I wish I could tell you half of the things. Alice used to say, beginning with her favourite phrase ‘Let’s pretend.‘
– Through the Looking-Glass, ch.1 ‘Looking-Glass house’
How can I sum up the ROH performance of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground? It was like a whirlwind of CRAZY! Just like Alice falling down the dizzying rabbit hole, the performance was a spiralling sensation. I really did not expect the performance to turn out the way it did, but am so happy I got to watch it.
I was invited to attend the press evening performance (Feb 4) with Little Man but unfortunately he was ill that week so I took Little Miss along with me instead. I wasn’t sure what to expect as she is only turning four so I thought it might be a little overwhelming for her but surprisingly she lasted well. You could hear the animated voices of other children in the auditorium who seemed to love it. What’s not to like about a chaotic performance from giant ‘eat me’ cakes, blue ‘drink me’ bottles, four giant crying baby heads and Humpty Dumpty?
A cheeky selfie before the show starts
The spectacular view of the ROH auditorium
We arrived slightly later than planned and the queue to collect tickets was much longer than expected – I was unfortunately not in the right queue! How was I to know?! LOL We made it to our seats in the auditorium stalls (row L) which had great views of the stage. We took a few selfies before settling down for the performance to start.
My thoughts on Alice’s Adventures Under Ground…
This opera is unlike any other; it breaks all the rules. Singers are pushed to the extremes with their vocal ranges (hitting over 30 top ‘C’ notes in the first five minutes of the performance!), Jabberwocky sung in English, Russian and German, and Humpty Dumpty recounts his tragic tale to a rendition of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy… all thanks to Gerald Barry and his clever mish-mash of Alice in wonderland and Alice through the looking-glass.
Alice: Claudia Boyle
The Red Queen: Clare Presland
The White Queen: Hilary Summers
The White Rabbit: Sam Furness
The March Hare: Peter Tantsits
The Cheshire Cat: Mark Stone
Humpty Dumpty : Joshua Bloom
All of the cast above also played various other roles.
A big well done to the cast for their vibrant performance. The fifty-five minute show was a little too short for my liking but at the same time, it was just the right amount of time for families with younger children to enjoy. I really enjoyed it but for Little Miss, she just didn’t get it which was disappointing. I guess it was just too much going on at one time for her. It was her first time watching an opera performance and I’m sure if it was Little Man, he’d probably would’ve thought the same thing. However for him, he’d be able to get by from reading the surtitles – that’s what he did when we went to watch The Lost Thing.
There were also moments that made me burst into laughter. My favourite scene was after Alice went through the looking glass and witnessed the battle between the red knight and white knight. It was hilarious watching the two duelling then falling off their horses, only to apologetically help each other get back on to battle again. Little Miss’ favourite (and recognisable scene) Alice falling d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-down the endless rabbit hole that even she had to catch her breath before meeting the rabbit and the four ‘eat me’ cakes. The four baby heads which represented the four bottles totally threw us both off which was quite funny very weird! I really don’t remember that scene from Alice in Wonderland at all!
“Beware the Jabberwock, my son
The jaws that bit, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”
“When Alice tumbles down into the Rabbit Hole into Wonderland… she meets a successions of strange characters in unusual situations… Following the trial of the Knave of Hearts – accused of stealing the Queen’s tarts – Alice finds herself in Looking Glass Land…
Here, Alice becomes a Queen herself.”
The story is told in a most peculiar yet enchanting way. Lewis Carroll would’ve been appreciative of this wonderful approach. There’s singing, shouting, speaking, growling and squealing alongside the orchestra accompaniment. With two performances a night for 6 nights, it’s pretty intense. The show itself was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it type of performance. It’s fast, it’s wild and it’s fantastic. If you missed it (it went by as quickly as its performance dates) then I hope the Royal Opera House will put this opera on again next year.
It’s definitely one not to be missed. 🙂
For a more formal take on the show, you can check out British Theatre Guide’s review from Vera Liber who I met at the last ROH performance I’d attended. Unfortunately I didn’t bump into her that night but if she’s reading this, I send my love and warm greetings!
With the lead-up to Christmas, I always end up taking forever to write up my Black Friday beauty box. You may remember a few years ago I finally wrote my 2016 Black Friday box review… a year later! LOL It’s a mix between procrastination, being busy with family and the children (I had Little Miss in April 2016) and then being sleep-deprived meant that anything I did, I took like a million years to do so. I’m a little faster this year, only a month out! Haha! 🙂
The Black Friday Edit box: first impressions…
On first impressions, the box looks pretty fancy!
I really like the black and gold marble design and the gold text ‘The Black Friday Edit‘ adds modernity to the box. I can’t seem to find the 2017 design however the ‘Back for Black’ 2018 was super sleek and was actually my favourite design but I never bought the box.
I’m happy with the design of this year’s box and the products look really good. I can see one repeat product (the eyeliner) from last year but the others are new. I think for 2020 I would love to see a new design however something similar to this year’s or last year’s would be fantastic. Now let’s get on to the products…
Dr Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Exfoliating Moisturiser
Eve Lom Cleanser including facial cloth
Ciaté London Glow-To Highlighter*
We Are Paradoxx Hangover Hair Elixir
Pixi Shea Butter Lip Balm (Scarlet Sorbet)*
Eyeko Eye Do Mini Liner
Seoulista Beauty Charcoal Mask
Naobay Radiance Body Lotion*
Crystal Clear 10-minute Glow mask
The majority of the items are full-sized products. I’ve added a star (*) next to my favourite products which I am still using now. I’ll write a little more below about why I love them so much…
Luxie 504 Large Angled Brush * (my fave!)
I absolutely ADORE this brush! I’m not sure if it’s because of the pretty pink handle or the softness of the synthetic bristles, but I do know it’s a really good brush. One of my favourite angled brushes and currently my go-to for when I need to apply my bronzer or highlighter across cheeks and hollow for contouring. It’s super soft and so easy to use whether you have powder or cream textures.
I can’t seem to find the brush for sale on the LF website, I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s because it’s sold out. There is the Luxie 741 angled contour brush which would be a good alternative.
Dr Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Exfoliating Moisturiser
For a long time I really thought I had combination skin with an oily t-zone. Turned out that my skin isn’t actually oily but dehydrated. When the skin is severely dehydrated (lacking in water, tight-feeling skin) it will start producing excess sebum. To re-balance the skin, I introduced serums and facial oils into my skincare routine which has helped a lot.
Dr. Dennis Gross’ Alpha Beta exfoliating moisturiser is a product that really works. The ingredients list checks out and even though this product does contain silicones (dimethicone! there are other cones too) which I am not keen on but it’s near the end of the ingredients list which is a little more forgiving. The creamy texture is lightweight but hydrating and once applied, my skin feels super smooth and matte soft.
Packed with a cocktail alpha-beta acids and fruit actives, this moisturiser not only hydrates and brightens the skin, it also improves radiance (ginger) and re-balances the sebum production (lavender). When using this moisturiser, I avoid using my usual peeling exfoliator (The Ordinary AHA/BHA peeling solution) on the same day. I’d use my facial oil and day cream in the morning then use the peel in the evening before my night routine. Remember to use a sunscreen during the day when using skincare products with AHA acids (Alpha Hydroxyl Acids; Glycloic, Lactic, Tartaric and Citric).
Also be aware that excessive exfoliation can over-stimulate the skin which can cause uneven skin tone, hyper-pigmentation, sensitivity and redness. So use with caution – you’re using two or more exfoliating products daily or regularly, you could be over-exfoliating.
Eve Lom Cleanser
I’ve heard so much about this Eve Lom cleanser. It’s a trending product and so many beauty magazines rave about it so I was very intrigued to see it in my box. I haven’t tried it out because when I look at the ingredients, the first ingredient is Paraffinum Liquidum… also known as Mineral Oil – same stuff baby oil is made from. Not bad, but it doesn’t scream out luxury to me like how the brand markets itself. They also use lanolin which is a great emollient for dry skin (it’s used in nipple creams) but again, I expect more from Eve Lom. Where’s the high quality oils like rosehip oil, jojoba oil or evening primrose? There’s none.
