Taking a young child to a museum could be a disaster. But if you time it right, be prepared and choose one that is family friendly, it can be a great way to spend time with your child. Most museums in the UK are free to enter (my favourite price). I’m not one to shy away from rainy days, I just stick a rain coat and some wellies on me and my son and we go out splashing in puddles, but when the weather is wet, windy, cold, miserable (refer to November-March) museums are a great way to get out of the house. On Saturday, I planned a visit to the Horniman museum in South East London. I gave my little Herbert a big breakfast, packed lots of snacks, spare clothes (potty training necessity) and we left the house by nine thirty.
We got to Forest Hill by ten and found a free parking space on the road that runs down the side of the museum. There is a big park next to the Horniman and we walked through it to get to the entrance to the impressive building. I didn’t know too much about the place and I was surprised to learn at the ticket desk that there is a small aquarium in the basement. It was free for my little boy, a pound for my 4 year old nephew and £3 for an adult ticket. My son just loves looking at fish, any normal person could be in and out of the little aquarium in less than five minutes, but my boy spent about half an hour marvelling at the star fish, sea horses, jelly fish, salt water tank and froggies.
Upstairs, there was a very large collection of taxidermy and at first I was a bit weirded out. After a few minutes of looking inquisitively at a stuffed fox, my son gave it a stroke. I decided, this is a great way to learn about animals, get up close to them and study the beautiful diversity of nature. Most of the animals are behind glass, aside from the cute little fox and a gigantic walrus. But you can’t get close enough to touch the 100 year preserved walrus as it is lollopped on a faux iceberg. It is quite fascinating to see an elephant’s skull, an ostrich egg and a cute as pie koala bear. Upstairs, there are sea life specimens and Jurassic fossils. My son didn’t really appreciate the display upstairs but he loved doing sprints around the gallery style mezzanine floor.
After a number two accident, (my little boy not me), we went to change his clothes and I found a cloak room. There were lockers, you get a free token from the front desk and buggy parks. I offloaded our bags and coats and it was a breath of fresh air to walk around without being weighed down by a handbag full of toot. We ventured to the centenary exhibition and marvelled at the masks which led us through to an awesome African display of more masks and cultural trinkets. The grown ups were ready for a coffee and the kids were ready for some fresh air.
It was a beautiful sunny day and we got a coffee in the canteen in take-out cups. Outside, we sat on one of the many benches and stuffed our faces with chocolate croissants that I brought from home. We took a walk up towards the farmer’s market where there is a play park that boasts a giant set of bongoes, an enormous xylophone and an incredible view over to Battersea Power Station. We let the boys continue running up the hill where we found a little farmyard with the most adorable long haired little goat, fluffy bunnies, suspicious looking Alpaca and a colourful rooster.
If you haven’t surmised from the blog so far, we had an amazing day. There weren’t that many people there and that really added to the enjoyment of the place, no crowds is rare when you go somewhere good. We spent a total of seven pounds! My son fell asleep on the way home at around 2pm with pastry crumbs on his face and rosy cheeks from running through the park.