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I was really happy when I was asked to try out the private guided tour of London provided by Planet Pass. For this I needed to download the app from AppStore.  The app is really easy to use. It doesn’t crash or close on it’s own. I was able to go through different tours of London. I had a look at the list with my seven year old daughter and we chose Shakespeare tour. We chose the day and the time of the tour and booked it. The payment was taken via card and was straight forward. As soon as I booked, I saw where I will meet my guide and his photo. So it is easy to spot him in busy crowds of London.

The day of the tour arrived and off we went with my seven year old daughter and her eight year old friend. They are both book worms, know a lot and have a curious nature. So they could barely contain their excitement. I left my toddler with my friend, so that I could enjoy the tour more. In the midst of trying to get out of the house quickly I left my other phone where I downloaded the app and had all the details of the tour. I knew that the starting point was St. Paul’s cathedral and that our tour was at 1 p.m. I quickly googled the phone number for PlanetPass and told them all about it. They were really helpful in finding my guide and they even called me back to ask if I found him. I was really glad they did, as this shows they look after their customers. If you are not me – a parent who rashes around and you are more organised to have your phone all the time with you. You can just call the tour guide directly from the app.

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Anyways drama averted and our guide James found us, so our tour began. Our tour guide – James was an exceptional person. He is an Oxford graduate, loves his job, has passion for history and very patient. All these contributed to our tour being a true experience one would like to live through. He transported us right back to history, walking on the footsteps of Shakespeare and living through his life effaced busy London for us. And for those hours London was something out of movies, as we could imagine what it would be like back in time. Where Shakespeare lived, where he got married, where he himself acted out his play, where he went to church and the places he would spend most of the times writing up his timeless chef d’oeuvres. James explained everything in a beautiful English, accessible to kids that were with me and all at the same time keeping their focus on history. Even if the girls’ imagination would wonder to other things, he would take his time to explain it. The girls were really happy to know that such an academic is paying them full attention and satisfying each turn of their curious minds.

20160804_141827James took us to the hidden corners of tranquil (yes!) London. I did not even know these places exist and a peaceful environment there made our travel back to Shakespeare’s London even more realistic. After showing the temples that Shakespeare himself acted out his plays in front of all London’s elite, we started to pay attention to all little creatures around London. As our guide explained their meaning and now we knew what they stand for.

 

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He explained us why The Mermaid Theatre, The Rose theatre and the Globe theatres are important. He showed us where all they were and told us the types of plays that would be acted out in them. He showed us where original Globe was, why it was there and the scope of how big it used to be. After seeing the place of original Globe and going back to see the Globe on the other side of the Millennium bridge, we agreed that the one built later is not as big as original one. He explained what those little creatures on the gates of the Globe stand for too. 20160804_150451

Being kids the girls were distracted by other historical monuments. James being a very patient person he answered all their questions about them. And kept introducing us to the new things we would otherwise pass. From now on my strolls through the streets of London won’t be the same thanks to the tour guide James. I will take every opportunity to stop and to cherish what is around us as this is a real source of positive energy. If you are a tired parent like me and feel like you need a boost of energy this is the best way of doing it. As London is full of mysterious places to be discovered and the knowledgeable guides like James from PlanetPass provide you with an unforgettable experience!

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We had a brilliant day immersed in Shakespeare’s London, living through ups and downs of those days and feeling, seeing it ourselves. Thanks PlanetPass from me and the girls. We came back inspired, full of positive energy and can not wait for another tour like this, as there are many more provided by the same company. I truly recommend the PlanetPass private tours for all, be it a tourist, or a Londoner and you want to taste a quintessentially English experience.

We had a delight of sampling Agatha Christie’s timeless classic  “The Mousetrap” at the Orchard Theatre last night. I always wanted to find out for myself what is that keeping this production so popular for the last 64 years! The only way to know was to go and see the production.

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There is no surprise that the theatre was full to the bream! Everybody was excited and trying to guess what is it that kept the show for so long or how would the events would turn out. Finally the curtain opened and an unforgettable journey to experiencing Agatha Christie’s wit began. As soon as you see the décor you recognise the oak panelled library and the skips a beat with excitement. From the very beginning of the play all of your senses are peeled to the stage, so to not to miss anything out to figure out the events. Young Mrs. Ralston (Anna Andresen) comes inside, followed by her husband (Nick Barclay) hiding a package in the box, making sure you get suspicious from the start! Later the guests Christopher Wren (Oliver Gully), Mrs Boyle (Louise Jameson), Major Metcalf (Tony Boncza), Miss Casewell (Amy Downham) and the unexpected Mr Paravicini (Gregory Cox) setting a perfect scene to solve the murder that happened in London and echoed to the little idyllic Monkswell Manor guest house. Mrs. Ralston receives a call about the imminent arrival of the police sergeant Trotter (Lewis Collier) and upon his arrival the guests learn that there is going to be two more casualties.

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It is amazing how the story turns out, as I personally suspected that nothing will happen with police present. But little I knew that the turn of the events would be so unexpected and difficult to solve. As Agatha Christie puts it nicely herself “It is sort of play you can take anyone to. It’s not really frightening. It’s  not really horrible. It’s not really a farce, but it has a little bit of all these things and perhaps that satisfies a lot of different people”. Watching the play you grow into liking some of the characters, get to laugh a lot to hilarious comments and actions of others. The nursery rhyme “Three blind mouse” will never sound the same any more. And you come up starting to deeply analyse all the people around you. So go ahead and enjoy this classic while it is here at the Orchard Theatre. Savour yourself the witty play of Agatha Christie directed by Ian Watt-Smith. This is the once in a lifetime experience and the only way to know why the show is so popular throughout the decades to sample it yourself!

“The Mousetrap” is running at the Orchard Theatre until the 21st of May 2016.

 

Twenty first century is giving us lots of opportunities to brake the clichés. Nowadays girls are doing as much as man do in different fields of science, politics, economy and more. But we still have to go and choose the toys from boys section, as those are more colourful and adventurous, whereas for girls everything is pink, frilly, princessy to say the least.

Tara Binns books are a breath of fresh air in these monotone world. They encourage girls to try different professions, to dare dream of doing everything else not only being a princess trapped in an ivory tower. Tara Binns books are written by Lisa Rajan and Eerika Omiyale. Lovely Lisa sent all three of them for a review. They were very welcome as I myself have two girls and anything that empowers them is a big plus. Author Lisa Rajan puts it quite eloquently: “. I wrote the Tara Binns books because I am trying to raise girls’ aspirations, build confidence and counter some of the gender stereotyping in children’s picture books”. These lines alone made me interested in books. We were really happy to receive them and my six year old daughter took them and read them before me. She said that she absolutely loved them, that they are easy to read and gives her wings of hope to dream her future ahead. Nowadays when she has her friends over for a play-date she makes them read the book, or they read together and act it out. This is such a bliss to watch girls getting inspired to be a scientist, an engineer, a pilot, a doctor or more.

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First Tara Binns book is “Tara Binns Eagle Eyed Pilot”. The book itself is very colourful. The character Tara Binns is very friendly looking and girls see themselves in her easily. The whole book is written in rhymes which makes it even easier for them to read and remember. We as parents loved reading it out to our children too. Tara Binns goes to the attic to the old chest and it magically puts her in a costume she would not normally choose. From there she embarks on an interesting adventure journey. This time she is a pilot. She learns how to fly a plane, how to avoid lightening and a spot of geography. On the way she sees an island being destroyed because of the heavy rain and wind. When they finally land the plane she finds a treasure. She decides to give the treasure away to people with destroyed houses. This alone teaches kids to be compassionate, brave and still enjoy life.

The second book is “Tara Binns Double Choc Doc”. Here Tara Binns gets dressed as a doctor and embarks on a journey of being a doctor and trying to find a cure to common cold. After a lot of thinking and analysing she comes to solution. Nobody on North Pole gets cold, as the cold bacteria won’t survive there. So she decides to give ice-creams to everybody who has cold would help the situation. Everybody is happy including Tara Binns, as she came up with the solution. This encourages kids to think outside the box and use the information and knowledge they have to solve everyday problems.

The last books is ” Tara Binns Crash Test Genius”. In this one Tara Binns gets dressed in a blue overall and she is an engineer. She tests the brakes and tyres of family cars and analyses them with help of computers. One day going to work she falls down and grazes her knee badly. Then she thinks that she needs to come up with something that would protect her from falling, as the air bag in a car would protect the driver. She designs the pants, matching top and gloves that would inflate while falling. Everybody loves her idea and they go on a massive production. While testing out her new invention she discovers it can even be used as jet packs. So here she is from just an engineer, she becomes and inventor. This book was my daughter’s favourite. As she now wants to pay attention to every little detail and come up with a solution.

All in all these are must reads for kids be it for boys or girls. As they would educate kids that both genders can have any profession they like in the future and it is not restricted to one gender or another. I would totally recommend Tara Binns books and if you have birthdays looming they make a great gift. The recipient’s family would thank you for a gift with thought.

We are now running a competition to win all three of these fantastic Tara Binns books. Grab your chance enter the competition and win all three of them. Hurry competition ends on 30th of May 2016.

To enter the competition email us Greenwich@mumsnetlocal.com or comment here to the following question:
Who wrote Tara Binns books?

Usual Terms and conditions apply.

 

We have been kindly offered review tickets to “Hetty Feather” at the Orchard Theatre, Dartford. My six year old daughter could hardly sleep since she heard it. And finally the day came.

We drove to Orchard theatre and parked in front of it. There is plenty of parking space and the theatre has disabled and buggy access. The toilets are clean and there are baby changing facilities. The Theatre offers food and beverage too. There is a designated area where you can leave the buggies before the show and special wheelchair seats.

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We went to our seats and waited for the show to begin. Little we knew that we would be entertained by two lovely musicians and their funny songs. That was startling and the audience engaged with them right away. That set a great mood for the show and we all knew we were in for a treat. Once the show started, it was a non stop whirlwind of acrobatics, acting, singing, live music, frisson down the spine, sadness, hysterical laughing and awe! One moment we were crying with sadness, the next we were laughing to the jokes. The unexpected twists kept all our attention and we have not realised how 2 hour 20 minutes were gone! You really go through the array of emotions from one second to another, it is a luxurious emotional delight. All of us adults and kids could not take our eyes or ears of the show fearful of missing another subtle turn, which the show was full of. The ambience was charged with the unexpected and Phoebe Thomas made such energetic Hetty Feather .

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From the moment story began you feel a deep sorrow, as her mother is forced to abandon Hetty. Than you get to enjoy a clever and imaginative girl growing up in a foster family until she has to go back to Foundling hospital. Where she dislikes the brutality and the strictness, yet gets to preserve her wittiness and memories. Showing the girls that a strength of character will lead and light their life paths. When Hetty sneaked into the circus the audience gasped as the tricks and props were breath taking. The circus horses were hilarious to say the least. When Hetty decides to run away from the Foundling hospital she faces the brutality of street life. This is another life lesson for children that it is not safe out there and they need to be careful cautiously prudent. But it all ends well with a heart-warming turn of events and finding her own mother.

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We really had an unforgettable time with our six year old daughter. She was lost for words and was full of emotions. The show delivered on her expectations avec grandeur! We recommend to go and enjoy this luxuriously emotional and brilliant in all ways West-End show while it is here in the neighbourhood.

The Olivier Award nominated Rose Theatre Kingston production of Jacqueline Wilson’s Hetty Feather is visiting The Orchard Theatre, Dartford from Wednesday 23 – Sunday 27 March.

Go ahead and enjoy the show with your family or without, it will be part of your happy memories to remember in years to come!

Like many of fellow mums, I have searched high and low for the common problem of kids kicking off their covers during the night. Night in night out I went to recover my daughter, so that she won’t wake up with a sore throat. I was pleasantly surprised to come along “Tuck n’Snug”. A solution found by a fellow mum. I was kindly given a single bed set to review and I couldn’t wait to receive it. The parcel arrived quickly. It was nicely packaged and the first thing jumps on mind that I would be confident to order it as a gift.

We liked the design of embroidered little puppy. The gender neutral colours would suit both girls and boys. As the outline of the puppy is black and the nails on the paws are blue and pink with a little tennis ball next to it. My daughter really liked it and thought I had it embroidered especially for her, as she was asking for a pet.  The same design features on the top corner of the pillowcase.

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Overall the feel of the duvet is really nice and soft. You will be glad to see it is half cotton and half polyester percale. It is not one of those cheep feeling duvet set. The dimension of the single bed set are  duvet cover 135 x 200cm and pillowcase is 50 x 75cm.

There are poppers on the bottom of the duvet, so it is easy to change them. My six year old could do it herself. And she was proud to be able to do it.

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There are around 1 metre of the bit that comes out of the sides of the duvet and the pillowcase, so you can tuck it under your child’s bed. My daughter was really happy to know that now I will need to come and literally tuck her into bed every night. Another reason before bedtime cuddles. As we do not get a chance all the time given that I have a younger toddler. My toddler really likes it too, so every morning she goes to her sister’s special bed to feel the special bedding. I can see how I can bribe her to move from our room into her sister’s room soon.

 

Overall, we really liked the product. It does what it says on the tin. I found her all tucked in the next morning. This gave me a piece of mind and now I do not need to go in every night to check. We would really recommend it and look forward to see more designs and may be personalised service, as this would make an ideal gift.

My daughter was happy having her “Tuck n’Snug” set, so that she wrote her own very first review. Below I only copy and pasted what she has typed in!

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The Tuck n`Snug duvet is ideal for kids. They don`t fall down when you wake up and neither does the pillow. It`s easy to go to the toilet in the night but be careful, if  you lay awake for a long time, you`re going to get a little sweaty. Sizes vary. In the duvets you will feel toasty on a freezing, wintery day. I have tried it out and it is as  wonderful as being in paradise. There is a puppy with a tennis ball on both the pillowcase and the blanket. These are embroidered on. A single duvet would fit perfectly on a Junior bed. The blanket may hang down from your bed. The package will show you how to fit the duvet on to your bed. So,have a go at it!

By S. Age 6

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Just like me – you may have friends who are intolerant to gluten. Every time I invite them I scour the net to find a nice gluten free bake recipe. But so far I myself was not convinced by them.  I thought I would stick to normal flour for all the cakes and bakes I do for my family.

Recently a fellow Editor offered me to try some gluten free ready mixes from “Make it Gluten free“. I was happy to do so, as I was yet to be proven that gluten free baking can taste as good.

I received two mixes:

  1. Chocolate muffin and cake mix
  2. Chocolate brownie mix.

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After reading the ingredients of the boxes my heart was singing. I started making the chocolate muffins. Look at ingredients what mum would not like this simple yet healthy list there without a tongue braking things that one can only imagine what is it. The ingredients were only – almonds, organic coconut sugar, arrowroot powder, cocoa, organic coconut flour, baking soda, sea salt. This is what makes me happy and I am confident I can give these to my kids. The only things I needed to add was eggs, oil, and a vanilla. I mixed them and put in the muffin cases. I had beautifully baked moist muffins in half an hour. This is a perfect mix to have in your cupboard when you need to rustle up something quickly. We loved them, my kids had seconds, thirds – that’s how good they were.

The next opportunity I had to be a domestic goddess, I cooked the brownies. I had put out the butter to soften in room temperature. Added some eggs and folded it with the brownie mix, including chocolate chips and hazelnuts.  Again in half an hour I had beautifully cooked moist brownies. As this is a generous portion I will be wrapping them and freezing so that we have some yummy treats in our freezer. The freezing advice was given by “Make it Gluten Free” and I think it is quite good helping us from overindulging in this delicious bakes. I really like the fact that they are not packed with chemicals, are quite generous so you have enough for family and friends or even freeze them. All the mixes come with a thorough instruction on the back of the boxes with variations you can choose to go for. There are further adjustments you can make to the mixes, adding or replacing some of the suggested ingredients on their website.

