We’ve all had those Saturday mornings that drift by leaving us with a sense that we didn’t really make the most of them. Or been left flying solo at the weekend with the kids while the other half heads into the office. So what if we could sign the little people up for exciting, weekly activities that give them a taste of the seemingly limitless options for children to do here in Dubai whilst you take a bit of a breather? Catch up on emails? Tackle the to-do list? Enter new adventure company, Touring Tykes. One word? Result.
Mum of two, Sophie Bogdis Gamble, whose other business as a party planner meant her husband was left with two kids under four to entertain most Saturdays, decided to create Touring Tykes as a way to support other working parents who struggle to juggle time at the weekend. Or those who are looking for ways their kids can try out a new activity or experience under safe supervision, without the pressure of having to dream up something new themselves every week. Consider that pressure now gone.
“My business takes me away from the home nearly every weekend and I just knew there must be others in similar positions who might be interested in a way to keep their kids entertained but learn something at the same time,” Bogdis Gamble explains. “We launched in September this year and we’ve had a really positive response, with eight tours done so far to places such as Manushe Street for a cooking class and Dubai Drums to try that out as well.”
Parents can sign children aged three to five up for a term of excursions that will take their kids on a range of adventures to places all over the city every Saturday morning. A licensed school bus provider collects the Touring Tykes from Al Barsha Pond park at 9am sharp, returning at 12 noon and the kids are supervised by qualified, experienced child carers throughout.
Touring Tykes has been a real help for working mum Zainab, who has her own creative agency and finds it difficult to manage the demands of her business with childcare at the weekend. She signed son Arnav up for the first term and reveals how much he is enjoying himself so far. “He’s a fairly quiet boy, but every Saturday morning he wakes up, excited to go on a new tour and tells me all about it when he gets back so they must be doing something right!”
This month, Time Out Kids joined the Touring Tykes at perhaps the most exciting tour of the term – Fuzziwigs Candy Factory at Riverland, Dubai Parks and Resorts. Six curious three, four and five-year-olds are greeted by Fuzziwigs’ owner, Dr Rana Batterjee, who takes them on a journey around the huge pick ‘n’ mix vats lining the walls, past the vast jelly bean tubes, the packets of popping candy and retro corn candy-flavoured chews to the enticing display of homemade fudge and caramel apples, learning about the history of some of the most famous confectionary brands on the planet as they go.
Then, it’s time for the children to don the hairnets (cue copious amounts of giggling) and head into the kitchen to make chocolate-dipped, giant pretzels. Fuzziwigs pride themselves on whipping up deliciously fresh homemade melted chocolate and caramel and the staff patiently help every child safely dip and stir their pretzel, roll it in chocolate sprinkles and lay it on the baking paper to dry.
“The tours have been a fantastic way for people to come into the store and really experience what we have to offer here,” says Batterjee. “We have had everyone from school groups to families and even corporate groups on team building days – and now the Touring Tykes!”
“We are passionate about our customers being able to taste, smell, try and see everything,” Batterjee continues. “We import hundreds of brands from all over the world, many of which you can’t find anywhere else in Dubai and some that evoke such nostalgic memories of people’s own
The Touring Tykes take a snack break and then they’re back in the store for the final part of their trip – the pick ‘n’ mix, where staff help them fill their goody bags to take home. Saturday mornings have never been so much fun!