Finding activities which will keep 6 children aged between 5 and 15 (plus a baby who doesn’t really count for these purposes) entertained in February half term, on a low budget, is quite a challenge.
This is what we did on our outing days last week:
On Wednesday I took the kids to Greenwich. We went on the Thames Clipper, from Embankment Pier. This gave us a great view of many tourist sights in central London, starting from the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament and going past places like City Hall, the Tower of London and the Golden Hind. In Greenwich we had a picnic in the gardens of Discover Greenwich, and then went in for a look round. This new visitor centre is very well done – it had lots of hands-on activities including making buildings and trying on clothes and was informative enough that I was also interested. We were hoping to cross under the Thames via the foot bridge, but it was closed for refurbishment, so we went on the Docklands Light Railway, which is like a safe roller coaster through the architect’s fantasy land that is Docklands. We visited Mudchute Farm, which received varying reviews from the children and found two huge ziplines, which were very popular! There was no one else there and we all had a good time. Then home, via DLR and (boring) Tube.
On Thursday, my husband took some time off and we went to the Museum of London to look at the new downstairs galleries. I have already been there twice before – once for the press opening, which although it was on Erev Shavuos, I couldn’t resist, and then again to have a better look. It is possibly the most unusual museum set up I have seen, incorporating a 17th century pleasure garden, a street of Victorian shops, a Blitz experience and lots of hands on stuff at different heights so that all sizes of children can participate. Most of the children found something interesting. We had a picnic in nearby St Alphage Garden and flirted with the idea of looking for a Geocache, but decided to give it a miss, although on the way back to the station we walked past the site of the one we were going to find.
Home to shop for Shabbos and make supper, before taking some of the kids to a late event at the British Museum. This was an experiment and it was quite successful. The museum ran an event tied in with the Book of the Dead exhibition, which I visited a few weeks ago. It was a fascinating trip through the Egyptian underworld, which is like a computer adventure game, in which the deceased has to negotiate crocodile infested swamps, face off flesh eating monsters and be judged on their merits before receiving their final reward. The event was very well put together, featuring a performance of the soul’s journey, clay modelling, talks in a couple of side rooms and game playing. Again, all the kids found something they could do, and I also enjoyed it. Hampered by a signal failure on the Northern line, we made it home at 10pm, but that’s what half term’s for…