When I was seven months pregnant I went on a walking holiday in the Lake District (including a very poor decision to try and climb the Catbells). I walked about 10 kilometres a day and had to sit in the bath for two hours at the end of everyday just to get my feet to shrink enough to get my slippers on. I went to an all day festival in Hyde Park at eight months and punk rock gig four days before my due date. So as you can imagine I wasn’t up for endless days in the flat watching Cash in the Attic once my bundle of puke and poop arrived.
I realised early on that if I was going to make this parenting thing work, I needed to still be able to do things I enjoy. Of course it’s not always that easy. Most gig ticketing agencies don’t offer a BYOB (bring your own baby) option, the sodding sleepyhead doesn’t fit in a Toyota Yaris when it’s already full of the 20 other bags you’ve had to pack…and when you’ve got to explain to your friends that, yes you can come out for their birthday, but could you meet a bit earlier than nine? Can we meet at say…five? Oh, and can we bring our kid?
What makes life even more fun is that we live in Bristol. Alex’s parents live in Swansea, and mine live in Nottingham. So getting a free babysitter for more than a hour involves calender management, motorway travel and toll bridges.
This blog is mine and my family’s attempts to get out and about. Come along as we attempt everything from a simple trip to ASDA, a social life beyond “Rhyme Time”, wandering under the trees…and being those people on the plane.
I’m excellent at planning holidays. I research all the best cafes, attractions that others miss, and everything is planned to make sure we get the most out of our trip. Everything was perfect for our trip to Seville. I had our itinerary ready, I’d called Superdrug and organised to pick up all of his milk for the trip after airport security and I’d even managed to get a bunch of ready made organic baby food dirt cheap in the Aldi baby event. We were all set. As our previous trip to Edinburgh had been a breeze I was feeling relaxed and confident about going abroad for the first time. And then, the day before we were due to fly, Ivor refuses to eat his lunch. And I don’t mean he was being a bit fussy, he absolutely refused it. Even my NCT friends Lucy and Zoey mentioned how this so wasn’t like him…and so it began…
Before I left my friends that day, Ivor did the most awful crap he’s ever done. It was huge, watery, dark, dark brown and smelled how I imagine a three day old dead badger would smell. Maybe this was why he didn’t want to eat? Maybe he just had a dicky tummy I told myself. Three hours later he vomited all over his playpen. It was one of those things right? Babies throw up now and again. Except Ivor doesn’t, and I was in denial.
I don’t want to go into too much detail on the poop, because you all know…I think it’s enough to say it was runny, the colour of egg yolk and there was a RIVER of it flying out of Ivors arsehole once an hour. On the way to my parent’s house in the East Midlands (from where we were flying) Ivor wore:
A vest grow
A pairs of summer shorts
A 0.5 tog grobag
We were taking no chances with our newly acquired £300 baby car seat.
The vomiting had subsided on the day we were due to travel and all we had to do was deal with the diarrhea. Not so bad right? Well, yeah, but by this time I was feeling like crap and was in bed with nausea and Alex was left to deal with it on his own. By the time we got to the airport and boarded the plane (two exploding nappies and two changes of clothes later) Alex also turned grey and muttered “I’m just going to the toilet for a second” before bounding out of his seat faster than I’ve ever seen that man move. Ivor was once again wearing as many layers as we could safely put on him for the journey in the hope we wouldn’t have to deal with a poo on the plane. And by some effing miracle he didn’t vomit or poop! No. He was saving his grand finale…
We got off the plane hardly believing our luck and decided to stop the check his nappy before we picked up our bags. Other than a small bit of poop he was clear and we got him back dressed and proceeded to pick up our bags. Then I caught his face in the bathroom mirror as I was about to leave the cubicle. It went from green to grey to vomit pouring out of him like a waterfall. All over him, all over the bathroom, all over me. There was SO. MUCH. VOMIT. To anyone that is yet to see their baby vomit so violently it projects out of their nose, it is a sight that will fill you with horror and will be etched in your memory for the rest of your life. The look on my husband’s face as he watched this happen will also never leave me. The only other time I’ve seen him look that horrified is when he thought I was going to be swept out to sea as a giant wave rose above the back of a boat I was steering on an I’ll advised sailing trip in bad weather a few years earlier. By the time we had all changed clothes everyone else on our flight had left and our three bags were sadly going round by themselves on the carousel. Thank fuck our taxi driver waited for us. We smiled and said “hola” and prayed to God, Allah, Shiva and Thor that we didn’t have to pay the €60 soiling charge.
