Our Dismaland Experience

Dismaland gift shop

Dear readers, I’m sure a lot of you have heard about the notorious Dismaland by now. (If you haven’t where have you been?!) It’s been all over the news, trending on Twitter and it’s the most talked about Modern Art show in … Continue reading

#LockYourLove

#Lockyourlove this Valentines Day

“Love is in the air, everytime you look around”

Dear mummy, I think that’s how the song goes?!? This week at Festival Place Basingstoke they are holding a very special event called #lockyourlove just in time for Valentine’s Day.

#Lockyourlove Festival PlaceHave you ever been abroad and seen padlocks on railings from tourists leaving their initials marked onto them? This is the idea behind #lockyourlove to leave your mark on a place and someone…

Festival Place is a huge shopping centre in Hampshire and they are offering shoppers the chance to ‘lock their love’ on a special heart sculpture in Porchester Square this Valentine’s Day.

Robin Jones at The Digital South.

Copyright Robin Jones at The Digital South.

This creative idea launched last week and is running until Valentine’s Day on 14th February, shoppers will be given the opportunity to personalise a padlock with a tribute to their loved one and attach it to the Festival Place heart.

Giant heart at Festval PlaceBy taking a picture of their padlock and sharing on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the #lockyourlove hashtag shoppers will also have the chance to win super duper prizes from Festival Place retailers including Nando’s, Giraffe, Wagamama, Build-A-Bear, Thorntons and The Perfume Shop. Sounds good right? Festival Place are really sharing the love!

Shoppers are also encouraged to share the love by donating to Festival Place’s chosen local charity, the Ark Cancer Centre, when they receive their padlock in centre.

Robin Jones at The Digital South.

Copyright Robin Jones at The Digital South.

The heart sculpture is a living art installation which is growing and changing everyday, the more people add their padlocks to it the more it comes to life. It was created by local artists Helen Dyne and Louise Hight, who met recently through All Our Own Crafts, a pop-up shop in Festival Place promoting local crafters. We popped in there before Christmas and wrote a post about this fantastic shop. We love how Festival Place is encouraging arts in the community and supporting charities.

Want to find out more about #lockyourlove campaign at Festival Place? Then visit www.festivalplace.co.uk or find them on Facebook and Twitter. But be quick it’s only on until Saturday 14th.

Lots of #lockyourlove

Bella x

Christmas at Mottisfont, National Trust

Christmas at Mottisfont, National Trust

“The Nutcracker”

Today king of mice, tonight king of dolls. Tomorrow… king of EVERYTHING!
-Mouse King

Dear Mummy, it’s December and we are looking for fun things to do in Hampshire over the Christmas period. As you all know we’re big fans of The National Trust and have been members now since I was born. Each Christmas Mottisfont hold a Christmassy wonderland in their grounds and the house. If you don’t know what or where Mottisfont is, then head over here to check it out and have a look at some of my past reviews.

Mottisfont GroundsThis year the Mottisfont NT team have put on a spectacular display, it’s theme is The Nutcracker, where toys and fun comes to life!

The Nutcracker is based on the book “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” by E.T.A. Hoffman. Russian composer Peter Tchaikovsky wrote the music for the ballet which it is now most famous for. Over the Christmas period families flock to see the ballet, but this year The Nutcracker story is being hosted a bit closer to home in Romsey, Hampshire at Mottisfont, National Trust until Jan 4th 2015.

We were lucky enough to go on the opening day and weren’t disappointed with the weather either. It’s a bright and crisp day, the last day of November 2014 and there is a chill in the air. We wrap up warm and put our wellies on, as it’s especially muddy at Mottisfont at present, you see they have some building works happening at the entrance to the estate. The National Trust are creating a super-duper visitors centre which will be opening this time next year! Looking at the plans on the way in, it looks fab – very modern and in keeping with its surroundings.

So there is a temporary wooden chalet with pretty fairy lights to greet visitors to Mottisfont. It’s very quaint. No ducks are out on the river, as it’s too cold! The large trees are all bear, their huge branches looking creepy like something out of ‘Sleepy Hollow’ I half expect a headless horseman to appear out of the large trunks.

