So, it was a certain boy’s birthday on Saturday and birthdays mean fun days out to see the dinosaurs! Yes, Nathan was 32 last week and very excited he was too. We’ve been meaning to go to the Natural History Museum for a long time but insane queues during the school holidays put us right off. A Saturday seemed little better but it seemed worth a shot…
It was still crazy-busy, don’t get me wrong. We didn’t need to queue for long to get in but there was a certain shuffle through everywhere. If you’re off during the week with a toddler, that would seem like the logical time to go but not if you get into trouble for seeing the dinos sans husband (I speak from bitter experience). Did the dinos live up to expectations? Well, yeah. They were as I remembered them as a kid (and briefly last March). More realistic than the ones in Crystal Palace anyways. Roo pointed at them and said “Rawr!”, which is as good a reaction as you could hope for and Nathan pointed at them and said “Rawr!” as well, which is an even better reaction than you could hope for. Roo was particularly entranced (and not even a little freaked out) by the giant T-Rex.
Of course, some of this is hearsay, seeing as I wasn’t really with my boys in the dino walkway. I was bringing up the rear, with the pushchair, behind a wall of tourists. And there lies one of the major flaws of the Natural History Museum with a toddler. It’s kinda accessible but pretty tricky with a pushchair. I wanted to just park the buggy like we do at the Science Museum but there was nowhere to really do that. You can leave pushchairs in the cloakroom but they have to be folded and stupidly, I had a whole load of stuff in the bottom of ours that couldn’t really be decanted into any other containers e.g. spare shoes for Nathan (I know!), so the pushchair had to stay with us. And it wasn’t easy. The lift to get up to the dino walkway will take one buggy, no more (and I have tried), so there’s a queue at all times. You can’t really stop on the walkway at the top, so if you split up like we did, you just end up miles behind your husband and toddler. The walkway is also so narrow that you can’t really make up the time by going round people, you just kinda have to ram them out of the way. Not that I would. Ahem.
I don’t know what I’d suggest really. It’s just easier not to have a buggy (i.e. think this through beforehand and have it in a foldable state for the cloakroom) but if you have a child that’s between slingable (for most people, I’m not talking about you super-strong BLW-ers) and easily walking, a buggy is kinda essential. It would be impossible for NHM to make things any better without making major changes and I guess it’s all more aimed at older kids but the fact remains that there were lots of buggys trying to use the walkway and lots of buggys struggling.
So, on the other side of that crowded, sweaty experience was the dino shop. Yeh! That should allow Mummy a clear ten minutes’ sitdown while Daddy buys the boy anything his tiny heart desires. Job was -as they say- a good ‘un. Nice sitdown for me, new and posable diplodocus for Reuben. Everyone’s a winner.
So, what else is there to do at the NHM apart from seeing the dinos? Well, there’s the mammal hall, with the giant whale (see above), whih is impressively big but could probably do with a touch-up here and there. Roo enjoyed seeing all the animals but there wasn’t a lot for him to actually do, except a few button pressing-bits. Again, I think it’s probably aimed at older children cause it’s quite hands-off and toddlers are essentially not just hands-on but hands-all-over and preferably -in. Again, I struggled with the lift as I couldn’t quite get it to work for a while. But eventually I joined my boys on the balcony for an aerial look at the whales below. Then a quick trip to the aquatic section to see Professor Inkling (of Octonauts fame) and to learn – on a similarly Octonautical theme – that barnacles have a penis that extends to 30 times the size of their body. I’ll leave you with that visual image…
VERDICT: We had a nice day out and both boys loved seeing the dinosaurs but requires a bit of pre-planning where buggys are concerned..,Probably one that’s best for slightly older children, as they will get much more out of it.