Museums at Night extravaganza North Norfolk Stories Festival is back this week

People will have the chance to enjoy 24 free events for all ages at museums, libraries, heritage and wildlife sites across North Norfolk during the North Norfolk Stories Festival this week.

The Festival runs from Thursday 12 to Saturday 14 May and is part of Museums at Night, the national annual after-hours festival of arts, culture and heritage. Come across pirates, ghosts, Einstein, 1940s fashion, 1950s music and much more as venues throw open their doors and invite visitors to enjoy performances, family activities, exhibitions, music and talks.

Many events are taking place at twilight when the venues are normally shut, creating a unique opportunity and atmosphere for visitors to explore the sites, learn something new and have fun.

Thanks to National Lottery players, the Festival gives local people and visitors the chance to explore and enjoy the area’s fascinating history, including some lesser known stories from the past. Events include:

  • Blood on the Beach: A specially commissioned 1950s murder mystery walking tour around Cromer by Making Theatre Happen. Enjoy a night of intrigue by torchlight as you solve the terrible fate of Professor Cecil Hunter, a visiting fossil hunter who has gone missing.
  • Vintage 1940s Day at the Sackhouse in Wells-next-the-Sea, with a 1940s cream tea, fashion display and workshops, vintage makeovers, swinging Lindyhop lessons and music.
  • When Einstein Came to Cromer: A family event at Cromer Library where you can try light-bending glasses, see the Van De Graaf Machine and enjoy other scientific fun in a session run by Mad Science.
  • A Wild Night at the Museum at the Museum of the Broads, Stalham, discovering Broadland’s wildlife with activities and trails for the whole family, and free rides on the steam boat Falcon.
  • Wailing Woods, a new play which dramatizes the true story of two children murdered in Norfolk’s Wayland Wood in the 16th Century, created and performed at Sheringham Little Theatre by its Drama Group.
  • Revolting North Walsham, an interactive community theatre event telling the tale of North Walsham’s quirky past in a walk around town, organised by North Walsham Library.
  • Open House at Langham Dome, an intriguing building built in 1942-3 on the edge of RAF Langham, which utilised ground-breaking technology to train anti-aircraft gunners.

Laura Crossley, the North Norfolk Stories’ project manager, said: “This is North Norfolk’s biggest ever Museums at Night programme and there is a brilliant range of free events for both local people and visitors to enjoy. It’s a great chance for people to get out and about and experience some of our fantastic local museums, libraries and venues in a different way and to see, do and learn something new.”

The North Norfolk Stories Festival is delivered by 22 partner organisations and run by Museums Norfolk, a membership organisation that supports and works on behalf of heritage organisations across the county, and is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) with £75,800 funding.

For details of events please visit www.northnorfolkstories.org, follow @museumsnorfolk on Twitter or Museums Norfolk on Facebook, email northnorfolkstories@gmail.com or call Project Manager Laura Crossley on 07791 505045.

Family art adventures in Spain

Cast aside any perceptions of 1970s style Costa del Sol and think cool and cosmopolitan Spanish city. Malaga is a vibrant place with a great museum and gallery scene. Centre Pompidou Malaga is the new 5 year ‘pop-up’ project from it’s sister gallery in Paris and we were excited to check it out. Not to mention the great new food market – Mercado Merced, port redevelopment and great looking beach. Malaga makes an ideal mini break destination.

Crawling in Museo PicassoWe started with a gallery I have visited several times, pre-children, which was the Museo Picasso Malaga. The tradition architecture and fantastic art collection makes every visit a treat. Visiting with a toddler in tow made for a more challenging experience but was still an enjoyable one overall. Without much thought we bought tickets for both the permanent and touring exhibition, by Jackson Pollock at 10 euros per adult. In hindsight, the attention span of a toddler who is determined to master walking any day and who will speed crawl with the best of them, does not allow for a leisurely meander through two exhibitions. However, the stunning quadrangle allowed for a little crawling.

Museo Picasso is a tricky space to negotiate with a buggy, as there are lots of small rooms and a large number of visitors. Our little one pleasingly liked any painting with animals featured in them, shouting her best ‘Miaow!’. Signage is minimal and I struggled to find baby changing facilities, which ended up being in the basement. There is a lift, thankfully. There appeared to be no family or children’s programme at the gallery, which was a little disappointing, as Picasso’s work would lend itself perfectly to family art workshops.

