I first met mumpreneur Nahdia @Nahdz_Adventures from a Paint & Slurp event that was ran by her and London artist @artsybeaumont which was super fun. This was a few years ago and the craft event is all about bonding with your child making art together on canvas whilst enjoying a healthy smoothie. Since then, I’ve been going to Nahdia’s amazing sensory workshops, Sensory Sunday with Nahdz.
The now-mum-of-three is an amazing, a real supermum – she blogs, runs her own business, takes care of her boys and travels with the kids in between. Mumspiration right there! She’s also supports lots of small businesses; when I first qualified for my kids yoga teacher training, she came along to my classes with her boys without fail. I’ve since moved away from there so haven’t been able to yoga with her and her boys as much anymore but I’m so glad I got to spend a good few months with teaching them family yoga. I could see the boys progressing in their yoga poses and strength every week.
What is Sensory Sunday with Nahdz?
Sensory Sunday with Nahdz is a monthly workshop that allows children to explore, play, and experience sensory stimulation (messy play) in a fun and safe environment. Parents can sit back and mingle with other parents or get just as involved with their children. The children can play to their heart’s content without anyone telling them “don’t make a mess” – every child’s dream. At the end, parents can walk away happy whilst Nahdz and her team work their magic clearing everything away. It’s guilt-free fun!
It’s a very inclusive event and is suitable for any child that likes sensory/messy play or you’d like to introduce your child to sensory/messy play. Little Man and my nephew loved the one I took them to a couple years ago. I haven’t taken Little Miss before so I think she will really enjoy the event. As I now work weekends, this makes it harder to do things with the kids when I’m not around. Daddy P is not really the best at looking out for these fun things to do.
Play, play and more play!
Nahdia usually sets up around 4 different trays (depending on number of children attending, PS parents/carers go free!) each with a different sensory element. The one we attended we had a dinosaur tray filled with pulses, rocks and plastic dinosaurs, another table had coloured rice and magnetic numbers and letters. It was even fun for me to plunge my hands into so I know the kids loved it. There’s also usually a special guest (ie. a book reading with an author) at the end of the workshop too which is a perfect way to wrap up the event.
The workshop is for children as young as pre-walking babies and toddlers up to primary school age. I took Little Man when he was 5 and he really couldn’t get enough of it!
Okay, where do I sign up?
Check out @Nahdz_Adventures instagram page or Eventbrite for upcoming Sensory Sunday dates. So far, the events have been held at Space@61 in Dulwich which is a cosy space that can be hired for events. I love the venue, it’s super family-friendly. It’s quite easy to get to with parking spaces nearby and outside the venue.
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.
There are loads of places where you can take the kids to experience Santa’s Grotto no matter what part of London you’re from. I’ve mainly sourced out the ones most local to me but you can even find a grotto by heading to your closest shopping mall and maybe even department store.
Some of the big department stores experiences (Harrods, Hamley’s, Fortnum & Mason, and Selfridges) are all sold out already! It seems like every year when I look, I’m always too late however it’s not a bad thing as the tickets for these places are usually around £25+ which is extortionate in my opinion. Christmas should not be all about commercialising and keeping pockets fat for the big companies. Instead, head to your local events and support your local or small businesses.
There are also free Santa experiences at shopping centres so check those out too. I will carry on updating this post as we draw closer to Christmas in case I come across others. So without further ado, here’s a list of where you can find Santa in Greenwich and the surrounding areas:
Santa’s Grotto at Greenwich Market
Dates: November 30 – December 24
Price: £5 (proceeds going to the Greenwich & Bexley hospice)
The Grotto in Greenwich is a great little local spot. It’s right in the heart of the old covered market so you can enjoy the festivities around the area, grab something to eat before queuing up to see the Big Guy. Children also receive a small gift during their visit. If this is your child’s first experience or you just want a relatively short experience, I’d recommend seeing Santa here – it’s a no-frills visit but at least you can still get a photo with Santa and save your money for Christmas shopping!
Victorian Santa’s Grotto at the Museum of London Docklands
Dates: November 29 – December 23
For a Santa experience with a bit of a difference, I would recommend coming to see Santa at the Museum of London Docklands. It’s a great museum in general and will definitely keep the kids busy. There is even a play area for the under 5s called Mudlarks Gallery and is free however you will need to reserve your child’s space. You can do this online or on the day. I’d recommend online to avoid any disappointment as the Mudlarks gallery does get full very quickly. Tickets for this year’s Santa visit is £10 per child.
A few years ago we visited the Santa’s Grotto here and got some really nice photos however I remember the queue was extremely long! Staff are on hand to check on you every 30mins or so and to usher you into the room where Santa is. You can read our Victorian Santa’s Grotto experience review here
Santa’s Snowflake Grotto at Westfield Stratford City
Dates: November 21 – December 24
Price: £7.50(parents, children and infants all require a ticket)
I really loved the Santa experience we had at Westfield Stratford City years back when Little Man was a toddler. I don’t have any photos to share with you of the experience but I remember it was really immersive. It started off with families being ushered into a room to watch a short show about Christmas then we were slowly ushered into another room where we then waited to meet Santa. The price was only for the experience and the photoshoot but we had to buy the images. I think I bought a framed photo and a photo bauble.
This year, the experience has a North Pole theme where families will be “magically transported to the Snow Factory in the North Pole, where Santa’s elves make all the snow in the world. Children will create their own personalised christmas decoration and explore all the fun activities within the Grotto.” The kids will then receive a gift and have a photo opportunity with Santa. After that, you’ll be ‘magically transported’ back to London.
Last year, Lewisham Shopping Centre had a Santa meet & greet event and we were invited along. The Santa and elves from The Holly Jolly Co. were so lovely and really made the experience special for us. The team are entertainers and are also available for party hires so check them out if you want to host an event and in need of good friendly entertainers. This year, they are back again so make sure you pop along from Tuesday 17th December until Christmas Eve!
We also donated gifts to the giving tree. You pick the the tag that you want which has a child’s age and gender on there so you can pick a gift for them. Buy your gift(s) then come back and the staff will help you attach your tag. I let the kids pick a child each. If the tree is there again this year, we shall do the same. After all, Christmas is about the gift of giving and spreading joy to all.
