A Mammoth Day Out in West Runton

Hundreds of people gathered on West Runton beach today to watch the life sized articulated model of ‘Hugh Mungus’, based on the West Runton mammoth, whose fossilized bones were discovered on the beach in 1990.

Creator of the model, Suzie Lay, was delighted to bring ‘Hugh Mungus’ back to his spiritual home. Suzie was joined by the project’s engineer, Jeremy Moore, to operate the four metre high mammoth.

Onlookers followed the structure down the beach, as it made the journey toward the mammoth’s final resting place. If you didn’t manage to see the performance today, there is a final chance to see him this year at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse on Sunday 13 September 2015.

Photographs supplied by Erin Patel Photography.

The home straight of the summer holidays

It’s the last full week of the Summer holidays and we thought that parents might like a few ideas to see you all through until your little ones go back to School. Not to mention the unpredictable weather! I still feel like a fair weather Mum, and very reluctantly drag out the rain cover for the pushchair and wear my fetching shower proof jacket (with hood!), only when I really have to be somewhere.

Here’s our selected list of what to check out this week, mainly indoors, which we hope will keep both you and your children entertained.

Tuesday 25 August 2015, 10.30am: Toddler Time at Cinema City, Norwich for preschool children. £3 each for children and free for accompanying adults.

Tuesday 25 – Thursday 27 August 2015, 10am – 5pm: Uniquely Brancaster (local food, art, crafts, antiques and much more) at Brancaster Staithe Village Hall

Wednesday 26 August 2015, 11am – 2pm: Playdays at Heigham Park, Norwich. Free

Thursday 27 August 2015. 10.30am – 11.30am: Mini Museum Club (under 5s) at Ancient House Museum, Thetford. 50p each.

Thursday 27 August – Saturday 12 September 2015: Patterns of Play – an exhibition of football art, design and culture at Moosey Art Gallery, Norwich. Free

Friday 28 August 2015, 3pm: George and the Dragon (Outdoor Theatre by Garlic Theatre) at Waterloo Park, Norwich. Free

Saturday 29 August 2015, 10am – 4pm Fairy Crown Workshop and Wildflower sewing with the Fairyland Trust at Thetford Garden Centre. Free

Saturday 29 August 2015, 2.30pm: There’s a Monster in my Piano, Norwich Puppet Theatre. £8 per ticket. Family tickets £28

Sunday 30 August 2015, 1pm – 4pm: A Mammoth Adventure at West Runton Beach. Free

Sunday 30 August 2015, 10am – 4pm: River Waveney Sculpture Trail Family Fun Day £2 per child

Showing until 6 September 2015: ARTIST ROOMS, by Jeff Koons at Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery. See our write up on this exhibition.

Mammoth Strolls Back to Beach

ElephantSunday 30 August 2015, 1- 4pm

West Runton Beach

Free Event

Following his first tentative footsteps along West Runton Beach, last year, during an event which attracted over 700 people, the life-size articulated model of the West Runton Elephant will take a stroll again this month on Sunday August 30th.

The model built by Norfolk Aero Engineer, Jeremy Moore was the result of the vision that Suzie Lay had eight years ago following a visit to Gressenhall Museum of Norfolk Life where she was invited to take a tour of the Mammoth’s remains.

The sub-fossil bones of the elephant (referred to as an elephant because he didn’t have the woolly coat of more recent mammoths) were excavated by Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service from a layer of Cromer Forest Bed in the cliffs at West Runton between 1991 and 1995. Eighty-five per cent of the elephant’s bones were recovered and at four metres to his shoulder, experts soon realised that they were in the presence of one of the largest mammoths ever to have roamed the earth.

Apparently the elephant had suffered an injury early in life which caused him to have a limp. It is believed that at the age of 42, he slipped in the mud of a river bed and due to his injury, he couldn’t haul himself up. He died there.

The muddy riverbed was the ideal environment for the process of fossilisation to begin.

Enthralled and moved by the story of the West Runton Elephant, Suzie left the museum that day, determined to see him walk again.

Fireman, Jeremy Moore built the mammoth model using aeroplane plywood, Pine and laminated Birch in a barn at his home in Martham over the course of about four months.

