So I’m going to preface this with: I think we can (mostly) be trusted to not get blotto and start swinging our under crackers about while in charge of small humans. But a little nip of something here and there to take the edge off a tantrum-filled day is certainly not something to be frowned upon.
My motto is (other than not to get totally blotto): there’s room at the inn for all. We’re so beyond the breastfeeding/ bottle feeding blather… Who cares if you’re into cupcakes, beefcakes (check out Lucky Blue Smith… he’s 19 but happy days) or hashcakes? I truly believe there’s something of a collective sigh of relief going on in maternal ranks.
Ah, OK, I can love kale, eat deep fried Mars Bars, go to the gym, drink gin, laugh at myself or analyse my every move – dressed in Topshop dungarees or a pair of trakkie b’s from an Outward Bound course in 1996.
It really is OK to do what the frick you want. As long as the ratio of tears to laughter is balanced, you’ve/ we’ve got this. So it’s time to bring alcohol into the mojito mix; it’s time to discuss how happy that hour really can be. I have and will continue to be a firm advocate of booze. Certainly not in a white-lightning-in-a-paper-bag way; I eschew shots of After Shock for gently sipping a fruity little £7 number from the corner shop.
But I’m less shy about having a pint in a beer garden on a sunny day as Mae merrily plays with daisies. I had a fair bit of criticism early doors on this blog/ slog. One of my Mum’s best mates emailed me to say she loved what I was doing “but please stop advocating drinking around children.”
I posted about The Florence – a Herne Hill pub that has a dedicated soft play area. I didn’t build that spectacular fortress of parental dreams; but I’m sure as hell gonna broadcast that glorious message.
Cue Balans Soho Society in Shepherd’s Bush Westfield – one of the first restaurants to introduce a mama and kid mocktail and cocktail menu – aptly named Tipples & Tickles. Before I dribble on, this isn’t an ad or paid for post. I used to live near this spot and stumbled across the menu on a rainy day when mascara had sludged into my eyeball and Mae decided she needed apple juice with a straw to ensure life as we know it continued.
These guys have it nailed: ‘Mummy’s pick-me-up’ cocktail in an achingly hipster bottle is a gin-infused triumph, while the ‘Cheeky Little Monkey’ cocktail is glorified apple juice but ‘grown-up’ packaging alone ensured it was glugged in one fell swoop.
The food is miniature versions of the adult stuff. None of this fish fingers, chips and peas (although I won’t hear a bad word against that culinary stalwart), but in it’s place pitta bread and kid-friendly mezze (no spices or rogue ‘bits’) and anything else you think your spawn could palate. Perhaps the tuna steak and bok choi is a wish too far for the toddler crew.
And the waiters were on it. One guy said to Mae, “do you want to see Mickey Mouse?” My heart dropped – never over-promise a wide-eyed toddler ANYTHING Disney-related. But lo and behold he emerged 2 minutes later with two beer trays as ears spouting Mickey Mouse chat. Mae was ENTHRALLED.
More than anything, I’m mentioning this because it was a Wednesday at 1.15pm and perhaps a questionable moment to get on it with a 2-year-old. But it really was one tipple. We both said ‘cheers’ (no one batted an eyelid) and had a totally relaxed, ace time. The restaurant manager did ask at the end why I kept calling my daughter ‘mate’, though. (She misheard ‘Mae’). Now, that would have been a step too far.
Another place I have recently unearthed as parent-friendly is Godiva… the second floor of Harrods might seem an unlikely spot for some mama-daughter (read: E-colour-fuelled toddler) time, but these guys have it down pat. The Godiva Chocolate Café is a veritable cocoa haven – replete with every possible dessert you could wish for. The winner here is the chocolate crepe… Unlike any Nutella-toting pancake vendor, this is top notch nosh that might not win any kiddie nutritional awards but is absolutely spot on for pepping up that 3pm slump/ need for a quick sugar high. Oh and even when Mae went into turbo meltdown there was none of that ‘get the fun sponge out of here’ stuff. In all sense of the words, this is chocolate heaven.