The other Natural History Museum: #take12trips February

Did you know there are two Natural History museums in the UK? There is the famous, South Kensington one, but there is another outpost of this most famous of child-friendly of museums in a small Hertfordshire town. The Natural History Museum at Tring is less famous than its larger sister in London, but we still thoroughly enjoyed a day out there on a rainy Saturday.

Tring butterfly case

Disclaimer from the off: if you’re not keen on taxidermy and natural history specimens, this is probably not for you. I’m really not keen on anything stuffed  just for decoration, but it feels completely different to me if it’s for a scientific purpose.

The collection at Tring came about in the 19th century when a member of the hugely rich Rothschild family, Walter, decided to build a natural history museum as a child – as you do – and was given the land and money to do just that on his 21st birthday. He built up one of the largest private natural history collections in the world, which was then gifted to the nation and is now part of the Natural History Museum. On a side note, he also taught zebras to pull his carriage.

Tring corridors and excited Felicity

Tring rhino

The building where he founded his museum is still open to the public. It is simply the best day out if you’re one and are obsessed with animals, as Felicity has been pretty much since we knew she could be interested in anything. We first discovered her love of stuffed animals in the Castle Museum and Gallery in Norwich last year, so thought Tring might be a hit. I’m not sure we have ever seen her more excited at being able to get nose to nose with a polar bear though. She was literally running around shrieking with happiness at all the different exhibits (apologies to anyone visiting on the same day we did!)

Gastropod case Tring

Tring badger

The museum is free to enter and is reasonably small, spread over four floors. It still feels very Victorian and the specimen drawers look like they are the originals from Walter Rothschild’s day. Unlike the London museum there are no dinosaurs, but being able to stroke a stuffed badger more than made up for that in Felicity’s eyes!

Sundial Tring

There is a cafe within the building but it is tiny and doesn’t have the widest choice so we walked to Tring High Street, which is a couple of minutes away and had lunch there instead. The cake did look good in the museum cafe though! If you wanted to bring a picnic there are lots of places to eat outside, but as you can see from the rain sodden butterfly sundial, it really wasn’t eating outside weather when we visited.

Felicity at Tring

Very helpfully there’s also a free cloakroom where you can leave buggies and cloaks. We caused enough chaos with out toddler running underfoot to go and gesticulate at the latest exciting specimen she’d spotted without blocking people with the buggy as well!

I would thoroughly recommend it as a slightly quirky museum if you’re ever near Tring. We will definitely be visiting again. I am loving doing the #take12trips challenge from Need Another Holiday as it encourages me to discover some local places I’ve never explored.

A family day out to Tate Modern: #take12trips 

So a few years ago I merrily posted about my intention to join in with Clare from Need Another Holiday‘s #take12trips project. This was when travelling and days out were very much part of our lifestyle, and I thought 12 trips in a year would be easy. Well best laid plans and all that. I had thought I’d sail through pregnancy and we’d have an amazing babymoon somewhere exotic before our lives changed forever. I then spent the first five months with such bad sickness that I couldn’t get out of bed on some days, then managed to get pelvis pain when I finally got over that. So travel took a backseat.

Ironically, last year, even with a small baby, we would have easily hit the target of twelve trips or days out, what with a month away for Will’s sabbatical and five weddings meaning weekend stays in various parts of the country. I was not organised enough to actually blog about it though!

So this year is my #take12trips year, though I feel like I’m jinxing everything saying that. 2017 is looking like it is going to be UK focused again, we already have pencilled in trips to North Norfolk, the Isle of Wight and are attending a wedding where we are glamping for the first time, which I’m very excited about. I’m trying to work out how I can squeeze a trip to Scotland in there as well but I fear that may be unrealistic.

The first part of the year has been about day trips at weekends though. We have finally started to be brave enough to take Felicity into London. I know tens of thousands of Londoners travel around the city everyday with their babies but it still feels like a big thing to me to navigate the train and tube with a buggy/toddler who sometimes hates the buggy. The sling helps but I have to say finding a big enough bag to hold that and all Felicity’s stuff for the day and still have my hands free to stop her running away when she wants to walk is something I haven’t worked out yet. I still haven’t been brave enough to do it with or without the buggy on my own.  

