what is Whirli and how does it work?
Whirli is an online library that is mostly toys and a smattering of books. You choose your subscription plan (anything from pay monthly and cancel anytime, to committing to a year's subscription) and then you can a set number of credits depending on the plan you choose.
You go on their site and pick whatever toys or books you want. Each item has a price (the currency here is Whirli Tokens) and you can spend as much as the number of tokens you've got in your Whirli bank account.
When you're bored of the item, go online and let Whirli know you're returning the item and in the meantime you've got your credits back and can start picking more "new" toys! Either request for the items to be collected (useful for bulky things like a pikler triangle or a walker!) or just drop them off at the post office.
If you love an item so much, you can buy the item directly from Whirli (they charge you a reduced price since the item is technically used) or if you're still holding on to it after 8 months, it's yours to keep FOREVER!
why I use Whirli
Space: Most of us living in central London don't have much space in our homes so it's great to be able to get rid of toys that my kid's not interested in. Thanks to Whirli our flat isn't completely overrun with toys. As soon as my daughter seems bored of a toy, I get a new one in and return whatever is no longer in vogue... there's no reason I can't borrow it again at a later stage!
I actually started my subscription of Whirli because I wanted a walker for my daughter but I knew she would only need it for a month or so and I really didn't want this annoying, bulky plastic beast of a walker to live in my flat for more than was necessary.. so I turned to Whirli for an annoying Fisher Price walker (whose jingle is still stuck in my head) and returned it as soon as my daughter started walking independently!!
Economical: I bought a pikler triangle.. and my daughter was only be interested in our clothes drying rack. This is exactly one of those expensive items which I wish I had borrowed first to suss out my daughter's interest before spending so much money!!
Ever since I've been on Whirli, I've pretty much stopped buying toys, but my daughter gets to play with new toys every month or so!
Also, my daughter's favourite toy is anything that isn't a toy (recently it's been umbrellas and empty milk bottles) so I'm done spending money on toys!!
Environmentally friendly: Just buying less new toys means contributing to less stuff in the world.. so shopping on Whirli is completely guilt-free!!
Quality & Hygiene: So far the toys I've had all seem almost new. The quality is amazing. Some of the wooden toys appear more worn, but they are 100% usable and my kid is satisfied!
All the items are also sterilised. My latest lot of toys include some fabric hand puppets and you can definitely smell the washing detergent so you know it's clean!
Variety: For us we've been holding onto this Fisher Price hippo which my daughter unexpectedly loves and now goes to sleep with it every night..
Last month we had a wobbel board (which pretty much wiped out all our credits) but this month we've got a whole load of small things (see image above)..
In conclusion, we love Whirli. I get to shop online all the time without any guilt and stress of clearing out unloved toys, and my kid is happy with all the new things to play with. I'm looking forward to her being old enough where she can sit with me and pick the next set of toys to play with!
Lockdown has had me turning my flat in to a nursery filled with toys recommended by our lovely group of Mums and Dads. Little R has tried and tested some of the toys that are age appropriate and has being having a lot of fun playing with them. The beauty of some of these toys is that they let the little one’s imagination run wild and can be played with in so many different ways. Get ready to go on a shopping spree!
The Pikler Triangle
This is the one thing you can buy without giving it a second thought as it is so versatile and kids will find so many different ways to play with. Little R climbs all over it, uses it as a bridge, a see saw, a snuggle spot with a cushion and so much more. It’s a great way to stimulate balance and strength.
A lot of parents have suggested that balance bikes are great and having used one, their little ones have been able to move straight on to a bike without stabilisers. I’m waiting for little R to be old enough to go on one. Although Banwood bikes look very cute the brands that have been highly recommended are Early Rider and Islabike.
- Post by Jivya
Fucina is a an Italian contemporary restaurant based in Paddington St.
We loved the food, the staff and the service. Everything was impeccable. The bonus for us, a family including a 5 year old daughter and a 3.5 year old son, was Sharky and George - a children’s entertainment and lunch service they offer as part of their offering. Children need to be aged 4+ but my tall 3.5 year old son slipped in quietly.
