The British Library: Storytelling at its best

This was a special half term excursion for us, as they had a special storytelling event with craft. It had a Peter Pan theme which was perfect for us, as MiniMalik LOVES Peter Pan.

So off we trundled to see Peter Pan, not in costume as I struggled to whip something up in that short a time (pajamas had not occurred to me, despite how obvious!), and followed various costumed children in the walk from the underground station to the library.

On arrival we immediately went to listen the story telling, the story of Peter Pan  told by a magnificent story teller (Kevin Graal), all the children were completely captivated. After the story was finished, some of the children stayed upstairs to add to the crocodile and do other Peter Pan related crafts, but we followed the story teller downstairs.

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In a room downstairs the story continued with some riddles and participation, again all children were completely captivated!

The thing that impressed me the most was that the staff admitted that they were expecting perhaps 20 children, not the 60 or so, but they responded quickly and found a room and more activities for the children to do, without us parents noticing that it wasnt planned!

We didn’t get to see much of the rest of the library, although the toilets were great!

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Horniman Museum and Gardens

I almost don’t want to write this post. The Horniman Museum and Gardens is such a treasure of South London that I want to keep it all to myself.  We went this week during the height of summer holidays, and there wasn’t a crowd in sight, no need to queue for any of the exhibits or events and there was so much to do.

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Giant fabric Giraffe.

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Beans’ favourite part of the museum. I don’t know why.

I had done a bit of research on their website to see what was on for the under-5’s during the holidays and I was pleasantly surprised at the variety and volume of free activities. There seems to be 3-4 different things everyday to keep the kids entertained, on top of the coolness that is the museum and gardens themselves. The first thing we did when we arrived was go look at the monkey skeletons. Beans loves them. I don’t know why.  She was also a big fan of the dogs skulls attached to a nearby wall.

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Tree Frog Beans.

There was a big sign letting us know that the overstuffed walrus had headed to Margate for the summer, but a gigantic fabric giraffe was in it’s place.  There were also some lovely volunteers with different exhibit pieces that kids could touch. Beans was particularly fond of the giant peacock egg and feather. We then headed into one of the Family Fun Art sessions. Between 10 and 2:45 they museum was offering 30 minute art sessions for groups of children. This weeks activity was to create a tree frog mask. Beans is a creative sort and really took to it. Each session has a maximum of 30 children (ours only had 5 others), all supplies are provided and it’s completely free.

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Flower Gardens

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Outdoor musical instruments.

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Sheep!

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Alpaca.

With her mask firmly attached to her head we went to the Nature Base. This is just off of the Natural History section. There are a few interactive exhibits (massive magnifying glass, different animal sounds, a stuffed fox one can pet), as well as some live animals (mice). My favourite bit is a glass beehive. When we’ve been before the bees have been dormant, but today it was an alive mass of busy bees. After going through a few more of the exhibits we headed outside to the gardens. I noticed on my way out that their was a puppet show/play on that day in the pavilion, so we headed there first. Beans sat enraptured as we learned how Dan the seed became a dandelion through wind pollination (there was a bit more to it really, with songs and a villain and heroes, but the basic plot was about a plant). The gardens also have some new animals for kids to see and possibly pet. There were several signs about how the sheep may bite, so I didn’t let Beans touch them, but the goat seemed quite friendly. Beans was quite taken with the  adorable new rabbit and as a knitter I felt quite the affinity for the alpacas. Outdoor musical instruments are also available in the garden. There were xylophones, drums,  and various other percussion instruments for kids to happily bang away on. Even Sprout got in on the action, joyfully making as much noise as she could. The whole lot was quite impressive to my 9 month old. I could go on forever about all the wonderful things there are at the Horniman. Lots of free exhibits, hands on activities, storytelling and tours. The cafe is gorgeous and they have a wonderful conservatory, gorgeous flower gardens, wide open fields, at least a dozen different sundials scattered throughout, places to sit and have a picnic, a library and so much more. If you want to pay they have an aquarium and visiting exhibits as well. I really can’t recommend it enough and we end up going as much as possible. Beans, Sprout and I have been 3 or so times in the last 6 months and every time we’ve discovered something new and interesting. So even though I feel like it’s a secret, wonderful place and it pains me to share it, the museum itself deserves to have more visitors. So please go and enjoy! Information can be found here: http://www.horniman.ac.uk/ Nearest train station is Forest Hill. The museum is about a 10 minute walk (3 year old speed, 5 minutes at normal walking speed). Several buses stop near by as well.

Princess Diana Memorial Playground & Fountain: A visit to Neverland

To celebrate the last day of half term, and the glorious sunshine, micro, mini and I headed off to Neverland … Or that’s what I told mini malik!

When we arrived at the gates and we were buzzed through to the playarea (The security is AMAZING!), the look on mini malik’s face was of pure delight as he realised he could be Captain hook on a real boat (He had pretended to be Captain Hook for the entire journey and several days before hand)!

Nature area, Princess Diana memorial playground

The princess Diana memorial playground must be the ultimate playgroud. With a play ship complete with climbable rigging, wheel and galley set in a giant sandpit, an area with tepees, musical sensory garden, raised walkway with slides, water play, toddlers section, forest areas and more that we didn’t explore!Princess Diana memorial playground

You WILL be on your feet chasing your children around, so wear some comfy shoes. A lot of parents were trying to follow older children whilst carrying younger ones and pushing a pram … that’s no fun. I wore Micro Malik and had our belongings in a granny trolley so I could easily follow Mini Malik around. If you must take a pram, then bring a rucksack for precious belongings and abandon your pram in a quiet corner (Not with children in it!), or use a bike lock to secure it.

The toilets are within the compound, but the refreshments aren’t. There is a kiosk just outside selling ice cream, food, drinks etc with a good number of picnic benches.

There is a fair amount of grass for picnicking, but nowhere near enough seating. So if you struggle with being on your feet for a long time, I’d bring a little camping stool.

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Princess Diana memorial playground

It’s a bit of a trek to the fountain, about 15/20 mins walk at the pace of a 3 year old. Mini Malik moaned all the way that the batteries had fallen out of his tummy … You just follow the ‘princess Diana trail’ markings in the pavement and it takes you straight there.
However it was worth dragging him there when he realised what he was allowed to play in! I had remembered to bring his swimming shorts, so got him changed and set him loose. Micro Malik and I set up under a shady tree and had some nappy free time whilst Mini did laps of the fountain.

If the teeny ones want to splash around too, then the pool at the bottom is ideal!

Its also right by the river where they do pedal boats and a ‘solar cruise’ and has its own car park.

There was a little kiosk selling drinks and food, I didn’t look for toilets but I have a feeling there were probably some close by!

Count of the day: 3 children in pirate costumes

Kit list

Picnic blanket & food

Drinks

Bucket and spade

Towel and swim gear

Money for tea/coffee and ice cream

A book/knitting

Comfy shoes

Waterproof suncream