Sadler’s Wells Theatre is home to one of our favourite stage productions – The Snowman and we are super excited to be returning there this Easter to watch Akram Khan’s new dance-theatre production, Jungle Book Reimagined.
The production is based on the classic Rudyard Kipling tale and is brought to life by a mixture of state of the art amination and visuals and of course the fabulous dancers.
The show is suitable for children aged 8+ and is running from Tuesday 4th – Saturday 15th April. Tickets range from £15-£55 and can be booked through the box office online or by phoning 020 7863 8000.
For those booking tickets on Friday 7th April or Saturday 8th April there is an extra treat or family friendly activities before the show.
When I was a child the classic Raymond Briggs story of The Snowman was a constant each and every Christmas and my love for this story has been passed down to all my children who have all been enchanted by the story as I was all those years ago.
Saddler’s Wells have bought this iconic story to life by way of a glorious stage adaptation that we were lucky enough to go along and see this weekend.
The story of a little boy’s magical adventures on Christmas Eve come to life in front off your eyes, as you find yourself getting immersed in the magic as the friendship of the snowman and the little boy grows and the adventures they have traveling to and partying at the North Pole.
There are a few extras added to the original story which ordinarily I wouldn’t like. But it fits in absolutely perfect and just enhances an already wonderful story.
This really is a show for young to old and is the perfect way to introduce dance to little ones; and even though there is a running time of just under two hours there wasn’t a moan or a fidgety bottom in the house!
This really would make for the perfect festive treat and there are still tickets avalible for this stand out West End show. It is running at The Peacock Theatre – Holborn until 31st December and you can book tickets HERE.
You can also take a look at some of the fun we had HERE.
Anyone that follows me will know that we are huge fans of Mama Shelter. It is the perfect destination for families and we can’t wait to celebrate Halloween there this year!
On the 29th October from 11.30am – 3pm the hotel will be bringing a taste of Mexico to East London with their Dia De Los Muertos – Halloween Family Brunch.
Alongside a gorgeous brunch menu – which I can most definitely vouch for! There will be a whole host of fun from face painting to magic tricks, football tournaments to arcade games, karaoke and much more!
When you book this fun and interactive family brunch you get to enter our competition. On the day, share your Instagram stories and posts of enjoyment, tag us @thejoyoffive and @mamashelterlondon and you will enter the prize drawer to win a Family Stay at Mama.
T+C: The winner will be selected on Monday 31stOctober and the Family Stay includes a nights stay’ with two bedrooms (one for the parents and one for the kids) with complimentary breakfast. The stay will be valid to be booked to stay during the month of January 2023.
Although we are Londoners, being South of the river means going into central London is still always an exciting experience. The hustle and bustle, the towering buildings, the eclectic diversity of everyone there is always food for my sole and something I will never tire of – and it’s something I encourge my children to enjoy too.
What is even better than a day trip is an over night stay, and we were lucky enough to experience a night at Andaz London Liverpool Street. Andaz London Liverpool Street is a short walk from London Bridge station and a stones throw from the Shoreditch District, which is certainly one of my favourite parts of London.
Andaz London dates back to 1884 and was formally known as The Great Eastern. My Dad who is a born and breed East Ender, remembers the hotel from his childhood, and I’m glad to stay the original features have been mixed perfectly with a modern twist, giving it that feel wow factor.
Upon arrival a glass of very welcomed glass of Prosecco was placed in my hand after a slightly fraught journey with two over excited boys! We checked in with ease and made our made upstairs to check out our room. We had an interconecting room which allowed for plenty of space to chill out, infact the rooms were some of the most spacious I have stayed in. The soft, cosy beds were super inviting and the simplistic decor made for a very calming atmosphere.
The little notes back to the hotel’s East London roots with art from a local tattoo artist were the perefct touch, and the boys were even left some tattoos to try on themselves!
The black and white, clean lines of the bathrooms were beautiful and complemented the rest of the room perfectly.
We wanted for nothing inside the room as there was a fully stocked mini bar…much to the boys delight, tea and coffee facilities and of course robes and slippers that we slipped into as soon as we settled in.
The boys unloaded their toys and I sat back and relaxed until it was time to head down to dinner.
Every evening there are complimentary drinks in the lounge between 6 – 8pm. I was a little hesitant about going along with the boys, but they thoroughly enjoyed listening to the music and taking in the atmosphere.