A two day Christmas extravaganza at Lesnes Abbey. With over 30 different craft and gift stalls, a Christmas Scavenger Hunt and live festive music. On Saturday you’ll enjoy a Christmas Market, Grotto, stalls, mulled wine, minced pies and lots of kids activities. For Sunday there will be more new stalls and the kids can be entertained on the Frozen bouncy castle and indoor Christmas pop-up disco. Amazing!
This October half term has been a lot of fun for the kids this year. Normally I am not involved with Halloween activities as I’m not a big fan of the day (Vietnamese superstitions and all) but this year I wanted to put myself aside and let the kids have their fun.
Pumpkin Carving in Lewisham
Little Man had a lot of fun carving and decorating his pumpkin at the Lewisham Shopping Centre‘s Pumpkin Party. It was a free event and lots of people came by the stand to have a go at carving. Little Man and I had a team effort – we traced the stencil together then took turns to carve sections of the pumpkin. When it came to scooping out the fleshy bits (which he called “scooping the guts out”) he left that to me.
When it came to decorating it with glitter he was great at doing it himself. Of course, I had to join it – who can resist a bit of glitter fun?
Halloween shopping at Lewisham Centre
We also did a little bit of shopping after our pumpkin carving. We headed to H&M and I bought for Little Man the coolest reversible sequin ghost jumper which he has loads of fun flipping around. For Little Miss, I got her a glittery black tulle dress and alice cat veil as she wanted to be a cat for Halloween. We also went to M&S and picked up loads of treats including chocolates, jelly sweets and lots of Halloween snacks for a mini party at home. *update* the stores now have their Christmas range in stock. H&M also have a lovely collection of Frozen apparel, also in time for the movie launch.
Our last little shop was to Smiggle for some stationary fun. We had a good look around the little shop. At the moment, they’ve just launched a new range of Frozen stationary – in time for the Frozen 2 movie. The backpacks look amazing and kids can choose from the sparkly gold Anna accessories or the shimmery icy blue Elsa accessories. My preference would be the Anna collection as it’s such a beautiful gold colour but I know Little Miss would prefer the Elsa collection. We also picked up a handy all-in-one Smiggle dinosaur pencil case for Little Man. It’s got a section for pens and pencils, a special compartment for the eraser and the sharpener and even comes with a mini calculator. Perfect for secondary school kids but just as cool for primary school kids IMO. Also, Smiggle Lewisham currently has a 25% off everything promo in store (excludes Frozen 2 and Star Wars collections) so make sure you pop into your local store and check out the goods.
Lewisham Shopping Centre opening times
The centre is open 7 days a week. Times of the stores may vary during seasonal periods ie. Christmas, New Year and Bank Holidays.
On Wednesday we headed out to Stanhill Farm to pick some pumpkins. It was a first experience for all of us so it was really nice to be able to share that with each other.
It took us two buses to make the journey however as the buses take a longer route, it also took us around 1.5hrs when by car it would’ve been a decent 25-30mins journey. On our way back, we took an uber ride home as we had heavy pumpkins and I wasn’t ready for any restless tantrums on the buses for another 1.5 hours.
The pumpkin patch at Stanhill Farm is a good size with lots of pumpkins to choose from. There was even a little area where the farmers had put a load of pumpkins together so you can take some lovely photos if you wanted to. Only Little Man was cooperating with me for the photos but I did get some really nice shots of them around the patch. 🙂
I really can’t believe how quickly time flies. It’s also been a little while since I last posted on here and it’s simply because it’s been really busy at home. I currently have two part-time jobs which is making everything a little hard to juggle at home. It’s been so long since I last cooked a decent meal (the kids aren’t complaining – they are loving the amount of chicken nuggets and chips they can consume weekly.)
So between the two jobs, looking after the kids, lesson planning for kids yoga and self-studying yin yoga and keeping up with my own practice, I’ve found time to sit on the computer and type up this post. Simply because there’s SO many great things to do this October half-term and leading up to Halloween I wanted to share my favourite event with you guys. We will be attending most of these events – you can find a more comprehensive list on things to do on Time Out and Babes About Town so be sure to check them out too. I love reading the posts on Babes About Town because it’s very family-orientated.
So without further ado, here’s my list of fun things to do with the family this Halloween & half-term break:
Painting on a Pumpkin workshop
Where: V&A Childhood Museum
Dates: Monday 21 – Friday 25 October Times: 10.40, 12.30 & 14.40 (80 mins) Price: £7 per child
Use an unusual canvas to paint on… a pumpkin! Inspired by the Big Draw Festival’s theme, “Drawn to Life”, create a painting on a pumpkin with help from artist, Amy Brown to take home. Suitable for children aged 4+
Here’s a few photos of our pumpkin paintings from when we attended the event:
Paint your own Halloween Pottery workshop
Where: ARTFIX Cafe, Shewsbury House Date: Tuesday 22 October Time: 2.30pm – 4.30pm Price: £12.50
Come along for some half term fun!! There will be a choice of Halloween themed pottery pieces including pumpkins, monsters, or I can help turn your handprints on a plate into Dracula, a Witch, a Spider, the list is endless.
The workshop costs £12.50 and will include one pottery piece each, all paints etc and Daniella on hand for help. Booking is essential by email or DM. A £5 deposit will be requested.
Where: Stanhill Farm, Dartford
Dates: Tuesday 22 – Thursday 31 October Times: See website for more details Price: free entry, for the maize maze it’s £6 per person (free for under 4s) Forget BYOB, it’s all about PYOP (pick your own pumpkin!) Grab a wheelbarrow and head down to the patch where you will find a huge array of pumpkins in various different sizes. It is also a great chance for a photo opportunity, surrounded by a sea of autumnal, orange colour! There are two maize mazes – the main one which takes around 1.5hrs to complete or a mini-maze that takes around 20-30mins to complete.
