This review of Roald Dahl at Tatton Park was written by Cheryl Flatman, who you can find on Instagram to see what she and her family have been up to lately. Cheryl and her family took this trip to Tatton Park to visit the Phizz-Wizzing Trails, the Cover to Cover exhibition, and to find Fantastic Mr Fox at the Farm.
Recycled decommissioned telephone boxes
Over recent, years many BT telephone boxes have been decommissioned. It’s a sad sight to see them being removed or left to ruin, but I’m happy to say – not in Mobberley! We have three decommissioned telephone boxes in the village the first in the centre of the village was turned into a book exchange for adults. The parish council appealed to the residents on what to do with the 2nd, it occurred to me that it was on the school route for most village children and I suggested that it should be made into a book exchange for children; I’m pleased to say this is exactly what happened. The third outside the village was turned into an information point.
Book exchange in a telephone box
Harry had recently learned of Roald Dahl after a friend at his school described his father reading the “chapter books” to him. Without further ado Harry started to pester to go to the book exchange to look to look for a new book, he selected a couple of suitable books to swap and one sunny afternoon we headed down the road the short distance to the book exchange. Harry spent some time checking the vast array of books, then up on a high shelf, I spotted some old Roald Dahl books! Harry was sold! Happy with his haul we headed home and he poured over them for the remainder of the afternoon deciding which we were to read first.
Knowing we had already booked to go to Tatton to visit the Fantastic Mr Fox event at the Farm I was delighted that this was the very book he had chosen, more so by the fact I had never read it before! Fantastic Mr Fox is a tale of courage and daring where Mr Fox outsmarts 3 greedy farmers in order to save not only his family but the whole underground animal kingdom.
Roald Dahl at Tatton Park
On entering Tatton Park you see elements of the other installations, a glass elevator, Mr Fox’s tail vanishing down a hole, The Twits upside down sitting room, a chocolate bar, and golden ticket. Already getting a feel for the event we parked and took the pleasant stroll down to the farm past carvings of sheep and pigs, made a little longer by Alice’s 1 year old’s pace; for those who choose there is a regular train doing circuits from the excellent play area to the farm and back.
Fantastic Mr Fox at Tatton Old Farm
You enter the farm through a very well placed gift shop featuring many farm related toys and books through to a small courtyard. Initially, the Fantastic Mr Fox exhibits didn’t seem well signposted. Heading left into the piggery we were greeted by Piggywig – a rather large Sow – being escorted back to her shed having spent some quality time up in the fields. Having never thought we would see roaming animals the children amazed by how close they were to such a huge pig!
I was most surprised in the piggery to see low windows for the younger visitors to watch the action, and we saw and heard quite some action. One of the sows has her 7 piglets with her, who made quite the racket when it came to feeding time, which we just caught.
Exiting the piggery we happened upon a live hatchery display, where the keeper had 6 chicks on a long picnic table full of children, where the children could pat the chicks of various ages. The other children seemed to be enjoying getting up close and personal with the wandering chicks. As someone who used to have both ducks and chickens as a young girl, it’s a shame my children didn’t quite feel the same!
From this point forward we picked up the Fantastic Mr Fox trail, helped by the most enthusiastic storyteller who told the tale of Mr Fox and his fox cubs digging in the most engaging way, like the Pied Piper she had all the children following her around the farm to the various locations, from Mr Bunce’s duck and goose sheds to Mr Bean’s cider cellar where if you look closely you can see the rat drinking cider from a pipe in a bottle.
Meeting Fantastic Mr Fox
Having seen Mr Fox’s great feast we separated from the storyteller to visit the play barn, a place where you can have a few moments rest with a drink whilst the children ride pedal tractors (with trailers) to their heart’s content. On dragging the children out of the play barn (anyone would think it was the main attraction!) we saw him, in real life, the Fantastic Mr Fox working the crowds down in the lower courtyard, thinking he was making his way up towards where we were and to save Granny’s knee and Alice’s slow pace we spent a few moments on a bench hoping he would make his way to us, but as I’m sure you can imagine – no sooner were the crowds of children clear another would appear without Mr Fox needing to take another step and so not to disappoint our 4 year old we headed to give Mr Fox a high five and take the opportunity for a photo with the man himself!
We next decided to hunt for Mr Fox’s den in the woodland garden, and much to our surprise the storyteller appeared as if by magic! Thinking she was about to start the story again (having missed the beginning earlier), we settled in the storytelling area on tree stumps to listen to a fascinating tale of a large chicken with a sense of adventure called Basil and a naughty fox who tried to outsmart him when he was too far from the farm, thankfully Basil wasn’t as daft as he looked and made it back to the farm without being tempted by the fox. Another super story well told and had both children and parents captivated.
Play area at Tatton Park Farm
The woodland play area is a great area. Harry enjoyed the activity trail very much, unfortunately there is not much here for younger visitors, although Alice tried, the obstacles were a bit too tough for her. As well as a wicker hut, and an underground hiding hole, there was den building, which is something I’m sure you enjoyed as much as I did as a child when in a forest!
Ice cream in Willy Wonka’s factory
After all that on such a lovely May day we decided that an ice cream was in order and so headed to the stable yard. Through Willy Wonka’s factory entrance you are greeted by the most fantastic looking carousel, steering past this we enjoyed our ice creams in the large seating area before enjoying the carousel. Well, when I say ‘enjoying’ for Alice this was at least getting on it, sitting on it with me, before deciding “no likey” and proceeding to try to get off! Harry, however, enjoyed a rise and fall of the ride which seemed to go on for ages waving at every pass whilst Alice and I watched from the ground.
Roald Dahl at Tatton Old Farm Review
All in all the Farm and Fantastic Mr Fox activities at Tatton completely surpassed my expectations. I expected to spend an hour or so in the farm looking at the standard set of animals, lifting both children at every stall and seeing nothing more than a few printed images of Mr Fox, but we spent over 3 hours in total at Tatton, heard fabulously told stories, met Mr Fox, and enjoyed the animals up close – many of which Alice (aged one), in particular, could see for herself (only the horses we behind high barn doors with no low viewing windows).
I can highly recommend Tatton as a fantastic day out.
What’s your favourite Roald Dahl book?