Luckily neither of us actually threw up at any point, and it made the first day of our holiday extremely cheap, with neither of us wanting to eat or drink alcohol. On the first three days of our holiday, stopping for food or a drink was a military operation. First, one of us would check out the toilets to make sure, they were suitable for changing a baby with diarrhea…and in old Andalasia that was a mission in itself. Then we would order drinks for us. Ivor would then get his milk and maybe a bit of food (he was refusing all food except Mamia strawberry and apple pouches). We would then wait at the table for 15-20 minutes for the inevitable Ppppppppppptttttttthhhhhhhh!!!!! noise in his trousers and run to the changing room.
I have never, NEVER been so grateful for a washing machine. If we had booked a hotel instead of an Airbnb I have no idea how we would have coped with the filthy outfit pile Ivor managed to create every single day. (He was wearing a double nappy all day and was still dirtying at least 2-4 outfits a day. If I’d had to use a hotel laundry room, or go baby clothes shopping I might’ve just given up. Self catering saved our friggin holiday, it really did. And another thing….no matter what, always book accommodation close by. Don’t be lured into booking an apartment a bus ride away from the city or resort because it’s a bargain. Because if your baby or toddler gets the fucking shits, I’m telling you, being able to pop home, drop off the three poo stained pairs of trouser in your handbag and just slump on the sofa for twenty minutes to recover is an absolute godsend.
Luckily by day two, Alex and I both felt okay again, and Ivor, bless his heart is the most “determined to be happy” baby ever. If he felt anything like I did on the day we travelled he must’ve been really struggling and yet he hardly showed it. He barely cried or got upset and just slept in his pushchair and enjoyed the ride around Seville.
So what words of wisdom do I now have for anyone going on holiday with a baby or toddler?
1. It doesn’t matter how “well” your baby normally is. They will get ill before you travel. Be prepared for this and be pleasantly surprised if they are okay. It’s a far safer mindset to have.
2. No matter what, make sure you have easy access to a washing machine where you are staying and stay as close to where you are visiting as possible. If you need to get on a bus, it’s too far away.
3. Pack the clothes you think you need, then pack a third more.
4. Research what baby change facilities are like where you are going. We were very surprised to find many cafes and restaurants in Seville had absolutely no facilities at all and we did a number of changes on toilet cubicle floors. I had just assumed it would be the same as the UK.
5. As part of your babies food packing, take something bland like plain porridge. Even if they don’t normally eat it. When they get sick, you need something that won’t upset their stomachs and it’s a gamble trying to fine something suitable in local stores abroad.
Great For: Coffee and cake with young children. Quieter than Costa and plenty of room for prams and strollers.
The Good: Great coffee, cake and biscuits. Really friendly, helpful staff.
The Bad: Changing facilities were a bit haphazard. A couple of steps at the entrance, but not too difficult and staff will help if you ask.
Food and Drink: The coffee at Spire Cafe is good quality and strong. You can order the usual americanos, lattes and cappuccinos and they cost about £2.40 a cup. There is an array of frut teas available as well as your standard English breakfast. I had a great piece of lemon cake when I visited and the ginger biscuits were yummy.
It’s a small cafe so there will be different treats on offer whenever you visit. Dont expect lots of choice. The cafe has a small counter so there are normally only a few options available. They are due to increase their opening hours from 1pm to 4:30pm so this may see an increase in the selection available.
Facilities and Ambiance: The cafe is set to the side in one of the most beautiful churches in Bristol. What’s not to like? The views are stunning and there is calming music playing over the PA system fitting with the surroundings. There is a good selection of toys and books available to keep babies and toddlers amused. Ivor, Evelyn, Daisy and Bohdi pretty much left us Mummy’s alone the entire time we were there! There is plenty of seating available with space for prams and strollers. The cafe has two IKEA high chairs available for customers to use as well as splash mats to help keep everything clean and tidy.
The baby change is located in the toilets. There was a basket of supplies available which was a nice touch and the set up was basic, but clean. It’s a shame that when I visited there were a few tables and chairs stacked up against it, and a pile of bin bags on the window sill…which didn’t prevent it being used, but it was just a bit untidy and the chairs could have easily become a trip hazard. Hopefully it was a short term issue and won’t be like it next time.