The Cafe has been swapped around since we last visited, which is a shame as the dinning areas seem a bit more cramped and the queues for food longer. It could be because its busy today….We grab some yummy Christmas Cake, a kids picnic box and some warm soup and a jacket potato. My mummy dives into the cake before she’s had the soup! I, on the other hand, am quite content to be a fidget-bum and terrorise the rest of the dinners by weaving in and out of the chairs and creating havoc. It’s all a bit stressful to get all of us sat down and eating, and mummy and daddy take turns to feed themselves then me. An elderly group sit next to us and just stare.

Mottisfont's ChristmasAfter lunch we head outside to explore, running around like mad loons on the grass – and that’s just mummy. You see my daddy is still not well, he had pneumonia and don’t think he’s fully recovered yet, so walks around finding it hard to breath.

We head into the house and follow The Nutcracker paper guide and activities (the printed map is a suggested donation of £1 and is a good keepsake) We follow Clara and other characters from The Nutcracker around the large manor house. First we stop to see the enormous size christmas tree and wrapped presents – the baubles are larger than my head! My uncle, cousin and daddy sit on the carpeted floor and play with some of the old-fashioned toys laid out (it’s all very civilised) well…it was until I decided to have a mad 5 minutes, jumping around and dancing to silent music.

The Nutcraker at MottisfontWe head down the pretty lit corridor to the large wooden staircase and see Herr Drosselmeyer (a character out of the Nutcracker) directing visitors upstairs to the dream mechanical world of the Nutcracker. We play peekaboo through the banisters and I get scared of the large wooden puppets, we don’t have time to sit and craft paper puppets, so my mummy takes them home for us to do later.

The next room is filled with clear little boxes. Inside these boxes are little mechanical toys. They look super cute – but on closer inspection and when daddy pushes the red buttons on the side of the display cases – they come to life! I get scared instantly and look away. However, my mummy is in her element, pressing each and every one of those red buttons and enjoying the displays. The weird and wonderful automata are on show from the famous Cabaret Mechanical Theatre. We eventually walk through Mottisfont’s art exhibition rooms, where the Nutcracker story is projected through film, showcasing an exciting battle between the Mouse King and the toy soldiers, artwork and activities (we won’t tell you too much as we don’t want to ruin the surprise for you if you decide to go) but it’s awesome. Beautiful little lantern theatres reveal more of the story.

Bella at MottisfontWe’ve been inside the house for nearly half an hour, and as the sun is shinning we head back outside to find the ‘Land of Sweets’ in the courtyard, a cuppa tea and some Christmas presents from the gift shop.

My mummy decides that sticky fingers shouldn’t be inside a gift shop and after picking up several times and being told to put them back, I’m safely escorted from the premises by daddy. However I do mange to convince them to buy this cute little pack of jingle bells for the tree….well, they aren’t really for the tree! I take two out and frantically wave them up and down, making the bells ring around the courtyard, people stop and stare and they sound very christmassy – just like reindeer bells I think. It’s not long before I’m trading one for a chocolate coin off my cousin..yes I’m really that devious. My mummy peals the golden wrapper off it and I devour the chocolate coin – my first one ever! Now that my cousin and I have bells we ring them together creating even more noise – its such fun!

The Winter Garden at Mottisfont Holding hands we all head to the ‘Land of Snow’ in the Winter Garden to take in the beautiful art installation by Sarah Filmer. Glass and perspex snowflakes hand from the tree and sparkle in the winter sunlight. The sun is bright and low in the sky and the snowflakes twinkle when the wind catches them, we also see large mirrored snow geese swooping up to a large oak tree.

I have fun chasing my cousin around down the windy paths and through the gates, I get very muddy after falling over a couple of times. My mummy however, is not horrified by that – I mean whats a bit of mud eh? What she IS horrified by though is other visitors reactions and judgment to seeing me covered in mud *Shock* Horror* covering their expressions….come on guys! It’s only a bit of mud…haven’t you ever seem a muddy child! Jeeeeze!

Mottisfont WinterThe temperature has dropped and we ahead back to the courtyard where I play in the learning and activity room, colouring in a gingerbread man and sticking little gems on him, while daddy warms up. On returning outside I see my opportunity to check out this large puddle which has been playing on my mind. I wanted to play in it earlier, but didn’t have the chance.

Now mummy and daddy are having a rest drinking their tea and watching me from afar I jump in. The puddle covers my feet so I can’t see them anymore, mummy and daddy are talking and I can hear them discussing about whether I’m ok jumping in that large puddle and what happens if I………oh dear. I’ve fallen over. Right in the puddle. Right on my bum. Water seeping into my boots. Doh! Oh well, at least mummy and daddy have ANOTHER spare set of clothes.

