Living at home with very busy boys it can be hard to find the time to spend quality time with each one of them. The boys are normally, either, running or playing football and myself or Dad spend our weekends ferrying them around from one place to the next.
Last weekend we were invited out by Whittard of Chelsea to attend an Afternoon Tea for two at there Tea Bar in Covent Garden. I took this as the perfect opportunity to spend some quality time with my middle boy.
Whittard of Chelsea Tea Bar is an extension of the Whittard of Chelsea Covent Garden store.
Situated in the middle of Covent Garden Piazza, downstairs within the flagship store you will find more than your average tea and coffee shop. The Tea Bar features a specialist bar that serves a menu of full afternoon tea alongside 100 loose leaf teas with delicious cakes and savouries to compliment their astonishing tea menu.
Whittard Tea Bar also serves a selection of alcoholic drinks, tea infused cocktails, sandwiches, hot chocolates, coffee and all day afternoon tea.
As we arrived we were immediately greeted by the lovely friendly staff, who made us feel very comfortable throughout our visit. The Tea bar is rather small inside and you get that cosy feeling from the rather relaxed atmosphere.
We were shown to our table and offered the menu. Oh my! I had never seen so many choices of different types of tea that was on offer. They had a pretty extensive list of teas available and we had no idea what to choose. Luckily, our host, Marta, was there to offer some advice on what to try. After telling her what tea we normally drink she recommended the Jade Formosa Oolong for my son and the Matcha Guricha for me. Marta also offered us her plethora of knowledge on tea; Oolong tea is a traditional chinese tea that the leaves are wrapped into small beads and can be brewed multiple times.
We were served our tea and given 3 timers; 3, 4 and 5 minutes. We were advised to give our tea between 3 – 4 minutes to infuse.
The tea was every bit of what you would expect from Whittard, it lived up to its expectation. Full bodied with a herbal richness.
The Whittard Tea
We ordered our afternoon tea and opted for The Whittard Tea which is their signature spread of sandwiches, scones, cakes and tea for an afternoon of champions.
As we waited for food to arrive we sat and sipped our delightful tea and chatted about school and work. It was lovely to spend time with my son in such a charming and relaxed surroundings. Sitting in the tea rooms you wouldn’t think that just beyond the window was the busy hustle and bustle of London.
It wasn’t long before our host was heading our way our afternoon tea.
I was also served up a glass of pink prosecco that was infused with strawberry and mint. I must say, I don’t normally drink but this was very refreshing and smooth. A very summer taste. I certainly could have had more than one glass of this fine drink.
The Whittard Tea consisted of selection of handmade finger sandwiches – smoked salmon with lemon cheese; coronation chicken; cucumber; egg and cress Scones. Scones with clotted cream and tea-infused strawberry and mango preserves and a choice of five bitesize cakes.
The hardest choice was what to put on first on the scone; jam or cream?
The presentation was beautiful as was the taste. Freshly prepared food, with delicate flavours that sent my taste buds into overdrive. A sensational selection of excellent food to indulge in. A perfect british tea time experience.
Outstanding service, delicious food and a fantastic variety of drinks including vast tea choices Whittards Tea Bar is definitely a place to visit and a quintessential location to book for a Mother’s day treat.
Not only can you book for afternoon tea you can also browse round the shop and buy some amazing gifts that they have on offer. I would definitely recommend the Easter Tea; a treat that is better than eggs. A nutty oolong tea with subtle hints of chocolate and buttercream, finished off with a scattering of sugar bunnies. Not only is it palatable but it also smells amazing.
The boys cross country race and football was cancelled today so whilst I was strolling through my twitter feed I came across a status retweeted by Warner Bros UK about a pop up coffee shop opening just for a couple of days in London. The Coffee Chain, inspired by the cafe that is featured in the Lego Movie, was opened up yesterday by the stars of the film Chris Pratt (Emmet) and Tiffany Haddish (Queen Waterva Wanabi) on the Southbank alongside the Thames.
The pop up cafe was brought to life with around 48000 bricks including a LEGO coffee machine, donuts and the morning paper.
We popped onto the train and went along to grab a coffee and hot chocolate. My son is absolutely mad about LEGO and couldn’t wait to get there. He was so excited when he saw that not only was there a LEGO cafe but also there to greet the public was Emmet and Sweet Mayhem.
