Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Art for Youth North

Next week sees the return of Art for Youth North, a bi-annual selling exhibition of contemporary, affordable art from established artists that also raises money for a very worthy cause.

With more than 600 of works on sale, there will be plenty to choose from including paintings, etchings, ceramics and sculpture. Prices range from £100 to £2000 but there is also a mystery sale where you purchase a postcard size artwork for £30 with the artist only being disclosed once you've bought your art. It's a chance to own a piece of art for a fraction of its real value.

Artists exhibiting this year include Emily Sutton, whose work I love. Others include Malcolm Ludvigsen, Julia Burns, Bridget Gillespie, Sue Moffit, Christine Pybus amongst others.

The charity UK Youth will receive 30% from the art sold.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Cycling the Solar System

Although we live in such a great place for walking with kids, it's not always easy to find safe cycle paths where they can really take off without the worry of traffic. There is Dalby Forest which has a good family cycle trail plus a lovely cafe to have refreshments in afterwards.

A couple of  weekends ago we tried out the Solar System Cycle Ride in York which runs along the old East Coast mainline railway. The ride is a 12-mile round trip and starts at the sun, ending at Pluto. The distances between the planets is to scale so the gap between some is smaller than others. The boys really enjoyed it. There is a bit of information at each planet too.

We parked our car at Askham Bar park and ride and there is a cycle lane just across the road that leads you to the cycle trail. There are pubs on route for refreshments and there is also a little cafe at Naburn although you would need to check for opening times in the autumn and winter months.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Catching up with a few more ideas

I am back with a quick update before we head off again to North Norfolk for a bit of beach life. But before I go here's a quick roundup of what's on in the next week:

The North York Moors Chamber Music Festival has already started and continues until August 28th. I am really sorry to be missing this as there are some wonderful performances at various churches in the North York Moors area. The Finale concert at St Hilda's Church, Westcliffe, Whitby, includes Widor's Toccata and Saint-Saens' Carnival of the Animals.

The Dutch House in Crayke is running a Summer Day Camp until September 2nd where kids can get involved in a range of creative activities. You need to book ahead on 01347 889431. We went along here just after it opened so a few things weren't yet established such as the wildlife garden. The cafe is nice, light, airy and child-friendly. My only small gripe was that I thought it was a little on the pricey side for drinks and cakes. If you are in that area though it is worth checking out and I would like to go back to see how it is developing.

Scarborough Art Gallery is continuing with its Mog-themed events with Mog's Birthday Party on Monday, August 30th from 11am-4pm. There will be plenty of activities and the promise of a slice of cake. Have a look at their website for lots of other events over the holidays.

There are fossil hunts and dinosaur discovery days in and around Whitby from Monday, August 23rd-Friday, Aug 27th. Have a look at the Scarborough Museum Trust website for details. There are also family fun days at the Rotunda Museum in Scarborough. The next one is August 25th, then September 1st.

There's a Little Boots Safari on August 21st and 22nd where accompanied kids can go on a guided trail. Meet at Rievaulx Abbey car park. Book on 01439 772738. There are lots of other events including archaeology activities, forest exploration, walks, family mountain bike rides.

Scarborough Castle has a medieval knight and princess academy until August 20th and Whitby Abbey has a pirate academy until August 27th.

Over Bank Holiday weekend there is a Fighting Knights activity at Scarborough Castle and a pirate weekend at Whitby Abbey.

Oscar Wilde's classic comedy, The Importance of Being Earnest, is being performed at Mount Grace Priory on August 22nd.

If you haven't ever been to the York Maze then it's worth a visit. My husband, David,  took the boys last year and they had a great day there. Entry in isn't terribly cheap at £8.95 for adults and £7.95 for kids with under 3s going free but if you allow a full day there, it's value for money as there is so much more than the maze to see including play areas, huge sandpit, a giant inflatable trampoline, a pyramid of bales to climb, a quad bike circuit, crazy golf and animals to feed. On August 28th they are staying open until 10pm so you can see the maze by torchlight for a different experience.

There's a medieval re-enactment at the Ryedale Folk Museum on August 29th and 30th and this coming week they are holding a cottage cooking week where you can sample cooking from medieval to Victorian times.

The Yorkshire Museum in York opened at the beginning of this month. Until the end of August they have an event called Summer Fun in the Labs running. Next week they have a making fossil cast event on.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Scarborough Open Air Theatre

The Scarborough Open Air Theatre, which is impressively the largest open air theatre in Europe, has reopened. They have a spectacular opening gala tomorrow (July 23rd) with two major stars, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Jose Carreras. I think if you are very lucky you might grab a ticket, otherwise they've got a varied programme of events coming up, including Justin from CBeebies! That is something of a contrast of styles if you ask me! The theatre is situated in Peasholme Park, right on the coast in Scarborough and the stage is set on an island in the middle of a lake with fixed seating for the audience opposite.

And if it is raining...there's always a good film and a bucket of popcorn

A friend mentioned that Vue cinema in York has a good offer on for morning films at weekends where it costs just 95p per child's ticket. This also seems to apply to half term holidays but I can't work out if it is for summer too. There's also an offer where you buy a family ticket and everyone pays child's prices. Anyway, check out the offers on Vue's website.

Meanwhile at Malton Cinema films showing are Shrek Forever, Twilight Saga Eclipse, The A Team, Toy Story 3 and The Reader in the lounge.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Agricultural shows round up and the holidays begin!

