#30DaysWild Day Three – The Snail and the Whale

DayThreeAfter many days of glorious sunny weather today took a turn for the more inclement – guess which minis are due to be surprised tomorrow with the not-so-perfectly-timed arrival of a new paddling pool…

Fortunately we always have a well-stocked bookshelf to turn to and The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler is a particular favourite.

TheSnailAndTheWhaleBookIt’s possibly not the most apposite reading material for sharing during lockdown when our wanderlust starts with yearning to be able to leave our own suburban estate never mind sailing across the seas to experience “shimmering ice and coral caves,” “shooting stars and enormous waves” and gorgeous “golden sands”.

But I do get my bonus point for it being connected to my daughter’s home learning suggested by her school to use with some maths activities – it seems we shall be looking at spirals in the next few days.

After a reading we also watched the animated adaptation of the story on iPlayer.  Before watching this for the first time last year I’d never really focused on the more perilous parts of the pair’s journey (apart from the speedboats and beaching of course), in awe of the snail’s opportnity to experience those “far-off lands”.  But the adaptation further highlights the dangers the seagulls provide never mind the “zigag lightening” or “sharks with hideous toothy grins”.  Peril is never mild to my five year old so she definitely picked up on these points which, seeing as the dangers are one of the things she has to count, is useful and perhaps a reminder that we definitely are safer at home at least for now.

It is, of course, a beautiful story of friendship, wonder, our interdependence and how even the smallest of the small can be mighty – especially if their trails leave a message in particularly nice joined up handwriting.

Click here to find out more about #30DaysWild.

#30DaysWild Day Two – Volcanoes

DayTwo2020Between a medical appointment for my three year old and my husband’s work commitments, today was always going to be an at home day.

What we didn’t plan for was our neighbours having hired a bouncy castle for their son’s birthday and inadvertantly rendering our back garden a no-go area for certain minis whose faces were green with envy rather than their fingers green with horticultural zest.

But the best laid plans often go awry anyway, don’t they?  We were intending to follow along with a live Theatre of Science experiment about gravity – a topic with lovely Lincolnshire roots – but had remembered the time wrong and it clashed with a work meeting.  Fortunately Lara Stafford uploads all her videos to her YouTube channel afterwards and, as they are all designed using common household items, the afternoon quickly became all about volcanoes instead.

We’ve had the supplies in for the classic volcano experiment – vinegar, baking soda and red food colouring – since the beginning of lockdown but have just been missing a bottle to activate the ingredients in.  Lara’s experiment, however, uses A4 paper, a candle, three mugs, a cup of flour (which we’d just finally managed to get in again in the last week!), water and a teaspoon and her presentation is titled Which is the BEST volcano model?!

As well as modelling a volcano, the minis also got to hear facts about what the most deadly part of the eruption is and learn about volcanologist Marta Calvache.

I was particularly fascinated that it was only last year that scientists, through computer modelling, have been able to determine why the deadly pyroclastic flow – the fast-moving current of hot gas and volcanic matter – is able to move in the way it does (it creates its own cushion of air to travel on apparently).  I like knowing that our world may still have many mysteries for our children to explore although, given how long people have been studying volcanoes for, it doesn’t bode well for a quick answer to our current virus problem unfortunately.

Click here to find out more about #30DaysWild 

#30DaysWild Day One – Patterns

30DaysWildDayOneWith all of this year’s plans being a bit derailed for obvious reasons it’s nice that we can still join in something that we have done for the past few years.

30 Days Wild is an annual nature challenge hosted by The Wildlife Trusts that encourages people to do one wild thing a day throughout the month of June – “That’s 30 simple, fun and exciting Random Acts of Wildness”.

“Simple” is probably going to be our byword this year as we won’t be able to travel to some of our favourite sites that celebrate nature.  I’m going to award myself bonus points for anything that links in to home learning too as we continue to shield through June and in both those veins we took my five year old’s homework out into the garden today to look at making patterns with natural materials, some of which the minis had previously collected in our local area as part of one of my seven year old’s Beavers’ challenges.

Click here to find out more about #30DaysWild.

Join in festival fun for a (slight) change of scene

The Big Little Tent Festival #BLTF20

TBLTF LogoThere was much needed excitement in our chickenpox-hit household this morning when daddy put up the tent in the back garden.

In each of our children’s early days of sleeping under canvas we never ventured far in case we needed to make an abrupt return to bricks and mortar.

These coronavirus-restricted days means no one can go any further than their fence or hedge property boundaries anyway and, whilst we’re no strangers to camping in our back garden, it’s been nice to remember how exciting pitching a temporary home is to the mini ones.