Here are a few photos of our day out to the pumpkin patch:
2. Kid’s first time pumpkin picking!
Where: Foxes Farm – Basildon or Colchester
Dates: Tuesday 22 – Thursday 31 October Times: 10am til 5pm Price: free entry, optional £3pp for entry to the corn maze Head down to one of the two pumpkin patches owned by Foxes Farm – you can choose from Basildon or Colchester. Both patches have an 8-acre corn maze and loads of pumpkins to choose from. No need to book either, you simply just turn up! They accept both cash and card but do check their website for farm closures due to the weather. Be aware, they do not allow dogs onto their farms.
Where: The Jetty, Greenwich Peninsula Date: Thursday 24 October Time: 12-4pm Price: SOLD OUT – unfortunately this event has now sold out!
Come dressed in your Halloween best for witchy crafts and ghoulish games on Greenwich Peninsula. Get involved in some autumnal arts and crafts then head along The Tide in search of tricks or treats. Head back to the Jetty and spend the afternoon listening to a spooky story with a warm drink and snack from Hej – The Jetty’s resident café. All are welcome, but parents must accompany their children for the afternoon of fun.
Where: Lewisham Shopping Centre Dates: Thursday 24 – Saturday 26 October Times: 10.30am til 4pm Price: Free
This Half Term, head to Central Square at Lewisham Shopping Centre for some FREE spooky fun. From 24th to 26th October, we’re holding a Pumpkin Party in the centre. You’ll be able to carve pumpkins to take home, and don’t forget to have your picture taken in the stocks too.
Get your picture taken in the stocks and post it to @lewishamcentre on Twitter & @lewisham_shopping_centre on Instagram using the hashtag #snappedinthestocks to be in with a chance of winning £100 worth of spooky gifts from selected retailers – woop woop!
Here are some photos of our day out to the pumpkin carving at Lewisham Shopping Centre:
Go on a Witch Hunt at Cutty Sark Gardens
Where: Cutty Sark Gardens Date: Friday 25 October Time: 1-4pm Price: Free
Its a hunt for witches around Cutty Sark Gardens! With a clues sheet and small prize for each successful participant, enjoy this fun activity with the whole family. Suitable for children aged 7+
Where: cinemas nationwide Date: Friday 25 October Time: various
We are soooo looking forward to this movie release! We’re keeping an eye out on all cinema websites but it seems as though tickets are yet to be on sale so that means no pre-order which is a shame. We will most likely be watching at our local ODEON Greenwich cinema or at our favourite VUE Eltham cinema. It’s definitely going to be a big hit for all families looking for a spooky fun film to watch next week and running up to Halloween.
Go on a Petrifying Pumpkin Hunt
Where: Selfridges, Oxford Street Date: Tuesday 29 – Thursday 31 October Time: 11am – 4pm
Enjoy a spooktacular trip to our brand-new confectionary space on LG at Selfridges Oxford Street, London on either the 29, 30 or 31 October. Our ghoulish treats – including squishy body-parts sweeties and crunch skeleton biscuits (thanks Biscuiteers) – are sure to delight. Simply drop in and collect a map from our WOW Kiosk and you’re good to go.
Where: The Forum at Christ Church, East Greenwich Date: Tuesday 29 & Wednesday 30 October Time: 10am to 12pm / 2pm to 4 pm
Price: Free for under 6 months, £7.50 for 6-12 months, £15 for 1-5yrs
Toddlers and young children will have a fang-tastic time at this soft play party session. Complete with soft play, arts and crafts hosted by The Artful Toddler and refreshments. Parents/Carers go free which is an added bonus! Come in fancy dress or not, your choice. Book your tickets at The Forum’s reception.
Where: John Lewis Roof Garden, Oxford Street Date: Thursday 31 October Time: 10.30am – 12 noon Price: SOLD OUT – unfortunately this event has now sold out
Families and friends are invited to attend the annual Halloween Fancy Dress Party held on The John Lewis Oxford Street Roof garden. Children are encouraged to come along in fancy dress, don’t worry if you forget we will have a dress up area on hand to keep your little ones in character. There will be cookie decorating, face painting and much more.
Need some inspo on how to decorate your pumpkin? Take a look at this article from Good Housekeeping blog – it’s got some amazing ideas which you can easily replicate. We tried the balloon one, the ghost sweetie one and the nail varnish dripping.
We are back from Paris and our day trip to Disneyland Paris. It was an amazing experience, now looking back at it, but at the time it felt chaotic. In this Disneyland Paris 2019 review I’ll write about our overall experience so you can make up your own mind on what to expect, what to bring, and give you some helpful tips which I did’t know about before our trip that could help you.
Book Disneyland Park Tickets in advance
Booking your park tickets in advance will save you a lot of money. If you do plan to visit the park more than once in the year, an annual pass is worth a consideration as you get a better deal. We booked our tickets directly on the Disneyland Paris website however there are many online websites that offer Disneyland ticket deals. For example, after booking ours I found tickets for one day park, hotel and Eurostar for £99 per person. Much cheaper than what we paid however we did go during the SUPER MAGIC (super-peak) period. You can have a look for ticket deals on 365 Tickets which is great site for theme park ticket deals.
We departed from London St. Pancras Thursday evening at 6.01pm and arrived in Paris at 9.35pm local time so about 2.5hrs train journey ride. The children were a little restless by the end of the train ride but did good enough to stay seated. Children under 3 do not need a ticket as they can sit on your lap however if the train is empty you can be cheeky and place them on a sit next to you if no-one takes the seat. Eurostar staff are incredibly courteous and I have never had a bad experience on it – staff speak both French and English fluently and you can use card or cash (euros or pounds) at the refreshments cafe on board. There’s a toilet on every coach and air conditioning throughout the train. There’s also wifi on board but I couldn’t figure out how to connect on it as my phone would’t connect so can’t comment on that but free wifi – what’s not to like?
Save ££: purchase tickets when Eurostar are doing promotions on their tickets, you could book as cheap as £29 one way per person and under 3s are free.
Top Tip: Download a few movies or shows for the kids onto the tablet before hand and bring some books or activity packs to keep them entertained for the ride. That way you can minimise any tantrums and/or tears.