Needless to say on the way out we dodge all puddles……

There is mist coming off the River Test, when we leave at 4ish, we’ve lost the daylight and the half-moon is out, I eagerly point at it shouting ‘mooooom’. Its cold. Real cold. My cheeks are rosy and my fingers are like little icicles. We all bundle in the car and head home. I sing loudly all the way home (much to the annoyance of mummy).

If you love the Nutcracker story…or just love Christmas, then this is the place for you. It really will capture your imagination.

We were most impressed by the time and effort that went into the creation and preparation of the Land of Sweets by Mottisfonts Craft Group….so well done! It really was appreciated.

We had a fantastic day. I’m sure these photos say it all!

Love Bella x

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

The Poppies at The Tower of London

The Poppies at The Tower of London

Dear Mummy, you were so glad you had an opportunity to go up to London last weekend and see the Poppies at The Tower of London before they were all taken down. You visited the major art installation ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ at the Tower of London, which marked one hundred years since the first full day of Britain’s involvement in the First World War.

The poppy installation progressively filled the Tower’s moat between 17 July and 11 November 2014. (extended until the end of November due to so many people wanting to see them) Famous people had visited the site too, including the The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, Prime Minister David Cameron, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Harry to name a few. They all planted a poppy and paid their respects. By the time it reached the 11th November the art installation was in full glory. Helicopters took pictures from the sky, it gained international coverage as the moat looked filled with blood, against the grey dull skies of London.

We started our adventure at London Bridge following the masses across The Thames, stopping to take quick photos as we’ve never been here before. It’s very crowded and we can see the Tower of London ahead, lots of people are looking over the railings to take photographs. People from all over the world have visited today to catch a glimpse of this historic art installation.

The Thames side of the Tower still has a sea of red filling its moat, however, on the city side, volunteers are busy at work carefully removing them, large wooden hoarding blocks the view from the city and queues of tourists fill the tube station and the roads.

 

Poppies at The Tower of London

We didn’t have time to see the installation in its full glory, all 888,246 ceramic poppies, created by ceramic artist Paul Cummins. It seems after Remembrance Day everyone is here to see them! It’s very busy and crowds are drawn to The Tower of London to see the splash of red. We saw the remnants of them, half of them had gone last weekend, but it was still an awe inspiration sight. Stage designer Tom Piper who designed the installation did a fantastic job! Creating a waterfall of poppies cascading down from one of the windows (The weeping window) and the big splash, as my mummy likes to call it (pictured). The potters at Paul’s Cummins studio used techniques which were utilised by potters during the First World War to hand-make (Yes HAND-MAKE!!!) every single one of them! Woweee Mummy that’s a lot of man hours to create all those poppies! A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into making those ceramic poppies, but it couldn’t even come close the sacrifices of the servicemen and women those poppies represented. You see each poppy represented a British military fatality during the war. Seeing them all in one place is truly shocking and sad, my mummy imagines the poppies as a sea of faces and gets scared to look at them for a time, brushing away her tears, while tourists were scrambling around her for a better view.

My mummy thinks it will be a sad day when the final one is taken out, however on the bright side these poppies have found loving homes with families across the world and they will be treasured like the people they represent. Berkshire cadet Harry Hayes, 13 “planted” the final poppy…She wonders who will be the person to remove the last one?

Tower-of-London

All of the poppies that made up the installation were sold, raising millions of pounds which were shared equally amongst six service charities. The BBC reported that it was thought the sales could raise in excess of £15m which is great news for the charities listed below.

Cobseo

Combat Stress

Coming Home

Help for Heroes

The Royal British Legion

SSAFA

The poppies encircled the iconic landmark and it was intended to reflect the magnitude of such an important centenary and create a powerful visual commemoration, even in all the hustle and bustle my mummy manages to bow her head in respect and take a time-out.

My mummy and Daddy are part of an estimated 5 million people who have seen the poppies so far..but don’t despair if you haven’t had the chance to see them! Thousands of poppies will go on tour before being permanently based at the Imperial War Museums in London and Manchester. So you may get a chance to glimpse and pay your respects.

For more information visit http://poppies.hrp.org.uk

A humbling day out.

Love Bella…..oh and Mummy & Daddy x

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall