This weekend sees a family race day at Ascot with a Christmas feel
Head to Ascot racecourse on Saturday, as families are invited to celebrate the festive season, together with world-class horse racing and plenty of seasonal cheer, just three days before Christmas Day.
Featuring the most valuable racecard of Ascot’s Jumps season, the event promises to be exhilarating and enjoyable for all ages with fairground rides, a festive parade, clip clop pony rides, huskies and candle-lit carol singing.
Racing on the course
On the track, highlights are two £150,000 races; the ultra-competitive Wessex Youth Trust Handicap Hurdle and the Grade 1 JLT Long Walk Hurdle – one of the most prestigious long- distance hurdle races in Britain. Punters could be in with the chance to earn an extra Christmas bonus with the many high-class supporting races throughout the day.
Entertainment for all
Off the track, adults can watch the races whilst enjoying festive cocktails and Fine Dining across multiple food outlets. Little ones will be entertained with the The Elf Training Academy, a husky meet & greet, festive arts and crafts and face painting. Father Christmas and his fellow reindeer will be in attendance and Mrs Claus’ storytelling will return for a third year. The whole family can also enjoy free fairground rides and uplifting carol singing by candlelight in the Grandstand with the Ascot Brass Band.
We’ve selected 24 of the best advent calendars for kids this Christmas
Whether you’re looking for something traditional in the shape of wood or fabric calendars you can fill, or you want to get the latest and exclusive toys from Smiggle or Playmobil, we’ve got a great selection of advent calendars, all still available in the shops.
Modern Calendar, West Elm £59 Count down to Christmas with this cotton Advent Calendar from West Elm. Its pockets hold gifts or candy for a fun way to get into the holiday spirit all month long. Gifts and sweets not included. www.westelm.co.uk National Gallery Advent Calendar £7.50
Featuring a festive exterior scene of the National Gallery and Trafalgar Square where Santa meets Nelson it is finished with shimmery highlights. Each numbered door opens to reveal a different detail from the National Gallery Collection, including Constable, Manet, Botticelli and many more. www.nationalgallery.co.uk
Coppenrath Victorian Christmas Garland £14.00
This Christmas Garland Large Advent Calendar by Barbara Behr is shaped like a traditional festive decoration. The countdown to Christmas spreads over 24 angelic doors, with images the whole family is sure to enjoy. www.johnlewis.com
Meri Meri Railway Advent Calendar £29.00
Tasteful and no plastic in sight! Count down to Christmas with this sweet railway advent calendar, featuring 24 beautiful wooden pieces and a keepsake bag. www.merimeri.co.uk
play in choc £65
24 organic chocs + 24 toys within 24 drawers. Beautifully crafted, the chocolates are dairy free, gluten free, soy free and with no refined sugar. The toys feature 18 endangered animals to learn about. Once each drawer is removed, replace back to front to form a new picture which will be completed on Christmas Eve. The outer sleeve of the advent can also be opened up into a landscape to play with all 24 toys.
Featuring a new, exclusive design for Bettys by Poppy Treffry. A festive chocolate novelty awaits in each of the 24 pockets of this cotton advent calendar. Limited availability. www.bettys.co.uk
The Biscuiteers 24 luxe biscuit tin £55
24 hand-iced biscuits presented in a square-edged keepsake tin. Can be personalised with a free message card at checkout. www.biscuiteers.com
Divine Fairtrade Milk Chocolate Advent Calendar £4
With a new illustration by Stephen Waterhouse of the nativity, this calendar combines Fairtrade chocolate with a traditional nativity theme. The reverse of the calendar brings extra delights for children, featuring a Bean to Chocolate game. www.divinechocolate.com/uk
Hershey’s Cookies n Crème £5.00
Like Hershey’s? You’ll like this calendar filled with cookies and creme chocolate. www.ocado.com
Cotton Twist Personalised Make Your Own Advent Calendar Kit £12.95
This kit contains stickered envelopes to fill with messages or treats and pegs and twine to fix into position. All is made by hand by little Elves in Chiswick. www.cottontwist.co.uk
Play Doh £20
Different crafting gifts each day such as a snowflake stamper, tree mould, playmate and five cans of Play-Doh. www.jdwilliams.co.uk
Mari Meri Christmas Tree Advent Calendar £13.50
Open the windows of this charming advent calendar to reveal a different delightful tree decoration every day. www.merimeri.co.uk
Kit includes 24- day calendar of surprises for a daily dose of creativity for every day of Advent. Think craft projects, homemade gifts, finger puppets and colouring activities. www.amazon.co.uk
For the pen and writing lover find 24 writing products during Advent. Six Magic Felt Pens, six Coloured Pencils, four Colouring Crayons, one Glue Tube, one Graphite Pencil, one Eraser, three Ball Pens, 24 Postcard & 20 Stickers to colour. www.amazon.co.uk
Oxfam Puppet calendar £4.99
A large design with metallic foiling; each day of advent features a fun finger puppet from the Nativity story. www.oxfam.org.uk
Hatchimals Colleggtibles £29.99
There are over 50 surprises to discover so you can build a Christmas scene. Paper craft decorations, small presents, stickers and accessories for your Hatchimals are all included. There are also exclusive characters and nests that you’ll only find in this calendar. www.amazon.co.uk
Paperchase Eraser Advent Calendar £10
This popular high street store has a great selection of calendars. We’ve picked this one with 25 (yes – the idea of advent plus one) different puzzle eraser gifts behind these windows. www.paperchase.com
Slide away the full colour sleeve to reveal 24 individually nested boxes, each containing a unique, Tinc-branded and exclusive gift. This year’s calendar is reportedly bigger, funkier and of higher value than last year’s. And gender neutral! www.johnlewis.com
Smiggle Advent Calendar £25
25 limited edition stationery surprises behind each door, plus 25 lucky tickets to win a massive £500 Smiggle shopping spree! Suitable for 4yrs+. Please note, this is now sold out online. www.amazon.co.uk
Schleich – Farm World £25.00
Schleich figurines and accessories are concealed behind 24 little doors. www.debenhams.com
Playmobil Santa’s Workshop £19.97
As each box is opened the building of a Christmas scene will begin. With sleighs, elves, toys and angels, by Christmas morning the magical tableau will be complete. With beautiful Playmobil detail, tiny carrots for the reindeer and gorgeously wrapped presents are a cute finishing touch to the scene. www.johnlewis.com
FOR OLDER KIDS
Gibsons 12 Days of Christmas Puzzle Advent £20.00
Behind each door you’ll find an 80 piece jigsaw. The twelve puzzles eventually create one panoramic Christmas scene. www.shop.rnli.org
Juniqe The Animal Kingdom £59.95
The large box features 24 different posters rolled up inside numbered gift boxes. The index lists all 24 artists names. This is a limited edition of 1000.
Miss Pink Advent Calendar £15
The perfect countdown to Christmas with the Miss Pink advent calendar with a treat behind every door. Calendar contains 1 x 7g lip balm, 6 x bath fizzer, 10 x 5ml fragrance, 5 x 30ml bubble bath, 1 x nail polish, 1 x nail stickers. www.next.co.uk
For Christmas shows – head to our December page here.
If the crowds are off-putting, head to Bears Ice Cream on Goldhawk Road. As well as signature Icelandic style soft serve ice cream, there will be hot chocolate, mulled wine and a Chilly Katz pop-up – gourmet hot dogs to you and me.
We’ve rounded up some of the things to do in London this half term, to keep the kids entertained this half term
With Halloween round the corner there are plenty of ghoulish fun to be had, but if that’s not your thing, then there’s lots more to do in and out of the city.
ROALD DAHL MUSEUM
After a flood in May, the Museum is re-opening for October half term, offering a week brimful of Twits’ Tricks and Matilda Magic, including Twizzling Tricks for Budding Illustrators, Wonka’s Wondercrump Contraptions, Twits’ Disgusterous Dinner Plates, Wigglish Witches’ Masks, and Crodswoggling Clay Critters. There are also guided walks which give an insight into Dahl’s life and daily routine in Great Missenden.
Aimed at 5-12 year olds.
22 to 28 October www.roalddahl.com/museum
NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM ICE RINK
If this is usually a Christmas activity for you and the family, then it will have come a bit early. But from 25th you can skate outside one of London’s most iconic landmarks. www.nhm.ac.uk/visit/exhibitions/ice-rink.html
A PIRATE’S LIFE FOR ME
This is the V&A Museum of Childhood’s first major exhibition to focus on fictional pirates in popular culture including Captain Pugwash and Captain Cook. Visitors have the chance to walk the plank, discover a treasure island as well as a large scale pirate ship. Dressing up and singing sea shanties is positively encouraged. www.vam.ac.uk
THE TOWN MOUSE AND THE COUNTRY MOUSE
Head to The Puppet Barge in Little Venice for these unique performances. The story’s told using rod puppets, music and sing-alongs.
20-28 October www.puppetbarge.com
MEET SIYANDA, PROTECTOR OF PLANTS
Kew teams up with Theatre-Rites to bring the story of the Temperate House and plants to life through a theatrical experience using live music, puppetry and performance.
20 to 28 October www.kew.org
CYPHER CODERS CAMP
Creatively themed coding camps run all week at various locations, with pick-ups in some areas.
22 to 26 October www.cyphercoders.com
THE MUSICIANS OF BREMEN
This visually stunning adaptation from French company, Compagnie Animotion, for 3 to 10 years and their families, tells the tale of four animals put to pasture; a donkey, a cat, a cockerel and a dog.
24 to 26 October www.watermans.org.uk
LITTLE GRAND TOUR
Learn about Pre-Raphaelite art and their imaginary & inspiring world from Knights of the Round Table to Sleeping Beauty at Tate Britain.
25 & 26 October www.thelittlegrandtour.co.uk
MUSIC HOUSE FOR CHILDREN
Featuring activities for children as young as 1, this hidden gem in Shepherds Bush will be putting on a Gingerbread Man Storytale, an all-day workshop recreating the musical Wicked!, and hosting a Music and Movement Extravaganza for under threes.
22 to 27 October www.musichouseforchildren.com
KINGSTON CHILDREN’S LITERARY FESTIVAL
Over three days, kids are invited to attend readings of some of their favourite books, read by some of the authors themselves. Opening the event series is Adam Hargreaves, best known for writing and illustrating the Mr Men and Little Miss books, since taking over from his father and Mr Men creator, Roger Hargreaves. www.inkingston.co.uk/kidslitfest
25 to 27 October
DIVERTIMENTI PARENT & TEEN CLASSES
You and your teen can learn a complete menu, and some cookery skills for life, with a spooky touch during a class led by farmer, chef and food campaigner Rachel Green.
