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ISSUE NO. 145

®

www.familiesse.co.uk

south east london

In this issue: Gifts Galore in South East London

Santa’s Grottos, Pantos, and Ice Rinks

Step-families at Christmas

The Pointer School (Blackheath)

A Prep, Pre-Prep & Nursery School for boys & girls between the ages of 3 and 11 • First Class examination results (100% success in recent 2012 examinations)

• Numerous extra-curricular clubs (36 in total, from fencing to horse riding)

• Organic food

• Large variety of outdoor and PE activities

• Breakfast club and after school care (8am-6pm)

• Three languages taught

• Christian Evangelical in ethos

• Holiday club (Christmas, Easter and Summer)

OFSTED: “OUTSTANDING IN ALL AREAS“ Telephone: 020 8293 1331

See OFSTED reports on our website

Email: secretary@pointers-school.co.uk

www.pointers-school.co.uk

Founded by Muriel & Della Pointer in 1951

EE

ESTABLISHED 1996

FR

DECEMBER 2012


THE CHILDREN ARE happily cracking open their advent calendar doors, the school play costumes are made (nearly), and the cats are bouncing baubles around the floor in frenzy of excitement. Not many sleeps to go are you ready? For last minute (but not panic) Christmas shopping, we have our pick of local goodies, wonderful books in Justine’s review, and more pantos, ice rinks and festive events than you can shake a stick at. We’ll be back in the new year - Happy Christmas everyone. Robina Cowan, editor

LocalNews email your news to editor@familiesse.co.uk

Children r o f s ie it iv t c A

IN THIS ISSUE 2-3 Local News and Views Ballet, Spanish and nursery rhymes for children, southeast London’s Portas Pilot goes live, shop news and a forest garden needs your help

4-5 Gift Guide We’re inspired by the goodies on our local high streets

6-7 Where’s Father Christmas? Grottos galore! Plan a trip to take your well behaved children to meet Santa

8 Family Life Expert baby sleep and potty training tips; a new baby vaccine, and Facebook for grownups

9 Education News Local schoolgirls take part in a UK wide science project and two charity events for schools

10 Reading for Pleasure The fun of sparking children’s imaginations through books and reading events

11 The Bookseller Crow More books! Picture books, thumping good stories and guides, recommended by Justine Crow

12-18 What’s On Families’ whopping guide to pantos, ice rinks, exhibitions, Christmas shows and school holiday workshops

19 Christmas for Step-families Two sets of in-laws, two ex-partners, four sets of ex-in-laws. When Christmas is tricky for extended families, Be StepWise can help

20 The Back Page Local business contacts to make your life easier

Front cover: ‘Angel’ portrait by Saliha Pleace at Momento Photography, 01628 771455, www.momentofoto.co.uk

Next issue 11 January, copy deadline 17 December Families South East PO Box 11591, London SE26 6WB 020 8699 7240 www.familiesse.co.uk editor@familiesse.co.uk © Families South East. We take every care preparing this magazine, but the publishers and distributors cannot be held responsible for the claims of advertisers nor for the accuracy of the contents nor for any consequence. Families South East is part of the Families group, established in 1990 and headed by Families South West. All franchised magazines in the group are independently owned and operated under licence.

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families south east - december 2012

Babyballet on the BBC Babyballet were thrilled when the BBC filmed one of their Blackheath classes as part of this year’s Children in Need events. Instead of walking in wearing their pristine ballet kit, the children all came dressed in their pyjamas, many also wearing Pudsey ears, and danced in aid of Children in Need, raising £550 for charity. Stephanie Gabbitas, who runs Babyballet Greenwich, explained: “Although the primary focus of our classes is education through enjoyment, it’s important for all of us to teach our children at an early age that one of the greatest joys of life is in helping others - in giving back. Most children around the world, and many right here in the UK, won’t get the chance to have private dance classes at any age. So, we devote one week each year to encourage students and their parents to think about the cause of Children in Need, to get into their PJs and donate a pound or more. This year was, as ever, a huge success, and we were overwhelmed by everyone’s generosity. It was great fun too - the reporter was so amazed by the children and their enthusiasm that she didn’t want to leave!” To book a three week Babyballet trial for your child call Miss Stephanie on 07809 148348, or email greenwich@babyballet.co.uk.

Olé kids Olé Kids are bringing their energetic Spanish classes to Dulwich. The one-hour classes include singing, dancing, arts and crafts, music and storytelling time, making it easy and exciting to learn Spanish. The new classes are on Fridays at the Francis Peek Centre in Dulwich Park, for 6 months to fiver year-olds. For a free trial, quote ‘FSE Xmas’ when you call 020 7386 0376 or email info@olekids.com. And there’s more! Families who book lunch at Iberica restaurant in Canary Wharf can join in with Olé Kids’ free children’s Spanish workshops - see www.olekids.com for details.

New Montessori to open Montessori Twelve is a new day nursery and pre-prep offering activities which incorporate the Montessori method within Early Years Foundation guidelines. Set to open in the new year, the building is a four-storey detached period house in Lewisham, close to the town centre and station. There’s a large garden for outdoor fun, and offstreet parking to make drop-offs easier. Montessori Twelve will be open from 7.30am-6pm, catering for up to 30 babies to five year-olds. To enrol your child for a place or find out more, call Cynthia on 07939 265 609, www.montessoritwelve.com.

Sing something simple Talking Tots is running a campaign to encourage the use of nursery rhymes both at home and in childcare environments. “Sharing rhymes with children stimulates their memory, vocabulary, social and emotional skills, giving them a real head start in their language development”, explains Nicola Byers, who runs local Talking Tots classes. Talking Tots has put together a free download of nursery rhymes and accompanying actions with advice on using rhymes to help stimulate communication and language skills. For classes in Dulwich and Forest Hill, call Helen on 07967 126148, and in Beckenham and Bromley, call Nicola on 07504 166 107. For the free download, to go www.talkingtots.info.

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n Ups w o r G r o f s New SEE3 Portas Pilot

New bookshop

South London Portas’ Pilot group SEE3 is up and running in Forest Hill, Kirkdale and Sydenham, with three Pop Up shops. They are The Butchery at 49 London Road Forest Hill, Pen & Gravy at 161 Kirkdale and Conquer Gear in Station Approach, Sydenham. The SEE3 Town Team were one of 27 towns awarded Portas Pilot funding in July 2012 for high street regeneration following an independent review into high streets by retail guru Mary Portas. The three strands within SEE3 comprise: The Shop Revolution (a high impact project that aims to bring empty units back into use and interest to the high street through the introduction of pop up shops); SEE3 Markets (a range of themed markets including retro, crafts, gastronomic goodies and gifts); and Jack & Jill (two community hubs to provide a creative space for public engagement, exhibitions, workshops and product showcases). The project is supported by the Mayor of London’s Outer London Fund and Lewisham Council. The initiative came to life with a Vintage and Retro market on 1 December, to be followed by Forest Hill Festive Fair on 15 December and Sydenham Food Fair on 16 December. For full event details and to join in, go to www.see3.co.uk.

We welcome Rye Books to southeast London, which opened in November. Alongside books, gifts and stationery for adults, a family-friendly offering includes author visits, children’s storytelling on Tuesdays and Fridays, Bea’s Baby Bop on Thursdays, and pre-school French on Mondays. Rye Books is open from 10am-6pm Mondays to Saturdays and from 1pm on Sundays, at 45 Upland Road, East Dulwich SE22 9EF, 020 3591 1850 and www.ryebooks.co.uk.

Caring Christmas trees Buy a Caring Christmas Tree this year, and you will be supporting the Jericho Road Project’s work with homeless and vulnerable people in southeast London. The trees are premium Nordman firs freshly cut from sustainablymanaged Scottish tree farms, and netted for safe transit. They range in size from four to eight feet tall, and cost from £35. Your contribution will help towards the cost of providing 4,500 three-course meals, 28 bed spaces and Kings Church’s debt advice centre. Order online or by phone, then choose your tree from a local pick-up point in Catford, Beckenham or Deptford; or pay extra for home delivery. For orders, go to www.caringchristmastrees.com or call 0845 111 8733.

Cissy Wears in ‘tot ten’ Cissy Wears in Hither Green is a delightful local store for shoppers who don’t compromise on taste. The shop’s website has been recently nominated as a ‘tot ten’ by The Times’ Carolyn Asome who writes: “A concept store for design-centric parents looking for upbeat and quirky labels that don’t run into hundreds. Everything from dinosaur bike helmets to Beau Loves graphic harlequin-print romper suits and Corby Tindersticks pillows and prints. One of the most interesting edits around.” Pop instore for childrenswear for 0-8 year-olds and hand picked gifts, cards, decor and toys. The shop is at 212a Hither Green Lane SE12 and www.cissywears.com.

Nice little earner If you know southeast London like the back of your hand, have a car and free time to spare once a month, by joining Families’ delivery team you could earn some money. Each round covers about 80 local shops, nurseries, schools and libraries at the beginning of each month, and can be completed within school hours. Interested? Please email your phone number to info@familiesse.co.uk with any questions you have.

Going green with cloudfunding Stockwell-based children’s charity Oasis is planning to build a forest-garden to give local children the chance to gain first-hand experience of nature. The ‘learn as you play’ adventure garden - known as Stockwell Urban Oasis - will feature a quirky tree house designed by a local artist, alongside useful and edible plants for children to experience. With public funding for these projects now non-existent in many areas, the project is supported by Spacehive; an online platform that helps anyone design and fund neighbourhood improvement projects via the concept of crowdfunding - whereby local people and firms each pledge small amounts towards a single idea. Oasis also encourage local adults to become involved with the space - be it through gardening or getting involved in projects with the children; helping the playground to become a more multi-generational space, and bringing new volunteers to the charity. Kam-Lyn Chak, a project promoter and volunteer at the Oasis adventure playground said: “Planting this exciting new garden in a space that’s already proven popular with local kids will create an array of opportunities for different play and learning activities. This project also benefits the local wildlife and will enhance the natural beauty of an area that deserves a bit more love.” To support the project or find out more, see http://spacehive.com/stockwellurbanoasis. More information on Spacehive is at www.spacehive.com.

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Olé Kids Boo

ky clas our s

Spanish classes for children and parents

Join us for fun, energy packed and culturally rich Spanish classes where children from 6 months - 10 years old come to speak and learn Spanish in a friendly environment. NEW class inside Dulwich Park: Francis Peek Centre Fridays 2 pm (children 6 months to 5 years old) Quote: ‘FSE Xmas’ for a free trial! FREE weekend Spanish workshops for children Iberica Restaurant Canary Wharf 12 to 3 pm (for families eating at the restaurant only) Telephone : 020 7386 0376/07734 900221 Email : info@olekids.com www.olekids.com

Imagination for the Everyday Early years Drama www.theatretots.com

+ Weekly classes in Lee, Blackheath and Hither Green

+ Schools, nurseries and parties too! info@theatretots.com - 07801072776

Fun French for Children • 3 – 11 years old • Games, Songs & Drama • Native French Teachers • Professional Materials • Free Trial Session For SE3, SE4, SE12 SE21, SE22, SE23 & SE24

Call Séverine: 020 8699 7665

LEARN YOUNG HAVE FUN Rally round for a smashing time. A fun filled introduction to tennis for 2-8 yr olds. Played indoors with small rackets, sponge balls and scaled-down court. Aids agility, co-ordination and balance. A positive introduction to tennis with lots of fun. Weekend and weekday sessions now available. For further details ring Gordon on 07877391005 or e-mail gordon@tennis-4-kids.com

www.tennis-4-kids.com december 2012 - families south east

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Alhambra Home & Garden

148 Kirkdale, London SE26 4BB Unique Christmas gifts for adults and kids, plus Spanish rugs, tiles, food and cookware. Special Offer Shopping Night Friday 7 December 6pm-9pm

Gift Guide shop locally!

You don’t have to look far for inspiration. Here are some of our favourites, and where to find them: These retro bunnies by Lapin & Me are hand painted nightlights which look as good in daylight as they do switched on. £55 each from Home and Kids

020 3417 6385 www.alhambrahome.co.uk

A string of Cousin Paul fairy lights will banish gloom from your room. There are 50 colours - choose your own combination. £50 from Doopo Doopo

For 10% off at The Maths Zone take this magazine in with you or online, quote ‘Families’. Offer ends 31 December 2012

Prints In Silver Fingerprint, Hand & Footprint Jewellery

Well, it wouldn’t be Christmas without a drum, would it? When grandpa nods off after lunch, it’s too tempting not to sneak behind the armchair and test his hearing aids. £18.99 from Just Williams Curl up with a sleeping fox or Polly cat cushion. £17.99 each from Alhambra

Unique, personal gifts that your family will treasure for a lifetime

07533 972 024

www.printsinsilver.com

YES, YOU CAN HAVE IT ALL!

