Tuesday, 4 February 2014

A trip to the Museum of Childhood

Blog a day for a month challenge: Day 3
I can’t quite remember who it was that told me not to bother taking my children to the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, until they were old enough to appreciate objects in glass cabinets and read the written information cards dotted about the place. Of course, I’m not sure my two little fireballs will ever be able to calmly walk around any ‘china shop’ environment. and so shelved my plans to visit there, ever. I even put Granny and Grandad off taking the kids, convinced it would be more hard work than it was worth, trying to keep them under control (the kids obviously). 
However, last Friday, another day of driving rain and wind, when I only had charge of my youngest (eldest was out on a trip with his Aunty) I decided a trip anywhere would be better than a claustrophobic afternoon, climbing the walls and attempting to think of something else we could bake/create without turning the kitchen into a cesspit. I had once taken my eldest to the British Museum sometime ago with disastrous results, but I was up for a challenge and so looked up the Museum of Childhood on googlemaps and packed my little one into the car.  
Walking into the museum, the buggy ramps and easy accessibility gave me good vibes, perhaps this wouldn’t be too bad. I had no idea what I was letting myself in for.
Yes the description of a room full of glass cabinets is absolutely accurate, but there is so much more. It is completely designed with children and adults in mind. Whilst littlest ran around, from the dressing up area to the sensory play area, full of brilliant light features, I tried not to get emotional. Looking at the glass cabinets, I felt like someone had taken me by the hand, back to my old attic, where not just my old toys lived, but all the toys of 80s. The ones your friends had at school that you openly coveted and longed for. I had completely forgotten about the Fisher price dolls house I’d once owned (although I’d coloured in the yellow roof tiles with green felt tip) the strawberry shortcake doll, who actually smelt of strawberries, the Sylvanian family bakery (one of things I’d coveted) How did they get hold of my Holly Hobbie cookery set? There were Star Wars figures, the full set of the Defenders of the Earth, Pound puppies, porcelain and wax headed dolls and an immaculately boxed Girlsworld.

I had no idea the rather odd plastic Barbie-esque doll that I recalled proudly purchasing at a jumble sale, with weird curved fingers was a Tressy doll, discontinued in the year of my birth. Or that the first jack in a boxes dated back to 1500.
I had quite forgotten about my brother’s questionable chemistry set, where the various tubes of multi coloured ‘chemicals’ ended up going a rusty colour, and emitting a peculiar smell.  There was even mine and no doubt many others’ first instrument, a plastic Aulos recorder. I almost wept when I saw the collection of Thomas Dam trolls (being half Scandinavian I had an enviable array of these) causing a little pang within, I had no idea where mine were or what became of them.
All of these displays were brilliantly dispersed around interactive things that kept littlest entertained while I stumbled, mouth open, down memory lane. There were 2 massive life sized rocking horses which, of course, were for the kids to play on. A beautifully detailed model railway, which, for the fee of 20p, you could switch on and watch the little steam and diesel engines whizz round and round. 
After a pitstop in the museum cafe (great kids meal deal) we went home, littlest was exhausted from running the length and breadth of the museum and I was in a happy, nostalgic haze which even thinking about now, brings a lump to my throat. The Museum of Childhood is truly a jewel of a place and am already planning my next trip back there with eldest. 

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