Hinksey – not just splash, but also play!

  Hinksey 1You can’t miss the playground between Abingdon Road and the famous Hinksey Splash Park! We discovered it on a somewhat “catastrophic” day in the summer of 2013, while the water games didn’t work. The neat recreational park looked like a rescue area back then! We had a memorable time – mothers sitting with their babies in the shade of the trees and children discovering the different games offered by the park.

Some months laterHinksey water (1), there was a flood at the playground and a part of it went underwater, however this didn’t stop the children from playing… It’s a good option when you think to yourself  “gosh, where can we go to change a bit from the usual playground down the street?”

What?  The Hinksey Park Playground

Where? Lake Street, off Abingdon Road, Oxford, OX1 4RP

How can I go there? Several busses coming from Oxford’s City Centre stop close to the park. You can also cycle there from the City Centre (Abingdon Road) or from East Oxford via Donnington Bridge (take the fabulous walk close to the Isis and then left [before the University College Boathouse], pass by the Four Pillars Hotel and here you are in front of the Hinksey Park Playground.) Continue Reading

Jeu de sable pédagogique

Little Messy PLay 2014-06 (2)Juste un petit mot de retour de l’école où j’ai déposé notre fillette. J’ai si souvent raté l’occasion de faire une photo de leurs multiples activités qui me donnent toujours envie d’avoir 3 ans… Ce matin, je n’ai pas pu résister devant ce grand bac à sable posé sur une table avec des pinces à cornichons et des baguettes asiatiques. Le tout pour aller à la pêche aux lettres… Vive la dextérité et aussi le plaisir d’écrire son nom avec les nouilles. Un régal pour les sens! Bravo à l’équipe des maîtresses pour leur créativité. C’est la version soft et instructive d’un “messy-play “.

Explore new playgrounds in Oxford: Bury Knowle Park

Bury Knowle BLOG3Are you looking for a change?  Do you feel like trying some exciting new slides or games? We recently went on a bike excursion to the Bury Knowles Park in Headington! Wait a minute, don’t lose interest… Headington is not that far away from Oxford as you might imagine… Frankly, this playground is worth seeing! Everything is about the atmosphere here. When you get in, you are not just crossing a gate, you are walking through a wardrobe as in Narnia’s story…
You will find that the playground games are full of fun and very imaginative: unicorn and crocodile see-saws, great swings and slides and a pirate ship immersed in sand with a water game area. I couldn’t resist trying a special spinning swing with my other half, the kind where you fly around in seconds… our children just howled on!

What? The Bury Knowle Park -London Road, Headington, Oxford, OX3 9HX

How can I go there? Several busses coming from Oxford’s City Centre stop nearby. You can also cycle there: take the Morell Avenue to avoid the Headington hill, then the Gipsy Lane which leads onto Headington Road.

Suitable for Babies and Toddlers? Bury Knowle BLOG2Yes! The playground is divided in two main parts: one of them –enclosed by yellow gates- is more suitable for the younger ones, up to toddle age. Outside this area (see picture) you have some exciting playground games for older or more adventures children (spinning swings, zip wire, climbing spaces).

Continue Reading

Wonder Walk through Oxford

Wonder Walk mapAnd now close your eyes, turn around yourself, anticlockwise…” if you see a group close to St Mary’s Church or on Christchurch Meadow reacting upon these instructions, don’t be worried, they are simply on a Wonder Walk!
The Story Museum located in the heart of Oxford just re-launched their Wonder Walks for families (and grown-ups who like stories). A rather unusual activity which guarantees a lot of fun, laughs and unexpected details about Oxford and those places where fantasy stories originated. It would be a shame to reveal all the stories now, but let me just say that I learned new things about sweet Alice, the daughter of the Dean of Christ Church in the 1850s… but pssst, you should discover the other details by yourself 🙂 Your “Wonder-Tourguides” will protect you from dragons and safely lead you through the different universes with humour, creativity and pizzazz!