The Caravan and Motorhome Club’s Big Little Tent Festival started in 2015 as a way of encouraging people who had never been camping to
try it in their back garden with all home comforts close at hand.  In 2020 with campsites temporarily
closed, it’s also a great way to remind your children of what fun camping can be.


If you haven’t got a tent or a garden to pitch it in to be able to spend the night under canvas then you can still treat the kids to a change of scene by creating an indoor den to take part too.

For the 2020 event the Caravan and Motorhome Club is also offering free downloadable packs which include a variety of hints, tips, recipes, activities for the kids, bunting, wristbands and flags to help fuel that festival feel.

Taking place on Wednesday, April 15th, the organisers are encouraging people to use their devices to share their experiences with loved ones they can’t physically be with right now.

CaravanMotorhomeClubPlus, not only can you share your photos of your very own Big Little Tent Festival for all of us to enjoy using #BLTF20, if you upload them directly to the Carvan and Motorhome Club’s website you also have a chance to win a £50 Marks & Spencer voucher.  When you download a printable pack you will also be entered into a
prize draw for the opportunity to win one of six Cotswold Outdoor tents worth £190 each.

Click here to find out more about the Big Little Tent Festival as well as it’s sister event the Big Little Tea Time Festival.

National Trust acquires Lincolnshire coastal land for new home for nature

The National Trust has acquired a former Lincolnshire golf course, including 2km of coastal land, to help create a new 30 hectare, (74 acre), coastal nature reserve.

Working in partnership with Lincolnshire County Council, Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, East Lindsey District Council and the Environment Agency the reserve will form part of the Lincolnshire Coastal Countryside Park, to help protect wildlife.

The former Sandilands golf course which has been acquired by the National Trust Credit John Miller and National Trust Images 1
Photo: John Miller and National Trust Images

Purchased for £800,000, it is the first coastal acquisition by the conservation charity since it secured 1.35km of the White Cliffs of Dover coastline in 2012.  It has been made possible thanks to a generous donation from a supporter together with funds from the Trust’s Neptune Coastline Campaign, which supports coastline projects.

The former 30 hectare (74 acre) Sandilands golf course will be transformed by restoring sand dune and wetland habitats to make a haven for a variety of wildlife, especially uncommon migratory birds such as black-tailed godwit, spotted redshank and spoonbill along with breeding birds like snipe, lapwing and oystercatcher.

Photos: Robert Morris, John Miller, Dougie Holden and National Trust Images 

Work on the transformation will start once the coronavirus pandemic has passed, and the current Government restrictions are lifted.

The new reserve will complement the Lincolnshire Coastal Country Park, a 3,500 hectare (8,650 acre) area of coastline extending from Chapel Point in the south to Sandilands in the north, with coastal habitats including stunning sandy beaches, sand dunes and a series of  grazing marshes and reedbeds that are important for wildlife.

Louise Ransberry, Assistant Director of Operations for the National Trust in the East Midlands, said: “The vision for the future of the new reserve is to provide a space where everyone can enjoy the benefits of nature.

“The Lincolnshire coast is one of the most important stretches of English coastline for wildlife, especially as it’s on the east coast ‘flyway’ migration route for birds.

Sandilands beach which borders the former golf course, recently acquired by the National Trust Credit John Miller and National Trust Images
Photo: John Miller and National Trust Images

“Once we are able to welcome visitors, they will be able to enjoy the colours of yellow flag iris and purple loosestrife while hearing the calls of squadrons of avocet; and, in winter, people will be able to admire the grace of a whooper swans’ flight as they arrive from their summer breeding grounds in the sub-arctic.”

After current restrictions on movement are lifted the Trust will carry out detailed surveys of the land to begin restoration of the sand dunes, dune pools and wetland.  It will also start work on converting the building into a visitor centre and café.

For more on the beautiful Lincolnshire Natural Coast, visit www.lincsnaturalcoast.com

Community projects, competitions and reward schemes for children to join in with from home

Hands up if you’re a parent looking for ways to entertain your children at home right now?

Fortunately there are lots of groups that have been quickly set up on Facebook sharing ideas and lots of people offering activities through online channels such as YouTube – we’ve been one of the thousands of families who’ve been joining in Joe Wicks’s The Body Coach 9am workouts for example.

