Nordica tries… the toddler and yummy mummy experience

I’m having a long weekend in between jobs, and was looking for things to do in sunny London. Word got out, and the other day Little M messaged me with his mummy’s (and my friend & now ex-colleague) Blackberry to see if I was up for hanging out with him and his mami and experience a day in the life of a toddler. How could I say no?! Keen to meet verybusymama (and Little M of course!) for a coffee and gossip session, I accepted the invite.

Bonding over a dummy

So this morning I got up bright and early, and headed off to leafy West London as other people on the tube were going to work or getting ready to hit the shops for some retail therapy.

First stop of the day, NCT’s Cheeky Monkeys Tea Party in Ravenscourt Park. Now this might be the time to mention that my life is very much one without children, so any interaction with anyone younger than me is a rare thing. So arriving at the Tea Party I didn’t really know what to expect. I was met by a gathering of umpteen yummy mummies and more toddlers & buggies than I could count, all entertained by Amanda of Amanda’s Action Club.

The Cheeky Monkey Tea Party

After some singing & dancing (for the first part I decided to take the visitor approach and hang out in the background drinking my first cup of coffee of the day, letting verybusymama & Little M enjoy the dancing and singing. Then, in round two of the entertainment, I was dragged into the action, sitting on the rainbow coloured parachute on the grass, clapping to the kids’ songs courtesy of Amanda’s iPod. My efforts to take part in the activities were recognized by a high five from Little M, so I guess I passed the first test.

Little M and his mami, @verybusymama

By this verybusymama and I were getting quite hungry and Little M was demanding his mid-day nap (which is something I think us grown-ups should have too!), so off we went, walking up Chiswick High Street whilst Little M enjoyed a little shut eye. Spotting the opportunity, his mami and I quickly popped into Cath Kidston (mandatory yummy mummy accessory I’ve been told), before we circled in on a suitable place to lunch. The pizza was tasty, albeit a bit more messy that what I’m used to. Kids do get dirty fast! To show that I had passed the second test, eating out with a toddler, Little M clinked glasses with me in the restaurant, toasting to my success.

Yummy mummies’ favourite

Back in the flat, Little M decided to have another attempt to nap (with a hint of crying added), whilst verybusymama and I enjoyed our second cup of java, chatting and having the World Cup on in the background. To my amazement time had flown by, and it was time for me to say my goodbyes and make my way home. However, not before having an attempt at test 3. Witnessing nappy changing. Luckily I didn’t have to change the nappy, but being in the room taught me enough about some of the lesser (to me at least) joys of motherhood. Fresh & ready to go again, Little M and his mami walked with me to the train station before waving bye bye.

Safely at home in my shared flat, with Marlon the Cat fighting for my attention, my day out with a toddler has taught me:

1. Toddlers demand your full attention at all times, unless you enjoy having coffee stains on you carpet

2. Toddlers make a mess in restaurants so choose child friendly ones to avoid angry stares from waiters

3. It is EXHAUSTING taking care of them the whole day! And I only helped out..

4. Tiredness = crying

5. Their little smiles and laughter makes everything alright

6. A toddler’s world is mostly very trouble free, with a lot of eating, sleeping and pooping

And lastly, I realized that I am not ready to be a yummy mummy… but it’s fun to hang out with little ones from time to time.

Homesickness

The other day, on my way home from work, I came across an ad for Norway on the underground. And, I must admit, standing there on the sweaty, stuffy platform with non-smiling people bumping into me, I was slightly stricken with a longing for the fjords and the mountains, and the long summer nights..

But then I spoke with my mum, who told me it’s been raining and they only had 6 degrees Celsius the other morning…

Nordica goes to… the Nordic Bakery

This morning, in desperate need for a coffee and a light brekkie, I decided to try out the Nordic Bakery on Golden Square.

Set on the South side of the square, the Nordic Bakery offers a clutter-free and, true to its Northern roots, minimalist food experience. Inside awaits a small selection of tempting open egg, ham & cheese or salmon sandwiches on dark rye or polar bread and a coffee menu to satisfy a coffee thirsty Norwegian (or any other person for that matter!).

