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WycMum

Mummying around High Wycombe and beyond…

Make way for Miki at Norden Farm

It was the last weekend in November which can only mean we are THAT bit closer to Christmas – how exciting! On a cold but sunny Saturday morning, we were invited down to my favourite theatre, Norden Farm to watch their production of “Miki”. Along with theatre company Slot Machine, the lovely people at Norden Farm have brought the beautifully illustrated book by Stephen Mackey to life in the most colourful way possible.

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Photo credit: Luminous Photography

As soon as we sat down, I noticed all the kids were mesmerized by the set, intrigued at what lies behind the mountains and big lump of ice. As always, I will not ruin it for you and tell you the whole play – that’s your job to go see it. However, what I can say is that it took three actors to play it all out and there were so many characters and costume changes involved – I actually think they were shapeshifters – it was impressive!

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Photo credit: Luminous Photography

The music accompanied Miki in her deep sea adventure wonderfully and some of the characters were so funny (crab) and some slightly eerie (mama octopus) but it bound together in a sort of way only people who do children’s theatre understand and can make it work.

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Photo credit: Luminous Photography

Yara absolutely loved it and her love of theatre is growing as she begins to concentrate on the plot. It was a lovely gesture from the cast to pose outside for photos and for the kids to actually see the puppets. It’s this that I love about Nordern Farm – none of that pay X amount of money to pose for a photo with your favourite character from the play. They just get the cast out and get involved with the kids and parents really appreciate that.

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“Miki” is the centre’s Christmas showpiece and although it wasn’t a very Christmassy show, it brought an element of winter, ice and magic which puts you and your kids in the mood for snuggling up with a mug of hot chocolate and think about cold nights and Christmas adventures to come. Book your tickets quick as they’re selling out fast.

Petra x

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P-p-p-pick up a pumpkin at Crockford Bridge Farm

Half-term just before Halloween has to be the best time for lots of activities for the kids, and since it’s not freezing yet (OK, maybe it is a bit), you can have a good run around outdoors if the sun or clouds are out.

Last week, my mama friend Maria and our kids ventured beyond Buckinghamshire and into Surrey where we visited Crockford Bridge Farm. It came up after a quick Google search, with a pumpkin patch and a spooky woodland play. That’s Halloween all wrapped up in a day I thought. Tickets to the play were £10 per person, and that included entry into the pumpkin patch.

We arrived there at 11am and saw mountains of the orange stuff, it was a feast for the eyes (and Instagram). Lots and lots of kids were frolicking with all that squash and parents running after them, worried they might shove something into their mouths and come out with a rash. Our little ones were loving all the different types of pumpkins, munchkins and squash and the various scarecrows on display.

We then queued up for our turn to watch the spooky woodland play ‘The Wonder Woods’, which was all about finding ‘Queen Vanity’. I didn’t understand much of the plot but the set design throughout the woods was wonderful and the kids seemed to be having fun so I thought that was £10 per head worth investing in.

After a quick sandwich, the kids played around in the playground while Yara got her face painting done and then we went back to the pumpkin patch to choose some small pumpkins (they ain’t cheap!)

All in all, it was a great day out for the kids more than for the adults. Half term is a pretty chaotic time but if you’re willing to put up with the madness, then definitely head to Crockford Bridge Farm, particularly around Christmas as I believe they are having a Grotto in the forest! Start planning!

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Happy Halloween 🎃

Petra x 👻

*Trying* to get my child to appreciate ART

Since Yara started school last month, it’s been really difficult to update this blog. Learning to read and write has taken up most afternoons and weekends are spent running around swimming lessons and catching up with family and friends.

So when we were invited to spend the weekend at our friends’ house in Southwater near Horsham, we jumped at the opportunity to do some fun stuff.

My friends have 3 young boys so Yara had plenty to keep her entertained. On the Saturday, we went to a local art exhibition and the kids played with clay, had face paintings and got stuck in some colouring. I managed to buy a print for Yara’s room, made by artist, Tracie Callaghan.

