The Urban Guide to the Countryside
Edition

Muddy Herts Half Term Survival Guide Oct 2016

17 Oct 2016

It’s half term — hoorah!  And there’s loads on around Herts to keep the  smalls occupied and happy.  And what do happy smalls mean?  You’re doing a fabulous job.  So, bask in your own brilliance as a parent — or aunt, or uncle, godparent, grandparent, whatever — and keep ’em smiling!

Sat 22 Oct

If you’ve not discovered Isadora Moon (half vampire, half fairy) yet — and you’ve got small people of the right age — then do yourself a favour and bring ’em along to meet Harriet Muncaster, author and illustrator, for reading and crafts at Waterstones (St Albans 11am & Harpenden 2pm; also Welwyn 24 Oct 11am, Hitchin 26 Oct 3pm, and Barton-le-Clay Library 25 Oct 2.15pm).

isadora-moon-9

And carrying on the magical theme, it’s been 15 — I know! — years since the first Harry Potter film.  There’s loads going on, of course, at the Fifteenth Anniversary FILM Celebrations at Warner Bros Studios (15 Oct-4 Nov), with some Halloween bits thrown in for good measure.  Not been?  Now’s the time.

Or you can get outside, weather permitting, and head to the Pumpkin Festival at Willows Activity Farm (22-30 Oct).  Pick a pumpkin from the patch, and enjoy their pumpkin-tastic (sorry…) programme of family fun!

pumpkin-festival-willows-farm

Sun 23 Oct

Yes, it’s October — but that means it’s Celtic New Year.  What better place to spend it than the Celtic Harmony Camp near Hertford (23-29 Oct, 10am-4pm).  Get your Celtic thing on as you explore the Haunted Forest, make a broom stick, make magic coins, and burn your wishes and worries in the Samhain fire.  Loads more, too — but you’ll have to book in advance.

Mon 24 Oct

There are Halloween Crafts at the Bishop’s Stortford Museum this week (24-28 Oct, 10am-3pm).  Get spooky with a mask just in time for Halloween or Guy Fawkes.  There’s also a Halloween Trail there (24-29 Oct, 10am-8pm) with a chocolate treat if you make it round.

halloween-crafts

Still on the spooky theme, how about Halloween Crafts at the Ashridge Estate (24- Oct, 10am-4pm)?  There’s also a Halloween trail through the woods, which is always good on a dry day — although wellies are probably still the footwear of the sensible.

Book ’em into a Cookery Eatery Camp this half term and you won’t regret it.  They eat, they cook, they get all enthusiastic about eating seasonal and healthy stuff — and some treats, too — and they have a blast. Seriously, a day at Cookery Eatery changed how my son eats almost completely.  You’ll need to book — and you’ll thank yourself for it.

cookery-eater

Got a theatrical type in your house?  How about a Peter Pan Themed Drama Camp all week at the Gordon Craig Theatre?  Drama, music, singing, dance, art, the lot.  And then you get to see the finished performance at the end of the week.

Mini scientists might enjoy some Owl Pellet Dissection (ewww..) at the Natural History Museum in Tring (10.15am, 11.05am, 2.30pm and 3.20pm).  You’ll need to book, and the museum is always worth a look anyway.

Tue 25 Oct

Get juicy at the Natural History Museum in Tring with some Apple Pressing and Juice Tasting (25 & 27 Oct, 10.30am-3.30pm).  Drop in and press apples from local orchards as part of the annual Tring Apple Fayre.  Or you can set about making Apple Bird Feeders there, too, (25 & 27 Oct, 10.15am, 10.45am, 11.15am, 2.30pm, 3pm).  Something for our feathered friends.

apple-pressing

This one sounds super-sweet, too — a retelling of Aesop’s The Town Mouse and The Country Mouse at the Radlett Centre (2pm).  Plenty of fun and music and heartwarming loveliness.

Wed 26 Oct

Get spooked at Chenies Manor — the perfect setting for some Halloween hi-jinks!  They have two afternoons of Spooks and Surprises, with a specially adapted tour of the house, find your way through not one but two mazes, come dressed up if you dare, and have a fine old time exploring the house and gardens.  And all for just £8.50 adults/£4 children.

chenies

Glastonbabies  are back in town — and it’s Bear Fun at Rhodes Bishop’s Stortford Theatre (11am & 1pm).  A bear-themed bonanza with Bollywood dancing, a Bear Hunt, and even that naughty Goldilocks — oh, and bring your bear to share a picnic.

Who doesn’t love Winnie the Witch?  (Love her cat, too.)  Waterstones in St Albans has Winnie the Witch Story Time and Activities (10am) — with stories, songs and colouring.  Lovely.

winnie-the-witch

Check out The Big Draw: Our Big Bird is Back at the Natural History Museum in Tring (10am-4pm) and help them create a massive masterpiece.