Playing the piano at MIMMA

Bea and her balloon

On the same day we visited Museo Interaectivo de la Musica (MIMMA). I had discovered this online before our trip and thought that the interactive element would be ideal for children. The admission cost was reasonable at 4 euros per adult. The museum is split into white, black and red rooms, indicating exhibition spaces and hands on interactive rooms. We spent most of out time in the red interactive rooms, in which our little one got to play a piano, guitar, steel pan and a Gong. Trying the Steel Pan at MIMMAMy big kid of a husband was hugely disappointed that the electric drums didn’t work, whereas Bea was simply mesmerized by the lights on the kits control panel. The rest of the museum is definitely tailored to older children and grown ups. If music is your thing, you’ll love it. Thirty minutes was as long as our little one could handle at MIMMA before getting restless, however, her mood was instantly elevated as she was handed a free balloon by the friendly gift shop attendant.

Incubado, in situ project at Centre PompidouHand held mirrors, Centre PompidouThe following day we took a walk to the port and Centre Pompidou Malaga. The striking architectural installation, Incubado, in situ project by Daniel Buren, can be seen from a distance. Learning from the Picasso museum, this time we only purchased permanent exhibition tickets, at the cost of 7 euros each. The space is quite dark and could be a little daunting for young children, but Bea found the video pieces engaging and was happy to get Young Person's Room at Centre Pompidouinvolved with the interactive exhibitions in the Self Portraits Room. The gallery has specific interactive pieces designed for families, which proved a hit with our little one at 16 months old. There is also a Young Person’s room, aimed at ages 5-12. This space is currently celebrating the life and work of Frida Kahlo. This was a great interactive, safe room where Bea could crawl around, touch screens and pick up telephones. (pretending she was calling our cat, Oscar,  rather than listening about Frida Kahlo!).

Spending 3 nights in Malaga, we did more than just scratch the surface, and I’m sure the City has further adventures to offer. With direct flights now going from Norwich we will definitely be back to check out places such as Museo Carmen Thyseen and would recommend Malaga as an exciting and unique family art destination.

Sainsbury Centre seek families to test out Suitcase Travellers trail

Suitcase travellers This Wednesday 6 April the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich is calling out for families to help them evaluate their new suitcase activity, ‘Suitcase Travellers’. You will take a journey through the galleries with one of the suitcases, searching for objects and clues along your trail, whilst taking in the wonderful collection.

The Sainsbury Centre said ‘We are hoping for families to come to the gallery this Wednesday, and we will give more information in a follow up email. All suitcase test-drivers will be rewarded with tea and cake!

The suitcases are designed for pre-school to pre-teen age and this is something the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts is hoping to put to the test. Free, limited parking is available opposite the Sainsbury Centre, or £1 an hour in the main car park after 10am. Visit from 10am – 12noon with the family and enjoy your tea and cake in the café afterwards!

Suitcase travellers1Why not check out Fine Folk’s blog post on our visit to the Sainsbury Centre from last summer to find out more about what to expect on your visit.

Fairy Fair is back!

 

Now in its 15th year, the award winning Fairyland Trust returns with the magical Fairy Fair late spring.

The Norfolk based charity with a national reputation for introducing families to flowers, wildlife and trees will run the Fairy Fair, amid the stunning grounds and ancient woodlands of Sennowe Park, over the late May Bank Holiday weekend (29th/30th May).

Tickets for the Fair, which won the Festival Kidz Gold Award for Best Day Festival in 2013 and again in 2015, go on public sale from 18th March. The event, a firm favourite with families, is once again packed with magical activities to delight children and entertain all the family such as, the Trust’s renowned workshops including: Elf Sticks, Fairy Gardens, Magic Animal Shield and Magic Wings.

The Fairy Fair which takes place this year at Sennowe Park, Guist also features a whole host of drop in activities including Fairy flower making (based upon British wildflowers), The Pixie Post , Wildlife Hospital. Bug Bling , Imp Teck and more, this year the trust is also asking the public to bring along their watering cans which they can ‘bling’ at the fair ahead of a ‘grand finale’ photo at the end of each day.

Abbie Panks from the Trust said “We’re very excited to be hosting the fair at Sennowe Park this year, historically the fair moved each year with past sites including Bayfield Hall, Mannington Hall, Narborough Hall and Sheringham Park, plus of course Holt Hall. As we turn 15 years old it seems apt to move to another of Norfolk’s beautiful venues. Sennowe Park is a fantastic location and I think those visiting the fair will really enjoy exploring the new site” she continued “The fair will once again be packed full of activities and entertainment for children and their families, all underpinned by the magic of nature”

A team of Wildflower Fairies will be on hand at the Fair to help children make their own wearable Fairy Wildflower.   It’s not just flowers. Pirates are running games and there are Secret Dens to create in the woods, you might also spot a dragon.

The event offers plenty for all the family; children can also tend cuddly British wildlife and other magical creatures In the Fairyland Wildlife Hospital, or visit the Fairy Queen and King.  The king and Queen will be residing in the woods, telling children about trees and all their magic.  Budding Fairies and Elves can take part in Elf and/or Fairy Training which covers all the important elements of how to be a proper Fairy or Elf.  Mum and Dad may enjoy live music and performances, plus quench their thirst in the Trusts own onsite pub, The Good Elf.