When a friend suggested meeting for a catch up I realised that we could quite easily get to Tate Modern from Kings Cross on the overground or tube and avoid steps. I used the very helpful GoBaby app for this which I’d really recommend if you want to find buggy friendly tube routes. I was also keen to take Felicity to her first gallery – I thought Tate Modern was a good place to start as it always seemed more family friendly than most galleries when I visited pre-children.

First family touristy London picture!
Getting the tube to Blackfriars also meant that we had a mini sight seeing tour – walking past St Paul’s Cathedral and then over the Millenium (wobbly, or Harry Potter Death Eater destruction bridge, depending on your cultural taste and memory), to get fantastic views of the Thames.
It was a rather wet and windy January day  though so we retreated quickly into the Tate. As predicted the huge former power station building, and the changing exhibition space of Turbine Hall, proved a big hit, mainly as some genius parent had  bought a ball to roll up and down the large slope. There were herds of children running after it – Felicity was in her element as she is a big fan of kicking footballs at the moment, and all the open space was brilliant for her to let off steam. I can’t say we really took on much of the current installation at all if I’m honest. I’m sure the artist would have valued the addition of a Peppa Pig ball though (!)

The ball in Turbine Hall

I totally failed to get many pictures in the main section of the gallery, mainly because it took us a little while to figure our the best way to take her into the more traditional gallery space. If you’re thinking of visiting with a toddler I would really recommend a sling, or buggy if they’d be content in that. Unless they’ll hold hands really well the possibility that they will run straight under the protection barriers and dangerously near some probably very valuable sculptures is high, and doesn’t feel very fair to other visitors either. Felicity liked being able to peer out of the sling and was very impressed with this Antony Gormley sculpture and a version of Monet’s waterlillies. She hated Mark Rothko’s work and we had to leave that room very quickly! 

Tate Modern restaurant views
After a little bit of wandering we headed up to meet our friends at the sixth floor restaurant. I would so recommend this for any visitor to London or the South Bank – just look at the views – and it is very family friendly as well with table cloths to colour in and crayons provided for every table, and a good children’s menu. 
A thoroughly lovely way to kick off the year of trips! 

September, September: Autumn’s here

Autumn fruits

Parents in the UK may recognise my blog title from the month specific song on CBeebies, all about the joys of chillier days and falling leaves. Not actually the most appropriate as it has felt more like Summer for a lot of the the month, although now we’re into October it is definitely Autumn with crisp, cold or misty mornings and hedgerows laden with berries, hips, haws and other fruit.

My poor little blog has been very neglected this last month. I have been working on a few posts but was shocked to discover I haven’t checked in at all since my last monthly round up post. The weeks have just flown thanks to a last minute holiday away, and more settling back into work for me and the childminder for Felicity. I’m very much hoping to get more into the swing of everything when we’re in a proper routine, and catch up on blogging as well as life!

Beachy days

Bucket and spade

Beach crawling
This is the first September since I left full time education that I’ve had the really strong ‘it’s the end of the Summer’ feeling. I think because we managed to time going down to my family holiday home in Kent for a heatwave in the middle of the month we really savoured Summery things. We were incredibly lucky and basically had a bucket and spade holiday a bit late. We swam in the sea and were on the beach for hours every day. Felicity loved it and would have crawled for literal miles if we had let her.

Then all my lovely Mum friends are making decisions about heading back to work (or not) and the routine of mine and Felicity’s weekly meet ups and activities are about to change. Properly feeling like end of the holidays – although maternity leave is definitely not a holiday – September was filled with lots of last days out with the babies, culminating on Saturday with a Mum’s only spa day which was just heaven.

Dahlia

Dahlia festival

Anglesey Abbey

Despite the summery mood we have been embracing the new season with blackberry and sloe foraging, which will soon be transformed into crumble and sloe gin respectively. We also continued our accidentally created tradition of going to the dahlia festival at Anglesey Abbey. We must have been for the last 2-3 years and I think it will be a nice tradition to carry on as Felicity grows.

