School's out for summer!

PUBLISHED: 01:16 22 July 2011 | UPDATED: 19:44 20 February 2013

School's out for summer!

School's out for summer!

Activities, trips out and ideas to keep everyone entertained until the classroom doors reopen in September. Words by Emma Ward of the National Trust

Schools out for summer, and while that means hundreds of happy children are let loose, it can be harder for the grown ups to come up with enough activities, trips out and ideas to keep everyone entertained until the classroom doors reopen in September. Emma Ward looks at what the National Trust has on offer

The National Trust is urging families to make the most of these magical weeks of freedom in the school holidays by trying something new, or seeking out some outdoor activities right here in Sussex. With a little bit of planning and imagination, the whole family can experience some amazing days out together. It doesnt need to cost much or even anything at all. For example, if you can bear the early start set the alarm clock to get the whole family up and out into the garden at sunrise with a cup of tea to enjoy the dawn chorus together.
Nature-loving families could also visit the library or go online to find out more about the trees and flowers in their back garden or local park. Creative types could grab a camera, snap some great pictures and make up a summer wildlife scrapbook. The National Trust is running hundreds of nature-based events this summer, from wildlife walks to bug hunts; picnics to pond dipping. Visit the website at to find out how you can get inspired and join in.

History still matters
If history is more your familys bag, you shouldnt stop digging into the past, just because school has finished for the year. See if you can find out about the history of the house, street or even town where you live for a school holiday history project. Or interview family members to find out the unique story of your own family and ancestors.
The National Trust is keen to keep the past alive as well, with historical activities such as the Grand Mediaeval Weekend (13 & 14 August) at Bodiam Castle, near Robertsbridge, not to mention their intriguingly-named Knight and Princess Academy on selected days in August start practising those courtly bows and curtseys! Children can also find out about the First World War at Batemans in Burwash on 6 & 7 August, or go on a horrible history tour of Sheffield Park Garden at Sheffield Park on 2 August.

Kid-friendly crafts and capers
Petworth House and Park in Petworth is hosting several fun things to do for families, over the summer, such as the Petworth School of Witches and Wizardry every Monday in August - dont forget to come dressed as your favourite magical creature and Wacky Wednesday craft afternoons, also running throughout August.
In fact, opportunities to get creative abound in Sussex, with Standen in East Grinstead offering summer craft sessions every Monday between 25 July and 22 August and Batemans hosting its busy bee day on Wednesday August 31, where you can learn how to make candles.

The Plays the Thing
Back by popular demand, The National Trust is also running a full programme of open air theatre and cinema this summer. Whether you prefer the dry wit of Shakespeares Twelfth Night (Standen, 20 August), or the powerful, Oscar-winning drama of The Kings Speech (Bodiam Castle, 29 August), a quick search online will reveal where you can find the best outdoor entertainment in Sussex this summer.
After a day at a National Trust house or garden this summer, visitors are warmly invited to carry on learning about the history, craft techniques and wildlife they encountered by choosing a book from the gift shop or by chatting to members of staff or a volunteer. And a visit wont be the same without a cake, snack or meal in the caf or restaurant to round off the day.
So this month, the National Trusts message is clear: make the most of the summer. Dust off sunhats, pack up picnics, charge cameras and dont forget to bring your crafty, green fingers for some proper Sussex holiday fun this summer.
Discover more events to suit all ages online at


Spiralling Skywards
Spiralling Skywards is a summer exhibition of contemporary sculpture at Nymans, near Haywards Heath in Sussex. It runs until 10 September.
The exhibition features six highly polished metal contemporary sculptures displayed around the garden and house ruins. The sculptures are inspired by geometry and pattern in the natural world.
Exhibition curator Romily Meredith said a series of art projects was planned at Nymans to build on the creative legacy of the Messel family who lived there from 1890.

Talking bench
This week the National Trust unveiled eight benches voiced by celebrities including national treasure Stephen Fry and comedian Miranda Hart. These first ever talking benches are inspired by each of the celebrities and capture areas of natural beauty with their own personal audio odes and anecdotes.
The John Sergeant Petworth House bespoke bench is part of the national collection, which will give listeners a five-minute audio commentary or personal story to bring the surroundings to life so that visitors can listen to the countrys best-known voices as if they were sat next to them.

Refreshing reward
In recognition of the work of volunteer Hildegard Coffins outstanding support for more than 30 years, the team at Batemans recently organised a special tea party for her, together with some of the staff and volunteers she has worked alongside. Robin Mitchell, a fellow volunteer and member of the Kipling Society, presented her with a commemorative plaque, one of only three ever issued by the Society. Hildegard said she has many fond memories of working in such a beautiful, historic house with its close association to Rudyard Kipling.

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