Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Horniman Museum having a facelift

Yesterday I took the children for an Easter holiday visit to the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill. It's a great favourite of ours and is a fantastic resource for families in South London. Luckily I didn't take a picnic because unfortunately we were greeted with this scene, approaching the picnic benches and mini-zoo area.

It's as shame I didn't see anything obvious on the website about this. All the gardens and grassed areas were fenced off and out-of bounds. So now you know.

(I now see that "The Horniman has secured a significant part of the funding needed for the £2.3m upgrade of the Gardens, due for completion in Spring 2012. This includes a grant of £978,500 from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Big Lottery Fund, as well as support from a number of other funders. We still have £150,000 to raise and are seeking support from the community to fulfil the project." You can see the new plans for the grounds here.)

Gripe over and despite this though, we had a great day. The Museum is mostly free remember, with only certain sections charging an admission fee.

The kids joined the 'family fun activity' of making Balinese masks to chime in with their current exhibition (the paying bit), 'Bali: dancing for the Gods' (until Jan 2012). Here are their creations - my son obviously went for a union jack/royal wedding theme...

The other bit now charging admission, previously free, is the Aquarium - it's a small charge and understandable given the Museum's funding challenges ahead.

Instead of enjoying the Museum grounds we popped across the road to the great playground, sandpit and large grassed area. The kids spent ages there - I enjoyed a coffee from the cafe and almost managed to read the whole of my New Statesman (that's not happened for many years!).

Horniman Museum, 100 London Road, Forest Hill, London SE23 3PQ.

Previous post about Horniman museum:  Myths and Monsters

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Greenwich Soul Choir sings

We spent a lovely hour or so at the Tudor Barn, in Eltham, this afternoon. We popped down to hear the Greenwich Soul Choir give their Spring concert, free but donations in aid of the Marie Curie Cancer Care Daffodil appeal.

The choir is run by the very talented Abi Gilchrist, Blackheath-born singer and song-writer who has made a career in jazz, pop and soul.

The 16 or so amateur singers gave a wonderful performance of the mixed programme of songs shown here (to get better view, click to enlarge), accompanied on most numbers by piano. The choir was a mixture of ages, and talents, mostly women, I spotted two male singers. They were much appreciated by the audience at this perfect venue for such an event.

I imagine it takes a lots of bravery to get up and perform like this. If you'd like to have a go, the choir is recruiting for their next 12-week term which begins 10 May 2011. They rehearse every Tuesday evening at the Eltham Green Community Church Hall, 7.30-9.30pm (£5 per session). Contact greenwichsoul@gmail.com.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Eltham and SE London events - April (2)

More random local events:

Saturday 16 April 2011
The Plumstead Make Merry Association hosts a benefit bash on April 16 from 7.30pm at the Greenwich Rugby Club Pavilion, Plumstead Common.Funds are being raised after Greenwich Council cut the funding for this festival.
Entry will cost £5 at the door and all proceeds will go towards supporting the festival.  There will be karaoke, disco and fun and games.

Saturday 23 Apr 2011
Fair, Food Fair, Fun Day
Erith Riverside Shopping Centre, 3 Erith High Street, London DA8 1QY
Erith Riverside Shopping Centre are holding an Easter Fair on Saturday 23rd of April. There will also be an animal farm, a face painter and a variety of stalls.

Sunday 22 April
11am and 4.30pm. 
Children’s activities at William's Morris' former Bexleyheath home over Easter. The Red House will be hosting a free medieval card-making activity in the gardens of the house on Good Friday between 11am and 4.30pm. Children will use stamps, stencils and colour-in designs to make their own illuminated  manuscript. Also Easter eggs trails. (read more)
at Red House Ln, Bexleyheath, Kent DA6 8JF
Tel: 020 8304 9878

Sunday 24 Apr 2011
Easter Egg Hunt
Well Hall Pleasaunce, Well Hall Road, Eltham London SE9
Open to all children up to age 10 years, 11am to 1pm

Sunday, April 24 and Monday 25, from 10am until 5pm 
Easter egg hunt
Eltham Palace are hosting  the special event on Sunday, April 24 and Monday 25, from 10am until 5pm - an Easter egg hunt with a chance to win a real golden egg.
Tickets cost £9.30 for adults, £5.60 for children and it is free for English Heritage members. In total, 27 English Heritage properties across the country will be hosting the special event during the Easter holidays, to be in with a chance of winning the one special egg. But each child taking part will also receive a chocolate one. Read more here.
at Court Yard, Eltham, London SE9 5QE

Tuesday 26 April 2011
Lost Boys
Cinema in a tent, on Blackheath
7:30 PM (doors open 7 PM). £12.50
Zippos Circus, Blackheath Common, Shooters Hill Rd,  London SE3 0TY

Friday 29 April 2011
Royal 'knees up', royal wedding event
"Arranged by The Friends of Halstow School, Pistachios in the Park cafĂ©, and the Friends of East Greenwich Pleasaunce, the event offers the chance for locals to come along to this secluded, beautiful park and share what’s set to be a most memorable occasion.