Successful ‘business mum’ is seeking 5 working partners to work part-time from home, alongside and without compromising family commitments or current career.

Your very own Dorothy, Scarecrow, Lion or Tin Man, available as a group or individually. £18.50 each from Smash Bang Wallop The world of Sylvania is enjoying a huge cult revival. This little shop includes replicas of lots of Sylvanian homes and buildings, along with boxes, magazines and tiny furniture to go in the houses. Figures not included. £28 from Beckenham Toyshop

If you have a supervisory, managerial, sales, marketing, recruitment or self-employed background or you wish to develop an extraordinary lifestyle, please call Skye Edwards

07973 749 846 4

families south east - december 2012

Tiny wooden puzzles for musers, fiddlers and thinkers - perfect for the Christmas lunch table. 50p for one or £8 for a selection of 20, The Maths Zone

Balsa wood Santa Christmas card which actually flies. £4.95 from Folly, www.follyhome.co.uk, 01455 631984

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I S T S K C O S T GIFTS GORGEOUS rish Lane, Penge

L O C A L AMES ackheath TOYS ans,d10G Bl Montpelier Vale,

For the child who cycles, scoots or skates, shock absorbent Crazy Stuff helmets offer total protection to the most precious part of their body. Crocodile, eagle, zebra, tiger, red tiger, black dragon and more. £35 each from Cissy Wears

For a 10% discount at Home and Kids, take this magazine in with you, or online quote ‘Families’ (not in conjunction with any other offer or discount cards. Offer ends 24 December 2012)

Build your own bird house with the Little Experience collage kit. Made from recycled materials and wood from sustainable sources, the kit has all you need - wood frame, Birdman comics to read then re-use for a cosy collage cladding, plus two paintbrushes and weather-proof varnish. Just add birds! £16 from Home and Kids

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BOOKSHOPS

On the first day of Christmas my mummy gave to me… an Insey Winsey Spider board game. If you have a chimney, you’ll want to warm it up for Santa’s visit... Straws are eco friendly fire logs made from straw (there’s a clue in the name) and cheaper than good quality logs. £8 per six-pack, £15 for two at Alexandra Nurseries

Next year’s diary, wallplanner or pocket book, with columns for everyone’s comings and goings, plus doodles galore and a snigger of wit. Dodo-Pad desk/ kitchen diary £11.99 from The Art Stationers and Toyshop

Refreshers, Love Hearts, Parma Violets and Drumstick lollies bring back the good old days. Christmas tins and tubes under £5 from supermarkets

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But it doesn’t stop there! At The Maths Zone – a fantastic games and puzzles shop near Hither Green station – we really do have something for everyone. So, whether you’re looking for a chunky wooden puzzle for a little one, a board game for the whole family or something a bit different to give to Uncle Tom, you’ll be able to find it here. and use the Order online FAMILIES de discount co discount. to get a 10% rt with you ve ad Or bring this – off everything and get 10% . st December 2012 until 31

The Maths Zone, 10 Staplehurst Road, London SE13 5NB

020 8318 6380

www.themathszone.co.uk december 2012 - families south east

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Where’s Father Christmas? SANTA’S VINTAGE CHRISTMAS GROTTO 8+9, 15-23 December, COLLEGE LODGE, Dulwich Village SE21 7BQ, www.santasgrottodulwich.com 020 3070 2970. For the first time, Dulwich Village has its own Christmas Grotto this year. Whippersnappers have formed a collaboration with Bleu Furniture to create Santa’s Vintage Christmas Grotto. Located within Dulwich Park, the authentic Victorian Lodge will provide the setting for a unique event. Children will be able to experience the joy of interacting with two real live reindeer and have their pictures taken. Parents will be able to indulge in mulled wine and mince pies whilst their children ‘show off’ their creative skills decorating gingerbread snowmen to eat or take home to hang on Christmas trees. The children will then be shown upstairs into the ‘retro styled’ waiting room for face painting, balloon modelling and games. The penultimate and most important part of their experience will be meeting Father Christmas in his ‘retro styled’ room, with the opportunity to have a professional colour, black and white or sepia photograph taken. A unique reminder of their visit will be a beautifully wrapped present given to them by Father Christmas. The final part of the experience will be the opportunity to purchase retro gifts in the gift shop. 11am-3pm daily, book first online. CHRISTMAS AT CANARY WHARF From 1 December, JUBILEE PLACE MALL, Canary Wharf E15 5NY, www.canarywharf.com Wind your way around Canary Wharf on the Magical Treasure Trail or enjoy a splash of Festive Face Painting in Cabot Place, Canada Place and Jubilee Place. Taking place throughout the shopping malls, Canary Wharf also allows you to get in touch with your creative side with some Cooking and Cupcake Decorating with Sweet Couture, or perhaps the little ones could beautify a Treasure Chest or Love Heart Box before making their own unique Stained Glass Creations. Throughout December, children can also spend the weekends enjoying Canary Wharf’s Enchanted Mirror installation. The mirror installation provides endless fun for young ones, whilst adding to the magic and sparkle of Christmas. SANTA’S GROTTO, 8+9, 15-24 December. Excited children can meet Santa in his Grotto and whisper their wish list for the big day. Meanwhile, Santa and his ‘Little Helpers’ will take to the stage in the East Wintergarden, keeping visitors entertained with a series of shows on 1 and 2 December. £2 donations for Santa’s Grotto and Santa’s Showtime will go to the children’s charity Variety, and Richard House Children’s Hospice. 11am-5pm. BLUEWATER WINTER WONDERLAND

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AT HOME IN GREENWICH 15+16, 22+23 December, GREENWICH MARKET SE10 9HZ, www.shopgreenwich.co.uk Father Christmas is in residence at his Greenwich Grotto. His funny elf treats the children to magic and balloon fun while they wait their turn to talk to Santa and collect a Christmas gift bag. Open 12 noon5pm daily, £4 per child. Greenwich Market is well worth the visit for original artworks and handcrafted toys, vintage fashions and handmade jewellery, original artworks and delicious fresh produce and mouth-watering food-to-go. Arts, craft and food stalls run Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 5.30pm, with antiques, vintage and collectables on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. DEAR FATHER CHRISTMAS 13-24 December, GREENWICH THEATRE, Crooms Hill, Greenwich SE10 8ES, 020 8858 7755, www.greenwichtheatre.org.uk There’s trouble at the North Pole, Father Christmas needs help... Everything is going wrong at Father Christmas’ house. The presents are all muddled up, a whole sack of letters has gone astray, the elves are in a panic and Father Christmas’ best friend, the North Pole Polar Bear, has gone missing. There will be stories, songs and decoration making and you can even meet the jolly man himself and his motley crew of helpers, in this interactive adventure for young children and their families. Ages 3-6, tickets £8.50 children, £11.50 adults. THEATREBUGS’ FESTIVE FUNDAYS 15 December in BLACKHEATH and ELTHAM, 22 December in LEE and GREENWICH, 020 8244 2036, email binaandpam@theatrebugs.co.uk Book up for a jolly Christmas party based on the magical story of ‘Where is Santa?’, with merry music, dancing, arts, crafts and festive games! Have a delicious Christmas Tea Party with the Magical Christmas Fairy or the real Father Christmas himself, receive an early Christmas gift and have your photo taken with the special guest. Put on your favourite festive costume - the Bugs will dress up too! The one day workshop is suitable for 3 1⁄2 years to 8 years and cost £25, with a 10% sibling discount available. PAXTON CHRISTMAS FAIR 15 December, PAXTON PRIMARY SCHOOL, Woodland Road, Upper Norwood SE19 1PA All the way from the north pole, Santa’s stopping in to the school fair to take Xmas list requests from children. Parents will be able to buy Xmas trees and last minute gifts and cards. Lunch will be lovingly served by the best cooks amongst the Paxton

parents, and there will be games, table sales and prizes on offer for all. All proceeds from the fair will be used to fund school improvements. 11am-3pm, all welcome. SANTA’S GROTTO ADVENTURE 15 December, St HILDA’S UNDERCROFT, Brockley Road, Crofton Park SE4 2DQ, 0781 717 6018, info@tdlp.co.uk The elves will take you on a journey up the winding icy steps, through a wonderful festive landscape where you will catch the Polar Express to meet the jolly man in red himself. 12noon - 3pm, £3 per child. LONDON ZOO 8+9, 15-16 and 20-24 December, ZSL LONDON ZOO, Outer Circle, Regent's Park, London NW1 4RY, 0844 225 1826, www.zsl.org Santa will be in his custom-designed winter lodge in the fairytale setting of London Zoo’s memorial gardens. See London’s very own reindeer herd up close, then take your children to see Santa with their wishlists, have the moment captured by a cheeky elf photographer, and take home a special gift. SANTA’S SPECIAL STEAM TRAIN

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SANTA’S VICTORIAN GROTTO 8-23 December, MUSEUM OF LONDON, London Wall EC2Y 5HN, 020 7001 9844, and MUSEUM OF LONDON DOCKLANDS, West India Quay E14, 020 7001 9844, www.museumoflondon.org.uk Meet Santa in his very own grotto, tell him your Christmas wishes, receive a special present and have your picture taken with him. £5, book first on 020 7001 9844. HAMLEYS Until 24 December, HAMLEYS Toyshop, 188-196 Regent Street W1B 5BT, 0871 704 1977, www.hamleys.com Join in the Christmas magic at Hamleys this December. Meet Father Christmas and his team of Elves who are preparing for the big day. Choose from a selection of magical experiences which include scrumptious food and Christmas activities to enjoy. Each little guest will have an individual chat with Father Christmas, and receive a small gift to take home.

Suitable for under 10s, tickets £7 plus zoo admission price. Adult entry to the grotto is free with zoo admission. CENTRALE SHOPPING CENTRE Until 24 December, Lower Mall, CENTRALE SHOPPING CENTRE, 21 North End, Croydon CR0 1TY, 0871 330 8070, www.centrale.co.uk, www.wish4ticket.com Take a trip to the North Pole on an award-winning 4D journey complete with Rocket the Reindeer, cheeky elves, a naughty snowman and magical Wishfairy. At the end, Father Christmas has presents for good boys and girls in his special grotto. Tickets £3.50 children, £3 adults, £12 families. ROCKET THE REINDEER Until 24 December, THE GLADES Shopping Centre, High Street, Bromley BR1 1DN, 0871 330 8070, www.wish4ticket.com A magical 3D experience with Rocket the Reindeer, leading to Santa’s special grotto where he has gifts for good boys and girls. Tickets £3.50 children, £2 adults, £12 families.

ARCTIC GROTTO 15-24 December, SEA LIFE LONDON AQUARIUM, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road SE1 7PB, 0871 663 1678, www.sealife.co.uk/london Visit Father Christmas in his log cabin along with his larger-than-life Penguin helper in their Arctic grotto. Situated in the chilly, Antarctic Adventure area where ten Gentoo Penguins live, the festive pair will be in Santa’s grotto welcoming visitors with gifts for good little children as well as the chance to get up close to some of the marine world’s most amazing creatures as they swim beneath the water and waddle about in their icy home. There’s also a whole aquarium to discover from rays to rare Green Sea Turtles and more sharks than ever before in the new Shark Reef Encounter. And now you can even come face to fin with these creatures in the unique Snorkel with Sharks experience which includes a Behind the Scenes Tour, with over 6,000 species, briefing and snorkel time. Open 10am-6pm daily, tickets from £14.85, family tickets available. KEW’S WINTER WONDERLAND 8 December - 6 January 2013, KEW GARDENS, Kew, Richmond TW9 3AB, 020 8332 5655, www.kew.org Admission free for children under 17, adults £14.50. Take your little ones to meet Father Christmas in his grotto, located in the Princess of Wales Conservatory, (open for free from Sat 8 to Sun 23 Dec, 12 midday to 3.30pm, with last entry at 3pm). After Christmas day the grotto will reopen to host magical story telling sessions, where families can enjoy traditional folktales featuring shadow puppetry. (26 Dec to 6 Jan 2013, 11am, 12 noon, 2pm and 3pm, sessions last 20-30 minutes). After the children have visited Father Christmas, take them for a ride on a stunning vintage carousel on Kew Palace lawn (from Sat 8 Dec to Sun 6 Jan, excluding Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, 10.30am to 4pm daily). Adult or child £2, adult accompanying child under five is £1. For very young children, there’s a spin in a mini vintage car ride (runs from 10.30am to 4pm daily, excluding Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Child £2). For curious kids, big and small, Kew’s volunteer

