Mums – we need more kindness towards one another please

It has been difficult last three months… I have been trying to make a transition from ‘be with children’ (as opposed to ‘stay-at-home’ ;-0) mum, heavily involved with the school PFA initiatives into ‘going back to work’ me.

I was with my children for the last nine years. Ok the first two years I was busy finishing my course degree but after my second child was born (seven years ago) I decided to stay and look after them for the next few years. Little I knew what ‘few’ meant at the time.

In the last four years I was involved in different locally run voluntary projects as well as the children’s nursery and then school PFA. I was the happiest mum on planet and I can honestly say these were the hardest and the most beautiful years of my life so far. The emotional roller coaster has been the biggest part of it all. I am a very different person than I was some nine years ago – just one note sung by my child at their school choir concert can see my in a flood of tears, one ray of sunshine caught playing with the blonde hair and beautiful complexion on my child’s face makes the time literally stop for me…

So no, I definitely don’t regret ‘staying in’ for so long and it was a difficult choice to make as it most definitely effected our finances to a large extend… I just feel like I was simply not able to make any other decision as Phoebe full stop. I believe that in a constant battle between SAHM and ‘working mum’ there are as many answers as women in the world and everyone of us is so very different and unique.

There is simply no right or wrong answer, there are only choices to be made. 

So why don’t we, women stop finally judging one another as to what choices we make, what houses we own (or don’t), how fit we are and how hard we work. Just stop all this childish behavior and  get on with your life. It seems like all these feminists went after the wrong target after all (sorry ladies…) as these are not men who are oppressing us but we are doing it to one another!

The amount of unhealthy competition, constant judging and cliqueness between women makes all this hard juggling exercise simply impossible! Why is it that the men can simply ‘get on with it’ and socialize with one another without the constant judging as to whether their ‘colleague or pint partner’ is ‘good enough’.

We women are so amazing – why can’t we look above all these clouds of bitterness, jealousy and superiority and simply talk to one another, support one another and be open and honest to one another. It would make things so much simpler and so much easier to handle.

We are all truly amazing – just think of the same priorities we all have i.e. making sure our children have a safe and happy lives. And it doesn’t mean that if my child is happy than it will most certainly cause yours to be miserable! Not at all!! It is exactly the opposite – one child’s happiness and good behavior will multiply and hopefully ‘rubs off’ into the other one he is playing with. It is not a competition for the school places nor it is a beauty/ IQ contest. It is a simple act of striving the best for our families but not at the expense of one another.

We have all gone through so much to get where we are now – a simple thing I was thinking about this morning… how much blood we are loosing throughout our lives… I know it sounds gruesome but all these heavy periods we get every single month, all the blood we loose during the childbirth and all the tears we shed and worries we have during these sleepless nights pre-baby, during baby, toddler and then again their teen years!

We create all these impossible to climb walls, impossible to follow rules and watch calmly and coldly when most of us finds it impossible to conquer it, even better falls off it breaking its confidence in the process! However… by putting up and creating these ridiculous and monstrous obstacles, have we ever thought that it will be our daughters climbing the very same walls in a few years time we are so painstakingly putting up for other women?! And nope we may not always be there for our daughters ready to give them tips as to how best to tackle it, there may be some other women there watching our child struggling. The very same women we have ridiculed and ignored earlier on, a women our daughter’s may need to rely on at that moment in time.

I guess I am trying to say we are just too hard on ourselves, too harsh to one another and in general acting like hypocrites – teaching kindness to our children but treating one another with anything but kindness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Another fabulous place to visit with children – the British Museum!

I found myself early on Sunday morning in central London due to Giselle’s Lamda exam. The exam was over and done with in 15 minutes and by 11am we were free to eplore!😉

The closest to our location were Hamleys  toy shop and the British Museum, a non-brainer for both of us😉.

We headed straight to the Information desk at the British Museum, as the easiest way for me is to explore any museum with the children is to hire a Family backpack. It gives me and the children a great focus and it means that they don’t feel overwhelmed by a vast choice of exhibits. Of course we will often stop and ‘loose ourselves for a while’ in whatever captures our attention  but at least a backpack provides a welcome point of reference and bring us ‘down on earth’😉.

Giselle has chosen ‘Jobs in Roman Britain’ Family backpack which meant to last 1.30 hrs but in reality it is more like an hour.

