Muddy Somerset half term survival kit

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School’s out at the end of Friday and then it’s half term (gulp) but never fear, your trusty Muddy Somerset Half Term Survival Guide will help keep you going (that and a large G&T)…

Friday 27 May

Get out the popcorn: Disney‘s Alice through the Looking Glass starring Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway and all, and Top Cat Begins with Jason Harris, are both released today. For cinemas and times, see: Alice and Top Cat.

Film_1141-720x383Prefer live theatre? Stig of the Dump‘s on at the egg in Bath today until Sunday 29 May.

Saturday 28 May

Pre-teen klaxon alert: the Pop Factor UK tour comes to Taunton’s Brewhouse. A professional cast sing and dance their way through songs by the likes of Taylor Swift,  Justin Bieber, Little Mix and Fleur East. There are dance competitions with prizes, too.

popfactor-1-700x460Younger ones might like to shake hands with Paddington Bear at Minehead railway station courtesy of the West Somerset Railway and ride on a steam train or vintage bus. Kids of all ages can paint wooden decorations at Barrington Court; there are various wildlife-focused activities the first part of the week too. Those who dare, can look a shark in the face during Shark Week at the Bristol Aquarium.

It’s your last chance to see Horrible Histories’ Groovy Greeks and Incredible Invaders at the Birstol Hippodrome.

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Sunday 29 May

Did you know there was a stone amphitheatre in Frome? (I didn’t). Bring a cushion to  to watch the touring company Illyria’s version of Roald Dahl’s Danny Champion of the World, courtesy of the Merlin Theatre.  The Muddies and I’ve seen other Illyria productions and they’ve been brilliant.

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How about trying your hand at whittling an animal (or whatever) over at Tyntesfield in Wraxall. There are family woodworking sessions under the guidance of the interestingly named North Somerset Bodgers. Booking essential on 0844 2491895.

Ever tried geocaching?  This is a treasure hunt using GPS via a geocache app to discover ‘caches’ (often a log book, pen and various tiny objects) hidden by previous geocachers. I’ve tried it with the Muddies and it’s addictive. The Somerset Wildlife Trust are geocaching at the Black Rock nature reserve in Cheddar on Sunday.  Download a geocache app beforehand or borrow one of their GPS for a £5 deposit. Book on 01823 652400.

The North Somerset Birds of Prey Centre in Congresbury is only open a few days a year but over this half term it’s open today (and Thursday, see below) for flying displays, talks or bird handling.

From today until Tues 31 May, there’s archery and pistol shooting up at Dunster Castle.

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Monday 30 May

It’s the annual Packhorse Fair in Bruton: kids may like to take part in the duck race, learn some circus skills or a new crafts or show off the family pooch in the dog show.

The Very Magic Flute, at the egg theatre in Bath on Monday and Tuesday, is loosely based on the famous opera and uses puppets to tell the comic story of a lost Prince, a kidnapped Princess, the mysterious Queen of the Night – and a magic flute, of course – to children aged 3 years+.

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Tractor Ted is over at the East Somerset Railway in Shepton Mallet, along with digger rides, steam train rides, animals, face painting – the whole caboodle.

It’s a week of creepy crawlies over at the Bishop’s Palace in Wells: you can go on a minibeast, not a bear, hunt in the Community Garden on Monday, make spinning spiders and dangle dragonflies on Friday and follow trails around the gardens to discover the spineless little blighters every day of the week.

Scoot over to Haynes Motor Museum for their regular family discovery trail week plus the new motorcycle exhibition.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles come Out of the Shadows and into a cinema near you today.

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Tuesday 31 May

Wannabe knights in need of jousting practice should head up to Dunster Castle and Learn to be a Knight – you must pre-book on 01643 821314.

Fast forward a few hundred years to WWI and over to the  Fleet Air Arm Museum where you can make a scrap model of a WWI spy plane (the Short 184 seaplane if you like this kind of detail), discover the story behind it and the tale of heroic pilot who was accused of being a spy. Workshops take place all week.

