Inside or out at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich

Well you don’t need me to tell you that the weather of late has been changeable, to say the least. A visit to the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich is a great place to take your little ones this summer, rain or shine.

We visited Abstraction and The Art of John Golding exhibition on the mezzanine. Golding’s bold and striking paintings make quite an impact in this space and are really accessible.

A walk through the main collection is always great to revisit. Works date as far back as prehistoric times right up until the present day, and artefacts and artwork come from across the globe. My daughter seemed to take a liking to the large Giacometti sculpture in the centre of this gallery space.

If you’re not sure where to start, then definitely grab one of the free Activity Booklets and work through this with the kids. The booklets focus on an object of the month, such as the Chief’s Fly Whisk, Hunter’s Hat and Dance Mask. There is also a drawing worksheet to take inspiration from. Both the main collection and the John Golding exhibition are free.

When it wasn’t raining it seemed like a great opportunity to get outside to enjoy the sunshine and the sculptures located around the grounds of the University. This isn’t something we normally do on a regular visit, but there are three Henry Moore sculptures and one by Ian Tyson within close proximity of the gallery that are well worth checking out.

All in all, my seven month old baby and I spent a few hours here. You can easily spend a lot more time here with toddlers and children. There is a car park opposite the gallery and if you ask for permit at the reception, parking is then free. Oh, and the Modern Life cafe is great too!

So whether it’s inside the Sainsbury Centre, or out, we definitely recommend a visit this summer.

Oddly at Norwich Puppet Theatre this summer

This Saturday sees the start of Norwich Puppet Theatre’s summer show, ‘Oddly’. A fun, whimsical tale based on the much-loved children’s book written by local author Joyce Dunbar. We caught up with Joy Haynes, Norwich Puppet Theatre’s Director and also Director of the show, to find out more.
1. Joyce is such a well loved local author. How did the connection with Joyce’s book, ‘Oddly’ come about?
“With a rich local writing community in Norwich we were interested in adapting a contemporary children’s story rather than more traditional tales we usually work with. Joyce Dunbar was our first choice as her stories are wonderfully inventive. We set up a meeting to talk about adapting one of her books and Joyce was incredibly open, excited and encouraging about the project.”
“We picked Joyce’s book ‘Oddly’ because it was a quirky tale with lots of room to explore different visual aspects. The story is really beautiful and the short poetic text gave us lots of place to go visually.”
2. The story looks very much at people’s hopes, dream and wishes. What do you hope, dream and wish that children and adults take away from the show?
“The show is a fun and warm story about the value of friendship, so we hope the audience enjoy watching it together with their own friends and families and come away feeling happy and entertained.”
3. Visually, what can people expect from the show?
“The show is like an extraordinary pop up book which comes to life. The inventive design, by Gretchen Maynard-Hayn, has lots of visual surprises with a mix of tricks, puppets, music and masks.”
4. Norwich Puppet Theatre hosts such a fantastic programme for children. What other performances or workshops are on offer this summer?
“There are lots of chances to get hands on making puppets. We have a range of ‘Children’s Puppet Making Workshops’ for ages 5-11 years throughout the summer holidays with different themes including Robots, Amazing Animals and Dinosaurs. There is the ‘One Day Puppet Challenge’ on Thursday 20 August where participants can create a table top theatre and cast of characters to take home for their own shows. ‘MagoMation’ is back for ages 10-16 years on Friday 21 and Saturday 22 August, where participants can write, film, and create a soundtrack for their own animation. Plus on the 29 August, Garlic Theatre are back with their show ‘There’s a Monster in My Piano’.”
‘Oddly’ is showing at Norwich Puppet Theatre from  Saturday 25 July to Wednesday 5 August 2015.

Price: £8.00 – £28.00 Running time: 2.30-3.20pmAges: 3+Baby friendly showings also available.

For more details about the show, including how to book tickets, please go to the Norwich Puppet Theatre website or call them on 01603 629921.

FREE Summer Family Art Events in Norfolk

The School holidays are upon us and whilst parents are frantically searching for ways to keep their little ones entertained for the next six weeks, we thought you might find this programme of free, yes free arts events pretty darn useful!

We’ve collated a calendar of free summer arts events in a handy printable document, with further details on each activity below. Now the dull bit. Please do check the event with the organiser before going along, as we cannot accept responsibility for errors.

Have a great summer parents and little ones!


Various dates and locations across Norwich. See calendar at the link above for more details.

A whole host of free activities to keep your little ones entertained, including Punch & Judy, music making, face painting and giant games.

