Aye Aye Captain! A day with Go Boat

go boat

So we headed on down to Paddington at the weekend to go try out a little boat trip with Go Boat.  Literally about a 5 minute walk from the station, it couldn’t be easier to get there.  We got welcomed by a super friendly chap who put the kids at ease and started off our journey in a very relaxed way.  Just to be clear, the boat is an electric powered open top one, not an actual canal boat, so extremely easy to drive which is a good job, because on this boat, you, or one of your family/friends will be captain.  There is no guide or supervision which makes it all the more relaxing.  The kids were supplied with lifejackets, a pirate hat, sticker and balloon and then we were set free to explore for 2 hours.

The boat was super easy to drive and the route very straightforward too.  You go to Little Venice, past Regents Park and London Zoo and can continue to Camden.  We decided to not go the whole way, we had a 2 and 4 year old on the boat and attention spans are short, we didn’t want to push our luck.  We took a picnic with us and the trip was so relaxing, bar the odd toddler escape to see Daddy.  There were plenty of ducks, a dark long tunnel to navigate your way through, animals at London Zoo to spot and a shed load of canal folk.  Canal life is pretty darn special and the people we met along the way were all really friendly adding to the experience.

The kids played Captain, Daddy played Captain and me well I just sat back (kind of) and lapped it all up.  Was a bit gutted when it was time to head back but the toddler was needing sleep so it was perfect timing.  It was mega easy handing the boat back, in fact I was amazed at how easy and stress free the whole experience was.

Our verdict

Absolutely loved it!  I’m not going to lie I was a little nervous about the 2 year old on an open top boat but there was plenty to keep him amused and it felt mega safe.  A fabulous way to see London and experience canal life and a super fun way to spend the day as a family.  I am already planning the next trip.

Tips if you visit

There were 4 of us on the boat but you can have up to 8, so would totally recommend going with more people…for the extra pair of hands to help with the kids and also to keep costs down.  Take a picnic, and ALL the snacks and be realistic with your timing with young children, there is no toilet on the boat and no one wants an angry, restless, tired toddler on their hands.

Costs vary but 2 hours on a boat at the weekend costs £109, up to 8 people can enjoy a Go Boat at one time.  For more information head to https://goboat.co.uk.

 

The day we had tea with a Tiger at the Discover Children’s Story Centre

TigerThe Discover Children’s Story Centre is an absolute dream for young kiddies and a total haven for us parents.  A place where imaginations come alive and stories become reality, we have always had a soft spot for this East London treasure.  The immersive exhibitions are consistently fantastic but ‘The Tiger who Came to Tea and the Adventures of Mog the Forgetful Cat’ is, in my view, its best one yet.  First you enter the house of Sophie and her parents and you embark on the Judith Kerr adventure with a truly wonderful story teller.  My 4 year old is not one to sit and listen to stories but it was so inviting and fun, it had her gripped.  The children are encouraged to take part and both my 2 and 4 year old got totally involved.  A thoroughly enjoyable start to the session which then leads you into the exhibition.  I reckon I must have repeatedly said ‘Wow’ throughout the duration, let alone the kids.  There is so much for them to get their hands on, with fancy dress, a giant cat flap you can crawl through, a garden, slides, shops, a bus you can ride, a crocodile under the bed and so much more, you are immediately transported into the world of 14 Judith Kerr books and what a magical world it is.

Our verdict

It was amazing and we are so excited to get back to investigate further.  It is an experience you could go back to many times and was an absolute hit with both children, I think I will be hearing about their tea with the Tiger for quite some time.  The attention to detail is spot on making the whole experience really quite magical and the best bit…the kids are encouraged to make as much mess as they like, and us parents don’t have to clear it up, hoorah!

Tips if you visit

Make sure you check out their tiger themed cupcakes in the café…the Tiger hadn’t yet got his hands on those.