October is shaping up to be an exciting month, with Felicity hopefully perfecting her walking, her first birthday and getting into our new routines. Also I’m aiming for at least one more blog post than in September!

Some brilliant products for travelling with a baby

Even though Will and I have always been keen travellers, we perhaps wouldn’t have chosen to go away quite so much with Felicity in her first year, but circumstances overtook us. With five weddings scattered across the country plus Will’s sabbatical in Scotland which meant a month away, Felicity has clocked up a fair few nights away from home already.

This is not a definitive list of everything you’ll need to take when going away with a baby as children of different ages and temperaments, let alone different parents will clearly need different things. These are just some products we have come across along the way that have made our lives a lot easier!

Travel cot to suit your needs (1.) Before planning our month long trip I read a few baby travel essentials lists. Most of which seemed comically obvious – such as including cots/prams/car seats which I’m fairly confident parents use everyday and have the sense to take with them when away from home (rather than just letting the baby bounce around in the back of the car because you’re going on a longer journey…) So I’m trying to avoid the patronisingly obvious in this list. But a travel cot was something we thought about a lot so I did want to include it.

I’m not going to recommend a specific brand or type of portable cot. You may be cosleeping in which case you won’t need to worry. You may be in a small tent in  which case a full size version is not a possibility. Or if travelling by public transport weight and size is probably the most crucial element.

All I will say is price doesn’t really matter if it works for you as a family. We got an excellent travel cot for twenty pounds from Aldi (the Hauck Dream’n Play if you’re wondering) and we find it brilliant because it folds up and down in three minutes flat and, even better, fits Felicity’s full size cot mattress from home in it. She’s a bit of a princess and the pea around sleep – we had to give up on the under mattress breathing monitor as she didn’t like the hard lump- so lugging a massive mattress around is worth it for us. Even if we had a smaller car I would happily compromise my own luggage if it meant we can bring the mattress and get some sleep.

Clearly recommending taking a full size cot mattress around with you isn’t pack light advice, we couldn’t do it if we were flying, but for the long trips we’ve been doing it’s worked for us as everything is the same as at home from the mattress to the bedding. If we were flying I would look at getting a softer mattress insert or a different travel cot as the mattress of the Hauck one is quite hard. Go with your instincts about sleeping arrangements when away – just like at home really!

Cold water sterilising tablets (2.) my mother in law suggested these when we were having to do lots of little bits of sterilising when Felicity was on reflux medication. I have to say initially I was a bit dubious as they seemed faffy compare to our microwave steriliser but I’ve been converted. We used to keep a tupperware box on our worktop which we chucked things into as and when, which was very easy as you just need to change the water once every 24 hours and then you’re done. Super small to pack and you can use a zip lock bag or any lidded box (like an ice cream tub) to set up your portable sterilising station whilst away.

Gro anywhere blackout blind (3.) People seem very divided on these portable black out blinds, there are some quite negative reviews online saying they don’t work. I have found completely the opposite, they darken the room well and stay attached. I haven’t just been using them on a standard window either – they still stayed up even when stretched over a half open window in a recent heat wave, and round a slight corner due to the particular way this window opened. You do have to spend a bit of time making sure all the sucker pads are moist before attaching, the only time one fell off was when I was being lazy and skipped this bit. It maybe takes three minutes more to do this though so not exactly a hardship. They work great for us as there is no way we’d ever get Felicity into her bed during the Summer without something to darken her room.

IKEA Antilop high chair (4.) Again this is more for when travelling by car if space is less of an issue but we’ve found this super cheap IKEA high chair is actually very easy to pack up and take on the road, as the legs pop off and on very easily. I stuff it in the car very regularly when heading over to friends’ houses. Even if you don’t have room for the whole chair, the padded blow up insert is also really good in the early days of weaning and is portable for restaurant high chairs which may be a bit big for baby initially. We also have a fabric over-seat high chair which is much better space wise but isn’t always very good for bringing Felicity up to the height of the table, so the Antilop is still my favourite if there’s room.