With many schools finally breaking up this week, this weekend sees the start of summer holiday events at a number of places. As I'm away in Holland next week I thought I'd just pick out some ideas of what's on over that period and then will do a weekly round up when I'm back.

The first of the summer shows kicked off last weekend with the Malton Show. If you missed that one here's some alternatives taking place over the holidays:

The Ryedale Show is on Tuesday, July 27th at Welburn Park, Kirbymoorside. Advance tickets are available from Cundalls in Malton. This show advertises itself as 'probably North Yorkshire's biggest and best one day agricultural show'. We went to this one last year and had a good day out.

I think this year we'll try the Thornton le Dale Show which is on Wednesday, August 4th from 9am-8pm. Sheepdog, falconry, gun dog and mountain bike stunt displays are just a few of the events going on.

Boon Hill Show at Newton upon Rawcliffe is on Saturday, August 14th starting at 12 noon. Tel 01751 472410 for details.

Rosedale Show is on Saturday, August 21st. Tel 01751 417740 for details.

Farndale Show is on Monday, August 30th.

Otherwise, here are a few other events happening over the next week or so:

Love in Shakespeare is a medley of Shakespeare's most popular plays and will be performed outdoors by Heartbreak Theatre Co. at Mount Grace Priory on Thursday, July 22nd at 7.30pm. Gates from 6.45pm.

Cheer on fully armoured knights as they head into mounted combat in a medieval jousting event at Scarborough Castle on Saturday and Sunday, July 24th & 25th from 11am-5pm. We went last year to this event and the kids really enjoyed it. The castle is well worth a visit even if only for its unique location. It boasts breathtaking views across Scarborough's two bays and the old town with its lovely Georgian architecture is the town's hidden gem.

Time Travellers Go....Pirate Academy is on throughout summer at Whitby Abbey from Saturday, July 24th to Friday, August 27th from 11am-5pm. Again, we must have been doing the rounds of English Heritage properties and events as we also ended up at one of their pirate events. The kids got to take part in sword practices and see real canon fire.

Time Travellers Go....Medieval Knight and Princess School takes place at Scarborough Castle weekly throughout the holidays but not weekends from 11am-5pm.  Kids can undergo some squire training, arts, crafts and storytelling and try on some knight's armour.

Rievaulx Abbey has a Herb Hunt, a children's trail around the ruins. Again this is a lovely place to take a picnic and the kids seem to spend hours enjoying themselves discovering all the different areas of the ruins.

An Ideal Husband is Heartbreak Theatre Company's open air performance at Helmsley Castle on Wednesday, July 28th at 7.30pm. Doors at 6.45pm.

Fighting Knights is on at Scarborough Castle every weekend from July 31st to Bank Holiday Monday, August 30th. See a pair of fully armoured medieval knights embark on hand to hand combat with sword and poleaxe plus other medieval-themed events.

The Dinosaur Coast team at Scarborough Museums Trust which includes the fantastic Rotunda Museum has a great range of events on including Dinosaur discovery days, Fossil hunts and Evening strolls. Events are £3 each. My husband took the boys on one of their fossil hunts last year and they all really enjoyed it. The leader explained what to look our for during the hunt and they were able to break open rocks with hammers to find hidden fossils.

This year the team has divided their days up into areas starting off with Middle Jurassic in The North York Moors National Park from Monday, July 26th to Friday, July 30th. Then comes Upper Jurassic in Scarborough and Filey from Monday, August 9th to Friday, August 13th.
Finally there's Lower Jurassic in Whitby from Monday, August 23rd to Friday, August 27th.

Ryedale Folk Museum is holding a Yorkshire Archaeology Weekend and Yorkshire Day on Saturday, July 31st & Sunday, August 1st.

Scarborough Art Gallery has 'Mog' themed workshops throughout the summer from Tuesday, July 27th. Mog's author, Judith Kerr, will visit the gallery on Sunday, August 8th to read one of her favourite stories. The events tie in with their current exhibition, From the Tiger who came to Tea to Mog and Pink Rabbit - A Judith Kerr exhibition. This runs until September 17th.
The art gallery is such a charming place. It is slightly shabby, a bit crumbly in parts but well worth a visit if you are in Scarborough. There's a dressing up area for kids and basic refreshments on offer. They really do put on some impressive exhibitions too. You can get a joint ticket for the Rotunda which is next door too.

National Parks Week runs from July 25th to August 1st with events at the centre at Danby and Sutton Bank. There are a number of events to coincide with this including art and crafts, woodland walks, archaeology tours, climbing events, archery, fossil identification, pot making, candle rolling etc.

Mini Beast Mayhem is at The Bridestones on Wednesday, July 28th at 1pm. Meet at Dalby Forest car park. £2 each. Booking essential on 01723 870423.

If there is anything else you see going on that you would like me to include please leave me a comment.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Dangerous Dave and the antics of Mr Punch

