The half term Muddy Guide
Hmmm, you’ve reached an older feature - let’s get you up to date! Read our latest What's On features here.
The weather has been so awful that it’s been hard to find any enthusiasm for getting out and about. But now my friends, it’s time to take off the bed socks, switch off the TV, press pause on your Homeland box set, and take a deep breath. It’s. Half. Term.
So I’ve picked a real mix of activities below, ones that caught my eye or I think are a bit different. I’ll be adding to it as I come across more so keep referring back to it throughout next week.
Those of you without kids who don’t give a damn about ‘half-term’- and why should you?! – or any parent who craves some adult time and space (like, everyone) the normal Muddy Guide will be out tomorrow (Saturday).
Cliveden & Basildon Park, 50 things to do…, 20 Feb
I love this idea about 5o Things to do before you’re 11 and 3/4 that the NT came up with last year. Great idea then, to put it into action over half-term. These are drop in sessions, and parents must be present, but with everything from rolling down a hill (perfect for both Cliveden and Basildon Park) and climbing trees to having a snail race, the kids will love it.
The Story Museum, Family Printing Workshop, Sat 23 Feb
The Bodleian libraries antique presses, some dating from 1669, have found their way out of the vaults and into the light of Oxford’s The Story Museum. This family workshop allows kids the amazing experience of printing by hand on these presses, and the children can make their own keepsake to take home. Suitable for 8+.
2-4pm, www.thestorymuseum.org.uk. £8 per person.
Whipsnade Zoo, new indoor play centre
I absolutely love Whipsnade but it can be bitter on a chill day – so the Hullabazoo (geddit?) new indoor play centre is a great addition to the zoo for when your kids can no longer feel their fingers. This half term’s animal draw is Fat and Fur, focusing on cold weather animals and how they keep warm. But there’s also a new Mongolian yurt situated in Whipsnade’s Passage Through Asia drive-through, where you can stop off between 12.15pm and 2.15pm daily to hear stories about animals you’ve just seen from the plains of Asia.
Kew Gardens, Orchid Festival, until 3 March
Google the photos from this exotic flower festival and you’ll see how stunning it is. Garlands of colour (and warmth!) archways and towering pillars of floral displays and a central water feature make this yet another draw to Kew, which also boasts David Nash sculpures (until 14 April) a tree top walkway and a great children’s play area. Best of all, kids 16 and under go free.
£14.50 adults. www.kew.org
Beale Park, Junior Keeper Sessions, 11-22 Feb
Beale Park is running a number of Junior Keeper Experience sessions, giving youngsters (10-17 years) the chance to meet and care for the animals. Each two hour session will take place in the Park’s popular Pets’ Corner, enabling the children to work with animal favourites, though please be aware that parents have to hang around in case of marauding guinea pigs or nippy goats! If you also have younger kids, between 19-21 Feb they can build your their own birdbox.
Junior Keeper Experience sessions, £30 per child.
Horsewyse horse-riding days, Long Crendon, through half term
Interest in Horsewyse, based in Long Crendon (Bucks), has grown massively in the last few months, as parents have connected with the idea of their children really learning about horses rather than being led around a pretty stables for half an hour. There are one-day courses through half-term but they’re small classes so I’d call quickly. From personal experience I can tell you they’re brilliant. Book.
Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom Live, Milton Keynes Theatre, 19-20 Feb
What’s half-term without a TV cartoon come to life? Last year it was Peppa, this time it’s Ben & Holly coming to Milton Keynes with their wands and pointy ears. Your children will be entranced, leaving you to ponder the important things in life. Like how the hell to find your way back out of MK’s grid system.
Tickets £12.50-£16.50. Milton Keynes Theatre. Book here
Make Wonka hats, Roald Dahl museum, Great Missenden 19 Feb
Praise be for the Roald Dahl Museum and its crafty days. Your kids can make Wonka Hats for an hour while you can look on benignly. Because 1) mess isn’t yours 2) there’s a cafe full of cake on hand 3) your kids come out with something they’re proud of and 4) you’ll hopefully manage to pop down the road to Vintage Rose and Amelie for a quick sneak at the clothes. It’s as good as it gets!
£2.50 plus museum entry. For 8+.
Imagine Children’s Festival, until 24 February
I’m totally hearting 2013’s Imagine Children’s Festival and have a bit of London envy every time it happens. There are more highlights to than is possible to mention (except you MUST go to the Dinosaur Petting Zoo if you have kids 6+) but literature, music, dance and art are all represented at the highest level. See the whole schedule here. *sigh*