Summer of Spies

Family activities at the National Civil War Centre

Photo by Stuart Wilde Photography

Are your mini marauders are already running out of ways to keep themselves busy just one week into the holidays?

Then why not send any sparring siblings to the National Civil War Centre where they can properly hone their skills of devious deception this summer?

The Newark museum’s family activities programme starts today and includes performances full of pretence and cunning craftiness all on an intriguing espionage theme.

Invited to the launch of Summer of Spies earlier this month, our mini mischief makers were immediately absorbed in a task to search for 10 gold coins hidden around the Appletongate venue’s courtyard area.  Their swag could then be swapped for the chance to fire a cannon.  They obviously felt this well rewarded their efforts as they insisted on repeating the task numerous times.

Photo by Stuart Wilde Photography

But when we were finally able to prise them away from their quest for bounty they discovered lots of other ways to become duplicitous detectives.

Apprentice secret agents had the chance to learn the science behind their subterfuge by making periscopes to see round corners, cracking codes and writing messages in invisible ink.

But it’s not just ciphers that need to be secret, identities do too, and the chance to create their own disguises was the choice they made that quickly filled up the rest of their time at the evening event.

Just like last year, the minis loved sampling all the hands on activities that will featured at the centre at different stages of its Summer of Spies but the thing that impressed mummy the most were the friendly, thoughtful and helpful staff who didn’t bat an eyelid at our slightly delayed, divided and disheveled arrival but simply concentrated on getting the minis having fun straightaway.

Summer of Spies runs from July 28th to September 2nd and the centre is offering 20% off admission for families with at least one paying child during this time.

Family Craft Activities:
July 28 – August 5: Seventeenth Century Spy Kit
August 6 – August 12: Locked Letters and Secret Seals
August 13 – August 19: Cloak and Dagger
August 20 – August 26: Hide and Seek
August 27 – September 2: How To Be Invisible

Performances by either Aphra Behn: Mistress of All Trades or The Anonymous Spy take place every day (except Sundays) at 11am, noon, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm.

Find out more at 

#30DaysWild Day 24 – Texture

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_24We enjoyed a lovely hot day out at National Trust property Nostell today.

We were very grateful to whoever decided to put their play area in the woodland’s shade but it was in the sun-soaked garden and meadow of the “18th-century architectural masterpiece” that so many different textures caught my eye.

If your minis like spotting different textures in nature then pop over to Pinkoddy and print out Joy’s Nature Trail Checklist for You and Your Little Ones.  With seasonal as well as all-year-round suggestions, her list includes a smooth pebble, a soft feather and a prickly pine needle.



Celebration of county offers unique experience for all

Lincolnshire Show 2018 and #30DaysWild Day 21

Tractors and animals were the main two things on the minis’ to do list for the Lincolnshire Show 2018.

Having been in previous years, we considered this highly achievable.  Organised by the Lincolnshire Agricultural Society (LAS) at the Showground just north of Lincoln, the Show has its roots in agriculture and, now reaching its 134th event, it’s still firmly at its heart.

The minis were guests of the LAS for the second day of the event that would see horses, cows, sheep, poultry, bees, pigs and more feature in its rings and exhibition tents.

We had a plan, we had a route.

What we didn’t allow for, however, was the lure of a helter skelter.

To be fair, mummy and daddy had already gone slightly off piste when we happened upon the world famous Red Arrows doing a meet and greet ahead of their aerobatic display later in the day but once we’d spiralled down the fairground ride, been spun around on a merry-go-round and bounced about on an inflatable castle we were well and truly disorientated and just decided to see where their little feet would take us next.

And, whilst the amusements were fun, they were richly rewarded by venturing further afield too.

A laser show meant something interesting for all including our miniest one, the two eldest minis enjoyed their caving experience with Lincolnshire Scouts so much they went round the course twice and daddy enjoyed getting up close to the Checkatrade Trophy that we’d seen Lincoln City FC hold aloft at Wembley in April.

