Our new favourite place

. . .no, really.

I’ve been waiting for a place like Rainham Hall to open since I moved to Redbridge nearly 10 years ago. If you’re a fan of charming old houses, then you’ll love it as well. This National Trust property comprises a lovingly restored 19th century merchant’s home, shown with the family history, a three-acre garden that’s wonderful for an afternoon’s fun, a cafe and loads of local places to eat nearby. Friendly volunteers will be happy to show you around the house or the garden.

It’s really perfectly suited for a family visit with activities and sights for children and adults of all ages and stripes. Best of all, it’s just next to Redbridge, in Rainham, RM13.

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One of many new treasures made for the garden play area.

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Lots of space to run and play in the garden. Only guide dogs allowed.

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Rainham Hall and stable, home to the new cafe

Street parking is easily available on Sundays. Rainham rail station is just across the road.

For more information, visit https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/rainham-hall/


Georgia Lindsay’s Family Garden and ‘Bub Tub’ Competition

Calm and reassuring, the figure of a circle makes us think of a great big hug, and Georgia Lindsay, a finalist in  the 2014 Grand Designs Garden Design competition, created a garden full of them. We met the London-based designer during a family day out to the Grand Designs show last Spring and instantly knew we had to help her show it off!

Action man

A gorgeous metal swing seat designed by Steve Myburgh (Myburgh Designs) provides comfortable and playful respite from all the action in the garden. Artificial turf is used throughout. This can be cut in shapes to help form the lids for the tugs and circular play spaces.

The colours and shapes of this wonderfully child friendly space made my children beam, a response Georgia was clearly aiming for:

“The circles were very deliberate. Soft curves seem much friendlier and child orientated than angular lines.” I also was taken with the boldness of simple colours and shapes that were. . .well, appealing.

Georgia-Lindsay A penchant for clean lines were traded in for a family garden resplendent with circles in order to create a family friendly and appropriate design.

“I am actually known for doing very clean lined contemporary gardens but for this Family Garden I made a deliberate decision to smooth out all the edges.”

The garden upholds the circular theme, from the choice of a single proliferating bloom–a daisy–to the circular-seats of the beautiful steel swing and Georgia’s signature ‘Bub Tub’ kiddie seats to the holes dug as an interchangeable sandpit or paddling pool or trampline recess, or even a fire pit for some grown-up fun!

The seating area is inviting, comfortable, and purposeful. The softly circular theme is maintained whilst remembering that children DO go to bed (after helping to put the toys away, of course) and then the adults do not want to be sat in the middle of a landscaped toy shop. To that end, she has oh-so-cleverly devised turfed fitting lids for the play pits.

seating zone

Georgia’s “Bub Tubs”: One of the attractions of the chairs is that they can easily transform back into a storage bucket once the kids have grown out of them. They also stack easily when the cushion is taken out and look fabulous in all the beautiful rainbow colours they come in. People also love that they can store toys in the little compartment under the cushion, a little bit less clutter is always a bonus with kids!

So how did she dream up this amazing landscape? “The brief of the competition this year was introducing colour to your garden,” she tells us. “It would have been too predictable using colourful plants to fulfil this brief so I purposely didn’t use any flowers with colour and chose the white daisies and green grass as a neutral palette.”

Atop this neutral palette are the play spaces and sitting spaces: a beautiful wrought metal swing seat hovers over a dug-out circle, giving the feeling of depth. The gentle steps up and down were designed to make the terrain easily navigable for little ones.  She is a mum of two toddlers, ages 2 years and 9 months and 11months, so the well-imagined and safely realised space is a true labour of love: “The garden was really a tribute to them,” she says, and “completely designed for that age group, hence the curved lines and easy heights to navigate.”

Grand Designs Live Excel 4-12 May 2013

Kevin McCloud, of the Grand Designs Show, called the garden “innovative and practical.”

Since the show this Spring, Georgia has been overwhelmed with interest in her design and for the “Bub Tub” she designed for the garden. “The reusable quality of them really has appealed to people. As we parents all know we go through kids’ paraphernalia so quickly as they grow out of things so fast.”

Innovative yet practical. And we really like that.

Creating Your Own Garden

daisiesGeorgia’s design was purpose-built as a small show space, but you can use some of her great ideas in your own garden, large or small.

Do consider the shapes of the things in your garden–choose furniture, flower beds, and blooms with rounded edges instead of sharp, angular ones. Georgia recommends sunflowers for rapid and impressive growth.

And back to the theme of purposeful–why not incorporate edible, weed-controlling blooms? “Strawberries are another great one, not only do you get the thrill of picking the juicy fruit but also the added pleasure of putting them to bed in a little nest of straw. All veggies give great satisfaction, I don’t think anyone could ever tire of the thrill of pulling a carrot from the ground and the condensed carroty smell which fills the air.”