Our room was located directly next to Liverpool Street Station and I was worried about the noise, but we didn’t hear a peep from outside and we all slept really well. The 12oclock check out allowed us to have a lay in and enjoy our room before heading down to breakfast.
Breakfast while we are away is always a highlight for the kids, and if it is a buffet style they are even happier. So their eyes lit up when the saw the plethora of food on offer. There was everything from cereals and fruit, continental style treats to a full english or there was the option to order from the menu with favourites such as pancakes and eggs Benedict – we really were spolit for choice!
Sometimes I find you are ushered out as there is a big turnover of people, but the kids were uncharacteristically relaxed and we sat for a good while, enjoying the delicious food and each others company.
Andaz London is perfect if you want a centeral location, a touch of luxury and good food with a quirky twist. A family friendly hotel with all the little touches to make it a great stay for the adults too!
[PRESS TRIP] I have passed over Tower Bridge countless times either on foot or by car and the magnitude of it never fails to amaze me. The iconic blue immediately catches my eye and it has always been one of my favourite London landmarks. I have passed this love down to my children who all get equally as excited as me at the sight.
So can you imagine the excitement levels when I told them we would be taking a trip inside – well this was filled with a little apprehension as both Frankie and I are not good with heights!
A short walk along the river chatting about what we might see and do once we arrived and we were there to be greeted by a lovley lady who gave us lots in infromation on the bridge whilst we waited in the short queue. It was then time to make our way inside. We took the small windy staircase of the North Tower up to the top which was great to add to or anticipation, but for those with buggies or access issues there was a lift that could be used.
On the way up there were lots of interesting facts to read, most of which I had no idea about. Once inside the walkway we were greeeted with a light and airy area with panoramic views across London. We purchased a view guide and the boys loved matching up the landmarks in the book when they came across them, and there were also guides on the windows that were really useful.
But of course what we were most looking forward to was the glass floor and it didn’t disappoint! Being 42 metres above the river gave you the most amazing perspective. Oscar was well away and was speeding across trying to spot people and look for his favourite cars. Frankie was a little more coy to begin with – as was I, but I was actually pleasantly suprised that my usual fear wasn’t that great and I got to really enjoy the moment.
Next up was the descent through the South Tower. As we made our was down we got to learn a little about the people who worked inside Tower Bridge and inside the stunning Bascle Chambers if you look closly enough you will spot some statues of these workers. A little futher down there were tools and uniforms of the staff on display that Oscar was particuarly taken with.
As we came out of the South Tower I thought this was the end of our trip and I was pleasantly surprised that we acually needed to follow the blue line along to the engine rooms. the blue line was made to commemorate the people of Tower Bridge and it was lovely to take this all in as we walked.
I wasnt really to excited about going into the engine rooms as I had a preconceived idea it would just be full of machinery and not too interesting. This was quashed as soon as we arrived. The boys made a bee line for the interactive exhibit that showed you the workings of the engines and then much to my amazement we found the most beautiful looking steam engines. Painted in the most vivid green and red, thet really were a sight to behold.
From here there was more things for the boys to get thier hands on and the loved finding out facts about the people who had made histrry on the bridge with their crazy acts, such as the brave Albert Gunter who jumped the open bridge to save a double decker bus full of people!
The Tower Bridge experience exceeded our expectations and Oscar has even been back at school writng about this as his favoruite experience of the holidays. Now we need to try an book again to see the bridge lifting whilst we are on there!
[PRESS VISIT] This summer was all about making up for the lost time of lockdown and trying to fit in as much fun as we could. A lot of our time was spent with us being tourists in our own city and exploring parts of London we haven’t been too – and this included a new resturant for us – Ping Pong.
Ping Ping offers delicious Dim Sum and carefully crafted cocktails at a whole host of different locations across London. We were visiting the Tate Modern so decided on the South Bank branch for our visit and were welcomed with a smile and shown to our table.
There are no menus per se, instead you have a list of all the foods and drinks avaliable and then us it as a tick sheet for the items you want. I had completely over ordered to begin with but the friendly waiter was on hand to help me rejig a few things and we were then good to go.
We were there for Ping Pong’s happy hour which runs from 3-6pm Monday to Friday and offers a huge range of their Dim Sum and cocktails for half the price.
There really was something to please everyone and the boys loved the opportunity to sample things they haven’t tried before…and of course it would have been rude not to have tried a cocktail or two!