The Schools’ Challenge entries had joined in with the Show’s aviation theme marking the centenary of the RAF and children had made their own aeroplane costumes, air raid shelters and Dig for Victory displays.

Luke and Willow tried their hands at resuscitation with St John Ambulance, examined Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue’s equipment, had a go at table tennis with the Positive Futures team and more sporting experiences with Active Lincolnshire and dug for historic artefacts with Heritage Lincolnshire.

And once they (and daddy) discovered the Lego pit inside Lincolnshire County Council’s tent, promoting the Kingdom Lego Brick Show coming to Lincoln Castle in the summer, they was every chance we’d never have got past that area of the Showground.  Fortunately Willow was enamoured by some 1940s singers so we danced our way out to enjoy yet more including the University of Lincoln tent which offered more hands on activities with Luke and Willow asked to consider what they might like to research when they’re older – Lego and sleep were their choices.

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_2130DAYSWILD_ID2 lightgreenMummy just managed to squeeze in a visit to the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust tent too for a #30DaysWild activity where, had they not still be uncovering ancient relics with Heritage Lincolnshire, the minis would have found plenty more to keep their busy fingers occupied.  This year the charity’s tent focused on wildflowers and their Heritage Lottery supported project celebrating Lincolnshire’s amazing plants #LoveLincsPlants.

We made it to the land train just in time to stave off any disappointed meltdowns (many thanks to the drivers for letting us on so late) and were dropped off in front of – finally! – the tractors, rounding off the day listening to the marching band in the main ring whilst enjoying rolling down a grassy hill.

We may have only seen some horses, a sheep and a cow from a distance but I think it’s fair to say we had a very full day packed with fun, interesting and educational experiences and left with lots of information on enjoying all our county has to offer all year round.

There is so much on offer at the Show each person will have their own unique experience.  Mummy’s dreaming of the year she can seek out the Lincolnshire gin tents and stroll around the shopping aisles, a year that daddy will be heading straight for the beer tent.  We definitely found out why they say you can’t fit it all in in just one day.  Luke’s school only closes for one day of the Show though, and we’re fortunate in that, so we’ll just have to go again next year instead.

The Lincolnshire Show 2019 will take place on June 19th and 20th.

#30DaysWild Day 17 – Far Ings Nature Reserve

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_17This weekend is the Wildlife Trusts’ Big Wild Weekend organised as part of #30DaysWild.

We wanted to go to somewhere we haven’t explored before so headed to Far Ings National Nature Reserve to enjoy their open day.

“The chain of flooded clay pits and extensive reedbeds along the Humber Bank” had plenty for mini hands to enjoy from making bird feeders and bee hotels to colouring, plaiting bookmarks, identifying poo, searching for colourful flowers, investigating a nature detective trail and pond dipping, all aided by both knowledgeable and lovely staff members.

And it also gave me the opportunity to take what’s now one of my favourite photos of Luke.


Find out more about the “diverse landscape made up of reedbeds, meadow and scrub, and both freshwater and saltwater environments”, visit

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#30DaysWild Day 16 – A stroll through the deep dark wood

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Last year we made a point of reading of Julia Donaldson’s The Snail and the Whale as part of our #30DaysWild activities, a title that never ceases to inspire wanderlust in me and remind me of how big and wide and varied and awesome our planet Earth is.  And it’s a lovely reminder of how even the miniest of us can make a difference.

GruffaloThis year we chose her much loved character The Gruffalo to read about as part of June’s challenge.  I like to think of it as a vegetarian polemic as, in the end, only nuts were harmed in the writing of the story but my children probably just like its forest setting, rhyming and fun repetitous narrative, meeting animals such as mouse, fox, owl, snake and the imaginative Gruffalo and that, whilst the miniest creature in this wood probably isn’t really the scariest, it can definitely be the smartest.

