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What will appear on the sea front? It’s a mystery...

Running out of ideas for family fun as the flashing back-to-school date in the calendar approaches? You could do a lot worse than head down to Roker beach this weekend

Children getting involved in a previous 'Chalk In' event at St Peter's Church, Sunderland
Children getting involved in a previous 'Chalk In' event at St Peter's Church, Sunderland

Many of us like to think our little darlings produce a masterpiece every time the crayons and felt tips come out.

But this bank holiday weekend, the whole family can be involved in producing the intriguingly-titled Marine Mystery Masterpiece, if you fancy getting down to Roker Beach at Sunderland.

Monday and Tuesday are the creative days to make the journey to Holey Rock Corner.

The idea of the project is for the aforementioned masterpiece to be drawn, courtesy of the public’s help, all over the paved area around the RokerPods on the lower prom from 10am to 4pm on Monday.

Then on Tuesday, everyone is invited to help solve the all-mysterious “puzzle” – following the stars to see where the journey ends.

Don’t worry if this all sounds a bit confusing: local artist Ian Potts will be on hand to help everyone do their bit and keep the art and the search running smoothly, while there will also be regular storytelling activities running throughout to keep one and all happy. Ian, who has organised and run a number of “Chalk In” participation events in the region, says: “I love the space at the seafront and the wonderful, odd-shaped pods add to the distinctive feel and environment.

“The artwork this time is going to be big and colourful and fun! I’m looking forward to working with people of all ages to produce something spectacular.”

Marine Mystery Masterpiece is the latest in a line of family activities to make use of the newly opened pods, which arrived at Roker in July as part of a scheme supported by Cabe Sea change Funding, a funding pot designed to support innovative ways of improving and developing seafronts in the UK.

There are three pods at the seafront at the moment. The RokerPod Cafe sells hot and cold drinks and snacks (as well as the obligatory seaside ice-cream and buckets and spades), while the other two pods are joined together and simply called “RokerPods” and are available to hire for events or educational activities.

If you haven’t seen them, the spherical spaces are mobile and reminiscent of the famous cannonball rock – the unusual limestone formations found on Sunderland’s coast. The RokerPod Cafe is managed by local couple Carol and Dave, who were the very first people to take an interest in the project as a commercial business and will be putting out the chairs and tables this weekend so their customers can watch the artwork as it develops.

Other works to the seafront, which is set to see �5m of investment in the next few years, have included new lighting, street furniture, paving and traffic calming too. The project has opened the door to future funding to improve the seafront for residents and visitors, which in turn supports businesses in the area.

Community Environmental Educational Developments (CEED) is a local charity based in Roker Park, specialising in working with the local communities to offer new skills through use of the natural environment.

CEED project manager Susan Nolan says: “I’m delighted to have the RokerPods, they’re visually stunning and provide a new space at the seafront.

“We’ve had activities throughout the summer which have included family arts and craft sessions as well as singing and storytelling.

“Children and grown-ups alike are fascinated by the pods. Inquisitive folk stop to talk to us regularly wanting to know more – it’s great!”

To get involved with the Marine Mystery Masterpiece, visit the RokerPods on the lower prom between 10am and 4pm on Monday or Tuesday to help solve the puzzle. Storytelling sessions will start at 10am, 11am, 12.30pm, 2pm and 3pm, each show lasting 45 minutes.


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