Muddy Herts Half Term Survival Guide Feb 2015
Half term. Ah, a whole week of no school runs, no packed lunches, no PE kits. Oh, hang on a minute. A whole week of the children? At home?
Welcome to the very first Muddy Herts Half Term Survival Guide. It’s time to find some lovely things to do with them – and some even lovelier things for them to do on their own. There’s plenty to do, whatever the weather, but don’t leave it too late to book your little darlings on to an activity or two. You wouldn’t them at home all week, now, would you?
The great outdoors
If the weather’s nice, the National Trust estate at Ashridge is always a good choice. It’s free, there’s lots of parking, and it is beautiful up there. Oh, and the cafe up there is brilliant – proper mugs of tea and scones as big as your head. They do a stonking breakfast, too, if you’re up and about early. The Spring Trail up there starts from Monday 16 Feb, and just £1 will get you a guide to take you on a good walk through the woods – with lots of things to look for that will keep the littlies interested.
Aldenham Country Park always has lots to keep them busy, too, and they’re holding Arts and Crafts days throughout halfterm. Lots of cutting and sticking at the farm, alongside all the usual pony rides, tree climbing, animals to pet, and the farm to explore.
It’s lambing time at Willows Farm and so there’s lots of sheepy fun to be had at their February Frolics Lambing Event. Watch the lambing, bottle-feed the little blighters, do some woolly arts and crafts, all that sort of thing. There are also family shows and lots of indoor play if the weather’s not so great.
Raining? Let’s go to the museum!
It’s all about superheroes over at the Mill Green Museum near Hatfield – make superhero masks on Tuesday, superhero costumes on Wednesday, and clay models of superheroes on Thursday. You don’t need to book, there are lots of sessions throughout each day, and it’s just £3 a go.
The Natural History Museum at Tring always has some great, reasonably-priced activities on the go – inside and out — and the museum itself is always worth noodling around (and it’s free). On Mon 16 and Tues 17, there are half-hour craft workshops at 10.15, 10.45, 11.15, 14.30 and 15.00 for your over-fives to make their own Funky Photo Frames for just £1.50. They’ll also be building Bird Boxes at series of one-hour workshops throughout Thu 19 Feb (10.15, 11.15, 14.30 and 15.30). There are spaces to make eight boxes in each workshop, and tickets in advance are £8.
Bit further away, but the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford is putting on some lovely animal-based half-term activities – learn about how humans and other animals make themselves at home with their ‘Home Sweet Habitat’ crafts, object-handling and family-friendly talks. There are family trails and so on to explore in the rest of the museum, too.
Albert Street Community Arts Education Centre in Tring is going all pirate stylie for half term – there are all sorts of arts and crafts workshops throughout the week, making things and storytelling, aimed at different age groups from 2 to 12.
Little ones in or near Hitchin would definitely enjoy a visit to the Secret Garden. There are all things going on next week – crafts, singing, playing, the lot. And they have a cafe – oh, and some lovely things for grown-ups, too. Result.
Up and at ‘em!
Need to get them off the sofa? Sapphire Gymnastics in Hemel Hempstead is offering morning holiday classes all week: 10.30am-12pm for just gym, or they can bring a packed lunch and stay until 2pm doing crafty things as well. Westminster Lodge in St Albans is offering sports camps all week, so the little blighters get to try out all kinds of different activities and come home thoroughly pooped.
The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead is offering skiing lessons for kids next week, too, over two days: either Mon-Tue or Wed-Thurs, with hour-long lessons for 4-6 year olds, and 2-hour lessons for 7-16s. They have a café-bar there, too, where you can sit and watch the action on the slopes. Not quite après-ski, but a coffee in the warm while they’re out on the snow sounds like plan.
Learning is fun…
Get this, you could get your children (age 5-11) learning to cook this half term – when you pick them up, they actually bring food home with them! Cookery Eatery in Hitchin is running Cookery Capers Day Camps at Hitchin Boys School throughout the week (9am-5pm, 16-20 Feb). There’ll be trips to the supermarket, ingredient talks, special visitors, kitchen skills and lots of cooking and tasting. There’s no need for a packed lunch, and they’ll be heading home with a loot bag of baked treats and other goodies. Result!
Shoot Me Studios in Berkhamsted are running two one-day courses for tweens and teens this half term. Mon 16 is their movie-making course, a day learning about video, and Tue 17 repeats their brilliant photography course that my eldest enjoyed so much when he did it. There are a few places left, but they’re booking up fast.
The Royal Insitution in London is putting on some great family-friendly events during half term. Some are sold out already, but this one on the Periodic Table should appeal to your young scientists. Jamie Gallagher, science communicator, and Helen Arney, singer and self-professed geek, will take them on a guided tour of science’s most recognisable poster – with all its explosions, poisonings, space travel and novelty Victorian parlour games. The talk starts at 6pm and tickets are £12 / £6 concessions.
If dinosaurs are more their thing, the Alban Arena is hosting Dinosaur Zoo Live – direct from the West End, no less – on Thu 19 Feb. Be prepared for dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes up on stage – and not just the ones you all know, either, but the likes of dryosaurs, austrolovenator (which sounds like something else entirely) and leaellynasaura. You can then stay around afterwards for a ‘meet and greet’ with them afterwards. It’s suitable for ages 3 and over, and has had some wildly enthusiastic reviews.
…and fun is fun, too!
See in Chinese New Year — it’s the Year of the Sheep, apparently — with activities and crafts at the Leaf Café in Hertford on Saturday 21 Feb, 10.30-11.30am. Elinor Greenwood, writer and Chinese teacher, will be there, helping your little ones write Chinese characters, work out their Chinese names, make New Year’s cards and so on.
If you have some over-five Frozen fans at home, Tea Time Events has the perfect thing to keep them happy for three whole days (16, 17, 20 Feb). Their Frozen Princess Camp will be full of cake decorating, planning tea parties, enjoying stories, decorating cakes and so on – with a tea party for parents on the last day, where they serve you tea, as well as entertaining you with singing and dancing. It’s going to be sweet.
There’s a whole heap of arty-crafty fun going on at Dot to Dot Gallery in Letchworth all week — Valentine making, desert island crafts, junk modelling on pancake day, Chinese printing, and activities based on King Midas to keep them good as gold (did you see what I did there? Sorry).
Head over to Stockwood Discovery Centre in Luton for their Feb Fest: Bubble Disco on Tue 17 Feb. There are two sessions, 11.30am and 2.30pm, and it just sounds like a blast – showing off their funky dance moves on a dance floor filled with bubbles and balloons. It’s free – hoorah! – but you do need to book ahead.
The circus is in town at Frosts Garden Centre in Woburn Sands. John Lawson’s Circus will be there, and they’re doing 4 hour-long shows a day from 14 to 20 Feb. You’ll need to book tickets (£6.99) in advance, and it’s suitable for all ages. If you’re at Frosts between 16 and 22 Feb, your little ones can also get creative painting a wooden bird box, ready to take home and hang it in the garden. It’ll take about 25 minutes, and tickets are just £5.99.