The exhibition is now open and is running until September 2019.  It is aimed at families aged 0-8 and ticket prices are £8 for adults and children, £3.50 for one year olds and children under one go free.  It is strongly recommended that you book in advance to avoid disappointment.  You can book on https://booking.discover.org.uk/

 

 

What’s on Half Term…

Half Term

Launching just in time for half term, a brand new family trail is now available to pick up at the POSTAL MUSEUM, taking wanabee engineers around the Mail Rail exhibition. Other activities over half term include, create a busy engineers toolbox with an illustrator, build your own Air Mail glider plane, take part in an arty painting workshop, design your own mail mover and make your own Victorian top hat.

Its ‘Mysteries of the Dark’ family festival time at the NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM over half term.  Shine a light on the amazing creatures that live in the dark.  Make your way around the Orange Zone and drop in on games, shows and events that inspire and entertain.  Kids can dissect owl pellets, get hands on with real ocean specimens or become mystery detectives.  You can also join Charlie the fox and his woodland friends in an interactive puppet show.  The festival is running from 19 to 21 February.

Join the NATIONAL ARMY MUSEUM for Giant games for little soldiers.  Step inside their life-size board game this February half-term and battle it out to see who wins.  Take on their family friendly tasks and complete First World War themed challenges to be the first over the finish line.

Check out some Hidden Transport Heroines at the LONDON TRANSPORT MUSEUM.  Join them for story time and find out about some new names; past and present women who deserve a round of applause and create a poster to take back to school about the wonderful women who have shaped London and its transport system that we know today.

Its 150 years since the first periodic table and the SCIENCE MUSEUM are having a party.  Join them for Cracking Chemistry, an explosive show with experiments including everything from party balloons to cake, they promise you’ll have a blast!

It’s Rainbow Week at the NATIONAL MARITIME MUSEUM over half term.  Join in to create one big rainbow flag made up of hundreds of origami boats and talk about LGBTQ histories around the Museum, meet a different character who will take you on a special tour of the museum, explore the realities of life on board a pirate ship in the eighteenth century, create flags, hats and badges that represent you and discover how sailors in the past have used clothes to create a new identity for themselves.

Join an amusing interactive show at the MUSEUM OF LONDON that explores how the Romans treat their dead, meet the Romans, build a peg army at an art drop in activity and meet award winning Children’s writer Caroline Lawrence at an exciting author event.  There is also Roman mosaic making, a craft session for under fives and an ‘Exploring Roman London’ event for families with children who have an autistic spectrum condition.

Its all about the East End at the MUSEUM OF LONDON DOCKLANDS,  become a Pearly King or Queen in a drop in craft activity for under 5’s, make your very own peg doll, join a storyteller to hear the tale of Henry Crofts, the first Pearly King of East London, become a star on the music hall stage and create a costume that is the envy of all East End Warblers and recreate some of the most well-known flavours of famous East End pie and mash shops.

Get in the pirate spirit at the MUSEUM OF CHILDHOOD with events inspired by their current exhibition A Pirate’s Life for Me.  Activities include storytelling, working with illustrator Amy Brown to create a paper theatre with your family, create your own logbook in a box to keep, filled with bits and bobs a pirate might need on an adventure and print a ‘wanted’ poster for your pirate character.  Booking is required.

Head to the SIR JOHN SOANES MUSEUM on 21 February for a Lego drop in workshop where you can build a city inspired by some of Soanes awe inspiring architectural style.  Go along and help them to create a city to rival any artchitect’s wildest imagination.

Drop into the DULWICH PICTURE GALLERY for their art making workshops inspired by the mysterious underwater world in Mariele Neudecker’s tank installation, And Then The World Changed Colour: Breathing Yellow.

Join the RAF MUSEUM over half term for their Flying Goggles workshop.  Every pilot needs a pair of flying goggles! Make your own in their special workshop.  This event is running from 20-22 February.

The FOUNDLING MUSEUM are holding a Family Poetry Workshop where you can get creative with poet Paul Lyalls in this fun packed poetry workshop.  You can also create your ultimate bedroom in a 3D modelling workshop, make your own props for an imaginary bedroom to have your photograph taken in and design your own personalized pillowcase that shows off your unique style.