I’m not impressed… and the 8ml sample size pot is even more laughable.
If you love rich balm cleansers, you’d be better off with the Elemis Pro-Collagen cleansing balm which is only £43.00 for 5g/5ml more (1ml = 1g) and contains skin nourishing oils however you can’t use this product to remove eye makeup. Another great value-for-money alternative is the Trilogy Makeup Be Gone cleansing balm 80ml for £20.50 (more than half the Eve Lom price!) which is on my to-buy list and can be used for both face and eyes. Winner!
Ciaté London Glow-To Highlighter (shade: Celestial) *(my fave!)
The packaging of this highlighter is so pretty. The Ciaté Glow-To highlighter is a powder texture, almost baked-like. The Celestial shade is beautiful (an iridescent peach/gold shade) and perfect for my medium olive skin tone. Little Miss likes putting this stuff on herself too and it also looks beautiful on her caramel complexion. The shimmer is very strong so you really only need a light sweep and you’ll be good to go!
I liked brushing it over the top of my nose, under the brow bone and lightly dab over cheekbones. The little mirror is really helpful and a useful tool for anyone who likes doing their makeup/touch-ups as they go. Be careful as it does crumble easily, well… mine did anyway.
We Are Paradoxx Hangover Hair Elixir Free from parabens, PEGs, sulphates, perfume, mineral oil and toxins.
I’ve not used this leave-in hair treatment just yet but will get round to trying it once I’ve washed my hair. I’m glad that Look Fantastic are including more vegan-friendly products in their beauty boxes. The We Are Paradoxx hair elixir contains silica and alcohol which is also why I am a little hesitant to try out the product. It does says that the alcohol content comes from the Irish whiskey and the silica (natural quartz, absorbs moisture) – which is different from silicone (a synthetic plastic). The hair elixir isn’t exactly CG-friendly but if you decide to give it a go, see how your hair reacts then make sure you give your hair a good cleanse the next wash day with a low-poo cleanser or an ACV (apple cider vinegar) or rice water rinse.
Infused with shea butter, this Pixi lip balm keeps my lips soft and hydrated throughout the day. I do find that I have to re-apply but no more than my usual lip balm. The Scarlet Sorbet is really pretty like a bitten lip red colour but because it’s a lip balm, it’s more of a subtle tint than full on pigment.
It’s one of my favourite product because it’s something I can use daily and it does the job very well at keeping my lips moist. I also like using it in-between top-ups with my Doucce liquid lipstick (fave shades are rusty red and red velvet). It’s one of the best tinted lip balms that I’ve tried and is a staple item in my beauty bag.
Eyeko Eye Do Mini Liner
So this eyeliner is the only product that made it into both last year and this year’s box. Perhaps people just really love the Eyeko Eye Do eyeliner! I think I had this product from another beauty box before and did enjoy using it. I never got the chance to use it this time round as Little Miss got her hands on my box when I was at work one day and decided to use it like a marker pen… then left the lid off. Yep, it died that same day which is sad times as it seems like a really good eyeliner.
I love pens as they give the user much more control when drawing the line. Liquid brushes create the best thin lines but are so tricky to get right and when you’re short on time, it’s way to fiddly. If you like doing your makeup on the go, I’d recommend using a pen like this one by Eyeko.
Seoulista Beauty Charcoal Mask Free from parabens, sulphates, mineral oil and artificial colours.
Seoulista is a Korean skincare brand and everybody knows how amazing Korean skincare is so what’s not to love about this natural purifying face mask? Get a thorough deep-cleanse without stripping the skin thanks to the charcoal and volcanic ash extract. Unfortunately my skin is too dehydrated to use this mask so I’ve given it a miss.
Seoulista offer a few other types: super-hydration (hydration) version as well as a gold glow (anti-ageing) and brightening (radiance) so I’ll have to get my hands on one of these instead!
Naobay Radiance Body Lotion *(my fave!)
I love this body lotion so much. It’s lightweight but totally hydrating on the skin… no wonder why it’s completely sold out on Look Fantastic! Hopefully they will restock this item soon as I’m sure many people will be chomping at the ankles for this.
Naobay is a natural skincare and body care brand hailing from Australia. I do love my Aussie natural skincare brands! Enriched with olive oil, shea butter and avocado oil, Naobay’s radiance body lotion is going to leave your body feeling super soft and nourished. The soothing aloe vera extract helps to calm and protect the skin, this lotion would be gorgeous in the summer.. better stock up now!
Crystal Clear 10 Minute Glow
Another sold out product on Look Fantastic! This peel-off mask is said to work its magic on your skin in just 10 minutes, leaving you with a radiant glow. Again, it’s another deep cleansing product so a pass from me but lots of people seem to love it. You can choose to apply this Crystal Clear 10mins glow mask over the whole face or just on targeted areas ie nose, forehead, chin.
With alcohol denat present, I would assume that this product will leave your skin feeling ‘squeaky clean’ and matte soft. Just be careful if you have skin that’s a little on the dehydrated side as it will make it drier.
…and that’s a wrap!
I hope you enjoyed this beauty unboxed review – I really love reviewing beauty boxes but I get so lazy to write it all up! I guess one of my new year’s resolution can be to make sure I always review my unboxing. I need to find a better way putting up the content because I can never get those beautifully curated shots like other beauty bloggers. When you have two messy-wild kids to manage, the house is always a state and I’d be lucky to find a corner of peace where I can shoot from… however, there is a little co-working space next door to me so I might have to take a look and see what they can offer. 🙂
So you want to hear a story? Yrots a raeh ot tnaw uoy os?
Last week we were invited along to attend a showing of The Lost Thing at the Royal Opera House. As the show was suitable for children aged 6+ I was allowed to bring a plus one and naturally, I took Little Man with me. We don’t go to the theatre regularly and normally when we do go, it’s usually to our local Greenwich Theatre (which is fantastic for families!) so going to a fancy one like the Royal Opera House, I had to make sure my little monster was going to be on his best behaviour.
We attended the evening performance (7.15PM) but there are days when a matinee performance is showing. We made our way from North Greenwich to Covent Garden easily and just missed the rush hour period as we set off around 5PM. When we arrived at the Royal Opera House, we were ‘greeted’ by the doorman (they just opened the door, no smiles and we were the first to initiate the actual greeting, but hey ho) who showed us the way to the reception desk. Looking around I could see why we were not as warmly welcomed as we would be at our little Greenwich Theatre. The majority of the ROH attendees are mostly older, mostly middle-class and attended without children. A totally different demographic than what we’re used to seeing.
As we headed downstairs to the Linbury Theatre, it was a little less intimidating as we saw more families and young children. Little Man didn’t notice anything but as a parent, I feel like the theatre should be a more welcoming place for those with young children. Perhaps if we had attended a matinee performance it would’ve probably felt less judging as we usually associate evening shows with adult guests rather than young families.
As we were a little early, we decided to head back up and have a look around the small gift shop. We bought a laser-light keyring and a ballet pump keyring for Little Miss. We then headed back downstairs to the cafe outside the Linbury Theatre and had a hot chocolate and a brownie which satisfied our sweet craving.
What is The Lost Thing?
The Lost Thing is a picture book written and illustrated by Shaun Tan. It became one of his bestselling books worldwide and well-recognised in the literature world. The story is about a boy who discovers ‘The Thing’ which doesn’t seem to belong to anything in particular, making it ‘lost’. In the book, The Thing looks very mechanical and is orange-red with greenish metal claws and legs whereas in the theatre production, it’s more organic and living with a green, moss-like body and ever-changing number of legs.
In this theatrical adaptation by Ben Wright and Jules Maxwell (from Candoco Dance Company, a world-leading professional dance company) we are treated to a different kind of storytelling; one that’s filled with not only music but also theatrical singing, opera and dance along the way. ‘Mixing it up’ is definitely a good way of exposing children of this new generation to a variety of performing arts.
Review: The Lost Thing at Royal Opera House
Despite the lukewarm review of the show being “too static and slow” from The Guardian online, I much agree with the reviews from Culture Whisper and British Theatre Guide. The performance was pleasantly executed, and provided both children and adults with some true thought-provoking moments. In the programme booklet they gave me, it mentions that The Thing in the performance is not meant to replicate Tan’s illustration but instead, represents something living and organic. The Thing can shape-shift changing from two legs to eight legs, growing larger or smaller depending on its mood.