What is the Wonder Walk? Wonder Walk JaneDo you like stories, fantasy, time travelling, imagination, fancy dressing? Than you will be happy to join this family friendly walkabout through some of Oxford’s beautiful sights which you may not know under the “storytelling” perspective. Equipped with a storytelling map, you explore some of the backgrounds of well-known stories such as Alice in Wonderland or CS. Lewis’ Narnia. At every place you will receive a sticker for your map (great souvenir for the children!). And don’t forget, watch the dragons and follow “P-Body” the flamingo…

It’s for families, but which age is the best? I would recommend Continue Reading

Rainbow House in Oxford’s City Centre

 Rainbow House (7)I discovered Rainbow House more than twenty years ago, when my first son was little and I was looking for a place to meet friends who were living on the opposite side of Oxford” relates Katherine, the coordinator of Rainbow House. And in fact, this great café is just behind Cornmarket street, where you have to change buses when you want to go from one side of the town to the other.
Based in the Church Hall of Wesley Memorial Church, supported but not run by the church, Rainbow House opens three days a week to welcome Under 5’s with their parents or carers. The friendly atmosphere, home-made food for reasonable prices, and a large space for children to play add up to a relaxing site in central Oxford.
“I like having lunch with my children here” highlights Rebecca who regularly meets friends there. “Once the children are fed they can play and you can have lunch, maybe also a coffee, and at the same time you chat with other mums!” Another strength of Rainbow House, is that you feel at home without having to clear up tables afterwards! “But we kindly ask you to bring the dishes and cutlery in the boxes provided after your lunch” asks Katherine who is also in charge of the team of volunteers. Generally four volunteers, two in the kitchen and two at the buffet, help her to keep Rainbow House running! Continue Reading

Do you know SOAP?

SOAP 2

What’s for sure, during these sunny/drizzling, chilly and still muddy days you will need soap (and warm water) after having had fun at SOAP!
SOAP stands for South Oxford Adventure Park and is located close to Abingdon Road and Hinksey Park. An immense playground in a splendid green area with a lot of places to climb, run, explore wooden castles, shiny slides and other funny play corners – as far as the eye can see. It’s a special place, a charity, run by volunteers – a new group just started – with a lot of workshops to stir the younger ones’ creativity. SOAP 1

For whom? I would recommend for kids from 3 years onwards. They will have a lot of fun discovering some slides, swings and a little climbing castle. The older ones have a lot of other spaces to let off steam : football field, giant wooden fort and a zip-wire… lots of others things to explore! It’s “the place to be” when you have siblings!

Good to know This playground is especially for kids coming after school. You can go there alone when you’re about 7 years old (there is a registration). The under 7s should be accompanied by a grown up. Continue Reading

Vous avez dit “messy” ?

Premier jour de classe en maternelle, l’enseignante de ma fille me demande si elle aime le “messy play” ?
J’avoue être un peu gênée en lui annonçant que je ne connais pas ses préférences en la matière, puisque c’est une première pour elle… Mais c’est l’occasion rêvée d’en savoir plus sur ce concept que j’ai découvert quelques semaines avant dans un Children Center. Au fond il s’agit d’un espace dédié “à s’en mettre partout”.  J’adore! Quand je vois la petite table préparée avec une gigantesque tablette à rebord, grouillant à l’intérieur de liquide coloré, de textures diverses, souvent gluantes… j’ai envie d’avoir 3 ans et d’y plonger mes mains, car même s’il y a dès fois des outils pour transvaser, verser ou encore remplir… le mieux c’est de mettre les mains dans la vase. (Enfin! Ceux qui me connaissent savent que lorsque je fais un gâteau, la cuisine se transforme en messy-play…)Messy Play 1
“L’idée, me confie l’enseignante, est de créer un espace où les enfants peuvent en mettre partout à leur guise et le tout est autorisé! Ils s’amusent avec les différentes textures, les couleurs, parfois on ajoute des brillants, des paillettes… C’est un réel plaisir pour eux qui absorbent tant avec leurs sens – le visuel, le toucher et l’odorat sont particulièrement mis en avant par cette activité.”
Voici quelques images d’un messy play au Children Centre de Donnington Doorstep (Oxford), avant que les enfants n’arrivent. Messy Play 3Quasi immaculé c’est un monde préhistorique qui se déploie en miniature.Messy Play 2

Personnellement, je trouve ça extrêmement ingénieux comme idée : un espace clé et délimité pour faire le binz! Enfin, il ne me reste plus qu’à faire des recherches pour savoir si les enfants anglais qui se défoulent au messy play “don’t mess up elsewhere”?