31 October www.divertimenti.co.uk/cookery-school
TELEGRAPH SKI AND SNOWBOARD FESTIVAL
As well as the obvious reference to winter sports, children can enjoy the Kids Arts, Crafts & Entertainment zone in the Neilson’s Lodge where they’ll be joined by Tootles & Nibs for winter sports themed games and activities, a winter selfie station, arts & crafts and face painting. If that’s not enough there’s a climbing wall and Dog sledding. And if you’re sans kids, there’s apres ski fun. Battersea’s where it’s at.
25 to 28 October skiandsnowboard.co.uk
GOOD GRIEF, CHARLIE BROWN!
This long-awaited exhibition finally opens at Somerset House celebrating Snoopy and his friends. It brings together work by Charles M. Schulz and artists who have been influenced by this famous comic strip over the years.
From 25 October www.somersethouse.org.uk(c) Peanuts
HALLOWEEN AT THE HORNIMAN MUSEUM
Dress up and get down to the Horniman for a day of frightening fun and games. Little ones can meet creepy crawlies in the Wild Fangs cave, while adult witches and wizards browse arts and craft markets and try devilishly delicious food and drink from a variety of stalls.
27 & 28 October www.horniman.ac.uk
FIT FOR SPORT
With camps all over London this half-term, why not use our 10% discount and get the kids active this half term.
Use CKOHT2018. www.fitforsport.co.uk
Instead of the kids bouncing off the walls, take them trampolining to burn off some of that excess energy. Using the code CITYKIDS10 will give you 10% off jumping too! Win, win. oxygenfreejumping.co.uk
NIGHT OWLS HALLOWEEN SLEEPOVER
In celebration of all things spooky, the Museum of London Docklands is opening its doors after dark for Halloween for all families brave enough to spend a night at the museum. Grab a flashlight and tiptoe your way through the museum, before nestling down for the night in the galleries. If you survive, there’ll be a film and some breakfast in the morning.
26 October www.museumoflondon.org.uk
THE HALLOWEEN FOOD MARKET CHISWICK
Free for everyone, the market will be putting on arts and crafts throughout the day for young children.
28 October www.thefoodmarketchiswick.com
WIZARDS & WITCHES WEEK
At Bocketts Farm enjoy a spooktacular day out with animal encounters, a reptile roadshow, heated play barn and loads of other seasonal fun.
20 to 28 October www.bockettsfarm.co.uk
HALLOWEEN JUNIOR SOCIAL TOURNAMENT
Make no mistake, this is a tennis tournament for different age groups, but dressing up is encouraged and there will be prizes, food and plenty of fun. This event is in addition to the half-term camps running on a daily basis for kids aged four and over.
28 October www.willtowin.co.uk/chiswick-house-gardens
Arsenal FC and Cover-More have teamed up to provide free coaching to kids this summer
Calling all kids aged 6-12!
This is a great opportunity for two days of free coaching by Arsenal FC coaches in West London.
Cover-More Travel Insurance and Arsenal FC are providing two days of summer Skills School on 2nd-3rd August at Burlington Danes Academy, White City.
Kids will be put through their paces on a programme specially designed by the Arsenal coaches to develop their agility, control, speed and precision. Simon McManus who heads up the Arsenal Soccer Schools programme will lead the Skills School, assisted by Tom Hartley and Scarlett Hanrahan. Cover-More, Arsenal’s Official Travel Insurance Partner, will be providing lunch and refreshments, plus a bundle of football goodies including: exclusive Skills School jersey, drawstring bag and water bottle for each child.
Note that enthusiasm will be more important than skills level, so all are welcome.
Free places up for grabs!
Here’s the exciting bit – a number of spots for the Skills School will be filled via email lottery.
To enter a child for the chance to attend, email child’s name, age and guardian’s contact information to: email@example.com by midnight, Sunday 22nd July.
Children must be aged 6-12, and available to attend Skills School on 2nd-3rd August at Burlington Danes Academy in White City.
Join children’s cookery legend, Annabel Karmel at one of her cookery workshops
Annabel Karmel and Bluebird Cafe team up to create real food kids will love. Picture includes Annabel Karmel and Simon Gregory, Executive Chef D&D Restaurants.
Two ticketed children’s cookery workshops, hosted by Annabel Karmel and Executive Chef Simon Gregory, are taking place at the new Bluebird Café, White City this summer. And City Kids Magazine has secured a spot for you at the Gingerbread Making workshop in August.
How to enter
All you have to do is follow this link and instructions to enter.
Children’s cookery legend, Annabel Karmel joins Bluebird Cafe to create real food kids will love
Annabel Karmel and Bluebird Cafe team up to create real food kids will love. Picture includes Annabel Karmel and Simon Gregory, Executive Chef D&D Restaurants.
Recently opened Bluebird Café, located in White City’s iconic Television Centre, has teamed up with the UK’s No.1 children’s cookery author, Annabel Karmel, for an exclusive menu collaboration around her new book Real Food Kids Will Love. Her six-week residency will see a selection of dishes from the book forming a nutritious and inspiring menu specifically designed for Bluebird Café’s family diners.
The menu includes roast chicken, fish and sweet potato chips and fruit skewers.
Inside the book, published by Pan Macmillan, you’ll find recipe categories such as 15-minute meals, family favourites, healthy ‘fast’ food and holiday cooking with kids. Plus meals that adults can also enjoy including tuna poke bowls, quinoa baked chicken fingers and quesadillas. And for those on the fussy side, there’s a handy rewards chart inside the back cover.
Each dish has been designed to be enjoyed by the whole family, while remaining simple, healthy, and nutritionally balanced for young children.
Words and Your Heart by Kate Jane Neal (Simon and Schuster)
Never underestimate the power of words is the point of this heart-warming read. It gently explains that what you say can have an effect on a person’s feelings. With playful illustrations set against a simple colour palate, this book about being kind is just the ticket at a time of year where consumerism is at an all time high.
The Wildest Cowboy by Gareth Jennings and illustrated by Sara Ogilvie (Pan Macmillan) Brought to you by the writer and director of Sing, uber talented Garth Jennings has come up with a cracking story of what happens when Bingo B. Brown turns up in a town they call Fear. A rip-roaring rhyming tale vibrantly illustrated by Sara Ogilvie. Julia Donaldson fans will enjoy this.
Sticker Art by The Variety of Life by Nicola Davies and Lorna Scobie (Hodder Children’s Books)
Make space on your shelves for this big but beautiful book which explores the diversity of our planet. It is absolutely stunning to look at and there are so many facts for young minds to absorb. This timeless book brings non-fiction to life in a way which all ages can appreciate. This is really such a great book – absolutely beautifully done. Treat your kids to it.
Harper and the Fire Star by Cerrie Burnell and illustraded by Laura Ellen Anderson (Scholastic)
This is the fourth instalment of the successful Harper series – a girl with a rare musical gift. It sees Harper and her friends on a mission to help the Wild Conductor win back his place in the magical Circus of Dreams. Laura Ellen Anderson’s illustrations really bring the story to life with her zingy illustrations.
Optical Illusions by Gianni A. Sarcone and Marie-Jo Waeber (QED Publishing)
Now this is exactly the kind of book that will keep young minds busy. Jam-packed with brain-whizzing tricks of the mind, not only do you find out the science behind the illusions but there’s a whole section on how to create your own. One for kids and adults alike.
101 Video Games To Play Before You Grow Up by Ben Bertoli (Walter Foster Junior)
If you’re struggling to get your child off their video consoles for more than 10 minutes, buy them this book which they’ll actually have to read before returning to Fifa 18. This is bucket-list territory and is perfect for all big kids!
The Goat Chelsea has a different approach to a relaxing Sunday pub lunch. Friend of City Kids, The Ealing Mummy, went to investigate.
The Goat Chelsea is a great place to go for a relaxed Sunday Lunch. Not only do they offer a lovely contemporary Italian inspired menu, but they have entertainment for the kids at their Kids Club Sunday from 12-3pm. So, you might actually be able to enjoy your meal without the usual interruptions that you would normally expect with kids! There is no extra charge for the entertainment, but I suggest that you book a table to avoid disappointment, as it is very popular.
The entertainer is based in a private dinning room on the lower ground floor of the restaurant, which is great because that way you don’t feel as if your child is disturbing other diners who may not have children. On this particular Sunday my Daughter was entertained by Froggle Parties Professionals. The friendly man was dressed as Train Conductor and performed an array of magic tricks and jokes. She enjoyed it so much we had to convince her to come back upstairs and have her lunch! She also left with some party bag gifts and a candy cane that the entertainer modeled from balloons especially for her!
They offer a great children’s menu which definitely suited my little one’s taste buds. She decided on the chicken goujons coated in panko breadcrumbs with broccoli and fries and to finish with chocolate brownies and gelato.
I was impressed with the overall menu and decided to go with the truffled macaroni and cheese to start with. I went for a Devon crab salad for my main. I finished with a delicious sticky toffee pudding and vanilla gelato. I also sampled one of their cocktails which was inspired by the Chelsea Flower show, it was fantastic in both taste and presentation.
I would thoroughly recommend The Goat to families. I also noticed they have highchairs available and baby changing facilities too. It’s the perfect place to go if you want a leisurely lunch with the kids. The staff made us feel very welcome and could not do enough for us.
You can read more musings from The Ealing Mummy over on her blog:
Here’s our Friday Five line-up of things to do with the family in London this weekend
With the weather set fair this weekend, we’ve found five things to do which involve the outdoors, family fun and food.
Tomorrow & Sunday
ACTON DEPOT OPEN WEEKEND: CAPITAL DESIGN
Acton Depot – www.ltmuseum.co.uk
The Spring Depot Open Weekend is jam-packed with things to do. Discover a treasure trove of vintage vehicles, poster art and a vast array of transport ephemera. The theme is the greatness of design and the museum has curated a selection of activities and highlights for adults and children alike.
Fes-Tea-Val is coming to West London this weekend to celebrate National Tea Day. And they’ve lucked out with the weather! This family friendly event will take you on a journey of all things British in the world of food and drink. You’ll discover celebrity bakers, music, mixology masterclasses and so much more to keep everyone entertained. To top it off is the opportunity to view Lord Nelson’s teapot in a once in a lifetime opportunity to view the world famous Chitra Collection.
This is a family-friendly day filled with food, music, storytelling and theatre, celebrating the influence Saint George has had around the world. His cross is on the England flag but he’s also patron saint to countries ranging from Lithuania to Ethiopia and Catalonia as well as butchers, shepherds and farmers too. As well as food, there’s theatre, a maypole and the construction of a human tower from the Castellers of London.
Staying outside, head to The Magic Garden at Hampton Court. Come face to face with mysterious mythical beasts, storm the battlements, besiege the towers and explore the secret grotto. Each area of the garden represents myths, legends, stories and even real objects that can be found at Hampton Court.
