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Does the notion of palaeontology not surprise you? Then you sure have a child who seeks knowledge of the dinosaur science. You may be one of those parents who make their way to the Natural History Museum every half term! If you are- then you know how crowded it gets and how difficult it is to reach to the life like T-Rex.

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The answer to your prayers is the “Dino Snores for kids” – the sleepover at the Natural History Museum. “Dino Snores for kids” is the event for children aged 7 years to 11 years. My daughter has been talking about sleepover at the museum next to dinosaurs in her sleeping bag since she was 3 years old. She heard from her friend how her big brother went to the Natural History Museum with his dad, carrying their sleeping bags to sleep next to the dinosaurs. Just the idea of camping in a museum full of dinosaurs and other artefacts excited her very young mind. I have been waiting for her to be at the right age. As it’s an awe-inspiring, action-packed night and not for the faint hearted. We were really delighted when we were offered review tickets to the “Dino Snores for kids in association with Airbnb. Why Airbnb- you ask. Here is some background info.

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 Airbnb has joined forces with the Natural History Museum to offer guests of the popular ‘Dino Snores for Kids’ sleepovers a chance to stay at a new Airbnb Base Camp. Inspiring a future generation of explorers, ‘Dino Snores for Kids’ is a special sleepover, giving children aged 7 to 11 the chance to explore the Museum after dark while taking part in fun and educational activities. Upon booking a place at Dino Snores for Kids, the Museum will give guests the opportunity to win one of the 20 spots at the Airbnb Base Camp. The lucky winners will get to sleep in a specially designed camp area on the balcony of Hintze Hall at the Natural History Museum. As a guest of Airbnb, you will sleep beside a giant sequoia that is over 1,300 years old, overlooking the Museum’s brand-new star specimen: a 25.2 metre real blue whale skeleton that is suspended from the ceiling and plunges through the heart of the newly reimagined Hintze Hall. The Airbnb guests will be met by their very own explorer host, before enjoying a wide range of fun activities over the course of the night, which in our case included torch-lit trails, Dino-design t-shirt making, science show explaining how the universe works and the educative session with animal man in the morning. The ticket prices are adult £60, child £60 and member £54.  The price tag includes all the activities and the breakfast at the museum, I think this would make perfect birthday or Christmas gift for children and adults alike. Each child must be accompanied by an adult, and the required ratio for adults to children is, as set by the Museum is:   for 1 child- 1 adult required, for 2-4 children- 2 adults required, for 5-12 children-3 adults required, for 13-20 children- 4 adults required, for 21-28 children- 5 adults required, for 29-36 children- 6 adults required.

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 Now let me tell you about our “Dino Snore for kids” event. As we were lucky enough to be one of the Airbnb guests, we did not need to bring our sleeping bags. We only needed to pack our pyjamas, toiletries and our food to be consumed in the evening in the museum. The food bag needed to be clearly labelled with our names, so it would be easy to find it later. We came to the Natural History Museum with a bounce on our step trying to anticipate what we will experience.  We queued up and went through the security check. I admit this put my mind in peace as we would be spending the night with these people. Once inside all of the children were given gift bags by Airbnb. It had a bottle, an activity book, a luggage tag, a pen and a winding torch. Most of the ids used the first and the latter straight away. We were all divided to teams and met our team leaders and team mates. Our food bags were placed in a special bag in our team’s colour. We were then shown our place to sleep the night. As we were Airbnb campers, our places were on the third level next to a 1300 years old giant Sequoia. The Airbnb camp was made in a true olden days’ camp style. This has added to the magical feeling of the night and we were feeling ourselves as a part of an adventure film. The camp host right away divided each child’s responsibility at the camp. We were shown the map of the camp and met by the camp fire to go to our activities of the night.

 

First activity of the “Dino Snores for Kids” event was a science show full of experiments, 3D shows, questions and answers and by true scientists working at the museum. This excited the kids very much as they learnt how our universe worked, how the human knowledge is progressing. The kids were called upon to the stage to be a model of the universe. The 3d shows made the experience that much closer to reality. Epi the scientist showed the kids real pieces of Moon and Mars, that are currently at the museum. They were shown in real examples what is the distance between planets and the crescendo of this was a real life comet making. We all came out wiser and hungry. So everybody went to the café area for our dinner. Our bags were carefully laid there by teams. So we could easily find our food. Hot tea, coffee and water were provided by the museum. After having a dinner we were all ready for the next adventure.

