16 October 2015

Exploring Nottingham

I have lived in Nottingham all my life and as a child spent so much time visiting many of the city's attractions, whether on school trips or with my parents. Some of those attractions are long gone, like the Tales of Robin Hood for instance and for a time Brewhouse Yard which now only opens at the weekends.

But there is still a lot this beautiful city has to offer and on Saturday as part of the Get Creative Arts Festival we were invited to visit some of the attractions and really experience what Nottingham has to offer.

First of all, we stopped by the wonderful and historic Theatre Royal, this building has been standing proudly in our city for the last 150 years. Meaning that many generations of my family will have seen it and most likely been inside too. The Theatre is as magnificent now as you imagine it would have been back then, with very few changes having taken place in that time, not because they couldn't be bothered but why change something so beautiful and that works. Having only really ever been in there when it's full, I hadn't had time to appreciate the acoustics of the theatre, it was magnificent and a true work of art in itself.

We were lucky enough to go behind the scenes and onto the stage, what a beautiful way to see the theatre. It was easy to see why when the lights go up at the end of a performance the actors were all smiling at the people sat in the seats, truly wonderful. Backstage was all the lighting and props for the current play, i'd love to explore more of this sometime.

We then got to pop onto the stage off the Royal Concert Hall, where they were setting up for the Bodyguard Musical. Compared to it's older sibling next door, the concert hall is the modern youngster, being only the same age a me. Yes, I know, really young!

I have only ever seen the stage from being in the audience and with the set already build, so had never really appreciated how big a space this is. never seen it from the stage or without it's stage props and set you can't really get a sense of the size, It was great to pop in and see some of what goes on behind the scenes.

Next, we headed to the Central Library, it's one place in Nottingham we never really think of visiting but as family who often pop in for a break in Waterstones, this may very well be our new place to drop in and read when in town. We don't have to worry about breaking the books and the kids can play too.

In the holidays there are always lots of activities, so if you are in town shopping then why not pop into the library for a sit down and relax whilst the children find some books to read, you could even take them home with you, as if you are in the Nottingham area you can take them back to any library.

Afterwards, we headed to the Nottingham Contemporary, a usual haunt for us as a family on shopping days, days where we might be meeting friends later and those wet days where we just want something indoors to do.

At the weekend there is always a room with something for the children to do, get messy, read books and make a noise, it basically allows the children to blow off some steam in someone else's house.

There are always lots of art installations to see, some of which are interactive and this month was no different. The fabulous Sun Ra installation was a musical one, with headphones dangling from the ceiling, we got to listen to fabulous jazz music whilst drawing the music we heard onto stickers. Dressed in yellow ponchos to match the yellow room we then stuck the stickers on to ourselves and each other in our own piece of art.

We were then invite to paint sun ra inspired images on the walls in the family room which was great fun and the children loved it, although the amount of paint dripping around did leave me a little bit panicky.

The contemporary have a great cafe which we have visited many times in the last few years, with young children, older children and family it is a lovely place to have a coffee before you carry on exploring. With the addition of the explorer pack which has lots of activities for the galleries it means you could spend a good few hours in there with lunch to break the day up.

After this we headed onto the new section of the tram, having used the tram park and ride we already knew what a handy service this was, spending the whole day in town having travelled in by car would have cost a lot more than the tram for all of us, with a weekend all day family pass costing just £5.

We rode the tram over to the Lakeside, with the new tram section this is now so easy to get to from town with just a short 5-10 minute ride meaning you are there for a great park, lake and the wonderful lakeside arts.

Our task was to look at the current exhibition which were some beautiful clay bugs and beetles and then make our own.

Using air dry clay we took to making our own bugs, my daughter chose to make a butterfly, there were so many beautiful ones to take inspiration from on the wall that my daughter found it difficult to choose which one to make.

With so many more attractions in and around Nottingham, including the Castle, Newstead Abbey and Green's Windmill to name a few as well as plenty of shops and restaurants, Nottingham is such a great place to spend the day.

When you live in a city you don't always think about exploring it as a tourist, a place you always visit sometimes doesn't seem as interesting as another, but this has opened my eyes to a city I loved as child and to explore more of it with mine.

Thank you to the teams from the Theatre, Library, Contemporary and Lakeside for having us for the day, it was brilliant and we had a great time exploring our lovely city.

Why not look and see whats on in your city and have some family fun.

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