Expect exactly what the name suggests – cheesy street food, special menus and cheese sellers from around the globe. You’ll also find a large selection of stalls selling everything cheese related, from bread and charcuterie to olives and cheesecake, plus talks from producers. Try out pairing suggestions at pop-up bars from wine & beer specialists and enjoy some live music or keep the kids occupied in the ‘Little Artisans’ craft and games area.
At the beginning of the 20th century there were over 50,000 horses transporting people around London each day. In 2017, Londoners made roughly 5.7 million car trips on an average day. This free workshop looks at how our transport needs are changing and the new possibilities to keep everyone on the move.
The final Saturday of London Games Festival will once again see hundreds of games characters take to the streets of London in the very special Games Character Parade.
Welcoming both video games-inspired cosplayers of all experience levels plus official mascots and characters, this one-of-a-kind games event will see iconic interactive entertainment heroes in even more iconic London locations.
London’s tallest attraction is hosting a range of fun-filled daily activities, all FREE with a general admissions ticket. Children and adults alike can take part in a Ferdinand-inspired treasure hunt to help find his favourite flowers, and spot some of London’s most iconic landmarks along the way!
For three days, the forecourt at Television Centre will be transformed into an all-out festival to mark the official reopening. From food and music to live entertainment, it’s a festival befitting the building, and it’s not to be missed.
A story about having the confidence to be yourself and stand up for what you believe in.
8 year old Lexi doesn’t make friends as easily as some. If only her school would allow a non-school uniform day then she could be herself and find others like her.
Poet and rapper Simon Mole performs in this humorous and moving piece, co-created with theatre maker Peader Kirk.
London Children’s Ballet returns to the West End with a ballet based on Oscar Wilde’s witty novella. Sir Simon Canterville has haunted his ancestral home successfully for centuries. That is until an American family moves in. While the youngest family members gleefully torment the indignant ghost, their older sister bravely decides to set him free forever.
Set in the roaring 20s, The Canterville Ghost is performed by an all-child cast and set to the music of a live orchestra. Perfect for ages 5-12 years.
To celebrate the restoration of the Great Pagoda at Kew by Historic Royal Palaces, six majestic dragons have descended upon the famous gardens, waiting to be discovered. They’ll be hidden in key areas of the 300-acre site, forming a fun family trail in association with BBC’s Blue Peter. On arrival, vistors will be introduced to ‘Ting’, a dragonologist and member of the fictional British Dragonologist Association. Families will be able to discover how she researches, finds and records dragons and help her complete her mission to hunt down and identify all the dragons nesting in the Royal Botanic Gardens.
English National Ballet and English National Ballet School present a new version of the well-known classic, Swan Lake, as part of its My First Ballet series created especially for children as young as three. Adapted to an hour in length and with a narrator to help young audiences follow the story, My First Ballet: Swan Lake is the perfect introduction to the magic of ballet.
Budding designers will be able to create their own marvellous Easter decorations, craft Easter cards and masks or get their face painted inspired by the characters from the new spring summer collection featuring dinosaurs, unicorns and parrots.
The activity is free of charge and kids will also be able to design their own trainers to be in for a chance to win trainers for themselves and their family.
Gearing up to the broadcast of WrestleMania 34 on April 8, KidZania will encourage young explorers to design and create their own WrestleMania Superstar and pose in the ring at the WWE Academy. Across the rest of the city, full coverage of the WrestleMania activities will be making headlines at the Global Radio Studio and Metro Newspaper, whilst over in the theatre, WWE fans will have the opportunity to see what it takes to create a live show, experimenting with lighting, sound, costume and performance. Other activities include face painting, WWE themed games and arts and crafts.
From 30 March
JUNGLE SURVIVAL SKILLS
National Army Museum – www.nam.ac.uk
Free family workshop showing how you can survive in the jungle. Play the survival essentials game and then create your own model waterproof jungle shelter using the materials provided. Will it pass the test and keep out the water?
At the Royal children Mews, Rex the corgi and the royal horses Majesty and Scout have been up to no good, hiding pictures of themselves amongst the carriages for children to find. During their quest, will be able to dress up as a footman in specially created livery, learn how to harness a horse, enjoy art activities and find out what it really feels like to ride in a royal carriage, before claiming a delicious Easter egg to take home.
Enjoy the Easter weekend at the Horniman with the whole family. Go on the Easter trail, create something crafty, have your face painted and join in family activities across the Gardens. Suitable for families with children aged 3+.
From 31 March
GIANT DUCK HUNT
WWT London – wwt.org.uk
Bring your friends and family and follow the Easter GIANT duck hunt around the nature reserve to discover where they are hiding. You’ll need all your special detective skills to track them. As well as searching for the GIANT ducks, there’s also lots of Dusty’s ducky cousins to see, plus join the WWT team for a spot of Pond Dipping or find out how to build a nest during one of the Wild Play sessions.
From folding bicycles to electric cars, Londoners have been whizzing around the city in ever more creative ways. Put yourself into the shoes of an inventor and design a cool gadget to keep Londoners on the move in the future. What kind of futuristic transport would you invent? Learn how to make your inventions move using balloons and elastic bands.
From 2 April
POP UP SISTER BROTHER PHOTO WORKSHOP
V&A Museum of Childhood – www.vam.ac.uk
This gem of a museum has plenty of activities planned for the holidays including a Pop-up Sister Brother Photo Workshop where you can meet the artist behind the exhibition Sister Brother, Madeleine Waller. Create create a special family portrait with props, complete with a frame designed by you.
From 4 April
MINI NINJA SUSHI SCHOOL
Selected Yo! Restaurants – www.yosushi.com
The Mini Ninjas will be taken through three nutritious recipes during the hour-long class with a YO! chef. After completing the class, budding chefs will receive a Mini Ninja certificate, their very own chef’s hat and a special YO! bag. Their freshly made dishes can also be packaged up to take home!
Suitable 5-12 year olds
Lead singer and BAFTA nominated Andy Day is a huge presence in most young children’s lives appearing regularly on children’s TV tackling dinosaurs, baby animals and being in safari. Now the much loved TV presenter has another string to his bow.- Andy the rock star!
For more things to do in the holidays, head here to find out what’s on in April.
Not everyone is blessed with culinary skills, and some just aren’t interested. But cooking for the family is inevitable once you’ve decided to to have children. For those who can’t cook, and those who won’t cook, Sophie Clowes goes back to basics with the help of some Wabi-sabi attitude.
Of the many competent adults I know, some can’t drive, some can’t run far, some can’t swim and some can’t sing in tune. Well, I can’t sing (not a note), but I also can’t cook. The skills required for making a main course elude me, which makes me feel embarrassed, nervous, flustered and, finally, frustrated. It became a barrier to having friends round, which is sad.
One day, after swim squad, I was listening to my fellow swimmers – a varied, successful bunch – who were talking about how bored they were of cooking, of food, of their lack of inspiration and of fussy children. Then, somebody suggested she might be able to help. That is how Louisa Chapman-Andrews came to my house to give me a cooking lesson.
What is Wabi-sabi?
Louisa is not a nutritionist, but a cook and writer. She runs her own food consultancy, helping people fall (back) in love with food and cooking. Her gentle understanding of my predicament was summed up in a book she recommended, called Wabi-Sabi Welcome. Wabi-sabi is a Japanese concept that honours the beauty of natural imperfection and a life of chosen simplicity. A review describes it as a ‘licence to slow down and host guests with humility, intention and contentment’. This was the culinary path I was seeking. We didn’t make sushi, I hadn’t managed to read the book and we didn’t even use it. Instead, one morning, Louisa, with a herbal bouquet fresh from her garden, taught me how, with a few basic skills and vision, I could make dishes that would feed my family for the best part of a week.
Back to Basics
Without a murmur of condescension, Louisa taught me how to make a classic tomato sauce. We also roasted a tray of root vegetables and, since I had a whole chicken and not the chicken thighs she had suggested, she taught me how to poach it. This method meant you got two cracks at stock, which is, in culinary terms, liquid gold. To the uninitiated (which, seemingly, is just me), this was nothing short of magic. Three very simple recipes could multiply and become a veritable menu of choice: soup, pasta sauce, health bowls, chilli, pasta bake, curry base.
Until recently, a main meal in this country constituted meat and two veg. Instead, Louisa suggested building a dish from the ground up, in pyramid fashion, starting with grains or pulses, then substantial vegetables such as roots, then softer vegetables such as leaves, then protein in the form of meat, fish or different vegetables, before adding a dressing and the texture (nuts and seeds, or even crispy salmon skin). You reap what you sow, or rather, eat what you cook, and so we sat down to a convivial lunch. First on the plate was a mixture of toothsome grains and pulses, then the roasted root vegetables, raw spinach leaves, shredded chicken breast, a simple dressing of yoghurt and lemon topped with some pumpkin and sunflower seeds toasted with Ras El Hanout – a versatile and forgiving springboard into the world of spices. We added chilli flakes too. It was delicious, filling, healthy and something a chump like me has since been able to replicate.
Louisa taught me the above but, in a sense, she also gave me permission to try without embarrassment or fear of failure. I’ve learnt that it’s alright to make a mess and that good cooks spill stuff (although, how Louisa got away with no apron and clean clothes at the end remains a mystery), that practice improves things and perfection is overrated. I realised that cooking for friends is one of the ultimate expressions of friendship. Later, Louisa sent me lesson notes, which included how to create a pantry and fridge toolkit, where to shop, what oil to use, what pulses should be soaked, how to make a dressing and a myriad of ingredient combination suggestions. I am indebted to her.
The late Julia Child, of French cooking fame, once said, “Dining with one’s friends and beloved family is certainly one of life’s primal and most innocent delights, one that is both soul-satisfying and eternal”.
Food brings us together
Heartbreakingly, the day after Louisa’s lesson, a close member of our family died. Food became a form of familial glue and an expression of love. Friends cooked to give life to a family that had lost a life. It was comforting and therapeutic, as much for the cook as the eater: a form of solace. That week, and those that followed, I truly understood how food is a life-giving force that encourages conversation and laughter, that mops up the tears and quells the grief, as much as anything can.
Food is many things: it feeds our children’s brains and bodies, it nurtures and energises, it speaks of culture and geography, of comfort and celebration, of tradition and ritual, of family and friends and of love. It creates lasting memories and is a marker of the most important moments in life, as well as the backbone to every day.
I am no longer afraid to cook. I am free to make a mess of my kitchen, to flavour food, to waste next to nothing and to feed family and friends in a perfectly imperfect manner. It’s not easy, but I’m more at ease.
Next up, can any of you swimmers teach me how to sing?