“We wanted to take it in a completely different direction and build on the skeleton of the story, which is about celebrating difference, supporting what is lost, and potentially contemplating what we are losing. We decided to shift the nature of The Thing itself to be this odd, biodiverse, many-limbed organism…“ –Ben Wright, interviewed by Lyndsey Winship
I can understand why there may be some disappointment as to why the original story was never followed through completely but then again, adapting a picture book into an opera/theatrical performance is not ordinary neither. The story lines is minimal but I think that makes it easy for children to understand. There’s also surtitles and audio description for those hard of hearing. The diverse cast are fantastic – all extremely talents and a good mix of both disabled and non-disabled dancers, musicians, singers.
I thought the interpretation of The Thing as something organic and living, familiar yet somehow forgotten, was like a metaphorical example of the world we live in today. There is a scene where The Boy almost hands The Thing over to the odds and ends department, but then a janitor appears and strongly advises against it, saying that things left there get permanently forgotten. We then see the janitor being comforted by The Thing and feeling happy that it’s in his presence. It reminded me of how happy and content we once were to just enjoy simple things ie. nature but now we’re constantly fixated on our phones and devices.
“In the book, the denouement is that it finds a place where it belongs. In our version that place is a very saturated, green, mossy jungle…” –Ben Wright, interviewed by Lyndsey Winship
Summary: my thoughts on The Lost Thing
Little Man loved the performance and has asked to go back to watch The Thing come to life again. We will aim to go before the new year. He also lost his thing (a small toy) there at the theatre, which has now become his ‘lost thing’ – now isn’t that a story within a story for you?
I loved the story so much that I ordered the picture book online for Little Man, he instantly recognised the book from the ochre colour scheme and enjoyed reading it however he told me that he much prefers the ending that he saw in the opera adaptation.
The Lost Thing is showing until January 4th 2020 and tickets are between £7.00-£35.00 for a seat, how can you resist a familiar yet story?
You can watch the video of Shaun Tan’s story here:
P I N T H I S P O S T
[AD] We were given complimentary tickets to attend the performance of The Lost Thing at the Royal Opera House in exchange for this review post. All opinions and content are in my own words and photos that have been used are credited to their sources respectively.
This winter is the best time for us to get our skates on and unleash our inner figure skater vibes! I cannot skate but that doesn’t stop me getting on the ice. I try to go at least once every year and each year I tell myself that I will take up skating and get better… but like NY resolutions, the feeling and motivation disperses and I’m left saying the same thing year on year.
I’ve taken it upon myself to give myself a Christmas mission and visit 5 beautiful and magical ice rinks in London. Below are my favourite five rinks which are all outdoors so you can enjoy the stunning views of majestic surrounding buildings.
There are so many ice skating rinks in London to visit but here are a few a good places to start you off…
Somerset House is mainly known for hosting London Fashion Week/Weekend events but every winter they also put on a spectacular ice skating arena, especially if you visit late afternoon/evening time when the lights are on. There’s a big Christmas tree as the centrepiece, plus having the building as a backdrop for your skate is simply amazing.
A few days I went with one of my work girls to skate and we really enjoyed ourselves. It really is a stunning location but get ready to see a lot of couples skating together, a lot of newbies clinging onto the edge of the rink and more experienced skaters showing off their moves in the middle of the rink. There’s no skate aids here apart from for young children so I wouldn’t recommend skating here if you’ve never been on the ice as you will just be clinging onto the sides of the rink for the whole session. I am not great on the ice and found it quite challenging without any skate aids but managed to get by a little although I had to have lots of resting time in between because my legs got tired… Real quick. Also it gets quite busy on the ice but really feels festive and enjoyable.
They play good music on the ice and the lights change colour which creates a lovely skating atmosphere. Sessions are 45 mins which is a good amount of skate time. The skates for hire are really good quality and I’ve found lace-up skates to be extremely comfy compared to the standard clip-in ones.
Adult tickets are from £11 for the 45mins session which includes skate hire. Arrive at least 15mins early to drop off your bags at the hut (first bag/item is free, £2 per item thereafter). Then go into the other hut to collect your skates. There’s also Skate Lates from 8pm where you can enjoy skating listen to the latest hits and some classics from the venue’s DJ. Good vibes!
Based at the foot of a UNESCO Heritage site, voted as UK’s Top 10 visitors attraction the Queen’s House in Greenwich is one of the most beautiful places in London. The ice rink here is the only outdoor rink in South East London and is beautiful to skate around. This year, the rink at Canary Wharf has not been brought back so this is currently our closest ice skating rink.
We had the pleasure of skating here on its launch event (you can read our ice skating review here) which was fantastic. The kids had such a wonderful time and I am so glad to have an ice rink so local to us! For me, this rink comes in as a close second behind Somerset House because even though it is an amazing rink with really magical views, the skates let me down – they are the really cheap clip on ones which hurt my feet so bad. The good thing about this rink is that they have not one, but TWO types of skate aids for you to choose from. A penguin aid for less confident skaters and the banana aid (seen below) which is ideal for tiny skaters and complete first-timers. The banana aid is really fun but for those pushing the aid around, it’s hard work! Get ready to burn extra calories with that thing.
A night – or late afternoon skate here would be stunning. As you can see from the image above, the Queen’s House lit up at night is really something. It looks magical and so festive! The rink doesn’t get overly busy too which is great as it means more space on the ice to go round. Tickets are from £13.50 for adults and from £6.75 for kids, unfortunately there are no family tickets but if you’re a Royal Musuems Greenwich member, you can take advantage of their discounted tickets.
South Kensington is well known for their museums and now every winter, for their ice skating too! Passing here last winter with Little Man I thought about taking him on the ice but unfortunately he’s not a big fan as I am with ice skating so we gave it a miss. I’m planning to head out this year with Little Miss as the ice rink is small but good enough for parents with young families. There is a morning parent & toddler skating session which includes skating, skate hire and a free hot drink for both… of course we will opt for the hot chocolate option! 🙂
This rink is on my list to take the kids once we break up for Christmas holidays. It looks like it’ll be a good one and a skate by the NHM would be a delight! Naturally, we’ll head into the museum after for a little look around and lunch at their cafe or a nearby restaurant. Adult tickets are from £12.65 and tickets for children start from £8.80. There’s also a reduced family ticket for four cost from £39.60.
Every Friday evening from 7-8pm, fragrance brand Viktor&Rolf will be transforming the ice rink into a Flowerbomb fantasy. Join in as they turn the ice pink, hang sparkling baubles from the Christmas tree and the infuse the air with their new Flowerbomb fragrance.
Situated in the gardens of Henry VIII’s historic home, the Hampton Court Palace outdoor rink offers you the chance to glide across the ice whilst being surrounded by spectacular views of the amazing Tudor palace. This scenic skate is perfect for all skaters from complete beginners to the advanced. Skate aids are available, and just like at Queen’s House you can choose from the penguin or the banana.
Tickets are slightly pricier than the other rinks already mentioned (apart from Somerset House) from £15.00 per adult and £10.50 per child. This will have to be a solo skate for me or with friends as it’s slightly out of reach for us and to be frank, the prices are a little more dear. From the images on their website, I can see that people are wearing the blue clip-on skates… a big turn off for me however that view does look really appealing. There’s also a cafe bar by the rink so you can grab a hot drink and something to eat before or after your time on the ice. 🙂
Skating around an outdoor bandstand playing live music? What more could you ask for! This rink looks pretty amazing in the day time and at night, even more special. When I visited this rink with my girl friends, unfortunately it was a very wet evening and we all got caught in the rain. It was only a mist but so much water pooled onto the ice, it made me really nervous with skating on it. However it wasn’t all bad – the wet ice actually made it easier to glide and skate but it was certainly more slippery in some areas of the ice as the rain froze over.