Since his first outing last year, the elephant has walked at the Welborne Arts Festival and Great Yarmouth Arts Carnival Procession. He has also made cameo appearances on static display outside Cromer Museum and at the Martham Carnival.

Suzie is now looking for fitting venues to display the fully assembled model for between 6 months to a year at a time.

The elephant’s final walk this year will be at Gressenhall Museum on 13 September, where for Suzie, her mammoth adventure first began.

“I think of West Runton as the elephant’s spiritual home and Gressenhall as his resting place because at the moment, that is where his bones are stored.” She continues.

Last year, following the huge interest and affection that the model mammoth sparked, Suzie created a comic book about the elephant which tells his story to children. She has named the elephant in the comical story, Hugh Mungus and introduced other species of the time including a shrew called Shrewsbury Fines and a Hyena named Hank Hammerton-Hatchett. Copies of the Comic can be bought for £2 from the West Runton Beach Café.

The second ‘Mammoth Adventure’ and the elephant’s penultimate walk this year, will take place on West Runton Beach on Sunday August 30th between 1 – 4pm. ‘Mammoth’ refreshments will be on sale at the Beach Café and there will also be the chance to meet experts and enthusiasts and handle fossils.

Text and image supplied by Suzie Lay. 

An Art Picnic at the Whitworth Gallery, Manchester



Fine Folk headed up North this week and on our travels we spent the day at the wonderful Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester. Since our last visit it has undergone quite a transformation with a magnificent extension to the original building, which really makes the most of the gallery being in a park.

By chance we happened to be visiting whilst a free family activities was taking place. An Art Picnic, even on an incredibly rainy day was made possible indoors in the New Acquisitions gallery. Blankets were laid out and picnic baskets laden with art materials, as families made creations such as crowns, necklaces and wands. Our seven month old had a great time exploring all sorts of textures – corrugated cardboard, tissue paper and paper straws.

A visit around the Contemporary Chinese Art exhibition proved a hit with all of the family. A personal favourite was Ai Weiwei’s Still Life Stone Age axe heads.

The cafe set among the trees and the quality of the food were both mighty fine. To top off our visit, the gallery also offer emergency baby supplies of wipes and nappies. Reassuring for any family day out!

If you happen to be visiting Manchester with the family this summer, the Whitworth Gallery is a must. Their family programme takes place each day, packed with Art Picnics, Art/Music Baby, Outdoor Art Club and Artist Sundays.


A trip to Sheringham Park

We’ve got to admit, it was only this year that we discovered Sheringham Park. Shocking, I know, for such a gem in North Norfolk!

The Bower is an ideal place to start your visit, or spend the day. This area includes a wildflower meadow with its very own Insect Hotel. There is a space to create Environmental Art, which proved popular with children visiting. Also, a wildlife pond and until 5 September the International Garden Photographer of the Year outdoor exhibition.

The observation towers give a completely different perspective to the park. There are incredible views from up there, so well worth the steps!

We stuck to the Repton route tree trail, which was far enough whilst walking with a baby in her carrier. On a previous visit we ventured anti-clockwise on the Repton route and visited the Temple. This provides a wonderful viewpoint of the park and overlooks the coast en route.

If you’re a National Trust member, then parking is free. If not, then parking is five pound and entry is free! This is unbelievable value for a such a wonderful day out with the family.

We had a delightful day out and for such value, it really is worth a trip this summer holiday.

Stories for Summer at Heigham Park, Norwich

This morning we visited Heigham Park in Norwich to listen to Stories for Summer, organised by Norwich City Council. At first things seemed a little quiet, but as the Yarnsmith of Norwich banged his drum, children left the play area and made their way to the sheepskin rugs under the trees. This was the first event of the series during this summer, with over 60 people captivated by the riddles and rhymes.

It was certainly a two way affair between the Yarnsmith and the audience. For around one hour the audience assisted with sound effects to go along with the tales. The Yarnsmith also regularly asked the children questions within the stories, which was met with great enthusiasm and imagination. ‘What would Molly have as part of her Wedding meal?’ answers included cupcakes, cheese and gravy!

Heigham Park is a great space for the family with the popular play area and now Stories for Summer, free every Sunday at 11am during the school holidays.