Mind The Gap – Travelling on the tube with children

Travelling on the underground in London can be daunting for any adult who has never done it before. It can also be very stressful, especially during the busy rush hour, but it needn’t be if you prepare your self.

Living on the outskirts of London means that we travel into London a lot of times. Sometimes we go after school during the week to get to auditions and other times we travel on a weekend just for a day out. We are so used to travelling during the rush hour that it just seems natural to us. There are some stations and routes that we will avoid at the busy times, which may mean walking through the streets to get to the next station  but they are never that far away from each other.

Travelling with a baby or young children across London can be every adults nightmare, It can also be very challenging but it is definitely possible and enjoyable.

Here are some of our tips on travelling with children on the underground

  • Grab your self and Oyster card or if you can use your phone or bank card if cantactless is set up on it.

-Children under 11 travel free on the tube, overground, DLR , TFL rail and buses if they have a 5-10 Zip or travelling with an adult (under 5 travel free)

-Children aged 11-15 can travel with a Zip oyster photocard. They travel for free on buses and trams and get a reduced rate on all other TFL service

-If you’re visiting London and travelling with children aged 11-15 who haven’t got a Zip Oyster photo card, you can still benefit from reduced rate travel for them. You can get a discount set on an Oyster or Visitor Oyster card that will allow them to pay as you go at half adult-rate for up to 14 days.

Apply for these cards online prior to visiting

  • Remember always to tap in and out at the stations on the yellow card reader with your card. If you manage to walk through a barrier without tapping out after your journey, you will be charged the maximum fare
  • Plan your route. Take a look at the underground map online or download an app. We find the app to be very useful, not only does it tell you if there are any delays on any of the routes but it also plans your route for you and tells you how long each journey will be.
  • Grab a map at the station and give to your child to look at and study. When on the train tell them your destination and see if they can work out the route.
  • Try to avoid travelling during rush hour. With commuters moving around the city, expect the trains and stations to be overcrowded between 07:30 and09:30 in the morning and between 17:00 and 19:00 in the evening. This said, I have also found some stations on particular routes in zone 1 to start getting busy at 4.30.
  • When travelling with babies, try taking a light fold away buggy/stroller or use a sling. It will make your trip a lot more easier
  • Be prepared to walk up lots of stairs. There are also lots of escalators to use.
  • When using the escalator stand on the right as people walk up on them on the left. Keep young children in front of you.
  • Take a look on the map for step free access stations. Sometimes its easier to travel to your destination by using the nearest step free station and walking the rest
  • If you are travelling with more than one child, tell them that as soon as you get off of the train and on to the platform to wait against the wall. Platforms can become extremely busy. You don’t want to be dragged along with the crowd not knowing what direction you actually want to go. We always wait against the wall and then look for the way out sign or where to go for the next line.
  • I know it’s scary but I have always told my children that IF they ever get left on the train to get off at the next station and wait on the platform against the wall for me to get them. I also tell them that if they get off of the train without me to wait on that platform and I will come back for them. This has never happened to us, but the trains do get very busy and sometimes a small child could become disoriented within a crowd of people.
  • Tell your children to always wait behind the yellow line until the train has stopped.
  • If there are two adults when travelling, always have one at the front and one at the back when walking through the stations and even through London streets. Think of a sandwich, keeping the children in the middle. I travel with my three children, who are now 15, 10 and 6. It is always me first and my eldest last.
  • Walk around London from one station to the next, instead of going by tube. For example; although travelling from Oxford Circus to Piccardilly Circus can take a few minutes on the train, it does only take 11 minutes by foot. Think of all those lovely shops and building that you will see.
  • Carry water with you. The trains can become stuffy and hot, especially in the summer. Also have a snack in your bag.
  • If you are going to be on the train for a while, play some games with them to keep them occupied. We like to play the station alphabet game or I-Spy
  • When standing on the platform waiting for the train to approach, wave to the driver. they always wave back and the children love it.
  • Use the wider ticket barriers, they will have much more room for the family to get through. They are marked with a blue wheelchair symbol and normally have an attendant close by.

