Cafe in the Crypt at St. Martins in the Fields London

St. Martins in the Fields & Cafe in the Crypt

On our last trip to London, we were wondering around near Trafalger Square.  It was actually hot and sunny and we were all dragging a little bit and looking for a good place to sit and cool off for awhile.  (Not to mention a certain person need the loo (aka the bathroom).  We saw some stairs that went down below the sidewalk and of course we had to figure out where they went!  As it turns out they went to the St. Martins in the Fields Crypt.  It was all stone and there was a cafe, bathrooms, a shop and a chance to do some brass rubbing!

My very talented husband put together a little video of our activity so you can  get an idea of what this amazing place was like.  It would be very easy to miss this place and it is truly thanks to the curiosity of a six year old that we had to explore!

Grovelands Park in Winchmore Hill, London

Grovelands Park Winchmore Hill

Grovelands Park Winchmore HillWe headed out one chilly, wet Sunday morning to Grovelands Park.  While visiting the London area we always seek out parks.  I think parks (other than tea) are one of the things that the British do best!

Grovelands has the required cute cafe, with snacks, cold drinks and of course good coffee and tea!  The patio overlooks the kids playground and the lake.  It is a lovely place to enjoy a few quiet moments.  The patio also has a few plastic houses for the toddlers to play with while their parents catch their breath!

This park has two playgrounds, the one near the cafe is for younger kids and has all the Grovelands Park Winchmore Hillstandards plus it is wheelchair accessible.  The second playground is a natural climbing area for bigger kids.  I love this area, it is in the wooded area of the park and is a perfect place to practice those climbing skills.

We walked through the wooded area and climbed trees, crossed a dry creek bed, and enjoyed nature to the hilt!

Grovelands Park Winchmore HillThis park has a lovely wide path that parents and kids were busy running, biking and walking around the large lake.  There is huge field that seemed to be the best destination for dogs to run, kids to play ball and even picnics.  Don’t forget the outdoor workout station for the parents to use! Oh, I almost forgot there were kids fishing in the pond too!

We could easily spend an entire day here playing and picnicking and biking!

Click Here for the location and directions to Woodlands Grove Park.

Grovelands Park Winchmore Hill
Loved this sign, asking that you not feed birds bread, but cut up grapes and frozen peas instead.

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Trent County Park in London, UK

Trent Park

Trent ParkWe always have to visit Trent County Park whenever we are visiting London!  I love the country feel, the natural walkways and my daughter loves the playgrounds!  This park has over 400 acres of land.  We hike the area (at a very, very, very slow pace) in about an hour, and I love the views of rolling meadows, hay fields, small ponds, open fields for football (soccer) and large woodlands.

Younger Playground at Trent Park
There are 2 playgrounds, the one for kids under 8 is right by the Cafe.  I love this playground and it is clearly well thought out!  It is built with natural materials that blend into the wooded area around it.  It offers some great “ropes course” type challenges that are just right for younger kids.  It also has a climbing area perfect for toddlers and tiny tots.

Cafe at Trent Park
The younger playground is right next to the cafe!  This is one of the best things about parks in the UK!  You are almost always guaranteed a cup of tea at least!  The Cafe at Trent County Park did not let us down!  We got burgers and sandwiches that were fabulous!  The staff was great and there was even indoor seating that was very comfortable!

The older playground is much the same as the younger one, but much, much more 8 & up  Playground at Trent Parkchallenging!  Ropes courses, and high climbs built with wood and natural materials are aimed at kids 8 and up.

There is also a really neat ropes & zip line course on the property.  We didn’t get to try it because the minimum age is too old for my child yet.  It is called Go Ape and it looked really fun!  I can’t wait to try it on our next Trent Park Go Ape Entrancetrip when my daughter is old enough.  The views of Trent Park from the ground are stunning, so I can only imagine that from the tree tops they will be spectacular! I chatted with one Dad and his son who had just completed the course and he said that it was “challenging, but doable”.

According to signs in the area the park is part of Walk the Look Trent Parka Green Belt and you can hike 150 miles around London from this point.  .

Trent County Park is located near the Cockfusters & Oakwood Stations.  For more information and Directions Click Here.

The Week Ahead for South Florida (From London) for 6/26/14

The London Eye
Big Ben
Big Ben

We are a little sad this evening, this will be the last post from London!  We have had such a great time, wondering London, visiting parks, but most of all spending time with Nana & Papa.  We have invaded their home, run their washing machine constantly, eaten all their food and are grateful to have such great people in our lives!

