A visit to the ice rink has become something of a pre-Christmas tradition for my family and it was great to visit Whitehall Garden Centre over the half term to keep that tradition alive. Having arrived 15 minutes early, as recommended, to swap our shoes for skates, we were soon on the ice and whizzing around.

Well, I say whizzing – while my wife and three children (aged 8-12) did the whizzing, skating, pirouetting and speeding, my technique was more gentle edging, tempered by a determination not to trip over one of the younger skaters.

Taking a quick glimpse around the rink, it was clear that is was being used by an equal number of confident and less confident skaters, some effortlessly gliding along, others clinging to the edge as they learned the basics, or holding on to the giant plastic penguins and bananas supplied (you need to book these ahead) to help younger skaters.

Across the rink, however, everyone seemed to be having a great time, me included. As the 45 minute session developed, so the technique of us lesser skaters improved, perhaps never to be future Torvill and Dean, but improving no less. Throughout a team of friendly and patient helpers on skates were at hand to help where needed, including frequently helping up skaters enjoying another spill, as well as offering advice on technique when requested.

By the time our 45 minute session had come to an end, we had all improved and had a great time – perfectly ready, in fact, for a hot chocolate and piece of cake in the rink’s own cafe area. The idea was to shoot off home afterwards, but with an amazing Christmas shopping village also on hand at Whitehall Garden Centre, the temptation was too strong to resist. Perhaps they might have a ‘Torvill and Dean’s Beginners’ Guide to Ice Skating’ DVD on offer. Well, you never know…

The Whitehall Garden Centre Christmas Ice Skating Experience runs until 6 January 2019. Prices are from £7.99 per person. Book online by clicking here.