Micro-Scooter Love

She may never ride the bicycle again. . .

We were super excited to review the Maxi Micro-Scooter this month, and my older daughter (age 4, a fairly tall age 4) was just the girl for the job! The specs say it’s for children weighing up to 50kg, so it looks to last around here for several years. She was given an Ozbozz for Christmas last year and she used it a little, but I saw nothing like what I’ve seen in the past few days. The girl is zooming away, using the brake to slow down and stop, and doing tricks! The Maxi Micro-Scooter is stable under her feet and quick. We’ve had it for two weeks and we’ve been around the neighbourhood and in the parks with it. It’s easy to transport in the car boot and very light, so I don’t mind carrying it if I have to. My niece (8 years old) and nephew (9 years old) in the USA both have Micro-Scooters and they love them as well. They were really excited to find out how we liked it. Evidently, it’s THE scooter to have, even on the other side of the Pond. And I do see why.

Compared with the other scooters we’ve had in the house, the Micro-Scooters are clearly better designed for action (and looks). Both of my girls had a Little Tikes 2-in1 as their first scooter, which was good in that they could sit on it or stand, but it was stiff plastic. At £29.99, it was a good value, but I do think they would have had more use out of the Mini Micro-Scooter, had they had it instead. The Little Tikes scooter doesn’t turn at all really, so it’s only good for going in straight lines, but at least it was sturdy underfeet. We also have the Ozbozz “My First Scooter” which is VERY heavy (and so I never like to carry it), not to mention unstable. My daughter fell many times in the early days–even with all four wheels on! Luckily, she is not the type of child to give up. It appears to ride roughly over city pavement. You can hear the wheels banging and knocking over every bump. Not good.

The Maxi Micro-Scooter glides along. . .  quickly! Even at speed or down hill, my four-year old is able to control it. Our three-year old who got the Mini Micro-Scooter for her birthday last month is also happily scooting along.

Maxi Micro-Scooters are priced from £99.95. If you want a fancier model or accessories, you’ll pay up to £123.95. Micro-Scooter offers free delivery on the product and spare parts are easy to come by. These scooters also offer excellent resale value on eBay, so it’s definitely worth buying it new and getting several years’ use out of it.

We met up with some of our Mumsnet friends who also got Micro-Scooters to review at Tumbling Bay playground at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park over the Easter holidays. The kids had a ball. It was a cloudy day, so we had this amazing place mostly to ourselves. I think they had fun!

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Space Safari

After a fairly relaxed half-term holiday, I decided a day out would be in order. A little looking around online unearthed a great surprise: a live planetarium show for under 7s at the Peter Harrison Planetarium at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich. Brilliant.

Having grown up in South Florida near a planetarium and NASA, I remember the sense of wonder the Planetarium shows gave me as a child. This show, called Space Safari, is hosted by a real-life Astronomer called Tom and his animated friend Ted, a bear. I wasn’t expecting that we would have the privilege of an Astronomer, to be honest, as so many childrens’ offerings seem to be a little dumbed down. So this is especially good. Really, especially, intelligently good.

space safariThe Safari takes young children on a journey through our solar system looking for a “great big bear,” which we eventually learn is the constellation Orion. My nearly three-year old was a little frightened at first, but quickly removed fingers from eyelids after deeming the show “not scary.” It was a kind and gentle introduction to outer space, a little sing-songey (not enough to drive you bonkers). There’s plenty to see in the beautifully illuminated planetarium space with amazing footage of the ground on the Moon and Mars, solar atmospheres, and much else that science has found and ferried back to Earth for us. Plenty to learn for the older children of the 0-7 set and beautiful, natural visuals and a story to include and entrance the younger ones.

We had a look around the Observatory grounds and then shuffled back down the hill, through Greenwich Park, and spent the afternoon in the Royal Maritime Museum where we looked around, sat nice and quietly for the Chinese New Year storyteller, and saw some “old things.” All for free.

A quick 40-minute train and DLR journey (a bargain at around £5 round trip on a Saturday from our pad in East London–zones 3 and 4) and tickets to the show are very reasonable at £6.50 for adults and £4.50 for children 3+. A complete day out (including snacks and lollies) for about £20. Not bad.

