Thursday 12 June 2014

Culture, Baby!

We had a lovely Friday in Covent Garden earlier this year. Thanks to a friend having some spare tickets, we were treated to a trip to the Royal Opera House. I've never been to the ROH and never realised how many different events are held there.

It is a huge, beautiful building and totally buggy friendly. We had tickets to see Sensory O, a Scottish Opera production for toddlers. It was a lovely, gentle story of a lion in the jungle. EDtot was a little concerned to establish that it was a friendly lion, but once that was settled she thoroughly enjoyed it. Each tot was given their own lion's tail to wear during the show and there were a lot of sensory props used during the performance that the kids could hold and touch.

EDtot was absolutely thrilled when she was able to play with the props after the show and even better, ride on the "train" that was used in the jungle. With a free CD of the music included with the ticket, it was really good value and a wonderful introduction to the Royal Opera House. To top it all off, we happened to be there at the same time as an afternoon Tea Dance was being held in the main hall below. EDtot loved watching the dancing and sobbed on the way home that she wanted to "go back to the operaaaaaaaa" much to the amusement of our fellow bus passengers.

Tuesday 15 April 2014

The Planetarium

The Royal Observatory Greenwich is home to London's planetarium. We had heard about a show that was running for pre-school children, Space Safari and so decided to pop along one Sunday.

We drove over to Greenwich as there is ample parking in the park itself and the weather was billed as being fairly dire. As seems to be the case at the moment, this wasn't the case and the day started out beautifully sunny and warm. It did turn later though! The park is huge and hilly. We took EDtot's scooter along as we knew we'd be early and as she is not yet particularly fast on the scooter, we were able to go for a short walk before the show began.

The room itself is as expected... a large domed screen above rows of chairs. Although there is a slight advantage to being at the back of the room, it is small enough that you can see most things from any seat and the main action is kept at the front of the room. The story is that of a teddy, Ted, that heads out into the solar system. Ted is very successful at holding the attention of the under 5's audience as the different features of various planets are explained. I'm sure some of the parents were tempted at times to shout out answers to the questions asked by the narrator.

My main concern about the show was the basic format that would be in use at the planetarium...namely darkness. It was inevitable that the lights would be dimmed and there was every chance EDtot would be very unhappy about this turn of events. They actually dealt with the potential fear very well and slowly changed the lights to various different colours with the kids encouraged to shout out what colour they wanted next before it eventually was very dark. Nevertheless EDtot was not to be fooled by this light show and sure enough she started crying that she wanted to go home.

Thank goodness for Ted. He managed to convince her that it wasn't all scary and combined with a cuddle she was able to get through the show and really started enjoying it after she became used to the planets that come flying at you on a very big screen.

It was a lovely show and one which EDdad enjoyed immensely. EDtot is still talking about it weeks later and asking if her own teddies can head into space. For some reason they also seem to need to go skating in space...haven't figured out that one yet.

Sunday 30 March 2014

Godstone Farm

We have heard many glowing reports of Godstone Farm in Surrey. Just south of the M25 it looked like a doable day trip from ED. We waited for the promise of a sunny day and then set off by car for opening time at 10am.

Unfortunately the main route down through Croydon included a road that has been shut for some time now due to flooding. The detour wasn't too much of a problem on the way down, but heading back took an hour and a half. Not fun.

The farm has all your usual suspects...goats, sheep, cows, donkeys, pigs, chickens as well as the smaller furry friends...guinea pigs, rabbits, etc. There is also the opportunity to touch the little animals in the Holding Barn. We've been talking about the possibility of getting a pet and it took a lot of effort to walk away from the sweet little guinea pigs.

The lower area of the site also has a Dinosaur Trail (don't expect Crystal Palace Park style dinos - these fellas are slightly more colourful and a little smaller), an outdoor, but covered slide barn (think wooden soft play with lots of slides) and the main indoor playbarn. The playbarn has the usual climbing areas, but also has a toddler area with play houses, puzzles and much smaller slides. There are a lot of tables to sit at for a drink or snack, but you're not allowed to bring your own food in for a picnic. Whilst there are other barns you can use for your picnic in bad weather, they aren't quite as warm and dry as the playbarn.

At the top of the site, near the carpark, there are two large sandpits with various structures to climb on and around. There are also tractor rides and a very fun toboggan run. I'm sure there's more, but by the time we made it to the top play area, we didn't have long before the heavens opened and our promise of lovely weather was scuppered by a short hail storm.

I imagine if we lived nearby, we would make quite a few trips here, but unfortunately the cost jumps after your tot turns 2 and that combined with the distance means we're not able to make it a regular haunt.