“If you go down to the woods today you’re in for a big surprise…”
A bunch of screaming kids.
Last week, myself and Ben were invited up to London by Epson printers to go on a treasure hunt! How exciting! Genuinely, I love a treasure hunt…especially at Easter when there is chocolate involved in said hunt, “Outta my way kids!”
I was a little daunted by the idea of going up to London on my own with the toddler, I am a menace on my own up there, let alone whilst in charge of a potentially unruly small person. That said, I put my big girl pants on (much like a pair of Bridget Jones’ if you’re wondering) and said yes. I was going to attempt to parent the shizzle out of life, even if it meant risking my sanity, just to prove to myself that I could do this.
I checked the train times before we went, screen shot all the times in case the internet stopped working or I couldn’t manage to decipher the boards at the station (Yes, I truly am that inept at travelling on my own. Sheltered life and all that), packed a rucksack full of nappies, snacks and toy trains, and set off for the big smoke. One thing I neglected to take however, was an umbrella and the rain cover for the pushchair…more on that later.
The most tricky part of train stations with a toddler or baby when on your own is tackling the pushchair to collapse it whilst keeping said toddler safe at the side of the platform and keeping a hold of all your paraphernalia. Luckily I managed to pen him in, well out of the way and collapse the buggy so we could get up over the stairs to the correct platform. Thankfully the toddler was fully compliant and held my hand whilst we navigated the stairs with a buggy under my arm, a rucksack on my back and an excited toddler holding onto my hand. Not one bugger offered help…but again, more on that later.
We wait for our train and by some miracle I get us on the right one.
Only issue is, it is 9:45am and technically still ‘rush hour’ so the train was full and nobody would give us their seat. Cue me fully expecting to be stood up for the 40 minute journey into London whilst holding a pretty heft 2.5 year old so he doesn’t fly off down the carriage. As I said above, people can be selfish wotsits…
Luckily for me, I had stationed ourselves near the refreshment trolley and, once she had moved off to sell her wares, she freed up 4 flip down seats which me and Ben commandeered 2 of.
Ben sat on his knees, nose pressed firmly against the window of the train, watching in amazement as we whooshed along the tracks. He is still obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine so this little trip was the icing on the cake for him! His enthusiasm for shouting, “Choo choo train!” every 30 seconds wasn’t shared by most of the other commuters in our carriage however. Sorry hardened city workers, we shan’t bring our happiness to your morning commute again…
We arrive at Waterloo and I manage to navigate to through the ticket barrier without too much hassle and with that, we are into the hustle and bustle of the city. I head out towards the London Eye and do battle once again with the stairs, a rucksack, a pushchair under my arm and a toddler holding my hand. Again, nobody offered to help and merely huffed because we were taking so long on the stairs.
Upon reaching the London Eye so the toddler could see it, I soon realised he didn’t give a monkey’s butt about seeing the big wheel so we quit whilst we were ahead, jumped in a black cab and the nice chap dutifully took us to our venue for the treasure hunt. Truth be told, I could have walked it from Waterloo but when you’re with a toddler, looking for somewhere and you have zero sense of direction, your safest bet is to jump in a friendly black cab.
We arrive at the venue, Roots and Shoots. It’s a community project garden in Kennington where local schools, people who don’t have access to a garden of their own, people with learning difficulties and those with disabilities can go and enjoy the outdoors and learn a thing or two about gardening. It was a wonderful place and it was bustling with people even at 10:30 in the morning. They all looked happy to be there despite it being a chilly day which was lovely to see.
We meet the lovely folks from Epson UK in a little function room and are told the rules of the treasure hunt as we scoff some mini muffins and have some juice. All very civilised and a lovely treat after the journey there.
The point of us being there was to learn a bit about the new Epson EcoTank printer that is now out and to hear about an exciting competition that you guys can all get involved in!
Epson’s new printer is called the EcoTank ET-3600 (yep, sounds like something from Star Wars and it is almost as clever to be honest!). The jist of it is, for us mere mortals, that it doesn’t use traditional ink cartridges. Instead, it uses 2 paint pods or ink bottles which can print an impressive 11,000 pages in black and colour before they will need replacing! They estimate this to be about 2 years worth of printing. See, I told you it was clever! The ET-3600 prints superbly vivid images, is WiFi enabled so you can print directly from your computer, phone or tablet and it can automatically print on both sides of the paper.