All the activities took place in one large Room on the Upper floor (so we stopped many times at different exhibits on our way there which added some extra fun!).

She had to imagine that she lived in 43BC (when Roman emperor Claudius conquered Britain) and was looking for a job. The backpack introduced her to some of the occupations at the time, like:

  • builder (where she got to explore mortar, flint ans tiles pieces which were all found in the backpack)
  • mosaic maker (where she got a board and was asked to make a piece of mosaic using some felt squares)
  • blacksmith (where she had to match different objects into the case)
  • shoe maker (where she got to explore different types of footwear and even got to wear one provided in her backpack!)
  • soldier in the Roman army (where she learnt about different types of armour)
  • procurator (where she learnt different writing techniques and got to try her skills on the wooden stylus provided)
  • priest (where she listened to a recording describing different gods and tried to match them to the god statutes in the case).

After trying her hands on seven different jobs, Giselle almost instantly announced that she would like to be a procurator as she would like to write and learn Latin!😉 Her least favorite were builder and soldier😉.

We both had lots of fun and learnt a great deal of things. After spending another 40 minutes exploring some of the Greek pieces we went for a lovely and healthy lunch to Wagamama (3 minutes walk).

I just love spending time with Giselle. And there is something truly special about one-to-one, I really think they are as important as the whole family time out. The interaction is much more intense and I always feel more relaxed not having to constantly divide my attention into many different things. I always try to build in these one-to-one special times with my children whenever I can, be it a day out or just a couple of hours. These are very unique moments and I treasure them a lot.

 

 

PIY (Plan It Yourself):

http://www.britishmuseum.org/

How to get there:

By London Underground:

The nearest underground stations are Tottenham Court Road and Holborn. It is 10 minutes walk from both.

Cost:

Entry: Free

Backpack hire: Free

I still cannot believe it?! Such a brilliant cultural experience at our doorstep topped up with the free great quality learning resources (back pack) and it is ALL for FREE!🙂

 

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My journey started rather gloomy sitting half-asleep on the train on a dark, freezing cold and windy Saturday morning. But it was all well worth it even though I was mostly an observer other than a participant (it is a bit hard when you come on your own and your mind set happens to be on a ‘non-social’ setting that day..).

Got in there just in time for the first talk ‘A Room of One’s Own: motherhood and creativity’ and what a brilliant feast it was! All the speakers were great including Margaret Atwood (which I didn’t expect at all!) via video link from Canada, dressed up in a winter coat and scarf at 4.30am (what an incredible women is she! It totally puts me and my morning moaning into perspective or shame rather!!). The quality of the link wasn’t the greatest and it affected the fluency of the session for a short while but we were all very understanding and the chair (Bryony Gordon) had no choice but to somehow plod along.

The session was very witty, full of brilliant ideas and quotes and funny at times which is a key to success at 9am! I loved listening to Meera Syal. I found myself almost waiting for her turn to speak and writing down most of her answers. She is not only wise but funny and can grasp the point quickly and puts it very succinctly. Some of her quotes: ‘I have gained in creativity what I lost in time as plugged to the whole area of emotions’. She advocated that the childcare should be made much more affordable (no tax break for families) and that would relief lots of pressure for many women who want to engage in something creative as well as motherhood. Then she said ‘There is nothing like paying for a really expensive childcare to focus your mind’ which I found rather hilarious😉.

My other favourite was Catherine Mann, lots of very interesting observations without the hint of arrogance (mother of-three, recently got back to her legal career job). Very down to earth, funny and intelligent. Her blog was the first one I have signed up to as soon as I got home that evening😉. I thought her response to ‘more affordable childcare’ argument was very interesting as she said she would not change these first few ‘stay at home’ years for any kind of work even if the childcare would be made more affordable. But of course she agreed that it is all about having a freedom of choice in here.

Other ‘advice’ I have written down by the panel were: ”don’t be grateful all the time’😉, ‘let’s take away the blame of guilt’, ‘marry someone who is more domestic than you are’😉 and ‘write because if you don’t it won’t happen’. 