Lassig long sleeve bib (5.) I admire the parents who freestyle it with tiny little bibs when weaning. For Felicity I’m a fan of the coverall smock and she still usually manages to make a mess all over her clothes. We use cheap supermarket towelling ones at home but these can rarely be reused without a wash so aren’t the best for out and about. I love these German made bibs though, you can both give them a quick wipe with the washing up like a plastic bib, or a very quick handwash at the end of the day, and you can still machine wash. Very fast drying as they’re mega light and they fold really small which is also a win for travelling. They’re also not too expensive if you compromise on choice of pattern, and are produced in an ecologically conscious way as well.

Tiny tots bath (6.) I’m a bit obsessed with this blow up bath. I bought it in a panic when suddenly realising we weren’t sure if we would have a bath on one of our nights away. We rely on our bath time routine too much for Felicity’s sleep to wing it. This bath can fit in a shower tray and was about ten pounds so I ordered one, worried it would be a bit of a gimmick. It’s actually amazing! We’ve started using it every night at home rather than use a bath seat. For Felicity, who randomly flings herself at things, the blow up soft sides are only a good thing, and it also saves water as you don’t have to fill up the whole tub. It’s easy to blow up without a pump and obviously folds down smaller when deflated. It even has a hook so you can dry it off before packing it up again. Stupidly one of the most unexpectedly good baby products we’ve bought overall, not just for travel.

OiOi fold up changing mat (7.) This is a luxury one as they’re quite pricey, but I love the pattern on mine so much (and I got an in packet brand new one for two pounds secondhand, which also helps). There’s room in the side pockets for a small pack of wipes and a couple of nappies, plus a zip pocket which I use for nappy sacks. Great for slinging in a backpack before heading out, and not lugging the whole changing bag across crowded cafes.

Happy travelling!

The lovely Lake District (with a baby)

It was slightly by default, as a lovely place about the right distance between home and Will’s sabbatical location, that the Lake District ended up being our first family holiday destination. I’m very glad it was though as we spent a happy five days there in glorious June weather.

We had to slow our normal holiday pace down significantly with a little person. Not that we never used to relax on holiday, we most definitely did. It’s just when we headed out we did tend to cram a lot in and I think we tried to replicate that initially. We’re up and about early these days so Will was bouncing to get out the front door and start exploring from about 8am. It meant we hadn’t got quite as organised with packing all the stuff Felicity needed for a day out and we ended up setting off at an odd time for her nap, which created a bit of baby boredom and grumpiness later in the day. We took it slower on the following days, soon learning that it was ideal if we headed where we going during her morning nap (or arrived for her morning nap if she could drift off in the sling or the buggy), did activity, made sure we could get her lunch at a sensible time and easily and basically repeated in the afternoon. She loved it though – I was rather dreading going home as she loves anywhere with people to nose at. She is in her element in cafes and tourist attractions and has learnt if she stares at people very intently they then generally smile, and if she then waves and smiles at them they smile more. Peak Felicity making friends on holiday was reached in Scotland by her grinning at a Norwegian man so much that he ended up giving her a bit of her lunch (with my permission!) Here’s a little synopsis of what we got up to during the Lake District bit of our June trip.

The walk to Wray Castle

See & do

Walking Usually on this length of holiday somewhere outdoorsy like the Lakes we would probably spend a couple of days sightseeing, and at least a day or so going on long walks/hikes. We were a bit worried we wouldn’t really be able get out into the National Park at all with a baby but thanks to a combination of the sling and a great scheme called Miles without Stiles, a collection of routes with access for those in wheelchairs and buggies, we did manage to see some countryside. There needs to be more initiatives like this in my opinion so as many people as possible can enjoy beautiful places outside cities and towns.

The sling walks we did were all fairly niche wildlife related so I won’t share them here, Will has over on his blog though if you’re interested. If we visit again I’d be keen to try and get up to the fells as that was the only thing the walks we did were missing this time.

