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Enjoy free activities in The MERL garden
August 10, 2022 @ 11:00 am - 3:00 pm

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August 10, 2022
11:00 am - 3:00 pm
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The Museum of English Rural Life
The Museum of English Rural Life, Redlands Road
Reading, Berkshire RG1 5EX United Kingdom
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Family in The MERL garden

Bring your own picnic and blanket and join us in the museum garden to enjoy a range of free activities, showcasing recent projects and activities that have taken place at The MERL on the theme of ‘Care’.


Our current programming theme at The MERL is ‘CARE’.  This event showcases some highlights from some of our past and current projects and activities.  The event is free-to-attend because it is very kindly funded by the University of Reading’s Arts Committee and The Museum of English Rural Life.

Here’s a selection of what will be on offer:

  • Have a go at Drawing to Music to promote mindfulness with artist, Saranjit Birdi
  • Take part in a series of music workshops for families with community musician, Mollie Betts, encouraging positive experiences through music
  • Inspired by our collections and using materials from our garden, make your own willow and lavender heart and lavender bag to take home
  • Leave messages of care by painting pebbles to hide in our garden and hanging decorations in our Care tree
  • Enjoy the benefits of outdoor play with our mud kitchen our water play
  • Have a go at some creative writing with our poet-in-residence, Toby Martinez de las Rivas
  • Create a ‘Look After Myself’ first aid kit based on activities from Winston’s Wish
  • Find out more about Eliza Chattaway and her contribution to outdoor learning and test out some new resources
  • Enjoy colouring for mindfulness and a reading area

*All activities are subject to availability of materials and if the area is busy, have a go at something else and come back later.  Some of our artists and facilitators will take breaks at some points. Please be patient.


The forecast is hot and sunny and there is not a huge amount of shade in The MERL garden.  We will need to use all of our gazebos for our artists and contributors but there are some naturally shaded areas.  You are welcome to bring pop-up beach tents if you wish.

Food and drink:

You are welcome to picnic with your own food and drink. The MERL Café will have sweet and savoury snacks, ice-creams and hot and cold drinks.  Sandwiches are available but stocks will be limited. Don’t forget your picnic blanket and please use the bins provided for your rubbish.

  • Suitable for families of all ages.
  • Free, booking required


If the MERL car park is full, you can use a special parking permit to park in the University car parks on Acacia Road adjacent to the museum, or White Gates car park off Crown Place. This permit is only valid for the Family Picnic event.


Please collect a permit from reception at the Museum. You can also download the current permit here.

If you do not display a permit, you may be issued with a penalty. We apologise for any inconvenience, but this solution means we can continue to offer free parking in the nearby University car parks. If you have any questions, please call 0118 378 8660 or email merlevents@reading.ac.uk

Parking is limited at the museum and although we do our best to help those who need to come by car find a space, we would always encourage you to use alternative means of transport where possible. See our Getting Here page for details.

Learn about The MERL’s focus for 2022
CARE: highlighting how we take care of rural heritage, the countryside’s future, and each other 

Supported by the University of Arts Committee logo
circular logo with the word 'care' written below a representation of a decorative polehead