It was lovely to see my daughter get to know her grandparents better, and I will never forget how she and Nana can sit and giggle together.

Click here for the full list of upcoming events, or scroll on down to see a few pictures of some of the places that I will be writing about in the next few months.

The Palace
I wonder if the Queen is home?

Palace

Kevan kindly gave us a tour of the famous Who Shop & Museum.
Kevan kindly gave us a tour of the famous Who Shop & Museum.
The Globe
I was dying to get in here, however we arrived to late to tour the inside.
The London Eye
The London Eye
Canal Boat Tour of Regent's Canal
Canal Boat Tour of Regent’s Canal
Big Ben
Big Ben

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here for the full list of upcoming events

Thanks to our sponsors, please be sure to check them out!
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Hatfield House Museum, Gardens and Shops near London UK

Hatfield House Museum and Gardens near London

Hatfield House Museum and Gardens near LondonWe have been having a lovely trip to the London area this time around.  Well, we always seem to.  My in-laws claim we bring the heat with us from Florida!  It has been near 80 and sunny everyday and the humidity has never been over 50%.  There has been a cool constant breeze, so perfect for me!  Those of you from Florida will understand that this is perfect weather. Those here in the London area seem to think it is very hot. I will say, that it is perfect outside, but since no one has AC here, the tube and indoor places can be uncomfortable.   I can’t believe all the amazing photo’s of the castle’s (sorry, not castles, houses and palace, apparently there is a difference) with blue sky and white, fluffy clouds!

We headed out to Hatfield House, and we didn’t even get to finish seeing everything!  We Hatfield House Museum and Gardens near Londonstarted our day with the House Museum Tour, some shopping, and of course the Gardens!  We will have to come back another day to see the Children’s Adventure Playground and the Farm!

The House

The House Museum is amazing!  This house is 400 years old, it is still  lived in (well a portion of it anyway) by the family.  It is truly like walking into the past.  There is one section that still has the original floor and you can imagine the people who may have

Hatfield House Museum and Gardens near London
Toys displayed in the armory at Hatfield House.

walked there.  The grounds also includes the Old Palace that was used as a nursery for Princesses and Princes of England.  (I called it a Castle and was informed that Hatfield House is a House and the Palace is a Palace and neither are Castles.  King Henry VIII even owned it in 1558.

Okay, so here is the scoop, if you have really rambunctious kids little tiny ones, I would suggest that you take turns going through the house, while another adult entertains the kids.  If you have school age kids ask for the Animal Quiz when you get in.  The kids can search each room to answer questions and learn a little history as they go.  My 6 year old was impressively good, so you know your kids and what would interest them.

I loved the kitchen and I could just imagine how many people it took to make all that food from scratch, grinding herbs and four, the pastry making room, the ovens, even a scullery!

The Gardens

Hatfield House Museum and Gardens near LondonThe Gardens are my favorite part!  There are little hidey holes where the kids get a kick out of sticking their heads through to see you, loads of amazing real grass that just screams “take your shoes off and walk on me”.  For those with stroller (aka buggies for the Brits) there are paths creating a perfect place for Mommas (Mums) to get out with babies in good weather.

The sculptures change out every September, we had a great time taking pictures with them.  Different gardens are open on different days. I also loved the wildflower meadows it  also had some sculpture and art.

The Shops

This area had some shopping and a Cafe.  The shopping was fun, the gift shop had some Hatfield House Museum and Gardens near Londonreasonably priced things and also some high end things.  Probably something for everyone.  They had some unique toys that were very tempting to me, like “How to build a Crystal Radio just like your grandfather did”.  I am wishing now that I had bought it.  Also they had some great knight, and soldier play clothes.  They were around 19 pounds (I don’t have the pound sign on my computer) so that is something like 35 dollars.

The Cafe was okay, the bathrooms were clean and tidy.  That is always nice.  There was room for strollers inside (buggies) that always makes eating easier for Mommas (Mummies).  The only complaint I had was that the cafe had run out of bottles of water (aka still water).  I had to hunt some down at the Sweet Shop (yeah, that was unfortunate).  The cafe then ran out of trays, then utensils and it was not really very busy.

The Sweet Shop

We were traveling with a friend from the US who (like my husband) grew up in the UK.  They had a great time in the sweet shop and said it took them back to their childhood.  So you have to pop into the sweet shop and pick up a bit of candy (sweeties).

Click here for the link to Hatfield House for prices, and directions.

