Alternative Mother's Day Plans

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By Jodi Bartle

Mother’s Day at my place can seem a little bit, well, wanting.

Last year everyone forgot: I flounced out of the house in a huff and wandered around Brick Lane market buying myself pieces of flea market Murano glass, imagining what weekends would be like if I was always at liberty to buy 1970’s home decor while scoffing Korean street food and eyeballing the youth all by myself.

It was grand, actually, and I returned home full of the love for the little people.

So, in the spirit of an alternative Mothering Sunday, I suggest taking control with three itineraries for a better day - ideas for a family day out, a day to share with your mates also in need of more than lovingly burnt toast in bed, and a day to yourself - because a holiday from your life is always a good thing.

All the Fam

By all means have a sleep in if you can and of course, enjoy the weak tea and toast on a tray in your bed - there is love in that there clumsy breakfast, and you deserve it. But don’t linger - ask someone else to organise shoes and coats and get out. First stop is 20 Fenchurch Street (aka the Walkie-Talkie building) — book in advance for a free and exhilarating elevator ride up to the odd, beautiful SkyGarden at the top.

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At 35 floors up, the SkyGarden offers a 360 degree view of the city with an observation deck, a cafe and three floors of landscaped gardens, so the kids can wander around and you can pretend they are not yours for a few minutes at least.

Back down the lift for a little half hour walk to Maltby Street market for lunch. This is a small but excellently curated market with stalls and little indoor cafes with sourdough breads and donuts from St John’s Bakery, burgers, brownies, the brilliant Monty’s Deli salt beef sandwiches and chocolate babka, as well as craft beers and a very nice G&T place. It gets crowded, so keep the kids close.

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A little walk away near City Hall is a series of water features to have a bit of a splash in - four monolithic blocks of blue limestone that have water emerging and then neatly spilling over the edges, a fountain of 200 whitewater jets and a long 260 meter stream cut into the pavement, designed to maximise the effect of flowing, rippled water, perfect for dipping into. All of this feels like finding a hidden playground, which will keep the kids happy for a bit - and yes, it is still a little cold, but go with it.

With Your Pals

What better reason to get together with your buddies and run away for an afternoon than Mother’s Day? Book a table at Honey & Co in Fitzrovia - a small but utterly gorgeous cafe with cheerful staff, tiny little tables, great food, perfect coffee and the very best cake selection in the city. There are cheesecakes, tahini babka, lemony slabs, cherried pistachio slices, coffee and walnut tiered cake, fig bread, all beautifully arranged on the long window display begging to be tried - this place knows how to bring joy to the eye and to the stomach.

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Take your elevated post-cake mood for a shift - walk to the nearby Foundling Museum for a bit of sober contemplation and to remind yourself that your kids are not *abandoned*, rather, they are just not with you right at the moment, which is a very important difference.

The Foundling Museum has various exhibitions and displays in the old building, and tells the history of the Foundling Hospital, the UK’s first children’s charity and first public art gallery.

Cheer yourself up after that with a drink in Soho - the Rum Kitchen in Carnaby Street has cocktails for five quid between 5 and 7 pm. Then get home after they have been put to bed. WINNING!

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By Yourself

The greatest gift you could give yourself this Mother’s Day could well be a whole day by yourself. I used to fantasise about this when my kids were smaller and their demands greater, thinking about the joy of spending hours riffling through charity shops searching for forgotten and unloved Chanel jackets (the Holy Grail right there) and long reads of the Sunday papers in a stylish little cafe ordering flat white after flat white without people needing me for increasingly annoying nonsense.

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You could go to a movie by yourself - there are a number gorgeous independent theatres around London like The Electric, The Picturehouse Theatres or Everyman Cinemas, all attentive to detail and atmosphere. I am also partial to a cheap mani pedi - there’s a fantastic place opposite the Waitrose on Westbourne Grove in Bayswater called (wait for it…) Nails Design.

They do a full razor of your horrible heels and a perfect pedicure and manicure that just doesn't shift after weeks of being back on mother-duty, all for a measly 23 quid. The best bit is that they ignore you entirely - you read so-bad-they’re-good magazines while they chatter to each other and no one demands anything of you except payment at the end. 

For a little post-heel-surgery boost, further up the road is London’s oldest bath house The Porchester Spa dating from 1929 - with steam rooms, sauna, Turkish baths, monsoon shower, plunge pool and a ‘relaxation lounge’. There are more glamorous places to go for some time out, but this one has a quiet sort of charm. Back along Westbourne Grove there are some lovely little shops to wander through like Space NK or the new Decleor boutique, and a variety of places to eat and drink and read by yourself.

For an end of day massage, the best and most well-priced is found at OM Thai Massage & Spa in Chepstow Road.

After this, you can’t help but return to your kids beaming with love for them, shimmering with good health, with sleek feet and a vintage jacket or two. That’s my kind of Mother’s Day.