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Village Art & Literature

Family fun in the holidays

Posted on July 28 2015 at 3:35:38 0 comments

Train boy

Hopwood-based artist Paula Hamilton tells us what’s on at Avoncroft.

It’s school holiday time! I was lucky enough to enjoy the holidays with my children when they were of school age, as I was a teacher at the time; but I do realise that for many there is the nightmare of finding child-minders or hoping granny and grandpa will be up for getting involved. 

I used to approach the school hols with some trepidation as well as relief. Relief that we could enjoy lazy mornings with prolonged eggy-bread breakfasts and watching cartoons in pyjamas; that I didn’t have to make three packed lunches for school each day; that we could be flexible and spontaneous about how we spent our days.

At the same time, let’s face it, for parents school holidays can also be pretty hard work! And for the first few days there is the adjustment of getting used to being around each other more and settling into a different routine.

I’m not sure if I ever managed this, but I guess the trick to fun school holidays is to keep kids busy but to allow enough down-time so parents don’t get worn out.

A brilliant local source of great things to do with the kids in the holidays is Avoncroft Museum in Bromsgrove. Those who have visited will know that Avoncroft consists of a collection of amazing rescued and rebuilt period buildings covering 700 years of West Midlands history.

And it’s all outside, so there are no hushed voices or worries about precious objects getting knocked over – it’s not that sort of museum. It’s a museum where exuberant youngsters can walk, skip or jump off their energy and at the same time get interested in history and hands-on activities.

Throughout the summer – from July 20 to August 28, 11am to 3pm – there are different activities each day, to suit children from five to 12 years old.

On Mondays it’s “Bricks & Sticks”, where traditional brick-making techniques are taught as well as making walls out of willow sticks and slimy clay (wattle & daub). Hands-on grubby fun! You don’t need to book, just drop in.

On Tuesdays there’s “Forest School” where children can learn a different outdoor activity each week, such as den building, making a campfire and cooking out of doors. 

On Wednesdays children can explore “Bad Bugs and Pond Predators” with an expert bug hunter, peeking under stones and pond-dipping in Avoncroft’s stunning pond.

Thursdays offer “Have-a-go Archery and Falconry”. No booking needed for this; just drop in and try out your skills with a bow and arrow. There will also be falconry demonstrations throughout the day, offering a chance to handle these amazing birds and have a go at flying them for short distances.

On Fridays there are “Traditional Games” where you can have a go at the sort of games children used to play, including stilts, bagatelle and hoop trundling.

Also on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11am–3pm, the Bromsgrove Society of Model Engineers will be running their Miniature Train – what child can resist for 50p a go? Pony rides also happen on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons at an additional charge.

And as a bonus, dogs are also welcome so you can take the family pooch along – on a lead. Water bowls abound. And there is a windmill that works!

When the family is exhausted by all this activity there is the historic, award-winning Edwardian Tearoom where home grown produce is used in the cooking, or you can take a picnic.

£48 will buy annual membership, which allows four people free entry to everything that Avoncroft has to offer (other than ticketed events).

Avoncroft can keep going with only five full-time staff, and lots of part-timers, because 150 volunteers help out in a variety of ways from site maintenance to historical re-enactments.

It’s easy to understand why so many people want to get involved as the environment is beautiful, set in wonderful Worcestershire countryside, with lots of wild life, new planting, the stunning historic buildings and lots of “life” going on. Check dates, times and rates at

Now I’m starting to feel a bit nostalgic for when my children were about to break up from school; I’ll have to wait a while for my baby granddaughter to be old enough to make clay bricks or learn about bush craft but we’ll certainly visit Avoncroft with her in a buggy as it’s a brilliant place for adults too.

However you spend them, enjoy the summer holidays!

Please get in touch if you would like me to write about an art event near you. Contact me via The Village or at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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