Our Woodchester Wednesdays are running again in 2013. Words by Sandie Clarke, pictures by Roger Gosling.
See gallery for more pictures
Woodchester Wednesdays Week 1 - Go Outdoors (24 July 2013)
Fully booked and raring to go, we were glad to see the bus come trundling down the track loaded with lots of excited young visitors once again.
With the sun shining brightly we were glad to go up into the cool woods to collect branches big and small to make our den but dragging them back down to the Mansion made us hot and thirsty. After a welcome drink, Adam showed us how to weave the branches in to make the den really strong - hopefully it will last a long time for other visitors to enjoy. Later, we made some interesting creatures to hang in the tree by the Mansion and had a nature quiz based on wildlife in the valley.
We were pleased to welcome back some familiar faces including Scarlett and Darcy who brought along their 3 week old baby brother Eli. Also Caldora who brought along her much bigger brother!
We're all looking forward to meeting the owl next week!
Woodchester Wednesdays Week 2 - Owls Day (31 July 2013)
Today was a fantastic day! We were busy in the morning making owls in all shapes, sizes and colours and you can see the results in the photos.
Barn owls were clearly the favourites in the clay models and very realistic they were too. John Dowling came after lunch with some large black boxes and there was a collective 'Aaaah' when he opened the first one and brought out a large eagle Owl. He fixed his beady eyes on us, looked around and then did an enormous poo! ( the
owl that is!) The other box held a beautifully marked barn owl who allowed us all to hold him and gently stroke his chest. John answered all our questions and we all agreed it had been a very special day.
Next week Victorians - we're going to make a play!
Woodchester Wednesdays Week 3 - Victorian Day (7 August 2013)
This week we went back to Victorian times! Costumes changed everyone into different characters - chimney sweeps, stable boys, chamber maids, the Leigh family and even a ragged orphan girl. We had fun making spinning THAUMATROPES, lovely smelly lavender bags and flower brooches - no TVs or ipads for Victorian children!
In the afternoon we improvised a play! Everyone had a part and we used our ideas about the history of the mansion to work out the story. Freddie and Scarlett took on the roles of Mr and Mrs Leigh and Joe was the architect Mr Bucknell. Sophie looked very sad as the ragged orphan but it all ended happily as she was given a job as a kitchen maid as a reward for finding Mrs Leigh's necklace. Thank you everyone for joining in and making today such a successful day!
Next week it's carving!
Woodchester Wednesdays Week 4 - Carvings Day (14 August 2013)
Nice to see lots of new faces today! A full group again so another busy day.
We had a good look at the intricate carvings round the house to get some ideas for our own designs and then we got to work. A stray bat gave us a surprise in the bathroom! Brilliant ideas were drawn by everyone and then we got busy carving, such concentration, it went very quiet as everyone got into cutting, shaping, smoothing and then we made some 'stone paint' to cover the Oasis and make it look like a real carving. Some people found it frustrating when a key bit broke off at the last minute but that made us realise how difficult it must have been for the Masons. Luckily we had some spare blocks!
After lunch Adam showed us some of the old tools left behind by the masons who built the Mansion and he explained how the intricate shapes were chiselled out with different tools. Isaac dressed up as a mason with hard hat, goggles and gloves and looked ready to get started on a big block of stone. We finished the day with a carvings hunt around the house - everyone managed to find all the carvings so well done!
Sadly next week it's our last week- we're planning to work on the Wild Life Garden at the front of the Mansion, making bug hotels, bird feeders and a willow tunnel. Wear old clothes and wellies and maybe bring some gloves!
Woodchester Wednesdays Week 5 - Go Outdoors Day (21 August 2013)
An important day today as we got to work on the new Wildlife Garden at the front of the Mansion. We started with a wildlife survey to see what was there already and we found lots of species including a little froglet! We had some real wildlife experts today and they soon got busy making a bug hotel with sections for different guests. The willow tunnel soon took shape and we made a variety of bird feeders ( with our favourite toilet roll middles!) Everyone was keen to do some den building (big and small!) so it was off to the woods after lunch to find some branches, bring them back and then decide on designs. The result was eight very different dens: a strong wigwam, a neat triangular shelter, a freeform loose den, a mega den that fitted 23 children,a perfect teddy-sized den and the smallest den in the world! Well done everyone,brilliant designs and strong constructions!
Sadly that's the last activity day for this year. Its been a fantastic summer, with lovely weather, super enthusiastic children and parents and a
great team of helpers. We are so lucky to have the Mansion as a backdrop for our summer activities! Look out for what we'll be doing in 2014.