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Join Redbridge residents as we Light up London!

Cirque Bijou Umbrella Project

Having learned that Redbridge were running a community dance project to be featured in Lumiere London 2018, I was excited to find out more so myself and a couple of colleagues decided to book ourselves onto the workshop and get involved!

On Sunday 14 January, we arrived at Redbridge Drama Centre in South Woodford clueless of what awaited us.  People had booked on from all over the borough; there were groups of friends, mothers and daughters, couples and a few people that had braved it on their own. But it didn’t matter as we were soon all to get to know each other.

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We met our workshop leaders, Caldi, Grace, Tom & Skippy from Cirque Bijou and they got us all on our feet to go through some warm up exercises before playing a game that would help us to remember each other’s names.  They explained that the Umbrella project was very much about working together and the games made us do exactly that.  By the end of it, I could recall 90% of the names and there were a lot of people there, amazing!

Then we were given our practice umbrellas and began to learn the names of the moves that we would be doing followed by a demo from our four leaders. It was a lot of fun and pretty easy to pick up and looked really effective. After learning all of the moves, we were split into two groups and went off to practice in separate spaces.  All we needed to do was follow our group leader and the ripple effect it produced was impressive.

umbrella project workshop (3)

At the end of the session, we were shown the light up umbrellas that we would be using and given a brief demo on how they worked. Because of all the electronics, these umbrellas were heavier than our practice versions, but seeing them alight really excited me as I could visualise how spectacular it will look when we all work together!

Our performance date is Friday 19 January, just one day away and I can’t wait!  However, there are still spaces to fill, so if anyone is inspired after reading this blog and would like to perform with us in the Lumiere London light festival please contact Geet Sayal by emailing and she will send you more information.

You will need to be able to come to the rehearsal tomorrow (Friday) at 3.30pm, which will be at our Piccadilly base. The rehearsal workshop will be led by Cirque Bijou artists and will involve simple actions and movements which the workshop leaders take you through in order to build the performance.  I promise you this will be enough time to learn the moves, so what are you waiting for?  Come and be part of this amazing experience!

umbrella project workshop (4)

If you don’t want to be part of the performance, please come and support us and enjoy the amazing spectacle that is Lumiere London.

More details can be found by visiting the Lumiere London website.

 Post Author: Cathy Pace 


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A day out at Fairlop Fair 2017


On Saturday we headed to Fairlop Waters County Park for their annual fair. This was our first time going to the fair but not our first visit to the park as it is one of our favourites and is opposite my daughter Chloe’s nursery.

As you may be aware we love a local day out and the fair is one of our favourite days. The fair started at 11am and we got their around 11.30am and by then it was already busy. I was amazed at the variety of activities they had.


Chloe had seen the rides on her way home from nursery on Friday so was already looking forward to going on them and had been saying all morning she wanted to go on the cars. I think Chloe and her cousin Lizzie would have stayed on them all day if we had allowed. The rides were all ticket based which you purchased from the ticket booth. It was £10 for 10 tickets and the rides were two tickets each.  I don’t know what it is with little ones but they get so much enjoyment going round, and round and round.

One of the first things to catch my eye as we entered was the Greggs sign and we soon made a beeline for this. They had a gingerbread decorating stall and the children got two gingerbread men to decorate, one was to be entered in to the competition and one was to be enjoyed now. Chloe didn’t want her one which meant I got to enjoy it. And the best thing was it was all FREE.


And what is any day at the fair without face painting? Chloe will always pick a Tiger. No matter what the event or time of the year she wants to be a tiger. The lady who did the face painting was so talented and Chloe sat really still and took the whole face painting very seriously. Lizzie was a disco cat! Oh to be 8 years old and get away with having a rainbow face.

Soon it was lunch time and we headed to the food area to see what there was, and we were not disappointed with the large choice available from jerk chicken, pizza, burgers and a cake stand with the best name ever – Cakey McCakeface! Chloe wanted chips so I headed to the jerk chicken stall and Lizzie and her mum Lisa had pizza. The pizza looked really nice and was all cooked fresh. The great thing with days like this is that it can be as cheap or expensive as you want and I saw plenty of people sitting having a picnic taking in all the surroundings.

