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.
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.
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).
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.
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!
The last two people in the World… Find the last book in the World… And it’s a book all about something called ‘Christmas’…
The performance focuses on the two characters, Trilby and The Boot (who are great actors and hilarious!) in an apocalyptic style setting. Surrounded by nothing more than debris and odd household bits and bobs, the two take us on an interactive but intimate performance which was thrilling and super funny to watch.
After we checked in to the theatre, we were shown the way to a small black tent and was told we were to enter through this way. I thought it was a joke at first but it wasn’t – lucky for me I am short so it was easy getting through but I did get stuck on the other side getting out! I guess for nimble children it’s much easier but I loved the quirky first impression. We were able to choose our seats and decided to get front-row seats. It was really nice and close – so close that we could also touch the actors!
I took both LO and Baby Girl with me this time and not sure if I was making a mistake in doing so but she was really well-behaved (until towards the last 20 mins of the show) when we sat down. Before the start of the performance, there is an interactive craft workshop that’s put on for the kids to get involved in making the props for the show (which also gets used in the show too!). As we came when the performance started, we had missed this workshop which was a shame as I think LO would’ve liked to make something that he’d known would be used during the performance.
Trilby and Boot don’t speak English – they have their own alien language which ironically you can work out what’s being said through some of the words said, the actor’s actions and body language. The gestures, sounds and expressions that the actors use outweigh the baby-babble. It just goes to show that we don’t have to understand words in order to understand what’s being said.
Everybody was laughing and was really enjoying the performance. My plus one said she really enjoyed the show and I think the kids had a whale of a time! For me, Baby Girl started to get restless in the last 20mins so I had to stand up with her at the back of the room. The staff were super accommodating and understanding. The production team is very small but they made everything really seamless from the lighting to the music to looking after the audience.
Snow-pocalypse is shown in the studio and not the main theatre room, it’s a much smaller and intimate atmosphere which was lovely and works really well with the interactive performance. Don’t be surprised if Trilby or Boot ask you to snap a photo or for them! 🙂
Here are some of the photos we took of the kids at the end of the performance with the snow machine. Look at LO’s hair!! It looked crazy but he didn’t mind. He loved it actually. We all did.
Well done SharkLegs for coming up with such a fantastically interactive production and thank you Greenwich Theatre for putting it on show. We thoroughly enjoyed watching it!
NB. We were given tickets to watch Snow-Pocalypse at Greenwich Theatre. All words, opinions and content are my own except for the press images which were supplied to me, courtesy of Sharklegs & Greenwich Theatre.
With Halloween night just a week away, there’s plenty to do this October half-term. There’s lots going on in the Greenwich area but if you fancy venturing out a little more, here are some of the best events that I’ve come across so far that’s suitable for the whole family, some are free and some are paid so there’s something to suit everyone!
Eltham Palace Gardens, SE9 (events throughout the week)
From creepy crafts and a fancy dress competition for the kids to pumpkin carving for the whole family, head down to Eltham Palace one day this week for some fun-filled entertainment. Pumpkin carvings cost £4 and on at select times; see here for more info
Discover Stratford Children’s Centre, E15 (events throughout the week)
2pm – Chris Wormell Dinosaurium book signing event. If your little one is dinosaur-mad then this is event is not to be missed. Chris Wormell will be reading from his book and the book signing will be at the end of the event. If you’re only free for the morning, don’t miss out on
11:30am – The Gruffalo film screening. For one day only, it’s going to be a popular one so pre-booking is essential. Entry to events includes admission to Discover’s story world and storytelling space. While you’re there, why not book to see the Gruffalo and other stories exhibition? It’s on throughout the week and at different times during the day. See the full list of events at Discover Stratford here
Greenwich Market, SE10 (events throughout the week)
Kids Halloween craft workshops will be on at Greenwich Market from Monday to Thursday. They are drop in sessions so no need to book in advance. There will be other workshops and events going on throughout the week (see below). More info on Greenwich Market events here
Greenwich Market, SE10 (events throughout the week)
2pm – Free Flying Mat Kids yoga (also on Wednesday). Time to downard dog and rest in child’s pose. Treat the kids to a fun yoga flow in a bustling environment. No need to book, just turn up and have fun!