Although quietly are not words I would associate with Sharky and George. Fun, frolics, continuous activity are what both kids experienced.. My daughter even had a second lunch as she had eaten upstairs with us.
They start at 1pm but my kids eat at midday so the restaurant very kindly allowed them to eat their lunch upstairs with us and then go down. Sharky and George had no objections to her joining in with all the children eating downstairs too. It was not easy getting my daughter back upstairs at 3.30pm. Meanwhile my son with my nephew came up and down a few times and the restaurant had no objections.
A truly fabulous place. Each child (for lunch and entertainment) cost £20. We are returning.
Bernardi's, the popular Italian restaurant and bar on the local foodie haven of Seymour Street, has recently launched a kid's set menu which looks great.
For those of you who haven't been, the food is fresh and delicious and the space is large, bright and airy. The basement bar is also great and they serve delicious cocktails. They have a weekend brunch menu with delicious options as well as an a la carte menu. They are kid friendly and welcome local families!
A review will follow shortly but in the meantime, here's the kids menu to whet your appetite.
Bernardi's 62 Seymour Street, London W1H 5BN
Chamber Tots at Wigmore Hall - Review
Since C was 8 months or so, we’ve enjoyed attending various music groups. Mini Mozart, the Academy Tots sessions run by the Royal Academy of Music (both right next to Regent’s Park) and the Royal Albert Hall’s Storytelling and Music Sessions fit the bill for a long time, but recently I’ve felt that C has ‘outgrown’ those groups – the age range was just too broad (trending to too young) and the classes didn’t hold her interest well. So we were both very pleased to discover the Wigmore Hall Chamber Tots.
Recently re-envigorated, the sessions are interactive, allowing children to discover new instruments, songs and stories in a 1 hour slot. Each session ends with 10-15 minutes of ‘real’ music performed in the Auditorium – a great introduction to attending a concert as an adult, and learning appropriate behaviour in a concert environment (listening, applauding, not running around too much – though there’s no side-eye if your child is not interested in sitting!). The chief facilitator is an experienced musician and the supporting musicians are generally music students/emerging chamber ensembles – we’ve seen a string quartet and a recorder ensemble so far. Both were excellent.
Wigmore Hall runs a range of other family activities, including the For Crying Out Loud concerts for babies under 1. All of these events sell out, so it is worth booking ahead or getting on the mailing list to avoid missing them.
In terms of general facilities, pushchairs/scooters are able to access the Auditorium and other rooms with no issues, and coats and bags can be left securely in the Bechstein Room where the sessions are held. Toilets and baby changing facilities are top notch and located downstairs.
More information and booking here. C has asked to go back, so maybe we’ll see you there soon too!
Hi! I'm Mariaan, a Marylebone Mum with am inquisitive and hectic 3.5 year old daughter. We try to get out and about as much as we can to see all that Marylebone and surrounds have to offer.
A couple of months ago my daughter (C, then just 3) and I tried out Experitots, a recent offering for children 18 months to 4 years run by the Museum's Explainers. Billed as an interactive play session where you can "find out what makes you who you are", the sessions are an hour long, with about 40 minutes being self-directed play and 20 minutes being facilitated song and exploration of the gallery with the assistance of the Explainers (who are all delightful).
Overall we liked the session but I think enjoyment levels will depend on the specific age range of the kids - there were a surprising number of babies closer to 12 months rather than the older age group the sessions are designed for. There are solid opportunities for dressing up and pretend play (which is fun, but there are a LOT of places in London where you can do this), but I felt personally like there was a missed opportunity for some 'organised science'. The Explainers seemed to think that this will develop over time, so fingers crossed.
C is definitely in a 'why why why why' phase, and it would have been nice if there were some opportunities for the Explainers to explain in an age-appropriate way the 'why' behind some of the exhibits. Having said that, the program is pretty new so will no doubt change and develop over time - it was a fun and affordable activity for a Tuesday morning!
