Santa’s Workshop designed to welcome annual event’s younger guests

fandg4When you’ve enjoyed going to an event in your pre-parenting days it’s always nice to think you might still be able to attend it even if you have some mini ones in tow.

So it’s especially heartening when the organisers themselves recognise the value in making sure they lay out a welcome for all the family.

One such event extending its offering to its younger guests is the Lincolnshire Food & Gift Fair at the Lincolnshire Showground.

2016’s event is taking place from 9am to 4pm on November 26th and 27th and brings together more than 150 exhibitors, festive entertainment from choir groups and cookery demonstrations from top local chefs and producers.


But this year also sees the launch of a brand new children’s craft and activity area called Santa’s Workshop.

“Here, children can get hands-on with craft activities including Christmas cards and decorations, writing their letter to Father Christmas, making melting snowmen biscuits and reindeer food and sitting down to see talented storytellers relay an animated version of the popular Stick Man book – plus much more!” says Showground marketing manager Rachel Hurst.

fandg1“And for the first time, Santa himself will be at the Fair, ready with his impressive sleigh to meet with children.”

Ruddocks of Lincoln will be helping children to create festive tree decorations and gifts to take home.  Rhiannon Wilkinson, from Ruddocks, said: “We want the younger shopper to enjoy the entertainment while gaining a new skill.

“With Ruddocks of Lincoln, visitors can personalise their Christmas tree this year by creating handmade tree toppers, decorations, make their own crowns and write a letter to Father Christmas, posting it in our special Christmas post box.”

Tickets for the annual event, held across two indoor halls and with free car parking, are on sale now for £5 in advance or £6 on the day. Under 16s go free with an adult.

Call the ticket line on 01522 522900 or visit


Looking to find the man in red?

Christmas 2016

(For Christmas 2017 – Heigh-Ho Ho Ho, it’s off to the grotto we go – please click here)

Halloween is another year away and Bonfire Night 2016 has seen its last explosion so… it must be time for the countdown to Christmas!

Such an attitude is definitely new to a previous rather Bah Humbug me but having children does tend to change you in many ways.  No one wants their mini ones to miss out on any fun if they can help it but that often means planning and booking ahead – also new skills I need to acquire!

If your children are hoping to meet Father Christmas ahead of the big day then take a look at the list of where he and his helpers will be appearing in and near Lincolnshire this year and follow the link to see if you need to book.  Be sure to be checking it more than twice as we’ll be adding to it if we find somewhere new and, if you know we’ve missed one, then please email 

arkwildlifeArk Wildlife Park, Stickney – Santa’s Grotto
Various December dates
Visit Facebook page

baytreeBaytree Garden Centre, Weston, Spalding
Everyday until Christmas Eve
Winter Wonderland, Grotto and reindeer

Belton House, near Grantham
Various December dates
Winter Grotto, breakfasts and suppers with Father Christmas

Bracebridge Heath Village Christmas Party
December 4
Tickets can be purchased from the Little Pottery Studio.
Visit Bracebridge Heath Events Facebook

santabriggBrigg Garden Centre
Daily until Christmas Eve
Grotto experience includes a train ride, bouncy castles, photo booth, elves toyshop and more.  Breakfasts and teas with Santa also available.

Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway – Santa Specials
December 3, 4, 10, 11, 17-24

The Deep, Hull – Santa Specials
Various December dates

fb_img_1479500424776Digby Memorial Hall – Digby Christmas Market
November 19, 11am-4pm
Visit Facebook event

Doddington Hall – Father Christmas
December 4th, 7th, 17th & 18th
Meet the Christmas Elves, share your Christmas wishes with Father Christmas and receive a small present per child.

Downtown Garden Centre, Grantham – Meet Santa
Various dates from November 19th to December 24th
Breakfast and supper with Santa events also available.