Some of the Miles without Stiles routes are very short for those with limited mobility, but there are a couple of longer ones too. All are fairly flat by Lake District standards. We got the buggy round fine on all of the walks we tried and the shorter routes we did in Grasmere and Staveley helped us discover some quieter off-the-beaten-tourist-track places, especially in busy Grasmere.

The longest walk we did was up to Wray Castle on the western banks of Windermere. I didn’t quite twig that the mileage listed on the walks is the round trip total, so was a bit surprised at how quickly we got to the castle on the journey out!

Soft play at Wray Castle

Wray Castle – This definitely wins the competition for weirdest National Trust property I’ve ever been in. It is a nineteenth century replica of a castle, set just up from the shores of Lake Windermere. It is not a stately home as such so it has been given over to various children’s activities, including a soft play/build your own castle room that Felicity very much enjoyed. I don’t think I’d necessarily bother paying to go in with a baby if we weren’t members anyway as most of it is  designed for slightly older children – with things like ping pong, colouring and a hands on Peter Rabbit play garden. It would be good for a rainy day though, and on any day the cafe is lovely and there are stunning views to take in.
Beatrix Potter's Hilltop Farm
Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit garden at Hill Top

Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top Another National Trust property that I was keen to visit as I missed it on a previous trip to the Lakes. This was Beatrix Potter’s home and an inspiration for her children’s illustrations and stories. We didn’t spend long here as it was very crowded (even just after opening at 10am). It was fascinating to see the inspiration for her illustrations though and some bits were so obviously the model for her books it was almost surreal. It’s quite a small site for the number of visitors and there was no lawn or anything in the garden where we could put Felicity down for a crawl and to let off some steam so we retreated to the hotel next door for a coffee instead.

Boat trip on Windermere

Boat trip on Windermere – It was so hot one day the idea of sitting on a boat with a breeze blowing was heaven so we hopped on the 45 minute island cruise from Bowness. We weren’t sure if these would be suitable with a baby but we were assured they were. The only thing we were requested was to fold up the pram before boarding, for obvious reasons. We were a bit worried that with the design of our buggy (the seat unit has to come off to fold), we were going to lose the seat over the side of the deck where buggies had to be left, as the railings weren’t that close together. It survived though – phew. I would definitely consider getting an umbrella style buggy for future trips. Felicity took the boat trip in her stride and I don’t think realised there was anything different going on!

Lakeland shop – I’m a bit obsessed with Lakeland generally, any kind of innovative homeware is the sort of thing I love looking at, and Lakeland is the ultimate home and kitchen shop. As the name suggests, the shop originates in the Lake District and their flagship shop is right next the train station in Windermere. I managed to convince Will to pay a visit one rainy afternoon with the lure of their excellent cafe, and we were so glad we did as not only were the coffee and cake amazing there was also a free and pretty much deserted small soft play area for Felicity. She had never been to soft play before this trip as everyone I know usually mentions it in the same breath as the scream emoticon. She loved it though and it was certainly a very civilised introduction to the seemingly inevitable soft play visits for us. We ended up going back a few times whenever we were in need of cake or Felicity was in need of a bit of crawl.

Stay

We rented cottages for the whole our trip as it’s just so much more relaxed being able to watch TV or read after bedtime rather than sitting in a hotel room in the dark when Felicity has gone to bed. We did initially look at AirBnB but there doesn’t seem to be much availability in rural places as yet so going through traditional holiday cottage companies worked out cheaper. We booked with Lakes Cottage Holidays for this part of the trip, who I would thoroughly recommend as they allow flexible bookings and shorter breaks, not just Saturday-Saturday whole week stays.

