After Charlie completed a very unsettled Reception year at school, some of which was caused by the birth of a new baby, both his sisters being home and his FOMO fear. I decided to take him to stay with family in Nottingham for a few days 1:1 time. It just so happened that the Robin Hood Festival was on. Moo and I had such a fantastic time that he still speaks about it regularly. This summer The Robin Hood Festival saw it's 30th anniversary armed with the dates, Megan and Nanny L, Charlie and I ventured back to Nottingham.
Guided by the trusty SATNAV we drove to Sherwood Forest. Parking during the festival is £5 per car which I thought was great! We left the picnic in the car and trundled off down the track. There are 3 main activity areas – where the amusement and rides are (apparently this is actually there most of the year – Megan won a £20 note rubber on the 2p machine which we added to our Parkdean collection of slinkies and bracelets.) This fielded area also houses the jousting on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday we went on Thursday so this is top of my list for next year! The Visitor Centre houses stalls selling Robin Hood bows, arrows and flower garlands for hair, as well as an Exhibition and café. The third area is by the Major Oak (if trees could tell stories this 800 year old one would have a few tall tales to tell. It's said to have been a hideout for Robin Hood and his merry men now sadly held up by scaffolding well when you are that old you need some help!) The Major Oak is where most of the action happens with archery lessons, skirmishing, ice cream, craft stalls and entertainers.
Megan adores fancy dress (unlike Moo who loathes it!) for her birthday we got her a Maid Marion dress which she wore complete with flower hair garland. Once Moo was suitably armed with a wooden bow and arrow and I'd perused the programme we made our way down the Major Oak for skirmishing. We were on a bit if a tight schedule meaning we had to hurry through the forest and ignore the medieval entertainers dotted about but don't fret we went back after! Skirmishing is basically “play fighting”. Robin Hood and his merry men (oh yes and Maid Marion!) fought against The Sheriff of Nottingham and his rabble. There was a lot of panto style booing and hissing, cheering and clapping. Robin and Sheriff really got into their roles, mocking and giggling with each other. I was pleased to see these were the same actors as 2 years earlier and Moo even remembered them. After the skirmishing Moo and Megan had photos taken with Robin Hood, Maid Marion, Friar Tuck and Little John and “autographed” our programme. Pesky The Sheriff of Nottingham had scuttled off with a sore bottom!
There is so much to do – here are just a few other things we did.
Archery – Nanny L loved this! Moo put his newly acquired skills to use with his wooden bow and arrow and I was pleased we paid 40p for a spare arrow!
Spinning wool on a wheel and making a friendship bracelet.
Chatted with the entertainers – we learnt how all the pieces of a bagpipe worked.
We popped some giant bubbles
Went round the exhibition inside (was tempted to leave Moo in the stocks but Nanny L wouldn't let me!)
Saw the falcons and owls – sadly the display was on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday! BUT next year we will definitely plan for this!
We had lots of photo taken!
We just so happened to come across The Sheriff of Nottingham and his rabble in the Visitor Centre as we were making our way back up to the car park. Which Moo was so pleased about (and I too!) as this meant he had everyone's “autograph”! Great guy who had plenty of time for the children and made them chuckle. The baddies are always the best!
We have already been planning a repeat visit in 2015 and may possibly take Olive with us (she'll be 4 next year!). Luckily so we aren't too sad that we have to wait a year to see Robin Hood again we have been firing arrows, watching Disney's Robin Hood AND counting down the days until PANTO!!!!
CBBC’s Ed Petrie (Marrying Mum and Dad) takes on the role of Robin Hood, at Lighthouse, Poole’s Centre for the Arts from Friday 5 December until Sunday 4 January.
The role of the dastardly Sheriff of Nottingham will be played by Patrick O’Kane (Game of Thrones) who was awesome as Fleshcreep in Jack and the Beanstalk.
New for this year’s production is a relaxed performance at 1.30pm on Tuesday 16 December, where the environment will be specifically adapted for families with children with an Autistic Spectrum Condition, individuals with sensory and communication disorders, those with learning disabilities and anyone who would benefit from a more relaxed environment.
You will spot Megan dressed as Maid Marion (disclaimer she has not been officially cast in this role by Lighthouse, Poole and will not be available for “autographs”) and we shall be taking notes of any historical inaccuracies.
Oh yes we will!