Play Along and Win a Pair of Bub Tubs

Grand Designs Live Excel 3-11 May May 2014

These amazing little chairs are soft, stackable, and have toy storage underneath! Perfect for toddlers and pre-schoolers, for indoor or outdoor use.

This garden is so chock full of playfulness, irresistibly so. Mumsnet Local and Wanstead’s neighbourhood pub, The Duke, would love for you to play along, so here’s your big chance.

We’d love to hear your suggestions for simple, affordable child-friendly home gardens. The winner will receive a pair of Georgia’s signature Bub Tubs, pictured here. These are valued at £45 each. If you’d like to get up close and personal with the Bub Tubs, they’ll be at The Duke in Wanstead from Friday, July 25th until the competition closes.

Entries will be accepted from Friday, July 25th until Midnight on Sunday August 3rd. The winner will be chosen by Georgia Lindsay herself.

If you’re having trouble thinking of ideas, our friend at Mumsnet Suffolk and Norfolk has some great ones on her blog.

When you’re ready, post your idea to the Talk thread on Mumsnet Local – Redbridge. You must post your entry by midnight on Sunday August 3rd, 2014.

Good luck and have a wonderful, playful summer!

  • Find your Mumsnet Local web site here–register by updating your Mumsnet account and receive a customised monthly newsletter with all the latest happenings in your area.

duke wanstead

Head over to The Duke on Thursday 31st July & Friday 1st August at 10am when they will be hosting their Little Duke’s kids club.

Meeting the Purple Pumpkin

Sometimes you meet some really lovely people on the Internet. This week, whilst preparing for this week’s newsletter, I made a terrific find: thepurplepumpkinblog.co.uk!

Blogger Michelle Ordever has an amazing photographic and writing talent, making the Purple Pumpkin lovely to look at and a worthwhile read.


We’ve used her beautiful, serene depiction of Fairlop Waters sailing lake for this month’s Redbridge home page. It’s part of her blog entry in which she woke up at the crack of dawn to watch the historic Olympic torch relay leg at Fairlop. Do have a mini-scroll down memory lane: The Olympic-Torch at Fairlop Waters park.

Thanks Michelle! And we’ll definitely be checking back in with you.

Allons Le Tour!

Cambridge / Londres

Stage 3 of this year’s Tour de France will speed through our streets on Monday, July 7th before whizzing off to France via air transport. We’d had a rather fanciful thought involving a tardis, though.  .  .

stage 3 tour

Full route details online at www.letour.fr

Beginning in Cambridge just after Noon, le Tour will arrive in Redbridge and Waltham Forest in the early afternoon, criss-crossing the boroughs on the way into Central London. The promotional caravan–get your free Tour gear–arrives in Epping New Road from approximately 1.05pm followed by the race at approximately 2.40pm. The route continues down Woodford New Road, through the Whipps Cross roundabout, and onto Lea Bridge Road into Leyton via Orient Way then on to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, through East London and into Westminster, where Stage 3 ends.

Best viewing points in the order that the race will reach them:

  • Epping New Road (Roadside, E4)
  • All Saints Church in Woodford Wells (Inmans Row, Woodford Green, Essex IG8 0NH) is opening its doors to the community for the duration of the event (café, toilet and TV screens) as well as family activities on the green.
  • Whipps Cross roundabout—large television screen to watch the race, Waltham Forest council-run activities
  • Lea Bridge Road (no facilities, roadside viewing)
  • Leyton Green
  • Baker’s Arms junction

If you’re watching from Epping New Road or Woodford New Road, be sure to check in at either of these spots:

  • Woodford Wells Club in Monkhams Lane (IG8 ONL) is welcoming the community to bring picnics, make full use of the club’s facilities and its newly refurbished club bar.
  • The Larder at Butler’s Retreat, 12 Rangers Road, Chingford, E4 7QH Click here for their menu.

Watching at Whipps Cross Roundabout or Lea Bridge Road?

Alfred-HitchcockWalk down to the friendly Sir Alfred Hitchcock Pub and Restaurant (147 Whipps Cross Road, E11 1NP). Full facilities are available and the manager is preparing a warm welcome for racegoers, including a BBQ! Unless, of course, it rains. . .  Do expect a lovely cream teas and the manager’s Tour specials–fish and chips, steak and ale pies. Full kids menu available.

And if sitting in the afternoon sun leaves you needing a little peace and quiet, take a break and visit Hollow Ponds Boating Lake, row a boat or sit in a shady spot. Just down from the Sir Alfred and opposite. Snacks and drinks available at the outposts, minimal facilities.


A bit further afield, the Duke pub in Wanstead is super family-friendly and is the perfect spot to head to for an early supper after a full day. Plenty for the kids to do there.

Le Tour’s official web site is www.letour.fr.

Plan ahead and make it a great day out!

