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We love London, we love theatre and we definitely love teas, so there was little hesitation when we found out that one theatre company was putting on an immersive comedy dining experience in our home town!

Let Robert, who’s now 14 tell you more:

“This weekend Mum and I travelled back to 1922 for an immersive performance and A Right Royale Tea. For the first time in my lifetime someone recognised my noble blood and, whilst Robert and Sarah entered the beautiful Amba Hotel, it was Lord Robert and Lady Sarah who exited. The hotel was directly connected to Charing Cross station and so was very convenient to get too – no long walks for the upper class!

After one of the servants took our names we were directed to a waiting room where we practised our formal greetings – “Air Hair Lair” (“Oh, hello” for those who don’t speak aristocracy) before entering the hall and sitting down on tables of six or seven with other visitors. Throughout the afternoon we were introduced to Lord and Lady Right, their daughter Ginnie and the family’s witty and blunt members of staff.

The food – especially the sweet treats – was really delicious.

The food:

Sandwiched in between the performance that recounts the lives and situations of our hosts was, well, sandwiches, as well as a variety of cakes and scones accompanied by tea and coffee to wash it down. There was egg, ham (which we didn’t eat), cucumber and smoked-salmon sandwiches – as any acceptable afternoon tea should have, and as for the desserts there were lemon tarts, mini Victoria sponges, cherry drops and scones with jam and cream. We were both more than full by the end and there was definitely enough options for vegetarians.

Patrick – who always referred to himself in the third person – was especially good

The performance:

The storyline and actors themselves were very funny – in particular the audacious gin-drinking Lady Right and butler Patrick who refers to himself in the third person. We were treated to a performance of opera, a communal rendition of Oh Brittania and the audience were involved heavily. There were chances to take pictures with the actors in their costumes and plenty of breaks to chat within your tables. The whole event lasted around two and a half hours although it flew by and felt like much less.

Lord and Lady Right and us!

Overall:

Mum and I had a really fun time at A Right Royale Tea and would definitely recommend going if you enjoy immersive performances or just want re-earth some old memories of yourself from 1922. If a similar experience ever came about I would definitely hope to be going.”

Sarah adds:

We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and it was fun to meet the other people on our table. The audience was a mixture of locals (from London or nearby) and tourists, and the actors were really good at chatting to everyone and getting involved. I felt the acting part of it started a bit slowly, but definitely got better and better and ended on a high.

A small niggle was that the smoked salmon sandwiches were put next to the ham ones (not great for those who eat fish, but not meat and wouldn’t want them to touch) and that one of the three cakes (the cherry one) wasn’t suitable for vegetarians and nothing else was offered instead. However, these were, as mentioned, small niggles and I have to say that we were pretty stuffed at the end (we didn’t eat any supper afterwards, put it that way…). The sweet treats were really delicious and there was copious amounts of cream and jam. All the staff were friendly and helpful and it really was a different and fun experience – a step up from just going out for afternoon tea! Plus, I had no idea that the Amba hotel even existed. It’s literally right next to Charing Cross station and inside it was amazingly large, quiet and plush.

The Right Royale Tea takes place at the Amba Hotel, Charing Cross, London, on Sundays across the summer, from 2.30-5pm, finishing on September 1st. Tickets cost £69.95 per adult, £59.95 per child under 12 and £65.95 for students and senior citizens.

Disclosure: We were given free entry to the Right Royale Tea in order to write about it for this blog. However, all the opinions contained in the post are our own and no one else had any input into them.

The post A Right Royale Tea – living it up with an immersive theatrical tea in London appeared first on Family Travel Times.

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The wall by the Postal Museum

As Londoners, we have explored our home city pretty well over the years. We’ve enjoyed big attractions like the Science Museum, and sought out smaller ones like Dr Johnson’s House. We’ve travelled in different directions, from north to Kenwood House, across the river to the glories of Greenwich. So we were pretty excited at the thought of visiting a new museum – especially one with a ride…

The Postal Museum is great – I should say that straight up – and unique. It’s genuinely interesting (I had no idea that post boxes were originally green, for example) and has been very carefully thought out so that the interactive parts work well and also informative. There are loads of interesting exhibits and artefacts, and you can even design your own stamp!

