Monday outing #1: National Portrait Gallery

This week we went to our local under 5s singing group for a first time in a while, now that I have Mondays with the little Man. Lots of songs on a theme with bubbles, a parachute and egg shakers. LM was a little shy as we hadn’t been since before he could walk so he stayed close to me and inched closer throughout the hour little by little. He was mostly interested in watching everyone else – except for when the bubbles came out, which are a favourite.

After a good nap (for him, I cleaned) we headed into town to meet a friend at the National Portrait Gallery. We left the buggy down in the cloakroom (and played with the keys in the lockers for about 10mins) before heading down to the cafe. The cafe in the basement isn’t particularly child friendly as there only seems to be one high chair and all the tables are tightly packed together, so after a quick cuppa we headed up into the galleries.

  
 LM was particularly taken with the busts and carved statues, whom he tried to engage in babbled conversation and much arm waving. We had a good game of ‘find the nose’ (there are of course plenty to be found in the NPG) and he was happy to wander in and out of the rooms and was pretty good at not trying to touch the picture frames that were within his reach. We did get a few strange looks – and it was noticeable that he was the only child under 18 that we came across (!) – but the galleries are good open spaces and he enjoyed trying to sit up on the chairs too. 

They do have family events during half terms but they are aimed at 3+, so not quite for us yet. 

NPG website 

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Half term fun 

I took a few days off this week to make the most of the half term fun around London. There are lots of great family activities at the museums and galleries over half term and its also the Imagine Children’s Festival at the Southbank Centre in Feb, which has a whole range of performances and activities for almost two weeks aimed at families and children.

  
On Monday we went to a Messy Mondays under 5s session at the National Gallery. I went to a session there before our little man could walk (about 10 months ago) but hadn’t had the chance to go again recently. Last time there was a focus on sensory – lots of fabrics and  shredded paper – based around one of the paintings in the collection. This time it was a messey session (coincidently also based on the same painting!) with sponge printing, drawing, musical instruments, dressing up and also a wonderfully messy volcano eruption make, with plastic bottles, clay, baking soda and vinegar! We were left to our own devices a little, but LM was happy to wander around (mostly in the corridor outside the activities!) and seeing what everyone else was up to. He spotted a toy train that stuck with us for the duration and got suitably covered in both clay and paint (as did I!) 

  
I wanted to go to something at the Imagine festival at Southbank too, so I took a day off and we went to a great interactive performance by Mrs H and the sing along band – who were alsolutly fantastic! The music was fun and good to clap and dance along too. There were actions and bits to join in with and puppets and props linked to the songs. It was great! 

You have to be on top form to venture to Southbank when the Imagine festival is on though! There are soo many families, children and buggies but the atmosphere is great! We only stayed for an hour or so and had our packed lunch in one of the ‘story boats’ before heading home on the train. 

Mrs H and the sing along band website

Weekend adventure #2: Cutty Sark (and BSL storytelling)

This weekend we headed down to Cutty Sark, the clipper ship in Greenwich. It’s a great place for little ones. Firstly, it’s a SHIP! Which in itself is awesome and the main deck in particular in great. The ship is beautiful and great views from the main deck. There are cabins to climb in, bits of clothing to try on and mops to clean the deck. Inside the ship there are lots of interactives for under 5s (like a toy ship with little wooden sailors) and lots of things to smell and touch! 

  
Underneath the ship there is an amazing space created as a result of the ship being raised up. Little man was very happy to run up and down and to watch the fish swimming past on the screens that run along the length of the dry dock. The cafe does a lovely tea loaf and sandwiches and the baby facilities are good too. There are lifts that take you to each floor of the ship (one lift is actually inside the ship, in one of the old cargo shafts) so it’s actually quite easy to get the buggy around, if you don’t want to leave it in the buggy park (which we did).

They do lots of family events during halfterms and on the first weekend of the month and they have a weekly session for under 5s too. Today, they had a special BSL family day with storytelling, a captain character and a craft activity underneath the ship too. Our LM isn’t really old enough to sit and make stuff yet (or doesn’t have the patience at any rate) but he was transfixed by the BSL storytelling (about how the ship got its name) and loved running along the main deck of the ship.

We will definitely be heading back to the ship again!

Cutty Sark website

Weekend adventure #1: Natural History Museum

We are quite bad, my partner and I, at having very lazy weekends with the Little Man at home and then feeling guilty that we didn’t do a lot!  So we are aiming to get out and about a bit more and venture a little further afield than our local playground  (though it does have a good sand pit! 😀)

One of the best things about living in London are the amazing museums – many of which are free and have lots of running around space. Our LM loves dinosaurs at the moment and we thought it was about time that we went to see ‘Dippy’ at the Natural History Museum so we ventured over to South Kensington this weekend. 

  
Having not been to the museum for years I wasn’t expecting to que for 40 mins to get in the building – and unfortunately it was raining and the LM was sleepy and therefore a bit grumpy – but once in, he cheered up at the sight of all the animals. The building itself is of course amazing on its own and forgiving the odd lift and baby change out of order, it really is a good place for families – though you have to be willing to fight your way through the swarms of people! (Not sure I could face it during half term.)

We just did a few of the galleries (birds and mammals went down very well) and we went on a hunt for all the different animals that ‘roar’. A lot of the interactives in the side galleries we went into were a little outdated (and not particularly great for under 5s) but the mammal gallery, with the variety of animals, was great and LM who was very happy pointing out all the animals he knew. 

  
 The indoor picnic area is great if you are aiming for a low budget outing too and of course the dinosaur in the main hall really is a star attraction. LM had his dinosaur toy and went running up to Dippy giving a giant ‘roar’! Unfortunately we didn’t manage to get tickets to the family storytelling but I think it would have been too much of a long day for him – he fell asleep as soon as we left to go home! 

The main dino gallery is closed at the moment but we will be heading back to see them when it’s open again. Hopefully on a day it’s not raining  đŸ˜€