Wednesday, 11 July 2012
A Momentous Occasion
Last Sunday we went to the Natural History Museum.
It was the first time we had been there with Eleanor* and to be honest we were probably more excited than she was.
After all, she only knew that we were going to go to a museum with dinosaurs, we were going to take our little girl to the Natural History Museum.
A moment like that deserves its own soundtrack: something deep and impressive and full of major chords, some that makes Thus Spake Zarathustra sound like Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?
It deserves to be announced on the national news, on the World Service, on a specially recorded beam transmission to be directed into space in order to make contact with alien life and tell them all about the day our eldest daughter met a diplodocus.
It deserves an all-caps, bold, underlined, italicised proclamation: THE NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM!
It was wonderful.
The Museum has changed somewhat since last we were there but there's still a fossilised tree** in the grounds, and the walls are still covered with marvellous stone animals.
More importantly: the first thing you see when you go in is still a skeletal diplodocus.
His name is Dippy.
Eleanor liked him very much.
Before she could be introduced to Dippy, Eleanor had to be equipped with her Explorer's Backpack, which the museum provides free of charge for young visitors.
Each of the backpacks, which come complete with pith helmets and binoculars: the better to explore with, contains a set of activities for one section of the museum.
Eleanor chose the Mammals backpack which, naturally enough, required us to pay lots of attention to the stuffed specimens in the Animals Gallery.
Those animals have always given me the creeps***.
The actual activities were excellent: the first involved identifying a mystery animal from clues provided (a set of teeth, a claw and a piece of fur) the second was about spotting the differences between a real jaguar and a picture of one (the difference seems to be that the cartoon had not been removed for cleaning) and the third was a game of Name that Mammal.
Eleanor loved it, creepy stuffed animals and all.
She also loved the fossilised dinosaurs, and the model dinosaurs (which she persisted in seeing as "baby ones"), and the animatronic dinosaurs once she had got away from them.
She was then quite affectionate towards a demonstration on prehistoric plant-life, some model dinosaur nests with actual model-baby-dinosaurs and the step-by-step display on palaeontology.
She claimed to be rather fond of the display on the human body too, but she was flagging by then and wanted to go home.
So we had lunch.
Which she loved.
After lunch she was good enough to demonstrate her tenderness towards the Arthropod Gallery, in order that Richard should get his share of the shuddering heeby jeebies too.
Then we wandered through the shop (everything in which, we were assured, she would love), handed in her backpack, and as she was tired, decided to skip the Science Museum and head back to our hotel.
*Or Phoebe for that matter.
I don't think she was terribly impressed though.
** The tree is behind a glass wall these days though.
This made me rather sad.
***Where the word creeps is used to denote the screaming abdabs.