More council-run venues, facilities and attractions to re-open this week

As life begins to return to normal, more council-run local venues, facilities and attractions are reopening the public this week, including:

Beverley Guildhall, East Riding Museum and the Treasure House in Beverley, and Goole Museum will all reopen from Monday 6 July. In the first phase of reopening, it will only be possible to visit the sites by following a prescribed route, which has been designed to ensure appropriate social distancing. The number of people in the building at any one time will be limited.

Beverley Art Gallery in the Treasure House in Champney Road, Beverley, will reopen on Monday 6 July. Visitors will be able to see two exhibitions which had just opened as lockdown began in March; ‘Journey Into Abstraction’,  a retrospective exhibition of the contemporary British artist John Sprakes, and ‘Reading the Landscape – Photographs and Words Inspired by Walking the Wolds’, an exhibition produced with photographer Peter Heaton, who lives near York and has been inspired by nature writers such as Robert Macfarlane and J.A. Baker. For further details, visit the website.

All 84 East Riding of Yorkshire Council-maintained play areas will reopen tomorrow, Saturday 4 July. However people are being urged to take notice of signs at all of the sites reminding families that the current COVID-19 restrictions are in place to help keep everyone safe. 

Sewerby Hall and Gardens will continue its phased reopening this weekend, when the house itself and the play area will be reopen to visitors. The cafe will continue to offer a takeaway only service. This follows the earlier reopening of the zoo, gardens (including the walled garden), the ice cream parlour, the welcome centre and the toilets. For the time being, the putting green, golf course and giant games will remain closed, as will Flamborough Lighthouse. For more information, visit the website.

Junction challenges local people to get creative!

Goole arts venue Junction is looking for 2D artworks to brighten up the poster boards outside the front of the building while they remain closed to the public.

Artwork can be made by adults or children, and could be drawn, painted, stitched or written – as long as it’s flat, Junction can accept it. Your piece could be related to the lock-down or about something completely different, the only limit is your imagination!

The artwork will be displayed in the large film poster boards near the main entrance and will be visible to all visitors to Paradise Place. It should be no larger than A3 size in any format. If you would like your name to be displayed alongside your artwork, please include this clearly with your submission. As the boards are outside, artwork may be damaged by the elements whilst on display and, for this reason, Junction will be unable to return any artwork submitted.

Drop off physical artworks at Junction between 10 and 2pm from Monday to Friday, or send any digital work to lauren.gtc@btconnect.com.

Fun activities for children under five years

East Riding Museums have unveiled even more activities for children under five years (including babies) and their families during this period when people are having to spend more time at home.

The new suggested activities – Boats, Windmills and Beverley Town – are inspired by Goole Museum, Skidby Mill and Beverley Guildhall and feature ideas for music and signing, craft, role play, sensory experiences, and messy play.

Activities on the theme of boats, including making a junk model boat and exploring the sensory qualities of rope, shells, wooden toys and pebbles, link with Goole Museum’s extensive collection of objects and stories relating to Goole’s history as a port town.

Activities inspired by Skidby Mill encourage people to investigate the physical qualities of windmills and their purpose. Ideas include building a giant windmill to play inside and making a messy play mix from flour and milk.

Beverley Guildhall’s collection showcases the history of Beverley and the surrounding villages, and themed activities include drawing a map and singing the classic song ‘The Wheels on the Bus’.

Lucy Cooke, under fives learning co-ordinator, said: “We have already suggested activities linked to our other East Riding Museums venues, so I am very pleased to unveil more ideas linked to more of our fantastic museums in the East Riding!

“I hope that people will enjoy trying out these ideas for fun things to do in these challenging times.”

Find these ideas at the new website, Active East Riding.

Local arts venues bring comedy into our homes

A number of the region’s best-loved small theatres and arts centres have joined forces to provide an evening of FREE entertainment from highly-acclaimed national touring acts, which will be broadcast live to viewers’ homes this Sunday 7 June at 8pm.