There are penguin skate aids at this rink for hire £5 per aid which I bought but ended up not using. There were many families on the ice that couldn’t really skate but didn’t want to put money out to get an aid and were really struggling. I ended up giving my penguin to a young child who skated with his mum and sister who were also inexperienced skaters.
There was a professional photographer on the ice when we skated so be aware that staff will tell you that you can’t take photos on the ice – because they want you to obviously purchase theirs so if you must take a photo like we did, make it snappy and do it discreetly.There was also live music; we had a singer performing with her guitar. Her acoustic renditions of Christmas songs were mellow, festive and added perfect ambience to our wet skating session. We enjoyed our 45 minute skate and of course, my feet got blistered from the clip-on skates which were in really bad condition. They had the worst skates compared to the rinks at Somerset House and the Queen’s House.
Apparently Hyde Park’s rink prides itself as the largest outdoor rink in the UK I can’t tell you for certain. From photos, I thought the Hampton Court rink looks bigger but I won’t know until I go there myself. As soon as I can tell you, I’ll let you guys know. 😉
Okay, I know my post title says Top 5 but think of this as your bonus ice rink location because I couldn’t disregard it.
Tower of London is one of the Historic Royal Palaces in London (like Hampton Court Palace) and a very popular attraction for visitors in the UK and overseas. You can skate outside the fortress and admire the beautiful ambience as it’s lit up in the evening.
Prices are similar to Hampton Court; from £15 for adults and from £10.50 for children. For me, this one will be a miss but I’m sure it’ll be a great visit if you’re a History buff. Skate aids can also be hired here (must be booked in advance) but their website doesn’t specify what kind of skate aids are available.
I hope you enjoyed this little round-up posts of my top 5 magical outdoor ice rinks in London. Have you visited any ice skating rinks this year or perhaps you’re looking to go soon before Christmas? Leave me a comment if you have any other recommendations of open-air ice rinks in London too! x
When I was a young girl, my father decided that he wanted me to develop musical talent. Lucky for him, I wasn’t too bad at it and was able to pick up playing piano quite easily. Unfortunately, I stopped playing piano around the time I was doing my GCSEs because I felt like it was all too overwhelming for me. In hindsight I am a gutted I didn’t carry on but that’s life and my priorities were different to what my dad wanted/expected them to be. To this day however, I still enjoy listening to piano music and admire those who play it.
The Aurora Orchestra at King’s Place
The Aurora Orchestra create interactive, musical storytelling concerts aimed at under 5s. This was something unheard of to me but I thought the chance to exposing my little ones to classical music early on would be a great idea. The only other time the kids got close to hearing classical music was when they were still inside the womb and I’d occasionally put on classic.fm for them to listen to.
The Aurora Orchestra are currently performing their new storytelling concert, Beethoven and the Dinosaurs at King’s Place in Kings Cross and last week, I went along with Little Man. He’s six so older than the recommended age but I didn’t mind and neither did he! The Orchestra will be there until the end of this week then they’ll be back again in February to perform Chopin and the Dragonfly. You can also go on Youtube and have a little look at how the concerts are performed: https://youtu.be/GPjSTd-moZ4
A little bit of participation from the grown-ups is always good fun but the Aurora Orchestra team are really good at retaining the children’s attention. The concert was 45mins long was was definitely long enough. Each musician had their own solo part to play which was lovely; our musician trio was made up of the flute, the cello and the piano.
The following pieces by Beethoven had been specially arranged for the concert:
Symphony No. 4
Symphony No. 6
Bagatelle Op. 33 No. 2
Symphony No. 6
Piano Concerto No. 3
Moonlight Sonata pt. 1 & 2
Piano Sonata No. 2 in A major
Symphony No. 7 (adapted)
Piano trio Op. 1 No. 1
All of the children really loved the concert. They were all so attentive, there was only one outburst from a teary child but he soon settled after seeing some more dinosaurs appear. We had moments of dancing and laughter especially towards the end when the storyteller asked the children what dance move could the dinosaurs do and a little girl shouted out “pooing” it was refreshing to see the storyteller going along with it. 🙂
The concert is on show from December 1-8 so don’t miss out on booking your tickets for Sunday if you want to check it out. As it’s in King’s Cross you can make a day out of it with the family by heading over to the British Library. Check their website for timings and prices. A family ticket for 4 (2 adults 2 kids, or 1 adult 3 kids) cost just £23.50 which is great value.
I am really looking forward to the next concert, Chopin and the Dragonfly (in February) so I can take Little Miss with me to experience the concert. I think it’s brilliant how they can weave these classical pieces into stories and make it fun and immersive for the children. We’ll be going on a weekday as I’m at work on the weekends but hopefully that should mean less crowds for us to battle on our commute!
About: Far, Far Away series
Far, Far Awayis Aurora Orchestra’s series of immersive storytelling concerts for young children aged 0–5 and their families. These interactive musical adventures bring to life music by a particular composer or style of music, weaving together live performance, an original story by critically-acclaimed poet Kate Wakeling (Aurora Writer-in-Residence), and a set design built around the audience and musicians. Audiences are invited to step inside each story through guided listening, singing, dancing, holding props and much more, becoming immersed in a magical world of music, language, discovery and play. Some past Far, Far Away productions have been Beethoven and the Dinosaurs, Tchaikovsky and the Marvellous Kingdom, and Bach and the Noisy Night-time.
Queen’s House Greenwich Ice Rink
Dates: 29 November 2019 – 12 January 2020
(closed Dec 25)
Winter time is the only season where I need no excuses to drink my body weight in hot chocolate and look like a Michelin-man. I’m loving all of the fluffy layers, borg-lined jackets and teddy-fleece fabrics this year. It’s been a real long time since I’ve skated however this past week I have been going regularly to ice skating rinks around London. In an upcoming review, I’ll be sharing my favourite outdoor ice rinks in London with you so look out for that soon.
For the past few years living in the area, there’s always been an ice rink in Greenwich. Greenwich is a lovely little town that draws people from near and far to come and sample its culture and cuisine. The Queen’s House is a part of the Royal Museums Greenwich, one of the UK’s Top 10 visitor attractions. It’s also a UNESCO protected Heritage site and has been beautifully preserved.
The National Maritime Museum is next door and they have a wonderful under 5s play area that’s free to drop-in. Across the road is the Old Royal Naval College where you’ll find the newly renovated Painted Hall. Just behind the attraction is Greenwich Park and a short but steep climb up the hill, you’ll find The Royal Observatory. The last remaining tea-clipper, the Cutty Sark, is a short walk away and so is the popular Greenwich Market. On Wednesdays, there’s a toddlers soft-play session under the ship.
If you have a young child, you can really make a day out of your visit by combining a few things to do together. Check out this post of when we went along to the Toddler Time session at Cutty Sark. There’s also lots of interesting events going on at Greenwich market over the Christmas period so be sure to check out their website.
Ice skating in Greenwich
We were kindly invited along to the opening launch of the Queen’s House Ice Rink. Apparently this Greenwich outdoor ice rink is the only one in South London There wasn’t many of us there which made it a lovely first experience for the kids, despite the rainy weather. We will definitely be back in the next week or so for more skating!
We left school and arrived at the National Maritime Museum at 3.40pm, as we were a little early we popped into the museum for a little look around. We could see from the outside that the lighthouse beacon was on and like boats to a lighthouse, we were pulled in by the light. We had a little look around the souvenir shop before heading back out and across over to the Queen’s House. The weather was not too cold but I’d highly recommend dressing the kids up warm for the ice. We warmed up with delicious hot chocolates before or our session but you can also choose from teas, coffees and mulled wine. Snacks and sweet treats are also available.
Skating sessions can be booked in advance online. Prices are from £13.50 for adults and £6.75 for children. The skating sessions are 45 minutes which is pretty standard timing. The prices are also similar to other London outdoor ice rinks. If you add in the benefits of the rink being stunning and on the doorstep of two museums, it’s decent value-for-money. After checking in we went to change into our skates, children’s size starts from infant UK 9, if your child’s feet is smaller than this they offer bob skates which go over your child’s actual footwear.
