As Bo-Jo quite rightly said, no one wants another lock-down. Except - presumably - all face mask and hand gel manufacturers around the country. Hey-ho though, the horror has happened and here we are again, bound tightly to our houses, immediate families and housemates once more, looking forward to a month (or, eek - maybe more?) of staying in and battening down the hatches. Not all doom and gloom however, schools and nurseries are staying open which is great news, and cafes with takeaway hatches can remain open for a flat white or hot chocolate, plus - (HALLELUJAH!) most public toilets. Weekends still feel like a long stretch though and weekdays too for those parents of pre-school children who have had all their lovely music, sensory and swimming classes cancelled.
So, there are a fair few hours to fill and here are a few ideas. It's nothing groundbreaking or "new for Covid" and perhaps many of you probably do this anyway, but for a bit of inspiration, check out some things to see and do (all outside, natch) with your nippers, on a gloomy Saturday in November.
Calling all adventurous spies and trainee detectives wanting to crack the latest crime! Treasure Trails run awesome challenges across London that combine stories, clues puzzles to provide a great day out for both children and adults.
If you want to entertain the kids with something completely different have a look at this. It is completely Covid friendly, you don't need to go near anyone else apart from your immediate family, and it is all outdoors. A great family activity when the kids and you are feeling a bit cabin feverish.
On their excellent website, choose the area in which you want to crack the crime (there are 49 in London so I won't list them all, but suffice to say there should be one near you), select the challenge (it might be a murder mystery or finding hidden treasure), print off your clues and head off. Before you can say Hercule Poirot you'll have walked a few miles, done some sightseeing, cracked some serious clues and puzzles, solved a crime, had a bit of wonderful family time, and be home in time for tea and biscuits. Legendary stuff.
The London parks are absolutely beautiful at any time of year and what better way to get everyone out of the house than head off to one of these beauties. The Royal Parks; Richmond Park, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Bushy Park, St James's Park, Green Park, Regents Park and Greenwich Park all have loads to see and do; boating lakes, playgrounds wildlife, beautiful gardens, statues and fountains and a visit is a wonderful way of spending a few hours.
Scheduled events and guided walks are all off at the moment - hopefully not for long - but if you want something more structured for your family outing, Royal Parks have come up with a rather brilliant way of walking with a purpose - the Royal Park Explorer app. All the parks have different activities but all are guaranteed to get you walking around and discovering interesting things about the wildlife and gardens around you. It is a (free) Scavenger Hunt of sorts that you can download on your mobile phone and then be guided on a mini adventure through whichever park you have chosen. Discover amazing facts, play games and uncover photo challenges- there is something interesting whatever age you are!
Have a look at their website to find out all about the quests in the different parks and uncover a whole new way of exploring your local area!
Richmond Park is one of Londons true gems and the largest of the Royal Parks at 2,500 acres. It is a stunning landscape of trees, plants, streams, woodland and stretches of grassy meadows, with lots of wildlife to spot; animals, butterflies, birds and around 650 deer. The Isabella Plantation is a very pretty Victorian garden within the park with beautiful flowers and many exotic plants. There are also two good sized playgrounds here.
A great way to see around Richmond Park is by bicycle and there are very clearly marked bike lanes, some for the pro-types and others for families who are going at a slower pace and maybe not on for a 65km endurance ride. Under normal circumstances there is an excellent bike hire shop at Roehampton Gate, providing bikes of all shapes and sizes as well as helmets and maps to show you routes of varying difficulty. At the moment bike hire is not possible, but you can still take your own bikes, park in the car park and head off with your own guided map. It is a great day out and you will, I promise, feel a million miles from the bustle of busy London.
Once you have done all these wonderful outdoor activities and filled the majority of the weekend, don't feel at all guilty about sitting back and shoving on Disney+ for the remainder of the day. It is dark at 4.30 for goodness sake and there is only a limit to how creative you can be.
But, just for a couple of hours, to get outside and do something with the family all together and something with a bit more purpose than marching around the streets for your designated exercise, these fun activities around London should create a good diversion. There's plenty of time for playdates and Cinema trips next month. Fingers crossed.
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