One for older kids, this, I think.  The Haunting of Exham Priory at the Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead (8pm) sounds suitably scary — restoring an old priory revels all sorts of terrifying secrets….

haunting-of-exham

Take younger ones to something much less spooky — The Little Mermaid live on stage at the Spotlight Theatre in Broxbourne (2pm).  You know the story — mermaid, falls in love, loses tail and voice, gets legs and prince.  Happily ever after?  Probably…

Thu 27 Oct

What a peach!  Check out James and the Giant Peach at Watford Palace Theatre this week (27-29 Oct).  Roald Dahl’s gorgeous story, brought to life by the Hertfordshire County Youth Theatre.  It’s selling fast, though, so don’t wait to book!

jgp_city_no-title

Wanna get spooked?  Take your torch — and your nerves of steel — on a Halloween Ghost Walk (27-30 Oct & Nov 2) through High Barnet and Monken Hadley, the second most haunted village in England!  Suitable, they say, for ages 4-84 — although only you know how brave you and your little ones are. Prizes for best fancy dress, though…

Fri 28 Oct

Get arty with The Big Draw at the Courtyard Arts Centre, Hertford Museum and Hertford Theatre (28-29 Oct, 10.30am-3.30pm).  Two whole days of free (hoorah!) family art activities, linked between the sites.  Then they’ll be exhibiting the work to the public at Hertford Theatre on Sat 1 Nov, 10am -6pm.

hk-jewellery

More chance to get creative with a Jewellery Making Workshop at the utterly lovely Harriet Kelsall Jewellery near Halls Green (11am-12.30pm).  Reserve a place now: your little one gets to work with one of their uber-talented designers — and you get to have something lovely and a few minutes to yourself in their delightful coffee shop.  Result.

How about a bit of Beauty and the Beast at the Radlett Centre (11am & 2pm) to while away an hour or so?  You can learn the songs in advance on the company’s website, then join in on the day.

Or, for the slightly older ones, there’s always The Little Mix Experience at Rhodes Bishop’s Stortford Theatre, 28 Oct (2pm — or the next day at Spotlight Theatre, Broxbourne).  Seriously — you won’t be able to tell them from the real thing.  Assuming you know what they look like in the first place.

natural-hist-museum-by-torch

Explore the Museum by Torchlight at the Natural History Museum in Tring (5-8pm).  Dress up and bring your torch along for a spooky time in the galleries.

Sat 29 Oct

Check this out: Groove is in the Heart presents a Frightfully Fantastic Halloween Spooktacular.  Get your groove on for an afternoon of clubbing with the kids (2-4pm) in Hitchin.  Fancy dress optional — although you would, wouldn’t you?

No lie, The Curious Adventures of Pinocchio will be at the Old Town Hall in Hemel Hempstead (11am & 2.30pm).  Patrick Lynch from CBeebies will be turning the pages and bringing the story to life.  You’ll have a whale of a time!  (sorry…)

joseph_and_the_technicolour_dreamcoat

I closed my eyes…. drew back the curtain…. and what did I see?  Joseph and The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat at Hertford Theatre, (29-30 Oct).  C’mon, sing along now…  Far far away… Love it.  Always have, always will.

For the littlies, there’s always Peppa Pig’s Surprise at the Alban Arena (29 & 30 Oct).  A brand new live show — Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig have, you’ve guessed it, a surprise for Peppa and George. Lots of jolly singing and snorting.

mrs-armitage

More shows to enjoy at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans (you know, the one down the hill), with Ga Ga Theatre’s adaptation of Quentin Blake’s fabulous Mrs Armitage and the Big Wave. Surf’s up!

Sun 30 Oct

Finish off half term with some truly spooky goings on at the Haunted Halloween! Hemel Hempstead’s Old Town High Street is the place to be — brave the ghost train and some freaky fairground rides, or maybe you’ll bump into one of the Old Town Ghosts…  A spooky street party with all the ghastly trimmings, as well as a spook-tacular firework display in Gadebridge Park.

Stampa

Stampa

Or, at the other end of the county, how about the Grim and Gruesome Guided Walk through Bishop’s Stortford?  Bet you didn’t know about the grisly past in that neck of the woods.  Mwahhhh ha ha…

Had enough Halloween already?  Check out the Big Fish Little Fish Family Rave at the Spotlight Theatre in Broxbourne (2-4pm).  A multi-sensory dancefloor experience with top DJs, club lighting, free glowsticks, bubbles, glitter cannon, huge balloons and a giant parachute dance finale.  Then there are temporary tattoos, a giant mural to colour in and a chance to make dance floor accessories. There’s even a chill-out space for tired toddlers.

And one more chance to join in with The Big Draw: Horrible Science, this time in Hatfield’s Weston Auditorium (2pm) — and with a distinctly scientific slant.

pumpkins

Then, my lovelies, they’re back to school.  Send ’em off with a smile — then kick back and carve a pumpkin ready for Halloween night…

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside -
Hertfordshire Edition