Beverley Puppet Festival
We headed to the Puppet Festival on Saturday and spent a full day enjoying the variety of events on offer, many of them free. It's the second time we've been to this biennial event and it seems to get better each time as more shows are added to the programme. If Sooty and Sweep springs to mind when puppet shows are mentioned then the Beverley Puppet Festival will certainly give you an alternative interpretation. This age-old form of entertainment is definitely not just for kids and is as creative as any other theatre event.
This time we booked tickets for The Ugly Duckling, a beautiful musical adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson's classic tale, performed by Sea Legs Puppet Theatre. Both children loved the show which had some really clever props including a lamentation of elegant soaring swans and a clever puppet theatre farmyard. The festival spreads across Beverley so there's also lots of street theatre and free shows to enjoy. We saw a traditional Punch and Judy (courtesy of the acclaimed Professor Robanti's Punch and Judy World who takes his squabbling husband and wife duo on globe-trotting tours) show with all the non-politically correct dialogue still refreshingly in tact!
Another show that had us all in stitches was Dangerous Dave by Noisy Oyster, a show you've got to witness to appreciate. The Dave in question is a small scantily-clad rag doll who performs some very silly stunts helped by his hapless sidekick, Herbert Lemon. The miniature superhero fought his way out of a paper bag dampened by Herbert having discreetly relieved himself using a clipboard to preserve his modesty - as you can imagine this had the kids screaming in delight especially when he shook the excess over those seated at the edge of the stage. Don't worry, we suspect it was liquid from a concealed water bottle.  Dave went on to climb the slippery pole of peril and plunged into a food processor, escaped from a jar of pickled eggs and finally became a human cannon ball. This show is the sort of alternative entertainment you'd get up at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival so to get it for free in Beverley was a real treat.
Added to the festival itself you've got the setting of Beverley, which is one of my favourite places to visit and is arguably one of the loveliest towns in Britain. It's got lovely Medieval and Georgian architecture, a beautiful minster, boutique shopping, a great Saturday and  Wednesday market and plenty of nice little cafes to while away the time in. Panizzi  is a lively Italian style deli and wine bar on North Bar Within and is well worth a visit day or night. The ice cream factory next door is a good choice if you have children with you. Nearer the minster are a couple of other nice little cafes with outdoor seating at the back. Browns department store opened earlier this year which was a bit of a coup for the town and will surely pull in more visitors. All in all this place gets a big thumbs up from me whatever the time of year.

And here is the man himself - Dangerous Dave with his sidekick Herbert Lemon.

Please leave a comment if there is anything else going on that you would like me to include.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Festivals and Shows

Depending on the weather we are either heading up to Rosedale Abbey on a camping weekend or going to see a couple of shows at the Puppet Festival in Beverley which is a lovely enough place to visit anyway. I've written a preview below. If we do go camping, I'm planning to do a round up of local campsites as a couple of people have been interested in knowing where to go.

Otherwise, here are a few events that are going on this weekend:

Ryedale Festival is on from July 16th - August 1st.  The festival offers a varied programme including soloists, orchestras, chamber music across several venues in Ryedale.

The Malton Show takes place in Scampston Park on Sunday, July 18th. Agricultural attractions, farm exhibits and class entries.

The Ryedale Folk Museum is having a French Day on Sunday, July 18th. Cooking, dancing and lessons in the school room.

Love in Shakespeare at Mount Grace Priory. Enjoy an evening of Shakespeare's most popular plays.

The 1812 Theatre Company are performing 84 Charing Cross Road from Weds, July 21st to Sat, July 24th at 7.30pm at Helmsley Arts Centre.

Twenty 20 has just opened at The Stephen Joseph Theatre from July 13th - September 11th. A one-act play taking the audience on a whistlestop tour of today's short attention span world. The Mikado continues until Sept 4th. Midsummer Night's Dream continues until July 31st.

Malton Cinema is continuing with The Twilight Saga Eclipse for Twihards who have yet to catch it. Also in the lounge is The Reader, a wonderful film which finally gave Kate Winslet her Oscar last year. The cinema has imminent plans to go 3D. I'll keep you posted once I get a firm date.

Beverley Puppet Festival
July 16th -18th
I know Beverley is not Ryedale, Moors and Coast but this is the sort of event that I would travel to see. We went to Beverley Puppet Festival a couple of years ago and were really impressed with the shows. The shows are mainly geared up for the infant year age group of primary school. We saw a couple of shadow puppet shows, Alice and The White Rabbit by Indigo Moon Theatre Company and Little Red Riding Hood. These cost us just a few pounds for tickets but the traditional Punch and Judy show outside was free. This year's shows include Pinocchio, Chicken Licken, The Ugly Duckling, The Story of the Willow Pattern Plate. There's also a performance by Edinburgh Fringe sell outs, The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre for 12 + to adults.

If there is anything else you would like to include please leave me a comment.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Fast forward to the school hols!

It seems that a lot of children have broken up already. We've already had phone calls from kids feeling fed up with the rain on day one of their holidays. It's a bit odd for us as we are still in that end of term frenzy when everything from fancy dress parties, picnics, bring and buy fundraisers and end of term shows are all  featuring heavily on our calendar. Anyway, it has focused my mind on school holidays and what we might do ourselves once school's out for summer for us too. I have gathered some information about various clubs going on that older children might enjoy so I thought I would include them here as some need to be booked.

Ryedale Extended Schools has a programme for all ages. Some are family activities where you stay with your child and others are clubs that they go along to on their own to. I went to one last year with my son, then aged six, which was a music workshop. It was a great morning with two professional musicians working with the children and introducing them to a variety of unusual instruments.

Activities this summer range from the sporty, like canoeing, rugby, golf, skate boarding and mountain biking, to arty days including theatre workshops (at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough), film-making and art and crafts. There's also lots of outdoor activities like bushcraft, playrangers, archery and go wild events.

There doesn't seem to be a website to direct you to but here are the contact details.

Contact details: Northern Ryedale Extended Schools Coordinator, Kate Asquith on 01653 628839 or email or Central Ryedale Extended Schools Coordinator, Melanie Hutchinson on 01653 692582 or email

For anyone with younger children, the Children's Centres in Norton and Pickering have a great programme for toddlers and babies. Contact the team on 0845 0349586 (Norton) or 0845 5213902 (Pickering) for a programme.