Remember where ever you go in London; on bus, tram, tube or river boat to enjoy your self. Have a great trip and Mind the Gap!

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Bungee Jump Experience – The Ultimate Rush for a Teenager

Bungee Jump – The ultimate energy rush, the perfect gift for any daredevil and thrill seeker.

My eldest son is 15 and buying gifts for him is becoming harder every year, although he is very easily pleased and doesn’t really ask for much. I wouldn’t say that he is a daredevil but he certainly likes to experience the wild side.

Leaping 160 ft from a crane, watching the ground rush towards you at a speed of 60mph, attached to nothing but a bungee cord, isn’t really something that I would fancy doing but for a young teenager it’s certainly a very attractive activity. There are no special skills needed, just courage.

I booked him onto a 160ft jump from a crane that is set up near to the 02, London. This isn’t far for us to travel to and is an ideal spot for some lunch after or just a stroll along the River Thames.

We arrived in good time for him to be fully briefed by one of the experienced instructors, before being kitted up and securely fastened into the bungee cord.

He sat in line and watched the previous jumpers leap to the floor. Getting more nervous as he moved along the chairs, getting closer to his turn.

It was a lovely day, the sun was shining and it was a clear blue sky, perfect for us to watch and for him to jump in.

It wasn’t long and it was his turn.

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He was taken up to the top of the crane in cage and once at the top it was seconds before the cage door opened and out he fell, plummeting to the ground only to bounce back up again, dangling by his feet. I half expected to hear him scream, but he was very reserved and held it all back, Or maybe the force of the air in his mouth stopped him from making a sound.

Once he was lowered to the ground he was taken by the shoulders and guided to a mat on the floor where he was taken out of his cord by two instructors.

 

Jak says: “I was pretty nervous, even though I knew that nothing could happen to me I was still anxious about the experience and what to expect. The view from the cage at the top of the crane was amazing, but I didn’t get to look at it for long as I was soon guided over to the edge. I was told to stand still and put my arms directly out in front of me at 90 degree angle. They counted down from 3 and gently pushed me from the edge. I was told not grab anything as I fell from the edge of the cage. As I fell to the floor, it felt like  I was staying still and the ground was moving up towards me, however the feeling of falling was still there. I think the best part of the jump was seeing the 02 upside down. I almost felt like my heart had stopped until the moment I was pulled back up by the cord. It was an experience not to forget. I had a blast and almost wished that it had lasted longer.”

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It was the perfect gift for him and I was so proud that he approached the experience with such maturity and gallant.

Jak gives the day a big thumbs up

I booked the bungee jump through Buyagift costing £59, the minimum age of the jumper is 14.

Photos courtesy of Bungee UK

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Win A Family Ticket to Brainiac Live! London

The show that laughs in the face of SCIENCE

Brainiac Live! London

Strap on your safety goggles boys and girls, due to popular demand Science’s greatest and most volatile live show is returning with a vengeance.

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Based on the multi-award winning TV show, Brainiac Live! is back in London. More mischievous than ever before Brainiac Live! will take you on a breathless ride through the wild world of the weird and wonderful science. Expect exploding dustbins, combusting microwaves and loads of live daredevil stunts!

Watch from the safety of your seat as the Brainiacs delve fearlessly into the mysteries of science and do all of those things on stage that you’re too scared to do at home! There will be sparks flying and lots of loud bangs.

“It’s all good, educational fun.” The Guardian

Watch explosive footage at www.brainiaclive.com

Tickets are available to buy online at Udderbelly

Length: 60 mins

Age Recommendation: 6+

16 Performances only, May half-term from 28th May – 5th June Showings 1pm and 3:30pm

For a chance to win a family ticket to a performance in London then enter below on the rafflecopter widget.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

T&C

One winner will be picked at random from rafflecopter

Entrants must be able to attend the showing in London during May Half term

There is no cash alternative

 

Good Luck!

