Over the Christmas period I wanted to take N to the pantomime, but couldn’t get a matinee ticket as they were all sold out. So I looked around for somewhere else similar to take him. Someone mentioned the Story Museum in Oxford and I saw they had Snow and Tell sessions over the Christmas holidays.
With tickets booked and received, we made our way to Oxford. N had told me he didn’t want to go, so I had to tell him that we’d be going on the bus. Simple, but given we drive everywhere and usually have no need for the bus, the park and ride is exciting to him.
I’d promised N lunch out as well, but first we wandered round the covered market (I love the photo opportunities, although very hard introducing N to lots of different fruit and vegetables while stopping him from trying to touch everything!).
A bit of sales shopping later, plus a trip to Goldsmiths to replace my lost diamond earrings using my Tesco Clubcard boost tokens, and then I noticed Build a Bear Workshop. N’s never been before and because it was near his birthday, I offered to let him have a teddy made. He does love his soft toys so his eyes lit up immediately.
Luckily N doesn’t do exotic, so he chose a plain teddy bear, and decided he didn’t want a sound in his bear. He helped fill it with the ‘snow stuff’, chose a heart and asked me to put it in, then was happy to see his bear closed up and finished. There was a sale on the clothes so N chose a hat (see what I mean about cheap to please!), then it was round to choose a name and register his bear.
I had no idea what name N would choose.
‘Jess a girl or Jesse a boy?’
‘Jesse a boy’.
I’d no idea where he chose the name from, but then he told me one of the teachers at nursery is called Jess. News to me, although he says she’s in his room, but obviously middle of the day rather than pick up and drop off times. He also wanted to type in his name to the computer, so I let him do that and find his way as best as possible round the keyboard. I love how N is getting more interested in letters. So a successful bear purchase, although I did regret it once I realised I’d be the one lugging it around Oxford!
Then it was time for some lunch. We love going down to the castle area, although N was being fussy about food.
‘I want sandwiches for lunch’. Hmm, the option is Pizza Express or Prezzo (I had offer codes).
‘How about garlic bread or dough balls?’
‘ok’, easy bribe!
I couldn’t believe how much N remembered from our last visit to Pizza Express. We were brought over the menus and N was given the children’s hat, colouring pencils and menu/activity sheet. He wanted to know where the stickers were. I didn’t even remember they had them, but yes, there was a sticker sheet too.
Of course N demolished everything placed in front of him, and we had a lovely meal chatting. It’s so nice to be able to take him out and know that he’ll behave nicely, eat his food and not make a total mess of the place, even when there’s lots of people to look at.
We didn’t have time to climb the Castle mound, but wandered back into town to find the Story Museum. It seems to be a funny place. People who know Oxford don’t know it exists, but then you find out about it on other people’s blogs, or via friends who’ve visited from miles away. The premise is that it’s a place to celebrate books and stories, and holds exhibitions, events and story telling sessions for adults and children.
The Snow and Tell sessions were music and story telling by Robin the Postman (aka actor and musician Robin Hemmings) for preschool to primary age children. The session is based around Robin trying to deliver his parcels (N loved that he rode in on his bike – in a building!), getting lost, and then taking shelter and telling stories while he tries to get on his way again.
The stories includes How the Robin got his redbreast, A Christmas Carol and the Elves and the Shoemaker. The stories were brilliantly told, acted and then the guitar was brought out for general songs with the audience, and to help tell the stories. With the show lasting an hour it was the perfect length for N, and the other mainly older children seemed to enjoy it too.
I’m never sure whether N will ever join in these shows. He refused to sit with the other children on the mats at the front by the ‘stage’, but the seating was set out so children would be able to see past those in front. He did join in with some of the singing and actions, although there were a couple of comedy moments.
One after they’d all sung Rudolf the red nosed reindeer, I asked N why he didn’t sing. Without volume control he replied loudly
‘I don’t know the words to Rudolf’. The parents in front thought that was funny.
Then Robin the postman was pretending to sleep under a blanket, snoring away as part of the story, and N shouted out
‘Wake up’. Oops. Sniggers all around and ‘ah he’s sweet’ from people sitting nearby. You never know how children will react.
The performance was lovely and a really nice end to the Christmas season. The Story Museum staff are nice, they have fun hats set out near the exit so the children can try them all on and take silly photos of themselves in them, and the place was decorated really nicely. If you’re there for some time, there’s a small cafe and book/gift shop. It’s a lovely discovery and I’ll be looking out for more events going on there in future.
A quick walk back to the bus stop and one little boy was exhausted on the drive home. He said he enjoyed the show and has been inseparable from Jesse the bear since then so it was a trip that we’ll have to make again soon.
Have you ever taken your children to story telling sessions? Are they book fans?