Last Saturday ten-year-old Matilda Smart, her family and two friends joined us at the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Great Missenden for what can only be described as a Dahl-esque fest of discovery, inventing, dressing-up, eating, drinking and more excitement in one day that you’d usually have in a week!
Matilda was the winner of our Roald Dahl Dream Day Weekend in conjunction with Waterstones, and the idea behind the prize was to go behind-the-scenes and into the heart of Roald Dahl’s world. Kicking off with a visit inside Roald Dahl’s hut, where his extraordinary story writing took place, Matilda saw first-hand the chair where Roald Dahl wrote and the things he surrounded himself with for inspiration, from family photos to a ball made from chocolate bar wrappings to one of his hip bones that was removed!
The next stop was the archive, where archivist Rachel White had prepared a selection of Roald Dahl’s original letters and manuscripts for Matilda and friends to discover. It was endlessly fascinating to see Roald Dahl’s notes and scribbles and drawings, and to then imagine the books we know and love complete with Quentin Blake’s inimitable illustrations. There was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (see below), Fantastic Mr Fox, The Witches (see below), Esio Trot and of course, Matilda. Rachel told us stories and anecdotes behind each one and at the end we saw the giant prosthetic ears made exclusively for David Walliams and worn when he performed as the BFG for Puffin Virtually Live: Roald Dahl Day in September!
It was then time to explore the museum itself and see the exciting interactive exhibits and displays surrounding Roald Dahl’s hut, including the coat Johnny Depp wore for his role as Willy Wonka and Roald Dahl’s very own brown sandal, which he sent to Quentin Blake as the idea for what the BFG could wear on his feet in the book! Over in The Story Centre the girls discovered the fancy-dress box, and no sooner had the Willy Wonka, Witches and Amanda Thripp costumes been packed away than Bompas & Parr arrived for the next phizzwhizzing activity.
In Miss Honey’s classroom, Sam Bompas and his assistant Beth unpacked bottles, ladles, an urn and jar after jar of green goo and other curious ingredients in preparation for the Frobscottle-making workshop. But first it was time to invent some flavour-changing chewing gum from a selection of flavours ranging from salmon (yuck!) to toffee to raspberry to sage, apple, biscuit, rosemary and many more.
Lots of sticky stirring, endless sugar-adding and kneading later and the girls had created their very own chewing gum before it was time to start the Frobscottle (as drunk by the BFG, Sophie and the giants in the book) fun. There was plenty of mixing and adding strange ingredient after strange ingredient, then some frothing and bubbling and suddenly, the Frobscottle was made and ready to be tasted . . . the results weren’t quite the same as in the book but it certainly tasted better than stinky snozzcumbers!
Following lunch in Café Twit, which included Bruce Bogtrotter chocolate cake, BFG cookies and a drink involving lemonade, ice-cream and chocolate sprinkles, the girls were ready to head across the road to the Araminta Fizzackerly sweet shop for two hours of chocolate and sweeties heaven. There was a pink chocolate BFG-lollipop and Mr Twit’s chocolate beard-making workshop and then the Oompa-Loompas called to say they needed a hand making treats for Christmas – could the girls help? So of course they got stuck in, making some amazing chocolate bars and covering themselves in chocolate! Then there was just enough time to make necklaces out of gobstoppers before heading into the shop to serve each other and some willing customers and be paid in sweets.
The shop’s owner, Sarah Thomas, had created some dazzling Wonka hat goody bags filled with books and sweets to take away and Matilda’s party headed back, happy and full of sweets, to the Nags Head Hotel (as featured in the Fantastic Mr Fox film) for their second night’s sleepover.
It truly was a splendiferous day and now it’s almost time to wave goodbye to ‘Dream BIG’ and start thinking about Roald Dahl Day 2013 . . . there will be lots of exciting plans to come but in the meantime, have you heard the news about a certain Charlie Bucket and the wondrous Willy Wonka taking to the stage in London’s West End next June?
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