Category: London

The Science Museum – Our Guide to a Great Day Out

The Science Museum – Our Guide to a Great Day Out

The Science Museum in London is one of my very favourite places to be. Ever since my first visit as a child, to the almost monthly visits we make at the moment, it never fails to inspire and amaze me. Sometimes I take for granted just how lucky we are to be able to hop on a train and have this on our doorstep, as it truly is a great day out.

We do on occasion pop in if we are tying a visit in with another, but to truly do it justice the museum really deserves a whole day to itself. I’ve lost count of the amount of times we’ve been, but I still find something new to admire on each visit.

With South Kensington Tube being the nearest London Underground station, we tend to always travel by tube. With the underground walkway taking you safely from the station to the museums, I find bouncy excitable children are safer under here than the roads above. This is also handy to deal with the British weather too, lets face it rain is rather part of our infrastructure!

With free entry but a donation welcome, it’s a marvel that all of this history is available to everyone. It’s a good idea to take a look at what’s on before you arrive, so that you can plan your day to please all the family. Some of the simulators for example do have an age and height restriction, so it’s best to forewarn little visitors in advance that they may not be able to ride. Or you can plan your day, avoiding this part of the museum. Which ever works best for you. A map is available to download from the website, a great help if your children like to be involved in planning your trips, or need to know what’s likely to happen on a day out.

On entering the museum be prepared to be wowed by the Energy Hall. Personally I love the history in this part of the museum. It amazes me just how visionary the engineers of the past were. We tend to go through to the Exploring Space hall, where you can find a wealth of space objects. Make sure you look up, some of the most amazing rockets are above your head.

Making the Modern World is another “wow” gallery. We love looking at Stephenson’s Rocket and the cars stacked upon each other. For younger visitors starting to get a little restless, the Pattern Pod in the next part of the museum, gives them the chance to do some hands on investigation.


At this point we usually pop down to the basement to explore the Secret Life of the Home. Be prepared to feel old as items from your childhood are now on show at a museum. For any fans of the Despicable Me films, see if you can find the tiny toilet in the display cabinets. With great interactive displays you can work out how the toilet flush works, and see if you can get the fridge temperature to change.

We’d usually stop for lunch about now. If you’ve brought a picnic you can eat in the Terrace Picnic Area. Personally knowing the Energy Café on level 0 has vegan options, means we usually treat ourselves to lunch in there.

Feeling energised after refuelling we head up to Level 1 to look at the materials displays. I find that materials are a subject that you can start to engage children with at a very young age and continually develop their understanding. Even young babies are enthralled by the touch of different items and can get involved. As they grow, materials can help children broaden their vocabulary with such a huge range of descriptive words associated with them, and introduce them to a variety of educational areas. From the natural world to the periodic table, its a brilliant base to start from.

Up to Level 2 which houses some of my favourite galleries. I love the Clockmakers Museum and Journeys Through Medicine. However at this point, B is usually itching to get to up to Level 3 to visit The Wonderlab which is our absolute favourite part of the museum.

There is an additional charge to enter this part of the museum, but it is worth every penny. If you are frequent visitors, its well worth investing in an annual pass as its likely to become a firm favourite with visitors young and old. With so many hands on experiments and a talented team of Explainers to direct your questions to, its a place of absolute wonder as the name suggests. With 50 “marvels of science” to enjoy, there is something for everyone. With live shows, hands on experiments, and demonstrations for all, you’ll not be disappointed. So many theories I’d learnt at school suddenly made sense after seeing the practical demonstrations from the talented Explainers. Our favourites are the Sip or Spray, the Friction Slides, and the Maths puzzles.


With our brains brimming with new ideas, but our feet feeling the impact of a lot of adventure, its time to get home, safe in the knowledge we’ll be back soon for another visit!

UK Visit Wish List

UK Visit Wish List

Every year the boy makes a list of places he wants to visit before he reaches his next birthday. There is normally some epic stuff on there, such as rides on the bullet train in Japan and finding a train that goes through a mountain. Sadly I don’t think we’ll get to Japan this year, but I do intend to tick off everything on our UK list this year!