The event is scheduled to start at 11am and run through to 9pm.  All are welcome and children are encouraged to come in Royal fancy dress.  Guests are invited to bring a picnic dish-to-share, gazebos, picnic chairs & tables and there is a fun-packed itinerary for both children and adults alike.
As well as a music marquee and a TV-screening of the Royal Wedding itself, events will include:  a crown-making competition for children and a Royal cake-making competition for adults with prizes from the O2.  Family games including old favourites like the ‘tug-of-war’ will commence at 2pm, with afternoon tea at 4pm, a BBQ at 5pm, leading up to a children's disco from 5-7pm, followed by chill-out music for adults from 7-9pm.

Friday 29 April
Watch the Royal Wedding on the Big Screen.
Coverage starts at 10.00am, ceremony at 11.00am
This is a free screening and everyone is welcome - reserve your seats in person at the Box Office or on 0871 902 5732
This will be followed by a special screening of The King's Speech (12A) at 15.45

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Family Cabaret at Greenwich Dance Agency

Dancers from the Attakkalari Centre
Last Saturday afternoon we went to the Family Cabaret at the Greenwich Dance Agency (GDA) at the Greenwich Borough Hall, an event part of the Greenwich Children's Theatre Festival.  The blurb implored us to "Bring your baby brother, your Gran and the next door neighbour’s guinea pig for an afternoon of bite-sized bits of dance, circus and music".

And so we thought we'd give it a try. And we really enjoyed it. The 3.15pm event, for one and half hours, really suited us as a family of two live-performance-starved adults, and an eight and a six year old. Tickets cost us £35 in total, though large groups are invited 'to haggle'. The set up, in the first floor hall, was round tables dotted around the floor-level dance space, with cushions scattered around for younger children to sit on. A bar was set up and the audience were free to drink and snack, including BYO.

It was a very convivial space for a family to watch a performance.  We had the pleasure of the Mayor of Greenwich, Barbara Barwick, joining us on our table, complete with mayoral chain. She chatted easily to us and the children, explaining how her husband couldn't make it. A thoroughly nice women I thought.

Compered by a child-friendly act from the Levantes Dance Theatre, we watched a variety of eight pieces. Amongst them, two pieces by two powerful dancers from the Attakkarlari Centre in Bangalore - their contemporary powerful and pared-down style was reminiscent for me of something of Akram Kham, a current British-Asian dancer. Ajeesh and Santhosh managed to create through their second piece a mounting sense of tension and sustain it to a single percussive beat. They'll also be performing as part of the South Bank's Alchemy programme just starting there.

Another highlight was the coup by the GDA in securing two dancers from the English National Ballet. James Forbat and Fernanada Oliveira (right) danced 'Trois Gnossiennes' in a modern classical style. It was utterly haunting - just listen to this music, by composer Eric Satie, to which they danced (I have every day, ever since!). Their power, grace and drama left me stunned, then very moved, and then I remembered to breathe (but good dance does that to me!)

The programme was also balanced by swing jazz  dance from Lewisham College (with their devoted Principal Maxine Room spotted in the audience clearly delighted by them), some GwoKa from Guadaloupe, a pair of dancing lampshades and the High Rollaz with their thrilling hip-hoppy 'jamskating' act.

It really was a fabulous afternoon. The GDA makes good use of the 1930s ex-town hall building, where my lovely parents-in-law, then Greenwich dwellers, had their wedding reception many decades ago...  Sure, there were some slight (but only slight) 'community project' moments but there was also lots of high-quality dance. I would definitely sign up when it comes round again. For those aghast at the thought of all those kids in the audience (all hardly noticeable btw), the GDA also have evening cabaret events - next one on Friday 21 May, 7.30pm.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Camping again

Latest addition to the family
Hubby has just bought this tent. It's a serious tent. I think this means we'll be going camping some day soon. Oh lordy lordy.

It's a step, or two, up from our previous 'starter' tent - you can see that and read about our earlier camping experiences here:
Carry on Camping
Camping it up again
(yes I'm running out of camping puns now)

and you might be interested in this post: A socialist's guide to camping, (including the fan mail at the end of it...)

Any suggestions for interesting family camping places in the UK?

Rest assured though that I shall be insisting on a 'proper' holiday too. A girl's got to plug her straightners in somewhere...