Skate aids are also available to hire for £5. They have two types of skate aids to choose from; the penguin which is suitable for single beginner skaters and the banana skate aid which is a godsend if you have more than one child. Just pop your little ones on and push them around the ice but be aware, it’s tiring work especially if your kids are older as their weight makes it harder to push and steer if you are also a beginner skater.
Our best moments & highlights…
The stunning background views
When it comes to outdoor ice skating venues, the view has to be one of the highlights. I can confirm that the Queen’s House lit up after dark for our session was truly amazing. It really added to the magical experience. Even if you skated here during daylight hours, I think it would still look just as beautiful. I will be back very soon for a solo skate and will definitely opt for a morning session. During the daytime, the Queen’s House Greenwich is always open and free to enter so make sure you pop in and have a look around at the wonderful artwork and don’t forget to check out its stunning Tulip spiral staircase.
Unfortunately, I get blisters on my feet each time I skate because my feet are flat and over-pronated. If you have a similar condition, make sure you wear thick socks and/or bring some gel cushion pads to avoid excessive rubbing. For me it’s also self-inflicted as even though I can feel my feet are over-rubbing I never get off the ice. Quitting is for losers… haha!
The family-friendly size
The Greenwich ice rink is on the smaller side compared to the likes of Winter Wonderland and Somerset House however I personally think this is much better and safer especially if you have a young family and/or you’re not that confident on the ice. A smaller rink usually means staff can be more attentive and approachable for handy tips and help on the ice. As it’s a newly opened rink, there’s less of a crowd on the ice which gives you a better skating experience however I am yet to go here on a weekend so it might start getting busier as the days go by.
If it’s your first time on the ice, I’d recommend watching some Youtube videos on how to fall safely and how to skate. It’s always important to learn how to fall safely as a bad fall on the ice can really do some damage to your body especially your back and even head. If you’re an experienced skater you can still enjoy the beauty of the rink but may find yourself doing several laps pretty quickly. Not a problem as there’s also less people on the ice so you can practice those backward swizzles and turns. 🙂
A priceless first-time experience
Little Man and Little Miss thoroughly enjoyed their first time on the ice. The laughter and fun and giant smiles on their faces was priceless! For Little Man, it’s technically his second time on the ice but the first time he actually skated. As much as they loved Daddy P and I pushing them around, they were brave enough to get up on the ice and skate with one of us holding their hand. Little Miss seems a natural on the ice, Little Man needs a little more practice to find his feet and his balance.
A local attraction for us
Lucky for us, we now have an ice rink a short walk or bus ride away from us which is fantastic. There’s always so much on offer in Greenwich and I am more that grateful to live in such a wonderful area. I’ll be taking the kids to see Santa once December hits and we’ll surely be back for another skate and visit to the museums. Schools around here break up on December 19th so we’ll have the Friday free to get out and do things.
If you live further afield, Greenwich is only 10 minutes from London Bridge and is very well connected with public transport. I’d advise leaving your car at home as there’s hardly any parking spaces available. You’ve got the national rail close by as well as the DLR, the river boat (Thames Clipper), numerous buses and the underground (Jubilee line) at North Greenwich which is a bus ride away, approx. 2 miles away.
Perfect for intimate skate dates
A smaller, intimate rink also makes a great place to skate for couples wanting a skate date. Daddy P and I have said that we’d like to return to skate together, probably on a school day when both of the kids are still in school so we can have a little bonding time together.
This rink is a great venue for couples however, I wouldn’t recommend considering a skate date if it’s your first time on the ice as what happens is you’ll end up just clinging onto the side of the rink instead of actually skating and having a good time together. Although saying this, at least here you can hire a banana skate aid to help you move so if one of you can skate… you can push the non-skater. 🙂 The other romantic place to skate is Somerset House however they don’t offer any skate aids so avoid going there if you’ve both never skated.
NB. We were invited to the press launch and compensated for our time on the ice in exchange for this blog review. All words, opinions and content are my own and photos must not be used without my consent.
Bank Holidays are fantastic because it’s a day when school’s out and I don’t have to take a day off work to spend it with the kids. We haven’t been able to spend a lot of family time like we used to because I work both weekends now so Last Monday we decided to make the most of it. We headed out to the new VUE cinema that opened up on Eltham high street.
We were invited along to watch a film – we chose Wonder Park. It’s 1hr 28mins long which is a perfect length for two kids under 5. Daddy P and I really wanted to watch Avengers: End Game with the kids but after seeing that the film was 3hrs long, we decided to give that a miss.
From our home in Greenwich, the 286 bus takes us directly outside the cinema in 25-30 mins. If you’re coming from Eltham station it’s a 10mins walk (0.5mi) or short bus ride up the hill. For those that drive, are a few car parking bays on the high street but the nearest car park is at Sainsbury’s directly behind the cinema (£1 p/hr and free after 6.30pm). I really like Eltham as it’s just like Greenwich – totally accessible in south east London. Also, there’s a cheeky Nandos restaurant door which is a bonus!
The cinema is one of the smallest I’ve been to with only six screens however its size doesn’t compromise on its quality and standard. Bank Holidays are really busy so it was only natural to expect lots of people and queues.
The location of VUE Eltham is superb because it’s right on the high street and is so easy to find. You really can’t miss it. If you’re a local, you’ll have no problem finding it. If you’re not then just take any bus that will get you to Eltham high street and it’s a short walk – you can see the big VUE sign anywhere on the high street so you really can’t miss it.
The queues were not that long but it did take us a while to get served. I’m pretty sure it’s because the cinema had just opened and the staff had to quickly deal with the influx of people coming through the doors. I pondered on the choice of snacks to pick for our film but decided to keep it simple. I got a regular soft drink for Daddy P, Kids combo pack for Little Man and a mixed slush puppy for Little Miss. I decided not to buy anything for myself but was very tempted to get nachos with cheese because they looked so good! The price was not bad too, all of our snacks and refreshments came up to nearly £20 which was a bargain in my eyes. I’m sure we’d normally spend £40 in another cinema.
Little Man and I also eyed up the pick and mix bar but decided to be good for the day. 🙂
The VUE cinema in Eltham has two floors and is accessed by the stairs or the lift. My only little niggle is that there are no signs in the lift to point out which screens are on which floor – this would’ve helped us a lot as we ended up heading up onto level 1 only to realise our screen 4 is on level 2. With a total of six screens and 857 seats, all screens are fitted with two wheelchair bays per screen which is great for those who require accessible seating.
All screens are fitted with Digital Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound and Sony 4K Digital projection for that clear picture quality and audio. We got to sit really close when we watched Wonder Park which was amazing! You can really see all the tiny details very clearly on the screen. Our seats were also super comfy and pretty spacious. There were also booster seats available just outside of our screen which would come in handy if you have young children.
Our chosen film, Wonder Park was absolutely amazing! Splendiferous, you could say. I won’t spoil it for you but I can tell you there’s no super sad ending like in other animations and there’s no talk of death but there are some sad moments quickly erased with lots of happiness and laughter. If you’ve not seen the trailer, definitely have a look.
Yay or Nay? …100% YAY
I can say it’s definitely worth a watch and the kids have already asked to watch it again and for just £6.99 a ticket you can’t really go wrong. It’s the cheapest cinema ticket around and Vue Eltham does offers the best value in seat, screen and sound. They also do morning special screening for toddlers (Mini-Mornings) and autism-friendly screenings. Check their website for more details on showings.
Our family experience at Vue Eltham was smooth and very enjoyable. I feel like it has more of a family vibe than most of the other cinemas I’ve been to. Whether that’s because it’s smaller and intimate, or because it just seems more tolerable for us all, I loved the family-friendly atmosphere.
The closest cinema to us is actually just a 10 mins walk from home but we’d happily make this Vue my new go-to cinema location for £6.99 and short bus ride. I still owe Daddy P a cheeky movie night and dinner for his birthday last weekend and the kids have been pestering to go back and watch Detective Pikachu!
UPDATE: We went back to Vue Eltham during the May half-term holidays and watched The Secret Life of Pets 2 – highly recommended!! It was a great storyline and the short clip after the credits was hilarious!
NB. We were gifted family tickets to VUE Eltham in exchange for this blog review. All content, opinions and photos in this post are my own and cannot be used without permission.
