This half term I decided to make the most of my proximity to good old London Town and get out and about. Despite having woken up on day one of the holidays with the virus I had avoided all term, I didn’t want that to stop me showing my boy the history around him.
THIS PLACE IS VAST! 6 hangers containing hundreds of aeroplanes, masses of information and high-tech interactive exhibits.
Entry is completely free, you just pay for parking at £3 and hour. (Bonus-we got there so late that the car park was full meaning we parked on the road-no parking fee either!)
When you first get through the entrance turn right to take you through the first 100 years of the RAF. So much detail and told in interesting engaging ways. I was blown away by the sheer size of a search and rescue helicopter. My understanding of physics is as good as the next person’s but I just have no idea how something like that gets off the ground!
There is so much aviation history in this one room alone that I’ll probably be going back without a preschooler to fully appreciate it. Exhibits include the ground vehicles as well as the aircraft and life size cut outs of real aviators are dotted around the room with their details attached. Quite eerie but very effective. A nice way to share their stories.
Spread around the huge hanger are miniature aeroplanes of various types for children to play in. There are also uniform points to play dress-up. And for the more grown up among you I saw a flight simulator lurking in the corner too-I had to walk past quickly in case my little fella wanted a go...
The following 5 hangers contain hundreds of aircraft each with a fascinating story behind them. You could spend hours looking at them all and easily spend the day here. You can taste the dust in the last hanger this is the oldest part of the museum and the staff are very keen to tell you anything you’d like to know.
For those with young’uns the outdoor play area is excellent. Very robust and complex climbing frames in various aviatory forms with slides and imaginary play for all ages.
It was quite hectic as it was half term but everyone rubbed along nicely and the only problem came when we had to go inside!
The museum has two cafes-the first I Hanger 1 is the smaller with mostly coffee and snacks. So if you want to buy lunch (we took a picnic) the bigger cafe is by the play area and has a lovely selection available. The coffee was great!
But the best thing was that there were no queues. Unlike a day trip to the Science museum for example, we weren’t able to look at everything and press all the buttons without elbowing to the front.
The weather was glorious on Thursday so we decided to take a trip into London. I’m also trying to find a venue for my big birthday coming up so it was a good excuse to get lunch in town too.
I’ve been promising the little fella a visit to a pirate ship since Christmas but just haven’t had the time. So half term is the perfect opportunity to make good on my promise.
The Golden Hinde is a replica of Captain Drake’s ship, the first to circumnavigate the world (between 1577-1580). Built in the 1970s this ship has been further than the original and you can learn all about it on their website .
In recent years the ship has been opened up more and more to visitors. There is a new entrance way and a video stream outside tells the story of her building using traditional materials. As she is nearly 50 years old, the ship is undergoing some repairs at the moment but this didn’t detract from our enjoyment.
The attendants all dressed up in Tudor sailors garb were very knowledgable and can do adjoining tours and answer questions fully. For £5 per person (or £15 for a family of 4) you pretty much get free reign of this beauty. We played with the cannon, heard about privateers versus pirates, the daily life of a sailor in the Tudor world and could take part in a story time.
I learned a few things to bring back to the classroom too. I didn’t know that the English only out gunned the Spanish because their reloading time was shorter! The English had iron cannon that cooled down and could be reloaded in around 5 minutes, while the Spanish cannon were mostly copper and took up to half an hour to cool. So despite having more guns they could only use them sparingly!
Anyway, all in all it was great value for money, the whole family learned something and it has inspired me to work on some lessons around the topic. Win win I say!
I hope you’ve had a relaxing half term and now I’m off to bed to recover before work tomorrow.