The other place worth a look is the St Alban's Centre, Ampleforth, where there a plenty of activities for children aged four years plus and family activities. Call 01439 766740 for their programme. Alternatively, there are the two North York Moors National Park visitor centres that have a a huge selection of activities going on. Also have a look at York Playspace for weekly clubs where you can also just do a morning or afternoon.

If there is anything else you know of or want to publicise please leave a comment.

Monday, 5 July 2010

An Owl Safari, Tractors and Engines and a favourite cafe

Here are a few pointers for your week ahead. I hope you find something to enjoy. I'm not sure how far we will get as I have a four-year-old's party to organise for Saturday so will be frantically cake baking and planning party games.

Wind in the Willows which had its debut at Helmsley Arts Centre last weekend is on at Terrington Village Hall at 6.30pm on Thursday, July 8th.

Ryedale Folk Museum is holding a Tractor and Engine Day on Sunday, July 11th and to celebrate Bastille Day next Wednesday, July 14th, there's a picnic from 6-9pm.

Join an Owl Safari at The Robert Fuller Gallery on Saturday, July 10th from 7.30pm to 9.30pm. There is also An Introduction to Dragonflies and Damselflies on Sunday, July 11th in the morning and afternoon. Booking details on 01759 368355. Tickets £7.50.

There's a Vintage Vehicle Weekend on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway on Saturday and Sunday, July 10th & 11th where classic and vintage vehicles will be on display along the railway.

If you're up this way and looking for refreshments I can highly recommend the lovely Grosmont Gallery and Jazz Cafe. The building has seen life as an undertakers, a joiner's workshop and a petrol station but now has its walls adorned with art, comfy sofas and plenty of space for a cappuccino, cake and a look at the artwork. We've been here with kids. It's big enough to absorb them and their noise especially with the bribe of a cake! Their new exhibition, Blue Bay Watch, featuring local artists including Ian Mitchell, runs from this weekend to August 8th. The cafe is open from 11am-5pm, April to October.

The original Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car is at Nunnington Hall this weekend, July 10th & 11th.

The Hidden Gardens of Hovingham. On Sunday, July 11th several homes in Hovingham are throwing open their garden gates. The event runs from 1pm-5pm. £4 on the day.

The English Lavender Festival takes place at the award-winning Yorkshire Lavender in Terrington on Saturday and Sunday, July10th & 11th. There will be a chance to learn about lavender for cooking as well as for health and beauty and its therapeutic benefits at one of the most beautifully situated gardens in the area.

The Mikado, which opens at the Stephen Joseph Theatre on Thursday and runs until September 4th, has already had some good previews in the national press. Director Chris Monks has this time set the Gilbert and Sullivan masterpiece on the cricket pitch.

Ryedale School's Wind Band and Jazz Band are at Helmsley Arts Centre with a repertoire of classic and contemporary music on Sunday, July 11th. The band is made up of pupils in years 7-11. By the way, the arts centre has its own blog which is worth a look at to find out what is going on behind the scenes.

Artsmix is holding an arts and crafts fayre in Malton on Sunday, July 11th from 11am-4pm. Artsmix aims to showcase emerging artists and there will be art, jewellery, textiles, ceramics and more on sale.

Malton Cinema is showing Letters to Juliet, Shrek Forever After, Twilight Saga Eclipse (both of these are best to book ahead for), and in the Lounge there's The Reader and A Single Man, which I reviewed last week.

Helmsley Arts Centre is showing Remember Me on Wednesday, July 7th at 7.30pm.

If there are other events you know of or would like me to include, I will happily do so. Just leave me a comment.

Botton Village Open Day Review

Botton Village Open Day
We headed up to Botton Village up in the North York Moors yesterday afternoon for their annual open day. I have only ever been to their Christmas Fayre before which was a very pleasant experience with plenty of festive activities going on. It was also a great place to buy original gifts, many of which are made on site - handmade nativity figures, lovely wooden decorations and continental breads and cakes etc.
Botton is the largest Camphill Trust community, offering people with learning disabilities the opportunity to thrive in a wider community with other adults for support and a place where they can also learn new skills. The village itself is nestled in Danby Dale, in beautiful rolling countryside inland from Whitby. It has five farms and a Waldorf Steiner school as well as the accommodation in the village.
The open day is a great day out for anyone with kids. Ours were able to partake in candle dipping, wood sawing, and watch a puppet show. There was also felt making that the girls seemed to be enjoying. My eldest son, having seen a couple of his young friends whizzing across on the Flying Fox, a fairly lofty zip wire across a beck and small (but equally intimidating) ravine, decided to try it for himself. It was lovely to see how proud he was of himself after he'd successfully whizzed across it. Botton holds its open day every year on the first Sunday in July but in the meantime there is the Christmas Fayre around November time. My youngest son is hoping that he is big enough to try the Flying Fox next year so I'm sure this summer event will be back on our calendar.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

A meeting with Mr Darcy and Alan Titchmarsh's favourite Yorkshire garden

An eclectic mix of things to see and do this week with open gardens at a garden I can highly recommend having visited it last year, a Shakespeare classic just right for this time of year and a community village open day near Danby which we are going to try and get to ourselves. I've also discovered a new cinematic experience in the Lounge at Malton Cinema where a friend and I found ourselves on Tuesday evening:

Jacksons Wold garden is open for the National Garden Scheme on Sunday, July 4th, from 1pm-5pm. We visited this garden last year and were really impressed. It has been evolving since 1984 when Sarah and Richard Cundall moved here. It's a three-acre site with plenty of different areas to enjoy; a walled garden, woodland paths, a kitchen garden with an Elizabethan-style knot garden, perennial borders and a wild flower meadow. Not only all this but it also has a lovely setting with panoramic views toward the Yorkshire Wolds and has been praised by gardening guru Alan Titchmarsh as one of his favourites. Oh, and the Chalk Barn tea room too is worth staying on for!