LOOK OUT, IT’S A DRAGON
by Jonny Lambert (Little Tiger)
Saffi the dragon doesn’t want to capture princesses or crush castles, all she wants to do is make friends in pastures new. So far, so lovely. But, as she quickly discovers, it’s not quite as easy convincing the other animals that she’s not trouble. Jonny Lambert’s gorgeous illustrations really bring this story of acceptance to life.
THROUGH THE EYES OF ME
by Jon Roberts, illustrated by Hannah Rounding (Graffeg)
Kya, in many ways, is just like your average four-year-old. She likes ice cream, jumping, being cheeky and isn’t so keen on vegetables. However, she is autistic, and you will discover the ways in which she is different. You can almost feel Kya’s energy through the illustrations alone. This gentle book guides the reader into how Kya understands the world as written by her dad.
THE CHINESE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES
by Ying Chang Compestine, illustrated by David Roberts (Abrams)
A clever re-working of the Hans Christian Anderson classic, focused on Ma Ding, a nine-year-old boy, who becomes the Emperor of China. Realising he is being tricked by dishonest ministers, he decides to play a trick of his own. Beautifully illustrated by David Roberts (of Rosie Revere, Engineer fame), it weaves Chinese tradition with a message of kindness.
SHINY PIPPIN AND THE BROKEN FOREST
by Harry Heape, illustrated by Rebecca Bagley (Faber & Faber)
In this very funny debut, heroine Pippin lives in Funsprings, where she spends an enormous amount of time with her granny. All sounds pretty ordinary, until you find out that Pippin can speak to animals and her granny used to be a crime fighter. When mysterious goings on begin to happen in the town, can the pair use their skills to solve the mystery?
by Vashti Hardy (Scholastic)
Adventure awaits in this cracking book by Vashti Hardy. The twins, Arthur and Maddie, are on the trail of their father, a famous explorer, who, they’d been told, had died on the way to the South Polaris. The intrepid duo join a new crew, led by Captain Harriet Culpepper, as part of a race to the South Polaris. Can they cut it on the ship, and will they find the truth about their father?
LONG WAY DOWN
by Jason Reynolds illustrated by Chris Priestley (Faber & Faber)
Written entirely in verse, and spanning the time frame of just one minute, this book follows the story of Will, who is seeking to avenge his brother’s murder. He must follow The Rules: No Crying, No Stitching and Get revenge. As he takes the lift, he is joined by a host of people from the past who make him think about the task ahead. Gripping and darkly illustrated, it is a stunning future classic.
Santa, Father Christmas, St Nick – where to find the big man if you still haven’t booked.
Broadgate Santa at The Winter Forest
There comes a time in every child’s life where Christmas becomes a huge deal, and Santa becomes a method of bribery for all parents. But that’s after a few magical years with pre-schoolers who truly believe and who are still willing and able to behave without serious ‘Father Christmas is watching you’ threats at every turn. For those precious years, we’ve a round up of where to find St Nick as he does his rounds in London. If you’ve left it late and are in panic mode, we’ve done the research and found places where you can still book to see St Nick this Christmas.
Sold out tomorrow and Sunday, but from Monday there are still tickets available during the week and on weekends. Santa’s Snowflake Grotto is no ordinary grotto, but a spellbinding Snowflake Factory taking visitors on a journey through a magical winter wonderland. Children will discover that – just like them – every snowflake in the world is unique.
Tickets still available on various dates until Christmas Eve at £7 per adult/child. www.eventbrite.co.uk
Write wish-lists at a Christmas card-making workshop held by Homemade London and meet Santa. Shop at The Winter Market or watch festive films, such as Frozen and It’s a Wonderful Life, in The Winter Forest’s Tipi cinema.
The Grotto is booked up but Santa still fills the store with festive cheer each afternoon. Follow Father Christmas and his chief elf as they spread their Christmas cheer throughout the store, taking selfies with their fans and creating magical moments for all the family.
Ok so it’s booked up to see The Big Man, but the elves will be up to their usual mischief throughout the store. Hamleys Elves love getting their pictures taken so make sure you get an “Elfy” with them and hashtag Hamleys and your local store name on Facebook or #Hamleys.
For something really special book a ticket on this old steam train. As you travel in a festive traditional train carriage, Santa and his jolly helpers visit you in your seat with a special gift. There is white wine and mince pies for the grown-ups and soft drinks and a gingerbread man for the children. Don’t forget to bring your very best singing voice to join in with your favourite Christmas songs too!
Oh yes you can! Party organisers, Dazzle & Fizz have created a personalised elf visit, bringing all the magic of Christmas to your front door. The experience includes a bespoke letter to your children from Santa himself as well as a dramatic retelling of ‘The Night Before Christmas’ to get you all in the festive spirit. Each family will receive one book to keep as a memento, plus each child will keep their letter from St Nick.
There’s so much going on in London at the best of times, family Christmas theatre seems to rev up a gear in December. Panto dames and bad jokes are the order of the day as we round up a selection of the traditional and the modern on offer this festive season.
If you’re looking for some educational present ideas, there are plenty of science-based reads available this winter. Here are my top 5 inspirational books featuring Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths.
WIN with Pulsin and Smiggle! THIS COMPETITION HAS NOW CLOSED. THANK YOU ALL FOR ENTERING!
In time for the start of term, we’re thrilled to be giving away a haul of delicious Pulsin Kids’ Fruity Oat Bars (7 boxes with 5 bars in a box), a Smiggle City Hardtop Lunch Box and Smiggle City Drink Up Bottle to one lucky winners – perfect for stylish and healthy back to school lunches.
Pulsin and Smiggle are the perfect match for parents looking for healthy snacking alternatives and new cool ideas for lunchboxes. Did you know new Pulsin Kids’ Fruity Oat Bars contain a third less sugar than the average kids’ fruit snack?
These brand new oat bars come in three tasty flavours: strawberry, blackcurrant & apple and orange choc chip. Created for children aged 3-9 years, the bars are made with real fruit and natural ingredients. The bars only contain natural sugars, and make up one of your five-a-day. What’s more, they are also made with a nut free recipe, are gluten, dairy and soya free with no artificial ingredients.
The Australian stationery brand, Smiggle needs no introduction and is dedicated to creating original, fun and affordable stationery. Whether back to school essentials are required or some stylish gadgets and gizmos to deck out desks or lockers, Smiggle always dreams big.
The Smiggle City Hardtop Lunch Box comes with two large compartments of storage, carry handle, detachable carry strap, name and address label and super cool embossed and scented detailing. The lining is BPA free and food grade safe. The flip-top spout drink bottle comes in cool designs and co-ordinates with a range of Smiggle school essentials you can mix & match!
All you need to do to enter is follow the instructions below. Good luck!
Look, there’s a ROCKET! by Esther Aarts (Nosy Crow)
This new series of interactive board books by Esther Aarts will make a lovely addition to any bookshelf. Perfect for busy fingers, the follow-the-hole story takes you into outer space. There’s plenty to spot and the colourful illustrations are joyful and fun. Plus being a board book, it’s robust enough to be read whilst on the move. Look, there’s a SUBMARINE! takes you deep under the ocean to explore all the sea life she can find.
Going to School by Rose Blakeby When the daughter of Peter Blake illustrates a book, you know it’s going to be visually arresting. Detailing the school day of a young girl, it’s busy and buzzy as we see her have a maths lesson, do P.E., have a science lesson, play on computers, eat lunch and so much more. Children will relate to the many activities that happen and with the bright and cheery illustrations, there’s plenty of reason to read again and again.
Sticker Art by Neil Gaiman with illustrations by Craig and Karl (Frances Lincoln)
This stylish interactive sticker book will keep most fingers busy. Think paint by numbers only with stickers. Working in collaboration with Natural History Museum, graphic designers Craig Redman and Karl Maier have joined forces to create these bold books on topics including Jungle, Ocean, Woodland and Savannah. Each book has eight striking portraits to make with interesting facts to accompany them.
Mind Hug, The first story by Emily Arber and Vanessa Lovegrove (Circus House)
Why should mindfulness just be for adults? Mind Hug tells the story of Jack, who is overwhelmed by his thoughts, making his head feel ‘fizzy’. The more he tries to block the thoughts, the more they come, leaving him feeling frustrated and out of control. When his dad introduces a ‘game’ and helps to focus his mind through breathing, Jack calms himself down. With his new found power, he shares his techniques with friends. This is the first in a series to help children grow up with good mental health.
The Girl Guide by by Marawa Ibrahim and Sinen Erkas (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books)
Who wants to hear about puberty from their parents? Their teacher? How about learning about all those changes from an inspirational hula-hooping acrobat and possessor of a rather cool nine Guiness World Records? Now we’re talking. Meet Marawa Ibrahim, whose no messing and honest approach is a breath of fresh air. With everything covered from spots, hair, sweat, fitness – nothing is left unturned. And in this age of perfecting the flawless selfie Marawa shows just how having good self esteem is the most important thing of all. An all round essential read for girls AND their parents.
13 ½ Incredible Things You Need To Know About Everything by DK
This is the perfect post-summer book, when your child’s brain has mainly been forgetting everything they learnt in the previous school term and is awash with watching YouTube videos on fidget spinners and learning the Spanish bit to Despacito. Time to re-engage with this super fact-filled book on just about everything. Topics range from classics like dinosaurs, stars and the Greeks to chocolate, bees and blood cells. The photographs are stunning and for every topic there are 13 pieces of information. You’ll even learn loads yourself so can impress your friends down at the pub quiz.
We’re giving ten City Kids readers the chance to win
a cushion from Reasons To Be Jolly.
Born of the need for a children’s party table, and unable to find one that would seat a mini dinner party, Fiona Jolly developed a beautifully hand made table and bench for little ones aged 2 – 10 years. With Reasons To Be Jolly, every table is hand made from solid wood. The benches and tables come complete with stainless steel clips that hold the legs in place and are available in two lengths. Fiona added to the collection a second smaller London Table, gorgeous French Stools, a cool range of super fun printed cushions, framed prints and pom poms all in exquisite pastel shades. The entire range is hand made in Wiltshire where Fiona lives with her husband Jamie and 7-year-old twin daughters Poppy and Harryo, along with two dogs, a cat and four horses.
For your chance to win an animal print cushion as seen here, please do the following:
Email firstname.lastname@example.org and simply put JOLLY in the subject line.
Like the City Kids Magazine Facebook page here & share the competition post.
Competition runs from the 1st September 2017 to midnight on 30th September.
Terms and Conditions
Ten winners will be chosen at random.
Prize is non refundable or transferable and no cash or voucher alternative is available.
Promotion is open to UK residents only aged 18 years and over.
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Closing date: 30th September 2017
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Sharky and George guide us on the best things to do with kids in our fair city’s green spaces.
