“THERE’S no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing,” goes the old saying. But with plenty of the wet (and even some slushy white) stuff forecast this week, families could be forgiven for seeing out the elements from the cosy confines of home.
Here we list five of the best rainy day activities and events in the area:
Explore the natural world
Just because the great outdoors are a bit gruesome, doesn’t mean you can’t embrace nature.
Gilbert White & The Oates Collections (Fri to Sun until February 18, adults £10, children £4.50, gilbertwhiteshouse.org.uk) in Selborne celebrates the lives of three explorers of the natural world – pioneering 18th-century naturalist Gilbert White and explorers Frank and Captain Lawrence Oates – and has plenty for visitors of all ages to see and do under shelter, as well as a fantastic, recently-restored cafe.
For exploration of a more inter-galactic kind, and everything from exciting live science displays to hands-on interactive exhibits to unforgettable shows in the UK’s largest digital planetarium, head to Winchester Science Centre (open seven days a week, general admission £11 with Gift Aid, winchestersciencecentre.org).
The South Downs Dark Skies Festival (see www.southdowns.gov.uk) also returns with two weeks of cosmic fun for all the family from February 15 to March 3, including moon-gazing sessions, indoor planetarium shows, an incredible VR experience exploring the Milky Way and the ever-popular star parties.
Take a trip to the museum
This area is blessed with an array of unique and expertly- curated museums. Haslemere Educational Museum (open Tuesday to Saturday, admission by donation, haslemeremuseum.co.uk) is one of the largest natural history museums in central southern England and with three galleries, there are more than 240,000 specimens and around 140,000 human history artefacts from around the world.
The Museum of Farnham (open Tues to Sat, free entry, farnhammaltings.com/museum) is another superb local history museum, located in a beautiful Georgian town house with many original features and lots of activities for children of all ages, including a delightful walled garden.
The Curtis Museum in Alton (Tues to Sat, free entry, hampshireculturaltrust.org.uk/
curtis-museum) is another family-friendly local history collection with plenty to do including bookable workshops and drop-in ‘make-and-take’ activities, as well as displays charting events such as the 1643 Battle of Alton.
Jane Austen’s House Museum (open seven days a week, adults £9, children £4, jane-austens-house-museum.org.uk) in nearby Chawton offers more respite from inclement weather, and a chance to “dawdle away an hour” or two at the cottage where Jane Austen spent the last eight years of her life, penning timeless works of fiction such as Pride and Prejudice.
Be inspired by art
Young Picassos can also while away a few rainy hours at an array of art galleries across the area, including Farnham’s New Ashgate Gallery (Tues to Sat, free entry, newashgate.org.uk) featuring exhibitions by new and established artists, with paintings, ceramics, glass and jewellery for sale.
The Crafts Study Centre (Tues to Fri, free entry, www.csc.uca.ac.uk) in Farnham is home to internationally-renowned collections of modern British craft and inspiring exhibitions by leading artist-makers.
And Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village (Tues to Sun, adults £11.50, children free, www.wattsgallery.org.uk) in Compton supports the Kids in Museums initiative and offers free family trails and activities every day of the week including Sunday drop-in craft workshops. Explore the galleries, discover Watts Chapel, play games on the lawn and relax in The Tea Shop.
Alternatively go potty at one of southern England’s few remaining working potteries at Grayshott Pottery (open seven days a week, free entry, www.grayshottpottery.com). For something a bit different, book on to a free weekday tour at Grayshott Pottery followed by afternoon tea at its newly-refurbished cafe.
Take in a show
Few places in Britain enjoy such a wealth of world-class theatres on its doorstep as Surrey and Hampshire, and families looking for some cosy winter entertainment are spoilt for choice. Some family-friendly highlights over the next fortnight include CADS’ pantomime Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves playing at Churt Village Hall until February 2, Birmingham Royal Ballet’s production of Beauty and the Beast at The Mayflower Theatre, Southampton until February 2, Ghost: The Musical at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking on February 5, Room on the Broom Live on Stage at The Haymarket, Basingstoke from February 7 to 1, and the popular Big Fish Little Fish family rave at the Farnham Maltings on Saturday February 9.
Brave a soft play centre
One for the younger kids! Stay and Play @ Funkey Monkey (open seven days a week, entry from £2.50, stayandplayatfunkeymonkey.com) in Farnham is an ideal place for kids to burn off some excess energy, boasting all the classic features like long astra slides and cargo nets clambers, plus biff bash, ball swing, a toddler zone and more.
Another high end soft play is the Hen House (open seven days a week, entry from £2.50, www.thehen-house.com), tucked away in Haslemere. Children can get to grips with the extensive adventure climbing maze, dance like a diva in the disco room or dive head-first into the baby sensory pit.
Still looking for indoor inspiration? Try Blue Reef Aquarium, The D-Day Museum, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard or Action Stations in Portsmouth, Milestones Living History Museum in Basingstoke, Brooklands Museum near Woking, one of the area’s many National Trust estates, the Museum Army of Flying, Winchester Military Museums, Winchester Cathedral, Underwater World at Birdworld or take the whole family swimming at one of the area’s many leisure centres.