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The next day, we headed to Petworth House, a stunning National Trust property with gorgeous autumnal grounds. But it was the inside of the place that took our breaths away. The Marble Room had one of the finest collections of Turner paintings in the country. I didn’t know where to look as everywhere I turned, a striking painting caught my eye. The kids were running around the place like lunatics and in order to appreciate it all, I had to take Yara aside, calm her down and I made her stand in front of one of Turner’s masterpieces known as The Egremont Seapiece.

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I asked her what she could see and describe the scene to me, what colours she liked and what she didn’t like. I was so surprised with how much detail she went into  – impressive for a 4 year old. Now, I’m no art expert and was not exposed to anything of the sort until I was about 10 years old…but I think talking to her about it ‘might’ encourage her to like it more?

We saw a couple of paintings by William Blake, which were lost on Yara but I thought they were nice – gives you a sense of his psyche at the time when painting them.

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We don’t have any artists in the family and I’m pretty damn sure she won’t be the next Picasso but if you can’t appreciate good art, then what’s the point of enjoying anything?

Watch this space for more art-inspired blog reviews, and if you have any tips on how to get your kids more into art, please share!

Have a great week everyone.

Petra x

The magnified and the magnificent at the Natural History Museum in Tring

As this is Yara’s last week before starting school, I wanted to make sure it was amazing and one she will hopefully remember. So when I got invited to the Natural History Museum at Tring to try out one of their ‘Magnify Minibeasts’ workshops for the kids, I was a bit skeptical whether it would have the WOW factor for Yara.

As we joined the group of kids and parents near a pond at the back of the museum, the staff began talking about what lives in the pond and how different insects can see differently to our human eyes. The kids got to paint a picture in fluorescent colours to show how dragonflies see. Anything involving paint gets the children interested. They also got to play around with different tools to see how insects view things. Yara was in her element and her brain was ticking.

The next activity was looking at a tray of pond water and fishing out different insects and figuring out what they were. Yara loved scooping up baby dragonflies and snails into the cup and looking closely at them. This was more than I had bargained for and educational too. You can’t go wrong with that.

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Our final task was going to the meadow nearby and trying to catch insects using a net. A great idea to let the kids run around and see what they could find. Yara and I managed to catch a few grasshoppers and one BIG cricket – it was such a laugh and so interesting too, even for me ( I was very proud of catching that cricket!)

After a quick bite at a nearby Costa (museum cafe was rammed), we went inside the museum and headed straight to their ‘Animal Vision’ exhibition. Yara was in there for ages looking at animal eyeballs, doing the touch screen questions and playing with all the bits on display. She absolutely loved it!

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All the different animal eyeballs – fin whale is the biggest

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The rest of the museum was filled with lots of animals and although it was busy with it being the summer holidays, we still managed to see everything. One of my favourite things was how Yara was able to name some of the more exotic animals – it goes to show how their brains are sponges and with the many activities the museum puts on, it helps expand their minds beyond the usual zoo animals we get to see.

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Look Yara, there’s something grumpy behind you!

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Hello deer

As I said, they have plenty of activities for inquisitive minds and we’ll definitely be going back there for half-term and see what else they can tap into Yara’s brain, whilst we all have fun and do something a bit different.

Have a great weekend and good luck to all those kids going to school next week!

Petra x

 

 

Sand, stories and puppets at Norden Farm

I had been meaning to visit Norden Farm for a long time but always get side-tracked. This time, nothing was in my way so I took Yara on a short trip to Maidenhead to this arts centre, dedicated to theatre, art, sand and play.

In the summer, they have a large sandpit for the kids to stick their toes in and make some serious mess – a giant canoe lies to the side to take their imagination beyond the grey skies over Berkshire. I must add that their cafe whips up the BEST coffee I have tasted and that says a lot – happy (and caffeinated) mama equals happy child.

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After a quick lunch of sandwiches, at a reasonable total cost of £10, we went into a small, twinkling den for storytime. The storyteller was a young man, dressed like a druid and was so animated in the way he spoke, the kids were giggling all along.

Right after that, we went into a theatre to watch the puppet show production of ‘Little Red Robin Hood’ run by the ‘Garlic Theatre‘. The place was spacious and simple and the production set looked modest at first but as the play went along, it became more elaborate.