SANTA’S VINTAGE CHRISTMAS GROTTO

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guides will be offering free sessions in the Orangery, where families can learn about the “Twelve trees of Christmas”- plants and trees symbolic of the festive season, taking inspiration from the traditional Christmas song, the ‘Twelve days of Christmas’ (8 Dec to 6 Jan, sessions run on Wed, Fri and Sun, 12 midday to 2pm). WINTER WONDERLAND AT BLUEWATER Until 13 January 2013, BLUEWATER Shopping Centre, www.bluewaterwinterwonderland.co.uk UK’s biggest indoor winter wonderland offers a host of festive activities that promise a winter’s day out like no other. Enjoy the magic of snowfall as you take to the skating rink (ages 4+), take on the challenge of the 40 metre long extreme snow slide, visit the new Santa’s Grotto Experience and receive a quality gift and enjoy stacks of vintage Christmas rides, games and amusements for all the family. LAPLAND UK 1-24 December, BEWL WATER ESTATE, Lamberhurst, Kent TN3 8JH, 0871 620 7063, www.laplanduk.co.uk Now in its sixth year, LaplandUK will once again enchant thousands of children, parents and grandparents on a magical Christmas day out. With a Lapland UK passport, visitors travel along the Elves’ magical forest pathways to a snowy wonderland where first they visit the Toy Factory to help the Elves before moving on to Mother Christmas’ Kitchen to decorate gingerbread and gather for storytelling. It’s then skates on at the ‘ice’ rink in Elf Village before meeting LaplandUK’s resident huskies and reindeer. In his snowy woodland home, Father Christmas greets guests with a newly designed collectable soft toy husky dog to take home. The event is popular - 92% of previous visitors confirmed they would be likely to return. Tickets from £44.50. SANTA’S SPECIAL STEAM TRAIN 8+9, 15+16, 22+24 December, TENTERDEN TOWN STATION, Station Road, Tenterden, Kent TN30 6HE, 01580 76515, www.kesr.org.uk Climb aboard one of Kent and East Sussex Railway’s Santa Specials, and meet Santa during a return journey to Northiam Station. Look out too for the pixies whose sacks are full of lovely presents. Every child up to the age of 16 will receive a gift to take home and put under the tree. At the end of the journey, everyone can meet the beautiful Snow Queen. Tickets from £14.50 include the one hour ten minute train ride, a present for each child, a ride on a miniature railway and a colour portrait with the Snow Queen to take home. SPA VALLEY RAILWAY 1+2, 8+9, 15+16, 22-24 December, SPA VALLEY RAILWAY, West Station, Nevill Terrace, Royal Tunbridge Wells TN2 5QY, 01892 537715, www.spavalleyrailway.co.uk Take a steam train ride through the winter Wealden countryside, then meet Father Christmas in his magical grotto. Tickets £10 include a gift, under 2s free, book first. LAPLAND UK

december 2012 - families south east

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Family health Rose House Montessori School For children aged 2 – 11 years old

Amazing premises in converted church buildings. Hands-on, self paced, collaborative, challenging & joyful learning in an environment based on beauty, respect and peace. Award winning, Ofsted outstanding, Montessori MEAB accredited

Open days Early Years

Primary Years

20. October 2012 & 2. March 2013

24.November 2012 & 2. March 2013

10am-2pm St George’s Church Vancouver Road Forest Hill SE23 2AG

10am-2pm The Chapel on the Hill South Road Forest Hill SE23 2UJ

www.rose-house-montessori.com spectrummontessori@live.co.uk

Phone 07810 015698

Rock a bye baby (or not)

A better start in life

Nearly 70% of new parents rock their babies to sleep in order to get some well-earned rest. In a new survey by babyhuddle.com, this hands-on approach is by far the preferred option, followed by pushing the pram round the house, driving the car around the block and singing nursery rhymes to their little angels. However these findings are not music to the ears of professional sleep experts such as Jo Tantum, author of Baby Secrets. She advises: “Rocking a new baby to sleep is beneficial for bonding and breastfeeding, but as your baby gets older it leads to the baby needing that same sleep prop every time they want a nap in the day, or in order to sleep at night. If they wake up in the night, they will need that rocking again then, and since the parent is the one who has provided it, it usually leads to sleep deprivation and exhaustion in Mum and Dad, not to mention a bad back as your baby gets older and heavier!” Most parents underestimate the amount of sleep a newborn baby needs, which is as much as 15-18 hours a day. Jo explains, “Keeping a new baby awake for two hours is just too long as they are tired after just one hour of being awake. Often if a baby cries the mother assumes they are hungry and so they put their baby on the breast for feeding, and this inevitably leads to rocking. But if they learn to distinguish the baby’s ‘tired signs’, and allow her to settle themselves in the cot calmly before they become overtired, without them crying or getting upset they are teaching good sleep habits that will continue through toddlerhood and beyond.” For more on the survey, go to www.babyhuddle.com. To find more baby secrets from Jo Tantum, go to www.babysecretsltd.com, or follow @jotantum for free advice on Twitter. For more on the survey, go to www.babyhuddle.com.

The first three years of life can profoundly influence children’s life chances. The Big Lottery Fund (BIG) is investing £165 million in improving the life chances of over 10,000 of England’s most vulnerable babies. Evidence tell us that a child’s development at the age of two is an accurate predictor of its educational achievement at 26, and three-year-old boys assessed as ‘at-risk’ have two-and-a-half times the criminal convictions in early adulthood than ‘not-at-risk’ boys. The investment, called A Better Start, aims to stop harm to a child before it happens by providing the right support to parents in the crucial years between birth and the age of three. BIG will invest between £30 and £50 million in three to five local authority areas over the next ten years and gather evidence to demonstrate the benefit of support in the early years for children, society and the economy. BIG will ask local authorities and their partners to plan and invest for the long-term. BIG aims to work with all new parents in a target area and then to focus more support on the 20-30 per cent most in need. Full details of the Big Lottery Fund programmes and grant awards are available at www.biglotteryfund.org.uk.

A wee little helper Potty training is a developmental milestone that everyone wants to get out of the way, so anything that helps the process is welcome. Try a My Wee Friend sticker on the base of your child’s potty. When he or she ‘goes’, the sticker will reveal a smiley encouraging face. My Wee Friend is available in five different designs which last up to 12 weeks, priced £3.50 from www.kiddymania.co.uk.

Bug protection for babies Thousands of young children will be spared hospital stays and hundreds of thousands of GP visits caused by diarrhoea thanks to a new vaccination programme announced by the Department of Health. Planned to begin in September next year, the programme will see children under four months vaccinated against rotavirus - a highly infectious bug that causes around 140,000 diarrhoea cases a year in under fives. It leads to hospital stays for nearly one in ten who get it in the UK. Around 840,000 infants in the UK under four months will be offered the vaccine, given orally as two separate doses of liquid drops starting when they are two months old. It is estimated that the vaccine will halve the number of vomiting and diarrhoea cases caused by rotavirus and result in fewer stays in hospital, fewer GP and A&E visits and fewer calls to NHS Direct, saving the NHS around £20 million per year.

Talk to the Face(book) Seven in ten 13-17 years-old would be happy to connect more with parents and grandparents via social media, according to new survey results from technology provider Logicalis. With teenagers today almost permanently accessible via social media, the survey suggests that teens are more than willing to take the first steps in closing the digital divide between generations. Already, 70% are connected to parents and grandparents via social media sites, while almost eight in ten have helped a parent or grandparent access a website. When asked however, whether they felt better connected with friends or family online, almost half of the respondents replied that they felt closer to friends. This suggests that, whereas teenagers prioritise social media interaction, older generations underestimate its impact and importance. The results can be summarised: ‘You won’t get a grunt from a click’. If parents want to know and understand their teenagers, they should try taking advantage of social media forums and communicate on their teenagers’ terms. The full survey can be downloaded from the website www.uk.logicalis.com.

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Education News

Who says girls don’t do physics! Astrophysicist, forensic scientist, pharmacist and orthodontist; along with doctor and vet, these were just some of the scientific careers that the 68 girls of Year 8 at Sydenham High School said they aspired to pursue as they attempted to enter the world record books on 13 November. They were amongst some 2,400 girls at 26 GDST schools across the country measuring gravity in a bid to set the record for the world’s biggest practical science lesson in multiple venues. Two specific experiments recorded the value of acceleration due to gravity. One measured the time taken for an object to drop a set distance, and the other timed a swinging pendulum. Pupils who took part were all aged between 12 and 13. “I love physics and I’m really excited about being part of making science history,” said Betty Townley aged 12. The event was organised across the Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST) as part of this year’s 140th anniversary celebrations. “This exciting record attempt is also part of our own 125th anniversary celebration,” said Sydenham High’s Headteacher, Kathryn Pullen (shown in action). “It’s crucial to nurture more women scientists so it’s disturbing to think that nearly half of all co-ed maintained schools in England do not send even one girl on to do physics at A-level. At Sydenham High, around a quarter of our girls study physics in the Sixth Form and do very well. The enthusiasm from our Year 8 girls for participating in this experiment indicates that we’ll continue to buck some of the less encouraging educational trends.” The Girls’ Day School Trust is the leading group of independent girls’ schools in the UK, educating 20,000 pupils. In the southeast, girls achieve great things at Sydenham High, Streatham and Clapham High, Blackheath High and Bromley High schools. Read more at www.gdst.net.

Montessori Twelve Safe, caring, qualified childcare

A brand new Montessori for 0-5 year-olds, opening new year 2013  in Lewisham • Day nursery and pre-prep • Baby room and activity rooms for preschoolers • Montessori approach to Early Years Foundation stages • Music, dance, arts and crafts, trips out • Potty training • Nutritious home cooked meals and snacks • Set in a four storey house with a large garden • Open 8am to 6pm

Now enrolling! Call Cynthia on 07899 7211 65 w w w . m o n t e s s o r i t w e l v e . c o m

GYMBOREE HERNE HILL Award Winning Classes for 0-5’s

Book your FREE trial class today!

020 8123 8423 hernehill@gymboree-uk.com visit

We also run parties too!

www.gymboree-uk.com for further information

Registered charity:1093411

Big Schools’ Birdwatch The RSPB is signing up schools for the Big Schools’ Birdwatch, which will run from 21 January - 1 February 2013. Taking just one hour, the birdwatch can be carried out in school or by visiting a local outdoor space. The activity works across a wide age and ability range, and there is plenty of flexibility for schools to run it as simply as they would like. It could be used as a centrepiece of cross-curricular studies, project work or as part of work to improve school grounds. The activities can also be adapted for youth groups such as Brownies and Cubs. The RSPB supplies a free teacher’s pack with plenty of ideas and information, and families can join in with the Big Garden Birdwatch on 19 January, from www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch/

Guided Play A new app has been written and presented by Surrey primary school teacher Nick Myers, which aims to provide busy parents with a teacher led, quick reference tool for enriching playtimes. Nick explains: “Research suggests that the IQ of infant children may be elastic. If intelligence is not set, purposeful interactions during playtimes can increase a child’s future capacity for learning. Guided play can help parents and carers of infants to make the most of playtimes. The app contains 77 fun activity tips, over 500 key words to use during playtimes to advance children’s ability to learn, and 13 helpful video clips to support parents’ understanding of purposeful play. It also contains a useful Progress Summary feature enabling parents to track their children’s investigation and understanding of key words and concepts. Guided Play is available from the iStore for £1.49.

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WEAR A HAT DAY Thursday 28 th March

2013

REGISTER NOW | Tel: 01296 733011

www.braintumourresearch.org december 2012 - families south east

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Reading for Pleasure By Clare Burkhill-Howarth newspapers. The wise Mrs Palmer realised that the best way to encourage a reluctant reader is to find a subject that actually interests them. Fast forward to Tom’s successful career as a children’s author, specialising in writing about football! As Tom’s experience proves, magazines and comics can be an ideal means of encouraging children to enjoy reading. Who doesn’t remember reading The Beano as a child? In fact, the launch earlier this year of The Phoenix comic is testament to the lasting popularity of this genre. Published weekly, The Phoenix features work from popular children’s illustrators and runs occasional competitions with children’s authors. As parents we can worry that our children should be reading books rather than comics, but once they enjoy reading, their tastes tend to broaden over time.

Take a quick look around most homes with young children and what will you see? If your house is anything like mine, I’ll guarantee you’ll find a mountain of Lego, Playmobil, discarded dolls houses and the usual electronic games and handheld devices... oh, and of course, some books. Whilst children often have a bookshelf full of books, how do we encourage them to read for pleasure and to choose reading as an enjoyable activity, when they have so many other means of entertainment?

Face to face If your child needs a bit of encouragement to try and read something new, why not arrange for them to meet an author ‘in the flesh’. Attending book-related events is a fantastic way for children to see authors/ illustrators as ‘real’ people, who may or may not have loved reading as children, and to hear about what inspired them to create their stories. Local libraries and bookshops hold regular events with authors and these small group sessions encourage children to chat to authors informally and hear the authors tell stories in their own voices. Herne Hill bookshop Tales on Moon Lane and Bookseller Crow in Crystal Palace hold regular author events; Ink and Folly in Eltham has Teenager’s Book Club; and Dulwich Books; Kirkdale Books in Sydenham and Rye Books in East Dulwich all host free drop-in reading sessions for younger readers. For addresses, see page 5.