Staff and Service: The cafe is normally staffed by one or two people. They are extremely friendly a helpful and will carry your order to the table so you can concentrate on your children. They engaged with our babies andade everyone feel really welcome and proactively told us about the extended opening hours that were due to start the following week. They also held open doors and helped with steps as we were leaving.
Christ Church cafe is a hidden gem just outside of Clifton village. If a chilled out, affordable coffee is what you’re after, you’re definitely in the right place.
Address: Christ Church, Clifton Down Road, Bristol Bs83BN
Good For: Groups and parties. Simple pub-style food in a grand setting. A special occasion with baby in tow.
The Good: A large menu that pleases everyone. Great “busy” atmosphere that drowns out baby cries and children’s chatter. Good changing facilities.
The Bad: A couple of steps to contend with. Food was a bit too salty/oily for some.
Food and Drink: I think the menu is best described as “good pub grub” with a tapas menu tagged on the side. There is also a dedicated vegan menu, but you may have to ask for it. I heard a waiter offer it to a party whilst we were waiting to be seated, but our waiter never did…It’s not gastro pub quality, but it’s well presented and portion sizes are good. Everyone made “mmmmm” noises as there food was put in front of them. We all ate from the regular menu rather than tapas on this occasion. The fish and chips was huge, and the fish was well cooked and the batter was crispy, not slimy. The mushy peas however were too salty, to the point where I could barely taste the peas which was a shame. Alex’s burger disappeared quickly and he was extremely happy with it. Large slices of tomato and avocado and well seasoned bacon. My Dad’s chicken and bacon salad was also very tasty, but he did say that it was quite oily so might not be to everyone’s taste. The fish pie, accompanied with a poached egg was again, described as tasty and filling, but Mum said the sauce was a little on the runny side. Overall, we all enjoyed our meals and felt they were worth the money, but there were little things that could’ve been improved.
Most meals came in between £10-16, with a few of the steak and fish dishes being slightly more. All children’s main meals are £5.95. You can view the whole menu, including children’s options here.
Facilities and Ambiance: Cosy Club, in my opinion has a great, lovely atmosphere, but it might not be to everyone’s taste. There is music playing, at a slightly higher than normal for a restaurant volume for a start. For kids, this is great, along with the general racket created by diners, babies crying and louder children are drowned out, meaning no embarrassment for Mums and Dads and you don’t feel like you’re disturbing others. The restaurant has a sort of posh shabby chic vibe with assorted distressed tables and chairs on one hand and grand chandeliers and high vaulted glass domed ceilings on the other.
There is just enough room between the tables to navigate a travel system to the back of the restaurant. You’ll have no problems with a lighter stroller. There are a couple of steps to contend with but they’re quite easy to navigate with help from a second person. We didn’t need to, but the staff would’ve been more than obliging I’d you had asked for help.
The highchairs are the standard wooden variety, which Ivor hates, so we used our Phil and Ted’s Lobster. If you do plan to use a lobster or similar device, be aware it won’t work on all tables, so make sure you ask for a table with a large lip at the end. You could easily use most booster seats or cloth toddler seats at Cosy Club. They had quite a few highchairs, but it is a big restaurant so it’s worth calling in advance to make sure you get one.
Tip: A large proportion of the restaurant is up a flight of stairs. Call and request a table on the ground floor if you’re taking a stroller.
Changing facilities were clean, spacious and well equipped. There was both a pad and a strap for the changing station. It’s located in the disabled toilet at the front of the restaurant.
Staff and Service: Service was great. Staff were polite and friendly without being overbearing and asked regularly if we required more drinks and checked up that we were enjoying our meals. We weren’t rushed for the bill and we’re allowed to take our time to leave. Rather than having a dedicated waiter, staff shared the duties, so it feels a little impersonal…but on the whole it’s hard to complain when everything was so friendly and punctual.
A little expensive for a quick lunch out, but great for a more special occasion with kids in tow and perfect for a larger group who have different tastes in food. Almost everyone is going to find something they enjoy. We already have another table booked for a family party in a couple of weeks.
Good For:Coffee and cake with friends, brunch. Can facilitate largergroups and lots of stroller space.
The Good: Great coffee and cake. Lots of outside seating. A large toy box. Lots of tables and an extensive menu.
The Bad: A few steps to contend with. Lone laptop users hogging tables. Only one baby change room located in a busy part of the cafe.