He next adventure was t-shirt designing. The children were explained how they could transfer their designs to the t-shirts (t-shirts were provided by the museum), they had a blast coming out with different designs and names. Then the staff explained to us parents, what to do with t-shirts at home to preserve the design the children did. We all left the t-shirts in named bags to be collected next morning. This kept our hands free for the next activity.

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The next activity was the highlight of the night. Different teams were asked to find different clues in a dark dinosaur gallery. All of the children were provided with torches, pencils and papers to write down the clues they have found. Everybody loved this activity. Going round the gloomy gallery full of dinosaur fossils, we suddenly came across the lifelike T-Rex and some people let out a squeal. Little detectives did well and the activity finished. It was past 11p.m. and everybody was tired. So we all went to our sleeping areas. We went up to Airbnb camp base.  We had a quite story time by the fire. Put our pyjamas, got ready for the night and fell asleep on our camp beds. That had clean sheets, pillows and warm blankets – what more to ask. We dimmed our lantern and the museum lights went off at midnight. 

The next morning we were gently woken at 7a.m. We brushed our teeth and had our breakfast by the camp fire. There was tea and coffee readily waiting for us. The breakfast was served in camp tins that said “Adventure begins”. This cheered us up and we were ready for the next adventure.

After the breakfast we put all our things to our bags and made our way down. The final activity of the “Dino Snores with Kids” was the live educational session with Animal Man. He brought some animals to show to children, to let them touch and feel them. He explained how the animal kingdom worked. He had list of birthday children who he was calling one by one to hold a tarantula, pancake tortoise, a huge snake and more. He was very funny and informative at the same time. Me and my daughter we had a go at handling 3.5 meter long python, that weighed more than 30 kilos! This was the first time we held a snake in our lives!

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After this activity we were all shown to where our things were. We collected our belongings and enjoyed an extra hour of browsing through the museum galleries, before it would open to the public at 10 a.m. We went through the galleries that would fill up quickly first, we went on to glance at the newly redone Hintze Hall and it’s new exhibits. We also made it upstairs to “The Vaults” to enjoy watching natures precious and semi precious formations. A truly treasure gallery indeed!

 

The “Dino Snores for Kids” was a phenomenal experience for both me and my child. We came out knowing a lot more than we did before; we came out with an experience of camping at the Natural History Museum. We lived through torch lit dinosaur trail and the privilege of walking through almost empty museum without the usual hassle and bustle to see some of the favourite exhibits. This provided us with opportunity to learn more and to appreciate more the fossils we were looking at. The phenomenal work done by the scientists inspired my child a lot, she could appreciate this thanks to the fact that we were in the museum during the night and could learn at our pace the next morning too. In this day and age we often break our heads as to what excite with or inspire with the young minds of our children. I believe “Dino Snore for Kids” is the answer.  A perfect Christmas present, birthday gift or an experience they deserve paying their way with their exceptional behaviour and stars on their charts.  The next “Dino Snores for kids” event dates are as following:

9th September, 7th October, 14th October, 18th November, 20th January 2018.

Go on and try it, you and your child will remember it for years to come! We will!!

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The number one author in the world – Roald Dahl’s books keep children and their adults mesmerised. All four of us are Roald Dahl fans in our household. Since September 2016 marked 100 years since his birth, we enjoyed dream jars hunting across London. The news that more productions are coming to life made us leap with excitement. This is how we felt when we were invited to the opening night of Roald Dahl’s “Fantastic Mr Fox” at Orchard Theatre. My children were counting days, my husband made sure he comes home early on the day to enjoy these timeless classic!
We arrived at Orchard Theatre, 20 minutes prior to show. The place was buzzing with children wearing Mr Fox outfits, purchasable at the theatre shop. We enjoyed our complimentary drinks and our kids went through the Orchard Theatre’s program. The latter was crammed with activities for kids and pages and pages of information on “Fantastic Mr Fox” production. Going through the booklet my seven year old was amazed at the achievements of production team. National Theatre playwright, Best Costume award holder designer, Nathional Theatre composer and the cast from well acknowledged theatres were promising the jackpot of the shows!

