Five steps to a relaxing retro Summer

Dr Seuss

When everything gets a bit too real, and a fresh horror story is revealed by the news every day, perhaps the only place to escape is into a world of retro nostalgia.

This Summer, a slew of feel-good throwback films and exhibitions have cropped up, transporting us back into the world of our childhoods. To days when we didn’t have to worry about terrorist attacks, Brexit, race crime, random shootings, murder of politicians, financial insecurity…..*shudders*

A coincidence? Perhaps. But whatever the case, these films and exhibitions have come at a time when a bit of escapism is desperately needed. So, dive in, escape society’s troubles, and have yourself a good old relaxing, retro Summer.

Swallows and Amazons

The BBC film adaptation of Arthur Ransome’s classic tale of sailing, skulduggery, and days when children could roam free, is set in the glorious surrounding of Britain’s Lake District. It will be released in the UK on August 19th, but the film went down very well with our family when we saw it at a preiew screening. I’ll be updating this post with more information about the film after the embargo has passed, but in the meantime, here’s a trailer:

Stig of the Dump

It’s a boy! He lives in a dump! Any British child who grew up in the 1980s will remember the popular TV adaptation of Clive King’s story, published nearly 50 years ago. Nobody believes Barney when he tells them he’s found a boy in a chalk pit. But that just means the youngsters have the freedom to spend time without grown-ups, re-building Stig’s den, going hunting, and thwarting the dastardly deeds of some burglars.

The fast-paced, sing-along Stig of the Dump stage show was adapted by Olivier Award winning playwright Mike Kenny and directed by Luke Sheppard, whose previous credits include the RSC version of Matilda. Its cast includes CBeebies star Katy Ashworth. After a UK tour, it’s back in London for the Summer. You can read my review of the show here.

Stig of the Dump

Stig of the Dump runs at the Arts Theatre in London’s West End until 26 August, and is aimed at children over 4. Tickets start at £15.50.


Who could ever forget curling up with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Twits, or Fantastic Mr Fox? A generation of British children have been shaped by Roald Dahl’s wit, humanity and grotesque characters.

Dahl is everywhere in the UK this Summer. A film version of one of his best-loved tales, The BFG, has just been released, and the country will celebrate his centenery on September 13th.

If your love of Dahl prompts you to do more than just see The BFG on the big screen, there are many Dahl-themed activities taking place across the country, from a Dream Jar trail in London to Roald Dahl’s Tremendous Adventures at Tatton Park near Manchester

The Fantastic World of Dr Seuss at the Discover Children’s Story Centre, Stratford, London

People who grew up Stateside are perhaps more likely than us Brits to have spent their childhoods giggling at the antics of The Cat in the Hat, The Grinch and The Lorax. It’s only in the last twenty years that Dr Seuss’s zany creations have become popular with children in the UK. But Seuss’s distinctive brand of anarchic fun was made to delight children everywhere, and his work is being celebrated this Summer in an interactive exhibition, in the newly refurbished Discover Children’s Story Centre, Stratford. This charming little place will re-open on 30 July. As well as the exhibition, Discover has a book-themed indoor play space, and an outdoor story garden playground that’s always a hit with youngsters.

Dr Seuss

Discover Children’s Story Centre re-opens on Saturday 30 July. The Fantastic World of Dr Seuss runs until Sunday 10 September 2017. Tickets for a day pass (with timed entry to the exhibition) are £6.50, or £22 for a family of four.


The ultimate in retro comebacks, the 2016 version of Ghostbusters has a modern twist: its main characters are women. The original trio of Dan Ayckroyd, Bill Murray and Harold Ramis have been replaced by Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones. Despite a barrage of criticism from purists outraged by the gender-swap (even the team’s ditsy receptionist is now played by a man), Ghostbusters 2016 has been, on the whole, well-received by critics. With plenty of in-jokes from the original film, and cameos from Sigourney Weaver, Aykroyd, Murray and Ernie Hudson, there’s enough to satisfy fans of the 80s movie. And who knows: this particular bit of nostalgic escapeism might just be enough to inspire a generation of girls that yes, they CAN solve the world’s problems with a bit of team power (and some proton packs).

Let’s hope so, eh.Save


  • Christine
    July 27, 2016 at 7:39 am

    I remember reading Stig of the Dump (and watching the TV programme) when I was a kid, loved it! Am looking forward to seeing Swallows and Amazons too even, be interesting to see how they’ve updated it.

    • Nell
      August 1, 2016 at 7:48 pm

      It’s a really nice film Christine.

  • Izzie Anderton
    July 27, 2016 at 2:36 pm

    How lovely that today’s children will get to enjoy some of our own favourites from childhood albeit with modern and updated versions. I loved Ghostbusters back in the day and still have a copy of Ray Parker Junior’s original theme tune on 7″ vinyl somewhere!

    • Nell
      August 1, 2016 at 7:48 pm

      I love that song!

  • the frenchie mummy
    July 29, 2016 at 7:49 am

    So many nice places to visit in London. I love the BFG. I can’t believe all the stuff available about it this summer! PoCoLo

    • Nell
      August 1, 2016 at 7:49 pm

      I know. BFG-tastic!

  • Kay Brown - Cheery Little Thing
    August 1, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    This post reminded me of the Roald Dahl themed fun I wanted to have this summer – I’m now on the case 🙂 What retro inspired activities will you be getting up to from the list?

    • Nell
      August 1, 2016 at 7:47 pm

      All of them, hopefully! We’ve already seen Swallows and Amazons, Stig of the Dump and the Dr Seuss exhibition. Have fun with all the Roald Dahl stuff you end up doing!

  • Morgan Prince
    August 4, 2016 at 3:53 pm

    Love this Nell! I’m totally up for some escapism this summer, I’ll be taking the boys to see Ghostbusters and am looking forward to seeing the females bust some ghosts! I’d like the boys to see Power UP at the Science Museum too but I’m not sure we’ll be able to make it to London in time – which is a shame.
    Thanks for linking to #PoCoLo. xx


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