 

What Geek Families Must See in London, from TARDIS to Platform 9 3/4

Waiting for the Doctor to return to his TARDIS parked outside Earls Court Station in London
Waiting for the Doctor to return to hisTARDIS parked outside Earls Court Station in London

****Update******

We headed back here this past summer to try to stalk the Doctor.  He was nowhere to be found, but the Tardis is still there!  I wanted to add this link for my fellow Whovians.  One of my readers sent it in.  Google Maps lets you enter the Earls Court Tardis and even walk around a little!  Follow this link for a Timey Wimy Wibbly Wobbly look. Thank you Google Maps.

*******
I am truly a geek at heart but luckily my slightly geek family is very understanding and tend to join into my geek like passions, like finding the TARDIS in London and even trying to get onto Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross Station.

We had the great luck to get to go to London earlier this summer during the Queens Diamond Jubilee.  We were so lucky to get to see some really great places for kids.

For anyone visiting the London area I will be posting over the next week or two many of our favorite family friendly places.

I thought I would start today with a couple of easy and free ones!  The kids love to ride the train and tube so even getting there will be fun!  I know this will probably only appeal to those of you who are geeks like me! But I promise I have more to come that will appeal to everyone!

TARDIS parked outside Earls Court Station in London
Waiting for the Doctor to return to his TARDIS parked outside Earls Court Station in London

Take Ride on the TARDIS:  Okay well maybe you won’t get a ride but, at least you can get your picture taken with it. If you or your family are Doctor Who fans then you cannot miss this! My darling husband found this for me and what a find it is!  Yes, We found the TARDIS. You know the Doctors Time And Relative Dimension In Space Ship? The hubby  earned big brownie points with me for finding this!  It is parked right in front of Earls Court Station.  You can’t miss it!  Earls Court Station is on the Underground Piccadilly Line.

Don’t worry if you can’t make it to London to see it, Google Maps now has a really cool opportunity to see inside the TARDIS.  Check it out!

Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross in London
Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross in London

Platform 9 3/4:  For those of you who are Harry Potter fans!  You must get your photo taken at Kings Cross Platform 9 3/4.  Yes, it is  really there.  Okay, I must remind you not to really run into the wall though because, sadly you are a Muggle and the wall will hurt you.  The Department of Transportation and the Ministry of Magic left a luggage cart half way through so you can find it easily!  Kings Cross is a main Underground and Overground Station so it easy to get to from almost anywhere.

 

 

Muggle husband trying to get onto Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross in London
My muggle husband trying to get onto Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross in London

 

We saw many wonderful places and had an amazing summer. We had the chance to see The Harry Potter Studio Tour ( we loved it) and The Princess Diana Memorial Playground which was the most amazing playground I have ever seen, and The Hedge Maze at Caple Manors Gardens and College in Enfield was one of our favorites!

Capel Manor Gardens Enfield London

Ruins at Caple Manors Gardens in Enfield UK
Capel Manors Gardens

We had the great privilege to go to London last summer.  We saw many wonderful places and had an amazing summer. We had the chance to see The Harry Potter Studio Tour ( we loved it) and The Princess Diana Memorial Playground which was the most amazing playground I have ever seen  We found the The Doctor’s Tardis and even visited Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross Station!  (Yes, we really did, you can read about it in my blog What Geek Families Must See in London!)  Even with all of this, Caple Manors Gardens and College in Enfield was one of our favorites!

I wasn’t sure the kids were going to enjoy it, but my daughter and her cousins seemed to have a great time.  Oh and if you are a photographer you will think that you have died and gone onto heaven!  It didn’t hurt that we were there on a rare sunny London day either.

We were there for the Heavy Horse Show and the kids got to go on a carriage ride, and see many, many horses as well as see the amazing gardens!  The Gardens offer many Events throughout the year.

There are many different landscapes throughout the gardens and there is one to meet everyone’s tastes.  If you like modern stylized gardens or wildflower filled fairy lands you will be amazed.  There was even a garden designed for people with allergies!

My daughter had two favorites parts.  Part one (and yes I liked it too) was the ruins.  They are not actually ruins, but they replicated to be the most beautiful setting for a wedding, photo shoot or just to sit and read a book.  We spent a good amount of time hanging around on the benches and letting the kids run around the ruins.

Lastly, if your like me, you will expect to go into a hedge maze on a trip to England. Caple Manors will not let you down on this expectation.  The kids had a great time, as did we!  One (hopefully) unnecessary word of warning though, Do not enter the Hedge Maze if you have any inkling that you may be needing the restroom anytime soon.

