We are 75% of the way through this list. And summer’s not over yet, no no. Just because it was dark this morning and Roo’s back at school and I’ve just written a post about Christmas…none of that means I can’t carry on with this summer project. Especially when it lends itself to such a gloomy day as Saturday was.
We drove there and back because it’s just down the North Circular now but it seems pretty close to Colindale tube if you’re on public transport. It was signposted from the A406 – admittedly in a different way to that which Google suggested, but Nathan did an expert last-minute lane change so that was fine. And we got to drive past the Art Deco temple that is Hendon Central tube as well, which is a rare treat.
Of course, given that we were driving, it was perhaps inevitable that both kids would fall asleep on the way. So it was a confused and grumpy Reuben that we tipped out into the car park at Hendon (car parking is £3 for 3 hours or £4 for 4..but museum entry is free). It was a grey and gloomy kind of day so I hurried ahead with Eva in the buggy and got all three of our bags checked, while Reuben and Nathan trailed behind. Then they didn’t appear. Then they still didn’t appear. Then they called to ask where we were. They were next to the big aeroplanes, apparently, but not the same big aeroplane we were next to. Turns out they’d wandered into the Battle of Britain Hall while we’d made what I thought was a sensible choice and headed for the main entrance. Eventually we were reunited and followed the signs to the exhibition halls, only to see a big flight of steps, so we turned around and found the lift. We got in it, only to get straight back out again the other side, in the exhibition hall. I’m sure there was an easier way, and I’m guessing the big flight of steps led to the balcony, for optimum plane-viewing….but I was a little confused. We did find this adorable dog on the way though:
Aww! We went though the first room fairly quickly because both kids liked looking at the aeroplanes but there wasn’t much for them to do, and they are quite hands-y. So, we disappeared down a white tunnel into the next building:
My main target was the Aeronautes Interactive Centre, but there was a lot for them to see on the way. Reuben asked lots of questions about the planes, which would have made Bang very proud:
While my total girl-cliche liked the plane that was covered in crochet:
And anything that came in “yeyyow”:
They both liked the Chinook that you could go inside, complete with sound effects (we unleashed Eva from her buggy at this point) but then Reuben had a small meltdown about being clearly too small for the flight stimulator. It was time to find the interactive bit. Happily, we were just outside it. And what fun there was!
There were wooden planes and helicopters to play on, a handglider, aeroplanes to sit in and steer and a lot of hands-on Science Museum-type things. One showed how fibre optic cables worked, with a number of small plastic rods you had to connect together and get the light shining through (Reuben had to be removed from that one so that Nathan could solve the puzzle in peace). Another one involved some jets of air and a beachball and some basketball hoops. Then there were wind machines, circuits to build and lots of other things. It’s the kind of thing that my nephews would enjoy, and they’re 9 and 11 (I think). At the same time, it was more than suitable for Eva. She occupied one seat in the helicopter and demanded that Reuben “come and sit ‘ere” so they could fly it together:
But she also liked sitting in the big plane with her Daddy:
If this all sounds exhausting, it was. Coffee beckoned. It was 3ish by now, and the cafe didn’t have a lot of cakes left so we got some blondies which were a lot underwhelming but perfectly eatable. I may also have found some mini muffins in the kids’ snack boxes. It’s not cool to BYO cake to cafes now, is it? Don’t do it just cause we did. I did buy Roo some apple juice and Eva a glass of milk:
Feeling refreshed, the kids ran off to play again but our 3 hours of parking were starting to run out and we still had a whole other hall to see. It took some persuasion, but we eventually got them to move towards the exit and gift shop. It took more persuasion to get them to move through the gift shop without buying any sweets or toys. Along the way we saw a real plane you could sit in. The people in front of us took ages on their turn, and a queue had built up by the time Roo and Eva got in, so they didn’t have a long go. But long enough for a photo:
Sad to say, we rushed the Battle of Britain Hall a bit. I would have liked to linger a bit more but the parking was running out, so we skimmed a bit. Nathan was totally freaked out by a mannequin in the Blitz scene that had a moving face projected onto it.Reuben just really, really wanted to go on this giant seaplane:
I stayed at the bottom with the buggy while Nathan took both kids up the steps and round through the nose of the plane. Apparently there was some squeezing through a small door to get onto it, and then Roo ran through in about five seconds flat. But it was totally worth it.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from the RAF Museum – I had an inkling that there would be fun stuff to do, but I’d totally failed to find the details on their website. I was a little worried it would be very hands-off, but actually it was great for kids and there’s a chance they may have actually learnt something too. I should know, as I seem to have the mentality of a 5-year-old. By which I mean I’m closing on this photo: