Good Friday was just spectacular! The weather was so good that I completely forgot to write up the Easter events round-up so my apologies but if you are still stuck on ideas for what to do with the family, check out the below.
I’ve been on annual leave for the second half of the Easter holidays and have been taking the kids out (will post on that shortly) but yesterday was a kid-free day for me. I went out with my sister to enjoy a trip to a very special museum and then took a stroll around Leadenhall Market. As it was Good Friday, a lot of the shops were closed but there was a lovely French bakery that was still open and a couple other eateries.
Anyone else missing their weekly trip to the National Maritime Museum? We didn’t visit weekly but I know there are a lot of parents who found the NMM a fantastic place for children especially during the school holidays as well as term time. There were daily activities for all ages and that wonderful Ahoy Gallery for the under 5s.
This summer, post-lockdown, National Maritime museum will be launching two self-led outdoors family trails on Saturday 15 August 2020 which you’ll be able to enjoy for the remainder of August. As their doors are still closed to the public for now (re-opening in Sept!), this is the closest you’ll get to getting involved with NMM, however Cutty Sark and Royal Observatory is now open for visitors, more details on openings here.
It’s my birthday on Saturday so we won’t be taking part on the launch day as we’ve got a birthday party planned for myself and Little Man that afternoon. However, we will be keen to test out the trail next week as part of our weekly outdoor activity.
Outdoor family nature trails (self-led)
The family nature trails were created in collaboration with ‘Cuffs and Collars Co’, a sensory theatre company working with children aged 0-7 years with complex needs. Their work focuses on topics relating to emotional development, mental health and well-being which is something we should take very seriously in children too. The pandemic, the lockdown, the redundancies and job loss have all taken a major toll on us parents but imagine the amount of tension the children must be feeling from us. All that anxiety that manifests in us transfers over to them without us thinking about it.
Before lockdown I was completing my Aromatherapy Associates training on their new range. Forest Therapy was developed to support mental and emotional healing; helping you to reset, recover and rejuvenate. I wasn’t a big fan of it when it first came out but it really helped me to unwind and refocus my energy during lockdown. It was my little bit of the spa world that I could still hold on to at home! 🙂
NMM Nature Trail #1 – Bird Trail
The Hide & Seek Bird Trail is a simple ‘spotters’ trail. Families can use the trail sheet to help them find 8 birds in the grounds which connects to Greenwich Park. At each stop, you will be challenged to complete a small task or two ie. can you soar like a seagull? Can you stand on one leg like a flamingo? Good kids yoga pose moment right there!
NMM Nature Trail #2 – Sailer School
The Sailor School Trail has eight stops and challenges you to try different activities linked to the maritime world and the collection to become a graduate of sailor school. Each stop has a number of different/separate activities, allowing families to choose an activity suited to their child’s ability. Each location within the Sailor School trail has different activity options for more ways of having fun with the trail.
Both trails are suitable for all ages and abilities
The trails have been developed for families with complex needs in mind and allow families to complete them in any order and to drop in and out as they please. They do not have to do everything on the trail. The grounds of the trail have gravelled paths making it suitable for buggies and wheelchairs and there’s level access routes for those who have accessibility needs.
The trail sheets are available for download from the National Maritime website or alternatively, you can pick up a printed trail sheet at the Museum – simply ask one of the NMM staff on standby outside the museum.
The National Maritime Museum holds the world’s largest maritime collection, housed in historic buildings forming part of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site. The museum is part of Royal Museums Greenwich which also incorporates the Royal Observatory Greenwich, the 17th-century Queen’s House and Cutty Sark. Royal Museums Greenwich works to illustrate for everyone the importance of the sea, ships, time and the stars and their relationship with people. This unique collection of museums and heritage buildings, which form a key part of the Maritime Greenwich UNESCO World Heritage Site, welcomes over two and a half million British and international visitors a year and is also a major centre of education and research.
The Greenwich Wintertime Festival – December 1st-31st 2017
With Christmas around the corner, there’s a host of winter markets, wonderlands and festivals for you to visit this December. This year, people can go to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, Winterville in Clapham and even Portobello market are doing a mini festival called the Portobello Winter Festival. Luckily for us Greenwich locals, we get to have our own winter festival right on our doorstep!
