Events/Days out
  • Woodcote Green Garden Centre and Nurseries, Woodmansterne Lane, SM6 0SU-Santa's Grotto Review.
Timed tickets makes this a stress-free Santa's grotto experience.  I booked mine in-store a couple of days beforehand at the Customer Service desk.  To be honest, we were running a bit late on the day so we high-tailed it to the back of the site where they've set up the grotto with about 4 minutes to spare.  Fortunately myself and Toddler had visited all the animatronic sets they've placed around the centre on the day I booked the ticket so Toddler didn't mind rushing past them.  The animatronic displays they've got around the centre really add to the magic of the whole experience as do the reindeer in their large pen outside.

We queued up with the four other families who were booked on our timed slot.  The children were entertained during their short wait by the animatronic display which consisted of an ice-skating penguin and igloo building (I think they were) elves.  When our time slot was called we all filed into a little corridor which was done up in grotto glory-fairylights, Christmas trees, fake snow, woodland creatures etc. etc.  Toddler was enthralled by the huge talking owl which was telling the story of 'The Gingerbread Man'.  Each family was called through to see Santa by a helpful elf who gave Santa a slip of paper with each child's name on beforehand.

In November tickets were £4.99 which, in my opinion, was a bargin as the present Toddler got must have cost that anyway.  In December tickets will be £9.99 and one photo of the family or child with Santa costs £10.00.

  • Breast Cancer Care Carols by Candlelight at St. Paul's Church, Knighstbridge
I was lucky enough to be joined by two good friends for this lovely start to the festive period.  Stepping out of the taxi opposite the church we were greeted by a queue snaking around the pavement next to the church wall.  Fortunately the organisers had thought of that and had people with baskets of choccies and hot roasted chestnuts diligently going up and down the queue.  They also had sacks full of pressies for the lucky dip and raffle tickets on sale up and down the queue to make the waiting more bearable.

Once inside the beautiful and well decorated church we found our seats and settled down to be entertained and sing along to the carols.  Each seat had a candle and cuff, an order of service some Breast Cancer Care publicity and a beautiful Swarovski Christmas ornament.

Mrs. T. Blair did the introduction and the carols were punctuated by actors and broadcasters doing various festive readings.  It was a pleasure to hear these professionals (Dan Stevens from Downtown Abbey fame, Bill Paterson the renowned Scottish actor and Zoe Wannamaker CBE) in the flesh.  It was also moving to hear of Alison Keenan's (QVC and the voice of London railway announcements) fight through breast cancer.

I would love to go again next year.  Tickets go on sale in mid-September for an early-December event.  Tickets for the 2011 event cost £30.