Friday, August 02, 2013
Grand Days Out
From Essex we have easy access to London, and one of the things we did on our trip was to visit the Bank of England Museum. First of all it's free, and I mean really free - there's no one trying to get you to cough up a 'contribution' as you walk through the door. You have a thorough security search however (no, not THAT thorough), after which you can make your way inside to learn all about inflation, the history of currency, and try and lift a gold bar. This is very handy if you ever thought of robbing a bank to steal its gold. Let me tell you, gold bars are VERY heavy, so you'll need strong bags, trolleys and vans. Remember the ending of 'The Italian Job'...
There are lots of hands-on activities for flippant teenagers who don't have the attention span sufficient to read the information panels, and despite breezing through without seemingly touching the ground, the ones I went with had a great time. Their favourite moments were competing to put together magnetic jigsaws of oversized bank notes, and doing the computer quiz without having discovered the answers en route. Meanwhile, I went around and read lots of stuff and found it very interesting.
Another day we went to the Royal Gunpowder Mills at Waltham Abbey on 'Secret Island'. This was a brilliant day out. We (my mum and us) met up with my brother and his family (kids same age), and they had a lot of fun. We started off learning how to make gunpowder, and I read the panels on the history of gunpowder manufacture, then it was on to the armoury where we could handle a number of guns, and try on military outfits including a bearskin. My boys were in heaven.
Our tickets gave us tokens for an airsoft range and kiddy archery target practice, plus the opportunity for the kids to make their own rocket and fire it on the firing range using compressed air. They had a wonderful time firing their rockets and chasing after them. There was also a water/compressed air rocket to fire up, and fun science sessions with Professor Nitrate who showed us experiments with fire and rockets. Brilliant. We also went on a ride on a military truck into the more secret parts of the 'island' and saw some deer, and visited the exhibition on life in the 40s with mock shop/Post Office, Anderson shelter, and home life. I recognised a number of the items both in the shop and in the homes!
We had lunch in the caff which took a long time coming but the bacon sarnies were tasty and not expensive. My eldest said the burger was tasteless however. I bought lunch for the 4 of us for less than £20.
Our other day out was to use up our tickets for the Historic Dockyard at Chatham. Last year I bought a year's ticket for us all as we didn't have time to visit the whole place, so we went back last week to see everything else. We took sarnies which I had to carry although they have a caff there, but I didn't see what the prices were beforehand so preferred to take our own lunch and have a picnic.
We got round all that we hadn't seen - the lifeboats, the ropery, the exhibitions, the smithery and the military vehicles. There was filming on HMS Gannet, the sailing ship, about the painter Turner, with lots of faffing about from the look of things. We didn't actually see any cameras so maybe they were just preparing the ground. Anyway, it meant the ship was out of action for visits but that didn't matter as we'd visited it last year.
My youngest made some rope in the ropery, and was interested in the exhibition on model ships some of which were made by Napoleonic prisoners using bones from their meals and sold to earn money. There was also a brilliant exhibition on Arctic explorers where you could try on the kit and sit inside a tent. The staff were all helpful and interesting, especially the guys in the ropery and model ship exhibition. It is so worth the money because there's enough for a whole day out and more. There's a nifty shop too.
My mother had left a pamphlet from Sussex in my bedroom giving information about days out there, and similarly, there were loads of things to see and do.
Well done all the places we went to for appealing to the difficult teen age group. We had a marvellous time.