Tuesday, February 20, 2007

What an awesome day!

When asked what she would like to do for her birthday our youngest announced she didn't really want a party this year but would rather go out as a family for the day taking a couple of her closest friends.
During further discussions it was agreed that Bristol zoo was to be the likely destination
This was until a news item appeared on television about a rare shark that had been caught and older examples of it preserved in alcohol in glass jars were shown at the Natural History Museum in London
Louise is probably our most interested news hound and watches most current affairs type programmes with great fascination. She can always tell you what is currently in the news and this particular article really took her fancy. Wistfully she said quietly to herself 'I'd really love to go there'
So it was decided - a day in London with the purpose of visiting the Natural History Museum it was.
We drove to the outskirts of London and took the tube in arriving at the museum at around midday, just in time to eat our picnic lunch.
We'd browsed the website previously so I knew that it would be possible to visit the museum's neighbouring building the Darwin Centre to look at just a handful of the over 22million specimens in their care.
Having to book in advance I phone from the train on the way in and arranged a visit at 3pm. This was the part of the museum Louise wanted to see most.
Unfortunately there was a bit of a mix-up and our guide failed to collect us at the allotted time - there were some glum faces thinking that we'd missed our opportunity but the museum staff were fantastic and organised a special curator to take us round on an individual tour. An italian lady called Carmen was our guide and she was terrific with the kids pitching the commentary at exactly the right level to keep them enthralled.
This all just happened to coincide with a private visit by a lady who had worked for Speedo swimwear - she wanted to see the basking shark specimens on which they'd based their 'sharkskin fabric' for competition swimwear. She was accompanied by the Fish Curator Oliver Crimmon who had helped with the fabric's development.
On the back of their visit then we got to see some of the larger specimens in the stainless steel tanks which the general public never usually set eyes on - awesome!!! And on the subject of large the long glass tank behind the scientist houses a giant squid caught off the Falkland Islands measuring in at 18 feet long - amazing. This building, as the name implies, also houses a good number of Charles Darwin's original specimens from the voyage of The Beagle when he wrote 'The Origin of the Species'. Sarah is currently studying this area of science at school so it added real pertinence to her visit.
It was a wonderful day - the building which houses the museum is more like a cathedral than anything else - in fact for adults they do a tour solely to look at the finer features of the architecture - another time maybe...........
All the kids (big and small) thoroughly enjoyed the visit - they had to throw us out at 5.50pm when they were locking up and we still had probably seen only just over half of it. I do so wish we lived a bit nearer the capital so could take advantage of all the free entry museums in the city without a major expedition to get there
Pizza Hut all round once back at the car meant the journey home took us until 11pm - so as you can imagine there are some very tired little bunnies draped round the house today.
Sunday afternoon saw Louise at cub camp, Nick with friends and Sarah with her boyfriend which freed Nigel and I up to go off for a walk completely on our own. We love our kids but everyone knows you can have too much of a good thing, so it's always great to have a little time together on our own - especially if it's something a little more interesting than a trip to the supermarket.
On the edge of the Quantocks up behind our house the National Trust and the Somerset Wildlife Trust jointly look after the gardens of a demolished mansion Fyne Court. We tend to use it as our 'extended back garden' as it is less than 10 minutes drive away and there is only a nominal donation of £1 for parking so it's a lovely wander with little expense. They do make the most awesome cream teas there during the summer so it's a good job the walk cancels out some of the calories.
At present the snowdrops are beautiful and we actually managed to remember the camera - a feat in itself :o)
On the stitching and blogging front I've been pretty quiet - life has been so hectic this past week - but in and among it all I have managed to do a bit more applique on my green and pink random quilt - sorry this next photo shows up that I didn't bother to press this particular block
I keep reading round all the blogs and saving some of your pictures to work as inspiration for more blocks and panels for this particular piece of work.
As my sister-in-law's baby is due in just over three weeks I really must get myself organised to sandwich and quilt the 'natural hessian' number in readiness - where is that sandwich fairy when you want her?


Screen Door said...

I definitely want the fence and garden gate. It's good to see "green" on the ground. We're still covered in white.

Fiona said...

Those snowdrops are spectacular - did you take any close-ups? They are such a delicate flower.

Mrs. Goodneedle said...

Ah... the elusive sandwich fairy must be on vacation; again! Lovely photos, what a fun day at the museum, memories to savor!

Lily said...

What an amazing day Anne! I bet Louise will remember this birthday for a long time. You may not live near the capital, but hey it's a 24hr flight for me!!

Sounds like your 'extended back garden' is an enchanting place - just the scene for a romantic walk sans kiddlywinks!

Well done on a brilliant weekend.

And oooh your applique is coming along beautifully :)

Diana said...

How lucky to get such a great tour of a great museum. It's one of those experiences that kids remember for years and years. The flowers are lovely--I wish spring were so close around here!

Libby said...

What a spectacular day - thanks for sharing it.

Patti said...

What a wonderful, special day for all of you!