Food and Drink: Whether you’re there for a quick coffee and cake, breakfast, brunch or lunch, Boston Tea Party have it covered. The portions are a good size and all meals are less than £10. The brunch menu is particularly good, and kept me full until dinner time. The cakes are scrummy and there is always a huge selection to choose from at the counter. There is a wide variety of drinks available from a simple lemonade, the usual array of coffees and teas, to the downright hipster white chocolate and avocado milkshake. There is also a dedicated kid’s menu. The whole menu is available all day and can be downloaded here.
Staff and Service: The staff are always really friendly and helpful. Despite there being a few steps to deal with in the cafe, there are plenty of staff on duty and they always offer to help you with your stroller. Service has always been quick, efficient and with a smile when I’ve visited. You have to order at the counter, which can be tricky with kids if you’re the only adult as you don’t know what tables are free, and you can’t leave the kids at the table alone as you can’t see the seating area from the counter… always go in twos or more! It’s always quite busy, especially between 12pm and 2pm, so expect to wait up to five minutes to be served sometimes.
Facilities and Ambiance: My biggest bug bear at Boston Tea Party is laptop users, with nothing but a single white chocolate avocado milkshake hogging tables that could be used by a family. There is a large communal table in the centre of the cafe, and I wish Boston Tea Party would do more to get laptop users or single diners to sit here during the lunch time rush when it can be difficult to find a table with space for pushchairs. A few signs up around the place, and staff politely asking users wouldn’t cause much offence and I’m sure most people would understand and be willing to move if it was pointed out to them.
The large communal table, that could be better used by laptop users
Boston Tea Party stock the standard wooden high chairs, which are great for older children, but not always for smaller babies who’ve just started weaning. Take a blanket or cushion to pop behind them. If you have your own booster seat or a Lobster style chair, your little one might be more comfortable in it. A cloth chair restraint would fit fine on most of the chairs, but won’t work if the only seating available is in one of the booths. There are plenty of highchairs available, even when the cafe is busy and they are kept clean by staff.
The changing facilities are good, and the table is at a good height and has a safety strap. It’s located in the disabled toilet and there is plenty of room for two of you and the buggy. However it is a large cafe and only one baby changing unit, and on my last visit I had to wait up to ten minutes to use it. It’s also located right by the front door, as is the counter, so there is little room to wait if the counter is busy, and you’ll spend the entire time explaining to people that you’re waiting for the bathroom, and not in the queue. You can get your other half or a friend to wait outside with the stroller, but when we last went it was raining quite hard so we felt quite in the way when people were trying to order.
Tip: Don’t wait until your leaving to use the baby change. It’s much easier if you don’t have a bulky stroller with you.
There is a large toy box located at the far end of the cafe with everything from rattles to transformers to keep the kids entertained. At busy times they can end up scattered around so may have to rescue something from a previously used table and give it a wipe down. There’s a small playmat for older, more independent children. It feels very welcoming for children with the pictures children have coloured in on the walls.
Tip: Sit near the toy box at the far end of the cafe. If you use the side door to enter, it brings you straight to this area and you can avoid any steps.
Boston Tea Party Gloucester Road is a great place for kids overall. It’s affordable and friendly and there’s something on the menu for everyone.
IKEA doesn’t always conjour the fondest of memories for most couples. Its taken you fifteen minutes to find a car parking space. You’re stuck in their one way system and you really need the toilet. There are trolleys and yellow tarpaulin bags everywhere, you’ve nearly slipped on one of those tiny pencils twice, and you’re not even sure what you came for anymore. You leave with a cabinet that is 50/50 going to fit in car, two rubber ice trays and a plant that will be dead by Thursday. Could this Swedish bank holiday nightmare really be a great place to take a baby? We visited IKEA Bristol with Ivor’s friends Daisy and Evelyn to find out.
The most important thing when choosing a place to take a baby let’s face it, is the cafe, so let’s start there. Before you even enter the cafe there are signs welcoming you to breastfeed anywhere in the store. IKEA also has private spaces for you to nurse if you prefer too. If you are bottle feeding there are bottle warmers available for you to use, as well as microwave for heating food. The highchairs are the fantastic IKEA Antilop chairs, which are kept immaculate by staff, even on a busy day. If you prefer to use your own travel chair, the tables are compatible with a bolt-on chair like the Phil & Ted’s Lobster, and most booster seats will work well. However IKEA’s chairs have quite a large space between the seat and the back rest, so a younger child might have trouble using the cloth style travel baby seats.