 

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Geocaching in London with the children

Geocaching is a real life outdoor treasure hunt. A hunt that you need to use GPS to track down a geocache (container), following specific coordinates to find the cache hidden in a location. A geocache is a container that will contain a log book and sometimes little trinkets for you to swap with, if you take one you must replace it with something else. Geocaches are located all over the world, hidden in locations that are of interest or beauty. Locations are quite diverse, they could be under water, in a city centre or in the middle of a field.

We have found caches on street signs, in church grounds, under park benches and even abroad whilst we was in holiday to Malta.

Using an app that I have downloaded to my phone, we search for caches that are local to where we are. The only rules are to replace the cache back to where you found it and to have enjoy and have fun.

Living so close to London, made me think of having an adventure with the children. Searching for geocaches and looking at the sights that the Big City has to offer. I did a little research the night before, looking for an area that contains a few caches to find. Along the Thames looked like a good spot. I didn’t want to walk too far between caches as I didn’t want the children to tire too quickly and I wanted to keep them entertained as much as possible.

We made our way to Embankment station, which only took us 40 minutes by tube. We had packed some food and drink in a bag, made sure that my phone had a full battery and we was ready for our little London treasure hunt.

The children were excited and couldn’t wait to find the first cache. It was located very close to the station but as we neared the spot we noticed a homeless person sleeping, We decided to halt our search and waked away, we didn’t want to disturb them in any way.

Victoria gardens runs along side the Thames in between Embankment and Temple station. It’s a lovely place to escape the hustle and bustle, beautiful flower beds and statues to look at. The eldest boys brought along their scooters, so the children enjoyed scooting around whilst us adults topped up on some caffeine intake from the nearest coffee shop. We knew that there were a couple of table tennis tables spotted in the gardens so we had gone prepared and had packed our paddles for a game.

Scooting around
Scooting around

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After a short break we made our way to the second Geocache which was located near Temple station, just a short walk away. We walked through the gardens and along the Thames and was soon with GPS mobile device in hand searching for our find. Lots of people were around looking at us but we didn’t care. Along with the details to follow, there was also a hint which was to un-scramble some letters to form a word. It wasn’t long before we had found what we was looking for, all we had to do was hunt down the cache. The children had a feel around and soon found it inside the sand bin.

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With one geocache logged the children couldn’t wait to find the next one. We headed on over Waterloo Bridge towards the Southbank.

Here we found the next one. We had to climb a few steps to get to this one.

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The children were excited now and couldn’t wait to find more. The eldest boys wanted to visit the Southbank Skatepark, so we made our way to it to have a look about and watch some other skaters do some jumps. It was a pretty cool place with lots of street art to look at and it was under cover, which was ideal as the weather had taken a turn and the hail stones began to come down. _20160330_141350

As the sun was beginning to fight through the fast-moving clouds we headed on down the Southbank towards the London Eye. This was where we found our next find

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Knowing that the cache is magnetic helps you know where to look.

The hidden cache
The hidden cache

It was time for a quick spot of lunch. The children enjoyed a play in the park and the eldest watched a magic show that a street performer was doing along the Southbank.

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We had heard about a street that was near by to Jubilee Gardens where there was lots of street art and wall graffiti. After we had refueled with food and drink we headed on over. It wasn’t far. We knew we was in the right spot as we could smell the fumes from the spray cans before we could see the graffiti. There were a few artists in there, adding their tags and art to the walls. It wasn’t quite a street as such, but a tunnel that went beneath the tracks of Waterloo station.

I'm so cool
I’m so cool
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On the ceiling of the tunnel

We had one more cache to find before it was time to head on home.

Passing over the GPS device to the children, they navigated us to the last one. We was all looking up and down the street, but knowing that it was a magnetic cache meant that we had to look for something that was metal.

