Last Saturday, we decided to explore the nearby neighbourhood of Tooting. They were having a little festival that day, called Tootopia (“Saluting Tooting!”), so we figured it would be a fun day to head over there.

Tooting has definitely seen some recent gentrification. This was very evident at our first stop of Tooting Market, which has some of the old shops and food stalls mixed in with your typical hipster finds of artisan coffee shop, juice bar, and vegan whathaveyou.

We tried to go to a chocolate-making workshop for kids, but it turned out that you had to book ahead for that. Bummer.

So we headed over to the Tooting Leisure Centre, where they had a soft play area with ball pits and slides, and let E do that for a while.

Then we went to a big pub that was doing a “street food takeover” with a bunch of different food carts set up in their big back garden, and some tables of handmade arts and crafts by local artists. I had the best bao buns, and even E liked hers! I then ate half of M’s patatas bravas, before we hit the baked goods stand—twice. We discovered something called a “tiffin,” which is a bar made from crushed digestive biscuits mixed with dried fruits and topped with a layer of chocolate. We had to go back for more!

We then just wandered around the main streets a bit before taking the bus back home. We definitely want to go back to Tooting for good Indian food sometime soon!


Hampton Court Palace

If you think going to a palace for the day sounds like a snoozefest for a 3-year-old, wait till you see Hampton Court. It’s awesome.

A few weekends ago, we took the train there for the day. Just this past May, they opened the Magic Garden, a fantastic, fantastical playground featuring a big sand and water play area, tall castle towers with slides, an underground grotto, and even a fire-breathing dragon (OK, maybe it’s just a little steam, but STILL). E had a blast doing everything in the Magic Garden, and practicing curtseying and saying “Your Majesty.”

There’s also the UK’s oldest hedge maze, which we did twice, because E had so much fun trying to solve it. We also sniffed lots of roses in the gardens, roasted some meat in the enormous castle kitchen, and checked out the chapel. There’s a lot more I’d like to go back and see without a 3-year-old along, of course, but we really had a great time doing things she enjoyed, too.