Friday, 1 April 2011

Eltham and SE London events - April (1)

More random Eltham (and nearby) events:

Fri 1 April and Tues 26 April
Things that go BUMP in the night!
Woodlands Farm event, following nocturnal animals.
Children must be accompanied, 7.30pm to 9.30pm. £1 per person.
331 Shooters Hill, Welling DA16 3RP

Saturday 2nd of April 2011
Time 12.30-16.00
at Charlton House SE7 8RE

Saturday 2 April 2011
‘Simply Entertaining’
Evening of comedy and music. Bob Hope Theatre, Wythfield Road. Tucker and Shane Hampsheir. 2.30pm and 7.30pm. £14.50 - £11.50

Friday 8 April
Open Mic Night 
Charlton House is running a comedy club for one night only in a hunt for the best local amateur comedian. £5 tickets. BYO drinks. 7.30 - 11.00pm
Charlton House, Charlton Road, Charlton SE7 8RE
To participate or buy tickets: 020 8856 3951

9 April 2011 from 11 to 4pm
Greenwich live
Friends of Greenwich Park are holding wildlife free open day on April 9 from 11 to 4pm. Events incl guided walks, puppet shows, craft.
Sat 9 April
Elmer the Elephant
Stage adaptation of the children's book. 11am
Greenwich Theatre, Crooms Hills, Greenwich SE10 8ES
Tel 020 8858 7755

Sat 9 - Sat 23 April 2011
Hunt the Golden Eggs Competition
Can you find 12 golden eggs hidden in shop windows around Eltham Town Centre?
Full details at the Eltham Centre. Free
The Eltham Centre, 2 Archery Road, Eltham SE9 1HA

Sun 10 April 2011
Spring at the Tarn
Guided walk with Friends of the Tarn. Flowerpot painting and seed planting for children.
Light refreshments. Free. 2 - 4pm
The Tarn, Court Road, Mottingham SE9 5AQ
Tel  07729 364506
[they seem to have a new website - www.thetarn.org - including an events page]

13-16 April 2011
Anything Goes
Bob Hope Theatre, Wythfield Road, Eltham
Sidcup Operatic Society will be presenting Anything Goes 13-16 April at the Bob Hope Theatre, Eltham. Evening performances start at 7:45pm with the Saturday matinee at 2:30pm. Tickets cost £12.50 and £10.50 for concessions. Contact Details: 020 8301 2681

Sat 16 April 2011
Eltham Centre Monster Day
Build a giant monster and win monster prizes, apparently. Children's author and artist Guy Bass will be there. Free. Drop in anytime from 9.30am to 4.30pm
The Eltham Centre, 2 Archery Road, Eltham SE9 1HA
Tel  020 8921 5641

Sunday 17 Apr 2011
London Marathon
9.45am Main Start, Greenwich Park Blackheath. Popular viewing areas include Greenwich,  Tower Bridge, Victoria Embankment and The Mall. 40,000 Runners and one million spectators expected.  

Sunday 17 April
Vegetable growing
Practical workshop by Growing Greenwich. Well Hall Pleasaunce
2pm. Details 07894 711765

Sunday 17 April
‘Swing Commanders’,
1940s swing band. Bob Hope Theatre, Wythfield Road. www.bobhopetheatre.co.uk. £13 (£12 conc). 8pm

23, 27-28, 30 April, 1 May 2011
The Tragedy of Macbeth, by River productions - Charlton House 

River Productions presents The Tragedy of Macbeth, by William Shakespeare, at the Charlton House, a grade 1 listed manor house built in 1607 for Sir Adam Newton, the tutor of James I’s son Henry, in south east London,

This tale of murder, betrayal and ultimate downfall is presented with the witches played as children. The world of the play is their domain and everything in it is theirs to control, manipulate and play with, as 'all is but toys' With the design inspired by graphic novels, River Productions shows the dark inner workings of a child’s mind in the form of the three weird sisters. Using movement and physical theatre, sound and light, this interactive performance takes a fresh, new approach to one of Shakespeare’s most popular stories.

23 Apr 2011 
Vaisakhi, Canary Wharf London  
Saturday. 14:00 -17:00 Cabot Square. Bhangra music, dance, Sikh martial arts and delicious food. NuSound Radio live from the event. Free entrance.
[A Guide to Vaisakhi By John Roath


Sunday 22 May, from 9.30am
Greenwich’s grand inter-Children’s Centre championship five-a-side football tournament.
It's time for dads to start registering for this tournament.

The tournament will be held at:
Charlton School
Charlton Park Road
London SE7 8HX.
There will be a trophy, match tickets and a ground tour donated by Charlton Athletic’s CARE Partnership. Email: dads@greenwich.gov.uk or tel: 020 8921 6921

24-26 June 2011
Tudor Barn Eltham Summer Arts Festival
Following the great success of Last Year's Tudor Barn Eltham Summer Arts Festival, the 2nd Annual Tudor Barn Summer Arts Festival will be held over the weekend of Friday 24th, Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th of June 2011.

The Tudor Barn would like as many local individuals and groups to take part as can be contained within the Well Hall Pleasaunce. They would like to see all forms of artistic expression represented and for it to be a genuinely inclusive event. Any individuals or groups interested in taking part or wishing to find out more details should contact Marcus Luck at the Tudor Barn - email marcus@tudorbarneltham.co.uk.