Each month we feature a London mum who shares her favourite places in her community. This month we talked to Emily Frost, a South East London mum from West Norwood who tells us what she loves about her hood.
Tell us a little about yourself…
I am a thirty-something mum of two, living in Norwood, South London. I work for family-friendly trampoline park ZAPspace in east London, so spend a lot of time thinking about activities for families, kids, and big kids alike! My husband and I met on an adventure in Ethiopia, and are both addicted to travel, and are keen to pass our intrepid outlook onto our offspring too. As a family we are always trying to seek out new things to do, and hope to meet lots of interesting and creative people along the way.
Which area do you live in, and what do you love about it?
We are located in South East London. Specifically, the Crystal Palace, Dulwich, Herne Hill and West Norwood vicinity. We have bought our first ever house here, after being drawn to the wide-open spaces, parks and greenery of the place. We’ve lived in different pockets of London, but for the last few years this has been very much home. Especially as our son was born and bred in the neighbourhood. West Norwood is popular with young families, who flock here for a community spirit, a down-to-earth outlook and easy accessibility into central London. We are firm friends with many of the neighbours on our street, most of whom have small people and are trying to make the most out of this corner of the city.
Where do you like to hang out as a family?
We use all of the local parks and commons regularly. Crystal Palace Park, Streatham Common, Brockwell Park and Dulwich Park are all walkable from our home, and offer huge amounts of space and freedom for our active toddler to run around and learn to scooter, without worrying about buses and cars getting in the way! The Dulwich Park café serves particularly good coffee for us parents too! At weekends, once the working week is finished, we always try and spend as much time together. Be it swimming in the local pool, going for brunch, trying out a new class, or taking a bike ride in Sydenham Woods.
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What is/are your favourite family-friendly eateries?
Pintadera in West Norwood is a firm family favourite, and we have been going since we moved here. It’s a very relaxed Italian café, serving the most delicious pasta dishes you will ever taste. All homemade in the open kitchen. Service is very much with a smile, especially if you have a kid in tow. All the staff are endlessly patient, and often double-up as children entertainers as you wait for your food! There are little puzzles, games and toys on each table, perfect for distracting hungry tummies!
Top Tip: The brownies are notoriously chocolate-y, gooey and wonderful, and freshly made all day long.
What local activities do you and your family take part in? For example, kids’ classes, fitness etc.
Before having our son, my husband and I would regularly take trips to the theatre. We were desperate to keep up this hobby and interest after starting a family, so have taken a lot of pleasure in seeking out local family theatre. Recently, we took our son to see ‘Leaf’ a highly interactive play especially for toddlers, by Attic Arts Club. We were amazed at the creativity of the show, and watching our son utterly captivated by the colours, music and dancing was really magical to see.
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Where’s your favourite place to escape in your area for a little me time? A shop, spa, café etc.
I have been known to escape to Alexandra Nurseries in Penge, for a secret slice of me time! The beautiful open-air garden centre is a delight to walk around, and has a cute independent gift shop, but the real bonus is the café, serving scrumptious food and drink all served to tables that are dotted in and around the plants and flowers. On a sunny morning there is no better place to be. It feels like a tucked away oasis, far away from the mayhem of life, and it’s easy to slip into a very relaxed state here.
A year or two ago, the nursery owner’s son opened up a brilliant vintage and restoration furniture shop opposite too. So, a leisurely browse in there afterwards is the perfect way to finish things off.
Where’s the best place(s) for date night? Mums’ night out?
My favourite haunt for a fun night out is Brixton Academy. For years, I have passed through their doors to see some of my favourite bands play live. I have so many fond memories of the place, including the first ever date with my now husband to see ‘The National’. So many greats have played in the venue, and the atmosphere in Brixton is always electric on a gig night. Every bar and restaurant is heaving and there is excitement in the air. You can’t fail to get swept up in it all.
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Is there a little hidden gem in your area you’d like to share?
The first Sunday of every month (April-Dec), a wonderfully creative and entirely community-run festival comes to West Norwood. It’s called ‘Feast’ and is celebrated by everyone that lives here. The whole neighbourhood is taken over by food and drink stalls, there is a retro area, a vintage area, a crafts area and a dedicated family area. Live music and DJs dominate the streets, the stall holders show off their handmade items and everyone gets stuck into the copious amounts of food and drink. We go every month and always meet up with our local friends and have a brilliant time. It’s the talk of the town, and we wouldn’t dare miss it.