I would be pretty much happy to go home after this one (only joking ;-)) as it was so good but then it was only just beginning…

The next session I attended was ’25 ways to get published’ chaired by Sam Jordison… and that is all I remember from that session as my eyes (and ears ;-)) were literally glued to him!😉😉 Ha ha ha joking of course but I really liked his informal, unique, engaging and charming and… style😉. He would engage with its speakers on every level without being too overwhelming and still in control. On the left sofa there were Will Francis and Mathew Clayton duo, two publishers sharing their wisdom with us, eager and novice writers as to what are the best ways to get through to the publishers😉. It would appear that there is the whole new world of publishing corporations out there waiting to be explored (as certainly not waiting for our books as in every publishing agency on average they are getting something between 1-5 new books from prospective authors! and we are talking years from there… ;-)).

I have started writing the children book this summer (and had no time to go back to it since!) but I cannot honestly say that all this advice inspired me to get on with it and finish it. The whole experience can be pretty intimidating and it is yet another ‘competition platform’ you could add to your ‘competition portfolio’ if you think you may need more to your collection!😉

This talk was followed by ‘Think bombs: hosted by Kate Williams’ and I can only explain the title by an ‘exploding’ line of speakers namely Sandi Toksvig, Val McDermid and David Baddiel.

For me it was Sandi Toksvig who completely blew me away with her passionate speech about women and their place in history. In fact I have ordered a couple of her books as soon as I got home. She recently founded ‘Women’s Equality Party’ and as I would not be interested in joining in any time soon it will be interesting to see what cause it is going to take. She is a very passionate and captivating speaker and she firmly believes in her cause so I think there is all but a success for her (if she won’t get eaten by the male sharks of politics first but then she may be too shrewd for this I reckon..).

All this was followed by a delicious lunch which.. I took twice! oh dear… These were delicious noodles and beef Thai style (although I am sure I am getting this wrong but nevertheless it was delicious!).

I attended the Blog Clinic during the break and it was extremely helpful! The girl I spoken to gave me some really good technical advice re my blog, it was really good being able to ask one-to-one advice on a very specific issues.

And some more great sessions to follow in the afternoon.

Jude Brooks has given a presentation about ‘Building your brand: digital marketing for bloggers’ which was interesting, if not too corporate at times. I think I would appreciate a bit more catered advice for a small bloggers as some of her presentation was aimed at the big players and perhaps had too much content in it for our needs. Nevertheless she is a very professional speaker. An interesting quote from Simon Senek (coincidentally I watched this very same podcast on Ted the other day) ‘People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it’. It would make a very interesting post in its own rights (if I ever get a chance to do it..).

I really enjoyed ‘Brevity is the soul of wit: big ideas in small spaces’ session. It was a great idea to put Tim Dowling (columnist for Guardian) and Helen Simpson (short story and poetry writer) on the same sofa😉. They not only had their ‘short stories’ in common but their outlook and perception of the world seemed to be rather similar as well. Lots of interesting tips as to how make your writing interesting yet not too long (sorry everyone ;-)). Tim often uses dialogues in his column to make it more interactive while Helen reads things aloud in order to make it as succinct as possible. All the speakers concluded in the end that something between 500- 800 words is the self-regulated length which keeps a reader interested and focused (sorry once again! ;-)).

The last ‘show’, as I should call it, was ‘Giving it away: the public stories of our private lives’ with a string of animated and jovial speakers! The main ‘Bursting Aloud’ award has to go to Shappi Khorsandi (a comedian) which has as many jokes and personalities as her photographs in the internet! Lucy Cavendish was also great with many amusing stories from her family life (we all had to promise not to disclose the fact that she has been recently laid off from her Guardian writing job… very upsetting…). It was rather lighthearted and funny session and I guess that is a way it meant to be judging by the highly amusing speaker panel.

That certainly put everyone in the right sort of mood for the Mumsnet Blogging Awards chaired by Shappi Khorsandi. Some of the names I have jotted down are: Brummy Mummy of 2, The Comeback Mum, Mojo Blogs, Complicated Gorgeousness and Hurrah for Gin who won the main prize.

http://www.mumsnet.com/events/blogging-awards/2015/

I then headed off to the Drinks Reception only to realise that there is still a long way back home so perhaps I should rather head back. Call it a fifth sense but as I was on the train back some 10 minuets away from home my Hubs called me asking for help (stuck in the traffic etc). He did a brilliant job looking after children’s Saturday’s affairs (and there were quite a few on that day!) and somehow I could not help but feel proud (not grateful ;-)) that it is him I chosen to be my ‘hubs for life’😉. Thank you Hubs!

