Skating on Ice – once more with dignity…Tower of London Ice Rink

Whilst on vacation with my brother’s family in London over the New Year period looking for an activity for his children to do that they had not done before we decided to give Ice Skating a go – inspired to some extent by our visit to Winter Wonderland a few days before where among their attractions was an ice-rink which at the time of our visit was not available.

We decided to visit the rink at the Tower of London instead and following a tube journey from Sloane Square to Tower Hill arrived in good time despite this being New Year’s Eve.

I had booked the tickets the night before from their website and the tickets were with me in digital form on my iPhone – however at no point was I ever asked for my tickets – perhaps I have a Deja-vu face?!

Our group included my brother, his wife and their four children. The youngest a toddler would be looked after by her mother so leaving two adults to escort three children aged five to ten around the rink – though Ice Guides can be hired – the older two were naturally a bit wary of taking to the ice if the youngest a bit too oblivious of the dangers to mind either way!

We're still standing...

I had previously ice-skated if twenty odd years ago and had some memory of being natural at it and expectant to assist my young nieces about the ice with ease – how wrong I was! Instead we formed mutual support ensuring slow if sure progress around the rink with a sole goal to remain upright! I did in the main succeed in this other than one spectacular and undignified fall on my behind! By the end of the session’s allotted hour I had improved to the extent of being able to get some speed up around the rink. My brother proved to be most comfortable, my young nephew on the other hand fell repeatedly on his behind yet did not seem to mind!

One session is clearly not enough to expect to be gliding around the rink in balletic aplomb and further sessions would clearly lead to a more confident and enjoyable experience.

There are a number of ticket options including off peak and family & group bookings but one option not available which would be of interest to me is a season ticket – either for annual use of their rink or for any ice-rink across London or indeed the UK.

My only complaint were my skates – you are able to bring your own skates with you but otherwise they provide you with skates and various padding for protection. My skates were clearly ill-fitting which I put down to my own precarious skating technique but which on reflection were simply because they were too tight and left me hobbling about for a week or so afterwards.

I found ice-skating an enjoyable group activity – just ensure if you should decide to try it out that there is at least one in your group as novice as you!

Not quite a Winter Wonderland

I attended this event in London’s Hyde Park with my brother’s family who have four young children and as a fun fair type attraction thought it would be ideal.  Additional attractions included Ice Skating and a Big Observation Wheel – and this being the festive season Santa’s Grotto type attractions – though Christmas Day being 4 day’s over the appeal of this seemed a bit spent to me but that is no doubt the bah humbug adult in me.

The usual gamut of rides and attractions with plenty of food and drink stands thrown in were on offer.

The treat was on me and I loaded up at the entrance with £50’s worth of tickets thinking this would be more than enough. How wrong I was. Perhaps this was the naivety of an uncle with no children – and had I been a parent and one who lived in London at that I would have had a different expectation of how much this event would likely cost.

In fact hundreds of pounds are needed to be spent to take advantage of most of the attractions on offer. We went on a few of them such as The Ghost Train and Snow Slide but quickly made our way back to the exit and onto a restaurant in Victoria. This was not to say the children did not enjoy themselves just that there was a disappointment of not being able to take part in most of what was on offer.

As I am not one of those who knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing I shall not be returning to this event which is open November to January each year.

Of best laid plans…part 2

Do I feel lucky?!

In a previous post I detailed my nearly coming unstuck in getting to an airport on time, today another fiasco, this time not from me trying to save a few pennies but from our inclement – very inclement! – weather.

For the holidays I was planning heading south to visit my brother and his family in London. Usually I do this in my car enjoying as I do the journey as much as the destination and a journey travelled in a car I find hard to beat – my own route on my own time with the radio and my iPhone collection of music for company pumping through my car stereo.

It had started snowing though back in late November and had not relented.  My neighbours had all got their shovels out – they had to work and unlike me did not do this from their homes – I though decided not to join in – I would let nature take its course.  But nature’s course in this case was to keep on snowing so come yesterday I had to invest in a shovel myself and start the laborious process of rescuing my car from the snow – and by this stage as you can see the snow had been snowing on the snow – it was a long job. After an hour or so I had cleared a way for my car to reverse but my car doors would not open – I tried de-icing the seals with boiling hot water but to no avail – my only entry to my car was an undignified one through the hatch. But then as it was cold I had the reasonable idea of then closing the hatch whilst I tried to get my engine started. The engine would not start and you may have guessed just as I could not get into my car I could not now get out of my car. Fortunately I had only to wait ten or so minutes for a neighbour returning home and to open my boot for me – however being locked in your own car, that is embarrassing!

Eventually I gave up on my car – it clearly needed rescuing but I wanted to be with my nieces and nephew for Christmas Day and the TLC my car needed would have to wait.  I needed alternative transport – I would have to take the train.

My journey alas was not going to improve with my transition from private to public transport – the train was severely delayed so a coach was laid on to take me to Edinburgh.  Then once in Edinburgh the planned journey to London’s King Cross was halted only several minutes out of Waverley station – the joining doors apparently were not disconnecting and we would not be going anywhere.  Eventually the train returned to the station and we were shunted onto another train.  This train though was not going anywhere either – another train was broken down on the track outside of Berwick and we would have to wait for its removal before going anywhere.  Four hours later this train too was cancelled and those of us heading to London were transferred to a Caledonian Sleeper.

I did therefore belatedly make it into London in time to open presents on Christmas Day with my brother’s family.  But next time it snows like this I won’t be letting Scottish nature take its course, I will most definitely be out with a shovel!