The Space Safari runs on weekends and Tuesdays in term-time (Spring 2015). Booking online is probably essential. And do leave early as you must arrive 10 minutes before showtime and the Observatory is, of course, up a nice hill. The pre-schooler, the toddler and I walked / ran / hopped (no buggy) from the Cutty Sark DLR station to the Observatory in 15 minutes.

Meeting the Purple Pumpkin

Sometimes you meet some really lovely people on the Internet. This week, whilst preparing for this week’s newsletter, I made a terrific find: thepurplepumpkinblog.co.uk!

Blogger Michelle Ordever has an amazing photographic and writing talent, making the Purple Pumpkin lovely to look at and a worthwhile read.

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We’ve used her beautiful, serene depiction of Fairlop Waters sailing lake for this month’s Redbridge home page. It’s part of her blog entry in which she woke up at the crack of dawn to watch the historic Olympic torch relay leg at Fairlop. Do have a mini-scroll down memory lane: The Olympic-Torch at Fairlop Waters park.

Thanks Michelle! And we’ll definitely be checking back in with you.

At Tumbling Bay Playground in the Olympic Park

I now see what everyone’s raving about. We visited the Tumbling Bay Playground at the Queen Elizabeth II Olympic Park at Stratford this weekend. It’s in our neighbouring borough of Newham, so just a short ride on the train. And yes, it’s totally WOW. Agreed.

Beautifully landscaped, the architects have taken pride in preserving the natural riverside environment as you walk up to the play area, which has been thoughtfully designed for kids of all ages: Sandpits, water play, climbing, a rope bridge, slides, and loads of green space to run and play. There’s plenty of space to picnic, or you can have a meal at the Timber Lodge cafe, which shares the play space.

The walk up to the play area is full of very picturesque views of the river and London in the distance. Modern art is playfully placed all around (see photos), and there’s a poetry installation at the Playground. We saw a poetry potter’s shed last Sunday with free workshops for the kids. And it’s just really cool to be in the Olympic Park.

We took a wrong turn on our way and ended up at the London Aquatic Centre. Another WOW! I’m booking in a swim for us next week. It’s easy to use during the week and busier on weekends. But as my 8-year old nephew said, “You’re going to swim in the pool where Michael Phelps swam? WOW!” The Copper Box also is now home to an amazing gym. We saw people playing table tennis outdoors.

Here’s some more WOW from the Park. For pics of the Playground, see the link to the web site, below:

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The view down to the river. One of several large spherical sculptures. The Park is full of modern art like this. During the Olympics, this space was used as a picnic area.

 

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Nearly there. . . a final hill of daffodils before we reach Tumbling Bay. Just there is the Athlete’s Village. These are privately owned flats. More are being built just behind the play area. Lucky local residents!

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A nice welcoming entrance to the play space, keeping the all natural theme.

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The view across to the Athletic Stadium, which will reopen in 2015 for the Rugby World Cup and then be home to West Ham United’s football team. Next to it is that thing. . . er, the ArcelorMittal Orbit, which you can still climb for a view of the Park.

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Yes, there was a lot of tumbling at Tumbling Bay. . .

How to get there: Many people cycle to this park, but if it’s not local to you, then you can easily take public transportation. From Stratford International rail/bus/tube, it’s a 15-minute walk (through Westfield and then out on the main road) OR two stops on bus route 388 to the Copper Box stop.

Tumbling Bay Playground’s web site: http://queenelizabetholympicpark.co.uk/the-park/attractions/tumbling-bay-playground

The Promise of Camellias

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I took the girls to Valentine’s Mansion and Park this morning. Beaming sunshine beckoned us outdoors instead of to mass; we’ve been under the weather for what seems like weeks now, so our bodies are craving vitamin D and outdoor play. A quick glance at the weatherstation promised rain. I ignored that. Got to the park, aboard tricycle and scooter, and realised that the sun was quickly disappearing. A quick look at the ducks and geese in the pond before hitting the playground, and I spotted this lovely Camellia bush aching with abundant flowers and had to take a photo (or five). My little ones are used to me wanting to look at flowers and plants and trees and so indulged me for a moment. It’s just the loveliest flower, bright and big and bold against vibrant evergreen foliage. And at a time of the year when one seems just desperate for bright, big, bold, and vibrant. Glad I ignored the weatherstation this morning. Am happy now.