I almost forgot the animals.  There are a few goats and couple of pigs for the kids to see as well.

We had a beautiful day with the family and took some candid shots of our family that we will certainly cherish for a long time to come.

Capel Manor Gardens and College

 

 

Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tours in London

Image of WB Harry Potter Studio Tour from entrance
WB Harry Potter Studio Tour
Image of Honey Dukes Shop Window at WB Harry Potter Studio Tour in LondonWe had a chance this summer to visit the WB Harry Potter Studio Tours in London.  I was so excited about this tour!  I was also very nervous that I would be let down, I just didn’t know what to expect!  We have family in Watford so we got dropped off at Watford Junction (closest station to the studios). For some reason I was expecting the Knight Bus, but that was a bit too much to expect. A round trip bus ride to the WB Harry Potter Studios is 2 pounds.
Harry Potter Studio Tour

My nerves were working overtime because I was bringing my 4 year old with me and I just was not sure how that was going to go over.

Cafeteria at WB Harry Potter Studio Tour in London
WB Harry Potter Studio Tour

We arrive to see a very flashy new entrance with giant pictures of our favorite characters looking down at us.  There is also a huge gift shop where it would be very easy to spend a gazillion Galleons on wands, brooms, and chocolate frogs.  You have to buy your tickets in advance and give a time to arrive, in order to make sure that lines and crowds are kept to a minimum.  We really did not encounter huge crowds and the organization was impeccable!  There is also a cafe with with food and snacks.  We had a snack there after our tour, it was very nice with some great healthy options too.

The front doors of Hogwarts at WB Harry Potter Studio Tour in London
WB Harry Potter Studio Tour

When we entered, we were shown a short film of the actors who play Hermionie, Harry and Ron who tell us how they pretty much grew up on this set, and then “magically” something lifts and we are all standing before the doors to the Hogwarts Great Hall.

This place was amazing!  It is not a theme park so do not expect that! However,  if you have any interest in the craft movie making or are a Harry Potter nut like me, you will be amazed to walk through the Great Hall and Diagon Alley. More than that though, the volunteers and staff members are full of incredible facts about everything you will see, like how all the Wand Boxes are hand labeled and how it took 86 artists to create the 1:24 scale construction of the Hogwarts Castle and Grounds.  The model was used for aerial scenes and even though you can’t see them, I am told there are little tiny owls in the Owlery!

To scale model of Hogwarts Castle used for filming WB Harry Potter Studio Tour in London
WB Harry Potter Studio Tour

Who knew that the Giant Chess game played by Harry, Ron and Hermione were actually built and the pieces are huge!  I thought they were just computer models!

I couldn’t believe I was standing looking into the Weasley’s Kitchen, Snape’s Potions Classroom and I even knocked on the Dursley’s front door! (Petunia wouldn’t let me in though).  The docent outside the Potions Classroom told us how there is actually a recipe to make the dust that covers many of the bottles around the room.

Potions Classroom at WB Harry Potter Studio Tour in London
Potions Classroom WB Studio
Animatronics parts used in filming at WB Harry Potter Studio Tour in London
WB Harry Potter Studio Tour

I was also impressed at how my daughter handled it.  They had a Passport type book for the kids to carry around and get an embossing type stamp at different stations throughout the tour.  She is too young for the books and movies, but she seemed genuinely interested in seeing and hearing about the things we were looking at.

Oh, and yes there was Butterbeer, if you like Rootbeer you may like it. It wasn’t my thing, but others in my group liked it.

Dobby's Feet at WB Harry Potter Studio Tour in London
WB Harry Potter Studio Tour

One of my favorite sections was the robotics that were used.  They have one of Hagrid’s Biting Book on display snapping away, they also have an opened up one so you can see the working parts. Forks was on his perch and Buckbeak was there as well.  I couldn’t possibly name here everything we saw, there is so much. Lastly I will mention the artwork!  The masks of the the House Elf’s  (Dobby specifically) were so amazingly detailed and realistic!  I cannot imagine being an artist on this set and getting to work on so many incredible objects.  The creativity flows out of everywhere all at once.

