#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

Vicky’s Post: Everyone’s Free (to wear Sunscreen) (2 of 5)

I adore the sun. When I say I love it – I really do. I am one of those annoying people on package holidays who aim for the same sun lounger around the pool. You know, the one that gets the sun the whole entire day? No dragging my sun lounger around chasing that giant-yellow-ball-of-heat in the sky. Nope. Not me. I literally worship the sun from dawn to dusk.

BOKAC sun

Hands up if you would like to be here right now

Despite this, from the moment my daughter was born I was convinced that the big ol’ sun was evil. In my head a second of exposure to the sun would make me a terrible mother. Cue acute Mummy paranoia, copious bottles of Baby Factor 50 sunscreen and several useless parasols for the buggy, pram, car seat (delete where appropriate).

Rightly so, we all know the dangers of prolonged exposure to the sun’s harmful rays without adequate protection. However and I’m sure I’m not alone here, us Mamas would smother our kids in Factor 100 sunscreen (if we could) and more than often, completely forget about ourselves.

I have lost count how many times already this summer I have forgotten to apply sunscreen to myself and have ended up with a burnt something or another. So Mummies and Daddies, when applying the suntan cream to your precious little ones – please don’t forget yourselves!

Vicky is BOKAC’s Digital Mum in Training. You can read my recent post about her and Digital Mum’s here.

You can read Vicky’s first post ‘Summer Mama’ here

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.

Vicky’s post: Summer Mama (1 of 5)

Long lazy hazy summer nights.  Aaah I remember them well. Sipping chilled rosé wine from my plush comfortable sun lounger lapping up the very final glimpses of that glorious hot summer sun.  Designer shades on, chill out tunes playing softly in background.

Pop!

Suddenly my summer dream bubble bursts as I get showered with a spade full of play sand and thwacked in the face with a bucket. I’m still reclining but on a stained and slightly sticky picnic blanket. Instead of chilled wine I have a glass of warmed up orange squash (complete with swimming fly). No chill out tunes just the shrieks and squeals of my two-year old as she throws the contents of her sand and water tray over me.  You see since my daughter was born – Summer has been a very different experience.

So here it is – a gift from me to you.  My personal guide on how to have a happy and healthy heatwave for you and your toddler (without too many summer sacrifices).

Stay tuned for post 2 next week!

Vicky is BOKAC’s Digital Mum in Training. You can read my recent post about her and Digital Mum’s here.

Turkey! #OfficeToday

Hello latte lovers

This edition of #OfficeToday may be a little bit of a commute for some of you but boy oh boy would it be worth the journey.

Last week, I was lucky enough to be on holiday in Turkey (near Bodrum) where I enjoyed a week of sun, sea, fresh fish and way too much baklava. Towards the end of each afternoon, I would seek shade for tea and a ginger snap (you can take the girl out of England..) but I also managed to sample a latte which was a surprising hit!

BOKAC latte turkey

This one was Lavazza coffee with lots of milk and topped off with soft foam, exactly how I like my lattes. The view of the water definitely contributed but I would say it was one of the most enjoyable coffee’s i’ve ever had.

Hotel coffee has a long held reputation for being vile but they slowly seem to be recognising that people aren’t happy to drink what can only be described as bitter dishwater and a good cup of coffee is something people will write home (and on TripAdvisor) about. Next stop will be free Wi-Fi, I know we’re supposed to be on holiday but it’s the 21st Century people!

I am a social media expert

In case you don’t follow Babysitters of Kensington & Chelsea on social media, we are active on Twitter (@BabysittersofKC) Facebook (Facebook.com/BOKandC), Instagram (babysittersofkc) and Google+ (+BabysittersofKensingtonChelsea).

If you do follow us, you may have noticed that our channel content has recently shifted from disorganised, random, rambling thoughts into a slick, coherent, active entity. I would love to take credit for this but the truth is I have a secret weapon that i’d like to share with you.

Her name is Vicky and she is a Digital Mum.

BOKAC Digital mums

I first became aware of Digital Mums in February when Nikki got in touch to tell me about the programme. Their website describes it far better than I could so here is a bit about them:

“Mums are having a tough time at the moment. 1.2m mums are missing from the workplace. Another million want to work more hours. So many more struggle to fit their work around their family commitments and are fed up with their work-life balance.

Digital Mums removes these barriers by providing mums with social media management skills that allow them to set their own hours and work from anywhere. Ours is the only social media marketing training that has been designed with and for mums.

Everyone knows social media is vital for business, but thousands of SMEs and charities are struggling to use it effectively. So many could be using it to meet their business goals but they don’t know how or lack the time to do it.