London has the best parks of any city in the world. FACT! There are over 1000 acres of park just between Regent’s, Hyde, Green and St. James’s Park but Battersea Park is the real gem. With Go Ape, Putt in the Park, pedalos, and an awesome zoo you definitely won’t be lacking for great things to do. Here are a few top tips for activities in any park this summer:
Bug Hunting – All you need is a jam jar, a little net, a magnifying glass, a log book and you are away. Have a look under rocks or fallen branches, under the bark of trees or in long grass and you are sure to come across lots of creepy crawlies. Gently put them in you jar or container and then count their legs, eyes and wings. Do a little drawing of them in your log book and then set them free!
Homemade Kite-Flying – You can buy kite kits online for about £2-3 which are fun and easy to put together but most importantly fly really well.
Water Pressure Rocket Launching – Rockit do the best kits for about £15 and there is so much you can do with them. You need your Rockit, a selection of bottles (check the cap fits onto the thread of each bottle), a bicycle pump and a water source. You can then experiment with different amounts of water in different size bottles to see how high you can go! We find that smaller bottles about half full of water tend to go the highest so bigger isn’t always better.
If, on the off chance, you want your children to do all these things and a lot more from 10th-28th July, then it just so happens that Sharky and George is running its Adventure Club in Hyde Park between those dates! Each day will be jam-packed with fun, games and endless activities, including tug of war, mini olympics, rocket launching, science madness, pedalos, spy quests and of course, lots of water bombs. Adventure Club is suitable for children aged between 5-10 years old and tickets can be purchased here. They’d be crazy to miss out on the fun!
We can also do something a bit more bespoke for you. For example, there was a bit of an issue last summer when the Queen’s birthday presents were stolen by a disgruntled security guard! The children were met by a special agent in a London Hotel looking for help to recover them. The only intelligence they had was a ticket with a number. It turned out it was a cloakroom ticket for the hotel and the children quickly recovered a locked metal briefcase and an envelope with a code. What followed was an undercover rendez-vous with an accomplice of the security guard outside Buckingham Palace (to coincide with the Changing of the Guard at 11am!), a meeting with another agent and a wild goose chase that took them around all the best London landmarks. It ended with a serious water-bombing of the mischievous security guard so that he would reveal the hiding place and a probable Knighthood from the queen!
The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt, pictures by Adam Rex (Scholastic)
When the undefeated warrior, Rock, runs out of contestants to beat in the Kingdom of the Backgarden, he goes off in search of a suitable suitor. Elsewhere, Paper is the undisputed champion of the Empire of Mum’s Study but, unsatisfied by his easy wins, he leaves in search of more challenging foes. Over in the tiny village of the Junk Drawer, Scissors is making short work of her enemies and decides to find more interesting battles. When the trio stumble upon each other, the most epic battle ensues.
The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes (Flying Eye Books) For those fond of nature, this sweet story is one full of hope. When the little gardener struggles to grow anything on his plot, he is close to giving up. But then, he sees signs of life in the form of a little flower, but that isn’t quite enough to rescue the barren patch – until he makes a wish and his life is completely transformed. Subtle yet deep, and set against a dark palette, Emily Hughes’s tale of persistence is also one that restores faith in human kindness.
Cinnamon by Neil Gaiman with illustrations by Divya Srinivasan (Bloomsbury)
This stunningly depicted fable tells the tale of a princess called Cinnamon, whose eyes are made of pearl, meaning she is blind. Not only is she blind, but she doesn’t talk. Her parents, Rajah and Rani, are desperate to hear their daughter speak and offer a handsome reward to anyone who can make her talk. People travel from far and wide with little success, but it takes the skill of a tiger to unlock her voice. A beautiful, funny and poignant tale from a master storyteller.
There’s a Werewolf in My Tent by Pamela Butchart illustrated by Thomas Flintham (Nosy Crow)
Pamela Butchart never disappoints and, in her latest book, the laughs come thick ’n fast. Izzy and her friends are excited about their school camping trip, until they find out that their new, super-strict P.E teacher, Miss Moon, will be in charge. Capers-a-plenty as four friends use all their skills to survive the trip in one piece; with howling heard in the night and the discovery that Miss Moon has really hairy legs – is she secretly a werewolf? And if she is, what on Earth are they going to do about it?
Rook by Anthony McGowan (Barrington Stoke)
Rook is the third in a series (Brock and Pike predede this), but this novella easily stands alone. When brothers Nicky and Kenny rescue a rook after it’s been attacked by a sparrowhawk, they decide to nurse it back to life, but the boys have other worries to deal with. Interwoven into this beautifully written depiction of teen life are tips on how to avoid the school bully, as well as how to pluck up the courage to speak to a girl you like.
Barrington Stoke are experts in publishing fantastic stories, which are inclusive for all. They specialise in books for dyslexic and reluctant readers.
See How They Lie by Sue Wallman (Scholastic)
A gripping read set in Hummingbird Creek: an exclusive wellbeing retreat for troubled teens with psychiatric issues. The rules are strict, and woe-betide you break them, which is doubly difficult for Mae as her father is the founder. But, after an unintentional discovery, Mae begins to question her family life as it becomes apparent that all is far from what it seems… A real page-turning mystery, with enough sinister undertones to keep the suspense going.
The picture could have been me almost 11 years ago when I had my daughter. One of the first of my friends to have a baby, and an only child with no real extended family, I had zero experience of babies. I have no idea if this would have helped as the cumulation of sleeplessness following a hideous delivery, intensive care and a 3-hour feeding programme would be enough to break anyone. I didn’t think that then – I just thought I was useless. Those were dark days.
Broken Fanny is just the tonic I would have mainlined in 2006. It’s a one-woman show following a first-time mother’s struggle through the early days. Tackling the unspoken feelings of despair and trapped isolation, social pressures of perfection and ‘expected happiness’ from well-meaning choruses that this should be ‘the best time of your life’.
Written and performed by Emma Jerrold, and hosted by Happiness Coach, Olivia Horne, the evening promises plenty of laughs as well as a post-show talk on all the issues raised.
Proceeds for the show will go to PANDAS Foundation UK which offers support and advice to parents suffering from perinatal depression.
Mother’s Day: a Day in the Life of a Housemistress
by Victoria Anglim
Being a Houseparent to the 70 girls who live in St Bede’s, one of Ampleforth’s longest standing houses, is a huge privilege – particularly on Mother’s Day.
Ampleforth is a co-educational school and first admitted girls in 2001. For the sixteen years that I have been at Ampleforth, I’ve been a Housemistress to girls for nearly eleven years, having previously lived in a boys house.
Our Benedictine ethos at Ampleforth means creating a sense of community and providing individual care for the children we look after, which is why many parents choose to send their children here. This strong focus on pastoral care is particularly prevalent in our boarding houses and at certain times of the year when children inevitably think of their families.
As a Houseparent you are often the central link for a child between school and home. As a parent myself to Oscar (16) and Erin (14), I know that teenagers need a sense of balance and stability as they develop as a person and strive academically and on the sports field, theatre or music room. One of our former pupils talked about their experience of school and said ‘everyone gets the chance to do what they do best,’ which pretty much sums up our approach to the children in our care.
Design as a subject is very strong here at Ampleforth and ahead of Mother’s Day, we organise a craft club where the children can make gifts and cards for their mothers, which Matron then posts.
Any Sunday at Ampleforth involves Mass, Sunday lunch, calls home and a chance to enjoy some of the 70 extra-curricular activities we have on offer in the 2,200 acres of North Yorkshire countryside we live in. It’s also a long-standing tradition that, on Mother’s Day weekend, myself and another Housemistress join our houses for a large celebratory Sunday lunch, creating a positive family-like atmosphere, which the girls tend to love as it means they can get together with their friends. We also try and keep Aoife our much loved house pet (she is an Irish wolfhound) well away from the table!
We are always vigilant about helping pupils settle in and watch out for homesickness, which can sometimes strike at the weekend. We put on a range of social activities at weekends which get everyone involved and keep the children busy. On Mother’s Day this year, we are holding a charity colour run and have encouraged those who celebrate Mother’s Day to invite their parents to come down and watch them take part – and parents can take children out before or after the event.
So, Mother’s Day will be a day where we come together as a large family – however near or far our own might be.
Learning for earning, or learning to think? Education needs breadth and depth
By Andrew Johnson, St Benedict’s School Headmaster
It’s sometimes said that education is what is left when you have forgotten what you were taught.
Einstein himself used this quote, to make the point that the core value of education is not in the subjects taught, but in the learning of mental skills – the ability to think well.
The purpose of education is too often assumed to be for securing work and safeguarding the economy – learning for earning. Of course we need to equip pupils to take their place in the world, and to find the kind of employment that best suits their talents, but the present generation of 18 year-olds faces different challenges which demand a different approach.
Firstly, the future of work is more uncertain now than it’s ever been. Our children will be employed in jobs that haven’t even evolved yet, and it’s unlikely that they’ll stay within one area of work, or one career. Artificial intelligence is increasing exponentially, and many jobs which are familiar to us now, in many walks of life, may soon be performed by computers. An Oxford study recently predicted that more than 40% of occupations could be threatened by automation over the next two decades. To succeed in this new employment landscape, dominated by artificial intelligence, it’s surely real, human intelligence we will need: emotional intelligence, adaptability, and the ability to respond positively to change.
Then there is the creeping threat of fake news. In this post truth era of ‘alternative facts’, we must help our children to make good judgements and to have the ability to distinguish clearly between what is true and what is false. It is vital that we help them to interpret what they see on the internet, and not to accept everything at face value– to be sceptical, and assess the evidence. The consequences of living in a society which has little regard for the importance of truth are hard to contemplate and education has a big part to play in arming our young people against forgery and lies.
Stellar exam results are great, but on their own they can do little to prepare our children for these realities. Good study skills and the acquisition of knowledge certainly have their place, but they are really only the beginning. It’s ironic that, as technology improves, and occupies an ever increasing part of our lives, it is human qualities which will matter more and more, since it’s these which set us apart from clever machines. Imagination, empathy, kindness, compassion, perseverance, curiosity – these are the qualities that remain when you’ve forgotten what you learned for those exams.
So it is vital that, as well as teaching the curriculum, we help our children to develop these qualities; to be self-starters – independent learners, creative thinkers, team-workers and effective communicators. They will need to be versatile and adaptable in an uncertain world.
So how do we develop children fully, so that they can have these essential qualities? In the classroom, we need to go beyond the syllabus and encourage debate, independent research, curiosity and a love of learning for its own sake.
Co-curricular opportunities have an enormous part to play, and their place in education is essential, not subsidiary. In music and drama, it takes self-discipline and independence to practise an instrument, or to learn the lines of a play. Having a role in a school production or concert and performing will develop confidence and self-belief.
In sport, when you’re 4-0 down with 10 minutes to go, it takes gritty determination to keep going to the end; and if you can encourage your team-mates along the way, so much the better.