It was a brilliant event. A few days on and I am still going through some of the talks in my head, smiling to myself occasionally😉. One of the speaker’s said: ‘Don’t disappear from life just because you are a mum’ (who said it?) which has been sinking deeper and deeper within me ever since…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who am I being that my children eyes are not shining…

One of my favourite TED talks. Really worth listening to, all brilliant but the second part is especially moving. It is more of a life lesson that just a talk on a classical music and its power…

‘The job of C is to make B sad’😉 said Benjamin in his talk.

‘And the job of us as the parents is to make our children happy’😉 says me.

 

Benjamin Zander (music conductor) describes what a revelation it was for him when he realised that the conductor of the orchestra doesn’t make a sound. He entirely depends on his power to make other people powerful. To awaken possibility in other people. You look at their eyes. If their eyes are shiny you know you are doing this. If their eyes are not shiny: who am I being that my children’s eyes are not shining?

How many shiny eyes I have around me? It really makes a difference what we say, the word which come from our mouths.

He recalls a story of his friend who survived Auschitz and made a vow  to never say anything that couldn’t stand as a last thing she will ever say. Can we do it… His answer is ‘not quite’ but it is a possibility to live to…

So many wise thoughts and equally so many opportunities for us to shape the mindset and choices of our children.

Why is it that we all start with a really high hopes, really high aspirations, really high quality choices only to find ourselves on the sliding scale as the years go by… The children needs have not changed but somehow our attitude has and the older they get the less harder we try…

Sorry, I know it is totally unfair on all of us (the parents) as most of us would still try our best, it is just that the ‘novelty’ of a new baby and the new vows slowly worn off and there are so many other things we need to make space for and incorporate into our lives…

Fair enough and I agree, there is nothing harder than a parent trying to juggle it all however… despite of all this, and maybe even because of it all, we still need to remember to make time and space for these quality moments with our children… be it one-to-one at the theatre or looking into their eyes and properly listen as they tell us the stories from their day or just cuddling together and reading their favourite book for the tenth time with the same excitement in our voice.

And every time we get this little spark in their eyes it tells us we are doing it right.. it tells us we are giving them the quality time they need to feel valued and understanding, we show them they are unique and important to us and that is how their self confidence is being built. And one day they will stay in front of other people, our little ‘music conductors’😉 and if they can pass on this positive message on to others and creatively inspire others in whatever area they choose to be in then we have succeeded. And more importantly they have succeeded as found the strength and passion in their lives.

And how do I go about it all in our family every day life?

Well it is certainly not easy but the key to it is to make it part of your ‘life routine’ if you like and simply get on with it ie make some conscious choices.

I play some classical cds at home and we listen to Classic FM in the car (our car cd has been broken for too long and we simply got used to it now ;-)). I often take them to some local churches for the classical music concerts (cheaper than cinema tickets) and we will have family fun trips to Southbank or Wigmore hall in London. They both organize Family classical music concerts periodically and these are so much fun, very informal and animated (our favourite are Southbank ones run by Chris Jarvis from Cbeebies!! ;-)).

I think it is a bit like osmosis. You think nothing is happening, ‘these things’ don’t make any difference to our children’s lives and then suddenly you realise that something has actually been happening throughout all this time… something almost so subtle and delicate that it is difficult to even capture into the words… And it is this sensitivity, this inner understanding of things, this state of being attuned to the world and its surroundings that gets develop along the way…

These ‘certain values’ which come with it… they are ‘invisible’ if you like but they come to life when you talk to your child, when you watch him conducting yourself and referring to others, when you experience his sensitivity.. when you look into their eyes and they are there wide open and shiny, as they just discovered another greatest pleasure of life, they now know and understand and are not afraid to listen to the classical music! I call it a ‘tiny little victory’;-).

The below is a what Giselle drafted last night only. She was designing a new instrument…

 

Catepillars Butterflies and other little ‘invonveniences’ ;-)

We went to Kew Gardens yesterday and had such a lovely day. We are an annual pass holders but don’t go there often enough (there is simply not enough hours in a day!). In the ideal world I would like to pick up one or two local parks and go there often enough throughout the year to be able to spot the different patterns throughout the seasons. Easier said than done as I find myself looking for an indoor activities/ theatres/ concert halls as soon as the temperature drops below 14 degrees.

