.1.3. any act or default of any supplier, which are beyond Babysitters of Kensington & Chelsea’s’ reasonable control.

6.2. Babysitters of Kensington & Chelsea does not accept responsibility for any liability arising from technical incompatibility, problems relating to the internet, or technical difficulties of any kind

6.3. Babysitters of Kensington & Chelsea shall not be liable, whether in tort, contract, misrepresentation or otherwise for loss of profits, loss of anticipated savings, loss of goods, loss of use, loss or corruption of data or information, or any special, indirect, consequential or pure economic loss, costs, damages, charges or expenses

6.4. You agree to indemnify Babysitters of Kensington & Chelsea against all liabilities, claims and expenses that may arise from any breach of your agreement with Kensington & Chelsea.

6.5  This competition is  in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.

6.6 By entering this competition, you agree to a complete release of Facebook from all liability in connection with this competition.

  1. Jurisdiction

7.1. The Competition and these Terms and Conditions are governed by English Law. England & Wales shall have exclusive jurisdiction to settle any dispute or claim that arises out of or in connection with these Terms and Conditions.