Be honest, dear Mummies, we all love that: having a time only for us! Those precious moments where you can relax, be yourself, just enjoy yourself. “That was my original idea, acknowledged Emily with a smile, “I thought about a choir for mums – that the babies love it too is fantastic, but really just a side effect!”
Passionate about music, Emily is a mother of two adolescents who is warm and full of energy. Her voice is soft and yet powerful; she feels the rhythm as she sings and shares it with all the mums and babies who join in at her Rattle & Hum Choir.
“It’s amazing what singing can do with you,” underlines Emily, “it makes you feel good, you dive into another world… and the babies love their mum’s voice, they don’t mind if you don’t sound exactly in tune!” Continue Reading
At the start of the bilingual (or even trilingual) trip of life with kids you often are looking for places where they can meet and play with other children. It’s also (which is not less important) a moment when you can reconnect with your home country, take time to chat in your mother-tongue around a cup of coffee!
Oxford is packed with lots of different playgroups and little language schools! All these places give you the opportunity to connect with other multilingual families and to share cultural events and customs. It’s a new way for your children to explore your and their home-culture in another environment than at home. We do certainly all agree that this is extremely useful. It is during these meetings that they realise that they are part of a cultural and linguistic community.
I discovered the importance of such places since we are expatriates and as part of my work on Bilingual Families: Bringing Up Children between Cultures. That’s why I was thrilled to discover all the different playgroups and schools for children with an international background. Continue Reading
The Family Centre is slightly hidden behind some trees and bushes. These also give the place a cosy garden-atmosphere when you are outside the centre. And in fact, it’s a special spot, once the gate and two doors passed, you discover a rather unexpected venue. A giant place, like an enormous tent decorated with windows to see the sky… I can barely describe this incredible construction.
Entering Donnington Doorstep Family Centre feels like a harbour where you simply want to sit down to a cup of coffee and let your children play. A baby-corner, messy-play area, some tables with toys or craft activities, a place with books and some role-play equipment… your kids will be spoiled for choice!
For whom? Mums, dads, grandparents and carers with kids! There is also a Youth Group (read more: Good to know!).
Where? Townsend Square, OX4 4BB, Oxford. Contact: 72 77 21
Opening times? The family drop-in sessions are every day except for Sunday. Mon-Tue-Thu-Fri 10am-3pm, Wed 10am-1pm, Sat 10.30am-3pm.
What for? Lots of fun plays for Toddlers. The volunteers prepare every day tables with new activities. But the kids can also play outside, in a sandpit, cruise around with little cars or do some painting. Some days, the Centre offers special activities: Mondays Cooking in the afternoon, Tuesdays Singing with Lizzie (1.30pm-2pm), Wednesdays Bonfire in the garden, Saturdays Cooking session (11am). One of Donnington Doorsteps favourite activities is the messy-play (inside or outside). Be prepared and do not dress up your children in their best Sunday-clothes, in spite of some aprons to protect and some wellies to go out in the sand or if it’s raining in the mud 🙂 Continue Reading
When you see him walking in East Oxford with his dog Norman, green wellies, relaxed, smiling, probably daydreaming –you may not believe it, but he is the star of many Oxfordian children and their parents. “As I lie here in my bed, I should be sleeping bit instead…” is one of our favourites at home, closely followed by “Let’s take a walk…” and we love singing them in the kitchen at the top of our voice whilst trying to prepare diner.
- If you don’t know Nick yet, I would really recommend that you join one of his sessions which are all over Oxford and beyond. His music captivates the whole family!
- If you know Nick already, I am sure that you will be delighted to discover a little more who this is behind trendy glasses and the guitar. Enjoy this little chat we had around tea and sparkling water.
Nick, let us make a time travel and take us with you back to your childhood: singer, book, toy – what were your number ones?
Mhhhh (he smiles and looks like when he’s singing with the children) give me some seconds to remember. My very, very first musician was… Mary Hopkins, a folk singer – she is stuck in my mind I think because Mum and Dad had an autograph from her, she sang the famous “Those were the days” Knowing that will reveal my age… (he grins).
My favourite toy, this is easy, going back to the late 60s, it’s a little figure, an astronaut called Billy Blastoff.
And then, a book read by my parents… let me think, not to confuse with the books I have read to my children… Ah yes, my favourite book was Harry the dirty dog (Gene Zion)!
When did you discover the guitar?
I was about 13! We did the recorder at school and my sister was learning the guitar from a little old lady in our village. I just couldn’t figure out, how that could possibly work when you have 8 notes but only 6 strings… I was baffled and wanted to work it out. I took some lessons with the little old lady and later started in a band, when I was about 14. Later on, I was 15 or so, we played on Saturday evenings at “The Oranges and Lemons” which was a very famous Punk Rock pub at that time (today “The Angel and Greyhound”).
As a child did you know that you will become a singer?
I guess that I was sure to do something creative, because that’s what my parents used to do. I think you often follow your parents’ footsteps. And to be in an artistic family helps when you have projects like that – you find it easier to believe in yourself. Continue Reading
“And now close your eyes, turn around yourself, anticlockwise…” if you see a group close to St Mary’s Church or on Christchurch Meadow reacting upon these instructions, don’t be worried, they are simply on a Wonder Walk!