Downtown, Lincoln – Visit Santa and Tea with Santa
December 10 and 11

Eleanor Cafe and Tearoom, St Katherine’s Heritage Centre, Lincoln – Join Santa for lunch
December 17th
Santa is taking a break from his workshop and is calling into The Eleanor Cafe and Tearoom for his lunch. He will be having a nice hot bowl of soup and some crusty bread, would you like to join him?
Visit Facebook event

Fillingham Christmas Trees, Castle Farm – Woodland Grotto
December 3rd, 4th, 10th & 11th

fb_img_1479836335204Great Fen Day Nursery, Boston – Christmas Party
December 15
Visit Facebook event

Hildreds Centre, Skegness – Pirate Castle Grotto

fb_img_1479231582812Holly Tree, Washingborough – Christmas Extravaganza
December 17th, 4pm-7pm
Soft play, mini disco, party games, face painting and visit from Santa.
Visit Holly Tree Facebook

Hykeham Lions – Christmas Sleigh Run
From December 3
Visiting areas of North Hykeham, South Hykeham, Lincoln, Waddington, Witham St Hughs and Skellingthorpe

Johnsons Garden Centre, Boston – Visit Santa
Various November and December dates
Breakfast with Santa also available.

Kelham Hall, near Newark – Christmas Fayre
November 26th and 27th
Visit Kelham Hall Facebook

castlesantaLincoln Castle – An Audience with Father Christmas
December 10th, 11th, 17th, 18th, 21st, 22nd & 23rd
Join Father Christmas as he tells stories of Victorian Christmases of the past. Every child will receive a Victorian style gift and get an opportunity to meet the man himself and tell him their Christmas wishes.

santafunrunLincoln Santa Fun Run & Walk 2016
December 11th, 11.30am
Not your traditional visit to a grotto but a very fun experience to take part in or spectacle to watch where you’re certain to see many men (and women and children and dogs!) in red.

firefighterssantaLincolnshire Fire & Rescue – Santa’s Sleigh 2016
From December 12
Every year, Santa joins forces with firefighters and goes on a tour around the county to help raise money for charity.
Visit here for the routes he will be taking

Lincolnshire Food and Gift Fair, Lincolnshire Showground – Santa’s Workshop
November 26th and 27th
Christmas storytelling, festive baking and hands-on craft activities for children – and even a visit from Father Christmas himself!

Lincolnshire Wildlife Park, Friskney – Santa’s Grotto 
December 10 and 11

Lincolnshire Wolds Railway, Ludborough – Santa Specials 2016
December 10th, 11th, 17th and 18th

LMS Country Store, Wellingore – Christmas Market
November 26th
In aid of Cancer Research.  Lots of stalls, raffle prizes and a visit from Father Christmas.
Visit LMS Facebook

Metheringham Swimming Pool – Breakfast with Santa
December 10th
Visit Metheringham Swimming Pool Facebook

The Natural World Centre, Whisby – A Crackin’ Christmas Celebration!
December 11th
Includes Santa’s Grotto.
Visit Natural World Centre Facebook

fb_img_1479325099250Nocton Community Primary School – Christmas Fayre
December 13th, 3pm-6pm
Visit Facebook event

Normanby Hall Country Park, near Scunthorpe – Father Christmas in his Grotto
December 3rd, 4th, 10th, 11th, 17th and 18th
This includes meeting Father Christmas, a special gift, a ride on the miniature railway and a Christmas activity sheet.

funfarmlunchNorth Hykeham Fun Farm – Out for Lunch with Santa
December 7th
Toddler Christmas lunch. Come and lunch with Santa, have a private chat and present from Santa and eat an amazing hot traditional Christmas lunch.
Visit Fun Farm Facebook Event

North Scarle Miniature Railway, North Scarle Playing Field – Santa Specials
December 11th and 18th

Oldrids, Gainsborough – Visit Santa and Tea with Santa
December 3 and 4

Oliver Boat Trips, Brayford, Lincoln – Santa’s Grotto
November 12th to Christmas Eve
Visit Oliver Boat Trips Facebook

The Pink Pig Farm, near Scunthorpe – Santa Woodland Adventure
December 10th to 23rd
Walk through the enchanted elf woodland, write a letter to Santa, make reindeer food with Mrs. Claus and meet the man himself in his grotto.

Rand Farm Park, near Wragby – Real Christmas Experience
Various November and December dates
Breakfast with Santa also available

Reepham School – Christmas Fayre
December 10, 11.30am-2pm
Stalls, games, chilli dogs, raffles, special guest Santa, join Elsa and Anna for a sing-along.
Visit Facebook event

Ritz Cinema, Lincoln – Film screenings with Father Christmas Visits
Various December dates
Films include Elf, The Polar Express, Santa Claus The Movie, The Grinch and The Nightmare Before Christmas

The Ritz, Lincoln – Breakfast with Santa
December 10 and 11
Visit Facebook event

Rushmoor Country Park, North Cockerington, Louth – Breakfast and Lunch with Santa
Christmas Eve

santashideawaySanta’s Hideaway, near Horncastle
November 26th and 27th, December 3rd, 4th and 10th-24th
Visit Santa’s Hideaway Facebook

The Showroom, Lincoln – YMCA Community Christmas Cracker
December 23rd, 11am-3pm
Meet Father Christmas, step in to Santa’s Grotto, Rodeo-Raindeer, Christmas crafts, face painting, games and more.
Visit The Showroom Facebook

sk8zwithsantaSK8Z, Gainsborough – Skate with Santa
December 10th, 2pm and 4pm.
Call 01427 760 150.

