I met Uju back in 2012. We were both at an event the related to the London Olympics. We have been following each other ever since. Last year Uju published the book entitled ‘Bringing Up Race: How to Raise a Kind Child in a Prejudiced World’. Frankly, it’s the book I wish I had when I was a first time mum. “Bring Up Race” made me realise I wasn’t alone in my fears and frustration BUT there are ways to cope. In this feature, Uju shares with us what it’s like to live in London, and where her local gem is.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a London Nigerian mum who blogs at Babes about Town, a city guide for adventurous and fun-loving families who want to find cool things to do in London and beyond. I have two sons who used to be the stars of my blog, although they don’t feature so much now they’re in their teens and tweens. I also have a stepson in his 20s. As well as blogging, I’m a creative consultant, screenwriter and author. My book Bringing Up Race: How to Raise a Kind Child in a Prejudiced World came out in September 2020 and will be published in North America on May 4, 2021.
How long have you been living in your town/city?
I’ve lived here for decades having moved to the UK as a child. I relocated a few times in my twenties but, after a spell in Lagos, returned to London when I was married and pregnant. We’ve lived in Islington for 15 years.
Coronavirus and Life in London
How has the Coronavirus impacted the way you travel around your town/city?
It’s been a total shutdown. A friend of mine was telling me how much she missed visiting London and I told her ‘I miss visiting London too and I live here’! I’m very fortunate in that our neighbourhood is really scenic, it’s easy to get around and there are lots of spaces to explore even while social distancing. But I miss the buzz of London culture, restaurants and cinema.
Have you discovered anything new about your town/city while living in lockdown?
Seeing footage of London with hardly any people in it is quite an unforgettable sight. Getting to do virtual tours and visit online performances gives you a new appreciation for certain places and activities. However, it also reminds us of how much of London is still not that accessible or affordable for all its citizens.
What You Should Know About London
What’s one thing people should know about your town/city before visiting?
There really is no place like London. It’s possibly the most cosmopolitan place on earth although it can be ridiculously expensive. However, you can do lots of really cool stuff for free if you look around and plan ahead. For instance, there’s a wealth of history and culture in museums across the city and most of them don’t charge an entrance fee.
What is the biggest event on your town/city cultural calendar?
I would say either the New Year’s Eve fireworks on the South Bank or the Notting Hill Carnival.
After the pandemic, I’m really not sure we’re going to see a return of either of these events which is a huge shame. Especially Carnival which I haven’t been to in years but I have so many fond memories from there.
When you are out and about with your family where do you like to go?
We’re a foodie family so we love going out to eat. My husband runs a popular street food brand, Big Apple Hot Dogs, although he mostly does wholesale and private catering these days. But we still enjoy visiting street food markets, like the South Bank market or Kerb at King’s X. We like to have breakfast on the odd Sunday at a cafe on Chapel Market. As a London blogger, I get a lot of invites and the boys and I have done tons of family arts and theatre reviews. The quality of family theatre we’ve seen, particularly family circus, has been exceptional.
Uju’s Special Place In London
Do you have a hidden gem or special place(s) in town/city? Where is it and why is it your favourite?
The South Bank is my happy place. There’s just always so much to do and you can’t beat those views across the river. I also enjoy sitting by the canal at Granary Square in King’s Cross, when the sun’s out, everybody’s vibing and there’s live music playing from the top of Word on the Water. It’s a floating bookshop that attracts customers from all over the world — just one of the quirky things I love about this city.
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Feature Image photo credit: © visitlondon.com/Jon Reid