Author Archives: Liz Nankivell

London Bus Times

London Bus Times is our new blog post series which we are writing exclusively for MyKidsy. If you have read our first blog post Buses Are Best you will know that we are the creators of Binky Bear, the read and explore adventure trail books and we are frequent out of town family visitors to London. Once we arrive at Waterloo we travel only on foot and by bus, initially because our then 10 year old was terrified of the Tube and now because we all just love the London bus experience. Visiting places on a budget is our thing as is doing ‘stuff’ that is simple but with a creative twist. For this blog post we asked our Facebook and Twitter fans to answer this question: What are your favourite free kids’ activity ideas for a London day out? Here are four of their many suggestions. We hope you like them, try them at half term and providing you have a travel card, we can guarantee these activities will be absolutely free. 1. Find the strangest vegetable at Borough Market! We love this suggestion and Borough Market is open Monday-Saturday (closed Sunday) and is tucked away just south of the river near London Bridge. It is London’s oldest fruit and veg market dating from 1755 and describes itself as: “London’s most renowned food market; a source of exceptional British and international produce.” Borough Market has a quirky interactive map which is worth a look before you go and it will tell you where all the veggies are. Good luck on this challenge and when you do find the strangest vegetable, please tweet a photo to @MyKidsy @AllAboutBinky @boroughmarket #strangestveg and we will pop them up on our Facebook page

London Bus Times Information for Borough Market:

Loads of buses will get you there, for example from Waterloo take the 168 or 188 to Elephant and Castle and then the 40 or 133 to London Bridge, from Victoria take the C10 all the way. For all other start points we suggest you consult You just type in your start and where you want to go and all the various options are worked out for you. Get off the buses at London Bridge, Borough High Street or Southwark Street The full address is 8 Southwark Street, London, SE1 1TL 2. Visit the Armoury exhibit at The Wallace Collection The Wallace Collection is a bite size museum tucked away in beautiful Manchester Square, a block north of Oxford Street at the Selfridges end. Admission is free for everyone and it is open from 10am-5pm and on all Public Holidays except 24, 25 or 26 December. The Arms and Armour Collection is described as: “One of the largest, finest and most important in the UK”. There are lots of weapons to see alongside suits of armour. Here is the full address: Hertford House, Manchester Square, London, W1U 3BN Telephone +44 (0)207 563 9500

London Bus Times Information for The Wallace Collection:

The buses to get you there are numbers 2, 10, 12, 13, 30, 74, 82, 94, 113, 137, 274. All stop nearby. Now if armour is not strictly your thing, they also have The Little Draw which is a monthly Sunday afternoon drop in art workshop from 1.30-4.30pm. There are lots of different activities to try and all ages and all abilities are welcome. 3. Sit with the lions in Trafalgar Square This suggestion came in from Emily age 4. Trafalgar Square has long been a favourite of ours as the perfect picnicking spot! There is some proper bench seating round by the fountains and the place is great to just sit and munch as you watch the wonderful international-tourist-world go by. Decent loos are nearby in The National Gallery and if you are desperate for a coffee try The Café in the Crypt at St Martin-in-the-Fields. Tel: 0207 766 1158

London Bus Times Information for Trafalgar Square:

London Bus Times and Binky Bear To get to Trafalgar Square from any start point use 4. Go on a big red bus. Emily’s older brother Sam, age 5 make this suggestion and we couldn’t agree more. Here are 2 of our favourite ‘big red bus’ routes: Route 11 Fulham to Liverpool Street – from leafy Fulham up the Kings Road, through Westminster, passing The Houses of Parliament and then up through the City of London and onto the Bank of England and ending in Brick Lane. Route 9 Aldwych to Hammersmith – From Green Park, through Knightsbridge to Kensington with Royal Parks all the way and the glitz and glamour of Knightsbridge thrown in. Remember travelling on the top deck is a must and we always make a beeline for the front seats or as close as possible so that when they are free, we can get them. Have a great half term everyone. If you do find a strange vegetable in Borough Market remember to tweet a picture to us or tag us on Facebook The next London Bus Times post will be out in the spring and will show you some more budget/free things to do travelling about London by a big red bus. Liz Nankivell is co-creator of Binky Bear. There is a Binky Bear trail in Central London and you can find our more information here
Drama for kids can substantially improve confidence and sociability in kids

Drama for Kids

With a growing interest in children's confidence and sociability, we predict drama for kids will be one of the hot topics for parents this year.

So, is drama for kids a good thing?