Our qualified Digital Mums fix this problem. They are fully trained, have direct experience of developing and delivering strategic campaigns, and can work flexibly. Whether a business wants 20 hours a month or 20 hours a week, we have a Digital Mum to fit their needs.” 

BOKAC Digital mumI started working with Vicky in March and the experience has been absolutely amazing. She is surpassed all expectations in terms of ability and expertise (and I have pretty high standards!) and I have been flawed by her dedication, proactive attitude and creativity.

Vicky will be running a campaign for Babysitters of Kensington & Chelsea which you will hopefully become aware of over the next few weeks. She has also written a few blog posts which I will post on the this blog.

If you are a mum and would like to develop, hone or accelerate your social media skills, I certainly think it would be worth getting in touch with Digital Mums. If you’re a business and want help with social media, I would be more than happy to share Vicky!

TAP Coffee #OfficeToday

I was in a pretty tetchy mood as I stepped off the no.10 bus on Oxford Street. Despite leaving at 11.30am on a Thursday, it took over an hour to travel the 5 miles from Kensington. WHAT ARE ALL THESE PEOPLE DOING?! Why aren’t they in an office (like I probably should be..)?

Anyway, my mood was transformed as I stepped into TAP Coffee on Rathbone Place and was greeted by the two friendly barista’s. It looks exactly like what people have come to expect from trendy coffee places: Wooden benches, white walls, fast wi-fi and a selection of brownies and healthy salads on offer.

I really can't emphasise enough that photography is not my strong point (in case that's not obvious)

I really can’t emphasise enough that photography is not my strong point (in case that’s not obvious)

Being situated in Soho/Fitzrovia (there are two more branches nearby, one on Wardour Street and one just off Tottenham Court Road. I’m not quite sure what the logic was in choosing sites so close together but I’m sure it’s working) the conversations I was eavesdropping on were from a lot of PR/Media types talking about impending trips to LA and recent colleague engagements.

My latte was delicious – rich, smooth and the perfect temperature (‘proper’ coffee drinkers seem to think coffee should be served warm rather than hot which I vehemently disagree with). I didn’t have anything to eat and most of the people seemed to be sipping on coffees rather than having lunch but the food did look delicious.

I was able to while away an hour clearing out my inbox (I have full-blown inbox OCD which is not at all conducive to running a successful business), tweaking my summer marketing plan and typing up this post. Lovely!

If I wasn’t trying to work my way through the best coffee shops London has to offer, I would definitely be back next week.

  • Coffee: 8/10
  • Ambience: 8/10
  • Price: 8/10
  • Good place to work: 9/10
  • Overall: 8/10

Mouse Straker – Blend and Bake

Today we’re shining the spotlight on Mouse Straker who has been registered with BOKAC since January 2015. Outside of her wonderful babysitting work, she runs a baking company called Blend and Bake.

We asked Mouse to tell us a little more about Blend and Bake and how she got started:

Blend and Bake

“I have always been passionate about food, and knew I wanted to carve a career in the industry whilst studying at The Grange Cooking School in Somerset. I continued my studies with a diploma at Leith’s school of food and wine and was privileged to be offered a job working with the team.

I have worked for a number of high-end catering companies, shooting lodges and luxury resorts across the globe. During my experiences, I realised that my real interest and talent lay in the cake industry. I love the delicate, intricate skills needed to make cakes, along with pushing the boundaries to create something unique.

I went on to gain a PME masters in the art of sugar craft and cake decoration and have worked alongside Eric Landlard at Cake Boy. Eric taught me a great deal and I had a huge amount of fun learning and working with him. However I had always wanted to work for myself so took on the challenge and created Blend & Bake.

Blend and Bake 2

At Blend and Bake we pride ourselves in offering delicious, unique cakes that make a statement. We are a fun talented team who love baking, designing and pushing boundary’s to create new and innovative cakes to suit every occasion. All of our cakes are made with the freshest ingredients to make sure they taste as good as they look.

Recently, due to popular demand we have started branching out to sell our products in food markets across London, as well as exhibiting at some of the famous cake shows up and down the country. Every day we are creating and trialling new ideas, our most recent product being the ‘Mug Cake’, these have been a huge hit and top seller at the markets. We get so much pleasure out of what we do and this is reflected with our customer’s reactions when they see their cake for the first time.

Blend and Bake 3

Although Blend and Bake is my main business I also do a lot of freelance catering for clients as well. This ranges from children’s parties, freezer filling to full blown dinner or cocktail parties.”

088

Mini Yorkshire puddings with rare roast beef and horseradish

So if you are looking for a cake for a special occasion or can’t face cooking a new meal every night, get in touch with Mouse at Info@blendandbake.com.