Then there’s outdoor adventure activities, taking young people out of their comfort zones, teaching them map reading, survival skills and team work. My own sons still talk about their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Gold expedition as one of the best things they ever did when they were at school – 4 days of navigating their way around the mountains of North Wales in horizontal rain and icy gales can teach us a lot about perseverance and pulling together.
Young people need to find their leadership potential; to be proactive, and not passive. A school which encourages its pupils to be adaptable, open to change and to other people, is actually going to enable them to lead rewarding, fulfilling lives. Einstein’s message should be loud and clear: think to learn, but above all, learn to think.
With spring on its way, what better time to replenish the book shelves with some fresh new titles.
Princess Primose by Alex T. Smith (Scholastic)
Another cracking story from Alex T. Smith. This time in the form of Princess Primrose, who has everything she could wish for – a beautiful palace, two ponies, and a pug. However, being so privileged comes at a price. Rules. And plenty of them, making poor Primrose’s life a misery as she is constantly in trouble. It leaves the king and queen no choice but to call upon the much-feared Grandmama to sort their little darling out. But will she be a help, or a hindrance?
Lots by Marc Martin (Big Picture Press) This beautiful book is so visually arresting, it will have the most curious of minds entertained for hours. In the words of Marc Martin, ‘Lots is about everything and everywhere’. From far and wide – the world is celebrated. The intricacies of the illustrations will have little fingers pointing out the funny and the quirky. A stunning book, guaranteed to be read, over and over.
Why Don’t we all live together anymore? by Dr Emma Wassington and Dr Christopher McCurry. Illustrated by Louis Thomas (Frances Lincoln)
This excellent book tackles the very difficult topic how to help children understand what is happening when parents divorce and how it will affect them. It focuses on questions which a child is likely to ask such as ‘Is it my fault?’ ‘Will I have to go to a different school?’ Illustrated and told from the point of view of a character who is going through the same thing – it’s a good entry point for children and adults alike to broach the subject.
Barry Loser and the birthday billions by Jim Smith (Egmont)
The eighth book in this best-selling award-winning series, Barry Loser is back and this time it’s his birthday and he gets the best present ever – The Shnozinator 9000 – a super cool gaming helmet. That is until his younger brother breaks it. Gah! What to do? Become an inventor and try to make enough money to buy a new one of course. Fans of Barry will not be disappointed – another page turning chuckle-fest.
Dave Pigeon by by Swapna Haddow, illustrated by Sheena Dempsey (Faber)
The second instalment of Dave Pigeon’s adventures. This time there’s peril afoot when Dave and Skipper’s ‘Human Lady’ goes on holiday, leaving them with short supply on the food front. They soon find themselves a new owner in the form of Reginald Grimster, who has a very generous feeding habit. But is he all that he seems? And why does he own so many cook books featuring birds? Another hilarious, illustrated tale that will have youngsters in stitches.
We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan (Bloomsbury)
This interestingly written story will challenge more competent readers. Although written in verse, Crossan and Conaghan met only once, both having been nominated for a prestigious children’s literature award. They collaborated on this novel by sending chapters via WhatsApp. What they created is a beautiful book about two characters, Jess and Nicu. Jess has a lot to hide, and Nicu’s parents want to return to their homeland to marry him off. As the pair become closer, can they survive their secrets?
With Christmas just around the corner, here’s the perfect excuse to splash out on those sumptuous hard backs you’ve been eyeing up all year.
Dogs In Cars by Felix Massie and Emmanuelle Walker (Flying Eye Books)
This is a super fun counting book which incorporates a huge variety of four legged friends all going for a ride in their cars. The illustrations are stylish and cheery as well as being very detailed – perfect for little fingers to try and count all of the dogs. Plus, it’s not just dogs you have to find but bones, mosquitos, and umbrellas amongst other things. Not only will this help your child with their counting, you’ll also learn the difference between a xoloitzcuintlis and a utonagans – perfect knowledge for the pub quiz.
Pandora by Victoria Turnbull (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books)
This is an absolutely beautiful gem of a book with a touching message about hope and new beginnings. Pandora lives on her own in a ‘land of broken things’ where other people’s trash is her treasure and she makes a home out of lost things, giving them a new lease of life. Her world is transformed when she discovers a bird with a broken wing. With plenty of TLC the bird is soon back to full health. Only to fly away. Forever. Leaving poor Pandora alone again, but in time she learns that life is worth living again. This is such an excellent book on so many levels, Victoria Turnbull’s illustrations have a retro quality to them and her use of a dark palate convey the sense disillusion of Pandora’s world.
Illuminature by Carnovsky and written by Rachel Williams (Wide Eyed Editions)
Make space on your shelves for this big beauty of a book. Using the three magic viewing lenses which are included in every edition, this is a real shared experience as you discover which animals inhabit which environment. This is a really technicoloured experience as the colours literally jump out of the page. Designed by Milan-based partnership Carnovsky and written by Rachel Williams (also author of the brilliant Atlas of Adventures) it’s jam packed with facts from animal from all over the world. This is a really visually arresting book for those curious about nature.
The White Fox by by Jackie Morris (Barrington Stoke)
Inspired by a true story of an Artic fox who climbed into a rubbish truck and ended up in Seattle, this is a real heart-warming wintery story which covers grief, bullying, and a road trip which finally bonds a father and son. And all because of a fox. Since the death of his mother, Sol lives alone with his dad, but the weight of grief is so all pervading that the dad has become distant from Sol as he comes to terms with the loss of his wife. School isn’t a happy place either and he spends his days trying to dodge the bullies who tease him, because of his ‘black hair and dark eyes,’ calling him Shamon boy. So Sol spends his time down at the docks and it’s there he spies a white fox – a fox the dockers manage to catch. A fox, he, along with his dad decide to return back to the wild in Alaska, which is where is grandparents live. A place which holds painful memories for the dad but happy memories for Sol. Dreamy illustrations accompany this cleverly woven tale that will really get young minds thinking.
A Year Full of Stories 52 Folk Tales and Legends from All Around the World by Angela McAllister and illustrated by Christopher Corr (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books) (Wide Eyed Editions)
Travel the world without leaving the sitting room with this fantastic treasury celebrating 52 stories from across the globe. There’s a tale for every week of the year and each one ties in with popular celebrations, events and seasons including Valentine’s Day, Easter, Harvest, Christmas plus many more. There are stories from every continent, gathering folk tales, myths and traditions which have been bought to life by the award-winning Angela Mcallister. Short enough to keep attention spans going, but long enough to ponder the message and meaning which lies within each story, coupled with Christopher Corr’s beautiful and colourful illustrations, this book is a real must-have that will entertain children and adults alike.
The Song from Somewhere Else by by A.F Harrold and illustrated by Levi Pinfold (Bloomsbury)
From the same author as The Imaginary, A.F Harrold returns with another story mixing dark with light, this time looking at the theme of bullying. When Frank’s bike is thrown into stinging nettle by the local bullies, an strange boy called Nick saves the day. From here the pair strike up an unlikely friendship and when Frank finds something magical in Nick’s basement, it all makes sense about his mysterious background. The illustrations are stunning, dark and brooding and compliment this story of differences and what it means to fit in. Quirky and beautiful.
We are looking for someone to join the City Kids family to help grow our ever popular magazine.
You will be joining us at a very exciting time as we look to expand our online and print presence. You will be responsible for developing existing and new relationships in various sectors including fashion, lifestyle and education.
You will be required to work remotely on a freelance basis with occasional catch up meetings at City Kids HQ. The successful candidate will be someone who likes flexible working, is great at managing their time and who can offer 15-20 hours a week to the role.
Ideally you will have previous experience in sales, publishing and the family market, but the job will also suit someone who is self-motivated, persistent and who knows the parent and kids’ market in London inside out.
Three at-home experiences for your budding scientist
As the nights draw in, try these fun, indoor, at-home STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) activities. These three simple experiments encourage curiosity using objects sitting around the house.
With Guy Fawkes around the corner, you can create your own spectacular display of colour without lighting a single sparkler!
WHAT YOU NEED
Clean empty jam jar
Fill the jar with water. Measure out three to four tablespoons of oil (whatever is handy in the kitchen) into the bowl. Add drops of different food colouring to the oil and mix gently with a fork. Then, carefully pour the oil/food colouring mix into the jar of water. The food colouring slowly sinks out of the oil and dissolves in the water, creating a mini firework visual effect.
HOW IT WORKS The food colouring dissolves in water and not oil. As the oil is less dense than water; it floats to the top; while the droplets of food colouring sink to the bottom; dissolving and dispersing in the water on the way.
TOP TIP Food colouring will mix so don’t over-stir!
GROW THE GUMMY BEAR
Any gummy bears sweets leftover from Halloween? Prepare to make them grow.
WHAT YOU NEED
Glass or bowl
Place the gummy bear in a glass or bowl of water. Record what it looks like over time. Leave for four to ten hours. Has your gummy bear grown?
HOW IT WORKS The gummy bear absorbs water, a bit like a sponge, through osmosis. Osmosis is a process by which molecules (in this case water) move from an area of high concentration (the glass/bowl) to an area of low concentration (the gummy bear), causing the bear to swell. If you leave the bear long enough it will completely dissolve.
BUILD A BRIDGE
Building is always fun; try this nifty little engineering project without the risk of stepping on any blocks!
WHAT YOU NEED
Three paper cups
12 x 1p coins
Place two cups on a solid surface and set the sheet of paper on top to build a bridge. Place the third cup on the centre of the paper. Does it hold? Add coins one by one to the balanced cup. Count how many are needed until the “bridge” gives way. Now take a second sheet of paper and fold it so it resembles a concertina. Repeat the experiment with this piece of paper. How many coins can be added to the balancing cup until the bridge gives way? This is a fun challenge to do with friends. The concertina “trick” will always win. Check out the difference between many, smaller folds and fewer, larger folds.
HOW IT WORKS Everything exerts a force, including the cup. The cup exerts a downward force on the flat paper; as it gets heavier with coins, the paper gives way. Folding the paper spreads the force across more paper, allowing it to support more weight than a flat piece of paper. Larger, fewer folds work better than many, smaller folds to support the weight of the cup as it is filled with pennies. Try it and see!
Hiding Heidi by Fiona Woodcock (Simon & Schuster)
This gorgeous debut by picture book author and illustrator Fiona Woodcock weaves in a lovely theme of friendship and compromise. Young Heidi loves to play hide and seek and is the mistress of disguise much to the annoyance of her friends. So when she throws a party and decides on the usual party game, her pals search high and low but she’s so good at hiding they continue the party without her making Heidi realise that it’s time to include the games all her friends like to play.
Beautifully illustrated by Woodcock who has worked on animated films, commercials, and West End shows, her whimsical style still packs a punch whilst subtly celebrating the skills that all children possess.