The event, which has been described as ‘THE children’s event of the year’ also features Sir Randolph and his Dragon, Captain Barnacle and his Pirate Pantomime, Anchors Aweigh, Stilt-walkers and Maypole Dancing, Storytelling plus, great live music from Penny Les, Swanton Movers and The Hal Wrayzers.

The Trust’s own Corncockle Café and a host of other local food outlets will be open to keep people fed, and for shopping there are craft stalls, selling hand-made and fairly-traded goods.

Tickets are on sale to general public on 16st March, www.fairylandtrust.org  with tickets priced at £10.00 and under 3’s free.

A proportion of each ticket sale goes to support the charity’s Fairy Meadow Fund (see http://www.fairylandtrust.org/fairy-meadow-fund/) which aims to create new wildflower meadows which families can visit to picnic and discover nature.

Beastly Machines at Time and Tide Museum

Crawling in the Seaside RoomAppreciating the music

It’s been a long time since I have visited the Time and Tide Museum in Great Yarmouth. For Bea, it was her first visit. In particular, I was keen to catch the Beastly Machines exhibition before it ends on 21 February 2016.

We meandered through the museum’s permanent collection with the buggy. I get a little scared by all of the wax work characters, so we didn’t hang around these rooms for too long. However, Bea was happy to wave to most of them! We stopped in the Seaside room for a while and I let Bea have a good crawl around. A particular favourite was the music on the headphones, showing her appreciation by rocking back and forth. For me, it was the 1930s original train promotion prints for Great Yarmouth – such charm and quintessentially British.

Admiring the toysWe made our way through the 1970s room and some of this collection was just the right height for a crawler. The circular windows packed full of retro toys were admired.

 

Then to Johnny White’s Beastly Machines. The first room has three of White’s sculptures in it. They were truly fascinating, quirky and eccentric. We pushed the pedals and buttons to make the sculptures come alive. We both loved the Toad on a bike.

The Owl and the Pussy-catInto the main room of the exhibition were more amazingly wonderful creatures, which gained pointing and squealing from Bea (that means she likes something!). The dogs went down really well, with Bea itching to climb the fence and get to slender dog that moves in and out of his kennel. We both loved the Owl and the Pussycat. As the head of the Owl spun around, followed by the cat’s tale, Bea enthusiastically waved at them. As well as the sculptures, there are few interactive areas for dressing up and playing with toy animals.

We spent around one hour in the museum, which with a nearly 13 month old is pretty good going. It’s a really easy museum to get around with babies and toddlers. I’m sure if Bea was older, she would be straight on the boat in the courtyard. Across the courtyard is a cafe, which is great for little ones. There’s a small play corner, which Bea enjoyed, whilst I appreciated a hot cup of tea. There is also a colouring area for older ones to get creative and display your work.

The exhibition was superb and for the £5.20 admission (under 4s are free) it was well worth it. Definitely check this out with the family before it ends. It would be a great day out during the half term.

I also discovered that there is an early years session on each month at the museum. Little Kippers is designed for aged 18 months to 5 years with their parents or carers. The next one is Thursday 04 February 2016, 10am – 11:30am and it’s FREE! Advance booking is essential, so contact Polly on (01493) 743944 or email polly.ward@norfolk.gov.uk

Our new art collection

B's art work

With our little girl now going to nursery, one of the unexpected surprises was to find a painting that she had created in her bag most days. Upon seeing her first picture I felt both proud and a little sad that I hadn’t helped her or watched her do this.

So, a few weeks into nursery and the art collection is getting quite vast. There is only so much space on the fridge, so it has prompted me to consider how best to keep her paintings or display them. Here are a few solutions that we like the look of.

 

New beginnings and new Craft Picnic

 

The last week has seen new beginnings for all kinds of reasons. As well as the new year, our little girl turned one and also started nursery. She has immersed herself in making new friends, arts and crafts, playing music and a whole new routine.

Here at Fine Folk we are getting excited in our preparations for Craft Picnic, which starts next Wednesday. Craft Picnic is a creative sensory play experience for babies’ age over 6 months and parents/guardians to join in. This first course of the year is five sessions long and we will be exploring themes such as birds and the sea, using props, music and our art hampers for people to delve into. We will also be creating our own activity sheets to assist parents who want to recreate some of our props. The Family Arts Campaign has recognised Craft Picnic as ‘Fantastic for Families’, which we are over the moon about!

We will be at Anteros Gallery from Wednesday 13 January, 11am – 12noon each Wednesday until 10 February 2016. The five sessions cost £20 in total and we have a few places still available. If you are interested in attending, then please get in touch by emailing samanthadawsonpatel@gmail.com. Booking is required, as space is limited.