I have recently started to think that all my ‘I love nature’ projects are very much ‘summer and theory based’ activities and perhaps I should try harder to embark on similar throughout the year (note to myself: Do not scream when you see a spider. Try to calm yourself and then call the children and ask them to study a beautiful silky web and if feeling brave enough his ‘looovely’ hairy legs😉 followed by Google facts and interesting stories – that is all in an ‘ideal’ world remember!).

Arthur has been asking (read: nagging me) to get live catepillars which I finally did for a second year running. It is a brilliant project and it really connects these little minds with the nature but the stage when catepillars are ‘fat’ (I cannot think of any other word describing it better!) looks gruesome (another note: say ‘interesting’ while talking to children ;-)). So I got it under condition that he keep them in his bedroom so he can ‘keep a close eye on them’. I remember last year we had them present on our dining table for most of the time and it really put me off from our family meals (sadly hasn’t lost any weight as a result??? hmm…).

So the stage has come when they need to be transferred from the small jar into the butterfly garden (which is basically a small net with a lid) which entails taking them out and gently (and bravely!) moving across. The children are expecting me to take care of this job this afternoon. I just need to make sure they are ‘busy enough’ with their after school activities (thanks god for karate!) to forget about it for a while until… their brave daddy and my saviour husband walks in!😉

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Half joking half serious😉 but all in all it is a great fun and together with ‘Live Cycle Stages’ models and Usborne book on ‘Catepillars and Buterflies’ it makes a great nature project for any child any age.

I wonder what our next Insect Lore project is going to be (and so is Arthur!). I shall stay away from stick insects for the time being (…) but there is still a great selection to chose from (for less brave ;-)) i.e. ladybirds, ants, snails and worms (right…). So snails that is!😉

Insect Lore Butterfly Garden:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Insect-Lore-01010-Butterfly-Garden/dp/B00000ISC5/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1443438974&sr=8-1&keywords=insect+lore

Live Cycle Stages Butterfly:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Insect-Lore-04760-Stages-Butterfly/dp/B000099Z95/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1443438913&sr=8-6&keywords=insect+lore

Usborne Beginners ‘Catepillars and Butetrflies‘  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Caterpillars-Butterflies-Beginners-Stephanie-Turnbull/dp/0794503780/ref=sr_1_sc_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1443439091&sr=8-2-spell&keywords=usborne+catepillars+and+butterflies

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Is a contemporary art sliding as fast as Holler’s slides?

And nope I do not attempt to suddenly switch from writing about the family and children to contemporary art topics although if I attend a few more of the contemporary art exhibitions in the near future one never knows…

And yes I have learnt the lesson by now namely it is by far easier to criticize than create and hence I do weight my words before they leave my mouth or keyboard rather but at the same token one needs to reserve a right to express its own opinion however harsh it may seems…

Carsten Holler’s ‘Decision’ exhibition at the Southbank Centre was our second trip to London in a week – I think we all missed London very much after being away on holiday for over five weeks! There is no other place like London – it has its own pros and cons but once you fall in love with its pros and get used to its cons it is hard to walk away from it all, its buzz and intellectual stimulation, its never ending choice of first class art, music and culture!

And so it was – the last day of the Holler’s exhibition – we had to queue for 40 minutes to get the tickets for!

The entrance to the exhibition was simply great! Holler called it ‘Decision Corridors’ which were simply dark, curvy corridors, surrounded by a complete darkness with only a tiny dots of lights scattered around. You totally depend on your sense of hearing and touch – trying to get a feel as to what is coming up next before you are being rushed by a sliding surface you are walking on. Lots of fun – we were all holding our hands together while travelling through the tunnel, laughing and literally forgetting about the outside world.

It was a brilliant introduction and it is a real shame that the exhibition itself has not lived up to its ‘delayed entrance’ expectation. After that there were simply a number of installations which had an ample of theory behind them but not much of a novelty or innovation factor. Nothing inspirational enough, nothing anyone of us felt moved by, except the ‘Two flying Machines’ which were flying devices designed to ‘stimulate flight, soaring high above the traffic of Waterloo Bridge’ totally exposed to the element. The only ‘problem’ was that the queue to get on was almost as long as the Waterloo Bridge itself and the age limit was 14 so we did not get an opportunity to try it on to a huge disappointment of my children of course.