Not long ago a Drama teacher friend made an interesting case for encouraging children to join Speech and Drama classes and groups. “I don’t think for one minute that every child I teach will end up on the stage”, she commented, “but I do think, besides enjoying themselves, they’ll gain in self confidence and public speaking. They’ll all have to do an interview or speak up for themselves at some time in their lives and this will stand them in good stead”. She has a point.
A confident child makes eye contact

Drama for kids develops confidence and sociability

We asked our Binky Bear Facebook fans why drama is good for kids and Sylvia from Southampton, summed up most comments when she said: “Drama gave my daughter confidence. It placed her out of her comfort zone, meeting new people. All this helped her grow as a person and this has benefitted her as she faces challenges of growing into an adult.”

How to find a drama club near you

Just search online using Drama Clubs for Kids and you will find a whole list of people to contact near you. There are some big names like Stagecoach and Theatre Bugs and there are some wonderful local clubs doing great things.
Drama for kids can substantially improve confidence and sociability in kids

Kids in action at Drama Beast in Alresford

Take Drama Beasts in Alresford for example. We also asked Binky Bear fans which drama clubs they would recommend in Hampshire and Drama Beasts was top of the Leader Board. Founder Nicky Gower describes what drama can mean to children: “Our ultimate aim is to help children improve their social and communication skills, grow their self-esteem, highlight the importance of teamwork and foster an appreciation of performance.” Nicky goes on to explain, “Our drama sessions are never about 'auditions' or 'securing the lead role' but instead, we aspire to bring out the best in every child, so even the shyest of children begin to feel more confident as they perform in front of others.”

If music is more your thing...

Try one of the many Music with Mummy or Moo Music groups. Again, our Facebook fans talk very highly of our local Moo Music group. which is clearly adored by the children who attend and highly rated by parents.
Kids play musical instruments and sing at Moo Music Alresford

Kids enjoying Moo Music in Alresford

Denise Rosewell who runs Moo Music in Alresford Hampshire describes what they do: “We use all sorts of exciting props, puppets, toys and percussion instruments as we sing, dance and play.” Sounds great to us.

It’s Panto time! (Oh yes it is…)

Binky Bear

Make Your Own Pantomime with Binky Bear

Drama for kids is also the theme of our January Muddy Paws Club download and those clever people at Binky Bear HQ have designed this wonderful Create your own Pantomine activity sheet just for you.

Binky Bear’s days out with the kids

It's getting colder, but here are some ideas for days out with the kids, whatever the weather. How about planning a day out with something seasonal included, which is free. There are lots of things to watch in public places at this time of the year.

Norwich's Tunnel of Light

Start with a walk round the historic street of the town and then walk through the 45 metre ‘tunnel’, 50,000 tiny lights, which reflect the colours and patterns of the Northern Lights. Norwich’s seasonal lights will be switched on 17 November. For info about the historic city as well, go to:- norwich tunnel of light

Winchester's Woolly Hat Fair

Or if you are Hampshire based keep your eyes out for the Woolly Hat Fair coming to Winchester. Events will be free to attend and will take place at 5pm every Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday between 3 – 22 December.

Hamleys Christmas Toy Parade- London

Binky throw up autumn leaves on days out with the kids And if you just happen to be in London on 20 November after doing the Binky Bear walk through St James’s Park - like Binky (finishing in Trafalgar Square) join all the fun of Hamleys Christmas Toy Parade. The whole of Regent’s Street will be closed to traffic for the event. night photo of christmas lights London’s Christmas lights are already starting to go on, so check on-line for specific dates. Seasonal lights are now going on all over the country, so check in your local press for exact dates.

Reindeer Spotting

If you want to splash out on an extra special day this Christmas how about visiting Santa’s reindeers, somewhere in the UK near you? This link has a few pointers:-

