The Macclesfield blogger and mum gears up for Barnaby festival and flies the flag for her home town

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Motherhood is my full time job and I couldn’t have picked a more beautiful place to raise my three inquisitive children (Vin, 11, Poppy, eight and Leo, three) than Macclesfield. The hills seem to appear at the end of every street, there are forests and lakes close by, and it has that friendliness of a small northern town – well, on the whole. Culturally it hasn’t been the most dynamic of places. We have sought culture in nearby Manchester.

We love venturing out to the city, visiting Manchester Museum to see Stan the fossilised T-Rex, the mystical Egyptology collection and the Living Worlds gallery where you can see a huge collection of stuffed animals (including our favourites like the Belle Vue elephant skeleton, tiger, polar bear and the extremely rare tigon) all beautifully displayed. I’ve always been fascinated by architecture and taxidermy – perhaps visiting West Park Museum as a child has influenced me to share these Victorian trends with my own children. The Whitworth and John Rylands Library are favourites too. Manchester is beautiful, a real adventure if we get on the train together – it’s so quick but it seems a world away.

The cultural scene in Macclesfield has begun to grow, just at the right time for my three children, and it’s great to show them that they can find great experiences here on their doorstep. Barnaby Festival, the monthly Treacle Market, things like Makers Place in the Heritage Centre and Community Art Space have invested in the wealth of local talent and brought excellent work to our town.

That’s what I want my children to experience – that a town is not just about driving from one thing to the other and buying junk. The cultural scene is about the bits in between, broadening their minds and their sense of a community – doing things together.

It is extremely important that my children experience cultural events. They have learnt how to think creatively with open minds, to know there’s something beyond those subjects on the school curriculum. The arts have introduced them to new ideas and cultures from around the world and given them confidence to communicate with adults. But more than that, they’re also learning that these things are happening on their doorstep because people in Macclesfield have got together to make it happen – and that’s really important too.

I love immersive theatre, so the commissioning of Wild Rumpus for Barnaby Festival this year is really exciting. Added to this, the spaces where the events are held bring real atmosphere. The Astronomer’s Story is in the grade II listed Christ Church. We’ll also be dropping in to see Street Treats – a poetry takeaway, live hangman and a man with smoke emerging from his sleeves. The theme of the festival is space and the children will definitely be going to Deep Space Lab to see objects from deep space, view through telescopes from around the world and write their ‘love letter to Macc in a tent in Sparrow Park.

I think one of the most important things that Barnaby has taught my children over the years is the passion to create, ask questions and challenge things. Their little minds explode with creativity. A previous event they loved was Car Park Chemistry. We were wowed by exploding jellybabies and pop bottle rockets flying into the air.

I’ll be leaving the kids at home to go and see Bedwyr Williams’ performance on 17 June – he’s a really interesting artist with a sense of humour. Amazingly, we’ve got tickets to hear Professors Brian Cox and Tim O’Brien from Jodrell Bank. We’ve also got tickets for a twilight ghost walk from the local music society, which sounds intriguing.

There always seems to be something going on in Macclesfield, but nothing quite on the scale of Barnaby, which really is an extravaganza. My children go to a fabulously creative school, which has its own cultural calendar to keep us busy, and of course our Macclesfield friends from Wild Rumpus (another not-for-profit community interest company) produce the extraordinary award-winning Just So Festival, in Rode Hall in Staffordshire. So this August we’ll definitely be heading there again to enjoy a weekend of magic.

Susie shares her family adventures at

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