Norwich City Council: 0344 980 3333

Inspirational Science Theatre Company – It’s All Done with Mirrors  

Friday 31 July, 3pm at Waterloo Park

Dr Ken blends spectacular magic tricks, illusions and stunts with extraordinary science and engineering.

Norwich City Council: 0344 980 3333

Alice in Wonderland Fun Day

Saturday 1 August, 11am – 3pm at Norwich Catholic Cathedral

A free fun-filled family event taking place in the grounds of the Cathedral. With a Story Teller, Treasure Hunt, Craft Activities and Croquet on the lawn. Alice related crafts and much more!

Norwich Catholic Cathedral: 01603 624615

GoGoDragons! Family Drop-in Workshop

Sunday 2 August, 11am – 3pm at Norwich Puppet Theatre

To celebrate GoGoDragons! Norwich Puppet Theatre is hosting a free family drop-in workshop inspired by Norwich’s very own dragon Snap and the legend of his friendly rival the Pockthorpe dragon. The workshop will be outside if weather permits.

Norwich Puppet Theatre: 01603 615564

Stories for Summer – the Yarnsmith of Norwich, Patience Unazi and Tilly the Talespinner 

Every Sunday from 2 August – 30 August, 11am at Heigham Park.

Feast your ears on silly stories and riddles.

Norwich City Council: 0344 980 3333

Pendle Productions – The Dragon who Lost his Home 

Friday  7 August, 3pm at Waterloo Park

Eric the Dragon overhears plans to drive a road straight through his mountain cave. He joins forces with orphan, Mandy, in a quest to find a new home.

Norwich City Council: 0344 980 3333

Tongue Tied Theatre – The Revenge of Mr Trout!

Friday 14 August, 3pm at Waterloo Park

Mrs Trout loves playing jokes on her husband – putting a lobster in his bath, popping candy in his banana sandwich, a lizard on his pillow… But Mr Trout has had enough!

Norwich City Council: 0344 980 3333

BZents– Tales of Robin Hood 

Friday 21 August, 3pm at Waterloo Park

The legend of Robin Hood brought to life. Awe-inspiring archery, terrific tournaments and swashbuckling swordfights!

Norwich City Council: 0344 980 3333

Puppet workshops and storytelling: Children’s Day – Fairy Tales

Sunday 23 August, every 45 minutes from 10am until 3.30pm – book your place in good time at King’s Lynn Arts Centre.

To celebrate Children’s Day what’s better than storytelling and drop-in art workshops!

Make pop-up puppets and finger puppets and create your own tales of adventure! Storyteller Liam Carroll will be in the gallery with a variety of fables from Eastern Europe – ‘The Fisherman and his Wife’ and ‘The Prince and the Dragon’, as well as some versions of the old favourites, such as Cinderella and Red Riding Hood.

King’s Lynn Arts Centre: Tel: 01553 779095

Create a Stained Glass Dragon

Tuesday 25 August, 2pm – 3.30pm at Norfolk Record Offices, Norwich

Take a look at a variety of designs for stained glass windows held by the Norfolk Record Office, have a go at designing your own. Will it be George and the Dragon, Snap or your own creation?

Booking essential via telephone or website, no need to book for accompanying adults.

Norfolk Record Office: 01603 222599

Mini Museum Club

Thursday 27 August, 10.30am – 11.30am at Ancient House Museum, Thetford

Discover the wonderful world of water. Enjoy bubble painting and boat making. Find out about floating and sinking. Make a water lily to take home. Under 5s drop in session.

Ancient House, Museum of Thetford Life: 01842 752599

50p charge (ok, this one isn’t free. We thought this was great value, so had to include it!)

Garlic Theatre – George and the Dragon  

Friday 28 August, 3pm at Waterloo Park

Beware! In a cave under the castle lurks a fiery dragon waiting to devour monks, knights, sheep and… princesses! Will George be bold enough to take it on?

Norwich City Council: 0344 980 3333

Fairy Crown Workshop and Wildflower sewing

Saturday 29 August, 10am – 4pm at Thetford Garden Centre

Join the Fairyland Trust to make your own Fairy Crown from the leaves of native trees, tissue paper and seasonal wildflowers. Receive a packet of wildflower seeds and a calendar depicting Fairy celebrations and seasonal wildflowers to take home too.

Suitable for over 3 year olds.

Thetford Garden Centre: 01842 763267




Pick Your Own and Proper Pizza evening at White House Farm

On the outskirts of Norwich, White House Farm felt like a world away from the city tonight, surrounded by row upon row of fruit trees and bushes, as well as the odd chicken.

Back by popular demand, was the Proper Pizza Co and late night fruit picking. A perfect summer’s evening for dinner in the courtyard. And dessert? Your fruit pickings of course, or a White House Farm Strawberry ice cream, which looked amazing!