We were based in the lovely village of Staveley, just a few miles from Windermere – which is why most of the things we did above were based in the South Lakes area. There was plenty to do around where we were staying rather than dragging Felicity further afield. Staveley was a great place to be based, not as crowded and touristy as Windermere or Bowness, but with a lovely pub and some other amazing food and drink options (see below), and a little playground for Felicity as well.
Eagle and Child beer garden

Food and Drink

Eagle and Child Inn, Staveley – Lovely pub food, but the main thing we liked about this pub were the most fantastically beautiful beer garden views I think I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing. They were also lovely with Felicity, a high chair appeared before I’d even got her out of her buggy as soon as Will went in to order drinks and mentioned we had a baby.
Hawkshead beer and Felicity
Hawkshead Brewery Beer Hall * – We couldn’t resist stopping in here on an afternoon walk, me to buy a present for my real ale obsessed Dad, and Will to sample some local ales. It was a lovely atmosphere on a sunny afternoon and I’m told the beer was good and the honey roasted with chilli nuts were definitely very good.

The Sourdough Pizza Co. – we had decided to get a takeaway on the last night as a treat, but didn’t realise where we intended to order from didn’t deliver. Due to sampling at the brewery earlier in the day Will couldn’t drive and I had to feed Felicity before bed. So even though we’d already had a pizza night earlier in the week we decided to try this company. I am so glad we did, sourdough pizza is officially amazing, I’m still fantasising about this pizza. In fact I might have to go back to the Lakes just to have more.

More? Artisan Bakery – Located right next to the Brewery, we didn’t realise this was here until the last day, so only sampled some of the cakes we bought to share with some friends we stopped in with on the way up to Scotland. They were delicious though so I’d really recommend this place, looked like they did a lovely breakfast menu too.

Booths' Wuthering Bites bag
Booths – I always take an opportunity to visit these lovely supermarkets whenever I’m near one. I really want them to come down South rather than just being a Northern England thing. We got all our food here for meals at the cottage. Also they were doing these amazing pun based resuable bags for three pounds which I couldn’t resist. Other options included ‘The Cake District’, no comment on how well that summed up our holiday…

*No babies were fed beer in the making of this blog post.

Home again and hello July 

It doesn’t seem like a whole month has gone by since my May post, probably because we spent all of June travelling and time flies so quickly in new places.

We are feeling pretty good that we survived a month away from home with an eight month old. In fact I think survive is too negative a word, Felicity loved being out and about all day and seeing new things, she genuinely seemed to thrive on it. She even slept better than she ever has before for a good portion of the trip  – teeth have now wrecked that happy spell sadly. I’m hoping her early adaptability is a sign she will be a traveller when she’s older, and that we haven’t put her off with the epic car journeys that she was distinctly unimpressed with (screamed her lungs out at) by the end of the month.

Felicity's first beach

Obviously almost everything  is new when you’re a baby, but there have been lots of firsts for her on this trip. First train ride, first time up a mountain, first sight of the sea and first time on a beach. Weaning continues apace and being out so much has meant she has tried a variety of things, there have been some unexpected successes: Venison (she’s clearly training to be a tiny Tudor monarch), raw onion, rocket, spring onion mash and fried bread all were received with enthusiasm; grapefruit was the only real failure and her expression when she tried it was amazing!

Having grandparents around for two of the weeks we were away also meant Will and I managed our first meal out as a couple since Felicity was born, and even managed to get a sauna, hot tub and swim on our own whilst in Northumberland. It was rather heavenly to reconnect as adults rather than just parents for even a short time.

Then there was, of course, the EU Referendum, and the subsequent apparent disintegration of UK politics. I was upset at the result, but I was also not very surprised either. I can’t work out whether it is more depressing I always thought that it might go this way or if I was saved the nasty shock that it did. I still count myself very much as a European and am just praying that the impacts are not as terrible as predicted. On a personal level I am so sad that people I care about have been affected by the anti-immigration tone of it all. Several friends are now in limbo due to jobs being funded by the EU, couples from different nations are worried about residency and what it will mean for them, it just seems like a terrible mess.