I LOVE British brands when it comes to beauty. Especially now that we’ve been able to step up our game in offering high quality, natural products that actually work! I’ve become a convert with my skincare and have left a lot of my beloved Dermalogica products behind, swapping it for more natural brands like Neal’s Yard Remedies and Australian skincare brand, A’Kin because I also really like Aussie skincare and haircare brands.
I recently got my hands on some lovely samples of the Noughty Wave Hello range. I’m no newbie to the products, I’ve used them before and fell in love with some instantly but then moved away to try others, so it was nice to give them a go again. There’s also a vlog review which you can watch at the end of this post.
I love experimenting with products but there are a few ranges that I really can’t be without and these definitely include the Noughty Hair care products. So without further ado, here’s my review on Noughty’s Wave Hello haircare range. If you don’t fancy reading, you can watch the video review instead. 🙂
My Noughty Wave Hello Haircare review…
For my loose wavy type 2A hair, I really love it! It’s nice and lightweight, cleanses my hair properly but still remains gentle and smells lovely and fresh. I used the Wave Hello shampoo, conditioner and curl creme in a number of different variations and can say after two weeks, I prefer using just the shampoo and conditioner as I found the curl creme just too heavy for my hair.
Wave Hello Shampoo/Low-poo Enriched with sea kelp (to help soothe the scalp) and avocado oil (locks in moisture, strengthens hair), this low-poo gently cleanses the scalp to leave it fresh and clean without stripping it of natural oils.
As I only wash my hair twice a week maximum, I tend to get oil buildup on my scalp but just one application (sometimes two if it’s VERY OILY) and my scalp is squeaky clean. I feel like the shampoo lathers up much more than when I first tried out the range but that might be due to my hair now being used to non-sulfate/non-silicone cleansers. When I first used this range my hair was still getting used to changing over to the natural products so maybe it was more greasy then making it seem like there was less lather during each wash.
Post-washed hair (left) and 1st day after washing (right)
I cleanse my hair either in the bath if I’m having a soak or over it if it’s just a hair-wash day. I run warm water down the hair and lather up with this low-poo once or twice depending on how much buildup I’ve got. I concentrate the low-poo on my roots and spread the lather to the ends to keep them from being over-cleansed. I then rinse and always follow up with conditioner. When I am doing a clarifying wash, I would follow up with an intensive hair treatment/deep conditioner instead.
Wave Hello Conditioner
Definitely one of my favourite conditioners. The conditioner contains the same active ingredients as the shampoo. The two that I think really comes out in this product is something called ‘Quinoxy’ which somehow reminds me of ‘quinoa’. It’s similar – quinoxy is Noughty’s “blend of wheat extract, camellia oil and linoleic acid to blitz flyaways, decrease volume, boost smoothness and retain shape”. My fine to medium hair always seems less frizzy with the shampoo and when I mix it with water as part of my 2nd day hair refresh mist (1 part water, 1 part conditioner) it really revives my waves and keeps it as frizz-free as possible…
I also really like Shea Moisture’s weightless coconut-fusion range and find it a great alternative to my Noughty Wave Hello collection. I alternate between these two as Shea Moisture products contain protein-based ingredients, Noughty doesn’t.
Wave Hello Curl Taming Creme
As much as I wanted to love it, it wasn’t for me. It made my hair feel heavy and just weighed down my sensitive, loose waves. From the video, you can see that my waves will literally straighten out if you brush them with your fingers. I think curlier hair or wavies with a tighter pattern will benefit from this cream, especially curlier hair as it’s a rich cream. It’s just too heavy for my fine and sensitive waves. My daughter’s 3A/3B curls really loves this cream and so I use it for her instead.
**Get a third off all Noughty hair care products on Boots.com** shop here
So… do I recommend Noughty?
Hell yes! If you’re based in UK and following CGM, you will love this brand. It’s curly girl friendly and whether you have fine, loose waves like me or super curly hair like my daughter, there’s going to be a product that you will love. And with most products priced at £6.99 what’s not to love?! They have just launched their Christmas gift sets so you can even try a whole range for less. There’s also a promo on at Boots (see above link) and if we’re lucky we might see a half price promo on their website like we did on Black Friday! 🙂
What’s the ONE Noughty product I can’t live without?
This one I can answer hands down, without a doubt.. the To The Rescue intensive conditioning mask. O. M. G. I have not had anything like it! Super weightless but super hydrating and moisturising! The closest consistency I could measure it to would be the Shea Moisture JBCO leave-in conditioner; super creamy but super light like a whip.
It’s definitely going to stay on my shelf for many more years. A little goes a long way so I don’t need more than a scoop for my long hair. I love using the deep conditioning mask straight after a clarifying cleanse or whenever my hair seems a little dehydrated.
… et voila!
And that’s my Noughty Wave Hello haircare review done!
If you’re planning to give Noughty a try, go for it. They’re an affordable range (all around £6.99 per 250ml bottle), 97% natural which is pretty damn good, cruelty-free (no testing on animals), vegan-based ingredients, and free from all those chemical nasties ie. silicones, sulfates and parabens.
– Watch the vlog review:
NB. I received a sample of Noughty Wave Hello haircare collection (shampoo, conditioner and curl creme) in exchange for an unbiased review on this blog and vlog post. All opinions, photos and content are my own and shouldn’t be used without my consent.
Bill’s restaurant first opened their doors in 2001. Since then, there’s over 20 Bill’s restaurants in London and UK. Recently, all of their stores have undergone a revamp and adopted a beautiful, tropical vibe. We were lucky enough to be invited to Bill’s Greenwich for an evening out and had a fabulous dinner. The food was fantastic and the service was faultless.
We arrived at 5pm for our booked table. We were greeted by our waiter, Kieran then sat by the window. Kieran checked if we needed highchairs for the kids. The decor is beautiful, I really love how they’ve revamped the place. It looks like a modern, urban-tropical oasis. I really loves all the potted plants surrounding the restaurant. Little man loved the bird ornaments and animal paintings. The plus velvety chairs were super comfy and the leather booths looked really good too.
The restaurant’s vibe was chilled and casual enough to bring a young family without feeling weird and out-of-place. My two monsters can be extremely loud and noisy sometimes so we’d normally only go to places that have a busy vibe (think Nandos)… it was definitely different for us but in a good way.
The restaurant floor had soft mood lighting which I love because it adds so much ambience to the place but Daddy P wasn’t a fan. He prefers a well-lit setting “so he can see what he’s eating”. If you’re like my hubby then heading out here earlier would be a better choice as the natural sunlight floods in during the day.
We had a good amount of time to choose from the menu without feeling rushed. Looking around, I can see all the staff were being very attentive to each of their guests. Our water glasses were refilled regularly and our orders were taken swiftly. Food arrived in good time too.
We took advantage of the kids set menu for our little monsters and ordered the macaroni cheese for the mains and a chocolate mousse and strawberry ice cream for desserts. For myself and Daddy P, I ordered the oak-smoked ribs and he had the seafood and red pepper stew (Thursday special).
From ordering to service, it was about 15-20mins which is really quick but maybe this was because Thursday nights are slightly quieter than other nights.
When the food arrived, we were not disappointed. It looked and smelt amazing! The kids’ food arrived first then ours. I had a little taste of the macaroni and it was nice, cheesy and creamy. I expected the iron dishes they came in to be super hot but they were not too bad, warm enough for little hands to hold and enjoy.
Then my ribs and fries arrived… man,it was full! There were lots of ribs and a generous portion of sweet potato fries. I didn’t enjoy the red cabbage slaw as it was very bitter. I tried to mix it with mayo to make it palatable but it couldn’t be saved.
In the end it didn’t matter because the ribs were cooked to perfection! Melt-in-your-mouth ribs… it was heavenly. I don’t normally order ribs so I’m glad I took a gamble.
Daddy P was thrilled with his seafood and red pepper stew. It came with a side of saffron aioli toast. I had a little taste of his stew and I must say, it was a good choice.
I was slightly envious of his stew. The prawns were large and cooked well and the stew was divine – so flavoursome. Daddy P is a fussy pescatarian so there’s a lot of dishes he’s not a fan of (including tomato-based stews) but he was so happy with it, he couldn’t stop raving about it!