Museum of London Docklands, E14
Dear Zoo storytelling for under 5s – this storytelling of Rod Campbell’s Dear Zoo looks at the animals that arrived on London’s docks years ago. At the end of the storytelling, an interactive session of learning how to build crates with different materials should have the children interested and excited. Best of all, the event is free and there’s three time slots for the day. More details on the Dear Zoo storytelling here
Charlton House, SE7
10 to 1pm (drop-in) – Holiday Histories: Haunted Houses. This fun workshop is ideal for kids wanting to exhaust their creativity and craft skills. Learn how to make a haunted house using a variety of different materials. Create something extravagant like a centrepiece or something smaller as decoration. The session cost £1.50 per child and the price is inclusive of all the materials for the session. Suitable for age 4+, more info on the haunted house craft at Charlton House here
Trinity Laban Conservatoire for Dance and Music, SE8
11am and 2pm (BSL interpreted performance) – Cia Maduixa presents DOT digital dance performance. If your kids are more of a culture vulture or love the performing arts, head down to Trinity Laban to watch this amazing dance performance by dance company Cia Maduixa. Press releases describe the performance as “blending precise digital projections, with dancers’ bodies and a bespoke score, DOT is as mind-bogglingly clever as it is charming.” Want to see a snippet? Watch the DOT performance trailer here
Greenwich Market, SE10
10am to 4pm – Miss Libby Rose Sewing workshop. The sewing costume workshops are for kids only and due to popularity we must state it is just one costume per child. The costume making choices for this year are: Spooky Pirates, Wicked Witch, Curious Cat, Halloween (or Frozen) Princess, Zombie, Dracula, and Day of the Dead. There will be a fashion show of all the costumes at 4pm and a winner will be chosen for best design.
Greenwich National Maritime Museum, SE10
11am to 4pm – Halloween party: Lost in the ice! Join us on a horrifying journey through the icy depths of the Maritime Museum at our annual family Halloween party. There will also be a spooky story parade, a portable photo booth to take scary selfies for memories and a trick or treat trail. Tickets cost £8. Read more about the Halloween party here
The Vanbrugh Pub, SE10
12pm to 4pm – The Vanbrugh Funday. A fun day for all the family; there will be face painting, best dressed competition, apple bobbing, pumpkin carving, lots of frightfully good food and live music from 8pm to end your night in a fangtastic way! More details here on The Vanbrugh pub’s website
Cutty Sark Gardens, SE10
10am to 4:30pm – Halloween in Greenwich by Events Inspire: The event is aimed at families and offers lots of Halloween themed activities each day. On Sunday, there will be craft activity (Halloween mask making), storytelling, a magic show, Punch & Judy puppet show, costume parade and finish off with some spooky music. There will also be street food and drink stalls, jewellery and craft stalls. The full programme can be seen on the Eventbrite page here where you can register for your free tickets.
The Albany Deptford, SE8
2pm to 5pm – Disco Kids: Spooktacular party. Get dressed in your spookiest get up and head over to The Albany this Sunday for a fantastic disco party! Suitable for kids age 7+ and adults too! Expect fun, fun and more fun! Tickets cost £6, family tickets £20.
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Music. Food. Fun.
That’s pretty much everything you would want or expect from a festival. When I received an email asking if I would like to head down to a local festival event I was really excited. The On Blackheath Music Festival was held over the first weekend of school – LO had just started his first day that week and thought it would be a nice treat for LO and me to go along.
We arrived on Blackheath green around 2-3pm. It was so windy but LO was so excited to go to a festival, he didn’t even feel the cold. I picked up my ticket from the desk office and was given a pass which allowed me to come and go as I wish. The festival was massive and I couldn’t help but think to myself that if the day was sunnier there would’ve been much more people.
Working out where most things were, LO and I headed over to the family playground area first. I was on a tight budget so kept him away from all the paid stuff although he could see the helter skelter clearly and was begging to go on it. It was only £2.50 a ride but I had no cash on me. There were cash machines inside the festival but it didn’t offer free withdrawals so I stuck to my guns and told LO just to enjoy the free stuff instead. We went near to the children’s tent where there was a storytelling going on and comedian Julian Clary was signing his latest children’s book in the smaller tent beside it. I wrote a post last year about Julian Clary reading with children so I really wanted to meet him but he was gone by the time we made our way over to his tent. Maybe next time.
LO had so much fun on the pirate’s ship by the Albion Kids Show, he was a little hesitant at first but then got stuck in climbing about and really enjoyed it. He didn’t want to leave! When I started to feel little droplets of rain, I took LO and ushered us inside the children’s tent to listen to the storytelling by Mike Dodsworth. He had an amazing energy and was able to hold the children’s attention for a full 60mins with the power of his words and story. We came in halfway but figured out that it was a story about a prince who was searching for a beautiful princess. He found such a princess but she was locked up under the sea in a castle that was guarded by a giant fish. The prince learnt how to swim and catch the giant fish with his net, free the princess and brought her back to her kingdom. It was a lovely story and there was even a chance for everyone to take part in the story by acting out little parts in the story. LO is really into children’s books like these, especially Julia Donaldson ones so I was very happy that he enjoyed the storytelling too.
