Our fabulous free London day

6 Aug

Summer Snapshot Aug 04 14h-57m-14s by Southbank Centre London.

On Tuesday we visited London’s Southbank Centre for a day of entirely free entertainment.  I should state at the outset that I took our babysitter Camellia, the best nanny in the world, (she told me to say that) to help out, so I did spend some money.  I could have managed the day by myself, but it wouldn’t have been as fun and would probably have involved a lot more yelling and running around like a headless chicken (by me).

First up we went to the British Film Institute for one of their family IMG_0130activity sessions, which are space themed this summer, in honour of the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing.  The boys made collages out of moon photos and shiny paper rockets.  Eve built a plasticine alien, which she then made a short stop motion animation with.  It was a great little introduction to film making, but sadly we couldn’t keep a copy of the film.  If we had wanted to continue our day at the BFI, we could have watched a space related children’s film such as ET, but we were off to our next free activity.

There was a 30 minute wait for the Youth Music Box, so we put our names down and went to play in the Royal Festival Hall glass lift.  After having a look at the fantastic view from the sixth floor, and a big-boy-standing-up-wee in the lovely loos, we noticed that the poetry library on the 5th floor had a children’s section with lots of comfy looking beanbags.  So we read some poems until our 30 minutes was up.

The Youth Music Box is a recording studio where you can record your own track using cutting edge technology.  The short session starts with a tutorial, then you record your music complete with light show and finally listen to what you have done.  When we got home, we watched a film of our short recording here.

Next the children donned their swimsuits to play in the temporary ‘Appearing Rooms’ fountains that are a summer feature outside the Royal Festival Hall.  The walls of water appear and disappear randomly, creating rooms, and I think the aim is to stand inside the fountain and still stay dry.  If you are a small child however, the aim is to get as wet as possible.  This is a perennially popular activity in our family and we only managed to drag them away as they were turning blue.

Dried and dressed, we went to have our picture taken (above) as part of the Southbank Centre’s collective summer journal, followed by a non-free, but delicious ice cream sundae for the children from EAT.

By now, everyone was flagging a bit, so it was time for our final activity.  A walk over Hungerford Bridge for a close up of the trains, took us to Trafalgar Square and a look at the 4th plinth.  My application to be a Plinther has not been successful, so I had to content myself with watching a clown (I think) catching fish and chasing pigeons away. 

Now very tired, we got the bus home down Whitehall and through Parliament Square for tea, after a busy and satisfying day.

The Southbank Centre has an amazing array of free activities to choose from every day throughout the summer holidays.  Among other things, we could have swum in a pool, watched sandcastles being sculpted by professionals, listened to concerts, had dance classes or attended a sceance.  It is near Waterloo Station, therefore easy to get to from all over the south of England, so what are you waiting for?

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