Irrespective of how you feel about Experitots though, there is soooo much else to see in the Museum.
The Pattern Pod is an area which is sort of hidden near the back of the Museum - but still, visit as close to 10am as you can for a more relaxed experience. In this small area children can explore patterns with magnetic shapes, create symmetrical drawings on the touch screens, follow trails and look at patterns in the natural world. It is entirely interactive and learning in a low key and fun way.
The Garden is a special exploration area designed for 3-6 year olds which gives children a chance to explore construction, water, light and sound. It is absolute mayhem over the weekends, but manageable on weekday mornings. C loves it and regularly asks to go back there to play with the flying saucer and water race in particular!
We love the Science Museum (it's now been 2 visits in 3 weeks.....) and the older C gets, no doubt the more we'll get out of the exhibits!!
If you're looking for some other ideas feel free to check out my blog Travels of a Lawyer Mum or on Insta @travelsofalawyer.
The next Marylebone Mum’s Coffee Meet-up will be next Friday 22nd February at 4pm at the Radisson Blu Hotel which is just off Gloucester Place near the George St intersection. The group will be meeting on the right from the entrance. Soraya will be hosting.
Coffee morning THIS WEDNESDAY 21st Nov 10am to 11.30am
At Buongiorno e Buonaserra on Baker Street
Marylebone is a popular destination for those looking for great food - we have some of the best restaurants and bars in London in the area. There has been a massive change in the area over the last few years though, and some of the tried and true locals favourites have moved on, as well as many of the chains which (though boring) were great stalwarts when out with younger children. Amongst others we have lost Giraffe which was truly great for kids, and more recently Carluccio's where the staff overlooked the noise and mess that comes with kids and was always an easy and affordable option. Thankfully a few places like Cote that are reasonably priced, where kids are welcomed and not just tolerated do still exist in the area.
Some of the newcomer restaurants that have opened are not particularly kid friendly in their menus, or do not encourage children (to put it politely), or are just too expensive to go to regularly and not really value for money.
Yet we do have a few little gems in the area, such as The Ivy Cafe on Marylebone Lane.
Recently, I was invited by The Ivy Cafe to have lunch with a friend at their Marylebone branch. As you may know, The Ivy Cafe has been growing rapidly as a group with branches is many of the "nice" areas of London and the South East such as St John's Wood and Richmond. The Ivy brand has a great reputation but when I first heard they were coming to Marylebone I was not convinced we needed something like that in the area and had my concerns about whether it could be a place where locals want to go rather attracting mainly the destination diners that many restaurants focus on.
Well, I was totally wrong!
Not only do the team at The Ivy Cafe welcome families with children, they also provide tasty food at a price level that is justifiable, in lovely surroundings and most importantly welcoming to locals. In fact during my lunch there I not only saw 2 people I know from the area but also bumped into my cousin who lives and works in the neighbourhood who was having a business lunch there and who confirmed that it is definitely one of his go-to places for a meal. It is definitely a place for locals - which is lovely to see.
The Ivy Cafe has a varied menu, with something for everyone. Comfort food is definitely prevalent but there are lots of lighter and healthier options too. I enjoyed my prawn cocktail starter with beautiful large prawns, and couldn't resist the Shepherd's Pie which is always comforting, delicious and far better than anything I ever make at home! My dining companion used her test of a restaurant by ordering the fried calamari which was crispy yet tender (passing the test with flying colours) and proclaimed her sea bass main delicious and light. We indulged with a chocolate mousse and tarte tatin for dessert which were both lovely as well as some much-needed coffee to carry us through the afternoon after a rather larger-than-usual lunch!
The manager chatted to us and mentioned that a few of the local restaurants have pitched together and can share child seats if they have a larger than normal number of little ones dining with them, which I think is a great idea and nice to see the community working together. They will do small portions and children's options, and I am sure my child would happily eat many of the things from the main menu as the menu has a wide and varied mix with many family favourites that children would be familiar with.