Ollie and Charlotte have created a superb cafe, farm shop and butcher nestled nicely among the fruit orchards. This is definitely worth a visit with your little ones this summer.


FLY Festival for the fine city

This week Fine Folk had the pleasure of finding out more about the UK’s only Festival of Literature for secondary school students, FLY.  In its third year, the fine city of Norwich plays host to the festival next week and the fact that there are only a few tickets left is telling of its popularity.

Festival Producer, Dr Antoinette Moses, from University of East Anglia tells Fine Folk that, “The festival is a great combination of fun and education. FLY is unique in the number of workshops it offers, so that in addition to having the best UK writers of fiction for Young Adults, there is the chance to enjoy workshops in smaller groups with outstanding teachers of literature and creative writing.”

Authors attending this year’s festival include Michelle Magorian, the bestselling author of Goodnight Mister Tom, Kevin Brooks, cult author of The Bunker Diary and crime writer, Alan Gibbons.

This year FLY presents ‘FLY in the City’, a new addition to the festival. FLY is leaving the University campus for two days and heading to the Castle Museum for the Castle of Ideas – where bestselling authors will present readings and creative writing and literature workshops based on collections at the Castle. The Word Factory will take over Norwich Millennium Library. Budding writers can take part in all kinds of activities and workshops, from writing the fastest story in the East to learning how to create comics.

FLY is clearly a big hit with young people in Norfolk, as all tickets are sold out, with the exception of Thursday’s readings and talks. Dr Moses went on to say, “There is still time to grab a ticket to hear Anthony McGowan, Piers Torday, Steve Cole and Tim Clare – four really outstanding writers. And if you can’t make it next week, check out the FLY blog, which has some great young writers on it.”

FLY started in 2013 and is going from strength to strength. Dr Moses told us “We now have the Inspiring Reading Conference on alternate years, so the next one is 2016. And we are already planning a bumper Festival for next year, so make sure you check out our website.”

For more information about FLY, check out festival programme and blog.



Norwich Lanes Summer Fayre

Our great British weather certainly played its part on Sunday for the eleventh Norwich Lanes Summer Fayre. We braved the showers and started off at St Benedict’s Street. Norwich’s tremendously talented creatives were out in force, including illustrators Bev CoraldeanLeanda Jaine Hughes and Fiona Gowen.

We were quite early to the party, so the ‘Maui Waui’ stage at St Gregory’s Green was just setting up. We sought sanctuary in the Birdcage for a hot mug of tea. The perfect stop gap, then proceeded by lunch from The Grosvenor Fish Bar – the best fish and chips in town! Our baby’s nap was perfectly timed throughout lunch.

This year saw the addition of Upper St Giles Street to the Fayre. One of my favourite streets in Norwich, it worked so well to expand the celebrations. The street party vibe was a little soggy when we arrived, but the party continued with Louis’ deli hosting a BBQ, a Pimms Garden at Carol Lake, Studio @ 91 and coffee specialists, Kofra with a pop up café. The doughnuts by Doughnut Lab were pretty hard to resist. The Chai flavour was divine! Plants, vintage clothes are some mighty fine looking ethnic rug deckchairs filled the street.

For us, Sundays are all about the family and feasting. We certainly had some fine fare and a pretty perfect day out in the Lanes. Well done Norwich Lanes, you hosted a stupendous party!

ARTIST ROOMS by Jeff Koons, Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery

A Jeff Koons exhibition in Norwich? Yes! This exhibition has been top of my list to go and visit this summer. Apart from watching a documentary on Koons sometime ago, I’m not too familiar with his work. However, the commercial style made it a good option to visit with my daughter (six months old today!).

The gallery is filled with Koons’ signature kitsch artwork. My little girl’s hands down favourite piece was Caterpillar Chains (2003). So much so, that a gallery visitor offered to take our picture next to the work! The inflatable looking caterpillar, astoundingly made from aluminium, is suspended by red chains, rather than floating in a swimming pool.

Another eye catching piece was Easyfun (1999), comprising of brightly coloured mirrors in the shape of animal heads. The scale, height and reflection make them fun and playful to the audience. I appreciate that there is far more to the art work than just fun and playful, exploring feelings of desire connected to luxury wares, however, this is engaging and captivating for children and young people to interact with.

Winter Bears (1988) dominates one of the rooms. Their large scale, highly polished and gaudy characters present a childlike sentimentality.

Exploring contemporary art with a six month old does come with its challenges. Unfortunately, half an hour was my daughter’s limit, so viewing time at this exhibition was restricted.

This exhibition is on until 6 September 2015. If you’d like to find out more about this exhibition, go to Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery website for more details.