Discover childhood companions from the past 150 years at the MUSEUM OF BRANDS this half term.  From Victorian dolls and rocking horses, to a 1960s space man, to Olaf the snowman, journey through their time tunnel and pick your favourite toy from each decade.  Draw a picture or describe a toy for each era to win a prize.

 

Family Sunday at the Royal Opera House

royal opera houseWhen we got an invite to the Royal Opera House ‘Mad Hatters and Masked Balls’ Family Sunday in the heart of Covent Garden I am not going to lie I gave out a tiny squeal.  One, because I have never been there and two, because the day sounded AMAZING!!  It promised to be a transformation into scenes from the parties, feasts and festivities that have bought so many operas and ballets to life and it certainly did just that.  The day gave a real glimpse of life behind the scenes at the Royal Opera House and boy was it impressive.  From trying out props such as wigs and masks, testing out swords and rubber guns, which totally looked the real deal, to trying on crowns and Mad Hatter hats, to getting to learn and stage an iconic scene from ‘La Traviata’.  We were in our element.  Seeing a room full of families singing and acting their hearts out was really quite spectacular and a whole heap of fun.  Not to mention dressing up and the chance to rummage through real Opera House costumes to find your Traviata character, not your average Sunday that’s for sure.  There was also plenty of relevant arts and crafts including mask making, scene building and making a feast for the Mad Hatters Tea Party which we actually got to partake in.  Running around the Royal Opera House with Alice, the Mad Hatter, a white rabbit and the Queen of Hearts felt totally bonkers but utterly wonderful, and stumbling across old décor and new only added to it, what a glorious venue.  Basically there was something for everyone and it certainly gave an insight into the wonderous world of opera, I’m so booking some tickets to go see an opera there now.

Our verdict

It was a pretty wow experience throughout and a day we will never forget.  The place is huge so at times we felt a little lost but with a shed load of welcoming staff you couldn’t go too wrong and part of the joy of it all was finding corridors and doors that led you through bits of the Royal Opera House you may never see.  The suggested age is 3+ but I think Ivy’s age of 4 and above would be perfect.

We absolutely recommend you try out one of the Family Sunday’s, rubbing soldiers with actual performers and creative teams felt like we were doing something really quite special and it has certainly opened my daughters eyes to the world of Opera, let alone mine.

Tips if you visit

If there are specific timings of the events allow yourself plenty of time to get to them.  Take a good look at the itinerary to make sure you don’t miss anything out, we managed to miss a few things as we ran out of time.  Lastly, order yourself a latte and the rich chocolate cake, totally scrummy, you wont be disappointed!

The next Family Sunday is on 17 February and the theme is ‘Romeo and Juliet’.  Tickets cost £8 for under 18s and £10 for adults.  To find out more from Royal Opera House events click here https://www.roh.org.uk/functions/family-sundays.

Thanks to the Royal Opera House for our tickets, invitation and goody bag.

 

Chocolate making at the Chocolate Museum

chocolate museumHow have I never heard of the Chocolate Museum, I mean chocolate and museum, errrr, two of the best things in life all rolled into one.  I was so excited when I found it on the family app Hoop I just knew we had to check it out.  First off it’s in Brixton which is a fun place to visit in itself, so much creativity in the streets and a place that’s always buzzing, it was really nice to get to this neck of the woods after such a long time.  The museum is on a really nice road with a load of cool restaurants, shops and hangouts so we didn’t need to go much further.  We had such a friendly welcome to the Chocolate museum, the staff are so enthusiastic and great with kids.  We first ventured down stairs to check out the museum, its super small but ideal as an introduction to chocolate before you start your chocolate making.  We were then asked to order our ingredients, we chose ganache, fudge, chocolate sprinkles and 100s and 1000s.  It was then time to make the filling, I was amazed my 4 year old didn’t tuck straight in, and really got involved in the task at hand.  We had such fun and got totally messy in the process.  We then had to cool the chocolate to the right temperature and dip all our fillings into it, loads more mess, loads more laughs.  I think my daughter at this point just repeatedly kept saying ‘when it’s cool we can eat it’ she was pretty excited and getting pretty impatient, fair enough though, I was feeling the same.  Lastly we used the remaining chocolate to fill our heart and teddy bear moulds which would be put on sticks.  We got to take home so many chocolates, with cute packaging provided they make ideal gifts so think we will be sharing these out with the grandparents, without the kids knowing of course, ha.