The Greenwich Wintertime Festival is located on the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College – just a stone throw away from the infamous Greenwich market. You can enjoy the wonderful surroundings of historical Greenwich whilst exploring the festival and other parts of the town. We were invited to head down last Sunday and boy did we have a good time! Ticket prices start from £15 for adults (£20 includes the ice-skating session) and from £8 for children.
Here’s what we got up to…
Arrival: First Impressions
We were booked for the Sunday afternoon slot and had arrived just a little after our session had started. I ended up leaving Baby Girl at home as she was sleeping… she was still asleep when we got home so she must’ve been tired! Checking in was pretty easy and there were no queues. One of the staff members on hand even volunteered to take our photo for us and of course we accepted without hesitation! It’s always nice to get someone to take a photo of us, we’re so used to selfies.
When we got our wristbands and went through, we were surprised at how big the venue was. I never realised how big the grounds of the Old Naval College was until walking around the place We had a sneak peak of the ice rink and decided that we would go their at the end of our visit. We had a little wander around then found some elves who were lining up children (and parents) to see Santa!
Time to see Santa!
A little selfie with Santa
Goody bag post-visit
Fascinated with the fairy lights
The Santa Experience
The elves ushered us along a tree-lined path which was lit up with fairy lights and larger colourful lights lit the floor of the pathway. As it was still light, we couldn’t see the full effect of the colours but I can imagine, the pathway would’ve looked beautiful as the sky got darker. We ended up in a room that was actually Santa’s secret launch pad! We had an interactive experience with the big man himself who came out to take a selfie with all the children at the end of the experience. All children were given goody gifts upon leaving the pad which was a nice touch to the experience. Inside our goody bag was a pop-out Wintertime Fest Christmas tree, an electronic light-up spiky ball, and a Christmas cookie shortbread.
The Shopping (well, lack of for me!)
Without a doubt, there will always be a winter market ready for you to splash some of your cash. Unfortunately for me, this week hasn’t been a good one financially so I wasn’t able to grab any gifts at the festival but there was loads of things I was eyeing up. Like the wonderful filled gift boxes at RockBox – all of the boxes are amazing but my personal fave is their resolutions box. 🙂 LO was really drawn to the dinosaur purses at The Lion Sparkles. It was really sparkly and the dinosaur shapes were very good! My personal fave from them was their black ROAR tote bag which I cannot find on their website. is now available on their website!! Check it out guys, it’s only £9.50 – a bargain!
Mmmm… these cinnamon sugar-dusted churros were divine… and that melted chocolate dip was heavenly!
Food vans.. the Pulled van serves an amazing pulled pork brioche burger!
More food vans and stalls… I highly recommend the Churros van!
There was only one row of food vans so there wasn’t an overwhelming choice of food to eat. In my opinion, it was all a little pricey but then again, it’s about the same kind of price you’d pay at most winter wonderland/market events. The good thing was everyone’s pricing was near enough the same as each other. £7 would get you a burger or taco or burrito and £3-4 would buy you a decent portion of chips. Sweet things like dessert waffles were £6 and churros were £5 for a regular cup and £7 for a large cup, complete with chocolate dipping sauce which tasted like melted chocolate – divine!
I highly recommend the cinnamon churros at Love Churros and ‘The Porker’ burger at Pulled. If you’re not a pork fan or meat, the taco van had some amazing tacos and burritos. There was also a seafood burger van serving soft-shell crab burgers which sounded amazing but the pulled pork was calling me… Super yums! We sat down in the seating area of the heated covered tent (where the silent disco takes place) to eat our burger and chips. We didn’t feel cold at all, the outdoor heaters they had were really good and everyone around us looked like they were having a good time.
