Seven things for Wanstead kids to do in half-term

Suki Orange is normally Wansteadium’s food blogger, but here she turns her hand to selecting some stuff to do around these parts over half-term.

1. Stratford Circus – the wonderful theatre which is quicker to get to by Tube than John Lewis at Westfield – has a week of “Spring into Summer” events this week, including playing with interactive artists. It’s aimed at children aged 0-8, but will set you back about £8.

2. So if that’s not for you, the gem that is the Museum of Childhood has a variety of events all about spying… disguises, I-spy trails, clues and so on. Sounds like it might be fun – and it’s always a joy to go there in any case. And though the cafe is very nice, it can be pricey. But the great thing about it is there’s a room downstairs designed for BYO lunches. My kind of place.

3. Stratford Picture House has a range of children’s films on all this week at good times – 11am, 1pm etc – and you don’t need to go near the Vue in Westfield to enjoy them. Though personally I’m more tempted by the Barbican’s offering on Saturday of Laurel and Hardywith live accompaniment. Of course, you might be thinking that if you can survive as long as Saturday, that will be achievement enough. But it’s worth bearing in mind. Personally I might use it as a threat/reward type thing.

4. If you’ve never read Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, well friends, you’ve missed out on a treat. The work of Mo Willems, schooled in the ways of Sesame Street (a favourite in the Orange house), is an undiminishing joy. The book (the original in a series) is being dramatised today, Monday, in Wanstead Library. I’m not sure if you’ll get tickets at this stage, but if you have, good choice. And if you haven’t buy a copy here.

5. You may be tempted by a trip into town, in which case I think the South Bank centre might be worth a look. Amid everything that’s going on they have a workshop for 6+ year-olds about the importance of bees. It sounds like watching Bee Movie without having to sit on the sofa. And as all regular Wansteadium readers know, bees are a concern round our way.

6. Last week we discovered the Redbridge Lakes. We had never heard of them, but they are definitely good for an hour or two if the sun in shining, and they’re free. Get close to nature – fish included – and there’s a cafe too. And parking. What’s not to like (apart from the fishing, if that’s not your thing). It’s at Roding Lane North, about three minutes from Charlie Brown roundabout.

7. I’ve tried to keep these things to do relatively local, so why on earth am I suggesting going to the Horniman Museum, which is without doubt in South London? Is it just the freakishly realistic stuffed animals that meets you as you go in? Is it the bizarre air of a Victorian obsession intricately pieced together? Is it the fantastic gardens or the nature trail-type events laid on for half-term? Yes, to all of those. But the real selling point for us in Wanstead is that it’s so easy to get there. Central Line to Stratford, then Jubilee Line to Canada Water, then London Overground to Forest Hill. It’s a walk up the hill from the station (passing some fine coffee shops) but the whole journey should take less than an hour. No need to thank me.

Well I hope that’s useful – do share any other suggestions with the commonweal, using the comments form or on Wanstead Talk.

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