Whilst learning for learning’s sake is never a bad thing and there are lots of sites that have been incredibly helpful in opening up their resources to all for free for at least a limited time, if your children would like to do something that might give them a much needed sense of community, a specific purpose or tangible achievement then here are a few ideas…

Rainbows and teddy bears
One of my favourite schemes has been people decorating their windows to cheer up their neighbours or families on their one period of exercise a day to spot.  In our area its mainly rainbows with a few teddy bears added too (so children can go on a bear hunt) but there are also a variety of lists circulating that see the theme change every few days (animals, funny faces and so on) ensuring regular new craft projects for your little ones.  We used crayons, stickers, paint, balloons and stones for ours and then had a walk around our area to sample the creativity of other households and there are some fabulous creations people have shared via social media too if you want to be particularly inspired.

“Our local community are putting Teddy bears in the window for a ‘we’re going on a bear hunt’ trail for those who are walking dogs, still heading out to work etc” says blogger Sarah Anguish who writes at www.boorooandtiggertoo.com.

OperationGratitudeOperation Gratitude – Write to a Veteran
The International Bomber Command Centre has launched Operation Gratitude, a fight against loneliness.  “Can you write a letter or make a card for a veteran to let them know they are not alone in these challenging times?”  Click here for suggestions of what you could write or draw as well as address details of where to post or email your letters to – don’t forget to include your first name and age in the card.

When it comes to uncovering the nation’s creativity you surely can’t beat joining in with Taskmaster’s #Hometasking challenges?  Alex Horne is setting about three challenges a week and then it’s over to Greg Davies (via a horde of helpful viewing minions I’m sure) to choose his favourite attempts to complete it.  So far the challenges have been to throw an A4 piece of paper into a bin, to host a “night out” in your bathroom and to make a dancing elephant.  All tasks are obviously meant to be completed in your own home or garden with materials you already have – take a look at #hometasking on Twitter for more information and prepare for all the weird and wonderful a nation left twiddling their thumbs can provide.

Lincoln Castle and Lindum Books Short Story Competition
Lincoln Castle, in partnership with Lindum Books, are inviting people to unlock their imaginations and get creative in their short story writing competition.  Lucy the dragon has been a visitor to Lincoln Castle every 100 years and has witnessed and experienced so much over the last thousand years – can you help them to tell some of her stories?


There are three age categories – age 5-12, age 13-18 and age 18+ – and each winner will receive a £20 gift voucher to spend at Lindum Bookshop in Lincoln.  “Your story can be as magical, as fantastical and as imaginative as you like… there are no limits… just start your story with the title ‘Meet Lucy!’ and let your imagination do the rest!”  No longer than 500 words and to be submitted on the official form, the competition is free to enter, restricted to one entry per person and must be received by 5pm on Friday, July 31st.

Newark Book Festival Competition
With three age categories – under 10s, 11 to 15 and 16+ – this is something all the family can take part in too.

For 2020’s competition, Newark Book Festival is taking its inspiration from the little manuscript made and written by Charlotte Bronte when she was only 14 years old that sold at auction in Paris for £666,970 in November 2019.  Dated August 19th, 1830, it is no bigger than a matchbox and is packed with stories, pictures and advertisements.


Using materials they have in their own home, the festival wants its entrants to make their own little book too.  Imaginations are encouraged to “run wild” but it must be handwritten/sewed, measure no more than the size of a playing card (3.5inch x 2.5inch) and have a maximum of 10 pages including the front and back cover.

The deadline has currently been extended until mid June, entries are to be kept at home for now and the festival will announce when drop off points/postal entries are open.  Find out more here.

grasscaterpillarNational Children’s Gardening Week Competion
If your children are particularly green fingered then they might want to join in with the National Children’s Gardening Week Competition if you have some grass seed to hand.  The promotional week normally runs at the end of May but it’s website has a page of ideas for Things to do that you might want to have a look at now.  One of those ideas is to grow your own grass caterpillar and these windowsill friends are the basis for the competition that opened on March 26th and ends on April 30th, 2020.

PawprintFamilyPawprint Badges
If your little Beaver is missing his or her regular achievement badge fix then they (and their fellow scouting/guiding group members) can still work towards them at home and our group leader has even sent us a couple of suggestions and ways to record their efforts already.  However there are also online alternatives such as Pawprint Badges that are open to all.  I’ve come across these before and always meant to look into them and, guess what, now I have the time.  There are lots of different badges and challenges, I think we might start by looking at the St George’s Day badge ahead of the patron saint’s day next month.

bluepeterBlue Peter Badge
Beth Law, who writes at www.twinderelmo.co.uk, suggests trying for a badge that might provide adults with a bit of nostalgia too.  “They can try to earn a Blue Peter Badge by doing different tasks such as drawing or crafting.  Us parents can take a walk down memory lane as a Blue Peter Badge was the ultimate prize when we were kids.  A great way to get your kids motivated as they will hopefully receive the coveted badge for their efforts.” 