The soft and delicate prawn and chive dumplings were to die for, as were the turmeric and Chinese vegetable dumplings. The children worked their way through plate fulls of crispy duck spring rolls and enjoyed popping edamame beans covered in celery salt. We washed all this down with lychee and iced teas for the boys and Ping Pong signature cocktails for me.
We couldn’t have faulted our first trip at all. Helpful staff, beautiful surroundings and fabuolous food and drink in a relaxed atmosphere…what more could you want!
[PRESS TRIP] With over twenty years or parenting I sometimes reach the summer holidays and feel that I have exhausted every single day out there is. Of course we have some firm favourites we never tire of and can happily revisit time and time again, but were always on the hunt for new and exciting places and we definitely came across this the other day at Flipout – Croydon.
Flipout is Croydon’s largest Indoor Super Centre and is home to a whole host of amazing activities from mini golf to laser quest, five a side football to bumper cars, synthetic ice skating to ninja tag as well as the most amazing bounce area…I’m sure there is something I’ve missed!
The centre is based at the bottom of Centrale and Whitgift Shopping Centre and you can get discounted parking upon validating your ticket, which makes it super easy to get too as well as affordable too.
We arrived for the first session of the day and were greeted with smiles and very knowledgeable staff that told us everything we needed before we got on with the play. The sessions last for three hours and from what we saw it is best to book an early slot as it fills up towards the end of the day and it becomes harder to find a base to plot up at.
For the first part of the day I went around with the children, taking part in the fun with them, and I loved that it has all been designed so the adults could have some fun too, but I was also perfectly happy to sit back, relax and enjoy a coffee whilst they had some independent play. Flipout spans two floors and although it is a pretty big space, eveything is easy to navigate and there is always someone on hand to help out.
Some of the areas you needed to queue for but aside from the bumper cars we didn’t wait for more than a few minutes for anything, and we were able to visit our favourite areas time and time again. I loved the fact there were fast pace activities such as the laser tag mixed with calmer pursuits such as mini golf and ice skating so there was something for everyone.
After working up an appetite we headed to the cafe that stocks a small range of hot food and snacks. My pizza loving crew filled themselves up with delicious pizza slices that were at a good price and even had an offer running of ‘buy three get one free’. They washed all this down with a slushie, which again was great valve as you had the option to buy unlimited refills.
The three hours literally flew by and it was announced that they had had, ‘the best day ever’ and I have to admit I had a lot of fun too!
Anyone from aged four right through to adults would love Flipout and it’s one of the only places I visited that would keep my entire gang happy – and that’s no mean feat with a family spanning a range of ages. We had no moaning or groaning and in fact the only words muttered as we left were – ‘when are we coming back’ so you can’t get better than that!
Stepping out of the cab with the blistering sun burning down on us, we could have easily been on an LA strip and not in the centre on Hackney when we arrived at Mama Shelter.
The grand, black building and striking canopies gave the hotel that immediate ‘wow’ factor, which also fills me with dread when it comes to travelling with kids! Little did I know though my worries were soon to be quashed.
We made our way past young couples sipping cocktails in the sun and entered the entrance hall where we were greeted with a ecletic mix of clashing, colourful prints and luxurious fabrics that were a feast for the eyes; but I think the game changer for us all was the arcade game sitting right by the reception; which imedietly put my mind at ease about the children being there and gave them something to do whilst I checked in, in peace.
I couldn’t have asked for a warmer welcome. I was told everything I needed to know and the children were asked what they were looking forward to during thier stay.
Our stay was going to see us experience Mama Shelter’s ‘Kidzcation’ which means that when you book one room you get one half price which is interconecting if avaliable so the family are all still together.
Our rooms consisted of a double bed and two singles which worked perfectly for us. There was plenty of room to move around and all the little essentials you need such as an area to make drinks and gorgous own brand bathroom goodies.
Screen addict Frankie homed straight in on the TV and was over the moon with the huge array of free movies on offer…I think he would have been happy to stay there all weekend. Another lovely little extra were the sweets on the kids beds and the super cute Looney Tunes masks that the boys kept on for the majority of their stay .
All settled in we made our way down to dinner. The restaurant was buzzing and had a fantastic atmosphere. There was a heated debate over who was sitting on the sofa which resulted in a full on meltdown from Oscar. Normally this would make for a fraught evening, but thanks to our wonderful waiter the crisis was divered and his kinds words telling me what a fab job I was doing with the kids meant so much!