  1. With the largest marble run in the UK, the House of Marbles in Devon sounds like a lot of fun. Its been a couple of years since we’ve been to visit that area of the UK, so I’m itching for a visit.
  2. Just a quick train ride away for us is the Florence Nightingale Museum. I’d only discovered this one recently when I stumbled across a chat about it on Facebook. I think we’ll tie it in with one of the regular trips we make to the London Eye.
  3. We’ve just been recommended to visit the home of Charles Darwin. One of the many wondrous buildings available to visit from English Heritage. There are some great events coming up over the summer, so I think we’ll choose to visit as soon as the warmer days are upon us.
  4. With a budding engineer in the family, I think that the Brunel Museum should be a hit. The underground chamber looks amazing, and the Boat Trips and London Walks sound intriguing.
  5. Also on our list for London is the Canal Museum. I love a narrow boat, so can’t wait to visit this place with the boy.
  6. A bit further afield for us, but high on the list is a trip to The Space Centre in Leicester. Who doesn’t love learning about space after all?

So if you’re looking for something different to do this Easter, why not beat us to it and check off some of our list.

The Design Museum

The Design Museum

Always on the lookout for somewhere different to explore, we made our first visit to The Design Museum yesterday and wow what an amazing place. Situated in Kensington (you’ll be wanting High St Kensington not South Kensington if you’re going by tube), the building itself is a beauty. Personally I love this part of London. From marvelling at how the other half live, to taking in the amazing buildings. The pace always feels a little more child friendly this side of town, if you’re used to the hustle and bustle of the city.


We decided to look around the main part of the museum and not opt for any extra exhibitions on our visit this time, but these are available if you’ve more time. We managed to see all that we wanted to in a few hours and left feeling like we’d had a good explore. Sometimes a single visit just won’t do a large museum justice, or can be a little overwhelming for some visitors.

With plenty of eye catching exhibits and lots of hands on activities be prepared to immerse yourself. You will need to keep an eye on little ones as the exhibits change from hands on to ‘Do Not Touch’ quite frequently though. We looked at products you might use to design a babies toy, through to which products would be best for a reusable cup. The exhibits spring forth a lot of questions from enquiring minds. It certainly makes you think about the story behind all that we have in our lives and homes. Be prepared to feel ancient as you relive your youth looking at Sony Walkmans and technology from the not too distant past.

With workshops available for children KS2 and above, this looks like a museum that will easily earn its place in our top ten!

The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark – Unicorn Theatre Production

The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark – Unicorn Theatre Production

When it comes to theatres The Unicorn Theatre is fast becoming my favourite. There’s not a single detail that hasn’t been thought through. From the graduating basins in the bathrooms, the fabulous illustrations on the walls, the craft table in the lobby, and the actions inscribed on the floors. You know that this is a place where you are going to have fun.

Last Saturday we were lucky enough to get to see a production of The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark. This was one of those stories that I couldn’t wait to share with B. I had simply adored it when I was a child and we had read the book together a while back. I have to admit I was slightly nervous about seeing a production of a book that held such dear childhood memories to me, but the production is absolutely perfect. With the story taking place centre stage whilst we sat around the edges of the theatre, it was totally immersive theatre. Plop the owl was played to perfection and the mother and other characters portrayed so fluidly I’d say I enjoyed it as much, if not more than the children in the audience! There are some fabulous moments, which we won’t tell you all about as they make such fun surprises.

Here is B’s review of the production (and journey)

Chapter 1 – Transport

We drove to Canary Wharf then got on the tube. We took the tube to London Bridge.

Chapter 2 – The Start

Plop was afraid of the dark. Plop’s mum said “What do you know about the dark Plop?”

“It is black.”

“No, its blue, silver and grey.”

On the wall there were fireworks.

Chapter 3 – The End

At the end Plop went star gazing and looked for Orion. Then he met a cat called Orion. At the end he liked the dark.

The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark is on until 21st November. Its such a magical performance, we highly recommend you go and see it. Tickets are available now

Book here

Disclaimer – we received complimentary tickets but all opinions and comments are our own.

The Bank of England Museum

The Bank of England Museum

As part of our adventures this term we are on the lookout for museums and places of interest that are a little more off the beaten track. Not that we don’t love the huge museums that spring to mind when you think of London, it’s just this term we are celebrating the niche and unusual!

Making the most of the last of the warm days we had planned to have a look around Bank and St Pauls before B’s drama classes which he does each Thursday in London. That morning on the wonder that is the Internet we discovered that the Bank of England has a museum, so we decided to pay them a visit.

We decided to walk from Liverpool Street station so we could look at the buildings along the way. Its a bit of a trip down memory lane for me after years of working in London, and I was regaling B with tales from my youth.

