Wind in The Willows in Chester

Wind in the Willows is quintessentially English and I have forgotten how much I love it! I was first introduced to Mr Toad and his friends in the 1980s film and TV series. At the impressionable age of 10 I wanted fast vehicles like Mr Toad, to mess about in a boats with Ratty even though I cannot swim and who doesn’t like picnics. The weasels and Wild Wood terrified me and I was desperate to go there. A few years ago I bought the book by Kenneth Grahame, it’s gathering dust on the book shelf.

The Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre is certainly an experience to remember. Unlike other outdoor venues I’ve attended, this one has been purpose built for theatre productions. It reminded me of the Octagon theatre in Bolton only with sunshine, picnics and pollen. We purchased picnic space tickets, a small grassed strip (astro turf, no mud) at the front of the circular stage. The theatre only holds 500 people so its quite small but you also get a good view where ever you are seated. Tickets sell out quick, we bought ours three months prior to the date.

In the short space of three hours the cast and crew of the Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre has made me feel 10 years old again. Mr Toad, brilliantly played by Daniel Goode, is as adventurous and self-centred as ever. The Weasel, though no longer terrifying, was villainous enough. But I couldn’t get my head around Badger (played by Sarah Quist) being female. Regardless of this minor adaptation I laughed, I cried (but that was probably due to hayfever) and I ate my picnic. Tomorrow I shall mess about with boats, most likely drown, and sit in a fast car (because I can’t afford to drive one). Or I may dust off the book and rediscover Toad Hall, the Riverbank and Wild Wood.

On a practical note, the theatre is accessible to the picnic spaces, but bring your own chairs, the picnic terraces are quite deep in places although they are covered if it rains. The toilets are a short walk and there are two disabled. There is a bar, and coffee and ice cream during the interval but its more fun to take your own picnic. Or if that’s too much trouble you can buy a VIP ticket and get a nibbles hamper and a bottle of bubbly. We got a voucher for a free bottle of Prosecco. I’m not a fan but it wasn’t bad.