Part of the virtual comedy project Your Place Comedy, the broadcast will see two of Radio 4’s most popular comedy broadcasters, Jo Caulfield and Simon Evans, each deliver a live set direct from their own homes. Both Jo and Simon have been seen on BBC2’s Mock the Week and Live At The Apollo, as well as, between them, starring on BBC1’s Have I Got News For You and Question Time, BBC2’s Never Mind The Buzzcocks and Channel 4’s Stand Up For The Week. They are regulars on BBC Radio 4’s The Now Show, The News QuizThe Unbelievable Truth and Just A Minute. Jo has starred in three series of her own show, Its That Jo Caulfield Again, and Simon has written and presented five series of Simon Evans Goes To Market.

The event, which will be compered by writer and star of Radio 4’s The Gambler, presenter of CBBC’s Super Human Challenge and Edinburgh Comedy Award Best Newcomer nominee, Tim FitzHigham, will be free to watch on YouTube and Twitch, with an option for viewers to donate if they have enjoyed the broadcast. All money raised will be distributed equally between the ten supporting venues, which include Junction, Goole; Howden Shire Hall; Pocklington Arts Centre; East Riding Theatre at Beverley and Selby Town Hall, each of which is navigating its way through challenging financial times. The venues participating in the project have all pledged funds to support the performers involved and provide their audiences with entertainment from the kind of artists who, in normal times, would have been appearing in their local arts centre or theatre.

Chris Jones, manager of Selby Town Hall, said: “While, sadly, our doors remain closed for the immediate future, this hasnt stopped venues from across the region working hard to find new ways of delivering high quality entertainment in innovative formats to the audiences they miss so much. All the theatres and arts centres involved in Your Place Comedy are deeply rooted in their communities, and want to maintain those vital links which allow them to bring some of the most sought after national and international touring acts to the towns and cities of Yorkshire and beyond. We are all determined to help keep the live performance industry afloat at a time when it has never been needed more.”

For more information, visit Your Place Comedy.

Follow the trail

To borrow a line from the famous song, ‘if you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise…’

A truly magical and memorable experience awaits visitors to Northwood Trail, a new family-friendly attraction located in an ancient 100-acre wood near Buttercrambe in North Yorkshire.

Billed as a ‘fairy sanctuary’, the Northwood Trail draws on the wood’s fascinating history and links with Professor Harvey John Howland, an eminent Victorian ‘fairy collector, researcher and fellow of the New Society of Arcane Natural History’, who made Northwood his home. The society based there was a little-known organisation with high-profile connections to the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood group of English painters and poets, and well as the New England Transcendentalists, an influential group of  writers, critics, philosophers, theologians and social reformers.

In 2008, many of Professor Howland’s writings, journals and sketches were found locked away in an abandoned woodshed, alongside his important collection of fairy antiquities. Professor Howland is known to have corresponded with both the illustrator Arthur Rackham and the writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, both of whom are believed to have visited Northwood.

In 1847 Professor Howland wrote: “The woodlands of Yorkshire are brimming with a hundred different sorts of faerie races, both noble and otherwise; and while some of them could be said to be as mad as their southern cousins; none would call them frivolous”. 

Many of the fairy tree houses and homes in the wood had fallen into disrepair but – with the blessing of the fairies, of course – they have been restored, and it’s old fairy pathways have been reopened. The trail begins on Professor Howland’s Ride, where visitors will spot many of the original fairy doors on the trees. You can buy a copy of an exquisite hand-drawn map to guide you along the winding woodland paths, which have whimsical names that are sure to set imaginations running wild, such as Giant’s Road, Plato’s Shadows and The Slumbering. The trail leads you through a maze called The Trapping, via bridges and archways, and on towards The Chamber of Truth and Justice, where the King and Queen of the Wood Elves are said to hold their court, and Titania’s Garden, a simple outdoor play area that encourages children to build dens, climb and explore.