Children’s University
ChildrensUniversityAnother scheme I’ve been meaning to look into for a while is the Children’s University, a national charity that is administrated through lots of local hubs.  Children’s University “believe in limitless learning beyond the classroom” and many of your children’s normal extracurricular activities could count towards their graduation but, of course, like most other providers in current times they have launched a special Covid-19 page with lots of suggestions for home and online activities.  I’ve already been in touch with our local corodinator and, whilst for obvious reasons she can’t send us out our passports yet, she’s happy for the minis to start completing activities and us to record their completion codes and colours so we’ll “be well on the way to collecting 30 stamps to graduate” when everyone can return to their offices.

Blogger Challenges
As well as giving lots of helpful suggestions, bloggers themselves are stepping into the breach and coming up with their own challenges too.

Blissful Domestication‘s Kerry Dawson says “I’m running an online craft challenge for kids.  Mainly in a Facebook group but you can also sign up on my blog for emails and a checklist. Originally it was an open ended challenge but I’m running a mini version of it over the next 12 weeks as I complete it with my own kids.”  Click on her blog post 50 Crafts to try before you’re 10! and find the original post with its Coronavirus update where you can sign up to her emails or join the Facebook group.

Louise Jemma, who writes at Thimble and Twig, is running an outdoor Doorstep Nature challenge in a Facebook group with a friend.  Every day in April in their Wildling Explorers Facebook group they’ll be sharing how each of their nature-inspired ideas work.  Click here to find out more.

Do you know of any other schemes or competitions little ones on their extended Coronavirus breaks could take part in?  Let us know in the comments below or email me at hello@theminimalpi.co.uk and I’ll add them to this list and you can be safe in the knowledge that lots of parents will be saying a big thank you to you for sharing!  

Familiar faces are swinging into city theatre this Easter


The New Theatre Royal Lincoln’s Easter pantomime is returning with The Jungle Book, running from Monday, April 13th to Sunday 19th and the audiences of the venue’s last two Easter pantomimes, The Wizard of Oz (2019) and Alice in Wonderland (2018) will be pleased to see some familiar faces.

The Jungle Book - Press Image

Not only will Chris Johnson star in this year’s production as the Monkey King and Kaa but this year CBBC’s Chris will also be credited for writing the script.

When asked about coming back to Lincoln and writing the show, Chris said, “I’m delighted to re-join the wonderful NTR Presents team once again for what’s guaranteed to be a swinging time in the jungle.  Lincoln holds a very special place in my heart so getting to write and perform another show here is an absolute joy!”

Chris Johnson - The Jungle BookChris will be joined by Michelle Morris who will get her wicked claws out as Shere Khan. Best known for her TV appearances in The Knock, Doctor Who, and Endeavour, Michelle’s theatre credits span more than two decades, including The Wicked Witch in last year’s Easter pantomime The Wizard of Oz, and Fairy Stardust in New Theatre Royal’s latest Christmas pantomime, Robin Hood.

Lincoln’s local lad, Chris Hayes, is back too.  After leaving audiences in stitches as Mama Munch in the The Wizard of Oz and Friar Tuck in Robin Hood, Chris returns as the loveable Baloo Bear.

Last year’s Scarecrow Jonny Weston and The Win Women Georgia Hayes-Cowley return as Bagheera and Raksha, Mowgli’s wolf mum.

Michelle Morris - The Jungle BookThe city theatre is also very excited to introduce local young talent, Kyla Hurdley and Ruby Grayson, who will share the role of Mowgli.

Packed with high energy dance routines, popular songs and a witty script, this family-favourite story will see the theatre’s artistic director, Natalie Hayes-Cowley, produce and direct the show: Who said pantomimes are just for Christmas?” she asks.  “This will be our seventh in-house pantomime since we took over the theatre in 2016 and our Easter pantomimes are becoming increasingly popular amongst our patrons.”

“Panto brings all generations of families together and it’s rewarding to see so many people joining in, laughing and booing (at the baddies, of course), then leaving with huge smiles on their faces.  I can’t wait for everyone to see The Jungle Book, it’s going to be another brilliant show!”

A relaxed performance will be held on Thursday, April 16th, at 2.30pm.  Tickets start from £19.50 (adults) and £11 (child).  Call 01522 519999 or visit New Theatre Royal Lincoln to book.

