Fit for a princess (or prince)

Kid-friendly food and tea experiences

When my kids were younger (and even now), I struggled to find food and tea experiences that would be fun and low-key. Here are three we enjoyed:

Little Bay (Croydon) — I still remember my daughter’s eyes lighting up when we walked into their Croydon location. In addition to seating on their ground floor, you can request tables that are up small sets of winding stairs. The multiple alcoves come complete with red velvet curtains and sparkly bits of fabric. All of this, plus the two- and three-course menu was affordable and good too. 2086 499544
32 Selsdon Road, South Croydon CR2 6PB

The Royal Horseguards Hotel (London) — The Royal Horseguards Hotel, former headquarters for the British Secret Service, is a five-star hotel located close to Whitehall. They offer a range of teas in their lounge from classic afternoon teas, a cream tea and a 'Sweet Treat' (cake, scones and tea). Their 'Mini-Tea' for children 12 and under comes complete with Baby Chai latte, Babichino or fruit juice. Interestingly, the kids seem to enjoy the savory portions more than the sweet ones.

The Tea Terrace Restaurant & Tea Room (Multiple) — The Tea Terrace located on the top floor of the House of Fraser in Guildford offers impressive views of Surrey from its rooftop garden. The interior is brightly colored in hues of pink and blue and oversized chairs perfect for photo opps. While they do not take bookings, tea is served beginning at noon and with a set menu and portion sharing is not discouraged. If you like scones, this place is for you. In addition to traditional plain and ones with sultana, they also have apple and cinnamon, cheese and herb and cranberry and white chocolate to name a few.

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Four Unique Gift Ideas

Give the gift of experience

It could be a function of my age or simply that there is little that anyone on my list actually needs. I found two items to customize . . .

Glassblowing (West Horsley)

I have always wanted to try this, but found it too expensive and time-consuming. This introductory glass ornament-making workshop was neither. I took my kids and they each made a custom ornament in colors of their choice. The artist was patient made sure even the smallest was successful in creating a bauble. 1483 375035
Adam Aaronson Glass Studio, Foxbury Barn, Epsom Road, West Horsley KT24 6AR

Perfume Making (Multiple)

Ever wondered how signature fragrance similar to the likes of Victoria Beckham and JLO are created? After an introduction to 18 blends created by their Master Perfumer, we had a chance to sample, test and combine them to create a signature fragrance of our own to take home with us. Following the session, the fragrance formulas and names were officially registered to make it possible to order in the future.

. . . and another two I can go along and enjoy too!

Mind the Gap Tours (Multiple)

Ride a bike to Hampton Court or Windsor Castle. They supply bikes, helmets, return transport and a fun, knowledgeable guide. Plan on a leisurely ride through the Surrey Hills with picturesque stops along the way. They also do historical tours of London’s best pubs — walking of course!

Paddleboard (Sunbury-on-Thames)

If you are looking for a new challenge while enjoying the river landscape, this is worth a try. Fortunately, the board was remarkably stable and I quickly found a sense of calm and focus - different from that of being in a studio. The session included an introduction to paddleboarding, paddleboard yoga and core yoga moves. Be prepared to work your core and experience a bit of an adrenaline rush from being just a little scared too.

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A taste of Thanksgiving

Sunday roast is a bit like Thanksgiving

Sunday roast is a traditional British meal served at pubs and restaurants. It typically comes with roasted potatoes, Yorkshire pudding*, stuffing, vegetables and gravy. Some of my favorite restaurants offer this year-round.

  • Bel & The Dragon (Godalming)
  • Hawksmoor (London)
  • Pennyhill Park (Bagshot)
  • Simpson's-in-the-Strand (London)
  • The Plough Inn (Cobham)
  • The Wheatsheaf (Esher)
It is hard to beat Sunday lunch in a cozy pub or restaurant where someone else does the cooking and cleaning up!

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Pantomime Time

Classic fairytales with a British twist

Pantomime (or 'panto' for short) is popular during the holiday season in Britain. The shows take place in December and January and if you’re wondering, they have nothing to do with mimes. Pantos are fun musical comedy stage shows based on a classic fairytale featuring dancing, cross-dressed actors, audience participation and well-known stars. David Hasselhoff, Priscilla Presley and Henry Winkler are some of the US celebrities who have taken the stage. Some of this year's shows include:

If you are having a hard time deciding what to see, Potted Panto (Garrick Theatre) may be the show for you. In its fourth season, the show features seven pantos in 80 minutes and the two actors are Olivier award nominees. 3303 334811
2 Charing Cross Road, London, WC2H 0HH

Go with a sense of humor and leave knowing these classic stories will never be quite the same again!

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Sky High Dining

Some of the best meals in London boast the best views

Christopher's Grill (London) — Conveniently located across from the Lyceum Theatre, this stylish art deco restaurant offers a reasonably priced pre- and post-theatre menu served before 6:15 pm or after 10 pm. Though not particularly high up, several tables of 2-4 have an interesting view towards Waterloo Bridge. They serve modern American cuisine and are particularly well-known for their martini bar. Given my sweet tooth I could not resist their Nutella Martini, which is just as decadent as it sounds. 2072 404222
18 Wellington Street, Covent Garden, London WC2E 7DD

City Social (London) — This Michelin-starred restaurant with a sleek, dimly lit interior is located 24 floors up in Tower 42. Tables of 2-4 enjoy the best city night time views. To be able to try as many dishes as possible, we ended up ordering and sharing. The food was delicious and the service attentive. Not to mention a creative assortment of cocktails and extensive wine list that are hard to resist. 2078 777703
25 Old Broad Street, London EC2N 1HQ

Duck & Waffle (London) — Located on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower, Duck & Waffle is considered the highest restaurant in the country. The wait staff was chatty and enthused about the food – a combination we found to be rare here. Each dish we had was flavourful*, made with interesting ingredients and meant to be shared. As an avid hiker, I have made it a point to avoid stinging nettles* – not realizing they could be eaten without harm. Not to be missed is the restaurant’s namesake duck and waffle. 2036 407310
Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AY

Galvin at Windows (London) — As part of the award-winning Galvin group of restaurants, I was surprised to learn Galvin at Windows is located on the 28th-floor of a Hilton hotel. This Michelin-starred French restaurant offers reasonably priced two- and three-course lunch specials. They have even created a special two-course kids menu for £10. 2072 084021
22 Park Lane, London W1K 1BE

Hutong (London) — One of the best ways to enjoy views in The Shard is to book* a table at Hutong located on the 33rd floor. The interior features traditional wooden Chinese chairs and red lanterns looking out floor-to-ceiling windows. We enjoyed a delicious and filling 10-course meal of dim sum and other Northern Chinese dishes. 2030 111257
The Shard Level 33, 31 St. Thomas Street, London SE1 9RY

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