Along the way, you’ll spot the fairy hamlet at Spider Tree Snicket, where the tree houses are connected by bridges and walkways, and a mushroom fairy ring that has been completely repaired based on sketches of the original, which was built on the same spot in 1852. Throughout the whole experience, you’re in the heart of beautiful woodland made up of oaks, pines, firs and birch, and the air is full of birdsong from the 200 different species that live in the wood. Yet more magic awaits in the charming little Fairy Museum at the end of the trail, although I won’t spoil the lovely surprise tucked away behind what look like cupboard doors. The homemade cakes in the cosy Northwood Kitchen are delicious too.

If it sounds twee, it really isn’t! It’s well thought out and beautifully-styled, with care taken to ensure that every inch of the attraction is in harmony with its picturesque setting. If you’re expecting an all-singing, all-dancing Disney-style experience, Northwood Trail is not the place for you. It’s good, old-fashioned outdoor adventure that encourages children to use their imagination and spend time in nature.

We were accompanied on our visit by two seven-year-old girls, one of whom announced as we pulled up in the car park that she didn’t ‘believe in fairies’ and didn’t ‘want to walk’. Just a few minutes later, she was whooping with delight at the sight of fairy doors in the trees and running ahead of us up the path desperate to see more. Both girls were completely engrossed in the wonderful story told by the map, which features little anecdotes that help to explain the relevance of the places along the trail, and also full of excitement wondering what they’d find next. If we’re honest, we loved it just as much as the children and are looking forward to visiting again later in the year, either to see the wood in its autumn glory or to sit by the woodburning stove in Northwood Kitchen with a hot chocolate on a crisp winter day.

Meet the family behind The Northwood Trail

The Northwood Trail is the latest attraction from Christian and Carolyn Van Outersterp, the couple who are widely credited with getting us all hooked on the concept of glamping after they launched Jollydays, the luxury campsite located next to Northwood Trail, back in 2008. In 2017, the family established a second site near Sancton; North Star Club offers ultra-stylish, log cabin accommodation set in the largest wood in East Yorkshire.

Like both Jollydays and North Star Club, Northwood Trail bears all the hallmarks of the couple’s immense skill and expertise in design and project management. Christian originally trained as a landscape architect and Carolyn worked in fashion but, together, they previously ran an award-winning fireplace business, which won them a coveted design medal from HRH Prince Charles and led to their iconic fire bowl being exhibited at London’s Victoria And Albert Museum. After Carolyn gave birth to the couple’s four children – Alto, Galatea, Midori and Angel – the demands of their London-based design business became too much and they began thinking about business ideas that would be better suited to family life.

Carolyn said: “We’re both passionate about Yorkshire as we each have many happy childhood memories of time spent here and it’s our adopted home. We decided it was the place that we wanted to bring up our family. Our businesses have enhanced family life; they’ve been fantastic places for the children to hang out at weekends and they all get jobs to do. They have a strong work ethic; it’s good for them to have time in nature and to encourage their independence.”

As well as underpinning the way the Van Outersterps have brought up their own children, this same ethos applies to the visitor experience at their attractions. 

Carolyn added: “Northwood’s hundred-acre wood is very close to this family’s heart: they have always loved this magical woodland and, appalled by the quality of children’s attractions, wanted to create a natural experience that appealed to adults and children equally. 

“We’ve always disliked the patronising of children, from the youngest ages our kids always hated anything overtly ‘childish’; who says all kids love bright colours and naff cartoon characters? In our experience, children have a huge capacity to appreciate nature, beauty and intricacy.”

The couple’s eldest daughter Galatea, a writer and illustrator, has a formidable knowledge of the history and culture of Northwood. She has acquired a substantial library of writings on fairy folklore and uncovered the forgotten history of what really is a remarkable place. 

For more information, visit www.northwoodtrail.co.uk.