A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, until July 31st. Chris Monks directs Shakespeare's popular comedy charting the magical antics of four star-crossed lovers .

Botton Village Open Day on Sunday, July 4th, from 11am-5pm. The Camphill Trust at Botton Village near Danby opens its doors once again with musicians, haycart rides, treasure hunts, crafts and a BBQ. The village was established as a charitable community in 1955 where adults could live with other non-handicapped people as a family and develop their full potential. Super setting right up on the moors.

The Wind in the Willows at Helmsley Arts Centre of Friday & Saturday, July 2nd & 3rd at 7pm. Exciting new version of the family classic. Physical theatre and humour abound with Dominic Goodwin starring as Toad.

The Buddhist Retreat and Meditation Centre at Kilnwick Percy, nr Pocklington is holding its Summer Fayre on Sunday, July 4th from 10.30am to 4.30pm. Live entertainment and magic, the biggest inflatable slide in Yorkshire, water slide, stalls, talks and tours and meditation is on offer. And all this is free entry. It's a few years since I visited this lovely place but I remember being made so welcome. The centre is housed in a beautiful old building and set in 40 glorious acres of grounds and parkland.

Malton Cinema is showing Letters to Juliet, Wild Target and at the weekend How to Train your Dragon, Tooth Fairy and Furry Vengeance.  And for all the millions of Twilight fans out there (not just its teen market - it appears that their mums are getting in on it too!) there is a special preview on Saturday & Sunday, 3rd & 4th July before the film is released on the 9th.

A Single Man in the Lounge at Malton Cinema
I missed this film when it came out earlier this year so was thrilled to see its reappearance at Malton Cinema this week in the Lounge as part of the film club. I was curious to catch it for two reasons. I'd read the previews and it sounded visually sumptuous having fashion designer Tom Ford as its director.
Secondly, it stars Colin Firth, who I was lucky enough to meet just before Christmas when I was working on a film that was being shot in Leeds, The King's Speech, that he was starring in. I was obviously hanging about in the right place at the right time as I found myself chatting to him and his co-star Helena Bonham-Carter in between takes. And believe me, he is as handsome in the flesh as he is on screen with a personality to match.
In A Single Man, he plays an English professor who is mourning the death of his male partner. His grief is almost too much to bear at times as he tries to continue with his own life, now without purpose. There are glimmers of hope in his friendships, a boozy English divorcee played by Julianne Moore, and one of his students who tries to befriend him. The cinematography is indeed sumptuous. Every aesthetic detail has been thought through with care. It did remind me a little of those Chanel perfume adverts that are on TV from time to time in its beautiful but unreal take on the world.
The Lounge at Malton Cinema is a little room downstairs with a screen on which the films are shown. It costs £2 a ticket. It's worth booking your seats as you're more likely to get the comfy armchairs that we both sank into with our glasses of wine. The lady in the box office did say that if there was ever a film anyone wanted to see, they could ring up and the cinema would put it on for the film club in this room. What a wonderful little set up! I think this would make for a great evening out with a group of friends. It's clear that the people who run Malton Cinema do so with a lot of care for their customers. It's definitely a place worth supporting and so much nicer than the big out of town venues.

Here's a photo of Colin and Helena that I took on set. The location was the Queen Street Textile Museum in Burnley. It's a fascinating place anyway but looked spectacular with all the bunting and decorations up. The king in question in the film, by the way, is King George VI, the Queen's father.

Brundibar Children's Opera and Ampleforth and Ryedale Concert Choir
I enjoyed two evenings of music last weekend, firstly with my eldest son at Brundibar Children's Opera, a performance by The Ampleforth Children's Choir put together through a singing partnership between Ampleforth College and The North Yorkshire Music Service and staged at St Martin's, Gilling. Moreover my son enjoyed this short opera, which was first performed by children in a Czech concentration camp and is written specifically for children's voices. The tale was easy for a young audience to follow, a triumph over tragedy theme, with music drawing on both classical and folk traditions. The 100 or so children taking part sang beautifully and they genuinely seemed to enjoy performing.

My Saturday evening took place in the beautiful surroundings of Ampleforth Abbey where The Ampleforth and Ryedale Concert Choir were performing Handel's jubilent The Dettingen de Te Deum and the moving Adagio for Organs and Strings by Albinioni. The choir comprises of members of the Schola Cantorum and Schola Puellarum at the college with soloists from around the country. However, many of those singing didn't come from a professional music background but again this was a professionally executed performance of music that fitted perfectly with the serenity of the setting. I believe the community part of the choir is looking for male singers so if it is something you have always wanted to do then follow the above link and I might see you there next year!
If there are events on or other places you would like to recommend please leave me a comment and I will happily include them here.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Tapestry of Yorkshire

Here's a link to a feature I wrote on Yorkshire for the August/September edition of Britain magazine, the tourist board's official publication. It wasn't easy condensing Yorkshire into a couple of thousand words but I hope I've whet readers' appetites and brought back happy memories for others of past visits.

