The summer holidays have started in earnest, dear Reader. A constant stream of questions over breakfast of who, what, why and when, leaving me utterly exhausted before I’ve even had my first coffee of the day! With a day spent with the builders not being high on the list of summer holiday fun for Poppy and Primrose, I thought it might be time to pull something out of the entertainment bag sharpish before my little crew resorted to mutiny.
“Gruffalos”, I said through mouthfuls of toast one morning. I mean, who could pass up the chance to hunt for that illusive of creatures, the Gruffalo, dear Reader? “There’s no such a thing as a Gruffalo”, came the reply. No such thing as a Gruffalo? If you’ve read Julia Donaldson’s infamous story, you’ll be sure to know where this is going….. With a somewhat sceptical Poppy and Primrose bundled into the car, we set off to see if we could track one down. Anything to beat the cabin fever of a few rainy summer holiday days. As it turns out, we didn’t have to venture far, since hunting for Gruffalos is the very thing to do at the National Trust’s Mottisfont this summer.
Following a trail right past Mottisfont’s front door, we were undeterred in our search. Would we spy a Gruffalo in the wood….?
No sign there but we see Fox skulking away into the undergrowth. Onwards we marched climbing logs and following streams, till our search led us to the Giant’s garden. Crawling under the washing line (you’ve never seen such big pants, dear Reader), sadly we found no Gruffalos hiding there either.
We even managed to blend in amongst the guests at Betty O’Barley and Harry O’Hay’s wedding to see if he was there,
before stopping to listen to Tiddler’s tallest tales in the ocean…..but………
still no Gruffalos. Could the girls have been right after all? I was starting to wonder. With no trace of our purple prickled friend outside, we decided to try inside the house to see if we could hunt him down there.
I can report that sadly there were no actual sightings inside either. Gosh he really is rather tricky to find. However, we did find a Gruffalo or two upstairs amongst Mottisfont’s latest summer exhibition of Axel Scheffler’s best loved illustrations. Colourful, comical and utterly captivating, this marvellous collection of Scheffler’s work features original artworks, sketches and works in progress from the modern classics which Scheffler collaborated on with the fabulously talented Julia Donaldson, Children’s Laureate from 2011-2013.
The team at Mottisfont are consummate pros when it comes to exhibitions and this one is no exception. With something to delight all ages, the best thing of all is the care and attention taken to hang all the illustrations and sketches at a child’s eye level. No fear of being told off for getting up close to all the exhibits, there’s plenty to interact with too – from a clearing in a wood made from cushions to deckchairs for resting awhile with a story.
We even found Stick Man before he disappeared up in smoke.
Since Gruffalo hunting is hungry work, it was soon time for lunch and perhaps a spot of pudding. No Gruffalo crumble on the menu dear Reader so he must still be out there. I’m wondering if we lost him whilst we made our way through the Climbing bog.
Exhausted and no Gruffalos sighted or captured on this occasion, we decided to call off the search with plans to mount a full scale mission another day. With plenty more Gruffalo fun to be had at Mottisfont and time to enjoy the Axel Scheffler exhibition until 3rd September, we will most certainly be back.
You might like to check out the Gruffalo family fun on offer too, dear Reader. Mottisfont will be running a Gruffalo Sculpture day on 2nd August from 11am until 4pm where you can join in making a big Gruffalo or right at the end of the holidays, the Gruffalo Mural day on 29th and 30th August.
You know, I didn’t tell the girls, dear Reader, but I could swear I heard footsteps behind us as we made our way back to the car. You don’t think….. No it couldn’t have been, could it, dear Reader?