Our verdict

We had the best time, getting totally covered in chocolate and just having a whole heap of fun and the chocolates are absolutely delish.

Tips if you visit

You absolutely must order yourself a Hot Chocolate, possibly one of the best I have ever tasted, and definitely take a load of wipes, which most parents usually have on hand anyhow but me however….massive parent fail!!

The dropping in sessions run from 12-5 on a Saturday and tickets cost £15 for one adult and child.  For that you get all the ingredients and a whole heap of chocolates in packaging to take home.  Book your tickets easily through the Hoop app  https://hoop.co.uk/the-chocolate-museum/

 

Snow Baby at the Half Moon Theatre

snow baby 2We were very excited, in collaboration with Hoop, to check out this performance aimed at 3+ year olds. My 4 year old Ivy has only recently been introduced to the theatre so this felt like the perfect show to keep the theatre buzz alive. The theatre, located in Limehouse East London, is quite a beauty and their family friendly offerings are really good. Snow Baby is a show which explores family and love and loss.  It was magical!  A one woman show, which I found mighty impressive, that managed to hold Ivy’s attention for the whole 50 minutes (perfect timing for a fidgety 4 year old by the way). Happy Days! The story is of Doris and Bear Man, a couple in love, who live on a hill alone but happy and when Bear Man disappears Doris has to survive by herself surrounded by forest, bad weathers and crows. A moving story told through the use of beautiful music, puppetry and plenty of interaction. The props included confetti, party hats and flowers, all of which the kids could get their hands on. The snow, crows and glitter dust thrown about the stage by fans was particularly mesmerizing and yes I had a little tear in my eye throughout but there was a whole lot of laughter too with funny bits also thrown in.

Our verdict

We absolutely loved it!! Ivy’s favourite bit was the dancing in the snow, mine was the goose bump music and the wedding. A really lovely experience and with tickets costing only £7 each we will absolutely be going back to see other performances.

This was a one off performance but there are future shows aimed at ages 3+ which you can book via Hoop now.  Rise and Fall, where you will meet all manner of balloons from small floating moons to vast bouncing orbs, is showing on 19th January and Susannah and the Sunflower, a tale about Susannah who sets out on a fantastical shadow adventure, following in the footsteps of Jack and the Beanstalk, is on 26th January.

The Incurably Curious Afternoon Tea at the Wellcome Collection

wellcome collectionOk so I love an afternoon tea but once you’ve been to two or three you’ve kind of been to them all right. Well apparently not, last week we got invited to the Incurably Curious Afternoon Tea at the Wellcome Collection and boy was I curious. I absolutely love it when museums add to their experience and this was just a fabulous addition to this great free museum that explores medicine, life and art. Located in a beautiful green room with various artworks on the wall, we were treated to the most eccentric, fun experience. It started off with their very own lemonade, inspired by the man himself Henry Wellcome, which was totally unique and refreshing, followed by my personal fave, brain cake, yes a brain on a plate, sounds hideous, tastes like you would not believe. The brightest looking cocktails and a panna cotta served in an egg personally picked out of an egg box were additional highlights, all served by the very helpful staff. On top of that there were scrumptious savouries including fish, egg and coronation chicken, tasty sweets in the form of chocolate and carrot cake and this was all before we had even hit the scones. Oh my they were good! Oh and tea, how could I forget the tea. With a selection of 11 teas to choose from that’ll be your hardest decision of the day. That and how you’re going to roll yourself home. A brilliant experience which is now totally on my gift list for someone I think would enjoy something a little different from the norm.

Would I take kids?

To be totally honest probably not, although they were very welcoming to my two I think this is one for the adults to enjoy, plus there’s a load of crockery about!

The Incurably Curious Afternoon Tea costs £30 per person. There is an additional cost of £8 for the cocktails or £5 for Prosecco.