Whilst tucking into our delicious churros, we headed over to the entertainment tent and sat down to hear We Are Trackless perform some wonderful Christmas carols and songs. Then there was a beat-boxing performance which involved the audience taking part. It was really good and was nice to see people joining in too. The performances here vary from day to day so make sure you check out what’s in store on the day. We were quite happy to just sit down and watch it all. If you’re heading down here on December 9th or 17th (both Sundays), there will be a special screening of the iconic Christmas film, The Snowman which will include a live brass band to accompany the film music.
The ice rink when we arrived was almost empty!
The spectacular ice skating performance
LO enjoying being pushed on the seal aid
Caught in action!
The Ice Skating Rink
We left this one to the end which was like the icing on the cake for us. Before our skate session, there was a spectacular performance by the ice rink team who are actually freestyle dancers. After the performance ended, they opened the rink for the public. It has been years since I last put on a pair of skates but damn did it feel good to get back on the ice! I had a bit of the wobbles on the ice but holding onto LO’s seal aid helped. 🙂 Best of all, LO absolutely loved it! He had told me before he didn’t like the ice so for him to get on and skate with me was amazing even though I pushed him for 90% of our ice skating time.
The ice skating session is only 30 mins long which was enough for us. I also think we were allowed to skate for much longer. The rink is a decent size for both experienced skaters and complete first-timers. It was definitely big enough for us to enjoy without feeling intimidated. If you’re heading onto the ice, opt for the earlier sessions as it’s less busy then and would be a nicer experience for the children or people who aren’t that confident on the ice. Don’t forget to pick a seal aid if you need a bit of help skating.
The whole rink has a large viewing/standing area for people who are not going on the ice and there’s a small bar serving hot, cold and alcoholic beverages to keep you going. Once we were ready to leave the ice, it was approaching 5:30pm so we fufilled our three-hour time slot which seemed to have gone by really quickly. I asked LO if he would like to skate again and he said yes with a genuine smile on his face which really made my day and the burst blister on my right bony foot all worthwhile. 🙂
Our verdict… we loved it! I’d recommend the Greenwich Wintertime Festival to anyone who’s looking for a smaller venue but has all the features of a larger event. This place is fantastic for families with younger children, or for people who prefer something quieter and less chaotic than the giant venues like Winter Wonderland. The festival was busy and bustling but not enough to feel over-crowded which was perfect for us!
I just came across this video from Videoblogg showing you around the festival – you can watch it here(opens a new window)
I’ve read a lot of bad reviews about the Wintertime Festival and had a couple of comments on this post about the high prices (it is quite pricey!) and lack of things to see/do so I just wanted to highlight the pros & cons of the festival for those who plan on going so you can make up your own mind…
It’s a small and intimate winter festival on the Old Royal Naval College grounds (lovely surroundings) – there’s no loud music or massive crowds
It’s in the heart of Greenwich so you can also enjoy other things nearby ie. the old market, Greenwich Park, Cutty Sark and the National Maritime Museum. If you have time, the Mudchute animal farm is only a 30mins walk via the foot tunnel (or take the DLR)
Pre-book the package that includes the ice skating for the best deal
It’s different from your standard winter festivals – the stalls sell curated, British-made goods from small (some are London-based), independent businesses, artists and designers – a great way of supporting independent British businesses!
The entertainment was good and varies throughout the day – there’s also a silent disco for those who want to boogie
There’s outdoor heaters in the eating areas which was nice but you still need to dress up warm especially if you’re out late
Wintertime Fest is a contemporary event; alternative festivals are not everyone’s bag of tea so keep this in mind
The entry fee is a lot of money if you are expecting a lot more for your money. I’d suggest pre-booking the ice-skating package (£20 per adult) to get the best deal. For me, the skating was the highlight of our day at the festival and I’d happily pay the price to skate on the beautiful grounds again
It’s a small festival, so there’s limited food and drink options (which are quite pricey). The gift stalls are independent small businesses so you won’t find the usual continental goods sold at winter festivals ie. gingerbread cookies, German sausages, cheeses, mass-produced toys
There are no rides for very young children (under 4yrs) so there’s not much to do apart from ice-skating so this festival wouldn’t really be a good choice for new parents or those with toddlers. You might enjoy the carousel by the Cutty Sark and National Maritime museum more
No ATMs on site so make sure you take out cash before entering or be prepared to pay for everything via card. There’s no re-entry once you’ve gone in
The Santa experience is NOT a Santa’s Grotto one-on-one experience – we enjoyed the Santa experience but was disappointed that there was no one-to-one photo opportunity with Santa
I hope this updated section helps and I am really sorry for those who have been and didn’t enjoy the festival as we really liked it and not because we were gifted the tickets but because we enjoyed the calmer and quieter atmosphere, the churros and definitely the ice skating.
