TV presenter Konnie Huq chats to us about her favourite spots in the capital, and what her kids think of her first-ever children’s book
Where is home for you?
We live in Ealing, and I really love it there. What’s great is that it feels like its own little town, but you can get everywhere else so quickly; getting into Central London is really easy, and we’re not too far from the countryside, either. There’s a really nice mix of shops as well, from big chains to little independent boutiques.
Have you got any favourite ‘hidden gems’ in London?
Northala Fields in Northolt is amazing for families. It’s an enormous park with four artificial hills, which were made using the rubble from the demolition of Wembley Stadium, and when you stand on the top of the biggest hill, you get this incredible view over London. There’s also fishing lakes, where you can take kids for fishing lessons, and a huge children’s adventure playground, which is great for picnics on sunny days. It’s introducing wildlife back to the area, too.
What are your favourite days out with your kids when you’re in London?
Kew Gardens is one of the best places to go. It’s just so vast, and you can always find new things there that you’ve never seen before. They also have a Children’s Garden, and loads of lovely art exhibitions. I really recommend the Marianne North Gallery, which is filled with fantastic paintings.
And the best place to eat as a family?
If you’re in Central London, and particularly if your kids are into any kind of tech or gaming, there’s the Pan-Asian restaurant, Inamo, which has these brilliant interactive tables. You can order your food on them, play games while you wait for your food, and you can even spy on the chef’s in the kitchen via video cameras. It’s more of a ‘treat’ place rather than somewhere to go all the time, but it’s a fun novelty for the kids.
You’ve just released your first children’s book, Cookie! …and the Most Annoying Boy in the World. What inspired you to write it?
When I left Blue Peter, I was approached by so many people about writing a children’s book, but the timing has never felt quite right until now. I think working on the Blue Peter Book Awards for all those years and having my own children has given me a really good insight into what kids like reading and what’s out there already. The response has been positive so far, though, and people have told me that Cookie is a very unique character! She’s kind of like an exaggerated version of me from when I was growing up; she’s very creative and zany.
Cookie has a passion for learning new things. Were you like that as a child?
Definitely. My parents moved to the UK in the 1960s from Bangladesh, and the revered professions from growing up in that kind of culture were accountancy or engineering, whereas over here, people tend to aspire to be on the TV! A lot of children in Bangladesh grow up without a formal education, too, so there was always a big focus on school and learning in our family.
What do your children think about the book?
My seven year old, Covey, absolutely loves it. Huxley, who’s five, does as well, though he’s a little young for it. He’s had bits of the book read to him and he understands the humour, which I suppose is a good thing!
What other books do you enjoy reading to your children?
Covey is into The 13-Storey Treehouse, which is a series of funny, illustrated stories about these two boys who live in a treehouse, and all sorts of wacky things happen there. Huxley and I have just been reading The Twits by Roald Dahl, and we’re going to try the Elephant and Piggie series next. It’s so simple but hilarious, and Huxley can read some of it by himself.
Any plans for the summer holidays?
We had tickets to go to Latitude Festival in Henham Park, Suffolk, in July, and that’s really family-friendly. There’s so much for kids to do there.
What else have you got in the pipeline for the rest of this year?
I’m starting a new podcast for BBC Sounds, which is all about social media, so that’ll be interesting. It’s not targeted at a particular age group, but we’ll have different guests on each week looking at social media habits, usage and addiction. For now, though, I’m focusing on getting Cookie out into the world!
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