The Urban Guide to the Countryside
Hertfordshire Edition

The Muddy Half Term Survival Guide Feb ’16

3 Feb 2016

It’s half term already.  I know, it’s hard to believe.  Five minutes ago, we were picking bits of tinsel out of the carpet – now it’s time to figure out how to keep the little darlings amused for a whole week again.

mg ht children
Lucky for us, there’s loads of fun stuff going on across the county and beyond.  Indoors, outdoors, crafty, sporty, musical, you name it.  So, my lovelies, get planning.  Busy kids are happy kids, right?  Or ready for early nights, at the very least…

Sat 13

February Frolics, Willows Activity Farm, St Albans, 13-21 Feb, 10am-5.30pm

Loads going on, as always, at Willows Farm.  And February means lambing – live lambing daily, bottle feeding, woolly arts and crafts, and family shows.

Oliver, Hertford Theatre, 11-12 Feb, 7.30pm & 13 Feb, 2.30 & 7.30pm

Ok, hands up who knows the words to all the songs?  This production by a nationally acclaimed youth musical theatre company is kicking off half term at Hertford Theatre.  Right, sing along now: “consider yourself…. at home…. consider yourself… la la la la la….”

cambridge e-luminate

e-Luminate Cambridge Festival 2016, 12-17 Feb

Check out ephemeral light installations all over Cambridge with the e-Luminate festival.  Given the huge number of gorgeous buildings there are to play with the in the city, it’s likely to be properly lovely.

Family Fun Time: Enter the Monkey with Vincent the Vain, 13 & 20 Feb

Get your Chinese Year of the Monkey off to an ooo-ooo-ooo-ing start with all sorts of simian stories – brace yourself for monkeys galore – at Leagrave Library and Marsh Farm Library on Sat 13 Feb, or at Luton Central Library and Stopsley Library on Sat Feb 20.  Happy New Year!

tortoise and the hare harlow playhouse

The Tortoise and the Hare, The Playhouse, 13 Feb, Harlow, 2pm & 4pm

You know those gorgeous danced version of fairy stories on CBeebies?  Well, Northern  Ballet do those – and they’re bringing their latest offering, The Tortoise and the Hare, to Harlow Playhouse.
Bound to be lovely, and only 40 minutes long so perfect for little people’s attention spans.

Stories to Tell, The Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead, 13 Feb, Songwriting Workshop, 10am-5pm & Concert, 8pm

This sounds brilliant for any older kids you might have or know – an all-day acoustic song-writing workshop, exploring lyrics and music, form, melodies, instrumental parts and backing vocals.  Then, in the evening, Pete Churchill, Mishka Adams and Ben Barritt – who’ll have been leading the workshop – will perform a concert telling the story of the “Stories to Tell” project.

cambridge space centre

Cambridge Science Centre, Cambridge, 13-21 Feb

Got a small scientist on your hands?  The first weekend of half term, there’ll be engineers at the Cambridge Space Centre to talk spacecraft, rovers, and exploring other planets. Lots of activities and hands-on bits to get you properly stuck in.  For the rest of the week, the scientists will be helping you learn more about searching what the other worlds they’re hoping to find might look like.

Sun 14

Boy Meets Girl, Arndale Centre, Luton, 14 Feb, 11.30am, 1.30pm & 3.30pm

Not quite sure how to describe this one.  Theatre?  But it’s in the mall.  Dance?  Yes, but it’s sort of theatre.  Music?  Yes, but it’s like a silent disco in that you have headphones.  Boy Meets Girl is all about luuurrve – and you get to listen in to the thoughts of the two characters (Boy and, er, Girl).   Sounds cool and definitely something different.

Family Dance Workshop, Stockwood Discovery Centre, Luton, 14 Feb, 2.30-3.30pm, & 17 Feb, 11.30am-12.30pm

Get your groove on, family-style.  Join in a family dance workshop with movement games, imaginative adventures, original music – and then a bubble disco to finish it all off!  Neat museum and great outdoor playground there, too, and a not-half-bad cafe.