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Little Red Robin Hood By Garlic Theatre. Photo by Robert Eke

I won’t ruin it for you but the play is based on little red riding hood, with a funny twist. Some young kids in the audience were scared and upset so don’t take your kids if they are prone to this as it is unpleasant for them, and the rest of the audience. The copy says ideal for ages 4-8 years and I would stick with that.

The great thing was that the main performer, Mark Pitman, brought out the puppets once the show was over, to help the kids understand the whole idea which is a lovely little gesture and my Yara loved it.

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After that, we quickly went to look at the art space which is so child-centred, it gets the 5 stars from me. Think of a tent with a dolphin installation video playing on the roof of said tent – simply mesmerizing! Just look below at some of the artwork, all created by little people.

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All in all, I know for sure we will be coming back to Norden Farm much more often, particularly as they will have the ‘Miki‘ play as their main Christmas production, based on the beautiful story by Stephen Mackey. We spent the whole day there and didn’t even notice the time fly by. Definitely go for a visit, you will be pleasantly surprised!

Petra x

The Toucan Box – the saviour for rainy days (plus details of how YOU can get your FREE box)

I signed up to the Toucan Box on a whim, whilst having lunch with my brother last week. Don’t ask me why but I put it down to the sheer amount of rain we’ve had recently and the fact that I’m not exactly the craftiest mum on the block, so how do I entertain my little person???

So, today Yara received her first Toucan Box and was shaking with excitement, ripping it open without exactly knowing its purpose. It just had her name on the front of the box and that was enough to send her into hyper mode.


We managed to make the first craft activity within 15 minutes – mainly me putting it together and Yara next to me, handing me stuff. It was a lovely bee made of wax and it was pretty easy for a novice. Yara loved playing with it for about 5 minutes but then she wanted to move onto something else.



There were a few activities in the enclosed booklet but they were a bit similar to the stuff you get in a nice pub or restaurant, when your kid is given a sheet of activities and crayons. I think from that side of things, there is room for improvement from Toucan.



In a nutshell, the box is tailored to your child’s age and is meant to entertain over a fortnight. For a small child, that’s a long time to wait. Would you agree? We signed up for the ‘petite’ box, which is enough material for one craft activity and that will cost £5.95 (including delivery) a month. I keep thinking if I nipped into Hobbycraft, it might be cheaper but like I said, I’m not the craftiest mama. We still had fun with what we had!

Fancy trying it with your kids? You can get your first box for free by using this link: shttps://www.toucanbox.com/friends/petra-9lii

Have a great weekend and stay out of the rain!

Petra x

We is in Roald Dahl country now

When the weather can’t decide if it wants to rain or shine (hello British weather!), there’s nothing better to do than to play it safe and take the little person in your life to a museum to keep them happy for a few hours.

Luckily, we were invited down to the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Great Missenden on Thursday (July 27), for a blogger event. It was all about the partnership between Roald Dahl and Mr. Kipling.

We were given a brief introduction about the museum and the life of Roald Dahl – the way he wrote and collaborated with illustrator Quentin Blake. One example is that Dahl sent his (giant) sandals to Blake to be used for illustration purposes for the ‘BFG’. Next time you pick up your copy of the book, look at BFG’s feet and the photo below.

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In life, Mr. Kipling and Roald Dahl were very different (one a baker and the other an author) yet they both shared their love of family. So the two brands have partnered up together to bring delicious Mr. Kipling baked goodies in special Roald Dahl inspired packaging – and it definitely keeps the children happy (and parents too)!

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Walking around the small museum felt like I was going back to my time in junior school, when our year group put on the ‘BFG’ play in 1991. It was even more interesting seeing it through the eyes of my daughter, Yara. She’s still very young (nearly 4 years old) to understand all the amazing books that Dahl wrote, but she asked many questions as we walked around the exhibits and she can now actually tell you what the ‘BFG’ stands for. It’s a good start.

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The museum exhibits reach out to adults and kids – lots of things to touch, to listen to, to watch…and how lovely it was to see the Writing Hut, where Dahl used to sit and write his stories – completely unchanged, with all the writing and smoking paraphernalia he used.