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This new musical adaptation of FANTASTIC MR FOX is a flagship production for the Roald Dahl 100 celebrations marking the centenary year of the world’s number one storyteller and hotly follows the release of Steven Spielberg’s movie version of THE BFG. This new commission by Nuffield and Curve in association with Lyric Hammersmith brings together a stellar creative team: playwright Sam Holcroft, director Maria Aberg, designer Tom Scutt, composer Arthur Darvill, lyricists Darren Clark, Arthur Darvill, Sam Holcroft and Al Muriel, sound designer Claire Windsor, lighting designer Lee Curran, casting director Annelie Powell and movement director Ayse Tashkiran. FANTASTIC MR FOX is produced by Nuffield and Curve in association with Lyric Hammersmith.
The lights went down, the spectators stopped breathing in suspense and waiting for the show to begin. It began with beautiful birds singing live in beautiful voices, thus enthralling us slowly to the bright world of Roald Dahl in his true spirit. From those four beginning notes and beautiful accords we knew this show was more to what we’d expected! This idyllic scene was disrupted by three farmers coming from amongst of the audience, as a wakeup call life gives one sometimes. They were the true personages Roald Dahl described! Then we were introduced to the Badger, the Rabbit, the Mole and the Mouse who were waiting for Fantastic Mr Fox to bring them food. On the upper level Mrs Fox and her kit were working on hunting techniques. Kit being a typical child was very impatient, but Mrs Fox didn’t let failure to break her kit and teaching the perseverance. Finally Fantastic Mr Fox emerges from the auditorium too with cheers from excited children. He was bearing lots of food for his friends that he willingly shared and went back to his family for their dinner. The cast was meticulously selected and they were giving it all their selves. The singing, the dances, the transformations ,the energy that was there throughout the show was charging the each and every one of spectators. If you have ever visited the West End Musical, this is what it feels like! The show is recommended for the ages of five and above. We had our seven year old and a two year old with us! The seven year old was enchanted and the surprisingly the two year old was taken too. It may be a little long for younger viewers being two hours (our two year old was getting tired after a long day), so if you have young children with you we would recommend to visit the show during the daytime. But our toddler loved it nonetheless and thinks that the story is to be continued and looks forward to go back and see Mr and Mrs Fox. If you have not introduced the musical to your children yet, this is the best show to start! As the cast were really good with live singing, live music band and beautiful choreography. We liked the humour only the modern adults would get too, like self employed rats, no charging docks the iPads’ and more.

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The theme of perseverance came a lot through the show and was a very good teaching point for children to retain – to never give up and to achieve their highest dreams! Especially nowadays our children are under a lot of pressure be it SATs, 11plus exam, A levels and more. This show is not only a brilliant entertainment but an indispensable teaching tool towards building a stronger “Can do” attitude. The sharing is another important issue that was brought up that we tend to forget these days and it is becoming more and more acceptable to be selfish. Fantastic Mr Fox was not perfect, he had his shortcomings too. They made sure to let the children know that even if Mr Fox was a superhero in animal world, he still needed his friends and family when times were tough. The value of true friendship, family ties and team work was brought to the attention of auditors in such a great way; the children were discussing their day to day doings after the show. This alone demonstrates “Fantastic Mr Fox” show is a must see production for shaping young minds, building a strong, confident and open individuals. As Fantastic Mr Fox tries to keep being fantastic himself after na injury and can’t succeed on his own. His friends and family come to support him, each and every one of them being very good at something the teamwork makes impossible possible. This makes Mr Fox humble and he admits that they are better off as a team. This production is a pinnacle of musical shows for children! If you have not taken your children to any musicals yet, this is a great opportunity to impress young minds. They will remember this for years and years to come, keeping it as a happy childhood memory – a very bright star in the sky of young minds. My seven and two year old children loved the show, the music, the singing, the acting and all the effects made it to an extraordinary experience one lives through the whole show, laughing, gasping and looking for solutions together with the cast. The clapping sounds of ovation filled the auditorium and the happy spectators were thankful to have come and seen such a great show for children and their adults! This perfection of a show gets 10 out of 10 from us!