Check out our Mumsnet Local partner sites whoa re also hosting Le Tour 2014:

Looking for Forever Families

adopt b&d

The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham Adoption Service are calling for potential adoptive parents from across Essex.

Thirty children are waiting to find a home and the Adoption Service is holding a number of informal open information sessions where you can meet members of the adoption team and an adoptive parent and have all of your questions answered.

The 30 children include siblings such as siblings, Sophia (7) and Eddie (5)* who are full siblings and are happy children. They are very close and enjoy playing together. They are normal kids who need a loving family.

*Names have been changed to protect the children’s identities.

Can you make a difference?

We need parents who are able to offer a child the love, care, time and understanding within a framework of boundaries and consistency to meet these children’s needs into adulthood and beyond.

There are many myths surrounding adoption; these information sessions provide an opportunity for you to find out the answers to any questions you may have. Successful adoptive parents will be on hand to give their points of view.

The upcoming event will be held on:

Saturday 5 July 2014, 2pm to 4pm, Broadway Theatre, Barking, IG11 7LS

For information about adoption or to reserve your place at this event please call 020 8227 5555. To apply or find out about future information events please visit www.lbbd.gov.uk/adoption

Subsequent events will be held:

Wednesday 10 September, 9.30am to 11.30am, Dagenham Library, 1 Church Elm Lane, Dagenham, RM10 9QS

Thursday 6 November, 6.30pm to 8.30pm, Relish Café, 2 Town Square, Barking, IG11 7NB

Thursday 4 December, 9.30am to 11.30am, Broadway Theatre, Barking, IG11 7LS

Making East London Home through Furniture Re-Use

The Quakers have always been full of great ideas. For one, they invented chocolate.

I could just stop there, couldn’t I?

qsa logoQuaker Social Action has been at work for 145 years in East London, under the moniker, “Working for a Just World Where People Put People First.”

And this is just the message East Londoners need to hear. Often. This is a high-density corner of the world. Some of us have lots of stuff, while others can’t afford it. But we all live next to each other. And the amount of ‘stuff’ that some of us have can cause problems–flytipping for one. We need people with great ideas to keep things running smoothly.

Enter QSA’s Homestore, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. The furniture re-use charity project collects quality new or used furniture donations from businesses and private individuals and sells it on at a low cost to low-income East Londoners, our neighbours. Everything someone would need to fit out a decent family home is on offer at the Homestore Warehouse, at prices that rival even those of charity shops.

I used QSA’s Homestore a few years ago when I moved in with DH. He had a few items from his bachelor days that ahem needed a new home. So I sent a home office desk and a tv console their way. I called Homestore again recently as we’re renovating and have a dining table and sofas that are too small for our growing family. And I became intrigued.

Last week, I brought the girls along for a browse in the warehouse and to meet Jane Williams, who heads up Fundraising and Communications for QSA and Homestore Manager Jim Carling. It’s tucked away in a Stratford industrial estate, quite near to the wonderful new Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, one of our favourite new spots to visit. Inside, the Homestore is a cheery, bright place, welcoming for families looking for things to make their homes nicer. It’s not long before the little ones ‘ask’ if they can bounce on the settees.

warehouse floor 2013Jim explains that for every £1 in donation, the Homestore needs to fundraise £2. It is a grand-scale furniture recycling scheme staffed by full-time employees and volunteers. Homestore’s fleet of lorries shuttle between pickup points in seven East London boroughs and back to the warehouse several times a day. Donors are asked to contact Homestore about their donations and these will be pre-qualified before a driver is committed to picking up: It’s essential that any donated items are in compliance with fire and child safety regulations, and the Homestore staff will determine the suitability of your items over the phone or by email.

At the warehouse, furniture is given a quick scrubbing up, and put on sale. Customers of the Homestore must show proof of low income in order to shop here. Donors can give their items in a safe, reliable, and convenient way. And if you’re a Freecycler or EBayer, like we are, you know what this means.


Theresa is a teacher in Hackney. She enjoys a home with a lovely view out to the park from picture windows. When she was expecting her baby last year, she needed to move furniture out of her spare room to create a nursery. She chose Homestore to donate her very smart coffee table and a beautiful jumbo cord-covered sofa.

Become a Donor

In order to make its next 25 years a success, QSA is appealing for donations of more good quality furnishings from East London homes. So, instead of Freecycle or eBay, consider donating your furnishings to Homestore.

Donation guidelines are viewable and  downloadable here.

Unfortunately, some childrens’ and baby furniture cannot be donated as the safety compliance cannot be verified. Donated items can have normal wear and tear, so don’t worry about the odd scratch.

Mumsnet Local serves all of the boroughs in which Homestore collects donations. Listings can be found in the following categories–Community Organisations, Eco Services, Removals and Storage–or by clicking directly on the links below.