We arrived at Paris, Gare du Nord around 9.35pm local time. Leaving the station was very straightforward and easy. We got hungry and decided we wanted to eat before heading to the hotel so we stopped off at a restaurant opposite the station. Big mistake. I already knew in the back of my mind it would be a bad idea but I couldn’t bring myself to take us to McDonalds but in hindsight, I wish I did. At the restaurant we ordered, one margherita pizza, one salmon dish, one lamb confit, two glasses of orange juice and a hot chocolate… the bill came to 60 EUROS! WTF?! Note to self, food is expensive in Paris! Now, it wouldn’t have been such a big deal had the food been really tasty and value for money, the food was bland, not cooked well and seriously BASIC. I’m not expecting fine dining standards at a cafe/restaurant however I know the French like their food so I expect good quality food for that price. If we had gone to Mcdonalds, it would’ve tasted better and cost half that much.
The hotel: Renaissance La Défense hotel
We stayed at the Renaissace La Defense in the finance district of Paris. An urbanised area complete with its own shopping centre, restaurants, metro, train and bus station. It’s very easy to get around via public transport but man! It’s a different story via taxi – none of our taxi drivers were familiar with the area and one even said to us “c’est compliqué” – all of the hotels are built up a level above ground whilst the street level is below ground. What this means is that if you arrive by car you’ll need to head upstairs onto the upper level to get access to the hotels.
On our arrival night we weren’t aware and walked through a labyrinth to find our hotel. Lucky our driver spoke English and Daddy P spoke French fluently. I’m sure if I was alone with my minimal, broken French I may not have been able to navigate the way. Once we arrived, we felt much better – the hotel was stunning. The staircase was beautiful and the reception area was clean and bright.
Staff were very courteous even though it was past 10pm, we were greeted like we were the first people they had seen all day. Check-in was smooth and within 10 minutes we were given our room keys and on our way to enjoy our room. Our room was clean and spacious, we had tea/coffee making facilities, a good amount of toiletries and clean towels enough for all four of us. Blackout curtains to keep the light out let us sleep for longer which was great. The massive flat screen TV kept the kids occupied in the morning evening before bedtime. Morning shower was great but I wish the water pressure was a bit stronger.
Save ££: Have a look on Booking.com for hotel deals or if you prefer more privacy, check out Airbnb.com for great one or two bedroom apartments you can rent in Paris. Sometimes you’d get a better deal on these than the hotels. You can save more money by shopping at the local supermarkets to make home-cooked meals instead of eating out.
Top Tip: stay central if you want to visit the main landmarks or see more of the city. The further out into the suburbs you go, the more time you will spend travelling and you’ll also spend more on travelling costs buying train tickets.
Travel: getting to Disneyland by train
After a good night’s sleep we woke up around 9am to leave the hotel around 11am. We went to buy snacks and food at the local Monoprix before heading to Disneyland Paris. Unfortunately for us, there was no direct RER train to DLP in Paris due to train engineering works which was going on all day from August 10-18. This was something we didn’t know about until we got there so make sure you check the train schedules online a few days before leaving so you can plan your route effectively. Using the Metro and RER trains were very easy and buying a ticket was also very easy. Ticket machines are available at metro station and offer different languages so you don’t have to work it out in French. Our RER ticket cost us €30.00 one way (2 adults, 2 children) which covered our journey for zones 1-3. I’d definitely recommend travelling to Disneyland via train – it takes around 1-1.5hr normally and is the cheapest option compared to taxi, Uber or coach. Driving is another option but be aware it’s about 26 euros to park your car there.
We probably would’ve gotten away with buying just 1 child ticket as Little Miss was in her pram and I just pushed her through the gates with me. Unlike London, the metro staff do not frequently regulate the gates and you will see people jumping them or walking through without a ticket.
We started our journey at 12.00 and got to Marne-la-Vallée (Disneyland’s station) at 2pm. This is because part of our journey (from Auber to Vincennes) required us to exit the metro, walk 10mins to the next station (chateaux de vincennes) to resume our journey. During that walk we stopped off at a McDonalds for lunch. Children’s Happy Meals in Paris are great! The kids got a nugget happy meal each and it came with the toy, 4 nuggets, small chips, apple juice and a strawberry yoghurt drink. Amazing.
Park rides, parades and that ‘fast pass’ ticket
The main park was spectacular but man the crowds… soooo many people! I wasn’t ready for how busy it was. I should’ve known better as we arrived in the afternoon. We ended up only going on about 3-4 rides in total but for us, it wasn’t a bad thing. The kids just simply preferred the experience of being at DLP than concerned over going on the rides. Originally, I had wanted to arrive at the park as early as 10am but I am so glad we decided on a later afternoon time. I guess that’s because they are younger – I think if you have older children, they will want to queue up for as many rides as possible!
With our entry ticket, we were given ‘fast pass’ access – I think Disneyland will continue to offer this for a while yet. Simply head over to the rides that are available with the fast pass and print out your advance tickets. Unfortunately you can’t select the times but the ticket will allow you to skip the queue when it comes to the time for you to go on the ride. We printed out our Buzz Lightyear laser blast tickets at 2.30pm but was given fast pass for 7.30pm – we didn’t mind but just trying to give you an idea of the timings the tickets give you.
Save ££: Bring food, snacks, drinks and water with you. If you have younger children it’s not to bad but if you have big eaters or older children they will get very hungry and want to eat/snack constantly so stock up on these things by visiting a local Lidl, Auchan, Carrefour or Monoprix before entering the park. You’ll also save time queuing for food at the park’s restaurants.
Top Tip: If you’re not staying at the parks, travel to the park via train – it’s cheap and easy. The station is right outside the entrance and it’s hassle-free. Another tip, if you have young children, bring a stroller! Your feet, legs and sanity will thank you for it later.
I was extremely close to not bringing our stroller but a friend of mine who went a week before said don’t even think about not bringing one. The park is large and little legs will tire fast. Also they’re bound to fall asleep at least once during the day. You’ll also save around 30 euros not hiring one there!
We queued up for a mini boat cruise in Fantasyland which was enjoyable and relaxing once we got on the ride. The queue was about 30-40mins which was pretty long for one ride – some of the other rides had even longer wait times. The longest wait time I noticed was 90mins – my advice would be to check out the rides you want to go on online ahead of the visit. Anticipate long queues and wait times so plan to go on about 4-8 rides if you are there for a day visit. It’s impossible to complete the park in one day no matter what season you go.