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On Thursday we had a pleasure of going to see the play by Story Pocket Theatre. They have put on scene Michael Morpurgo’s “Arthur, High King of Britain”.

We could not wait to arrive and watch it, as Morpurgo is one of favourite writers of my elder child. Arriving at Greenwich Theatre was a bliss, as it is so close and there are plenty of parking spaces around it. We were brave enough to take our two year old as well, even if the play was more for ages seven and above. The two year old was mesmerised and followed the whole play with few questions in between the scenes.

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This epic tale of chivalry, magic and heroism was brought to life by a professional troupe of Story Pocket Theatre. I have watched thousands of plays and I admit that we have been so used to special effects, sounds and extras, at times we forget what is the true theatrical experience should deliver.

The actors made sure we succumbed to a true theatrical adventure this time! The whole play was set by a team in such a fluid manner, you would not notice it going from one act to another. As there is such a continuality, you keep peeled to the scene worrying you would miss a delicious bit of it! The whole play is set the old fashioned theatre troupe way, which made the experience even more pleasing for me, taking me back to my childhood where we used to go to theatres to watch our favourite stories coming alive! From modern days, the story flows to the times of making of King Arthur, showing us the hardships he had to overcome, how he fell in love and how he was lured by his half sister. Personally  I was worried about the last bit, but the half sister’s act was shown in a beautiful dance, understandable enough not to disturb young minds. It showed how one has to stay true to himself to make wise decisions, in example of Merlin leaving King Arthur. Hence not only relying on a wit of smart people surrounding you but taking your own steps. The knights of the round table of Camelot, the sword fights shown in an expert manner would appeal to any young heart who find the medieval fights fascinating. There are incredible  bits of medieval dance during the wedding and happy times of King Arthur too. The whole production is about 1h30 minutes without intervals and is such a true theatrical experience to live through for young book lovers! The play is still on the stages of other theatres. And we recommend you to go and see it!

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Here is the list of places it will be on:

  1. February 22nd 2017, 2pm Theatre Brycheiniog Brecon, Powys, 01874611622 brycgeiniog.co.uk
  2. February 23rd 2017, 1pm & 4pm Blackwood Miners Institute, Caerphilly 01495227206 Caerphilly.co.uk
  3. February 25th 2017, 2.30pm Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury, 01684295074 rosetheatre.org
  4. February 26th 2017, 1.30pm & 5pm The Neeld Chippenham, 01249446699 neeld.co.uk
  5. March 2nd 2017, 11am The Broadway Theatre, Barking, 02085075607 thebroadwaybarking.com
  6. March 13th 2017, Richard Whiteley Theatre, Settle, North Yorkshire, 01729893180 giggleswick.org.uk

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We’ve had a chance to review Kidzania with a toddler in tow!20161204_175132

One might think it is the place for school children only, but this experience proved us that we can visit Kidzania with young children too. Frankly, I have put off a full family visit of Kidzania as much as  I could. But having an older child who is now seven and her talking non stop about Kidzania and what activities she is planning to do next, this is impossible. The toddler who is two years old was constantly asking about Kidzania too, as her big sister shaped a perfect picture of a magic place where children only rule!

The day came and off we went in a car to Westfield Sheperds Bush in a car. I would like to stress that you need to check the website and get the correct location as there are some works going on around Westfield nowadays. Please make sure you plan to arrive an hour or so earlier, as we spent a good quarter of an hour looking for a free parking slot. Another useful piece of advise, we realised only when leaving, do register with Westfield parking to get £8 capped price for a full day of parking. We didn’t do it and paid slightly over it £9.50. Once we arrived at Kidzania, there was quite a queue to check in to it too. My elder daughter was getting worried that we were running late for a pre-booked slot, thus losing precious play time for children. But the staff started the time slot from our check-in time and not the pre-booked slot, so we were in luck. We were presented with little maps, the elder child got her Kidzoos (Kidzania money) and off we went to explore it.