Food at IKEA is extremely affordable, with most meals coming in under £5, often around the £3.50 mark. Even better than that coffee is only £1.50 (with refills), and only 50p with an IKEA family card. Kids meals are around £1.50 so a real bargain. If you’re taking a baby, not only do you get a free baby food pouch with every adult meal purchased, but you also get cups, bowls, cutlery and bibs provided!!! There is also a play area for older children and parents can keep a close eye by sitting on the bar style seating around it.
Tip: Get an IKEA Family card, not only does it give you discounts on IKEA goods, you get free insurance for breakages on the way home, and reduces the price of a coffee to 50p. It costs nothing to sign up.
Changing facilities are provided in private cubicles, and they were very clean and tidy. My only comment is that there is not enough of them for the number of visitors to the store, so even when the shop isn’t too busy, you might find you have a bit of a wait for a free cubicle. If you’re going at the weekend, pack your portable changing mat so you can do on the floor of the main toilets if necessary. The changing table is at a good height and has a safety strap so you can pee without having to put your baby down on the toilet floor. The hand dryers while efficient, are extremely loud, and Ivor got extremely upset when I accidentally set it off so beware…
The cafe is so large and well equipped that it’s a good place to bring a baby for lunch even if you have no shopping to do…but with such a great baby and child range, we of course took a wander around the store. Trust me, it’s a far more enjoyable experience when you’re not there to actually buy anything in particular!
Babies seem to love the trip around IKEA. It must be something to do with the ever changing scenery, but all three of them were perfectly behaved all the way around. Ivor didn’t even get stroppy when his buggy was stationary.
Tip: Use your buggy clips to hang a bag from your stroller for hands free shopping
Once we got to the toy section they all had a great time! There are so many soft toys to amuse them, and IKEA do a fantastic range of wooden toys that are much more aesthetically pleasing than the gaudy plastic versions you get elsewhere. We were all particularly impressed with the IKEA play kitchen, which I think Evelyn will definitely own in a few years time.
We all picked up some waterproof bibs, that start at as little as £2 for two. I also got some beaker cups for £2.50. it’s really is a great place to stock up on weaning essentials.
The range of baby and child furniture is also vast, with everything from cots, bunk beds, wardrobes and toy storage. We are fans of the STUVA bedroom furniture range which is affordable, modern and customisable.
In total we spent almost four hours at IKEA, and spent £25 in total (including food and everything I bought in the kids section). In terms of a day out it’s excellent value for money. As your kids get older, you can even benefit from the soft play area that available for those 3 and over meaning you can have your coffee in peace!
We will definitely be heading back IKEA in the future… And whilst Evelyn and Ivor had to make do with thier bibs and a dinosaur hand puppet this time, Daisy did a little better and went home with a brand new POÄNG chair.
We took a trip from Ivor’s grandparent’s house in Swansea on Easter Saturday in the afternoon. Parking is a bit thin on the ground with a small car park for about ten cars and then street parking. We did manage to park with no problems in a people carrier, but you may struggle if you go on a really nice day in the summer holidays. The site isn’t very big though, and I’d say most visitors will spend about an hour here, so parking spaces will come available frequently enough even on busy days.
Entry is (including gift aid) £6.50 for an adult and £3.25 for a child. A family pass can also be purchased for £16.25. Entry is free for National Trust members.
The National Trust Easter Egg hunt was taking place when we visited, and whilst Ivor was too young to take part, my husband wasn’t too old. There were clues dotted around the attraction, including what I thought was a great one where you had to pick through a bin of plastic bottles that had been fished out of the water, making visitors pause to think about plastic pollution.
The site has clear paths. We went after two days of rain and it wasn’t at all muddy. If you are visiting with a baby I recommend taking the sling and leave the buggy at home as there are steps up to the top of the watermill and back down again. There is lift access for wheelchair users which you can use though if you need to take a stroller. The waterfalls are beautiful and there are great viewing station platforms at the bottom and top of the watermill for you to admire them and provide a good photo op.
The watermill is very impressive, in full working order and there is plenty of information dotted around to tell you more about it.
Tip: Don’t miss the opportunity to venture underneath and see the water running down the wall…you can get a bit wet though!
