Looking for something to do throughout February half term? Here are my “Top 5” list of activities for all the family in the South East.
THE COLD wintry weather we are having at the moment often results in some beautiful frosty mornings, which are perfect for a brisk walk in the country or for staying inside in the warm….but could you imagine what life would have been like if you were faced with temperatures not of -2 or -3 degrees Celsius, but up to -50 degrees? That was the challenge faced by the explorer Lawrence Oates back in 1912, when Oates and his team embarked upon their epic attempt to reach the South Pole in Antarctica. What is all the more remarkable is that men such as Captain Oates did not have access to all of the modern equipment which makes perilous expeditions such as this more likely to succeed.
Gilbert White & Oates Collection
Sadly Oates and his team did not survive their brave attempt but it is a fascinating story of courage in the face of adversity and for this inspiring reason my first choice is to visit The Gilbert White and Oates Collection in Selborne, Hampshire. Families are able to see footage of this epic journey; learn more about Oates, his team mates and the perils that faced them, including seeing what they would have had to eat and what equipment they would have had to use. You’ll be able to see how you would fare as the leader of an Antarctic adventure and try on some of the equipment that Antarctic explorers and scientists might wear today.
One of my resolutions this year is to use my bike more regularly. I love the feeling of cycling through country lanes on a sunny day and enjoy the freedom that it brings and being able to cover longer distances and explore new places. So my second choice is to choose a cycling holiday for the whole family from the New Forest to the Isle of Wight. The Carter Company provides special breaks to do just that, with all the cycles and equipment included together with accommodation included throughout the route. Even in late winter, the landscape around Hampshire and the island is beautiful. In the Forest there are plenty of cycle routes to follow, and a good selection of thatched country pubs to stop off for a hearty lunch. You can also see the delightful New Forest ponies as they graze on the heathland, as well as an abundance of other wildlife. This week includes two days on the Isle of Wight which is perfect quiet cycling territory, and great for relaxing with great coastline views.
The Story Museum
My third choice is to head to the Story Museum in Oxford which from this weekend Saturday 14th February has a whole week’s activities that are guaranteed to both entertain the children and enable them to learn something new. This year there are a series of “How To” workshops and events, carefully designed to appeal to all ages. The weekend starts with “How To Be a Daring Detective”, which as Oxford is the location for the fictional character Chief Inspector Morse of Thames Valley CID (who solved many a murder in the dreamy spires of the city in his time) is perhaps appropriate…. If however solving crime is not your favourite pastime, there are plenty of other activities to keep the family amused. Other highlights include How To Create Cool Cartoons and How To Write Super Songs but you will also find cooking workshops for the children, storytelling and even Teddy Bear Sleepovers!
Bucks County Museum
Those of you who have read my blogs before will know how fond I am of the author Roald Dahl. Having also lived in Buckinghamshire not too far from where Dahl spent much of his life, my fourth choice had to be the Bucks County Museum in my former home town of Aylesbury. Starting Monday 16th February for five days, there is a splendidly named Wondercrump Craft Activities in which you can discover what are described as Roald Dahl’s gloriumptious stories and make your own fizzpopping creations to take home….What’s more there’s no need to book. So if your children are looking to design a brilliant Matilda Book Bag, or even a Mugglewump Monkey, this is ideal for them to spend an afternoon out of the house.
New Forest Centre
My fifth and final choice brings me back to the New Forest Centre in Lyndhurst. Those of you who know your Chinese New Year traditions will be aware that 2015 is the Year of the Sheep! Therefore there is no better way to celebrate the forthcoming celebrations than with two Family Discovery Days at the Centre. On the 19th February there will be themed trails, quizzes and craft activities for all the family based on the Chinese New Year. Two days before on the 17th February another Discovery Day has the theme of Georgian Toy Dolls, a great way to find out about this period. You can also make a traditional cup-and-ball game.
Have fun and enjoy the half-term.
Blog written by Simon Frost