Biscuits. With little raisins in. That’s all I knew about Shrewsbury.
But when Sarah spent a day there for work, she suggested that it would make a nice little family day out. So a couple of Saturdays ago we hopped onto the train from Chester and went to check it out.
In a total fluke, we managed to visit Shrewsbury while Bookfest was going on. It’s a literature festival for kids. There were lots of tents in the main square with yoga sessions, crafts, book swaps and other literary activities.
The tents also provided shelter from the rain. It was late April, so lots of intermittent showers. We’d also just started potty training The Chap. But none of that was going to spoil our day!
Our two got involved straight away making Stick Man and his Stick Lady Love out of twine, elastic bands and twigs. Then we’d timed it just right to catch a storytelling session from Jake Evans, which the Bookworm absolutely loved. In fact, both of the kids are still repeating lines: ‘what can I do with my long, bony fingeeeer…?’
Turns out that ‘Bookfest in the Square’ was only one part of the festival, which went on over the whole weekend. We loved it.
The park, snails and more rain
Sarah wanted us to check out the park, so off we went. We all got a bit wet in the rain, which the kids seemed to enjoy. The council is currently building a new little waterpark beside the playpark, so a return trip in the summer might be needed.
All around the town were big wooden snails, decorated by different artists and groups.
Coffees, toilet trips and a nice sit down very much needed, we headed back into town. Our drizzly walk was accompanied by a robust debate about where we should go for lunch (having already polished off some crisps, strawberries, cheese and several mini baguettes).
Shrewsbury, by the way, has an amazing selection of bakeries and cafes. You can’t turn down a sidestreet without bumping into a sourdough bloomer or a rosemary fougasse, but I didn’t see a single Shrewsbury biscuit.
Camembert and Vikings
Thoroughly damp, we decided on Stop. Coffee Shop in Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery. The place was in high demand, but we managed to grab a table for four and, after a quick round of the ‘now who needs the toilet?’ game, ordered some lunch.
Sarah and I were both mega impressed. We got sweet potato fries and a baked camembert with little bits of rye toast and veggies to dip. The Bookworm shared that. The Chap had beans on some nice, thick toast. Coffee, juice, more toilet trips, then on to the museum itself.
It’s a great museum. We got a £10 family ticket and set off.
The kids enjoyed the Roman Gallery (which you can actually visit for free), and seeing mammoth and Irish elk bones in the Shropshire Gallery. There were lots of interactive bits, like making mosaics and trying on medieval hats with built-in audio headsets describing life as a princess or a cook.
Surprisingly, the kids weren’t particularly bothered about Tudor architecture or Shropshire’s history of ceramics production, but there was more than enough for all of us to enjoy.
By far the best room was Valhalla, a temporary exhibit about Vikings. (I love Vikings.) We all dressed up and played in a Viking tent, learned about Norse mythology, and smelled some gross Viking smells. The Chap enjoyed all of the toy weaponry (of course) and The Bookworm and I learned to stamp our names in runes and play an ancient board game called Hnefatafl.
Apparently there are 1,000 archeological finds in there. We had a brief look and went back to playing Vikings. Did I mention I love Vikings?
The Chap enjoyed being a Viking so much that he did a poo. That episode sorted, we decided to venture home.
We’d hoped to pick up a fancy loaf of bread by the station, but it had already closed when we got there. Oh well.
It was a great day out. We were out of the house from 9–5, which is always a bonus. Shrewsbury seems to have a lot of other things to enjoy, like its independent cinema, The Old Market Hall, and lots of festivals throughout the year.
We’ll be back!
Got any tips for the next time we visit Shrewsbury? Or any other gems for a family day out? Let us know in the comments below.