The shows must go on…



Panto season may be finally over in Lincoln’s city centre venues (oh yes it is…) but there are still plenty of entertaining reasons coming up to keep families visiting our theatres:


Lincoln Drill Hall

NaughtyFoxSaturday, February 1st:
The Naughty Fox
There are craft workshops supporting this production.

Sunday, February 16th:

Wednesday, February 19th:
Diddy Disco

Thursday, February 20th:
Henry Moon & The Greasy Spoon

Saturday, March 28th:
LittleRedThe Twisted Tale of Hansel and Gretel

Saturday, April 4th:
Little Red Riding Hood

Tuesday, April 14th:
The Unexpected Adventures of Darwin the Chimp
There is a puppet workshop supporting this production. 

Wednesday, April 15th:
Diddy Disco


Lincoln Performing Arts Centre

oddsocks.jpgThursday, February 20th:
Sid’s Time to Play

Thursday, April 9th:
Andy and the Odd Socks

Sunday, May 24th:
Horrible Histories: The Worst of Barmy Britain

Friday, May 29th:
Milkshake Live!  Milkshake Monkey’s Musical



Zog1New Theatre Royal Lincoln

February 23rd:
Exciting Science

March 23rd and 24th:

April 13th-19th:
The Jungle Book

May 31st:


Are you looking forward to taking your mini ones to the theatre this season?  Let us know your recommendations in the comments below…

Ready, Steady, Yeti! ignites imaginations

YetiHow many festive theatre goers can say they’ve seen a show featuring a sly, upper class, anthropomorphized furry toy dog who is a master of disguise this Christmas?

Thanks to being guests of the Lincoln Performing Arts Centre for the morning performance of Ready, Steady, Yeti! on Saturday, the minis can count themselves among the elite few who have not only been introduced to the cunning canine Colonel Snitterby but have rapped along with him too.

An ode to the wonders of youthful imagination, Ready, Steady, Yeti! follows a young sister and brother as they go on a Himalayan adventure to search for the Abominable Snowman.  Racing against the Colonel to find the legendary creature first, they sail through frozen seas, traverse treacherous terrain and make it to the top of ice-capped mountains without ever leaving their bedroom and making sure they are most definitely home in time for tea.


The warm-hearted story, supported by original songs and an inventive set, contrasts the ocassional cold heartedness of competitiveness with the fun and success that can be found in teamwork and friendship, revels in wordplay and celebrates creativity.


All three minis’ imaginations were thoroughly captured by the tale of the hunt for the mysterious not-so-monstrous monster and were even inspired to stage their own performance on the LPAC foyer’s mini platform after the show.  Willow proved that she had been listening during Yeti! when it was stated that all good stories begin with “Once upon a time”.

Taking on board the message that not everything has to be a race is clearly a work in progress however, loudly and proudly proclaiming herself the winner of getting back to the car first on the way home.

If you want to learn how to do the Explorers’ Salute and discover if a Yeti’s favourite food really is spaghetti then you can catch Ready, Steady, Yeti! at the Lincoln theatre until January 5th.  Find out more at www.lpac.co.uk 

Enter a wondrous wintery world but beware of the witch

LionA story that starts with a world trapped in a perpetual winter where the arrival of Father Christmas heralds the return of hope to the land is a perfect choice for a seasonal show.

The minis were guests of the Lincoln Performing Arts Centre (LPAC) on Thursday for the press showing of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe following the adventures of Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy as they stepped through the wardrobe’s wooden doors into Narnia.

Dark both in storyline and lighting design, the theatre’s production of C S Lewis’s allegorical tale earned the older recommended age suggestion the LPAC’s winter show normally advertises even more so than in previous years (with younger audiences catered for in the centre’s studio theatre production, this year Ready, Steady, Yeti!).


The production firmly found its footing when the children were treading the snowy  otherworldly realm and the dramatic scenes made use of the company’s trademark strength of its ensemble work.

The War Horse-esque, of the forest with knowledge older than time, depiction of Aslan, the transformative staging and the delightful light relief in Mr and Mrs Beaver contrasting with big murderous scenes featuring discordant music and the towering evil queen all combined to evoke the childhood imagination that was captured by Narnia when first reading the books.

Some, such as my five year old, may need to watch the scarier scenes from behind their mummy’s hand but many, including my seven year old and myself, will welcome the chance to immerse themselves in an alternate world where good eventually prevails, leaving its audiences looking sideways at their bedroom furniture again when they return home.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe runs until December 24th.  Visit www.lpac.co.uk to find out more.