After we had eaten we took a walk around the rest of the fair to see what was on offer. They had a beach area with deck chairs but by the time we got to this area it was so busy we didn’t manage to have a play, but it looked fab. Earlier in the day there was a performance put on in this area that looked like fun.


Also going on throughout the day was music and entertainment by the local drama clubs and even a salsa dancing lesson.

We finished the day with an ice cream on the top of the hill looking over the fair and listening to the music. We all went home happy, tired and with a full belly. We are already looking forward to returning next year!

Guest Writer: Mummy Em

If you’d like to read more from Mummy Em, visit her blog!

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Top things to do in Redbridge for Kids this Easter!

With the weather picking up and the sun shining, it finally feels like spring is here to stay! This Easter, don’t waste the holidays at home – there’s so much to do right outside your door. Check out our top picks of things to do in Redbridge for the kids.

easter eggs1. Go on an Easter egg hunt

What are Easter holidays without an Easter egg hunt? Lucky for you, there’s three to choose from (or why not try all three!) At Owls Play Centre, and around Fairlop Waters Country Park search for tokens and end the day relaxing while the little ones enjoy the play centre. Over at Valentines Mansion there are hidden eggs and bunnies to find with a special treat waiting for you. Or head over to Hainault Forest Country Park for a nature trail, clues and a chocolatey prize!

2. Visit your local library!

Did you know that there are always lots of kids activities taking place in libraries during the holidays? We have arts and crafts, creative workshops and even film clubs! Don’t miss out – find out what’s going on in your local library here.

3. Enjoy cycling sessionscycling

There’s no better way to spend time outdoors than a good few laps around the cycle circuit. With courses for everything from beginners to pros, there’s no reason not to give it a try!

To book or for more information call Redbridge Cycling Centre on 020 8500 9359.

Jelly Roller1 - St Georges Day 174. Celebrate St. George’s Day

Come along to celebrations across Ilford and Barkingside on Saturday 22 April. Join us in operating the 12ft tall George the Dragon – he plays music and blows bubbles! Don’t forget to head over to Ken Aston Square for the traditional Punch and Judy puppet show. Learn more about the day’s activities.

5. Take part in trampolining

Give the kids a place to release all that energy with our fun and exciting Trampolining courses! It’s a great way to stay fit and improve your skills – head over to Wanstead Leisure Centre and enquire at reception about holiday courses! Or call on 020 8989 1172.DSC_1250

6. Follow our family fashion trail

Throughout Easter, Redbridge museum is hosting free family fashion trails and dressing up along with puppet making sessions. If you haven’t visited the new exhibition yet, this is a great chance to get involved and learn all about the changes in fashion across the last 400 years! Come along anytime between 11am to 3pm, Tuesday to Saturday.

With so many events and activities taking place, you’re bound to find something to keep the kids busy this Easter!

Read our part-two Easter blog post: Top things for Adults in Redbridge this Easter!

Post Author: Nida Hussain



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Creative play with glass

I had been promising myself for ages that I would make time and book myself on a creative workshop at Valentines Mansion, and I am so pleased that I did and to add to the pleasure,  I had talked one of my old school friends into joining me so it gave us time to have a catch up too!

So we spent an enjoyable morning yesterday under the guidance of Amanda Seljubac on her Fused Glass Workshop, me creating my very own glass design on a coaster and my friend Tracey making both a window hanger and a coaster.

The morning started with us all arriving and introducing ourselves, it was a nice small friendly group of 9, all keen to get started. We were given books to look through for inspiration and then shown examples of other people’s work to help us focus on what we wanted to create.  Amanda talked us through the various materials that would be available for us to use and passed them around for us to familiarise ourselves with.

My goodness, that was an eye opener, so many different forms of glass; frits and powders, stringers, confetti, millefiori and glassline pens plus other materials which we could incorporate such as copper, glassline paper and tinned copper wire.