Everybody Feels… Sad! by Moira Butterfield & Holly Sterling (QED Publishing)
Great for tackling emotions, the Everybody Feels series explore different feelings children may be experiencing in an approachable and relatable way. In Everybody Feels…Sad! the book is divided into two separate stories told from the child’s point of view. One features a girl called Chloe who has lost her toy elephant and the other is about a young boy called Omar whose cat has to be put to sleep. Both stories look at why the characters are sad and how that sadness is resolved (Chloe’s pet is found, Omar gets two kittens), but it also gives brilliant practical advice for parents on how to work through sadness, whatever the situation. This includes tips on discussion points, using art and role-play to help facilitate their emotions. With warm illustrations that bring to life very real circumstances this is a must for helping children navigate the ups and downs in life.
The series also includes feeling scared, happy, and angry.
Nature’s Tiny Miracle: Bee by Britta Teckentrup (Little Tiger)
Another stunning book by the uber talented Britta Teckentrup. A joy to read on so many levels it charts the amazing work of the not so humble bee. With ever decreasing numbers, this book is a stark reminder of the vital work they do as we follow our bee from flower to flower. Teckentrup’s work is a visual delight and every page features a cut out where you can peep through and see our bee in action.
Coupled with her intricate collage work the tale is told through rhyme with the closing sentences summing the whole book up nicely: “As the bees fly on through buds and burrs, a tiny miracle occurs. For every plant and flower you see was given life by one small bee.”
Alpha, Bravo Charlie: The Complete Book of Nautical Codes by Sara Gillingham (Phaidon)
Nonfiction topics are going through a much-needed resurgence and this visually arresting reference book takes the subject of nautical codes to a whole new level and brings them to life. Any child with a love of boats will find this hugely fascinating as it details the phonetic alphabet, morse code, flag meaning, semaphore facts about a variety of boats. I’m not sure how handy it would be knowing the ‘Keep clear of me: I am engaged in trawling’ flag will be on a day trip down the Thames, but there is plenty of flags which could be made on a rainy day to reenact any given circumstance.
One for geeky girls and boys who loves facts and hand signals.
The Other Alice by Michelle Harrison
Everyone can relate to writing a story and not finishing it – imagine if that story held the clues to a mystery. That’s the premise of this gripping drama written by the award-winning Michelle Harrison. When Alice goes missing, it’s down to her brother Midge to find her. But where to begin? When he discovers a novel she hadn’t completed, The Museum of Unfinished Tales, it’s down to him to uncover the clues and track her whereabouts. The problem is the villains in her tale have come to life and are loose in the town. Can Midge and his friends Gypsy and Piper (also characters from the story) find Alice before it’s too late?
This is a genuinely, page turning read. Harrison keeps the story moving on at a fast pace, there’s also enough intrigue and suspense by the bucket load. Plus, there’s enough magic realism to add another layer of interest. A cracking read.
Here I stand: Stories that Speak for Freedom
For those young adults who are socially aware and politically-minded this collaboration between Amnesty International and Walker will be just the ticket. Written by twenty-five celebrated authors and illustrators including Neil Gaiman, Matt Haig, Sarah Crossan, Chris Riddell and Frances Hardinge, this collection of stories and poems keeps alive the debate around human rights.
Despite the fact that many rights and freedoms have been won, there’s still a long way to go and this book reminds of that fact. Told with a mix of humour, sadness and truth, they all have a powerful and poignant theme running through them as they explore topics such as execution, war and people who are marginalised in society. An truly thought-provoking read for teens and adults alike. All royalties go to Amnesty International and you can follow the debate on #hereIstand
Aimed at the pre-school age Animals Are Delicious, illustrated by Dave Ladd and Stephanie Anderson (Phaidon), is a collection of beautiful fold-out board books that focus on three animal food chains – land, sea and air. With the premise that ‘Everyone is hungry’, we learn that all creatures are somebody’s lunch somewhere down the line.
Curious children everywhere will love these books as they’re illustrated in both colour and black and white, and give easy to remember facts about the plants and animals that inhabit the Earth.
Harold’s Hungry Eyes by Kevin Waldron (Phaidon) is just a big win on so many levels. It tells the humorous tale of Harold, a Boston terrier (move over pugs) who spends his days dreaming about food and sleeping on his favourite chair.
Except one day his world is rocked with the rude awakening that his chair has gone missing, and when he sees it being taken by the refuse collectors, it leads to a mission to find it. He ends up getting lost in the city, which not only makes him miss home, but makes him hungry! Bicycle tyres become pretzels, doorsteps become wafers, lorries look like cheese and before long Harold is absolutely insatiable. All is not lost as he eventually finds his way home, and there’s a lovely surprise waiting for him…
This is the fourth picture book from Dublin-born artist Kevin Waldron who shares his studio with Oliver Jeffers and Jon Bergerman. Visually arresting with a zingy colour palate, this will firmly become a favourite. My only warning is I guarantee your audience will be hungry once hearing this story.
Goodnight Tiger by Timothy Knapman and Laura Hughes (Little Tiger) is an endearing story of a young girl called Emily who cannot get to sleep. Why? Because the jungle animals on her wallpaper keep waking her up. Now, that’s an excuse I’ve never heard before. Still, they’re making a racket because they, too, can’t get to sleep, so it’s Emily job to get them all back to the land of nod.
So as she encourages them to have a bath, hot chocolate and sings them lullabies she finds her efforts are fruitless until she reads them a bedtime story. A fun tale that reinforces the bedtime routine. A must for the little sleep thieves in your house.
For those who enjoyed the hugely successful Wonder by R J Palacio, The Bubble Boy by Stewart Foster (Simon & Schuster) is a natural choice. Joe is eleven years old and can’t remember a time when he wasn’t in hospital. He has a rare disorder called SCID and his life is spent living in a bubble. Even those who visit him carry the risk of contaminating him with life-threatening germs.
As depressing as this book sounds, it’s an absolutely cracking read. You’ll experience just about every emotion possible as we’re introduced to Joe’s world., which goes from being lived in his dreams, to dealing with extreme loneliness. With only his sister for family, he finds friendship in the form of Henry, who has the same condition but they’ve only Skyped because Henry lives in America, and his new nurse Amir who is a striking character.
Fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid will love Big Nate Blasts Off! by Lincoln Pierce, and as it’s had the seal of approval by Jeff Kinney himself that surely must mean it’s a hit. Big Nate has been around since the early nineties as it started off as a comic strip. Clearly Pierce has stuck true to his roots as there are illustrations on every page, meaning the jokes come thick and fast.
When Nate gets a job on the school newspaper it’s a chance to showcase his artistic skills, that is until he makes fun of Randy, the toughest kid in school and then of course it’s no laughing matter. With most of the action taking place in a school setting most older children will find the various scrapes that Nate gets into funny even if shamelessly American but don’t let that put you off, it’s an easy read with plenty of chuckles along the way.
Red Witch by Anna McKerrow (Quercus)
It’s 2047, and Devon and Cornwall have voluntarily split themselves off from the rest of the UK to form the ecopagan Greenworld, a peaceful and self-contained counterpoint to the dystopian Redworld, governed by private security and at war for the last scraps of fuel left in the world. However, all is not as harmonious as it might be in the Greenworld, and after cursing a boy and girl for murdering the boy she loved, 17 year old witch Demelza Hawthorne runs away across the border to the Redworld in search of a new life.
In once-magical Glastonbury, she meets the enigmatic and criminal Bran Crowley, who introduces her to the beauty and riches that the Redworld can offer to the right person; he’s looking for power, and Melz certainly has it. But will Melz be comfortable making a deal with the King of the Underworld?
Demelza is a fabulously feisty yet sensitive protagonist as we see especially from her journal entries. The story is packed full of rounded characters that leap off the page, as well as the vivid portrayal of dramatic Cornish scenery, and the powerful vision of a dystopian Glastonbury. This book has it all – adventure, romance and real world magic. Anna McKerrow is a rising star in the UK YA scene – an absolute must-read.
Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton (Faber) 12+
Amani lives in Dustwalk, a violent and corrupt wild west-esque desert town she’s desperate to leave. Yet the desert plains are full of danger, and the Sultan’s enemies are on the rise. Yet when Amani meets the mysterious Jin, she finds a way out of the oppressive and threatening Dustwalk, only to find that running away from trouble brings her into contact with some terrifying opponents – and magical new friends – in her search for the Rebel Prince.
Rebel of the Sands is an original and thrilling fantasy novel full of adventure, myth and magic. Amani is a fantastic heroine: brave, bold and witty. It’s a joy to immerse yourself in the fully developed world that Hamilton creates – a blend of the Wild West and Arabian Nights, with some killer comebacks and sharp dialogue between the sharpshooting, street-smart Amani and the hero and love interest Jin. The original mythology and legends woven into the world building are fascinating. It gives the story depth and authenticity, and the politics of Amani’s world are both familiar and foreign. Highly recommended.
Sharon Fried-Jones is a west London mum, who by day is the Head of Marketing and Digital for the charity BookTrust which inspires a love of reading in children, and by night is an aspiring children’s author with a love of clashing clothes, picture books who longs for a good night’s sleep.
2016 is all set to be a fantastic year for City Kids Magazine. We’re doubling circulation, covering new areas and enjoying the growing support of many families in West London. Here’s a little video of our Story So Far. We hope you enjoy it.
If your child is curious about science, or in fact, if they find their school classes a touch dull, then why not seek out a place where they can get involved in real life experiments. Every Saturday, Richer Education runs workshops in science, robotics and civil engineering, taking their learning to the next level.
Courses take place at Imperial College and each workshop is designed to inspire and motivate primary aged children into learning about science in a hands-on, practical way. A typical science workshop might be anything from dissecting a real heart, turning wine into water, to literally holding fire in their hands. In robotics, children can learn to write code, build a robot with robotic arms, that can grasp objects and how to synchronize multiple robots to make them dance. In Civil Engineering, children learn to find solutions to real life engineering challenges, in a child friendly way.
Science Saturday workshops are 9.30 – 11.30, whilst Robotic Saturday workshops run from 12-2pm, and Civil Engineering classes are at 2-4pm. All classes take place at Imperial College.
Eight year old Max realised his dream of becoming an estate agent, as he officially opened Hamptons International’s latest branch at KidZania London.
He was invited to open the branch and became its first ‘Junior Estate Agent’ after sending the company a letter asking what qualifications and skills he needed to enter the profession saying “I really want to do this job when I grow up”.
He was invited to cut the red tape alongside KidZania London’s mayor, and went on to make his first sale within the concession.
KidZania London is the UK’s first educational entertainment experience which aims to offer real-life work experiences for 4-14 year olds. You have to see it to believe it. Hamptons International is just one of several global brands including British Airways, Renault, H&M and Cadbury’s which gives children an insight into how their industry works.