It certainly made our trip worthwhile.
The public were encouraged to donate a small sum of money towards UNICEF.
As we entered into the cafe there were lots around us to keep us entertained
Joseph took along his very Joseph took along his very own LEGO character that he created of himself as a runner and they allowed us to take a photo of it on top of a donut
We are now looking forward to watching the movie when it comes out next week
The Arcelormittal Orbit was designed by sculptor Sir Anish Kapoor and engineer Cecil Balmond and was erected back in 2012 just in time for the London Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Orbit is the UK’s tallest sculpture, 80m high above the Olympic Park and 60% made from recycled steel offers extraordinary 20- mile views of London skyline.
This fantastic piece of art is impressive and moving. It is part of the Olympic legacy that transformed East London. I remember back in 2012 when the Olympics changed the area and the people within it. The Olympic Park is now used every day by visitors from all over; people out cycling or going for walks, families picnicking on the grass, children running around and playing in the many parks and couples out for romantic walks along the canal.
Everytime I see this amazing structure it brings back memories of the unity we shared back in 2012 and how well our olympic teamed performed.
The sculpture is a physical embodiment of the spirit of East London.
A few weeks we visited the Orbit not only for the incredible panoramic views across London but also to ride the world’s tallest and longest slide.
The visit starts at the bottom of the Arcelormittal Orbit where you get to stand directly underneath and look up at the twisting red lattice framed iconic structure. This in itself is a wow moment.
We took the lift up to the viewing platform where we spent some time looking out across at London’s skyline, pointing out buildings that we recognised. The youngest was pretty impressed with the Olympic Stadium where Westham were playing at home. We knew they had scored when the crowd erupted in a loud cheer.
When you book your tickets you have to hope for a clear day. Unfortunately we had previously visited the orbit on a rainy day and didn’t get to see half of what you can on a clear bright day
There are interactive touch screens on the viewing platform that tell the story of the Orbit and the park and they also give you information on the surrounding area. They tell the story of the Orbit. The polished concave mirrors that are on either side of the platform play with your perspective and turn the horizon on its head.
The level below the viewing platform is where you get to ride the slide.
Kitted out with a helmet and arm protectors you join the queue ready to watch a short video about how to ride the slide. Once inside the mat, you grab the sides of the chute and you push yourself down the slide.
From top to bottom descending 76 meters it takes just 40 seconds. Reaching up to 15 miles/hr (24 km/hr), the slide loops it’s way around the sculpture 12 times. At times you are in darkness and then you see a flash of daylight where the top of the slide is covered in plastic. Or, in complete darkness if you have your eyes closed for the whole 40 seconds it takes from top to bottom.
The slide ends with a straight drop and before you know it you’re seeing daylight again
You would expect to come out the bottom at speed but you slow right down as you exit.
Once down at the bottom you can go back up to the viewing platform again or if you are us, just to take the steps down.
Once finished on the viewing platform, you can take the lift back down the ground level or go down the 455 steps. Yes, we counted them! As you walk down the steel stairs you are treated to the sounds of London echoing around you coming from a specially designed soundscape soundtrack.
My boys give this experience a huge adrenaline pumped thumbs up
There is a height and age limit to the slide, you can find out all of the information on there website.
After being at the forefront of popular and celebrity culture for more than 250 years, Madame Tussauds London has launched a new programme to support and educate students about fake news.
The ‘Fake News and the Media’ school lesson is part of Merlin Entertainments new ‘Today’s Lesson Will Be…’ educational programme that is being rolled out across the company’s London attractions. Created in collaboration with education specialist SHAPES for Schools this new lesson is linked to PSHE and the English national curriculum and is targeted at Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 students aged between 9 – 13 years old.
Taking place inside the world famous attraction on Baker Street, which boasts A-list celebrity figures such as Donald Trump and Kim Kardashian, the ‘Fake News and the Media’ lesson has been created as a reaction to the current issues around the distortion and misuse of false information and the influence it is having on young people’s choices.
As the lines continue to blur between what is a real news story and what is false, the interactive lessons will provide teachers and their students with the essential skills to navigate the news agenda safely online and across social media.
‘Today’s Lesson will be…’
Delivered by Madame Tussauds performers, the ‘Fake News and the Media’ lesson will lead students through a critique of how the media presents news whilst also analysing the difference between rumour, spin, satire and false information.
