Best Half Term Adventures

With so much going on in London, it can sometimes be so overwhelming to choose what to do, that we end up staying at home and not going anywhere.  So we've picked out our favourite what's on ideas for this autumn to help sort out what's worth going along to.  

Some of the best holiday workshops in London for kids are at the Geffrye Museum and the John Soane Museum, where the children get to create something really proper. And this half term is no exception: 


Take the shiny new Overground to Hoxton which stops right outside the back door of the Geffrye Museum. It  really couldn't be simpler. 

On Halloween itself you can scare yourself silly making a spooky hat  and a yummy chocolate apple. Get there early to guarantee a place as these cooking workshops are hot favourite. There are two sessions 10.30 - 12.30pm and 2 - 4pm.

 If you miss this one there are scores of other lovely free workshops everyday for children aged 5-15.


Tucked away behind the Inns of Court is the John Soane Museum (nearest tube Holborn) where you can leave your kids to get their hands mucky making a clay Toby jug to take home. This is a fabulous, creative all day workshop for children aged 7+ at a cost of £20. Wednesday 31st October  10.30 - 3pm.  Booking essential 0207 4404263  Children must bring their own lunch. 


Head out west and walk along the Thames river bank to the delectable Petersham Nurseries near Richmond for an afternoon of pumpkins, toffee apples and scary stories.  Treat yourselves to a slice of delicious cake.   
Tuesday 30th October , 3 - 5pm   £5


Give the dinosaurs a miss and pack your backpack for the first ever pop up campsite at the Natural History Museum with free events, Camper vans, movie screens and popcorn, real Arctic tents and music.    27 October to 2 November, 11- 16.30 in the Darwin Centre Courtyard. 


Shake your tambourine with The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment at one of their popular events for the very youngest music-lovers.  Sunday 4 November 2012.  At the Purcell Rooms, South Bank Centre.


Catch the last performances of The Tear Thief, who in the hours between supper and bedtime carries her waterproof, silvery sack as she steals the tears of every child who cries. Find out what she does with these tears at the Little Angel Puppet Theatre. Written by poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy. 


Love it or hate it, Madame Tussauds
 near Baker Street is a children's favourite and is curiously perfect for a whistle stop tour of British history, complete with Royals and celebrities. It's also London's oldest waxwork museum and was created back in the early 19th Century by a woman escaping from the French Revolution.   Look out for web deals on ticket prices.


A little further afield, but still close to London is the 
Harry Potter Film Studio Tour Find out the secrets behind how the Dark Arts were brought to life in the Harry Potter films this half term, learn about the make-up techniques, come face to face with the Death Eaters, go a lesson in the Potions classroom and have your picture taken flying on a broomstick.  Book tickets in advance.

And lastly, these are the most popular must-sees in London and are worth taking the time to queue up for:


Random International: Rain Room at the Barbican, is the place to get  wet in this half term. Opens at 11am and the queues are 2 hours long.  So get there at 10am with a coffee and a bun and sit it out.  


Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time at the National Theatre is the hot ticket this season. This GCSE novel by Mark Haddon is fabulously taken to the stage by War Horse Director Marianne Elliott.   Sold out but returns and day tickets available if you get there early.

I Capture the Castle........

Inspired by one of our favourite books, the young adult dreamy classic,  I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, we jumped on a train from Fenchurch Street Station in search of the magnificent but ruined Hadleigh Castle high above the wild marshes of Canvey Island. 

Hopped off the train 40 minutes later at Benfleet station, having avoided the dreaded A13, and stepped through a wooden gate on the start of a footpath along the grassy valley floor towards Leigh-on-Sea and the coast. The path meandered gently passing ponds and flocks of geese, redshanks, herons and avocets out on the marshes. 

We climbed to the top of the short steep hill to Hadleigh Castle and its crumbling towers, famously painted by John Constable in 1829. It was once the official home of the King's wife an impressive list of former tenants include Catherine of Aragon, Anne of Cleves and Catherine Parr. We had the place to ourselves with dramatic views across the Thames Estuary. The perfect place for a castle.

We headed out along the path between the two towers, over the stile at the bottom and after half a mile or so we arrived at Leigh-on-Sea with it charming cockle sheds and boats. Couldn't resist some fish and chips from the Mayflower chippy, so called because this is where the Pilgrim fathers boat originally came from,  and ate them on the beach. Home again before anyone had noticed we had gone. A perfect day.

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