It’s definitely worth popping in the small tin works exhibition to learn more about the history and notable people of the site and this previously industrial area. Your kids will be bored, but it only takes five to ten minutes tops!
There is a small tea rooms back near the entrance/exit which do the usual National Trust menu of cakes, scones, coffee and sandwiches. Whilst dogs are welcome onsite, they’re not allowed allowed in the tea rooms. There are tables outside, including some under a canopy that they are welcome at if it’s raining. There is also a small shop selling the usual National Trust hodgepodge of books, scarves, jam and garden ornaments. We got a lovely nature sticker book for £4.99 for my nephew’s birthday. Toilets are also located at the entrance/exit, along with baby changing which is located in the disabled loo.
Tip: Sit outside the cafe if it’s nice and the kids can play with the traditional maypole whilst you relax with your coffee.
Aberdulais falls is an interesting attraction, with enough to entertain your kids for an hour or two (maximum). If you want to extend the day, I recommend pairing it with a trip to the nearby National Showcaves Centre for Wales
No doubt you’ll be getting creative with your toddlers and older children, making Easter bonnets or other activities like the ones you can find here on Out and About Mummy’s page. But how much effort do you really want to go to for your baby? Sure, you want them to look cute when you take them out this Easter, but is it really worth getting out the glue and glitter? And what about spending ten quid for a rabbit hat from John Lewis for the sake of a weekend?
I designed this pattern to be as simple and quick as possible. It took me less than an hour to complete and it’s suitable for beginners.
The given size is for a newborn to three months, but I have included instructions for increasing the size of the hat for a older baby.
What Do I Need: Use any yellow and orange DK wool you have lying around. You will also need some black yarn, or two black buttons (for eyes), a darning needle, and a 5mm crochet hook.
This pattern uses UK terminology Abbreviations: ch – chain sl st – slip stitch SC – single crochet
HTC – half treble crochet (HDC U.S) TC – treble crochet(DC U.S)
Make a magic loop and ch 2.
Round 1:make 10 TC in the loop, join with a sl st to the top of your first TC and chain 2. Round 2:2 TC in each stitch around, join with a sl st to the top of the first TC, chain 2 (20 TC) Round 3:2 TC in the first stitch, TC in the next stitch, repeat around, join with a sl st to the top of the first TC, chain 2 (30 TC) Round 4:2 TC in the first stitch, 1 TC in the next 4 stitches, repeat around, join with a sl st to the top of your first TC, chain 2 (36 TC) Round 5:2 TC in the first stitch, 1 TC in the next 5 stitches, repeat around, join with a sl st to the top of your first TC, chain 2 (42 TC)
……To make a larger hat for an older baby continue to make the hat larger following the following pattern until it fits.
2 TC in the first stitch, 1 TC in the next 6 stitches, then 7 stitches (on the next row), then 8 stitches, then 9 etc
Try the hat on your baby after each round to get a good fit……
Rounds 6-9:1 TC in each stitch around, join with a sl st to the top of your first TC.
……Make more rows as 6-9 if required for a larger hat…..
Feather:Chain 10 and make a loop by joining with a sl st in the first chain, chain 10 again and join in the first chain with a sl st, chain 10 and join with a sl st in the first chain, tie off, but leave enough wool to sew the feather to the top of the hat.
Beak:Chain 10 and turn. Row 1: Starting in the second chain from the hook do 1 HTC in each of the next 8 chain stitches. Chain 1 and turn. Row 2: 1 HTC in the next 8 stitches, chain 1 and turn. Repeat rows one and two until you have a square.
Fold the square in half to make the beak shape and sew along the fold. Sew to the hat two to three rows from the bottom of the hat depending on your preference.
Eyes: Either use two black buttons if you have them or use some black yarn to sew two black eyes roughly one to two rows above the beak.
Great For: Casual dinner, all day breakfast (until 5pm). A great Sunday lunch.
The Good: Prices are reasonable, daily offers and toys provided. Dogs are also welcome.
The Bad: Can’t book.
Food and Drink: Prices are reasonable with most main meals coming in between £8 – £10. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all catered for. Breakfast is served until 5pm and lunch is available from 12pm until closing so there is always plenty of choice on offer depending on how hungry you are. The Sunday lunches are excellent and they serve both a veggie and vegan option. Portions are a generally spot on and the food has always been really tasty. The social have daily offers so you can always get a bargain if you go on the right day. There is also a kids menu that you can find on thier Facebook page.