Get your skates on at Frome’s roller disco every Tuesday and Wednesday at the Cheese & Grain (4pm-5pm under 14s; 6pm-7pm over 14s). Arrive early to hire skates as there’s limited availability.

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Make a stamp and print a bag at Hestercombe House; there’s a wild flower trail through the beautiful gardens, too. Booking for the workshops is advisable on 01823 413923. Other events over half term include storytelling and clay animal making.

I took the Muddies to see Jungle Book when it first came out and we all enjoyed it. Drawing on the Kipling stories with some nods to the Disney musical (it’s got some of the songs), it’s old fashioned story-telling (think the Incredible Journey) combined with CGI and some real jump scares. It’s on at The Brewhouse in Taunton today and tomorrow.

Over at Tyntesfield, a brand new outdoor woodland play area, with a nautical theme, is opening for the first time today.

Tyntesfield Woodland play 2 (c)National Trust - Peter Hall

Wednesday 1 June

Keep going, you’re half way through….

It’s Wild Wednesday at Fyne Court  near Bridgwater – just drop in to play bug bingo or make some mucky art.

The four-day Royal Bath and West Show at Shepton Mallet has some attractions for kids: as well as seeing all the animals (there are 1,000 horses alone), there’s an ‘imagineering fair’ dedicated to technological and engineering activities and a traditional fairground.

The Curious Adventures of Pinocchio is on at the egg in Bath from today until Sunday 5 June.

Thursday 2 June

Say hello to a 7-foot long python, a boa constrictor, bearded dragons, crocodile skinks (they’re lizards – had to look that up), chameleons and even a scorpion if you dare (I don’t), at the North Somerset Birds of Prey Centre in Congresbury. There’s a fly past by some of the raptors (aka B of P), too.

chameleon-384957_1280Dr Dolittle is talking to the animals – Gub-Gub the pig, Chee-Chee the chimp, Jip the dog and the beautiful Polynesia the parrot – in an amateur production at The Playhouse in Weston-super-Mare from Thursday to Saturday.

Friday 3 June

Take a torch and a blanket and head up to Prior Park Landscape Gardens in Bath for Kilter’s production of The Illuminating Times of the Darkling Society. The show’s been inspired by William and Caroline Herschel, Bath’s 18th century immigrant astronomers and it’s got a pedal organ, moth-lures, cycle-generators and bat detectors. Friday 3, Saturday 4, Friday 10 and Saturday 11 – all shows at 9pm. Book through the egg; suitable for ages 3+.Kilter-Poster-e1460644552859-480x320

Saturday 4 June

Today you can learn how to play the noble but cut-throat game of croquet on the lawns of Lytes Cary Manor not far from Somerton – or help celebrate 100 years of the Holbourne Museum in Bath. At their family day you can decorate a giant birthday cake and making bunting and badges along to the sound of an accordion and a sizzling BBQ.

Almost there now…

Sunday 5 June

From the creators of Aliens Love Underpants comes Monstersauraus! at the Merlin Theatre in Frome. Expect mayhem and magic when young inventor Monty creates a whole world of whacky inventions but has no idea what to do with them.

monstersaurusSince 2006, over a thousand farms across the UK have opened their gates to the public as part of the UK-wide initiative Open Farm Sunday celebrating the diversity of British farming.  This Sunday, between 11am and 4pm, you can visit Hauser & Wirth’s Durslade Farm in Bruton. You can meet the animals, ride on a tractor, see spinning and knitting demos, take part in kids’ art workshops, taste the farm produce – and scoff Roth Bar & Grill BBQ. See Open Farm Sunday for other Somerset farms taking part throughout the year.

Avalon Marshes are also holding an open day, where you can see the new replica Romano British building and Saxon Long Hall, the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust’s travelling exhibition as well as take part in environmental games, trails, walks and trailer rides across the reserve.

Monday 6 June

The little darlins go back to school. Phew….

 

 

 

 

 

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Somerset