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Looking behind the street sign, we soon had found our fourth find of the day.

We had a wonderful time in London and found four caches located along the southbank and embankment area. The children felt like real life explorers. But after being on our feet for 5 hours we was all ready to head on home. It was an eventful day and we can not wait to add some more logs to our Geocache account

Do you enjoy geocaching? Where have you found your treasures?

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Rave-A-Roo The new clubbing mash-up at Ministry Of Sound

The ultimate family clubbing experience hits Ministry of Sound, London.

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Imagine an indoor festival vibe with a focus on families partying together and getting their rave on….and you have Rave-A-Roo; a new clubbing mash-up of festival fun for all the family.

At Rave-A-Roo kids can be themselves, dance, let loose, create, watch or chill.

Launching at London’s most iconic club, Ministry of Sound, in February half term, Rave-A-Roo is an entirely new concept. From toddlers to grandparents, everyone is invited to join in the madcap fun.

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It’s the ultimate clubbing mashup party with top DJs, the Disco Ball Games, a Big Fish Little Fish takeover, LIVE stage performances, hosts Tom and Adam (from Babyhead and Lost & Found), PlayGlow toys, confetti mayhem, neon craft, Glow Chill Room, and a UV tattoo station.

At Rave-a-Roo there is the chance for mini-clubbers and their adults to take on the dance floor with resident artists Go!Go!Go! as seen on Nick Jr. They’ll be debuting their Electro Set and revealing their brand new look.

For time out from the dance floor and the little ones who can’t party quite as hard, they can take it easy in the Glow Chill Room, with an area for babies, whilst parents watch their little faces light up.

With a fully licensed bar (and tea, coffee and snacks), a convenient onsite buggy park, baby changing, professional security, carefully monitored sound levels and beautifully lit rooms, Rave-A-Roo offers a unique and safe environment for families.

Kids. Play. Rave. RepeatKIDS. can be themselves. dance. let loose. create. watch. chill.PLAY. hard in a safe environment. There’s games for all. tons of our PlayGlow toys. then hit the Chill Time area.RAVE. party. dance off. however you want to do it, do it as a family.REPEAT. have it. share it. It’s for all ages. and all of us.

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Further dates in iconic venues around the UK, including more dates in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol, Brighton and Cardiff to be announced

Rave-A-Roo will launch at London’s Ministry of Sound on Friday 19th February 2016. Sessions are 1pm to 3pm and 4pm to 6pm.

Tickets are priced £7.50 (earlybird), £10.00 (advanced) and £12.50 (on the door). Babes in arms go free.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.rave-a-roo.com

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Sunset Safari at London Zoo

Ever wanted to experience the magic of the zoo after hours?

London Zoo have a special after hours summer evening event running every friday until 17th July 2015, where visitors get to watch the sun go down amongst the company of many of the 750 animal species from around the world. Listen to many of the fascinating talks that are being held around the zoo, learn about the animals at special times of the evening from their keepers.

The zoo opens up at 6pm and closes at 10pm, with most of the exhibits closing between 8:30 and 9:30. Everyone needs their sleep, even the animals!

As the sun sets visitors are invited to relax at the Safari Base Camp in one of the many comfortable chairs and beds that are scattered around the Lawn, with an acoustic guitar performance providing an idyllic end to what promises to be an unforgettable evening. And if you are an adult, there are plenty of waterholes to grab a glass or bubbly or a pint of lager from (your even allowed to roam around with glass/plastic in hand)

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The middle boy and I visited the zoo on Friday 3rd July, it was a birthday present to my son as he absolutely loves animals. He was really excited to meeting all of the animals but I was a little worried that it was going to be a late night for him. I didn’t plan on staying until closing time as we had to travel back home using public transport and didn’t want to be out too late with him. I planned on leaving at about 9.

We arrived at the zoo for about 6:30 and the first place that we went to was to go and see the Lemur. The animals are in an enclosure that you can walk through so if you are lucky enough the Lemurs can come up close to you.