We feasted on the best burgers I have ever tasted and finshed off with a variety of puddings from cookies and milk to brulee’d pain perdu.
The children’s menu mirrored that of the adults which is always somthing I like, instead of the usual beige offerings. Mine all wolfed down their meals and I had the chance to sit and enjoy a G&T in peace while the boys played on the super cool football table.
A check out time of 12pm meant that we could have a really lazy morning which is always welcome when you have numerous little ones to get ready. A few coffees, a bit of TV watching and a long relaxing shower later we went to fill our bellies once more. Children under 12 eat free for breakfast and they get to choose from the main menu which has a great variety. We are definitely a pancake loving family and couldn’t turn down the fluffy panckes dripping with syrup and covered in crispy bacon.
Full to the brim the boys made full use of the arcade machines before we headed to the karaoke room. Tucked away at the bottom of the hotel are two karaoke rooms where Oscar was in his element. The disco lighting and iPads to select your favourite tunes were a fantastic addition to an already wonderful stay.
If you are looking for a stay that caters perfectly for the kids whilst still giving the parents something special then Mama Shleter is the place to be!
[GIFTED] I’m sure that anyone who has followed me for a while now will know of my love for water. Ordinarily the sea is my first passion, but anything that brings me close to the water makes me happy.
So as you can imagine when we went along to Kingston the other day to try out a trip on a boat with Go Boat you know how happy I was about this!
We regularly visit Kingston for a walk along the riverside and to grab a bite to eat and I have always seen the boats sauntering up and down the river and fancied getting onboard myself, so this was the perfect opportunity for me.
Go Boat is electric, self-drive picnic boat that has is situated along the Riverside Walk just on the edge of Kingston town centre.
Upon arrival we were created with a smile, lots of hand sanitiser and plenty of social distance markers which made us feel at ease right away.
All payments are contact free along with signing in and each boat is sanitised before each trip.
Safety instructions were given, life jackets were issued and we were shown to our boat. Each boat holds up to eight people and we took my Mum and Dad along…Dad was made to take the helm and become captain for the afternoon.
We all got comfortable whilst locating the umbrellas that were provided, and with the sun beating down they were very much welcome.
Our trip was for two hours which would allow us to get to Hampton Court and back but you can opt for just an hour or three hours which means you to take in both Teddingdon and Molesey Lock too.
With six of us in total there was still plenty of room to put your feet up and relax whilst taking in the sights of the stunning riverside houses, paddle boarders and swimmers and of course the grand Hampton Court Palace.
We took our own picnic with us which is a must if you ask me and I think if we had a return trip we would definitely go all out with this as the table really lends itself to this.
We ended our trip by passing under the bridge which the children absolutely loved – especially as I fell off the end of the bench trying to get a good picture!
The two hours absolutely flew by and my preconceived ideas about the boys being a pain were completely quashed. They loved sitting taking it all and helping grandad to steer and can’t wait to get onboard again soon, so I think the Paddington morning will have to be out next port of call!
[AD] We started the half term pretty spectacularly when we headed to a pub in Balham! Yes I was taking my children to a pub in South London on a Monday morning – however this was not for a cheeky wine, it was to celebrate the launch of the new Series of Robozuna.
For those of you not familiar with Robozuna it is a animated show about a 14 year old boy called Ariston and his homemade robot – Mangle who together try to free their land of its evil empire and band of robots.
The show was really bought to life for us with a wrestling match and a real life Mangle who was there to oversee the proceedings.
The boys are huge wrestling fans and quickly settled down with their popcorn to watch the show whilst shouting, cheering and encouraging the fighters with each and every choke hold, slam dunk and flying fist!
Whilst all the fun was taking place we got the chance to take a look at some of the brilliant toys that are available to accompany the show. I love being able to purchase toys to go along with the children’s favourite shows as it really allows them to us their own imaginations and create scenes of their own.
Frankie’s eyes lit up when he saw the Robozuna game that is available on iOS and Android.
The game allows you to customise your own bot and battle against others using coding as well as your own creativity.
I had to tear Frankie away which is always the sign of a good game!
If you are already a fan or have liked what you see then don’t forget to tune into CITV and ITV at 8.30am on 29th February and check out the brand new series!