Capturing their interest Speaking at the Harrogate Children’s Festival earlier this year, author Tom Palmer claimed he was a reluctant reader as a child, until his mum channelled his passion for football by encouraging him to read about football in books, magazines and

Children reading: www.yourstrulyphotography.co.uk

Taking to the stage

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families south east - december 2012

Taking a child to see an adaptation of a children’s book at the theatre can be a magical experience, as they are drawn into the story unfolding before them, particularly if it is a familiar tale. Theatre companies excel in bringing to life adaptations of popular books, including Julia Donaldson’s much-loved books and classics like The Tiger Who Came to Tea. There are a whole host of book-related productions for children locally in the coming weeks. The Unicorn Theatre presents an adaptation of Mark Twain’s classic tale The Prince and the Pauper until 13 January and also transforms Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner into a Gothic adventure (30 January-7 February). Theatre Peckham takes inspiration from the newly-published Newspaper Boy and Origami Girl for its Christmas production (until 22 December), while The Albany in Deptford hosts Hiccup Theatre’s production of the classic fairy tale Rumpelstiltskin (until 28 December).

Bookish days out As well as including a visit to the theatre or library in your weekend plans, why not venture a bit further

afield? A number of book-related attractions now offer a whole range of events for children; Discover Children’s Story Centre in Stratford, east London hosts a variety of events all year round, including storytelling sessions, visits from authors and theatre productions. At various times throughout December, they will be holding ‘Snow Baby’ storytelling sessions for babies and toddlers.

Screen time If encouraging your children to read involves dragging them away from the iPad, then don’t overlook the benefits of apps and reading activities online. Nosy Crow, a publishing company which also specialises in producing apps for young children, has created an app based on Axel Scheffler’s latest creation Pip and Posy. Also worth looking out for is The Singing Alphabet app created by The Ministry of Letters. This catchy app was much-loved by my daughter when she was learning her letter sounds. Older children may enjoy visiting the websites of authors, which often offer interactive games and activities. The children’s book app market is relatively new and rapidly evolving so look out for new apps in the coming months.

A volume of options Finally, as well as encouraging children to read, let’s not overlook the simple power of a good book to capture the imagination of a young reader. I’ve heard tales of parents who say their child never picked up a book until one particular book grabbed them and they haven’t looked back since. For one friend, it was David Walliam’s The Boy in the Dress while for my younger son, it was The Diary of a Wimpy Kid that kept him up at night reading. So, while as parents we may worry that books are being relegated to a poor second in favour of all the other entertainment on offer, maybe we just need to make the most of the sheer volume of options available to us. We can take advantage of children’s enthusiasm for the online world to introduce them to new authors and apps, we can include an event that brings books alive as part of our weekend plans. And perhaps, most importantly, we can still sit down and share their favourite books with them.

About the author Clare Burkhill-Howarth runs Book Events for Children: a dedicated website and twitter feed listing book-related events for children across the UK. It is aimed at grandparents, teachers, parents and carers and features events at bookshops, literary festivals, theatres and libraries. The site also features additional content including interviews with authors, publishers and independent bookshops. Website: www.bookeventsforchildren.co.uk Twitter: @ChildBookEvents Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/BookEvents-for-Children/153098571484483

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The Bookseller Crow

is a fantastic, volume stuffed shop run by some of the most knowledgeable bookworms in the business. Call in for the feel of a real bookshop, or if you’re too busy, pick up the phone or point your mouse at their website for a fast mailorder service. Justine Crow recommends this month’s best titles. Ah, the season of panic is upon us. Panic at the shopping centre stacker because you can’t find any spaces; panic in the supermarket because all the non-battery happy, skippy turkeys have ‘use-by 24th Dec’ stickers; panic at the sorting office because none of the stuff you’ve ordered online has arrived (you’ll get no sympathy from me); panic because the last posting date is tomorrow and the only cards WHSmiffs have left have more glitter than Strictly. Fear not, for mighty dread need not seize your troubled mind (see what I did there?) as these and many other first world problems can be solved - just ‘shop local’ and you’ll be laughing. LET’S MAKE SOME GREAT PLACEMAT ART by Marion Deuchars - Laurence King rrp £8.95. You are much more likely to find this kind of thing in your local bookshop and I ain’t just talking about mine - thankfully, the Families South East demographic is humungously lucky to have access to more than several creative, colourful and knowledgeable independents. No really. We are all hanging on by the skin of our proverbials in order that you feel satisfied with the place you live in but we can be replaced in a trice by a takeaway outlet or betting shop. Placemat art is a brilliant way to keep the kids occupied at the loooong Christmas (there, I’ve used the word now) lunch, otherwise I’ll wager they’ll be more bored than you were at their Christmas assembly. NEW YORK IN PYJAMARAMA by Michael Leblond & Frederique Bertrand - Phoenix Yard Books rrp £9.99. This is a bonkers book for under the covers that, with the aid of a state of the art piece of technical genius - that’ll be a sheet of over-printed plastic magically transforms hitherto perfectly pleasant images of buildings etc into moving, grooving, flashing action-scapes of the city that doesn’t sleep. A PIRATE’S TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS by Philip Yates, illustrated by Sebastia Serra - Sterling rrp £6.99. “On the first day of Christmas a gift was sent to me - a parrot in a palm tree..” We all know the tune, now chuck in a bunch of mermaids, some swimmin’ dolphins, “five chests of goooooold!” and I haven’t had this much yuletide fun since I taught my nephew Dinky Bill the words to ‘Jingle Bells, Batman Smells’. Don’t tell my sister. Mindyou, she was party to Trasha’s uncanny rendition of I’m Just a Teenage Dirtbag, Baby when she was just three years old. Went down a storm with the elderly neighbours who’d popped round. THE DIGGERS ARE COMING by Susan Stegall - Frances Lincoln rrp £11.99. A beautifully crafted one for the small boy in your life that loves anything that bbrrmms. I might be shamelessly stereotyping but I’m not making it up. I mean, my lad knew how to roll a Hotwheels car before he could walk and long before he could talk, and he had two Barbie obsessed sisters. Well one. Trasha mainly used hers for voodoo type revenge. But I’d like to know what little boys did in the old days before steam and combustion. Did they hanker after toy stage coaches and market barrows? Hah! Ye Olde HotRodde Horse & Cart Toye, the ideal gift for the young master of the house. Not yet available on ye Worlde Wide Webbe. DIARY OF A CHRISTMAS WOMBAT by Jackie French & Bruce Whatley - Harpercollins £6.99. This picture book has all the essential festive elements - reindeer, sleigh, stockings and carrots. Oh, and a wombat. Yes, you heard correctly. ALPHABET by Alain Gree - Button Books rrp £9.99. Reminiscent of the sort of the uncomplicated illustrated books we used to treasure in the days before computers came along and made it easy to churn out any old printed rubbish, it comes with a ‘this book belongs to..’ label and a reversible book jacket that doubles as a poster for the playroom wall. Should you be heartless enough to remove it. He’s also produced some charming but necessarily robust board books in that same simple style including MY FIRST BOOK OF COLOURS and MY FIRST BOOK OF NUMBERS, rrp £4.99 each. FAIRIES AT BEDTIME by Karen Wallace & Lou Kuenzler - Watkins rrp £14.99. Shamelessly spiritual, these alternative bedtime stories and affirmations will bring out the inner-hippy in your feisty miniature bundle of tiaras and tantrums and in no time at all, they’ll be flicking the ‘P’s not the ‘V’s. And shamelessly stocking-fillerishly, might I recommend a stunning selection of small retro books from The New York Review? Afterall, you won’t find the likes of WOLF STORY, a tantalizingly episodic

adventure by William McCleery & Warren Chappell, rrp £9.99, in Smiffs. Nor THE SILVER NUTMEG, rrp £9.99, with a drawing by Palmer Brown on every page. And by the same author, exquisitely rendered in a smaller sock size, CHEERFUL £7.99, and topically, SOMETHING FOR CHRISTMAS rrp £6.99. Also from the same classy stable comes HE WAS THERE FROM THE DAY WE MOVED IN, rrp £9.99 by Rhoda Levine with drawings by the - cue overused but utterly appropriate adjective - sublime Edward Gorey. Still with stocking fillers, remember the I-Spy books? From those heady journeys when children happily bounced un-belted on the backseat while father puffed on his pipe at the wheel and mother called out things for them to spot and tick off. Fully updated (though a retro spotter would be fun - milk floats, phone boxes, coal mines, Woolworths, five pound notes..), there are lots in the series from Michelin rrp £4.99, including I-SPY IN THE GARDEN, I-SPY ON THE MOTORWAY, I-SPY ON A CAR JOURNEY IN FRANCE (how deliciously East Dulwich, darling) and I-SPY GREEN BRITAIN. I am especially taken by I-SPY EXPLORE LONDON for some really satisfying ticking, everywhere from Carnaby Street to Clink Street. For older readers, there’s the new Sherlock Holmes, HOUSE OF SILK by Anthony Horowitz, Orion £7.99 and the fine boxed set WORLD OF DAVID WALLIAMS containing all the novels to get your twelve year old thoroughly addicted from HarperCollins rrp £27.99. If you are looking for last minute ideas for even older readers, like ancient ones over say, fourteen, there’s the weirdly brilliant STICKY MONSTERS by John Kenn Mortenson, Square Peg rrp £7.99 featuring a series of creatures doodled on Post-It notes (yeah, yeah. Anyone can do that, I hear you say. But as with Picasso, they didn’t, did they). And my personal favourite for the more mature festive hosiery, the POCKET ATLAS OF REMOTE ISLANDS by Judith Schalansky, Penguin rrp £12.99, starring fifty isles that the author has no intention of ever setting foot upon, such as Christmas Island, home to 150 million crabs. Reason enough, methinks to not actually get out of the armchair. LONDONERS by Craig Taylor - Granta rrp £9.99. “An epic portrait in 80 voices,” says the Guardian. Who am I to argue? FIFTY SHEDS OF GREY - Macmillan rrp £9.99. A selection of outhouse pleasure and pain for the male member (no, wait) of your household, includes risqué pics of potting shelves, creaking doors and sagging roofs. A LADYBIRD BOOK OF KNITTING - Ladybird rrp £4.99. It may be a vintage edition with 5p Net on this inside to whet the appetite for a little light whinging on the price of books today, but it contains real live knitting and you can’t get that on the internet. And remember books will always be pricey to produce, it’s just the publishers that devalue their books by allowing others to flog them at a loss. Hence that annoyingly perpetual ‘rrp’. The fools.. And while we are flogging things, a final mention for the ultimate stocking filler, THE LITTLE BOOK OF NITS by Richard Jones and, er, me, Bloomsbury rrp £7.99 (I actually had to check that up). Now, as I am somewhat averse to going into other bookshops to nag them to stock our book, on account of all the insistent authors I’ve been subjected to over the years, you may have to go in and stamp your foot on our behalf. Feel free. I don’t mind boasting that in our shop it has outsold that global phenomenon, Fifty Shades of Gulp. But then again, head lice are a global phenomenon too, eh? Scratch. Scratch. (And possibly more likely in the average family home than, um, sex..) So the message is this Christmas save on sanity and petrol and perpetuate the community pound by using your neighbourhood retailers and in the immortal words of Corporal Jones, don’t panic (Murrays the butchers in Penge is gonna get a right hammering from me). Otherwise, it really will be the case of the well-worn adage that in London you are never more than ten feet away from a rat or a chicken shop. So spread the love. Happy Christmas!

The Bookseller Crow, 50 Westow St. Crystal Palace, London SE19 3AF Telephone: 020 8771 8831 email: info@booksellercrow.co.uk www.booksellercrow.co.uk w w w. f a m ww ww w .. ff a am m ii ll ii e es ss se e .. c co o .. u uk k w

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LYRIC – ROOM ON THE BROOM

PISTACHIO’S CAFE – THE DINOSAUR’S FIRST XMAS

What’sOn Find even more activities: www.familiesse.co.uk then click What's On

CHURCHILL - PETER PAN

Holiday Workshops THEATREBUGS’ FESTIVE FUNDAYS 15 December in BLACKHEATH and ELTHAM, 22 December in LEE and GREENWICH, 020 8244 2036, email binaandpam@theatrebugs.co.uk Book up for a jolly Christmas party based on the magical story of ‘Where is Santa?’, with merry music, dancing, arts, crafts and festive games! Have a delicious Christmas Tea Party with the Magical Christmas Fairy or the real Father Christmas himself, receive an early Christmas gift and have your photo taken with the special guest. Put on your favourite festive costume - the Bugs will dress up too! The one day workshop is suitable for 3 1/2 years to 8 years and cost £25, with a 10% sibling discount available.