His only feedback would be that there wasn’t enough toast to go with the stew. It’s a generous stew portion but he had only about 4 or 5 thinly-sliced sticks of toast to dip with. We ended up ordering extra bread because Daddy P said he couldn’t continue enjoying his meal without it. 🙂
Kieran, our waiter came to check on us at timely intervals to make sure we were enjoying our meal (which we were!) and topped up with water. We also ended up ordering a side of chips for the kids because they were still a little hungry after the macaroni cheese.
For kids with big appetites, the portion size is very small but for us, it was okay.
I’m sure the burger and chips or fish fingers with chips and peas would be more filling. As the kids set menu is a two course meal, we picked one of each dessert for them. We knew they wouldn’t finish it but ordered it nevertheless.
I decided not to order my own dessert in the end because I was still so full from the ribs. It was a much bigger portion than I anticipated. Daddy P ordered the cinnamon doughnuts for himself but we ended up sharing because he couldn’t finish it either! 🙂
There was about 6 doughnuts and after eating two, Daddy P was struggling. I helped out of course and ate three, then he devoured the rest with a little encouragement. The doughnuts tasted like little balls of fried, sugary, heavenly goodness. They come with two dipping sauces; caramel and chocolate. They tasted like a cross between dinky doughnuts and churros. I ordered a hot chocolate with cream which was nice and the whipped cream was light and fluffy.
We’ll be back… We loved the atmosphere, the food and the staff. We can now have a good family night out that won’t break the bank, especially being with it so close to Christmas.
There’s an upstairs area which is well-lit and has ‘The Ivy Cafe’ feel about it. I’ve visited the Blackheath branch and I’m sure they have the same green wall paint and mirrored hanging. For Daddy P, I have requested for an upstairs seat due to the lighting but personally, I prefer the mood lighting downstairs. it’s way more romantic. 🙂
Why Bill’s Greenwich is a great place:
Beautiful decor and a chilled casual vibe
Friendly, attentive staff
Generous portions of delicious food
Very affordable, especially for families
The perfect place for every occasion – be it a family dinner, social gathering, catch-up with friends, after-work drinks with colleagues or a date night
(We didn’t drink but the cocktails ordered by the table beside us looked amazing!)
NB. We were invited to Bill’s Greenwich for a complimentary meal in exchange for a blog review. All words, photos and content are my own. Any photos that are not mine have been credited respectively.
On a not-so-sunny Wednesday, Little Lady and I headed out to Greenwich for a little bit of pre-nursery fun. We were invited to explore the last remaining British tea clipper, the Cutty Sark. You can’t miss it, she lies in the heart of the high street opposite the popular Greenwich market.
Greenwich is a beautiful place to visit – a mix of old and new. It’s also a great place to live – everything is local, there’s good access to public transport and there’s lots of families living in the area. The only difficulty is finding a free parking space in the area as it’s a heavily pedestrianised area.
Journey to the Cutty Sark ship
We hopped on a bus from home and took it towards Greenwich, we got off at the stop opposite the Old Royal Naval College and walked towards the ship. I pointed out to Ams the ship’s sails and took a moment to take a photo of the signpost below with a view of the ship in sight.
5 Fun Facts about Cutty Sark…
1. Cutty Sark is 148 years old It was launched on 22 November 1869 in Dumbarton, Scotland. Built to last for just thirty years, it is now in its third century.
2. Cutty Sark has travelled 957,995 nautical miles
During its years as a British merchant ship, Cutty Sark visited sixteen different countries and travelled the equivalent of two and half voyages to the moon and back.
3. Cutty Sark was built for the China tea trade but would carry a vast array of cargoes in its career
Cutty Sark carried almost 10 million lbs of tea between 1870 and 1877. The opening of the Suez Canal marked the end for sailing ships in the tea trade and so Cutty Sark had to find new employ. It transported a variety of cargoes, including over 10,000 tons of coal, before finding its calling in the Australian wool trade. It would transport more than 45,000 bales in its career.
4. Overall, however, Cutty Sark is an extremely fortunate ship
It survived storms which ripped its rudder off on two occasions, survived a dismasting in the First World War and a terrible fire in 2007. In the year before the fire, the majority of Cutty Sark’s original fabric had been removed. This meant that, while devastating, the fire was nowhere near as destructive as it could have been. Over 90% of the ship’s hull structure is original to 1869.
5. A special dry dock was built for Cutty Sark in Greenwich in 1954
After an extensive restoration, Cutty Sark was opened by HM the Queen on 25 June 1957. As a symbol of Britain’s maritime trade, it became a memorial to the Merchant Navy and the 44,000 men killed in both world wars. Since 1957, Cutty Sark has welcomed over 16 million people and counting!
Toddler Time at the Cutty Sark Toddler Time is a free flow play session held under the ship every Wednesday from 10-11.30am for under 4s. It’s a little bit like rhyme time and story time at my local library but with a bit more emphasis on the play element. Children can roam free under the ship whilst parents have a little chat with each other and the Toddler Time staff.
Ams was not really interested in playing with others this time – it was the first time we visited the underneath of the ship and she was overwhelmed with it all and preferred to explore her surroundings instead. There was lots of information about the ship’s history, the fire that happened and the renovations that took place and why the ship was updated with the new glassy look. All very interesting facts that I never knew about.
There’s also a collection of the ship’s past figureheads to look at. They are really large and quite scary, I wasn’t really a fan of looking at all of them for too long. Ams also had a good look of them before heading off to explore the other bits of the ship. Unfortunately as the weather wasn’t great, the little madam didn’t want to explore the top deck of the ship which was what I was looking forward to. Her nursery session also starts at 12.30pm so we had to start making our way back to get some lunch then head to nursery.
There is a lovely little cafe beside the toddler time area serving hot and cold food and drink so it’s a really lovely space to burn off some energy or just to chill and chat with other parents.
Toddler Time at Cutty Sark
There are two sessions each week on on Wednesdays, a morning session at 10-11.30am and an afternoon session at 1.20-2.50pm. Our morning session was not too busy, there was around 10-12 other parents which is a good amount of people to have but not too much to feel overcrowded. The sessions are held during term-time only.
Price: £5 per adult, kids (under 4s) go free
Older children (4+) can also join but they would be charged the adult price. Parents can also sign up to the annual membership for £44 and go free – the membership also gives you free entry and access to exclusive events, entries and discounts to the cafes and shops.
Naturally, we couldn’t leave without a look around the gift shop. Ams had a good look around before deciding she wanted the giant lollipop. I got myself a little tote back to add to my collection. We will be back to explore the top deck on a sunnier day and also I had my eyes on some beautiful wooly mitts (for kids and adults) which were SO WARM – I need a pair for the winter weather ahead. 🙂
After we left Cutty Sark we had a look around the Old Royal Naval College which is adjacent to the ship. It’s a great place to visit, also filled with plenty of history and free tours if you’d like to know more about the site. The ORNC is also a visitors information centre so if there is anything else you’d like to find out about Greenwich or the RMG, don’t visit Greenwich without a trip there. You can also choose to explore the college grounds yourself – just be mindful that it is also part of the University of Greenwich so there are lots of people moving around the area.
Have fun exploring the rest of Greenwich too – don’t leave without visiting the National Maritime Museum and if you have the energy, head up to the Royal Observatory. There’s always lots going on at the Royal Museums Greenwich sites.
At the beginning of the Easter Holiday, LO and I decided to go all out this Easter. We wanted to do something different; we had a mini Easter Egg hunt at home with Daddy P and LO’s cousin Lils and ate lots of delicious chocolates. I had been looking at tickets for Dinosaurs in the Wild at The O2 Peninsula area after seeing all the promo flags for the experience around the area. I checked it out online and it looked very promising but slightly pricey. I found cheaper tickets online via a website called Little Bird. They’re family friendly website with discount codes and offers for hundreds, if not thousands, of different family events in the UK.
