Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Festivities for under 5s

Well, we had the nativity play yesterday, Santa’s dropping into nursery this morning and then that’s that – Christmas holidays for my three year old, and still a whole two weeks until the big day. My daughter has only been going to nursery since August (and only four mornings a week) but I got used to the term-time routine surprisingly quickly (it took about two days). My baby son generally obliges by napping for some of the morning so by the time we all know it, it’s lunchtime and there’s only the afternoon to fill. Now, for a few weeks, we will have all day, every day together. What will we get up to?

We could get into town – there’s loads happening there, and there really is nothing like Christmas in Edinburgh. I’ve promised us a trip to Princes’ Street Gardens East where there’s a Santa Express, a grotto, a Christmas maze and all sorts of other marvels. On Friday I decided to get a taster of Christmas in town by getting the bus in to see the decorations, Jenners’ tree (“You’ll not find a bigger tree indoors, Anna, have a proper look!”), and check out the happenings in St Andrews Square. This has become a great venue for holiday activities and I’d missed the amazing stuff that was hosted there in the summer. Well, we weren’t going to miss this! Whatever it was!
From the minute we stepped off the bus on Hanover Street, Edinburgh felt Christmassy. On the way, George Street looked great and the Dome was as festive as it ever is at this time of year, with its twinkly pillars. At St Andrews and St George’s West they seemed to be having some sort of Christmas tree festival. I made a mental note to pop in another time, and to check out their Undercroft café while I was at it.

Arriving at the Children’s Christmas Market at St Andrew’s Square, it was the carousel that caught my three year old’s eye. I distracted her for a while with the Toys Galore shed, and then a sniff of the candy shed (letting her roam free in there would have been far too dangerous). The Children’s Market also had a theatre, with Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs, amongst other shows, playing and craft huts to keep little ones busy. For the adults there are stalls nearby selling Glüwein and hot chocolate. But, soon enough, back to the colourful, musical horses it was. I’m sure she could have hung onto one all by herself but I was taking no chances. After a little think about the logistics and a chat to the man in the booth and a lady selling the tickets, I decided all three of us could pile onto a horse – Anna in front, me in the middle with one arm round a pole and another round her, and my one year old firmly in the baby-carrier rucksack on my back. We must have looked a sight. Still, my daughter was utterly delighted with the whole experience. The baby didn’t say much but emitted the odd ‘Oh!’ as we went around.

Coming off the carousel, my daughter announced that she wanted the toilet so we headed for John Lewis (where else?) as I also wanted to check out the shoe department. An amazing lack of foresight in October (that winter was coming) had meant that her current shoes were the flimsiest summer model you could find – not great for near-zero temperatures. Getting into the store there was Christmas stuff to enjoy everywhere you looked. On floor 4 there was a little watching area for children to look at the latest Christmas advert, with model animals in a snowy scene. Toilets visited and boots bought, we headed off down Broughton Street to get the bus home.

Just before we got to the bus stop we took a detour. I’d always meant to check out the Barony Community Garden, having heard such good things about it. When we got there, it was deserted. My daughter was very excited to be there on her own and had a go at everything – the roundabout where everyone sits on a bike and pedals to make it go round, the multiplay with very slidey slide, the seesaw, the basket swing. It was a nice way to spend half an hour before heading home.

There really is nothing like Christmas in Edinburgh. Waiting for the bus back, in the crisp, bright weather, we saw a coach pull up on the other side of the road. Who should be driving it? Why, Santa Claus, of course.

Check out what’s on in Edinburgh at

Until next time, have a very happy Christmas with your wee ones!



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