EXAM REVISION COURSE 18-21 December and 8-11 January 2013, THE EDUCATION CENTRE, 23 Lewisham High Street, London SE13 5AF, 020 8318 2106, www.theedcentre.co.uk Give your child more practice and a boost to their confidence with the Education Centre. In a group setting, pupils will engage with others, and see how well they perform in comparison to others; competition is encouraged. Exam and revision techniques, accuracy and time management skills are taught and pupils have the opportunity to sit mock tests in an examination environment at the end of the revision course. The course is suitable for all 11+ grammar and independent school entrance exams coming up in January.

Theatre, Shows and Music

finish by parading through the park. Whole day. MUSIC BOX, 3 January 2013. John Soane loved to use mirrors to reflect light. Make your own reflective box and watch things disappear before your eyes! Whole day..

INTENSIVE TOUCH TYPING School holidays and weekends, YES TUITION and Training, Sydenham, 020 7515 1707, www.yes-tuitionandtraining.co.uk Learn a new skill with a touch typing courses run by YES. Children find them fun, and they work - most children are tapping away proficiently in just ten hours. Sessions can be booked to fit around other holiday commitments so children can progress at their own pace. Termtime classes also available.

ROOM ON THE BROOM 21 November - 13 January 2013, LYRIC THEATRE, Shafstbury Avenue W1D 8ES, 0844 412 4661, www.roomonthebroomlive.co.uk The witch and her cat are flying happily along on their broomstick when a gust of wind blows her hat, bow and wand away into the night. With the help of a daft dog, a beautiful bird and a friendly frog, the lost belongings are retrieved. But this broomstick’s not meant for five and - CRACK! - it snaps in two! When a hungry dragon appears, who will save the poor witch; and will there ever be room on the broom for everyone? The production is based on the best-selling book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, and is from the creators of The Gruffalo. Ages 3+.

THE SNOWMAN MUNCHKINS HOLIDAY COOKING 17-22 December and 2-4 January, 29-31 October in BLACKHEATH, 020 8269 1331, www.blackheathcooks.com At Munchkins’ popular holiday workshops, children are kept busy making their own lunch or tea and a snack to eat at breaktime, plus lots of tasty goodies to take home and share, These action-packed workshops give 4-11 year olds a great opportunity to get messy, be creative and develop their cookery skills within a range of different themes. 9am12.30pm, £42 per person, per day.

SIR JOHN SOANE’S MUSEUM

INKHEAD CREATIVE WRITING WORKSHOPS

13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, WC2A 3BP, 020 7440 4263, www.soaneeducation.org.uk Develop a skill or explore Soane’s treasures with specialist guidance. Dates/times vary, 7+yrs, whole day workshops 10.30am-3pm - £20, half days 10.30am-12.30pm or 2-4pm - £12. ILLUMINATIONS FOR THE NEW YEAR, 2 January 2013. Light up the New Year by making spectacular lanterns in different shapes, sizes and colours and

2-4 January 2013 in HERNE HILL and BLACKHEATH, 07943 514408, www.inkhead.co.uk Inkhead’s three day Exam Busters course covers the creative writing and use of English as part of school entrance exams. Writers who love words show the difference between writing to persuade, argue or advise and writing creatively. The course shows how to plot a story and write within a time constraint. Ages 7-14 years, 10am-1pm each day, £135 per child.

15 December, FAIRFIELD HALLS, Park Lane, Croydon CR9 1DG, 020 8688 9291, www.fairfield.co.uk A live performance of Howard Blake’s score with a screening of the much-loved film of Raymond Brigg’s classic story. Before that, conductor Christopher Bell will lead the audience in a foot-tapping, key rattling, audience participation concert of Christmas classics. 3pm start, tickets from £12.

THE DINOSAUR’S FIRST XMAS 19 December, PISTACHIO’S CAFE, Manor House Gardens, Hither Green, 0780 107 2776, www.theatretots.com Joe the time traveller has been given the job of dancing back in time to give the dinosaurs their first Christmas. It turns out to be the best journey he has ever made. The show is a 30 minute performance and 30 minutes workshop, suitable for 0-7 year-olds. Tickets £6 per child or £10 for two. Book first.

LITTLE CHARLEY BEAR’S CHRISTMAS ADVENTURE 5-24 December, AMBASSADORS THEATRE,

West Street WC2H 9ND, 08448 112 334, www.theambassadorstheatre.co.uk Little Charley Bear is a much-loved preschool show about a little bear who loves to use his imagination to play and go on adventures with friends from his toy box. In a fun and engaging family show; where children can get involved shouting ‘Are you there, Little Charley Bear?’ and then try and guess what Little Charley Bear is pretending to be. Enjoy songs, games and laughter and of course a visit from Santa. Tickets from £5.

NEWSPAPER BOY AND ORIGAMI GIRL 4-22 December, THEATRE PECKHAM, Havil Street SE5 7SD, 020 7708 5401, www.theatrepeckham.co.uk When a group of bullies steal a poor newspaper boy’s money, his bag suddenly flies into the air and the newspapers transform into a super-heroine Origami Girl! Joey is then whisked away on a hair-raising chase with his new vigilante friend in order to confront the bullies. This enchanting tale of courage unfolds with a cast of young people chosen from Theatre Peckham’s workshops, alongside professional actors. With original music, songs and choreography, this is a super-magical show to delight children and grown up people alike.

CHRISTMAS BALLET LONDON COLISEUM, St Martin's Lane, Charing Cross WC2N 4ES, 0871 911 0200, www.ballet.org.uk THE NUTCRACKER, 12 December - 5 January. Journey back in time to a frost-covered, gas-lit London and join Clara, her Nutcracker and the magician Drosselmeyer in this traditional festive tale for all the family. Tickets from £10. SLEEPING BEAUTY, 9-19 January. Kenneth MacMillan’s production of the popular classic is the perfect way to bring some sparkle into your New Year. Tickets from £10.

Christmas Pantos CINDERELLA 15 December - 6 January 2013, BROADWAY THEATRE, Rushey Green, Catford SE6 4RU, 020 8690 0002, www.broadwaytheatre.org.uk The most popular pantomime of all comes to the Broadway, with a cast of west end stars, fabulous costumes and a show packed with laughter and fun. Starring Floella Benjamin, John Lyons and Andrew Hayden-Smith. Tickets from £10.

020 8463 2000, www.theo2.co.uk The evil sorcerer Abanazar wishes to find a magic lamp to grant him untold power. This lamp is in the hands of Aladdin, who works at a Chinese Laundry alongside his mother Widow Twankey. After falling for a beautiful princess he gains great happiness and fortune at the hands of the lamp’s genie. But Abanazar still wants it for himself and will stop at nothing to get it. The show stars Paul O’Grady as Lily Savage, as Widow Twankey.

PETER PAN Until 6 January 2013, CHURCHILL THEATRE, 08448 717 620, www.atgtickets.com/bromley Take a trip to Neverland as Peter Pan, Wendy, the Lost Boys and Tinkerbell take to the stage. With spectacular sets and costumes, pirate ships, crocodiles, and Captain Hook and Smee to boo and hiss at, Peter Pan is fantastic seasonal fun for everyone aged 3 to 103! Starring Jennifer Wllison, Ace Bhatti, Andrew Agnew and Gemma Hunt. Tickets from £14.

ALADDIN - A WISH COME TRUE Until 6January, O2 ARENA, Peninsula Square, Greenwich SE10 0DX,

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ROBIN HOOD Until 6 January, GREENWICH THEATRE, Crooms Hill, Greenwich SE10 8ES, 020 8858 7755, www.greenwichtheatre.org.uk While the whole of Nottingham cowers under the rule of the evil sheriff, one man offers a ray of hope. Hiding out in Sherwood Forest with his merry men, Robin Hood continues to get the better of the sheriff, stealing from him and his cronies and giving the money to the poor. However, when the Sheriff decides to hold an archery contest to bring Robin out into the open, our hero may be about to face his most exciting challenge yet. With the hand of Maid Marian at stake, and a chance to defeat the sheriff once and for all, can Robin really refuse the chance of a lifetime?

The production is an all-singing, all-dancing pantomime treat. Tickets from £19, children half price.

JACK AND THE BEANSTALK Until 6 January, FAIRFIELD HALLS, Park Lane, Croydon CR9 1DG, 020 8688 9291, www.fairfield.co.uk Comedy, audience participation, breath-taking special effects and the tallest man in Europe take to the stage in a spectacular family pantomime. Stars Lalla Morse, Sid Sloane and Neil Fingleton. Tickets from £16.50.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 6-29 December, SHAW THEATRE, 100-110 Euston Road NW1 2AH, www.shawtheatre.com TV Presenter Alison Hammond from “ITV’s This Morning” will be spreading some fairy dust and Eggheads C J de Mooi will be providing the boos as the resident baddie and will be joined by Oliver Mellor. Pantomime Dame Rodney Ward and Harry Potter’s Rusty Goffe will join a supporting cast and dancers in this festive extravaganza.

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AMBASSADORS – LITTLE CHARLEY BEAR

BLOOMSBURY – TOM’S MIDNIGHT GARDEN

59 MINUTES TO SAVE CHRISTMAS

WALKING WITH DINOSAURS

15 December - 6 January, THE BARBICAN, Silk Street , London EC2 8DS, 020 7638 8891, www.barbican.org.uk Everyone loves Christmas, don’t they? How could they possibly NOT? Well someone doesn’t because things are very, very wrong - Christmas trees are behaving strangely, there are rumours of grumpy fairies and elves throwing baubles at shoppers. Someone is out to spoil the fun and the clock is ticking. Intrepid families are invited to join an interactive journey with Slung Low, where there are only 59 minutes to save Christmas. Tickets £12.

Until 5 January, O2 ARENA, Peninsula Square, Greenwich SE10 0DX, 020 8463 2000, www.theo2.co.uk Based on the award-winning BBC television series, the arena spectacular sees Tyrannosaurus Rex and his awe-inspiring life-size pals return to stalk UK shores once more, as these pre-historic giants get set to astound, thrill and educate a brand new generation of budding palaeontologists nationwide. Tickets from £29.

CHRISTMAS IN GREENWICH St ALFEGE CHURCH, Greenwich High Street SE10 9BJ, 020 8853 0687, www.st-alfege.org ADVENT WINDOWS, until 24 December. Local residents and businesses unveil a window for each day of advents. Their design is based on a theme chosen by the Vicar and each window is interpreted in differents ways. Once all the windows are open they are on display until 2 January. BACH TO BABY CONCERT, 14 December. A classical concert presented by Miaomiao Yu award-winning concert pianist and founder of the critically acclaimed concert series, Classics with My Baby. 10.30am, adults £10, children free. CHRISTMAS NATIVITY PLAY, 16 December. 10am: all age Eucharist, 6.30pm: nine lessons and carols. CHRISTMAS EVE, 24 December. Christingle family service at 5pm, Choir carols at 10.45pm, Midnight mass at 11.30pm.

UNICORN THEATRE UNICORN THEATRE, 147 Tooley Street SE1 2HZ, 020 7645 0560, www.unicorntheatre.com THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER, until 13 January 2013. Set in a Tudor London so vibrant you can smell the potato-peelings, poor Tom Canty has a chance meeting with the young heir to the throne, Prince Edward - and by pure coincidence they find they look almost identical. Mark Twain’s classic tale of confused identities tells the story of what happens when the one is mistaken for the other: Tom Canty is forced into the world of the court and power, while Edward is cast down into a world of poverty and thieves, from which he must fight his way back to the Court. Part traditional and part fantastical, a riotous show for all the family. Ages 6+. THE PRESENT, 13 January - 27 February 2013. Join theatre-makers Hannah Ringham and Ansuman Biswas in a glorious participatory theatrical game exploring the mystery and pleasure of wrapping, receiving, giving and sharing. Ages 4-6 years. LIAR, LIAR, 31 January - 6 March 2013. Acclaimed writer E V Crowe’s latest play is a contemporary tale about a young girl who knows the truth can be dangerous... Ages 13-16 years.

RUMPLESTILTSKIN 8-28 December, ALBANY THEATRE, Douglas Way, Deptford SE8 4AG, 020 8692 4446, www.thealbany.org.uk Hiccup Theatre’s production follows the original plot of the story, with four actor musicians, a real onstage campfire, and a fanatastical, sneaky, cheeky Rumpelstiltskin puppet. Tickets £8 children, £9.50 adults.

