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Harrods have birthdays all wrapped up, says Sarah Hall

Bibbidy Bobbidy Boutique is every little girl’s dream come true: Aspiring princesses are assigned a fairy godmother who walks them through the corridors of a grand, fairy-tail castle to the magnificent, Disney-inspired boutique, where pink velvet chairs, ornate gold mirrors and elaborate chandeliers complete the picture. Here after, a team of extremely attentive ‘maids-in-waiting’ begin the royal transformation, which includes full princess hair (think curls, roses, tiara), princess nails and sparkly make-up. Then on to the Royal Chamber where a beautiful gown and full length mirrors await. All that remains is the throne, on which fully fledged princesses take a special oath to behave in a courteous and gentle manner from that day forward (finger’s and toes crossed!) I can’t vouch for ‘happily ever after’, but it will certainly grant you angelic and content until bedtime. Check out the ‘knight’ package for little gents.



A great Sunday find

I love an unusual bit of furniture so I am pleased as punch to have found the well-curated kids stuff at Rowen & Wren , clearly very sensible people as they believe that ‘style shouldn’t be a child free zone’.

We’re ordering a baa baa book shelf, one each, lovely.

Could this be the coolest kids’ club in Europe?


Say what you like about Marbella (No carbs before Marbs… A sunny place for shady people), there’s one thing you don’t want to miss when you’re in the area with little ones. 

The staunch glam hangout of locals, ex-pats and tourists alike, the Marbella Club Hotel has given over one of its best villas – formerly the private summer-house of Prince Alfonso von Hohenlohe – to create a superlative kids’ club that frankly, knocks the socks off any I’ve seen before. 

Ok, the palette of bleached wood and grey makes it feel like a miniature Daylesford, but beyond the extraordinarily cool design (courtesy of Minimec) the activities and staff make the club not only a guilt-free treat for parents but a truly magical hangout for the kids. Cooking classes in the open kitchen teach children the entire process from planting to plate, using ingredients grown in the kids club vegetable and herb garden before they sit down to a lunch they have created (‘It was delicious Mummy, much better than your pasta’). 

Children can create their own perfumes in the Aroma workshop, learn flamenco, get creative in an art class or meet eagles and owls during a visit from a local handler. They can chill out in the library, get messy in the pottery room or bang around in the courtyard, dipping their toes in the lagoon.

Light, breezy, stylish, engaging, playful and creative, the problem will not be getting enough children into the club, but keeping the parents out.

Garlic Prawns & Californian Chopped Salad


Hungry just reading this from super-mum and accomplished cook at the buckwheat adventure…

Originally posted on The Buckwheat Adventure:

Lettuce is like conversation: it must be fresh and crisp, and so sparkling that you scarcely notice the bitter in it.” – Charles Dudley Warner (1871)

I spend a fair amount of time, particularly during the British winter, daydreaming about how my life would be if I lived in California. Conclusion? It’d be 52 kinds of awesome. I’d go everywhere in my gym kit, carrying my eco-friendly glass water bottle and a yoga mat under my arm, flashing my amazing veneers at everybody and never actually going to the gym. I would get my kale & beetroot juice next to Julianne Moore every day and marvel at her hair close up.

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How to nurture creative little minds

I’m researching for a piece I’m writing on kids design in Country & Town House Magazine and have trawled my favourite blogs. Lo and behold I’ve stumbled upon something so naive, so moving that I wanted to share it.

Fine artist and graphic designer Ayelet Gazit in Tel Aviv has been knitting and needle-felting Lazy Animals with the help of a local special needs centre. The finger puppets come in pairs or ‘small families’, on mobiles or in shadow boxes (their ‘habitats’)

Not only are these little creatures charming and whimsical but they represent something forgotten in modern childhood – the value of simple, imaginative play.

I know what Small is getting for his next birthday…

Lounging at the Lodge

If the quintessential Georgian market town of Alresford, in Hampshire, needs another draw – here it is.

The Lodge is a pretty little hideaway a casual stroll from the chocolate-box high street (complete with interior design shops spilling over with union linen and heavily curated antiques, of course), tucked into the corner of a beautiful family home. On a fresh spring morning, throw open the doors onto a large garden, with its own mini lake and a treehouse dangling a magical rope swing.

Inside, the lodge has recently been converted to sleep four in very stylish surroundings. Downstairs there’s a comprehensive eat-in kitchen, a lovely bathroom and a comfortable twin bedroom, ideal for kids. Upstairs the living room has gaping windows with views across the fields and countryside beyond, making the lodge feel utterly rural, even though it’s as close to the shops and cafés of the town as you would want.

It’s too tempting not to pick up the Arle Valley trail, the winding river path is idyllic. A hop on the Watercress Line steam railway will entertain kids, especially if you time it to coincide with a day out with Thomas. Then take your pick for a lazy lunch in Alresford, The Globe has gorgeous gardens backing onto Arle Lake and is the sister property to the award-winning Chesnut Horse in nearby Easton. Or stop at Caracoli (The Telegraph‘s small business of the year in 2012) for the best coffee outside London. Take a short drive to the historical City of Winchester or watch an al fresco performance at the Grange Park opera. 

Forget dinner plans though. You’ll want to cater at home so that you are sipping a cool glass of local Champagne in the living room (or the terrace, if the weather permits) as a flock of swans cross the salmon skies at sunset like confetti. Then hunker down in the deep sofas with a good book or a board game and enjoy the silence and darkness – both surprising in their absoluteness.

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