Thursday, 16 January 2014

A visit to the Museum of London Docklands

I had always wanted to go to the Museum of London Docklands, and finally had the opportunity to take my elder grandson, the Boy, now 3½ .  We met up at Westfield Stratford City, and after coffee and Babycinos we left the Daughter and Boy Too with her friends and their babies of roughly the same age as Boy Too, while the Boy and I made ourselves comfortable (he loved, as I knew he would, the loos in the parent/child room there, which have a big one and a little one in the same space so you can pee comfortably together, and then two wash-basins at varying heights so you can wash your hands together, too.  But there was no way to dry them ("We'll have to shake!" said the Boy) until you got out and there were some paper towels in the nappy-changing area.

We set off on the DLR to West India Quay and then walked to the Museum. I thought at first we had gone the wrong way, but Google navigation soon confirmed we were right.  However, when we arrived it was about 11:30 am and we were told that the children's play area - which is very, very well-reviewed - did not open until 2:00. We hired an activity backpack, but much of the stuff was too young for him - a couple of very easy puzzles, and a book that he dismissed, scornfully, as suitable for his baby brother.  There were some binoculars, though, which he loved, a friendly dolphin finger puppet, ditto, and some shapes which you were supposed to match, but he didn't fancy that.

I think I would have enjoyed the museum better without him.  It wasn't very suitable for young children, as there was an awful lot of reading, and I think you had to know about things coming in big ships and how they used to come to London.  However, he liked the mock-up of Old London Bridge, and showed me which house he would like to live in!  And he liked a lot of the model ships, and was very, very brave when it came to Sailortown, a reconstruction of how the sailors would have lived back in the day, which was very dark and gloomy and spooky, and he hated it, so we came out - and then he insisted on going back in for another go, even though it was scary. He also loved - so did I - the boxes of spices, tea, coffee and sugar that were there to be looked at and sniffed and identified.  The cloves smelt gorgeous!

We had a very disappointing lunch in the café - expensive and my salad was incredibly dry and nasty, and my tomato quiche was very odd, although not unpleasant.  I wish I'd chosen a sandwich that looked nice, but it didn't happen.  The Boy had a "kiddies' sandwich" - cheese in white bread - and a pirate chocolate (we thought it was cheese) which was disappointing by being merely a lump of chocolate, not printed like the chocolate coins he got for Christmas and has been enjoying.

Then we went back home via the DLR, the Central Line and the W16 bus, and arrived home a good 45 minutes before the others.  "I expect Mummy's doing boring shopping!" said the Boy.  So we made ourselves drinks and another cheese sandwich as we were still hungry.  Not the most satisfactory day out ever, alas, but not the worst.

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