Lessons will include
Structured discussion around modern celebrity culture and the media, and how the two are linked.
Working in groups to categories news stories according to different criteria, including: how the news was shared; who wrote it, text and images, and the emotive impact on the reader.
A group-based definition of ‘fake news’ and other key terminology.
A game in which pupils try to identify their classmates’ real stories from their fake ones.
Joanne Channon, Education Manager at Merlin Entertainments, said:
“The dissemination of false information through the media both online and across social media can be incredibly confusing and challenging for young people. Out of the classroom learning is proven to be highly effective in helping to stimulate young minds while boosting student’s social skills such as confidence, creativity and communication. We believe our new workshop will inspire students this academic year and we hope it will have a positive impact on how they interact with modern media in the future.”
The fake news workshop helps children to stretch their literacy skills. They will learn how to identify different types of media, it’s purpose and to understand the concept of ‘fake news and how it impacts on modern audiences. Children will analyse a variety of news stories and by picking out textual evidence to back up their decisions they will learn how to assess whether they think the story is real or fake.
Learning outside of the classroom can lead to a deeper understanding of the subjects being taught by bringing it to life. It can help to inspire and reignite enthusiasm for learning. Hands on learning will also enhance a child’s personal and social communication skills by encouraging communication and increases engagement with in the subject.
The new ‘Fake News and the Media’ lesson can be booked as part of Madame Tussauds London’s schools package. This includes such benefits as a 40% saving on tickets and free Teacher Resource Packs. For more information please visit www.madametussauds.com/education
The Warner Bros Studio Tour recently invited us along to witness the new additional special feature to the Making of Harry Potter. The tour has launched behind the scenes secrets to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the special feature is dedicated entirely to the fourth instalment of the film.
The Goblet of Fire has not been in the Great Hall since 2010, when the filming of the magical film finished, it has now returned to it rightful place and will be there for everyone to witness from now until Sunday 23rd September 2018.
Harry Potter has always been a huge thing for me, reading all the books and then watching the films. I remember thinking how I couldn’t wait to read the books to my first-born 15 years ago and hopefully share the excitement and love I had for the characters. Harry potter is one of those books that you can read again and again. Both my eldest and middle boy have read all of the books and, along with me, have been drawn into the exciting world Of Harry Potter.
As you first arrive into Warner Brothers tour you will see the Triwizard Cup on display, just as you are queuing up to enter.
When you first buy your ticket to the tour you can choose the time to enter. Everyone gathers around the entrance and you are all taken into a room with tvs mounted on the walls all around you. Here you get to watch short clips of how Pottermania began and the history of the making of the films. An interactor – a member of staff who knows a hell of a lot about Harry Potter- gives a short talk about what to expect to see throughout the tour, they also get you all into the mood by asking what house everyone belongs to. Everyone cheers when your house is called. Once this is over, you are all moved along into a cinema screening room where you watch another short clip where the actors share some of their memories of making the films. Once this is finished the screen is pulled up and behind it a big curtain is drawn open and the lights go on to reveal a huge impressive door. People whose birthday it is are shared to open the great big door. As soon as that door opens, everyone’s mouths are agape as this is the start of something special. You enter into the Great Hall, and Great it is! It is amazing and such a dramatic entrance. You quickly realise what magical, truly magnificence you are about to see.
The Great Hall was where the students and teachers dine and congregate is was also the place where the announcement of the Triwizard tournament took place.
Standing at the end of this impressive room was the Goblet of Fire, along with the age line and the twins on the floor.
Here we got see a live Special Effects demonstration on how the Triwizard Champions’ parchments were expelled from the Goblet. We watched as the Goblet spat out Harry’s name on a piece of burning parchment as the fourth champion in the triwizard tournament.
We was all told to stand around the age line drawn on the floor, obviously there is always one person who tries their luck. Just like the Weasley twins, my Oliver attempted to cross the line but I caught him just in time.
You are in the Great Hall for a short time but this is where you can head of on your own and go at your own speed throughout the rest of the tour. As you leave the Great Hall and head on into the first backlot you can grab a souvenir parchment to keep for yourself.
