DD3 skipped out of school on Friday afternoon clutching a horribly familiar grey teddy.It seemed ‘Barnaby’, the class bear, was to spend the weekend with us.
‘I didn’t know we were booked in for Barnaby’, I remarked.
‘We weren’t', replied my daughter cheerfully. ‘But no one else wanted him, so I said we’d take him’.
For those of you not familiar with the concept, a class bear is a soft toy that goes home with a different pupil every weekend. It’s not the bear that you have to worry about, it’s his diary that is the complete PITA. Your child is supposed to write in the diary about all the fantastic things Barnaby did with your family. You are also supposed to include photos. It can make for a tense weekend, if you have nothing planned except a couple of lie ins and some TV.
Luckily, I did have something special planned for the weekend.
I, and DD2 and DD3, had been invited to go along to the Chickenshed Theatre to watch their Christmas production of Sleeping Beauty Dream On. This was made possible by the ticket reselling site, StubHub, who supports the theatre as one of their community partners.
StubHub are a relatively new company in the UK, having arrived on here in 2011, but have been established in the US since 2000. They are the world’s biggest secondary ticket marketplace and sell a ticket every second.
The ‘secondary ticket market’ refers to tickets being re-sold by someone who has purchased a ticket through the primary market, either from an artist, venue or primary website. Simply speaking, StubHub connects buyers to sellers. Of course, you can do this through word of mouth or on other online sites, but the difference with using StubHub is that they are a safe and secure platform for both buyers and sellers. Every purchase through the site is backed by their Fan Protect Guarantee, which guards against fraud and ensures that buyers get what they pay for. Additionally, aside from a modest shipping fee, the price you see on the site is the price you pay – there are no hidden charges.
Using StubHub makes receiving your event tickets less of a nerve wracking process than relying on Royal Mail. Where available, customers will be able to have tickets emailed to them for easy print out. When this option is not available, customers will be able to pick up their tickets from one of their convenient pick up locations throughout London. For events more than five days ahead, they can arrange for tickets to be couriered to any address in the UK. But they are not planning to concentrate solely on events based in London. They also cover events nationwide in major cities such as Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh. Whenever they have a high number of buyers they plan to offer pick up at a pop-up location close to the event venue.
We were part of a number of bloggers who were invited to come down to StubHub’s Great Portland Street premises, to catch a coach up to the Chickenshed Theatre in time for a tour and lunch, then an afternoon show. Barnaby was very excited and especially enjoyed the tube trip into town two weeks before Christmas.
We got off at Oxford St and found the StubHub office easily enough, where we were given a snack bag and whisked onto a very nice executive coach with a DVD of Toy Story 3 playing. There was not a peep of ‘Are We There Yet?’ from any of the kids and I managed to have a little doze in the back.
The driver was super speedy and navigated his way through the North London traffic to Cockfosters with about half an hour to spare, so we had time for a cuppa while we waited for a couple more groups to meet us at the theatre.
The Chickenshed Theatre is a truly inclusive theatre company in North London, which has the aim of bringing people together of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to produce outstanding theatre that inspires, challenges, entertains and educates both audiences and participants alike. It began in 1974, and initially the company was run from an old chicken shed. It also has its own cafe/restaurant and I can personally vouch for the quality of their coffee.
We were given a rare tour of the theatre by Chickenshed’s Press & Communications Manager, Susan Jamson, who thoroughly enjoyed showing us around and was very patient with our many questions. It’s always a treat getting to look around a working theatre, but when it’s so close to show time, you get an extra frisson of excitement. There were rehearsals, props, crew and cast everywhere.
Back in the restaurant, the food we’d selected from their extensive menu was ready. The girls each had a huge hot dog and chips, they didn’t manage to finish these and could have probably had one between the two of them.
It was almost 3 o’clock by now, so the girls were starving and had a good attempt at clearing their plates. I had a lamb wrap meal which was very good as well but soon it was time to go and find our box seats for the performance.
Sleeping Beauty Dream On is not a pantomime in the ‘he’s behind you sense’ but it is an absolutely amazing show that oozes the Spirit of Christmas. Actors of all abilities, ages, shapes and sizes interact seamlessly on stage, up to 200 cast members at a time. There are four cast rotas and two Sleeping Beauties, and we were all entranced. The kids especially loved the fact that there was always a cast member signing on stage, as we used sign language with DS for ages before he finally began talking.
The show has it all and should really be considered as THE festive show of choice for anyone in the area. Even Barnaby enjoyed it, which proves it is truly inclusive ( to stuffed bears).
And, he also got to meet that afternoon’s Sleeping Beauty, who has the most amazing voice ( and hair!)
After the show, we were driven back down to Oxford Street, which was absolutely chokablock.
Barnaby and the DD’s got to admire the lights for a bit, but we couldn’t get anywhere near Oxford tube station due to crowds, so we caught a cab to Baker St instead.
A short 30 minute tube trip later and we were home; an hour after that both the bear and girls were tucked up in bed, fast asleep.
It had been a big day and DD3 had something interesting to write in Barnaby’s diary, thanks to StubHub and the Chickenshed Theatre.
StubHub paid for our day out and provided us with goodie bags to enhance our enjoyment of the day, but all opinions expressed in this blog are unbiased and not influenced by gifts given.