The Easter Muddy Guide
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So here we are, on the edge of the abyss. If you have children, steel yourself with a large G&T and the knowledge that I’ve researched all the hard stuff for you.
If you don’t have kids, now is your time to laugh with abandon and amble off to the next week’s entertainment (grrrr).
The Muddy Guide, as ever, is a mix of kid-friendly and kid-free activities. Whichever side of the pendulum you’re swinging these holidays, have a great Easter week.
Moshi Monsters Longleat Adventure Park, 27 Mar-9 April
The first of two mentions for Longleat today which is bringing out the big guns for Easter. Kids can meet the Moshi Monsters every day, have their picture taken with them and no doubt buy a mountain of new Moshi products too during the hols. There’s also a MM Mash-up Code Breakers Trading Card Swap between the 29-31 March. Apparently there are also quite a lot of animals at this park. Just saying.
Longleat, Warminster, Wiltshire, BA12 7NW. www.longleat.co.uk/moshimonsters
Chilterns Easter Festival of Food & Drink, Great Missenden, 29 Mar – 1 April
Part of the expanding Love Food empire, this festival will suit everyone, with adult-only workshops, freekids cookery classes, pottery workshops, easter egg hunts, even a BBQ masterclass for the burnt-meat expert of the house (hello Mr Muddy). Great Missenden also happens to be bang in the Chilterns hills so if you’re coming from slightly further afield you can combine your visit with some beautiful countryside.
Buryfields, Great Missenden, Bucks, HP16 9AE. www.lovefoodfestivals.co.uk
Rapunzel, Oxford Playhouse, central Oxford, 5-6 April
I think this looks great, for those of you who are into dance. It’s a new adaptation of the classic Grimm fairytale Rapunzel by a ridiculously talented team. It’s written by Children’s Laureate Carol Ann Duffy (of whom I’m a really big fan) and choreographed by the award-winning Liv Lorent. Original music comes courtesey of Murray Gold (Doctor Who) and costumes by Emmy Award-winning designer Michele Clapton (Game of Thrones).
It’s billed at a family show for 7+ though the trailer does look quite dark. If your 7 year old is a bit shy or nervous it might not be the right show but I think, with or without kids, this looks like a piece of creative gold not to be missed.
Indie Easter Trail, Jericho, Oxford, until 14 April.
Exclusive Roots, the fab Fairtrade gift shop I featured on Muddy in January (see feature here) is spearheading the ‘Indie Easter Trail’ in North Oxford, one of 14 independent stores in a national initiative hoping to encourage local families and visitors to discover the area and its retailers.
The trail is a way to entertain the children in the school holidays and have a mooch around the shops at the same time – genius! Just collect a map from any of the participating retailers visit at least 8 of the shops on the trail and collect your eggs (little stickers) on your map. When you’ve collected enough eggs redeem your map at Exclusive Roots where your little darlings will receive a bag of Plush Fairtrade mini eggs and a certificate of completion!
For a full list of shops taking part and further info via Facebook, click here.
Easter activities at Roald Dahl Museum, Great Missenden, 29-31 March
There’s no shortage of places offering egg hunts etc, but if you’re looking for something a bit more crafty with subliminal literary benefits for your kids, the Roald Dahl museum is probably just the ticketato. There are various events over the three days, but my favourite is the egg-painting portraiture of favourite Roald Dahl characters. And don’t worry, your kids can still get their choccy fix in the Cafe Twit afterwards.
81-83 High St Great Missenden, United Kingdom HP16 0AL. Tel: 01494 892192. www.roalddahlmuseum.org.
Try a new country park
It’s easy to get into a rut of going to your nearest park, and the weather has been so poor that there’s not been much incentive to get outside. But there are loads of lovely country areas to try if the weather permits. I’d particularly recommend the gorgeous Black Park (Iver Heath), Cuttersloe & Sunnymead (North Oxford, the miniature train ride opens again on 31 Mar) Bury Knowle Park (Headington), Abingdon Lock (park, play area, canal walk, Lock), Denham Country Park, Stowe Landscape Gardens and Blenheim Palace (Woodstock, entry fee) – all fantastic outdoor spaces, some with biking, most with cafes onsite or nearby, and with great facilities for kids. Any brilliant ones you think I’ve missed off, write a comment below (I won’t bite I promise!). You’ll be helping out
Dora the Explorer, Wycombe Swan, 31 March
We’ve all been there, seen the tantrum, bought the chup-a-chup. A perfect Sunday interlude for your little ones while they brush up on their GCSE Spanish with Dora’s abuella.
One Direction pop-up store opening, 28 Mar – 28 April
My 5 year old daughter is 1D mad and would gladly spend all day in this pop-up hell hole, so it’s worth inclusion, just so you know whether to go or give it a wide berth. It features a collection of the group’s memorabilia, and will no doubt feature many and various ways to fleece you of your money while your children debate the important things in life – Harry or Louis?
Thomas the Tank Engine, Buckinghamshire Railway Centre, Quainton, 29 Mar – 1 April
The picturesque village of Quainton in North Bucks is the venue for a Thomas Fest. My first child was a total Thomas nut and was in utter heaven amongst the steam engines and slightly spooky Fat Controller statues, singing along to the Thomas tunes that blasted out over tannoys. Several good pubs in the vicinity for lunch including The Black Boy in Oving and The Long Dog in Waddesdon.
Buckinghamshire Railway Centre, Quainton Road Station, Quainton, Aylesbury HP22 4BY. www.bucksrailcentre.org/thomas_2013.php
Steve Bagshall’s Deadly 60, Longleat, 31 March – 1 April
Oxfordshire Craft Guild Selling Exhibition, SOTA, Witney, 29 Mar – 15 April
The much-respected OCG displays exclusively for two weeks in the new SOTA gallery in Witney, exhibiting a selection of ceramics, glass, silver, wood, jewellery, textiles etc. Plus you’re perfectly placed to a trip to Woodstock, Burford or Charlbury if you want to make a day of it.
Admission free. Open Daily 9:30 – 4:30 Sundays 10 – 2pm. SOTA Gallery, 9 Langdale Court, Witney. Oxfordshire OX28 6FG. www.sotagallery.co.uk
Highclere Castle opens to the public, 30 March
Downtown Abbey has thrust Highclere Castle into superstar status and I’m as curious as everyone else to have a nose around. It opens from its winter slumber this Saturday and like the National Trust, English Heritage and every other stately home in the country is having an Easter egg hunt.( Faberge, presumably). There’s also an Easter bonnet parade, bouncy castle, falcon birdy display, bungee trampoline, a Ferrari and vintage car display, face paints, tattoos and rides. Dear God, what would Carson say?
Sick of your kids shooting em up on computer games? Try them on this RSC workshop – a creative way to get stuck into blood, guts and gore. Ex-RSC Head of Wigs and Make up Brenda Leedham will show how to create bruises, cuts and scars in this demonstration needing willing participants. Suitable for all ages. There’s quite a bit of fun stuff on over Easter at the RSC actually, so worth checking out the full events diary.
Tuesday 2 and Friday 5 April, 11.30am – 12.30pm£3 Adults, £2 Children.
Thorpe Park Mash-up, Thorpe Park, 4 – 8 April
New rooms opened at Warwick Castle, Warwick, ongoing
Last month four new rooms were introduced to visitors to the castle, including a recently unearthed bear pit and a room reputedly haunted by the ghost of Sir Fulke Greville (on the strict orders of the Warwick Castle PR team no doubt). I love a good castle and Warwick is among the best – exceptionally kid-friendly, loads going on, and until 14 April the added attraction of the first interactive Horrible Histories Foul Fayre.