It also reminded me of when We all went on a Gruffalo hunt during last year’s 30 Days Wild too.  If you’re looking for some off the page fun with Julia Donaldson’s characters this year then take a look at the Forestry Commission to see if one of their Highway Rat forest trails is taking place in a woods near you and then click on over to Eva’s review Alice Holt Forest – The Highway Rat Activity Trail on Captain Bobcat to find out what’s in store for you if there is.

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Peppa’s adventure proves great fun for all

#30DaysWild – Day 14

Peppa Pig's Adventure - cast(c) Dan Tsantilis

I can’t possibly start this review of Peppa Pig Live: Peppa Pig’s Adventure any way other than by saying how much my 17 month old loved it.

At previous shows we’ve taken her siblings to she’s often clapped along with the applause and enjoyed looking at all the lights but then either fed or slept through most of it.

In this morning’s production at the New Theatre Royal however, Faith was fully engaged throughout smiling, giggling, sat forward and focused on the stage, jiggling her body in excitement.

Including an interval it wasn’t a short show either but, as Willow’s first words 10 seconds after the curtain fell were “again, again”, it clearly thoroughly entertained my three year old too who was also a guest of the theatre.

And the delighted noises coming from the other mini audience members as their favourite characters came on stage for the first time in the show that encompasses a range of puppetry techniques meant they certainly weren’t alone in their enjoyment.

As well as Peppa, George, Pedro, Suzy and Gerald, the pre-school favourite was recreated faithfully through the bold colourful set and omniscient voice over.  Black-clad puppeteers maneuvered the smaller characters whilst Daddy Pig, Mummy Pig and Madame Gazelle could contain their actors inside the costumes.  They were joined by Daisy, a new girl starting at their school for her first day and joining them on their school camping trip.

There was, of course, plenty of opportunity for interaction and clapping, singing and dancing along which the young viewers took every advantage of.

Older audience members were equally charmed by the nighttime scene and the fireflies, bats and owls as well as the fun torchlight shadow play.

Water sprays added a delightful 4d theatre experience as a rain shower allowed Peppa and her friends to indulge in their love of jumping in muddy puddles.

I’ve already had several requests to “see show again” but next time can we have Danny Dog and Candy Cat too please?

Find out where else Peppa is performing at Peppa Pig Live!

The next children’s theatre show coming up at the New Theatre Royal in Lincoln is Dinosaur World Live, June 22nd-24th

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30DAYSWILD_ID2 lightgreenThe logistics of the day mean that Peppa and Daisy’s song about enjoying the great outdoors and the characters delight in their camping trip was our #30DaysWild activity of the day and it certainly fuelled my 3 year old’s desire to sleep under canvas again soon. 

#30DaysWild Day 10 – Open Farm Sunday

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_10Today we were some of the hundreds of thousands of people taking advantage of LEAF Open Farm Sunday’s opportunity to discover the work that goes into producing our food.

OFS_LogIn 2016 we visited Uncle Henry’s in Grayingham but today, lured by the promise of pond dipping with Lincolnshire Chalk Streams Project, we headed to Sutton Estates in Stainton le Vale.

The pond dipping was enjoyed twice, once on the way in and again on the way back to the car and our minis were interested to spot the truly mini creatures including freshwater shrimp, water hog louse and water boatman.

But there was also lots more on offer to visitors to the event near Market Rasen.  Log cutting demonstrations, grass seed head making, toilet lucky dips, mini tractor rides, big tractor rides, machinery to explore, police van investigating, flipping frogs, sausage making and, of course, ice cream eating.

The very efficiently and exactly laid out rows of crops may not be particularly wild but, as part of its role as custodians of the countryside, the farm also devotes significant sized borders across its estate to creating habitats and supporting wildlife.

HillAnd there was even a handily located slope just by the side of the field used for car parking, perfectly placed for our wild ones.  For what day out in the countryside would be complete without the chance to roll down and run up a hill repeatedly despite any previous protestations of supposedly tired legs?

Next Year’s LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) Open Farm Sunday will take place on Sunday, June 9th, 2019.  Find out more at 

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