July was such a glorious month and just what summer should be, a far cry from last year’s July during which, if I remember correctly, I needed to put the heating back on.
The month kicked off with a theatre trip for me and my oldest two girls. We went to see the Knights of the Rose at the Arts Theatre, a play that combines a Shakespearean feel with 80s classic rock. All in all, we found the show very good. The actors were great and the singing in particular was incredibly powerful and moving at times.
We all agreed though, that the ending was rather abrupt and a bit of a dampener, letting down what would otherwise have been a fabulous show. We felt that they should have ended up on more of a high, something that would have involved the audience more and got everyone up and out of their seats. The show lasts for another couple of weeks so if you love the rock classics (particularly Bon Jovi, which got several features), you have until the 26th of August to see it. Don’t forget that a good way of finding discounted and money off theatre tickets (and pretty much anything else) is through a curated voucher code site such as VoucherToday.
It would have been so wrong not to make the most of the sunshine, so this month we certainly did. Once again we made the most of our National Trust membership. A family membership, which only costs £10 a month, enables two adults and up to 10 children to gain free entry into hundreds of places throughout the UK.
We headed off to Polesden Lacey, a magnificent Edwardian house set upon 1400 acres of Surrey countryside in Great Bookham.
Here the kids could run up hills, roll down them and become giants of the woods that create tiny ant dens…
…and you can tick off all your tasks in your ’50 Things To Do Before 11¾” book in one go, even if you haven’t quite done them all just yet.
It’s a fabulous place for climbing trees and making new friends…
…or for having a refreshing Pimms whilst listening to the live jazz band play. There really was no better way we could have spent a Sunday afternoon.
The three older-middle boys and I headed off to the Historic Dockyard in Chatham. This is a wonderful place that is packed full of rich, naval history.
However, it wasn’t this alone we came to see. We were invited along for a preview of Brick History, a temporary LEGO exhibition that showcased several periods of history and moments within them.
This art, because yes, LEGO models are classed as art, was created by Warren Elsmore, author of the book and his team of artists, who created a visual LEGO reproduction of moments in time such as the Boston Tea Party…
…and even a historical version of our local Rochester Castle.
You can even take a peek at tiny LEGO Mozart tinkling the ivories…
…or simply watch the world go by…
Visitors to the exhibition also have the opportunity to create their own Historical Dockyard-themed competition entry out of LEGO bricks to be in with a chance of winning a prize…
I’m not sure how often Batman looks over the dockyard…
…but Sid’s version of the HMS Cavalier seems to be a little more apt. (That’s not to say I don’t think Batman does look over the dockyard, just that I haven’t witnessed him myself. Anything is possible, after all).
The Brick History LEGO Exhibition runs at the Historic Dockyard until 16th September so if you’re visiting the attraction be sure to stop by and see it. There is also a supporting Brick History book that LEGO fans might also be interested in.
The end of the school year meant the end of the Boys’ and Girls’ Brigades for the summer. This was celebrated with a party and awards night for the latter, and the annual family BBQ for the former. Happy Days!
Even cloudy days were still good days to make the most of, again with our National Trust membership.
This time it was to visit Sissinghurst Castle Gardens right here in Kent.
It is such a pretty place for a wander, although the pathways along the gardens are very narrow indeed which has the potential to become a little stressful when busy.
Finally, the three older-middle boys and I headed off to London where it was once again theatre time. This time it was off to The Old Vic theatre to see the stage adaptation of A Monster Calls.
The book A Monster Calls was created from an idea by the late award-winning writer Siobhan Dowd, whose vision was realised by twice Carnegie medal-winning Patrick Ness. Ness transformed Dowd’s idea into an emotional story of love, loss, hurt, anger and healing, which was later also developed into a feature film laden with special effects.
The stage production was very different with extremely few effects in place. The simplicity of the set, consisting primarily of several chairs across the stage and ropes descending from above – allowed the performance to focus on the story and characters themselves.
The plainness of the set worked well and we thought the production was aptly delivered to fit the sensitive, emotional nature of the tale.
The theatrical production of A Monster Calls is running at The Old Vic until 25th August, with tickets starting at just £12. Due to the sensitivity of the story, it is recommended for children over 10 years of age.