You need to keep your eyes peeled as the entrance to the museum is quite discreet! Once inside and through the security area (it’s a bit like airport security) you can collect an activity worksheet for your child from the reception. With a selection for children of all different ages, there’s one for everyone. With our visit being unplanned, the worksheet was useful for us to give us some ideas on what to look out for. I wasn’t sure whether a museum like this would appeal to B but there is so much for the children to do. From money jigsaws to assemble through to interactive inflation tools it’s aimed at the whole family.

Personally my favourite part was getting to hold a real solid gold bar. With a value of over £400,000 we began to wonder what we would buy if we had one. B particularly enjoyed checking out whether our money was counterfeit or the real deal.

With so much going on its a really interactive fun place. We spent around an hour and a half here and enjoyed every minute. 

Charlie & The Chocolate Factory – Reviewed by B

Charlie & The Chocolate Factory – Reviewed by B

Chapter 1 – Transport

We went on the overground then changed at Liverpool Street for the underground. On the underground we went to Holborn, then changed for the dark blue line to Covent Garden. It was on Duke Street.

Chapter 2 – Best Character

Mike Teavee

Chapter 3 – The Names of the Characters

Augustus Gloop

Veruca Salt

Violet Beauregarde

Mike Teavee

Charlie Bucket

Chapter 4 – Charlie Bucket

He lived in a cottage with his mum, dad and Grandpa Joe.

Chapter 5 – How the Children Go

Augustus Gloop falls in the chocolate waterfall and goes up a pipe. Violet blows up by eating gum. Veruca Salt goes where the eggs go to see if there good or bad and Veruca Salt was a bad egg. Mike Teavee goes on TV.

Chapter 6 – Charlie’s Chocolate Factory

Charlie celebrates being the boss of the chocolate factory.

The End

Septimus Bean and his Amazing Machine review by B age 6 and a half

Septimus Bean and his Amazing Machine review by B age 6 and a half

Yesterday I went to see Septimus Bean and his Amazing Machine.

Travelling

You can go on the overground from Kent or underground you can take the northern line or the jubilee line. 

Cool Bits

I like the end where it was like a cinema. I liked the start where there was no machine. At the start they pretended that there was a machine.

Worst Bits

I didn’t like the end where the machine broke but I liked Bean Park.

Favourite Bits

I like the cube.

I like the big machine when it flied. I liked how they said the same row (lines). I like the King, Septimus Bean and the Queen. They are all the characters.

Septimus Bean crashed his machine and it was like a cinema.

The End.

The Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum

I’m never sure which is my favourite museum in London. When we visit each one I change my mind and declare it a favourite, but The Natural History Museum always holds a special place in my heart. Walking in and seeing Dippy in the main hall takes me straight back to being a tot and the feeling of the enormity of it all. After countless visits, I still don’t feel that I’ve seen it all, or even touched the surface.

Here’s what B discovered on our last trip.

You can get to the museum by driving to Canary Wharf and then take the underground to Sother (sic) Kensington

There were 600 different kinds of dinosaurs.

We know that Tyrannosaurus Rex was a meat eater. You can tell because of his teeth.

The biggest animal that ever lived is the blue whale.

We can identify 4 different types of volcano:

  1. strato volcanoes
  2. shield volcanoes
  3. cinder cones
  4. volcanic lava domes

Earthquakes feel scary.

You can tell a smooth rock has travelled further than a rough one, because as it travels it gets smooth.

Chinese New Year 2016

Chinese New Year 2016

Day 1 of our home education journey and we survived! With no particular plan in place of how our first week was going to pan out, we hopped on the train to London with a loose plan and winged it. With Chinese New Year coinciding with our new foray into home education it was too good an opportunity to miss. Here’s what I thought might happen and what actually did.

  • A journey on public transport.
  • A wander around China Town.
  • A visit to Foyles bookshop.

When I started investigating home education I always believed in the adage that education really is everywhere. Today I learned just how true that is. Our journey on public transport began with the bus. From learning how to use the timetable, to discussing what might affect the bus arriving on time, B was keen to talk and discuss ideas. We spoke about money and numeracy when we bought the tickets for the bus and train. Adding up how much we’d spent so far, and how much we had left. Once we got on the train B planned how we’d get to Leicester Square on the tube, and we researched how the tube stations got their names. We nosed through the Chinese supermarkets and stocked up on ingredients we couldn’t find closer to home. From Chinatown we took a walk to Foyles on Charing Cross Road using the compass on the iPhone. Inspired by Chinese New Year, B chose books on both the New Year celebrations and Chinese writing.

I recently started reading Good Ideas by Michael Rosen, and what struck me was teaching children to make connections. Today has been a good day for that.

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