Mon 15

cookery 5

Cookery Capers Camp, 15-19 Feb, Hitchin Boys School, 9am-5pm

My eldest has done one of these camps and it rocked.  They’re great – and you don’t even have to pack a lunch.  The kids (4-11yo) have a series of food adventures, cooking and eating three meals – and coming home with ideas, recipes and a whole new enthusiasm for trying new things.  Really.  My fussy 12 year old eats eggs now – and knows how to cook them.  You’ll need to book – email info@cookeryeatery.co.uk for more info.

Adventurous Activities, Green Park, Aston Clinton, HP22 5NE, 15 Feb, 8.45-4pm

Get active and outdoors (fingers crossed with the weather) at Green Park — if you’ve not been, check it out.  Sign ’em up to try out 4 of the many activities offered there, from High Ropes to Archery.

maltida 2

Matilda-themed drama camp, Gordon Craig Theatre, Stevenage, 15-19 Feb, 10am-4pm Mon-Thu, 9am-12pm Fri

Oh, I love Matilda.  And if you’ve got a budding performer who does too, this week-long drama camp (6-12 years old) looks brilliant. And you get to see what they’ve been working on at the end of the week.

Awesome Archaeology, Wrest Park, Luton, 15-19 Feb, 11am-4pm

Get your little ones digging in the dirt on a mini archaeology dig.  Who knows what they might find?  Hidden treasure?  I hope so.

peanuts movie

The Peanuts Movie (U), Hertford Theatre, 15, 17, 19 & 27 Feb, 10.30am

I loved this movie.  It’s sweet, completely without any nasty bits, and a real down-memory-lane road trip. My  kids loved it, too.  Great chance to catch it and enjoy some old-school loveliness.

Make a Pencil Case, Welwyn Roman Baths, 15 Feb, 2-4pm

Not sure the Romans had pencil cases – but who knows?  You can make your own one at the Welwyn Roman Baths, though, complete with a Roman Centurion to guard the contents!

Incredible Icarus, Verulamium Museum, St Albans, 15 Feb, 10.30am & 2pm, and Paper Mosaics, 15 Feb, 2-4pm

Want even more Romans?  Check out Incredible Icarus in St Albans – hear the story of his escape from the labyrinth, then make your own labyrinth game and an embellished picture of our hero.  Stay on a bit longer and make a fab mosaic to take home with you.

minpins roald dahl

The Minpins, Royal Festival Hall, Monday 15 February 2016, 12pm

This sounds amazing.  Roald Dahl’s story of The Minpins, told by a narrator, is set against the music of Scandi composer Jean Sibelius – while the classic illustrations are animated and projected above the orchestra.  The story tells of a small boy, riding on a magic swan, defending a race of tiny forest people against a fire-breathing monster – and the music, particularly Tapiola, echoes the enchanted forests of Scandinavian mythology.

Tue 16

Bushcraft Skills, Green Park, Aston Clinton, 16-18 Feb, 8.45am-4pm

Different things to do each day — den and fire building, survival skills, navigation, that sort of thing. Sounds like a blast for budding Bear Grylls types.  And then you can just let them fend for themselves.  (Kidding… I’m kidding…)

Monkey Masks, Natural History Museum at Tring, 16 & 18 Feb, 10.15am, 10.45am, 11.15am, 2.30pm & 3pm

Monkey around at the museum in celebration of the Chinese Year of the Monkey with these craft workshops.  And have a rootle round the brilliant, unusual museum while you’re at it.

chinese new year

Once Upon a Time…, Hertford Museum, 16-18 Feb, 10.30am3.30pm (last entry 3pm)

Join the good folk at Hertford Museum for National Storytelling Week – with stories from their collection, which includes mummified hands and feet (ewww).  Lots to discover.

Family Fun Activities, Mill Green Museum, Welwyn, 16-18 Feb, 10am, 11.15am, 1.15pm & 2.30pm

Keep your crafty little monsters happy at Mill Green Museum.  Tuesday, they can make monster masks.  Wednesday, it’s a monster puppet.  And Thursday, it’s clay monster models.  Neat little museum to look round while you’re there, and just a bit off the beaten track.  There’s tea, coffee and hot choc, too.

mad hatter tea party

Alice in Wonderland, Inn on the Park, St Albans, 16-17 Feb

Step through the Looking Glass with lots of Wonderland-themed goings-on at Inn on the Park.  Decorate cupcakes, pin the smile on the Cheshire cat, get craft-Mad with the Hatter, that sort of thing.

