Family Christmas Theatre Shows

Bookings are open for Christmas shows and with so much choice these days for families it’s often hard to decide which will be the winners. Past performance is often a good way to narrow down the field.
On that basis, first on the list  has to be the Little Angel Puppet Theatre’s production of Alice in Wonderland ( Picking up on Lewis Carroll’s nonsense world the show is packed with verbal jokes, witty songs and visual tricks. Whether you make it for Christmas or not a visit to the Little Angel is hugely atmospheric at any time of the year. It has been the home of British puppetry since 1961 when it was founded by a troupe of enthusiastic puppeteers under the leadership of South African master, John Wright, in a derelict temperance hall off Cross Street in Islington.  It puts on shows, their own creations as well as touring companies, using all styles of puppetry: marionette (puppets on strings); rod; table top, glove, shadow, and Japanese Bunraku.  It’s a magical world and one not to be missed.
Other offerings this Christmas that look worth bagging a seat for include the Hampstead Theatre’s Beasts and Beauties ( dramatised by Melly Still (who directed a gem of a production of Cinderella at the Lyric Hammersmith’s couple of years ago) and Tim Supple. Otherwise the National Theatre always tends to put on a good production. This year the  team that directed last year’s winner, the Cat in the Hat are back with Beauty and the Beast ( so it should be excellent. 
For some, Christmas isn’t Christmas without the booing and hissing, double entendre’s and full on audience participation of the traditional pantomime. The best are usually at either Theatre Royal Stratford East ( whose Little Red Riding Hood starts on 4th December or the Hackney Empire  ( They are showing another  old favourite: Jack and the Beanstalk complete with a singing harp, a golden hen, a  giant of all giants and Buttercup, the break dancing cow. Can’t wait…..

The Story of London

'London is a city in which there has been a great ‘Eureka!’ moment around almost every corner.'  Boris Johnson

There are so many things going on in London that it is almost impossible to keep up with them all.  Some of the best are completely free.  The success of last year's Story of London festival has led Boris and his team to make this an annual event.  With over 100 events between this weekend and the 10th October, it is worth checking out their website and finding something that suits you.  Go to The Story of London Festival  website and download the Time Out guide.  The festival is a celebration of London 'as a city at the forefront of innovation and inspiration'.  There are dozens of workshops, walks, lectures and screenings.  

We especially love the 'London in a Box' idea - they are giving out over 4000 cardboard boxes from Council offices among other places, for people to fill with pictures, ideas, old bus tickets, photos etc of what London means to them.  Take a look at My London in a Box  for details of where to submit your masterpieces.

Pretty much every day until the 9th October, there are two free filmmaking workshops for 8-16 year-olds.  The first, at 10.30am, is about futuristic London; the second, at 2pm, focuses on the Londoner Charlie Chaplin.   It all takes place at the London Film Museum, County Hall, Belvedere Rd, SE1 7PB (020 7202 7040) near Waterloo tube.

Other favourites include a free talk on Florence Nightingale by Dr Rosemary Wall, with a walk and an exhibition, starting at the Maughan Library, King's College London, Chancery Lane tube, from 6 - 8pm on Thursday 7th October. email to book.

Take the children to hear firefighters talking about the history of firefighting in London since the 1666 Great Fire at the London Fire Brigade Museum, 94 Southwark Bridge Road near Borough tube.  From 10 - 3 on Friday 8th October.

For the budding artist, head East to Walthamstow, home of the writer, socialist, designer, craftsman and conservationist William Morris unique multimedia show of contemporary artist and craftsfolk.  Saturday 10 - 3pm at the William Morris Gallery, E17.  Walthamstow Central tube/rail.

Discover what 'Tottenham Pudding' was to Londoners during the War and go to Stir it Up - A Recipe for Recylicng:  learn how to make do and mend as they did in the olden days, from rag rugs to pig swill and packed with family activities.  They are even going to bury a time capsule. Markfield Beam Engine and Museum, Markfield Rd, Markfield Park. Seven Sisters tube/rail.  Sunday October 10th. 11 - 4pm.  Free.

Hips, Haws and Hedgerows


Don't know about you, but we think the blackberries have been better than ever this year. When we walked in the Chilterns the other day and picked our way down the hedgerows, the blackberries were unusually delicious.. cobnuts were littering the ground; sloes, hips, and elderberries were weighing down the branches. 

We came home laden - or would have done if we had thought to take a bag to gather it all into.....Here's the link for the blackberry jelly recipe we were going to use:   blackberry jelly . Never been quite sure what to do with cobnuts other than have them in a bowl on the table only to throw them out untouched a few weeks later. Finally thought it best to look up what to do and found this: Cobnut Recipes on the really nice Allen's Farm website. Apparently children used to play a version of “conkers” with hazelnuts.  


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