INSPIRING EXCELLENCE IN INDIVIDUAL TUITION FOR: INTENSIVE WINTER REVISION COURSE for independent school common entrance examinations for January 2013 18th-21st December 2012 and 8th-11th January 2013 •11 PLUS Preparation for Grammar school entrance examinations? •COMMON ENTRANCE Preparation for 7 PLUS – 13 PLUS Independent school entrance examinations •GCSE Preparation in Mathematics, Science or English • AS & A2 Preparation in Mathematics or Science We are now enrolling Year 5 pupils for Year 7 entry into Grammar and Independent schools

TOM’S MIDNIGHT GARDEN 12 December - 19 January 2013, BLOOMSBURY THEATRE, 020 7388 8822, www.thebloomsbury.com Tom has always been told it’s impossible to travel back in time, but when the grandfather clock in the hallway chimes thirteen times, Tom is transported to a secret garden from the past. Here he meets Hatty and together these two new friends enjoy fantastic adventures in a magical wonderland. But with each new journey through time, strange things begin to happen - and Tom must solve the mystery of the midnight garden. Tom’s Midnight Garden features incredible illusions, spellbinding music and an extraordinary cast that will take you on a thrilling journey and enthral children (ages 4+) and adults alike.

SLAVIA’S SNOWSHOW 17 December - 7 January, ROYAL FESTIVAL HALL, Belvedere Road, South Bank SE1 8XX, 0845 875 0073, www.southbankcentre.co.uk Created and staged by Slava, this visual masterpiece is loved by children and adults alike. A combination of theatrical clowning and stunning spectacle, the show is performed by a highly renowned company of clowns, creating a dream-like world where one extraordinary image melts into another culminating in a stunning finale leaving the audience literally knee-deep in snow. Ages 8+, tickets from £20.

THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS Until 24 December, FAIRFIELD HALLS, Park Lane, Croydon CR9 1DG, 020 8688 9291, www.fairfield.co.uk A magical festive tale for families and children aged 2-8. Includes a meet and greet with Santa and a free gift. Tickets from £10.

DEAR FATHER CHRISTMAS 13-24 December, GREENWICH THEATRE, Crooms Hill, Greenwich SE10 8ES, 020 8858 7755, www.greenwichtheatre.org.uk There’s trouble at the North Pole, Father Christmas needs help... Everything is going wrong at Father Christmas’ house. The presents are all muddled up, a whole sack of letters has gone astray, the elves are in a panic and Father Christmas’ best friend, the North Pole Polar Bear, has gone missing. There will be stories, songs and decoration making and you can even meet the jolly man himself and his motley crew of helpers, in this interactive adventure for young children and their families. Ages 3-6, tickets £8.50 children, £11.50 adults.

HANSEL AND GRETEL 7 December - 26 January, Cottesloe Theatre, NATIONAL THEATRE, Southbank SE1 9PX, 020 7452 3000, www.nationaltheatre.org.uk A trail of breadcrumbs; and a bewitching house

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School’s out! Christmas break 17 – 21, 24⁺, 27, 28, 31⁺ December and 2 – 4 January 10:00am – 4:30pm

Jigsaw Japes Draw your favourite Museum object on a pre-cut jigsaw to take home. Will it be a banknote or a gold bar, the old iron chest or the muskets once used to defend the Bank? You’ll be spoilt for choice. ⁺Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve 10:00am – 1:00pm

Admission free 10am – 5pm Monday to Friday. Closed weekends and public holidays. Entrance in Bartholomew Lane, London EC2R 8AH. Tel: 020 7601 5545 www.bankofengland.co.uk/museum december 2012 - families south east

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ALBANY – RUMPLESTILTSKIN

MoreWhat’sOn Find even more activities: www.familiesse.co.uk then click What's On

UNICORN - THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER

JULIEN COTTEREAU

CLOUD MAN

13-24 December, SOUTHBANK CENTRE, Belvedere Road, South Bank SE1 8XX, 0845 875 0073, www.southbankcentre.co.uk Enter a world of pure imagination and wonder with this former star clown from Cirque du Soleil. Julien Cottereau uses only the potent powers of the imagination and a startling variety of vocal sound effects to have the whole family in stitches. A very special show for everyone! Ages 4+, tickets £15.

22 December - 6 January 2013, ROYAL FESTIVAL HALL, Belvedere Road, South Bank SE1 8XX, 0845 875 0073, www.southbankcentre.co.uk Cloudia has always had her head in the clouds. A cloud expert, she has dreamt all her life of seeing a Cloud Man - extremely rare creatures who live a quiet life high up in the sky. Featuring a blend of puppetry, storytelling and sumptuous visuals, Cloud Man is a 45-minute show suitable for children aged four to seven years and their families. Tickets £6 children, £12 adults.There is also a chance for children to make their very own Cloud Man puppet at free drop-in workshops on 27+28 December and 2- 4 January.

SCROOGE THE MUSICAL Until 5 January 2013, LONDON PALLADIUM, Argyll Street W1F 7TF, 020 7492 9930, www.reallyuseful.com Bridging the gap between ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, Bill Kenwright’s family musical returns to the West End.

THE SNOWMAN 28 November - 6 January, PEACOCK THEATRE, Portugal Street WC2A, 0870 737 0337, www.sadlerswells.com The stage adaptation of Raymond Briggs’ classic Christmas tale of a young boy whose snowman comes to life on Christmas Eve. Compete with characters literally flying through the air in crisp, snow-strewn skies.

TOO MANY PENGUINS? Until 16 February 2013, POLKA THEATRE, 240 The Broadway, Wimbledon SW19 1SB, 020 8543 4888, www.polkatheatre.com How many penguins are too many penguins? Polar bear thinks one is more than enough, thank you very much! 1-4yrs, £8-£10.

made of sweets. Following ‘The Cat in the Hat’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast’, Katie Mitchell returns to the National Theatre to stage the classic fairytale as an intimate and magical new production. Hansel and Gretel promises to be an enchanting and eerie Christmas treat. Ages 7-10, tickets from £12.

SOOTY IN SPACE 21 December - 5 January, DUCHESS THEATRE, 3-5 Catherine Street WC2B 5LA, 0844 482 9672, www.nimaxtheatres.com/duchess-theatre We have blast off! Join Sooty, Sweep, Sue and Richard in a festive adventure with magic and lots of audience participation.

THE SNOWMAN/ PETER AND THE WOLF 22+23 December, THE BARBICAN, Silk Street , London EC2 8DS, 020 7638 8891, www.barbican.org.uk A matinee double bill of enchanting musical stories. Featuring the famous Howard Blake song ‘Walking in the air’, Raymond Briggs’ beloved animated film The Snowman is given a special screening in the Barbican Hall, complete with live musical accompaniment from the Orchestra of Welsh National Opera, conducted by Benjamin Wallfisch and introduced by actress Tamsin Greig. This is followed by Prokofiev’s enduring work for orchestra and narrator, Peter and the Wolf. Peter and his animal companions are brought to life by narrator Tamsin Greig and a bevy of memorable characters portrayed by dancing strings, quacking oboes, fluttering flutes and prowling horns in this charming tale of courage and compassion. Tickets £12.50 children, £25 adults.

HORRIBLE HISTORIES - BARMY BRITAIN Until 6 January 2013, GARRICK THEATRE, 2 Charing Cross Road, London WC2 0HH, 08444 12 4662, www.barmybritainlive.com British history is full of barmy people who did nasty things to each other. With blood, battles, murder and mayhem, the show explores stories from Roman, Tudor, Stuart, Georgian, Victorian and the wars, featuring famous figures such as Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Guy Fawkes, Florence Nightingale and General Earl Haig. Ages 6+, tickets from £10.

Events & Exhibitions SOUTHBANK WINTER FESTVAL Until 7 January 2013, SOUTHBANK SE1, www.southbankcentre.co.uk/winter Southbank Centre is transformed into a festival landscape with a twist for this year’s winter festival. Explore art installations across the site, including vibrant blue lights, a festive take on a giant African baobab tree and a seasonally dressed bandstand on Southbank Centre Square. There are shows for all ages, from a beat-boxing clown and darkly comic cabaret, to candlelit classical concerts and baby opera. These run alongside a programme of free events, including choirs singing by the river and gigs in the Royal Festival Hall foyer. Visitors can all join in, from dancing on The Clore Ballroom to making Christmas cards and presents. Many bustling Christmas markets offer everything from unique presents made by up-and-coming UK designers to all manner of traditional festive food.

THE NATIONAL LUKETIAN MUSEUM OF NATURALS HISTORY, PUPPETRY, SPACE TECHNOLOGIE AND FARMING 13-16 December, SEE3 COMMUNITY HUB, 27 Sydenham Road SE26, www.spontaneousproductions.co.uk Eastern Europe’s answer to the Smithsonian is making a whistle-stop

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tour of the UK before heading to South America and Rio 2016. Don’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to sample unique delights including a catalogue of antique bones, storytelling tent, puppetry demonstration and more, in the strangest museum you’ll ever visit. It is advised that this is not suitable for young children. Open 11am-1pm and 2-4pm, plus 6-9pm on 14 December, admission free; donations welcome.

SEE3 LANTERN PROCESSION AND FESTIVE FAIR 15 December, SYDENHAM and FOREST HILL, www.see3.co.uk Join the children’s Lantern Procession along Sydenham, Kirkdale and Forest Hill, with lantern-making workshops, special treats and more. Forest Hill Pools will be all Christmassy with a market just outside the main entrance on Dartmouth Road, showcasing the best local talent, offering hand-crafted trinkets, wooden toys, jewellery, candles, ceramics, vintage accessories and Christmas tree decorations. 10am-5pm.

‘STRICTLY CHRISTMAS’ IN LADYWELL 15 December, various venues including the outside of LADYWELL TRAIN STATION, Railway Terrace SE13 7XA

Organised by the Ladywell Village Improvement Group (LVIG), ‘Strictly Christmas’ takes its inspiration from the popular BBC television show ‘Strictly Come Dancing’. There’ll be plenty of glitter and glamour including a Christmas food and gift market, face painting and surprises for children, and dressing and lighting the village Christmas tree with guest choirs. Businesses supporting LVIG and taking part include: El’s Kitchen which won London Deli of the Year award in 2011; retro gift shop Slater and King; Oscar’s CafÈ; Geddes hair and beauty therapy; Ladywell Village Cycles; Sunrise Ceramics with its handmade pottery; Rose Corner the florist; Ladywell DIY and the village pub, the Ladywell Tavern.

SEE3 SYDENHAM FESTIVE FOOD AND GIFT MARKET 16 December, Station Approach, Sydenham SE26 5EU, www.see3.co.uk The Sydenham Festive Food Market will be popping up to serve top class street food and festive treats. There’ also be live music and street entertainment. The market will give savvy locals an opportunity to connect with the prolific London street food scene and give local makers, food producers and small independent businesses the opportunity to present their wares. 10am-4pm.

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FAIRFIELD HALLS – NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS

ROYAL FESTIVAL HALL – SLAVIAS SNOWSHOW

TDLP INTERACTIVE CHRISTMAS PARTIES 15+18 December, St HILDA’S UNDERCROFT, Brockley Road, Crofton Park SE4 2DQ, 0781 717 6018, info@tdlp.co.uk With Head Elf putting the factory on strike and the fairy forever falling off the top of the Christmas tree, how is Santa going to hold it all together? Boogie and sing away to original Tea Dance for Little People classics as well as a few new surprises in their stockings. An interactive party for all the family (aimed at 0-8 year olds). 4.15 and 5.45pm starts, £6 per child, free for siblings under 2. Book first.

HYDE PARK WINTER WONDERLAND 23 November - 6 January 2013, HYDE PARK, London, 0844 858 6755, www.hydeparkwinterwonderland.com The capital’s most popular and dazzling winter event returns for its sixth year. Set across 20 acres of historic parkland, attractions include the UK’s biggest outdoor ice rink, a giant observation wheel, funfair and thrill

rides, Zippos Circus and Cirque Beserk, a Bavarian Village, traditional Christmas market and festive food and drink. Open 10am-10pm daily, admission free. Skating and show tickets can be bought in advance.

CHRISTMAS PARTY FOR LITTLE ONES 21 December, St MICHAEL’S CHURCH HALL, Pond Road, Blackheath SE3, tickets from Theatre Tots 0780 107 2776, www.theatretots.com Theatre Tots, Boppin Bunnies and Diddi Dance are joining forces to host a fabulous Christmas party for little ones. There’ll be a fancy dress parade and 90 minutes of stories, dancing, music, dressing up and arts and crafts. 10.30am-12noon, tickets £6 children, £10 for two. Proceeds will raise funds for Demelza Children’s Hospice in Eltham. Book first.

FAMILY EVENTS AT THE HORNIMAN HORNIMAN MUSEUM and gardens, 100 London Road, Forest Hill SE23, 020 8699 1872, www.horniman.ac.uk

JULIEN COTTEREAU

Museum open 10.30am-5.30pm daily, general admission free, charges apply for special exhibitions and the aquarium. The museum’s music gallery and hands-on base, regular weekend and holiday drop-ins and workshops allow family visitors to explore the collection through arts and crafts, music, stories and hands-on sessions. All this within 16 acres of beautiful green space. XMAS DECORATIONS 15 December. Fashion some festive decorations to take home. Ages 5+, 12.30 and 2.30pm starts, free. OPAL FLUTES CHRISTMAS CONCERT, 16 December. A seasonal performance from London’s only flute choir. 4-4pm, free. BODY ADORNED, until 6 January 2013. Over time, saris, tattoo parlours, nail bars, distended ears and scarification have become a visible, everyday part of the London cityscape. But how did cultural adornments become integrated into urban London life? The exhibition considers how the movement of people, objects and ideas influenced London dress in the past and explores body adornment in today’s world city of London.