The Story Museum located in the heart of Oxford just re-launched their Wonder Walks for families (and grown-ups who like stories). A rather unusual activity which guarantees a lot of fun, laughs and unexpected details about Oxford and those places where fantasy stories originated. It would be a shame to reveal all the stories now, but let me just say that I learned new things about sweet Alice, the daughter of the Dean of Christ Church in the 1850s… but pssst, you should discover the other details by yourself 🙂 Your “Wonder-Tourguides” will protect you from dragons and safely lead you through the different universes with humour, creativity and pizzazz!
What is the Wonder Walk? Do you like stories, fantasy, time travelling, imagination, fancy dressing? Than you will be happy to join this family friendly walkabout through some of Oxford’s beautiful sights which you may not know under the “storytelling” perspective. Equipped with a storytelling map, you explore some of the backgrounds of well-known stories such as Alice in Wonderland or CS. Lewis’ Narnia. At every place you will receive a sticker for your map (great souvenir for the children!). And don’t forget, watch the dragons and follow “P-Body” the flamingo…
It’s for families, but which age is the best? I would recommend Continue Reading
During the last 70 years the world around birth has definitely changed: mothers are encouraged to eat and drink during labour, fathers are allowed and even expected to attend the birth, mothers can breastfeed confidently in public, parents are advised to choose their birthplace carefully…
Thanks also to the campaigns, contri-butions and engagements by the National Childbirth Trust, better known under the name NCT, these facts are now established. Set up 1957, the charity counts today 5,000 volunteers and more than 100,000 members in 320 local branches.
NCT’s main idea: Support for new parents on your doorstep for the first 1,000 days – which means from conception to the second birthday of your child.
What does NCT offer in Oxford? Different courses and activities are set up by the local branch: ante-and postnatal courses, a group about home birth support, Baby cafés (Breastfeeding support), First Aid courses, Bumps & Babies group, Speed Bump and Coffee groups. NCT Oxford offers also a hire service for Valley Cushions (to help mothers who have difficulties to sit after giving birth).
What are Bumps & Babies, Speed Bumps and Coffee Morning groups? One of the main aims of NCT is to offer places where parents-to-be and young parents can meet one another. There is nothing worse than to stay alone with this new and often overwhelming experience of expecting or having a baby.
- Coffee Mornings come off twice a month at a volunteer’s home. It’s a friendly and informal meeting between parents! Drop in whenever you can make it with your baby from 10am to noon. Need to talk about bad nights, want to have some good advice about weaning or just happy to have a chat with other parents – this is the right place to be! There’re two Coffee Morning Groups in Oxford: one South/East Oxford, another in West Oxford.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org (Sarah)
- Bumps & Babies takes place every Tuesday from 10.30am until noon at Wesley Memorial Church (New Inn Hall Street – OX1 2DH). Pregnant or with a tiny one (up to walking age), you are more than welcome! In a pleasant atmosphere there’re some toys for the babies and refreshments for the adults!
Contact: email@example.com (Hannah)
- Speed Bumps is a social event for parents-to-be, in the spirit of “speed dating” but simply for couples who are expecting a baby. Keep your eyes and ears open, the local NCT Team do their best to set up the next one in the summer of this year!
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org (Sarah)
Do I need to have a membership? Continue Reading
The Children’s Library in central Oxford is a lovely place to go to with your kids. It’s situated at the first floor of Oxford’s Central Library (Westgate, OX1 1DJ).
Whether you plan library-trip or you make a break during a busy shopping morning – the Children’s Library is a good and usually calm place to pop into.
For the Under 5s: There is a specific room for babies and toddlers. A very cosy and bright place with giant cushions and little chairs, it offers plenty of books in all sizes!
Activities: The library team organises a range of attractive events, especially during holiday-times (craft activities, story-times…), and one takes place twice a week: Rhymetime! Whether your baby is just a few months old or your toddler wants to discover everything -Rhymetime is an excellent short activity (30 minutes). Continue Reading
What’s for sure, during these sunny/drizzling, chilly and still muddy days you will need soap (and warm water) after having had fun at SOAP!
SOAP stands for South Oxford Adventure Park and is located close to Abingdon Road and Hinksey Park. An immense playground in a splendid green area with a lot of places to climb, run, explore wooden castles, shiny slides and other funny play corners – as far as the eye can see. It’s a special place, a charity, run by volunteers – a new group just started – with a lot of workshops to stir the younger ones’ creativity.
For whom? I would recommend for kids from 3 years onwards. They will have a lot of fun discovering some slides, swings and a little climbing castle. The older ones have a lot of other spaces to let off steam : football field, giant wooden fort and a zip-wire… lots of others things to explore! It’s “the place to be” when you have siblings!
Good to know This playground is especially for kids coming after school. You can go there alone when you’re about 7 years old (there is a registration). The under 7s should be accompanied by a grown up. Continue Reading