I opted for a ham & cheese polar bread and a latte to take away. Whilst waiting for my order I had a look at the few selected food items for sale for any expats who are longing for the national romanticism and light summer nights. The queue increased as the office workers came in for their daily fix and the staff became busier. It was then the woman who had served me pointed to a tray on one of the dark wooden tables “that’s your order”. I politely pointed out that I had asked for it to take away. She looked at me, picked up the tray in a huff, poured the coffee into a take away cup (probably recyclable) and the polar bread in a bag, and handed it to me “next time mention it” – the “it” referring to the “take away” which I had in fact mentioned when placing the order.

So whilst the coffee was good, the polar bread tasty, the whole experience was tarnished by bad service. Nordic Bakery, as an expat, I like your concept and think the food is delicious, but make sure you appoint staff that won’t be rude to your customers.

I will instead go to the Scandinavian Kitchen for my regular fix of all things Scandi/Nordic. Besides a larger selection of food items on sale the staff were so lovely and helpful – not to mention smiley! You can find them on Great Titchfield Street or on Twitter @Scanditwitchen.

Food glorious food

The way I see it there are two kinds of people. The people who eat to live (my mum is one of these) and the people who live to eat (moi).

I have always been a foodie; the amazing flavours, the colours, the texture. So whereas I will be happy to try out new dishes, my mum will be perfectly content with crispbread and cheese.

This love for food has so far taken me on a delightful culinary journey, the highpoint to date being the year I spent in Italy; soaking up the atmosphere, eating gelato, drinking wine and tasting the most delicious desserts and pasta dishes.

London is also a treat for any food enthusiasts. Whether it is Vietnamese, Mexican, Scandinavian or Mongolian you will be able to find a place that caters for your fancies. Well, I’m not really sure of the last one, but if any of you know a place that sells Mongolian food, direct me in its way and I will try it.

But being a foreigner in England, sometimes makes me lift my eyebrow to some of the more odd foods you have (perhaps they are not so strange to you):

  • The Yorkshire Pudding. For some time I actually thought this was a pudding, as in dessert.
  • The Cornish Pasty. Meat in pastry. I guess it is a pie, but I am still not completely comfortable with it..
  • Spotted dick. Not that just sounds wrong doesn’t it??
  • Beans on toast. Who thought of it first? Students across the UK salute you
  • Scotch egg. Hard boiled egg wrapped in some meat like mix, rolled round in breadcrumbs and then deep fried. I’ll pass thank you.

Apart from these, to me, very British foodstuffs, there was one thing in particular that puzzled me for years.  Tea. For the life of me, I couldn’t understand why the British only had tea for dinner. How could anyone just live off the liquid black tea that you can add a splash of milk and perhaps a sugar or two to. Then, light bulb moment. Well, in truth, someone told me that ‘tea’ also can refer to ‘a cooked evening meal’ *smiles sheepishly and looks away*.

Then again, I’m sure whenever someone visits my motherland they look at some of our favourite dishes with disgust or confusion. Have you tried?:

  • Brown goats cheese with a delightful taste of caramel
  • Smalahove, which is, vegetarians please look away now, a sheep’s head. Eye and ear included
  • Dried meat of, children please look away now, reindeer. Yes, that is Rudolph.
  • Tørrfisk. That’s Norwegian for stockfish or ‘bacalhau’ for those of you who speak Portuguese
  • Rakfisk. Fermented trout
  • Sursild. Pickled herring

Yes we do have a lot of fish-y traditions, but I do recommend the brown cheese.

Image: Visit Norway

Daily London

I love great photography, wanting to be a photographer at times, and am always looking for great photo ops when I’m out and about. But the sad thing with digital cameras is that most photos will sit on my computer or some cloud service, not being seen by anyone – not even myself!

But not anymore. To share my love for photography and London, I have started Daily London –  a photographic project capturing the beauty and soul of one of the greatest and most diverse cities in the world.

Have a look and send any comments my way – I’d love to hear what you think.