Also tied in with this feature is a review I did for Britain of the Feversham Arms Hotel and Verbena Spa in Helmsley where I was lucky enough to be offered a stay late last year. It really is a beautiful hotel, very stylishly put together but with a relaxed charm about the place too.

Monday, 21 June 2010

A knights' tournament, children's opera and a taste of the Edinburgh Fringe

Midsummer Night already! - and at least the sun is shining again. As we move towards summer and the beginning of the holidays there are lots of things happening in the coming weekends.

Here's a few suggestions for this week:

Summer Art Exhibition & Yorkshire Wolds Wildlife Festival at The Robert Fuller Gallery, Fotherdale Farm, Thixendale, from this Saturday, June 26th - Sunday, July 11th. Open every day 11am-4.30pm. Also includes live falconry displays and night forays to find owls.

Sheriff Hutton Castle Medieval Picnic on Saturday, June 26th at 2pm. Maypole dancing, tug of war, dog competition, craft stalls, guided talks, wacky races. Take a picnic along to this local event that is well worth supporting as it is in aid of Supporting Impact Young Heroes, helping youngsters whose lives have been affected by cancer.

Napoleonic weekend at The Ryedale Folk Museum on Saturday and Sunday, June 26th & 27th. With re-enactors, local historians, military demonstrations and traditional crafts.

Ali Cook and The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre at Helmsley Arts Centre on Friday, June 25th at 7.30pm. Two of the hottest tipped acts of this year's Edinburgh Festival bring their shows to Helmsley before heading north.

Wind in the Willows at The Kirk Theatre, Pickering on Thursday, June 24th at 7pm. New adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's classic novel by Yorkshire-based Ratatat Theatre Company.

Ryedale Live! Comes to Helmsley at Helmsley Arts Centre on Saturday, June 26th at 7.30pm. Local musicians get a the chance to perform alongside more established artists.

Keene at Dalby Forest and Simply Red at Dalby Forest on June 25th & 26th.

Knights Tournament of Foote at Scarborough Castle on Saturday & Sunday, June 26th & 27th. Four brave knights of England come to preserve their honour at this suberbly located castle overlooking Scarborough's bays.

Sandi Thom Exhibition at Nunnington Hall from Thursday, June 24th - Saturday, July 31st. Scottish musician Sandi Thom shows her photographic talent in a new exhibition. A concert performance on Thursday evening in the Oak Hall launches the exhibition.

Malton Cinema is showing Letters to Juliet and Wild Target from Friday. The film club is showing A Single Man from Friday, Sex and the City 2 and Robin Hood until Thursday, Kite Runner until Thursday. For the kids Tooth Fairy, Furry Vengeance and How to Train your Dragon is on over the weekend.

Brundibar Children's Opera and Ampleforth and Ryedale Concert Choir

Brundibar Children's Opera, which is being performed at St Martin's, Gilling Castle, this Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, was born out of a dark history. It was written just before World War Two by Czech composer Hans Krasa and was first sung by children in the Terezin Concentration Camp in Czechoslovakia. Despite its sad beginnings, the story is an uplifting tale based on a folk story about two children who outwit a cruel street musician, Brundibar, to raise money for their ill mother. They are helped along the way by a cat, a dog, a bird and other animals.

This fully-staged performance will see 100 local children performing each night in a singing partnership between Ampleforth College and The North Yorkshire Music Service. The music is folksy in line with its roots and melodious and is well suited to children's voices.

On Saturday evening, there will be a performance at Ampleforth Abbey Church by The Ampleforth and Ryedale Concert Choir in a performance of Handel's jubilent The Dettingen de Te Deum. The choir will also perform the moving Adagio for Organs and Strings by Albinioni.

I am taking my oldest son to the children's opera. It is 45 minutes long and I think it will be a wonderful introduction for him, especially as it is being performed by children just a bit older than he is. A friend and I have tickets for the Saturday evening which I am also looking forward to hearing. So lots to look forward to this week.

Brundibar Children's Opera is on Weds, Thurs & Fri, June 23rd-25th at 7pm at St Martin's, Gilling, and The Ampleforth and Ryedale Concert Choir will perform at Ampleforth Abbey Church on Saturday, June 26th at 7.30pm. Tickets for this performance are £10.

Helmsley Walled Garden

I was lucky enough to be invited on a guided tour of Helmsley Walled Garden earlier this week. Like many old walled gardens attached to grand houses, it has had its heyday growing exotic fruits, supplying cut flowers and vegetables for Duncombe Park to which it was once a part, subsequently fell into disuse and was revived back in the mid 1990s.

As walled gardens go, it boasts a fantastic backdrop with Helmsley Castle in its shadow and it is also surrounded by the parkland of the Duncombe Park Estate.

Within its five acres there are gardens within a garden. Various gardeners and horticulturalists have been invited in to work on different areas so you get a different feel wherever you are in it. The hot border will be looking stunning very soon with its array of colourful herbaceous plants. The garden is home to more than two hundred different varieties of clematis which were just beginning to unfold. There are quiet areas too with benches on which to sit and enjoy the space.

The physic garden has an interesting mix of medicinal plants and it's interesting to learn how these were once relied upon as cures for various ailments. There is an emphasis in the garden on horticultural therapy and an aim to benefit those who are disadvantaged in any way within the community. This all stems from the ideas of the lady who founded the garden, Alison Ticehurst, who died suddenly in the garden she loved so much and had obviously but her heart and soul into.