Springfields, Spalding
December 1st
Father Christmas arrives in the Springfield Grotto via the land train at 7pm.

St Mark’s Church, Grimsby – Christmas Disco
December 11

fb_img_1479828800630Suncastle Skegness – Santa’s Family Christmas Party
December 18
Visit Facebook event

Sundown Adventureland – Night Before Christmas
From November 19th
This includes park entry for the day, use of all the rides and attractions, the Night before Christmas ride and a visit to Santa.

Tension Exit Games – Saving Santa

Wacky Warehouse, Lincoln 
December 4th: Breakfast with Santa
December 10th: Santa’s Supper


Waterside, Lincoln – Santa’s Grotto
December 1 to Christmas Eve

Welton Pre-School – Santa’s Grotto
December 17th, 3pm
Visit Welton Pre-School

White Post Farm, Farnsfield – Christmas 2016
From November 26th
Breakfast with Santa and Christmas evenings also available

Wragby Town Hall – Christmas Craft & Gift Fair
November 27
Visit Facebook post

Need a new book? Create your own!

booktrustlogoToday is the final day of BookTrust’s Children’s Book Week (October 31st to November 4th, 2016).

The Mini Malpi have looked at their own spooky recommendations, heard about some new releases from Lindum Books’s Gill Hart, taken a look at some picture books with Waterstone’s Deborah Holland and found even more reasons to celebrate with the Mr Men’s 45th anniversary.

But if you’ve already read through all of them and simply need a new tale of adventure to spark your mini one’s imagination then why not help them create their own?

One of Luke’s favourite activities in recent weeks has been creating books with daddy.  As a preschooler, it’s all about the use of stickers, stamping and felt tip pen and crayon illustrations and they’re not the most sophisticated, bound by use of hole punch and wool, but they’ve provided much entertainment in their initial creation as well as through the imaginative tales that have been conjured up when daddy and mummy have been asked to read them back to Luke.

What have you been reading this #ChildrensBookWeek?

45th anniversary another reason to celebrate #ChildrensBookWeek

booktrustlogoToday is day four of BookTrust’s Children’s Book Week (October 31st to November 4th, 2016).

The week aims to celebrate books and reading for pleasure and a few children’s characters that are certain to join in with such celebrations are Roger Hargreaves’s Mr Men because they’re also celebrating their own special year – their 45th anniversary!

mrtickleThe first six Mr Men books were published in the UK in 1971.  Mr Tickle was the first character created when Roger Hargreaves’s son Adam asked him what a tickle looked like.  Since his father’s death, Adam has continued to write and illustrate new titles in the series.

Mr Tickle and his friends were also some of the first children’s characters that Luke was introduced to as they were the books that daddy read to him whilst he was still in the womb and they both still enjoy them together today!

Stamps featuring the Mr Men and Little Miss characters have been released to mark the books’ 45th anniversary and e-books of three new characters created by Adam – Mr Marvellous, Little Miss Fabulous and Little Miss Sparkle – have also been released.

Visit their website at

What are you reading this #ChildrensBookWeek?

Picture perfect for #ChildrensBookWeek

booktrustlogoFor day three of BookTrust’s Children’s Book Week (October 31st to November 4th, 2016), Deborah Holland, Lincoln Waterstones Children’s Bookseller, highlights a few of her favourite picture books which “don’t get as much focus and I think they are an essential start for kids’ imagination”…

Are your mini ones a Child of Books?

booktrustlogoFor day two of BookTrust’s Children’s Book Week (October 31st to November 4th, 2016), Gill Hart from Lincoln independent book shop Lindum Books picks a few of her recently-released favourites…

“There are lots of fabulous new books newly published for children at the moment.

achildofbooks“My favourite by far is an exceptional new picture book by author/illustrator Oliver Jeffers called I am a Child of Books by Walker Books (9781406358315, HB £12.99).