By the time we parked, checked in and entered Kidzania she was hungry, so we went to GBK  in Kidzania, so she could make her own burger and eat it. While she was busy making her halal burger, we ordered some food for ourselves and the toddler too. The elder daughter came out with her self made burger and a huge grin on her face. We all sat and ate our lunch. Then we split with my husband, he went with a toddler and I went with the elder daughter. We went to the engineering centre where my daughter was an engineer in a sports car team. They were taught a lot about the fast cars and now we can safely say my elder daughter knows what to do in case her car needs a wheel change. She also got paid for this job. Next destination was a hospital, where she was a hospital nurse looking after newborns. She was quite good at it, as she had lots of practice with her baby sister. She also got paid for this job and I regretted not taking a little bag for her. She could keep all of her kidzoos in it, her safety net for the hair in there and other little belongings too. The next things she wanted to experience was an ice-cream factory. She waited in the queue quietly, knowing she would be making ice-creams soon. When the time came she went in with other children, they all made ice-creams after learning the process and all got paid, getting the little badges as a bonus. After this we went to the Central Bank of Kidzania and deposited her Kidzoos, so that she would not lose them and can withdraw any money when needed. She was very proud having her own bank account and her very own bank card. She withdrew some money and off we went to British Airways, where she wanted to land a plane. Here we met with my other half and swapped the children.

Now having a toddler in tow, I looked at my map and sorted out the things we can do with a two year old in Kidzania. There were several activities and we did them all with her. First we went to the Kindergarten. This was a large space with tables, chaird, crayons, papers, musical instruments, soft play music on the wall, wooden play sets and more. We were the only ones in there, as soon as we entered my toddler put the apron on and sat on a table to do some colouring. Once she was done with it, she went to play with the interactive wall, pressing different animals and different sounds they made occupied her for a little while. She really liked this farm wall and it being soft lead her enjoy playing for longer. Once she was done with it, she asked for the toys neatly put on the shelves, she went through the musical instruments one by one. Coming to the next section, building toys, I never knew she would be so interested in building toys. These types of places are good to learn about your child’s interests too, as this may surprise you. While we were playing in there the Christmas songs were playing and the staff were running outside the “buildings” to perform the dance routine.

When she had enough of playing in the “Kindergarden” we went to the “Dance club”. This is a space for pre-schoolers too and I thought it is a good space to let the steam off. An upbeat music was playing while we enjoyed dancing on a colourful flashy dancefloor with my toddler. My little one liked to jump, dance and perform here. This really led her steaming off and she was calm after this activity, ready for the next one.

The next stop was “Science lab” and my toddler became a “lab technician”. She learned the importance of washing her hands and cleaning the dishes she has used. She learnt how to make different bubbles with different wands and the importance of clearing off the mess you create. Bubble blowing and catching was the highlight of this activity. A toddler and bubbles can it get any better? Apparantly it can! Our next activity proved it! “RightZKeeper’s Residence” was our next stop. We were guests there and this one place was providing different things to do. Unfortunately the kitchen area was closed off, which lead to a major meltdown. But we successfully managed to distract her with the water filled trampoline, the soft beds and the dressing up room. Where a dinosaur crazed toddler found a big T-Rex and was adamant to take him home with us. She had fun dressing up and being a fire fighter rescuing her friend the T-Rex from fire.

Our four hours came to an end and we went to a picture room to see the photos of our little ones and if we want to buy some. After this we went through an immigration and checked out. The other point I liked was that all the children were wearing the bracelets and the alarms go off, if they are leaving with strangers.

After this visit, now I am sure I can take my toddler to Kidzania too, as she had as much fun as her elder sibling. She still keeps asking for “Pidzania” (that’s how she calls “Kidzania”) each time she behaves well. Kidzania – a place for all the children young or older for a unique unforgettable experience.

 

 

 

 

 

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Most parents of the toddlers live with Peppa Pig’s family. Our two year old is obsessed with this show. So when  I got the review tickets to the West End show of “Peppa Pig’s surprise” she couldn’t wait for the day to come.

The Phoenix Theatre where the show was taking place was easily reachable from the Charing Cross station. We arrived 20 minutes earlier as we had a buggy. The Theatre staff are really helpful, as they are aware of audience arriving with young children and buggies. They try to sort people out as soon as possible trying to prevent the possible toddler tantrums. After getting our tickets we were shown where we can leave our buggies. At the entry our little one made us buy a windmill of her favourite character George. I thought it would be a good idea if that meant she would keep happy throughout the show for the price of £8 . Little I knew what an exciting experience for the whole family was ahead! The theatre has rather clean toilets with baby changing and feeding facilities. You leave the buggies and get it with your tickets. Extra toys and merchandise can be purchased upon arrival and they sell some snacks too.