The Mail Rail ride at the Postal Museum,

Where is it?

The Museum is on two sites, near the former Mount Pleasant depot in Clerkenwell, London.  The first involves the ride – on a real mail train – and for most people it’s the highlight. I should admit right now, that I could not bring myself to go on this as I don’t like very small enclosed spaces, but Brian, Robert and Jess really enjoyed their 15 minute journey and I could watch it all on a screen just behind the track, so didn’t really feel I missed out.

History in action

I can’t imagine that many people know that a postal railway network operated under London for much of the 20th century. It distributed letters and parcels across the city, from Paddington to Whitechapel (around 6.5 miles) on specially designed trains, cutting down delivery times dramatically and delivering millions of letters each day.

It was actually the world’s first driverless electric railway when it opened in 1927, and visitors can travel in a specially adapted train into these underground tunnels. They take you back in time, past a dartboard on a wall, which the workers – who loaded the bags of letters – used to play on between shifts, into the Blitz and even a powercut (I was glad not to be on the train for that one…..)

The service closed in 2003 – basically because we’ve stopped sending so much post (damned Internet!)

Once you disembark from the Mail Rail, there’s an accompanying exhibition which is well worth your time. You can see the original trains, try to keep the trains running by controlling the network (this was tricky) and sort the mail while the ground is moving (we all liked this one!).

The second half

After you’ve finished with the Mail Rail part, cross the road and walk up a little bit and you can visit the actual Postal Museum Exhibition. This is small, but really good, taking you right back to the history of the mail service, when Henry VIII was on the throne, to the present day.

You can see an original mail coach, a sheet of Penny Blacks, and the original sculpture of the Queen’s head which has been used on millions of stamps. You can also dress up, and find out about how the post was delivered in war time. I found this really moving.

Rare Edward VIII stamps on show

There’s also a playspace “Sorted” for younger kids.

Robert, aged 13, says:

“I really enjoyed all the interactive activities to take part in that were scattered around the museum. You could make custom stamps that you could decorate with your face and an array of animated decorations. You could also play electronic games, one in which you pick which way to go to complete the quickest delivery route and another in which you make important decisions regarding the safety of the mail, your passengers and your deadline to deliver. Those activities were really fun although they weren’t something you would want to do numerous times.

“However, there was one activity I could’ve kept doing for hours (which I almost did!). It was the pneumatic mail delivery tubes and involved writing messages before placing them in mail capsules and then pushing them into chutes which transported your message all around the exhibition before dropping it off at the alternate station. Whoever was at that station would then write back so you could have a fun conversation with the person the receiving end.”

Postboxes were originally green!

All in all, we would recommend The Postal Musem as a great day out for all ages. You should book the Mail Rail in advance as it gets extremely popular and afterwards, either eat in the cafe, or take a quick walk to Exmouth Market, which is full of shops and stalls.

Need to know

The Postal Musum is open every day from 10 till 5pm

Entry to the exhibitions costs £11 for adults and is free for children.

A trip on the Mail Rail and the exhibitions is £17.45 for adults and £10.45 for children.

You can find more information on the museum’s website.

The post The Postal Museum in London: a ticket to ride appeared first on Family Travel Times.

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Robert sitting in the cockpit of a Spitfire

When the kids were small, we would often pop over to the RAF museum, not far from where we live, in North London, to have a look around and take part in some of the children’s activities offered there. It was a pleasant day out, a bit old-fashioned, but convenient and good for the children. But it wasn’t anything special.

Fast-forward a few years and a multi-million pound transformation has occurred. The new RAF museum (and I’m calling it new, even though it’s on the same site) is worth not just taking your kids to, but your teens, your other half and your parents… And it’s still free entry.