After a quick bite to eat at the café, we met up in a group as Director of the museum, Steve Gardam took us on a village trail. He pointed out some of the landmarks that inspired Dahl in his books – check out the Red Pump, which features in “Danny, the Champion of the World” and Sgt. Samways, also in that book, is actually taken from the name of a local convenience store near Great Missenden train station.

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By walking around the village, Dahl took the simplest pieces of information and twisted them into his tales and it makes you realize that often, we take for granted the smallest pieces of detail.

Back at the museum, we managed a quick look around the extremely well-stocked gift shop, which sells all the books, games, posters and toys that your child could wish for…and by that point, I had one hyperactive daughter like a bull in a china shop. Time to go. Thank goodness I had some Mr. Kipling cakes to keep me going on the drive back home!

Have a great weekend and don’t forget to keep a look out for my competition on Facebook (www.facebook.com/WycMum) to WIN a copy of ‘The Twits’, by Roald Dahl.

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Petra x

There’s more to Amersham than just the end of the Met line

Amersham Museum re-opened on Wednesday 12th July after extensive renovation work and we were one of the first few through the door that day!


Having never been to Old Amersham before, I was pleasantly surprised at how quaint the High Street was. Think lovely boutiques, cottages with beautiful front doors with hanging baskets and FREE on street parking. Great for when you have an excited kid and no coins in your pocket.


Amersham museum is tucked in between the posh boutiques and after paying my £3 entry fee (children go FREE) we wandered through the history of this little Buckinghamshire town. The building itself dates back to the 1400’s so lots to muse for the history buffs.


As for my little Yara, she was having a great time playing with a doll’s house which was actually manufactured by an old local toy company called Amersham toys.


A small herb garden and an upstairs level in the building which is set out like a tudor dining room kept us entertained for at least an hour.


The great thing was that kids can touch and play with everything and because it’s not a big museum, there was enough for the adults to read and keep an eye out on the children. A thumbs up from me!

After a quick bite in a local cafe, we made our way through a beautiful little garden near St. Mary’s church. The amount of talent that went into creating a masterpiece with flowers is beyond me! Who needs the Chelsea Flower Show?!!


A quick stroll to the River Misbourne and Yara and I found ourselves playing a stick race – throwing sticks into the river to see whose will be the fastest going along. It was so much fun, I actually felt like a kid again!


As my daughter starts preparing to go to school this autumn, this little afternoon out is a treasured memory for me and for her I hope. It’s a great place to visit, especially on a nice sunny day – just don’t forget to treat yourselves to some delicious ice cream 🍦

Petra x

Why the National Trust matters and why you should become a member

I am in no way, shape or form associated to the National Trust, apart from being a member. They haven’t asked me to do this and there’s no freebie for me for writing this.

However, I do want to make a point and I want you to listen.

If you’re a family with young children (or older even), my best advice to you is become a member of the National Trust.

Why I hear you ask?

Because you and your kids will never, ever forget it. Whether it’s beaches, woodlands or stately manor homes that you like, each and every one of the National Trust assets is breathtaking.

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All Saint’s Church on the Claydon Estate

And here’s the really interesting bit…by showing your children everything the trust has to offer, you are leaving them with a legacy. You are committing to a charity that aims to preserve as much as possible, of the beautifully restored properties and open spaces for future generations. They can’t do this without your membership.

In this modern world, we constantly see headlines saying children should play outside more. Well, us adults need some fresh air too and nothing quite beats a woodland walk or running across some of England’s beautiful coastlines.

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As a family, we now plan our weekends around National Trust properties and friends who have recently joined up are doing the same. The kids always learn something new and see a time when our ancestors lived a different life without technology – all the more to appreciate nowadays.

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The people who founded the National trust 122 years ago cared about this country’s heritage, and it is up to us as citizens to keep that dream going.

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And the final incentive? The cafes usually serve up the nicest scones with clotted cream and jam. Pair that with a hot cuppa and it’s happy days!

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Have a lovely weekend!

Petra x

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