A Roald Dahl kind of day at Tatton

Fantastic Mr Fox tail at Tatton Park

BFG at Tatton Park

‘And above all watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you, because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.

Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.’ The Minions, Roald Dahl.

Tatton Park may not be the most unlikely of places as it’s a beautiful place for a day out, but there’s definitely lots of secrets hidden around the house and grounds this summer as part of its Roald Dahl-themed events programme to celebrate the author’s centenary year.

We spent a day there last week and there was so much to see and do that a day just wasn’t long enough – we’re definitely going back to check out the things we missed. Sadly, the day we chose to go it poured down with rain (I was over-optimistic with the weather forecast) so most of the activities in the gardens were off-limits.

Fantastic Mr Fox tail at Tatton Park

Still, we spent a lot of time in the mansion house, the farm and the play area despite the weather and had a really good day. As Sam reminded me, you don’t need to have sunshine to have a good time! Kids don’t really mind what the weather’s like anyway, do they?

I was asked to be an ambassador for the Roald Dahl Tremendous Adventures installation and was only too happy to say yes. We all love his books and Sam and I are working through all the titles at the moment so it was perfect timing for us. Florence is still too young to know the stories but loved seeing all the characters and exploring alongside us.

We started down at the farm, where the Fantastic Mr Fox things are hiding.

‘Boggis, Bunce and Bean, one fat, one short, one lean. Those horrible crooks so different in looks are nonetheless equally mean.’

Mr Bunce at Tatton

The homes of the three farmers are recreated in the barns around the farm, our favourite being that of Boggis, who was of course sat at his kitchen table tucking into his dinner. You could walk into his house and have a look round, even peeking in at his washing hanging on a line in the front room.

We also loved the home of Farmer Bean, the one who brews his own strong cider which can be seen stacked on shelves inside.

As well as sneaking into their houses, we joined in with a story time session in a hut central to the farm. There was a fabulous storyteller all dressed up like a farmer with fox accessories, and she really captivated the children as she told a tale of animals being stuck in the mud.

Story time at Tatton

The gardens at Tatton Estate

Matilda at tatton

Using puppets to bring the stories alive, each of the children were given one each to hold so they all had a part to play in the story. There were only five little ones in our session, making it a really engaging and intimate experience.

While at the farm, we had the chance to see lots of the big pigs and cute little piglets, and we even held some chicks in the hatchery.

Walking up to the mansion, we passed a model of the great glass elevator, walked under a sign for Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, and saw a huge cut out of the BFG. We stopped in the courtyard for an ice lolly and a cup of tea (there was a tiny break in the rain) before going to the house for the Matilda installation.

Taking a toddler into a stately home may not be the easiest thing to do, as I found when Flo snuck under the red rope and made herself comfortable on a chaise longue! It’s quite something walking through the house though, and most rooms have something from a Roald Dahl story in to find. We liked seeing the chocolate cake eaten by Augustus Gloop and trying on some blonde wigs with long plaits that made us look just like Matilda’s Amanda Thripp. Sam looked the best in these!

We spent some time at the top of the house, where there were desks set out with different activities on like unscrambling character name anagrams and doing sums, there was a dressing up box and mirror, and even a tall thin chokey cupboard to go in. Luckily, Miss Trunchball wasn’t around to really lock us in!

Next time we visit we will definitely be spending our time outdoors, as I’ve heard good things about Danny the Champion of the World in the Gardens and The Enormous Crocodile in the Parkland.

There is also the How to Spot a Witch Manual, where visitors can step inside an interactive ‘book’ and explore objects and artworks on the witch-spotting theme.

If you’re lucky enough to make it to the RHS Flower Show this year, watch out for the Tatton Park show garden which is BFG-themed.

My friend Andy is also exhibiting for the NSPCC so go and check out his space too!

The Roald Dahl Tremendous Adventures installation is on all summer but see the Tatton Park website for the exact dates of each section.

x Julia

Sam outside Farmer Bunce's shed

Chick holding at tattoo farm

Piglets at Tatton

Flo as The Witches at Tatton Park

Fantastic Mr Fox sign at Tatton

Apple cider at Tatton

In the rain at Tatton Park

Pigs at Tatton Farm

Wigs at Tatton Park

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  • Reply
    June 22, 2016 at 9:05 pm

    Oh this looks ace – what a lovely day out! AND the piggies!! x
    Donna recently posted…Introducing Miranda’s Letter from British CouncilMy Profile

  • Reply
    Flossy and Jim
    June 22, 2016 at 10:22 pm

    Wow! How did you get to be an ambassador!? That is fantastic! It looks like an amazing place to visit – LOVE Roald Dahl – my two have all my old books and have read them all several times. Are you going to see the BFG at the cinema?! Eeeeeeh I’m so excited about it!!! You are right about Sam – he rocks them pigtails – haha! What is your friend exhibiting? Xx

  • Reply
    Emma Lofthouse-Burch
    June 22, 2016 at 10:55 pm

    What a fabulous day out, my 5 year old absolutely loves everything Roald Dahl. X
    Emma Lofthouse-Burch recently posted…Slow Cooker BologneseMy Profile

  • Reply
    June 25, 2016 at 7:04 am

    This looks amazing! Definitely going to the list of places to visit over the summer (just wish there were more weekends left, I seem to have lots booked up!) xx

  • Reply
    Tracey Williams
    June 25, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    Gorgeous pictures Julie and what a great addition to Tatton Park. My daughter loves Roald Dahl so I think we need to take a visit over the summer holidays x
    Tracey Williams recently posted…Embrace the festival season with Bratz Festival Vibe DollsMy Profile

  • Reply
    Karen Whitlock
    June 26, 2016 at 6:58 am

    This looks amazing – Freyja would love it. Pity it is so far away from us.

  • Reply
    Hayley @hayleyfromhome
    June 27, 2016 at 8:47 pm

    I love that last photo!! It is so much fun isn’t it, we will be going back to go round the house as we didn’t manage to do that but I’d go again just for the gardens, they are amazing!! I love how much there is to see there xx
    Hayley @hayleyfromhome recently posted…A Little Bit Lately #25My Profile

  • Reply
    Everything Mummy
    June 28, 2016 at 12:54 pm

    Oh wow this looks so much fun I am going to look to see if theres anything Roald Dahl going on near us, seems to be everywhere doesn’t it, lovely photo’s too! xx
    Everything Mummy recently posted…Murder Mysteries At West Compton ManorMy Profile

  • Reply
    Mini Travellers
    June 30, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    It’s just brilliant isn;t it! Can’t wait to go back
    Mini Travellers recently posted…Orlando Villas for Lovers of Star Wars, Lego, Harry Potter and More..My Profile

    • Reply
      July 5, 2016 at 6:51 am

      Me neither! x

  • Reply
    Caro | The Twinkle Diaries
    July 1, 2016 at 10:36 am

    This is my favourite, favourite kind of day out!! And that was *before* I had children!!!! Even better now I DO have children!!! I love all the Roald Dahl books too — what a lovely way to bring them to life! xx
    Caro | The Twinkle Diaries recently posted…173 weeks and 1 day | Me and Mine {June}My Profile

    • Reply
      July 5, 2016 at 6:47 am

      Ah it really is so good Caro, worth a trip up north for I would say! xx

  • Reply
    July 8, 2016 at 10:41 pm

    Looks like a wonderful day out – and F holding that chick!! I loved Roald Dahl as a child so looking forward to re-discovering with M. Hope there is something near us too xx
    mamasvib recently posted…V. I. BUYS: Sweetie, Darling…this is how to look Absolutely Fabulous TODAY!My Profile

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