After we finished our boat cruise, we went to check out Sleeping Beauty’s castle and the sleeping dragon underneath the castle. The boys went on the Pirate tree house and Phantom Manor ride whilst Little Miss and I went over to the town square to watch the street parade at 5.30pm which was fantastic.
If you think you’re not going to be able to see all the Disney characters or only have a day ticket like I did, I’d highly recommend watching the street parade – it is one of the best things you can do and you can easily get a good spot. You will be able to see all the Disney characters in one sitting. The parade is approx. 30 mins and you will be able to see all the characters clearly; Donald and Daisy duck, Mickey and Minnie mouse, all the princesses, the Lion King characters, Buzz Lightyear, Woody and friends, Anna and Elsa from Frozen.
Character Meets: Mickey Mouse
This was the only character meet that we queued for – we tried to look for Toy Story’s Jessie and friends in the Western World part of the park but we were too late. At the Princess Pavilion, it was Rapunzel from Tangled that we could see in the afternoon but the queue for her was even longer so Daddy P and I made the decision to go and see Mickey as we thought both of the kids will enjoy it more. We weren’t disappointed.
Even though the wait was 1.5-2hrs long and we even missed our fast pass entry for Buzz Lightyear’s laser blast ride, it was SO WORTH IT! The kids were kept entertained in Mickey’s theatre with short movie clips that were on a loop. I loved the concept they developed for it – like it was a special backstage meet with Mickey. Just before it was out turn to see Mickey, one of the animation team saw Little Man’s tshirt and noticed it was his birthday – they made a quick call and was able to get Mickey Mouse on the phone to him before our meet! Little Man said Mickey wished him Happy Birthday and just seeing his face lit up was an unforgettable moment.
We took our photos with Mickey – you are free to take your own photos using your phone of your Mickey meet but Daddy P and I were too filled with awe from seeing him with the kids we couldn’t move much haha! The photographer took the photos for us and gave us a little card so at the end of the meet we can purchase the photos if we wanted to. As we didn’t take any of our own photos, I bought them but they looked amazing so it was hard not to buy them. You can purchase just the images or with a photo frame. Of course they offer a deal for multi purchases and I bought two photos with frames for 25.99 euros which is around £23 – not bad for two beautiful photos but if you do want to save money, don’t forget to take your own photos at the meet! The staff will even help you take the photo on your phone if you want to get a full family shot, no charge.
Staff at Disneyland were incredibly friendly, smiley and very talented. They are able to switch seamlessly from one language to another; from what I gathered all staff speak French, English, Spanish and German. In that order. And I’m sure they can speak Italian and possibly Mandarin too as there was a lot of Asian people there. Just amazing! Language barrier is really the least of your concerns at DLP.
The Fireworks: Disney Illuminations
This has to be the real highlight of my Disneyland trip and I am so so glad we didn’t leave before it. Everyone gathers in the centre around 9pm onwards for a good spot and I don’t blame them. However we decided to head back to the Western World and go for our dinner. We dined at The Lucky Nugget Saloon which was affordable and tasty. A meal deal for dinner was 21.99 euros and for that you get a main dish, side, dessert and soft drink. The service was quick and super easy – we queue to order, pay and get seated shortly after. That took around 15mins and our food arrived at our table around 5mins after being seated. We took our time to enjoy our meal which was delicious – I had the rack of ribs and Daddy P and co had the fish with chips. We didn’t opt for dessert. We left the restaurant around 10.30pm and by then the park will filled with people waiting for the fireworks display. We walked all the way to the park entrance as we wanted to be one of the first to leave and had a decent spot watching the illuminations. We didn’t stay for the whole thing which is around 30mins but we watched the majority before running off to catch the train home. If we were staying at the park’s resort we wouldn’t be in a rush and take our time to find a good spot close to the Sleeping Beauty castle which is where they project the illuminations from. All I can say is whatever you do, stay for the show. Don’t miss it because it really does highlight your whole experience.
Top Tip: If you want to make it home before the crowd, leave the park slightly before the end of the illuminations. You can do this by choosing a good viewing spot close to the park entrance so you can make a quick escape.
Depature Day: back home to London
We decided to have another lie-in as we didn’t get home until 1am the night before from DLP so we woke up 9am and checked out by 11am. We stopped off at McDonalds for ‘brunch’ – I forgot to mention that McDs in Paris offers macarons as a dessert! They are delicious and quite cheap, around 95 cents per maracon but I’m sure you can get a pack of 6 or 8 for a discounted rate. It was pouring down with rain on Saturday so our plans for going to see the Eiffel tower and Montmartre was out of the question. Not when we hadn’t packed any weather-proof or warm coats with us, we didn’t want to risk getting wet and coming down with colds when we get back home. We managed to get the metro to the Louvre Museum and hid there most of the day. After here, we made it to the station where we waited until it was our time to go home.
Top Tip: there are no free toilet facilities at the Louvre – it cost between 1.10-2.00 euros to use the toilet here so make sure you have some change with you.
We got to Gare du Nord by catching the metro from Louvre to Gare d’lest then changing at the station for the train to Gare du Nord. After spending a few hours wandering around the station, we headed upstairs to check into our Eurostar journey. There is a small children’s corner on the platform for kids to burn off some of their energy. Little Man did some reading, some colouring in and Little Miss joined in every now and then. There’s also a Paul’s Bakery and Costa Coffee on the platform for you to enjoy – yay!
The highlights of Disneyland:
A chance to see all of the characters at the parades
No need to pay for additional rides
Fast-pass ticket with every admission ticket
Public transport nearby (train station is opposite the park)
Ample car parking spaces
The downside of Disneyland:
Very long queues and wait times
Expensive and limited food choices
Expensive car parking charges (around 26 euros)
Expensive buggy hire (around 30 euros)
In summary, I definitely recommend going if you’ve never been before. It really is a wonderful experience despite the negatives. Yes, it can cost a fortune but the magic is still there and you’d see it in your children’s eyes. Just make sure you take them at an age that they can actually enjoy it (3 years and above) otherwise it wouldn’t be worth it unless you can really afford to spend at least £800+ on a few days. Booking during off season is a very good idea – avoid UK and French school holidays and you should find cheaper park prices and low park capacity.