The Great Hall at WB Harry Potter Studio Tour in London
Great Hall WB Studios

You can see yourself riding on a broom or in the Ford Anglia on a green screen and get a picture taken of it.  You can also get your picture taken for “Most Wanted” in the gift shop.  We did this but please be aware.  The place the rolled up posted (which is thin newsprint) in a square tube that has been stored flat.  Therefore it folds flat again easily and will put creases that remove the printing ink in your poster.  Ours didn’t even make it back to where we were staying, let alone back to America.  Where it was creased it rubbed off the ink and I had to have it scanned and digitally fixed. (Yes I am that big a dork).  It was fairly expensive and I have made the Studio’s aware, but have not heard yet had a response. I hope that they will change the way the posters are handed out. (They never did respond).

By the end of it I couldn’t believe I had thought I would be let down, this place is wonderful!  The staff were knowledgeable and friendly. I could have gone a second day!  I really could have! It was expensive, but well worth it for us! Movie Magic is really an education all in itself and anyone who has any interest in the craft of it will be amazed. (Even if you are not a Potter Head!)

Don’t forget to visit Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross Station. Yes it is really there!

We saw many wonderful places and had an amazing summer. We had the chance to see The Harry Potter Studio Tour ( we loved it) and The Princess Diana Memorial Playground which was the most amazing playground I have ever seen  We found the The Doctor’s Tardis and even visited Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross Station!  (Yes, we really did, you can read about it in my blog What Geek Families Must See in London!)  The Hedge Maze at Caple Manors Gardens and College in Enfield was one of our favorites!

Princess Diana Memorial Playground at Kensington Gardens

Captain Hook's Ship Playground at Princess Diana Memorial Playground
Princess Diana Memorial Playground

This was probably my daughters favorite playground.  Please don’t make the mistake that we made and get there in the evening right before they close.  You and your child will want plenty of time to play here.  I have no way of knowing, but I can only image that Princess Diana would have been very proud to have her name to this absolute fantasy land of a playground that is free to all kids. There are many memorials to her name in London, but I can’t think of any that are more fitting and appropriate.

 Princess Diana Memorial Playground
Princess Diana Memorial Playground

The playground is in Kensington Gardens and if you are there in the summer you will see amazing flowers, gardens and of course roses on your walk through Kensington Gardens to the Playground.  The Playground has attendants available for first aid, bathrooms, is accessible to those with disabilities, and also a gate attendant.  One thing I really liked is that adults are not allowed in without a child, except for an hour in the morning before the Playground officially opens.

Lost Boys Cabins at  Princess Diana Memorial Playground
Princess Diana Memorial Playground

The Playground is really big and there are lots of beautiful oasis areas tucked away around the playground, so if you have very young children do not expect to be able to sit and let them run free while you drink your coffee, as you can’t see them everywhere they go.  The good news is, you will want to explore as much as they do so you can enjoy it right along with them.  There are plenty of benches and picnic tables available in each section as well.

Princess Diana Memorial Playground
Princess Diana Memorial Playground

The Playground itself has been developed with natural materials and lends itself to imaginative play in nature.  One section offers kids and their parents a chance to make music with chimes and different materials.  One area has a square metal pads laid into the ground and when you jump on them they sound beautiful chiming tones.  These are not sounds that parents are going to feel they want to get away from, but sounds that ring in the beauty of nature in the serene garden setting.

Teepee Play area at Princess Diana Memorial Playground
Princess Diana Memorial Playground

I find myself failing for words to describe this place.  I could have stayed there all day! Climbing structures, rocking boats, Teepees, carved animals, swings, a full sized pirate ship to climb in, green spaces to run and so much more all in a garden setting that lives up to the British ability to create gardens that will impress even those with the least interest in floral life.  I am sure this is what Never Never Land is really like. I found myself keeping an eye out the entire time in case Peter, Tink and the Lost Boys showed up.

Snack area at Princess Diana Memorial Playground
Princess Diana Memorial Playground

I also have to give a thumbs up to the British and their dedication to tea!  Many of the parks we visited had cafes open right on the playgrounds and this one is no exception.  Check out the pictures and video to get an idea.  I don’t think I can do it justice with words.

Princess Diana Memorial Playground
Princess Diana Memorial Playground

As far as I can tell the nearest Tube Station is Knightsbridge.  Opening times change throughout the year so be sure to check before you go.

We saw many wonderful places and had an amazing summer. We had the chance to see The Harry Potter Studio Tour ( we loved it) and The Princess Diana Memorial Playground which was the most amazing playground I have ever seen  We found the The Doctor’s Tardis and even visited Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross Station!  (Yes, we really did, you can read about it in my blog What Geek Families Must See in London!)  The Hedge Maze at Caple Manors Gardens and College in Enfield was one of our favorites!