When the storytelling ended LO and I wandered further down into the festival. We saw the main stage where singer, KT Tunstall was next in line to perform and I managed to just catch a glimpse of the John Lewis live cooking stage however wasn’t able to get to it to sit down and watch. LO was starting to tire so I got us a pizza and drink to liven us up – it was a pepperoni one and was so tasty but quite pricey at £10.00 a pizza. We watched KT Tunstall perform ‘Black Horse and the Cherry Tree’ and ‘The Other Side of the World’. It wasn’t until it was halfway into Black Horse that I looked down and saw that LO was sleeping whilst standing and realised it was time for us to go home. The night was still young (at 5pm) and I didn’t want to leave. I told myself that I would take LO home, get changed then head back out. That didn’t happen.
We got into our Uber and headed home. Once we got indoors, I didn’t want to leave the warmth to stand in the cold. I love my warmth and with winter soon coming, I didn’t want to increase my risk of getting chilblains as I have poor circulation in my feet. Regardless of leaving early, we had a fabulous time. I was gutted I wasn’t able to see any live cooking demos as that was one of the main reasons I was really excited to go to the On Blackheath festival but when you have little ones, their needs need to come first and unfortunately for me that meant us leaving early to let bubba rest.
I’d definitely love to come back next year and hope that we will be greeted with warmer weather. It’s a brilliant local event and I’m so glad it comes round every year. 🙂
This is a collaborative post with John Lewis. I was given two tickets to attend the On Blackheath Music Festival. All words, opinions and photos are my own.
The Hunting of the Snark is heading to Greenwich Theatre on Sunday 24th September following a West End run this summer. The production is based on Lewis Carroll’s poem and follows a ragtag gang of bold adventurers as they set off on a quest to catch the mythical Snark.
The show is suitable for children from ages 4+ and will start on Sunday at 14:00 and is said to be a great one so don’t miss out, there’s still tickets available. If you are in Greenwich and looking for something to do with the family, treat them to a fun day out to the theatre. LO loves the theatre and we are always looking for our next show to go and watch.
If you’re too eager to see what the performance will entail, I can grant you a sneaky peek… just take a look below, taken from the cast’s press performance of the show:
“Side-splittingly funny, joyful, fast-paced and bursting with a soundtrack of witty songs by an award-winning songwriter, The Hunting of the Snark is a tour de force that‘ll delight, excite and entertain…” – Snark Productions
The show looks amazing. I’m really sad that I won’t be able to take LO to go and see it because the photos above have really got me intrigued to see how the whole show pans out. Just look at all those bright colours and that man in the crazy ruffle costume is sure to get some laughs from the audience. I think this show is going to be one that both the kids and parents will enjoy, expect to laugh hard and often! 🙂
After the one-day performance at Greenwich Theatre the show will be moving around the UK as part of its national UK tour which is set to end mid-November.
During August, Museum of London Docklands had put on a range of free events for the whole family. These included workshops like jewellery making and creating artwork as well as story-telling days and interactive workshops about the history of London’s tunnels.
The Tunnel: Archaeology of Crossrail exhibition displayed objects that were recovered from the construction dig including as human remains that were found in Liverpool Street, Victorian chamber pots that were found near Stepney Green, and Crosse and Blackwell jars that were found near Tottenham Court road.
Alongside the Tunnel exhibition, an interactive workshop called Time Tunnellers. We were invited to attend the blogger’s launch of the over 5’s workshop but missed it due to bad weather and traffic. We still made it to the museum, just not to the event so we explored the museum instead. We had a look at the permanent collections at the museum. LO was really fascinated with the cutlass display and the whale tooth carving in the city and river gallery.
Canary Wharf crossing over to West India Quay
City and River gallery: Cutlass display
Sailortown gallery: spooky!
Trade Expansion gallery: imported goods at the docks
No1 Warehouse gallery: trading docks silent video
New Port, New City gallery: Life in the East End
Time Tunnellers workshop
On LO’s birthday, we returned back to the Docklands museum and booked in for the free Time Tunnellers workshop. LO started off being really scared of taking part in the event so we had to take it all a bit slowly. As he warmed up to the workshop and saw the other children taking part, he started to become a little more at ease with the activity and got stuck in. I think he ended up really liking the workshop. Below is a slideshow of photos from the workshop. I found it really fascinating and the staff were really interactive and got the children and adults all participating at one point. 🙂 Some of the artefacts on display at the workshop were real findings from the actual Crossrail excavation such as the glazed ceramic pieces.
After the workshop, we spent a little more time exploring the museum again. We checked out the Children Mudlarks gallery which is a free play area at the museum (needs to be pre-booked online or at the museum) but didn’t stay long enough as it was time for me to go to work… the joys of part-time work and parenting!
There’s always lots going on at this museum and I think people tend to forget about it compared to the bigger museums like the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich and Museum of London in Barbican. If you’re nearby the docklands, head over to this museum for a bit of history – the kids will definitely love it and I’m sure grown-ups will too!