I didn't have children with me on this occasion but it is a child friendly place with lots of interesting things for children to enjoy - an elephant fountain, a swing and a den and plenty of places to hide and discover.

The old greenhouses have also been restored and now house the award-winning Vinehouse Cafe, a vegetarian eatery. I can only speak for the cakes which were delicious and if they are anything to go I imagine the food is excellent too.

The shop here sells garden wares (all made in the UK, many in North Yorkshire and much within the Helmsley postcode) and plants and some lovely vintage garden artifacts that are hard to resist. This is definitely a place to return to and enjoy as the seasons change and the garden evolves.

If there are other events happening or venues you would like to share, please leave a comment for me and I will happily include them in these pages.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Fossils, Shakespeare and a Mouse Hunt

There's plenty going on this weekend including a fossil festival on one of the best Jurassic coastlines in the UK, an outdoor production of Shakespeare in the grounds of one stately home, a tea party and mouse hunt for young visitors and their parents and a further chance to take a peek into some artists' workshops as the open studios event continues.

Scarborough Fossil Festival from Thursday, June 17th - Sunday, June 20th. Events and activities for all including experts from the Natural History Museum who will descend on Scarborough to share their knowledge on all things palaeontological. See the preview below.

Artrageous in the Summer at Beningborough Hall on Sunday, June 20th. Get your creative juices flowing at these fun art workshops. The hall itself houses a large collection of paintings in partnership with the National Gallery and the popular Making Faces Gallery is always popular with kids as they get to make their own portrait here. There's a playground and lovely walled garden too.

Won't be Long at Helmsley Arts Centre on Friday, June 18th & Sat, June 19th. The 1812 Youth Theatre, made up of young people, aged 9 to 18, is putting on a production telling the story of children who were evacuated from their urban homes to new lives in the countryside.

Much ado about Nothing on Saturday, June 19th at 7pm - an open air production at Nunnington Hall.

Midsummer Tea Party and Mouse Hunt - Sat & Sun, June 19th/20th from 10.30am-4pm - Enjoy tea and cakes, a mouse hunt for the kids and the chance to explore the creative architecture of five churches in the area.

North Yorkshire Open Studios continues over the weekend of the 19th/20th June.

Malton Cinema is showing Sunshine Cleaning, Tooth Fairy, Robin Hood, Furry Vengeance, Sex and the City 2, and from Friday, The Kite Runner.


Scarborough Fossil Festival

This weekend's highlight has to be the very first Scarborough Fossil Festival in an event taking place at the Rotunda Museum and neighbouring art gallery. We've really enjoyed visits to both these places in the past and as we live so close to one of the best coastlines in Britain for fossil forays, it's really worth making the trip.

As well as talks that will appeal to older children and adults, there's also the chance to get your own fossils identified by the team from London's Natural History Museum and to see some of their rare geological finds. The talks include information about the Scelidosaurus, Britain's oldest preserved dinosaur, and also a look at how we recreate what dinosaurs looked like.

The North East Geology Trust will  be on hand at Scarborough Library where you can make your own dinosaur and learn more about these ancient creatures.

A series of walks where you can learn about the geology of South Bay will leave from the Rotunda at 10.30am and 2.30pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Entry to most of these events is free.


Hovingham Market and Ampleforth Gala

A few friends had mentioned how good the Saturday market in Hovingham is, so last weekend we decided to pop by to see what was on offer.

The market, which was originally given its charter in 1252,  reopened last September after a break of 156 years and it has already got a good name for itself. The car park in Hovingham was teaming by the time we arrived mid morning and the market was in full swing.

The stalls are spread out in the grounds of the village hall with more stalls inside, plus tea, coffee and cake. Whether you are searching for edibles to take home and savour or gifts for friends and family, this is an ideal place to do some searching. I liked the stall selling prints and posters of Yorkshire sayings and illustrated maps of Yorkshire and another selling cheeses and cheese dishes made by a local artist at very reasonable prices. A chap from Wykeham, near Scarborough, also sells a huge range of fresh and dried Oyster mushrooms.

Selina Scott, who has a farm in Coxwold, has a stall selling the most beautiful soft and colourful socks for both adults and children. Again, prices were good and how lovely it would feel to encase your feet in these rather than a pair of traditional walking socks.

I was with my mum and two boys so we had a picnic in the nearby playground which has opened opposite the old site. Its phase one is in place and phase two will include a climbing frame and toddler swings. Sadly, we hadn't bought good paddling shoes with us so splashing in the brook wasn't an option, plus we were onto other things. so needed dry clothes.

We headed on to Ampleforth Gala, an annual village fete aimed at raising money for more playground equipment. For a village event this was quite impressive. There was the usual bouncy castle and face painting but also a circus workshop which the boys loved, especially getting to grips with the diablo. There were feathered and furry visitors in the form of eagles and alpacas too.

Another hit with my brood was the stall where they had to throw a very soggy sock at a target and if it hit the centre it tipped a person (volunteers who seemed quite happy to be doing it)! into a tub of water. Probably a bit unfair but my youngest son was allowed to almost touch the target. Not so fair for the person on the ducking seat!

We rounded off the day with tea and cake at Ampleforth Abbey cafe and a stroll in the grounds. This is review in itself so one I'll return to. (Next Hovingham Market, Saturday, July 3rd at 10.30am-4pm)

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Gardens and the outdoors

As the middle of June approaches it's hardly surprising that much of what's on is happening outdoors this week - open gardens, open air theatre and festivals. However, in true British summer-style, I am typing away to the sound of constant rain and not much in the way of sunshine. But looking on the bright side - the rain can change to sun as quickly as it changed from the glorious weather we had over half term to today's drizzle.

