Tag Archives: days out

London Day Trip


London Day Trip

The weekend before Christmas the boys and I travelled to the South East of England to visit family in Essex. Now that the boys are a little older I decided to leave some time between trains to see the sites in London. I’ve always enjoyed spending time walking through London and I had hoped the boys would too.

Our train out of the midlands travels into Euston underground and we took the connection to Green Park station. George adores the underground and loves the enormous escalators full of people, and strangely dressed buskers. His personal confidence can be a problem as he runs ahead without looking to see where George and I are, and he tries to edge as close to the speeding underground trains as he can.

Coming out into the sunshine at Green Park we walked through the park to Buckingham Palace to watch the guards and take photos. I have really vivid memories of my first trip to Buckingham Palace. To me it was a really big event. For George and James they couldn’t have looked any less interested. Even the sight of two burly royal guards, and a procession of Horse Guards didn’t spark the slightest interest. I guess they didn’t have Minecraft in my day, so we were easily impressed by real buildings!

From there we can walk along the Mall to Hyde Park which has a Winter Wonderland theme park at the moment. There are stalls, rides and a German Christmas market as well as an ice rink and big wheel. I had tried to book ice skating beforehand but it was booked up weeks in advance. In any event the boys were more interested in the giant wooden statues and stalls selling cakes and sweets. Definitely a bigger hit than Buckingham Palace.

With two hours left before our train, I let the boys decide how they would like to spend their time. Without a moments hesitation they both asked for a trip to Hamleys. Another underground trip and we arrived at Oxford Street, and a short walk brought us to the magical giant toy store. I think this is our third visit to the store , and If you’ve not already been, then I can’t recommend it enough. There are endless interactive displays on each of the floors; radio controlled helicopters flying overhead; a Nerf shooting range; magicians. The boys think it’s magical. The prices are usually a little higher than high street, so I usually set a strict limit on what they can have, or offer to order online as soon as we’re home.

Also if you’ve not visited before I couldn’t recommend highly enough that that you DON’T visit the weekend before Christmas. Absolute chaos! Hundreds and hundreds of families running round looking for last minutes gifts. To the credit of Hamleys there were staff on each set of stairs and throughout the store ushering visitors into orderly queues, and preventing little ones from getting trampled. Better still the gigantic animated  Christmas display at the front of the store was breathtaking.

After that it was back to Liverpool Street and out to the wilds of Essex.  Little legs were exhausted and tablets went on (Minecraft obvs!)

Let me know about your adventures around the capital with your little ones, and top tips for family friendly places to visit. 

For opening info for Hamleys Toy Shop:-

188-196 Regent Street, London W1B 5BT


Weekend weariness


This is the weekend when I don’t have the boys. Finally I have five minutes to put my feet up and catch up on those world cup games that I missed. Or so I thought.

After spending last weekend catching up with a week’s homework and gossip for them both (Amy Thomas is now playing with Ryan, but won’t share loom bands with Sarah) I suddenly find that I can’t see the bedroom floor for washing and debris. During the week I commute to work and I’m lucky to get time to eat and wash in the same day. The weekend is not long enough to change the beds, iron the shirts, catch up with relatives and sit down to watch football. On the weekend when the boys aren’t with me I find myself busier than when they’re with me.

I always love telephoning the boys at the weekend to find out what they’re up too. It’s usually a long list that includes DVD’s, Hex bugs, top trumps, and I get really jealous. Next I get a list of everything they’ve eaten for 48 hours. This always sounds suspiciously healthy compared to what I’ve let them eat the weekend before.

The boys are always very polite and ask me what I’ve been up to as well.  “Washing, ironing…” and unsurprisingly they struggle to sound interested. I’ve now started dodging the question, or saying something generic “very long run this morning” before telling them how many salads I’ve eaten in the last 48 hours. They know that this figure is also suspiciously high.

At points like this I find wondering what it is I need to do at the weekend to make the calls more interesting for them. Which then leads me to think; will they stop coming to see me if I’m not interesting enough? I know that they enjoy coming to see me just because they love me and I’m their father, but it’s a doubt I have everytime we have our weekend call.

Of course as a separated parent I don’t have a budget that supports a weekend of motor racing, bungee jumping, or wind-surfing. With my new job I even struggle to find the time to go running more than a couple of times a week, and this has to be the most low maintenance hobby any weekend parent can have? My (single) house mate has taken up archery which sounds fun, but the costs are still high.

The washing cycle has finished so it’s back to the housework for me. I suppose I will have to keep bribing them with Dominos for now.

Have you ever taken up a hobby or attended an event just to impress your children?

Birmingham Thinktank Science Garden and Museum at Millenium Point


Thinktank Science Garden

Watch a clip

When it comes to free activities then we are first in the queue! If you have not already been to Thinktank in Birmingham then I would definitely encourage you to go. If nothing else the building and and grounds provide a lovely open space for children, just to explore, and run around. Even befor you consider what’s on offer. The Science Garden opened in Summer 2012. This outdoor space is completely free to enter and is full of interesting, well-designed activities. Even if, like George and me, you’re not interested in the science, you can still just start messing around with things and have and really enjoyable couple of hours. If you, like James, you are interested in the scient then there is a lot of information telling you about what the equipment is demonstrating. The garden is suitable for all ages. There is a stream running through the middle with steppins stones, so I’d advise caution with younger visitors, althouth there is a separate play park for tint tota. Our favourite of the many exhibits is the one in the video clip; a giant human-sized hamster wheel. If your child can make it go fast enough it will create enough electricity to light a small bulb at one end. Sadly for James, George was more insterested in turning it into a competion about which direction to travel! The website states that there are 42 hands-on exhibits. Certainly we got through about ten or twelve in a couple of hours before the West Midlands weather got the better of us, and we took shelter in the indoor exhibition space. We decidied to take a picnic with us and so the only thing we paid for the whole day was parking costs. If you’re inclinded to stretch the budget then there is the Thinktank museum itself, as well as the Imax cinema. Birmingham Thinktank and Science Garden can be foud at Millennium Point, Curzon Street, Birmingham B4 7XG Tel : 0121 202 2222. For opening times and ticket information please follow the link.

The Gate Gallop

Each year the boys and me  visit the Gate Gallop running event in Tamworth. This year the Gate Gallop takes place on the 28th June 2015 and as always includes families, and first timers, as well as serious athletes. There are various races that take place during the day including a 10k race, fun run, and children’s run. All events are traffic free and off road. There is a bbq throughout the day with refreshments, a  bouncy castle and much more. The event takes place at:-

Anker Valley Sports Complex, Amington, Tamworth B77 3AX

Funds raised by the event are donated to local charity St Giles Hospice Registered Charity No. 509014 Marshalls for the event are provided by local club runners from Peel Road Runners.

peel road runners




James and George enjoy running and love taking part in the event. There is a small entry fee but they get a finishers medal and goody bag for their hard work. There is always a lovely atmosphere at the event with everybody encouraging each other on. Start Times: Children’s  9.45am, Fun Run (4.4k) 10.15am, 10k Race 11.15am Parking, Showers and Changing: Available, free at venue. First Aid: Mercia EMA will be on hand around the course and at the finish.

The Gate Gallop
The Gate Gallop