[#ad] We received a complimentary family ticket to attend the Greenwich Wintertime Festival. All words, opinions and photos are my own and this unbiased review is a true representation of our experience.
Last week marked the opening of a new exhibition at The Fan Museum in Greenwich. Nestled along a row of Georgian homes on Crooms Hill, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was just another pretty house from looking at the building’s exterior. The museum has been open since 1991 and is only a short walk away from historical Greenwich.
Inside, you’ll discover an immaculate garden, a stunning orangery which is open for afternoon tea and a museum home to thousands of fans originating from all over the world. Due to lack of space, only a handful of collections are on show at one time. The latest exhibition, Street Fans is currently on display until December 31st 2017. It features the work of 29 street artists, 1 fan maker and just over 50 fans celebrating the diverse creativity of contemporary art and the traditional craft of fan-making.
Each fan has been uniquely designed by the street artists and crafted by fan maker, Sylvain Le Guen. The artists were presented with several mediums to play with which included spray paint, acrylic, pen markers and even mixed media.
“Curvilinear tangles; precise geometric compositions; typographic scribblings evoking ancient hieroglyphics; demonic felines; buildings spinning violently around a vortex – the pleasure each artist took in creating their designs is palpable.” – The Fan Museum
All of the fans were crafted to respect the artist’s design. I have a few favourites but the one currently at the top of my list has to be Jordane Saget‘s Arabesque #2. I really love the mesmerising pattern of the fan which is not only beautiful but also has a calligraphy-like quality to it. The fan itself looks simple yet elegant, minimal yet intricate – it’s that kind of juxtaposition that I love.
Fan-making is a traditional craft that has existed for centuries however it’s becoming a craft that’s been forgotten. As the world moves into a more digital way of living, traditional craft skills such as piano, parchment and fan making are dying out and even Prince Charles himself said more needs to be done to preserve them for future generations. The Telegraph quoted Prince Charles; “traditional crafts are as much a part of our shared heritage as our wonderful historic landscapes, beautiful buildings, rare breeds of native farm animals and varied museum collections.” It’s good to hear that the Prince is also passionate about the survival of such crafts in the UK.
Some of the biggest names have worked on this project including the likes of Pure Evil, Lily Mixe, Annatomix, Sr. X, RUN, Louis Masai and many more. There’s a favourite fan for everyone – whether you’re into geometrics, pop art, optical illusions, graffiti or fine art. As long as you love art you will admire this creative collection.
What will happen to the fans after the exhibition?
The museum’s curator, Jacob Moss explains that there needed to be something more than just a financial incentive in order to get the artists to partner up on this project. So after December 31st, these stunning fans will be returning to their rightful owners, the artists. Jacob mentioned that he will try to acquire a few select pieces for the museum’s own collection but did not reveal which ones they’d be.
Once you’re done exploring the Street Fans exhibition, you can also take a look at the rest of the museum and the other fan collections including other contemporary ones and more older, traditional ones. The Fan museum is family friendly; there’s a children’s activity trail for the kids to get involved in discovering the fan collections and a small gift shop to make your visit a memorable one. The Fan Museum is closed on Mondays but open Tuesdays – Sundays.
Got a burning question for Europe’s leading fan maker, Sylvain Le Guen? Head down to Lewisham Southwark College on October 10th at 5:30pm for a special Q&A with Sylvain and The Fan Museum’s curator, Jacob Moss.
I was invited to a blogger’s launch by The Fan Museum to review the Street Fans exhibition in exchange for this blog post. All words, photos and opinions are my own. Photos that are owned by The Fan Museum have been credited respectively.