Are we there yet?
Summer with the kids
By Moira McVitie
Here at the Stoke Newington Research Facility, our very own off - line research
department has scanned search engines worldwide to bring you a brief summary of fun things for kids to do - in Stoke Newington and beyond - over that long and apparently never-ending
period known as the school holidays. Or purgatory, depending on your point of view.
First off: ever-reliable city farms. There's the popular Hackney City Farm (1A Goldsmiths Row, E2, 020 7729 6381) open Tuesday-Sunday from 10am to 4.30pm - and, best of all, free. In addition to the animal
attractions, they're running pottery classes over the summer - ring for details.
The Spitalfields City Farm, in Weaver St, E1 (020 7247 8762) is also open - and free - from Tuesday to Sunday from 10.30am to 5pm. You never knew sheep could be so fascinating, did you? And if you're over near the Arsenal, check out what's now rather grandly known as the Islington Ecology Centre, Drayton Park, N5 (020 7354 5162; open Tuesday 10am-noon, Thursday 2-4pm), which has a range of activities for kids from 8 to 11, ranging from bird-watching, pond-dipping and canoeing to survival skills. SAS for the under-12s - could be useful.
Still on the wildlife front, the Geffrye Museum (Kingsland Road, E2, 020 7739 9893) has
a workshop programme on 'Bugs and Blooms' running from Tuesday 3 August to Friday 6
August, from 10.30am-noon, or 2-4 pm, with further workshops scheduled for Tuesday 10 August to Friday 13 August (same opening hours). They're free, on a first-come-first served basis (turn up 30 minutes before the workshops start to be sure), and your little angels can explore the plants, flowers and insects in the Geffrye Museum and its gardens, and then produce paintings of horrible creepycrawlies that you'll treasure for ever. Details from www.geffryemuseum.org.uk.
On the festival front, the Brick Lane Festival, on Saturday 5 September (free; noon-10pm), is well worth checking out: food (of course), music (mostly on a stage in Allen Gardens), a fun fair and many other attractions have made this an enormously popular event - check out www.bricklanefestival.com or phone 020 7655 0906.
More culture, of a good-value West End theatrical variety, is on offer through the Kids'
Week in the West End, now in its seventh year, through a scheme which offers one free
child seat for every adult ticket bought at full price (two more kids can go for half-price if you want to make up a posse, and have nerves of steel or the appropriate medication) at several popular shows in the last two weeks of August. Check out www.kidsweek.co.uk (0870 444 6066) for details. We're talking admission to The Lion King, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, for starters: classics of the genre.
Right on the N16 doorstep, and in a more sporting frame of mind, the Castle Climbing Centre in Green Lanes has plans to offer a three-day 'Climbing for Beginners' course for kids, with fully qualified instructors.
Check with the Centre, as the programme hadn't been finalised as we went to press -
but for budding mountaineers (8+), £55 for three-days expert instruction (including kit hire and admission) could be money well spent. And could give a whole new meaning to 'climbing the wall'. Details
from the Centre, Green Lanes, N4 (020 8211 7000, www.castleclimbing.co.uk).
Remaining local, there are kids' events throughout August in Clissold Park including Hackney Sports Fest (until 20 August) - football, basketball and cricket for 8-19 year-olds (details on 020 8356 7563); a Playday for all the family on 4 August (020 7923 7897); and Girls' Sport Week from 9-13 August (020 7686 8812). Abney Park Cemetery Trust is running Children's Drop Ins between 2 and 3.30pm on 5, 12, 19 and 26 August (020 7275 7557).
Sutton House, a beautiful (nearby) place to visit anyway, is running 'Art in the Courtyard' sessions - family-oriented activities - on 6, 13, 20 and 27 August, from 2-4 pm for children of all ages - although they must be accompanied by an adult. Entrance to the house is £2.20 - but the kids are free (it says here - isn't that a Dire Straits song?). Check out www.nationaltrust.org.uk or email@example.com. Address: 2-4 Homerton High Street, E9 (020 8986 2264).
Finally: a round up of other useful websites, where you can find details of an impossibly wide range of 'stuff'. Take your pick from www.wildlondon.org.uk (free events, walks and workdays all around the capital); www.visitlondon.com; www.kidslovelondon.com; www.nationaltheatre.org.uk (which has a daily programme of dance, circus, music and magic running on the South Bank until 21 August). www.westminster.gov.uk lists free summer shows in central London.
ww.nationaltrust.org.uk. Details of GroupSave fares and destinations, if you're getting really ambitious, are on www.nationalrail.co.uk.