Go ahead and try “Make it Gluten free” mixes, you would not regret it! Your family and friends would thank you. Asking for recipes 🙂 You can find them here 2016-01-31

My colleague is running a competition for you to win several mixes of these delicous bakes. You can enter it here. It is a perfect opportunity for you to win them and introduce your family to “Make it Gluten free” mixes. I am hooked!

Yes! It is now official! You can turn time back without a time machine! My wish finally came true. I was given a pair of review tickets to KidZania adults evening. A chance to be a child again YOURSELF, who would say no?

Ok, enough of caps, but I was so excited to go and review KidZania myself, as I really loved it when I went with my child. But as one of the rules is that adults are not allowed you wish you would be having fun too. Finally, KidZania heard us and gave  us an opportunity to unleash our inner child. I was looking forward to this event, since I heard of it and it was so worth it! Off we went to KidZania with my friend. It was her first time as an adult there too. We were welcomed and went through airport security to KidZania. 20151217_190810_resized (2)A big British Airways plane makes you realise that you are stepping indeed to another country from this airport. We were also welcomed by Christmas Carols and of course we had a go at “Let it go”.  We left our coats and bags at the check in desks, we are glad KidZania listened to our previous comments and it was £1 an item to leave. So we were light and ready to explore. We were also handed the map and Kidzos (KidZania money to start us off).

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Whole of KidZania is decorated with Christmas lights, trees and gives it a really nice festive vibe. The stuff are young and energetic. When we entered they were dancing and it is difficult not to join in of course. First activity we tried was hairdressers, we made some nice hairstyles and got our first salary there. Then we went to the Art Academy and painted some pictures ourselves. Not being disturbed by a little one and not getting any paint on ourselves.  We left our pictures to dry and left for next activity.

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We all had dreams of becoming somebody when we were kids. One of my dreams was to become a doctor. So there I was in KidZania Hospital being a surgeon. We have actually made an organ transplant and it was really exciting. At that moment I realised these type of adult events are quite good for people like me, who dreamt of several professions and this is a perfect opportunity to try it. After performing a successful operation and getting paid for it, we went to try yet another occupation we both wanted to become – a pilot!

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The pilot experience is one of the must try ones in KidZania I would say. The real simulators and clear instructions will et you feel how pilots land the aeroplanes at Heathrow Airport. I am glad to report that we have landed our plane without a crash and taxied it to the right gate. Phew…

After such serious occupations we needed to reward ourselves, so we decided to try ice-cream making workshop with real machinery. It was fun and I see it would encourage kids to ask us adults to make healthier version at home. We also had a go at Innocent smoothie making workshop and got our smoothies as a reward. We also worked at City Clock. We sounded Jingle bells with bells and made sure KidZania knew it was 9p.m. ringing the big clock’s bell nine times.

We enjoyed being paramedics, receiving a training and actually using it in a make-do incident in the city of KidZania.  After that we had a go at being fire fighters. I really liked that they explain to children how to stay safe and not to get burns or how to act in case of an emergency. We also were police and had to find suspicious bags,they were well hidden.  I will make sure my children try to use all of the emergency services in KidZania, as it is learning through play.

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Once we were hungry we had some hot food and drinks, I found the price acceptable and it gave us enough boost to keep playing- yes, playing! We went on to become reporters, we had to question people and write an article at the HQ of KidZania newspaper.It was then printed out and given to us as a memorabilia. Being inspired from this we went and tried to work at a radio. And it was so much fun, you get to hear the latest music, you get to announce it and it was just such a great ambience. After trying all these activities our time has come to end. Four hours were gone very quickly. We will be coming back to try the activities we did not have enough time to try to.

All in all we came out so happy and positively charged. I definately recommend to try KidZania Adults event.

If you ever had dreams as a child, KidZania Adult event is a perfect opportunity to see how it would feel if they came true!