Today we were lucky enough to be invited by HIT Entertainment to a day out at Warwick Castle to meet Mike the Knight. Despite living pretty close by, we haven’t yet taken the boys to Warwick Castle and both of them were super excited at the thought of today’s adventure.
If I’m honest, before we arrived this morning I’d thought that the day would be quite corporate and mainly orientated around selling merchandise, but I’m pleased to say I was wrong. Yes, there was a (pretty small, actually) tent filled with Mike the Knight toys, but the other activities that were laid on most definitely took precedence and had been really carefully thought out.
The boys, who are very new to all things Mike the Knight-related, were very impressed by the mahooosive sandcastle that greeted us as we trotted on our trusty steeds down to the tents.
We were encouraged to create our own sandcastles and to enter a them into a competition, but our efforts probably weren’t up to public viewing 😉 We all had a fab time playing in the sandpit though and it was really nice to have such an open-ended activity to enjoy. There were other Mike the Knight themed ‘summer fête’ attractions as well, such as a variation on a coconut shy:
We also enjoyed beanbag target practice and building castles out of grey foam bricks. Again, this was a great open-ended activity and the we literally had to drag the boys away to give some of the other children a look-in.
One of the loveliest things for M and I, however, was watching the boys join in with Princess Evie’s Wizard Workshop. The actress playing Evie drew all the children in and made sure they were involved in the games, which required them to make an imaginary pie and pretend to clean up Mike’s tent, among other things. Even H, who usually sits back and observes at the toddler classes we attend, was singing action songs with gusto and running under parachutes and things. Usually one or both of the boys would want either M or I to sit with them for activities like this, especially when they’re around people they don’t know, but it was a credit to ‘Princess Evie’ that they felt comfortable enough to ignore us completely!
All the activities had a purpose behind them, encouraging children to adhere to Mike the Knight’s Chivalrous Code, which provides some really sweet and appropriate pieces of ‘advice’. I also like the fact that Princess Evie is a trainee wizard and is capable of having adventures by herself, rather than just waiting to be rescued by Mike. The boys loved meeting Mike the Knight, but were equally – if not more – interested in the character of Evie. It brings me constant joy that that the boys have female role models as well as male and I will do my best to ensure that this continues to be the case as they grow up as well.
We were also able to visit all the other attractions within Warwick Castle and as the boys had brought along their Very High Quality *ahem* swords (purchased on our recent holiday) they were over the moon to see the Warwick Warriors’ sword fighting and to check out the weapons on display in the Great Hall.
We also walked along the castle walls – a total of 530 steps, some of which were very steep – and enjoyed pointing out to the boys a new perspective on local landmarks that they are more used to seeing from the ground. C, in particular, did very well and managed the whole of this walk himself, which gave him enormous pride 🙂
My own pride, if you can call it that, came from a somewhat different place, and yes, that place is book-related 😉 Throughout the whole of the day, C (and H, where his more limited vocabulary would allow) showed us that not only has he taken in everything that’s been read to him over the nearly four years he’s been alive, but that the reading of these books has contributed to the rich development of his imagination.
As we walked up from the car park to castle, C was talking non-stop about what the trees we passed underneath looked like and how walking through the tunnel of leaves made him think he was in, “a roaring cave filled with adventurous knights and dragons who needed cuddles so they’d stop breathing fire.”
As we watched the sword show, he was making comparisons with his ‘Sir Charlie Stinky Socks’ books and started to make up his own missions that he might have to complete (using his sword), then describing what obstacles he might have to face.
When we watched the birds of prey performance he said he thought the bird was a barn owl and that it reminded him of Sarah, Percy and Bill in ‘Owl Babies’. When a peacock wandered in front of us as we rested on the grass, he called out to ‘Limelight Larry’ and started blowing him kisses!
So, even though we do have a lot of books, it would seem that the boys are picking out their own favourites and that many of them are making a real and lasting impact. I’m taking this as free licence to get rid of all extraneous furniture and to buy even more books – HUZZAH! In the spirit of the day, the dubbing has commenced and I hereby pronounce two new knights. “Arise, Sir Readalot!” and “Arise, Sir Brillobooks!” – may your adventures be many and varied and may you always find new ones in stories.
With many thanks to all at HIT Entertainment and Warwick Castle for a lovely day out. You can watch Mike the Knight on CBeebies and a new series is due to air this summer.