Little after we went to our seats, we realised my toddler is a little bit small for her seat. So we paid an extra £1 for a booster seat. In retrospect I would not get it, as she spent the whole show dancing, singing and jumping around!

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There were four of us, two adults and two children. My seven year old was a little bit sceptical as she thought this is only for toddlers and she was too old for the show. These were her thought before the show. As soon as the show started with children’s favourite characters coming to the stage and the energy of actors coming on waves we were all mesmerised and were simply enjoying the brilliant production! The show is a hit with all ages from start to finish with songs, dances, engaging the audience, special effects, bubbles, snow and is just fun!

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I found that the production team has done an excellent job, the storyline is close to the original Peppa Pig cartoon. The puppets and the actors are oozing with energy that is easily transferred to the audience making everyone happy and bouncy. My toddler who is fan of George really like how they made him cry just like in a cartoon, making her squeal from excitement. There are two acts during the show, which gives enough time to have a loo break or get some snacks. If your little ones have never been to theatre before, this show provides a perfect first time experience! Helping you nurturing cultured children who look forward to their theatre outings. The little twist at the end made us all feel the Christmas joy again and it was a very welcome bonus! We thoroughly enjoyed the show, even my seven year old who was not very keen on it initially said that she loved it and she was happy that she came. A perfect family day out and an unforgettable experience for little ones! The show is still on this week at Phoenix theatre. We are looking forward to see some more productions of this team, as they truly are magical! If you have not seen it yet, book quickly and enjoy watching your little ones joy! It gets thumbs up from us and we recommend it!

 

 

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Today me and my girls were invited to the Cadbury event at the Shard.

We arrived there in the afternoon, we left the buggies downstairs, got through security checks and were flown up in a super fast lifts. The children enjoyed the videos that were shown on the roof of the lift. We went straight to the top of the Shard – the 72nd floor. As soon as we stepped out we saw the giant spider web. It was made of purple Cadbury rope. The fresh cool breeze blowing from the open top of the Shard gave it even more mysterious ambiance.

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We were quite taken by it. The children were curious were the treats were, but still enjoying the breath taking views of London. It was a little misty today and under the sunset the colours were beautiful. Children were busy running around the whole of the top floor from one side to the other enjoying the roof tops of most of the buildings and spotting the landmarks of London.

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My elder daughter was so happy to be “On top of the world” . I was really glad to see her that happy. While we were savouring the beautiful views of London, the Cadbury people brought the two chocolate towers. And the faces of the children lit, as they knew they finally found the treats. As some people left by this time saying, they were tricked.

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There was a suspence for a little while. As the men said they have to wait. But five minutes lasted five seconds, may be another one of their tricks. And everybody had heaps of chocolates. Fellow parents asked their children if they liked the Shard more or the chocolates. Guess what their reply was. But a sweet treat on top of the Europe’s tallest building for Halloween is something to remember for long years ahead.

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As the sun started to kiss the horizon I admiringly looked at the couples who were announcing their engagements on top of the Shard with flutes of champaign in their hands, I thought it is time to get back home. We were all happy, elated being up in the air sweetened by Cadbury’s generosity. There is still time to experience this. Besides as it is half term kids go free.

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If you are out of ideas like me what to get to people who have it all. This might help you.

We have visited Cambridge and Norwich and this costed us a lot! Hence when I saw this I was excited.

The trainline is having a sale on Greater Anglia service that normally goes between London, Norwich, Ipswich and Colchester for £5 one way! That’s a lot less than £82 we paid per person!

So if you think you might commute that way or visit a Colchester Zoo or any other reason you will use Greater Anglia service between 2nd January and 28th February in 2013 buy your ticket now, the offer ends January the 1st 🙂

Here is the clickable link to the deal.

Enjoy your CHEAP ride and your journey. Or this will make a good present. Well I would like smth like this 🙂

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