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As Joseph was posing in front of some of the Lemurs, one of them came right up behind him. He was a little scared at first but the Keeper told him to stand still and just let the Lemur come close. He was very happy to see them up so close and couldn’t believe he got the chance to be within breathing distance to them.

We went off through the Nightlife and Rainforest area on our way to see the Otters. We saw Fruit Bats, Mice, Rats and Meerkats.

We were very lucky to see the Otters being fed at the Otter Holt. They were very noisy and it seemed that one of them took a fancy to Joseph as she just kept screaming at him, and he was mimicking the noises back at her.

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We couldn’t wait around as we had lots of areas to cover in such a short space of time.

We made our way along the canal to ‘Into Africa’ my favourite place! Giraffes I adore them!

The Giraffes are so graceful and beautiful, with their long slender legs and smooth fur. As we stood on the bridge looking over at them, one decided to gallop over and take some feed from the basket that was just hung up on the bridge in front of us.

Hello there!
Hello there!

So beautiful!

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Just next to the Giraffes are the Zebras and Pygmy Hippos

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There are plenty of statues scattered around the zoo to pose with and play areas to explore

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Lots of photo opportunities around the zoo too

With so much to see and do, we hurried round the Aquarium and the Reptile HousePicMonkey Collage reptiles

And went off to Tiger Territory to search out some Tigers, we saw them laying down up high on a balcony in their enclosure, probably time for bed!

The next place we went was to meet the Monkeys. As we walked through the enclosure, I heard a rustle within the trees. Joseph and I searched through the leaves with our eyes and was greeted by this little dude

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He was nibbling away on some of his food but was happy enough to run down a branch to say hello to us and then run back into his hideaway amongst the branches.

We was almost to the end of our night at the zoo, but not without a visit to Joseph’s favourite mammal, the Penguin! Joseph adores these species, so we saved the best til last. It was crowded at the Penguin Beach when we got there as it was Penguin Chill Out time. There was a little show going on so we found a little spot towards the back of the pool and waited by the glass to see if a Penguin would swim by

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Just to see the smile on his little cute face was enough to last me a lifetime.

It was time to go home, the sun was setting and the sky becoming dark. We had a brilliant time and Joseph has asked to go back again next year. He told me on the way home that it was the best present ever!

There are two more dates available for London Zoo Sunset Safari 10th and 17th July. Ticket prices are Adult: £20.80 Child: £14.56

 

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Hold on to your hats!

Travellingon the London underground and wearing hats do not go well together!

On quite a few occasions, on our family trips into the big city, the boys have had their hats blown away from the gush of wind that you get on the underground when a train is arriving or pulling away from the platform.

My two youngest boys like to wear trilby hats, especially the middle boy. Whenever he knows he is going somewhere special he will choose one of his many hats to wear with his outfit. He is one groovy boy. The youngest wears them in the summer to protect his little head which is full of blonde, thin hair.

Last month the youngest lost his hat as he wasn’t holding on to it. As we was just about to walk up the steps from the platform, a gush of air grabbed hold of his hat and blew it onto the tracks of the Northern Line at Goodge Street. We was very lucky as the station attendant went down and using a grabber, picked it up for us. The little one was over the moon and very happy as he thought that he wouldn’t be seeing it again, it didn’t even have a mark on it! The hat must have landed in between tracks.

We have learnt our lesson now, so whenever we are travelling on the underground the boys always take off their hats or hold onto them as they wait in the platforms. Yesterday we travelled into London and I didn’t even have to tell the youngest, he just sat on a bench on the platform and as he heard the train approaching and he could feel the wind coming, he yelled to everyone who was waiting on the platform “Hold on to your hats everyone!”

Hold onto your hats!
Hold onto your hats!

He knew he was being cheeky as this is what come next

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Remember next time your travelling into London on the underground, hold onto your hat! 🙂

 

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