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december 2012 - families south east

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GARRICK – HORRIBLE HISTORIES

DUCHESS – SOOTY IN SPACE

MoreWhat’sOn Find even more activities: www.familiesse.co.uk then click What's On PEACOCK – THE SNOWMAN

MUSEUM OF LONDON DOCKLANDS MUSEUM OF LONDON DOCKLANDS, West India Quay E14, 020 7001 9844, www.museumoflondon.org.uk/docklands Open daily 10am-6pm, admission free. Regular programmes of weekend and holiday events and workshops help visitors find out more about London’s history, covering events such as the Great Plague, Londoners’ jobs and occupations, and Roman life. XMAS DECORATIONS 15 + 22 December. Fashion some festive decorations to take home. Ages 5+, 12.30 and 2.30pm starts, free. SANTA’S VICTORIAN GROTTO, 8-23 December. Meet Santa in his very own grotto, tell him your Christmas wishes, receive a special present and have your picture taken with him. £5, book first on 020 7001 9844. CHRISTMAS STORY TIME, 27 December. Enjoy a festive story told using puppets, museum objects and music, then play in the Mudlarks children’s gallery. 10.30, 11.30 and 2pm starts. SCROOGE’S GROTTO, 27-31 December. Meet old Ebeneezer and share your Christmas grievances, or try to cheer him up in order to win a late Christmas gift. £5, book first on 020 7001 9844.

MUSEUM OF LONDON EVENTS MUSEUM OF LONDON, London Wall EC2Y 5HN, 020 7001 9844, www.museumoflondon.org.uk Open daily 10am-6pm, admission free. Regular programmes of weekend and holiday events and workshops help visitors find out more about London’s history, covering events such as the Great Plague, Londoners’ jobs and occupations, and Roman life. MEET CHARLES DICKENS, 16 December. Charles Dickens will speak about plots from some of his most famous novels and explain the characters in them, some of whom were based on his own tough Victorian childhood. Ages 5+, 1, 2 and 3pm starts. SANTA’S VICTORIAN GROTTO, 8-23 December. Meet Santa in his very own grotto, tell him your Christmas wishes, receive a special present and have your picture taken with him. £5, book first on 020 7001 9844. SCROOGE’S GROTTO, 27-31 December. Meet old Ebeneezer and share your Christmas grievances, or try to cheer him up in order to win a late Christmas gift. £5, book first on 020 7001 9844. CHRISTMAS STORY TIME, 28 December. Enjoy a festive story, told using puppets, museum objects and music. 10.30, 11.30 and 2pm starts, free.

V&A MUSEUM OF CHILDHOOD Cambridge Heath Road, Bethnal Green E2 9PA, 020 8983 5200, www.museumofchildhood.org.uk This gem of a museum is fascinating for families with young children. The collection includes dolls, dolls’ houses, puppets, teddy bears, games, childcare, clothing, furniture and art and photography. Everyday drop-in activities include storytelling, arts and crafts, and trails. There’s dressing-up, role play and an under 3’s area, an indoor sandpit, and regular special events. If it’s sunny there’s an outdoor space to enjoy a picnic. Open 10am-5.45pm daily, admission free. CHRISTMAS CRAFTS AND SEASONAL STORIES, December weekends, and 27 December - 6 January. Find out how families celebrated Christmas a hundred years ago. Enjoy a creative retelling of The Nutcracker, make seasonal crackers, baubles, retro cards and decorations. 10.30am-4pm, free. MAGIC LANTERN SHOW, 29+30 December. Mirror Mirror’s friendly magic lantern show has atmospheric storytelling. 10.30am and 1.30pm, £3. MODERN BRITISH CHILDHOOD, until 14 April 2013. Charting 64 tumultuous years in historiy, this exhibition explores issues surrounding education, health, family, entertainment, fashion and play. Exhibits include NHS prescription glasses, clothing, toys, books and childcare items, TV and film footage and photography.

ROYAL MUSEUMS GREENWICH National Maritime Museum, Queen’s House, Royal Observatory and Cutty Sark, Greenwich SE10, 020 8858 4422, www.rmg.co.uk

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families south east - december 2012

Royal Museums Greenwich holds the world’s largest maritime collection. It is housed in historic buildings forming part of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site and incorporates the Royal Observatory Greenwich, the 17th-century Queen’s House, and Cutty Sark. The Museums works to illustrate for everyone the importance of the sea, ships, time and the stars and their relationship with people, and is also a major centre of education and research. Open 10am-5pm daily. General admission is free; some buildings, special exhibitions and events have an admission fee. FANTASTIC FIGUREHEADS, 27-29 December. Be inspired by the giant, weird and wonderful figureheads created for ships, and design your own. 11.30am and 2pm start, in the museum Learning Space. NEPTUNE, 27-29 December. Why did sailors fear the king of the sea? Come along and ask Nepture himself. 12, 1, 2 and 3pm starts, suitable for ages 6+.

BANK OF ENGLAND MUSEUM BANK OF ENGLAND MUSEUM, entrance in Bartholomew Lane, London EC2R 8AH, 020 7601 5545, www.bankofengland.co.uk/museum The Bank of England Museum tells the story of the Bank of England from its foundation in 1694 to its role today as the UK’s central bank. Examine intricately-designed banknotes, feel the weight of a genuine gold bar and see the pikes and muskets that were once used to defend the Bank. Children’s activity sheets provide fun for younger visitors. Open 10am5pm Mondays to Fridays, admission free. JIGSAW JAPES, 17-21, 24, 27, 28 and 31 December, 2-4 January. Draw your favourite Museum object on a pre-cut jigsaw to take home. Will it be a banknote or a gold bar, the old iron chest or the muskets once used to defend the Bank? You’ll be spoilt for choice. 10am-4.30pm; until 1pm 24+31 December. GOLD AND THE BANK OF ENGLAND, Until 31 January. In the year of the Olympic Games in the UK, when the ultimate accolade of gold is given to the best of the world’s athletes, this exhibition examines the part gold has played during the Bank’s long history and the Bank’s role in relation to gold today.

GEFFRYE MUSEUM EVENTS GEFFRYE MUSEUM, Kingsland Road E2 8EA, 020 7739 9893, www.geffrye-museum.org.uk Special workshops and quizzes inspire creativity and provide amusement for accompanied 5-11 year-olds on the first Saturday of each month and during school holidays. Places allocated 30 minutes in advance of each workshop. Museum open 10am-5pm Tuesdays to Saturdays, from noon Sundays.

FOG FREEZE 5 December - 31 January, LONDON DUNGEON, 28-34 Tooley Street SE1 2SZ, 0871 423 2240, www.thedungeons.com Plunge back to Victorian times and into the midst of a terrible “peasouper” smog where mischief, mayhem and murder lurk. Along the way, you’ll meet a larger-than-life Victorian Chimney Sweep, played by one of The Dungeon’s talented cast of actors and journey down a cobbled and Christmassy street towards the freezing fog of no return. Once you emerge, there’s 1000 years of history to explore through 14 live shows, a colourful cast of villains and blaggards from Jack The Ripper to The Torturer, thrilling rides, special effects and laughs and scares a-plenty. Open 10am-5pm daily, 11am-4pm 24, 26, 31 Dec and 1 January. Closed Christmas day. Admission from £10 children, £16 adults.

SCIENCE MUSEUM SCIENCE MUSEUM, Exhibition Road SW7 2DD, 0870 870 4868, www.sciencemuseum.org.uk Aiming to be the best place in the world for people to enjoy science, the Science Museum makes sense of the science that shapes our lives, sparking curiosity, releasing creativity and changing the future by engaging people of all generations and backgrounds in science, engineering, medicine, technology, design and enterprise. Open daily 10am-6pm except 24-26 December. LAUNCHPAD SCIENCE SHOWS. The largest free interactive science gallery in the UK is packed with exhibits which allow visitors to launch a

rocket, turn their head into a sound box and control a magnetic cloud. Ages 8-14, free. WHO AM I? Find out what makes you special through interactive activities which use the latest in brain science and genetics. Free.

NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM, Cromwell Road SW7 5BD, 020 7942 5000, www.nhm.ac.uk Dinosaurs, volcanoes, precious gems and creepy crawlies - discover the diversity of the natural world through the nation’s finest collection of natural history specimens. Fascinating exhibitions display up to 70 million plants, animals, fossils, rocks and minerals, with a hands-on education centre where you can meet real scientists at work. Museum open 10am-5.50pm, admission free.

TOWER OF LONDON TOWER OF LONDON, EC3N 4AB, 0844 482 7777, www.hrp.org.uk/toweroflondon Tower open 9am-5.30pm Tuesdays to Saturdays, from 10am Sundays and Mondays. Admission free for under 5s, children £10.45, adults £19.80; book for less online. FIT FOR A KING. Discover 500 years of spectacular arms and armour worn by kings and royal princes in this stunning exhibition on the first floor of the White Tower. Learn about the personalities, power and physical size of our nation’s kings, from the Tudors, and the notorious Henry VIII, to today’s royal family through the historic collection. POWER HOUSE. Discover the stories and personalities behind the major organisations of state, who took care of royal business behind the mighty Tower walls, from 1100 to the present day. The exhibition showcases the roles of the major organisations that provided the bedrock of England’s power throughout the centuries. ROYAL BEASTS. Find out about the Tower’s imperial Royal Menagerie. Founded during the reign of King John in the early 1200s, it became a regular feature of the Tower for over 600 years. Visitors can encounter a diverse cast of former Tower residents through arresting modern animal sculpture by artist Kendra Haste and new interactive sensory displays. The recently restored north wall walk and the never before opened Brick Tower will host some of the displays, including sights, sounds and smells of some of the animals.

CUMING MUSEUM EVENTS CUMING MUSEUM, 151 Walworth Road SE17 1RY, 020 7525 2096, www.southwark.gov.uk/cumingmuseum Thursdays, FAMILY CLUB. Explore and play with the Cuming explorers. 10am-11.15am for under 5s and their parents/ carers.

HMS BELFAST On the THAMES by Morgans Lane, Tooley Street SE1 2JH, www.iwm.org.uk. (Thames Clipper London Bridge City Pier) Discover the exciting stories of those who served HMS Belfast; exploring the nine decks where sailors once hurried up and down its ladders, or take a look at the mess desk where her 950-strong crew ate and slept. Open 10am-6pm, admission free for under 16s, £13.50 adults. GUN TURRET EXPERIENCE. Immerse yourself in the new Gun Turret Experience, a chance to see what fighting at sea would have really been like. Overlooking the front of the ship, or Fo’c’sle, is the forward most of HMS Belfast’s Triple Gun Turrets. Lights, audio, videos and projections will recreate the experience, highlighting the hectic and cramped conditions that would have seen twenty-six men in this confined space at any one time. The guns are trained and elevated onto a target some 12.5 miles (20 kilometres) away in north-west London - the London Gateway Motorway Services Area on the M1 - a reminder of the awesome power of naval gunnery in the Second World War. Entry included in general admission price.

CHILDREN AT THE V&A V&A MUSEUM, Cromwell Road SW7 2RL, 020 7942 2000, www.vam.ac.uk/families

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ROYAL FESTIVAL HALL – CLOUD MAN

NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM – ICE RINK

During any visit, families can pick up a trail from the Information Desk and explore the museum through puzzles, drawing and observation. Suitable for 7-12 year-olds. There are also hundreds of exciting hands-on exhibits containing plenty to touch and try out. Museum open 10am5.45pm daily, admission free Saturday BACK-PACKS. Pick up a back pack and explore the museum with fantastic jigsaws, stories, puzzles and games. 10.30am-5pm.

CUTTY SARK CUTTY SARK, King William Walk, Greenwich SE10 9HT, 020 8858 2698, www.rmg.co.uk/cuttysark The world famous 19th century tea clipper offers visitors four levels to explore. Take in the views from the main deck and steer at the ship’s wheel, meet the crew who worked on board, explore the various cargoes from wool to whiskey, and see how tea was loaded on board through interactive displays, props, information boards and animations. Family friendly events run at weekends and during school holidays. Open 10am-5pm Tuesdays to Sundays, admission £6.50 children, £12 adults, from £20 families. Bundled tickets are available with the other Royal Museum Greenwich attractions. EXPLORE SATURDAYS. Meet a character from the past and take part in an exciting performance that brings maritime history to life. Suitable for ages 6+. Noon, 1, 2 and 3pm start, free with admission ticket.