There was the Flying Mushrooms installation, red and white fungi placed back together which supposed to give an impression of the mushrooms flying while pushing the installation bar, rather monotonous and uninspiring.

The same can be said about any other exhibits – a very flashy names and theory has been given to a rather bland and tired installations ie The Forests (two screens on the opposite ends being watched simultaneously), Two Roaming Beds (short footage shot at night in the middle of winter symbolizing entry into the dream world – luckily my dreams are much more interesting than this!) and the Pinocchio Effect (where by stimulating certain muscles we supposed to alter or rather make believe that we are altering the size of our nose – hardly worked for us).

And of course the Isomeric Slides where you were invited to exit the gallery in a rather unconventional way – place your leg inside some linen bag and ‘experience a unique condition somewhere between delight and madness’. Certainly the intention was there but other than that the children were rather disappointed that they only can have a one go (as were used to quite a number of goes at the water slides they just did throughout the summer holidays!) while me… had to keep my head down making sure it doesn’t hit the top of the slide which was rather low (too low). I can certainly say the experience of delight and madness was a long way off. I know it as I tend to experience both states quite often while spending time with my children – delighted while looking at their achievements or often simple smiles really and madness… well we all know these evenings where everything and everyone seem to be out of control and the line between madness and sanity is no longer visible…

If I were to give one advice to Carsten (not that he will ever listen to my advice in the first place ;-)) it would be to gather a small group of creative 5 to 10 year old and… let them play, let them experiment, let them explore their creativity! I can assure you they will come up with far more interesting and exciting installations than you have kindly did. Sorry if it sounds too harsh but all three of mine said the same ‘the long dark corridor was the best part of the exhibition mummy’.

And I would totally agree – the so called ‘Decision Corridors’ set up the expectations really high but there was nothing more to it all than a few old tatty concepts which did nothing to ones mind other than the usual glare.

I was not feeling stimulated by any of the exhibits by no means. If you walk into the room and look at the installation and all you can feel is a sense of confusion that is not what I would call a Good Art’. If you need to dig into your pocket and look for the explanatory leaflet given to you at the entry point then it is a sign that the exhibition failed in my opinion. The experience should be self-explanatory, you should be taken into a journey which artist created and designed for you, making you feel like you are his guest and he is a host taking you inside his artistic world.

The Good Art should be able to defend itself, should be able to speak for itself! If all I could think standing in front of an installation is ‘Where is the leaflet’ then obviously something is not right. I would love the Art to engage me to the point of forgetting for a moment about reality and taking me into a journey that I will remember long after I left the gallery.

The case with contemporary art is that it needs lots of space, many pages of explanation as to what it represents, what are its origins and why are we supposed to call it art and not simply what it truly is namely a Thing which is not a Thing purely because an Artist said so. I remember a recent visit to Serpentine gallery at the Hyde Park. I had no idea what the ‘artist’s’ name was, all I can recall were different size blocks made of concrete or stone hanging from the walls/ ceilings and.. pages and pages of ‘Information booklet’ you were given in order to ‘fully understand’ the ‘art’ or the stones rather (at least if they were talking stones things would be much more interesting…). And every time any of my children were trying to touch the stone they were told ‘please do not touch the artwork’. I would normally wholeheartedly agree but on this occasion I could not help but thinking that dropping some of this ‘stony artwork’ on the floor would most certainly benefit them…

It’s a bit like ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ type of thing – nobody has got enough courage to call things for what they really are. The Emperor is naked, Tracy Emin’s ‘Unmade Bed’ is just a messy bed and Carsten Holler’s ‘Isomeric Slides’ are simply children’s slides in the wrong place at the wrong time – it is time to grow up Carsten…

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Jousting thrill at Hampton Court Palace

It was a choice between watching Roger Federer playing against Novak Djokovic at the Wimbledon final or heading off to Hampton Court Palace to enjoy the Tudor Summer jousting show.

I suppose if we had tickets to watch Wimbledon live we would most certainly head over there but as we didn’t😉 we have chosen the Hampton Court and… loved every minute of it!