The continuing depressing news, and the end of our holidays, meant it was rather back to earth with a bump when we got home properly at the beginning of July. Will was back at his desk on Monday morning and I was completely solo parenting for the first time in almost a month, I had some work admin to sort out urgently and slightly unexpectedly and then the dreaded teeth made themselves known. Lunch was cooked and then abandoned on Monday for both me and Felicity as all she wanted was cuddles and quiet. Back to reality! This is my excuse for why this end of June post is going up a week late…

Visiting the Harry Potter studio tour London with a baby 

img_3244

We recently thoroughly enjoyed a trip to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour just outside London. We were celebrating the lovely Jennifer from Pastry & Purls‘ birthday. I had actually visited a good few years ago (I really love Harry Potter), and it was well worth going again. This time was a little different though as we had a small person in tow. I found information beforehand a little bit vague in terms of bringing a baby and facilities for babies, so I wanted to write this post in case anyone else is wondering the same things we were before our visit.

This is going to be an almost exclusively baby focused post – so a little bit obsessed with high chairs and nappy changing facilities, ie the nitty gritty if you’re planning a trip and an overthinker like me! It is such a fun day out though, totally unmissable if you’re a Harry Potter fan. It’s very much the story of how the films were made with the opportunity to see and step inside the sets, see the props and all the other behind the scenes stuff that happens when creating such a complex magical world on screen.

I would also say that if you’re a parent and want to visit then taking them when they’re very little is probably better than waiting til they’re a bit older. Obviously it depends on your child but some of the exhibits could be a little scary for a child who is more aware, also if you haven’t read all the books/ seen all the films spoilers are obviously a major risk so I would want to wait til Felicity has (hopefully) read and enjoyed all the books and watched all the films when she’s quite a bit older before visiting again.

It was definitely a different experience visiting the Harry Potter Studios again with Felicity, but it was still such an enjoyable trip. Babies can be so all consuming it’s good to know it’s still possible to enjoy a day out like this.

We also obviously wanted to show Felicity where she’ll be going to school when her owl arrives in about 11 years time! I also got a little bit emotional again at the end of the tour with this closing message – despite the fact we were about to have a nappy explosion.

Hogwarts will welcome you home

Seems a bit of an anticlimax to go from that to nappy changing facilities – but here we go anyway!

Getting around the tour with a baby

– The website says that you may not be able to bring buggies or prams on the tour, we came armed with slings because of this. From talking to the staff there doesn’t generally seem to be any requirement to leave your stroller in the cloakroom, so don’t let this put you off if you’re planning a visit.

Getting into the tour 

A lot of the information about the tour before you visit is deliberately vague, to save the surprise, so I’m going to try and not give anything important away too!

– The tours have timed entry and because of this there is some queuing to get into the tour as you wait for your slot.
– Most of the ‘tour’ isn’t actually being shown around, rather there is about forty minutes at the start where you are guided round. It starts with an introduction to the Studios, to a short film in a cinema and then into one of the fabulous sets used in the films. Once you’re past this section you can go at your own pace.
– During this forty minutes or so it would be hard to duck out at any point, so be prepared with food/nappy changes first etc.
– If it’s nap time the film in the cinema is quite loud!

Food and drink

– There is a large cafe after you get into the building but before starting your tour, lots of highchairs available and we brought our own food for Felicity.
– The next opportunity to sit down and eat is about two thirds of the way round the studio tour at the Backlot where there is another large cafe and lots of outside seating with an entertaining view. Jennifer had brought us a fantastic picnic  to eat here and again there were lots of high chairs available.
– Due to the way the Studios are laid out it would be quite difficult, though not impossible, to head for this cafe and then double back to previous exhibits, so do bear this in mind when planning your day.
– After this the next opportunity to sit down to eat or drink would be after exiting the tour in the original entrance hall. So stop at the Backlot if in any doubt.

Baby facilities

– There is baby changing in the main entrance hall, at the end of the section on interior sets, and in second part of the tour just by the Backlot cafe. It never feels too far from changing facilities wherever you are, aside from the initial introduction.
– The exception to this is in the last part of the tour, once you’ve left the Backlot if you need to, duck back rather than going on as you have to exit to get to the next nappy changing station.
– There are also incredibly nice changing/feeding rooms off the Backlot cafe. Not often I can feed looking at Harry Potter artwork! (And yes I am that sad that I took a picture)

Baby feeding and changing room Harry Potter Studios London

Happy Harry Pottering! I’d love to know if you find this information helpful or if there is anything I’ve missed out.