Oh Help! Oh No! It’s the Gruffalo

Where? You may ask. Where indeed…

Dear mummy, we visited The Moors Valley Country Park in Dorset over the weekend to join other little children on the Forestry Commission’s Gruffalo trail and we were a bit disappointed.

Oh No!

Luckily for us the company of NCT friends and families made it worthwhile for us and a very enjoyable jaunt into the woods.

The Gruffalo Trail Moors valley 2

We love the Gruffalo books and it’s always my first go-to book at bedtime so it’s nice to get the opportunity to met up with the Gruffalo in person.

It’s a cold cloudy January day and Moors Valley is very muddy. We’ve donned our wet weather gear and wellies. We’re all excited to see the Gruffalo and all the other characters out of the book. The Forestry Commission are hosting Gruffalo trails up and down the county at selected woods to celebrate 15 years of the Gruffalo books.

The Gruffalo Trail Moors valley 4

The Gruffalo Book is written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, that tells the story of a mouse, taking a walk in the woods and coming across creatures that want to eat him, he dodges their advances and evades capture by coming up with a make-believe monster (the Gruffalo ) that he is meeting for tea. After gloating to himself that there is no such thing as a Gruffalo he stumbles on one! Eek! Incase you haven’t read the book we won’t ruin it for you 😉 but is worth a read and based on a Chinese Folk tail of a fox that borrows the terror of a tiger.

The Gruffalo Trail Moors valley 5

The Gruffalo trail is only on until February 2015 so we decided to go have a look, shunning our nearest venue Alice Holt Forest to go further afield with friends. Unfortunately it wasn’t up to much, only one large carved Gruffalo greets us at the entrance to the trail. He’s seen better days! His paint is faded and there is a pool of mud at his feet which is treacherous for puddle jumping kids.

We spend the next hour walking around paths following way-finding signage which leads to…..nothing. No more giant creatures or climbing logs..just mud and more mud. Not much fun for a toddler. Luckily for me I had friends to play with.
The-Gruffalo-4Another thing which put a dampener on the day was the extortionate car parking rates and the cost of food in the cafe. We brought some of our own food and sat and had a picnic but remember to bring bags as there are no bins around. We’re going to head to Alice Holt next month to see if it’s any better. I’d love to see more characters from the book.

Love Bella x

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Quentin Blake and Friends at Mottisfont

Quentin Blake Exhibition at Mottisfont.

Mottisfont lavenderDear mummy, last Friday we visited one of our favourite haunts Mottisfont. For those that don’t know Mottisfont Abbey, it is a National Trust country estate situated just outside Romsey in Hampshire. It’s sheltered in the valley of the River Test and includes a large manor house which hosts art exhibitions, a winter garden, a walled rose garden and a river walk.

We’ve been in every season and Mottisfont is most spectacular in June when the roses are at full bloom.

Even in the winter months the large gothic trees and immaculate winter gardens are fabulous at Mottisfont. Today we are visiting to see the Quentin Blake exhibition.

Back of mottisfontIt’s a bright and sunny day and we arrived at 10am so we could enjoy the whole day here. We usually head around the front of the house and set up base camp, but today we are seeking shade at the back of the house. Mummy and Grandma laid out the blanket and had a cup of tea while I went to explore the great open space with my football.

The lavender smelt wonderful and the gentle breeze wafted a fragrance so delicate that you could just close your eyes and go to sleep. It was a super hot day and the breeze was a welcomed relief. I stopped from playing every once and a while to sit in the shade and drink my juice and eat the leftover crumbs of mummy’s bakewell slice acquired from Mottisfont’s lovely tearoom.

Baseball capSilly mummy had forgotten my sun hat today, but luckily for us Mottisfont has a great gift shop which sells everything you could possibly need for your little adventurer. We picked up a rather cute, hot pink kids baseball cap, which just about fit me. I loved it and wore it all day! Back to front, to the side like a hip-hop artist. I looked so ‘street’ all day! 😉

We went on a walkabout with my new sun hat and met a lovely gardener trimming the edging of the lawn and some very nice maintenance men climbing up ladders tending to the roof of one of the out-buildings. It’s getting hotter now in this midday sun so we duck inside to see the exhibition.

We’ve been to Mottisfont many times before and I remember dancing downstairs at the Snow Queens Ball. I know my way around the house and head straight for the stairs as the Quentin Blake exhibition is upstairs in the gallery part of Mottisfont.

Quentin BlakeMy mummy’s been waiting for months to see this exhibition. As a child she loved all the Roald Dahl books and the illustrations that Quentin Blake provided for these books. He too was a great storyteller. Through his pictures he brought the books to life for my mother.

Sir Quentin Blake was born in 1938, and is most famously know for illustrating children’s books by the likes of Roald Dahl and Joan Aiken.

‘Chocolate Celebration’ an illustration in watercolour and ink (above) for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory hung on the wall signed by Quentin Blake going for £4,750. Wow mummy that’s a real bargain!

My mummy’s favourite books he illustrated were The BFG, The Witches and The Twits. We weren’t disappointed by the exhibition, beautiful illustrations were on show for all to see and my mummy loved the trip down memory lane.

Quentin Blake Best of BuggiesOur favourite pieces by Quentin Blake at the exhibition were the Doughnut Machine, showing characters Arabel and Mortimer eating doughnuts. Also the ‘Best of buggies’, an illustration with pen ink and watercolour designed for a greeting card in 2008. We liked this piece because it shows a super-duper buggy with all it’s contraptions.

Some other notable children’s illustrators at the exhibition were, Oliver Jeffers, born in Belfast in 1977. Our favourite drawings of his was ‘Henry kept eating books’ from the Incredible Book Eating Boy published in 2006.

We liked Micheal Foreman and his fabulous Alice in Wonderland and treasure Island inspired watercolours. There were so many talented illustrators at this exhibition it was a real feast for the eyes! Even though I was a little bit small to fully enjoy this, mummy will read Roald Dalh books to me and remind me when I’m older that we visited Quentin Blake’s exhibition.

It’s well worth a visit, so much to see and do at Mottisfont both inside and outside.

The Quentin Blake exhibition at Mottisfont is on till the 14th September 2014.

Bella x