We’ve been meaning to go to Suntrap for a long time. And when I say we, I mean me. The kids have both been there on school trips and so were talking knowledgeably about the invertebrate room with all the superiority that a 5-year-old and an 8-year-old can muster. So when I saw that Suntrap were having an open day, with free shuttle buses form Chingford station…well, we were in. Nathan was off to buy a new stereo and despite not wanting to come with us, Eva saw Suntrap as a lesser evil than Currys. Roo, in contrast, was “10 out of 10 excited” to be going back to Suntrap so at least he was on board with the whole plan.
The shuttle bus from Chingford was one of those thing that sounded easier than it actually proved to be. No one quite knew whereabouts the bus would go from but a small crowd of us gathered on the main road, opposite the Station House pub and that turned out to be correct. The departure time passed and the small crowd grew bigger so I was starting to worry that we’d missed it but no, a 70-seater coach rolled up and it wasn’t long before we were cruising through the Essex countryside, enjoying the contrast of a flower-bedecked church next to a pile of mattresses. Almost before the kids starting moaning, we were at Suntrap.
he first activity the kids wanted to try was the pond dipping. There were nets and trays and microscopes, for close examination of the pond life but Eva was mainly interested in in examining her own hand:
Roo was more interested in how much pond weed he could fit into his net and dump into the tray. But he’d brought his own binoculars and notebook with him, so that showed an enquiring mind. Somehow, we managed to scoop something that looked alive and wasn’t just a fancy acorn:
Next up was the low ropes course, which was 50p for Roo and free for Eva. I’m not sure how the system was worked out but I didn’t begrudge paying for one of them. They got three lives to complete the course and Roo did it twice with no lives lost. Eva needed all three of hers but then her legs are pretty tiny.
Talking of no lives lost, I dithered for a while about letting Eva fry her own pancake over a campfire while wearing a dress that was both dangly and flammable. Eventually, I went with caution and she made pancakes in her coat and leggings. I occasionally manage something approaching good parenting. Of course, a better parent wouldn’t have let her wear a nylon fairy dress to the forest in the first place, but it seems to be all she wants to wear at the moment and I have to wrestle her into school uniform five days a week so yknow, anything for an easy weekend.
Fuelled by pancakes, we went to do some crafting inside. We gathered some leaves for Eva to make an owl picture. She was very pleased with herself:
Roo struggled a bit more with his origami pigeon. It took two of us and several attempts to get anything that even vaguely resembled a bird:
Having concentrated so hard, the kids needed a runaround. We found some other HP kids and they all piled into a tree together, except Eva who chose to sit and look dramatic for a bit:
But then she piled into a tree with the rest.
We were running out of time before the 4:30 coach back to Chingford but I needed cake, so we had a quick trip to the tearoom before a bit more pond dipping and then back up to the invertebrate room. There was one last thing Reuben wanted to do before we left and I was only slightly reluctant. OK, so I was full-body-shuddering all the time but he was more than content with the “very friendly corn snake” wrapped around him like a belt.
And on that note we headed back to semi-civilisation. Happy 50th birthday Suntrap!