I hope you enjoyed this blog review. We are looking forward to going back but whether that’ll be next year or in a few year’s time we’re not sure yet. It was definitely a memorable experience and we all enjoyed it thoroughly. 🙂 You can watch a video of our day trip on Youtube:youtu.be/Kgxoc1K3_gc
9 days until my 30th birthday & our journey to Paris… 10 days until Little Man’s birthday & our day trip to Disneyland Paris!
We are all SUPER EXCITED!
It’ll be our whole family’s first time to Disneyland and we are so excited for it! We’ve started preparing what we’re going to bring and wear including those insta-worthy Mickey Mouse ears which we’ve bought from Ebay for £3 each! It’s so much cheaper online than buying on the day or at the Disney store but if you prefer to splash and go all out then definitely purchase your official Disney ears prior to DL to save yourself some cash.
Disneyland Paris via Eurostar
We’ll be travelling via the Eurostar from London St. Pancras. I managed to bag tickets during a summer sale promo for £29pp per way which was a bargain! The Eurostar will take us from London to Paris in just under two hours which works well for us as we’ve booked an evening journey so will arrive in time for dinner. We’ve decided that we will play it by ear and see how the kids feel on the day before deciding where we will eat. If the kids are super tired, we’ll have an early night instead.
One thing I really love about London is how well connected everything is. Sure our transportation has its good and bad days but no-one can fault how easily accessible it is to travel around the country and abroad from London.
My 30th Birthday Plan
I can’t believe how quickly the years fly by! Being an August baby means I get to see nearly all of my friends turn 30 before I do – not a bad thing – but it makes me feel slightly pressured to do something BIG. We’ll see how that’ll pan out as I don’t have anything planned right now with friends.
However, on the morning of my birthday I’ve managed to book free tickets to SKY GARDEN which is going to be amazing! Insta-worthy photos, here I come! I’ve also just treated myself to a Fenty Beauty bronzer and highlighter kit so let’s pray that does me some justice… now to just plan an outfit fit for the occasion… plus or minus a 30th birthday tiara! Then after my morning birthday breakfast treat, we’ll probably just wander around London with the kids then get back home for a quick afternoon nap before leaving for the Eurostar journey.
We will board our Eurostar to Paris around 6pm and arrive at Gare du Nord Paris. We will be staying at the Renaissance in La Defense – the financial district. As it’s summer, I’m hoping it won’t be too busy around the area but pray the weather will be nice enough for us to explore Paris on the Saturday before we depart as we’ll certainly be spending all day Friday at Disneyland Paris.
20.00 Arrival at Paris Gare du Nord (depart from London St. Pancras)
21.00 Hotel check-in and dinner at hotel or local restaurant
07.00 Breakfast at hotel, then straight out on RER to D’Land
FULL DAYDisneyland Paris + dinner at the resort 22.00 Night illuminations and park closing parade
23.00 Back to hotel for bedtime
08.00 Breakfast at hotel and pack bags for hotel check-out
12.00 Visit to Jardin D’acclimatation
15.00 Late lunch at a local restaurant
16.00 Eiffel Tower visit
18.00 Depart from Paris Gare du Nord (return to London St. Pancras)
I’m going to try and document our Disneyland family vacay as much as I can and will add to my instagram stories so if you’d like to check out our trip, follow me at @mannyngo_yogi
On Saturday 8th June, a new (and free!) outdoor play space, Cator Park, had opened up at Kidbrooke Village. Unfortunately I work the weekends and was unable to attend the launch but judging from the images below, the opening turned out a big success with many families enjoying the space and the sun! Lucky bunch!
Children can jump, climb, swing and slide to their heart’s content. The park also incorporates a series of stepping stones designed by local children, dotted around the park alongside a number of brass rubbings as part of an educational ecology trail.
There was also a fete going on at the launch opening which offered craft sessions and learning sessions about the local animals and wildlife with London Wildlife Trust. Families and children learnt about “how the ‘rewilding’ of the green space is helping to increase biodiversity and encouraging birds, mammals, amphibians and insects to make their home among the plantlife.”
It’s really nice to see that the local authority and government are trying their best to utilise the green spaces we already have and create refreshing new ones for the local community to enjoy.
To find out more about Kidbrooke Village and the new play space visit the Kidbrooke Village Community Facebook page (@kidbrookevillage).
The only one thing that makes our wet Christmas great is all that quality time we get with the kids.
I’m not talking about just being stuck in the house with the hyperactive chipmunks but actual quality time for bonding and doing things together. My terrible two drive me INSANE nearly every day but somehow, at Christmas time it seems to be the only time where we love being together, crafting and making things.
We put up our Christmas tree yesterday and it looks beautiful. I let the kids put up a few of the decorations and did the lights and glass decorations myself. I managed to salvage some of the beautiful glass decorations we had from last year. A LOT were smashed as Ame decided she wanted to play with them and Little Man wanted to do the same.
I’ve decided that doing some Christmassy crafts together would be the way to go this year as the kids are showing more interest in that sort of stuff. I’ve compiled a list of 35 Christmas things to do with the family in Greenwich and around London… in case you run out of ideas!
June 2018 was the release of the sequel to Jurassic World, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. I had seen the critic’s reviews before we went to see the film so I didn’t know what to make of it all as the reviews weren’t great. Some reviews were slaughtering the film and saying how rubbish it was, others were a little less harsh and said it would be great for dino-loving children but it’s not for adults who loved the 2015 movie.
We went to see Jurassic World 2 in the first week of the release at our local cinema at the Millennium Leisure Park. There was even a special dino appearance with Dextor the dinosaur! The dinosaurs were very popular amongst the public and many people including children were brave enough to take photos with the beasts.
LO was very brave and stroked the baby dinosaurs. He was slightly afraid of Dexter because he was much bigger but did eventually get close enough to admire the triceratops from a distance.