My only negative from the visit was that even though it was a Monday afternoon in early October, the place was packed. I believe they do keep some tables for walk-in diners but given the restaurant's popularity it may not be easy to just pop in at peak times (if like me you are never organised enough to book!). But if you get a table you are almost guaranteed a good meal.
As well as a delicious all-day menu, they have a breakfast menu, a cream tea from 3-5pm every day with scones (guess where you might be able to find me one day very soon?), and a weekend brunch menu as well as a dedicated vegetarian and vegan menu. So there really is something for everyone! It is quite clear why The Ivy Cafe has become a popular place for Marylebone residents and visitors alike.
The Ivy Cafe 96 Marylebone Ln, Marylebone, London W1U 2QA
Disclaimer: I was invited to dine with a guest and did not have to pay for our meal. I will happily return to the venue in the future to dine there with family and friends based on my experience.
One of the lovely members of our Marylebone Mums & Dads Facebook group has kindly written up her thoughts after attending the opening event for the new Bryanston Nursery in Marble Arch. Many thanks to Soraya !
Bryanston Nursery @ Marble Arch is a new nursery on Bryanston Street opening its doors in October 2018 to parents working and living in Marylebone. Claire Laine is the director and it is her family business that already runs two other nurseries in Bath successfully.
There are two huge rooms for babies and toddlers, beautifully arranged with different activity corners and colorful wooden toys, almost looking like an indoor adventure playground. Although the nursery is in the basement, the rooms are bright and very friendly with a warm and cheerful atmosphere. Furthermore, there is a parents’ and staff lounge where parents can relax, work or have a free coffee before or after dropping off the kids. Here, parents have the opportunity to meet other parents or the staff to discuss their child’s development. What a wonderful and unique idea!
The children do everything in the same room: Sleeping, eating and playing. There is no set timetable and staff will follow the parents’ routine from home. The nursery has key access to the nearby Portman Square Gardens and the children will go there (in a cute Turtle Bus if they can’t walk, yet) for regular play times. Other outings like museum, park and zoo visits are planned for the near future.
Sarah Cornish, Director of Child Care and Education and an ex Ofsted Inspector, explains the very unique but child-friendly schedule of the nursery: There are no regular, daily lessons, however, the nursery will book in an extra-curriculum activity teacher (for example: yoga, ballet, tennis, football, cooking, French, music etc) for about 3 months and all children can try out and learn that activity every day for those 3 months. Other than that there is no schedule during the day: every child decides for themselves what activity they would like to do in one of the activity corners, this could be drawing, kitchen area, play dough, painting, role play, reading, climbing, sliding, sleeping, messy play, etc. All resources and activities are accessible to the children and the practitioners will work/play alongside the children to support their learning and thinking skills. Staff uses the iConnect system to share their observations and information on each child with parents on a daily basis.
The food is freshly prepared on site by the nursery’s own chefs Ellie and Jamie. At the launch party the nursery’s menu was not only beautifully arranged, healthy and colorful but also delicious! Claire Berridge, the friendly and welcoming Nursery Manager, tells me that the children are presented with a choice of healthy meal options and they can take whatever they would like to eat. To my surprise my toddler was jamming lots of healthy food options like cut vegetables with humus and fruit skewers.
The opening hours are from 7am-7pm and a full day’s fee is £75-£85 depending on the child’s age from 3 months - 5 years. This fee includes everything: food, nappies, outings and any extra-curricular lessons. The nursery’s booking sessions are extremely flexible and accommodating, even a “term-time-only” option is available.
The only downside: On entering the nursery there are stairs with about 20 steps and parents need to carry down their buggy and leave it in the buggy area. The nursery’s cleaner will be at the door to help. Other than that, the Bryanston Nursery seems a very happy and friendly place where children can enjoy their days developing friendships in a nurturing and safe environment.
Bryanston Street, Marble Arch, Marlyebone, London W1H 7AH