Words: Victoria Evans | Reviewers: Isabel & Lucas Evans
As my husband reminded me on the way to Berkshire, you really can’t afford to get it wrong with kids and Christmas. The stakes are high for Lapland UK, but all bets are off. This is, hands down, the best Christmas experience the kids have ever had.
In true Evans style we were late following a minor detour to The Royal Berkshire Golf Club…no matter. The friendly elf on reception immediately set the tone for the afternoon’s experience – full immersion in Elf–talk, magic and imagination. The kids, now armed with their own Elf Passports, were excited even before we were ushered to the cosy, warm yurt-style tent, complete with sparkling fairy lights, a leafy canopy and elf performance. We learned how to perfect an elf wave before the door to The Enchanted Forest was opened. A world of white, snow encrusted pines was revealed, and the excitement ramped up a gear.
Our elf guide was taking us to the toy factory where the kids learned how important it was to help Father Christmas this year as the Good List is very long. They made a wooden horse and a soft, plush Rudolf (both of which are available to buy at The Emporium later) before the next adventure to meet Mother Christmas in her kitchen for a spot of cookie decorating.
It turns out Father Christmas is a gingerbread addict, so Mother Christmas warned the kids to keep their gingerbread houses safe. Elves, being very hospitable folk, also made sure the grown-ups were kept fully charged with a cookie. Nice touch.
The next trail took us to The Elf Village where the kids were free to ice skate, meet huskies, have a reasonably nutritious meal and then go wild in the toy and sweet shops. I’m always a bit bah humbug when it comes to merchandising at large kids’ venues, but The Emporium was at least tasteful with a variety of gifts at a variety of prices. It also didn’t feel too busy which makes a change from the usual Christmas crush.
Then it was time to meet the big man himself. While the rest of the afternoon had been shared with a group of around 50 adults and kids, this was a moment just for us. After checking in and a quick run-through of the personalised information we’d sent a couple of weeks earlier, two elves escorted us to Father Christmas’ wooden cabin, where we could hear him sleeping.
When you have a nine-year-old constantly being told by her friends that Santa doesn’t exist, a trip to Lapland UK could seem pointless. But…let me tell you, the look on both my kids’ faces when they met him was an image I will remember for the rest of my life. The kids hung on his every word and they were both gobsmacked to be sat in the same room as him – how did he know the name of my daughter’s best friend and that she’s just mastered long division? How did he know that my son’s best friend is his daddy or that his favourite iPad game is Terraria?
Of course, Father Christmas wasn’t going to be able to pull Lego Star Wars or cameras from his sack, but it wasn’t filled with naff plastic toys from Poundland either. With a new husky soft toy in hand, the kids emerged, totally wowed by what had just happened. All that was left was to purchase our family photo (this will be the only moment we all believe at the same time) before heading off into the night, full of excitement for the month ahead.
We took a six and nine year old who still believe, but I’d stick my neck out that even non-believers would leave Lapland UK with an inkling that Father Christmas exists.
A word from our reviewers…
“It’s the best place ever! I loved it! I didn’t want to leave! It’s soooo magical, we actually saw Santa’s sleigh and reindeer. We built toys with elves and made a gingerbread house with Mother Christmas. I LOVED meeting Father Christmas, he gave us a cuddly toy. He also showed me that I was on the good list!” Isabel, 9.
“I ice-skated and two elves could turn around! I saw Santa and he gave me a free present. He was really wonderful. I went to Pixie Mixie the Elf’s sweet shop. It was really yummy!” Lucas, 6.
Woo hoo! Not that we’re excited or anything, but we’re delighted that Sharky & George have joined the team here at City Kids HQ. Over coming issues, they’ll be sharing their wealth of experience in the party world, and boy, do they know how to put on a good do. Until next time, here’s a taste of what they’re all about.
About amazing parties Charlie: We did one this summer, which was about books and literature. It was mega! George: We created five different worlds – Neverland: with tricks, potions and smoke bombs; Narnia: with access through a cupboard door, a big snow machine, and lots of snowball fights and ice sculpting. The other worlds were Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Alice in Wonderland and Harry Potter. We told the children they were going to play quidditch, so they had to keep an eye out for the golden snitch. When the golden snitch came out, they had to wrestle him down. To finish off, everyone came through to a Mad Hatters Tea Party, which was awesome!
About saying no C: I don’t think we’ve ever said no. George is awful at saying no. The only thing I can think of was when a father wanted his son to parachute into his party, but that was on a health and safety grounds. The boy was eight or nine so we put him in a gyrocopter instead. G: I say yes to everything and get into a lot of trouble with the team when, on a weekend that is clearly full, I say, “Of course we can do that … In Scotland? No problem. 50 children. Great!”
About getting involved G: We don’t normally do much dressing up, character stuff. We’re more like two older brothers who turn up and do a couple of hours of really active games. We’re planning bigger and bigger parties such as big laser missions which we’ve developed for slightly older children. We are also doing more corporate work, so we’re more involved in party development.
About their skills G: I’m not sure either of us could claim to have a specific skillset at all! C: Imagination and immaturity is probably our main skillset, and continuing to enjoy it.
About childhood party memories C: Mine were pretty bog standard. Very much bouncy castle and traditional party games. There was always an entertainer. G: My eighth birthday was different as my dad is a chocolate maker. I was allowed to invite about 15 friends to the factory and Dad took us around. We took things off the machines as they went past, which was really cool. At the end, everyone was given a plastic ice cream tub and pointed to a tap; we filled it all the way up with chocolate to take home.
About an ideal Christmas G: This one will be it. It’s my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary and they’re taking all of us to a hotel in Dorset, right on the beach. Top of the list is a swim in the sea on Christmas Day and a lot of eating. C: I’ve just married a New Yorker so I’m going to New York for Christmas. Bit worried about the lack of Coleman’s bread sauce so I’m taking some packets in my suitcase.
About New Year’s resolutions C: No chocolate? G: Mine last year was to say “no” at work; I think it worked alright for the first month or so.
About 2016 C: We’ve launched Partner in Crime, which is our word for nanny. G: This initiative was born from our clients ringing up to ask whether Tom, “who did our party last month”, was free to join them on holiday for a week to just do cool stuff. Or both parents are at work and the nanny’s ill, could he take the kids skateboarding. C: We have all these guys who are trained to do awesome parties. We know they’re fantastic with children, and we know that they’re responsible, cool and fun.
About party tricks G: I don’t really do tricks. C: Speak for yourself! I can walk over you on my hands, which I’ll demonstrate later … George and I used to have a sort of breakdance routine. G: We used to do quite a lot of fire spinning and fire poi. We did have quite a few hair on fire moments. C: I’ve never quite grown up – I like doing back flips. Normally into water. I didn’t want to get this out, but a journalist did ask what my party trick was … [shows a video on his phone of himself doing a back flip on a trampoline].
About World Records [Charlie once held the record for the fastest pantomime horse]
C: Some annoying Commonwealth Games runner beat it – I refused to read about it. G: We broke one this past summer for the biggest game of stuck in the mud. We broke the record with 472 people playing at Thomas’s Fulham, so that was fun.
West London born and bred, he has come a long way since his dysfunctional school days. discovered by Jamie Oliver at Fifteen, he now presents the BBC’s Junior Bake Off and will be appearing at The Cake and Bake Show in October.
I wasn’t very good at school. I was talking to my daughters who love school and they asked what my last day was like, but I don’t think I even turned up! Because I have dyslexia, I couldn’t get on at school, they thought that I was being disruptive. I had a good time with my friends but academically I couldn’t do it.
It changes you, you become more responsible, more punctual because you have to be on time and you have responsibility in the kitchen. You have to clean up as a person and become organised. It gave me a career where you can work anywhere in the world.
ABOUT JAMIE OLIVER
He has a lot of energy, he’s honest, and there’s never been a scandal with him. He’s a good guy, a hard worker and he cares about people and issues so he puts everything into it. He’s a person to look up to and a good role model.
If I hadn’t got into cooking I wouldn’t be doing tv. I have two different lives, and I’ve been around the world – I’m pretty lucky. I’m flying to the Philippines shortly to film The Amazing Food Challenge for the Asian Food Channel. It’s like Masterchef but with lots of adventure.
ABOUT WORKING WITH CHILDREN ON JUNIOR BAKE OFF
I have children so it’s easy for me. Kids have good imaginations and they always have something to say. When I was a kid no one
really did baking with us but now they just know what they’re doing. They’ve got their own recipes – it’s really impressive.
ABOUT WEEKENDS WITH HIS KIDS
We like to go for a bike ride by the river from Putney to Barnes or we’ll spend time with my sister and their cousin with a take away and movies. I’m away so much that I like just spending time with them and catching up.
ABOUT HIS LAST SUPPER
I’d invite UB40, Bob Marley, Ricky Gervais, Chris Martin and probably Jennifer Lawrence. We’d eat a roast leg of lamb.
ABOUT WEST LONDON EATING
I love to grab some Ochi at Shepherd’s bush with my daughters. If I was looking for a restaurant, I like Italian, so I’d go to La Famiglia in Chelsea.
ABOUT THE CAKE AND BAKE SHOW
I’m doing an interactive class, where I’m making Portuguese tarts; on the Live Stage I’ll be making a lemon curd tart, and I’m also doing a Masterclass for Cannoli and Chocolate Marquise.
Aaron has kindly shared one of his recipes with us. A cauliflower creme brulee probably wouldn’t be top of my list but got to be worth a go!
City Kids Magazine readers will get 20% off bookings at London’s first trampoline park.
There aren’t many families in London that don’t have a trampoline in the back garden (although we happen to be one of them). So if you want to take the kids to a trampoline park, it’s a trip to Guildford or Milton Keynes – until now.
Oxygen Freejumping opens today in Acton, with 150 trampolines, quite literally wall-to-wall. London’s first trampoline park not only provides hour-long freejump sessions for £12.50, there’s also an obstacle course, dodgeball, Family Bounce (no escape mums and dads) and fitness classes. Those who fancy taking their skills further can have tuition or join the Trampoline Academy. And for those difficult teenage years, there are Teen Takeovers, which include a DJ strobe lights and banging sounds.
Sebastien Foucan has also relocated his Foucan Freerunning Academy to the Acton site with his holiday clubs starting today.
“I’m very excited to be part of this and to see all the kids’ enthusiasm. I’ve got new equipment and the vibe is different. It’s made for this!”
Parties will be a winner with parents all over London; corporate team building days can be catered for too. But if you’d rather relax, homemade pizza, wifi and a good brew should keep you happy.
Oxygen Freejumping gets the thumbs up from City Kids, who did their first somersaults within minutes. As you can see, I’ve done my bit for the cause – a cappuccino is waiting for me on the mezzanine.