Ambiance and Facilities: The Social is a wine bar / cafe/ pub hybrid with a relaxed atmosphere, even when busy. The walls are decorated in murals and art from local artists.
Highchairs are provided, as is a box of toys that caters mainly for babies and toddlers. Changing facilities are basic but clean. They’re located in the disabled toilet so there is plenty of space. There’s no strap on the changing table so keep a close eye on any rollers.
Top Tip: Snag table 13 if you can. It’s right next to the cabinet that contains the toy box, and close to the toilets. You can use the top of the cabinet to place all your baby crap like bottles, food, blankets etc.
Staff and Service: The waiting staff are predominantly bar staff, so don’t go expecting high etiquette standards. They will pass you your food if you’re on the far side of the table rather than serve from the left, and you have to pick up your own cutlery and condiments from the bar. You order at the bar and food is then brought to your table. Service has always been efficient and friendly when I’ve eaten here whether it be brunch or dinner. The staff will bring water for your pooch and stop for a quick cuddle and a chat. They’re also very friendly towards babies and children.
Great For: Meet ups with friends, a decent cup of coffee or a quick baby friendly lunch spot around Bristol harbourside.
The Good: Baby facilities, coffee and lots of space.
The Bad: Mediocre food reviews from our group.
Food and Drink: The cafe has both a breakfast and lunch menu. Breakfast is continental in style, so no full english on offer. A range of porridge, waffles and muffins ranging from a few quid to around £8. The lunch menu consists of wraps, salads and sandwiches, all of which are served quite quickly. The soup of the day is a bargain at £3.95 and was extremely tasty. The salads received mediocre reviews from my NCT group, with the overall opinion that they looked better than they tasted. Don’t be fooled by the £8 “pizza flats”. From this description I was expecting a smallish flatbread and what I got was a twelve inch pizza! If I’d known I probably would’ve asked a friend if they wanted to share. It was a perfectly pleasant pizza, and I had no complaints, but it was nothing out of this world.
The coffee is good, not to strong or too weak. A large is a regular mug size so unless you’re feeling particularly parisian or you’re already rattling from your morning cuppa I wouldn’t bother with the small ones. Prices are typical coffee and tea prices that you pay everywhere. There are a range of cold drinks available as well.
Ambiance and Facilities: The cafe is huge, so unless you’re polling up at lunch time on a Saturday you’re likely to get a spot. The cafe was very clean and there wasn’t an issue with rubbish left on empty tables from previous diners. It’s modern and colourful and an enjoyable place to sit and chat for a few hours.
Baby changing is located within the toilets at the far end of the cafe, which are unisex, so men can also change the baby, Hurrah! The toilets were clean and stocked with toilet paper and paper towels. Beware the school groups though…if a class of 25 line up to use the loos you’re in for long wait to get that nappy changed as there are only two toilets. They’re quite small cubicles so you can’t wheel in the stroller with you either…leave it at the table and carry them.
The cafe has a microwave and bottle warming station available for customers to use which were both clean when I used them. The cafe have a good supply of IKEA highchairs.
Staff and Service: You order at the counter and are given a number to take to your table so the waiting staff can find you. Coffee is left on the side of the bar for you to collect yourself when it is ready.
The staff are friendly and welcoming and were happy to substitute pizza options to accommodate my pescatarian diet. Service was quick and efficient, although I haven’t been at a weekend when you may experience a longer wait.
Ivor loves a push in his travel system, but even after all the months of research, our fantastic Kinderkraft Moov needed a bit of pimping. Here are ten items that will make trips out with the pram easier.
1. Stroller organiser
I didn’t get one of these until three months in. I had a smallish baby bag that came with my stroller so I used to just use that. I can’t tell you how much easier a stroller organiser made things. When all you need is a muslin it’s really annoying having to open a bag and route through it. Everything ends up jumbled around and the thing you want always, always, always ends up at the bottom. The stroller organiser is perfect for a short trip out, where all you need is one nappy change and a feed. On longer trips I pop the things I’m most likely to need quickly, like muslins and baby wipes (I use Cheeky Wipes reusables). It’s also a handy place to pop a drink, your house keys and purse whilst you’re out for easy access whilst shopping (just don’t leave the buggy unattended!). Ours is a simple one from Ana Wiz that cost less than £15.