As we arrived we immersed ourselves straight into the jousting spectacle. There were two happening in the day and we managed to see them both, each from a different place which gave us a great overview.

There was an arena set up for Queen Mary I and her husband, Philip II of Spain and their court to sit and watch the jousting. The knights on their horses were galloping alongside the long semi-high wooden wall carefully constructed to resemble the Tudor era. The royal couple has actually hosted the jousting competition in 1557 at Hampton Court Palace celebrating Philip’s return to England after being away from his wife since September 1555 after her first pregnancy proved false. I thought I will mention it – what an innovative way to deal with your marital problems!😉

It was like a one big spectacle acted with such a skill that it truly made you believe you have transported yourself back into the Tudor Summer Palace. It started with arming of the knights preparing for the joust. All three of our children were taken aback after learning that the armour can be as heavy as 50 kg. They were able to see all the different layers the knights were putting on.

Meanwhile on the arena the fine Andalusian Stallions Spanish horses were put through their paces and performed many interesting tricks.

The joust itself was a great thrill! It was a much-loved sport during the Tudor era and the knights who competed were considered celebrities. Full of excitement and adrenaline, two opponents on horseback rode towards each other at speed. Armed with wooden lance, each would try to strike his opponent’s shield or jousting armour or even knock him off the horse. The live commentary provided by one of the court members was excellent – his jokes and use of historical language contributed to the experience a lot.

The children have learnt that ‘squires’ in not only mummy’s favourite coffee morning meeting place but also the knight in training!😉.

The spectacle was excellent with audience cheering every time the knights confronted and their lances would hit one another and break into many small pieces flying into the air (they were purposely constructed that way to look more attractive for the watching public ;-)). The first jousting ended with the Spanish knight winning while they drawed second time around.

Arthur was convinced these were the real knights and were fighting for real. He was sitting on my hubs knees watching with his mouth wide open (literally) and taking it all in. He was a little bit apprehensive when the knights first confronted each other but he was smiling with excitement every time from then on.

There was so much happening on the day. The English and Spanish court showed off their dance skills and the traditional musicians were playing a Tudor music.

There was also a tent with some traditional wooden games for the children. Ours spent ages playing with wooden skittles – looked easier than it seemed!

We had a picnic in the Palace gardens and the children explored some royal carriages dating back to XVI century.

A fine day of celebrations! As we were walking back to the car via Bushy park (which is where we normally park when visiting the Palace) the children humming ‘God save the Queen’ which we thought was rather amusing😉.

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PIY (Plan It Yourself):

http://www.hrp.org.uk/HamptonCourtPalace/Default.aspx

How to get there:

By train:

Hampton Court (35 min from Waterloo)

By car:

You can park at the Palace at £1.60 per hour or on Hampton Court Green at £1.50 per hour (Palace postcode is KT8 9AU).

If you however don’t mind some 10 -15 minute stroll via beautiful Bushy Park then it is best to park at their car park for free (TW12 2EJ).

Cost:

We paid with Tesco Clubcard vouchers (£40) and paid some extra £12 in cash on the day (you cannot purchase a family tickets in conjunction with the vouchers so we had to do it separately namely 2 adult tickets and 2 children tickets, third child under 5).

Adult £19.30 (or £18.20 online)

Child £9.70 (or £9.10 online) under 5s free

Family tickets (2+3) £48.20 (or £44.90 online)

Best SAVING offer:

The best thing you can do to save is to then (and it doesn’t have to be done on the day, I have checked with an Information desk and ‘as long as it is not a ridiculous amount of time ie some one year later’) you can upgrade your tickets into the Membership category.

Membership is a fantastic value for money as it allows you to see ALL five palaces (Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Banqueting House, Kensington Palace and Kew Palace) for a year (plus an extra 3 months free special offer running at the moment). You can also save an additional £10 when you pay by Direct Debit.

Individual membership £47 (DD £37)

Joint membership – 2 adults £71 (DD £61)

Family membership – 1 adult and up to 6 children (!) £59 (DD £49)

Family membership – 2 adults and up to 6 children (wow!) £90 (DD £80).

So for us as a family of 5 would be £80 minus £10 special offer (so £70) so it would cost us only some  £18 to upgrade to a membership category! Planning to do it as soon as we are back from our holidays!

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