Today, I took the kids to a museum. Are you shocked yet? No? OK, this post won’t actually shock anyone in any way. I just thought it was a great picture to post at the top of the post. It actually refers to the electric eel exhibit at the Amazon Adventure and if you hold two metal bolts you can experience just how shocking electric eels can be. I wasn’t tempted, to be honest.
So, you may have noticed by now that we have an enthusiastic Octonauts fan in the house. Sadly he wasn’t really old enough to remember it when we met Captain Barnacles, but he does sometimes look at that photo and wistfully tell me he wants to go and meet an Octonaut again. Just wait till Tree Fu Tom on Friday, Roo! In the meantime, in lieu of an actual Octonaut, how about recreating that New Year’s Day episode? You know – the one you’ve watched literally* ten thousand times already? What’s it called?
I think someone at the Horniman Museum may know, given that their new exhibit shares the same name. Amazon Adventure has just opened and is on till November. It’s £6 for adults and £3 for kids (over 3) and we booked online, which I was grateful for as soon as we got there and saw the ma-hooo-sive queue at the ticket office.
I’m not going to sugar-coat this, as a Saffa friend used to say. Half-term at the Horniman is PACKED. Not just a little bit. There are children everywhere. I felt bad for anyone who turned up without kids, but consider this a warning if you’re childless and fancy going to the Horniman on a weekday lunchtime – check it’s not half-term. I really can not overstate how many kids there were. It was fine for us with a 9-month-old and a 3.5-year-old and it was fine for my friend Xanthe, who had a 13-month-old and a 22-month-old (not both hers) with her. But if I was a childless type I think I might have freaked right out at the sight of it.
Anyway, onto the Adventure! Sorry, as always, for the dark and grainy photos. I only had CrapBerry with me and it was a bit dimly-lit in there. The exhibit was an easy sell for Roo, thanks to the aforementioned Octonauts episode, and there was a lot for him to do. He enjoyed matching the stingrays to their camouflage environments (see above), and then jumping on them. He also enjoyed the big stage area, with a box of dressing-up clothes with an amazon theme. Look, here he is with his fish tail on:
The bit he kept obsessing over was the giant anaconda, which weighed 60lbs. The challenge was to lift it and funnily enough he couldn’t do that on his own. He co-opted me and then Xanthe in to help, but even the 3 of us couldn’t do it. So he just ran about, shouting “I need help! I can’t lift the An-a-con-da!”. Hopefully that means he’ll never try to lift a real anaconda (they’re more like 200lbs).
They also had a tank of plastic sea creatures with gloves you put your hands in to pick the creatures up (kinda like a radiation tank, but with sea creatures…well, maybe river creatures…). There were handy stools so that Roo-sized people could reach, which was a nice touch. There were tanks of real sea creatures, including real stingrays and there was a boat to play in.
Then we played the interactive quiz and scored 7/8, which I thought was pretty good for a 3-year-old. His answers were almost entirely based on the Octonauts episode. He enoyed himself and it was all nicely designed and hands-on. They were a bit unsure about Xanthe taking a buggy in, but with 2 under 2 and one of them sleeping, they made allowances for her.
We thought the cafe might be a *bit* crowded at lunch time, so we headed there at 11:30. It was already a *bit* crowded. Some would say a *lot* crowded. There were no tables available in the cafe, so we sat in the conservatory which wasn’t quite full yet. Roo wanted to come and queue with me and Eva, so he did that while Xanthe guarded our table.
Hmmm…queuing for 10 minutes with a hungry 3-year-old. Exactly as fun as it sounds. Still, I did warn him. Carrying things out to the conservatory would have been an issue, but they serve food to your table so that made life a lot easier. There was also a catering van-thing on the front lawn, serving tea and cakes if you wanted those and that had no queue.
We sat down to eat, when Xanthe’s toddler woke up. He needed the loo, so she left her borrowed baby with me while she took him. Borrowed baby was in the highchair, Roo had his own chair and Eva was sitting on my lap. Borrowed baby and Eva were sharing a bowl of homous and pitta bread and cherry tomatoes. Roo was happily eating his cod goujons and chips. What could spoil this peaceful scene?
Ah yes, the magic words – “I need a wee-wee”
Really? Now? I considered the logistics – could I make it to the loos with borrowed baby, Eva and Roo through that crowded cafe? Could I figure out borrowed baby’s Opitai and put him on my back with Eva on my front? What about Xanthe’s valuables? I weighed up all the options.
“Reuben. Hold it” I said
He held it. We went to the loo. We had some more lunch. He wanted his coat. I went to get it. We had some more lunch. I estimate I walked through that cafe 5 times, with Eva tucked under my arm. But somehow we got all children fed, in one way or another.
After lunch, we had a romp around the grounds then Roo, Eva and I went to the aquarium. Cause we have annual passes and I like to use them. Eva had fallen asleep and woke up in front of the coral reef tank. I tried telling her to go back to sleep cause there was nothing to see here. But the tropical fish and brightly coloured coral suggested there was something for her to see here, so she stayed awake. Once we’d found the others, we went to the interactive bit of the instrument gallery and hit pipes with flip-flops:
And scraped toads with sticks:
Then Reuben had a meltdown about not being allowed back into Amazon Adventure, so it was time to go home. He fell asleep on the bus, clutching a packet of pombears, and only woke up 2 and a half hours later. Clearly all the excitement had worn him out. Eva, on the other hand, screamed most of the way home. I wondered why she was getting her knickers in a twist until I got her home and discovered she’d got her knickers in a twist. Poor girl.
VERDICT: A fun exhibition for your aquatic enthusiast, and worth going as there’s so much else to see too. Avoid half-term and holidays if you’re not keen on hordes of children.
We were there yesterday Kate, couldn’t get inside but the gardens were fab.
I know you were there! Wanna know how I know?
How come you couldn’t get inside??
Hi what age would you say the amazon adventure is suitable for? Looks fun!
Hi Gemma Reuben is 3.5 and he loved it. The babies seemed interested but it wouldn’t really be worth going just for the. The neaarly 2-year-old was asleep, unhelpfully! Lots of older kids in there too as there’s lots of information to read and the screens to interact with. Really suitable for all ages, adults included but if you just had under 2s I’d probably just go to the free bits of the Horniman!
I was there yesterday too! We didn’t go to the exhibition, just the ridiculously busy rest of it….managed to bag a table for 4 adults and 7 children by getting to the cafe at 11.15. It was practically empty, then at 11.23 precisely, half of south-east London piled in and took all the places. It was crazy!
You may well have seen me charging through the cafe a few times then! I had a baby under one arm and I looked like an unkempt madwoman (ie no different to usual!). Glad you agree just how crazy it was! RFH today wasn’t much quieter…,but that’s another story…
Pingback: Imagine Children’s Festival – 20/02/13 | London With a Toddler