2. Buggy clips
I use mine to hold my bag for life so I’ve always got it, and I often use them to hold the dog’s lead when I’m taking him a walk. But they are absolutely necessary if you’re planning to do solo shopping trips with baby. Even if you’re buggy has a great storage basket like mine does, they can only hold so much. I like the kind pictured above. I tried the ones that are basically a camping clip, but they were always falling down the sides of the buggy, and they were really clunky. The ones with velcro straps hold in place much better. I’d also recommend getting clips that fully close, as opposed to ones that have a hook. They just keep thinks more secure.
3. The Rockit
This great little device retails at around £40 and has been a godsend with Ivor, a baby who loves the buggy as long as it’s moving, and will scream a hail mary the second it stops. The Rockit takes four AA batteries and at one click of a button vibrates, which in turn rocks your buggy! You can also increase the intensity of the rocking to suit your baby. It’s most useful when Ivor has fallen asleep. If I get home I pop The Rockit on and get on with boring grown up stuff. I’ve also had an entire coffee and cake date with friends whilst The Rockit fooled Ivor into thinking we were still tredding the streets. It’s less successful if Ivor is awake, but it still works long enough to stop him from losing his shit at a red light. I highly recommend The Rockit if you have a stationary stroller hating baby, or if you just want to extend that nap once you’re back home.
4. A sensory toy
As he got older, Ivor soon got bored with a simple toy. I recommend getting something large with lots of different sensory materials like the Eric Carle Hungry Caterpillar toy. Lamaze do a great range of stroller toys too.
5. A phone holder
Yes, in a perfect world we would not look at our phones while pushing our precious bundles around. But back in the real world, I’m trying to find the baby sensory scout hut I’ve never bloody heard of and it’s really annoying having to stop to get my phone out every five minutes to check Google Maps. I can text someone to tell them I’m running late without having to wrestle my phone out of my pocket and have a conversation with my husband about whether we need milk or bread bringing home via speakerphone without having to stop and block the pavement. Order one that’s meant for a bike, they’re cheaper than the ones made for strollers, despite being exactly the bloody same.
6. A smash proof phone case
This item should be on any baby list. Insurance excess for a top end phone will be at least £70 a pop and don’t kid yourself, you are not getting through this experience without a breakage or two. A good quality, baby and toddler proof phone case doesn’t come cheap, but if it prevents your darling vandal breaking your phone just once, it will have more than paid for itself. I use the Otterbox Defender series. Prices range from around £50 down to £25 depending on your phone make and model. And baby aside, as a mother out and about, you will drop your phone. It will fall out of your hands, darling vandal will knock it off the table in Costa, and if you’re a complete moron like me, you’ll drop it down a whole flight of stairs on your way into Tiny Talk. Whilst the Otterbox isn’t 100% waterproof (You’ll need to spend considerably more for one that is), after its drop down the stairwell it didn’t have a scratch on it.
7. A bluetooth speaker
A lot like The Rockit, you can live without it, but you really shouldn’t. Sometimes, babies are just gits. And they will scream and scream just because. And when you’re ten minutes from home, and you really don’t want to have to stop and pay £2.90 for a Chai Latte just so you can change or feed them, a speaker comes in handy. When Ivor starts whinging, I pop on his favourite songs (I highly recommend the Super Simple series) and it will usually calm him down long enough for me to get him home. A couple of lullabies will get him to settle down for a nap when he’s fighting sleep. I got my baby-safe speaker as a gift from someone who bought it abroad, but any bluetooth speaker that can be clipped to the pram can work, as long you don’t let baby gnaw on it if it isn’t baby-safe. Make sure you buy a waterproof one in case of showers!
8. Thermal travel bag
If you’re bottle feeding they’re great for keeping water hot or cold so you can make up the perfect bottle when you’re out. We use the Tommee Tippee ones, but check your bottles will fit whichever ones you chose to buy. They’re great if you’re just popping out for an hour or two as you can strap them to the stroller and leave the hefty travel bag at home.
9. Safety strap
This came free with my buggy clips and I honestly had no idea what the hell it was… But I’ve actually grown to quite like it. It straps onto the handle of your stroller and you just pop your wrist through the loop, meaning if you need to suddenly go hands free for a second your baby isn’t going anywhere.
10. Linking rings
They cost just a few quid and are brilliant. We use them all the time at home to attach toys to things like his bouncer to play with. We also use them on the go to attach things like teethers or toys that he’s taken a particular shine to.