The staff at Odeon Greenwich were lovely – as they usually are. This is our local cinema and they are always very welcome to families of all ages. I was slightly weary of how Baby Girl was going to react during the film but she was very well behaved. There was online
The Millennium Leisure Park is becoming the new lifestyle go-to place; there’s the cinema, Costa Coffee, Pizza Hut, Nandos and Prezzo to eat at, B&Q to buy all of your homeware things (my go-to place for my new allotment!) AND the new IKEA is finally taking shape! The IKEA has caused a lot of contraversy with the locals including myself – it’ll either be fantastic or a complete nightmare due to the amount of footfall and traffic that will pass the area… I’m positive about the new store opening and cannot wait! 🙂
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (for us) was a good watch and I thought even though the storyline was a little simple, it was easy to follow making it suitable for young families to enjoy. Both LO and Baby Girl stayed interested in the story from start to finish – they absolutely loved the character Blue and LO was very keen to learn more about her back story. He said his favourite bit in the film was when Owen defended Blue but then she got shot and they had to nurse her better. I think the last fighting scene between Blue (the velociraptor) and the new hybrid Indoraptor was very good with lots of cool special effects.
I can understand how some film critics found the storyline to be a little thin (the story does not go into much detail about certain events) as some unexplained scenes left me slightly confused. Also, the concept of dinosaurs walking with us in today’s world is a little far-fetched. I was also a little sad with how it ended ie. what will happen to the world with the dinosaurs now supposedly loose? Also, the giant herbivore that was left behind to die on Isla Nublar was really sad. These gentle giants were left to die whilst vicious carnivores were transported away for keeping and cross-breeding. We later found out that they were selling the dinosaurs on the black market to the highest bidders. What they’d be used for, we can only imagine…
The film wasn’t as dramatic as the first Jurassic World. Saying this, it’s definitely a good watch for children and families but as an adult I’d probably expect more suspense, more plot and a thorough storyline. Despite all of this, I did think the socio-environment factors the film touched upon was very interesting. As humans, we are always curious to experiment but personally I think the old saying “curiousity killed the cat” is something to remember here.
After we got back home from the Millennium Leisure Park, Daddy P got LO a Jurassic World sticker book which he loved! He’s always asking me for the next Jurassic World toys (we got LO Blue and the dinosaur truck she was transported in from SMYTHS last month because he wouldn’t stop going on about it).
LO is ALWAYS talking about Jurassic World and watching snippets of it on YouTube. That’s how much he loves JW so if you have kids that love dinosaurs, getting this as a DVD present for a birthday or Christmas would be a good idea. I think we will have to this year. It’s our birthdays this week so either I might just have to buy it for him as an early treat! 🙂
Listen to some free live music at The Tramshed Woolwich by Sounds of The World group
Check out circus act Project_Vee perform juggling tricks to excite and scare you at Greenwich Park
Prefer to watch a show instead? Head down to The Tramshed Woolwich and watch Magical Moggie at 3pm which is suitable for all ages. Magical Moggie is a multi-sensory production suitable for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities, and their families
Get out and about with this free Greenwich Walking Tour but be aware, it’s not your standard walking tour… discover hidden building signs, chiselled graffiti and more
Join in the interactive Transbook exhibition down at Discover Children’s Story Centre in Stratford; “we set new rules for the reader, rules that let the reader play, take action, feel a story and dive into it.”
Wishing you all a fabulous bank holiday weekend and happy half-term holidays!
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.
The Greenwich Wintertime Festival – December 1st-31st 2017
With Christmas around the corner, there’s a host of winter markets, wonderlands and festivals for you to visit this December. This year, people can go to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, Winterville in Clapham and even Portobello market are doing a mini festival called the Portobello Winter Festival. Luckily for us Greenwich locals, we get to have our own winter festival right on our doorstep!
The Greenwich Wintertime Festival is located on the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College – just a stone throw away from the infamous Greenwich market. You can enjoy the wonderful surroundings of historical Greenwich whilst exploring the festival and other parts of the town. We were invited to head down last Sunday and boy did we have a good time! Ticket prices start from £15 for adults (£20 includes the ice-skating session) and from £8 for children.
Here’s what we got up to…
Arrival: First Impressions
We were booked for the Sunday afternoon slot and had arrived just a little after our session had started. I ended up leaving Baby Girl at home as she was sleeping… she was still asleep when we got home so she must’ve been tired! Checking in was pretty easy and there were no queues. One of the staff members on hand even volunteered to take our photo for us and of course we accepted without hesitation! It’s always nice to get someone to take a photo of us, we’re so used to selfies.
When we got our wristbands and went through, we were surprised at how big the venue was. I never realised how big the grounds of the Old Naval College was until walking around the place We had a sneak peak of the ice rink and decided that we would go their at the end of our visit. We had a little wander around then found some elves who were lining up children (and parents) to see Santa!
Time to see Santa!
A little selfie with Santa
Goody bag post-visit
Fascinated with the fairy lights
The Santa Experience
The elves ushered us along a tree-lined path which was lit up with fairy lights and larger colourful lights lit the floor of the pathway. As it was still light, we couldn’t see the full effect of the colours but I can imagine, the pathway would’ve looked beautiful as the sky got darker. We ended up in a room that was actually Santa’s secret launch pad! We had an interactive experience with the big man himself who came out to take a selfie with all the children at the end of the experience. All children were given goody gifts upon leaving the pad which was a nice touch to the experience. Inside our goody bag was a pop-out Wintertime Fest Christmas tree, an electronic light-up spiky ball, and a Christmas cookie shortbread.
The Shopping (well, lack of for me!)
Without a doubt, there will always be a winter market ready for you to splash some of your cash. Unfortunately for me, this week hasn’t been a good one financially so I wasn’t able to grab any gifts at the festival but there was loads of things I was eyeing up. Like the wonderful filled gift boxes at RockBox – all of the boxes are amazing but my personal fave is their resolutions box. 🙂 LO was really drawn to the dinosaur purses at The Lion Sparkles. It was really sparkly and the dinosaur shapes were very good! My personal fave from them was their black ROAR tote bag which I cannot find on their website. is now available on their website!! Check it out guys, it’s only £9.50 – a bargain!