Half Term Hols, Full Time Fun, Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead, 16 & 17 Feb

A whole heap of arts – dance, crafts, storytelling – all crammed into a morning of fun for you and your 5-8 year olds.  Learn a performance-ready routine, then mix stories and crafts together.  Places are limited, so you’ll need to book ahead.

gruesome gorgon workshop verulamium

Gruesome Gorgon, Verulamium Museum, St Albans, 16 Feb, 10.30am & 2pm

Get up close with Medusa and her horrible hair and stony stare – then make a Medusa mask and a Greek shield to hide behind.  Good for 6-11 year olds, and you’ll need to book in advance.

Beauty and the Beast, Rhodes Theatre, Bishop’s Stortford, 16 Feb, 1.30pm

Get that princess dress out – it’s interactive Disney time!  Join beautiful Belle and her beastly Beast – with characters from the film entertaining you before you go in – as well as a fancy dress competition for boys, girls and grown-ups (no pressure…), as well as the screening itself.

chris and pui show

The Chris & Pui Show, Spotlight Theatre, Broxbourne, 16 Feb, 11am & 2pm

It’s lovely Chris and Pui from Cbeebies!  They’re just so sweet, the pair of ‘em.  And it’s not just them – it’s Tom, Momo, Teddington, Stuffy and Miss Mouse from Show Me, Show Me as well.  Bring a toy along, too, to enjoy the fun.  Wave your teddies, kids!

Wed 17

Creative Garden Fun, Knebworth House, 17-19 Feb

Get those little fingers green – or at least a little bit muddy – with some fab new activities in the gorgeous gardens at Knebworth House.  It’s aimed at 4-10 year olds, and it’s a chance to explore the gardens before they open for the season, as well as learning all sorts of new skills.  They can make a ‘magic pencil’ – or create a ‘beautiful home for beautiful creatures’ to help house friendly bugs – or do both.  You’ll definitely need to book – and you can book lunch at the Tea Room, too.

Arion and the Dolphins, Verulamium Museum, St Albans, 17 Feb, 10.30am & 2pm

More fun at the Roman museum – only it’s a Greek myth this time (not one I’ve heard of, either) and a chance to create a colourful Dolphin mosaic to take home with you.

Egg and Spoon, Rhodes Theatre, Bishop’s Stortford, 17 Feb, 11am & 1pm

This is theatre for the very young – 1-5 year olds – and it’s all about joining in.  You get to settle into comfy cushions and get properly hands-on with Egg and Spoon.  Run the through rain and falling leaves, sleep under the snow, let the sun wake you up for a butterfly party.  Sounds very gentle and very lovely.

egg and spoon

Twilight at the Museums: Science in the Dark, Cambridge Science Centre, 17 Feb, 4.30-8.30pm

More science malarkey.  Get going on some hands-on science in the dark with shows, demonstrations and workshops all about light and astronomy, lit by torch-light.  Or get there earlier in the day and make a spectrometer to analyze starlight.

The Peanuts Movie (U), Spotlight Theatre, Broxbourne, 17 Feb, 12pm, 2.30pm

Couldn’t make it to Hertford?  You can catch Snoopy and the gang in Broxbourne instead.

How to… draw, Lowewood Museum, Broxbourne, 17 Feb, 10.30am-12pm, & How to… use colour, 1.30-3pm

Get your children in touch with their arty selves at these two workshops at the Lowewood Museum in Broxbourne.  Apparently, if you can draw a triangle then you can draw a chicken (although I’m not convinced I can do either), and then learn about how to use colour to bring that chicken to life (metaphorically, obvs) in the afternoon.  You’ll need to book, and it’s aimed at 7s and over.

Children of Eden, Radlett Centre, Radlett, 17-20 Feb, 7.30pm & 2.30pm Sat

This one’s all about the conflicts between parents and their children – so… perfect for the school hols.  But here it’s Adam, Eve, Noah and the Father (capital F).  Sounds a bit different.  And a message in there along with it – all about the hardest part of love being letting go.

bird box making

Bird Boxes, Natural History Museum at Tring, 17 Feb, 11am, 2.30pm & 3.30pm

Be kind to your feathered friends by building them a box to nest in.  It’s National Nest Box Week during half term (you didn’t know…?), so it’s perfect timing.  And the museum (free – it’s free!) is always worth a visit.

