Sunday, February 23, 2020
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From the 21st November – 5th January 2020 Hyde Park Winter Wonderland returns with an incredible line up of pre-bookable ice themed attractions. This year, the biggest undertaking of them all is The Magical Ice Kingdom, which this year presents a brand-new theme: Charles Dickens’s ‘A Christmas Carol’.

Creating a Victorian world completely out of ice is no small feat, with 500 tonnes of ice and snow used to produce the immersive experience and sculptors routinely working in -10-degree temperatures. Over 30 blocks of snow weighing two tonnes each were used to hand carve the constructions, with the largest snow sculpture weighing in at 40 tonnes… that’s the same as 18 black cabs!

The second of Scrooge’s visitors, the Ghost of Christmas Present, is the largest ice sculpture in the attraction and stands at an imposing 5m high, just bigger than a London double decker bus. The Magical Ice Kingdom, also houses an additional 500 individual sculptures, constructed by a team of 38, including 12 ice sculptors. The team live and breathe A Christmas Carol, immersing themselves in Dickens’s timeless tale to rebuild it in a mesmerising frozen experience.

With planning starting from January 2019, ready for the next Christmas season, the yearlong process sees through everything from concept, production and design with physical sculpting starting as early as June. Approximately 50% of the ice sculptures are produced between June and November, with the remaining builds and snow sculptures created on site across 14 days before the opening of The Magical Ice Kingdom.

With the help of specialist lighting equipment and sound production, it’s an incredible sensory experience. With the ‘real’ human characters created from clear ice and the supernatural characters created from white snow, it’s a truly stunning icy exhibition.

To walk down Scrooge’s frozen street amongst the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, book your tickets for The Magical Ice Kingdom at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland’s website here.

Tickets to all attractions are available to purchase now from:

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About Happy Families

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Mensa Kids Brain Busters

Carlton Kids £9.99
ISBN: 978-1-78739-282-3

Split in three levels (Starters, intermediate and advanced) there are over 240 puzzles and in each section you will find ones that seem easy and others fiendish. Most are of the what number comes next or what would the next variant of a picture be. Just now and again there is a text question.

You will need to know your basic maths and apply logic to overcome these but given time and patience you should crack most of these. There is, of course an answers section at the rear and it does explain how the answer was arrived at. Knowledge of prime numbers is amust and square roots as well.

This is aimed at children, but parents will find plenty of challenges here too.

A Trial of Witches

By Cameron Readman
Rogue Events £13.99
ISBN: 9781916195608
available from Amazon or Bothwell School of Witchcraft

The Bothwell school of witchcraft based at Herstmonceux Castle in Sussex runs 4 day courses where you act out a fantasy of being a student witch and follow a storyline.

They have now released a novel by Cameron Readmasn which creates a fictional back story to the creation of a Bothwell sanctuary in England by a Scottish coven decimated by the witch hunts instigated by James the King of Scotland and his unpopular minister Maitland.

Lord Earl Bothwell, Francis Stewart, is a powerful political figure and charming rogue but is also too impetuous for his own good let alone the coven that he is master of. Driven by his vanity and his hatred of Maitland he is too reckless and this costs him the lives of many close to him.

There are descriptions of torture and of a burning alive, as well as plenty of magic, and even an encounter with an elf, as well as betrayal. There are also two major plot twists toward the end, but no reveals from us!

The book's creator; Cameron Readman, is the Creative Director of Bothwell School of Witchcraft and has already created a rich background and lore around the school. While this is his first novel, he has been writing about Bothwell School of Witchcraft for the past two years, whether that be fictional articles for the student handbook, stories of the founders or simply the characters that people are given for the experience, it has all lead to this. The book was launched via the Crowdfunding platform; Kickstarter, on May 1st and it reached it's funding goal within two hours!

This is a fast paced story primarily set at the end of the sixteenth century from the time of James wedding to Anne of Denmark through the Berwick witch trials and Bothwell's fall from grace. It does feature real life characters such as Lord Bothwell and Agnes Sampson. There is even his half brother Hercules, although his fate differs from history.

Readman in his first full length novel has created a fine work which combines historical fact with a fictional account and mixed in some strong personal motivations for the main character, but there is no skimping on lesser characters and the witch finder Oswyn and King James are fully fleshed out.

Matilda the musical

Cambridge Theatre

First a best selling book, then a fun film from Hollywood and finally a musical thatrical producyion that won a clutch of awards in the West End before crossing the Atlantic and conquering Broadway. Still in the West End this should be at the top of anybodies wish list. Take a child and pretend that you are really there for them when secretly enjoying it for yourself.
The story is pretty much the same - young Matilda has grown up in a family who abhor academic achievement whilst her father is a crooked car dealer and her mother lives for her dancing with her lithe latino partner (actually a cockney). Early on she is shocked to discover that she is pregnant and holds this against the young girl who is a bookworm of the highest order. Eventually a deal is made with Miss Trunchbull a sadistic former hammer throwing champion who is not averse to grabbing a child by the pigtails and seeing how far she can fling them - and don't mention the chokey. Only lonely teacher Miss Honey and a librarian can see her true potential. Thrown into the mix is Matilda's knack for inventing a story spread over several instalments that might be closer to the truth than she can imagine, and then of course is her unique talent.
Principally with a cast of nine children augmented by some adults dressed as children for certain musical scenes, there are some fine set pieces which the young actors belt out and move with prescision. Because of the demands of a West End run there are multiple sets of children to fulfill the roles but rest assured whover you will see is someone at the top of their game. The current Mailda's are Isobel Hubble, Sara Munday, Savannah Read, Olivia Wells and Francesca McKeown. They have long and complicated lines (at times almost like Sondheim) yet deliver these with aplomb.

There are some Russian Mafiosi running around too which is perhaps the weakest link plot wise.
Basically it is a riot with some great songs and our young actors will swing out over the audience whilst whichever Matilda you see will climb on piles of books way higher than herself. Writer Dennis Kelly and composer and lyricist Tim Minchin have created a hugely enjoyable evening that is true to the book and yet allows the musical numbers such as 'When I grow up' and 'Revolting' to shine.

Miss Trunchbull is played by Hayden Tee as a kind of Pantomine Dame but with a vicious streak and is gloriously over the top, but never descending into a cartoonish caricature. There is one number based around physical education in which Trunchbull becomes almost surreal amidst all the wooden horse vaulting. The same cannot be said about Matilda's parents performed by Rob Compton and Holly Dale Spencer who are great comically but somewhat two dimensional.

The set alternates between an archway of books and a giant set of school gates, a school classroom and the titular character's bedroom.

This must be the only show which the cast take a curtain call riding scooters and it all adds to the fun. It's some two and a half hours so choose the show you take your children to with care.

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