Today we went to the countryside. Well, Bethnal Green. Even by my somewhat loose definitions of countryside, I think Zone 2 of East London is stretching it a bit. But Eva, AKA She Who Must Not Be Argued With, is taking this to extremes I’d never even imagine and it was her that said “This whole place looks like the countryside. It’s full of grass and open space”. We were admittedly in a park at the time – Bethnal Green Gardens – but with police vans and double deckers overtaking each other on Cambridge Heath Road it wasn’t exactly the pastoral idyll she was describing.
Then it started to rain. So we left the countryside and went to the Museum of Childhood, which was a favourite haunt of ours from backadays when Reuben was small and Eva was probably barely a dot. I even went there on my birthday once. I hadn’t been there for ages though and Eva hasn’t been there since Thursday, when we went with her school. In what is rapidly becoming a recurring pattern, we had to revisit to see all the bits she’d missed. This is also how we ended up at the Science Museum during the Easter holidays, although it was Reuben that had been on a school trip that time and had distinguished himself by getting into the newsletter as the child who cried when it was time to leave. Hence the need for a return visit that I didn’t even blog about cause yknow, how many times have we been to the Science Museum? Enough for now, I think.
So we were retreading Eva’s steps from two days ago and she was keen to girlsplain all the things she’d found that I already knew about. Like the rocking horses, which she said were “scary but cool”:
And the Punch and Judy show next to the indoor sandpit:
We might not have been for ages but it hadn’t changed much. The sensory area was still the cool place to hang out:
And kids were still fighting over who got to drive the wooden car, though I think it may have changed from a police car to an ambulance in the last five years or so.
Of course, the most fun game at the Museum of Childhood is spotting the toys that you yourself played with, back in the 1980s. No quicker way to make yourself feel aged than to see your favourite Sylvanian Families behind glass as a museum piece. There were clearly some more contemporary exhibits though, such as the Harry Potter lego that Eva’s friend Lucas had taken a shine to on the school trip. And these X-Men figures where Nightcrawler seems to be doing some kind of jazz hands:
Seeing as we’d committed to hang out for the afternoon, I decided to co-opt H’sMama and H into coming with us. They’d not been before, so Eva took great pride in showing H everything. She was very taken with the She-Ra toys and everyone loved the therapeutic thrill of the table with the magnets and the iron filings:
Both girls enjoyed playing with the dollhouses on the top floor as well:
Dollhouses were something of a theme at the museum – Eva had told me that she ate her lunch inside a giant dollhouse, which seemed unlikely but I think she meant that she’d gone down the stairs behind the dollhouse display in the front lobby. She also said that the dolls were a bit scary, which I’d agree with but most dolls are, aren’t they? Certainly the dollhouse village where “it is always night” didn’t stop me feeling that way about dolls.
At one point, we popped out for some fresh air and ended up in the garden of the nearby Gallery Cafe. It’s a vegetarian/vegan cafe but it did a very acceptable cupcake and the outside area was perfect for the girls to have a runaround. Not that it was ideal picnic weather but it wasn’t snowing, so things are looking up.
I definitely needed a giant coffee and a hit of sugar and it revitalised us enough to go back to the museum until we got kicked out at 5:30 by a man ringing a bell. Seems like the Museum of Childhood is still enough of a draw to entertain kids for the afternoon even when they’re no longer toddlers who can just run up and down the stairs for hours. The temporary space was closed when we went so I’m sure we’ll revisit when the new exhibition opens.