This is where I explain the competition to you all. Let’s start a…
To take part in the #paperfight competition, and to be in with a chance of winning your own Epson ET-3600 as well as some other amazing goodies, all you need to do is this…
* Have a look at the 5 different #paperfight characters to choose from and pick your favourite to print off (Majestic Lion, Sassy Fish, Chirping Bird, Epic Elephant and Cheeky Monkey)
* Print the character out and make it by following the instructions
* Make your character as unique and eye catching as you can so it really stands out (maybe set it against a colourful backdrop or take it on an outing!)
* Take a photo and submit it as an entry on the Epson Paperfight website
* Then sit back and see if you’re the lucky winner!
All entrants automatically get a 15% off voucher code as soon as they enter which can be used on the Epson Store against any EcoTank product.
Back to the action…
We set off on our treasure hunt around Roots and Shoots with some other lovely bloggers and their kids (Mumzilla, Katy Kicker, Baking Betsy, NelC3, JacintaZ3, Chocolate is not the only fruit and Whine, Whinge Wine to name but a few!) on the lookout for all 5 of the Paperfight characters.
We followed some clues we were given on a sheet so we could find the characters and to also find 5 questions which we would then need to answer once we were back in the event room. I was fully prepared for Ben to think this was a completely silly idea and have a full blown tantrum in front of everyone but, do you know what, he behaved! He actually behaved and (dare I say it) enjoyed himself! He followed instructions, he didn’t run off into the swamp like pond and he had a smile on his chops the whole way round.
Once back from our hunt, we completed the answers to the questions we found and had a go at making our own paperfight character. Ben chose a Monkey and then an Elephant. I did the Monkey for him and a lovely lady from Epson made him the Elephant because I was about as useful with a Pritt Stick and a pair of scissors as Donald Trump is with applying his fake tan. Thank you kind lady! Within 2 seconds of me showing Ben my completed Monkey, he smashed it flat with his hand and laughed…
That’s gratitude for you.
We finished up and said our thank you’s and goodbyes because I needed to get back in time for the afternoon school run. We were over the moon to receive some gift vouchers from Epson for our trouble and I will most certainly be using these to help purchase Christmas presents over the next few weeks. It was a lovely surprise and we can’t thank the guys at Epson enough for their hospitality and kindness.
As we left, it began to pour with rain.
Oh, the joy!
Luckily the lovely Epson ladies had just given us all new brolleys to use but sadly, pushing a buggy with a heavy toddler in it along a bumpy path in central London is hard enough without having to do it with a brolley in one hand and your iPhone with google maps on it in the other. After 30 paces, I gave up and put the umbrella down and picked up the pace. Sadly, after walking for 6 minutes, my Googlemaps decided to inform me I had been walking the wrong way in the piddling rain.
There are no cabs anywhere around here so I about turn and walk whilst trying not to swear under my breath. Poor Ben is getting soaked (he had a coat on but his little legs were a bit damp to say the least) and I had no idea where I was going. By some miracle, after googlemaps taking us through some dark and dingy underpass covered in spooky halloween street art (very impressive, but not when you’re on your own, potentially lost with a soaking wet toddler) we arrived back in a familiar spot by the London Eye. Hurrah! We had made it! After one last trudge up the stairs to Waterloo, we were almost home and dry.
I found our train back home no problem, jumped on it and expected to get a seat no problem seen as it was only 1:30pm on a Friday.
There were no seats, apart from one next to a business man. I pulled up my Bridget Jones pants once again and went and sat there with Ben on my lap, both of us soaked and me in a flustered mess after our epic stomp across London back from the treasure hunt venue. He did not look very impressed that he had been ‘chosen’ by us as seat neighbours. C’est la vie, I had also paid for a seat so down I sat. Ben tried to make conversation with him but he leaned in closer to the window so I assumed that meant he didn’t want to discuss how many choo choo’s we could see nor converse with us in any way, shape or form. Shame, I never got a chance to show him my origami Monkey…
I think it is pretty safe to say I am still not a very good city explorer on my own and I certainly wouldn’t pass The Knowledge and get a job as a black cab driver anytime soon…
Thanks again to Epson for inviting us to join in their Paperfight treasure hunt.
Be sure to have a go yourselves and enter the competition for your chance to win!