Summer Trails For Kids

Want to go for a walk? No! Want to go on a trail? Yes! Here's how to make your trails for kids rock: 1. Have a purpose: a. What we did today: go out and take photos to load up on Facebook later to show Auntie Chris, Mum, Dad Grandma etc. What We Did Today and then everyone gets to say what their favourite thing was b. Plant investigator: find 10 different leaves – try these free Apps to help you identify what’s what: Tree Id and Garden Answers. Woodland Trust Tree Id App c. Go foraging: pick blackberries – from mid-August in some places – then return home to make blackberry and apple crumble. 2. Follow a trail map. Learning how to read a map is a fantastic life skill and you can start with very simple ones. a. Draw your own ‘mud map’ for a place you know well and leave some gaps for the kids to fill in things like, the names of buildings, drawing in a tree, the bridge, the shop etc. Mud Map for Summer Trails b. Complete a trail that links to a book – yes like ours! You can download our free trail maps for London, Winchester and Alresford here. From August 20th you will be able to download our very latest Binky Trail which is set in leafy Surrey, near Compton. 3. Have a few extra activities up your sleeve. a. “I spy” and also “I hear with my little ear…” b. Follow my leader, taking it in turns to lead the pack c. Stop and play hide and seek. Woodland walks are great for this d. Walk and Talk – get kids to take it in turns to talk about what they see and hear as they walk – this is great to get quiet ones chatting. 4. Finally take a picnic, a few trail treats, plenty of water and sunscreen and have a great day out!

The Watercress Line

When we moved down to Hampshire we had no idea The Watercress Line would become so much a part of our lives. On a day when the wind blows from the north the whistle of the steam trains cuts through the air as the trains travel in a wide arc behind our village and if the wind drops, a perfect trail of steam will track the trains location as it disappears into a cutting.Continue reading this article...

What does your Teddy Bear say about you?

While attempting to reunite over 75,000 teddy bears left behind in their hotels, Travelodge discovered that quite a few did not belong to children. They got curious and in 2012 they set up a survey to find out more. Of the 6,000 adults who took part, 51% of adults reported having a teddy bear since their childhood, the average age of the teddy bears was 27 years, 25% of males said they took their teddy bear away on business with them and 1 in 10 men surveyed admitted to hiding their teddy bear when their girlfriend stayed over.Continue reading this article...

Binky Bear Goes To Woodlands Primary

A rather wonderful thing has happened at Binky Bear - Woodlands Primary in Carnoustie, Scotland has opened a Binky Bear trail. We spoke with Deputy Head teacher Judith Connor to find out more.

1. Tell us about your school and your part of the UK

Our school is Woodlands Primary School which is in Carnoustie in Angus. Carnoustie is often called 'the home of golf'. We are very lucky to live in a small town on the coast with a beautiful beach. Woodlands Primary School caters for children from 5 - 11 and we also have a nursery class for 3 - 5 year olds. We are an eco school and are currently working on our 4th green flag and we are also a fairtrade school with a fairachiever award. reading-about-the-trail-at-woodlands-primaryContinue reading this article...

Watercress and all that!

One of the first things you notice when you come to Alresford, apart from the completely traditional high street, the striking Georgian architecture and coloured houses and the abundance of pubs and coffee shops, are all the references to watercress. So when back in December, Alresford Town Council invited us to join other businesses and produce a Welcome Pack for new families moving into Alresford, (download your copy at the foot of this post) we knew what we had to include.

There is watercress everywhere!

On most days in the season (April-October) you can buy bunches of the green peppery watercress leaves in the greengrocers on West Street, on any weekend during the year you can travel in and out of Alresford in a vintage steam train on the Watercress Line, then in May we have our nationally acclaimed annual Watercress Festival, when the centre of town becomes one great street festival of family fun entertainment. Finally if you wander around the town you will come across several watercress beds where you can see for yourself how this lovely green stuff is grown and if you are visiting from April to October you can probably see it harvested too.

Facts about Watercress...

Did you know, gram for gram, watercress contains more vitamin C than oranges, more calcium than milk and more iron than spinach. It is said that Hippocrates located his hospital on the Greek island of Kos close to a stream so he could grow watercress and use it to treat his patients and apparently Napoleon was a big fan. In the United Kingdom, watercress was first commercially cultivated in 1808 by the horticulturist William Bradbery, along the River Ebbsfleet in Kent. Although it is now grown in a number of counties most notably Hertfordshire, Hampshire, Wiltshire and Dorset, Alresford is considered to be the UK's watercress capital. It has been grown here for nearly 200 years and back in the 1800s watercress from Alresford was transported daily by train to be sold in Covent Garden. So back to our Binky Bear Welcome Pack; we have put together an Alresford Calendar featuring as many of our local events as we could fit on one page, and in true Binky Bear style we have written a special poem to welcome all new families who are joining us in our beautiful corner of Hampshire. So whether you are moving into Alresford or not, if you'd like to have a copy of our Binky Bear Welcome Pack you can download it by clicking on the link at the foot of this post. You will notice the The Watercress Festival this year is on Sunday May 15th and Binky Bear will be there in our usual place outside The Bell. See you there. Binky Bear A4 2pp Alresford flyer 150dpi AW