First things first, we had to come up with our design idea, I plumped for a phoenix type bird from one of the books that we had looked at, perhaps a bit ambitious but hey ho, in for a penny, in for a pound! Amanda recommended that I draw around my coaster and then sketch my design freehand into the space which I did.  Then the fun began, I used different coloured glassline pens for the outline of my bird, then frits to infill the body and confetti on the wings with stringers for the tail feathers. I used a very thin paint brush and tweezers to help me, I kept adding more and more to my bird as I strived for the look I wanted. Each tiny piece of glass had to be glued onto the glass and boy was it fiddly! But the experience gripped me with a passion. The final piece to my puzzle was to add some copper wire into the tail feathers as it changes colour during firing, but Amanda told us that it was unpredictable, so I wanted to see what would happen.

My friend Tracey managed to create a lovely glass hanger commemorating the birth of her first granddaughter using tiny copper feet and yellow powders with millefiori flowers either end. But bitten by the bug, she also decided to do an abstract coaster using larger pieces of coloured glass and stringers!

One other lady on the workshop had been to numerous classes before and had made two items, one a beautiful abstract coaster for which she had cut the glass into curves and fitted different colours together. Susan who sat opposite me had made a beautiful Kingfisher on the water’s edge whilst another lady made a window hanging gift for her mother’s 80th birthday.

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All of us are eager to see our final creations which will be ready to collect at the weekend and agreed that we thoroughly enjoyed the workshop and would like to do it again.

Afterwards, we enjoyed the sunshine by having lunch in the grounds of the mansion at the Gardeners Cottage Café, talking about the workshop and catching up on old times. The perfect end to a perfect day.

Amanda is one of the resident artists’ that have a permanent studio on the top floor of the mansion, which, in a past life, had been the servant’s quarters. To find out more about her work visit her website:

Amanda specialises in stained glass, pottery and stone carving. If you fancy taking a peek at her studio or any of the other artists in residence, you can do so on one of the regular Open studio days. For details of the next one or to discover what other events are coming up visit the Valentines Mansion website:

Post Author: Cathy Pace

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Fairlop Fair Flypast

This past weekend, on 2-3 July we had a fantastic time at the Fairlop Fair! There was lots to do for all the family including children’s rides, a selection of fantastic stalls and some great competitions. The greatest highlight of the event was the unique opportunity to witness the Hurricane flypast that took place on Saturday afternoon!

flypast fairlop fair

Credit: Fairlop Heritage Group

Fairlop Heritage Group was fortunate in being granted flypast by an RAF Hurricane of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, based at Coningsby Lincolnshire. The Pilot on this occasion was Lt. Andy Preece, flying overhead to commemorate a number of historical Fairlop events.

These include; the Centenary of the Royal Navy Air Station and Royal Flying Corps at Fairlop in 1916, 75 years since RAF Station Fairlop was operational, to celebrate the 90th birthday of our member Max Bean (formerly a rear gunner in a Lancaster Bomber, who served with 115 Squadron, Bomber Command), and finally, to remember the death of a Constable George Hall at Fairlop Fair on 5 July 1846. He was age 20 and had been married for four months.

The weather was most kind and the thousands who attended, were treated to a magnificent display, which took place at precisely 3pm.

Credit: Fairlop Heritage Group

Credit: Fairlop Heritage Group

Afterwards, The Mayor of Redbridge, Cllr Gurdial Bhamra, his Consort Sunita Bhamra, Wes Streeting MP as Patron of Fairlop Heritage Group, Sergeant Matthew Fox Metropolitan Police and Mike Gapes MP, took part in an informal ceremony at the Fairlop Memorial to lay floral tributes in the memory of Constable George Hall.

David Martin, Fairlop Heritage Group

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A celebration of libraries and the Arts: Fabula Festival is a true success!

After hearing about the library being jam-packed on Saturday, for the first full day of the Fabula Festival, I did not want to miss out. So, I went to along on Sunday to enjoy the talks, stalls and the company!

There’s something about being in the library on a Sunday, when it’s not usually open, that makes it feel all the more exciting. The doors opened at 11am and the library was ready to welcome everyone and anyone who wanted to enjoy the various authors coming to discuss their books and the creative workshops to get those creative juices flowing!