The first backlot is full of props and costumes from the set. Here we got to see the sculpture from the Yule Ball
along with the iconic taps from the Prefect Bathroom. On the advice from Cedric Diggory, Harry took a trip here in order to complete the first challenge. These taps have 53 spouts, cast in real bronze for strength and durability, they expel a rainbow of coloured water just as they did in the film.
They really are mesmerizing, we stood for a while just watching the water spurt out of the taps.
Every part of this tour is breath-taking, from the golden eggs to the costumes and props from the films.
It’s hard to know what was new for the tour and what was there previously. There are so many things to look at that I am sure we missed so many items. By the time the production of Harry Potter had finished in 2011, five warehouses had been filled with thousands of props that had been used by the actors and as set decoration. Thousands of props were either made specifically for the films or bought in from speciality shops, including 5000 pieces of furniture, 12000 books and 40000 Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes products. Most of these can be seen in the tour.
The sets in the tour feel so real, It’s like you have been transported into the film yourself.
Tom Riddles grave is now in the studio tour just before the Forbidden Forest entrance in order for everyone to get a 360 tour of it. The sculpture was created before the details of Voldemort’s lineage were known meaning the dates had to be changed in post production.
One of my favourite places to see was Dumbledores office. Here we got to see Dumbledores fascination with the universe and the skies, tucked away in the upper chamber is his largest telescope.
We also got to see the Memory cabinet and the pensieve in action. Because it carries powerful and complex enchantments only the most advanced wizards can use it. obviously, that includes us!
Before we headed on into the Forbidden Forest we thought it would be best if the boys received some basic wand training. They were taken through step by step by a video of Paul Harris, the choreographer of the battle scenes in the film Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
They were now ready to face any mystical creature that we come across in the Dark Forest. As we headed through the towering trees we came across Buckbeak and Aragog
I am pleased to announce that we made it through the forest unscathed and ready to jump on to the Hogwarts Express
We had so much fun here. Most of the scenes that took place on Platform 9 3/4 were actually shot on location at Kings Cross Station in London.
We boarded the train and took our seat in one of the carriages ready to embark on a journey
During the making of the films, the windows of the carriages were replaced with moving backdrops and special effects like hopping frogs and flying dementors.
When the glass goes all icy you just know what is going to happen next.
Oh dear! My poor little wizard was very scared!
After all that excitement it was time for a spot of refreshments next to the Backlot. After eating our food the boys were treated to a Butterbear
I must admit this wasn’t very nice. I know many people who have enjoyed this beverage but we found it way too sweet for our taste buds.
The next part of the tour took us past the Knight Bus, Privet Drive, Hogwarts Bridge and any other buildings and items that were used in the outside scenes of the films.
Only one section of the Hogwarts Bridge was very built; using computer generated effects the rest of the bridge was created.
As we exited the Backlot and entered another studio this is where we came learnt all about the magical creatures, special effects, make up and prosthetics. It was lovely to see how Dobby was created and you even get to control him by moving your own limbs.
Pass through special effects area and you enter Diagon Alley.
The original design of the street was inspired from the streets described in the works of Charles Dickens. Diagon Alley constantly changed throughout the films, moving shops fronts and walls in order to create the perfect setting and was even redressed for use in the village of Hogsmeade.
We even spotted a dementor hiding down one of the alleys ready to jump out on us, lucky for us we had our wands with us and sent them packing.
We were nearing the end of our tour and didn’t think our smiles could get any bigger but as we entered the last room we were completely in awe at the majestic model of Hogwarts Castle. The intricately detailed model was built for the first film, every part of the model was filmed and then enhanced with digital effects to create the realistic views of the school.
This place is amazing! I could just sit and stare all day long at this model, it is a magnificent piece of art work. Detail is second to none, which is what we thought throughout the tour on every singe item we saw.
The castle has a new addition just for the Goblet of Fire exhibit; a scale version of the Beauxbatons carriage complete with winged horses poised to land on the Hogwarts grounds for the first time ahead of the Triwizard championship.
There are interactive screens around that give you more information on the building of the model.
Exiting the Hogwarts Castle you enter the wand room and gift shop. This is where we saw the triwizard cup.
We had an awesome time and could go back again and again as I do believe there are so many more incredible things to look at. We definitely did pursue an adventure.
We were invited along to a special preview of the Goblet of Fire exhibit. We were provided with tickets, food and had a photo opportunity. No payment has been received.