On the morning of Easter Sunday, LO and I headed out to Intercontinental at The O2 for a family egg hunt hosted by the hotel. We were allowed access to search the corridors and rooms of the hotel on the ground, first and second floor. We searched everywhere but had no luck until we decided to be brave and head on a detour to a quiet area in the hotel and found an Easter egg nest in the corner of hallway on the second floor. We were so happy! 🙂
Our chocolate entitled us to a prize – a hot chocolate at the hotel’s ground floor restaurant. I was allowed to have a complimentary hot chocolate (thanks to the Guest Relations Team) as a blogger perk for coming out that morning. 🙂 The Lindt hot chocolate was incredibly rich but very tasty. The chocolate egg was just as tasty – LO tucked into it as we made our way to Dinosaurs in the Wild.
Dinosaurs in the wild experience
I had only taken glances online at what to expect at Dinosaurs in the Wild and all I can say from hindsight is WOW! I really didn’t expect such a realistic, immersive experience. You can read on their website what to expect from the experience but nothing can really prepare you for the experience. It’s incredibly well-thought, totally interactive and super immersive – so much that at times, it feels almost like real-life. 🙂
We travelled back in time to the late cretaceous period (67 million years ago) in a time machine called the X90 Transfer Pod, designed by the team at Chronotex. It was super-fast and before we knew it, in a matter of seconds our Transfer Pod had converted into a land buggy. The buggy opened its shutters and we were met with a Triceratops knocking against our screen. Our Chronotex guide safely drove us away from the nuisance creature and on a short ride to TimeBase 67. On the way we also saw a couple of Tyrannosaurus Rex, some huge Alamosaurus and other dinosaurs.
Once we arrived at TimeBase 67, another guide showed us around their working lab – we looked at a pumping Alamosaurus heart, played with some dino-poop and checked out other cool dinosaur body parts.
After the lab, we entered the autopsy room and witnessed one of the doctors completing an autopsy on a Pachycephalosaurus. It wasn’t a gory sight but LO was a little freaked out with the autopsy and asked “mummy, what is he doing to it?” and looked pretty scared. I explained what an autopsy was but he was very quiet during this part of the experience. This is probably why the experience is recommended for children aged 5+. After this we saw the dinosaur hatchery which was simply amazing. One of the Chronotex team took a Dakotaraptor egg away then brought it back and out came a furry little raptor – it was amazing to see the team interacting with the audience this way. It made it that little more realistic for everyone, including me.
After we were shown around the different levels at TimeBase 67, we were brought upstairs to the lookout tower where we had a 360-view of the surroundings. It was amazing. We saw Triceratops, Alamosaurus, Dakotaraptors, and two naughty Tyrannosaurus Rex who started causing trouble and a code-red alert was raised. We had to evacuate the lookout and head down underground. The sudden evacuation felt so real, other parents including myself felt a little anxious and unknowing of what was going to happen next. I happily played along but poor LO thought it was the real thing… I didn’t tell him it wasn’t until much later. 🙂 We had to run underground into a bunker and wait for a member of the Chronotex team to look for a back-up shuttle to take us back to the present time.
As we were ushered into the back-up machine, everyone held onto the rails for dear life – LO looked up scared and said to me “mummy I’m scared, I want to go home”… my heart sank a little at his response and had to tell him not to worry and that it’s not real. Although I left it for too long – he didn’t believe me – soon before I knew it, he started crying. Our time machine took us back to 2018 and opened the doors to the exit which was the souvenir shop. LO burst out in more tears and I wasn’t really sure if they were tears of fear, relief or being overwhelmed (maybe it was all three!)… it was a fantastic experience!
I just wanted to do it all again! We stopped at the shop to take some photos and I bought LO a Dakotaraptor figurine. The toy didn’t last long, he took it to a barbecue with his nan the next day and some kids at the party broke the legs… £20.00 wasted! I would highly recommend any dino-loving family to go and experience Dinosaurs In The Wild but book in advance for a better deal on the price.
There’s lots of Dinosaurs in the Wild reviews you can check out – if you want a real spoiler of the full experience, there’s a Youtube video you can watch from The Dad Lab:
Watching the video is cool but not cooler than experiencing the real thing. As cliché as that sounds, it’s really true… we’re going back on Father’s Day with Daddy P. 🙂
NB. We received a complimentary adult and child ticket for our Dinosaurs in the wild experience in exchange for this review. All words, opinions and photos are my own and the links in this post are not affiliated.
Finding a hair salon you love can be difficult and sometimes looking for a new one is even more difficult. I’ve been going sulfate-free and silicone-free for just over a month and starting to get a few more waves out of my hair although they’re not fully there yet.
One day I walked past my local hair salon, The Curious Comb and saw a sign in the window stating that they were looking for models so I enquired about colour for me. I was asked what I’d like to do and had been thinking about going mermaid hair for a little while but didn’t have the courage to do it but that day I decided to bite the bullet and take a chance. I booked myself in for a total colour transformation and am sooo glad that I did because I really love my hair!
If you’re not sure what mermaid hair/unicorn hair/rainbow hair is, check out Pinterest and you’ll find a plethora of this new and popular creative colouring technique that’s taken London by storm. As I booked in as a hair model, I needed to start my appointment at 08:30am before clients arrived to avoid disruption to the salon and also give the colourist enough time to perform the service. I also had to pay a small fee for my model colour as the salon has to cover their cost for the materials/ingredients used, naturally.
On the day…
Tuesday, 08:30am I was greeted by Chris at reception who checked me in and introduced me to my colourist Vivi – a funky lady whose work I had been admiring on the salon’s instagram page, @thecuriouscomb. Vivi greeted me and sat me down, offered me a drink and asked me what I’d like to do to my hair. I told her that I wanted to have mermaid hair and was looking for pinks, purples, blues and greens. She explained that as my natural hair colour was such a dark base, it would be possible to achieve mermaid hair but not to the pastel colour I’d like. Chris, who was overseeing Vivi also told me that it would be impossible to go from almost black to pastel in one sitting unless we were there for a whole day as in 8hrs+ and use high-strength bleach which would be really damaging to my hair. This I knew so it was no surprise to me, I confirmed that I would be happy with any lift and know that I won’t be super light but as long as I can get a vibrant colour, I’d be a happy bunny. Chris mentioned that Olaplex would be added to my colour to help protect my hair from excessive damage – Olaplex is a protein based treatment that actually helps the hair to repair. The Curious Comb also offer it as a stand-alone treatment for about £30.00.
Chris and Vivi spoke about how she was going to do my hair – I mentioned that I’d like a balayage application and Chris recommended Vivi to use foils instead of freehand. My hair went through one process of bleach which lifted it to an orange colour – this, I’d also expected to happen. Vivi applied the foils and bleach evenly and with speed for a colourist in training. My head felt so heavy from the foils and this part of the process took about 2hrs. After the foil application was done, Vivi rinsed my hair and sat me down again with another lovely coffee and showed me the colours she was going to apply on my hair. She applied the colour carefully and blended them well using a special hand-blending technique. I sat and watched my hair changed colour… multi-colour. 🙂
The blending by Vivi was absolutely amazing! My own unique mermaid hair which I liked to call Watermelon Hair. There’s even a hashtag for #watermelonhair on the gram and it describes my outcome perfectly.
And for the guys who love ‘before and after’ photos… here’s mine. What a drastic colour change – a super transformation!
My hair still felt surprisingly soft. I really thought it was going to feel like hay but it didn’t. Maybe that was thanks to the Olaplex? I’m not 100% sure. Vivi told me that my colour will last aroun 8-10 washes and the less I wash my hair, the longer the colour will keep. That’s great news for me as I only wash my hair 1-2 times a week and it’s with a low-poo (a sulfate-free, silicone-free shampoo).
Vivi styled it for me using hair tongs and curled it beautifully. The curls lasted for 3-4 days and it was the first time in about a month since I had used any heat products or styling on my hair since going CGM.
Three months on (it’s now March) and my colour has only faded about 60% – the multi-colour tones have somewhat blended into each other and the colours are no longer as vibrant as it was on the first day but I still love it so. I have been thinking about going back for my Olaplex treatment and also a colour refresh. I will be sticking with The Curious Comb from now on for my colour.. now I just need to be brave enough to go in for a cut! 🙂