Thu 18

Count Duckula & the Jewels of Duckula, Rhodes Theatre, Bishop’s Storford, 18 Feb, 2pm

Remember the kids’ TV, er, ‘classic,’ Count Duckula?  Well, you can watch it live on the stage for *gasp* the very first time this half term.  Duckula is facing ruin – can’t pay his bills – so it’s a race to find the hidden treasure that will save him.

star-wars- the force awakens hertford theatre

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (12A), Hertford Theatre, 18 Feb, 10.30am

Grab your light sabres, Star Wars people!  If you’ve not seen it yet (I have – but only under duress) or if you have seen it and just have to see it again, here’s your chance.  Just £4 a ticket.  Beat that, multiplex!

Cookery Capers Camp, St. Christopher’s School, Letchworth Garden City, 18 & 19 Feb, 9am-5.30pm

If you can’t make the one at Hitchin, there are 2 days of Cookery Eatery camps running in Letchworth, too.  Do it.  Your kids will, quite literally, never eat the same way again.

Fri 19

railway children harlow playhouse

The Railway Children, The Playhouse, Harlow, 19-21 Feb

Oh, remember this?  All those cut-glass accents and waving at trains with bits you’ve ripped off your petticoat?  Young Jenny Agutter in a pinafore?  Well, it’s on stage – no Jenny Agutter, though – this half term, and it sounds like a brilliantly old-fashioned family treat.  It’s the last weekend of the hols – don’t run out of steam!  (Sorry…)

Tring Park Adventure and Den Building, Natural History Museum at Tring, 19 Feb, 10.15am and 2pm

One of the brilliant things about the museum in Tring is that it’s practically next door to – well, over the bridge from – Tring Park.  (Not been there?  It’s great.)   Get your kids (5+) their fresh air with a 2-hour activity session – playing in the woodland and building their own dens. And it’s free – although you will need to book in advance.

i-believe-in-unicorns
I Believe in Unicorns by Michael Morpurgo, Royal Festival Hall, 19 Feb, 11am

This sounds gorgeousA Morpurgo tale about the power of books and the excitement of meeting the Unicorn Lady.  It’s on as part of the Imagine children’s festival, but it’s been touring for a while now.  And you’re invited to take along a favourite children’s book (one you’re prepared to part with) for the book swap that’s part of the show.

Mountain Bike Mayhem, Green Park, Aston Clinton, 19 Feb

Great mountain bike trails at Green Park — huge grounds — so here’s a chance for your cyclists to brush up on their maintenance and bike skills before improving their riding skills across all sorts of terrain.  3-hour sessions, either am or pm — and just £25 a go.

Sat 20

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (12A), Spotlight Theatre, Broxbourne, 20 Feb, 11am + 2pm

Need yet another Star Wars fix?  Here you go.  And tickets are just £3.  Bargain.

pan - old town hall

Pan (PG), Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead, 20 Feb, 11am

I quite fancy this one myself – the trick will be persuading some small folk to join me.  It’s the story of how Peter became Peter Pan (so, pre-Wendy and the one in the hat and the one with the bear) – with Peter and Hook working together (what?) to battle a ruthless pirate played by (oh my…) Hugh Jackman.

Peppa Pig, Watford Colosseum, 20-21 Feb

*Snort*  It’s Peppa, George, and all their little animal friends, on stage for lots of piggy fun.  Of course, Mummy and Daddy Pig are there to keep an eye on things – and they’ve got a surprise for Peppa and George. *snort*

peppa pig watford colosseum

Mister Maker, Gordon Craig Theatre, Stevenage, 20-21 Feb

Mister Maker will be getting all arty-crafty on stage in Stevenage in his very first live theatre tour.  Don’t know if he’ll be arriving in that little van, though….  Lots of making and doing.  Some songs to sing along to.  And, yes, the dancing Shapes.

Sun 21

Put your feet up.  It’s been a long week – and they’re back to school in the morning….

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside -
Hertfordshire Edition