DISCOVER GREENWICH OLD ROYAL NAVAL COLLEGE (next to the Cutty Sark), Greenwich SE10, www.greenwichwhs.org.uk Unlock the history of Maritime Greenwich, through artefacts, artwork, film and stories of former lives to bring the past to life. A permanent exhibition takes visitors on a journey from the College’s Tudor beginnings, through its naval past, as the Royal Hospital for Seamen and Royal Navy Staff College, right up to the present day. Special objects, including personal items from Henry VIII’s palace, as well as fascinating stories from monarchs, admirals and architects help chart the historic town’s development. Activities for children and families play a significant part in the new destination, enabling families to maximise their visit to Maritime Greenwich and for children to explore and understand the history of the magnificent site.

ACTING * SINGING

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FOG FREEZE – LONDON DUNGEON

WINTER TRAIL AT LEEDS CASTLE 26 December - 1 January, LEEDS CASTLE, Maidstone, Kent ME17 1PL, 01622 765400, www.leeds-castle.com Can you identify the different types of birds, trees and other wildlife at Leeds Castle? Follow clues around the estate, piece them together and re-arrange the letters to form a festive phrase for the chance to win a family flight over the Castle in a helicopter. Experts will fly the Castle’s birds of prey over the parkland in an exciting 45 minute falconry display, daily from 22 December until 6 January. The oak beamed Fairfax restaurant offers a warm place to sit and enjoy

STREET DANCE

* GLEE CLUB

the views of the castle from across the moat whilst enjoying a seasonal ‘jingle bell wrap’ or ‘rocking around the Christmas brie’ baguette. Explore the castle - beautifully decorated in red, gold and green with traditional paper chains and decorations, twinkling lights, cinnamon and orange wreaths and fragrant pine Christmas trees. Key to the Castle tickets are required for the Winter Trail event: £12.50 children, £19.75 adults. Tickets are valid for 12 months so you can pay once and visit all year round.

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PERFORMING ARTS

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BLUEWATER WINTER WONDERLAND

MoreWhat’sOn Find even more activities: www.familiesse.co.uk then click What's On

Ice Skating NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM Until 6 January, NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM, Cromwell Road SW7 5BD, 020 7942 5000, www.nhm.ac.uk Set within the Museum’s breathtaking grounds, the Ice Rink is a charming winter wonderland in the heart of the city. For the first time, this year’s Ice Rink will feature a magical Christmas Tree in the middle of the rink. Offering an array of entertainment and events for all ages, attractions include a beautiful fairground carousel, a junior rink for younger skaters and delicious Christmas themed refreshments. www.nhmskating.com

CANARY WHARF Until 13 January, CANARY WHARF E15 5NY, 0844 847 1556, www.canarywharf.com Perfect for children and grownups, this year’s ice rink showcases a new look bar and spectators’ area, as well as a brand new rink design, featuring London’s first skate path.

Wonderland attraction for families, which also includes a Santa’s grotto, a 40 metre snow slide, rides and amusements.

BROADGATE ICE RINK Until 24 February, BROADGATE CIRCLE, City of London EC2M 2QT, 020 7505 7068, www.broadgate.co.uk This small circular ice rink is tucked behind Liverpool Street station, and allows visitors to turn up and skate without booking. As it open until February, the traditional skating season is extended well into the New Year.

TOWER OF LONDON Until 6 January, TOWER OF LONDON, Tower Hill EC3N 4AB, 020 8241 9818 www.toweroflondonicerink.com London’s most dramatic open-air ice rink returns to the spectacular setting of the Tower of London. Located in the moat, the ice rink is set against the magnificent fortress battlements, providing a stunning setting for winter skating in the City.

SOMERSET HOUSE Until 6 January, SOMERSET HOUSE, Strand WC2R 1LA, 0844 847 1520, www.somersethouse.org.uk/ice-rink Celebrate the festive season in style at London’s most glamorous ice rink. Skate School sets the standard for people of all ages and abilities to learn how to build confidence or improve their technique on the ice. Also Penguin Club for children under the age of 8, which successfully guides children through their first tentative steps on the ice. Booking required in advance for lessons.

HYDE PARK Until 6 January, HYDE PARK, London, 0844 858 6755, www.hydeparkwinterwonderland.com The Magical Ice Kingdom is a spectacular ice and snow sculpture experience, unique to the UK. Created from over 200 tons of ice and snow, this breath-taking experience will host over 500 ice and snow sculptures. Other attractions include the largest outdoor Ice Rink, the iconic Giant Observation Wheel and the beautiful Angels Christmas Market and new Yuletide Market and Santa Land for the younger visitors.

BLUEWATER Until 13 January, BLUEWATER CENTRE, Greenhithe, Kent DA9 9ST, 0870 400 0887, www.bluewater.co.uk Bluewater Shopping Centre has an ice skating rink as part of its Winter

CANARY WHARF

020 8241 9818 www.hamptoncourticerink.com Hampton Court Ice Rink is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year with six weeks of winter fun. Glide around the ice in royal style within the setting of the magnificent Palace. Enjoy the winter sun as it glistens on the ice, and after dark, skate under the stars. The Palace will be illuminated after the sun goes down, providing a magical fairytale scene to delight young and old.

BRIGHTON ROYAL PAVILION Until 20 January, ROYAL PAVILION, Prince’s Street, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 1ED, 0844 847 2352, www.royalpavilionicerink.co.uk If you fancy a skating day trip by the sea, head to the Royal Pavilion in Brighton where an 800 square metre rink has space for 250 skaters. New this year is the Jamie Oliver’s Fabulous Feasts pop-up rinkside restaurant and bar. Advance booking recommended.

HAMPTON COURT Until 13 January, HAMPTON COURT PALACE, East Molesey KT8 9AU,

Art Activities FAMILY ARTS IN DULWICH DULWICH PICTURE GALLERY, Gallery Road, Dulwich Village SE21 7AD, 020 8693 5254, www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk Museum open 10am-5pm Tuesdays to Fridays, from 11am weekends and bank holidays. Listed activities free for families with a gallery ticket or £3 per child. ARTPLAY, first and last Sunday of each month. Creative drop-in workshops for adults and children, with a different activity each session. Make anything and everything from bunting to block printing and all things in between. 2-3.45pm.

treasures and develop new skills with specialist guidance. Sir John Soane (1753- 1737) was an inveterate collector, filling every nook and cranny of his beautiful home with items that fascinated him. From fossils to classical fragments from Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome and from contemporary paintings to architectural models, drawings and literature, he intended that after his death both his house and its extraordinary contents should be used to educate and inspire. Free drop-in activities run on the third Saturday of every month, with activities for all ages and families can take part together from 1.30-4.40pm.

SOMERSET HOUSE FAMILY EVENTS JEWISH MUSEUM EVENTS JEWISH MUSEUM, Raymond Burton House, 129-131 Albert Street, Camden Town NW1 7NB, 020 7284 7324, www.jewishmuseum.org.uk The museum houses internationally acclaimed collections where visitors can explore Jewish culture, heritage and identity within the wider context of British history. Open 10am-5pm daily, Fridays to 2pm. Admission £3.50 children, £7.50 adults, £18 families.

ART AT SIR JOHN SOANE’S HOUSE SIR JOHN SOANE’S MUSEUM, 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields WC2A 3PB, 020 7440 4263, www.soane.org Tucked away in Lincoln’s Inn Fields at the heart of London, this magical, mysterious museum encourages young visitors to explore Soane’s

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SOMERSET HOUSE, Strand WC2, 020 7845 4600, www.somersethouse.org.uk Free family workshops run on Saturdays from 2-3.30pm. Tickets available from 1pm from the information desk. Children aged 6-12 years must be accompanied by an adult.

THE NATIONAL GALLERY TRAFALGAR SQUARE WC2N 5DN Open daily 10am-6pm, Fridays to 9pm, admission free. With over 2,300 paintings in the collection, there are hundreds of reasons to visit the gallery, along with free hands-on art workshops for families at weekends and during school holidays. No need to book, but places are limited and allocated on arrival up to one hour before the start.

SIR JOHN SOANE’S HOUSE

FAMILIES AT THE TATE TATE BRITAIN, Millbank SW1, 020 7887 8888, www.tate.org.uk/britain Open daily 10am-5.50pm, and until 10pm the first Friday of the month. Family trails are available daily from the Information Desks and are free for 5yrs and under. Go on a journey around Tate Britain and post your discoveries into your ‘Post it’ box as you go. When you get home, open up the box and show your friends what you found. Or you could follow the ‘Join up’ trail: play the listening game, search for shapes, patterns and talking hands, and make your own sculptures. Every weekend the free Art Trolley encourages children to imagine and create, make colourful collages, style a wonderful sculpture or perhaps make a sketchbook and fill it with great ideas.

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and finally...

Tips for Christmas - for step-parents

By Alison O’Mahony

The heart of Christmas-time is the warm glow we can get from being connected and having a place to be ourselves. However meeting this expectation is sometimes challenging for step-families who find there are often obstacles to this.

Do four things to make this Christmas one you will want to remember: Team up with your partner; Leave nothing to chance, plan, plan, plan; Chat, consult, communicate; and look after yourself well enough to feel good about coping. Check out Be StepWise’s list:

Team up with your partner • Talk regularly about arrangements and traditions over the Christmas period • Share opinions and views. Back each other up and be fair • Introduce Christmas ‘rules’ for harmony • Use the word ‘we’ or ‘us’, so people know you agree • Seek the appreciation you need from your partner, not others • Make some time just for the two of you • Plan something special for yourselves after Christmas.

Chat, consult, communicate With each child beforehand: • Find a time to talk • Work out what’s important • Be respectful of wishes and feelings. Adjust plans if you can • Build your relationship. You will learn lots and make Christmas better. Generally: • Use three positive comments for every negative; this builds self-esteem • Find giving positive comments difficult? Try a thumbs-up or a wink • When you say what you don’t want, remember to say what you do want • Not being heard? Repeat what you want clearly and often. Use humour, or appeal to others

• Intervene in fights. Listen to everyone in turn. Ask for solutions. Settle on a solution and compensate the loser. Ask the protagonists later, when alone, what happened. Listen for the triggers. Intervene earlier next time • Poor behaviour and emotional outbursts can be due to loss, rivalry, or loyalty issues. Keep communicating and understanding; not even a teenager wants to be in a bad mood all the time. This Christmas may bring a break-through in your relationship • Allow everyone time to chill on their own, or with others of their choice.

Leave nothing to chance - plan, plan, plan • Christmas can be hard, so make plans with everyone before Christmas. Have difficult conversations now • Check arrangements are manageable; use half-terms and other holidays to spread visits • Share plans for Christmas, timings, opening of presents, screen-times and traditions you would like to introduce, in advance. Aim for no surprises • Put up a big diary planner and let everyone see it • Keep a private present planning matrix (check for uneven distribution of presents. Talk to your partner) • Check out favourite menus and make a plan • Give each child jobs and responsibilities. Plan each job in advance • Share joint expectations and explain the house rules clearly. Don’t punish a misunderstanding; give a warning once • Prepare for things that usually go wrong • Get everyone out of the house once a day.

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Look after yourself well enough to feel good about coping • Think “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change things I can and the wisdom to know the difference” • Remember, all families argue at Christmas! • Only you can be in charge of what you do, say and think. Respond, don’t react • Turn to other adults you can trust or to your partner to release your feelings • Annoying habits don’t stop quickly. Decide to put up with them or remove the offending chair, candle or toy! • Do what it takes to treat yourself. Work out how. • Keep yourself feeling good • Buy yourself a gift and put it under the tree.

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Alison O’Mahony, the founder of Be StepWise, set up to provide support to step-families, says, “There are good reasons for this struggle.” • Step-children normally celebrate Christmas with Mum in one household and Dad in another or maybe Mum or Dad is not around at all. This can lead to feelings of split loyalties or sadness about past losses • Couples can have two sets of in-laws, possibly two ex-partners and four sets of ex-in-laws plus other relatives. Being fair, calm and orderly in dealings with them can be testing, especially as past experience may have been stressful • Christmas is a series of traditions and rituals, which add to the enjoyment of being together. Part of making a new family is setting up new traditions, but changing old ones can be upsetting.

About Be StepWise Be StepWise works with perspectives. Your perspective will be governing what you think and do. Members of step-families often have very polarised perspectives. We can’t change others, but we can change ourselves. Changing our view opens up new possibilities in ways that finds solutions for everyone. Be StepWise offer coaching programmes, counselling, workshops, couples consultations, email response service, booklets, and an informative website. For information, call 020 8761 1633, email Alison@beStepWise.co.uk or see www.BeStepWise.co.uk.

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PLUS: Half term activities, education news, family life, local companies and events


Families SE December 2012 issue 145