Mmmm… these cinnamon sugar-dusted churros were divine… and that melted chocolate dip was heavenly!
Food vans.. the Pulled van serves an amazing pulled pork brioche burger!
More food vans and stalls… I highly recommend the Churros van!
There was only one row of food vans so there wasn’t an overwhelming choice of food to eat. In my opinion, it was all a little pricey but then again, it’s about the same kind of price you’d pay at most winter wonderland/market events. The good thing was everyone’s pricing was near enough the same as each other. £7 would get you a burger or taco or burrito and £3-4 would buy you a decent portion of chips. Sweet things like dessert waffles were £6 and churros were £5 for a regular cup and £7 for a large cup, complete with chocolate dipping sauce which tasted like melted chocolate – divine!
I highly recommend the cinnamon churros at Love Churros and ‘The Porker’ burger at Pulled. If you’re not a pork fan or meat, the taco van had some amazing tacos and burritos. There was also a seafood burger van serving soft-shell crab burgers which sounded amazing but the pulled pork was calling me… Super yums! We sat down in the seating area of the heated covered tent (where the silent disco takes place) to eat our burger and chips. We didn’t feel cold at all, the outdoor heaters they had were really good and everyone around us looked like they were having a good time.
Whilst tucking into our delicious churros, we headed over to the entertainment tent and sat down to hear We Are Trackless perform some wonderful Christmas carols and songs. Then there was a beat-boxing performance which involved the audience taking part. It was really good and was nice to see people joining in too. The performances here vary from day to day so make sure you check out what’s in store on the day. We were quite happy to just sit down and watch it all. If you’re heading down here on December 9th or 17th (both Sundays), there will be a special screening of the iconic Christmas film, The Snowman which will include a live brass band to accompany the film music.
The ice rink when we arrived was almost empty!
The spectacular ice skating performance
LO enjoying being pushed on the seal aid
Caught in action!
The Ice Skating Rink
We left this one to the end which was like the icing on the cake for us. Before our skate session, there was a spectacular performance by the ice rink team who are actually freestyle dancers. After the performance ended, they opened the rink for the public. It has been years since I last put on a pair of skates but damn did it feel good to get back on the ice! I had a bit of the wobbles on the ice but holding onto LO’s seal aid helped. 🙂 Best of all, LO absolutely loved it! He had told me before he didn’t like the ice so for him to get on and skate with me was amazing even though I pushed him for 90% of our ice skating time.
The ice skating session is only 30 mins long which was enough for us. I also think we were allowed to skate for much longer. The rink is a decent size for both experienced skaters and complete first-timers. It was definitely big enough for us to enjoy without feeling intimidated. If you’re heading onto the ice, opt for the earlier sessions as it’s less busy then and would be a nicer experience for the children or people who aren’t that confident on the ice. Don’t forget to pick a seal aid if you need a bit of help skating.
The whole rink has a large viewing/standing area for people who are not going on the ice and there’s a small bar serving hot, cold and alcoholic beverages to keep you going. Once we were ready to leave the ice, it was approaching 5:30pm so we fufilled our three-hour time slot which seemed to have gone by really quickly. I asked LO if he would like to skate again and he said yes with a genuine smile on his face which really made my day and the burst blister on my right bony foot all worthwhile. 🙂
Our verdict… we loved it! I’d recommend the Greenwich Wintertime Festival to anyone who’s looking for a smaller venue but has all the features of a larger event. This place is fantastic for families with younger children, or for people who prefer something quieter and less chaotic than the giant venues like Winter Wonderland. The festival was busy and bustling but not enough to feel over-crowded which was perfect for us!
I just came across this video from Videoblogg showing you around the festival – you can watch it here(opens a new window)
I’ve read a lot of bad reviews about the Wintertime Festival and had a couple of comments on this post about the high prices (it is quite pricey!) and lack of things to see/do so I just wanted to highlight the pros & cons of the festival for those who plan on going so you can make up your own mind…
It’s a small and intimate winter festival on the Old Royal Naval College grounds (lovely surroundings) – there’s no loud music or massive crowds
It’s in the heart of Greenwich so you can also enjoy other things nearby ie. the old market, Greenwich Park, Cutty Sark and the National Maritime Museum. If you have time, the Mudchute animal farm is only a 30mins walk via the foot tunnel (or take the DLR)
Pre-book the package that includes the ice skating for the best deal
It’s different from your standard winter festivals – the stalls sell curated, British-made goods from small (some are London-based), independent businesses, artists and designers – a great way of supporting independent British businesses!
The entertainment was good and varies throughout the day – there’s also a silent disco for those who want to boogie
There’s outdoor heaters in the eating areas which was nice but you still need to dress up warm especially if you’re out late
Wintertime Fest is a contemporary event; alternative festivals are not everyone’s bag of tea so keep this in mind
The entry fee is a lot of money if you are expecting a lot more for your money. I’d suggest pre-booking the ice-skating package (£20 per adult) to get the best deal. For me, the skating was the highlight of our day at the festival and I’d happily pay the price to skate on the beautiful grounds again
It’s a small festival, so there’s limited food and drink options (which are quite pricey). The gift stalls are independent small businesses so you won’t find the usual continental goods sold at winter festivals ie. gingerbread cookies, German sausages, cheeses, mass-produced toys
There are no rides for very young children (under 4yrs) so there’s not much to do apart from ice-skating so this festival wouldn’t really be a good choice for new parents or those with toddlers. You might enjoy the carousel by the Cutty Sark and National Maritime museum more
No ATMs on site so make sure you take out cash before entering or be prepared to pay for everything via card. There’s no re-entry once you’ve gone in
The Santa experience is NOT a Santa’s Grotto one-on-one experience – we enjoyed the Santa experience but was disappointed that there was no one-to-one photo opportunity with Santa
I hope this updated section helps and I am really sorry for those who have been and didn’t enjoy the festival as we really liked it and not because we were gifted the tickets but because we enjoyed the calmer and quieter atmosphere, the churros and definitely the ice skating.
[#ad] We received a complimentary family ticket to attend the Greenwich Wintertime Festival. All words, opinions and photos are my own and this unbiased review is a true representation of our experience.