So, here are a few ideas for this week:

Saturday, June 12th from 12noon - 4pm - Ampleforth Summer Gala - Barbecue and beer tent, bouncy fun, falconry, face painting, pony rides. The gala is followed in the evening by Amp'Fest where six of the hottest local bands play the best of Rock and Pop. For more info call 01439 788648 or 07967 961553.

Saturday, June 13th from 1-5pm - 18 Hidden Gardens of Coxwold. £3 admission, children free. Tel Jean on 01347 868356. Lovely village to look round including Shandy Hall, home of 18th century author Laurence Sterne.

Saturday, June 12th from 10.30am-3pm - Hovingham Market - A very popular market where you'll find local produce, crafts and gifts. Refreshments in the village hall.

Sunday, June 13th from 2pm-5pm - In the Garden at Helmsley Arts Centre. A kind of gardeners' question time with Paul Radcliffe, former head gardener at Helmsley Walled Garden and Rosanna James, Hands-on-gardener at Sleighholme Dale Lodge. To be held in the garden, weather permitting. Bring your questions, photos to discuss design and layout. Free Entry.

Sunday, June 13th from 10am to 12.30pm at Pickering Library - Drawing is Fun! A family workshop with children's author and cartoonist Steve Weatherill. This is part of the North Yorks Open Studios. £5 -booking is essential. Tel 07731 019566 or email See below.
Saturday, June 12th from 10am-3.30pm - Mini Paper Shoes with Serena Partridge at Helmsley Arts Centre. During this workshop which is also part of the open studios event, textile artist Serena will help you create a miniature pair of shoes using a variety of papers and trims. £5 booking essential. Contact Jean Kershaw on 01439 771109 or email

And if the rain is here to stay, Malton Cinema has Robin Hood, Sex and the City 2 and Creation showing this week.
Helmsley Arts Centre is showing I am Love on Wednesday, June 9th at 7.30pm. A film, starring Tilda Swinton as a wealthy Milanesewife of a Russian businessman who embarks on an ill-advised affair.

Lee Miller's War - May 1st - June 20th 2010
We took the kids for an afternoon out to Nunnington Hall over half term. Although there isn't a play area as such here, the garden is just a lovely place for them to run around, play hide and seek and of course, make a wish at the wishing tree. But what has always impressed me about Nunnington is the top quality exhibitions it puts on here. We saw a great photographic exhibition by the rock star Bryan Adams a couple of years ago which really showed another side to his talent.

Their recent exhibition is a series of photographs by the photographer Lee Miller. Miller was a a top fashion model in New York in the 1920s before she moved to Paris to work as a fashion photographer mixing with among others the groundbreaking artist, Man Ray. Her photos currently on display at Nunnington are a world apart from the Parisian catwalk. During World War Two she became a war correspondent for Vogue magazine, an assignment that saw her covering the Blitz in London but also events at the Nazi concentration camps at Buchenwald and Dachau. There are some thought provoking photographs here, frozen images of the dying days of the Nazis. They are not always easy to look at but they are moments that actually happened  - and not so long ago.

North Yorkshire Open Studios - June 11th/12th/13th and June 19th & 20th
Over this weekend and next, hundreds of artists will throw open their doors as part of the North Yorkshire Open Studios, giving us the chance to meet the artists and see their work in the place they are creating it. From harbourside huts in Scarborough and remote locations on the North York Moors it's a chance to experience some excellent local talent.

I like the work of Ian Mitchell. His linescapes are slightly Hockneyesque in their minimalism but I always find that despite his stripped down detail each of the places is still recognisible. His studio is at 1 Sliptop Cottage in Staithes, which is always worth a visit at any time.

Sue Slack's colourful representations of the local landscape are also easily recognisible. Her studio is at Barn Studio, Sunny View, Lockton on the North York Moors.

Jennifer Tetlow is a sculptor in stone who creates very tactile works of animals and birds. She is also based in the NY Moors at Lastingham Lodge, Low Street, Lastingham.

At Rosedale Abbey Gillies Jones crafts art in glass. The studio is behind the village churchyard at Rosedale Abbey.

Clare Belbin runs the Camphill Trust in Malton and works around the theme of nature. Her work is on display at Greengate House, Greengate, Malton.

Sculptor Peter Coates, who has a studio in Brawby, makes work in stone, wood and metal in relation to the surrounding landscape and architecture. His work can also be seen at the garden at Scampstson Walled Garden.

There are also a number of other artists whose work is on display under one roof at the South Street Gallery in Scarborough and also at the Woodend Creative Workspace at the Crescent in Scarborough. Woodend is an interesting place to visit in its own right - it is here that the famous Sitwell family once lived, including Edith, Sacheverill and Osbert.

There are also some events and workshops that link up to the event. I've listed these under the what's on section above.
Coming up......Just a few things happening in the next week or two:

North Yorkshire Open Studios continues over the weekend of the 19th/20th June. Much ado about Nothing on June 19th at 7pm - an open air production at Nunnington Hall.

Midsummer Tea Party and Mouse Hunt - June 19th/20th from 10.30qam-4pm - Enjoy tea and cakes, a mouse hunt for the kids and the chance to explore the creative architecture of five churches in the area.

Scarborough Fossil Festival from June 17th - 20th. Events and activities for all including experts from the Natural History Museum who will descend on Scarborough to share their knowledge on all things palaeontological.