“This is an inspiring, lyrical tale about the rewards of reading and sharing stories in which Jeffers’s illustrations are accompanied by amazing typographical landscapes by artist Sam Winston shaped from excerpts from children’s classics.

“It is beautiful and will be loved by both small people and grownups I’m sure. (There is going to be one winging it’s way to a certain mini-Malpi for her forthcoming birthday)!

the-milly-molly-mandy-storybook“I have many fond memories of children’s books from my childhood that are still popular today.  Milly Molly Mandy has recently been reissued by Pan Macmillan as The Milly Molly Mandy Storybook (9781447273066, HB £9.99).

“I really wanted that bedroom with jam pots on the window sill!

littlewomenLittle Women was a favourite when I was a little older, I still reread it on occasion and always cry when Beth dies!

“There is a nice Vintage paperback edition at present at £5.99 (980099572961).

swordinthestone“In a less girly mode I became fascinated by all things Arthurian on reading The Sword in the Stone by T H White, there is a current Harper Collins paperback at £6.99 (9780007263493).”

Lindum Books holds monthly storytimes for children in its Bailgate shop.  Call 01522 262374 for further information.

Chilling tales to kickstart Children’s Book Week


Happy Children’s Book Week!

booktrustlogoRunning from October 31st to November 4th, 2016, the week is being promoted by BookTrust and aims to celebrate books and reading for pleasure.

“Studies show that children who enjoy and feel confident in reading are better learners – and not just in English. Reading gives them a firm grasp on all subjects. Whether they are ecstatic about their e-reader, crazy about comics, or bury themselves in a book, it’s something worth celebrating.”

Find out how your family can get involved here.

Given the week’s spooky starting date, I thought I’d pick a few of our favourites that, whilst year-round bedtime reading for us, are particularly seasonally appropriate too.

funnybonesFunnybones by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

“On a dark, dark hill, there was a dark, dark town.
In the dark, dark town, there was a dark, dark street…”

The opening lines to this simple tale of a big skeleton, a little skeleton and a dog skeleton’s night out are ones I remember from my own childhood.

An eventful trip to the park and through the zoo find the boney characters more interested in scaring each other than the reader who’s simply left wanting to join in their adventures and wondering if they’d find any fun friends underneath their floorboards.

Piece together your own skeletons courtesy of Puffin books here.

wherethewildthingsareWhere the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Another favourite from my own childhood, Where the Wild Things Are follows mischievous Max in his wolf suit as he sails “off through night and day and in and out of weeks and almost over a year to where the wild things are” and was the first book I wanted to take Luke with me to buy after he was born.

Max tames the wild things leading them in a wild rumpus but, reassuringly for all parents of wild things, comes to realise he would much rather be “where someone loved him best of all”.

roomonthebroomRoom on the Broom by Julia Donaldson 

A more recent title from the author of The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom is however already 15 years old proving its enduring popularity too.

My favourite of the consummate rhyming writer’s cannon, I used to be able to do a relatively faithful recital of the tale of an eventful flight and the importance of friendship.

One of these days I’ll find a purple skirt I can fit into to go with my black cape and invite my children on to my broomstick for an in-flight 3D retelling of the story that has won six book awards!

megandmogMeg and Mog by Helen Nicoll and Jan Pienkowski

Helen Nicoll and Jan Pienkowski’s Meg and Mog is another book that takes me back to when I was a young reader myself and I remember still picking up the various titles in the series and reading through them in the library even when I was getting a bit too old to take out picture books as part of my 12 book allocation.

Fortunately I’m now old enough to be allowed to enjoy them again and regularly share in their adventures in Meg’s Castle, Meg’s Mummy, Meg’s Eggs, Meg’s Veg and Meg on the Moon which also often serve to remind me I’ve always meant to invest in a proper cauldron…

thespookyoldtreeThe Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree by Stan and Jan Berenstain 

Another oldie but goodie, the three intrepid Berenstain bears head out on an nighttime escapade into, up, through, down and out of The Spooky Old Tree, one with a light, one with a stick and one with a rope.

“Do they dare go” on as one by one the items the explorers armed themselves with are replaced by the shivers?

Don’t worry, there’s always the promise of “Home again.  Safe at last” for re-readers of a nervous disposition.

What will your mini ones be reading this Children’s Book Week?