2018 is the centenary of the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the museum is now a great testament to that (it was previously a bit tired). It offers some excellent galleries (including a new one on modern warfare, which contains up to date aircraft plus interactive exhibits including a quiz which I very much enjoyed), brilliant exhibits (including bombs from World Wars One and Two), hundreds of new artefacts and some very clever interactive experiences including the chance to build your own computerised plane (and then to see it fail miserably when tested – or perhaps that was only us).

The space itself (a former air field) is also vastly improved, with a green space in the middle of it and simply more space to breathe. There’s also a new restaurant, but it needs more staff (and more panini machines!) to be as appealing as the rest of the site. The only other thing they need to add is a really good audio tour, as it would help you to organise what you should see – there’s so much on offer.

Now, that’s enough of me. Robert, who’s now 13, explains more: 

When a child comes to a museum they are hoping for interesting things to look at and interactive activities to take part in.The RAF museum has always provided awesome vehicles to examine, (planes, tanks, helicopters…) yet the latter was only really provided in a kids’ activity centre, not around the rest of the site.

But now, scattered around the different exhibitions are loads of online and real-life activities to have fun with. These include: designing your own plane and then testing it in a series of online challenges (which I really enjoyed and did more than once), a multi-tasking test where you had to complete logic puzzles at the same time as tapping coloured squares, and a screen where you have to put famous events in chronological order. More physical activities included dressing up in the clothes of RAF pilots, placing cogs in a wheel to try and complete a successful engine and a speed test where you had to tap lights as they flashed up. There were also loads of other interactive things to do for both younger and older kids, on top of the old activity centre (which, funnily enough, is one of the things that doesn’t really work that well anymore).

Royal Air Force

There were so many interesting cut outs of people who had been, or were, in the RAF

The Royal Air Force is what the activities and the museum is all about.There are many exhibitions displaying information about times when the RAF was needed and in each hangar there are the different vehicles used at those times; from the spitfire to the German Messerschmitt to the incredible, giant Vulcan. In the first exhibition, “Stories of the air force” there are models of every vehicle for children to sit in.

Some of the older bombs on show

In terms of information there are boards next to the planes explaining what they are, as well as loads of lifesize cut outs of former RAF members with their story printed on the back. These were really interesting and varied – from different times and about many different types of people – and I would recommend reading them. I found the planes and the bombs/missiles they carried really cool to look at although I could see younger children getting bored after a little while.

Add-ons

Robert flying a plane (via a simulator…)

There are three main experiences that you could pay to take part in at the museum. The first was a flight simulation where you have six minutes to control the plane. You do feel slight vibrations, but it wasn’t as exciting as I hoped – although my dad did enjoy it. This simulator is only for older kids – however I remember the other simulator (the torpedo) being amazing when I was younger so if you go to the museum after it has been fixed, I would recommend that simulator above the newer one.

There was a 4D film in which you “fly” with the red arrows – one of five different films being shown.

The final add on was “The Spitfire Experience” where you get to go inside a real spitfire and press the buttons and pull the levers as if you were flying. I thought this might be a bit boring, but it was really good. A member of staff explains all the bits of the plane to you, and how it worked, and I thought it was the most interesting thing I had done all day. I would recommend trying this – although it costs £10 – for the explanation alone. It was great.

Evaluation

Standing in the new gallery, which is the story of the RAF from 1980 to the present day

Personally, I had a great day trying out all the new activities and looking at the new exhibitions. The day out was a lot more fun than the last time I came so if you haven’t come in a while or are coming to London on a trip then I would definitely recommend a visit!

The RAF Museum is open from 10-6pm daily from March to October. It’s free entry, although the add-ons (as mentioned above) cost extra. It’s in Hendon, North West London (the nearest tube is Colindale on the Northern Line) and you can find out more about it via its website..

Read more:

Top museums for kids in London – by Robert

A visit to the fantastic Spy Museum

The post The new RAF museum – a must-visit appeared first on Family Travel Times.

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