Fabula Festival is all about celebrating libraries and the arts, so it was really great to see people of all ages walk through those doors as it proved that there really is something for everyone at the library. A personal favourite of mine was the Ubuntu Arts workshop that had a glorious array of colourful beads, paper and decorations to create your own greetings card – be it for a birthday or a wedding, there was a chance to make any card you could think of.

Even I got stuck in with this one and was delighted to hear that everyone was enjoying themselves. There was a gentle buzz of children whizzing around the library for the treasure hunt and excited murmuring of the crowds waiting to see their favourite author. It really was the perfect way to relax on a Sunday afternoon, I thought to myself as I reached over for the box that overflowed with sequins and ribbons.

Fabula butterfly girlFabula boys cards

Not far away from the greetings card stall was Knitters which also attracted young children, parents and grandparents. One little girl beamed with excitement as she exclaimed her intent on making a woolly hat – yes, what a smart and convenient idea for this chilly time of year!

Just behind the Ubuntu Arts stall was a heart drawn on the window and in the heart were all these fingerprints of people who had visited the festival. Not only was it pretty to look at because of all the different colours people had chosen for their fingerprints, but it was a way of physically capturing the wonder of the Fabula Festival.

Fabula heart

There was also a very important guest at the festival. The Deputy Mayor of Redbridge popped by and perused the goings-on and she even left her fingerprint on the window display! 

I peeped around to see what else was going on and found the ‘Restart Party’ which was offering help and advice about maintaining and repairing technology – something that we can all benefit from these days! There was also a cake decorating workshop that got everyone’s mouths watering. All the author events were extremely popular which was more than understandable as they included: Clive Bloom, Khalil Ali and Claudia Lord-Lynch.

You could just tell that the day would be a successful one. As big groups left the library all in a good mood after the events, more people entered, ready to experience the Fabula Festival!

Post Author: Raeesa Mukhtar

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The Gardens Of Valentines Mansion Inspires Children To Design Their Own Crockery

From the small to the tall, from the greens to the blues and the buzzing of the bees and crawling of all kinds of bugs, the magical gardens of Valentines Mansion is home to many beautiful creatures and plants. I went along to the mansion’s creative crockery session to see how the children were going to use what they could find in the gardens to decorate their very own cup and saucer.

The elegant drawing room had been transformed into an artist’s workshop with cups and saucers all ready to be painted on. But first, everyone needed some inspiration and there’s no better place for it than the wonderful walled gardens. As children learnt that they would be spending the first part of the session outside they were bursting with glee – especially at the thought of being able to see butterflies! So, the children eagerly led their parents through the array of bright pink flowers to large green leaved plants, constantly sketching anything and everything that caught their eye. While the children carefully inspected each and everything they came across, I chatted to a few of the mums who gushed over the beauty of the mansion and the gardens and how lovely it is to come and visit.

When the time came to head back to the mansion, the children were already admiring each other’s drawings – all desperate to share what they found. Cries of delight and excitement followed the young artists all the way back into the drawing room. There were example cups and saucers all decorated in a typical victorian fashion for more inspiration and as the session leader Alison explained, victorians were known for decorating the inside of their cups too! So there certainly was a lot to think about and before going straight for the porcelain pens to design the crockery, all designs were first drawn on templates.

When it was time to start unleashing the pens onto the crockery, a burst of colour began to make its way onto the previously plain old white cups and saucers. Some children wanted to write their names on their cups and some wanted to dedicate it to their mums or dads! Either way it was clear that every creation was unique with each child’s own personality and imagination being expressed through the various designs and colours. There were small pink hearts that bordered plates, small little bees that buzzed around the cups and all kinds of flowers and plants that made these cups and saucers extremely special indeed.

The finished products needed to be set down to dry and as they filled up the table, crowds began to form to admire how beautiful they all looked. The items looked so picturesque that they could have easily been part of a window display in any victorian crockery shop! The children and parents were a little bit heartbroken at the thought of having to leave their creations behind at the mansion so that they could dry properly, but they were equally full of excitement to come back and collect them so that they can begin to use them and have them as the best piece of crockery in the house!

If you would like to participate in future workshops at Valentines Mansion:

Post Author: Raeesa Mukhtar